Christmas in Lent

Last Sunday was not only the 5th Sunday of Lent; it fell on March 25.  That’s nine months before Christmas.  Thus it’s Annunciation Day.   So just as Lent ramps up into the greater intensity of “Passiontide,” just before Holy Week, we reflect on what we normally associate with Christmas, marking the day that the angel appeared to Mary and she conceived the Son of God. Our pastor, Rev. Douthwaite, preached a powerful sermon on the occasion, tying together Christ’s Incarnation… Read more

Which gaffes stick

When a politician makes a mistake, sometimes it gets turned into a disqualification.  Sometimes it gets ignored.   Chris Cillizza explains which ones stick and which ones don’t: Gaffes that matter are those that speak to a larger narrative about a candidate or a doubt/worry that voters already have about that particular candidate. Take the gaffe du jour — Mitt Romney aide Erik Fehrnstrom’s reference to an Etch-a-Sketch when asked whether the former Massachusetts governor’s move to the ideological right in… Read more

Lying to tell the truth?

Mike Daisey has been performing a one-man-show entitled “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” in which he exposes the unsafe working condition in Apple factories in China.  NPR picked up the story and interviewed Daisey on “This American Life” about what he found out during a visit to one of these Chinese factories.  It turned out that Daisey made up the more dramatic details.  When this information came out, NPR retracted the interview. Consider this defense of Daisey… Read more

Are some vocations off-limits for Christians?

We discussed David Brooks’s column wondering if Christians should ever be professional athletes as did a number of other bloggers.  The debate gave Collin Hansen of Gospel Coalition the idea of asking me how the doctrine of vocation addresses the question of whether some occupations should be off-limits to Christians. He gave me 2000 words, which is longer than a typical post, so you can click over to the site to continue reading.  Here is what I came up with. … Read more

Supremes hear Obamacare arguments today

Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether or not Obamacare is constitutional.  The issue hinges on whether or not Congress can force citizens to buy a product, as the healthcare law requires of health insurance.  (George Will noted a killer argument filed by the Institute for Justice in an amicus brief:  According to the whole history of contract law, no one can be coerced into signing a contract.) Does anyone know if the individual mandate is the only… Read more

Edgar Rice Burroughs & his failed movie

I mentioned to our daughter that we were going to the movies this weekend.  “What are you going to see,” she asked, “Hunger Games?”  No, I told her, we are going to see a movie of an equivalent wildly popular young adult book from back when your mother and I were young adults:  John Carter [of Mars]! We needed to see it quick because I had heard that it is slated to lose $200 million, making it the biggest bomb… Read more

D.C.’s atheist rally

In our nation’s capital on Saturday, some 20,000 atheists demonstrated on the national mall for the  “Reason Rally” protesting religion.  Here is an account: A full pantheon of demigods of unbelief — British scientists and full-time atheism rabble-rouser Richard Dawkins was the headliner — kept a crowd of all ages on their feet for more than six hours (and counting — I left before the band Bad Religion was set to play). Dawkins didn’t appear until five hours into the… Read more

The new Ten Commandments

British evangelist J. John has re-formulated the Ten Commandments in an effort to make them more relevant for today.  His effort is getting some good press, and some 600 churches in England have bought into the program.  This article tells all about it.  You do have to, literally, buy into the program, because the commandments are presented, discussed, and taught in a DVD program called Just 10 for Churches (not available, at least yet, in the USA, as far as… Read more

The constitutional right to a plea bargain

The Supreme Court  just rocked our criminal justice system: A divided Supreme Court ruled for the first time Wednesday that the guarantee of effective legal representation applies to plea bargain agreements, significantly expanding the constitutional rights of defendants as they move through the criminal justice system. In a pair of cases decided by 5 to 4 votes, the court opened a new avenue for defendants to challenge their sentences on grounds that their attorneys gave them faulty advice, lawyers on… Read more

Jesus notebooks?

Bible scholars, including those of the conservative variety, often talk about an oral tradition and its role in the composition of the Gospels.  But we now know that in the ancient world disciples recorded their teacher’s words in notebooks.  So says Michael F. Bird.  (You can check his footnotes.): It was quite common among literary elites of the Greco-Roman world to take notes (hypomemata, commentarii) as an aid to learning.[3] Greek gnomai (sayings) and chreiai (short story) collections provided short… Read more

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