Accommodation and half measures—the stuff of everyday political life—will not do when we encounter the politics of mastery and subjugation. Aristotle’s “partnership of free persons” demands more.
Advocates for family fluidity routinely level two claims against the nuclear family: first, that it is a mere “blip” on the historical map, and second, that it is largely unconnected to the well-being of individuals (especially children). In both instances the goal is to diminish its significance as a valuable form of kinship structure. For all their popularity, however, neither assumption withstands scrutiny.
A great irony of the Jewish and Christian faith traditions: One must be willing to accept suffering and sacrifice for a greater purpose that transcends one’s particular material and sensual needs and desires. Counter-intuitively, it is these transcendent qualities of faith that eschew utilitarian aims for a greater purpose that create the circumstances for greater material well-being.
The UK Supreme Court has upheld a claim for a woman to pursue four commercial surrogacy pregnancies in California at the expense of the UK taxpayer. This Judgment is extraordinary in that commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK, and two Supreme Court Judges dissented from the Judgment on the grounds that it is against public policy for a court to award damages to enable conduct abroad that is illegal in the UK.
For the considerable body of people in the western world who still believe in self-government, and in the preservation of their nations’ traditional moral identities, the overreaching of the contemporary human rights project will perhaps lead them to reconsider natural law, presented in a prudently modest formulation. This is a crucial undertaking to which Pierre Manent’s new book is a worthy contribution.
It is a cliché to say that religious faith helps people to cope with stress. As with many clichés, this one is both true and false. How one uses religion to cope with stress is key.
Each of the books I mention here can help us to be conscious—to be “in the know,” which is what Austen meant by the word—thus using the gift of speech in ways that accord with our nature as “the reflexive animal,” as Lewis calls us, governed by “the inner lawgiver” (Lewis again) of our conscience. And these conjoined obligations—to our nature and to our speech—are why even pronouns are a field of battle that truth-tellers should not surrender.
Justice, in the Bible and in the Christian tradition, demands that we protect and remember every vulnerable and isolated person, made in the image of God. As reopening moves ahead, a surge of mercy to protect the elderly and others who are confined might prove a healing tonic for a bitterly riven society—and for the Christian church.
What happens if a possible future vaccine for COVID-19 is developed unethically, by using contemporary tissue from aborted children? Could pro-life citizens morally use such a vaccine?
If a COVID-19 vaccine is developed with the use of cell lines derived from an aborted fetus, should a citizen of conscience who is opposed to abortion avail herself of it to protect herself and her loved ones during this time of pandemic? Using such a medical therapy would be morally justifiable only if its use did not contribute to future evil acts and if its use was occasioned by a grave proportionate reason.
Catholic schools, along with other faith-based schools, are a vital gift to the families they serve and to our country. America’s COVID-19 relief efforts should support the educational choices of all families and work to save Catholic schools.
Through being a Public Discourse reader, I’ve made friendships I would not otherwise have made. The joy of any movement is the relationships it fosters, and my life would be less fulfilled were it not for the intellectual camaraderie that is enjoyed by many within the Public Discourse readership.