Is “Easy Rider” a Catholic Film?

The late Dennis Hopper's film is associated of course with the counter culture; in fact, in the 1970s it inspired a bunch of movies that did not exactly uphold the values of traditional morality and the Establishment. Now, or a few weeks ago at least, conservative commenters say that all along the film has been [...]

Cardinal O’Malley defends school decision

Last week, I mentioned that a Boston-area Catholic school had declined to re-enroll a boy with lesbian parents, but that the archdiocese was looking to place the student in another Catholic school. On his personal blog yesterday, Cardinal Sean O'Malley defended the archdiocese's decision: In Boston we are beginning to formulate policies and practices to [...]

The Liberal Arts and Sexual Morality

Are the liberal arts and sexual morality connected? There is strong evidence that they are, for if we graph their development over the last half-century, we will see an almost identical curve of accelerating decline. Although this proves nothing, it certainly suggests something worth exploring more deeply. Spectacular proof of the decline of the liberal [...]

Father Martin is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

Normally, when seeing author James Carroll write things like, "Celibacy cuts to the heart of what is wrong in the Catholic Church today," I would roll my eyes and move on. But over at America Magazine, Father Jim Martin isn't taking the insult lying down. Father Martin first quotes from Carroll's article: No, celibacy does [...]

Clothe the Naked

"Nake" is an extinct English word meaning to strip clothes off. To be "naked," therefore, is to be in a state of having had your clothes stripped off.Why does this bit of pedantry matter? Because it speaks volumes about what our ancestors regarded as the "natural state of man." It is not until after the [...]

Seven Ways the Bishops Should Respond to Sex Abuse

To rebuild the trust of U.S. Catholics in the Church and its leaders and to make reparations to the victims left in the wake of this scandal, the bishops need to address several points:1. The bishops should make clear that this is a crisis and that they are not conducting business as usual. Powerful men [...]

Why Attack the Pope?

   Sexual abuse is deplorable, no matter where it occurs. But one wonders: Why the near hysteria regarding sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, most of which occurred decades ago, from a society that celebrates the lack of constraints against almost every form of sexual activity, no matter how degraded? Is there any other instance [...]

Wendell Berry Friday

If you ask me, we're way overdue for a Wendell Berry reading around here. In Berry's essay The Use of Energy, he reflects on the agrarian ethos, the connection between religion and energy, and the role of living things, tools, and machines. He concludes that the energy crisis is not one of technology, but of [...]

Debating ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

It's a heated debate: Should Congress go along with the request -- recently made by President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that was adopted by Congress and President Bill Clinton in 1993? Should [...]

Natural Law and Abortion

  In the current opposition to abortion on moral grounds, the "right to life" principle has attained an indisputable hegemony. But numerous exceptions to this principle are admitted, even by those who stand firmly by the general rule. Self-defense in the face of unjust aggression or threats to life is almost universally approved; just war [...]

The Failure of Darwinism to Explain Morality

"As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman’s arguments; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out." G.K. Chesterton In the struggle to survive, the fit win, and so it is also [...]

Feminists and Moral Consciousness

Since writing The Thrill of the Chaste -- a recovery manual for grown-ups who missed the memo on abstinence -- I have addressed all kinds of people, from fishermen in Alaska to unwed moms in New York City, pornographers at "Sex Week at Yale" to hooting Catholic schoolboys in Drogheda, Ireland. But never have I [...]

The Beatitudes

  Over Lent, we took a good long look at one of the legs of Catholic moral teaching: the Ten Commandments.   Some people have the notion that the Ten Commandments are pretty much all you need for Catholic moral teaching. Hew to them and you'll be a moral person -- and being a moral [...]

The Fifth Commandment

  It's a simple-sounding proposition: "You shall not kill" (Ex 20:13). And some people, such as pacifists, are absolutists in understanding it to mean that all killing is forbidden. But, in fact, that is not what the commandment means. In Hebrew, the Fifth Commandment forbids the taking of innocent human life. Both war and the [...]

Bernie Madoff, Victim

Poor Bernie Madoff! He's not a bad guy. He was operating according to the prevailing rules of present-day morality. He was bringing a lot of happiness to a lot of people, including himself. And then he ran into a streak of bad luck. Unfortunate things happened -- surprising things, things beyond his expectation or control; [...]

Catholic Feelings of Inferiority

In a recent article for InsideCatholic, I argued that churches that turn toward theological liberalism soon begin going downhill in terms of their membership. As these churches adhere to less and less of traditional Christian doctrine and morality, their membership shrinks. For a church to become theologically liberal is to opt for institutional suicide, or [...]

Our Age’s Reigning Sin: Now on DVD

Periodically I hear or read of a film that's a "must-see" for Catholics. Depending on who's recommending it, I'll find out that the film is essential because it:   Affirms the sanctity of life. (Bella) Celebrates the fundamental goodness of every person, even the simplest. (Forrest Gump) Dramatizes a sacramental vision of life. (Babette's Feast) [...]

Coming to Our Senses: The Moral Sense of Scripture

  Discussing the moral sense of Scripture would seem easy. After all, we're talking the Good Book here. Even when they were busy abandoning Christianity as supernatural revelation from God, Americans for the past couple of generations still tended to treat the Bible as a Solid Moral Code Enshrining Tested Values with some lingering respectability. [...]

Why Abortion and the Iraq War Are Not Equivalent

The intricacies of Catholic moral theology have never been my strong suit. Rather than use the law to nitpick and condemn people, I'm far too inclined to be on the side of the sinner and give people the benefit of the doubt. For those who quibble over the morality of a particular action, I'm too [...]

A Good Book About Bad Books

If ever there were a book designed specifically for the enjoyment of InsideCatholic readers, surely it is Benjamin Wiker's new 10 Books that Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others that Didn't Help. Wiker should be renowned (if he is not already) for Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists -- a book that at once [...]