So why the loss of interest in the NFL?

9791303373_196450407d_zTelevision ratings are way down for professional football games.  The NFL is trying to figure out why the sudden loss of interest.

I have to say that I am not as interested in the games as I used to be, even last year, and I’m not sure why.  I don’t think it’s just because the Packers aren’t doing all that well.  I saw them through rougher times.  And it’s not because the games are too long.  I like long games.  And it’s not because Colin Kaepernick is disrespecting the flag.  He’s getting sacked so much that a patriotic fan might take some satisfaction in watching that.  I’m just kind of tired of it.  I still get excited about College Football (go Sooners!) and I’ve started following the NBA (go Thunder!).  But the NFL is giving me a “meh” feeling.

So let me consult you.  Are you still following NFL games as avidly as you used to?  If not, why not? [Read more…]

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

christ-1618197_640_optAnother remarkable prophecy of Christ in the Old Testament (the study of which is a classic devotion for Advent), is Isaiah 9:1-7.  Not only do we learn that the Messiah will live in Galilee and will be the eternal Davidic King.  Verse 6 also establishes His deity and does so in Trinitarian terms:

    And his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The child who is born to us will be called “Mighty God.”

We also have an intimation of the inter-relationship and the unity of the Persons within the Trinity.  The Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, but rather all three are distinct persons within one unity. And yet here the titles and the functions of the Holy Spirit (“Wonderful Counselor”) and God the Father (“Everlasting Father”), as well as the Son (“Prince of Peace”) are all ascribed to the Son who will be given to us. [Read more…]

Trump’s diplomacy

Taiwan_2009_HuaLien_City_Roadside_Cemetery_FRD_8181The diplomatic establishment is all atwitter about Donald Trump’s alleged gaffes, such as taking phone calls from the president of Taiwan and from the president of the Philippines.

Talking to the president of Taiwan is deeply offensive to China.  The phone call is a violation of our “one China” policy and constitutes a tacit recognition of the free democratic nation that China claims for its own.  Never mind that the U.S. gives military aid to the island nation, which is also a major trading partner.  Diplomatically, it doesn’t exist.

But Trump, in refusing to tip-toe around Chinese sensitivities, is simply signaling that he is going to get tough with China, which is what he promised to do in his campaign.

As for Rodrigo Duterte, the foul-mouthed president of the Philippines who is using extra-judicial death squads against drug dealers, he is a pariah. After personally insulting President Barack Obama, Duterte announced that he is cutting back on the long-term military relationship with the U.S. and is going to start favoring China.  Some say that Duterte and Trump are kindred spirits.  We must hope not, at least about the death squads, but Trump may have won over Duterte–who is glowing with the attention from the American president–and thus retained an important military ally.  Which will also torment China.

Read Marc Thiesen’s analysis of Trump’s diplomacy after the jump.

[Read more…]

More on the banned Down syndrome video

Boy_with_Down_SyndromeWe blogged about that video showing happy Down Syndrome children that was banned by the French government on the grounds that it might “disturb the conscience” of women who have had abortions.  (You can see the video at the link.)

George Will, who has a Down son, weighs in on the issue, explaining the origin of the video (which was made to reassure new parents) and making the point that this is a case of extending the concept of protection from being disturbed associated with college campuses to the general public.  He closes with a strong pro-life message.

Notice also in this account of banning factual information who is being “post-truth.”

[Read more…]

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…]