Archives for posts with tag: First Things

I have committed to reading through Augustine’s City of God this year with the Facebook group doing so. Not much reading per day, but weighty. It is fascinating to read and think how little changed his writing might be if he were writing specifically for us today.

I try to keep up with WattsUpWithThat, and with FirstThings blogs. Lots of material all of it worth reading much of it worth thorough contemplation. I read AmericanThinker a lot as well.

Of course, I spend too much time reading Facebook, but that is more of a fun thing to do.

Plenty of other information to read as well, news, politics, science, various distractions. I seem to read a lot. I have a hard time keeping up with some of it. Oh well. Perhaps I will gain efficiency soon.

At First Things, R.R. Reno writes about inequalities becoming more prominent as a topic in the coming year, particularly in the US.

“Taken broadly, equality is incoherent as a measure of social justice. Equal with respect to what? Religious people have a more mature vocabulary. Social justice involves respect for the dignity of the person, subsidiarity, and solidarity.

“We can use these concepts to transform current anxieties about inequality into more focused and fruitful reflection. Globalized economies dominated by mega-bureaucratic states inadequately protect human dignity. They discourage self-governance (subsidiarity) and fail to sustain a robust sense of solidarity. These lines of analysis should be the focus of our efforts, not defending capitalism or free markets.” 

At First Things blog, R. R. Reno writes about the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation.

Insightful, with some good comments from readers.

My takeaway is to try to change the world by starting with small improvements in myself and my actions toward others.


Worth noting:

Art in the Mantle of Science
Tuesday, November 26, 2013, 10:38 AM

Where Ms. Mullarkey points out that art has abandoned all traditional definitions, so it now scratches around to try to justify itself, and in our time, science is the authority, or so it is perceived

A nice quote:

“You can read artist Andy Thomson’s tractlet on “The Contingency of Gravity” here. Take care to grind through the hash of physics and metaphysics to the final line: “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change them.”

Keep the theory; just flip the facts. At heart, it is a totalitarian formulation that corresponds, with demonic ease, to our present political culture, one that has been metastasizing for decades. The substitution of rhetoric for fact and logic—sound over sense—endangers us far more than uncomely art.

It takes heavy doses of higher education to master a lingo engineered to upend the purpose of language by mystifying rather than illuminating. WeakForce is only a single day’s illustration of the lingua franca transmitted through university art departments to the culture at large. It keeps coming, a relentless reminder of Hobbes’ blunt observation that the universities “have been to this nation as the wooden horse to the Trojans.” “

Over at First Things blog, I find this particularly interesting:

The Evolution of Conscience in the Western World
November 15, 2013
Howard P. Kainz

Mr. Kainz points out how our collective conscience has improved radically over the last few centuries, and significantly before that. He attributes this growth to Christian concepts and teachings. I agree. There is some more to it, but I think Jesus and our meager attempts to follow Him are key.

Comments are insightful too.

I am confident that our laws and society will grant the unborn due process soon enough. I doubt abortion will be totally outlawed, but I suspect the unborn will be granted personhood, perhaps even citizenship, and accorded due process. That, in my opinion, will be good. It won’t end abortion. Just as universal outlawing of slavery has not ended human trafficking. The world is a better place with slavery universally acknowledged, at least officially, to be evil. Likewise abortion. Thankfully, genocide even more so. Still, it has not been long since the last effort at it.

The heart and nature of man is what is at the root, and only the change accorded by true faith and commitment to the divine, and to truth, in the absolute and ultimate sense, can ever actually make our world a better place. I’m not sure there is a hope for it from a natural and historic perspective. I’m rather confident only God can bring it about.

First Things blog published this:

Group Lie
Monday, November 4, 2013, 10:15 PM

Mr. Scott asks if it is now the standard mode of the Democratic Party to lie and condone lying. I ask too.

If you lean liberal, in the progressive sense, or are simply a registered Democrat, do you condone lying?

This strikes at the heart of my being. Truth first!

When Bush “lied” about Iraq’s WMDs, the whole world was agreeing. While the facts were proven errant, there was ample evidence found to show why everyone thought otherwise. It wasn’t a lie so much as an illusion, even intentional deceptions on the part of Iraqis. Our current President simply operates in narrative mode, fact free. There is never a consideration for truth and facts from the current administration. Never.

The current administration from top to bottom sticks to the narrative no matter what. Enough people will follow, they seem to believe, to keep things moving in the intended direction. So far, the strategy seems to be working for them. They are playing us for fools, and we continue in shame. (Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Shame on all of us.)

Elizabeth Scalia has written an insightful article at First Things,

She makes the point that we must, as adults with offspring, act as grownups and live for our children. Of course, we are all ill-equipped for this when we begin. Nearly all of us manage if we try. Some become quite good at it.

“A parent becomes [a parent] within the act of learning to be a family-unit, amid the constantly changing dynamics of individuals advancing through life-stages together. One could argue that as parents raise the children, the children, quite paradoxically, raise the parents. When parents resist being raised, families break down and collapse.”

We learn while we do, and one of the most important things we must know from the very beginning is that we are each individuals. We each are that special one. From the beginning, we are in a relationship with our child. Mothers have a relationship distinct from fathers. Mother knows the child from conception. Mother is affected by the child directly from the beginning and much more than Father.

Read the rest of this entry »

R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, provides his insights into the Pope’s recent interview here:

He provides an honest look at what I see as an honest interview. There are good comments from readers as well. Read the rest of this entry »


“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” G.K. Chesterton.

 writing at First Things,, recalls insights from William Alexander Percy.

Quoting Gene Fant, “Percy notes the all-too-rampant detachment of morality from theology by relating a conversation he had with a pastor. He asked the pastor why so many prominent church members were rogues and scoundrels. The pastor replied, “They have been born again. When they are born again, they are certain of salvation, and when you are certain of salvation you may do what you like. . . . The ethics of Jesus do not interest them when their rebirth guarantees them salvation.” Percy then amplifies this by calling this sort of religion “an emotional experience . . . not related to morals.”

Fant continues and quotes Percy thus:

“I think of what is being offered to our young people in their need by the churches and my heart is filled with anger and sorrow. . . . .  Where lies the virtue in attempting to persuade honest young minds to entertain such outworn rubbish? And what have such tenets to do with religion? How nearly impossible the churches have made it for such minds, earnestly seeking the truth, to join a church or even to remain religious! Not science but the Christian sects are causing the death of religion [emphasis mine]. The pitiful part of it is that it is as true now as it ever was that without faith the people perish, and they are perishing before our eyes. As object of faith Hitler has offered Race, Stalin the State, American Success, which is Mammon.”

Our faith is more than words. Our ideas must be thorough. I find Calvinistic views to be not only devilish, but shallow–not thought through.


It seems to me that history goes in cycles. It seems to me we are on the down cycle of culture, and historically such end with the gods of copybook headings returning with terror and slaughter. After much loss, pain, destruction, death, and turmoil, people return to their moral roots, God, and rebuild. Things have tended to get both better and worse with each cycle. Perhaps the next up cycle will be far better than this last one has been. I’d wonder beyond that, but we are probably looking at decades before this downward trend bottoms out. The general forecast for population is to increase for several more decades, and level off between 9 and 10 billion. If things go as they seem to be trending, the excursion downward might drop population back below half that before it starts up again.

So, I figure we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to try.

This article at First Things (a Catholic publication) suggests we are behind the power curve, but there are things we can still do.

Article | First Things.

Consider the article, and let’s resolve to try.

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