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.

Vocation quotes from Luther for Labor Day

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Labor Day is a good day for Christians to celebrate Vocation.  That is, the teaching that our work, our family relationships, our church, our citizenship are all “callings” from God, the realms in which we live out our Christian faith as we love and serve our neighbors.  In addition to the cook-outs and the finales to our summer vacations, I invite you to meditate on the following quotations from Martin Luther, the great theologian of vocation.  (I discuss these passages in my latest book on the subject, commissioned by the Acton Institute:  Working for Our Neighbor:  A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life.)

Martin Luther on Vocation

If you are a manual laborer, you find that the Bible has been put into your workshop, into your hand, into your heart. It teaches and preaches how you should treat your neighbor. Just look at your tools—at your needle or thimble, your beer barrel, your goods, your scales or yardstick or measure—and you will read this statement inscribed on them. Everywhere you look, it stares at you. Nothing that you handle every day is so tiny that it does not continually tell you this, if you will only listen. . . .All this is continually crying out to you: “Friend, use me in your relations with your neighbor just as you would want your neighbor to use his property in his relations with you.”

Martin Luther, “Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount” (Luther’s Works 21:237)

 

There is no true, basic difference between laymen and priests, princes and bishops, between religious and secular, except for the sake of office and work, but not for the sake of status. They are all of the spiritual estate, all are truly priests, bishops, and popes. But they do not all have the same work to do. …A cobbler, a smith, a peasant—each has the work and office of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops. Further, everyone must benefit and serve every other by means of his own work or office so that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, just as all the members of the body serve one another.

Martin Luther, To the Christian Nobility, LW 44:127-130.

 

Now observe that clever harlot, our natural reason…takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, ‘Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labor at my trade, take care of this and that, do this and that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you take a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or nun and compel my children to do likewise.

What then does the Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says ‘O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock this little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is pleasing in thy sight.”

Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage,” LW 45: 39-40.

 

[Human nature] knows nothing but its own good, or what is good and honorable and useful for itself, but not what is good for God and other people. Therefore it knows and wills more what is particular, yes, only what is an individual good. And this is in agreement with Scripture, which describes man as so turned in on himself that he uses not only physical but even spiritual goods for his own purposes and in all things seeks only himself.

This curvedness is now natural for us, a natural wickedness and a natural sinfulness. Thus man has no help from his natural powers, but he needs the aid of some power outside of himself. This is love.

Martin Luther, Lectures on Romans, in LW, 25: 345.

 

When you pray this petition [“give us this day our daily bread”] turn your eyes to everything that can prevent our bread from coming and the crops from prospering. Therefore extend your thoughts to all the fields and do not see only the baker’s oven. You pray, therefore, against the devil and the world, who can hinder the grain by tempest and war. We pray also for temporal peace against war, because in times of war we cannot have bread. Likewise, you pray for government, for sustenance and peace, without which you cannot eat: Grant, Lord, that the grain may prosper, that the princes may keep the peace, that war may not break out, that we may give thanks to thee in peace. Therefore it would be proper to stamp the emperor’s or the princes’ coat-of-arms upon bread as well as upon money or coins.

Martin Luther, Sermon on the Lord’s Prayer (1528). LW 51:176-177.

 

[The ruler]  should picture Christ to himself, and say, “Behold, Christ, the supreme ruler, came to serve me; he did not seek to gain power, estate, and honor from me, but considered only my need, and directed all things to the end that I should gain power, estate, and honor from him and through him. I will do likewise, seeking from my subjects not my own advantage but theirs. I will use my office to serve and protect them, listen to their problems and defend them, and govern to the sole end that they, not I, may benefit from my rule.” In such manner should a prince in his heart empty himself of his power and authority, and take unto himself the needs of his subjects, dealing with them as though they were his own needs. For this is what Christ did to us [Phil. 2:7]; and these are the proper works of Christian love.

Martin Luther, Temporal Authority, LW 45:120.

Although the Christian is thus free from all works, he ought in this liberty to empty himself, take upon himself the form of a servant, be made in the likeness of men, be found in human form, and to serve, help, and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him. This he should do freely, having regard for nothing but divine approval. He ought to think: . . . . “I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me.”[i]. . .Just as our neighbor is in need and lacks that in which we abound, so we were in need before God and lacked his mercy. Hence, as our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another and Christ may be the same in all, that is, that we may be truly Christians. . . .We conclude, therefore, that a Christian lives not in himself, but in Christ and in his neighbor.  Otherwise he is not a Christian. .He lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends beneath himself into his neighbor. Yet he always remains in God and in his love.”[i]

Martin Luther, Freedom of the Christian, LW 31: 366-67, 371.

“What else is all our work to God— whether in the fields, in the garden, in the city, in the house, in war, or in government—but just such a child’s performance, by which He wants to give His gifts in the fields, at home, and everywhere else? These are the masks of God, behind which He wants to remain concealed and do all things.”

Martin Luther, LW 14:114-115

Illustration by Timasu, on Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons

 

 

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