Five Thoughts on Vocation

Vocation Life Christianity by Timothy Dalrymple –
Last night I had the occasion to share some thoughts on the theology of vocation.  One of the greatest legacies of the Protestant Reformation, the doctrine of vocation has fallen on hard times.  In the midst of economic crisis, in the midst of public pressures to private and compartmentalize our faith, and in the midst of a church-wide reexamination of the proper ways and means of cultural influence, the church must recover its theology of vocation.  As I was preparing to offer my thoughts, I came across two passages I found inspiring.  The first comes from Gene Edward Veith (from a special issue of the Journal of Markets and Morality), provost at Patrick Henry College (and a blogger).  The emphases are mine:

Christians today urgently need to revive their commitment to whole-life discipleship. Millions of churchgoers are “Christians” for a few hours every week. Christianity is something they practice on Sunday morning rather than a way of life. The withering of discipleship is one of the gravest threats facing the church today.

One of the main causes of the problem is that churches and seminaries have disconnected discipleship from everyday life. Too often, pastors and professors talk about one’s “walk with God” and “stewardship” almost exclusively in terms of formally religious activities such as worship attendance, Bible study, evangelism, and giving. As important as these activities are for every Christian, they will never take up more than a tiny percentage of life for those who are not in full-time ministry. The largest portion of life—work in the home and in jobs—is excluded from the concepts of discipleship and stewardship. [Read more…]

The Pursuit of God’s Peace in an Anxious World

God Trinity Light of World by Fr. Joshua Makoul –
The world in which we live is an anxious one, rife with fear and doubt. Economic markets rise and fall, employment fluctuates, conflicts erupt in unexpected places, and each year seems to bring a threat of some new virus that threatens mankind. We are all continuously faced with events outside of our control. As time passes the future takes on greater uncertainty. Indeed, it is often our struggle with uncertainty that plagues our spiritual life and gives birth to fear and worry.

Our society today has seen a dramatic spike in what psychologists call anxiety disorders. Many who struggle with these conditions wrestle with trusting, with uncertainty, with not having control. Not all who struggle with fear and worry, however, have a “disorder,” for such struggle is universal and comes with living in the world. There are many secular treatments and potential remedies for anxiety. As Christians we have all these, and much more, at our disposal in our fight against fear and anxiety. To the challenge of not having control, we have the ultimate answer and solution: God is in control. Those who deny God’s existence or who do not turn to Him in their lives, deny themselves the greatest treatment for fear, anxiety, worry and doubt. Our God offers us something that the world cannot give us, and that is His peace. [Read more…]

An Open Letter to a College Freshman

Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple

by Timothy Dalrymple –
At last your time has come. Leaving behind the old world and the deep ruts you carved in the corner of that world that belonged to you, you’re off to explore undiscovered countries, to join a new and ever-replenishing society of fascinating people and learned scholars and impassioned artists and driven achievers, off to a place where the world is new and so are you. Whether or not your college years will be “the best years of your life,” they will almost certainly be among the most transformative.

The question is whether that transformation will be for the better. Unmoored from the people and places that once defined you, you’ll feel a fluidity in your identity that’s both thrilling and frightening. You may feel as though you can be anyone and become anything. I pray that you will become who you are — the individual you most truly and deeply are, the one God dreamt of when he made you — and not the person that you or your parents or your friends think you should be. In service to that end, I thought I would offer seven pieces of advice. [Read more…]

Mugged by Mythology, Liberals Believe the Darnedest Things

Liberal Myths Obama by Jeff Bergner –
Sometimes talking with liberals is perplexing. You never know what claim they will make next or what name they will call you. Take David Axelrod’s response to Standard & Poor’s recent credit action: He calls it the “Tea Party downgrade.” Amazingly, he blames the United States’ loss of its AAA bond rating on the one group that has sounded the alarm about our fiscal crisis. How did the president’s leading adviser come up with a label so detached from reality?

Comforting as it would be to dismiss this as a one-off comment, Axelrod’s words spring from the mental universe of liberalism. It is a vast sphere of assumptions that are found nowhere else. In an effort to promote the civility of debate that is so much in demand these days, here is a compendium of the myths underlying some of the strange things liberals say.

Myth #1: Conservatives are outside the American mainstream. Conservatives can’t be mainstream because it is liberals who speak for the American people. [Read more…]

This is Your Brain on Atheism

Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman –
The ranks of celebrity atheists lionized by the major media is now being joined by a psychiatrist and journalist who have jointly written the book “Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith.” The two authors claim, in short, that God is nothing more than a figment of our biologically-determined imaginations.

In a recent article about the book, J. Anderson Thomson, a University of Virginia psychiatrist, and “medical writer” Clare Aukofer repeat stale clichés from the repertoire of 19th century German atheism, dressed up as modern “science.” They begin by citing the inane lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” in which he claims that the socialist paradise he envisions will bring “peace” with “no heaven…no hell below us…and no religion too.”

“No religion,” the authors rhapsodize. “What was Lennon summoning? For starters, a world without ‘divine’ messengers, like Osama bin Laden, sparking violence. A world where mistakes, like the avoidable loss of life in Hurricane Katrina, would be rectified rather than chalked up to ‘God’s will.’ Where politicians no longer compete to prove who believes more strongly in the irrational and untenable. Where critical thinking is an ideal. In short, a world that makes sense.” [Read more…]

Spiritual Warfare: How to Wage that War in the Desert

Jesus Christ Desert Warfare Satan by Katie Peterson –
You will be engaged in spiritual warfare for the rest of your earthly life

Do you ever feel like you are in spiritual warfare? The devil doesn’t usually attack us in such blatant, physical ways as he did St. Anthony, but we must remember that he is always seeking to make war against us. So what are we to do? Arm ourselves, right? But with what? How do we anticipate the devil’s attacks against us, especially when they are so deviously subtle and often approach us in the disguise of seemingly ordinary life situations and decisions?

DENVER, CO (Catholic Online) – He sold everything he owned and he went into the desert to fight demons. He burned with a desire for God, and “the devil, an enemy of the word Christian, could not bear to see such outstanding virtues in a young man and so he attacked him” (from Early Christian Lives, the “Life of Antony by Athanasius”).

Spiritual warfare. We see it lived out to the extreme in the life of St. Anthony, early anchorite monk and fierce warrior of demons, all for the glory of God and the prayerful protection of men. Obviously, most of us are not called to rid ourselves of all our possessions and become hermits in a foreign desert (at least I’m not.), but we all experience spiritual warfare like St. Anthony, though often in different and subtler degrees. [Read more…]

Obama and the Burden of Exceptionalism

Obama liberal failure

Illustration by Chad Crowe

by Shelby Steele –
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times: President Obama is destroying the country. Some say this destructiveness is intended; most say it is inadvertent, an outgrowth of inexperience, ideological wrong-headedness and an oddly undefined character. Indeed, on the matter of Mr. Obama’s character, today’s left now sounds like the right of three years ago. They have begun to see through the man and are surprised at how little is there.

Yet there is something more than inexperience or lack of character that defines this presidency: Mr. Obama came of age in a bubble of post-’60s liberalism that conditioned him to be an adversary of American exceptionalism. In this liberalism America’s exceptional status in the world follows from a bargain with the devil—an indulgence in militarism, racism, sexism, corporate greed, and environmental disregard as the means to a broad economic, military, and even cultural supremacy in the world. And therefore America’s greatness is as much the fruit of evil as of a devotion to freedom. [Read more…]

Why It’s Time to Speak about God Again

God Trinity Light of Worldby Jay Haug –
America is living under an illusion: the idea that we can expunge God (broadly understood) from our national and public belief system and still operate a moral and accountable government.

C.S. Lewis summed up the problem in The Abolition of Man. “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful.” John Adams asserted, “Our Constitution was made for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our founding fathers laid down a system that demanded conscientious, self-restrained implementation — a government dependent on the character of the people. Ben Franklin, perhaps the most deistic of the founding fathers, famously assured one curious bystander that the Constitutional Conventions had engendered “a Republic, if you can keep it.” How many people today truly understand that America’s health depends on the moral character of its citizens, of their personal “keeping” of our nation? [Read more…]

On Redistributing Wealth

Christ in the House of Simon Poor Redistribute Wealthby James V. Schall, S.J. –
Greed, some say, is the main reason the poor are poor. It isn’t. We rarely take a close look at envy. Because someone is rich, it does not follow that he is therefore greedy. A poor man is free to be both greedy and envious. Envy is as much a generator of extra work as want, perhaps more so.

Mandeville’s famous notion, that our vices not our virtues cause prosperity, has a point. Usable wealth must first be produced and made available. The primary causes of wealth production are brains, effort, and virtue. The world was given to us in a raw state to see what we would do with it, yes, for one another.

At first sight, the oft-repeated lament that the world’s goods need to be “redistributed” for the benefit of the poor seems logical. Usually behind this apparently innocent approach is the idea of the limitation of the world’s “goods.” If the world’s resources are “limited,” then we need to establish a system of control of human behavior, of our “desires.” [Read more…]

Where Did Our Time Go? Typewriters and the Disappearance of Time

Typewriter Time Orthodox by Fr Geoffrey Korz –
The natural limits of time and season, as defined by God’s created world, began to erode with the advent of candles and indoor heating. Gaslight, then electric light, extended the boundaries of civilized waking hours well beyond dusk. Television and other unlimited forms of personal entertainment presented a hundred excuses for putting off the hour of sleep well past midnight – and we became more and more tired. …

“Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.” Ecclesiastes 8:5

If you are old enough to remember using a manual typewriter, you are also old enough to appreciate the convenience of not having to use one today. [Read more…]

Why We Have Enemies

by Jason Bradley –
Contemporary Western thought and postmodern relativism compel us to explore our place in the world vis-à-vis other civilizations. The West’s legacy of reasoning is based heavily on thinkers such as Aristotle. The foundation he created implores us to consciously define and pursue an objective method to acquire knowledge. Where his philosophy was limited other thinkers came around and expanded this school of thought by use of Aristotle’s scientific epistemology. In other words, though his practice failed in some areas, his philosophical principles were sound in their fundamentals for the continuance in what we call Western thought.

It is on this foundation that we now seek the abstract and superimpose it over the idea of applied reality. Today’s thinkers exclude specific objects and dismiss concrete reality. Such is the case in when modern intellectuals study the question, “Why Do They Hate Us?” [Read more…]

How to Destroy a Culture in 5 Easy Steps

Joe Carter - First Things

Joe Carter

by Joe Carter (First Things) –

In his book The Future of Marriage, David Blankenhorn, a liberal, gay-rights-supporting Democrat and self-professed “marriage nut,” offers this sociological principle: “People who professionally dislike marriage almost always favor gay marriage.” As a corollary, Blankenhorn adds: “Ideas that have long been used to attack marriage are now commonly used to support same-sex marriage.”

Blankenhorn provides almost irrefutable proof that this is the expressed agenda of many—if not most—professional advocates of same-sex marriage. Other scholars have noticed the same and have attempted to present the public with the facts about the less-than-hidden agenda to use homosexual rights to deinstitutionalize marriage and to separate sexual exclusivity from the concept of “monogamy.”

Since the agenda is an open secret, how has this anti-marriage program been able to advance to the level of public policy? And how did it happen so quickly? [Read more…]

Where We Dare Not Go

past present future orthodox by Fr. Stephen Freeman –
My previous article spoke about the “moment” and the unique place it holds within our lives. It is strange, therefore, that the present moment is a place we seem to avoid – a place we dare not go. There are many ways to speculate about such an avoidance. In the experience of many, it is a place that seems almost impossible to read – which is strange indeed when we consider the fact that it is actually the only thing truly present to us.

The present moment, however, has some unique properties in human experience that make it a place we prefer to avoid. It is not past or future – and is thus much less subject to imagination. The imagination is a place where we find ourselves empowered, though the power we have is delusional and only destructive of the self. We may play mental games with the past, imagining that the truth is whatever we think it is, and imagine our own reactions as well. Never mind the fact that our imagination is most often quite wrong and our reactions utterly beside the point. The imaginary past becomes a “new history” which takes its place in the narrative of our lives. As such, our lives become a lie. [Read more…]

Father John: Spiritual Mosquitoes

Spiritual Mosquitoesby Fr. John Moses –

I’m sure you’ve had this experience. You’re just about to fall asleep when suddenly you hear the tiniest of sounds go by your ear. You know immediately that a mosquito has targeted you for lunch. So, you cut on the light, but no matter how much you look around, you just can’t see it. So you cut off the light, and in just a little while you hear the buzzing again. You cut the light on, but nothing. So you cut the light off and try to ignore it. You know that sometime during the night, you’ll be donating blood.

It’s the same in spiritual life. You’re trying your best to be positive, to have some sense of spiritual progress, and then the mosquitoes start buzzing in your brain. Sometimes it seems that they have sucked all of the blood from your spiritual life. These spiritual mosquitoes are called logismoi. [Read more…]

Dependency and Votes

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell

by Thomas Sowell –

Those who regard government “entitlement” programs as sacrosanct, and regard those who want to cut them back as calloused or cruel, picture a world very different from the world of reality.

To listen to some of the defenders of entitlement programs, which are at the heart of the present financial crisis, you might think that anything the government fails to provide is something that people will be deprived of.

In other words, if you cut spending on school lunches, children will go hungry. If you fail to subsidize housing, people will be homeless. If you fail to subsidize prescription drugs, old people will have to eat dog food in order to be able to afford their meds.

This is the vision promoted by many politicians and much of the media. But in the world of reality, it is not even true for most people who are living below the official poverty line. [Read more…]