A Glimmer of Hope

In a world beset by bad news, there is always a glimmer of hope. One such glimmer was recently published at The American Spectator: “A Report from the Front” by George Parry. A band of physicians in the “Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Consortium” has published a treatment protocol that avoids ventilation and focuses instead on reducing inflammation and coagulation in COVID-19 patients. Praise God!

It’s the Light, Not the Leap

“…that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on the power of God.”

“…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

1 Corinthians 2:5, Hebrews 11:1

If I do say so myself, I wrote the most amazing sentence this past week in an email exchange with an extraordinarily bright, non-religious, long-time friend.

Let’s call him John, and his irenic response to that sentence inspired this column.

John had commented wryly but critically about a recent op-ed piece I had written, “On Facemasks … Who Are We?” It was an editorial about American character, COVID-19, and hiding the identity God gave to us behind a facemask.

John’s public observation contained what seemed to be ad hominem vitriol. I pushed back, but our ensuing non-public exchange was thought-provoking. He noted: “My lack of faith means I do take things more objectively, and though your words were almost poetic it might not resonate as deeply with me as it would with a Christian. …”

A nice compliment from a smart guy that revealed a common error about “faith.”

I responded, “Great note John. I deeply appreciate your sincerity. Don’t ever think lack of faith makes one more objective; it makes one (maybe not you) less able to embrace the existence of objective truth, which requires faith. …”

That was my “amazing sentence,” in case you couldn’t tell. I continued briefly about being 47 when I “got” Christ, what a deeply intellectual journey my faith-growth has been, and I noted John’s keen capacity to parse and understand virtually anything.

To that John replied, “I love how your journey has … led you into sureness that (in my wry and respectful observation) you can use a phrase like ‘embracing the existence of objective truth requires faith.’ I … understand that after you have crossed that faith bridge you are no longer tentative but living in a new certainty, such that a phrase that seems to be a contradiction in terms isn’t a contradiction at all.”

And there it is, this week’s column: objectivity vs. faith. John was gently, eruditely, and without condescension acknowledging that what is a contradiction to him, i.e., “objective truth which requires faith,” he understands is not a contradiction to me.

And that seeming contradiction, friends, is what limits the world. It also largely defines today’s truth-obviating post-modernism which positions “truth” as objectively incompatible with the inferior “faith” as objective proof of the reality of Jesus Christ.

John also cited the “metaphysics” required for me to take such a “leap of faith.”

It reminded me—and underscored—how western civilization overly-relies on the ancient Greek philosophical axiom that reality and objectivity are confined to that which can be seen (or discussed) and “proven.” I also think of Francis Bacon’s 17th century “scientific method” that adds “repeatability” to the proof of “scientific” reality. These worldly constructs exclude faith and combine to vacantly imply, “Faith isn’t objective.”

Really? Which is closer to objectivity: God the Creator of all things, His infinite love and eternal relationship, that He made humanity in His own image, and lights our lives with Christ, or the machinations, variations, limitations, and opinions of fallen men?

Life’s objective truth is not a leap of faith; it is a faithful walk in the light of Jesus.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) met John (smart even back then) in Little League. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

COVID-19 Briefing

Two physicians, Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi, recently gave a briefing on COVID-19.

Note: this video is also available on DTube.

4/30/20 Update: The original video from this briefing (https://youtu.be/xfLVxx_lBLU) has been disabled. This post has been updated with fresh links.

5/5/20 Update: The video from Part 2 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4zxobGPsw0 has been disabled. This post has been updated with a fresh link.

5/14/20 Update: The video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJprwe_rWeM has been disabled. This post has been updated with a fresh link where both segments of this briefing has been combined into one video.

On Facemasks … Who Are We?

By Bob Walters

Before we ask every American who goes out in public to wear a facemask “just in case”…

A treasure of the American experience is our historically unique and individually tenacious dedication to that most striking declaratory characteristic which forms our lives, our communities, and indeed our very definition of humanity. 

And that American treasure is the sanctity of our individual human identity.

That is what is different about America; it is what America introduced to the entire world when the people—not the government, not the strong-arm bullies, not kings or emperors—were bequeathed with the righteous power of self-determination and the moral imperative of government of, by, and for themselves.

It would require Americans to function cooperatively, peacefully, and honestly together as citizens. Government would exist for the common defense and the common good. It would consist of representatives of the people, and would break “ties” when competing interests required arbitration, settlement, adjudication, or restitution.

It was novel. For the first time in human history government would serve the people, not the other way around. America’s greatest strength was the freedom its citizenry enjoyed to form interest groups and both pursue individual aspiration and serve the common good. This would be our identity not just as a nation or tribe—those are common all over the world—but the identity I have, you have, each of us has as active and free agents in shaping our own lives, families, communities, and indeed, the nation.

Identity. What is that? In America I believe it is the inviolability of our belief that we—each one of us—was uniquely created by God and will be uniquely judged by God: I will, you will, we all will. America is socially weighted to that proposition that all are created equal. I believe that divine identity to be universal to global humanity, but America puts a special twist on it because of the many qualities we embrace.

The first quality is freedom. Imperfect as we may be, we are nonetheless free to be who we want to be and aspire to achieve what we want to achieve.

Then, responsibility, which freedom requires. We are responsible to and for ourselves, family, neighbors, communities, nation … and all humanity. The binding agent in responsibility, ultimately, is our responsibility to God, though some would remove God from the list. Unless we understand our Creator, we will not understand our creation or purpose. In America we truly see each other with an at least visceral and at most resolute belief that each us was uniquely created for a unique life’s purpose and will be judged for the life we lived. That informs and mandates our responsibility to each other in the here and now and to God in the hereafter. Some folks hate that truth.

Our American identity—our individual identity as Americans—I believe begins with freedom and responsibility. After that … I think we are free and perhaps even duty-bound to construct our own list; to think about what our identity means. I propose a cornucopia of virtues. Following closely after freedom and responsibility, I’d tout opportunity, aspiration, creativity, industry, motivation … and hope. Hope of the possible; hope of the good; hope of life and love and joy and accomplishment.

I believe God loves to see his kids play and loves to see us prosper. He’ll help.

And I also believe that Americans like to see each other; we live face to face. Some cultures—especially in the East but also among communists, socialists, totalitarians everywhere—attach no such significance to individual identity because their identity is either defined elsewhere (by government), culturally diminished, or non-existent. Sadly, it seems, their faces don’t matter … not even to themselves.

Most of what a common surgical facemask is going to hide is our identity. There is debatable prophylactic effectiveness for the loosely-fitted cloth masks we see on most people, and yes we might avoid some risk for some time by “locking down” our faces behind N-95 medical grade masks. But that is not who we are; nor who I want to be.

Risk is an American value, as are freedom, responsibility, opportunity and hope. We will not fully function as Americans when externally instilled fear overrides our legitimate questions about reality. 

As I believe in the critical importance of American individual identity, so I am also convinced of darker forces within our nation dedicated to diminishing that foundationally and morally proper human characteristic of self. The “you-me-us-we” Americans freely and joyously expressing our individual, responsible, proper God-given identities works against the dark forces desiring our fear, submission, and the evisceration of self-worth.

Before we don masks and berate those who would both question their efficacy and note their deleterious effect on community esprit dé corps—“What!!! You Want People To DIE!!!???—let’s instead consider who we are as a nation and assess our identities as individuals created in the image of the living God. Yes, we live in a fallen world, but with the divine promise of God’s truth and brighter hope for tomorrow. Jesus said so.

Not everyone believes that, of course. I do, and I want to be prudent towards and considerate of others because it’s my American responsibility to respect their health, well-being, hopes, and aspirations. That’s what Americans do because we know it is the right thing. But we also have to know when a right thing becomes a wrong thing; when someone declares something to be a “new normal” … and it’s not normal.

Put on a mask … ?

Let’s not make a habit of this. Soon we won’t know who we are. 

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) is a writer in Fishers, Indiana USA, and publishes a weekly Christian short essay at CommonChristianity.blogspot.com. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

Eric Metaxas Visits the Samaritan’s Purse Field Hospital in Central Park

Using the expertise they’ve developed fighting diseases like ebola overseas, Samaritan’s Purse has opened a field hospital in Central Park! Eric Metaxas recently got a firsthand look…

How Great Is Our God and D-B-R

We acknowledge and celebrate another Easter weekend in America and around the world. This year is an unusual one under the threat and confusion from a novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Being confined at home and from work has provided safety and health, but it has also provided much time with individuals and families to ponder and wonder.

This writer is gratefully living his sixth human decade as well as the fourth decade of marriage and Christian conversion in that order. Many questions about religion and Biblical history continue to intrigue me. My best answers still come from those sixty-six books called the Bible.

We remember Good Friday and Easter Sunday which are celebrated as holidays and holydays. Even The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2020 continues to publish national and religious holidays and observances. What makes Good Friday and Easter Sunday unique is explained in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The last three chapters of each Gospel record what has been heralded as holy week (Note: see John Chapters 13–21). What started in the Old Testament book of Exodus is fulfilled according to those New Testament Gospels. Our calendars mark this ONCE-in-history-event when the Nazarene was crucified for claiming to be God! (Religious freedom should have been practiced then).

The Old Testament Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread were established according to Exodus Chapters 11–13. The New Testament book of Hebrews explains this very thoroughly. Passover is always celebrated in the spring months on the fourteenth day of the Moon. We know that fourteenth lunar day as Full Moon and our modern calendars show the separation between the Passover date and Good Friday. In this leap year, the Full Pink Moon occurred on Tuesday night, April 7, 2020. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are fixed days nearest the Passover Full Moon.

This Saturday before sunrise, while some of you were sleeping and others working, this writer awakened wondering, “What about Saturday?” Then D-B-R hit me: the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ Jesus!

“And going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.'”

Mark Chapter 14:35–36, ESV

Jesus said that in the garden of Gethsemane under the Full Moon! He never slept from sunrise Thursday through the following sunrise Friday, the day of His crucifixion. That was a horrific Friday for Him, but the Good Friday for humanity’s second chance! So what about Saturday? Christ Jesus was dead in a borrowed tomb on the Day of Rest, which was established in Genesis 2! Four thousand years of history and humanity and He gets another day off? He said He would do this since Genesis Chapter 3. His prophets said so many times in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 18, Psalm 22, Isaiah 7 and 53, and Jonah 2 are a few examples of His way to eternal life. All four Gospels record a risen Christ Jesus. Sunday before sunrise He arose and demonstrated His control and power over life and death. Maybe Saturday is our time to rest and ponder this special weekend!

Ernie & Ruth Poani

At your service with telescopes and sky. Sign up for our mailing list, request a back issue, or send a copy to a friend. Contact us at (217) 361-6374 or email erp72creek@yahoo.com.

The Overlooked Victims of Quarantine

“The big topic no one’s talking about: 👉Who are the most vulnerable to the social and economic devastation of coronavirus quarantine? It’s probably not the group you suspect.”

Mr. Prager created Prager U, a nonprofit that produces thought-provoking videos on political topics such as “The Intolerance of Tolerance” and “Can You Define Socialism?” Each week, Mr. Prager hosts a fireside chat where he answers viewers’ questions and shares his perspective on current news topics.

Fourth Day Gazette, Spring 2020

Honoring Our Creator & Defending a Created Universe

Vol. 24, No. 01

And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the Sun and the Moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Deuteronomy 4:19, ESV

Welcome to Fourth Day Gazette 82 (FDG-82), the 24th Anniversary edition. Watching the “outer creation” with a telescope is my brief definition of astronomy. Many people think astrology and astronomy are the same thing. The scripture above clearly separates worshiping from watching. Practicing the horoscope is a modern violation of that scripture and is a branch of idolatry. FDG-12 Dec. 1998 provided a thorough challenge to astrology verses astronomy. (Note: to access past issues of the Fourth Day Gazette (FDG), email erp72creek@yahoo.com).

Diagram courtesy of Guy Ottewell, October 2019

Venus the Evening Star

Venus the Evening Star shines bright in the west sky until summer 2020. That is an unusual pattern for a planet which normally crosses the night sky in a period of six months. The diagram shows how the second planet from the Sun moves around the west sky. It indicates size and brightness but is exaggerated in scale. If we were closer to Venus to match the view we would be toast, literally. Start your watch at dusk looking southwest (about 15-30 minutes after sunset) on a clear evening sky. You cannot mistake Venus since it is the brightest object other than the Moon and Sun. Notice that it slowly winds around and is farthest left of the sunset in January and February. Venus crosses the ecliptic plane (dotted line) into the northern hemisphere. It slowly moves toward the Sun by June. Seasons are changing as the sunrise begins earlier and the sunset begins later. 

You are watching the planet that is almost as large as Earth but was created 25 million miles closer to the Sun than we are. Yes it is very, very hot there. We can see phases of Venus that similar to those of our Moon, as the diagram illustrates. Venus grows much brighter from March to May as it approaches the sunset. Venus reaches maximum brightness passing between Earth and the Sun as a crescent shape, seen through even a small (2 inch or 50 mm diameter) telescope! WARNING: Do not follow Venus to the Sun because that is dangerous to your eyesight! 

The Hand of God

Watching any planet allows you to discover our Creator’s handiwork. We use the planets and stars to mark seasons as they cross our night sky; plus, between sunset and sunrise we can define night time. They do cross the day sky but we cannot see them normally. That big bright light (Sun) outshines the darkness and illuminates our daytime. During a Total Solar Eclipse it can become dark enough to see stars and planets for up to ten minutes. The other big object defines our months. We call it the Moon. 

“Yours is the day, Yours also the night;
You have established the heavenly lights and the Sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.”

Psalm 74:16-17, ESV

Orion


Constellation Orion shines until April as it crosses our night sky. The hourglass-sevenstars are a winter constellation. Three belt stars mark the equatorial plane of Earth. Two top stars mark the north end and two more the lower south end.

Noah’s Flood on North America

Thanks to Dan A. Biddle, Ph. D., and Genesis Apologetics for their documentary video on Noah’s Flood:

Overhead we have busy night skies. 

Full Moons

On March 9, April 7, May 7, and June 5 we can enjoy Big Bright Full Moons. They occur at or near Perigee when the Moon is closest to Earth. 

Eclipses

There will be six (count them!) eclipses in 2020. Four of them (the ones in January 10, June 5, June 21, and December 14) are not visible in the continental USA. Two late night lunar eclipses are July 4 and November 29 which are penumbral or involve the dim shadow only. So we cannot enjoy any of the eclipses this year. Readers on the rest of God’s Globe can see the top four eclipses. Timing and our location determines how many of us see them! 

However, 2021 and 22 will begin another set (those terrible tetrads) of four total lunar eclipses.

Jupiter and Saturn

Planets Jupiter and Saturn will shine best from June to December as they move closer together for a grand conjunction on December 20-22, 2020. 

Mars

Planet Mars will cross our sky again. It will be biggest and brightest in September 2020 and the best we shall see until September 2035! 

You early risers can see three planets an hour before sunrise. Look southeast for Mars, Saturn and Jupiter lined up. They are closest together in March and April. 

Spring

March and April brings seasonal change and festivals. The annual vernal equinox or Spring begins early on Thursday March 19. Notice that sunrise and sunset occur directly east and west. Afterwards, days will become longer and nights will become shorter. 

Passover & Easter

The Full Pink Moon on Tuesday April 7, is not only the biggest and brightest, but will also begin a historical festival at sunset which began according to Exodus Chapter 12 about 3470 years ago! Modern Israelites and Christians celebrate Passover, which is a festival of deliverance and sacrifice.

While naturalistic cultures await an extraterrestrial to visit Earth, the scriptures record a visitor known as Emmanuel (one reason for modern Christmas). All four biblical Gospels record His arrival and departure and a 33 year period of historical monumental proportions! 

Then the unbelievable occurred when Emmanuel fulfilled the Exodus Passover on a Friday of Crucifixion. Our Messiah, Christ Jesus (the Anointed One) gave up His spirit (died) and then rose again (was resurrected) three days later. Modern sanctimonious terminology is “Good Friday” and “Easter.” Forty days later, He left Earth and returned to Heaven-above, in front of witnesses according to Acts Chapter 1

Which Is More Unbelievable?

So this writer asks, which is more unbelievable: Our Creator produced all reality, or millions and billions of years of evolution from atoms and humans, for what? A clue: when America was discovered, most explorers acknowledged our Creator and Nature as His handiwork. 

Ernie & Ruth Poani

At your service with telescopes and sky. Sign up for our mailing list, request a back issue, or send a copy to a friend. Contact (217) 361-6374 or email erp72creek@yahoo.com.

Pandemic Not to Be of Epic Proportions

This just in: The pandemic was oversold. Read Madeline Osburn’s full story at The Federalist: “The Scientist Whose Doomsday Pandemic Model Predicted Armageddon Just Walked Back the Apocalyptic Predictions.”

Key Quotes

“British scientist Neil Ferguson ignited the world’s drastic response to the novel Wuhan coronavirus when he published the bombshell report predicting 2.2 million Americans and more than half a million Brits would be killed.”

“But after tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, and businesses closed, Ferguson is now retracting his modeling, saying he feels ‘reasonably confident’ our health care system can cope when the predicted peak of the epidemic arrives in a few weeks.”

“Ferguson, who has since tested positive for the Wuhan virus himself, has not issued any official retraction or apologies for his incorrect predictions.”

What’s It Like Treating the Wuhan Coronavirus?

In the latest Cross Examined podcast, medical doctor Dr. Dan Eichenberger joins Dr. Frank Turek to describe his research and firsthand experience with COVID-19.

Here’s some of the questions and issues Frank and Dr. Dan discuss:

  • Why is the media not reporting the death rate?
  • What is the death rate?
  • How contagious is this compared to other viruses?
  • You’re treating a coronavirus patient right now. What drugs are working?
  • We hear a lot about flattening the curve. Explain what that is, and will we be successful?
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom thinks 25 million in his state of 40 million will get infected. Is that reasonable?
  • We hear we have fewer hospital beds than in Europe. How does that give the wrong impression?
  • Why is Korea beyond the problem but Italy still has it?
  • What do you think will happen in the US with the infection rate in the coming months?
  • What is your advice to the Christians and non-Christians listening to this?

For all of the Cross Examined podcasts, visit crossexamined.org!