While the average engaged Catholic continues to show signs of making peace with progressive trends in sexuality and relationship behavior, the same is not true among the clergy. The type of man who completes seminary intending ordination is more conservative about matters of sexuality—as well as other markers—than those who enrolled 20, 30, or 40+ years ago.
Month: October 2021
People from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) cultures differ vastly in psychology from people from non-WEIRD cultures. Thanks to the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and family, WEIRD psychology eventually gave rise to free markets, inalienable rights, and democracy.
When “lost world” or original position doctrines inform our search for justice, we are much less likely to work to improve social conditions in the real world. “Second-best justice,” on the other hand, seeks the reasonable solution to a dispute, one acceptable to all parties that repairs communal harmony to the greatest extent possible. Perfection does not enter the equation, either as an original state or as a goal.
Arguments against academic freedom give the impression of being motivated by a deep insecurity: because conservative ideas have not triumphed in the public square, we need to resort to means other than argument and persuasion to promote those ideas.
Correctional facilities must grapple with unprecedented levels of overcrowding, violence, and suicide, as well as rampant mental illness among inmates. The tightening of budgets and the resulting loss of vocational, educational, and treatment programs pose additional difficulties. In the midst of these struggles, faith-based approaches, led by faith-motivated volunteers and prisoners, are providing the most innovative, holistic, and effective programs available in correctional facilities today.
A world ruled by muscle is going to be a man’s world. We don't live in that world anymore. And we don’t know terribly well what men and women are without that context. Are they just interchangeable? If there are essential differences, what are they? What should they be?
Our hope is that, by reading PD regularly, our readers will be formed in such a way that they have not only knowledge on particular topics, but also virtuous habits of mind. By illustrating the capacity to earnestly and carefully think through what’s good and what's bad about both conservative and liberal positions, we show that sobriety and careful, detached thinking is still possible—that we really can have knowledge about the truths that give order to our being.
As the Democratic Party at the national level moves further into abortion extremism and the exclusion of those who dissent, it is hard to imagine the party embracing a more moderate and inclusive stance. But electoral consequences in the 2022 midterms could prompt this awakening.
Catholics in colonial America pioneered a vision of liberty of conscience grounded in human dignity that would eventually be affirmed as doctrine by the second Vatican Council. A new book by Michael Breidenbach illustrates how unsettled the issue of papal temporal authority was in the founding era, and how damaging papal insistence on it was to the survival of Catholic minorities in English and colonial life.
Roe could be reversed in one of two strongly pro-life ways. The Court could declare that the child is a fellow human being and a person, and is thus constitutionally protected prior to birth. Or the Court could in effect encourage each state to recognize the child as one of us. The latter could well be politically preferable.
My story sounds like failure, but I don’t consider myself one. The academy was never about a job or even a career. It was about the opportunity to spend time asking questions I wanted to answer. It was about having the leisure to think, talk, teach, learn, and interact with people who were as interested in a subject as I was.
To say that the Supreme Court exercises “mere judgment” belies the gravity of its power and the weight of its opinions. Judgment requires more than a mechanical application of the law. It requires, as Sherbert recognized but Smithignored, that judges determine whether a state’s particular interest is more or less compelling than an individual’s particular right.
Rand speaks to the young, to those who have not yet realized just how frail individual life is. In doing so, she tells an incomplete story. The human person is amazing, powerful, and wise, yet equally frail, weak, and foolish. It is in those times of weakness and folly that we most need others around us.
The official moral relativism of absolute academic freedom makes universities self-negating institutions. No wonder many student activists are eager to fashion and enforce new norms and taboos: they realize, however inchoately, that a community of inquiry and instruction must also be one of practice, and that the liberal university fails to integrate these elements.
The world’s demographic future is highly unusual. Those younger than age fifty will witness a prolonged decline in the human population. The decline will not be caused by an epidemic or climate change, but rather by the collapse of fertility around the world.
If the New Atheists were able to convince people to leave, then we too might be able to convince some to come back. Ideas and writing can change lives. If the New Atheists did it, then we Christian writers can be a saving remnant and help write people back into the faith.
Moral and ethical reflection, making normative sense of the world and striving to live accordingly, is an essential part of being human. Public leaders need to better grasp the role that conscience rights play in a free and democratic society. If they do not, freedom of conscience and the kind of society we cherish will eventually disappear.
Texas’s refusal to choose between the mother and her prenatal child, despite some important questions about the method used to achieve their goals, constitutes a blueprint for the pro-life movement. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, many more vulnerable women across the country will be without the access to abortion our throwaway culture has diabolically forced them to rely on. Pro-lifers must follow Texas’s lead and be at the ready to assist these women. We must make good on our claims that their legal and social equality does not require redistributing oppression to another vulnerable population.
Is the scholarly life still worth pursuing? I am at that stage in my academic career where the question keeps me up at night. I want to pursue a PhD in my field of interest. I want to teach and write scholarship. But will there be a spot for people like me in the academy?
The COVID-19 pandemic provided us with many real-world examples of timeless economic principles.
Given the overreach of government, and perhaps especially given the failure of so many elected officials to remember that they do not rule us, it’s all too easy to slip into libertarianism by default. But government is not alien or unnatural to our condition and needs. It emerges from the community’s associations, affections, bonds, and mutual sense of self-responsibility.
Jordan Peterson’s project is not, at root, about biblical interpretation, metaphysics, theology, or even free speech. It is therapy for people bereft of meaning and purpose. Peterson may not be a prophet, but he is something just as rare: a bloody good clinical psychologist grounded in Christian archetypes and values and focused on treating the existential despair in our society.
The most foundational evidence for the value of the human person is the child in the womb, whose life creates beauty and obligations, possessing all the hope of humanity. When life in the womb has an ambiguous civil, social, and legal status, how can the fabric of our civilization hold together? The unborn child is the most singular affirmation we possess that our existence is not pointless.
Moving books home has turned my mind toward publishers that seem to be of high value because of the enduring importance of their books. One such is Liberty Fund, which specializes in classic conservative and libertarian texts in politics and economics. Another is the Library of America, which has a broad mission to publish (in its own words) “America’s greatest writing.”