Lessons From Dietrich von Hildebrand

Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889–1977) was a German Catholic philosopher, part of a circle of thinkers that first formed around Edmund Husserl, founder of the philosophical method known as “phenomenology.” Others in that circle included Max Scheler, on whom Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) wrote his second doctoral thesis, and Edith Stein, now St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. The phenomenologists thought philosophy had gotten detached from reality, drifting into the quicksand of thinking-about-thinking-about-thinking. Their motto was “to the things themselves,” and their project was to reconnect thought to reality by a precise observation and analysis of Things As They Are. Continue Reading »

Not Yet

With the legal affirmation of same-sex marriage in some states, should churches, synagogues, and mosques stop performing civil marriages? No, not yet. Marriage is, of course, more than a matter of statecraft.  Continue Reading »

A Legal Perspective on the Marriage Pledge

Many of the responses to the Marriage Pledge from both sides of the divide on same-sex marriage have reflected substantial confusion over the distinction between Christian and civil marriage and what the role of the clergy is in the marriage ceremony. My purpose here is to clarify that distinction and then to evaluate criticisms of the Pledge when the distinction between the two types of marriage is properly understood. 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 »

Advent of Unity

John famously begins his Gospel with a piece of theology: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Matthew starts with a genealogy. John celebrates Advent with a hymn, Matthew with a list. For John, Jesus is the Word of creation in human flesh. For Matthew, he is a name. Continue Reading »

Evangelical Liturgy, High and Low

Ever since the 1994 publication of the Evangelicals and Catholics together document (ECT), and with renewed urgency in the wake of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate and the increased acceptance of same-sex marriage, there has been a growing affiliation between Rome and various evangelical traditions. The alliance has been based largely on the growing awareness that creedal Christian orthodoxy is in a marginal position in the public square. Despite their long history of conflict, Catholics and evangelicals have realized that they will be stronger if they face their challenges together. Continue Reading »

Vatican II and the Berlin Wall

History sometimes displays the happy capacity to arrange anniversaries so that one sheds light on another. On Nov. 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI solemnly promulgated the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which began by proclaiming Christ the “light of the nations” and is thus known as Lumen Gentium. Continue Reading »