Web Notables (Feb. 26, 2015)

Bishops' advice, Republican foreign policy, difficult theologians, supermarkets, and ISIS

By The Editors Published on February 26, 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.

Good Sense and a Few Slip-ups in the Bishops’ Election Advice, by Peter Smith on the blog of the English newspaper The Catholic Herald. In giving advice about voting, the English Catholic bishops fail again to see the value of the market, Smith complains. On the other hand, they didn’t include “the common good” in the title as they have before, “itself a welcome relief as there are at least three other key principles of Catholic social teaching: human dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity. To the chagrin of many, the last concept has been quietly relegated in some previous documents, and the common good cheaply elided with the notion of solidarity.” The story offers parallels to American readers’ experience with church authorities speaking on politics.

Can the GOP Debate Foreign Policy?, by Jacob Heilbrun on the website of the journal The National Interest. Heilbrun, the editor of the journal, argues that Sen. Rand Paul could have forced Republicans really to debate foreign policy, but his attempt to reach out to his neoconservative opponents and other choices may prevent that.

Civil War Biblicism and the Demise of the Confederacy, by Eran Shalev on the website Readex. Shalev, who teaches history at Haifa University in Israel, discusses “American Old Testamentism,” the use of the Old Testament to explain America, most popular in the decades before the Civil War. For example,

Northerners equated the southern secession to biblical rebellions, notably to Absalom’s disastrous revolt against his father David, while southerners drew comfort in seeing themselves as the outnumbered kingdom of Judah led by Abijah and Asa, fighting the mightier and errant kingdom of Israel.

Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988), by “Grumpy” on the website Light On Dark Water. A theologian offers a short explanation of the work of the difficult and controversial Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Supermarkets Are the Problem, by Deborah A. Cohen on the website Medium. “Today, an estimated 30% of all supermarket sales can be attributed to end-of-aisle displays,” where grocery stores put the most unhealthy items, taking advantage of “marketing strategies that promote decision fatigue and impulse buying.”

ISIS Continues Its Assault on Christianity, by Joshua Keating on the web magazine Slate. “While no civilians have fared particularly well under ISIS’s rule,” writes Keating, a staff writer, “it’s been particularly catastrophic for religious minorities, including Shiites, Yazidis, and members of some of the world’s oldest Christian communities.” The articles includes many links to stories on the life of Christians under ISIS.

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