Von Uhde’s “Let the Little Children Come to Me”


More from Fritz von Uhde, the 19th century Lutheran artist we’ve been discussing.  This one, “Let the Little Children Come to Me,” is an example of von Uhde’s device of portraying Bible stories in contemporary settings (that is, contemporary for his time).  The effect is for viewers to see their reality of these Biblical truths for today and for people like themselves.

And this painting is particularly Lutheran, as I’ll explain after the jump. [Read more…]

What percentage of gays have gotten married?


Gallup now has some data about same-sex marriage.

According to Gallup’s survey, 10.2% of LGBT adults are married to someone of the same sex.

Interestingly, this is fewer than the number of LGBT adults who are married to someone of the opposite sex: 13.1%.  Gallup says that this is because half of LGBT folks are bisexual!  (What are the implications of that fact?  For pastoral care?  For the same-sex marriage debate?)

Other findings:  Of all LGBT adults who are cohabiting, 61% are married to each other.  The number of domestic partnerships has plummeted to 6.6%.  But the number of gays who are not living with a partner, who consider themselves “single,” has shot up, to 55.7%. [Read more…]

The Senate’s health care bill


Senate Republicans released their proposed health care bill, which, if it passes, must be reconciled to the bill passed by the House of Representatives.

Go here for a helpful comparison of the Senate bill with that of the House of Representatives and with Obamacare.

But the Senate bill is already in trouble.  Republicans have 52 seats, so they can lose two votes.  But four senators have announced their opposition:  Ted Cruz (TX), Rand Paul (KY), Mike Lee (UT), and Ron Johnson (WI).

These are conservatives, but moderates aren’t fond of the bill either.  Changes to satisfy these four might jeopardize it with the moderates.

Obamacare is unlikely to be replaced, just revised.  And maybe not even that.

Photo of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee (from left), by Gage Skidmore, Flickr, Creative Commons License

[Read more…]

Von Uhde’s “Christ with the Peasants”


XIR198475 Christ with the Peasants, c.1887-88 (oil on panel) by Uhde, Fritz von (1848-1911); 50x62 cm; Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France; (add.info.: Le Christ chez les Paysans;); Giraudon; German, out of copyright

More from the Lutheran artist Fritz von Uhde, another variation on the theme of “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.”  Also note von Uhde’s common theme of Christ coming to ordinary, lowly folks.  This painting is titled “Christ and the Peasants.”

By Fritz von Uhde, 1887-1888, – 1. magnoliabox.com2. The Bridgeman Art Library, Object 198475, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33788904

The Thucydides trap

The White House is full of aficionados of Thucydides, the Greek historian and chronicler of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta.  In fact, Thucydides is very much in vogue today among lots of diplomats and foreign policy experts.  In the White House, Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security advisor H. R. McMaster, and Trump’s key advisor Steve Bannon are way into Thucydides.

Recently, international affairs scholar Graham Allison was invited to the White House to brief staffers on the subject of his new book:  Destined for War:  Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap?

He applies Thucydides’ explanation of the Peloponnesian War:  “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.”

Established powers fear the rise of new powers.  Just as the United States fears the rise of China.  Or might come to fear the rise of China as it becomes more and more powerful and influential in the world.

Which raises the question:  At some point, will there be a war between China and the United States?

We think of fear as a deterrent, but, as Thucydides has shown and as history often bears out, fear can also motivate war.  Do you think that will happen with China and the United States?

Illustration:  “The Fall of the Athenian Army, ” by J.G.Vogt, Illustrierte Weltgeschichte, vol. 1, Leipzig (E.Wiest) 1893. (fonte) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

[Read more…]

The history of pews


Lutheran writer and humorous church historian Luke T. Harrington writes about the history of church pews.

In Luther’s day and before, everyone stood or kneeled sometimes in church.  The pews were invented first as private boxes that allowed the nobility to avoid mixing with the vulgar masses.  Then they kept evolving.

Read what happened, including a cultural study of sitting, after the jump. [Read more…]