Flashing headlights to warn about traffic cops

A driver coming from the opposite direction flashes headlights at you.  You slow down.  Sure enough, when you go around the corner you see a highway patrolman with a radar gun.  That stranger with the flashing headlights saved you from a speeding ticket.  Is that a good work, an example of loving one’s neighbor?  Or is it aiding and abetting illegal activity?  (I remember as a teenager mentioning that I flashed a warning about a speed trap, and my aunt jumped all over me, whereupon I felt ashamed.)

At any rate, I guess there is a law against that in Florida, though a judge in that state just tossed it out.  Flashing your headlights to communicate counts as free speech:

A judge in Sanford ruled Tuesday that a Lake Mary man was lawfully exercising his First Amendment rights when he flashed his headlights to warn neighbors that a deputy had set up a speed trap nearby.

That decision is another victory for Ryan Kintner, 25, who sued theSeminole County Sheriff’s Officelast year, accusing it of misconstruing a state law and violating his civil rights, principally his right to free speech.

He was ticketed Aug. 10 by a Seminole County deputy, but Kintner alleges the officer misapplied a state law designed to ban motorists from flashing after-market emergency lights.

Circuit Judge Alan Dickey earlier ruled that that state law does not apply to people who did what Kintner did, use his headlights to communicate.

On Tuesday the judge went a step further, saying people who flash their headlights to communicate are engaging in behavior protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“He felt the police specificially went out of their way to silence Mr. Kintner and that it was clearly a violation of his First Amendment free speech rights,” said his attorney, J. Marcus Jones of Oviedo.

via flashing headlights: Sanford judge rules in favor of motorist who flashed his headlights – Orlando Sentinel.

So it’s legal.  But is it moral?

Thomas Kinkade as a nihilistic, dangerous artist

A good test-case for our discussions about what makes for Christian art.  Christian art historian Daniel Siedell (a Lutheran sympathizer) on the bad theology of the paintings of Thomas Kinkade, the popular “painter of light” who died recently:

Kinkade claimed, “I like to portray a world without the Fall.” My professional colleagues dismissed Kinkade’s work as harmlessly trite, uninteresting, nostalgic, and sentimental illustrations that provide consumers with an “art-like” experience without the rigors and demand of attending seriously to learning the tradition of serious art. . . .

But from a theological perspective, his work is not merely problematic, it is dangerous. Kinkade and his devotees have long railed against the nihilism of modern art and the contemporary art world. But because it denies the very foundation of our relationship to God in Christ, Kinkade’s work is more nihilistic than anything Picasso and Pollock could paint, or Nietzsche and Sartre could write.

Because it is an outgrowth of his (imagined) view of a world “before the Fall,” Kinkade depicts a world governed by obedience to the law. . . . But the Edenic world Kinkade projects is pretty much the fallen world without the dirtiness of the city and the inconvenience of other people, a weekend getaway in the country. All we need to do to return to Eden is get our lives in order. Kinkade’s much ballyhooed “light” merely adds atmosphere and glow, a pleasant touch to an already charming scene. And because it makes us so comfortable, it is a very dark light indeed.

Kinkade’s work is the meticulously painted smile on the Joker’s disfigured face. It refuses to deal with the fallenness, brokenness, sinfulness of the world. And more troubling, it enables his clientele to escape into an imaginary world where things can be pretty good, as long as we have our faith, our family values, and a visual imagery that re-affirms all this at the office and at home. . . .

But Kinkade’s work refuses to take us to the end of ourselves, refuses the confrontations and disruption that could open us up to grace. His images give us a world that’s really okay, a world in which all we need is home and hearth, a weekend retreat, a cozy night with the family to put us right with God. It is a world devoid of pain and suffering; devoid of any fear of insanity or suicide. As a result, it is also a world without grace, without the Word that offers it. Kinkade’s multi-million dollar empire was built on our fallen human refusal to confront our innate hopelessness and our need to do what the Ninevites did in the book of Jonah, rip our clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and beg for God’s grace. “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 3: 9).

Although his visual imagery refused to acknowledge violence and desperation, Kinkade’s personal life was full of it. I can only imagine the excruciating pressure he felt to live up to these deceptively dangerous paintings, which deprived him of the grace he so desperately needed. If only Kinkade could have used his considerable artistic gifts to produce work that came out of his fear, anger, desperation, and his struggle with faith in Christ, he just might have become a painter of Light.

via The Dark Light of Thomas Kinkade.

Read it all.  Dr. Siedell’s complaint is about works that are all law, while implying that we can easily keep that law.   That encourages complacency, self-righteousness, and salvation by works.  He argues for work that destroys our complacency, while opening us up to God’s grace in Christ.  That is to say, Dr. Siedell is applying a Law/Gospel hermeneutic to art criticism!

HT:  Ben Guido

Number of pro-choicers at historic low

It would seem that pro-lifers are winning the argument.  Except that a large number of pro-lifers evidently believe that abortion should be legal.

The percentage of Americans who identify themselves as “pro-choice” is at the lowest point ever measured by Gallup, according to a new survey released Wednesday.

A record-low 41 percent now identify themselves as “pro-choice,” down from 47 percent last July and 1 percentage point down from the previous record low of 42 percent, set in May 2009. As recently as 2006, 51 percent of Americans described themselves as “pro-choice.”

Meanwhile, 50 percent of Americans now consider themselves “pro-life,” one point below Gallup’s record high on the measure.

“Gallup began asking Americans to define themselves as pro-choice or pro-life on abortion in 1995, and since then, identification with the labels has shifted from a wide lead for the pro-choice position in the mid-1990s, to a generally narrower lead for “pro-choice” — from 1998 through 2008 — to a close division between the two positions since 2009,” explains the polling firm.

“Pro-life” identification is up among all three U.S. political affiliations: 72 percent of Republicans are “pro-life,” up from 68 percent last year; 47 percent of independents are, compared with 41 percent last year; and 34 percent of Democrats are, compared with 27 percent last year.

In terms of morality, a slight majority — 51 percent — of Americans consider abortion morally wrong, while 38 percent say that it is morally acceptable — virtually unchanged to views on the matter in May 2011.

Views on legality are slightly different: 72 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal; 52 percent believe it should be legal under certain circumstances; and 20 percent believe it should be legal under all circumstances. A quarter of the American population believes abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

via Poll: Record low are ‘pro-choice’ – Tim Mak – POLITICO.com.

New online classical Lutheran school

One of the promising developments in homeschooling is the advent of on-line courses.  Parents can now enroll their children in an entire on-line school or in individual hard-to-teach-on-your-own classes.  A promising venture that many Lutheran homeschoolers are excited about is  Wittenberg Academy, an online classical Lutheran school, featuring strong confessional theology and an academically-rich curriculum for high-schoolers.  After long preparation, Wittenberg Academy is now taking registrations for the Fall.  (Sorry, for the “Michaelmas Term.”  Isn’t that cool, having a “Michaelmas Term”?)  Here is the notice I received:

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! It is with exceeding joy that I share with you the news that registration for the 2012-13 academic year is live!

After much ado about much, we decided to go the simple route for the time being and explore better options in the future for accepting online payments, etc. For now, you can go to http://www.wittenbergacademy.org/registration.html and fill out the online form. Once we receive your registration, we will email you with payment options and a summary of your registration.

As the form is very simple, be sure to check out http://www.wittenbergacademy.org/2012-13course_descriptions.html for any prerequisites and in which term a class is being offered.

At each step of this journey of bringing you the best in online Classical Lutheran education, we trust God for his timing and provision. While our timing would have included live registration several months ago, we trust that this is God’s best for Wittenberg Academy and thank you for your patience.

Here are a few items for your consideration: Michaelmas Term runs September 4, 2012- November 21, 2012 Christmas Term runs November 26, 2012- March 1, 2013 with Christmas break from December 22, 2012- January 6, 2013 Easter Term runs March 11, 2013- May 31, 2013 with Easter break from March 28- April 1 and no class on Memorial Day (May 27)

Each class is one credit with the exception of the Paideia courses, which are three credits. Each credit (class) is $400. Thus, all classes, with the exception of the Paideia courses, are $400.

The Paideia courses are $1200. If you have any questions about registration, be sure to contact me! Again, we thank you for your patience and look forward to partnering with you during the 2012-13 academic year!

Jocelyn

Mrs. Jocelyn Benson, Head Teacher Wittenberg Academy

mrsbenson@wittenbergacademy.org www.wittenbergacademy.org

Courses offered this term include Math (Algebra I, pre-Calculus, & Calculus I&II), Languages (Latin, Greek, & German), Science (biology & chemistry), Liberal Arts (beginning and intermediate courses in grammar, logic, & rhetoric; also several music courses), Theology (“Liturgical Theology & Sacramental Piety”), four levels of “Paideia” (an integrated humanities curriculum, studying history, literature, philosophy, etc.), and electives (Physical Education, Psychology, & Personal Finance).

Another option is for parochial schools to supplement their offerings with some of these online courses.

 

The electoral math

It’s early in the head-to-head campaign, with some polls showing Romney ahead and others showing Obama.  The deciding factor, of course, is the electoral college.  It takes 270 to win.  According to this analysis in the Washington Post, Obama has 196 electoral votes tied up, with 41 leaning his way  (total=237).  Romney has 170 solid, with 21 leaning (total=191).  There are 110 electoral votes in play that could go for either candidate, which means that the election will be decided by nine states:  Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia.

Here is a likely scenario: Southern states break for Romney (Virginia 13, North Carolina 15, Florida 29;  Total: 248) as do the Western states (Nevada 6, Colorado 9; total: 263), and throw in New Hampshire (4; Total: 267).  The upper midwest states states go for Obama (Wisconsin 10, Iowa 6, Ohio 18, Pennsylvania 20;  Total: 291).  Obama wins.

Romney would have to get at least one of the upper midwest states, though the economically-depressed rustbelt tends to lurch to the Democrats.  Then again, rural Iowa would be enough to elect Romney.

Do you see any of these states going in a different-than-predicted direction?

Auden on modern liturgies

A letter from the late poet W. H. Auden to his pastor, on the occasion of the church–St. Mark’s Episcopal in New York City–adopting a more modern liturgy:

77 St Mark’s Place
New York City 3

Nov. 26th [year not given]

Dear Father Allen:

Have you gone stark raving mad? Aside from its introduction of a lesson and psalm from the O.T., which seems to me admirable since few people go any more to Mattins or Evensong, the new ‘liturgy’ is appalling.

Our Church has had the singular good-fortune of having its Prayer-Book composed and its Bible translated at exactly the right time, i.e., late enough for the language to be intelligible to any English-speaking person in this century (any child of six can be told what ‘the quick and the dead’ means) and early enough, i.e., when people still had an instinctive feeling for the formal and the ceremonious which is essential in liturgical language.

This feeling has been, alas, as we all know, almost totally lost. (To identify the ceremonious with ‘the undemocratic’ is sheer contemporary cant.) The poor Roman Catholics, obliged to start from scratch, have produced an English Mass which is a cacophonous monstrosity (the German version is quite good, but German has a certain natural sonority): But why should we imitate them?

I implore you by the bowels of Christ to stick to Cranmer and King James. Preaching, of course, is another matter: there the language must be contemporary. But one of the great functions of the liturgy is to keep us in touch with the past and the dead.

And what, by the way, has happened to the altar cloths? If they have been sold to give money to the poor, I will gladly accept their disappearance: I will not accept it on any liturgical or doctrinal grounds.

With best wishes

[signed]

W.H. Auden

HT: Meghan Duke and Joe Koczera

Auden is not referring to “contemporary worship,” of course, just the folky trendiness of modern-language liturgies (think Catholic folk masses as opposed to the Tridentine Mass; Lutheran Worship, as opposed to The Lutheran Hymnal, though not nearly so much).  I believe this letter dates from 1968 and probably refers to some of the trial orders of worship that would lead up to the 1979 version of the Book of Common Prayer.  Still, what we now know as contemporary Christian worship arguably had its theological beginnings in the worship innovations of these liturgical churches, which adopted the principles of being community-centered, using modern music, and being culturally relevant.

Auden was arguably the greatest poet in English in the generation after T. S. Eliot.  Whereas Eliot, born in St. Louis, gave up his American citizenship to become a naturalized British subject, Auden did the reverse, giving up his British citizenship to become an American.  Both had been known for cutting edged bohemian radicalism and then converted to Christianity.  I suppose I should also say that Auden, who was open about it, was gay, though I haven’t run across anything where he justifies his sexual orientation.

There is much good material here:  his rejection of the notion that liturgical worship is undemocratic; his defense of archaic language; his point that the liturgy is supposed to connect us with the past and with the dead, his exhortation “by the bowels of Christ.”

http://greesons.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a679bde1970b0120a85249c2970b-800wi


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