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Arad Ostraca and Composition of the Old Testament

For the past hundred years, scholarship of the Old Testament has been dominated by Documentary Hypothesis. One of the central assertions of the Documentary Hypothesis is that the bulk of the Old Testament was composed during or after the Babylonian Exile. Implied is that the stories of pre-Exilic Israel are more of a national mythology than a real history - that the tales of Moses, Samuel, David, etc. were essentially unhistorical, created after the Babylonian Captivity as a means of affirming national identity. The conventional wisdom, according to the Documentary Hypothesis, is that pre-Exilic Israel was polytheistic and largely illiterate, incapable of producing such exceptional literary works as the Book of Genesis or the Psalms. Essentially, their entire literary culture was absorbed from the culture...


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Passing on the Cost

One of the centerpieces of President Donald Trump's economic policy was the promise to enact protective tariffs on imports to dampen the influence of foreign competition on American sales. While to date the Trump administration has not released an official rate of the proposed tariff, White House Press Secretary has thrown out the tentative number of 20%, not as a concrete proposal, but as an example of what was possible. This has led to widespread speculation on how such tariffs could affect the American consumer, either beneficially or adversely. In this article, we explore one of the economic assumptions behind some of the opposition to protective tariffs, specifically with regards to the concept of "passing cost on" to the customer.


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Organ Postludes

"The traditionally appropriate musical instrument of the Church is the organ, which, by reason of its extraordinary grandeur and majesty, has been considered a worthy adjunct to the Liturgy, whether for accompanying the chant or, when the choir is silent, for playing harmonious music at the prescribed times … Let our churches resound with organ-music that gives expression to the majesty of the edifice and breathes the sacredness of the religious rites; in this way will the art both of those who build the organs and of those who play them flourish afresh and render effective service to the sacred liturgy." — Pius XI, Divini Cultus (1928).


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History of Eucharistic Adoration Up to 1264

Among Protestant and secular historians alike, there is a tendency to assert that the practice of Eucharistic Adoration is of high medieval origin. The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 is often targeted as the moment when belief in Transubstantiation was "invented", with all the Eucharistic devotions following afterward. While Lateran IV certainly defined Transubstantiation, we should not view this moment as a kind of external irruption of a concept foreign to Christianity. Rather, Eucharistic Adoration and all related devotions are grounded in principles that go right back to the Scriptures and the apostolic Church. In this article, we will examine the history of Eucharistic Adoration prior to the year 1264, which is the year the Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted by Pope Urban IV....


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Tarik to His Muslim Hordes

In the year 711, the Muslim hordes swarmed over the Straits of Gibraltar and in to the Visigothic Kingdom of Spain. The leader of the Visigoths, Roderic, marshaled his armies and rode out to confront the Muslim invaders. Unfortunately for Roderic and Visigothic Spain, the Christian armies were disunited and suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Muslims. Roderic was killed, and his defeat ushered in six and a half centuries of Muslim presence in Spain. One of the Muslim commanders during the conquest was called Tarik. Prior to crossing the Straits of Gibraltar and going into Spain, Tarik gave a rousing speech to his men. The speech is a classical example of the sorts of ideals that motivated the Islamic conquest -...


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Terms of Interest

Anyone who has spent some time researching Catholic social teaching has probably come across fierce debates on the issue of charging of interest. The Bible condemns the taking of interest on a loan as the sin of usury and states that it is a form of bondage. However, the discussion is not that simple. Is all interest usury? If so, what of the demands of justice that he who gives out his money in a loan have some sort of compensation for the risk he assumes? If not all interest is usury, at what point does it become usurious? Are there any circumstances that mitigate culpability? Is there nuance in how interest is assessed? Do the Bible and the popes who follow in the biblical...


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Miracle at Mont-St-Michel

One of the most popular literary genres of the Middle Ages were compendiums of miraculous stories. These compendiums would gather together all the miracles associated with a particular saint or shrine for the edification of the lay faithful. One of the most famous compendiums of the 15th century was the Promptuaria exemplorum et de miraculis Beatae Virginis Mariae of Dominican preacher Johann Herolt. The Promptuaria exemplorum was an anthology of all of the most popular miracles attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the Middle Ages. In the excerpt from the Promptuaria exemplorum below, Herolt relates the story of a miracle in the waters outside the famous monastery of Mont St-Michel in Normandy, France, in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to rescue a pregnant woman...


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Alien Civilizations

In June 2016, an article appeared in the New York Times entitled "Yes, There Have Been Aliens. (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/opinion/sunday/yes-there-have-been-aliens.html?_r=0)" The article was written by University of Rochester astrophysicist Dr. Adam Frank. In this article, Dr. Frank promotes a hypothesis arguing conclusively that advanced alien civilizations have definitely existed in the universe, even if none exist at this moment. The basis of this argument is not any empirical evidence of any such advanced civilization, but rather an exercise in statistics derived from the probable number of exoplanets outside our solar system. Using this calculus, Dr. Frank and his associate argue that over a trillion - yes, trillion - advanced civilizations have existed in the universe. Dr. Frank does not mean a trillion planets featuring life, but a...


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Doubt and Christian Faith

Ever since the age of Descartes, doubt has become fashionable. When Descartes introduced methodical doubt as a means to certainty, the intentional exercise of doubt has been the hallmark of the sophisticated. From the philosophes of the Enlightenment who adopted a position of radical skepticism towards the possibility of divine revelation, to the modern scientific establishment that doubts even the rationality of the human mind, doubt has become the disposition through which modern man views reality. Doubt has become such a prevalent part of the modern mindset that it has seeped into Christian thought, which has tended to baptize doubt as a virtue. This appears under the guise of confusing doubt with the "Dark Night" of Catholic mysticism. In this article, we shall contrast doubt...


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Rethinking the Appendix

Since the dawn of the science of human biology in the modern age, it has been taken for granted that the internal organ known as the "appendix" was vestigial. A structure that is "vestigial" is so-called because it is believed to be a "vestige" of the organism at an earlier stage in its evolutionary biology. Vestigial organs or vestigial body parts no longer have any practical function, but they have not yet disappeared from the organism's biology. Another common example is the human tail bone, which is said to be a vestigial remnant of the days when homo sapiens had tails. Thus, vestigiality goes hand in hand with evolutionary biology. The "useless" appendix has always been explained as an organ left over from the days...


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History of the Catholic Church

Theology & Liturgy

  • Organ Postludes

    "The traditionally appropriate musical instrument of the Church is the organ, which, by reason of its extraordinary grandeur and majesty, has been considered a worthy adjunct to the Liturgy, whether for accompanying the chant or, when the choir is silent, for playing harmonious music at the prescrib…

    Read more: Organ Postludes

Catholic Spirituality

  • Doubt and Christian Faith

    Ever since the age of Descartes, doubt has become fashionable. When Descartes introduced methodical doubt as a means to certainty, the intentional exercise of doubt has been the hallmark of the sophisticated. From the philosophes of the Enlightenment who adopted a position of radical skepticism towa…

    Read more: Doubt and...

Saints, Reviews & More!

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)

    Last night my dad and I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Both my father and I enjoyed the first film, and I was happy to say that the second was not bad. In fact, in some respects it was better than the first, though in other respects it wasn't. All in all it held up very well.I have to…

    Read more: Guardians of...

Economy & Society

  • Passing on the Cost

    One of the centerpieces of President Donald Trump's economic policy was the promise to enact protective tariffs on imports to dampen the influence of foreign competition on American sales. While to date the Trump administration has not released an official rate of the proposed tariff, White House Pr…

    Read more: Passing on...