Daily Archives: 18 Feb 2012

As the Kids Say: Word

via some guy on FB

Political Hypocrisy: Taking it to the Bank

Most Red States Take More Money From Washington Than They Put In. Even as Republicans gripe about deficit spending, their states get 30 cents more federal spending per tax dollar than their Democratic neighbors.

Imagine that. Republicans don’t like poor people getting rich folk’s money, but they’re happy to take as much as they get and more into their own coffers.

As a recent New York Times article documents, even as fiscally conservative lawmakers complain about deficit spending, their constituents don’t want to give up the Social Security checks, Medicare benefits, and earned income tax credits that provide a safety net for the struggling middle class. This gap between political perception and fiscal reality is also reflected in the distribution of tax dollars at the state level: Most politically “red” states are financially in the red when it comes to how much money they receive from Washington compared with what their residents pay in taxes.

Fun. Hypocrisy. Politicians….

Atheism: The New Gay, the Newer Chic Fad

For a while (back in the 90’s) it was considered chic by the ‘in crowd’ to ‘be gay’.  Consequently, there was a raft of Hollywood types who ‘became’ gay for fame and notoriety.  A prime example is, of course, Ann Heche, the erstwhile ‘partner’ of Ellen Degeneris.

Now, though, being an atheist is the path to fame, the new chic.  Be atheist enough (and young enough of course) and you’ll be feted and rewarded, like the atheist girl of Rhode Island who is going to cash in on her ‘belief’.

Soon, a whole lot of celebrities will become atheists or come out as atheists, because it’s chic.  Then, there will be atheist rallies all across the land, hosted by the likes of Hector Avalos and Bart Ehrman, pleading for the right to marry and to be considered ‘normal’ and ‘real people with real rights’.

But alas, like all fads, the atheist fad will run its course.  And then all the folk wanting to be chic will have to turn in another direction, their feigned ‘atheism’ melted away, and their quest to be ‘different’ will take on a new mask and cause- probably vegetarianism…

James Aitken and A Distinguished Panel, on ‘the Torah’

James will be a panelist tomorrow (Sunday) on an Irish Radio talk show

This Sunday Patrick and a panel of historians and theologians will be looking at the history of the Torah and the beginnings of the Hebrew Bible. Who wrote the Torah and when? Maybe more importantly, why was it written? Join us this Sunday as we try to answer these questions.

I hope they post the audio!  James is a brilliant scholar, just top notch.  I’m sure what he has to say will be exceedingly worth hearing.

Homeschooling: It’s Not For Progressives

Dana Goldstein tells you why in an essay in Slate.  She suggests that…

Over the past year, there has been a resurgence of interest in homeschooling—not just the religious fundamentalist variety practiced by Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum, but also in secular, liberal homeschooling like Taylor’s. Think no textbooks, history lessons about progressive social movements, and college-level math for precocious 13-year-olds. Some families implement this vision on their own, while others join cooperatives of like-minded, super-involved parents.

And the heart of the matter?

This overheated hostility toward public schools runs throughout the new literature on liberal homeschooling, and reveals what is so fundamentally illiberal about the trend: It is rooted in distrust of the public sphere, in class privilege, and in the dated presumption that children hail from two-parent families, in which at least one parent can afford (and wants) to take significant time away from paid work in order to manage a process—education—that most parents entrust to the community at-large.

Overheated hostility toward public schools… that sums it up nicely.  Read it all.  And take your complaints to her (or him- who knows.  Dana is one of those names you can’t really tell the gender of its bearer).

Sad News: Hannah Kelley Has Died

You may remember the news of the Pastor’s daughter who was shot while some of the members of the church were playing with a gun in the building.  Sadly, she has died of her injuries.

Authorities say a pastor’s daughter who was accidentally shot in the head in a Florida church has died.  The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says 20-year-old Hannah Kelley died Saturday at a hospital. An autopsy is pending.  Kelley had been hospitalized since Sunday, when she was hit in the head by a bullet at her father’s Grace Connection Church in St. Petersburg.

So sad and especially tragic because so unutterably unnecessary.  I’ll certainly be remembering her family.

Luther’s Last Words

Dr Martin Luther

“Nobody can understand Vergil in his Bucolics and Georgics unless he has first been a shepherd or a farmer for five years.

“Nobody understands Cicero in his letters unless he has been engaged in public affairs of some consequence for twenty years.

“Let nobody suppose that he has tasted the Holy Scriptures sufficiently unless he has ruled over the churches with the prophets for a hundred years. Therefore there is something wonderful, first, about John the Baptist; second, about Christ; third, about the apostles. ‘Lay not your hand on this divine Aeneid, but bow before it, adore its every trace.’

“We are beggars. That is true.”  These were the last thoughts of Dr. Martin Luther on the day before he died.  –  Table Talk

Weather Service Spotter Training

I attended NWS spotter training this morning down in Knoxville and have to say it was quite interesting. Here are some photos in case you’re a weather geek like me.

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Bulletin of the MA Program in Archaeomaterials at Tel Aviv University

With thanks to Yuval Goren for sending it along:

Luther: On Solitude

“The papists and Anabaptists teach: If you wish to know Christ, try to be alone, don’t associate with men, become a separatist. This is plainly diabolical advice which is in conflict with the first and the second table for the Decalogue]. The first table requires faith and fear [of God]. According to the second commandment, this is to be preached and publicly praised before men and is to be discussed among men. One must not flee into a corner. So the second table teaches that one must do good to one’s neighbor.

We ought not to isolate ourselves but enter into companionship with our neighbor. Likewise it [this notion] is in conflict with marriage, economic life, and political existence and is contrary to the life of Christ, who didn’t choose solitude. Christ’s life was very turbulent, for people were always moving about him. He was never alone, except when he prayed. Away with those who say, ‘Be glad to be alone and your heart will be pure.’ ”

Luther: To The Clergy Assembled at Augsburg

I have had to remind and admonish you of all this, dear sirs, because I see how you do not fear God and seek neither contrition nor repentance for your atrociously perverted conduct and do not even have pangs of conscience about it, for God is most deeply angered by this. For since we poor Lutherans have taken wives, you let yourselves imagine that for once you have a little point on which you can lay hold, because you could find nothing else. You thought that you would turn it to your advantage and so abuse and oppress us with it that thereby all your shameful, unchaste, whoring lives, all robbing of monasteries and thieving of endowments, together with all the rubbish of your abominations and perverted, unbishoplike abuses, shame, depravity, injury, and the ruination of the church, all would be concealed, covered up, silenced, and become nice and honored. Thereafter you, as pure and innocent men who never muddied up the water, might dare to assume all power, even above the apostles themselves.

Easy now, dear sirs! See to it that you make no mistakes. Do not say, “Hurrah!” You are not yet over the hill. You have now seen how you can deck yourselves out and adorn yourselves, but you have not yet seen how we can strip the pretty hide off you and picture you in such a way that you will have to spit at yourselves. Only do not brag and be haughty; your case is not as good as you imagine!

[I doubt his audience appreciated his colorful prose].

Martin Luther: On the Papists and their Fear of Marriage

Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk

“Through the papists Satan so defiled it [i.e., marriage] that in his little book on the celibacy of priests Cyprian wrote, ‘If you hear a woman speak, flee from her as if she were a hissing snake.’ That’s the way it is. When one is afraid of whores one must fall into Sodomite depravity, as almost happened to St. Jerome.” –  Table Talk

For Those Busy Episcopalians Who Can’t Be Bothered With A Worship Service…

Ashes to go, for your Ash Wednesday festivities…

For those too busy to go to church on Ash Wednesday, The Rev. Sandra Cosman of St. John’s Episcopal Church will be out standing on Main Street Wednesday, February 22 offering ‘Ashes to Go.’  For two hours, 1 to 3 p.m., Rev. Cosman will stand in her vestments holding a bowl of ashes from the burning of last year’s Palm Sunday palm fronds, offering all faiths a thumbprint of the ash on their forehead. Adminstered to the same spot on the forehead where Christians are baptized, they mark the beginning of the Lenten season.  It reminds us of our humanity and our mortality,” summed up Rev. Cosman who will recite the words “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” when the ashes are applied.

Yes, and it also reminds us of the unwillingness of people to set aside time for worship.  So, instead of making themselves available to God (which is the core purpose of worship), they want God to be available to them, to fit into their oh so busy schedules…  I’ve got a new motto for the Ash crowd:

Ash Wednesday: Another Day I Can’t be Bothered to Worship….

Via Dan Stoddart on G+

Luther: On Unrepentant Atheists

There was mention of a citizen of Wittenberg who was an atheist and who confessed publicly before the town council that he had not received communion for fifteen years. To this Dr. Martin Luther said, “We’ve been sufficiently forbearing with him. After a couple of admonitions I’ll publicly declare that he’s excommunicated and is to be treated like a dog. If in view of this anybody associates with him, let him do so at his own risk. If the unbeliever dies in this condition, let him be buried in the carrion pit like a dog. As an excommunicated person we’ll turn him over to the civil laws.”  –  Luther’s Table Talk

Thirst for Power

The Pope will appoint 22 new cardinals in a lavish ceremony at the Vatican on Saturday, against a backdrop of leaks, back-stabbing and jostling for power in the Holy See.

Apparently the wish-to-be-Cardinals haven’t read a little verse from the New Testament that says

ὁ δὲ μείζων ὑμῶν ἔσται ὑμῶν διάκονος. (Mat 23:11)

Real power comes through servanthood, not position.

The appointments come after a torrid few weeks for the Holy See, with claims of corruption and nepotism, questions over the transparency of the Vatican bank and murky reports of an assassination plot within the next 12 months against Benedict. The leaks and rumour-mongering in the normally staid institution have suggested that a power struggle is going on, most notably between Tarcisio Bertone, 77, the powerful Secretary of State and Vatican no.2, and a cabal of disaffected cardinals.

Oh Vatican, how much you seem to be just like every other splotch of government.

Remembering Luther on the Anniversary of his Death

Luther's death mask

Martin Luther died on the 18th of February, 1546.  So, since it’s the anniversary of that event, a number of posts today will be in remembrance of Luther.  Snippets from his voluminous works, portraits, etc.

In spite of his absolutely pagan views on the Lord’s Supper, Luther’s influence and importance are undeniable.  We’re still reading him 500 years after he died!  There are very few books around these days that will still be read 500 years from now.  And that means something.