Thursday, January 31, 2013, 12:00 PM
Russell E. Saltzman on finding his inner gun owner:
I am getting in touch with my inner gun owner, that primal part of my reptilian brain that says “I must weaponize.” Blame it on the Obama administration, I say. The president’s proposals of firearm abatement got me thinking: If I don’t get to a gun store soon, there won’t be anything left for me. So I joined the big rush and visited three gun stores last week but, dang, they were each nearly empty. I was too late. The gun nuts beat me to the cache.
Also today, Michael W. Hannon on water polo and its surprising relevance for marriage:
Back in high school, I played a sport that most people have encountered, if at all, only in the Olympics. It is an athletic game both exhilarating and exhausting, and while I would probably drown if I tried to play it again now, still I count my adolescent water polo career among my life’s greatest blessings. The lessons I learned in the pool might turn out to be particularly relevant today, and in a surprising fashion. For understanding water polo can, I contend, help us to understand a far more important human institution: marriage.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 12:00 PM
Jon A. Shields on debating Roe’s legacy:
In response to recent claims (including my own in First Things) that Roe aided pro-lifers in unexpected ways, Daniel Williams argues that such views are mistaken. The decision, according to Williams, neither hurt pro-choice momentum nor breathed new life into a fledgling right-to-life movement. Instead, it cut off public discussion over competing constitutional claims regarding the rights of women and unborn human organisms. In other words, Roe has no pro-life legacy.
Also today, George Weigel on marriage and the nature of things:
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago is, arguably, the most intellectually accomplished bishop in the history of the American episcopate. Earlier this year, when the Illinois legislature began to consider changing state law to “accommodate those of the same sex who wish to ‘marry’ one another” (as the cardinal put it), Professor George gave the readers of his column in the Chicago archdiocesan newspaper a lesson in metaphysics—and, I suspect, a high-voltage intellectual jolt . . .
Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 12:00 PM
Elizabeth Scalia wonders how we respond to “so what?”
The repeated thesis was simply this: “so what?” Such a disarming question; the sort of question society has long-regarded as adolescent, arrogant, disdainful, and yes, more than a little snotty. It is a question that conveys a dare in its follow-up, whether spoken or not: “Just what are you going to do about it?” In a three day period, I encountered three variations of this oddly innovative argument.
James R. Rogers on whether the U.S. Constitution is conservative:
First, the Constitution provides the rules to the political game. Consider the role of rules even in recreational games. The foul line, the distance from the pitcher’s mound to the batting box, the number of strikes or balls. None of these has an objectively reasonable prescription. Yet the games can be played only because of the rules—whatever they are. Made-up games of neighborhood children collapse quickly not because the games are intrinsically uninteresting (although they usually are), but because the creator usually can’t resist changing the rules in the middle of the game in his favor. Other children soon tire of the arguing and bargaining that substitutes for the playing, and they give up the game, exasperated.
Monday, January 28, 2013, 12:00 PM
R.R. Reno on freedom from religion:
For the most part intellectual techniques of critique help us break free. Elaine Pagels specializes in books that call orthodoxies into question. Why privilege the New Testament over the suppressed and supposedly heretical Gnostic gospels? When it comes to God, Pagels is pretty sure that the bishops and theologians of the church have misunderstood Her.
Also today, David Baggett and Tom Morris on a perfect God:
Yoram Hazony, author of The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, recently wrote a provocative opinion article for the New York Times in which he summarized his skepticism toward the idea of a perfect God. Hazony suggests that there are two compelling reasons why the God of classical theism should be rejected: first, reconciling the existence of evil with God’s omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence is too great a challenge. Second, he says, such a picture fails to match the Old Testament portrayal of God.
Friday, January 25, 2013, 12:00 PM
Wesley J. Smith on environmentalism’s deep misanthropy:
In recent years, deep misanthropy has seeped into the popular culture. For example, the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still starred Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, an alien come to earth to commit total genocide to “save the earth.” At the end, he shows “mercy” by stripping us of our technology—an event which, were it to actually occur, would result in billions of human deaths. Illustrating how times have changed, the 1951 original version had Klaatu on earth to save humans, not wipe us out.
Also today, Peter Augustine Lawler responds to Patrick Deneen:
Patrick Deneen is right to have raised questions over several years about whether American liberal democracy is sustainable. He’s not, of course, the first to do so. Conservatives, maybe beginning with Edmund Burke, have often understood liberalism as a kind of self-obsessive individualism that has the potential to consume the social and relational institutions that make human life worth living. Liberalism contains the seeds of its own destruction.
Thursday, January 24, 2013, 12:00 PM
Joe Carter on the Pentagon’s removing the ban on women in combat:
In response to the news I won’t offer an argument, only a lament. The arguments against allowing women in combat have for decades been made with force and vigor, but to no avail. Because the rational commonsense of the arguments cannot be effectively rebutted, they are dismissed and ignored. Long ago, we made equality our end, and this is the inevitable next stop on our long march. If that requires the sacrifice of our sisters and daughters, say the egalitarians, then so be it.
Also today, Leroy Huizenga on belonging to a martyr Church:
For me, learning deeply about Catholic and Orthodox Christianity and becoming Catholic involved a revelation of sorts, a conversion of the imagination: Christianity is a martyr’s faith, and we Christians all belong to a martyr Church. This is not just a matter of history, in which we see Christians murdered by Romans, barbarians, Muslims, other Christians, or French or Russian revolutionaries. It is a matter of theology: Christ is the Church, as St. Paul teaches in Ephesians, the Head of the Body, and Christ died willingly, suffering the extreme penalty for us at the hands of religion and State. Christ was a martyr, the Church is a martyr Church.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 12:00 PM
John Daniel Davidson asks, “Has American Fiction Lost Sight of God?”
In an article in the New York Times Book Review last month, Paul Elie ponders why Christian belief figures, “as something between a dead language and a hangover,” in current fiction. He observes that the literary heirs of Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy are strangely absent from the present class of MFA-credentialed young novelists now in vogue. And while Elie is right that it is a strange development, he misdiagnoses the reasons why.
Also today, George Weigel on forty years after Roe v. Wade:
Forty years ago, on Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade, one of the two worst decisions in its history. The court’s first mega-error, the 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, declared an entire class of human beings beyond the protection of the laws; Roe v. Wade declared another class of human beings, the unborn, beyond legal protection.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 12:00 PM
John Murdock on marching for life:
I was pro-life from a young age. Though hardly full of fiery zeal, there was no doubt where our family stood. Copies of the National Right to Life Committee’s newspaper could be found in our home, and my normally quiet father might snarl at the TV whenever Tom Brokaw gave some slanted report on “pro-choice” and “anti-abortion” efforts. “Pro-life, Tom! It’s a child, not a choice.” In the back of my mind, I may have naively assumed that’s how it was in most other houses in our rural East Texas county where Southern Baptist churches outnumbered filling stations.
Also today, Owen Strachan and Andrew Walker on the necessity of theological courage in the public square:
On the subject of religious controversy, 2013 started off with a bang, not a whimper. Hobby Lobby, the craft chain owned by a Christian couple, chose to defy the odious HHS mandate pioneered by the administration of President Barack Obama. This edict seeks to bring religious groups to heel by requiring all employers to cover contraception and abortifacients in their health-care plans. For its defiance, Hobby Lobby faces atmospheric fines of $1.3 million dollars per day.
And in our third feature, Richard John Neuhaus on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade:
Once again this year, the National Right to Life convention is partly a reunion of veterans from battles past and partly a youth rally of those recruited for the battles to come. And that is just what it should be. The pro-life movement that began in the twentieth century laid the foundation for the pro-life movement of the twenty-first century. We have been at this a long time, and we are just getting started. All that has been and all that will be is prelude to, and anticipation of, an indomitable hope. All that has been and all that will be is premised upon the promise of Our Lord’s return in glory when, as we read in the Book of Revelation, “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be sorrow nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And all things will be new.
Monday, January 21, 2013, 12:00 PM
Micah Mattix on the morality of modern cycling:
Last week, in an interview with Oprah, Lance Armstrong admitted what everybody already knew: that he took performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career. Last year, the head of USADA (United States Anti-Doping Association) stated that under Armstrong’s direction the U.S. Postal Cycling Team “ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” In October, Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from elite competition in Olympic sports.
Friday, January 18, 2013, 12:00 PM
Peter Leithart on men of steel and flesh:
Since Thetis dipped Achilles in the Styx, men (especially men) have dreamed hot dreams of invulnerability. The Greeks kept dreaming, but they knew these dreams couldn’t come true. Even Achilles—best of the Achaeans, half divine and a tornado of destruction in his aristeia, his moment of glory—this Achilles dies a pathetic death, ambushed and pierced by an arrow at his one narrow point of weakness. A heel of flesh marks the great gulf fixed between the glory of mortals and that of the immortal gods.
Also today, Robert P. George and Russell D. Moore on reacting to the Inaugural prayer incident:
In a post at CNN’s Belief Blog, a young Evangelical urged Christians to “shrug off” the fact that an Evangelical pastor was apparently disinvited by the President’s Inaugural Committee to pray at the inauguration because of his Christian convictions on sexual morality. We disagree.
Thursday, January 17, 2013, 12:00 PM
Russell E. Saltzman on wishing our way to doomsday:
I think we should blame President John F. Kennedy for National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers. It was his loose Cold War talk on nuclear survival that launched the doomsday survival business, I bet. He told Americans that if any of them expected to survive immediate annihilation from fire, blast, and vaporization in a thermonuclear exchange they stood a better chance of survival with a personal bomb shelter.
Also today, Leah Libresco on a nation of Valjeans:
The action in the musical version of Les Misérables begins when Jean Valjean is released from prison. After his release, his identity as a convict bars him from work, shelter, and human company, until he meets a saintly bishop, and his character arc kicks into gear. For the condemned in our prisons, there is no guarantee of a kindly bishop or an operatic epiphany. Released prisoners face the same kind of discrimination suffered by Valjean, with similarly tragic consequences.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 12:00 PM
Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. on evangelizing young adults:
The current White House, and many others in our nation’s leadership classes, have a very different understanding of religious liberty from what our country’s founders intended. As a result, I’ve thought a great deal about St. Thomas More. We revere the witness of Thomas More because we know his story. But the reason we know his story is the courage of his daughter Meg.
Also today, George Weigel on marriage and what states can’t do:
In his acute analysis of the character and institutions of the United States, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century French liberal, stressed the importance of what we call “civil society.” American democracy, Tocqueville understood, wasn’t just a matter of the state, here, and the individual, there. Between the state (or government) and the people there were the many free, voluntary associations that formed the sinews and musculature of America. Those free associations performed many essential social functions: they educated the young, served the poor, and cared for the sick.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 12:00 PM
Elizabeth Scalia on thinking respectable thoughts—or paying the consequences:
For Pastor Louie Giglio, a frequent visitor to the Obama White House in 2012, an invitation to pray the Inaugural benediction meant a spotlight on his efforts to end global human trafficking, an issue which deserves greater awareness. But it seemed some sermons of his from the 1990s were problematic; they suggested that there was a sinful element to homosexual behavior, and—even worse, by some measures—that Jesus could turn a gay man straight.
Also today, Robert Royal on France’s surprising resistance to gay marriage:
According to reports, one thousand buses were rented, five of the high-speed French TGV trains privately reserved to bring in people from all over the country. An imam from the north of France alone filled several dozen buses. And organizers had elaborate protocols worked out that advised marchers how to respond if confronted or attacked by the several gay militant groups who tried to disrupt previous demonstrations in November and December. There was even a comedian—Frigide Barjot—who got into the act leading the protesters.
Monday, January 14, 2013, 12:00 PM
William Doino Jr. on the Christian Witness of Roberto Clemente:
Watching Roberto Clemente play baseball was to have seen the game at its best, but to have known him as a man, and appreciate him as a leader, was even better. Forty years after his death, in a tragic plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972, Clemente’s stature only continues to grow. Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico on August 18, 1934, to Luisa and Melchor Clemente, Roberto was the youngest of seven siblings.
Also today, Louis Markos on Bilbo’s journey from grocer to hero and novel to screen:
In crafting The Hobbit, and later The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien surely had this biblical pattern at the forefront of his mind. By choosing Bilbo Baggins (and later Frodo) as the unlikely hero of his there-and-back-again adventure story, Tolkien makes it clear that there can be great strength in weakness and great wisdom in humility. The petit bourgeois Bilbo, with his love of simple creature comforts and his risk-aversive approach to life, seems wholly lacking in the qualities necessary for a hero. Yet a hero he becomes.
Friday, January 11, 2013, 12:00 PM
Wesley J. Smith on the coming public conflict over human cloning:
Ultimately, cloning would be the key that opens the door to countless other brave new world technologies, like one possible future procedure already termed “fetal farming,” whereby cloned fetuses would be matured in artificial wombs as sources of organs for transplant patients. Cloning is also the essential technology to learning how to genetically engineer human life, a technology with which “transhumanists” hope to create a “post-human species.” As the Princeton biologist Lee Silver, a cloning and human enhancement enthusiast, wrote in Remaking Eden: “without cloning, genetic engineering is simply science fiction. But with cloning, genetic engineering moves into the realm of reality.”
Also today, Louis Markos on loving the sinner without loving the sin:
I normally avoid documentaries that use questionable methods of Bible interpretation to promote the gay lifestyle as both natural and normative. For the Bible Tells Me So (2007), however, was not so easy to dismiss. Directed and co-written by Daniel Karslake, this manipulative yet compelling, slanted yet challenging documentary presents us not only with the expected attempts to reshape the Bible on a modern/postmodern lathe, but with the powerful, heart-breaking stories of five Christian, church-going families who are forced to deal with the reality of having an “out-of-the-closet” son or daughter.
Thursday, January 10, 2013, 12:00 PM
Leroy Huizenga on the new Philippians:
As the West goes ever faster through the process of de-Christianization, the Church approximates ever more the situation of the Church before Constantine, God’s people on earth challenging and converting the pagan culture and empire with which it was often at odds. Indeed, although we often think too romantically about it, the Church before Constantine endured persecutions great and small, official and unofficial, sporadic and sustained, local and universal.
Also today, Steven D. Greydanus stands against Frank Capra’s critics:
Perhaps the most beloved of Christmas movies, Frank Capra’s sleeper classic It’s a Wonderful Life has inevitably become a target of seasonal, iconoclastic culture-warmongering. As Christmas approaches, essays crop up in media outlets baldly inverting the film’s moral universe, ripping George Bailey and small-town Bedford Falls, and even rehabilitating villainous Mr. Potter and the nightmare alternative reality of Pottersville.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 12:00 PM
Collin Garbarino on the fiscal cliff and the fifth commandment:
The federal government paused at the edge of the fiscal cliff and decided to look before it leapt. Last week the Senate passed a compromise bill, which raised some taxes and postponed most discussion about spending cuts, and the House moaned and complained and finally decided to pass the bill too. Then President Obama had his autopen sign the bill into law, as he headed back to Hawaii to finish his Christmas vacation.
Also today, George Weigel on the marriage debate and confusions about ‘equality’ and ‘discrimination’:
DOMA defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law (it says nothing about what states may or may not define as marriage). Prop 8 was a voter-initiated correction of the California Supreme Court’s interpretation of that state’s constitution as containing a “right” to same-sex marriage. Irrespective of whether the U.S. Supreme Court takes a narrow approach to these cases, or tries to find a “right” to same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution that would be binding on all the states, the marriage debate will continue. Indeed, if the Court preempts the political process, the marriage debate will likely intensify, just as the right-to-life argument intensified after Roe v. Wade eliminated the abortion laws of every state, forty years ago this month.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 12:00 PM
Elizabeth Scalia on the Republicans’ atomic stupidity:
The GOP, even if they could figure out exactly what they want and then rouse themselves to something resembling tenacity, has no equivalent support, and would therefore be unable to successfully bring about their policy ideas by using Obama’s methods. As a college professor once informed me in bright red ink, “you cannot do mathematics if you don’t have all the numbers”, and any reconfiguration on the part of the GOP must acknowledge that, currently, the essential component of the press is unavailable to them; hence, their math will not work. . .
Also today, Nicholas Frankovich on fatherhood after Christmas:
“Call no one on earth your father,” Jesus teaches, “for you have one father, who is in heaven.” But the meaning of “father” would evaporate if there were no men to whom we could apply the term even in scare quotes. Traditional churches in particular act on that understanding. The Eastern Orthodox have patriarchs. Catholics have the Holy Father in Rome. They address their priests as “Father.”
Monday, January 7, 2013, 12:00 PM
R.R. Reno on First Things in 2013:
Readers very likely will not be surprised that I frequently write notes to myself about the nature and mission of First Things. The magazine is something of a cipher. It has a strong Catholic dimension, but it’s certainly not merely Catholic. Furthermore, we’re religious, but more than that. First Things has an important public significance, but we don’t offer the sort of political analysis one finds in many other journals. We’re hard to pin down, which I suppose is why Ross Douthat recently recommended us among the “eccentric” journals worth reading today.
Also today, Joseph Lindsley, Jr. on Notre Dame, our lady:
National Championship. Ever since it was announced that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Alabama Crimson Tide would play in the Bowl Championship Series title game Monday night, I’ve been trying to get my head around those two words. As a Notre Dame alumnus and lifelong fan, “national championship” sounds so foreign, so unreal, after decades of mediocre football with a few teases of success.
Friday, January 4, 2013, 12:00 PM
Peter J. Leithart on the process of writing a book:
Writing a book is like groping through a cave that no one else has explored or ever will, because you create the cave as you go. When it’s all done I can’t remember how I got through all the tunnels to emerge, blinking, into the sun. Once the book is published, readers will (I hope) be able to follow my simplified map. What they won’t see are all the blind alleys I tried out along the way.
Joshua Gonnerman on the causes of homosexuality:
The causes of homosexuality are infamously difficult to pin down. Science (in the American Psychological Association) and religion (in the Catechism of the Catholic Church) have agreed that, in the current state of things, there is no single cause to which we can definitively point and say, “Here, we have found it!” Indeed, in some circles, the discussion is about homosexualities, to remain open to the possibility that one person’s homosexuality might not have the same origin as another person’s homosexuality.
Thursday, January 3, 2013, 12:00 PM
Russell E. Saltzman asks what has Jesus done?
What would Jesus do? That’s pretty hard to say, but it doesn’t prevent people from speculating about it. The what-would-Jesus-do fad seems to have faded somewhat, but only after raking in multi-million dollar sales in WWJD bracelets, necklaces, lunch boxes, posters, Bibles, cross-stitching, cigarette lighters, refrigerator magnets, mood rings, and bumper stickers (I’m guessing he wouldn’t jump a left turn).
Also today, Tomas Bogardus wonders whether neurosurgeons can go to heaven:
In 2008, the Harvard-trained neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander was stricken with bacterial meningitis and sank into a seven-day coma. He was astonished to awaken with phosphorescent memories of, as he describes it, nothing less than an extended Technicolor trip to Heaven. Puffy pink clouds, angelic beings on butterfly wings, ineffable life lessons, pitch-black orbs that nevertheless dazzle with light: the whole shebang.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013, 12:00 PM
Matthew Walther on Orwell’s deathbed misreading of Evelyn Waugh:
Of the reissuing of classic British fiction, there seems to be no end—at least not this year. Lucky Jim and The Old Devils are finally back in print. A Dance to the Music of Time is out on Kindle. The Overlook Press continues to roll out volume after volume of its Wodehouse Collector’s series. Even poor neglected Barbara Pym has begun to wend her way daintily back onto the shelf, perhaps in advance of her upcoming centenary. But the real jewels in the crown are Little, Brown and Company’s new editions of Evelyn Waugh: fourteen novels and one collection of short fiction, all in hardcover, trade paperback, e-book, and MP3.
Also today, George Weigel on a Benedict XVI epiphany:
When the Epiphany fell in the middle of the week and was a holy day of obligation, its importance as the commemoration of the “manifestation” of the Messiah was underscored; transferred to a Sunday, it tends to become one Sunday among others. The pre-1970 liturgical calendar recognized the significance of the Epiphany by designating “Sundays after Epiphany” between the conclusion of the Christmas season and the beginning of pre-Lent, thus stretching out the Church’s meditation on the Epiphany over several weeks. Now, Epiphany is quickly succeeded by the feast of the Lord’s Baptism, after which the liturgical period known by that dreadful neologism “Ordinary Time” begins.
Monday, December 31, 2012, 12:00 PM
William Doino Jr. on rediscovering Paul VI:
When the Vatican recently announced its new candidates for sainthood, there was a remarkable name on its list: Pope Paul VI. On December 20, 2012, Pope Benedict declared Paul a Christian of “heroic virtue,” granting him the title, “Venerable.” Paul VI is now one approved miracle away from beatification, and a second from formal canonization.
Also today, Matthew Hennessey on Russia’s cruel adoption ban:
You may have read that Russian president Vladimir Putin recently signed a new law banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans. Andrea Roberts read the news with “disbelief” and was sure this meant certain death for the dozens of Russian orphans with special needs for whom she helps to find American homes each year. Reece’s Rainbow, the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based organization that Roberts founded and directs, has in the last four years aided in the adoption of over two hundred Russian children with Down syndrome and other special needs.
Friday, December 28, 2012, 12:00 PM
Wesley J. Smith on how Mark O’Brien’s triumph had nothing to do with sex:
Mark’s true yearning was not for regular access to sexual release but for full inclusion in a society too often indifferent to the common humanity of its disabled members. Indeed, his personal calling was to wage all-out war against society’s tendency to isolate the disabled and, concomitantly, to demand respect, that simple but indispensable mutual acknowledgment that we owe each other as equals.
J. D. Flynn on Christ’s birth and our potential:
We’re now celebrating Christmas, a holiday and a season universally celebrated, and almost universally misunderstood. Christmas should be a scandal. The claim of Christmas is that because God became a human being, we can become like God. The scandal of Christmas is the scandal of our own divinization. Because of Christmas, my children—all children—have a lot more to look forward to than university. Because of Christmas, our hope is that we can share in God’s own life. Because of Christmas, the greatest human potential is not the potential to produce or to comprehend, it is the potential of our baptism—the potential to love as God loves.
Thursday, December 27, 2012, 12:00 PM
« Newer Posts
Patrick J. Deneen on the destructive life of George Bailey:
One sees a dark side represented by George Bailey himself: the optimist, the adventurer, the builder, the man who persistently hates the town that gives him sustenance, who craves nothing else but to get out of Bedford Falls and remake the world. Given its long-standing reputation as a nostalgic look at small-town life in the pre-war period, it is almost shocking to suggest that the film is one of the most potent, if unconscious critiques ever made of the American dream. For George Bailey, in fact, destroys the town that saves him.
Also today, Leroy Huizenga on God being with us every day:
Is God still with us today? The longstanding Christian answer is that God is with us not only in our hearts, or in the person of the Holy Spirit, but in the Eucharist. In the same homily Benedict encouraged Christians to “ask the Lord to grant that we may overcome our limits, our world, to help us to encounter him, especially at the moment when he places himself into our hands and into our heart in the Holy Eucharist.” Indeed, the Incarnation is the ground of all sacraments, the sacrament par excellence.
— Older Posts »