Different World Alert

I’ve been placing books on new shelves we’ve just put up, and came across a handsomely bound monograph, a doctoral dissertation by one Rev. George J. Lucas, D. D., on the religious philosophy of Herbert Spencer, entitled “Agnosticism and Religion,” including a history of agnosticism going back to Xenophanes. I

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That unforgettable Ash Wednesday photo

A week later, the image is still clearly etched in my mind. In the aftermath of the Florida school shootings, dozens of media outlets carried a powerful AP photo that portrayed a blonde woman hugging another woman. The woman’s face is contorted with grief; her arm, around her friend’s shoulders,

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Will we sacrifice Marines to advance feminist standards?

Americans today—in sharp contrast with their behavior during the years of the Vietnam war—show great respect, bordering on reverence, for members of the armed forces. President Trump has good reason for proposing a grand military parade; he knows that we love to applaud our soldiers. But is this surge of

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Word of the Day: PIOUS

Word of the Day: PIOUS As I said the other day, we’re now beginning to read Virgil’s Aeneid, in the Humanities 2 course at Thomas More College. The kids are freshmen who have taken a previous course in the Greek world, and are now taking a course on the Scriptures,

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Word of the Day: DUST

Word of the Day: DUST An hour late, I know, but a good word for the whole season. “Remember, man, that thou art DUST,” said the priest to me today as I knelt at the prie-Dieu, “and unto DUST thou shalt return.” The good old gentleman said it in a

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The blessing and the curse

Today at Mass we heard the famous challenge that God set before the people of Israel, from the Book of Deuteronomy (30: 19-20) I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that

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What does it mean to ‘restore culture’?

[What follows is an address delivered on February 2 by Professor Anthony Esolen, at a gathering for supporters of the Center for the Restoration of Christian Culture.] I am here tonight to talk about the restoration of culture, and as soon as I say the words, I am afraid that

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Word of the Day: BLIND

Word of the Day: BLIND A facebook friend asked me the other day why we don’t say BLOUND for the past tense of the verb to BLIND, just as we say GROUND, FOUND, BOUND, and WOUND. He thought it would be pretty snazzy to say, “She BLOUND me with her

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Word of the Day: JOY

Word of the Day: JOY When I come home from work, my dog Jasper greets me with a dog-version of JOY that is so intense, he sometimes has to run around in big circles to get it out of him, and if I get down on the floor he will

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Word of the Day: CIVIL

Word of the Day: CIVIL When the Gauls under their chieftain Brennus — lop off the nominative ending and we have Brenn or something near, possibly just the man’s title, which the Romans heard as a name (early modern Welsh BRENHIN = KING) — broke into Rome for the first

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Word of the Day: LAW

Word of the Day: LAW Many years ago I took an opportunity to be part of an eight-person faculty seminar, to last a whole semester, on the topic of freedom. I did it, to be honest, because it came with a course reduction and a decent stipend. The experience taught

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Word of the Day: LIFE

Word of the Day: LIFE Two thirds of our students at Thomas More College are not at the school today, but are in Washington, in the annual March for LIFE. They will probably outnumber the good people from my last school, that shall remain Nameless, even though Nameless has forty

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Word of the Day: ECONOMY

Word of the Day: ECONOMY Here’s a word that needs redeeming, like POLITICAL. (By the way, I love the English locution “needs —ing,” active in form and passive in meaning: “That house needs fixing,” “That boy needs talking to.”) We now use it to refer to things titanic and megalopolitan

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Word of the Day: CHARACTER

Word of the Day: CHARACTER The first imparting of a CHARACTER in Scripture, as I see it, comes in Genesis, after the first murderer and third excuse-maker pleads with God to do something to keep other people from doing to him what he did to his brother. God then most

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A prayer for Europe

In the Memoriale of St. Pierre Favre, I recently came across the passage below. The great Jesuit saint (considered by St. Ignatius himself to be the best director for the Spiritual Exercises) was apparently writing about the people of Speyer, having just left that city for a new assignment. But he might

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Word of the Day: TRUTH

TRUTH used to be a complete defense against the accusation that you had libeled somebody. Nowadays TRUTH is not your own defense against somebody’s libeling you. That is, if someone says, “John is a vicious man, because he says X,” John is not allowed to defend himself by showing that

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Word of the Day: WEEK

Word of the Day: WEEK Let’s suppose that you are the sacred author of Genesis, and you are inspired by God to describe, in liturgical form, the creation of the world. All narratives require time. There is no way that a human culture without the heights of philosophy can conceive

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Good Time Charlies

Reading two books at the moment, for the same purpose, though it’s hard to see from the titles what they could possibly have in common. One is Charles Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast. I had started it years ago, then put it down; now I’ve gotten back into it

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Word of the Day: BEAUTY

Below, something I wrote from last year. At Thomas More College, every freshman enrolls in a course called The Way of Beauty, which I haven’t taught yet, and every sophomore, a course called Coram Angelis: In the Presence of the Angels, which I have just now taught for the first

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Oh, sure; blame celibacy

An Australian government commission has called for an end to clerical celibacy. Right. Because if the headlines of the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that celibacy is the main cause of sexual misconduct. If only politicians, Hollywood executives, comedians, and TV network personalities were allowed to marry! Oh,

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Advent is the restless season

Last week a spectacularly tasteless ad arrived in my In box, from a firm that promised me a brilliant new Christmas-gift idea. (If you read on, you’ll understand why I will not identify either the firm or the gift. This misbegotten idea will receive no publicity—not even negative publicity—from me.)

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The Colorado baker’s case: it’s not about gay rights

Pay attention to the language used in headlines about this week’s crucial argument before the Supreme Court. Reuters said it was a “gay wedding case.” The New York Times called it a gay rights case.” CNN reported a “same-sex marriage case.” And so on. All inaccurate. This case was not about gay rights or same-sex

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WORD OF THE DAY

Word of the Day: HEART “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover feast,” says Saint John, that eagle of evangelists, “many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; but Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men and needed

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Welcome to Word of the Day

Word of the Day: QUICK I’d like to post here a regular jeu d’esprit – taking the form of a glance at a word and its history. That’s because words open up to us some truths about man, the strange embodied spirit who invented the words in the first place.

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A priest’s #1 distraction at Mass—and how to avoid it

In the Memoriale of St. Pierre Favre (aka Peter Faber), I happened across this startling entry: During Mass on the day of St. Clare, I felt myself somewhat distracted by my desires; one was to edify those present, the other to obtain devotion for that purpose. In the past I have often

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The Pope’s silence on the Rohingya: prudent diplomacy or moral lapse?

During his stay in Myanmar, Pope Francis did not mention the brutal treatment of the Rohingya minority. Was that a mistake? Was it a failure of moral leadership? It’s not easy to answer those questions. The persecution of the Rohingya is, by all reliable accounts, a gross violation of human rights.

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Learning from the past of the American pro-life movement

Some 25 years ago, Our Sunday Visitor published my book, Operation Rescue: A Challenge to the Nation’s Conscience. To be perfectly candid, it was not a great commercial success. By the time the book appeared in print, the wave of civil disobedience that began in the 1980s had crested, and interest

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