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Heaven and Earth: Jesus and John the Baptist (John 3:22-36)

 This particular situation might be confusing: two unique people, who seem to have truth from God are both preaching and baptizing. John the Baptist notices that people seem to be more drawn to Jesus. John's disciples notice, too. John the Baptist reminds them and us that he is not the Messiah, but that he was given the task of proclaiming His coming. He uses the analogy of a wedding. In our terms, John the Baptist is saying that he is the best man. The best man's job is to celebrate his friend, the groom, and to do whatever he can to help the guests celebrate and enjoy the wedding. Our culture isn't much different than theirs in this. The best man is usually the closest friend that the man getting married has in the world. Any solid best man will be thrilled for his buddy, and once it's over, his job is done. That's exactly what John the Baptist is saying. There is a fair amount of discussion about whether verses 31 through 36 is still John the Baptist talking, or
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I’m Not Ambivalent About Today

 I’ve heard some left-of-center Christians say something like this, and I confess, I don’t understand it. I was never bruised by the “culture war,” and I am not ashamed of it, except perhaps to say that if total culture war is opposed to living in community, then and only then do I oppose it. Because the fact remains that I have been on the “wrong” or losing side the whole time. To oppose the fight itself would be to say that those who fought had illegitimate concerns. I can’t say that. Truthfully, something is only a “wedge issue” to those who disagree, and lack the courage of their own conviction. I believe this is true for other things as well, but abortion is front and center today. If I have disagreements with the “Christian Right,” it’s over tactics, partisanship, and exaggerated apocalypticism. Moreover, people could simply say, “I value other things more highly,” and move on. Yet it seems that bad faith and posturing is more valued than frank honesty. The people know that popul

Roe and Casey Down

 You don’t need the breaking news; let me get right to the point: “Liberal” Christian, you are more than free to say that some group of politicians doesn’t have a complete view of the world, or even doesn’t actually care about truth or justice, but the only way this decision “has nothing to do with truth or justice” is by excluding the act of aborting a young human from the consideration of what counts as “truth and justice.” In fact, now we can get back to arguing in justice about what human dignity deserves and requires, especially with respect to an elected government, because the emotional blackmail of poisoning the well in service to child murder has been (largely) removed. And understand that the pro-life cause as a political movement has sought exactly this, because laws forbid and create barriers to something undesirable. The hardships faced by women seeking abortion in the process of seeking one are part of the point: a merely symbolic law doesn’t function as a law. That’s why

Babies In The Womb Are People

 I want all the kids to be safe at school. But even if "the government is bold enough to force you to have a kid, but not keep them safe at recess," you can't grandstand about kids, if you're only advocating for them to die sooner. Elective abortion is the weak point in the whole "progressive" project, precisely because human dignity shines through, demanding the person of conscience defend it in all cases.

A Few Thoughts About Guns (Again)

 I wasn't going to say anything public about the tragedy in Uvalde, TX, or about gun rights/control, but I noticed my friend Bryan Cross had added to a thread about school shootings, and I had a thought worth sharing, I think. In terms of my feelings, I will only say that I intend to intercede for all concerned, appropriately, as is my Christian duty, when death comes for any and all of us. I'm sad in the way that lingers beyond a momentary outpouring of emotion. I am seeing their little faces, and imagining them, when I don't necessarily want to. Beyond that, my thought is this: we often hear this trite piece of garbage when shootings happen: "We don't have a gun problem; we have a sin problem." Let's actually take this seriously, and then think about it thusly:  If people and the culture at large are less virtuous, it would make sense not to allow bad people (which Christians assert at various times to be all of us) unlimited access to death-dealing weap

The Intensity Of A Great Love

 Palm Sunday, 2022. I went to church, and I recall thinking that it was very emotional. I remember one moment during Holy Communion, and I got a picture in my mind of the crown of thorns. Jesus pierced with the crown of thorns. I have said before that it seems as though Jesus likes to look right at me, with the same intensity and the same love that he had for Peter, when Peter had denied him three times. The compassion that cuts you to the very heart. In some real sense, I am not Peter. But if Jesus can look upon me with compassion, in a way similar to what he did with Peter, I have no right to deny Him, to tell him that his mercy is no good here. We don't recognize the more subtle form of pride, which fears the judgment of God. That is what it is, if in fact we have believed, and we are courageous enough to accuse ourselves before his tribunal of mercy. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." But that is the great tragedy of life, wh

I Would Vote To Confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

 She's one of the most qualified nominees in our history, perhaps the most qualified. Her experience as a public defender is a huge plus for me. She attended public school, before making her way to Harvard. She's paid her dues as a judge, doing all the things we should want Supreme Court nominee to do. The fact that I might disagree with many of her rulings is beside the point. Is she qualified, and free of major temperamental concerns? Yes. These things are always a circus, but all I needed from Judge Jackson was the assurance that she understands the limitations upon her power come from the text of the Constitution itself. When she said this herself, I was assured.  I generally believe that the president is entitled to deference in these matters, absent a major concern. Our Senators like to hear themselves talk, and rarely ask anything informative. They could illuminate the differences in judicial philosophies, informing the public, instead of inflaming them. I would probably

To The Last

 I’m spending my next few days in the hospital, and it’s been a lot already. Don’t worry; my problems are orthopedic. Anyway, there’s a rhythm to hospital life that I don’t think exists anywhere else. Maybe prison is the same way, in the sense that you are not totally in charge of your life. Someone says, “You must do this,” and you do it. One of the irritating and possibly painful aspects of it is the frequent blood draws. Every now and again, if you go to your doctor in the course of ordinary life, she may request this. But in a hospital, it’s much more frequent. I have admired some recent roommates, in their chutzpah to refuse medications and blood draws. It’s all technically voluntary, but personally, if a doctor who seems competent asks me for blood, or to take a drug for my well-being, it’s not proud hero-guy time. I beg your indulgence if it’s too fast a transition, but Jesus didn’t refuse any of the humiliation and violence that culminated in the Cross. He did it all willingly,

Thoughts On The State Of The Union

 I’m receptive to the idea that it’s a pointless partisan exercise, gilded with fake pageantry and dignity. But in light of the fact that the corrosion of civil society is partially aided by the cynicism concerning the same, I wanted to watch and listen. The first 12 minutes roughly was about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There is a large amount of agreement between our leaders on both sides, and the president ably pointed it out. I have deep concerns that these sanctions are simply going to hurt Russian citizens, and not Putin or his enablers. I don’t think war is ever preferable, but we shouldn’t think economic sanctions are cost-free. I have to say that I don’t have strong opinions about traditional economics, but when the president turned to domestic policy, a little voice kept replying, “I don’t know if that’s going to work.” There’s an inherent tension it seems, between economic growth, and the shift to renewable energy. From a moral perspective, I think policymakers should si