A Collection of Readings for the Event: The Emergence of the Human Face

In this collection:

Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the Occasion of their Plenary Assembly, 31 October 2008

To “evolve” literally means “to unroll a scroll,” that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists. Galileo saw nature...


I think you have just given us a precise description of a life in which God does not figure. At first sight, it seems as if we do not need God or indeed, that without God we would be freer and the world would be grander. But after a certain time, ...

From In the Beginning by Joseph Ratzinger

All of this is well and good, one might say, but is it not ultimately disproved by our scientific knowledge of how the human being evolved from the animal kingdom? Now, more reflective spirits have long been aware that there is no either-or here. We cannot say: creation or evolution, inasmuch... 

Pope Francis, October 27, 2014

You are addressing the highly complex subject of the evolution of the concept of nature. I will not go into the scientific complexity, which you well understand, of this important and crucial question. I only want to underline that God and Christ are walking with us and are also present in nature, as the Apostle Paul... 

C.S. Lewis (1898–1963), The Business of Heaven

"If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts...

G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, Chapter 1, ON THE CREATURE CALLED MAN

Man is not merely an evolution but rather a revolution. That he has a backbone or other parts upon a similar pattern to birds and fishes is an obvious fact, whatever be the meaning of the fact. But if we attempt...

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, God at the Ritz

 "How could it be possible that we were only natural creatures, but that nature was felt to be insufficient for our needs? Either nature must be in some (old-fashioned) sense evil, or we have misconstrued our needs."

Msgr. Don Giussani, "Cosmos' Self-awareness" (Unofficial translation)

Man, this is the only beauty in the world; because the stars would not be beautiful if eyes did not see them, and flowers would not be beautiful if no gaze were to fall upon them, and woman would not be beautiful if the heart did not love her. That is why God, the living God, became a man.

The neglect of the "I"

(from the introduction of In search of the human face, by Msgr. Luigi Giussani, 1995)

To download a copy of this article, click here: The neglect of the "I"

The supreme obstacle on our human journey is “neglect” of the “I”; whereas the first step of a truly human journey – the concern for our own “I”–is the exact opposite of that “neglect.”

It might seem obvious that one should have this interest but in fact it is not obvious at all. Just think of all those gaping voids that open up in the daily fabric of our consciousness and our frequent distraction. Indeed, the constituent factors of the human “subject” cannot be identified in abstract terms. They are not some kind of “prejudice” but can be clearly seen when our “I” is in action, when the subject is engaged with reality.

The word “I” hides great confusion today and yet my primary concern is understanding what my subject really is. For my subject is at the core, at the root of all my actions (even a thought is an action). And actions are the dynamics by which I enter into relationships with people and things. If I neglect my “I,” it will be impossible for my relationships with life to be my own, for life itself (the sky, a woman, a friend, music) to be mine. To be able to say the word my in a serious way we must have a clear perception of the constitution of our “I”. Nothing is as fascinating as the discovery of the real dimensions of our “I.” Nothing is as full of surprises as the discovery of our own human face.

Gamergate and Politics

1. If you want to understand why Gamergate has blown up, you could start with a recent study by Stanford University’s Shanto Iyengar and Sean J. Westwood. They handed 1,000 people some sample student resumes and asked them to decide which deserved a scholarship. The resumes included clues to both the race and the political orientation of the applicant, as well as information about their grades.

2. Race mattered. But political orientation mattered even more. Democrats and Republicans chose the resumes that shared their politics roughly 80 percent of the time. Of course, it’s the grades themselves that should have driven the decisions — but the activation of political identity made grades pretty much irrelevant. “We found no evidence that partisans took academic merit into account,” the researchers wrote.
— Ezra Klein

Read the full article at Vox: Gamergate and the politicization of absolutely everything, by Ezra Klein

Remembering Lorenzo

Michael Sean Winters shares his remembrances of Monsignor Albacete.

It was the spring of 1993, Good Friday to be exact. I had known Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete for only a few months. That night, Lorenzo and his beloved brother Manuel, and a third person whom I do not recall, came into Kramerbooks & Afterwords for dinner. They were seated at table 40, right near the stairs that lead down to the prep kitchen. I can remember it as if it was yesterday. The waitress took their order and I stood by her as she wrote it down. When all three of them ordered lamb chops, I interjected. “You can’t have lamb chops – it’s Good Friday.” Without missing a beat, Lorenzo said, “Oh, Mike, [he was the only person who ever called me “Mike”], we had an ancestor who died fighting in the Crusades and have a dispensation in perpetuity.” I knew I was in the presence of someone whose understanding of our faith was very, very different from the Irish-American Catholicism in which I had been raised.
— Michael Sean Winters

Read the full article at The National Catholic Reporter: Remembering Lorenzo, by Michael Sean Winters.

How Liberalism Lost Its Way

As Edmund Fawcett and Larry Siedentop show in different ways, the travails of political liberalism reflect a profound crisis of the liberal world-view. To put it crudely, it is no longer clear what liberalism means. Its core value is freedom—freedom for unconstrained individuals to choose for themselves. Freedom, however, is a notoriously slippery word. Freedom as a source of human flourishing is one thing; freedom to ignore the common good and exploit others is quite another. Positive freedom, or freedom “to,” is not the same as negative freedom, or freedom “from.” The great Liberal government of 1905-15 curbed the negative freedom of the privileged in order to enhance the positive freedom of the dispossessed.
— David Marquand

Read the full article at the New Republic: We Shouldn't Forget Liberalism's Religious Roots, by David Marquand

ISIS and Fundamentalism

But what causes such fear and consternation is another feature of the ISIS regime: The public statements of the ISIS authorities make it clear that the principal task of state power is not the regulation of the welfare of the state’s population (health, the fight against hunger) — what really matters is religious life and the concern that all public life obey religious laws. This is why ISIS remains more or less indifferent toward humanitarian catastrophes within its domain — its motto is roughly “take care of religion and welfare will take care of itself.” Therein resides the gap that separates the notion of power practiced by ISIS from the modern Western notion of what Michel Foucault called “biopower,” which regulates life in order to guarantee general welfare: the ISIS caliphate totally rejects the notion of biopower.
— Slavoj Zizek

Read the full article at the New York Times: ISIS Is a Disgrace to True Fundamentalism by Slavoj Zizek


Fareed Zakaria explores the rise of a dark and troubling kind of nationalism. 

There is, of course, a healthy nationalism that has often been part of the expansion of liberty and democracy. Britons and Americans take pride that their countries embody values they hold dear. Poles and now Ukrainians take pride in their struggles for independence and success. But today we seem to be witnessing mostly a different kind of nationalism, based on fear, insecurity and anxiety. And, as the philosopher Isaiah Berlin has noted, like a bent twig, this kind of nationalism always springs back with a vengeance.
— Fareed Zakaria

Read the full article at The Washington Post: Identity, not ideology, is moving the world by Fareed Zakaria

The Chernobyl Effect and a Living Encounter[1]

Let me begin our conversation by observing a difference between the current generation of youth and the one I met thirty years ago. The difference lies in a weakness in the realm of consciousness, a weakness that is not ethical, but concerns the dynamism of the consciousness. In fact, after all these years, we pointed out the pernicious and decisive influence of power, of the dominant mentality — dominant in the literal sense of the word. It is as if the youth of today were victims of a kind of Chernobyl nuclear explosion: their organism remains structurally the same but, dynamically, it is different. There has been a sort of physiological subjugation operated by a dominant mentality. It is as if the only real evidence in reality is what is in fashion, and fashion is a concept and an instrument of power. Never before has the environment — understood as mental climate and way of life — had at its disposal instruments of such invasive and despotic power over our consciences.