Holy Communion, Culture, & Vocation

We often talk about how God works through material elements in the sacraments to convey His grace in Christ.  But I came across a quotation that adds a dimension I never thought of before.  The water of Baptism is certainly a natural substance, but the bread and wine of Holy Communion do not occur from nature alone.  As James K. A. Smith points out, they require culture.  And I would add, they require vocation.  [Read more...]

Teenagers are losing interest in driving?

You thought it strange that Japanese young adults are losing interest in sex?  How about American teenagers who are losing interest in driving?  Only half of teenagers have a driver’s license by the time they are 18.  Twenty years ago two-thirds did.

After the jump, a report on the phenomenon.  The study cited, sponsored by the automobile industry, blames the economy and expresses the hope that teenagers will want to drive again once the economy improves.  But I’m not sure that’s what the data shows. [Read more...]

Electronic cigarettes

We Americans tend to get suspicious of people enjoying themselves too much, especially if it involves some kind of physical crutch.  Smoking was condemned as a vice even before the incontrovertible evidence of how bad it is for you.  But now electronic cigarettes have been invented, little battery-operated devices that look like a cigarette but involve no burning of any tobacco, just dispensing a nicotine-laced water vapor to breathe in.

But even though there have been no studies proving them harmful, the anti-smoking forces, not content with their victory over tobacco, are trying to put restrictions on electronic cigarettes also.  In Europe, on the other hand, the medical profession is lauding the devices as “infinitely less dangerous” than tobacco and far more effective than nicotine patches in helping people stop smoking. [Read more...]

How exceptional is America?

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has been scolding Americans for thinking our country is exceptional.  Robert Samuelson takes up the question of American exceptionalism and, without being triumphalist about it,  highlights some distinctive qualities of the American mind. [Read more...]

Cohabitation requires too much commitment?

The number of unmarried couples who are just living together skyrocketed in the last decades of the 20th century.  But since 2000 the cohabitation rate  has stalled.  Experts are saying that one reason may be that living together has become so common that it has become traditional, rather like marriage.  And, like marriage, living together is perceived as requiring too much commitment. [Read more...]

“So what’s your name and preferred gender pronoun?”

According to a new code of etiquette, it’s not enough to ask someone’s name.  You also need to ask, “what’s your PGP?”  That is, your “preferred gender pronoun.”  The choices may be “he” or “she” or “they” or the newly-coined “ze.” [Read more...]