Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A fine Lenten sermon

Thanks to Prof. Gene Veith for sharing this fine Lenten sermon by Pastor James Douthwait of St. Athanasius Lutheran Church in Vienna, Virginia.

Folks in the D.C. area are blessed in having two fine, confessional congregations available to them like St. Athanasius and my own former congregation, Immanuel in Alexandria, Va. Prs. Douthwaite and Esget are both wonderful preachers and faithful shepherds.

'What has Hillary ever accomplished?'

Economist Thomas Sowell asks that simple question- for which Democrats don't seem to have an answer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's depressing...

...when biblical illiteracy reaches the point that people are unable to see the connection between this article and this one.

And no, it's not that there is anything in the world wrong with high heels or lipstick.

HT: Real Clear Religion

Who'da thunk it?

Like many of my generation, I became politically active in the Eugene McCarthy campaign in 1968. After the convention debacle- I was caught in the middle of Michigan Avenue during the police riot- I became part of what was known a "the Independent Movement" in Chicago politics. Basically, we were liberal anti-Daley, anti-Machine activists who- politics making especially strange bedfellows in Chicago- often made common cause with the only other anti-Machine political force in Chicago, the tiny Cook County Republican Party.

We ran candidates for alterman and the state legislature, usually in gentrified liberal wards on the Lakefront. Bill Singer's successful aldermanic campaign in the 43rd Ward was the first winning campaign I was ever involved in. Later, law student Michael Holewinski took advantage of Illinois' multi-member House districts and cumulative voting to win several consecutive elections even from my own blue-collar Northwest Side 17th Legislative District. Since the Machine ran two candidates in the district, and every voter had three votes, all Mike had to do is to get half the people who voted for the Machine candidates to vote for him, and he was in.

I look back on those days with a great deal of affection. The victories were sweet, the defeats were bitter, but above all I had a real sense of making a difference. But alas, there was never a question of the Independent Movement actually taking power. When Bill Singer ran for mayor against the elder Daley, he was crushed. It wasn't until after "Da Mare's" death that the Blizzard of '79 and the arrogance of those left to make such decisions infuriated the African-American community by closing down the Elevated stations in the black wards and running express trains out to Jefferson Park and the white ones that Jane Byrne- herself a renegade member of the Machine- succeeded in beating it and becoming the first non-Machine mayor of my lifetime.

A great deal has changed since the '70's. Chicago is a different city. The "City that Worked" doesn't anymore. It's deeply in debt. Its once golden bonds are only two steps above junk bond status. After decades of growth for the African-American community, black Chicagoans- as sociologist Ernest Burgess predicted back in 1923 would eventually happen- are moving to the suburbs as the central city gentrifies. All at once, the "Lakefront Liberals-" once dismissed as ineffectual "goo-goo's" (short for "good government") by Machine types- have come into their own among Chicago's shrinking electorate. All of a sudden, the "goo-goo's" have power.In fact, they're the backbone of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's support.

The gay community on the Northwest Side is, and always has been, a key element in the "goo-goo" coalition. The second Mayor Daley strove mightily to bring it and other elements in what was once the only effective opposition to the Machine into the tent, and he largely succeeded. This explains Mayor Emanuel's constitutionally questionable decision to ban Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy from the city for contributing to anti-marriage redefinition organizations a few years ago.

But now, it seems, the "outs" are the "ins." If the "goo-goos" aren't running things, they're certainly among the groups who are.

My politics have changed a bit since then, and if I still lived in Chicago I probably wouldn't still be a part of the movement to which I devoted so much time and effort back n the '70's. I am no fan of Rahm Emanuel, believing as I do in the First Amendment. And I am certainly no fan of the even more radical Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, whose victory in the April 7th runoff I both expect and fear. Emanuel, at least, has struggled manfully to save the city from financial disaster, and I don't think Garcia has a clue.

But part of me can't help but feel a little proud of the movement of which I was an active member for so long a time. The "goo-goo's" are finally in the ascendant.

As Harry Carey would have said, "Who'da thunk it?"

Little Brother is watching you!

I dare you

Think you know about abortion in the United States?

Take this brief quiz. You might be surprised.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cruz will lose

Sen. Ted Cruz- who strikes me as too ideologically extreme to be elected and as lacking the temperament to be president- has become the first major Republican candidate to announce for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Heaven help us.

HT: Drudge

Having your cake, eating it too, and eating it again tomorrow

I'll probably never get around to writing my book, The Least Generation: How the Baby Boomers Ruined America. But if I did, this post over at Cranach kind of illustrates the problem I have with my generation, and with contemporary Americans generally.

The world just doesn't work that way.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jesus Garcia performs a miracle

After Chicago's !!@$@!$!! mayor, Rahm Emanuel, decided to ban restaurants whose owners opposed marriage redefinition from the city, I thought nothing could make me root for his re-election.

But the Democratic party, which always seems to reach ever more zany degrees of extremist outrageousness, has managed to pull it off.

If Rahm Emanuel is what passes for a "moderate" Democrat...

Hey. Gotta bite the bullet. My home town is tottering on the bridge of financial disaster, and I'm afraid that "Chuy" Garcia and his "progressive" politics will be enough to tip it over the edge.

Go Rahm.

(Shudder).

HT: Drudge

In view of this...

...how can anybody take the nuclear talks with Iran- or the Obama policy toward Iran- seriously?

We know who calls the shots in the Islamic Republic- and it ain't the Foreign Ministry!

HT: Drudge

Friday, March 20, 2015

We are apparently a nation of idolaters

The Barna pollsters say that Americans are loyal to family, country, and God- in that order.

There is, of course, a problem here. It can be summed up in the words, "You shall have no other gods before me." It seems that- at least according to the Barna people- Americans have two such gods before Him: family and country.

Biblical and religious illiteracy is, of course, at an all-time high in America and throughout the Western world. In a way, it's not surprising that we're a nation of idolaters. Martin Luther said that our god is whatever we fear, love and trust the most.

Either Barna is wrong, or we as a nation aren't quite clear about the entire concept of "God."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

We could do a lot worse than John Kasich in 2016

I've always liked John Kasich.

I still do. And especially if Jeb founders, we could do a lot worse than electing Ohio's governor as our president next year.

HT: Real Clear Politics

Paglia holds forth

Ok. I don't agree with everything she says. And "Reason" isn't always reasonable.

But Camille Paglia is still my favorite lesbian atheist.


HT: Drudge

Update on 2016

The Presbyterians rebel against both human and divine law

The Presbyterian Church-USA- not content to rebel against the Word of God and reject the consistent teaching not only of every stratum of Scripture but of the entire Christian tradition- has gone beyond the ELCA, the UCC, and other revisionist denominations to actually change their definition of marriage and authorize its ministers to perform same-sex "marriages" even where they aren't legal.


Apostasy is always tragic. And such aggressive apostasy is especially so.

God: "Now that I have your attention..."

Thoughtful post from Gene Veith about last Sunday's Old Testament lesion, the shallowness of our reactions to God's dealings with us, and our failure to understand that sometimes what seems mean on His part is actually very, very merciful.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

John Stossel writes about Chicago on the brink of disaster

Here's a sensible- though bleak- analysis by conservative commentator John Stossel of the situation Chicago finds itself in as the April 7 mayoral runoff approaches.

I wish I could say that he's wrong. Chicago is the city in which I was born and raised, and in which I lived about half of my life. It's the city I love. I will always consider myself a Chicagoan at heart no matter how long I live in exile.

But the city I love is I big, big trouble, and the same corrupt and cynical political culture which once enabled Mayor Daley the Elder and his administration to cut corners and make Chicago "the city that worked" now makes it unlikely that it can crawl out of a financial hole directly resulting from decades of pandering to special interests. The candidate of those special interests- Jesus "Chuy" Garcia- will probably win. But even if Mayor Rahm Emanuel manages to pull off a narrow victory on April 7, the political culture and the realities of the politics of greed likely will make it impossible for him to turn things around.

Chicago's motto is Urbs in horto ("City in a Garden"). The late Mike Royko wrote that it really ought to be Ubi est mea ("Where's mine?"). Chicago is tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, and the politics of selfishness still reign supreme.

It breaks my heart to say it, but Stossel is likely right: Chicago- once a model for large cities all over America despite its shady political culture- has been brought by that culture to the point where it is likely the next Detroit.

Poll: nearly two-thirds say Ferguson-type incidents are overreported

Despite the firestorm of publicity over incidents in which police have shot supposedly innocent African-Americans, a new Rasmussen poll says that most Americans aren't buying it.

62% of the American people believe that other blacks shooting innocent blacks is a bigger problem than policemen shooting blacks. And 61% believe that incidents such as the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo, are overhyped by the media.

63% say that the jobs of police are made more dangerous as a result.

Yet another example of the social and political agenda of those who report the news distorting their coverage of it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

BTW...


A replay of my annual rant: a four-leaf clover is NOT a shamrock!


Here, from a previous year, is a brief biography of Maewyn Succat, aka St. Patrick.

I've mentioned on previous St. Paddy's Days how the confusion of a pagan symbol of good luck- the Four Leaf Clover- with the shamrock, whose whole significance is that Patrick used it to illustrate the Trinity to the Irish, drives me up a wall.

Actually, there isn't an illustration of the Trinity that really works. Whether the skin, flesh and core of the apple, or water and steam and ice, or- well, the shamrock (God doesn't have three heads!), any attempt to explain this mystery finally ends in heresy. Though some illustrations are better than others, and Patrick's shamrock is one of the better ones, IMO.

BTW, the reference to Voltran shouldn't be pushed. The author was just having fun working that reference into the mix.



Monday, March 16, 2015

New study documents pro-Obama media bias in 2012

A new study documents 130,213 incidents of pro-Obama bias on the part of American and international media during the 2012 presidential campaign.

There's nothing new about such pro-Democratic and anti-Republican bias, of course. Domestically, study after study reveals that reporters are overwhelmingly liberal in their political philosophy and vote Democratic by a wide margin in election after election.

What's surprising is that there is anyone sufficiently clueless to be surprised.

HT: Drudge

Gore wants to "punish" climate change deniers

It has been said that inside every "progressive" is a totalitarian dying to get out.

We've seen Chicago's Mayor Emanuel reveal his inner totalitarian in the Chik-fil-A affair. "Progessives" generally favor denying people's freedom of religion and forcing them to pay for abortifacient drugs despite their belief that it would make them accomplices to murder. The very concept of "hate speech" clearly indicates a failure to share the values of the Founding Fathers as reflected in the First Amendment.

But now, it seems, Al Gore wants to "punish climate change deniers."

HT: Drudge

We need honesty about our differences where homosexuality is concerned

Last night on "The Good Wife," Elisha Florrick told her opponent in the Cook County State's Attorney race that "nobody thinks there's anything wrong with being gay."

Well, there's a sense in which she's right- a sense which the cultural Left is very careful to overlook. Only an idiot would regard being born with a homosexual orientation as a moral failing. What is controversial is not being homosexual. What is controversial is the morality of homosexual behavior. That's why all attempts to portray marriage redefinition or other attempts to mainstream homosexual behavior as civil rights issues are misguided. The issue is not discrimination against people who are of homosexual orientation, but rather the ethics and social impact of acting upon that orientation. Some may regard this as a subtle distinction, but it's really not.

We're talking about behavior, not an ontological condition like race or even a belief system like religion.

Now, the fact is that a large percentage of the American public do regard homosexual behavior as ethically wrong and socially undesirable. Any attempt to penalize such behavior would be inappropriate, an intrusion into matters that are none of anyone else's business, and a clear violation of the rights of people who choose to engage in it. But not so opposition to attempts to sanction or mainstream that behavior.

Confusing the distinction between orientation (a relatively recent concept, btw, and one not even known in biblical times or throughout nearly all of the history of the major American religions) and behavior is a favorite tactic of the cultural Left these days. And statements such as the one Elisha made to Frank Prady in last night's episode are either remarkably unperceptive of that crucial distinction, or- more likely- deliberate attempts to confuse it. Something close to half of the American people regard homosexual behavior as ethically wrong, and whether one agrees with that perception or not, it's less than honest to deliberately misrepresent the issue.

It seems that it's not enough that only one side is allowed to be heard in the debate over homosexuality these days. The cultural Left can't even manage to be honest about what the disagreement is.

Good news about our culture, for a change

Gene Veith writes that pluralism is replacing secularism as the paradigm sociologists are using for the dominant social ethos in America today.

I hope he's right. The dominant cultural Left isn't big on tolerance of viewpoints which differ from theirs, and if they're finally figuring out that diversity doesn't mean simply agreeing with them, this can only be to the good.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Oh, to be in Chicago, now that election time is here!

Emanuel or Garcia? On one hand, I'd kinda like to see both of these guys lose.

On the other hand, it sounds like it would sure be fun to be back home in Chicago during the runup to the mayoral runoff on April 7.

Is Rahm da bomb, or is Chuy the guy? I think the city would be (somewhat) better served by a second term for Emanuel; after all, even a totalitarian can be competent. And it doesn't sound like Garcia is really clear on what in the world he's going to do if he wins.

I have a hunch that he'll win anyway. Either way, surely Chicago can do better at what may be the most critical juncture in its history than either of these guys.

HT: Drudge

The ultimate liberal 'argument:' "You're stupid."

The subject was climate change, and Joe Biden- the poster child for political ADHD- has blurted out what most on the Left think is an argument for their side on almost any subject: "You're stupid."

Only it isn't an argument. It's an assertion. Moreover, it's an assertion people who are wrong can make just as easily as people who are right.

Why do liberals think that all they have to do is assert that they're right, and- voila!- it's beyond all doubt, even in the absence of logic?


HT: Drudge

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sometimes it's kind to be judgmental

Another one from Gene Veith, this time on the social cost of non-judgmentalism.

The difference between "priest," "minister," and "pastor"

Gene Veith observes that while all believers are priests, and all believers are ministers, not all believers are pastors.

A priest is simply anyone who intercedes with God for another. A minister is simply a servant. But a pastor is a shepherd. The pastoral ministry is a vocation. It is something to which a someone is specifically called. A layperson (as Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession points out) has no more business preaching or administering the Sacraments than a pastor does doing brain surgery, representing a person accused of committing a crime in court, or having a baby (NOTE: women are specifically forbidden the pastoral office by Scripture).

Not the way it works

While I'm glad that Antrelle Rolle is a Bear, this is not how to ascertain God's will- or to make a decision.

What he prayed the night before was the right way to go.

ADDENDUM: That said, d'ya think this could be any more unnecessarily snarky?

HT; Yardbarker