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Past Issues

The Substance of Things

Issue One / 2022

Human life is saturated with the experience of objects. We are, at all times, surrounded by things, whether made or natural. Yet, the ubiquity of things is also the cause of their neglect. How often do we properly attend to the things around us or reflect on the unconscious decisions we make as to their purpose, meaning, and worth? Distinctions between what is natural and artificial, living and lifeless, useful and ornamental, appear obvious, but when probed the scope of these differences is singularly difficult to discern. Behind every encounter with the things of this world lie fundamental judgments as to the nobility of our embodied existence and the dignity of our being creatures in a material world. Although easily overlooked, disdained, and discarded, the inner core of things nonetheless still discloses something as to the mystery of our being human.

I Am a Political Animal

Issue Three / 2021

Since I am a political animal, my identity is inseparable from the polity to which I belong. But in which city do I live? The City of Man or the City of God? The choice is not between a visible and an invisible city, but between an unreal and a real one. The unreal city is the one most familiar to us, the one composed of fictional individuals bound to each other and to God by choice. It is the city that “secures our rights and freedoms” and keeps us “safe,” but only through an ever-increasing tyranny. The real city is the one populated by flesh-and-blood citizens: men, women, and children embedded in the prevenient natural order, bound by the common good, their innate restlessness for the real God ever incarnating in a form of common life for the sake of the world.

Tradition

Issue Two / 2021

We talk incessantly now about identities. But built as they are upon the ruins of our actual selves, the ones embedded in given natural (and supernatural) bonds, we have ceased to have any identity at all. Living in the tiny crawl spaces of our own wills, shut off from anything outside their artificial boundaries, our individuality is wiped out. But if we are still alive and kicking it is because we subsist on the remnant vapors of Tradition with a capital “T,” that heritage of truth that originates in God’s creative Word. It is also because that same Word, mercifully handed over to us in the flesh of the Church, invites us back to our very selves.

I Identify As...

Issue One / 2021

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.

Imagining the Real: Poetry, Story, Myth

Issue Four / 2020

Poiesis delights and entertains us. A novel, a play, a myth retold, even a song: true art is never mere entertainment. In wonder, the poet receives the world for what it is: a theophany—and then, with wit and imagination, “fashions a world in the word,” inviting the reader to see with new eyes. Thus, literature becomes an education in humanity; myth a call to conversion; theatre the embodied expression of a people’s voice; and poetry an invitation to see past the mundane. And it is not only what we say that evokes the greatest wonder; the fact of language itself is the mystery, the very condition of our receiving the world.

Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture & Science
Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
620 Michigan Ave. N.E. (McGivney Hall)
Washington, DC 20064