Web Notables (Feb. 18, 2015)

By The Editors Published on February 18, 2015

“Web Notables” is a daily feature that highlights articles readers may want to see but might have missed. It is compiled by senior editor David Mills.

The Container That Built America, by Wayne Curtis in the Wall Street Journal. “The barrel is a small miracle: something made of wood without nails or glue, which can hold liquids almost indefinitely,” explains the reviewer, in a tribute to a neglected work of human ingenuity. It is “the container that built America.”

Ash Wednesday: Picking and Choosing our Piety, by Carl Trueman on the website Reformation21, published by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. The strongly Reformed Trueman, a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, objects to “evangelical pundits, with no affiliation to such branches of the church, writing articles extolling Lent’s virtues to their own eclectic constituency.” A “well-constructed worship service” and “an appropriately rich Reformed sacramentalism” should provide the same benefits as the imposition of ashes.

Here is a response, and here is Trueman’s response to the response. And if that’s not enough, here’s something else from The Stream on the subject of Ash Wednesday.

Modernity and Our American Heresies, by Peter Augustine Lawler in the quarterly The New Atlantis. “American liberalism is really a kind of technological nihilism. It is freedom for nothing in particular beyond power and control,” writes the political philosopher in a long paper on “the sorry state of our souls in America.”

Double-layered Veils and Despair . . . Women Describe Life Under Isis, by Mona Mahmood in the English newspaper The Guardian. ISIS has issued a “manifesto” describing the “realities of life and the hallowed existence of women in the Islamic State,” writes the journalist after telephone and skype interviews of women in the ISIS-held portions of Iraq. It allows girls to be married at nine and ruled

that women should only leave the house in exceptional circumstances and should remain “hidden and veiled.” . . . In Mosul, Isis published a charter within weeks of taking taking control of the city, restricting women’s movements and imposing dress requirements. Women were instructed to wear a Saudi-style black veil of two layers to conceal their eyes and a loose robe designed by Isis after it said some abayas revealed body outlines.

Insulting ISIS, by Marc Barnes on the blog Bad Catholic. “A post-Christian world has no vocabulary with which to insult a barbarian horde,” notes the author, a senior at the Franciscan University. “We are so busy deploring the evil-justifying tendencies in religion that we have become blind to the fact that only a fundamentally religious worldview can meet, insult, and reject a perversion of religion.”

“Pharmakeia,” Contraception, and the Interior Life, by George Sim Johnston on the website The Catholic Thing. The word “sorcery” that Paul lists among “the works of the flesh” in Galatians can mean both sorcery and contraception, argues Johnston, and this provides a way of understanding the traditional Catholic position. A good explanation for non-Catholics.

And also:

Linguist Rosemarie Ostlier explains Abraham Lincoln’s Success as a Writer.

Financial writer Matthew Lynn complains that the Church of England preaches “a woolly left-of-centre Keynesianism.”

Third-year medical student Aaron Rothstein asks why doctors tell “irreverent, dark, depressing, and, yes, immature” jokes.

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