The self-identified Catholic gay Latino sometimes-conservative sometimes-liberal writer has a strong take on the "new atheist" movement, identifying its basic approach as a species of intellectual bullying: Richard Rodriguez: "New Atheism" has a distinctly neo-colonial aspect.
Read the entire interview, and not just for Rodriguez's insights about the "new atheist" crowd. There's lots of wisdom there -- about the nature of Latino identity in the United States, affirmative action, and the desert nature of the three main monotheistic religions. He has some very interesting comments about the Catholic Church and Pope Francis, and much of the Left's obsession with sexual issues. Rodriguez, unfortunately, falls into the trap of viewing Pope Francis as being outside of continuity with his predecessors, but perhaps such an interesting and unorthodox thinker can be forgiven for falling a bit for some of the MSM spin about the Pope?
#2: the influence of John Locke on Catholic social teaching.
Joe Hargrave explores that topic in this piece, detailing the use of Locke in the formulation of Catholic teaching regarding private property. While Pope Francis' words in Evangelii Gaudium have gotten a great deal of attention since the publication of that apostolic exhortation, that work does not modify any of the principles of Catholic social teaching as it stands. And as Hargrave explains, that social teaching has powerful roots in the work of John Locke.
#3: human dignity & the problem of the post-work economy.
Mark Steyn addresses that topic in this piece archived over at National Review Online: The Post-Work Economy. As Steyn notes, one of the most socially-disruptive aspects of unemployment is the effect dependency has on human dignity and the sense of self-sufficiency that is a prime aspect of human well-being. This effects not only economic standing, but also the health & psychological vitality of the people affected by being on the dole. Complicating this is an approach to governing that views dependency as a here-to-stay fixture of American civic & economic life. As Steyn writes:
The assumption is that mass, multi-generational dependency is now a permanent feature of life. A coastal elite will devise ever smarter and slicker trinkets, and pretty much everyone else will be a member of either the dependency class or the vast bureaucracy that ministers to them. And, if you’re wondering why every Big Government program assumes you’re a feeble child, that’s because a citizenry without “work and purpose” is ultimately incompatible with liberty. The elites think a smart society will be wealthy enough to relieve the masses from the need to work. In reality, it would be neo-feudal, but with fatter, sicker peasants. It wouldn’t just be “economic inequality,” but a far more profound kind, and seething with resentments.There is dignity in work and such dignity is necessary for human beings to flourish. Government policy should be oriented towards creating conditions that foster human flourishing, rather than putting roadblocks in the way towards people having the ability & incentive to be self-supporting citizens.
#4: the Founders & classical education -- it wasn't about Latin, it was about virtue.
To a degree difficult for many modern Americans to grasp, the Founding generation was shaped by classical literature from ancient Greece & Rome. Virtually every literate person had at least passing acquaintance with the stories, myths & literature of the ancient West, and a surprisingly large percentage of Americans could read those works in one or both of their original languages, Greek & Latin. Yet, classical education in colonial and early republican America wasn't primarily about learning ancient languages, it was about training people in virtue & civic responsibility. E. Christian Kopff explores this aspect of early American education over at The Imaginative Conservative: Inspired by Liberty & Virtue: the Classical Education of the Founders of the American Republic. Tolle, lege.
#5: what Abraham Lincoln can teach conservatives.
Over at City Journal online, Jeremy Rozansky sketches out some thoughts on that topic: Honest Abe's Advice to Conservatives. Lincoln was no ideologue, but rather embraced a multi-faceted approach to politics that emphasized the need for balance between economic growth & innovation and the requirements of civil order & settled polity. As Rozansky writes, this is something from which Republicans of a conservative bent could learn:
Too often, Republicans have talked and acted as if the essence of conservatism is making budgets balance. It isn’t. American conservatism holds fast to a constellation of virtues: liberty, industriousness, and temperance, among others. Conservatives must emphasize these, and Lincoln provides unmatched instruction in how and why to do so. We should be wary of overemphasizing the pursuit of economic growth, or, as [writer Rich] Lowry calls it, the ethic of “work, work, work.” Growth is unsettling for many. The challenge is to formulate an economic agenda that balances innovation with social cohesion. If conservatives talk only about “opportunity,” they will overlook Americans’ other vital concerns about stability and everyday satisfaction. A conservatism that fails to speak to these sentiments won’t win—and won’t deserve to. Perhaps Lincoln can be of instruction here, too.Bonus: some 80s music to get the weekend started!