Twenty Things That Caught My Eye Today

Justo Gallego in 2003 (Susana Vera/Reuters)

1. Hindu Nationalists Hit Indian Christians With Anti-Conversion ‘Christmas Whammy’

On Dec. 21 the Hindu nationalist government of the Indian state of Karnataka introduced harsh legislation intended to prevent conversions from Hinduism to other faiths.

2. China’s latest crackdown targets religion on the web, only allows state-sanctioned groups

3. Carmelite Provincial in Beirut: people in Lebanon are losing hope

4.  The Devastating Reality of Suicide Contagion

This video needs to be seen — assisted suicide is a poison that preys on the suffering and leads to an increase in suicide for people who were not otherwise dying.

5. Pro-Lifers Raise Safety Concerns, Push Back at the State Level Following FDA’s Removal of Restrictions on Abortion Pill

The FDA’s move “puts countless women and unborn children in danger,” Sue Liebel, policy director at the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, warned. “Women who take chemical abortion pills are significantly more at risk of serious complications and more likely to require a visit to the emergency room.”

6. The Abortion Policy Landscape Is More Dynamic than Ever: What Americans Need to Know

7. Argentina, Uruguay bishops fight push for euthanasia in their countries

Euthanasia might soon be legalized in Uruguay and Argentina, which could have a domino effect in the world’s most Catholic continent, where the practice is banned everywhere but in Colombia.

8. Billie Eilish’s exposure to porn is unfortunately common — and destructive

Billie Eilish is wise beyond her years. At the age of only 19, the singer recently told Howard Stern that pornography “destroyed my brain.” She was only 11 when she started watching explicit videos and then, she said, “It got to a point where I couldn’t watch anything else unless it was violent. I didn’t think it was attractive.”

Eleven is actually the average age, according to some surveys, at which children encounter porn for this first time. And as Eilish explained, it has a real impact on the way young people understand and behave in relationships. She told Stern: “I was a virgin. I had never done anything. And so, it led to problems. … The first few times I had sex, I was not saying no to things that were not good. It was because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be attracted to.”

It is not uncommon to hear the problems of pornography use and addiction minimized by people who say they too watched it as kids and it had little discernible effect. Just like kids were bullied before social media, so men objectified women before OnlyFans. But the variety and accessibility of pornography have increased so much that we have entered new territory. In their 2011 book “Premarital Sex is America,” Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker wrote that pornography altered the dating marketplace by significantly changing the kinds of sexual activities women would engage in and the kind of activities men expected, such as violent and degrading acts.

9. The U.S. Has an International Religious Freedom Ambassador

10. 5 Questions with Family Studies: Stephen Kendrick on Healing From Our Father Wounds

11. Brookings, Ore. bans churches from serving meals more than twice a week

12. Feed the Hungry? You’ll Need a Permit for That.

13. Stephen P. White:

The love of a parent for a child reveals something about the love of God the Father in a way no other human love does. If you are a parent, there’s a good chance you know just what I mean.

And this, too, is a particular grace of Christmas. It is not just that God became man to save us, though he certainly did that. It’s not just that he draws close to us in the most intimate and humble of ways, i.e., as a child, swaddled and laid in a manger, rather than wreathed in unapproachable power and majesty. It’s that in coming as a baby, the son of Mary, God invites us to catch the faintest glimpse of what it is like to love the Son as the Father does.

And that glimpse, however brief or fleeting or remote, utterly overwhelms. It transforms our understanding of our own love for parents and children, but it also transforms our understanding of what it means to love God. Because we don’t only love Him from below, as it were. He invites us to stand above the manger and gaze down. To love him with the love that condescends (in the best possible sense) to the utterly weak and vulnerable. He invites us to see him, to love him, as a parent loves a helpless child.

14. Arthur Brooks: Procrastinate This, Not That

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16. Rudolph Changes Name To Rolanda, Dominates Female Reindeer Games

17. First Known Nativity Scene Figurines are on Display in Rome

The figurines were commissioned in 1292 by Pope Nicholas IV, the first Franciscan pope, who was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, the creator of the first living nativity in Greccio, Italy, in 1223.

Sante Guido, an art historian and professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, told EWTN that five of the marble statues in the nativity scene today are completely original to the 13th century.

18. For anyone suffering — a priest explains what it means to “Offer It Up”

19. Justo Gallego, Who Built a Cathedral, Brick by Brick, Dies at 96

20. In flyover, Kentucky bishop blesses his people impacted by tornadoes

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