Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fr. Barron comments on why so many atheists are on the CNN Belief Blog

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOJjI5Yv5TU[/youtube]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

J. Budziszewski: A Primer on Natural Law

This is a nice interview of my friend, J. Budziszewski, Professor of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas. The gentleman interviewing J is Any Nash of Inside Academia. Here's an outline of the interview, as found on the YouTube page on which the video has been embedded:

1:30 -- What is Natural Law? (3 mins)
5:00 -- We're not at war with our nature when we reason (40 sec)
6:00 -- How discipline and virtue define character (1 min)
8:00 -- Challenges of a disordered moral culture (3 mins)
11:30 -- The false promise of the sexual revolution (2 mins)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNk45D5qVL0[/youtube]

Interracial Marriage and Same-Sex Marriage: Why the Analogy Fails

That is the name of an article I published last year on the website, Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the Common Good, an online publication of The Witherspoon Institute. Here's how it begins:
While doing research for an academic paper on the topic of same-sex marriage and political liberalism, I was struck by how many authors, including judges, draw an analogy between bans on interracial marriage and the present law in almost every state in the United States that recognizes marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

The court cases most frequently cited by these writers are Loving v. Virginia(1967), the U. S. Supreme Court case that declared interracial marriage bans unconstitutional, and Perez v. Sharp (1948), a California Supreme Court case that did the same in relation to its state constitution. Here’s how Massachusetts’ highest court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (2003) employsLoving and Perez in order to make the analogy between interracial marriage and same-sex marriage:

"In this case [Goodridge], as in Perez and Loving, a statute deprives individuals of access to an institution of fundamental legal, personal, and social significance—the institution of marriage—because of a single trait: skin color in Perez and Loving, sexual orientation here. As it did in Perez and Loving, history must yield to a more fully developed understanding of the invidious quality of the discrimination."

Although the focus of my paper is not this analogy, the ubiquitous use of it in the literature, including some very important court cases, piqued my curiosity. What I discovered astounded me.

>>>continue reading

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Lesson on Rhetoric from the "West Wing"

President Obama should hire Rob Lowe's character as a speech writer.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=716qbOv3a4M[/youtube]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jesus, Other Myths, and My Wife's Stained Glass

Go here to find an outstanding video of my friend and co-author Greg Koukl (Founder and President of Stand to Reason) answering the question, "Is the account of Jesus in the Bible just copying earlier mythical traditions with similar stories? Behind Greg you will notice a stained glass panel. It was created by my wife, Frankie. The panel is owned by Stand to Reason's Director of Operations, Melinda Penner. Here's a close-up photo of the panel:


If you want to see some of her other work, go here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Surprise: The Reformation Happened!

That's the title of my latest entry over at the Catholic Thing. Here's how it begins:
The Atlantic has discovered the Reformation, albeit nearly five centuries too late.

Writer Joshua Green reports that the denomination in which presidential candidate Michelle Bachman was a member, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), believes that Martin Luther was right about the Catholic papacy. Imagine that. Lutherans who believe ideas espoused by Luther. Shocking, isn’t it? Perhaps next week the Atlantic will inform its readers that the pope is Catholic, that Methodists are enamored by John Wesley, or that the Great Schism put a damper on Catholic-Orthodox relations.

The headline of Green’s article is “Michele Bachmann's Church Says the Pope Is the Antichrist,” though Bachmann and her family had stopped attending that Lutheran church two years ago. Green, it seems, has a problem in understanding the simplest nuances of church membership, how they differ widely between denominations, and that one can stay on the membership rolls of one church while attending another church for years.

So unsurprisingly, he writes that Martin Luther, “broke with the Catholic Church,” when in fact he was excommunicated by Pope Leo X. (Luther was, to employ a popular neologism, unfriended). Thus, by Green’s own logic, if he were employed by the Atlantic in 1521, he could have written this headline, “Martin Luther’s Church Says Martin Luther Not Member of Martin Luther’s Church.”

>>>Continue reading

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Aristotle, Ethics and God

My Baylor colleague, Trent Dougherty, has posted a brief entry at The Prosoblogion, "Ethics without God, Aristotle style." His post, as well as some of the comments, reminded me of an exchange at First Things I had four years ago with Villanova law professor, Robert T. Miller:

Robert Miller is a scholar for whom I have tremendous respect. So, for him to think my work worthy of rebuttal was truly an honor.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Statecraft, Soulcraft, and the Politics of Envy

    That's the title of my latest entry over at The Catholic Thing.  Here's how it begins:
    Suppose a politician suggests that increasing the sales tax on yachts and private jets from 8 percent to 25 percent will increase government revenues that will onlyaffect the wealthy (who can afford it). So with this increased revenue the government may provide financial assistance to other citizens, including college students, the poor, and public employees. Imagine that this policy is implemented but the politican’s prediction does not come to pass.

    What happens is that the demand for luxury items decreases (since some of the “rich” are not “filthy rich”), the prices for these items are lowered in order to increase the demand, and the luxury item manufacturers, distributors and retailers fire a large number of their workers since their employers can no longer afford their salaries. Moreover, those that benefited directly and indirectly from the sale and use of luxury items were harmed as well.

    For the tax increase resulted in decreasing sales of fuel, life vests, parachutes, cleaning articles, alcohol, first aid kits, bait and tackle, and all sorts of other items. Yacht and private jet mechanics had less work, and thus less business and thus less income. So, what the tax increase did was not “soak the rich,” but, paradoxically, it resulted in less tax revenue for the government, since it helped facilitate a decline in sales by artificially increasing the cost of the items, and because it created unemployed workers who no longer paid taxes and less prosperous businesses that paid fewer taxes.

    I bring this narrative to your attention because of something President Obama asserted at his June 30 conference: “If we do not have revenues, that means there are a bunch of kids out there who do not have college scholarships. . . .[It] might compromise the National Weather Services. It means we might not be funding critical medical research. It means food inspection might be compromised. I’ve said to Republican leaders, ‘You go talk to your constituents and ask them, Are you willing to compromise your kids’ safety so some corporate-jet owner can get a tax break?’”

    Continue reading>>>

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    "Journeys of Faith: Evangelicalism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Anglicanism"

    That it is the title of the forthcoming book of which I am one of the four main authors. I present an account of my return to Catholicism (touching on several issues not touched on in my 2009 book, Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic). My chapter is followed by a response by Gregg R. Allison of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I then in turn reply to Allison in a small chapter. The other three authors each provide accounts of their pilgrimages from one Christian tradition to another: Chris Castaldo (Evangelicaism), Lyle Dorsett (Anglicanism), and Wilbur Ellsworth (Eastern Orthodoxy). And just like my contribution, each of the others is followed by a respondent to which he too replies. The respondents for Castaldo, Dorsett, and Ellsworth are respectively Brad Gregory of the University of Notre Dame, Robert Peterson of Covenant Seminary, and Craig Blaising of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Slated for release in January 2012, the publisher, Zondervan, has just published the following about the book on its website:
    Journeys of Faith tours the theological migrations taking place within the Christian tradition today. Converts to Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Evangelicalism and Anglicanism explain why they changed their religious affiliation, and responders defend their decision to remain true to the traditions in which they first came to faith.

    Description:
    Research indicates that on average, Americans change their religious affiliation at least once during their lives. Today, a number of evangelical Christians are converting to Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. Longtime Evangelicals often fail to understand the attraction of these non-Evangelical Christian traditions.

    Journeys of Faith examines the movement between these traditions from various angles. Four prominent converts to Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Evangelicalism and Anglicanism describe their new faith traditions and their spiritual journeys into them. Response chapters offer respectful critiques.

    Contributors include Wilbur Ellsworth (Eastern Orthodoxy), with a response by Craig Blaising; Francis J. Beckwith (Roman Catholicism), with Gregg Allison responding; Chris Castaldo (Evangelicalism) and Brad Gregory’s Catholic response; and Lyle Dorsett (Anglicanism), with a response by Greg Thorbury.

    This book will provide readers with first-hand accounts of thoughtful Christians changing religious affiliation or remaining true to the traditions they have always known. Pastors, counselors and students of theology will gain a wealth of insight into current faith migration within the church today.