Anthony Esolen has a great article about education in California, here. Welcome back, Crisis magazine!


Public Signs of Catholic Identity

I wonder if I can make a list of things that obviously mark you off as a Catholic.

1. Having a lot of kids, especially if you are under 30
2. Making the sign of the Cross in public, saying grace before meals
3. Abstaining from meat on Fridays. (hopefully the work of the English Bishops will influence others!)
4. Going to "Mass"
5. Wearing a Roman Collar

What else?

Conspicuously missing is anything to do with moral goodness or joy.



One Being

Josef Pieper is teaching me about the extent to which our thought processes have been corrupted by Descartes:
...we shall have to recall once more something difficult to grasp, that even the acts of man's mind, which means even his volition and not just his sensual desires, take place by nature and thus are not something at our own command. Rather, such acts happen over our heads, asit were; they are not left to our freedom of choice but have already been imposed. We find this difficult to grasp because we usually understand the terms "nature" and "mind" as mutually exclusive concepts. According to this habit of thought, for example, willing is either a mental act and consequently something not given by nature; or it is a natural event and consequently neither an act of volition nor a mental act at all. In contrast to this, the great teachers of Christendom unanimously insist that there is one being- that is in the strictest sense both mind and nature at once; and this being is the created mind.

Josef Pieper, On Love
Normally I would say something so abstract has little impact on the way we live. Reading this passage, one is tempted to say, as any good American pragmatist would, "so what?" To answer the pragmatist: this is important because it is a deeply revealing cultural and really psychological truth. It tells us something about ourselves. We almost naturally separate our minds and our bodies; we are really, really convinced that we are "a ghost in a machine." This belief affects all our other beliefs. And our beliefs drive our actions, the way we live.


This is a pretty good definition of ideology.

Ideology is a much-abused word. Many who bandy about this term are under the mistaken notion that ideology is synonymous with strongly holding to philosophical or theological truths. On the contrary, ideology is, instead, an intellectual system of ideas or rigid abstract formulas mixed with scientific jargon and some empirical facts that claims knowledge about reaching perfection in the temporal order.

Catholics should never let themselves be called ideologues. Ideologues attempt, according to Eric Voegelin, “to mold reality into a scheme consistent with a posited or assumed idea.” Proponents are convinced that when the tenets of one’s ideological world-view are properly administered by messianic-elites, society will be transformed into a harmonious secular paradise – in other words, heaven on earth.
From George Marlin at the Catholic Thing


"God? God? If I could see him or hear him now! Where is this God of yours?"

That is the question that every sinner asks, at one time or another. And here is the secret revealed by God to Israel in shadows and intimations, and to all the world in the life and death and resurrection of Christ. God is not some despotic force, like Zeus sitting upon his throne, grasping his thunderbolt. He is almighty, true, and as almighty he is more than greatest and farthest of all. He is also the smallest and the nearest and most present of all, the very Being of beings. He was not in the whirlwind or the earthquake or the fire, as Elijah found, but in the still small voice. In all the centuries before Solomon, his presence does not dwell in some hulking temple meant to boggle man into insignificance, but in a small Ark, in a tent. He writes his laws not upon pillars, but upon the hearts of those who hear his word. And his word was made flesh and dwelt among us, a babe in a manger. This is the Jesus who came as a light into a dark world; yet the world knew him not. A bruised reed he would not break, said the prophet, and so Jesus moved among men both known and unknown, a king and yet a slave, the glorious only-begotten Son of God, and yet meek and humble of heart. To hear Jesus, then, is to look perhaps first to the small and near, and to listen.
- Anthony Esolen in the Magnificat for May 2011.