Archive for February, 2011

Taking his cue from The Screwtape Letters (don’t tell me you haven’t read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis?!!), Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a senior tempter instructing junior tempters on how useful pop culture and political leaders can be. Despite himself, just like the more-candid-and-revealing-than-he-knows Screwtape, Slubgrip says a lot about the delusions that are necessary to keep a person from repairing his relationship with God. Or, for that matter, that keep him from being able to live with his neighbor without hatred and bloodshed.


Satirical and flavored with somewhat vile humor, yes. But priceless.

(If that doesn’t get you to check out the link, I guess I don’t know what might… 😉 )

hat tip: The Anchoress

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Driving in China

A man who lives in China has some theories on why there are so many bad drivers where he lives.

And he means really bad drivers, and really quite many.

He also reports on an old man who decided to teach bad drivers a lesson by throwing bricks at their cars when they endangered pedestrians. Onlookers rushed to help him in this crusade. He hit a nerve, apparently.

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Alvin S. Felzenberg says It’s Not ‘Presidents Day.’

It’s Washington’s Birthday. (Well, tomorrow is, being February 22. But the ‘official’ celebration was today.)

I knew that. I forgot, though. Relentless misinformation can do that to a person.

I’m old enough to remember when we celebrated actual anniversaries of important dates in our history, not watered down Mondays-off-for-some-people. I’m also old enough that I actually learned some neat stuff about the admirable George Washington when I was a kid.

For instance, since America switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar during his lifetime, he had two birthdays. Originally, his birthday was on February 11. Trivial, I know, but as a kid I loved trying to get my head around having a block of days stricken from the calendar. It seemed like messing with reality. It wasn’t quite that, of course: the goal was to better match reality. The Julian calendar was inaccurate, and kept sliding off the equinoxes, and such.

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Breakpoint is shining a spotlight on good books for teenagers (and up) this week.

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Christians, do not despise the small things, or the planting of small seeds.

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From the First Annual Message of President John Quincy Adams, December 6, 1825:

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

In taking a general survey of the concerns of our beloved country, with reference to subjects interesting to the common welfare, the first sentiment which impresses itself upon the mind is of gratitude to the Omnipotent Disposer of All Good for the continuance of the signal blessings of His providence, and especially for that health which to an unusual extent has prevailed within our borders, and for that abundance which in the vicissitudes of the seasons has been scattered with profusion over our land. Nor ought we less to ascribe to Him the glory that we are permitted to enjoy the bounties of His hand in peace and tranquillity — in peace with all the other nations of the earth, in tranquillity among our selves. There has, indeed, rarely been a period in the history of civilized man in which the general condition of the Christian nations has been marked so extensively by peace and prosperity.

Europe, with a few partial and unhappy exceptions, has enjoyed 10 years of peace, during which all her Governments, what ever the theory of their constitutions may have been, are successively taught to feel that the end of their institution is the happiness of the people, and that the exercise of power among men can be justified only by the blessings it confers upon those over whom it is extended.

And this, from considerably later in the report:

The Constitution under which you are assembled is a charter of limited powers. After full and solemn deliberation upon all or any of the objects which, urged by an irresistible sense of my own duty, I have recommended to your attention should you come to the conclusion that, however desirable in themselves, the enactment of laws for effecting them would transcend the powers committed to you by that venerable instrument which we are all bound to support, let no consideration induce you to assume the exercise of powers not granted to you by the people.

Read the whole thing.

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From the First Annual Message (aka State of the Union address) of Franklin Pierce, Dec. 5, 1853:

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The interest with which the people of the Republic anticipate the assembling of Congress and the fulfillment on that occasion of the duty imposed upon a new President is one of the best evidences of their capacity to realize the hopes of the founders of a political system at once complex and symmetrical. While the different branches of the Government are to a certain extent independent of each other, the duties of all alike have direct reference to the source of power. Fortunately, under this system no man is so high and none so humble in the scale of public station as to escape from the scrutiny or to be exempt from the responsibility which all official functions imply.

Upon the justice and intelligence of the masses, in a government thus organized, is the sole reliance of the confederacy and the only security for honest and earnest devotion to its interests against the usurpations and encroachment of power on the one hand and the assaults of personal ambition on the other.

The interest of which I have spoken is inseparable from an inquiring, self-governing community, but stimulated, doubtless, at the present time by the unsettled condition of our relations with several foreign powers, by the new obligations resulting from a sudden extension of the field of enterprise, by the spirit with which that field has been entered and the amazing energy with which its resources for meeting the demands of humanity have been developed.

Although disease, assuming at one time the characteristics of a widespread and devastating pestilence, has left its sad traces upon some portions of our country, we have still the most abundant cause for reverent thankfulness to God for an accumulation of signal mercies showered upon us as a nation. It is well that a consciousness of rapid advancement and increasing strength be habitually associated with an abiding sense of dependence upon Him who holds in His hands the destiny of men and of nations.

Recognizing the wisdom of the broad principle of absolute religious toleration proclaimed in our fundamental law, and rejoicing in the benign influence which it has exerted upon our social and political condition, I should shrink from a clear duty did I fail to express my deepest conviction that we can place no secure reliance upon any apparent progress if it be not sustained by national integrity, resting upon the great truths affirmed and illustrated by divine revelation. In the midst of our sorrow for the afflicted and suffering, it has been consoling to see how promptly disaster made true neighbors of districts and cities separated widely from each other, and cheering to watch the strength of that common bond of brotherhood which unites all hearts, in all parts of this Union, when danger threatens from abroad or calamity impends over us at home.

Read the rest.

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Hunter Baker reviews, and recommends, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.

I like how he describes his mother in the lead-in to this post. It’s not part of the review, but it’s a nice touch.

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…versus cheap grace – Regis Nicoll discusses the difference, in Lessons from Bonhoeffer, Part 1.

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A challenge to Christians, to be champions of civility.

An excerpt:

Misunderstandings surround the idea of civility; it’s frequently mistaken for squeamishness about cultural differences, false tolerance or dinner-party etiquette. Classically, civility is a republican virtue, with a small “r,” and a democratic necessity, with a small “d.” It’s the only way you can have a diverse society, freely but civilly, peacefully.

As Christians, we have deeper motivations still [for championing civility]. Followers of Jesus are called to be peacemakers, with truth and grace; Paul asks us to speak the truth with love. We’re called to love our enemies and do good to those who wrong us. This is our Christian motivation for championing the classical virtue of civility.

Freedom of conscience [upholds] the right to believe anything, but the right to believe anything does not mean that anything anyone believes is right. That is nonsense. We have a right and a responsibility to disagree, to debate, to persuade someone that they’re out to lunch. They may be muddle-headed. They may be socially disastrous. They might even be morally evil, but we have a responsibility to disagree civilly.

Read the whole article.

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