Reforming the Calendar

Do we need to reform the calendar to eliminate anomalies like Leap Year?

Two Johns Hopkins professors, Steve Hanke (an economist and fellow of the libertarian Cato Institute) and Dick Henry (a physicist and astronomer), have been proposing the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar.  It has the virtue of making every date fall on the same day each year.  Christmas, December 25, will always be on a Monday.  If your birthday is on a Saturday, it will always be on a Saturday.

There would be no leap year, no extra day every four years. What there will be to align the year with the earth’s orbit is a leap week every five or six years. This week will be added to the end of December.  It will function like a month and will be known as Xtr, pronounced “extra” and would doubtless become a great festival.

See an explanation of the new calendar, which the inventors hope to begin in 2018, after the jump.  The link will also take you to FAQs and the calendar itself.  After the jump you will also find my critique of the whole project. (more…)

Not naming the holidays on the school calendar

The school board in Montgomery County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D. C., has voted not to name the holidays associated with religions on the school calendar.

School will still be dismissed for Christmas, Easter, and the major Jewish holidays.  But when Muslims wanted time off for their holidays, the school board decided to think about holidays like this:  We aren’t observing the religious holidays; rather, we are dismissing classes when large numbers of students are likely to be absent.  So on the school calendar, instead of so much as mentioning “Christmas,” there is just a notice of “no class today.”

Is this silly, does it make sense, or should the schools dismiss classes for Islamic holidays too? (more…)

C. S. Lewis calendar

My friend and former colleague Joel Heck has been doing some exhaustive research on the life of C. S. Lewis.  He has put together a detailed chronology that you can see on his website.  On the basis of that work, Joel has prepared a C. S. Lewis calendar.  It isn’t tied to a particular year, so it can be used year after year, showing what the great Christian apologist, literary scholar, and fantasy writer was doing on any particular day.  After the jump, details about how to get one of these calendars. (more…)

Old Calendar Protestants

Eastern Orthodox folks celebrate Christmas on a different day than we Western Christians do.  They don’t go along with the change in the calendar that was orchestrated by Pope Gregory XIII back in 1582 in order to re-align our calendar with the motions of the solar system.  The so-called Gregorian calendar was accepted throughout the European-heritage nations by 1752.  But the Eastern nations remained under the old Julian calendar.

What I didn’t know is that some Protestants also kept using the Julian calendar.  They could be found in Appalachia as late as the 20th century.  From the Kairos Quarterly, a publication of an Orthodox monastery in West Virginia, via Trystan Bloom at First Thoughts:

As a Russian Orthodox monastery which observes the Julian, or “old”, calendar, we were surprised to learn about Appalachian “Old Christmas”, which is a most solemn and reverent time for families living in the mountains. The initial change-over from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar by the British Empire and the American colonies in 1752 caused a difference of eleven days. Thus, the date of “new” Christmas on December 25th was eleven days ahead of “old” Christmas, which fell (at that time) on January 5th. Some Protestants refused to honor the new calendar because it was decreed by the Pope, so their celebration of Christmas remained on the Julian calendar – which now falls on January 7. In the Appalachian Mountains, the celebration of Old Christmas remained until about World War I. Though they might also observe ‘new’ Christmas on December 25th, the festivities were very different. December 25th was marked with revelry and parties and visiting, but January 6th was primarily a reverent family observance.

via Old Calendarists in Appalachia » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

I’m fascinated by such living relics of past history.  One of these days I intend to get on a boat and travel to Tangier Island here in Virginia in the Chesapeake Bay.  This island was settled by British colonists in 1686, and the people have been so isolated that to this day they still speak the English dialect of that day.  Which means they talk pretty much the way Shakespeare did.

Put May 21, 2011 on your calendar

Radio evangelist Harold Camping has calculated that the Rapture (the ascension of all living Christians before Christ returns) will occur on May 21, 2011. What interests me is how that date was figured:

By Camping's understanding, the Bible was dictated by God and every word and number carries a spiritual significance. He noticed that particular numbers appeared in the Bible at the same time particular themes are discussed.

The number 5, Camping concluded, equals "atonement." Ten is "completeness." Seventeen means "heaven." Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011.

"Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.," he began. "Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that's 1,978 years."

Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days – the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.

Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.

Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.

Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared.

"Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story," Camping said. "It's the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you're completely saved.

"I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that," Camping said.

This is not the first time Camping has predicted the end times. His earlier calculation came to Sept. 6, 1994. His followers were unfazed and are making their plans not to be here after May 21, 2011. But doesn’t this new calculation start with the 2011 date and work backwards? (Not that this is the only thing wrong with this sort of thing.)

By the way, this is also the guy who proclaimed that Christians should leave their churches and just listen to preachers like him on the radio.

Appreciating Your Pastor


October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and this Sunday, October 8, is Pastor Appreciation Day.  I have no idea who came up with those observances and they have not made it onto the liturgical calendar.  Still, appreciating your pastor is important, and we need the reminder.  And go beyond appreciating him in the privacy of your mind by letting him know how much you appreciate him.

The Barna Research Group, in conjunction with Pepperdine University, has been studying pastors as they work to fulfill their vocation.  The research shows just how difficult the job can be.  Barna has already issued reports on  pastors’ cultural credibilitytheir experiences and timing of the call to ministrythe aging of pastors and the health of pastors’ relationships.

But Barna’s latest report, on pastors’ general sense of well-being, is more encouraging.

A whopping 91% of pastors say that, overall, they are satisfied with the quality of their lives.  This compares to 62% of American adults who feel such satisfaction.

Breaking it down, 88% of pastors say that their spiritual health is “excellent” or “good,” compared to 60% of all Americans; 85% say that of their emotional health, compared to 63% of the rest of us; and 67% say the same of their physical health, compared to 55% of the laity.

In other findings, 73% of pastors are motivated to becoming a better leader, compared to only 22% of all Americans.  Among pastors, 60% are energized by their work, while only 24% of the laity feel that way.  And, significantly, 68% of pastors feel well-supported by people close to them, compared to 43% of the rest of us.

But being a pastor also has its crosses to bear.

Pastors are more likely than the rest of us to feel “inadequacy about their work or calling” (12% of pastors frequently feel that way, with 45% sometimes feeling that way; among the laity 8% feel inadequate to their callings frequently, with 22% feeling inadequate sometimes.)

And pastors are more likely than the rest of us to be plagued with mental or emotional exhaustion (12% “frequently” and 45% “sometimes”; compared with 23% and 32% for all U.S. adults).

So it’s good to be pastor, but it can take its toll.

What might we laypeople do to build up our pastors in their sense of vocation and in making their ministry to us less exhausting?

Are our congregations too busy?  Are we devaluing Word and Sacrament ministry in favor of secondary activities that take up way too much time and energy?  Are we so demanding of our pastors that they have too little time for their other vocations–as husband, father, and citizen–thus causing them problems at home?

What do you appreciate about your pastor?

In Australia, I was asked to speak to a seminary class on the topic of “what a writer and academic needs from a pastor.”  The assumption seems to have been that we intellectual types need something special from our pastors.  But I told the future pastors that all I need is what everyone else in their congregations will need.  I need my pastor to bring me to repentance and to give me the Gospel; I need him to forgive my sins; and I need him to put Christ’s body and blood into my mouth.  Anything else is just extra.

UPDATE:  Here are some suggestions for how you can show your appreciation.


Photo of Pastor by weldert, Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons

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