secularization

A Nation That Can’t Forgive Is Doomed

On October 2, former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was convicted of murdering Botham Jean in his own home. Guyger claims she entered Jean’s apartment by accident (she lived on the floor above) and, mistaking him for a burglar, shot him dead. Jean was eating a bowl of ice cream. Following Guyger’s sentencing, Jean’s 18-year-old [...]

What Will Draw the “Nones” Back to Church?

The number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation—dubbed “the Nones”—has been growing steadily for two decades. The Nones are now a slightly larger percentage of the American population than Catholics. But they are not all atheists: half say they believe in God. The problem for many of them is organized religion: over 70 percent [...]

Notre Dame: A Fiery Sign?

Was the near destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral simply the result of an accidental fire? Or was it also a prophetic sign? In the Bible, the destruction of a city or a temple is often linked to immorality or unbelief. The fire and brimstone that was rained down on Sodom was punishment for the sins [...]

The Reformation’s Legacy in the Birthplace of Calvinism

I got to Geneva too late. I should have gone ten years earlier, back when I was what is called in the Calvinist world “TR”—“Totally Reformed”—meaning a diehard, uncompromising Calvinist. I was once a student at a prominent Reformed seminary, reading the brightest lights in the Calvinist world, including, of course, the great Genevan theologian [...]

The Roots of American Alienation

After the 2016 elections, many tried to explain what happened. Some theories are not convincing since they seem to hide a darker reality of which we dare not speak. Others appear a bit too simplified to explain what we experience in daily life. To start the process of understanding our crisis, we need a clear [...]

After 100 Years, Is Ireland Still Catholic?

January 21, 2019, will be the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of Dáil Eireann, the legislature of an independent Irish state. This legislative body consisted of members of the majority elected from Ireland in the December 1918 national election to the British parliament. This event was an act of secession by a legally elected group [...]

Why Is There an Ugly Christmas Sweater Day?

So much that passes for culture these days is just entertainment. What people consider “culture” is an excuse to have fun. Everything must be full of novelty and excitement. It must be Facebookable and Instagram-friendly. While these fun activities may be popular, they do not constitute culture. They have no depth. For many, even Christmas need [...]

Can Halloween be Christianized Again?

As Halloween approaches, the debate over whether Catholics should join in the celebrations has reignited. Many claim it is a harmless holiday for children that Catholics may freely participate in. Others affirm that it has now descended into dark regions with the return of pagan and Satanic imagery; it should thus be off limits. And [...]

What Version of Human Dignity Should Catholics Defend?

Dignitatis Humanae, the Vatican II declaration on religious liberty, appeals to what it says is a growing awareness of human dignity. More recent Vatican pronouncements, including the new language in the Catechism on the death penalty, have done the same. In some ways, it’s easy to see why. The Church holds that God created man [...]

Strengthening Faith in a Time of Crisis

A crisis that strikes so centrally at the integrity of the Church necessitates a response from each one us. There must be general reform in the Church, but I’d like to explore how each one of us can respond to the Church’s crisis with a commitment to stronger faith and personal reform. In focusing on [...]

Secular Protests of the Papal Visit to Ireland

The closer we get to the visit by Pope Francis to Ireland and specifically to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin the greater seems the criticism, even distrust and outright hostility, of the Church and even the pope. No doubt, much of it is the accumulated effect of the dramatic loss of Faith by [...]

The World Has Little of Value to Teach the Church

I recently commented on the signs of the times, and noted that they tell us to pay more attention to eternity. The topic deserves further discussion. In the 1960s, it became common for Catholics to look to the world for guidance. This attitude inspired the widespread false belief that Saint John XXIII said the Second Vatican [...]

Losing Their Religion

From time to time, readers of my articles will ask: “What do you want to do—go to war with 1.7 billion Muslims?” The question implies that any criticism of Islam will force the members of this “peaceful religion” to respond with massive violence. More or less the same argument was used during the Cold War. [...]

Secular Superficiality Versus the Rootedness of Culture

The other day we Americans were informed by National Public Radio that it was Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus did not have to go to hell or purgatory, but rose straight into heaven. It is like saying that Christopher was named Columbus after the capital of Oklahoma, or that Joan of [...]

Easter and the Cultural Pagans

It is a well-known element of Christian tradition: early missionaries repurposed or replaced established pagan rituals, artifacts, and places in their effort to convert the local people. There are some very famous instances of this: Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is a beautiful Roman church built upon the ruins of a pagan temple to the goddess [...]

Reducing Religion to Politics

What do political expressions like Right and Left have to do with religion? Nothing, some people say. The terms are misleading enough in politics, and carrying them over to religion stretches them beyond reason. Politics and religion are complex, and each has its own concerns, methods, and issues. So why use expressions like “right-wing” and [...]

Islam in the Public Square

Secularists like to advise Christians that, for the sake of social harmony, they ought to keep their religion to themselves. Religion, they argue, is a private affair between an individual and his designated deity, and ought not to be dragged into the public square. Moreover, they helpfully add, it’s an imposition on others to confront [...]

Advent a Casualty in the “War on Christmas”

Just in time for Christmas 2017, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey that found that 56 percent of Americans believe that the "religious parts of Christmas" are emphasized less in the United States today than they were in the past. It's hard to argue otherwise: Even many of those who have [...]

Revisiting the War on Christmas

Like Leslie Nielsen’s famous advice as the building explodes behind him—“OK, move on, nothing to see here, please disperse”—so The New York Times assures us that there’s nothing to the war on Christmas except, perhaps, Republican partisanship. “From the beginning, the War on Christmas was a homegrown Fox News cause, introduced by the so-named 2005 [...]

Poland Keeps the Lord’s Day Holy

After Polish Catholics lined the country’s 2,000-mile border to pray the “Rosary to the Borders,” Poland made another headline last week: Poland’s Sejm (lower house of Poland’s parliament) voted last week to phase out shopping on Sundays by 2020. The idea behind the bill is to allow Poles to spend more time with their families [...]

A Medieval Remedy for Modernity’s Ills

Show me a Catholic not troubled by the circumstances of these days, and I will show you a Catholic asleep. Society’s woes rock his soul, but the historic perils facing Holy Church do so even more. Not only from outside her walls, but more frighteningly, from within. How are we to keep our spirits from [...]

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