liberty

LA Times_Watts Riots

Black Crime and White Flight

The recent events in Ferguson, MO, in which a “gentle giant” was shot and killed after assaulting a policeman, leading to demonstrations and riots, brought back to me memories of the August 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles, which likewise developed in the aftermath of assaults on a policeman after a young black man was [...]

Salvation and Super Heroes

This past weekend I enjoyed seeing the latest installment of Marvel’s Avenger franchise, Captain America: Winter Soldier. I must confess that I have a somewhat juvenile curiosity toward these recent rounds of “super” mania films. I don’t care so much for the over the top action and violence sequences, but it is quite intriguing to [...]

Can a Generation Own the Earth?

“The earth belongs always to the living generation.” These are not Thomas Jefferson’s most famous words, but they are quite famous among students of politics. They have been used for generations to justify radical political change. And, like the soaring rhetoric of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, these Jeffersonian words have gained him [...]

A Catholic Defense of Freedom

For a generation, some Catholics in America believed that the Gospel injunction to help the poor meant to help them through government.  Joined to that was a distaste for the WASP-dominated business culture of postwar American prosperity, even though Catholics had enjoyed the fruits of that prosperity along with other Americans.  The long tradition of [...]

Rethinking Civil Rights

I was recently on a radio program commenting about the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Arizona’s law requiring proof of citizenship when people register to vote. One caller seemed quite happy with the decision because, it seemed, he believed there is widespread racism. I responded that those who make such allegations are bound to [...]

The Demise of Legitimate Political Authority

Some forty years ago, in his groundbreaking study, Twilight of Authority, sociologist Robert Nisbet observed a disturbing trend in American culture. As respect for authority had declined among the population, he wrote, members of that population became increasingly willing to accept and actually applaud an increasingly powerful, albeit less legitimate, government The notion of true [...]

A Declaration of Catholic Independence

G. K. Chesterton once described America as a “nation with the soul of a church.”  Many have wrongly interpreted this statement as Chesterton’s way of saying that America was a Christian nation, or that Americans were especially pious and devout people. Chesterton meant something rather different, and not especially complementary.  America is like a church [...]

Faith and Freedom: Why Liberty Requires Christianity

In an age that seems to believe that Christianity is an obstacle to liberty it will prove provocative to insist, contrary to such belief, that Christian faith is essential to liberty’s very existence. Yet, as counter-intuitive as it may seem to disciples of the progressivist zeitgeist, it must be insisted that faith enshrines freedom. Without [...]

Life, Liberty and Mercy: One Catholic’s Contribution to American Political Discourse

Cardinal Timothy Dolan chose “Let Freedom Ring!” as the title of his recent talk before the John Carroll Society in Washington, DC. And it now appears to be the rallying cry for faithful Catholics seeking to engage the upcoming presidential election with something more than fear and trembling.  Earlier at the Democratic National Convention, Cardinal [...]

For Greater Glory: Relevance Beyond Mexico

For Greater Glory, a romanticized movie about Mexico’s Cristero War in the 1920s, will appeal to Catholics. And to lovers of freedom to worship. And to Americans who cherish the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, for it portrays precisely the sort of situation our Founding Fathers feared. For all these reasons For Greater Glory [...]

Hegel to the Rescue (sort of)

This article orignally appeared at Library of Law and Liberty Constitutionalism is in crisis—obviously in Europe, more arguably in America. High on the list of intellectual breakthroughs that might help us sort through our contemporary confusions is George Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel’s Philosophy of Right—to my mind, the best book ever written on the subject. Argh! [...]

We Hold These Truths

Whenever the topic of personal liberty is debated, it is unfortunate that the liberty to do evil is often what is at stake. On one side there are libertines, or those who are at best morally indifferent, arguing that morally offensive behavior ought to be legal and even socially acceptable; on the other side there [...]

Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty

The role of individual conscience and religion in American society has been debated since the arrival of the first English settlers. The original intent of the Puritans was to establish a theocracy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. John Winthrop, its first governor (1588-1649) envisioned it to be a “city on a hill.” Roger Williams (1603-83), [...]

The Obesity of Eros

Among the furrow browed and the gravely concerned, particularly those not tipping the scales beyond the approved standard, obesity is the current social chancre crying out for their enlightened solutions. But for the enlightened, though less than corpulent, to isolate obesity and to castigate those who eat too much is pure hypocrisy in a society [...]

Man, Proud Man

Paradox and irony immediately confront the historian of liberalism. Commonly understood as the tradition of political thought and action that exalts the liberty of the individual, liberalism has, nevertheless, always included within its ranks men such as John C. Calhoun who have defended the institution of slavery. And these theorists have by no means been [...]

Why Religious Freedom?

When the Witherspoon Institute’s task force on religious freedom released its monograph, Religious Freedom: Why Now?, earlier this month, the answer to the question in the title seemed obvious.  The controversy occasioned by the Obama Administration’s mandate that all health plans pay the cost of contraception was in the front of the news, and the [...]

Would Jesus’ Ministry Even Qualify for the Exemption?

Since the administration keeps insisting it made an “exemption” or “accommodation” for religious objection to the Obama contraceptive mandate, let’s take a closer look at what exactly that is. In the words of Adma Uddin, a Becket Fund for Religious Liberty attorney who specializes in domestic and international religious liberty cases. In her testimony before [...]

Progressive Inhumanity, Part Two: The State against the Churches

A small town in Vermont has recently been ordered to cease its immemorial tradition of opening meetings with a prayer.  The order came from a judge who does not live near.  A public school in the city where I am writing these words has banners hanging from its gymnasium ceiling, one of which featured a [...]

Speaking Loudly About Human Liberty

A Loudly-Delivered Homily Recently this video, of a homily given by Father Sammie Maletta of St. John the Evangelist parish in St. John, Indiana, has been making the rounds of the Catholic blogosphere. Give it a listen, if you will. My reaction to this video was: “Thank God for this fine priest.” Examining the reactions of [...]

Leviathan Groaning

On June 25, 2009, a seven year old boy was abducted at gunpoint from his terrified parents. They had just boarded a plane to fly to the country where the boy’s mother had been born, and where her kin still lived. They were leaving their own country for good, because they had grown weary of [...]

Obama Obeys the Feminists Again

Proclaiming in a New York Times headline that "Obama Adjusts a Rule Covering Contraceptives," the pro-Obama media tried to dig the president out of the political hole he had jumped into. But calling Obama's revised rule an "adjustment" or an "accommodation" or another soft-sell word can't cover the fact that the revision is essentially the [...]

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