Subprime
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So Bank of America is buying Countrywide Financial, rescuing it from impending bankruptcy. What had been the country’s largest home financing lenders now will disappear into the Charlotte powerhouse. A terribly risky purchase? BoA’s CEO thinks he got a great bargain. In the last six months Americans have learned a new word: subprime (cue the “Jaws” soundtrack here). “Subprime” is one of those newly minted words that a lot of people don’t understand. Here’s what’s really going on:  At lot... Read More
Magi
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Danny is a fourth-grader and is new at our church. After worship this morning he asked me where all the food was. “Huh? What food?” “Well,” he answered, “you said in church that today was a feast.” Oops. I guess I did. In church talk, today is indeed a feast, though unfortunately not one that guaranteed a lot of food. The Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord is a marvelous time, and not only if you are Orthodox and... Read More
R.I.P.
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It might be my imagination, but it seems as though 2007 claimed the lives of an unusually high number of notable people. Our world was made much more interesting by Lady Bird Johnson, mime Marcel Marceau, motorcycle stunt showman Evel Knievel, Anna Nicole Smith, Luciano Pavarotti, and Boris Yeltsin. Whom will you miss most? One of my childhood heroes, Milwaukee Braves ace Lew Burdette, won three games in the 1957 World Series. Dan Fogelberg wrote and sang some of the... Read More
Long Distance Relationships
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“Seeking LTR.” You’ll find that code in a lot of personal ads in the back of newspapers. “LTR” is abbrevo-speak for “long-term relationship.” The seeker evidently is tired of one-night stands. People seem to want LTRs. They are not so wild about LDRs, that is, long-distance relationships. As more and more businesses require their employees to travel a lot or relocate, is it possible to have a Phoenix/Orlando romance? Dr. Laura Berman, a therapist in Evanston, writes that there are... Read More
O Littler Town of Bayt Lahm
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In the Old Testament Hebrew, the name for the little town of Jesus’ birth was Beth-Lechem, the “House of Bread,” or as we would call it, the area’s breadbasket. For Boaz and Ruth, for Jesse and his illustrious son, King David, it was home. Christians call it Bethlehem, and for centuries its population was 80% Christian. It now lies in territory governed by the Palestinian Authority, and its Christian demographic has shrunk to 20%.  The Muslims who live there now... Read More
Magna Carta
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One of the most important pieces of paper in the world is up for sale. One of 17 known copies of the Magna Carta will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in a week. It is expected to fetch $20-30 million. Although the original was signed by King John at Runnymede in 1215, it was initially ignored and had little influence. A later (and briefer) version was forced on King Edward I (Longshanks) in 1297, and this signed copy is what... Read More
RU-486
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R.U. familiar with RU-486? It is an abortifacient drug originating in France, sometimes called the “morning after” pill. It was developed by the giant French firm Roussel-Uclaf (hence the “R.U.” initials). It is intended to be used to abort pregancies of up to 49 days’ gestation, and to be used with the drug gemeprost to induce abortions up to 24 weeks of gestation. It is legal in the United States and sold by Danco Laboratories under the trade name mifeprex... Read More
Rolls Royce
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In I Timothy 6:5, St. Paul describes the way in which Satan will corrupt church leaders. I could always understand the warnings against arrogance, conceit, quarreling, and envy. But for a long time I never really worried too much about people who “thought that godliness was a means to financial gain.” In the church world of my youth, anybody who went into church work for the money was an idiot. My grandfathers were both pastors, and it fell to them... Read More
Coins
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Do you plan to use the new presidential $1 coins? Are you even aware that there are new presidential $1 coins? Even though 100 million have been minted, I think it’s doubtful that they will catch on in a big way. Silver dollars used to be popular because they were massive, had valuable silver content, and just felt great in your hand. Modern-day dollar coins have all bombed:  Eisenhowers, Susan B. Anthonys, Sacagaweas. Nobody wants ‘em. I had to get... Read More
Titanic
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And now there is one. With the recent death of Barbara West Dainton, all of the survivors of the sinking of the Titanic are gone except Miss Elizabeth “Millvina” Dean of Southampton, England, who was but 2 months old at the time of the ship’s first and last voyage. She was eight years old before anybody told her about the disaster she had survived and in which her father perished. I must count myself among the millions of people who... Read More