A Fast for the Feast
Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 10:16 AM

Screen Shot 2015 02 18 at 10.14.41 AM A Fast for the FeastFrom the upcoming issue of Touchstone (March/April 2015).

A Fast for the Feast
Anthony Esolen on the hymn Audi, benigne Conditor by Pope Gregory the Great

We are a Resurrection People,” say the bishops of the Catholic Church in Canada, and therefore we will keep kneeling at Mass to the barest minimum. “We are a Resurrection People,” said the priests and theologians in my youth, and therefore we will not have priests wear black for funerals, and we will replace the crucifix above the sanctuary with the risen Christ free-floating from the Cross behind. When I was a small boy, we were required to fast from the previous midnight before we received Communion. Now, we Catholics are required to “fast” one hour before, and since one hour is about what it takes to get in the car, drive to church, get settled there, and hear Mass before Communion, all that it means, practically, is that we aren’t to be munching on cookies in the pews. I suppose that that, too, is because “We are a Resurrection People,” so, although we may not be a Grammar People or a Scripture People or an Obedience People, we can indulge the body as we please. It’s only the body, after all.

continue reading…

More Lenten reading from the Touchstone online archive.

The Greatest Drama Ever
On Reading Dorothy Sayers’s Play Cycle for Lent
by Gilbert Meilaender

The Making of Lent
On the Origins of the (More or Less) Forty-Day Fast
by William J. Tighe

Life in the Fast Lane
How to Fight for the Body While Forgetting About Ourselves
by Adam A. J. DeVille

Mere Links 02.13.15
Friday, February 13, 2015, 10:41 AM

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Economy of Love
by Jordan J. Ballor
When I consider the state of the world, the total obscurity enshrouding our personal destiny, and my present imprisonment, our union—if it wasn’t frivolity, which it certainly wasn’t—can only be a token of God’s grace and goodness, which summon us to believe in him. We would have to be blind not to see that. . . .

Did Stephen Fry’s passionate denunciation of God make sense?
by J. Fraser Field
A two-minute outburst became a YouTube sensation.

Martin Luther Playmobil Toy is Fastest-Selling of All Time
by Felicity Capon
Astronomical sales of a tiny figurine of the Protestant reformation figure Martin Luther, have confounded its maker, Playmobil, by becoming the fastest-selling Playmobil figure of all time. . . .

Is Theology Practical?
Friday, February 6, 2015, 12:00 PM

Lopez: Is theology ever practical, really?

Kreeft: Theology is always practical because nothing is more practical than living in reality, living in the real world, and God is the origin, center, end, and meaning of reality. If that’s not true, let’s be pagans, atheists, or TV executives.

This comes from a recent interview at NRO with Peter Kreeft regarding his new book Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas. I have recently been enjoying his book Socrates Meets Kierkegaard: The Father of Philosophy Meets the Father of Christian Existentialism and am looking forward to Dr. Kreeft’s latest work.

New Touchstone readers will be interested to know that we published an article by him in the November/December 2012 issue.

Clashing Symbols
The Loss of Aristotelian Logic & the Social, Moral & Sexual Consequences by Peter Kreeft

When I started teaching logic, in 1962, most of the textbooks taught traditional Aristotelian logic rather than the (then still fairly new) “symbolic logic,” also called “mathematical logic” or “propositional calculus.” Forty years later, there are only two full-length texts of traditional Aristotelian logic in print. One of them is my own recently published logic textbook, Socratic Logic (St. Augustine’s Press), from which much of the middle part of this article is taken. All the other logic texts, over 500 of them, teach symbolic logic, or else informal logic (rhetoric).

By the 1970s, most of the English-speaking philosophical establishment had cast in its lot with “analytic philosophy” and the symbolic logic that was its methodological complement. I still vividly remember the reaction of outrage, fear, and loathing that came from that establishment when Henry Veatch published his attack on the new logic (The Two Logics). The book was a bit verbose, bombastic, and intemperate, but it possessed the three most important (and most rare) qualities any book of philosophy should have: it was interesting, it was rational, and it was right. That’s why the establishment “went postal.” People will forgive you for being wrong, but they will never forgive you for being right.

But this change in logic is not just a technical, in-house issue for philosophers. It concerns everyone, and it has serious social, moral, and even sexual implications, and it is one of the unrecognized indirect causes of “the culture of death,” as I shall try to show in this article.

continue reading . . .

Mere Links 02.06.15
Friday, February 6, 2015, 9:00 AM

Do we really want to restrict the medical profession to doctors who are willing to kill?
by Wesley J. Smith
The culture of death brooks no dissent.

Carl Djerassi, father of the pill, dies
by Carolyn Moynihan
Did he ever doubt the wisdom of the contraceptive revolution?

Vaccines and Aborted Human Fetal Tissue
by Justin Smith and Joe Carter

Death of a Prisoner
By Nina Shea
Bishop Shi, 94, was a Christian martyr in Communist China.

Civilization in the Balance
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 9:57 AM

Screen Shot 2015 02 05 at 9.55.20 AM 205x300 Civilization in the BalanceRecommended reading from the Touchstone archives: An Interview with Michael Nazir-Ali (Bishop of Rochester from 1994 – 2009). After a short introduction–and a quote from Winston Churchill–it begins:

Rory Fitzgerald (RF): Do you believe that Christian civilization is in peril now, as in 1940?

Michael Nazir-Ali (MNA): I used to speak of a moral and spiritual vacuum that was created by the catastrophic loss of discourse in terms of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in the public place. I think that vacuum is now giving way to a hostility to the Judaeo-Christian worldview, in terms of family, respect for the beginning stages of life, and respect for the end of life.

I am pursuing a twin track on this: On the one hand, you have to uphold the Judaeo-Christian tradition as a basis for making the most important moral decisions that need to be made: just-war criteria, ethical decisions on the dignity of the human person and family.

At same time, I am conscious that if present trends continue, we need another strategy, which is the Alasdair MacIntyre strategy, which is what happened in the last Dark Age, when Christian communities preserved the gospel learning, and a kind of humanism, so that there were lights in the darkness. I think it would be wise for the churches also to build strong moral and spiritual communities that can survive and flourish in the darkness, and indeed attract other people to themselves.

Read the entire article here.

Mere Links 02.04.15
Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 2:35 PM

Has the Catholic Church Changed Its Teaching on Sex and Marriage?
by Robert P. George
Amid reports of “earthquakes” and “seismic” shifts, we ought to remember the Catholic Church’s moral teachings in their wholeness, which have not shifted.

The Persecution of Gordon College
by David French
Traditional Christian education is under attack.

Creating three-parent embryos is eugenics – sadly, British MPs don’t get it
by Laura Keynes
They have voted 3 to 1 to go down that path.

Super Bowl and Sermonizing
with John Mark Reynolds
On the “preachy commercials” during the Super Bowl and has a message for those of us who tend to be overly serious.

On Objectification and Brother Ass
Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 11:51 AM

ass 300x179 On Objectification and Brother AssFrom the archives. An insightful observation about pornography as “objectification.” From Touchstone senior editor Anthony Esolen.

There are two deeper problems with that business about “objectification.” The first is simple. Where does it say that objectification is always wrong?

Consider what goes on when we engage in broad humor. A great deal of our laughter arises from the embarrassment of having to cart this body around, this Brother Ass, as St. Francis affectionately called it. There is a humility in physical humor: You allow yourself to be reduced to an object, a sack of potatoes, a lumpy thing with a wobbling center of gravity; Jackie Gleason like an elephant a-tiptoe, roaring and shaking his hammered thumb, or Lucille Ball wrestling with a contadina in a vat of grapes. Bawdy humor—which may be risky yet quite innocent too—also depends upon the humble object.

I think of the merriment of old-fashioned country songsters drunkenly hallooing and waking the poor bridegroom and bride in the middle of the night. Even in the playfulness of lovemaking there’s a delight not simply in the soul of one’s spouse, but in that good old lumpiness, the physicality, the downright tool-ishness. Innocent Adam and Eve surely would not always have thought about souls. Three cheers, then, for objects!

Well, I know that everything depends upon what that object is and what we are doing with it. And I know that what begins as bawdy may grow obscene, and obscenity has its own devils waiting to snap you up. But let’s be clear about our objects here. Porn is rarely bawdy; there is no good laughter in it. Laughter might dispel the fascination. The object the user views may be grotesque, but it is not meant to be silly.

And that brings us to the second problem. The pornographic image is not that of the human being reduced to an object. If only it were! For that would be less diabolical. It is instead that of the human being raised to an object: an idol. Watch the eyes of someone in the sin’s grip. Note the blank staring stupor. You are in the presence not of brutish violence but of stultifying idolatry; not a reveling in the body but an eerie flight from it.

Read the entire article here: XXX-Communicated: Anthony Esolen on Why Pornography Is Not the Sin We Say It Is

Biographical Articles from the Touchstone Online Archives
Monday, February 2, 2015, 3:04 PM

Put together for your reading pleasure:

The Business of Spiritual Man
The Role of Christianity in Peter Drucker‘s Early Work
by Hunter Baker

The Medium Is the Mediator
The Christian Humanism of Marshall McLuhan
by James E. Person, Jr.

Detectives of Significance
Sherlock Holmes, Umberto Eco & the Search for Meaning
by Louis Markos

Requiem for a Nixon Man
The Redemption of Charles Colson‘s Loyalty
by Russell D. Moore

Lost & Found In the Cosmos
The Alternate & Alternative Worlds of H. P. Lovecraft & C. S. Lewis
by C. R. Wiley

The Christian Novelty
What Homer Could Not See, & Jane Austen Could
by Peter J. Leithart

Touchstone Senior Editor Robert P. George in Chicago January 31
Friday, January 30, 2015, 11:24 AM

Saturday, January 31

Speak Out Illinois 2015–Life: Worth Fighting For

Keynote Speaker
Professor Robert P. George
Princeton University
Bearing Faithful Witness to Life & Facing Persecution

Robert P. George lectures on constitutional law, civil liberties, and philosophy of law at Princeton University, where he is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence. George also serves as the director of Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. A native of West Virginia, George holds his JD and MTS from Harvard’s Law and Divinity Schools and his DPhil from Oxford University.

In November of 2009, George helped draft the Manhattan Declaration, which urges the church to defend life, marriage, and family and religious freedom. In 2012 Dr. George was appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In the past, he has served as a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Register online at speakoutillinois.org or fill out this registration form.
Contact Lake County RTL:
or 847-223-7022

$55 prior to January 23, 2015
$65 after January 23, 2015
$25 Student Rate

Read Dr. George’s latest article in Touchstone–From the May/June 2014 issue:

Religious Freedom & Why It Matters
Working in the Spirit of John Leland
by Robert P. George

Mere Links 02.01.15
Friday, January 30, 2015, 9:00 AM

Sociologists: ‘Christianophobia,’ Anti-Christian Hostility Infects Powerful Elite Subculture (Interview)

Another aspect that drove me to work on this project was that while I consistently saw evidence of Christianophobia in other areas of my life and in our society, unlike other types of intolerances, those who exhibited Christianophobia do not tend to think that they are intolerant. Usually those who do not like blacks or Muslims admit that they are intolerant but simply try to justify their intolerance. Those with Christianophobia tend to deny that they are intolerant but rather that they are fairly interpreting social reality. Envisioning themselves as fair and free of intolerance allows them to blame those they detest rather than recognize how their emotions have distorted their intellectual judgments.

How Dark Were the Dark Ages? A video with Anthony Esolen for Prager University

Obama Admin Forced to Pay $570,000 to Company It Tried to Force to Obey HHS Mandate

“The government does a serious disservice to taxpayers when it pursues unjust laws that force many of them to defend their constitutionally protected freedoms,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman told LifeNews.com. “While this case is finally over, many others remain. We hope the administration will stop defending its indefensible abortion-pill mandate and end its waste of taxpayer dollars on a fruitless quest to force people to give up their freedom to live and work according to their beliefs.”

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