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In the beginning was the Word. Human beings, made in the image of God, share in this utterance, this Logos. Language, then, is foundational to our humanity. We are born into it, already attuned to the rhythm and syntax of our mother tongue. In our first years, we learn it almost miraculously, without a thought. Language is that uniquely human art form of the incarnate spirits we are; for it is only with words—sensuous symbolsthat we can speak of the world. Through words we are united to the community of inexhaustible beings in the world and to the inexhaustible community of the One who made it. This four-part series begins with an exploration of what language it is and how it is acquired, moving on to how contemporary language—“Newspeak”—reflects modernity’s rebellion against reality itself. The third issue of the series takes up the weight of words, whether in the context of the liturgy or political discourse. Lastly, we turn to the use of language in reference to myth and literature.



What does it mean to be an adult? It’s a straightforward question evading simple answers. In a clear and definitive tone, the Baltimore Catechism tells us that God made us to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world; and to be happy with Him forever in the next. If this is our intended telos, then surely human maturity—that is, adulthood—must take up the tasks of knowing, loving and serving God in a way that corresponds to a given individual’s abilities and situation. This four-part series, then, first takes up the question of what adulthood means, then takes up the idea of knowing God (through education), loving and serving Him (through worship and the states of life) and eternal beatitude (holiness being the ultimate expression of human maturity!).

The Body


The human body—the “thing” that accompanies us wherever we go—is central to most of the burning questions in our culture’s collective mind. The body is just there. And, for that very reason, we are putting it to the test as we reject, starve, exploit, re-build—chemically, surgically, digitally, cybernetically—and finally incinerate it. Though we have been at this for centuries, what has become clearer in recent years is that the dominion of nature at large has at last become the dominion of our incarnate nature. This four-part series addresses major contemporary issues concerning the body, including pornography, virtual reality, beauty, cremation, gender identity, sexuality, infertility, courtship and dating, as well as suffering, illness and death.



This four-part series begins with a reflection on what work is, and continues--in the second issue--with looking at the link between work and vocation, whether this be marriage or religious life. The third issue will speak to the idea of good work and true rest, while the fourth and last addresses the question of work and justice.



Man is at once a part of nature and its steward, and natural ecology and “human ecology” therefore stand or fall together. This four-part series explores major themes in the contemporary ecological debate: man’s relationship with his environment, the land he was instructed to “till and keep”; animals, which can either be companions or dinner; the relationship we have with “stuff” and whether we have too much of it; and the place of the body in creation.

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