Power of Prayer and Fasting, Ignoring Iraq's Christians & More: Thirty Things That Caught My Eye Today -- August 28, 2020


1. Chinese Embassy tweet about Uighurs and birth rate draws instant condemnation

2. Turkey presents new challenges a new president can’t overlook

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4. Tony Dungy and Benjamin Watson: A Call for Christian Revival in 2021

Problems that existed before the pandemic have only grown worse. Too many churches are too reluctant to point to biblical truth out of fear of criticism from secular culture. Others refrain from anything that would offend or challenge attendees. Some pastors, who are doing everything they can to keep their churches thriving, spend more time building Instagram followings than saving souls.

But God has a plan in all that he does, and it’s a good plan. There were many blessings in 2020 amid the hardships. Many people spent more time with immediate family. Millions have a greater appreciation for their children’s teachers, and this country’s love of sports was put in proper perspective. Last year was a helpful reminder that athletics is more about community than what happens between the white lines.

There is no guarantee that 2021 will be better, but Christians must step up.

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7. The Journey of Ashli Babbitt

Despite the ample warning that Babbitt and thousands of like-minded people would attend the #StopTheSteal rally on January 6, District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department Acting Chief Robert J. Contee III said that there was “no intelligence suggesting that there would be a breach of the U.S. Capitol”.

Yet the shooting of Ashli Babbitt was preceded by weeks of violent online discussions from the MAGA sphere, white supremacist groups and QAnon conspiracy theorists threatening to storm the Capitol building on January 6. These threats were made more credible by years of violent acts and rhetoric by right wing groups spurred on by the Trump administration.

8. New York Post: Gunman arrested after opening fire inside NYC hospital (Sloan Kettering)

9. New York Times: Why 300 Doses of Vaccine Sat Unused in Freezers for 2 Weeks

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11.This is what Trump told supporters before many stormed Capitol Hill

12. Tim Alberta: Jan. 6 Was 9 Weeks— And 4 Years— in the Making

I spend a lot of time around Trump voters. It’s a part of my everyday life, engaging with family and friends in Michigan. It’s been the heartbeat of my work in this election cycle, traversing America to figure out what ordinary folks are thinking about. I’ve learned a lot along the way. And there’s one conclusion of which I’m certain: The “fringe” of our politics no longer exists. Between the democratization of information and the diminished confidence in establishment politicians and institutions ranging from the media to corporate America, particularly on the right, there is no longer any buffer between mainstream thought and the extreme elements of our politics.

13. Noah Rothman: The Wages of Our Recklessness

14. He needed a police escort to get to his gate. This is wrong. 

15. Everyone is responsible for his own actions. But I listened to this man talk about being among those who stormed the Capitol Wednesday and thought: How dare you, Donald Trump. 

16.  John L. Allen Jr.: If Biden is to heal America, he’ll need his Church

. . . Catholicism is the lone major religious group in America where both sides of the nation’s political divide are roughly evenly represented. Overall, exit polls from the November election show that Catholics were almost evenly split between Biden and Trump, and those realities are readily apparent on Catholic social media platforms as well as traditional Catholic media outlets.

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Imagine if the Catholic Church in America took on as a national pastoral priority to promote a campaign of healing – not “dialogue,” in the sense of fostering political debate, but the pursuit of friendship across tribal lines. Catholics are one-quarter of the national population, and when Catholicism in America moves with unity and purpose, the cultural landscape can shift.

17. Greg Erlandson: Stepping Back from the Brink

18. Tish Harrison Warren: We Worship with the Magi, Not MAGA

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20. Anne Snyder: Sowing For Trust

When the media ceases to respect half of the society it covers, contempt no longer needs to conceal itself and human caricaturing need not be a source of journalistic shame. When our elders shy away from teaching the breadth of the world’s moral traditions and young adults go out into the world without normative frameworks to discern what’s true and false in an information avalanche, you get mass insecurity, anxiety, and overwhelm. When, in a toxic mix of privilege and institutional guilt, you find universities encouraging a generation to smack reductive labels on their fellow man, you see a civil society slow down in fear and conspiracy. When you don’t see anyone in public leadership endeavouring to disagree with grace, nor do you see anyone who looks like you or speaks like you, scapegoating starts to feel justified. Finally, when a society allows its collective brain to attend only to the political—whether the binaries of right and left or the transactional calculus at the heart of politics—you get a citizenry characterized by short fuses, disgust, resentment, and a lack of imagination. You get, in short, what we have.

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22. Daniel Darling: Resist the Pharisee Temptation on Social Media

For Christians, there is value in letting the world know where we stand, declaring the truth, and being ready to “give a defense to anyone” (1 Pet. 3:15). We shouldn’t hesitate to use our voices to stand up for the vulnerable and against injustice. And yet our words can so easily morph from prophetic witness to Pharisaical tribal signaling. In an era where it has become a cultural rite to declare that we’re on the right side of history on every issue, Christians are not immune to this. We are tempted to broadcast our own righteousness by letting everyone know—on social media, in articles and blogs, even in published books—that we are not like those other kinds of Christians.

23. Kay James: Amid Chaos, Our Resilient Republic Endures

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25. Daniel Cellucci: What if they don’t come back?

But what if things don’t go back to normal? That’s an easy one. We don’t want to go back to normal. Normal was a three-decade sacramental free-fall. Normal was 60-70% of those baptized no longer practicing the Faith at all. Sure, we don’t want to wear masks everywhere, and we don’t want people to be afraid. But if we remember where we were, back when it was “normal,” was it all that God wanted it to be?

This is our chance to ask “what if” and write a new story. What are you afraid to lose? We have to ask “what if” with the same confidence the early Church had. The answer to that question is the same as it was then. We can’t lose everything, because for us as disciples, nothing can change our real everything, which transcends time, space and conquers death. The most important things we have as believers remain the same — our identity and relationship as beloved children of the Father. So why not ask a different what if — what if God is calling me to something greater?

26. Ines A. Murzaku: Martyrdom “In The Hands Of God”

Theologically, the martyrdom of Judge Livatino is an indirect martyrdom of faith. This is a further instance of what JPII called the “new martyrs,” another model of martyrdom that arose during the 20th Century, when many died under conditions of ideological attack or large-scale social violence, even if at times indirectly related to the faith.

27. The Rebbe on Violence and the Pursuit of Justice

28. Nick Ripatrazone: How Teachers Can Foster a Space of Curiosity

So often in the classroom we merely need to give students a safe and encouraging space to generate ideas. Once students recognize that their experiences are often manifestations of deeper concerns, they become more engaged with the material. 

29. The antidote to doomscrolling and the quench of so much thirst

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