Mere Links 02.19.14
Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Unbearable Cruelty of Banning Blankets for the Homeless
Joe Carter, Acton Institute

Does the city of Pensacola, Florida care more about the comfort of cats than the dignity and safety of human beings?

What’s Wrong with Belgium?
Tracey Rowland, Crisis Magazine

What went wrong? How can a nation that is even nominally Catholic do this? Can all this be pinned on the theology of Edward Schillebeeckx and his colleagues who wanted to correlate theology to the spirit of the times, to accommodate Catholicism to modernity?

N. Korea brutality detailed in U.N. report
Baptist Press

A report detailing brutal crimes against humanity in North Korea was released by a United Nations commission that urged the international community to take responsibility for protecting the people there.

Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful?
Denny Burk, Canon and Culture

Some Christian ethicists take this observation a step further and argue that we must make a moral distinction between orientation and behavior. On this view, homosexual behavior is a choice and thus morally blameworthy.

Mere Links 02.18.14
Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 10:00 AM

Is Contraception the Hill We Want to Die On?
Austin Ruse, Crisis Magazine

Are free pills paid by tax dollars the purer “Catholic” position than making women pay for it themselves?

Federal judge strikes down Va. ban on gay marriage
Robert Barnes, Washington Post

A federal judge in Norfolk struck down as unconstitutional Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage Thursday night, saying the country has “arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.”

Why Privatizing Marriage Can’t Work
rancis J. Beckwith, The Catholic Thing

An important discussion is occurring among young Evangelicals over whether the government should even be in the marriage business.

In rare public split, Catholic bishops differ sharply on anti-gay laws
David Gibson, Religion News Service

The Roman Catholic hierarchy has generally been viewed as a unified bloc in opposition to gay rights, but the emergence of especially punitive measures against gays in various countries has opened unusually stark and public fissures among bishops in different nations.

Mere Links 02.17.14
Monday, February 17, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Presidential Bible Class
Tevi Troy, Wall Street Journal

Abraham Lincoln’s diligent reading of the Good Book informed the Gettysburg Address.

Grace and Reason According to St. Paul and St. Thomas
Eric M. Johnston, Homiletic and Pastoral Review

The world we live in is overwhelmingly irrational. Our popular discourse doesn’t make any sense at all. As Catholics, we need to understand what our faith teaches about this irrationality. We need to look to Scripture and tradition.

Belgium’s parliament votes through child euthanasia

Parliament in Belgium has passed a bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit, by 86 votes to 44, with 12 abstentions.

Politics, Art, and Love: A Lesson from Dante
Serena Sigillito, Public Discourse

Valentine’s Day is usually associated with romance, but love matters in politics, too. In working to change our culture, we must remember that our opponents, like our allies, are human beings whose individual conversions can only be wrought through a combination of love, truth, and free will.

Mere Links 02.14.14
Friday, February 14, 2014, 10:00 AM

National Marriage Week: Fight Poverty by Strengthening Marriage
Rachel Sheffield, The Foundry

What’s one of the best ways to ensure a child is protected from poverty? Marriage. As such, it also helps protect families from ending up on welfare.

How the West Won—but “Western Civ” Lost
Rodney Stark, Intercollegiate Review

It’s remarkably unfashionable to study—or even talk about—the West these days.

Labor exploitation threatens millions of African children
Charles Braddix, Baptist Press

Every day millions of children in Africa are at risk of being exploited, resulting in slave-like working conditions. Their childhood is forever lost.

Youth Rights: A Trojan Horse for the Left’s Sexual Agenda
Mary Hasson, The Federalist

Willing or not, today’s pediatrician is a field agent in the campaign for ‘youth rights,’ a global movement that insists children have the capacity—and the right—to make their own decisions about issues that concern them, particularly questions of sexual identity, sexual behavior, and reproductive health.

Mere Links 02.13.14
Thursday, February 13, 2014, 10:00 AM

Temptation Mysticism
Anthony Esolen, The Catholic Thing

Jesus never says, “Blessed are those who have plumbed the depths of sin, for they shall be as wise as serpents.” Jesus never recommends sin for spicing up the buffet. Jesus eats with sinners; he does not sin with sinners.

Evangelicals, Pop Culture, and Mass Culture
Dale M. Coulter, First Things

The issue of populism in the Evangelical ethos raises a concern for the need to differentiate between pop culture as folk culture and pop culture as mass culture.

Speech Near Abortion Mills at Stake in Court Case
Stephen Beale, Crisis Magazine

The free speech of pro-life Americans—particularly their ability to protest, offer counseling, or even hold silent prayer outside abortion clinics—is at stake in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term.

What is the Point of Religious Education?
Leroy Huizenga, Catholic World Report

The best education in the Faith is the practice of the Faith.

Mere Links 02.12.14
Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 10:00 AM

What’s Behind the UN Attack on the Church?
Anne Hendershott, Crisis Magazine

As faithful Catholics continue to contend with last week’s incendiary United Nations report attacking the Church for her teachings on contraception, abortion, and homosexuality, it may be time to look closely at the real agenda at the United Nations.

Marriage, Sex, and Politics
R.R. Reno, First Things

Prosecuting a culture war that powerful business interests either agree with or think irrelevant provides a point of unity and feel-good commitment that helps party leaders avoid divisive issues. That’s why same-sex marriage and all it represents has become so important in domestic politics today, or at least a significant part of the reason why.

Syrian Islamists Defecate in Church, Light Christian Man on Fire
Raheem Kassam, Breitbart

A new documentary short by the Journeyman.TV company operating out of the United Kingdom shows evidence of the targeting of Christians in Syria, and apparent fighting back in the north of the country.

Archbishop’s Presidential Address to the General Synod
Justin Welby

In his presidential address to Synod today, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of the need for “massive cultural change’ within the Church of England so that people can flourish together despite deeply held differences on issues such as sexuality and women bishops.

Mere Links 02.11.14
Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 10:00 AM

Cleansing the Court of the Gentiles
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

At the beginning of Holy Week, just after the celebration of Palm Sunday, the Church turns her attention to Jesus’ act of purging of the Temple.

Is the Vatican Violating Children’s Rights?
Mark Movsesian, First Things

Here is the latest evidence of the clash between contemporary human rights norms and traditional religions. Last week, the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child reported on the Vatican’s compliance with an international treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Methodists in crisis over gay marriage, church law
Associated Press

The dispute among United Methodists over recognition of same-sex couples has lapsed into a doctrinal donnybrook, pitting clergy who are presiding at gay weddings in defiance of church law against proponents of traditional marriage who are trying to stop them.

How religion in the US today tracks closely with geography
Brad Knickerbocker, The Christian Science Monitor

A bare majority of Americans still call themselves Protestant as other religions gain ground. But the millennial generation is more likely to reject any formal religion, and this could have political import.

Mere Links 02.10.14
Monday, February 10, 2014, 10:00 AM

Obama highlights religious freedom in National Prayer Breakfast speech
Sarah Pulliam Bailey , Religion News Service

Facing criticism that he does not give religious freedom enough attention, President Obama devoted most of his National Prayer Breakfast address to the issue, naming people imprisoned for their beliefs and calling out specific nations.

On Abortion Rates: Good News and Cause for Reflection
Richard M. Doerflinger, Public Discourse

American abortion rates are falling significantly. Although the Guttmacher Institute tries to hide the chief causes of this trend, cutting through the spin reveals that pro-life laws and attitudes help reduce the abortion rate and the abortion ratio.

Praise the Lord and pass the beer, change is brewing among American Christians
Brett McCracken, CNN

Something is brewing among American Protestants, and it has a decidedly hoppy flavor.

Pope Francis faces church divided over doctrine, global poll of Catholics finds
Michelle Boorstein and Peyton M. Craighill, Washington Post

Most Catholics worldwide disagree with church teachings on divorce, abortion and contraception and are split on whether women and married men should become priests, according to a large new poll released Sunday and commissioned by the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision. On the topic of gay marriage, two-thirds of Catholics polled agree with church leaders.

Mere Links 02.07.14
Friday, February 7, 2014, 10:00 AM

How Common Core Devalues Great Literature
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine

The Common Corers get things exactly backwards. You do not read The Wind in the Willows so that you can gain some utilitarian skill for handling “text.” If anything, we want our children to gain a little bit of linguistic maturity so that they can read The Wind in the Willows. That is the aim.

UN Attacks Catholic Teaching Under the Pretext of Protecting Children
Anne Hendershott, Crisis Magazine

In their continuing quest to marginalize the influence of the Catholic Church on the culture war issues of abortion and same-sex marriage, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is attempting to resurrect yet again the moral panic surrounding exaggerated claims of clerical sexual abuse.

A Catholic Showdown Worth Watching
Patrick J. Deneen, The American Conservative

The real battle is taking place beyond the purview of the pages of Time Magazine and the New York Times. The battle pits two camps of “conservative” Catholicism.

Why Extreme Poverty Will Not Always Be with Us
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

There are many reasons to be hopeful that we will stamp out extreme poverty in our lifetimes – and this is the first time in human history that we have been able to make this claim. Once we stamp out extreme poverty, then we can focus on how to bring about ever-increasing levels of flourishing for the least advantaged across the world.

Mere Links 02.06.14
Thursday, February 6, 2014, 10:00 AM

Tomb & Temple
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

The death of Jesus was no mere appearance; he really died. His soul and body were truly rent asunder.

Christians and Circumcision
Mark Movsesian, First Things

Even if Christians reject ritual circumcision for themselves on theological grounds, they can still object in good faith to proposals that the state ban it for others.

We Can’t All Be Beautiful
Karen Swallow Prior, Christianity Today

Why does our obsession with self-acceptance focus so much on appearance?

U.N. Overreaches, Tramples Religious Freedom
Marco Rubio, National Review

The U.N. is in very real danger of becoming obsolete in the 21st century. I believe it can still play an important role in global affairs, but without reforms to ensure greater accountability and transparency, its ineffective leadership, ethical abuses, and misspending will remain rampant.

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