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...]

Pathological generosity

In Brazil a man  suffered a stroke, whereupon he started giving away his money, giving food to street children, and being so kind to everyone that he has been diagnosed as having “pathological generosity.”  Interestingly, his condition made him lose his job as a manager for a large corporation. [Read more...]

Let’s apply Just War Theory

As Congress and the nation as a whole decide on whether to attack Syria, let us take up the exercise of applying the guidelines for starting a “Just War,” according to Christian ethicists going back to St. Augustine.

The criteria are listed after the jump.  How would they apply to the current proposal to use cruise missiles to punish Syria for using chemical weapons?

Even if a war would be just by these criteria doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea, but let’s see to what extent these ancient principles can offer guidance in a contemporary problem. [Read more...]

America’s wars are for virtue

Inconvenient truths from Henry Allen:

The United States doesn’t fight for land, resources, hatred, revenge, tribute, religious conversion — the usual stuff. Along with the occasional barrel of oil, we fight for virtue. [Read more...]

The Protestant work ethic

Our post in honor of Vocation Day, which used to be called Labor Day. . . .

Max Weber, one of the founders of modern sociology, credited the doctrine of vocation for the rise of  the modern economy in his 1920 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

Now, there are  problems with Weber’s thesis and his approach, as scholars have been noting.  Theologically, he emphasizes Calvin’s doctrine of vocation, which stresses your job, rather than Luther’s, which includes how you make your living but also covers marriage, parenthood, and citizenship.  Weber also says that success at your work was seen as a way to convince yourself of your election (which I’m not sure Calvinists actually believed), while Luther sees the purpose of all vocations as love and service to one’s neighbor.  Luther sees vocation in light of the Gospel, so that such love is a fruit of faith.  Vocation isn’t about the value of your own works, since God is working through you in your calling.

Anyway, Weber popularized the notion of the “Protestant work ethic.” [Read more...]

Triumph of the Will

In my book Postmodern Times, I write about how the will has replaced reason in contemporary thought.  In my book Modern Fascism, I discuss  the great filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s celebration of Hitler, The Triumph of the Will, and argue that the phrase encapsulates the philosophy of Fascism. I also contrasted this worldview with that of Luther, who wrote The Bondage of the Will.

I am pleased to see R. R. Reno discussing the same topic, how today the will–what I want, what I desire–trumps everything. [Read more...]


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