Truth

Sauron Comes to Middle England

Tolkien, the new biopic about the master storyteller’s life, has come under criticism for giving the impression that Tolkien’s service in World War I was the decisive influence on his work. In fact, Tolkien was far more influenced by other factors—in particular by his love of mythology, and by his strong Catholic faith. Before her [...]

“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 [...]

Modern Blindness: Failure to See What Is Real and True

Aristotle says that sight is the most philosophical sense. Of the five senses, it most resembles our capacity to know. We naturally desire both to see and to know. Indeed, knowing is an intellectual seeing. Of course, “I see” can mean “I understand.” Plato calls the highest kind of knowing noesis, typically translated into English [...]

The Truth (of Christ) Will Set You Free

We mark anniversaries of events so as not to forget. We do this as a country all the time—we mark, for instance, the anniversary of our independence on July 4th every year. We do it because we consider the Fourth of July to be the birth of our freedom. Naturally, then, we turn to the founding [...]

What is Easter?

Easter Sunday this year falls on April Fools’ Day. A tradition exists about “Christ the Fool.” It probably originates from when Pilate sent Christ to see Herod. Herod was anxious to see him. See him do what? See him perform. He had heard much about this man and his miracles. So naturally the king wanted [...]

Joy and the Whole Truth about Man

The reality of joy provides, I think, the most obvious refutation of the ideology of materialism—the attempt to reduce human beings and human lives to the body, to matter and its effects. For joy is proper not to the body, but to the spirit. It is the soul that is joyful or joyless, not the [...]

On the Strange Function of Absolutes

Most people today “absolutely” maintain that they do not hold or live by “absolutes.” They live by their desires and choices, which are readily changeable. No one is much bothered by the “logic” of his own views. The proposition that “No absolutes exist” is itself an absolute. If it is true, an absolute exists. If [...]

Epiphany: A Feast of Light

Several years ago, I had a student in my English class who was blind from birth—Charlie had lost his eyesight due to oxygenation at his premature delivery, weighing less than two pounds when he came into the world. We were reading Shakespeare’s King Lear that day. Not an easy thing to do with a class [...]

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 [...]

Pursuing True Happiness in a World Without Truth

“[T]he direct and pure experience of reality in its ultimate root is man’s deepest need.” ∼ Thomas Merton Among the many confusions in our modern-secular culture is the fundamentally incoherent idea—which is also a promise, a hope, and a dream—that true happiness is possible without truth, but instead can be had with more freedom and [...]

Can Christianity and Post-Modernity Reconcile?

It is popular today to speak of clashing worldviews as “narratives.” History shows, we’re told, that it is almost impossible for a narrative to imagine a standpoint outside itself. That is what defines it as a narrative. It is only when it has been surpassed by another narrative—as paganism was eclipsed by Christianity and Christianity [...]

The Goal of Classical Education is Truth

“The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold.” Aristotle wrote this in the fourth century B.C. in a text called On the Heavens. Sixteen hundred years later Thomas Aquinas began his treatise On Being and Essence by paraphrasing Aristotle: “Because a small error in the beginning grows enormous at the end.…” [...]

When Teaching Truth Stops Being a Church Priority

Basic issues have basic importance. Does God exist? If he does, what is he like? If he doesn’t, can an objective moral order survive his absence? It seems obvious that such questions are crucial to all aspects of life, including our life together in society. That conclusion has inconvenient implications. Christian societies, Muslim societies, and [...]

What is Civilization?

Is civilization worth defending? Should we aim to conform to it so that we can be considered civilized? Should we aim to bring our children up according to its norms so that they can also be considered civilized? Should we try to make our country and our world as civilized as possible? The chances are [...]

Is Lying Ever Justified?

"The problem is not that we are sinners: the problem is not repenting of sin, not being ashamed of what we have done." In his homily at his daily Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae on May 17, 2013, Pope Francis was discussing, and commending, the example of Saint Peter, who, having denied Christ, was now [...]

The Intolerance of Liberal Toleration

D. A. Carson, a well-known Reformed theologian and exegete, has written a clear and well-reasoned analysis of today’s imperialistic tolerance from an Evangelical and classically liberal standpoint. He tells us that the new understanding of tolerance has meant a shift from accepting the right of others to hold dissenting views to demanding acceptance of such [...]

A Catholic Response to Utopian Modernity

The world goes its own way without much regard for the Church, because it has very little regard for truth—that is to say, for reality. The problems go to the roots of current ways of thinking. The modern movement of thought began as an attempt to attain security and certainty by emphasizing what is practical [...]

Pope Francis and the Gospel of Life

Though the world barely knows Pope Francis, it has rushed to judge him. As Caitlin Bootsma has lamented, “Catholics, of all stripes, immediately sought to measure Pope Francis against their own goals for the papacy.” Rather than measuring him according to our interests and wants, we should make haste to pray for him. We should, further, [...]

The Black-and-White Pope

A few days ago we all had a shocking surprise as a Latin American, Jesuit archbishop emerged onto the loggia of St. Peter’s to the general joy of the Catholic world.  The rejoicing was widespread, but not universal, with some expressing misgivings.  These are clearly natural reactions, to be expected in any election, sacred or [...]

What to Hope For in a New Pope

Imagine members of the lay faithful being invited to instruct the cardinals who come to Rome to select a new pope.  They would be asked precisely whom they would choose as successor to St. Peter.  Of course the cardinals are not obliged to take counsel with mere mortals.  However avid some of us might be [...]

Politics, Virtue, and the Intellect: When Rulers Fail to Rule Themselves

In contemporary political systems, every citizen can vote no matter what his level of intelligence or relation to virtue. Some of the worst political systems have high turnouts on elections days. The worst rulers also want to be popular.

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