Monday, December 17, 2007

A Change of Pace

My honey got to do something that most other guys get to do a lot more often....laze about on Sunday. It was the first time church has been canceled in the 4 + years we've been here.

The storm that came through left the roads in bad shape yesterday, and despite it being the time for our Sunday School Christmas program during the Sunday School Hour, it was very clear that it was not safe to expect people to come out yesterday. So after a few calls, he was able to come back to bed and we all got to sleep in.

This was an unusual blessing, considering that he'd thrown his back out earlier this week and has had difficulty moving. An extra day of rest really made a big difference. Each day he moves around a bit better.

An End and a Beginning

I must confess I was close to tears when our dear "Luther at the Movies" decided to close shop two days ago. And I can't tell whether the tears were due to sadness or laughter, because he was funny even in his au revoir.

But in his farewells, he leads us to another blog which is a treasure, and that is the blog of First Things. I have thoroughly enjoyed the three days that I have read it, and his assistant (wink wink, nod nod), Anthony Sacramone definitely lets a bit of Dr. Luther through in his writings, even if his ironic style is a little more subdued.

But I have to say, I really appreciated this post by another blogger on First Things, Professor Robert George of Princeton University. It is a clear and concise reasoning as to why abortion should be illegal in the United States.

"For now, what I hope you will consider is simply this: The child in the womb either is or is not a human being–a member of the human family. If he or she is, then he or she is entitled as a matter of basic justice to the protection of laws and, indeed, to the equal protection of the laws. For a voter or public official to seek to deny to the unborn elementary legal protections against killing that we favor for ourselves and others we regard as worthy is a gross and appalling injustice. There is no way around this. Once one concedes the humanity of the child–as one must in view of the plain facts of human embryogenesis and early-intrauterine development–the principle of the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family requires the legal protection of the unborn."

His letter is a response to Anne Rice, who states that she is Democrat because she is Christian and Pro-Life, and who has endorsed Hillary Clinton. While I could take issue with a lot of things that she has said in her endorsment, I really am going to focus on one statement:

"As a student of history, I do not think that Americans will give up the legal right to abortion. Should Roe vs Wade be rolled back, Americans will pass other laws to support abortion, or they will find ways to have abortions using new legal and medical terms." says Ms. Rice.

As a student of history, has Anne Rice noticed that the very reasons why we are told that abortion should remain legal are the very reasons why we were told that slavery should remain legal? That slaves are not quite human? That in order for a way of life to be maintained, the institution needs to be kept in place? That this particular class of people are only entitled to have any control over their own lives whatsoever is if those who are responsible for their well-being (slave owners or the mothers) choose to give them that right (through liberating them or allowing them to be born?).

The American government used this argument to rationalize the continual violation of treaties with Native Americans. The same arguments were also used by the Nazis in exterminating the Jews and other "inferiors," by Stalin in dealing with various classes he didn't like, the Turks in dealing with the Armenians, the British treatment of the Irish, Muslims in dealing with infidels, and one could take this all the way back to ancient times with Greeks, Assyrians, and Cain vs. Abel. And abortion is every bit as much an atrocity as those listed.

This theme repeats itself throughout history. The person/people/class/goverment/empire that is in control has a right to decide what rights those inferior have. But as an educated society, when we look back at history - we always see the injustice that was perpetrated. We need to be able to see the gross injustice that is being perpetrated now.

Every year we are slaughtering MILLIONS of PEOPLE whose very existence is viewed as an insult by the very people whose own actions brought them into existence.

With slavery, people fought long and hard to eliminate it, and it was an act of law that did so. With genocide, we have repeatedly gone into countries to put a stop to it, to destroy governments that condone it (most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq, and our presence in Iraq is continued in part to prevent this from happening again). Through our study of history, we have looked back at how we have treated other human beings, and grieved and learned from our mistakes not to repeat them (though as long as we are sinful, and as long as there is power, they probably will be repeated).

And THAT is what we should be seeing from history, if we are students of it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Memories

I was tagged by Glenda for my three most precious Christmas memories...

1. The first one was my first Christmas with Jeff. I drove down from Vegas to his parents' house in Los Angeles early in the morning on Christmas Day, after spending Christmas Eve with my parents'.

I remember stopping in Pasadena to find a payphone to call him to let him know I was about 45 minutes away. I found a phone booth (a fully enclosed glass phone booth) in front of a car wash on Walnut St. Little did I know that five years later, I would be living 1/2 a mile from that car wash (the phone booth was gone by then) and Jeff's first congregation would be only a mile north.

I will never forget how cute he looked when he opened up the door and kissed me out on the porch. We just sat and held hands for a while like two people who hadn't held hands in 3 months. Well, we hadn't!

He gave me a coffee table book on Ireland and a stuffed giraffe, because besides hating being called Jeffrey Giraffe, it still was his favorite animal, so graceful and beautiful. He wrapped it so that the giraffe was sticking its' neck up out of a whole in the wrapping paper. I got him a museum print of "Irises" by Van Gogh. For one of our first dates the previous Summer, he took me to the Getty Villa to see it), not long after they acquired it (once upon a time, all of the Getty's collections were displayed in it houses their ancient collections. I like the Villa so much better than the new Getty, only problem is, it is so beautiful OUTSIDE, that it sometimes was hard to go INSIDE. We just sat there and stared at it, amazed at the depth of texture created with the paints. He literally made the paint stand up off the canvas. No print or picture will ever do it justice. This print hangs in our dining room. I also got two ornaments with our names on it. Ever since then, our tradition is to get an ornament or two for the tree that reflects something important that happened that year. Decorating the tree is always a very nostaligic time for us.

Then, after Christmas, I took him home to meet my parents. Eeek. That was a bit scary. But everything went fine. My mom told me later that she said to my dad..."this is the one."

2. The second Christmas was the next year, when Jeff asked me to marry him. He had told me that he was going to wait until after he preached for the first time in his home congregation on the 27th, because he was nervous about that. But on the 23rd, when I'd laid down for a nap, he built a fire and came and woke me up and he proposed by firelight. In the middle of it, his mother came through the door after a horrendous evening of last minute Christmas shopping and ordered him to help unload the car. "Can it wait a minute?" "No it can't wait a minute! I've got to get the groceries in." She exclaimed. So we went outside, and I said "yes" on the porch.

Then we went back to my parents' and Jeff told my parents that we'd decided to get married (my dad wasn't really the kind of guy who wanted to be asked for my hand, though Jeff was the kind of guy who wanted to ask, so there was a compromise). I saw my dad's body tense up, and Jeff said, "we're going to
wait a year and a half until Lora graduates." It was as if all the tension gushed out of my father's body all at once. Apparently, that was the big concern. :)

3. Our first Christmas with our son Chris was probably my next most memorable Christmas. It was the first one where we bothered with a tree and where our home seemed complete. He was so tiny and we put so much thought into it. I can't even describe how it was special, so I'll just show you (It was a big day for him, too!)
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Which Harry Potter Character Are You?

You are Hermione. You're a bookworm always in search of answers. When pressed, however, you can always be counted on to put away the books and help your friends.
Find Your Character @

Now Here's One I've Never Tried....

What Kind of Drink Are You?

You are a Cosmopolitan. You are quiet and content. You don't stand out too much, but you don't mind and don't care what people think of you. You don't need everything to be perfect, as long as you get what matters. Sure, you may be 'girly' and you may not be the smartest, craziest or most refined, but you really like yourself, and that's fine by you.
Find Your Character @

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Before I go on, I want to make this clear. I LOVE the Harry Potter books. I have read the whole series at least 3 times through. I think there are few works of literature that do as good a job at addressing so many virtues -- the sanctity of life, responsibility, duty, honor, mercy, justice, the evils of prejudice, truth vs. happiness, honesty, and goodness vs. evil --not to mention what happens when for the sake of these virtues, you compromise them by allying to evil for their preservation.

Christianity is not about virtues, even the virtues that have defined the Western World. Even if they epitomize God's law written on our hearts. Something is Christian if it points to the bodily death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. There are many Christian churches that will tell you that these virtues in and of themselves are what Christianity is about, and therefore Harry Potter is Christian. J.K. Rowling will tell you this, herself.

That's why I found this post on Get Religion by tmatt to be very interesting, especially this quote:

For several years now, I have been arguing that Rowling is, in fact, what her writings suggest that she is. She is a very articulate, liberal mainline Protestant storyteller (Church of Scotland, in this case) whose academic background has baptized her in ancient Christian language and symbolism. It’s hard to read the coverage of the final book in the series — heck, it’s hard to read the final book itself — without seeing evidence of both sides of this equation.


When I turned eighteen, one of the first things I did was go down to the post office and register to vote. My parents, registered Republicans, had always actually encouraged their kids to register as Democrats. There really weren't that many Republicans in Nevada at the time, and the Democrats were generally conservative, and they just wanted it to be worth our time to vote in the primary elections.

I couldn't do it, though. I knew almost nothing about fiscal and social differences between the parties. I also had been brainwashed by liberal teachers toward liberal taxation policies (sales tax isn't fair because it is even across the board, graded income tax still isn't high enough for the rich, etc). But I was going to register Republican and there was ONLY one issue that made up my mind. Abortion. The Republican Party was Pro-Life, and it was very clear to me that abortion was killing a defenseless human being. I hadn't stepped foot in a church in years, but that was obvious.

Knowing history, I also took pride in belonging to the political party whose very inception centered on rectifying the evils of slavery. It was also the first political party to favor women's suffrage. Over the next few years, I learned a lot about conservative economics, social policy, and how these shape legislation.

There has been a lot of fuss this year about certain evangelical groups threatening to not support Guiliani if he gets the nomination. I have also heard from other Republicans that the main thing is party unity, and whether Guiliani gets the nomination or not, it is crucial that we stick together and support whatever candidate gets the Republican nod, because we cannot hand the White House over to the Democrats.

As a joke, I told a friend that I would vote for Hillary before I voted for Guiliani, if nothing else, just to tell the Republican Party to never let this happen again. I could not in good conscience vote for Hillary or any of the other Democratic candidates. They just do not represent my values or outlook on life. But for that very same reason, I could not vote for Guiliani or Romney, either. Both have pro-abortion and liberal political leanings that I cannot endorse with my vote.

The Republican Party was born on the platform that slavery was evil. That slaves have been denied their rights as human beings, and are entitled to those rights beyond anything else. They took a country to war over this -- a terrible but a just war. They also fought and pushed for the rights of women to vote for their representatives, to be heard by a court of law, and to own property. To abandon the history of standing up for those who are denied their human rights, as human embryos are now denied their right to their own hearbeat, their own existence -- would be turning their back on everything the Party has ever stood for, because in the end, it is saying that some do not have the right to basic existence, to have the opportunity to rise to their own potential, to the value that they were given by God. Those are the values that kept me Republican. To say that a human baby is not entitled to those rights unless its mother and its society says that it is worthy is against the party's very core foundational values. The party will not stand if it treats abortion as something that does not matter, and instead places the value on the party-name itself.

The Republican Party is not what is important. What is important is the role that it serves in representing those who register as Republicans. I am not Pro-Life or small government because I am a Republican. I am a Republican because they claim they are Pro-Life and small government as well. If the party should cease to represent its constituency, then the party has ceased to represent those who chose them. I would go elsewhere.

And while I would grieve this happening, I also am reminded that parties come and go. The Federalist Party collapsed and was replaced by the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party. If the Republicans cease to be truly conservative and are no longer the party that will right terrible social wrongs as it has done so well in its past, another party will rise up to represent those that the party abandoned and take over that role. I have no doubt.

See, I'm Not Blog-Lazy, I'm Focused on Other Pursuits....

Which Peanuts Character Are You?

You are Schroeder. You are brilliant, ambitious, and brooding; you tackle tasks with extreme focus. People don't always interest you as much as other pursuits, though, so you can come off as aloof.
Find Your Character @

I don'tknow if this is quite right though. There were a few questions on this one where none of them sounded good. Personally, I think I'm the Red Baron.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Poetry In Motion....

I am the tanka.
The attention of others
Is unnerving, and
Since I try not to draw it,
I'm left alone. Which is good.

What Poetry Form Are You?

My friend Dogmom had this on her blog. I just had to try it.

Now to go find out what a tanka is.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tootin' My Own "Horn"

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

In reality, it is never good to feel like we know it all and don't need to return to it constantly to be fed.

But if they want to tell me I'm fantastic, I'm not going to disagree ;)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

RPW's Amazing Wonderful Chicken

I have been getting requests for my chicken recipe (yes, this is the one served at the Fort Wayne Mamapalooza as well), so after writing it down repeatedly, I decided to post it to my food and diet blog - Tending Our Gardens. It is a great one for family or for entertaining and feeding several people in a relatively easy, inexpensive fashion.

Hope you enjoy it!!!

One More Day.....

This time tomorrow, I will be doing laundry.

Excitement...I know.

But tomorrow, my new dryer comes. We've been without a clothes dryer for several months now, and with the good weather, and extended good weather at that, it really hasn't been an issue (well, aside from the fact that my dog thinks it incredibly fun to take clothes off the line). I thought it would be novel to line dry, and in some ways, it has been very nice. Now that it is cold though, they are drying on a line in the basement (that the previous pastor so kindly set up), and things are starting to not be so pleasant.

It would cost almost as much as a new dryer to get a repairman in. My father-in-law looked at it, but despite all his efforts couldn't get it to start again (actually, I think they felt its loss more strongly than we did). And honestly, with disposal fees, lacking a truck, and many other aspects, getting a used one just was going to be a huge headache....

Hanging clothes outside was meditative and enjoyable. But when push comes to shove, I don't like the way clothes feel coming off the line (though I do love the way sheets smell). In all my efforts to return to traditionalism, sometimes, it is amazing how much I find myself getting in the way. So we return to modernity. It is amazing how easy it is to take something for granted. I've always had a dryer, at least one in our apartment complex. This has been an good experience, and who knows, if Scully mellows out by next year, maybe we will hang stuff out in the summer. But my sweaters are smellin' a bit musty from drying in the basement. blech.

So we scrimped and saved and I worked, and other expenses came in (like new tires) and depleted those savings.

But Friday night, we bought it, and tomorrow it gets installed.

There will be a veritable orgy of laundry going on tomorrow, and I just might take off all my clothes and try on every piece of cozy-radiant clothing that comes out in all of its softness and joy (I hope nothing shrinks).

Oh, I'd better run to the store for dryer sheets!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Clinging to my Roots....

Now even with all of this, there are still times where something comes out of my mouth that sounds pure rural Indiana, and I don't know if that is due to four years of living here, or having fairly small town Ohio parents. Their accents got stronger when they were mad....

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The West

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
North Central
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oh Give Thanks for the Carnival!!!

Lutheran Carnival LXIII is up at Barb The Evil Genius's blog! Great job Barb!!! Now would somebody pass the sweet potatoes????

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oh no! Am I that bad????

cash advance

So is this saying that I write at a high school "comprehension level" or that I think I am smarter than the rest of the world?

I choose to put the best construction on it...and no comments from the peanut gallery!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ponderings on Hillary

Sometimes I just sit aghast, wondering if people remember what having the Clintons in the White House was like?

Does anyone remember their renting out the Lincoln Bedroom; White Water; the Rose Law firm scandals? How all of these things, plus her husband's repeated sexual harassment and affairs brought lawsuits and disgrace to the Office of President? How about how the Clinton Administration trashed the White House before they left? How about all of those pardons that were signed for a price?

How about promises that we would be out of Bosnia in a year (hint, we we weren't...actually, we're still not), our military being put under U.N. authority for the first time in history, The U.S.S. Cole, or promises that Osama Bin Laden would be captured?

In case you want to say that Hillary is better than that, she was the partner at the Rose Law Firm, it was her colleagues that were appointed to key positions, she was the investor in White Water, and despite all of the affairs and the law suits, when she could've ditched the bum she was married to and set off on her own (and when she might have even been more admired for it), yet she has happily remained with our former president, and wants to put him back in the White House. I wonder what kind of "first man" he will make, and what he will choose to do with his time in that role?

I'm not trying to be nasty. But I do remember. It was a national disgrace. In fact, if my son had been born a girl, his name would've been named Monica. And two months after he was born, when that scandal broke, I thanked God that it never happened, because to this day, there is only one thing that comes to mind when simply the first name "Monica" is spoken.

Maybe I shouldn't judge Hillary by these things...however, her staying with him tells me a lot about her morality. I honestly believe that she will ressurrect their previous administration, and reestablish their friends back in their administrative roles. I really don't want to see any of that happen to our country again.

We may have differing positions about our current President, but I am at least glad that the issues are truly political, not about how crooked and untrustworthy the President is, because whether we should be in Iraq is an ideological question, and yes an ethical question, and maybe even one about the failure of government to do its job...but it isn't about whether our President can keep it in his pants, or about whether he will be in jail before all of this is through, and what is his price when it comes to political fundraising and lending out rooms of the White House, or sending members of his own party blushing in shame.

So tell me, does anybody remember what it was like when the Clintons were in office?


My Inner European

Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!
You drink everyone under the table.
Okay, this one cracks me up, because everyone else's seem to have personality traits. Instead, mine says I drink everyone under the table. Maybe if we are talking Diet Pepsi, but not anything else. Unfortunately, my food and entertainment choices on this quiz both involved beer, which actually, I don't like very much. And by the way, I'm really not very boisterous, either.
But I do love Ireland, would love to go to Ireland, and had a huge crush on an Irish guy when I was eighteen, who had beautiful blue eyes and jet black hair, and an incredibly melodic voice. But that melodic voice kept forgetting to mention he was married (though his behavior kind of indicated it). Oh well, I guess I'll just thank him fostering my love of U2 and Clannad and leave it at that.
Oh well, my American with the green eyes makes Indiana seem more beautiful to me than any Irish coastline could possibly be. It's funny how it is that way wherever we go.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Lutheran Carnival LXII: World Series Edition The Wycliffe Notes on the Reformation

Wow, what a wonderful coincidence that I would be hosting the Lutheran Carnival for both the first week and the last week of the baseball season!!!

Don’t worry, searching for Bill Wambsganss was enough work for me….I just want to tip my hat to the Boston Red Sox because with all the hype (wonderful hype) about Joe Torre going to the Dodgers (woo-hoo) and stuff about A-rod, they barely got noticed in their incredible accomplishment. So congrats to Red Sox fans.

Now, since this also is more than touching on Reformation Day and a lot of the posts submitted have to do with that, I decided to be a good Lutheran and touch on that as well, only it would have to be somewhat rebelliously, of course.

Since we all are reading this in English, (unless you’re using a translator), I decided to see if there could possibly be some great English-speaking theologian around the time of Luther, or who knows, maybe even before Luther and who might have even influenced him a bit....but no dice...couldn't find anybody.

(Hey, how did this History Channel documentary on John Wycliffe end up on my DVR? I’d better erase that to make room for more reruns of "Mythbusters"…no, wait…hmmmm)

Lutheran Carnival: The Wycliffe Notes version

John Wycliffe was born in Ipreswell, Yorkshire, England in the mid 1320’s. Not much is known about his childhood or his early studies, but he came to Merton College, Oxford when he was seventeen (1)(2) (actually, different sources say very different things about this).

In Wycliffe’s day, the people had access to Bible stories through word of mouth, writings, and such things as morality plays, but not to the Bible itself, except in Latin. Church services were in Latin, and the Scripture could only be read by the priests, and was often read silently, with a bell being rung to indicate to the people that the important parts were being read.

But corruption was common in The Roman Catholic Church and even many clergy had been put in place that did not even know Latin, the language of The Church. The Bishop of Gloucester had found that when he surveyed 311 deacons, archdeacons, and clerics that 168 were unable to repeat the Ten Commandments, 31 did not even know where they could be found, and 40 could not even repeat the Lord’s Prayer. Luther later wrote in the Large Catechism about this being the case in Germany as well.

Wycliffe was considered a major philosopher and was also a respected theologian. Wycliffe believed very strongly that the people should have access to the Scriptures in their own tongue. He railed against the corruption in The Church, and maintained “When men talk of The Church, they usually mean priests, monks, canons, and friars. But that should not be so. Whether a hundred popes and all the friars turned to cardinals, their opinions in matters of faith should not be accepted except in so far as they are founded on the Scripture itself.”

So Wycliffe organized the translation of the Bible into English. It is not known how many translators worked with him. Once the Bible was finished, it was transcribed by others. Currently, there are 170 copies of Wycliffe’s Bible in existence; an amazing number for a book 600 years old, especially keeping in mind how many hundreds of them must have been burned when they were declared heretical.

Wycliffe organized a whole new order of itinerant preachers that came to be known as Lollards. They journeyed throughout England, preaching against the corruption in the Church in the streets, the taverns, and anywhere else they could, and reading from the English Bible.

As Luther’s German Bible changed German, Wycliffe’s Bible changed English. Hundreds of new words entered the English vocabulary such as envy, godly, graven, humanity, frying pan, puberty, and many others. But Wycliffe was also very cautious in his translating. He made every attempt to translate word-for-word, thus many Latin words entered into the English language as well such as: emperor, justice, city, cradle, profession, suddenly, angel, multitude, and glorie. He was so careful that the Latin sentence structure was even retained, so there were sentences such as “Lord, go from me for I am a man sinner” and “I forsooth the Lord they God strong and jealous.”(1)

In May of 1872, a Synod met at Blackfriars and two days into the meeting, it was Wycliffe was pronounced a heretic, and that his associates be arrested. Wycliffe became ill and had a stroke which left him paralyzed. He died two years later and was buried in Lutterworth. The Lollards continued their work, and it was even stated that “Every 2nd man is a Lollard, going about converting nobles and the wealthy to their cause. (1)”

Wycliffe is called “The Morning Star of the Reformation,” and his theology is touted as being the closest to Luther’s of all pre-reformation theologians. He stated that there is one Universal church of which no pope could head, he condemned the sale of indulgences; taught predestination; argued against Scholasticism (formation of doctrine by attempting to explain how things such as the Real Presence happen, when the Bible does not give us such information) saying "we concern ourselves with the verities that are, and leave aside the errors which arise from speculation on matters which are not."; that the king is a higher temporal power than any bishop, cardinal, or pope; his later writings declared that he didn’t see much of a difference between the pope and “antichrist ;“ and he confessed justification by faith: "If a man believe in Christ, and make a point of his belief, then the promise that God hath made to come into the land of light shall be given by virtue of Christ, to all men that make this the chief matter.(2)(3)" All common teachings to the Lutheran ear.

Wycliffe’s work went on to directly influence the work of Jan Hus and Martin Luther as well as when his work was re-embraced upon the dawn of the English Reformation.

In 1415, at the Council of Constance, where Jan Hus was condemned and then burned at the stake, the Catholic Church reexamined Wycliffe’s work and even though he was already dead, placed him under papal ban (2). It was ordered that his body be exhumed and burned. The ashes were dumped in to a tributary of the River Avon.

There is a Lollard “prophecy” which states:

Avon to the Seven runs,
The Seven to the sea;
and Wycliffe’s dust shall spread as broad
wide as the waters be.

And so they were.


1. The Adventure of English – The Reformation (History Channel documentary thought I was joking)
2. Wikipedia – John Wycliffe

Now for the Carnival!:

We start off submission by Dan at Necessary Roughness. In The Feast of All Saints, Dan has an interesting take on the invocation of saints and reminds us that we commemorate the dead in Christ for the benefit of the living. Then he shares a post by Gina at Simul Justis et Pecatur called "Day 62: Happy Reformation."

Along the same line, and written by a friend of mine who doesn't know I am submitting this, "Here I Stand, I Can Do No Other" at Random Neural Firings from a real DogMom. She writes about how Luther modeled for us the Christian responsibility of pointing out the errors of our brothers and sisters in Christ, not just to sit there and let it be unspoken. As she puts it "Even if it's family. Even if it hurts. Even if we don't like it." She effectively conveys how difficult and painful it can be, as well.

Weekend Fisher of Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength, shares a post with us that she also submitted to the Christian Reconciliation Carnival, whose topic was to name was to name the one contribution your church body or denomination makes to Christianity as a whole. Her response from the Lutheran view was The cross is our theology. It really is beautiful. The other contributors' responses can be seen in Christian Reconciliation Carnival #9 She also adds this statement to us:Read the other responses, what the other people think their groups do best, and know this: we Lutherans need to get out more. It's not enough that we have Christ at the center; the Reformation isn't finished til all of Christendom has Christ at the center and nobody writes in saying their church's strong suit is anything other than Christ crucified. This month's reconciliation carnival could have been subtitled "Why I am a Lutheran". It also could have been subtitled "Why Lutherans need to talk more."

Paul Siems at Not Alone ponders "are we in need of a new reformation or of a return to The Reformation? When the issue of reformation arises, who is in need of this reformation and who brings this reformation to fruition? These questions are addressed in his post simply titled"Reformation" .

Pastor Walter Snyder submitted two posts. The first: Baptism - "In the Name" or "In the Names"? So asks someone uncomfortable with an alternate wording of the baptismal formula. Pastor Snyder's reply at Ask the Pastor urges "as is" repetition of Christ's words for reasons of doctrine and assurance to those of weak faith. His second post, The Law, Moses, and Jeremiah examines how understanding the meaning of Law in the context of Torah helps interpret much of the Old and New Testaments.

Kletos Somboulos of Amor et Labor shares thoughts on John 2: 23-25 as informed by Dr. Luther in Jesus knows what is in man.

Lutheran hymnody spawned a three-part hagiography at Aardvark Alley as Aardie noted the commemoration of Nicolai, Heermann, and Gerhardt, Hymn Writers. Another observance from the Alley was All Saints' Day's lesser known companion, the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.

This makes a nice transition into something else that was written on by a few bloggers this week: music and liturgy!

Dan at Necessary Roughness shares Old and New at Our Saviour. Dan's church celebrated the Formula Missae et Communionis, and Dan had the opportunity to serve as Cantor. There are two snippets of solos for your perusal and comment.

Ritewinger presents
You tell them, Dr. posted at TheoCon. I personally liked his quote from Dr. Schalk "those of you who are pastors and those who will be, sing the liturgy, Why? Because we're Lutherans, and thats what we do."

And for the heck of it, I'm going to submit one of my own, Feeling Foreign, that talks about my struggles sitting in a blended worship service a few weeks ago.

So that's it for the Carnival this time around. God bless, everybody, and happy reading!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blue Tea meme

Okay, Jane tagged me.

She writes:

It was started by a lady who has a blog called Blue Tea. (Thus the name!)
According to the original poster, the rules for this meme are: “Devise a list of 5-10 courses you would take to fix your life. It’s more fun to be in classes with friends, so include one class from the person who tagged you that you’d also like to take. Tag five.”

Child Development - I'm hoping for more recent developments, because half of the stuff I learned was rubbish (I'm feeling British today, apparently), and I don't remember the other half.

Woodworking and Home Repairs - I am completely inadequate at this stuff and it scares me.

Arts and Crafts - The same as the above.

Personal Finance - 'nuff said

German - I LOVE German, but I haven't retained enough of it

Guitar - its sittin' in my closet

Music Theory - I love it, just don't understand the nuances and what a composer is trying to convey through his music by doing this or that.

Church History - At least beyond "...and the Bible ends there and then (huge gap) and then Martin Luther became a monk because he was caught in a thunderstorm, ran under a tree, and prayed to St. Anne for safety -- and promised if he lived he'd become a monk...and NEVER stand under a tree in a lightening storm....when he was a monk he started reading the Bible. He became mad at John Tetsel who was selling indulgences so he posted the 95 theses...'here I stand I can do no other'....he married Katherine Von Bora" (huge gap) the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock to find a place where they could practice their religion in freedom and then they tar and feathered each other and burned anybody they thought was a witch. And then the liberal professors left the St. Louis seminary and formed what eventually became the ELCA. And that leaves us at today...."

I'm with Jane on Organic Gardening. I'm wondering if the master gardener class at the extention would do that. A gentleman in our congregation who has a big beautiful old John Deere tractor is going to till for me next year!!!

Domestic Arts -- I hate sewing. But I do wish I was better at it, at least to give my daughter a chance to learn to like it...and even my son. Oh well, I love to cook. Viva la Food Network. But are culture is so robbed of the feminine artisanship of creating a good home that used to be valued. I value it, but I feel incompetent at just about all factors of it.

HTML - So I could make my blog look like what I want and I could fix that dumb list link that I know freezes up everybody's computer for a minute when they get on my site and Jane's....GRRRRR

I went for the full ten. Can you tell I'd rather be in a class than just about anywhere else???

So I tag Designated Knitter, Laura, Kim, Polly, and my husband - though he doesn't blog and is taking classes at the seminary right now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Chris!!!

Can you believe it?????? This darling 1 week old is

this 11 year old!!!!
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

7 Things About ME

A while back I was tagged for this...7 Things About Me. If you haven't done it yet...consider yourself tagged!

1. I don't like using the phone. Ever since my behaviorism professor in college demonstrated how it was operant conditioning and that we will put our lives on hold any time it rings, I have come to despise it. I like the computer better. I can deal with communication on my time, and I don't feel like I am interfering with someone else's life.

2. My truly "happy place" is Dodger Stadium. It can be peaceful and calming, it can be raucous. I can feel truly alone there, or part of a huge united community.

3. I own a Catahoula Leopard Dog, and he is amazing. (he looks like the third puppy down...but BIGGER now)

4. If I could go back to college again, I think I'd take all the classes that interested me, and then look back after a few years and see what major I am closest to.

5. I once dated a guy primarily because he had a red 1965 Mustang (in the end it wasn't a great idea. He wasn't a great guy, and cars that don't have air conditioners are not a good idea in Las Vegas in the summertime).

6. My sweetie and I met at Arrowhead Lutheran Camp where we were both camp counselors (and last I heard, yes, it is okay). I'm glad he liked me back, because I was his boss, and the statute of limitations is up on sexual harassment.

7. My camp name was "Dewey." Short for Morning Dew. People got a kick out of that because I am NOT a morning person, but I argue that Dew just lays around all morning, and then in the afternoon it is off doing other things. It fit. And they wouldn't let me have "Bobkitten." Meowwrr.

Okay, if you are reading and you haven't done this yet, I tag you. I know I'm way behind on the trendy memes at the moment. And this includes you, Designated Knitter and Not Worthy!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Feeling Foreign

I know there are people who are not Lutheran who read this blog, so I'm giving you a warning. I am going to show my confessional Lutheran roots here (they are brunette with streaks of gray...oh wait, wrong roots).

Fifteen years ago, if you'd told me I would be liturgical, I would've laughed in your face. I was raised with the liturgy, and found it drab compared to the contemporary services I'd attended. Even several years after I understood and agreed with why the liturgy should be used, I still struggled with the reality of it. But once I had kids and had it memorized so that I could concentrate on the words and what they were saying (believe it or not, like with meditation, memorization actually helps you dig into the meat of the service, it doesn't make it more rote), I really began to appreciate the beauty of it, and (gasp) sometimes it even provokes an emotional reaction, it is so beautiful or applies so readily to where I need God to speak to me.

I'd been in the contemporary worship scene. I'd loved it. But I had also been in situations where the law that is so often involved with it obscured the gospel and left me feeling condemned because I didn't feel anything, or I was aching for the gospel and it wasn't there - because it was so fixated on what I was doing for Christ. The liturgy gives me both, and it unites me with Christians who have been worshiping that way for almost 2000 years, and Jews had done so before that. Christ was liturgical. It takes everything away from me and instead, it becomes about Christ feeding me with His holy Word, line after beautiful line.

Last Sunday I was in an LCMS church that uses blended worship -- not really our choice, we were requested to be there by a friend. Blended worship is often utilized by Lutheran churches to give the service a liturgical "format" so that it feels vaguely familiar to Lutherans, but is supposedly relevant to strangers coming into the church. Anything that might be offensive was removed. The wording to the confession was mellowed, and the absolution, rather than being the pastor pronouncing absolution because he forgives us our sins, he merely assures of that we have been forgiven. There was no creed. Thankfully, there was no communion either at that service.

Since there is such a focus on what a stranger to the Lutheran church experiences when they come into that congregation, I thought I'd share what a person who embraces liturgical worship feels like in such situations. Because I too was a stranger there.

While the words were up on the wall because of the Power Point projector, I felt like an alien. The words which were committed in my heart were different. The musical responses were not the same. Rather than something that openly and richly in few words proclaimed the glory of Christ, instead, simple repeated chants like "Oh Christ you are glorious" were repeatedly sung. He is glorious, I'll grant that. The liturgy instead though, in as short a time explains WHO is glorious, WHAT He did that is glorious, WHY He is glorious, and even sometimes HOW He did something glorious and WHERE He is now...and that we will be with Him there, too (WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW....traits that my 7th grade English teacher taught me were necessary for judging whether a non-fiction piece was really doing its job in conveying important information).

During this service, I struggled with my sinful flesh more than I usually do in church. I didn't want to be snobby. I didn't want to just say "oh, this modern stuff is crud." I could believe that the liturgy is a superior vessel for proclaiming the gospel but still could try to focus on the Word of God that was there. But it was SO hard. Like I said, the substance of what was conveyed was so much less. But it was there. The Powerpoint presentation told us where we were in the service, but it seemed like it could just as easily stated "Kyrie - Lord Have Mercy" as it could've said "anthem" and then the strangers and members alike are educated. The gospel lines in the liturgy were replaced by lines that were about what I am doing for God. The sermon, while I do believe I was blessed and edified by it, again contained about 5 lines of gospel, and it was the token "Jesus does this in our hearts." I was exhausted by the end of the service, because I wanted so desperately to honor God in the service and not miss His Word because I resented how dumbed down the service was. Even the benediction was law. I went out knowing that I had struggled with myself, that I was partially fed, and while I do think these observations are accurate and good, I could not unmingle my sinful self from it, and the pastor's efforts to do His job were so confused that he did not make that task easier for me, instead he bound my conscience.

I am not writing this to offend anyone who uses contemporary worship or blended worship. I hope that it is clear that while I have no intention to embrace these types of worship, that I really tried to receive God's Word in the venue that was there before me that day. But there is a different purpose in contemporary/blended worship than there is in liturgical worship.

Contemporary is about individual experience. When I was in a Christian Contemporary church , you close your eyes, sway to the rhythm, raise your hands, and are open to where the music and the message take you (btw, the way you could tell this was Lutheran is that no one was raising their hands). It is also about what I am doing for God. Liturgy is a "we" experience. While you are still an individual, everything is God feeding His people, and His people's joint response to being fed. This is the same response through the ages right up to this time, and along with the saints in Heaven. I am there being fed by God along with the rest of the body of Christ, in heaven and on earth. The spiritual reality of that is a much greater sense of awe than I ever felt when I went to a really good contemporary service where my soul did not feel weighted down by my sin.

I honestly don't know why I am writing this. Maybe just to let those of you Lutherans who embrace blended worship that in your appeal to be more "relevant" or to "reach out to the community," your rejection of a common manner of worship actually does cause pain to some who come in and sit in the pews. When we walk out at the end and never come back, it isn't because we are snooty. It is because your rejection of something so precious to me and to the history of our church breaks my heart (the liturgy does not alienate those who are young in the faith, by the way. often, it gives them a clearly different culture than the one that they are leaving, and it is a blessing). When I see that LCMS cross on your sign, I should be able to go in and feel at home. I should receive proof that every Sunday we are raising our voices together, even in different locales. The expression of your congregational personality should be in your handshake and your smile, maybe in the flourishes of your church musician, in the manner of your pastor, and how you show love the love of Christ.

The best way that I know how to explain it is this:

I had a good friend in school who for various reasons decided that she was going to change her first and last name to try to give herself a fresh start in life. Whatever the reason why she wanted to do this, and she chose to look at it optimistically, a fresh start and all that -- her family was really hurt. Her father considered his name to be a gift to her...and she was rejecting the name they gave her at her birth. The new name made her seem like a stranger. She didn't understand why her family would struggle with this or see this as a rejection of them. No matter how much they tried to understand, they still felt rejected, and she saw this rejection as a lack of support for her. This wasn't a situation where she was walking away from cruel, domineering parents. I couldn't help but look at what she was doing and because of the price, see it as extreme...she was attempting to throw away her whole identity -- including a lot of things that were good, in favor of something that was nebulous and undefined. Yet she didn't see that she could be a great person (and in fact was a great person) and still hold on to the things that tied her to her roots. She was (and she would admit this) too scared to dig deep to find the person she really was within that context.

That is how I see contemporary and blended worship in the LCMS. Throwing away the liturgy is throwing away precious gifts that unite us all together. With that, often comes a simpler - but a shallower form of worship...and also along with that, other things are lost, too. Soon, the Lutheran understanding of communion fellowship, the office of the ministry, and sometimes even Scripture itself is lost, and while the name Lutheran might be there, all the parts that make the name Lutheran mean something are gone.

Rather than throwing out our all the traditions and rituals of our "family," it would be wiser to find the definition of who we are back in our family tree. It gives a context.

I just know, sitting in that pew last Sunday, I became painfully aware not of the shallowness of the service...but of what has been lost to this congregation...and so many others.

Wow!! A Few Minutes Alone!!!

Things have been busy here...and that is an understatement. I have been working again, which is a task that seems to simultaneously preserve and jeopardize my sanity...but it is a part time job with a sporadic schedule that works well with my husband' no children are neglected during this venture.

We also went to the Indiana District Pastor's Conference, which was very nice. I love this district's conference. It is so family friendly. The hotel lends to that very well, too. Last year, it wasn't in Columbus, and the location was VERY missed.

Now, we are all fighting colds because of two weeks of eating fast food and of course, a contagious virus that has managed to infect all of us. Zicam - save us!!!

In the last couple of weeks, I have had so many things that I have wanted to blog about. So I am so tempted to just dump it all out there, but I can't do that. They'll all be back from Walmart soon ;)

Friday, October 19, 2007

More from Harry Potter

This article just made the presses within the last couple of days

Albus Dumbledore is gay

And this is directly from the lips of the author.

A while ago, I wrote a post expressing my concern about the ending of the last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. **SPOILER ALERT** It is clear in her stories that Harry Potter is a Christ figure. He is meant to save everyone from the evil Voldemort by sacrificing himself. It is made clear in the last book that Harry must die in order to defeat Voldemort. Yet Harry does not die. In the end, it is stated by Dumbledore that it was only important that Harry was willing to die in order to defeat Voldemort. He passed out when Voldemort attacked him, and then regained consciousness. A veritable *swoon theory* in action.

When I posted my concerns, I was reassured by my Lutheran theolgian friends that Rowling clearly is a Christian, and the sacramentology that is throughout the books clearly show that. She is writing more in a Tolkien sense rather than a C.S. Lewis sense - less literal, less willing to make the story a tight allegory, even though Harry's walking into Voldemort's camp was so clearly parallel to Aslan walking into the White Witch's clutches.

Okay, I could see that as a possibility. She didn't want to make Harry into Christ. But it still troubled me. There are too many people who wear the label Christian who don't believe that Christ died and rose again. I expressed that I wished I knew where her beliefs were. The only thing I could find was that she was Church of Scotland, which is a liturgical, sacramental church that also is known for its all-inclusiveness of beliefs and its encouragement that everyone "work it all out for themselves and decide where they stand on Scripture, etc.."

When Rowling issued that pronouncement, those possibilities became much less possible to me. If she is willing to make an admirable father figure - a Merlin or a Gandalf - and make his sexuality an issue when it NEVER had to be, she was showing her true colors. Yes, I know that it doesn't specifically state that she doesn't believe that Jesus died and rose again, but it does show that she is willing to snip God's Word into the bits and pieces that she wants to take and create her own gospel, her own God.

And that destroys other people's faith. We live in a world where it is hard to take God's word at face value. When we hear that someone may go to Hell because of the sins that they are embracing and placing above God's Word, it is hard for us. But we know perfectly wonderful people who live with each other in a non-marital sexual relationship. We know really great gay people. etc. How could God want to damn them. Truly wonderful characters in literature do that for us as well. Albus Dumbledore is a wise, loving man who fought for the good of all and sacrificed himself to the utmost. Yet he was being gay can't be all that bad, right? So our flawed human reason goes, if it is not trusting in God's Word.

Not only that, but she did something that is despicable in literary criticism. Many times anymore, when you look at strong friendships between two people of the same sex in classic works of literature (or in the Bible, or in history), the literary critic, the academic rushes to say that they are a clear indication that it was a gay relationship. Rowling intentionally set up a relationship that showed nothing more than a friendship between two young men with similar dreams - and then later, looking back at her own work, she points out that she intended this to show forth as a homosexual relationship.

I am not a Harry Potter attacker. I have read every book and eagerly awaited each one as it came out. My son is reading Sorcerers Stone now. I see a lot that is worthwhile in these books. However, truly good children's fiction often has two messages - one that the children enjoy, and one that is meant to be picked up later. It has become clear that Rowling fully intended to propogate a liberal agenda at the same time that she is telling us a wonderfully imaginative yarn full of social morality and good and evil. Yet in that good vs. evil, she is constantly using things that sets us off balance - things that we typically associate with evil -- and she makes them good. And in some ways -- she is taking things that have been typically associated with good -- the wise, fatherly wizard that keeps us safe by his power and presence (Merlin, Gandalf - who both did have to go away and let the battles be fought) -- and associating them with things that have through time been considered evil -- and then she took the most important thing of all -- and portrayed it as paltry compared to what it really and truly was.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good News!!

Our congregation voted to switch to Lutheran Service Book by unanimous vote. It was peaceful and fun, and the most controversy was whether to get our church name imprinted on the covers...and that final decision was simply "if we have enough money in time to get it."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Back in the Swing of Things???

I'm a working mom again.....

In August, I was walking across the street to the grocery store, contemplating our tight finances when I just prayed that God would provide. Right at that very moment, a field manager from the university that I have worked for doing field interviewing for social science studies left a message on an answering machine to offer me a position on one of the studies that was coming up. After she told me about it, I quickly said yes. It is interesting and it is incredibly flexible so those two traits make it a good position to have when you share a car with a pastor and homeschool as well.

Anyway, I spent the last week in a conference hotel for training. The training was about as interesting as trainings go, but it was a week in a hotel room all to myself, where I didn't have to cook for anyone, do dishes for anyone, do laundry for anyone but me, and the bed was comfy and the food was beyond words -- and all of it was free. In fact, I was getting paid to be there.

The only arduous side, I didn't have any contact with the outside world, and by that I mean the Internet. So I didn't get to see what my husband was spending, I didn't get to talk to friends, check my email, or BLOG!! (gasp). On the other hand -- I was amazed at how simple life could be. :)
(and I got to see my friend Cheryl!!!)
So here I am, starting to get appointments to conduct interviews, canning apples with my kids (the Saturday before I left, we were invited to a parishoner's house who has an apple orchard and came away with a few butter and apple sauce are slowly but surely accruing in my pantry), and trying to figure out how I find time to do the stuff I love to do on the computer (like blogging), when I am already working from a computer half the time.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Back to Blogging....

Sorry, I've been away at a work training with NO access to a computer that wasn't restricted from the internet.....but, its back to the real world now...

I saw this on Barb the Evil Genius's Blog.....How could I resist???? says I'm a History / Lit Geek.  What are you?  Click here!

Woo-hoo!!! There is nothin' better!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Goodbye Dear Friend

Today was spent (well, it seems like all day) taking my 12 year old cat Alyosha to the vet. He hadn't been eating. Now he hadn't even been drinking. My cat...the one who came running to the sound of running water. The one around whom no water glass was safe. Alyosha stayed behind. He was dealing with liver failure. He was in a lot of pain. He was vomiting and severely dehydrated. It was time.

Twelve years is a long time. He probably was nearly exactly the same age as my dog Sophie, who was put to sleep last February. Honestly, I don't think Alyosha has been the same since Sophie has been gone. They were good buddies. The first year we had Alyosha (named thus because I was reading Brothers Karamazov at the time. Poor cat) he was an ornery little thing. He would attack us in the middle of the night, tearing into achilles tendons in the dark. He would get mad and hold grudges. But most of the time he was also affectionate. We got him when we were on vicarage, and I would come home from the church office to check on him, and I would sit in a chair and he would jump up on my chest, purring like a maniac. We got him in Yuma, and I was determined that I wanted a female calico (as if there is any other kind of calico. But he was in the cage with the rest of his littermates, and he climbed up the grating, meowing louder than anyone else. He was only about the length that his paw would eventually be, and he had the bluest eyes....eventually they went green, but they were still beautiful).

For many years he had no use for my husband. He was the one who took him to the vet to have him declawed, and the one to have him neutered. I was the "rescuer" both times. I brought him home.

But when we brought Sophie home, the cat ran around the corner to greet us and stopped in his tracks. Shock and then sheer hate were on his face. From then on, all that anger and aggression was focused on Sophie...yet Sophie had so much fur, she never felt a thing. Sometimes the vicious beast would try to attack her belly, and Sophie would happily just lay down upon the poor pictured above. If Sophie was ever aware that the cat had any ill will toward her, she never showed it. Eventually, they became friends and as cat mellowed, they became close friends.

He wasn't a wuss. He didn't hide from strangers. He didn't really bother them either. He didn't hide under the bed (honestly, when he started doing that yesterday, I knew things were serious). You also couldn't ask for a better cat for my children. He was always gentle with them, slow to pick a fight. If he bit them, it was generally evident that they truly deserved it, and he was gentle, even then, giving them plenty of warning. He was huge. When we took him in for a checkup last February, he was 18 pounds, and he wasn't overweight. He was very big for a cat. He showed many "Maine Coon" characteristics. He'd lost so much weight in the last month, but his fluff hid a lot of it. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect cat.

So since I was the one who brought him home, I was the one who watched him leave this world, petting him and crying all the while. It also occurs to me that with his passing and Sophie's passing, an era of our lives is gone. Our dog Scully, our rabbits, and whatever cat we get next in a few months will be for the kids. They will be the ones swearing to take care of it, excited about getting it. Sophie and Alyosha were for my husband and me. They were there before the kids were even a thought.

Despite what you may think about cats in general, he was my friend.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


One of the hot issues on the Lutheran blogosphere is good works. There tend to be two positions in Lutheranism right now on this topic.

Now first, let me define the term Law, since some of the people who come here aren't Lutheran. Lutheran's divide the Bible into two parts...the Law and the Gospel. The Law is not simply the Torah, the Gospel is not simply Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Law is ANYTHING in the Bible which tells us what WE should do. The Gospel is ANYTHING in the Bible which tells us what Christ did FOR us.

Two very important things, because ONLY the Gospel saves us, and in regards to our salvation, there is NOTHING that we do to help save ourselves.

Now another key point to Lutheran theology is that we are only saved through the Holy Spirit. Through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments (Holy Baptism and Holy Communion), He brings us to faith (we don't choose Christ) and sustains us in that faith. We are a new creation, and throughout the rest of our lives in dealing with the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh, the Holy Spirit is continually strengthening us and leading us through the Word and the Sacraments.

Now one of the basic Lutheran teachings about the Law is that it has three uses. We often will categorize them according to First Use, Second Use, and Third Use.

The first use of the law is this: That it restrains sin -- and applies to unbelievers as well as believers. By teaching that there is right and wrong and penalty for right and wrong, evil is somewhat contained. This is clearly shown in the society that the Jews set up where anyone in their midst was punished for breaking God's law, sinners were looked down upon rather than glorified, etc. This law, we have written on our hearts. Deep down, we all know right from wrong but choose whether to ignore it or not.

The second use of the law is more important: It shows us our sin. When we really look at the law, we see we can in no way live up to God's standards of keeping it. This is the most important use of the Law because it leads a person to repentance and to a desire for the Gospel. If the Gospel does not follow when a person is truly contrite, then they can become despairing. This also plays a strong roll once we come to faith. When we look at the law, we know we fall short, so we are constantly returning to the forgiveness that was won on the cross.

The third use, as I was taught in confirmation, is that now that we are believers, the law tells us how we are to live. We are still going to sin and fall short. We are never going to do it perfectly, but we return to Christ for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit himself has the role of sanctifying us (teaching us) and guiding us in how God wants us to live. He also gives us the strength to do so through the Word and Sacraments.

The debate, as I see it, is this. There is one group that maintains that the only use of the law is to show us what Christ did for us. These verses are not there as examples to show us how we are supposed to try to live. The Holy Spirit living inside us and teaches us that and works through us to accomplish His will.

(If I am wrong in how I portray this position, please correct me).

The other position, which I believe is held by most Lutherans, is that when we are washed in the waters of Holy Baptism and we have faith, we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. As long as we have our sinful flesh, that regeneration will never be perfect, but that WE begin to want the things that God wants. We want to do what He wants us to do. So when we see the things in the Bible where it tells us to love our neighbor or refrain from immoral practices, or to strive after things, WE are actually striving and struggling to do this. The Holy Spirit is guiding us through the Word, even these words of Law, and making us want to do them. But that we are indeed part of that, because through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, we are constantly being brought closer into we should've been before the Fall, but that it is a long process that will not reach its culmination until we are in Heaven with God.

The reason why I struggle with the first position is that there are some statements of Law which clearly apply to us and not to Christ, because they are telling us to follow Him, be like Him (Be imitators of me just as I also am of Christ - I Corinthians 11:1 comes to mind as one of many). The Bible also tells us clearly to "do this" or "don't do this" and holds us accountable for that.

The other issue is when I read Luther. Let's take the Ten Commandments. Every single explanation to every commandment (from the 2nd on) starts out with "We are to fear and love God SO THAT WE do not.........but (and then tells us what we are supposed to do)."

Now I agree that the 2nd use always applies here. When I look at the Ten Commandments, I am convicted of my sin. I know I have broken the commandment, and I surely haven't gone beyond and shown love to my God or my neighbor. But then there is this.

Luther and Melancthon (in the Augsburg Confession and its Apology) clearly point out that we cannot fear and love God unless we have faith. If we do not have faith, we respond with either despair or anger toward God. When we have faith, we do fear his judgement and what can happen if we give ourselves over to sins and let them rule over us, but we also love Him as our dear father, and this mirrors the relationship we have with our parents. We fear getting in trouble - and sometimes that is motivation enough to do well, but we also love them and don't want to hurt them, and so we try to please them as well. Not because they will withdraw their love from us, but because that relationship is based on love. Generally more mature love from the parent, and growing love from the child.

Is our obedience perfect? Nope. Not at all. And often as parents, we see efforts at obedience from our kids and overlook the faults in execution. God does this as well. I can't keep His law perfectly. I am going to have bad or selfish thoughts in the process, or I am not going to do exactly what I want, and at times I rebel. But when we are saved in Christ, the imperfect obedience is reckoned as perfect obedience. IN NO WAY does this contribute to our salvation. But even though they aren't perfect, God is still pleased from the good works that come from faith. He is pleased with us, and He forgives whatever part falls short.

Now that is my understanding of how good works work. And not being able to grasp the position that we have no part in our sanctification, I do have a question that has been the key point of my struggle with these two perspectives....

If the only purpose of the law is to show us what Christ has done, then by what means does the Holy Spirit use to sanctify us?

Because I see the Law being a part of that. Being saved, I want to please God, but I have to know HOW to do His will and what I am supposed to do. The Holy Spirit works through God's Word and through the Sacraments to strengthen my faith and forgive my sins and to constantly sanctify me....but isn't one of the ways He does it through the Word is when I read something like " and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks" (Ephesians 5:4). One time, it can convict me, because I might have been silly or coarse at one time or another. The next time, when I am in a situation where I might be tempted to do so, maybe that time the Holy Spirit reminds me of this verse that I have read, and I refrain from doing so. I see that as the Holy Spirit sanctifying me through the third use of the law regarding this particular verse.

The problem that I see is that if the Holy Spirit is not using God's Word to lead us to a life of sanctification, then how do we distinguish between what is the Holy Spirit and what is our own whim or will? I see a risk of if the indwelling of the Spirit is guiding us completely outside the Law in what we should be doing as far as good works, then we might simply be in the exact same place as the very people we criticize who claim that God told them what to do and what to say regardless of what Scripture says.

These are just some thoughts that have been going on in my head for some time. I am not fixated on the Christian living section at the local bookstore, but I have read Luther, Walther, Chemnitz, and the Book of Concord, and the idea that we are to pay attention to what we do and strive to do good and avoid evil is something that comes up a myriad of traditional Lutheran writings. The fear is always that focus on works will take our eyes off of Christ's saving grace. But our good works are supposed to flow from that, not distract us from it. Without faith, these works amount to nothing, but that doesn't mean that we don't need to be taught what is good and what is bad, and I believe that God uses the Law to guide us to that. When I do something because I want to do love God and my neighbor, that might be law-based, but it is done out of faith.

I am not always perfect with theological terms. I am not always perfect in expressing myself, and I admit, I am not where I should be in understanding. I am writing this because I would like to understand more where the differences are in these to perspectives, and learn to understand both more clearly. So I would love discussion here, but polite discussion.

Thanks...God bless.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Carnival, A Carnival!!!

Lutheran Carnival LIX (59) is up at Full Throttle and an Empty Gas Tank!! Many thanks to Disgruntled World Citizen for hosting, and for the wonderful profile on John Behnken, a former president of the LCMS.

I wonder if Luther was wearing a pumpkin on his head when he nailed the 95 theses to the door? It was Halloween, after all (and Nevada Admissions Day -- three great holidays all wrapped up in one).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Just Do What You're Told....

Okay, a couple of months ago, I said that I was going to start reading Chemnitz's The Lord's Supper. I did...but then I stopped. I got stumped around chapter 4 for a while until I actually had time to sit down and think it through, and that time didn't come until yesterday in the bathtub. (I always think better in the bathtub.)

I'm not going to get into chapter 4 just yet, even though I found it completely fascinating. Chapter 2 was really great, too...and I haven't written about that yet. I've only written about how in Chapter 1, Chemnitz asserts that the Words of Institution were left to us by Christ as His last will and testament, and in any situation, it would be completely unethical and dishonorable to try to look at a person's last will and testament and try to make it say anything other than what it really says.

Chapter 2 delves into how we form dogma. Many of the dogmas that we have in Christianity are written of many times in the Bible, and so if we are confused on them, we can go to other verses to become more clear. Almost always, that is a solid way of looking at Scripture, after all -- Scripture interprets Scripture is what we Lutherans always long as we are using verses that pertain to the same issue.

But the fact of the matter is, the Lord's Supper did not exist before Jesus instituted it on Maundy Thursday. The only place we have to establish our doctrine is in those verses -- in Christ's own words on the subject. So when other denominations seek their theology on the matter from other verses in other parts of the Bible....they are bringing in something irrelevant really to back up their preconceived notions. Jesus told the disciples specifically what they needed to know about Holy Communion...that the bread IS His body and that the wine IS His blood, and that they are given to us to eat for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus later repeated these words to Paul, and when Paul tries to resolve the arguments resolving Communion in the Corinthian church, he doesn't take his doctrine from elsewhere - not even from the Passover meal. He ONLY goes back to Jesus's words. (I Corinthians 11:23-34).

Chemnitz then quotes Theodore Beza, the reformer who succeeded Calvin argued along with Calvin that while they say that the body and blood are present, they are really only spiritually present because they are communicated through faith, because in reality, Christ is very far away. Beza even asserts that this presence and communication are "truer, more efficacious, and more significant than if the body and blood are received orally."

Chemnitz writes:

But Christ in the institution of His Supper does not teach the dogma of the presence and communication of His body and blood in such a way that he has permitted us to speculate or to draw our own definition from other Scripture passages and thus beleive or hold whatever kind of presence or communication in the Supper we wish. For He Himself defined it this way in the words of institution when He speaks of our oral reception of the Sacrament: "Take eat; this is My body." Thus we are not permitted to argue about which presence and communication are more significant and fitting, but that we reverently believe and hold that presence which the Son of God has given us in the words of His last will and testament, even though it may seem absurd to our human reason. For we must not take only certain points from the words of institution and then bring in from elsewhere the rest of the points as they seem good to us, but rather we must judge and teach the whole dogma of the Lord's Supper on the basis of the passage in which we find the true and proper setting of the doctrine.