“A few months ago I very nearly died.”

    I came across the following on item on Facebook this morning.  It was posted by Kurt A. Lippman on 9 December 2017, and I share it here with his permission:   A few months ago I very nearly died. During that ordeal I passed out of mortality and on into the next world. I had always believed, but to my utter astonishment I stood there and beheld countless wonders. I heard and saw angels singing about The Lord…. Read more

“If that birth had not happened”

    Sigh.  I keep falling behind.  Today (Saturday) was Day Nine of the Christmas “Light the World” initiative sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   I may be late posting a link to today’s item on the “Light the World” advent calendar, but it’s never too late to act on the principle that it teaches:   https://www.mormon.org/christmas/25-ways-25-days/day-9   ***   I have a sad confession to make:  I’ve heard and sung the carol Silent Night so very… Read more

Three comments about scientism

    I came to know and admire Huston Smith (31 May 1919 – 30 December 2016) during the two months that I spent in Berkeley, California, in 1990 as part of a seminar led by him and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Here’s a nice passage from him on scientism:   “For all we know, the larger part of the motive for trying to expand science is not self-serving; it is merely mistaken. The idealistic element in it… Read more

Jerusalem, caught between the Persians and the Byzantines

    Continuing with excerpts from a manuscript:   But if Christians seemed to be triumphant in the land of Christ’s birth, their triumph would be short-lived. By the seventh century, the Byzantine Empire had weakened itself to the point of seeming feebleness by endless theological disputes and by the kind of political infighting and treachery that has come to be described in modern times, no matter where it occurs, as “Byzantine intrigue.” It presented an inviting target to ambitious… Read more

A Christ-like gift

    Here’s a column that I wrote in December 2011 for the Deseret News:   “In the beginning was the Word,” begins a Christmas story that we seldom read at Christmas, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14).  The Greek verb translated as “dwelt,” “skeneo,” means “to dwell in a tent” — which, in Greek, is a “skene.” So John 1:14… Read more

Jerusalem, then and now

    Continuing with one of my manuscripts, treating the period after the disastrous Second Jewish Revolt, in the second century AD, following which Jews were banned from entering Jerusalem, which was renamed Aelia Capitolina:   Some Jews were martyred, some hid in caves and deserts in order to continue to live the commandments, and some—perhaps (understandably) questioning the point of remaining faithful— apostatized. Many simply left, hoping to get away. The dispersion of the Jews, their diaspora, had now begun… Read more

“We have always underestimated the cell”

    Three quotations on the living cell, selected from some of my notes:   The first is from Michael Denton: It is astonishing to think that this remarkable piece of machinery, which possesses the ultimate capacity to construct every living thing that has ever existed on Earth, from a giant redwood to a human brain, can construct all its own components in a matter of minutes and . . . is of the order of several thousand million times… Read more

In the bleak midwinter, some cheer

    In his 1912 book The Four Men, the Anglo-French writer and historian Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) — onetime president of the Oxford Union; for four or five years, Member of Parliament for Salford; devoted Catholic; and author of, among many other things, the wonderful Cautionary Tales for Children (which includes such masterpieces as “Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion” and “Matilda, who told lies and was burnt to death”) — included this theologically significant poem:… Read more

“The worst are full of passionate intensity”

    I posted an entry yesterday — see “Back of the Bus, Book of Mormon Boy!” — about the disgusting Trumpist bigot Steve Bannon and his cynically dishonest venture into anti-Mormon demagoguery.  Here’s a bit more on that uplifting theme:   National Review:  “The Garbage Case for Roy Moore”   National Review:  “Bannon’s Ill-Conceived War on the Establishment”   The Weekly Standard:  “Bannon Attacks Romney’s Mormonism: Says the former presidential candidate ‘hid behind’ his religion to avoid war.”   The Washington… Read more

Judaism declines in the Holy Land

    Among other things, in the wake of the Christianization of the Roman Empire that commenced in the fourth century AD, government officials banned Jewish pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Here’s another passage from one of my manuscripts:   Such treatment merely accelerated a process of de-Judaization that had been going on in Palestine since the Great Revolt of 66-70 A.D. Gradually, despite the efforts of the rabbis to preserve Jewish landholdings in Palestine and indeed to encourage foreign… Read more

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