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Monday, February 29, 2016

It's Leap Day!

What is "Leap Year"?
A leap year is a year that has 366 days, instead 365 days. A day is added to the end of the month of February so that it has 29 days instead of 28.

What is the purpose of "Leap Year"?
The time it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun is 365.2421 days rather than the exact 365 days of the calendar. Every four years, an extra day is added to the calendar to realign our calendar with the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. There is an exception to the "four year rule" -- every four years "except for years evenly divisible by 100 and not by 400." According to mathematicians, 97 out of every 400 years will be leap years -- rather than 100 out of every 400.

What is the history/origin of "Leap Year"?
For us in the U.S.A. it goes back to what is known as “Julian Calendar”, though Egyptians were among the first people to calculate a leap year. The “Julian Calendar” was adopted in 46 B.C. (and instituted in 45 B.C.) under the reign of Julius Caesar, adding a leap day every four years. Before this, the Roman calendar (and many others, such as the Jewish calendar) used a "lunar calendar" that added an extra month on a recurring basis. Pope Gregory XIII adopted a calendar revision in 1582. Known as the “Gregorian Calendar,” it is still in use today. It gave the "evenly divisible" exception rule (mentioned above) to readjust for the discrepancies that had occurred between the “Julian Calendar” and the solar year.

Why is it called "Leap Year"?
A "Leap Year" is a year that contains a "Leap Day". Some say it is because in leap years fixed dates advance (leap forward) two days instead of one. That is, in regular (non-leap) years, fixed dates advance one day in the week per year; with the inclusion of a leap day, fixed dates advance two days instead of one. For example, Christmas fell on a Thursday in 2014. It fell on a Friday in 2015. If 2016 were a common year, Christmas would fall on a Saturday. But since 2016 is a leap year, Christmas will leap over Saturday and fall on a Sunday.

Why February?
When the 365-day “Julian Calendar” was devised, February was the last month of the year and the extra day was added to it.

Who are some people born on Leap Day?

  • Ann Lee, founder of the Shaker movement (born 1736)
  • Gioacchino Rossini, Italian composer (born 1792)
  • Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberdorft Sr., German individual with the longest name officially used by any known person (born 1904)
  • Dinah Shore, American singer and actress (born 1916)
  • Gretchen Christopher, American singer and songwriter, co-founder of The Fleetwoods (born 1940)
  • Bart Stupak, American politician (born 1952)
  • Peter Brouwer, leapling and co-founder of the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, says, “The law of averages means your chance of being born on Feb. 29 are one out of 1,461.”

Sunday, February 28, 2016

8 Reasons, and other music links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.



Saturday, February 27, 2016

Behaving brands, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Supreme Court nominee

A lot of energy has been expended jawing about filling the vacancy in the Supreme Court left by the death of Antonin Scalia (some of which began when his body was barely turning cold). The chief issue is whether a lame duck president should nominate a replacement (both theoretically and really). I heard someone on the radio today complain because the people don't get to choose the nominee (i.e., by the election process). Fact is, we do get to choose in the way the Constitution specifies -- we choose the President and Senate who choose the Supreme Justice. Some have used the rhetoric "let the people decide" in referring to letting the next elected president nominate a justice. The other side complains that it is the current president's right to nominate a justice. Both are right. The currently seated president has the constitutional right to set forth his candidate. But the Senate also has the constitutional right to "advise and consent" -- which included the right to not consent. 

I personally believe is it wise to wait. But whichever side we come down on, it is US who elected (or will elect) the officials who will nominate and confirm the next Supreme Court justice. Like it or not, we are part of the process.

Kasich's Kupkakes

Speaking at the University of Virginia, Ohio governor (and nondescript presidential candidate) John Kasich, weighed in (sort of) the issue of bakeries and homosexual couples, saying, "But if you're a cupcake maker and somebody wants a cupcake, make them a cupcake." Perhaps Kasich doesn't understand what is at issue, or perhaps he was just playing to the crowd (though no presidential candidate has ever done such heretofore). The issue that has been front and center is about not selling cupcakes (or other baked goods) to someone who walks in off the street, but decorating wedding cakes and such like for a homosexual ceremony, which draws the baker's ideas and creativity into contact with the viewpoint of the ceremony being conducted. Whether or not you agree with bakers who refuse to do so, one should fairly represent what is at issue. A candidate for president should be clear and honest about where he stands.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Political signs

Hey, you. Yea, I mean you. You know who you are. You who damage, deface and destroy political road signs. If you want to oppose a political candidate, please do so by exercising your lawful right to vote. Don't oppose a candidate by breaking the law in damaging, destroying or illegally removing legitimate political signs. If they are placed on your property without authorization, remove them. If they are unlawfully displayed on state highway right-of-way, let the highway department remove them. If they are not illegally placed -- leave them alone! Be a shining example of American citizenry. Don't be a low-life nitwit.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,  
  As his corpse to the rampart we hurried;  
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot  
  O'er the grave where our hero we buried.  
  
We buried him darkly at dead of night,          
  The sods with our bayonets turning;  
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light  
  And the lantern dimly burning.  
  
No useless coffin enclosed his breast,  
  Not in sheet nor in shroud we wound him;   
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest,  
  With his martial cloak around him.  
  
Few and short were the prayers we said,  
  And we spoke not a word of sorrow;  
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead,   
  And we bitterly thought of the morrow.  
  
We thought, as we hollow'd his narrow bed  
  And smoothed down his lonely pillow,  
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,  
  And we far away on the billow!   
  
Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,  
  And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him;  
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on  
  In the grave where a Briton has laid him.  
  
But half of our heavy task was done   
  When the clock struck the hour for retiring,  
And we heard the distant and random gun  
  That the foe was sullenly firing.  
  
Slowly and sadly we laid him down,  
  From the field of his fame fresh and gory;   
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,  
  But we left him alone with his glory.

The battle of Corunna was part of a war fought in Portugal and Spain, with France. The British joined in against the French. In battle an army of British under Sir John Moore (1761-1809) was forced to retreat to the Spanish port of Corunna. From there they intended to evacuate back to Britain. A fight with the French ensued. Though defeating the French, Moore was mortally wounded. Charles Wolfe (1791-1823) wrote "Burial of Sir John Moore" circa 1814 and it was published in 1817.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Box

Several years ago, I wrote about The Box and the Button, something I'd seen on Twilight Zone in my youth. I found it was drawn from a short story written by Richard Matheson. A few days ago I noticed that the satellite programming had movie based on this same story -- "The Box" by Richard Kelly, with Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. According to Wikipedia, Matheson "strongly disapproved of the Twilight Zone version" of his story, but I must say that I enjoyed it much better than this movie. I found the vast differences in "The Box" and "Button, Button" made the "The Box" a torturous movie for me to try to watch. I didn't enjoy it, but forced myself to watch it through to see if it got better. It didn't.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The first test of a gentleman, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"This is the first test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible value to him." -- William Lyon Phelps

Truth -- We need to get it right from those who got it right before us, that we may give it right to those who need to have it right after us.

"Suffering and success go together. If you are succeeding without suffering, it is because others before you have suffered; if you are suffering without succeeding, it is that others after you may succeed." -- Edward Judson

"Don't get rid of the old people; they have stuff to say." -- Steve Brown

"Having taken some steps in a bad direction is no good reason to continue further along the path." -- Bart Barber

"If the whole material medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind—and all the worse for the fishes." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

"If you are more fortunate than others, it is better to build a longer table than a taller fence!" -- copied

"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be." -- Thomas à Kempis

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." -- Albert Einstein

"Everybody who belongs to Jesus belongs to everybody who belongs to Jesus." -- John Wesley

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fattening up

William Lyon Phelps, long-time Yale professor, once said, "At a certain age some people's minds close up; they live on their intellectual fat." 

If that's true, you'd better start fattening up.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

7 New Theology Books, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Affair of the Sausages

In 1522 in Zürich, Switzerland, preacher Ulrich Zwingli taught on the basis of sola scriptura that "Christians are free to fast or not to fast because the Bible does not prohibit the eating of meat during Lent." "The Affair of the Sausages" soon followed. 
"[Reformer, Ulrich] Zwingli’s sermon [Concerning Choice and Liberty Respecting Food, in 1522] inspired a couple of his supporters to eat sausage at the home of Christoph Froschauer, a nearby printer at Zurich. It may seem silly to us, but this occurred during the season of Lent and breaking the Lenten fast directly challenged the authority of the Church. Froschauer was arrested. While Zwingli did not join the others in breaking the Lenten fast, he did condone their actions in light of scripture and the concept of Christian liberty. This eventually led to a public disputation or debate in January of 1523."
From The Affair of Sausages (where you can read more)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Why Not Lent?

In a recent blog post, Southern Baptist pastor Bart Barber wrote, "Lent is not in the Bible, nor anything resembling it. Movement toward Lent is movement away from the idea that the New Testament should give us the pattern for ecclesiastical celebrations or individual spiritual formation."

It is not inherently sinful to give up something or fast for forty days, even if those days happen to precede Easter. But observing Lent can be a sin. For some it is an errant religious ritual rising from a works-based philosophy. For others it is an empty religious ritual observed because others say so and do so. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. A person might voluntarily choose any day or set of days to fast (or give up something). He or she should not make a display of it (see Jesus's words in Matthew 6:16ff. "When you fast..."). Starting a season of sacrifice and fasting with a mark of penance certainly does that.

Observing of days (or not) should be a private matter of the individual and not a public imposition on others (see Romans 14). This calls in question church-wide observations of church-sanctioned days that are not commanded -- whether they be Lent or Independence Day or Christmas. Let all be fully persuaded in their own minds. It is ill-advised to bring an unauthorized day into the church to all members to observe. For example, we might celebrate Christmas as a family at home, yet leave it out of the church and not set it before others who are offended by it. Further, preachers should not impose a so-called "church calendar" upon the membership in his preaching. It violates the Romans 14 principle.

The reasons for observing Lent in a free church tradition often come out of left field, while some might appeal to something like the “normative principle.”
  • A biblical model, "… the Lenten fast is modeled after Jesus’ 40 day fast in the wilderness, so it too has a biblical origin…" To say that Lent is based on Jesus’s fast in the wilderness is one of the "left field" arguments. It is "reverse exegesis" -- doing something and then looking in the Bible for justification.
  • The "if you do this" argument: "Neither Christmas nor Easter is found in the Bible, yet these holy days are universally celebrated in Baptist churches." Bart Barber answers this argument well, writing, "having taken some steps in a bad direction is no good reason to continue further along the path." It is also not true that these days are universally celebrated Baptist churches. Some churches oppose them, while others leave them out of the church gathering and for each family to determine what they will do in their homes. Similarly, in Christianity Today Steven R. Harmon claims, "All Baptist congregations observe some sort of calendar in their worship." All Baptist congregations do not observe some sort of calendar in their worship -- unless one is including that we number our days by the Gregorian calendar. Baptists have no official or "Christian" calendar. And even if we did, that is not proof that it is a good thing.
  • If God did not forbid something, then it is acceptable. This is a derivative of the normative principle, but is too loose to hang our hats on. There are many things that are forbidden by the fact that God commanded something else. The practice of Lent incorporates some things that God forbids -- such as announcing our fasting and setting days for others to observe.
Lent is an extra-biblical human tradition. We should order our faith and practice on the commandments of God rather than the traditions of men. In the Bible, fasting is not taught as a means of penance. It is not a means of obtaining the God's grace. As Bible believers we shouldn't be looking to find which religious traditions we can borrow from others, but search the scriptures daily to see whether such things are so.

See  Part 1

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What is Lent?

Today is the next Wednesday after Ash Wednesday, one week into the Lenten season. But what is Lent? Once upon a time Bible-believing Baptists would have to look it up in a dictionary (since it is not in the Bible) -- but now in ecumenical times, modern Baptists embrace the practice of Lent and encourage others to do so! This is an unusual change for folks who claim the Bible as their rule of faith and practice.*

In some/many Christian traditions -- probably most often associated with Catholic and Orthodox -- Lent is a season of forty-six days (forty days, not counting Sundays) that leads up to Easter. It begins with a day called Ash Wednesday -- a ritual of rubbing ashes on a person's forehead in the sign of a cross. It ends with Easter Sunday (One Catholic web site says that it "officially ends on Holy Thursday"; this may vary in different traditions). During Lent, participants give up a particular food, habit, etc. and fast --varying according to what is required by the church affiliation of the participant. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) marks the last day before the Lenten season, which began with people feasting on the foods that they would give up during Lent.

The practice of Lent is not derived from a biblical command or a biblical precedent, but evolved over a period of time. Many historians trace it back initially to Christians who prepared for Easter with three days of fasting and prayer -- which later developed into a “Holy Week”. There is a connection to the Catholic practice of preparing "catechumens" to be baptized at Easter. By the fourth century, Lent had evolved into much of its current days -- including its length of forty days. Most connect the forty days with the forty days fasting of Jesus in the wilderness before His temptation. Some also connect the period of "forty" with the forty years wandering of Israel in the wilderness.

Lenten comments

  • Lent and Today’s Baptists -- "Baptists tend to reject and look with suspicion on that which is not explicitly outlined in Scripture." 
  • Roman Catholic -- "Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting..." 
  • The Upper Room -- "Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God." 
  • United Methodist -- "Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday...The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry...Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter."

* When I Googled “Baptists and Lent,” I got many more hits promoting Lent among Baptists than those rejecting it.

To be continued, Part 2

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The middle link

"The Waldenses are the middle link which connects the primitive Christians and fathers with the reformed, and by their means the proof is completely established; that salvation by the grace of Christ, felt in the heart and expressed in the life by the power of the Holy Ghost, has ever existed, from the time of the Apostles to this day, and that it is a doctrine marked by the cross, and distinct from all that religion of mere form or convenience, or of human invention, which calls itself Christian, but which wants the spirit of Christ." -- From Milner's Church History, as quoted in Authentic Details of the Valdenses, in Piedmont and Other Countries, by Charles Holte Bracebridge, London: J. Hatchard and Son, 1827 (apparently referring to the History of the Church of Christ by Joseph Milner, 1744–1797, an English Episcopal minister of the evangelical party)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mary at the Feet of Christ.

"For she loved much..." Luke 7:47

1 When Mary to the Heavenly Guest 
Her duteous offering made,
And, faith's allegiance to attest, 
Her weeping homage paid; 

2 The heavy drops, distinctly traced 
On His untended feet, 
Soon every stain of toil effaced, 
And gave Him welcome meet.

3 She with her veil of folding hair 
The broidered woof supplied, 
And ministered with gentlest care 
The rites His host denied. 

4 Then, on that more than regal head, 
(Unseen its glory-crown,)
The broken alabaster shed 
Its costly incense down. 

5 More precious than her Indian nard 
The homage it expressed,— 
The humblest, holiest regard, 
Her contrite tears confessed. 

6 So would I bow, ascended King! 
And thy forgiveness move.
No worthy tribute can I bring: 
Thou wilt the Giver prove. 

7 So at thy feet my faith shall live, 
By love adoring led; 
My heart its broken marble give, 
But Thou the perfume shed.

--Mrs. Josiah Conder (nee Joan Elisabeth Thomas)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A truly liberal society, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sportmanship, the Bible and Current Events

This past Sunday, the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24 to 10 in football's "Super Bowl". One of the prime follow-up topics of the sports news was losing quarterback Cam Newton's sullen reaction in a press conference shortly after the game.

Later in defending his actions, the Panthers quarterback said, “You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser." For some this seems to be the philosophical statement of the year. He followed this saying "It's not a popularity contest. I'm here to win football games."

Yes, the concept of football is to win the game. There's no trophy for losing. (Paul acknowledges this in 1 Corinthians 9:24) Those who lose will not be happy with the outcome. But there is a difference between not wanting to or liking to lose and acting like a spoiled brat after losing.

Newton said, "You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser." He could have just as truthfully said, "You show me a bad loser and I’m going to show you a loser" or "You show me a loser and I’m going to show you a loser." A loser is a loser is a loser, regardless of how he acts. Most of the season Newton and the Panthers have been winners. They won more than any other team. But in the big game on Sunday February 7, 2016 they were losers. Beaten badly by the Broncos. Fact. Actions, good or bad, won't change that.

Other comments by Newton challenge the concept of being gracious and magnanimous in losing. "The truth of the matter is, who are you to say your way is right? That's what I don't understand. We've got all these people condemning, and saying he shouldn't have done this, that and the third. What makes your way right?"

Yes, what does make "your way" (being a good loser) right? Well, if you're a Christian, here are some good starters (if you're not, I don't know what to tell you).

1 Corinthians 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things...
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

By the way, winners ought to be gracious and magnanimous as well! (E.g. Proverbs 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth...)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Bernie Sanders, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Genealogy, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"Genealogy, begins as an interest, becomes a hobby, continues as an avocation and in the last stages, is an incurable disease." -- Author unknown 

"If at first you don't succeed, find out if the loser gets anything." -- William Lyon Phelps


"None but those who are partakers of a heavenly birth feel heavenly realities to be their choice element, holy things their sweetest meditation, and the solemn worship of God their supreme delight. Look at this mark as a touchstone of divine life; for to be spiritually-minded a man must be spiritual, and to be spiritual he must have received the Spirit and been made a partaker of that 'kingdom of God which is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost' (Rom. 14:17)." -- J. C. Philpot 


"The materialistic and atheistic scientists of the age conceive of nature's laws without a lawgiver; of a creature without a creator; and stop with the effect, without rising to the cause, which alone affords a rational explanation of the effect." -- Philip Schaff


"A man who confesses his sins to in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the reality of God in the presence of another person." -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Life Together


"Acquaintance with scripture and the leadership of the Holy Spirit are the only things that any pastor or church needs." -- Bart Barber

"People who claim to hunger for truth often don't like the taste once it is served." -- copied

"Each relationship nurtures a strength or weakness within you." -- Mike Murdock

"True religion, rightly received, never made any man uncivil. Courtesy and Christianity agree well together." -- Matthew Henry

"A Christian, living under the Lordship of Christ, should examine every activity, every hobby, every action he takes and see if it glorifies God and serves the purposes of the kingdom." -- Dave Miller

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Morning-Star arose

Luke 2:29-32

1. Upon a world of guilt and night 
The Morning-Star arose. 
Enough! mine eyes have seen its light: 
Now welcome death's repose." 

2. Prophetic joy those words inspired, 
When, in the Virgin's Son, 
Simeon beheld the long-desired, 
And bless'd God's Holy One. 

3. “Now lettest Thou Thy servant, Lord! 
In peace his soul resign. 
These eyes, according to Thy word, 
See Judah's Day-Star shine. 

4. "The Light of Life, whose healing ray 
Shall sin's deep shades dispel; 
To Gentile lands salvation's day; 
Thy glory, Israel!" 

5. Faith still beholds her risen Lord, 
Though hid from mortal sight. 
Shine forth, O Saviour! in Thy word, 
And fill the world with light. 

-- from The Choir and the Oratory; Or Praise and Prayer, by Josiah Conder, London: Jackson and Walford, 1837

The God of Earth and Outer Space and NASA

NASA Illegally Censors ‘Jesus’ from Employee Emails; Liberty Institute Issues Demand Letter

Monday, February 08, 2016

All the news isn't bad

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Journalistic purposes, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.