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Instrumentum Laboris

Last fall, in preparation for this fall’s Synod on the Family, an extraordinary synod met in Rome. Between that meeting and this year’s, a Vatican-­appointed committee produced a document. It’s called the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document to guide deliberation. Reading it is a ­depressing experience. It reminds me of how weak Catholicism’s ­intellectual culture has become, at least in some official circles.

Synod 2015 Hopes

The XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family begins with Mass in St. Peter’s on October 4. No synod in modern Catholic history has drawn such worldwide press attention or generated such controversy within the Church (with the possible exception of the special synod . . . . Continue Reading »

Dieting

It is time for some late summer lighthearted fun, except our household is dieting. We have gone low carb, paleo, eggplant. Yes, I know, eggplant doesn’t belong to a paleo diet. It’s cultivated. Fruits, berries, nuts, and wild roots are paleo. But with only four or so carbohydrates to a cup, . . . . Continue Reading »

Our Potemkin Life

Several weeks ago, I was having dinner with friends in the town of Bridgewater, PA—a sliver of land at the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio Rivers northwest of Pittsburgh. As tends to happen whenever orthodox Christians gather, the conversation turned to cultural decline. As we discussed the latest outrages, though, I couldn’t help but observe our surroundings.We were on the patio of a casual restaurant within sight of the gentle Beaver River. Between us and the riverbank was a pristine lawn, crisscrossed by walking trails. The weather was mild and clear. Around us, people conversed contentedly while dining wholesomely and affordably, in perfect security. To all appearances, here was the very image of the good society: pleasant, safe, and prosperous. Continue Reading »

Rearing Slaves, Rearing Sons

You’ve heard the horror stories about the schools: kindergartens with a dose of amoral sex education; teachers sowing gender confusion with the hearty support of administrators; violence and widespread drug use in the tony prep schools that train tomorrow’s elites; depression, eating disorders, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Psychologization of Everything

The enormous Duggar family has been in the public eye since their TLC reality series, 19 Kids and Counting, premiered in 2008. In the lineup of TLC shows about oddball families—the twins-plus-sextuplets family; the polygamist family; the little-people family; the hundred-proof hillbilly family—the Duggars are distinguished by their amazing fecundity, and by their commitment to baby-names starting with J (Josh, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph).They are distinguished, too, by their vocal affiliation with Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull—hierarchical and pro-procreation movements within Evangelicalism, which strike some observers as creepy and cultish. The Duggar kids are homeschooled and don’t mix much with the outside world; this, too, strikes some observers as creepy and cultish. All of the Duggar girls perm their hair and wear long skirts—sartorial tics that some observers find creepy and cultish. Did I mention that all the Duggar kids’ names start with J? (Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedediah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin …) At a certain point, this starts to look creepy and cultish. Continue Reading »

Maury's Silent Majority

Maury’s struggling to stay in character. Normally he’s the picture of paternal stability: amused but not belittling, hortatory but not pedantic, firm but not overbearing. This is why they seek him out in their most difficult moments, this parade of wounded people from cash-poor neighborhoods across the country. They flock to his sound stage in Stamford, Connecticut hoping to find the sort of judge, the sort of social worker, the sort of counselor—and yes, the sort of father—that they haven’t encountered elsewhere. Maury Povich gives a fair hearing. But even Maury is occasionally worn thin by the monotony of human weakness, and today is one such day. Continue Reading »

The Catholic Church's German Crisis

The 21st-century Church owes a lot to 20th-century German Catholicism: for its generosity to Catholics in the Third World; for the witness of martyrs like Alfred Delp, Bernhard Lichtenberg, and Edith Stein; for its contributions to Biblical studies, systematic and moral theology, liturgical renewal, and Catholic social doctrine, through which German Catholicism played a leading role in Vatican II’s efforts to renew Catholic witness for the third millennium. At the Council, more than the Rhine flowed into the Tiber; let’s not forget the Seine, the Meuse, the Potomac, and the Vistula. But the Rhine’s flow was strong. Continue Reading »

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