How has the “Standard Model” interpretation of the Second Amendment convinced us that we have a right to bear arms?  When their arguments are so inept?  Garry Wills at The New York Review of Books:

Time after time, in dreary expectable ways, the quotes bandied about by Standard Model scholars turn out to be truncated, removed from context, twisted, or applied to a debate different from that over the Second Amendment. Those who would argue with them soon tire of the chase from one misquotation to another, and dismiss the whole exercise—causing the angry reaction from Standard Modelers that they are not taken seriously. The problem is that taking them seriously is precisely what undermines their claims.

This week Pew released a new survey that examines religious populations around the world, by region, age, and majority or minority status.  God only knows how the survey was conducted (and I don’t just mean the What do they mean by Christian? question), yet there are tons of pretty graphs and interesting facts.  Go dig around in them.

Asprin, aisle 4.  The meaning of conscience has been so co-opted by institutions and corporations that reading a recent post at The National Catholic Register about an Illinois ruling on pharmacists’ rights is dizzying.  That and their misrepresentation of how Plan B works.  What the ruling does is allow pharmacy owners to object to selling certain drugs.  Makes sense you say?  We shouldn’t be forced to do what we don’t “morally” approve of?  Fine.  But once again we’re left to ask what rights citizens have.  Too often the answer is:  Bad woman!  Your need violates religious objectors!

Mergerwatch turns 15 this year.  Go give them some money!

Crisis Magazine explains how the world works, calls the Catholic Church “she,” and thrusts some seriously loopy logic into a discussion of the separation of church and state.  It’s so deliciously bad, you should read it:

In the last century Russia and Germany demonstrated how politics based on will can work out when the principle is taken with unmixed seriousness. Liberals are aware of the problem, but expect the principle of equal treatment to keep their system from becoming tyrannical. If everybody’s desires have to be treated equally, no one can tyrannize over anyone else, and the specter of totalitarianism is exorcised. Indeed, liberals believe their solution to oppression is the only one possible. A will’s a will, or so a liberal technocrat might say, so Catholics and others who deny the equal claim of all wills to satisfaction must be tyrants who want to impose their own will on everything.

From Guernica Daily:

As much as our –pocalypse habit calls to mind the gathering darkness, it is also self-consciously juvenile, always a bit tongue-in-cheek, naming every non-catastrophe with a wink and a nod. Before Sandy hit, we might have called it Frankenstorm—an inspiration for pre-hurricane Halloween costumes—but once it was here and clearly not just a *wink* BFD, but a seriously big fucking deal, the tone changed and the name was dropped.

Catholics for Choice has been doing some amazing work lately.  Here are two things you must check out.  The first is a new documentary called, “The Secret History of Sex, Choice and Catholics.”  Yes, I’ve plugged it before but you should go watch it.  Really.  It features Catholic theologians, professors and bioethicists including Mary Hunt, Drew’s Kate Ott, and USC’s Sheila Briggs.

The second is an investigative report, issued today, on the activities of the Cardinal Newman Society on Catholic university campuses.  I always think I’m anesthetized to wacky ultraconservative religious movements until I get a CNS letter in the mail, adorned with a beefy medieval crusader in full armor.  This report is something I’ve been dreaming about for years.  I’m glad CfC has taken up the necessary investigation.

Yes, thinking about the end of the world can be comforting!  From Daisy Yuhas at Scientific American:

There’s an even broader allure to knowing the precise end date. “Apocalyptic beliefs make existential threats—the fear of our mortality—predictable,” Lissek says. Lissek, in collaboration with National Institute of Mental Health neuroscientist Christian Grillon and colleagues, has found that when an unpleasant or painful experience, such as an electric shock, is predictable, we relax. The anxiety produced by uncertainty is gone. Knowing when the end will come doesn’t appeal equally to everyone, of course—but for many of us it’s paradoxically a reason to stop worrying.

“Syria is part of Iran,” B. declares. “They will never let it go.”

Christianity is about the conquest of death.  When you scour Andrew Sullivan’s archives at The Atlantic you find Ross Douthat commenting on our former books editor, Scott Korb.

“Naeem… has been told he must adhere to the [St. Louis Taxicab] commission’s rules requiring a white shirt, black pants and no kufi.”

There’s a campaign to kick Mormons out of Russia.

Yup, Jon Meacham and Cokie Roberts are my go-to experts on religious freedom and the founding fathers.  Carry on, PBS, making political conversation civil and nice (and meaningless).

What do “Amish Mafia” and World Wrestling Entertainment have in common?  Acting talent, apparently.

…As if being Catholic today somehow entailed siding with the world against the Church.  Some few remaining Catholics (most of whom must work at Crisis Magazine) have determined that contraception–or, as Kenneth D. Whitehead implies, even saying contraception–is anti-Catholic. He forgets that the Church leadership saw the world and drew a line.  It stood firm against women having a choice of when to have children.  Yet, women did choose; now 98% of Catholic women use contraception some time in their life.  But how does the Church get itself out of this pickle?  How does it reign in these wild, worldly women who shouldn’t even be saying the word?  Law.  And I don’t mean Church law.

Having anxiously weighed and examined the whole question, however—and, as it happened, also enjoying the assistance of the Holy Spirit—Pope John’s successor, Pope Paul VI, concluded in his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, that oral contraceptives did fall under the Church’s prohibition, and that each and every marriage act had to remain open to the transmission of life, as the Church had taught for centuries. The teaching could not be changed because it was true.

From Frances Kissling we’ve received word of Beverly Wildung Harrison’s death.  The “mother of Christian feminist ethics” was a Union Theological Seminary professor for more than three decades, and author of Our Right to Choose (1983) and Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics (1985).  Feminism and Religion has more.


Image: Vik Church, via