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

October 2, 2020

Six years ago today my dear friend, Gretchen Passantino Coburn, passed away.  What follows is an essay I wrote a week after her death. —— Gretchen Passantino Coburn died last week [10/02/14] at the age of 61. Although virtually all of my Catholic readers, and most of my Protestant ones, have likely never heard of her, she was, along with her late husband, Bob Passantino, an important influence on many of us who considered ourselves to be intellectually serious Evangelicals. Although I had… Read more

September 15, 2020

Today in my undergraduate class–Contemporary Moral Problems: Law, Morality, and Justice–we began discussing an article authored by Michael Ruse and E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” published in The New Scientist in 1985.  Later this week we will read an opposing view authored by C. S. Lewis, from the first five chapters of his book Mere Christianity.   I first began using both pieces in class in Fall 2016 while I was a visiting professor at the University of… Read more

September 11, 2020

That’s the title of an article I recently published in the journal, Studies in Christian Ethics 33.2 (2020).  It is a revised version of a paper I delivered at a conference at Oxford University in May 2018.  Here is the abstract: This article critically assesses an account of religious liberty often associated with several legal and political philosophers: Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, and Christopher Eisgruber and Lawrence Sager. Calling it the Religion as Comprehensive Doctrine approach (RCD), the author contrasts it with an… Read more

August 28, 2020

Today, August 28, is the Feast Day of St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430).  The most influential theologian in the history of Western Christianity, he often is cited by both Catholics and Protestants in support of their respective views on the doctrine of justification. The following is an example of St. Augustine’s brilliance. In these paragraphs, from his On Grace and Free Will (AD 426 or 427), he offers an interpretation of Scripture that, in my judgment, reconciles the apparently contrary… Read more

August 27, 2020

Over the past 24 hours I’ve read several online pieces, three of which stand out. The first appeared in The Bulwark and is authored by Mona Charen.  Entitled, “Why this Prolife Conservative is Voting for Biden,” she writes: Being pro-life is part of an overall approach to ethical questions. It’s wrong to take innocent life. But other things are immoral too. It’s also wrong to swindle people, to degrade and demonize, to incite violence, to bully, and while we’re at… Read more

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