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

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A Prayer for Death

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We tame the Lord’s Prayer. We have to, so it isn’t nearly as disturbing to us as an incautious reading would reveal. Certainly it is a comfort. We use it for everything. It is often the first prayer we learn in worship and frequently the last to escape our lips. Routinely, we use it to conclude church meetings. That may be a misuse, the prayer being more radical than a mere way to clear out the room, but I’ve done it too. Continue Reading »

The Ass of Passion Sunday

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On Passion Sunday, more years than not, I give a children’s sermon. At the conclusion of the procession with palms and the Prayer of the Day, with the kids arrayed near the chancel, I selecte a kid as Jesus. We are going to enact the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (Scholars may . . . . Continue Reading »

Oh, Bury Me Not

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Though I was never one for cemeteries and am not in the habit of visiting the graves of family or friends, I will consent to tour the graves of those long gone, whose tombstones are abraded and lichen-covered. There is a forlorn, lonesome quality to these graves so neglected through time. If the . . . . Continue Reading »

Organizing Unorganized Religion

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There is apparently now an organization for the one-fifth or so of Americans who always check “none” on forms asking for their religious preference. Folks in this self-described category are called “nones” (pronounced the same as “nuns,” though something entirely . . . . Continue Reading »

Resurrection vs. Immortality

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Theologies have the life of a mayfly. They come into fashion, rise, and then slip away, mostly unnoticed. It might be good, then, for seminarians and other readers to first learn some of the old theologies before traipsing off through the daisy fields of any new ones. Oscar Cullmann (1902-1999) is . . . . Continue Reading »

My Adoption

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My oldest son has traveled back to Vietnam on three, four occasions now. He arrived at our home in 1975 as an eleven-year-old refugee. We, my first wife and I, adopted him five years later. He was part of the contingent of “unaccompanied minors” temporarily housed at the refugee center at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas. Something on the order of 2,200 Vietnamese fleeing the fall of Saigon went through there, finding sponsors, relocating, rebuilding lives. . . . Continue Reading »

Impeach Obama 2014

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I cannot think of anything more disastrous for the Republican Party than an attempt to impeach the president. Yet there are scenarios being put forth, along with what I regard as a lot of irresponsibly loose talk, some of it getting ginned up by Democrats. . . . Continue Reading »

The Selfie Presidency

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Though I didn’t vote for President Obama I was unusually happy for his election. To me it said many good things about America. While his speaking ability was possibly the best since Ronald Reagan (whose speaking ability was the best since John F. Kennedy), I thought his small business tax policy, as he explained it to Sam Wurzelbacher (a.k.a Joe the Plumber), was appalling. I didn’t much like his notions on a lot of other issues either, starting with questions over abortion, but to be honest, I really wanted a reason to for vote for him. . . . Continue Reading »

What If We Are Alone in the Universe?

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A new study suggests there are 8.8 billion potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way galaxy. Habitable is defined by, among other things, the Goldilocks zone, that magical narrow band of space extending around a sun where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold, where water can exist as a liquid. . . . Continue Reading »

What Ancient Astronauts Teach Us

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Once I served a parish where we had enough guys swept up in ancient astronaut fantasies to have started our own MUFON chapter. I enjoyed things from the fringe, but one guy in particular was a true believer, if not a proselytizer: UFOs are real; there is every reason to accept the ancient astronaut “theory” and, importantly, no reason not to; the universe is simply brimming with intelligent life. He was a fellow Trekkie so I did try to go easy on him . . . Continue Reading »