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The Climate Controversy and Rio Redux

The second UN Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development”Rio + 20, for short”is underway in Brazil, and the main issue seems little to have changed since the first one twenty years ago. The principal tension is between environmentalists, mainly from developed nations, who think human activity is leading to climate disaster, and the poorer nations who prize development above any environmental restrictions… . Continue Reading »

The Death of Death’s Long Life

A few nights ago, I woke with an unpleasant start, confused by unusual physical discomfort, and a surge of panic that “the hour you know not” was upon me. “Is this what Dad experienced,” I wondered, “as he began to slip irretrievably into it?” The prospect that my father knew what was happening yet was powerless to stop it or, in some consoling sense to put things in order, is an aspect of his throes that has worked me over for decades… . Continue Reading »

Real Liturgical Renewal

Raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it, teaches Proverbs. For me, this has been the case regarding worship. I was raised a Lutheran, in an older, established congregation belonging to what would become the ELCA, First Lutheran in Minot, ND. I imbibed the ambience of the Lutheran liturgy … Continue Reading »

The Duty to Preserve Religious Liberty

“I die the king’s good servant,” said Thomas More before kneeling at Tower Hill, “and God’s first.” Four hundred years after his death, at his canonization ceremony, Pope Pius XI said of More, ‘When he saw the doctrines of the Church were gravely endangered, he knew how to despise resolutely the flattery of human respect, how to resist, in accordance with his duty, the supreme head of the State when there was question of things commanded by God and the Church’ … Continue Reading »

Fortnight for Freedom - Social Justice Priorities: Life and Religious Liberty

At this critical moment in history, there are two social justice priorities for the Catholic Church in the United States: the defense of life at all stages and in all conditions, and the defense of religious freedom for all. During this Fortnight for Freedom, in which the U.S. bishops are calling all Catholics to pray and work for religious freedom, it’s important to reflect on the linkage between these two great causes… . Continue Reading »

The Unacceptable Alternative Lifestyle

They occasionally populate New Yorker stories—characters on the peripheries of the narrator’s life, somehow only half human, almost surreal, because they’re single, celibate, and plan to stay that way until, someday, they marry. But the someday hasn’t arrived, and in the context of postmodern fictional settings, the chaste represent objects of repression, pity, and derision. Of the multitudinous lifestyles deemed acceptable and worth defending today, celibacy for singles stays off the list, almost as if its very existence threatens the well-being of the world as we know it . . . Continue Reading »

The Sons of Caesar, Still Pulling Peter Down

In the first chapter of Father Robert Barron’s remarkable book Catholicism, he discusses the utterly revolutionary fact and idea of Jesus Christ, son of Mary, son of God, as communicated in the “fighting words” that open Saint Mark’s Gospel, and through the subversive teachings of Saints Paul and Peter: “Fighting” because the gospel states baldly that human authority is illusory in the face of creator and sustainer of life; subversive because their teachings took notions of freedom, defeat and victory and turned them on their heads… . Continue Reading »

Theology of the Soda Ban

People often talk about Catholic guilt, but I’d say gym guilt is at least as prevalent. I meet people all the time who feel like a moral failure if they miss a workout or, in a moment of weakness, cave in and eat carbs after 7:00 p.m. And in almost comical parody of religious devotion, the health god beckons its shamefaced disciples to run back to the gym and confess to the trainer: “That’ll be ten push-ups and ten sit-ups; now make a good act of contrition.” … Continue Reading »

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Our liberal establishment is fragile, far more so than it’s members realize. It’s a conclusion I came to last month when I accompanied my wife to her 25th college reunion at Yale. My wife’s gathered classmates provided a fairly representative slice of America’s elite establishment. The reunion featured some panel discussions with notable high-achievers … Continue Reading »

Peter Singer on Religious Freedom

Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, has recently loosed his pen on the subject of religious freedom, arguing for the restriction of “the legitimate defense of religious freedom to rejecting proposals that stop people from practicing their religion.” Sounds reasonable enough. But set some examples alongside Singer’s suggestion… . Continue Reading »



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