Mere Links 01.24.15
Monday, January 26, 2015, 10:00 AM

9 Things You Should Know About Vintage Christianity
Jeremy Bouma, OnFaith

“I am dedicated to unoriginality.” So said historical theologian Thomas Oden in his classic work, Classical Christianity. He goes on: “I plan to present nothing new or original in these pages . . . My aim is to present classical Christian teaching of God on its own terms, undiluted by modern posturing.”

How To Be A Gay Jesuit
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

The following is from an internal document recently distributed by the US Jesuits to all members of the religious order. According to the prefatory comments, every year the Jesuits ask their members to consider a case study in how to handle a matter involving sex and sexuality.

A Fundamental Right To “personal Recreationism”?
Wesley J. Smith, First Things

Gender dysphoria (transgenderism)—formerly known as gender identity disorder—was once considered a mental illness. Today, the condition—and how individuals and society react to it—is a prominent civil rights issue, the “T” in LGBT.

No Worship Services in Public Schools, New York Mayor Tells Supreme Court
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today

Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise of letting churches rent school space. Now he’s asking the Supreme Court to prohibit it.

Mere Links 01.23.15
Friday, January 23, 2015, 10:00 AM

Sex Education in America: How Yesterday’s Extremists Shaped Today’s Sex Ed
Valerie Huber, Public Discourse

In order to influence the future of sex education, we must have a nuanced understanding of its colorful past.

DR Congo unrest: Catholic church backs protests

The Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has thrown its weight behind protests against President Joseph Kabila extending his rule.

The Latest Debate Over Catholic Social Thought
Gerald J. Russello, Crisis Magazine

Pope Francis’ statements about economics (and related questions, such as environmentalism and “fracking”) have caused much consternation among conservative Catholics in the United States. The Holy Father’s comments on the “greed” of capitalism and his seeming belief that capitalism causes income inequality rather than providing explosive growth and increased prosperity historically seem without nuance at best, and ignorant at worst.

To Some in California, Founder of Church Missions Is Far From Saint
Carol Pogash , New York Times

For generations, fourth graders in California’s schools, often with a parent’s touch, built models of church missions out of poster board or sugar cubes to celebrate the Rev. Junipero Serra and the religious communities he established along the West Coast in the late 1700s.

Mere Links 01.22.15
Thursday, January 22, 2015, 10:00 AM

Pentecost: The Whole Paschal Season
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

In Luke’s theology the mission of the Holy Spirit is especially related to the event of Pentecost. Consequently, the forgiveness and remission of sins—the Holy Spirit’s first gift—forms a theme foundational to the imagery of Pentecost. This is the case, whether “Pentecost” refers to the whole Paschal season (its older meaning) or refers to the specific day of the Holy Spirit’s descent.

Has Roe Already Been Overturned? The Viability Of The Pain-Capable Act
Charles C. Camosy, The Federalist

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation (except for rape or to save the mother’s life). And it’s probably consonant with Roe v. Wade.

What’s the Problem with IVF?
Matthew Hosier, Think Theology

One of the ethical questions I am most often asked is whether IVF is an appropriate course of action for Christian couples.

The Scale Of The Universe And The Religious View
Hugh Hunter, First Things

Who is the protagonist of Hamlet? It seems pretty obvious that it is the dark prince himself, but I am sure you can imagine a clever reader making a case that it is really Ophelia, or Claudius, or some other important character. What would you say to someone who said that the protagonist was actually Cornelius, the Danish envoy to Norway, whose one line is shared with someone else?

Mr. Obama Travels to Hometown of Pastor Saeed Abedini
Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 10:39 AM

Following his State of the Union address last night, Mr. Obama will travel today to Boise, Idaho, for his first trip to Idaho as president. He will address what is expected to be a standing-room-only crowd at Boise State University’s Sports Complex at 2:45 p.m. Prior to his address, Mr. Obama will tour the University College of Engineering’s New Product Development laboratory, and is scheduled to spend an hour with the students. The students will show Mr. Obama some of the prototypes they have been working on. The University describes the laboratory as having helped “hundreds of Idaho inventors and entrepreneurs turn ideas into commercial products.” At the University, Mr. Obama presumably will highlight the innovative educational and entrepreneurial opportunities that he wishes to create for poor and middle-class Americans through nationwide tuition-free community colleges.

Abedini Testifying 3 15 13RGW 3548 480 300x295 Mr. Obama Travels to Hometown of Pastor Saeed AbediniBoise is also the home town of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence in Iran for his Christian faith. Over the years, Pastor Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, has pleaded with President Obama to meet with her. However, he has not even replied to her requests. Following the White House announcement that Mr. Obama would be visiting Boise, Mrs. Abedini wrote the following to Mr. Obama in pertinent part:

My heart leapt with hope when I heard that you would be visiting my hometown of Boise, Idaho. Since the Iranian government took my husband, Saeed Abedini, almost 3 years ago, I have been praying and wanting to meet with you. With each of my travels to Washington D.C., I hoped that I would get a call, or an invitation to see you and to speak with you. To have you look into my eyes and see the piercing pain that has been there since my husband’s imprisonment; to see my kids and to know that they have missed the warm embrace of their dad for nearly three years. . . . Serving as President of the United States, you have pledged to protect America – to protect our citizens. My husband loves this country. So much so, he became a U.S. citizen on March 11, 2010.  The following day he shared on Facebook these words: “Today is the first day I opened my eyes as an American. . . . I need to be an active citizen for my new country. Lord help me to do your will in my country America. Lord Bless America.” You speak about the need to protect religious freedom and human rights. Saeed is imprisoned merely because of his Christian faith. My husband has committed no crime – he chose to exercise his God-given right to choose his own faith. . . . Mr. President, my children and I respectfully request, as you come to our home town of Boise, Idaho, that you take a moment of your time to meet with us.

The Obama administration continues to release approximately $750 million in funds to Iran monthly as the United States, Europe, and Iran “negotiate” a nuclear weapons agreement. According to recently published U.S. Treasury reports, the United States and Europe have already released to the Islamic mullahs during these negotiations $7 billion through November 24, 2014, with an additional $4.9 billion forthcoming during the period November 25, 2014, to June 30, 2015. (I bet you didn’t hear that on Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow, or Katie Couric’s “news” programs.) Further, as we are releasing funds to the Iranians, media reports indicate that Iran and Hezbollah plan forthcoming attacks on Israel. It would be good for Mr. Obama to meet with Mrs. Abedini and her two children. Sadly, I don’t think that this will happen. I guess that, as Mr. Obama stated last night, while some “pages” in our nation have turned, others will not be. But after having suffered years of fear and uncertainty, Mrs. Abedini and her children deserve to be heard by Mr. Obama. Please continue to pray for Pastor Abedini’s release from prison, for his wife, Naghmeh, and for their two beautiful children, and also please pray for the long-suffering people of Iran who live under the dictatorship of the mullahs that they will come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mere Links 01.21.15
Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 10:00 AM

How Southern Baptists became pro-life
David Roach, Baptist Press

In 1979, Larry Lewis picked up a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and saw a full-page ad listing the Southern Baptist Convention among denominations that affirmed the right to abortion. “Right there beside the Unitarians and universalists was the Southern Baptist Convention,” Lewis, a St. Louis pastor who went on to become president of the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board), told Baptist Press. “… That bothered me a lot.”

Here’s why your state may be expanding religious freedom protections this year
Mark A. Kellner, Deseret News

The rush to enforce same-sex marriage across the country may trigger state legislative efforts to enact local versions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Supporters say cultural changes make this necessary; opponents fear boycotts.

Bible colleges sue for right to issue degrees
John O’Connor, Associated Press

Bible colleges in Illinois have filed a federal lawsuit against state education regulators, seeking the unencumbered right to award degrees to students who complete their programs.

Is Scholasticism Making a Comeback?
Rev. James V. Schall, S.J. , Crisis Magazine

In the September 1987 issue of Modern Age, Frederick Wilhelmsen wrote a famous essay titled: “Great Books: Enemies of Wisdom?” In it, he recounted his own experience as a student at the University of Detroit.

Mere Links 01.20.15
Tuesday, January 20, 2015, 10:00 AM

Niger protesters torched 45 churches – police

At least 10 people have been killed and 45 churches set on fire since protests erupted in Niger over the French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, police say.

Proof The New York Times Only Censors Photos That Offend Violent Religious Sects
Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet has repeatedly claimed that the reason he’s not allowing any depictions of Muhammad to appear in the paper is because he’s highly attuned to religious sensibilities. It’s not because he’s terrified of Islamic radicals killing him or his staff. No really. That’s what he’s going with.

In Celebration Of Religious Liberty Day, ‘Je Suis American’
Kristina Arriaga, The Federalist

Religious liberty is often treated like the eccentric uncle of the human-rights family. It shouldn’t be. We need it now, perhaps, more than ever.

Illinois Abortion Clinics Inspected an Average of Once Every 9 Years
Evan Gahr, The Daily Signal

Forty percent of licensed clinics went between 14 and 17 years without inspections, according to the report. And only one of the federally funded Illinois Planned Parenthood clinics, which are not licensed, was ever inspected—in 1999.

Remembering the Victims of Abortion
Monday, January 19, 2015, 9:47 AM

Forty-two years ago, on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, a 7-2 decision, that a right of privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Under the U.S. Constitution, unborn children were not persons, and thus, had no right to “life.” The decision disallowed state and federal restrictions on abortion in the United States. The decision prompted a long national debate about whether abortion should be legal, and the role of religious and moral views in the political and social sphere. Since 1973, it is estimated that sixty million abortions have taken place in the United States.

Of course, the wounds from abortion are deep. Abortion kills the innocent baby, and wounds the mother and everyone else involved. One in three American men are implicated in the abortion decision. In a recent press release, the Family Research Council noted the following:

The emptiness resulting from the sheer loss of innocent human life is vast. A mother’s womb should be the safest place on earth for her unborn child, yet it is often the battleground between life and death. Abortion not only tears a child from her mother’s womb, but tears away at the intimate fabric of the family unit.

Let us pray, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for all of the victims of abortion:

Our loving Heavenly Father, Who makes all people in Your divine image. You teach us in Your Holy Word that Your glory is evident in the faces of Your little ones, whose angels continually look to You, have mercy upon us. As a nation, we have turned our backs upon You for we have not only tolerated, but permitted, violent acts that shed the innocent blood of 3,700 children each day. In this nation, whose blessing by You is so abundantly clear to all, we permit abortion to be legal in all fifty states, through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason. We beg Your mercy upon us. As a nation, we have not considered little ones who are about to be born as worthy of life, but have rather discarded them as less than trash beneath our feet. Loving and Just Father, we plead for Your mercy upon us. Over the past 42 years, we have not held the lives of millions of unborn children as sacred to You, but rather, our nation has put them to death as a matter of convenience in order to pursue our selfish interests. For this bloodshed, we ought to be condemned and judged for their innocent blood is upon our hands. The innocent blood of the sixty million aborted unborn children has polluted the land, and our shores are drenched with the blood of the unborn. Our cities and towns, and our high places of government, drip red with the blood of the innocent. We beg You, Gracious Lord, to have mercy upon us. Because we who love You did not raise up an outcry against this monstrous sin, we too have become guilty through our silence and complacency. We, who are in Your Church, who are called by Your Holy Name, have loved our pleasure and our comforts far more than our neighbors, and much more than Your Holy Word. We know that we deserve Your righteous judgment, O Lord, for we are without excuse. Heavenly Father, we pray for those who advocate for abortion. Open their eyes that they may see that they are ending a life. We pray for those women, including some amongst us who follow You, who have had abortions. We pray for those of us who, as men, have encouraged women in crisis and the mothers of our unborn babies to have an abortion, or have paid for an abortion with our blood money. Father, we also pray that the day will soon come when innocent blood will be shed no more in our land, and that the halls of our government shall know righteousness, and that our courts shall be occupied by godly men and women. For we ask this with deep humility through the precious and holy Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

You Might Have Missed This in the New York Times
Friday, January 16, 2015, 4:14 PM

Four courageous and strong adult children of homosexual parents have recently submitted briefs to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals opposing homosexual “marriages.” This appellate court is considering whether to uphold one man-one woman marriage laws in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The oral arguments will be heard today in New Orleans. The four have written that growing up as children in homosexual households was neither normal nor pleasant.

Katy Faust wrote that there are “two rights” that every child shares when they arrive in this world. “First, the right to live. Second, the right to have a relationship with his/her father and mother.” (It is a matter of judicial notice that human beings come into existence from relationships between a man and a woman.) Dawn Stefanowicz said that her homosexual father was so obsessed with having sexual relations that she recalled at least one occasion when she was in high school and brought home a male classmate, both her father and his male paramour propositioned the male student for sex. (A bit like Sodom and Gomorrah, no?) B. N. Klein said that her mother and her lesbian partner disdained all heterosexual families completely, and Ms. Klein stated in her brief that she did not have any clue about the daily interactions of a husband and wife until she left her lesbian home and went into foster care. Robert Oscar Lopez said that his two lesbian mothers tried to be conscientious about his upbringing, but he became so emotionally confused that, as a teen, he became a male prostitute, and had numerous homosexual and bisexual relationships into his adulthood.

Poignantly, in her brief to the appellate court, Ms. Stefanowicz said that her life was anything but normal. She wrote in pertinent part:

You end up never having a real home. Our home environments have unique and unstable characteristics due to the presence or absence of biological parents, legal parents or guardians, and different sex partners of parents. Your childhood is divided to please the adults. Many adults — even former sex partners of a parent — feel they can talk about “where you live, who you visit, what schools you attend, which doctors you see, what medical procedures you have, what faith/religion you practice.”

Ms. Stefanowicz said that she loved her father, who died of AIDS in 1991, but also observed that he was a deeply troubled man who sexually abused both her and her twin brother, and brought countless men into the home. She further explained, “I was exposed to overt sexual activities like sodomy, nudity, pornography, group sex, sadomasochism, and the ilk,” and then added that her father would also take her “cruising” to homosexual art galleries, nude beaches, and public parks. She also expressed that her femininity was not valued at home. She wrote, “Ultimately, I was seeking his love and acceptance. [But] I was not allowed to freely question him, bring up moral arguments or hurt his feelings, or I would face long-term repercussions.”

Ms. Klein wrote the following:

While I do not believe all gays would be de facto bad parents, I know that the gay community has never in my lifetime put children first as anything other than a piece of property, a past mistake or a political tool to be dressed up and taken out as part of a dog-and-pony show to impress the well-meaning.

Ms. Klein said that she could now write the truth because her mother and her lesbian partner were both dead, and could “never hurt me again.” Mr. Lopez astutely observed that he and other children of homosexuals and lesbians feel “pain,” but it was because there is a “missing biological parent,” and not because homosexuals lacked the legal status of “marriage.” He commented that his childhood exposure to radical Roman Catholic liberation theology and talk about “the beauty of homosexual relationships” led him into years of sexual experimentation, including male prostitution. However, he further stated that it was a reunion with a long-estranged father that led to his escape from the “toxic” homosexual life. Ms. Faust differed from the other three in that she had no specific criticism of her mother and her lesbian partner, but still is urging the appellate court to uphold traditional marriage.

It was observed long ago by Tolstoy in his novel, Anna Karenina, that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Of course, Tolstoy was speaking about heterosexual families. I was blessed to have grown up in a loving family with a loving and kind mother and father. Both encouraged me to become a follower of the Lord Jesus at an early age, and to grow in my relationship with Him. I cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak, confusion, and pain of growing up in a home with persons in homosexual or lesbian relationships, let alone those with repeated promiscuity. In your prayers, please remember the oral arguments today at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the subsequent deliberations by the justices, and please also pray for the children of those who grow up in homosexual and lesbian households. Jesus warns us in Matthew 18:6, that “whoso shall cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to fall, it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” That is, sadly, true for heterosexual parents, but truer for “parents” in homosexual and lesbian relationships as those are inherently sinful and abnormal relationships. There, I said it.

Mere Links 01.16.15
Friday, January 16, 2015, 10:00 AM

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

What you should know about the the militant group waging a campaign of terror and attempting to establish an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria.

Pope: Fundamentalist terrorism result of ‘deviant religion’
Nicole Winfield, AP

Pope Francis on Monday denounced the religious fundamentalism that inspired the Paris massacres and ongoing Mideast conflicts, saying the attackers were enslaved by “deviant forms of religion” that used God as a mere ideological pretext to perpetuate mass killings.

Sunday morning still segregated, study shows
Bob Smietana, Baptist Press

Sunday morning remains one of the most segregated hours in American life, with more than 8 in 10 congregations made up of one predominant racial group, a LifeWay Research study shows.

Charlie Hebdo, Intolerance, and the Problem of Double Standards
Kim R. Holmes, Public Discourse

The terrible massacre in Paris could be a “teachable” moment on the meaning of tolerance, but it will require soul searching by America’s cultural leftists.

Mere Links 01.15.15
Thursday, January 15, 2015, 10:00 AM

How the Supreme Court Reacted to This Town Allowing Politicians Bigger Signs Than Churches
Hans von Spakovsky, The Daily Signal

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, a challenge by a church to a town ordinance regulating signs.

In China, a church-state showdown of biblical proportions
Robert Marquand, Christian Science Monitor

Christianity is booming in China, propelling it toward becoming the world’s largest Christian nation. But as religion grows, it spurs a government crackdown.

A Little About Hebrews 12:2
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

After his long panegyric on the heroes of faith, the author of the Epistle makes reference to Jesus as “the leader and perfecter of faith” (12:2). This expression requires closer inspection, in order to understand Jesus’ relationship to faith.

Why ‘Ordinary Time’ is Most Extraordinary for God’s Work
Jim Tonkowich, Juicy Ecumenism

Christmas is over and as a friend likes to say, “Ain’t nothin’ as over as Christmas.”

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