Author: David Cloutier

Distinguish but Don’t Divide

I hate watching Catholics argue publicly over one another’s Catholicism, especially in the context of partisan politics. See what the Constantinian temptation does to us! But what might helpfully come out of the Podesta emails is a recognition that Catholicism remains an important, live concern for both parties. Thus, for the good of the Church as well as the political order, it would be nice to think maybe we could start doing a better job of understanding one another and figuring out how to work in common for a lot that is worth working in common for, plus figuring...

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The Moral Significance of a Tax Return?

The primary moral significance of the past weekend’s revelations about Donald Trump’s tax returns is, of course, the candidate’s fundamentally deceptive stance on the issue. If his tax returns display his “genius,” then why has he not simply released them long ago? It is the latest event in a seemingly endless stream that displays Trump’s dangerously incompetent management style, which (as Ross Douthat suggested again this past Sunday) is by far the most decisive reason he should not be anywhere near the Oval Office. Yet the substance of the issue is also instructive. At a most basic level, a...

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26th Sunday of Ordinary Time: False Magic

Amos 6:1a, 4-7, 1 Tim 6:11-16, Luke 16:19-31 Some biblical passages (like last week’s Gospel of the dishonest steward) are hard to figure out. Not this week. It’s not really hard to figure out that Jesus is preaching from the same playbook as the prophet Amos: offering severe judgment to those who live lives of comfort – some might say luxury – and ignore the nameless, suffering poor. Jesus’s naming of the poor man, but not the rich one, is a subtle indication of whom God notices. Just prior to today’s passage, Paul’s letter to Timothy states famously “the...

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Fossil Fuel Privilege

Over at dotcommonweal the other day, I commented on a study that showed how little people are willing to pay to get a cleaner energy supply. Even the majority who express concern about global warming are very reluctant to put their money where their mouth is and make a sacrifice to change our direction. This inability to sacrifice even a little of our way of life in order to address the monumental problem has been brought out more personally for me in the last few months. For over a decade, I’ve lived a car-dependent life. I lived in places...

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Jacobs’ Lament: Can Christians Be Public Intellectuals?

Charlie’s post from yesterday raises a larger fundamental question about the place of Christian thought in public discourse. It directed me to Alan Jacobs’ remarkable essay in the most recent Harper’s, offering a genealogy and lament on the decline (or perhaps disappearance) of the Christian intellectual. It is certainly a must-read. In cataloguing the likes of Richard John Neuhaus, Cornel West, and Marilynne Robinson, he suggests that no one in fact succeeds in bringing a critical edge to their public discourse. For example, eloquent as Robinson is, he points out that publishing an essay on fear and a gun-obsessed...

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