Christian News Sources

Recently I came across a new site called the Daily Christian Reader, and I was impressed that it’s a site intent on gathering together a mix of Christian news, news important to Christians, Christian thought, and even doses of humor. 🙂 I was even more impressed that the site has a section for Eastern Orthodoxy, which is rare in the United States, considering what a small minority of the population we constitute.

Unfortunately, a lot of the “mainstream media” has become more and more hostile to Christians and Christian belief. Not only that, but reporters seem to be ever more estranged from practicing Christians, which leads to a lot of mistakes in reporting, such as the New York Times’ Paris correspondent confusing the “Blessed Sacrament” and “statue of Jesus” in reporting of the fire at Notre Dame. There’s even a whole site called “Get Religion” which aims at digging a little deeper into (generally) flawed mainstream media coverage of religious issues.

True, most newspapers no longer have a religion “beat”. However, that’s no excuse for the New York Times’ Vatican correspondent misunderstanding the significance of Easter – twice!

As it is, here’s a short guide to some of the best sites for news for a Christian audience. Please feel free to comment with any more suggestions.

Aggregators

  • Daily Christian Reader – As mentioned before, it’s a new site, and they’re trying to become a portal to fill this niche of Christian news sites
  • Christian Daily Reporter – A “Drudge Report” style page founded by Adam Ford, the founder of the Babylon Bee and the Adam4d comic.
  • Real Clear Religion – From the organization behind the Real Clear suite of websites, including Real Clear Politics, it’s really gone down in quality, and these days, I don’t even think it’s updated daily anymore.
  • Orthodox Collective – This is an uncurated blog aggregation site, and most of the sites are not actually news sites. However, because it pulls information from Orthodox sources all over, it ends up being one of the first places to “pick up” news in the Orthodox world, regardless of jurisdiction.

Original Content

  • Life Site News – High-quality site with reports about “life” issues and ethics. While not a Catholic Church organization, they feature a “Catholic” edition as well. They’ve also found themselves target of deplatforming efforts as well as smear campaigns to label them “untrustworthy” or “fake news”.
  • Daily Wire – I’ve been noticing this site get more and more attention for their reporting.
  • Daily Signal – One of the few Protestant publications that I’ve found that is still readable.
  • Daily Mail Online – By no means is this a Christian site, and their writers are somewhat antagonistic to Christian faith that clashes with mainstream culture. However, they have tons and tons of content, and very often will have some sort of article where most other news outlets do not. (Then again, dress codes at Catholic school dances can hardly be classified as “news” either, so proceed with caution.)

Christian Persecution

News From Commentary

  • Rod Dreher – I often don’t agree with the man politically, but he’s certainly worth reading for stories Christian Culture, particularly in the West.
  • Monomakhos – For goings-on in the Orthodox Church in the United States. Again, I don’t subscribe to every opinion written here, but both in the posts and in the comments, there’s a lot of information that perhaps would get lost elsewhere.

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If I’m not happy, then no one ought be happy

I think everyone, in the course of their lives, comes to meet the type of person who, when upset, not only lets everyone know that they are upset, but takes it as an affront if someone around them is happy and has the temerity not to be bowed by the upset person’s demands. Hopefully, you have not had to live with this type of person, as it’s an absolute nightmare. It’s tyrannical. One has to be constantly aware of the tyrant’s mood and mood swings. A wayward giggle, let loose in a moment of mistakenly letting down one’s guard, can be the impetus for a blow-up by the other, even if the momentary outburst of mirth had nothing to do with the person who is upset.

Bookworm over at Bookworm Room states the following in here most recent post “The LGBTQetc people I know are open about their hatred for traditional Christians and Jews because they view those religious traditions as homophobic.” This certainly may be true, to a large extent. However, I had two other thoughts that I think may also be valid here.

First off, there is Jesus’ promise of persecution to his followers – in John 15:18 for example, where “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (NKJV). In a less religious sense, one could even propose that when one rejects what is represented by the Judeo-Christian God – Truth, Love, Order, to name a few – one must necessarily put themselves on the other side. And since people don’t want to think of themselves as “bad” people, those things that work to reveal that one is “bad” must be destroyed.

However, I think there’s something else too. I’m near to entering my fourth decade on this planet, and I really think that my generation was the beginning of the generation where “broken” childhoods became the norm. Of all my friends growing up, there were very few that didn’t have some sort of major trauma. It wasn’t just divorce, but divorce was often the beginning of it, but led to things like abandonment, neglect, and abuse. There was very little “safety net” of family, much less other social structures, be it church, social organizations, what have you. For the most part, the adults around us, when we were brave enough to say something, seemed to put their fingers in their ears and loudly repeat over and over again, “That can’t be true – your parents have to love you,” drowning out our voices. One of my teachers once asked our class – a very good class at a very good high school round about 1995 – how many of us lived at home with our married, biological parents. Out of the 28 or so of us, I think about three hands were raised. Of course, some of this can’t be helped. A couple kids did have parents who died. The vast majority of us were bearing scars of so much more.

The next door neighbor kids, for example… We kids knew to stay away from their dad, as he was a really mean guy. Eventually, the parents start having some troubles, and dad threatens mom with a gun, and were it not for mom’s brother and other family in the room, they were sure he would have killed her. The parents divorce, dad remarries and… second wife ends up murdered as they’re finalizing a divorce. Or a friend whose mother completely abandoned the family and whose father came after him with a samurai sword. Or even my own life where I lived in constant fear of one of the parental units, who eventually did snap, but faced very little in the way of repercussions; even when I dared to tell people what was going on, a common response was to assume that somehow I was being overdramatic, after all, “What kind of parent does that?” Hearing verse five of Don McLean’s song “American Pie”, when he sang “and we were all in one place/a generation lost in space/with no time left to start again”, it seemed as though he was better describing our generation than his.

Then again, that song really captures a lot of the chaos of the late 1960s, and this was the time in which our parents came of age. We were the first children of that, the children who were the victims of parents who had thrown off such “outdated” notions as duty and responsibility. Who were we, the children, to complain if all of these ridiculous choices they made hurt us the most? It’s not to say that people along the way haven’t always made bad choices, but it seems, for the first time, that we, as a society got to the point where it refuses to call out bad behavior about “small things” because of a crazy notion of “sounding judgemental” which morphed into not calling out bad behavior on “big things” because no one can draw a distinct line between the two.

As a result, from the kids born in the mid 1970s and sooner, a lot of us have grown up in miserable circumstances and with a really questionable sense of morality. I am sure we are a lot unhappier, as a group, than pretty much any generation (in the United States, at least) before us. It’s easy to make fun of us, particularly because it’s not like we went through a total war or famine or even material deprivation. But we grew up without those traditional “structures” – faith, family, civic pride, or what have you – that help give a person a sense that their life has purpose and meaning.

Yet, there are the people who still have that, and who still cling really, really tightly to these things. Religion is a HUGE part of that. Study after study has shown that, as a whole, actively religious people tend to be happier than non-religious people. It’s not that simply going to church makes one a happier person, but, in my opinion, that those that order their their lives around more permanent “structures” necessarily have a different perspective on life and generally don’t carry as much anguish, in particular in regard to whether this whole “life” thing can be explained as “Life’s a b****, and then you die.”

The thing is, for a lot of people then, because they are unhappy, almost unbearably so, those around them that are happier must be made to suffer. One very effective way to try to do this is to try to destroy that which makes the other happy, a function of envy. It’s like if one child receives a special present of a bicycle and another child is so angry that the bicycle does not belong to him, he’s got to break it beyond hope of repair to make the owner of the bicycle as upset as he is. And so, those institutions – church, family, civic pride – must be consistently attacked, “brought down”. The adherents must be made to see how “false” these things are, must be made to feel the pain of those who don’t have them to start out with… it’s revenge, but more than that, it’s white-hot rage of feral children against an unknown, uncaring, unfair, extremely cruel world. The LGBTQetc is a convenient premise, but even if it were “resolved” tomorrow, tomorrow already there would be another issue to use to try to tear down the “happier” people.

I think that what a lot of people miss here is that people who are happier generally build their own happiness. They learn to put their minds in a place where they can be satisfied with what they have, but also strive to make things a little better, not necessarily for themselves, but for their families, friends, and communities. The “structures” of family, faith, and civic service bind people together into cohesive societies, capable of weathering good times and bad. It is extremely difficult for those of us who really grew up without this to imagine, but these things are not exclusive to those “born with them”. Each one of us makes the decisions daily, the result of which becomes the threads of the tapestry of a life. I have seen friends of mine make horrible decisions and rail at “the system” for the consequences. But I have also seen people who have had really rough childhoods take a step back and really do better in their own adult lives. Without some sort of structure, though, this wouldn’t be possible, and the whole society would devolve into chaos. The good news is that there is hope for each one of us. 🙂

Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen – Remembering William Christopher

If it weren’t for the part of Father Mulcahy in the television show M*A*S*H, it’s hard to say if the death of actor William Christopher would be one “of note”. However, as Loretta Swit is quoted, “He became TV’s quintessential padre as Father Mulcahy on M.A.S.H. It was the most perfect casting ever known”

The character Father Mulcahy was quite a bit different in the book upon which the movie and television series were based on, as well as even the pilot to the series. First credit must be given to the M*A*S*H writers for creating a character that was religious but not a religious parody or caricature; someone set in a place of constant struggle and suffering, but who had not given up hope; a man who strove toward virtue, but was aware of the faults of his comrades and loved the sinners whom he served; someone with a unshakable faith and quiet strength of character rather than a hypocrite or acting in a holier-than-thou manner. In the history of television, it is incredibly rare to find a member of the clergy written with such depth and care, and even more extraordinary is finding it in a show that was not meant to be in any way religious. Mr. Christopher rose to the occasion, even in limited screen time managing to embody this character well, portraying the nuances above, but also keeping the character of Fr. Mulcahy human, interesting, and relatable.

That being said, Mr. Christopher was not just merely a good actor, someone who could take a well-written script and play it well. While good writing can certainly help a show, it is a process that doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Especially in long-running series, the writers don’t just write a character, but often write a character for a specific actor, allowing the actual personality of the actor shine through. I never met the man, but William Christopher always struck me as an especially kind and good person, like Fr. Mulcahy, and while the writing for Fr. Mulcahy in the series remained consistent, Mr. Christopher never allowed himself to play the part with any sort of creeping cynicism or irony. He very much demonstrated the types of qualities that make chaplains important – faith in God, love of people, patience, humor, and self-sacrifice, to name a few.

In his own life, though, Mr. Christopher and his wife Barbara were married in 1957, and ended up adopting two boys. The younger of the two, Ned, was eventually diagnosed with autism. Rather than accepting the idea that Ned was retarded and disabled beyond help, the family struggled through many years of trying to figure out what the actual issue(s) were and in finding treatment that would help him. In the 1980s, the Christophers wrote a book, Mixed Blessings that chronicles that journey. William and Barbara stayed together throughout, only death bringing an end to their nearly 60-year marriage. There is an episode of M*A*S*H from Season 4, Dear Mildred, where Fr. Mulcahy ends up in a performance singing with a couple of women who are either nurses or nuns. While I was watching, there was the way that he just looked at the one woman, as if he were totally smitten and in love with her, and I couldn’t help but thinking, “Oh, Fr. Mulcahy, you have to be careful there or people will get the wrong idea”. In reading Mixed Blessings, I learned that this woman was his wife. Furthermore, when one considers that by this time they had been married well over 15 years and were going through all the issues with their son, it’s even more amazing that even through all of that, this look of true love and adoration could not be quelled. Things like this lead me to believe that besides being a good actor, he was truly a good man as well.

In today’s world, where celebrity deaths often bring about days of maudlin public mourning; I doubt Mr. Christopher’s death will be considered ‘great’ enough to set off such a grotesque public spectacle. Better so. However, of all the celebrity deaths of 2016, it is his that is the only one that saddens me on a personal level. As is now customary after a celebrity death announcement, the tweeting of tributes has commenced, and while most will always be of little substance, the one by Alan Alda, star of the show M*A*S*H, is as touching as it is succinct; “His pals from #Mash miss Bill powerfully. His kind strength, his grace and gentle humor weren’t acted. They were Bill. #WilliamChristopher”.

Daily Mail Hit-Piece on Religious Practice

The Daily Mail, a newspaper from the United Kingdom, and one of the most widely-read online newspapers in the world, recently posted the story of an Indian girl by the name of Aradhana Samdhariya, a 13-year-old who died, allegedly as the result of taking part of a religious fast. The article begins thus:

“A 13-year-old girl died in Hyderabad after she was forced to fast for 64 days as part of a community ritual of fasting during the holy period of Chaturmas.

The city police launched an inquiry into the incident after a child rights NGO demanded a probe.”

Chaturmas is a Jain period of fasting, but not knowing much about Jainism (about .4% of Indians identify as Jains), I have no idea what this fasting entails. Orthodox Christians, for example, often fast by reducing the amount of food eaten and eliminating certain foods, but it is almost unheard of to try to completely abstain from food during all the Orthodox fasting periods. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast completely, but only from sunup to sundown. Unfortunately, no explanation of what a typical fast for Chaturmas looks like is provided. In one book reference I found, albeit referencing Chaturmas in a Hindu context, it describes the Chaturmas fast as a period of cutting back, not necessarily of eating nothing for the entire period.

The article also says the girl was forced to participate by the family and community. However, in a Reuters article covering the same topic, it states that, according to the parents, the girl was a willing participant, and that she had completed a similar fast last year.

One huge discrepancy between the two articles is that the Daily Mail claims that the girl was only in the third day of the fast when her blood pressure dropped precipitously, and was then taken to the hospital, where she died. The Reuters article claims that everyone was already celebrating the end of the fast, which had been completed the day before the girl died. If the Daily Mail is correct, it is almost certain that another medical issue was at play here, as a healthy 13-year-old would probably be hungry from not eating anything for three days, but may even handle it better than an adult. As for the longer number, one has to assume that it wasn’t a complete fast, and without further information, it’s hard to make any judgement on what actually happened.

I also put the following things out for consideration: This girl lived in India. From the pictures, she was quite beautiful, and it looks as though her family treated her well. Consider, too, that in India, daughters are often considered a liability, and by their teens, many are working in terrible conditions trying to survive or have been married off. This girl was still attending school – a Catholic one at that – and was in the 10th grade. In this type of culture, had the parents not cared, why go through the bother and expense of educating her? Was no one at her school aware of what was going on? Again, this is a point where the articles differ, but the Daily Mail also claims that once the girl’s blood pressure dropped, she was taken to the hospital. If this was truly murder, as some have characterized it, why go through the trouble and expense.

The fact of the matter is is that this type of story is written and disseminated in large part to try to discredit religion and to ridicule those observing religious practice outside of designated places of worship. The Daily Mail piece is self-contradictory and poorly written, but serves as a place for commenters to denounce religion and congratulate themselves for being so ‘reasonable’ rather than religious. For this reason, I consider the article a ‘hit-piece’. Considering all the children in India who live in deplorable conditions, I have a hard time understanding why this case is garnering so much attention, including calls from an NGO to have the parents arrested for murder and their other daughters removed from their custody. The Reuters article even has a quote from an area politician. Call me cynical, but when the politicians get involved, it leads me to suspect that the uproar over this case may have more to do with certain Hindu political factions that are intolerant of minority religions in India more than anything else.

The sad thing is that sometimes children will die, some even in ‘preventable’ deaths. But even in the case of ‘preventable’ deaths, it doesn’t mean that a death was deliberate or could have been foreseen. This is a tragic story, yes, but hardly the outrage that many seem to make it out to be.

(As for outrage and barbaric practices involving children, check out this story pertaining to Ashura Warning: extremely disturbing images), also from India and reported by the Daily Mail as well as highlighting India’s minority religions, but which the Daily Mail has no ‘expert’ or politician denounce.)