Non-Negotiables in a Media-Driven, Relativistic Age | CWR staff | Catholic World Report
Veteran journalist Sheila Liaugminas's new book tackles the roots and meaning of hot button issues from abortion to social justice
Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy Award-winning, veteran journalist who has worked in both print and broadcast media. She reported for Time magazine in its Midwest Bureau for over 20 years, and co-hosted the Chicago television program “YOU”. Based in Chicago, Liaugminas is a regular contributor to MercatorNet.com, and has been published in the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, Crisis, National Catholic Register, and National Review Online. She currently hosts the daily radio program “A Closer Look” on Relevant Radio.
Her new book, Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture, was published recently by Ignatius Press. It has been widely praised, with Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., saying, "Combining the passion of personal conscience and the convictions of reason and faith, Sheila Liaugminas analyzes conflicted points in our culture in the light of first principles. It's a good tool in skilled hands."
Sheila recently took time from her busy schedule to talk with Catholic World Report about her book, the culture and the Church, relativism, human dignity, social justice, and Catholic social doctrine.
CWR: Let’s start with the very first sentence, in your Preface: “We the people are losing our ability to think clearly or reason well.” You also state that we have lost the “art of argument.” There’s surely a lot of blame to go around, but what are some of the foundational factors? And what is the trajectory you’ve witnessed in your years working in secular and Catholic media? Is it simply getting worse?
Sheila Liaugminas: We can look back at any number of periods in the past century, but at least to the Sixties and the rupture in the culture and the Church that seemed to happen suddenly in the chaos of that decade to see where and how the current confusion was sown. It was a revolutionary time when authority was not only questioned but ridiculed and rendered irrelevant, and we rapidly and all too easily lost our reference points to absolute truth and the Judeo-Christian ethics that formed this nation.
It ushered in Roe v. Wade which led to all that Pope Paul VI predicted in Humanae Vitae, redefining life itself and the terms for living a good life to fit the new secular orthodoxy. From then on, we’ve been plummeting further into the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ Pope Benedict XVI warned of, in which things become what culture shapers decide, changeable with the times. Words have been so distorted through that cultural disruption that ‘Choice’ covers abortion, ‘Compassion’ covers euthanasia, and ‘Equality’ covers the redefinition of marriage in law. It is getting worse with each successive movement claiming as its mantle a word that designates empathy and freedom and human ideals. These are persuasive to a population unable to counter with questions that challenge their premises.
CWR: There are, as your book emphasizes, certain truths “so foundational for our life and flourishing that they are simply not open to debate or mitigation—they are non-negotiable.” And yet those truths are, of course, not only debated, they are even dismissed. Why so? How did we arrive at this spot?