Mere Links 05.22.14
Thursday, May 22, 2014, 10:00 AM

U.S. Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania Law Barring Gay Marriage
Reuters

A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday in the latest court decision extending the rights of matrimony to gay and lesbian couples in the United States.

House Passes Bills Aimed at Stemming Human Trafficking
Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

The House on Tuesday passed a package of bills aimed at stemming human trafficking, an issue that has slowly begun to gain national attention.

Americans lie about how much they go to church, even if they don’t belong to one
Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

Less than one-third of phone respondents (30 percent) admitted to attending religious services seldom or never. But online, freed from the normative pressures of interacting with another human being, 43 percent of respondents said they seldom or never went to church. Similarly, online respondents were less likely to say they went to church weekly or occasionally than were phone respondents.

Why Harvard Was Right Not to Ban the Black Mass
Robert T. Miller, Public Discourse

A policy that disempowers university officials from prohibiting student events on the basis of the viewpoint they express demonstrates institutional genius.



Mere Links 05.21.14
Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 10:00 AM

Why Doesn’t the New Testament Condemn Slavery?
Phil Moore, Think Theology

Most of us aren’t surprised that Christians led the fight against slavery in the early nineteenth century. We aren’t surprised that Christians still lead the fight against human trafficking today. What is surprising, however, is that Paul tells the slaves at Ephesus to submit to their masters instead of helping the slaves to throw off their chains.

The Ethics of Jayber Crow
Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy

In The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry Anthony Esolen notes that Berry’s longest Port William novel, Jayber Crow, is in many ways a modern day retelling of Dante.

Life on the Academic Animal Farm
Robert Oscar Lopez, Public Discourse

Dehumanizing others through censorship does not befit the academy, but the pigpen.

After 11 years, states are finally committing to fight prison rape
Dara Lind, Vox

Back in 2003, Congress unanimously passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act — a bill to address a problem that, at the time, was little understood. But after that… nothing much seemed to happen for a while.



Mere Links 05.20.14
Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Necessary Gospel in the Old Testament
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

When the New Testament uses the expression “Scriptures,” it normally refers to the Old Testament. The earliest Christian preaching appealed to that body of literature as a necessary component in the Gospel itself.

The Future of Catholicism
R.R. Reno, First Things

I know it rankles, but I’m afraid it’s a fact, one we need to acknowledge if we’re to think clearly about our ecumenical commitments. Protestantism doesn’t figure in the way Catholics think about the future of Catholicism.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Oregon’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
Kirk Johnson, New York Times

In addition to Oregon, judges in seven states — Arkansas, Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia — have had their laws or constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage struck down in recent months.

Sudanese Woman Sentenced to Death After Marrying Christian
Barbara Tasch, Time

A pregnant 27-year-old Sudanese woman was sentenced to death by hanging Thursday for apostasy after marrying a Christian man and refusing to convert to Islam. Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag also faces charges of adultery.



MereLinks 05.19.14
Monday, May 19, 2014, 10:00 AM

Please, Leave the Hagia Sophia Along
Wesley J. Smith, First Things

Turkey’s Islamist government threatens to destroy Hagia Sophia’s crucial “neutral” status. ANSAmed reports that the government plans to turn the former basilica into a mosque in the afternoon and evening, while allowing it to remain a museum during morning hours.

In Defence of War: A Reflection
Matthew Lee Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy

In Defence of War is thoroughly researched, clearly and elegantly written, and masterfully argued. The task I have been given of responding is therefore harder than it might seem.

The 8 worst places in the world to be religious
Daniel Burke, CNN

Among the most worrying trends, according to the State Department, are “authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens’ ability to practice their religion.”

Church Planting Among the Urban Poor
Efrem Smith, Christianity Today

Some of the worst communities in our American cities have churches on every corner.



Mere Links 05.16.14
Friday, May 16, 2014, 10:00 AM

Stamp Your Feet!
Anthony Esolen , The Catholic Thing

I’ve been following with some bemusement the interchanges between Cardinal Mueller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). For readers unaware of the developments, I’ll present them here in abbreviated form.

Dropouts and Disciples: How many students are really leaving the church?
Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today

Are students leaving the church in droves? What can we do to stop the bleeding?

Premature Talk of Surrender on Same-Sex Marriage
Carson Holloway, Public Discourse

As a matter of principle, the American right cannot, because of its character and mission, stop making the case for a normative conception of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Sudan judge sentences Christian woman to death
Sydney Morning Herald

A Sudanese judge on Thursday sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, despite appeals by Western embassies for compassion and respect for religious freedom.



Mere Links 05.15.14
Thursday, May 15, 2014, 10:00 AM

Obedience and the Christian Life
Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine

There is no way around it: the Christian’s life is to be one of obedience. “Let him who has ears to hear, hear,” says Jesus. That does not mean that we are beholden only to God, under our own understanding of who God is and what He wants from us.

Religious Persecution: Our Silence is Deafening
Ken Connor, Christian Post

The recent kidnappings in Nigeria by the Islamic militant group Boka Haram has cast the issue of religious persecution – of Christians in particular – into the spotlight, and begs the question: Why have American Christians been so silent on the subject of religious persecution of their spiritual brethren around the world?

Baptists, Just Without the Baptisms
Emma Green, The Atlantic

A task force of Southern Baptist ministers reports its finding on the sect’s declining rate of dunkings, saying, “We have a spiritual problem.”

Jesus Would not Coexist
Karl C. Schaffenburg, The Living Church

Why would a Christian hesitate to display this sticker during a daily commute? We may begin with how philosophy — that supposedly esoteric pursuit — matters in our everyday lives. A fundamental rule of logic is the “law of noncontradiction”: a statement cannot be both true and untrue.



Mere Links 05.14.14
Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 10:00 AM

Patriarch says he will discuss Middle East Christians with pope
Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service

When Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople meets Pope Francis in Jerusalem May 25, one of their main discussion topics will be the “diminishing Christian minorities in the Middle East,” the patriarch told Catholic News Service.

Why Latinos Are Leaving the Church
Anna Sutherland, First Things

Even as an increasing share of U.S. Catholics are Latino, Catholics account for a declining share of the country’s Latinos. Roughly one-third of Catholic adults in the U.S. are Latino, but just over half (55 percent) of Latino adults here are Catholics. As recently as 2010, that figure stood at two-thirds.

Surrogate motherhood creates an ethical minefield
Margaret Somerville, Mercatornet

A gay couple’s government-funded IVF twins have created a storm of controversy in Canada.

The Church Needs More Tattoos
Russell D. Moore, Moore to the Point

I don’t like tattoos, and I can’t emphasize that enough (especially if you’re one of my children, one day, reading this). But if the Spirit starts moving with velocity in this country, our churches will see more people in our pews and in our pulpits with tattoos.



Mere Links 05.13.14
Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 10:00 AM

Abortion, Slavery, and Constitutional Meaning
Nathaniel Peters, Public Discourse

Abolitionism provides the example for how to fight for a cause: underscore the humanity of those whose humanity is denied, provide compassionate care for those affected, name the lies that dehumanize and kill, and tirelessly argue for the truth about “who counts.”

Harvard’s ‘black Mass’ angers Catholics
Daniel Burke, CNN

A Harvard club’s plans to stage a satanic “black Mass” on Monday has drawn fire and brimstone from the Archdiocese of Boston, which is asking the Ivy League college to disassociate itself from the event.

Taking the Islamic Challenge Seriously
William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine

When Muslims commit acts of terror, it is standard operating procedure for some authority or other to assure the populace that “this has nothing to do with Islam.”

‘Hallowed Be Your Name’: Why Prayer Can Never Simply be Private
Matthew Anslow, ABC Religion and Ethics

My contention is that prayer should not to be viewed in a reductive way that sees it primarily in instrumental terms as a petitionary means to seek a desired outcome. While petition is indeed a component of prayer, at least as Jews and Christians understand it, it is not in the crude cause-and-effect sense assumed by most detractors of religious devotion.



Mere Links 05.12.14
Monday, May 12, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Danger of Disregarding Natural Law in Orthodox Christian Theology
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

Popular morality in current American culture is heavily in debt to both the Nominalism of the Late Middle Ages and the Voluntarism of the Enlightenment. Since I regard this debt as deplorable, it might be good to begin with a brief explanation of these terms.

To My Fellow Millennials: Christian Persecution is a Social Justice Issue
Chelsen Vicari , Christian Post

Among Millennials, the term “persecution” is a dirty word when applied to Christians. Society continues to paint Christians as “clamoring and crying” over nothing when we decry discrimination targeted our way.

Boko Haram and the Kidnapped Schoolgirls
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wall Street Journal

The Nigerian terror group reflects the general Islamist hatred of women’s rights. When will the West wake up?

The Dignity of Chickens and the Character of God
Joe Carter, Acton Institute

If a poll were taken on the question of which group has the most care and concern for the welfare of animals, Christians—whether Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical, etc.—would invariably be near the bottom of the list. How did we lose our status as stewards of creation?



Mere Links 05.09.14
Friday, May 9, 2014, 10:00 AM

American Christians Pledge Solidarity with Persecuted Christians in Egypt, Iraq and Syria
Nina Shea, The Christian Post

On Wednesday, May 7, history is being made. On behalf of the suffering churches of Egypt, Iraq and Syria, a broad array of American Christians, with a degree of unity rarely seen since the Council of Nicaea in 325, have joined together in a “pledge of solidarity and call to action.”

Evangelicals and Catholics Together marks 20 years
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

When evangelicals and Catholics set aside centuries of mutual suspicion 20 years ago, the idea was fairly simple: Even if we can’t always work together, at least let’s not work against each other.

Margaret Sanger, racist eugenicist extraordinaire
Arina Grossu, Washington Times

Recent articles have reported on an unearthed video from 1947 of Margaret Sanger demanding “no more babies” for 10 years in developing countries.

Vatican Publicly Rebukes Dissenting Nuns
Anne Hendershott, Crisis Magazine

Like recalcitrant teenagers, taunting their teachers with their latest refusal to submit to authority, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious—an organization that represents more than 80 percent of the more than 50,000 Catholic women religious in the United States—has finally been publicly rebuked by the Vatican.


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