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Global cyberattack stopped by 22-year-old who lives with his parents

Screenshot of ransomware attackA massive ransomware attack on Friday hit 99 countries and shut down thousands of operations, including FedEx and England’s National Health Service.  The malware took control of computers and kept them from working unless victims made a payment of $400, going up as time elapsed.  The virus had its origin in software stolen from the National Security Administration, whose security was last year.

What strikes me the most about this attack, however, is how it was stopped.  The world was saved, so to speak, by a 22-year-old blogger who never went to university and who lives with his parents.

He read reports about the attack, found a copy of the virus, and saw that the code included a domain name that was not registered.  So he registered it.  And that stopped the virus all over the world.

More details after the jump. [Read more…]

And now, war with Turkey?

512px-Tag_des_Sieges_2Americans’ strongest and most effective allies in the fight against ISIS are the Kurdish militias in Syria.  U.S. forces have recently been embedded with the Kurdish militias as they move in on Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS.

Turkey has long been battling the rebellious Kurds within its border, which have ties with the Kurds in Syria.  Recently, Turkey has been launching airstrikes against those Kurdish militias.

Now the Turkish government is saying that Americans in Kurdish units will also be attacked.

How should President Trump handle this new potential powder keg?  Abandon our Kurdish allies and pull out of the fight against ISIS at perhaps its most crucial phase?  Wouldn’t that be a show of weakness that the president has promised will no longer happen?  If Turkey kills American advisors, should we retaliate against Turkey?  How?  And what would happen next? [Read more…]

The day that God suffered and died

Crucifixion_GrunewaldA powerful Good Friday devotion would be to read Article VIII of the Formula of Concord: “The Person of Christ.”  It will help you to appreciate even more the magnitude of what happened on the Cross.

Luther’s dispute with Zwingli went beyond their disagreement over Holy Communion and whether “this is my body” is a fact or a figure of speech.  They had different understandings of Christ.

This question arose:  Can we say that on the Cross “God suffered” or “God died”?  No, said Zwingli.  God is “impassible.”  He cannot suffer or die.  Christ has both a divine and a human nature.  So on the Cross only His human nature suffered.  Zwingli dismissed scriptural language to the contrary as, again, a figure of speech.

Luther said that while it is true that God, in Himself, does not suffer or die, in Christ something else is going on.  In taking on human nature, God the Son could experience what human beings experience.  By virtue of the incarnation, the unity of the Trinity, the communication of the attributes, and the personal union of Christ’s two natures, we can say that God suffered and died.

Later, Chemnitz would explain it using this analogy (and it is only an imperfect analogy, since the Son of God was not simply a deity in a human body, but rather took on a human soul as well):  A human being has a spiritual and a physical nature.  If you cut your finger, it isn’t just your body that suffers.  You suffer because your two natures come together in your person.

After the jump, read how this is treated in one of the key confessional documents of Lutheran theology.  I know I trot this out every few years around this time, but it bears repeating.

For one thing, to believe that God suffered and God died helps us to understand the atonement more deeply.  It isn’t God punishing his kid for what other people did, as mockers and some liberals are saying today.  In the atonement, the Second Person of the Trinity sacrificed Himself for sinful human beings.  And in doing so, He took into Himself, by His omnipotence, the world’s evil and the world’s suffering, our “iniquities” and “transgressions” and our “griefs” and “sorrows” (Isaiah 53, a major passage of Scripture to read for today).  And this has a bearing on the problem of evil and the problem of pain, since we know that, far from looking down on the evils and sufferings of the world and doing nothing, God took them into Himself in His redemption of the world.

Illustration:  The Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald. [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.  Originally at the Hospital of St. Anthony, where plague victims could contemplate Christ, depicted as bearing their disease.

[Read more…]

Light, darkness, & the Cross

god-1979750_640S. J. Masson, a new Patheos blogger at Hawkeye, has written a wide-ranging, thought-provoking post that you should read for Good Friday.  He begins by pointing out an allusion to the Cross made by J. R. R. Tolkien in a footnote to Lord of the Rings.  He then reflects on the symbolism of this time of year, just after the equinox, when light begins to prevail over darkness.  And he then explores the meaning of the darkness that came over the land when Christ was on the Cross.

I have some excerpts after the jump, but you need to read the whole post.

Photo from Pixabay, CC0, Public Domain [Read more…]

Why April is the cruelest month

A_view_across_the_desert_landscape_of_Big_Bend_National_Park,_Texas“April is the cruelest month.”  That snatch of poetry always comes to mind when the calendar turns to April Fool’s Day.  But surely April isn’t the cruelest month!  April showers bring May flowers!   April marks the time when Winter is over and Spring has sprung!  So why would the poet T. S. Eliot say that April is the cruelest month?

Well, that is the first line of a long, difficult poem called “The Waste Land.”  It plays off of the legend of the Holy Grail.  When the chalice Christ used for the first Holy Communion was lost, due to a terrible sacrilege, the whole country turned into a waste land.  Vegetation died, turning the land to desert.  Nothing would grow.  Animals stopped giving birth.  Life became barren, sterile, dry.

Eliot was using that legend to explore what he saw as the spiritual wasteland of modern times.  Here too we have lost what is sacred.  He describes our emotional wasteland.  He writes about the sterility and lifelessness of the Waste Land in terms of uncommunicative marriages; a bored typist and a house-agent clerk who engage in unloving, dehumanizing sex; a woman who casually talks about her abortion.

April is the cruelest month, to people like that, because they don’t want the new life that Spring heralds.  They are happy to be spiritually dead.  They don’t want to be born again.  They feel threatened by the rain that could bring new life to the desert of their lives.  They think the prospect of new life is cruel.

In the course of the poem, amidst many other patterns of imagery, we find the motif of “death by water.”  At the end of the poem, a quester is walking in the desert towards the ruined grail chapel.  He has the sense that someone is walking beside him.  (Eliot’s footnote identifies the allusion as pointing to Christ on the road to Emmaus.)  At the very end of the poem, it is thundering and starting to rain.  Soon after he published the poem, T. S. Eliot was baptized.  Water brought life to Eliot’s own personal wasteland.

The most acclaimed, innovative, and radical poet of the modernist movement, who knew the waste land in his own heart, converted to Christianity.

[Read more…]

Trump threatens opponents of his health care bill

AHCA changesPresident Trump is pressuring conservative Congressmen who are opposed to his health care bill.  The “repeal and replace” response to Obamacare, which retains many of the elements of that program, is facing a vote on Thursday.

The president says that representatives who vote “no” may not get re-elected.  He said that he would campaign for those who vote “yes.”

This time President Trump is on the same side as Republican leaders such as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, who are usually branded as the “establishment” by Trump supporters.  Still wanting a government role in health care, the GOP leadership is also leaning on bill opponents, implying that they might face primary opposition if they do not get on board.  But they have also added “sweeteners” to win more votes.

While conservative Republicans, especially members of the “freedom caucus,” oppose the government’s continued involvement in citizen’s health care decisions, liberal Democrats object to any changes at all to Obamacare.

The vote will be close.  Some 20-25 House Republicans either oppose the bill or are undecided.  Trump can only afford to lose 21.

UPDATE:  Conservative organizations, some of which distribute campaign money, are threatening supporters of the bill, saying that a “yes” vote will brand lawmakers to be insufficiently conservative to earn their support.  The health care bill is shaping up to be the first major policy conflict between Trump and conservatives.

[Read more…]