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Past Issues

Now and at the Hour of Our Death

Life: Issue Two

Christians desire a "happy death," one that is neither sudden nor unforeseen. They want to face death prepared: vigilant, amends made, sins confessed, in the company of their loved ones and the saints, all interceding for them at their appointed hour. But such a death is only possible if one is responding to a call from the One who has vivified their lives all along. Absent that, one can only want to be taken unawares or put to sleep "mercifully," then annihilated with the compost. The unhappy deaths we are witnessing today represent not first a moral crisis, but a crisis of meaning.

Life and Law: Dare We Hope in <em>Dobbs?</em>

Life: Issue One

One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that there was no constitutional right to abortion. Americans have good reasons to celebrate the rescinding of such a high-ranking entitlement to the murder of unborn children. Yet the Dobbs Decision provided no reason why such a right does not exist. Indeed, by “sending the question back to the states,” SCOTUS suggested that there might well be one. It is as if, in the wake of the Civil War Amendments, the question about when Black people became human, or human enough to be protected under the law, were subjected to a vote. We recoil at the thought. Because we know there are some things that must simply be recognized as given. Our existence is one of them.

Value Added

Things: Issue Three

In work, says John Paul II, “man participates in the activity of God himself.” He takes part in that “gospel of work” proclaimed by the One who was “a man of work, a craftsman like Joseph of Nazareth” (Laborem Exercens). It is by way of Christ that the human craftsman involves himself with created things, acknowledging their inner goodness, and transforming them to bring out of them a new fruitfulness.

Things to Focus On

Things: Issue Two

A thing…is inseparable from is context, namely, its world, and from our commerce with the thing and its world, namely engagement. The experience of a thing is always and also a bodily and social engagement with the thing's world. In calling forth a manifold engagement, a thing necessarily provides more than one commodity. Thus a stove used to furnish more than mere warmth. It was a focus, a hearth, a place that gathers the work and leisure of a family and gave the house a center.


—Albert Borgmann, Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life

The Substance of Things

Things: Issue One

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.

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