Archive for Immaterial Witness

False-ish witness

Eyebrows we have raised on high:

A Vatican office has acknowledged blurring portions of a letter written by Benedict XVI regarding Pope Francis’ philosophical and theological formation, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The Secretariat for Communications released the photo March 12 along with a press release announcing a “personal letter of Benedict XVI on his continuity with the pontificate of Pope Francis.”

The AP’s Nicole Winfield wrote March 14 that the Vatican has admitted “that it altered a photo sent to the media of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis. The manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards.”

Winfield added that “The Vatican admitted Thursday [sic] that it blurred the two final lines of the first page … The Vatican didn’t explain why it blurred the lines other than to say it never intended for the full letter to be released. In fact, the entire second page of the letter is covered in the photo by a stack of books, with just Benedict’s tiny signature showing, to prove its authenticity.”

So what was it the Holy See would rather you not see? Benedict, it seems, had received an eleven-volume set of The Theology of Pope Francis, about which he said some kind words — but:

“I do not feel that I can write a brief and dense theological page about them because for my whole life it has always been clear that I would write and express myself only on books that I had also truly read. Unfortunately, even if only for physical reasons, I am not able to read the eleven little volumes in the near future, all the more so in that I am under other obligations to which I have already agreed. I am sure that you will understand, and I extend to you my cordial greeting.”

In other news, the Vatican has always had a mission in Eastasia.

(Via Tony Woodlief.)

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A time to every purpose

And yes, you have time for that, as do all of us. It’s simply a matter of sticking to the plan as we know it.


No virtue left unsignaled

Moses brought down from the mountain fifteen ten Commandments, and for some people, that just isn’t enough:

[O]nce a people give up the intricacies of Levitical laws or similar, they seem to want to invent their own earth-bound laws to “prove” how pure or earnest or something they are, and it makes me tired. From this week’s Sunday school lesson, a quote from Martin Luther that said something like how we’re all sinners but are also all “justified” (to use the language of the lesson-writer; that was probably not how Luther said it in the original German). But yeah. I tend much more to side with Luther on this: we have areas where we’re good at doing what we “ought,” and others where we aren’t, and everyone is like that, but they have different places where they fall down, and as long as their ‘falling down’ isn’t actually hurting anyone, it seems excessive to judge them harshly. “I don’t eat anything with almonds,” says a person. “Do you know how much water they require as a crop?” and my butter-like-food loving self over here, who is now apparently allergic to peanut butter kind of wants to weep, because I’m not giving up yet another food; I’m to the point of only giving up foods when I canNOT eat them for health reasons (bad teeth, allergies, bad digestion) but then again: there are a lot of things I forgo, not so much out of deep environmentalism, but because I can’t be bothered (e.g., watering my lawn on a regular basis. So far the St. Augustine hasn’t died, and that even includes the dry summer of 2011).

What gets me is how trivial these feigned virtues actually are. Where is today’s Simeon Stylites, avoiding the temptations of the earth by spending 37 years on a pillar? (Then again, Simeon didn’t think himself “above” anyone else, except in the purely geometric sense.) I should probably keep in mind that today’s hair-shirt is likely 90 percent polyester.

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We’ll be Dahmed

District 33 Senator Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) seeks to replace Jim Bridenstine, nominated by President Trump to be the next administrator of NASA, as 1st District Congressman. The most likely result, I’m thinking, is that rather a lot of Dahm’s proposed legislation will be dug out of the archives, including the Piers Morgan Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms Without Infringement Act, which, if nothing else, got him an invitation to appear on Morgan’s CNN TV series, canceled shortly thereafter, presumably for non-Dahm-related reasons.

Then there’s this year’s SB 1457, which reads as follows:


SECTION 1. AMENDATORY 29 O.S. 2011, Section 7-204, is amended to read as follows:

Section 7-204. All wildlife found in this state is the property of the state Almighty God. The people of the State of Oklahoma place the authority to manage all wildlife pursuant to the Oklahoma

SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2018.

Almighty God has not yet commented on this measure, but if I were Nathan Dahm, I might want to stay away from thunderstorms, especially if they’re packing lots of lightning.

(Via Bridget Trowbridge.)

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A load of crap

In fact, literally so:

Obviously too late to reform this guy, if he’s still playing with poo at his age.

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Quote of the week

Gerard Van der Leun on Advent, a season today’s putative intelligentsia must feel dishonor-bound to scorn:

If it is true that the sleep of reason breeds monsters, can it not also be true that the constant wakefulness of Reason breeds its own peculiar hallucinations; its walking horrors?

We depend on Reason when we flip a switch, step on a brake, or seat ourselves in pressurized thin metal tubes that hover 40,000 feet above the earth and move at 500 miles an hour. This power would seem to argue that Reason should be trusted in all things, that the intelligence that runs up and down the synapses of our brains in an endless flickering web of electo-chemical space-time events is the ultimate arbiter, the final judge, the self-obsessed lodestone of our lives.

And yet … and yet …

And yet, hovering outside of Reason, we still somehow sense Immanence; we sense there is something more going on here, something vaster unfolding all about us, no matter how sternly Reason rules.

We sense Immanence, no matter how many times we are told the opposite; we sense that myth, legend, soul, magic, miracle and mystery still hold us, and that

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

And that,

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

As we now move more deeply into Advent, we move — in our long sweeping orbit about our home star — closer to the moments when that which is most deeply our gift and most certainly our curse is made manifest in the music of our being in a manner beyond all reason. And no matter what our faith — even if that faith is that there is no faith to be had — this turn of the year, this Advent, will inexorably bring us once again to the memory of the miracle made manifest all about us in every moment if we could but pause to see the forever present revelation.

Matthew 11:15: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” And those who wish not to see, perhaps they will be granted their wish.

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Nothing but the truth

Peter Grant, the Bayou Renaissance Man, arrived Stateside for the first time in 1996, and even in those pre-TSA days a few air travelers were randomly (maybe) detained for routine (maybe) questioning:

I was traveling in clergy attire; black shoes, socks, trousers and blazer, and a black shirt with a so-called “clergy collar” . . . I happened to be sent to a position occupied by a young female agent. She began running down the list of questions: name, address, age, etc. She didn’t look up at me at all, only down at her clipboard as she wrote down my replies. The crunch came when she asked, “Employer?” I replied, “Catholic Church.” Without missing a beat, she demanded, “Position?”

I couldn’t resist it. I replied, solemnly, “Missionary.”

She looked up angrily, ready to rend me for being a disgusting, sexist pig, only to find me tapping my clergy collar with my forefinger. I repeated, mildly, but with emphasis, “Missionary.”

She blushed scarlet. Every other agent behind the desk suddenly had a coughing fit, or had to stop what they were doing and lower their heads, shoulders shaking. Before I knew it, another agent tapped me on the shoulder. “That’s all, padre. Thank you. Have a nice visit to the USA.” He ushered me out, as quickly as possible.

Clearly a case of a man doing what a man’s gotta do.

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The most recent Vatican treasure

Pope Francis blesses a Lamborghini

It’s not going to be there long, though:

On Wednesday, Pope Francis became the new owner of a papal-themed Lamborghini Huracán, which was given to him by company executives at the Vatican and will be auctioned off for charity.

The sleek white Huracán with gold lines running along the hood and angles of the car’s body was presented to Francis in front of his residence at the Vatican’s Saint Martha Guesthouse Nov. 15. He blessed and autographed it in the presence of top executives from the luxury Italian sports car brand.

It was probably too early to do up the mighty bull in Advent purple.

The car will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in London, and the Pope has decided to give the proceeds to three different charitable causes: the restoration of villages on the Nineveh Plain in Iraq, assisting victims of human trafficking, and missionary work in Africa.

I suspect the selling price will be well in excess of the $267,545 base price. We’ll know on the 12th of May, when the gavel comes down.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Reformation the next

History is cyclical. Even ecclesiastical history is cyclical:

This week in church we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. No, we are not Lutheran (though today’s order of service was partly borrowed from whatever the world-wide Lutheran governing body is). The point being: without Martin Luther, there would likely not have been an Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone some 300 years later to lead to the founding of our little denomination.

And in the sermon, the minister noted that there seems to have been “upheavals” in the church every 500 years ago — first, with the fall of Rome and the incorporation of some heresies/more brutal beliefs in Christianity, then the Crusades (I think that was the 1000 AD thing?), then the Reformation. And now, of course, we are in one of the periodic “dimmings” of the light — that we are in a world where many people reject faith or see Christians as the enemy (and, sadly, some Christians have behaved in unfriendly or exclusionary ways, even to those who are “seekers”). But a glimmer of hope: the idea that one thing we can offer that people hunger for is community, and that maybe, if we START by offering community, then some people will eventually be moved to faith or to a more-productive way of living (i.e.: not hurting others) as a result. It’s an interesting idea and kind of upends the “first you believe and then you become part of the community” that has been traditional but you know? I don’t know any more. Given the shrinking membership of churches maybe we need to try providing a community first, and then see if people want to join.

One preaches more effectively by deeds than by words, or so it’s always seemed to me.

The Roman church is having its own difficulties of late, what with the current Pontiff veering off into the murky clouds of social justice. But ultimately, Francis is but a single Catholic; the Church is bigger than the Pope, bigger than any of us. Something similar could perhaps be said of every single Christian denomination.

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Quote of the week

God, using His Donald Sensing persona, refutes the notion that He should have prevented the carnage in Las Vegas, or any of several million other misfortunes:

Oh, believe me, I was at Las Vegas. It was a bitter night for me. But I was there.

There were a man and a woman listening to the concert when the shooting started. They did not know one another. They dived under a table. He was hit, yet he lay across the woman, shielding her with his wounded body.

A young man led 30 people to safety. He was shot doing so. There are many, many other examples. And thousands of people waited for hours on end to give blood.

Oh, you say, that’s just human nature. We do not know whether those heroes and heroines even believe in a God. So? Where do you think human nature comes from? Why do you think my grace cannot operate preveniently even in the hearts of those who know me not? I am always leading every event of the world toward the good. But there are many other influences, too, such as the hardness of your hearts and the will to evil, the imperfection of your understanding, the finitude of possibilities in a world of limited resources and capabilities. Yet my will wins through more often than you think.

But why does Las Vegas prove my dereliction? Funny how no one accuses me of indifference over the murder toll in Chicago. But even that is not necessary. Just one child dying of hunger in any remote corner of the world serves just as well. (Although I might argue that it proves your dereliction more than mine.)

An example on a smaller scale:

Not long ago a young man atop a tourist center in the Alps was walking and texting. He walked right off the side of the mountain, fell 250 meters and of course did not survive. Could I have intervened? I suppose so; I could have suspended gravity and floated him gently through the air back to the platform. Or I could have made him just bounce at the bottom with no ill effect. Or I could have made it impossible for human beings to walk while texting. One or the other, never both. Or I could have just made sure that smart phones were never invented to begin with.

Here’s the thing: You do not get to choose. You are not God. You have no power for miracles so you don’t get to tell me how to work them or when or how.

And after all, who is to blame for the nitwit tied to his smartphone? Not God, and not Samsung either.

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No place for a whale anyway

The first thing I learned about Jonah and the whale was that there is no whale; Scripturally speaking, it was a real big fish. (Not to be confused with Reel Big Fish.)

The Friar picks up the story, somewhere at sea:

He sits in the fish’s stomach for three days — and if you think about it, the only kind of air anyplace inside the alimentary canal is what we take Pepto-Bismol for, which means Jonah spends three days inside a giant fish burp. After three days of this, it occurs to him to pray. Like many of us, he prays quoting some of the prayers and songs he knows. My Old Testament professor in seminary pointed out the different psalms and songs Jonah quoted, weaving them together in a lament about how bad he had it.

When Jonah finished, my professor said, the fish threw up. His sympathies were with the fish.

Jonah now finds himself near Nineveh, and when God calls again he decides he’ll answer. Nineveh the city stretches so far a person takes three days to walk across it, which makes the hotel chains like it very much. Jonah ambles in about a third of the way and says five words in Hebrew. He did raise his voice, and that may have been because nobody would get near him since, as far as the story we have says, he hasn’t taken a bath since leaving the fish.

And the wicked souls of Nineveh repented; the Lord stayed His hand, and Jonah pitched a hissy fit; he’d gone through all that business with fish guts, and he was expecting an ending with serious entertainment value.

There are, of course, contemporary Jonahs, though perhaps not with the seafood connection:

Well, we probably all know some people in our churches who just don’t seem happy unless they or someone is talking about someone else going to hell.

It might be well to remember that they’re not going to be the One making that fine Judgment call.

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Zoom it yourself

Kids on Yahoo! Answers are prone to questions like “What should I study in college? I need to make enough to afford a Lamborghini.” Not going to happen, of course, but they persist, until you ask them “Why don’t you build your own?”

Ken Imhoff spent 17 years building a replica Countach, with a Ford 351 Cleveland sitting amidships, fed by more carburetors than most people have seen in a lifetime.

As early as 1980, the Countach was selling new for over $100,000. Imhoff surely spent more than that to hand-build his. And once he was done, he realized he had no place to go.

Then he looked skyward:

“It was an exercise of human self-centered, egotistical, selfishness that just about ended my marriage and losing our home. As my faith begins to grow, I realize God gave me the talent to do what I do and there is nothing wrong with that; my only mistake was not using it to glorify Christ.”

So he hit the road with his homebrew ministry.

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Drop dead already

One year after “ambulatory” was stricken from my vocabulary, I mourn for a moment; and then I contemplate the fate of someone far worse off than I am.

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Worship in your own way

The mighty Google hath declared there are but four paths to whatever Promised Land there might be:

Conduct yourselves accordingly.

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A new low for Florida Man

As fuzzy thinking goes, this is some of the fuzziest:

A Florida man killed his fellow neo-Nazi roommates after he converted to Islam and they did not respect his new faith, police said.

Devon Arthurs led cops to the bodies of his former friends on Friday, but not before he also allegedly held two customers and an employee of Tampa’s Green Planet Smoke Shop hostage with a pistol before he surrendered.

Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, were discovered dead of gunshot wounds to the upper body and head, police said.

Arthurs said that he and the pair had “shared a common neo-Nazi belief,” but that he recently converted to Islam.

If anyone ever deserved to be buried in six feet of chitterlings, it’s this guy.

“You’d have to kill him first.”

Your point being … ?

(Via Daniel Tobin.)

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Thorny theological question

In general, I don’t get that many visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses, inasmuch as my stepmother (age 64) is a Witness and they consider that it’s her responsibility to make the appropriate invitations and such. That said, I don’t find them particularly bothersome, and I was probably neither wise nor kind to open the door to them that day in 1977 when I was too lazy to get dressed. Still, they’re just far enough off the Standard Christian Shtick to leave me with occasional puzzlements.

Yesterday they left me a tiny, almost inconspicuous, flyer announcing a three-day convention next weekend at State Fair Park. The schedule struck me as slightly inscrutable:

Friday, May 19, 2017
9:20 am to 4:55 pm

Saturday, May 20, 2017
9:20 am to 4:55 pm

Sunday, May 21, 2017
9:20 am to 3:35 pm

Sunrise on those days is around 6:21 am, and sunset 8:32 pm (CDT); it’s the only thing I could think of that would mandate such specific-sounding times, but it also sounds a bit, well, pagan for proper JWs. Color me confused.

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I know a place

Although “a cellarful of noise” doesn’t seem quite apt, unless you’re into joyful noises:

The Downtown Church in Springfield, Missouri

Brian J. says that no one is likely to get that particular pitch except for himself — and me. Further:

I’m not saying I’m old, but I have a Petula Clark album. I’m saying I inherited it from my sainted mother.

I am old, and I continue to acquire Petula Clark albums as she records them. (The most recent dates to, um, 2016.)

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Forget the Alamo

This one, anyway:

Imprisoned evangelist Tony Alamo has died more than seven years after he was sentenced in federal court in Arkansas to a 175-year prison term, authorities said.

The Bureau of Prisons said the 82-year-old Alamo, whose real name was Bernie Lazar Hoffman, died Tuesday while in custody at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C. Further details about his cause of death weren’t immediately known, though Alamo was reported to have suffered from health problems, including diabetes and a 2011 heart attack.

Goodness. Whatever was he imprisoned for?

Alamo was convicted in 2009 on 10 counts of taking young girls across state lines for sex. Some of them, as young as 8 years old, had been forced to become Alamo’s “wives.”

“Consent is puberty,” Alamo told The Associated Press in September 2008, during the same weekend that state and federal agents raided the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in the tiny southwest Arkansas town of Fouke in an investigation of child abuse and pornography.

Historical note: When they refer to the “Fouke Monster,” they don’t mean Tony Alamo.

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Pastorized for your protection

This is clearly more than mere “outreach”:

Lucy van Pelt, surprisingly, was not available for comment.

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The spirit of ecumenism

And just the right time of year for it, too:

Complaints about lack of inclusiveness will be accepted below.

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The miraculous notwithstanding

This event is not currently scheduled, but should it happen, I’d expect it to unfold exactly as Francis W. Porretto describes:

I firmly believe that if the Second Coming were to occur today at high noon, and the Redeemer were to issue an unconditional statement that Donald Trump is innocent of anything criminal (or even unpleasant) anyone has ever implied he might have done, the Left would arrange for its cats’ paws in the media to promote a unified broadside against Trump for “daring to breach the wall of separation between church and state.”

Once a hater, always a hater. Compare to this decade-old screedlet by Steve H. Graham:

If George Bush crapped gold bars and handed one to every single hurricane victim, and then he raised the dead and parted the flood waters and turned the power back on and resurrected the Beatles and got them back together and lowered the price of oil to two cents per barrel and invented a cure for cancer while farting Chopin nocturnes and turning the oceans into chilled Dom Perignon and the beaches into caviar, liberals would still find reason to bitch.

Graham, now a practicing Christian, points out:

Our lives are controlled by the supernatural. We think we accomplish things through willpower and natural ability, but that’s just pride. Sometimes the things that happen in this world are consistent with our natural expectations, but often, events make no sense at all. That shows that the supernatural is involved. Surely no one believes Kim Kardashian is rich because she’s intelligent, talented, or hard-working. No intelligent person thinks Cher or Marisa Tomei deserved Oscars, or that Barack Obama deserved a Nobel.

I take issue only with the last clause. If Yasser Arafat deserved a Nobel, surely Barack Obama did.

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Burqa, schmurqa

The Wikipedians write of Eid al-Adha:

In keeping with the sunnah of Muhammad, Muslims are encouraged to prepare themselves for the occasion of Eid. Below is a list of things Muslims are recommended to do in preparation for the Eid al-Adha festival:

  1. Make wudu (ablution) and offer Salat al-Fajr (the pre-sunrise prayer).
  2. Prepare for personal cleanliness—take care of details of clothing, etc.
  3. Dress up, putting on new or best clothes available.

Emphasis added on that third item, mainly to get you into the proper frame of mind for this:

Allah, it appears, finds Jimmy Choos an acceptable sacrifice. (Last year the young lady in question was perhaps a tad more restrained.)

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Said the convert

Severian describes how he reacted to the presence of the Lord:

You feel completely humbled … and then you feel blissful at your humility. The reason Materialism, i.e. the basis of all modern Liberal attitudes, doesn’t satisfy is because you feel utterly alone and adrift in the world. All this — waving your arms at the entire universe — and there’s just you, a tiny speck on a tiny speck adrift in incomprehensible vastness. And you get a few trips around one of quadrillions of other identical suns, and then you’re gone, forever, into nothingness. But if you try the thought that maybe Jesus was right, and this world — all of it, all quadrillions of identical suns, all that vast unknowable universe — was created just for you … you’re overwhelmed. It’s one hell of a rush …

… and then comes the HARD part, but we’ll leave that for another time. Merry Christmas, y’all.

Nothing further need I say.

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Sing it out

In 2013, the contemporary-Christian group Cloverton set some Christmas-y lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s evergreen “Hallelujah,” which apparently didn’t bother Cohen’s record label until it started to sell in its own right.

And afterward, the new lyrics went largely unheard, until this:

Where this came from:

A 10-year-old girl from Northern Ireland has wowed people around the world after a video of her singing in her school choir went viral.

The video of the choir’s version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” — recorded at the school’s Christmas show — has gained almost 170,000 views in three days.

Kaylee Rodgers, from Donaghadee, County Down, has autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but singing has helped her build up her confidence.

“For a child who came in P4 [age 7-8] and wouldn’t really talk, wouldn’t really read out in class, to stand and perform in front of an audience is amazing. It takes a lot of effort on Kaylee’s part,” Colin Millar, principal of Killard House, told UTV.

And yet she somehow makes it look easy.

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Christmas when it’s supposed to be

According to Taylor Marshall, it’s the 25th of December, and there’s Scriptural authority for it, based on the age of John the Baptist:

The second-century Protoevangelium of James also confirms a late September conception of the Baptist since the work depicts Saint Zacharias as High Priest and as entering the Holy of Holies — not merely the holy place with the altar of incense. This is a factual mistake because Zecharias was not the high priest, but one of the chief priests. Still, the Protoevangelium regards Zecharias as a high priest and this associates him with the Day of Atonement, which lands on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishri (roughly the end of our September). Immediately after this entry into the temple and message of the angel Gabriel, Zacharias and Elizabeth conceive John the Baptist. Allowing for forty weeks of gestation, this places the birth of John the Baptist at the end of June — once again corresponding to the Catholic date for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24.

The rest of the dating is rather simple. We read that just after the Immaculate Virgin Mary conceived Christ, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist. This means that John the Baptist was six months older that our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:24-27, 36). Add six months to June 24 and it reveals December 24-25 as the birthday of Christ. Subtract nine months from December 25 and it reveals that the annunciation was March 25. All the dates match up perfectly.

So then, if John the Baptist was conceived shortly after the Jewish Day of the Atonement, then the traditional Catholic dates are essentially correct. The birth of Christ would be about or on December 25.

Of course, I am of the school of thought that believes Christmas should be moved to July, when the stores aren’t so crowded.

That said, I am suitably impressed. Now: December 25 of what year? Herod, a major player in Matthew’s gospel (chapter 2), died, so far as we know, in 4 BC.

(Via John Salmon.)

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The gospel according to Warren

I know Warren Kinsella is smarter than this:

This refugee family with controversial values violated immigration laws

Um, no. From the second chapter of Luke [ESV]:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

Got that? Joseph and Mary and the as-yet-unborn child were headed for Bethlehem because it was the Roman law. In no wise were they refugees or immigrants.

Shorter version:

That would help, yes.

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It doesn’t work that way

Unless things have changed a whole lot more than I think they have, and I have no reason to think they have:

Screenshot from Twitter: Jesus Christ followed you

Then again, that’s about what I said when that notification came in.

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I do believe

ThinkProgress has a chap on their roster with “a Master’s in Divinity from Harvard University,” which prompted this amused (I think) riposte from Severian:

Which means he’s never even cracked the cover of the Bible, and wouldn’t recognize Jesus if He turned his venti soy latte into wine right in front of him. Harvard’s Div School has a rep second only to Yale’s as a wretched hive of scum and villany, and I know some folks personally who went to Yale Div. It’s a great school if you want to rationalize being a gay Wiccan transgender Buddhist-Jain-Shaman fusionist who’s “spiritual, not religious.” Bible stuff, not so much.

Well, of course not: if you quote from either Testament in public discourse, the Officially Secular — “We’d call ourselves atheists, but that would require us to actually believe something” — will get their vestments in a wad.

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No, the other third day

The Eastern Orthodox church celebrates Easter this year, not today, but on the first of May. This is partly due to the fact that the Orthodox rite is still derived from the Julian calendar, which has been getting farther and farther out of sync with the Gregorian calendar for the last four centuries and odd. Will this situation ever change? Well, it might:

The heads of the Christian churches are close to sealing a deal to fix the date of Easter, the Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed, ending more than a thousand years of confusion and debate.

The Church of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury Most Reverend Justin Welby said the agreed date would be either the second or third Sunday of April.

He expected to make the change within 5-10 years, though he admitted that churches have been trying to agree on a date without success since the tenth century.

Archbishop Welby, Pope Francis, the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (head of the Greek Orthodox church) are all working towards a common date, he said.

This does not necessarily portend a reunification of the separate bodies of Christianity, but it still seems like a promising development.

(Via @BethAnnesBest.)

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Epistle grip

Let us suppose, for a moment, that the second thing seen by the former Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus was a mailbox:

As I sat half-listening to the lector at Mass on Sunday morning — my mother and the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church insist that I go to at least one Mass every year unrelated to someone getting married or dropping dead — it stuck me how much of the Christian Bible, that portion the bitter clingers refer to as the New Testament, is actually mail, twenty-one pieces of first class mail, in fact. I thought this a bit odd at the time. The Buddha found the path to enlightenment while sitting under a bodhi tree, Moses got the Good Word from a bush that burned without burning, thereby causing and preventing forest fires in one fell swoop, and the archangel Gabriel had to tell Muhammad to recite three times before the Prophet finally got the point and started reciting. But Christianity? Christianity comes to us via the faith of the Apostles, the sacrifice of the martyrs, and the exertions of the Roman post office.

Which would be well to remember in case you start wondering what the Romans have ever done for us.

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