Stories I’ve Found, 11/23/2012

Interesting stories I’ve found lately:

Smack on the forehead time: is it really true the Pope Hates ChristmasGetReligion unpacks the ignorance of yet another journalist creating a controversy when there isn’t one.  Almost every scholar since the Middle Ages knows the estimate of Christ’s birth our calendar is based upon is wrong, and this has been known for centuries: it’s not in dispute. What gets the author of the column (and me as well) is when the journalist looked for an expert opinion, they went to an Old Testament scholar for advice, which didn’t turn out to be very illuminating. What gets me is why the Old Testament scholar didn’t tell the journalist: “You need to consult my colleague next door who’s a New Testament expert.” Hence, the idiocy of two people made it into one story; what a bargain!

Resist the Temptation of Black Friday, says a regular Religion News Service blogger.  A big Amen to that, brother Omid!  This could be said about the entire Xmas shopping aesthetic.

People reaching out to work across divides are what makes this country great, especially when these folks are from religious groups perceived as being at war with one another.  Would that more stories like this would get attention outside holiday seasons.

The Pogo Principle is alive and well.  Episcopal Fr. Tom Erlich makes a powerful point in I Have Seen the Problem and It Is Us.  He offers a very telling assessment of our society through religious terms, and I think it’s an illustration of how making religion too domestic, too comfortable, too much an institutional part of society can weaken any church. I would agree that much of practicing Faith is about a precept Finley Peter Dunne first articulated: “. . .comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable. . .”

Pope Benedict makes a powerful statement that health care is a universal good to be defended and not made a commodity. His comment about the need to care for the whole person in the midst of our technological advancement hits the point as well.

The case of the Pakistani girl Rishma is reached a legal settlement in Pakistani courts. She was accused of desecrating the Koran, although it was discovered later the evidence was planted. Her family fled to England for refuge, and although the courts have ruled in her favor, they cannot return from fear of mob violence, and Christians in her area still live in immediate fear of persecution. This is a true case of violation of religious liberty.

Here’s a picture of two young men from the Middle East that’s gone viral.  If cooler heads ever got control of the situation there, this could happen, but there’s too many hotheads on all sides right now, and the internal political situations on all sides of the borders enables the conflict to continue.

Were the American Indians victims of genocide?  Bill Tammeus leads us to this article by Guenther Lewy, and although it’s rather long, it is thorough and illustrates very well why we shouldn’t walk back through history to convict people who fail to live up to our standards.

Leah Libresco does 7 Quick Takes, which are all interesting this week. The last is a video on the frequency stability property, and I think there’s a problem with it (the experiment, not the concept). A person determines whether to flip a light switch based on a coin toss, but how can one tell how the coin flip went when the room’s dark? I guess they have to feel the coin. But better still, how can you catch a flipped coin in the dark? I know my aim isn’t good enough to toss it consistently, much less catch it without looking.  Which probably only means I won’t be taking part in any scientific experiments.

By the way, Leah became Catholic this past weekend, and the Church is enriched by her presence.

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