Ronald Dart's

Opinion Archives

April 22, 2006

Only Here for a Little While

   I hesitate to tell you this, because when I do, you are liable to snap the book shut and find something else to read. But I have given this a lot of thought and study, and I have come to the conclusion that, sooner or later, one way or another, we are all going to die. See what I mean? No one wants to hear that. But if you are still reading, stay with me a little further and see what I am driving at.

            I had my 72nd birthday not long ago and. like most people my age, I have some minor health problem, some of which could become more serious with the passage of time. So I take my vitamins and supplements in hope of getting rid of some of the creaks and groans, and I follow my doctor’s instructions on therapy. I read articles and books on health related issues, and a range of stuff comes in the mail that promises to cure nearly every ailment known to man. And every once in a while, I stop and laugh at myself, because I know I am looking for the fountain of youth. Maybe, I think, I can stop this process, maybe I can feel the way I did when I was 40. Now I know I am fighting a losing battle. The battle is worth fighting, because I have a lot of work I want to do and I would like to keep the old body going as long as it will go. But I know, and you know, that in the end, we all die. MORE

April 15, 2006

From Passover to Easter

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. Endnote

           Occasionally, when I have said that “Easter” is nowhere mentioned in Bible, someone reminds me of the incident where Herod has arrested Peter, and put him in prison, “intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people” (Acts 12:4). The problem is that the Greek word translated “Easter” is the Greek Pascha, which, everywhere else it is used in the New Testament, is translated, “Passover.” So why, 1600 years later, did the King James translators use Easter instead of Passover here?
As early as the third century, the entire church had begun to confuse Easter and Passover. How did it happen that the early church stopped observing the Passover and began observing Easter? MORE

April 10,2006

Three Days and Three Nights

Nearly the whole Christian world believes that Jesus was crucified on Friday and rose from the dead Sunday morning. But if you have read the New Testament with any care at all, you may have a lingering question about this. Jesus said plainly that he would be in the grave for three days and three nights. How can we squeeze three days and three nights into the time between Friday, about sunset, and Sunday morning before daybreak? Here is what Jesus said: MORE

April 9, 2006

The Passover by any other Name

            If it seems strange that the early church was still observing the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread some 30 years after the ascension of Christ, consider this. The vast majority of the Christian world still observes the “Passover,” in their own way.

            The word for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, in Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, and all the romance languages is Pasca. And Pasca is the Greek and Latin word for Passover. This is also the word that is usually translated “Easter,” in English. So in Latin or Spanish, Resurrection Sunday is not called Easter. It is called “Passover.” Now why is that? And what is the connection of the Jewish Passover to Christianity? MORE

March 30, 2006

It's no secret that I am a fan of Peggy Noonan, one of the most personable writers in print today. This week, she hit one over the center field fence. She had been invited to the annual dinner for the 114 living recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. She had several stories to tell, but this one stopped me cold. I wanted to share it with you before it gets away:

Peggy Noonan

I talked to James Livingston of Mount Pleasant, S.C., a Marine, a warrior in Vietnam who led in battle in spite of bad wounds and worse odds. I told him I was wondering about something. Most of us try to be brave each day in whatever circumstances, which means most of us show ourselves our courage with time. What is it like, I asked, to find out when you're a young man, and in a way that's irrefutable, that you are brave? What does it do to your life when no one, including you, will ever question whether you have guts?
He shook his head. The medal didn't prove courage, he said. "It's not bravery, it's taking responsibility." Each of the recipients, he said, had taken responsibility for the men and the moment at a tense and demanding time. They'd cared for others. They took care of their men.

Then, when she had told the stories and honored these men, she applied what she was hearing to the immigration situation dominating the news this week. I thought I had heard enough about it to last a long time, but I was wrong. I needed this. And I found some truly important things to apply to us COG Christian Folk. That will probably find its way into this week's sermon, but I wanted to share this with you before it is gone from the Opinion Journal Site. Here is the LINK.

March 27, 2006

The Body of Christ

  Sometimes the simplest answers are the best. I keep asking why it is, 25 years after the ascension of Christ, long after everything that was nailed the cross was nailed there, why a gentile church was observing the Passover and the days of unleavened bread that go with it? The simple answer? Because the season is all about Christ. Paul made this plain enough in his letter to the Corinthians. Endnote According to Paul, the Passover and the seven days of unleavened bread are all about Christ. But what does that mean? I doubt there is a Christian in the world who doesn’t understand that the wine taken at what they call Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, symbolizes the shed blood of Jesus. We all know that Jesus died for our sins.

            But there was a question that nagged my conscience for years. I understood fully that Jesus had to die for my sins. I had taken Communion with tears running down my face in deep repentance for what I had done. But what I didn’t understand was why he had to suffer so. Why, I wondered, couldn’t they have just killed Jesus outright? A quick execution would have shed his blood and effectively paid for my sins. Or so I thought. MORE


March 25, 2006

Judgment Day

 If you have read much of the Bible at all, or if you have gone to church very long, you know that somewhere, out there in the future, there is a day of judgement. Somehow, in my youth, in listening to various preachers, I got the impression of God, sitting behind the bench in a courtroom like setting with a lot of books open before him, judging my life. One preacher I recall envisioned God playing our sins back for us on a giant movie screen for everyone to see. I groaned inside and figured I would want to crawl under my pew and find a place to hide.

            Another preacher envisioned God having a big lever by his throne, and when we come there for judgement, some go to heaven but for others, He pulls the lever and a trapdoor opens and sends them screaming down to hell. That one left my hair standing on end.

            Most of what you hear about the judgment day owes more to the imagination of man than to the Bible. But I have to tell you, there is a judgment day. The author of the Book of Hebrews drops this little bombshell: “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Even dying doesn’t get us away from it. Sooner or later, we have to face up to judgment.

            But this judgment day is nothing like the traditional depictions of it, and there is one very surprising thing about it which I will come to later. But the first thing to know about it is that the writer of the book of Hebrews connects this judgment day to the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, a day usually dismissed by Christians as a Jewish Holiday. One can only wonder why something so meaningful in the plan of God, and firmly connected to biblical holiday, is no consistently neglected across Christendom. Every one of these “Jewish” holidays, is a festival showing forth the life, work, plan and ministry of Jesus Christ. The fact that most Christians have forgotten them in favor of holidays that are not in the Bible notwithstanding, these days are crucial to understanding the plan of God. MORE.

March 24, 2006

Peggy Noonan this week has a fascinating column that looks at the similarities and differences between the bloodshed in India and Pakistan when the countries were declared independent and partitioned. It was a perfectly awful time, and no one foresaw the violence and bloodshed that would follow. Ms. Noonan notes that there is a blindness in the elite that prevents them from seeing what is happening on the ground. Take a few minutes to read her column, and then reflect on something she doesn't say. India and Pakistan are free and independent democracies today. As terrible as the transition was, could it have ever happened any other way. She seems to think so. I am not so sure.

March 23, 2006

Everyone knows that the two most important holidays throughout the Christian world are Easter and Christmas. They have been called “the bookends of Christianity.” Endnote But there is something odd about that. Neither of these days is found observed anywhere in the Bible. And if they were as important to the early church as they are today, you would think someone would have said something. Luke might have recorded somewhere in the book of Acts, “We stayed over at Troas through Christmas and then sailed across to Philippi.” Or maybe: “We hastened in order to be in Jerusalem for Easter.” But no, nothing like that is found in the Bible.
What we do find may be mildly surprising. We find holidays in the Bible, quite prominently and in both Testaments. Not only that, but they are found observed by the church in the New Testament. Luke wrote, for example, “And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days" (Acts 20:6). Later, "For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost" (Acts 20:16). Before that he had told the Ephesians, “Farewell, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will” (Acts 18:21) Endnote MORE



March 19, 2006


I hope I don’t shock you too much when I say that the Bible is not a particularly comforting book. I know the hope it gives is comforting. I know the relationship with God it offers is comforting. But one night, I was paging through the Bible looking for some comfort and I wasn’t finding much. I wanted to read something to make me feel better, and I wasn’t finding it. It was a moment of revelation, in a way. Don’t get me wrong, there are places in the Bible where I find great comfort, But the Bible is not a “feel good” book. It was after that, when I was doing some study in the prophets that something else dawned on me. As far as I can tell, God never sent a prophet to people to tell them how well they were doing. So when a prophet showed up on the scene, it was generally bad news. MORE



March 18, 2006


Will Polygamy be the next big thing? Charles Krauthammer discusses the philosophical issues involved, and makes an interesting observation.

What is historically odd is that as gay marriage is gaining acceptance, the resistance to polygamy is much more powerful. Yet until this generation, gay marriage had been sanctioned by no society that we know of, anywhere at any time in history. On the other hand, polygamy was sanctioned, indeed common, in large parts of the world through large swaths of history, most notably the biblical Middle East and through much of the Islamic world.

Read the entire column here.



March 17, 2006

What ever you think of Justice Scalia, you can enjoy his sense of humor. In a recent speech to a law school, he made his judicial temperament very clear.Helen L. DeRoy Lecture

Scalia, a well known as a strict "constructionist" in his interpretation of the Constitution, opened his remarks by saying, "I brought three speeches, and I decided to give the most provocative one, because this seems to be too happy a crowd."

Interesting article. Don't know where to find the whole speech.


March 16, 2006


"Never Take Counsel of your Fears."

I don't know who said it, but it is good advice. An item that appeared on the Net today confirmed a suspicion many held as the Iraq war developed.  Saddam no longer had chemical weapons, but wanted the world to think he had. The man made one of the most colossal misjudgments of any dictator in history and it cost him his country and probably his life. Read the article here.


The doctrine of Preemption


The administration today will restate a fundamental doctrine it holds in the war on terror. The doctrine of preemption is a new approach to dealing with rogue states. It made no sense in the cold war, because there was no way we could preempt a nuclear strike from the Soviet union. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was the doctrine in those years, and was based on the assumption that the Soviets didn't want to die. Up against a new enemy that cherishes death, MAD won't work. Here, from the Washington Post, is the story of today's new release of the National Security Strategy.


March 15, 2006


So few seem ready to understand what the Islamists are really after-- or at least willing to say so publicly. It was becoming clear to some, months ago, that the establishment of a new Muslim Caliphate was the real objective. Now, Mort Zuckerman, Editor of  U.S News weighs in. This is an important read. Don't miss it.

It is important to understand that what fuels such fanaticism isn't just the existence of a democratic Israel or even U.S. policy. To think this is to underestimate the depth of a set of shared political and religious fantasies. Hamas's election victory, on top of advances by Islamists in Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt, has energized and unified the radicals. This is no longer a political conflict about borders and identity. Militant Islam has declared a religious war in which the destruction of Israel is seen as but the first step in establishing a Muslim caliphate

Read it Here.



March 14, 2006


Explaining Jews: All the types of Jews

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about Jews in the modern world, and Dennis Prager has undertaken to clear up some of the fog.  One paragraph:

Among the reasons it is so important to understand these types of Jews is this: The great majority of Jews who affect the world are either non-Jewish Jews or Jews with minimal Jewish identity, and very rarely have Jewish religious faith or religious values. That is why all talk about "Jewish control" of Hollywood or of media or of anything else is meaningless.

Read his article at this link.


March 13, 2006


Should "Liberal" Be an Epithet?


I was listening to the Michael Medved radio show driving back from the gym this afternoon, and heard an interesting exchange between Michael and a caller about the "bad rap" that liberalism was getting in this country. The caller, an intelligent chap, was lamenting the way right wing radio had turned "liberalism" into a bad word. I have thought for a long time that the words, "liberal," and "conservative," are two of the most misused words on the political landscape, but something came out of that call that I had not thought much about.

It seems that both Jimmy Carter and Michael Dukakis both ran away from the sobriquet, "liberal," in their presidential campaigns, in spite of the rather obvious fact that both of them were very much in the mainstream of what today is called "liberalism." The upshot of that observation was that liberalism had a bad name before Rush Limbaugh hit the airwaves. Why was that?

The answer was clear enough as Michael Medved pointed out. From 1933 until Ronald Reagan, the country was mostly run by liberal Democrats, and the American public had seen clearly that liberalism didn't work. Now that is not entirely true. It is liberalism in government that is the problem. Liberalism in the private sector, especially in Christian churches, has proved to be remarkably effective. Just look at who was taking care of most of the refugees from the 2005 hurricane season.

The problem with liberalism in government is that it is what I call, OPM liberalism (Other People's Money). The money and effort being spent by the charitable relief organizations was entirely voluntary. Money spent by the government is forcibly extracted from the rest of us, and then great gobs of it are lost in inefficiency and graft.

But the real problem with liberalism in government is that government is about power, and liberalism and power seeking do not go well together. The great society programs of LBJ were corrupting of the very people they were intended to help. It is a pity, because a powerful lot of resources were wasted there.

Government needs to be phased out of charitable causes, and leave them to people who believe in them. Don't worry. The American people will take care of their own, but they won't really get started until government gets out of the way.




It is more than odd that anti-Semitism has been such a strong force in history. The Jews have been accused of unspeakable crimes of which they are no more guilty that the run of humanity, perhaps less. . .{More}






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