Thursday, April 2, 2020
Last summer, Angela Franks and I co-taught the inaugural session of this intensive summer seminar, "Man, Woman, Body, Soul in the Western Tradition." Sponsored by the Abigail Adams Institute and hosted in the government department at Harvard University, the seminar is open to advanced undergrads, graduates students, and young professionals. This summer, it will take place during the first week of August, assuming things are a bit back to normal. Here's more.
Application deadlines have been extended until April 17th.
Monday, March 9, 2020
Friday, February 28, 2020
Just a note for any who were interested: due to the coronavirus threat, this event has been postponed until next fall. We'll post the date as soon as it's available.
Elizabeth Schiltz, Kim Daniels, Melissa Moschella, Rachel McNair and I (among others) are participating in an all day symposium with pro-choice feminist scholars on March 28th at Columbia University. Pro-choice scholars include Reva Siegel, Robin West and Eva Feder Kittay. The event is sponsored by Feminists Choosing Life of New York with support from both pro-life and pro-choice student groups.
Monday, July 29, 2019
Jeffery Rosen invited Tracy Thomas of Akron Law and me on the National Constitution's Center's podcast, We the People, to discuss the Constitutional Legacy of Seneca Falls. It's a wide-ranging discussion of the Declaration of Sentiments of 1848 -- and whether that remarkable document's legacy can be claimed by those who favor Roe v Wade. I think not.
Sunday, November 25, 2018
On this Feast of Christ the King, I wanted to share the homily delivered at my parish, St. Catherine of Siena in Norwood, Massachusetts by our holy and learned parochial vicar, Fr. Thomas Sullivan:
The Feast of Christ the King is of fairly modern origin in the liturgical life of the Church, having been established in only 1925. Pope Pius XI had good reason to remind the world of the Sovereign Kingship of Jesus Christ. For centuries, the united Christendom that grew from the remains of the Roman Empire was fracturing along national lines. Divisions were accelerated terribly by the Protestant Reformation and greedy rulers all too willing to sever ties with Pope and Emperor for their own gain. The following centuries saw bloody wars of religion, violent revolutions hostile to Faith, and the rise of secular and atheistic regimes. Everything came to a head with The Great War, the so-called War to End All Wars, the First World War.
Pope Pius XI witnessed Europe’s near suicide -- nominally Christian nations tearing each other apart in an utter failure of Justice, and Mercy, and Charity. Had these Christian men heeded the Holy Father’s warnings and recalled their baptismal brotherhood, perhaps they could have avoided what was soon to follow in an even more horrifying World War. Instead, godless Communism and National Socialism wrought havoc in the ruins of Christian Civilization.
Ideas have consequences… and those who would impart their own brand of order on the world, disconnected from the Truth about God and the human person, wind up imposing disorder and misery. Our Lord warns us of this in his words to Pilate when he says, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the Truth.”
Pope Pius didn’t establish this great feast only to rebuke world powers. He provided it for the benefit of his spiritual children. The lessons of this feast apply to every human being. Christ’s kingly testimony to the truth is just as relevant to us. And we should listen attentively lest we introduce chaos into our own souls.
The One who comes to testify to the Truth about man is the One who created man. The One who reveals the truth about God, is God himself, incarnate in human flesh. Original sin brought with it the ultimate disorders: body separated from soul in death, and soul separated from God. Christ the King extends the scepter of his clemency to us. The King of the Universe overcomes sin and death as he mounts the throne of his cross. If we submit ourselves to his gentle rule, we will find our way into his heavenly courts.
What does the governance of Christ look like? As Creator he gives order to the whole universe, and everything from the stars in the sky to the smallest seed in the earth follow the course he has set for them. He writes the natural law upon our hearts, inclining man to the good, to life over death, truth over lies, and relationship over isolation.
Christ the King gives us Commandments to obey, laws laid down for our own happiness. Christ the King sits as Judge of the living and the dead, but as King he also extends his mercy towards us. But in his governance, Christ the King is not distant; he doesn’t rule only by dictate. Christ the King has become our exemplar. He willingly submits himself to the same rule.
If we were to describe the ideal earthly king, we’d speak of a man who was of high moral character, not exempting himself from the laws he enforces, just in his decisions and generous to the poor. A man of deep faith who, while occupying a high office, humbles himself before God. In war, we admire the king who leads his men in battle, fighting for a just cause and the protection of the innocent and weak. We want a king who is one of us, so we can aspire to be like him, but also a king who is greater than us, inspiring our confidence and devotion. That’s exactly who Christ is.
Christ the King lives what he commands; he keeps the Commandments without the slightest offense against Charity. Christ the King fights the good fight as one of us, willing to suffer in order to console the sorrowing, even laying down his life for our sake. Though he was the Son of God "he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped," and so in his human nature, Christ the King humbles himself in obeying the will of his heavenly Father. He inspires us to imitate him out of love, and gives us the grace to persevere in that likeness.
By virtue of our baptism, all the faithful share in the Kingship of Christ. How do you exercise that governance? As parents you raise your children to follow the commandments: loving God and giving him due worship, honoring father and mother, and loving your neighbor as your very self. In civil society, you seek to establish an order based on truth, enacting laws in harmony with the order God has put into the world, never violating human dignity. But most fundamentally of all, you exercise your share in Christ’s Kingly office by governing yourselves, by exercising virtue and avoiding sin.
The human soul is a battleground on which occurs a fight for your lives, eternally-speaking. If we allow Christ to rule in our hearts, we will find peace in this life and happiness in the next. If we finally cast down the idols we’ve enthroned in our hearts, then Christ will enter in and never leave us. It’s in the hearts and souls of men that Christ wishes to rule. And when such people come together in Love and Truth, a new Christendom is founded atop the old. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Robert George and RJ Snell have edited a book of interviews, set for release by TAN publishers on October 31st, entitled, "Mind, Heart, and Soul: Intellectuals and the Path to Rome." The volume includes the conversion stories of such luminaries as Bishop James D. Conley, Sister Prudence Allen, Adrian Vermeule, Fr. Thomas Joseph White, and Hadley Arkes. Honored to have my own story included too.
From the inside flap:
In a series of fascinating interviews, a cradle Catholic (Robert P. George) and an adult convert (R. J. Snell), offer the stories of sixteen converts, each a public intellectual or leading voice in their respective fields, and each making a significant contribution to the life of the Church.
Mind, Heart, and Soul is a Surprised by Truth for a new generation. It will reinvigorate the faith of Catholics and answer questions or address hurdles those discerning entering the Church may have…by people have had the same questions and the same road.
While some of the converts are well-known, their stories are not. Here they speak for themselves, providing the reasons for belief that prompted these accomplished men and women to embrace the ancient faith.
Included are interviews with a bishop, a leading theologian and priest, a member of the International Theological Commission, a former megachurch pastor, a prominent pro-life scholar, professors from Harvard and other universities, as well as journalists and writers, novelists and scholars. Each are interviewed by another leading scholar, many of whom are themselves converts and familiar with the hesitations, anxieties, discoveries, and hopes of those who discover the Faith.
These conversion stories remind us that the Catholic Church retains her vitality, able to provide answers and reasons for hope to new generations of believers, always sustained by the Holy Spirit. It is all too-easy to become discouraged in our day and age, but God never fails to call people to Himself, as evidenced by these remarkable stories.
Upcoming at Harvard: Peter Berkowitz on Mill and Education, Sr. Mary Madeline on the Wisdom of St. Catherine, and Justice Gorsuch on Christianity and the Common Good
Some exciting upcoming events at Harvard University, aptly responsive to current crises in academia, the Church, and our nation.
First, the Abigail Adams Institute's Third Annual Lecture will feature Peter Berkowitz next Thursday afternoon on "John Stuart Mill's Liberal Education." From the announcement:
It is increasingly rare for colleges and universities to explain to students the purpose, structure, and content of liberal education, let alone provide one. John Stuart Mill's writings on liberty of thought and discussion, Socratic inquiry, and the aims and substance of liberal education provide an excellent introduction to the subject and illuminate the importance of the reform of higher education to liberal democracy.
That same evening, the Thomistic Institute will host Sr. Mary Madeline Todd on "The Wisdom of St. Catherine in Times of Crisis." Sr. Mary Madeline is a Dominican Sister of Saint Cecilia Congregation who serves as Assistant Professor of Theology at Aquinas College in Nashville.
Finally, on October 19th and 20th, the Thomistic Institute will host a conference at Harvard Law School on "Christianity and the Common Good." Justice Gorsuch will keynote the event on Friday afternoon, followed by a full day of presentations on Saturday. Register here.
Speakers and panelists include the following: Prof. Gerard Wegemer (University of Dallas), Prof. J. Budziszewski (University of Texas, Austin), Prof. Gladden Pappin (University of Dallas) Prof. Sarah Byers (Boston College), Fr. Dominic Legge, OP (Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception and the Thomistic Institute), Prof. Jacqueline Rivers (Harvard University) and Prof. Adrian Vermeule (Harvard Law School).
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
CNN asked me to weigh in on President Trump's pick last night. Here's the full commentary. (Glad for the many conservative voices who know Judge Kavanaugh much better than I; and glad they asked me as a counter-weight to voices from Planned Parenthood and NARAL.)
Here's what I said:
I have to admit it: I was hoping President Trump would choose Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Brilliant, courageous, and quick on her feet, the professionally and personally esteemed mother of seven puts to rest -- in her very person -- the central pro-choice feminist assumption that bearing and raising children impedes women's serious engagement in professional and public life.She would have brought true diversity to the Court on the most rancorous constitutional issue of our day, underscoring how an intellectually astute woman need not acquiesce in the unquestioning abortion rights dogma that has held the cause for women's rights hostage for far too long now. And she would have been able to make the case the best way possible: debunking the sham legal reasoning that has upheld the putative right for decades by day and blazing an alternative path with her family by night.Comparatively, President Trump played it safe: Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a legal all-star, an accomplished jurist, and a darling of the conservative judicial establishment; he can be trusted by friend and foe alike to interpret the Constitution as it is written. A solid constitutionalist, Kavanaugh will join those on the Court who are deeply skeptical of its current (internationally extreme) abortion jurisprudence. But with Kavanaugh rather than Coney Barrett, the optics do not bode nearly as well.Should the President have another chance, and should that chance come in the form of the retirement of an aged Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump should pull the trigger and nominate Coney Barrett. Our country desperately needs the opportunity to debate not only abortion, but to see how the autonomy feminism Ginsburg has long represented should pass away with its most cherished leader.A dignitarian feminism, by contrast, would recognize both that women and men are of equal dignity and are duly encumbered by their shared responsibilities to the vulnerable and dependent -- in their own families and in the community at large. Coney Barrett would not only serve the Constitution better than most jurists of our time; she would reveal, by the very integrity of her life, a more dignified way forward.
Monday, May 21, 2018
On Thursday, May 31st, the EPPC Catholic Women's Forum, together with the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture will host an important symposium at the Mayflower Hotel. "The #MeToo Moment: Second Thoughts on the Sexual Revolution" will include speakers Helen Alvare and Mary Eberstadt, several distinguished medical experts, Jennifer Lahl, and CUA Law professor Mary Leary. Cardinal Wuerl will open the timely event, and Carter Snead and Mary Hasson will moderate it. Read more or register for the free event here.
One expects that Helen Alvare, who will conclude the event, will offer arguments from her important new book out of Cambridge University Press, Putting Children's Interests First in U.S. Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility. Mark Regnerus has an excellent review of the book here, and Helen is interviewed about it here. The legal history in the book will be familiar to MOJers, but Helen's conceptualization of the trend as one of "sexual expressionism" is unique and very helpful. She defines "sexual expressionism" as "valorizing adult sexual expression, while remaining silent or indifferent regarding the adult's marital status, and to the reality that children's family structure is usually established at conception." The slim book is expensive, but worth ordering for law libraries and recommending to law and grad students. Helen continues to be one of the most courageous, intelligent, and articulate voices out there today - her new book is no exception.
On Wednesday, June 11th, Americans United for Life will host "Women Speak 2018: A Symposium on Life Without Roe." The event will take place at the Heritage Foundation and "explore the current cultural and political paradigm that argues abortion is necessary for women's advancement in society." Speakers include Mollie Hemmingway, Catherine Pakaluk, Catherine Glenn Foster, and myself, among others. More info and register here.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018