Monday Miscellany, 4/22/24

Monday Miscellany, 4/22/24 April 22, 2024

Ronald Reagan–and a Cranach subscriber–saved Israel (over Biden’s objections);  connection between the church slump and the surge in mental illness; and the Finnish Supreme Court will try the faithful Lutherans yet again.

Ronald Reagan–and a Cranach Subscriber–Saved Israel (Over Biden’s Objections)

Iran attacked Israel by launching hundreds of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and drones.  But 99% of them were shot down before doing any damage.  That is a remarkable success rate, saving countless lives.

Many of those were shot down by Israeli, American, British, and Jordanian aircraft–yes, pilots from the Palestinian state of Jordan, part of a coalition of Sunni Muslims opposed to Shi’ite Iran, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that provided help and intelligence in thwarting the Iranian attack.  But the biggest factor in protecting Israel from the massive barrage of missiles was the so-called “Iron Dome,” the air defense system that launches missiles to intercept incoming missiles, the equivalent of hitting a bullet with a bullet.

So the biggest hero of this defensive achievement has to be Ronald Reagan, whose Strategic Defense Initiative led to the development of this technology.  So says Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal.   Reagan’s 1983 proposal was mocked by Democrats as “Star Wars,” though the space-based elements of the project never materialized.  And one of its biggest critics was then Senator Joe Biden, who said,

“Star Wars represents a fundamental assault on the concepts, alliances and arms-control agreements that have buttressed American security for several decades, and the president’s continued adherence to it constitutes one of the most reckless and irresponsible acts in the history of modern statecraft.”

Now President Biden is taking credit for the success of Israel’s missile defense.

Much more worthy of credit is one of our own, your fellow Cranach subscriber Bob Foote, engineer extraordinaire and my cousin, who was part of the team that invented and implemented this amazing life-saving military technology!

Connection Between the Church Slump and the Surge in Mental Illness

The United States is seeing a dramatic rise in mental health problems, particularly (as we have blogged about) among teenagers and young adults.  The conventional wisdom is blaming cell phones and social media, but a Harvard public health professor is making a connection to the decline in religious involvement.

Ira Stoll at The Editors Substack quotes an article by Dr. Tyler VanderWeele in the journal Harvard Public Health:

Extrapolations from the Nurses’ Health Study data suggest that about 40 percent of the increasing suicide rate in the United States from 1999 to 2014 might be attributed to declines in attendance at religious services during this period. Another study suggested declining attendance from 1991 to 2019 accounted for 28 percent of the increase in depression among adolescents.

Vanderweele says there have been at least 215 reliable studies that suggest that “weekly religious service attendance is longitudinally associated with lower mortality risk, lower depression, less suicide, better cardiovascular disease survival, better health behaviors, and greater marital stabilityhappiness, and purpose in life.”

The Wall Street Journal has published an article by Clare Ansberry that comes to the same conclusion, citing further research, including international studies.

Finland’s Supreme Court Will Try the Faithful Lutherans Yet Again

We’ve posted many times about the faithful Lutheran Christians Dr. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola who were charged under Finland’s “war crimes and crimes against humanity” statute for citing what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Dr. Räsänen is a physician and member of parliament who in 2019 tweeted a criticism of the state church for being one of the sponsors of the LGBTQ Pride parade in which she quoted Bible verses.  Investigators also found a pamphlet on the Biblical teachings about marriage she had written in 2005 that disapproved of homosexuality.  The police also charged Bishop Pohjola, the leader of a confessional Lutheran church body with which the LCMS is in fellowship, for publishing the pamphlet.

The two were acquitted in their trial.  But in a country without the protection against “double jeopardy” that Americans enjoy as a constitutional right, prosecutors can appeal an acquittal until they get a guilty verdict!  The two were acquitted by the appellate court.  Prosecutors  appealed that ruling to Finland’s Supreme Court.

The hope was that the court would refuse to hear the case.  After all, two lower courts refused to convict the two, with the appeal court panel agreeing unanimously that they were innocent of the alleged “hate crime.”  Expressing a religious conviction does not constitute “hate,” and Finnish law does protect the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech.  And yet the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, which to me is not a good sign.

Dr. Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola have been put through this ordeal for five years and now must go through the pressure of a trial for the third time.  This is a clear example of the weaponization of the legal system.  Even if they are ultimately acquitted–prosecutors would have one more shot at them at the European Court of Human Rights–the trials themselves are the punishment, with the apparent intention of deterring anyone else from refusing to go along with the LGBTQ party line.




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