cultural / political elite

Is Brett Kavanaugh the New Scalia—or Just Another Kennedy?

As the United States has grown more and more ideologically polarized, the divide has been magnified on the Supreme Court. The divisions on the Court made Justice Anthony Kennedy the most powerful man in America by 2018 because he was often the Court’s swing vote on important decisions. Where the swing vote of the Supreme [...]

The Rise of the “Amazonian” Elites

In his treatise The Rise and Fall of Elites, Vilfredo Pareto proffers the thesis that “the history of man is the history of the continuous replacement of elites: as one ascends, another declines.” Unduly reductive as this contention is, Pareto attunes us to the persistent presence of elites in even the most revolutionary and populist [...]

The Liberal Religion

Some time ago I argued in a magazine column that liberalism has developed in recent decades from a rigidly secular political philosophy into a this-worldly religion with its own more or less developed though unsystematic dogma based on faith and a reciprocal concept of heresy, its own unwritten creed and sacramental system, a loose rhetorical [...]

Sauron Comes to Middle England

Tolkien, the new biopic about the master storyteller’s life, has come under criticism for giving the impression that Tolkien’s service in World War I was the decisive influence on his work. In fact, Tolkien was far more influenced by other factors—in particular by his love of mythology, and by his strong Catholic faith. Before her [...]

Coming Out of the Closet

It was the late 1990s, and I went up to Rolling Stone on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan to say hello to my old friend Bobby Love who was the longtime managing editor. I had worked at Rolling Stone for a short while many years before and had made many friends and drinking buddies, including Bobby [...]

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 [...]

The Human Gated Community

They have become ubiquitous: communities of the living that can be entered only by passing a guard house or punching some numbers into an electronic pad. They are brazenly distinct from the rest of the world where communities grow organically and one can pass freely into a neighborhood or onto a street without challenge. Punching in [...]

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 [...]

Confessions of an American Bead Counter

“They count rosaries…. Please don’t laugh.”  ∼ Pope Francis Thomas De Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, by turns glamorizing and ruing his dependence, was first printed anonymously in 1821. Its succès de scandale emboldened the father of addiction literature to acknowledge paternity in an official edition the following year. Literary cachet notwithstanding, quotidian journals didn’t approve. [...]

Stick It to the Man

Good friends came over the other night with their six kids to watch School of Rock, the story of never-was rocker Dewey Finn who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a swank middle school. Rather than teach the usual curriculum, he teaches them rock ‘n' roll so they can win a Battle of the [...]

Good Bishops Willingly Defy Hostile Cultural Elites

How many tax collectors might have worked in first century Palestine? Every time Jesus of Nazareth associated with sinners, his pariahs of choice were tax collectors. He uttered the phrase “tax collectors and sinners” over a dozen times in the Synoptic Gospels and paired tax collectors and prostitutes—notably smacking the Pharisees with, “Truly I tell [...]

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 [...]

“Trumpification” of the Pro-Life Movement?

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, warns the pro-life movement of the dangers of “Trumpification.” Citing the presence of political figures at the recent March for Life—principally Republican ones, including a video message from the president—he warns that even if conservatives in the pro-life movement succeed in overturning Roe v. [...]

What Explains the Growth of Fake News?

Recently, within just a couple days of each other, we saw two particularly egregious cases of mainstream media journalists and commentators frenetically trumpeting dubious news stories that were quickly debunked. The first was the anonymously sourced story from Buzzfeed News claiming that hard evidence exists of Donald Trump directing his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie [...]

Why Catholics Should Sympathize with Nationalism

President Trump’s criticism of globalism and praise of nationalism have drawn scathing criticism. For many, “globalism” suggests universal human solidarity, while “nationalism” suggests aggression, self-seeking, and idolizing a particular state and people. Others say that “nationalism” is right-wing code for white supremacy, and “globalism” for rule by shadowy Jewish financial interests. Such responses obscure real [...]

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. [...]

None Dare Call It Treason

One could be forgiven for thinking that a traitor is a rare bird. After all, most Americans can only name one traitor in American history—Benedict Arnold. And, if you know who he is, you probably went to school several decades ago when such things were still taught. Of course, there have been other traitors besides [...]

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 [...]

What’s Next for Irish Pro-lifers?

There has been much ink spilt over the recent referendum result in Ireland. Analysis of the reasons as to why the vote was lost may, however, provide seeds for a strategy to win similar debates in the future. For the first time in Irish politics, the former fault lines of Irish politics—anti versus pro-British, Protestant versus [...]

The Islamization of England and the Arrest of Tommy Robinson

“Liverpool star Mohamed Salah’s unapologetic Muslim faith sends extraordinary message.” That’s the headline on an NBC story about the Egyptian sports star who plays for the Liverpool soccer club. Salah prays before each game and prostrates himself in prayer after every goal he scores. He is also popular with fans, contributes to charities and is [...]

Catholicism and Celebrity Culture at the Met

Catholicism and haute couture made a gauche fashion statement at the recent Met Gala, a major fundraising event for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. The event, celebrated annually on the first Monday in the Blessed Mother’s month of May, is the hottest ticket in New York City’s world of fashion. This year’s Met [...]

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