Mere Links 11.26.14
Wednesday, November 26, 2014, 10:00 AM

Galloping Toward Gomorrah
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

What’s significant is not that this deranged behavior happens. It has no doubt always been with us. What’s significant is that this interview appears in a mainstream magazine.

Evangelism is central to being the people of God, says Archbishop Justin
Archbishop of Canterbury

Don’t wait to share Jesus with others, the Archbishop of Canterbury tells Church Army annual meeting.

How the Sensitivity Movement Desensitized Catholics to Evil
William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine

Remember bell-bottoms, beads, and tie-dyed shirts? Remember encounter groups, Esalen, and trust falls? Remember “self-esteem,” “risk-taking,” “self-awareness” and the other clichés that were born with the human potential movement?

Supper Is Served: Reflections on the Temple as a Liturgical Paradigm
William Simpson, The Imaginative Conservative

In this divine economy, the role of the temple with its sacrifices was of central significance. Perhaps a rough analogy for moderns might be one that I heard in Jerusalem using the vehicle of a ‘WiFi network’: Without a correctly functioning router (temple) with a strong radio signal (God’s presence in the community) there could be no viable connection (faith and ritual) for the devices (worshipers) to hook up to the internet (God’s life and power) and communicate with each other (religious fellowship).



Please Pray for the Wunderlich Family of Germany
Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 10:11 AM

Wunderlich custody 8 28 2014 hiking B CROPPED LOW RES 300x172 Please Pray for the Wunderlich Family of GermanyOn these pages, I have written a number of blogs over the past several years about the travails of the Wunderlich family of Darmstadt, Germany.  Dirk and Petra Wunderlich are devout Christian believers and the parents of four children, aged 8 to 15.  In August 2013, the children were taken forcibly from their home by a SWAT team of twenty police, special agents, and social workers as the children began their morning home school classes.  Were the children being abused?  Actually, the children were taken into custody because their parents insisted on homeschooling their children, which is illegal under German law.  Following an international outcry, a Darmstadt court returned the Wunderlich children to their parents, but only on the condition that the parents promise to send the children to a government school.  The parents complied with the court’s order.  The parents were granted guardianship of their children, but not legal custody.  But rather than disappearing into the night by crossing German borders, the Wunderlichs petitioned the court for permission to emigrate from Germany to another country where homeschooling is permitted.  However, in late 2013, the Honorable Judge Malkmus slammed the door on the emigration hopes of the Wunderlich family.  Judge Malkmus stated that it was necessary to keep the Wunderlich children in German government schools to ensure that they were integrated into society.  If they were allowed to be homeschooled in Germany or anywhere else, the Judge reasoned, the consequences might be that “the children would grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue who those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.”  Finally, Judge Malkmus concluded that homeschooling creates “concrete endangerment to the well-being of the child.”  (Of course, the Honorable Judge failed to cite any evidence before the court in support of his conclusions.  Judge Malkmus’s written orders are available here in an unofficial English translation, and in the official German-language version here).

But now, in the German legal tradition in which more prosecution, more force, and more penalties and fines is the most effective strategy to force the Wunderlich family to submit to the uber-will of Leviathan.  After the children were originally taken into custody in August 2013, the children were sent to government schools for a time.  Although the children were unhappy in their secular government school, there were no further issues until March 2014 when a new lawyer began to represent the local school board.  In a likely effort to ingratiate himself with the local government officials, the new lawyer sent a “notice of enforcement” requiring the Wunderlich children to attend particular classes.  Shortly thereafter, the school board attorney followed with a “demand for prosecution,” which provided for a six month prison sentence for the feisty parents.  In response to the ham-fisted and authoritarian conduct by the school board attorney, the Wunderlichs deregistered the children from the government school, and brought them back home for their education.  By failing to comply with the “notice of enforcement,” the German government can now assess penalties and fines of up to 50,000 Euros (almost $68,000) against the Wunderlich family, as well as seizure of the family’s bank account and other assets.  Michael Donnelly, director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association (http://www.hslda.org/), who has been involved with the Wunderlich case from its beginning, stated recently:

The Wunderlich family are currently homeschooling after having won back custody of their children but there is little doubt that authorities there will resume criminal and civil prosecution of the family.  Authorities recently seized their bank account and are threatening the financial well-being of their family as a result of excessive and, in my view, unlawful costs levied against them in their custody case.  German authorities generally and in this locality in particular remain quite hostile to home education.  There are some who have written in the German press, such as Professor Franz Reimer at the University of Giessen, in support of homeschooling.  However, until state legislators change the laws homeschoolers will continue to be threatened and persecuted unjustly.  Situations like the Wunderlich family in Germany . . . demonstrate an alarming disrespect for the basic and fundamental rights of parents and families to be secure in their homes and in their authority to make decisions that are best for their children.  Homeschooling is recognized as a legal alternative in virtually every western and free country.  Even in countries like China where homeschooling is not legal, families are not persecuted as they are in Germany.

Emphasis added.  The anti-homeschool law in Germany was part of Adolf Hitler’s notion of government schools as a means of indoctrination.  The Fuhrer famously said, “[The] new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”  In 2003, the German Federal Constitutional Court (equivalent to our nation’s Supreme Court) affirmed that the ban on homeschooling serves “a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies.’”  Four years later, the German Federal Parliament changed a provision of Germany’s child protection law making it easier for children to be removed from their parents upon allegations of “educational neglect.”  So now, the official policy of the German government endorses the Fuhrer’s view of homeschooling.  Please continue to pray for the Wunderlich family and for justice in this important case.  If you wish to write to the German Ambassador to the United States regarding this matter, you can reach His Excellency, the Honorable Peter Wittig at https://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/Kontakt.html.  I certainly will let him know my views on this sad matter.



Mere Links 11.25.14
Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 10:00 AM

Why the Crackdown? Christians Now Outnumber Communists in China
Steven W. Mosher, Aleteia

China’s Communist government has been on an anti-Christian rampage of late, tearing down churches in the coastal city of Wenzhou and elsewhere, arresting underground bishops and home church leaders, and illicitly ordaining pliant priests as Catholic “bishops.“ But underneath this escalating campaign of repression – in fact, the reason for it – is a rapidly growing population of Christians.

Six new Catholic saints at a glance
Associated Press

Pope Francis on Sunday canonized six new saints, two Indians and four Italians, all of whom dedicated their lives to helping the poor.

The State of Theology: Heaven? Yes! Hell, No.
Stephen Nichols, Ligonier Ministries

For all the bluster of atheists, and the rush towards secularization that we see swirling around us, most Americans are reluctant to give up belief in the afterlife and in the eternal destinations of heaven and hell.

Why Gender Matters for Christian Stewardship
Joseph Sunde, Acton Institute

Christians believe that all humans are created in the image of God, a notion that shapes our understanding of human dignity and transforms our view of human destiny.



Mere Links 11.24.14
Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:00 AM

Christian Inmate Suing Indiana To Recognize Religion
Daniel Silliman, Religion Dispatches

An Eastern Orthodox prison inmate won a small but important victory in his legal fight to have the Indiana Department of Corrections recognize his religion.

Churches and Obama’s Executive Amnesty
Mark Tooley, First Things

That U.S. immigration policy should be based on several Scripture passages simply urging kindness to strangers was a dubious claim but one that supposedly would mobilize millions of Evangelicals to compel the Republican House of Representatives to approve the Democratic Senate’s legislation for mass legalization.

Rick Warren at the Vatican: “We’re More Effective and Better Together Than We Are Apart”
Diana Montagna, Aleteia

Saddleback Church founder speaks at conference on man-woman complementarity.

7 Ways Christian Academics Can Be Truly Christian
Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition

As a pastor and just as an intellectually curious sort of chap, I want Christian academics to flourish. I also want these Christian scholars to be thoroughly Christian.



St Cecilia
Sunday, November 23, 2014, 7:00 AM

In honor of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music.

“Virgin and martyr, patroness of church music, died at Rome.

This saint, so often glorified in the fine arts and in poetry, is one of the most venerated martyrs of Christian antiquity. The oldest historical account of St. Cecilia is found in the “Martyrologium Hieronymianum”; from this it is evident that her feast was celebrated in the Roman Church in the fourth century.”



The Nature of Beauty and Sacred Art – Part One
Saturday, November 22, 2014, 12:10 PM

David Clayton, professor at Saint Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH, discusses the Christian perspective on art, cosmic beauty, first principles, and the Transcendentals. Part Two next week-end.



Mere Links 11.21.14
Friday, November 21, 2014, 10:00 AM

Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Will Tear Us Apart
Russell Moore, Time

On more than one occasion, I asked President Obama not to turn immigration reform into a red state/blue state issue. People across the political spectrum support fixing this system, and it shouldn’t be a partisan wedge issue.

Why has Pentecostalism grown so dramatically in Latin America?
David Masci, Pew Research Center

With nearly 300 million followers worldwide, including many in Africa and Latin America, Pentecostalism is now a global phenomenon. But present day Pentecostalism traces its origins to a religious revival movement that began in the early 20th century.

Rabbi Sacks: Family Is Most Humanizing Institution in History
Zenit

Here is the address given Monday by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks at the colloquim underway in the Vatican on the complementarity of man and woman. The rabbi’s address was titled “The Family is the Single Most Humanising Institution in History.”

The poor want ‘dignity, not charity,’ pope says
Inés San Martín, Crux

Pope Francis called hunger and malnutrition a cause of scandal on Thursday, and declared that the poor of the world “ask for dignity, not charity.”



Global Woodstock? No, Worse
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 3:17 PM

Yikes, but not surprising….From our beloved United Nations channel as reported by C-FAM:

“[Y]oung people require a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services, including . . . safe abortion care,” says the 2014 State of World Population, released Tuesday.

Well, Woodstock didn’t include abortion care, I don’t think, or paid prostitution (FREE love, right?) but:

UNFPA also criticizes laws against “same-sex behaviour, drug use, and selling sex or sex work,” on the grounds that they “fall particularly hard on young people realizing their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.”

The UN has come a long way.



Mere Links 11.20.14
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 10:00 AM

British Rabbi Tells Vatican Conference We Must Defend the Family of “Man, Woman and Child”
Aleteia

Rabbi Lord Sacks blames the breakdown of the traditional family for society’s ills.

Hello ladies, goodbye Communion?
The Economist

If this week is remembered as an important one by church historians, it may be for a different reason: it was the moment when the archbishop of Canterbury finally acknowledged that the Anglican Communion, the global family of churches numbering about 80m of which he is head, may be impossible to hold together.

The Wilberforce Test: Preaching and the Public Square
Owen Strachan, 9Marks

William Wilberforce was born with life laid out like a Persian carpet before him. He was from fantastic wealth, had access to high society whenever he pleased, and had the social graces to charm most anyone he encountered.

How a French Atheist Becomes a Theologian
Guillaume Bignon, Christianity Today

If French atheists rarely become evangelical Christians, how much rarer it is for one to become an evangelical Christian theologian. So what happened? One might argue that with 66 million French people, I’m just a fluke, an anomaly.



Pastor Saeed Abedini and Nuclear Negotiations With Iran
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 9:11 AM

This week, the eyes of Americans are focused on Mr. Obama’s forthcoming amnesty for the almost 30 million illegal aliens living in the United States, and on events in Ferguson, Missouri.  Many expect large-scale civil disturbances after the grand jury decides, according to most media reports, not to indict Officer Wilson.  However, history is likely to record that the gravest threat to world peace at this time arises from the negotiations among the United States, European Union, and the Islamic regime of Iran over Iran’s nuclear program.  The deadline for a “comprehensive” accord is set for this coming Monday, November 24, 2014.

The principal negotiators are Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, U.S. Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry and European Union envoy Catherine Ashton.  The United States and Europe seek to defuse a long confrontation with Iran that ultimately threatens nuclear war between Iran and Israel.  Iran’s top aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, has said that Iran would not abandon its nuclear “rights,” but still was committed to the negotiations.  This means that the Iranian mullahs, being shrewd negotiators, will develop nuclear weapons while the United States and Europe continue to negotiate.  Of course, Iran denies any secret nuclear weapons program, and says that it only wants peaceful nuclear energy, notwithstanding its immense reserves of petroleum and natural gas.  Iran refused to curb nuclear enrichment capacity, and as a result, has been hit by crippling sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, and United Nations Security Council.  The present negotiations seek to put verifiable limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment work that provide a path to nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.  According to media reports, Western and Iranian diplomats involved in the negotiations stress that the major unresolved issues are the size of Iran’s enrichment program, the length of any long-term agreement, and the pace at which international sanctions would be phased out.  The Obama Administration seeks verification and monitoring measures to ensure Iran is living up to its end of the bargain.  Good luck with that as there is much to negotiate in the coming few days.

Related to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, I have often written on these pages about the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini, the American pastor who is wrongly imprisoned in Iran.  After more than two years in captivity in Iran’s notorious prisons, his family reports that he is suffering great pain from internal injuries from frequent prison beatings by both guards and other prisoners.  And while the feckless Obama Administration is sitting across the table from Iran with the November 24th deadline that is likely to release billions of dollars and Euros to Iran, the plight of Pastor Abedini is ignored.  Can we naively trust the mullahs of Iran who are committed to the destruction of Israel as their regime wrongfully imprisons and torments an American pastor (and many other Christians)?  I don’t think so either.

When soldier Bowe Bergdahl, held by the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, was exchanged earlier this year for five Taliban members held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Mr. Obama promised that he would leave no American behind.  We must now hold Mr. Obama to his promise.  Please pray for Pastor Abedini, his wife, and their two beautiful children.  I encourage each of my readers to please call or write Mr. Obama regarding this matter.  The telephone number to the main White House switchboard is 1.202.456.1414, or you can email him here.  As you may have heard, Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that he is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history.  So I think he would enjoy hearing from regular folks about the plight of Pastor Abedini.  And as we move towards the Thanksgiving Day holiday, let us be mindful that we are admonished in Hebrews 13:3 to “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”


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