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Confessing the intolerance of progressives

Nicholas Kristof, himself a progressive, castigates the intolerance of his fellow progressives when it comes to conservatives and their ideas.

[Read more…]

Problems praying? Pray the Psalms

Continuing our reflections on the Psalms, Pastor Peters at Pastoral Meanderings has a great post on praying the Psalms.  He shows the centrality of the Psalms for Luther and then makes a superb application:  “If you are having problems praying and know that you should be praying more, try the pattern of reading a Psalm each day, reflecting upon its words, and then praying that Psalm as your daily prayer.”   [Read more…]

How to go after guns despite the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights protects the right of Americans to own firearms.  But liberals have come up with a way to restrict gun ownership anyway:  the time-honored power of the federal government to impose taxes on things it disapproves of.

A U.S. territory is adding a $1,000 tax for every firearm.  Chicago and Seattle are trying this on a much smaller scale.  This tactic was first proposed in 1993 by Hillary Clinton.  [Read more…]

“Is God Dead?” 50 years–and 439 years–later

This month 50 years ago, in 1966, Time Magazine featured its cover-story entitled “Is God Dead?” The article was about the “Christian atheists,” such as Thomas J. J. Altizer, of the theology faculty at Emory, who argued that the traditional deity is no longer relevant to the modern age and that we need to find new modes of spirituality for a new era.

Leigh Eric Schmidt has written a perceptive article on the impact of that cover story and of the theological fad that it discussed.  He says that it contributed to the rise of evangelicalism, as people sought a more robust understanding of God than was being taught in liberal seminaries.  Mainline Protestantism once exerted genuine cultural leadership and the public was attentive to its theological scholarship.  (Time also had cover stories on Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr.)  But Schmidt observes that the “Is God Dead?” story was mainline Protestantism’s last hurrah.

So, fifty years later, God is not dead.  Altizer is not dead either, hanging on at 88.  Time is also hanging on, despite big drops in circulation and the competition of the internet.  Mainline liberal Protestantism has also been dwindling in numbers and relevance, though you wouldn’t know that from academic religion departments.

After the jump, though, I offer a passage from the Formula of Concord, Article VIII, on the person of Christ, which discusses the death of God in a completely different way.  It takes up the controversy at the time of whether we can say that “God died on the Cross.”  Zwingli and others said that only the human nature of Christ suffered and died, and that we cannot ascribe such limitations to God (scriptural language to the contrary being merely a figure of speech).  But Luther insisted that because of the incarnation and the communication of the attributes of Christ’s two natures, it is true that the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, did suffer and die.  Otherwise, another human death could not help us.  We can indeed say that God died on the Cross.  But then He rose again. [Read more…]

Unlocking the iPhone

The Justice Department and Apple Computer are locked in a bitter legal battle in the FBI’s desire to unlock the iPhone used by the San Bernadino terrorists, both of whom were killed after their attack.  The FBI, understandably, wants to see who else might be in the terrorists’ network.  Surely, in the name of fighting terrorism, Apple should simply unlock the phone–right?  Well, it isn’t that easy.

My iPhone has a four-digit code that I have to enter every time the screen goes black.  When I got the phone, the guy at Verizon sternly instructed me that a user has six tries to enter the correct code.  If the wrong numbers are entered, eventually the phone is disabled and everything on it is erased.   A pang of fear shoots through me every time my big fingers hit the wrong numbers.

So if the FBI tries to unlock the terrorists’ phone–since it can’t get the correct numbers from the users, who are dead–they will likely instead cause the phone to erase everything they want to know.  So the government wants to coerce Apple into developing a way to get into the phone anyway. [Read more…]

Leap Year

The earth takes 365 1/4 days to go around the sun.  So for our calendars to reflect the seasons of the year, we account for that quarter day by adding a day to the calendar every four years.  And since we stick it on to the shortest month of the year, that day is today!

You could complain that you have to work an extra day this month without any extra pay.  Or you could be glad that you are getting an extra day of rent free.  But you should look at February 29 as a bonus, the gift of a day.

I want to give special congratulations to those of you born on February 29 and so only have a birthday, technically, every four years.  (How do you celebrate your birthday otherwise?  On February 28 or March 1?  Do any of you Leap Year babies just wait to celebrate every four years?)

I remember as a kid reading the comic strip Little Orphan Annie.  There had been lots of jokes about how the strip had been running for 44 years, though its heroine was still a young girl.  Then its creator Harold Gray said that Annie was born on Leap Year, so that after four decades, she was only 11.  (As the strip went on, up to Gray’s death in 1968, he reportedly aged her one year for every four years that passed.  The strip carried on with other writers and an ageless Annie until 2010.)

According to the folk tradition in many countries, women may propose to men during a leap year.  In some versions, the man has to accept, and if he doesn’t, he has to pay a fine of giving the woman a present.  In some cultures, women may propose marriage to a man any time during the year.  In others, it has to be on “Leap Day”; that is, February 29.  Some of you may want to take advantage of this.


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