Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose

I stumbled upon this post by Westminster professor Carl Trueman from way back in 2007:

Listening to Janis Joplin the other day, I was struck by two things. First, my eleven year old son (who had never, to my knowledge, heard Joplin) commented as he heard the first bars of `Me and Bobby McGee’ that he didn’t know I had a Joplin album. To recognise the voice like that at 11 must make him a blues-rock prodigy.

Second, I suddenly realised why I liked her (and, remember, she did win `The Ugliest Man of the Year’ contest at her High School#. It’s the Lutheran lyrics of Bobby McGee: `Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.’ Surely this captures the Lutheran notion of the freedom we have in Christ. OK, she may not have seen it #or Kristofferson who, I think, wrote the lyric#; but I’m sure Luther would have approved and downed a good German beer in her honour. Only when we realise we have nothing to lose because we are in Christ can we truly give ourselves in service to others. That’s why Lutheran #and Protestant) ethics are really so demanding.

via Janis Joplin and Martin Luther – Reformation21 Blog.

I need to add that Kris Kristofferson, the author of the song, was, in fact, brought up in the Lutheran church.  I don’t know where he is spiritually now–perhaps some of you know more about that–but he has other songs that exhibit what we might call a Lutheran sensibility (e.g., “Sunday Morning Coming Down”).

Anyway, I’m struck that Prof. Trueman was struck by that defintion of freedom.  He does not, however, unpack what he means.

How does the line from “Bobby McGee”  express the “freedom we have in Christ”?

Land rush for domain names

A host of new domain names are going up on the internet, with unintended consequences:

There’s been a scramble to snap up domain names for the Internet’s newest designation — .xxx — but not necessarily from those you’d expect. Adult sites have reserved their spot in the newly labeled section of the Web, but so have companies, charities, celebrities and politicians.

Try “barackobama.xxx,” “angelinajolie.xxx” or “redcross.xxx” and you’ll find yourself faced with a black screen with gray type stating: “This domain has been reserved from registration.” In other words, someone’s made sure those brand names are protected from the association with porn.

Companies, the rich and famous and regulators in Washington now are worried that the rush to defensively buy Web addresses will only worsen — and grow more costly — as the organization in charge of doling out real estate on the Internet prepares to unleash an infinite number of Web suffixes to add to the familiar .com, .net and .edu. Some experts say the move will change the landscape of the Internet forever.

In January, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit association tasked with managing the Internet’s addresses, known as domain names, will begin taking applications from anyone with $185,000 and a desire to reserve their own suffix on the Web. The group oversaw the launch of .xxx last week. Coming after ICANN’s review process could be .god, .abortion, .sex and .georgetown, as well as thousands of others. .  . .

The expansion of suffixes may also compel anyone with a brand name to buy multiple Web addresses to protect its image and prevent customers from being tricked by artfully misspelled sites. ICANN, for instance, handed over .xxx to ICM Registry, which has been charging $200 to trademark holders for each Web address they want to reserve.

The National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, has sent letters to Congress criticizing the rollout of the domain names for lacking transparency — and for the potential cost. Besides buying Web sites to prevent themselves from being associated with a .xxx or a .sex suffix, companies may have to fork over $185,000 to ICANN, plus legal fees, to control a suffix of their own. Plus they would have to maintain useless domains at a cost of $50,000 to $100,000 annually, the NRF said.

“It’s a little bit like the Oklahoma land rush,” said Mallory Duncan, NRF general counsel. “You come in now and pay a quarter of a million dollars or forever hold your peace. That’s not a prudent way to run a business.”

via ICANN is ready for battle over expansion of Web suffixes – The Washington Post.

Supremes to consider Arizona’s immigration law

The Supreme Court will rule on whether or not the federal government can overrule Arizona’s strict immigration laws.  This is only one of some big cases the Supremes have taken on:

The Supreme Court on Monday intervened in another high-profile case testing the authority of the federal government, saying it will review Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants, which inspired similar state efforts across the country.

Next month, the court will hear an emergency appeal from Texas that questions the role of federal courts in overseeing the deeply partisan issue of political re­districting. And in March, the court has scheduled 51 / 2 hours of oral arguments over the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care overhaul.

All will be decided before the court breaks for its summer recess and as the 2012 presidential and congressional campaigns move into high gear.

via Supreme Court to hear challenge to Arizona’s immigration law – The Washington Post.

How about Ron Paul, after all?

With one after another Republican presidential candidates rising to the top, then flaming out, it is time to seriously consider Ron Paul.

He’s libertarian, but he’s also pro-life, a devout Christian by all accounts (raised Lutheran, no less,  in the ELCA, but now Baptist–from an LCMS point of view, is it better to be a liberal Lutheran or a conservative Baptist?).  Anyway, he is anti-war (conservatives now taking the lead in that department).  No one doubts his commitment to small government.  Yes, he believes in legalizing drugs and prostitution, but would you take that in return for what else he offers?

I know some of you are already Ron Paul fans.  (Feel free to state your case.)  Would the rest of you now consider him?

Can Science explain everything?

From David Wheeler at the Chronicle of Higher Education blog:

There’s a new bully on the intellectual block, shoving scholars around. Lots of them are caving into the threats. The bully’s name is “scientism,” the belief that science has a monopoly on all real knowledge. All other knowledge, scientism asserts, is simply opinion, irrationality, or utter nonsense.

That was the perspective Ian Hutchinson, professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offered at an event titled “Can Science Explain Everything?” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science this week. . . .

Hutchinson, theauthor of Monopolizing Knowledge: A Scientist Refutes Religion-Denying, Reason-Destroying Scientism, said that science is in the middle of confrontation with religious faith and with many other forms of belief. He is proud of science’s achievements thus far. But he thinks that, in part because of its overwhelming success, members of other disciplines, seeking the authority that science has, try to make themselves out to be scientists. An alternative course, he suggests, would be for scholars such as sociologists and political scientists to firmly declare that they have ways of building knowledge that are simply different from science, not “unscientific.”

Science has two key elements, reproducibility and clarity, Hutchinson said. Reproducibility means essentially that an experiment done in one place by one person can be repeated somewhere else by someone else. Clarity refers to the unambiguous nature of science’s measurements, descriptions, and classifications. History is an example of a discipline that has produced real knowledge that is not scientific knowledge, he said. History at its best is based on facts, but historians cannot reproduce Henry VIII’s exploits to find out if accounts of them are true.

Mr. Hutchinson listed other phenomena that may be “true” but that he believes are outside of science’s scope: the beauty of a sunset, the justice of a verdict, or the terror of a war. Many humans may share similar perceptions of these phenomenon but the basis of those perceptions will lack clarity. “Ambiguity is an intrinsic part of these things,” he said.

Where, exactly, does God fit into this picture? Mr. Hutchinson says that while the universe has physical laws, God may be behind them. Science would be helpless to detect an act of God that violates the laws of physics since it would not be reproducible. Scientists should have no problem being religious, he said.
Enter Lisa Randall, a woman with an astonishing range of achievements from a libretto for an opera to experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, in Geneva. She studies cosmology and theoretical particle physics and is the author of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World.”

While polite in tone, Ms. Randall said the term “scientism” was embarrassing and an act of name calling, at a time when the discussion about tackling the world’s problems needs to be elevated. “It shouldn’t be embarrassing or quaint to be earnest about facts or logic,” she said. And, she added “Why do politicians feel comfortable talking about God and religion and not about science and mathematics?”

Art is important she said, but it ultimately operates through the filter of human perceptions and emotions. Religion, she said, is also a human phenomenon that serves social needs. “If you say it makes me happy or helps me live my life, I’m not going to stop you,” she said.

But, she said, religion is different to different people. Scientists, while they have their petty fights, are ultimately able to create knowledge they can agree on.

In audience questions after the two talks, one person cut to the chase and demanded “yes” or “no” answers to the evening’s challenge: “Can science explain everything?”

“No,” said Mr. Hutchinson.

“We don’t know,” said Ms. Randall.

via Can Science Explain Everything? – Percolator – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

HT:  Jackie

“And with your spirit”

The Roman Catholic Church has changed the liturgical response to the greeting, “The Lord be with you” back to “And with your spirit.” This is a change from the more modern liturgies that had switched to the more colloquial “And also with you.”

The more modern Lutheran liturgies of the 1980s made the same change, though users of the older services–as well as Divine Service 3 of the new Lutheran Service Book–continued to say “And with your spirit.”

My question is, What exactly does that mean?

The new Catholic explanations I’ve read say that the “spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit. The greeting thus recognizes the priest as bringing the Holy Spirit with him.

But that doesn’t seem to make linguistic sense. The Lord be with the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit IS the Lord.

I think what’s happening is that the congregation is praying for the pastor–specifically, praying for his spirit, for his soul–as he, mortal that he is, becomes an instrument through whom God will act by means of His Word and sacraments.

Is that right? Or are there other meanings?


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