Friday, April 25, 2014

Blogging Around: Grab Bag

Here are a few things that caught my eye last week.

As always, I'm counting on you to click through for the whole story and not just depend on these little tidbits to truly inform you. 

The Atlantic slips — somehow — inside mind of Benedict XVI
Not being an Atlantic reader I completely missed a piece they did, “The Pope in the Attic: Benedict in the Time of Francis” but luckily I was able to read about it at GetReligion. They point out it isn't journalism but an essay. And not just any essay but, as GetReligion puts it: "This piece is a love song to all of the Catholics who suffered so much during the terrifying reign of St. John Paul II and his bookworm bully, the future Pope Benedict XVI."

Now you can see why I say you need to read it. I hadn't seen this quote by Peggy Noonan before but it is so wonderfully expressive that it is going into my quote journal.
Do you remember that famous Peggy Noonan quote about Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing,” a show for which she served as a consultant?
A reporter once asked me if I thought, as John Podhoretz had written, that “The West Wing” is, essentially, left-wing pornography. I said no, that’s completely wrong. “The West Wing” is a left-wing nocturnal emission — undriven by facts, based on dreams, its impulses as passionate as they are involuntary and as unreflective as they are genuine.
That’s kind of what we are dealing with here, especially in the passages in which essayist Paul Elie all but claims to have read the mind of Benedict, perhaps while driving past his abode (I am not making that part up, honest).
 Fire of the Spirit for Catholic Teens 

This hit my in-box and it looks interesting.
"Fire of the Spirit" is a Catholic teen group devoted to the evangelization and awakening of Catholic teenagers everywhere to the reality of their faith, and the world we live in. Currently, our mission encompasses a bi-monthly e-magazine, and a group Catholic teen blog; all of which is produced "for teens by teens."
An Atheist's Case for Religious Liberty
The oldest rule of free speech is: I may disagree with every word you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it. Because if I don’t stand up for you, then by my silence I am accepting a system in which might makes right. I am helping to establish the rule of the jungle in the realm of ideas.

In sum, I’m for religious liberty because there really is no such thing as religious liberty. There is just freedom of thought and freedom of conscience, period. For all of us. And if we let the left knock it down, they are coming for all of us in the end.
Robert Tracinski at The Federalist
As always, it is about conscience and allowing each other the "right to be wrong." Really that book just keeps applying to everything. Via Jen Fitz at Sticking the Corners.

A Public School Bible Curriculum
A fascinating and well balanced story from Religion News Service about a proposed public school Bible curriculum. I'd say one needs this sort of thing just to be literate in timeless, classic literature which has influenced the great authors of Western civilization. And on that mixing religion and government issue? We're covered.
Contrary to popular assumptions, there is nothing unconstitutional about teaching about the Bible in public schools. The same Supreme Court ruling that outlawed school-sanctioned prayer in 1963 qualified that “Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible … when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

The key words, of course, are “objectively” and “secular.” Haynes suggested that, constitutionally, “the bar is actually low — I think it’s hard for judges to get beyond the surface to questions of what a sound academic course looks like — but much more difficult to develop materials that actually both reflect constitutional principles and are academically solid.”
It can be done. I'd like to think my reading at Forgotten Classics of Robert Alter's translation of Genesis, requested by an atheist listener, looking at a book of the Bible as literature.

Via GetReligion whose own article about this piece you'll want to read also so you can appreciate just how good the original is at fair and balanced reporting of a touchy issue.

A Better Way to Say Sorry
It's instructional but also inspirational. A must read from cuppacocoa for parents, spouses, employers and employees, for everyone who ever made a mistake and needed to apologize ... so that's all of us! Even if you don't need feel you need work in this area, read it for the inspirational bit toward the end. Via Melanie Bettinelli on Facebook.

Evangelical Poverty, Fasting, and The Foods We Eat
Again from Jen Fitz at Sticking the Corners. A look at uncluttered living, Christian poverty, and the places we choose to spend our money. Like Jen, we're into real food which costs money. Read it all and check out the linked story which started her thinking about the topic. As for me, I'm going to try to lay my hands on a copy of Thomas Dubay's book which she mentions. I'm a fan and this is a topic about which we all need more inspiration.

Speaking of Food ... Our Wacky Dietary Prejudices 
Our attitude to food reflects just how privileged our society is and, in my opinion, just how little of substance many of us have to occupy our days.

This WSJ article about how many people are picking "Elimination Diets" hit a real chord for me. You wouldn't believe how these sorts of food preferences make life harder when doing food prep for retreats. We ask people to tell us if they have allergies. Many wind up telling us their "elimination" preferences as if they were allergies.

In a related piece (again from Melanie on Facebook) from TNation looks at our food fads from the 1980s until now. When you see how the older fads have been disproved, it makes one take a more jaundiced look at the current trends.

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