Weird math fact

A comic strip  (which you can see here after the jump) raised a mathematical conundrum that I’ve been trying to get my mind around.  Maybe you can help.

(1) 9 x 1/9 = 1.   Right?  That’s what the fraction 1/9 means.

(2)  1/9 = .1111111. . .  If you turn 1/9 into its decimal form, by dividing 9 into 1, the result is .1111111. . . [meaning a repetition into infinity]

(3)  9 x (.1111111. . .) = 1    Substitute the decimal form for  1/9 in equation (1).

(4)  .9999999. . . = 1      Do the calculation in equation (3).   9 x .111111. . .  is .999999. . ., another repetition into infinity.  The number by itself is short of 1, infinitely short, but you could go into infinity and it would never be 1.  AND YET, in the equation, .99999 in an infinite regress EQUALS 1.

How can that be? [Read more…]

An Easter sermon by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95.  He exemplifed an unusual kind of political power.  He spent 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism in South Africa.  Whereupon he built up so much moral authority that the apartheid government, with its overtly racist system in which whites ruled over blacks,  ended up dismantling itself.  When he emerged from prison to become president of the new government, he led the newly-empowered black majority away from revenge to reconciliation with their former oppressors.

Mandel was a Christian, as the post below recounts.  After the jump, an excerpt from a quite powerful sermon he gave on the risen Messiah. [Read more…]

The Christianity of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, who led South Africa out of racial apartheid, was a Christian, whose faith shaped his activism.  So reports British journalist Michael Trimmer after the jump. [Read more…]

Christ’s use of donkeys

The Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent last week was about Christ’s Triumphal Entry.  Rev. William Weedon, the chaplain of the LCMS headquarters in St. Louis, preached about Christ coming on that donkey.  He started by quoting G. K. Chesterton’s poem  on the subject.  He goes on to point out how God seems to prefer working through the humblest and most unimpressive kinds of things.  Sample:

Water, bread, wine, hot air from a man’s mouth. Them be the lowly beasties that God STILL chooses to “ride on” to come to us, to be our servant King. They look so ordinary, so utterly unimpressive. I mean, think about it. A man dressed up in an outfit that looks more than a bit like a circus clown pours a handful of water over the head of an oblivious child and that’s the difference between eternal life and eternal death, between heaven and hell? Or certain words are spoken over bread and wine which they are given out into our mouths, and this is the food that if one eats of he does not die, but lives in Christ forevermore? Or a bunch of people sit in pews week in and week out listening to a man jaw on about stuff from a book whose last bit was written 2,000 years ago, and this is what the Church lives from?

Read the rest of the message after the jump. [Read more…]

Church growth for confessional Lutherans

OK, I’ve been kind of hard on the church growth movement lately (e.g., here and here), but I acknowledge its good intentions and practical advice.  My CCLE colleague Paul J. Cain (not to be confused with Paul McCain), is a confessional Lutheran pastor in Wyoming who has published a little book entitled  5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Congregation a Caring Church.

He knows that God grows the Church by means of the Word and Sacraments.  But there are are some kingdom-of-the-lefthand aspects that can help encourage people to come to receive them.   He talks about common-sense things like parking and the state of the building, greeters and ushers.  But he cuts quickly to a far more important factor that can make a congregation attractive in a good sense (or, if this is not present, send both visitors and members screaming away).  Namely, the ethos of the congregation.  Do people here care about one another?  Does the congregation care about anyone besides one another, showing compassion to people in need and to others outside the church?  If not, how can that change?

The book is short, extremely practical, and illustrated with Pastor Cain’s personal experiences.  After the jump, the product description from Amazon and a link to buy it.

Discussion topic:  What are some things confessional Lutherans–or orthodox, traditionalist congregations of other church bodies–might do to “grow their churches” that would not compromise their doctrines or practice?

[Read more…]

Lawsuit over the Statue of Liberty

You know the  “forever” stamp with a closeup of the face of the Statue of Liberty?  A few years ago, there was a bit of controversy when it was discovered that the image on the stamp is not of the Lady Liberty who presides over the harbor at New York City.  Rather, it is a copy of the cheesy fake statue at the New York-New York casino in Las Vegas!

That’s bad enough.  But now the sculptor is suing the US Postal Service for copyright infringement and may be entitled to royalties for every stamp sold (which comes to 4 billion).  In his lawsuit, the artist, Robert S. Davidson, claims that he “brought a new face to the iconic statue — a face which audiences found appeared more ‘fresh-faced,’ ‘sultry’ and ‘even sexier’ than the original.”  Maybe Mr. Davidson should pay a royalty for plagiarizing–if not vandalizing–the national monument!  Read about the case and compare the images after the jump. [Read more…]