Monday 24th November 2014

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Guilty As Charged

April 19, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

Perhaps the women in question should not be criticized. It strikes me that we no longer have publications on the right that explore in a thorough and serious manner the difference between the traditionalist and libertarian wings of the conservative movement. That said, the young ladies jumped into a fight that need not be fought.
I am talking about the young women who appeared on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program a few weeks back. They were calling attention to the liberal bias of the textbook Introduction to Social Work & Social Welfare used in their college course at the University of South Carolina. “I was tempted to throw the book away,” said one of the women, a sophomore majoring in political science. “This book goes out of its way to glorify liberalism and demonize conservatism. I don’t think it can get much more in-your-face than that.”
Now I have no doubt that the textbook is as left-leaning as the students say; no doubt that it is opposed to free-market principles, a vigorous American military presence in the world, and laws that reflect the moral beliefs of the Christian West. But when the women protested that the textbook charges that conservatives hold a “pessimistic view of human nature,” they took issue where none should be taken. Conservatives do hold such a view. It is central to the conservative position on the major issues of the day.
Perhaps I should rephrase that. It is a view central to the “social conservative” or traditionalist position on the issues of our time. Libertarians — or “economic conservatives” — do not agree. But let us put off for another day a discussion of the reasons for that difference of opinion between the wings of modern conservatism. The point just now is that the beliefs of those most Americans have in mind when they use the term “conservative” — “law and order” advocates who favor a strong military and laws against pornography, abortion, and recreational drug use — are very much rooted in a pessimistic view of mankind.
More to the point, they don’t think it is something to be ashamed about. Conservatives writing for National Review, Modern Age, and the Intercollegiate Review in the 1950s and 1960s used to call it a recognition of “mankind’s fallen nature” and the “scars of original sin.” It is the conviction that mankind has an inclination toward evil that must be held in check by religious beliefs, customs, and the force of law. It is the message of Edmund Burke, and his American disciples, William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, and Richard M. Weaver.
One need not accept a literal reading of the Book of Genesis to hold to this conviction. There are atheists who see the story of Adam’s and Eve’s decision to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden as a myth, who accept it as well. They base their pessimism about human nature not on religious belief but on common sense and the historical record. Like those whose views are rooted in religious belief, they are convinced that mankind needs structure, order, and a reverence for traditional values to remain virtuous.
It is this pessimism that leads to the conservative positions on the leading issues of the day. We can run through the list: Conservatives are convinced that we need a strong military because there are those who would seize upon weakness to take advantage of neighboring countries in the world arena, people who would deny others their freedom and access to the natural resources needed for their economic well-being. Those who take this position will point to a long line of conquerors who have done just that over the course of history, from Xerxes to Genghis Khan to Hitler and Stalin. They are convinced it is naive to think that if we reduce our military strength our adversaries will respond in kind. They point to history as proof that the world does not work that way.
When the issue of the criminal justice system comes up for discussion — whether it is capital punishment, the rights of the accused, or the operation of our prisons — the conservative position is based on the conviction that there are those who would commit crimes against their fellow citizens if not for the fear of quick and sure arrest and punishment. The pessimistic view of human nature is what leads to the belief that is foolhardy to put too great an emphasis on the rights of criminals and on the need to construct our prisons as places of rehabilitation rather than punishment. Conservatives are convinced that the most important characteristic of a prison is its power to make would-be criminals not want to go there.
We can also see this understanding of human nature at work when parents check regularly on their children’s homework, on their choice of friends, on what they read and see on television and the Internet, when they establish curfews and rules for proper dress. Parents with traditional values may not resort to the term “scars of original sin” when they impose these structures on their families; they may not even know what the term means. But it is what people mean when they say, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” It is why these parents are so concerned with bringing the lessons of fine literature and the performing arts into their children’s lives. They see them as civilizing influences.
We could go on: Why not permit abortion on demand, free access to recreational drugs, and sexually explicit material in the home? Because, conservatives are convinced, many of our fellow citizens would kill their unborn children for selfish and frivolous reasons and ruin their lives through drugs and porn, if we do. The term “victimless crime” is not a part of the lexicon of social conservatives. They are convinced a healthy and moral society helps its citizens overcome the moral weaknesses that are a consequence of their fallen nature.
I repeat: I don’t want to be overly critical of the young women from the University of South Carolina who appeared with Megyn Kelly. I am uplifted by the realization that there are college students who do not sit back and soak up the agenda of the academic leftists. But it is important that these young women, and those who cheered them on, be prepared for the attacks they are likely to receive from their left-wing professors and fellow students. They have to be ready to answer the charge: “If you are not pessimistic about human nature, why aren’t you willing to trust people to make their own decisions about their reproductive rights and what they read and watch on television and the movies?”
Their answer, of course, should be, “We are pessimistic, in the manner of St. Augustine, Edmund Burke, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Modern society needs a lot more pessimism of that kind.”

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Pope Appoints New Bishop For Gary, USA

(Vatican Radio) The Holy Father has named an Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee, Donald J. Hying as the new Bishop of Gary, USA. He succeeds Bishop Dale J. Melczek, whose resignation Pope Francis accepted upon having the age limit. On Monday…Continue Reading

TOP CATHOLIC BISHOPS AIDE ON EXECUTIVE AMNESTY: OBAMA’S ‘LAST CHANCE TO MAKE GOOD ON PROMISE’

In a statement last Friday in the New York Times, the top aide on immigration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said that executive amnesty is President Barack Obama’s “last chance to make good on his promise…Continue Reading

Catholics Want To Learn More About Their Faith, Bishops Report

BALTIMORE – For three and a half years, members of several U.S. bishops’ committees have been trying to pinpoint what Catholics in the pew are thinking and why they accept or reject church teachings. To this end, they have conducted…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal: Catholic charity ‘is not only giving food … but giving God’

The Vatican cardinal who oversees the Church’s charitable initiatives has emphasized again that Catholic charities cannot be satisfied with meeting the material needs of those they serve. “Charity is very linked with the proclamation of the Gospel, and doing charity…Continue Reading

Prof at Catholic university tries to justify same-sex ‘marriage’ acceptance from Scripture

Professor Gerald Schlabach of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota recently published a piece for The Christian Century utilizing the writing of St. Paul to create an argument legitimizing acceptance of same-sex marriage. In light of Schlabach’s article, The Cardinal Newman Society…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Group: “We Will Not Obey the Obamacare HHS Mandate, Not Today, Not Ever”

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Court Says Obama Admin Can Force Pro-Life Group to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

The pro-life group Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that…Continue Reading

Where Are Our Young People Going?

During the 10:30 Mass in my parish a couple of Sundays ago 32 boys and girls stood in front of the altar, faced the congregation, and formally affirmed their desire to be confirmed. It was part of the preparation for…Continue Reading

US Bishops Elect New Secretary, Discuss Health Care Ethics Guide

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2014 / 08:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Tuesday on several committee leadership positions, also considering several liturgical proposals and moving forward with a New York canonization cause. At their fall…Continue Reading

Fidelity to Bishop of Rome crucial to evangelization, US bishops say

Baltimore, Md., Nov 10, 2014 / 12:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to Pope Francis on Monday, the U.S. bishops vowed fidelity to the Holy See and voiced hope that Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting of Families…Continue Reading

Nation’s Catholic bishops gather in Baltimore Monday

Nearly 300 bishops from across the nation will determine the coming year’s agenda for the American Roman Catholic church when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops begins its annual fall meeting Monday in Baltimore. The bishops will spend four days…Continue Reading

Pope names new ‘foreign minister,’ prefect of Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Burke given new position

The Holy See Press Office announced on November 8 that Pope Francis has named Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, as the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Mamberti replaces Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has served…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope at Santa Marta: Everything For The Lord And Others

pope669

(Vatican Radio) When the Church is humble and poor, then “it is faithful” to Christ, giving all it has for the Lord and others, leaving nothing for itself said Pope Francis at morning Mass in  Casa Santa Marta Monday. Pope Francis based his reflections on the Gospel of the Day which recounts the episode of the poor widow who gives…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Homily For Christ The King Canonization Mass

pope670

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at the Mass celebrated in St Peter’s Square on Christ the King Sunday, during the course of which he canonized six new saints: Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal, Amato Ronconi, Giovanni Antonio Farina, Nicola da Longobardi, and Ludovico da Casoria. Below, please find the full text of the official English translation of the…Continue Reading

Pope: All Christians Called To Be Missionaries, ‘Not Just The Few’

pope668

(Vatican Radio) All Christians and “not just the few” are called to intensify their missionary spirit and go out to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, said Pope Francis.He issued the call on Saturday in speaking at the Vatican to a group of more than 700 participants in Italy’s National Missionary Congress, which was organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Pays Tribute To Blessed Paul VI’s Devotion To Mary

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis paid tribute on Thursday to Blessed Pope Paul the 6th and his great love for the Mother of God, saying he always turned to Mary at crucial and difficult moments for the Church and humanity. The Pope’s words came during a message which was read on his behalf by the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin…Continue Reading

Changing Their Tune

By PHILLIP DEAN (Editor’s Note: Music has always been especially important to Phillip Dean. Gifted as a singer and musician, the high school sophomore leads a Wednesday night youth band at his Rock Hill, S.C., church. And, though he completes his academic coursework online from home, he played for the last four years in the…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The Birth Control Pill: Unintended Consequences”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For a CD containing hundreds of patient information pamphlets showing that the most common methods of birth control are abortifacient in their actions, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have seen…Continue Reading

The Synod And The New Evangelization

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Detailed Studies Of Galileo

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Finocchiaro, Maurice. The Trial of Galileo: Essential Documents, translated and edited by Maurice A. Finocchiaro. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co., 2014. Pp. xii+160. This book draws upon Finocchiaro’s previously published works, The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History (1989) and Retrying Galileo: 1633-1992 (2005), at once making those masterful works more readily accessible,…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . The Apparitions At L’Ile Bouchard

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 1 This is first of two articles about the Marian apparitions at L’Ile Bouchard, in northwestern France, near Tours, which took place from December 8-14, 1947. The situation in postwar France was very serious, and there was a real threat from Communism, and even of civil war, but, unknown to…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Some Bishops Are Beginning To Find Their Voice

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK In recent weeks the Pope hosted the “Humanum” conference in Rome. In his remarks of welcome he clearly reiterated his commitment to the right of children to have both a mother and a father while stating that marriages and families cannot be redefined by or subject to manipulation by ideologies. (See p. 4B of this…Continue Reading

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 The visit I received from two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs, for short) gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that repetitive prayer — especially the rosary — is entirely in line with Sacred Scripture. When they walked into my living room and did not miss the sight of my rosary on the mantelpiece, I knew…Continue Reading

Reading And Interpreting Scripture

By DON FIER We ended last week’s installment by launching into a discussion on a question of critical importance: “How is Sacred Scripture to be read and interpreted?” The significance and the relevance of this question become apparent if one examines findings outlined in the 2012 “Status of Global Mission” report, a publication of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. We recently celebrated the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Why does the Church celebrate a church building in Rome? — P.R., Massachusetts. A. Because the Basilica of St. John Lateran is the oldest church in Christendom and is the church of the Pope, not St. Peter’s Basilica. The Lateran Basilica was built in the fourth century…Continue Reading

Be Watchful And Alert

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Advent (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7 1 Cor. 1:3-9 Mark 13:33-17 In the first reading today we hear of the conflict that has tormented humanity from the very beginning. The problem is that we blame God for everything. Isaiah cries out to God in a lament, “Why do you let us…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes… St. Cecilia

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church has thousands of saints. For the last two millennia, people of great holiness, exemplifying heroic virtue, have been honored as saints, members of the Church Triumphant in Heaven giving honor and glory to God. Some have been formally declared saints by the Church, while others have been so honored from the beginnings of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

By CAROLE BRESLIN Since the United States is a relatively new country compared to the rest of the world, we do not have as many canonized saints as do France, Italy, or Spain. Elizabeth Ann Seton (died 1821) was the first person born in the United States to be canonized, although she lived many years after Kateri Tekakwitha (died 1680)…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading