Presidents Day

Today is Presidents Day.  Would you say that this holiday has lost something?  Has the presidency lost its grandeur, even its respect?

Presidents Day was a mash-up of the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but that plural (not possessive) honors them all.  Most of our presidents, beyond those great two, were far from paragons.  But as we contemplate the current presidential election and the candidates we have to choose from, do you find the prospects for that office rather depressing?

Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) says that we have defined the presidency down.  He gives some choice and rather funny characterizations of four of the contenders, which I quote after the jump.  But his analysis of why our standards have sunk so low is thought-provoking.  I’ll try to summarize it. [Read more…]

A fine video on “What Is Lent?”

[Read more…]

Why we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day

The influence of Christianity on our civilization is such that even secular-seeming holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day derive, if indirectly, from the church.  St. Valentine’s Day is a curious one, a celebration of romantic love.  I think this is a good thing to celebrate, but why do we do it, and what’s the connection with St. Valentine?

St. Valentine was a martyr for the faith, giving his life for his Christian convictions during the Roman persecutions.  (I hope someone is recording the names of the martyrs who are giving their lives for their Christian convictions during the current Islamic persecutions.  We should put their names on the Christian calendar too.)

But why is St. Valentine associated with romantic love?  You will hear stories that he secretly presided over weddings for Roman soldiers, despite the Emperor’s forbidding of marriage.  And that he gave a message–some say, shaped like a heart–to his jailer’s daughter, signing it, “your Valentine.”  You might hear other accounts of why he became the patron saint of lovers.

But those stories are late additions to the saint’s legend.  They were added after St. Valentine’s Day was already associated with love, the first time being in the 1380s.

I have an alternative explanation. [Read more…]

Giving up something for Lent

There is a great piece on Lent in the Federalist by my friend Todd Peperkorn. He makes an excellent case for the helpfulness of giving stuff up during Lent, especially in this day and age.  He does more than that, though, so read it all, linked and excerpted after the jump. [Read more…]

The most romantic things you can do

Go to church together.  Pray together.   According to a new study, couples who do those things have stronger and more satisfying relationships.

Read the whole article by Rachel Lu in The Federalist, linked to an excerpted after the jump.  She also ties this research into that Swiss study that found that when the father goes to church, the children will go to church when they are adults (and vice versa).

[Read more…]

The imposition of ashes and God’s gift of repentance

What an Ash Wednesday service we had:  the Litany AND the imposition of ashes AND the sacrament of Holy Communion.  The grandkids thought it was cool to have ashes put on their heads, but it was hard to see them with the mark of death upon them, but that’s the way it is.  I think Pastor Cwirla’s objection to the imposition of ashes that I blogged about yesterday–that a pastor is to convey forgiveness, not another reminder of sin and death–is answered when the service includes the sacrament, so that the pastor is giving both the law followed by the gospel.

But I want to share with you another take on the imposition of ashes.  Sandra Ostapowich, in a movingly honest and well-written post, writes about her struggles to apply Lenten disciplines, to conquer her sins, and even to repent of them.  But then the imposition of ashes reminds her of how God does everything for her salvation, including giving her the gift of repentance. [Read more…]


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