Catching up on summer reading
A flood of important recent news stories, many of them calling for some careful analysis, has left me with little extra time in the past week or two. So instead of commenting on some of the thought-provoking articles that I have found on other sites, I have set them aside for future notice. Now I’m going to work off some of the backlog:
- For The Catholic Thing my friend Father Jerry Pokorsky makes the very unexpected point that President Barack Obama could play a major role in promoting the New Evangelization in the US. Needless to say, this would not be an intentional White House strategy. But with his dogged determination to require employers to fund contraceptive coverage, Obama has forced the American Catholic bishops to take a stand on a subject on which, for far too long, Church leaders have been silent. In fact a few bishops have even candidly acknowledged that they have not done enough to promote Church teaching on contraception and the integrity of marriage. That’s an enormous step in the right direction. The next step would be actually to start teaching.
- New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan (one of the prelates mentioned just above) also takes an unexpected tack in a column for Catholic New York. Called upon to denounce the New York Timer for printing a paid advertisement by the Freedom From Religion Foundation that vilified Catholicism, the cardinal said that on the contrary, he wanted to thank the newspaper:
Here I simply want to welcome the grey, full-page ad, and thank the anonymous militiamen at FFRF for giving me yet another handout for my students when I give my next talk on “Anti-Catholic Bigotry in the United States.”
- You may have heard about a new Australian study of children raised by homosexual couples, which purports to show that the children thrive. At The Public Discourse, Mark Regnerus shows that the study is almost comically flawed. The households in the sample were not randomly selected; they were essentially volunteers. And the children’s successes were judged not just by objective standards, but by their parents’ reports. Regnerus invites readers to imagine how the editors of social-science journals would react if someone made a similar study of Christian households, inviting self-selected participants to report on the welfare of their own children. Is it possible to do a reasonably objective study of same-sex parenting? Yes, it is, and actually Regnerus has made one of the few available efforts in that direction. The results of his study were far less reassuring for the proponents of same-sex unions. Consequently Regnerus has become persona non grata in mainstream academe.
- And speaking of bad social science, Paul Ehrlich, the author of The Population Bomb, is not at all dismayed by the fact that the doom scenarios he predicted have all failed to materialize. He guaranteed that worldwide famines would occur before the end of the 20th century. They didn’t. So now he’s moved the clock forward, still insisting that they will come soon. This CNSNews story provides an update on Ehrlich’s crusades, including his insistence that governments should limit the size of families. (Hmmm; didn’t someone recently predict that we’d be hearing such demands?) Ehrlich reluctantly concedes that China’s brutal one-child policy may have been imprudent…
But what’s not debatable, if you think about it for two minutes, is that a huge responsibility of any government is to try and have the size of its population suitable for giving its people both safety and a reasonable life.
- Notice Ehrlich’s claim that the need to limit family size should be “not debatable.” It’s a characteristic of the Left that ideas should be imposed rather than proposed; ideology must be enforced. Quite frequently, a crucial step in that process is to seize control of the language, setting limits on the terminology that will be accepted—first in academic circles, then in the media, finally in the general public. Writing for The Federalist, Stella Morabito explains how the current campaign for acceptance of “transgendered” individuals has implications that go far beyond the obvious. We aren’t really talking just about what sort of clothes a few confused people can wear, or which rest-rooms they can use. We’re talking about the understanding of human sexuality, and that means we’re talking about marriage and the family. Morabito issues a wake-up call:
If we agree to change language to suit the transgender lobby, we ultimately agree to destroy in law the entire basis (sex distinctions) for the only union that can result in autonomously formed families. The implications for privacy and personal relationships are vast, and we need to understand that.
- Finally, the ubiquitous Anthony Esolen, writing this time for The Catholic Thing, paid homage to the late Eugenio Corti, author of The Red Horse. That novel, Esolen says, is “a vast epic, the Italian War and Peace. It’s also a Christian saga reminiscent of Manzoni’s The Betrothed.” True, and true again. The Red Horse is a magnificent book, depicting the wrenching changes that overtook a traditional Italian town in the brutal 20th century, while beautifully depicting the Catholic culture that sustained the survivors. If you’re looking for a good, long novel to keep you absorbed during a summer vacation, …
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