Links roundup, 1.3

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. Some catching up on some articles I read over break:

Joe Carter writes an open letter to the religious right, expressing his tepid association with the term along with offering some priority suggestions.

Today would be Tolkien’s 119th birthday. Prof. Birzer offers a very nice reflection on Tolkien, myth, modernity and faith.

A pretty cool video showing demographic changes related to global health and wealth over the last 200 years. Interesting to watch an enormous difference develop and then begin to collapse.

Pope Benedict’s Christmas greeting, which acts as a year sum up / state of the union type address, is worth a read. He is very blunt about the sex abuse crisis, saying that the “face of the Church is stained, the garment is torn” by the sins of those priests. What was the cause? Instead of the Church standing against a culture in moral drift, the Church herself came under the sway of that culture. He remarks on various “terrifying signs of the times”, cultural norms that sadly infected parts of the Church. In particular, he focuses on sexual predation, children, and the commodification of sexuality. The central problem, as always for Benedict, is the “dictatorship of relativism”, the idea that there is nothing intrinsically evil. In this moral confusion, “Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.” Fr. Barron offers a typically sharp commentary on the address here.

An article on Benedict’s return to traditional liturgical norms. Count me as a serious conservative on these issues.

George Weigel offers a useful summary and clarification on the issue of condoms in the wake of the controversy around Benedict’s recent book length interview. In sum – we are here we already were, but now we know for sure that the mainstream media is incapable of handling nuance.

Here is a nice review of Edward Feser’s “Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide”. This is a really nice little book. This review focuses in particular on Feser’s treatment of Intelligent Design. The trouble is that most ID arguments are not the sort of arguments Aquinas would have made, and popular atheists like Dawkins seriously miss the mark when they treat Aquinas’ argument from design. Many ID arguments assume the same mechanistic view of nature that Aquinas’ 5th way precisely rejects. Feser is very good on this.

About Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.
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