Michael Hess has been part of theFremont Catholic Men’s Group since our first TMIY, September 2015. Michael became one of the CORE team leaders for year 2, and has been a very faithful part of our Fremont program ever since. Michael’s wife, Kelsea, is very active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society here in Fremont. She is a proud mom of 3 beautiful children. She is very involved in many programs @ St. Joseph’s.
I recently sat down with Kelsea and Michael, and we talked about their faith, their family, and how they feel the Fremont Catholic Men’s Group and TMIY has helped them in their daily family and catholic community’s lives.
Michael and Kelsea represent a group of Catholic Millennial’s that do represent the best in our Catholic future. George Dunlap, 9/13/2019
George Dunlap, August 29, 2019: I have followed Mary Eberstadt’s writings for several years. First starting with her book Adam and Eve after the Pill. She is a Catholic writer with great depth and passion. Her understanding of human nature and God have helped me understand our “Fallen Nature” and our need for Redemption. I trust if you take the time and patience you too will find Mary’s work a blessing.
Seen one way, the work leading up to this book began with a wisecrack. In the 1980s, right after graduating from college with majors in philosophy and government, I was hired as an assistant editor at The Public Interest magazine in New York. Its fabled editor was Irving Kristol, a formidable intellectual and wit with a first-rate, small-“c,” catholic mind. (He was also something of an imp – as his self-description of “neo-orthodox, non-observant Jew” might suggest.)
One day, as we were all sitting in the tiny smoke-filled office on East 53rd Street, Irving looked up from his newspaper and remarked, “One of the funniest things about the twentieth century is that if you were to read all of its documents and ask which one was the most prophetic about the world to come, it would be Humanae Vitae.”
The thought was unexpected and contrarian, as Irving’s bon mots usually were. The staff, myself included, duly laughed. But that heretical notion stuck. This was the first time I remember thinking that there might be something to the argument that the sexual revolution was upending the world – and that it wasn’t only the Catholic Church that could see it.
That small epiphany would go on to play a part in some of my work. My first book, Home-Alone America (2004), looked at the record of rising post-revolutionary damage in places that sociologists and others had been measuring for years – mainly, the ravaged home and its attendant problems, especially among children.
Adam and Eve after the Pill (2012) widened the lens to examine the revolution’s apparent effects on men, women, and the change in mores. Both books invoked evidence from across the cultural spectrum, including literature, popular culture, sociology, and first-hand reports from therapists and others on the front lines. These books also documented disturbing trends that would not become common knowledge until recently, such as rising rates of psychiatric trouble among the young.
The growing empirical record was greatly at odds with the dominant cultural insistence on the purported benefits of post-1960s liberation. How the West Really Lost God (2013) took the next logical step of examining the relationship between the new sexual order and the churches. Secularization, it concluded, has been widely misunderstood. It is not inevitable. History shows instead that religiosity waxes and wanes over time. It is as robust – or as weak – as the force through which it is largely transmitted: the family.
My new book,Primal Screams, is a capstone of sorts to these previous efforts. It examines the legacy of post-1960s change at one more macrocosmic level: politics. Primal Screams argues in part that the signature political movement of our time – identity politics – is rooted in the post-revolutionary erasure of self, brought on by the shrinkage and implosion of the family.
By: George Dunlap, August 26, 2019, The only power we as Christians have over evil is the Power of Truth from God, and that truth comes from rigorous study. Ignorance is not bless. The Aquinas 101 program is another great resource for our continuing search for truth and God’s Blessings.
It Matters What You Think By Robert Royal Monday, August 26, 2019
I wrote here recently about the Thomistic Institutes, an initiative of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C., which organizes lectures and conferences by first-rate, orthodox Catholics at nearly fifty (and growing) of the most prestigious colleges and universities in America. And expansion to parts foreign is on the way. Many readers wrote to express their appreciation of this much-needed network – but also to ask: What to do if nothing of that sort is available nearby? There’s now an answer. Today, August 26, Aquinas 101 – a website created by the same Dominicans – goes live (click here, and prepare yourself for a bracing experience). The series will eventually consist of eighty-six brief lessons, carefully geared for study by anyone of normal capabilities and interest. Did I mention that the course is open to everyone – and free? This is an accessible, well-crafted introduction to the greatest of all Dominican thinkers, St. Thomas Aquinas, which will not only put you in touch with the man who has most shaped Catholic thought for centuries, but will help you see how that body of thought has great relevance to some of the most neuralgic questions we face. For example, a lot of people today, even Christians, even Catholics, have fallen into some basic confusions about the nature of Faith and Reason. As an early lecture in the series explains, this leads – on the one hand – to skepticism (we can’t really know anything about God), but also – on the other hand – to what has been termed “fideism,” that we just believe without knowing what we believe in. Both are natural reactions in a post-truth age, but a searching Catholic will not want to let his or her thinking remain stuck in our current social funk. There are better and “truer” ideas about truth, so to speak, that Aquinas and others provide us. You’ve probably seen the recent survey that shows how few people, even among practicing Catholics, believe in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Many regard it as a mere “symbol.” Ultimately, the Eucharist is a deep mystery, but holy and gifted men like Aquinas have used the various tools of the tradition and of human reason to offer serious, rational approaches to what ultimately transcends us – and all Creation. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest, recently commented on the survey that he didn’t believe in the terms like substance, accident, matter, and form that Aquinas uses to explain the Eucharist because modern science has discredited them. In fact, science has not done so and cannot do so because the way the Scholastic thinkers use those terms is philosophical. It does not and cannot conflict with science – ancient, modern, postmodern, or anything to come, ever. But you would have to have studied what those terms mean and how Faith and Reason are related to know why.
The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art by Elizabeth Lev
by: George Dunlap, May 1, 2019 – With the burning of Notre-Dame de Paris, we see that our Catholic art has been taken for granted, as is the case with anything we are use to living with, we forget the art in the history of this beautiful Church and all its art within the Church. Some may call Notre-Dame a museum, and many will call it a most holy Cathedral. If it takes a museum to bring the lost back to our faith, then so be it. Our Lord leads us all to the Father. I enjoyed the interview on EWTN between Raymond Arroyo and Elizabeth Lev as they talk about Catholic Art and its beauty.
Exactly 20 years ago, in U.S. Senate testimony just weeks after the Columbine High School massacre, I offered these thoughts:
The real problem [of Columbine-like violence in our culture] is in here, in us . . . In the last four decades we’ve created a culture that markets violence in dozens of different ways, seven days a week. It’s part of our social fabric. When we build our advertising campaigns on consumer selfishness and greed, and when money becomes the universal measure of value, how can we be surprised when our sense of community erodes? When we glorify and multiply guns, why are we shocked when kids use them?
When we answer murder with more violence in the death penalty, we put the state’s seal of approval on revenge. When the most dangerous place in the country is a mother’s womb and the unborn child can have his or her head crushed in an abortion, even in the process of being born, the body language of that message is that life isn’t sacred and may not be worth much at all. In fact, certain kinds of killing no longer even count officially as “killing.” Certain kinds of killing we enshrine as rights and protect by law. When we live this kind of contradiction, why are we surprised at the results?
The Columbine murders will mark my [Denver] community
for years to come. They’re a wound felt by the entire country — but I
don’t think they’ll be the last. We live in the most violent century in
history. Nothing makes us immune from that violence except a relentless
commitment to respect the sanctity of each human life, from womb to
natural death. The civility and community we’ve built in this country
are fragile. We’re losing them. In examining how and why our culture
markets violence, I ask you not to stop with the symptoms. Look deeper.
The families in Littleton and throughout the country deserve at least
In separate incidents over the past two weeks, gunmen have
killed three persons and wounded 13 others in Gilroy, CA; killed at
least 20 and wounded 26 others in El Paso TX; and killed at least nine
and wounded 27 others in Dayton, OH. These are just the latest in a
long pattern of mass shootings; shootings that have blood-stained the
past two decades with no end in sight. Now begins the usual aftermath:
expressions of shock; hand-wringing about senseless (or racist, or
religious, or political) violence; bitter arguments about gun control;
heated editorials, earnest (but brief) self-searching of the national
soul, and eventually – we’re on to the next crisis.
I buried some of the young Columbine victims 20 years ago. I sat
with their families, watched them weep, listened to their anger, and saw
the human wreckage that gun violence leaves behind. The experience
taught me that assault rifles are not a birthright, and the Second
Amendment is not a Golden Calf. I support thorough background checks
and more restrictive access to guns for anyone seeking to purchase
them. But it also taught me that only a fool can believe that “gun
control” will solve the problem of mass violence. The people using
the guns in these loathsome incidents are moral agents with twisted
hearts. And the twisting is done by the culture of sexual anarchy,
personal excess, political hatreds, intellectual dishonesty, and
perverted freedoms that we’ve systematically created over the past
So I’ll say it again, 20 years later. Treating the symptoms in a
culture of violence doesn’t work. We need to look deeper. Until we’re
willing to do that, nothing fundamental will change.
It appears that the mere mention of the name Jordan Peterson is enough
to send some on the far-left end of the spectrum into irrational
BY: George Dunlap. I have read Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules For Life, and found it to be very enlightening. As Bishop Barron mentions below, ” in no way signaled a one-sided or uncritical endorsement of his teaching. Nevertheless, his emergence and his success are, I argued, indicators that we could get a serious message across to a wide audience. “ But I do agree what Peterson has to say is very worth while for our “Nones” in faith. We are raising a generation with out a spiritual compass. With a compass we all are lost in our faith and love to Jesus Christ our Lord and God.
Last week, I gave a presentation
at the USCCB Spring Meeting in Baltimore. My topic was what I
identified as the second greatest crisis facing the Church today—namely,
the massive attrition of our own people, especially the young. I trust
that the first—around which most of our discussions that week
revolved—is obvious to everyone. Judging from the extremely positive
reaction of my brother bishops and the lively conversation that followed
my presentation, the talk was well received. I was also delighted it
apparently prompted a spirited conversation on social media.
After laying out the rather dismal statistics regarding the “nones”
or the religiously unaffiliated—50% of millennial Catholics now claim no
religious identity, for every one person who joins our Church, six are
leaving, etc.—I commenced to offer some reasons why so many are exiting.
I told my brother bishops that these were not the fruit of idle
speculation but rather of the many statistical and sociological studies
that have been conducted regarding the phenomenon.
The number one reason—reiterated in survey after survey—is that young people are quitting the Churchbecause they don’t believe in the teachings of classical Christianity. Moreover, the studies consistently maintain that this lack of belief is often because religion is seen as conflicting with science. Other factors, I continued, include the general secularism and moral relativism of the culture, the difficulty many young people have with the Church’s sexual teachings, and the supposed correlation between religion and violence.
Having presented these findings, I then shared what I take to be
signs of hope. The first is that, among the unaffiliated, there are
relatively few fierce atheists or determined opponents of religion. Most
are indifferent to faith and have drifted rather than stormed away from
the Church. A second indicator of hope is the massive presence of young
people on social media platforms that trade in religious topics. I
mentioned my own participation in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), which
yielded almost 12,000 comments and questions, making it the third most
discussed exchange of its kind last year. Even though many, if not most,
of those who joined in that conversation proposed challenging
questions, or made skeptical observations, the undoubted interest in
matters religious is something to build on.
Finally, I referenced what I called “the Jordan Peterson phenomenon.”
I was drawing my brothers’ attention to the rather extraordinary fact
that a mild-mannered, soft-spoken psychology professor, speaking of
serious matters in a sober way, could attract tens of thousands to
arenas and millions to his social media sites. I told my fellow bishops
that most recently Peterson has been lecturing on the Bible, causing
armies of people, especially young men, to take a fresh look at the
Scriptures. I explicitly said that my reference to Peterson in no way
signaled a one-sided or uncritical endorsement of his teaching.
Nevertheless, his emergence and his success are, I argued, indicators
that we could get a serious message across to a wide audience.
The reaction to my talk outside the walls of the bishops’ conference
ballroom was, as I say, interesting. Most reacted very positively to my
observations and suggestions, but some, on both the extreme left and the
extreme right, took exception to what I said. On the starboard side of
the spectrum, there were comments to the effect that I had underplayed
the importance of the clerical sex abuse scandals. Well, no one has been
more vehement in his denunciation of these outrages than I (see my
recent Letter to a Suffering Church
for the details), but judging from the available data, it’s simply not
the case that the scandals are a major driver of disaffiliation. They
indeed appear as a factor, but not a significant one, certainly in
comparison with the causes I named above. I get the passion around this
issue, but it shouldn’t prompt us to draw conclusions not supported by
But I was especially surprised, and more than a little amused, by the
overheated response from some on the far-left end of the spectrum. It
appears that the mere mention of the name Jordan Peterson is enough to
send some into irrational conniptions. Though I had unambiguously stated
that my reference to the Canadian was in no way meant as an endorsement
of the entirety of his thought, some commentators and combox denizens
characterized me as a Peterson disciple, an apologist for his program, a
One particularly hysterical observer had me “basing my apologetics” on Jordan Peterson! Oy vey. As I have made clear in my own articles and videos,
Peterson reads the Bible through a Jungian, psychodynamic lens, and
hence, by definition, does not read it adequately. It is not even
evident that the Canadian believes in God in the accepted sense of the
term. “Basing my apologetics” on him?! Give me a break.
What is particularly sad to me is that the commentariat, especially
in regard to religion, has become so polarized and ideologically driven
that the most elementary distinctions aren’t made and the most
broad-brush analyses are commonplace. What makes it sadder still is that
these distortions and projections stand in the way of addressing the
vitally important issue under consideration. As left and right defend
their respective ideological bailiwicks, the Church continues to
hemorrhage young people. If we want to get serious about a problem that
ought to concern everyone in the Church, it would be wise to attend to
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