Mere Links 12.03.14
Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 10:00 AM

What the Holy Spirit Preserves Only in the Church
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church is not only original, unique, and exclusive, it is also permanent. This gift is as irrevocable as the Incarnation itself. Much as the event of the Word’s enfleshment irrevocably links the Second Person of the Holy Trinity to the human race, the event of Pentecost joins the Third Person of the Holy Trinity permanently to the Church. Both conjunctions are irreversible.

More Pastors Embrace Talk of Mental Ills
Jan Hoffman, New York Times

Evangelical leaders are increasingly opening up about family suicides, their own clinical depression and the relief they have received from psychiatric medication.

Church of England could select first woman bishop
BBC

The first woman bishop in the Church of England could be selected this week. Candidates for bishop of Southwell and Nottingham are being interviewed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

1 in 3 Americans want a divorce between clergy and civil marriages
Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service

Should clergy divorce themselves from civil marriage? Such a church-state split — already endorsed by some Catholic and evangelical leaders — is showing surprising popularity in two new surveys released Tuesday by LifeWay Research.



Mere Links 12.02.14
Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Farce of Feeling Forgiveness
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

It may be the case that we have heard the plainest words of Holy Scripture so often that we no longer really hear them.

Francis rolls out ‘social gospel’ case for Catholic/Orthodox unity
John L. Allen Jr., Crux

Sometimes what a pope doesn’t say can be just as important as what he does, and such was the case in Turkey on Sunday as Pope Francis laid out his vision for unity between Catholics and Orthodox Christianity.

Prayer in the Facebook Age
Mark Bauerlein, First Things

We are in danger of losing these replenishing, corrective moments of solitary faith. Silence and seclusion are harder to find, and fewer people seek them out.

Ecumenism After 50 Years
Timothy George, First Things

In retrospect it is clear that the Second Vatican Council was the most momentous religious event of the twentieth century—and not only for Catholics.



High School Senior Sues Government School
Monday, December 1, 2014, 10:38 AM

I hope that my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that many were able to worship God and give thanks for His gracious bounty and innumerable blessings on our nation.  This past weekend, I was speaking with some of the younger children in church, and they told me that in their government schools they were not taught the history of Thanksgiving.  While we know little about the first Thanksgiving that the Pilgrims celebrated in Plymouth, we do know that it took place in 1621 after the autumn harvest.  William Bradford, the governor of the colony wrote that after a “sad and lamentable” first months that brought great sickness and many deaths to the colonists, the first harvest left them with “all things in good plenty,” including corn, cod, bass, and other fish, waterfowl, venison, and a “great store of wild turkeys.”  The Pilgrims also celebrated with their Indian neighbors.  Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrims, wrote the following in his letter dated December 11, 1621:

. . . after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; [four fowlers] in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

Emphasis added.  Of course, the “God” part of Thanksgiving is troubling to many in our nation.  As one more recent example of the hostility against Christians in our nation, and particularly in the government-run schools, Michael Leal, a devout Christian believer and a senior at Cascade High School in Everett, Washington, is in danger of being expelled.  What was the grave infraction?  He believes that he has a God-given responsibility to share his Christian beliefs with others.  As a result, Michael has been suspended three times, and has been threatened with expulsion for sharing his Christian faith through printed tracts and his own testimony.  However, high school officials have claimed that Michael’s tracts, such as one called “How to Know God,” and other Christian messages, “may be offensive.”  Moreover, the high school only permits students to distribute “literature” to other students only at the school entrances and exits before and after school, and the literature must be written by a student.  (I suppose Michael couldn’t distribute a copy of the Constitution either, but I digress.)  Subversively, Michael has distributed Gospel tracts to fellow students, and has audaciously engaged others in conversation about his Christian faith during lunch.  Imagine this: Michael has also spoken about his faith at a bonfire for the school, at a school open house, and yes, even at a volleyball game.

In response to Michael’s grave affronts, the high school administration issued a Notice of Disciplinary Action (“NDA”) that charged Michael with “boisterous conduct of religious material impinged on rights of other students and failure to comply with multiple administrative requests to stop activity.”  (Of course, high school administrators might want to brush up a bit on writing narrative English-language sentences.)  Yet, one NDA was not enough and there were additional NDAs that ultimately led to a series of suspensions.

As is common now, a lawsuit by Michael was filed last week against the high school district, and his complaint names as additional defendants Superintendent Gary Cohn, high school principal Cathy Woods, and the assistant principals Robert Aguilar and Laura Phillips.  In Michael’s complaint, he alleges that the principal Woods:

instructed [Michael] that she must give him permission to hand out tracts, and further that she needed to monitor him.  She attempted to justify her position by stating that if she allowed [Michael] to “hand out tracts and to talk about Jesus she would be breaking the law.”  Attempting to understand the principal’s position clearly, Leal asked to confirm that “if you allow me to hand out tracts and to talk about Jesus, then you would be breaking the law?”  [Cascade Principal Cathy Woods’] response was an unqualified “yes.”

Michael’s complaint concludes:

[The defendants] have prohibited him from distributing literature outside of the narrow confines [of a policy rule], even when performed during non-instructional time and in a non-disruptive manner.  Further, they have meted out punishment against [Michael] for exercising his speech rights.

As we know from the teachings of St. Paul, yes, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus and the Cross of Christ are deeply offensive to those who perish.  Michael Leal is being represented by attorneys for the non-profit Pacific Justice Institute (www.pacificjustice.org).  Please pray for Michael and his family, and his attorneys, during this trying time, but above all, please pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will be honored and magnified.  Michael, notwithstanding his youth, powerfully echoes the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”  Christians know that the Holy Gospel stirs up devils and provokes evil persons for those who hate the Gospel’s powerful message of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ are enemies of the cross.  If you wish to send a polite email to Principal Woods, you can find her at cwoods2@everettsd.org.  I am sure she would enjoy hearing from you.



Mere Links 12.01.14
Monday, December 1, 2014, 10:00 AM

Connecting Religious and Economic Liberty
Dylan Pahman, Public Discourse

New data suggest that countries that value and protect religious liberty offer fertile soil for economic liberty to flourish.

The Origins of Aggressive Atheism
Emma Green, The Atlantic

Non-believers are often marginalized in the U.S., which had led to a lot of resentment among their ranks. But don’t be deceived: For most Americans, lack of religion usually comes with a shrug, not a shout.

Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?
Dennis Bonnette, Crisis Magazine

Pure myth! That is today’s typical view of a literal Adam and Eve. Yet, contrary to current skepticism, a real Adam and Eve remain credible—both in terms of Catholic doctrine and sound natural science.

Study: Half of Americans, Majority of White Evangelicals Believe Natural Disasters Are Rising Due to ‘End Times’ Not Climate Change
Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post

Nearly half of Americans now believe that the recent surge in natural disasters is the result of biblical “End Times” than climate change, and more than two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants hold this belief, according to a new study.



The Nature of Beauty and Sacred Art – Part Two
Saturday, November 29, 2014, 12:00 PM

David Clayton, professor at Saint Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH, discusses the art of the Baroque and the Counter-Reformation. Part Two of Two.



Mere Links 11.26.14
Wednesday, November 26, 2014, 10:00 AM

Galloping Toward Gomorrah
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

What’s significant is not that this deranged behavior happens. It has no doubt always been with us. What’s significant is that this interview appears in a mainstream magazine.

Evangelism is central to being the people of God, says Archbishop Justin
Archbishop of Canterbury

Don’t wait to share Jesus with others, the Archbishop of Canterbury tells Church Army annual meeting.

How the Sensitivity Movement Desensitized Catholics to Evil
William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine

Remember bell-bottoms, beads, and tie-dyed shirts? Remember encounter groups, Esalen, and trust falls? Remember “self-esteem,” “risk-taking,” “self-awareness” and the other clichés that were born with the human potential movement?

Supper Is Served: Reflections on the Temple as a Liturgical Paradigm
William Simpson, The Imaginative Conservative

In this divine economy, the role of the temple with its sacrifices was of central significance. Perhaps a rough analogy for moderns might be one that I heard in Jerusalem using the vehicle of a ‘WiFi network’: Without a correctly functioning router (temple) with a strong radio signal (God’s presence in the community) there could be no viable connection (faith and ritual) for the devices (worshipers) to hook up to the internet (God’s life and power) and communicate with each other (religious fellowship).



Please Pray for the Wunderlich Family of Germany
Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 10:11 AM

Wunderlich custody 8 28 2014 hiking B CROPPED LOW RES 300x172 Please Pray for the Wunderlich Family of GermanyOn these pages, I have written a number of blogs over the past several years about the travails of the Wunderlich family of Darmstadt, Germany.  Dirk and Petra Wunderlich are devout Christian believers and the parents of four children, aged 8 to 15.  In August 2013, the children were taken forcibly from their home by a SWAT team of twenty police, special agents, and social workers as the children began their morning home school classes.  Were the children being abused?  Actually, the children were taken into custody because their parents insisted on homeschooling their children, which is illegal under German law.  Following an international outcry, a Darmstadt court returned the Wunderlich children to their parents, but only on the condition that the parents promise to send the children to a government school.  The parents complied with the court’s order.  The parents were granted guardianship of their children, but not legal custody.  But rather than disappearing into the night by crossing German borders, the Wunderlichs petitioned the court for permission to emigrate from Germany to another country where homeschooling is permitted.  However, in late 2013, the Honorable Judge Malkmus slammed the door on the emigration hopes of the Wunderlich family.  Judge Malkmus stated that it was necessary to keep the Wunderlich children in German government schools to ensure that they were integrated into society.  If they were allowed to be homeschooled in Germany or anywhere else, the Judge reasoned, the consequences might be that “the children would grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue who those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.”  Finally, Judge Malkmus concluded that homeschooling creates “concrete endangerment to the well-being of the child.”  (Of course, the Honorable Judge failed to cite any evidence before the court in support of his conclusions.  Judge Malkmus’s written orders are available here in an unofficial English translation, and in the official German-language version here).

But now, in the German legal tradition in which more prosecution, more force, and more penalties and fines is the most effective strategy to force the Wunderlich family to submit to the uber-will of Leviathan.  After the children were originally taken into custody in August 2013, the children were sent to government schools for a time.  Although the children were unhappy in their secular government school, there were no further issues until March 2014 when a new lawyer began to represent the local school board.  In a likely effort to ingratiate himself with the local government officials, the new lawyer sent a “notice of enforcement” requiring the Wunderlich children to attend particular classes.  Shortly thereafter, the school board attorney followed with a “demand for prosecution,” which provided for a six month prison sentence for the feisty parents.  In response to the ham-fisted and authoritarian conduct by the school board attorney, the Wunderlichs deregistered the children from the government school, and brought them back home for their education.  By failing to comply with the “notice of enforcement,” the German government can now assess penalties and fines of up to 50,000 Euros (almost $68,000) against the Wunderlich family, as well as seizure of the family’s bank account and other assets.  Michael Donnelly, director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association (http://www.hslda.org/), who has been involved with the Wunderlich case from its beginning, stated recently:

The Wunderlich family are currently homeschooling after having won back custody of their children but there is little doubt that authorities there will resume criminal and civil prosecution of the family.  Authorities recently seized their bank account and are threatening the financial well-being of their family as a result of excessive and, in my view, unlawful costs levied against them in their custody case.  German authorities generally and in this locality in particular remain quite hostile to home education.  There are some who have written in the German press, such as Professor Franz Reimer at the University of Giessen, in support of homeschooling.  However, until state legislators change the laws homeschoolers will continue to be threatened and persecuted unjustly.  Situations like the Wunderlich family in Germany . . . demonstrate an alarming disrespect for the basic and fundamental rights of parents and families to be secure in their homes and in their authority to make decisions that are best for their children.  Homeschooling is recognized as a legal alternative in virtually every western and free country.  Even in countries like China where homeschooling is not legal, families are not persecuted as they are in Germany.

Emphasis added.  The anti-homeschool law in Germany was part of Adolf Hitler’s notion of government schools as a means of indoctrination.  The Fuhrer famously said, “[The] new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”  In 2003, the German Federal Constitutional Court (equivalent to our nation’s Supreme Court) affirmed that the ban on homeschooling serves “a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies.’”  Four years later, the German Federal Parliament changed a provision of Germany’s child protection law making it easier for children to be removed from their parents upon allegations of “educational neglect.”  So now, the official policy of the German government endorses the Fuhrer’s view of homeschooling.  Please continue to pray for the Wunderlich family and for justice in this important case.  If you wish to write to the German Ambassador to the United States regarding this matter, you can reach His Excellency, the Honorable Peter Wittig at https://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/Kontakt.html.  I certainly will let him know my views on this sad matter.



Mere Links 11.25.14
Tuesday, November 25, 2014, 10:00 AM

Why the Crackdown? Christians Now Outnumber Communists in China
Steven W. Mosher, Aleteia

China’s Communist government has been on an anti-Christian rampage of late, tearing down churches in the coastal city of Wenzhou and elsewhere, arresting underground bishops and home church leaders, and illicitly ordaining pliant priests as Catholic “bishops.“ But underneath this escalating campaign of repression – in fact, the reason for it – is a rapidly growing population of Christians.

Six new Catholic saints at a glance
Associated Press

Pope Francis on Sunday canonized six new saints, two Indians and four Italians, all of whom dedicated their lives to helping the poor.

The State of Theology: Heaven? Yes! Hell, No.
Stephen Nichols, Ligonier Ministries

For all the bluster of atheists, and the rush towards secularization that we see swirling around us, most Americans are reluctant to give up belief in the afterlife and in the eternal destinations of heaven and hell.

Why Gender Matters for Christian Stewardship
Joseph Sunde, Acton Institute

Christians believe that all humans are created in the image of God, a notion that shapes our understanding of human dignity and transforms our view of human destiny.



Mere Links 11.24.14
Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:00 AM

Christian Inmate Suing Indiana To Recognize Religion
Daniel Silliman, Religion Dispatches

An Eastern Orthodox prison inmate won a small but important victory in his legal fight to have the Indiana Department of Corrections recognize his religion.

Churches and Obama’s Executive Amnesty
Mark Tooley, First Things

That U.S. immigration policy should be based on several Scripture passages simply urging kindness to strangers was a dubious claim but one that supposedly would mobilize millions of Evangelicals to compel the Republican House of Representatives to approve the Democratic Senate’s legislation for mass legalization.

Rick Warren at the Vatican: “We’re More Effective and Better Together Than We Are Apart”
Diana Montagna, Aleteia

Saddleback Church founder speaks at conference on man-woman complementarity.

7 Ways Christian Academics Can Be Truly Christian
Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition

As a pastor and just as an intellectually curious sort of chap, I want Christian academics to flourish. I also want these Christian scholars to be thoroughly Christian.



St Cecilia
Sunday, November 23, 2014, 7:00 AM

In honor of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music.

“Virgin and martyr, patroness of church music, died at Rome.

This saint, so often glorified in the fine arts and in poetry, is one of the most venerated martyrs of Christian antiquity. The oldest historical account of St. Cecilia is found in the “Martyrologium Hieronymianum”; from this it is evident that her feast was celebrated in the Roman Church in the fourth century.”


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