The true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day

The true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day, which is today, is not to honor Ireland but to honor missionaries.  But we can honor Ireland too, which–thanks to St. Patrick and the church he brought to that island–saved civilization.  To celebrate the day, don’t just wear green.  Read this meditation by St. Patrick, which has been turned into a hymn and one of this blog’s most popular posts:  Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me.

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Not secularism but pluralism

Several decades ago, sociologists were writing about how modernization was accompanied by the rise of secularism.  Today, so-called “secularization theory” has been abandoned, including by its former advocates such as Peter Berger.  I came across a trenchant quote from him that defines the new issues.  From Eboo Patel in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The 1960s-era academics who advanced secularization theory confessed their errors long ago. As the sociologist Peter Berger told The Economist in 2007, “We made a category mistake. We thought the relationship was between modernization and secularization. In fact it was between modernization and pluralism.”

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How they hate us

We saw the movie The Kingsmen this weekend, a throwback to the over-the-top James Bond style “gentlemen spies.”  It was mostly entertaining, and lots of conservatives like it because the villain is a global warming fanatic who wants to exterminate the human race to save the planet.  But it included a scene in which the hero goes into a crowded church and just slaughters everybody, men and women alike, the bodies heaped up on the pews and in the chancel.

This was supposedly a “racist” church, though among its members’ crimes was being opposed to abortion. And the hero was supposedly sent on his rampage by the villain’s mind-control devise, and a couple of characters said how awful it was.  But the scene of church ladies getting shot in the face, the minister getting impaled, and crosses and a Bible used to kill people, was played as entertainment–not as shock–and there were just too many laughs in the movie theater.  It struck me just how much many people in the world hate Christians–just HATE us–and how what happens in the fantasy of the imagination may well happen some day in real life.

The comfort of Baptism

Dr. Benjamin Mayes is working with Concordia Publishing House on the new translations of Luther’s Works.  He was researching what Luther wrote about where Christians can find comfort.  Dr. Mayes writes, “Baptism is one of the comforting things, alongside various Bible passages, that console us regarding God’s particular love for us, giving peace of conscience and certainty of salvation. See LW 51:166 for an example: “Then, in this Christian church, you have ‘the forgiveness of sins.’ This term includes baptism, consolation upon a deathbed, the sacrament of the altar, absolution, and all the comforting passages [of the gospel].”  After the jump, two powerful quotations from Luther on the comfort that we can find in Baptism. [Read more...]

ISIS abducts 150 Assyrian Christians

The Assyrian Church, which is neither Catholic nor Eastern Orthodox, traces its history to the first century, all the way to the Apostles Thomas, Thaddeus, and Bartholomew.  Now, these Syrian Christians, as in those early days, are experiencing brutal persecution and martyrdom.

ISIS has rounded up 150 Assyrian Christians from Syrian villages.  Their fate is unknown at this time.   We should pray for them.   Are you seeing much outrage at what the jihadists are doing to Christians, either from the world at large or even from Western Christians? [Read more...]

Church attendance statistics, state by state

Gallup has done a study of church attendance in each state.  See the results after the jump.  Is there anything we can do with this?

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