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Society and culture

Pro "gay marriage" and pro-life?

Another correspondent asks whether I think it’s possible to be pro-gay marriage and pro-life: whether logically, rationally, ultimately, the two positions can be reconciled. She had noticed some conservatives going that way.

It seemed to me you could give multiple answers depending on how you took the question:


How religious is natural law?

In the Crisis piece mentioned in the previous entry, I suggested the relationship between the two was ambiguous. A blogger who wants to maintain a strong distinction between natural law and religion called me on it, so I had to develop my thoughts a little.


Religion, liberalism, and worldly success

My latest column is now up at Catholic World Report. Basically it presents a standard cyclical view of one aspect of history: a society with a good religion will become successful, which makes the religion lose its hold, which means the society will stop being successful.


The radical meaning of "gay marriage"

That’s the title of my most recent piece at Crisis Magazine. It discusses recent developments in connection with the trend toward a single universal regime of contract and regulation in which no point has privileged independence.


Smartening up

Needed: more pith and vinegar

I’ve a piece calling for a return of the right wing aphorism up at Crisis Magazine.


Tolerance that swallows itself

My review of The Intolerance of Tolerance, a book by reformed theologian D. A. Carson, is available at The University Bookman.


The triumph of stupidity

I’ve a new piece up at Crisis Magazine on that alarming topic.


Beauty, saving the world, and similar topics

I have a short piece up at Solidarity Hall, a site that seems fairly new. It’s a comment on a much longer piece by Mark Signorelli, his review of the book Beauty Will Save the World by Gregory Wolfe.


How to remember 9/11?

The current issue of First Things has a piece by R. R. Reno that’s worth reading on The Failed 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center. The basic issue it raises is that it’s odd to have a large impressive memorial in a location that’s as prominent as the WTC, only to have the memorial dissolve the event commemorated into 3,000 private events of a kind (murder) that’s very traumatic but happens quite often every year in America.


Two films with food mysticism (spoiler alert!)

A blogger’s complaints about foodies put me in mind of a couple of award-winning and actually quite good movies I saw recently about food and drink as religion, Sideways and Babette’s Feast.


From living order to transcendence

I mentioned marriage as an example of the antiliberal implications of the new science of complex order developed by writers on architecture such as Christopher Alexander and Nikos Salingaros.

There are of course many other examples, because the new science goes to basics. It helps make sense of living systems, explains how their specific qualities are tied to their ability to function in the adaptive way they do, and insists on the severe disadvantages of simpler and seemingly more rational systems.


Figuring out our situation

I’ve been reading Nikos Salingaros’ Twelve Lectures on Architecture: Algorithmic Sustainable Design. It’s a somewhat expanded set of notes for a series of lectures he gave a couple of years ago on architecture and urbanism.


A Self-Contained World

[The following review appeared in the January 2011 issue of Chronicles.]

The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism, by Pascal Bruckner, translated by Steven Rendall. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 256 pp., $26.95


Whither knowledge and power?

A recent discussion with Bruce Charlton on knowledge, society, and the Eastern and Western Church provokes reflection.

It’s notorious that involvement in particular activities makes it hard to keep their connection to the whole in mind. Standard examples include making money, attention to the opposite sex, and attempts to control things generally. Hence the monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.


Pitch to a Gen-Y rightist

Over at Alternative Right I had a discussion with a participant who—like a lot of people who comment there—tended toward a sort of action-oriented tribal relativism. His basic thought seemed to be that social order doesn’t go very deep but comes out of crude drives plus choice, with this and that expedient added in to handle whatever particular problems come up.

Here’s the (not very successful) pitch I made, edited for concision and coherence:


The tyranny of pluralism

Here’s Hollywood’s take on the meaning of the Battle of the Bulge in 1949, four years after the shooting stopped:


PC: The Cultural Antichrist

Here’s a talk I gave yesterday at the annual conference of the H. L. Mencken Club.

The title of my talk is PC: The Cultural Antichrist.

It’s an odd title, but political correctness is an odd tendency. It’s a bit uncanny. It doesn’t fit in with how we normally think about things. That’s why we don’t know what to make of it. People try to laugh it off, but it doesn’t laugh off.


Islam and the sexes

A reader writes to complain about the tendency of many conservatives to adopt “Islam oppresses women” as a major reason for opposing Muslim assertiveness and expansion. Doesn’t that approach (he asks) play into a feminist analysis of society, and end by supporting feminist solutions generally? And as a factual matter, can it really be true that Muslim society is fundamentally a system whereby men oppress women? Doesn’t it have other more basic problems, and wouldn’t there be more give and take on that particular point?


More traddish chatter

Gornahoor, apparently an Integral Traditionalist site, had some complaints about my recent post on tradition (which I crossposted to Alternative Right).

I’m Catholic rather than Integral Traditionalist, so the complaints probably reflect a difference in point of view. Nonetheless, most of them can probably be allayed by an explanation of the point of the piece.



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