Pope apologizes for Milton’s “slaughtered saints”

Pope Francis recently apologized to the Waldensians.  They had their beginnings in the 12th century, anticipating many of the teachings of the Reformation four hundred years later, which the group then joined.  The Waldensians suffered centuries of persecution from the Roman Catholic Church, culminating in the Easter massacre in the Piedmont of Italy in 1655, when some 1,700 men, women, children, and infants were slaughtered in the most brutal ways imaginable.  (See the Wikipedia article linked, above.)

Read this chilling 17th-century catalogue of the atrocities.  Then, after the jump, read the sonnet that John Milton wrote about this mass martyrdom, given, along with a news story about the Pope’s asking for forgiveness from the 30,000 Waldensians still in Italy.  (There are more in Germany, the United States, Uruguay, and the the Pope’s native Argentina.) [Read more...]

The Declaration of Independence and natural law

Legal scholar Randy Barnett offer a fascinating section by section reading of the Declaration of Independence, which he says succinctly states the political theory of the American founding.  He summarizes it this way:

  • The rights of individuals do not originate with any government, but pre-exist its formation.
  • The protection of these rights is both the purpose and first duty of government.
  • Even after government is formed, these rights provide a standard by which its performance is measured and, in extreme cases, its systemic failure to protect rights—or its systematic violation of rights—can justify its alteration or abolition.
  • At least some of these rights are so fundamental that they are “inalienable,” meaning they are so intimately connected to one’s nature as a human being that they cannot be transferred to another even if one consents to do so.

But I’d like to draw your attention to his exposition of the first paragraph and his explanation of “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”  In quoting a clergyman of the time, he gives a helpful explanation of what we mean by that much-misunderstood concept of “natural law,” as well as showing how that was a fundamental assumption of the American founders. [Read more...]

What a week

Last week the Pope ruled in favor of environmentalism.  The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Obamacare.  And then the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage.  Bad week for conservatives. [Read more...]

What woman should go on the $10 bill?

The Department of the Treasury has announced that a portrait of a woman will be featured in a new design of the $10 bill.  (According to the website FAQs, Alexander Hamilton–an architect of the Constitution, a designer of the U.S. economic system–will still have a place somewhere on the currency.)  The department is soliciting suggestions as to what woman to portray.  Here are the criteria:

Democracy is the theme for the next redesigned series and the Secretary will select a woman recognized by the public who was a champion for democracy in the United States. The person should be iconic and have made a significant contribution to — or impact on — protecting the freedoms on which our nation was founded.  By law, only a portrait of a deceased person may be included on banknotes.

For more details about the change and to offer your suggestion, go here.

So what woman do YOU think should be on the $10 bill? [Read more...]

Christianity and the Magna Carta

Yesterday was the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, which established the principle of the Rule of Law, to which even kings and other rulers are subject.  What often gets forgotten, as Eric Metaxas points out, is that the Magna Carta was a creation of the Christian church. [Read more...]

Luther on sex

The younger generation, as has been said, always thinks that it has invented sex.  And those who “don’t know much about history” seem to think that sex and sexual issues are contemporary phenomena.  So the editors at Salon are giddy to learn what Martin Luther wrote about sex.

Reading from a new book about Luther that discusses the reformer’s critique of mandatory celibacy for those in religious orders, his criticism of canon laws restricting and regulating marriage, and his defense of marriage as a vocation–which has to include a defense of its defining action–Salon reprints an excerpt  under the headline “Martin Luther’s pro-sex shocker” and the deck “Centuries ago, Martin Luther’s ideas were way ahead of their time.”

Well, Luther was advocating marriage and criticizing the sex outside of marriage that was rampant in his time, particularly among those forced into celibacy who lacked that gift.  (Some priests rationalized their use of prostitutes by thinking “at least I’m not married,” so I am merely fornicating and not forsaking my vow.)

True, Luther believed that regulating marriage was the business of the state, not the church, which would put him against those who think we should just leave marriage to the church and keep the state out of it.  And he was rethinking what the parameters about divorce, etc., should be in the absence of canon law.  But his frank talk about sex is not “ahead of his time,” as anyone who reads old books can attest.  People weren’t squeamish about talking about the subject until the Victorian era of the 19th century.

Anyway, his views are interesting, so I link to and quote from Salon’s sampling from James Reston’s new book.

[Read more...]


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