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

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There Are a Few Good Men

From Web Exclusives

Congress doesn’t get much respect. It never has. At the dawn of our republic John Adams famously muttered: “In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.” A century after Adams, citizens resonated (and still do) to Mark Twain’s assertion: “Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.” … Continue Reading »

The Pastor as Political Appointee

From Web Exclusives

It annoys me to no end, church leaders occasionally given to touting political influence within the circles of government. Hubristic self-service is a phrase that comes uncharitably to mind. Put not your trust in princes is another. So there was a press release some little while back in early February from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America announcing the coming appointment of Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson to the Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships… . Continue Reading »

The Pastoral Street Light Dilemma

From Web Exclusives

The best thing I ever did in politics”but I can’t recommend it as regular work for pastors”was get a street light up for some folks. This was when I was appointed to fill an unexpired term on a small town city council. The mayor made me the south ward alderman”sounds pleasantly Chicagoish, doesn’t it”and that put me in charge of streets, snow removal, and other interesting duties. … Continue Reading »

Death by Imposition

From Web Exclusives

Changing out the paper towels I remembered by habit to set aside the empty roll for Hattie’s gerbil. Hattie is my thirteen-year-old and I am under oft-repeated instructions to save the cardboard tube. The little creature enjoys running through the tube before settling down to chew it up into more bedding… . Continue Reading »

Shangri-La Lutheran

From Web Exclusives

Pastors often make the mistake of romanticizing their first parish. Nothing ever again matches the depth of faith encountered, nor the affirmation of pastoral effort as happens in the first parish. That is if it was a good experience. If it wasn’t, the pastor is apt to drop out of parish ministry within the first five years of ordination, or take another call and repeat the same bad experience… . Continue Reading »

I’d Rather Preach a Wedding

From Web Exclusives

It was a bad day for a funeral; name a day that isn’t. But this one came in a period of family turmoil in the middle of last month. My mother just admitted to a nursing home and exhibiting severe dementia; my father lost without her; and me at Day 6 in a ten-day course of antibiotics for a sinus infection that had knocked me flat for the first four days… . Continue Reading »

A Near Miss

From First Thoughts

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 . . . . Continue Reading »


From Web Exclusives

It’s been a ride that has not reached a destination. Those people who say it’s the journey, not the destination, do not know what they are talking about. My mother is descending”has descended”into dementia. My wife and I have noticed little markers along the way over the last year. … Continue Reading »