Peter Singer is not someone one would call a natural conversation partner for a Catholic moral theologian. He supports abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, to cite only a few glaring differences of opinion. But, Fordham’s Charles Camosy is not your typical Catholic moral theologian. He is one of a new breed of Catholic scholars, one of the founders of the Catholic Conversation Project about which I wrote Wednesday, who responds to the Second Vatican Council’s call to discern the signs of the times without making two obvious fatal mistakes: first, conflating discernment with adoption of the norms of the ambient culture and, second, discerning the signs of the times and concluding that engagement is a fool’s errand. Camosy’s engagement is critical and learned, there is not a whiff of defensiveness nor of triumphalism, and the results are surprising. That engagement has issued in a new book, "Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization."
As a metaphor, "when lightning strikes" indicates rarity. As an actual fact, when a real bolt of lightning makes a direct hit on one's house, it is more of a pain in the neck. Especially when you are in a part of rural America where one's internet connection is a dial-up!
I am taking this rare event as a sign from God that I need another day off from blogging. Besides, I find it well nigh to impossible to write while sitting at a noisy Starbucks. But, I will call readers' attention to three articles that should not be missed.
First, Maria Mazzenga has a post up at Religion & Politics contrasting Paul Ryan and Msgr. John A. Ryan. Full Disclosure: Maria is a fellow Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at CUA and I am on the editorial advisory board at R & P, so I admit an affinity for both author and publisher. But, the article is a learned and thoughful essay that I would recommend if I knew neither.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan has responded ably to those who have begun criticizing his decision to invite both President Obama and Governor Romney to the Al Smith dinner. In addition to Dolan's call for civility, I would add the concern that conservatives - of all people - should recognize that events like the Al Smith Dinner demonstrate, in a concrete way, the limits of politics. Dolan hints at this in pointing out that the event is about raising money for charity and promoting civility in our national life. I would go further and recommend readers consult Jean Bethke Ehlstain's "Augustine and the Limits of Politics." Even a politician does not exhaust his humanity in his politics.
I am quite sure Cardinal Dolan has not heard the last from the parallel magisterium at LifeSiteNews, the America Life League, et al. I am waiting to hear Cardinal Burke suggest Dolan is acting at the behest of the father of lies!
This story is a couple of days old, but it is a perennial really. Conservative champion David Barton - a best-selling evangelical author and frequent guest of Glenn Beck - published a book called "The Jefferson Lies" in which he contended that Jefferson was a sort of closet orthodox Christian. Now, his publisher, a conservative Christian publisher obviously, has nonetheless pulled the book because it is - surprise, surprise - filled with inaccuracies. The effort to baptize the American Founding is a deeply misguided project (so, too, the effort to deny the religiosity of many if not most Americans at the time of the founding) and while Barton's book may be the most egregious example, there are others.
The National Catholic Register's Pat Archbold has a post up that is at least more forthright than Cong. Paul Ryan's efforts to invoke the social magisterium of the Church even while undermining it. Atchbold writes, "The Bishops Were Wrong." Okay then. Archbold gets points for clarity, but his reasoning is ridiculous - is it really the case that our nation can't afford to keep programs that assist the poor going, yes with increases necessitated by inflation and population growth, to say nothing of the fact that we are in a recession, or is it the case that wealthy men like Archbold don't want their taxes to go up to pay for it?
Just back from the Catholic Conversation Project, a gathering of young theologians who started meeting at Fordham three years ago with the hope of transcending the facile and unproductive categories of left v. right that have unhappily migrated from the political sphere into the Catholic world. The shrill histrionics on all sides that surrounded Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to receive an honorary degree prompted the formation of the group, which started with young theologians at Fordham and has grown to include theologians from across the country. They now meet through the generous support of Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, and the meeting is held at a retreat center owned by BC, the former St. Stephen’s Priory in Dover, Massachusetts.
Politico has two articles of note on the Ryan pick.
This one looks at his love-hate, mostly love, relationship with Ayn Rand.
This one looks at the Catholic vote in light of the Ryan selection.
Note To Readers: I am about to head up to Boston for the meeting of young theologians, the Catholic Conversation Project. They do not have wifi at the retreat center where the meetings are held, so I will not be posting again until Wednesday morning. Enjoy the break - I shall!
Last week, Ed Mechmann published an item at the blog of the Archdiocese of New York defending Cardinal Timothy Dolan's decision to invite both President Obama and Gov. Romney to the annual Al Smith dinner. Check out the comment section. Cardinal Dolan can now join Cardinal Wuerl and Cardinal O'Malley as one deemed insufficiently pro-life by the Scatenato Brigade. The venom is truly shocking. (h/t Rocco)
Already, the entry of Congressman Paul Ryan onto the national stage is generating some interesting debates within the Catholic world and within the political commentariat. It seems to me that three issues are brought into greater focus by the selection of Ryan, although hoping for intellectual clarity on those issues during a political campaign may be hoping for the proverbial bridge too far. But, here goes.
Mitt Romney’s choice of Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate is electrifying. But, electricity is dangerous at times and, in this instance, Ryan is standing in a pool of watery dissent from Catholic Social Teaching that has existed on the Catholic right for some time.