The Greeks lost their marbles, and the British could kindly return them. Bad arguments why the British must return them do not gainsay the fact that they may. Such magnanimity, moreover, would put into practice one of most unexpected innovations in human history: St. Paul’s understanding of grace.
Pillar: Education & Culture
The fourth pillar, education and culture, is built upon the recognition of two essential realities. First, the Western intellectual tradition requires a dedication to and desire for truth. Second, education takes place not only within colleges and universities but within our broader culture, whose institutions and practices form us as whole persons.
Art, Beauty, and the Soul of the University
Art is a convening point for many different avenues of pursuing beauty. It is the bridge between chemistry and history and between theology and engineering. Beauty is something every specialist cares about, even in the fields that seem most technical.
Capital Crimes and Capital Punishment
When it comes to premeditated murder, compensation is not available. As much of human history attests and as the biblical witness affirms, it is the one crime that carries a mandatory death sentence. To suggest or argue that the ultimate human crime should not be met with the ultimate punishment is a moral travesty because it fails to comprehend the nature and meaning of the imago Dei, and thereby undermines the common good.
The Bookshelf: The Ministry of Inclusion
The attempt to control thought can do incalculable damage, however doomed it is ultimately. Just as Plato’s guardians are to be kept on the path to virtue by the elimination of all examples of vice, so the self-appointed guardians of contemporary culture have decided that “inclusion” is the virtue of our time, and all literature that might make the path to inclusion a bumpy one must be flattened, bulldozed, paved over.
Black Is Beautiful
All those we love, and we ourselves, will one day go through that great black door of death. We need to acknowledge that fact and not try to evade or soften it. Without God, life really is a tragedy, and our mourning is a meaningless biochemical reaction. But our story doesn’t end there. The door has another side: a side of light, with a waiting, loving God.
Contempt, Inquiry, and Rational Disagreement: Learning from Aquinas in the Internet Age
Present-day Americans are a people consumed by anger—an anger that rests on deep pools of sadness, isolation, loss, and fear. In spite of his reputation for dry, unemotional logic, Thomas Aquinas has a great deal to say about the way in which disordered passions can undermine our capacity for getting at the truth. His work can teach us how to resist the vices encouraged by social media, pursue truth in concert with others, and achieve rational disagreement.
An American Tragedy: On the Suicide of Liberal Education
Life’s biggest questions are almost never resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and if we don’t study the differences between the Epicureans and the Stoics, between Locke and Rousseau, and between legal originalists and non-originalists, we are missing out on our own music: sometimes a battle of the bands, sometimes cacophony, always fascinating.
Eppur si muove: The Legend of Galileo
From beginning to end, the Inquisition’s actions were disciplinary, not dogmatic, although they were based on the erroneous notion that it was heretical to claim that the Earth moves. But opinions of theologians are not the same as Christian doctrine. The error the Church made in dealing with Galileo was an error in judgment. The Inquisition was wrong to discipline Galileo, but discipline is not dogma.
To Be Human Is to Argue
The modern story of “argument” might seem troubling to many. Debate too often seems emotion-driven, and laden with fallacies and quarrelsome noise. By exploring the significance of argument for both individuals and society, Lee Siegel’s Why Argument Matters reminds us why to be human is to argue—and why that is something to celebrate.
The (Female) Intellectual Life
With All Her Mind, in compiling the hard-won wisdom of women from many different states in and ways of life, encourages its reader to cultivate compassion toward women whose balances of work, family, children, and study look different from her own. The intellectual life need not be a source of competition among women, but instead ought to find a place in each of our lives.
The Scandal of Virtuous Reading
In The Scandal of Holiness, Jessica Hooten Wilson suggests that we shift from passive, uncritical acceptance of cultural mores and entertainment to active formation in virtue, leading toward a life of sainthood. To do this, we need stories of sanctity that do not elide the messiness of everyday reality. These stories are neither saccharine accounts of cheap piety nor dry philosophical and moral theories.
The Bookshelf: Writing in the Mirror
Whether it is an account of one’s whole life, or a memoir focused on a certain period or aspect of one’s life, or a published journal or diary, the author of an autobiography is too deeply interested (in both senses of that word) to achieve a really critical distance. Can the autobiographer, the memoirist, or the diarist be trusted?
Why the Super Bowl Is Good for America
Don the jersey, embrace the pageantry, and invite friends over for seven-layer dip.
There Is No Thinking without Memorizing
We deploy faddish educational notions such as “critical thinking” to the detriment of our students. What is often derided as “rote-learning” is actually essential to sophisticated analysis. Memorization creates a base of knowledge. We draw upon this foundational knowledge as we engage in more conceptual thinking.
Remembering Paul Johnson, the Historian of Human Dignity
Underlying Paul Johnson’s historical writing was the sense that people possess an innate dignity. To Johnson, history was the story of people—flawed, creative, reasoning, exceptional—with the capacity for incredible achievement. People, he thought, were made with a purpose, and that meant history has a purpose.
Seven Days with Cardinal Pell
I consider myself lucky to have gotten to know George Cardinal Pell a bit—and that after his 80th year.
Confronting Faith’s Postmodern Problem
In the postmodern world, orthodox religion suffers less for being thought demonstrably false than from claiming the authority of truth at all. This absence of consensus about truth is reflected in the variety of perspectives contained in a collection of essays by seventeen thoughtful Orthodox Jews. Since their reflections on the causes and conditions of belief apply to all religions, all believers are likely to find something instructive in this book.
The Legacy of Living Jews
Instead of focusing on what the world has done to the Jews, it is far more worthwhile to investigate the way Jews have not only survived, but thrived.
The Bookshelf: Enter 2023 Laughing
There is a lot of mileage to be gained out of mockery, and nowhere more than in satire and parody. But successful parody depends on close study, intimate familiarity with the target, and that can often produce a certain gentleness and sympathy in the result.
Pope Benedict XVI: An Appreciation
Jews and Christians both must rally around Benedict’s call to defend and celebrate the legacy of the West: the rule of law, the respect for the dignity of man, the institutions of marriage and family, the love of our neighbor, the one most like us, which becomes the basis for the love of the truly other, even—and especially—the one most unlike us. These are the gifts of the West.
Census Fidei? Methodological Missteps Are Undermining the Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality
As a social scientist, I have grave concerns about the methodological mess that has characterized this synod’s massive, unwieldy data-collection-and-analysis venture.
Benedict XVI: Apostle of Hope
Benedict lived in a faithless time when people lost themselves and their hope. He reminded them of who they were, and who they could be—children and heirs of God. What good fortune we had to have lived at a time when a man such as this taught us.
What Is Matter (and Why Does It Matter)?
What is most original in Koons’s book Is St. Thomas’s Aristotelian Philosophy of Nature Obsolete? is his argument that quantum mechanics is best interpreted as vindicating the Aristotelian hylomorphist’s view of nature. Koons is the first prominent philosopher to make the case at book-length, in a way that combines expertise in the relevant philosophical ideas and literature with serious and detailed engagement with the scientific concepts.
The Forgotten Tragedies of the Christmas Story
Christ’s advent is an astonishing story of God’s power and light breaking into our darkness, doubt, and suffering.
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.