The new Doctor Who is a woman


The latest regeneration of Doctor Who is a woman, played by Jodie Whittaker.

The actress is best known for her role as Beth Latimer on Broadchurch (a really good mystery, especially the first season).  She played the bereaved mother, co-starring with David Tennant, a former Doctor Who.

In the series, the character of the time-and-space traveling Time Lord regenerates every time he dies.  That is, every time the actor playing Doctor Who quits the show or is replaced.  This will be the 13th Doctor.

Whovians [what you call Doctor Who fans], do you mind the character being played by a woman?

Obviously, gender politics is a factor with BBC, but can this work in terms of the ongoing story?

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The earth will soon be uninhabitable

Within a few decades, according to an article in New York Magazine, global warming will make our planet uninhabitable.  Human beings will become extinct due to heat death, the end of food, climate plagues (such as bubonic plague germs thawing out when the icecap melts), unbreathable air, perpetual war, permanent economic collapse, and poisoned oceans.

In fact, if this time table is correct, most of us now reading this blog will die of one or more of those factors, each of which is discussed in a section of the article.  Read the article linked after the jump.

Now a number of climate scientists, including those who warn about global warming, are saying that this apocalyptic doomsaying gets the science wrong and does more harm than good.

Why is that?

Do you think there is something to these warnings.  Are they an attempt to get people’s attention in the face of public skepticism about the problem?  Is it better to give the worse case scenario rather than a more measured treatment if the purpose is to “wake people up”?

Compare this prophecy to religious end-of-the-world proclamations.  Is it a sign that environmentalism has become a religion, complete with “Repent for the End is Near!” preaching?

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Misunderstanding the cultural influence of the Reformation


The cultural influence of the Reformation is getting lots of attention on this 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses.  But the topic is often treated with a theological ignorance that is surprising to find in works of scholarship.

The Nation has a long article on the subject, quoted and linked after the jump, which is essentially a review essay of several new books on Luther and Protestantism.   As the article observes, the Reformation is often credited or blamed for opposite influences:  for a new personal piety and for the rise of secularism; for recovering the Bible and for launching modernity; for the rise of individualism and for the rise of the nation state; for inventing freedom and for capitalist oppression, etc., etc.

The article by Elizabeth Bruenig, drawing on the books she is reviewing, says that what Luther did was to make religion a private, inward matter.  Whereas the external world–including the state, the society, the economic order–was irrelevant spiritually.  Therefore, it was allowed to run along on its own without a religious context (as in Catholicism).  Thus the rise of secularism, modernity, science, and a world that does not need to consider God.

Meanwhile, the inner spiritual life that Luther encouraged had the additional effect of questioning all external authority, making a space for freedom and undermining institutions, which also had a secularizing and eventually revolutionary effect.

But this analysis, while citing Luther’s doctrine of the Two Kingdoms,  completely misunderstands what it means–to the point of interpreting it to mean its opposite.  And it utterly ignores one of Luther’s greatest and most culturally influential theological contributions, the place where he directly addressed the value of the “secular” realm and to the role it plays in the Christian’s faith; namely, his doctrine of vocation.

What other examples of theological illiteracy do you see in this article?  (Hint:  Did Luther really teach a theology based on inwardness, with individuals going inside themselves for a purely interior relationship with God?)

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OK, try this health care bill


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has released yet another health care bill, designed to pick up support from both conservative and moderate Republicans who opposed the previous version for different reasons.

This new plan to replace–or, some say, revise–Obamacare keeps more of that program’s taxes and provides more money for opioid addiction, low-income subsidies, and insurance company relief.  A proposal aimed at conservatives is to allow insurance companies to offer stripped-down policies–not loaded up with government requirements–at a low cost.

McConnell can pass the bill with only two Republican defections.  Senators Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Susan Colllins (Maine) have already said they won’t support the revised bill.  (Ten Republican senators rejected the earlier option.)  So he has to win over the rest.

Do you think this bill is enough of an improvement to pass?  Do you think it should?  Details of the plan after the jump. [Read more…]

Reading the language of creation


I’m at the Conference on Classical Lutheran Education in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the theme of which this year is “A Pedagogy of Truth.”  Our keynote speaker is Rev. John Hill, who is giving a brilliant series of lectures on the concept of truth according to the Bible (delving deeply into the original languages), the Lutheran Confessions, and Christian theology in general.  His message is not just “truth is objective!” in a simplistic end-of-the-discussion sort of way.  Rather, he shows that the Biblical notion of truth is rich, complex, and provocative.  (If Christians want to counter the postmodernist view that truth is relative, they need to understand what the Christian view of truth really entails.  Rev. Hill has got to publish these lectures.  CPH editors, take notice.)

Here is one example. . . .Creation, he says, is God’s speech.  As the Bible teaches, God created the universe by His Word (e.g., Psalm 33:6).  Rev. Hill quoted Luther’s Commentary on Genesis, in which Luther says that “God speaks reality.”  When we speak, Luther said, in grammatical language. But God’s speech involves things coming into being.  We are all words of God.  The created word is spoken by the uncreated Word.

The connection of creation to language is evident in those beautiful but puzzling words of Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above[a] proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.

So all creation is a kind of language.  But to whom is God speaking in the language of creation?  To us! Rev. Hill said that human beings “are meant to hear and to read this language.”

He tossed off this provocative statement and moved on to a related topic.  But notice what we have here:  a new way to think about learning!  a theology of education! [Read more…]

Oregon to force taxpayers to pay for abortion


Oregon is enacting a law that will require all insurance companies to pay for abortions, without a co-pay, and will set aside $10,000,000 in taxpayer money to pay for abortions through Medicaid. [Read more…]