Web Notables (March 3, 2015)

Heroic priests, the horrors of neo-optimism, the historical exodus, Obama's dishonest request, etc.

By The Editors Published on March 3, 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.

Priests and the Black Death, by Danièle Cybulskie from the Medievalists.net website. “During The Black Death of 1347 (and the years following), priests were faced with the task of stepping into sickrooms, knowing that they faced an unseen enemy that very likely would kill them shortly,” writes the “5 Minute Medievalist.” “That thousands of priests took those steps anyway, risking their lives to give hope and comfort to those in pain and fear is something I can’t help but admire all these centuries later.”

Global Harassment of Jews Has Reached a Seven-Year High, by Carol Kuruvilla on the Huffington Post website. According to a Pew Research Center report, “about a quarter of the world’s countries are still struggling to respect the religious minorities living with their borders. Jews have had it especially hard. Harassment of Jewish people was reported in 77 countries in 2013, the latest year for which data is available. That’s up from 71 countries in 2012.”

The Happiness Conspiracy, by Brian Appleyard in The New Statesman. Writing “against optimism and the cult of positive thinking,” the popular philosophical writer argues that “we are no longer allowed to be dark, ironic or, indeed, pessimistic. Neo-optimism is now as brutally enforced in Britain as it is in the United States.”

Was There an Exodus?, by Joshua Berman on the website Mosaic.  Though the historian can never prove such a case, explains an Israeli professor, there is good reason to accept that the Exodus really happened, including the parallels between one pharaoh’s inscriptions for  his victory at Kadesh and the biblical story. “In appropriating and ‘transvaluing’ that material, they [the Hebrew people] put forward the claim that the God of Israel had far outdone the greatest achievement of the greatest earthly potentate.”

He adds, noting how preconceptions affect how scholars read the evidence: “Tell me a scholar’s view on the historicity of the exodus, and I will likely be able to tell you how he voted in the last presidential election.”

Ronald Blythe, by Robert Grano on the website Light On Dark Water. What most appeals about this obscure English writer is “his work is his obvious love for everything he writes about — literature, nature, the cycle of the Church Year, his particular place in rural England. His writing exudes charity, in the original and best meaning of that word.” Grano, a freelance writer, says “In a way, he’s like a meeker, milder C. S. Lewis.”

President Obama’s Dishonest and Unconstitutional De-Authorization, by Michael Stokes Paulsen and Robert P. George on the website Public Discourse.  The president already has authorization to use military force against ISIL, argue two law professors. “The whole point of Obama’s painfully obvious ploy is to try to de-authorize the use of military force against ISIL.” He wants

to constrain, hamstring, limit, and hobble the war on terror directed against violent Islamist extremism: No combat ground troops; a three-year time limit on any use of force; a narrow definition of who counts as an ISIL ally or ‘associated force’ against whom (limited) force can be employed; and an explicit repeal of the separate 2002 authorization for use of force in Iraq.

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