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 [...]

Raising the Stakes

Recently I caught ten minutes of a ghastly television show called House.  It’s a medical drama whose scripts, filming, direction, and acting cover the spectrum from dour to grim.  The doctors were attempting to determine why an eighteen-year-old girl was suffering life-threatening convulsions. One guess was that they were severe reactions to an allergen.  “But [...]

Spitting on the Crucifix

In the coming months we will learn whether America’s long experiment in ordered liberty must finally be declared dead. It has of late been coughing up plenty of blood.  Consider the public school system: nor forget that what is implied by the word “system” is a vast coordinated network of elementary and secondary schools nearly identical [...]

The Controversial Faith of Barack Obama

President Obama’s recent statement on gay marriage has again thrust his religious views onto the front pages. In defending his position, Obama stressed that he and his wife were “practicing Christians” and that his stance was supported by Christ’s teaching of the Golden Rule. Since his quest to win the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois [...]

The Mad March to Sanity

By the time this little piece of writing runs, this year’s mad march towards the crowning of an NCAA college basketball champion will have begun it’s climactic careen. It is likely that at one point or another over a hundred million people will tune in to watch sixty-plus teams vie for the honor of cutting [...]

People Say the Darnedest Things

Those of you past a certain age may remember the old Art Linkletter show “Kids Say the Darndest [sic] Things.” The one I still remember was when Linkletter asked a little boy if he looked like his daddy. “No,” replied the boy innocently, “I look like the mailman.” Well, adults say the darnedest things, too. [...]

The Necessity of Miracles

Kenneth Woodward in The Book of Miracles makes a distinction among various types of miracles and their significance. In the multiple branchings-out of Hinduism, miracles are taken as signs of spiritual power as well as compassion for others. Miracles of Hindu gods like Krishna and holy men like Shankara and the “poet saints” consist of [...]

Religious Freedom and the Triumph of the Therapeutic

Religious-freedom infringement occurs quite a bit in American legal practice, and it makes sense that it does; for, those in charge of securing the common good of the community, as well as the rights of individuals, have the right and obligation to ban practices that are a direct and serious threat to it.

The Pope Told You So

Our many fellow Catholics now enchained for the Faith of our Fathers in such places as China, Syria, and Egypt are, as Father Faber's hymn says, “in heart and conscience free.” But what happens when a government tries to chain the conscience itself? A few weeks ago, in a remarkably unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court [...]

Art & Liturgy: The Splendor of Faith

This essay originally appeared in the October 1998 edition of Crisis Magazine.   Thirty years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, liturgical reform remains one of the most contested topics of Catholic debate. The subject, most often discussed from either the dogmatic or historical perspective, leaves little time for the powerful role played [...]

Gift Books of Christian Wisdom: A Syllabus for Our Era

Despite the recent, precipitous decline in Western education, most people do realize that going to college entails reading books. Of course, thoughtful men question the kinds of books which students are getting assigned these days. As a remedy, I’d like to list books almost no one in college will mention to students. Hopefully, they will [...]

Faith, Reason, and Fantasy

“The road to fairyland is not the road to Heaven; nor even to Hell, I believe, though some have held that it may lead thither indirectly by the Devil's tithe. ”  So wrote Tolkien in his essay “On Fairy Stories.” This single sentence in brief summarized the whole of the controversy in religious circles over [...]

Books for Christmas

If memory serves, this past year saw electronic books top printed books in the sales figures at Be that as it may, books—real books—still make wonderful Christmas gifts. Here are some recently published (and read) titles I can recommend with enthusiasm. The Union War, by Gary W. Gallagher (Harvard University Press): As the Civil [...]

Satanism: A Primer

L’Osservatore Romano's English edition (Jan. 29—Mar. 5 1997), ran five essays on “Satanism.” Reference was made there to an earlier study written by an unnamed French theologian entitled “Faith and Demonology,” published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 1975. The latter document covers the history of papal and Church thinking on [...]

Losing the Faith

Estimates vary, but as much as 25 percent of the American populace is Catholic -- though that number is falling. Islam is on the rise in Europe and America, if its members simply continue reproducing (which they are not doing in some countries). Europeans and Americans continue their population decline. We see many conversions to [...]

Let the Children Come to Me

I remember seriously questioning the existence of God when I was eleven years old. I don’t think I was that unusual; like most children, I wondered about things, and God seemed to be the biggest thing I could wonder about. Unfortunately, very few adults besides my parents engaged me about the Faith -- and if [...]

Charisms Don’t Make You a Saint

One of the big puzzles that many Catholics have grappled with in recent years is the baffling phenomenon of some charismatic figure (one thinks of a Rev. Marcial Maciel, for instance) who can, for years, inspire or otherwise offer blessing and solace to good and decent Christians who are full of faith and obedient to [...]

Faith in a Public School

I'm collecting the essays day by day in big batches from a post office in central London. By the end of this month, when the deadline arrives, there will be hundreds and hundreds of them, and I've already made arrangements, as I do every year, for a team of judges to meet at a venue [...]

Love Is Not Feelings

Last week, we talked a bit about the meaning of concupiscence in the Church's moral tradition. The good news about concupiscence is that it is not sin but merely the "tinder for sin," and therefore temptation is not a revelation of what a disgusting disappointment we are to God, but is in fact the field [...]

Faith of Our Fathers

  In 1776, at the time of the Declaration of Independence, there were no more than twenty-five thousand Catholics in all of the thirteen colonies, mostly located in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York -- 1 percent of the two-and-a-half-million total population. There were only twenty-three priests in all, and the next highest authority was the [...]