Five Maxims Against Modern Madness

Five Maxims Against Modern Madness

As far back as the nineteenth-century, W. B. Yeats observed, “the center does not hold.” The forces of secularism and industrial capitalism combined with the backlash of Marxism — economic and cultural — have destroyed the unity and cohesion of modern culture. Modern man is cut off from reality by false and confusing ideas, and oppressed by organized opposition to right reason and revealed truth. Against this madness, the healthy mind needs to be armed

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Is Christianity Unscientific?

Is Christianity Unscientific?

Is Christian faith unscientific? Well, it’s complicated. In a previous post, I discussed the way in which skeptics will sometimes employ “science” to discredit the resurrection of Jesus, and I explained that what was really at stake is not so much science, but unspoken philosophical assumptions. And in the philosophical arena, Christians have nothing to fear. In a certain sense, of course Christianity is “unscientific.” Historical Christians have believed that the one God, who exists

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Reason and the Resurrection?

Reason and the Resurrection?

Only the “unsophisticates” and “children” believe in the resurrection of Jesus — at least that is the view of Richard Dawkins, the world’s best known proponent of atheism. (See below) And Dawkins is hardly alone. Many have come to see the resurrection of Jesus as obviously unscientific — an article of superstition and embarrassment. Some Christians in order to avoid the shame of feeling intellectually inferior will hide behind the claim that the resurrection was

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He is Risen! And It’s Not a Metaphor

He is Risen! And It’s Not a Metaphor

“He is risen!”  This Easter proclamation encapsulates the basis of faith in Jesus Christ.  It’s a sine qua non of the Christian faith.  Without the resurrection of Christ, there’s no Christianity. St. Paul puts it like this: “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).  The word we translate here as “vain” is κενόν (kenon), which means something like “empty,” “devoid of content” or

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Judas, Peter, and Me

Judas, Peter, and Me

In the Gospels, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ, is depicted as a man generally disposed to underhanded activity.  Though he was entrusted with the treasury by which Christ’s earthly mission had been funded, it’s said that he stole from it for his own purposes (John 12:6). It was Judas, as well, who disparaged the thought of emptying an expensive bottle of perfumed oil over Jesus’ feet.  The bottle could have been sold and the money

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On Lent and Being Human: Penance, Fasting, and Abstinence

On Lent and Being Human: Penance, Fasting, and Abstinence

Lent is a penitential season, and among the features of a penitential season in the Judeo-Christian tradition are fasting and abstinence.  Fasting, of course, involves forgoing food.  Abstinence involves forgoing comforts of the body.  Think of fasting as giving up what we strictly need at a bodily level and abstinence as giving up those bodily goods that we can live without, but which make life a lot more enjoyable. Most Roman Catholics think of abstinence

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The Real Meaning of Happiness: Excellence, Character, and Rectitude

The Real Meaning of Happiness: Excellence, Character, and Rectitude

In a previous post I outlined the errors of what many take to be happiness, namely, creating certain feelings of contentment or satisfaction. I defined this approach as the results-based approach and pointed out that it fails to distinguish between good and bad feelings of satisfaction. In addition, it sets us up on an endless cycle of creating desired emotional outcomes. Feelings change and fade, so it follows that anyone following the sentimental-outcomes strategy will

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Purgatory as Surrender

Purgatory as Surrender

Once, when I was teaching moral theology, a student who wasn’t Catholic asked me about purgatory.  I explained that, in this life, we retain numerous attachments to earthy goods and concerns, selfish wants, resentments, prideful aspirations that have little to do with our relationship with God.  We dread the approach of death because there’s too much in this world we aren’t prepared to leave behind if that’s what going to heaven requires.  It’s not that

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HAPPINESS IS PROBABLY NOT WHAT YOU THINK: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS

HAPPINESS IS PROBABLY NOT WHAT YOU THINK: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS

It is safe to say that modern men and women are obsessed with happiness. Of course this is hardly a unique situation. Every generation and community is concerned with happiness in one way or another, although it is important to remember that not every culture has defined happiness in the same way; not ever culture defines happiness in terms of wealth and satisfaction. Indeed, the great philosopher Aristotle had much to say on the matter.

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Purgatory as Judgment

Purgatory as Judgment

We often imagine that purgatory is a sentence we serve before our admittance into heaven.  But what if purgatory doesn’t follow judgment?  What if purgatory is judgment, subjectively experienced by us? This is precisely the view articulated by St. Catherine of Genoa (d. 1510).  For her, purgatory isn’t an immersion in corporal fire but a metaphorical, spiritual fire.  Our inordinate attachments to lesser goods, or to false goods, which distract us from God are impurities

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