I am sure that there are many issues on which the Rev. Lillian Daniel and I would not exactly see eye-to-eye. But hats off to the pastor at the First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, Illinois for confronting the "I am spiritual but not religious" approach to the life of faith. Here is a recent interview she did with NPR. (h/t to David Gibson at Commonweal)
This article in yesterday's New York Times about the political forces surrounding the issue of secularization in Israeli politics was fascinating. Turns out it is not only Catholics in the U.S. that are navigating the issue of how religion and political culture intersect and, indeed, in Israel all such issues have an urgency because of that country's need for political unity in the face of its external threats. See any parallels to the U.S.?
The Africa Faith & Justice Network will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion, they are having a big event at the University of Notre Dame at the beginning of March, with Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace giving the keynote. I wrote about this group in the print edition of NCR here.
When you see "The Catholic Church" and "Women" in the same headline, you usually expect something to do with reproduction or women's ordination. But, this article at Millennial, looks at the role Catholic schools can play in combating some of the truly demeaning forces that are directed at young women in today's hyper-sexualized, hyper-commercialized, and hyper-commercially sexualized culture.
Yesterday, I set out the core of my economic argument against the proposition that the free market is adequate to care for the poor, an argument that was defended by Father Robert Sirico in our debate Monday night at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Today I turn to the ethical problems with the argument. (I had thought to include the deeper theological problems, but that is best left for tomorrow or this will be an overly long post.)
I have an apology to make. In last night's debate, we were discussing secularization in the West. I was making the obvious point that such a complex phenomenon as secularization could not be attributed in any facile way to the growth of the modern welfare state. After all, in 1789, there was no Medicare. And, in 1929, Walter Lippmann published "A Preface to Morals," in which he wrote of the "acids" of modernity which not only attacked particular beliefs, but the disposition to believe itself, four years before the New Deal.
Regular readers will know of the profound admiration I have for Leon Wieseltier and for his writings. His article at The New Republic this morning challenges some of President Obama's foreign policy inclinations as well as those of Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel. The key sentences: "The merit of a view owes nothing to the biography of the individual who holds it, even if it confers a certain pathos. A chest full of medals hardly denotes a brain full of truths."
Last night, I debated Father Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute. The event was sponsored by the St. Thomas Aquinas Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a lovely college town set into edge of the Rocky Mountains and I extend my thanks to our hosts for a lovely event and to Father Sirico for being such an engaging debate partner.
"Morning Briefing" linked to the AP story about a bipartisan group of senators coming forward with the outlines of a proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. I read the Washington Post's account on the flight here to Colorado. This is very good news for several reasons.
Over at RNS, Mark Silk takes issue with my point about not rushing to shout "hypocrite" in the Colorado hospital case in which lawyers for a Catholic Hospital argued that a wrongful death suit on behalf of two unborn children was not recognizable at bar because Colorado law does not recognize unborn children as persons.