Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 2:20 PM
From the Touchstone Archives. This has been one of the more popular articles on the Touchstone website as of late. Obviously, the theme is a concern for many. I’ve pasted some excerpts below, but you really should read the entire article.
Robbie Low on the Importance of Fathers to Churchgoing
. . .
“In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey that the researchers for our masters in Europe (I write from England) were happy to record. The question was asked to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”
. . .
“In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.”
. . .
“The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father’s influence, from the determination of a child’s sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society.”
. . .
“Nor are these conclusions a matter of simple disagreement between warring parties in a divided church. The figures are in and will continue to come in. The churches are losing men and, if the Swiss figures are correct, are therefore losing children. You cannot feminize the church and keep the men, and you cannot keep the children if you do not keep the men.”
Monday, August 18, 2014, 11:45 AM
Mary Elizabeth Podles teaches us about La Disputa by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael), and identifies the pillars of the Judeo / Christian faith that are depicted…
In 1503, Julius II acceded to the papacy as the reform candidate after the notoriously bad Alexander VI. He came to the papacy with ambitious political plans and a far-reaching foreign policy, as well as a large-scale program for patronage of the arts. The old Basilica of St. Peter had developed alarming cracks. Julius, never an indecisive man, ordered it to be pulled down and commissioned a bold new design from the architect Bramante. In addition, Bramante was to redesign and expand the papal palace so that the Vatican presented a modern, unified Renaissance whole.
Julius was also a man of strong prejudices. So much did he despise his predecessor that he refused to occupy the same apartments and ordered the renovation and decoration of a completely new set for himself. Among the artists he hired for the job was a young man from Bramante’s hometown of Urbino, the 25-year-old Raphael. He came in 1508, but such was his talent that in 1509 he was put in charge of the decorative scheme of the whole first room, the Stanza della Segnatura, and produced the astonishing Disputa.
A Portrait of the Church
Nothing like it had been seen before; to date, it was the largest complex of figures in fresco ever created, a Cecil B. DeMille crowd carefully managed and grouped in rhythms and accords that make a rational and coherent, readable whole.
read the rest…
Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 9:51 AM
Here is an article from then next issue of Touchstone (Sept/Oct 2014) by Rachel Lu. The issue mails out in a week or so.
Food for Thought
Rachel Lu on Growing Vegetables as a Primer in Moral Philosophy
I came late to the world of gardening. I had never grown so much as a radish until marriage and motherhood deposited me in a small, fenced backyard with an energetic toddler. At first I whiled away the hours reflecting on the academic papers I wasn’t writing. When that became torture, I used physical labor as a distraction, pulling the weeds and clearing the overgrown beds. This left me with muddy, empty spaces that demanded to be filled. Before long, I found myself wandering through garden centers and investigating plant nurseries. By midsummer, the progress of my backyard plants had become a source of endless enjoyment for me and my son.
Gardening, as I discovered, is a wonderful primer in moral philosophy. It is a clear, tangible, and literally delicious way of experiencing the progression of created beings through their natural lifecycle. A well-tended garden offers resounding, joyful affirmation of the sturdy Aristotelian principle that optimal conditions enable living things to flourish. No one is a moral relativist when fertilizing his tomatoes.
Monday, July 21, 2014, 10:41 AM
I came to Stratford’s work too late, but better late than never. He was one of the few men since Russell Kirk who really knew what a liberal education was all about, and who could show what he saw to others.
There are a few people in the cold Gobi Desert of academe who hold to something like a liberal education because they see its political utility, and they are right to believe that a healthy civilization requires the remembrance of what the wisest among us have had to say about the human condition. They read Thucydides, Petrarch, and Marcus Aurelius for profit.
Stratford Caldecott transcends them all, because, unlike them, he was in love with beauty and goodness, and so he could read and teach others to read Cicero not so much to learn about wise political action, as to learn about being human—or as Kirk puts it, being virtuous, being a man. He would never say that we should read history lest we repeat it, but that we should immerse ourselves in the wonder of creation and of that human creation we call art, so that we might lean towards the divine, as flowers lean towards the sun. In this sense he stands with Plato, Sidney, Johnson, Coleridge, Ruskin, Eliot, Lewis, and Kirk; a worthy battalion, against all the dreary utilitarians who have transformed our schools into ghastly and largely incompetent training centers.
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat super eum.
Touchstone published three of his essays. The first, Speaking the Truths Only the Imagination May Grasp, had been planned as lead essay in a new volume of classic
Touchstone articles, Creed & Culture II. Caldecott was the author of many books; his last: Not As the World Gives.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 2:06 PM
You can read the cover article online:
The Bible, Sacred Theology & the Mind of Christ
by Patrick Henry Reardon
Having been asked to present some reflections on the theme, “What is the Bible?” it seems appropriate to begin this essay with a passage from Sacred Scripture.
Indeed, I want to begin these reflections by analyzing and comparing two passages from the New Testament, one from the second chapter of 1 Corinthians and another from the eleventh chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew. Each of these chapters contains a contrast between the wisdom of fallen man and the wisdom God gives to those who believe in his Son.
Thus, 1 Corinthians 2 takes issue with those Christians at Corinth who boasted of their superior wisdom, which St. Paul was careful to distinguish from the wisdom of God revealed in the Cross. The apostle writes, “We speak the wisdom of God hidden in a mystery, which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Paul goes on to comment, “But the carnal man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
When we turn to Matthew 11, these carnal men, those who do “not receive the things of the Spirit of God,” are the citizens of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, who refused to believe the gospel. Jesus, immediately after pronouncing his “woes” against them, went on to identify their moral problem. His prayer, Matthew indicates, was an “answer” to the previous curse. Jesus prayed, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babies.”
Continue reading >>>
I would also like to encourage those of you who are fans of Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon’s writing on the bible to: 1. read his column “As It Is Written . . . “–found on the last page of each issue of Touchstone– 2. subscribe to his Daily Devotional Guide, and 3. check out his Daily Reflections blog.
Thursday, May 1, 2014, 12:48 PM
What Happens to Apologetics If We Add “Legend” to the Trilemma “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord”?
by Tom Gilson
“He did not leave us that option: he did not intend to.” Thus C. S. Lewis closes out his famous “Trilemma” argument on the impossibility of Jesus being a great moral teacher and nothing more. The argument is beautiful in its simplicity: it calls for no deep familiarity with New Testament theology or history, only knowledge of the Gospels themselves, and some understanding of human nature. A man claiming to be God, says Lewis, could hardly be good unless he really was God. If Jesus was not the Lord, then (to borrow Josh McDowell’s alliterative version of the argument), he must have been a liar or a lunatic.
The questions have changed since Lewis wrote that, though, and it’s less common these days to hear Jesus honored as a great moral teacher by those who doubt his deity. Today’s skepticism runs deeper than that. The skeptics’ line now is that Jesus probably never claimed to be God at all, that the whole story of Jesus, or at least significant portions of it, is nothing more than legend.
Christian apologists have responded with arguments hinging on the correct dates for the composition of the Gospels, the identities of their authors, external corroborating evidence, and the like. All this has been enormously helpful, but one could wish for a more Lewis-like approach to that new l-word, legend—that is, for a way of recognizing the necessary truthfulness of the Gospels from their internal content alone.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 2:16 PM
Dan DeWitt on the Chronicles of Cancer in the Life of C. S. Lewis
“Well, at any rate, we now have less chance of dying of cancer,” quipped C. S. Lewis in response to learning of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, knowing that his own country was on the brink of joining the war. As a World War I veteran, he knew the ugliness of combat. And for a man seldom without a pipe or cigarette, he also understood the risks of cancer. His droll response to the Nazi campaign illustrates that his life was indelibly marked by both war and cancer. And it’s difficult to tell which had the greater impact.
read the rest…
Two more new articles from this issue at touchstonemag.com.
Friday, March 28, 2014, 11:12 AM
Friday, March 21, 2014, 1:42 PM
From the March/April 2014 issue of Touchstone.
The Rights of Aphrodite
W. E. Knickerbocker on C. S. Lewis & the New State Paganism
In the essay “We Have No ‘Right To Happiness,’” C. S. Lewis tells his readers of a conversation he had with a woman who was one of his neighbors. The subject of the discussion was two neighbor couples, Mr. and Mrs. A and Mr. and Mrs. B. Mr. A had divorced Mrs. A to marry Mrs. B, who had divorced Mr. B. Mrs. A’s looks were not what they once were, one cause of which was the number of children she had borne to Mr. A. Mr. B had been disabled in the war and was out of a job. The neighbor with whom Lewis was having the conversation justified these divorces and the remarriage by saying that Mr. A and Mrs. B “had a right to happiness.”
Lewis says the neighbor who justified this behavior was “rather leftist” in her politics and a teetotaler, who would certainly not approve of a ruthless businessman whose happiness consisted in making money or of an alcoholic who was happy when he was drunk. Rather, the happiness to which this neighbor said Mr. A and Mrs. B had a right was solely “sexual happiness.” The right to sexual happiness justified breaking vows solemnly made and legally validated.
Friday, January 31, 2014, 9:41 AM
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Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal
of the Apostolic Signatura
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—J. I. Packer
Author, Knowing God