What’s Wrong with Obamacare?

2015-5-28 Obamacare img01G.K. Chesterton was once asked to write a series of essays entitled “What’s Wrong with the World.” He readily admitted the hubris attendant in agreeing to such an assignment but rose to the task with his usual wit and energy. His observations pierce the fog of oft-heard arguments with Chesterton’s unusual vision. Though he never addressed the question of public healthcare specifically, his comments on the political issues of his day can shed a fresh light on the question of Obamacare Continue reading

Art and Faith in the Private Sphere

2015-5-22 Art & Faith img01After the Protestant Reformation shattered the Christian consensus and ended the serene confidence of the Renaissance, the dramatic Baroque style swept Europe. In the Netherlands, religious wars had ravaged the country, so art tended to avoid religious topics. As church patronage declined, however, the Netherlands’s booming economy allowed private citizens to commission art. Rembrandt’s Night Watch reflects the shift towards painting private, secular activity. Meanwhile, Spain remained resolutely Catholic. Spanish painter Velázquez painted genre scenes during the Baroque period, but his work often included subtle religious messages that supported Catholic doctrine. In Las Meninas, he is more concerned with his personal aim to establish himself as a member of the royal household rather than with conveying a religious message. Both group portrait paintings demonstrate the shift in art from religious to secular subjects. Continue reading

An Original Poem

2015-5 Poem img01

Rage! goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
Whose frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Does make cowards of us all, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore –
We bid the good people farewell for a while,
We sailed to many-tower’d Camelot,
Where up and down the people go,
Talking of Michael Angelo, –
Oh the places you’ll go!
And sometimes, through the mirror blue,
The knights come riding two and two –
riding – riding –
the knights come riding two and two,
Up to the old inn door –
Some late visitors entreating entrance
at my chamber door.
(I read, much of the night, and go South in the winter.)

Savory Suggestions

2015-5 Salt img01“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13

Why did Christ use this metaphor to instruct his followers?  Let us consider salt. Scrutinizing those white crystals, we see alternating rows of sodium and chlorine ions, each charged with impressive energy, and yet held in well-disciplined rows. Such precise inner order reflects the proper ordering of the soul, which consists not in the cessation of all human desires, as Buddhism would teach us, but in the proper ordering and control of these desires. If the ions within a salt crystal somehow lost their charge and fell still, into a chemical nirvana, then the crystal would indeed lose its saltiness, for it would no longer exist save as a cloud of poisonous atoms. By contrast, it is the energies of each individual ion, properly organized within the greater whole, which allow the formation of a crystal, just as the gifts and talents of each individual Christian serve to strengthen the solid framework of the Church.

Salt’s small, white crystals seem unassuming, yet conceal a dramatic power. Continue reading

Taylor Swift’s Hollow Victory

2015-5-11 Swift img01The New York Times claims that Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space…serves to assert both her power and her primness.”  Jessica Valenti from The Guardian lauds the music video’s portrayal as, “the woman we’ve been waiting for.”

What would John Paul II say?  One of GoodTrueBeautiful’s authors analyze the work in context of Theology of the Body:

The “Blank Space” music video shows us the culture’s solution to exploitative love: Be the exploiter. Taylor Swift wants viewers to perceive her as master of her and her lover’s fate. Early in the video, she shouts, “I love the players, and you—love—the game!” Unable to escape the players, she tries to defeat them by becoming the best player of all.

Read more: Taylor Swift and the Emptiness of Disordered Desire

The Christian Religion is Bad Drugs

2015-5-7 Drug img01“Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

I don’t recall in exact detail where or when I first heard this quote used. I know that I was in high school, that I was working on a community theatre production, and that I was arguing with another high-school-aged cast member about life, the universe, and everything—the way intellectually-inclined adolescents sometimes do. My intellectual sparring partner, who held by far the most “radical” ideologies of our rag-tag group of Midwestern theatre kids, insisted to myself and the rest of our small group that humans create their religious beliefs to keep them from having to confront the more difficult elements of their reality. For example, belief in a personal creator keeps people from worrying that no one cares for them, or that their life has no greater purpose. Belief in the afterlife prevents people from having to fully deal with loss.

My 16-year-old self, a lifelong Christian, found this notion utterly bewildering. Continue reading

Of Lawyers and Localism

2015-4-30 Lawyers img01I am currently attending law school. Among the topics of conversation which my friends and I regularly revisit, future plans rank near the top. My peers have come from far and wide, and have many different goals for their careers, but I am struck by the uniformity amongst us in one aspect of our plans: Nearly everyone plans to end up in a large center of power, such as New York or Washington, DC. A few want to go to San Francisco, and a few more to London or Beijing. I virtually never hear a friend say that they plan to live and work in a small town.

According to one of my law professors, this was not always so. Continue reading