Russell E. Saltzman is a former Lutheran pastor, transitioning to the Roman Catholic Church.

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Visiting Leonard

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Leonard was one of those pastoral visits pastors avoid.He was a guy who just got lost in the life of the congregation. He got mad at a pastor back in the mid-1950s and stopped attending worship. He came on and off—mostly off—during successive pastorates thereafter, but never with any regularity. . . . . Continue Reading »

Mary, Mary's Son, and Islam

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Does Islam worship the one God of Abraham, like Jews and Christians, or some other god? Many strident voices insist Allah is a different god. Inconveniently, though, the three great monotheistic faiths claim Abraham as their patriarch and resulting from that, each claim Abraham’s one God as their . . . . Continue Reading »

Advice to Inactive Christians

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What is there to make of Raul Castro’s strategic little slip about becoming Catholic again? I say “strategic” because I can’t think that an inactive church member would ever say such a thing without assuming there was some advantage to be gained by saying it.Castro’s papal fawning is, he says, due to the pope’s “wisdom and modesty.” I’d rather hear Castro say the pope’s Christian example had convinced him to ban extralegal political executions, but let these things come in their time, I suppose. Continue Reading »

Loved Through Eternity

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I wasn’t going to say anything further about being adopted, not beyond what I’ve said before. The wistful “melancholic nostalgia” I described about being adopted is gone. It has been replaced with . . . well, I don’t know, perhaps, a practical certainty I’m better off. The fact of adoption weighs on some adoptees, adopted as babies with little or no access even in later life to the real story. I was one of those.There is at the heart of things the knowledge somebody could not, or would not keep me. It puts a strain on things. It adds a tentative dimension to many relationships. I don’t like it, but there it is, hunched in a corner waiting to snag me unawares. So, no, I wasn’t going to say anything more. Continue Reading »

How the Constitution was Defeated in 1788

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In a parallel universe, the United States of America is somewhere still governed under the Articles of Confederation. Here’s what happened in this other United States: To the dismay of Federalists (called “nationalists” or conservatives at the time) the proposed constitution of 1787, which would have replaced the Articles of 1781, was defeated in four crucial state conventions and never became the framework of the American union.The hard political battle pitted radicals (called anti-Federalists) against conservatives and the radicals won, barely. The “United States, assembled in Congress”, remained the political subordinate of the states. Continue Reading »

Correcting St. John

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Don’t get me wrong. I love John’s Gospel, but it has a serious problem. Due to a misreported episode around the resurrection of Christ, which I am hopefully about to fix, the Apostle Thomas has gone around for centuries with a cloud dodging his reputation.In the accepted telling of John’s version, Thomas ends up being the only disciple who doubts that Christ was raised. Come this Second Sunday of the Resurrection, when this reading shows up like clockwork in the lectionary, Thomas is going to get roughed up all over again from church pulpits for his doubt. Don’t be like Thomas, we’ll be told. He did a bad thing. Continue Reading »

St. John's Seventh Sign

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The eleventh chapter of John opens with Jesus across the Jordan, away from Judea, laying low after having escaped being stoned to death at the Temple. It is there that he receives word from Bethany—from Mary and Martha, Lazarus’s sisters—to hurry and aid his friend who is sick. Continue Reading »