The all-Lutheran music channel

The multi-talented Lori Lewis has launched an internet radio channel devoted to Lutheran music.  That is to say, to 16th and 17th century sacred music with lots of hymns, chorales, and Bach.  The channel is called Wittenberg Nightingale, after an epithet for Luther from the poet Hans Sachs, and is a spinoff of Lori’s Katie Luther project, the opera about Luther’s wife. (more…)

A holiday for adults

Folklorist Jack Santino observes that Thanksgiving is pretty much the only national holiday that hasn’t shifted its focus to children.  In fact, they are often shunted off to the “kids’ table.”  The emphasis instead is on grandparents, patriarchs and matriarchs, family traditions going back for generations, and blessings that adults are in the best position to savor. (more…)

Amnesty by decree

President Obama has issued an executive order protecting some 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

On what authority, you may ask?  He is invoking the principle of “prosecutor discretion,” under which a law enforcement officer may choose, for example, which speeders to chase down.  So here the Executive Branch, charged with carrying out the laws passed by the Legislative Branch, is just choosing not to enforce the law against illegal immigrants unless they have committed other crimes.  (But in forbidding immigration officials from enforcing the law, isn’t he taking away their “prosecutor discretion”?) (more…)

Military strategy in the new Iraq war

Gen. Robert H. Scales (ret.),  former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, explains the strategic situation in Iraq and what the administration hopes to accomplish with the nine 150-person training units of American troops that have been sent there. (more…)

Ebola self-destruction?

Parasites that kill their hosts are basically committing suicide.  More successful parasites keep their hosts alive.  Tapeworms, for example, can hunker down in someone’s intestines and grow to obscene lengths before the host even notices.  The most successful parasites, such as the microorganisms that live in our stomachs, actually benefit their hosts, making infestation a win-win situation.

Liberia has been horribly stricken by Ebola, but, all of a sudden, the number of cases is plummeting.  This, even though the American troops and other foreign help haven’t got started yet. (more…)

America’s third favorite holiday

Halloween is America’s third favorite holiday,  just after Christmas and Thanksgiving. (See the whole list after the jump.)  Halloween used to be a holiday mainly for children dressing up and going trick-or-treat, but now it has been seized by adults, who also like to dress up and scare themselves.   Why do you think Halloween has become so popular in our culture?   Is there something about American individualism that makes us enjoy dressing up, putting on a mask, and pretending to be someone else?   I hear that the big Halloween dress-up thing for this year is to make yourself up to look like an Ebola victim.   The Halloween vogue would appear to be related to the aesthetics of darkness and horror that seem to be dominant in our popular culture, judging from our movies, books, films, art, television shows, and video games.  This would seem to accord with what the recent pope called our current “culture of death.”  Maybe death provides the mystery, the sense of the uncanny, the non-rational emotions even though they be horrific, that can substitute for the mystery, the sense of the supernatural, and the religious experiences associated with a transcendent faith.

I don’t intend to take an anti-Halloween stance, as such, in this post.  I’m just curious why the holiday has jumped ahead of Easter, patriotic holidays like the 4th of July, and even people’s birthdays in popularity.  What significance do you see in this? (more…)

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