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Mere Links. June 5th, 2015
Friday, June 5, 2015, 2:03 PM

I Judge Your Celebration
by John Mark N. Reynolds, Patheos

An American may never read the Bible, but he knows that Jesus said:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Jesus did say it and He meant what He said. Sadly, Jesus did not mean our misreading of what He said. No sage is responsible for semi-literacy.

Slide Into Secularism: What the Marriage Referendum Says About Ireland
by Michael Kelly, National Catholic Register
Although 84% of Irish residents still self-identify as Catholic, the nation has witnessed a social revolution in recent decades putting it at the forefront of the social liberal vanguard.

The Inklings Were Not Closet Pagans
by Louis Markos, The Federalist
In her review of “The Fellowship,” Philip and Carol Zaleski’s group biography of the Inklings, Elizabeth Hand does a fine job surveying the accomplishments, and peculiarities, of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams. She is far too eager to question the sexuality of Lewis and Williams, and she drags out the same old tired accusation of sexism against the male camaraderie of the Inklings, but these do not quite spoil the wit and brio of her review. . . .



Mere Links. June 3, 2015
Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 10:36 AM

A Gay Atheist Speaks a Timely Word to the Church
by Michael Brown, The Stream
You know the hour is late when God uses a gay atheist to bring a sobering wake-up call to the Church, but that’s exactly what happened after Ireland, traditionally a bastion of Catholicism, voted to redefine the marriage. . . .

Evil Knowledge? A Cautionary Tale from Shakespeare
by Dale Ahlquist, Catholic Exchange
The senior class at Chesterton Academy recently staged a remarkable production of Macbeth. I say “remarkable” because when the play is done well—which it was in this case—what everyone remarks about is what a powerful and provocative piece of drama it is. G.K. Chesterton says this is Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy because it is a Christian tragedy as opposed to a pagan tragedy. It is not a tragedy of fate, but of free will. . . .

Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution
by Paul McHugh, The Wall Street Journal
A drastic physical change doesn’t address underlying psycho-social troubles.

I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me
by Edward Schlosser, Vox
I’m a professor at a midsize state school. I have been teaching college classes for nine years now. I have won (minor) teaching awards, studied pedagogy extensively, and almost always score highly on my student evaluations. I am not a world-class teacher by any means, but I am conscientious; I attempt to put teaching ahead of research, and I take a healthy emotional stake in the well-being and growth of my students.

Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones. . . .



Mere Links. May 29, 2015
Friday, May 29, 2015, 11:21 AM

Who Were the Inklings? A review of The Fellowship
by Bianca Czaderna, First Things
The English novelist John Wain, himself an occasional Inkling in the 1940s, remembers the group as something wholly different. To him they were a veritable “circle of instigators, almost of incendiaries, meeting to urge one another on in the task of redirecting the whole current of contemporary art and life.”

Flannery O’Connor to appear on new U.S. postage stamp
by Carolyn Kellogg, L. A. Times
Writer Flannery O’Connor will appear on a new postage stamp, the U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday. On the stamp, O’Connor is flanked by peacock feathers; she raised peacocks at her family’s Andalusia Farm in Georgia.

Nature, Markets, and Human Creativity
by Rev. Gregory Jensen, Acton Institute
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his statement for the 2015 World Water Day makes a number of assertions that, while inspired by morally good ideals, are morally and practically problematic. Chief among them is his assertion “that environmental resources are God’s gift to the world” and so “cannot be either considered or exploited as private property.” While certainly not absolute, the Orthodox Christian moral tradition doesn’t reject the notion of private property. In fact, property is valued “as a socially recognized form of people’s relation to the fruits of labour and to natural resources.” Included here are the “basic powers of an owner,” such as “the right to own and use property, the right to control and collect income, the right to dispose of, lease, modify or liquidate property” (The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, VII.1).



From the Archives. The Touchstone “Book Returns”
Thursday, May 28, 2015, 3:19 PM

A number of years back Touchstone ran a column called “Book Returns.” It was a place for some of our regular writers to revisit books of cultural significance. In cleaning up the archives, I came across some good ones and thought I’d compile this list of all of the Book Returns. There’s something here for everyone…

Urban Bungle (September 2005)
Wilfred M. McClay on Harvey Cox’s The Secular City

The Path Less Beaten (October 2005)
Jack Kerouac’s On the Road
by Stephen H. Webb

Near Prophet (November 2005)
Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism
by William Murchison

Untenured Radical (December 2005)
Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society
by Graeme Hunter

Daze of Our Wives (January/February 2006)
Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique
by Beth Impson

Weapon of Misinstruction (March 2006)
Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb
by Allan Carlson

History Rebuffed (April 2006)
Herbert J. Muller’s The Uses of the Past
by Thomas C. Reeves

Tuning Out the OK Chorale (May 2006)
Eric Berne’s Games People Play & Thomas A. Harris’s I’m OK, You’re OK
by Susan Prudhomme

Moderns Forever Be Holden (July/August 2006)
J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
by Douglas Jones

Wheelin’ Grace (September 2006)
Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Franklin Freeman

Life in a Feed Lot (November 2006)
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five
by Michael E. Bailey

Alien Notion (December 2006)
John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
by Louis Markos

Weed in the Grass (July/August 2008)
Charles A. Reich’s The Greening of America
by Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr. & Allan Carlson

The Beat Escape (November 2008)
Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
by Anthony Esolen

Wasted by Watching (April 2009)
Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
by J. Daryl Charles



Mere Links. May 28, 2015
Thursday, May 28, 2015, 9:37 AM

Americans Have No Idea How Few Gay People There Are
by Garance Franke-Ruta, The Atlantic
Surveys show a shockingly high fraction think a quarter of the country is gay or lesbian, when the reality is that it’s probably less than 2 percent.

Decline of Canadian students’ math skills the fault of ‘discovery learning’: C.D. Howe Institute
by Moira MacDonald, National Post
Canadian students’ math skills have been on a decade-long decline because rote learning was replaced by discovery-based methods that promoted multiple strategies and estimations, according to a new report that calls for a return to tradition.

In Praise of the Dying Art of Civil Disagreement
by Carl R. Trueman, First Things
Why is civil disagreement so hard? It cannot simply be a matter of dogmatic certainty. The woman minister and I were quite convinced of the correctness of our respective positions, both at the beginning and at the end of our exchange, yet we later enjoyed a delightful conversation over a glass of wine at the post-seminar reception. No, the failure of civil disagreement cannot be a function of certainty.



Mere Links. May 20th, 2015
Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 1:49 PM

Getting Away From It All
by Anthony Esolen, The Catholic Thing

Sometimes I find it useful to clear my head of the madness of our times. I put myself in the company of well-educated but otherwise ordinary people who don’t watch our television, read our newspapers, comment on our current events, slobber over our pornography, and enlist as infantry in the great march of lemmings into the maw of the future. . . .

Federal Court Forces University of Notre Dame to Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate
by Steven Ertelt, lifenews.com

A federal appeals court has denied a request by the University of Notre Dame to get out of having to comply with the pro-abortion HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare and requires businesses and church groups to pay for abortion-causing drugs for their employees. . . .

Songs of Bond
by Peter J. Leithart, First Things

Adrian Daub and Charles Kronengold examine the James Bond Songs in a forthcoming book. It doesn’t seem an especially promising subject; it’s not the kind of thing you expect from the venerable Oxford University Press. But Daub and Kronengold show that the music is revealing in more ways that the obvious one (to state the obvious: silhouettes of naked women dancing during the opening credits). . . .



Mere Links. May 13, 2015.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 12:00 PM

An Interview with David Dockery
By Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition

There are few people I respect and admire more than Dr. David S. Dockery, the 15th president of Trinity International University. He is the subject of a recent Festschrift, Convictional Civility: Engaging the Culture in the 21st Century, Essays in Honor of David S. Dockery (B&H, 2015). We recently sat down for a conversation about the state of Christian higher education, the series he edits for Crossway, and his advice for future leaders.

David Brooks: We Need to Start Talking about Sin and Righteousness Again
Interview by Jeff Haanen, Christianity Today

The New York Times columnist asks what it takes to build character in a ‘Big Me’ culture.

Pew Survey & Lament for Nominal Christianity
by Mark Tooley, IRD

A new Pew survey shows the number of Americans identifying as Christians declining from 78% to 70% since 2007.  The religiously unaffiliated have increased from 15 to almost 23%.  Non-Christian religionists have increased from about 5 to 6%.



C. S. Lewis’s List
Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 11:20 AM

In October of 2012, The C. S. Lewis Society of Madison, WI, and the Bradshaw-Knight Foundation sponsored a conference on the ten books that most influenced C. S. Lewis. There was a lecture given for each of these books, and Touchstone was there co-sponsoring the event.

Regular Touchstone readers will recognize some of these speakers such as Donald T. Williams, Louis Markos, and Charles Taliaferro. The lectures have recently been collected and published. See the publisher’s description below:

9781628924138 C. S. Lewiss ListC. S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books That Influenced Him Most
Edited by David Werther, Susan Werther, Bloomsbury

In 1962, The Christian Century published C. S. Lewis’s answer to the question, “What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?” Lewis responded with ten titles, ranging from Virgil’s Aeneid to James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson and from George Herbert’s The Temple to Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy.

C. S. Lewis’s List brings together experts on each of the ten books to discuss their significance for Lewis’s life and work, illuminating his own writing through those he most admired.

Table of Contents
1. George MacDonald, Phantastes. David L. Neuhouser, Taylor University, USA
2. G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man. Donald T. Williams, Toccoa Falls College, USA
3. Virgil, The Aeneid. Louis Markos, Houston Baptist University, USA
4. George Herbert, The Temple. Don W. King, Montreat College, USA
5. William Wordsworth, The Prelude. Mary Ritter, New York University, USA
6. Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy. Adam Barkman, Redeemer University College, Canada
7. Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy. Chris Armstrong, Bethel Seminary, USA
8. James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson. Paul Tankard, University of Otago, New Zealand
9. Charles Williams, Descent Into Hell. Holly Ordway, Houston Baptist University, USA
10. Arthur James Balfour, Theism and Humanism. Charles Taliaferro, St Olaf College, USA



Touchstone on Twitter
Monday, May 11, 2015, 10:44 AM

Follow Touchstone on Twitter, where we post links to new articles, articles from the archives, updates on Touchstone / FSJ events, and links to Mere Comments. Here’s what’s been posted today.

Screen Shot 2015 05 11 at 10.39.49 AM Touchstone on Twitter

Touchstone is on Facebook, too.



Mere Links. May 7, 2015.
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 10:33 AM

A Warning from Canada: Same-Sex Marriage Erodes Fundamental Rights
by  Dawn Stefanowicz, The Public Discourse

Americans need to understand that the endgame of the LGBT rights movement involves centralized state power—and the end of First Amendment freedoms.

Book Review: ‘Disinherited: How Washington is Betraying America’s Young’
by Sarah Stanley, Acton Institute

Things aren’t looking good for millennials. Tied up in the “American dream” is an assumption that you’ll do better than your parents, but those of us between the ages of 18 and 34 are predicted to be the first generation to actually do worse financially. Time Magazine recently boiled down some depressing figures from a U.S. Census Bureau report. According to the article, “millennials are worse off than the same age group in 1980, 1990 and 2000″ when looking at median income, leaving home, employment, and poverty.

Japanese population: welcome back to the year 2000
by Marcus Roberts, Mercatornet

When you see these sorts of numbers being predicted, and you think of the Japanese Government’s options (which seem to be either increasing fertility rate by 50% or massively increasing immigration or both) and you think of how population is a major factor in geopolitical clout then I find it hard to see how Japan will be able to revive its position in the world . . .


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