Author: David Cloutier

First Principles in the Trump Era

In his essay “Politics, Philosophy, and the Common Good,” Alasdair MacIntyre mounts an argument that the modern nation-state cannot in fact promote a politics of the common good because its political discourse rejects any genuinely rational enquiry and debate about overall forms of life. It sets “limits that are characteristically presupposed by its modes of discourse rather than articulated,” especially the proscription against appeals to first principles. He is careful to point out that appeals to more substantive goods do appear, but they only do so in non-systematic ways – such appeals “contain and domesticate those issues, so that...

Read More

Epiphany: Universal Kingship

There are several feasts at key points on the liturgical calendar where we are reminded forcefully of the universality of Christ’s mission. Pentecost gives us the vision of the Holy Spirit communicating the Gospel across language barriers. Christ the King was instituted in the 1920’s by Pius XI to oppose rising nationalism and fascism – its formal title is “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe.” But the story of the Epiphany is probably the most well-known, the kings (or wise men?) from the East following a star to pay homage to the newly-born King of the...

Read More

Moral Tribes After Trump

A considerable literature has developed, particularly in psychology, centering on the notion that people’s moral judgments are essentially “tribal.” Jonathan Haidt is probably the most well-known of these writers. But the notion has wide circulation. For example, just a few days ago, I heard a radio interview on the mainstream DC news station in which the commentator pointed out that the “fake news” problem is difficult to overcome with “facts,” because believing the world is a certain way is connected to a sense of belonging. For liberals to express concerns that identity politics has gone too far or conservatives...

Read More

On That Day: Second Sunday of Advent

Readings: Is 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12 “On THAT day…” I confess that this saying, and ones like it, such as last week’s “in days to come,” are among my favorites for focusing on the grand hope Christianity really promises. Songs proclaim this hope. One of my favorites is a gem from my days at St. Boniface in central Minnesota. But others speak of the “day of the Lord” when “the sun will shine like the dawn of eternal day” or “when every tear shall be wiped away.” And in one of the best final verses in contemporary hymnody,...

Read More

A dispatch from The Swamp, 20008

Living in the Capitol after many years out in the districts, there is so much to notice. For example, my morning run today took me past Sidwell Friends, school of presidential children, with a secret service van out front and others scattered on neighboring streets. It was drop-off time, and Wisconsin Avenue (how ironic!) was clogged with a glut of BMWs, Audis, and Lexuses – mostly SUVs – getting in and out of the underground driveway into the school’s entrance. Very airport-like! I’m fairly sure most of them are horrified by President Trump. They probably do not want him...

Read More

Recent Tweets