April 30, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/30/2016

Edmund Lewis - Moat Mountain

IRS Admits Tax Code Is Too Complex to Enforce - Drockton and Boccia, Daily Signal

California Looks to Cover Illegal Immigrants Under Obamacare - Leah Jessen, Daily Signal

How to Survive a President Trump - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

Marriage is Not a Social Convention - Nathaniel Peters, First Things

Conservatives for Trump? - Thomas Sowell, Town Hall

If Donald Trump Loses in November - Jonah Goldberg, NRO

Feinstein-Burr: The Bill That Bans Your Browser - Julian Sanchez, Cato

Scientific Regress - William A. Wilson, First Things

Faith, Works, and Grace - Bruce Frohnen, Imaginative Conservative

How to Listen at Mass - Randall Smith, The Catholic Thing

April 29, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/29/2016

Frederic Church - Niagara

The Best Form of Government - Russell Kirk, Imaginative Conservative

Philly Pays $1.5 Million to “Ghost Teachers” - Jason Bedrick, Cato

Who Speaks for the Working Class? - Robin Cherry, City Journal

Superheroes in the State of Nature - Christopher Morrissey, Imaginative Conservative

The Rise of the Executive-Administrative State - Randy Barnett, Daily Signal

The Idea of Trump’s Electability - Ross Douthat, NYT

Last Paroxysm of the Tyrant - Ron Capshaw, Liberty Law Blog

Why The Humanities Still Have Purpose - Bradley C.S. Watson, Public Discourse

Uproar Over Renaming the Antonin Scalia Law School - Roger Pilon, Cato

Declare Total Non-Cooperation with Assisted Suicide - Wesley J. Smith, First Things

Welfare Recipients Aren’t Necessarily Lazy - Mark Skousen, Human Events

Archetypes of Exorcism - Chris R. Morgan, First Things

Dear Indiana: You're Not Getting Killed on Trade - Scott Lincicome, The Federalist

April 28, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/28/2016

Sanford Robinson Gifford - Mount Washington from the Saco River

Bring Back Etiquette - Laura Hollis, Town Hall

Value of Private Product Standards - Peter Van Doren, Cato

Why New England Democracy Disappeared - George Stanciu, Imaginative Conservative

Conservatives Say ‘It’s Time’ to Address Freedom of Conscience - Kelsey Harkness, Daily Signal

In Tennessee, a Federal Judge Disenfranchises Pro-Life Voters - David French, NRO

What Shaped Eric Voegelin’s Thought? - John P. East, Imaginative Conservative

Constitution 101: A Lesson for Donald Trump - Nathan Schlueter, Public Discourse

Mormons, Evangelicals, and the "Orthodox" God - Francis Beckwith, The Catholic Thing

Curb the Power of Unaccountable Bureaucracy - James Gattuso, Daily Signal

Fiorina Is a Guided Missile Aimed Right at Donald Trump - David French, NRO

April 27, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/27/2016

Johann Joseph Jansen - Vierwaldstättersee

Coopting the Words - Greg Weiner, Liberty Law Blog

If I Lose Friends Over Trump, So Be It - Tom Nichols, The Federalist

7 Questions About Transgender People, Answered - The Federalist Staff

19th Century Political Thinker and ‘True’ Conservatism - Robert Moffit, Daily Signal

The Blue Model’s War on the Young - American Interest

The Truth about Ronald Reagan - Bradley Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

Shakespeare is Not Our Contemporary - James Bowman, New Criterion

There Are No Writers Here - Aaron Renn, New Geography

Obama Politicizes Even the Library of Congress - The Editors, NRO

Confronting the Public Health Crisis of Pornography - Paul S. Loverde, First Things

What Do the Trumpsters Want? - V.D. Hanson, NRO

Constitutional Types and Their Corruption - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics

Why is Reaction Taboo? - Ross Douthat, NYT

Let Tesla Sell Directly to Its Customers - John O. McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

Renting Wombs is a Human Wrong, not a Human Right - Adina Portaru, Public Discourse

The Spark Of Life - Rod Dreher, American Conservative

There is No Republican Party - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

Demonizing Christianity as a Global Menace - David Limbaugh, Human Events

Rights Versus Wishes - Walter Williams, Human Events

April 26, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/26/2016

Peter von Cornelius - The Three Marys at the Tomb

The Harvard Library That Protects The World's Rarest Colors - Diana Budds, C.O. Design

The End of Democracy in America - Myron Magnet, City Journal

4th Circuit Inflicts Sex Change on Title IX: Part I - Ed Whelan, NRO

Social Security Getting More and More Regressive - American Interest

Waste and Mismanagement at DHS - Rep. Scott Perry, Daily Signal

Johnny Manziel, Victim - Jim Geraghty, NRO

Two Views of the End Times - Titus Tichera, NRO

The Patriarch, the Pope, and the Refugee Crisis - John Chryssavgis, First Things

America Should Stop Paying to Defend the World - Doug Bandow, Cato

Why Governments...Shouldn’t, Recognize Polygamy - Christopher Kaczor, Public Discourse

Schall in Outer Space - J.V. Schall, The Catholic Thing

Cruz News, Good and Bad - Jack Fowler, NRO

Oregon Bakers Continue Legal Fight - Kelsey Harkness, Daily Signal

April 25, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/25/2016

Coptic Icon - St. Mark

The Reactionary Mind - Ross Douthat, NYT

Ted Cruz and the Invisible Plan - Pete Spiliakos, NRO

Cruz and Trump Twisting and Turning - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

Miracles, Marvels, and Real Religion - Dwight Longenecker, Imaginative Conservative

Prison Reform a Bipartisan Issue? - Robinson & English, AEI

A New Look at Benjamin Disraeli - John P. Rossi, University Bookman

The Devotion of the 15 Tuesdays to St. Dominic - Breviarium S.O.P.

Courts...Agencies, and Transgender Bathroom Policy - Adam J. MacLeod, Public Discourse

Was Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain an Interfaith Eden? - William Kilpatrick, N.C. Register

Mau-mauing the Georgetown Flak-Catchers? - Robert Royal, The Catholic Thing

Could Adam Smith Have Loved Distributism? - Alexander Salter, Imaginative Conservative

No Need for Gloom and Doom - Scott Winship, NRO

A Commanding Rhythm - Edmund Waldstein, San Crucencis

April 22, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/22/2016

George Caleb Binghman - Flatboatmen in Port

Kempism is Dead - Pete Spiliakos, First Things

Not Everything Is Peachy In Georgia - Michael Avramovich, Touchstone

What They Didn't Teach You in School About Harriet Tubman  - Eli Lehrer, NRO

Our (Sexual) Carthage Must be Destroyed - Dave Carlin, The Catholic Thing

Evolution of Humanity, Sex, & Gender - Stephen J. Rummelsburg, Imaginative Conservative

Conservative Thought of Eric Voegelin - John P. East, Imaginative Conservative

What Rights Do People of Faith Have? - Ryan T. Anderson, Daily Signal

Heather MacDonald on Proactive Policing - Mike Rappaport, Liberty Law Blog

The Bard, the Bathroom, and the Common Good - Adam Carrington, Public Discourse

The Case for Catholic Shakespeare - Kenneth Colston, Crisis

Shakespeare, Four Centuries On - Alexi Sargeant, First Things

Shakespeare, Cervantes, and the Romance of the Real - R.V. Young, Modern Age

The Not-So-Independent Judiciary - Michael S. Greve, Liberty Law Blog

The Death Of Prince And The Death of Jesus - Hans Fiene, The Federalist

What ‘Game Of Thrones’ Reveals About The Politics Of Decline - Julia Shaw, The Federalist

April 21, 2016

"She Got Caught Up in the Likes"

They were drinking at Gates’s home in Columbus on Feb. 27 when he began to sexually assault the 17-year-old and Lonina began live-streaming the violence using Periscope

Reportedly, Marina Lonina, a friend of the girl being sexually assaulted in front of her, has been caught up with getting "Likes" on the variant of social media (Periscope - whatever that may be). So caught up, in fact, that it seems like she is "in the habit of filming everything with this app."
They were drinking at Gates’s home in Columbus on Feb. 27 when he began to sexually assault the 17-year-old and Lonina began live-streaming the violence using Periscope...
Reportedly, this Lonina was asking followers on social media what she should do next. Her attorney stated: “She’s a good kid... [s]he’s a senior in high school. Comes from a fine family and is the furthest thing from a rapist. … The rapist was in court and it was not my client.” 

[Everything I say following is hypothetical as regards the facts, as nothing has yet been proven in court.]

Mr. Attorney, your client is not a "good kid," by any normal definition. She was a knowing underage drinker who had a phone in hand and chose to broadcast a rape live on social media. Let's consider part of that sentence again: broadcast a rape live on social media.

She is, not, in fact, the furthest thing from a rapist. She was right next to the rapist, literally. She is an aiding and abetting spectator and amateur pornographer. She could have called the police. She could have called the ambulance. Instead, "authorities became aware of the incident when a friend of the victim saw the images and alerted police." 
The [teenage victim] can be heard screaming, “No, it hurts so much,” “Please stop” and “Please, no” multiple times. 
I cannot imagine how betrayed and alone the victim felt with someone who was purportedly her friend standing by and doing nothing to help. Nothing and making a spectator sport of her misery.

If my daughter did something like this on social media, I am not sure I would be able to look at her easily again. I would also likely have to spend weeks...months...wondering where I went wrong.

But I can hazard a guess. 

I understand, in many ways, the lure of social media, especially for the lonely or socially awkward. I also understand that anyone can succumb to the lure to getting "likes" for things they say or actions they take. Unlike many things "in real life," the internet is such a vast meeting space and simultaneously personal and anonymous, that it is very easy to find a community that will "like" virtually anything you do, with very little personal effort. 

Like the Ring of Gyges, the internet permits you to semi-anonymously explore the darkest sides of human nature (which Solzhenitsyn was well familiar with) and to find those who will pander and encourage that dark side. This is not likely to have been the first time this woman posted something on social media - it is only the most extreme example that happened to catch the public eye. I have extremely restrictive monitors on my home wireless with my children, and I am constantly looking into their devices to see what they are doing. No parents with a child at home should ever assume that the exterior person they see day-to-day, who is a "good kid," is being the same on the internet. The drug addict or alcoholic may seem, during the day, to be fine and dandy. But place them in the midst of their trials, and the night of "as different as night and day" appears. 

CathCon Daily - 4/20/2016

St. Maximos the Confessor

Heartburn Over Jesus Lunch - Rod Dreher, American Conservative

Is the Future of Reading at Risk? - Christopher Nelson, Imaginative Conservative

Trump is Back - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

Strategy and Originalism - Mike Rappaport, Liberty Law Blog

What Is a “Substantial Burden” on Religious Exercise - Marc DiGirolami, Liberty Law Blog

Liberal Biases, Too, May Block Progress on Climate Change - Eduardo Porter, NYT

The Laws of Human Nature - Bruce Thornton, Hoover

The New Battle of the Sexes - Erika Bachiochi, Mirror of Justice

What’s Wrong With Rights? - Adam J. MacLeod, Public Discourse

Organ Transplantation and Euthanasia - Matthew Henley, The Catholic Thing

Does Science Disprove God? - John Beaumont, Catholic Herald UK

Nobody Should Care If We Replace Jacksons With Tubmans - Bre Payton, The Federalist

Andrew Jackson’s Legacy Was Fighting Crony Capitalism - Jarrett Stepman, Daily Signal

Can Socrates Change Your Life? - David Corey, Imaginative Conservative

Catholic Business School Gets a $47 Million Investment - Kathryn Lopez, NRO

April 20, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/19/2016 (Second Edition)

Carl Lessing - Landscape in the Eifel Mountains

The Difficult Way of Mercy - Dr. Randall B. Smith, Catholic World Report

Ethics of Science Too Important to Leave to Scientists - Wesley Smith, NRO

On Video Games: The Good and the Bad - Paul Catalanotto, Crisis

The Best Nuncio We've Had - George Weigel, First Things

John Locke, Conservative? - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics

The Ideological Diversity of the Pro-Life Movement - Michael J. New, Public Discourse

Yes, Repudiate Malthus - Wesley Smith, NRO

Regulation Recessions - John McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

I Regret Voting For Donald Trump - Grant Stinchfield, The Federalist

Civil Rights And The Sexual Revolution Need A Divorce - Roberto Oscar Lopez, The Federalist

The Confusion of Conservative Catholics - Ross Douthat, NYT

Planning A Cake Hoax? 5 Tips Will Make Sure It’s A Success - Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist

Cultural Identity Theft - William Kilpatrick, Crisis

There Are Better Reasons To Vote Against Trump Than Judge Picks - Ilya Shapiro, The Federalist

The Intellectual Case For Trump II - Mytheos Holt, The Federalist

Trump, Rush, and the Establishment - Rich Lowry, NRO

April 19, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/19/2016

Richard Burnier - Rückkehr von der Weide

Trump and Sanders Had Pretty Good Weeks - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

Judge...Allows Sandy Hook Gun Case to Proceed - Hans von Spakovsky, Daily Signal

Still Chilling Twenty Years Later - Bradley J. Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

Socrates on Opinion, the Philosopher, & the Good - Eva Brann, Imaginative Conservative

Marriage, and Its Exhortations - Hadley Arkes, The Catholic Thing

Inside the Refugee Crisis: Following Iraqis in Jordan - Burbidge & Nsababera, Public Discourse

Let Us Remember April 19, 1775 - Bradley J. Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

Endgame of American Culture - Donald Devine, Liberty Law Blog

The Forgotten Agrarian - John Medaille, Distributist Review

April 18, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/18/2016

Claude Lorrain - St. Paul at Ostia

Palin Is Right: Bill Nye Is No Scientist - Daniel Payne, The Federalist

Scientifically Undermining the Rule of Law - Theodore Dalrymple, Liberty Law Blog

Scott Ignores Families, Protects Disastrous Divorce Law - Leslie Loftis, The Federalist

Ink Ted Cruz to a Four-Year Contract - Nicholas Frankovich, NRO

Providence or Paranoia? - Dwight Longenecker, Imaginative Conservative

Trump's Counterfeit Masculinity - David French, NRO

The Crisis of the American Idea - Ben Sasse, Imaginative Conservative

Can Civility Be Restored to Our Campuses? - Bruce Frohnen, Imaginative Conservative

Trump's Low Ratings Among Women - Abby McCloskey, NRO

Reading the Tea Leaves of Police Militarization - Shapiro & Meyer, Cato

Chesterton’s Critique of Eugenics - Dennis L.Durst, Nomocracy in Politics

Education and the Individual - Richard L. Weaver, Imaginative Conservative

Just War Theory Isn’t Obsolete - Gregory L. Brown, Public Discourse

Subsidiarity Isn't in the Constitution - Jack Quirk, Distributist Review

April 17, 2016

Consequentialism and Future Knowledge

(I open this post with "situation ethics" because it was raised by a commentator on a blog post - however, the post itself is intended to be much broader. Situation ethics is just a "lead in...")

In his book "Situation Ethics," the philosopher J.F. Fletcher promoted a variation on consequentialism called (logically) "situation ethics." The essence of situation, or situational, ethics is summed up as follows:
The elements of situation ethics were described by Joseph Fletcher, its leading modern proponent, like this:
Moral judgments are decisions, not conclusions
Only one thing is intrinsically good, namely, love: nothing else
Love "wills the neighbour's good" [desires the best for our neighbour] whether we like them or not
Love and justice are the same, for justice is love distributed
The rightness of an action does not reside in the act itself but in the loving configuration of the factors in the situation--in the 'elements of a human act' --i.e., its totality of end, means, motive, and foreseeable consequences.
So, in its execution, some commentators have noted that, with some minor differences, this is essentially the form of consequentialism espoused by Peter Singer and related philosophers. Under such a system, there is no consideration of any given action as good or evil in and of itself. So, for instance, there is no categorical classification of "lying" as good or evil - rather, such much be considered as to whether the end brought about by lying in any given situation will produce a "good" outcome. How "good" is defined depends on the philosopher in question, but in situational ethics or consequentialism, it is often defined a some variation on "increase the total love in society" or "producing the maximum benefit for the individual" where the calculus involves the "good" versus "bad" that happens to the individual.

I wish to focus upon one trait further, namely: "Consequentialism = whether an act is morally right depends only on consequences (as opposed to the circumstances or the intrinsic nature of the act or anything that happens before the act)." In this post, I do not intend to propose an alternative to consequentialism - rather, I want to focus on some seeming problems with this aspect of consequentialism. I should note that, not being trained in philosophy, or even a professional philosopher (disliking the taste of hemlock, as I do), I am sure the following criticisms have been stated (and answered) in a more comprehensive and thoughtful manner than I do here. Just a PSA for the reader...

In The Republic of Plato, during a discussion with Thrasymachus in Book I in attempting to define justice, Socrates deals with Thrasymachus' claim that justice is only the interest of the stronger. Thrasymachus argues:
And the different forms of government make laws democratical, aristocratical, tyrannical, with a view to their several interests; and these laws, which are made by them for their own interests, are the justice which they deliver to their subjects, and him who transgresses them they punish as a breaker of the law, and unjust. And that is what I mean when I say that in all states there is the same principle of justice, which is the interest of the government; and as the government must be supposed to have power, the only reasonable conclusion is, that everywhere there is one principle of justice, which is the interest of the stronger. 
However, Socrates notes that rulers may make errors, and states in such an occasion:
Then you must also have acknowledged justice not to be for the interest of the stronger, when the rulers unintentionally command things to be done which are to their own injury. For if, as you say, justice is the obedience which the subject renders to their commands, in that case, O wisest of men, is there any escape from the conclusion that the weaker are commanded to do, not what is for the interest, but what is for the injury of the stronger? 
While it is, really, a minor point Socrates makes, it almost always causes me to pause when I am reading Book I because...well, Plato almost always makes good points. Well, really because Plato reveals insight into human nature here concerning knowledge and fallibility - no human is master of future outcome, affected as that is by variables beyond our control. And, the further one travels temporally from a decision, the less control and prediction we will have over effects.

In other words, the consequences of an act can only be guesswork for the actor, to some extent. Hence, I think we must look at consequentialism as a philosophy either of hope or of immediacy (or both). By "hope," I mean that the actor, by taking a given action, can only say with a certain amount of certainty that a given outcome will occur, and only with a certain amount of certainty that other potential outcomes will not occur. Relatedly, the consequentialist is an actor of immediacy - that is, the outcome to which the actor aims must be the one immediately following the action. More remote consequences can only be (again) guesswork, or entirely unforeseen.

Given that an action is deemed "good" or "bad" depending on outcome, the consequentialist cannot take more remote consequences into account - if that were the case, no action could be judged for a much greater length of time than the immediate visible results. And, much greater knowledge and a greater vantage point would be needed to judge the ripples emanating from any given action.

Enter other forms of consequentialism. Per the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Expectable Consequentialism: The morally right action is the action whose reasonably expectable consequences are best. 
Reasonable Consequentialism: An action is morally right if and only if it has the best reasonably expected consequences.
Dual Consequentialism: The word "right" is ambiguous. It has a moral sense and an objective sense. (i) The objectively right action is the action with the best consequences, and (ii) the morally right action is any action with the best reasonably expected consequences.
Rule Consequentialism: An action is morally right if and only if it does not violate the set of rules of behavior whose general acceptance in the community would have the best consequences—that is, at least as good as any rival set of rules or no rules at all.
All of these types of consequentialism (and others, if you take a few mins on the IEP) are attempting to deal with two problems: the lack of ability to predict all consequences of an action (i.e., lack of future knowledge) and the lack of a definition as to what makes up a "good" consequence of an action.

I cannot propose a variant of consequentialism which adequately deals with the question of lack of knowledge and of the meaning of "good" consequences. I can say that, to some extent, most people in modern society are, more or less, consequentialists. One encounters consequentialism in various forms related to abortion ("The woman and man will be happier in the future if she aborts her baby now"), contraception ("The woman and man will be happier in the future preventing pregnancy"), war ("This bombing may involve killing innocents, but it will prevent greater loss in the future") and so on. Once one becomes familiar with the ethic, it is not hard to detect.

April 15, 2016

Excerpt from the (Formerly) Secret Diary of Donald J. Trump

Dear Diary,

My therapist tells me that things will get worse for me before they get better. While he insists on using Freudian metaphors (I consider myself in most ways a firm Maslovian), there is a certain elegance in terming the secondary personality which seems to assert itself in public fora a "manifestation of the Id." This makes sense. I am, after all, a firm believer in "naming" as a way to reduce something's power. For, once named, one can also associate qualities with the name, and use the name as a short form to reject. The implications are, to borrow from the vernacular, huge.


Oh dear. My therapist warned me that, even in writing, if I use certain...trigger...words, D.J. Trumpy would feel free to assert himself...itself. Whenever I lose control...or it asserts control...when I return to some sense of self and sanity, I am invariably surprised, and often as not, disgusted, by what it has done in my absence. It's as if my darkest desires for power....power, and lust, and infidelity, and conquest, and...and...are immediately substituted for whatever sublime emotion captivates me at the moment. Ah, the soaring poems of Longfellow, the paintings of the Düsseldorfer Malerschule‎, the Der Ring des Nibelungen of Wagner, the...


Oh! Am I to be denied even the operas of Wag....of the great German mastermind? Oh surely, he had his typical Teutonic tendencies, but his musical genius cannot be denied...but it shall be denied to me, as in many things. Another Cross which I must bear in my travails. Alas that I cannot even mention these dark spats as Oedipal, as


All is darkness. Shall I not give up? I have no more strength. Was Nietzsche not correct...if one struggles too long with the monster, one may become the monster...and shall not then the abyss gaze into me? But no...I cannot surrender. What could happen....? What WOULD happen should D.J. Trumpy permanently gain control of me? What with this adoration...this money and power...this ambition? Were it to go unchecked? Wither then? No...I must struggle..I must overcome the darkness..for my good..and the good of this nation.

CathCon Daily - 4/15/2016

Régis François Gignoux - Niagara Falls

Justice Thomas: Mr. Republican - Ken Masugi, Liberty Law Blog

Deferred Prosecution: Meet the Fokkers - Michael Greve, Liberty Law Blog

Obama Administration Doubles Down - Elizabeth Slattery, Daily Signal

New Jersey Court Finds Cruz Eligible - Michael Ramsey, Originalism Blog

The Silent Nasty - Andrew Klavan, City Journal

Scientific Subversion - Wesley J. Smith, NRO

Power & the Divided Self - Christopher Morrissey, Imaginative Conservative

The Standardization of Higher Education - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

Same-Sex Parents More Irritated with Their Children? - Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse

Misfiring on the Roberts Court - Mark Pulliam, Liberty Law Blog

Police Wrongdoing...and the Ferguson Effect - Mike Rappaport, Liberty Law Blog

A Misanthrope’s Guide To ‘Madam Secretary' - Dave Carter, The Federalist

April 14, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/14/2016

Konstantin Makovsky - Ophelia 

Abraham Lincoln Reconsidered - M.E. Bradford, Imaginative Conservative

White Privilege Is a Communicable Disease - Katherine Timpf, NRO

Searching for Loyalty and Prudence - Alex J. Pollock, Liberty Law Blog

Civil Rights and Same-Sex Marriage - Ben Crenshaw, Public Discourse

Geography and the Minimum Wage - Bill Watkins, New Geography

Coral Bleaching Is Not a Tell-Tale Sign of Imminent Extinction - Craig D. Idso, Cato

Fideism: Bad in Literature As Well As Religion - Stephen Mirarchi, Crisis

Quick Takes on "Amoris Laetitia" - Rick Garnett, Mirror of Justice

April 13, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/13/2016

Johann Schirmer - Breaking Waves with Distant Ships

The Curate’s Egg: A Reflection on Amoris Laetitia - Fr. George Rutler, Crisis

Separating Opinion from Doctrine in Amoris Laetitia - Fr. Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai, Crisis

The True Goods of Marriage - Bianca Czaderna, First Things

The ‘Voice of the People’ Fallacy - Thomas Sowell, Human Events

Attacking Our Nation’s Founders - Walter Williams, Human Events

Standing Up To The 2016 Day of Silence - Michael Avramovich, Touchstone

Mass Immigration vs. Free Markets and Ordered Liberty? - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics

The Economic Denialism of a $15 Minimum Wage - John McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

The Secret History of Magnitogorsk, Russia's Steel City - Alec Luhn, The Guardian

North Carolina’s Bathroom Bill and the Constitution - E. Gregory Wallace, Public Discourse

How Not to Fight North Carolina’s New Religious Liberty Laws - Charles C.W. Cooke, NRO

The Catholic Enlightenment: A Forgotten History - Bradley J. Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

‘Sex-Selection Abortion Is a Global Problem,’ Including in US - Kelsey Harkness, Daily Signal

In 33 States, It Takes Longer to Become a Makeup Artist Than an EMT - Leah Jessen, Daily Signal

Donald Trump Is An Ayn Rand Villain - Robert Tracinski, The Federalist

April 12, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/12/2016

Johann Wilhelm Schirmer - After the Storm

From TrusTed to ElecTed - Niall Ferguson, Boston Globe

What Is the Moral Imagination? - Jon M. Fennell, Imaginative Conservative

White vs. White America - V.S. Hanson, NRO

The Growing Racial Divide In The Democrat Party -  Alvin Rabushka, Thoughtful Ideas

The Defense of Catholic Marriage - Ross Douthat, NYT

Liberals’ Double Standard on Bathrooms...and Religious Freedom - Ryan T. Anderson, Daily Signal

Liberal AGs Have Begun a War Against the First Amendment - Kim Holmes, Daily Signal

Past the Teppering Point - Stephen Malanga, City Journal

Francis Delivers - William Doino, Jr., First Things

Constitutional Conservatism: Its Meaning and Its Future - Samuel Gregg, Public Discourse

On the Origin of (Good or Bad) Actions - James V. Schall, The Catholic Thing

Socrates on Music and Poetry - Eva Brann, Imaginative Conservative

Unions Have Less Effect On Wages Than You Think - James Sherk, The Federalist

Stop Trying To Replace White Privilege With Black Privilege - Kira Davis, The Federalist

American Christians to Head for the Hills? - Dwight Longenecker, Crux

April 11, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/11/2016

Edmund Lewis - A View of Philadelphia

Gobsmackingly Stupid Op-Ed - Ed Whelan, NRO

Not Just College - Michael J. Petrilli, Brookings

When Pieties Collide - Heather Mac Donald, City Journal

Still Questing for Community - Robert Nisbet, Imaginative Conservative

Why Nicholas Sparks Is Bad For Romance - Gracy Olmstead, The Federalist

Burke & the American Revolution - Bruce Frohnen, Imaginative Conservative

Redeeming Lincoln - Jonathan White, First Things

Ian McEwan Notes that 2 + 2 = 4 - Brendan O'Neill, NRO

Aristotle Explains the Trump Phenomenon - Carson Holloway, Public Discourse

A Drought of Ideas - Walter Russell Mead, American Interest

Hillary Clinton Isn’t Qualified. Deal With It - Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist

Link Between Health and Income Inequality - James Pethokoukis, AEI

A Stubborn Givenness - R.R. Reno, First Things

Trans Mafia Put North Carolina In A Chokehold - Daniel Payne, The Federalist

Avoidant Polity Disorder: Diagnosis and Treatment - Greg Weiner, Liberty Law Blog

April 10, 2016

CathCon Sunday - 4/10/2016

Heade - Haywagon in the Distance

The Case for Jesus: The Evidence of the Gospels - Dwight Longenecker, Imaginative Conservative

Finding Truth through Conversation - Justin Bolger, Imaginative Conservative

Hamilton's Jurisprudence - Mark DeForrest, New Reform Club

The Unraveling of Law - Douglas Farrow, First Things

Why a Contested Convention Favors Cruz - Eliana Johnson, NRO

Scientists Attacks Human Exceptionalism - Wesley Smith, NRO

Putting the Democratic Party on the Couch - John C. Goodman, Townhall

April 9, 2016

CathCon Saturday - 4/9/2016

Carl Schultze - Der Königssee

The New Catholic Truce - Ross Douthat, NYT

Mississippi Leaders Exhibit Moral Courage - Michael Avramovich, Touchstone

How Covenants Make Us - David Brooks, NYT

The New Eco Tyranny - Hans Bader, Liberty Law Blog

First Thoughts on the English Version of Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia - In the Light of the Law

Social Conservative's Big Problem - Maggie Gallagher, NRO

Unifying the Two Cultures in Law Schools - John O. McGinnis, Liberty Law Blog

Pence Mockery Syndrome - Ian Tuttle, NRO

Did Jesus Oppose Poverty? - Father James Schall, Imaginative Conservative

April 8, 2016

"Would St. Thomas More Blog?"

St. Thomas More on "Whether to Publish"...seems applicable to blogging. HT: In the Light of the Law:
I still haven’t made up my mind whether I shall publish it all. [S]ome people are so humorless, so uncharitable, and so absurdly wrong-headed, that one would probably do far better to relax and enjoy life than worry oneself to death trying to instruct or entertain a public which will only despise one’s efforts, or at least feel no gratitude for them. Most readers know nothing about learning – many regard it with contempt [and] find everything heavy going that isn’t completely lowbrow. . . . Some are so grimly serious that they disapprove of all humor. . . Others come to different conclusions every time they stand up or sit down. . . . They seize upon your publications, as a wrestler seizes upon his opponent’s hair, and use them to drag you down, while they themselves remain quite invulnerable, because their barren pates are completely bald, so there’s nothing for you to get hold of. --Thomas More to Peter Gilles, 1516

CathCon Daily - 4/8/2016

Bredow - Romantic Winter Scene

Donald Trump Brings Out the Worst in Our Best - Austin Ruse, Crisis

Wisconsin Republicans Bid No Trump - Michael Barone, Human Events

Is Speciesism like Racism and Sexism? - Christopher Kaczor, Public Discourse

Donald Trump and the Unpanderables - Pete Spiliakos, NRO

Cruz in Control - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

Overestimating Gay Democrats and Rich Republicans - Matthew Yglesias, Vox

Communism: The Theory - Hilaire Belloc, Distributist Review

Abusing His Authority to Try to Stop American Tax Inversions - Curtis Dubay, Daily Signal

From Socratic Subverter to Supporter of the State - Thaddeus Kozinski, Imaginative Conservative

Why Some People Commit Suicide Without Warning - A.D.P. Efferson, The Federalist

America's Real Porn Problem - David French, NRO

Decline of College Reading - George Leef, NRO

April 7, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/7/2016

Bierstadt - Deep in the Rockies

America’s Economic Problem is Regulation, not Trade - Doug Bandow, Cato

Michigan Students Call for Police to Censor Classmates - Andrew Kloster, Daily Signal

Fedlandia - Michael S. Greve, Liberty Law Blog

California Department Of Justice Raids David Daleiden’s Home - Federalist Staff

Cruz's Big Win in Wisconsin - The Editors, NRO

Freedom and Intellectual Life - Zena Hintz, First Things

Trump's Strengths are his Achilles' Heel - David Limbaugh, Human Events

Fiscal Imprudence Forces Connecticut To Cast Off The Poor And Sick - Marc Fitch, The Federalist

Freedom to Disagree - John Stossel, Human Events

The Dangers of an American Caste System - Patrick Lynch, Liberty Law Blog

IVF, Designer Babies, and Commodifying Human Life - Daniel Kuebler, Public Discourse

Slogans: Belief without Thought - Christopher Nelson, Imaginative Conservative

Plato’s Tale of the Wolf-Tyrant - Christopher Morrissey, Imaginative Conservative

Left’s Huge Double Standard For Corporate Speech - Mitch Hall, The Federalist

April 6, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/6/2016

Arkhip Kuindzhi - Sunrise

Britain is Coming Apart Too - R.R. Reno, First Things

How The Media Attack Religious Liberty - David Harsanyi, The Federalist

Coming To A Preschool Near You? - Michael Avramovich, Touchstone

Achieving Our Republican Greatness - Richard Reinsch, Liberty Law Blog

Daredevil Isn’t Catholic Enough: A Superhero Fisk - Lori Janeski, The Catholic Geeks

Sorry, Donald Trump Is Nothing Like Paul Ryan - David Harsanyi, The Federalist

The Misguided Compassion of Social Justice Catholics - Dana R. Casey, Crisis

After the "G-Word" Has Been Spoken - George Weigel, First Things

Why You Should Keep Backyard Chickens - Daniel Payne, The Federalist

The Future of American Catholicism - Elliot Milco, First Things

Campus Lunacy, Part II - Walter Williams, Human Events

What The Federalist Party Platform Would Look Like - Paul David Miller, The Federalist

Justice, Tyrannicide, and Wars of ‘Liberation - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics

Moral Complicity at Court: Who Decides? - Matthew Kacsmaryk, Public Discourse

Setting the Prisoner Free - Randall Smith, Catholic Thing

Was Russell Kirk Right about the Gulf War? - Birzer & Fuller, Imaginative Conservative

April 5, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/5/2016

Confederate Fortification at Yorktown

Why Pro-Lifers Don’t Support Punishing Women For Abortion - Rachel Lu, The Federalist

Lessons from the Bubble Quiz #1 - Charles Murray, AEI

Stanford Students Fight Campus Groupthink - Stella Moribito, The Federalist

How the Church Failed Fishtown - Stephen Schmalhofer, First Things

The Sad Career of Justice Stephen Breyer - Allen Porter Mendenhall, Imaginative Conservative

Why Do They Like Trump? - Mark Bauerlein, First Things

A Novel Out of Time - Marc Mason, University Bookman

Trump’s Very Predictable Problems - Ross Douthat, NYT

Preferences for Asians - Carol Iannone, NRO

Reign of Terror on College Campuses - Tyler O'Neil, PJ Media

Socrates on Democracy and the Just City - Eva Brann, Imaginative Conservative

To Render the Deeds of Mercy - James Conley, First Things

Why the Government Shouldn’t Ban “Reparative Therapy” - Walt Heyer, Public Discourse

The Church and the Moral Framework of the Economy - Hadley Arkes, The Catholic Thing

Cruz Makes His Stand In Wisconsin - John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist

April 4, 2016

CathCon Daily - 4/4/2016

Ansel Adams - Boulder Dam

Katharine Drexel - Catherine Addington, First Things

Harvard Law Chases The Seal Of Good Identity Politics - Daniel Oliver, The Federalist

Reading Kaveny on "Little Sisters" - Kevin Walsh, Mirror of Justice

Trump Tries the Art of Intimidation - John Fund, NRO

Speaking of Backing Cruz - Rich Lowry, NRO

On Men’s and Women’s Athletics - Scott Yenor, Public Discourse

In Honor of an Uppity Nun - Timothy George, First Things

"Daredevil" Season Two - Brad Miner. The Catholic Thing

Last Stand for Religious Liberty - Bruce Frohnen, Imaginative Conservative

Christian Right’s Weakened Influence - Elaina Plott, NRO

Not By Politics Alone: Arts and Humanities - Claes Ryn, Imaginative Conservative

North Carolina Fights...Blackmail Over Trans Bathroom Law - D.C McAllister, The Federalist

Obama Punishes North Carolina For Protecting Women’s Rights - Valerie M. Hudson, The Federalist

Ornery Lion of the Law - Lauren Weiner, Liberty Law Blog

Social Mobility and the Inequality Crisis - Joel Kotkin, New Geography

Anti-Bullying or the Liberal Agenda? - Mike Rappaport, Liberty Law Blog

Big Leak, Big Corruption, Deep Rot - American Interest

April 3, 2016

CathCon Sunday - 4/3/2016

Dali - Christ of St. John of the Cross

Adams Explains Trumpism - Richard Samuelson, Liberty Law Blog

Bank Says It No Longer Lends to Firearms Dealers - Kelsey Harkness, Daily Signal

The Best Tolkien Adaptations - David Griffey, Daffey Thoughts

Why Churches Should Be Beautiful - Dwight Longenecker, Imaginative Conservative

The Historical & Christian Roots of Marriage - David Theroux, Imaginative Conservative

April 2, 2016

My Understanding of the Benedict Option

It can never be too strongly emphasized that the crisis which Western man is undergoing today is a metaphysical one; there is probably no more dangerous illusion that that of imagining that some readjustment of social or institutional conditions could suffice of itself to appease a contemporary sense of disquiet which rises, in fact, from the very depths of man’s being. - Gabriel Marcel
What follows is a ramble. It may make more or less sense to the reader, but it is more intended as a spillover for my own thoughts.

While I am not sure of the progenitor of the idea, Rod Dreher, writer for The American Conservative (among other outlets) and author of several books (such as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life) is surely the greatest cheerleader for what has become known as "The Benedict Option." The precise contours of the Benedict Option are a subject of ongoing discussion and clarification, but it takes its cue from Alasdair MacIntyre's critiques in After Virtue. In Dreher's words:
The “Benedict Option” refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, and who therefore are keen to construct local forms of community as loci of Christian resistance against what the empire represents. Put less grandly, the Benedict Option — or “Ben Op” — is an umbrella term for Christians who accept MacIntyre’s critique of modernity, and who also recognize that forming Christians who live out Christianity according to Great Tradition requires embedding within communities and institutions dedicated to that formation.
The Benedict Option has spawned a range of discussion and criticism - from those who argue that the withdrawal from the world associated with St. Benedict of Nursia (which action Dreher vigorously disputes) is the incorrect stance for Christians in modern times, to those who accuse the project of being ill-defined, to those who argue that St. Benedict is not the saint whom we should emulate.

I have read a great deal of Dreher's (and other's) comments on the Benedict Option. Apparently, Dreher is working on a book which will explain it in greater detail. However, I think I can analogize it to the journey of the Nine Walkers, particularly Sam and Frodo, but involving the others at times as well. With the awareness that Tolkien detested allegory, I believe the Lord of the Rings can illustrate how the Benedict Option might work in ideal, if not in practice.

For those familiar with the Lord of the Rings (if you aren't...you should be - and stop reading now...spoiler alert), Frodo and Sam, due to Frodo's possession of the One Ring (received from Bilbo) leave Hobbiton and go on a journey, eventually carrying the One Ring to be destroyed in Orodruin. Along the journey, naturally, they meet both enemies and friends.

In fact, at one point, early in the journey while still in the Shire, the four Hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry, & Pippen) are rescued (so to speak) from a Nazgul by the appearance of journeying elves. Soon after, at supper, one elf (Gildor Inglorion) says to Frodo: "The Wandering Companies shall know of your journey, and those that have power for good shall be on the watch." Similarly, Elrond says, when they begin the "official" journey to Mount Doom: "You will meet many foes, some open, and some disguised; and you may find friends upon your way when you least look for it."

As they journey, the various characters that make up the adventure end up at different "stops" along the way. Each stop is an island in a gathering storm - Gandalf notes that, if the One Ring stays at rest in Rivendell, "sooner or later Rivendell will be besieged, and after a brief and bitter time it will be destroyed."

These islands are not all alike - some are locations simply of men - others more mystical. I include in this (for lack of an "official" list): the early elf meeting above Woodhall, Farmer Maggot's home, Tom Bombadil's home, The Prancing Pony / Bree, Rivendell, Lorien, Osgiliath, Rohan, Fangorn, and Minas Tirith. There may be others which I have missed, but this is at least a nearly-complete list. Each place is different - even the realms of the elves - Rivendell and Lorien, different greatly from one another - both in type and in grandeur. What is notable, seemingly partaking of a sort of "hero's journey," is that, at each island, the journeymen may: be given advice and counsel and hope and warning, be tested, learn wisdom, receive traveling companions, receive armor and weaponry. This is in addition to any mentors the journeymen may encounter at these islands, or receive as companions from the islands.

What else is remarkable about these islands is that they are dedicated to preservation / conservation of traditional ways of life, and dedicated to an idea of the True Good, each in their own way. As Aragorn converses with Barliman Butterbur, the innkeeper of the Prancing Pony in Bree, they reveal this orientation:
'They come from Mordor,' said Strider in a low voice.... 
'Save us!' cried Mr. Butterbur turning pale.... 'That is the worst news that has come to Bree in my time.' 
'It is,' said Frodo. 'Are you still willing to help me?'
'I am,' said Mr. Butterbur. 'More than ever. Though I don't know what the likes of me can do against, against —' he faltered.
'Against the Shadow in the East,' said Strider quietly. 'Not much, Barliman, but every little helps. 
The majority of the islands mentioned, even Osgiliath, which harbors Faramir's band, are places of long-standing cultural importance, and occasionally, places of deep learning and wisdom, apart from any who may reside there. The reasons they are able to provide the travelers with strength, wisdom, and hope is precisely because of their deep-rooted traditions and because of their dedication to preserving them. Without such islands, there could be no help for the hero - no wisdom, advice, mentorship, etc.

This is how I conceive of communities following a Benedict Option idea. They must become islands in a storm for those weary of the world. Yet, their purpose is not to provide a permanent retreat from the world, but a place for those living out Christ's Great Commandment to rest, to take counsel and to give it, to discuss around fires and in the light how best to renew the world. Then travelers must depart, knowing they leave a place of safety and belief, but also knowing such places await behind and in front. As Gandalf notes when he returns from the dead and is taken to Lorien:
Thus it was that I came to Caras Galadhon and found you but lately gone. I tarried there in the ageless time of that land where days bring healing not decay. Healing I found, and I was clothed in white. Counsel I gave and counsel took.
And so, these communities are dedicated to making Christians of people - Christians with knowledge, wisdom, Faith, courage, and preparedness. Christ was the original progenitor of the Benedict Option, when:
These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without pay, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart.  As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomor′rah than for that town.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes. Matthew 10 5-23.
And so the purpose of forming communities is to become both beacons and oases, calls to the weary and the wayfarer. Places that will be worthy houses of peace amidst the storm, of which one surely gathers even now.