(HT Frank and Patricia Johnson) Here are dramatic photos of Ukrainian priests standing between protesters and government forces in Kiev, trying to keep peace.
Meet a Syrian Christian Delegation, Jan. 27, DC.
As readers know, Christian in the Middle East are under fire, and perhaps in no place more than Syria at this time. Syrian Christians will be on hand to speak at the Heritage Foundation this coming Monday, Jan. 27, in Washington, DC. I wish I could be there.
If you need to be inspired and reminded that it is important to bear witness against lies despite the cost, here at the Daily Mail is a recent article about Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were both executed by the Nazis for distributing leaflets critical of Hitler’s regime. It quotes their sister, Elisabeth, who is 93. (HT: Alex Schadenberg.)
The mindset of tyranny should not be beyond us. If we say, “It can’t happen here,” we forget the power of sin and desire to deceive the human heart, which is desperately wicked above all things. How could Dachau, Rwanda, Jim Crow, Anti-Semitism, witch-hunts ever occur? Here is the creeping spirit of it in the flesh. Just a small example. The New Intolerance.
I know, I know, lots of commentary on Duck Dynasty, but something worth reading here at Patheos, part One of Two. Part Two will be posted there tomorrow.
And for good measure, and quite complementary to the above, I am posting this second piece on the underlying issue.
‘I Stand With Phil’: Religions Old and New
Stephen Richard Turley, Ph.D.
Fans of the A&E television show, Duck Dynasty, were dealt a blow. After making rather disparaging remarks toward homosexual behavior, the patriarch of the show, Phil Robertson, was suspended by the network, which affirmed their support for the ‘LGBT community.’ In response to the suspension, cyberspace lit up with a firestorm of online petitions inviting supporters to ‘stand with Phil Robertson.’
The current debate, however, betrays the complexity surrounding the emergence of gender communities and so-called ‘same-sex marriage,’ precisely because such an emergence draws into itself several points of reference, such as theology, cosmology, gender, sexuality, love, society, history, politics, and law. It would thus seem that a mature and insightful conversation would seek to disambiguate the historical and cultural contingencies in which this controversy is situated.
I am, however, under no illusions that such a conversation will or even can take place. This is because the issue surrounding the fallout over the Robertson interview is not ultimately one of free speech, intolerance, or bigotry; rather, it involves the clash between two fundamentally different embodiments of religious fidelity.
If a century of cultural anthropological research has taught us anything, it is that ‘religion’ is not merely a private or personal set of values or beliefs in gods or spirit beings. Rather, anthropologists see religion as constituting the rules, understandings, and goals that govern any social order. All social orders operate according to communally shared presuppositions that are considered absolutely true and unquestionable and thereby provide the foundation for a collective sense of the common good. If I get pulled over by a police officer for speeding and I voice my displeasure at that law, he may say, “That’s all fine and dandy, but you still broke it.” In this case, the law is absolute, it is unquestionable; I don’t define it, it defines me. I may want to have the law changed, but if I do, then there is a procedure to do so that is itself absolute and unquestionable. There is no social order that can operate without basic rules, understandings, and goals that define the common good for society in ways that are considered absolute and unquestionable.
What this means then is that there is simply no such thing as a social order that is organized and governed apart from religion. All social orders are by definition religious; all social orders are organized and governed according to some vision of the sacred: rules, understandings, and goals considered absolute and unquestionable. It is therefore not a question of whether our society is going to be organized by a religion, but rather which religion is going to organize our society. (more…)
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W. Bradford Wilcox wrote recently at National Review about the link between school shootings and sons of divorce or fatherless homes. Of course, fatherlessness is rampant in the ranks of one group where most shootings in America today occur: urban gang members. I remember a chaplain who served in a few Texas prisons telling me that he always asked new groups of men to whom he spoke how many of them had grown up in a home with their biological fathers. He didn’t recall even one ever saying “yes” to that question.
Of interest, also, is an article and interview at Dappled Things, “Restoring Faith in Fiction: A Visit with Walker Percy and Paul Elie,” by Joseph O’Brien, who is editor of Tuscany Press, as well as an award-winning journalist and a poet. O’Brien lives with his wife and nine children on a homestead in the Driftless region of rural southwest Wisconsin. He is the staff writer for The Catholic Times of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Two excerpts:
Walker Percy: “The self becomes itself,” Percy writes, “by recognizing God as a spirit, creator of the Cosmos and therefore of one’s self as a creature, a wounded creature but a creature nonetheless, who shares with a community of like creatures the belief that God, who transcends the entire Cosmos and has actually entered human history—or will enter it—in order to redeem man from the catastrophe which has overtaken his self.”
DT: In your article, you admit that there are rare exceptions of fiction being written today with faith integral to the story. But why do you feel you have to qualify even these works?
Paul Elie: I feel I can’t find them and if I do find them characteristically they’re set in the past. Gilead(2004) [by Marilynne Robinson], for instance, is a wonderful book, but as I say in the essay, it’s a book that’s the exception that proves the rule in that it’s set in 1950s and the man who’s telling the story is already old. The plausibility of his account has to do with the fact that at some level it’s quite believable there were pastors who were thoughtful readers of the classics in 1955.
This story from the Witherspoon’s Public Discourse is not surprising.
In the new film Delivery Man, Vince Vaughn plays David Wozniak, a man who discovers that he’s the biological father of 533 children—all conceived through his anonymous sperm donations. Now, almost two decades after his “donations” (from which he netted over $20,000), 142 of those children have filed a lawsuit against the sperm bank to reveal his identity. They want to know their biological father, gain access to their medical histories, and discover their roots.
The film is fictional—but it’s not far from reality. In 2011, the New York Timesreported the story of one donor with 150 confirmed offspring.
The rest of the article is about the rights of children and the conflict with the desires of adults. But I want to focus briefly on the donation of ‘gametes.’
In the United States, there’s an open and unregulated market for gamete donation. Unlike Canada and most European countries, which limit the number of times a man can sell his sperm and have mandatory database registries where donor children can access their biological parents’ medical histories, the United States enforces no such regulations.
I am not sure what moral principle requires us to limit the number of times a man call sell his sperm–ONCE you’ve granted him the right to do that in the first place. Siring 5 or 150 children via donation–why limit the quantity?
This raises, to me, the question: If a man can father 150 children by putting his sperm into the wombs of, let’s assume, 150 women, why can’t he instead–for the sake of the children and the issues of rights addressed in the article–place his sperm in the wombs of, let’s say, only 5 women and identify himself as the father AND take another step toward responsibility and create a more stable relationship structure for a) the women b) the children and c) the community by legally marrying all five women?
In another case, if a single man may impregnate 5 single women without impunity, and if the state elects to financially support the single mothers (who do not choose to abort), why wouldn’t the state prefer or at least allow that the man marry the five women and support them and their children? Now, that’s not my idea, but we’ve travelled so far down the road of utilitarianism when it comes to procreation that we’ve lost our way. Nothing that appears around the next bend in the road will surprise me (I hope).