Easter did NOT come from a pagan holiday

You’re probably already hearing the old canards about Easter and its customs being based in pagan festivals.  It’s just not true!  After the jump, links to two documented accounts from Pastor Joseph Abrahamson that gives the historical background and churchly contexts of the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. [Read more...]

Ten Forbidden Behaviours

Regional Chinese Communist officials have put forward a list of “10 forbidden behaviors” designed to improve the manners and  image of party operatives.  These do not have quite the moral heft of the 10 Commandments, but they give some good tips for getting along with “the masses.”

Read them after the jump.  And then I invite you to suggest equivalent behaviors in our society that deserve to be “forbidden” (not that they would be, hopefully, in a free society, but you know what I mean). [Read more...]

Snowden revelations win Pulitzer Prize

The London Guardian and the Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for publishing the revelations from Edward Snowden about the extent of NSA snooping.   After the jump, an excerpt and link to the complete slate of winners.  What does this list suggest about the role of journalism in this internet age? [Read more...]

What the Bible is all about

On Sunday we read the entire Passion narrative from Matthew 26-27.  Read what our pastor said about it in a sermon that contains the “God  who didn’t act like a God” bit that I blogged about yesterday.  From Rev. James Douthwaite, St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Palm / Passion Sunday Sermon:

You just heard the story that all the Bible is about. This is not just part of the story, this is what it’s all about. Take this story out and the Bible is just another holy book – teaching us what to do and how to be good. But with this story, the Bible becomes a wholly different book, and everything in it gains new meaning. Everything in the Bible must be understood through the lens of this story, or not be understood at all. [Read more...]

“Fixing” the Second Amendment

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, having spent much of his career trying to interpret the Constitution away, now wants to change it.  He has written a book entitled Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.  He has published an op-ed piece on how he thinks the Second Amendment can be “fixed” by adding five simple words.  See them, along with some thoughts, after the jump. [Read more...]

IRS may go after underwater homeowners

Homeowners who were underwater on their homes but who took advantage of mortgage relief programs face the prospect of the IRS calculating the amount by which a portion of their loan was forgiven as income. [Read more...]

IRS was going after the children to collect parents’ debts–but stopped!

A sentence was stuck into the Farm Bill removing the 10 year statute of limitations on debts owed to the United States government.  So now the IRS is withholding tax refunds from the children of deceased parents who owed Uncle Sam money.

UPDATE:  The IRS has announced that it is stopping the practice.

[Read more...]

A God who doesn’t act like a God

Our pastor on Palm Sunday said that people’s confusion over Jesus–so that they hailed Him with palms and soon thereafter demanded His crucifixion–was because they wondered, “Can a king who doesn’t act like a king be a king?  Can a God who doesn’t act like a God be a God?”

It occurred to me that the same confusions are rampant today, and that this is precisely what the events we commemorate during Passion Week are all about.  God is supposed to be an abstract philosophical proposition; here is a God who made Himself a tangible, material human being.  God is supposed to be  transcendent and glorious; here is a God who descends down into the depths, subjecting Himself to humiliation and suffering.  God is supposed to punish sin; here is a God who forgives sin, atoning for it by taking into Himself the sins of the world and punishing Himself for them.  God demands sacrifices from human beings; here is a God who sacrifices Himself for human beings.  God is supposed to be far above the world of suffering, looking down upon it all; here is a God who bears the world’s evil and the world’s griefs.  God is supposed to either exist or not exist; here is a God who died and rose again.

 

Totalitarian discourse

Charles Krauthammer gives the name for handling disagreements by silencing and punishing those who hold opposing ideas:

The left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced. [Read more...]

Encrypting the internet on the cheap

“Heartbleed” is the name of a major bug found in some encryption software that nearly everybody uses.  The thing is, that software–used by big corporations and the U.S. Government–is a free, open-source program that anyone can contribute to, including the designer of this bug.  The company that runs it has one employee and income from contributions of a mere $2,000.  But because all of these wealthy users are so cheap, the world’s passwords and financial data are at risk!  (Go here to learn how to see if your devices are affected and what to do about it.) [Read more...]