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From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George

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The Dean Recommends: Mother Teresa’s 1994 Message to the Supreme Court on Abortion

By St. Teresa of Calcutta
September 5, 2016

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was canonized yesterday by Pope Francis. In 1994, she submitted an amicus brief, filed by her counsel Robert P. George, pleading with the United States Supreme Court to reverse its decision in Roe v. Wade. The text of her brief appears below.

I hope you will count it no presumption that I seek your leave to address you on behalf of the unborn child. Like that child I can be considered an outsider. I am not an American citizen. My parents were Albanian. I was born before the First World War in a part of what was not yet, and is no longer, Yugoslavia. In many senses I know what it is like to be without a country. I also know what it is like to feel an adopted citizen of other lands. When I was still a young girl I traveled to India. I found my work among the poor and the sick of that nation, and I have lived there ever since.

Since 1950 I have worked with my many sisters from around the world as one of the Missionaries of Charity. Our congregation now has over four hundred foundations in more than one hundred countries, including the United States of America. We have almost five thousand sisters. We care for those who are often treated as outsiders in their own communities by their own neighbors—the starving, the crippled, the impoverished, and the diseased, from the old woman with a brain tumor in Calcutta to the young man with AIDS in New York City.

A special focus of our care is mothers and their children. This includes mothers who feel pressured to sacrifice their unborn children by want, neglect, despair, and philosophies and government policies that promote the dehumanization of inconvenient human life. And it includes the children themselves, innocent and utterly defenseless, who are at the mercy of those who would deny their humanity. So, in a sense, my sisters and those we serve are all outsiders together. At the same time, we are supremely conscious of the common bonds of humanity that unite us and transcend national boundaries. Read the rest at Public Discourse.

Posted by Hunter Upton at Thursday, September 8, 2016
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The Dean Recommends: Mormons and Christians - So Close, Yet So Far Away

By Gerald R. McDermott
September 7, 2016

For nearly 200 years, Mormons have both enraged and intrigued evangelicals. The rage has come from Mormon claims that the Book of Mormon contains new revelation superseding and correcting the Bible, and that Christians are apostates from the apostolic church.

The intrigue has come from the fact that Latter-day Saints (LDS) are so similar and yet so different. The Book of Mormon is remarkably Christ-focused, and presents a godhead resembling the Trinity. Yet later teachings by Joseph Smith deny the Trinity and claim that God the Father has both a physical body and his own father. Evangelicals have always been fascinated by Mormon beliefs that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri, that the New Jerusalem will be located nearby, and that American Indians are descended from the ancient Israelites.

Now the Internet buzzes with new debate over (president emeritus of Fuller Seminary) Richard Mouw’s pronouncement at First Things that Mormons are moving closer to historic Christian orthodoxy. LDS leaders, he proposes, are downplaying the Mormon teaching that God was once a man. A participant in Mormon-evangelical dialogue responded that, on the contrary, this teaching remains on the LDS Church website and LDS leaders are still teaching that God and humans are of the same species. Then a professor at Brigham Young University proclaimed that the LDS has no intention of revising its doctrine of God and humans sharing the same species, or of moving toward orthodoxy. A leading LDS intellectual added that Joseph Smith’s revelation of God once being a man was one of the great corrections that Christian orthodoxy would do well to adopt. Southern Baptist Richard Land interpreted this to mean that the Mormon Jesus is “not our Jesus” because the former is not eternal. Land promptly got his hand slapped by Mormon religion scholar Jana Riess for getting his facts wrong: The Mormon Jesus, she chided, is indeed eternal. Read the rest at Christianity Today.

Posted by Hunter Upton at Wednesday, September 7, 2016
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Hans Friedrich Grohs: From Bereavement to Benediction

By Timothy George
September 5, 2016

Hans Friedrich Grohs (1892-1981) was an accomplished artist who belonged to the second generation of German Expressionist painters. His life’s work, which survives in several thousand pieces of art, is a remarkable testimony to creativity, courage, and faith in an apocalyptic world of violence, death, and moral collapse. He was born four years after Kaiser Wilhelm II ascended the German imperial throne; he died nearly a century later, in the same decade that witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. He was drafted as a soldier in both world wars and experienced firsthand the Nazi reign of terror in between. Few artists have lived so fully, or recorded so faithfully, such a vast sweep of human history.

During World War I, Grohs was stationed near Bruges, Belgium, not far from enemy lines, where Corporal Adolf Hitler was running back and forth delivering messages for the army. During this time, Grohs studied the Flemish masters. Returning to Germany, he became a member of the influential art and design school organized by Walter Gropius and known as the Bauhaus. Although he later broke with this tradition in order to develop his own distinctive artistic voice, Grohs was shaped by the thought and work of contemporary Expressionist masters such as Emil Nolde and Edvard Munch.

The decade of the twenties was a difficult time of personal testing for Hans Grohs. Married to Elisabeth Treskow in 1922, Grohs was overcome with grief when she died two years later, just nine days after giving birth to their first child. Out of this time of great sadness and loss came several works of memento mori: a memorial sculpture of lament for Elli, as Grohs called his wife, and two remarkable woodcut series, The Elli Dance of Death and The ABC of Death. In these woodcuts, bereavement is portrayed as the pathway of benediction, interpreted in the light of Christian consolation. For example, the letter “K” (das Kreuz) shows a skeletal Christ bearing his cross to Calvary while carrying another cadaverous figure on his back. Read the rest at First Things.

“God Sowing the Stars,” from Genesis Window, by Hans Grohs, 1927—appears with permission of the Frauken Grohs Collinson-Grohs Collection Trust.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Tuesday, September 6, 2016
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