- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2024

One of the biggest faith and culture stories of the week surrounds the resignation of now-former Harvard President Claudine Gay, who stepped down Tuesday after just six months of helming America’s oldest higher education institution.

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The Washington Times’ Valerie Richardson noted Ms. Gay’s departure came after her tenure was “rocked by her handling of campus antisemitism and a plagiarism scandal that called into question her fitness to lead the nation’s oldest university.” Read more about the story.

Harvard’s conservative critics have now turned their sights to academia’s DEI culture, calling for an end to the “focus on race and identity politics,” she writes.

Vatican issues second clarification on same-sex blessings

The Vatican on Thursday said blessing a same-sex couple does not mean a priest is giving his approval, the second clarification on the issue in two weeks, Mr. Kellner reports.

The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the set of clarifications to its recent declaration allowing priests to bless individuals in same-sex couples and other relationships.

Such blessings “are just simple pastoral channels that help people give expression to their faith, even if they are great sinners,” the Catholic Church’s doctrinal office said.

Thou shalt not print errors

Mr. Kellner has a fascinating read about a company that proofreads the Bible, weeding out mistakes before publication.

“If you’re reading a novel and you find a typo, you get very proud of yourself, like, ‘Oh, we found a typo,’ and show it to your friends,” Chris Hudson, president of Peachtree Proofreading Services, told Mr. Kellner. “But when people find a mistake in their Bible, it is distracting, that when they sat down to read the Bible to find God’s message, now they’re fixated on something else.”

Read more about Mr. Hudson’s work and how it relates to chicken parmesan here.

Video: ‘Superman’ actor decries rising antisemitism, Marxism 

Actor Dean Cain is no stranger to controversy. As a conservative Christian in Hollywood, he has spoken out against cultural and political trends for years. But Mr. Cain believes cancel culture, an inclination to live in an “echo chamber” and not being able to question is a “dangerous game” playing out in real time as the world reacts to Israel defending itself against Hamas. 

Watch his conversation with Higher Ground’s Billy Hallowell here.

California ready to fine stores over gender-neutral toys

California is gearing up to fine major retailers that don’t dedicate an area to gender-neutral toys after a new law took effect on New Year’s Day.

“Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law in 2021,” The Times’ Mallory Wilson reports. “It requires any store that sells toys and has at least 500 employees ‘to maintain a gender-neutral section or area to be labeled at the discretion of the retailer.’”

Read more about the penalties for those who refuse to comply.

Big reaction to USA Boxing’s trans policy

Continuing on the culture wars front, Ms. Richardson writes about a new USA Boxing policy that’s drawing the ire of critics.

“Starting Monday, USA Boxing will let male-born competitors fight in women’s matches based on gender identity, but they’ll have to jump through significant hoops first,” she writes. “USA Boxing, the national governing body, added a transgender policy to its 2024 rule book that permits biological males 18 and older to compete against women, as long as they declare that their gender identity is female; keep their testosterone below a certain threshold; and complete ‘gender reassignment surgery.’”

Of course, there’s still a slew of questions surrounding these policies, what they mean, and how they’ll be applied. Plus, some worry about the safety of female fighters battling biological males. Read more about the issue here.

Actor’s mission to produce ‘uplifting’ films

Popular rom-com star Jesse Hutch is on a mission to bring “wholesome, values-based” entertainment to the masses, partnering with other industry professionals on Third Coast Film, an effort to help bring more of these projects to fruition. And it’s something the Christian performer is quite passionate about.

“Uplifting content is always important,” Mr. Hutch told Mr. Kellner. “The more I interact with the fans, whether it be through social media or in-person meetings, doing stuff in the mall or the gym, or going to conventions … there’s story after story of how they have enjoyed or found joy or found peace, just in everyday life, or maybe they’re going through something really hard and this movie helps uplift them.”

Read more about Mr. Hutch’s mission.

Rapper Lecrae on Lil Nas X, winning people to faith in ‘broken’ world

Rapper Lecrae is never a stranger to tough conversations. He’s often willing to comment on the issues of the day. And, as Higher Ground’s Marissa Mayer reports, he recently spoke about one such issue with Mr. Hallowell.

“[Lecrae] made headlines for his response to openly gay rapper Lil Nas X, who said he was entering a ‘Christian era’ with his music,” Ms. Mayer writes. “While some Christians were quick to condemn, the 44-year-old took a different tactic.” 

Find out how Lecrae handled the issue.

A new way to engage Bible readers

Mr. Kellner caught up with Matt Lucas, president of Our Daily Bread Ministries, who is on a mission to encourage people to see the Bible as a powerful story that can transform their lives. Our Daily Bread recently acquired the Institute for Bible Reading and its “Immerse: The Reading Bible” book series — a tool that can help with that quest.

Rather than seeing the Bible as a dictionary to randomly look up Scriptures, Mr. Lucas said he wants people to engage the Bible in a more immersive, book club-like way.

“The book club idea is reading the Bible in its original form as a reading Bible rather than a study Bible and doing research about what’s the best way to engage Scripture so that you try to read it as close to how it was originally received,” Mr. Lucas said. Read more here.

In our opinion

Horror in Nigeria. On the opinion pages, Mr. Hallowell tackles the horror Christians face in Nigeria as persecution rages and the world “looks the other way.”

“As people around the world jovially celebrated the birth of Jesus, singing carols, exchanging gifts and relishing in the sights and sounds of the season, Christians in Nigeria were embroiled in an unimaginably hellish scenario,” Mr. Hallowell writes. “During a Christmas Eve killing spree, nomadic herders reportedly used guns and machetes to slaughter about 140 people in the central Plateau state.” He also recaps other horrific events over the past few years and calls on the U.S. to take action.

How to avoid cultural obliteration. Everett Piper tackles pressing concerns from a reader who asked whether there’s “anything we can do that can save us from what seems to be an inevitable trainwreck of societal collapse?” 

Rather than mince words, “Ask Dr. E” offers a clear path forward — one that would return Western culture on a positive trajectory and influence. Read his powerful response

Surprising key to a successful 2024. Jason Jimenez offers a powerful path forward for anyone looking to have a successful, healthy and fulfilling 2024.

“Christians can easily lose sight of their calling to be caring and generous in today’s fast-paced and self-centered world,” he writes. “However, believers need to make a conscious effort to be more disciplined in their efforts to be generous and available to care for people around them.”

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