James Kalb

James Kalb is a lawyer, independent scholar, and Catholic convert who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command (ISI Books, 2008), and, most recently, Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It (Angelico Press, 2013).

recent articles

Vatican II: A Lawyer’s Perspective

The Second Vatican Council continues to provoke concern, as shown by the recent open letter from priests, scholars, and journalists in support of calls from Bishop Schneider, who believes it contains errors and ambiguities needing correction, and Archbishop Viganò, who has suggested it might be best to forget the whole thing. I don’t have much … Read more

One, Holy, Catholic and… Islamophobic?

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke got into hot water recently for a homily he delivered on January 5, which is Immigration Sunday in his diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. In the homily, he called for restrictions on Muslim immigration, saying that “Islam is the greatest threat in the world both to Christianity and to America … … Read more

The Catholic Case Against Open Borders

Support for large-scale immigration has risen dramatically in America over the past 25 years, especially among Democrats and younger people. Attitudes among Republicans and older folks have remained more stable, although they have drifted somewhat in line with the general trend. What’s striking is that the widening gap between Republicans and Democrats on this issue … Read more

The Ratzinger Option

We live in a time of dissolution, in which natural and traditional ties are growing thinner, and also in a time of consolidation – in which all life is being absorbed by a global economic machine. The results, of course, are becoming less and less livable for most people. The Church is presented with an … Read more

Why the Church Has Failed to Convert Modern Man

A couple of months ago I noted that we live in a time in which connections like family, kinship, religion, and inherited culture and community are dissolving. The feeling against borders and Brexit shows that even national connections are disappearing in the minds of many people. But a time of dissolution is also a time … Read more

Time to Scrap Our Current Definition of Privilege

It used to be that a “child of privilege” was someone born into a wealthy, established, and well-connected family. This situation was considered part of life. It seemed neither possible nor especially desirable to prevent people from having money, influential connections, and a certain degree of respect on account of their background. One reason was … Read more

Catholicism in a Time of Dissolution

We live in a time of dissolution. Many people find it hard to take such claims seriously because people have always complained about the degeneracy of the times. And in any event, life involves change, which means the old disappears to make way for the new. So a time of new life would also be … Read more

Internet Censorship By Controlling Elites Will Not End Well

Like any complex functional system, human society involves distinctions, hierarchies, and lasting connections. The Internet, and electronic media generally, disrupt all that. They make everything equally present to everything else, and put all things on the same footing. Relationships become fluid, and sounds and images can be chopped up and reassembled, so that anything can … Read more

When Concerns for Peripheries Eclipse Interest in the Sacred Other

Modern ways of thinking lead people to moral views that are different from traditional ones, so it’s not surprising they consider themselves morally superior to people in the past. Whether current moral understandings are actually better is nonetheless dubious and deserves investigation. Modern thought wants to take fewer things into consideration but in a more … Read more

What Nationalism Means Today

A piece I wrote last month on globalism and nationalism led to some extremely spirited discussion. A few more comments may be useful. Journalists and commentators today use the word “nationalism” very broadly to refer to any resistance to globalization based on attachment to national identity. This usage lines up with current disputes regarding the legitimacy … Read more

The Conundrum of Progressivism

Progressivism, the view that modern political tendencies should continually be extended, has deep roots. Its beginnings are closely connected to the rise of modern natural science, which rejects the contemplative ideal of knowledge in favor of prediction and control. This approach, which stresses observation, measurement, and mathematical modeling, has led to modern technology and industry. … Read more

Why Divinize the Pope?

Last month, I discussed the tendency among prominent supporters of Pope Francis to speak as if he had very special and even divine qualities. Where does it come from? Some possibilities seem obvious. Any argument looks good if it favors the desired outcome, meaning that people who are convinced the pope’s new initiatives are right … Read more

The Pope as Supreme Being

Pope Francis famously downplays law and doctrinal formulations, which he often associates with Pharisaism, in favor of “discernment,” which seems to involve the direct application of ultimate considerations to particular situations. As he put the matter in his address at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family, “The true defenders of doctrine are not … Read more

What Version of Human Dignity Should Catholics Defend?

Dignitatis Humanae, the Vatican II declaration on religious liberty, appeals to what it says is a growing awareness of human dignity. More recent Vatican pronouncements, including the new language in the Catechism on the death penalty, have done the same. In some ways, it’s easy to see why. The Church holds that God created man … Read more

The World Has Little of Value to Teach the Church

I recently commented on the signs of the times, and noted that they tell us to pay more attention to eternity. The topic deserves further discussion. In the 1960s, it became common for Catholics to look to the world for guidance. This attitude inspired the widespread false belief that Saint John XXIII said the Second Vatican … Read more

When the Church Reads the Signs of the Times

What’s the connection between time and eternity? Twitter and scripture? How can we use human language to speak of divine things? It’s complicated, so it’s not surprising we sometimes get it wrong. Gaudium et Spes, a document of the Second Vatican Council, says the Church should read the signs of the times, so that “in … Read more

The Church’s Answer to Cosmopolitanism

We can’t know the shape of things to come with any certainty. Even so, we have duties as citizens, and our understanding of the way things are headed affects how we carry them out. That makes any given issue something to take seriously. With that in mind, perhaps the most striking tendency of the present … Read more

Why Christian Sexual Morality is Rejected

There are good arguments for traditional Christian sexual morality (CSM), but even so it’s fallen out of favor. Many in the Church have given up on it, saying it’s at most an ideal no one can be held to. What would be needed to bring it back and make it effective? A complete answer seems … Read more

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