Mere Links 01.08.15
Thursday, January 8, 2015, 10:00 AM

Explainer: The Charlie Hebdo Terror Attack in Paris
Joe Carter, Acton PowerBlog

Yesterday at 11:30 a.m. local time in Paris (5:30 a.m. ET), two gunmen wearing black hoods and carrying Kalashnikovs killed twelve people, including two police officers.

How The Transgender Lobby Is Using A Teen’s Death
Carl R. Trueman, First Things

The suicide of the transgender teen, Leelah Alcorn (I use the child’s name preference), has proved a source of much internet anger and outrage over the last week. Alcorn had apparently identified as a girl from age fourteen. The parents were Christians and both refused to recognize their child as a girl and sent him to some form of therapy. The result was heartbreak all round: In despair, the child killed himself and the parents are now bereaved.

Christian Scholarship And The Distinguishing Virtue Of Humility
Matthew J. Hall, The Gospel Coalition

Christian scholarship must be characterized by love for the truth, but of greater import, it must be undergirded by humility.

Making Money To The Glory Of God
Timothy J. Trudeau

Both the prosperity gospel and the anti-prosperity gospel are over-reactions—possibly as a response to each other. Both are wrong. Neither is the gospel.

Mere Links 01.07.15
Wednesday, January 7, 2015, 10:00 AM

5 Reasons to Pray for Other Churches
Eric Bancroft, Ligonier Ministries

“What’s wrong with that church?” she asked me in a hushed voice as she leaned in close. There I stood in the lobby of our church in 2008 with one of the members looking for insider information. “Which church are you talking about?” I responded, genuinely confused. “The one you prayed for this morning during worship,” she said.

Europe’s Empty Churches Go on Sale
Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal

Hundreds of Churches Have Closed or Are Threatened by Plunging Membership, Posing Question: What to Do With Unused Buildings?

Jesus may have been tried here: Archaeologists uncover Herod’s palace
Michele Chabin, Crux

The site where Jesus may have been tried, prior to his crucifixion, is now open to the public for the very first time.

Congress is still really religious and really Christian
Domenico Montanaro, PBS Newshour

Despite a growing number of Americans who say they are religiously unaffiliated, Congress is dominated by those who identify with a religion.

Mere Links 01.06.15
Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 10:00 AM

Catholics Fight for Freedom in Washington, D.C.
Robert E. Laird , Crisis Magazine

The Catholic University of America and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., are the latest targets of legislative and judicial moral relativists who severely threaten the religious freedom of Catholic educational institutions from pre-schools to universities, as well as other Catholic services.

Libya violence: Militants kidnap Coptic Christians in Sirte

Masked gunmen in northern Libya have kidnapped 13 Coptic Christian workers from Egypt, just a week after seven others were abducted.

What Christianity Contributes To China’s Economic Rise
Brian J. Grim, First Things

What has fueled China’s remarkable economic growth that has lifted more than 500 million people out of abject poverty and positioned it to become the world’s largest economy?

Flirting with Death
Richard M. Doerflinger, Public Discourse

Did New Jersey’s Assembly approve an assisted suicide bill without understanding it? The bill is bad public policy, shot through with dangerous loopholes and contradictions that threaten to push many vulnerable citizens of New Jersey toward death.

Mere Links 01.05.15
Monday, January 5, 2015, 10:00 AM

Gay Marriage Prompts Call for Clergy to Shun Civil Ceremonies
Mark Oppenheimer, New York Times

In its December issue, the conservative Christian magazine First Things published “The Marriage Pledge,” by Christopher Seitz and Ephraim Radner, both Episcopal priests and theologians who teach at Wycliffe College in Toronto. The pledge commits clergy members not to sign “government-provided marriage certificates.” Its online version has attracted 370 signers.

Doctors Killed His Mom Because She Was Depressed. Now He Speaks Out Against Euthanasia.
Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal

Just weeks ago, the world watched as Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer, followed through on her vow to take her own life. After receiving a prognosis of six months to live, Maynard and her husband moved from San Francisco to Portland, Ore., where it was legal to obtain a prescription that would allow her to die when she chose.

The Church Needs the New Homophiles
Austin Ruse, Crisis Magazine

There is a group of Catholics who experience same-sex attraction. They accept the teachings of the Church on sexual morality. They do not act on their same-sex desires. They are chaste. They live lives of prayer, brotherhood and friendship, along with a sexual chastity that is proper to their station in life.

A Medieval Perspective On Modern Identity Politics
Carl R. Trueman, First Things

Advocates of LGBTQ rights often accuse their critics of living in the past, specifically in the Dark or the Middle Ages. In my case, I am guilty as charged. Indeed, while revising my Medieval Church lectures over Christmas, I was reminded of just how medieval I am by the new book from Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual.

Mere Links 01.02.15
Friday, January 2, 2015, 10:00 AM

What is the Worst Sin in the Bible?
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

Because the Old Testament records the historical pedagogy by which God prepared His People for the arrival of the Savior, it is hardly surprising that it says a great deal about what human beings were to be saved from—that is, sin. The Hebrew Bible conveys quite a bit about God’s attitude toward sin. This was a necessary part of the divine tutelage revealed in Salvation History.

Understanding Conscience Claims as Claims of an Absolute Duty
Rick Plasterer, Juicy Ecumenism

Imperative in the struggle for liberty of conscience is the claim that the right of conscience is protection for an absolute duty. Without this there is no point in the struggle, nor can the general public or the civil courts understand the true nature of the claims being made, or why they should be accommodated.

Taking Aim At The Seven Deadly Sins
Brian Hedges, The Gospel Coalition

Seeing our sins as foolish and fatal attempts to find satisfaction apart from God should provoke both sorrow and hope in our hearts.

Study suggests faith influences one’s opinion about space exploration
Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

How people value space exploration may just depend on someone’s particular faith. An analysis of the results of several national surveys by a University of Dayton political science professor found that Catholics are more supportive of the United States maintaining a leading role in probing the depths of space and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence than people of other faiths.

Mere Links 12.31.14
Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 10:00 AM

Fifty Days of Sundays

Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

When, at the Council of Nicaea, the Church formally determined that Pascha should always be observed on a Sunday, that determination necesarily affected the final day of Pentecost. Thus, beginning and ending on a Sunday, the whole fifty days of Pentecost began to take on some of characteristics associated with Sunday, the day of the Lord’s Resurrection.

Don’t Just Make A Resolution—make A Habit
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

If you want to keep your New Year’s resolutions this year, turn them into habits. Here’s how . . .

How To Make A New Year’s Resolution That Sticks
Tim Challies,

The most likely reason your new year’s resolution will fail is that you haven’t actually made a resolution—you have made a wish.

Middle Eastern Christians Flee Violence for Ancient Homeland
Tara Isabella Burton, National Geographic

Refugees flee Syria and Iraq to Midyat, Turkey, which clings to its diminished role as the heartland of the ancient Orthodox faith.

Mere Links 12.30.14
Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 10:00 AM

For The West, Christian Hunting Is The Sport Of Lawmakers And Judges
Joy Pullmann, The Federalist

Washington DC’s City Council is moving to force religious K-12 schools and universities to pay for employee abortions and sponsor on-campus gay advocacy organizations.

Catholic Higher Education in Ruins
Robert Oscar Lopez , Crisis Magazine

Before there was Pope Francis, there was a different Francis from Assisi, Italy. Back in the twelfth century, St. Francis heard the call to fix a church falling into ruins. Now it is the twenty-first century, and this Francis ought to hear the call to fix Catholic colleges falling into ruins.

A Daily Reading Plan For Shakespeare’s Works
Matthew J. Franck, First Things

A couple of years ago, having twice gone through the Bible on daily reading plans, I wanted to tackle Shakespeare’s complete works with similar discipline. Unfortunately, after searching high and low, I could find no daily reading plan for Shakespeare. So I created one. . .

Unbroken: Long On Resilience, Short On Redemption
Jeff Robinson, The Gospel Coalition

Ultimately, ‘Unbroken’ suffers from a similar malady to Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ.’

Mere Links 12.29.14
Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:00 AM

Pope Condemns Islamic State, Decries Suffering of Children

Pope Francis on Thursday condemned the “brutal persecution” of minorities by Islamic State insurgents and said the joy of Christmas was marred by the suffering of children in the Middle East and around the world.

Top Dozen Church-State and Religious Liberty Developments In 2014
Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

Each year in December, I attempt to highlight the most important Church-State and Religious Liberty Developments of the past year. Usually I identify the top ten stories. This year however was so full of important developments that I have had to increase my nominations to the Top Dozen.

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God
Eric Metaxas, Wall Street Journal

The odds of life existing on another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone?

Spurgeon At Year’s End
Timothy George, First Things

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a cigar-smoking Baptist pastor in Victorian London whose influence, even in his own lifetime, extended far beyond the bounds of his own nation and denomination. Known as “the boy wonder of the fens” for his notable preaching in the villages of Cambridgeshire, Spurgeon took London by storm when he was only nineteen years of age.

Mere Links 12.26.14
Friday, December 26, 2014, 10:00 AM

How To Change Your Mind
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

The beginning of a New Year is an an excellent time to try something new. As you make your list of resolutions and goals I want to recommend adding a simple four step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind.

Why 2014’s God Movies Were So Bad
Emma Green , The Atlantic

This year, Jesus, Noah, and Moses all had starring roles in major films. But despite the Hollywood’s new fixation on religion, the Almighty still proves difficult capture.

Popular Pope Francis takes own path in Vatican
David Willey, BBC

In the course of 2014 Pope Francis consolidated his position as one of the most popular pontiffs of modern times, more popular even than the recently-sainted Pope John Paul II.

How adoption has forced evangelicals to grapple with race relations
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

As evangelicals have turned their attention toward adoption in the past decade, families like the Hatmakers are grappling with race relations in a profoundly personal way, especially as national news spotlights racial tension in New York; Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere.

Mere Links 12.24.14
Wednesday, December 24, 2014, 10:00 AM

Dealing with “Bad” Bible Verses
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

he books of Joshua and Judges, which begin with the conquest of the Holy Land by the Chosen People, are dominated by the imagery of warfare.

Mary’s crisis-pregnancy and noble Joseph
Denny Burk,

What does it look like to be a righteous person? In Joseph’s case, it looks like a guy who is conscientious about God’s law but who is also conscientious about grace.

Yes, Virginia, Santa Has a Face
Dusty Gates, Crisis Magazine

Last year’s media war fought over the skin color of Santa gave us much to think about regarding racial agendas, cultural customs, and the relationship between popular tradition and concrete history.

Christmas and the Humbling of the Wise Men
George Weigel, First Things

It might seem that everything that could be said, has been said, about the shepherds, the wise men and the Christ Child. But that’s one of the marvels of Scripture: The unfolding history of the Church draws out of the inspired Word of God allegories and images previously unrecognized.

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