First Things RSS Feed - J. D. Flynn
en-usCopyright 2016 First Things. All Rights Reserved.email@example.com (The Editors)firstname.lastname@example.org (The Editors)Thu, 27 Oct 2016 12:43:19 -0400https://d25wp47b6tla3u.cloudfront.net/img/favicon-196.pngFirst Things RSS Feed Image
60The Third Rail of Catholic Lifehttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2016/10/the-third-rail-of-catholic-life
Fri, 07 Oct 2016 16:20:00 -0400In the past seven months,
has become a kind of third rail in the life of the Catholic Church.
stands at a delicate junction—between unchanging hermeneutic and theological principles on the one hand, and sensitive topics such as sex, marriage, and family on the other. And it deals with a kind of entitlement—the mentality that moral prohibitions and sacramental discipline are cruelties out of sync with the Christian Gospel.
There’s No Such Thing as an Ex-Catholichttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2016/08/theres-no-such-thing-as-an-ex-catholic
Thu, 04 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0400In the post-modern West, well before believers can proclaim revealed truth, they’re forced to combat the epistemological consequences of the dictatorship of relativism—to explain the possibility that truth claims can have real, objective, and unalterable meaning. It is an absurd, but nonetheless real, challenge to defend the idea that “true” and “false” exist, that “right” and “wrong” have meaning, that the contours of the natural world have significance, and order, and law.
]]>Adoption, Abortion, and a Message of Hopehttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/08/adoption-abortion-and-a-message-of-hope
Thu, 27 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400On Saturday morning, my wife and I took our children to pray outside the Planned Parenthood clinic near our home in Nebraska. Nearly 700 other people joined us—praying on their knees, singing songs of praise, and holding pro-life signs for passing cars to read.
]]>The One and Only Culture Warhttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/08/the-one-and-only-culture-war
Mon, 03 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 Last month, David Brooks published a column titled “
The Next Culture War
.” In it, he offers public-relations advice for Christians in the post-
era—an era when fewer people identify as Christians, and when laws and mores are moving farther away from basic Christian values.
]]>Torture and Witness to Lifehttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/12/torture-and-witness-to-life
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:05:00 -0500I am a very proud alumnus of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. I earned a bachelor’s degree there, I earned a master’s degree there, I met my wife there, and I was formed, intellectually, spiritually, and personally, there. Scott Hahn has called Franciscan a “greenhouse for holiness.” The lives of alumni engaged in missionary and charitable apostolates across the globe are evidence for that claim.
]]>An Open Letter to Richard Dawkinshttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/08/an-open-letter-to-richard-dawkins
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 Dear Dr. Dawkins,
]]>NPR’s Disturbing Prenatal Testing Storyhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/02/nprs-disturbing-prenatal-testing-story
Fri, 28 Feb 2014 10:45:00 -0500
reported on advances in the development of
precise prenatal tests for Down syndrome and other genetic disorders
. The report praised new tests that allow women to know more accurately and more quickly whether their children have a genetic disorder.
]]>Christ’s Birth and Our Potentialhttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/12/christs-birth-and-our-potential
Fri, 28 Dec 2012 00:01:00 -0500 Two weeks ago, as fathers have done since Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I held my just-born daughter to my chest, closed my eyes, and uttered a prayer of thanksgiving to the God who has blessed me so abundantly. My wife was not recovering from the ordeal of labor as I held our daughter. She was standing next to me, holding my hand. Our daughter is adopted, as is our son.
Our daughter is beautiful. She was born with a shock of black hair and wonderfully expressive eyes. Her beauty is a lasting tribute to the couple who conceived her, and who chose life for her. Our daughter, like our son, was born with trisomy 21”Down syndrome. Since my daughters birth, Ive thought a lot about the thousands of children aborted each year because they share the genetic defect my children have. Statistics tell a sobering story. Children like mine are being culled from our species. Theyre quietly going extinct.
Most families of people with Down syndrome will tell you similar stories. Our children develop differently. They see the world differently. But they have access to same range of human emotions and experiences that the rest of us enjoy. Theyre capable of experiencing the joy of a life lived fully. People with Down syndrome, or similar intellectual or developmental disabilities, have the same potential we all have”most importantly, they have the capacity for union with God.
Cultural ignorance of this fact hit home for me just the other day. My daughter has some medical complications, and shes still living in the hospital. Ive been staying with her. A few days ago, I stopped in the hospitals chapel and, before I knew it, I was weeping. I was weeping for the children whove been on my mind, the ones who fail genetic tests, and are aborted out of a misguided sense of compassion by a culture that has lost its conscience.
A well-meaning hospital chaplain, with whom Ive struck up a friendship, sat down beside me and tried to offer me some comfort. He assumed I was weeping for my own children, so he reminded me that today people with Down syndrome go to college, work, and live independently. Kids like yours, my new friend said, can still lead useful and happy lives.
I didnt explain to him why I was upset. But Ive thought a lot about his words of comfort.
If I had been struggling in the way that he thought, they wouldnt have done me much good. Were in a sad state of affairs if the best argument we can make about human potential is that nearly anyone can spend four years paying for classes.
Christians should have more to offer than the material. Our hope should be in something greater.
Were 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 Gods 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.
We dont talk about divinization very often. But if we want to talk seriously about human dignity”the dignity of the disabled, the unborn, or the elderly”we need to stop talking about the material. We dont all experience the same kind of material well-being, and we cant all lead useful lives. But we can all live Gods inner life”we can share in his love, in his goodness, and his redemptive sacrifice on the cross. Because we share in Gods life”because of Christmas”even our suffering has meaning.
If children like mine survive the twenty-first century, it will be through the work of Christians. The same thing is true of the elderly and the disabled. If were going to stop the quiet eradication of the socially and economically useless, we need compelling arguments for their existence. The potential to love with Gods own love”the potential of Christmas”seems like a very good place to start.
J. D. Flynn is chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver.