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Author: R.J. Snell (R.J. Snell)

About the Author
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Barbaric Dogmatists and the Revolution

In the current moment, we critique and demand, but from a negation; we know—or some think they know—what they don’t want, but it is quite unclear if they know what they do want. And since they have rejected moral norms it is impossible for them to give a rational justification for their wants and dislikes. Theirs is an exercise of will, for they have exorcised the logos, and mere will—willfulness—remains.

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Questions on Abortion: A Dinner Invitation to Nicholas Kristof

The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof addresses the debate over abortion from an external point of view, for he has not attempted to understand or imagine the pro-life position from the standpoint of someone who holds that view. If he’d like to try seeing it from within, Mr. Kristof is most welcome to join us for dinner and conversation at the Witherspoon Institute.

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Ingratitude, Mob Violence, and Providence

Our culture’s deep ingratitude is the long, nihilistic outworking of the logic of modern thought itself. When human experience is reduced to only will and power struggle, there no room for gratefulness. Those of us who have not renounced cosmic order and the providence that brings that order to fulfillment, by contrast, know that all things willed or permitted by God work for good. Thus we should be grateful—profoundly grateful—for everything.

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Education and the Restoration of Moral Agency

Many students today lack a real formation in moral order and agency. Few adults have taught them what a worthwhile life looks like and what they could do to achieve it. University educators must give students access to authoritative moral claims, even as they allow them to judge and decide for themselves.

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Alone Together, or Just Alone? Social Conservatives Are Right

Social conservatives are not just moralizing when they reject so much of what passes for liberation in our time. It’s not that we’re against self-determination, but rather that we are for the flourishing and well-being of persons, and thus we insist on fostering the institutions that are essential to this task.

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Pandemics and the Agency of Citizens

While medical experts’ job is to save lives from the coronavirus, it is the responsibility of citizens to ask and decide what makes a worthwhile life. There is more to life than mere living; our own self-respect as responsible agents, who govern ourselves under the law (human and moral), ought not be so easily jettisoned.

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Quiet Hope: A New Year’s Resolution

Despair is the unforgivable sin, for the despairing conclude that God will not or cannot act, that the universe is fundamentally unfriendly and inhospitable to the true, good, and beautiful, and that humanity has lost the imago Dei. To judge in this way is to deny the goodness of the world and its Creator and sustainer, and that is the sin of all sins.

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Free Speech Cannot Save Us

Unless they acknowledge a divine transcendence, our universities, like our culture at large, are sentenced to pointless “debate,” full of sound and fury, no matter how free our speech is. The marketplace of ideas alone cannot save education.

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Coherence, Calvinball, and the Consistent Ethic of Life

A consistent life ethic (CLE) should consider the totality of an act: not simply the consequences, but also the intention, the object chosen, and the circumstances of the act. Charles Camosy deserves our respect for boldly declaring the case for CLE, but the devil remains in the details. Without agreement on those details, the consistent life ethic remains as unpredictable and random as Calvinball.

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Against Pious Nihilism: C.S. Lewis on Natural Law

For many, the Narnia stories were their first exposure to the goodness of God and his creation. While they called us to move “further in and further up” to things that were more real and solid than these Shadowlands we now inhabit, they did so by calling us to attend to the traces of the divine already present in the created order.

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