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Showing posts from October, 2005

Good news for Pluto

Two more moons have been discovered orbiting Pluto, bringing its total to three- and making it a bit tougher to argue that it's not really a planet, especially since they're all in the same plane as Pluto's previously-known moon, Charon.

But of course, since the whole controversy over Pluto's status arises from the fact that there is no actual, generally-accepted scientific definition of the word "planet" in the first place...

Another reason for the Bears to growl

With Sunday's victory over Detroit, the Bears became the first team in NFL history to have won 650 games.

Another feather in the cap of the NFL's most storied- and winningest- franchise.

The Festival of the Reformation

Salvation Unto Us Has Come

Words: Genevieve Irons
Tune: Es ist das heil, by Paul Speratus

1. Salvation unto us has come
By God's free grace and favor;
Good works cannot avert our doom,
They help and save us never.
Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,
Who did for all the world atone;
He is our one Redeemer.

2. What God did in His Law demand
And none to Him could render
Caused wrath and woe on every hand
For man, the vile offender.
Our flesh has not those pure desires
The spirit of the Law requires,
And lost is our condition.

3. It was a false, misleading dream
That God His Law had given
That sinners should themselves redeem
And by their works gain heaven.
The Law is but a mirror bright
To bring the inbred sin to light
That lurks within our nature.

4. From sin our flesh could not abstain,
Sin held its sway unceasing;
The task was useless and in vain,
Our guilt was e'er increasing.
None can remove sin's poisoned dart
Or purify our guileful heart,-
So deep is our corruption.

5. Yet as the Law must be fulfill…

Right on, Pastor Alms!

I don't know exactly how long Pr. Paul Gregory Almshas been in the parish ministry, but he already has his head on straight.

He knows what his job is... and isn't.

'Scalia lite'

It's Alito- and the radical Left is already proclaiming "Scalia lite" too radical.

Like Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a moderate?

But the same rules apply as applied for Chief Justice Roberts: pull a filibuster on the ground of Judge Alito's judicial philosophy, and

And a filibuster is the only way they're going to stop Alito- unless his fellow conservatives turn on him, that is.

Will conservative chickens come home to roost?

President Bush's next Supreme Court nominee- reportedly either Judge Samuel Alito of New Jersey or Judge J. Michael Luttig of Virginia- may well end up paying the price for the tactics used by conservative critics of Harriet Miers.

One can only hope that those tactics don't end up having the ironic result of preventing the confirmation of a nominee with better credentials than Miers both as a conservative and as a legal scholar. After all, some of the issues- specifically, religion and judicial philosophy- which Republicans successfully argued could not legitimately be raised against Chief Justice John Roberts were the very arguments Miers' conservative critics raised against her.

How, at this point, do you tell the Democrats they can't raise those issues against the new nominee?

Bear down!

With an effective two game lead in the NFC North half-way through the season... well, I'm not going to say it.

But things are looking up, to say the least, for my Bears- who, with all their offensive woes, have as good a defense as any in the NFL.

A Martian dust-up

A huge dust storm has broken out on Mars just as amateur telescopes are pointing at the planet in its closest approach until 2018.

The bright area in the lower right of the picture on the linked-to page is the storm.

BTW, the page to which the above link will take you contains one of the less accurate astronomical headlines I've seen for quite a while, on the video featuring Lester Holt of the Today Show: Mars is always close enough to see with the naked eye! If you can't see it, it's because the wrong part of the sky is overhead!

Sounds like something an editor would be more likely than Lester Holt to be responsible for!

Now if only those lousy clouds would get out of the way. The ones in our atmosphere, over Iowa, I mean.

And in Indonesia...

Alarming news from the Iron City

More on the persecution of the Copts in Egypt

Here comes Mars!

It's that bright orange thing up there...

It's at its closest Sunday night. It won't be this close again until 2018.

For ideal results, use a four- inch or greater refractor or Maksutov- Cassegrain with a red or orange filter. A smaller scope, or a scope of some other type, will be fine, though. There's a good chance of visible dust storms. A blue filter is best for these and other atmospheric phenomena.

If you don't have a telescope, there's probably an astronomy club or planetarium nearby. They can get you in touch this weekend with somebody with a scope pointed toward the only planet other than Earth whose surface we can view with our own eyes.

Chilling statistic

35.7 percent of all births in the United States last year were to unwed mothers.

Which means that for reasons of pure selfishness on the part of their parents, over a third of the kids born in our country will be at increased risk for everything from dropping out of school to drug addiction to prison to premature death.

Of course, this doesn't count the one out of three mothers who simply kill their kids in utero.

Wonderful time to be living in this culture, eh?

HT: Drudge

Words fail me

When I was growing up as a Cubs fan on the South Side of Chicago, I'd always brag about Ernie Banks. My friends- who were (naturally) nearly all Sox fans- would always come back with Minnie Minoso, their greatest star of the 'Fifties.

When the Sox won the World Series Wednesday night, they wouldn't let Minoso in the locker room.

Nobody knew who he was.

This is so sad and so shameful and just so beyond belief that I don't know what to say.

Poor Sox!

One of the chief engines behind the spleen of so many White Sox fans toward the Cubs is the fact that the Cubs routinely sell out every game, whereas the Sox have a hard time filling U.S. Cellular. The media in Chicago generally acknowledge the Sox pretty much as an afterthought, and until this year the national media hardly acknowledged them at all. Even as bad as the Cubs were this year, the Cubs outdrew the Sox by a substantial margin- and even the with the Sox being the defending world champions, the Cubs will almost certainly outdraw them again next year, especially if the North Siders make enough adjustments in their roster to make a credible run at the division. Quite understandably, it will drive Sox fans crazy.

The Sox are the Rodney Dangerfields of baseball. They just don't get no respect. Even winning the World Series didn't get them the recognition they rightly deserve. It seems that the recently concluded Series had the lowest TV ratings of any in history.

I might…

A history lesson for the Left

It's irritating when politically conservative Christians trot out a revisionist version of history which tries to make America's largely Deist and Freethinking Founding Fathers into orthodox Christians, and to suggest that we are somehow a "Christian nation" (whatever that might be). Comes in large measure of an inability to distinguish between the Two Kingdoms.

On the other hand, attempts to portray religious motivation for political movements, and in particular conservative Christian political activism through the Republican Party, as recent aberrations are equally bogus.

Thanks to the Rev. Mike Zamzow for the tip.

Good old Ward Churchill!

Do conservatives have a better friend?

And has anybody, anywhere, ever had a more ironic last name?

Mixed emotions on the Miers withdrawal

At Harriet Miers' request, President Bush has withdrawn her nomination to the Supreme Court.

I have mixed emotions about this. On one hand, Mr. Bush could surely have found a better nominee in the first place. On the other, I'm sorry to see the wholly unjustified paranoia and sometimes outright elitism of the extremist wing of the conservative movement get its way.

HT: Drudge

Oh, the humanity!

The White Sox are world champions.

I'm sure we'll survive. But it will be difficult for awhile- especially for my fellow Cub fans back home in Chicago.

To be fair, the Sox deserve it. And some of their fans do, too. This is one of the few world championship teams baseball has had in recent years which actually makes sense. They weren't a second-best wild card team that, having proven in the regular season not to even be the best team in their own division, simply got hot at the right time. For most of the season, the White Sox had the best record in baseball. It's refreshing to have a world champion worthy of the name again, even if they go by the name... (shudder) White Sox.

If only their fans, as a group, were more gracious, it would be easier for Cub fans like me to be gracious now. But easy or not, it's the right and appropriate thing to do.

To a point.

So congratulations, Sox fans. May your team's reign be a short one, and the interval until your next World Se…

The Lutheran 'solas' and the Church Fathers

Pastor Walt Snyder of Ask the Pastor has a great list of quotations from the early Church Fathers on the Reformation 'solas:" Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), and Solus Christus (Christ Alone).

Rome teaches that Scripture and tradition are both sources of divine revelation. Pastor Snyder has done us the service of reminding us of what some of the Fathers whose writings make up that tradition had to say.

'I am the Jaffa Con-di, and I serve Apophos!'

Our Leftist friends in the media are at it again. Only this time, they've been busted.

AUSA Today photograph of Secretary of State Condi Rice has apparently been deliberately manipulated in order to make her look as if she was demonically possessed- or something.

Maybe the manipulator is a Stargate SG-1fan, and is trying to make it appear that our foreign policy is being directed by the Goa'ould.

The altered picture has been removed from the paper's website, in any case.

Addendum: It seems that I am not the first blogger to think of the Goa'ould upon seeing the altered picture!

HT: Drudge

Coptic Pope targeted by Jihadists

Preaching baptism

My recent, not altogether pleasant exchange with Pr. Paul McCain on an issue concerning which I believe (as I have from the outset) that we are in fundamental agreement caused my personal Old Adam to go into a snit for a while. After all, as far as I could see, my misunderstandings of Pr. McCain were honest mistakes due to his failure to express himself clearly, whereas his misunderstandings of me were the result of his leaping to unjustified conclusions after not carefully enough considering the clarity of my own brilliant rhetoric. Right?

Well, wrong. It took me a day or so to put the Old Adam to death on that one, and get over that nonsense. In fact, both of us would have been well-advised to have read what the other wrote more carefully, and at the same time given heed to the dangers of being misunderstood inherent in certain ways in which we chose to communicate our thoughts. And I should have been less rhetorical and more interrogatory in my attempts to get Pastor McCain to clari…

The Commissioner's Office should butt out

The Houston Astros have a much better record at home when the roof is closed.

But the Commissioner's Office has meddled in the normal perogatives of the home team by ordering that the roof of Minute Maid Park be open for Game 3 of the World Series tonight.

IMO, it's the most outrageous abuse of the authority of the Commissioner's Office since the home field advantage in the 1984 NLCS- probably the decisive factor- was arbitrarily taken away from the Cubs and awarded to the Padres in the interest of televising one game in prime time rather than during the day.

No 'factor' in this year's Series

A while back, Quicunque Vult'sDeaconness Emily Calder- asked about the ex-Cub factor and its impact on the World Series. She expressed the hope that it would not doom the White Sox. I promised to research the matter and report back.

I have done so. And- alas, from my point of view- it does not.

At first, I thought it might. After all, two players on the Sox roster- outfielder Ross Gload and pitcher Jon Garland (traded for the infamous- at least on the North Side of Chicago- Matt Karchner)- were once Cub property, whereas, with the exception of infielder Jose Vizcaino, the Houston Astros' roster is ex-Cub free.

But no. It seems that Garland was a member of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs when traded to the White Sox. He never actually put on a Chicago Cubs uniform. Thus, the two teams are tied, with one ex-Cub each.

And there's still more to the story. You see, contrary to popular belief, the legendary "ex-Cub factor" does not doom that World Series team with the most ex-Cu…

Islamic storm troopers closing churches

The Rev. Mike Zamzow sent me this link to a post onDhimmi Watch (a sub-blog of Jihad Watch) on the current wave of persecution against Christians in Indonesia.

Radical Islamic groups are being aided, in many cases, by local governments and police forces in closing Christian churches. It's time for we in the West to not only pray, but to cry foul just as loudly as we can.

Carnival time!

The latest edition of the Lutheran Carnival is up at Be Strong in the Grace!

Anne Rice has become a Christian

Cub fans and the Series: A sentiment well stated

Yes, this is indeed pretty much how Cub fans feel about the World Series.

Except, of course, that we want to see the Astros clean the Sox's clockses.


White Sox 5, Astros 3, Game One.

Yes, but...

Pastor Paul McCain's recent article on the alleged "aversion to sanctification" among Lutherans these days needs to be responded to.

Pastor McCain and I have exchanged emails over this post. I am fairly confident that we have succeeded in talking completely past each other in that exchange. As it happens, a few years ago I had a dialog with the author of the article to which he refers, Professor Kurt Marquart, on precisely this point at one of the ACL conferences in suburban Chicago. I think we had a slightly more satisfactory outcome to our conversation, though I would very much like to follow up with him.

I should say, first, that I had the privilege of briefly being the pastor of one of the villains of the Seminex saga, Dr. Robert Bertram.

He was no antinomian. He and I stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the struggle against the acceptance of homosexuality in the ELCA, and especially in the Missouri-Kansas Synod. He had a healthy concept of the fundamental fact that one who h…

The National League...

...has a cheese champion.

Another wild card team, which got hot at the right time, but wasn't good enough in the best test- the regular season- to win its own division, is going to the "World Series."

Here's rooting for another morally vacant "world championship" for baseball this year.

"Twenty-five men in"

The headline on one of the Chicago Tribune's stories this morning said it all: "Twenty-five Men In." As opposed to "Eight Men Out," you see.

The White Sox are going to the World Series.

Congratulations. There, I said it.

This is a hard day to be a Cubs fan. It's much harder this time than it was the last time the Sox won the American League pennant, in 1959. Nobody had any expectations for the Cubs back then, and it wasn't a mere two years after the Cubs came within five outs of doing what the Sox did last night- and failed.

I wonder if the Cubs' front office realizes the urgency of the situation, the depths of the humiliation. Only two years ago, we were almost there. Instead of replacing Sammy Sosa and hanging on to Moises Alou, Cubs GM Jim Hendry got rid of both, inadequately replaced perhaps one of them- and failed to even address our glaring need for a closer.

Sure, we've been hit with an unbelievable series of injuries to key players two years …

Vlad the Inhaler?

"The sky's temperature is falling!'

Steven Milloy gives us an update on his particular fascination, "Junk Science-" this time, the hysteria about the supposedly melting arctic ice cap (which doesn't happen to have any real evidence to support it).

When political correctness trumps principle

The ***A's Lutheran School of Theology at Chicagoappears to have a strange concept of "peacemaking."

It also seems a tad selective in its opposition to racism.

While we're at it, perhaps it's time to re-think our use of Wheat Ridge seals at Christmas time.

HT to the Rev. Mike Zamzow.

Good post

And so it goes

By no means.

Newt might do't

By the way...

The White House Press Office reports that claims by Islamic sources- cited by this blog here, and reported by three different British newspapers- that President Bush claimed that God had told him to invade Iraq are "nonsense."

A Christian Halloween

Well, it's that time of year again. Soon we'll be bombarded with moralistic pontifications from Christians (including Lutherans) deploring Halloween and all its aspects- witches, ghosts, goblins, jack o' lanterns, and all the rest.

FIddlesticks. As it happens, the Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston, said in his daily "Memorial Moments" devotional today exactly what I've always believed about Halloween- and I have more than a strong hunch, based on what he wrote on the subject of the supernatural, that Martin Luther would have agreed with it.

I don't think Dr. Murray would mind my sharing this with you. His excellent, orthodox, and very helpful daily devotions can be sent to your inbox, too, if you drop him a line at smurray at mlchouston dot org. Or you can read them every day by going here.

Anyway, here's what Dr. Murray has to say on the subject of Halloween. Again, I can just see Dr. Luther nodding his head:

It was a d…

Gene Veith likes Disney's "Lion"

Gene Edward Veith has seen a screening of Disney's version of C.S. Lewis'sThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, due for release in December... and likes what he saw.

No rules, Britannia ?

I never knew that about fig leaves!

Al Quaeda's take on Vietnam and Iraq

One of the more irritatingly- and patently- silly things about the contemporary "peace movement" is their bizarre comparison between Vietnam and Iraq. At the present level of casualties, they'll approach those we experienced in the Vietnam conflict sometime in the next century. And this "quagmire," of course, has not yet lasted five years.

It seems, though, that al Quaeda sees some potential similarities- and they are instructive, to say the least.

Cranach -- The blog of Gene Edward Veith

The Cranach Institute, whose director, Gene Edward Veith, is one of the most compelling and significant voices on the interface between the Faith and culture we have in this country, has given birth to a blog.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Dr. Veith! It is the richer for your joining it.

Also, thanks to David Yow for the reminder! The debut had somehow slipped my mind!

Lutheran Carnival VIII

Lutheran Carnival VIII has debuted at Full Throttle and Empty Gas Tank.

Go fire a few shots across your synapses!

Merkel to become German chancellor

Party sources report that even though Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats will get a majority of the seats in the new coalition government, Christian Democrat Angela Merkel will become Germany's new chancellor.

Which is only fitting, considering that the German voters gave her party the most votes in the recent election- thus repudiating Schroeder's leadership.

Pretty good for a woman whom the German press said had suffered a "devasating personal defeat" for not having won the election outright.

Zorn nails it

When I was nine, the White Sox won the pennant. The city Fire Commissioner- like all of Chicago's political leadership, a Sox fan- set off the air raid sirens. And like all true Cub fans, I was miserable.

Against my better instincts, and at my dad's instigation ("They're a Chicago team, after all"), I rooted for the Pale Hose in their unsuccessful tilt with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1959 World Series.

Never again. Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune explains why.

Civilization's last hope triumphs in 18 innings

When my wife Denise was a girl, she and her mother used to attend Iowa Oaks Triple-A games routinely. Their home became the home away from home for a variety of future major leaguers.

One was Tony LaRussa, manager of the St. Louis Dirty Birds. Possibly her favorite, though, was Phil Garner, currently manager of the Houston Astros. Since our Cubs didn't make the playoffs, and given the emergency posed by the prospect of a White Sox- Cardinals World Series, we are compelled to cast aside our antipathy for the wild card and root for the 'Stros.

Tonight they beat Atlanta, 7-6, in 18 innings.

Onward to the NLCS!

That naked wedding guest

Pastor Picard (an excellent preacher) had an interesting take on this week's Gospel lesson, Matthew 22: 1-14.

The traditional exegesis, certainly in Lutheran circles, is that the "wedding garment" which the evicted guest lacked is the righteousness of Christ, bestowed in baptism and apprehended through faith. Pastor Picard disagrees. Despite the King's surprise at unfit guest's lack of a wedding garment, he points out, that surprise is expressed precisely in amazement that others hadn't seen the problem when the guest first tried to gain entrance into the hall. His unfitness isn't something secret, invisible to any eyes but those of the all-seeing King. Moreover, the text, he points out, ends by saying that "many are called, but few are chosen." Yet it is not "many" who are thrown out of the banquet hall. It is only one.

Or One. Everybody else- "good and evil alike-" gets to stay and enjoy the party. And the Greek word translat…