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…)

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…)

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…)

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.

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.

We have been following the case of Judge Ruth Neely, a Wyoming magistrate who lost her job for refusing to perform gay weddings because of her Christian convictions.  (She is a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.)  There was a similar case in North Carolina, in which Magistrate Gayle Myrick, a Baptist, was forced to resign for the same reason.  But a federal judge has ruled in her favor.

Bre Payton (a former student of mine!) wrote about the case in The Federalist in an article entitled Forced To Resign For Her Faith, This Magistrate Sued The State And Won.

Judge Myrick frequently performed weddings, but when gay marriage was legalized in North Carolina in 2014, she realized that she could not in good conscience, because of her faith, conduct court-house ceremonies for same-sex couples.

So she consulted with her colleagues and immediate supervisor and came up with a solution:  Weddings were held at certain regular times during the week.  She would alter her schedule so that she wouldn’t perform any weddings.

But not performing weddings at all, thereby not discriminating against anyone, was not good enough for her supervising judge.  So she was instructed to resign.  This happened just two months before she would have been eligible for retirement.

She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that her resignation was involuntary and that she was being discriminated against for her religious beliefs.  The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty took up the case.  Here is the outcome, according to Bre Payton (whose article goes into much more detail):

A federal judge, Michael Devine, ruled in Gayle’s favor. He found that the state of North Carolina broke the law when it rejected reasonable solutions to accommodate Gayle’s religious beliefs. He also found that Gayle’s subsequent resignation was not voluntary, as she was told she would face disciplinary action, civil penalties, or even criminal prosecution unless she agreed too perform same-sex marriages. She was awarded more than $300,000 from the state in lost pay, attorney’s fees, and her retirement benefits in an agreement finalized late last month.

That’s a very important point in religious liberty cases, as judicial precent makes clear:  Efforts must be made to accommodate religious beliefs, when possible.

In this instance, a simple schedule change would have prevented both the possibility of discrimination and the violation of religious liberty.

Such conflicts cannot always be resolved in a “win-win” fashion, but sometimes they can.  The court ruled that reasonable accommodations to religious belief should be pursued.

In Judge Neely’s case, the Wyoming Supreme Court censured her, but allowed her to keep her job as a municipal judge, though she will not be allowed to perform any weddings of any kind.

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