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

January 8, 2019

The far left wing of the Democratic-controlled Congress has been pushing something called the Green New Deal.   As a proposal to deal with climate change and other environmental issues, it has been around for awhile, particularly in Europe.  But this Congressional proposal being championed by the new socialist congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) adds to the “Green” environmental policies, a plan to establish gender & racial equality and “eliminate poverty” (with job guarantees, providing a basic income to all, universal health… Read more

January 7, 2019

Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, a conservative and a Trump supporter, gave an answer to Mitt Romney’s critique of the president.  But in doing so, Carlson made an impassioned case that both parties’ preoccupation with economic growth is ignoring  the plight of ordinary Americans.  In fact, he argues that free market capitalism–his fellow Republicans’ answer to everything–has been destroying families, faith, and culture. Our economy is booming.  So why, he asks, is the nation so full of despair, with a… Read more

January 4, 2019

The song we’ve been learning over the Christmas season by singing it every service is “All My Heart Again Rejoices,” another stunning hymn by the great Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676).  We blogged about his advent hymn for Christmas (see “Love Caused Your Incarnation”).  So now let’s contemplate his Christmas hymn for Epiphany. Here are the lines of the second stanza that jumped out at me: Hear! The Conqueror has spoken: “Now the foe, Sin and woe, Death and hell are broken!”… Read more

January 4, 2019

We now have a divided government (shut down though it be), as Democrats took power in the House of Representatives yesterday.   But that is only one of the divisions shaping up for 2019. Divided Government Republicans still hold the Senate and the Presidency, but the new Democratic House will likely thwart their agendas and bedevil President Trump with ever more investigations (of his business practices; of Trump University; of his treatment of women; of whether he is violating the emolument… Read more

January 3, 2019

I stumbled across an interesting account of a long-running debate between the Reformed neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth and the Catholic theologian Erich Przywara on the issue of “the analogy of being.”  It contains this wonderful line:  “In the charmed phrase of German theologian Christian Link, God cannot be found in the world any more than Charles Dickens can be found in his novels, yet he is there throughout and is the reason they exist.” “The Analogy of Being” is the notion… Read more

January 2, 2019

I missed Holy Innocents Day on December 28, which commemorates King Herod’s slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18) in a vain attempt to kill the Christ child!  This has become a day in the church year to reflect on the evil of abortion in our time. I came across a thought-provoking article on the subject in the Catholic World Report.  The author, Peter Stravinskas, makes connections between the rage of Herod and the rage of pro-abortion advocates.  He makes good use… Read more

January 1, 2019

How felicitous it is that the secular holiday New Year’s Day is also the day of the church year dedicated to the Name of Jesus!  Beginning the year in the name of Jesus is quite appropriate. On the seventh day after His birth (hence, seven days after Christmas), the baby Jesus was circumcised–entering into the covenant of God’s people, an action parallel in the church to infant baptism–whereupon He was officially given His name. The angel was very specific when… Read more

January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!  It is now the Year of the Lord 2019!  What do you think will happen this year?  Today, New Year’s Day, in addition to watching the Rose Bowl Parade, recovering from the previous night’s revelry, and eating your regional good-luck food (black-eyed peas here in Oklahoma), we celebrate by making predictions. Our annual contest begins.  Here are my explanations from last year: The custom on this blog on New Years Day is for readers to predict what… Read more

December 31, 2018

It’s New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year, when the ball drops in Times Square and the Cranach blog reviews readers’ predictions for the year just past.  This exercise culminates in awarding the virtual, nonexistent traveling trophy for the best prediction of them all. The predictions for 2018–you can see them here–were thoughtful and, though most were wrong, were not too far wrong.  A number dealt with the Mueller investigation, which is still dragging on, so we don’t… Read more

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