Happy New Year’s Eve!! (What, you were expecting something more on a day when nobody is going to read this thing, anyway?)
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Last week we had a retrospective on the news items from January through June of 2015. Today we present the big news items from July through December 2015. As you can see, the year got off to a slow start, but a large number of projects came to fruition (or at least started to bud) in the second half of the year:
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
As we saw in previous postings in this series, Fulton Sheen’s “obsession” with socialism was founded solidly on his commitment to the principles of reason found in Aristotelian-Thomism, the philosophy of common sense. Socialism, as Pope Pius XI explained, “is based . . . on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms. (Quadragesimo Anno, § 120.)
Monday, December 28, 2015
Two weeks ago (we had to reschedule this conclusion to our short refugee crisis series) we mentioned that there is a specific program that could be adapted and implemented to resolve the refugee crisis, once the global community has dealt with the immediate situation. Rather than rewrite the original description, we present it here, with links to the full proposal:
Friday, December 25, 2015
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Since this was a very short week (and this is a Wednesday instead of the usual Friday), we’ve put together a short “news roundup” for the first half of the year as a retrospective. Leading off, of course, is CESJ’s participation in the Amazon Smile program, since it’s an all-year thing:
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
As we saw in the previous posting in this series, despite “Branch Theory” — the idea that the Anglo-Catholic, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches are all part of the larger Catholic Church — there was more dividing the Anglican Church from the Catholic Church than a matter of mere politics. From its founding by Henry VIII Tudor, the man-centered Church of England was necessarily in direct conflict with the God-centered Catholic Church, and (at least in the eyes of G.K. Chesterton, Msgr. Ronald Knox, and Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson) this orientation was leading the Anglican Church away from Christianity altogether.
Monday, December 21, 2015
The financial world is in an absolute panic, the economic mavens are freaking out, politicians are starting to wonder if they should start looking for honest work . . . until they remember that their financial and economic policies have ensured that there won’t be any jobs waiting for them. What to do, what to do? And (for us normal people) what the heck is going on, anyway? What is causing all the fuss?
Friday, December 18, 2015
This is the last full work week of the year, so this will be the last full “News from the Network” for 2015 — we’ll content ourselves with a retrospective of the important events for the Just Third Way for our next two “issues.” Unusually for this time of year we have quite a bit to report:
Thursday, December 17, 2015
In the previous posting in this series we saw that, just as modern theology and philosophy separate religion from God, socialism and capitalism separate creation from the Creator. This results in putting man before God.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
One of the more unusual things (one might almost say “odd”) about the veneration accorded to Fulton Sheen is the fact that his tremendous intellectual achievements and social insights are almost always marginalized or ignored. John A. Hardon’s entry on Sheen in The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan (1989) makes no mention of that aspect of Sheen’s work — something that is also missing from the entries on G.K. Chesterton and Ronald Knox. Adherents of all three seem to focus primarily on the admittedly great faith, spirituality, and mysticism of the three — those things that, with a few twists and adjustments, can easily be fitted into New Age thought.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
As we noted in the previous posting in this series, Academia was in terrible shape in the 1920s — at least when it came to upholding orthodox Jewish, Christian, and Islamic belief systems and philosophies in a world that seemed to have completely lost its mind, or at any rate its sense of identity. As Fulton Sheen commented in the Preface to Religion Without God, published in 1928, “Present-day religion is not in evolution, but in revolution.” As he continued,
Monday, December 14, 2015
According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, “The American Middle Class is Losing Ground,” the number of “middle class” households is now less than those in the “upper class” and “lower class” combined. We put “name of class” in quotes, because we just have a gut reaction to being described as belonging to a class in a legally classless society. We’ll try not to do it again, at least today. We’ve made our point.
Friday, December 11, 2015
The stock market has been up and down this week like a rubber ball. This is bad, because people think that the fluctuations actually mean something, and are taking the stock market as a leading economic indicator. News flash, folks, it’s not. It’s not a real economic indicator at all.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
One of the things that strikes the reader of Fulton Sheen’s God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy — assuming that Chesterton’s The “Dumb Ox” and Knox’s Enthusiasm were read first and the reader has a little knowledge of what was really going on in the world of the 1920s — is the pervasiveness of certain ideas that Sheen found in both civil and religious life. Understanding these ideas and becoming somewhat familiar with the environment and culture within which Sheen wrote go a long way toward helping us understand what Sheen was doing. By that we mean the world in which he lived and that provided the environment within which he formed his thought when he began writing, and against which, in large measure, he was reacting.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
We come now to the third and final book in our series on “Three Key Books on Common Sense.” Paradoxically (but consistent with the thought of Chesterton, Knox, and Sheen), Fulton J. Sheen’s God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy was the first written (in 1925), but would make little sense to the reader unless it is read last. This is because, unlike many books, God and Intelligence is easier to understand by reading it in light of what came after publication, rather than before.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
In today’s posting we conclude our brief overview of the characteristics of enthusiasm — at least, those that we selected. Not by coincidence, we also conclude that portion of the blog series dealing with Msgr. Ronald Knox’s Enthusiasm and his take on the development of a new concept of religion. So, today we look at 10) Antinomianism, 11) Lust for Martyrdom, 12) Invisible Church, 13) Desire for Results, and 14) Experimentalism (Novelty).
Monday, December 7, 2015
Last week on this blog we decided that trying to solve the refugee problem strictly as a refugee problem was not a solution — viable or otherwise. Nor is military action, while it may be necessary, a solution to a refugee problem. What is needed, frankly, is a two-pronged approach. The first prong would be to take care of the immediate situation. The second prong is to implement an actual solution.
Friday, December 4, 2015
Oddly enough for a week so close to the end of the year when things usually slow down substantially, we’ve had a significant number of happenings this week. Mostly this has been due to the large number of outreach efforts we’ve been making, and the door-opening that has resulted. Of course, there are other things going on, too:
Thursday, December 3, 2015
In the previous posting in this series, we looked at two of Msgr. Ronald Knox’s fourteen characteristics of enthusiasm as identified and summarized by Dr. James Hitchcock in his book, The New Enthusiasts, 1) Excessive Piety and 2) Schism.
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
In the previous posting in this series we had a graphic illustration of the dangers of abandoning Aristotelian-Thomism and the intellect as the basis of the natural law. This was Dr. John D. Mueller who, by going outside the Aristotelian-Thomist framework for his analysis of a system based on Aristotelian-Thomism, invalidated his own theories.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
In the previous posting in this series we noted that G.K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, and Fulton Sheen (in common with Mortimer Adler), traced many — if not all — of today’s “philosophical mistakes” and the failure of common sense in academia and elsewhere to the abandonment of Aristotelian-Thomism. In its place there has been an almost universal reliance on a distorted Platonism. This is achieved by exaggerating and twisting the thought of Augustine of Hippo. By this means the principles of reason are jettisoned and a reliance on personal will substituted as the basis of the natural law and the principles of a just social order. This is usually in the form of a personal interpretation of something accepted on faith as God’s Will.
Monday, November 30, 2015
On FaceBook recently someone asked what St. Thomas Aquinas would say about the refugee situation. Opinion among the respondents seemed divided between those who insisted that every country must take in as many refugees as could present themselves for entry, and those who said that no country should be forced to take anyone in.
Friday, November 27, 2015
The pace of outreach seems to be picking up for CESJ and the Just Third Way. That’s unusual, with people’s focus on the holidays at this time of year, but we’ve had a virtual repeat of last week’s “banner week” for outreach and contacts.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
In 1908, G.K. Chesterton published what many people consider one of his four (or five) greatest books. This was Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith, written soon after his conversion to Christianity. He had previously flirted with socialism and theosophy, both of which were integrated into the program of the Fabian Society.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Yesterday, we looked at how efforts to avoid the consequences of assuming that the only source of financing for new capital formation is past savings, combined with the lack of understanding of the act of social justice, virtually ensured that the “orthodox,” reason-based, Aristotelian-Thomist concept of the natural law would — temporarily, we believe — go down before the forces of irrational faith, personal opinion, and the triumph of the will. This is an example of Msgr. Ronald Knox called “enthusiasm” or “ultrasupernaturalism.”
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
In the previous posting in this series, we noted that Fabian socialism — a combination of an expanded georgist agrarian socialism and the tenets of Madame Blavatsky’s theosophy — received a fresh impetus in mid-twentieth century. This came from the ease with which modernist elements were able to seize control of the situation following the Second Vatican Council and expand their previous hijacking of Catholic social teaching to all teachings of the Church. To a lesser degree this was also the case with Marxist communism and certain aspects of “Liberation Theology.”
Monday, November 23, 2015
It’s common today among many individuals and groups to disparage “the corporation” (meaning business corporations) as inherently evil. Corporations consistently make the “Top Ten List’ of the things people love to hate. Other things on the list, of course, are “the rich” (considered non-persons and thus things without rights), “the government” (a social tool, and therefore a thing), “the banks” (including central banks, especially the Federal Reserve), anybody who ticks you off or disagrees with you (and who therefore loses all rights, becoming a thing), and so on.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Most immediate (but far from the most important — for that you’ll have to go to the actual news items, below), is that we want everyone to know if you’re doing any shopping on Amazon at this or any other time of the year, you can put a little money in CESJ’s pocket without taking any (more) out of your own. CESJ participates in the “Amazon Smile” program, so 0.5% (that’s one-half of one percent) of your net purchase goes to CESJ without increasing the cost to you. We have the link and instructions for you, below.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
In the previous posting in this series we noted that books like E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful and Guide for the Perplexed appeared to be in conformity with the “new” openness in the Catholic Church, especially anything labeled a “social concern” or that promoters believed had the potential to bring the Church up to date.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Back in 1982, Dr. James Hitchcock of St. Louis University published The New Enthusiasts and What They Are Doing to the Catholic Church. Intended as an updating of Msgr. Ronald Knox’s Enthusiasm from 1950, it has two serious flaws from our point of view, neither of which diminish its value.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
In the previous posting in this series we asked how, in the Catholic Church, an institution that declares its claims are based on both faith and reason, and that it has never changed a single fundamental teaching, the rejection of reason and change for the sake of change apparently became the first principle of faith for so many people?
Monday, November 16, 2015
Last Monday we posted a (much edited) response of ours to a student asking for help on an economics question. That is, we posted our response to the student’s first question. There was another, which we will proceed to post (and answer) today:
Friday, November 13, 2015
Has anyone noticed that every time the Federal Reserve says it might consider considering raising interest rates, the stock market goes down? And then goes up whenever the Federal Reserve retracts its statement . . . causing Fed officials to make another announcement about the possibility of raising rates, resulting in another downturn . . . .
Thursday, November 12, 2015
As we’ve seen in this series, one of the most striking characteristics of the shift in the basis of the natural law from the Intellect to the Will is the necessity of rejecting reason itself — even among individuals and groups who claim to base their respective positions on reason and common sense. The “inner light” Chesterton disparaged is their only guide and lamp unto their feet. As Knox explained,
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
In 1998 the late Dr. Ralph McInerny of the University of Notre Dame published What Went Wrong With Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained. This was an analysis of what, in his opinion, caused theologians and others to misinterpret and misapply the Council so egregiously: dissension over the encyclical Humanae Vitae.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
One of the things that Pope Leo XIII stressed from the beginning of his pontificate was the importance of understanding Catholic teaching — all Catholic teaching — in light of the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, “the Angelic Doctor.” One of Leo’s earliest encyclicals, in fact, was Æterni Patris, “On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy” (1879) — which might as easily have been titled, “On Saint Thomas Aquinas.”
Monday, November 9, 2015
Recently a student in a local Catholic school asked us for help on a question in economics class: “Present three (3) economic costs and three (3) economic benefits that would be associated with the short-medium term solution to the crisis of people fleeing violence and poverty from countries in Africa and Asia.” From the Just Third Way perspective, this appeared pretty straightforward.
Friday, November 6, 2015
We had a telephone conversation earlier today with Father Edward Krause, C.S.C., Ph.D., a member of CESJ’s Board of Counselors in residence at the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana. Despite being isolated in the wilds of academia, he has been able to insert ideas of the Just Third Way into some discussions.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
In Enthusiasm, as we saw in the previous posting in this series, Ronald Knox claimed that the enthusiastic, anti-intellectual phase of the history of religion appeared to be a “closed chapter.” There was still a need for constant vigilance, of course. There were also the usual American aberrations on which to keep an eye. All things considered, though, a certain calm optimism appeared to be in order.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
We come now to the second book in our series on common sense: Monsignor Ronald Knox’s Enthusiasm (1950). Chronologically, of course, Enthusiasm was the third one written; Fulton Sheen’s God and Intelligence was published in 1925, and G.K. Chesterton’s St. Thomas Aquinas: The “Dumb Ox” was published in 1933. Our goal being getting people to understand the point, however, we think that Enthusiasm should come second instead of third.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
One thing became evident when researching what we might call the Decline and Fall of Common Sense in the modern world. That is, at some point a shift occurred not only in what people think, but in how or even if they think. As we noted in the first posting in this series, this was a change from a reason-based worldview, to what Richard Feynman called “Cargo Cult Science,” i.e., faith-based, meaning one’s own opinion about what one wants to believe projected on to the world.
Monday, November 2, 2015
G.K. Chesterton may one day be recognized as possibly the most genial man of the twentieth century. While he hinted on occasion that this might be due to indolence or similar flaws, it could probably better be attributed to an inherent good nature that, while something for which all human beings have an inborn capacity, some manage to develop to a higher degree of completion.
Friday, October 30, 2015
A number of events have happened this week that both highlight the need for something like “Justice University” and — at the same time — make it more likely that the idea can be brought to fruition. As you will see, this is mostly due to the positive reaction we’ve received from interacting with the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship program:
Thursday, October 29, 2015
One of the things that strikes readers of Saint Thomas Aquinas: The “Dumb Ox” is Chesterton’s mildness toward, even respect for, those whom he regarded as Traditionalists and social conservatives. Chesterton himself had a great respect for both human tradition and Sacred Tradition. He couldn’t be too hard on reactionaries who exaggerated things and confused the two.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
One of the things that strikes the reader of what is perhaps G.K. Chesterton’s greatest book, Saint Thomas Aquinas: The “Dumb Ox”, is the fact that so little of it is actually about Aquinas. A rough estimate reveals that barely a quarter of the text deals with Aquinas himself — and even that seems to focus more on other people in Aquinas’s life or who are important for understanding the contemporary situation. Practically none of it deals with theology.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
In St. Thomas Aquinas: The “Dumb Ox”, G.K. Chesterton made a point of calling himself stupid — a fool or a moron, in fact. If it were anyone other than Chesterton, a reader might tend to think Chesterton was trying to get people to contradict him and say, no, how intelligent he really is, he’s just being modest, etc., etc.
Monday, October 26, 2015
Five years ago today we ran one of our most popular blog postings ever: “Halloween Horror Special XIII: Mean Green Mother from Outer Space.” Possibly because of its resemblance to a tabloid newspaper feature article (even though every word is absolutely true), the posting has consistently ranked in the top five for half a decade, one of the “Top Five for Five,” so to speak. That being the case, we decided to rerun it today, with a few corrections, and adding a few illustrations, and removing the links that no longer lead anywhere.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Accurate information about the Just Third Way is beginning to filter past the “gatekeepers” in academia and politics. It seems that the near-total lack of vision in these quarters has caused a number of people to start thinking outside the box. The signs that people are starting to wake up to the potential of the Just Third Way are all there:
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Even before he converted to Catholicism in 1922, G.K. Chesterton exhibited great concern for the modern abandonment of reason, and the consequent shift from God to man as the center of things. This shift is best seen in the aberration called socialism and, to a lesser degree, in the distortion known as capitalism.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
To understand what G.K. Chesterton did in 1933, we have to go back a decade to understand what he did in 1923. That was the year, soon after his conversion to Catholicism, that Chesterton published what many consider one of his four (or five) greatest books: St. Francis of Assisi. He seems to have felt it was his duty as a Catholic to present St. Francis, one of the most popular saints among non-Catholics, in a proper light, especially in an age that held St. Francis up as an exemplar for all the wrong reasons.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Yesterday we noted that, under pressure from the presumably unavoidable slavery of past savings, distributism regressed from the ideas of Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, and progressed into a weird combination of georgist socialism and theosophy known as Fabian socialism.