On Creative Minorities

Christians can learn from Jews. We can learn how to thrive in the secular world that no longer regards faith as central. So argues Rabbi Jonathan Sacks at the 2013 Erasmus Lecture. Speaking to more than five hundred people on the evening of Monday, October 21st at the Union League Club in New York, Sacks outlined a vision in which religious communities—Jewish and Christian—can function as creative minorities. . . . Continue Reading »

On Health Care, A Time For Choosing

The well publicized problems of Obamacare are a sign of both opportunity and a danger for conservatives. The dysfunctions of Obamacare (the premium increases even more than the website problems) will give conservatives a wider hearing for their ideas on health care policy. But there is a danger: If conservatives fail to offer alternatives to the failures of Obamacare, the left will be able to offer single-payer as the only viable alternative to the problems caused by Obamacare. Whether or not conservatives can offer an alternative will determine if Obamacare is the high point of government control of medicine or just another step toward a complete public takeover… . Continue Reading »

Lexicographical Battles

This July, vigilantes snuck into bookstores and the public library in San Francisco, pasting stickers over the old heterosexual definition of marriage in the Oxford American Dictionary with their proposed new one: “the formal union of two people by which they become partners for life.” The vigilantes, under the revealing banner “HACKmarriage,” posted an online video depicting their clandestine activities, along with a downloadable sticker for any would-be imitators. … Continue Reading »

Popes on Economics

There exists a great deal of confusion regarding the popes’ social encyclicals. The problem is threefold: they span over one hundred years in changing political and social milieus; the language that is used is inconsistent; and, finally, there are competing tensions contained in the documents. This book navigates the reader through the confusion… . Continue Reading »

The Church Persecuted

Each issue of the admirable ecumenical journal, Touchstone, includes a department called “The Suffering Church.” It’s a title that Catholics of a certain age associate with purgatory; in Touchstone’s vocabulary, however, “the Church suffering” is the Church being purified here and now by persecution. It’s a useful reminder of a hard fact… . Continue Reading »

Ecclesiastical Exceptionalism

Americans are disengaging from communities, at least if the evidence proffered by scholars like Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone is to be believed. This may have a class dimension as well. Charles Murray and First Things’ own editor, R.R. Reno, suggest that community is disintegrating more rapidly, and with harsher consequences, among folks in the lower socioeconomic strata in the U.S… . Continue Reading »

Methodism Today and Tomorrow

Richard John Neuhaus once sardonically noted that Methodism thinks in terms of centuries. The quip captured simultaneously his disenchantment with, deep knowledge of, and, although he might have denied it, continued concern about Mainline Protestant denominations, of which United Methodism is the largest… . Continue Reading »

Ecumenism in the Chaplaincy

Last week I was sitting in my office at the chapel when one of our chaplain assistants came in and told me that an Airman was on his way in and wanted to talk with a chaplain. He wanted to know if I was available to see this particular Airman. I said that I was, but inquired further if the Airman expressed any denominational preference. “Did the Airman want to see a particular kind of chaplain?” The chaplain assistant assured me that the in-bound Airman didn’t have a preference; he just wanted to see a chaplain… . Continue Reading »

The Smoke of Satan Returns

In 1972, on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Paul VI delivered a sermon that startled the world. Describing the chaos then consuming the post-conciliar Church, he lamented: “From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God” … Continue Reading »

The Adventure of Orthodoxy

It’s a common complaint that patristic Trinitarian theology obscured the gospel by relying on the premises and categories of Greek thought. Though rarely as extreme as Adolf von Harnack, who claimed that the Nicene Creed was a symptom of an “acute Hellenization” of the Church, theologians today can put off a recognizably Harnackian scent… . Continue Reading »