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Month: March 2022

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David Bentley Hart’s Post-Christian Pantheism

The debate over whether it is grace or nature that directs human beings towards the beatific vision was one of the most contentious intra-Catholic theological disputes of the twentieth century. David Bentley Hart’s 2022 You Are Gods: On Nature and Supernature shows that the debate is alive and by no means merely academic and inconsequential—pantheism, tradition, orthodoxy, and heterodoxy are all very much at stake in the argument.

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What Tolstoy Could Have Taught Putin

Based on Russia’s advantages in soldiers, tanks, and aircraft, Putin’s forces should have taken Kyiv, decapitated the Ukrainian government, and installed a pro-Russian regime in just a few days. But numbers aren’t everything. If they had paid closer attention to Russia’s greatest novel, War and Peace, Putin’s strategists might have been less surprised.

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Abortion Laws across the Globe and at Home

Given the ongoing evolution of abortion law in the United States, it makes sense to engage and evaluate the constitutions and laws of other jurisdictions. Although these sources and materials do not determine the meaning of our Constitution, they can illuminate our scientific, medical, and ethical debates. A particularly valuable resource, which explores abortion jurisprudence across a variety of legal contexts, is Unborn Human Life and Fundamental Rights: Leading Constitutional Cases under Scrutiny, edited by William L. Saunders and Pilar Zambrano.

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OK, Groomer: Why Some in the LGBT Movement Are Focusing on Kids

The recent debates surrounding Florida’s anti-grooming bill raise questions not just about education, but about who has the right to direct the moral formation of children. Activist educators believe they should hold this power, regardless of parental concerns. But their agenda is based on the false idea that children can be intrinsically LGBT, and it is therefore necessary to stop educators proselytizing on behalf of such identities.

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The Marrow of Democracy

Andrew Doyle offers a splendid contribution to the ongoing debate over free speech, with a constructive approach that might surprise those familiar only with his Twitter alter ego. Though brief in length and focused on free speech in the West, the book is replete with thoughtful insights and relevant stories that provide the basis for his powerful advocacy of free expression.

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How Progressive Politics Entered American Education

America’s education professionals—meaning government bureaucrats, administrators, and teachers—have been trained in an education philosophy driven by progressive politics. Whether in Mississippi or in California, much of America’s school staff attended colleges of education that teach similar, politically infused educational philosophies. The question is, can parents really retake control of public education?

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School Choice: Protecting Parental Rights, Resolving Curriculum Wars, and Reducing Inequality

In Part I of this essay, I outlined the key tenets of critical race theory and showed how popularized versions of this controversial theory have made their way into many public schools across the nation. Today, in Part II, I explain why the teaching of CRT-inspired ideas in public schools is contrary to parental rights; I propose school choice measures as a crucial part of the solution.

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Critical Race Theory, Public Schools, and Parental Rights

Today, in Part I of this essay, I explain critical race theory and show how many of its ideas have made their way into public schools across the country, prompting a backlash that has led to the introduction of anti-CRT education regulations in many states. CRT views values like “objectivity” as tools of oppression. It’s clear that many public schools are indeed incorporating plenty of CRT-inspired ideas like these in their curricula.

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The Steady State Delusion

While still on the fringe, organizations like The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) seek to push anti-growth ideas into the political mainstream. The vision is economically illiterate, politically implausible, and incompatible with America’s constitutional freedoms.

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An Open Letter to HHS Secretary Becerra on Ending the Covid-19 Public Health “Emergency”

Human flourishing requires both public health and individual liberty and an appropriate balance between these goods when they conflict. We know that human beings flourish in community; we are social by nature. As such, we should not be surprised that government Covid-19 regulations mandating school closures, lockdowns, masking, and vaccination have isolated us from our fellow citizens and imposed significant attendant harms. It is time to declare this emergency over and once again let people take responsibility for themselves.

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Technology and the Soul: The Spiritual Lessons of Digital Distraction

The age of digital media has unleashed a profoundly threatening human experiment. By drawing us to waste not only our time, but our attention, social media seduces us to waste our souls. Our brightest engineers have trained our most powerful technology to act with the psychological craftiness of demons. Neuroscience helps us understand how digital media is changing us, but we need a more classical language about the soul to understand, and protect ourselves from, the most ominous of these changes.

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Conscience, Virtue, and Moral Concerns about COVID Vaccines

Many Catholics have found their consciences rattled by COVID vaccine mandates and are seeking conscience protections and exemptions. But to champion conscience for its own sake, without appreciating what forms and informs it, is to err on a fundamental level. Any consideration of conscience must be aided by the virtues, those firm dispositions of the soul that enable us to act well in every circumstance—no matter how complex or challenging.

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Catholic Bishops Fail in Defending Conscience

Several Catholic dioceses have conflated the teaching of the Church with scientific or prudential judgment about the common good during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led many bishops to dismiss legitimate concerns about COVID vaccines felt by individuals with sensitive consciences. In so doing, these bishops ignore the Church’s teachings about the grave duty to obey one’s conscience.

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The Inherent Virtues of Commerce

Is it possible to argue that commercial activity is inherently virtuous, that it does not need to be tolerated as a necessary evil, but rather should be embraced as a positive good? If we all have the mind of the maker, if we are all created in the image of God, then we are all creators. For some, creativity manifests itself in commercial life. The changes of the eighteenth century, the bourgeois deal, allowed whole new sets of people to finally unchain their creative impulses.

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Russia’s Unjust Attack and Ukraine’s Just War

A proper reading of the just war theory’s criteria clearly shows that Ukraine’s defensive war against Russia is just. Ukrainian armed forces and citizens have the right, and even the duty, to defend themselves in order to maintain their political independence and territorial integrity.

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The Bookshelf: The Joys of Used Bookstores

At used bookstores, I’ve discovered lesser-known titles from celebrated authors—Waugh, Koestler, and Cather. These works represent this most precious impulse of twentieth-century literature: that every life that comes within our reach has its claim on us, and is not to be wasted or sacrificed to any cause, program, or system on which we have the conceit to place a higher value.

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Is the Fearless Pursuit of Truth Enough?

Is the fearless pursuit of truth sufficient to form the basis of a new university? Is it enough to be always in pursuit of truth? Or does one hope, along the way, to find, keep, and act on some of it? Is a commitment to truth and freedom in the abstract sufficient to ground an academic community, or is something else—a larger tradition—required?

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Christians and the University of Austin

For Christians, UATX’s educational model poses a dilemma. On the one hand, guided by the truths of revelation, how could Christians endorse an institution that eschews all claims to prior knowledge? On the other hand, is there a strategic advantage to allying with non-sectarian schools when the bulk of American universities are unyielding partisans of secularism?

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From Masks to Gender Ideology: The Political Power of Parental Pushback

The majority of parents are very angry about everything that has happened—not just the masking, not just the closing schools, but the combination of all of that. And it’s the fact that the people on the school boards, and Democratic politicians, by and large, just refuse to admit that this was wrong, and that it had consequences. And when they refuse to do that, why on earth would anyone vote for them again?

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American Christians’ Russophilia Must End

Russia is no “Christian powerhouse.” That narrative is little more than an easily falsifiable propaganda campaign by its kleptocratic governing class. Russia struggles not only to preserve its ancient faith tradition—in spite of significant government expenditures to the Orthodox Church—but also to protect and preserve its families in the face of substance abuse, domestic violence, and unmitigated cronyism.

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