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Rush Limbaugh: Abortion is at the Heart of Society’s Ills by Calvin Freilburger

abortion-060109-main-425x282Rush Limbaugh: Abortion is at the Heart of Society’s Ills

by Calvin Freiburger

On his radio show Friday, Rush Limbaugh delivered a powerful monologue (transcriptvideo) asserting that in addition to its innate monstrousness, abortion is “at the root of our cultural decay” as a nation, its impact stretching from respect for life and personal responsibility to crime, immigration, and the economy:

If you use the popularly accepted figure of 1.3 million abortions a year, go back to Roe vs. Wade 1973, 52 million taxpayers haven’t been born, is the way Washington looks at it. They don’t look at it morally. They don’t look at it in any kind of cultural way or any kind of cultural impact. They just say we’re 52 million people short. We have 52 million fewer people paying taxes. We gotta replace ‘em. Hello amnesty. The Democrat Party needs a permanent underclass in order to keep themselves alive as Santa Claus, to keep winning elections and stay in power […]

I just want to tell you something. I really think that abortion is at the root — you could do a flowchart — I think abortion is at the root of so much that has and is going wrong in this country. I think that the number of abortions themselves, but what in toto it all means, culturally, in terms of the sanctity of life, how that’s crumbled, I think it’s almost at the root of everything. And if it’s not at the root of everything, it’s clearly had a profound impact on our culture, our society, and our politics, I think in ways that people don’t even stop to consider.

None of it good and it’s caused all kinds of horrible problems that nobody knows how to fix. Because they refuse to even accept that abortion is more than what it is. To most people, it’s just a woman’s right to choose, and it’s nobody’s business, and leave it alone and I don’t want to talk about it. But it’s really had much more impact on this country than just that. It’s had impact on crime. It’s had a profound impact on our politics. It is at the root of our cultural rot and decay. Continue reading

The Definition of a Gentleman by John Henry Newman

The Definition of a Gentleman by John Henry Newman

definition of a gentleman

by Cardinal John Henry Newman

Hence it is that it is almost a definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain. This description is both refined and, as far as it goes, accurate. He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him; and he concurs with their movements rather than takes the initiative himself. His benefits may be considered as parallel to what are called comforts or conveniences in arrangements of a personal nature; like an easy chair or a good fire, which do their part in dispelling cold and fatigue, though nature provides both means of rest and animal heat without them.

The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast — all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at his ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favors while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort; he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets everything for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp saying for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out.

From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny.

If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but less educated minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more involved than they find it. He may be right or wrong in his opinion, but he is too clear-headed to be unjust; he is as simple as he is forcible, and as brief as he is decisive. Nowhere shall we find greater candor, consideration, indulgence: he throws himself into the minds of his opponents, he accounts for their mistakes. He knows the weakness of human reason as well as its strength, its province and its limits.

If he be an unbeliever, he will be too profound and large-minded to ridicule religion or to act against it; he is too wise to be a dogmatist or fanatic in his infidelity. He respects piety and devotion; he even supports institutions as venerable, beautiful, or useful, to which he does not assent; he honors the ministers of religion, and it contents him to decline its mysteries without assailing or denouncing them. He is a friend of religious toleration, and that, not only because his philosophy has taught him to look on all forms of faith with an impartial eye, but also from the gentleness and effeminacy of feeling, which is the attendant on civilization.

Not that he may not hold a religion too, in his own way, even when he is not a Christian. In that case his religion is one of imagination and sentiment; it is the embodiment of those ideas of the sublime, majestic, and beautiful, without which there can be no large philosophy. Sometimes he acknowledges the being of God, sometimes he invests an unknown principle or quality with the attributes of perfection. And this deduction of his reason, or creation of his fancy, he makes the occasion of such excellent thoughts, and the starting-point of so varied and systematic a teaching, that he even seems like a disciple of Christianity itself. From the very accuracy and steadiness of his logical powers, he is able to see what sentiments are consistent in those who hold any religious doctrine at all, and he appears to others to feel and to hold a whole circle of theological truths, which exist in his mind no otherwise than as a number of deductions.

Same-Sex Unions: A Short Primer on the Catholic Response by Rev. Ted Martin

Gay-MarriageSame-Sex Unions: A Short Primer on the Catholic Response

by Rev. Ted Martin | May 22, 2013

On June 3, 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a document, with the approval of Blessed John Paul II, called “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.” In this document, the present battle for the reality of marriage as a monogamous and permanent relationship between a man and a woman was given an official response by the Catholic Church.

Of course, the question of the intrinsically evil nature of homosexual acts—not, of course, same-sex attracted people—is not open for discussion. The witness of Sacred Scripture and the entirety of Sacred Tradition is definitive, irreformable and conclusive. Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has spoken numerous times on the theme of marriage and family as opposed to the lie of homosexual activity so as to help Catholics understand both the rational and revelatory reasons for the Church’s teaching. (See “References” below.)

The 2003 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is concerned with two specific questions: legal recognition to homosexual unions and the possibility given to people in these unions to adopt children. Since the document’s publication in 2003, the question of “gay marriage” has been felt more forcefully than ever and the question of civil unions is increasingly being proposed by members of the Christian community as a “lesser of evils” before the possibility of a total redefinition of marriage. So the question becomes: “Can we accept, as a political concession and expediency, the possibility of affording merely civil rights to people who are in homosexual relationships?” (e.g. visiting rights, heredity, etc.).

The question is important and very apropos on account of recent statements by members of the Church hierarchy. The influential Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna has expressed his openness to legalizing homosexual unions for the insurance of the above mentioned civil effects and rights, so long as marriage is not redefined. The former Papal Master of Ceremonies, Piero Marini,has expressed similar sentiments. And finally, the head of the Vatican’s Press Office, Father Lombardi, has made an ambiguous comment that many took to indicate the Church’s openness to civil unions as a form of political concession in the face of laws redefining marriage. To understand better the interventions by the above mentioned priest, bishop and cardinal—all of whom enjoy power and status in officialdom—a short evaluation of the CDF text is helpful. Continue reading

Books That Make Us Human by Carl Olson

Books That Make Us Human: Carl Olson

Carl Olson

by Carl Olson

1. The Bible, It is one of the first books I read (not cover-to-cover, at first, of course), and the first book I memorized passages from as a child. I cannot imagine trying to think about or comprehend the human condition without it. A few specific books within The Good Book that merit note: Genesis and Exodus, the Psalms and The Book of Wisdom, the Gospel of John, and Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.

2. Confessions, by St. Augustine of Hippo. I’ve read it several times now, and I am always amazed by the depth of Augustine’s thinking and emotions, as well as by the clarity and profundity of his expression.

3. Summa Theologica, by St. Thomas Aquinas. It would be a mistake to assume this seminal work of theology/philosophy is dry or merely didactic, because a careful and reflective reading reveals an understanding of man’s origin, nature, and end that has rarely been rivaled.

4. The Sonnets, by William Shakespeare. I’ve enjoyed and profited from many of Shakespeare’s plays, but am drawn again and again back to the sonnets, which express not only the depths of human love, but what it means to be human in the simple and small ways.

5. David Copperfield or Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens. I first read them as a young boy and they brought to life a range of characters and aspects of humanity—the good, the bad, and the ugly—I had never seen or experienced before.

6. Four Quartets, by T. S. Eliot. The Wasteland got (and gets?) more attention, but this mature, post-conversion poem is, I think, the greatest poem of the twentieth-century, and one of the most moving descriptions of life, death, and spiritual awakening ever written.

7. My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok. Certainly my most personal pick, a book I first read as a ten-year-old boy, and then several more times thereafter. An aching portrayal of a Jewish boy and his struggles with faith, family, and personal aspirations.

8. The Abolition of Man, by C. S. Lewis. My favorite book by Lewis, a short but penetrating work about the nature of man. If you want to read it in fictional form, check out Lewis’ “Space Trilogy”: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

9. Lost in the Cosmos, by Walker Percy. A bit quirky, but more than a bit brilliant, full of wit, wisdom, caustic charm, and some very challenging questions about what it means to be human in a post-Christian, post-modern culture.

10. Redemptor Hominis, by Blessed John Paul II. The late Holy Father’s first encyclical (March 1979) is essential for anyone who wishes to understand his thought and his Christ-centric understanding of humanity: “The Redeemer of Man, Jesus Christ, is the centre of the universe and of history.” Amen.

Carl Olson is an incredibly cool human.  He’s also editor of Ignatius Insight, a husband, a father, an author, an artist, and a collector of good music.  His website is: http://www.carl-olson.com/Site/Welcome.html

Frankenstein: Prometheus Mythic & Modern by Sean Fitzpatrick

Frankenstein: Prometheus Mythic & Modern


by Sean Fitzpatrick

The womb and the tomb—one of the most striking mirror images that our lives have to offer. Babies are buried alive in their warm mothers’ girth. Bodies are dead and buried in their cold mother earth. For one, there is the darkness of genesis and growth, for the other, the darkness of death and decay. The former are born to live for a span; the latter will be reborn to live for an eternity.

This pregnant parallel has been given immortal imagery in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. The mythic Prometheus is famous for creating men. The modern Prometheus is infamous for creating monsters. Both are tormented as a result of their creations, punished for the prideful usurping of a creative power that ultimately renders their creation deficient. The mythic Prometheus suffers for defying the supernatural, the modern Prometheus for defying the natural.

On what wings dare he aspire?  What the hand, dare seize the fire?

William Blake’s poem, “The Tyger,” instigates a dark literary trend of creature questioning and creator cursing, whose questions and curses are echoed by Milton’s Adam, and again by Shelley’s demon. For all of its modern connotations, however, Frankenstein represents an old story of creature rebellion. These rebellions had their birth with Lucifer’s “Non serviam,” and continue to rage with every fit of fallen nature and every man-made object that enslaves man. Victor Frankenstein is both rebel and victim of rebellion, as he turns his back on the order of things, forging into territory reserved for gods, only to be beset by the monstrous offspring of his sin. And as a monster, the creature is very much made in the image and likeness of his creator.

Continue reading

Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture: Younger than Sin by Catherine Sims

Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture: Younger than Sin

by Catherine Sims

 Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture Crouched on the side of Notre Dame Avenue, visually eclipsed by the splendor of the Golden Dome, McKenna Hall is about as unprepossessing a building as you could imagine. Yet this past weekend, hundreds of scholars, professors, and students shook down the thunder from the sky within the drab enclosure of its walls.

From November 18 though the 20th, the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture held its 11th annual Fall Conference in McKenna. Entitled “Younger than Sin” the conference explored the recovery of simplicity through childlike joy, wonder, and humility. Such a topic naturally generated papers and presentations of the fine academic quality one would expect from one of the Center’s conferences. But the awestruck looks on the faces of the audience members listening to Fr. John Saward on St Thomas Aquinas’ childlike wonder bespoke another quality that suffused the conference: beauty.

When an elderly British priest delivering a talk on Thomistic theology moves his listeners to tears in an opening keynote address, the peculiar nature of the event should leave a deep impression. Fr. Saward’s description of St. Thomas’ joyful pursuit of God emphasized the Dumb Ox’s deep and abiding humility, and set the tone for the entire conference. There were other highlights: Anthony Esolen on the innocence in Dante and Shakespeare and Ralph Wood on Chesterton’s love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, but the truly amazing aspect of this conference was the omnipresent beauty and wonder characterized by the childlike approach to God.

The Center’s latest conference was its largest in both participants and attendees, and the effect this bastion of Catholic intellectual thought has on the academic world is quite simply inspiring.  The University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and Baylor University in Texas both sent large delegations of students and professors; as Director David Solomon noted, there were more college students at this conference than at any previous Fall Conference to date.

I cannot help but see the Center for Ethics and Culture as the last great stand for Truth in Catholic intellectual thought at Notre Dame. David Solomon and the staff, fellows, and trustees of the Center are the fearless warriors in the clash of orthodoxies, as uncompromising in their stand for truth as they are in their insistence on the beauty of that truth. They perpetually labor to bring the glory of Catholicism to the student body of Notre Dame through the encyclicals and work of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They never cease to go further up and further in, their joy and wonder unsullied despite the petty politics and power grabs that are apparently inescapable in University administration. Theirs is a grander cause, that rises above the ebb and flow of popularity.

Because of this, Solomon’s everlasting optimism still compels even in the face of administrative hostility. There is a sense in which the Center is too big to kill; not in terms of financing, but in terms of what will live on in the imagination of all the people from around the country they were able to touch in their conferences, especially this latest one.

The Golden Dome will not grow too dull to reflect the sunlight so long as the Center remains on Notre Dame’s campus. The Virgin Mary atop the Dome may be a Mater Dolorosa in these dark times. But as long as the Center continues to contend for the permanent things at a University suffering the temptation to compromise for prestige, old Notre Dame may win over all.

Books on the topic discussed in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

Catherine Sims, a native of Washington State, is a junior majoring in American Studies at Hillsdale College, Michigan.  She is also an ISI Honors Fellow.

007′s Masculine Mystique by Stephen B. Tippins, Jr.

007′s Masculine Mystique

James Bond is more than a glamorous womanizer.

Illustration by Michael Hogue

Illustration by Michael Hogue

Fiction sometimes has a way of transcending its most ardent limitation, which is that it is fiction. Just ask Eric Holder, who probably never thought he’d be cast as the villain in a Vin Diesel flick.

Fiction’s most successful transcending phenomenon, though, is probably Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007, haberdasher’s muse and the world’s most famous secret agent (never mind the oxymoron). Ever en vogue, Bond this summer made a cameo during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics—an impressive feat for any actual man, let alone a made-up one. But then transforming from fictional character to Olympic ambassador is probably an easier task for Bond than his other real-life obligation: defending the West against itself.

Kingsley Amis’s Bond

Two things struck me while recently re-watching “The Spy Who Loved Me,” the tenth James Bond film and the one that the 12 year-old in me still remembers as having starred Caroline Munro. Roger Moore’s turn as 007 may not have been as literary as Timothy Dalton’s or Daniel Craig’s, but he still interpreted the role as something far edgier than Beau Maverick in a tux, even if he doesn’t get credit for it.

More importantly: even though I’ve always seen very little attenuation between Ian Fleming’s novels and Cubby Broccoli’s screen treatments, I could never explain why. Until now. I’ve finally realized that Fleming’s Bond (often brooding, sometimes sadistic and occasionally cruel) and the cinematic incarnation (often quick to quip and far more obsessed with sex) exist in the same world, one that shares very little with the world that you or I inhabit. But it’s not the metal-jawed giants, volcanic lairs, and poisonous gardens that differentiate Bond’s world from ours. It’s the politics.

Bond doesn’t have a political agenda in the usual sense. In fact, much has been written about the apolitical context within which Bond is usually framed. The Soviets were seldom the primary antagonists, often giving way to politically nonaffiliated madmen who hate East and West indiscriminately. Domestic issues are rarely evoked: there’s some tangential racism in Fleming’s Live and Let Die (attributable to the mores of the time and a Tom Wolfe-like attempt at recreating some urban dialect); there’s a nondescript energy crisis that has everybody—even stiff-collared Tories—up in arms in Guy Hamilton’s underrated “The Man with the Golden Gun;” “Quantum of Solace” portrays an ecologically savvy terrorist. But other than that, and some similar peripherals, the only extent to which Bond has ever been accused of being political has been the occasional complaint from the enlightened left that the world of espionage entails a far greater moral ambiguity than all the girls, gadgets and martinis suggest. (Which is fine. But Jason Bourne is still a whiny bore.) Continue reading

The Art of Conversation: How to Avoid Conversational Narcissism by Brett & Kate McKay

The Art of Conversation: How to Avoid Conversational Narcissism

by BRETT & KATE MCKAY on MAY 1, 2011


Last month I met up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in forever to have lunch. Having both read and written about how to be an effective and charismatic conversationalist, I followed the old dictum of listening more than talking and asking the other person engaging questions about themselves. This is supposed to charm your conversation partner. I guess it worked because my friend talked about himself for an hour straight and didn’t ask me a single question.

When we’ve talked about the ins and outs of making good conversation before, someone inevitably asks, “But what if both people keep trading questions back and forth?” Well, that’s a pretty good problem to have, but I’ve yet to see it happen. Instead, most folks seem to struggle with asking any questions at all and have a very difficult time relinquishing the floor.

In a time where a lot of the old social supports people relied upon have disappeared, people have become starved for attention. They bring this hunger to their conversations, which they see as competitions in which the winner is able to keep the attention on themselves as much as possible. And this is turning the skill of conversation-making into a lost art.

Conversational Narcissism

In The Pursuit of Attention, sociologist Charles Derber shares the fascinating results of a study done on face-to-face interactions, in which researchers watched 1,500 conversations unfold and recorded how people traded and vied for attention. Dr. Derber discovered that despite good intentions, and often without being aware of it, most people struggle with what he has termed “conversational narcissism.” Continue reading

The Decline of Virtue by David Bozeman

The Decline of Virtue

by David Bozeman

Bottom line: American politics is a rotten popularity contest.  Every four years freedom hinges on one man’s ability to navigate a minefield of slander and spin and to assuage one more group than the other guy.  Conventional wisdom says that voters prefer clean campaigns based on issues as opposed to mudslinging, outright pandering and blatant calculation.

If only. The current immigration reform bill being debated represents just the latest cynical, numbers-based, group-focused political calculation.  Both parties are hedging their bets on winning the votes of a large group, in this case, Hispanics, roughly 20 million of whom could ultimately gain citizenship under the proposed legislation.

Its bi-partisan support is baffling, given that its passage might be an electoral disaster, if not a death knell, for the Republican Party.  Hispanics have supported President Obama and his re-distributionist, transformative policies by overwhelming margins.  GOP support of a single issue — amnesty, for instance — may yield only marginal support.

But our public servants crunch numbers and flush founding principles and the values of their law-abiding, traditional-minded constituents down the toilet.  With not nearly enough jobs to go around and state and local budgets buckling under massive debt (and let’s not forget ever-increasing health care costs), self-serving politicians are placing party before country, with Democrats, at least, sharp enough not to destroy themselves by empowering the other side. Continue reading

Patrick Henry Warned About Infringement on Liberty by Thomas S. Kidd

Patrick Henry Warned About Infringement on Liberty

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry

by Thomas S. Kidd

At the conclusion of Virginia’s 1788 ratification convention, a meeting tasked with voting on the new Constitution, Patrick Henry strode to the assembly floor, convinced that the future of American liberty hung in the balance. In his mind’s eye, the great orator warned, he could see angels watching, “reviewing the political decisions and revolutions which in the progress of time will happen in America, and the consequent happiness or misery of mankind–I am led to believe that much of the account on one side or the other, will depend on what we now decide.”

To Americans familiar only with Henry’s blazing “Liberty or Death” oration of 1775, it may come as a shock to learn that Henry opposed the adoption of the Constitution. Henry always had a flair for the dramatic, but on this occasion Mother Nature offered him an improbable assist: As he thundered against the dangers of the new centralized government, a howling storm rose outside the Richmond hall. Frightened delegates scurried to take cover.

A memorable scene, to be sure, but how could the man who cried “give me liberty or give me death,” this patriot who penned Virginia’s resolves against the Stamp Act in 1765, not support the Constitution? The answer was pretty simple: Henry thought that the American Revolution was, at root, a rebellion against the coercive power of the British government. In particular, it was a rebellion against unjust British taxes. Henry therefore thought it was madness for Americans to place that same kind of consolidated political authority over themselves again. Continue reading

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