Friday, December 20, 2013

Neuhaus' Law and Beckwith's Law

"Beckwith's Law" is the title of  the latest column I published over at The Catholic Thing. It concerns what I have dubbed, unsurprisingly,  "Beckwith's Law":
Whenever a practitioner of a traditional vice appeals to the right of privacy as the justification for the state to leave him alone to engage in that vice, he will inevitably demand that the state require that those who morally disapprove of his practice cooperate with it, either materially or formally.

My column begins this way:
The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, founder of First Things (the journal, not the book), coined the following maxim, which he appropriately called Neuhaus’ Law: “Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.”

According to Fr. Neuhaus, in theology, orthodoxy entails that there are right and wrong beliefs, that some beliefs fall outside or inside what is permissible within a theological tradition. So within Catholicism, on the matter of divine providence

and human freedom, one can embrace Molinism or Thomism, but not Open Theism.  Catholic theology allows a variety of options on many theological issues, but those options must remain within the confines of Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

[caption id="attachment_3133" align="alignright" width="367"] John Finnis, Fr. Neuhaus, yours truly, & Jeffrey Stout at Princeton in 2003. We were part of panel discussion at a conference on religion and secularism[/caption]

If the requirement to embrace orthodoxy becomes optional, however, it follows that it is wrong for a church to require that its members believe that there are right and wrong beliefs. Consequently, “when orthodoxy is optional,” as Fr. Neuhaus put it, “it is admitted under a rule of liberal tolerance that cannot help but be intolerant of talk about right and wrong, true and false.”

For this reason, a new “orthodoxy” will arise, one that entails that it is in fact wrong for a church to act as if there are right and wrong theological beliefs. Thus, the cleric who suggests an ecclesiastical trial to prosecute an alleged heretic will be marginalized and punished by his superiors for his suggestion.

You can read the rest here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Obamacare Death Spiral Blog

Called the "ACA Death Spiral blog," I just came across it via the Faculty Lounge blog. It is run by Seth Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center. It seems like a real good resource to understand some of the complicated issues that are arising as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act. Here's how Professor Chandler introduced his blog in his first post (13 November 2013):
This blog is going to chronicle what I believe will be the implosion of the Affordable Care Act.  I do not believe the Exchange based system of providing health insurance without medical underwriting is likely to work or that, if it does, it will not need far more massive propping up from federal taxes than is conventionally recognized. We’ll be looking at current events, the history of the Act, important court cases, and regulatory developments. Our tools will be a careful review of primary documents, some graphical and mathematical analyses, and references to important and insightful articles written by others.

Also, there is more to the Affordable Care Act than the Exchanges.  There is more than the individual mandate. There is the employer mandate, the complex systems of federal reinsurance needed to backstop the Act, the reintroduction of medical underwriting under the “wellness label” and so much more.  We’ll try as time permits to take a look at developments in these important areas too.

I recognize that many are writing on this topic and that it will be hard to stay a pace of such a fast moving target.  But I do feel that there is a need for some hard and at least somewhat scientific look at what is going on.  It will be my goal and burden to try to provide that in the months ahead.

Oh, and who am I?  I’m Seth Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center.  I’ve taught insurance law, including life and health insurance law, for many years, been a co-director of the Health Law & Policy Institute, and done considerable work on the economics of insurance and its regulation.  I’ve been very active using Mathematica, a system for doing mathematics by computer, and have shown how this tool can be used to analyze legal systems and many issues in insurance law such as adverse selection, moral hazard, correlated risk and a variety of issues in life, health, property and casualty insurance.

I should also add that the views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Houston.

The blog can be found here.

 

My new article in Ratio Juris: "Justificatory Liberalism and Same-Sex Marriage"

Earlier this week I was informed that my article, "Justificatory Liberalism and Same-Sex Marriage," has just been published in the journal Ratio Juris: An International Journal of Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law 26.4 (December 2013): 487-509. Here is the abstract of the article:
Supporters of Justificatory Liberalism (JL)—such as John Rawls and Gerard Gaus—typically maintain that the state may not coerce its citizens on matters of constitutional essentials unless it can provide public justification that the coerced citizens would be irrational in rejecting. The state, in other words, may not coerce citizens whose rejection of the coercion is based on their reasonable comprehensive doctrines (i.e., worldviews). Proponents of the legal recognition of same-sex marriage (SSM) usually offer some version of JL as the most fundmental reason why laws that recognize marriage only if it is a union between one man and one woman are unjust. In this article I argue that the application of JL in support of legal recognition of SSM does not succeed because the issue under scrutiny—the nature of marriage—is deeply embedded in, and in most cases integral to, many (if not most) citizens’ reasonable comprehensive doctrines. Thus, I argue that because of the effects and consequences of the legal recognition of SSM, it results (or will result) in a violation of JL against dissenting citizens.

The article is accessible online here, though you will need a subscription to read it. If you are a university student or faculty member your institution's library may have a subscription. (The Ratio Juris issue in which my article appears also includes an "In Memoriam" in honor of the late Ronald Dworkin, who for years served on the journal's editorial board).

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 9 - My Late Grandmother's 100th Birthday

Tomorrow, November 9, would have been the 100th birthday of my maternal grandmother, Frances Guido, who died in 2002. (To the right is a picture of her in the 1930s when she served as her niece's sponsor for Confirmation. Below is a picture of my Grandmother and my sister, Lizzie, from the early 1980s, standing on the stoop of my Grandma's Brooklyn home). In Return to Rome, I write about my Grandmother and the years I lived with her (1984-1987) while I was studying for my PhD at Fordham University. Here is an excerpt from that portion of the book:
So in late August 1984 I moved to New York City to attend Fordham, located in the Bronx. I lived in the Cypress Hills section of Brooklyn with my maternal grandmother, Frances Guido, an Italian-American and devout Catholic whose parents emigrated from Sicily at the turn of the century. Born in 1913 (d. 2002), my grandmother was an amazing woman. She lost her husband (my grandfather) to stomach cancer in 1952. Widowed at the age of thirty-eight, she worked as a seamstress and provided each of her four children with twelve years of Catholic-school education.

I once asked my grandmother why she never remarried. Her answer initially seemed stunning to me, though, given her beliefs and convictions, it made perfect sense. She said, “How can I bring a strange man into a home with two young daughters?” What an amazing (and politically incorrect) answer. Her first thought was not of herself and what she should have wanted. It was about what advanced the common good, and in this case, the good of her family and her young children. What my grandmother’s understanding manifested was the incarnational faith of which Jesus spoke when he told his disciples that “whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)

Living with my grandmother was an incredible experience. She exhibited the love of Christ in everything she did, even when she was angry with me for having a messy bedroom. One time, for instance, while cleaning the house, she said, “You know, Lincoln freed the slaves.” I answered, “But not the Italian ones,” at which she laughed and said that just because I was funny didn’t mean she wasn’t mad.


My grandmother’s charity seemed boundless. For example, in 1974, while my younger brother James and I were spending a month of that summer at my grandmother’s apartment in Brooklyn, our mother called and told us that one of my eighth grade classmates was in a hospital in Manhattan receiving treatment for a cancerous tumor that was found in his upper leg. We had tickets to a New York Mets game for the next day. My grandmother suggested that after the game we go visit him in the hospital and bring a baseball to him as a gift. So, we did. During the visit my grandmother met his mother, Louise. They quickly became friends. Within weeks my grandmother had convinced Louise that she should stay at my grandmother’s apartment whenever her son had to be in New York for treatments. For the next several years, my grandmother opened her home and her heart to my classmate’s family as they suffered through his cancer and his death, as well as those of his father and two sisters. My grandmother, who had been widowed in 1952, knew the heartache of an untimely death and the trials that accompany it. Her compassion, her willingness to “suffer with” others, truly revealed the spirit of Christ that worked in her heart. I must confess, however, that it is only in retrospect that I have come to appreciate how her example left an indelible mark on so many of those with whom she came in contact, including me, her eldest grandchild.

She went to Mass every morning and was involved with many works of mercy at her parish. Whenever there was sickness, death, or heartache among her friends or family, she was there, prepared to cook, clean, say the rosary, or just listen. We were always hosting dinners or lunches with family and friends, or else traveling via subway, bus, or automobile to visit aunts, uncles, cousins, or other relatives whose genetic connection to me I’m still not sure about.

My grandmother kept her mind alert by reading, doing crossword puzzles every night, and arguing with me about politics. She was a Franklin Roosevelt Democrat,and I was a Ronald Reagan Republican. Our bantering was always friendly, but mischievous. Whenever there was a negative story in the newspaper or on television, no matter how distant or obscure, for which she could blame President Reagan, she made sure I knew about it. On the November night that President Reagan was re-elected in 1984, with a 49-state landslide, my grandma graciously conceded defeat and congratulated Reagan for his triumph, though she did go on to say that Reagan was a better actor than a president and he wasn’t even a good actor. I respectfully did not take the bait.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

C. S. Lewis 50th Memorial Conference Week at Baylor: Nov. 18, 22-23



This is the very first conference sponsored by Baylor's Program in Philosophical Studies of Religion (PPSR), a newly formed academic unit in Baylor's Institute for Studies in Religion. My esteemed colleague, Trent Dougherty, and I serve as PPSR's co-directors.

Here's the conference itinerary from its web page:
C.S. Lewis may be best known for his literary works, The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mere Christianity but the Irish-Born philosopher, English professor and prolific writer, held a deep and powerful belief in God that permeated his life’s work.

Join noted scholars and researchers as they discuss aspects of Lewis’ work that reflect the many seasons of his life and bring light to the soul at the center of his work.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18: Alexander Reading Room


3- 5:30 pm (reception to follow)
Dr. Stephen Evans (University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University):
On Lewis’ Moral Argument for God’s Existence  – This event will be followed by a reception

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22: Alexander Reading Room


7 – 8:30 pm (reception to follow)
Panel Discussion between Erik Wielenberg (Associate Professor of Philosophy, DePauw University)
 and Trent Dougherty (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University): On Wielenberg’s book God and the Reach of Reason: C.S. Lewis, David Hume, and Bertrand Russell

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23: 5th Floor, Cashion Academic Center


9:30am Gather (on 5th floor Cashion Academic Center) (coffee and pastries)

10-10:45 a.m. –Session 1
Ralph Wood (University Professor of Theology and Literature, Baylor University):
The Baptized Imagination: C. S. Lewis’s Fictional Apologetics

11-11:45 a.m. –Session 2
Trent Dougherty (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University):
Lewis on the Problem of Animal Suffering

12-1 p.m. — Lunch with Talk by Francis Beckwith (Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies, Baylor University)   (lunch included for all)


1- 1:45 p.m. — Session 3
Erik Wielenberg (Associate Professor of Philosophy, DePauw University) Divine Deception


2-2:45 p.m. — Session 4
Alan Jacobs (Distinguished Professor of Literature, Baylor University)
 and response by David L. Jeffrey (Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities, Baylor University) “On Learning in Wartime”


3-3:45 p.m. –Session 5
Panel Discussion with William Weaver (Associate Professor of Literature, Baylor University), Scott Moore (Associate Professor of Philosophy and Great Texts, Baylor University), and Douglas Henry (Associate Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University)

4-4:45 p.m — Session 6
Todd Buras (Associate Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University):
Lewis’ Argument from Desire

- See more here

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

UK Telegraph: US 'spied on future Pope Francis during Vatican conclave'

Read about it here. Wonder how many breaches of the confessional our government participated in? 

Malcolm & Alwyn: The World Needs Jesus

This song was released 40 years ago by my favorite Christian music duo, Malcolm & Alwyn. They influence of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel is all over their work. (I imagine that Pope Francis would love this song)

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another Protestant Theologian on Reformation Day: Timothy George

Here is my latest entry in my week-long commemoration of Reformation Day (October 31).

In an October 30, 2009 piece published in First Things, Timothy George offers a different Protestant perspective on Reformation Day than the one offered by Stanley Hauerwas, about which I blogged yesterday.  A friend with whom I have participated in several public dialogues concerning Evangelicals and Catholics, George is the Dean of the Beeson Divinity School

[caption id="attachment_3077" align="alignright" width="300"] Timothy George and Pope Benedict XVI[/caption]

at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Here's how his essay begins:
It was around two o’clock in the afternoon on the eve of the Day of All Saints, October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther, hammer in hand, approached the main north door of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg and nailed up his Ninety-Five Theses protesting the abuse of indulgences in the teaching and practice of the church of his day. In remembrance of this event, millions of Christians still celebrate this day as the symbolic beginning of the Protestant Reformation. At Beeson Divinity School, for example, we do not celebrate Halloween on October 31. Instead we have a Reformation party.

But did this event really happen? Erwin Iserloh, a Catholic Reformation scholar, attributed the story of the theses-posting to later myth-making. He pointed to the fact that the story was first told by Philip Melanchthon long after Luther’s death. Other Luther scholars rushed to defend the historicity of the hammer blows of Wittenberg. In fact, the door of the Castle Church did serve as the official university bulletin board and was regularly used for exactly the kind of announcement Luther made when he called for a public disputation on indulgences.

But whether the event happened at two o’clock in the afternoon, or at all, is not the point. Copies of Luther’s theses were soon distributed by humanist scholars all over Europe. Within just a few weeks, an obscure Augustinian monk in a backwater university town had become a household name and was the subject of chatter from Lisbon to Lithuania.

It was not Luther’s intention to divide the Church, much less to start a brand new church. To the end of his life, he considered himself to be a faithful and obedient servant of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Though Luther renounced his monastic vows and married a former nun, Katarina von Bora, he never forgot that he had received a doctorate in Holy Scripture. His vocation was to teach the written Word of God and to point men and women to the Lord of Scripture, Jesus Christ.

On this Reformation Day, it is good to remember that Martin Luther belongs to the entire Church, not only to Lutherans and Protestants, just as Thomas Aquinas is a treasury of Christian wisdom for faithful believers of all denominations, not simply for Dominicans and Catholics. This point was recognized several weeks ago by Franz-Josef Bode, the Catholic Bishop of Osnabrück in northern Germany, when he preached on Luther at an ecumenical service. “It’s fascinating,” he said, “just how radically Luther puts God at the center.” Luther’s teaching that every human being at every moment of life stands absolutely coram deo—before God, confronted face-to-face by God—led him to confront the major misunderstanding in the church of his day that grace and forgiveness of sins could be bought and sold like wares in the market. “The focus on Christ, the Bible and the authentic Word are things that we as the Catholic church today can only underline,” Bode said. The bishop’s views have been echoed by many other Catholic theologians since the Second Vatican Council as Luther’s teachings, especially his esteem for the Word of God, has come to be appreciated in a way that would have been unthinkable a century ago.

>>>continue reading

Protestant Theologian Stanley Hauerwas on Reformation Sunday

Stanley Hauerwas in one of America's truly great public intellectuals, and perhaps the most influential theologian alive today. The Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Studies at Duke Divinity School, Hauerwas is a Protestant.  On Reformation Sunday 1995, he delivered a sermon that began in the following way:
I must begin by telling you that I do not like to preach on Reformation Sunday. Actually I have to put it more strongly than that. I do not like Reformation Sunday, period. I do not understand why it is part of the church year. Reformation Sunday does not name a happy event for the Church Catholic; on the contrary, it names failure. Of course, the church rightly names failure, or at least horror, as part of our church year. We do, after all, go through crucifixion as part of Holy Week. Certainly if the Reformation is to be narrated rightly, it is to be narrated as part of those dark days.

Reformation names the disunity in which we currently stand. We who remain in the Protestant tradition want to say that Reformation was a success. But when we make Reformation a success, it only ends up killing us. After all, the very name ‘Protestantism’ is meant to denote a reform movement of protest within the Church Catholic. When Protestantism becomes an end in itself, which it certainly has through the mainstream denominations in America, it becomes anathema. If we no longer have broken hearts at the church’s division, then we cannot help but unfaithfully celebrate Reformation Sunday.

For example, note what the Reformation has done for our reading texts like that which we hear from Luke this morning. We Protestants automatically assume that the Pharisees are the Catholics. They are the self-righteous people who have made Christianity a form of legalistic religion, thereby destroying the free grace of the Gospel. We Protestants are the tax collectors, knowing that we are sinners and that our lives depend upon God’s free grace. And therefore we are better than the Catholics because we know they are sinners. What an odd irony that the Reformation made such readings possible. As Protestants we now take pride in the acknowledgment of our sinfulness in order to distinguish ourselves from Catholics who allegedly believe in works-righteousness.

Unfortunately, the Catholics are right. Christian salvation consists in works. To be saved is to be made holy. To be saved requires our being made part of a people separated from the world so that we can be united in spite of — or perhaps better, because of — the world’s fragmentation and divisions. Unity, after all, is what God has given us through Christ’s death and resurrection. For in that death and resurrection we have been made part of God’s salvation for the world so that the world may know it has been freed from the powers that would compel us to kill one another in the name of false loyalties. All that is about the works necessary to save us.

>>>continue reading

Monday, October 28, 2013

Essays on the relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics

In this latest installment for the week of Reformation Day (October 31), what follows are links to a few articles of mine in which I discuss the relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics.



R.I.P. Lou Reed

Lou Reed, founding member of The Velvet Underground, has died. Although I did not always agree with Reed's politics or views on religion, I was deeply moved by his art. As my friend, Rod Dreher, notes, "He was a broken man — he wrote and sang about very dark things, including drug addiction and prostitution — but out of that brokenness came beauty, at times, and even grace." Other than Bob Dylan, Reed was about the only performer that I would have liked to have met.

What follows are videos of two songs. The first, "Jesus," is performed by the Velvet Underground, and is sung by Reed. The other, "Romeo Had Juliette,"  is from Reed's amazing 1989 album, New York.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-SD90fws3w[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_8-Fm1vfw0[/youtube]

I confess that Reed is not everyone's cup of tea. Given my own beliefs, I probably should not like his work. But I do.

Five doctrinal issues that divide Catholics and Protestants

In my second installment for the week of Reformation Day are links to five articles I published over at The Catholic Thing. Each deals with a doctrinal

[caption id="attachment_3046" align="alignleft" width="300"] Yours truly in St. Peter's Square holding a copy of his book, Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic[/caption]

issue over which Catholics and Protestants disagree:

Over the next couple of days leading up to October 31 (Reformation Day), I will also post links to articles about how we can learn from each other, including something about the perils of intra-Christian apologetics.

 

 

 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The week of Reformation Day: "Reformation Day and Schism"

Today begins the week that includes, October 31, the day that Protestants have traditionally called "Reformation Day." For it is the day that in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg. We are now only 4 years away from the 500th anniversary of those earth-shaking events that transformed the trajectory of Western Christianity. During this week I will be posting links to several articles in commemoration of Reformation Day. These articles either deal with the Reformation in particular or with Catholic doctrines with which Protestants disagree.

The first article is

Published in 2010 on The Catholic Thing, here's how it begins:
Sunday, October 31, is Reformation Day. It marks 493 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the famous church door in Wittenberg, Germany. The Augustinian monk set in motion a sequence of events that reverberated through Western Christendom and continues to mark and separate us today.

Since returning to the Catholic Church in late April 2007, I find Reformation Day has taken on a different meaning than when I stood on the other side of the Tiber. Nevertheless, even as a Protestant, my enthusiasm for October 31 never rose higher than modest appreciation for what I thought were Luther’s, and later Calvin’s, significant contributions in helping Western Christians to retrieve what had been lost. I say “modest appreciation,” since it always seemed to me rather unseemly to get too excited about schism and mutual charges of apostasy and heresy. It would be like celebrating the tenth anniversary of your divorce. You may think that the divorce was a good idea, but not because you think divorce itself is the proper end of a marriage.

Luther himself, though excommunicated, never saw his movement as anything more than a renewal movement within the Church. We, of course, know now that the movement he started had a life of its own, resulting in scores of different and often conflicting understandings of Scripture, sacrament, and Church, and each finding something in Christianity’s traditions to challenge.

>>>continue reading

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Caution! Bill O'Reilly's "Killing Jesus" is historically flawed

Read the review of the book over at The Catholic Thing. The reviewer is David G. Bonagura, Jr., who teaches theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York. Several years ago I penned a piece on O'Reilly and his theological acumen. Entitled, "Don't Know Much About Theology," you can read it here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Don’t call it a pullback; we’ve been here for years." Why I love Russell Moore; he appropriates LL Cool J

You can read it here on National Review Online. As for LL Cool J, here's what I'm talking about.

Bob Dylan's amazing live version of Mr. Tambourine Man from 1995

[youtube]http://youtu.be/vlPQiiHuWmM[/youtube]

When my brother, Jim, and I saw Dylan in Vegas on May 13, 1995, he sang it just this way during that live performance.

Redskins, Racial Slurs, and Social Justice

That's the title of my latest installment over at The Catholic Thing. Here's how it begins:
During halftime of an NFL game broadcasted on NBC on October 13, sportscaster, Bob Costas, opined that the ownership of the Washington Redskins should change its name.  Following the lead of President Obama, who said that he would change the team’s name if he were the owner, Costas argued that “Redskins” is “an insult, a slur no matter how benign the present-day intent.”

Team owner, Dan Snyder, reacting to the President’s comments, defended the name, appealing to the team’s 81-year old tradition, that the name is employed by the ownership without malice or bigotry, and that a vast majority of Native Americans are not troubled by the name.

This is a very weak argument.

>>>continue reading

A question I didn't think anyone was asking: Where did all these Calvinists come from?

Read all about it at The Gospel Coalition. BTW, I think it's a great question!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Great cover of Bob Dylan's pro-Israel song, "Neighborhood Bully."

[youtube]http://youtu.be/USpGVpJUf-Y[/youtube]

The band is called "Daniel Israel and Blood on the Tracks." The lyrics to the song follow:
Neighborhood Bully (music and lyrics by Bob Dylan)

Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He’s wandered the earth an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
He’s always on trial for just being born
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him
’Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
He’s the neighborhood bully

He got no allies to really speak of
What he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love
He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease
Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep
He’s the neighborhood bully

Every empire that’s enslaved him is gone
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon
He’s made a garden of paradise in the desert sand
In bed with nobody, under no one’s command
He’s the neighborhood bully

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
He’s the neighborhood bully

What’s anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin’, they say. He just likes to cause war
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed
He’s the neighborhood bully

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
Running out the clock, time standing still
Neighborhood bully
Copyright © 1983 by Special Rider Music

Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/neighborhood-bully#ixzz2iVE1AEEM

 

My cousin Tony Sclafani's new book: Grateful Dead FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Greatest Jam Band in History

My cousin Tony Sclafani recently published a book, Grateful Dead FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Greatest Jam Band in History (Backbeat Books, 2013). Here's a summary of it:
The Grateful Dead rose out of San Francisco's 1960s underground rock scene with an unprecedented sound and image. The group's members were steeped in rock, folk, classical, and blues, and their instrumental prowess and refusal to bow to commercial conventions helped originate jam band music. Unapologetic in their advocacy of drug use as a means toward mind expansion, the musicians also helped usher in the era of psychedelic music. After performing at the Monterey International Pop Festival and Woodstock, the group became iconic without ever scoring a hit single. A large, devoted fan base, called Deadheads, began to follow the band from concert to concert. Bandleader Jerry Garcia slipped into a coma in 1986, but returned the next year with a top-selling album and surprise hit single, "Touch of Grey," which led to the band becoming more popular than ever. By 1993, the Dead was the top-grossing live act in the United States. The band ended when Garcia died in 1995, but the music lives on through the constant stream of live releases that continue to this day. In Grateful Dead FAQ, Tony Sclafani examines the band's impact and influence on rock music and in popular culture. This book takes a fresh look at what made the band unique but also ventures into unexplored areas, making it a must-have for both Deadheads and casual fans.

My mom, the sister of Tony's mom, bought me a copy of this book for my birthday. Looking forward to reading it!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Underground Thomist: J. Budziszewski's scholarly website

J. Budziszewski, professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas, has a new website, The Underground Thomist. I was perusing it this morning. It is really amazing.  You should check it out

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gerald McDermott: Is Evangelical Liberalism an Oxymoron?

Just saw this essay this morning on First Thing's On the Square. Here is Professor McDermott's conclusion:
The lesson Evangelicals should learn from this new dust-up over evangelical theology and modernity is that sola scriptura is necessary but not sufficient for maintaining theological orthodoxy. Only a “single-source” view of scripture and tradition in which hermeneutical authority is given to the mutual interplay of Scripture and orthodox community—the method that the church practiced for most of Christian history—can protect evangelical theology from going the way of all flesh, to liberal Protestantism.

Post-conservatives claim conservative Evangelicals elevate tradition—both evangelical tradition and early church tradition—above Scripture. But Great Tradition Evangelicals say they want to submit their individual interpretations of Scripture to those of the wider and longer orthodox church, and interpret Scripture by thinking with the Great Tradition.

You can read the whole thing here.  One could add to Professor McDermott's conclusion--and he may very well be implying this--that Scripture itself arises out of the Church and its practices, and thus it is itself, not so much a product of tradition, but authoritative writings that were recognized as such in an organic relationship with the Great Tradition.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gerald McDermott on The Emerging Divide in Evangelical Theology

Here's the introduction:
Imagine the scene. Ancient Jerusalem is at war. Its army is fighting far away. Behind the city walls, its old men, women and children nervously await word on what happened in battle. Their lives and future are at stake. Suddenly, a cry rings out from the sentries watching from the look-out points on top of the wall. "Your God reigns.." A rider approaching the wall has signaled victory. The whole city explodes in celebration. The word "evangelical" comes from this Hebrew idea of announcing the good news that God now reigns with power and grace.

This essay will argue that while evangelical theology has come into its own in recent decades, it is also deeply divided. One branch contributes to the development of historic orthodoxy, while another follows a trail blazed by Protestant liberals. The future will probably see further distance between these two kinds of theology, with one perhaps becoming "evangelical" in name only. I will begin the essay by outlining recent successes, and the ways in which evangelical theologians since the 1970s have understood their own distinctives. Part II will uncover the divisions in today's evangelical theology, and Part III will highlight the doctrines that evangelical theology is re-examining. I will conclude with projections for the future (Part IV).

It's really worth a read.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

George Weigel on the upcoming double papal canonizations

Weigel writes: "I doubt that Pope Francis has heard of Ernie Banks, the Hall of Fame shortstop. But like “Mr. Cub,” whose love for baseball led him to exclaim “Let’s play two!” before Sunday doubleheaders in the 1950s, the pope from the end of the world seems to think that papal canonizations are better in tandem: hence the Sept. 30 announcement that Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II will be canonized together on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2014." >>>continue reading

 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

John Howard Yoder: Pacifist Aggressive

From Mark Oppenheimer at The New York Times:
Can a bad person be a good theologian?

All of us fall short of our ideals, of course. But there is a common-sense expectation that religious professionals should try to behave as they counsel others to behave. They may not be perfect, but they should not be louts or jerks.

By that standard, few have failed as egregiously as John Howard Yoder, America’s most influential pacifist theologian. In his teaching at Notre Dame and elsewhere, and in books like “The Politics of Jesus,” published in 1972, Mr. Yoder, a Mennonite Christian, helped thousands formulate their opposition to violence. Yet, as he admitted before his death in 1997, he groped many women or pressured them to have physical contact, although never sexual intercourse.

>>continue reading

Friday, September 27, 2013

Am I the Prodigal Son's Brother?: Reflections on Pope Francis' Interview

Just published this over at The Catholic Thing. Here's how it begins:
On Monday evening of this week, on a plane flight from Chicago to Philadelphia, I sat, amidst the poor lighting and the turbulence, transfixed, pouring over the pages of the Holy Father’s recently published interview, about which several on this page, and thousands elsewhere, have opined.  So, I was not reading it with fresh eyes, but rather through the prism of not only the New York Times, but also by way of the assessments of several writers whose opinions I respect and from whom I have learned much, includingRoyalWiegel,ScaliaWehnerRenoLopezDreher, and Garnett, to name just a few.

Like some of them, I found myself not entirely pleased with the language that Pope Francis employed. Some of his words, including those that rightly suggest that our moral theology will appear disjointed if wrenched from the anthropological and soteriological contexts they naturally reside, were later, ironically, wrenched out of the ecclesiastical context in which Papa Francesco is asking us to understand his prescriptions for the global Church.

That, it seems to me, is precisely what happened with the account in the New York Times, and among the reports offered by some Catholic and non-Catholic believers who saw in the de-contextualized words of Francis a glimmer of hope that the barque of Peter would begin to transition to its proper role as a dinghy on the cultural Titanic of liberal progressivism.  Apparently, if  John McEnroe were to become the Times’ religion reporter we would soon see the headline, “Tennis Mentioned in Bible,” since, after all, the Book of Genesis does say that “Joseph served in Pharoah’s court.” (Gen. 41:46).

>>>continue reading 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dr. J., Religion, and the Bigotry of Superficial Sophistication

That's the title of my most recent column over at The Catholic Thing. Here's how it begins:
When I was a kid in the 1970s, most liberal-minded adults, in order to make sure you knew that they harbored no racial prejudices, often went out of their way to say what they thought were kind things about minorities – which actually revealed just the opposite. So, for example, after watching a television interview of the great professional basketball star Julius Erving (aka “Dr. J.”), one of my father’s friends exclaimed, “That Dr. J is a real class act. He is so well spoken.”

For those of us in the room under thirty, this was cringe-inducing, even though we knew that the man who uttered that statement considered his comments a sign of sophistication on matters racial, that he thought of himself as an enlightened progressive mystically harmonizing with the Youngbloods, “C'mon people now. Smile on your brother. Ev’rybody get together. Try and love one another right now.”

His heart, of course, was in the right place. But the assumptions that gave rise to his observations about Dr. J. – that black people are not by nature classy or articulate – show that he in fact harbored racial prejudices, however generous his affections toward his African-American neighbors may have been. My peers and I cringed because of a truth about human conversation that we often do not admit: what is communicated in speech is often shaped less by what is said than what is not said.

>>>continue reading

 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stephen H. Webb: In Defense of Dylan's Voice

Over at First Things, my friend, Steve Webb, offers an apologetic for Bob Dylan's voice. Before you go there, you may want to listen to Zimmy, from a concert in Akron in April:

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

 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Roger McGuinn's cool blog

Just came across this blog by former member of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn. It includes many posts of traditional folk songs sung by McGuinn 

New hiding place for Snowden's secrets

Apparently, the Russians--in old KGB style--have surgically inserted into their President all the secrets Ed Snowden brought with him to Moscow. Thus, you can say that the proof is in the Putin.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Doting Thomists: Evangelicals, Thomas Aquinas, and Justification"

That's the title of my most recent article published in the The Evangelical Quarterly 85.3 (July 2013): 211-227.  Here's the abstract:
Over the past several decades, some Evangelical philosophers and theologians have embraced the metaphysics, epistemology, and natural law theory of Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), despite that fact that historically some of the leading lights in Evangelicalism have rejected Aquinas's views because they believed these views are inconsistent with classical Reformation teaching. Some of these Evangelical Thomists have argued that on the matter of justification Aquinas is out of step with Tridentine and post-Tridentine Catholicism though closer to the Protestant Reformers.This article argues that such a reading of Aquinas is mistaken, and that Aquinas's understanding of justification is of a piece with both his predecessors (Augustine, Council of Orange) as well as his successors (Council of Trent, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

In this article I critique the reading of St. Thomas embraced by R. C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Norman L. Geisler. As I note in the article, "Although an entire generation of Evangelical Thomists, influenced by Geisler, Sproul, and Gerstner, has largely accepted this narrative, it is spectacularly false." You can read the entire article here.

This article was originally presented as a paper at the 2010 meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, on how Pope Francis is smashing the media narrative on the Church and gay rights

Read it here at First Things. She writes:
What did Francis say? Well, at this writing, the official Vatican transcript is not available, but according to reports, the Pope endorsed the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will—well, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn’t this [homosexual] orientation—we must be like brothers and sisters. The problem is something else, the problem is lobbying either for this orientation or a political lobby or a Masonic lobby."

While it is true that, as newsman and Vaticanista John Thavis quickly noted, Francis’ remarks were not meant to be “specifically about gay priests,” secular headlines implied otherwise. His words, however, came in answer to a question about the so-called “gay lobby” within the Vatican and specifically concerning one of Francis’ own appointees, whose past had been raised by some as a cause for concern. To this, Francis replied...

>>>continue reading.

What follows is my  take on Pope Francis's comments.

The Holy Father is a rhetorical genius here. For the media, "being gay" means celebrating one's homosexual identity and living it out. That's not what Francis means, especially given his strong opposition to state recognized same-sex marriage as well as his reference to the Church's teachings in the Catechism.  Replace "homosexual" or "gay" with any number of nouns that we employ to describe people who have certain inclinations and ask yourself if Francis' comments cohere perfectly with what the Church teaches. Of course they do!

[caption id="attachment_2924" align="alignright" width="450"] Me and Pope Francis, 16 June 2013. He's holding a copy of my book, Defending Life (Cambridge University Press, 2007)[/caption]

I think what Francis is doing is something I have suggested for quite some time: use the language of inclusion and openness to advance a countercultural, and distinctly Christian, understanding of the nature of the human person. In other words, speak the truth in love.  (Wow, what a radical concept!) So, instead of saying that prolifers oppose abortion--which is the language our adversaries want us to speak--we say, with complete integrity and confidence, that we want a community that is open to all human persons regardless of their size, level of development, environment, or dependency. Instead of saying that we want to "ban gay marriage"--which is the language our adversaries want us to speak--we say, with complete integrity and confidence, that we believe in, and uphold, the dignity of all persons, including those with same-sex attraction, and that our understanding of that dignity is manifested in respecting the goods to which our sexual powers are ordered--real organic unity and the begetting and raising of children--which are best nurtured, protected, and advanced in the community's recognition of the uniqueness and intrinsic good of the marriage of one man and one woman.

What Pope Francis articulated is Catholic moral theology. The fact that the media do not recognize it tells us a lot about them and very little about the Holy Father. Thus, the Pope, it turns out, is Catholic after all.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Second Look at First Things: A Case for Conservative Politics - The Hadley Arkes Festschrift

[caption id="attachment_2915" align="alignleft" width="300"] Hadley with his godfather, Michael Novak, a contributor to this volume.[/caption]

I am pleased to announce the official release of A Second Look at First Things: A Case for Conservative Politics, a book edited by me, Robert P. George (Princeton University), and Susan McWilliams (Pomona College), with a forward by Daniel Robinson (Oxford University). Published by St. Augustine's Press, it is a festschrift in honor of the renowned political philosopher, Hadley Arkes (Amherst College). What follows is the Table of Contents:

Foreword
Daniel Robinson (Oxford University)

Introduction: A Second Look at First Things
Francis J. Beckwith (Baylor University)

I. Conservatism, Statecraft, and Soulcraft

1. Larry Arnn (Hillsdale College)
“What is Political Conservatism?”

2. Allen Guelzo (Gettysburg College)
“Lincoln and Justice for All”

3. Susan McWilliams (Pomona College)
“Moral Education and the Art of Storytelling”

4. James Schall, S. J. (Georgetown University)
“On ‘Eating the Last Pizza’: The Wit of Hadley Arkes”

II. Jurisprudence

5. David Forte (Cleveland State University)
“The Morality of the Positive Law”

6. Micah Watson (Union University)
“Statecraft as Soulcraft: The Case for Legislating Morality”

7. Christopher Wolfe (Marquette University)
“Natural Law and Contemporary Liberalism”

III. Religion, Liberal Democracy, and the American Project

8. J. Budziszewski (University of Texas, Austin)
“Why the Natural Law Suggests a Divine Source”

9. Vincent Phillip Muñoz (University of Notre Dame)
“The Place of Religion Among the American Founders”

10. Michael Novak (American Enterprise Institute)
“Freedom Under God: An American Understanding of Religious Liberty”

11. Gerard Bradley (Notre Dame Law School)
“Veritatis Splendor: Exceptionless Moral Norms, Human Rights, and the Common Good”

IV. Communities, Persons, and Institutions

12. Robert P. George (Princeton University)
“On the Moral Purposes of Law and Government”

13. James R. Stoner, Jr. (Louisiana State University)
“The Justice of the Market and the Common Good: Justice Sutherland’s Debate”

14. Christopher Tollefsen (University of South Carolina)
“The Unborn and the Scope of the Human Community”

15. Peter Augustine Lawler (Berry College)
“Being Personal These Days: Designer Babies and the Future of Liberal Democracy”

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Rights of Error and the Death of Tolerance

That's the title of my latest installment over at The Catholic Thing. Here's how it begins:

Well, George Lewis told the Englishman, the Italian and the Jew
“You can’t open your mind, boys
To every conceivable point of view”
– Bob  Dylan, “High Water (For Charley Patton),” 2001



Many years ago I was a guest on a national radio show to discuss one of my books. I forget which one, but I vividly remember an encounter I had with a listener who called the program. He was clearly upset that I was offering reasons for the sanctity of unborn human life, that I was explaining in some detail why I believe that the preborn human being has a personal nature and that abortion is unjustified homicide.

After some initial small talk, and my answering his question about human personhood, the caller asserted with obvious exasperation: “Dr. Beckwith, you’re just intolerant. You seem so sure that you are right, and that everybody else is wrong.” For someone like me, who moonlights as a philosophical comedian, this sort of assertion is almost too good to be true. It’s the type of clichéd, mindless platitude that has kept the book I wrote with Gregory P. KouklRelativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, in print for fifteen years.

I answered the caller by asking this question, “Am I wrong in thinking this way?” It is an interrogative response that Greg and I have employed on numerous occasions and have shared with many an audience. The caller replied, “Yes.” I then said, “Then, you’re exactly like me. You think you’re right and I’m wrong. The difference is that I actually admit I believe something is true. You, on the other hand, believe something is true, but act as if you really don’t.”

>>>continue reading

Monday, June 3, 2013

Riley Beckwith's Valedictorian Address

My niece, Riley Jane Beckwith, as I have already noted, was named a National Merit Finalist, earned a full ride to the University of Dallas (beginning in Fall 2013), and is the 2013 Dayton High School valedictorian. What follows is the text of her valedictorian address, which she delivered in Dayton, Nevada on May 30, 2013:
2013 Dayton High School Valedictorian Address
by Riley J. Beckwith

The title of valedictorian demands that I give some sort of wisdom to the rest of my class, which is, frankly, a little selfish of you all. I think the number of whispered “Hey, Riley! What’s number five?” that I so graciously responded to should exempt me from having to come up here. Honestly, I think I’ve earned some advice from some of you. But, since I’m the one standing here, I will try to produce a little more brilliance for you all. I have tried to remember all of your tips for this speech, including “don’t make it stupid.” We’ll see if I’m successful.

I’m going to tell you all about something I learned existed while in high school, and it’s something you all should be aware of. I call it (and this is its technical name) “Tinkerbell Syndrome.” You see, in Peter Pan, the fairies can only be one thing at a time. If they’re angry, then they’re going to be angry no matter what. If they’re having a good day, nothing could make them upset. They are one thing and that one thing is all they can be unless they change everything they are. And this idea that a person has room for one fixed thing at a time, and that change from that one thing must be absolute and binding, is something that I’ve seen all throughout high school.

In our society, any self-doubt, any confusion about who we are is seen as something that needs to be fixed immediately. It is bad to not know who you are or to not like parts of yourself. Especially at this time in our lives, it is so easy to buy into the idea that you are finally becoming who you are. As if people can be one type of person, and that discovering that person must be dramatic and all at once. You wake up one day and suddenly you know everything you’re supposed to be, and that’s just who you are now forever and ever. People aren’t like Tinkerbell, at least, not in that respect. They are a whole variety of things at once, and all those little pieces are constantly changing. You don’t need to decide that everything you are right now, sitting here, is all you’ll ever be.

Now, I’m not going to stand here and tell you that you can be “anything you want to be.” However, you can be (and are) more than the one or two things you may feel like right now.  We try so hard to define ourselves when all we’re really doing is limiting who we can be. Who you are is going to change.  Accept that change. Be open to it, not because it is easy or it will always lead to success, but because it is what people were meant to do.

And speaking of success, don’t let your pursuit of it keep you from experiencing life. If you really, really want to try painting or take a science class but don’t because you’re not good at those things, then you’ve missed the point. And the point, by the way, isn’t the Hollywood favorite of discovering hidden talents or becoming great at something through sheer will power. Sometimes you simply aren’t good at something you happen to enjoy. And that’s okay. You can have fun, and that’s important in life. Some hard work and ambition is necessary.  But enjoying life should be about more than the things you can be the best at. And the class of 2013 knows how to enjoy life. Don’t lose that in an attempt to “figure out” who you are or be successful.

This class is diverse and funny and talented and it has been such a pleasure to spend my high school years with you. In all earnestness, this has been a special time in my life, and I have shared it with a group of people I am proud of and will miss.  I’ve had wonderful teachers who have encouraged me with their enthusiasm for their subjects and a dedication to making me a more thoughtful human being. My family must be thanked as well, from my parents who have always encouraged my intellectual growth, to my younger siblings who, for my eighteenth birthday, tried to dissuade me from going to college by writing “Please don’t leave us!” on a picture of me on a campus filled with criminals. They have brought laughter into every day of my life, and I’m truly lucky to have them.

Someone told me my speech should be “mediumish” in length.  I don’t know what that means, but I have done my best. Thank you, class of 2013, and good luck.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My niece, Riley Beckwith, named National Merit Finalist, receives full ride to U. of Dallas, and is Dayton High School valedictorian.

I'm very proud of my niece, Riley Beckwith, who graduates tomorrow from Dayton High School (Nevada) as its valedictorian. Here's an article about her from this morning's Reno Gazette-Journal:
Dayton High School senior Riley Beckwith has been named a National Merit Finalist Scholarship recipient, the most prestigious and highly competitive award given through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Beckwith, the Dayton High Class of 2013 Valedictorian, has also accepted the school-sponsored National Merit Finalist Scholarship offered by the University of Dallas, where she will attend in the fall. The full tuition scholarship is valued at over $120,000.

Beckwith called the honor “amazing” and said it gives her the opportunity that she otherwise might not have had to attend the University of Dallas. She had originally been considering attending the University of Nevada, Reno, but said when she was announced as a semifinalist, she thought she could potentially go somewhere else.

>>>continue reading

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Imagine No Opposition; It's Easy If You Try

That's the title of my latest entry over at The Catholic Thing. Here's how it begins:

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

--John Lennon, “Imagine” (1971)

The late John Lennon implied in this famous tune that utopia requires the absence of real human differences and firm convictions, as if the communities, beliefs, and civil societies that arise from a free people are the enemy rather than the fruit of peace. Lennon imagined a world in which nothing was worth dying for (and thus not worth living for), that the afterlife offered no hope (“above us only sky”), that a man may not own what is rightly his (“no possessions”), and that life’s meaning is forever severed from a transcendent source (“no religion too”).

Unsurprisingly, Lennon’s cultural children, who now occupy the seats of power in virtually all our public institutions, view any opposition to their flower-child idealism as by its very nature inconsistent with the “good society,” even if such opposition is a consequence of a free people exercising their rightful powers as citizens. Thus, they do not view their visceral hostility to contrary voices as a prologue to tyranny, but rather, as a legitimate reaction to those who propagate “injustice.”  Consequently, given human nature, and the diversity of social, intellectual, and religious paths that arise from a free people committed to ordered liberty, the world of “Imagine” can only be achieved by suppressing the opposition.

As we learned earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) admitted that it had over the past few years targeted for “special treatment” Tea Party and conservative groups applying for 501(c) 4 or 501(c) 3 tax-exempt status. For example, according to one report, an Iowa prolife group was asked in 2009 by the IRS to “please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational as defined under 501(c) 3.” They were also asked to “please provide the percentage of time your group spends on prayer groups as compared with other activities of the organization,” as well as “to explain in detail the signs that are being held up outside Planned Parenthood, and explain how they are considered educational.”

>>>continue reading

 

I've Joined the Faculty of the Envoy Institute's Catholic Apologetics Academy

I am pleased to announce that yesterday I accepted an invitation to be on the faculty of the Catholic Apologetics Academy of the Envoy Institute. Included among my colleagues are Patrick Madrid (Envoy's president) and philosophers Edward Feser and Peter Kreeft. You can read more about CAA here.

I anticipate that my lectures will focus on what I've been doing for most of my career as both a Protestant and a Catholic: discussing philosophical, social, and cultural issues in which once widely-held Christian understandings have been challenged and require an intelligent, careful, and winsome response.

 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Giving the Banquet Keynote Address at the 2013 Napa Institute Conference, August 1-4

It is truly an honor to announce that I will be giving the banquet keynote address at the 2013 Napa Institute Conference.  According to the website:
The Third Annual Napa Institute Conference will take place from Thursday, August 1 – Sunday, August 4, 2013 at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, CA.

In 2013, conference themes will include the Sanctity of Work, Building a Catholic Culture, and Reason & Faith. Speakers and Prelates in attendance for 2013 include:

Archbishops José Gomez, Charles Chaput, John Nienstedt, Samuel Aquila, Salvatore Cordileone, and Alexander Brunett; Bishops Robert Vasa, Kevin Vann, and Robert Morlino; Fathers Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ronald Tacelli, S.J., and Brian Mullady, OP; along with Tim Gray, Ph.D., Carolyn Woo, Ph.D., Kathryn Jean Lopez, John Garvey, and Dr. Francis Beckwith.

You can read more about it here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

"Baylor University Scholar Francis Beckwith Will Speak at Vatican Educational Conference"

From Baylor media communications:
WACO, Texas (April 22, 2013) -- Francis J. Beckwith, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy at Baylor University and Resident Scholar in Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion, will travel to Rome in mid-June to speak at The Celebration of Evangelium Vitae: Faithful to Life conference, sponsored by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

Beckwith is one of three speakers invited to speak at the event, to be held June 15-16.

>>>Continue reading

For more on the conference itself, go to the Year of Faith website here. (Note: Sean Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, is no longer giving the keynote address, as indicated in the Baylor press release. However, he has been replaced by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis and current Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, as noted on the Year of Faith website).

Monday, April 1, 2013

Me v. Obama Shooting the Basketball? No Contest, Really.

The President, on Easter Sunday at the White House:



Me, two weeks ago in my backyard sports court. (My wife, Frankie, is making commentary)



We're roughly the same age. He was born in 1961, and I was born in 1960. He played high school basketball, and so did  I. Clearly, even then, I had better legs:



Sunday, March 31, 2013

The day I met Edith Schaeffer (1914-2013), and the note she penned to me.

On March 30, 2013, Edith Schaeffer died at the age of 98. Born on November 3, 1914, she was the widow of Francis A. Schaeffer.  (November 3 is my birthday as well).  In my book, Return to Rome: Confession of An Evangelical Catholic (Brazos Press, 2009), I tell of my encounter with Mrs. Schaeffer at a bookstore in New York City on April 29, 1986, when I was 25 years old:


During my second year in New York City I had the opportunity to meet Edith Schaeffer, the widow of the Presbyterian theologian, Francis A. Schaeffer (1912–1984), whose published works were influential in my decision to pursue graduate work in philosophy. Mrs. Schaeffer was in New York for a book-signing event at the massive Christian Book Distributors retail outlet in Midtown Manhattan. When I arrived there in the mid-afternoon, the crowds had dissipated and Mrs. Schaeffer was sitting alone at a table. I introduced myself to her and told her about her late husband’s influence on me. She seemed sincerely interested in my story. She then kindly asked if I wanted her to sign one of her books. I said “yes,” and handed her a
Edith and Francis Schaeffer

copy of Common Sense Christian Living. She then opened up the book to the first blank page and proceeded to draw a sketch of the Swiss Alps, with birds flying between the mountains and a small flower at the base. (For years, her and her husband lived in Switzerland where they founded the ministry, L’Abri). She then wrote in large letters [photograph of the inscription is below]:

April 29, 1986

To Francis with love, Edith Schaeffer. I’ve written many notes to another Francis—-I do pray your life may be as significant in History.

It was only when I reread Mrs. Schaeffer’s inscription while writing this book that I realized that the day of her written prayer for me is the same day that in 2007 I was publicly received back into the Catholic Church, April 29. This is one of those “coincidences” that really spooks me, but in a good way.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sic 'em Francis: Baylor Student's Papal Translation Project

One of our most gifted students at Baylor University, Emily Edmondson, has created a new blog, "The Papal Translation Project."  Emily, who is bilingual, has taken it upon herself to publish some of Pope Francis' works, including some of his homilies as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Monsignor Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. Emily translated four of the six she has published so far.  You can find them all here.


Emily also helps direct the RCIA class at St. Peter's Catholic Student Center at Baylor University.




Monday, March 18, 2013

Alexander Pruss' One Body: An Essay on Christian Sexual Ethics - 30% off

My esteemed colleague, Alexander Pruss, late last year published the book, One Body: An Essay on Christian Sexual Ethics (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012). I selected it as one of the best books I read in 2012.  If you have been looking for a philosophically sophisticated, though clearly written, presentation of Christian sexual ethics by a leading scholar in the field, one that has distinguished himself in the wider academic world, this is the book for you.

Thus, I am delighted to draw your attention to a recent blog post of Alex's:
I got an email from Notre Dame University Press, that my One Body: An Essay in Christian Sexual Ethics book is available at 30% off and with free shipping from the Press's order page to get the price down to $31.50 from the list price of $45 (I don't set the prices!). You will need the sale promo code NDEME13 to be entered at the shopping cart stage. Other books in their Ethics and Culture and their Medical Ethics series are also on sale with the same code.

I don't know if the discount code applies to their PDF version or only to their paper version.