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Are We a Nation of Liars?

A few days ago, former President Barack Obama announced that “there’s no actual evidence that there was anything illegal or fraudulent taking place.” That the former president is lying is obvious: Obama cannot be unaware of the evidence, from multiple whistleblower reports, to the multistate discovery of uncounted, wrongly counted, and ballots counted multiple times, to the huge vote [...]

Life, Like Baseball, Demands Order

Baseball, it should never be forgotten, is a game.  But it is not just a game.  Because of the way it employs life and death metaphors, its analogy with human drama is compelling if not totally convincing.  A runner may “die” on third, but not literally.  A batter may stay “alive” if he fouls off [...]

Pluralism, Religious Belief, and Civic Virtue: How to Reopen the American Mind

Everyone is reading Allan Bloom. It is not necessary these days even to mention the title of his number one best-seller, The Closing of the American Mind. Simply mention Bloom's name and somebody else is also reading his book. That this book has become a best-seller is no surprise. No one who reads it comes [...]

Sense and Nonsense: On Being Sheared

Once I asked Scott Walter about where to find available books by Josef Pieper, who remains, I think, the best, certainly the clearest, of Christian philosophers. Scott told me to try Thomas and Karen Loome, Booksellers. "All you need to tell them is what you want." This procedure was generous enough, of course, but what [...]

The Death Penalty What Should Be the Christian Attitude?

And may God have mercy on your soul. The judge's face is quiet and stern as his level voice ceases. Death. The words hang in the air. The courtroom is hushed. Dust motes dance in a bar of sunlight. The jury look down at their laps. A gray-haired woman weeps silently. Somewhere in the distance [...]

“Built Wiser Than They Knew” The Constitution and the Wealth of Nations

By a stroke of genius, the film The Name of the Rose (like the book itself) casts that fourteenth-century Sherlock Holmes and early Whig, the English monk Baskerville (Sean Connery), as a Dominican friar in the order of St. Thomas Aquinas. From the very first moments, Baskerville is committed to being attentive, to being engaged [...]

A Short Road to Perfection

It is the saying of holy men that, if we wish to be perfect, we have nothing more to do than to perform the ordinary duties of the day well. A short road to perfection — short, not because easy, but because pertinent and intelligible. There are no short ways to perfection, but there are [...]

Quodlibets: On Protesting Too Much

God did not become man in order that men might become theologians, as the saint said, nor did God choose to save his people by means of dialectic. Presumably, too, being in constant dispute with other Catholics is not of the essence of being a Catholic. But it sure is hard to avoid. It was [...]

Sense and Nonsense: The Partisans of Excellence

In an old Peanuts sketch, from a book Scott Walter once gave me, Linus and Charlie Brown are seen walking across the countryside. Linus says to Charlie, “I have a theological question. . . .” Next, they are seen, caps on, leaning on a stone fence, as Linus continues: “When you die and go to [...]

Sense and Nonsense: In Grace, Perpetual Novelty

Dennis Bartlett, in San Francisco, lent me his copy of A Spiritual Aeneid, which is Ronald Knox’s autobiography, first published in 1918. Dennis has a 1958 Sheed & Ward edition with a Preface by Evelyn Waugh. I actually intend to return this book someday. As I also have an edition of The Pastoral Sermons of [...]

Power, Prejudice, and Porn in a “Catholic” University

June 1983 You know, I really loved the place. And things were going so very well. I'd won a Faculty Research Grant. I'd been picked for summer teaching. I had been asked to develop a course for the honors program, and worked in its guided research division as well. I'd had some other research grants. [...]

Sense and Nonsense: Angels

“For who will dare to say or believe that it was not in God’s power to prevent both angels and men from sinning? But God preferred to leave this in their power, and thus to show both what evil could be wrought by their pride, and what good by His grace.” —St. Augustine, City of [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

The situation of laymen is very different from country to country. So is the awareness of the dignity and of the tasks of laymen as they were outlined in the constitution Lumen Gentium and the decree Apostolicam Actuositatem by the Second Vatican Council. While in Germany, where I write these lines, there exists a long [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

Changes in the role of the laity in the Catholic Church over the next twenty-five years are difficult to project in particulars; general and substantive changes are not likely to be significantly different from changes that have taken place in the last twenty-five years. Those changes have been minimal in contrast with changes in the [...]

The Believer As Citizen: How To Link Faith and Politics

Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, in the October 18 issue of America, has published a piece entitled "The Church in Worldly Affairs: Tensions Between Laity and Clergy." Much popular press reaction has linked that essay to a "progressive" vs. "conservative" ecclesiological conflict within Church leadership. That is understandable enough, for Archbishop Weakland seems clearly to [...]

Illusions and Realities: Against the Necklace

Since no one else seems outraged, let me raise a small voice against the cruel method of torture that is being practiced in South Africa. It is not often shown in all its horror on TV. It is called "the necklace," and it is symptomatic of troubles ahead. Suppose that you were trying to be [...]

Empty Liturgies: Where Sentiment Triumphs Over Transcendence

Councils of the Church do not always turn out as close participants thought, as I learned at Vatican I. So it has been sobering to an historian to observe below the fate of Vatican II. I seem to detect a universal consensus that "the spirit of Vatican II" was destructive of the true life of [...]

Free Persons and the Common Good

One of the achievements of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ economic pastoral is its restoration to a place of honor of the classic Catholic concept of the common good. This step alone marks a reconnection of Catholic social thought to its Thomistic origins, at a moment in history in which certain themes of Thomistic thinking are [...]

A Case Study: Can Catholic Schools Remain Catholic?

Nowadays, people seem to think that schools can achieve inherently contradictory aims. For example, educators in Catholic schools often blithely pass over the friction between their desire to teach students to be tolerant of people who hold different values and the school's stated purpose of enhancing the students' appreciation of religion. Nor do such educators [...]

Documentation: Mass on Students’ Day

Cartegena, Colombia June 8-9, 1983  1.  INITIAL ACTIONS Priest — Liberation and peace in the name of the Father of the oppressed and Jesus our Brother, for all those present here and for all of the People. Response — Yes, let peace and liberation come for all the oppressed of our fatherland and the world. P [...]

Our Tradition: Southern Conversions

Shortly before the Civil War, Henry Timrod lamented the fate of the "poor scribbler so unfortunate as to be born south of the Potomac," for it was a firm conviction in the North, he said, that genius "is an exotic that will not flower on southern soil." His judgment, of course, was premature, for it [...]

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