“We are all Thatcherites now”

Fareed Zakaria gives an overview of how the recently-deceased Margaret Thatcher changed the world’s economies:

Consider the world in 1979, when Thatcher came to power. The average Briton’s life was a series of interactions with government: Telephone, gas, electricity and water service, ports, trains and airlines were all owned and run by the state, as were steel companies and even Jaguar and Rolls-Royce. In almost all cases, this led to inefficiency and sclerosis. It took months to get a home telephone line installed. Marginal tax rates were ferociously high, reaching up to 83 percent. [Read more…]

Dark lightning

Thunderstorms create bolts of lightning, as we all know.   Scientists have recently discovered that they also create bolts of energy that we cannot see:  pulses of radiation–X-rays and Gamma-rays–that are being called “dark lightning.” [Read more…]

LCMS nominations

This item is for those interested in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  Everyone else may look away.  The nominations for president and other offices, which will be voted upon at the upcoming convention July 20-25, have been released.  It looks like the current president and other conservative, confessional types have an overwhelming advantage.  I give the list after the jump. [Read more…]

Sanctification and Vocation

The estimable Anthony Sacramone has been carrying on a fascinating and helpful discussion (in two posts here and here on Jonathan Fisk’s  Broken) about the Lutheran view of the Christian life, how it perhaps doesn’t do enough with sanctification.  I think the missing link, so to speak, is the doctrine of vocation.  Here is a somewhat revised version of what I posted as a comment:

The doctrine of vocation is not just about our work.  It really is the Lutheran doctrine of the Christian life.  We are brought to faith through Word and Sacrament and then we live out that faith in love and service to our neighbors.  “Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God  has called him” (1 Corinthians 7:17).  And God assigns us and calls us to various and multiple tasks in the orders that He has created for human beings:  the household (the family plus economic labor), the church, the state, and what Luther called “the general order of Christian love” (the informal relationships of friendship, interactions with others,  as in the Good Samaritan parable, etc.) . Vocation is where sanctification happens, where we exercise our faith, where we battle with sin, where we grow “in faith towards you [God], and in fervent love for one another” (as it says at the end of the liturgy, when we are sent back into our vocations).

I wonder if the problem is the ordinariness of the good works that take place in vocation.  As Einar Billing says in Our Calling, “In all our religious and ethical life, we are given to an incredible overestimation of the extraordinary at the expense of the ordinary.”  [Read more…]

Happy Baptism birthday to me

I didn’t grow up a Lutheran, so I don’t have the Baptismal sponsors or the Baptism anniversaries that lifelong Lutherans generally do.  But not too long ago, I discovered my Baptismal certificate.  It happened on April 10, 1960.  You non-Lutherans will appreciate that it was not an infant baptism.  I was 9.  It was a believer’s baptism.  I remember the fervency of my faith, though I suspect I did not have all that much more theological understanding than an infant.  It was by immersion.  I remember it vividly and it was a true religious experience for me at that young age.  I remember the exultation I felt, the sense of being clean, the sense of being Christ’s.  Such feelings, of course, aren’t necessary, but it’s nice to be able to actually “remember my baptism.”

Why are traditions that don’t put all that much emphasis on Baptism actually doing anything such sticklers about its mode?  When I became a Lutheran, my having been baptized in this way was considered quite valid.

At any rate, who else can remember his or her baptism?  What other Lutherans were baptized as adults?  Those of you in churches that don’t baptized infants, how old does someone have to be before he or she can offer a profession of faith and be baptized?  Those of you who only practice “adult” baptism must remember when this happened to you.  What was it like, and what did it mean to you?  Just church membership, just obeying a law, or was there a sense of the gospel, of dying and rising with Christ?

The next step in internet TV

As a follow-up to our ZeroTV discussion, I present to your information about Aereo, a website that will stream live television broadcasts that it picks up over the free airwaves.  Broadcasters and Cable moguls alike are trying to stop this venture in the courts, but so far to no avail.

I have questions for both sides of the controversy:  (1) How are broadcasters harmed if a website shows their over-the-air programming as opposed to that programming being shown on a television set? (2)  What is the advantage of watching live broadcasts on a computer screen as opposed to watching it over a television screen?  (3) Television stations are howling that their content is being “stolen.”  But how can it be stolen if the stations are giving it away for free? (4)  Why would viewers pay $10 per month for Aereo when they can get the same programming on a bigger screen for free?  [Read more…]