community

In the Culture of Death, Abortion is a Sacrament

The feminist writer Florynce Kennedy once said, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” She didn’t give the left enough credit. Abortion has become a kind of “sacrament” because women can get pregnant. Abortion has morphed from a taboo tragedy to a constitutional right: a sine qua non of the Democratic Party, [...]

What the Trinity Reveals About God and Us

I once heard someone say that the most popular time for pastors to leave town is Trinity Sunday. How true that is, I don’t know. What I do know is that during fifty plus years in the pews I have never heard a comprehensive sermon on the subject. I suspect my experience is not unique. [...]

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 [...]

The Consequences of Losing Catholic Culture

One of the best essayists writing today is Joseph Epstein, the long-time faculty member in the English Department of Northwestern University and the former Editor-in-Chief of The American Scholar. Over the years, Epstein’s work has appeared in numerous places—sometimes with a select readership and sometimes with a more general readership. Epstein’s essay comparing the Chicago [...]

Why No Civility Is Possible Today

Civility means to act as one would in a settled city wherein law and manners, not force and passion, guide the interchanges of the public order as well as the normal affairs of men within their homes and voluntary associations. Civility presupposes reason, but includes courtesy, compassion, and good taste. It usually involves a written [...]

The Problem with Facebook Mommy Groups

The days are long and lonely for millennial moms who are often living outside of Catholic community simply because there are so few of us going to Mass and even fewer having babies. In a society that claims children as the heaviest burden we 20-somethings can undertake, we ache for the companionship of other mothers with [...]

How Modernity Undermines Our Need for Rootedness

My wife and I recently decided that we needed to move out of our house. The most pressing reason was that, unfortunately, we discovered mold in the girls’ room. For the sake of our health, we quickly came to the conclusion that the only choice for us was to find a new house. The reality [...]

When Our Memory Fails Us

When I was a lad of about six in the early 1960s, I went with my father to see my beloved Philadelphia Phillies play. At the time, my baseball hero was center fielder Tony Gonzales. Thrilled when he hit a home run to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, I could [...]

Party with the Old, Play with the Young

An unfortunate occurrence in our era is the isolation of age groups, the idealization of youth, and the neglect of both the elderly and the very young. By isolating the age groups, gratitude and sacrificial love fall out of practice. But when generations live together, life falls into proper perspective, which fosters receptivity to the [...]

Society Suffers when Means Become Ends

Several years ago, a friend of mine told me a story about an interaction he had with his father one night after playing in a high school basketball game. In that game, my friend’s team was losing badly and he committed a lazy foul, scowled at the referee as if he hadn’t done anything, then [...]

How to Identify a Healthy Culture

How should we judge the health of a culture? We might do it by pointing to its greatest virtues. The Greek city states between 500 and 300 B.C., though they were not especially densely populated, gave the west the architectural “language” it still employs for everything from grand hotels to private homes. The colonial house, [...]

Social Media and the Sacrament of the Present Moment

Why are people who quit social media so amusing? After years of embroiled use, a bad break up, a nasty spat, a vague feeling of listlessness, another Luddite throws up his hands and renounces social media with—of all things—a tweet or a Facebook status: “Friends, I’m deactivating my account in a week. I can’t take [...]

There and Back Again

The mythologist Joseph Campbell discerned that the pattern of the hero’s quest is for the classic hero to be discontented in his ordinary world, hear the call of adventure, embark on a great quest and then return to the ordinary world bearing a great gift for the salvation and redemption of the ordinary folks left [...]

Keeping the Feast: The Unity of Faith & Life

My friend Jeremiah sent me a link to the music video for the song “Dégénération,” by the French-Canadian band Mes Aïeux. In the video, an elderly Québécois farmer shovels dirt from a pile into a wheelbarrow before trudging deliberately down the furrows of a field to meet a slightly younger woman who scoops some into [...]

Contemporary Challenges to Family Unity

Absence often manifests the importance of presence. I think of my one year old son Raphael. When my wife is not at home, he looks at me and utters a plaintive interrogative, "Mama?" "Mama will be home soon," I respond, hoping the tone and feeling behind my words will convey a comfort their meaning cannot. [...]

Obama Misrepresents Catholic Schools

Recently visiting Northern Ireland for the G8 meeting at Lough Erne, President Obama said this during his now-traditional speech to local young people: If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages [...]

Great Gatsby’s Facebook Mansion

The Great Gatsby (the book; I haven’t seen the movie yet) describes a particular kind of life that used to be the sole property of well-heeled WASPs. They were the privileged ones who came from all parts of the country to convene on The East—New York, Boston, New Haven. They could afford all the new [...]

Leo XIII: “Without Faith, Liberty Degenerates into License”

The good and wise Pope Leo XIII never condemned an error without commending a truth.  In this series on Catholic Social Teaching, then, I believe I should follow the Holy Father’s example.  It’s easy to inveigh against what Leo condemns; more rewarding, though, to reveal the beauty of what he commends.  In this essay, then, [...]

The Nation of Alcatraz

President Clinton, wagging his finger in accusation, has said that the Republican philosophy of government is, “You’re on your own.”  The sheer absurdity of the statement staggers the mind.  I doubt there is a single person in the nation who knows, even approximately, the number of government programs at all levels instituted to assist the [...]

The Case Against School-Based Clinics

Let me start by telling a story. I was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I lived before coming to Washington. Chapel Hill is a fairly typical up-and-coming community. I think it would be fair to call parts of Chapel Hill a home of Yuppiedom — very successful, wealthy young professionals on the way up. [...]

The Small Community Revival: Solving Social Problems On a Human Scale

The revitalization of our federal system of government promises to be one of the enduring legacies of the administration of Ronald Reagan. Certainly it has been an essential ingredient in its electoral success. Ronald Reagan has understood the essence of federalism in a way that few other conservative public figures have in recent decades. Until [...]

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