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Showing posts from March, 2013

Christ is risen!

"Awake, My Heart, with Gladness"            by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676
1. Awake, my heart, with gladness,
See what today is done,
Now after gloom and sadness
Comes forth the glorious Sun!
My Savior there was laid
Where our bed must be made
When to the realms of light Our spirit wings its flight.
2. The Foe in triumph shouted
When Christ lay in the tomb,
But, lo, he now is routed,
His boast is turned to gloom.
For Christ again is free;
In glorious victory
He who is strong to save
Has triumphed o'er the grave.
3. This is a sight that gladdens;
What peace it doth impart!
Now nothing ever saddens
The joy within my heart;
No gloom shall ever shake,
No foe shall ever take,
The hope which God's own Son
In love for me hath won.
4.Now hell, it's prince, the devil
Of all their power are shorn;
Now I am safe from evil,
And sin I laugh to scorn.
Grim death with all his might
Cannot my soul affright;
He is a powerless form,
Howe'er he rave and storm.   …

Pro nobis. Pro vobis.*

This alone can show the horror of what lurks in the hearts of the best of us.

This alone can show how desperate God is to embrace even the worst of us.
Here are the Law and the Gospel in all their fullness, reduced to a single image. Christmas and Easter may be more pleasant. But Jesus came for Good Friday. See this for a discussion of why today is the most important day in the Church Year. And here is a sermon I preached at St. Mary's on Good Friday several years ago.

But no sermon could ever be as effective as the sight of God hanging in bloody tatters to clean up our moral messes, so that we could be His children.

You can keep your nice, sterile, pleasant empty crosses. It's the One Who is hanging from the cross that saves us.

*"For us. For you."

Lutheran Satire: Jerry the Contemporary Worship Pediatrician

'Hello, fiscal responsibility, my old friend..."

The most eloquent opponent of President Obama's economic policies may  well be a dead liberal Democrat.

Remember Paul Simon of Illinois- passionate advocate of a balanced budget?

HT: Real Clearr Politics

Just to be clear about this..

Same-sex "marriage," an oxymoron which requires a conflation of apples and oranges in order to be credible as "civil rights issue," isn't one.

It is abortion, which denies the humanity of living members of our species and deprives them of life itself, that is the civil rights issue of our day.

Even the slaves got the law to acknowledge them as two-thirds of a human being.

Further persecution of Amanda Knox by clownish Italian legal system.

The patently innocent Amanda Knox will have to return to Italy to face retrial on a charge of murdering her roommate.

She was initially convicted despite the fact that there was no actual evidence against her. Nor did she have a believable motive. Being an American was apparently enough. An appeals court overturned her conviction, and she came home. But apparently Italy has one of those bizarre legal systems in which the prosecution can appeal the overturning of a conviction, and even an acquittal!

I recently read former FBI profiler John Douglas's new book, in which he details his investigation of the case, his reasons for being absolutely convinced that Knox is innocent,  and the degree to which the Italian judicial system has made itself a laughingstock over the case already.

But apparently they aren't through. And it's inexcusable that this innocent young woman should have to once again face a charge that was baseless to begin with.

HT: Drudge

Why gay "marriage" will probably come to pass- even though it shouldn't

An interesting (and dismaying) truth about the current debate on the oxymoronic innovation called "same-sex marriage:" conservatives, to a considerable extent,  are either quiet and passive, or have gone over to the other side.

Doubtless intimidation is one factor. Chicago and Boston aren't the only places where to publicly oppose same-sex "marriage" risks all sorts of unpleasant consequences, both economic and personal. And then, there's the extreme social liberalism of the media. Hard to have an meaningful debate on an issue when one side controls virtually the entire apparatus by which the other side can make its arguments known. Harder still when to take the politically incorrect position is to be villified and slandered as a hater and a "homophobe."

The Mighty Ad Hominem is a tough opponent to beat when it's advanced in lock-step by so many with louder voices than one's own. That only one side of the issue is being presented to the …

The justification of sinners is not the justification of sin

Jack Kilcrease- one of American Lutheranism's sharpest lay theologians- has a post  over at Theologia Cruciuswhich makes a distinction which is not only simple, but absolutely crucial if one's theology or preaching is going to be truly Christian: the distinction between grace and permission.

The trouble is that liberal churches like the ELCA, as well as many in the so called "Emergent Church" and even all too many in churches that understand how important that distinction is, fail to make it.

This is a vital issue. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer rightly said, "cheap grace-" or antinomianism, or "radical grace," if you prefer- is merely another word for damnation.

The Cyclones are out. Bummer.

On my first night in Iowa back in 1981, I made the mistake of watching a football game between Iowa and Illinois on TV. The announcer was Jim ("I love it! I love it! I love it!") Zabel- from the perspective of a fan of any team playing Iowa, undoubtedly the most obnoxious announcer in history. From that night on, I've added a team to my major college favorites- Northwestern, Illinois, and Northern Illinois. Now I also root for whatever team is playing Iowa.

So being an Iowa resident, it was probably inevitable that I would add yet another favorite: Iowa State, the Hawkeyes' arch rival. I have a soft spot in my heart for Oklahoma, where I have relatives. But after all, one of them (long deceased) actually flunked out of Iowa State, so I don't feel too guilty in giving preference to another Big Twelve team.

Now, I've never been a particular basketball fan (hockey was the winter sport of choice in the Waters household). But when it comes to college basketball, I…



It's the first time in four years!

Who says that you can't teach old Democrats new tricks?

Illinois wins in second-round NCAA game

'The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things..."

If, as rumored, NBC replaces Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon, there is a distinct possibility that Leno will jump to Fox- and, with a half-hour jump on Fallon and David Letterman (local Fox news is an hour earlier than on the other networks) probably clean their clocks in the ratings
After the way NBC treated Conan O'Brien, it would serve them right.

Columnist James S.  Robbins of USAToday writes that the United States is less popular in the Middle East under Barack Obama than it was under George W. Bush.

A survey of 600 American physicians shows that six in 10 plan to retire earlier than they would otherwise because of Obamacare.

My mother always suggested that I might be allergic to exercise. I think she may have been right. But I know that Kasia Beaver is.

Sequester or not, President Obama is using his executive authority to create five new national parks.

The Department of Homeland Security is considering a plan which would include more surveillance of private email and web surfi…

We'll miss you, Brian

The Bears offered star middle linebacker Brian Urlacher $2,000,000 for the coming season.

He considered the offer insulting, and turned them down. The Bears thereupon announced that he would not be back.

He may retire. But he hints that he'd take that $2, 000,000 somewhere else. Trouble is, teams aren't exactly lining up to sign him; his best bet at remaining in the NFL may be as- of all things- a backup.

I understand the move. Urlacher is getting old. He was going to have to be replaced soon anyway, and he takes up an awful lot of salary cap space. Besides, Coach Marc Trestman is going in a new direction, nontraditional for the Monsters of the Midway: he's trying to build a team around offense, rather than defense. The money could help in trying to shore up the team's greatest weakness, its offensive line.

But in the short term it's going to hurt. I had fantasies of a Bears run at a Super Bowl next year with Trestman at the helm. Now, I think it's going to take…

"This baby is big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus stop.”

A Philadelphia aborionist is on trial for killing babies.

What's surprising about an abortionist killing babies? Well, they'd already been born.*

The practice of inducing labor before a fetus is viable,  delivering the child, and then simply ignoring it and letting it die is common. But actively killing viable infants after they've already been born by severing their spinal cords crosses a line even for most "pro-choice" folks.

We will learn a great deal about how far gone this society really is from the disposition of this case.

HT: Drudge

*WARNING: The link leads to a page on which pictures of some of those babies appear. They're pretty disgusting.

Before you ever take PETA seriously again...

This man is one heartbeat from the presidency

I wonder whether Gabby Giffords knows that she was "shot and mortally wounded...."

We tried to warn you, people. In fact, you already had four years of this stuff.

HT: Drudge

The NHL's two best teams play Wednesday night

A preview of the Western Conference Finals?

ADDENDUM: I hope it wasn't a preview! Ducks 4, Hawks 2. The Hawks have two more wins than does Anaheim, but otherwise their records are identical.

'Orthodoxy vs. Opra-doxy'

Yesterday I paged through Fr. Andrew Greeley's The Making of the Pope, 2005. Actually, I read about half of it. I'd read his The Making of the Popes, 1978 back when it was still recent news, and was fascinated. The sequel? Not so much.

There are a few "insider" revelations from cardinals who apparently broke their oath of secrecy about the 2005 conclave. And perhaps that conclave was simply less interesting than the ones back in 1978. But the sequel is more a defense of the dubious principle that the real problem Catholicism- and Christianity- has in this post-Christian age is not that it is operating in a post-Christian ages, but that it's not changing with the times- or at least not sensitive enough to them.

Fr. Greeley is convinced that the problem his church faces is that the Catholic magisterium (teaching authority) is not listening to the laity. He goes to great pains to refrain from taking sides (except by broad implication) on issues like birth control, …

is the First Amendment unconstitutional?

A Federal court judge has ruled a Missouri law exempting conscientious objectors from paying for birth control for their employees unconstitutional, because it violates the provisions of Obamacare.

That the provision requiring providers to violate their religious beliefs in order to pay for employees' birth control itself is in blatant violation of the First Amendment seems not to matter.

C'est la vie. Unless the Supreme Court completely loses all sense of what the Constitution actually says (as opposed to what the justices would like it to say), that provision of Obamacare is going to be thrown out regardless of the narrow point on which the Missouri ruling was made (namely, that Federal law supersedes state law).

The contortions the Left goes through on this and similar issues are truly amazing. Any way you look at them, they come down to insisting that the First Amendment is unconstitutional.

HT: Drudge

It would explain his positions on abortion and same-sex "marriage..."

Once in a while every blogger comes across an item which severely taxes one's self-discipline.

I'm tempted by this story to turn to the Dark Side. But other than the headline on this entry, I am going to resist.

Barack Obama may be on the wrong side of several issues with serious spiritual implications, but he is not Satan. He's not even the Antichrist.

Sorry. But on the other hand, I hate to think of what the Birthers are going to do with this...

HT: Drudge

And while on the subject of St. Patrick and Ireland...

I've blogged the folk song Henry Joy, about my ancestor, United Irish patriot and martyr Henry Joy McCracken, before. A wealthy Presbyterian from Belfast, he was one of the first members of the United Irishmen, and at the last moment was pressed into service as the commander of the rebel forces in Ulster during Wolfe Tone's rebellion in 1798. He was captured and hanged by the English. I am descended from his illegitimate daughter.

Anyway, here's another folk song about him:

And here's a far less martial Irish folk tune, a haunting melody I first heard while watching John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man. It's become one of my favorites.

And finally, here's another Irish folk song about the Rising of 1798, this time from the south of Ireland. This was, in fact, John F. Kennedy's favorite Irish song: The Boys of Wexford.

Faith, and it's time to examine St. Paddy's shamrock analogy

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.

Let's get one thing straight

It's well worth your time to take a trip over to The Brothers of John the Steadfastto read a post by Pr. Mark Schroeder that makes a point the media- and our brothers and sisters of the Roman persuasion- need to be reminded of over the next three years as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation: we Lutherans weren't the ones who divided the Western Church.

We didn't quit the Roman communion. We were tossed out on our ears. And besides, the Church isn't defined by allegience to the Pope, as Rome claims. It's defined by allegience to the pure, biblical Gospel, which Rome had compromised.

Faithfulness to Jesus, not to the papacy, is the test. And it's they, not we, who picked a different team captain.

When is an oath of secrecy not an oath of secrecy?

Some interesting thoughts on the recently-concluded conclave- and the news coverage thereof- over at Get Religion.

According to anonymous sources- who by definition had to be cardinals who had taken an oath of secrecy with regard to what went on in the conclave- the candidate I thought would win, Angelo Cardinal Scola, wasn't elected precisely for the reason that I thought he would be: he's Italian. Apparently the Vatican corruption scandal pretty much disqualied all the curial cardinals, and especially the Italians- even those like Cardinal Scola, who are generally regarded as reformers and "outsiders."

Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press put together a ballot-by-ballot account of the conclave based on interviews with cardinals she specifically named. Back in "the Year of the Three Popes-" 1978- two different conclaves had to be held when Pope John Paul I suddenly died a little over a month into his reign. American author and sociologist Fr. Andrew Greele…

Pope Francis and the Two Kingdoms

My brother-in-law, the Rev. Ken Hahn, pointed out recently that it's primarily in the Kingdom of the Left Hand (the arena of laws, rules, government and compulsion) that the election of Pope Francis is such good news for we who follow the Reformation (which, in our view, represents the authentic teaching of Jesus and His apostles- so much so that, unlike Rome, we regard their teachings as uniquely authoritative, to a degree greater even than those of the wise and pious teachers who followed them).

We have many serious differences with the new Pope (as with his predecessors going back quite a way) on the most important subject of all. At a time in church history remarkably like this one, Jesus, according to legend, told the new pope's namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, to "Go and repair my Church."  But the Church consists of individuals, each of whom God loves so dearly that, as St. Augustine observed, He would have become Man and endured the same cross if only one o…

Habent papa!*

*"They have a pope!"

This time, he is a dark horse.

Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is now Pope Francis I.  According to an unnamed cardinal, he was the runner-up to Pope Benedict XVI at the last conclave, and in fact began the conclave in very close contention for the lead before making an emotional appeal to his fellow cardinals not to vote for him..

At a time at which Latin America is becoming an increasingly large and important segment of world Catholicism-fully 40% of the world's Catholics live there- the election of a pope from Argentina should in some ways not be a surprise  And as is often the case in such matters, the logic of electing specifically Jorge Bergoglio seems clear after the fact. So does the reasoning behind his choice of name.

The new pope is both a strong manager and a firm confessor of Christian teaching in the face of the Argentinian government's embrace of same-sex "marriage." The curia has reportedly been r…

The conclave begins

Very soon- it may have happened already- the College of Cardinals will file into the Sistine Chapel chanting the ancient hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus, and begin the process of electing a successor to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The  Master of the Papal Liturgical Celebrations, Fr. Guido Marini, will intone the words, "Extra omnes!" ( "Everybody out!") in Latin, and the doors of the Sistine Chapel will be closed and locked (the word "conclave" is from the Latin for "with a key"), to be opened again only after a new pope has been elected. The 115 cardinals will be sworn to secrecy, though in the past enough details of such elections have leaked out to form the subject matter of books.

As was the case when Pope Benedict was elected, the traditional options of election by acclaimation and by committee are excluded. Only the ordinary process of election by secret ballot is permitted. In principle, any baptized Catholic male may be elected; as a prac…

Time to let Karzai go it alone

The mental stability of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has always been a matter of some controversy.

And now this.

Make no mistake: the U.S. had no alternative but to fight the war in Afghanistan. We had to get rid of the Taliban government, which sheltered bin Laden and provided a sanctuary for al Quaeda and other such groups. And once the Taliban was deposed, to allow it back into power would have undone everything we accomplished.

But you can't help people who won't be helped. We learned that lesson much later and much more painfully in Vietnam. President Obama- who, by the way, supported the Afghan war all along (as did Vice-President Biden, despite his fib in the debate with Paul Ryan) is right: we need to get out as soon as is practical.

HT: Drudge

Scala strengthens his position as papal favorite

Angelo Cardinal Scola, the archbishop of Milan (and the guy I personally think will be the next pope) has solidified his position over at Paddy Power. He's now 2-1 to be the next to sit on the throne Peter never sat on.

Peter Cardinal Turkson of Ghana, whom I personally hope will be the next pope (we pusillanimous white Western Christians could use some inspiration from dynamic and aggressive African Christianity), is now 4-1. 

The Camerlengo of the Catholic church, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone (who is not my favorite candidate: see the current National Review for reasons why his dealings with Cuba as Vatican Secretary of State raise questions) is 5-1.

Odilo Cardinal Scherer of Brazil is 7-1, and Marc Cardinal Ouelette of Canada is 10-1.

But remember: as the Vatican proverb goes, "He who goes into the conclave as pope comes out as a cardinal."

Conclave begins Tuesday; Scola now the favorite

The College of Cardinals (not Louisville; the other one) will convene to elect a new pope on Tuesday. Watch this blog for further details.

At the moment, Angelo Cardinal Scola, the archbishop of Milan, is the favorite over at Paddy Power, at 3-1. I believe this is the first time that Peter Cardinal Turkson of Ghana has been displaced as the favorite. Cardinal Turkson is now second, at 7-2.

Tarciso Cardinal Bertone,Camerlengo and former Vatican Secretary of State, is third at 9-2.  Odilo Cardinal Scherer of Brazil is next at 8-1, and Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouelette- an early favorite- has dropped to fifth at 10-1.

Last time, of course, the favorite won. But in the conclave before that, the cardinals defied centuries of tradition by electing a non-Italian, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, as Pope John Paul II. Less than a year earlier they had elected a Venetian who had not been seen as one of the favorites,  Cardinal Albino Luciani of Venice, as John Paul I.

There is a saying that "he who …

Right on, John!

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz)- a war hero to whom the nation should be triply grateful for his martial heroism, for his years of faithful service in Washington and as the man who tried to save us from Barack Obama, in 2008- has once again earned the country's gratitude for saying out loud what even Republicans with a clue have been fearing to say: that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) Sen Ted Cruz (R-Tex), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich) and the other far-Right "young guns" of the GOP are "wacko birds."

Both parties have lurched far to the extremes since 2008. The Democrats, in nominating Obama- the leftmost president in American history, despite attempts by the servile media to portray him as a "moderate" of some kind- deviated first, completing the collapse into extremism begun with the nomination of Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) in 1972. But since Mr. Obama's election four and a half years ago, the Republicans have increasingly become a party so monomaniacally inte…

For what it's worth, Comet PANSTARRS has arrived

As of last night, Comet PANSTARRS (left) is visible to us in the Northern Hemisphere.

As it happens, PANSTARRS was the closest it is going to get last night, and will now begin fading. Don't make the mistake I made with Comet McNaught, and wait too long to look for it!

But don't expect it to look like the picture, taken south of the equator several days ago. The elongation of the stars in the picture is a good indication of the length of the exposure necessary to get a picture this good.

Look to the unobstructed west around and very briefly after sunset. You will probably need binoculars, and it will help to be as far as possible from city lights. The comet may be visible-barely- to the naked eye, but magnification will almost certainly be requried to see the tail(s).

Above is a chart of where PANSTARRS will be in coming days. Deo volente, you won't need a chart- or binoculars- to find Comet ISON this November!

Liberals and libel

There is no weapon the Left loves to use quite as much as the ad hominem. And the less true a charge a liberal makes against a conservative is, the more loudly and indignantly it will be shouted.

Support traditional marriage, and you're a "homophobe." Support the enforcement of the law, and you're a "fascist" (these days Rahm Emanuel and the other enemies of free speech among the legions of political correctness have a far better claim to that label).

And be a conservative of any kind, and you're automatically a "racist."

Peter Berkowicz herein examines that last libel in particular.

HT: Real Clear Politics


What sequester?

The word "FREEDOM" is one of the vanity license plates now banned in Washington, D.C.

Apparently the Orlando Sentinelhasn't gotten the message that the photos of Trayvon Martin I disavowed the other day are of another Trayvon Martin.

Speaking of Trayvon Martin, the young woman who told police that she had been talking to Martin on the telepone just before he was killed, that he had told her that he was "scared" because a strange man had been following him,  and that she had missed his funeral because she was hospitalized apparently lied about the latter. There are no records of her hospitalization.

In the rapidly fluctuating odds on the identithy of the next pope, Cardinal Turkson leads today at 5-2.

The two main Italian contenders, Cardinal Scola and Cardinal Bertone, come next at 7-2. Cardinal Ouellet is next at 7-2 each.

HT: Drudge, Paddy Power

Also Sprach Oma

Duck, Marvin!

While we're keeping an eye out for Comets Lemmon (shouldn't they call it "Comet Lime," in view of its color?), PANSTARRS, and ISON here on Earth, Marvin the Martian has other worries.

A newly-discovered comet- C/2013-A1- may well hit Mars in October of next year.

Contrary to the scare-mongers, there was never much of a chance that PANSTARRS- which will come closest to Earth on Tuesday- would hit us.

But scoffing aside, this is a sobering reminder that comets do hit planets- remember Shoemaker-Levy 9?- and that Earth is actually a bigger target than Mars is.

Just because the cries of "Wolf!" have been wolf-less of late doesn't mean that it still might not happen again some day. Ask the dinosaurs what happened last time.

HT: Drudge

Jeb hints 2016 run for White House

Jeb Bush- the former Florida governor and the Bush who should have run for president in 2000- has dropped a hint that he might well run for the office in 2016.

He'd be gambling that the American people would look past an unpopular last name to the man, who is pretty impressive.

With the demise of Jon Huntsman as a serious candidate (his decision to come out for same-sex "marriage" has marginalized him beyond redemption in the eyes of most of the people who would have been his potential supporters), Jeb is probably the best-qualified Republican available. And his positions dovetail with mine quite nicely- more so, in fact, than any candidate I can remember off hand.

He said he wasn't going to declare his candidacy yet, and I'm not going to endorse him yet. But even this early, I'm leaning that way. "The smart Bush" may be just what the country is ready for after four years of the all-sizzle, no steak incumbent.

He seems to me right now to be the…

The odds, "sede vacante*

Scola, 3-1; Turkson, 3-1; Bertone, 4-1; Oulette, 8-1.

A couple of other Italians- Ravasi and Bagnasco- are moving up, at 10-1.

Scola's ascension to co-leader, Bertone's leap into the top three, and the sudde prominence of Ravasi and Bagnosco reinforce my hunch that after two consecutive non-Italian popes, the College of Cardinals will be unlikely to elect a third.

Incidentally, you don't usually get an American as high as 25-1, but according to Paddy Power that's where Boston's Capuchin Archbishop, Sean O'Malley, stands right now.

The College of Cardinals will meet Monday to deal with administrative matters (they collectively govern the church as the "General Congregation" until a new pope is chosen). No word yet on when the conclave will begin.

*"The chair being vacant."

HT: Paddy Power

This is NOT the same Trayvon Martin as the one George Zimmerman killed!

The picture above (and several similar ones) were taken from the Facebook page of somebody named Trayvon Martin.

But NOT the Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman killed.

The pictures have been circulated widely all over the internet, and I have used them in this blog. I have no idea whether the confusion between the two Trayvon Martins was  was an honest mistake or not. Yes, I, too, am frustrated by the complicity of the media in the deceit that Trayvon Martin was a "child" (he was seventeen years old), or some kind of model citizen (he had a number of scrapes with authority which do not paint him in a favorable light, but which have been largely ignored). But that does not justify those who are concerned about that in manufacturing evidence of their own.

I, too, amd frustrated by those pictures of Martin as a twelve year-old which are incessantly run by the media, and by the apparent decision by many in the media and outside them that because Martin was African-American and Geo…