Now on the Touchstone Website, Books by Our Editors and Authors
Friday, January 22, 2010, 4:14 PM

Creed and Culture; The Pilgrim's Guide; Inferno; In Defense of Natural Law; The Recovery of the Sacred; Adopted for Life; The Church Impotent; Christ in the Psalms; Darwin on Trial; The Baptized Body; The Jesus Prayer; Figures in the Carpet; Neither Beast Nor God; At War with the Word

What do all of these titles have in common? All are books by Touchstone editors, past and present. Recently compiled and now up on the Touchstone website, you can find this list with these books and many more. Take a minute to browse. It is a diverse selection with many items that I'm sure will interest Touchstone readers.

Don’t Miss the First Issue of the New Year!
Thursday, January 7, 2010, 1:14 PM

 Dont Miss the First Issue of the New Year!

If you sign up today as a subscriber to Touchstone, you will be sure to receive the first issue of the New Year. Every year the first issue of Touchstone is dedicated to the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. It has often been our most important and popular issue of the entire year.

The line-up includes:

"The Audacity of the State" by Douglas Farrow

"Polyamorous Public Policy for Children" by Patrick F. Fagan

"The Transnational Power Grabbers" by Austin Ruse


"For Words at a Loss" by Michael Baum, Andrew & Patricia Kishler

"Mothers in the Line of Fire" by Andrew A. Sicree

And much more. . . .

So sign up here, for this is the last day to subscribe to receive this annual dedication to the family and the sanctity of life.

Notre Dame Conference
Friday, October 23, 2009, 2:13 PM

The Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture will be hosting its 10th annual fall conference, The Summons of Freedom:  Virtue, Sacrifice, and the Common Good from November 12-14, 2009. This conference was born out of the opinions of last years’ participants who attended the flagship conference The Family: Searching for Fairest Love and wanted to expand the discussion on the family.

From their website:

The Summons of Freedom: Virtue, Sacrifice, and the Common Good will reflect upon political and legal questions having to do with the very nature of the political common good, the particular conflicts that arise in trying to achieve it, and the precarious situation of freedom in the democracies of advanced modernity. But we will also welcome inquiries into social structures other than the political ones—such as the arts—in which the virtues may flourish, or which are designed in such a way so to choke off the development of genuine virtue  in favor of ersatz versions. Particular focus will be placed on the analogous forms of virtuous self-discipline and sacrifice required to sustain the human network of common goods.”

 Please click here for the link to more information about the conference and to register.

The Fellowship of St. James will be hosting a table at this worthy conference, so if you attend, come and meet Julie Grisolano and me, Patricia Kushiner.  At the FSJ table you can learn more about the ministry, renew your subscriptions, buy gift subscriptions, and purchase the 2010 St. James Calendar of the Christian Year.  We always enjoy meeting our subscribers and friends!


The St. James 2010 Calendar Is Here
Friday, August 28, 2009, 9:07 AM

 The St. James 2010 Calendar Is Here

Will this coming year be for you just a series of secular events or will it be the Year of Our Lord 2010?

For many years now we have published The St. James Calendar to encourage a deeper appreciation of the Christian year and its message of salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. In its pages we commemorate the life of our Lord and remember his saints, the “great cloud of witnesses.”

Our 11 x 17 wall calendar, filled notes, quotations from the church fathers and 13 classic biblical engravings, is newly expanded to included hundreds of saints from antiquity commemorated on the same dates in Eastern and Western churches.

It is an excellent resource for churches, schools, ministries and home educators, and, most important, it is a reminder of the events of our Lord’s life for your home or office.

It can be a lovely, edifying, and economical gift for family and friends’ birthdays and especially for Christmas.

Our 2010 calendar is now available and is only $11.95, plus shipping. And we do have bulk prices. You can order online by clicking here, by phone at 877-375-7373, or if you have one, by mail with our order form.

Don’t Miss the New Issue of Touchstone
Friday, August 28, 2009, 8:41 AM

 Dont Miss the New Issue of Touchstone  Don't miss the new September/October issue of Touchstone!

If you subscribe by September 10th this will be your first issue, so hurry if you don't want to miss this line up:

Kosovo Lost & Found:
A Visit to Old Serbia in Search of Its (Muslim?) Future by Patrick Henry Reardon

Regensburg Left Behind: Christians Responding to Muslims Haven't Been Listening to Benedict XVI by J. Daryl Charles

The World, the Jew & the Christian: Tales of Assimilation & Faithful Resistance by Edward Hadas

Communiqué: A Report from Cyprus on a Christian Meeting about Islam
Anthony Esolen: Education & the Lord’s House

Ken Myers's Contours of Culture series: Art & Idolatry
Marilyn Prever on Science Fictions & Random Quantum Fluctuations
Anthony Esolen & the Editors on False Marriages
Mark T. Mitchell: Can Homeschoolers Avoid Being Odd?
Daniel Boerman: Feeling "Dry"? You're Not Alone
Louis Markos reviews Tim Keller's The Reason for God

and more. . . .

Sign up here today!

Come See Us at the Penner Forum
Monday, August 24, 2009, 12:07 PM

In what sense are (Roman) Catholics Evangelical and Evangelical (Protestants) Catholic? And assuming that we can agree upon an answer, what difference does it make for the millions of people–among them family members, neighbors, spouses, co-workers, professors, and classmates–who relate to each other across the Catholic/Protestant divide?

These questions will be addressed in the annual Penner Forum on Thursday, September 3, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. in Edman Chapel on the campus of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. It is free and open to the public. For more information please call 630-668-0878.

Representing the Protestant side will be Dr. Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School and Executive Editor of Christianity Today.Representing the Roman Catholic side will be Dr. Francis Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University and author of Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic. Chris Castaldo, pastor and author of Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic, will moderate.

The Fellowship of St. James will have a table at this forum, so if you attend, come and meet us! At our table you can learn more about us, renew your subscriptions, buy gift subscriptions, and purchase the 2010 St. James Calendar of the Christian Year. We always enjoy meeting our subscribers and all who have an interest in our mission for Christ, Creed and Culture. 

The Unanswered Question
Saturday, November 12, 2005, 4:01 PM

There is no gentler and more humane exponent of the full-bore Darwinian understanding of nature than E.O. Wilson, and Harvard Magazine has published a precis of his philosophy, which also serves as an introduction to his latest book, From So Simple a Beginning: The Four Great Books of Charles Darwin. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Professor Wilson at a dinner event in his honor at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, just after the appearance of his book Consilience, and I thought him one of the most delightful and sweet-natured gentlemen I’ve ever met. If one were to take the measure of Darwinian orthodoxy strictly by his genial countenance, there would be no contest.

That said, though, he was not very persuasive that evening, to me or to anyone else in the room, nor is he very persuasive in this article, whenever he extends his net beyond his areas of unquestioned competence, into questions of religion and psychology and history. Among other odd things here, Wilson insists that the effort to achieve rapprochement between science and religion is not only futile, but wholly undesirable. Why? Because "there is something deep in religious belief that divides people and amplifies societal conflict," and only a frankly atheistic form of "scientific humanism" is compatible with the way we now live, and capable of providing an "antidote" to the "toxic mix of religion and tribalism."

Well, one can only say that such statements are as vast as they are unoriginal. You’d have thought such an intelligent man might have wondered whether the assertion that religions are uniquely productive of social division might be, at best, an example of the logical fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc, and that a man of science (particularly a sociobiologist, who believes in the biological functionality of cultural institutions) might have felt prompted to provide some empirical evidence for it. But this does not seem to cross his mind here. He does concede that the historical religions may have had some useful effects in giving rise to ideals of altruism and generosity. But the price has become too high, and the benefits too few. "Can scientific humanism do as well or better, at a lower cost?" asks Wilson. You expect to hear a ringing endorsement next. But instead, to his great credit, Wilson says this: "Surely that ranks as one of the great unanswered questions of philosophy."

And for this uncertainty, he expects the human race to sacrifice its chief sources of cohesion, of laws and mores, of altruistic behaviors, of rites lending solemnity to the passages of life, of comfort to the anxious and afflicted, of social identity and purpose–in short, to cut itself off from the chief source of its entire civilized past? That is a lot to ask, for the sake of an "unanswered question."

Which leads to another oddity about his exposition. He offers scientific humanism as the alternative to the two great fallacies: God-centered religion and atheistic communism. The interest, of course, is in the latter, because one might have thought that Marxism-Leninism’s scientific materialism and Wilson’s scientific materialism would be regarded as more alike than different. But Wilson chooses to distinguish them solely by the fact of Marxism-Leninism’s acceptance of a tabula rasa view of human nature, unlike the sociobiological view that we have a fully wired human nature, though one "self-assembled" through millions of years of natural selection.

But this differentiation, while it serves to separate Wilson from some admittedly nasty company, does not really go to the heart of what is most lacking in any materialist view of nature. The thing that the materialist cannot explain is where and how, in his vision of things, and absent the banished traditions of religion, we can find plausible ground for a belief in the dignity of the human person, and ground it in a sturdy enough way to resist the growing instrumentalization of life, and the frighteningly posthuman prospects that science now has brought within our reach.

The move of distinguishing "scientific humanism" from Marxian communism (and without quite mentioning Nazism, which certainly had a fully wired sociobiological view of human nature) is very clever, but it assumes a great deal. Above all, it takes for granted the possibility of liberal institutions that are founded upon respect for the dignity of the individual, a respect that in turn has never existed apart from the cultural presence of the religious traditions he now feels prepared to discard because their price has become "too high." And then he stares in wonder at the fact that half of Americans do not want to believe in evolution of any kind. This does not seem so hard to understand.

I am agnostic myself about whether "intelligent design" will prove to be as radical and transformative an innovation as some believe. (Just on a practical level, I think it will have a great deal of difficulty in ever generating a robust research program, which is the sine qua non of practical science.) But I am certain that Wilson’s brand of scientism will not be winning many more hearts and minds that it already has won. Science, by its very nature, does not tell us a thing about how to use rightly the powers it places in our hands. Indeed, the question as to whether science can provide us with such moral guidance, in and of itself, is not really an unanswered one. 

Charles al-Windsor
Saturday, October 29, 2005, 8:44 PM

Several readers of Mere Comments have taken strong exception to my recent negative characterization of Charles, Prince of Wales, occasioned by his pronouncements upon the subject of "climate change." They are of course entitled to their opinions, and I’ve been much stimulated by their lively responses. I wonder, though, how they will feel about his equally expert pronouncements on the subject of Islam, and American "intolerance" of it. We are, it is promised, going to be hearing a lot from the Prince about this, and Lord knows what else, over the next week or so. Perhaps he will inform us about what we should do on the question of embryonic stem-cell research too, while he’s at it. And I’ll bet he’s got some great ideas for Social Security reform. And the estate tax! He’s a natural for that one! I for one am willing to put up with it all, if only for the sake of the Mark Steyn columns that I know will come of it. But valiant defenders of the Prince may want to…um…sheathe their swords for a while.

P.S. After writing this, I discovered this, by kindred spirit Jed Babbin. He too is looking for the Steyn column. Mark, are you hearing this? Your public clamors for you….

P.P.S. I hope the Prince will be up to speed on things like this, and this. But I’m sure he knows ALL about that stuff….

Some Low-Hanging Fruit
Friday, October 28, 2005, 1:00 AM

Now this is rich. Prince Charles has cleared his lengthy throat and announced to the world (or at any rate, to the BBC) that the thing he most cares about, the thing that "really worries" him, is climate change. What a fine fellow, to have such high-minded concerns. And here we thought he was nothing more than an insufferable and terminably inconsequential playboy. But why has he suddenly decided to speak out? Because, he told the BBC, "he did not want his future grandchildren to ask why he had not acted over the issue."

I know the Prince will forgive me for saying so, but aren’t there other things his grandchildren may want to ask him about? Why, they may well ask, did he do so much to undermine the institutions of family and marriage in his society, and the fundamental decencies attached to those institutions, by humiliating those children’s paternal grandmother before the world, and carrying on openly with another woman not his wife? Why, they may wonder, did he put the needs of his gonads before the needs of his wife, his children, his family, and the nation? We were just wondering, grandfather….And they may also wonder–just what gives him the right to lecture the world about anything at all? 

I’m sure there is a sociologist more clever than I who has come up with a better term for the technique the Prince is employing here. I merely call it the art of "rehabilitation through moral up-trading." This is the classic strategem by which the morally stigmatized think to redeem themselves on the cheap. Instead of repenting for their sins and living a more humble and chastened life, they seek to subsume their sins under the rubric of some infinitely vaster, more idealistic, more abstract, and more impressive cause. Far from being an act of self-mortification, it is a sign of pride, merely the continuation of self-aggrandizement by other means. To say so is to say nothing about the substantive merits of the Prince’s cause. But it does say something about whether he brings credit to the cause–or whether instead the cause is meant to bring credit to him.

Eradicating the Disabled
Tuesday, October 18, 2005, 9:14 AM

The very appearance of this article, entitled "The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have," is an indication of why the Washington Post, for all its faults, is a far better and more interesting paper than the increasingly hopeless New York Times, which would never have run such an article.

The author, mother of a Down’s syndrome child, points to the fact that today nearly all children diagnosed in utero with Down’s syndrome are aborted—upwards of 90 percent. Moreover, she senses that the "right" to abort has become, increasingly, regarded as a social and moral duty. She recounts hearing a "director of an Ivy League ethics program," who stated "that prospective parents have a moral obligation to undergo prenatal testing and to terminate their pregnancy to avoid bringing forth a child with a disability, because it was immoral to subject a child to the kind of suffering he or she would have to endure." A statement that instantly raises the no-longer-amusing-or-hypothetical prospect of "wrongful life" litigation, directed at mothers who "choose life." Unstated, but clearly lurking beneath the surface, is a certain moral indignancy toward those who would presume to inflict such children upon the rest of us.

The author concludes, logically enough, that "there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families." Her stories also suggest that they would rather not have to encounter such freaks in public settings, or be responsible for any of the expense or trouble associated with their care.

Especially interesting, and entirely believable, is this passage:

Many young women, upon meeting us, have asked whether I had "the test." I interpret the question as a get-home-free card. If I say no, they figure, that means I’m a victim of circumstance, and therefore not implicitly repudiating the decision they may make to abort if they think there are disabilities involved. If yes, then it means I’m a right-wing antiabortion nut whose choices aren’t relevant to their lives.

I myself recall having a conversation with a Down’s syndrome adult man, who noted the disparity between Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s well-publicized support for the Special Olympics, and his equally well-known insistence that no woman should have to bear the indignity of a "defective" or unwanted child. "I may be slow," this man observed, "but I am not stupid. Does he think that people like me can’t understand what he really thinks of us? That we are not really wanted? That it would be a better world if we didn’t exist?"

And wasn’t this man right in believing that this exactly what so many of our fellow Americans actually think?

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