Monday, September 29, 2008

Political Ideology

I haven't had a chance to figure out what happened with the bailout, other than the five seconds I got watching t.v. before my six year old claimed her "divinely-appointed" right to watch "Fetch withRuff Ruffman."

But I did get a glimmer of a Representative from the Democratic Black Caucus talking about how his caucus put aside their desires, emotions, etc. in order to vote for the bailout, but that 65% of the Republican Congress chose to put political ideology above the well-being of the nation.

The problem with that statement is that political ideology is not something that you put above or below the well-being of the nation. Political ideology is what shapes your view as to WHAT is good for the nation.

The Republican Party has a set of ideals that are, I would hope, what would make a politician choose to become Republican. If one agrees with the Democratic platform, then one would hopefully be a Democrat. These are not just excuses to get into a fight, these are firmly held beliefs as to how the government should work -- how it should serve the people who are its citizens.

I also want to make one thing clear: I keep hearing on the news that "people just think this is going to be a rescuing of the fat cats, not that this is going to effect them in getting car loans, personally, etc." I completely understand that the failure of this bailout bill will effect me personally, possibly terribly. But I would rather see that than see my government ignore our Constitution and socialize almost our entire banking industry. A good portion of this was caused by the government's meddling in the banking industry. This bailout means that the government would be telling the banking industry who they could and couldn't loan to now as well. I think that it is better to deal with an economic recession, panic, or depression than to throw our Constitutional Rights out the window. I do not want to see the beginning of another New Deal. I am not going to just change my mind once I realize I can't get my loans. I think the banking world and the government needs to sit down and re-evaluate who they should be loaning money to in the first place.

I wrote letters to my Representatives and my Senators this week. And the main thing I told them was that I hoped they would not vote for this bailout. While I didn't like that they were bailing out Big Business and weren't exactly looking to bail ME out of my debt, that wasn't my big issue. My big issue was that the Constitution does NOT give them the right to do this. By bailing out these banks in the ways that Bush and Paulson have suggested, and that the Democratic party has embraced (oh, isn't that an irony???), they are socializing the investment banking industry.

See, a political ideology means "these are the boundaries that we can, in good conscience, work within." And I really do want my representatives to work within their consciences. The Republican party has as a main tenet of their ideology that they must work within the bounds of the Constitution and preserve the individual rights of the citizenry. I know that at times, I haven't been too happy with how they have done that, and I have been praying that they remembered that during this time. If they hold to this ideology, NO ANSWER IS THE RIGHT ANSWER THAT STEPS OUTSIDE THE BOUNDS OF THE CONSTITUTION.

Congressman Sauder was the one Representative that emailed me back, and when he did so, he enclosed a letter from the Senate Minority Leader Boehner to Nancy Pelosi, and it first stated an objection that Pelosi, Reid, and Frank had been portraying that they were close to a deal when really, there hadn't been much interparty discussion regarding a solution, but that they were confident that a joint solution could be found, and that their work last year on an Economic Stimulus Package suggested that.

He also included a list of principles that were sent to Speaker Pelosi that had to be met in order to get the vote of House Republicans.


I. Wall Street – Not Taxpayers – Should Fund the Recovery

The most troubling part of Sec. Paulson’s plan is that it relies wholly on taxpayer funds. House Republicans believe that rather than providing taxpayer funded purchases of frozen mortgage assets to solve this problem, any rescue package should adopt a plan to insure mortgage backed securities (MBS) through payment of insurance premiums.

Currently, the federal government insures approximately half of all MBS and can insure the rest of those still outstanding. However, rather than taxpayers funding the insurance, the holders of these assets should pay for it. The working group’s proposal would direct the Treasury Department to design a system to charge premiums to the holders of MBS to fully finance this insurance.

II. Private Capital – Not Tax Dollars – Should Be Injected Into Financial Markets

Instead of injecting taxpayer funds into the market to produce liquidity, private capital can be drawn into the market by removing burdensome regulatory and tax barriers that are currently blocking private capital formation. In short, too much private capital is sitting on the sidelines during this crisis, and it is well past time to unleash it.

Temporary tax relief provisions can help companies free up capital to maintain operations, create jobs, and lend to one another. In addition, the working group recommends a temporary suspension of dividend payments by financial institutions and other regulatory measures to address the problems surrounding private capital liquidity.

III. Immediate Transparency, Oversight, and Market Reform

Both Republicans and Democrats have made clear that they believe there is not a strong enough oversight component in Sec. Paulson’s plan. The House Republican working group’s proposal addresses this flaw. To begin, the plan would require participating firms to disclose to the Treasury Department the value of their mortgage assets on their books, the value of any private bids within the last year for such assets, and their last audit report. Additional safeguards include:

· To limit federal exposure for high risk loans, the working group’s recommendations mandate that Government Sponsored Entities no longer securitize any unsound mortgages.

· The plan would call on the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to audit reports of failed companies to ensure that the financial standing of these troubled companies was accurately portrayed.

· The blueprint would guarantee that Wall Street executives do not benefit from taxpayer funding.

· The proposal would call on the SEC to review the performance of the credit rating agencies and their ability to accurately reflect the risks of these failed investment securities.

· The working group recommends that Congress create a blue ribbon panel with representatives of Treasury, SEC, and the Federal Reserve Board to make recommendations to Congress for reforms of the financial sector by January 1, 2009.
These seem reasonable to me. And if they have not been met, I am proud of my Representatives for voting against it and continuing to seek a solution that will protect us, under our Constitution.

But this definitely is a time that we need to be praying for them, for our nation, our neighbor, and our world.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One Less Thing I Fell Guilty About

In the lower right hand corner, you'll now find a feed to MOST of the blogs that I read. Luckily, not everybody on their writes on a daily basis. But these are my friends...or at least people that I find very interesting.

I plan on separating them out by category, and sometime adding some of the "newsy" ones like Get Religion, Cranach, First Things, Steadfast Lutherans, etc, but I at least don't feel like such a sludge.

REVISED: Is it just my computer, or is the feeds link not showing up??? It looks like my sidebar is disappearing when I scroll down

RE-REVISED: Dang it. doesn't work. Maybe it is my 3rd party template.... :(

The Bailout

I am a student of history. I love history. I am no expert, but I've been fascinated with certain aspects ever since I was eighteen, and I heard Dr. Dobson make the statement that when the Roman Empire embraced immorality as a way of life, it quickly grew weak until it collapsed, and we are heading the same direction. That's a paraphrase, and no Dobson does not influence most of my life, but I found that interesting, because I never really considered the role that a culture's values play in how it prospers.

I've also found it fairly true, even in our own culture. I also remember a history teacher in junior high talking about how their is a typical economic cycle that involves prosperity, depression, war, recovery, and then prosperity again.

Often, when we think of morality, we automatically insert the word "sexual" in front of it. Yet, sexual mores in our country are just part of the sickness that we suffer from. Right now, we suffer from the idea that if we believe something will make us happy, we should have it, now. To put it nobly, we are a culture of pragmatists. To put it far worse, we are a country where a good portion of us have no self-control. We focus on temporary fixes to our discomfort, and we define both discomfort and happiness in a purely immediate way, completely divorced from values, and repercussions.

But one thing I have heard in the last week is very true. A healthy democracy is dependent on the people being good. Capitalism is dependent on businesses being good. Good as in behaving, good as in being ethical, good as being caring for their neighbor.

The measure for our the health of our country's economy is the GDP, or Gross Domestic Product. That means that when consumers believe that the future looks good, they spend money, the GDP goes up. But in a culture that spends on credit, this is a sham. People aren't spending the money they have, they are spending the money they hope to have. Small business, big business, and our government are doing the exact same thing. In a country where people are literally spending the money they make, it is a good indicator that people have jobs that are meeting their needs and allowing them to prosper. In a culture that is spending on credit, it can hide an awful lot. That is what happened in the 1920's, and that is what is happening now.

People who couldn't afford houses or the money issues that come with houses, that didn't have safe jobs, that didn't have good spending habits -- were given high interest loans by companies that didn't care -- they just added more interest. They preyed off the poor. They were not in this alone though. They were forced to do so by a government that threatened penalties for not being fair. The government encouraged bad lending policies by bad lenders who did it and still sought to benefit off of people who had no business borrowing or being loaned to. Then these companies took these risky loans and bundled them up into securities and bonds and sold them to investors, who bought them because if they worked, they would make even more money. Some investors were completely ignorant that their investments contained these subprime loans, or as many as they did.

Then, a lot of banking companies, bought these and bought too many. They didn't have enough assets that were liquid, to lean on. Simply put, they invested everything they had and didn't have any cash. No real money. So when the need came up for cash at the top, the house of cards fell.

The whole problem, from my perspective is that a little kid shouted from the sidewalk that the emperor has no clothes. Actually, the Investment Empire has no cash. This house of cards is falling from both ends. The foreclosures are leaving everyone from bottom up without cash....and this combines with the lack of responsible investing in the first place means that the Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc. have done the exact same thing. They invested money they don't have, and they want the government to give it to them.

We have not been temperate with our desires. From the bottom up and from the top down, with the financial gifts that God has given us personally and as a nation.

When you look at the Roman Empire, there came a point when they conquered so much, they became scared for their own welfare. They also fell into decadence. They weren't all healthy and ready for war. A soldier class developed, and they relied more and more on mercenaries, while they enjoyed the spoils of their empire. They feared for their borders. They sought to only keep control of what they had, and they grew increasingly afraid of losing what they had...until they did.

I believe that throwing money at the investment industry will not solve what will be a world crisis. It may delay it. But I honestly don't think that we will truly recover until we face hard times. We have houses that were built for people that can't afford it. We have entire nationwide industries that exist that are completely unnecessary (Petsmart and the like come to mind). We have grocery store chains that are completely dependent on being able to get food from across the world when most of us can get the food we need from local farmers, if those local farmers were refocused on feeding their own communities, rather than growing only two to three major crops, and only a couple of varieties of those making a blight much more probable at some time, and shipping the crops elsewhere. When we have people who throw their credit cards at what they want, and their 3/4 of their daily well-being relies on machinery that they themselves are completely ignorant on how to fix (me included).

The hard times can be a blessing from God, too, to return us to basics and teach us to provide for ourselves and to love our neighbor and depend on our neighbors, rather than being completely focused on our own needs.

I don't know if this will begin to happen Monday when the markets open. It could, depending on what Congress decides. If not, it will happen in the future. I fear that it will be even more serious if it doesn't happen soon, no matter how much I dread it.

But I don't believe we NEED a $700,000,000 rescue. I believe that this isn't recovering us to health, but replacing the conditions in which a cancer has been running rampant. Cancer treatment is terrible, risky, and painful, and it is right to fear it. But if it is not truly treated, but the pain only treated, then it continues to grow until there is no hope for the body. In the end, it is better to face the cancer and eradicate it, to endure pain and suffering that has hope of producing real health, than ignore it by popping another Tylenol.

God help us.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Divine Service, and Lazy Blogging

Since Christopher was so nice as to fed my ego give me a very sweet compliment, I stopped by his blog, St. Cynic. This team blog has some very good discussion over there, though the title does warn of some of the tone that you can find there. They definitely possess some sarcastic wit.

They had a discussion on worship, and I ended up spending a little too much time typing my response than I should've (what else is new?), but I would've written about the subject over here, so I decided to do just that....

I started with presenting a hymn that did a good job sharing the Lutheran view of worship -- known as the Divine Service...(this is hymn 683 in LSB)

Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me
by Paul Gerhardt

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach,no tongue declare;
Unite my thankful heart to Thee
and reign without a rival there!
Thine wholly, thine alone I am;
Be Thou alone my constant flame.

O grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell, but thy pure love alone;
Oh, may Thy love possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown!
All coldness from my heat remove;
My ev'ry act, word, thought be love.

This love unwearied I pursue
and dauntlessly to Thee aspire.
Oh may Thy love my hope renew
Burn in my soul like heav'nly fire!
And day and night, be all my care
To guard this sacred treasure there.

In suff'ring be Thy love my peace,
In weakness by Thy love my pow'r;
And when the storms of life shall cease,
O Jesus, in that final hour,
Be Thou my rod and staff and guide,
And draw me safely to Thy side!

I think this hymn reflects the doctrine of what we confessional Lutherans (and Calvinists are re-embracing it too, Calvin wrote and knew about this) call "The Divine Service." The Divine Service is a view of worship that rather than touting that worship is us doing work for God, is stating that God comes to us in the worship service and nurtures and feeds us. He invites us in His presence, and we are worthy by nature of being baptized into His death and resurrection. He forgives our sins, He hears our pleas for mercy, and thusly, we can praise him. Then He feeds us with His Word and with His very body and blood, in all of these Means of Grace, strengthening us for the duty of serving our neighbor through the vocations that he has given us in this week ahead.

In the hymn above, my faith, my strengthening, my comfort, my desire to serve all come from God. He gives these to me. He leads me. He sanctifies me for Him.It takes away any doubt of whether I am serving well enough, whether I am determined or devoted enough, or whether I really mean it. Christ already forgave me those inadequacies and is just there to feed me. Only when I am free of these doubts can I truly praise Him.

It took YEARS for me to not only understand this, but to believe it and take comfort in it, but it truly is a comfort and a joy. My faith was given to me by God, and He sustains it. Sure, I have to attend church and read my Scripture, but the Holy Spirit even gives me the desire to do that and teaches me as I do that. He is teaching me, loving me, and forgiving me through these Means of Grace. He is regenerating me into the child He wants me to be. It is not by my will, or I would surely fail.

This is the real point where the liturgy is far superior to contemporary worship. Every word I hear, say, and sing are Scripture or firmly based upon it. It is replete with God's promises. It tells me not only that God is good, but WHY he is good, what He has done for me. And it even makes it so that I am not relying on my own words to praise Him, but even utter words He has given me in Holy Scripture.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good Depressing 80's Music

Tears for Fears came on tonight while my husband and I were driving to a district information meeting. My husband quickly changed it.

"Oh man they are depressing." He said. "Oh wait, you liked depressing songs in the 80's...did you like that song?"

"No, that's okay" I replied, smirking (they really weren't one I liked).

"Depeche Mode." he said. "You really liked them, didn't you? I bet lots of psychiatrists got rich off of that group."

I agreed. "Music was so much better before anti-depressants were so widely available. "

(and yes, I know the picture above is The Cure. they look more depressing than the pictures of Depeche Mode.)


Those of you with a feed service, I did re-edit the post that I wrote earlier to day to soften and clarify somewhat the things I wrote earlier in haste. So if you thought I was a little to harsh earlier, please check it out again.....(because I thought it came across more harsh than I intended) and I am not sure that the edited form would show up on your feed.


I usually do edit posts over a period of a few days, noticing errors or thinking of better ways to say things...but I didn't want to take the chance that I could unintentionally is too easy to do over the internet, anyway.

God bless,


Pastors' Wives and the Challenge of the Children

Yes, I am still here, though I am hitting that Autumn brainfog and general busy-ness that makes it difficult to gather thoughts long enough to blog about them. But here I sit, all alone in Panera, with the exception of my trusty laptop (well, I haven't had it long enough to really call it trusty, but I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt), playing Spider Solitaire, surfing other people's blogs, and then the thought occurs to me "You have a blog, too, you know. A vastly neglected one at that!" I think it was my computer accusing me. Maybe its not my trusty friend after all.

But I can write about something I read recently. The Lutheran Women's Quarterly just released an issue on/by pastors' wives. It was nice, and there was an article, "The Out-of-Sync Pastor's Wife," by Melinda Scheich, that addressed some challenges of pastors' wives (Clearly, the title alone would appeal to me). It's nice to know there are others out there. But like any publication that limits its' articles to one page, it only briefly touches on these things. So I'd really like to flesh out one or two things that caught my attention.

The article stated very briefly that pastors families often don't live near their families, and one place where difficulties arise for us is that we rarely get the help with the children that we want and need because of this. We're kind of out there on our own. Good point. Very good point. It is probably one of the biggest struggles I would say I have faced in being a pastor's wife. In fact, at times it has seemed like more than I could take.

When we moved here, I had a one year old who was just starting to walk, and a seven year old. Both were having problems adjusting. It seemed so wonderful to go from a congregation of 30 to one of about 150 who had kids activities on Saturdays, who had lots of potlucks, who had family activities, and even got together a ton of people, old and young alike to help shut-ins get the leaves out of their yard.

Most of these activities happened in the afternoon. I desperately wanted to be involved in these things, but I had a cranky one year old who needed a nap and who would've made my life miserable and that of others as well if I took her along anyway. My husband was rather required to be at these events, so taking turns wasn't even an option. And there was no one else. No one.

When I did go to church activities, I was chasing her around and keeping her safe, not interacting with others. I felt as if there was this huge prison wall between me and our new congregation.

I couldn't help in the kitchen, because there was no one to watch Maggie. I couldn't teach classes, because there was no one to watch Maggie. And even if I wanted to, Maggie left me exhausted a good portion of the time.

I spent most of the church service battling with her to get her to stay in the pew, or leaving my six year old alone in the pew while I walked her around the church. Meanwhile I watched other families team up to help take care of toddler, or watched fathers walk around with their babies. At times, when my husband would ask "how was the service?" I'd just stare at him thinking "You have GOT to be kidding me. As if I got to hear a word of it!!" There were many times I didn't go because I just couldn't bear the prospect of the morning.

I was asked to go to LWML Zone meetings but they'd recruited my husband to be the chaplain. Knowing how LWML groups helped us through seminary, we didn't want to deny them any help we could. And if I had to pay for a sitter, I really wanted to just be alone with my husband. (The church wasn't the only one effected by this. When we moved here, I quickly found that there were numerous homeschooling groups that had no kids policies).

Most people in our parish can volunteer to help with something because they can drop the kids off at Grandma's, or Dad can watch them -- or 3/4 of the family will be there anyway. That support system is just nonexistent for many pastors' wives.

Life has gotten somewhat easier. My youngest is six now, and is no longer a 35 lb. bundle of impulses and urges. I am not as exhausted now and eagerly praying for any break possible (though they are definitely still welcome). But it was hard. It still is.

My kids don't really have anyone who will just take them to the zoo, like their cousins do, other than us. They don't have cousins to play with. They don't have aunts or uncles to give them hard times or show them how to do things, or grandparents who are frequently present to shower them with love. They are all 2000 miles away. I grieve for them in that.

I have gotten to the point where I only seek out a babysitter if I ABSOLUTELY need one, because there isn't anyone who seems really eager to do it. There have been a few other grownups who have helped -- and they really have helped. But their lives are complicated, and so getting a babysitter seems complicated. This may be my perception, but it seems to be, and I don't want them to think I am taking advantage. The relationships are too precious.

The teens that we encounter are too busy with school activities and life to have time to babysit, and there is always the concern with using a teen in the congregation that if we are late, the parents might get mad at us, no matter what might be said (pastors are kind of used to having people tell them that things are "just fine" when they are not). As a consequence, when I do go out, I am usually home way earlier than I was when I myself was a teenager...or was a babysitter.

And occasionally, pastor's families have found themselves hurt by people who used it as an opportunity to be critical of their housekeeping styles.

In truth, I haven't been out on a date in several months, that includes my birthday, my husbands birthday, or our anniversary. I don't know how that happened, other than it is becoming too much of a bother to deal with it. And aside from one night where I took my husband to Chicago to get his shoulder operated on, I haven't been alone with my husband in the house or otherwise for ONE NIGHT in seven years. And my inlaws flew out to help with that.

I can't say that our marriage is hurting for it, we are stronger than ever and find enjoyment with each other wherever we are, whatever the situation, generally. But it doesn't mean that those opportunities aren't missed.

This may sound like I am complaining, I'm not. I love our congregation, and I am not trying to imply that they are insensitive in the least. Besides, this is so much a part of our life that I have long ago stopped complaining. I am trying to show the reality of the life and I know from talking with other pastors' wives, that they also feel this is one of the particular challenges of the life.

I'm also not saying that it is the congregation's responsibility to provide babysitters for us. I am really just trying to show what the struggle looks like. I am not trying to criticize anyone for not solving it or being in tune to it.

Some of it is my choice, we homeschool, so the one break that I COULD get from my kids I have chosen not to have, but we see the huge benefits in that. The schools would be challenging, and it does allow for activities and family time with all of us that would not be there otherwise.

So if you do have a pastor's wife with young kids, it really wouldn't hurt to offer to babysit or give her a break at times. Befriend the kids and offer to have them over to bake cookies or something else that is fun, on a regular basis. And if they don't respond right away, then repeat the offer every few months, so it is known that you are serious and so that she knows who offered....not just on the day that her husband is installed as pastor. She won't remember who it was in this huge mob of strangers while her kids are acting up because they are stressed over all the changes. If you are so moved, this is certainly an area that many pastors' kids don't get to enjoy very often in the name of their father's Divine Call.

And keep the family in your prayers. That was probably the best thing in the whole dang article.

And if nothing else, if your pastor's wife doesn't seem to do anything, don't assume she's anti-social or not interested. She just might be shy and overwhelmed.

Oops...this took too long. Gotta rush back. I'm almost on duty again. Dad has to get back to work.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Unforgiving Servant, Revisited

My wonderful husband isn't really out there on the internet...but at times you get a taste of him because I often discuss issues with him before I post on them and I often am amazed at his wisdom.

Because of this, I am going to humbly put him out there. He preached at the seminary yesterday, and as I was listening to it last night, I honestly had to say to him, "this is the best sermon you have ever preached." And he is a very good preacher. It is on what we have been discussing in a previous post "The Unforgiving Servant." Click on Tuesday, Sept. 16th., if you are interested.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Liturgy is Like the Menu at McDonalds

The Church Growth movement takes lessons from advertising and business in order to "grow the church."

Pastor Brown at Confessional Gadfly has a wonderful point regarding learning from one of them most successful businesses in the world, and how, we in the Missouri Synod should strive to be like them.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Debt that No One Can Repay

The text for this week was the one often known as "The Unforgiving Servant."

While the pericope was being read, I noticed the note in the center column of my Bible:

"talent: one talent is equal to fifteen years work. denarii: one denarius is equal to one day's work."

It wasn't until then that I realized that I had never really given much thought to how much a talent was, or how much a denarius was, or how they were even related. I wonder how common that is, since I never really remember a pastor mentioning the exact values of these in a sermon, either.

Wow. Think about it. This servant owed his master 10,000 talents. That means he owed him 150,000 years work!!! How does one even get into that kind of debt???

And when you think that the other servant owed the first servant 100 denarii, that REALLY is a lot, when you think about the servant only earning one denarius a day. No wonder it wasn't hard to forgive. The cash value of 100 days' work is even overwhelming to think of. It would be hard to pay off and still be able to feed my family. That really IS something that would be hard to just dismiss what having that back in my own coffers would mean to my family. And the reality of it is, if this guy is just a servant like me, trying to feed his family, he probably isn't going to be able to pay it back either. And to know that the reality is that it will never be returned, that hurts. That would make me mad, exasperated, frustrated...I could go on and on.

I have a friend that I grew up with, who every time I am with her and her family, she is constantly criticizing her father. If not directly to his face, then she jumps on the opportunity when he walks out of the room. Her father has made a lot of mistakes, sometimes ones that were very painful. But the constant snubs and bitterness make it very difficult for me to be there, at times.

But I also know my friend. She is waiting for some words from him, whether they are "I'm sorry" or "I'm proud of all you have accomplished," or something else...words that will take away all the times he has hurt her, and make it right. She has this hope. But those words will not make all the past go away, and so she holds on to the anger as if it is all she has. She holds on to the debt. I don't know that she would know what to do with herself if it were gone. But in reality, it can never be gone. Whether he says these words or not, the debt can only be forgiven. I hope and pray for her that she realizes that Christ has paid her father's debt, too -- and because of that, can heal her hurts as well....and that it is through Him that she finds the most perfect Father

I think there are two exaggerations in this text that we often fall into. First, we tend to underexaggerate the amount that the servant owed the master, and how much we owe God. I've heard it compared to millions of dollars, but in reality, the sinner in me could say "if I finished my degree and made $50,000 a year, I could possibly pay off a million dollars...that's 20 years. So if all goes right, I COULD do it." As if I wouldn't buckle under the emotional weight of that debt, the frustration that I wasn't able to reap ANY of the rewards from my work, that it is all credited to someone else.

But 150,000 years worth of work, can't do it. Just can't do it. No way I can even BEGIN to make a dent in that. The thought of it defeats me before I even lift a finger. And that is how it is with God. Because of our sinfulness, we owe Him such a huge debt that we could never make it up. NEVER. We can't even begin. Being "basically a good person" doesn't touch it. And every denarius of those 10,000 talents that I don't have nailed Jesus to the cross.

But on the other hand, we often look at the servant and say "He was forgiven so much, and yet he couldn't forgive so little." Yet, while that is true comparatively, I don't think Jesus was saying that this debt was a mere trifle either, especially to a man who was basically a slave. 100 days of work is a lot. A whole lot, and I think that if, comparatively, someone just couldn't seem to pay us back close to $10,000 (comparatively, by average salary), then we would really resent not having that, too. And when we look at the fact that it is someone who sinned against us, hurt us, maybe repeatedly over years, that is awfully hard to let go of and just say "forget it."

God calls us to do that. He also promises to give us the strength we need to forgive, but while I have known that the pains that I have in my heart that are so hard to let go of are sometimes precious to me, too precious to me....I have felt the weight of the Law in this text. But Christ is the one who teaches us to forgive. He is the one who even prayed that the Father forgive the very people who had nailed Him to the cross...and that includes me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A New Easy Recipe for Lunch

Last night I dug out an "old" cookbook that I have ignored for quite a while: The Whole Food Markets Cookbook. I was surprised to find a lot of great and intriguing ideas for lunch, which is the main meal that I struggle with (only because I refuse to struggle with breakfast, yet).

Here is a recipe that I tried today, and it wasn't a whole lot of work (other than skinning the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler...which wasn't bad). The red pepper flakes gave it a depth of flavor, but not too much actual six year old even liked it. I ended up being able to cut a few things up, throw it in the oven, put a pot of water on the stove, and then forget about it for a while, which is exactly what I wanted. The squash itself would make a great dinner side, too, without the pasta.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Penne Pasta

1 medium butternut squash
1 1/2 cups diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 TBSP. olive oil
1 TBSP. lemon juice
2 tsp. salt

1 pound penne

1/2 cup minced parsley (actually, I forgot the parsley)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Peel the butternut squash (a veg. peeler works best). Using a heavy knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, and discard them. Dice the squash into 1-inch cubes (you should have about 4 cups). Place the squash cubes in a large mixing bowl, and add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, lemon juice, and the salt. Toss the ingredients well. (RPW: I did all of this in the roasting pan, why dirty another bowl??)

Place the mixture in a large roasting pan, and roast for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. The squash should be firm-tender, not mushy.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil Add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes, until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and place it in a large serving bowl, mix in the cooked squash mixture, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. (RPW: or do as I did, in my dishwashing-despising way, put some of the pasta into each bowl, and spoon the butternut squash over it, and let everyone put on their own cheese!)

--the notes suggest topping it with some toasted pumpkin seeds, "the crunchy texture pairs well with the sweet squash." We didn't have any, so the kids tried sunflower seeds, and Maggie gave her thumbs up to that as well. I put a little coconut oil on mine, and that was really good, too, without changing the flavor. It fed four of us comfortably.

So this cookbook is going to get a lot of work this week, while we continue to grow in this, and also enjoy our last month of the farmers market for six months.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Song Dedication to Sarah Palin....with all our love, the Liberal Media

I was driving tonight and this song came on the radio. I hadn't heard it for a while (and it always cracks me up), but I thought it just about summed up the media coverage of Governor Palin. I even find the Disney clips rather apropos.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Pearls Before Swine

For a clear example of a violation of Augsburg XIV (and others), check here. Jefferson Hills Church has stepped further into the mire of false practice and the pastors are in clear violation of their ordination vows in the Missouri Synod.

This is sad. Truly sad. It reminds me of college days with "Lutheran" friends of a similar mindset...a good evening followed by pitas and wine. That was wrong, too, and in taking Holy Communion while openly rejecting the Office of the Ministry, we were clearly sinning in our arrogance.

I did post to them, politely, asking how this was not in clear violation of Augsburg XIV, and why they despised their office so much as to eagerly hand it off to laymen, and to give them the honor of saying that they were ordained, despite that phrase being specific to the pastoral ministry -- and shunning the responsibility that were clearly the pastors' throughout Christian history, until the 20th century -- in violation of their ordination vows. I told them I hoped and prayed that they would repent. Just so you can gauge, if there is a response, I did not cuss, did not accuse rudely, did not insult.

I would post my comment word for word, but I forgot to copy it here BEFORE I copied the link to the blogpost. I am sure that it will not be posted on their blog.

Omnivore's 100

I've stolen this from Jane's blog who took it from Evan's blog. Fascinating. Let's see how it goes.

The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all.And here are the instructions:1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.3) Cross out (I ghosted them) any items that you would never consider eating.4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (me: with bacon wrapped around it, at 6 a.m. on New Years Day after camping out on the Rose Parade route)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (I might have the guts someday)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (if ants count) (well, not an insect, but I am counting that Mapami Worm somewhere!)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (nope, never had a Big Mac)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare (well, rabbit)
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam (grossest thing on the menu)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

There are many things that I would really LIKE to try...and very little, other than the cigar that I would absolutely NOT try, at least for the experience. But I agree, there are many things that this list doesn't include. And it is amazing what I will try, as long as it is wrapped up in a Maki roll!