Recommended reading

I'd like to share a few interesting articles from around the web that I've been reading recently that are worth a look:

1) HERE is a piece that examines how the "Prayer After Communion" in The Book of Commmon Prayer can be read and understood in light of the Eucharistic theology of the great Medieval theologian, Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Emphasis is on how much common understanding of the Eucharist there can be between Roman Catholics (who tend to follow Thomas) and Anglicans.  Methodists, of course, inherit much of Anglican theology and liturgy, as we are an offshoot of Anglicanism.

2) HERE is a great little piece on the connections between freedom and the intellectual life and reading the classics.  I've been trying to get back into a more regular discipline of reading The Great Books (or at least excerpts from them) for the sake of improving my mind.
A year or two ago my mother got me an antique set of 10 volumes of "The World's Famous Orations," which contains a nice overview of famous and influential speeches from the legendary speech of Achilles in Book IX of The Illiad, down to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and beyond.
I recently read a speech by Edmund Burke: On Conciliation with America
Burke, an Irishman and member of British Parliament in the 1700s cautioned the British Parliament against a war against the American colonies.  I think his description of the American love of liberty - it's origins and character - is quite perceptive (and God willing, still holds true!).

3) An interesting article from Scientific American asserts that Science will never answer the philosophical question: "Why is there something rather than nothing," which is (in my view) one of the great basic questions that can turn our minds toward the contemplation of God.  Many insightful thinkers have long noted that - while Philosophy languishes as a discipline (with many colleges cutting it back or removing it altogether from their offerings) in our age of reliance on science and technology - science is always actually dependent upon philosophy for its first principles.

4) Many Libertarians will tell you that anti-discrimination laws are an unacceptable intrusion into and curtailment of our natural right to free association. Others argue that they are necessary in a diverse society to prevent "tyranny of the majority".  Recent Anti-discrimination laws and court rulings punishing religious believers for refusing to take part in 'gay weddings' have raised questions about how these laws may indeed impact our freedom to associate (or dissociate) with whomever we like.
So, THIS ARTICLE asks, if a Christian or Muslim baker is legally compelled to help celebrate a gay wedding by creating a wedding cake, does it follow that a Jewish baker is legally compelled (by anti-discrimination laws) to make a cake for a Nazi party?  After all, many of them ban discrimination based upon political ideology - and National Socialism is indeed a political ideology.

5) Along a slightly similar vein, This Article from The Federalist (more libertarians) presents Alexis de Tocqueville's critique of socialism, which may be timely food for thought given the popularity of Bernie Sanders, a self-described "Socialist Democrat."
A quote from the end of the article (which is really a quote from Tocqueville), expresses so very while why many of us distrust socialist or "nanny state" governments as essentially inimical to individual freedom and personal autonomy:
 A third and final trait, one which, in my eyes, best describes socialists of all schools and shades, is a profound opposition to personal liberty and scorn for individual reason, a complete contempt for the individual. They unceasingly attempt to mutilate, to curtail, to obstruct personal freedom in any and all ways. They hold that the State must not only act as the director of society, but must further be master of each man, and not only master, but keeper and trainer. For fear of allowing him to err, the State must place itself forever by his side, above him, around him, better to guide him, to maintain him, in a word, to confine him. 

6) I've written before about my concerns both about the militarization of our American Law Enforcement in recent years, as well as the erosion of the political power of Congress - the legislature being the branch of our government that is most broadly representative of the people and (for that reason) was entrusted with most of the power by the Framers of the Constitution.  THIS ARTICLE about the creeping militarization of American society and the rise of the imperial presidency resulting from our imperialistic policies overseas, touches indirectly on both issues.  Students of history know that Rome degenerated from a Republic to an Empire in the decades before the birth of Christ.  Numerous thinkers are now asking the USA: Are we farther down that same road than most people realize?

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Blogger Bill said...

I've long been concerned about the militarization of our culture too, especially as manifested in the militarization of police forces and the public's seeming reverence for all things military. Of course the founders saw standing armies as threats to liberty and something to be avoided wherever possible. Sometimes it feels like I'm living amid some martial cult.

Thanks for linking the piece, which I hadn't seen.

5:12 AM, June 20, 2016  

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