Author: David Cloutier

The Dream Hoarders: You Should Read This

I’m grateful for many gifts my parents have given me, but certainly their stress on the importance of education and school is near the top of the list. Neither of them went to college, but they worked to send me to an outstanding Jesuit high school. From there, I went to Carleton College, a top-ten national liberal arts college, and the rest is history. So in a sense, I’ve lived “the American dream.” And if I did it, isn’t it possible for everyone to do it? The message of Richard V. Reeves’ powerful new book, The Dream Hoarders, is...

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Trinity Sunday: Who God Really Is

Readings: Exodus 34:4-9; 2 Cor. 13:11-13; Jn. 3:16-18 One theological mistake about the Trinity is to reduce it to an example of some more abstract idea: say, that God is “relational.” Or even to make it demonstrate something about anthropology: we humans are “relational” as persons. While these inferences are true, they aren’t really what the doctrine is about. The doctrine is about who God is, not as “relational,” but as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The language of “persons,” after all, came about not as a divine claim which then was applied to humans. The language is...

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Why Paris is not Prudential

Support for the Paris Accord is typically thought to be one of those “prudential judgments” for Catholics. So the possibility that the US will pull out may seem to be a matter of reasonable disagreement among “people of good will.” I want to suggest two reason to think that is very unlikely, and that in fact support for the Paris Accord – or at least for some binding global agreement on carbon emissions – is not a matter of prudential judgment, but an essential principle of Catholic practice. The two reasons are these. One is the fact of the...

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More on middle class moral theologizing

Beth Haile’s wonderful recent post reflecting on the moral perils of moving into a “solidly” middle-class setting is worth many reads. We are too often preoccupied with the headline issues – which, to be fair, often shape powerfully (though gradually) the possibilities of middle-class life – with the result that we neglect the ordinary situations of life. Put bluntly, we start to think that a vote is our most important moral action. As I learned above all from the work of my colleague David McCarthy – whose The Good Life: Genuine Christianity for the Middle Class would be a...

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Divisiveness and Understanding Justice

Our divisive political and ecclesial cultures are peculiarly divisive insofar as they seemingly involve totalizing calls to take sides – either you are for us or you are against us. In reviewing Jean Porter’s very important new book, Justice as a Virtue, I came to recognize a subtlety about justice that may be helpful for understanding and potentially defusing this divisiveness. Porter’s account follows Thomas Aquinas in claiming that justice is not primarily an attribute of structures, but rather a stable habit that perfects the unique human capacity of the will. This capacity is our ability to develop (through...

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