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The Standard Send-Off

August 30, 2019 (1,236 words)
When the billionaire philanthropist David Koch recently died at age 79, he got the standard send-off from The Wall Street Journal. It praised his well-known faith in free markets and limited government…

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Justification or Atonement

August 23, 2019 (4,217 words)
It’s not uncommon for young, headstrong people to make poor choices and bad decisions while in their halcyon teens and 20s, and sometimes even into their 30’s and 40’s…

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Cooperation and Conflict

August 15, 2019 (2,116 words)
Upon turning 75 a little over a month from now, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput will be obliged to submit his resignation to Pope Francis. He has been a faithful bishop, a good man, and an engaging writer. No doubt he will continue to be all three, even in retirement…

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The Prancing Prince

July 30, 2019 (379 words)
Some actors hit the ground running and are enjoyable to watch from their very earliest film roles right on through to the end of their careers. William Holden comes to mind…

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Bad Parenting

July 29, 2019 (409 words)
I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but all three of our sons have turned out to be libertarians. (They also wear black socks with their sneakers, but I can only deal with one heresy at a time.)…

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Leaving Well Enough Alone

July 19, 2019 (151 words)
A lot of popular music is over-produced, isn’t it? You especially notice this when an old song you like comes on the radio. (Remember the radio?) Or when one of your grown children streams…

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Changing the Words

July 14, 2019 (615 words)
That rascal Pope Francis is at it again. This time he is recommending a revision to one of our oldest prayers, the Our Father

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All Is True

July 5, 2019 (1,210 words)
Every art form has the power to move me, and usually does. But the one that consistently engages my sensibilities and tugs at my heart strings is drama. Stage or screen, there is something about seeing a good story unfold that always…

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It Pays to Notice

June 29, 2019 (1,007 words)
My kind no longer does manual labor to make a living, the way our grandparents did. And we don’t go in for the rather pedestrian civil servant or middle-management positions that were the pride and joy of our parents…

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Alms and Charity

June 24, 2019 (385 words)
The full title of the Cross Catholic Outreach official who led our little traveling party of American visitors in Guatemala last week is “International Vision & Mission Trips Officer.” He told us that…

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The Depths of Love

June 23, 2019 (934 words)
To a large and vocal contingent of conservative American Catholics it remains “open season” on Pope Francis. In their eyes his transgressions are ongoing, and continue to mount…

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The Triple Bottom Line

June 22, 2019 (657 words)
Profit is the bottom line, as we all know. But how many of us are familiar with the Triple Bottom Line? It consists of Profit, People, and Planet. Though the term is said to have been coined way back in 1994, I only just heard about it this week, from an official with Cross Catholic…

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Difficult Subjects, Forgotten Teaching

June 21, 2019 (1,544 words)
One good thing (among many) about belonging to a universal church is the way it naturally and organically responds to every local culture known to man. Another good thing is how it has encountered every human condition down through the centuries, and developed the teaching to address…

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Why Welfare Doesn’t Work

June 20, 2019 (940 words)
We all know that welfare doesn’t work, and we all know why. Government hand-outs create a feeling of entitlement, and encourage a culture of dependency. The recipients fail to take ownership of what they are given, and feel no responsibility for their…

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Arguing with Success (in four parts)

June 19, 2019 (2,521 words)
Part One
The economic discussion has gone stale. It has fallen into a bit of a rut. And the average successful American doesn’t generally give the subject much thought, beyond a perfunctory checking…

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A Mountain of Corn

June 18, 2019 (429 words)
The phrase “true grit” has iconic overtones. To movie audiences of a certain age, the term may conjure images of an older John Wayne, circa 1969, in the role of Rooster Cogburn, a crusty, broken-down…

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The Speed of Light

June 15, 2019 (436 words)
Wendell Berry is now 84 years old. The poet, novelist, essayist and gentleman farmer is a well-known dissenter from nearly every aspect of modern life. He was born, raised, and still lives in Kentucky, maintains a healthy distance from any major metropolis, and does all his writing in longhand, with…

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Do You Play?

June 12, 2019 (134 words)
Can you be considered a musician without actually being able to play an instrument? Random sounds and bits of conversation have always elicited a musical response from me…

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Okay, You Win

June 10, 2019 (581 words)
That a fertilized female egg can be considered not a human entity but rather an alien presence to be disposed of when found to be unwanted by or inconvenient to the aforementioned female, is a bizarre…

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Comic Book Heroes

June 9, 2019 (495 words)
You may be familiar with the popular catch-phrase “you had me at hello,” a line uttered by the female lead of a successful “summer movie” from some twenty years ago. It was part of clever script that combined…

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Love’s Austere and Lonely Offices

June 5, 2019 (1,002 words)
While there are certainly historical antecedents for both the sexual revolution and women’s liberation, the post-WWII boom of the late 1950s into the 1960s saw these movements really hit their stride and go…

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At a Loss for Words

May 23, 2019 (24 words)
It seems the most important realizations we experience in life are beyond the power of words to express. But it’s still fun to try…

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Haphazard Men

May 19, 2019 (1,017 words)
Whenever David Brooks riffs on our wayward culture in the op-ed section of The New York Times I am always at full attention. (His political commentary, offered on television as a guest panelist for various cable news outlets, is less captivating from my perspective.)…

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Passport Photo

April 30, 2019 (883 words)
My passport recently reached its ten-year expiration date, and being the world traveler that I am it was absolutely imperative to have it renewed immediately. So last week I sauntered into the local post

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Crisis at the Border

April 13, 2019 (1,855 words)
The other day I was startled by a front page story in The New York Times that announced the U.S. border could be at a breaking point. Then driving home from work yesterday I listened to National Public Radio…

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Democracy In Action

March 24, 2019 (76 words)
Democracy allows us to have an opinion about everything, without necessarily giving much thought to anything in advance. No need to investigate or educate ourselves on…

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Finding A Home

March 19, 2019 (3,431 words)
When the book Why Liberalism Failed by Notre Dame associate professor of political science Patrick J. Deneen was published by Yale University Press in January 2018, it was immediately reviewed in all…

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Creating (Crummy) Jobs

March 11, 2019 (2,212 words)
Many a member of my once-dominant post-WW II “baby boom” generation (b. 1946-1964) began life with decidedly liberal tendencies. But we were mugged…

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Loopholes and Deductions

March 1, 2019 (1,103 words)
Nobody likes to pay taxes. Very few of us ever call our friendly neighborhood accountant and say, “You know, Larry, this year let’s make sure I hand over my fair share.” This inbred aversion to taxation…

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Because They Can

February 24, 2019 (692 words)
I live and work in a well-off suburb that is a Republican stronghold, with “Democrats Need Not Apply” signs posted prominently at most every polling place come election season…

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High Stakes Petulance

February 20, 2019 (914 words)
Amazon is no longer going to locate a new $2.5 billion HQ facility in Long Island City, Queens (NYC). The prickly press release was made public last Thursday morning – Valentine’s Day…

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Anytown, U.S.A.

February 14, 2019 (928 words)
On any given day of the week, you can stroll into a bar or diner of your choice and be treated to a variation of the following exchange, being bandied about over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer. The bleeding heart …

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Framing the Argument

February 12, 2019 (355 words)
Despite my recently noted reservations about the methodology used for his economic prognosticating, there is an initiative American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks is currently promoting…

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American Catholicism, American Power

February 9, 2019 (1,367 words)
Arthur Brooks and Andrew Cuomo are the same type of Catholics. This may come as a surprise to most readers, since each man operates from opposite ends of the political spectrum. But then…

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A Treasure

February 7, 2019 (45 words)
Our only daughter is getting her own place and moving out. She is a treasure, and now it’s time for us…

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Under Development

February 3, 2019 (1,264 words)
As president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) since January 2009, Arthur Brooks has spent the last ten years working with political, intellectual, and business leaders in Washington, D.C. and…

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Rainmaker Extraordinaire

February 2, 2019 (444 words)
Somehow I missed the March 2018 announcement that Arthur Brooks will be stepping down in June 2019 as president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank…

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Singing to No One

January 26, 2019 (499 words)
I happen to be a big fan of any sort of live music. It can be a jazz trio, a symphony orchestra, or a high school marching band. There is something about people making beautiful…

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An Economics of Justice and Charity

January 23, 2019 (418 words)
This Christmas I received a book as a present from one of my considerate children, who shall remain nameless. (But she knows who she is.) I have started reading this book from the beginning, which…

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Living in Fear

January 21, 2019 (543 words)
We all have our preferred sources of news and information that contribute to our comfortable routines. In the January 11 edition…

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Dénouement

January 17, 2019 (31 words)
Once we are finally finished with acquisition, our thoughts turn naturally toward absolution. Of everyone…

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Unconfessed Sins

January 6, 2019 (640 words)
(The following is reprinted from the Letters section of the December 2018 issue of Culture Wars magazine, as contributed by Lise Anglin of Toronto, Ontario.)…

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Doctors of the Church

January 1, 2019 (343 words)
The term “Church Fathers,” or “Early Church Fathers,” or “Fathers of the Church,” describes those men of the first two generations after the Apostles of Christ, and for that reason are often referred to as…

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Religious Intolerance

December 28, 2018 (808 words)
Let’s review the facts of the case: Separation of church and state is the best thing that ever happened to us. It allowed early American colonists to leave the religious strife of Reformation…

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A Brand New Day

December 25, 2018 (167 words)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them …

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Business Owner as Teacher

December 21, 2018 (1,004 words)
Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime. While this is undeniably true, it’s still a lot easier to just hand over a cod filet and leave it at that, since teaching…

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Taxation without Representation

December 16, 2018 (1,248 words)
Our youngest is a senior in high school this year. He is studying the War of 1812 in History, and writing about it in English. The other night we both found ourselves standing in the kitchen, waiting…

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Why Must Everyone Be So Mad?

December 3, 2018 (1,168 words)
I seem to be out of step with just about everything these days. The most recent trend to have passed me by is “Catholic Outrage.” Any serious practitioner that…

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Prosperity Happened

December 1, 2018 (55 words)
Toward the end of his life my father developed a pithy, two-word answer to the question that continues to vex us. How did the culture go…

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A Change of Heart

November 26, 2018 (48 words)
Where once I dreamt of women, now I dream of words. Without wanting to offend half the population, my current pre-occupation is proving to be a much more productive…

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Class Reunion

November 23, 2018 (47 words)
We are all a tribute to our parents. Who in turn are, of course, a tribute to their parents. Who then are a tribute to – oh, well, you get the picture…

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A Just Wage

November 21, 2018 (1,912 words)
Here in the well-off suburbs where I reside, the worshippers I tend to rub elbows with on the weekend exude a quiet pride in their circumstances. They are proud of where they…

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Bad Bosses

November 17, 2018 (355 words)
In the beginning, the overbearing and hyper-critical way you relate to your small staff is justified by the fear of failure. The sense of dread that comes from …

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A Limited Time Engagement

November 10, 2018 (200 words)
The hardcore nuclear family, raising-of-children thing is only a temporary gig. Depending on how many kids you have, and how you decide to space them, you’re looking at a twenty…

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Election Day

November 6, 2018 (34 words)
The only group of politicians more frustrating than the Republicans are those Democrats. How did it ever come…

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Nice Words

November 1, 2018 (1,699 words)
Christendom College is a small Catholic institution of higher learning located on the outskirts of a sleepy little Shenandoah Valley town by the name of Front Royal, Virginia. It prides…

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Traversing Mexico

October 29, 2018 (92 words)
The caravan of men, women, and children currently walking from Guatemala to Texas hoping to find a better life at the end of their long march, prompts the following…

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Why Do You Stay?

October 22, 2018 (779 words)
This is the question now being asked of Catholics, as the accusations and indictments in the ongoing clerical sex abuse scandal seem to pile up, one after the…

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Burying The Lead

October 15, 2018 (1,157 words)
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia has recently reasserted his long-standing opposition to any revision of the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania on the reporting of sexual abuse of minors…

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Bernie and Elizabeth

October 14, 2018 (1,120 words)
There are probably not too many practicing Catholics walking around today who both revere the practical wisdom contained in the Magisterium, and value the practical advice on economic policy offered by Senator Bernie Sanders…

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Sexual Politics and Irony

October 11, 2018 (201 words)
I seem to recall being on the receiving end of some less-than-friendly banter during my late teens and early twenties, over what was interpreted at the time to be a certain reticence on my part toward the opposite…

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The Problem with Democracy

October 10, 2018 (391 words)
We know that a successful democracy requires an informed citizenry, and in order to be informed that citizenry relies on a free press. But it turns out these two well-known and widely acknowledged premises…

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Prosperity and Progress

October 9, 2018 (227 words)
There is a breed of libertarian economist who, along with a corresponding breed of progressive social scientist, never tires of trumpeting the dramatic increase in material well-being our society has experienced…

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Sowing Wild Oats

October 5, 2018 (1,829 words)
Today is the one-year anniversary of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, which kicked off and gave voice to the #MeToo movement. As this past year has unfolded, I have found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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Shooting the Messenger

September 30, 2018 (1,728 words)
They say compromise, the settling of disputes by each side making concessions, is a lost art. Maybe that’s because we have become a schizophrenic people, addicted to an adversarial, split-screen…

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So Long, Uncle Ted

September 6, 2018 (3,484 words)
No sooner had we begun to digest the alarming implications of the wide-ranging Pennsylvania attorney general’s report, first released on August 12, than the sordid McCarrick affair …

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The Tyranny of Bad Ideas

September 3, 2018 (996 words)
Daniel Pipes reminds us that Venezuela’s economy, now an unmitigated disaster, was once a thriving example of economic efficiency, due in large measure to the discovery of vast oil reserves…

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A Gaggle of Gay Priests

September 1, 2018 (1,198 words)
From my perch outside the enchanted circle, it seems nabbing a spot as a regular commentator in the prestige print media requires a serendipitous combination of talent and connections. When the…

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Ella and Olives

August 29, 2018 (187 words)
My mother had two enduring passions to the very end of her life: Olives, and the music of Ella Fitzgerald. So every birthday my father came through like clock-work with a can of black olives, a can of green…

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Forsaking Chastity

August 27, 2018 (1,951 words)
The Catholic Church’s dark night of the soul continues. Earlier this month Pennsylvania’s attorney general issued a scathing report on a handful of dioceses across the state, going back some 70 years, which…

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A Free Education

August 23, 2018 (290 words)
Many of us admire Ken Langone for his shrewd business acumen and his generous philanthropic efforts. And we agree that his recent $100 million contribution…

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How and When to Die

August 12, 2018 (2,776 words)
We all start out thinking we’ll live to a ripe old age, and die peacefully in our sleep. But eventually we come to realize that aging gracefully and dying gently is a rare circumstance, experienced only by the…

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Running From Applause

July 30, 2018 (486 words)
The story is told of Jesus feeding a hungry multitude from what at first appeared to be a meager pantry. In a surprise turn of events, not only was everyone in attendance able to eat their fill that day, free of charge…

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An Ounce of Prevention

July 26, 2018 (637 words)
As a charter remember of the “never been sick a day in his life” club, the last few years have been a humbling experience for me. The decline started innocently enough, as it usually does, with fading eyesight…

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Conservative Confusion Continues

July 16, 2018 (1,303 words)
The inability of conservatives to properly delineate the historical fault lines of our cultural problems is why we find ourselves in such disarray. They continue to misdiagnose its origins, and mash together categories…

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Tariffs and Trade Wars

July 13, 2018 (1,658 words)
Given the contentious nature of our adversarial political system, the custom has always been for the opposition party, the one not currently in power, to go out of its way to find fault with the ruling…

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The Big Pay-Off

July 10, 2018 (1,037 words)
For the last forty-five years religious conservatives distraught over the legalization of abortion have employed a three-step approach to national politics. Elect a pro-life Republican as…

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Great Falls, Montana

July 6, 2018 (778 words)
Ever since Budd Schulberg’s lacerating 1958 screenplay for A Face In The Crowd, and the 1968 Joe McGinniss bestseller, The Selling Of The President, and the 1972 vehicle for Robert Redford…

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Easy Living and Ruination

July 2, 2018 (962 words)
Summertime and the living is easy, according to the lyricist Ira Gershwin. This is especially true for those lucky, early-retirement people, for whom life has unfolded in a most agreeable fashion…

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How old is the Earth?

June 16, 2018 (1,787 words)
I was reminded of this burning question by our youngest son, who had a lot of trouble with his just-completed junior year of high school biology. The job of finding a tutor to help with his summer-school…

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Love City

June 13, 2018 (437 words)
On the day of the latest British royal wedding, the one between Prince Harry and the American actress Meghan Markle…

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Raise Taxes, Lose Taxpayers

June 10, 2018 (2,244 words)
This pithy formula is favored by economists of a libertarian bent, erstwhile academics specializing in theoretical constructions based on elaborate data. Data, as we know, has firmly established itself…

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Boy Wonder

June 8, 2018 (333 words)
The Wanderer, a venerable Catholic newsweekly that’s been going to press since October 1867, has now had two of its regular contributors review the new Ross Douthat book on this troubling papacy…

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A Father’s Lament

May 28, 2018 (108 words)
One minute, your house is full of cute little kids whose mission in life is to bounce around and spread joy. The next minute these same sweet children have become surly young…

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Repealing the Eighth

May 26, 2018 (1,528 words)
Yesterday voters in Ireland overwhelming decided to roll back the Eighth Amendment to their constitution, originally passed in 1983, and remove the restriction it had placed on abortion. In dramatic…

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Identifying the Enemy

May 23, 2018 | (2,304 words)
I am now well into my seventh decade of continuous residency on the western fringe of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, though I did enjoy a twenty year sabbatical from belief and practice in the middle trimester, to pursue some bad…

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Nearing the End

May 16, 2018 | (1,124 words)
I’ve noticed that people my age are starting to check out and die, which is a most disconcerting development. My long-ago best friend and one-time business partner, Jim Gillis, passed away recently…

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A Book, not a Movie

May 9, 2018 | (299 words)
Life is more like a book, than a movie. Consider the way our faith tells us that sexual activity outside of marriage is contrary to the natural law that is written on our…

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Conscience and Discernment

May 6, 2018 | (1,883 words)
Pope Francis is certainly a hotly debated topic of conversation these days. The discussion ranges from the uncritical praise of his every act or utterance, to the ruthless criticism of his every ambiguous…

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Taking Center Stage

May 2, 2018 | (1,969 words)
The fifty-year anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae is fast approaching (July 1968). That’s the one in which Paul VI reaffirmed traditional Church teaching on the dire consequences of artificial…

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Protecting Pluralism

April 28, 2018 | (1,982 words)
William Galston writes for the Wall Street Journal, is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, teaches at the University of Maryland, and was a former policy advisor in the Clinton…

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The Heart of the Christian Message

April 14, 2018 (1,300 words)
Yesterday New York Times op-ed columnist Ross Douthat gave an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) in support of his new book, To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism. This is an…

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What I Believe

April 3, 2018 | (1,185 words)
The gentleman who is trying to drive traffic to this web site has asked me to provide a series of descriptive words that define it. He has also asked a series of basic questions with the same idea in mind. My descriptive words and attempts at…

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Bells and Smells

April 1, 2018 | (141 words)
Provided one is able to muster the necessary stamina, there is nothing like a long, thorough Holy Saturday service at an observant Catholic parish to remind one of the benefits of communal…

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False Gods

March 31, 2018 | (816 words)
Yesterday was both Good Friday and the first night of Passover. Late last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, a gentleman on a National Public Radio broadcast explained…

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Ties That Bind

March 17, 2018 | (1,000 words)
I’ve been thinking about my wife’s dead parents a lot lately, almost as much as my own. After some thirty-six years in relationship, persistent annoyance interspersed with transcendent joy…

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Sustaining Habits

March 11, 2018 | (2,224 words)
Is it just me, or does columnist Ross Douthat also strike you as being fundamentally different from other high profile op-ed writers? His relative youth (b. 1979) is one distinguishing characteristic, to be sure. He is the youngest full-time…

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Controlling Access

March 1, 2018 | (869 words)
“For centuries, the Catholic Church sought to limit the circulation of Bible translations in order to control access to the word of God.” This sentence, a little landmine of libel to some of us, is found in the DEUS EX MACHINA essay by…

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Understanding Sex

February 24, 2018 | (2,282 words)
In the Fall of 1960, still one full year shy of turning seven and achieving the age of reason, my formal classroom education commenced that September under the watchful eye of a small handful of Catholic nuns.

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Creation and Evolution

February 9, 2018 | (1,412 words)
Most of us made up our minds on this subject years ago. So we have no need for, nor do we pay particularly close attention to, the periodic announcements that continue to pop up in the news from time-to-time…

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