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Devra Torres

The Least I Need to Do

Jun. 10, 2013, at 9:59pm

                  “What’s the least I need to do to keep you happy?”

That’s an apocryphal (I hope) quote from a new husband, addressed to his bride. 

You can predict what sort of marriage is likely to follow, and how long it’s likely to last. 

The question is, do we treat God like that?  We may feel sure we don’t, but it’s possible to do it inadvertently, even while being convinced we're exemplary Christians.

In one sense, of course, “What must I do to be saved?” (roughly equivalent to “What’s the least I need to do to keep you happy?”) is the most important question a person can ask.  If we fail to ask the question, or to live by the answer, we risk eternal misery. 

And it is easy these

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Devra Torres

The Glorious Conformity of the Children of God?

Feb. 23, 2013, at 12:43am

Mama, if God knew Adam and Eve were gonna sin, how come he tested them?

"Jopa" (Johanna Paulina, named after Guess Who) is my seventh child, age seven, heading into the age of reason right on schedule.  This was hardly the first time a kid had posed this question to me.  I dusted off my usual talking points:

  • “Well, it wasn’t that kind of a test—like the one your teacher gives you to find out something she didn’t know before, since God knows everything…” 

        “Yeah, but—“

  • “…He wanted to give us a chance to obey Him freely, out of love…”

        “Yeah, but—“

  • “…because He wanted us to be free persons, not just little robots who automatically did whatever He wanted.  If we weren’t
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Michael Healy

JPII on Different Kinds of Human Needs:  Illustrations from Popular Music

Nov. 28, 2012, at 11:47pm

In Love and Responsibility, John Paul II makes some interesting distinctions about human needs and the different levels on which they operate.  He especially makes a point to distinguish between mere desire (based in need alone, i.e. in me) and love as desire (based in a value-responding affirmation of the other, in light of which I recognize my desire or need as centered in this specific person because of their irreplaceable beauty and value).  He says the following in his section on “Love as Desire” under his treatment of “Metaphysical Analysis of Love:”

On the natural level, man and woman need one another to complete their own being.  The sexual urge or sexual desire is an indication

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Michael Healy

Reading Casti Connubii (and the Tradition) in Light of the Insights of JPII

Aug. 31, 2012, at 1:36am

 

So, exactly how are we to regard the personalist insights and interpretations of John Paul II in relation to the traditional Church teachings about marriage, man and woman, equality and leadership, headship and submission?  Evidently, he offers us a tremendous development of the tradition on equality between the marriage partners.  How does this relate to the notion of authority in marriage?  Is JPII's teaching simply a rejection, not only of scripture (as deeply erroneous?) but also of hundreds of years of tradition (no longer indefectible, much less infallible?)?  What would this do to our notions of inerrancy in Scripture and of guidance of the Church by the Holy Spirit in fundamental

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Devra Torres

Dr. Seuss: Personalist or Radical Individualist?

Jul. 15, 2012, at 1:06am

When I was very, very little, my beloved grandparents, Nana and Uncle Lenny (his real name was Louis, and he did eventually resign himself to being “old enough to be a grandpa”) gave me and my sister Abby a delightful present, which I am about to criticize.

Now, to say I have nothing against Dr. Seuss would be an understatement.  He was so central a part of the family Weltanschauung that when my sister Sarah’s teacher once instructed her to design a family crest, he was included.  (So were Groucho Marx and a bagel, but my other sister, Simcha Fisher, tells it better here.) 

We loved My Book About Me, which was designed as a kind of treasury of memories by, for, and about the child.  We

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John Crosby

Solidarity

Feb. 8, 2012, at 8:00am


Editor’s note: What follows is the last of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.


"Solidarity" was not only the name of the famous Polish labor union which, inspired by the person and teaching of Pope John Paul II, precipitated the non-violent collapse of Communism in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe. Solidarity is also a term that expresses one of the great themes of Pope John Paul's Christian personalism.

Let us return to that extreme individualism discussed in a previous column. That

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John Crosby

Embodiment

Jan. 25, 2012, at 8:00am


Editor’s note: What follows is the eighth of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.


I began my last installment by saying that personalist philosophy can go astray in different ways, and I proceeded to show how in the contemporary world it commonly goes astray by becoming too individualistic. Now I want to begin the present installment by mentioning a deviant form of personalism that will come as a surprise to most of my readers: Personalism commonly goes astray by becoming too

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John Crosby

Self-Donation

Jan. 18, 2012, at 8:00am


Editor’s note: What follows is the seventh of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.


Personalist philosophy can go astray in different ways; in the contemporary world it commonly goes astray by becoming too individualistic. This happens when I think of persons too much in terms of the rights with which each person is armed, and when I think of others mainly as potential intruders into my sphere of rights, so that I approach them with suspicion and mistrust. As an individualist of this kind,

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John Crosby

Freedom and Truth

Jan. 11, 2012, at 8:00am


Editor’s note: What follows is the sixth of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.


We live as persons by acting through ourselves in freedom: This is the aspect of Pope John Paul II's personalism that we examined in the last installment. John Paul also teaches that there is a law of freedom, which he calls the "truth about good." Though people are afraid that this law will interfere with their freedom, it is in fact the basis for living in freedom, as we shall try to show in the present

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John Crosby

Human Freedom

Jan. 4, 2012, at 8:00am


Editor’s note: What follows is the fifth of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.


Any philosopher who takes man seriously as person is sure to affirm the freedom of persons. There are, of course, no lack of philosophers who deny freedom, but none of them ever makes a point of saying that human beings are persons. Personhood and freedom are inseparable. In his personalism, Pope John Paul II has much to say about freedom, just as we would expect.

Acting Through Oneself
The first affirmation

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John Crosby

Persons Are Unrepeatable

Dec. 28, 2011, at 8:00am


Editor’s note: What follows is the fourth of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.


We know how dangerous it is to think of human beings in terms of general types or patterns. We think of someone as a typical Serb, a typical woman, a typical adolescent. If we think that this is all there is to them, that there is nothing else of significance about them besides being a typical this or that, then we lose sight of them as persons. We have only to consider the point of view of people who are

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John Crosby

Interiority of Human Persons

Dec. 21, 2011, at 8:00am


Editor’s note: What follows is the third of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.


St. Augustine is famous for warning us not to lose ourselves in the world outside and for admonishing us to turn within, to enter into the "inner man." He explores the interiority of man like no one before him did. Now Pope John Paul II is likewise fascinated with the interiority of persons. He announces one of the great themes of his personalist philosophy when he writes: "We can say that the person as a

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John Crosby

Worthy of Respect: The Personalist Norm

Dec. 14, 2011, at 7:59am


Editor’s note: What follows is the second of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of timeless truths.


Back when he was still Archbishop of Cracow, Pope John Paul II once wrote to his friend, the great theologian Henri de Lubac: "I devote my very rare free moments to a work that is close to my heart and is devoted to the metaphysical sense and mystery of the person. The evil of our times consists in the first place in a kind of degradation, indeed in a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human

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John Crosby

Flying with Both Wings: Why Christians Need Philosophy

Dec. 7, 2011, at 12:10pm


Editor’s note: What follows is the first of a 10 part series on the personalist philosophy of Pope John Paul II written some years ago for Lay Witness Magazine. We asked for and received permission to re-publish the series here, to give fresh occasion for discussion of the issues at the center of our mission.


We don't have to listen to Pope John Paul II for long before noticing his fascination with the human person. We are struck by how often and how passionately he speaks about the dignity of the person. He has become a kind of prophet of personal dignity, witnessing to it before the conscience of mankind like no other world leader, indeed, like no previous pope. In fact, this

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Katie van Schaijik

Weigel at Immaculata

Oct. 1, 2009, at 11:41am

Last night we attended a talk by George Weigel at Immaculata University comparing John Paul II and Edith Stein.  My reaction was somewhat mixed.  Weigel has a marvelous command of the timeline of their lives and some of the major points of convergence between these two giants of 20th century Catholicism and 20th century philosophy: their shared faith and intellectual vocation, their common critique of the atheism and materialism of the modern world, their profound interest in re-establishing the right relation between faith and reason, their work to bring Thomism and phenomenology into fruitful contact with each other, their contributions toward a Christian femininism, and so on. 
But for

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