The Covington Scissor by Ross Douthat

James Altschul just gave a nice synopsis and analysis of the whole Covington debacle. Everyone in mainstream media and Catholic leaders decided it would be great fun to pick on Catholic high schoolers, never considering that they might've misjudged the situation. It was ugly. Douthat, the token conservative for the New York Times who probably receive hate-mail daily from his colleagues, did his best to give an even-handed treatment of the whole thing. He does this in the typical way, putting forth some social theory and applying it to the Covington students in an effort to raise the event to an abstract issue fitting into some grand pattern of behavior, not concrete evidence of media bias and liberal cowardice (seriously, they were doxxing the kids and openly cackling about it--and many still haven't apologized). Then, Douthat's alter-ego, a kind of conservative Mr. Hyde to Douthat's Dr. Jeckel, steps in midway through the article and lays out the matter very clearly. Hope to see more of that guy.

On Listening to Thomas Merton by Tracy Lee Simmons

I recognize that I should deplore Merton and his troubling drift eastward towards Buddhism and his liberal activism in his final years, but I can't--I personally think God took him in a freak accident before he finally committed outright apostasy. His book Seven Storey Mountain is a work of beauty. Many readers will credit it for deepening their spiritual lives. I just think it was very well-written and had some excellent insights on modernism and the contemplative life. Simmons redeems Merton's image somewhat in his comments on some recorded lectures Merton gave to his fellow monks. The man was brilliant, though easily diverted. Apparently, Seven Storey Mountain was this way before an editor went to work and turned his ramblings into a masterpiece.

A Case for the Quaint: The Great Ideas Program by Robert M. Woods

This was a good followup to Josh Herring's article earlier this week about Great Books programs. The move for most graduate programs has been towards specialization and research (and for the humanities, towards nonexistence). The Great Books overturns these trends for a more general universalist approach towards the the various disciplines along with a deeper treatment of the core texts of Western civilization. Far from diminishing rigor, classes in the Great Books curriculum demand much more from students. The reading lists are heavy both in quantity (there are many great books) and quality (they are not easy reads). I can't say that having a graduate degree or PhD in this traditional education does not guarantee a post at colleges (sorry, Josh), or even respect from others as they just consider the whole idea "quaint." Still, it is perhaps the best path to wisdom and being truly educated.

It's Time for Pro-Lifers to Realize They're Losing by Bill Kilgore

A sobering piece, but all too true. The insane abortion bills popping in New York, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Vermont that would essentially allow infanticide (killing fully formed babies) all give evidence to a boosted confidence in pro-abortion Democrats--I really hope the people that voted for them, or refrained from voting altogether, during the midterm are kicking themselves now. Tony Juarez wrote a great article about just how little pro-lifers achieve with their earnest appeals to reason and charity. Kilgore criticizes the defeatist mentality of the pro-life movement and their reluctance to confront abortionists. I think both of these arguments should be considered in order to renew the push to end abortion. Put briefly, pro-lifers need to get smart, vote Republican, and call out the extremism and irrationality of Democrats and abortion advocates, fight against the propaganda, and stand strong and not support the pro-life warriors who take flack from abortion activists.  

Photo: John Howard Griffin with Permission of Merton Legacy Trust and Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University