But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.  1 Peter 3: 14-16

The Underground Thomist - Apologetic Report
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 23:00

What Your Recommenders Need to Know

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If you are a person of faith seeking admission to grad school, more power to you!  But be sure that the persons whom you ask to write letters of recommendation for you exercise caution.

I once received a note from an acquaintance at a highly ranked religious university, who was flabbergasted that the student he had recommended for graduate

 

Surely the soul of Friedrich Nietzsche is pierced with lances whenever a page of his work is touched by an interpreter.  He has forever lost the chance to make himself clear.  He has been praised as a great thinker, dismissed as a mediocre poet, derided as a fountain of lunacy; his thought has been classified under every heading from

Sunday, 31 January 2016 23:00

The Future of the Life of the Mind (2)

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Question:

I just wanted to write to say thank you for “The Future of the Life of the Mind,” and for your references to the Sertillanges book in other blog posts.  Encouragement in the “traditional” intellectual life is rare.

I’m also encouraged by your observation that intellectual organizations these days are "all

Saturday, 30 January 2016 23:00

Passion

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There are moments when I could imagine being a lexicographer.  One of the most interesting stories of the last few centuries must be how rapturous intensity of feeling came to be regarded as a good thing rather than a bad one, and the terms we use to describe it became words of praise.

This is especially true of the word

Friday, 29 January 2016 23:00

In God We Trust – Who, Me?

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Question:

Can you suggest – for starters -- just one thing to read about contemporary religion clause jurisprudence?  Have you written anything about it?  And what did the Framers themselves mean by the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses?

Reply:

Just one thing?  Sure:  Read Russell Hittinger, "The Supreme Court v.

Thursday, 28 January 2016 23:00

The Coming of the Demagogue

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Abraham Lincoln remarked in his second inaugural address that neither side had wanted the civil war.  “All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. ... Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.”

Monday, 25 January 2016 23:00

The Future of the Life of the Mind

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If you think you are called to be a scholar of the liberal arts, I encourage you.  But let me rattle your thinking a little about how to do it.

When I was in grad school, that sort of young person assumed that there was one main way to pursue the life of the mind:  To become an academic -- probably a college or university professor. 

Sunday, 24 January 2016 23:00

How My Law Profs Talk about Rights

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Question:

My question is really double.  Or triple.  First, disparagement of natural law has been a common theme in most of my law school courses.  I expected that.  What I didn’t expect is that everyone calls natural law theory “natural rights theory.”  Is there a historical or ideological reason for this

Wednesday, 20 January 2016 23:00

Baloney Meters

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“Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody's system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody's sense of reality: to what, if left to themselves, common men would call common sense.”  --  G.K. Chesterton

Everyone carries a personal baloney-meter in his mind.  I'm speaking of the useful

The new Hungarian ambassador to the Court of St. Peter, Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen, who wrote a dissertation on Thomism, comments in an interview about why Thomistic philosophy disappeared for a while in the twentieth century:

"I found that the Thomistic philosophy that I wrote about was always closely linked to Thomistic theology.  And

Sunday, 17 January 2016 23:00

Angels and Confirmation Bias

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Question:

Suppose someone suddenly gets sick, pulls off the road, and witnesses a three-car pile-up that he would have been involved in otherwise.  Would he betray confirmation bias if he concluded that his guardian angel had assisted him?

Reply:

It is not unusual to pull off the road because of sudden illness, it is not unusual for three-car

Wednesday, 13 January 2016 23:00

Hedonism

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Philosophical hedonists think that in the final analysis, the good is nothing but what we desire, and the only thing we actually desire is pleasure.   Did you think you desired love, knowledge, meaning, friendship, or friendship with God?  No, you only desire the pleasure of those things.

Most of my students find this argument

Tuesday, 12 January 2016 23:00

Change of Heart in Confucius

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After speaking of the duties between sovereign and minister, father and son, husband and wife, elder brother and younger, and friend and friend, Confucius writes gracefully, “Some are born with the knowledge of those duties; some know them by study; and some acquire the knowledge after a painful feeling of their ignorance.”

By those who

Monday, 11 January 2016 23:00

Which Diversity Matters (If Any)?

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Julie R. Posselt, an assistant professor in the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan, has written a new book, Inside Graduate Admissions, about what she observed after obtaining permission to sit in during the meetings of the graduate admissions committees of six highly-ranked departments at

Sunday, 10 January 2016 23:00

Putting a Burr under His Saddle

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Today is another reader letter day.

Question:

During the holidays, I had the opportunity of visiting my hometown and attending a high school reunion.  Since it was a Christian school, naturally there was a religious service preceding the reunion proper.  One of the organizers -- who did not participate in the service -- approached me

Saturday, 09 January 2016 23:00

Remorseless

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Everyone has a conscience.

But most psychologists think that people with “antisocial personality disorder” don’t.

For example, Robert D. Hare says they are “completely lacking in conscience and feelings for others,” so that they “selfishly take what they want and do as they please,” violating norms

Friday, 08 January 2016 23:00

Equal Insanity Under Law

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“Women ... have the talent, capacity, and right ‘to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation.’  Their ability to realize their full potential ... is intimately connected to ‘their ability to control their reproductive lives.’  Thus, legal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion

Wednesday, 06 January 2016 23:00

Getting Well

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The natural restorative faculties are double-edged swords.  Although their natural tendency is to fight illness and infection, they can also bring about new harm.  Excessive fever and inflammation may cause organ damage and death.

I have been speaking of the restorative faculties of the body, but the soul also has restorative faculties,

Wednesday, 06 January 2016 23:00

Women

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A recent panel of the daily comic strip The Lockhorns depicts the wife saying to the husband, with a knowing smile, “Of course I understand you, Leroy – what would you like to know?”

Both men and women tend to assume that women understand men better than men understand either women or themselves.

Plainly this is not true in all

Tuesday, 05 January 2016 23:00

From the Undiscovered Notes of John Bunyan

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I wrote this little fable in the style of the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress some years ago to dispel the oppression incident to the writing of a book review.

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I dreamed that when Amoralist saw that he could neither make Pilgrim turn back by the blows of his hammer, nor pierce him with his darts, he left him for

Monday, 04 January 2016 23:00

Tribute

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So it went for years:  Every summertime when school was out, almost every day, the little girl ran down the hill to see my wife.  She taught the child how to bake and sweep a floor, showed her how to say grace before a meal, encouraged her to read and work hard at school, gave her snacks when she helped with the chores, and sat in the

Sunday, 03 January 2016 23:00

Triage

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The writer doesn’t say so, but I think she was responding in part to the post “Punishing Singles.”

Question:

I think that when you show why single parents or gay parents are not as good for children as a normal couple would be, you might overlook the number of children who have much worse growing environments.  As you yourself

Thursday, 31 December 2015 23:00

The War Against the Sexes

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Book:  On the Meaning of Sex

Although the temperamental differences between men and women cause friction, they are also what make us attractive to each other.  We like the difference.  Mostly we laugh about it.  Human life is a much more profound affair because there are two kinds of us; but also more musical, more colorful, and

Wednesday, 30 December 2015 23:00

Same Diff

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Protesting the classical understanding of marriage, a young man said to me, “What two guys have with each other is the same as what I have with my wife.”

I take him at his word.  If he insists that what he and the young woman “have with each other” has nothing to do with the polarity and complementarity of the sexes,

Tuesday, 29 December 2015 23:00

“If I Were a Nightingale”

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Nightingale’s song

Last Monday, and again yesterday, I discussed a colleague’s anecdote about the insistence of his students that human life has no purpose.  In amazement, he asked, “So, if I were to tell you that the Westminster Confession says the chief end of man is to glorify God and love him forever, you would say I was