Why Church Teachings on Chastity are Undeniably True

Many years ago, in one of the standard editions of The Tempest that I had ordered for my students, I read an angry little essay whose proximate target was the mage Prospero, and whose ultimate target was anyone alive, particularly men, who would uphold a view of sexual morality one or two steps higher than, … Read more

The Cult of Niceness

More than twenty-five years ago, in The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom pointed out that college students in the United States had become very “nice.” Students in general did not want to offend anyone and there was a constant concern to protect one another’s feelings. Bloom meant this as a half-hearted, even backhanded … Read more

Our National Pride

“I’m proud to be an American.” Those words are more than the refrain of a country-western song. This sentiment encompasses both reflection on our past and national aspiration. We look back on our history and see things we can be proud of as a nation, and we look forward to dream of pride in what … Read more

Of Peyote and “Humanae Vitae”

Religious liberty is at a crossroads in America. On one side are the forces of secularism, who think that religions, like children, are best seen and not heard (and, in truth, not even seen that much).  States like Illinois, California, and New York have been passing laws aimed directly at the ability of religious social-service … Read more

They Died for Christ

Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History by Robert Royal, Crossroad Publishing Company, 2000, 430 pages, $20.00   This review originally appeared in the October 2000 edition of Crisis Magazine.   In his encyclical Tertio Millenio Adveniente, preparing for the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II stated: “At the end of … Read more

A Calm and Cheerful Frame of Mind

This essay originally appeared in the October 1998 edition of Crisis Magazine.   In the Fifth Sermon, entitled “Equanimity,” in the fifth book of his Parochial Sermons, delivered mostly in the 1830s, Newman speaks of the preparation for Christmas. Sometimes in Scripture, Newman points out, Christ’s coming seems a fearful thing. A “holy” fear or … Read more

Partial-Birth: The Sequel

The following column first appeared in the March 1997 edition of Crisis Magazine.   President Clinton’s veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act last April cracked open the facade of principle and consensus that our national leadership had presented to the country. The ideological gulf that exists between the president and the electorate, if ever … Read more

Tim Tebow and Christophobia

Two weeks into the NFL season, ESPN ran a Sunday morning special exploring why the third-string quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow, had become the most polarizing figure in American sports — more polarizing than trash-talking NBA behemoths; more polarizing than foul-mouthed Serena Williams; more polarizing than NFL all-stars who father numerous children by … Read more

Guidelines for the Protection of Priests

When the United States bishops meet in Seattle in June for their semiannual conference, they will review the implementation of the 2002 “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” It has served, for almost ten years, as the primary mechanism to safeguard minors from sexual abuse in the American Catholic Church. While the … Read more

True and False Tolerance

Tolerance is an ambiguous word greatly valued by the zeitgeist. Who dares to declare himself against tolerance? There would be nothing left to say, however, if the contemporary idea of tolerance was not fundamentally distorted. Properly understood, tolerance implies respect for people but not agreement with their error or fault. Thus, ideas do not have … Read more

Are conservatives to blame for failing infrastructure?

In the LA Times today, Jonah Goldberg defends conservatives against those who blame them for holding up infrastructure improvements. Goldberg says we just don’t build things the way we used to for a number of reasons — among them, low tolerance for deaths on the job and environmental regulations.  Much of the liberal intelligentsia is … Read more

Up in the Air

We’re up in the air when the baby starts to get fussy. I try to nurse her without elbowing my fellow airplane passengers. I make her laugh with a game of owl. I hand her a Biscoff cookie. I manage to entertain her for a few minutes, but then her crumb-covered face melts into a … Read more

It’s Time You People Confronted Your Obesophobia

The other day, I was reading an article on a so-called treatment for infant girls supposedly “threatened” by allegedly “malformed” genitalia due to a rare hormone “disorder.” This heterosexually privileged narrative, which hitherto has imperialistically “treated” these children in utero and allowed them to be born with “normal” female genitalia, is now being challenged by … Read more

Should We Tolerate Intolerance?

The 20th, worst of centuries — if you reckon such things by as blunt an instrument as the number of civilians murdered by their own governments — was bloodied by that deadliest of things: bad philosophy. The intellectual errors of previous centuries had festered slowly in thick French and German books, still restrained by the … Read more

A Magnificent Restoration

When Daniel Coit Gilman became the founding president of Johns Hopkins University in 1875, he called for a policy of intellectual freedom based on the principle of “open academic discourse” liberated from “ecclesiastical and political control.” He wasn’t opposed to religiously affiliated universities per se, but he criticized abuses of academic freedom and unwarrantedrestrictions on … Read more

No Freaking Way

As the holiday season comes upon us, and Catholic teenagers everywhere prepare for their high school dances — searching for the perfect gowns, tuxedos, and corsages, and pondering how, whether, and when to find a date — the subject of freak dancing will not likely come up. While some high schools have implemented policies that … Read more

War Without End: The Muslim Conquests

Crusading ideals in the West were an answer to the greater threat of jihad. They were spurred by fear and necessity in a desperate competition with Islam that, for many centuries, Christians lost — and were aware that they were losing. The extent of Islam’s victories can be seen in the all-but-complete disappearance of the … Read more

Laying the Netherlands to Sleep

On my most recent visit to Amsterdam for the World Congress of Families (WCF), I was once again struck by the remarkable façade of peaceful, tolerant prosperity the Dutch maintain. Although its famous openness to lust and license is ever more apparent, Amsterdam’s charm remains in its tidy homes, shops, museums, and beautiful (though empty) … Read more

The ‘Rhetoric of Rant’ and Religious Controversy

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord (1754-1838) was a scandalous bishop, adroit foreign minister, and quintessential survivor who served the French Revolution, Napoleon, and the restored Bourbon monarchy with equally cold-blooded skill. Slippery character though he was, however, Talleyrand also was a wit. In Earthly Powers, his valuable history of the interaction between religion and politics in … Read more

Meet the Charity Commission

In Britain, as in other Western countries, registered charities can claim various tax and other privileges. It’s a system that ensures that a whole range of useful community activities — from running churches, clubs, and youth organizations to catering for the otherwise neglected needs of specific groups — can be carried out without undue financial … Read more

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