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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book WALTER ONG'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO CULTURAL STUDIES: THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE WORD AND I-THOU COMMUNICATION (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2000; 2nd ed. 2009, forthcoming). The first edition won the 2001 Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology conferred by the Media Ecology Association. For further information about his education and his publications, see his UMD homepage: Click here to visit Dr. Farrell's homepage. On September 10 and 22, 2009, he discussed Walter Ong's work on the blog radio talk show "Ethics Talk" that is hosted by Hope May in philosophy at Central Michigan University. Each hour-long show has been archived and is available for people who missed the live broadcast to listen to. Here are the website addresses for the two archived shows:
(5 comments) SHARE Monday, February 18, 2013 Was the Indian Jesuit Anthony de Mello Murdered in the U.S. 25 Years Ago? (BOOK REVIEW)
Was the Indian Jesuit spiritual writer and speaker Anthony de Mello (1931-1987) murdered in the Jesuit residence at Fordham University in the Bronx 25 years ago? Bill deMello's biography of his older brother Tony describes in detail the suspicious circumstances of Tony's death. Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was another Catholic spiritual author whose suspicious death in Bangkok, Thailand, has also raised questions.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 14, 2010 Who Was Walter Ong, and Why Is His Thought Important Today?
I want to sing the Song of Walter Jackson Ong, S.J. (1912-2003). His thought is important for people today to understand, so that we can get our bearings about Western culture in the world today. Had Samuel Huntington understood Ong's thought about Western cultural development, he could have used Ong's thought to deepen and strengthen his clash-of-civilizations thesis. The clash of cultures is inevitable, but violence is not.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, July 27, 2011 More Americans Should Live Heroic Lives of Virtue (Review Essay)
For our American experiment in representative democracy to work optimally, we American citizens must strive to live heroic lives of virtue. Virtue is its own reward. For this reason, the pursuit of happiness is best understood as the pursuit of virtue. But how do we learn to live heroic lives in pursuit of virtue? First, we have to stop being anti-heroes. Next, we need to consider what the pursuit of virtue will require of us.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, May 4, 2010 Martha Nussbaum on Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Book Review)
President Obama endorses career education. As a result philosopher Martha Nussbaum rises to defend the humanities in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education by explaining why democracy needs the humanities. But Obama's career education doesn't need the humanities. So we should have a national debate about Nussbaum's claims and Obama's endorsement of career education.
(10 comments) SHARE Friday, March 16, 2012 Hillary Clinton Urges Us to Stand Up to Extremists in the U.S.
Hillary Clinton wants us to stand up to extremists in the U.S. The Catholic bishops in the U.S. are extremists -- religious zealots. But standing up to their religious zealotry will require both courage and skill in pro-and-con debate to counter their claims regarding contraception and religious freedom. In the presidential election of 2012, the extremists will work against President Obama's re-election. The stakes are high.
(9 comments) SHARE Saturday, June 25, 2011 Matthew Fox's Critique of the Roman Catholic Church
In his new book Matthew Fox develops a thorough critique of the Roman Catholic Church under recent the Polish pope and the current German pope because they have silenced and/or expelled so many valuable voices within the church. Fox highlights a few cases, including his own. But he moves toward a strong positive view of a possible future church.
(7 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 17, 2013 James Carroll Profiles Pope Francis in the NEW YORKER
In his lengthy profile in the NEW YORKER, James Carroll, a liberal Catholic, concludes that Pope Francis is not a liberal. Whew! We should all thank Carroll for investigating this. Now that he has explained this, will the media coverage of the pope decrease? Or will the remarkable amount of media coverage of the pope continue? Carroll succeeds in lowering our expectations of Pope Francis.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 3, 2011 Was William Faulkner a Conservative Writer? No, Not Quite! (BOOK REVIEW)
The new Gallup poll shows that Mississippi today has more self-described conservatives than any other state in the U.S. William Faulkner was born and raised in Mississippi and wrote about his home state in a fictional form. He is at times described on the Internet as a conservative writer. But a new book shows how and why he was not a conservative.
(10 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 9, 2013 President Kennedy's assassination was a coup d'etat (BOOK REVIEW)
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was a coup d'etat orchestrated by then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. But LBJ covered up the conspiracy. He and his co-conspirators set up Lee Harvey Oswald as the patsy to take the blame. Then they had Jack Ruby kill Oswald. Roger Stone and Mike Colapietro describe and explain the conspiracy in their book THE MAN WHO KILLED KENNEDY: THE CASE AGAINST LBJ.
(10 comments) SHARE Tuesday, October 4, 2011 Understanding the Hebrew Bible with the Help of Harold Bloom and Walter Ong
Yale's Harold Bloom is a Jew who no longer puts his trust in the monotheistic deity or in the covenant. Nevertheless, he has made some provocative observations about the Hebrew Bible. By drawing on the work of the American Jesuit cultural historian and cultural theorist Walter Ong, I hope to show how Bloom and Ong can help us deepen our understanding of the Hebrew Bible.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, January 14, 2011 Who Was Marshall McLuhan, and Why Is He Important Today?
In addition to popularizing the expression the "global village" Marshall McLuhan has at least five books to his credit that still repay careful reading today. To be sure, he came up with his fair share of observations that should be rejected. But after we sort out the wheat from the chaff, he has offered us a lot of food for thought.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, December 30, 2013 In Defense of Manly Virtue: Camille Paglia vs. Walter Ong and David Bakan
Recently Camille Paglia, the multi-directional cultural commentator, has gotten good press in Time Magazine" and the "Wall Street Journal" for publicly defending male virtue against the anti-male male views of certain other feminists. Yes, she is a self-described feminist. I happen to agree with her basic view of male virtue. But the views of Walter Ong and David Bakan can deepen our understanding of male virtue.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 4, 2012 Jiddu Krishnamurti and Anthony de Mello, S.J.: Two Spiritual Guides from India to Enlighten Us
What the world needs now is for billions of people to have mystic experiences, which will help them overcome violent attitudes about themselves and others, however gradually. Jiddu Krishnamurti and Anthony de Mello, S.J., are guides from India who can enlighten us about mystic experience. But their thought is not for spiritual flounderers, or at least putting their thought into practice is not for spiritual flounderers.
(6 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 24, 2012 The Two Americas Should Be Discussed Further
Charles M. Blow correctly identifies two Americas: one America consists of the voters who voted to re-elect President Obama, and the other America consists of the voters who did not vote to re-elect him. As Blow himself suggests, we should discuss this divide in light of our ideal of being a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are equal before the law of the land.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 3, 2010 Not For Profit, Eh? Hold on There, Martha Nussbaum!
Martha Nussbaum's forthcoming new book NOT FOR PROFIT: WHY DEMOCRACY NEEDS THE HUMANITIES has a terrible title. According to her title, I studied philosophy and English not for profit, even though I thought I was profiting from them. I hope that readers disregard the title of her book but profit from reading it.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 16, 2014 Edward O. Wilson Inveighs Against Organized Religion (BOOK REVIEW)
In his new book THE MEANING OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University sets forth his view of evolution and the meaning of human existence. He is a secular humanist who holds a materialistic philosophical position. He repeatedly inveighs against organized religion. It is instructive to remember that after the American Revolutionary War, Tom Paine inveighed against organized religion. But it's still here today
(13 comments) SHARE Wednesday, January 28, 2015 Why Doesn't Pope Francis Support Freedom of Speech?
In his remarks about the tragic massacre of certain journalists in Paris recently, Pope Francis did not support freedom of speech. Patrick Callahan, professor emeritus of political science at DePaul University, a Catholic university, has examined the official social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church approved by the bishops. They have not approved teaching that freedom of speech and association are civil rights. Why not?
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, July 2, 2014 Roman Catholic Moral Reasoning in the Supreme Court Ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
The Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that the religious rights of employers of closely-held corporations trump their employees' rights to contraception insurance coverage under the mandate of Obamacare. The five Justices who made up the majority are male Roman Catholics. Moreover, Justice Samuel Alito's opinion clearly shows that they used Roman Catholic moral reasoning in writing their legal opinion in this case.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 17, 2011 James Carroll's Call to Arms (BOOK REVIEW)
BOSTON GLOBE columnist James Carroll, a self-described practicing Catholic, has issued a call to arms to liberals and the Democratic party. He wants us to have a public discussion and debate about what good religion might be and what bad religion is and has been. To advance the discussion of bad religion, he has published another fine book setting forth his critical views of religion in Western cultural history.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, January 12, 2010 David Brooks, James Cameron's "Avatar," and the Evil American Empire Abroad
The New York "Times" columnist David Brooks finds James Cameron's movie about a white messiah figure offensive. In the movie "Avatar" a turncoat Marine leads the highly romanticized natives against the evil empire of the whites. But we should not allow ourselves to be distracted by Brooks' quibbles about political correctness. The American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are going to have to be stopped by Americans.
(8 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 23, 2010 Bishop Olmsted Is Wrong in the Abortion Controversy in Phoenix
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix is back in the news about an abortion performed in a Catholic hospital in Phoenix in November 2009. At that time, he second-guessed the medical and moral professionals involved in making the decision, and excommunicated the Catholics among them. Now he is making ridiculous demands on the hospital itself. But his basic moral reasoning about that abortion is wrong.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, May 10, 2010 The Time Has Come to Resurrect Karen Horney's Way of Thinking About Neurotics
We should resurrect Karen Horney's way of thinking about neurotics. For both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are neurotics. As a result, we in the United States today are ruled by neurotics. Horney's discussion of eight neurotic solutions to our inner conflicts allows us to see which three characterize the neurotic Republicans in Congress and which five characterize the neurotic Democrats in Congress.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 20, 2016 Eric McLuhan Reminds Us of Connection Consciousness in Roman Catholicism (REVIEW ESSAY)
We in Western culture today tend to think of connection consciousness among indigenous peoples, including American Indians. But Eric McLuhan, son of Marshall and Corinne McLuhan, in effect reminds us of connection consciousness in Roman Catholic tradition in his 2015 book. But it is a wee bit under-researched. Connection consciousness in Roman Catholic tradition is far more extensive than what he suggests, as I will indicate.
(7 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 19, 2011 Justin Frank, M.D., Puts President Obama on the Couch (BOOK REVIEW)
How many OpEdNews readers are not disappointed in President Obama? For all the liberals who are disappointed in him, Justin Frank, M.D., himself a liberal who is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, has written a thought-provoking psychoanalysis of President Obama by using information in the public domain about him. Dr. Frank works with Melanie Klein's approach to analyzing aggression.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, July 3, 2015 Dionysian Mysticism and Deification (REVIEW ESSAY)
Two new books published by the Catholic University of America Press can help us deepen our understanding of C. G. Jung's thought about Dionysian mysticism and deification. Dr. Jung himself had profound mystical experiences in 1944 involving Dionysian mysticism and deification. But the most important aspect of Jung's work involves the cultivation of the unio mentalis and virtue -- not the rare experience of the unio mystica.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 16, 2012 The Good News About Human Psychology According to Anthony de Mello, S.J.
Anthony de Mello's good news about human psychology is important for more people today to know about. Certain Catholics around the world have read his books and listened to audiotapes of his workshops. He explains how meditation can help us transcend our ego-consciousness and thereby change, however gradually. Because humankind will not change by changing structures external to us, we need to change ourselves.
SHARE Tuesday, March 4, 2014 At last, a man in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado-Boulder speaks out
At last, a man in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Michael Tooley, speaks out about the administration's bullying by posting relevant documents. On Jan. 31, 2014, the administration made public (online) a sensationalistic report about the philosophy department written by three women from the American Philosophical Association. The report then received widespread media attention.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 22, 2012 Jonathan Haidt on the Righteous Mind, and the Catholic Anti-Abortion Crusade (REVIEW ESSAY)
In his new book THE RIGHTEOUS MIND, Jonathan Haidt does not explicitly discuss the Catholic anti-abortion crusade. Nevertheless, he makes sweeping generalizations that would dismiss the centuries-old Catholic tradition of "natural law" moral theory upon which the Catholic anti-abortion crusade depends. But will his sweeping generalizations persuade Catholic anti-abortion zealots to give up their moral theory? Probably not.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 28, 2010 The Catholic Bishops Want No Debate About Sexual Morality
In 2008 two Catholic moral theologians published a book in which they carefully criticized traditional but not infallible Catholic teachings regarding sexual morality. But now the Catholic bishops have published a dismissive commentary on their book. Because of the prominence of Catholic moral teachings in public debate in this country, many Americans should read what the bishops have said and the book they dismiss.
(7 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 25, 2013 Pope Francis on Jesuit Spirituality: The Power of the Christ Myth
The Christ myth may not be everybody's cup of tea. But it has worked well for many Christians mystics over the centuries, including St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Roman Catholic religious order the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit order). As a young man in Argentina, Pope Francis joined the Jesuits. In his recent published interview, he discussed Jesuit spirituality at length. Evidently, the Christ myth works for him.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, November 26, 2010 When Will Winner-Take-All Politics End? (BOOK REVIEW)
Jacob S. Hacker of Yale and Paul Pierson of Berkeley have ably delineated the rise of winner-take-all politics. Radical conservatives are the bad guys who brought on this ignoble development. But the Democrats do not emerge as the good guys wearing white hats because they contributed to this ignoble development, although not as much as the radical conservatives did.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Donna Hicks on Dignity and Conflict Resolution (BOOK REVIEW)
By coincidence, Donna Hicks' new book about dignity and conflict resolution came out just as the debt-ceiling debate came to an end. President Obama excels at manifesting dignity for people. And he fancies himself to be talented at resolving conflicts. But his talent got him nowhere with the Tea Party Republicans in the debt-ceiling debate. Hicks' book can help us better understand both Obama and the Tea Party Republicans.
(8 comments) SHARE Friday, November 25, 2016 What's Wrong with Paul Krugman's Analysis of Trump's Decisive Electoral Victory?
The liberal economist Paul Krugman supported former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential candidate. As a result, perhaps Krugman was blindsided when the Republican Party's 2016 candidate, Donald J. Trump emerged with a decisive electoral victory. Krugman's analysis of Trump's victory is not cogent or compelling.
SHARE Monday, November 25, 2019 Harold Bloom on the American Religion of Self-Reliance (REVIEW ESSAY)
The late literary critic Harold Bloom claims that the American religion of self-reliance is "a superb literary religion." By "literary," he means primarily works of imaginative literature, but also artful verbal statements, including the artful written and oral statements of Pope Francis. The pope urges people to engage in encounter and dialogue, in which they also could practice the American religion of self-reliance.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 23, 2014 The Theocons Are Coming! The Theocons Are Coming!
Joseph Bottum, the past editor of a paleo-conservative Roman Catholic magazine of opinion, has published a new book to rally his fellow Catholic theocons in time for the 2014 mid-term elections. He refers to himself and his fellow theocons as the Swallows of Capistrano. He sees them pitted against the Poster Children of the Protestant Perplex. But like other conservatives, he is up to no good.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 5, 2015 Is Pope Francis Ready to Fight the Dragon -- the American Catholic Right?
It has been announced that Pope Francis plans to issue an official papal encyclical about climate change. But the unprecedented new encyclical has not yet been formally promulgated and issued. However, the American Catholic right has already started decrying his anticipated encyclical. But is Pope Francis ready to fight the dragon -- the American Catholic right? Let's size up Pope Francis.
SHARE Tuesday, December 31, 2019 Looking Back and Looking Ahead
When I look back on my OEN articles in 2019, I note that I frequently wrote about Pope Francis and about President Donald J. Trump -- usually in separate articles, but once I wrote about each man's charisma style in the same article. When I look back over the decade of the 2010s, during which I wrote most of my 400 OEN articles, the election of Pope Francis in 2013 and the election of President Trump in 2016 stand out.
SHARE Saturday, December 30, 2017 Celebrating Walter J. Ong's Thought (REVIEW ESSAY)
The occasion of the posthumous publication of Walter J. Ong's sixth book-length study warrants a retrospective survey of his previous book-length studies and of major themes in his thought. His posthumously published short book could be titled "Ong for Dummies: A Primer." That's not it actual title, but it is indeed truly a primer in Ong's thought. In the present review essay I will explain why his thought is important.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, July 27, 2018 According to John Courtney Murray, Vatican II Embraced a Bottom-Up Conception of Society
OEN readers know that Rob Kall loves top-down/bottom-up imagery. I recently read a 1966 essay by the American Jesuit theologian and public intellectual John Courtney Murray in which he uses top-down/bottom-up imagery to explain the significance of Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Freedom. When I told Rob Kall about Murray's use of this imagery, he asked how would such a bottom-up approach work? So I decided to reply.
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, July 7, 2013 What's Wrong with Pope Francis's Encyclical Letter?
On July 5th, Pope Francis issued his first encyclical letter: "Lumen Fidei" (Light of Faith). It is about the Roman Catholic faith, and it is addressed to Roman Catholics, not to non-Catholic. But non-Catholic Americans should be alerted to a certain passage about supposed certainty. This claim to supposed certainty can inspire the Roman Catholic bishops in the U.S. to be even more combative about the church's moral teachings.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 4, 2012 Is Mitt Romney a Wimp, as NEWSWEEK Claims He Is?
The latest NEWSWEEK cover story calls Mitt Romney a wimp. Is this just sensationalistic partisan editorializing masquerading as bipartisan commentary and critique? Or is the way to win the presidential election to sound manly and courageous -- as though you will be Superman if elected? But didn't we elect Superman in 2008? Shouldn't the Republican presidential candidate in 2012 try another shtick?
(3 comments) SHARE Tuesday, January 18, 2011 Reflections on Grace Elizabeth Hale's A NATION OF OUTSIDERS (Book Review)
Grace Elizabeth Hale's A NATION OF OUTSIDERS can help us understand how white middle-class Americans in postwar America fell in love with imagining themselves to be outsiders. But the poor have endured as the genuine outsiders. The time has come for the Democratic party to work for the poor and to combat the outsider posturing of William F. Buckley, Jr., and radical conservatives in movement conservatism and the Tea Party.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, July 13, 2014 Are the Five Male Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court Theocons?
Wiriting the New York Times, Samuel G. Freedman, a Jewish journalism professor at Columbia University, calls attention to two Supreme Court 5-4 decisions involving supposed religious liberties: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Greece v. Galloway. In both cases, the five Justices in the majority were the five male Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court. These two cases raise the disturbing possibility that they are theocons.
(9 comments) SHARE Sunday, July 20, 2014 Are the Roman Catholic Bishops Immoral?
The the majority in the recent Hobby Lobby ruling involved the five male Roman Catholic Justices. The ruling once again calls attention to the disordered moral views of the Roman Catholic bishops about masturbation, artificial contraception and legalized abortion in the first trimester -- views that are the opposite of intelligent, reasonable and responsible -- so they are immoral, as are the bishops who advance these views.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 16, 2012 The Vatican vs. the LCWR = Theory (Doctrine) vs. Practice (Spirituality)
The Vatican's nutty critique of the LCWR is best understood as a conflict between theory (Catholic doctrine) and practice (spirituality). Now, Anthony de Mello, S.J. (1931-1987) from India deeply influenced spirituality in Catholic circles, including of course many women in the Catholic religious orders in the United States represented by the LCWR. But what about the spirituality of the Catholic bishops?
(4 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 12, 2011 Three Cheers for American Exceptionalism!
President Obama and the different Republican presidential hopefuls have expressed their views regarding American exceptionalism. Even though I am not running for president, I have decided to set forth my view of American exceptionalism based on the work of the American cultural historian Walter J. Ong, S.J (1912-2003). I do this to challenge President Obama and the Republican presidential hopefuls to match or top my view.
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, December 13, 2010 Reflections on Ian Morris' Book About the West and China
Ian Morris' book WHY THE WEST RULES -- FOR NOW is designed to alert the West about China. Walter J. Ong's account of the cultural history of the West can help strengthen Ian Morris' wake-up call about China. Perhaps Rob Kall should interview Ian Morris about China.
SHARE Saturday, November 4, 2017 You Are Suffering from Complex PTSD (REVIEW ESSAY)
Recently I discovered Pete Walker's 370-page 2013 self-help book titled Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. I found it massively informative, and I suspect that many OEN readers would also find it informative, especially those who are interested in thriving. You see, as Pete Walker delineates complex PTSD, virtually everybody is suffering from it to one degree or another. So all of us need to undertake recovery work.
SHARE Friday, July 29, 2016 Lesley M. M. Blume on Hemingway's Hypermasculinity (REVIEW ESSAY)
Through his personal and public life, Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) exemplified the spirit of hypermasculinity, which he also celebrated in his breakthrough novel THE SUN ALSO RISES (1926). When Donald J. Trump today says that he wants to make America great again, he means that he wants to bring back the spirit of hypermasculinity that Hemingway helped popularize. As a result, Lesley M. M. Blume's book on Hemingway is timely.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 30, 2013 JFK Violated the CIA's Civic Religion (BOOK REVIEW)
In the 1950s, John Foster Dulles served as the Secretary of State under President Eisenhower, and his brother Allen served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In his new biography of them, Stephen Kinzer details how they directed the CIA's destabilization efforts in Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Congo, and Cuba in accord with their American civic religion, which President John F. Kennedy violated.
(32 comments) SHARE Monday, May 19, 2014 Pope Francis Is NOT a Zarathustra-Type Person
Rob Kall says we need to watch out for psychopaths in American culture today. No doubt we should. But to countervail against their influence, we Americans today need to have more Zarathustra-type persons emerge who are deeply motivated by love of their fellow human persons, as Martin Luther King, Jr., was. But even though Pope Francis may be motivated by love, he is not a Zarathustra-type person.
(4 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 26, 2013 Phil Robertson and the Catholic Bishops on Homosexuality: St. Paul vs. Civil Law
Phil Robertson, the self-described Bible-thumper who is the 67-year-old patriarch on the popular television show "Duck Dynasty," has rather crudely expressed views regarding homosexuality -- in a profile published in GQ. However, despite the crudity of his statements, it is important to examine his discussion of St. Paul's views in 1Corinthians 6:9-11. St. Paul is discussing inheriting the kingdom of God -- not the civil law.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 16, 2013 BOOK REVIEW: Why Garry Wills Does Not Understand Catholic Priests
Pope Benedict XVI has just made the news by renouncing the papal office. Good riddance, I say. By coincidence, the practicing Catholic polemicist Garry Wills has just a new polemic titled WHY PRIESTS? A FAILED TRADITION. Now, the historical Jesus is arguably best understood as a shaman, and Catholic priests are arguably also best understood as shamans. But polemicists such as Wills and Benedict are primarily cultural warriors.
SHARE Thursday, March 11, 2010 The Clash of Cultures Is Inevitable, but Violence May Not Be
With economic globalization, modern Western capitalism and the culture of capitalism are making inroads in pre-modern parts of the world today. In addition, U.S. foreign policy is promoting modern Western democracy and the culture of democracy in pre-modern parts of the world today. As a result, the clash of cultures is inevitable, but violence may not be.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 13, 2011 No Remorse from the Enabler Catholic Bishops
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, published a strong critique of the media in a full-page ad in the NEW YORK TIMES on April 11th. He critiques the media coverage of the priest sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. He attributes alleged distorted media coverage to liberal ideology. But he is silent about the lack of remorse expressed by enabler bishops who transferred abusive priests.
SHARE Thursday, September 24, 2020 Geoffrey B. Williams' Portrait of the Artist T. S. Eliot (REVIEW ESSAY)
Geoffrey B. Williams' book The Reason in a Storm: A Study of Ambiguity in the Writings of T. S. Eliot (1991) offers a portrait of the artist based on his life and work. Williams describes the pivot in Eliot's life from the atheistic earlier poetry up to 1925, to the theistic later poetry. The pivotal event in Eliot's life was his conversion to orthodox trinitarian Christianity in 1927.
(23 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 18, 2012 Understanding and Debating the Theocratic Views of the U.S. Catholic Bishops
The theocratic views that the U.S. Catholic bishops have advanced in the public arena should be understood in the larger framework of our Western cultural conditioning that Walter J. Ong, S.J., worked out. Armed with his perceptive insights, we should then debate the Catholic bishops regarding Catholic moral theory, because the bishops themselves have entered the public arena of debate.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, October 14, 2011 Alan Wolfe on Political Evil (BOOK REVIEW)
Alan Wolfe has written a serious and sobering book about political evil, including totalitarianism, terrorism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the politics of countering political evil, or counter-evil. With the 2012 elections coming up next year, Wolfe's book can help us understand why it is important to elect Democratic candidates to Congress and re-elect President Obama.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 27, 2018 Peterson's Account of Evolutionary Psychology Is Brilliant (REVIEW ESSAY)
The University of Toronto psychology professor and practicing psychotherapist Jordan B. Peterson has published an accessible new book titled 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Toronto: Random House Canada, 2018). His account of evolutionary psychology in it is brilliant.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, February 18, 2018 Pope Francis and Economic Inequality (REVIEW ESSAY)
No doubt Pope Francis from Argentina has heard the cry of the poor. He has no serious rival on the world stage when it comes to criticizing economic inequality. In the new book Pope Francis and the Theology of the People, translated by Phillip Berryman (Orbis Books, 2017), the lay theologian Rafael Luciani of Caracas, Venezuela, contextualizes Pope Francis' thought in the Argentine strand of Latin American liberation theology.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 30, 2011 In Defense of President Obama's Education (Against the Silliness of Donald Trump and Andrew Breitbart)
Donald Trump has pivoted from the birther silliness to new silliness about President Obama's education at Columbia University and Harvard Law School. And the young bomb-throwing conservative Andrew Breitbart has joined Trump's silliness. However, unbeknownst to Trump and Breitbart, James T. Kloppenberg of Harvard University investigated Obama's education and has written about his education in his book READING OBAMA (2010).
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 7, 2014 Cardinal Mueller and Pope Francis Are Hopeless Misogynists
Cardinal Gerhard Mueller and Pope Francis and the other Roman Catholic bishops are misogynists, as are many conservative white men in the United States today. Misogynists have not yet worked an optimal relationship with the feminine spirit in their psyches -- the anima archetype in their psyches. The thought of C. G. Jung, M.D., and M. Esther Harding, M.D., can help us understand the inner work involved in this process.
SHARE Saturday, August 26, 2017 A Jungian Profile of Trump
Op-ed commentators have offered numerous psychological commentaries about Donald J. Trump. Is there room for one more such commentary? I hope there is because I want to draw on the thought of the late Robert Moore of the Chicago Theological Seminary to offer a psychological profile of Trump.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, July 18, 2011 Robert Moore's Theory About the Structure of the Psyche (Review Essay)
Robert Moore has fleshed out an elaborate Jungian theory of the optimal self system that persons can have. His theory has great merit, even though he has not yet figured out how to operationalize it. Oddly enough, cultivating the four cardinal virtues and avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins can help us learn how to operationalize Moore's theory. I call this approach moral virtue in the service of psychological development.
(15 comments) SHARE Sunday, April 11, 2010 Let Us Never Forget the Confederacy and Slavery!
Governor Robert McDonnell of Virginia has proclaimed April as Confederacy History Month. Indeed, all Americans should remember the Confederacy and the sophistical arguments advanced to defend slavery.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 15, 2015 A Reply to Pope Francis' Latest Critique of Gender Theory
There he goes again! Pope Francis once again criticized gender theory, which he says is the problem. Moreover, he has already announced that he plans to speak on this topic in another public address soon. So the time has come for progressives and liberals of good will to reply to his critique of gender theory.
SHARE Friday, February 14, 2020 Pope Francis' New Apostolic Exhortation Is Visionary (REVIEW ESSAY)
On February 12, 2020, Pope Francis issued his new apostolic exhortation about the Amazon region. Addressed to all persons of good will, it is visionary and, at times, poetic. I will highlight certain passages and suggest relevant connections with the thought of the American Jesuit polymath Walter J. Ong (1912-2003; Ph.D. in English, Harvard University, 1955) -- and certain other authors.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 1, 2015 Cardinal Kasper explains where Pope Francis is coming from (REVIEW ESSAY)
In the book THE THEOCONS: SECULAR AMERICA UNDER SIEGE (2006), Damon Linker has alerted progressives and liberals to watch out for certain American Catholic conservatives. But those American Catholic theocons are going to be challenged by Pope Francis' thought, as Cardinal Walter Kasper explains the pope's thought in his new book POPE FRANCIS' REVOLUTION OF TENDERNESS AND LOVE: THEOLOGICAL AND PASTORAL PERSPECTIVES (2015).
(21 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 21, 2014 Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic Bishops STINK -- as Did Lazarus in the Tomb!
Like that terrible Polish pope, Pope Francis has become a media celebrity. Why, one graffiti artist even portrayed him as Superman, the superhero of the comic books. But Americans of a certain age can remember that Senator Barack Obama sounded like he was going to be Superman in 2008. But President Obama has turned out to be Clark Kent instead. Pope Francis is going to be another Clark Kent.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, December 27, 2010 When God's Kingdom Comes (BOOK REVIEW)
In his new book John Dominic Crossan analyzes and discusses Christianity's Lord's Prayer (aka the Our Father and the Abba Prayer). The prayer includes wording about God's will being done on earth as in heaven. When God's will is done on earth, then God's kingdom comes on earth. When God's kingdom comes on earth, then the people experience the end of the world as we know it. They experience heaven of earth or earth in heaven.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Ong + Jung = New Insights about Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic bishops in the U.S. are notorious. They are anti-abortion zealots (they are even against legalized abortion in the first trimester), anti-gay-marriage zealots, and anti-contraception-mandate zealots (for Catholic institutions that they claim are part of their church). But their zealotry is based on their disordered Tradition of thought. So why don't they change their way of thinking?
SHARE Saturday, August 24, 2019 "Substantialism" in Past Thinking about the Church (REVIEW ESSAY)
The American Jesuit church historian John W. O'Malley has just published a new book, When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II. It is a follow up to his three books about the Council of Trent, the First Vatican Council, and the Second Vatican Council. In his new book he describes past thinking about the church as involving "substantialism" (Collingwood's terminology), which Vatican II abandoned.
(9 comments) SHARE Sunday, December 25, 2011 How Do We Americans Work Out Our American Identity? (Review)
Keith D. Miller's timely new book is about Martin Luther King's last speech. If we consider Dr. King's final speech as a whole, as Miller does, then we can see that it is a rich addition to the ongoing creation of the American epic through which we Americans work out our American identity. People don't live on bread alone. Dr. King's final speech is a vital national treasure that can help bring Americans new life.
SHARE Wednesday, January 4, 2017 Erich Neumann's Jungian Interpretation of Jacob and Esau (REVIEW ESSAY)
Erich Neumann (1905-1960) settled in Palestine in 1934. From there, he corresponded with the Swiss psychiatrist and psychological theorist C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961). He had analyzed Neumann and trained him as an analyst. With one letter, Neumann attached his Jungian analysis of Jacob and Esau. Using Walter J. Ong's thought, I want to discuss Neumann's interpretation of Jacob's wrestling with the angel and American culture.
(7 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 5, 2017 A Controversy in American Catholic Circles
The Rome bureau chief of the New York Times published a news story in the Times about the controversy in American Catholic circles over an article-length editorial in the Jesuit-sponsored Rome-based Italian-language magazine La Civilta Cattolica. The English version of the editorial is "Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism." It is an informed defense of Pope Francis' views.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 16, 2011 James Martin's Book About Spirituality (BOOK REVIEW)
James Martin, a young Jesuit, has written an accessible book about Jesuit spirituality. But the slogan of Jesuit spirituality is not "Finding Jesus in all things" but "Finding God in all things." As a result, non-Christians who believe in God, as 85 percent of Americans say they do, might profit from reading this rich book
(7 comments) SHARE Monday, September 23, 2019 Some Reflections on Pope Francis' Address on Evangelization
The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization organized an international meeting for Academic Centres, Movements and Associations of New Evangelization at the Vatican on September 19-21, 2019. The culminating event was an audience with Pope Francis, at which he delivered a prepared address. I want to highlight his substantial address and offer some reflections about it.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 27, 2016 Larry Rosin's Careful analysis of the Exit Polls
According to Larry Rosin's careful analysis of the exit polls conducted by Edison Research, a curious picture emerges of the Trump voters who contributed decisively to Trump's victories in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, and North Carolina. Trump's decisive margin of victory came from voters who did not have a favorable view of him or of Hillary. But those voters broke strongly for Trump.
(17 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 5, 2013 Rush Limbaugh: Pope Francis Represents "Pure Marxism"
Rush Limbaugh, the supreme pontiff of the conservative American civic religion, says that Pope Francis, the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, represents "pure Marxism." Indeed, in his new apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis pointedly criticizes unfettered capitalism. His criticisms run roughshod over the tenets of the civic religion of American conservatives.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, April 26, 2015 Does It Make Any Difference How New Testament Texts Are Translated into English? (REVIEW ESSAY)
Progressives and liberals are aware of the influence of the Christian right. Christians of all stripes are interested in the Christian scriptures. But Willis Barnstone claims that the Christian scriptures are guilty of identity theft by robbing Rabbi Yeshua of his Aramaic name and Jewish cultural context. So Barnstone has published a new poetic translation, THE RESTORED NEW TESTAMENT, with an accessible commentary.
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, July 1, 2011 Why Americans Should Try to Understand Modernity as Walter Ong Understands It
Walter Ong's account of cultural history can help Americans understand modernity. Americans cheer for the spread of modern democracy, which emerged in modernity. Economic globalization appears to involve the spread of modern capitalism, which also emerged in modernity. The spread of Western-style universities spreads modern science, which also emerged in modernity. Ong's work can help us better understand modernity.
(8 comments) SHARE Tuesday, January 11, 2011 Reflections About Jared Lee Loughner and John Hinckley, Jr.
Jared Lee Loughner's deadly shooting spree in Tucson should remind us of John Hinckley's attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Teenagers and young adults today need societal assistance in coming of age in the "global village" and learning socially acceptable behaviors.
SHARE Saturday, July 20, 2019 Trump Could Win in the Electoral College in 2020
National polls of Trump's job approval indicate that he may not win the popular vote in 2020. But he could win re-election in 2020 in the electoral College. For Trump in 2020, voter turnout in the states he won in 2016 will determine the Electoral College vote in 2020. In a disturbing piece in the New York Times (dated July 19, 2019), Nate Cohn points out Trump's resilience in Wisconsin and Florida, states he won in 2016.
SHARE Sunday, October 28, 2018 An Intellectual Biography of Pope Francis (REVIEW ESSAY)
Massimo Borghesi of the University of Perugia in Italy has published a carefully researched intellectual biography of Pope Francis: The Mind of Pope Francis: Jorge Mario Bergoglio's Intellectual Journey, translated from Italian by Barry Hudock (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press Academic, 2018; orig. Italian ed., 2017). Overall, it is an informative book.
SHARE Friday, March 24, 2017 Camille Paglia's New Book Is Timely (REVIEW ESSAY)
For understandable reasons, liberals and progressives are concerned about so-called President Trump's decisive electoral victory. No doubt his campaign was fueled by the backlash against second-wave feminist zealotry that ushered in so-called "political correctness." But will liberals and progressives counter second-wave feminist zealotry? Camille Paglia could spearhead the needed opposition to second-wave feminist zealotry.
(11 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 19, 2011 In Defense of President Obama Against Cornel West
Cornel West has blasted President Obama for understandable reasons. To understand the reasons, we need to consider that President Obama has said that Reinhold Niebuhr was an important influence on his thought. In Niebuhrian terminology, Cornel West is very idealistic, but President Obama is trying to be realistic. As a result, Cornel West is understandably disappointed in President Obama.
SHARE Sunday, September 29, 2019 Pope Francis' 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Is Coherent -- and Beautiful! (REVIEW ESSAY)
In the first year of his pontificate, Pope Francis issued an apostolic exhortation on November 24, 2013, in which he discusses themes that have been met with resistance by certain conservative American Catholics. Recently I decided to read this somewhat lengthy document and see how he went about making his case. He is a seasoned preachy guy. I don't agree with everything he says. But it is a coherent document -- and beautiful!
SHARE Saturday, March 21, 2020 James Shapiro Urges Us to Reflect Further on Shakespeare (REVIEW ESSAY)
James Shapiro is a Shakespeare specialist at Columbia University in New York City. In his new 2020 book Shakespeare in a Divided America, he uses the controversy over the outdoor production of Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar in 2017 in Central Park in New York City to discuss our contemporary American cultural and political divide that resulted in Donald Trump's Electoral College victory in the 2016 presidential election.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, October 13, 2019 Fliting Is the Name of the Game: The Philistine Trump and the Biblical Goliath's Boasts and Insults
In sports commentary, the biblical story of David and Goliath has been reduced to the proverbial expression "David versus Goliath" to describe an underdog going against a much stronger opponent. But I want to call attention to the verbal pattern known as fliting in the Philistine Goliath's boasts and insults. In modern English, Trump is a philistine who also uses boasts and insults. But fliting is culturally regressive today.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 26, 2017 A Reply to Stephen Marche's NYT Op-Ed
Anger over Donald J. Trump's unexpected electors victory in the 2016 presidential election has prompted a tsunami of allegations against certain prominent and powerful American men for various kinds of sexual misconduct -- from groping to rape. These allegations prompted Stephen Marche to publish an op-ed commentary about them titled "The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido" in the New York Times.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, July 5, 2011 Americans Should Study ARISTOTLE'S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS (Book Review)
Thomas Jefferson endorsed the idea of a natural aristocracy. But in his inaugural address President John F. Kennedy urged all American citizens to be aristocrats in this country by urging us not to ask what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country. Aristotle's NICOMACHEAN ETHICS can serve Americans today as a guidebook about how to be aristocrats in our representative democracy.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, May 28, 2011 Susan Anderson Can Help Us Understand Disillusionment Regarding President Obama (BOOK REVIEW)
Susan Anderson's book THE JOURNEY FROM ABANDONMENT TO HEALING is about the loss of love in our personal love-life. But her account of the process of grief over the loss of love in our personal love-life can help us understand the loss of love in our political love-life. Many people who fell in love with Barack Obama in 2008 have been disillusioned by his performance as president.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, July 11, 2020 Captain Ahab and Donald Trump (REVIEW ESSAY)
The psychiatrist Edward F. Edinger (1922-1998; M.D., Yale University, 1946) wrote a Jungian commentary on the life and work of Herman Melville (1819-1891), centering his attention on Melville's now famous novel Moby-Dick (1851). Edinger's perceptive analysis of how Captain Ahab enlists his crew to go after the white whale is instructive. His analysis can be applied to how Donald Trump enlisted his most ardent supporters.
(13 comments) SHARE Friday, November 19, 2010 Is "Material Spirit" a Contradiction in Terms? No! (BOOK REVIEW)
Troels Engberg-Pedersen's account of pneuma (spirit) in Paul the Apostle's writings shows how atheists and agnostics can understand Paul to be writing about the "material spirit" and spirituality of materialists. You don't need to believe in God in order to have a spiritual life and hold certain moral values. Engberg-Pedersen's book should counter Ann Coulter's self-congratulatory book GODLESS.
(12 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 17, 2012 Anthony de Mello's Spirituality for Our Troubled Times
The late Anthony de Mello, S.J. (1931-1987), a clinical psychologist and spiritual director in India, has given us a posthumously published challenging new book about spirituality, REDISCOVERING LIFE: AWAKEN TO REALITY. But how many Americans today are ready to take such a challenging spirituality to heart?
(12 comments) SHARE Tuesday, July 23, 2013 Critchley and Webster Study Hamlet's Complicated Grief
What is known today as complicated grief has been seriously under-studied. However, Shakespeare's most famous character, Hamlet, suffers from complicated grief. In their acutely perceptive short book about Hamlet, Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster deepen our understanding of Hamlet's complicated grief enormously. Their remarkable study deserves to be studied by anybody suffering from complicated grief and by everybody.
SHARE Monday, July 17, 2017 Western Cultural History: Trump's superficial view vs. Ong's in-depth account
In his prepared remarks in Warsaw, Poland, on July 6, 2017, President Donald J. Trump repeatedly referred to Western cultural history and the challenges posed by radical Islamic terrorists. But his view of Western cultural history is superficial. For a more in-depth account of Western cultural history, liberals and progressives should consider the work of the American Jesuit cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong.
SHARE Sunday, November 11, 2018 Garry Wills' Diagnosis of the American Catholic Bishops
The Pennsylvania grand-jury report in August 2018 about priest-sex-abuse and cover-up by certain American Catholic bishops prompted Garry Wills, himself a practicing Catholic, to diagnose the problem of the bishops and priest-perpetrators as stemming from the church's debatable teachings about sex and sex-related issues -- which he refers to collectively as The Big Crazy. But the bishops are now scheduled to meet in Baltimore.
SHARE Saturday, July 11, 2015 Scribner's Book about American Catholic Theocons (REVIEW ESSAY)
In the book THE THEOCONS: SECULAR AMERICA UNDER SIEGE (2006), Damon Linker alerted progressives and liberals to watch out for American Catholic theocons. Now Todd Scribner, an employee at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, pushes back in his own book about certain American Catholic theocons, A PARTISAN CHURCH: AMERICAN CATHOLICISM AND THE RISE OF CONSERVATIVE CATHOLICS (Catholic U of America P, 2015).
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, May 20, 2016 In Memoriam: John Bradshaw (1933-2016)
Progressives and liberals who are interested in personal development and growth may already be familiar with the recovering alcoholic and psychotherapist and self-help evangelist John Bradshaw. Drawing on his 2014 book, I will review what his use of Silvan Tomkins' work on nine basic human affects (feelings). I will also briefly discuss how Bradshaw's perceptive psychological insights can help us understand conservatives.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 30, 2018 His Majesty, Baby Donald! (REVIEW ESSAY)
Invoking Melanie Klein as his muse, the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Justin A. Frank sings of the wrath of his majesty, baby Donald in his new book Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank has given us a profile of unresolved infantile wrath. Both our enemies and our allies should find Dr. Frank's profile informative as they try to figure out how to play President Trump's brashness.
SHARE Wednesday, October 16, 2019 Harold Bloom Lived a Long and Productive Life!
Yale's prolific literary critic Harold Bloom died on Monday, October 14, 2019, at a hospital in New Haven at the age of 89. May he rest in peace. He lived a long and remarkably productive life, and his perceptive comments in his 1989 book and his 2005 book contributed salient information to my 2012 article that was, in part, about him and his perceptive comments.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 8, 2014 James Carroll Just Can't Stop Being a Roman Catholic
In an opinion piece in the NEW YORK TIMES, James Carroll, an ex-priest in the Roman Catholic Church, explains why he can't bring himself to stop being a practicing Roman Catholic. Sure, he sees aspects of the church he doesn't like. But he has hope in Pope Francis. But I see Pope Francis as a hopeless misogynist. However, Carroll says something else that should be of great interest both to Christians and to non-Christians.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, September 7, 2019 The Different Charisma Styles of Pope Francis and President Trump
Pope Francis exemplifies kindness charisma, and President Trump, authority charisma, as Olivia Fox Cabane operationally defines and explains these two charisma styles in her 2012 book The Charisma Myth. Now, when a French journalist recently gave the pope a copy of his new book about how certain American Catholics attack him, the pope said that he is "honored that the Americans attack me." Can you imagine Trump saying this?
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, May 5, 2015 A Reply to David Brooks' Column "What Is Your Purpose?"
Over the last 50 years or so, movement conservatism has spread anti-60s propaganda. Unfortunately, progressives and liberals have not effectively countered their anti-60s propaganda. In his New York Times' column "What Is Your Purpose?" David Brooks advances the standard anti-60s propaganda of movement conservatism. I counter his propaganda by drawing on Walter J. Ong's thought about our Western cultural history.
SHARE Thursday, October 10, 2019 The Road Not Taken by Pope Francis (REVIEW ESSAY)
Unfortunately, the American Jesuit Walter J. Ong's perceptive work represents for most of his fellow Roman Catholics, including Pope Francis, the road not taken. Rather than studying Ong's work about Western cultural history, the Italo-Argentine future pope studied the Italo-German Italo-German priest and theologian Romano Guardini's work about Western cultural history. But Ong's account is more comprehensive and nuanced.
SHARE Friday, September 9, 2016 Tom Wolfe Spoofs Certain Secular Sacred Cows (REVIEW ESSAY)
As OEN readers know, the developer Donald J. Trump of New York, the Republican Party's 2016 presidential candidate, has garnered a lot of free media coverage by saying things that are offensive to the spirit of political correctness. But Tom Wolfe's new book THE KINGDOM OF SPEECH satirically spoofs certain secular sacred cows of the political-correctness crowd, including Noam Charisma's linguistics. It's a fun book to read.
SHARE Tuesday, November 5, 2019 Jordan Peterson's Critiques of Political-Correctness Zealotry (REVIEW ESSAY)
In my estimate, political-correctness zealotry is an intellectual and psycho-spiritual cancer. Basically, I admire Professor Jordan Peterson for his courage in his public critiques of political-correctness zealotry. But I do not accept his critique of climate change, and I am wary of his scapegoating of Yale's English Department. The new documentary film "The Rise of Jordan Peterson" prompts me to reply to him and his thought.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, December 28, 2013 Ten Guys on Fox News Commented on Alleged "Wussification" in America in 2013
Over at Media Matters, Michelle Leung and Ellie Sandmeyer have rounded up ten examples from Fox News in 2013 in which different commentators have alleged the "wussification" of America. Some of the alleged examples are humorous, but not all of them. But these ten examples show the masculine identity crisis in America today. The anti-feminine term "wussification" points to deeper issues in the commentators' psyches
SHARE Sunday, August 11, 2019 Ross Douthat Says Toni Morrison May Be the Last Great American Novelist
The African American novelist Toni Morrison died on August 5, 2019, at the age of 88. The conservative columnist Ross Douthat says in the New York Times that she may be the last great American novelist, because we now live in the age of internet distraction. However, I draw of the thought of the American Jesuit media theorist and cultural historian Walter J. Ong (1912-2003) to suggest a more complicated account of our age.
SHARE Sunday, October 4, 2020 Pope Francis Reprises His Favorite Tunes
Pope Francis has issued a lengthy new encyclical letter, prompted, in part, by Covid-19. In it, he reprises many of his favorite tunes from his well-stocked library of praise-and-blame tunes. But his new encyclical is not likely to be the hit that his 2015 eco-encyclical was.
SHARE Thursday, April 30, 2015 Today's Civil Unrest and the 2016 Presidential Election
The death of Freddie Gray in police custody in Baltimore has sparked riots in Baltimore recently and demonstrations in certain other cities. In the past, demonstrations against the Vietnam War persuaded President Lyndon B. Johnson not to run for re-election in 1968. But violent riots in some cities after the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968 helped power the ascendancy of movement conservatism.
(6 comments) SHARE Tuesday, May 24, 2011 In Defense of American Exceptionalism and Christian Social Ethics (BOOK REVIEW)
Unfortunately, we are living through an Ayn Rand revival. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who claims to be a Christian, is a great Ayn Rand fan. But Gary Dorrien's recent books about Christian social ethics can serve as a healthy antidote to the Ayn Rand revival. Indeed, his account of the American tradition of social ethics can help us Americans today to appreciate our American exceptionalism.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 27, 2011 ALL THINGS SHINING Does Not Shine (BOOK REVIEW)
In their book ALL THINGS SHINING: READING THE WESTERN CLASSICS TO FIND MEANING IN A SECULAR AGE, Hubert Dreyfus in philosophy at Berkeley and Sean Dorrance Kelly in philosophy at Harvard review selected highlights of Western cultural history. But they are not familiar with Walter Ong's work about Western cultural history. As a result, Dreyfus and Kelly shed no new light on Western cultural history.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, May 31, 2015 Tapsell analyzes the international priest-sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church (REVIEW ESSAY)
The news media amply covered the international priest-sex-abuse scandal and cover up in the Roman Catholic Church. In the book POTIPHAR'S WIFE: THE VATICAN'S SECRET AND CHILD SEX ABUSE (2014), retired Australian lawyer and judge Kieran Tapsell thoroughly analyzes the decisive role of the church's canon law in producing the scandal and cover up. Will Pope Francis clean up the mess the church made by the scandal and cover up?
(12 comments) SHARE Monday, December 19, 2016 The Strategy That May Have Cost Hillary Rodham Clinton the Election
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is scapegoating both Vladimir Putin and James Comey for her decisive electoral loss to Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party's 2016 presidential candidate. But she pursued a deliberate campaign strategy that may have cost her the election, especially in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
(4 comments) SHARE Monday, December 23, 2019 Culturally Contextualizing the Gospels (REVIEW ESSAY)
In Pope Francis' 2013 apostolic exhortation, he claims that the gospel message is trans-cultural (paragraph 117). But M. David Litwa culturally contextualizes the canonical gospels in the ancient Mediterranean thought-world in his accessible new book from Yale University Press -- as have the biblical scholars Dennis R. Macdonald and Werner H. Kelber, among others. I will argue that the pope's claim may not be entirely true.
SHARE Friday, August 30, 2019 Pope Francis = "Open Closure"; But Catholic Traditionalists = Closed-Systems Thought
When Pope Francis was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he engaged in religious dialogues with Rabbi Abraham Skorka that have been published in English as the book On Heaven and Earth. In the new book When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II, the church historian John W. O'Malley says, "Never before in the entire annals of Christian history had a Catholic prelate ever engaged in such an encounter."
(6 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 14, 2013 Pope Francis is an astutely trained Jesuit
Americans think of St. Francis of Assisi as a garden statue. As a result, they may underestimate Pope Francis I. But he is an astutely trained Jesuit. He may not be ready for prime time. But if he is ready, he should not be underestimated. Because Jesuits are astutely trained, I think they should not be allowed to be popes. Recent popes have been trouble enough. So we don't Jesuit popes to stir up even more trouble.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, April 21, 2013 Joan Walsh's Analysis of What's the Matter with White People (REVIEW ESSAY)
In the new paperback edition of her election-year book WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH WHITE PEOPLE, Joan Walsh does not gloat about President Obama's re-election in 2012. But she recaps salient highlights of the 2012 election results. More importantly, she suggests that many white people who did not vote for him are mourning. If she's right, this may be good news, provided they can work through their mourning in a healthy way.
SHARE Thursday, September 22, 2016 Rabbi Sacks' New Book of Essays on Ethics (REVIEW ESSAY)
Progressives and liberals who are interested in political philosophy might want to consider taking a look at Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks' new book of essays on ethics. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Oxford University, and he knows a lot about our American cultural and political history. You will probably not be bored with his new book, especially if you are interested in the ideas of covenant and equality and freedom.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, March 20, 2015 The Pursuit of Happiness (REVIEW ESSAY)
In their pursuit of happiness, liberals and progressives can think of their journeys through life as like the character Dante's journey through the underworld. In his journey through Hell and Purgatory, he has Virgil as his guide. Figuratively speaking, Christine Hassler in her book EXPECTATION HANGOVER (2014) and Lissa Rankin in her book THE FEAR CURE (2015) can serve as guides through Hell and Purgatory, respectively.
SHARE Sunday, May 17, 2020 20 Thoughts from Thomas Aquinas to Ponder During Our 2020 Pandemic
During our 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, I have been rereading Matthew Fox's 1992 550-page book Sheer Joy: [Four] Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, in which Fox translates passages from 52 works by Aquinas in Latin. By happy coincidence, Dover Publications has just reissued Fox's book Sheer Joy -- so that more people can now readily read it during our 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, July 13, 2018 Can Martha C. Nussbaum Rescue Us from Our Fears? (REVIEW ESSAY)
Martha C. Nussbaum's new short book The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 2018) is timely, accessible, and carefully reasoned. She calls attention to how fear can dominate us and our views of our political opponents. She calls attention to how the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is an exemplar of somebody who was governed by love in his advocacy of social justice.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 7, 2020 Joe Biden today may sound like a normal person
Michelle Cottle, a member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times that endorsed two women in the Democratic primary, has stepped out from behind the cover of the Editorial Board to post op-eds with her own byline recently -- most notably "The Resurrection of Joe Biden" (dated March 6, 2020). In delineating certain weaknesses of Joe Biden, Cottle credits Elizabeth Warren with "rhetorical precision" -- that Biden lacks.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, May 1, 2015 A Reply to Both David Brooks and N. D. B. Connolly Regarding the Baltimore Crisis
Both the white conservative columnist David Brooks and the African American academic N. D. B. Connolly to publish op-ed pieces in the New York Times about the Baltimore crisis. Neither piece is entirely without merit -- or very penetrating. Drawing of the work of the American cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong, S.J., I propose to discuss the male identity crisis in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, February 2, 2011 Has Susan Anderson Discovered the Big Breakthrough for Self-Help Therapy? (BOOK REVIEW)
In her new book TAMING YOUR OUTER CHILD, Susan Anderson claims that Outer Child work is very effective in helping people learn how to change their behavior. With so many of our fellow Americans in prison for misbehaving in one way or another, we should all hope that she is right. If she is, then Outer Child work could be a big breakthrough in self-help therapy.
SHARE Sunday, March 24, 2019 Pope Francis on Evil and Satan
As the result of Pope Francis' discernment of spirits, he has concluded that priest-sex-abuse of minors and the cover-up by bishops were evil. He has also attributed a decisive role to Satan in tempting priests and bishops to engage in such evil. But his would-be critics are not likely to argue that priest-sex-abuse of minors and the cover-up by bishops are not evil, even if his critics disparage his references to Satan.
(6 comments) SHARE Friday, August 5, 2016 Both Brooks and Blow Analyze Trump
No doubt Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party's presidential candidate in 2016, is evoking deep hates and fears and resentments in many white working-class men without a four-year college degree who ardently support him. Recently two regular columnists at the New York Times, conservative David Brooks and liberal Charles M. Blow, analyzed Trump and his ways of appealing to his supporters in competing op-ed pieces.
SHARE Tuesday, June 23, 2015 In Praise of Virginia Woolf's Last Essays
St. Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of Brother Sun" is an example of praise poetry. But Pope Francis' encyclical about the environment, in which he pays homage to St. Francis of Assisi's "Canticle," is mostly a jeremiad. No doubt there is no shortage of evil in the world to lament. Nevertheless, in the spirit of praise poetry, I want to sing the praise of Virginia Woolf's last essays, albeit in prose.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, May 23, 2011 Cornel West Should Forgive President Obama for Allegedly Disrespecting Him
Cornel West alleges that President Obama has disrespected him. But we have not yet heard President Obama's side of the story. Nevertheless, Cornel West should forgive President Obama for allegedly disrespecting him, because Cornel West's criticisms help the Republican cause of criticizing and denigrating President Obama.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, May 30, 2015 Peter Gay's Tribute to Modernism
Peter Gay (1923-2015) was a prolific scholar. His book MODERNISM: THE LURE OF HERESY: FROM BAUDELAIRE TO BECKETT AND BEYOND is a deeply researched tribute to modernism. In honor of Gay's memory, I want to discuss his book. Modernism was an important part of my undergraduate education (1962-1966). Ironically, Gay sees modernism as having played itself out by the end of the 1960s. But we may still draw fruit from modernism.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, May 10, 2015 Get Ready to Debate the Pope's Encyclical About the Environment
Pope Francis is preparing an encyclical about the environment. Even though it has not yet been released, certain conservatives have already published pre-emptive criticisms of the idea of the pope speaking about the environment. So progressives and liberals who are interested in the environment might want to get ready for the debate about the pope's encyclical when it comes out. I offer some food for thought about the topic.
(10 comments) SHARE Thursday, June 18, 2015 Why Progressives and Liberals Should Be Wary of Pope Francis' Encyclical About the Environment
No doubt the Roman Catholic Church suffered an enormous loss of credibility as the result of the priest-sex-abuse scandal and cover up. Kieran Tapsell has explained how the church's canon law contributed to that scandal and cover up. But Pope Francis has NOT yet changed the church's canon law to stop further clergy abuse and cover ups. Instead, he has issued an encyclical about the environment to distract us.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, December 26, 2016 A Refreshing Presentation of Jung's Thought (REVIEW ESSAY)
THE QUOTABLE JUNG (Princeton University Press, 2016) is a 375-page commonplace book of quotations selected and edited by Judith R. Harris with the collaboration of Tony Woolfson. It is a refreshing presentation of C. G. Jung's thought. As I will explain, Jung's thought about the anima complex in men's psyche's can help us understand certain white American men who voted for Donald J. Trump in his decisive electoral victory.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 19, 2011 Charlene Spretnak's Anti-Modernity Book (BOOK REVIEW)
In her new book, Charlene Spretnak, who comes from a Roman Catholic background (as I do also), works with a strong anti-modernity intellectual framework that happens to resemble the anti-modernity position of certain popes. Even though she is not explicitly advancing Roman Catholicism, her anti-modernity framework should be challenged.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 11, 2012 Rush Limbaugh, Contraception, and Male Insecurity
Walter J. Ong, S.J. (1912-2003), has written perceptively about male insecurity in his fine short book FIGHTING FOR LIFE: CONTEST, SEXUALITY, AND CONSCIOUSNESS (1981), which was reissued in paperback in 2011. Rush Limbaugh's male insecurity was manifested in his repeated brash attacks on Sandra Fluke. But Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle long ago recognized that such brashness is not courage. It's male insecurity.
(7 comments) SHARE Monday, October 10, 2016 Bottom-up spirituality: For Rob Kall
As OEN readers know, Rob Kall is fascinated with bottom-up imagery. I recently read a book chapter that reminded me of his fascination with bottom-up imagery. It was in Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks' new book on ethics. So I've decided to write about it in the larger context of the thought of the American Jesuit cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong (1912-2003), whose thought fascinates me.
SHARE Wednesday, December 11, 2019 Operationally defining and explaining deification for Americans today (REVIEW ESSAY)
M. David Litwa in religious studies at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne has massively researched the ancient imagery and verbal expressions involving deification in four scholarly books. But I undertake to operationally define and explain deification for Americans today as a psycho-spiritual process of growth and development that involves learning how to access the optimal forms of the archetypes of maturity.
SHARE Wednesday, July 8, 2020 Is Melville's 18,000-line 1876 centennial poem worth reading today? (REVIEW ESSAY)
Is Herman Melville's 18,000-line centennial poem Clarel (1876) worth reading today? If you are interested in religion and religious traditions in American culture today, then you might read his long jeremiad about American culture in his day to stimulate and provoke your own reflections on American culture today. William Potter's 2004 book can help us explore how to understand Melville.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, May 24, 2020 What Is the Antidote to Greed?
Most OEN readers know about greed. But what is the effective antidote to greed? According to St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274), living virtuously with the help of divine grace is the effective antidote to greed.
SHARE Wednesday, November 28, 2018 Camille Paglia's Provocations (REVIEW ESSAY)
Camille Paglia's aptly titled new book Provocations reprints 56 of her relatively short essays published since 1994. They are grouped under eight topics/themes: (1) Popular Culture; (2) Film; (3) Sex, Gender, Women; (4) Literature; (5) Art; (6) Education; (7) Politics; (8) Religion. If all you are looking for are provocations, you'll probably not be disappointed with her 56 selections. But how well informed is she?
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, August 24, 2018 James Carroll's Critique of Roman Catholicism's Ethic of Sex
In "After Pennsylvania, What Pope Francis Should Say in Ireland" in the New Yorker (dated Aug. 22, 2018), James Carroll, a practicing Catholic, critiques Roman Catholicism's ethic of sex. His critique has merit. But I propose to connect his critique not only with Stephen Greenblatt's 2017 book on Adam and Eve, but also with the American Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray's 1967 critique of the classicist worldview.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 7, 2016 Stanley Fish's New Book WINNING ARGUMENTS (Review Essay)
As OEN readers know, Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party's presidential candidate in 2016, likes to categorize people as winners and losers. I'd like to be a winner in life, but I can remember times when I felt like a loser. In arguments, I'd prefer to win. I don't aim to lose arguments, but I can remember times when I have not won arguments. But will Stanley Fish's new book WINNING ARGUMENTS really help me win arguments?
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 1, 2009 Dawkins' Atheism Is OK, But So Is Theism
Richard Dawkins' militant atheism does not rebut attacks on evolutionary theory. Instead, his attacks of religious faith in God are tantamount to changing the subject. We Americans should allow not only freedom of religion but also freedom from religion for atheists such as Dawkins. But attacks on evolutionary theory should be vigorously rebutted, as James H. Fetzer has rebutted them in his book "Render Unto Darwin" (2007).
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, May 16, 2015 John Allen's Hype About Pope Francis (REVIEW ESSAY)
Pope Francis' encyclical about the environment may initiate a MUCH-NEEDED public debate. However, just as President Obama has not emerged as a transformative president, so too Pope Francis is not likely to emerge as a transformative pope. John Allen, a seasoned Vatican reporter, should know better than to hype the pope the way he does in his new book THE FRANCIS MIRACLE: INSIDE THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE POPE AND THE CHURCH.
(10 comments) SHARE Monday, July 4, 2016 The Declaration of Independence and Our American Identity
Will our American covenant hold, or fall apart, in the 2016 presidential election? Our idealistic Declaration of Independence will be put to the test in the 2016 presidential election by the mud-slinging of the Republican presidential candidate. Perhaps we Americans can draw some strength from the Servant Songs of the anonymous ancient Hebrew prophet known as Second Isaiah, especially from the Suffering Servant Song.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, June 16, 2012 Anthony de Mello's Challenging Spirituality (BOOK REVIEW)
The late Anthony de Mello, S.J. (1931-1987), a clinical psychologist and spiritual director in India, has given us a new posthumously published book about spirituality: REDISCOVERING LIFE: AWAKEN TO REALITY. Thanks to the Republicans, the economy is a mess. But how many Americans today are ready to take Tony de Mello to heart and become happy? He urges us to stop being unhappy and be happy. But how?
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, November 23, 2016 What is "Identity Politics" -- and What's Wrong with It?
In light of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's decisive loss in the Electoral College, both Mark Lilla and Ross Douthat have diagnosed the problem of the Democratic Party. It's what they refer to as "identity politics." They agree with one another that the Democratic Party going forward needs to evolve away from its "identity politics." But what exactly is "identity politics" -- and what's wrong with it?
SHARE Saturday, February 10, 2018 Walter J. Ong as Revolutionary Hero-Thinker
After I published my OEN review essay about Jordan B. Peterson's accessible new book, I decided to take a look at his first book (1999). In this densely packed book, he uses a Jungian conceptual framework of thought. I was most fascinated with his account of the revolutionary hero. I consider the American Jesuit polymath Walter J. Ong to have been a revolutionary hero-thinker. (There are other kinds of revolutionary heroes.)
SHARE Sunday, March 31, 2019 David Brooks Highlights Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's Book on The Sabbath
David Brooks highlights Polish-born American Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's 1951 book The Sabbath in a recent column in the New York Times. According to Brooks, Heschel argues that Judaism "is primarily a religion of time, not of space." Even though Brooks does not explain what a religion of space might be, the American cultural historian Jesuit Walter J. Ong has alerted us to spatialized conceptualizations.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 4, 2019 Here's How to Understand Trump and His Supporters (REVIEW ESSAY)
How should we understand Trump's charisma with his most ardent supporters? Olivia Fox Cabane's 2012 book The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism (Porfolio/ Penguin) provides a useful account of charisma and how it works. Her four charisma styles are related to Robert L. Moore's account of the kinds of archetypes of maturity in the human psyche.
SHARE Monday, March 13, 2017 How Women Polarized American Politics (REVIEW ESSAY)
According to Marjorie J. Spruill's new book, women polarized American politics. For Spruill, pro-feminist women known as second-wave feminists and anti-feminist women known as conservatives such as Phyllis Schlafly polarized American politics. Hillary Rodham Clinton is a second-wave feminist. But in the parlance of second-wave feminists, so-called President Trump, who was endorsed by Phyllis Schlafly, is a male chauvinist pig.
SHARE Friday, March 13, 2020 Using Nassir Ghaemi's Psychiatric Terminology to Describe President Trump (REVIEW ESSAY)
In Jonathan Karl's forthcoming new book about the Trump show, he reports that Mick Mulvaney, then Trump's acting chief of staff, urged senior White House officials to read Nassir Ghaemi's 2011 book A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Link Between Leadership and Mental Illness. I will discuss Ghaemi's major claims about mental illness versus mentally normal people. I will show that Trump manifests certain mild mental illness.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, May 22, 2011 In Defense of American Democratic Government and the Common Good (Against Anti-Government Republicans)
The time has come for President Obama and Democratic politicians to stand up to anti-government Republicans who admire Ayn Rand for championing self-centeredness and selfishness, as Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin does. American democratic government was formed to for the common good. But anti-government Republicans are against the common good because they favor deregulation and tax breaks for the wealthiest among us.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, October 12, 2020 Like a Leaf Floating in a Stream
In response to Pope Francis' new 43,000-word social encyclical, I briefly discuss how Neil Young's lengthy 2012 song "Walk Like a Giant" expresses the desire of many people today now to return to the pre-pandemic world -- and walk like giants on the land. But the pope has had enough of our walking like giants on the land. But Neil Young memorably expresses how the pandemic makes us feel like a leaf floating in a stream.
SHARE Wednesday, April 22, 2015 T. S. Eliot of "The Waste Land" and Our Mid-Life Crisis (REVIEW ESSAY)
For about a half century now, movement conservatism has been a powerful political force in American culture. As a result, many progressives and liberals may feel deep desolation comparable to the deep desolation that T. S. Eliot expresses in his poem "The Waste Land." His struggle to express the depths of his feelings in that poem can help progressives and liberals as they struggle with their own desolation over conservatives.
SHARE Wednesday, June 6, 2018 What Men Today Can Learn from St. Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Quest (REVIEW ESSAY)
In his new book Mysticism in the Golden Age of Spain: 1500-1650 (2017), Bernard McGinn of the University of Chicago Divinity School offers a perceptive account of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order. Men today who are interested in spiritual quest can learn from his spiritual quest. In Jungian terminology, he activated the Anima archetype in his psyche and the Old-Wise-Man archetype in his psyche.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 28, 2015 Southern Cultural Pride
Can anything constructive possibly emerge from Dylann Roof's killing spree in Charleston, South Carolina?
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 5, 2020 Get Ready for the Anti-Abortion Zealotry against Joe Biden's Resurgence
Former Vice President Joe Biden is a practicing Catholic. But he does not agree with the Roman Catholic Church's official, but incoherent and indefensible, opposition to legalized abortion -- an opposition rooted in misogyny. No doubt the resurgence of Biden's campaign in the Democratic primary will prompt a resurgence of anti-abortion zealotry in his co-religionists, many of whom voted for Trump in 2016.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, March 5, 2018 Steven Pinker Is Not a Deep Thinker (REVIEW ESSAY)
The Canadian Steven Pinker in psychology at Harvard University has published a polemical new book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. It is a 550-page follow up to his 800-page 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. But Pinker is not a deep thinker compared to the Canadian Jesuit Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984) and the American Jesuit Walter J. Ong (1912-2003).
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, December 26, 2014 Contextualizing Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)
Marshall McLuhan received more media attention in the 1960s and 1970s than any other literature professor achieved during the twentieth century. McLuhan's most imaginative book, UNDERSTANDING MEDIA: EXTENSIONS OF MAN, was first published in 1964. It helped catapult him to the extraordinary media attention he received. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its publication, I'd like to contextualize it -- and McLuhan.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 14, 2012 President Obama Needs to Mourn (Review essay)
Dr. Justin A. Frank's book BUSH ON THE COUCH (rev. ed 2007) should be read alongside his new book OBAMA ON THE COUCH (2011) and alongside other books about grief work. Dr. Frank claims the George W. Bush is incapable of serious mourning. But Dr. Frank makes no such claim about Barack Obama. However, Dr. Frank identifies how President Obama needs to undertake serious mourning regarding nondeath losses in his early life.
SHARE Sunday, May 29, 2016 Sebastian Junger's New Book TRIBE: ON HOMECOMING AND BELONGING (Review Essay)
Monday, May 30, 2016, will be Memorial Day. Surely it is fitting for us to remember those American soldiers who died in combat. But Sebastian Junger's new book TRIBE: ON HOMECOMING AND BELONGING reminds us not to forget the problems of post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) and suicide among combat veterans after they return. I found certain parts of his elegantly written short book called to my mind numerous associations.
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, December 14, 2013 Lay Catholics Should Defuse the Catholic Anti-Abortion Claim About Conception
Catholics have excelled in publicizing their church's opposition to legalized abortion in the first trimester. But many married Catholics have used artificial contraception, despite their church's opposition to it. Those lay Catholics should now defuse the claim in the Catholic anti-abortion crusade about conception. Yes, a new life-form emerges at conception, but it is an infrahuman life-form, not a human person.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, April 25, 2017 Will the "Political Correctness" Crowd Ever Change Their Tune? (BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY)
Over the last half century, the "political correctness" crowd has provided a target for conservatives to attack. In the 2016 presidential election, Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party's candidate, effectively campaigned against "political correctness." His decisive electoral victory should be a wake-up call for the "political correctness" crowd -- the time has come for them to revisit their glib critiques of Western culture.
SHARE Sunday, October 19, 2014 Steven B. Herrmann's Book SPIRITUAL DEMOCRACY (Review Essay)
In his new book SPIRITUAL DEMOCRACY (2014) Steven B. herrmann suggests that a new spirit of spiritual democracy is emerging in our contemporary world. Of course it is not hard to think of examples of movements in our contemporary world that run counter to an emerging new spirit of spiritual democracy. Nevertheless, he deserves to be heard, and his book deserves to be read by interested progressives and liberals. Series: Reviews (1 Articles, 1261 views)
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, May 23, 2017 Kleinian Theory and Trump Voters
The American psychiatrist Justin A. Frank, M.D., works with Melanie Klein's conceptual framework in his psycho-biographies about former Presidents George W. Bush (2007) and Barack Obama (2011). Taking hints from Dr. Frank's two books, I propose to discuss the 2016 presidential election, especially Trump and the Trump voters.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 14, 2014 Depression in Older Adults Today and Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
Not by using antidepressants alone will adults in the second half of their lives decisively combat depression. They also need to undertake an inner journey like the inner journey in Dante's DIVINE COMEDY. M. Esther Harding makes an extrardimary claim about the vision of the celestial rose in Dante's poem. Taking a hint from her, we can see why adults with depression need to work through levels of the collective unconscious.
(7 comments) SHARE Saturday, October 4, 2014 Bishop Spong Claims That a Jewish Mystic Wrote the Gospel According to John (REVIEW ESSAY)
As a follow up to my previous OEN articles about the Jungian idea of the individuation process and personal transformation, I want to discuss how the Gospel According to John can be interpreted. Bishop John Shelby Spong's new book THE FOURTH GOSPEL: TALES OF A JEWISH MYSTIC provides a handy springboard for me to use to suggest how a certain symbolic interpretation can open up this gospel as a resource for non-Christians.
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, February 26, 2012 The Religious Zealotry of the Catholic Bishops
The Catholic bishops' religious zealotry has prompted them to object not only to the Obama's administration's reasonable and responsible contraception mandate for Catholic employers such as hospitals and universities and charitable organizations, but also to President Obama's compromise that allows those Catholic employers to avoid paying for contraception coverage. But Americans of good will should support the compromise.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, February 15, 2017 Steve Bannon and Cardinal Burke of the Vatican
For understandable reasons, progressives and liberals should continue to worry about President Donald J. Trump's hyperbolic and apocalyptic adviser Stephen K. Bannon. Recently Bannon's connection with Cardinal Raymond L. Burke of the Vatican has been reported and commented on by certain columnists. Because 60 percent of white American Catholics voted for Trump, they may be cheered on by the news about Bannon's connection.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, August 16, 2017 Mark Lilla's Polemic about Identity Politics in the Democratic Party is Timely (REVIEW ESSAY)
Today practitioners of identity politics are in power in the Democratic Party. But the Democratic Party is the out-of-power party both at the federal level of government and at the state level in many states. In his polemical new book, Mark Lilla critiques identity politics in the Democratic Party. In my estimate, the practitioners of identity politics in the Democratic Party should temper their brand of identity politics.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, June 13, 2015 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Virginia Woolf played a number of public roles in her lifetime. She was a feminist, pacifist, activist, lecturer, novelist, essayist, book reviewer, biographer, and publisher (with her husband). In her mature novels she expresses her sense of communion consciousness in various ways. For this reason, progressives and liberals can cultivate their own sense of communion consciousness by reading her novels.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, July 18, 2019 How Can You Love God with Your Whole Heart?
We tend to think of good and evil as diametrically opposed forces or tendencies within us. For the purposes of operationally defining univocal terms to use in philosophical discourse, we define evil as that which is not good -- and vice versa (good is that which is not evil). But Martin Buber (1878-1965) invokes the Talmudic doctrine of two urges (a good and an evil urge) to explain how you can love God with your whole heart.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 7, 2012 Crossan and Jesus and Parables (REVIEW ESSAY)
The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth under the authority of Pontius Pilate during the Passover festival in Jerusalem climaxes each of the four canonical gospels. In his ambitious new book John Dominic Crossan examines different kinds of gospel fictions, including the parables famously attributed to Jesus. In addition, Crossan urges us to consider each gospel itself as a parable writ large as it were.
(4 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 15, 2015 Getting Our Bearings from Jung
On car trips, kids often ask, "Are we there yet?" Years ago, C. G. Jung predicted that the Age of Aquarius would emerge next in Western culture. So liberals and progressives today may ask, "Are we there yet?" For example, in the U.S. in recent years, public opinion about same-sex marriage has shifted dramatically. Doesn't this show that the Age of Aquarius is emerging slowly but surely? Let's examine what else Jung says.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, May 18, 2019 Celebrating Martin Buber's Life and Thought (REVIEW ESSAY)
In the new 400-page book Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent (Yale University Press, 2019), Paul Mendes-Flohr of the University of Chicago tells the story of Buber's life and thought based primarily on Buber's correspondence but also supplemented with autobiographical comments in his publications.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 9, 2014 An Ongian Alternative View of the A.D.H.D. Crisis
Richard A. Friedman's lengthy opinion piece in the NEW YORK TIMES about the A.D.H.D. crisis has sparked some controversy. As an alternative to Friedman's interpretation of the data, I propose to set forth an interpretation of the data based on the thought of the American cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 9, 2014 Melanie Klein Can Help Us Understand Hypomanic Americans
In a recent OEN piece, Rob Kall called attention to certain people who appear to have insatiable cravings for more, more, more. Evidently, the idea of "enough" is not part of their way of life. In a roundabout way, Melanie Klein's account of adult-onset bereavement and manic defenses can help us understand the psychodynamics of such insatiable people -- they tend to be hypomanic persons.
SHARE Saturday, July 25, 2020 Mary Trump's Psychological Profile of Her Uncle Donald (REVIEW ESSAY)
In Mary Trump's new book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, she profiles the dysfunctional Trump family, which formed her cold and ruthless Uncle Donald ("Tweety") Trump. More specifically, she lays the psychological groundwork for us to see that as an infant and toddler Donald did not form secure attachment bonds with either his mother or his father.
SHARE Saturday, October 20, 2018 Is Kenneth L. Woodward Advancing a Conspiracy Theory About the Priest-Sex-Abuse Scandal and Cover-Up?
Kenneth L. Woodward, who served for thirty-eight years as the religion editor of Newsweek, has published an extraordinary commentary about the priest-sex-abuse scandal and cover-up in Commonweal, the lay-Catholic American magazine. But is he just advancing a conspiracy theory about alleged networks of sexually active gay clerics in the Roman Catholic Church? Commonweal is not known for publishing conspiracy theories.
SHARE Tuesday, March 18, 2014 Emersonian Self-Reliance and Jesuit Spirituality
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope. Even though he has not achieved much in his first year as pope, he has received a lot of media coverage for things he's said. He's a likable guy. But he has cultivated Jesuit spirituality during his adult life. Lawrence Buell's book EMERSON has prompted me to reflect on Emersonian Self-Reliance and Jesuit spirituality. Cultivating Jesuit spirituality resembles cultivating Self-Reliance.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 17, 2018 Are You "Fixed" or "Fluid" -- Or Mixed? (REVIEW ESSAY)
Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler, two professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are psychological profilers interested in profiling American politics. In their new book Prius or Pickup?: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America's Great Divide (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018), they discuss the responses to surveys over the years in which the four forced-choice questions were included.
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, September 5, 2015 David Brooks Predicts a Course Correction Coming in American Culture
The conservative New York Times columnist predicts that a course correction in American culture is coming. If such a course correction in American culture were to emerge progressives and liberals might welcome it. But will such a course correction emerge?
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, February 14, 2013 REVIEW ESSAY: My Belated Valentine's Day Message
Jungian theorist Robert Moore makes bold claims about what he terms the archetype of initiation -- the archetype that brings us mental breakdowns, bereavement, and other significant life transitions. Now, how many of us have not experienced a mental breakdown, or bereavement, or other significant life transitions? But if your life has not been free from these experiences, do you understand the archetype of initiation?
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 8, 2016 How the Historical Jesus Became a Superhero (REVIEW ESSAY)
Liberals and progressives who are interested in how the historical Jesus was transformed into the superhero portrayed in the New Testament might find Dennis R. MacDonald's accessible book MYTHOLOGIZING JESUS: FROM JEWISH TEACHER TO EPIC HERO (2015) repays careful reading. It is a summative distillation of MacDonald's impressive body of scholarly work. It can also serve as an introduction to his other scholarly books.
SHARE Friday, January 3, 2020 Diagnosing Our Contemporary American Mental Health
Lee Siegel's op-ed "Why Is America So Depressed?" in the New York Times (dated January 2, 2020) sums up bleak psychiatric reports about the mental health of contemporary Americans. But Siegel's claims in one particular sentence suggest to me that a deeper cultural diagnosis of the mental health of contemporary Americans is called for. This deeper cultural diagnosis is provided by Walter J. Ong's thought about Western culture.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, December 30, 2011 Virginia Woolf's Example of Creative Non-Violent Resistance (Review)
Theodore Koulouris explores important new angles of Virginia Woolf's life and work in his book HELLENISM AND LOSS IN THE WORK OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (2011). Through her fiction and non-fiction, Virginia Woolf creatively worked through the losses in her life due to the deaths of important family members and also due to her gender in the historical context of her life. As a result, she lived a life of heroic non-violent resistance.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 15, 2011 Reflections on Sarah Palin's Statement About the Tucson Tragedy
Sarah Palin's January 12th statement about the Tucson tragedy shows how limited her thought-world is. There are reasonable ways to defend Palin from certain criticisms. But her comments both about the shooter and about her critics show just how limited her thought-world is.
(6 comments) SHARE Monday, January 13, 2014 Orwell, Snowden, and Privacy in Light of Ong's Cultural History
Edward Snowden's leaks have prompted many Americans to think that the National Security Agency (NSA) is really an Orwellian name for the National Surveillance Agency. However, as we sort out the various privacy issues involved both in Snowden's NSA leaks and in George Orwell's dystopian novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four," it is instructive to consider our sense of privacy in light of Walter J. Ong's cultural history.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, December 1, 2012 The Supposed "Timeless Truths" Advanced by the Catholic Bishops
Rob Kall has expressed his concern about the "theocratic" views (his term) of the U.S. Catholic bishops. The U.S. Catholic bishops have involved themselves in various civic and legal issues. As a result, we should reflect on the claim made by the bishops and their apologists that their views are based supposedly on "timeless truths." This claim seems to mean that they hold their debatable views to be undebatable.
SHARE Sunday, August 23, 2020 Christiana Morgan on Creative Personal Transformation (REVIEW ESSAY)
The tragic life of the American Jungian analyst Christiana Morgan (1897-1967) is reconstructed in candid detail by the American Jungian analyst Claire Douglas in her 1993 biography of Morgan. Despite Morgan's own incomplete personal transformation, she nevertheless describes the patient-analyst psycho-dynamic that is involved in creative personal transformation -- of the kind that anti-black bigots today need to experience.
(5 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 16, 2018 A New Low for the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S.
On August 14, 2018, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released the grand-jury report about priest-sex-abuse and the cover-ups by bishops in six Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. Thus far, Pope Francis has been silent about the report. But with the help of Stephen Greenblatt's 2017 book about Adam and Eve, I want to discuss St. Augustine's influence on the church's unfortunate teachings about sex.
SHARE Thursday, June 25, 2020 July 4, 1776; July 4, 1876; July 4, 2020 (REVIEW ESSAY)
As we reflect on our strange times today in America, we should not forget that the now famous author Herman Melville (1819-1891) reflected deeply on the strange times in America in his day, including the Civil War (1861-1865), in his long centennial poem Clarel (1876). From comparing two competing interpretations of it, we can glean a bit of wisdom about endurance in our own strange times today in America.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 7, 2015 Marcus Borg, Maurice Friedman, and the Historical Jesus
The Christian right is up to no good. But most progressives and liberals may not appreciate just what a serious challenge the biblical scholar Marcus J. Borg (1942-2015) posed to some of the most cherished myths of the Christian right through his work on the historical Jesus. In the present tribute to Borg, I propose to connect his thought with points that Maurice Friedman (1921-2012) makes, drawing on Buber's thought.
SHARE Wednesday, July 4, 2018 Joseph Crespino on Harper Lee's Atticus Finch (REVIEW ESSAY)
Happy Fourth of July! The Fourth of July strikes me as a good time to remember our dark American heritage of slavery. Joseph Crespino's new book Atticus finch: The Biography: Harper Lee, Her Father, and the Making of an American Icon (Basic Books, 2018) can serve as a springboard for reviewing much of our American history, because he expertly contextualizes Harper Lee's Atticus Finch.
SHARE Saturday, April 11, 2020 King Lear's Inner Breakdowns -- and Ours (REVIEW ESSAY)
In Scott Newstok's new book, he details certain lessons from Shakespeare's limited formal education, so that we can learn how to think like Shakespeare did in 1606 when he wrote his play during the plague in England about King Lear's inner breakdowns -- similar to our inner breakdowns due to the current Covid-19 crisis.
(4 comments) SHARE Friday, February 13, 2015 On Gender, Pope Francis Is an Old-Fashioned Roman Catholic Reactionary
In the book THE THEOCONS: SECULAR AMERICA UNDER SIEGE (2006), Damon Linker has alerted progressives and liberals to watch out for certain conservative American Catholics. But Pope Francis's remarks about gender in a recently published interview should alert progressives and liberals to watch out for him and the other bishops. They are up to no good.
SHARE Friday, June 28, 2019 Simon Critchley on Tragedy's Philosophy (REVIEW ESSAY)
Are you interested in the history of Western philosophy? If you are, you might Simon Critchley's accessible and thought-provoking new book Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us (Pantheon Books, 2019) interesting. In it, he develops tragedy's philosophy in the context of Western philosophy. If you feel that Trump is a tragedy, you might find Critchley's account of tragedy's philosophy resonates with your feeling that Trump is a tragedy.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 1, 2010 Whitmire's Book WHY BOYS FAIL Delineates the Problem, but Not the Solution
Richard Whitmire's new book WHY BOYS FAIL delineates the problem, but not the solution. No Child Left Behind is not the solution. But the basic solution has been set forth by David W. Johnson and Roger T. Johnson is their textbook for teachers entitled CREATIVE CONTROVERSY: INTELLECTUAL CHALLENGE IN THE CLASSROOM.
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 27, 2013 Why Men's Violence Against Women? Why the War on Women's Reproductive Rights?
Walter J. Ong's claims about the contemporary male identity crisis can deepen our understanding of the psychodynamics involved in men's violence against women and in the war against women's reproductive rights. Ong claims that boys and men suffer from a distinctly male insecurity. But the only way for boys and men to deal with this kind of insecurity is to work out an age-appropriate sense of specifically masculine identity.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 25, 2020 Vengeance Is Mine, Saith President Trump to New York
Under President Donald Trump, Republicans tend to embrace social Darwinism -- the survival of the fittest. It appears that the fittest can survive Covid-19. Consequently, President Trump has refused to order indistry to build more ventilators to cope with the Covid-19 crisis in New York -- thereby exacting his revenge on New York for not voting for him in 2016.
(4 comments) SHARE Friday, March 4, 2011 Reflections on the Women-in-Science Debate
John Tierney's article in the NEW YORK TIMES has reignited the debate about women in science. In separate articles Alison Gopnik and Shankar Vedantam have analyzed Tierney's article in light of other studies. I draw on Walter J. Ong's insights about male agonistic behavior to further analyze points they advance regarding competitiveness and confidence in one's intellectual abilities, which are hard to measure.
(4 comments) SHARE Friday, August 9, 2013 Erich Fromm: A Secular Jewish Prophet for Our Times
Erich Fromm's psychoanalytic thought about biophilia (love of life) versus necrophilia (love of death and destructiveness) is a important in the 21st century as it was in the 20th. In his fine new biography of Fromm, Lawrence J. Friedman ably and fairly reviews Fromm's remarkably productive life and his thought. I can only hope that Friedman's book will contribute to a revival of interest in Fromm's books.
SHARE Thursday, April 13, 2017 Our Dionysian Crucible and Trump's White Christian Voters (REVIEW ESSAY)
We in Western culture today are undergoing the Dionysian crucible involved in the end of print culture 1.0 and the emergence of print culture 2.0. Our contemporary oral culture 2.0, powered by communications media that accentuate sound, resonates with our collective unconscious to renew the Dionysian spirit of oral culture 1.0. But Dennis R. MacDonald shows in his new book that the Dionysian crucible is in the Gospel of John.
SHARE Wednesday, June 20, 2018 Who Will Read Troels Engberg-Pedersen's New Book About the Gospel of John? (REVIEW ESSAY)
Will secular critics of Christianity read the Danish New Testament scholar Troels Engberg-Pedersen's new book John and Philosophy: A New Reading of the Fourth Gospel (Oxford University Press, 2017)? It is a follow up to his earlier book Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (Oxford University Press 2010). In both books Engberg-Pedersen uses ancient Stoic philosophy as a heuristic for exploring texts.
SHARE Wednesday, August 22, 2018 Stephen Greenblatt on Adam and Eve (REVIEW ESSAY)
Stephen Greenblatt (born in 1943; Ph.D. in English, Yale University, 1969) is a distinguished Jewish professor of English at Harvard University. In his 2017 book The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, he does not explicitly discuss the culture war carried on by certain American Protestants against the teaching of evolutionary theory in American schools. But he provides ample background information for contextualizing it.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 20, 2011 Walter J. Ong's Reflections on Being an American (Review)
In his first book, FRONTIERS IN AMERICAN CATHOLICISM (1957), Walter J. Ong, S.J. (1912-2003), the American cultural theorist and religious thinker, addressed his fellow American Catholics. He urged them to reflect on their American identity. But certain points he makes about our personal and collective identity as Americans are worth sharing with non-Catholics and even with people who have no religious faith.
SHARE Saturday, September 14, 2019 Here's How to Understand Trump and His Supporters: Part II (REVIEW ESSAY)
On September 4, 2019, I posted my OEN review essay "Here's How to Understand Trump and His Supporters." Then James Poniewozik's informative new book about Trump and his supporters came out. Consequently, in "How to Understand Trump and His Supporters: Part II," I now undertake to expand my previous discussion and to incorporate certain new points about Trump and his supporters from Poniewozik's admirably lucid new book
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, November 3, 2014 Risen's Low-Keyed Book About the War on Terror (BOOK REVIEW)
James Risen has written his new book about the war of terror, PAY ANY PRICE: GREED, POWER, AND ENDLESS WAR (2014), in a low-keyed narrative style. Two of the most important parts of his book center on the National Security Agency's draconian surveillance of Americans and on President Barack Obama's extensive use of drone warfare.
SHARE Thursday, April 26, 2018 Walter Ong, Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, and Jonah Goldberg's New Book
In the new book Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy (Crown Forum, 2018), the conservative polemicist Jonah Goldberg of the American Enterprise Institute aims to reinvigorate conservatives in time for the 2018 mid-term elections. I do not disagree with everything he says, but I prefer Walter J. Ong's account of our cultural history.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 20, 2014 Know the Enemy: The Koch Brothers (BOOK REVIEW)
Military strategists have long been told to know the enemy. For understandable reasons, progressives and liberals should also know the enemy -- the Koch brothers. Charles Koch and David Koch are highly competitive and very combative in promoting their libertarian ideas -- and rich. Charles Koch is the mastermind. Daniel Schulman of MOTHER JONES magazine has profiled them in his enlightening book about the Koch family.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 11, 2010 Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell's Views About Abortion Are Unreasonable
After Southern Methodist University sent out the announcement that SMU Prof. Charles Curran would be presenting a public lecture critical of the U.S. Catholic bishops' challenges to abortion laws,Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell (no relation) issued a detailed statement criticizing points in the announcement. But the bishop's stated views about abortion are unreasonable.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 28, 2014 Conservative White Men Today and the Revelation Jung Received
For more than 40 years, conservative white men have vociferously denounced the 1960s. Their denunciations show their resistance to adapting themselves beyond the conventional white male identities of the 1950s. What's their problem? The revelation that C. G. Jung received from the anima archetype in his psyche suggests that they need to work out a new relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches.
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, November 13, 2009 Bishop Tobin Is Un-American for Denouncing U.S. Rep. Kennedy
In a public letter Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Rhode Island has denounced U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy for disagreeing with the Catholic Church's teaching against abortion. But this is not an infallible teaching, because it has not been promulgated as an infallible teaching. As a result, it can be questioned and challenged by American Catholics, including Re. Kennedy.
SHARE Wednesday, July 19, 2017 Levingston Revisits Kennedy and King (BOOK REVIEW)
In the paranoid op-ed "Donald Trump and John F. Kennedy are more similar than you think" at the Boston Globe (dated July 17, 2017), the conservative polemicist Niall Ferguson fails to mention Kennedy's support of black civil rights. But Steven Levingston revisits Kennedy's support of black civil rights in his new book Kennedy and King.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, October 10, 2009 Why Obama Should Shun the Pope's Views on Abortion
President Obama and members of Congress should shun the pope's views on abortion and shun the Catholic bishops' objections to the health-care bill because their objections are based on the pope's views on abortion.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 15, 2016 President Trump will not be Superman, just as President Obama was not Superman
Years ago, Albert Ellis alerted us to watch out for our tendency to catastrophize. No doubt President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress will bring about great mischief. But President Trump is not going to be Superman, just as President Obama was not Superman. In this third in my series of three op-ed refelctions on the election results, I want to discuss those results a bit further.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, January 24, 2020 Some Thoughts About Andrew Hui's Theory of the Aphorism (REVIEW ESSAY)
In my wide-ranging thoughts about Andrew Hui's Theory of the Aphorism: From Confucius to Twitter (Princeton University Press, 2019), I begin with an overview of his book. I then pivot to discussing certain related scholarly work. I round off my 4,000-word review essay by discussing Michelle Goldberg's op-ed column "The Darkness Where the Future Should Be" in the New York Times (dated January 24, 2020).
SHARE Monday, February 3, 2020 The Roman Catholic Doctrine of the Real Presence
The distinguished American Catholic journalist Dr. Peter Steinfels, a past editor of the lay Catholic magazine Commonweal, has published a new article in Commonweal about the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at Mass. But Steinfels does not use the relevant work of the American Jesuit Renaissance specialist and cultural historian Walter J. Ong to analyze/interpret the doctrine.
SHARE Friday, May 31, 2019 Martin Buber's Legacy for Americans Today
The center-right columnist David Brooks of the New York Times calls our attention to recent teenage suicide rates and rates of depression in the United States today. In response to these alarming trends, we should use the resources of Martin Buber's philosophy of dialogue in the social and political realms to counter them.
SHARE Tuesday, May 5, 2020 The Tao of Thomas Aquinas (REVIEW ESSAY)
In December, the Reverend Dr. Matthew Fox will turn 80. He has been a prolific writer and a popular speaker and a peace and justice activist. In 1992, he published the book Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, which will be reissued later this month. He has also recently published the short new book The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times.
(6 comments) SHARE Friday, August 15, 2014 Jung's View of Bottom-Up Change
Rob Kall, the publisher of OEN, likes to work with the contrast of top-down versus bottom-up change. He favors bottom-up change in our American culture. In honor of his interest in bottom-up change in American culture, I thought I'd discuss C. G. Jung's view of bottom-up change in society.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, January 15, 2018 The Great Shift and the Hebrew Bible (REVIEW ESSAY)
The prolific biblical scholar James L. Kugel tries his hand in describing the great shift in our Western cultural history in his latest book The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). However, he does not happen to advert explicitly to the American Jesuit polymath Walter J. Ong's multi-dimensional description of the great shift.
(7 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 16, 2013 What's Wrong with the Cathoic Anti-Abortion Crusade?
Peter Steinfels undertakes to reexamine the Catholic anti-abortion crusade in the U.S. He claims to hold that the unborn offspring of human beings constitutes an individual member of the human species that deserve the same protections from harm and destruction that are owed to born humans. But he recognizes that this position "is nowhere near as obvious as many of us who hold it suppose. So what does he propose?
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 18, 2015 Profiling Pope Francis as a Jesuit
In a piece featured at OpEdNews, Daily Kos celebrates Pope Francis's demotion of American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke. As this example shows, Pope Francis may at times do, or say, something that progressives and liberals may want to cheer about. But Pope Francis is a conservative on already established church pronouncements. To help people better understand this first Jesuit pope, I profile him as a Jesuit.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, May 18, 2015 Harold Bloom's Thought-Provoking New Book (REVIEW ESSAY)
Stop the presses! It's time to tell the world what the literary critic Harold Bloom has figured out about the highest use of imaginative literature for our American way of life. After his years of suffering like a secular Modern Job, Bloom has emerged as a Modern Prometheus in his new book THE DAEMON KNOWS: LITERARY GREATNESS AND THE AMERICAN SUBLIME (2015).
SHARE Wednesday, May 13, 2015 Norah Vincent's Novel ADELINE (2015) (REVIEW ESSAY)
Anti-60s conservatives tend not to be as open to cultivating the communion dimension of their psyches as progressives and liberals are. In Virginia Woolf's famous novel TO THE LIGHTHOUSE (1928), she admirably expresses her sense of communion consciousness, as Norah Vincent perceptively shows in ADELINE: A NOVEL OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (2015).
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 1, 2014 The Masculine Mystique of Republicans: Charles Blow on Gov. Chris Christie
In his column "The Masculine Mistake," Charles Blow, an African American columnist at the New York Times, discusses Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a tough-talking guy's guy and a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. In the process, Charles Blow criticizes the masculine mystique of Republicans based on misogyny and chauvinism. But can Republicans clean up their act?
SHARE Monday, May 4, 2015 In Defense of Free Speech in the United States
We Americans should renew our commitment to freedom of speech, including expressions of free speech that criticize and even mock religion, or certain aspects of a religion. I do not condone physical violence by religionists in the name of their religion. But I have no objection to non-violent protests by religionists whose sensibilities are offended by somebody else's exercise of free speech in the United States.
SHARE Tuesday, July 24, 2018 John Courtney Murray's "The Return of Tribalism" (1962) and Trump (REVIEW ESSAY)
Trump's campaign motto was "Make America Great Again." This motto calls to mind the 1950s when anti-communism hysteria swept across America. But the American Jesuit theologian and public intellectual John Courtney Murray (1904-1967) worried in "The Return of Tribalism" (1962) that anti-communism was moving Americans toward tribalism. No doubt Trump's 2016 presidential campaign evoked tribalism. So what's wrong with tribalism?
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, June 24, 2016 Clara Bingham Revisits the 1969-1970 Year of Revolution (REVIEW ESSAY)
In her informative new book WITNESS TO THE REVOLUTION: RADICALS, RESISTERS, VETS, HIPPIES, AND THE YEAR AMERICA LOST ITS MIND AND FOUND ITS SOUL, New York-based journalist Clara Bingham inter-cuts passages from numerous interviews she conducted with certain people who were involved in the tumultuous and still controversial events between August 1969 and September 1970. But her book could help ignite anti-60s conservatives.
SHARE Wednesday, April 22, 2015 A Reply to Young Ross Douthat's Ominous-Sounding Critique of Pope Francis
The New York Times' young conservative columnist Ross Douthat (born in 1979) has published an ominous-sounding long article titled "Will Pope Francis Break the Church?" Young Douthat is apprehensive about the possibility that the old pope will somehow change one of the supposed certainties in the Roman Catholic Church. Actually the author focuses on only one possible specific change.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, December 14, 2014 Jung's Successful Vision Quest (REVIEW ESSAY)
A successful vision quest enables a person to find a sense of meaning and direction in life. In the present review essay, I argue that C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist and psychological theorist, in effect experienced a successful vision quest as a result of his self-experimentation in his mid-life crisis. But I do not recommend that others follow his example in his self-experimentation.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 4, 2018 Pope Francis May Not Be Ready for Prime Time
According to the Vatican News Service, Pope Francis delivered a homily at Mass on September 3, 2018. According to the pope, the reading from the Gospel of Luke shows Christians that they should escape from the grip of the crowd threatening to harm them and pass through the crowd in silence and escape. But can the pope escape in silence from responding to Archbishop Carlo Vigano's explosive allegations?
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, August 21, 2015 Ta-Nehisi Coates' BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME (Review Essay)
In light of the riots in Baltimore recently, progressives and liberals may want to read Ta-Nehisi Coates' short new book BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME. Coates in an African American who grew up in West Baltimore. He candidly recounts how fear pervaded his life growing up there. More importantly, he recognizes how fear underlies the dominant American culture against which he sees himself struggling.
(5 comments) SHARE Sunday, December 2, 2012 Walter J. Ong's Suggestion for a Spirituality for Our Times
In the 1950s, Walter J. Ong, S.J. (1912-2003), suggested a way for his fellow Americans Catholics to develop a mystquique, or spirituality, for living in the modern world. But it strikes me that not just American Catholics today but also non-Catholic Americans of religious faith could adopt Ong's suggestion in their own lives.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, May 26, 2015 The Awe Spectrum: A Reply to Rob Kall's "Awe is a Bottom-up Experience"
Rob Kall, the founder and publisher of OpEdNews.com and the host of a radio talk show, published the article "Awe is a Bottom-up Experience" on May 24, 2015. In reply, I want to suggest that we should think of the awe spectrum. At one end of the awe spectrum, there are people who are incapable of experiencing awe. However, not all people who are capable of experiencing awe are also capable of drawing fruit for their experience
(8 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 7, 2014 The Roman Catholic Bishops Need to Be Exorcised -- and Thereby Freed from Their "Shadow" Spirits
Can our American experiment in representative democracy long endure the religious zealotry of the Roman Catholic bishops? They represent pre-modern views that are at odds with modern America. Garry Wills, a practicing Catholic, has not been able to dispatch the hard-charging bishops. Arguably only an efficacious exorcist could exorcise them and thereby liberate them from their "shadow" spirits and their pre-modern views.
(7 comments) SHARE Sunday, July 6, 2014 For the Pursuit of Happiness, Try a Daily Dose of Non-Judgmental Awareness
Each Fourth of July, we Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence -- with its memorable words about "the pursuit of happiness." But we can be happy in a healthy way only after our Inner Child's archetypal wounding has been healed by archetypal healing. But how might we undertake such archetypal healing? Anthony de Mello suggests that we should try a daily dose of non-judgmental awareness about our day.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 8, 2014 Predicting the Near Future in Western Culture
I do not have a crystal ball to gaze into to help me predict the near future of Western culture. However, despite this admitted handicap, I have gazed into Walter J. Ong's perceptive account of our Western cultural history. Based on his thought, I am now prepared to predict the near future of Western culture: the syncretistic spirit will probably continue to thrive in the near future in Western culture.
SHARE Saturday, October 7, 2017 Revisiting and Questioning Trump's Boasting to Billy Bush in 2005
On October 8, 2016, the Washington Post released unaired footage of Donald Trump, the Republican Party's 2016 presidential candidate, speaking in 2005 with Billy Bush of "Access Hollywood." Today an advocacy group is playing that videotape in front of the Washington Monument. First, I want to discuss Camille Paglia's recent comments about Hugh Hefner and Trump in the "Hollywood Reporter." Then I want to raise some questions.
SHARE Wednesday, December 7, 2016 Susan McWilliams' Views of the 2016 Presidential Campaign and Aristotle's Views of Civic Rhetoric
In an article at Commonweal Magazine, Susan McWilliams in political science at Pomona College sets forth her views of the 2016 presidential election. Even though she refers to certain points that Aristotle makes, she does not happen to advert explicitly to his famous treatise on civic rhetoric. But if we use his framework of thought about civic rhetoric, we can see her views of the 2016 campaign in a fresh light.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, February 19, 2014 The administration is bullying the philosophy department at the University of Colorado-Boulder
The administration is bullying the philosophy department at the University of Colorado-Boulder -- by unexpectedly making a report about the department public on Jan. 31, 2014. Six women teachers in the department have recently issued a public statement that has been reported in the local newspaper. They claim that only a small number of men in the department were involved in the behaviors mentioned in the report.
(13 comments) SHARE Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Hillary, Misogyny, and 2016
If Hillary Rodham Clinton emerges as the Democratic candidate for president in 2016, her candidacy will drive conservatives crazy, and they will launch an unprecedented misogynistic campaign against her. To understand thie misogynistic tendencies, we need to understand Walter J. Ong's insight about how boys and men need to develop a specifically masculine sense of identity.
(7 comments) SHARE Monday, July 24, 2017 Why Aren't More Women C.E.O.s at Fortune 500 Companies?
Writing in the New York Times, Susan Chira reports that just 6 percent of the chief executives of Fortune 500 companies are women. She asks, "Why don't more women get that No. 1 job?" To explore possible considerations, she interviewed nearly two dozen knowledgeable people, and she reports what they said. But I want to explore her report further.
(7 comments) SHARE Monday, December 9, 2013 In the Court of Public Opinion: ACLU vs. USCCB
On behalf of a Michigan woman, Tamesha Means, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the ethical directives for Catholic health care services. The New York Times Editorial Board supports the ACLU's claims in the lawsuit. A lawsuit against the hospital involved appears to be in order, but the ACLU lawsuit against the USCCB is a publicity stunt.
SHARE Sunday, February 3, 2019 Michel Foucault's Late Thought about Certain Christian Practices (REVIEW ESSAY)
In the late period (1980-1984) of Michel Foucault's life (1926-1984), he repeatedly discussed patristic and medieval Christian thought about certain spiritual practices such as confession. In 2018, his posthumously published book The Confessions of the Flesh came out in French. The English translation could renew interest in Foucault's late thought -- which the Russian philosopher Sergey S. Horujy examines.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, February 29, 2016 Three Cheers for Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette's 1990 Book: Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! (REVIEW ESSAY)
OEN's Rob Kall is interested in charming psychopaths. One way to understand charming psychopaths is to recognize that they are manifesting certain "shadow" forms of the archetypes that Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette ably discuss in their accessible short 1990 book about the four masculine archetypes of maturity. Of course women may also be charming psychopaths, who are manifesting "shadow" forms of the feminine archetypes.
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 24, 2017 Feeling Enraged and Practicing Non-Violence (REVIEW ESSAY)
The classicist Emily Katz Anhalt of Sarah Lawrence College has published a remarkably accessible new book titled Enraged (Yale University Press, 2017). Taking a hint from her discussion of violence, I want to discuss feeling enraged in connection with non-violent political protest and certain related matters, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 11, 2014 Girls and Women Should NOT Be the Gold Standard for Judging Boys and Men
Lisa Wade has published "American men's hidden crisis: They need more friends" at Salon Magazine. In effect, she uses girls and women as the gold standard for judging boys and men. Let us give girls and women credit where credit is due. However, with all due respect for girls and women, I want to argue that boys and men need to develop a distinctively masculine sense of identity -- instead of trying to be like girls and women.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 27, 2012 The 100th Anniversary of Walter J. Ong's Birth
This Friday, November 30, 2012, will be the 100th anniversary of the birth of the American cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong, S.J. (1912-2003). His work deserves to be more widely known today than it is, because he can help us get our cultural bearings. He has developed a perceptive way to think about our Western cultural history by taking into account certain subtle factors in Western cultural conditioning.
SHARE Monday, February 20, 2017 Bishop Voderholzer's Accessible Short Book about Cardinal Henri de Lubac (REVIEW ESSAY)
Because 60 percent of white American Catholics voted for Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party's presidential candidate, OEN readers might want to review the history of American Catholics during the last half century or more -- not counting the priest sex-abuse scandal that the American Catholic bishops covered up. Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer's book about Cardinal Henri de Lubac can serve as a point of departure for the review.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 28, 2014 Jung's Thought and the Age of Aquarius
C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist and psychological theorist, contributed his two-cents worth of ideas to the discussion of the possible Age of Aquarius. This tidbit of information is interesting in and of itself. But how is the possible Age of Aquarius connected with Jung's thought about the individuation process? And where does bottom-up change come into the discussion?
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 7, 2011 Mayor Bloomberg's Bold New Initiative Is Magnanimous
Michael J. Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, has undertaken a bold new initiative to try to assist about 315,000 black and Latino young men in the city. Mayor Bloomberg is providing a substantial amount of funding for the initiative from his own personal fortune. For the initiative to be effective, the young men will have to be willing to pull themselves up from their bootstraps. They will need courage to do this.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 1, 2014 C. G. Jung Foresaw the Future (BOOK REVIEW)
In his lengthy commentary on Friedrich Nietzsche's puzzling book THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA, the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung, M.D., foresaw the future: psychological and spiritual individuation for more and more persons. However, because his commentary runs to more than 1,600 pages in length, I will undertake here to explain succinctly what I consider to be the most important points that he makes.
(4 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 24, 2013 Democrats Should Advocate Trickle-Up Economics (REVIEW ESSAY)
Joan Walsh's book WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH WHITE PEOPLE is a substantial call to arms for the Democratic party. Her book is structured as a chronological memoir about politics in her family's life, with occasional historical flashbacks to discuss earlier political events. Like her father, she is a Democrat. She has many family relations who are white working class, but not Democrats, as she would prefer to see them to be.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 26, 2018 What Did Pope Francis Know About Cardinal McCarrick -- And When Did He Know It?
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican's top diplomat in the U.S. between 2011 and 2016, has posted a 7,000-word open letter online in Italian, which has been translated into English at the conservative American Catholic website LifeSite News. Vigano is a traditionalist Catholic. He is deeply critical of Pope Francis about how the case of the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, now disgraced former archbishop of Washington, D.C.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 14, 2015 Cardinal Rodriguez Criticizes the Pope's American Critics
In the spirit of the Hebrew prophet Amos, Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras fired back at the American conservatives who have criticized Pope Francis for issuing an encyclical about the environment. But is it really surprising that the first pope to take the name "Francis" to honor St. Francis of Assisi, who could be considered to be the patron saint of environmentalists, is going to issue an encyclical about the environment?
SHARE Saturday, February 27, 2010 A Reply to the New Vatican Document about "New Age" Spirituality
The male chauvinists in the Vatican are once again up to no good in the new Vatican document about "New Age" spirituality. The male chauvinists in the Vatican try to rally conservative Roman Catholics to continue to believe the myths of orthodox Christianity because the male chauvinists in the Vatican want conservative Catholics to continue to support them in the lifestyle they've grown accustomed to.
SHARE Wednesday, February 28, 2018 The Pope's Service to American Liberals and Progressives (REVIEW ESSAY)
Pope Francis has heard the cry of the poor. In the spirit of the ancient Hebrew prophet Amos, the pope has pointedly criticized economic inequality. American liberals and progressives engaged in fighting the good fight against economic libertarians such as the Koch brothers can borrow from the pope's well-developed thought. His thought is succinctly sketched in the new book A Pope Francis Lexicon (Liturgical Press, 2018).
(5 comments) SHARE Monday, January 6, 2014 Yikes! Yuval Levin is Resurrecting Edmund Burke (BOOK REVIEW)
As a result of the 2012 election results, the Republicans have been in disarray. But in his new book Yuval Levin sets out to help his fellow conservatives feel good about being conservatives by presenting them with a detailed study of Edmund Burke's conservative political views -- just in time for the 2014 mid-term elections. Progressives and liberals should keep an eye on Levin's book.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, December 19, 2010 American Exceptionalism: GOP Presidential Hopefuls Versus President Obama
The GOP presidentials hopefuls criticize one sentence of President Obama's view of American exceptionalism. But the view that he articulates in his full 300-word statement is realistic. However, the GOP presidential hopefuls seem to want to return to the heady triumphalism regarding American exceptionalism that has long characterized movement conservatism.
(6 comments) SHARE Thursday, February 24, 2011 In Defense of Invective and Name-Calling (Against Rob Kall)
In his February 19th editorial "How Angry Are You? Time To Channel and Say It Smartly," the estimable Rob Kall said, among other things, "We can't waste our time . . . calling right wingers names. . . . We must not call names." In response, I say that name-calling is OK, provided that it is not just vulgarities. Conservatives are crackpots, so we should denounce them for being crackpots.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 25, 2015 Progressives and Liberals Should Be Wary of Pope Francis (BOOK REVIEW)
Pope Francis is a charismatic sweet-talker. But American progressives and liberals should be wary of his charismatic talk. In his well-researched biography of Pope Francis, Austen Ivereigh shows that the charismatic pope's thought-world is deeply conservative. He represents the pre-modern thought-world of medieval European Christendom. Conservative American Catholics will be delighted when they read Ivereigh's book.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, August 3, 2012 Mitt Romney versus Walter Ong on What's Important in Our Western Cultural Heritage
Mitt Romney believes in political freedom and economic freedom. So do I. These two kinds of freedom are as American as apple pie. If President Obama does not believe in these two kinds of freedom, he must be un-American. But Walter Ong's body of work about Western cultural history helps us understand how cultural conditioned our American political freedom and economic freedom are.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 11, 2013 White Supremacy + Male Chauvinism = Conservative White Males
Progressives and liberals need to get clear about what they are up against in the cultural wars with conservative white males: A potent mixture of historically conditioned white supremacy and male chauvinism. In short, the character Thomas Sutpen in Faulkner's novel ABSALOM, ABSALOM! is a symbolic representation of today's conservative white males. But how can we hope to overcome white supremacy and male chauvinism?
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, February 18, 2019 Are Homophobic Vatican Clerics Secretly Homosexual?
In a criminal trial in a court of law, the jury needs to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty as charged in order to convict him or her. But what about the court of public opinion? I want to set forth here a line of argument to persuade you to have reasonable doubt about Frederic Martel's claim that certain homophobic Vatican clerics are secretly homosexual.
SHARE Monday, February 25, 2019 Perceptive Book About Gay Vatican Clerics (BOOK REVIEW)
The openly gay French sociologist and journalist Frederic Martel (born in 1967) perceptively explains gay Vatican clerics in his new book In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, translated by Shaun Whiteside (London, Oxford, New York, New Delhi, Sydney: Bloomsbury Continuum, 2019). Pope Francis has figured out that certain Vatican clerics are hypocrites. But even he could learn a lot from this new book.
SHARE Monday, May 11, 2020 Our Current Experience of the Via Negativa (REVIEW ESSAY)
Our concurrent experiences of the Covid-19 catastrophe and the economic catastrophe have thrust us into what the Reverend Dr. Matthew Fox describes as the Via Negativa in his brilliant 1992 550-page book Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation spirituality, which is now scheduled to be reissued by Dover Publications later this month. It provides timely reading for us as we undergo the Via Negativa.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 21, 2018 No More Catholic U.S. Presidents Likely? No U.S. Pope Likely? (BOOK REVIEW)
In the book In Rome We Trust: The Rise of Catholics in American Political Life (Stanford University Press, 2017), Manlio Graziano argues that no more Catholic U.S. presidents are likely. In addition, he argues that no U.S. pope is likely. Both of these arguments emerge from his carefully contextualized study of Catholics in American cultural history, and from his deep knowledge of popes and papal documents.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, May 28, 2011 Too Many African Americans Are Murdered in the U.S.
Too many African Americans are murdered in the United States each year. The time has come for a concerted civic effort to turn the tide. My position is that enhancing the functional literacy rates among African Americans would be the most effective way to reduce the murder rate.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, August 5, 2015 Pope Francis Versus American Catholic Theocons?
Pope Francis is doctrinally and temperamentally conservative. But he may be a wee bit less conservative than the American Catholic theocons that Damon Linker describes in his book THE THEOCONS: SECULAR AMERICA UNDER SIEGE (2006). Unsurprisingly, the pope's 2015 eco-encyclical challenges many American Catholic theocons -- and other American conservatives. The pope's thinking was deeply influenced by Romano Guardini.
(7 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 29, 2015 Donald Trump's antics are not amusing
At times, progressives and liberals may be amused by Donald Trump's antics as a candidate for the Republican Party's presidential nomination. His antics include boasting about himself and insulting his opponents and others. Those antics are not attractive. He is a RINO. His antics may shake up the movement conservatives who have long dominated the Republican Party. But he's not likely to emerge as the Republican candidate.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, August 29, 2018 Pope Francis Still Not Responding to Accusations of McCarrick Coverup
As I write, Pope Francis still has not responded to Archbishop Carlo Vigano's accusations of a cover-up by the pope and other church authorities about disgraced American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's sexual abuse of young men (i.e., not minors). The pope does not want to dignify his accusations with a response. At time, it may be fitting not to respond to accusations. But the pope should respond about McCarrick.
(5 comments) SHARE Friday, July 6, 2012 Many Americans May Be Like Young George W. Bush
Many Americans may be like young George W. Bush, who he did not learn how to mourn in a healthy way. As a result, we have probably not mourned losses later in life in a healthy way. When this happens, a backlog of unresolved (uncompleted) mourning builds up in our psyches. But the onset of complicated bereavement (aka complicated grief and complicated mourning) may give us a second chance to complete some unresolved mourning.
(3 comments) SHARE Tuesday, July 28, 2015 A Reply to Rob Kall's Comment
In response to something Rob Kall said in an email message, I wrote a piece titled "On Ong's Thought and Capitalism: An Essay for Rob Kall" and published it at OEN (dated 7/21/2015). Today Rob Kall posted a comment on that piece. Rather than try to use the reply feature, I have chosen to write this new piece as a reply to his comment.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 29, 2014 Can Marshall McLuhan Be Rehabilitated? (BOOK REVIEW)
Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a celebrity in the 1960s. But he was also subjected to an enormous backlash by academics. Their backlash against him coincided with the widespread demonizing of the 1960s by conservative Republicans. Their demonizing of the 1960s has not been effectively countered by liberals and progressives to this day. Their demonizing of the 1960s should be countered, and McLuhan should be rehabilitated.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, March 15, 2016 The American Catholic Law Professor M. Cathleen Kaveny Addresses Our Culture Wars (REVIEW ESSAY)
Many non-Catholic progressives and liberals may understandably be weary of conservative American Catholic cultural warriors. The American Catholic law professor M. Cathleen Kaveny addresses our contemporary American culture wars in her new book PROPHECY WITHOUT CONTEMPT: RELIGIOUS DISCOURSE IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE. Ironically, it has come out at a time when Donald J. Trump is freely expressing contempt in the public square.
SHARE Monday, September 24, 2018 Some Reflections on Jesuit Higher Education
The Rev. Michael C. McCarthy, S.J., an administrator at Fordham University, the Jesuit university in New York City, has published some reflections on Jesuit higher education in the Jesuit-sponsored magazine America. However, Fr. McCarthy fails to include the study of Catholic philosophy as a key component of Jesuit higher education. But without this, Jesuit higher education could degenerate into mere sophistry.
SHARE Thursday, October 22, 2020 Who Is Looking Out for the Common Good? (REVIEW ESSAY)
Do you think that President Donald ("Tweety") Trump has been looking out for the common good in the Covid-19 world-wide pandemic? I don't think he has been. Now, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (born in 1948) argues in his visionary new book Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times (Basic Books, 2020) that persons of good will can today help renew the common good in the midst of the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic.
(4 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 21, 2014 Redeeming the Waste Land: Jung's Two Ideas for Older Adults
After World War I (1914-1918), T.S. Eliot published his famous poem "The Waste Land" (1922). Then we had the Great Depression and World War II (1939-1945) and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then the Cold War. To this day, Western culture is the blighted waste land. Can it be redeemed? Perhaps it can. But it will require massive bottom-up change, starting with American adults in the second half of their lives.
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, February 10, 2012 Contraception and the Mal-formed Consciences of Conservative Catholic Bishops
The conservative Catholic bishops are denouncing the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate. President Obama will probably cave in to the bishops' pressure for an expanded exemption from the contraception mandate. But he shouldn't. Instead, morally upright Americans should denounce the conservative Catholic bishops and their mal-formed consciences that we saw in the priest-sex-abuse scandal and cover up.
SHARE Monday, November 7, 2016 John T. McGreevy's Account of Jesuit Globalization (REVIEW ESSAY)
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope -- and the first pope from South America (Argentina). Centuries before he was born, Jesuit missionaries were active in South America. Certain Jesuit missionaries in South America are commemorated in the 1986 movie "The Mission." John T. McGreevy in history at the University of Notre Dame, which is not a Jesuit university, recounts the Jesuit spirit of globalization from 1814 onward.
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, March 12, 2013 Toward a NEW Anti-Conservative Movement (REVIEW ESSAY)
The conservative movement in American culture rose to political influence as an anti-sixties reaction. But it has been a backward-looking force, looking back to the fifties. We now need a NEW forward-looking anti-conservative movement in American culture. The work of the late Anthony de Mello, S.J., may help people to change and grow into the strong cultural warriors needed for a NEW anti-conservative movement to emerge.
(7 comments) SHARE Friday, September 20, 2013 Pope Francis Is a Male Chauvinist
In his recently published interview, Pope Francis says that he is against an ideology of female machismo. But he favors the ideology of male machismo represented by the Roman Catholic Church's teachings against legalized abortion in the first trimester. Women and men of goodwill who favor women's right to legalized abortion in the first trimester should speak out against his points regarding female machismo.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, November 26, 2014 We Are Still Living with LBJ's Legacy (REVIEW ESSAY)
In his new book LBJ: FROM MASTERMIND TO "THE COLOSSUS" (2014), Philip F. Nelson caries forward his examination of Lyndon Baines Johnson that he initiated in his earlier book LBJ: THE MASTERMIND OF THE JFK ASSASSINATION (2011). The large cast of characters in both books, including relatively unknown persons, makes them hard to follow. Nevertheless, Nelson's claim that we Americans are still living with LBJ's legacy is correct.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 10, 2014 Jay Sherry Sees Jung as an Avant-Garde Conservative (BOOK REVIEW)
As we weigh Martin Heidegger's anti-Semitism, we might find it informative to consider Jay Sherry's deeply researched account of C. G. Jung's anti-Semitism. Sherry ably situates this aspect of Jung's thought in the broader intellectual context of anti-Semitism in German intellectual history. In doing so, Sherry enables us to see Jung's break with Freud in a fresh light.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 8, 2011 Bercovitch on the American Self and the American Covenant (REVIEW)
With important elections coming up in 2012, liberals should arm themselves to fight the Republicans by reading Sacvan Bercovitch's history of the American Self (his capitalization) and the American covenant. Is the American covenant dead, or just dormant? If the Republican party wins the 2012 elections, the Republicans will keep the American covenant dormant, so that it will seem like its dead.
SHARE Sunday, September 20, 2020 Walter J. Ong's Philosophical Thought (REVIEW ESSAY)
I have published defenses of Walter J. Ong's philosophical thought in my book Walter Ong's Contributions to Cultural Studies (2nd ed., 2015) and in my lengthy introduction to An Ong Reader (2002, pages 1-68). In the present 7,500-word essay, I turn my attention to Timothy Mark Chouinard's succinct critique of Ong's thought in his Ph.D. dissertation titled T. S. Eliot: A Philosophy of Communication for Literature and Speech.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 24, 2014 Archetypes and the Fully Functioning Person
Robert L. Moore, the Jungian theorist at the Chicago Theological Seminary, claims that each human person comes equipped with four feminine archetypes of maturity and four masculine archetypes of maturity in her or his psyche. Therefore, the fully functioning person is one who draws on the optimal forms of all eight archetypes of maturity. But it is not easy to learn how to do this. So I will discuss how this process works.
SHARE Tuesday, May 7, 2019 What's Most Important in Jacob Neusner's Work (REVIEW ESSAY)
In Aaron W. Hughes' informative book Jacob Neusner: An American Jewish Iconoclast (NYU Press, 2016), he discusses Jacob Neusner in connection with Abraham Joshua Heschel, Mircea Eliade, and Pope Benedict XVI, among others. However, in my estimate, Hughes does not attend carefully enough to the most important aspects of Neusner's work, as I explain here.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, July 11, 2011 Good American Citizens Should Be Noble, Not Ignoble Like Anti-Government Republicans (Review Essay)
President Ronald Reagan said that American government is the problem. But I say that Reagan and anti-government Republicans are the problem. Because they are anti-government, they are not fit to govern. Americans should find virtuous and noble Americans to govern. Our American government is for the common good. Thus government is good and necessary. But where are the virtuous and noble Americans we need in government?
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, October 24, 2016 Trump and Women
Because of the number of undecided voters, it is still not unthinkable that Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party's 2016 presidential candidate, could emerge victorious. But at times, his campaign has seemed to be about his right to insult and denigrate certain women. In the second presidential debate, he said that he is not proud of his crude comments to Billy Bush in 2005. But that still leaves a lot of other comments.
SHARE Saturday, May 10, 2014 The CDF vs. the LCWR is back in the news again
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is once again in the news for its criticism of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious(LCWR)in the Roman Catholic Church. One of the CDF's criticisms of the LCWR involves their discussion of conscious evolution. But Walter J. Ong, S.J. (1912-2003) wrote extensively about the evolution of consciousness without ever being censured by the Vatican for doing so.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 19, 2011 Harold Bloom and Walter Ong Can Help Us Formulate a More Rigorous Critique of Biblical Fundamentalism
In their op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "The Evangelical Rejection of Reason" (Oct. 17th), Karl W. Giberson and Randall J. Stephens are far too lenient in their critique of their fellow evangelical Protestants. A more rigorous critique of Protestant biblical fundamentalism is needed. Harold Bloom and the late Walter J. Ong, S.J., working independently of one another, provide us with ways of understand the Bible.
SHARE Tuesday, August 25, 2020 The Paranoid Style in American Politics Versus What Exactly?
In Paul Krugman's latest column in the New York Times, he critiques President Donald Trump for engaging in the paranoid style in American politics. His critique is not unfounded. But Krugman conveniently sidesteps the fact that many African Americans live in big cities where the Democratic Party has been in power for years. If Black Lives Matter, then it should matter that Democratic Party has been in power in big cities.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, January 16, 2015 Know the Enemy: Conservative American Catholic Reactionaries
Most progressives and liberals know that the Roman Catholic bishops in the United States and their lay American Catholic collaborators are conservative reactionaries on certain issues. In the book GOD, PHILOSOPHY, UNIVERSITIES: A SELECTIVE HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHY (2011), Alasdair MacIntyre, professor emeritus in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, unwittingly offers us a deeper glimpse at Catholic thought.
(7 comments) SHARE Monday, May 23, 2016 Disaffected White Men
Many disaffected white men have supported Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic presidential primaries, just as certain other disaffected white men have supported the billionaire developer Donald Trump of New York in the Republican presidential primaries. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, the white novelist Mary Gordon inadvertently provides us with a hint about why so many white men are disaffected.
SHARE Monday, January 18, 2021 Yale's Timothy Snyder on the Trump Terrorists at the Capitol
Yale history professor Timothy Snyder has published a perceptive op-ed commentary in the New York Times Magazine (dated January 17, 2021) about the Trump terrorists who stormed the Capitol. If you have not already read Snyder's lengthy op-ed, I can assure you that reading it is a suitable way to commemorate the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, August 5, 2020 Take, and Read, Young Men! (REVIEW ESSAY)
Young men today in search of meaning and direction in their lives are living in a proverbial waste land. But what can they do to find meaning and direction? The American poet Herman Melville (1819-1891)offers young men today sharply sketched possibilities for their lives in his long centennial poem Clarel (1876).
(4 comments) SHARE Monday, October 7, 2013 Can Martha C. Nussbaum Help Save Our Embattled Democracy?
Our American experiment in democratic government is embattled today because the Republicans are up to no good. But Martha C. Nussbaum has just published a timely book about why love matters for political justice. But will conservative Republicans read her book? Probably not. But perhaps Senator Elizabeth Warren and other articulate Democrats will. Her book deserves to be widely read and discussed.
SHARE Sunday, June 18, 2017 Commemorating the Watergate break in on June 17, 1972
On Friday, June 16, 2017, ABC broadcast 20/20 with Sam Donaldson to commemorate the forty-fifth anniversary of the Watergate break in early in the morning of June 17, 1972. In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon won re-election in a landslide victory by appealing to certain white people's resentments. Similarly, Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party's presidential candidate, appealed to certain white people's resentments.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 5, 2016 President Donald J. Trump?
Progressives and liberals should carefully consider the possibility that Donald J. Trump could be elected the next president of the United States. At the present time, his grass-roots appeal is spreading like a contagion in the Republican primaries. He could emerge as the Republican Party's presidential candidate in 2016, and he could be elected president of the United States in November 2016.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, March 31, 2014 Heidegger on Modernity vs. Ong or McLuhan
As the result of the recent publication of new volumes of Martin Heidegger's philosophic notebooks in German, the question of his personal anti-Semitism during his Nazi years has been renewed. Did the Nazi ideology influence his philosophic thought? He is famous for his critique of modernity. But both Walter J. Ong and Marshall McLuhan offered alternative critiques of modernity that deserve to receive more attention today.
SHARE Wednesday, June 13, 2018 Agnostic Stephen T. Asma's Darwinian Defense of Religion (REVIEW ESSAY)
Stephen T. Asma, professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, describes himself as an agnostic. But he has undertaken a respectful Darwinian account of religion in his new book Why We Need Religion (Oxford University Press, 2018). I was able to understand his account because I could readily related certain points in Walter J. Ong's thought to Asma's thought. Asma's book is a serious study that deserves to be read.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, September 26, 2015 Are You Ready for BIG MAGIC? (Review Essay)
Are you ready for "Big Magic" in your life? If you are, Elizabeth Gilbert is ready to help you with her aptly titled new self-help book BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR. But moving beyond fear is easier said than done. Fear is at the base of abandonment feelings. It is not easy to resolve that early childhood fear. However, when it is resolved, it can unleash creative living.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, February 5, 2014 Are some guys in philosophy at the University of Colorado-Boulder bullies?
On Jan. 31, 2014, the administration of the University of Colorado-Boulder made public a resport about the Department of Philosophy there. The report by three external reviewers was requested to assess the department's work-place atmosphere for women. The report says that department is not women-friendly. Among other things, some guys in philosophy are described as bullies. But the report says they are largely unaware of this.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, October 12, 2014 Watch Out for Catholic Theocons (REVIEW ESSAY)
As every American of voting age knows, the law of the land does not require American Catholic women who are pregnant to have abortions in the first trimester. Whew! We should all be thankful for this. But anti-abortion Catholics would like to make legalized abortions in the first trimestert unavailable to all pregnant American women. So what's going on with the Catholic theocons? I'll explain Catholics in this book review.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 16, 2015 HOPKINS, THE SELF, AND GOD is Ong's Crowning Achievement (Review Essay)
The short but densely packed book HOPKINS, THE SELF, AND GOD (1986) is Walter J. Ong's crowning achievement. A Kindle version of it is now available at Amazon.com. So I'd like to take the occasional to write about it. The poetry of the Victorian Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) is not everybody's cup of tea. But for those who are interested in his poetry and life, Ong's book repays careful study.
SHARE Wednesday, January 30, 2019 Walter J. Ong's Thought in Relation to Michel Foucault's Thought (REVIEW ESSAY)
Gary Gutting in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame died on January 18, 2019. A frequent contributor to The Stone feature in the New York Times, he was an expert in the thought of Michel Foucault. Therefore, I will use his 2005 book Foucault: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press) as a guide to Foucault's thought, as I outline how Walter J. Ong's thought can be related to Foucault's thought.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 16, 2016 Marcia Pally Does the Heavy Lifting to Advance Bernie Sanders' Political Revolution (REVIEW ESSAY)
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has been channeling the ancient Hebrew prophet Amos. But our contemporary American consciousness and culture are a wee bit more evolved. As a result, the political revolution that Senator Sanders calls for in the U.S. will probably need the heavy lifting that Marcia Pally ably undertakes in her new book COMMONWEALTH AND COVENANT: ECONOMICS, POLITICS, AND THEOLOGIES OF RELATIONALITY.
SHARE Sunday, November 30, 2014 Will the Ferguson Protests Lead to a Republican Replay from the 1960s?
In the 1968 presidential election, Richard M. Nixon ran a law-and-order campaign and won. Riots in certain cities had followed the assassination in 1968 of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Anti-war protests against the Vietnam War had also become fairly common. So Nixon's campaign appealed to many voters. But will Republicans today now try to use the Ferguson protests to replay Nixon's 1968 campaign in the 2016 elections?
(6 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 12, 2016 Hillary Deserves Her Fair Share of Blame for Losing Decisively in the Electoral College
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential candidate, holds a small lead in the popular vote over the Republican Party's candidate. But she lost decisively in the Electoral College, because he managed to turn enough battleground states from blue to red. He successfully baited her with his assaults on the spirit of "political correctness." She took the bait and responded with proper indignation and lost.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 21, 2013 To Understand President Kennedy's Assassination, Janney's and Douglass's Books Are Must Reading
Lately, the media have bombarded us with superficial stuff about President Kennedy's assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. But the media uphold the official myth that Lee Harvey Oswald alone shot and killed President Kennedy. For those Americans who want to get beyond the official myth about Oswald, Peter Janney and James W. Douglass offer us two in-depth books about the CIA.
SHARE Saturday, June 23, 2018 David Brooks: Prophet of Cultural Gloom and Doom
Op-ed columnist David Brooks never tires of writing columns at the New York Times about cultural gloom and doom. But his piece titled "The Fourth Great Awakening" (dated June 21, 2018) needs to be analyzed carefully. In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, I want to give him credit for alerting us about certain trends in superhero movies, video games, and sport. But I want to re-frame the cultural context.
SHARE Sunday, April 5, 2020 Front Row at the Trump Show (REVIEW ESSAY)
When Jonathan Karl (born on January 19, 1968) was ten years old, his mother and stepfather pulled him out of school in Connecticut and relocated the family in a motel in Hill City, South Dakota. From there, his stepfather and mother set out to interview men who had worked for Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) on Mount Rushmore. Their 1985 book is the definitive biography of Borglum. Their work inspired Karl to become a journalist.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 3, 2014 Marcus J. Borg calls on Christians to embrace social transformation (BOOK REVIEW)
Progressives and liberals are no doubt familiar with the Christian Right. But now the biblical scholar Marcus J. Borg has written an admirably accessible book calling on Christians to embrace the spirit of social transformation he finds in scripture -- and become progressives and liberals. Three cheers for Borg -- Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! But will his book galvanize American Christians? That's hard to say. But it's a good read.
SHARE Thursday, November 10, 2016 Some Reflections on Trump's Victory
The Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series in extra innings in the seventh game. So persistence can pay off at times. But the persistence of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was born and raised in suburban Chicago, did not pay off in a victory for her in 2016. But liberals and progressives now need to cultivate their own persistence in fighting the good fight against conservatives.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 18, 2016 Is Donald J. Trump a Fascist Candidate, or a Semi-Fascist Candidate?
Is Donald J. Trump a fascist candidate, or a semi-fascist candidate? I don't want to sound unduly alarmist about Trump. But I want to review nine features of fascism that Robert O. Paxton in history at Columbia University discerns as characteristics of fascism in Europe in the twentieth century. Then I want to turn to Peter Steinfels recent op-ed piece describing Trump as a semi-fascist.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, November 10, 2014 Looking Forward to the 2016 Elections: An Ongian View
Not surprisingly, Republican candidates emerged victorious over their Democratic opponents in numerous electoral contests. The quantity of Republican victories has prompted many people to reflect on the 2014 mid-term elections. I would say that the 2014 elections show how effective the conservative noise machine can be in getting out the white vote. But I want to take the long view by drawing on Walter J. Ong's thought.
SHARE Friday, December 9, 2016 Paul Moses' View of Why the Mainstream Media Missed on Trump
Paul Moses is a former full-time journalist who is now a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY. His analysis of why the mainstream media missed on President-elect Donald J. Trump's decisive electoral vistory might interest OEN readers.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, July 1, 2012 Complicated Bereavement: Some People Experience It But Others Don't: Why?
Complicated bereavement is puzzling. Certain people experience, but most don't. Based on my own experience of it, and on my reading about it, I want to share my reflections about it in an accessible way. At the end of my analysis, I suggest a hypothesis about it for others to consider in light of their own experiences of it. I've not seen this hypothesis discussed in the professional literature about complicated bereavement.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, December 12, 2018 Contextualizing the Apostle Paul (REVIEW ESSAY)
The conservative columnist Ross Douthat published a column titled "The Return of Paganism" in the New York Times (dated December 12, 2018). But the biblical scholar Paula Fredriksen contextualizes the Apostle Paul in the context of first-century paganism in her timely book Paul: The Pagans' Apostle (Yale University Press, 2017). From what she says about first-century paganism, it does not seem to me that paganism is returning.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, April 6, 2010 Whereforth Are Thou, Harvard?
To turn the terrible tide of political and cultural conservatism that has plagued the United States during the last four decades, we need to renew not only political liberalism, but also liberal arts college education against the inroads of professional education, including specialist graduate education in liberal arts fields. Therefore, I call of the faculty of arts and sciences at Harvard to lead us in the needed renewal.
SHARE Friday, July 6, 2018 What Scruton Doesn't Get About American Conservatives
The British political philosopher Roger Scruton's op-ed "What Trump Doesn't Get About Conservatism" in the New York Times (dated July 4, 2018) critiques Trump for supposedly failing to "get" (understand) what movement conservatism is about. However, Scruton himself doesn't "get" (understand) anti-abortion zealotry in the United States and Trump's campaign pledges to overturn Roe v. Wade by appointing conservative justices.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 1, 2016 Are We Now Going to Have a Race to the Bottom of the Well of Resentment?
Thanks to Jill Stein's interventions, it looks like we are now going to have recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Should each recount result in Trump losing his electoral victory in each of those crucial battleground states, he would not be President-elect Trump. In the meantime, I suspect that liberal and progressives should get ready to endure President Trump and his administration. The rich will get richer
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, April 22, 2016 Sarah Bakewell Wants Us to Become Existentialists (REVIEW ESSAY)
In her informative and accessible new book AT THE EXISTENTIAL CAFE: FREEDOM, BEING, AND APRICOT COCKTAILS: WITH JEAN-PAUL SARTRE, SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR, ALBERT CAMUS, MARTIN HEIDEGGER, KARL JASPERS, EDMUND HUSSERL, MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY, AND OTHERS (2016), the British author Sarah Bakewell aims to persuade people in the English-speaking world to reconsider the existentialists. -- and perhaps become existentialists ourselves.
SHARE Saturday, April 18, 2015 Take Note of Jonathan Gottschall's New Book (REVIEW ESSAY)
Progressives and liberals should take note of Jonathan Gottschall's new book THE PROFESSOR IN THE CAGE (2015). No, all progressives and liberals do not need to practice mixed martial arts as the way to evoke traditional manliness in their psyches, as Professor Gottschall did. But progressives and liberals should gird themselves to fight the good fight against conservatives by evoking traditional manliness in their psyches.
(6 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 22, 2012 Let Us Give Thanks for the Federal Government
During President Obama's first term in office, Republicans in Congress were obstructionists. Following a quip made by President Reagan, many Republicans see the federal government as a problem. But their defeatist attitude should be replaced with an attitude of thanks for the benefits of the federal government in our lives, not just on Thanksgiving but year-round. We should work to make the federal government more effective.
SHARE Sunday, May 20, 2018 Somebodies v. Nobodies: Guess Who's Winning?
To avoid customary political categories, I borrow the terminology from a short poem by Emily Dickinson. In it, she says that she is a Nobody. Like her, I am also a Nobody. But I am writing about two recent articles by authors who are Somebodies. Moreover, each author alerts us to the adverse influence of certain other Somebodies on my fellow Nobodies in America, especially on non-college whites and non-college people of color.
SHARE Wednesday, February 26, 2014 Mighty administrators at the University of Colorado-Boulder are bullying the philosophy department
Troubling new questions have emerged about the outside assessment of the philosophy department at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Three women from the American Philosophical Association visited the campus to assess the climate for women in the department. In their report, unexpectedly made public by the administration, the women revealed that "at least 15 complaints" had been filed against men in the department.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 22, 2015 Pope Francis and Jean Houston: Brother, Can You Paradigm?
At the present time, Pope Francis is visiting the United States. However, in a recent article in the NEW YORK TIMES, Jim Yardley quote an Argentine professor of the sociology of religion as claiming that Pope Francis does not represent an empowering force, but a paternalistic force. So does Pope Francis represent an empowering force, as Jean Houston does, or does he represent a paternalistic force?
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 24, 2021 Timothy Snyder's 20 Lessons for Recovering Trump Voters (REVIEW ESSAY)
On January 6, 2021, President Donald ("Tweety") Trump incited a mob of domestic terrorists to storm the Capitol. As a result, five people died, including one police officer. But are there now any Trump voters who are ready to undertake the hard work of recovering from Trump and rehabilitating themselves as attentive, intelligent, reasonable, and responsible Americans committed to our democratic republic and the rule of law?
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 29, 2020 The Call to Exorcize Plato's Ghost (REVIEW ESSAY)
The 2003 revised Chapter 3: "The Dignity of Difference: Exorcizing Plato's Ghost" in Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' book The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations (Bloomsbury, pages 45-66) is admirably lucid. Moreover, his concern about resurgent tribalism is as relevant today as it was a quarter of a century ago. Furthermore, his prescription regarding the dignity of difference is still relevant today.
SHARE Thursday, April 5, 2018 Michael Massing's Book about Erasmus and Luther (REVIEW ESSAY)
In a dual biography of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536) and Martin Luther (1483-1546), the American journalist Michael Massing, a Jew, captures the excitement of their lives and times. The brilliant and talented American philosopher and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein has published a perceptive review of massing's book that I also want to discuss in connection with Walter J. Ong's thought.
SHARE Wednesday, January 7, 2015 Meeting Homer Again for the First Time (REVIEW ESSAY)
Adam Nicolson's new book WHY HOMER MATTERS (2014) is deeply informed and accessible. Nicolson characterizes the imagined Trojan War as a conflict between a heroic warrior culture dating back to the Bronze Age (the Greeks under Agamemnon) against the city-culture represented by the Trojans. But Nicolson brings this imagined conflict to new life by likening the loose Greek confederation of forces to street gangs today.
SHARE Sunday, January 24, 2016 Bill Clinton's Sexual Recklessness and the 2016 Election (REVIEW ESSAY)
Progressive and liberal young women and men will learn more about President Bill Clinton's sexual recklessness with the young White House intern Monica Lewinsky by reading Gil Troy's accessible new book THE AGE OF CLINTON: AMERICA IN THE 1990S (2015). To be sure, President Clinton's sexual relationship with her was consensual. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton carries baggage from the past that Bernie Sanders doesn't carry.
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, July 21, 2015 On Ong's Thought and Modern Capitalism: An Essay for Rob Kall
After Rob Kall read a short essay of mine about Walter J. Ong's thought, he sent me a brief email message saying that he did not quite understand what all Ong means by the world-as-view sense of life, which was involved in modern capitalism. So I have undertaken to write this piece to explain Ong's thought further. I show that there is reason to hope that Pope Francis' critique of modern capitalism may resonate with Americans.
SHARE Friday, May 22, 2015 I Support Katie Roiphe's Moral Stand
Katie Roiphe (born in 1968), a professor at New York University, has taken a public stand in her article "Why Professors Should Never Have Affairs With Their Students" at Slate Magazine online. I support her stand by drawing on Walter J. Ong's characterization of the professor-student relationship as a fiduciary relationship. But I also discuss certain other matters she raises.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, December 12, 2010 Can There Be Bottom-Up Change Without Proverbs? (BOOK REVIEW)
Martin Luther King, Jr., was an effective agent of change in the United States. Wolfgang Mieder's new book about King shows how extensively King used proverbs and proverbial expressions in his sermonic rhetoric. Aspiring agents of change should follow his example and use proverbs and proverbial expressions in their speeches and talks.
SHARE Wednesday, October 14, 2015 Walter Kirn Alerts Us about Big Data and Big Surveillance
Walter Kirn (born in 1962), a self-described neurotic, alerts us to the existential threat posed by Big Data and Big Surveillance. But the French existentialist philosopher Louis Lavelle (1883-1951) suggests how Kirn and others can overcome neurotic anxiety aroused by such existential threats.
SHARE Monday, October 31, 2016 Rebecca Onion on Donald Trump and Women
Rebecca Onion, who holds a Ph.D. in American studies, has published a perceptive op-ed commentary on Donald Trump and women, "No Girls Allowed" (dated Oct. 28, 2016). She has raised certain interesting issues that I myself did not mention in my earlier OEN piece "Trump and Women" (dated Oct. 24, 2016). So I'd like to discuss further certain points that she ably makes.
(4 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 27, 2012 Gary Gutting on the Skidelskys' Views of Capitalism
Gary Gutting has admirably initiated a much needed discussion of our American life. He develops his learned and perceptive points in a review essay about a book by the Skidelskys about our capitalist economy and our individual desires. In his view, legislative measures will not adequately address the problems highlighted by the Skidelskys. In his estimate, bottom-up action is required instead. In my estimate, he's right.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 14, 2010 What's Wrong With Stanley Fish?
Commenting on cuts to the humanities at SUNY-Albany, Stanley Fish calls on university presidents and chancellors to defend the claims of the humanities in public discourse. But Fish himself does not defend the humanities in his opinion piece. Moreover, in his book SAVE THE WORLD ON YOUR OWN TIME (2008), he tries to debunk the over-arching goals that can be used to defend the humanities, for example, social justice.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, December 5, 2014 Fighting Rape Culture: A Proposal for Action
Lately Senators Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, have once again been calling attention to rape culture in the American military. Recently Sabrina Rubin Erdely published a graphic article about an alleged gang rape of a first-year student at the University of Virginia in 2012. The time has come for a concerted effort to fight rape culture.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, August 31, 2015 The Pope's Eco-Encyclical and Mario Vargas Llosa's New Book (REVIEW ESSAY)
The Peruvian novelist and essayist Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010. In 2012, he published a short book of essays. In 2015, his book was translated into English as NOTES ON THE DEATH OF CULTURE: ESSAYS ON SPECTACLE AND SOCIETY, translated by John King. Like Pope Francis' eco-encyclical, Vargas Llosa's book is a wide-ranging lamentation about our contemporary culture -- and both are jeremiads.
(7 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 3, 2013 Sex and the Single Jesus
Bill Keller, a self-described former Catholic, has published an op-ed column titled "Sex and the Single Priest" in the New York Times. Briefly, he argues that the Roman Catholic Church should abolish the requirement of celibacy for priests. Doing so would open the door for married priests. Keller says that there are hints that Pope Francis may be open to doing this. But I think there may be some reasons for not doing this.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 19, 2012 Reflections on the Vatican's Condemnation of Farley's Book JUST LOVE
Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican have publicly condemned Sister Margaret Farley's award-winning book JUST LOVE: A FRAMEWORK FOR CHRISTIAN SEXUAL ETHICS (2006). Because of the political activism of the conservative Catholic bishops in the U.S., not only Catholic Americans but also non-Catholic Americans should be concerned about the Catholic Church's misguided doctrines regarding sexual morality.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, September 6, 2010 An Open Letter to John Rickford of Stanford About the Ebonics Debate
Gary Simpkins' reading research shows that dialect readers help improve reading instruction for African American students. Of course reading is important for the aural-to-visual shift in cognitive processing that Walter Ong has described, which is involved in the actuation of cognitive potential.
SHARE Friday, September 19, 2014 The Way for Men Today to Experience Profound Psycho-Spiritual Rebirth (REVIEW ESSAY)
I and other OEN writers often critique conservative white men in the U.S. today. But we men who consider ourselves to be progressives and liberals should also reflect on our own psycho-spiritual development. Men in the second half of their lives should work toward their own integration and individuation. Jungian analyst M. Esther Harding, M.D., elucidates the way men need to work on the feminine spirit in their psyches.
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, March 1, 2021 An Open Letter to Pope Francis: Upgrade Your Thinking!
You, Pope Francis, are the first Jesuit pope. However, unfortunately, your Jesuit education was not excellent, to say the least. In addition, you failed to complete the doctoral dissertation in theology that you started. Consequently, at your advanced age now, you need to upgrade your thinking by carefully studying the mature thought of the American Jesuit Walter J. Ong (1912-2003; Ph.D. in English, Harvard University, 1955).
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 30, 2016 Hillary Rodham Clinton as Symbol of the 1960s
Hillary Rodham Clinton (born in 1947) may emerge as the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016. But her political journey in the 1960s and 1970s and later makes her a symbol of the 1960s. For decades now, conservatives have used anti-60s rhetoric to denounce the 1960s and 1970s. So to understand the 1960s and 1970s, we should try to grasp the import of Walter J. Ong's account of print culture 1.0 and oral culture 2.0.
SHARE Thursday, March 31, 2016 William Egginton Celebrates Cervantes' Achievement (REVIEW ESSAY)
OEN readers might want to take a step back from the news cycle by checking out young William Egginton's accessible new book THE MAN WHO INVENTED FICTION: HOW CERVANTES USHERED IN THE MODERN WORLD. When Cervantes died in 1616, the American colonies were struggling. But the emerging American culture went on to epitomize the modern world that Egginton credits Cervantes with ushering in. But what about American culture today?
SHARE Sunday, November 15, 2020 Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (1948-2020): In Memoriam
As a gentile, I celebrate here the life and work of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (1948-2020), a gifted communicator. His publications, including his two new books in 2020, remain here on earth with us as an international treasure for all people of good will in the English-speaking world to savor.
SHARE Friday, December 4, 2020 Pope Francis' Let Us Dream (REVIEW ESSAY)
If we consider Pope Francis to be a public intellectual on the world stage today, then his wonderfully accessible new book Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future (Simon & Schuster, 2020) should interest Rob Kall and others who share the pope's concern about top-down patterns of exploitation of the poor. Pope Francis urges us to use the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic as a wake-up call to undertake the path he explains.
SHARE Saturday, February 9, 2019 Our Political Polarization (BOOK REVIEW)
Do you want to be part of the outside forces that demand change from our politicians? Michael Tomasky does. Unfortunately, he frames his argument in his new book as an argument for changing the recent (1980-2016) 36% rate of political polarization to something closer to the 34% rate of polarization in the previous period (1933-1980). But with Trump as president, even such a modest change in polarization might be desirable.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 6, 2015 Donald Lazere's New Book Might Interest Progressives and Liberals (REVIEW ESSAY)
Progressives and liberals who are interested in education and political literacy might find Donald Lazere's new book POLITICAL LITERACY: DEFENDING ACADEMIC DISCOURSE AGAINST POSTMODERN PLURALISM (2015) engaging to read. He styles himself as "an unreconstructed New Leftist." His book takes me back to an earlier period in my life when I was publishing articles in composition and rhetoric and to many of my earlier interests.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 17, 2018 Vatican Document Calls for Economic Regulation
The Vatican has issued a document calling for economic regulation. The problem is the economic crisis that disrupted the 2008 presidential campaign in the United States. As a solution, the Vatican document calls for economic regulation to avoid another such economic crisis.
SHARE Monday, January 11, 2016 Dr. Larycia Hawkins of Wheaton College in Illinois
Progressives and liberals should be concerned about how the Wheaton College administration is proceeding against Dr. Larycia Hawkins. On December 10th, she posted a statement of solidarity with Muslim Americans on her Facebook page. It prompted outcries from other evangelical Protestants to the administration of the evangelical Protestant college. On January 4th, the administration initiated the process of terminating her.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 30, 2014 The Time Has Come for American Men to Manifest the Overman in Their Lives
C. G. Jung has suggested that Friedrich Nietzsche's Superman should be understood as a super-Protestant. Both Jung and Nietzsche were sons of Protestant pastors. But over against Jung's suggestion, I suggest that the Overman should be understood as post-Christian. The time has come for American men today to manifest the Overman in their lives.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 21, 2020 Thomas Cahill on The Gifts of the Jews (REVIEW ESSAY)
Thomas Cahill's book The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels (Talese/ Doubleday, 1998) enables us to see clearly that not everyone in our contemporary American culture today thinks and feels in the ways that Cahill credits the ancient Israelites with teaching us to think and feel. For example, President Donald ("Tweety") Trump doesn't.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 17, 2009 Stop American Evil, President Obama!
For humanitarian reasons, President Obama should stop American involvement in the supposedly humanitarian wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Too many people have already been killed in these two unjust wars. But the two top al Qaeda criminals still have not been captured and brought to justice.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, January 27, 2014 At least Stephen Mansfield's book title doesn't sound cowardly
Hanna Rosin has advanced the unfortunate feminist spirit of misandry in her book THE END OF MEN. Stephen Mansfield sets out to counter her misandry in his new book titled MANSFIELD'S BOOK OF MANLY MEN, which is aimed primarily at conservative white Protestant Evalgelical boys and men -- the voters Karl Rove keeps hoping will vote and help put more Republicans in office. Fortunately, Mansfield's book is free of misogyny.
SHARE Saturday, November 7, 2015 Conservative Journalist Tod Lindberg's New Book (REVIEW ESSAY)
Progressives and liberals are aware that movement conservatives tend to use fear and fear-mongering to advance movement conservatism in the United States. In the accessible new book THE HEROIC HEART: GREATNESS ANCIENT AND MODERN (2015), the conservative journalist Tod Lindberg cherry picks his way through a vast sweep of our Western cultural history to help advance movement conservatism in the U.S.
SHARE Wednesday, December 9, 2009 What Kind of Man Are You, President Obama -- Another LBJ?
President Obama is escalating American involvement in the war in Afghanistan, just as President Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam. But Obama should stop following LBJ's example and start following President Kennedy's example of resisting military ventures. Just as LBJ's war in Vietnam was a hopeless cause, so too Obama's war in Afghanistan is a hopeless cause.
SHARE Monday, November 17, 2014 The Islamic State, the Caliphate, and Theocons
The Islamic State has recently beheaded Peter Kassig, an American aid worker and former Army Ranger. President Barack Obama has vowed to degrade the Islamic State -- evidently, through air strikes. But the Islamic State is making a powerful appeal to Muslim young men to join the cause by invoking the dream of the caliphate. I want to explore the caliphate and related ideas from European history.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 16, 2018 R. Marie Griffith Surveys a Century of Moral Combat Involving Christians (REVIEW ESSAY)
At times, it is a good practice to step back from the latest controversies in the news and consider the larger picture. In her new book Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics (Basic Books, 2017), R. Marie Griffith surveys a century or so of certain sex-related controversies in American culture and politics. Her book is well-researched and well-written.
SHARE Thursday, June 13, 2019 Martin Buber Can Explain the Trouble with Trump (REVIEW ESSAY)
The Irish scholar Phil Huston's book Martin Buber's Journey to Presence (Fordham University Press, 2007) concentrates on Buber's early work before his famous 1923 book I and Thou. Her lengthy discussion of Buber's 1913 pivotal work Daniel: [Five] Dialogues on Realization (pages 106-184) can help us explain the trouble with Trump.
SHARE Thursday, August 13, 2015 A Dialogue with Pope Francis' Eco-Encyclical (REVIEW ESSAY)
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the United States in September. In his major public statements during his visit, he most likely will develop certain themes from his recent encyclical letter about climate change. In his eco-encyclical, he repeatedly says that he welcomes dialogue about the views he expresses in it. So in the spirit of back-forth dialogue, I will highlight certain points he makes and comment on them.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 29, 2014 Pope Francis Urges Encounter and Dialogue (REVIEW ESSAY)
Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, urges encounter and dialogue. When dialogue is not unsuccessful, it can be frutiful and transformative. But what exactly makes dialogue fruitful and transformative? In the book TRANSFORMATION: EMERGENCE OF THE SELF, Jungian psychotherapist Murray Stein discusses the psychodynamics involved in transformation and transformative relationships.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, April 9, 2018 Pope Francis Reminds Catholics of the Call to Holiness
Pope Francis has issued an apostolic exhortation reminding practicing Catholics that they are called to holiness. Because I am not a practicing Catholic, I would be delighted to see practicing Catholics respond positively to the call to holiness. But I suspect that certain American Catholics will criticize the pope's reminder of the call to holiness. As to non-Catholic Americans, we'll have to wait and see how they respond.
(7 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 24, 2013 Will the Pope's Interview Lead Dolan and Other Catholic Theocons to Change a Wee Bit?
On September 19th, the Jesuit-sponsored magazine AMERICA and 15 other Jesuit-sponsored magazines published a wide-ranging interview with Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit by training. The usually combative Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has praised the "magnificent interview" as a "breath of fresh air." But will the pope's interview lead Dolan and other American Catholic theocons to change a wee bit? Stay tuned.
SHARE Sunday, September 2, 2018 What Should Pope Francis Do Now?
Pope Francis has no clearcut good choices about how to proceed to respond to Archbishop Carlo Vigano's allegations. But Pope Francis has urged Catholics to engage in encounter and dialogue. Now, if he were to say anything publicly about Vigano's allegations, Vigano would no doubt reply online with a written rejoinder. That would be a back-and-forth exchange of views -- a kind of dialogue. But it would be risky for the pope.
SHARE Friday, December 8, 2017 Senator Al Franken of Minnesota to Resign
On December 7, 2017, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota announced that he will resign soon. In my estimate, he made the right decision under the circumstances. Nevertheless, I want to comment on his case and certain other cases involving elected politicians.
SHARE Monday, December 28, 2020 Fredrik Logevall's New Book About JFK, 1917-1956 (REVIEW ESSAY)
Swedish-born Harvard historian Fredrik Logevall has published a new biography about the life and times of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) titled JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956 (Random House, 2020). Logevall's book is not without merit. After the onslaught of President Donald ("Tweety") Trump for more than four years now, the years 1917-1956 seem almost pre-historic. but refreshing to read about.
SHARE Thursday, October 22, 2015 On Harry G. Frankfurt's Book ON INEQUALITY (Review Essay)
Progressives and liberals concerned about the inequality of wealth of the super-rich might want to look at Harry G. Frankfurt's short new book ON INEQUALITY. Basically, he argues that we should not be concerned about wealth inequality, but about eliminating poverty. But would it be practical for progressives and liberals to talk up the idea of eliminating poverty in the United States?
SHARE Sunday, November 20, 2016 Humility, Anyone?
Did you hear about the Princeton University pollster who ate a bug on CNN as punishment for overstating the likelihood of Hillary Rodham Clinton winning the 2016 presidential election? Then he published an op-ed in the New York Times about his overstatement and promised to teach his spring course at Princeton with "a heavy dose of humility." Imagine what the world would be like if more Americans cultivated humility.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 25, 2013 Antoinette Tuff and the Prevention of Suicide by Cop
Antoinette Tuff prevented a young man from committing suicide by cop and possibly killing her and others in the process. She told him that she understood how he felt because she had felt the same way after her husband had left her. Her non-death loss in her life moved the young man to surrender to the police. But we Americans should do more to understand how non-death loss causes depression and suicidal thoughts.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 1, 2020 James Bernauer's Jesuit Kaddish (REVIEW ESSAY)
The American Jesuit philosopher James William Bernauer (born in New York City in 1944; Ph.D. in philosophy, SUNY Stony Brook, 1981; now professor emeritus in philosophy at Boston College) has published the hew 2020 book Jesuit Kaddish: Jesuits, Jews, and Holocaust Remembrance -- the cover of which features a photo of the Polish-born American Rabbi Abraham Heschel and the German Jesuit biblical scholar Cardinal Augustin Bea.
(4 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 15, 2020 Pope Francis' Vision for the World
The Italo-Argentine Pope Francis (born in 1936; elected pope in 2013) is not a hippie. Indeed, he may not have heard the English hippie John Lennon's 1971 song "Imagine." But Pope Francis calls on us to imagine the utopian world he envisions in his new 43,000-word social encyclical.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 20, 2015 An Open Letter to the Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor of California
As a follow up to my OEN piece "SOS to American Politicians: Save Our Schools!" I am writing an open letter to the Honorable Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, urging him to establish a national showcase multi-year program using Gary Simpkins' approach to reading instruction in the public schools in Oakland. John Rickford, the African American linguist at Stanford University, is familiar with Gary Simpkins' work.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, September 10, 2020 Can Pope Francis Re-Form the Roman Catholic Church?
After seven years of the pontificate of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, the Italian Jesuit Antonio Spadaro examines the pope's way of governing the church in his effort to re-form the church. In a kind of play on words, Fr. Spadaro turns to the pope's Jesuit formation as the key to understanding his efforts to re-form the church.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 31, 2020 Walter J. Ong Tells It Like It Is
With all the Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations in 2020, combined with all the antics of President Donald ("Tweety") Trump, I am happy to see 2020 draw to an end. To ring out the old year and ring in the new one, I want to urge you to read Dr. Joanna Gardner's online essay "The Politics of Literacy and Orality," in which she draws on Walter J. Ong's summative 1982 book Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of Word.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 3, 2021 An Easter Meditation on Pope John XXIII (REVIEW ESSAY)
My Easter meditation is about the overweight Pope John XXIII (1881-1963; elected pope in 1958), the pope of my Catholic youth (my four high school years and my first year in college -- in Catholic educational institutions). Pope John XXIII was the pope during the scary Cuban missile crisis October 14-28, 1962. He also called and then convened the momentous Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Roman Catholic Church.
SHARE Monday, February 15, 2021 Rutger Bregman's Hopeful Evolutionary History of Humankind (REVIEW ESSAY)
If you like truth in advertising, you should like the English title of the Dutch journalist Rutger Bregman's book Humankind: A Hopeful History, translated by Elizabeth Manton and Erica Moore (New York, Boston, London: Little, Brown, 2020; orig. Dutch ed., 2019). Starting with our pre-historic hunter-gatherer nomad ancestors, he constructs a hopeful evolutionary history of our human species, which I highlight here.
SHARE Wednesday, November 5, 2014 Katha Pollitt Favors Abortion Rights for Women (BOOK REVIEW)
Unfortunately, anti-abortion zealots have made significant headway in curbing abortion rights for women. Columnist Katha Pollitt hopes to move more Americans to support about rights with her new book PRO in favor of abortion rights. Along the way of making her overall case for abortion rights, she skewers numerous well-known conservatives for various things they've said about women.
(6 comments) SHARE Friday, September 18, 2015 SOS to American Politicians: Save Our Schools!
What do standardized IQ tests measure? Are the results on standardized IQ tests important for any reason? Let me explain how I see standardized IQ tests and IQ test results. If my view has any merit, then my hypothesis about IQ test results may be worth testing. My hypothesis is testable. But it would take big bucks to test it properly.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 3, 2020 Political Authority Comes from the Bottom Up? (REVIEW ESSAY)
According to the prolific English Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (born in 1948), "Political authority, for the Torah, comes from the bottom up; it is not imposed top down (as in the doctrine of the 'divine right of kings')." Say what? He says this in his 2019 book Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant (page 173), a volume in his Covenant & Conversation book series. I discuss this point and certain other points from his 2019 book.
SHARE Friday, February 12, 2021 Pollster Ronald F. Inglehart on the Recent Decline in Religion (REVIEW ESSAY)
The American pollster Ronald F. Inglehart celebrates the decline in religion in his new 2021 book Religion's Sudden Decline: What's Causing It, and What Comes Next? (Oxford University Press). By religion's sudden decline, he means the decline in polling indexes between 2007 and 2020 -- the year in which the coronavirus pandemic emerged. But between 1981 and 2007, most countries polled in the indexes had become more religious.
SHARE Sunday, November 6, 2016 Pope Francis Reaffirms the Ban on Women Priests
For understandable reasons, OEN readers may be preoccupied with the 2016 presidential election. Compared to it, Pope Francis' recent reaffirmation of the Roman Catholic Church's ban on women priests may have escaped the notice of many OEN readers. So I want to explore certain issues involved in that ban.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, February 10, 2016 E.J. Dionne's New Book about Radical Conservatives (REVIEW ESSAY)
Progressives and liberals who are interested in following the old military advice to know the enemy might want to read E.J. Dionne's new book WHY THE RIGHT WENT WRONG: CONSERVATISM -- FROM GOLDWATER TO THE TEA PARTY AND BEYOND. Dionne says the right went wrong by following the radical conservative Senator Barry Goldwater, who lost the 1964 presidential election, instead of the moderate Republican President Eisenhower.
SHARE Thursday, October 1, 2020 The Paranoid Style in American Politics (REVIEW ESSAY)
President Donald ("Tweety") Trump is the most prominent practitioner today of the deliberately divisive paranoid style of Us versus Them. But if Americans of goodwill today want to aoid succumbing to the paranoid style in American politics, what can they do to counter it in their own minds? Coleridge suggests how we can do this. I hasten to add that he does not offer a foolproof plan. But it's a plan worth considering.
SHARE Tuesday, March 16, 2021 Massimo Faggioli on Vatican II and on American Catholicism (REVIEW ESSAY)
After I published my OEN article "Massimo Faggioli on President Joe Biden, Pope Francis, and Catholicism Today" on February 20, 2021, I decided to take a look at Prof. Dr. Faggioli's 350-page 2015 book A Council for the Global Church: Receiving Vatican II in History (Fortress Press). It was published to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Roman Catholic Church.
SHARE Tuesday, April 9, 2019 Rabbi Heschel Writes With Moral Clarity That Pope Francis Lacks
On March 28, 2019, the Jewish columnist David Brooks (born in 1961) highlighted Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's 1951 book The Sabbath in a column in the New York Times. Subsequently, I read his short book. In it, he uses a time/space contrast with moral clarity to critique not only modern Western culture but also pre-modern cultures. He writes with moral clarity that Pope Francis lacks in his critique of modern culture.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, June 13, 2016 Secondary Oral Culture Roils Our Psyches Deep Down
Walter J. Ong's account of the communications media that accentuate sound in our contemporary secondary oral culture can help us understand why many conservatives today, including many white males who support the wealthy developer Donald J. Trump of New York.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, February 11, 2015 Can Deliberate Human Destructiveness Be Staved Off? (REVIEW ESSAY)
The news media often report examples of deliberate human destructiveness. But can such destructiveness be staved off? In the book RETURN OF THE GODDESS, Edward C. Whitmont, M.D., argues that it is possible to stave off human destructiveness. But it won't be easy to do, especially for men. For men to stave off their destructive potentialities, they will need to integrate the archetypal feminine in their psyches.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 2, 2016 Progressives and Liberals Should Keep an Eye on the Republican Presidential Primaries
Progressives and liberals should keep an eye on the Republican presidential primaries. For understandable reasons, progressives and liberals may not be interested in the Republican presidential contestants. But one of them will emerge as the Republican Party's candidate. Thus far, Donald J. Trump has emerged as the front-runner in the primaries because of the insurgency of anti-60s rage-aholics in the Republican Party.
SHARE Saturday, December 19, 2020 Barbara H. Rosenwein on Anger (REVIEW ESSAY)
In Barbara H. Rosenwein's new 2020 book Anger: The Conflicted History of an Emotion (Yale University Press), she exuberantly and triumphantly expresses her unqualified enthusiasm for the conceptual construct of emotional community. Perhaps her enthusiasm for it is an example of what Pope Francis means by overflow. But she does settle down a bit in her discussion of James Madison on political factions in her last chapter.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 15, 2014 Tanner Colby's tough-minded look at integration
Tanner Colby undertakes a tough-minded look at integration. He focuses primarily on busing. But he also looks at housing, because it is involved in the formation and funding of neighborhood schools. Because the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., helped inspire the dream of racial integration, Colby refers to the Children of the Dream and the Children of White Flight. Overall, the results of busing have not been impressive.
SHARE Tuesday, February 23, 2021 Heather McGhee on Progressive Alternative Thinking (REVIEW ESSAY)
The African American activist Heather McGhee (born in 1980) of the progressive American think-tank Demos has just published her first book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone [in the United States] and How We Can Prosper Together (New York: One World/ Random House/ Penguin Random House, 2021), a work of non-fiction in which some names and identifying details have been changed. I highlight and comment on her book.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, March 25, 2013 In Memoriam: Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
Chinua Achebe (1930-2013), the Nigerian novelist, was the author of the widely read novel THINGS FALL APART (1958) and its sequel NO LONGER AT EASE (1960), which deserves to be more widely read. Achebe was also the author of a controversial essay about Joseph Conrad's novel HEART OF DARKNESS. Even though I came to disagree with Achebe about Conrad's novel, Achebe's essay prompted me to think through exactly why I disagreed.
SHARE Tuesday, October 6, 2015 Clifford W. DeSilva's First Book (REVIEW ESSAY)
Progessives and liberals who are interested in working further on their psycho-spiritual development and growth might be interested in Clifford W. DeSilva's new self-help book NOT A SERPENT, NOT A ROPE (2015). In it, Clifford W. DeSilva recounts a number of stories that he thinks are suitable for contemplating because one story may "worm its way into your heart and break down barriers to the divine" (quoted on page 22).
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 2, 2013 Tea Party Anarchists Challenge the Caveman (aka President Obama)
The Tea Party Republicans in the House have shut down the federal government. Will President Obama (aka the Caveman) cave and give in to their demands? If he does, then what will they demand in the upcoming vote on the debt limit? If the Tea Party anarchists win out against Obama in these two crucial battles, then happy days will be here again for the Republicans in 2014 and 2016. I hope that Obama does not cave.
(4 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 30, 2014 Phyllis Zagano has drafted a pastoral letter about men for Pope Francis to issue
Pope Francis has charmed the media. But Phyllis Zagano, a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter online, wants him to issue a pastoral letter about men. So she has drafted and published one for him to issue. Some of her criticisms of men may be reasonable. No doubt if the pope were to make such criticisms of men, the media would report them. But her criticisms involve issues individual men would would have to address.
SHARE Wednesday, December 9, 2020 Thomas Cahill and Pope Francis Celebrate Oral Cultural History (REVIEW ESSAY)
In the 1995 book How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome [in 476] to the Rise of Medieval Europe, the Irish American author Thomas Cahill even-handedly celebrates Irish oral and written cultural history in the Dark Ages. In this way, he anticipates the spirit of Pope Francis' 2020 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia (Beloved Amazon).
SHARE Thursday, March 25, 2021 John Cornwell on Pope Francis' Papacy and Its Controversies (REVIEW ESSAY)
The seasoned English Vatican journalist John Cornwell (born in 1940) has just published an incisive and admirably accessible 300-page book about Pope Francis' papacy and its controversies titled Church, Interrupted: Havoc & Hope: The Tender Revolt of Pope Francis (San Francisco: Chronicle Prism, 2021). One of its many strengths is that Cornwell includes sharply worded commentaries by both conservative and liberal Catholics.
SHARE Sunday, January 10, 2021 Will Our American Democracy Die or Survive?
In the 2018 book How Democracies Die (Crown), the Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt alerted us to the threat that President Donald ("Tweety") Trump poses to our American democracy. Recently, he incited a mob of domestic terrorists to storm the Capitol, resulting in five deaths, including the death of a police officer murdered by the terrorists. Will our American democracy now die -- or survive?
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, July 19, 2015 An Argument Against the Taxpayer-Funded Research Advocated by Richard A. Friedman, M.D.
Writing in the New York Times, Richard A. Friedman, M.D., a psychiatrist at a prestigious New York City medical school, advocates increasing taxpayer-funded well-controlled psychotherapy clinical trials. But I see no good reason for increasing public for such research. No one way works for everybody. There's no Procrustean bed. Each person needs to find ways that work for him or her.
SHARE Sunday, November 22, 2015 Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Confronts Religious Violence (REVIEW ESSAY)
The recent attacks on Paris have made us aware, once again, of religious violence. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks confronts religious violence in his new book NOT IN GOD'S NAME: CONFRONTING RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE (2015). If you are interested in the religious violence of radical jihadists and suicide bombers, you will most likely find his new book enormously thought-provoking. I did. But I don't find everything he says entirely convincing.
SHARE Tuesday, September 1, 2020 Attuning Ourselves to the Creative Universe (REVIEW ESSAY)
Forrest G. Robinson's book Love's Story Told: A Life of Henry A. Murray (Harvard University Press) tells in detail the sad story of the secret extramarital love affair for more than forty years of Dr. Murray, M.D., Ph.D. (1893-1988) and Mrs. Christiana Morgan (1897-1967), both of the Harvard Psychological Clinic. In the 1920s, each of them was analyzed in Zurich by the Swiss psychiatrist Dr. C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961).
(5 comments) SHARE Sunday, February 10, 2013 Can Democrats Stop Republicans from Winning Big in 2014 and 2016?
Can Democrats stop Republicans from winning big in the 2014 and 2016 elections? the outcome of the 2014 and 2016 elections will depend of who prevail within each political party -- the realists who want to win elections, or the purists who want to hold out for ideological purity, even at the expense of losing elections.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, April 19, 2010 Pope Benedict Speaks About Penance, But Without Any Specifics!
At a Mass closed to the public, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about penance. But he "didn't specifically mention priest sex abuse" or specific actions by bishops or specific penance. He did quote Peter the Apostle on the "need to obey God instead of men." So I would urge Roman Catholics and others not to obey the men in the Vatican about abortion in the first trimester, because they do not have a monopoly on moral reasoning.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, July 1, 2015 The Pope Is Coming! The Pope Is Coming!
The itinerary for Pope Francis' visit to the United States in September has been released. But it's not hard to predict certain themes that he will advance in his various prepared speeches.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 31, 2013 BOOK REVIEW: What the World Needs Now!
What the world needs now is for more men and women to learn how to access and embody the optimal forms of the archetypes of maturity discussed by Jungian theorist Robert Moore of Chicago Theological Seminary. In Anthony de Mello's posthumously published book THE WAY TO LOVE: MEDITATIONS FOR lIFE (reissued 2012), he urges us to cultivate awareness, which can open the way for us to experience the optimal forms of maturity.
SHARE Sunday, December 20, 2020 Biden-Harris Voters, America Needs You!
Thomas B. Edsall has alerted us in his op-ed "America, We Have a Problem" in the New York Times to the problem of partisan hostility. We need all Biden-Harris voters to learn how to cope with this problem by reading and taking to heart Pope Francis' new 2020 book Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future (Simon & Schuster). In short, we need Biden-Harris voters to form a Domestic Peace Corps.
SHARE Friday, January 22, 2021 President Joseph R. Biden's Inaugural Address Highlighted
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., delivered a somber assessment of our cascading problems in his edifying inaugural address at the Capitol on January 20, 2021. But his edifying fantasy about unity may not materialize in the near future.
(3 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 13, 2013 Where Do We Stand Now? Some Cultural Considerations
We should step back for a moment from the political controversies of the day and consider the bigger picture of American culture today. Are we Americans today on the brink of entering Aldous Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD of serial hook ups and orgies? Wow! Have we ever come a long way from the Puritans! But we now have an unprecedented opportunity to work toward more meaningful social relationships in our culture.
SHARE Monday, April 12, 2010 Hold on There, Robert Samuelson! Let's Think This Through!
In his NEWSWEEK column, Robert J. Samuelson has denigrated what he styles "the politics of self-esteem." But the rhetorical tendency involved in what he describes is a tendency associated with what Aristotle refers to as epideictic rhetoric, civic rhetoric about values -- not self-esteem. Proposed legislation usually involves competing goods. As a result, debates about the various values involved are inevitable.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 8, 2013 Congress Should NOT Vote for a Military Attack on Syria to Punish Assad
For understandable reasons, President Barack Obama wants to save face. He publicly warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons to kill his own people. But chemical weapons were used to kill close to 1,500 Syrians. So Obama wants to use a limited U.S. military attack on Syria to punish the alleged culprit. As outrageous as the use of chemical weapons is, Congress should NOT vote for a military attack.
SHARE Monday, April 29, 2019 The Unexpected Abdication of Pope Benedict XVI and the Unexpected Election of Pope Francis
Are you interested in the unexpected abdication of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013 and the unexpected election of Pope Francis? If you are, then you might be interested in Gerard O'Connell's new short book The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Account of the Conclave That Changed History (Orbis Books, 2019). It is a well-informed and well-written day-by-day account -- terse and fast paced.
SHARE Thursday, March 11, 2010 With Pluck American Liberals Should Fight Today's Conservatives
American liberals today should strengthen their inner-directedness and idealism and optimism and adaptability, so that they can effectively fight the conservative challenges of our time. With pluck and a little luck, liberals should be able to prevail against today's conservatives.
SHARE Tuesday, March 29, 2016 What's Coming Next in the Republican Presidential Primary?
In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, I want to give Donald J. Trump credit for NOT taking out his male appendage and displaying it on national television to show us how big it is -- after he had boasted on national television about how big it is. By NOT doing this, he showed a modicum of restraint. More recently, he and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have exchanged barbs about their wives. So what's coming next?
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 12, 2013 TIME's Person of the Year Exemplifies Open Closure
The editors of TIME have selected Pope Francis as their Person of the Year. As they suggest, he has had an impact on our awareness in the short time that he has been pope -- thanks to all the media coverage he has received. But he did say and do things that deserved media coverage. In the way he speaks and acts, he exemplifies open closure. But it still remains to be seen if his words and example will help change the church.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 24, 2013 Profiling for the Big Debate About Government's Role
In President Ronald Reagan's first inaugural address, he said that government is the problem. However, in President Obama's second inaugural address recently he answered Reagan and his fans. So the debate has now been joined about the government's role. As we undertake to carry out this important debate, I want to profile the typical Reagan fans and the typical Obama fans in this crucial debate.
SHARE Friday, November 13, 2009 Archbishop Burke: No Communion or Church Funeral for Pro-Choice Catholics
Archbishop Raymond Burke and his followers want to punish pro-choice Catholics by denying them communion and a church funeral. But the time has come for Catholics and others to think through the dubious moral premises of the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion, before the Senate limits legalized abortion on demand in the first trimester, as the House health care bill does.
SHARE Tuesday, January 5, 2021 The Spirit of Contesting -- in Life and in Politics
For better or worse, President Donald ("Tweety") Trump excels in contesting behavior. Therefore, I propose to survey here the thought of two scholars about the spirit of contesting behavior in life and in politics: (1) the American Jesuit cultural historian Walter J. Ong (1912-2003) and (2) the self-described conservative Harvard political scientist Harvey C. Mansfield (born in 1932).
SHARE Sunday, March 7, 2010 Garry Wills Wants Liberals to Fight the Good Fight Against the National Security State
I hope that American liberals will heed Garry Wills' call to fight the good fight against the National Security State that conservatives have instituted. The National Security State overthrows our American way of life. So liberals should get their act together and muster the political courage to stand up and defend our American way of life against the conservative onslaught of the National Security State.
SHARE Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Speak Up for the Health Care Bill, President Obama!
President Obama should speak up more strongly for the health care bill. This bill is one way for the federal government to lend a helping hand to those among us who need a helping hand with health care coverage. Obama should speak up more strongly to rally voter support for the bill.
SHARE Sunday, April 11, 2021 How Radical Will Biden and Yellen Be? (Book Review)
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic's economic fallout, Americans today are re-learning the radical lessons of Keynesian economics pioneered by the Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt. If you want a refresher about Keynesian economics, I recommend the American journalist Zachary D. Carter's accessible 650-page 2020 book The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes (New York: Random House).