Don’t make eye contact

“Look at me when I’m talking to you!” we might say when trying to get through to a child we are trying to discipline.  “He looked me straight in the eye,” we might say of someone trying to sell us something.  “Keep eye contact,” we might remind ourselves in a job interview.  According to the latest research, though, eye contact can actually make it harder to win someone over. [Read more…]

Clergy Appreciation Month

October is “Clergy Appreciation Month.”  After the jump, some thoughts on the matter from Ray Hartwig.  Let’s use the comments to honor the occasion. What do you appreciate about your pastor?  What has he done for you?  Why are you grateful for him? [Read more…]

The beards of the Red Sox

I now like the Red Sox.  How can you not pull for a team whose players have grown such serious beards?  These aren’t soul patches or little goatees.  These are long, bushy, Duck Dynasty kinds of beards.  This is no “chicks dig ’em” kind of fashion–I suspect women aren’t wild about them (correct me if I’m wrong)–but a true man’s kind of statement.  Watching the Red Sox is like seeing Alfred, Lord Tennyson at the plate with Stonewall Jackson on deck.

These are, in fact, a revival of 19th century type beards.  Maybe this will herald a new movement:  neo-Victorianism, complete with a new vogue for Victorian values such as  duty, honor, and sexual propriety. [Read more…]

Remodeling the Navy Yard building

We blogged about the phenomenon of tearing down or otherwise effacing buildings where terrible crimes were committed.  It was announced that the Navy Yard office building in Washington, D.C., the site of the recent mass shooting in which 12 people were killed, is going to be extensively remodeled at a cost of $6.4 million so as to change the interior so that it won’t conjure up bad associations. [Read more…]

‘”We have only done what was our duty”

The Gospel reading for last Sunday was the parable that makes perfectly clear why we are not saved by our works and why we cannot merit salvation:

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”  (Luke 17:7-10)

Even if we obeyed God perfectly and never did anything wrong, we wouldn’t deserve a reward.  That would simply be doing the bare minimum of what we are supposed to do.  We would only be doing our duty.  After the jump, see what our pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite did with this text, bringing out both Law and Gospel. [Read more…]

Electronic cigarettes

We Americans tend to get suspicious of people enjoying themselves too much, especially if it involves some kind of physical crutch.  Smoking was condemned as a vice even before the incontrovertible evidence of how bad it is for you.  But now electronic cigarettes have been invented, little battery-operated devices that look like a cigarette but involve no burning of any tobacco, just dispensing a nicotine-laced water vapor to breathe in.

But even though there have been no studies proving them harmful, the anti-smoking forces, not content with their victory over tobacco, are trying to put restrictions on electronic cigarettes also.  In Europe, on the other hand, the medical profession is lauding the devices as “infinitely less dangerous” than tobacco and far more effective than nicotine patches in helping people stop smoking. [Read more…]