Fasting for 40 days before Easter

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  There are those who claim that these too have pagan origins, which is particularly ludicrous.  In his ongoing dismantling of the claims that Christian holidays have pagan origins,  Pastor Joseph Abrahamson tells about the true origin of Lent, the 40 day fast (not counting the six Sundays, which are feast days) before Easter.  See the details after the jump.

Lent always does me good.  Resolutions with a limited time frame are easier to keep.  The small acts of self-denial and self-discipline are good from me, as are eating less (and healthier) and my custom of reading some heavy-duty theology.  (This year:  Martin Chemnitz on the Two Natures of Christ.)  And observing Lent really does set up a joyous Easter.

I’ve noticed that even many Christians who do not follow the church year all that much are starting to observe Lent.

What about you?  What do you do for Lent, if anything?  What does it do for you?

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A proposal for a new national holiday

There is a proposal before the body politic to declare a 12th national holiday:  Baseball’s Opening Day!

Finally, a cause to unite all Americans.  Or not.  I suppose we could also make Super Bowl Sunday a national holiday, to keep the balance of American sports, and since federal workers usually don’t have to work on Sundays anyway, it wouldn’t cost anything.  Or, if 12 is too many federal holidays–that’s over two weeks of paid vacations–we could move a bunch of the existing ones to Sundays, since that once-sacred day is no longer generally set apart anymore.

So what about Opening Day being a national holiday?  Why should our holidays be all about the government, political leaders, unions, and war?  Why not a sports day? [Read more…]

Love songs

Roger Catlin interviews jazz singer Ann Hampton Callaway and country artist Rosanne Cash about love songs.  After the jump, I’ll give you what Ms. Callaway, a master of the form, says, including some real insights about the nature of love and her complaint that most of today’s pop songs, though about love, “don’t sound like love.”  And as a bonus Valentine’s Day present, I’ll add some samples of Ms. Callaway practicing what she’s preaching. [Read more…]

St. Valentine’s Day

Here is a good account of the history of St. Valentine’s Day, how it’s NOT related to the pagan festival of Lupercalia and how the death day of an early Christian martyr got connected with love and romance.  (Short answer:  Chaucer.)

So what can be said about the true meaning of St. Valentine’s Day in 2014?

Your predictions for 2014

Happy New Year’s!  It’s time to look ahead on the year to come and to make our annual predictions about what we expect to happen in the new year.  We will then review those predictions on December 31, as we did yesterday, heaping honors upon the best prognosticators.  So predict away!  After the jump, some reflections on predictions. [Read more…]

What’s out and what’s in

The Washington Post has an annual New Year’s feature listing what’s “out” from the previous year and what’s “in” for the year to come.  Many of us are so removed from fashion that we have no idea what the style mavens are talking about for either year.  Here is the list for 2013/2014 (you can click at least some of the items to see what they are referring to):  The 2014 In/Out List – The Washington Post.

If we don’t like this list, let’s make up one of our own.  What seemed cool and trendy in 2013 that now seems utterly lame and embarrassing?  What should replace them?  Put another way, what in 2013 are you completely sick of?  And what would you like to see instead?