Mere Links 10.01.14
Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 10:00 AM

What Does Liberty Really Mean for Christians?
Jim Tonkowich, Juicy Ecumenism

Both people on the right and people on the left “alike seem confused about what liberty and progress really mean and require,” writes Ethics and Public Policy scholar, Yuval Levin in the October First Things.

The Cult Deficit
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Like most children of the Reagan era, I grew up with a steady diet of media warnings about the perils of religious cults — the gurus who lurked in wait for the unwary and confused, offering absolute certainty with the aftertaste of poisoned Kool-Aid.

The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil
Camille Paglia, Time

Young women today do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature.

How Serious Is the Supreme Court About Religious Freedom?
Dawinder S. Sidhu, The Atlantic

A new case will test whether the justices’ defense of conscience in Hobby Lobby applies to minority religions like Muslims, or just to Christians.

Mere Links 09.30.14
Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 10:00 AM

Marriage Is Not a Water Fountain
Anthony Esolen, Public Discourse

Segregation was based on irrational, peculiar prejudice. By contrast, protecting marriage between one man and one woman is based on universal truths about our human nature.

Demons Believe and Tremble before the Real Presence
Msgr. Charles Pope, Aleteia

A reflection on the theft of the eucharist by satanists.

Many religions heavily concentrated in one or two countries
Conrad Hackett and Joseph Naylor, Pew Research Center

While Christians and Muslims are more widely distributed around the world, the other groups have a majority of their populations in just one or two nations, according to 2010 estimates from our Global Religious Landscape report.

5 Reasons Your Church Should Care about Hunger
Jill Waggoner, Pastors Today

For many Christians, the concept of hunger ministry brings to mind a governmental agency or a local food pantry. Yet the hunger need around the world is diverse and the ministries required to meet these needs will be also.

September 30 – St. Jerome
Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 7:00 AM

“Jerome (in Latin, Eusebius Hieronymus) was one of the most important scholars of the early Christian Church. His translation of the Bible into Latin would become the standard edition throughout the Middle Ages, and his viewpoints on monasticism would be influential over the centuries. (more…)


“Ecclesiastical rank does not make a man a Christian. The centurion Cornelius was still a heathen when he was cleansed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Daniel was but a child when he judged the elders. Amos was plucking blackberries when in a moment he was made a prophet. David was only a shepherd when he was chosen to be king. The least of his disciples was the one whom Jesus loved most. My brother, sit down in the lower place… ”

St. Jerome, Letter 14 to To Heliodorus, a Monk


Mere Links 09.29.14
Monday, September 29, 2014, 10:00 AM

Father’s education level strongest factor in child’s success at school – study
Richard Adams, The Guardian

Children seven and a half times less likely to succeed if father failed to achieve, with mother’s education a lesser factor.

Religion, marriage increase life expectancy, study finds
Nancy Frazier O’Brien, Catholic News ServiceStudy

Study after study has confirmed that those who are involved in religion and those who are married are healthier, physically and mentally happier and live longer than those who are not.

Incest a ‘fundamental right’, German committee says
Justin Huggler, Telegraph

Anti-incest laws in Germany could be scraped after a government-backed group said relationships between brothers and sisters should be legal.

What’s Lost in Not Recognizing Campus Religious Groups
Karen Swallow Prior, The Atlantic

California State University’s recent decision to strip InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapters of their school affiliation undermines its ability to teach pluralism.

Sept 29 – Feast of the Archangels
Sunday, September 28, 2014, 7:00 AM

“The liturgy celebrates the feast of these three archangels who are venerated in the tradition of the Church. Michael (Who is like God?) was the archangel who fought against Satan and all his evil angels, defending all the friends of God. He is the protector of all humanity from the snares of the devil. Gabriel (Strength of God) announced to Zachariah the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary, the birth of Jesus. His greeting to the Virgin, “Hail, full of grace,” is one of the most familiar and frequent prayers of the Christian people. Raphael (Medicine of God) is the archangel who took care of Tobias on his journey.”


(Alas, I can’t translate Han Chinese, but the words in English follow: ~gm)

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!

Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!

Thou bearer of th’eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Please Pray for the Church in Greece
Saturday, September 27, 2014, 1:09 PM

Greek Hierarchs: The State Has Deceived the Church

St. Demetrios church 300x201 Please Pray for the Church in GreeceBad news from Greece:

“For the first time in the modern history of Greece, a law has been passed that abolishes freedom of expression and introduces legal liability for an accusatory speech, which is one of the main components of pastoral practice… At the same time, the judicial and legal protection of homosexual orientation, which is a perversion of the human nature and physiology, was introduced.

“The enacted law contradicts many clauses of the Greek Constitution…”

~ Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus

“In Metropolitan Seraphim’s view, after adoption of the new law, the Church of Greece will be obligated to abolish the Committee on Heresies of the Holy Synod; since, for calling someone a heretic one may face persecution for ‘fomenting religious strife.’

Also making statements in a similar vein is one of the most authoritative hierarchs of the Church of Greece from Thessaloniki, Metropolitan Anthimos, who said, ‘We are against an expansion of Islam in our city.’ In his interview with Greek television, made a number of tough statements:

‘We are against the presence of Islam in Thessaloniki. We have already lost so much… When the Turkish minister entered the Church of Holy Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessaloniki in our city, he announced at once: ‘Here is a suitable mosque for Turks.’”

c/o Jerusalem Channel TV

Sacred Music – Part One
Saturday, September 27, 2014, 9:42 AM

The first of a four-part series on Sacred Music presented by the BBC.

Mere Links 09.26.14
Friday, September 26, 2014, 10:00 AM

Will Catholic Teaching on Marriage Change
Gerhard Cardinal Müller, First Things

The following is an excerpt from The Hope of the Family, a booklength interview with Gerhard Cardinal Müller, forthcoming from Ignatius Press.

When Catholic schools close, poor communities suffer (and crime goes up)
Michael McShane, AEI Ideas

For decades, research on Catholic schools has almost exclusively examined their academic effects. It has been conducted by social science luminaries like James Coleman and Tony Bryk and scales have almost universally tipped in the favor of Catholic schools, particularly when they are compared to traditional public schools in the neighborhood they often inhabit.

Breaking the Silence: Redefining Marriage Hurts Women Like Me – and Our Children
Janna Darnelle, Public Discourse

The push to present a positive image of same-sex families has hidden the devastation on which many are built. We must stand for marriage—and for the precious lives that marriage creates.

Inmate sues prison for not allowing him to worship Satan
Associated Press

A state prison inmate says New Mexico correction officials aren’t allowing him to practice his religion and properly worship Satan behind bars.

Mere Links 09.25.14
Thursday, September 25, 2014, 10:00 AM

Faithful Unto Death
Timothy George, First Things

We do not know exactly when the Christian faith first came to Smyrna. Most likely it was through the preaching of the Apostle Paul during his two-year ministry in Ephesus. Polycarp never knew Paul, but he did know his writings and quoted them often.

The Selfishness of ‘Free Love’
Pete Jermann, The Imaginative Conservative

To an alien traveler just sauntered in from a far distant part of the universe, it would be quite clear that our two speakers above were not talking about the same thing. In fact, it would be quite reasonable for our peripatetic alien to believe that Mr. Lightfoot and St. Paul were talking about two completely opposite things.

Is Divorce Equivalent to Homosexuality?
Russell Moore, Moore to the Point

Couples divorce, sometimes remarry others, and yet are welcomed within the congregation. We don’t necessarily affirm this as good, but we receive these people with mercy and grace. Why not, the argument goes, do the same with homosexuality.

The Family, A Seedbed of Vocations
Arland K. Nichols, Crisis Magazine

Above all else, it is the family that must manifest a fervent commitment to creating and fostering a culture of vocation. This commitment begins in the home and extends and radiates outward impacting the various small communities in which families are involved—parishes, clubs, and schools, for example.

Please Pray for Persecuted Christians in Ukraine
Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 11:40 AM

Foreign policy attention for most Americans has now shifted away from Russian disruptions in Ukraine.  But the threats from Russian president Putin’s aggression continue.  The Russian military tests and probes air defenses in Alaska, as well as those of other nations, as the attention of Americans has shifted to events in Iraq and Syria.  However, in Ukraine, the situation continues to be deeply troubling, and particularly so for evangelical Christian believers who face persecution and martyrdom.  On September 18, 2014, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress in Washington.  In his speech, Mr. Poroshenko declared Ukraine’s right to self-defense and territorial integrity, and asked the United States to provide military aid and ongoing political support.  His speech concluded with a standing ovation from American lawmakers.  (Some of my readers may remember that on December 5, 1994, the United States and Great Britain made commitments to protect Ukraine from Russian aggression in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons under The Budapest Memorandum of Security Assurances.)  After President Poroshenko’s address to Congress, the United States announced an additional $53 million in economic aid to Ukraine, which is, of course, petty cash compared to what United States taxpayers have given, for example, in foreign aid to Hamas in Gaza.

Ukraine’s evangelical Christians today carry a heavy burden from the country’s conflict with pro-Russian separatists and their Russian allies.  As one example, Vladimir and Elena Velichko, and their eight children ages 2 to 16, lived in one of the towns attacked by pro-Russian separatists.  Vladimir was an evangelical church leader, but as a result of the fighting, Vladimir sent his wife and children to another city for safety.  Elena said, “He took us to the train station, and we said goodbye.  He said, ‘I love you.’  He kissed me and kissed the children, and left.”  On June 8, 2014, their church was half empty as many parishioners had left the city because of the fighting.  But when church services ended, a number of church leaders were kidnapped.  Elena said, “The church called and said that my husband, along with three other believers, had been taken by men who were waiting outside the church.”  A church deacon who was present at church that morning, Alexander Gayvoronski, said, “The men wore masks and had machine guns.  They told the four Christian men to get into their cars.”  The men were later found shot multiple times, and Elena’s husband was burned in an abandoned car.  Elena powerfully said, “I don’t hate my husband’s killers.  It is easy to start asking questions.  Why did this happen?  But if I keep thinking about this it will only wear me out.”  That same day, pro-Russian separatists burned down a furniture factory that belonged to other evangelical Christians in that town.  It was clear that the pro-Russian separatists were targeting the city’s evangelical community.  Sergey Demidovich, an evangelical leader in Eastern Ukraine, said Ukrainian Christians face constant threat.  Demidovich said, “I never thought in the 21st century, in [a] free country as Ukraine, it was possible to experience this level of persecution.  The separatists saw Protestant Christians as enemies.  They viewed us as cults.  All the Protestant churches in the city were either taken over by rebels or forced to close.  We were forbidden to meet for services, and the leadership forced to leave or be under risk of arrest.”

Many evangelicals in Ukraine believe that the persecution is linked to pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church.  Anatoly, an evangelical pastor from Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, said, “When I was in prison, a rebel soldier told me they have an order to kill all the Christian pastors who are not part of the Russian Orthodox Church.”  Perhaps that is so or not, but it is not an uncommon perception in light of the fact that great persecution against evangelical Christians took place during the Soviet era, when such persecution was often aided by Orthodox clergy and prelates.  And yet today, media reports indicate that only four percent of Russia’s self-identified Orthodox Christians attend church regularly, and Russia has among the highest rates of abortion, divorce, prostitution and corruption in the world.

Importantly, Elena only asks from us prayers for her and for her eight young children.  Today, there are thousands of refugees and other affected families in Ukraine.  With winter approaching, it is vital that we pray for our brothers and sisters as we seek to do all that we can to help, even as the eyes of the world have now turned elsewhere.  I encourage you and your churches to pray for the Ukrainian Christians, both Orthodox and evangelical, that they will seize every opportunity for presenting the Holy Gospel.  The crisis in Ukraine is not over, but the opportunity to reach those without Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is greater than ever.  May God comfort the families of all of the victims of repression and persecution in Ukraine, and may God give peace to the memory of Vladimir Velichko and his fellow-martyrs.

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