Saturday, May 29, 2021

A reply to Dreher

Rod Dreher has responded to my recent post about him and Steve Skojec.  What follows is a reply.  Let me start by saying that I appreciate the good sportsmanship evident in his response.  Dreher has made his own personal spiritual crisis central to his writing about his understanding of Christianity and his reasons for leaving the Catholic Church.  There is simply no way one can disagree with him, however gently, without opening oneself up to the cheap and unjust accusation that one is being insensitive to the suffering he underwent.  Dreher does not play that game, which is to his credit.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Do not abandon your Mother

In Catholic theology, the Church is not to be identified with a mere aggregate of her members, not even those members who happen to hold ecclesiastical office at any particular moment.  She is an institution which existed before any of her current membership did and will continue to exist when they are gone.  But more than that, she is a corporate person, who can be said to think and to will, and to have rights and duties and other personal characteristics.  Even more specifically, she is a person of a feminine nature, the Bride of Christ and the Holy Mother of the faithful, nourishing them through sacrament and doctrine in a way analogous to a human mother’s nourishing of her children.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The trouble with capitalism

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  (Matthew 19:24)

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  (Mark 8:36)

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

When people use or hear the word “capitalism,” some of the things they might bring to mind are:

1. The institution of private property, including private ownership of the basic means of production

2. Market competition

3. The existence of corporations as legal persons

4. Inequalities in wealth and income

5. An economic order primarily oriented to the private sector, with government acting at the margins and only where necessary

Friday, May 14, 2021

Intellectuals in hell

It is by virtue of our rational or intellectual powers that we are made in God’s image and have a dignity nothing else in the material world possesses.  As Aquinas writes:

Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. vi, 12): “Man's excellence consists in the fact that God made him to His own image by giving him an intellectual soul, which raises him above the beasts of the field.” Therefore things without intellect are not made to God's image…  It is clear, therefore, that intellectual creatures alone, properly speaking, are made to God's image.  (Summa Theologiae I.93.2)

And again, a couple of articles later: “Man is said to be the image of God by reason of his intellectual nature” (Summa Theologiae I.93.4).

Monday, May 10, 2021

Grisez on balancing health against other considerations

Now that millions have been vaccinated, bogeyman Donald Trump has departed, and life is starting to get back to normal, some people are getting some critical distance on the health crisis of the last year – which was caused by the reaction to the virus no less than the virus itself.  Liberal magazine The Atlantic criticizes “the liberals who can’t quit lockdown.”  On Real Time, Bill Maher challenges his fellow left-wingers to own up to their exaggerations and misinformation on the subject of COVID-19.  On Daily Clout, feminist Naomi Wolf interviews Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who says that the lockdowns were “biggest public health mistake we've ever made” and caused harms “worse than COVID.”

Monday, May 3, 2021

The idols of the mind

Thomas Harper is one of the great forgotten Neo-Scholastic writers of the nineteenth century.  I discussed his wonderful little book The Immaculate Conception in a blog post many years ago.  He is especially notable for his unusually rigorous and thorough treatment of abstract topics in metaphysics, in works such as the massive three-volume The Metaphysics of the School.  Harper will sometimes interrupt a sustained exercise in abstract reasoning with a non-technical aside, as he does in the course of discussing the metaphysics of truth in Volume I.  He there offers (at pp. 461-466) a commentary on Francis Bacon’s “idols of the mind” which is even more relevant now than it was in Harper’s day.