Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

We've presently embroiled in a lawsuit that has me deposing representatives of the Catholic Church, and as I was walking to the office of my adversary the other day I was thinking about the place the Church presently occupies in intellectual discourse. In the mid-Twentieth Century it was a significant player, after all. Telhard de Charden, Flannery O'Connor, Andre Malraux.... It occurred to me that although the Church is still a significant political force in the world, the force of its ideas has been pretty significantly blunted. Characters like Cardinal Ratzinger played a role in this, I think, and the fact that American Catholics prefer a cafeteria plan has as well. No doubt there are other contributing factors, but the plain fact is that there really aren't any Catholic intellectuals who are participating in a meaningful way to the broader discourse. It's become a closed system.

From Teresa Nielsen Hayden I have have now learned two things. One is that the Pope has issued a new encyclical, and that it says many good things. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

The other is thatNewt Gingrich has just converted to Catholicism, and now I'm back on solid ground. I've long thought that the serious structural problems with the Republican Party could be attributed to the fact that they believe Newt is an intellectual. (George Will too. No, seriously, they think that.) Now he's a Catholic intellectual. The mind reels, and no doubt poor Flannery O'Connor spins.

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