A driver coming from the opposite direction flashes headlights at you.  You slow down.  Sure enough, when you go around the corner you see a highway patrolman with a radar gun.  That stranger with the flashing headlights saved you from a speeding ticket.  Is that a good work, an example of loving one’s neighbor?  Or is it aiding and abetting illegal activity?  (I remember as a teenager mentioning that I flashed a warning about a speed trap, and my aunt… Read more

A good test-case for our discussions about what makes for Christian art.  Christian art historian Daniel Siedell (a Lutheran sympathizer) on the bad theology of the paintings of Thomas Kinkade, the popular “painter of light” who died recently: Kinkade claimed, “I like to portray a world without the Fall.” My professional colleagues dismissed Kinkade’s work as harmlessly trite, uninteresting, nostalgic, and sentimental illustrations that provide consumers with an “art-like” experience without the rigors and demand of attending seriously to learning… Read more

It would seem that pro-lifers are winning the argument.  Except that a large number of pro-lifers evidently believe that abortion should be legal. The percentage of Americans who identify themselves as “pro-choice” is at the lowest point ever measured by Gallup, according to a new survey released Wednesday. A record-low 41 percent now identify themselves as “pro-choice,” down from 47 percent last July and 1 percentage point down from the previous record low of 42 percent, set in May 2009…. Read more

One of the promising developments in homeschooling is the advent of on-line courses.  Parents can now enroll their children in an entire on-line school or in individual hard-to-teach-on-your-own classes.  A promising venture that many Lutheran homeschoolers are excited about is  Wittenberg Academy, an online classical Lutheran school, featuring strong confessional theology and an academically-rich curriculum for high-schoolers.  After long preparation, Wittenberg Academy is now taking registrations for the Fall.  (Sorry, for the “Michaelmas Term.”  Isn’t that cool, having a “Michaelmas… Read more

It’s early in the head-to-head campaign, with some polls showing Romney ahead and others showing Obama.  The deciding factor, of course, is the electoral college.  It takes 270 to win.  According to this analysis in the Washington Post, Obama has 196 electoral votes tied up, with 41 leaning his way  (total=237).  Romney has 170 solid, with 21 leaning (total=191).  There are 110 electoral votes in play that could go for either candidate, which means that the election will be decided… Read more

A letter from the late poet W. H. Auden to his pastor, on the occasion of the church–St. Mark’s Episcopal in New York City–adopting a more modern liturgy: 77 St Mark’s Place New York City 3 Nov. 26th [year not given] Dear Father Allen: Have you gone stark raving mad? Aside from its introduction of a lesson and psalm from the O.T., which seems to me admirable since few people go any more to Mattins or Evensong, the new ‘liturgy’… Read more

Eighty years ago on this day, May 22, 1932, Josef Stalin began his program to eliminate the very memory of the name of God in the Soviet Union within 5 years.  The following account of Stalin’s “atheistic five-year plan” is from a Russian site and is clumsily translated into English, so I’ll edit it slightly: On Tuesday, there will be 80 years since the Soviet government issued a decree on “atheistic five-year plan.” Stalin set a goal: the name of… Read more

I have spared you my American Idol reflections up to this point, that show being one of my pop-culture vices, but a recent performance was so emblematic that I cannot help but comment upon it.  Joshua Ledet, arguably the best singer in the contest (who made the top three but, unfortunately, got voted off before this week’s finale), sang as his personal choice John Lennon’s “Imagine.”  Now that has to be one of my least favorite songs, a treacly anthem… Read more

Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, is a rising star in the Democratic party.   He’s in trouble with Democrats now, though, for objecting to the Obama campaign’s attack on Mitt Romney’s old private-equity firm, Bain Capital. Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, a close ally of President Obama in the upcoming election, slammed the president’s campaign Sunday for ads attacking Mitt Romney’s work for the private-equity firm Bain Capital. Booker, who noted that many of his constituents are investors… Read more

Ross Douthat begins with reflections on three recent cases in American religion:  the popularity of prosperity-gospeller Joel Osteen; President Obama’s statement that the reason he now favors gay marriage is because he follows Jesus; and new statistics that find that non-denominational Christianity is now the third largest category, behind Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists.  He then draws this conclusion and applications: For decades, the cultural tug-of-war between the Christian right and the secular left has encouraged people to envision the… Read more

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