Louisiana court challenges seal of confession

We blogged about how Anglicans in Australia are doing away with the absolute “seal of confession”–that is, the pastor’s pledge of total confidentiality when they hear penitents confess their sins.  Now an American court is trying to do the same thing, forcing a Roman Catholic priest to testify about what he heard in the confessional from an accused child abuser. [UDATE:  In the very interesting discussion that is waging, Jeremiah pointed out that I got this wrong,  that it wasn't the confession of the abuser but that of the abused child that is at issue.] [Read more...]

Australian Anglicans repeal the seal of confession

The Anglican Church of Australia has voted to amend the canon on confession, which traditionally has required ministers to observe total confidentiality when people confess their sins.  Now, if penitents confess a crime, the pastor will be expected to rat them out to the police. [Read more...]

The Santa Barbara killings

Is there anything that can be said about the 22-year-old who killed six people–stabbing three, then shooting three more before killing himself–in Santa Barbara?  Elliott Rodger, the affluent son of the assistant director of the Hunger Games,  gave his reasons in a 171-page manifesto and a series of YouTube videos, but his motive comes down to his frustration that no women would have sex with him.

My impression is that this mass murder has to do with some unique pathologies of pop culture–a child of Hollywood who wanted to be a star, whose life was mostly in the media, and who was outraged that the easy sex of the movies wasn’t so easy for him. [Read more...]

The Nigerian schoolgirl kidnappings as Christian persecution

The public is rightly horrified by the kidnapping of some 276 Nigerian high school girls by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, which has announced its plans to sell them as sex slaves.  Missing from many of the news stories is that most of the girls are Christians (the majority of whom are members of the Christian Brethren church) and that the attacks are in the context of Boko Haram’s anti-Christian crusade.  [Read more...]

Less cash, less crime

Cash is portable, hard to trace, and universally-accepted, no questions asked.  Which makes it a good thing to steal.  There may be a relationship between the decline in the crime rate and the rise of debit-cards and other electronic means of exchange.  A study suggests this is the case in poor neighborhoods, ever since the welfare system replaced cashable checks with debit cards. [Read more...]

Jesse James meets the Second Amendment

If there should ever be a monument to the Second Amendment, it should be erected in Northfield, Minnesota. In this little college town in 1876, Jesse James and Cole Younger, with six other members of their gang, tried to rob the First National Bank, only to get shot up by an aroused citizenry.  I just finished reading a new book on the subject, Mark Lee Gardner’s Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape.

I knew about the Northfield raid and when I spoke at St. Olaf College a few years ago, my hosts took me to see the bank and the marks of the bullets that still adorn the downtown buildings.  But I did not know the details, nor did I know about the equally thrilling aftermath.  Gardner’s book, while being sober history, reads like an action thriller, but what I most took away from the book was a glimpse of something we don’t see all that much anymore; namely, a genuine community, whose members look out for each other, protect each other, and pull together for the common good. [Read more...]


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