An online, social media Lenten observance

Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent, a time for reflection and devotion. Christ Lutheran Church (LCMS) of Topeka, KS, has devised an ingenious online, social media observance, built around specific words for each day of Lent. The idea is to post a picture that captures each word, posting it on FaceBook, tagged with @christlcms, or Instagram, tagged with @christ_lutheran_topeka, and the hashtag #hearingthegospel.  Then people can contemplate all of the pictures that have contributed.

There was a story about this on Religious News Service.  I contacted the pastor, asking if this is just a congregational activity or if I could put it out there on the Cranach blog.  He gave me permission to do so, so spread the word.  More details after the jump.


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Trump’s “America first” budget

Pentagon_satellite_imagePresident Trump will submit a budget that he says will put “America first.”  Defense spending will jump 10%, a $54 billion increase.  That money will come from what we used to spend for foreign aid and from big cut-backs to most other federal agencies.

Law enforcement and Veterans’ benefits will also get more money.  Trump vowed that Social Security and Medicare will not be cut.

Details about the cuts to other agencies and services will be announced later.  Those may prove quite dramatic.  Look for some agencies, such as the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, to get eliminated altogether.

Also coming later will be the president’s tax plan.  He has promised a big tax cut, which will put further pressure on the need to cut spending.

The military has been somewhat neglected financially during the Obama years, but if we are going to put America first, cut back on foreign entanglements, and insist that other countries defend themselves instead of expecting America do it, do we really need to spend so much more on our military?  Or does this military increase signal that America will continue to project its power on the world scene?  Or does it mean that we are building a defensive wall, so to speak, around our country so that nobody dare attack us?
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Academy Awards fiasco

Hollywood was feeling good.  The Academy Awards show featured continual Trump-bashing and the “Oscars So White” controversy was put to rest, with black people well-represented in all categories and winning lots of awards.

But at the grand finale, the announcement of the climactic “Best Picture” award, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced that the winner was La La Land.  But they had been given the wrong envelope!  The La La Land producers were giving their speeches, until they were interrupted with the news that it was all a mistake.  Moonlight, the coming of age film about a young gay black man, was really the winner!  Pandemonium!

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The Pope on salvation by works

Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped)Catholics, Protestants often say, believe in salvation by good works.  This engenders the reply from thoughtful Catholics, no we don’t!  You have to have grace.  In fact, we even believe in justification by faith, just like you Lutherans do, as proven by the accord we signed with liberal Lutherans.  Since there is now no real disagreement, there is no need for the Reformation divisions.  You can come back to Rome and enjoy being under Pope Francis.

But Pope Francis keeps preaching that salvation is, in fact, by good works.  He is reported to have said recently that it’s better to be an atheist than a bad Christian.  Now this is not exactly what he said, according to ChurchPop; in context he was referring to Christians living a “double life” of sin and piety, which creates a “scandal” that makes outsiders think it would be better to be an atheist.  But read his sermon yourself to get a sense of where he stands on the importance of good works for salvation.  Note how he warns against “excessive confidence” in Christ’s forgiveness.

Earlier the Pope has said that on the last day the only issue will be “what we did.”  Lots of Christians won’t make it.  But atheists will, if they do good.  Here is what the Pope said of atheists:  “‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

So those who do not believe but do good works will meet with the Christians who do good works in Heaven.  While Christians who believe but are sinful will not.

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The USDA inspects for ideological purity

ReligiousFreedomStampThe Christian owner of a meatpacking business had some pamphlets lying around in the breakroom that opposed gay marriage.

When some inspectors from the United States Department of Agriculture saw them, they demanded that they be removed.  Otherwise, they said, they would not inspect the plant, which would then not be allowed to operate.

The inspectors cited a regulation that allowed any government official “to take immediate and appropriate corrective action” if they detect any cases of  “harassment.”

The inspectors considered the pamphlets to be harassment, even though no employees complained.  The USDA inspectors threatened to shut down the operation, even though the pamphlets had nothing to do with their purpose; namely, to insure the purity of the meat being sold.

The owner did as he was told and got rid of the pamphlets.  But the issue still hangs over his head. [Read more…]

The travails of pro-life Democrats

Who do you think said this?

“Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized — the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old. When history looks back at this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.”

Find out after the jump.

Also find out about pro-life Democrats trying to have an impact in their party and how they are being treated.

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