I may not live in a monastic community like St. Benedict, but I live among others in my own sort of domestic monastery, and I am fully invested in these members’ flourishing. My Rule of Life helps me flesh out what it means to thrive both personally and as a family.
Pillar: <span>The Human Person</span>
The first pillar of a decent society is respect for the human person, which recognizes that all individual human beings have dignity simply because of the kind of being they are: animals whose rational faculties allow them to know, love, reason, and communicate. It also recognizes that human beings are persons, members of the human family who flourish in a community that respects their fundamental rights and who long to discover transcendent truths about the nature of reality.
The use of HEK 293 or similar cell lines in no way perpetuates the grave injustice of abortion or implies approval of abortion. To call a cell line, a vaccine, a railroad, a medication, or any other physical thing morally compromised is simply a category mistake, because good and evil are characteristics of the human will, not of physical things.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Medicine isn’t opposed to what makes us human. At its best, it’s a practical application of the ideals of humanistic education, and its goal is to express and enable those things that distinguish us as human beings. Those practicing medicine need encouragement to cultivate a true understanding of health and healthcare.
Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine poses any significant moral concern. Any moral issues with both are so remote and minor that they should prevent nobody from getting either of them.
What I learned from St. Katharine Drexel was that the first act is simply to see the truth. To really use our eyes and intellect and heart to see another as a fellow human, given dignity by God, is no simple act—but it can be done. And then to step toward those who are not being accorded this dignity and to offer it to them, to reach out the hand of charity, takes a monumental act, a decision often of serious self-sacrifice.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s remote and limited interaction with abortion, coupled with the command to love thy neighbor, makes it a candidate for ethical use.
The future of germline editing includes practical risks, but the question of whether it will happen should hinge not only on whether it can be safely done. Physicians must carefully consider their role in relation to their patients, which is different from that of a scientist working with specimens in a lab.
Only by modeling true community, oriented towards the transcendent, can the church show a rapidly destabilizing world of expressive individuals that there is something greater, more solid, and more lasting than the immediate satisfaction of personal desires. The second in a two-part essay.
The notions that human flourishing is found primarily in an inner sense of wellbeing, that authenticity is found by being able to act outwardly as one feels inwardly, and that who we are is largely a matter of personal choice not external imposition have become common intuitions that lie at the heart of our society’s many ills. The first of a two-part essay.
Americans need not accept an interminable status quo of indifference toward the rights of the child, due either to the timidity of our political elite or to the presumption of our judiciary class. The ‘Lincoln Proposal’ offers pro-life presidents the clearest way to confront Roe v. Wade’s jurisprudence of violence and doubt and to protect the constitutional rights of preborn persons.
If the president and his administration are to be credibly accused of inconsistency with respect to their stance on using fetal cell lines from abortions, it would not be because the president personally received a dose of Regeneron’s drug, but rather because of a very different ethical failure: his administration’s channeling of hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds directly into the development of COVID-19 vaccines that utilize abortion-derived cells for their production.
When we deliberate about how the Church, the state, various institutions, and all individuals should navigate the crisis of COVID-19, we are in fact deliberating about what ultimate common good we collectively belong to. Yes, we are called to protect our own bodily life and the lives of others, but we are also inclined by nature to participate in communities of friendship, extended family life, truth-seeking, meaningful work, gainful employment, liturgy, and contemplation.
If the state seeks to protect the human body, it should do so in view of a more ultimate flourishing of the whole human person, for the sake of a civic society that promotes the free pursuit of spiritual goods. In a public health crisis, the ways we pursue these goods can be altered temporarily, but if the alterations threaten to radically alter the long-term pursuit of these goods, we must question these new policies.
Adam MacLeod’s new book, “The Age of Selfies,” represents a worthy contribution to the intellectual retracing of our steps that we must pursue if we hope to restore reason and civility to our public discourse. Our freedom and social tranquility depend on a renewed seriousness about natural law and objective moral truth.