When Christmas was Epiphany

The Lutheran Witness, under the new editorship of my former student Adriane Dorr, has gotten to be a really good magazine.  If you are one of the many former subscribers who stopped taking it, renew your subscription.  Anyway, a recent issue has an article on Epiphany that was quite an epiphany for me.  We had discussed the origins of Christmas.  Epiphany, it turns out, was celebrated long before Christmas in the church.  Actually, the birth of Christ was one of the “epiphanies,” or revelations of the Son of God, that the season celebrated.  From the article by Terence Maher:

Epiphany is a much older feast than Christmas, but it’s largely forgotten by most, lost in the shuffle by many, and celebrated by a few. Now how did that happen?

By the late fourth century, Epiphany was celebrated on Jan. 6. The earliest known reference dates from 361, and in those days the references indicate not just the appearance of the kings—epiphany is an English form of a Greek word meaning “appearance” or “manifestation”—but also the appearance or manifestation, the epiphany, of God, including His birth.

It’s not that there wasn’t Christmas. This is Christmas as well as a celebration of all the other events in the life of the young Jesus up to and including His Baptism and first public miracle at the wedding in Cana. In short, it’s a big day!

via The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – The Lutheran Witness.

The article also says how Vatican II changed Epiphany into a moveable feast–one of those floating holidays–so that in the Church of Rome, there are no longer necessarily 12 days of Christmas!  (Would that  Roman Catholics would be more catholic in their practices!)  And other interesting and illuminating facts.

The “I have a dream” speech

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Clarence Jones, an aide to Martin Luther King, Jr., recounts the background of the famous “I have a dream” speech, which really is a spectacular piece of oratory.  According to his account, Dr. King worked on a policy-type speech, showing it to a number of different individuals and getting their input.  But when he actually got up there at the Lincoln Memorial to speak, the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson was in the crowd and said, “tell them about the dream!”  Dr. King then improvised the speech, turning it into a sermon, which gave it its power.

See On Martin Luther King Day, remembering the first draft of ‘I Have a Dream’.

I remember, growing up in small town Oklahoma in the 1950s and 1960s, seeing side-by-side water fountains, one with a sign for “whites” and one with a sign for “coloreds.” The town swimming pool was only open to black people on Wednesdays, after which the water would be changed for white people to swim in the rest of the week. I don’t know if black people were allowed to vote, but they certainly were not in much of the South.

I also remember the Civil Rights Movement and the change in the sentiments of that small town. It was, first of all, an application of transcendent morality to the treatment of black people. I recall vividly the appeal to Christian ethics and how churches of all stripes were exerting leadership. I remember how moved people were by Dr. King’s principles of non-violence and non-resistance. The Civil Rights Movement triumphed by simply winning people over.

The Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King was not just a political fight; rather, it was a moral crusade. It changed both political parties. It was predicated on moral principles being objectively valid. Churches exerted moral authority.

So Martin Luther King Day is a holiday that conservatives, as well as liberals, can celebrate.

Ike’s warnings

Today is the 50th anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address.  Ike was dismissed at the time as not being that great of a president, but historians now have rehabilitated his reputation and are realizing what a good president he really was. The Washington Post, which also printed a story about the composition of Martin Luther King’s famous speech (see my other blog entry) also printed an account of Ike’s farewell address written by  his granddaughter Susan Eisenhower:

I’ve always found it rather haunting to watch old footage of my grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower, giving his televised farewell address to the nation on Jan. 17, 1961. The 50-year-old film all but crackles with age as the president makes his earnest, uncoached speech. I was 9 years old at the time, and it wasn’t until years later that I understood the importance of his words or the lasting impact of his message.

Of course, the speech will forever be remembered for Eisenhower’s concerns about a rising “military-industrial complex,” which he described as “a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions” with the potential to acquire – whether sought or unsought – “unwarranted influence” in the halls of government. . . .

As early as 1959, he began working with his brother Milton and his speechwriters to craft exactly what he would say as he left public life. The speech would become a solemn moment in a decidedly unsolemn time, offering sober warnings for a nation giddy with newfound prosperity, infatuated with youth and glamour, and aiming increasingly for the easy life.”There is a reoccurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties,” he warned in his final speech as president. “. . . But each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs . . . balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future.”

While the farewell address may be remembered primarily for the passages about the military-industrial complex, Ike was rising above the issues of the day to appeal to his countrymen to put the nation and its future first. “We . . . must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

As I see my grandfather’s black-and-white image deliver these words, a simple thought lingers in my mind: This man was speaking for me, for us. We are those grandchildren. We are the great beneficiaries of his generation’s prudence and sacrifice.

via 50 years after the ‘military-industrial complex,’ what Eisenhower really meant.

So what about our grandchildren?

List of common misconceptions

Something really interesting from Wikipedia:  An extensive List of common misconceptions in history, science, religion, sports, travel, and technology.  The list includes my pet peeve, the myth that the ancients believed that the earth is flat, as well as many similar urban legends and scholarly bloopers.

Did any of these surprise you?  Do you want to challenge any of these misconceptions to argue that they are correct conceptions?

HT: Joe Carter

Your predictions for 2011

So, what do you predict will happen in 2011?  The more specific you are, you more amazed we will be if you are right.   Around this time next year, we will check the results to praise you for your foresight, or not.  (See below.)

Checking your predictions for last year

It’s time to revisit the predictions some of you made last year around this time.

The big winner:  Chryst, who predicted that Matt Harrison would be elected LCMS president on the first ballot with 54% of the vote.  He actually received 54.95%, but that is close enough and an amazing feat of prediction, especially for last January when Harrison’s prospects seemed dim.

Dan Kempin also nailed the political developments, though he squandered his prophetic title by predicting the dominance of the Vikings and the apotheosis of Brett Favre.

Other football predictions were outrageously wrong.  So, fortunately, were the predictions about terrorism.

Several people predicted fairly well what would happen to the economy.  As for tODD, I can’t tell if he is right or if he would have been stoned in the Old Testament days.

The biggest loser was Cindy R., who, however, due to her last prediction, like last year, also was one of the biggest winners.

Well, see for yourself.  Who else deserves praise or ignominy?:

EricM

1 – (not too much of a prediction here but…) Health care reform passed with no public option and no funding for abortion. The President and Democrats declare victory as they didn’t want to drag the issue too far into 2010 since it is an election year. It will be hard to call it reform as many of the original goals (covering the uninsured, decreasing costs) are not achieved.

2 – The economy continues a long slow recovery. Unemployment is an issue for most of the year as the percentage of unemployed does not go below 8%. However, the decrease in unemployment (from 10%) is seen as a victory in the press leading into the 2010 election. Regulations are increased on a number of industries such as banking which provides the appearance of stability while limiting the economic recovery.

3 – The 2010 election decreases the Democrat majorities. There are two possibilities as to the extent of the decrease: a) if the Republicans continue doing what they have been doing (i.e. not returning to their roots of lower taxes and smaller government) then they are still the minority in both houses with a 55-45 split in the Senate. b) if the Republicans see their error and go back to their roots their victory is much bigger. They win the majority in the Senate and are very close in the House. State elections follow a similar trend. Unfortunately, I think it will be more (a) than (b).

4 – Iraq stablizes and we continue to pull troops out.

5 – Afganistan is a mess. The government is not stable (due to the corruption). President Obama is forced to dance around his promise of troop withdrawal. In the end, the President searches for some way to declare victory and to start bringing troops home but he is unable to find one.

John

I predict that Israel will smuggle a truck carrying a low altitude nuclear incendiary device (LANID) into Tehran and obliterate Iran, but make it look like North Korea did it.

Peter Leavitt

We may predict a further strengthening of Christian theological orthodoxy and a further weakening of the dominant secular liberal elites.

We may predict that the the 2010 elections will yield enough Democratic defeats to deter Obama and the Democratic Congress from furthering their large spending, radical agenda.

We may predict further strenuous though largely civil debate on this excellent blog-site.

A.D.P.

You, Dr. Veith, will eat popcorn several times this year.

tODD

I think it’s easy to predict that Republicans will increase their numbers in Congress in this year’s elections. But by how much? I have no real idea, but I’ll predict that Democrats maintain control of both houses. That way, if I’m right, I’m right. And if I’m wrong, we have more gridlock. Win-win!

I’ll also be so bold as to predict that there will be an increase in the number and tenor of partisan complaints against Obama and Democrats in general. Some of these will be justified, but the vast number will be silly and overblown. (If it helps, I will point these instances out to you in the months to come.)

The US will move away from a terrorism policy of expensive state-based wars and towards quick-strike actions, many covert. (Is this really a prediction?) Naturally, this will be derided by Republicans and conservatives for not taking the “war on terror(ism)” seriously.

And, defying all odds (and logic), the Rice Owls will win the Super Bowl. (Certainly a long shot, but man, if that does happen, just think of the glory!)

Booklover

What is a Rice Owl???

I predict that the baby of the family will barely graduate, causing me to have a shock-induced stroke, causing me to have a vision of Obama beckoning, “We will take caaarrrre of you,” causing me to pass on and be with Jesus, causing the rest of you to be left on this earth enviously where you don’t belong.

I just had a fabulous date with hubby and am in a weird mood. Please indulge.

Chryst
I predict Matt Harrison will be elected as LCMS president by a vote of 54% on the first ballot.

Cindy R.

I predict that Texas will defeat Alabama in the BCS national championship game, and Colt McCoy will be named the game’s MVP. The BCS will revamp their system before the government steps in to do it for them.

The Packers will meet the Vikings in the NFL playoffs, and the Packers will win.

Dan Kempin

I’m a little late, but here goes:

In 2010, the political opposition will accuse the president of gross ignorance and incompetence, pointing out that he clearly has no idea of the consequence of his actions. They will also accuse him of being a shrewd, though evil, genius who is manipulating events masterfully according to a larger plan.

Problems with the economy will be placed at the feet of the president and his party (possibly dusting off the old classic, “It’s the economy, stupid,” though I am not sure about that detail.) The president, in turn, will respond to this criticism by blaming his predecessor.

All of this will lead to a political movement for “change in Washington,” using such words as “groundswell,” “grass roots,” and “backlash.”

That is my prediction for 2010.

I would also like to submit this prediction for all future years of this contest, and if possible submit it retroactively for every year I have been alive.

Dan Kempin

I also predict that the Viking will be superbowl champs, thus cementing Brett Favre’s legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time.

(That way, like tODD, if I’m right, I’m right, and if I’m wrong, the Vikings lose. Win-win!)

Jonathan
Would that I were wrong, a major terrorist attack on the U.S., leading to a third front in the war.

Economist Doug

I predict the economy will fall back into recession later this year (although it may not be recognized until early 2011).

Unemployment will fluctuate between 8.5% – 10.5% fairly randomly.

Housing will begin another slump (if the buyer’s tax credits are ever taken away).

In 2009 Michigan, Maine and Rhode Island lost population. This year several more states will lose population.

A spate of suspicious deaths of wealthy elderly people will occur in 2010. The deaths will be linked to the scheduled dramatic rise in the Estate Tax in 2011.

Cindy R.

I predict that, 355 days from now, I will be declared the biggest loser of the 2010 predictions contest.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X