The Cranach Nuclear Watch

As Japan and the rest of the world worry over what will happen to the earthquake and tsunami damaged nuclear power plants, you should know that here at the Cranach blog we are getting some expert commentary.  MarkB used to work with nuclear power plants, and Carl Vehse–whom you might know merely on this blog as a conservative flamethrower–is by vocation a nuclear chemist.

I appreciate their ongoing explanations of the information that is coming out.

See what they say here and here.

Learn apologetics

If you are interested in Christian apologetics–that is, the defense of the Christian faith–I urge you to attend the summer program of the International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism, and Human Rights, which will be held in Strasbourg, France, July 5-16.

You will study under the great John Warwick Montgomery, a giant in the field.

Also teaching this summer will be Craig Parton (author of The Defense Never Rests), my friend and co-director of the Cranach Institute Angus Menuge, Concordia Theological Seminary professor Adam Francisco, and Australian theologian Ross Clifford.

Here are the topics for this summer:

The Apologetic Task Today
Philosophical Apologetics
Scientific Apologetics and Medical Issues
Historical Apologetics
Legal Apologetics & Human Rights
Literary and Cultural Apologetics
The Apologetics of C.S. Lewis
Cults, Sects, and the World’s Religions
Biblical Authority Today

The cost is $2,995, which includes lodging at the University of Strasbourg, most meals, and extras, such as a tour led by Dr. Montgomery of the Alsace region in northeastern France, close to the German border.   This includes visits to the local vineyards and wine-making operations, a viewing of the Grunewald Crucifixion and Resurrection, and sampling of some amazing French cuisine.

I taught there last summer, lecturing on Literary and Cultural Apologetics, and I can say that a good time was had by all.  I love Strasbourg, the historic center of French Protestantism.  The university goes back to Johann Sturm’s original Reformation academy. Calvin taught there; the Huguenot Cross is still worn; and lots of Lutheran churches can still be found.

The teaching is high-level, but accessible to a wide range of backgrounds.  Last summer there were college students, laymen, and lots of pastors.  There was a high school student, married couples, folks of all ages.

And if you can’t go, this would make a great gift from a congregation to its pastor.

Go here for more information.

Yet another new step in open communion

Thanks to nqb for alerting us to yet another new horizon of open communion:  not just communing other Christians, not just communing non-Christians, but communing people who are not even setting foot in a church:

Wednesday morning pastors from the Community United Church of Christ offered communion to any one who wanted to receive it on the corner of 6th and Daniel streets.

The church, which is located on 805 South Sixth Street, plans to set up every Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for the rest of the Christian season of Lent, which goes until Easter.

“We decided we needed to bring the open table out to the people,” explained Rev. Leah Robberts-Mosser, who is the pastor of Community United Church of Christ (Community UCC).

The church said some churches restrict who can get communion.  Rev. Robberts-Mosser said they wanted everyone to have the opportunity to do so, and that’s why they took it out to the streets.

via Champaign Church Offering Communion On Street Corner – IllinoisHomePage.net.

Beware the Ides of March

For the Romans, the 15th (or sometimes the 13th) of every month was called the “Ides,” marking the full moon.  Today is the Ides of March.

On this day in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of Senators led by his friend Brutus, who was trying to preserve the Roman Republic by killing the man who was turning Rome into an empire.  The action only delayed briefly the fall of the republic.  (We tend to fixate on the fall of the Roman empire, but we need to worry more about parallels with the fall of the Roman republic.)

See Ides of March – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

So this Roman centurion goes into a bar and orders a martinus.  The bartender asks, “Do you mean a martini?”  The centurion says, “Look, if I wanted a double I’d tell you!”

Let us observe the Ides of March with Latin jokes, reasons why Latin should be taught in school, parallels with the transition from republic to empire, predictions of doom, or whatever else seems appropriate.

More on Japan’s earthquake

Officials estimate that at least 10,000 may be dead–with thousands more still missing–due to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan.  Meanwhile, more nuclear power plants are in danger of meltdown.

See 10K dead in Japan amid fears of nuclear meltdowns – Yahoo! News.

Japan has been a world leader in the design of earthquake-resistant structures.  Read this confident–but now ironic–account of all that Japan does to ensure safety during an earthquake.

But this goes to show that all of the ingenious engineering does little if the earthquake is powerful enough.

Go here to help.

What does this mean for California, midwesterners along the New Madris fault, and other potential earthquake zones in the U.S.A.?

A different kind of gay marriage

Ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel have come up with an acceptable form of gay marriage:  gay men marry lesbians.

Rabbis from the religious Zionist community have launched an initiative to marry gay men to lesbian women – with some surprising successes.

So far, 11 marriages have been performed. Haaretz conducted an email interview with one such couple, Etti and Roni (not their real names ).

Etti and Roni, both religious, were married five years ago. Though they were honest with each other about their sexual orientations from their first meeting, to the outside world, they portray themselves as a normal heterosexual couple. Today, they have two children, and are thrilled with the results.

“It’s incredible,” they wrote. “Six years ago, we didn’t think we would ever be this happy. We thought everything was black, that we’d lost our chance of a normal life. But today, things are good for us. There are gaps, but that’s true in every case. And we fill them with the great love we give to and receive from our children, and also enjoy the simple human love we give each other, such as any two people can give and receive.”

 

All the matches were arranged by Rabbi Areleh Harel of the West Bank settlement of Shilo. He teaches at a yeshiva in Elon Moreh and has a name in religious circles as the go-to rabbi for homosexuals.

Harel said all his couples receive close support from a team of psychologists, marriage counselors and social workers. They also consult frequently with rabbis, including Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein of the Har Etzion Yeshiva, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan Yaakov Ariel, and especially Rabbi Menachem Burstein, head of the Puah Institute, which specializes in halakhic solutions to fertility problems.

His 12th couple has just announced their engagement, Harel said, and he has a list of another 30 gays and 20 lesbians seeking matches. They don’t deny their sexual identity, he stressed, but “they want to establish a home, whether for the sake of becoming parents or for the social recognition. A family isn’t just sex and love. It’s an instrumental partnership, though not just a technical one.”

As a result, he and his colleagues have now decided to institutionalize the venture, including working with a well-known religious matchmaking organization.

Gay-lesbian marriages have long been practiced among the ultra-Orthodox, but the current initiative is different in that it stems not from an effort to sweep the issue under the carpet, but from a growing acknowledgment of homosexuality, prompted in part by four organizations for religious homosexuals: Havruta, Bat Kol, Hod and Kamocha.

Harel explained that while secular homosexuals see gay marriage as the solution, religious homosexuals are often unwilling to violate the halakhic prohibition on homosexual sex, and are thus seeking other solutions.

“Most of the couples agree not to have relationships with members of their own sex, but if there are ‘lapses’ once every few years, they don’t see this as a betrayal,” he said. “Generally, it’s between them and their Creator.”

He said each couple decides for itself how its marriage should work, and he is not involved in that decision. Rather, he deals mainly with halakhic issues like artificial insemination.

Roni, 35, owns a business; Etti, 30, is a paramedic. Roni tried conversion therapy to change his sexual orientation, with no success. He said he also had relationships with various other men, “until I decided this isn’t for me; I want a family and children.”

Etti said her family still doesn’t know she’s a lesbian. She had one “serious” lesbian relationship, but “realized it was more important to me to raise children and live in a normal family.”

Both said that upholding the religious prohibition on homosexual sex was “very important” to them, as was their desire for “more or less normal parenthood,” and both factors had influenced their decision.

Harel introduced them, and as the first of his gay-lesbian couples, they term themselves “guinea pigs.” They are careful to keep up normal appearances before the children and the outside world, even sleeping in the same room, though they don’t sleep together. Their children were born through artificial insemination.

“Most of the time, it’s good for us together, like business partners. Of course we have quarrels and tensions, but who doesn’t? … Like good friends, we have a great deal of mutual respect and a great deal of platonic love.”

via Israeli rabbis launch initiative to marry gay men to lesbian women ­ – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

These individuals are willing to be chaste and thus faithful to their spouses–except for those lapses–but want children and a family life.  Could that work with a Christian understanding of marriage?  Or would this kind of arrangement be problematic also?


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