Here are three recent articles you may or may not have missed
Exploring Mary McCarthy’s Whittier, by Andy Sturdevant
Mary McCarthy is well-known as a writer, a critic, a political activist, and as an atheist who cherished the Catholic Religious education that taught her to love reason and art. In a wonderful article for MinnPost, Sturdevant revisits the Minneapolis, Minnesota, neighborhood that McCarthy chronicles in her autobiography, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood. The accompanying photos he snaps along the way are perfect.
For those unfamiliar with MinnPost, it is a non-profit, member-supported, on-line newspaper/magazine based in the Twin Cities… think Minnesota Public Radio (without the pretentiousness) in print.
The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Newsweek cover stories are difficult to miss. But in case you did not see it, this cover article by Ali is a no-holds-barred recounting of the dire situation Christianity is facing today in the Muslim world. While the Western media routinely makes sure we know about every “insult” or grievance Muslims around the world feel have been made against Islam, their founder, or their sacred book, there seems to be much less attention paid to the story of Christian churches being destroyed and Christians being martyred throughout the world precisely for what they believe. She includes eye-opening numbers. That a mainstream media standard like Newsweek would have the temerity to even broach the subject alone should indicate how dire the situation really is: “Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.”
In Defense of Religious Freedom, Evangelicals and Catholics Together
The March issue of First Things was passed along to me by my in-laws who had had it passed along to them by a neighbor who subscribes to the print version. Over the years I have checked out their website a few times. This timely article on religious freedom from the March print issue is also available for free on the web.
When it comes to theological issues, I am, admittedly, a bit more conservative than most of the people I interact with on a daily basis. It was not always that way. In my younger days I was the most liberal person I knew. Over the years I have grown much less traditionally liberal… with the exception of issues of economic justice.
For that reason, I have always had mixed feelings when reading First Things. I enjoy the thoughtful discourse, but am bothered at times by the number of writers who seem to ascribe to the George Will school of writing: throw in as many obscure references and latinates as possible to convince your readers that you really are smart and so what you are saying really must be true.
I have also been bothered over the years by their economic related articles that seem to follow the familiar morality-play line: blame the victim for their economic situation… poor people are poor in capitalism only because of the poor choices they make. Whatever happened to the idea of “There but by the grace of God go I”? Yet Pharisees are Pharisees. When you reject the idea that God shows preferential love for the poor… that the cross (suffering) is the way that Christ showed us… it is easy to start believing that all the gifts that were given to you by God were in all actuality earned by you through your hard work and your great moral choices. (Forgive the rant… but as I said above, on economic issues I remain a recalcitrant radical.)
Yet when it comes to subjects like religious freedom, I share much in common with the writers of First Things. Religious freedom is under attack worldwide… especially religious freedom for Christians. Ali’s Newsweek article points to the obvious attack on Christian religious freedom in the Muslim world, but the attack against Christian religious freedom in the Western world is just as dangerous… it is only more subtle. In a culture that “worships death” (John Paul II) and “relativism” (Benedict XVI) morality is often turned on its head. Moral evil is often called a “freedom” or a “choice.” Faith is forced from the public square and marginalized. Traditional religious teachings are called “bigotry.” In short, the West is tearing itself down from within even as the enemy is at the gates.