Why Catholics Can’t Comply with the HHS Mandate

The Department of Health and Human Services has mandated that most large employers include in their health plans, at no cost, pharmaceutical contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and certain forms of so-called “emergency contraception.” Catholic philosophers and theologians have been debating whether complying with the mandate would be morally acceptable. … Continue Reading »

The Lexicon of Pussyfooting

Fifty years. It seems like a long time. But if you pick up Jacques Barzun’s searching analysis of modern education, The House of Intellect, the half century melts away. Barzun points out the way in which our egalitarian ethos encourages an “amiable stupidity.” The best man for a committee is someone who is cheerful, optimistic, and incapable of disturbing others with critical thoughts… . Continue Reading »

Voice of the Martyrs

Last week, gunmen from the Islamic sect Boko Haram attacked the Church of the Brethren in the village of Atagara in northern Nigeria, killing two and torching the church on their way out. Over several days, the terrorist group killed dozens in the same region and forced hundreds to flee. In the northeastern city of Potiskum, thirty-one people were murdered over a three-day period recently, and a church was burned… . Continue Reading »

The Achievement of Jacques Barzun

One of the last of the generation of critics that included Edmund Wilson, Irving Howe, and Lionel Trilling, Jacques Barzun, who died yesterday at the age of 104, developed a historically informed critical approach that, without descending into polemic, didn’t shy from defining or diagnosing Western culture. For Barzun, “the historian can only show, not prove; persuade, not convince.” To do that required both sureness of judgment as well as respect for the unpredictability and vagaries of history… . Continue Reading »

Why Can’t Lutherans Take Catholic Communion?

No, I have never snuck into a Catholic mass for Holy Communion. Not the first time anyway. I politely asked, and when I communed I had the permission of the archbishop of Washington, D.C. That was 1978 when I was one of the chaplains at a Scout summer camp in Virginia and still a Lutheran seminarian. There was a Catholic priest on staff, and I approached him for communion… . Continue Reading »

Dead White Guys

At the time of my high school graduation, I embodied minority educational empowerment. I was a poor, Mexican-American boy, a first-generation college student; itinerant and bright, raised in the Catholic Church, full of pious ideas and wet dreams and, thanks to the philanthropy of Bill and Melinda Gates, enrolled at a devout Catholic college to study the great books, philosophy, and all that jazz. I was even invited to pray at a LULAC banquet, as an exemplar to the Latin@ community… . Continue Reading »

Campaign 2012: What Kind of Country Do You Want?

In his speech to the Democratic National Convention, nominating President Obama for a second term, former president Bill Clinton said that the choice before America was a stark one: “What kind of country do you want to live in?” That’s exactly right. Do you want to live in an America with a robust array of legally protected civil society institutions, supported by volunteerism and charitable giving? … Continue Reading »

Why Planned Parenthood Won’t Provide Mammograms

President Barack Obama, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and countless supporters have claimed again and again that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms. President Obama did so in the second presidential debate, describing the “millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for … mammograms.” … Continue Reading »

Why Christians Should Oppose Factions

James Madison famously defines “faction” in The Federalist No. 10 as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” … Continue Reading »

Gratefully Weeping Through the Knox Bible

We are barely two weeks away from an election day that, to paraphrase Churchill, is not the beginning of our end (our end as a nation has been, like the end of each human life, a process built-in at conception, with our last gasp set in motion by our first breath) but may signal the end of the beginning of our end… . Continue Reading »