Jack Phillips Goes to SCOTUS, Remembering a Medal of Honor Awardee, the Elderly in Japan, Hannah Arendt, and Dave Brubeck

Signs and Wonders

Justice for Jack.  In case you’ve been living in an underground bunker for the past few months:  The case of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop was argued before the Supreme Court today. This case will have implications for religious liberty for decades. I first covered this case in 2014, when I interviewed Phillips in his bakery in a strip mall in a Denver suburb. This is a big day not just for Jack Phillips, but for all of us who care about religious liberty in America. The Colson Center’s own John Stonestreet spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court at a rally hosted by Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Phillips. Kristen Waggoner, the lawyer currently defending Phillips, participated in a Colson Center webinar a couple of months ago.

Demography is Destiny. Back in the 1970s, doomsday prophets such as Paul Ehrlich predicted a “population bomb” that would lead to an overcrowded planet, disease, and mass starvation. He and his progressive fellow-travelers recommended abortion, euthanasia, and centralized government planning. These totalitarian solutions proved to be far worse than the alleged problem, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of millions in the 20th century. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that “children are a blessing” (Ps. 127:3) to be loved and nurtured, not a curse to be lifted. The true curse is a lack of children. A powerful story in The New York Times tells the tragic tale of Japan’s aging population, many members of whom die alone and in despair. In fact, Japan now has an expression, “lonely deaths,” to describe the phenomenon. The Times story is not for the faint of heart … or weak of stomach. It tells of “4,000 lonely deaths a week,” one of which went undiscovered until authorities “found his skeleton near the kitchen, its flesh picked clean by maggots and beetles, just a few feet away from his next-door neighbors.”

Rest in Peace. Ross A. McGinnis died on Dec. 4, 2006, 11 years ago yesterday. He was 19. McGinnis died by throwing himself on a hand grenade in Iraq, saving the lives of four of his brothers-in-arms. When asked in kindergarten what he wanted to be when he grew up, McGinnis replied, “An Army man.” His Medal of Honor citation states in part: “That afternoon his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner’s hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled ‘grenade,’ allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenade’s blast. Then, rather than leaping from the gunner’s hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion. Private McGinnis’ gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. Private First Class McGinnis’ extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”

Milestones. Writer and Holocaust chronicler Hannah Arendt died this week in 1975. She coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann’s role in the extermination of 7 million men, women, and children during the Holocaust…. Jazz great Dave Brubeck died on this date in 2012. In addition to his most famous piece, “Take Five,” he also wrote music for the church. You can read my 2012 obituary of Brubeck here.


Image: iStock and CHBD.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice- president for mission advancement.


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