Patrick Deneen is David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His previous “On the Square” articles can be found here.

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The Power Elite

From the June/July 2015 Print Edition

As the dust from the recent explosion over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act begins to settle, one thing is clear: Republicans and Christians lost, Democrats and gay activists won. Republican leaders initially ­supported the legislation for what was likely a combination of strategic . . . . Continue Reading »

Against Great Books

From the January 2013 Print Edition

For many years, traditionalist thinkers have promoted the teaching of a set of core texts—the “great books”—as a vital element of a liberal arts education during a time when demands for multiculturalism led to the dismantling of a number of traditional programs of study. In more recent . . . . Continue Reading »

It’s a Destructive Life

From Web Exclusives

Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life portrays the decent life of a small-town American, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), an everyman who saves his community from an evil Scrooge”Henry F. Potter (Lionel Barrymore)”and who only comes to realize his accomplishments by witnessing what terrors might have occurred had he never lived. George Bailey represents all that is good and decent about America: a family man beloved by his community for his kindness and generosity… . Continue Reading »

President Obama’s Campaign for Leviathan

From Web Exclusives

Based on a report in yesterday’s Bloomberg, the decision by the Obama Administration to require many religious institutions to provide contraception through existing health care plans is bearing electoral fruit: President Obama leads Mitt Romney among women by a remarkable 18-point margin. Though the HHS mandate represents an expansion of government power into the heart of many religious institutions, efforts to resist this expansion were portrayed by HHS Secretary Sebelius as a “war against women,” … Continue Reading »

“Forward” Into a Sterile Future

From Web Exclusives

Stumping in Iowa on May 24, President Obama declared, “We don’t need another political fight about ending a woman’s right to choose, or getting rid of Planned Parenthood, or taking away affordable birth control. We don’t need that. I want women to control their own health choices, just like I want my daughters to have the same economic opportunities as my sons. We’re not turning back the clock. We’re not going back there.” … Continue Reading »

E.J. Dionne and the Contradiction of Progressive Catholicism

From Web Exclusives

For over seven years, I have had a mailbox just above E.J. Dionne’s in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. E.J. and I have always shared cordial relationships, periodically getting together to discuss our shared and differing opinions on American politics. We have speculated on what might be a blood relationship, as my mother’s maiden name is Dionne and we both have family that hail from Fall River, Massachusetts, by way of French Canada… . Continue Reading »

“For the Salvation of Souls”: A Farewell to Georgetown

From Web Exclusives

In yesterday’s Washington Post, in anticipation of today’s address by Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Georgetown University as part of its graduation exercises, the editorial staff pronounced that “Georgetown Gets it Right.” Like many defenders of the invitation to Secretary Sebelius, the editorial at once denied that the invitation constituted an honor”since the event is not officially a “commencement” and an honorary degree is not being conferred”and that the invitation constituted an opportunity for the legitimate “exchange of ideas.” … Continue Reading »

A Christmas Tree with Vices

From First Thoughts

Thanks to Nathaniel for sending me this, a neat overview of master filmmaker Orson Welles’ career —with an eye toward his spiritual sympathies. “I try to be a Christian. [But] I don’t pray really, because I don’t want to bore God.” In fact, prayer was almost as uncomfortable subject for . . . . Continue Reading »

A Culture of Choice?

From First Thoughts

Rod Dreher calls attention to an essay by Michael Brendan Dougherty , who asks pointed questions about the failure of the thirty-six year old pro-life movement to make any significant gains against a regime of unrestricted abortion. Dougherty’s essay strikes a long and resonant chord with me: . . . . Continue Reading »