Tag: Religion

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Exorcist, The Demon, and The One Who Is Not There

 

imageIt’s nearly Halloween, which means a cornucopia of horror movies on TV. Most of them are just awful, with a few masterpieces occasionally making the grade. Last night some cable channel featured Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and a couple of zombie features I’d never heard of. Frankly, the horror movie genre is in a slump. It’s zombies, zombies, zombies, all the way down and I’ve never understood their appeal. I have a pretty strong stomach — I always have anchovies on my pizza — but I demur when it comes to people eating people. I just don’t understand how they can be the luckiest people in the world.

For just over 40 years, The Exorcist has been the magnum opus of horror films. I’ve never completely understood how such a frankly religious movie has been transformed into a Halloween staple. Yes, it’s terrifying and — for whatever reason — people love to be terrified. But what makes it a perennial favorite, I think, is the gut deep fear that demonic possession may be possible. Nobody’s going to turn into a zombie or be resurrected as a member of the fraternity of the undead. But at a visceral level, most people believe fallen angels are more than superstition who literally, in the words of the Prayer to St. Michael, “prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Can the Secular Define Evil?

 

I’m a fan of Dennis Prager, though I split my listening between him and Rush, as they’re both on at the same time. Dennis is an unabashed advocate for religion, and the notion that goodness flows from it. He frequently challenges secular people or atheists — like me — to contradict his claim that “[w]thout God there is no good and evil.”

It’s a good challenge, and I’ve been contemplating it for a long time. Not only do I think we should always confront our opponent’s best arguments directly but I really do think its important to ask myself — as secular person — how I draw the distinction between what is good and evil if I am not going to trust religion to define it for me?

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Yom Kippur: A Torah Explanation

 

I like to explain everything using only the words in the Torah. The following is a modified excerpt from my upcoming book. It is, oddly enough, libertarian in the sense of taking responsibility for one’s own actions. But otherwise, this is pure biblical exegesis, which obviously will not appeal to many. But it might interest a few of you.. so enjoy!

Consider the Yom Kippur offering, the famous “two goats.” One is consigned to Azazel and thrown down a cliff, and the other one meets a holy end as a sacrifice to G-d. Like many other commandments in the Torah, the twin goats of Yom Kippur can be very difficult to understand.

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This post is just a quick THANKS! to the great members here. Through Ricochet I’ve been able to meet some astounding people (even if only through posts and audio meet ups), and hardly a day goes by where I don’t learn something here. I’m not going to name names because I don’t want to be […]

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Atheist In the Foxhole? So Help Me God…

 

As many are aware, the Air Force became the last branch of the military to make “so help me God” optional in the oath of enlistment this past week.

A legal review of rules that required the phrase occurred after the American Humanist Association (AHA) threatened to sue on behalf of an atheist airman. The unnamed airman at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was denied re-enlistment Aug. 25 after crossing the phrase out of the oath.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Islam Relevant to Obama Administration … But Only When it Comes to Real Threats, Like Global Warming

 

President Obama on Wednesday night — the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — said Islamic religious instruction is wholly irrelevant to the cause of ISIS … which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIS, I suspect, would disagree.

But that is not to say that there aren’t elements of foreign policy in which the Obama administration thinks religion — even Islam — is a key component. Secretary of State John Kerry stated on Sept. 3 that “religion matters,” and he’s made it “a mantra” in his State Department and his foreign policy stance.

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The following New York Times article was written by Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/08/20/opinion/ronald-lauder-who-will-stand-up-for-the-christians.html?_r=0&post_id=100000568613762_890414684320810#_=_ The question is, why haven’t Christian ministers and priests spoken out about this tragic slaughter? More

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Unlike so many liberal leaders and reporters who love to lambaste straw men, I try to judge ideological groups by their best arguments and most representative members. When considering Islam, one fair measure seems to be the character and leadership of its founding prophet, Mohammed. Not only does the whole belief system depend on his […]

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Secular Conservatism, Libertarians, Progressives, and Marriage

 

I take conservatism to be an appreciation and defense of what has been proven to work, and which benefits society and the individual in a balance.

If that seems overly-broad, let me provide an example. Morality is effective in curbing largely destructive impulses and reactions, therefore morality is worth defending in principle, with some room for debate on many fronts. Not all morality is the same, and it is not always helpful in the particulars. But to hold that morality is not a necessary part of society is anti-conservative in my view, as morality is the most tested method for a society to control its own behavior with respect for the society and the individual in balance. 

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. What Ever Happened to the Sabbath Here in the United States?

 

imgresPaul Rahe’s lovely account of the Sabbath in Jerusalem, below, got me to wondering: What ever happened to the Sabbath here in this country?

When I was a kid — not all that long ago — we still had enough of a sense of the Christian Sabbath, Sunday, that very few stores were ever open. It would never have so much as occurred to coaches to schedule Little League games, say, for Sunday. On the one occasion I can recall on which I wanted to meet some friends to see a movie (which, in those days, required going to an actual movie theater), I had to get special permission from my father to do so.

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I have little respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a judge, but occasionally she does have a point. Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage or according women equal pay for substantially similar work? More

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Pride and Pentecost

 

pridepentMy husband and I heard Mass at the soaring National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. It was a sunny, cool morning outside on the steps of the capital’s largest Episcopal church, and fairly crowded with churchgoers inside its echoing interior. Since the church’s exceptional choir has not yet taken their summer break, we were treated to some truly celestial choral music.

I’m Roman Catholic and my husband is Episcopalian and we regularly visit each other’s churches in our hometown. So I was not surprised at all that the vicar of the Cathedral, who welcomed everyone, is a woman, though my own church allows only male priests. Nor was I surprised that both readers of the liturgy and also the celebrant of the Mass were women. I thought it a bit humorous that a guest priest, the lone male that was to speak to us by giving the sermon, had trouble with his microphone and couldn’t be heard at first. After a little flurry of cassocks, a working mike was found and the priest announced that he was very pleased to be here “in this season of Pentecost and of Pride.” Hmm.

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Many Christian homes these days favor empty crosses, often bright and colorful, over the traditional crucifix. Which do you prefer? If you possess a mix, do you have significantly more of one than of the other? The cross is a symbol of the crucifix. Without our King’s broken body, crowned in blood and thorns, the […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Template Progressivism

 

shutterstock_128011673Scan the headlines on any given day and you will see the left plotting to tinker with every aspect of society they can get their hands on. By its very nature, progressivism is allergic to Burkean restraint. There is no limit to the institutions they may try to overhaul. Not even the seven-day week is safe.

For eons, all manner of animals have lived their lives according to the cycles of the Earth’s rotation on its axis, the moon’s orbit around the Earth, and the Earth’s orbit around the sun. But why do we observe the week? 

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Bishop Who Refuses to Cower

 

Just issued by Rev. Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia:

Archbishop-ChaputToday’s federal district court decision striking down Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act is a mistake with long-term, negative consequences. Like many other Pennsylvanians, I hope that an appeal will be made promptly. Laws that defend the traditional definition of marriage were enacted for sound reasons—namely to defend the rights of children and contribute to the well-being of the larger community.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. How Will People of Faith Live Now?

 

We knew when the incoherent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage came down last year that judges would ignore the law and impose gender-neutral marriage on the nation, as is now happening in several states. Our country will reap the whirlwind. So, my friends of faith, how are we now going to live?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. We’re going to be walking a tightrope, but we must stick to our beliefs and build communities that are as impervious as possible to the whirlwind of terrible things that are coming: polygamy, polyamory, children bought and sold, recruitment to homosexuality, pressure to ignore gender differences, a changed understanding of fidelity and so on. In other words, we will have to build a religious view of marriage that is entirely different than the secular view and the communities that revolve around it. A religious view of marriage has existed in the past, but it was not wholly different than the secular one. Now it will have to be. We are going to have to resist state efforts to crush even this. Our whole lives are going to have to change.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Harvard Gives the Devil More Than His Due

 

VeritasShieldTonight, Harvard University will host a “black mass” at Queens Head Pub, a space beneath Memorial Hall usually reserved for hangouts over pints of 1636 Ale. The Harvard Extension School’s “Cultural Studies Club” has decided to put on an “historical reenactment” of Satanic worship, purportedly only simulating the desecration of a consecrated host. It is unclear exactly what the “reenactment” involves, but, as a mockery of the Holy Mass, it is unavoidably an affront to Catholicism and every Catholic in the Harvard and Cambridge communities. If a consecrated host is used (and despite administrators’ assurances it will not be, it is difficult to say for sure), this would be an extremely grave and troubling event for Catholics anywhere. It would be, quite literally, a physical assault on Jesus Christ.

Despite the fact that the event comes precariously close to an horrific offense against God, it is hard to take these Harvard Satanists too seriously. The “Extension School” is just what is sounds like — an entity far from the heart of the Harvard community, originally designed to give locals around campus a chance to attend classes. It is absurd that a group of a few Extension School students have been allowed to represent “Harvard” as an institution here. Also, the event will feature a talk by Harvard Kennedy School lecturer (not professor), Christopher Robichaud. If you’re interested in writings by Robichaud, you’ll only find him published in volumes of Superheroes and Philosophy, Supervillains and Philosophy, Superman and Philosophy, Batman and Philosophy, Iron Man and Philosophy, X-Men and Philosophy, and Game of Thrones and Philosophy. Comical indeed. Satanic worship may be the least of our worries when it comes to the Father of Lies, who is at his strongest when he tempts souls by an almost imperceptible influence, not by agents wearing spooky masks while they attempt to vivify gargoyles. 

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. SCOTUS Decision on Legislative Prayer Doesn’t Go Far Enough—Adam Freedman

 

Yesterday was a good day for religious liberty at the Supreme Court, where five justices beat back an attempt to declare prayers at town meetings unconstitutional. It could have been a great day, however, if only the Court had accepted Justice Thomas’ invitation to declare the Establishment Clause completely inapplicable to state and local governments. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

The decision in Town of Greece v Galloway involved a small city in upstate New York (Greece) in which town board meetings open with a roll call, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and – brace yourself – a prayer given by a rotating selection of local clergymen. Two town residents sued, arguing that the predominately Christian nature of the prayers (reflecting the composition of the local clergy) violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The Court’s liberal bloc (Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan) would have banned the town’s prayer tradition, relying on a dominant theory in many earlier cases that the First Amendment prohibits any government action that might appear to “endorse” religion. 

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For at least a thousand years, a popular premise of epic adventure stories has been a quest for the Holy Grail. In a roundabout way, Monty Python demonstrates why such a quest might seem a little silly. More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Worship or American Idol-atry? — Jon Gabriel

 

My wife and I have dragged our daughters to many churches over the past several years. We’ve enjoyed most of the sermons, congregations, programs and pastors, and my wife has liked most of the music. As for me, I’ve pretty much given up on finding any worship music that doesn’t drive me a bit batty.

For background, I’m a plain-old Christian, sans denomination, though I have enjoyed Lutheran, Baptist, Anglican, Reformed and other congregations over the years. Most of the churches I’ve attended are evangelical, with several that would fit into the “megachurch” category. Most have offered inspiring teaching with solid, if not terribly deep, theology. But the music… oh heavens, the music.

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