Mere Links 08.22.14
Friday, August 22, 2014, 10:00 AM

Christ: The Trojan Horse of Redemption
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

The same monastic tradition that determined the psalms to be prayed at Thursday Matins also prescribed Psalms 75 and 91 (Hebrew 76 and 92) to be recited at Matins of Friday (Cf. The Rule of Saint Benedict, ch. 13).

The Korean Martyrs and the Power of Lay Witness
Marge Fenelon, Aleteia

The throngs who greeted Pope Francis in Korea are testimony to the power of the laity to spread the Faith.

Supreme Court Puts Gay Marriage on Hold in Virginia
Alan Rappeport, New York Times

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a last-minute order putting a hold on same-sex marriages in Virginia less than a day before officials there were to begin providing marriage licenses to gay couples.

The Moral Divide Between Progressives and Traditionalists
James Kalb, Crisis Magazine

A recent account of moral sentiments, proposed by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Pantheon, 2012), has attracted attention for its explanation of the difference between progressives and traditionalists.



Is Ms. Turner the Victim of An Anti-Christian Government Teacher?
Friday, August 22, 2014, 9:12 AM

Dyer County High School is a government-run school located in Newbern, Tennessee, a small town of 3,300 souls in northwestern Tennessee.  Prior to a recent event, Newbern was best known as the site of a terrible tragedy that took the lives of sixteen people, who were killed by a tornado on April 2, 2006.  In recent days, Kendra Turner, a high school senior at the high school, was suspended for breaking an important class rule.  What was the serious infraction that merited her suspension?  After a classmate sneezed, Ms. Turned said, “Bless you!”  Please note that she did not say, “God bless you!” which might have earned the umbrage of strict separationists of church and state in the educational establishment.  However, because she said “bless you,” Ms. Turner implicitly invoked the benediction of a Supreme Deity on her classmate, so that was close enough to actually saying “God” in a government-run school.  Accordingly, such speech cannot be tolerated, even in small-town Tennessee.  As a result, the unnamed teacher told Ms. Turner that such language should be confined to church.  According to media reports, Ms. Turner said that the teacher then announced, “We’re not going to have godly speaking in her class!”  (Would anti-godly speaking be permitted in class then?)  When Ms. Turner affirmed her constitutional right to free speech, she was sent to a high school administrator.  School administrators later told Ms. Turner’s parents that the “bless you” was a classroom distraction.  However, the school administrator made no statement regarding whether the instigating sneezing student was a classroom distraction.

Media reports indicate that the high school teacher has demeaned other Christian students since the beginning of this academic year several weeks ago.  In fact, Rev. Becky Winegardner, Ms. Turner’s youth pastor, spoke with a number of other high school students who complained to her about the same teacher and her prior remarks.  Rev. Winegardner reminded the students of their constitutional rights.  In response to Ms. Turner’s suspension, a number of other students wore shirts to school emblazoned with hand-stitched “bless you.”  (Kudos to them!)  Attempts by this writer to obtain a statement from school administrators or Ms. Turner’s teacher regarding Ms. Turner’s suspension were unsuccessful.

Just as the alleged conduct by Ms. Turner’s teacher, anti-Christian opponents regularly attempt to privatize religious expression confining such statements solely to church.  Some extremists would not permit any religious sentiment or expression in the broader society, such in privately-owned places of business or even in political discourse.  I urge that the local school board and superintendent of the Dyer County School District undertake an independent investigation to determine whether Ms. Turner’s teacher violated her constitutional rights.  If they were, then disciplinary measures should be taken against Ms. Turner’s teacher.  If you wish to telephone the high school to express your views, you can reach them at 731.627.2229.  However, the high school was not answering the telephone yesterday.  But it seems to me that if the teacher’s conduct against Ms. Turner can occur in small-town Tennessee, it can happen anywhere in the United States.



Mere Links 08.21.14
Thursday, August 21, 2014, 12:01 AM

Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?
Ronald S. Lauder, New York Times

Why is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa?

Four reasons why God forbids adultery
Rey De Armas, ERLC

The prohibition against adultery doesn’t make sense until we understand God’s original design for sexual expression within the confines of marriage. From the beginning, God established a blueprint for the family.

Victoria Beeching And Plato’s Third Form of Atheism
Robert P. George, First Things

The mortal threat to Christianity today—and, I would venture to say, to Judaism and (in the West at least) Islam as well—does not come from Plato’s first and second forms of atheism, but from the third.

Married parents vs cohabiting parents
Nicole M. King, Mercatornet

A new study by the National Center for Health Statistics reveals “a baby frenzy happening among unmarried couples who live together.” According to the report, 58% of all unmarried births now occur to cohabiting couples, compared to 41% in 2002.



Mere Links 08.20.14
Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 12:01 AM

A New Direction for Death
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

According to the structure of the Canonical Hours in Western monasticism, two specific psalms were traditionally appointed for Thursday Matins: Psalms 87 and 89 (Hebrew 88 and 90) (Cf. The Rule of Saint Benedict, Ch. 13).

Is Ugly the New Beautiful?
Sean Fitzpatrick, Crisis Magazine

Summer has become a season of strange and stark irony. While it brings forth the beauty of the world, it also brings forth the ugliness of the age.

What Does Social Justice Look Like in an Abortion Culture?
Jeffrey Walton, Juicy Ecumenism

Part of the role of government is to provide for the common defense – a protection of the population from those who would seek to do harm. With this understanding, I propose that protection of the unborn should be a priority of a just government. But what of social justice for the unborn?

The New Nonconformist Conscience
Helen Andrews, First Things

Mozilla’s Brendan Eich, the Miami Dolphins’ Don Jones, HGTV’s Benham brothers: 2014 has been a good year for those seeking to enforce the new moral orthodoxy by depriving others of their livelihood.



Men as Spiritual Leaders. Whether You Like It or Not.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 2:20 PM

From the Touchstone Archives. This has been one of the more popular articles on the Touchstone website as of late. Obviously, the theme is a concern for many. I’ve pasted some excerpts below, but you really should read the entire article.

The Truth About Men & Church

Robbie Low on the Importance of Fathers to Churchgoing

. . .

“In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey that the researchers for our masters in Europe (I write from England) were happy to record. The question was asked to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”

. . .

“In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.”

. . .

“The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father’s influence, from the determination of a child’s sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society.”

. . .

“Nor are these conclusions a matter of simple disagreement between warring parties in a divided church. The figures are in and will continue to come in. The churches are losing men and, if the Swiss figures are correct, are therefore losing children. You cannot feminize the church and keep the men, and you cannot keep the children if you do not keep the men.”



Threats Made Against Pastor Steven Khoury
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 11:09 AM

On these pages, I recently told the story about my friend, Rev. Steven Khoury, who pastors several evangelical churches in Israel.  Pastor Khoury is an Arab Christian, and he recently traveled to the Israeli-Gaza border to pray for peace.  In addition to visiting Messianic Jews and Arab Christians in southern Israel, he also visited Jewish families.  Each of these families bear the brunt of the rocket and tunnel attacks from operatives of Hamas.  Many of the families in this area are poor, and Pastor Khoury brought tangible aid for those families.  However, showing the love of the Lord Jesus Christ to Jewish families has incited supporters of anti-Christ Hamas to threaten Pastor Khoury.  As a sample of a few of the comments left on his Arabic-language Facebook page, we read the following:

“You are a failure and a disgrace to the Arab Palestinian world.”
“We know your efforts to evangelize the Moslems in our land Palestine.  You will pay the price.”
“This pastor Steven, we know his location, and we should all rise up against him and protest outside his church.  He needs to be taught a lesson.”
“Why are you telling the Jews about your Jesus and helping them?  You are a traitor for comparing us [Arabs] to the enemy, the Jews.”

However, despite the threats, he is unafraid.  His father, also an evangelical pastor, was shot by Islamists, and his uncle, a devout Christian believer, was martyred for his faith.

It is a truism that Pastor Khoury, in showing love and kindness to the Jews, the enemy of Hamas, is a grave threat to Hamas and other radical Islamists.  It is the default position of Hamas that all Arabs, including Christians, must hate Israel and desire its complete destruction, and Moslems must work to kill all Jews, wherever located.  As many of my readers have heard, the Charter of Hamas, which is part of the Moslem Brotherhood, has declared that “Israel will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”  Further, Article Fifteen of the Hamas Charter declares, “The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem.  In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of jihad be raised.”  You can read the entire Hamas Charter here.

Please pray for Pastor Khoury and his family, and for the peace of Jerusalem as we are instructed in Psalm 122:6.  Pastor Khoury, in seeking to be a Good Samaritan to people in his nation, has become a target of threats by radical Islamists of Hamas.  If you want to learn more about the ministry of Pastor Khoury, you can learn much more at www.holylandmissions.org. I also encourage you to watch the introductory 15-minute video.



Mere Links 08.19.14
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Best Intercessor in the Bible
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

Arguably the most notable intercessor in the Hebrew Bible is Moses. Gregory the Dialoguist, in a letter to Augustine of Canterbury (shortly after the arrival of the Roman missionaries to England), wrote at length of this ministry of Moses.

Why Ecumenism is Necessary
Dale M. Coulter, First Things

Recent global events have highlighted the ongoing challenge of ethnic and tribal divisions. Americans have also been reminded by events in Ferguson that divisions along race and ethnic lines are just down the street. These ongoing divisions forcefully highlight the need for greater efforts at ecumenism.

Finding God in Secular Europe
Philip Jenkins, Aleteia

European filmmakers are turning their attention to religion, and producing some great works of art.


Stretching the truth past the breaking point

Tim Wallace, Mercatornet

The barbarism of the Islamic State is real enough, so why fabricate atrocities?



From the New Touchstone (Sept/Oct 2014)
Monday, August 18, 2014, 11:45 AM

ts lil cover From the New Touchstone (Sept/Oct 2014)Mary Elizabeth Podles teaches us about La Disputa by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael), and identifies the pillars of the Judeo / Christian faith that are depicted…

In 1503, Julius II acceded to the papacy as the reform candidate after the notoriously bad Alexander VI. He came to the papacy with ambitious political plans and a far-reaching foreign policy, as well as a large-scale program for patronage of the arts. The old Basilica of St. Peter had developed alarming cracks. Julius, never an indecisive man, ordered it to be pulled down and commissioned a bold new design from the architect Bramante. In addition, Bramante was to redesign and expand the papal palace so that the Vatican presented a modern, unified Renaissance whole.

Julius was also a man of strong prejudices. So much did he despise his predecessor that he refused to occupy the same apartments and ordered the renovation and decoration of a completely new set for himself. Among the artists he hired for the job was a young man from Bramante’s hometown of Urbino, the 25-year-old Raphael. He came in 1508, but such was his talent that in 1509 he was put in charge of the decorative scheme of the whole first room, the Stanza della Segnatura, and produced the astonishing Disputa.

A Portrait of the Church

Nothing like it had been seen before; to date, it was the largest complex of figures in fresco ever created, a Cecil B. DeMille crowd carefully managed and grouped in rhythms and accords that make a rational and coherent, readable whole.

read the rest…

disputa labeled 1024x737 From the New Touchstone (Sept/Oct 2014)

 



Mere Links 08.18.14
Monday, August 18, 2014, 10:00 AM

Vatican Calls on Muslim Leaders to Condemn Crimes Against Iraq Minorities.
Jesus Colina, Aleteia

Using unprecedented language, the Vatican takes a qualitative leap in relations with Islam.

Is the Navy Removing Bibles from Hotel Rooms?
Leslie Ford, The Daily Signal

A new directive from the Navy has raised concerns about the potential removal of Bibles from Navy lodge rooms and guest quarters, according to Fox News. These lodges are hotels located on naval bases for members of the Navy, usually used when they receive new permanent change of station orders.

6 facts about South Korea’s growing Christian population
Phillip Connor, Pew Research Center

Pope Francis will travel to South Korea this week for Asian Youth Day, making his third international trip as pontiff. He’ll be visiting a country that has experienced considerable religious change in recent decades. Here are six facts about Christianity in South Korea.

Who Is Speaking For The Persecuted Christians In Iraq?
Rob Schwarzwalder, The Federalist

All persecution is evil, whether it is of Uighur Muslims in northwestern China or of Yazidi on a barren hilltop in Kurdistan. Yet the U.S. mainstream media seems to be downplaying, if not ignoring, the intense persecution of Christian Iraqis by the self-proclaimed “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS), the pretentious self-appellation of a group of Islamist murderers.



Paying Forward Mikey Weinstein’s Support
Friday, August 15, 2014, 4:32 PM

I was pleasantly surprised at the support by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”), and in its founder and president, Michael ”Mikey the Whiner” L. Weinstein, Esq., to my recent blog post regarding the removal of Bibles from the rooms at Navy Lodges and base hotels.  For those readers who may have missed my blog from earlier this week, you may read it here.  In response, there were some interesting comments, both supportive of Bible removal and in opposition.  Further, there were numerous Facebook likes which disseminated the blog widely, for which I am always grateful to my readers.  You can find the MRFF link to Mere Comments here.  Of course, it was wholly appropriate that MRFF would link to my blog at Mere Comments as I did their homework for the almost 62 MRFF members and supporters.  The supporters were encouraged to contact Rear Admiral Robert J. Bianchi, the head of NEXCOM (Navy Exchange Service Command), to express “sincere thanks that he continues to stand by the U.S. Constitution.”  Admiral Bianchi ordered housekeeping staff to impound all Bibles from the 34 Navy Lodges and the 24,000 rooms at the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites.  Admiral Bianchi’s directive came after MRFF filed a formal complaint over the placement of Bibles in the Navy hotel rooms.  Of course, given that Mr. Weinstein is apparently an “advisor” to the Pentagon on religious matters for military personnel (no, I am not making this up!), I presume that Admiral Bianchi just did what he was told by senior Pentagon officials who had free time to work on this important matter since nothing of significance is going on in the world today requiring their attention.  But after all, who can blame Admiral Bianchi for not wanting to screw up a high six-figure Navy pension?  (Did you know that an admiral’s pension after 40 years of service is 100 percent of their base pay, so approximately $10,000 to $16,000 monthly?  Plus lots of other free stuff.  I also bet they can jump the queue at the Veterans Administration hospitals.)

So to pay kindness forward and as a reciprocal courtesy to the MRFF, I would encourage each of my readers to go to the MRFF website and sign up for their newsletter.  You can find the link to subscribe here: http://www.mrff.org/.  Finally, in an utterly shameless, but related, commercial plug, tomorrow night, Saturday, August 16, 2014, former governor Mike Huckabee, a tireless advocate for the constitutional rights of all Christian believers, will examine the Navy’s plans to remove Bibles from the base hotels on his Fox News program.  Please check your local listings.  I just might stay in this Saturday night to watch Governor Huckabee’s program.  And if you wish to contact Admiral Bianchi or his deputy, Michael Bockelman, you can reach them at 1.757.631.3600 or 1.757.502.7496, respectively.


Older Posts »