The Charlie Hebdo massacre, and secularism’s problem with Islam  ✂︎

Michael Brendan Dougherty writing for The Week:

The taboos of secularism interlock in other odd ways. Modern Western secularists feel no anxiety whatsoever when they encounter harsh criticism and satire of Christianity. But if you offer a particularly barbed remark about Islam among the enlightened, someone will ask you to politely agree that Christianity is just as bad. And ironically, this instinct to protect the powerless is a leftover instinct of Christian civilization, which put sayings like “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last” at the heart of its worship and moral imagination.

We used to say of comedians, “He can make that joke, because he’s Jewish.” In this respect, the Western world’s comfort with attacking Christianity is an inadvertent admission that Christianity is “our” religion. And so it elicits from us none of the respect, deference, or fear we give to strangers. Viewed this way, secularism looks less like universal principle than a moral and theological critique derived from Christian sources and pitched back at Christian authorities.

Notes on the Celebrity Data Theft  ✂︎

Nik Cubrilovic:

At least a dozen celebrities were affected by the photo dumps, with over 400 individual images and videos. A list of celebrity names published anonymously, and serving as something akin to a sales brochure, suggests that over 100 have had their personal data compromised.

After this story broke I spent some time immersed in the crazy, obsessive subculture of celebrity nudes and revenge porn trying to work out what they were doing, how they were doing it and what could be learned from it.

1. What we see in the public with these hacking incidents seems to only be scratching the surface. There are entire communities and trading networks where the data that is stolen remains private and is rarely shared with the public. The networks are broken down horizontally with specific people carrying out specific roles, loosely organized across a large number of sites (both clearnet and darknet) with most organization and communication taking place in private (email, IM)…

Perhaps more disturbing than the technical details of this hack is the underlying subculture that drove it.

Consecrated Host at center of “black mass” returned  ✂︎

Archbishop Coakley:

I am relieved that we have been able to secure the return of the sacred Host, and that we have prevented its desecration as part of a planned satanic ritual,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. “I remain concerned about the dark powers that this satanic worship invites into our community and the spiritual danger that this poses to all who are involved in it, directly or indirectly.

“Prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom”  ✂︎

A letter written to Marquette Magazine by James Foley, the journalist captured and apparently murdered by ISIS, about his time as a captive in Libya:

I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. 
I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.

Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.


“If you at some time felt you could not go forward, I would do the same!”  ✂︎

America Magazine quoting Pope Francis on the “institution” of the emeritus pope:

I think that the emeritus pope is already an institution because our life gets longer and at a certain age there isn’t the capacity to govern well because the body gets tired, and maybe one’s health is good but there isn’t the capacity to carry forward all the problems of a government like that of the church. I think that Pope Benedict made this gesture of emeritus popes. May, as I said before, some theologian may say this is not right, but I think this way. The centuries will tell us if this so or not. Let’s see.

How to Be Polite  ✂︎

Filed under “lessons I need to learn,” Paul Ford looks at the art and effect of politeness:

(Warning: A small portion of the linked article is rated R.)

People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing. The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don’t need to make a judgment. I know that doesn’t sound like liberation, because we live and work in an opinion-based economy. But it is. Not having an opinion means not having an obligation. And not being obligated is one of the sweetest of life’s riches.

(via Daring Fireball)

What Does the Church Teach about Suicide?  ✂︎

In light of the tragic death of Robin Williams, a lot of questions about depression and suicide have been asked.  Simcha Fisher, writing for the National Catholic Register, looks at the Catholic Church’s oft-misunderstood teaching on such a sad circumstance:

The act itself is always a grave matter; but for an action to be a mortal sin, the person must know that it is a grave matter, and he must do it voluntarily. The modern Church understands that depression and other psychological disturbances that might lead a person to suicide are true illnesses, which can significantly mitigate both a person’s understanding and free will.

“All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes…”  ✂︎

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue lays down a stern challenge to Muslim leaders:

The plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic communities that are numeric minorities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, those engaged in interfaith dialogue and everyone of goodwill.

Educated and Religious  ✂︎

Scott Jaschik on the seeming reversal in college students losing their religion when they get on campus:

“College education is no longer a faith-killer,” said Philip Schwadel, author of the paper and associate professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Schwadel thinks there may be several explanations for the shift. One is that the 20th century saw a significant expansion in the percentage of Americans who go to college, so many groups — some with strong religious identities — came to be represented in higher education in ways that were not previously the case.

Further, he said that colleges (religious and secular) are more likely to have many offerings for students of a range of faiths. “There is a lot more opportunity now to maintain religious identity on campus,” he said.

Respondents were asked “simply whether they had a religious affiliation.”  Having a religious affiliation and actually practicing the tenets of a particular faith are two very different things, but this is a positive sign nonetheless.

(Via Marginal Revolution)