VOICES

What you can learn from the elderly

Have you ever received an unexpected message from a friend, maybe a text message or a voicemail that made your day, or even led you to change your outlook on life? This happened to me last month, in the middle of SEEK 2019, the annual conference of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

Adventure by Catholic terms: ‘You were made for greatness’

All afternoon I had been hunkered over my MacBook, perched above a frozen lake and watching the sun cast pink into the clouds. I was thinking about what lay dormant and all the possibility below, waiting to thaw.

My task at hand: editing a cover story about three Catholic families who had taken radical leaps of faith. One couple moved to Costa Rica with their baby to do mission work. One man felt called to head up a floundering radio station. Another family set aside their jobs and rented out their home to embark on a yearlong cross-country RV trip, prodded by a sensation many of us recognize.

The internet and Satan’s game

By now the entire country has seen a video of a supposedly racist confrontation, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, between a grinning young high school student and a Native American elder, chanting and beating a drum. The immediate and ferocious judgment of the internet community was that the boy was effectively taunting and belittling the elder, but subsequent videos from wider angles as well as the young man’s own testimony have cast considerable doubt on this original assessment. My purpose in this article is not to adjudicate the situation, which remains, at best, ambiguous, even in regard to the basic facts. It is to comment, rather, on the morally outrageous and deeply troubling nature of the response to this occurrence, one that I would characterize as, quite literally, Satanic.

Spinoza, secularism and the challenge of evangelization

During this Christmas holiday, I’ve been reading Anthony Gottlieb’s breezy and enjoyable history of modern philosophy, entitled The Dream of Enlightenment. Throughout his treatment of such figures as Descartes, Hobbes, Locke and Voltaire, Gottlieb reveals his own rather strong bias in favor of the rationalism and anti-supernaturalism advocated by these avatars of modern thought. Toward the end of his chapter on Spinoza, Gottlieb avers that what he calls “the religion of Spinozism” is more or less identical to the secularist worldview espoused by so many in the West today, including himself.

It’s OK to start 2019 with you

I’ve always appreciated the notion of self-care in an Oprah Winfrey, hot-baths-and-expensive-chocolates kind of way. We work so hard, the thinking goes, that we deserve a break here and there. So splurge on that full-price gift-to-yourself. Book the massage. Binge on the new season.