God and the Double BBQ Sandwich

God and the Double BBQ SandwichIt is no secret that America is polarized. This is a fact that is manifested in so many different ways. Traveling down the highway to Chicago, for example, I came upon two successive billboards that I thought were striking examples of our divided culture.

The first billboard caught me by surprise: it consisted of an electrocardiogram of a heart that suddenly stops beating. The caption read: When you die, you will meet God.

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As we were passing through the snowy night, I was unable to catch more details of this billboard. I do not know who put it out or what I was expected to do. It really did not matter because for a brief moment I thought about what the Catholic Church calls the “Four Last Things” – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Think of these things, Scriptures says, and you will not be lost eternally. The simple phrase served to trigger in me a gentle yet fleeting reflection upon the meaning of life. I am sure I was not the only one to make this quick reflection.

The billboard is clearly polarizing since it is directed toward that strong vein inside the American public that is turned toward things religious, spiritual and eternal. It is a sector of the American public that lives amid the fast, superficial and materialistic aspects of our pop culture yet is not entirely comfortable with them. These Americans are drawn by God, family, honor and country. On the other hand, this billboard would not appeal to other Americans who would tend to disparage the message as backward and unenlightened.

BBQ_sandwichThe second billboard came immediately afterwards and struck me by how contrary it was to the former. It consisted of a massive BBQ sandwich with the caption: Happiness is a double BBQ sandwich.

There is nothing wrong with a double BBQ sandwich or even deriving pleasure from eating one. However, the message behind this billboard is clearly materialistic yet more subtly polarizing. There is no invitation to profound reflection. Rather there is the quick insinuation that happiness can be easily bought by obtaining the immediate object of our desires. In this case, gratification equals happiness. According to the same logic, life should be a long succession of gratifications.

This billboard represents a second, more commercial, vein found in America that I call in the book, Return to Order, the perception of the nation as a co-op. This perspective holds that individuals unite themselves together in society as a means to facilitate each one’s inebriating pursuit of happiness.

How Do We Return to OrderUnder this view, an appreciation of America is tied to its ability to make everything fun and everyone happy. Like a co-op, those who hold this position expect returns on their social union in the form of constant and instant gratification. Happiness consists of participating in the excitement of a party economy that they hope will keep on going.

Of course, we cannot generalize and say that all Americans fit neatly into one category or the other. Sometimes the two can be found in differing proportions inside the same person. Other times, the same person might gravitate toward one or later the other. We might also observe collective swings of the national mood towards one or the other category.

As our crisis deepens, this fascinating interplay of perspectives, this dramatic clash of mentalities becomes the material for a great debate now taking place in America over our future. This discussion is found everywhere—even on highway billboards.

There are many categories that people have used to characterize the nation’s polarization. There is red and blue, conservative and liberal, or retro and metro. Perhaps it is the case to add yet another: God and the double BBQ sandwich.


The Benedict Option and the Barbarian Challenge

Ceasing to Fight for Our Christian Culture Only Prepares Us for Defeat

“Ceasing to Fight for Our Christian Culture Only Prepares Us for Defeat”

Scratch the soul of many a conservative and beneath you will find a villager. Something is there that attracts these Americans to more natural and simpler lifestyles. Perhaps it is because organic and authentic things appear restful and reassuring in a world of uncertainties and anxieties.

However, what makes the organic option particularly attractive to conservatives is that it seems to be a solution to a neo-pagan world that corrupts and attacks family life. These conservatives believe, not unreasonably, that families fare better when surrounded by organic produce, home remedies and whole grain granola. Journalist Rod Dreher wittingly dubbed these rustic conservatives as “crunchy cons.” He described the phenomenon of those who desire to find a “village” of like-minded people to get away from the maddening liberal crowd.

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Such attractive dreams of an organic Christian society have circulated for decades. The idealized community generally involves a fair amount of acreage far enough away from the city. Community members might build a homestead on some ten or twenty acres. There would be huge gardens full of organic vegetables and produce. Livestock, free-range chickens, or goats would supplement diets. Add an orchard and maybe a vineyard. One could make one’s own beer, cider or wine. Self-sufficiency would reign as people would get off all the grids. There would be children aplenty to make things merry. One would simply walk away from secular society. There would be no time for sin and war, since all would be busy on their farms with wholesome work.

Of course, at the center of the village there would be a church, ideally a monastery, a Benedictine monastery, where holy priests would celebrate the Divine Liturgy and bells would call people to prayer. Monks would intercede before God for our sinful world. A sacredness would be conferred upon all society where a love of beauty in a God-centered life would propel men toward their final end. Eventually, a school or university would form around this community and a new culture would be born.

Indeed, such a community would be full of culture. Like-minded people would be gathering, singing, eating and praying together. People would rediscover poetry and wonder. Let the neo-pagan world party to its destruction, but let it leave us alone in our “backward” and godly bliss!

The idea of the Christian village has recently gained more traction with the defeat of Indiana’s religious liberty law, which is seen as a foretaste of a coming persecution. Writers like Rod Dreher are urging people to make a strategic withdrawal from modern society that would allow Christians to reassess their situation and explore their identity in a liturgy-rich context. It need not be the full village version, but it does entail something of a withdrawal. He calls it the Benedict or “B-option” and proposes that people find their strategic retreat parishes/communities to weather the liberal storm.

It must be said that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea of a Christian village centered on family and faith. It is entirely according to our social nature to desire to live in a community committed to virtuous life in common. Such communities help individuals put their lives in order and control their disordered passions. They satisfy the longings of the postmodern heart that crave community and wholeness. Such villages would return God back to the center of things where He belongs. It is where we need to go but …

Such communities are not enough. Benedict alone does not suffice.

There is one major problem with the B-option and that is what might be called the “B-challenge.” Benedictine communities may have flourished, but they also seemed to attract barbarians who ravaged and plundered them. Those who adopt the B-option of Benedict must find a way to deal with the B-challenge of barbarians.

Such a task consists of understanding the nature of the barbarian. Historically, barbarians were those who gave in to their whims and destroyed indiscriminately. They devastated ordered society and redistributed its wealth. They did not leave Christians alone, but rather sought them out, often coming from afar, to loot and plunder their communities wherever they might be found.

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Occupy Wall Street participants

There can be no doubt that we live in a neo-barbarian world inside a culture of death. Today’s tattooed and wired neo-barbarians are likewise aggressive.  They also redistribute the wealth, albeit through taxes and entitlements. They do not live and let live, but insist that all approve their disordered lifestyles. Indeed, it is the very brutality of the neo-barbarian mandate that impels those considering the Benedictine option to flee.

The lessons of history are particularly expressive regarding the triumph of barbarians. Vikings, Huns, Goths, Moors and communists all devastated the tranquility of even the most isolated of organic societies. There is no escaping. There is a kind of impossible co-existence between barbarian and villager. Thus, in our case, the B-challenge can only consist in confronting the brutal neo-barbarians at the gates.

That is not to say that Benedict loses his validity as an option. After all, the core of what is to be defended and gives meaning to life is found inside his liturgical framework turned toward the worship of God.

But Benedict must be defended against the ravages of the barbarian. The barbarian must be fearlessly confronted, contested, fought against, defeated…and converted.

To the efficacious prayer of Benedict must be added the zealous action of a Boniface, apostle of Germany. He did not dialogue with the barbarians, but chopped down the great oak tree which they worshiped as their god, and brought them to the knowledge of the true Faith. To Boniface can be added legions of saints like Patrick in Ireland or Remigius in France, all of who overcame the barbarian and secured Benedict’s peace.

It would be wrong to assume that Boniface plays only a temporary role inside a B-option. Successive waves of barbarians followed after Boniface’s triumph. Saintly kings, knights and crusaders rose to the occasion to engage and defeat them. Even our modern times saw the need to defend the West from yesterday’s Nazi and communist brutes and today’s Islamic beheading savages.


“In this vale of tears, we must be continually engaged in the fight for order”

In this vale of tears, we must be continually engaged in the fight for order since there will always be those who oppose God’s law and undermine the family, marriage, and all those other institutions that make up the heart and soul of an economy, a culture and the Christian village. There will always be those who never live and let live and will seek us out.

Like it or not, when we cease to fight for our Christian culture, we prepare ourselves for defeat. Unless there be Bonifaces with the fortitude needed to confront this great struggle, all our efforts will come to nothing.

Indeed, an organic order only becomes possible when there are those who, by their spirit of self-sacrifice and dedication, practice fortitude to the highest degree. This can be seen in the dedicated spirit of the soldier who leaves everything to face suffering, separation from family, and even imprisonment or death to defend the West against the barbarian. It can be found in today’s cultural warrior who endures so much scorn and risks everything to defend life, marriage and ordered liberty. It needs to be seen in those representative figures in society who make the great sacrifice of setting the tone and being role models for all society. When such key figures practice fortitude to a high degree, all society becomes permeated by this virtue, thus fortifying the whole social order.

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When Benedict and Boniface are fused together in grace and fortitude, it sets the stage for a Christian society that is practically indestructible. The barbarian can then be subdued by the arm of Christian fortitude and converted by the sublime call of Christ. Because of their intense dynamism, the converted barbarians often become vibrant Christians.  We might even say that it is in the crucible of combating the neo-barbarian at the gates and restraining our own disordered passions (the barbarian within) that we will find the elements of a true culture that will meld people together into communities.

If we truly desire the B-option, then let us not withdraw from modernity, for strategic retreats easily turn into routs. Let us rather engage our neo-barbarian culture by both cultivating our Benedictine identity when projecting Boniface’s strength. It is the only option.

Winning the War on the Cross: Americans React to Secular Offensive

“The Port Neches attack against the Cross is one of many recent cases in America.”

A little while ago, I was traveling with a colleague in the small town of Port Neches, Texas. While driving, we kept seeing white crosses in people’s yards and in storefronts. Even the fast-food eatery Sonic had a big one. So, we asked the lady we were visiting why there were so many little white crosses all over the city. Her explanation was an encouraging example of the fighting spirit and conservatism in America.

Our friend explained that in the city’s Riverfront Park, there is a 45-year-old monument of a large white Cross. In November 2015, this Cross became the object of a great battle between right and wrong when the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened the city with a court case if it did not remove the Cross. The locals reacted immediately. A church bought a twenty-by-twenty-foot plot of land containing the monument from the city for $100, thereby protecting it.

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In support of the Cross and as a reaction against the atheist organization, a group of locals made little white crosses for people to put in their yards or wherever they wanted. Literally, thousands were distributed. Even the local Chick-fil-A was giving them out for free.

The reaction of the locals was amazing. What the locals were saying to the outside atheist group was something like, “Bring it on! No matter what you do, we will stand up for what is right. Look at the cross in my front yard as proof.”

Not the First Nor Last Time

The Port Neches attack against the Cross is one of many recent cases in America. Such cases do not get major media coverage. However, there is definitely a pattern as can be seen by these examples.

The most shocking case of Cross removal attempts was the famed cross-shaped steel beams from 9/11. Despite its consoling symbolism for traumatized citizens, American Atheists Inc. tried to have it removed from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Fortunately, the atheists failed to take away this beautiful reminder from God that He is with those fighting against evil.

Another example did not turn out so well. A Cross, outside one of the Longview Texas fire department stations was challenged. The Cross was part of a Christmas display. In spite of protests from the locals, the Cross was removed because of complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Belle Plaine Threatened

In the Veterans Memorial Park of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, stands a very beautiful monument to American soldiers. It is a steel image of an infantryman from World War II, helmet doffed, rifle unslung, kneeling before the grave of a fallen comrade marked with a Cross. The Cross headstone was created by a local veteran.

Why the Cross in such a scene should concern the Freedom From Religion Foundation is unclear. But the outside group challenged just the Cross part of the scene. In January 2017, their protest and pressure convinced the city to remove the Cross from the monument.

Patriotic Americans of Belle Plaine pushed back on the city’s secularist decision. An article by a local newspaper The Star Tribune reported: “Almost overnight, dozens of wooden crosses popped up in private business windows, on mailboxes and in front yards. More than 1,200 people have signed an online petition in support of restoring the cross.”

The Star Tribune story quoted a local resident as saying, “A lot of people are turning in their graves. People are mad at that group. It’s not just us (the veterans club) but the whole city of Belle Plaine.”

Along with distributing crosses, the patriots of Belle Plaine arranged for a security detail composed of members of the veterans club and a motorcyclists club called the Second Brigade to stand guard day and night to protect what was left of the monument.

“Sometimes You Have to Fight”

On Feb. 6, 2017, the Belle Plaine City Hall was packed with people. All of them were there for a hearing on whether to return the Cross or not. Andy Parish, a strong advocate for returning the Cross, spoke his mind to the City Council members.

According to the Belle Plaine Herald Andy Parish delivered these fiery words: “We’re here tonight because of an out-of-state group, driven by extremism, has attacked our Veterans Park. We’re here tonight not by choice, but because the residents of this city feel a sense of duty. …[N]ot all fights involve money. Sometimes you have to fight for what’s right.”

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The remark drew loud applause from the audience. After long deliberation, the City Council voted 3-2 to pursue a limited public forum at Veterans Memorial Park. This allowed the Cross to be placed back on the monument. Just like in Port Neches, and so many other cases, the truly patriotic Americans of Belle Plaine proudly stood up for what is right and won!

The Need to Be Vigilant

The white-cross-episode in Port Neches is not the first nor the last time the symbol of Christianity will be attacked. Nationwide, Americans should be vigilant and look for similar occurrences and be ready to react because, as it is said, the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for the good to do nothing.

What lessons can be learned from the struggle over the Cross? The first lesson is one of hope. It shows that when good Americans stand up and do not give in on their principles, they can win. The second lesson is that it is a difficult fight in which they can also lose. Citizens must be prepared to go to the end as the people of Belle Plaine did to obtain final victory after losing the first round.

Finally, a small group of loud radicals are trying to destroy the symbol of the Cross in America. All it takes is a small group of dedicated Americans to counter their efforts. People need to stand up for the Cross of Christ because it is a symbol of victory. The feisty people of Port Neches, Belle Plaine, and so many others are beautiful examples of what can be done when good people do something.

As seen on TFP.org

How a Good Lent Can Help Fix a Bad Economy

good_lentTo those who see no link between Lent and our failing economy, it might be the case to look again.

Economics is about people. It cannot be reduced to numbers, formulae and analyses. “The subject matter of economics,” observes economic historian Odd Langholm, “is properly the habits, customs, and ways of thinking of producers, consumers, buyers, sellers, borrowers, lenders, and all who engage in economic transactions.”

That means our moral habits can have a definite effect on determining if our economy grows—or fails.

In my book, Return to Order, I show how our present economic crisis is being caused by what I call “frenetic intemperance.”

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Frenetic intemperance can be defined as a restless spirit inside certain sectors of modern economy that foments a drive inside men to throw off legitimate restraints and gratify disordered passions. It is not a specifically economic problem but a moral and psychological vice that throws everything out of balance. When frenetic intemperance dominates, it often sends the whole system into convulsions—as we saw during the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. And, unless addressed, it is virulent enough to crash the entire financial system.

In our daily lives, we see frenetic intemperance in the tendency to desire everything, right away, regardless of the consequences. Everyone must have the latest gadget even though they do not need it and really cannot afford it. The mad lack of restraint leads to an unstable economy laden with boom and bust, debt and stress. It creates a cold mechanistic economy where money rules. It gives rise to a materialistic culture which values quantity and utility over quality and beauty. The long and short of it is that a frenzied economy comes from frenzied lifestyles.

And that brings us to Lent. Fighting bad moral habits and practicing restraint is what Lent is all about. More than giving up a box of chocolates, how about giving up habits that foster frenetic intemperance, which is the real root cause of our economic decline? Besides the personal benefits of interior peace, detachment, and greater spiritual freedom, a good Lent can also help save our economy.

Here are some suggestions on how this might be done.

1. Avoid speculative investments that promise huge returns on investment in little time. Such offers usually do not deliver what they promise and always feed frenetic desires that create anxiety and stress.

2. Stay away from business relationships that are cold and mechanical. Treat workers like family. Respect those for whom you work.

3. Avoid trendy business gurus and books that call for radical changes that will “revolutionize” a company or keep people in a constant state of change.

4. Eschew work schedules that are inhuman and stressful. Learn to appreciate leisure.

5. Avoid compulsive buying especially during those sales frenzies around the holidays.

6. Shun the abuse of credit cards and especially the temptation to pay only the minimal monthly amount. Avoid consumer debt as you would the plague (i.e. borrowing to buy things for your immediate consumption, e.g. that new laptop, games, cars, fashion clothing, etc. that you cannot afford, as opposed to investment debt , e.g. your home mortgage).

7. Learn not to have everything right now. The culture of instant gratification creates a frenzied lifestyle—and economy.

8. Do not take as role models those who have money as the central axis of their lives. Admire character not a person’s bottom line.

9. Resist the temptation of seeing only quantity and cheapness. Learn to appreciate the beauty of quality and good taste.

10. Avoid lavish display, especially of fancy gadgetry that leads to a desire to keep up with the e-Joneses with the latest version.

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As Lent progresses, we would do well to do something that has an impact beyond our own spiritual lives. It would be good to practice charity toward our neighbor by looking at the big picture. Giving up frenetic intemperance is a good start.

Sunday is a Day of Rest Isn’t It?

The Charm of the Medieval TownThere is the mistaken impression that for a modern economy to work efficiently, everything must be 24/7. Missing a beat is considered fatal to good business and economic productivity. All must be frenzied and hurried if one is to compete in today’s globalized economy.

Such assumptions go against the necessities of human nature. People are not machines. They need to stop and rest. If society is to return to some kind of order, people must be convinced that things can stop. Things should stop. Things must stop.

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This is not some wistful desire for simpler times of the past. Stopping can be done today and a good example is found in Germany. They call it “sonntagsruhe” which in German means “Sunday rest.” Germany, the world’s fourth largest economic power, stops on Sunday.

It should be emphasized that stopping on Sunday is not optional in Germany: one must stop on Sunday. The “sonntagsruhe” is not just casually staying away from work. Rather, the long-established custom keeps most shops closed and noise levels down. Even lawnmowers and leaf blowers must fall silent so that all might enjoy their rest. Loud music is restricted.  Heavy trucks are banned from the highways to prevent unnecessary noise – and give truckers a much needed break. The system is set up so that one has to stop and get some rest after an uber-efficient workweek.

The hard-working Germans on their part enjoy the weekly respite. It provides an opportunity for them to concentrate on unwinding, indulge in neighborly considerations or enjoy a good stein of beer. During their Sunday rest, Germans take to the outdoors, visit family and friends or (unfortunately, less frequently) attend church.

So enshrined is the national appetite for Sunday rest that repeated efforts by retailers and businesses to loosen the rules have ended up in failure. Some German states allow occasional Sunday openings for special shopping events and seasons, but most commercial Sunday activity is restricted by law… but also by choice, since the Sunday rest appears to enjoy widespread popular support. Such stopping has not jeopardized the national economy as Germany is the enviable economic powerhouse of Europe.

Of course, America is not Germany. While it can be admitted that most people still have Sunday off, it has become much more a day of shopping and activity than of rest or spiritual edification. Indeed, it was not too long ago that America had its own “Sunday rest.” Things simply shut down so people could be with their families. A few essential services stayed open, as they should. Back then, the seventh day was generally dedicated to God and those relationships that really matter.

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The key to some kind of return to order is not to legislate some kind of “sonntagsruhe” upon the American populace. Rather it consists of understanding what happened that changed mentalities so drastically and then questioning the prevailing attitude.

Over the last decades, what went wrong was that a great agitation entered into the national psyche whereby people became impatient with anything that might impede their own gratification—sexual or otherwise. This led to the acceleration of the frenetic intemperance of modern times where everyone must have everything instantly—even on Sunday. In his book, 24/7, author Jonathan Crary calls it “the absoluteness of availability, and hence the ceaselessness of needs and their incitement.”

The result is an anything-anywhere-anytime economy where all can be had at the click of a mouse or the swipe of a card. It is a frustratingly frantic system, in which people forever want more, yet never feel fulfilled. Indeed, all might be had in such a world, but much has been lost.

What must be questioned is if this world where people are always connected to frenzy is desirable. Tethered as they are to their electronic devices, people no longer free themselves from the stressful demands of daily life that follow them everywhere. They no longer have or take the time to consider what Notre Dame Professor Brad Gregory calls those important “Life Questions” where the meaning and purpose of life are considered in silence and peace.

This same connected world keeps individuals disconnected from the necessary links to Subscribe to Return to Orderfamily, community and faith that keep a society in balance and support individuals in their journey through life. It favors a collection of extreme individualists who are terrifyingly alone together. It is no wonder that there is so much anxiety in modern society.

What needs to be done is to challenge the myths that say things cannot stop and a return to order is not possible. Things can stop and it is time to have the courage to challenge the frenzy. Indeed, today’s stressful 24/7 world is in dire need of a Sunday rest.

As seen on speronews.com

The Invisible Army That Occupies America

The Invisible Army That Occupies America

“this mysterious legion is an inactive and passive force of sluggish soldiers that weighs heavily upon the nation.”

Over the past few decades, America has been invaded by an invisible army of ten million men. The impact of this army is fast becoming a crisis in urgent need of solutions.

You might assume that this army is made up of illegal immigrants who are taking away jobs and overwhelming social services. But in fact, this mysterious legion is an inactive and passive force of sluggish soldiers that weighs heavily upon the nation.

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This army is the subject of Nicholas Eberstadt’s masterful study, America’s Invisible Crisis: Men Without Work: ten million American men of prime working age who now “spend absolutely no time at a job and are not acting to alter that situation.”

These idle men comprise some ten percent of the male workforce. They are evidence that the work ethic that made America great has all but collapsed among certain sectors of the public. Worse yet, this invisible crisis has been largely ignored by sociologists and scholars, perhaps in favor of trendier social problems that garner greater attention.

Eberstadt correctly maintains that this is not only a social crisis but above all a moral crisis. Those who should be breadwinners do not want to hold a job. Those who should be dependable are now listed as dependents. A culture of industriousness has been replaced with a system that “encourages sloth, idleness, and vices.”

While the scale of the crisis is invisible, we have all seen it in isolation. Everyone knows relatives, friends and acquaintances that fit into this strange category of men fleeing from work. It is only when the facts are laid out in all their totality that scale of the crisis begins to sink in.

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That is the merit of Eberstadt’s book. The author has all the facts and proves his points convincingly. He further presents plenty of graphs, charts and statistics without appearing overly academic and stuffy. These help him tell his story and thankfully require little scholarly background to understand.

their activities include “attending gambling establishments,” “tobacco and drug use,” “listening to the radio,” and “socializing and communicating with others.”

Again Eberstadt makes explicit what most people implicitly know. Something is terribly wrong with a subset of men in our society. He lays out just who these “ghost soldiers” are, how they are supported and what they are doing. He acknowledges that there is a certain sector of nonworking men who are in training or pursuing education. However, his focus is on the vast majority that falls outside this category. These are the men who don’t want to work even if a good job were offered.

Most of these voluntary “un-workers” are the result of the breakdown of the family and society. A majority without work are uneducated and unmarried. Many have shirked the responsibility of family life and live lives of self-absorbed gratification. They lack what Eberstadt calls “the motivations, aspirations, priorities, values, and other intangibles that do so much to explain real-world human achievements.”

What is a bit surprising is that these men are not in bread lines or soup kitchens. They are hardly rich but not necessarily poor. Most of these men live reasonably comfortable lives due to the support of wives, girlfriends, aging parents or government welfare. Some even rely on two or three government or disability programs to survive. With such support, there is no motivation to look for jobs.

So what do these idle men do with their time? Nothing productive. Eberstadt distinguishes between leisure that “refines and elevates” while “idleness corrupts and degrades.”

“In short, these men do not want to grow up.”

There is no doubt under which category the un-workers fall. Surveys find that their activities include “attending gambling establishments,” “tobacco and drug use,” “listening to the radio,” and “socializing and communicating with others.” Another pastime among men in this category includes watching television and movies, which consumes an average of five and a half hours a day.

Indeed, they have abandoned normal adult pursuits and responsibilities. Many of them have been involved in criminal activities that further isolates them from normal society. They fill their days with gadgets and pastimes that are causing what Eberstadt does not hesitate to label as their “infantilization.”

And that is the tragedy. What America is witnessing is the appalling waste of manhood. “In short, these men do not want to grow up.” These are men who do not want to do what men should do. They do not want to be husbands, to commit themselves to a stable and permanent relationship with women and form families. They have little interest in being faithful citizens, in getting involved in their community, volunteering or shouldering the burdens of civic responsibilities.

In short, these men do not want to grow up.

Eberstadt hopes to make this invisible army visible. He wants to start a public debate, even taking the unusual step of publishing dissenting views at the end of his book.

The debate is sorely needed since the problem will not be solved by mere economic growth or new jobs. An army of ten million men occupies America’s land and cities with little desire to contribute to the common good. Like any occupying army, they weigh down the system, the treasury and the ethics of the nation. Promising jobs to these men without work will not solve the problem. The system that facilitates them must be reformed. Real change, however, will only happen when these infantilized men man up.

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What Can We Expect for 2017?

What Can We Expect for 2017?

“The key to survival is fidelity to our Christian principles and confidence in Providence.”

As we enter 2017, many people are still recovering from the stress and drama of 2016. From a political, social and religious standpoint, 2016 was a year of unexpected and unimaginable turmoil. The year brought us to the edge of a tall cliff.

Equally traumatic and unexpected were the last-minute rescues from disastrous descents into the chasm below. Fortunately, the plunge to ruin was avoided (for now) not only by the unexpected results of the American elections but some good reactions worldwide, in which people brexitted away from global and socialistic “solutions” which they saw as overbearing and catastrophic. The death of Communist icon Fidel Castro added yet another blow to leftist movements everywhere that suffered terrible defeats in 2016.

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The situation, however, remains dangerous and tenuous, as instability, uncertainty and chaos are found everywhere. The frenetic intemperance of our frantic lifestyles has upended so many of the anchors and convictions that keep a society well-grounded and balanced. A great confusion exists inside the Church about moral teachings. Society appears to have lost the moral compass that would help us find our way out of the present mess.

And so entering 2017, we have not yet gone off the cliff; rather we have only avoided disaster. We are still precariously perched on the edge of a precipice looking out over a vast and alarming panorama. Choices must now be made to find a way out. Avoiding disaster does not mean the fight is over. It only means a new phase has just begun.

If 2016 was the year of the unexpected, we might well ask what we can “unexpect” for 2017.

“we should imagine a giant rollercoaster with all sorts of twists, turns and dives that can be extremely dangerous”

If there is a new image that might be used to describe the coming 2017, it might be that of a roller coaster near the precipice. It is admittedly a strange metaphor since roller coasters do not typically appear near cliffs. However, the image somehow fits since it reflects the carnivalesque atmosphere of a political year full of twitterfests, email hacking wars and reality show antics that characterized events both here and abroad.

Thus, we should imagine a giant rollercoaster with all sorts of twists, turns and dives that can be extremely dangerous, nerve-racking and dizzying. This particular roller coaster does, however, allow for turns and alternative routes depending on the skills and capacities of those in the cars.

Those who avoided disaster are euphoric because this unexpected rollercoaster appeared on the precipice. They have entered the cars and are festively celebrating. Others are frightened and angry at the prospect of leaving what they think is the security of the precipice for the risky route ahead. They enter the cars reluctantly.

As the rollercoaster starts to pull out from its resting place, everyone, festive or angry, on the right or the left, needs to prepare for the first descent. They need to strap themselves in. If not, the cars will become a tangle of highly emotional and irrational people struggling to survive the unexpected twists and turns that will inevitably come.

What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?

This is the state of the world today. We are beginning to descend from the precipice for a ride from which we can “unexpect” just about anything to happen. There are political challenges found in an increasingly aggressive China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran from which we expect war, an uneasy peace and anything in-between. Islamic terrorism can and does ruthlessly strike anywhere and in unexpected places – even open-air Christmas markets. There are financial challenges ahead in the form of asset bubbles, massive debt and regulation. There are the moral problems like abortion, assisted suicide, attacks on marriage and sexual identity issues that are promoted everywhere. These leave in their wake a trail of broken marriages and families, shattered lives and relationships, devastated communities and empty churches, that turn people’s lives upside down.

How we deal with these challenges will determine the course of the roller coaster ride we can expect in 2017. All we really know now is that it will be full of unnerving twists, turns and dives. We may even crash if not careful. No one can predict what will happen in the face of so many unknowns. However, there is only one way to be prepared for the roller coaster ride. We need to be strapped inside by our principles that will hold us firmly in place and allow us to make the proper judgments to guide the cars away from disaster.

Even with the straps in place, it will not be an easy ride. There will be those inside the cars who think they can leave their principles behind and ride unrestrained. There will even be those who will scoff at the laws of physics and believe that they can do their own thing regardless of gravity and reality. When the unexpected twists and turns happen, such occupants will create havoc inside the car. There needs to be enough heroic people inside the cars who are strapped in by their principles and can step up to the plate and return things back to order.

But these principles cannot be just any principles or values. They cannot be based on emotions or feelings that guide so many people today down the road to disaster. Rather they must be tied to an objective moral law as enshrined in the Ten Commandments. These principles should be embedded in institutions like marriage, the family and private property, without which any return to order is impossible.

The principles must lead us back to God, the Source and Creator of all order. We must have recourse to God if we are to survive the dangerous path down the mountain.

In 2017, we might ‘unexpect’ Divine action. As the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima approaches, it is impossible for Catholics not to think of her Message in 1917. Looking at the past, we saw her maternal warnings about world wars, conflicts, persecutions, and the spreading of the errors of Russia throughout the world have all come to pass. There is no reason to doubt that her remaining predictions for the future will also happen. In the back of many people’s minds is the question of whether this will be the “Fatima year” when further events might occur—and heavenly aid might be supplied.

So much could happen in 2017. The key to survival is fidelity to our Christian principles and confidence in Providence. Indeed, we were brought to the edge of the abyss in the first place because so many abandoned moral principles over the last decades. We have avoided disaster so far, but it would be wrong to think that we will survive the rough roller coaster ride ahead without a return to moral principles.

As seen on catholic365.com

Three Ways Frenetic Intemperance Marked the Sixties

In his book, Return to Order, author John Horvat described a spirit of unrestraint that dominated culture and economy, which he called frenetic intemperance. The following article is part of a series of articles written by history teacher Edwin Benson that explains some stages by which America adopted this spirit of frenetic intemperance and its consequence in society. In this article he focuses on what is sometimes called “the promise of the sixties,” particularly the ideas behind three catchphrases of the period, and the lingering effect of all those unmet expectations.

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For better or for worse, your generation has been appointed, by history, to deal with those problems and to lead America toward a new age. You have the chance never before afforded to any people in any age. You can help build a society where the demands of morality, and the needs of the spirit, can be realized in the life of the Nation. … So let us from this moment begin our work so that in the future men will look back and say, “It was then, after a long and weary way, that man turned the exploits of his genius to the full enrichment of his life.”

Lyndon Johnson, “Great Society” Speech
May 22, 1964

He sought a Great Society. He ushered in bitterness and resentment. …The rhetoric of LBJ was in the disastrous tradition of JFK – encouraging the popular superstition that the state could change the quality, no less, of American life. This led necessarily to disappointment, and the more presumptuous the rhetoric, the more bitter the disappointment.

William F. Buckley, Jr.
“Lyndon Johnson, R.I.P.” January 27, 1973

It is easy to see the decade after the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963 as a crescendo of frenetic intemperance. The images are vivid to those who lived through the period and well known to those born later. The mud-soaked bacchanalia of Woodstock, the anti-Vietnam War protests, or hippies driving Volkswagen vans, are images that inspire nostalgia in some. To others they represent the nadir of American civilization. All agree that it was part and parcel of a revolution.

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“the promise of the sixties”

To chronicle the events of the period would require more space than this essay affords. Rather than discussing the fast-paced music, the outlandish fashions and the peculiar politics of the period, we will focus upon what is sometimes called “the promise of the sixties” and the lingering effect of all those unmet expectations.

There is, perhaps, no better place to find the goals of that revolution than the lyrics of the song Imagine by John Lennon.[1] There the anti-religion, anti-private property, radically egalitarian ethos of the period was spelled out in twenty-six lines.

This revolution unleashed a spirit of frenetic intemperance, the desire to do everything instantly, effortless and without restraint. This essay will be confined to a brief discussion of the ideas behind three phrases one began to hear during this period—situation ethics, liberation theology, and the hedonism of “if it feels good, do it.”

The phrase, situation ethics, comes from the title of a 1966 book by Joseph Fletcher, a one-time clergyman in the Episcopal Church and later an avowed atheist. Fletcher argued that “love” was to be the basis of all ethical decisions. If a decision was made in a spirit of love for all involved, the subsequent actions, no matter what they may have been, were ethical.

Since Fletcher’s ideas bore a superficial resemblance to Christ’s teachings on the importance of love, many ill-informed Christians were deceived by them. Law, doctrine, dogma, justice, and tradition were all expected to fall before the altar of love.

Relatively few people actually read Fletcher—or even knew his name. However, his ideas sounded forth from all the media and took root in the minds of a society. Left unexplored was the fact that “love” is a very ambiguous concept. For those who lacked any sense of objective truth, it was incredibly easy to use the word to justify almost any form of conduct.

What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?

Likewise, “liberation” movements abounded throughout the period. To most, the word meant abandoning any sort of traditional restraint in favor of the frenetic intemperance of the new times. To adhere to old morals and values was to be, in the term of the time, “square.” The newly-enlightened set new standards of dress, dance, coupling, language, art and manners. Family, patriotism, and modesty were out. Self-expression, rebellion, and free love were in.

“older people wanted to prove that they could also be ‘with it.'”

A key difference between this period and earlier times was the reaction of the (presumably) more mature. Earlier generations faced the follies of the young in the sure knowledge that, one day, the young would “grow up” when they were forced to embrace the responsibilities of job, marriage, and family. By 1970, a new phenomenon appeared in which older people wanted to prove that they could also be “with it.” The “cool mom” let her kids and their friends drink and smoke marijuana in the family home. Dad grew sideburns and abandoned his blue suits and white shirts for paisley prints and jackets with Nehru collars. Employers looked the other way—or even participated—when the office became the setting for casual sexual relationships among employees. Richard Nixon showed up on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In—one of the most popular television shows of the time—mouthing the show’s catch phrase, “Sock it to me.”

Against this background, many argued that the Church needed to “get with the times” as well. As liturgical experimentation abounded, the use of Latin, praying the rosary, and many statues were discarded. The pipe organ sat unused while guitars and drums occupied a platform in the corner of the church where Our Lady’s altar had once been. “The Spirit of Vatican II” was cited to assert that the traditional Church was gone and a new one—more relevant to the changing times—was being born. From Latin America came a new phrase, “liberation theology,” which attempted to synthesize the spirit of the times with a large dose of socialism and as small an amount of Catholicism as possible. Our Precious Lord was recast as “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

Finally, the slogan of the age became, “If it feels good, do it!” The hedonism of the outside world infected many parishes. Solemn processions and gregorian chant just didn’t have the same emotional punch as joining hands and singing “Kumbaya” at the offertory. Priests and nuns joined the rebellion against celibacy. Surely, the refrain ran, “One day those old men in Rome will allow priests to marry—they just HAVE to.” When His Holiness Pope Paul VI didn’t respond quickly enough, they simply abandoned their vocations, often with the blessings of their bishops.

Of course, the euphoria of this frenetic intemperance couldn’t last—but its siren song to a life without restraints continues to draw many. Those who lived through the sixties are growing old today, but the society that they created still excites. Because they have run television and the movies for the last fifty years, their dreams are still dreamed, their songs are still played, their social standards still prevail. We never attained Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” but its unfulfilled dreams linger. It appears that the disappointment of the never-dawning “Age of Aquarius” does not make our society repent of its hubris. Rather, the themes of the period just seem to get louder. The frenetic intemperance of the sixties still plays on.

Related Articles

American Intemperance in the Twentieth Century: Abandonment of Traditional Morality and World War I

American Intemperance in the Twentieth Century: The Installment Plan and the Making of the American Consumer

The Frenetically Intemperate Fifties: A Look at Twentieth Century America


[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=lyrics+revolution+beatles&ie=&oe=#q=lyrics+imagine+beatles

Those Who Are More Educated Are More Religious

Those Who Are More Educated Are More Religious

“educated Americans are much more likely to be attached to traditional religious institutions”

Marx taught that religion is the opium of the masses. His simplistic view held that it is the simple folk that cling to religion, while more enlightened educated people do not need such spiritual attachments or “superstitions.” Reason alone suffices to explain everything. The more educated individuals are, the more likely they will be to not be religious.

Looking at polarized America today, researchers now claim this old view about education and religion no longer applies. In fact, educated Americans are much more likely to be attached to traditional religious institutions than uneducated ones.

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At the University of Virginia, sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox found that church attendance in recent decades declined twice as fast among those with a high school diploma compared to those with a college degree. In another study, University of Nebraska sociologist Philip Schwadel concluded that, the likelihood of church attendance increased by 15 percent with each additional year of education.

It appears the enlightened ones have finally seen the light. The more they learn, the more it becomes evident to them that religion is a reasonable way to explain everything.

What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?

Need a Speaker for 2017?

“Mr. Horvat has spoken at hundreds of events”

If you like the ideas found in the book, Return to Order, now is the time to schedule author John Horvat II to address your group or gathering for 2017. Over the years, Mr. Horvat has spoken at hundreds of events and functions with his clear message to bring America back to God and Christian order.

Mr. Horvat can speak to your church, pro-life or conservative groups. Bring him to your classes, study groups or universities to talk on academic and sound economic subjects. Sponsor a book signing or home event with family and friends. Feature him on your radio program or show. He makes the ideas found in his book come alive.

Free Book: Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go

“My goal is to get America talking about those vital core issues that no one is talking about,” says Mr. Horvat. “To do this, I will go anywhere and talk to anyone. The most important thing is to get the message out.”

Invite him to any place where the idea of a return to order can inspire, encourage and motivate people to change America for the better. His talks have already helped make this award-winning book an important contribution shaping the debate over America’s future.

Mr. Horvat can take any chapter from Return to Order and turn into a lively point of discussion.

Feel free to choose from these topics of Mr. Horvat’s more recent talks:

  • “The Coming Pro-Life Challenges: What It Will Take to Win.”
  • “Return to Order: The Only Real Option for the Coming Millennials”
  • “Return to Order: A Distinctly Catholic View of Contemporary Economics”
  • “America’s Fatima Future:  What It Will Take to Make It Happen”
  • “The Benedict Option and a Return to Order”
  • “A ‘Way of the Cross’ Society”
  • “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother: The Key to Bringing America Back to Order”
  • “Masculinity as Revealed through Medieval Chivalric Legends”
  • “The Challenges of Big Government: When Caesar Wants What Isn’t His”
  • Other talks addressing subjects discussed in Return to Order.

There are still slots open on Mr. Horvat’s speaking schedule for 2017. No event or group is too big or small for a presentation. Please act soon to guarantee availability. To schedule a “Return to Order” event, please contact John at this email address: jh1908@aol.com

or call him at 717-225-7147 ex. 227.

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Some Testimonials

“Your talk was very successful. They really got a lot out your message and we spent some time tonight talking about it. God bless you for all you do for our Lord and the Blessed Mother!!! We need you badly to be the light in the midst of darkness.”
— Helen McMinn- Pro-life Activist, Reading, Penn.


“I wanted to thank John Horvat II for speaking at our Catholic Business Breakfast. His address was spot on and everyone who came to the Harbour Club that morning was delighted. I hope that Return to Order will continue to inspire that much-needed regeneration of wisdom and virtue in America.”
— Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bascom- Charleston, SC


“His talk was very useful. It helped me understand that the current economic crisis finds its root in a moral crisis.  Mr. Horvat gave us concrete solutions to turn the tide.”
— Michel de Keukelaere- Law Student, Brussels


“I fear that good-hearted, Christian, family-loving folks have almost lost sight of what is truly important in our human journey.  John Horvat II hasn’t forgotten. … He explained with amazing clarity “where we’ve been, how we got here and where we need to go.”  John Horvat’s book Return to Order is the medicine our patriots need.  He presented it with grace, charm and humility.  The audience was spellbound and was left to realize that we had just witnessed greatness.  God bless and be with you, John.
— Jan Lenox- Director Tea Party Patriots of Southern New Jersey