The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Extra, extra! News and views for Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Here are some articles, essays, and editorials that caught our attention this past week or so.*

(Image: Kerim Serdar Kutbulak/

Faith and Reason Today – “Looking back on the past quarter-century, Fides et Ratio is prophetic. Our social climate and public discourse—including our discourse within the Church—are now ruled by what the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre calls ‘the morality of emotivism.'” Believe, so that you may understand: Fides et Ratio at 25 (What We Need Now – Substack)

Church in Germany – “The synodal way focused on four areas — power, the priesthood, women in the Church, and sexuality — and culminated in a series of votes that set the local Church on a collision course with the Vatican.” The battle for Catholicism’s soul in Germany: An interview with Emeka Ani (The Pillar)

Fr. James Martin’s Flawed Soteriology – “The ministry’s dismissal of biblical verses that condemn homosexual acts, in keeping with the ‘radical inclusiveness’ of Jesus, ignores another fundamental element of Christ’s Gospel message to all sinners: the need for repentance.” Father Martin’s ‘Outreach’ Ministry to ‘LGBT’ Catholics Wants to Burn the Bridge to Authentic Salvation (National Catholic Register)

Social Justice – “Simone Weil House is part of the anarchist Catholic Worker movement. A household name among peace activists, the movement is finding rebirth in its 90th year by returning to its roots.” The Anarchism of the Catholic Worker (The Nation)

Louis de Wohl – “The struggles and heroism of the saints are the subject of his action-packed historical novels.” Louis de Wohl and the Power of Stories (National Review)

Assigned at Birth – “Americans aren’t buying the trans fairytale about magical, shapeshifting creatures who can will themselves into anything they want and live happily ever after.” Watching the Trans Bubble Burst (Commentary)

The Soul and Neuroscience – “There are things that cannot be reduced to the biological plane. So, while the study of these phenomena in neuroscience can be (and is) enriching, exciting, and beautiful, it cannot adjudicate the nature of those realities.” Wonder, the faith, and the brain (The Pillar)

Imprudent Vehemence – “Propaganda is perhaps never worse than at times of war. That is when government is most likely to destroy precious domestic freedoms.” David Hume’s Warning on Forever Wars (Law & Liberty)

Dignity and Goodness – “What better counterpoint to an ideology of power and conflict than humble Joseph? What better antidote to individualism than the solidarity of the Holy Family?” Men at Work (The Catholic Thing)

The Ordinariate in England – “Nearly 14 years after Pope Benedict XVI set up a canonical structure for former Anglicans to come into communion with the Catholic Church while retaining their distinctive Anglican patrimony, good fruits from this initiative are emerging . . . ” The Head of the Ordinariate for Former Anglicans in England and Wales Assesses Its Past, Present and Future (National Catholic Register)

Trained Marxists – “Maoism was the crudest and cruelest mass movement of repudiation to take on a global presence. “American Maoism (The American Mind)

Thomas’ Great Nephew – “The Thomases—quietly and honorably—devoted twelve years of their lives to helping a beloved child in desperate need of love, support, and guidance.” In Defense of Justice Thomas (Powerline)

Our Religious Confidence – “How many more doctrinally chaotic synods must we endure? We need the firm certainties of faith rooted in history to guide us to happiness in this life and the life to come.” How the Liturgy Will Save the Church and Souls (Catholic Culture)

(*The posting of any particular news item or essay is not an endorsement of the content and perspective of said news item or essay.)

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  1. @ The Soul and Neuroscience
    She [Neuroscientist Catholic theologian Carozza] hoped a man would laugh if he was told that his passion for his wife elicited from a photo is a neuro firing in your nucleus accumbens [neural interface between motivation and action].
    From this writer’s philosophical perception, a soul draws a complete apprehension of another person when intellect is actualized in tandem with memory and the intent of the will that transcends simplistic reduction to neurology [although as Ms Carozza says that doesn’t deny a neural firing].
    Free will is approached by Sofia Carozza from the scientific criticism of reductionism. Which in principle is true. Although, there’s the reality of unpredictability discussed recently with another commentator who argued we cannot predict our next thought. My response was you can, if for example we’re engaged in an intentional pattern of thought. Although there is a component of unpredictability since we can suddenly change course without seeming provocation, stimuli. Saint Augustine [Confessions] spoke of that regarding the possibility of suddenly abandoning the faith. Certainly, an unpleasant consideration for the faithful. But Augustine is correct. Although the occurrence as such is neither chance nor accidental – rather the decision is in the will.
    What that demonstrates is that Man, [unlike animals, intelligent creatures who possess intelligence, not free will and reason, thus are determined to behavior patterns] is not a Skinnerian creature determined by environment, or even past experience. Rather, that he is free to determine his future.
    Man’s soul similar to his creator is in a true sense creative in his thought and actions. A feature not found in base physical life. For Man, created in God’s image that creative nature, or freedom is the ontological likeness Man has with God necessary for the exchange of love, love inherently and always is a free gift. Denial of God is actually a reduction of our freedom. Freedom to be the beneficiary of all that is beautiful and good exchanged for love of self. Love of our Creator then is by nature the greatest affirmation of our freedom.

  2. @ The Soul and Neuroscience
    We read: “Freedom is not something that we can localize and quantify in the brain.” Indeed, the deception in the West began with Descartes who chose (!) to observe reality from the outside (cerebral schizophrenia?), and then dislocated the soul as the “ghost in the machine.”

    Instead, it’s more like God, of whom St. Augustine observed: “If you understand God, what you understand isn’t God.” Likewise, however a neuroscientist might choose to define the soul, it is always something more. Even his brain alone, is always less than his mind.

  3. @Church in Germany
    The thing has already spread. From the combined Assembly in 1789 (clergy, nobles and commoners together), to the combined voting of der Synodal Way (bishops with the lay Central Committee), to now combined bishops/lay voting at the self-validating Synod on Synodality. Clever fait accompli, that. Meanwhile, and despite at least three warnings on paper from the Vatican, the German Batzing continues to go his own way undieturd.

  4. @ Faith and Reason Today
    Augustine and his famous words Crede, ut intelligas, Believe, so that you may understand, a Michael Polanyi major premise in the pursuit of religious truth (Archbishop Chaput). At first glance it seems contradictory, forced belief. On further thought we’re reminded of Saint Anselm, Lord make me love you that I might know, and know you that I might love you.
    Faith and Reason will do that. Love already possesses its object [according to the cognoscenti Aquinas, Augustine, Anselm et al]. How can we love something without knowledge? Although, with God, there’s a mysterious ‘knowledge’ that can’t be articulated. As if the soul knows something I don’t. Now with reason and the pursuit of truth aren’t we dealing with a similarity?
    All knowledge leads to the First Principle. God. As Chaput suggests in quoting Del Noce the pursuit of truth must require acceptance of premises, permanent principles that aren’t erased historically, as they are with our contemporary historicity faux principle time is greater than space. Knowledge of higher truth, its acquisition, anticipates a form of prescient knowledge. Alasdair MacIntyre would say [After Virtue] that where we’re off track today is placing sentiment in all its fawning, dishonest variations above reason. Nothing antithetical to its object can succeed in the pursuit of truth.

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