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Ridiculing Catholicism

Ridiculing Catholicism for being out-of-touch with the modern world is super easy, and it’s so much fun! Okay, yes, that sentence is gratuitous, and designed to get your attention.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 1

First Things has always been a classy journal featuring quality contributions from orthodox scholars and academics. Father Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), the founding editor and famous Lutheran convert to Catholicism, was a prose stylist par excellence. Anything he chose to write about in his monthly dairy entries was a pleasure to read.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How I Learned to Write

In recent months I have struck up a close friendship with a fascinating, age-appropriate woman who has never stopped learning, never stopped taking classes and acquiring certifications.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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The Magic of Proximity

Because each of us is blessed with the Imago Dei, we possess an inherent dignity that is worthy of respect. This is true regardless of our level of formal education and resulting station in life. It is true no matter how meager our material circumstances might be.

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Transitioning to Adulthood

Every stage of life comes with its own set of problems that need to be figured out.  But going from adolescence to early adulthood is particularly tricky, especially for a sensitive young person.

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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.

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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?

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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…  

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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.

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Mayor Pete and the Whole Ball of Wax

The primary race for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election is old news by now, but I only just watched a documentary about the quixotic run made by the youngest member of the field, Mayor Pete.

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New Year’s Resolution

January 1, 2022 (218 words)
“A wonderful New Year’s resolution for the men who run the world: Get to know the people who only live in it.”…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Anguished Heartbreak

November 14, 2021 (317 words)
The young balladeer Adele has done it again. Her latest hit, Go Easy on Me, is currently playing…

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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…

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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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Lonely Hearts Club

October 18, 2021 (802 words)
In the dating world of ‘mature singles’ there is something known as the “90-day syndrome.” That’s how long it takes for a new infatuation to run its course, and for the two adults…

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Denouement

October 10, 2021 (34 words)
The physical intimacy we shared led me to believe you were more into me than it turns out you really are. And made me think we had…

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Powerless to Effect Change

October 5, 2021 (174 words)
There are many forms of physical and emotional distress that can befall us in the course of our lives. Some folks have to cope with more of these challenges than others, often for…

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Seven New Laws

September 28, 2021 (87 words)
The headline read: “California Governor Gavin Newsome proposes seven new laws to address homeless.” This is no doubt a well-meaning gesture on the…

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A Discriminating Eye

September 27, 2021 (210 words)
It’s funny how some words can fall out of favor, while others acquire a new luster. Acceptance, tolerance, diversity, and love – especially when grouped together like a slogan, as on a…

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How Much Should Government Do?

September 24, 2021 (70 words)
In touting the latest round of his seemingly never-ending infrastructure stimulus package that recently received Congressional approval, President Biden…

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Faith and Works

September 12, 2021 (446 words)
The second reading at Mass this morning was that famous passage from James (2:14-26) about faith and works, the one biblical scholars and religious apologists have been arguing about for…

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Eliminating the Middle Class

September 6, 2021 (1,812 words)
I.
These days contrarians of all stripes are a little obsessed with keeping government out of our lives. When the talk…

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Homeschooling and Socialization

August 27, 2021 (836 words)
For many years I partnered with my soon-to-be-ex-wife – who by the way just happens to turn 60 years old today – to raise four children. She did most of…

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Sweet Music

August 23, 2021 (172 words)
And then there is music. Lots of stuff appeals to me, starting with what the yard birds do each morning before dawn. There is Americana Fest, held every September in Nashville…

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Chronicles of American Money

August 15, 2021 (1,962 words)
I.
My nominee for most productive use of the pandemic shutdown would be the esteemed essayist Lance Morrow. Last year while the rest of us were sorting through our attics and basements…

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By Way of Explanation

August 7, 2021 (1,759 words)
I.
The tiny enterprise I started in 1974 out of my one-bedroom apartment has slowly morphed over…

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Commitment

July 29, 2021 (42 words)
There are a lot of attractive women in this world. But when one of them decides to give you her heart, well, that’s not a run-of-the-mill, everyday…

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A Very Spunky Sparrow

July 27, 2021 (92 words)
When I put my arms around her it feels like I am holding a sparrow. But I’m learning inside that delicate façade beats the heart of one tough cookie. A determined…

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Starting Over

July 21, 2021 (393 words)
When this summer’s low-key quest to find a new female companion first began, I thought it was important to leave my past behind. Because a common refrain of women on internet dating…

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Fantasy and Reality

July 20, 2021 (368 words)
When it comes to romance, we all have a rich inner life. If someone strikes our fancy it’s easy to imagine what they might be like, how you might speak to each other, and what sort of things the two of you…

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Here’s What it Takes

July 16, 2021 (104 words)
It doesn’t take a certain kind of life to be a writer, because any kind of life will do. It’s not a matter of social pedigree, or having a blue-ribbon educational background, or even a flair…

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Could This Be Love?

July 12, 2021 (412 words)
Coming out of a 35-year marriage (and a 39-year relationship) you’re not supposed to fall for the first person who smiles at you. There are a lot of fish in the sea…

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Summer Love

July 11, 2021 (20 words)
Summer love, and winter love, and everything in between love. The best kind…

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Finding a Match

July 10, 2021 (691 words)
Much to my surprise and dismay, my long-running marriage unraveled over the last few years, and is ending in divorce. The decision is mutual, the lawyers are working out the details, and the decree should…

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Adaptations

July 6, 2021 (488 words)
It’s always a challenge when they try to turn your favorite quirky novel into a movie. What makes the novel so rich and rewarding in the first place is the way it takes us into uncharted territory. The best…

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Denying Biden Communion

June 23, 2021 (1,225 words)
In what made headlines on every media platform, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) overwhelming approved new…

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First Things

June 8, 2021 (4,084 words)
First Things has always been a classy journal featuring quality contributions from orthodox scholars and academics. Father Richard…

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Conversion Stories

June 7, 2021 (282 words)
Many adult believers have a conversion story to tell, of how they came back to the faith after a period of doubt or outright rebellion. Now that they have returned to the fold, many exhibit a new appreciation for the strictures…

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Affluent and Bankrupt

June 6, 2021 (49 words)
These two terms would seem to be mutually exclusive, yet they can both be applied to us. Large swatches of our society are undeniably affluent, positively swimming in disposable…

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Honest Thief

June 3, 2021 (88 words)
Honest Thief, an October 2020 theatrical release now available to stream, is an enjoyable, well-made piece of entertainment. It’s labeled an “action/thriller” since it does…

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Managing Personal Expectations

May 30, 2021 (217 words)
I have always considered myself the active and outdoorsy type, but maybe not as much now as before. On a recent trip to Sedona for a family wedding, my 22-year-old daughter and I decided to tackle one of those…

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A Market Disrupter meets the Common Good

May 29, 2021 (370 words)
The goal of any responsible journalist is to shed new light and increase understanding. Along those lines my own particular interest is trying to get friendly readers to reconsider their most cherished liberal or conservative…

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A Vortex of Hate

May 26, 2021 (170 words)
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. At some point the woman I made a lifetime commitment to made her own conscious decision not to be happy with her lot in life. This extended to no longer being in love with me, and not wanting to be married…

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Sordid Family History

May 23, 2021 (246 words)
Many years ago my father fell under the spell of and married an Italian woman. I am told it was a brief courtship, no doubt the result of some romantic voodoo caste by this vixen on a poor, unsuspecting Irishman. They managed to have a…

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The Spectrum of Mental Health

May 22, 2021 (258 words)
Each of us have our own unique pathologies to deal with in this life, which seem to have been assigned at birth. The lucky ones are able to recognize some of them as time goes on, actively engage the thorniest problems in a constructive manner, and occasionally…

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Two Sisters

May 17, 2021 (611 words)
I started with two sisters, but lost one to melanoma in 1998. She was 34 at the time, the youngest of the litter, and our family’s glue. She was in charge of parties and reunions…

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Foolish and Wise

April 30, 2021 (16 words)
When speaking extemporaneously I often feel foolish. When I write, I am able to…

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Individuals and the State

April 3, 2021 (1,210 words)
Catholic teaching on social justice is a slippery thing in many respects, hard to figure and difficult to pin down. To our modern way of thinking it flip-flops between sticking up for what it refers to as the dignity of the individual, and calling on the state to play a vital role in sorting out what can…

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Some Practical Application

March 20, 2021 (1,075 words)
Catholic teaching on social justice is a system of thought that seeks to integrate law, politics, and economics. But there is nothing particularly ‘Catholic’ about it. The implementation does not require you to recite special prayers, observe the feast day of saints, or be proficient…

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Catholic Social Teaching to the Rescue

March 12, 2021 (1,734 words)
A recent feature story in a mainstream publication shouts the following question from its title block: “Can Catholic Social Teaching Unite a Divided America?” What a completely unexpected…

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Are Hedge Funds Evil Incarnate?

March 1, 2021 (1,734 words)
Not that anybody is paying attention to this sort of thing, but the corruption of the Catholic mind over the course of the last sixty years has had a distinctly economic…

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Confronting Economic Unworthiness

February 20, 2021 (807 words)
Those who scoff at the term “social justice” cannot all be dismissed as callous and crusty. The disdain is not always a sign of hard-heartedness. Deep down…

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Play It Forward

February 14, 2021 (37 words)
After being together almost forty years a thought just occurred to me. My commitment…

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Rethinking Return on Investment

February 8, 2021 (1,274 words)
Any home-grown small business person knows how to stay in the game over the long haul. It starts with a hardy constitution impervious to minor ailments. It usually involves a…

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Socialists Should Cheer Up

January 20, 2021 (784 words)
For some reason every critic of capitalism seems like a sourpuss. As if they are never able to get a good night’s sleep, or their sciatica is always acting…

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Philanthropy: The Easy Way Out

January 12, 2021 (1,742 words)
Many of our prominent civic institutions rely on generous donations of private wealth for a vital part of their funding stream. While the term “philanthropy” can apply to the hundred bucks you throw at…

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Wages: Expense or Investment?

December 27, 2020 (2,022 words)
Try to imagine a scenario in which a big, successful, publically-traded company – say a tech giant such as Amazon, for example – might decide on its own to pay its low-wage workers…

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Faith and Politics in America

December 13, 2020 (7,751 words)
I.
We just elected a Catholic as President for only the second time in our history, yet during the campaign hardly a mention was made of the candidate’s once-taboo religious affiliation. Some will say that’s…

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Controlling the Information

December 4, 2020 (774 words)
The printing press made the Protestant Reformation possible, once the Catholic Church could no longer control information. This may not be a new theory, but lately it seems to be popping up in places I frequent for information…

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The Art of the Possible

November 27, 2020 (811 words)
Politics, as we know, is not about identifying the right thing to do, which is a basic concept parents impart to their young children. Instead it’s about recognizing what you can actually get done. This pragmatic approach…

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President Boring

November 25, 2020 (309 words)
After a four-year roller coaster ride with Donald Trump at the wheel, a notable portion of the American electorate – some 80 million strong – has decided Sleepy Joe Biden as President may…

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Heart and Mind

November 23, 2020 (30 words)
It’s all very well to have your heart in the right place. As long as your head is along for the ride, and is willing to work out the…

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Trashing Democrats

November 18, 2020 (877 words)
The problem with trashing Democrats as thoroughly as social conservatives do is it leaves us with only one viable political alternative: Republicans…

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Let Him Go

November 8, 2020 (135 words)
And now a word of praise for those veteran actors and actresses – like Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, and Lesley Manville – lucky enough to find good material they can really grab hold off, even this late…

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A Pendulum of Political Despair

November 7, 2020 (796 words)
This morning the presidential election was officially called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The incumbent had an early lead in many crucial states once the polls closed on November 3. But that lead was…

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Democracy’s Achilles Heel

October 31, 2020 (888 words)
Manipulating the emotions of the general public is how our nation’s business is conducted on a daily basis. Then comes election season, when the fear-mongering ratchets up to a fever…

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Keep It Simple, Stupid

October 23 2020 (316 words)
Okay, so now it’s come to this: As one exits the northbound New Jersey Turnpike, where the Lincoln Tunnel leads into midtown Manhattan, there is a massive billboard dramatically lit against the…

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A Breath of Fresh Air

October 15, 2020 (532 words)
Amy Coney-Barrett was said to have “sparred” with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, during the two days they spent questioning her nomination to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat…

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Sowing Discord and Strife

October 8, 2020 (613 words)
Going to bed early is my stock-in-trade, so i only caught the opening salvos in last night’s Vice-Presidential debate between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris. That was enough for me to regret…

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Another Errant Guide

October 4, 2020 (983 words)
Walking into the back of church this morning I was greeted by an imposing stack of “Catholic Voter Guides” almost two feet high, sitting on a small table in the vestibule. What a colossal waste of ink, I couldn’t…

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Answered Prayers

October 3, 2020 (414 words)
What was your immediate reaction when you first heard President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 the other day? Not many of us want to go on…

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Loving Our Constitution

September 28, 2020 (1,000 words)
Legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died on Friday, September 18, at the age of 87. On Saturday, September 26, President Trump announced his choice to fill the vacancy her passing leaves…

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Catholics for Biden

September 23, 2020 (992 words)
While I believe Catholics who identify as “conservative” in the practice of their faith should untether themselves from the Republican Party, I don’t think the…

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Peggy Noonan’s World

September 13, 2020 (1,134 words)
The toughest part of being a name-brand commentator who gets published in the prestige press on a regular, weekly basis is that it can be hard to come up with worthwhile subject matter…

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The Smell of Abortion

September 12, 2020 (1,048 words)
Did you know abortion has a smell? This provocative question is posed by one Abby Johnson, who spent eight years working for Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas. She started in 2001 by escorting women into the…

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Reverse Racism at Yale

September 7, 2020 (728 words)
What am i missing? Here we are, smack dab in the middle of a “transformative social justice moment,” with every organization from acting troupes to tech firms loudly proclaiming its support for diversity…

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A Unified Vision of Reality

September 6, 2020 (1,359 words)
So the other day I’m watching a short little video from Cross Catholic Outreach that landed in my in-box. It features a man identified in a caption as Cardinal Alvaro Ramazzini of Guatemala, a guy who…

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The Philadelphia Statement

September 5, 2020 (710 words)
There’s been a lot going on lately, so you may have missed the big, August 11 signing of the Philadelphia Statement. Named in recognition of the pivotal role that city played in the founding of the…

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Once More unto the Breach

September 4, 2020 (754 words)
Here we go again. With another presidential election looming partisans of all stripes are once more treating us to raw, visceral appeals designed to by-pass logic and…

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