Mere Links 10.13.14
Monday, October 13, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Church of England and Moral Hazard
Betsy Childs, First Things

Certainly, ministers should be allowed to hold political views and to speak about them. But the Church of England needs to give careful thought to the kind of moral hazards that can arise from behavior like Sizer’s.

The Incomprehensibility of Sin: A Problem for Apologetics
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

Following the lead of Holy Scripture, the Church has consistently proclaimed that Christ is victorious over three enemies: Sin, Death, and Satan. All three, alas, pose special difficulties for those outside the Christian faith we are proposing to them.

Africans to Westerners at synod: We’ve got our own problems
Inés San Martín, Crux

During the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family, many of the biggest surprises are coming from the African continent, where the challenges vary greatly from those of Europe and the US.

China’s One-Child Policy: Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Must Work Together to End Forced Abortion and Gendercide
Reggie Littlejohn, Public Discourse

Forced abortion and gendercide are not pro-life or pro-choice issues. They are human rights issues.

Indiana State Trooper Sued for Witnessing to Jesus Christ
Monday, October 13, 2014, 9:28 AM

On August 9, 2014, Ms. Ellen Bogan, 60, was pulled over by Indiana State Trooper Brian Hamilton for an alleged illegal pass while speeding.  During the traffic stop, Trooper Hamilton issued a warning ticket.  (A warning ticket for speeding and an illegal pass?  They are so nice in Indiana!)  However, Ms. Bogan has now alleged in a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the American Civil (Criminal?) Liberties Union (“ACLU”) against Trooper Hamilton that he asked her if she had accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior, and whether she attended church.  She further alleged that he gave her a pamphlet that outlines “God’s plan for salvation,” which includes a recommended suggestion to “realize you’re a sinner” and to “realize the Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins.”  (Yes, it is true that all speeders are sinners.)  The pamphlet, published by the First Baptist Church of Cambridge, Indiana, advertised a radio program called “Policing for Jesus Ministries” hosted by “Trooper Dan Jones.”  In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, Ms. Bogan said, “It’s completely out of line and it just — it took me aback.  The whole time, his lights were on.  I had no reason to believe I could just pull away at that point, even though I had my warning.”  You can read the lawsuit here.

Indiana University Professor of Law Jennifer A. Drobac, who holds a doctorate in law from Stanford University Law School, told the Indianapolis Star, “The most important thing for people to understand is that the First Amendment specifies that the government shall not prefer one religion over another religion, or religious adherence over anything else.  The police officer is representing the government … so that means, as a representative, this person, while on duty, while engaged in official action, is basically overstepping and is trying to establish religion.”  Of course, Professor Drobac did not speak to the issue of the Trooper’s free speech rights.  In fact, Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana, told USA Today, “I have people pass out religious material all the time, and it doesn’t offend me.  [This case] might not be the most persuasive time to talk to someone about their faith, but I don’t think that a police officer is prohibited from doing something like that.”  Mr. Clark is questioning whether a police officer should lose his right to free speech merely because he is wearing a badge.  After all, according to Indiana State Police spokesman Captain David Bursten, there is not a specific policy that addresses officers who distribute religious materials.

Over the years, I have attended a number of events sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (, and I know that we have many devout brothers and sisters in Christ who deal daily in a sordid and dangerous world that is unimaginable for most of us.  (According to the National Law Enforcement Officers organization, through October 12, there have been 91 police officers killed in the line of duty across the United States in 2014.)  But I have to admit that if I were pulled over and an officer asked me to consider conversion to Islam, the Church of Euthanasia, or the Creativity Movement, I would be deeply troubled.  However, if he were to ask me to consider Scientology, or The Church of All Worlds, or even the Prince Philip Movement, it would simply be a funny story to tell my buddies at work and at the gym.  In my recent blog about the Fields of Faith event at government-run schools, one commenter noted, “One English teacher asked [my son] on the first day what the religion of every student was and made it clear she did not believe in God.  Knowing her stance and the way she required self-disclosure left [my son] feeling pressured and defensive about his faith.”  In contrast, Ms. Bogan was able to drive away from Trooper Hamilton with a warning ticket within a few minutes, but my commenter’s son and his classmates will have to sit through her class for an entire academic year.  But if the State of Indiana decides to punish and/or fire Trooper Hamilton, then so should lots of teachers and school administrators in government schools, and professors in state universities be punished as well.  After all, as Professor Drobac claims, a government employee, “while on duty, while engaged in official action,” should not be allowed to impose their religious (and consistent with Professor Drobac’s logic, a non-religious) worldview.  In any event, Ms. Bogan, a gaggle of ACLU lawyers, at least one judge, and a jury of Ms. Bogan’s peers will now be eternally responsible for their study and response to the Holy Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Please pray for Trooper Hamilton and for Ms. Bogan.  I know that attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom are also reading this blog, and I think that Trooper Hamilton may need some help from you very soon.  And if you wish to contact Indiana Governor Mike Pence, you can reach his office via email at  I already let Governor Pence know how I stand on this matter.

St. Symeon the New Theologian
Sunday, October 12, 2014, 12:00 PM

st symeon the new theologian 207x300 St. Symeon the New TheologianBy what boundless mercy, my Savior,
have you allowed me to become a member of your body?
Me, the unclean, the defiled, the prodigal.
How is it that you have clothed me
in the brilliant garment,
radiant with the splendor of immortality,
that turns all my members into light?
Your body, immaculate and divine,
is all radiant with the fire of your divinity,
with which it is ineffably joined and combined.
This is the gift you have given me, my God:
that this mortal and shabby frame
has become one with your immaculate body
and that my blood has mingled
with your blood.
I know, too,
that I have been made one with your divinity
and have become your own most pure body,
a brilliant member, transparently lucid,
luminous and holy.
I see the beauty of it all, I can gaze on the radiance.
I have become a reflection of the light of your grace.

St. Symeon the New Theologian (949 – 1032)
Excerpt from A Neglected Masterpiece of the Christian Mystical Tradition by Father John A. McGuckin:

The Byzantine saint and poet Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022) is one of the Christian world’s greatest mystics, if such a term can properly be used of ancient writers. It is here applied for the sake of convenience, and for the purpose of unveiling the author, as it were, who is not only a visionary of the highest order within the Eastern Orthodox tradition, but equally one of the Christian world’s most lyrical and rhapsodic writers. It is a startling fact that it is only in recent years that his works have become available in English translation, and a sadder one that his name is still largely unknown to a wider public who would otherwise undoubtedly be interested in a spirituality suffused with light and hope and one of the most profound senses of the mercy and compassion of God. The situation of neglect is comparable to finding something of the quality of the works of San Juan de la Cruz still awaiting an edition.

Amazon’s St. Symeon page with works translated into English:
St. Symeon

Lagniappe – Dawn Rodgers & Eric Wyse
Sunday, October 12, 2014, 7:00 AM

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! ~ Psalm 118:24

Wonderful Merciful Savior

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and friend
Who would have thought that a lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we hopelessly lost the way (more…)

Sacred Music – Part Three
Saturday, October 11, 2014, 9:00 AM

Third of four episodes of the BBC’s series on Sacred Music.
Byrd & Tallis: Singing the Lord’s song in a strange land

Mere Links 10.10.14
Friday, October 10, 2014, 10:00 AM

Mercy and Marriage at the Synod
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Since I haven’t written anything new lately on the debate over communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, the highest-profile (or at least most divisive) issue likely to be discussed at the synod of bishops that began meeting this week in Rome, I thought that I should link back to a few of my posts on the subject.

Why do so many liberals despise Christianity?
Damon Linker, The Week

Liberals increasingly want to enforce a comprehensive, uniformly secular vision of the human good. And they see alternative visions of the good as increasingly intolerable.

The Defense of Marriage Isn’t Over
Ryan T. Anderson, Public Discourse

Monday’s action from the Supreme Court is a setback for sound constitutional self-government and for a healthy marriage culture. So where do we go from here?

Is It Fair To Criticize Missionary Doctors?
Aaron Earls, The Federalist

An atheist provides yet another unintentional compliment to doctors who serve in Christ’s name.

Mere Links 10.09.14
Thursday, October 9, 2014, 10:00 AM

Christians cannot strategize and argue their way into renewed prominence
Michael Brendan Dougherty , The Week

The decline of Christianity will be reversed by attraction. The heart moves first, and then the head follows it.

The preacher refusing to give up the keys to a Yangon church

A recent Magazine article reported on the dwindling number of Armenians in Myanmar, also known as Burma. As Jonah Fisher reports from Yangon, the head of the Armenian Church has been to meet the local congregation and has made some changes.

Once Saul, Always Saul
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

The Bible does not explain why the name of Saul, the early persecutor of Christians, was changed to Paul, but also the Bible does not discourage speculation on the point. Undiscouraged, then, let us speculate.

Anthony Kennedy Halts the Latest Gay-Marriage Advance
Russell Berman, The Atlantic

The Supreme Court justice temporarily blocked an appeals court ruling striking down same-sex-marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada.

Fields of Faith Day
Thursday, October 9, 2014, 8:52 AM

Yesterday, October 8, 2014, was “Fields of Faith” day, in which students and teachers participated in an annual, student-organized, and student-led gathering at school athletic fields at the end of their school day.  At the Fields of Faith, students read the Holy Bible together, heard Christian testimonies, worshipped together, and prayed for one another.  A school athletic field is used because it provides a neutral place where an entire community can come together.  First organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2004, it is beautiful to see many young people boldly proclaim their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You can watch a promotional video here.  Hundreds of Fields of Faith events took place throughout the United States.  For information on the rallies near you, please go to

Since the first Field of Faith, however, some government school officials have sought to unconstitutionally keep teachers and students from sharing about and participating in the event.  This was usually done under the pretense that schools were prohibited from holding such events by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.  In actual fact, the opposite is true.  Student groups have the constitutionally protected freedom to participate in Fields of Faith prayer and worship activities, and to inform their fellow students about the event to the same extent that other student groups are allowed to promote, participate, and use school facilities for other types of activities and events.  Importantly, coaches, teachers, and yes, even school administrators can participate in the event as private citizens.  Alliance Defending Freedom (“ADF”), a major civil liberties law organization with thousands of allied attorneys throughout the United States, has published a legal memorandum to support the rights of students to gather for such an event.  (It is also an excellent summation of the constitutional rights of religious students beyond Fields of Faith.)  The law memorandum is available here.  The ADF memorandum states in part:

The Supreme Court has squarely stated that a student’s free speech rights apply ”when [they are] in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours.” . . . This includes prayer: “nothing in the Constitution as interpreted by this Court prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the schoolday.”

The memorandum also notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “religious speech is protected by the First Amendment and may not be singled out for discrimination.”  It is truly astounding to me that so many government school administrators and teachers do not understand these simple and well-established principles of American jurisprudence. ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco recently stated, “Christians don’t abandon their constitutional freedoms at the schoolhouse gate.  Their freedom to peacefully express their beliefs extends to after-school events, and that certainly includes activities like those at Fields of Faith.”

Let us join together to pray for the powerful witness of so many young people who gather to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.  For there is no legitimate basis for government school officials to prohibit or impede students and teachers from engaging in the activities for Fields of Faith.  Students, may God bless you and your schools richly.  I sure would have liked this event when I was in school.

Mere Links 10.08.14
Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 10:00 AM

Divine Acquisition
Meara Sharma interviews Anthony Pinn, Guernica

The scholar of African-American religion on black megachurches and the marketability of the American Dream.

How the Russian Orthodox Church answers Putin’s prayers in Ukraine
Gabriela Baczynska and Tom Heneghan, Reuters

Under Putin, the ROC gets support from the state and powerful oligarchs allied to the Kremlin, while Moscow benefits from its public blessing. A recent poll showed 75 percent of Russians approve of the ROC and more than half value its close ties with the state.

Pope Francis: Vatican begins landmark synod to discuss family life
James Reynolds, BBC

Pope Francis has opened a gathering of more than 200 senior Roman Catholic bishops by urging them not to impose what he called “intolerable moral burdens” on believers.

Why you should care about a Muslim inmate’s beard
Emily Hardman, CNN

I’m not a Muslim. I’ve never been imprisoned. And I don’t want to grow a beard. But I’m defending the rights of someone who is and does.

Mere Links 10.07.14
Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 10:00 AM

Pagans and Christians
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Occasionally in the debates about Christianity’s weakened position in American culture, you’ll hear traditionalists and conservatives analogize the Christian situation, now or soon, to the environment the faith faced in its earliest centuries, as an embattled minority in a hostile pagan empire.

The Political God is the Buffoon King
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

The account of Esther commences with an emperor and his empire. This emperor’s original-Persian-name was Xsayarsa.

Same-Sex Marriage and the Supreme Court: What Now for the Church?
Russell Moore, Moore to the Point

The Supreme Court has declined to take up appeals from states in which the courts have found same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right. This paves the way for same-sex marriage in many, perhaps most, places in the United States. Many Christians may be unaware of how momentous this is, since the denial of cases doesn’t come with quite the shock and awe of a ruling handed down. The effect though is wide-ranging. So what should our response be as the church of Jesus Christ?

Denying Review, Justices Clear Way for Gay Marriage in 5 States
Adam Liptak, New York Times

The Supreme Court on Monday denied review in all five pending same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for such marriages to proceed in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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