A specter haunts philosophy. “Historicism” arises from the very banal insight that a thinker’s thought is embedded within a historical context–even when not explicitly, a writer is responding to ideas that are around him, and so understanding those ideas and that context is key to understanding the thinker’s thought. But as an “-ism” historicism is a very soapy slippery slope to philosophical relativism: all philosophers were simply men of their times, prisoners of their times, and therefore their thought can be taken or… Read more

This is so tiresome. So, I guess the President said some historically-illiterate things seeming to draw moral equivalency between Islamic terrorism and atrocities committed in the name of Christ. And so now predictably (all too predictably) comes the predictable conservative riposte defending the Crusades and the Inquisition. This example, on the Crusades, by First Things, is their most liked/shared article on their Facebook page by far. I mean, look, I get it. That’s the environment I grew up in. I read young adult novels about the… Read more

Diana von Glahn, fellow Patheosi, is “The Faithful Traveler”: she makes beautiful travel reportage about places of great significance to the Catholic faith. With the canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra slated in September, Diana wants to produce a series about the California Missions, and for this she needs your help. Yep, it’s a Kickstarter. And it’s a worthy one. So go help her out. Here’s the promo video: Now, ite! Read more

So, I need to make a confession. I’ve only read Rerum Novarum in its entirety yesterday. Sometimes, people who say you shouldn’t only rely on secondary literature are right. At the end of the day, I am still an amateur. Anyway–a while back I wrote saying that a version of Enlightenment human rights, and the right to private property in particular, was a natural (ha) outgrowth of Catholic and Thomistic natural law theory (as the Enlightenment thinkers themselves believed) and that according to… Read more

Take it away, Mr Allen: Read more

I can’t really write a massive post about our Christian duty to conform ourselves to Christ through submission to the Magisterium and not take my own medicine. We are all called to struggle with Church doctrine, to let ourselves be transformed by the renewal of our minds, through the Spirit of sonship. Hence, the death penalty. Years ago I wrote this post in support of the death penalty, and, I guess, I still think it’s valid. There are no absolute rights;… Read more

The essay “Bloodless Moralism”, by the talented writer Helen Andrews, has recently been unpaywalled by First Things, and so it’s an occasion to revisit it. Like everything Ms Andrews writes, it is beautiful, erudite, well-thought-out, and original. But it still falls into that frustrating category of essays: the one that advances a claim, the weak version of which is obviously true; the strong version of which is obviously false; and it’s never clear on which side the essay actually lands. Andrews’ essay is… Read more

Austin Ruse has a piece lambasting those Catholics who would see Catholics disassociate themselves from the Republican Party over the use of torture. He goes over the history of those Catholics who supported and played a role in the Bush Administration and paints a positive picture of those years. As a supporter of the Republican Party, I share a number of his impulses. I agree that it’s ridiculous to think we should weigh abortion and, say, the minimum wage in the balance… Read more

Forget about history, philosophy and theology for a moment. Think instead about people’s basic, social, everyday commonsense experience. I step outside my front door, and I see cars. I see tall buildings. I see concrete. I have been on planes. I have been in hospitals, waiting in anxiety on a medical doctor’s judgement. I have seen loved ones receive routine treatments for ailments that would have killed them a hundred years ago. My home has heating, running water, electricity, the internet. My… Read more

A fascinating thing is to watch the culture percolated through the mind of a child who has started to give in to school, and therefore increasingly brings home bits and drabs of the noosphere that haven’t been communicated through her parents. Now, when my daughter wants candy, she doesn’t ask “Can I have candy?” (or, on good days, “May I please have candy, Papa?”) she asks “Do I have a right to candy?” So it is with great sympathy that I look upon the… Read more

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