One announcement: I am now hosting a table every Wednesday from 10:00-11:00 on behalf of the Catholic Newman Club. Until the weather turns, I will be sitting out on the TSC patio by the fountains. Actually, I don’t have a table yet and I am still trying to scare up a sign. But I am sitting there with the intention of being available for Catholic or non-Catholic students who want to discuss Catholic philosophy, theology, etc. Stop by for a chat.
On the heels of Sam Harris’ recent lectures and book on morality (which I argued ceded all of the theoretical ground to natural law theorists), now Harris is eschewing the label “atheist” and talking about mystery and spirituality. He ends up sounding the SBNR chord (“spiritual but not religious”). Now I think this “I am spiritual but not religious” has its own silliness, but Harris is slowly proving himself to be one of the least dogmatic new atheists. Good for him for recognizing a role for contemplation or even meditative prayer, and recognizing that there is a movement of the human spirit that moves toward Love.
John Allen discusses the prospects for what Pope Benedict has called a “positive secularism”. It is unclear exactly what form this positive secularism would take. I discussed it over dinner last week with Dr. Mark Silk (an expert on secularism who was on campus for a lecture) and he seemed to think that the “positive secularism” was really no different than a return to the old secularism (over and against the new secularism of the new atheists which is considerably more hostile). I am hopeful that it may mean more than that, that it may mean a positive rather than a neutral role for religion in the public square.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the project of multiculturalism has failed in Germany. I agree, and think that multiculturalism is the suicide of civilization. Plato is right, unity is a primary marker of a stable city. As such, integration is a necessity. I discussed this in a recent post on immigration.
Francis Beckwith discusses Bill Maher and the strange phenomenon of people like him being so incredibly dogmatic in their anti-dogmatism. He also reflects on the sad state of discourse these days – where folks like Bill Maher are treated like experts on matters of theology. It is a disturbing trend, these comic-intellects who are supposedly the voice of the intelligent classes. Don’t get me wrong, I think Colbert is funny and Stewart has a smart show. But when it comes to debates about gay marriage or moral theology, can’t we have Hadley Arkes instead of Bill Maher? Let’s be frank – Bill Maher has absolutely no depth.