Smoky Mountains Sunrise
Showing posts with label Natural Law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Natural Law. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Republican Tsunami: We Need a Morally Coherent Presidential Candidate

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Like millions in the United States of America I am tired today. After an evening of ministry in Church on November 4, 2014, I returned home and watched network television. I also utilized my mobile device to stay abreast of the election returns. It was a long night.

The facts speak for themselves. This was not simply a Republican wave, it was a Tsunami. What will follow in its wake is up to us.

The importance of the midterm election cannot be overstated. It was not about political parties. It was about buying some time to hold back the collapse of a culture spinning out of control. The loss of our national moral compass is at the root of every other problem, economic, international, or social. There is a moral foundation to a free society. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Perfectly Natural July 4th

Editor’s note: A shorter version of this article first appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Will you be celebrating Natural Law this July 4th? You should be. Your Founding Fathers did.

In declaring their independence and asserting their God-given rights, the Founding Fathers—particularly the pen of Thomas Jefferson—acknowledged the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” These were no minor things. Indeed, maintained the Founders, you were entitled to them. (These were days when an entitlement meant something rather than any new thing.) The Founders believed that, in the course of human events, they had at long last arrived at that point where they and their countrymen could rightfully assume these rights “among the Powers of the Earth.” They were not only declaring their independence from the British Crown (itself a huge deal); they were asserting self-evident truths and claiming certain unalienable rights that were theirs not only as Americans but as humans.

So, what of this Natural Law stuff? What did and does it mean? And why does it still matter?

“There can be no doubt that those delegates in Philadelphia who adopted that Declaration believed in, and based the nation’s independence on, the Natural Law,” states Robert Barker, professor emeritus of law at Duquesne University, and an eloquent expert on the subject. Addressing the American Founders Lecture Series, held quarterly at Pittsburgh’s Rivers Club by the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College, Barker defines Natural Law thusly: “God, in creating the universe, implanted in the nature of man a body of law to which all human beings are subject, which is superior to manmade law, and which is knowable by human reason.”

The Natural Law as understood by the Founders, says Barker, was the same that for two millennia had been a “traditional and essential” element of Western civilization.

To illustrate the point, Barker marshals the likes of Aquinas, Sophocles, Aristotle, and Cicero. Among them, he cites Sophocles’ play Antigone, where the heroine (of the same name), condemned to death by an unjust king, informed the king that he was violating a superior, natural law. “I had to choose between your law and God’s law,” she told the king, “and no matter how much power you have to enforce your law, it is inconsequential next to God’s. His laws are eternal, not merely for the moment. No mortal, not even you, may annul the laws of God.”

As Aristotle put it, the Natural Law is a universal law that transcends earthly regimes and stands common to all human beings, “even when there is no community to bind them to one another.”

Cicero saw Natural Law as true law. He wrote: “True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting…. It is a sin to try to alter this law … and it is impossible to abolish it entirely.” He added that “whoever is disobedient” to the Natural Law “is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature.”

The Natural Law is profound and profoundly true. Sadly, it has been profoundly ignored and rejected by modern liberals/progressives and the nation as a whole. We could rattle off a litany of examples, but a major one occurring right now is the issue of “same-sex marriage.” The idea of a man and a man or a woman and a woman marrying one another is an unequivocal violation of the Natural Law. It is an arrangement gravely contrary to human nature. Unfortunately, today’s liberals/progressives could care less; they are fine with happily embracing any and all violations of Natural Law in pursuit of their own new, enlightened laws. It’s part of that glorious “fundamental transformation” of America.

Beyond liberals/progressives, there are countless millions of ordinary Americans who likewise could care less. Their idea of America and July 4th is hot dogs, beer, and fireworks. Natural Law? Sounds boring.

Well, it isn’t. Few things are actually as exhilarating, uplifting, redeeming. Think about it: the Creator implanted in you—that is, in your very nature—a body of truth and law to which you and all human beings are subject; it is superior to manmade law, and it is accessible and knowable by human reason. Sounds like something worth knowing.

Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and New York Times best-selling author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."

Saturday, May 4, 2013

‘Gay Marriage’ or Religious Freedom: You Can’t Have Both

While we wait until June to find out how the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in its two "gay marriage" cases, perhaps it will add a little energy to our prayers to understand that the judges in black will be making a stark choice: The choice is either "gay marriage" or religious freedom, but not both.

If the court, in settling Hollingsworth v. Perry, affirms the desire of the minority to extend the sexual revolution to same-sex "marriage," then it will be a violation of the Constitution (specifically the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment) to claim that homosexual activity and hence homosexual "marriage" are wrong.

Note that both aspects are mentioned. If the law affirms "gay marriage" as a guaranteed right, it implicitly demands that all citizens likewise affirm homosexual activity of any and every kind.

In affirming same-sex "marriage" as a protected right, the Supreme Court will not just be making law — which is itself a violation of the separation of powers — it will be remaking morality.

To be more exact, it will be acting as an instrument of the ongoing (and now, nearly complete) sexual revolution against the Judeo-Christian understanding of sexuality and marriage.

And, to be even more exact, the court will be establishing secular liberalism ever more firmly as our state religion, the worldview that defines what is good and evil, and therefore defines what is legal and illegal.

Unfortunately, that is nothing new.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dr. Charles E. Rice's Commencement Address at Christendom College

"God is not dead. He isn't even tired."

Charles E. Rice is Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame law School. His areas of specialization are constitutional law and jurisprudence. He currently teaches “Law and Morality” at Notre Dame.

Professor Rice was born in 1931, received the B.A. degree from the College of the Holy Cross, the J.D., from Boston College Law School and the LL.M. and J.S.D. from New York University. He served in the United States Marine Corps and is a Lt. Col. in the Marine Corps Reserve (Ret.). He practiced law in New York City and taught at New York University Law School and Fordham Law School before joining, in 1969, the faculty of law at Notre Dame. He served for eight years as State Vice-Chairman of the New York State Conservative Party.

From 1981 to 1993, Professor Rice was a member of the Education Appeal Board of the U.S. Department of Education. He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and to various Congressional committees on constitutional issues and is an editor of the American Journal of Jurisprudence.

HIs continuing 13-part series, The Good Code: The Natural Law is available from the External Word Television Network. Among his books are Freedom of Association; The Supreme Court and Public Prayer, The Vanishing Right to Live; Authority and Rebellion; Beyond Abortion: The Theory and Practice of the Secular State; No Exception: A Pro-Life Imperative; 50 Questions on the Natural Law; and The Winning Side: Questions on Living the Culture of Life. His latest books are Where Did I Come? Where Am I Going? How Do I Get There?, (2nd ed.) co-authored with Dr. Theresa Farnan, and What Happened to Notre Dame?, both published by St. Augustine’s Press in 2009.

He is a faculty advisor and assistant coach of the Notre Dame Boxing Club. He and his wife, Mary, have ten children and they reside in Mishawaka, Indiana.

Following is his commencement address to the 2010 graduates of Christendom College. The full text is here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Natural Question

"Natural law theory is the conceptual backbone of the Western legal tradition. It guided the framers of the American Constitution."

From Catholic Exchange
By Russell Shaw

If I had the chance to ask just one question at the Senate confirmation hearings on Elena Kagan’s fitness to be a justice of the Supreme Court, it would be this: “What do you think of the natural law?” I’d ask that question because it’s more important than most, even all, of the questions that will get asked, not because I have any doubt what the answer would be: “Not much.”

I say this not to the individual discredit of Kagan, Solicitor General of the United States, but precisely because she’s a prominent representative of the Harvard-Yale law school axis now dominating the Supreme Court. As such, it’s safe to say, natural law is simply not a part of her intellectual universe. And that is worth putting on the record, if for no other reason than to dramatize the sorry straits in which American jurisprudence finds itself these days.

Natural law theory is the conceptual backbone of the Western legal tradition. It guided the framers of the American Constitution. Despite what some imagine, it isn’t a doctrine of the Catholic Church, though Catholic thinkers were largely responsible for its elaboration for centuries. A thumbnail sketch of it might be along these lines:

Human rights and duties arise from human nature. The conceptualization of this body of principles expressing fundamental conditions for individual and communal human fulfillment (not instant gratification but longterm happiness) is called natural law. Manmade laws don’t create these rights and duties but are meant to express and defend them. When manmade law fails to do that—when rights and duties are products only of the ideological preferences of lawmakers—society is ruled by a curious mix of relativism and power politics.

Natural law theory began to pass out of favor well over a century ago under the influence, among others, of that eminent relativist Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935). Now, practically speaking, in elite law schools and generally on federal courts peopled by their alumni, it is as dead as the proverbial dodo.

That is a very serious matter. For, as John Courtney Murray, S.J., the eminent American thinker on church-state matters, remarked 50 years ago, “public consensus” on fundamentals is what held a diverse and pluralistic nation like the United States together, and the basis of the American consensus up to then had been natural law. The Civil War was fought largely to test that proposition. When Father Murray wrote in 1960, it was slipping away.

Today it has all but disappeared from sight. Hence the culture war. Consider the sort of questions Americans, lacking a healthy public consensus, often argue about now: whether abortion is allowable simply as an expression of individual choice; whether homosexual relationships should be recognized as marriages (answerable only on the basis of some definition of marriage); whether elderly, sick people should be helped to commit suicide—or put away quietly if they’re too out of it to decide for themselves.

It goes without saying that Elena Kagan is a liberal like the president who nominated her. She is pro-choice and has a disquieting interest in gay rights issues. Barring some astonishing disclosure, she will undoubtedly be confirmed.

I don’t suggest she be asked the specific questions above as part of the confirmation process. I simply wish the process would shed light on her basis for answering them—including her stance toward natural law. She and the other members of the Supreme Court are likely to be called on to answer those questions in the years ahead.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dr. Larry Arnn: "The Educator as Statesman"

By Michael R. Cook
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Anyone concerned about the generally deplorable state of American higher education will be heartened by the remarks, contained in the video below, of Dr. Larry P. Arnn.

Larry Arnn became the twelfth president of Hillsdale College in 2000. Many of us are familiar with Hillsdale as the little school in Michigan that refuses all government funding – as well as the onerous regulations that invariably accompany taxpayer subsidies.

Less well-known, perhaps, is the fact that Hillsdale distinguishes itself, today, as one of the very few places where young Americans can obtain an authentic education in the liberal arts – the kind of education, as Jefferson believed, that is essential to self-government in a free republic.

In fact, Hillsdale is doing today exactly what it has done from the time of its founding in 1844. It teaches the “permanent things.”

And why should we find this heartening? After all, Hillsdale is but one small outpost in a landscape containing thousands of colleges and universities whose faculties have, almost uniformly, abandoned the classical liberal arts curriculum – along with any serious reflection on America’s founding principles.

But at Hillsdale, we do find ample cause for encouragement. Under Dr. Arnn’s inspirational leadership, the college is flourishing. Each year it attracts more and better-qualified applicants for admission. And each year the reach of the school’s influence expands. For example, its monthly speech digest, Imprimis, is now received in 1.8 million homes and offices.

Today, Hillsdale College is anything but obscure. Indeed, some believe that Hillsdale has taken its place as the finest liberal arts college in the land. I include myself among that number.

Listen to Dr. Arnn’s remarks delivered recently before an audience in Naples, Florida, and I think you’ll have good reason to agree with me.