The tornado set a record

One of the tornadoes that hit the Oklahoma City area on Friday was the widest ever recorded at 2.6 miles.  It was rated an EF5, which is the very top of the tornado scale.  Nine days earlier, another EF5 had hit Moore, an Oklahoma City suburb.  And in 1999, Moore had another of the rare EF5’s.  That twister featured winds at 302 m.p.h., the strongest winds ever recorded.  On Friday, the extra-wide tornado had winds just short of that, at 300 m.p.h.   Good thing it struck out in the country or Oklahoma City would have been blown off the map, with untold numbers of casualties.  As it was, 18 people were killed, including two tornado chasers.  The three tornadoes that we endured that night paled by comparison. [Read more…]

Funeral update

Well, we are getting back to normal now.  Our ill-fated road trip is over, and we are back home.  The funeral for my father was more like the second kind of funeral I posted about.  It was good to see so many old friends and family members there.  I especially appreciated getting to re-connect with some cousins who, when I was growing up, were pretty much my best friends.  We were sent out, in Milton’s words, “though sorrowing, yet in peace.”

Thanks again for your words of support, consolation, and care.  I was astonished at how much that sort of thing helped.

The Numinous

Many years ago, I read The Idea of the Holy by the Lutheran phenomenologist Rudolph Otto.  This book profoundly influenced C. S. Lewis, who writes about it in Surprised by Joy, and I have to say that it also influenced me. Touchstone Magazine has published a fascinating article entitled Surprised by Awe: C. S. Lewis & Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy  by Clara Sarrocco.

Otto was describing and analyzing a distinct kind of religious experience that he called “numinous,” from the Latin numen, meaning “divine power.”  It is the perception of awe-inspiring, transcendent mystery.   If  “mystical” experience means feeling one with God, the numinous is almost its opposite, the sense of coming into contact with some One “wholly other” than oneself.  It is overwhelming, effacing the self while also filling the self with ineffable joy.  The numinous goes beyond the rational, but Otto is careful to explain that it stands in relationship to objective religious doctrines. [Read more…]

Supremes give police access to your DNA

It takes a warrant for the police to search your house or tap your phone.  But not to record and keep track of your DNA.  So ruled the Supreme Court yesterday.  The Constitution’s protections against “unreasonable search and seizure” do not apply to your genetic code. [Read more…]

Archbishop of Canterbury on Gay Marriage

In the United Kingdom, gay marriage has passed the House of Commons and is now being considered by the House of Lords.  The Church of England, despite its reputation for theological liberalism, is opposing the measure.  I was struck by what the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said about gay marriage in a speech before the House of Lords (of which he and other bishops are members). [Read more…]

Can there be “Lutheran Baptists” or other non-Lutheran Lutherans?

Southern Baptists are currently embroiled in a controversy over “Calvinist Baptists.”  David Koyzis and Collin Garbarino over at the First Things blog are asking if there can be Calvinist Baptists, why can’t there be “Lutheran Baptists”?

After all, Lutherans were flexible about allowing different kinds of church polities.  Calvin is associated with Presbyterianism.  One might think that Luther’s theology would be more adaptable.  When it comes to soteriology, says Mr. Garbarino, Calvinism and Lutheranism are pretty much the same anyway.  (He adds in a parentheses:  “I know some people will disagree with that last statement, but those people are wrong.”)

Read David T. Koyzis, Calvinist Baptists, But No ‘Lutheran’ Baptists?  and Collin Garbarino,   Why We Don’t Have Lutheran Baptists  and help them out with this question.  Let me begin. [Read more…]