Reading ‘How The West Really Lost God’ As A Catholic

It seems to me, three years after the publication of Mary Eberstadt’s How the West Really Lost God, that this book has not gotten the attention it deserves. Because it drove me to read Humanae Vitae, the encyclical which God used to plunge me into the deep truths of the Catholic faith, it is fitting to complete the circle by reviewing it again, this time as a Catholic. Read the rest of my review at The Kindling.

In Supporting Trump, Conservative Men Abandon Conservative Women

On October 7, the Washington Post released video of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump making lewd remarks. The transcript is jaw-dropping. If it had been a Democratic nominee, the Republicans would have gotten on top of their moral high horse and chastised away.

Some, like House Republican leader Paul Ryan, have denounced Trump’s remarks. Ryan went a small step further and disinvited Trump from a campaign event in Wisconsin where they were scheduled to appear together.

Some months back, in a blatantly hypocritical move, certain evangelical leaders like Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Trump and encouraged evangelical Christians to vote for him. Evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem, who has “taught Christian ethics for 39 years,” went so far as to write that “voting for Trump is a morally good choice” (Update: After this article was written, Grudem walked back those comments yesterday.) One wonders what kind of Christian ethics he has been teaching for 39 years. Read the rest of my article at The Federalist.

Is Choosing To Stay At Home Sustainable For Women

During the recent British prime minister race, candidate Andrea Leadsom made the following comment: “Genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.” Many said the statement sounded like criticism against Leadsom’s Tory leadership rival then, Theresa May, who is now the new U.K. prime minister.

It’s hard to say whether Leadsom was engaging in “mommy wars” rhetoric against May, who has no children. At any rate, Leadsom apologized, and stepped down as PM contender. May, it turns out, has been married for almost 40 years; she and her husband wanted children, but couldn’t have any. Many lessons can be learned from this little episode, the most obvious being: you do not know the mind and heart of another person, so be charitable!

 It’s true that everyone, whether a mother or not, has a tangible stake in the future of their country. But mothers also carry a certain anxiety concerning their children’s fate. In light of the thinning middle class (see here, here, here, and here), some of our children may not be better off than we are. The upward mobility and economic progress we’ve enjoyed, which has generally allowed each generation to land in a slightly better place than their parents, may be slowing down.

If this continues, some of our daughters may not be able to take the at-home option as mothers. Those of us who care about the future of the family (whether we have children or not, and whether we are married or not) should discuss the future of the at-home mom option. Certainly this is largely an economic issue, but here I want to approach the question from a primarily cultural perspective. Read the rest of my article at The Federalist.

Gospel Amnesia in Politics: A Review of Stephen White’s “Red, White, Blue, and Catholic”

Many of us seem to be polarized by ideology and demagoguery. Catholics, and others in the Judeo-Christian tradition often subvert the faith to political ideas. Whether on social media or in certain company, these days one cannot say that the human person is created as male and female without being accused of perpetuating a false gospel of gender binaries. Nor can one say “we should feed the hungry and care for the poor” without being labelled a “socialist / communist / liberal / progressive.”

“The false divide between orthodox faith and social-justice work is pernicious, a sign of dysfunction in our politics” Stephen White, fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writes in his just released book, Red, White, Blue, and Catholic. But White is not despairing; he believes we can begin even now to be stronger, well formed citizens of this great country. This is the driving force behind his book: A call to citizenship informed by a strong Catholic faith. Read the rest of the review here at The Kindling.

Saying Goodbye To A Daughter

I war against bitterness as a mother. The “bitters,” as I call them, are the Sirens always diverting a mother from the heroic journey of child raising. As a new phase of this epic unfolds, that of sending a daughter off to college, the “bitters” amplify, and resistance requires fresh calls for supernatural aid.

I remember: toddler days spent on the little patio that connected our small, two-story condominium with our garage; there was sidewalk chalk and playing kitchen. I remember her plump face giggling in her car seat through the lens of the review mirror, trying to make a joke and ending with: “I just choking mommy, I just choking!”

Her favorite, recited umpteen times a day was: “What do you call a cow with no legs? Ground beef!” I remember the fussing and crying every night at bath time—she hated having her hair shampooed; the blood-curdling scream the first time a fly landed on her arm. I remember tea time every day with Walker’s shortbread cookies. And I remember prayers and “Goodnight Moon” every night in the rocking chair. Every night: “Goodnight room, Goodnight moon, Goodnight cow jumping over the moon…” Read the rest of my article at The Federalist.

Catholic Integral Complementarity

Note: Dear reader, In light of the recent discussion on complementarity, the Nicene understanding of the Trinity, and the Eternal Subordination of the Son, I write here a simple description of Catholic integral complementarity. This is not a theological treatise with philosophical and theological proofs. Nor should this essay be taken as an aim at proselytizing the reader. I write it in good will, as your sister in Christ and as a Catholic convert from Protestantism, and from these very circles in particular. My hope is that this basic description of Catholic integral complementarity will help inform the intra-Protestant discourse on the topic. I ask that you read it charitably with an eye to glean understanding of this viewpoint and not only to refute. It is one thing to claim on paper or teach that women have equal dignity with men, it is another to build a culture which makes that gospel truth thrive; and yet another to read me, a woman, through that respectful lens—as you would respectfully read a male author. Lastly, please note that when I write Church in this essay, I am referring to the Roman Catholic Church and her Magisterium.

The first, and most helpful thing to understand about the Roman Catholic Christian faith is that the theory of integral complementarity, is predicated on a foundational idea about man and the world God created. From this foundational idea others spring forth. Without understanding this “Catholic difference” nothing Catholic makes sense. George Weigel has written, “while Catholicism is a body of beliefs and a way of life, Catholicism is also an optic, a way of seeing things, a distinctive perception of reality.” Although it can be described in a variety of ways, I have found Weigel’s the most helpful.

He writes:

You can call it the ‘Catholic both/and’: nature and grace, faith and works, Jerusalem and Athens, faith and reason, charismatic and institutional, visible and invisible. You can call it the “sacramental imagination”… You can call it a taste for the analogical, as distinguished from some Protestants’ taste for the dialectical.” [Emphasis in the original]

Therefore, in order to grasp how Catholics think about biblical complementarity and the complementarity even within the natural world God created, one must get this Catholic both/and thing. The Catholic both/and, in turn, rests on a fundamental Catholic understanding, one of the pillars of Catholicism: It is that grace does not destroy nature, but perfects and elevates it—transforming it, even in the here and now. Read the rest of my essay at Mortification of Spin.

Israel, The Only Hope For Arab Christians

I own a cassette tape of five-year-old me reciting an Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party chant I learned at school in Baghdad. Roughly translated, it begins: “Ba’athi Ba’athi, this is my manifesto…”

This children’s ditty goes on to celebrate the nationalization of oil, and the July revolution of 1958 when Abd al-Karim Qasim and cohort executed a coup d’état against the British backed monarchy of King Faisel II, overthrowing him for a “republic” whose goal was to advance pan-Arabism. In another segment, taped when I was in second grade, my father asks me what I was learning in school. I answer with the tripartite “Wahda, hurriyya, u ishteeraqkia”—oneness, freedom, and socialism.

 The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party propaganda taught that these ideals were: the oneness of all Arab countries—regardless of their cultural difference—uniting under one foundational national government against imperialism; freedom, which lies in liberating Arabs from oppression by foreign powers; and socialism, which is transferring the means of production in the Arab economy from being privately held to being government-controlled.

This childhood experience of mine came to mind recently when I watched a video of Palestinian children (particularly a little girl at the end) regurgitating vile hatred and violence toward Israelis. The surreal horror of anti-Semitism instilled in Arab children came home to me. The girl—who looks no older than five years old—shouts “Stab! Stab! Stab!” while slashing the air with a knife. Read the rest of my essay at The Federalist.

From Salem to DC: Mary Eberstadt’s Analysis of the Dangerous Religion of Secular Progressivism

During my first few weeks in America, I vividly remember my mom gasping in surprise and pointing out a large cross on a hill overlooking the freeway in southern California. As my dad tried to concentrate on driving, my mother exclaimed with amazement (in Arabic): “They allow crosses on hills in America!” My father brought me to America so that I could have freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of thought. We never thought that they would be curtailed. We never thought that a day would come when people would agitate over crosses on hills, the Decalogue in courthouses, and pro-life pins on lapels. My father brought me here. If this trajectory continues, where might I take my children?

This is the precise question with which Mary Eberstadt begins the introduction to her small but mighty book, It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies. Faced with hardships, vilifications, and discriminations great and small, many believers have begun to ask: “Where will we go?” Inspired by their experiences, Eberstadt offers an extended meditation on secular progressivism’s “soft persecution” of Christians and religious freedom. Please read the rest of the review at Public Discourse.

Amoris Laetitia From Someone Who’s Walked The Penitential Path

Like waves breaking on rock, polishing and shaping by force, the Catholic faith sands and sculpts my being. The day my soul became Catholic was the day I found out that as a divorced and remarried woman I could not receive Communion. “Truth enlightens man’s intelligence and shapes his freedom,” Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in Veritatis Splendor. This is how my conversion to Catholicism has been: the fullness of truth purifying and reorienting my thought and imagination—metanoia. Read the rest of the article at First Things Magazine.

How Women Should Rethink The American Dream

In an election year we hear candidates tell us how they want to make the “American Dream” available to everyone. By this they usually mean a good education that leads to a job with upward mobility, which includes salary raises and promotions, retirement accounts, and of course home ownership. The American Dream is well known around the world. It is a driving force for immigrants legal and illegal. In America (theoretically, anyway), education and work are available to anyone who really wants it: man and woman, young and old, rich and poor. Read the rest of my article at The Federalist.