The World Wide (Religious) Web for Friday, December 16, 2011


SO LITTLE TIME, SO MANY BOOKS: Random House has compiled “The Best of the Book Lists.” If you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas gift, why not check out the 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners or Amazon’s Best Books of 2011 or Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of 2011 or Wall Street Journal’s Best History Books of 2011? Or why not check out The Claremont Review’s recommended books? Or the Huffington Post’s Best Religious Books of 2011?

WAIT, SANTA CLAUS WASN’T AT THE MANGER? “The Weird Tension of Christmas: How do you embrace holiday fun without forgetting sacred tradition?

CHRISTMAS WARS: “The Real War On Christmas…By Fox News.”

REMEMBERING JOSEPH AT CHRISTMAS: “Father to God, Model for Us.”

THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS: “The Meaning of Hanukkah.”

“Hanukkah” means “dedication.” Originally, the term referred to the rededication of the purified Temple after the Maccabees’ stunning military victory. But as the story of the martyrs shows, the victory was also associated with the heroic dedication of the Jewish traditionalists of the time to their God and his Torah. If Hanukkah celebrates freedom, it is a freedom to be bound to something higher than freedom itself.

JESUS APPS: “Five Social Media Trends that are Reshaping Religion.”

OBITUARY: “Christopher Hitchens Has Died.”

YOU THINK? “Unequally Yoked: The OWS movement does not align as well with the Bibleas some suppose.”

It’s not at all clear that this is what the Bible means when it condemns greed. Arguably the OWS movement seizes upon one strand of biblical guidance, the condemnation of greed, but cuts out the rest of the tapestry of biblical counsel. How, for instance, do attacks on “the 1 percent” comport with the commandment not to covet? How would increased government spending, with a staggering debt already, reflect wise stewardship? Or is it true that taking more from “the rich” and giving more to “the poor” would improve the latter’s circumstances, instead of undermining incentives to industry and entrenching the poor in dependency?

WHY ANIMAL CRUELTY IS WRONG: “Bless the Beasts.”

WEALTH & POVERTY: “Advent’s Economic Good News.”

THEOLOGICAL ETHICS: “Moral Absolutes and Divine Command.”

Some actions are incapable of being ordered to our final end, and these actions are always and everywhere wrong. God absolutely prohibits such actions, but the divine legislation functions not to ground the absolute prohibition but to enforce it.

STUPID JOURNALISM WATCH: “Is candidate Rick Santorum an ‘evangelist?’” The DC Bureau of the McClatchy Newspapers evidently doesn’t know the difference between an evangelist and an evangelical. Moreover, it doesn’t seem to understand that neither term applies to Rick Santorum, who is a Catholic layman. If journalists can’t keep these basic distinctions straight, one wonders what else they’re getting wrong when they report on stories with a religion angle.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: “A Private Matter: Vanderbilt Vets Student Ministries.” If the law forces Vanderbilt, a private college, to admit evangelical student groups, can it also force Wheaton College, and evangelical private college, to admit, say, Muslim student groups?

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