Maybe we got a little carried away on our birthday (I mean, there was a LOT of excessive punctuation in the birthday links). Or maybe blogs are like dogs and 10 is really 70 in “blog years,” and we’re struggling to come to grips with how old we’re feeling. Or maybe it’s just the weather. But in putting together these links, your Revealers-at-arms couldn’t help but feel like the bulk of the news out there at the minute is just so depressing.

Let’s get things started with this blast from the past: Lapham’s Quarterly recently republished Thomas Paine’s 1786 essay, “Alchemy By Other Means.” I don’t really know what to say about it, other than at least now we’ve got the internet. I guess.

Or take this follow-up from last week: Catholic Health Initiatives, the nominally Catholic entity whose lawyers defended the group in a medical malpractice lawsuit by arguing that unborn fetuses weren’t actually alive, has now reviewed the case and released a statement saying that such a defense (remember – a defense provided by their own lawyers) was “morally wrong.” Of course, that hasn’t stopped them from enjoying the benefits of the favorable verdict they received, as they claim to be putting together a different defense as the plaintiff seeks to take the case to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Of course, this whole fiasco is overshadowed by news coming from Remapping Debate, who commemorated the Roe anniversary by pointing out that states enacted more restrictions on abortion in 2011 (92) and 2012 (43) than they did in any other years (seriously, what happened in 2011?). For the scoop, as well as a highly informative (and beautifully designed) interactive graph showing restrictions by state, follow the link.

And if you’re curious as to just how conservatives managed such a political coup, friend of the family Kathryn Joyce has an excellent piece in On the Issues about Lila Rose’s contributions to the political climate and rhetoric around abortion that gets to the heart of the issue.

Despite all that rhetoric, the Obama administration has gone forward with a proposed rule clearly defining (and expanding) the types of organizations that can claim religious exemptions from the contraception mandate. So now, MORE organizations can opt out of offering the coverage. Yet. Planned Parenthood is happy with the new rule. And the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty isn’t. Confused? Me, too. Here’s Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches to explain.

As if ever-decreasing access to contraceptive care weren’t enough, Christianity Today has the news that deaths from Church attacks increased 36% in 2012. What’s more, the report also states that guns were used in 60% of all “deadly force incidents” at churches since 1999.

So naturally, The Arkansas House of Representatives passed the “Church Protection Act,” allowing individual churches to make the legal decision regarding carrying concealed weapons at their services. This can only end well, right?

But don’t think that all religious groups are reacting to the wave of gun violence by allowing their parishioners to unleash their inner Rambo. In fact, the Religious Action Center has set up a site asking believers of all different faith traditions to petition the government for stricter gun regulation. To check it out or get involved yourself go to faithscalling.org.

However, there are two groups whose members would have a hard time filling out the “religion” box on faithscalling’s  petition. Check here for the story of a Minnesota Megachurch actively shopping for a faith tradition, and here for the story of a subset of the Nigerian Igbo, who claim to be members of a lost tribe of Israel, even if the government of Israel will not recognize them as such.

To finish things off on a lighter note (considering we’re hoping you’ll keep enjoying this blog rather than feeling, after this links edition, burdened by it), the Catholic Church promoted affording legal rights and protections to gay couples in a statement on Monday. While the Vatican’s Council on the Family didn’t exactly come out in favor of allowing homosexuals to marry, it did suggest homosexual couples should be extended the same rights as married ones.
Nathan Schradle is a graduate student in the Religious Studies Program at New York University.
Image: www.cardingtonohio.com