Archive for Intellectual Formation

Nature Rebounds!

Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si’, is sure to invoke all sorts of reactions from its readers.  Having just finished it, I would even dare to suggest that each reader may experience a range of responses, section by section and even sentence by sentence.  It is a combination of pastoral lecture and harsh rebuke, with a sizable dollop of climate science and sideways economics tossed in. As I wrestle with what I consider to be hyperbolic descriptions of the “immense pile of filth” and “constant schizophrenia” I have to admit the real dangers of a throwaway culture that relies on

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Don Rags

A few weeks ago, I moved my second daughter into her college dorm.  She decided to attend a school on the west coast, a school she had wanted to attend since middle school.  I too had wanted to attend this same school since middle school, so it was an exciting trip for both of us. As part of the freshman orientation process, parents were required to attend an orientation.  We were given the history of the school, a full tour, rules and expectations of the students, and some insight into what the students would experience, among other things. One practice

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Charity Is Hard

“You don’t serve God by saying: the Church is ineffective, I’ll have none of it. Your pain at its lack of effectiveness is a sign of your nearness to God. We overcome this lack of effectiveness simply by suffering on account of it. To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness. Charity is hard and endures. I don’t want to discourage you from reading St. Thomas but don’t read him with the notion that he is going to clear anything up for you. That is done by

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The Case of the Missing “Sacred Givens”

A couple months back I waded through a theology professor’s detailed analysis of Cardinal Kasper’s intellectual foundations, upon which his troubling views on church doctine are founded. This week, George Weigel posted a much clearer and briefer summary of his understanding of Prof. Stark and Cardinal Kasper on First Things. Weigel says that by absolutizing history, Cardinal Kasper minimizes or does away with the “sacred givens” of God’s revelation. It’s a short read, and much clearer and easier to track than my earlier post — and as always, the First Things comments are interesting, as well — although many focus on Humana Vitae

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Enjoying God’s Majesty

This past week I had the pleasure of spending family vacation in the Colorado Rockies.  My family thoroughly enjoys visiting there – we have probably taken six vacations to the same small town west of Denver.  None of us are avid outdoors people, so when we are there we relax, take the occasional hike and just spend time together.  I am drawn there for a number of reasons: the slow pace; the quiet settings; the disconnecting of electronic devices; but foremost for taking in God’s awe-inspiring creation. Like Timshel, I have taken a number of silent retreats, where one becomes

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Words Have Meaning

A little while back I ran across this short, clear summary of the reality of gender and gender norms by Theology of the Body scholar and popularizer Christoper West, entitled “A De-Gendered Society Is Bound to De-Generate.” Three things struck me about this piece. First, it explains what’s wrong with idea of gender fluidity, for the lay person, pretty clearly,  in about 600 words. Second, it boggles the mind by introducing a new chart of gender symbols (click to see it full-scale) and explaining, essentially, that Facebook now offers 50 options or so for gender, plus a fill-in-the-blank if you can’t “find yourself”

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It’s Creepy For A Reason

Let me start with a caveat – I probably shouldn’t publish this because it has the potential to be taken wrongly, but I never did have a lick of sense.  Our daughter called us yesterday from Lake Calhoun, where she had gone to take a walk.  Now I haven’t been to Calhoun for five years or more, but having spent a fair amount of time over the years around Uptown generally, and Lake Calhoun in particular, it was always clear that there is a relatively high concentration of, well, folks who don’t hold with nature’s design for sexuality.  In fact,

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Still Time to Write Good Things On the Sky

During a long road trip this past week, I had the opportunity to listen to an audiobook version of The Wise Men Know What Wicked Things Are Written on the Sky, a volume of eleven lectures by Russell Kirk, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and given delivered in the 1980s. The theme of the lectures was whether, on the heels of President Reagan’s election, our country was conceivably at the beginning of an “augustan age” which would see us reclaim the ideals and virtues of our forefathers and our sense of mission in this world. These lectures were a followup to an earlier series

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Apocalyptic and Utopian

To believe it impossible for the Pope to speak infallibly, under the right circumstances, is a great error.  Yet I think an even greater error lies in granting the Pope infallibly in all circumstances.  To preserve the correct understanding of a concept, over- or misapplication must be avoided.  Inferred perpetual papal infallibility is a danger that stalks the most devout. Fr. James Schall is my favorite author of essays.  I am a fan of his style and clear and organized thought.  Fr. Schall is also a member of the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit.  On July 24, 2015, he wrote a piece that I highly

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A Review of ‘The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels’ by Alex Epstein

“There exists a certain reciprocity: as we care for creation, we realize that God, through creation, cares for us. On the other hand, a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church’s magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things. In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the “dignity” of all

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