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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…]

More on Muslims converting to Christianity

International journalist Uwe Siemon-Netto, a confessional Lutheran, has more details about Muslims converting to Christianity.  He has published a compelling article in the Australian magazine Quadrant that you need to read for yourself.  Excerpt and link after the jump.  (Tomorrow we’ll post about the strange phenomenon of the Muslims dreaming about Jesus.) [Read more…]

Earthquake alley

I was watching TV around 10:30 on Wednesday night when I thought one of  grandkids–we were hosting a sleepover–was shaking my chair.  I reached around to grab the culprit, but there was no one there.  Then it happened again.  Then the other adults in our living room, including some Californians, said “Earthquake!” [Read more…]

The vocation of being an advocate for the dead

An article on the real-life doctor featured in the movie Concussion says quite a bit about the Nigerian Christian’s understanding of “calling”; that is, vocation.  (Did any of this come out in the movie?) [Read more…]

The Year that Nothing Worked

It’s been a rough year.  Bloomberg’s Lu Wang, referring specifically to economics and investing, has called 2015 The Year Nothing Worked.

Terrorism is back in force, with ISIS giving us nearly daily examples of unsettling, disillusioning cruelty.  That’s hard for humanists, optimists, and progressives to take, day in and day out.   The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, making us feel that all of the sacrifice of our military men and women for the high goal of democracy in the Middle East may have been in vain.

Meanwhile, our government seems increasingly incompetent, and many of the candidates for the future seem to promise either more of the same, or to be even be worse.

Gideon Rachman of the London Financial Times says “the whole world is on edge.” He says that usually some country is optimistic and doing well.  But last year not only the United States but the new powerhouse China have been in the doldrums.  He blames not only economic uncertainty but a large scale reaction against governments and elites of every kind.  (His article is excerpted and linked after the jump.)

It is surely healthy for people to wake up to the incompetence of their big governments.  It’s even more healthy for people to wake up to the decadence of their cultural elites.  Higher education, with a few notable exceptions,  has largely turned into a self-parody, with childish political radicalism turning universities into centers of anti-intellectualism and Orwellian thought police.  The art world establishment seems paralyzed with angst and theorizing.  Even the popular arts are stagnant, repeating formulas and looking for something new without being able to find anything.  Our movies, for example, keep churning out sequels, rummaging through thrift shop comic book bins, and remaking films from more creative eras.

But now people as a whole are getting sick of all of this. That’s a good sign.  It really is darkest before the dawn.  When bad things in a culture are evident, a reaction sets in.  There will be no utopia, just different problems, but let’s pray that 2016 will be the beginning of a “dawn.” [Read more…]

“Happy Federal Holiday”

A Florida professor is proposing in the name of inclusivity a season’s greeting that will be supremely politically correct and, I would add, a tribute to the new god of our day, from whom many people seek their every good:  “Happy Federal Holiday.” [Read more…]


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