Nihilism

Biden/Harris: The Scariest Thing this Halloween

A friend of mine recently called the police to lodge a complaint about a Halloween display in her neighborhood: a life-size figure of the horror-movie slasher, Freddy Krueger holding the bloody, butchered body of a baby in his clawed hands. The police responded that the display was not illegal in any way. My friend, intrepid [...]

Christ in the Waste Land

Thirty-six years ago a small slim book crossed my desk at the offices of National Review in Manhattan. Its title was The Restitution of Man: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism; its author, Michael D. Aeschliman. I slipped it into my briefcase and began reading it over a martini on the flight back to Wyoming. At home, I finished [...]

Two Paths to Hell

Dear Swillpit, The sure way to Hell is by a series of incremental adjustments so small, and seemingly innocuous, that earthlings never notice they are woefully off course until they find themselves aboard Charon’s skiff heading for the opposite shore. A believer who turns against our Adversary in a moment of anger or doubt is [...]

“Quid Est Veritas?”

“For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. Pilate saith to him: What is truth? (Quid est veritas?)” (John 18:37-38). That iconic question of Pontius Pilate rings out through the voices of many [...]

Social Media Makes Us Miserable

And I have known the eyes already, known them all— The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? And how [...]

Civilization and Its Enemies

What is civilization and why is it important? Civilization is many things, but at its heart, it is both the inheritance of societal ideas, customs, and traditions which inform the body, and it is how that body is structurally organized based on that inheritance coupled with the ongoing changes of socio-political development. Western civilization, for [...]

Punk Rock and the Millennial Search for Meaning

Six years ago my bandmates and I sat stranded in a broken down van on the Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel. Though we were nearly 2,500 miles away from our home in Northern Nevada, we naturally assumed that this was just another small bump we would have to endure on our way to rock [...]

Down the Sociological Road to Nihilism

This semester I am teaching a basic undergraduate class in social theory, and the text we use (Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots, The Basics, Ritzer and Stepinsky) presents many “key concepts” in the field. The “definition of the situation,” is one such concept. This idea comes to us via American Pragmatism, and means [...]

Recollections of a World That Is No More

There are fewer than ten years separating the ages of my wife and me, a difference hardly worth mentioning in a marriage of more than thirty years.  Yet the distance between the two worlds we grew up in, the forces that shaped the cultural and religious horizons of our two lives, remains so vastly different [...]

The Priesthood and the Choice

I heard an excellent homily last week, delivered by a young priest who spoke with passion and energy. It was clearly his own take on how the Gospel reading for this daily Mass spoke to him. He crafted it to offer lessons to us. It was beautiful, but that wasn’t what struck me. What moved [...]

Be Hopeful: The Lunacy Can’t Last Forever

In a recent piece published in Crisis I commented on the features of our public life that led the Supreme Court to assert that support for the natural definition of marriage is simply an attempt to harm people. One reader wrote to say he found the piece both convincing and horrific. He noted that it [...]

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 [...]

Our Allotted Time is the Passing of a Shadow: The Modernist Fallacy

Diverse commentators, pundits, and cultural critics seem to relish pointing out that Western societies and cultures, including the American, are rapidly sloughing off the remaining trammels and traces of their Christian heritage. These people proclaim that we are living in a “post-Christian” age, a term that fits the post-modern, post-colonial, post-structuralist mould. While Friedrich Nietzsche, [...]

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