Roasting Marshmallows at the Apocalypse

[A review of Nothing to Vote For: The Futility of the American Electoral Process, by Daniel Schwindt]One of the more misguided, even destructive projects of our hyper-merchandized culture is the labeling of entire generations into Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, etc. As though our society needed yet another mechanism for dividing ourselves from each other, especially via stereotypes based on shopping. As an example of the crudity of these generational labels, I offer the example of my … [Read more...]

Substituting Charity for Justice

 In an address delivered today, Pope Francis observed that, "The just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labour is not mere philanthropy.  It is a moral obligation."There is also a passage from Benedict XVI's Caritas in Veritate that runs as follows: Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his … [Read more...]

Why you might not want a ‘strong work ethic’

We've all heard about how important it is to cultivate the illusive Work Ethic. And it seems it should be as "strong" as possible--moderation is not a virtue in this framework.But what exactly is the Work Ethic? Max Weber defined it by citing Benjamin Franklin who said: "Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that … [Read more...]

I sometimes give money to bums

Sometimes we do things on the basis of an intuition and only later are we able to verbalize what that intuition was, and why we felt compelled to obey it.When I was about 19, in my second year of college, I had one such experience. I found myself living in an apartment in Wichita, Kansas. Near my apartment was a video store where I worked part-time in order to afford my liquor, which, because I was a bona fide alcoholic, required a substantial sum of money.One day, walking out of the … [Read more...]

Amoris Laetitia, Vatican II, and “The Long Defeat”: A Defense of the Pope as Shepherd

What follows is an excerpt from my own recently published work, The Papist's Guide to America. I'm posting it here because, although I meant it as a defense of the Magisterium in general, it may also serve as a thorough defense of Pope Francis's powerful new document, Amoris Laetitia. The thesis is simple: that the same pastoral logic which necessitated Vatican II also necessitates Amoris Laetitia, and that, because of this causal identity between the two, we should expect that those who coul … [Read more...]

Insanity and Alienation in America: Revisited

On February 25th there was another "mass shooting," this time in Hesston, Kansas, just down the road from where I live. In this light, I was reminded of some things I wrote after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and I thought it a good time to revisit the theme of insanity and alienation in our society: Insanity is understandable. I can, in a sense, walk a certain distance in the shoes of the phobic who fears open spaces...All that I know of the tragedy in Connecticut is that it is … [Read more...]

Book Recommendation: Poor Relief in England by Marjorie McIntosh

Consider this more of a friendly "book recommendation" than a "review." I don't wish to outline the book's general shape, nor will I analyse its arguments in much detail. I only want to point it out as an up-to-date and valuable piece of research that sheds important light on the subject of poor relief.I should emphasize that I am not pointing this book out primarily as fodder for the "Protestant vs. Catholic" debate. It may be useful in that area, but it is more interesting for what it can … [Read more...]

The Bright Side of Dark Times

 Politics in America seems to be going off the rails. Therefore, I thought it wise to pause and try to look at the bright side, if there is one (and it turns out there several). I wanted to imagine how, even if the conflagration comes, we might simply roast some marshmallows and enjoy the warmth of a new beginning.Now I'm not trying to cheer on the end, by any means. Quite the opposite. What I'll try to illustrate is that whatever happens, this isn't the end--the apocalypse is not co … [Read more...]

The Useless People

The useless people in our society are not the poor or the unemployed. Most economic theories and capitalism in particular have taken great pains to account for those who should be working, but aren’t; and such theories have, in their greatness, adjusted themselves for such variables—taking them into account. No, the useless people in our system are of three types: women, children, and the elderly. These are the people whom terms like “productivity” and “full employment” cannot account for—cannot … [Read more...]

Two Roads to Gigantism

Gigantism is a condition characterized by excessive growth. In the human body, it is caused by a pituitary gland that doesn’t understand the concept of moderation. In a human society, it is caused by a social philosophy that suffers from the same conceptual ignorance. We have it, and we have it badly.For evidence, we need look no further than the political rhetoric, from either team, which revolves almost entirely around the necessity of growth. Growth (more production and consumption) is t … [Read more...]