Snake handling

Julia Duin is a Christian journalist who is a real pro.  She has a long story in the Washington Post Magazine on West Virginia snake handlers.  What I appreciate is that she approaches these mountain Pentecostalists with utter respect,without a shred of condescension or ridicule.  She does, though, describe the desperate social context of these folks–the lack of jobs and young people, the rampant drug abuse in these rural areas–though this isn’t the cause of snake handling, which itself is… Read more

And now Newt’s turn

Here is the pattern:  A Republican presidential candidate rises to the top as the alternative to Mitt Romney.  Whereupon he or she gets knocked off the pedestal.  Now it is Newt Gingrich’s turn: Two polls out Friday show former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s campaign gaining traction. And both polls show there’s plenty of room for the race to change dramatically: 17% of respondents are undecided. Newt Gingrich talks to a breakfast crowd during a campaign stop at the Circle Restaurant… Read more

Consciousness in “a vegetative state”

Don’t call people in a coma “vegetables.”  That’s a dehumanizing figure of speech.  And, as researchers have recently discovered, it isn’t necessarily an accurate description: All the patients had the same terrible diagnosis: brain damage that marooned them in a “vegetative state” — alive but without any sense of awareness of themselves or the world around them. But then an international team of scientists tried an ambitious experiment: By measuring electrical activity in the patients’ brains with a relatively simple… Read more

Honor a veteran today

Today, 11/11/11, is Veterans Day, a time to be thankful for the military vocations.  Use this space in a comment to honor a veteran you know. I’ll go first:  My father-in-law, one of those Marines who fought at Iwo Jima. Read more

The marvel of Christ’s service to us

In his All Saints Day sermon that is worth reading in itself, our pastor, Rev. Douthwaite, read a great quotation from Luther: “There is no greater bondage than that of sin; and there is no greater service than that displayed by the Son of God, who becomes the servant of all, no matter how poor, wretched, or despised [we] may be, and bears [our] sins. It would be spectacular and amazing, prompting all the world to open ears and eyes,… Read more

Child abuse, firings, and riots at Penn State

In the aftermath of the child sexual abuse perpetrated by football coach Jerry Sandusky, Penn State fired both legendary head coach Joe Paterno AND the college president Graham Spanier.  Whereupon students went on a riot: Happy Valley was in bedlam early today as angry, chanting students ran amok in a bizarre climax to an unforgettable day that ended with the unthinkable: the firing of football legend Joe Paterno. Chanting “Joe Pa-ter-no!” and “One More Game!” students raced to the stately… Read more

Perry’s last gaffe?

I didn’t watch the last Republican presidential candidate debate, but it sounds like Perry’s performance was out and out embarrassing: On Wednesday night in Michigan, Perry said he would cut three agencies from the federal government but could only name two of them. “Commerce, Education and the – what’s the third one there? Let’s see,” Perry said before his rivals volunteered the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pollution and is very unpopular with conservatives. Later in the debate, Perry said… Read more

Can natural gas ignite the economy?

New technology is unlocking vast amounts of natural gas in the United States, enough to have a huge economic impact.  Yes, it involves “fracking,” the controversial practice of pumping chemical-laced water into shale deposits, but improvements in that technique are starting to satisfy all but the most zealous environmentalists.  I’m glad to see companies from my native Oklahoma are leading the way.  Businessweek has a big story on the topic with the deck below the headline, “Unlocking vast reserves of… Read more

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

I’ve had some posts about Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson and the successor to D. James Kennedy at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.  He is a significant evangelical pastor who credits Lutherans (e.g., Bo Giertz; Harold Senkbeil; Rod Rosenbladt) for helping him to understand the full magnitude of the Gospel.  He has written a book about all of this–including how it impacted him as he went through some difficult times in his ministry–entitled  Jesus + Nothing = Everything. I was asked… Read more

Personhood amendment voted down

The people of Mississippi rejected a state constitutional amendment that would classify a human embryo as a “person” entitled to all legal protections.  According to the latest count, the margin was 59% to 41%.  This, even though both Republican and Democratic leaders in that conservative state supported the amendment.  See Mississippi anti-abortion ‘personhood’ amendment fails at ballot box – The Washington Post. Some pro-life activists opposed the tactic of trying to push through a personhood laws, something also being considered… Read more

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