Torah and Social Justice

Until recently, few evangelicals had much to say about “social justice.” Leftish evangelicals like Ron Sider, Jim Wallis, and Tony Campolo, along with Evangelicals for Social Action and Sojourners, virtually cornered the market. Other evangelicals wrote on inequality, race, and poverty, but mostly in reaction… . Continue Reading »

Le Mot Juste

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is only a short road that leads from grammatical laxity to cannibalism. At least, it should be universally acknowledged. Human beings are linguistic beings through and through, after all. Because of our miraculous, almost certainly extra-natural capacity for symbolic communication”uttered, written, or mimed”we are the only terrestrial species that possesses a history… . . Continue Reading »

The Erotic Theology of Mad Men

July is the month when fans of the award-winning series Mad Men, which follows the lives of 1960s Madison Avenue executives, eagerly await a new serving of high drama and retro-chic fashion. But since the fifth season has been postponed to next year, Maddicts will have to content themselves with revisiting already-released episodes. One of these, the episode “Maidenform” from season two, is especially worth a second look, for it is a curious window into the truth of Catholic teaching on human sexuality… . Continue Reading »

St. Paul Would Have Failed My Hermeneutics Course

At Wheaton College I taught “Biblical Interpretation and Hermeneutics” to exceptionally bright, motivated and faithful students. I approached the course from the perspective of the history of interpretation, for, with Peter of Blois, I was convinced that we stand like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, that premodern interpreters had much to say to us moderns who struggle to approach the Bible as Scripture instead of a random collection of textual artifacts. Desiring to rescue the works of the ancients from time’s oblivion and man’s neglect, each semester we sojourned through twenty-five hundred years of interpretation.… . Continue Reading »

The Moderate Pro-Choicer’s Trade-off

Recognizing that the abortion-on-demand position is becoming politically unpopular, many abortion-rights moderates are becoming increasingly more vocal about finding a middle path”at least rhetorically. The shift has been occurring for more than a decade, but it became more noticeable after the 2004 presidential campaign. By 2008 the solidly pro-abortion candidate Hillary Clinton felt comfortable arguing … Continue Reading »

Why Hasn’t Francis Ford Been Beatified?

In a 2010 interview with Catholic World Report, Cardinal Joseph Zen, S.D.B., the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, wondered aloud about the Catholic Church’s reticence to acknowledge those who had been martyred by Chinese communists during the Maoists’ rise to power, and thereafter. “Why should we not publicize … those martyrs?” Cardinal Zen asked. The truth demands it. Self-respect requires it… . Continue Reading »

Chaput’s Unconvincing Critics

Considering the subtitle of Michael Sean Winters’ attack upon the newly selected Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, to wit, “The problem with Culture Warrior Bishops,” one is tempted to remark that the “trouble” is that there are far too few of them. But that would be to accept Winters’ misleading and unhelpful characterization of the issue, and that would be a mistake. It is difficult to imagine a time when Catholic teaching was as challenged as it is now… . Continue Reading »

Shakespeare’s Measured State

“Law is framed as a rule or measure of human acts,” says Thomas Aquinas, and “different things are measured by different measures.” Human “measures” or laws direct men to the common good; the divine law undergirds it, indicating what it means to be and to be good. Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure is about what happens when the human measure usurps the role of the divine measure, when the state tries to be church for its people… . . Continue Reading »

Seven Characters in Search of a Nihil Obstat

The muses are gaily capricious in the favors they bestow upon us, but humorlessly imperious in the demands they make of us. One never knows when inspiration may strike; one knows only that, when it comes, it must not be resisted. In my case, the occasion was an idle afternoon this past week, as I was irascibly considering the reaction of a few conservative Catholic critics to Terrence Malick’s strange, beautiful, perhaps slightly mad, and deeply Christian film The Tree of Life… . Continue Reading »