December 31, 2020

It is not unusual for universities to house a think-tank or two.  A think-tank is  an academic unit committed to research and the proliferation of that research. Some of the most well-known think-tanks include Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. They often host lectures, symposia, discussions, debates, etc. in which resident scholars and/visiting researchers participate.  Unlike other academic units of the university, think-tanks do not offer degrees or even classes, though most if not… Read more

December 14, 2020

The last two years have been my most productive in terms of publishing.  I really don’t understand why.  My guess is that I have become far more disciplined in reading and writing while at the same time realizing how little I actually know.  Looking back at some of my early publications in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, I am actually surprised that they were published at all.  What I see in my younger self is a way too… Read more

December 13, 2020

Beginning on January 1, 2019 I embarked on a journey through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae.  Nearly two years later, I am finally finished.  I read the last page today, December 13, 2020, on the Feast of St. Lucy. Although I had read a lot of the Summa over the past 40 years or so (not to mention numerous other works by Aquinas including the Summa Contra Gentiles), I had never read the whole thing cover to cover in such a… Read more

December 13, 2020

MIT philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson died on November 20, 2020 at the age of 91.  She was, by all accounts, one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, having penned some of the most penetrating essays in the history of the discipline. But, as her New York Times obituary notes, she is best known for an article she published in 1971 in the journal Philosophy and Public Affairs, “A Defense of Abortion.” The Times writes: [Thomson’s article] began… Read more

December 7, 2020

The title of this blog post is the title of an article I just published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Christian Legal Thought 10.2 (2020): 21-28.  An earlier version of the piece was delivered in New York City as a paper as part of the panel, “Church–State Relations in a Time of Scandal,” sponsored by The Morningside Institute (Sept. 26, 2019). Here’s the introductory paragraph: In this essay I look at the abuse crisis in the American Catholic Church through… Read more

November 29, 2020

Last week Pope Francis elevated Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC to the College of Cardinals.  He is the first American of African descent to become a Cardinal, though he is not first in the history of the Church.  (Among the living non-American African cardinals are Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Francis Arinze, and Robert Sarah)  Because of this mistaken tweet by CBS News, I wanted to find out more about African Catholics that served the church from its beginnings. So,… Read more

November 18, 2020

If you needed any further evidence that the ends of big-time college athletics (to establish branding and rake in money) are oftentimes at cross-purposes with the mission of higher education, look no further than the NCAA’s plan to emulate the NBA’s playoff bubble for its Division I championship tournament (otherwise known as “March Madness”).  From the NCAA’s own website: The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee announced today the relocation of 13 predetermined preliminary round sites for the 2021 Division… Read more

October 31, 2020

“Reformation Day and Schism” is an essay I published 10 years ago in The Catholic Thing.   I argue in it that Western Christians should no more celebrate Reformation Day than one should celebrate one’s marital divorce.  What follows is the essay in its entirety.  Sunday, October 31, is Reformation Day. It marks 493  years [503 in 2020] since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to that famous door in Wittenberg, Germany.  The Augustinian monk set in motion a sequence of… Read more

October 27, 2020

Many readers of this blog have heard of the great Catholic literary scholar, Thomas Howard.  He died less than two weeks ago at the age of 85.  Born into a well-known Evangelical family, Howard was received into the Catholic Church in 1985.  Over the past two weeks, many writers have praised Howard’s works and have noted their profound influence on their own journeys as well as the journeys of countless other Christians from a variety of traditions. Among these writers are… Read more

October 5, 2020

In my first year philosophy classes I often ask my students why they are going to college. They typically answer: to get a good job.  And the discussion ensues… “Why do you want a good job?” “To live well, eventually raise a family, give to worthy causes….” “But why pursue those things?” Awkward silence…. Then someone breaks the silence and blurts out something like, “Because they are good….” “But why pursue good things?” Again, awkward silence.  To break it, I… Read more




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