happiness

Transgender bathroom sign

When Policy Preferences Masquerade as Rights

Recently, I took my son swimming at a local rec center. Entering the men’s locker room, we encountered a sign: “Children over 6 must use the appropriate locker room.” For a moment, I was tempted to speed dial the ACLU and Human Rights Watch to roust some federal judge that Sunday morning who could save [...]

Some Marriage Advice for Engaged Couples

Recently a friend of mine and practicing Catholic asked me to be a groomsman in his wedding that will take place in December 2016. I felt honored but immediately the former pastor in me began to think about the question, “If I had half an hour with an engaged couple who were orthodox Christians, what [...]

More Thoughts on a Pastoral Church

Theory and practice are never exactly the same, in the Church or anywhere else, but they're not separable either. So what is pastoral depends on what God and the world are like. That issue, the nature of things, is always the great dispute in religion. It usually takes the form of a dispute over God's [...]

Happiness and Hell in The Twilight Zone

I am fairly confident that a deep theological reflection could be written about nearly every episode of The Twilight Zone (and I may make it a life project to do so). Rod Serling was known for his strong convictions, and that core was manifested in the morality plays he put on in that series. Here [...]

Well-Being vs. Well-Feeling: On Defining True Happiness

In the twenty years since the publication of Deal Hudson’s marvelous book Happiness and the Limits of Satisfaction, the eclipse of Greek and Christian ideas about happiness by the pursuit of pleasure, of “well-feeling” rather than “well-being,” has only advanced. This movement has been deepened and accelerated by my colleagues in the social and behavioral [...]

Pursuing True Happiness in a World Without Truth

“[T]he direct and pure experience of reality in its ultimate root is man’s deepest need.” ∼ Thomas Merton Among the many confusions in our modern-secular culture is the fundamentally incoherent idea—which is also a promise, a hope, and a dream—that true happiness is possible without truth, but instead can be had with more freedom and [...]

Sentiment Trumps Reason as Judges Impose Gay “Marriage”

At this hour, we all bear witness to the spectacle of laws accurately defining marriage being dismantled in order to establish a rhetorical equivalence between genuine marital unions and those rare associations formed out of same-sex desires.  One substantial club in this act of moral viciousness is an appeal to sentiment that tries to persuade [...]

On Daughters, Vocation & Human Happiness

The Sound of Music just finished its run at the college where I work, and my daughter had a part: Brigitta, one of the von Trapp children. Everyone in the production did a marvelous job, although (you’ll forgive me—I’m a dad) I think that my daughter gave an especially outstanding performance. Bravo! Another standout of [...]

Augustinian Maxims and Truths

Again on going through Augustine’s City of God with a class, I am struck by the pithiness of many of his statements. Nietzsche had over five thousand epigrams and maxims in his works. The City of God is something over 1200 pages. Sometimes every sentence seems like a paradox or maxim, when it is not [...]

Jesus Wants Gays to be Happy

This month Piers Morgan interviewed Kirk Cameron, asking what he would tell his teenage son if the boy were to confess he was gay. Morgan promptly volunteered his own response.  “I would say, ‘That’s great son. Just so long as you are happy.” Cameron did better than most in defending his view that marriage can [...]

Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows

“The clever men at Oxford Know all that there is to be knowed. But they none of them know one half a much As intelligent Mr. Toad!” A human being can be at home in the world just as he can feel a sense of comfort and belonging in his own household, or a person [...]

Should Our Kids Be Happy?

A British media personality has pricked the country’s happiness bubble by declaring that she does not want her kids to be “happy”. Kirsty Young, a Scot with two young daughters and two teenage step-children (and a husband who is a millionaire), said in an interview that it was impossible to be happy all the time [...]

Is church making you fat?

Margaret linked to a story this morning that I thought deserved a closer look. While studies have shown that regular church attendance is linked to greater levels of happiness, lower rates of substance abuse, and better marriages, a new study has reported that middle-aged people who are religiously active are also more obese. Is it [...]

Means and Ends

There is an old saying that we judge others by what they do, but we want them to judge us by our intentions. That more or less sums up one of the central confusions engendered by our embrace of modernity's Absolute No. 1 Favorite Moral Heresy: consequentialism. Consequentialism, for anyone not fully up to speed [...]

Society taking a second look at monogamy?

A recent CDC study found that the number of 15 to 24 year olds who reported being virgins in 2008 had increased slightly since 2002. In his latest column, Ross Douthat sees in that trend a reason for optimism -- not because he thinks we'll ever really see an end to premarital sex, but because [...]

Finding the Way In

Every once in a while I pull out of its shelf my worn copy of Milton's poetical works. What can one say? To embark on any given line of Milton is to find oneself in a thunderous domain where language becomes the very avatar of bliss. Paradise Lost is, of course, Milton's crowning achievement, with [...]

Satan: A Tapeworm

There's plenty of buzz about the upcoming Anthony Hopkins film The Rite, which tells me that, somewhere, some publicist is going to keep his job. In my long years as an obscure Catholic journalist (is there any other kind?), I've gotten regular invites from PR companies that specialize in the "Christian market" to preview movies [...]

Long Live Absurdity

Everywhere except in the field of jurisprudence, the reductio ad absurdum is accepted as a logical argument. The reductio always takes this form: If you can show that a certain premise leads to an absurd conclusion, then there is something radically wrong with the premise, and you then either have to reject the premise or at least [...]

‘Stand Erect and Raise Your Heads’

"What are we coming to? Where will it all end?" Who among us has not heard anxious questions like those, or asked them ourselves? What is going to happen, we ask, in Afghanistan and Iraq? Will the sorely tried people of those tormented countries ever enjoy peace? When will our brave troops be able to [...]

The Worst Book I Ever Read

When I wrote a book on happiness in 1995, I was required to read a number of the popular self-help books on the subject. It was only dogged persistence and several strong cigars that got me through them. But lo and behold, at the suggestion of a friend, I took a look at the best-selling [...]

A Few Gratitudes

The center of our Faith is Eucharist. Eucharist means "thanksgiving." That means that the center of our Faith is thanksgiving. It is in the form of a thanksgiving meal that our Lord chose to make Himself present to us. And He did so, shockingly, "on the night He was betrayed." In other words, He defiantly [...]

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