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Showing posts from October, 2010

The people in the attic

This Reformation Day (well, All Saints' by now) might be a good time to respond to David Mills' thoughtful reflection on C.S. Lewis's image of the Church Catholic as a house with many rooms.

The rooms in Lewis's analogy are the various Christian denominations. Mr. Mills is a Roman Catholic, you see. Hence his question: "What is the house?"

Unsurprisingly, his answer is that the house proper is the (Roman) Catholic church. The Protestant denominations, he suggests, are not only not rooms in the house, but properly speaking are not a part of the house at all. To be sure, it is not his intention to deny us non-Roman Western Christians some sort of very real and significant relationship to the house (for the moment, Eastern Orthodoxy lies outside the scope of the metaphor). Mills puts it this way:

For the Catholic, one of the house’s main rules is that you have to be a Catholic to live there. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is not a belief required in the Cathol…

Yes, Sunday is Reformation Day. And it's also Halloween.

Every year at this time, conservative Christians wax silly on the subject of Halloween.

Here's a good article on why it's OK for Christians to celebrate the holiday.

Several years ago the redoubtable Rev. Scott Murray wrote this on the subject:
It was a dramatic struggle on the day that Christ died. Death, hell, Law, and Satan all did their worst. They plunged Him into death. But the grasp upon the invincible Son of God was shattered, because death and all enemies could not hold Him. He is victor by right over our most implacable enemies. His life consumes death, so that death is a shattered shell.

We Christians can mock death and laugh at our enemies because the triumph of Christ so completely defeats them. This is the basis for the Christian celebration of Halloween. We can mock and make fun of death, hell, and Satan by the foolish capering of Halloween, because they have no power to terrify or threaten us Christians. In fact, the mockery of Halloween is appropriate only for Ch…

On the Left, eisegesis saves

Those of us who have been to seminary understand (at least in principle) the distinction betweeen exegesis (interpreting a text) and eisegesis (reading one's own ideas into a text in such a manner as to make it say what you want it to).

The Left- theological as well as political- has always been very good at eisegeting biblical text. Here are some famous examples.

HT: Real Clear Religion

Not just scary.


You can't scare the hell out of people. As necessary as the Law in its Second Use is, Christians are made by the Gospel, not by the Law; by gratitude, not by fear. "Christians" made otherwise will always, like the girl in the story, be those who know Jesus "in their heads, but not in their hearts."

The works-righteousness of the Halloween "hell houses" and their perversion of the Gospel is bad enough. But their slander of Jesus by effectively making the Savior into a boogey man is sheer blasphemy.

And make no mistake: that is exactly what these abominations do.

HT: Real Clear Religion

The downside to next Tuesday's cleansing

An endangered species may be further endangered.

It's a species I used to be a member of, until I became convinced that it was untenable to remain one.

HT: Real Clear Religion

Jesse Jr. won't run

Crippled by his ties to impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and scandals of his own, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. has decided against running for mayor of Chicago in the Spring.

The decision is seen as a boost for former Obama chief of staff Rahn Emanuel.

HT: Drudge

Aziz sentenced to hang

Tariq Aziz, former Iraqi deputy premier and the Christian spokesman for the late and unlamented Saddam Hussein who helped put a human face on that monster, has been sentenced to hang for crimes against humanity.

The specific crimes have to do with persecution of the Shi'ites.

HT: Drudge

Watson has still been in Afghanistan, I perceive

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle recorded in his story "A Study in Scarlet" that when Sherlock Holmes met Dr. John Watson on that fateful day in 1887, the famous detective's first words to the recently discharged veteran of the Second Anglo-Afghan War were, "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive."

Last night, when the PBS series Masterpiece debuted Sherlock- a 21st Century updating of the Holmes-Watson collaboration- I saw it coming from the very first scene, which portrayed the character playing Watson in contemporary combat.

Sure enough. Holmes to Watson: "Iraq or Afghanistan?" "Afghanistan," Watson replied.

"A Study in Pink," as the first episode was called, was clever, well-written, and generally fun. This Holmes is admittedly a bit edgier than we're used to. For one thing, the references to homosexuality (doubtless a reference not only to the great detective's antipathy toward women but to Holmes's claim of a relationshi…

And while we're on the subject of treason...

...wingnut congressional candidate Stephen Broder's statement that he wouldn't rule out the violent overthrow of the government if the elections don't produce change comes pretty close to advocating treason as defined by Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution:Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Just sayin'.

HT: Drudge

The Wikileaks publication of classified military information... espionage. To the extent that American citizens are implicated in it, it is treason.

It is at least as great a scandal as anything the leaks have revealed about American policy, and those responsible need to be held accountable before the law.

There is no justification, journalistic or otherwise, for putting the lives of American or allied personnel in danger by revealing classified information. None.

No scoop is worth that. The espionage laws need to be applied here. And where there is involvement by American citizens, if they aren't "adhering to (the United States') enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort" by helping to reveal classified information to the enemy in time of war, Bill Clinton is a Benedictine monk.

HT: Drudge

Prager is right. Reagan was wrong.

Ronald Reagan's wholly regrettable epitaph reads, "I know in my heart that man is good."

Strange epitaph for a conservative, that. Strange epitaph for a Christian, too (did Jesus die to save us from the consequences of our own common wickedness, or from bad hair days?). One of the commentators on PBS's recently aired God in America
spoke of original sin as if it were some quaint relic from the theological past, unknown to modern Christians. In fact, it is not only a basic dogma of the Faith, but a concept without which a great deal of Western philosophical and political thought would be incoherent.

It's especially refreshing, in a society which buys so heavily into the lie that human nature is essentially good, to read a knowledgable Jew, columnist Dennis Prager, point out that while many Jews believe that culturally popular lie, Judaism as such rejects it.

As does anyone with any real insight about human nature- or anyone with actual experience of the most self…


Since it is unacceptable for Juan Williams to confess a personal uneasiness after 9/11 in flying on the same airplane with costumed Muslims, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard wants to know whether Nina Totenberg- an NPR news analyst who frequently expresses her personal left-of-center political opinions on the air- will be the next to be fired.

Don't hold your breath. It's the same as with the media generally: one standard for the conservatives, and another for liberals.

Except, of course, the funny thing, which only those who have watched Williams argue with the other commentators on FOX News probably even realize: Williams isn't all that conservative.

Certainly not like Totenberg is liberal.

HT: Real Clear Politics

ADDENDUM: Here's Mollie Ziegler Hemingway on Williams, Totenberg and the whole mess.

HT: Real Clear Religion

Ditka and Paterno say that to make football safer, facemasks should be banned!

It's counter-intuitive, to say the least. But it's an interesting thought: no lesser football personages than Mike Ditka and Joe Paterno think that dirty hits could be discouraged, and net player safety actually improved, by getting rid of facemasks.

The theory is that if you have to look out for the welfare of your own mug, you are going to be a bit less cavalier about what you do to somebody else's. Football players used to play a pretty fair version of the game without nearly so much armor. Rugby and Aussie Rules football players do the same today.

Does all the protection make players reckless? What do you think?

Mass confusion: Greeley's new book reports Chicago Catholics unclear on the concept

Father Andrew Greeley is a talented novelist and the author of the only sermon I have ever stolen. I have to admit, though, that his take on religion in America is one I regard as so much leprechaun fairy dust.

Greeley's new book, Chicago Catholics and the Struggles Within Their Church, reports with apparent sympathy that Catholics in our mutual home town "lack enthusiasm" for the Mass.


Earth to Chicago Catholics: Christians don't gather on Sunday morning to be entertained. We gather to encounter Christ. Do you really lack enthusiasm for encountering Christ? And if so, what does that say about your Catholicism? Your Christianity?

And no. We do not encounter Him in some subjective, internal emotionalism. We encounter Him objectively, in Himself- in His full reality and full power. Catholics and Lutherans alike believe- as Scripture teaches- that His body and blood are truly present in the Eucharist, and that He is present in His proclaimed Word as well- this who…


"The football" is a case containing the codes required to launch America's nuclear weapons, and it was carried by a military officer wherever the President of the United States goes.

Inside it is a card containing the actual codes, and called "the biscuit." And according to former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton, Bill Clinton lost the biscuit for several months while he was president.

Ret. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Patterson also reported the incident in a book published seven years ago. Patterson, however, dated it in 1998, whereas Shelton reports that it took place in 2000.

It seems that the very morning that the Monica Lewinski story broke, Shelton- then the officer in charge of the football- routinely requested "the biscuit" (then in Clinton's personal possession for some reason) so that it could be switched for a card containing updated codes.

Clinton apparently had misplaced it somewhere in the residence.

This- as Gen. Shelton po…

Juan Williams is only human

Juan Williams of Fox News (and formerly of NPR), whom the latter has fired for saying that he gets nervous when he sees people in Muslim garb on an airplane, may be guilty of religious prejudice- just as all of us, regardless of color, are guilty of some degree of racial prejudice.

Even decent people are not perfect. The thing to do about the prejudice which is regrettably a part of every human being is to be sensitive to that part of ourselves, to identify it, and to fight it. Owning up to it is an act more worthy of praise than of condemnation.

That is nothing other than what Williams did. In fact, the commentator added to the very statement for which he was fired that Bill O'Reilly is wrong for blaming Muslims, rather than simply Muslim extremists, for anti-Western terrorism. All-in-all, it was a balanced and reasonable statement in which Williams did nothing worse than to confess to a certain amount of human weakness.

Williams should not have been fired. And if he's not reins…

A grave situation

The story is told of a Sunday School class in which the children were asked to draw a picture of Easter. Amid a depressing number of bunny rabbits distributing eggs there appeared a crayon portrait of an elderly, gray-haired gentleman crawling out of a hole in the ground. The young artist had helpfully titled it, "Moses Rising from the Grave." And it had a caption: "If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter."

Unfortunately, it's not just the kids who are lamentably ignorant on the subject of religion. It's their parents, too. Here's a good article by James Carroll of the Boston Globe on the subject.

And no- the epistles were not the wives of the apostles.

HT: Real Clear Religion

An apology

The other day I did a post on Rush Limbaugh's statement that certain pictures of President Obama made him look demonically possessed. While I did not endorse that assessment, it was still a cheap shot, and the kind of thing we need less of in American politics. I shouldn't have called attention to the statement, much less linked to the pictures.

I've deleted the post.

Stay out of hospitals.

They're full of sick people.

Worse, increasing numbers are full of sick people with superbugs- antibiotic resistant germs which are remarkably hard to cure, and often disfiguring and/or fatal.

These little guys have been around for quite a while, of course. The trouble is that they're not only getting more resistant, but they're increasing both in their capacity for thriving despite conventional treatment and in the number of resistant species out there. Doctors blame patients who insist on getting (futile) antibiotic treatments for viral infections which antibiotics don't treat, anti-bacterial soaps, over-treatment of legitimately bacteriological infections which would go away on their own with drugs which should be reserved for more serious cases,and other foibles of modern health and hygiene for killing off the weaker members of the species, leaving the stronger and harder to kill to bear the next generation

ABOVE: This pretty-looking organism is MSRA-methicillin resis…

Christine O'Donnell, Anne Appelbaum, Clarence Page, elites, and elitism

Anne Appelbaum of the Washington Post is admittedly wordier and more indirect in getting to her point than Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune is. But it's a point that's as silly as it is old. Really, really old.

Every so often some left-of-center scribe will write an item condemning complaints about liberal elitism (whether of the political or the cultural variety) by pointing out that being elite is good. And indeed it is. The problem is that this particular ancient red herring is based upon a confusion of which no college graduate- whether or not the graduate of an elite college- should be guilty: the confusion of the concepts "elite" and "elitist."

The Merriam-Webster On-Line Dictionarydefines the word "elite" as

1 a :singular or plural in construction : the choice part : cream
b :singular or plural in construction : the best of a class
c :singular or plural in construction : the socially superior part of society
d : a group of persons who by v…

Death Wish

Vice-President Joe Biden, the Walking Gaffe, has blurted out that President Obama has asked him to be his running-mate again in 2012.

Biden- who would be a national laughingstock if, like George W. Bush or Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin, he were a Republican- is merely chuckled at indulgently by the same strongly pro-Democratic media which mocks Republicans so mercilessly for saying things far less stupid, far less often.

One thing, in any case, seems certain: President Obama- who is already in deep political trouble- has an apparent death wish were 2012 is concerned. It's hard to understand his willingness to make the same mistake twice and run with Joe Biden a second time any other way.

How do you say "The game's afoot, Watson" in contemporary language?

This Sunday night PBS will premier "Sherlock," a contemporary version of Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson, on Masterpiece Mystery.

The 21st Century version of the detective doesn't smoke a pipe. Instead, he stimulates his thought processes through the use of multiple nicotine patches. Played as "a slightly autistic sociopath-" which seems to me an accurate, if somewhat harsh, characterization of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's detective- this new-fangled version of a cultural icon should be fascinating.

I, for one, plan to tune in.

ADDENDUM: Two things: first, the show will premiere, not on the Sunday following this post, but on October 24.

Secondly, it seems that the answer to the question which forms the title of this post is, "The game's on."

Believe it or not...

Verdi on the Hawks' chances to repeat

I have to endorse this, by Bob Verdi, on the chances of my Blackhawks repeating as Stanley Cup champs.

Ok, so they lost some depth this summer. But they're stronger in goal with Turco and Crawford than they were last year with Niemi and Huet, they're just as good (if not a little better) on defense, and the rookies are capable of picking up most of the slack- if not all of it (Byfuglien had a tremendous playoff, but not all that hot a season- or career- previously).

Diss them all you want. It will just keep them hungry. In the meantime- all hail the champions!

The Bears- somehow- are 4 and 1!

The Ursine Warriors overcame four interceptions by backup quarterback Todd Collins Sunday and beat Carolina 23-6.

Julius Peppers intercepted a pass against his old team, and Matt Forte- who, naturally, I had benched on my fantasy team- rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

I suspect that Caleb Hanie has now moved ahead of Collins as the primary backup to Jay Cutler, who is still recovering from the concussion he suffered last week against the Giants.

Anyway, I'm enjoying this while it lasts.

Bear down!

America's Four Gods is more confused than enlightening

Scholars who study Americans and religion do not, as a rule "get" the latter. Whether it's Kevin Phillips railing against the "American Taliban" he imagines in a conservative Christianity of which he has little understanding, or Gallup asking whether those being polled see the Bible as the "literal" or "inspired" Word of God (apparently unaware that the former is a subset of the latter, rather than an opposite; θεόπνευστος- the word in 2 Timothy 3:16 usually translated as "inspired by God-" literally means "God-breathed,")it's often hard to see what formal studies of American attitudes toward spiritual matters really tell us because the questions they are asked are so completely skewed.

Well, it's happened again. Paul Froese and Christopher Bader of Baylor University have written a volume entitled America's Four Gods, purporting to set before us the four dominent views of the Deity in which Americans believe. B…

Gustavus offers students guide to the etiquette of dormitory sex

Gustavus Adolphus College, an institution of the ELCA (naturally), is offering advice to incoming students on the proper etiquette when having sex in the dormitory.

There is, of course, nothing about this which is surprising to anyone paying attention to sexual mores in the nation's largest nominally Lutheran body. But comparatively few ELCA laypeople pay attention- which is, of course, how situations such as this (and the ELCA's equation of homosexual sodomy with martial intercourse) manage to happen.

It wasn't worth it

The price for which the Washington Post bought Newsweek- which was a news magazine before it was a left-wing broadside- has been revealed: one dollar.

HT: Drudge

U.S. out-of-wedlock births top 40%

More than 40 per cent of American children are now born out of wedlock.

The same explosion of out-of-wedlock births is evident all over the Western world. Interestingly- and contrary to some claims- this is not the case world-wide. In Japan, for example, only two percent of children are born out of wedlock.

The increased acceptance of unmarried co-habitation- an arrangement which, despite the publicity given to a single (but disproportionately publicized) study- which, contradicts multiple studies done all over the world over a period of many years (and contrary to the customary rationalization) not only decreases the odds that a couple will ever marry, but drastically increases the chance that the couple, if it eventually marries, will divorce- has led to an increasing social acceptance of childbearing by unmarried women in the United States. Tragically, children born under such conditions- and their mothers- are almost invariably doomed to lives of extreme poverty and privation.


The Dutch assault on free speech

The Netherlands are even farther along the road to societal disintegration than the rest of the West. Not only is physican-assisted suicide legal there, but so is "marriage" between any number and combination of individuals of whatever genders.

The Dutch are in the news at the present moment, however, because- like a number of putative Western democracies, including Canada- they are unclear on the concept of free speech. An admittedly marginal Dutch right-winger is on trial for "hate speech-" his crime being to question the wisdom of Holland's open borders policy.

Sorry, guys. We don't have a mere cultural difference here. Nations like Holland- and even Canada- are only partially free societies as long as speech which is not demonstrably slanderous is criminalized.

You cannot have laws against "hate speech-" even speech far more repugnant than that which has occasioned the current Dutch trial- and claim to be a free society. The Dutch case illustrate…

GOP headed for an historic landslide next month?

The polls are showing the Republicans with the best numbers on the generic ballot in their history.

The Real Clear Politics average has the Republicans up by 5.6 per cent. Several polls recently have put the GOP lead at close to an astonishing twenty per cent.

The possibility that the GOP may capture control of both houses of Congress- and perhaps by a substantial margin- cannot be discounted. The Obama administration may be in for a tough last two years of its first- and, hopefully, only- term.

HT: Drudge

Jay Cutler's brain getting bounced on the turf sounds a lot like the air going out of a balloon

This, and not the conquerors of the Cowboys and the Packers, is the Bears team I expected this year.

The sight isn't pretty. I sincerely hope that Jay Cutler does not get into the habit of being concussed this season, and that at some point in his career Angelo gets him an offensive line capable of leaving him with a lest some viable gray matter left to retire with.

Neaner, neaner!

I've been working a temp assignment with ridiculous hours this week, and haven't been able to access the internet to acknowledge the Bears' 20-17 victory over the hated Green Bay Packers on Monday night.

Truth, justice and goodness have triumphed.

Bear down!