Addendum: Locke & Natural Law

Monday, October 25, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

Some questions have been raised in the discussion on my posts on Locke & Catholic political thought about the extent to which Locke’s political theory conforms to or detracts from natural law. This follow-up post, which will be relatively brief, should serve to answer such questions at least in part.

Read the rest of this entry »



Civil Dialogue Between a Darwin Evolutionist and Natural Law Theorist

Monday, July 26, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

On Blogging Heads TV, Robert Wright discusses how we reason about the human good with Robert P. George of Princeton University, a leading scholar of modern natural law theory (with whom readers are no doubt familiar).

Subjects discussed:

  • Chapter 1: Natural law vs. utilitarianism (12:01)
  • Chapter 2: Why exactly is friendship good? (14:03)
  • Chapter 3: Euthanasia and human dignity (7:22)
  • Chapter 4: Natural law and conservativism (5:02)
  • Chapter 5: What can be done in the name of the greater good? (12:28)
  • Chapter 6: Just war theory (6:17)

Robert Wright is the author of The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, and The Evolution of God.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a member of the Task Force on the Virtues of a Free Society of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His books include In Defense of Natural Law and Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law Religion & Morality In Crisis.

I’ve watched a few episodes of ‘BloggingHeads’ — video debates between leading bloggers/authors — but this was the first with Dr. George, who is very adept at getting right to the point and crystallizing the respective positions of each side. Likewise this may serve as a good introduction to viewers who aren’t generally accustomed to analyzing moral situations from a (Catholic) natural law perspective.


Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well at the University of Illinois

Friday, July 9, 2010 \PM\.\Fri\.

I am an alum of the U of I.  I obtained my BA in 79 and my JD in 82.  My wife is also an alum of the U of I, obtaining her MA in Spanish in 82.  Our eldest son will be entering the U of I as a freshman in August.  I therefore found the news that  Professor Kenneth Howell, an adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois, has been fired for teaching in a course about Catholicism  basic Catholic doctrine on homosexuality quite alarming:

Read the rest of this entry »


15,000 Pro-Family and Pro-Marriage March in Argentina

Thursday, June 24, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

Police estimated 15,000 peaceful marchers came out in defense of the family and marriage against militant gay activists in Argentina on June 19, 2010 rallying Argentinians to vote “in favor of matrimony between one man and one woman.”

Archbishop José Maria Arancibi marched along these peaceful protesters in defense of children.

Read the rest of this entry »


Men Need to be Men

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

The King’s Men is an organization for Men to (re)discover what it means to be a man, a real man, a Catholic man as well as a manly Catholic.

As men we lead and protect the family.

We need to be active in the life of the Church.

We need to learn more about our Catholic faith and much, much more.

In today’s society and culture the role of men have been degraded, feminized, or ridiculed.  Our roles as men have been degraded to eliminate ‘gender bias’ by militant secularist humanists.  We have been feminized to the point of denying our natural gifts of being a leader, provider, and protector.  And we have been ridiculed by being attacked as misogynists.

This has taken such a toll on our role as men, we have forgotten what it means to be a husband, father, and a leader in the Church.

Mark Houck and Damian Wargo of The King’s Men apostolate explain this and much more in a 35 minute segment of EWTN‘s Life on the Rock.

Part 1 of 4:

Read the rest of this entry »


George Weigel: Defend Religious Freedom

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

George Weigel wrote a timely article in National Review Online titled, Defending Religious Freedom in Full.

In it cites the extremist attacks in expressing our Catholic faith in the public square.

The forms of these attacks are egregious because they that attack us are also tearing apart the moral fabric of this nation.

Case in point is the Washington Post, and in my opinion they represent secular humanism, when it comes to natural law they painted those that hold to natural law as extremists:

This past October, in the heat of a political campaign, the nation’s political newspaper of record, the Washington Post, ran an editorial condemning what it termed the “extremist views” of a candidate for attorney general of Virginia who had suggested that the natural moral law was still a useful guide to public policy.

Read the rest of this entry »


Catholic Education & Same-Sex Parents: A Question of Truth and Tolerance

Thursday, May 13, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.

The Holy Father in his amazingly insightful and thorough work Truth and Tolerance outlines a way—though focusing primarily on religious matters—that Catholics may engage a pluralistic world in a spirit of peace and tolerance while adhering completely to the divine truths of the Catholic faith, to which Catholics are called to live in accordance with and call others to through evangelization.

The whole point of the work is to establish the principles by which Catholics should encounter and engage people of different faiths, worldviews, lifestyles, etc., in the modern situation with its emphasis on conscience, individual freedom, and self-determination that inevitably creates a diverse society. The obvious danger is relativism and therefore a lack of any real conviction and principle. The “balance” is a correct temperament and a prudential spirit to find the proper avenue to best evangelize the world.

Read the rest of this entry »


Happy Birthday The Pill

Monday, May 10, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

Ironically, this Sunday was not only Mother’s Day but the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the first modern birth control pill, now granted proper noun status at The Pill.  Tributes and analyses have been written ad naseum over the weekend, but for a Catholic blog it is important to take a step back and realize that, despite our intense moral objections to this form of birth control, it more than any other person or thing may have been the most influential part of Catholicism in the last fifty years.

The Pill was “invented” by a then-Catholic doctor whose goal in creating the birth control option was to find a way to regulate women’s menstrual cycles that mirrored the traditional Catholic rhythm method.  As Church and American Catholic historians well know, Pope Pius VI created a committee to offer an advisory opinion, then allegedly went against the committee’s recommendation in Humana Vitae and lumped The Pill in with other forms of artificial contraception.

Read the rest of this entry »


Pope Speaks About Economics Again, “It’s the Natural Law, Stupid”

Monday, May 3, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

After calling for Catholics to be liberated from their pet ideologies, Pope Benedict is helping flesh out a moral economic vision that puts the standard Left- socialism/Right- Free Markets debate into the dust bin for faithful Catholics.  The bottom-line seems obvious to me- you can’t demonize government and you can’t demonize business- both bring difficulties into play- over-regulation can harm economic development, but lack of regulation can lead to corporate dominance which is a problem when one considers that corporations typically are upfront about being in existence to pad their investor’s bank accounts, not being much concerned with the universal common good. Our Pope clarifies the inherent morality(read Natural Law) in the economy in this article from one of my favorite web sites Zenit.org:

Read the rest of this entry »


Social Sin

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

Justice exalteth a nation: but sin maketh nations miserable. – Proverbs 13:34

Is there such a thing as a “social sin”? It is out of a respect for my friend Brendan/Darwin that I want to examine and critique his rejection of the idea of social sin, with which I partially agree, but which I believe also leaves out some crucial facts. This is not a point against Brendan/Darwin, since I don’t believe he intended his post to be a treatise on the issue. It is rather a point in his favor, since his general considerations give us the opportunity to explore the question in greater detail.

It must be said at the outset that there are obviously different things that one might mean by “social sin.” Brendan/Darwin begins his argument with the observation that there are those who become “frustrated” with the emphasis many Christians place on individual failings to the neglect of “social or political sin.” There is a significant difference, however, between social and political behavior. My intention is not to split-hairs in order to undermine a valid point (which it is), but rather to highlight the extent to which society and the body politic have become indistinguishable from one another. In my recent essay on the social effects of abortion, I make a distinction between organic and artificial social bonds; the former are those that necessarily follow from man’s social nature, while the latter are those created through politics, i.e. laws. Because we are imperfect and often malicious beings, some artificial authority will always be required for men to attain “the highest good.” But human laws are not foundational – they are supplemental to natural and divine laws, or at least they were in most places in the Western world until the 19th century.

Read the rest of this entry »



Philip Hamburgers New Book is a Rare Find

Friday, December 11, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

Michael McConnell, a Law Professor at Stanford, offers this in a First Things review of Philip Hamburger’s new book titled Law and Judicial Duty:

Hamburger traces the development of modern conceptions of the law to the realization, in Europe and especially Britain, that human reason rarely provided clear answers to moral questions and therefore that an attempt to ground law in divine will, or a search for abstract reason and justice, would inevitably lead to discord. As a result, “Europeans increasingly located the obligation of law in the authority of the lawmaker rather than the reason or justice of his laws.” The task of judges, then, was not to seek after elusive notions of justice and right reason but to enforce the law of the land. Natural law shifted in emphasis from moral content to legitimacy and authority, and increasingly to an understanding of authority based on the will of the people.

This seems to me a profound explanation of how and why we understand law today the way we do. It simultaneously shows you what is wrong with the modern conception of the law and what is right.

Read the rest of this entry »


Exclusive Sneak Peek of Caritas in Veritate

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 \AM\.\Wed\.

Caritas in Veritate

[Updates at the bottom of this posting.]

The much anticipated new encyclical that Pope Benedict XVI recently signed, his third, on June 29th titled Caritas in Veritate, or Charity in Truth, will be released soon by Ignatius Press (the English version) on July  6th or 7th of 2009 A.D.  In searching for information regarding this encyclical I found bits and pieces here and there but nothing exhaustive or concise that came close to satisfying my curiosity.  So I’ve gathered all of my information and have presented it the best way possible in this posting.  With tongue in cheek I labeled this preview of Caritas in Veritate as an ‘Exclusive Sneak Peek’*.

Caritas in Veritate will be a social encyclical examining some of the social changes that have occurred since Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio, particularly globalization.  The encyclical will have Pope Benedict XVI articulating the need to bolster humanism that brings together the social and economic development of humans and to reduce the disproportionate gap between poor and rich.  One other major theme of this encyclical will be that of global justice.

Read the rest of this entry »


Catholic View of the Political Community (part 4)

Sunday, June 28, 2009 \PM\.\Sun\.

We continue the test of our Catholic worldview on the subject of the role of the Political Community- drawing upon Chapter 8 in the authoritative Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. We have looked at the Old Testament (#377-378) and Jesus’ interaction with political authorities #379) to see the development of doctrine relating to how we are to regard the political community. Now we turn to “The early Christian communities”.

Read the rest of this entry »


Party of God/Party of Satan?

Monday, June 22, 2009 \PM\.\Mon\.

I am not interested in having future fruitless arguments over whether or not the Republican or Democratic Party is pure evil or not. It is like the old canard comparing some contemporary American politician to Adolf Hitler- it is a deal-breaker. I am one who believes that truth in politics is pretty spread out among the various major and minor political parties- there are some huge moral gaps in all, so the choice of party for me is not based on trying to find the perfect Party of God here in America.

Read the rest of this entry »




Catholics, The 2nd Amendment, & Subsidiarity

Friday, January 2, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

Ryan Harkins took an initial look at how Catholics should look at the question of whether there is a natural right to own guns in a post last week. The basic thrust of Ryan’s argument, and I ask him to correct me if I misstate this, was to examine the question of whether the benefits of private gun ownership outweighed the potential social evils. This is, in a sense, an obvious way to look at the question. If one is trying to determine the rightness of allowing people to own something potentially destructive, it would seem natural to take a “do the benefits outweigh the dangers?” approach.

I’d like to take a slightly different approach, looking at both the actual text of the second amendment and Catholic Social Teaching. The second amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The libertarian approach to this is to assert that an armed citizenry is required in order to provide a counter-weight to the power of the government. However, I’m not convinced that the thinking behind the second amendment was a merely a balancing of powers in this sense. Rather, it seems to me that to a great extent the US Constitution is written with the point of view that people possess certain natural rights and duties, and that from these spring rights and duties of the government. My understanding is that one of the major controversies in regards to the second amendment (one spoken to fairly definitely in last June’s District of Columbia v. Heller decision) has been whether it secures a right of state militias to have weapons, or a right of individuals to have weapons. While in effect my opinion on the matter lies closer to the individual right side, it seems to me that there is an important distinction which has been increasingly lost in our modern mass society:

Read the rest of this entry »


Dr. Patrick Lee on the Nature of Marriage

Friday, December 19, 2008 \PM\.\Fri\.

Pat Lee — professor of bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville — has an article up at The Public Discourse on the nature of marriage and why it is inherently heterosexual.

Read the rest of this entry »


Catholic Teaching, Homosexuality, and American Life

Friday, November 14, 2008 \PM\.\Fri\.

Many facets of American secular culture is contrary to basic Christian ethics, which as a consequence, requires a response on the part of the faithful. One of these issues is “tolerance” and homosexuality. The Christian commitment to protecting and promoting marital dignity and the family is absolute. The profound temptation in politics, given the “us” versus “them” mentality is to lose a sense of charity that is due to our neighbor, even those with whom we disagree. This happens quite regularly; we even do it to those we love.

Just recently one of my roommates — who is entirely oblivious to my sexual orientation — made a discourteous statement about “fags.” It was hurtful. Given our friendship, if he knew I am homosexual, perhaps he wouldn’t have said it. But that’s not sufficient. I would rather he — because of interior conviction — would refrain from such comments, not simply because of his audience. This should be true of all Catholics.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Pro-Life Movement On The Left

Saturday, October 18, 2008 \PM\.\Sat\.
Most Americans who are pro-life do not experience it from the left side of the political spectrum. Without a doubt, it is terribly difficult to be pro-life on the political left. The current political landscape in America presents a dire problem for “pro-life progressives,”even more so if they’re Catholic and observe the Church’s teachings. Pro-life progressivism is a growing, still voiceless, movement in the Democratic Party. There is a sense of alienation from pro-choice Democrats in regard to “women’s issues” (abortion) and “life-saving scientific research” (embryonic stem cell research) as well a sense of being out of place amongst conservative Republicans whom we might agree with on a few issues, but disagree with on a host of others and perhaps fundamentally on political philosophy. This movement (I think) is really reflective of many Americans, who not only oppose abortion and euthanasia, but would like to see “life issues” extend to the 30,000 children who die globally each day from poverty and preventable disease, issues of genocide in places like Darfur, human trafficking, health care, foreign policy issues of war and peace, and even to environmental stewardship. Many Catholic Democrats see this as what the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin coined as the “consistent life ethic.”

Read the rest of this entry »