Friday, February 8, 2013, 12:53 PM
An EECMY worship service.
The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (Place of Jesus) has severed all ties with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), according to an ELCA press release.
The Mekane Yesus action came during their general convocation meeting in Addis Ababa January 27-February 2, ratifying a July 2012 initiative of the church council. While they were at it the Mekane Yesus included the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) and, for good measure, other “churches who have openly accepted same-sex marriage.” The decision specifically bans Eucharistic hospitality. Mekane Yesus pastors may not receive Holy Communion from ELCA pastors, nor are they permitted to commune them.
The action has been long in coming but was not entirely unexpected. Most observers weren’t wondering “if” but “when.” Mekane Yesus, a church whose membership out-matches the ELCA, complained repeatedly about the sexuality directions the ELCA appeared headed throughout most of the last decade. The ELCA reaction was a kumbaya “can’t we all just get along?” The 2009 ELCA decision permitting ordination of gay pastors started a countdown of sorts: Ethiopian immigrant missions in the United States, largely ELCA-affiliated, started backing away immediately. The Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, who had been the ELCA’s point man in ethnic ministries, resigned and became mission director for the North American Lutheran Church. The NALC has several Ethiopian candidates slated for ordination.
Gay sexuality, though, is only the latest presenting issue, as it has been for some one thousand congregations that have left the ELCA to form new associations. On an array of issues from abortion to the authority and role of scripture in church life the ELCA has been dismissive of everything that once marked it as a stable, orthodox denomination. Lutheran church life in Ethiopia compared to the ELCA can be summarized simply: On any given Sunday there are more Ethiopian Lutherans at worship than ELCA Lutherans in any one month.
The Mekane Yesus consisted of perhaps twenty thousand Lutherans in 1970. During a decade of persecution in the 1970s by the communist Derg the church grew enormously, while enduring church burnings, arrests of pastors, forced closings of church properties and, most notoriously, the abduction and murder of the sainted general secretary, Gudina Tumsa. By 1997, the Mekane Yesus reported 2.3 million members; the latest figures place the membership at 5.3 million.
Friday, January 11, 2013, 2:20 PM
I do coins. One of my parishioners some years before her death gave me the coins her husband acquired on his many European travels. I just today got around to researching one of them. It’s from the Isle of Brechqa (also spelled Brecqhou), a small, small part of the English Channel Islands off France, and technically governed from the Island of Sark. (There seems to be a Brechqa independence movement from Sark, by the way.)
It is a brass brothel token, complete with phallic on the reverse side, good for “One Brechqu Knacker.” (I rather hope the lady never figured out what it was.)
The Channel Islands were occupied by Germany in World War II. It’s spooky seeing old photos of German officers asking directions from Bobbies, but there you go. More startling, there may be a Lutheran connection to the token. This from Online Catholics out of Australia on the occupation history:
[Leslie] Sinel became friendly with a “very decent” Lutheran padre who was appalled when ordered by a senior [German] officer to supervise the running of brothels (staffed by women brought in from France) set up for the convenience of German troops.
I thought I’d share this for my multi-tasking fellow clergy of all denominations who find themselves asked to do things they’d rather not.
Friday, December 28, 2012, 3:40 PM
Fr. William D. Lynn, S.J., age 90, died Christmas Day, his birthday. He was my instructor in sacraments at Pontifical College Josephinum in 1979 as I was completing my last year of study at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Ohio. We stayed in touch through the years following, both disappointed at the descent of liberal Lutherans into, um, liberal Protestantism. He was a superior teacher, a pastoral presence in every classroom where he taught, and I much regret his death. He was one of the people who kept my world orderly, knowing he was in it. He wasn’t a “Jesuit star,” not like Dulles or others; just one of those faithful priests and pastors who touch the lives of others in ways they cannot begin to count.
I made of mention of him in one of my “On the Square” essays some while back:
The class at the Josephinum that really rocked was Sacramentology. It was taught by Fr. William D. Lynn, S.J. As a teacher, pastor, and friend, he was a very gentle guy and a very good lecturer. We corresponded from time to time thereafter, and as a gift I once bought him a subscription to Forum Letter, a Lutheran publication then edited by Richard Neuhaus. I recall a post card from Lynn: “I wrote to Neuhaus. He wrote back!”
The funeral mass is 11 a.m., Wernersville Jesuit Center, Pennsylvania, January 4. As our prayer book says, “Surrounded by saints and angels, may Christ come to greet you as you go forth from this life.”
Thursday, October 27, 2011, 12:55 PM
Much is made of Steve Jobs graduation speech at Stanford. I don’t know why. I thought it was rather cold, even melancholic once I actually got around to reading it. Most of it could be reduced to a Budweiser commercial: “You only go around once in life; grab all the gusto you can get.” But there was this:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
That is all true of course. This comes to me this week having placed within the space of ten months yet a second family member on home medical care, now awaiting the doctor’s “six months, probably less” assessment to reach its conclusion. Someone old getting out of the way; not really as dramatic as Mr. Jobs said. Another has remarked on it from a different angle.
Yet beware, I think, of those who tell us death is only this, or life is only that. Far from “life’s best” invention, death is and remains St. Paul’s “final enemy.” God must say “rise” to defeat it. I’ve always harbored a little uncertainty that he will, yet it is a hope I know, and as St. Paul would remind us, we grasp it only by the certainty of faith.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011, 2:01 PM
Communion in both kinds (host and cup) is a staple of the Lutheran reform of the Mass. Somewhere around article twenty-two in the Augsburg Confession of 1530 you’ll find this:
Among us both kinds of the sacrament are given to the laity for the following reason. There is clear order and command of Christ in Matthew 26:27: ‘Drink from it, all of you.’ Concerning the cup Christ here commands with clear words that they all should drink from it.
Catholics got one kind, Lutherans got both. I don’t mean to suggest we Lutherans were smug about it. No, I’ll just say it straight out: We were smug. Why else call our Mass a “reform”?
Alas, all that went away in 1975 when distribution of the cup was permitted at the Catholic Mass. Since the 1500’s communion in one kind was hard lined in Roman circles, largely I suspect because Lutherans did both kinds so Catholics would not. 1975 was a real blow to Lutheran exceptionalism.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 11:23 AM
Looking for the thrill of a life time? Take a ride on the euthanasia roller coaster, designed by Julijonas Urbonas, a Ph.D. candidate in London’s Royal College of Art’s Design Interactions department from Lithuania. He has combined the fun of a roller coaster with the certainty of death.
The coaster—about a three minute ride—spends two minutes taking the soon-deceased to a height of 1,600 feet (there is an opt-out button before reaching the apex should the individual chicken out). The last minute is a colossal fall rushing through seven increasingly tighter loops and reaching a speed of 200-plus mph. The accumulating g-forces peak at 10gs, but that will likely pass unnoticed because the rider will be dead upon reaching the third one. This says Urbonas, “is a hypothetic euthanasia machine . . . engineered to humanely—with elegance and euphoria—take the life of a human being.” He foresees this becoming a possible attraction in places where voluntary euthanasia is legal—Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington—all without the accompanying paperwork dealing with medical issues and the like frequently delaying someone’s death wish.
This probably isn’t suited for quadriplegics or amputees, we’re told. Since their bodies lack substantial volume in the lower extremities to pool the blood their brains might not suffer the indispensable life-killing lack of oxygen that 10gs would ordinarily generate. That, just a passing note, would seem to undermine equal accessibility laws but I’m not an expert in that area and I don’t like roller coasters anyway.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 2:37 PM
This is being billed as “the closest near miss on record, beating the previous record holder, a rock that buzzed Earth in 2004. . . .” That’s the pickup truck-sized asteroid called 2011 CQ1 that came within seven thousand miles of Earth February 4. I didn’t notice it, and neither did anybody else until about an hour before its approach. Had it hit, though, well, it wouldn’t have hit. It was a size that would have burned up in the atmosphere. So, a miss is a miss. But that doesn’t count the one that did hit, and I don’t mean the dino killer. I mean the one that plowed into the Sudanese desert in 2009. That one did not burn up in the atmosphere, but it did leave behind about nine pounds of black rock full of tiny diamonds. Having found none of the diamonds being offered on eBay, I gather the researchers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California are keeping them for the time being. In neither case, should you worry, was the Congress of the United States in danger.
Thursday, February 10, 2011, 12:22 PM
“Stone tool find shows humans walked through Red Sea” says the headline at Earth Times. I was thinking grist for biblically fundamentalist Christians but, turns out, it was 125,000 years ago over what would have been dry land that only thousands of years later became the Red Sea, and the tool was a “primitive” hand held stone chopper. Not the same picture as Charlton Heston maybe leaving his staff behind after parting the waters yet it does push human migration out of Africa back almost 70,000 years.
I cannot say I like the label “primitive.” There may be questions of material efficiency (stone vs. copper, say) or ergonomic design or whether you can get one from a TV offer for only $19.95, but if it chopped what needed chopping, “primitive” becomes an insensitive pejorative used by archeologists to show their superiority. Anyway, the adze, as the thing is called, was found in an Arabian archaeological dig in Jebel Faya, east of Dubai.
Now if scientists can figure out how DNA from a Siberian species of hominids, neither Neanderthals nor Homo sapiens, ended up among some New Guinea people, I figure most of what’s worth knowing about the world will have been solved. That incidentally includes any questions around the human condition. Happily, the World Transformation Movement has that in hand, so I’m just not bothered by it anymore.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 8:00 AM
Over at Strange Herring Anthony Sacramone, remarking on a New Yorker piece on Scientology, has it in mind to start a religion. Can’t say as I blame him; it does pay. Story goes, in fact, that Scientology got its start exactly that way.
L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer back in the days when science fiction was worth about two cents a word, is said to have decreed to a gathering of fellow writers that religion was where the real money could be found. Dianetics was the result, promoted in part by the otherwise legendary editor of Astounding Science Fiction, John Campbell. Dianetics was published in 1950, the same year as another pseudoscience work, Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky.
Despite the thorough thrashing the two books received at the hand of critics, both became best sellers—which raises the not insensitive question of why Americans pay so much attention to the New York Times best sellers list.
Friday, January 14, 2011, 12:04 PM
Quoting the Times, “In a down payment on riches to come, scientists from NASA’s Kepler satellite announced Monday that they had discovered the smallest planet yet found outside our solar system and the first that was unquestionably rocky, like the Earth.”
It’s the “like the earth” part that always annoys me. From the description of this extrasolar planet, it is nothing like the Earth. Kepler 10b, as it is called, is forty percent larger than Earth and almost five times denser, about the same density as iron. It spins around its star in a dizzy orbital “year” that measures just twenty hours in length at a distance of only one-twentieth as that separating Mercury from the Sun. One of the discoverers, Natalie Batalha, calls it a “scorched world.” You think? This suggests to me a planet that is more like a colossal red hot ball bearing going very, very, like really, fast than anything remotely “like the Earth.”
Yet Kepler 10b is called exactly that and hailed by University of California, Berkeley, astronomer Geoffrey Marcy as a discovery that “will be marked as among the most profound in human history.” I actually think the wheel and agriculture rank a little higher, but then I don’t live in Berkeley.
Okay, yes, I admit to being pretty earth-centric (if not earth-chauvinistic) in my thinking about the cosmos and all. I subscribe to the “rare earth” notion. I didn’t always. Once upon a time I could recite the Drake Equation from memory. Much to my family’s regret, I enjoy watching History Channel’s Ancient Aliens. They hate it, but the “Aliens and the Third Reich” episode is way cool, I think. Once, in my present parish which has guys here who’d like to start a MUFON chapter, I pulled together a bible class on UFOs. But, honestly, I am tired of waiting for aliens and Earth-like planets. I will not discount the likelihood of discovering a real Earth-like planet some day, one that is strategically located (one might say miraculously, if you don’t mean anything theological by the word) within a stable solar habitable zone that comes complete with rocks, liquid water, biologic gases, and, oh, one that has a moon to keep it all gravitationally agitated just right. That, I do confess, might just belong up there with agriculture and the wheel.
Meanwhile, though, I think Dr. Marcy would do well to lower his gushy school-girl hyperbole a little bit.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010, 12:15 PM
An NPR article on the prospect of creating a part-time Congress (unlikely) begins by describing “hordes of conservative Republican lawmakers” descending on Washington. Hordes? Yes, hordes of Republicans, all conservative, are about to fracture the previous hold that “hordes of liberal Democrats” had on Congress. This inspired a Google search for the phrase and I found four pages filled with “hordes,” “Republicans,” and “conservative.” From the look of the entries most were attributable to different blog sites feeding off one another. I cannot say if NPR picked the phrase up from the bloggers or whether it was the other way around, but in any case, there you go, “hordes.” Perhaps in some political lexicon of style, “horde” is the word of choice when writing about the new Republican legislators coming to Washington. “Gang,” “flock,” “crowd,” “pack,” “host,” or “multitude” might serve but they all lack, I think, the certain chill factor “horde” evokes, undisciplined barbarians, ruffians each, laying waste to everything truly civilized about life.
I Googled also for “hordes of liberal Democrats.” That phrase does show up but it is limited to only one page plus an over-spill of a mere two entries on a second, not nearly as many as for the conservative Republican horde. I think it is safe to say this clearly is a shameful indication of the media’s bias toward liberal hordes. Simple fairness, real impartiality, everyone will agree should give as many hordes to the one as to the other.
I do note — and perhaps in some way this will mitigate any advantage the media gives to liberals — that “hordes of liberal Democrats” is frequently preceded by an adjectival qualifier. “Sycophantic,” “corrupt,” and “rabid” do tend to focus one’s eye.
Speaking of hordes, tuck this in your minor facts file. When I worked in Congress in 1972-73 there were only eight thousand congressional staffers for both the House and the Senate. Of course that figure had more than doubled from the decade previous. Today there are twenty-five thousand, give or take a thousand or so, inhabiting the congressional lair. That is chilling.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010, 2:24 PM
I finally have applied to become a member of the clergy roll of the North American Lutheran Church, which means leaving the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (Here is the NALC’s site.) About time, too, inasmuch as the NALC made me a dean back in early September. I am a sort of acting proto-bishop for NALC parishes in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Pretty easy job in the moment; the NALC has but one congregation in the entire four-state region. There are others pending. The one NALC congregation. however, is not the one I serve as pastor.
In my congregation, we are a mixed lot in the moment, as is the case with numerous ELCA parishes. While there is a lot of unhappiness with the ELCA, there is equally a lot of indifference and even some support for what the ELCA did on gay sexuality and gay pastors. I have not pushed my congregation for a vote to leave the ELCA and I have no plans to do so, so I cannot say what direction the parish will eventually take. But my displeasure with the ELCA is well known, and I did make sure the parish council voted permission for me to join the NALC. The vote was six in favor, one opposed, one abstention (my own), and the one absent member indicated she would have voted yes. (more…)
Thursday, December 16, 2010, 10:00 AM
William McGurn has a piece at the online Wall Street Journal asking exactly why Republicans have a hard time providing moral argumentation for tax reductions affecting billionaires. The other side, he points out, have their contentions well in place.
In [Senator Bernie Sandners, Vermont] nearly nine-hour remarks, excerpts of which are now going viral on the Internet, he framed the lack of a tax hike for the rich as a surrender to greed. In so doing, he inadvertently raised another question: How come Republicans have such a hard time speaking just as forthrightly about the moral underpinnings of their side of this argument?
What? Moral underpinnings? Well, McGurn appears to believe they exist, but he thinks Republicans are stuck on function. The tax rates against the rich rarely do what they are supposed to do.
. . . Republicans tend to answer these class-warfare screeds with purely functional arguments. How, for example, higher tax rates aimed at “millionaires and billionaires” have a habit of hitting quite a few others (the Alternative Minimum Tax anyone?). How such taxes seldom produce the promised revenue bounty. Or how our real problem is not tax revenues but government spending.
He would frame matters differently. Greed, he notes, is an “insatiable” desire for more and more wealth. So McGurn suggests instead, when taxpayers who want to keep as much of their own money as possible are compared to the governing class that continually seeks to take it, “whose appetite better warrants the word insatiable?”
Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 10:31 AM
A Norwegian reality show, The Great Norway Adventure, takes American-Norwegians, some generations beyond their ancestral homeland, and initiates them by various contests to the true rites of passage real Norwegians are said to put up with in becoming authentically Norski. One of the contestants, who added some 400 Norwegian strangers as Facebook friends due to his television notoriety, is Grant Aaseng from Alexandria, Minnesota.
Aaseng is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Apart from the usual high jinks—working on a Viking fishing boat, herding cows, racing tractors, cross-country skiing—Pastor Aaseng and the other contestants underwent russefeiring, said to be a “a Norwegian tradition where high school graduates mark a rite of passage by renting buses for a couple of weeks of rowdy behavior.” This included drinking beer while simultaneously urinating. Filmed from behind, the news report says.
Being of German extraction myself, I cannot say if this in any way would be a difficult assignment. But, we are assured, “in order to become an adult in Norway, [russefeiring is] something you have to go through.” Ordained or not, it would appear.
Friday, December 3, 2010, 8:00 AM
Along with his other dilemmas, Pope Benedict is also said to have a “genetically modified crop dilemma.” As New Scientist explained editorially:
In a statement condemning opposition to GM [genetically modified] crops in rich countries as unjustified, a group of scientists including leading members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is demanding a relaxation of “excessive, unscientific regulations” for approving GM crops, saying that these prevent development of crops for the “public good.”
The draft statement is the result of consultations from May 2009 by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and was released this week. It awaits approval by the full academy. It appears to echo one of the principal GM commercial advocates, Monsanto, an aggressive leader in producing plants that can stand up to super weeds.
On Tuesday, interestingly, the United States being one of those rich countries, a U.S. federal district judge, Jeffrey White, issued a ruling favorable to environmentalist suits and . . .
. . . ordered the removal of genetically modified sugar beet stecklings from hundreds of acres of farm fields, saying the U.S. Department of Agriculture improperly gave permission for their planting.
Exactly why New Scientist sees this as yet another papal dilemma is unclear, unless it is the juxtaposition of a Vatican academy vs. a U.S. judge. But best I can figure it offered a interesting headline. Papal dilemmas make for good headlines. Which exactly is why this blog carries the headline it does.
Monday, November 29, 2010, 2:18 PM
November is a strange time to reflect on the American Revolution, something more suited for July, but that is what I found myself doing touring Lexington and Concord with family over Thanksgiving while enduring a cold, uncomfortable wind. We visited many graves: Hawthorne, Alcott, Thoreau, among them. Strangely, I found myself moved most by this grave more than any other; an unknown British soldier wounded on the day “the shot heard round the world” was fired at Concord’s North Bridge. He died three days later at Buckman Tavern in Lexington. Three small British flags set his grave apart, left haphazardly I would guess by British visitors to honor his death, or by someone in Lexington to remind everyone more than Americans died that day. Three other British who died at the North Bridge are known by name and buried there. Very little marks their common grave; one might entirely miss the site when walking by.
I cannot say what affected me so deeply. Perhaps the recent experience of having a son-in-law sent to advise Filipino marines in a combat zone nobody knows about, or a nephew deployed for combat in Afghanistan made me wonder of soldiers fighting 3,000 long miles from home. I found myself with questions, most keenly, who mourned his death and did they find that ever elusive “closure”? The British listed twenty-six missing from the battle that stretched from Concord back to Boston that day. There is a report of one British soldier of the 10th Light Infantry wounded at Lexington. Perhaps it is he who lies here. I cannot think what to say of soldiers fighting and dying on foreign fields, patriots all gamely in a cause, British and American. But of this British soldier, James Russell Lowell’s Lines seems as cold as the November wind:
These men were brave enough, and true
To the hired soldier’s bull-dog creed;
What brought them here they never knew,
They fought as suits the English breed:
They came three thousand miles, and died,
To keep the Past upon its throne:
Unheard, beyond the ocean tide,
Their English mother made her moan.
Friday, November 12, 2010, 12:41 PM
There are about 4,000 Lutherans living in the Republic of Chile, mostly of German descent found in two church bodies. One of those Lutherans, Pastor Martin Junge, will become the eighth general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation November 25. The LWF is a communion of 145 churches in 79 nations with a combined membership of some 80 million. Junge succeeds Dr. Ishamel Noko of Zimbabwe, who has held the post since 1994.
He assumes leadership of a communion rife with uncertainty over issues of human sexuality, and it doesn’t help that the last president of the Lutheran World Federation, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, did as much as he possibly could to further acceptance of homosexuality. African Lutherans are having none of it and there is serious speculation on whether and how long they will put up with it before bolting.
None of this makes much U.S. press, not the way the Anglican Communion does. Anglicans cluster around the Archbishop of Canterbury, in communion with the presiding bishops of provinces dotted around the world. Lutherans gather around a piece of paper from 1530, the Augsburg Confession. Structure doesn’t mean much to them and it varies all the way from the high church formalism of the Archbishop of Uppsala, who has a fair claim to historic episcopal orders (as do African Lutheran churches founded by Swedish missionaries), to the president of the Lutheran Church of Australia.
Sounds sort of Rotarian, frankly. Anyway, organizationally Lutherans just aren’t as sexy as Anglicans, but they can claim to have had the first female bishop to resign over a drunk-driving offense. That didn’t get much press either. Lutherans never get a news break.
Sunday, October 31, 2010, 12:01 AM
Lutherans celebrate Reformation Day, that day back in 1517 when Martin Luther stomped up to the Wittenberg church door and nailed up his 95 Theses. It’s a big day for us; used to be, at any rate. I don’t suppose Roman Catholics pay much attention to it, but then I wouldn’t expect them to, considering things.
My friend and Catholic priest (one can be both) Jay Scott Newman lectured in October 2002 during a Lutheran conference on Christian sexuality held at my Kansas City congregation. He was then serving Divine Redeemer in North Charleston, South Carolina, where my in-laws are parishioners. They introduced us; that’s how we got to know one another. Since the conference ended on a Saturday, I suggested he stay over and preach that Sunday. He readily agreed. That’s when I told him, by the way it’s Reformation Sunday. He muttered something I didn’t quite catch; whatever it was I’m certain it was entirely appropriate to the provocation. But, yes, he’d still do it. (more…)
Thursday, October 14, 2010, 3:17 PM
Over at Cranach, Gene Edward Veith (provost and professor of literature at Patrick Henry College) ponders the state of argumentation in a world of blogging, and for good reason. His
. . . innocent little post has now chalked up a record 422 comments at last count. What happened is that a very heated debate broke out between Lutherans and non-Lutherans on the true meaning of John 20:23. Before long, Luther was getting bashed, and non-Lutherans were getting bashed, and feelings were getting hurt on both sides. Then, at about comment #359, people started talking about ME, taking me to task for allowing unkind things being said on my blog. I should not allow certain things to be said. I should establish a code of conduct, require registration, moderate comments, monitor what people say, and delete negative remarks.
Dr. Veith is surprised? Blogs and the comments they sometimes invite are a bit Wild West. He does offer a few rules for cyber argumentation, of course. For instance, sure, Jesus could call Pharisees a “brood of vipers,” but you can’t because you are not Jesus. Good point, but mostly he concludes bloggy argumentation, if it is to be real argumentation instead of a string of bad names, comes down to trust and respect and humility. Since he owns the site, he tells his responders . . .
Monday, October 11, 2010, 8:01 PM
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America today took action, in the words of Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, to position “the churchwide organization to make a vital and vibrant contribution to the ministries of this [ELCA] church and the work of partners throughout the world . . . .”
Maintaining vitality and vibrancy entails eliminating 65 staff members (called “60 full-time equivalents”) from the present staff roster of 358. No one should mistake the pain entailed in this “downsizing,” occasionally called “right-sizing” by the bishop. This is the second staff reduction the ELCA has been compelled to impose since experiencing a sharp drop-off in offerings since August 2009 when the ELCA approved ordination of active homosexual clergy.
Friday, October 8, 2010, 4:55 PM
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has a number of ethnic associations. There is one for African Americans, for Asians and Pacific Islanders, for Latino Ministries, and even an Arab and Middle Eastern heritage group. The associations were created when the ELCA came into being in 1988. They meet every couple years and seek to support the church and address important things.
The newest one, created in 2006 but meeting for only the first time this late October, is the European American Lutheran Association (EALA). This has been a long neglected ethnic group in the twenty-two-year history of the ELCA, a denomination which otherwise “cherishes the diversity of cultural and linguistic groups.” But one can chalk the delay up to the fact that most Lutherans already are of European heritage, so they don’t really need special ethnic recognition to do the sorts of things European American Lutherans do when off in their ethnic enclave. But fair is fair and after long struggle they too now at last have their own association.
But not for long, we predict. The association’s president, Kathy B. Long, Redmond, Washington, says the group’s purpose “is to dismantle racism, white privilege and white power by recognizing and confessing our individual and corporate sin, and addressing institutional racism in the church.”
There you go. A couple concentrated weeks doing that, I figure, and the jig just may be up.
Friday, October 8, 2010, 12:40 PM
No doubt college students have sex, though probably never as much as they would prefer, but this will likely get some parents—especially parents of students at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota—to think seriously about the “home colleging” option for their kids. Freshmen orientation included sexual skits preformed on stage by underclassmen attired in lion costumes. (Who knows why they picked on lions.) “Condom man” shows up with a pithy remark about safe sex, and then . . . oh, heck, click the link yourself for what an on-campus protest group called sexual indoctrination.
There were also helpful hints about how to alert a roommate to stay away while engaged in sex and another on how to tell your roommate you are gay. Since Gustavus Adolphus is a Lutheran college (ELCA), far from the founding roots of the Swedish immigrants who established the school, coming out gay to a roommate may be less stressful than coming out as an active Christian.
Friday, October 1, 2010, 1:29 PM
Here is a fun adventure romp, a first novel by former Newsday columnist Ray Keating. Stephen Grant is an ex-CIA agent with notches on his pistol who, with a little bit of angst, turns his back on his secret life and becomes, get this, a pastor of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
We first meet Grant as he dispatches an opposing agent within the nave of a French Catholic church (because for discreet meetings between rival spies, the empty churches of Europe are ideal). Grant next shows up as pastor of St. Mary’s Lutheran Church on the east end of Long Island, where he slays an eco-terrorist who is trying to shoot choir members at rehearsal (not, from the description in the novel, that choir’s rendering of A Mighty Fortress didn’t give the effort some merit).
Well, after that, one thing sort of leads to another thing and pretty soon Pr. Grant saves the life of Pope Augustine from a knife-wielding priest shouting “apostate,” shares “decaffeinated black currant tea” thereafter with same (um, the pope, not the assailant), and at different stops along the way vanquishes liberal theologians, spars with arrogant media-types, and incidentally helps the Vatican advance an ecumenical initiative called “A Public Mission of Mere Christianity.” St. Mary’s, by the way, seems to be a parish that functions well in the pastor’s absence.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010, 2:04 PM
Some of our readers probably like gold—with an ounce of gold above $1,300 what’s not to like—and talk of reviving the gold standard is going around. The U.S. has been off the gold standard since 1933.
David C. Harper, editor of Numismatic News, reports sobering figures for people who think the U.S. should return to the gold standard. Gold dealer Steve Album did some thoughtful calculations:
According to the Federal Reserve M1, current number of dollars is about 1.75 trillion. After doing the calculation, I found that at the current gold price of about $1,280 per ounce, we would need about 48,000 to 50,000 tons of gold to back up all the dollars. That is about one-third of the amount of gold that has been mined since ancient times, about 150,000 tons according to an article that appeared in The Economist a few months ago.
There is absolutely no way any government could acquire that much gold. The alternative would be for the price of gold to rise to something like $5,000 per ounce, at which point only about 350 million ounces would have to be stashed in Fort Knox. No wonder the gold bugs are hungry for the gold standard. But if we take the M2, then we are talking about 8.65 trillion dollars.
That would seem to be the end of that. Ah, but not so fast, counters Harper. It isn’t a question of the quantity of gold; it is a matter of pegging the price (he figures somewhere about $3,000 an ounce) and of political will.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 5:37 PM
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I have been dipping into esoteric religious stuff, by accident. Normally it isn’t anything I mess with, beyond the dismal fancies of liberal Protestants in general and Lutherans in particular. I blame UFO Magazine. A recent cover caught my eye at the library. There is a connection, I learned, between religious experience and alien abduction (of the two, the alien sort may be the more interesting). Oh, and we are all headed for a higher consciousness, the present lower one being such a disappointment to ascended masters and the like, but I don’t have time to go into that here.
No, what really excited me was an advertisement for several books by Dianne Robbins. Ms. Robbins is the designated channel for cetacean beings, inhabitants of the hallow earth, and trees, and they each have a book. She also channels Adama from Telos, another book, but he’s not nearly as interesting.
One cannot actually say she is the author, though she is listed that way. The books are more like “as told to” stories. They all communicate with her with fair regularity and, what is not contained in the books, she reproduces at her blog site, all the messages, songs, and poetry they dictate to her. All of them are very chatty, especially the trees. They do a lot of poetry, the trees do, at Inner Earth Blog. The cetaceans like poetry too, which Ms. Robbins also faithfully reproduces for them at the blog site.
The cetaceans have a One Group Mind which probably helps in producing their compositions; I can’t speak for the trees but an example of recent cetacean poetry runs in part: