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Phillip E. Johnson on Dreher’s ‘Benedict Option’ in Houston
Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 11:19 AM

by Phillip E. Johnson

Chapter One of Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, starts with a gripping description of a super storm, much like Hurricane Katrina, which inundated New Orleans while George W. Bush was president. The storm he describes is metaphorical. The storm that concerns Dreher is a cultural one that has brought ever more irresistible waves of secularism to the West, meaning Europe and North America.

Dreher pessimistically thinks that this storm is so all encompassing that it will bring about the end of Christianity in the West within our lifetimes. He sees the situation as similar to that faced by the early church after the end of the Roman Empire, at the beginning of the sixth century A.D.

People had to face the fact that the world as they had known it was gone, and disorder and persecution would continue indefinitely.

What was needed was a strategy that would allow the Christian faith to survive and even grow during the years of chaos, so that the faith would be ready to participate in the recovery of society, once civilization was re-established. What Benedict provided was a rule of life for monasteries that would shelter believers while they spent their lives in prayer and preparation for the return of civilization.

In our current crisis situation, what we need is not the sort of institutions that Benedict founded, but other institutions that provide the space for survival and preparation for the future. Education has to be the first priority, but the educational programs must exist within Christian communities that provide support for the academic and moral instruction that the schools are providing.

Dreher mentions specifically the thriving classical Christian schools that are providing education superior to that available in wholly secular schools. As one example, Dreher cites St. Constantine School in Houston, Texas, founded by philosopher and educational visionary Dr. John Mark Reynolds.

At this point, the story becomes highly personal for me. I first met John Mark Reynolds in the early 1990’s, when he sent mean email commenting on a debate I had on Wisconsin Public Radio with a woman who had made a career for herself as the police chief of Darwinism, gathering her forces to confine and extinguish any popular eruptions of dissent from the faith of scientific materialism.

That initial email led to a long series of messages between us which marked a growing intellectual and personal compatibility. I learned that John was being delayed in completing his PhD in philosophy, because he was selling insurance to support his family. I wanted to help John get out of that situation and into college teaching. Just in time, I learned that a position was available at Biola University in Los Angeles and recommended John for it.

In his first year at Biola, he not only finished his PhD thesis, but also conceived and began to administer what they called the Torrey Honors Program, a superb liberal arts program that rejuvenated Biola. [R. A. Torrey, an influential preacher and educator, served as dean of Biola from 1912 to 1924.]

After many years as director of the Torrey program, John accepted the job of provost at Houston Baptist University. Everything went well for several years, but it then became clear that John’s true calling lay in another kind of institution. He met with representatives of Houston’s Eastern Orthodox community (John is Orthodox).

Many of these people had left the Middle East because of the constant threat of violence against Christians and had come to Houston, where they prospered. In need of developing their own job of educating their children, they invited John to become founder and president of The Saint Constantine School, which combines primary and secondary school education with undergraduate college teaching, all under the same roof.

One purpose of this innovation is to reduce the notoriously staggering cost of a college education. This is just the sort of educational model that should prosper if Dreher is right about what is coming. Maybe even if he isn’t.

Phillip E. Johnson is Professor of Law (emeritus) at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Darwin on Trial, The Wedge of Truth, The Right Questions (InterVarsity Press), and other books challenging the naturalistic assumptions that dominate modern culture. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone and his articles are available here.



World Congress of Families to Meet in Budapest This May
Thursday, March 16, 2017, 11:18 AM

The World Congress of Families (WCF) and the International Organization for the Family (IOF) are proud to announce that World Congress of Families XI will take place in Budapest, Hungary, May 25-28, 2017. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most family-friendly countries in Europe.

The Fellowship of St. James has been pleased to partner with the World Congress of Families for a number of years now. The Congress was founded by Allan Carlson, one of Touchstone’s senior editors.



Robert George & Cornel West on Campus Free Thought
Thursday, March 16, 2017, 10:46 AM

Here’s an official joint statement from a Harvard Lefty and a Princeton Righty on freedom of thought, especially on campus. Given the mob action at Middlebury College and elsewhere, I hope some sobered minds might ponder the appeal of natural law Philosopher and Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George and the Socialist professor of Public Policy Cornel West, who are able to converse and disagree without one assaulting the other to silence him. I signed the statement. It’s open for more signatures.

On the topic of campus protests, you will want to read Tony Esolen’s editorial, “Campus Descent: Higher Ed Meets the Lower Regions,” in the May-June issue of Touchstone, which is going to press in a week or so. You can subscribe here, for yourself or for someone else as well (gift subs).



Men Faring Badly is News or Just Another Chapter of an Old Story?
Thursday, March 16, 2017, 10:29 AM

At the core of this story about men faring badly in the new economic normal, is this observation in the article:

Among children raised in single-parent households, however, boys performed significantly less well than their sisters in school, and their employment rate as young adults was lower. “Relative to their sisters,” Autor and his collaborators wrote, “boys born to disadvantaged families” — with disadvantage measured here by mother’s marital status and education — “have higher rates of disciplinary problems, lower achievement scores, and fewer high-school completions.”

Now the idea that boys raised in homes without their fathers, or not raised in the same home with both (‘biological’) parents do not fare as well as other boys–that is not news. But it’s not a story that current cultural elites and leaders want to hear much, let alone influence their thinking in such a way as to rethink what has been our society’s primary post-60s myths about sex, marriage, and families. The kids Aren’t okay. And they’re going into men who aren’t okay either.

 



Objectivity in science is sexist?
Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 11:17 AM

Denyse O’Leary writes at Uncommon Dissent about a dissertation asserting

Laura Parson, a student in the [U]niversity [of North Dakota]’s education department, reviewed eight science class syllabi at a “Midwest public university” and said she discovered in them a hidden hostility to women and minorities:

“Instead of promoting the idea that knowledge is constructed by the student and dynamic, subject to change as it would in a more feminist view of knowledge, the syllabi reinforce the larger male-dominant view of knowledge as one that students acquire and use make [sic] the correct decision.”

It IS true that science itself has to be constructed by human beings: Science is not just “out there” speaking on its own. Science is an human creation. It emerges from the depths of the human mind which uses its intellect to measure and ponder the material world and speculate as to its inner workings, causes, and adaptability for various material ends. The rules of logic apply, but those using the rules are subjective beings. But objectivity in science is normally another way of pointing to such things as logical reasoning about hard evidence. Perhaps the feeling of hostility from the class syllabi is just a subjective construct?

 



People-Eating for Post-Christian Progressives
Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 3:31 PM

Is this Fake News or is The Washington Post is just reporting the facts? And who better to get facts from than a Scientist, those modern all-knowing, always-to-be-trusted human beings like the rest of us yokels?

So, WaPo’s headline:
“Could cannibalism be ‘perfectly natural’? This scientist thinks so.”

What followed was an interview of author Bill Schutt (BS) with WaPo’s “Speaking of Science” (SOS), which includes:

SOS: You were invited by a woman who runs a placenta encapsulation company to taste a placenta.

BS: Mmmhmm.

SOS: So — how was it?

BS: It tasted fine. It was prepared by a chef. He cooked it osso bucco so he knew what he was doing, and he cooked it with veggies. You know he assured me all the veggies are organic. And I was like, “Thank God for that, you know, I wouldn’t want to eat human placenta with nonorganic vegetables.”

But he poured some really nice wine into it, and it smelled great, and it tasted fine. I’m sure anybody else who tasted it would have said the same thing.

SOS: And you consider that cannibalism?

BS: There is a large fetal component to [the placenta]. It’s not all maternal tissue. So therefore, in a sense, you are eating a part of another person, and it’s flesh, and in my book that translates to cannibalism.

SO: The “fetal component” is “part of another” PERSON? Oops.  Could moral insanity also be “perfectly natural”? To find out, ask a scientist.



Speak Out on Behalf of Life, Illinois!
Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 10:33 AM

SpeakOut Illinois, an alliance of some 40 pro-life and pro-family organizations in this state, is holding its annual conference on March 4, 2017, “Speaking for Life.” Please come and join us for this timely and encouraging event. It is imperative that we not forget the voiceless innocent human beings who face destruction the womb, that we band together with all those “Speaking for Life.” The Fellowship of St. James will have a table there. Please, if you come, make sure you introduce yourself to us. We’d love to meet you. Registration for the conference is here.

Screen Shot 2017 02 15 at 10.28.03 AM Speak Out on Behalf of Life, Illinois!

 

Screen Shot 2017 02 15 at 10.28.23 AM Speak Out on Behalf of Life, Illinois!KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Scott Klusendorf is the founder and president of Life Training Institute (LTI), which was established in 2004 to challenge and equip pro-life advocates to persuasively defend their views in the public square. Scott travels throughout the United States, Canada and Europe training groups of people to engage the conversation about abortion. He contends that the pro-life message can compete in the marketplace of ideas if properly understood and articulated.

A passionate and engaging speaker, Scott has appeared on nationally syndicated Christian programs, such as Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Lee Strobel’s Faith Under Fire and Billy Graham’s Hour of Decision. He has also participated in secular talk show appearances, including KABC out of Los Angeles.

PLUS
Inside Planned Parenthood | Linda Couri
Illinois Legislation | Dan McConchie
End of Life Issues | TBA



Robert P. George on SCOTUS Nominee Gorsuch, “Intellectual Giant”
Thursday, February 2, 2017, 11:15 AM

Where do Touchstone editors stand on the recent nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia?

Screen Shot 2017 02 02 at 11.00.33 AM 300x221 Robert P. George on SCOTUS Nominee Gorsuch, Intellectual GiantRobert P. George, for one, is enthusiastic.

In my humble opinion, George is fully qualified to sit on the court himself and was a personal friend of the late Justice Scalia, very knowledgable about the constitutional issues facing this country. He is after all, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, plus a Touchstone Senior Editor! (And yes, that is Senior Editor James Hitchcock in the upper left background, observing George and Scalia in conversation. The picture was taken at a Touchstone dinner in D.C. honoring Dr. George, May 2004.)

Some words to ponder from George’s insightful assessment:

As Gorsuch has frequently observed, good judges sometimes have to vote or rule in ways they do not like, because that is what the law requires. Indeed, if a judge does not sometimes find himself voting or ruling against his own personal beliefs about politics or morality, he noted, that is a sure sign that he is failing to do justice according to law.

In a democracy, the law never lines up perfectly with anyone’s political and moral beliefs. And it is to the law that judges have sworn a sacred oath of fidelity.



Gosnell: The Ugly Face of Abortion in the USA
Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 3:42 PM

This movie about “Dr.” Kermit Gosnell has been made (by the makers of FrackNation). They can’t get it released and shown, yet.

The filmmakers will be presenting their story, and book, on January 25, 2017 at the Heritage Foundation in D.C.

Gosnell

The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer

Gosnell Gosnell: The Ugly Face of Abortion in the USAfeaturing authors Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney

In 2013, Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted of killing four people, including three babies, but is thought to have killed hundreds, perhaps thousands more in a 30-year killing spree. ABC News correspondent Terry Moran described Gosnell as “America’s most prolific serial killer.” Gosnell is currently serving three life sentences (without the possibility of parole) for murdering babies and patients at his “House of Horrors” abortion clinic.

Gosnell – now a major movie starring Dean Cain (Lois & Clarke) – reveals how the investigation that brought Gosnell to justice started as a routine drugs investigation and turned into a shocking unmasking of America’s biggest serial killer. It details how compliant politicians and bureaucrats allowed him to carry out his grisly trade because they didn’t want to be accused of “attacking abortion.”  Gosnellalso exposes the media cover-up that saw reporters refusing to cover a story that shone an unwelcome spotlight on abortion in America in the 21st Century.

Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney are investigative journalists, filmmakers and screenwriters. McAleer has worked as a journalist in Belfast covering the Northern Ireland conflict for The Irish News. He was a crime correspondent for the UK Sunday Times and, based in Romania, a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economistmagazine. He is a regular columnist for the Irish Times and the New York Post. Ann McElhinney has written for the Irish Times, the UK Sunday Times and produced documentaries for the BBC, CBC (Canada) and RTE (Ireland). They produced and directed the documentary FrackNation (2013), and they produced and co-wrote Gosnell, a feature film to be released in 2017.

___________________________________________________

Hosted by
Kelsey Harkness
Senior News Producer, The Daily Signal, The Heritage Foundation

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

The Heritage Foundation’s Lehrman Auditorium

~ Books will be available for purchase and to be signed by the Authors. ~



Father Michael Scanlan, R.I.P., a Word on Christian Colleges
Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 8:54 AM

Those familiar with the life and work of Fr. Michael Scanlan, who fell asleep in the Lord this past Sunday, January 7, will recognize him as the leading light in the rise of Franciscan University of Steubenville as an orthodox Catholic school. In this 1992 article in Touchstone,Faithfulness in Christian Higher Education,” he tells some of the story behind his work there as president. At the end:

It all finally comes down to personal honesty, institutional integrity, and faithfulness. Leading a Christian college is a matter of being who we say we are and sticking to it, and depending on the Lord for guidance and resources.

Amen. May his Memory be eternal.

 


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