Modernity

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 [...]

A Defense of the Grotesque in Flannery O’Connor’s Art

Art is the pulse of the soul. It expresses much of what is kept hidden and even what could not be expressed in any other form. Many people talk of a crisis in modern art—its abstractness, banality, and, could we even say, ugliness. If there is such a crisis, to me, it is nothing other [...]

Christianity: Foundation of Western Success

In his famous critique of John Stuart Mill, Mill and Liberalism (1963) the Cambridge historian Maurice Cowling underscored just how much the views advanced by self-identified liberals were underpinned by the conviction that their conception of the historical background to any number of events is more-or-less universally accepted. Sometimes they are right in making that [...]

Conservatism: Its Meaning and Prospects

Conservatism at bottom is resistance to the technocratic project, the modern attempt to turn the social world into a sort of universal machine for the maximum satisfaction of preferences. That project has been growing up for a long time. It comes out of an understanding of knowledge and the world with its roots in the [...]

A Catholic Response to Utopian Modernity

The world goes its own way without much regard for the Church, because it has very little regard for truth—that is to say, for reality. The problems go to the roots of current ways of thinking. The modern movement of thought began as an attempt to attain security and certainty by emphasizing what is practical [...]

Beauty and Tradition Unmask Nihilistic Modernity

Mark Signorelli recently reviewed Gregory Wolfe’s book Beauty Will Save the World and characterized it as self-contradictory. I could not finish the book after having started enthusiastically, since it did not address my own interests in architecture and urbanism. Wolfe treats many writers whom I have not read, and the visual artists he embraces strike me [...]

“The Goodness and Humanity of God”

The sub-title of J. Budziszewski’s 2009 book, The Line Through the Heart, reads as follows: “Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction.” The initial dedicatory citation in the book, from which the book derives its title, is a memorable one from Alexander Solzhenitsyn. It reads: “The line dividing good and evil cuts through [...]

Out of the Wreckage

The Sixties wanted Paradise Now: a paradise that ignores the distant and difficult in favor of the immediate and effortless. We wouldn’t transcend life’s conflicts and difficulties by striving after a higher unity, we’d abolish them by denying them recognition. Each would do his thing and follow his bliss, and all would be well. As [...]

The Liberal Arts: Dawson’s Prerequisite for the Reconstruction of Christendom

One of the greatest Catholic intellects and writers of the twentieth century, Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), worried deeply about the ideological, political, and cultural crises of the western world during the entirety of his adult life. The root of the problem, Dawson had come to believe between the two world wars, was the fundamental decline in [...]

Why Catholics Should Oppose Security, Efficiency, and Liberal “Rights” as the Nation’s Highest Social Values

The Church favors peace, and her basic concern—leading men to God—is not specifically political. For that reason, her approach to politics has generally been irenic. She urges the faithful to obey the law, respect the powers that be, and interpret motives in a favorable light. She offers criticism at times, since she has her own [...]

Irony of Ironies: Vatican II Triumphs Over Moribund Modernity

Few expressions are better guaranteed to spark passionate debates among Catholics today than two words: “Vatican II.” Though most Catholics today were born after the Council closed in 1965, the fiftieth anniversary of the Council’s 1962 opening on 11 October this year will surely reignite the usual controversies about its significance. Much discussion will undoubtedly [...]

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