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The Bookshelf: Eros and Dystopia

It seems the utopian impulse and the dystopian nightmare are never very distant from one another. If we are to love Big Brother, as Winston Smith does at the end of Orwell’s novel, all our other loves must be intruded upon, damaged, even sacrificed entirely. The case for freedom begins with the case for love.
The new Alabama IVF provider immunity law, recently praised by former President Trump, will have pernicious national consequences on parents’ rights to hold IVF providers accountable and will negatively affect Republican unity over pro-life issues.
This moment, among other things, may call for something as banal as looking around, embracing and underscoring the figures and images that capture what is enduringly good about normal American life.
Loving one’s neighbor is a moral imperative. How best to do so, however, is more complex than just recklessly citing this principle as immediate justification. All my point amounts to is a plea for caution. 
Faithfully living what we claim to believe as Catholic Christians shapes the future. And the fact is, we can no longer afford a sclerotic Church, a comfortable Church, a get-along Church. We need to be a confessing Church, not just in our diocesan structures, but in the pews and family homes of every parish.
Demographer Lyman Stone projects that, on the current course, as many as one in three young adults in the United States might never marry and as many as one in four will never have kids. That’s a lot of kinless Americans. Given the importance of marriage and family for what Jefferson called “the pursuit of happiness,” this would be a tragedy. So let’s find new ways to make it easier and more appealing for young adults to get married.
I won’t resort to the “be yourself!” platitude or argue that anyone should unleash the waterworks on a first date. However, I will suggest that the relationships (particularly romantic ones) that alleviate despondency cannot be cultivated while adhering to manifestos and maintaining derogatory views of the opposite sex. And that applies to both women and men. 
As we enter the third year of the war, Western nations—with the U.S. in the lead—seem unwilling to get to the heart of the matter. Yes, Ukraine has miraculously survived, but this cannot be for long. We have deluded ourselves into thinking that a compromise with Russia is possible, but it is not. Vladimir Putin will not rest until Ukraine is either subjugated or eliminated. 
The post-conversion challenges facing Christians arose when they reentered society as baptized people and navigated the conflicts raised by their new convictions. This process demanded a culturally discerning spiritual life.
What should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind is the question, “How does all this technological tinkering affect the kids?” We are only beginning to be able to answer that question.
If the stories can change, it stands to reason that they can improve—or deteriorate. Responsible cultural elites of the Left and Right alike would do well to consider not only what claims they make explicitly, but what kinds of stories underlie those claims, and whether these are the right stories to tell.
Self-interest in a democracy is not necessarily an evil. It only becomes an evil when democratic government grows so intrusive in ordinary life that self-interest can only be interpreted as a kind of dissent from a general—but now all-pervasive—good.
Inviting people into joy, both then and now, means also inviting others into possible pain. We must embrace the joys with the sorrows to lead full, rich lives as human beings.
We must be clear that nothing in the search for the truth entails that we recede in any way from the surety that we have with us, now as ever, the standards for judging evil ends to be truly evil.   
It’s a good day for sorrow, a habit sustaining our decency, humanity, patience, and courage for all the other days yet to come. All days bring their challenges, and there is much in our day to bemoan and condemn. Fair enough, but to have the courage and steadfastness needed to continue on, day in and day out, our sorrow serves us well.  
The parallel to vital conflict cases is clear: do not too quickly assume that death is inevitable. Do not too quickly assume that active rather than passive harm needs to be inflicted, even as a side effect.
Few instances in the life of Christianity’s founder exemplify his rejection of the use of force, even against those who break faith, than his treatment of the greatest apostate from Christianity, Judas, whose betrayal Christians remember today
To admire the world and other people, and especially to appreciate the ordinary things that make up our ordinary existence: this is worthwhile activity.
AntiFems face a dilemma. On one hand, they want to affirm, protect, and promote the distinctiveness of women. On the other hand, they oppose what at present seems like the only viable strategy for achieving that end, the recovery and extension of an authentic feminism. 
The plight of the Palestinians is indeed a tragic one. Peace with their stronger neighbor will not come easily to them. Only a cessation of terrorism, of attacks on civilians, and of demonization of the Jewish people will enable them to make any substantial progress. Sad to say, the first steps may have to be taken by the Western elites who have learned to make anti-Semitism fashionable again, and have a great deal of unlearning to do. 
If you are willing to acknowledge that full-time caregiving may be a suitable, even preferable, use of one’s capacities, there can be little justification for policies that guard against it—in fact, you may want to construct policies that enable it.
Conservative political action can, in fact, be a bulwark of counterrevolution. This is why Whittaker Chambers was a “conservative of the heart,” even if he did not consider himself a “conservative of the head.” In the final analysis, he was a witness to the permanent things.
If conservative organizations want to promote an economy that centers around the family, one that rebuilds the small town and restores a healthy culture, they need to do more than promote the right family policies and tax credits.
Although one might find oneself disagreeing with Smith, as I have on occasion, one will be better for it. And I can say that with a clear conscience.