If you think American students’ language deficiency is a new problem, think again. It was first identified before World War I when Americans who traveled in Europe noticed how well Europeans, particularly the French, spoke and wrote their native languages. At that time even uneducated pushcart peddlers displayed a linguistic facility surpassing that of the average American college graduate. On hearing such reports from travelers, one inquisitive educator, Rollo Walter Brown, wondered what caused this shortcoming in American youth and decided to investigate.… Read More
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Atheism is reportedly on the rise in America. Exact numbers are hard to determine, partly because many atheists prefer to keep their disbelief to themselves. Given the suspicion and resentment shown by some religious people, that choice is not unreasonable.
Atheism has the misfortune of being defined negatively, by what it doesn’t believe. But atheists state their position positively. The organization “American Atheists,” for example, defines atheism as loving self and fellow man “instead of a god,” as striving for “heaven” on earth rather than in an afterlife, as relying on “inner conviction and strength” rather than prayer to meet life’s challenges, and as finding fulfillment in knowledge of self and others.… Read More
As I write, The Hunger Games continues as the top box office hit. The film depicts a future North America divided into districts, each of which must send a boy and a girl to compete in an annual, nationally televised kill-or-be-killed competition. The event, we are told, is a continuing punishment for a previous rebellion against the dominant Capitol district, and the drama arises from the combatants’ struggle for survival.… Read More
After reading my essay, American Catholics and Social Justice, which recently appeared in this journal, a priest friend said he found it “very interesting and informative” but added that “papal teaching never stands still and while Rerum Novarum is indeed a significant and historic document, Catholic Social Teaching is also a product of its time.”
I was pleased that he took the time to read the essay and to share his reaction with me, but troubled with the implications of his thinking.… Read More