Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Today on Kresta - May 19, 2010

Talking about the "things that matter most" on May 19

4:00 – Belgian Doctors Euthanized Disabled Patient and Harvested Her Organs
This isn’t the first time that coupling assisted suicide/euthanasia has been suggested as a potential concept, but it may be the first time it has been actively advocated. Oxford bioethicists Julian Savulescu–for whom virtually anything goes–writing with Dominic Wilkinson argue that euthanasia coupled with organ harvesting would be a splendid way to obtain more kidneys, livers, and hearts. We talk with bioethicist Wesley Smith.

4:20 – The Devil's Rooming House: The True Story of America's Deadliest Female Serial Killer
A silent, simmering killer terrorized New England in1911. As a terrible heat wave killed more than 2,000 people, another silent killer began her own murderous spree. That year a reporter for the Hartford Courant noticed a sharp rise in the number of obituaries for residents of a rooming house in Windsor, Connecticut, and began to suspect who was responsible: Amy Archer-Gilligan, who’d opened the Archer Home for Elderly People and Chronic Invalids four years earlier. “Sister Amy” would be accused of murdering both of her husbands and up to sixty-six of her patients with cocktails of lemonade and arsenic; her story inspired the Broadway hit Arsenic and Old Lace. The Devil’s Rooming House is the first book about the life, times, and crimes of America’s most prolific female serial killer. In telling this fascinating story, M. William Phelps also paints a vivid portrait of early-twentieth-century New England. He joins us

4:40 – The Ruth Institute: Making Marriage Cool
On August 6th 2009 at the University of San Diego, 32 students from across America along with experts in their respective fields, came together for three days to discuss the institution of marriage; how it stands in today's society, what challenges and jeopardy it faces and what we, as a free society, can do to nurture and protect it. The Ruth Institute's First Annual Student conference was a resounding success. Now they are on to step two, and this year’s conference is bigger and better. We talk with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse about the Ruth Institute: Making Marriage Cool.

5:00 – Throw the Bums Out? An Analysis of Yesterday’s Primary Results
Upstart Senate candidates claimed two stunning victories in primary elections Tuesday night as Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak denied incumbent Democrat Arlen Specter re-nomination to a sixth term and Kentucky insurgent Rand Paul easily bested establishment favorite Trey Grayson for the Republican Party's Senate nod. In the evening's third key Senate race, Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln clung to a slim lead of a few thousand votes over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the state's Democratic primary, but will face an expensive and potentially dangerous June 8 runoff since neither candidate reached 50 percent of the vote. Political scientist Paul Kengor is here for analysis.

5:20 – Fatherless
We take an intensely human tour of the great spiritual battles in the US Catholic Church during the late 20th century. Brian Gail takes us out into the "trenches" and shows what life was like for Catholics good and bad during this critical time. Meticulously researched, brilliantly crafted, Fatherless takes the reader on an unforgettable journey inside Fortune 500 boardrooms and Madison Avenue screening rooms, behind one-way mirrors in America’s heartland and two-way screens in church confessionals, to the very peak of Ireland’s highest mountain and inside the papal dining room of John Paul II in Rome. It is the searing journey to the center of conscience, however, that marks Fatherless as the signature Catholic novel of its generation.

5:40 – Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
Does capitalism promote greed? Can a person follow Jesus' call to love others and also support capitalism? Was our recent economic crisis caused by flaws inherent to our free market system? Jay Richards presents a new approach to capitalism, revealing how it's fully consistent with Jesus’ teachings and the Christian tradition, while also showing why this system is our best bet for renewed economic vigor. Money, Greed, and God is now updated, revised, and out in paperback.


  1. Mr. Kresta, would you be willing to forward a question to Mr. Richards: what is the advantage to Catholics of reading his book vis-a-vis the writings of the Popes and bishops concerning the Social Doctrine of the Church? These could also include the Catechism and The Compendium of the Church's Social Doctrine.

    Obviously it's not an either/or - read Mr. Richards' book or read the documents I mentioned - but would Mr. Richards advise that we read such documents before, after, or concurrently with his book?

    I'm glad that his book is now published in paperback; I'll be purchasing it soon.

    Thank you.


    Matthew Wade

  2. Re: Capitalism. Can a Catholic be a libertarian?

    What about those of us who, when we were young, read the likes of Ayn Rand, Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Henry Hazlitt, and those UC San Diego kids at the Campus Studies Institute Division of World Research Inc., Susan Love Brown, Karl Keating, et al. Suppose their libertarian principles made sense to us and we took them to heart. Now that we are older, it seems we might have to abandon the most basic of those principles because it conflicts with Catholic Church teaching. That principle is individualism, one of Fr. Mitch Pacwa's three ugly sisters of relativism.

    Libertarian principles are based on a particular understanding of the nature of man. That understanding is man centered. Christ is not in the picture, at least directly. We are talking about individualism, self reliance, and peaceful coexistence (i.e. not initiating force or fraud against others).

    Here are a few quotations:

    Ayn Rand in "The Objectivist Ethics" from The Virtue of Selfishness: "The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics -- the standard by which one judges what is good or evil -- is man's life, or: that which is required for man's survival qua man."

    Ayn Rand in "Racism" from The Virtue of Selfishness: "Individualism regards man -- every man -- as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being."

    Susan Love Brown, Karl Keating, et al. from The Incredible Bread Machine: "The philosophy of individualism grows out of a concept of rights, and this concept grows out of observing the basic nature of man as a human being."

    Is it OK for a Catholic to agree with Ayn Rand and the young Karl Keating?

  3. Matthew,
    I have no doubt that Jay would encourage reading of all Catholic social encyclicals. What, in particular, did he say that suggested he may be unfamiliar with them?

    I think he flirted with Christian socialism and then was influenced by the work of George Gilder. He does challenge the Randian liberatarian in the book.

  4. Matthew,
    I should also mention that Jay entered the Church in the last year or so although he's been an active Christian and theistic apologist for most of this decade at least.

    He also worked with Fr. Sirico at Acton Institute which is often described as having a libertarian bent.

  5. Mauman,
    Can a Catholic be a libertarian? Not easily. Some would say that no Christian could be a libertarian. But, obviously, there are some, like Doug Bandow.

    If you don't mind I'll take up the flip side of individualism which I think is incompatible with Christian faith. Good heavens St. Paul writes that "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive."

    I've never understood how a pure individualist could affirm the Hebrew and Christian idea of corporate identity or the human solidarity that is the foundation of original sin as well as the mystical union we call the Body of Christ.

    So let me go somewhere else. If the core of libertarianism is the total rejection of the classical idea that statecraft is soulcraft, i.e., that government has any legitimate role or ability to cultivate virtue in the citizenry, then I'd have to answer "No, it is not possible to be Catholic and libertarian."

    America has never been a libertarian nation in the Millsian sense. It has never enshrined the principle that one is free to do whatever one wants as long as he respects the freedom of others to do the same. Most Americans, however, probably do believe something like that if asked what liberty is all about.

    To the contrary, the Supreme Court has always recognized the "police powers" of the states to protect the public's health, safety, welfare, and morals. The scope and shape of those "police powers" have greatly changed and exactly how to interpret "morals" any longer is unclear to me especially since Lawrence v. Texas.

    A Catholic, however, does believe in some way that "statecraft is soulcraft". If libertarianism rejects that idea then it is incompatible with the Catholic faith.

    I'd like to hear from anyone who wants to defend libertarianism as compatible with Catholicism.

    As far as how my friend Karl Keating's mind has or hasn't changed since 1975 I'll leave to my next conversation with him. I confess I'm glad that other than a few college term papers and a few apologetically oriented opinion pieces and letters in the Michigan State student paper, I leave no incriminating evidence of my twenty-something opinions.

  6. Praise be to God for Mr. Richards' conversion! That's wonderful news! I had no idea, so thank you for sharing. Having read the jacket of the book online at, I saw that he has a distinguished academic record (Princeton) and a list of fellowships as long as my arm. It's nice to have him on the team.

    My question concerning the social teaching stemmed from a concern I have in my own life - and I've spoken with many friends of mine about this - about all the good stuff there is to read out there. Mr. Richards' piece is a fine work, I'm sure; and I bet I wouldn't even agree with all of what he has to say. Regardless, I'd love to sink my teeth into it. That being said, I'm part of a study group of twenty-somethings who are all coming into our own in the world and we wanted to get our minds around the social encyclicals of the popes, and the social doctrine of the Church. I've also discovered a love for Dostoevsky and some other Christian novelists that leaves me struggling to find time in the day to balance what seems like necessary reading in these modern times of confusion and dissent. I had only hoped to get a clearer picture of the "utility" (what a crude word, and I apologize for using it) of Mr. Richards' book in my current studies. I was looking at the notes section in the back of the book, and it seems like he sparsely quotes Catholic sources, although I could be ignorant or it could be that since he wasn't Catholic at the time he had other values on which to draw.

    Thank you for the response and the interview. Perhaps I'll be able to speak more about the book after I've read it, which is certainly only fair.


    Matthew Wade

  7. Matthew,
    Nick and I were also excited when we learned of Jay's conversion. It was whispered around between a few people when we at Acton University last year. But it was still hush-hush. He's an outstanding communicator. I think you're observation is right that the book is thinly sourced for Catholic works. My guess is that he was writing it just before he entered full communion.

    My favorite summary is The Social Agenda of the Catholic Church: The Magisterial Texts

  8. When will you greedy capitalists ever learn how to become catholic? Still investing in haliburton and other companies that openly defy papal teaching? Heaven help anyone seriously believing in karl keating and the rest of his neocon american friends.I'm actually glad john paul is gone.It would break his heart to see how far you all have strayed from his sentiments.Go ahead and keep on investing in the american capitilast system...rob

  9. Heeee's back.

    What can I say? The microphone is still open.

    BTW, I've never thought of Karl as a neo-con.

    Also JP isn't gone and he does know what is going on.

  10. Rob,
    would you please illuminate for us on how to "become" Catholic?

  11. Hey Rob, why do you wear Haliburton as an albatross around your neck?

    How to spot yesterdays die-hard liberal? --vocabulary!