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Is Christianity for wimps?

[Inspired by the upcoming debate on the topic.]

My answer, of course, is “no.” It’s obvious if you compare trends in wimpiness and trends in religious belief that the decline of Christianity has turned people into wimps. Nietzsche is big among left-wing academics. Wimpiness is big among left-wing academics. It’s wimps who have superman fantasies. People, you should connect the dots!

A wimp is someone who can’t stand his ground because he thinks he’s nothing and has nowhere to stand. You won’t be a wimp if you know what you are and what you have to do. That means that a Christian can’t be a wimp, not without abandoning Christianity.

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Thoughts on suffering

We were having dinner with friends last night, and got on the topic of suffering. I made some comments and the more disjointed they sounded the more I wanted to make additional comments. All of which suggested some thoughts:

  1. Talking about suffering is like talking about God. Anything you say is going to be inadequate and is probably going to miss the point. The more someone blathers the less he probably knows.
  2. That’s not an accident. Both are too real to deal with. They disrupt comfortable patterns of life. We mostly say things about them because we want to make them manageable but the point is that they’re not manageable.
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Ignatian interview

There’s a longish interview with me at Ignatius Insight, the website of Ignatius Press.

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Smiting the Philistines

I just finished reading Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism. In spite of its title, the book is less a discussion of the “New Atheism” (Dawkins, Dennett, et. al.) than a wonderfully clear overview of Thomism.

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Through the looking glass

Commenter Alice, with whom I’ve had a couple of exchanges at her husband’s weblog, carries her battle into the opposition’s territory. The pile of arguments is getting unmanageably high, so I’ll set up my response as a new entry:

Dear Alice,

I agree that not all ways of viewing the world are equal. Some are more rational than others. Some are more adequate than others. The problem is to combine rationality and adequacy.

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The ship of state is never in neutral for long

According to George Weigel, the big issue in the fuss over the Society of Saint Pius X (the traditionalist group whose bishops just got de-excommunicated) is religious freedom: whether “coercive state power ought … be put behind the truth-claims of the Catholic Church or any other religious body.”

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Life of a Pope-to-be

From discussing America I decided to move on to Rome, or at least to Bavaria and the threshold of Rome. With that in mind, I just read Milestones, then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1998 memoir of his life until he became a bishop.
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More on faith and reason

A blogger offers comments on my talk on Reason and the Future of Conservatism, concluding that the talk opposes faith to reason and comes out on the side of faith.

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Training the church of the future

I’ve been talking about America and Catholicism, so why not put the two together? With that in mind, I decided to look at Michael Rose’s Goodbye! Good Men: How Catholic Seminaries Turned Away Two Generations of Vocations From the Priesthood.

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Is "the secular" so clear?

The contributors to the weblog Secular Right: Reality & Reason have put together a sort of credo, What is the Secular Right? Here it is:

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Hitting the books

To follow up on recent discussions of America and Americanism I’ve been reading a couple of books: Tom Woods’ The Church Confronts Modernity: Catholic Intellectuals and the Progressive Era and T. J. Jackson Lears’ No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 . Both are well-written, well-informed, and well worth a look.

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American propositions

I was looking at We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (1960) by John Courtney Murray. For those who don’t know much about him, Murray was a Catholic priest and theologian who

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What is religion?

I have another piece over at Takimag, this one a rant responding to a couple of posts over there about religion. I suppose it also responds to the interest among Takimag types in Nietzsche and H. L. Mencken.

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Christmas 2008


Corregio Madonna


Merry Christmas!
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More awakening

I expanded the lecture I gave last summer at Gardone into a series of three essays that can be found in the October, November, and December issues of The Angelus. You can also read a Google docs version of the series as a single document.

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Essentialism and nominalism as applied to Islam

There’s a tendency today to criticize “essentialism,” the idea that something like Islam has an enduring character such that (for example) you aren’t going to see a moderate liberal Islam become the predominant form of the religion.

I’m inclined toward a moderate essentialism. It seems to me that at bottom the opposing nominalist view is the view that social managers can turn people and their beliefs into anything they want, so I don’t like nominalism (in addition to believing that it’s in fact false).

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Catholicism and public order

Another part of the appeal of Catholicism today (apart from its truth) is a sort of this-wordly extra ecclesiam nulla salus: outside the Church there’s no satisfaction now and no hope for the future.

The problem can be stated briefly: the West now stands publicly for secular liberalism. The latter has reached a philosophical, moral and social dead end that manifests itself in things as diverse as the state of popular and high culture, the collapse of the birth rate, and the devolution of Europe into the EU. Our official teachers, the writers, scholars, statesmen, educators and mainstream religious leaders of the West, can tell us only to respect “diversity” and “tolerance”: do what you want, but stay away from each other’s throats. Young people have nothing to look forward to but insecurity or the treadmill of career and consumption, mitigated by the sentimental hope for love and the more solid availability of various dissipations. Meanwhile, Western civilization has become world civilization, and emptied of humanly sustaining goods propagates itself everywhere through global markets, electronic communications, and the whole apparatus of international politics and law. The secular totalitarian ideologies that once resisted it have effectively disappeared, leaving local tyranny, corrupt nationalism, and totalitarian Islam as the remaining principles of opposition.

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Awakening from reason's sleep

Here is the text (plus or minus a few ad libs) of a lecture delivered at the Roman Forum conference in Gardone, Italy, on July 3, 2008.

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What does it mean to speak of God?

You might as well ask what it means to speak of any other basic reality. What does it mean to speak of time, space, number, particularity, universality, good, evil, or other minds? We use such concepts, and accept and comment on the things they denote, but explanations of exactly what they are never completely satisfy.

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The architecture of hell

The satanic is rebellion against God. In more abstract and secular terms, it is rebellion against all order that is not a matter of unconstrained human choice. Either way, contemporary intellectual culture often tends toward the satanic. Extreme idealization of human autonomy makes willfulness, transgression, and subversion seem like virtues. They destroy traditional standards, which are felt as shackles, and emancipation is thought the highest human good.

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