Heaven and the widow of seven husbands

The Sunday before last, our Gospel reading was about the Sadducees who tried to shoot down the doctrine of eternal life by asking Jesus a hypothetical question about a woman who was widowed seven times–in the resurrection, whose wife will she be (Luke 20)?  Pastor Douthwaite preached a powerful sermon about the nature of life after death, in the course of which he did something I never thought of before:  He took the situation of the hypothetical woman seriously. [Read more…]

The death penalty for possessing a Bible

North Korea executed 80 people, in some cases, tying them to stakes and machine-gunning them before 10,000 spectators of all ages assembled in a sports stadium.  Among the crimes:  possessing a Bible. [Read more…]

Obamacare descends into chaos

The deadline for signing up for Obamacare is December 15, if you need the insurance to kick in at the beginning of the year.  That’s less than a month away.  The website still doesn’t work, and the techs that are trying to fix it say they won’t get it done by the November 30 deadline.  Even if they do, that gives Americans without insurance just two weeks to sign up.  (There is a February 15 deadline for signing up without penalty, and an end-of-March deadline as the last chance to buy insurance on the exchanges.)  At last count, only 2% of those who need to have signed up so far.

If they can’t sign up, people whose independent policies have been cancelled will be left without insurance at the beginning of the year.  But President Obama’s decree that they should be able to keep their policies for a year is creating even more problems.

Insurance companies have already set their rates for next year, based on the assumption that those policies would be discontinued.  If those old policies are put back in place, that will throw off the quotes they have already been making.  This not only throws off insurance companies, it throws off the financial model Obamacare has been depending on.  Details after the jump.

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China eases one-child policy

Still-Communist China announced a series of social, economic, and political reforms.  Most notable is the change in China’s one-child policy, which has been enforced by forced abortion.  Not that China has given its people freedom.  Now if the husband and the wife can both claim the status of “only child,” they can have two babies without penalty.  So now there is more of a two-child policy. [Read more…]

My take on the Lutheran/Calvinist discussion

Some thoughts on the discussion about Lutherans and Calvinists that was provoked by thoughts from Peter Leithhart and D. G. Hart.  (To get up to date with the latest contributions, see also what Anthony Sacramone had to say about it, as well as Dr. Hart’s rejoinder.)

I am one Lutheran who is not a Calvinist basher.  Having grown up in mainline liberal Protestantism and then hanging out in grad school with collegiate evangelicals, I heard about God’s grace for the first time from a friend who was a Calvinist.  It had never occurred to me and I had never been taught that God accomplishes everything for my salvation.  I found that very liberating.  I read Calvin’s Institutes and was greatly instructed.  I credit Calvin for leading me to Luther, whose theology seemed to me to have everything I appreciated in Calvinism while avoiding some of its problems.   In Lutheranism, I would find  dimensions of grace that I never dreamed of before.  But, frankly, if there had been a Calvinist church in the small Oklahoma town where I got my first teaching job, I might have gone in that direction.  Instead, there was a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which opened up to me dimensions of grace that I had never dreamed of before, including a deeply sacramental kind of spirituality.  Which brings up my first point:  [Read more…]

American generosity & foreign relations

American foreign policy is a mess, much of the world is mad at us, and our power seems to be declining.  But there is one area that America does well and the rest of the world knows it and respects us for it:  Whenever a disaster strikes anywhere in the world, the United States government and its citizens are really, really generous.  Whereas our rivals–I’m thinking of you, China–just aren’t.

We shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back, but the diplomatic and political effects of American generosity are playing themselves out in typhoon-ravaged Philippines.  So reports international affairs columnist Anne Applebaum. [Read more…]