January 21, 2019

On this Martin Luther King Day, it’s worth reflecting on why his father changed his and his son’s name to honor Martin Luther.  The Washington Post tells the tale.  And it includes a detail I didn’t realize:  That Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to Luther in his very last sermon before his death. From DeNeen L. Brown, The story of how Michael King Jr. became Martin Luther King Jr.: The story of how Michael became Martin began in 1934 when King’s… Read more

January 21, 2019

It looked like the smoking gun that Trump critics had yearned for, specific evidence of a serious crime that could lead to the president’s impeachment, conviction, and imprisonment. BuzzFeed News reported that President Trump instructed his fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, telling him to testify that his Trump Tower project had been cancelled long before it actually was.  Suborning perjury is a felony.  In this case, it would also constitute obstruction of justice.  It would also raise questions… Read more

January 18, 2019

Complaints about “toxic masculinity” often come across as complaints about “masculinity.”  The Gillette ad on the subject shows leering men committing sexual harassment, bullies tormenting those smaller than themselves, and otherwise being obnoxious.  But such behavior was always scorned by men of honor.  The Gillette ad does show men in their traditional masculine role as protectors, role models, and fathers.  Though it comes across as feminist and condescending.  (I’ve embedded it below, so you can judge for yourself.) But there… Read more

January 17, 2019

Enes Kanter was the backup center for the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The resident of Turkey was always so cheerful, positive, and supportive of his teammates and the city that everyone here was sorry to see him go, being traded to the New York Knicks, where he is starting and becoming a really good player.  Too bad his life is in danger. Kanter openly criticizes the dictatorial president of Turkey, Recep Erdogan.  Kanter is a supporter of  Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish theologian… Read more

January 16, 2019

America seems to be in a state of malaise on all sides–thanks to Trump hatred, government shutdown, political paralysis, cultural dysfunctions, etc., etc.–and there is a pervasive sense that the nation is undergoing a decline.  But an outside perspective from another country is arguing that America is, in fact, in a state of “resurgence” that is “reshaping the world.” The controversial Canadian businessman Conrad Black in that country’s National Post marvels at the strength of the American economy–stressing details I had not thought… Read more

January 15, 2019

The Seattle Times has published a column by Jon Talton lamenting how our culture today has lost the concept of objective truth.  Ironically, it blames conservatives for “our post-truth era.” What the author is describing is post-modernism.  He seems to not realize that this world-view is taught in the nation’s left-leaning universities, that it is the philosophy behind post-Marxist “critical theory” and identity politics. Still, Republicans can be postmodernists too.  The author quotes an anonymous official (also unnamed in the original… Read more

January 14, 2019

The Bill of Rights prevents the government from infringing on our civil liberties, such as the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to bear arms.  But that doesn’t prevent the private sector from infringing on those civil liberties.  Gun control advocates, thwarted by constitutional law, have a new idea for restricting firearm ownership:  Pressuring banks and credit card companies to refuse transactions involving firearms. From James Setterlund, Get Ready for a Financial Assault on the Second Amendment, in National… Read more

January 11, 2019

Even secularists today are talking about the importance of having a sense of “calling”; that is, a sense of vocation (a Latinate word that means, simply, “calling”).  Many secularist treatments seem to be oblivious to the fact that this is a theological concept and that, strictly speaking, you cannot have a “calling” apart from Someone who “calls” you.  Nevertheless, this interest in vocation is a good sign, demonstrating that churches would do well to recover and to teach the doctrine… Read more

January 10, 2019

My fellow Patheos blogger Roger Olsen has written an eloquent critique of President Trump’s desire for a border wall and of walls in general.  Throughout, he cites a recurring line from Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall”:  “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”  But that poem has another recurring line:  “Good fences make good neighbors.” The poem is NOT about physical barriers along the border.  Rather, it is about the stone fences that separate New England farms.  And, metaphorically,… Read more

January 9, 2019

Bach wrote liturgical music and choir cantatas built around hymns and Biblical texts.  But he also wrote “secular” music and purely instrumental compositions.  Some critics try to play those off against each other, to the point of maintaining that Bach was only “free” when he worked without the constraints of religion.  But serious scholarship shows that, for Bach, both his church music and his secular music were expressions of his Christian faith and specifically Lutheran theology (which sacralizes the “secular”… Read more

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