Author: Julie Rubio

What I Learned from Talking Economics with Libertarians

A few weeks ago I took part in a conference at Lindenwood University devoted to “Free Markets and Localism.” Most of the other faculty participating in the event were far more sympathetic to libertarianism than are most Catholic theologians, including me. Conversation was sometimes challenging, but I am learning things from this dialogue that I don’t learn in my usual circles. 1. Many people are deeply resentful about paying taxes. I don’t mean annoyed or less-than- thrilled. They see taxes as “forced charity.” In the words of a recent article by economist Stacie Beck in America magazine, “Is it right to compel productive people to be charitable? Or is it our duty to persuade them to be so of their own accord? Is it social justice to advocate for more redistribution as a public policy? Or is it social justice to bring productive people together with those in need within church communities to inspire the generosity, help and compassion Christ asked for?” Paying taxes is not my favorite thing to do, but I try to think about it as my contribution to the common good. Really. But as a Catholic moral theologian, I have to ask myself how can I respond to the much more common aversion to redistribution. 2. Lots of different kinds of people are excited about “localism.” I never expected to be chatting with libertarians about...

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Should You Give Up Your Pew for Lent?

Paul Elie wrote a column in the New York Times on Friday suggesting that Catholics ought to consider “giv[ing] up Catholicism en masse, if only for a time.”  If Benedict can resign, says Elie, so can we: For the Catholic Church, it has been “all bad news, all the time” since Benedict took office in 2005: a papal insult to Muslims; a papal embrace of a Holocaust denier; molesting by priests and cover-ups by their superiors. When the Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien resigned on Monday amid reports of “inappropriate” conduct toward priests in the 1980s, the routine was wearingly familiar. It’s enough to make any Catholic yearn to leave the whole mess for someone else to clean up. Elie says he’ll go back to his Brooklyn parish after Lent. But he thinks protest might be helpful to a church that has lost its way: A temporary resignation would be a fitting Lenten observance. It would help believers to purify and deepen our faith in the light of our neighbors’ — “to examine our own religious notions, to sound them for genuineness,” as the American writer Flannery O’Connor put it. It would let us begin to figure out what in Catholicism we can take and what we can and ought to leave. It might even get the attention of the cardinals who will meet behind the locked doors of the...

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The Feminine Mystique at 50

Betty Friedan’s 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, is 50 and there is a lot of talk about whether we still need to read it. In the book, Janet Maslin of the New York Times writes, Friedan named “the problem with no name,” the “depression, frustration, emptiness, guilt and dishonesty” experienced by mostly white, suburban, highly educated housewives. Like Friedan herself, many women who voiced dissatisfaction were told it was their problem. Get over it. Get on with the dishes and the vacuuming. Stop asking, “Is this all?” Today, things are different, but how different? After decades of progress, we may be moving in a different direction.  In, “Why Gender Equality Stalled,” historian Stephanie Coontz claims: But during the second half of the 1990s and first few years of the 2000s, the equality revolution seemed to stall. Between 1994 and 2004, the percentage of Americans preferring the male breadwinner/female homemaker family model actually rose to 40 percent from 34 percent. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of full-time working mothers who said they would prefer to work part time increased to 60 percent from 48 percent. In 1997, a quarter of stay-at-home mothers said full-time work would be ideal. By 2007, only 16 percent of stay-at-home mothers wanted to work full time. This is not, Coontz argues, because men and women truly prefer inequality, but because the egalitarian ideals held...

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Are We Ready for A New Conversation on Marriage?

The Institute for American Values recently issued A Call for a New Conversation on Marriage. The current conversation, the 74 signers say, is going nowhere and children deserve better. It is not yet clear if Catholics will contribute, but I hope so. The IAV is a right-leaning, centrist think tank, or at least it used to be. Led by David Blankenhorn, the organization brings scholars together and publishes reports on topics such as, “Why Marriage Matters,” “For a New Thrift,” and “Hardwired to Connect.” It has been in the forefront of efforts to raise concerns about children raised in broken and cohabiting families, and its leaders have sometimes spoken against same sex marriage, though this has not been IAV’s emphasis. (Full disclosure: I was a part of the IAV’s recent “Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith?” project.) But over the summer, Blankenhorn wrote a piece in the New York Times telling readers why he had changed his mind on gay marriage. The organization made a decision that they would welcome gay rights advocates to their pro-marriage work. As a result of this shift to the center, signers of this statement are a mix of liberals and conservatives interested in talking about marriage because of their concern for children and civil  society: Elizabeth Marquardt, Peter Steinfels, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Jonathan Rauch, William Galston, Richard Mouw, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Stephen...

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New Things Get Old: Keeping the Spark of Love Alive

Televangelist Pat Robertson is in trouble with just about everyone for comments he made on his 700 Club show in response to a 17 year old boy who wanted his father to pay more attention to his mother.  He said: A woman came to a preacher that I know, and she was awful looking. I mean, her hair was all torn up and she was overweight and looked terrible, clothes bad and everything. And she said, ‘Oh, Reverend, what can I do? My husband has started to drink.’ And the preacher looked at her and said, ‘Madam, if I was married to you I’d start to drink too.’ We need to cultivate romance, darling! … You always have to keep that spark of love alive. It just isn’t something to just lie there, ‘Well, I’m married to him so he’s got to take me slatternly looking.’ You’ve got to fix yourself up, look pretty. Most commentators have focused on the outrageous sexism of Robertson’s statement, as well they should, but I’m interested in his far less controversial claim about keeping “that spark of love alive.” This, in fact, is something many Americans seem to believe. Countless magazine articles advise us to spice things up-change it up-mix it up  in order to keep the romance alive. A recent New York Times article, “New Love: A Short Shelf Life,” a psychology...

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