The Tragedy of the Republic

We French have for some years been overcome by a furor for republicanism and for citizenship. There is no activity so humble that it cannot take on an intimidating nobility as soon as it is associated with citizenship. The republic calls us, besieges us, smothers us—but where is the republic? Are . . . . Continue Reading »

Equality Across Borders

In what sense are all men created equal? America’s Declaration of Independence calls it a self-evident truth. But to look around the world, nothing could seem to be less the case, empirically speaking. Some of us are born to wealthy parents, others into poverty; some of us with 170 IQs, others a little slow on the uptake. The genetic lottery, as some call it, does not distribute prizes equally. 

Mother Church or Uncle Sam

Wyoming ­Catholic College, of which I serve as ­president, recently ­determined that it has a duty to abstain from federal student-loan and grant programs. As a new college that received the accreditation necessary for federal funding only this year, Wyoming Catholic faced a stark choice for or . . . . Continue Reading »

A Good Word for Locke

The lecturer was setting forth a biblical perspective on the role of government, with special attention to the Pauline text in Romans 13. At one point he introduced a rhetorical flourish with a passing negative reference to John Locke. The Bible sees the authority to govern as coming from God—“and not,” the lecturer said, “from a human contract, as John Locke insisted.” Continue Reading »

Licensing the Kingdom

St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality on the Lower East Side of Manhattan was one of the original communities f­ounded during the Depression by Dorothy Day and Peter ­Maurin. When I lived there a few years ago I observed up-close the often tense, sometimes funny interactions between the Catholic . . . . Continue Reading »

To Rend Is Not to Retreat

Does the call for Christians to separate matrimony from government marriage mean we’re retreating from the public square? Damon Linker thinks so: “First Things, the intellectually formidable monthly magazine that played a decisively important role in formulating the interdenominational and interreligious ideology that once galvanized the religious right, has decided to pick up its marbles and go home.” He calls it an “unprecedented retreat of theologically conservative churches from engagement in American public life.” Continue Reading »

The Myth of Government Neutrality

Should a government in a pluralist society such as the United States be neutral with respect to religious and secular ideas about the good life? Or should it promote a certain vision? Most Americans, recognizing that a government-sponsored philosophy would conflict with many citizens’ cherished beliefs (and possibly violate the establishment clause), would say that the government should be neutral… . Continue Reading »