Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival. Experts and activists say that as he consolidates his power, Xi is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.

Yanan Wang, of the Associated Press, has an excellent article detailing personal stories of recent persecution of Christians in China.   Required registration with the government, constant surveillance, and destruction of church property by government officials are just some of the consequences faced by religious citizens.  Read more here.

You can read the US State Department profile of China in the International Religious Freedom Report of 2017  here:  http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm?year=2017&dlid=280814

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fallenrome

It isn’t terribly provocative to note that the modern West seems to be going to way of other great civilizations trending towards decadence, corruption and immorality.  The West has more riches, more technology and more freedoms than ever before in the history of humanity.  Yet we seem content to follow in the footsteps of those great nations and empires who inevitably declined.  Why?

This week’s readings offer a view of how we have chosen for ourselves the means of our own decline.

Perhaps the most well known recent discussion of this problem is Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s essay, “Defining Deviancy Down.”  While focused on crime and family disfunction, it has a broader application to how the West has chosen to redefine conduct previously stigmatized as “abnormal” to be instead “normal” behavior.  This change in cultural norms, of course, has far reaching consequences.

This model can be applied to many aspects of modern life including politics (courtesy Daniel J. Flynn), sexual proclivity (courtesy Gary DeMar), religion (courtesy Daniel Jang) or even specific social choices such as abortion or torture (courtesy Mark Shea).  Together this “defining down,” or as previous generations would describe it, immorality, results in negative consequences for both individual and society.  If unchecked, the downward spiral continues until those virtues that made a group or nation successful are no more.

 

 

 

 

seaofsuicide

Melissa Mackenzie of the American Spectator has an excellent essay discussing “Twenty Reasons Mass Killings Happen.”  Her article includes links to several other discussions all arguing basically the same thing (albeit each with a different focus).  Our society is bent on destroying the individual through voluntary moral decay.  We choose evil over good with disastrous consequences.

samueljohnsonbyjoshuareynolds

Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds (1775)

 

A collection of random articles and essays that may challenge your perspectives on random topics.  We’ll start with a statistical analysis of life in the universe, or the lack thereof, in “Where Are All the Extraterrestrials?”  Next, we’ll come down to earth to explore “Social Justice: Not What You Think It Is.”  Since we are discussing belief systems, let’s consider “The New Testament: The World’s Only Unedited, Frameless, Correlative Anthology.”  Finally, let’s go back to the stars.  Do you know why you cannot ever stay in the same place for more than a moment?  Here’s why.  How’s that for a potpourri of mind-blowing readings?