Jean Valjean Acquitted!

09/19/2011 Comments (88)

Jean Valjean is the guy in Les Miserables who steals a loaf of bread and is sentenced to prison for theft. Had St. Thomas been his judge, he would have gotten off scot free—and for very good reason, as Thomas explains with typical lucidity when answering the musical question “Whether it is lawful to steal through stress of need?.” First, as is his custom, St. Thomas lists various arguments that, yes, it is theft when a poor person takes something in a situation of real need. Then he replies to all these arguments thus:

On the contrary, In cases of need all things are common property, so that there would seem to be no sin in taking another’s property, for need has made it common.

I answer...READ MORE

Filed under catholic social teaching

Fool Says in His Heart There Is No God

09/16/2011 Comments (252)

...then proves his folly by recognizing that you cannot have a coherent moral system without God, but attempting to manufacture one anyway based on his personal whims and desires. All he does is prove the truth of C.S. Lewis prophetic book The Abolition of Man, which warns, “When all that says ‘it is good’ has been debunked, what says ‘I want’ remains.”

Joel Marks is, to his credit, light years beyond the antique “New Atheists” like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, or Richard Dawkins who subsist on the shreds and patches of morality they have inherited from the Christian tradition and who delude themselves that things like “human equality” or “rights” are “self-evident” and not (as they...READ MORE

Filed under atheism

Does Evolutionary Science Disprove the Faith?

09/14/2011 Comments (243)

A reader writes:

I was wondering if you had any opinion on the recent findings suggesting that humanity doesn’t descend exclusively from a single pair. Do you agree with John Farrell that science has essentially disproven the Fall? If so, how should Catholics interpret the whole concept of sin and salvation? Is it even possible to have a doctrine of sin without the Fall?

I think Farrell deserves to kudos for attempting to grapple with the question of the increasingly strong evidence for polygenism head-on rather than simply opting for radio silence. I also disagree with Farrell (at least in part) when he suggests that science has somehow refuted (or even could refute) the doctrine of the...READ MORE

Filed under faith and reason

Behind the Times

09/12/2011 Comments (26)

G.K. Chesterton once remarked that the Catholic Church is the only thing that can save a person from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.

I think of that as I read this breathtaking insight from St. Augustine:

Bad times, hard times—this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: such as we are, such are the times.

We are the times. Wow. That’s one responsibility-takin’ quote right there.

And yet, for the past 100 years or so, we moderns have engaged in an absolutely inexplicable bit of split-brain thinking in which we have severed ourselves from “the times” and talked as though a mere spot on the calendar—not reason, not...READ MORE

Filed under superstitious postmoderns

In Remembrance

09/09/2011 Comments (21)

This Sunday marks the 10th Anniversary of the attack on the United States by the forces of Radical Jihadi Islam. Much can be said, and will be, about the vicious senselessness of the attacks, about the courage of the rescuers, about the grief of the families, about the valor of the passengers of United Flight 93, about the many stories of bravery, honor and heartbreak that come down to us from that terrible day. It’s been 10 years, and yet for many of us it is still too painful to remember without tears, in part because the mass media and the internet made it a “family event” for the entire globe. I have good friends who were simultaneous witnesses to the attack on the Pentagon and the...READ MORE

Filed under in memoriam

Since it's the Octave of Labor Day

09/07/2011 Comments (25)

...I thought I’d have a bit of fun with something Labor Day-related.

One thing I’ve noted is that a common feature of internet conversation is to decide that a statement or idea is right or wrong, good or evil based, not on the the content of the statement, but on who said it.  I want to try something a bit different.  Below are two quotes.  One is from the President, the other from a 20th century European social philosopher.

Quote 1: “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Quote 2: “[M]odern unions grew up...READ MORE

Filed under fun quotes

Adult Stem Cell News

09/05/2011 Comments (17)

A reader writes:

I know you have a lot of readers, so I’m hoping you’ll be able to pass this info along somehow. To sum it up quickly, I’m trying to bring awareness to umbilical cord blood donation. I am pregnant with #4, and we have donated with the last two births and will do so again with this one. Cord blood is rich in adult stem cells and is used to cure several cancers and numerous other diseases.  The current research is also very promising. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get a lot of press or funding because of all of the money that is funneled into embryonic stem cells. Most people are not aware you can donate the blood upon birth. My doctor, a very prominent doctor in our area, had no...READ MORE

Filed under culture of life

How Not to Witness

09/02/2011 Comments (46)

Last time, in this space, we discussed the folly of atheists who claim to be the Future of the Human Race, who even regard themselves as worthy of the Solomonic power of depriving Christian parents of their children for the “abuse” of teaching them their religion, yet who cannot manage to grasp basic human social skills. As human beings, we recognize that human claims of Olympian authority are not made terribly convincing when the Olympian’s behavior contradicts the claim. So when atheists call themselves Bright and act dim, we laugh.

But if that holds true even for human claims, how much more true is it for divine ones? Paul, for instance, remonstrates with his fellow Jews over their...READ MORE

Filed under bad witness

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.