Mere Links 06.09.14
Monday, June 9, 2014, 10:00 AM

In Sickness And In Health … When I Feel Like It
D.C. McAllister, The Federalist

Sadly, many people run from suffering and sickness because they want a “happy” life, not a joyful one. They do this not only with mental illness but physical illness as well.

9 Things You Should Know About Surrogacy
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Last week, the issue of surrogacy returned to the news when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal vetoed legislation allowing for legal surrogacy births. Here are nine things you should know about surrogacy.

Should Christian Leaders Defend Islam?
William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine

Is there such a thing as bad religion? Or is religion by its very nature a good thing? Throughout most of history, most people wouldn’t have hesitated to label some religions as bad.

In U.S., 42% Believe Creationist View of Human Origins
Frank Newport, Gallup

More than four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, a view that has changed little over the past three decades. Half of Americans believe humans evolved, with the majority of these saying God guided the evolutionary process. However, the percentage who say God was not involved is rising.



Mere Links 06.06.14
Friday, June 6, 2014, 10:00 AM

How to Form a Real Conscience
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine

It is also impossible to admit your need for a master if you won’t accept a truth unless it can be expressed so as to satisfy your intellect, here, now. What seems to be a paradox is easy to resolve once we consider the difference between nobility and what Max Scheler called ressentiment, in his remarkable book of that name.

Troubled Waters
Timothy George, First Things

For some years now, annual church statistics have shown that the SBC is losing members. Although there are still more than 46,000 congregations affiliated with the SBC, total membership has fallen by upwards of one million since 2005—from 16.6 million members in that year to 15.7 million members in 2013.

Atheists lose latest legal fight over ‘In God We Trust’
Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service

Atheists lost their case against the “In God We Trust” motto on the nation’s currency Wednesday (May 28). It’s a battle they have lost several times before, as court after court has affirmed that printing and engraving the country’s motto on its money does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

Southern Baptist membership declines for 7th year
Associated Press

The nation’s largest Protestant denomination saw membership decline for the seventh straight year in 2013, according to an annual report released Wednesday.



Mere Links 06.05.14
Thursday, June 5, 2014, 10:00 AM

Can Science Tell Us When Life Begins?
Mathew Lu, Public Discourse

“Science” can tell us when life begins, provided that we already know what to look for. Empirical biology alone cannot tell us what that is. Once we establish a metaphysical account of life, then empirical embryology can tell us whether the relevant conditions are met.

Neo-Jim Crow in the Middle East
Gary Bauer, Washington Times

Sadly, a version of Jim Crow has been resurrected — but this time, his targets are the ancient Christian populations of the Middle East.

Baptist Missionary Sentenced to Life in Hard Labor by North Korea
Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times

The missionary, Kim Jong-uk, was also convicted of spying and other various “anti-state” crimes during a trial in Pyongyang on Friday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said on Saturday. A large crowd attended Mr. Kim’s trial, the report said.

After 5 Months of Sales, Colorado Sees the Downside of a Legal High
Jack Healy, New York Times

Five months after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, the battle over legalization is still raging.



Mere Links 06.04.14
Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 10:00 AM

Church-State Clash in China Coalesces Around a Toppled Spire
Ian Johnson, New York Times

“People are stunned,” said one member of the congregation, who asked that she be identified only by her English name, Mabel, out of fear of government reprisals. “They have completely lost faith in the local religious authorities.”

Building Strong Marriages, One at a Time
Rachel Sheffield, Public Discourse

If healthy marriage is the basis of a strong society, it is worth every effort to strengthen it. Marriage education should supplement other efforts to address social problems.

Starvation as the New “Death With Dignity”
Wesley J. Smith, First Things

Self-starvation has become the latest craze among the “death with dignity” crowd. This has been coming on for some time. Removing feeding tubes from cognitively disabled people who can’t swallow has been allowed for decades, under the right to refuse unwanted “medical treatment.” But what about people who can eat and drink by mouth? Assisted suicide advocates argue that it isn’t fair that they can’t die too.

Without Gloss: Francis of Assisi and Western Catholicism
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Crisis Magazine

Scripture tells us that God is utterly different from us, vastly higher than us. Then it tells us to become like him. Therein lies the paradox. The task seems impossible. And yet we know it to be possible.



Mere Links 06.03.14
Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 10:00 AM

Prisoners of Sex
Ross Douthat, New York Times

The culture’s attitude is Hefnerism, basically, if less baldly chauvinistic than the original Playboy philosophy. Sexual fulfillment is treated as the source and summit of a life well lived, the thing without which nobody (from a carefree college student to a Cialis-taking senior) can be truly happy, enviable or free.

Christian Leaders May Return to Nicaea: What Does It Mean?
Emma Green, The Atlantic

In 2025, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians could go back to the place where early followers of Jesus tried to create a consensus among all of Christendom.

Who, What, Why: What language would Jesus have spoken?
BBC

Israel’s prime minister has verbally sparred with the Pope over which language Christ might have spoken. Several languages were used in the places where Jesus lived – so which would he have known, asks Tom de Castella.

25 years after Tiananmen Square, China tightens grip on religious freedom
William McKenzie, CNN

Twenty-five years after Tiananmen Square – where on June 4, 1989, Chinese soldiers turned their guns on protesting students and activists – freedom remains elusive.



Mere Links 06.02.14
Monday, June 2, 2014, 10:00 AM

Medicare to Now Cover Sex-Change Surgery
Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times

Medicare may no longer exclude sex-reassignment surgery from coverage, a government appeals board ruled Friday. It said the current exclusion was “no longer reasonable” because the surgery is safe and effective and can no longer be considered experimental.

Are Millennials Really Leaving the Church? Yes — but Mostly White Millennials
Bob Smietana, OnFaith

All the hand-wringing stories about young adults leaving religion overlooks the vibrancy and growth of multiethnic churches.

Pope Francis’s rollicking plane ride home: Rule of celibate priests ‘always open’ to change
Terrence McCoy, Washington Post

Priestly celibacy “is not a dogma of faith.” Last week, the pope got a letter. It was from a group of priests’ girlfriends. They pleaded with him to strike down rules prohibiting priests from marriage and sex. “Each of us is in, was or would like to start a relationship with a priest we are in love with,” the women wrote in the letter.

Drive-thru at church: The easy-pray lane
Terri Akman, Philadelphia Inquirer

In an age when convenience is king and religion is often ridiculed, some churches looking to widen their outreach efforts are embracing what community banks and pharmacies have utilized for decades: the drive-through.



Mere Links 05.30.14
Friday, May 30, 2014, 10:00 AM

Conservative Christianity and the transgender question
Russell D. Moore, OnFaith

As a conservative evangelical Christian, I believe the so-called transgender question will require a church with a strong theological grounding, and a winsome pastoral footing.

The Southern Baptist Convention: An Introduction
Baptist21

The SBC is made up of more than 16 million members who hold membership in 44,848 autonomous, local churches. By calling the churches autonomous, we mean that they make their own decisions on staffing, budget, and program. No one outside the churches holds this authority.

Amicable breakup of UMC needed, pastor group says
Sam Hodges, United Methodist Reporter

A group of United Methodist pastors and theologians is calling for an amicable split of the denomination, saying differences over homosexuality and other issues are irreconcilable.

For Middle East, Region of Religious Conflict, Pope Suggests a Respite in Prayer
Jodi Rudoren, New York Times

The meeting is not going to produce a treaty, of course. But could it at least bring the sides back to the negotiating table?



Mere Links 05.29.14
Thursday, May 29, 2014, 10:00 AM

Too Scared to Cry: Social Media Outrage and the Gospel
Russell Moore, Desiring God

We must learn to lament, because once we no longer lament we turn instead to anger, outrage, blame, and quarrelsomeness. The louder and more frantic the anger, the more we feel as though we’re really showing conviction and grit.

Our Moral Obligation to Vote
Bishop James D. Conley, STL, Crisis Magazine

From the very beginning, Catholics have played a vital role in the success of the American experiment. And our involvement in public and political life is still essential to the well-being of our nation.

The Supreme Court on Prayer
Gerard V. Bradley, Public Discourse

Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Greece v. Galloway is the Court’s best piece of Establishment Clause work in decades—and a happy omen for religious liberty in our country.

St. Joan of Arc: A Guide for Every Age
Christopher Check, Crisis Magazine

Mark Twain, who considered his biography of Saint Joan of Arc, whose feast we celebrate Friday, to be his best work. He called the Maid of Orleans “easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.”



Mere Links 05.28.14
Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 10:00 AM

A Load That Can Be Carried Without Violating the Sabbath
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

Sometimes in the Gospels we find an abrupt transition of contrasting scenes to convey an irony fundamental to the Gospel itself. For example, strength made perfect in infirmity, or the wisdom revealed to the simple.

Sudanese woman sentenced to death for her Christianity gives birth in prison
Faith Karim and Mohammed Osman, CNN

A Sudanese woman sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her Christianity has given birth to a girl in prison, her lawyers said Tuesday.

On Thinking With the Church
Dale M. Coulter, First Things

The question is how to connect evangelicals to the Great Tradition, which brings me to Pope Francis’s appeal to the church as the people of God.

China’s Religious Persecution: How Will The World Respond?
Elise Hilton, Acton PowerBlog

Bob Fu, a former pastor from China and founder of ChinaAid, discusses the increasing persecution of religion, especially Christianity, in China. At FaithStreet, Fu says that both unofficial “house churches” and denominational churches struggle to exist.



Mere Links 05.27.14
Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 10:00 AM

Mere Consent and the Abolition of Human Dignity
Francis J. Beckwith, The Catholic Thing

[M]any today are suggesting that when it comes to some of the great moral questions of our time, individual autonomy (or “consent”) is the only principle we need in order to secure all the goods for which more ancient understandings, such as human dignity, have been employed.

Conservative United Methodists say split over sexuality is ‘irreconcilable’
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

Will the United Methodist Church soon have to drop the “United” part of its name?

With New Bill, Abortion Limits Spread in South
Jeremy Alford and Erick Eckholm, New York Times

The Louisiana State Legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that could force three of the state’s five abortion clinics to close, echoing rules passed in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas and raising the possibility of drastically reduced access to abortion across a broad stretch of the South.

Pope, in Mideast, Stresses Urgency of Solving Crises
Jodi Rudoren, New York Times

Pope Francis called “urgently” on Saturday for a “peaceful solution” to the Syrian crisis and a “just solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he started a three-day sojourn through the Holy Land at a time of regional turmoil and tension.


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