In contrast to Ayn Rand’s refusal to recognize even relatives as having any claim upon her, as I mentioned earlier today, John Winthrop in his “A Modell of Christian Charity,” preached onboard a ship to the new world in 1630. Christians are governed by the “double law” of nature and of grace, or the moral law and the law of the gospel, he says. By the first of these laws man as he was enabled so withal is commanded to… Read more

“I cannot like you or want to help you without reason,” Ayn Rand wrote her niece, who had asked to borrow money for a graduation dress. Rand sets out the conditions on which she will loan her niece the money and explains that she is testing her and trying to teach her something about life. So there is, in Rand’s harsh response, apparent altruism and even kindness. To pay one’s debts is an important lesson to learn, if one doesn’t… Read more

“They are not besotted with the Pope as the Vicar of Christ. They are interested in him and his every little word because he has power, and power is what they are all about,” writes Rebecca Hamilton in her latest weblog item, “Pope Francis is Writing an Encyclical on the Environment, and Both Sides of the Political Spectrum are Sharpening their Knives.” Hamilton, who just retired after eighteen years as state representative in Oklahoma, is an old-fashioned Democrat, concerned with… Read more

The movie was, if anything, an advertisement for virginity. The Smokers, an indy production I saw years ago and recently saw sitting on the shelf of a videostore, told the story of three young women at a boarding school and what happened when they tried to be like the boys. The movie was wiser than that representative of elite enlightened opinion, the New York Times, as I wrote in this week’s column for Aleteia, Macho Girls: A few days after I… Read more

A friend writes on Facebook with a similar story that those I told in my last column for Aleteia: Nurse: “Three boys, huh? So I suppose you guys will want to keep trying for that girl, no?” Me: “Yeah, totally. We are SUPER disappointed in this beautiful boy. And we are only really into this parenting thing to fulfill our own desires. So, yeah, we’ll keep trying until we get what we want.” Okay, I didn’t actually say something that crabby…. Read more

St. Francis de Sales is the patron of writers and journalists, and said a great many wise things writers and journalists should hear. These are a few passages from his classic work, Introduction to the Devout Life, relevant for the craft and calling of writing. In them he warns rather than instructs and doesn’t really speak directly to what writers and journalists should do, except in the sense that the whole book is about vocation and holiness. In other words, journalists and writers ought to read… Read more

Speak of others as you would have them speak of you is the rule for speech, I think, as I wrote in last week’s column for Aleteia, When Men Speak of All That Is Evil Against You. Anyone with any verbal gifts can easily hurt people badly, and even those without any verbal gifts can hurt with the simplest insults and abuse, and in either case to no good end. I said that I had done that many times, which I now… Read more

This has lessons for liturgy, good and bad: an Italian researcher working with the University of Southern California reports that Repetitive pop songs [are] ‘more likely to be hits’. The study found that for each additional repeat, a song’s likelihood of making it to number one increased by 14.5 per cent. . . . More repetitive songs rose more rapidly. The chance of a song going straight into the top 40 increased by 17 per cent for each repetition. Neither the gender of the… Read more

Many people don’t like other people living outside the middle class mainstream and insist on telling you so. It’s trying when it’s not just annoying. I give examples in today’s column for Aleteia, When Men Speak of All That Is Evil Against You . . . and ask what this experience should teach Christians about the way they speak of others. The column begins: “When we decide to stop having hot sex,” one of Pia de Solenni’s multi-childrened friends answers when someone… Read more

Something I stumbled upon while looking for something: the great nineteenth-century Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s comments on proverbs, The Salt-Cellars. They vary in quality, of course, and his teetotalling comes out in a few, but many of them are witty, insightful, provocative, etc. Here are some from the “M” section in volume two: Many can get money; few can use it well. Even to keep it is not easy. Many of the silliest investments have been made by men who,… Read more

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