Chuck Colson has died.  The ruthless political operative for Richard Nixon was imprisoned for Watergate-related offenses.  Crushed by the law, literally, he read C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and became a Christian.  When he got out of prison, Colson started Prison Fellowship, a ministry to prisoners and their families that has chapters worldwide and that has changed the lives of untold numbers of men and women that society–and the church–had usually rejected. I myself owe Colson quite a bit, not… Read more

A new religion, born of the internet age, is seeking legal recognition: A Swedish religion whose dogma centers on the belief that people should be free to copy and distribute all information—regardless of any copyright or trademarks—has made its way to the United States. Followers of so-called “Kopimism” believe copying, sharing, and improving on knowledge, music, and other types of information is only human—the Romans remixed Greek mythology, after all, they say. In January, Kopimism—a play on the words “copy… Read more

Stephen Pearlstein sees a shift in the campaign strategies of both sides: The winning strategy is no longer to be more moderate than your opponent, to offer a bigger tent. Instead, it is to be more zealous and committed to your party’s ideology. This transformation has its roots in what has become the dominant reality of American politics: the arms race in campaign finance. Candidates and parties now raise and spend enormous sums, well beyond what would reasonably be needed… Read more

Brigham Young University has its first non-Mormon student body president.  He’s a Muslim.  This is being reported like it’s an example of Mormon tolerance, but is it really so unusual?  I mean this with all due respect to both religions, but isn’t Mormonism much closer to Islam than to Christianity? Both Mormonism and Islam reportedly had their origins in a prophet receiving a supernatural book from an angel.  Both involve elaborate systems of laws, including dietary rules and regulation of… Read more

Some of you may remember Lori Lewis who occasionally has frequented this blog.  At one point she was all involved in radio and contemporary Christian music, but then she became a confessional Lutheran and an outspoken critic of that musical scene.  More recently she has gotten involved with opera, both as a singer and as a popularizer of that artform via radio and writing.  Her latest project, though, is a webzine entitled  Eveyday Opera.  It’s not  about opera; rather, it… Read more

This is a topic that Lori Lewis asked me to address at her webzine Everyday Opera, trying to help people appreciate all the different literary styles: “I can’t stand all of those flowery descriptions in classic literature. Why don’t the authors just get to the action?” “I don’t like opera with all of that over-the-top emotion.” “Those old writers are just not realistic!” Those are common complaints, but they deserve an answer. First of all, literature is an art form… Read more

What can be said about the federal agencies caught in decadent scandals?  The Secret Service, traditionally known for its probity and integirty, has 11 agents who were in Columbia arranging for the president’s security for a summit meeting getting caught with 21 prostitutes.  The General Services Administration, which handles procurement for the federal government, procured a Las Vegas resort to host a lavish retreat to the tune of $823,000 in taxpayer money.  (And it is coming out that this is… Read more

The seemingly ageless Dick Clark passed away.  He was 82.  Through radio, the long-lived TV dance show “American Bandstand,” his New Year’s Eve specials, and as an overall music impresario, Clark presided over practically the whole gamut of American pop music, from the very beginnings of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1950s through today’s rap music. Here is a good survey of his life and career:  Dick Clark of ‘American Bandstand’ fame dies at 82 – latimes.com. “American Bandstand” introduced… Read more

Sociologist Peter Berger on the influence of the Lutheran parsonage in Germany, particularly in East Germany under Communism: [Chancellor Angela] Merkel [daughter of a Lutheran pastor] and [President Joichim] Gauck [a former Lutheran pastor] share a background of Protestant life in Communist East Germany. To what extent has this background shaped their worldview and their overall lifestyle? I don’t think that I know enough about these two individuals to answer the question—though it is hard to believe that the conditions… Read more

The rumor has been going around that this new liturgy will be replacing Divine Service One in the Lutheran Service Book.   It dates, though, from April 1.  That is to say, April Fool’s Day.  (HT:  Todd Wilken.)  Still, I suspect this order of service will inspire both outrage and the desire to adopt it: OUR SERVICE Setting One GREETING AND AFFIRMATION A MEDLEY OF MOOD-SETTING SONGS is sung. Stand spontaneously during the final Guitar Solo The sign of applause may… Read more

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