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Kaveny's Reading List

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There are few Catholic academics I admire more than Notre Dame's Cathleen Kaveny. Her writings combine copious learning with penetrating insights and good prose. She has an eye for the culture that is always on point.

In a blog post at Commonweal, Kaveny calls attention to a recent NYTimes essay and asks why so many people do not encounter or experience religion as "good news" and goes on to ask her readers to suggest what book or books they would recommend to someone who finds Catholicism, and religion generally, not worthy of their consideration. The thread Kaveny has started has some very interesting submissions. Here is mine: Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete's "God at the Ritz," a fun but profound introduction to Catholicism that is a quick read, but one that has anyone inclined to search going deeper than they thought possible and down profoundly orthodox paths too!

So, dear readers, what are your suggestions? Post them here and/or at professor Kaveny's post.

The Gloves Come Off

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The Republican primary contest is nearing its first real battle. The debates have been skirmishes, but as the time approaches when voters get to weigh in, paid media, phone calls, door knocking, and all the other armaments of political combat come into play. And, just so, the gloves come off between the combatants.

Yesterday, the two front runners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich traded barbs. Romney called on Gingrich to return the $1.6 million he received from Freddie Mac, the quasi-public home mortgage lender. Gingrich responded by calling on Romney to return “all the money he’s earned bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years.” This is a debate Gingrich does not want to join: It is a debate he must avoid, but it may be too late.

You know that Gingrich is at least a little embarrassed about having been paid so much money by Freddie Mac because, when the issue first surfaced, he said he had been paid as an “historian.” That is pretty laughable. As Romney said yesterday, “That would make him the highest-paid historian in history.”

B16 v. Tea Party

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It is becoming increasingly obvious how out of set certain U.S. Catholic conservatives are with the Vatican when it comes to economic issues. In this article from Vatican Insider, the Pope is quoted as telling those who run Catholic cooperatives (even the word "cooperatives" must send shivers done the spines of our friends at the Acton Institute) that "The economy and the market must never be separated from solidarity." In Benedict's worldview, an appeal to market forces is not a discussion-ending appeal. Can anyone imagine Mitt "No we can't do anything about foreclosures, we need to let the market run its course" Romney saying such a thing?

Mitt Meets Gay Vet

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You have to love this video, now posted at Politico, which shows Mitt Romney making the rounds of a diner in New Hampshire. He sees two older gentlemen and sits down to join them, noticing that one has a cap that identified himself as a Vietnam Veteran. But, after some banter about their respective ages, the diner asks Romney about gay marriage and the always unflappable Romney begins to squirm: This is not turning out how he expected it to turn out. The older Vietnam Vet is having breakfast with his husband. To his credit, Romney respectfully disagreed with the man, he did not insult him, nor get peevish. But, he sure looks like he wants to run out the door, chastise his advance people, and then crawl out of his own skin.

Mitt Meets Gay Vet

 | 

You have to love this video, now posted at Politico, which shows Mitt Romney making the rounds of a diner in New Hampshire. He sees two older gentlemen and sits down to join them, noticing that one has a cap that identified himself as a Vietnam Veteran. But, after some banter about their respective ages, the diner asks Romney about gay marriage and the always unflappable Romney begins to squirm: This is not turning out how he expected it to turn out. The older Vietnam Vet is having breakfast with his husband. To his credit, Romney respectfully disagreed with the man, he did not insult him, nor get peevish. But, he sure looks like he wants to run out the door, chastise his advance people, and then crawl out of his own skin.

\"War on Religion?\"

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I called attention last week to Rick Perry's ad in which he charges President Obama with conducting a "war on religion." Below, I print the text of the President's remarks at the annual "Christmas in Washington" concert last night. Tell me, Gov. Perry, is this what a war on religion looks and sounds like?

7:31 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Good evening. Thank you. Thank you. Everybody, please, have a seat.
Good evening, everybody. I just want to start by thanking all the folks who have joined us at the National Building Museum. Let’s give it up for our host, who also happens to be the host of the best late night show on TBS, Conan O’Brien. (Laughter and applause.) And I want to thank all the spectacular artists and choirs and glee clubs who have made this such a spectacular evening. Please give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

A Shameful Slur Against Fr. Curran

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In this morning's Real Clear Religion, Mark Judge has an article, unbiasedly titled "How Catholic University Rid Itself of Father Curran." (N.B. My use of the adverb "unbiasedly" should be read a drenched in derision.)

That article, among other flaws, contains this sentence: "Something of a con man and obviously obsessed with sex, he made the authorities at Catholic University look like doddering saps."

I had Father Curran as a professor in 1986. He was, hands down, the toughest, most demanding professor I had. I did not always agree with his views, but he was a wonderful professor. When he finished his lecture on Lutheran ethics, you were convinced that the last words on ethics had been stated. Until the next week when, presenting class ic Thomistic teachings on ethics, you understood that they had rendered the last word on ethics. He had that gift, essential but increasingly rare in the modern academy, of being able to sympathetically present views other than his own.

More Thoughts on Plan B

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The controversy continues surrounding Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius’s decision not to make Plan B, the morning after pill, available to girls under the age of seventeen without a prescription. As I noted last week, critics of the decision espouse a new religion, scientism, and believe that anything the high priests of the laboratory conclude is safe and effective must be just fine.

Jones on Gingrich and Evangelicals

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Robert P. Jones, of the Public Religion Reserach Institute, looks the evangelical attitudes towards the candidacy of Newt Gingrich, the gender differences among evangelicals on the issue of marital infideltity and, critically, the need for Gingrich to consistently work in his redemption narrative if he wants to win over evangelical voters. Jones' analysis is, per usual and as expected, spot-on and highly instructive.

And, you have to love the quote from Pastor Jeffress: "I think there’s now an evangelical tri-lemma. Do you vote for a Mormon who’s had one wife, a Catholic who’s had three wives, or an Evangelical who may have had an entire harem?" Jeffress made his remarks before Cain dropped out, but it is more than a little ironic, is it not, that the candidate with one wife is the Mormon.

Is This Really a \"Catholic Issue\"?

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Over at the Christian Post, Napp Nazworth makes the case that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was trying to help the administration secure the Catholic vote by deciding not to allow girls as young as 11 to access Plan B without a prescription. It is true that the USCCB applauded the decision, but this has not been at the top of their agenda. The decision had less to do with the Catholic vote than it had to do with the parent vote. As the President said yesterday in his comments on the decision, this was a victory for common sense.

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