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Pope says early Christians a model for ‘digital age’ Church By Kerri Lenartowick

Pope says early Christians a model for ‘digital age’ Church

By Kerri Lenartowick

Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square Dec. 4. Credit: Kyle Burkhart / CNA.

Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square Dec. 4. Credit: Kyle Burkhart / CNA.

Vatican City, Dec 7, 2013 / 11:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Today Pope Francis met with members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity who had gathered to discuss the theme, “Announcing Christ in the digital age.”

“The internet is a widespread reality, complex and in continual evolution, and its development re-proposes the ever-present question of the relationship between faith and culture,” the Pope said Dec. 7 to the participants of the council’s 26th plenary assembly.

“Already during the first centuries of Christianity, the Church wanted to face the extraordinary heritage of the Greek culture. Facing a very profound philosophy and an educational method of exceptional value, but soaked in pagan elements, the (early Christian) Fathers were not closed to debate, but on the other hand neither did they surrender to compromise with certain ideas contrary to faith,” the Pope explained.

“They knew, rather, to identify and assimilate the more elevated concepts, transforming them from the inside by the light of the Word of God.”

The pontiff linked this approach to that of St. Paul, who wrote, “examine everything and keep what is good.”

“Between the opportunities and the dangers of the network, it is necessary to ‘examine everything,’ conscious that we will find counterfeits, dangerous illusions, and snares to be avoided,” he cautioned.

“But, guided by the Holy Spirit, we will also discover precious opportunities to lead mankind to the luminous face of the Lord.”

Pope Francis then explained the challenges in digital communications faced by the Church.

“Amongst the possibilities,” he noted, “the most important regards the announcement of the gospel.” Moreover, “it’s not sufficient to acquire technological competence, although that is important.”

Rather, at the crux “it is a matter, first of all, of meeting real women and men, often injured or lost, in order to offer them real reasons for hope.”

This announcement of the gospel cannot happen apart from “authentic and direct human relationships” which then lead to “a personal meeting with the Lord.” Therefore,  concluded the Pope, “the internet is not enough, technology is not sufficient.”

“This is not to say that the presence of the Church on the internet is useless; on the contrary, it is indispensable to be present, always with evangelical style,” he noted.
It is necessary because the internet “has become for everyone, especially for youth, a kind of environment of life.” The Church’s presence there can serve “to awaken the irrepressible questions of the heart, about the meaning of life, and to indicate the way that leads to Him who is rest, the divine mercy made flesh, the Lord Jesus.”

The Pope closed his audience by thanking the members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity for their work.

“Dear friends, the Church is always in a journey, to search again for new ways to announce the gospel. The contribution and witness of the lay faithful reveals itself more every day to be indispensable.”

Against Conformity by Bradley J. Birzer


Against Conformity

by Bradley J. Birzer

This week, on Facebook, The Imaginative Conservative republicized the late Joseph Sobran’s article regarding the supposed errors of Abraham Lincoln. While one should never have too much faith in commentators on the internet, especially those who hide behind anonymity, one rather outraged and intelligent young man posted something to the effect of “I don’t know why The Imaginative Conservative hates Lincoln so much.”

I couldn’t disagree more with the tone of this comment. As Peter Lawler has reminded readers on more than one occasion, The Imaginative Conservative is one of the—if not the—most open minded, broad, and ecumenical websites in the conservative, broadly understood and defined, world.

If this young man thought this through, one must wonder what he believes happens at The Imaginative Conservative headquarters. Does he have an image of Editor-in-Chief Winston Elliott as a sword or whip-wielding editor, forcing every post through some ideological churn, separating the “pure” from the “impure”? Frankly, the idea of the writers of The Imaginative Conservative having a group mind or some kind of conformist view of things is simply absurd.

Aside from this, I believe it critical—absolutely critical—to note that a conservatism that embraces conformity or group think is no conservatism at all. It is merely a bizarre and unthinking traditionalism.

Any real conservatism must take into account several things. First, conservatism must accept the principle that each person is a unique reflection of the infinite. That is, each new person in the world arrives in a certain time and place, armed with certain gifts and weighed down by general faults. This person will never be repeated. She is unique, a particular manifestation of the Infinite and loving face of God.

Second, a real conservatism must accept that there are limits not only to the knowledge and wisdom any one person or group of persons understand or possess, but also a limit to what humanity—from Adam to the last man—can understand.

For as far back as I can remember, conservatism, broadly defined, struck me as the only sensible and humane way to view the world. The liberals I knew and saw in the news (Tip O’Neill and others) were among the most conformist, intolerant, and unimaginative lot…imaginable. When I heard others argue that liberalism (classical or modern) is good because it defends free speech, art, etc., I found it highly implausible. Anyone with the power of reason and observation knew these things to be blatantly and utterly false.

Of course, I read like a madman. In particular, I credit the reading of 1984Fahrenheit 451, andBrave New World as well as the discovery of the rock band Rush at the age of 13 with dramatically shaping my own skepticism regarding conformity and my dread of authority.

Indeed, one of the things I love most about the “right” of the 1940s and 1950s was its desire to fight authority and proclaim the dignity of the human person. Think of Bernard Iddings Bell’s amazing book, Crowd Culture, Kirk’s struggle against “capitalists, socialists, and communists” in a Prospects for Conservatives, Eliot’s call for a “Republic of Letters,” Bradbury’s chastisement of the censors, and, especially, Thomas Merton’s claiming that the mass man is somehow even below fallen humanity.

As I grow older, I’m no longer as sure that conservatism is the protector of real diversity. I’ve not changed my mind about liberals or liberalism as a whole. Liberalism, or what remained of it, ran its course by the beginning of World War II. But, recently, I’ve seen the same trends in those who call themselves conservative or who embrace what they call “conservatism.” Now, I must wonder if what I saw in the 1980s was merely that the conservatives had yet to succumb to the forces of mass thought, group think, etc.

So many people among modern conservatism are, frankly, buffoons. Think about the governor of a western state who became a candidate for a major office and then the “star” of a reality show. Really? Or, how about the well-endowed plastic people on FOX? Or how about those with grand media access who claim to speak for the rest of us? These so called conservatives denigrate the liberal arts, mock women, and undermine our most sacred traditions. Give me a Kirk, a Bradbury, a Merton any day over these fruit-nuts.

I am not a name or a number, I am a free man. And, so are you.


Why “Value” Families? by Bruce Frohnen

Why “Value” Families?

happy_familyIn responding to a post of mine criticizing our liberal culture for its hostility toward the traditional family, a commenter wrote: “I don’t know a single liberal who…doesn’t value (and participate in) both traditional and non-traditional families.” I think it is important to examine this liberal response to conservative criticism, not because the issue can be “settled,” but because it can tell us why liberals and conservatives so often seem to be talking past one another when it comes to social issues.

Conservatives (like me) often are accused of being unfairly censorious in accusing liberals of undermining primary institutions like the family.  After all, the argument goes, we talk about “attacks” on relationships liberals genuinely value.  And there is a way in which this is true—a way that shows why the “culture wars” are not likely to end any time soon.

When someone tells you that he and his liberals friends “value (and participate in) both traditional and non-traditional families” that person expects a fight about just what a “non-traditional family” might be. Most liberals, in my experience, are loaded for bear on this question. “What, you mean just because both parents aren’t present, or both happen to be male, or female, or the family is a mixed one, having been through one or more divorces, or there is no marriage certificate, that it somehow isn’t ‘real’?  Well how intolerant and narrow-minded is that?”

If true, this charge would be a serious one. But it is not. Tragedies occur, as they always have. Children are left to be raised by a single parent—neither death nor abandonment is new. Children are raised by maiden aunts, struggling uncles, and other relatives or adoptive parents. Broken families seek to reform in the wake of one or more tragedies.  And common law marriage grew up to recognize the rights of children and spouses in situations where marriages are difficult to obtain or one spouse (or both) persists in refusing to solemnize the relationship.

The real issue is not what exact form of family we value, but what it means to “value” this fundamental institution of social life.  The difference between the traditional and liberal position, here, is summed up in the term “broken family.”  The term is considered rude, today, because it is seen as indicating that there is something wrong with single parent and other “non-traditional” families. In reality, it is a recognition that something tragic has occurred when spouses die, abuse, walk away, or never marry, leaving children to be raised by fewer or more distant relations.  Countless children have overcome the struggles caused by such a tragedy, and we have a duty to help them in that endeavor.  But pretending that nothing bad has happened is something we do for our own benefit (so that we will not “feel guilty”) not for theirs.

The issue, then, is not the particular shape of a particular family, but rather the understanding of what purpose a family is by nature intended to serve.  Perhaps it is best, here, to go a bit deeper into the charge against conservatives:  not only are we narrow-minded for denying the status of “family” to “non-traditional” relationships, we are, in effect, denying the validity of the feelings of those who live in intimate relationships that don’t fit our definition of “family.”  That is, we are accused of somehow claiming that the feelings of homosexual couples, or non-married co-habitants, or persons in other relationships, are false.

Continue reading

Looking for Another Country: Nostalgia and Desire in C.S.Lewis and T.S.Eliot by Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Looking for Another Country: Nostalgia and Desire in C.S.Lewis and T.S.Eliot

Eliot and LewisThere is an open space in the human heart–a void that seeks fulfillment and a hunger that longs for satisfaction. For the progressive this longing looks to the future. A brave new world is envisioned, an ideology is espoused and an action plan that brooks no dissent is put into place.

For the conservative that same longing is not for a brave new world, but for a serene, old world. The progressive yearns for utopia. The conservative mourns for Eden. The progressive works for a revolution. The conservative seeks a resolution. The progressive destroys the past to build the future. The conservative restores the past to build the future.

The driving motivation for the progressive is a gnawing unhappiness he wishes to placate by fabricating an untried recipe for happiness, while the conservative longs for a tried and true happiness he has lost and wishes to rediscover. This longing for a good that is gone or a bliss that can be faintly remembered is the beating heart of conservatism and the motor of its creativity.

The nostalgia of the conservative is more than a reverence for past wisdom or an immature desire to return to the comfort of the nursery. It is more than the antiquarian’s interest in the artifacts of a bygone age. It is instead an intense bittersweet emotion that lifts and unlocks the heart and motivates creative and positive change.

C.S. Lewis Longing

C.S. Lewis names this longing with the German word sehnsucht. He calls it “the inconsolable longing in the heart for we know not what.” At the end of Pilgrim’s Regress he said it was, “That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World’s End, the opening lines of Kubla Khan, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.”

This longing remains dormant in daily life until it is sparked by a profound aesthetic experience. Suddenly the soul awakes, and the longing is fleetingly fulfilled. C.S. Lewis called this surge in the heart, this uplift “Joy”. This painfully exquisite joy comes unbidden and echoes in his heart like the sounding of the distant horn of a long lost hero.

Continue reading

Pray for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff

Pray for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty

October 23, 2013 | By 

It can be surprisingly easy to forget at times that Catholics and other people of faith are living in an increasingly hostile secular culture. But, we must never forget; we must remain watchful. The U.S. Bishops have called Catholics to prayer, fasting and abstinence for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty. From the “Call to Prayer” Video produced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

“Once all reference to God has been removed, the meaning of everything else becomes profoundly distorted.” (Blessed John Paul II) … “Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty are being threatened. Religious persecution is nothing new…”

Won’t you join in? Watch the video…

Into the deep…


Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™ and usually appears on Sundays and occasionally on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplains to the St. Peter Chanel Business Association and co-founder of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

Looking for a Catholic Speaker?  Check out Deacon Mike’s speaker page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and family using the Share and Recommend buttons below and via email. We value your comments and encourage you to leave your thoughts below. Thank you! – The Editors

– See more at: http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2013/10/deacon-bickerstaff-pray-for-religious-liberty/#sthash.4rzuZEFH.Wtzkjdql.dpuf

Thomas Jefferson on Public Debt by W. Winston Elliott III

Thomas Jefferson on Public Debt

public debt

by Thomas Jefferson

‎”We are ruined, Sir, if we do not over rule the principles that ‘the more we owe, the more prosperous we shall be,’ ‘that a public debt furnishes the means of enterprise,” that if ours should be once paid off, we should incur another by any means however extravagant.”– to James Monroe, 1791

For more on the American Founding visit The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

We hope you will join us in The Imaginative Conservative community. The Imaginative Conservative is an on-line journal for those who seek the True, the Good and the Beautiful. We address culture, liberal learning, politics, political economy, literature, the arts and the American Republic in the tradition of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Burke, Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More, Wilhelm Roepke, Robert Nisbet, M.E. Bradford, Eric Voegelin, Christopher Dawson and other leaders of Imaginative Conservatism (Visit our Bookstore to find books by/about these men).

We address a wide variety of major issues including: What is the essence of conservatism? What was the role of faith in the American Founding? Is liberal learning still possible in the modern academy? Should conservatives and libertarians be allies? What is the proper role for the American Republic in spreading ordered liberty to other cultures/nations?

We have a great appreciation for the thought of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Irving Babbitt and Christopher Dawson, among other imaginative conservatives. However, some of us look at the state of Western culture and the American Republic and see a huge dark cloud which seems ready to unleash a storm that may well wash away what we most treasure of our inherited ways. Others focus on the silver lining which may be found in the next generation of traditional conservatives who have been inspired by Dr. Kirk and his like. We hope that The Imaginative Conservative answers T.S. Eliot’s call to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.”

The Virtues and Vices of Courage: Josef Pieper by Matthew Anger

The Virtues and Vices of Courage: Josef Pieper:

St Thomas Aquinas

by Matthew Anger

“Fortitude without justice is a source of evil.”—St. Thomas Aquinas

The great moralists tell us that a person’s strength is often the source of his greatest weakness, whether it is business acumen, artistic creativity, or physical excellence. Any of these things can be exercised too much or in the wrong way. The same is true of courage. A systematic analysis of this subject is provided by Thomistic philosopher Josef Pieper in his classic work The Four Cardinal Virtues (Ignatius Press). Pieper sums up the virtues in this way: “Prudence looks to all existent reality; justice to the fellow man; the man of fortitude relinquishes, in self-forgetfulness, his own possessions and life. Temperance… aims at each man himself.”

One of the best treatments of courage, and certainly the most famous, is Homer’s Iliad. When reading the epic poem there is no doubting the sheer audacity of the Achaeans besieging Troy, but at the same time these men represent a semi-barbarian warrior culture whose heroes are bent chiefly on plunder and revenge. Even the ancient Greek historian Herodotus argued that “the Greeks… were, in a military sense, the aggressors.” Centuries later the English Catholic poet Dryden put it more bluntly: “Science distinguishes a man of honour from one of those athletic brutes whom, undeservedly, we call heroes. Cursed be the poet, who first honoured with that name a mere Ajax, a man-killing idiot!” Continue reading

Where has the Reader of Conservative Classics Gone? by Glenn Davis

Where has the Reader of Conservative Classics Gone?

Library Classics conservatism conservativeby Glenn Davis

I often reserve my Sunday afternoons for trips to the local university library. These visits are bittersweet, for although I live in an area of the country which is considered to be “very conservative” and is very Republican (the Democratic Party often does not field a complete list of candidates in an election), I rarely have any trouble finding available in the stacks works by and about the major conservative writers whom I esteem. Am I truly the only reader of Kirk, Weaver, and Voegelin in a town with a university of 30,000 students?

Today was a typical jaunt which led me to the stacks on a quest to find the following works: The Counter-Revolution by Thomas Molnar, Paul Elmer More and American Criticism by Robert Shafer,Democracy and Populism by John Lukacs, and Democracy without Nations? by Pierre Manent. Lucky for me, I had absolutely no problem in acquiring these works as they were neatly situated on the shelves. “Neatly” is key here, for this library is not one of the better organized ones that I have frequented. If a book is easily found, it has probably not been borrowed for a long time. Sure enough, after finding each work, I opened the front covers and found the following dates for the most recent readings: the More book was last borrowed in January, 1968; Molnar had one perusal in January, 1974; I am the first to borrow the Manent book (published 2007). But the Lukacs book was borrowed in April, 2006 (I am pretty sure that I was the previous borrower).

So what does this say about conservatives and conservatism? How is the conservative imagination to be enlivened if, as I believe, self-described conservatives limit themselves to…to what? Fox News? Sean Hannity? Mornings on the Mall with Glenn Beck? Lunch with Limbaugh? Sure, this is only one man’s experience in the great American Outback, but didn’t Professor Carey hit the proverbial nail on the head when, writing in 2005 about the future of American conservatism, he recognized that the leadership of the Republican Party showed little interest in the roots and traditions of conservatism and that “the Republican Party has, so to speak, changed its spots virtually without attracting much critical attention”? And that George W. Bush’s “aggressive foreign policy, perhaps best described as Wilsonianism on steroids, has its roots in the traditions of the Democratic Party and clearly runs counter to well-established conservative principles” [Modern Age, Vol. 47, pp. 292-293]? How do we keep alive the great tradition when our leadership has vacated our heritage?

Many years ago, in graduate school, I overheard someone assert that one difference between the two major political parties was that Republicans did not read books, and Democrats read the wrong books. Browsing the shelves of university and public libraries has not disabused me of that assertion. What is a force for optimism, however, is the fact that our literary heritage is still available (Dr. Kirk once wrote, “in and age of progressive inflation, one commodity alone remains stable, or increases little in price: classical works”), and is being kept alive through blogs like this, through independent educational centers (thank you, Barbara and Winston), and at select schools and universities. We are few, a happy few, but we have our work cut out for us.

Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Essays by Dr. Davis may be found here.

Glenn A. Davis is a Senior Contributor to The Imaginative Conservative and the Academic Dean at All Saints Episcopal School in Lubbock, Texas where he teaches Latin and Russian. He holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His dissertation topic was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s historical imagination. He has published in the Slavic and East European Journal, Christianity and Literature, Modern Age, and Humanitas.


The Philosophy of the Vampire by John S. Schuler

The Philosophy of the Vampire

draculaby John S. Schuler


Here I am, sitting at a little oak table where in old times possibly some fair lady sat to pen, with much thought and many blushes, her ill-spelt love letter, and writing in my diary in shorthand all that has happened since I closed it last. It is the nineteenth century up-to-date with a vengeance. And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill.— Dracula, by Bram Stoker

I. Dracula, a Narrative History

The rapid journey of Jonathan Harker, protagonist of Dracula, east “among the traditions of Turkish rule” is a spoil of Modernity’s conquest of distance rather than time and space. There is, between the two, literally a world of difference. He journeys to another epoch, a qualitatively different time and place. The time that makes an epoch is a growth, a culture; far richer than the abstraction of the physicists.

They say that people who are near death die generally at the change to dawn or at the turn of the tide. Anyone who has when tired, and tied as it were to his post, experienced this change in the atmosphere can well believe it. All at once we heard the crow of the cock coming up with preternatural shrillness through the clear morning air.— Jonathan Harker

Harker enters a world where natural events have purpose. Evil waxes and wanes with changes of the sun and tides. Biotic rhythms have sacramental potency. Actions have final purpose. Thus Dracula contains no accidents. The vampire hunt arises from a culture of friendships. Thus its narrative is a written account of these things which grew together and is properly called an ecology. Continue reading

Asking Aaron Clarey: Has America seen its best days? by Joseph Cotto

Asking Aaron Clarey: Has America seen its best days?


The popular economist shares his opinion on this and more.
OCALA, Fla., August 22, 2013 — The boy throws a baseball to his father, and Dad catches it in the palm of his gloved hand.

“Nice toss, son!” He says with an encouraging smile.

Afterward, his daughter shouts “Here it comes, Dad!” and tosses the baseball. Like before, Dad reaches for the ball and catches it in midair.

“Great toss, sweetheart,” he states.

Later, a different boy warns “Get ready, Dad!” and sends the baseball off. Unlike before, Dad is not the typical suburban-looking thirtysomething, but a life-sized check from the federal government. The ball hits the check and bounces off of it, falling to the ground shortly before Uncle Sam’s subsidy does.

As the check struggles on the grass, a narrator offers some insightful words: “Government checks; they can replace fathers, but not very well.”

The scene then cuts to an advertisement for economist Aaron Clarey’s ebooks. One of these, released earlier this year, is entitled “Enjoy the Decline”. It draws the conclusion that America is so far gone socioeconomically that all concerned citizens can do is sit back and relax as the country deteriorates.

Yesterday, Clarey spoke about how and why he determined that our country is falling down. Today, he shares more of his views on the subject.

For instance, why has he encouraged people to enjoy the United States’s decline? Continue reading

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