What happened to all of the cults?

Not long ago, people were worried about cults.  Their teenagers and young adults would run off and join the Moonies, the Hare Krishnas, or the Children of God and not be seen of again.  Often, parents hired “deprogrammers” to abduct the son or daughter who was caught up in the cult and to conduct a process of reverse brainwashing.  Why aren’t we hearing about that sort of thing anymore?  Many of these groups are still around, but the general fear of them seems to have gone.   Religion scholar Philip Jenkins has some theories, after the jump, and I propose some of my own. [Read more...]

Supremes rule for cell phone privacy

The Obama administration and the state of California argued that law enforcement officials should be able to go through the information on a person’s cell phone, which they argued was no different from asking someone to turn out his pockets.  But the Supreme Court, striking a blow for privacy in 21st century technology, ruled–unanimously, no less–that cell phone data (which includes not just call records but with your calendar and appointments a record of nearly all of your activities) is private and cannot be accessed by authorities without a warrant. [Read more...]

Treating faith as a virus of the mind

Some atheists are getting meaner and more threatening.  Trevor Logan tells about a new book, endorsed by the usual celebrity atheists, entitled A Manual for Creating Atheists, calling its author, Peter Boghossian, the “atheist version of a Westboro Baptist Church pastor.”  Boghossian calls for treating religion as a public health menace, “a virus of the mind,” that needs to be systematically eradicated by the government.  (Sound familiar?) [Read more...]

D-day + 70 years

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when allied troops landed at Normandy on the French coast, the beginning of the end of World War II.

I remember a number of years ago visiting Normandy and looking down at Omaha beach from the remains of a German bunker that overlooked a tall bluff to the beach below.  The landing crafts and the soldiers who somehow made it to the beach were sitting ducks and thousands of Americans died in those first waves of the attack.  And yet, somehow, they kept coming and eventually climbed up the sheer cliff and took that bunker and the others like it.

The heroism shown by the American, British, Canadian, and other allied troops is nearly unimaginable.  Each beach had its own story.  Read about two of them and link to the rest after the jump. [Read more...]

Signals weren’t from Malaysia airliner after all

The mystery surrounding the Malaysian airliner that seemingly disappeared into thin air seemed to have been solved when searchers announced that they had detected pings from the airplane’s black box in the Indian Ocean.  But now, after a large-scale search of the area, searchers are saying that the pings weren’t from the aircraft after all.   The mystery of the disappearing airliner remains. [Read more...]

“God suffered, God died”

Some of the deepest waters of Lutheran theology and where it makes some of its greatest contributions are in the realm of Christology.  For Lent I have been reading The Two Natures in Christ by Martin Chemnitz, that master of Biblical, Medieval, and Patristic (not only Latin but also Greek) sources and the principal author of the Formula of Concord.

Studying all of this has given me some new understanding and appreciation for the magnitude of what happened on that first Good Friday.   Article VIII of the Formula of Concord turns an assertion that was highly controversial at the time into a matter of confessional subscription:  That we are to understand the Incarnation and the Atonement in such a way that we can affirm that “God suffered” and “God died.” [Read more...]


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