Materialism

Mayor Buttigieg’s God of Feelings

Mr. Peter Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a candidate for the presidency of the United States, has picked a theological quarrel with Mike Pence, the current vice president. The specific focus of the quarrel is not of peculiar interest beyond our times—our peculiar times. The general import is as vast as creation. Political people generally have an outsized [...]

How Now Shall We Live?

From days of old, mankind has wrestled with the question of ethics. In ancient Israel, after fifty years of Babylonian captivity had all but erased God’s providence and law from memory, the Jewish community wondered aloud: “How now shall we live?” The very question presupposes a standard and a purpose. Even the early Greeks, influenced [...]

Human Composting: The Ultimate Denial of the Soul

From time immemorial, people have buried the dead. Sometimes they even risked their lives to carry out this most basic duty. In times of persecution, for example, Christians put themselves in great danger to recover the bodies of martyrs so that they might receive the holy rites of Christian burial. The Old Testament recounts the [...]

The Future of Ownership

Two recent articles take a look at the effect of technology on our consumerist society and reach startlingly different conclusions. One laments that we don’t own as much stuff as we used to, while the other talks about how online shopping has created a nation of hoarders. Can both be true, at the same time? [...]

When Priests and Prelates Dance Around the Golden Calf

After Moses had been up on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights, the children of Israel grew impatient and asked Aaron to make them a god to lead them on their journey through the wilderness (Ex. 32). Aaron complied by taking all the earrings from the wives and daughters and fashioning a golden [...]

How Is a Man Not Like a Computer?

I have just read a fascinating and, to my mind, cheerful article, by the research psychologist Robert Epstein, on why your brain is not a computer—for the simple reason that your brain does not store memories in the way that a computer does, nor does it function according to algorithms. We are not computers but [...]

Dealing with a Walk-Away World

A colleague told me of an intriguing incident at a conference of accountants that were studying recent changes in tax regulations. One speaker gave a talk on recruiting new staff and how to deal with turnover. An attendee then asked a question remarking that from the context of her presentation, it seemed companies were facing [...]

Joy and the Whole Truth about Man

The reality of joy provides, I think, the most obvious refutation of the ideology of materialism—the attempt to reduce human beings and human lives to the body, to matter and its effects. For joy is proper not to the body, but to the spirit. It is the soul that is joyful or joyless, not the [...]

The Fight Before Christmas

Black Friday, 6:15 AM. The checkout lane was already twenty persons deep, but worse—it hadn’t moved in five minutes. As I scanned the other seven lanes, they were no better. Resigned, I took my place in line clutching the electronic gadgetry I had snatched up in my bargain-hunting frenzy. As everyone knows, deep mark-downs await [...]

Is the Universe a Hologram? Well…

In a criticism of creation and intelligent design, Carl Sagan famously quipped, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” What bypassed the critical filters of the late science popularizer is that the extraordinary theories concocted by materialistic scientists not only lack extraordinary evidence, they lack any evidence, and in some cases, any possibility for evidence. Panspermia, parallel [...]

How Material Things Can Lead Us to God

A lady recently wrote me with a question about the role of material things in life. She was confounded by apparent contradictions between living a pious life while enjoying material things that are all around us. She had read the stories of the saints and how they often scorned material things. Since we are all [...]

A Catholic Answer to the Indignities of Modern Man

“When the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life.” ∼ Evangelium Vitae, 21 It is a perplexing fact of history that one of the world’s most prolific mass murderers, Adolf Hitler, was also a vegetarian who abhorred cruelty to animals. This [...]

Abolishing the Moral Order

In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis argued that all the celebratory talk about man’s increasing ability to control nature had a dark side in which some men took control over other men with nature as the instrument. But, so long as the Judeo-Christian understanding of man was dominant, it would be difficult for tyrants [...]

The Godlessness of Cultural Uniformity

A story in Florence, Italy recently caught the attention of many around the world. It was big news when public outcry caused Florentine city officials to backtrack from an agreement to let a McDonald’s open in the historic Piazza del Duomo, not far from Florence’s historic fifteenth-century cathedral. It would harm the identity of the [...]

The Return of the Absent Clockmaker

At a certain point in modern times, it was decided that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, should stay out of the business of running the world he created. Supposedly, men could do it much better without him. All this was done, mind you, with a certain amount of tact and propriety so as [...]

Well-Being vs. Well-Feeling: On Defining True Happiness

In the twenty years since the publication of Deal Hudson’s marvelous book Happiness and the Limits of Satisfaction, the eclipse of Greek and Christian ideas about happiness by the pursuit of pleasure, of “well-feeling” rather than “well-being,” has only advanced. This movement has been deepened and accelerated by my colleagues in the social and behavioral [...]

Dawkins’ Unholy Trinity: Incoherency, Hypocrisy and Bigotry

Earlier this month, the BBC interviewed E.O. Wilson (a highly reputable emeritus Professor of Entomology at Harvard University) asking him about his differing views on natural selection with Richard Dawkins. He responded that: There is no dispute between me and Richard Dawkins and there never has been, because he’s a journalist, and journalists are people [...]

What if the 1960s took a Christian Course?

The 1960s were intended as a rebellion against the materialism, mindless conformity, soullessness, and general inhumanity and immorality of commercial and bureaucratic (“corporate and militaristic”) America. The answer, it was thought, could be found in freeing ourselves from a society gone wrong by rejection of social forms, pursuit of intense experience, and “doing your own [...]

Is the Left Waging a War on Religion?

Is the left waging a war on religion? Peter Beinart doesn’t think so, and published a piece in The Atlantic explaining how the war on religion is just a silly conservative canard. As obtuse as this argument might seem, his missive is instructive as a tutorial in how egregiously modern progressives fail to understand what [...]

The Reasonableness of Religious Belief

I have always been a believer. Among other reasons, that’s because I think rationality demands it. When I talk about “belief” here, I mean it in a very broad sense, which is not synonymous with “Catholic” or even “Christian”; Sikhs, Hindus and Zoroastrians might all qualify, and I myself was raised in the LDS church [...]

Finances in Light of the Call for a Poor Church

Crisis recently featured a stimulating discussion on finances centered on Dave Ramsey’s principles of financial planning. The first piece by Richard Becker, “Of Dave Ramsey, Babies, and Birth Control,” contrasted Ramsey’s approach to finances with Catholic openness to life. The response by Stephen Herreid, “Dave Ramsey—Our Favorite Catechist,” countered by arguing that Ramsey’s principles are [...]

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