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The Tragedy of Unreality

Eirik Steenhoff

Anthony Esolen is not only a scholar and translator of English and Italian literature; he is perhaps the most formidable Catholic apologist writing in English today. I mean that in the best possible sense. The term “apologist” is usually used these days to designate much lesser writers. Esolen should rather be placed in the tradition after G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. His latest offering, Sex in the Unreal City, is yet another display of his striking prose, exuberant wit, and keen cultural analysis.

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I Identify As...

Issue One: "I Identify As..."

We used to know ourselves by looking to what was most familiar—to our bodies, families, customs, and traditions. Who we were was tied to place, a community of relations whose bearings remained fixed and stable. Today, such embeddedness is intolerable. Identity is something we create, something we express while compelling the recognition of others. Yet, our new “fluid” selves have yielded only homelessness, an existence without roots in either place or person. We live under the specter of there being nothing our own. From where does our permanence derive? Surprisingly, it might be accepting ourselves as beholden to others—as ineluctably given—by which we regain our sense of who we really are.

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Humanum is about the human: what makes us human, what keeps us human, and what does not. We are driven by the central questions of human existence: nature, freedom, sexual difference and the fundamental figures to which it gives rise, man, woman, and child. We probe these in the context of marriage, family, education, work, medicine and bioethics, science and technology, political and ecclesial life. We sift through the many competing ideas of our age so that we might “hold fast to what is good” and let go of what is not. In addition to articles, witness pieces, and book reviews ArteFact: Film & Fiction searches out the human in the literary and cinematic arts.

Humanum is published as a free service by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.