Randall B. Smith

Randall B. Smith is Professor of Theology and current holder of the Scanlan Foundation Chair in Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. He was also the 2011-12 Myser Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture.

recent articles

The Latest Attack on San Francisco’s Archbishop

One might have imagined the headline “Showers for the Homeless” would have brought a certain relief, a certain sense of “what a good idea.” But not in San Francisco. As anyone following the latest dust-up in the San Francisco ideology wars will know, the archbishop and the rector of the Cathedral of San Francisco are … Read more

When Catholic Colleges Abandon Theology Requirements

A major Catholic university is scheduled to consider this year whether it will cut its meager two-course requirements in Philosophy and Theology to one or none. Why, you may ask, would a Catholic institution be inclined to cut the two disciplines that have traditionally been entrusted with the task of imparting the specifically Catholic elements … Read more

Why St. Thomas Becket was Martyred

Many people who venerate the name of Thomas Becket (and/or love the movie with Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole that carries his name) likely do not understand the cause for which he was martyred, and if they did learn it, would likely be scandalized given our current presuppositions concerning the prerogatives of the omnipotent State … Read more

Logic: What’s Missing from Public Discourse

What often passes for public discourse in contemporary society is really just a simulacrum, an imitation, of real “discourse” in the sense of a “reasoned exchange of ideas.”  One realizes before long how much we are suffering from the current lack of that key ingredient within all older forms of liberal arts education: namely, logic. … Read more

Why We Need More Canon Lawyers

We’ve all known administrators who were hired to do a certain job, but when they found they couldn’t do that job, they either tried to do everyone else’s job or else tried to change the job into something else completely.  This problem is not uncommon, for example, among functionaries who do fund-raising for colleges.  They … Read more

Jesus Christ Superstar Now

When I was a kid, the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” was all the rage.  Both the local high school and my parents’ church (a large United Christ Methodist affair) each put on large, well-attended performances of the “rock opera” that included the entire teen choir.  The biggest questions were always: Whose booming bass voice would … Read more

Suicide’s Tormented Souls

The story couldn’t have been more tragic. Twin brothers, born deaf, with a genetic disorder that was causing them to go blind at the age of 43.  After a lifetime of communicating by signing, what were they to do?  The twins would have been cut off from each other, it seemed. It was simply too … Read more

After Architectural Modernism

It was the summer of 1947. The Second World War was still a painful recent memory, and much of Europe was still a bombed-out shambles.  The Korean War was still three years in the future, and the Second Vatican Council wouldn’t convene its opening sessions for another fifteen years.  During this summer, a fifty year-old … Read more

The Reform We Need

Amidst of all the joys of a new pope and my continuing wonder at the smooth transition effected by cardinals who pray deeply and follow a centuries-old tradition, there was one deep sorrow about the papal transition: being forced to read the repeated slanders in the press about my beloved Pope Benedict XVI.  Media outlets … Read more

Dewey or Don’t We? Why Our Kids are Messed Up

In the first part of this essay, I suggested that an educational system dominated by the philosophical baggage of logical positivism and reductivist materialism, animated by fear of “falling behind” others in math, science, and technology, and focused primarily on training students for a job, had left America’s children bereft of the knowledge and skills … Read more

Dewey or Don’t We? Why Our Kids are Messed Up

“Personally, I’d prefer a kinder, gentler set of relationships: more like the give-and-take of an elegant dance than the rough-and-tumble of the full-contact sport that is the modern hook-up culture.  For that to happen, however, parents would have to remember that teaching their children how to dance, how to date, and how to court and … Read more

Courtship, Etiquette, and the Adolescent Male

I had to apologize for my species again today.  Not the usual apology for the species that one has to give to the global-warming and population bomb crowd.  But the usual apology for my species that I as a male am accustomed to giving to adolescent females, especially when it comes to the behavior of … Read more

Raising the Bar: Christianity and Liberal Arts in the University

I fear we Christians have lived so long in the shadow of the Enlightenment that, in our apologetic mode, we sometimes forget something we should undoubtedly remember:  that in an earlier time, the question was not (as it so often is now) “Can a great university be Christian?” but rather “Can a great university be … Read more

Curiosities about Counting

We live in an Age of Endless Numbers.  We count everything:  batting averages, how many Kindles were sold last week, the average speed of drivers on Highway 64 at 6 a.m., the number of breast cancer patients in Alabama over the age of 50.  Very few things in our society remain uncounted.  And yet numbers … Read more

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