About Gene Veith

I am a retired English professor and college administrator. I have written over 20 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

And now, the commercialization of Advent

Adventkalender_AROne reason that many Christians are rediscovering Advent is that Christmas has become so commercialized.  Advent is a way to keep our concentration on what the Christmas season is supposed to be about, namely, the coming of Christ.  But now Advent is also becoming commercialized!

Alissa Wilkinson has written a good explanation of Advent for Vox.  She explains the history of the season and what it means.  She includes some interesting details that I had not realized.  (For example, that Lutherans invented the Advent Calendar.  By the way, Lutherans apparently also invented the Advent Wreath, according to another source that I stumbled upon, which says the wreath derives from the Scandinavian custom of hanging up a wagon wheel decorated with evergreens and candles.)

She then says that the theme of “anticipation”–specifically, anticipation for Christmas (rather than for Christ)–is for non-religious people too.  She focuses on the secularized versions of Advent calendars, which are built around candy or Santa Clausy things for children and product lines for adults.   [Read more…]

In trouble for belonging to an “anti-gay” church

Jean-Léon_Gérôme_-_The_Christian_Martyrs'_Last_Prayer_-_Walters_37113Chip and Joanna Gaines are the hosts of “Fixer-Upper,” a popular home remodeling show on HGTV.  They are openly devout Christians. And they are now under fire.  A BuzzFeed article is accusing them of being anti-gay.  This is because they belong to an evangelical congregation that does not conduct gay weddings and that holds to traditional teachings about sexual morality.  That means, according to the Buzzfeed author, that the church is anti-gay.  And because the Gaineses belong to this church, that means they must be anti-gay also.

As far as anyone knows, the Gaineses have never discriminated against a gay person (the charge against some Christian bakers and photographers who have turned down gay customers).  Nor has anyone found them saying anything negative about homosexuality (as in some charges of pastors “preaching hate.”)  No, their transgression is simply belonging to a church with traditional teachings.  For this, their jobs are threatened.

Now comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert is a Catholic.  He appears to hold conventionally liberal ideas and supports LGBT issues. But he belongs to a church that, by these standards, is anti-gay!  There are, in fact, lots of Catholics in the TV and entertainment industries.  Are they all to be disqualified like the Gaineses?  Or, to take another example, does BuzzFeed believe that Muslims, who surely have harsher views about homosexuality than even conservative Christians, should be thrown out of Hollywood?

So here we are.  Simply being a member of a conservative church may be enough to get you into serious trouble.

After the jump, an excellent article by a gay writer castigating his fellow LGBT supporters for their tactic of dealing with their opponents by shaming and silencing them, specifically criticizing how they are treating the Gainses. [Read more…]

Back in the U.S.A.!

photo-1474663898126-6f6f19a48b1d_optWe are back in the good old U.S. of A. after spending a month visiting our daughter and her family in Australia.  We enjoyed our time down under very much.  But it’s good to be back home.

I can’t believe that I was able to keep this blog going as usual despite the time difference (16.5 hours, a day ahead) and our many activities.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.

It was strange to watch the election from the other side of the world, but sometimes a little distance (literally) is clarifying.

After the jump, a cool picture of me in the Australian landscape that my son-in-law took.  I call it “Australian Sublime.” [Read more…]

“They have pierced my hands and feet”

Crucifixion_Grunewald_optAs we contemplate the prophecies of Christ for Advent, we should turn to perhaps the most remarkable of them all.  In Psalm 22, we have a first person prophecy (not “he” but “I” and “my”), one which takes us into the consciousness of Christ on the Cross.

Here we have the manner of His torment (“they have pierced my hands and feet”); the bodily racking of crucifixion (“all my bones are out of joint”); His thirst (“my tongue sticks to my jaws”); the mockery (“all who see me mock me”); the taunting (“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him”); the soldiers gambling for His clothing (“they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”).  And, most wrenching, His cry of being forsaken (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

I have heard it said that Jesus here was not really feeling forsaken, that He was expressing his faith by quoting this Psalm.  But it is more likely that the Psalm is quoting Jesus.  After all, the Psalm gives not only words that can be quoted but actions that were done to Jesus.

But of course there is faith here, even in this desolation.  There are even intimations of His resurrection (“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you”). 

After the jump, read the whole Psalm.  I’ve bolded the verses that most stand out for me.

[Read more…]

The word of the year

OED2_volumesThe Oxford English Dictionary–that mammoth reference book that chronicles the history of every word in our language–has announced the word of the year for 2016:  post-truth.

Most commenters are relating the term to the lack of truth in today’s politics, particularly with candidates that the commenter opposes.  The implication is that they think being “post-truth” is a bad thing, that they would like objective truth to come back as a category for our time.

But “post-truth” is nothing more than what postmodernism has done to all objective truth, the notion that we can create what we want to be true by our subjective decisions, that we can create what is true for us.  Thus, strictly speaking,  transgenderism–the view that we can select our own gender identity apart from our objective bodies– is post-truth.  Gay marriage, with its assumption that we can re-create sexual morality and social institutions at will, is post-truth.  The notions that all religions are the same, that attempts at persuasion are nothing more than impositions of power, that my truth is just as valid as your truth, are post-truth.  No wonder that politicians act in the same way.  But those who don’t really believe in object truth might as well embrace the term. [Read more…]

America’s first Independent president?

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_12Donald Trump not only beat the Democrats.  Before that, he beat the Republicans. Dan Balz argues that Trump, in effect, is America’s first Independent president.

He doesn’t mention it, but Bernie Sanders is an actual Independent, who ran in the Democratic primaries.  So this was the year a big proportion of Americans voted against both party establishments, though in the context of a two-party system.  What Trump did, Balz says, is pull off a “hostile takeover” of the Republican party.

Read his argument after the jump, after which I offer a few thoughts of my own.

[Read more…]