Thursday, December 27, 2012

Instead of tossing a garter

Try footwashing.

"Matt and Julie married last week, and when the time came for the garter to be removed, Matt did something unexpected. As Julie sat in her chair, Matt approached her with a water basin and a towel. With perfect tenderness, he humbled himself and made a beautiful gesture of his service to her.
As husbands and the spiritual head of our households, we are called by Christ to imitate the same dedication of service to our wives. Service doesn’t simply mean helping out, but means humbling ourselves, putting our wives before us always, and heroically attending to her needs."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Abby Johnson on the Sandy Hook murders

"I watched a child fight for his life in his mother's womb. I watched him curl up his body in an attempt to protect himself from the abortion instrument. I watched him attempt to move away and try to get find a safe place. Then I watched his body twist and turn like you would ring out a dishcloth. I watched his arms and legs detach from his body. I watched as his perfectly formed backbone crumbled underneath the powerful suction.

How can I compare the shootings in Connecticut with abortion? Because just like these children who were killed violently in their school, thousands of children are killed violently in their mother's wombs. These unborn children are frantically trying to save their lives before they are killed. There is no difference...except for the number that are killed EVERY DAY.

20 children are killed and it is called a massacre. 1.2 million children are killed in a year and it is called a "medical procedure" and labeled as "choice."

Yes, what I am saying may not be comfortable. But the tragedy of abortion is very real to me. I have seen the terror of the unborn. It is time for us to stop being so uncomfortable with the truth and start shouting it from the rooftops."

Abby formerly worked for Planned Parenthood and now is a Pro-Life Advocate.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I heard today on Catholic radio that a baptism administered "in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer and of the Sanctifier" is not valid. So I looked it up; it was decided in 2008. Liberal Christians who are afraid of words like Father and Son or masculine pronouns, have invented this.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Even the Pope gets edited and corrected

I was reading Joan's Blog from Rome (she comments on EWTN and Catholic radio) and noticed this comment, and realized that even the Pope gets edited.

"I remember one of the first times that Benedict XVI spoke off-the-cuff in a general audience. It was January 31, 2007. He had dedicated the general audience catechesis that day to, in his words, the “three of the most important companions of St. Paul in his missionary teaching of the Gospel: Barnabas, Silas and Apollos.”

In the column I wrote on that day’s general audience, I wrote: “Benedict XVI noted that there were differences, contrasts, between Paul and Barnabas at the start of the second missionary journey because Barnabas wanted John Mark as a companion, whereas Paul did not, and the two separated.

“Then, briefly putting his prepared speech, he said, in impromptu remarks, ‘Even between saints there are differences, lack of harmony, controversies. I find this very consoling because we see that saints don’t just ‘fall from heaven’. They are like us, with complicated problems. Holiness is not never having made a mistake or sinned. Holiness grows with the capacity for conversion, penitence, the willingness to start over, above all in the capacity for reconciliation and pardon’.”

As we watched the Pope on television, all of us in the press office were taking notes, recording, etc. I remember sitting with Daniela Simpson of AP that day (I was writing, she was recording) and when the Pope said those words, we just looked at each other, and commented, “Didn’t the Holy Father have a remarkable way with words when he ad-libbed!”

Not long afterwards, when the Holy See Press Office official bulletin came out, none of the off-the-cuff remarks could be found. We asked the director, Fr. Lombardi, what to do and he said we had an obligation to report what we saw and heard and had recorded. We also knew that Vatican Television (and anyone subscribing to CTV feed, like EWTN) would have the full story.

We later learned that staff in the Secretariat of State watch the papal audience each week and “clean up” his ad-libbed remarks – sometimes to make them “more grammatically correct,” at other times, to simple “better” or improve on the papal phrasing.

But there are two things wrong with that.

One, how can you “better” or improve on Pope Benedict’s off-the-cuff phrases?

Two, in changing the Pope’s words, you change what he said, you change the truth. In addition, you do an injustice to a brilliant theologian, thinker and speaker."

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

What to pay your church musicians

Check here for details.


Service fees are $100-$350 (service only)
Wedding rehearsal with bridal party is $50-$100/hour.
Additional rehearsals are $30-$50/hour.
The current, federally approved business standard mileage rate for reimbursement of business travel is charged if visits to church for practice, rehearsal, and service exceed 20 miles per round trip.
The charge for contracting singers/instrumentalists is $15-$35/person hired.


Service fees are $100-$225 (service only)
Rehearsals $25-$100/hour, depending on the difficulty of the music and the participation of choirs, soloists, or instrumentalists.
The current, federally approved business standard mileage rate for reimbursement of business travel is charged if visits to church for practice, rehearsal, and service exceed 20 miles per round trip.
The charge for contracting singers/instrumentalists is $15-$35/person hired.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanks to our pastors at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church: Brodie Taphorn, Eric Waters, Buff Delcamp, Paul Ulring, Dave Mann, Dan Clark, Scott Ford, and David Drumel. We appreciate you.

Guest blogger Michael Levin on Zig Ziglar

The next-to-last time I saw Zig Ziglar, I was one of 17,000 in attendance at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, where he was speaking as part of a program of superstars, including Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Joe Montana. He was onstage accompanied by his daughter, Julie Ziglar Norman, because Zig had suffered a fall a couple of years before that and nobody wanted him to fall again, especially onstage, and especially in front of 17,000 people.

On April 15, 2011, I saw Zig again, this time for lunch, with his daughter Julie and his son Tom. From 17,000 down to four. If you love Zig Ziglar as I do, you can readily understand it was one of the greatest thrills of my life.

Zig Ziglar is one of the greatest motivators, authors, sales trainers, and inspiring figures the world has known. Millions have read his books and listened to his recordings, and they became, as a result, better salespeople, better spouses, better parents, better people. His mellifluous baritone echoes through the mind of anyone who has listened to him speak. His values harken back to a better world, where integrity was the watchword, where faith mattered, and where sales was a profession in search of a champion.

Zig was their champion. He grew up one of twelve children during the Depression, on a farm in Yazoo City, Mississippi, and his father passed away when he was five years old. By age six, Zig was earning his own money, and selling, mowing lawns. He used that money to buy his first suit, which he wore to church. By the time I met Zig face to face, he had been selling—lawn mowing services, pots and pans, sales training, personal development, and the ideas of his Holy Bible, for 79 years. “You must be married,” Zig said, as we were introduced. “I can tell by how nicely you’re dressed. Only a married man could dress that nicely.”

At lunch, Zig leaned over to me and said, quite seriously, “Never say anything negative about yourself.” It sounds so obvious, but we all do it all the time. If we don’t see ourselves as wondrously made, as Zig likes to quote from the Bible, who will?

I asked Zig what caused him to make the transition from sales training to motivational speaking. His son Tom explained that Zig studied the success of his students, and he realized that only 20 percent of it was due to technique. The other 80 percent was due to reputation and character. So that’s when Zig began to focus on those issues and not just talk about selling.

But don’t estimate old Zig on sales. He’s forgotten more about sales than most of us will ever know. One of his most enduring stories involves his son Tom, who at the time was contemplating a career as a professional golfer. Zig and Tom were playing a competitive round of golf and Tom needed a long putt to drop in order to win the hole. He made the putt, and then he asked his father, “Dad, were you rooting for me?”

As only Zig can say, in that honeyed Southern drawl, “Son, I’m always rooting for you.”

As massive as Zig’s audience was, the publishing industry didn’t think him worth a shot when he wrote the book I found many years later in that furniture store, See You At The Top. By then, Zig had been providing sales training to the Mary Kay Company. Mary Kay Ash was such a devotee of his, Tom told me at lunch, that she told Zig that if he were to self-publish the book, she would buy the first 10,000 copies. Those initial 10,000 sales mushroomed into millions upon millions of books, since Zig has now authored 26 books in all.

I had the extraordinary privilege of editing Zig’s last book Born To Win. I’ve edited or coached hundreds of writers, and it was an uncanny, almost out-of-body experience instead of quoting Zig to people, talking directly to Zig, and making suggestions—how dare I?—to improve his manuscript.

It means the world to me that I was able to meet him face to face at lunch with just him, his two grown children who work with him, and me, and tell him that he made me a better salesperson, a better husband, a better father, a better believer, and a better man.

As I headed out to drive to the airport, Zig took me by the hand and cautioned me to drive carefully.

“After all, most people are caused by accidents,” he warned, with mock solemnity.

New York Times best selling author and Shark Tank survivor Michael Levin runs, and is a nationally acknowledged thought leader on the future of book publishing.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Observed at the coffee shop today

“What do you say!” she barked loudly to her small daughter who had just received her do-nut. “Thank you,” the little one meekly replied.

I know I did that to my kids too back in the 1970s, which is probably why I noticed (could hear myself) but gosh, it grates on my old ears now. It kind of smacks of “Everyone look at me, I’m teaching my kid good manners (by being rude to her in public).”

We had a lot of help becoming the crass, rude, it’s-all-about-me people we are today. Here’s my own assessment.

Prayer and Bible reading were taken out of schools incrementally, which removed any thought that there was an over arching system of justice or wisdom above Me. Today you can’t even pass out red and green M&Ms at a school “holiday party.”

A War on Poverty was launched which drove men out of their children’s lives and diminished respect for marriage, which in turn removed tacit authority of parents. A single mom making $29,000 a year, can boost her income to about $69,000 through government benefits like housing allowances, EITC, SNAP, etc.

Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) took the Catholic church in a different direction, with much misunderstanding and craziness, and the Protestants just followed along. Happy clappy songs and sloppy loopy teachings have replaced sound doctrine and good liturgy in all Christian denominations.

With falling standards among Christians in the 60s and 70s, divorce, contraception and abortion became the trinity of free and/or marital sex and shacking up. What’s the point of modeling good behavior?

Boomers came of age—got themselves into all sorts of messes, including war protests and Marxism. Resulted in a lot of them becoming academics and passing it along to Gen-Xers and Next-Gen. They became sappy grandparents with low to no standards.
That’s a lot to read into a rude parenting style, but words have consequences to the 3rd and 4th generation.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Thank you!

Thank you, Brodie Taphorn, Eric Waters, Buff Delcamp, Paul Ulring, Scott Ford, Dan Clark, Dave Mann and Dave Drumel, who pastor our 9 services at our 3 campuses of Upper Arlington Lutheran Church.

Polygamists wait to see the outcome of gay marriage shift

Polygamists. They are waiting in line for us to change the centuries old rules for marriage. And why not? What's so sacred about the number two in sex and definitions of marriage? Many people are serial spouses now. Why not 3 or 4 men if 2 men is OK? It will just add a few pounds to the Social Security Handbook which already has 2700+ rules. So if you think your church has settled this issue , and you're patting yourself on the back because your congregation is so open and welcoming, think again. "Beneath the sensationalism, there lies a real question. If Americans increasingly value their rights to privacy and liberty above historical social norms, then why should the state not legally approve other unconventional domestic set-ups?" And of course, evenutally using the word "unconventional" or even "couple" would than become hate speech. [quote from Washington Post article, Oct. 5, 2012]

And after that hurdle, you'll need to be looking at age, and biological relationships. With contraception, abortion, artificial insemination taking the place of marital sex and the biblical purpose of marriage (children, procreation), why not marry your sister or brother, or your mother-in-law?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Black Saints, Mystics, Holy Folk (The Ancient African Liturgical Church

Black Saints, Mystics, Holy Folk(The Ancient African Liturgical Church, Vol. I) - Video - Catholic Online

Coptic Christians are in great danger today due to uprisings against our current administration.  Pray for their safety.  They have been repressed for years by Muslims.  Christians were in Africa a thousand years before they made it to Scandinavia.  Jesus lived in Africa. Learn the history of the church in Africa.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday July 29 at Lakeside

Great sermon by Pastor Irwin Jennings (retired Methodist pastor and father-in-law of the President of Lakeside) on difficult material this morning. King David having an affair with Bathsheba and then plotting her husband's death. 2 Samuel 11. Wow. They sure didn't cover up sin in the old Bible stories, did they? There is forgiveness, but there are consequences, but it works out in God's plan. This is the messy family line from which the Messiah came to us for our sin. Wonderful music with guest musicians (a family) from North Carolina.

No matter the topic, it must be tough to compete for attention with blue skies, a gorgeous lake, and the sailboats drifting by. But it is a wonderful spot for church services.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let's raise up missionaries for Oregon and Maine

Recently my husband attended an afternoon meeting with a lovely couple from Campus Crusade who are raising support to help prostitutes in India get off the streets and into employment, and in the process hopefully bring them to Christ.

Christianity is experiencing quite a drop off in Maine and Oregon according to some recent figures. Perhaps we could shore up the churches here. It's not as dramatic, but it might be a lot less expensive to turn the trend here at home rather than to have to start over in 50 years.

Envy, one of the seven deadly sins

Envy is one of the 7 deadly sins--something all Christians used to know, determined in the 6th century and popularized by Chaucer in the 14th c. The rest are pride, lust, anger, gluttony, greed and sloth. Envy is at the root of President Obama's campaign.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Rhine flows into the Tiber; a history of Vatican II by Fr. Ralph M. Wiltgen, S.V.D.

From a website

”Unbiased, definitive, popularly written history of Vatican II. Tells it like it really happened. Filled with facts. Totally absorbing. Shows the efforts of the "Rhine Fathers" to take control of the Council. Crucial to understand what is shaping the Church today. TAN Books. This is an unparalleled eyewitness account of just what transpired at the Second Vatican Council. The author's integrity and objectivity won him exclusive interviews with a great number of the Cardinal and Bishops, whatever their allegiance within the Council. The title neatly sums up the fact that Vatican II, and the documents of Vatican II, were shaped largely by the liberal ideas of the Fathers from the Rhine lands.

In The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, the strategies of the liberals in promoting their ideas come through on every page. Father Wiltgen's journalistic masterpiece shows clearly the two main theological forces that were at work in the church before the Council, during the Council, and after the Council, and which remain very much at work in the Church today. Here are the actions and actual words of the famous personalities of the Council, including Cardinals Ottaviani, Frings, and Suenens; Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre; Fathers Karl Rahner, Joseph Ratzinger, and Hans Kung-and of course, Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. This book is essential for anyone who would understand the new orientations which came to the fore with Vatican Council II-including the famous "Spirit of Vatican II"-orientations which have led to momentous destruction and unprecedented changes in the entire Roman Catholic Church. Important reading!”

From another website

In The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber, author, historian, journalist and eye-witness to the events, Fr. Ralph M. Wiltgen, presents to the modern reader a history of that council that is at once factual, authoritative, fair, objective, impartial, thorough, and completely interesting. As amazing-and at times even incredible-as are some of the facts that he brings to light, his most important contribution for us today is the fact that he focuses on the role played by that coalition of liberal bishops from the countries bordering the Rhine River in assuming command of the direction which the Council took-and thereby, which is crucial, of the direction taken by the commissions set up in the aftermath of the Council. These commissions "implemented" Vatican II and were responsible for interpreting the recommendations of the Council in their practical and pastoral applications.

Written by a professional historian who daily published a news service, in six different languages, of the proceedings of the Council (through his Council News Service, which went out to over 3,000 subscribers in 108 countries), The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber gradually emerged from the welter of literature about Vatican II as the authoritative, popular history of that Council.

As the author explains in his preface, he had access to "all official correspondence, documents and working papers received by the Council Fathers from the Council's Secretariat," as well as to "all correspondence and documentation sent by the Rhine group to its members, as well as additional documentation from other groups," etc. In addition to this, Father Wiltgen also interviewed two Council Fathers each day during the 281 days that the Council was in session. From all this in-depth exposure to the official proceedings and behind-the-scenes aspirations and maneuverings, he was in a providential position to gather the facts he has so capably recorded in this masterful and absorbing account of Vatican Council II.

The Church stands eternally in his debt for writing this book, and whoever would understand the issues and forces that are still shaping the history and direction of the Catholic Church in our day simply must read The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Catherine Booth

I've been enjoying "Martin Luther had a wife," and "Harriet Beecher Stowe had a husband," a two in one special by William J. Petersen, Tyndale House Publishers, 1983 (Christian Herald Family Bookshelf edition). Petersen, former editor of Eternity Magazine, is an excellent writer, and each marriage is presented in an entertaining and interesting style. The fifth selection in the first book is about William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army.

Catherine Booth, who wrote many of her busy husband's sermons, was criticized by a male preacher for speaking from the pulpit. (1858) She responded with a 32 page rebuttal.

History of the Booths here.

I see from browsing Google that Petersen also wrote a 2-fer on C.S. Lewis and his wife and Catherine Marshall and her husband plus one on Johann Sebastian Bach and his wife, which includes John and Polly Newton, Johann Sebastian and Magdalena Bach, George and Mary Muller, Hannah Whitall and Robert Pearsall Smith, and Francis and Edith Schaeffer. Petersen's stories are a wonderful way to learn history and to build faith, because all these people had numerous challenges.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Christians in Arab countries

"In Muslim lands and Muslim minority communities around the world, radical Islamist tendencies following, or imitating, Wahhabism have gained new energy in the aftermath of the faded "Arab Spring." As the pro-democracy mobilizations in Arab lands have resulted instead in victories for the radical Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt, and with the increasing prominence of radical groups in Egypt, Syria, Libya and Yemen, an Bahrain, Islamist victories have coincided with a new offensive among South Asian Muslims by Deobandis, precursors of the Taliban, and allied with the Saudi Wahhabis.

In Nigeria, a similarly extremist, Wahhabi-oriented group, the "Boko Haram" [literally, "Western Education is a Sin"] has spread terror, especially targeting Christians, across the Muslim north.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, "Boko Haram" has murdered 1,000 people since its appearance in the country in 2009; is crossing Nigeria's borders into the neighbouring state of Chad, and threatening Niger and Cameroon -- as well as having links with Al-Qaida in the regional branch of the terror-force founded by the late Osama Bin Laden, which claims the entire Islamic Maghreb, or western North Africa,

Nigerian Islamist fanatics have demonstrated two features in common with Saudi Wahhabism: hatred of Christians and contempt for women. The contempt for women is exemplified by marriages to underage females by the former governor of Zamfara State in northwestern Nigeria, and now a federal senator, known as Sani: Alhaji Ahmad Sani Yariman Bakura."


Sunday, May 20, 2012

UALC Spring Concert

Last night the Lytham Rd. Choir of Upper Arlington Lutheran Church presented "In His Footsteps," a spring concert of gospel, classical and folk. Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, Oh what a foretaste. . . Thank you, Brian Carlton, director, and all the wonderful musicians. We appreciate you!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Church news out and about

Interesting statistic heard during the 8:15 service (traditional with liturgy, creed, confession, organ, hymns) this morning. Our service has the lowest numbers, but the best attendance. If we were in church today, chances are we were there last week and the week before.

They announced in church today that Dolly Denman had died. Oh my! Heaven is in for some fun, bright colors and singing. Until a few months ago when she was diagnosed with cancer she was singing in the UALC choir and another community choir. She was no longer driving, but Curt and Barbara, her neighbors, brought her to church faithfully. It doesn't seem all that long ago I remember her riding her bike to church--which probably wasn't safe even for a teen-ager let alone a senior citizen considering the distance and busy route. I figure her death has freed up the angels that must have stopped traffic or sat on the fender guiding her. Dolly and her husband Chuck who died a few years ago were so enthusiastic about Marriage Encounter they must have brought hundreds into the movement back in the 1980s. Their Christmas letters were worthy of the archives. We'll see you later, old friend.
DENMAN Dolly Denman has completed her journey through this mortal life and stepped into eternity with Jesus. Remaining are daughter, Diana; sister, Sandy; nephews, nieces, and friends. Memorial service May 14, 10 a.m., Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, 2300 Lytham Road.

Congregational meeting for Upper Arlington Lutheran Church (UALC) at 12:30 today at the Mill Run campus (Hilliard, Ohio); light lunch. We have a slate of nominees for Council and Nominating Committee to consider and will vote on recommended amendments to the North American Lutheran Church (NALC)'s constitution and full communion relationship with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, the largest Lutheran church denomination in Africa.

Heard on Catholic radio yesterday morning (no source given): "The third largest religious group in America is "fallen away" Catholics." In fourth spot must be "fallen away" Protestants (Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutheran, Brethren). Maybe they're all just trading places?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Armenian Genocide--1.5 million

BEIRUT: On the 97th anniversary (April 24) of the Armenian Genocide, 5,000 people are expected to protest Tuesday in front of the Turkish Embassy in Beirut against Ankara’s refusal to recognize the mass killings as genocide.

The commemoration will kick off with a Mass at the Armenian Orthodox Catholicosate in Antelias, north of Beirut, at 9:30 a.m. Following the Mass, which is expected to gather around 10,000 people, a prayer will be said for the souls of those who were killed in the tragic events.

Read more:

As Hitler was planning to invade Poland:
    Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter—with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command—and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad—that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness—for the present only in the East—with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians? —p. 11–12 What about Germany?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The abortion that didn't happen

His mother was a professional basketball player who was scheduled for an abortion, then prayed to God for guidance, got a pretty clear answer the next day in a sermon at church and cancelled her appointment at the abortion clinic.

“JaVale McGee is 7 feet, with a 7'6½" wingspan and a 31½-inch vertical leap, unfathomable for a man his size. At 24, he can tap the front of the rim with his forehead. He can slap the top of the square with his palm. He can dunk a cookie in a bowl of milk 11 feet off the ground. When McGee was at the University of Nevada, an opposing player once explained to his coach why he couldn't guard him: "He jumped over me."

Read the whole story and how she told JaVale.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bonhoeffer at Union Seminary 80 years ago


Accustomed to the rigors of German scholarship and theology, the visiting young student Dietrich Bonhoeffer not yet 25 writes in 1930 about his colleagues—faculty and students—at Union:

“The theological atmosphere of the Union Theological Seminary is accelerating the process of the secularization of Christianity in America. Its criticism is directed essentially against the fundamentalists and to a certain extent also against the radical humanists in Chicago; it is healthy and necessary. But there is no sound basis on which one can rebuild after demolition. It is carried away with the general collapse. A seminary in which it can come about that a large number of students laugh out loud in a public lecture at the quoting of a passage from Luther’s De servo arbitrio on sin and forgiveness because it seems to them to be comic has evidently completely forgotten what Christian theology by its very nature stands for.”

“Things [outside the seminary] are not much different in the church. The sermon has been reduced to parenthetical church remarks about newspaper events. As long as I’ve been here, I have heard only one sermon in which you could hear something like a genuine proclamation, and that was delivered by a negro. . . One big question continually attracting my attention in view of these facts is whether one here really can still speak about Christianity. . . There’s no sense to expect the fruits where the Word really is no longer being preached. But then what becomes of Christianity per se?”

The American seminaries had, of course, taken their lead from the 19th century German theologians, even though as Bonhoeffer noted they were not even up to the level of the fundamentalists they ridiculed. America had long since lost the fervor of the “awakenings” that had shaped it, at least in the seminaries. At that time, Hitler’s small party was gaining ground in Germany. Germany has since recovered from that disastrous time—at least politically and economically. I’m not sure the American mainline churches have been able to expunge the demons of the liberal seminaries.

From p. 105-6 of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

Cross posted at Collecting my thoughts

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Do couples still get married in churches?

                         Columbus bride

Recently at our Faith of our Fathers group (FOOF) at the UALC Mill Run church we were discussing the removal of most religious/Christian content from public education textbooks and courses despite its inclusion in the founding documents. But maybe we should be looking closer to home.

Today I picked up (free) a copy of Columbus Bride at Giant Eagle. You'd be hard pressed to find any religious content in the wedding photos--hardly even a church or cathedral. Lots of country clubs, old barns, the Atheneum (which has sort of a faux chapel), Franklin Park Conservatory, old wineries, city streets, parks, and party barns. Maybe it's the interior of the modern churches which look like theaters and party houses--so why not just rent one or take the photos outside?

When we were in Russia in 2006 we saw so many weddings in the public square--in front of government buildings, fountains, parks etc. They had 70 years of Communism. What's our excuse?

                 Russian wedding

Cross posted at Collecting my thoughts

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wash my dirty feet, Lord

Jesus, my feet are dirty. Come even as a slave to me, pour water into your bowl, come and wash my feet. In asking such a thing I know I am overbold, but I dread what was threatened when you said to me, “If I do not wash your feet I have no fellowship with you.” Wash my feet then, because I long for your companionship.

—Origen (c. 185–254)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Yoga and Christians

“As we know, yoga is the Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind and will or a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and wellbeing.“ Urban Zen Foundation

“Yoga is a spiritual practice, and can be a pathway to good physical health but has nothing to do with giving up one’s own religion.” Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," Jesus

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Science and the Bible

"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1. "Quantum physics is based on the idea that information can be created completely spontaneously, namely without any preexisting information." Sometimes these scientists try too hard to explain things.

Soapbox Science

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who is your neighbor?

In the Lutheran liturgy each Sunday we confess: "We have not loved you [God] with our whole heart: we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves." Most Christians abstractly realize the woman they meet on the street who is mentally ill or unemployed or selling her body is their "neighbor" and they know they have a responsibility toward her whether or not they act on it or ignore her. And if the woman is obviously 8 months pregnant, they may even figure out the baby is their neighbor too. But what if the baby isn't so visible--say, the disheveled woman or college student or well-dressed lawyer is only 4 months pregnant. When do the unborn lose their "neighbor" status in Jesus' command?

When the news came out about the HHS mandate to religious institutions to cover "reproductive health" in their health insurance plans, I began asking some questions about Christian churches and organizations that already go far beyond the Obama mandate--all the way to abortion for any reason, even gender selection, which is the policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Then I began wondering about our donations to the organizations that help the poor and afflicted, like Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio. So I contacted them, and much to my dismay learned that yes, it does include abortion in its employee health insurance. So today I sent a note to a prominent Lutheran:
Dr. Kurt Senske serves as Chief Executive Officer of Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSSS) and as Chair of the Board of Directors of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a Fortune 500 financial services organization. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Lutheran Services in America, which has more than 300 member organizations and a combined budget of over $8 billion.

    "Dear Dr. Senske--I see you are CEO of LSSS and on the Board of Directors of Thrivent and Lutheran Services in America. What is the abortion coverage for your employee health insurance? Here in Ohio LSS covers abortion. The ELCA mandates it for its synod churches' employee insurance. To what extent are you personally involved in this?"

Sunday, February 05, 2012

U.S. Catholic Bishops letter against Obamacare mandate

By googling today, I found out that ELCA, the former synod of UALC, 1988-2010 (we are now North American Lutheran Church) also mandates insurance coverage for its employees (and I’m assuming the member churches) that includes abortion for any reason, even gender selection and coverage of same sex partners. We Lutherans in the pew were not told that, although it may have been discussed when the merger took place in the 1980s. So I shouldn't be surprised that the average Catholic who attends Mass and maybe occasionally goes to confession is clueless about the contraception mandate that was included in Obamacare and now being forced on Roman Catholic employers.

I think that would have been a better reason to leave ELCA than the non-celebate gay pastors who were defying their ordination agreement induced sexual statement that the synod rammed through.

The usual wordy gobble-de-gook from ELCA which seems to be brevity-challenged
Exposing the ELCA by a very unhappy former member, but it does address the abortion/insurance issue
Catholic Phoenix
Pregnant Pause

Saturday, January 28, 2012

James study by Beth Moore

Some in our Beth Moore class [James] have sighed, "Ah, vintage Beth Moore." Not in my opinion. It is Beth Moore mixed with higher criticism. Her daughter Melissa, who now has a divinity degree is helping her with the writing. See pp. 80-81 of the workbook where she says the Jewish Christians didn't have the canon and therefore use of "Word" in James was referring to Mosaic Law. Huh? They had eye witnesses (including James, the brother of Jesus), they had the Holy Spirit. God's Word travelled a missionary journal all the way to the British Isles without an official canon--I think it's probable that James knew which Word he was talking about. God's revealed Word of Scripture doesn't depend on writing it down any more than the revealed Word in Creation or the revealed Word in the Incarnation did. She's so close to teaching that our pitiful good works added to Jesus' perfect work is what transforms us, I can hardly keep my coffee from spilling on the page!

Here's where the Lutheran liturgy is a helpful reminder. After confessing we haven't loved God with our whole heart or our neighbors as ourselves, the pastor reminds us that in his mercy, God gave his son, AND FOR HIS SAKE, forgives us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Damping down the appetites

Recently I was looking at a "commitment" leaders in public ministry were to sign at an Illinois church. It covered everything from eating/shopping addictions to illegal drugs to abuse and lying. 8 of the 10 were concerned with physical appetite. Although it was to be used for scheduling "counseling," I can't even imagine how it could be used against a volunteer or employee. What would the pastor do if someone actually signed the statement that he used illegal drugs, or had fondled a child? The pastor obviously felt a duty to open someone else's eyes and conscience. Shoddy workmanship, falsifying time sheets, bank robbery, embezzlement, copyright violation, etc. weren't listed, but could be included I hope under "other sins that compromise your Christian walk." I wonder if they had a lawyer look it over.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Hymn singing

On hymns: "The birth of Jesus was announced in song, and the last act of worship of our Lord and his disciples was the singing of a hymn. Sacred song, rooted in the Hebrew tradition, occupied from the first a preeminent position in Christian worship. The earliest hymns were psalms and canticles. Initially the people sang them, though by the fourth century in the East, and by the seventh in the West, they had become part of the liturgy and a matter for the clergy and the choirs. Not again until the time of the Reformation was the hymn restored to the people as their rightful heritage in worship." From Service Book and Hymnal (Lutheran), music edition, 1958, p. 285

Work on this hymnal began almost 70 years ago--Lutherans were from many traditions, languages and ethnicities, but they managed to include nearly 80 American authors. Explanations and history in old hymnals are very interesting. It's a tremendous loss to just use words cast on a screen. You miss so much information.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Advent Meditations from the writings of Henri Nouwen

I can't imagine a Roman Catholic congregation, say St. Agatha's or St. Andrew's located near-by in Upper Arlington, selecting an advent devotional booklet prepared from the writings of Martin Luther or John Calvin, but Upper Arlington Lutheran Church distributed "Advent Meditations from the writings of Henri Nouwen," a prominent Roman Catholic priest who died in 1996. Even if he weren't Catholic, when his writings are sliced and diced and packaged like this, they make no sense. For example:

"Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there." What does that say? What does it mean? Could you rephrase it? Could you apply it?

"Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us." I don't know where your hope is, but mine isn't in the Christian community. My Christian community isn't why I can "live with courage" or "live without surrendering to powerful forces seducing me toward despair." Huh?

After observing that Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah were all waiting, Nouwen says, "We too can wait only if what we are waiting for has already begun for us." I think I understand all the components of this essay on waiting, seed, growing, nurture, promise, but why does the actual Bible make more sense than the meditation on it?

The problem here, is the problem I have with most writing by Catholics. It's very pretty; it's devotional; it's awe inspiring; some is even powerful. But there's no gospel. That's where the power is; that's our hope.

The clarity of Luther's voice is surely apparent in his Advent and Christmas preaching - the Lord's Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem, the preaching of John the Baptist, the annunciation, and the nativity. Showing remarkable theological insight and pastoral warmth, Luther crafts vivid and graphic pictures of the meanness and misery of the biblical stories of the Lord's birth. All the great themes of Luther's theology - incarnation, justification, the "happy exchange," sacraments, the theology of the cross - are present in these sermons. Advent and Christmas evoke the best in Luther's preaching as he proclaims Bethlehem's crib in light of the cross. Ulrich Asendorf rightly notes that "Luther's Advent sermons are a microcosm of his spiritual world."
Ulrich Asendorf, "Luther's Sermons on Advent as a Summary of His Theology," in A Lively Legacy: Essays in Honor of Robert Preus, edited by Kurt Marquart, John Stephenson, and Bjarne W. Teigen (Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary, 1985), 13.

Monday, January 02, 2012

St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen

St Basil the Great (330 - 379)
Basil was born in 330 at Caesarea in Cappadocia, of a Christian family. A brilliant scholar and a virtuous man, he started by becoming a hermit but was made bishop of Caesarea in 370. He fought against the Arians and wrote many notable works, in particular the monastic rule that bears his name and which many monks in the East follow to this day. He was also generous to the poor. He died on 1 January 379.

"The Longer Rules and The Shorter Rules," pp 99-103 of Masterpieces of Christian Literature

St Gregory Nazianzen (330 - 389)
He was born in 330, near Nazianzus. He travelled widely in search of knowledge. He followed his friend Basil into the wilderness, but he too was ordained and later made a bishop. He was elected Bishop of Constantinople in 381 but because of the factional fighting within the Church he retired to Nazianzus, where he died on 25 January 389 or 390. He is known as “Gregory the Theologian” in honour of his learning and eloquence.

"Five Theological Orations," pp 113-117 Masterpieces of Christian Literature

See also "The Cappadocian fathers" in The Story of Christian Spirituality, pp 130-