Web Notables (Feb. 6, 2015)

Prayers of lament and complaint, the greatness of Solzhenitsyn, gender identity, etc.

By The Editors Published on February 6, 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.

Lament: Self-Indulgent Whining, or Faithful Complaints?, from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ website Reformation21. “When I was diagnosed with incurable cancer at the age of 39, I opened up my Bible to find models for prayer, and there they were: complaints, left and right,” writes J. Todd Billings, a professor of theology at Western Theological Seminary. As he read the Psalms, he realized that “In a Christianity always seeking to be upbeat, centered on helping us to discover and fulfill our dreams, I had missed the centrality of lament: raw complaints and protests before the Lord.”

Solzhenitsyn’s Permanence, from the journal The New Criterion.  The once popular writer lost elite approval when he denounced moral relativism at Harvard, and was then demonized as an “Orthodox Christian ayatollah.” Daniel J. Mahoney’s new book, The Other Solzhenitsyn, shows that he was in fact “a man of faith and reason, moderation, and commitment to freedom and the truth,” writes Brian Anderson. He was not, for example, the Russian nationalist many accused him of being.

“Patriotism means unqualified and unswerving love for the nation,” he [Solzhenitsyn] wrote in The Russian Question, “which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins.” . . . “[T]he aims of a great empire and the moral health of the people are incompatible.” Indeed, moral health for Russia, and for all nations, required “repentance and self-limitation,” not the aggressive pursuit of power.

Libertarians Have a History of Horrifying Views on Parenting, from The New Republic. Major libertarian philosophers denied that parents have duties to their children, observes Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig. Murray Rothbard, for example, held that no one has the right “to compel someone to do a positive act” and therefore “the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die.” He did allow that a parent “may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so.”

Children Aren’t Trophies (No Matter How Many You Have), from the Catholic website Aleteia. A mother of six, Cari Donaldson writes of the pain of Catholic mothers who wanted big families but couldn’t have them. Other Catholics start speaking of children in a way that “strips [away] the amazing uniqueness of children and turns them into a tally sheet. . . . Children stop being important because they are unique souls made in the image and likeness of God, but rather important because they signal a resistance to snares of the devil that we just backed ourselves right into.”

The Girl in the Tuxedo: Two Variations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, from the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse. Jean Lloyd imagines what the teenager struggling with her sexual or gender identity would experience in 1985 and 2015. She was challenged in 1985. In 2015, she would be encouraged, but in one direction:

With her consent, her therapist is legally permitted and professionally encouraged to help her begin socially transitioning from female to male. Eventual sex reassignment surgery is an option, depending on insurance coverage and personal resources.

Now there is no therapeutic imperative to help her accept herself as she is because she was “born this way,” as there would be regarding her same-sex attraction. For biological sex is not sacrosanct, as inner sensibilities or attractions are (faith or moral sensibilities excepted, of course). The subjective trumps the objective.

See also Lloyd’s Seven Things I Wish My Pastor Knew About My Homosexuality, also from Public Discourse.

And also:

A quiz from the website Consumerist on which personal names for famous products are real and which made up.

Princeton professor Anthony Grafton on Latin’s comeback among his students.

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