The Dangerous Mind of Peter Singer

Bespectacled, balding, and thin, the Australian scholar Peter Singer has the looks of a stereotypical college professor. You would never be able to tell simply by his unassuming persona that his mind holds some of the most controversial ideas in American academia. Singer has spent a lifetime justifying the unjustifiable. He is the founding father of the animal liberation movement and advocates ending “the present speciesist bias against taking seriously the interests of nonhuman animals.” … Continue Reading »

The Enduring Importance of Centesimus Annus

Amidst the excitement of John Paul II’s beatification on May 1, the 20th anniversary of the late pope’s most important social encyclical Centesimus Annus, got a bit lost. Blessed John Paul II was not a man given to rubbing it in. Still, it is worth noting that the encyclical, which celebrated the collapse of European communism and probed the social, cultural, economic, and political terrain of the post-communist world, was dated on May Day, the great public holiday of the communist movement. … Continue Reading »

The Substitute for Reason

In last week’s column, I gave myself permission to wonder about one of the great unknowns: whether homosexuality originates through nature or nurture, and ” if the answer is “nature” ” what that might mean to our understanding of God, creation and calling. In attempting to explore the issue within the context of the Catechism and Catholic orthodoxy, I was hoping to straddle the divide between those who cannot discuss homosexuality without the word “abomination” eventually entering into it, and those who have long-since declared their spiritual autonomy over any sort of authoritative voice”be it divine, scriptural, traditional or founded upon study or prayer”preferring to embrace the absolute moral authority of collective sentimentalism… . Continue Reading »

Teachers Without Students

Here’s an arresting statistic that economist Richard Vedder thinks goes a long way to explaining the rapid rise in college tuitions: 80 percent of faculty at the University of Texas at the flagship campus in Austin teach fewer than half the students. In view of the fact that faculty salaries make up the largest expense at the university, one simple change would reduce tuition. Get the 80 percent back into the classrooms… . Continue Reading »

Art’s Irrational Infanta

Modern art’s greatest search is for a definition of itself. The meta-question”What is art?”often overwhelms the specific questions of art theory, like the nature of beauty, the use of symbol, and the like. Certainly most of us who have wandered through rooms of concatenated geometric shapes, blank canvases, piles of trash, and splatters of paint have felt, and maybe even entertained, the uncouth question: Why is this art? … Continue Reading »

Patrick Leigh Fermor, RIP

I had other intentions for this column, and I am entirely unprepared for the change in direction I have elected to take. I have just moved houses, I have to catch a plane, and I scarcely have time to compose my thoughts. So I write in perilous haste. But I have no choice, at least emotionally speaking. What has made my well-laid plans gang so suddenly aglae is my discovery this morning (15 June) that my favorite living writer is, in fact, no longer living… . Continue Reading »

Malta’s Folly

Over Memorial Day weekend, 72 percent of the Maltese electorate”about the same number of Maltese who go to mass each Sunday”went to the polls to vote on a referendum to legalize divorce. With just over 50 percent of the vote, the victory went to the pro-divorce movement. After some fine-tuning, a divorce bill is expected to pass the parliament this July, leaving to the Philippines the distinction of being the only country in the world where divorce is still not legal”well, the only country where 90 percent of the citizens aren’t celibate… . Continue Reading »

Shop Class Ain’t for Academics

Although I had no intention of becoming a “Future Farmer of America,” I spent my first two years of high school taking courses in vocational agriculture (it’s just what we do in Texas). During the winter months we’d forgo the usual sheep shearing and hog castrating to work on projects more typically found in a shop class. While we were allowed free reign to rebuild truck motors or craft wooden benches, I mostly spent my time in the corner dreaming nerdy dreams… . Continue Reading »

Roger Maris and the Summer of 1961

Five years ago, I made the argument for Hoosiers as the greatest sports movie ever and lamented the absence of great baseball films. Hoosiers is still the gold standard but a confession is in order: There is a great baseball movie; it ranks right up there in the cinematic sports pantheon; and on this golden anniversary of the Mantle-Maris chase for Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, attention must be paid… . Continue Reading »