Around the Web (Part 1)

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

The Glamour of Evil by Gerald Schlabach: “If a social diatribe were a sufficient response to the glamour of evil, one could lament many more examples of our culture’s preference for appearance over substance. Increasingly, it seems that advertising has come to evoke ephemeral style over the actual qualities of products; politicians fast-track their candidacies through grandstanding rather than through accomplishments at actually governing; recreation is indoors, two-dimensional and virtual rather than three-dimensional and engaged with the real world of woods and neighborhood; the tenuous commitment of cohabitation replaces the lifelong covenant of marriage; “hooking up” takes the place of courtships, and pornography displaces even the slightest intimacy; and young people face incessant pressure to succeed by branding themselves as though they too were products. Simply to tell a story of cultural decline is itself superficial, however. Nostalgia for the past also tempts us to, yes, glamorize the past. If something is truly new and different about our current situation, it is not that glamour now tempts us but rather that new technologies of media and marketing are perfecting the capacity to project allure and apply patina.”

The diplomatic case for America to create a safe zone in Syria by Nicholas Burns and James Jeffrey: “As the talks proceed, Obama and Kerry must also consider stronger measures to protect millions of civilians at risk, including establishing humanitarian corridors to reach those subjected to air assaults by the government and attacks by terrorist groups on the ground. Most important, we believe the Obama team will have to reconsider what it has rejected in the past: the creation of a safe zone in northern Syria to protect civilians, along with a no-fly zone to enforce it.”

What Republicans Should Say by David Brooks: “Cameron called for a more social approach. He believes government can play a role in rebuilding social capital and in healing some of the traumas fueled by scarcity and family breakdown. He laid out a broad agenda: Strengthen family bonds with shared parental leave and a tax code that rewards marriage. Widen opportunities for free marital counseling. Speed up the adoption process. Create a voucher program for parenting classes. Expand the Troubled Families program by 400,000 slots. This program spends 4,000 pounds (about $5,700) per family over three years and uses family coaches to help heal the most disrupted households.”

Why a meeting between the pope and Russian patriarch is finally happening by John Allen: “Journalism tends to wildly overuse the term “historic,” but when it comes to Friday’s announcement that Pope Francis will meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on Feb. 12 in Havana, there’s simply no other word for it. It will be the first meeting ever between the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the spiritual chief of Russian Orthodoxy. It’s a moment for which ecumenical leaders on both sides have been laboring for decades, and to be honest, many thought they’d never live to see it.”

Humble Pope Francis to meet scandalous Russian Orthodox Church leader in Cuba by Christopher Miller: “One is recognized as a humble leader who cares for the poor and has kissed the feet of peasants. The other has been plagued by scandal and become an object of ridicule because of his luxurious lifestyle, which includes an apparent penchant for pricey ski vacations in Switzerland….Kirill is a staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin and his conservative policies. He once famously called the Russian head of state a “miracle from God” and he has come out in support of Moscow’s military campaign in Syria which he called a “holy war.””

Pro-Choice Extremism Is Holding the Democratic Party Back by Robert Hay: “If Democrats allowed themselves to think seriously about their extreme position on this one issue and opened the big tent, then the climb back to electoral success outside the presidency could finally begin.”

Three Ways Our Religious Institutions Can Strengthen Marriage by Amber Lapp: “That, I think, would be the most important thing that could happen in the pro-marriage movement in America: people who are happily married getting to know and having fun with people who are not married, or who are struggling in marriage. It is in the context of these kinds of relationships that unmarried young adults might become open to hearing the countercultural ideas about marriage that many religious institutions propose—and it is also where they might find the social and practical resources needed to make those ideals a reality in their lives.”

The Worst Is Yet To Come For Syria’s Largest City by Mike Giglio and Munzer al-Awad: “The sudden advance by the Syrian military and its allies on the northern city of Aleppo has sparked fears of a humanitarian crisis that analysts and aid workers warn could be among the worst of a long and brutal war.”