Recommended Reading Round-up

1) The significance of ritual in and out of church:
This PIECE from a Lutheran blogger reflects upon the importance of ritual and formality in light of a firefighters' memorial ceremony and in light of the ways that "worship wars" are playing out in his own denomination.  Good stuff here that I wish more American Christians would consider.

2) The rise of the Intolerant Left:
Many have been commenting in recent weeks about how 'illiberal' liberalism seems to have become in our nation.  Was all that talk about tolerance and inclusion and respect for all peoples was just a smokescreen to disarm critics until the Sexual Revolution had gained enough power to simply impose its views and silence all dissenters?  Or will an empowered left reclaim the classic "progressive" values of freedom of thought, speech, and expression along with freedom and protection for dissenters and minorities?  A Christianity Today article explores these issues HERE.

3) Jeb Bush's comments on Religion and Freedom:
In connection with #2 above, THIS article at The Federalist discusses Jeb Bush's comments about the positive contributions that Christianity has made to American culture (quoting everyone from Chesterton to MLKjr) and the importance of freedom of religion, as he tries to court evangelical voters at Liberty University.

4) Memorializing a good Oak Tree:
THIS piece at the ever-thought-provoking Front Porch Republic site explores our human condition in connection to place and time as it reflects on what to do when an historic oak tree at the center of town dies.

5) Finally, Why ISIS is winning:
And what the world should be doing to stop it, HERE.  I've been saying in conversations and on this blog that I believe ISIS and its allies form the most purely demonic political and military movement in our world since the days of Hitler and Stalin.  What is perhaps even more shocking than the rapid rise and expansion of ISIS - which by some estimates now has some 100,000 fighters and controls a territory the size of Indiana - is the halfhearted response of the West.  I understand the reasons for caution.  Our ill-conceived adventures in the Middle East are likely one factor that contributed to the rise of ISIS to begin with.  Yet surely the world's most powerful nation cannot stand by wringing its hands while the Islamic State establishes itself as a permanent 'state of Terror,' founded on the blood of tens of thousands of innocents, and implacably opposed to human rights for anyone and everyone who does not share their own ideology of militant Islam?

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