“The last honest liberal” dies 

Hentoff_bioNat Hentoff, 91, has died.  The jazz critic for the Village Voice, Hentoff described himself as a left-wing Jewish atheist.  But he became a pro-life crusader, alienating his fellow liberals for his strong opposition to abortion.  Hentoff was a civil libertarian, fiercely devoted to the Constitution, who quit the ACLU because of its support of speech codes.

Hentoff had been called “the last honest liberal” for his consistency in extending the left’s concern for the poor and marginalized to the most poor and marginalized of them all:  unborn children. [Read more…]

Empire of Desire

CiceroI have long said that we shouldn’t look for analogies between our cultural problems and the fall of the Roman empire.  We should look for parallels with the fall of the Roman Republic.  Carl Trueman says that while the position of Christianity is changing, secular society itself is changing too.  He sees the rise of what he calls an “empire of desire” (a concept also treated by R. R. Reno, whom he links to).  He calls for new Ciceroes who have the integrity, the wisdom, and the eloquence to defend our Republic and to resist the Imperial temptations.

I would just add that while the rise of globalism and American internationalism have the flavor of Empire, the resurgent nationalist movements (Trump, Brexit, the European nationalist parties) would seem to resist Empire.  Don’t they?  Or does the over all authority of “desire” undermine less centralized republics also? [Read more…]

Top 10 Cranach posts of 2016

Cranach's sealI know you are sick of holidays and want to get back to normality, but I can’t resist New Years retrospectives.  Other blogs are looking back at their top posts of last year, based on the number of page views, so I did too.

The most popular posts are from years ago, but somehow they got into Google’s algorithm.  Now, if anybody in the whole world wonders, “Why do some people say ‘Merry Christmas’ and others say ‘Happy Christmas’?” Google takes them to Cranach.  The same with St. Patrick’s prayer.  And I think my post on Hector & Achilles must be linked on a study guide somewhere.

Otherwise, the election, particularly the Republican primaries, dominated our readers’ interests.  I’m glad my review of the memoir by Tom Oden, who died later in the year, got quite a bit of attention.

Pageviews on a particular post go up because they are linked to on other web sites and because they are widely shared on social media.  So I’m glad our discussions here can have a reach beyond our blog.

See the top 10 posts after the jump. [Read more…]

Dave Barry’s 2016 Year in Review

Dave_BarryOne of my New Year’s Eve rituals is to read Dave Barry’s annual Year in Review.

The month-by-month breakdown helps me remember and sort of relive the year that is ending.  But it’s filtered through off-the-wall hilarity and on-target satire of all sides.

If you didn’t read it over the weekend, it’s not too late.  I’ll get you started after the jump. [Read more…]

Anniversaries in 2017

Luther95thesesThe new year will mark some important anniversaries.  The biggest will be the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 theses and thus the beginning of the Reformation.  The significance of that event–not just for theology but for culture, education, socio-economic change, and the overall history of Western civilization–will be intensely debated, especially as October 31 approaches.

Was the Reformation a good thing or a bad thing?  A high point of Christianity or the beginning of its decline?  A recovery of ancient Biblical truth or the beginning of the modern era?  We Lutherans have a special stake in all of this, of course, and we should use this attention as an opportunity to make our message–namely, the Gospel–clear.

After the jump, consider some other important anniversaries in 2017.   [Read more…]

Make your predictions for 2017

3706551411_cd226727fe_zNow it is time to look forward, to speculate about what this new year will bring.

Lots of question marks hover over 2017.  Will Donald Trump make America great again, or will his presidency prove to be a major fiasco?  Will the economy boom or will it collapse?  Will Christianity thrive or be declared a hate crime?  Will the pendulum start swinging back, or will the sexual revolution keep going further?

But these are big issues.  When we check the predictions at the end of 2017 in our annual contest, the winning guesses tend to be highly specific and seemingly unlikely at the time.   You can make all the predictions you want and your mistakes won’t be held against you, so feel free to take risks and make outside-the-box projections.  (This is speculation, not prophecy, so the Deuteronomy 18 rule will not be in effect.)

Yesterday we reviewed the predictions for 2016, so that will give you an idea about how our little contest works.

Let us begin:  What do you think will happen in 2017?


Image by Duncan Hall, “Envision Your Future,” Creative Commons License