The Netflix Effect: Corrosive Storytelling and the Human Person
The Netflix adaptation of The Queen’s Gambit and the original version are based on two radically different visions of the human person. They bring the reader or viewer to one of two endpoints: either we recognize the importance of making the best choices and inherit a position of moral responsibility, or we face the despair of living in a world without moral agency.
Baby Is a Punk Rocker: On the Givenness of Life
Excessive efforts to control the givenness of our children’s lives reveal our doubt that life is a good gift in itself. They also show a vision of human flourishing that is dependent upon material prosperity, personal achievements, and social status.
Unlock Our Churches: Bringing Back Private Prayer
Given the Church’s unequivocal endorsement of prayer before the Eucharist, and given that Masses are underway again in most dioceses, churches should be reopened for the private prayer of the faithful.
The Bookshelf: Reading and Watching Shakespeare in 2021
Dipping into Shakespeare’s plays from time to time was unsatisfying; I grew ambitious to read all of his works. Yet how to proceed through it all? Some eight years ago, I resolved to make my own daily reading plan for moving through all of Shakespeare’s works in a year. Here, I present the 2021 version.
The True Meaning of Christmas: Accept No Substitutes
The Christmas message is one of joy, even “great joy,” but not superficial joy. Christmas confronts us with the sobering claim that humankind is in a state of sin—a state from which we cannot save ourselves. Hence the need for a savior, and hence the joyful Christian claim that God himself offers the salvation by coming to live among us.
In “The God in the Cave,” G.K, Chesterton explains that when Christians celebrate the Nativity, they are celebrating an event that changed the course of history and permanently transformed the DNA of human society.
The “Magnificat Gift” of Advent
Offered daily through the liturgical prayer of the Church, the Magnificat invites every Christian, through Jesus, to see the Holy Spirit in the rare expression of the woman from whose flesh our Savior took his own. The Magnificat is Mary in her own words. It inspires study and imitation of the scriptures by presenting Mary as a gift and invitation, a mother of prayer and listening for all.
Refreshing, Rejuvenating, and Improving Our Public Discourse: 2020 Book Recommendations
Reading recommendations from The Witherspoon Institute staff.
We Are (Politically) Who We Love: Klaus, Christmas, and Re-Founding
The film “Klaus” is a tale of political refounding that tells of our need for a common good based in common loves. It shows how a political order can mold souls, whether for good or for ill.
The Road to Sexual Revolution: Carl Trueman and the Modern Self
According to Carl Trueman, focusing myopically on problems with sexual morality often results in misguided responses to the sexual revolution. Instead, we must grapple with “a much deeper and wider revolution in the understanding of what it means to be a self.”
Covid-19 and the Erosion of Civic Trust
The American public deserves the truth, even if it is not as favorable or definitive as we would hope. If our policy leaders and scientists cannot put their faith in us with all our faults and shortcomings, why ought we put our faith in them with all their faults and shortcomings?
Lessons from 2020: Republicans Should Build a Multi-Ethnic and Religious Party of the Working Class
The dominant discourse on the left around race, around faith, and around what the working classes believe and want is fundamentally flawed. The GOP has an opportunity to build on these shifting trends to create a culturally dominant, multi-ethnic, working-class party. Can they pull it off?
A Tax Policy for the Common Good: Renew the CARES Act’s Charitable Tax Deduction Permanently
Do we really want a tax system that encourages very wealthy individuals to give money to the arts but does not encourage middle-class taxpayers to give money to local, religiously affiliated soup kitchens? That is the system we will have if the CARES Act’s above-the-line charitable tax deduction is not renewed.
To Control “Toxic Masculinity” and Heal the Family We Must Appreciate the Differences between the Sexes
To combat “toxic masculinity,” the APA suggests teaching boys to express their emotions and insecurities more openly. They say components of traditional masculinity such as stoicism, self-reliance, and competitiveness deter men from forming close relationships with other men. But if men really are born less “nice” than women, then our task is not simply to strip away negative social constructs. It is time we stop talking down to boys as if they were dim-witted girls and offer them opportunities to build character and provide meaning to their lives.
The Great Awokening and Overlapping Consensus
A culture of repression and fear obstructs the socially transformative goals of the antiracism movement. The tactics of wokeness hinder the pursuit of its professed aims.
Why We Plan to Get Vaccinated: A Christian Moral Perspective
It is not possible to properly love a person and act so as to unnecessarily jeopardize their health. If by the minimal burden of wearing a mask, we can potentially protect others from grave illness, then it seems we have a moral obligation to wear a mask. The same can be said for COVID-19 vaccinations. If by being vaccinated we can protect others from illness, then we have a corresponding obligation, given our Lord’s command to love neighbors, to be vaccinated. Vaccinations not only protect me, but also protect other vulnerable members of society.
The Great Refusal or Mary’s Fiat: An Advent Reflection
Mary’s fiat is a magnanimous expression of receptivity and gratitude, rather than revolt. It is a humble and even joyous reception of something given that she did not choose: God’s will. In the broader cultural sense, adopting Mary’s receptivity would entail a thankful and receptive attitude towards a rich cultural patrimony, inherited tradition, and indeed given nature.
Pandemic Parenting: Lessons Learned
The end of the pandemic is now in sight. Let’s hold on to the good things we have learned and the good habits that we have established. That means no phones in the bedroom, a good night’s sleep, and more time together as a family. If we can do those things—if the end result of the pandemic is a strengthening of the family—then there may be a silver lining to this cloud.
The Liberating Power of the Liberal Arts
An education in the liberal arts is one that teaches students to love what is true, good, and beautiful. It frees the soul and makes those who have received it want to pass that freedom on to others.
Liberalism as Christian Personalism?
For a political order supposedly built on faulty philosophical foundations, liberalism has been surprisingly resilient. Political theorist David Walsh argues it is the political expression of the Christian epiphany of the person that has been differentiated by modern philosophy. Yet Even in Walsh’s defense of liberal modernity, the menace of Luciferian possibilities flickers at the edge of vision.
The Domestic Kenosis: A Response to Ross Douthat from the Mother of Eight Children
I was looking forward to my one or two children, and a life of ongoing validation through the achievement-acclaim-advancement sequence to which school had accustomed me. Is large family life an icon of the Lord’s emptying of himself on our behalf? No more, I believe, than any Christian life deliberately modeled upon His example.