“Dictatorship of Relativism”

The New Secular Puritan Covenant

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 [...]

On Prioritizing the Values Taught to Children

“You can’t die in every ditch.” It was a favorite saying of Fr. Ed Madden, my pastor and boss, when I was a greenhorn DRE back in Boulder. So many problems, so many complaints, so many challenges crop up in the course of ordinary parish work, and I was motivated (at first) to tackle them [...]

Good News For Cranky Catholics in a Post-Christian Age

Whereas T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month” in The Waste Land (a fact empirically verified for me by living in Alaska for 9 years), I’ve found that, at least in the decade of the 2000s, October sometimes became my crankiest. 2004 and 2008 come to mind. Both involved a significant pre-election immersion [...]

The Babel Story Is About Speaking the Truth

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves...” (Gen 11:4) As a small child the tale of Babel’s tower seemed a large story, one filled with men who were wicked and a god who was powerful. [...]

The Catholic Answer to the Abuse of Power

The accumulation and exercise of power is on the rise in public life. The secular culture is obsessed with power, especially the universities and those institutions most directly influenced by them, including the media, even local government, and, sadly, service-oriented non-profit organizations. Corporations are also exercising power in new and frightening ways. Power is the [...]

Love Your Enemy, But Know Him Too

In the mid-1990s the philosopher Norman Geras published a short book on the “ungroundable liberalism” of Richard Rorty. Geras was annoyed that many of Rorty’s relativist fellow travelers were some of the same people demanding “social justice” of one sort or another based on claims about reality they took to be self-evidently true (e.g. “The [...]

The Origins of Modern Materialism

In The Merchant of Venice, Portia famously describes and praises the quality of mercy. I probably recall this monologue readily because I had to commit it to memory for recitation when I was a freshman in high school. Forty nine years after my entry into high school and three-hundred-ninety-four years after the death of Shakespeare, [...]

The Price of Relevance

Last month we examined the current state of the humanities in universities as an example of what happens when an institution attempts to “evolve” in order to maintain its place of prestige in the world. Too often, the disciplines of the humane letters have abandoned their own characteristic modes and methods of examining reality and [...]

Is the Home of Fatima Turning Socialist?

The home of Fatima is about to tailspin into a Socialist-led revolution, ushering in an age of moral relativism. The last time Portugal saw a Communist revolution, Ronald Reagan was still governor of California. Fast forward some four decades and Portugal is facing a momentous challenge from the political left. Inside the nation’s 230-seat parliament, [...]

When a Man Calls Himself a Chicken

Sanity becomes arguable when insanity becomes attractive. Only a sound mind can assess an unsound mind, and the traditional assessment of insanity is that it is a tragedy. The progressive diagnosis is slightly different. Some forms of insanity pertaining to human identity are now considered wholesome and admirable. This cultural stance of endorsing people who [...]

On Court-Mandated Brainwashing

By now, most people are aware of the Colorado baker who refused to bake an elaborate wedding cake for a gay couple’s so-called “marriage.” The various commissions and courts have ruled that the gentleman’s religious objections to an act that implicitly required him to approve gay marriage violated the law. The court said that any [...]

The Ongoing Dictatorship of Relativism

On March 22, 2013, Pope Francis addressed the Diplomatic Corps with a warning against the “tyranny of relativism.” He then explained his selection of the name Francis as in part stemming from St. Francis’ battle for peace, a peace which Pope Francis underscored was impossible without Truth. The necessary struggle for truth not only remains [...]

The Dictatorship of Diversity

It is a bedrock assumption of our age that diversity is a good thing—something to be encouraged and celebrated. Nowadays, for example, a good part of a college mission statement is typically devoted to extolling the institution’s diverse faculty, diverse student body, and diverse course offerings. Similar claims to diversity can be found in the [...]

Using the Aphorism to Challenge Liberalism

According to a recent survey, the average college student’s idea of Tyrannosaurus rex is modeled on Barney the purple dinosaur. Accurate portrayals in movies and textbooks make no difference: students continue to believe T. rex stood upright instead of pitched forward like the real thing. Once people get ideas in their heads it takes very [...]

Will the Next Pope Oppose the “Dictatorship of Relativism” as Fiercely as Benedict?

One of the most central insights of Pope Benedict’s pontificate was summed up in his phrase “the dictatorship of relativism.” In his now famous conversation with the German journalist Peter Seewald (the same one on which he said that popes can abdicate), he said this, in explanation: “In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being [...]

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