1. Dorian Speed has put together an amazing site: Electing the Pope. Answering all your papal conclave questions. You can submit your own questions if you can’t find the answer in the 50 plus articles already on the site. I was feeling completely lame that I agreed to write some articles for her and haven’t done a one. Then I remembered: >i>Hey, I have five kids. Maybe that has something to do with it? I’m still getting used to how much less time I have for reading, writing, and thinking. But the site doesn’t seem any the worse for lack of my presence. Dorian has put together a crack team of lay experts and well, it all looks awesome.Perfect for non-Catholics who are confused by the whole papacy thing, for Catholics who just want to learn more, for homeschoolers or really any parents who want to help their kids follow what’s going on in the Church. Really, unless you are an expert in all things Catholic (and with 2000+ years of history who could be?) you will probably learn something new and interesting if you start poking around.
2. Simcha on parenting. So very good.
Good parents are the ones who say, “I always thought we’d be THIS kind of family . . . have THIS kind of education . . . spend our time on these kind of things with these kinds of people . . . but instead, here we are.” Here we are, responding to our actual circumstances, taking care of our actual children, leading our actual lives.
3. The Economics of Splitting Wood by Hand
So I ask myself: Should I really give this up? Am I being silly by continuing to do that which a machine, or purchased wood, could easily replace? I think I have at last come to my final answer: no. This is not silly; it is good. Work, especially manual labor (manual of course originally means by hand), has an importance in itself. Our society seems to have accepted with little or no consideration the premise that manual labor should be avoided if possible. I suggest that manual labor, as a particularly human form of work, has a special and enduring value in human life. This is especially evidenced in its power to unite the one working with other persons, places, and things.
4. Jane Austen as a Moral Philosopher
Austen carries out her mission of moral education with flair and brilliance, while charitably respecting the capacities of her readers. This is why she is so much more readable than most moral theorists, such as Kant, who seem often to write as if being comprehensible is not their problem. Yet there is one further striking feature that sets Austen’s novels apart: her moral gaze. The omniscient author of her books sees right through people to their moral character, and then exposes and dissects their follies, flaws, and self-deceptions. I cannot read one of her novels without thinking, with a shiver, about what that penetrating moral gaze would reveal if directed at me.
This is virtue ethics at a different level – it’s about moral vision, not just moral content. Austen shows us how to look at ourselves and analyse and identify our own moral character. She shows us how to meet Socrates’ challenge to ‘Know thyself’. We have all the information we need to look at ourselves in this manner, to see ourselves as we really are – we have an author’s omniscient access to the details of our own lives. But we generally prefer not to open that box.
And while we’re on the subject of dear Jane, have you seen these delectable stamps? I’m trying to justify buying some because they are just so, so pretty.
5. Anthony Esolen: Culture of Divorce, Culture of Death
“God is not the God of the dead,” said Jesus to the Sadducees, whose hearts were too cramped to believe in any resurrection, “but of the living.” To accept divorce as a way of death — no way of life — is to deny the very being of God as revealed by Jesus. It is to say that love can, or should sometimes be permitted to, die utterly. But had God so acted toward us, all this universe would have winked out of existence at the first sin of Adam. With every sin we commit, we pretend to sever ourselves from the fount of our being, as if we were lords of life and death; yet should God respond to us in kind, we would find the divorce complete, and would fall into the nothingness of everlasting loss. But He does not do so, and at the last moment, like the thief on the cross who joined the others in their jeering, but who then thought better of it — and maybe it took the torment of crucifixion to wake him — we may turn to Christ and hear him say, “This day you shall be with me in Paradise.” Christ did not put away that dying criminal. So much the better for us, who are all criminals, dying.
6. The Educative Value of Teasing
The article looks at teasing in several positive lights: teasing as an expression of acceptance, as a means of promoting humility, as a means of correction and social control, and as a test of social relationship.
This seemed especially interesting:
Research in our culture shows that over the past two or three decades in North America there has been a continuous rise in narcissism, which might be defined as a pathological form of arrogance. I can’t help but wonder: Might the rise of narcissism be partly caused by a decline in teasing, especially teasing of children by parents and other adults? The self-esteem movement of the past two or three decades has been accompanied by the view that all sorts of put-downs of children are harmful, because they damage self-esteem. Well, maybe that’s what the put-downs were designed to do—damage the sort of “self-esteem” that manifests itself as arrogance or narcissism. Pacific Islanders and Asians generally value humility more than do Westerners, and they are also more likely than Westerners to tease their children, often in ways that strike Westerners as mean or insensitive.
7. Calah Alexander gives us The Smarty Lesson, a very funny, very cute story about self control and a four year old.
8. An atheist stands up for truth in reporting about the Catholic Church. Quite refreshing. It turns out that reports of abuse in the Magdalene laundries in Ireland had been greatly exaggerated.
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