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A Philadelphia-area native offers an unlettered layman’s perspective.

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The Narrative is Problematic

It is natural to assemble a story for ourselves that helps explain how and why things happen in this world. Along the way we encounter others who seem knowledgeable in these matters, and we add their understanding to our own. As we get older, our narrative emphasizes what has gone wrong out there, and what should be done to fix all the problems. This, too, is natural.

The Economics of Beauty

Now here is an angle Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels probably did not cover in their famous 1848 treatise on economics, “The Communist Manifesto”… Namely, the impact beauty has on an economic system. But it turns out a gentleman by the name of Daniel S. Hamermesh has given it a lot of thought.

An Aversion to Action Films

It’s late on Friday afternoon and a few co-workers are letting their hair down before heading out for the weekend. I can hear bits and pieces of conversation through an open door. Someone mentions not having seen the blockbuster hit “Top Gun: Maverick,”

The Second Bill of Rights

Everyone is always singing the praises of liberal democracy, but these days many enthusiasts are expressing concern about the future of the institution. Populist uprisings here in the United States and across Europe are seen as threatening the rule of law, and the idea of free and fair elections.

Selective Ridicule

Everyone is always singing the praises of “liberal democracy” these days.  Not only is it universally thought of as the best possible form of government, it’s the only one any reasonable person will even consider.

Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 4

As my little amateur history draws to a close, I will be offering two concrete suggestions for improving the economic status quo. As a preface to making those suggestions allow me to state for the record I do not disagree with the libertarian premise about regulation stifling innovation and undermining incentives that drive capitalism. Or that capitalism is the best economic system for “freeing” large masses of human beings from lives of misery and poverty.

Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 3

My goal in assembling this very amateur and oh-so-brief history is three-fold. To disabuse everyday conservative Catholics (my friends and neighbors) of the notion economics has nothing to do with morality. To challenge the contention of intellectual conservative Catholics (the scholars I have been reading for the last thirty years) that free market capitalism is inherently moral. And lastly to assure both groups (and any other readers who may wander in) that I am not suggesting any form of socialism as an alternative.

Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 2

In analyzing the ideological schism that plagues present-day Catholicism, we tend to focus on the fall-out from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the sexual revolution of the 1960s that surrounded it. With good reason, since both did indeed play a large role in splintering Catholics into the current opposing camps of “liberal” and “conservative.”

The Magic Scene: Nebraska

It sort of goes without saying every good movie is made up of a series of enjoyable, engaging scenes. But the really good movies, the ones that stick with you, have what I would call a magic scene. Or maybe even more than one.

The Republican Crusade Against Sex

As a resident of Pennsylvania, I will be called on in a few months to help elect a new Governor. As usual, I am less than thrilled with the two major party candidates we are able to choose between. And also as usual in recent years, the Republican option in this election is even more of a concern to me than is the Democrat.

Mt. Sinai and the Second Amendment

Yesterday the latest in a seemingly endless series of mass shootings occurred in a small Texas town, when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos walked into an elementary school with an AR-15 style rifle. He killed nineteen children and two teachers, and wounded seventeen others.

Catholics and Collective Bargaining

It always fascinates me when successful, fiscally conservative Catholics express an unbridled distain for organized labor on ideological grounds. To hear them tell it, unions are nothing but an affront to individual liberty and self-determination, two hallmarks of the American lexicon.

One Weird Catholic

Since returning to the fold almost thirty years ago, identifying as “Catholic” has come naturally to me. Though I can’t say there are many practicing Catholics who share my perspective on the state of the world, let alone the state of the Catholic Church.

Astrology and Free Will

Astrology doesn’t have many defenders these days, and with good reason. The idea of a horoscope that can predict your future based on the month you were born and your “sun sign” is more than a little far-fetched. The very thought strikes most reasonable people as silly, and a complete waste of time.

An Easter Suggestion

No matter how old we grow or how feeble we become, let us remember the excitement of this morning’s embrace. That way, should we ever wish to conjure the sense of healing love that so easily envelopes us today, all we need do is gaze into each other’s eyes.

What I Am Looking For

What are you looking for in a woman? This is one of the first questions asked of a man on an internet dating site. Since subscribing last June I haven’t had a ready answer. Other than the obvious, self-depreciating one: Anyone who will put up with me.

New Love Late in Life

Finding love at any age is one of life’s mysteries. An intimate relationship is a delicate thing, with many a twist and turn to navigate. In every instance the intrinsic joy being produced springs from the same source: Discovering and exploring every aspect of this new, amazing human being.

Make It Work In The Real World

The intellectual tradition to which I subscribe believes in an economics based on virtues such as justice and charity, instead of ‘laws’ like supply and demand. The earliest guidelines for this preferred system can be found in the Acts of the Apostles, when the first band of followers were said to have shared all they had with one another, according to need. This is what Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) identified back in the 13th century as “distributive justice.”

Finding a Calling

My ex-wife decided in 2014 she no longer wanted to be married to me. That’s when she unceremoniously moved out of the second-floor master bedroom, and took up residence in the little in-law suite we had carved out of a couple rooms on the first floor.

Heart Like a Wheel

What is lonelier?  To lack any semblance of female companionship in one’s life, or to conduct a series of hopeful first encounters in search of an elusive match when it comes to emotional intelligence and temperament, only to come up empty?

A Simple Explanation

February 14, 2022 | 175 words | Personal History

The are many reasons why a marriage hits the rocks, and many ways to describe the demise of a long-term relationship.  Here’s one way…  

Rachael & Vilray

You may know the voice of Rachael Price from her work with the group Lake Street Dive, who first met as students at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. That was about twenty years ago, and they’ve been recording and touring together ever since. They have a very relaxed “unplugged” sound, which puts the focus on the musicality of the music, if that makes any sense. Four friends sitting around riffing. Their original stuff is always fun, and they do some of the best covers around.

Edicts of an Empire

December 25, 2021 (1,937 words)
Today’s catchy title is taken from the subject line of this week’s email blast from the long-time President of a small but highly-regarded liberal arts college located in the beautiful…

Women in the Church

December 8, 2021 (401 words)
Concern over finding oneself on the wrong side of history forces intelligent, well-intentioned people to abandon the formal practice of religion, while still thinking of themselves as being “spiritual” at…

Original Sin

December 1, 2021 (593 words)
How can an innocent newborn come into this world burdened with what religious zealots refer to as “the stain of Original Sin”? This is just the sort of mean-spirited clap-trap that…

Malden Mills

November 21, 2021 (756 words)
Do you happen to remember that twenty-five-year-old story about a Massachusetts industrialist who refused to lay-off his 1,400 employees, even after the textile plant they worked in suffered a catastrophic…

How Medicine is Practiced Today

November 7, 2021 (2,413 words)
The actor Stanley Tucci has appeared in over 70 films, and he always manages to be an authentic, relatable presence, even as a villain. The other night he was interviewed on NPR about a new book…

Science Trumps Religion

October 31, 2021 (373 words)
In the ongoing debate over whether or not to vaccinate for the COVID-19 virus, I recently heard an interesting take on the subject from the BBC World Service in London, courtesy of my local NPR affiliate…

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