Politics

Not Noticing the Hand that Feeds You

  Two books that should top any reading list for progressives who believe in “winning the future” by waging war against its current inhabitants are H. G. Wells’ classic The Time Machine and Nassim Nicholas Taleb’sThe Black Swan. The former’s narrative has entered the culture, especially through a film version that appeared in 1960, starring Rod [...]

Dependency and Votes

Those who regard government "entitlement" programs as sacrosanct, and regard those who want to cut them back as calloused or cruel, picture a world very different from the world of reality. To listen to some of the defenders of entitlement programs, which are at the heart of the present financial crisis, you might think that [...]

Boehner’s Critics Misrepresent Catholic Social Teaching

  Earlier this month, over 80 Catholic scholars -- mostly professors -- sent an open letter to Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, on the occasion of his presenting the commencement address at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. They accused him of being out of line with the [...]

What Is ‘Roman Catholic Political Philosophy’?

A course in "Roman Catholic Political Philosophy" is rarely found in any academic institution, including those sponsored by the Church. We do find courses titled "Religion and Politics," "Social Doctrine of the Church," or "Church and State" -- but "Roman Catholic Political Philosophy" is something different. Going back to Plato, it is common to find [...]

Politics, Culture, or the Church?

Anyone who has been to a Catholic conference has heard the following remark rise up out of the audience: "What we really need to do is to pray and get before the Blessed Sacrament!" Anyone who has spoken at a Catholic conference has had to confront this statement. Usually, in order not to appear like [...]

Catholics and the Politics of the Death Penalty

On January 29, the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Death Penalty (CMN) was launched. According to its executive director, Karen Clifton, the CMN was created "with the encouragement of the USCCB." The support of the bishops' conference is substantial. The Coordinating Committee includes both Kathy Saile, the director of the Office of Domestic Concerns, [...]

Kagan and the Politics of Science

There's been a lot of talk in the last week about Elena Kagan's role in influencing partial-birth abortion legislation during the Clinton administration by rewriting a crucial passage of a statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) on the necessity of such a procedure. (Shannen Coffin has an excellent summary of the [...]

Original Sin

  Many people these days are utopians of some variety. We think that we can get rid of the doom that stands over us by our own efforts. We can reorganize the polity, the family, education, or the economy so that things will be fine. We cannot accept that the issue has to do with [...]

Sense and Nonsense: A Conversation with Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

  Crisis Magazine music critic Robert R. Reilly sat down with noted writer, political thinker, and Georgetown University professor Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., to talk about the life of the mind, the future of the West, and lessons learned over a long career in education. ♦           ♦           ♦ Robert R. Reilly: What is the [...]

Church and State

Thanks to the irruption of Christianity within the history of this planet, the question of Church and State will not go away. It might have done, had Charles Martel failed to stop the Umayyad conquest of Europe at the Battle of Tours; for there is no equivalent distinction between "Mosque and State" in Islam. Or, [...]

Politics as Applied Theology: A Conversation with Peter and Helen Evans

Peter and Helen Evans know what it's like to be spiritual seekers. They ran through the gamut of Eastern religions and philosophies before returning to the Christianity of their youth. Better still, they've written a book to help those who find themselves similarly seeking. The result is Get Serious: The Church's Stand on Contemporary Culture, [...]

Catholic Social Teaching and the Welfare State

It might surprise some to learn that the basic idea behind the "welfare state" did not originate with either Marxist revolutionaries or bleeding-heart liberals, but rather with a head of state usually identified with conservatism: Otto von Bismarck. Faced with a growing threat from the German socialist movement, in the 1880s Bismarck established four programs [...]

Crime, Sin, and Politics

On January 9, the Illinois House deliberated less than 90 minutes before voting 114-1 to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The case then went to the state senate, where on January 29 he was convicted by a vote of 59-0. Illinois legislators may tolerate some corruption, but they will not stand for the incompetence of being [...]

The People behind the Politics

  The immigration debate is singularly polarizing in our political climate today. From cries for "compassionately conservative" acceptance of those immigrants doing the jobs "Americans won't do," to Tom Tancredo's insistence that "the pope's immigration comments may have less to do with spreading the gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the church," [...]

Liberating Theology from Politics

A friend recently sent me a remark by one Msgr. Alfred Gilbey, a onetime chaplain at Cambridge's Fisher House who was often called "eccentric" (but that mostly meant that he was a believing and practicing Catholic priest in a chaotic time). I'm sure his words will come as news to many. In an article in [...]

Sins of Omission: Catholics, Marriage, and Politics

The California Supreme Court supremely violated the will of the people of that state when it overturned California’s eight-year-old Defense of Marriage Act. The court declared that homosexuals have a right to marry the person of their choice. The Catholic governor of California supported this ruling, as did several other prominent, publicly Catholic Californians. The [...]

Politics from Parables

  Notorious atheists like Christopher Hitchens try to convince us that the world would be a more humane place if we could give up on the idea of God, but Tod Lindberg provides a cogent argument in The Political Teachings of Jesus that the modern world's most cherished liberal values -- religious tolerance, equality, freedom, [...]

Building the Perfect Terrorist

  Every weekday morning, this nation enjoys a pretty consistent routine. We get up, prepare for work or school, and tune in to local networks for the morning weather, traffic, and news. What have also become routine are the gruesome headlines announcing the day's latest terrorist attack.   Given that these incidents show no signs [...]

Ancient Wisdom, Modern Economics

Joseph Pearce's Small Is Still Beautiful is one part commentary on and one part updated application of E. F. Schumacher's famous Small Is Beautiful. The constant reference to a book that many consider a minor classic is both a strength and a weakness of Pearce's own book. Imitating Schumacher, Pearce wants to return us to [...]

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 [...]

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