Mere Links 11.12.14
Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 10:00 AM

Designing a Church for the Poor
Duncan G. Stroik, Crisis Magazine

We all know that the poor need food and clothing, decent education and good jobs. But what about their spiritual and cultural needs?

2 Pastors, 90-Year-Old Man Charged With Feeding Homeless
Assoctiated Press

To Arnold Abbott, feeding the homeless in a public park in South Florida was an act of charity. To the city of Fort Lauderdale, the 90-year-old man in white chef’s apron serving up gourmet-styled meals was committing a crime.

Germany’s Pay to Pray Scheme
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

In Germany, as in a number of other European countries, if you are a member of a church or mainstream religion, you have to pay a pretty significant tax to the government, which distributes the money to the churches.

Why Christian Groups Lead the Biggest Relief Efforts in the World
Christopher Hale, OnFaith

Organizations like World Vision give the lie to negative stereotypes about Christian work in the world.

Mere Links 11.11.14
Tuesday, November 11, 2014, 10:00 AM

Why Pro-Family Groups are Losing the Marriage Debate
Austin Ruse, Crisis Magazine

In a recent column published on his website, Camenker offers no quarter to the national pro-family groups that he says have botched the fight against same-sex “marriage.” In fact, he says “the pro-family movement helped spread ‘gay marriage’ across America.”

Stuff First-Century Christians Fought About
Derwin L. Gray, Christianity Today

What we can learn about multiethnic church planting from the first church dispute.

What the Pope could do to defend religious freedom
John L. Allen Jr., Crux

Just by reading the news, one has the impression that religious freedom is under threat today. From the carnage unleashed by the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to church/state tensions across the West, the picture seems to grow murkier and grimmer by the day.

The fastest-growing new religious movement
Gene Veith, Cranach

One expert says that worship of “Holy Death” is “the fastest-growing new religious movement.” I suppose it is fitting that a culture of death has a religion of death.

Mere Links 11.10.14
Monday, November 10, 2014, 10:00 AM

Who Will Rescue the Lost Sheep of the Lonely Revolution?
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine

We do not have Pharisees who preen themselves for having followed the letter of the law and missed its soul. We have Pharisees who preen themselves for disobeying the law, even the most serious admonitions of the law, even your own clear words on marriage and divorce, while presuming to have discovered a soul-of-the-law whose existence has eluded two thousand years of martyrs, saints, popes, bishops, and theologians.

A Christian Tightrope Walker?
David Murray,

Can you be a “Christian Tightrope Walker.” Is tightrope-walking a legitimate Christian vocation? Does repeatedly mentioning God sanctify whatever job we do?

Pastors Don’t Need To Enter Politics—They’re Already In It
Peter J. Leithart, First Things

As pastors, pastors command unfathomable spiritual resources, the only resources with potential to transform the world. What Samuel Wells has said about the Church applies to pastors in particular: God gives “boundless gifts,” supplies “everything they need.”

One-fifth of Americans share religious experience online
Sarah Parvini, L.A. Times

One in five Americans share their religious thoughts and experiences on social networks, and nearly half said they saw someone else post “something about their religious faith” on the Internet, according to a Pew Research Center study on religion and electronic media.

Mere Links 11.07.14
Friday, November 7, 2014, 10:00 AM

A Catholic philosopher’s spellbinding fight against Hitler
Kate Veik, Catholic News Agency

“Very, very few people in Germany in 1920-1921 already realized that Nazism was a poison,” von Hildebrand’s wife, Alice, explained. “People closed their eyes and did not want to see. (Dietrich) saw the danger and he warned people. Many people would call him a pessimist, but unfortunately he was right.”

Why Mars Hill’s Breakup Is a Warning for Megastar Pastors
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

Pastors with megabrands are raising new issues for fast-growing churches.

Not Sentiment, Prejudice, or Tradition: Exploring the Nature of Marriage
Francis J. Beckwith, Public Discourse

Patrick Lee and Robert P. George’s new book clearly establishes that the case for conjugal marriage is not based on irrational prejudice or sentimental appeal to tradition. It is based on a series of sophisticated arguments that deserve to be answered.

Are Americans Afraid to Talk About Their Faith Online?
Emma Green, The Atlantic

On social networks like Twitter and Facebook, few regularly mention their religious beliefs.

Mere Links 11.06.14
Thursday, November 6, 2014, 10:00 AM

Pope sacked Church official for selling annulments
Angus Mackinnon, AFP

Pope Francis revealed Wednesday that he had sacked a church court official who had been caught offering to facilitate marriage annulments for cash.

How religion played in the midterm elections
Mark Silk, Religion News Service

According to yesterday’s exit polls, the religious layout of the electorate looks almost identical to the last midterm election in 2010, and not much different from the 2012 presidential election.

The Orthodox Trojan Horse
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

In the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), there is awareness of a liberal vs. conservative culture clash between the old-line Orthodox in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, where Orthodoxy is historically and numerically stronger, but in decline; and the convert-heavy Orthodoxy in the South and West, which is the only place the OCA is growing.

Why Evangelicals Are Wary of the Government
Alan Noble, The Atlantic

The subpoenas Houston Mayor Annise Parker issued to five of the city’s pastors highlight the larger tensions in state involvement with religion.

Mere Links 11.05.14
Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 10:00 AM

Jesus of the Housetops
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

If we reflected on it more closely, perhaps we would observe something curious, even surprising, in the Gospel stories about Jesus after his Resurrection; namely, what I venture to call a quality of restraint.

Surrogacy and Christian Compassion
Kristin Larson, Juicy Ecumenism

Despite appearing to be “pro-life,” surrogacy commodifies human life by using a woman’s body to create and carry a child that she is legally obligated to give away.

What is the Church’s Political Role?
James Kalb, Crisis Magazine

For more than 1500 years the Church was a major influence on Western politics. That is how it should be. Ultimate standards matter, and if the Church doesn’t explain what they are and how to apply them someone else will.

Vatican ethicist: No dignity in Brittany Maynard’s physician-assisted death
Josephine Mckenna, Religion News Service

The Vatican’s top ethicist condemned Brittany Maynard’s decision to end her life, saying there was no dignity in her physician-assisted death.

Mere Links 11.04.14
Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 10:00 AM

Cracks in the atheist edifice
The Economist

The rapid spread of Christianity in China is forcing an official rethink on religion

The Government Should Stop Waging War on Those Against Same-Sex Marriage
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

It’s hard to imagine a more bedrock American right than being free to live according to your religious convictions. The very idea of being forced to violate your beliefs seems unthinkable.

Rogue pastors endorse candidates, but IRS looks away
Rachel Bade, Politico

A record number of rogue Christian pastors are endorsing candidates from the pulpit this election cycle, using Sunday sermons to defiantly flout tax rules. Their message to the IRS: Sue me.

In Malaysia, ‘Allah’ Is Reserved for Muslims Only
Thomas Fuller, New York Times

As the students knelt in a circle at a Christian kindergarten near the shores of the South China Sea, a 6-year-old girl in pigtails read out a chapter from a children’s Bible: “Sepuluh hukum dari Allah” – God’s Ten Commandments. Technically, she broke the law.

Mere Links 10.01.14
Monday, November 3, 2014, 10:00 AM

Why Nigerian Health Officials Turned to a Megachurch Pastor When Ebola Struck
Sunday Oguntola and Ruth Moon, Christianity Today

Outbreak highlights African views about God’s healing power.

Segregated Surveys: How Politics Keeps Evangelicals White
Ruth Moon, Christianity Today

You can disbelieve in God, never go to church, and still identify as “evangelical” in most polls. But if you’re black and evangelical, you literally don’t count.

Learning about Love: How Sex Ed Programs Undermine Happy Marriages
Cassandra Hough, Public Discourse

Contemporary sex education prepares young men and women not for the fullness of friendship, intimacy and love, but for casual relationships and recreational sex.

Does purgatory have a prayer with Protestants?
David Gibson, Religion News Service

Most Protestant traditions forcefully rejected the “Romish doctrine” of purgatory after the Reformation nearly 500 years ago. The Protestant discomfort with purgatory hasn’t eased much since: You still can’t find the word in the Bible, critics say, and the idea that you can pray anyone who has died into paradise smacks of salvation by good works.

Mere Links 10.31.14
Friday, October 31, 2014, 10:00 AM

On The Failures of “General” Christology
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

When the Church in times past- in 451 at Chalcedon, for instance, and at Constantinople in 670-was obliged to deal with a “duality” in Christ, the questions in dispute were resolved by applying the distinction between his divine and human natures.

Pope Francis praises exorcists for combating ‘the Devil’s works’
Nick Squires, The Telegraph

Catholic Church warns of a rise in Satanism and the occult as Pope Francis sends message to Rome convention of international exorcists.

On God’s Responsibility for Atheism
Joseph G. Trabbic, Crisis Magazine

In spite of themselves, atheists can help to remind us of an important truth about God, that is, that he radically transcends the universe. It is God’s very transcendence that makes atheism possible, or at least more likely.

What Is Reformation Day All About?
Robert Rothwell, Ligonier Ministries

On Friday, much of the culture will be focused on candy and things that go bump in the night. Protestants, however, have something far more significant to celebrate on October 31.

Mere Links 10.30.14
Thursday, October 30, 2014, 10:00 AM

Why I Am A Catholic
Ross Douthat, New York Times

I am a Catholic for various contingent reasons (this is as true of converts as of anyone else), but on a conscious level it’s because I am a mostly-faithful Christian who is mostly convinced that Roman Catholicism is the expression of Christianity that has kept faith most fully with the early church and the words of Jesus of Nazareth himself.

The Church Vanishes, Part Deux
Philip Jenkins, The Anxious Bench

If we extrapolate that rate into the not-too-distant future, then the number of people attending Episcopal churches on a typical Sunday will be negligible by mid-century, typical of a tiny sect rather than a great church or denomination.

Marriage Sounds Great—But How On Earth Do I Get There?
Edward Amsden, The Federalist

When everyone’s having sex before marriage, people who choose to remain celibate have an awful hard time finding people with similar beliefs and virtues to marry. Conservatives should help.

In new video, Francis urges Catholics and Protestants to work together
Austen Ivereigh, Crux

Catholics and Evangelicals should not wait for theologians to reach agreement before praying and working together, Pope Francis recently told a group of Pentecostal Anglican bishops in Rome.

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