Ted, Eunice and Abortion

August 31, 2009


An excellent and informative op-ed in the New York Times today:

Only 13 days separated the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics, from the death of her brother Ted last week. But amid the wall-to-wall coverage and the stream of retrospectives for the senior senator from Massachusetts, it was easy to forget that he wasn’t the only famous Kennedy sibling to enter eternity this month.

Liberalism’s most important legislator probably merited a more extended send-off than his sister. But there’s a sense in which his life’s work and Eunice’s deserve to be remembered together — for what their legacies had in common, and for what ultimately separated them.

What the siblings shared — in addition to the grace, rare among Kennedys, of a ripe old age and a peaceful death — was a passionate liberalism and an abiding Roman Catholic faith. These two commitments were intertwined: Ted Kennedy’s tireless efforts on issues like health care, education and immigration were explicitly rooted in Catholic social teaching, and so was his sister’s lifelong labor on behalf of the physically and mentally impaired.

What separated them was abortion.

Read the rest here.  

Evolution and Original Sin: How to Read Genesis 1-3

August 29, 2009

Augustine once said something to the effect that Original Sin was the easiest doctrine for him to believe in.  All he had to do was look around.  Although that may be the case, it may also be one of the hardest doctrines to explain.  In this post it is my intention to examine in by no means an exhaustive way the testimony of Scripture.  In the subsequent post I will then begin a reflection on the more metaphysical implications of the doctrine.  

The doctrine itself comes not from Genesis 1-3 but from Romans 5:12. The meaning of the universality of sin is only understood in light of the universality of grace. Since the death of Christ is capable of saving all, then all the world must have been under the captivity of sin. Read the rest of this entry »

Randall Terry doing it again

August 28, 2009

terry2The same people who ruined things at Notre Dame are at it again. This is the latest that Randall Terry has been up to at a town hall meeting in Virginia:

While supporters dominated inside the auditorium, opponents made a splash outside the high school gymnasium with street theater.

The Moran town hall was the last stop on a 10-city tour for Randall Terry, the anti-abortion activist known for his extreme tactics.

Terry’s colleagues put on a skit with a man in an Obama mask pretending to whip a bloodied woman, who kept saying, “Massa, don’t hit me no more. I got the money to kill the babies.”

Terry himself dressed in a doctor’s lab coat and pretended to stab a woman in a gray wig. Read the rest of this entry »

The Wisdom of Old Age

August 27, 2009


In his exuberance for the progress of scientific knowledge, Francis Bacon coined the paradox, antiquitas saeculi, juventus mundi—“Antiquity is the youth of the world.”  By this he meant only the now commonplace view that human knowledge progresses.  What we commonly regard as ancient is so only according to a backward reckoning from the present.  By the forward reckoning of the world itself, however, the present age qualifies as the eldest of epochs.  Therefore, the views of the present—not those of the remote past—ought to enjoy the prestige and deference ascribed to hoary old age.  

At least on occasion, however, it seems that Bacon got his age typology backwards.  The most recently founded fields of study, for instance, often show a peculiar and youthful zeal for proving the obvious. Read the rest of this entry »

WD’s WhyTunes, Vol. 2: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix

August 27, 2009

Phoenix_mg_5773It is tempting to dismiss the latest album from the band Phoenix as the work of shallow men.  The French band, who sing in English (mon Dieu!), might be reduced to a charming recipe: mix addictive melodies and dancing beats, blend with gently angst-filled lyrics, top with references to Franz Liszt and Mozart, and serve chilled, poolside.

This judgment is tempting, but I think it sells short what lead singer Thomas Mars and his bandmates are doing. Underneath all the seductive pop is a reckoning with deeper struggles.  They want something greater than the frenzy.  They want eternity, but they are not sure how to get it. Read the rest of this entry »

Romantic Disentanglements

August 23, 2009


Since today’s lectionary readings include Paul’s exhortation on the “great mystery” of Christian marriage, I thought it a seasonable time to reflect on that beleaguered institution.  Paul’s profound meditation features the imperative that furnishes the interpretive key for the entire passage, “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  One might also have heard the bowdlerized “shorter form,” which substitutes for the aforementioned verse (and others) the more treacly encouragement to “live in love.”  In an age in which love is so easily sentimentalized, something is lost in the process.  The stern, objective ring of “subordination” has the advantage of making the minimum requirements of marriage admirably clear—and refreshingly unromantic.

Striking this more dutiful note also begins to deflate the arguments of marriage’s recent detractors.  Take, as one instance among many, the case against marriage recently published in the Atlantic. Read the rest of this entry »

Evolution and Original Sin: Where Are the Parameters Today?

August 22, 2009

As I prepare to kick off a series of reflections on the impact of evolutionary theory on the doctrine of Original Sin and our first parents, I must start with a brief analysis of the state of the question of “first parents.”  Can we hold that there were more than two original human beings?  After all, the Catechism states in paragraph 375: 

The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice”. This grace of original holiness was “to share in. . .divine life”. Read the rest of this entry »