Five Old-Fashioned Values We Rightly Reject

After a steady diet of period films, literature, and historical nonfiction, I’ve realized that in some ways, our culture has changed dramatically in the last 250 years or so. If you or I were transported to say, 1820, and we mingled with Americans then, we would struggle to fit in. We often grouse about the loss of shared values over time, and it is true that some of the beliefs that strengthened family units and held our culture together have been eroded. However, a few of those entrenched traditional attitudes were harmful and encumbered our progress. Some of them were held in opposition to the self-evident truths proclaimed in our founding documents, or worked against the family unit–and I say good riddance. Here are some examples:

Marrying Advantageously: One is probably wise to consider a prospective mate’s financial situation (especially to the degree that they reflect work ethic). However, novelists such as Jane Austen–who were contemporaneous to rank-and riches-conscious cultures–detail for us a milieu of shameless social climbing and gold-digging. Behaviors that would today be considered tacky seemed to be somewhat acceptable then, even expected: discussing openly how many pounds a year one was given as an allowance, or whether there was an inheritance to be had. One’s spouse needed to be of the right social class, and (as one biographer argued was true of George Washington’s marriage) even calculated to move one up the social ladder. We might argue that today’s criteria for marriage–a sense of romantic connection, for example–are even flimsier than they were in the past. Even so, we ordinarily do recognize today that character, kindness, and work ethic come into play in choosing of a good spouse and likelihood of a productive future together.... [Read More]

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I have seen too much to ever leave the Catholic Church

This morning I was reading over at the other place, as I do from time to time. I read Brian Watt’s post, The Church’s Ongoing Gay Orgy, and the first page of the comments. The first comment was Bryan’s, and he proposed a solution to the gay-clergy crisis:

The laity should abandon the church. Stop giving money. Leave it. Only that will force it to change. It was so 500 years ago.... [Read More]

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Plug for my book

I read Scott Wilmot’s essay today over at R. He wrote about an incident at a Catholic college, where one of the students was harassed and intimidated “‘for affirming on a bulletin board the truth and beauty of marriage according to nature, the Church, and Jesus Christ.'” It is outrageous and deeply troubling that such a thing would happen at a Catholic school. It is not the first time this sort of thing has happened at a Catholic school, I fully realize. But I am always shocked when it does.

During the marriage wars that raged online before Obergefell, the most popular argument my side put forward is known as the complementarity argument. I won’t go into its details since readers here probably already know what it is. I think it is a fine argument, but it has a weakness. It requires those on the opposing side to accept a presupposition that they have already rejected. They have already rejected the idea that sex differences matter (of course, they are not consistent in that rejection, but that is basically what they say they believe). So to rely on an argument that requires them to accept sex differences as a legitimate phenomenon may have been asking too much.... [Read More]

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Today’s Kipling – The Mare’s Nest

(Sometimes the course of true love fails to run smoothly. . .)

The Mare’s Nest

Rudyard Kipling

Jane Austen Beecher Stowe de Rouse
Was good beyond all earthly need;
But, on the other hand, her spouse
Was very, very bad indeed.
He smoked cigars, called churches slow,
And raced — but this she did not know.... [Read More]

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