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Thanksgiving brings back memories for Americans of the Pilgrims and Puritans, carrying out their “errand into the wilderness” to build a “city on a hill,” surviving that first bleak Massachusetts winter of 1620-21. As a kid, I remember that cutting out Puritan hats from black construction paper and taping them to the school windows was [...]

Thanksgiving has become a secular holiday. It is a time for family get-togethers, sports events and shopping trips. There is some, but not enough giving of thanks on Thanksgiving. Moreover, when gratitude is felt, it frequently remains just a feeling that is not directed toward a good and personal God. Then too, when people thank [...]

Whenever we undergo another mass shooting or terrorist attack, I am struck by the stampede of blame that ensues in the media. The question that always surfaces for me in these moments is this: do we know how to make sense of such evil acts in this age of relativism? It has become commonplace to [...]

The answer to the question “What parish do you belong to?” is important where I live. Cincinnati is a town in which until the recent past “parish” was included on real estate listings. It was something most buyers wanted to know. My answer brings responses ranging from “You drive that far?” to “Isn’t that downtown?” [...]

Poor old Philippo Argenti languishes in the fifth circle of his Inferno, among those condemned for the sin of wrath. He treads water in the Styx, jostling with other damned souls to stay afloat; others sink beneath the surface, forever drowning but never dying. A contemporary of Dante’s, Argenti tries to climb aboard the boat [...]

What is the point of contemporary conservatism? Whatever one thinks of the victory of Donald Trump to the presidency, he is not a conservative of any expected kind. But he has thrown the various strands of conservatism into disarray and has caused a remarkable level of self-reflection and self-criticism. And his administration has opened up [...]

In his new book How to Think, Alan Jacobs brings up a 1944 lecture by the British writer C.S. Lewis that summarizes well the state of politics three-quarters of a century later and an ocean away—not surprising perhaps, given that his observation is one that humanity has experienced for millennia. In his lecture at King’s [...]

In a previous essay, I identified the ad lapidem fallacy as the one most commonly used in social media “debates” (I use that term very loosely). This is the tactic of responding to an argument not by addressing its substance, but by mocking it, scoffing at it, or otherwise denigrating it so that observers will [...]

Living in the Zombie Age

The Sutherland Springs shooter, who took the lives of 26 men, women, and children in a small Texas church, was, like scores of others before him, one of the living dead. Dylan Klebold, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Stephen Paddock, and Devin Patrick Kelley represent what the apostle Paul warned would characterize the latter days: people [...]

“They have all zeal and no truth, and we have all truth and no zeal.” ∼ Bishop Sheen on the Church’s enemies In The Light of Christ, the fine new book by Father Thomas Joseph White, OP, we read that “[b]elonging to the Church does not give people a blank check so that they can live [...]

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

Extreme freedom can’t be expected to lead to anything but a change to extreme slavery, whether for a private individual or for a city.   ∼ Plato’s Republic, Book VIII line 566 The capacity for self-criticism used to be a signature characteristic of the liberal mind, but clearly liberal introspection isn’t what it used to be. In looking [...]

Though I was born on a farm, I was raised in small-town Iowa. Thus, I was never a farmer, though my grandfathers were. Several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins formed farming families. I remember seeing, due to mechanization, the size of farms that one family could handle pass in size from a quarter-section, to [...]

Secularized man has succeeded in making himself a shadow. By eschewing every trace of moral absolutes, tradition and, indeed, the very anchor of nature itself, he has made himself a ghost. So etiolated, he can only rely upon the whimsical demands of the gaseous self. In this claustrophobic universe there is no longer need for [...]

In a formal address delivered during his recent visit to Colombia, Pope Francis implored his brother Jesuits to defend his embattled exhortation on marriage, which remains haunted by its obscurities and fervent vagueness. In his short discourse, the pope also enlisted Thomas Aquinas in this enterprise by insisting upon the Thomistic properties of Amoris Laetitia. He [...]

“Sticks and stones may break my bones / but names will never hurt me.” So goes the old children’s nursery rhyme. We know, of course, that the claim is not exactly true: CBS produced a documentary in 2011 about the effects of bullying in a digital age, “Words Can Kill.” What is less talked about [...]

Despite curbing my online reading, scarcely a day passes without noting some new scandal caused by a theologian, priest, or bishop. It’s true, of course, that small stories from faraway places achieve an immediacy impossible without the web, but, still, the outrages are all too real. I suspect stories come readily to mind: commemorations of [...]

Ronald Reagan once said that an economist is someone who sees something happen in practice and wonders if it could work in theory. The new book, Pope Francis and the Caring Society, appears like a team of economists forced to study the encyclical Laudato Si’ in theory and then wonder if it might work in [...]

You might say that Lee Edwards is the Zelig of the conservative movement, except Edwards is nothing like the inconsequential eager-to-please character created by Woody Allen. Even so, Edwards has been present and a central participant in every single significant conservative event and development for close to 85 years. I say 85 years because Edwards [...]

I can forgive Protestants and Protestantism for most things. I can forgive Protestants for the Know-Nothing Party and their murderous Philadelphia Nativist Riot, the Intolerable Acts, Bloody Monday and the Orange Riots in New York City in 1871 and 1872. I forgive them for the "Blaine Amendments" which forbade tax money be used to fund [...]

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