If the novel is by definition tightly bound to the human subject, then contemporary novels will suffer from the same decay and corrosion from which the contemporary soul suffers. Yet, despite the uneasy conditions facing both the novel and the world, the human soul remains remarkably resilient and fascinating. Sally Rooney’s latest novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You? ponders the profound disenchantment that haunts today’s souls and novels alike.
Month: January 2022
Two bioethicists, Greg F. Burke, MD, and Emanuela Midolo, PhD, debate whether or not healthcare providers should require COVID-19 vaccines for organ transplant recipients.
For the conservative theorists of the poison pill, everything becomes about ideas. According to them, Ockham, Scotus, Bacon, Descartes, Locke—they are the important bad guys who determined the decadence of our time and the problems we should be talking about. But ideas don’t work this way; reality does not proceed with perfect logic like it so conveniently does in the textbooks.
The only way to avoid a posthuman future is by affirming the goodness of being human in both our personal choices and social and legal institutions. Most importantly, we should recommit to the virtue of religion: giving God His due. Religion teaches us to value the ontological goodness of our creatureliness, exhorts us to take steps to preserve it, and gives us the confidence to do so. When we’re steeped in a religious mode of being, we’re content just to be human; we have no need or desire to grasp for more.
Part I addresses the threat that technology poses to human dignity because of the threat it poses to humanity itself—both elites and non-elites. Transgenderism is the first step on the road to a miserable posthuman future. Part II argues that we must recommit to the virtue of religion if we’re to resist this technologized, posthuman threat.
Allen C. Guelzo has written a perceptive character study (and military evaluation) of Robert E. Lee that is alert to the many contradictions that seem to pepper his life. What emerges is a portrait not unlike the one peering off the dust jacket: thoughtful and appealing, yet facing two directions at once.
In the face of the uproar with which Pope Francis’s recent message was received, I’d like to offer a brief defense of his address and some words of encouragement to my fellow twenty-somethings who are discerning marriage and parenthood, unpopular though they may be. We are all called to fatherhood or motherhood (adoptive, biological, or spiritual), and suppressing that call diminishes what it means to be fully human.
When Christianity enters a society, it provides an understanding of inherent and equal human dignity that lifts up those whom that society has considered unworthy. But what happens when Christianity recedes? Christian human dignity is not founded on maximizing fairness or autonomy, but on the fact that all human beings are made free and in the image of God. If it becomes detached from that principle, then human dignity no longer makes sense.
Norman Rockwell’s famed realism and attention to detail take that which is commonplace, and make it once again both startling and delightful. He aims to make us see the world that is really here, but that we so often take no notice of, precisely because it’s so familiar to us that we don’t bother to see it.
Mary Midgley, the lesser-known friend of Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, and Iris Murdoch, was a deliberately multidisciplinary thinker. She was convinced that moral philosophers must relate various bodies of knowledge to one another if they are to achieve an adequate understanding of human life, human motivation, and human success or failure. Midgley, writing from the margins of the discipline, was the first to present a positive proposal for the kind of moral philosophy recommended but never developed by Anscombe, Foot, and Murdoch: a naturalistic moral philosophy, grounded in the character and needs of the human animal.
About a decade and a half ago, a groundbreaking study reinvigorated Protestant moral thought. It is time for an appreciation and renewed application of these eternal truths.
My generation feels obligated to constrain our footprint in the name of social justice. I reject this. I cannot promise my children perfect comfort or safety in the world. But I can make their world—our home, our lives, our family—a mooring when everything else is guaranteed to be perpetually confused.
My ignorance of many important things gnaws at me, as does the consciousness that the rest of my life is not time enough to learn what I want to know. Lately my thoughts have turned to authors with whom I have some acquaintance but want to know better—specifically those philosophers and theologians who have shaped and transmitted the Catholic faith through the ages.
The greatest challenge to my teaching is the relativist, anecdote-dominated view of knowledge many of my students have absorbed by the time they enter my classroom. Too many of their teachers embrace the view that relativist, subjectivist, and ultimately personal experiential knowledge is the only kind available to us—or at least that it trumps other kinds of knowledge.
Conservatives may hope that liberalism’s better angels prevail. But the ravages of ideological liberalism, especially the damage done by the sexual revolution to family and community, require active redress. Conservatives, drawing on the wisdom and traditions we have sustained (and which have sustained us), must help our culture relearn essential parts of being human.
Did Lincoln regard the Constitution as “broken” and therefore in need of replacement? Or did he believe that the Declaration of Independence represented America’s aspiration to end slavery, and infused the Constitution with this same aspiration?
The canon wars are over, and the canon lost. But the canon’s defeat might not be a bad thing for readers and teachers who care about great books, because it allows us to offer franker, more interesting, and more compelling reasons to read them.
“I want to give people hope, people living with mental illness as well as family members of people living with mental illness, that not only can they survive their illness, but they can also reach their greatest potential. Sometimes, in fact, they reach their greatest potential not despite the illness, but because of the illness.”
We are increasingly becoming afflicted by the who/whom logic of Lenin. For Lenin, when it comes to political aggression, what matters is who performs the action and upon whom it is performed. But, in reality, the whom you attack is a who in reality. Just as you are a self, so too are they a self.
For the last three centuries, humanity has been participating in a race in which, on the one hand, it is increasingly difficult to come up with new ideas, but on the other hand, there are more and more of us engaged in research. So far, these two forces have counteracted each other, leading to economic growth. With a falling population, however, we will start to lose the race.
Just imagine if all the male professors and teachers who read and write for this blessed journal, who deeply care about the plight of the fatherless, actively sought to mentor their students in the most important subject: life. Imagine if, at the beginning of every term, you each announced, and then demonstrated, your openness and willingness to help your young, impressionable students navigate this next chapter in their lives.
For a conscience coddled by a culture of self-definition and consent, choice cloaked as grace will always look preferable. But hard, engraved truths such as fatherhood offer rescue from the hell of interminable deliberation—which, as Alasdair MacIntyre has argued, is the hallmark of modern moral theory.