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

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

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