Wednesday, December 29, 2004

225 Would a church try this hard?

Today I got another mailing from a Christian music club--one of those 12 CDs for the price of one deals. I'm not sure how they've found me, because we've moved since I told them in no uncertain words that I wanted OUT OUT OUT of that confusing, ridiculous points and bonus and "act now" membership. Today's letter was from the President. Calling me by my personal name he wrote:

"When I took this job, I asked my new staff lots of questions. One of those questions was about you:

Why do we lose good members like Norma?

After all, since you joined the Club in January 2001, you saved $50.94 on CDs. But you left anyway.

Clearly, we needed to do a much better job for you. So I made some key changes. In this letter, I'll tell you about those changes. . ."

Do churches ever send letters like this when a member or long time visitor stops coming? Do they know? Or care? Was it that no one visited when she was hospitalized? Was it the schedule? Was it the music? Was it the sermons? I don't think churches ask the questions music clubs do.

In a P.S., the President says: "I'm serious. I'd like to hear your opinion. One way would be by canceling within your 10-day free trial--although that's not exactly what I'm hoping to hear. Another way: drop me a note. (Please be sure to include your name and address.) It will get to me and I'll read it." I'm not going to re-up, but I think I will send him a note. I send notes to my pastors too, both when I like something and when I don't. I think everyone should--then maybe we'd have fewer missing members.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

224 Christian Fiction

"As a kid, I was never a big fan of the Sugar Creek Gang novels. I must have been the odd boy out, however, because our church library had tons of volumes, all of them lined up straight and tall on their own shelf as if they were themselves proud of the universal parental and ecclesiastical approval they brandished. Even today, those books stand in my memory as truly righteous stories for truly righteous boys.

Of which I didn't know many. Perhaps that's why I didn't care for the books. Despite the fact my mother wanted me to read them, despite the fact the church library was full of them, despite the fact that the boys in their pages occasionally got in trouble, I found the novels rather odd. They were, to me, unreal. Often as not the boys were naughty, but they always came out of fray on their knees, in prayer, smelling as sweet as the rose of Sharon. I attended a Christian school, went to church twice every Sunday, and lived, for all practical purposes, in a verifiably Christian community. But among the Sugar Creek Gang boys, I didn't recognize a soul. They weren't real."

Read the full essay on Christian fiction by James Calvin Schaap.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

223 Putting Christ back in Christmas

A high school in Kirkland, Washington got the Ebeneezer Award for cancelling the kids' performance of "The Christmas Carol." Story here.

Here's another school story (apocryphal, I assume) by Pastor Scott about the baby in the manger and Santa Claus that you might enjoy.

Monday, December 20, 2004

222 He just doesn't get it

"Why isn't a vaginally delivered baby miracle enough? Why do we have to debase creation to accommodate our denominational predilections? WP" posted by Austropithecanthropus. I would have explained it to him, but his blog has no comments and he leaves no e-mail address, so he is footprintless in the sands of cyberspace, wandering around clueless when any Christian could have answered him from Genesis.

Friday, December 17, 2004

221 It's not the Second Coming, just Trump's perfume

Uncompromising. Persuasive. Determined. Passion for power. Demands the best. It's not the second coming of Christ, just the ad agency's words for "Donald Trump" fragrance. 3.4 oz. Eau de Toilette Spray, $60.

Although we have no recorded knowledge of Savior smells, a spokeswoman for this product describes it as:

"the top note, or scent, of the cologne contains citrus notes with hints of mint, cucumber and black basil. The core note is made from an exotic plant -- which the company keeps secret -- that provides a green effect with woody undertones, rounded out with spicy, peppery accents. The finish come from exotic woods and has earthy, herbaceous and spicy notes."

Secret, earthy, woody, and spicy accents. Works for me. The second coming, that is.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

220 Vox Blogoli condemns another legacy media

Shades of Dan Rather. Newsweek’s December 13 issue was a Christmas hatchet job, one-sided and agenda driven, according to Hugh Hewitt.

“Within 10 days of Meacham's [Newsweek article on Christ], his credentials had been reviewed for all to see by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The article itself had been painstakingly--and fairly--sliced and diced by accomplished theologian, pastor, scholar, and author, Dr. Mark D. Roberts, whose double Harvard degrees, including a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, make his careful and complete criticisms of Meacham's reporting hard to dismiss.

After interviewing both Mohler and Roberts for two hours on the air, I then posted links to the Newsweek piece and their criticisms, and invited bloggers from around the internet to weigh in via a virtual symposium I term a "Vox Blogoli." Dozens of bloggers accepted the invite, and an astonishing array of piercing reviews of Meacham followed. Among many favorites are the Evangelical Outpost and Tapscott's Copy Desk, but all of them are well worth the read. (The complete list of symposium posts can be read here.)”

Mohler's evaluation of Meacham: "Newsweek should be embarrassed by this one-sided article presented as a serious investigation of the Christmas story. The magazine's editor may brag about Meacham's extensive study as a college student, but there can be no justification for the lack of balance and the absence of credible conservative scholarship in this article. This is not a serious and balanced consideration of the Christian truth claim, but a broadside attack packaged as a condescending essay of advice from Newsweek's very savvy, very sophisticated, very Episcopalian, and very ambitious managing editor."

Roberts, Crosswalk and Evangelical Outpost are included in my "Faithful Bloggers" links, here and at Collecting My Thoughts.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

219 Which Christmas Carol Are You?

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
You are 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing'. You take
Christmas very seriously. For you, it is a
religious festival, celebrating the birth of
the Saviour, and its current secularisation
really irritates you. You enjoy the period of
Advent leading up to Christmas, and attend any
local carol services you can find, as well as
the more contemplative Advent church services
each Sunday. You may be involved in Christmas
food collections or similar charity work. The
midnight service at your church, with candles
and carols, is one you look forward to all
year, and you also look forward to the family
get together on Christmas Day.

What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, December 13, 2004

218 The power of a picture--baby Samuel

Samuel Armas' tiny hand grips Dr. Joseph P. Bruner's finger just as Bruner finishes returning him to his mother's womb - Dec. 9, 1999

The famous photo of baby Samuel's hand reaching out from the uterus of his mother at 21-weeks gestation during foetal surgery, has turned the veteran photo-journalist hired by USA Today for the shoot into a pro-life activist. Michael Clancy, who snapped the photo after seeing the baby's hand jut out of the hole in the womb made by the surgeons, now offers his image free of charge to pro-life groups.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

217 Olivia's Mother

My mother's name was Olive. I never thought the name "Olive" was pretty sounding, except when attached to her. But the name Olivia has a lovely sound. Over at Love and Blunder, Devona writes about the vocation of being a mother to Olivia.

I have been given the office and vocation by God to be Olivia's mother. That means that I have the obligation and responsibility to raise her in the Faith, to discipline her, to love her, and to provide for her. I also have been placed in a position of authority over her, and she has the responsibility to love and obey me, and to recognize I am not her equal but her superior.

The humbling thought is that I have done nothing to deserve this office. I am not better than Olivia. We are made of the same mortal and sinful flesh. We are both subject to the curse, and tainted with sin. We are both made righteous only through the shedding of Jesus' blood for our sins. I am spiritually Olivia's equivalent.

Her blog is listed on Blogs of the Augsburg Confession.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

216 The Liturgy as Teacher

Sometimes when I attend an “informal” church service, I look around at the 30-somethings and wonder how many of them will remember those choruses and praise tunes when they are in a nursing home or dying? If they visit another church, will they have to start all over with different mind-numbing, repetitious sing-alongs (like Baptist friends who attended our informal service and didn‘t recognize a single praise song). Maybe they will remember--some are awfully simple and seem to stick in the mind like radio commercials for God. Perhaps I underestimate God’s ability to break through in any musical form.

When I was in elementary school my mother faithfully took us to a Lutheran church because a friendly neighbor invited us. We were living in a town with no church of our denomination--even though there were three churches for 1,000 residents. My sisters even attended confirmation classes with their classmates. There was never any intention that we would join, and we always knew who we were--NOT Lutheran. I think we attended there 5 or 6 years until we returned “home.” About 25 years later my husband and I tried a Lutheran church at the invitation of another friend, and much of the service was immediately familiar to me (totally foreign to him), despite the changes in the hymnbook and liturgy over the years.

In an article about the liturgy as teacher, Rev. Richard C. Resch (LCMS) writes:
“The church learns its lessons slowly, usually through repetition. A child is never too young to begin the rhythm, the comforting rhythm, of week after week, year after year hearing and rehearsing the liturgy. It is a rhythm that is blessed and good for saints of all ages. The very prayers that need to be on their lips are put there by liturgy: Create in me a clean heart....Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord....Grant us your peace. At the same time, the promises of God are remembered again and again: God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins....This is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins. This is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins....He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end. . . Where else is memory taught from the cradle to grave by a stable, consistent rehearsing of the same words? Nowhere. From baptism to the last moments of this life, the liturgy is there with just the right words for the child of God to say yet again.”

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

215 The Taliban--It was about Gender

“But everything in Afghanistan was about gender. While men were punished for what they did, for defying the authorities, the Taliban’s relentless war against Kabul’s middle-class women wasn’t a simple equation of crime and punishment. There was a desperation to the floggings and the stonings meted out to these women, a hysteria behind the ruthless and uncompromising humiliation that spoke to just how powerless the fundamentalist leadership felt in the new world that had taken root in Kabul, the world inching toward modern values like diversity, tolerance and equality. The sight of an unveiled rosy cheek or a lock of hair tousled by the wind was the most intimate, thus the most potent, symbol of a world they could no longer control, despite Allah’s command that they control it. Only by concealing that swath of flesh, by reining in those unruly tresses, could the men in power regain the sense that they were masters of their perversion of a Koranic domain.” pp. 104-105 So many enemies, so little time by Elinor Burkett.

George W. Bush has freed those women. He has done more for women than any American president in history. He freed more people than Lincoln. Millions of women in Afghanistan can again have jobs, education and civil rights because of him. And the Left (who would all claim to be feminists) in this country and Europe won’t even mention it except to castigate him.

That said, what about gender in Christian circles, churches, and countries? It’s certainly not the reign of the Taliban, but there are men deathly afraid of women usurping their power. They push women to the background and keep them covered (some literally, like anabaptists and conservative Catholics).

In my church, a daughter of the congregation who was lovingly and patiently (and at great expense) brought up through the Sunday School and Youth groups, cannot be ordained in her home church if she hears God‘s call to be a pastor, a church supported for maybe 20 years by her parents’ tithes.

In my church, no woman preaches from the pulpit (although for some odd reason she is allowed to read Scripture, sing hymns and pray in front of the males of the congregation).

In my church, no woman teaches an adult Sunday School class or a week-night class where men might be in the audience, unless she has a male co-teacher as her “covering.”

In my church, which has a huge staff (about 60), there are no women administrators, and most of the women on staff are part-timers in clerical positions.

In my church, the board president is almost always a man (I can recall 2 women presidents in the past 35 years, but there may have been one or two I don't remember).

In my church, the hands down, most successful programming is run by women for women, completely independent of the male pastoral hierarchy; they select their own material, manage their own expenses, schedule their own meetings and have an outreach far beyond our local church and denomination. Historically, this is true in most conservative Christian churches.

In my church, the largest and most successful Vacation Bible School in the city, and perhaps all of Ohio, is run primarily by women, with only modest pastoral oversight.

In my church, the exercise/aerobics program (if you click, don't be fooled by the guy--as far as I know my husband is the only long-time regular male in this program) was developed well over a decade ago and staffed by women who sweated and shouted and stayed healthy for the Lord, 7-9 times a week in two locations. They enrolled many hundreds of women (and 2 or 3 men) from all over the community who in turn began attending and brought in their spouse and children to become members.

In my church, a very promising urban/suburban ministry has come about primarily through the efforts of one woman who was able to rally the pastors, staff, volunteers and congregation to see the possibilities in linking a suburban church to a city school.

In my church, the women are not stupid or submissive. They are lawyers, accountants, teachers, professors, homemakers, business owners, homeschoolers, computer programmers, entertainers, nannies, musicians, secretaries, retirees and janitors. We know what is going on, but accept it, because we don’t want a church without men. And that’s what happens to a congregation that tries to be gender inclusive in power--the men will leave or sit back and let the women run everything. Look around you. Name a large evangelical church with female pastoral or board leadership.

And what does the Bible really say about gender? I’ve heard all the tired arguments men in the church have for keeping women submerged below "see level" and busy working in the trenches for Jesus (the kitchen, the nursing home and the nursery). I’ve heard men of every Christian persuasion, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, and every conservative denomination twist Scripture to predict the Second Coming, to define what is a Sacrament, to justify speaking in tongues, to sprinkle or dunk or dip, to serve grape juice or wine, to go to war or outlaw war; but when it comes to gender, they are married very literally to a few favorite verses, be it from the Genesis’ creation story, or Paul’s comments on the reason to keep your head covered. All the rest of their stubbornness and myopia is pure tradition and mythology--cultural and secular to the core. The same level of veracity as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. These same men will send women as missionaries to evangelize in non-western countries, assuming I suppose that the men in those cultures are “like children?”

But no man who reads the Bible seriously can hide or misinterpret Jesus’ own example in the Gospels, where he not only included women in his closest circle of friends, but he announced his purpose and mission first to women. The first century of Christian followers after Jesus returned to the Father began writing women out within 50 years or so after Jesus first revealed himself to women at the tomb and commanded them to go tell the others. And for the next 20 centuries, the rest of Christian manhood has for the most part, been following their example rather than Christ’s.

Where is George Bush when we need him? Certainly not liberating Christian women for full ministry.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

214 How can they be the future?

Interesting discussion between Steve, one of the writers of Outside the Beltway blog, and reader, Ken. Steven points out the silliness of caring about the effects of deficit spending on “future” generations (article in San Francisco Chronicle) while at the same time, aborting them (they aren’t really people and thus have no rights) so they have no future in which to pay taxes. And technically, those people (3 or 4 generations out) also have no rights today.

“Now my guess is that the editorial board at the (the San Francisco Chronicle) are liberal. From this it is probably fair to surmise that the person(s) responsible for that editorial feel that abortion should be legal. Yet it seems strange to invoke fairness to future generations when looking at tax/budget policies. I mean in one case, the argument is that the fetus is not a person and hence has no rights. People three or four generations from now also do not exist, and thus also have no rights. The idea that something is "unfair" to them is just patently ridiculous...using the above reasoning. Seems like a pretty substantial consistency problem, but maybe I'm wrong.”

Ken is not happy and calls Steve and idiot; Steve shreds his arguments and calls Ken a “logically challenged stooge.”

Saturday, November 27, 2004

213 Why are his enemies upset about his faith?

On C-Span2 today I watched part of a conference on Religion and the Presidency, held November 18-19 at The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University. The section I saw was on Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton. Unless the speakers were making up the quotes, I can't imagine why the media gives President Bush such a hard time about his prayer life, his beliefs, and his values.

Also this week-end on C-Span was Richard Dawkins discussing his book "Ancestors Tale." By the time I caught it he was answering questions with pokes and asides at the "nut cases" who are creationists, and receiving a smattering of applause when he said that at least in Britain they aren't in the government. Evolution he says, is true. I am always amazed at the dogged, fundamentalist, fall-down-and-worship faith that evolutionists have. Proof of the Creator is all around us; proof of evolution is nowhere observable.

According to his own publicity: "In The Ancestors Tale, the renowned biologist and thinker Richard Dawkins presents his most expansive work yet: a comprehensive look at evolution, ranging from the latest developments in the field to his own provocative views. Loosely based on the form of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Dawkins's Tale takes us modern humans back through four billion years of life on our planet. The Ancestor's Tale is at once a far-reaching survey of the latest, best thinking on biology and a fascinating history of life on Earth. Here Dawkins shows us how remarkable we are, how astonishing our history, and how intimate our relationship with the rest of the living world."

Friday, November 26, 2004

212 Oops! Wrong church

Huge Thanksgiving services Wednesday evening and Thursday morning at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, known around here as UALC. But spell checks won't tell you when the words are spelled right but in the wrong order. So yesterday's bulletin welcomed us to "Upper Lutheran Arlington Church." It got a good laugh when our pastor mentioned it--most of us hadn't even noticed.

This item has been cross posted at my other blog, Collecting my Thoughts.

ULAC Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

211 New Baby on Board (the Blog Roll)

Amy Welborn, over to the right on my blogroll has had her baby--November 19, I think. Amy holds an MA in Church History from Vanderbilt University, taught theology in Catholic high schools, and served as a parish Director of Religious Education. And she's a mommy again, and can now bend over again, she says. She is the author of "The Words we Pray; discovering the richness of traditional Catholic prayers," and "The DaVinci Code; the facts behind the fiction." She has also authored childrens' books.

De-coding DaVinci Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Hot Jobs in 25 Years

The December issue of Wired has an article, "Hot Jobs in 25 Years," in which experts give their opinions of future growth areas. Dick Bolles, author of the famous and periodically reissued and updated, "What color is your parachute" laughs at the question. He says a film produced in 1975 that predicted hot fields caused howls of laughter when shown in 1985.

Here's my prediction. Audiology and ear drum replacement surgery or implants. Deafness is definitely in our future. But it is hard to convince a 35 or 40 year old, who is already in the early stages of hearing impairment and will probably have to take the headset or wireless earphones out of his ears and ask you to repeat your warning.

I walked to the door of Fellowship Hall at church Sunday for the "Book Fair," bringing the books to the people with the help of our volunteer library staff and local Christian retailers. But I was beaten back at the door, hammered, clobbered, kicked in the head by a live Christian rock band warming up for the 11:15 X-Alt service (jeans and t-shirts demographic). "Informal" or "contemporary" (slacks and layered sweaters demographic) is for the aging baby boomers, and "traditional" or "heritage" (dresses and suits and ties demographic) is primarily for those of us over 60 and a few transfers from liturgical churches hoping for something familiar.

No matter how it is packaged, these musical offerings in enclosed spaces with hard edges and no noise control, is an assault on my ears. And in my case, my heart. I have arrythmia, so I have to immediately leave the premises, and go to a room or hall where only the floor and walls tremble and vibrate, not my heart valves and ear drums. I had to leave our church's spring concert this year to wait in the hall for my husband and our 84 year old guest because the volume was so overwhelming where I was sitting (different building), I was actually in pain. About 10 minutes later, my elderly neighbor joined me in the hall. She couldn't take it either. It's scary when people in their 60s, 70s and 80s have better hearing than 20 year olds. But it does open up numerous career possibilities when all the bass players and drummers are learning sign language.

(Read about new research on the molecular key to hearing: Sound first enters the external ear, traveling through the ear canal until it reaches the ear drum, causing it to vibrate. This then causes the three bones of the middle ear (one of them attached to the ear drum), called auditory ossicles, to vibrate as well. The auditory ossicles carry the vibrations into the inner ear and cause the fluid of the inner ear to vibrate. The fluid in the inner ear then causes a ribbon of cells called hair cells to vibrate up and down. That up and down motion causes tiny hair cells called cilia to move back and forth.

The back-and-forth motion cause the newly discovered protein, which forms pores located at the tips of the cilia, to form pores or channels that open and close in response to sound waves. When the pores open, ions flow into the cells and transform the vibrations into electrical signals.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

209 A Christian and Muslim Talk about Good Deeds

She was still fuming in the parking lot; I could hear her slamming her 12 packs of soda and bags of chips into the back of the SUV. I wheeled my cart to the corral which was next to her vehicle and said, “I apologize for holding you up in the store; usually he doesn’t talk. I‘m really sorry.” “Yeah, whatever,” she snarled.

There was no one behind me at the check out when the clerk and I were comparing what God expects of us in the area of good deeds--I had asked him to separate my food pantry items because I was taking them to church on Thanksgiving Day. He then told me that as a Muslim he had an angel on his right shoulder keeping track of his good deeds, and an angel on his left shoulder tracking his bad deeds, and he hoped that at the end of his life, the totals would work in his favor and he would be allowed into Paradise, but first (difficult to hear because of his accent) he’d have to go to hell for awhile during the computation period. “Are you worried about this?” I asked. “Oh yes, I’m so afraid to do anything bad, and now they are using computers.” (Picture here angels with laptops!) “We Christians believe we are already forgiven for our sins because of Jesus death on the cross, but we too will be asked to account for our deeds on Judgment Day,” I offered. “However, there are many Christians who believe as you do--that they will have to be very good to get into heaven.”

By then, some other shoppers were in my line, looking worried and anxious and glancing at their watches. I’d asked for paper bags which don’t work well in the new turn style system, and then he started doing “something bad,” maybe not in the eyes of the angels, but in their eyes--telling me about the long ordeal to get to the United States, his five years here, and his desire to be a citizen. I heard about the brother who sponsored him, and who will be sponsoring another brother and sister back in Pakistan who are waiting to immigrate. I heard about his selling all his property and worldly goods, about how his file was “lost” for 13 years until the family came up with the money to bribe someone (wasn’t sure if this was in Pakistan or the U.S.)

“See you next week,” I said after getting my change and heading for the parking lot. Although I apologized there (asked forgiveness) to the woman waiting behind me in line, she didn’t offer any forgiveness. Nor is it required. She’ll probably stew about it all day, and tell that story at work or over dinner tonight. Her stomach will be in knots and her blood pressure high, because she wouldn’t forgive. That’s the difference between asking God for forgiveness and asking my neighbor for forgiveness. My neighbor can spit in my face or say, “Yeah, whatever,” and choose to be miserable. God has to forgive me for the sake of Jesus Christ, for all my sins past, present, future. Unlike Muslims, we Christians have the assurance that God is faithful and just and will do what he promised.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

208 Source for Christian Book Reviews

The In Season Christian Librarian is recommending New Christian Books for previews and reviews of evangelical and fundamentalist books. Each entry contains a lengthy excerpt, book jacket blurbs, links to other books on this subject, reviews, author bio, and purchasing information.

207 Off Shore Fisherman

Take a look at the web log of Off Shore Fisherman, for inspiring thoughts, mini-sermons and wonderful photographs. He bravely started blogging in July.

Making every effort to stay alive in the coliseum of ministry.
The lions are big...
The crowd cheers on, I know it's about life and death.
Glad the armour fits.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

206 Fifteen minutes with a Condemned Man

A middle aged woman in your congregation asks to see you privately. In tears, she tells you her son has exhausted his appeals in the courts, and will be executed next Friday morning. You are trying to get your mind around this startling fact as she describes the heinous crime with tears pooling behind her glasses.

How could this be, you wonder. Such a good, kind, decent family--you've known them for years, your predecessor baptized their children, including the condemned man. But this chapter in their life's story had never been revealed in choir, church dinners, food pantry or at the communion rail.

You're brought up short and bumped out of your fog when she asks, no, begs you to spend 15 minutes with him before he dies. Just 15 minutes to tell him about Jesus, she pleads. Your mind races. No anecdotes. No cute family stories from your past. No sorting through what Jesus might have meant in the parables. No clarification of values. No vague references to "our hope." No sports analogies. No vision for church growth. No theological Old Testament types or prophecy to point to the New Testament. Just 15 minutes before a condemned sinner is escorted to the death chamber.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The alarm. You wake up. You're in a sweat, the sheets are soaked. Whew. It was a nightmare, thank God. It's a new day. It's preparation day--sermon polishing day. Your heart sinks. You realize as never before you now have to plan a sermon of 15 minutes to tell 700 condemned sinners about Jesus. Maybe the nightmare isn't over?

As your head clears, the words of confession begin to creep in. . .phrase by phrase, a bit rusty from disuse.

we poor sinners confess
we are sinful and unclean
we have sinned in thought, word and deed
we flee to your infinite mercy for grace
for the sake of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ

who was given to die for we poor sinners
and for his sake, God grant remission of our sins
and give the Holy Spirit enabling us to be obedient
to become the children of God
and to receive everlasting life.

Yes, there's a good foundational message for the condemned-to-die on which to build a message of hope and 21st century relevance for Sunday's sermon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

205 Ashland University new hiring policy

The group known as the Fraternity of German Baptists, and later the German Baptist Brethren had a three way split in the 1880s. They were known as Dunkers, Tunkers, Täufers, and Dunkards and some, including my ancestors, spoke German for many generations. Although I don't think the terms conservative (Old German Baptist Brethren), progressive (Brethren Church) and moderate (Church of the Brethren) apply today, they did have different approaches to cooperating with the dominant culture of the United States. All the Brethren believed the New Testament contained God's will for his people, but differences split the small anabaptist group into many smaller groups. This page gives a more complete explanation with charts of the divisions.

Recently, the second largest Brethren group, The Brethren Church, made the news by deciding to limit its faculty at its only university to Christians and Jews.

"Only Jews and Christians will be hired as full-time faculty members at Ashland University under a policy recently approved by university trustees.

The policy, which could be reviewed by trustees in January, is meant to reinforce Ashland's historical ties to the Brethren Church, according to Steve Hannan, a university spokesman. Church followers founded the private university in 1878." Story in Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 9

When the church split, the other colleges remained with the larger group, The Church of the Brethren, which now include Manchester College (1902), Juniata (1876), Elizabethtown (1900), LaVerne (1891), and McPherson (1887). Mt. Morris (1879) and Blue Ridge College (1930) have closed.

Monday, November 15, 2004

204 The Family and Families of God

The three children in the pew in front of me were sitting with their grandparents. The oldest looked so much like her mother it almost made me smile. She even had the same pouty scowl. Maybe just on the cusp of the teen years--11 or 12. She ran her hands through her dark hair, highlighted with blonde from the swimming pool, to form an imaginary pony tail, and then shook it free. Her little sister, perhaps 7 or 8, then made the same movement with her much darker and richer locks. I remember when their mother outgrew her Barbie dolls and had a yard sale. Must have been around 1975. My daughter and I went over to look at them. At age 8, my daughter was about to outgrow that stage, but she still liked accumulating the clothes even if she rarely played with the dolls.

Three pews in front of that family was another family, a little smaller now that the oldest is in college in Indiana. The mother is small, maybe under 5’4” and the father tall and slender, over 6’5”. Her head was well below his shoulder. All three of their children are tall--fortunate isn’t it, that the boys didn’t resemble Mom and the girl Dad? The boys are at that awkward, growing-an-inch-a-week stage. Perhaps 14 and 15, all arms and legs and pimples. The entire family was dressed in some combination of khaki and gray-blue, like they woke up and said, “What should we wear today?” Dad had his hands in his pockets, feet a little apart while singing, and the two boys were in the exact same stance. Only the touch of auburn hair on the one boy showed Mom had a part in all this. Otherwise, they were their father.

Behind me there was a family with small children, all with colds. Lots of juicy sniffing, sneezing and coughing. Dad whispered, “Josh, stop it,” and little Joshua whines, “But I can’t help it, Daddy.” Then Dad sniffed, but much louder. Joshua’s Daddy was so enthusiastic, he sang along quietly with the male soloist in the mixed sextet leading the congregational singing, a master carpenter with ruddy complexion and black hair. Daddy even hummed along when the female soloist took her turn. The name Joshua means “God is salvation” in the Old Testament and is the name we know as Jesus in the New Testament.

And I smiled thinking about the family of God worshiping together, similar yet different, worshiping Jesus, the master carpenter, trying to sing along, to get along, trying to be what our Heavenly Father wants.

203 Lutheran Churches Columbus Ohio

If you are browsing the internet looking for a Lutheran church in the Columbus metropolitan area, or one serving Upper Arlington, Hilliard, Dublin or North Columbus, you probably won't find the largest, which is Upper Arlington Lutheran Church. So I'm blogging about it today to help you find it, because there are no meta-tags in the turn-key system to direct you to it.

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church is one congregation with three locations, The Church on Lytham Road, 2300 Lytham Road, Upper Arlington, 43220; The Church at Mill Run, 3500 Mill Run Drive, Hilliard, 43026; and Hilltop Lutheran Church, 12 South Terrace Avenue, Columbus, 43204. This wouldn't be nearly as confusing if we'd originally chosen a spiritual name like Trinity or Lamb of God instead of a city's name, but that's how the New Testament churches did it.

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church in suburban and west side of Columbus, Ohio, offers a variety of worship styles, five times on Sunday at Mill Run, four times on Sunday at Lytham, and one at Hilltop. There is a wide variety of teachings and Bible study throughout the week, with Sunday morning and Monday evening being the heaviest schedules, with Sunday school and "Outfitters," for deeper study of theology, the Christian life, parenting, etc.

This large Lutheran church in the Columbus, Ohio metropolitan area has a Vacation Bible School that will knock your socks off--something like 2500-3000 kids are enrolled and teachers are drawn from all over the city for what must be a logistical nightmare for the planners, with morning, afternoon and evening sessions. Every adult who works in this program, even those who sell the t-shirts, are checked and screened and have references.

There is a very large nursing home ministry that offers Bible study and communion at local facilities, and offers regular training and support for members of those ministries. I couldn't even begin to count the liaisons between the church and groups like Inter-Varsity, Campus Crusade, and International Friendships. If you can't find a ministry to serve in at UALC, you just haven't looked.

I'll put in a plug here for something that's relatively rare in churches, and that's an established Visual Arts Ministry. UALC has probably the finest gallery space in metropolitan Columbus, and is currently booking shows for 2006. It has an annual Members All Media Art Show (MAMAS) during Advent. But this ministry is miniscule compared to the music ministry which frequently features a full orchestra, and has separate choirs for the different locations. The Christmas choir offerings are usually over sold and are fabulous. We have a new music director this year, formerly at Karl Road Baptist, who looks very promising.

This Columbus area Lutheran church offers unique opportunities for urban ministry through its contacts at Hilltop Lutheran, including a food pantry, clothing store, elementary school mentoring and volunteering, and programming useful for a community not in the suburbs.

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, a large Columbus area church, has regular print-on-paper publications, The Cornerstone, which primarily focuses on scheduled events, and Crosslinks, a full color, glossy monthly magazine (access through the main web site), with general content articles of interest to visitors and members. Both are available in PDF files.

I'll cross post this at my other blog, Collecting My Thoughts, and then I'll check Google to see if "Lutheran Church Columbus Ohio" will finally bring up the largest Lutheran church in the city. It's worth a try! And the next time you're in the Columbus, Ohio, stop in and visit.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

202 The value of biography and testimony

In her book, Believing God, which our women are using this fall, Beth Moore writes: I devour books on the lives of the faithful-though-fallible. The testimonies of Saint Augustine, Jan Hus, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Oswald Chambers, Amy Carmichael, and Charles Spurgeon are just a few. This morning I again told God that I want to be faithful to Him more than anything in the world. Reading about the lives of those who fulfilled such a high calling is like a strong wind against my back as I run my race." (Believing God. LifeWay Press, 2002, p. 170)

In that chapter she developed her ideas from biographies of D.L. Moody, William Carey, George Muller, Jim Cymbala, and Bruce Wilkinson. Two of the women in our group had heard Jim Cymbala preach at Brooklyn Tabernacle, which has a Tuesday night prayer meeting attended by thousands and people wait in long lines to attend.

The message she found in the lives of all these saints is, "Pray Big."

Friday, November 12, 2004

Healing the Church Website

Here's an interesting site that tells it like it is. Most church websites are pretty awful. They're glitzy, gimmicky, crowded, cluttered and hard to read. I particularly liked The seven deadly sins of church website design.

Monday, November 08, 2004

200 Advice for the Democrats from a college student

Nick Wills in the Daily Nebraskan, a Democrat, has some advice for his party, not all of which I’d agree with, but this one made sense:
“What should the party do?

First of all, have some respect for religion. In pure liberal philosophy there is open-mindedness to differing beliefs. In today’s Democratic Party, there’s that open-mindedness – unless you’re an evangelical Christian. I’ve actually heard liberals say those who vote on moral issues as stupid and ignorant.

I’ve seen this attitude on TV with people such as Janine Garofalo making fun of Bush’s faith in God. This type of closed-minded speech basically tells religious people NOT to vote for John Kerry. They listened.”

I don’t for a minute think Roe v. Wade will ever be repealed--Bush doesn’t have the support for that among his own party. There are lots of ways to save babies, and a big one would be to discourage conception by promoting and supporting less sexual and violent entertainment and music that misleads so many young women. But Nick also makes this suggestion:

“Stop cozying up with the pro-choice agenda. Democrats almost have an image that they love the idea of abortion. What would be so wrong with Democratic candidates giving a plan to reduce abortions? Very few people would object, and the ground gained on moral issues would be significant.”

That’s a smart young man. The future of the country’s in good hands, even if Democratic.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

199 In the name of Jesus

“America has become an incubator of fear easily exploited by a demagogue like Karl Rove, whose get-out-the-vote canvassers looked like a Rapture block party.” Salt Lake Tribune. Another media representative of the 47% insulting the 53% of us who don’t live in metropolitan New York, LA, Salt Lake, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and Minneapolis.

Now this really adds to an intelligent discussion, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t recognize Karl Rove if he knocked on my door. I’ve never seen him on TV or heard anyone mention him except the people who hate President Bush. So I think his name is a code word that loosely translates into “hate, fear, desperation and despair” among Democrats. A voodoo doll in which they stick pins. If they just say “Karl Rove” and raise an eyebrow, they don’t even need to finish the sentence.

During the morning drive time yesterday I was listening to the Bob Connors call in show on 610 a m here in central Ohio. A man was talking who had been in charge of voting at two precincts that voted at Salem Baptist Church (caution: have your volume turned down--Hallelujah Chorus will greet you if you click here) in Columbus . He said they were open until 11:20 p.m. It was raining and many people were elderly and disabled, for whom they made special accommodation. Twice during the day church members showed up and distributed food and drink, first pizza, and then McDonald’s. Even the poll watchers from both parties distributed water and snacks to people who had patiently waited three or four hours to vote. The church also opened their fellowship hall and set up chairs so people wouldn't have to wait in the rain. He praised his poll workers who worked diligently and patiently with many people who had never voted--and the average of our poll workers is 72.

So, hate-mongering-media-editors (which includes our own suburban SNP): Based on the statistics we’ve seen about voting patterns in Ohio, I’m guessing 49% of this line waiting in the rain was voting for your side, but probably 60% of the church members were voting for Bush. I sincerely doubt that devotion to Karl Rove is what motivated them to leave their comfortable homes, go to restaurants, purchase food with their own money, and pass it along the line to people they didn’t agree with.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

198 Reformation Sunday

We missed Reformation Sunday service--we were driving back from Indianapolis. We did pass our newest building coming in on the free-way, and if we could have found parking, probably could have slipped in about 11:15. However, here's a Reformation Sunday Sermon to curl your toes:

"We’ve often said “The Church is not built of mortar and stone.” True enough, but neither is it built upon paper, logos, and slogans from headquarters. The Church is built upon the death of Jesus Christ. It is sustained in His resurrection. It is not found in corporate offices, radio programs, or tax shelters. It is found around the Altar of God’s Body and Blood. There hearts are broken and rebound. Old men are drowned. New men arise. Sins are forgiven. The devil is defeated. Faith is born and lives."

Read David Petersen's sermon at Beggars All.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

197 Poll-time Drama

Someone named Tabitha left a comment at the blog, Morning Coffee describing her trip to the polls with her six year old.

"My poll-time drama didn't occur until after we left. . . "Mama, some kids in my class said that John Kerry kills babies." I hadn't expect to have to talk with my 6 year old about abortion yet.

I explained to her that this was only sort of true. That he does not personally kill babies, but rather that he supports a law which allows mothers to choose to kill their babies before birth and that was wrong. Her response, "Yeah, because we were all babies once." Oh, the crystal clear insight of innocence. Someday whe will learn about peer pressure, shame, financial fears, etc. Someday I will have to tell her just how a baby can be killed. I wasn't even looking forward to explaining how a baby can be made. But for now, she knows that babies are a precious gift from God."

I find it amazing that 6 year olds are talking about abortion with their friends at school, or that they even knew who the candidates were. But I think this mother gave an age-appropriate response. The child herself was able to figure out the right and wrong of it, without a long lecture or explanation.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

196 If Your Candidate Doesn't Win

Phil at The Thinklings writes before election day:

"First, don’t worry. No matter what happens Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The guy you voted for may not be in the oval office for the next four years. But in the vast scheme of things, it’s only a blip in time. Remember that God is in control of all of history.

Second, if your man wins, don’t gloat or rub it in the face of others. Remember those who vote differently than you are still your neighbors.

Third, remember that the new president, whoever he is, should be respected and honored."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

195 Faith with Works and Abortion

“If, for example, I was a powerful Senator married to a billionaire who was "not in favor of abortion", but I thought it wrong to work directly against abortion in the legal arena, I might do some or all of the following things:

Work to fund pregnancy crisis centers that provide non-abortion counseling

Work to ease adoption restrictions and promote awareness of the adoption option

Work to encourage strong marriages

Work to encourage abstinence in young people not ready for childbearing

Generously contribute to pregnancy centers

Generously contribute to non-profit adoption agencies

Generously contribute to social welfare organizations working with young mothers”

Let’s Try Freedom

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

194 Kill the twerps before they can populate the planet with poor people

I noticed a warm, heartfelt letter on morality in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, from Maurice Bluestein, Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology, at IU-PU, in Indianapolis.

“A willingness to pay for abortions does not mean promoting abortion; providing money so that a poor person can have an abortion, which is legal, so as to prevent yet another youth from growing up in poverty, is moral. Engaging in stem cell research [i.e. cloning] is moral.”

This is the basis for much of “pro-choice” morality. Greed disguised as compassion.

193 Day of Jewish Learning

October 31 is Lishmah, a day of learning. "Lishmah means "for its own sake," a traditional concept that celebrates learning for the sheer love of learning. As the Talmud teaches: "Torah [which is studied] for its own sake (lishmah) is a Torah of lovingkindness. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace." Check out this site to learn about registration and topics. Seen at Esther's blog.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

192 Cha-Ching. The Social Costs of Gambling--who's holding up the research?

Maura Casey writes: "Drawing upon my background – three years working full time in the field of addictions and a graduate degree in journalism and public affairs – I was fully confident that with enough reporting I would be able to come up with a figure on how much gambling addiction costs.

I was absolutely wrong. After six months of crisscrossing the country, interviewing 150 people and reading every study I could get my hands on, I realized I could not, and never would, be able to come up with an inarguable figure on how much gambling costs society."

Read the whole essay and how government agencies can price out other addictions but no one has totaled the social costs of gambling at Gambling Watch Global.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

191 Clear the Clutter for Christ

For 34 years we lived in a lovely, two-story home on a beautiful street. This house had no basement and no attic, and very few closets; the two car garage was so tidy (thanks to my husband) we had room for two cars. We added closets to the house and did not allow clutter, not even in the garage. I made regular contributions to various clothing and household goods drives by the Kidney Foundation and Lutheran Social Services. Now we live in a condo that has basement storage, walls with built-in book shelves, a larger garage and an attic over the garage. Yes, now we are developing a clutter problem.

That happens to churches too. Stuff. It's the golden calf of the modern church. Here's an item from Builder's Newsletter on how to improve your physical worship space for under $1,000:

"You can improve your worship space without spending a lot of money. Consider these ways to get a lot of impact with a little investment:

• Update Lighting Fixtures

• Focus Light on the Primary Symbols

Clean Out the Clutter

• Remove Extraneous Furnishing

• Remove Seldom Used Seating

• Take Up the Carpet

• Vest for the Liturgical and Natural Season "
Builder's Newsletter

Earlier in the year our congregation focused on the best seller, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It was a sermon series, our SALT groups used it, our women's groups used it, the adult Sunday School used it and individuals used it. During the course of the study (several months), huge banners with the themes from Warren's book began to appear, hanging from the ceiling in the narthex/fellowship hall. They didn't mix well with the flags of nations and mission posters from an earlier theme and the seasonal decorations that various ministries put up. But they all are still there, fighting for the eye and mind of the members and visitors on their way to worship on Sunday, small groups meetings during the week, or weddings and funerals. They have become very bad, monotonous wallpaper. No one even notices or reads them now--except first timers, and I doubt that they find them spiritual. But this sort of mindless clutter is an ugly and common fact of almost every Protestant church in which I've ever worshipped.

The gallery space we use for art shows is littered with posters and signage for Sunday School. When the choir gives a concert, posters are plastered everywhere--even inside bathroom stalls and over mirrors in the ladies room. Although we have numerous bulletin boards, the ministry that oversees that decorates them, so there is no place for other ministries to post their information that week or month. There is a constant "real estate" battle, and if you hang your announcement in the wrong place, someone will take it down. Last week I stopped at a bulletin board that had four identical posters announcing an event--all for an event the previous week. Thus, the posters and memos start appearing on the walls, where the tape pulls off the paint or leaves a residue. The glass doors are considered just additional billboard space.

Today a member came up to me after church and told me how much she enjoys looking at the oil painting of the sheep beneath a large tree in a meadow, painted by local artist, Debbi VerHulst. It is hanging on a brick wall as you enter the sanctuary. It is peaceful and scriptural. And no one has hung a poster on the wall to compete with it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

190 The Florida Supremes, at it again

TAMPA, Fla.(AP) The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday declined a request from Gov. Jeb Bush to reconsider its decision striking down a state law designed to save the life of a severely brain-damaged woman at the center of a bitter right-to-die dispute. (AP Oct. 21, 2004)

Wouldn't that be A BITTER RIGHT-TO-LIVE DISPUTE? Mrs. Schiavo is not dying. Florida court summary page

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

189 A message for libertine Republicans

A traditional Republican [John Mark Reynolds] has a message for the Andrew Sullivans of the Republican party, the libertines:

“What about the future? Television, made by aging vets of the sexual revolution, has deceived you about what the young want. Your fantasy that the young are with you is part of your cultural blind spot. How many kids, on average, do your friends have? One or two? Millions of kids are home schooled. How many do you know? Many Mexican kids are being educated today in California schools. How many support partial birth abortion and unnatural marriages? Give me Saint Joseph's Sunday School and you can have the Women's Studies Program at State U. . . . Check out the average number of kids per household in your demographic groups. The future is ours.

Here is the good news. We may not be libertines, but we have a strong libertarian streak. We want to make government smaller, more compassionate, and we believe in a culture of life. We will let you do what you want in the privacy of your home as long as you don't defraud our kids or ask for our blessing. If you can get over forcing your sexual views on the rest of us, allow us to protect babies, and move on to other things, we will have much common cause.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

188 Family feuds, Christian style

There's some interesting stuff to read over at Midwest Conservative Journal (US Anglican) and Relapsed Catholic (Canadian). I link to Revealer on my blogroll, but generally it is anti-conservative Christian. Occasionally the links are pretty good, though. In the articles it features, Bush really takes a beating for his faith. Probably because they can't figure Kerry's out. LaShawn Barber, also on my blogroll, tracks all kinds of Christian and faith stories, and will smack the Black church upside the head when needed.

187 The vigil with a dying parent

“I've been here at home with the big guys while Jan and the little guys have been down in Orting with her Dad all week so that she can spend as much time as possible just loving on her Mom before the end. She told me it's like when her Mom used to hold babies who were teething. They couldn't understand what was happening and you couldn't explain it to them, but you could still hold them and love them. Her Mom did it for her. Now she's doing it for her Mom.” Mark Shea, Catholic and Enjoying it

Monday, October 18, 2004

186 Does it pay to be honest?

Of course it does, but sometimes the results aren't what you would expect. When the clerk at the supermarket handed me change for a twenty instead of a ten, I said, "I think I gave you a ten."

I expected her to check her bill tray--clerks are taught to put bills in certain slots, so there should have been a ten in the twenty slot if I were correct.

No. That's not how it is done at that store. First she gave me a dirty look. Told me she can't open the drawer. With a long line waiting behind me, she calls a supervisor on the loud speaker and reports it. Then she pulled out the locked drawer, took it to the office, and got a new drawer. She told me to go to the office where it would be counted.

I waited at the office while the employee chatted with an elderly gentleman, and then waited for her to count and balance the drawer. It checked out perfect. I was wrong, the clerk was right.

Later I realized I hadn't "broken" the twenty I'd put in my purse the day before because I hadn't shopped anywhere else. But I was still right to ask.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

185 The Family Reunion

The maples and ash and sycamores along Mountview Avenue in our old neighborhood were glorious this morning--every imaginable color on the trees, except maybe blue, and even it is a component of green. It had been raining; the clouds cleared and the sun broke through causing each leaf to wear diamonds. I was listening to a Christian radio a.m. station I’d never heard before, and the song was about a family reunion in heaven.

It occurred to me that when we get to heaven we’ll be seeing the richness and diversity of God’s family, the bride of Christ, the blessed, the chosen, the saved by his blood, holy children of God. Beautiful and different like those trees.

Every Sunday at the coffee shop Frank, the Catholic, suggests I need to get to the one true church. Catholics will be surprised in heaven to see us Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians. Confessional Lutherans will be speechless to see other Lutherans who’ve never opened the Book of Concord, and Anabaptists will be amazed to see others who have gathers on their prayer bonnets instead of pleats. King James Only fundamentalists who believe you couldn’t possibly find God’s Word in the RSV or Message will wonder why on earth they made such a fuss.

Yes, we’ll be in for a few surprises at the reunion, won’t we?

Friday, October 15, 2004

184 Gnat in my cabernet

There are Christians who spend time writing and debating whether Noah went out and found all the insects and parasites, or if they just hitchhiked into the ark on the animals, food supplies and wood materials.

I think Noah had bigger fish to fry than worrying about snails, spiders, slugs and gnats.** Insects are among God's most resourceful creatures. They know enough to come in out of the rain, which is more than some people I know.

Tonight at dinner there was a gnat floating in my cabernet. I lifted him/her out with my little finger and wiped him on my napkin. He was drunk, but stable, and flew away.

**Yes, I know these are not all insects--I just like the alliteration.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

183 Kerry's faith walk

I was doing the mail run for church this morning listening to Glenn Beck do an impersonation of Kerry talking about the Bible and his faith. It was so hysterical I thought I'd have to pull over. Beck may be a Mormon, but he sure knows hypocrisy and puffery when he hears it.

Monday, October 11, 2004

182 The hand in your wallet

A few years back the national United Way had some bad publicity. I don’t know if that’s why the local campaign name was changed, but it is now “Community Charitable Drive.” However, good deed dollars need to be carefully distributed, especially if you live on a pension. I don’t want to contribute to ACLU, NARAL, Stonewall Columbus, or some of the green, “earth-friendly” education groups of which there are many overlapping on the list.

Americans are very generous. The letter I received from the Campaign says that the IRS recognizes some 819,000 charities. However, you need to know the political and social goals of the hand that’s reaching for your wallet. Look at your church budget--it has many reliable Christian social action groups and missionaries. Let the non-Christians support United Way--they won‘t be helping your church meet its budget!

181 Writing for the Church

WRITING FOR THE CHURCH WORKSHOP is an intensive one-week experience designed to help participants develop creative writing and editing skills according to a website advertising it for the summer of 2005. Writers and editors from Concordia Publishing House and Lutheran Hour will be the faculty. Topics featured at the website include the writing of religion lesson materials for all levels and agencies of Christian education; feature articles; devotional literature; family and children’s literature; writing to reach the post-modern mind and heart; types of writing. Included in the plan are self and instructor critiques and peer "helping circles" to improve writing. Before the workshop, reading a recommended text on writing with accompanying writing exercises is required.

The workshop is in St. Paul, July 17-23, 2005. Details on cost and number of students accepted are at the site.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

180 The new Lutheran pastor

A woman on a bike and the South Beach diet stopped at my yard sale. We chatted about 15 minutes (she's here at Lakeside for the week-end with a group of women friends). She bought a hard cover gardening book (I have a brown thumb) and two hand carved Asian figurines. She only wanted one of them, but I encouraged her not to separate the couple, who had never been separated, at least in the 30 years since we bought them.

She said she's lost 35 pounds. Also opined that she needed to simplify her life and start getting rid of "things." That's what I had in mind, too (which is why I was glad to see her stop).

Then a woman with a baby in a stroller stopped and bought the little 4 drawer dresser for $10.00. It turns out her husband is the new pastor of St. John Lutheran over in Marblehead, one of my husband's clients. She said he is a very good preacher. So when he stopped by with the $10, the dog, and the other baby, we talked a bit. I told him I liked a good gospel sermon. He agreed. As he walked away I said, "And the liturgy. Do you have liturgy?" "Oh yes," he replied. "It reminds me that it isn't about me."

So we decided to attend St. John's tomorrow and drive home a little later than planned.

179 At the church website

At you see under Resources:

The popularity of the Internet presents new challenges as well as new opportunities for Christians. We suggest you take a moment to read and reflect on Norma Bruce's article, Christians and The Internet.

Friday, October 08, 2004

178 New on the blogroll

To counteract some of the bloggrumps on my blogroll, I'm adding Lutheran in a Tipi. Stop by her page and take a look. She likes poetry and lovely photographs.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

177 Lutherans for Life

At the church library last week I picked up a copy of LifeDate; a quarterly journal of life issue news and commentary from National Lutherans for Life. The mission statement: Lutherans For Life believes that the Church is compelled by God’s Word to speak and act on behalf of those who are vulnerable and defenseless. The crisis of our times is the repudiation of Biblical truth manifested in the wanton destruction of innocent human life through legalized abortion-on-demand and the growing threat to the lives of others through legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia. Therefore, as Lutherans For Life, we will strive to give witness, from a Biblical perspective, to the Church and society on these and other related issues such as chastity, post abortion healing, and family living.

It is beautiful in content and format--20 pages, good clear graphics, text boxes for small items, and news and articles about abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, and other bio-medical ethical issues important to Christians. There is a wonderful section on inexpensive publications you can purchase for your church, group or personal reading, such as:

  • Implmenting a Pro-Life Theology in a Lutheran Congregation
  • Marriage, a statement by Lutherans for Life
  • Defending the Right to Choose/Know the Facts
  • Cloning; understanding the basics

This issue (Fall 2004) has an excellent article on end of life treatment with the conclusion:

The certain and guaranteed hope you have in Jesus' victory over death gives you hope in living life! You can face death with hope because you know it is the door to life. You can face living and dying with hope because you know the true souce of human worth and dignity. You can face and make difficult decisions in hope because you know God is present and at work. Nothing can separate you from His love. Nothing can diminish your hope in Him.

You can read LifeDate on line in a pdf format, however, you can subscribe to the paper copy free, read it, and then put it in your church library, or pass it along. God's economy for paper.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

176 Another kind of wealth

“Once a citizen of the nursing home nation, you no longer operate on a money economy. At Fair Acres [nursing home] the rich are those who can get to the dining room under their own steam, use the toilet by themselves, and can still speak and be understood. My mother arrived there with little of that capital.

Nevertheless, her fellow residents envied her wealth of daily family visits. My father never flagged in his faithfulness. During the five years my mother lived at Fair Acres, he missed spending mornings with her only about a dozen times, most during illnesses of his own. I relieved him in the afternoon. My mother's cousin also visited her twice a week, and a busy sister-in-law often came on Thursdays.”

The Visit, by Virginia Stern Owens, Christianity Today, September 2004

Sunday, October 03, 2004

175 First Sunday Worship

[Interrupting my hunt for what the various denominations point to as the Gospel, I want to say a few words about how wonderful and inspiring our morning worship was today.]

Pastor Jeff preached a good sermon about the problems Christians have with materialism, specifically consumer debt, and he under girded it with the Gospel. He is a dynamic and lively speaker, and no one would ever fall asleep with Jeff in the pulpit. Jesus talked more about wealth than any other topic, he said. “Debt enslaves, Jesus frees us for service,” is a paraphrase. The root cause of “debt disease” is putting material things in place of God, and the cure is to let Jesus forgive and heal. The steps he suggested were, 1) confess the sin of materialism to God, 2) admit it to another person so you have accountability, and 3) get help from a financial counselor.

My standard for a good worship service is, 1) clear exposition of the Gospel, 2) use of the liturgy, and 3) some hint that the congregation knows what is going on out there in the world around us, especially beyond the city limits of our suburb. There have been Sundays when I’ve heard none of the three, or two out of the three, but today and last Sunday, we had three out of three.

If there are a few gaps in the Gospel, the liturgy fills that in with the words of Confession and Forgiveness, and this was Communion Sunday so we had the Canticle “This is the Feast,” always a lovely addition, the Words of Institution and Lord’s Prayer, and the Canticles, “Lamb of God” and “Thank the Lord.” It was the first time I’d heard Jeff sing, and he has a lovely voice.

Pastors, Preachers, Lay Leaders: No matter how good the sermon, if it doesn’t include a clear exposition of how Jesus paid the price for our sins and we are forgiven because of what he did, not because of our feeble efforts to do good works, how he suffered, died, and rose again. . . well, you’ve just brought everyone together for coffee hour and singing.

The theme of our church magazine this month is also about debt. You can read that at

Saturday, October 02, 2004

174 The Presbyterians and the Westminster Confession

Chapter 8, Christ the Mediator

I. It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only-begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and men, the prophet, priest, and king; the head and Savior of the Church, the heir or all things, and judge of the world; unto whom he did, from all eternity, give a people to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified. . .

IV. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which, that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified and died; was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered; with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father, making intercession; and shall return to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.

V. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.

VI. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated into the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman, which should bruise the serpant's head, and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, being yesterday and today the same and for ever.

VII. Christ, in the work of mediation, acteth according to both natures; by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes, in Scripture, attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.

VIII. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.

173 The Gospel according to the Methodists

"The Methodist Articles of Religion" Discipline of 1808

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.

Christ did truly rise again from the dead, and took again his body, with all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last day.

The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.

Friday, October 01, 2004

172 The Gospel according to the Mennonites

There is nothing in Christian literature more uplifting and inspiring than the pure and simple Gospel. Different Christian traditions may quibble on details, but agree on the basics. The following is from the Mennonite Tradition.

We believe and confess further, that when the time of the promise, for which all the pious forefathers had so much longed and waited, had come and was fulfilled, this previously promised Messiah, Redeemer, and Savior, proceeded from God, was sent, and, according to the prediction of the prophets, and the testimony of the evangelists, came into the world, yea, into the flesh, was made manifest, and the Word, Himself became flesh and man; that He was conceived in the virgin Mary, who was espoused to a man named Joseph, of the house of David; and that she brought Him forth as her first-born son, at Bethlehem, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. John 4:25; 16:28; 1 Timothy 3:16; John 1:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 2:7.

We confess and believe also, that this is the same whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, without beginning of days, or end of life; of whom it is testified that He Himself is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last; that He is the same, and no other, who was foreordained, promised, sent, and came into the world; who is God's only, first and own Son; who was before John the Baptist, before Abraham, before the world; yea, who was David's Lord, and the God of the whole world, the first-born of every creature; who was brought into the world, and for whom a body was prepared, which He yielded up as a sacrifice and offering, for a sweet savor unto God, yea, for the consolation, redemption, and salvation of all mankind. John 3:16; Hebrews 1:6; Romans 8:32; John 1:30; Matthew 22:43; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 10:5.

But as to how and in what manner this precious body was prepared, and how the Word became flesh, and He Himself man, in regard to this we content ourselves with the statement pertaining to this matter which the worthy evangelists have left us in their accounts, according to which we confess with all the saints, that He is the Son of the living God, in whom alone consist all our hope, consolation, redemption, and salvation, which we neither may nor must seek in any other. Luke 1:31, 32; John 20:31; Matthew 16:16.

We furthermore believe and confess with the Scriptures, that, when He had finished His course, and accomplished the work for which He was sent and came into the world, He was, according to the providence of God, delivered into the hands of the unrighteous; suffered under the judge, Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, was buried, and on the third day, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven; and that He sits on the right hand of God the Majesty on high, whence He will come again to judge the quick and the dead. Luke 22:53; 23:1; 24:6, 7, 51.

And that thus the Son of God died, and tasted death and shed His precious blood for all men; and that He thereby bruised the serpent's head, destroyed the works of the devil, annulled the handwriting and obtained forgiveness of sins for all mankind; thus becoming the cause of eternal salvation for all those who, from Adam unto the end of the world, each in his time, believe in, and obey Him. Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8; Colossians 2:14; Romans 5:18.
Dordrecht Confession. Canadian Mennonite Encyclopedia

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

171 Food Pantry Shopping

Under $28--and you should see the bounty. The pastor announced Sunday the Food Pantry of Lutheran Social Services needed everything. Usually, they announce what they need, peanut butter or diapers or mac and cheese. This week, anything and everything was welcome. But I by-passed my usual stores in Columbus and went to Bassett's near Port Clinton, OH where I shop on vacation.

Bassett's is pretty high end, lots of gourmet and specialty items and a fabulous bakery, deli, and coffee bar, but in preparation for the expansion of the Wal-Mart to a super store, they are starting to stock lower priced, lesser known brands, a number at $1.00. During the summer I tried a number of items and found most to be quite satisfactory. I make a lot of pudding, sugar-free pies, and use graham cracker prepared crusts. Purity brand has that at $1.00, rather than the $1.59 or $1.79 of name brands. I also bought "Our Family" brand, not for a dollar a piece, but certainly much reduced and good quality compared to well known brands with a hefty advertising budget. I looked at and compared prices on soups, selecting Campbell's because they were on special and a better deal than house brands.

So I purchased boxes of crackers for $1.00, cheese and mac 3/$1.00, "cherrios" clone and raisin bran clone boxes of cereal, instant oatmeal packets, peanuts, potato mixes, casserole mixes for stroganoff, lasanga and chili, flavored coffee packets, and soups. I don't use a lot of prepared foods myself, but I know they are essential for the users of the food pantry, many of whom are very young and don't have equipped kitchens for "home-made," or who don't know the basics of food preparation.

Purity has a web site where you can shop on-line. If One Dollar grocery stores aren't near you, you can buy terrific bargains here, like 12 8-packs of oatmeal cereal for $12.00, or 12 6.5 oz packets of beef pasta dinners for $12.00, or 24 4 oz. jars of instant coffee for $24.00. Again, I remind you I don't purchase prepackaged, single items like oatmeal, but I have a nice kitchen. I find the sizes reasonable, which often is not the case in the stores where I shop, which seem to reason that bigger is cheaper which isn't really so.

NashFinch produces a lot of low cost and special label foods, although I haven't found a way to order on-line. Look for them at your store. On-line they have a very good recipe page.

Monday, September 27, 2004

170 The adopted Grandfather

CNN carried a real tear jerker today--even warned the viewers ahead of time. An 80 year old widower in Italy put himself up for adoption as a grandfather!

"Giorgio Angelozzi, 80, has lived alone outside Rome with seven cats since his wife died in 1992, but he took the unprecedented step of putting himself up for adoption last month via the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Not satisfied with just running the advertisement, Italy's main daily ran a front-page story about Angelozzi's plight.

Inundated with offers from families across Italy and as far away as New Zealand, Brazil and the United States, the retired schoolteacher has decided to go to live with Elio and Marlena Riva and their two teenage children in Bergamo, northern Italy." CNN story here.

The reporter said Mr. Angelozzi had one child who lived in another country. Marlena is Polish and her husband Italian. She was already calling Giorgio, Papa and the children were calling him Grandpa, as the video panned his home as he packed to go live with them. He is giving the cats away. It really was a beautiful story--and did indeed cause a few tears.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

169 The Plot to Kill Evolution

That's the cover story on the October 2004 issue of Wired, one of my favorite journals. You can read Wired on-line, but the paper copy is much more satisfying. But in either medium, this "story" will be a hoot (I haven't opened it yet). You can't kill what doesn't exist.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

168 The Practical Gospel

This congregation offers free oil changes for single Moms, The South Sound Vineyard Church. There are many practical ways to invite people into your congregation. Just be sure they hear the Gospel in the exchange.

To tell people about the wonderful conference you attended, is not the Gospel.
To crank the music even louder and swing and wave your arms, is not the Gospel.
To announce how Jesus has changed your life, is not the Gospel.
To invite people to join a small group, is not the Gospel.
To ask people to repent, is not the Gospel.
To pray for healing, is not the Gospel.
To tell the latest miracle in your life, is not the Gospel.

The Gospel does not tell us to do something, it proclaims what God has done. The Gospel doesn't tell us how to get to God, but tells how God gets to us.

Friday, September 24, 2004

167 Fill a Bucket for the Methodists

United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) urges United Methodists and anyone else willing to help replenish supplies of flood buckets that have been sent to Florida. The buckets include such items as sponges, brushes, trash bags and various types of cleaning materials. Specifications can be found online at Completed flood buckets--and $1.50 per bucket to cover reshipping-- should be sent to UMCOR Sager Brown, 101 Sager Brown Rd., Baldwin, LA 70514.

UMCOR is also requesting donations for its Material Resource Ministry, Advance #901440 for cleaning supplies that the staff and volunteers at the Sager Brown Depot will use to assemble flood buckets. Contents include:

Flood Bucket
(Updated: 9/3/2004)
These supplies enable people to begin the overwhelming job of cleaning up after a flood or hurricane.
5-gallon bucket with resealable lid
Bleach (two 1-quart or one 82 oz. bottle. Do not include bleach of you are shipping the bucket through the US Postal Service, UPS or FedEx)
5 scouring pads
7 Sponges
1 scrub brush
18 cleaning towels (reusable wipes)
Liquid laundry detergent (two 25 oz. or one 50 oz. bottle)
1 household cleaner, 12-16 oz. bottle
Disinfectant dish soap, 16-28 oz. bottle
50 clothes pins
Clothes line (two 50 ft. or one 100 ft.)
5 dust masks
2 pair latex gloves
1 pair work gloves
24-bag roll of heavy-duty trash bags, 33-45 gallon (remove roll from box before placing in bucket)
1 Insect repellant spray, 6-14 oz. can (If aerosol, cans must have protective caps. See special requirements below.*)
1 Air freshener, 8 or 9 oz. can (If aerosol, cans must have protective caps. See special requirements below.*)
*Special requirements: Put all items in the plastic bucket and seal lid. Please ensure that all cleansing agents are liquids (not powder) and in plastic bottles. All aerosols or flammables: If aerosols are included, do not send the bucket by US mail or DHL/Airborne freight. Ship by UPS ground, FedEx ground, or truck. Pack inside the bucket or strong outer boxes. Put the ORM-D mark on the outside of any buckets or boxes containing these items. Get it at Copy and tape on each bucket or box. Boxes cannot exceed 66 lbs. each.
Value: $45 per bucket.In a separate envelope, please send a check for at least $1.50 for each flood bucket to help UMCOR Sager Brown with the costs of processing and shipping.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

166 The Exit Ramp of Puberty

Joe Carter, who is 36, has great suggestions for the teen-ager who whines that his parents don’t understand that things are different than they were in the 70s or 80s--that today’s 15 year olds know much more than the 18 year olds of an earlier era. So Joe plays it forward to the exit ramp of puberty. Read this humorous post at The Evangelical Outpost.

"You’ll learn to appreciate country music -- Kids who grow up listening to rock or rap often believe that country musicians only sing about how the dog died, the truck broke down, and their woman ran off. That is, of course, a fairly accurate assessment of country music. But by the time you hit forty you’ll have had your share of dead dogs, dead batteries, and dead-end relationships. You’ll find that you can relate to this music better than you can songs about drinking champagne while driving in your Rolls and getting shot at by rival East Coast rappers."

Note from a woman old enough to be Joe's mother: at the coffee shop the other day I thought I was listening to the latest rock/pop tune until I looked up and saw a group of 40-something, mother-joggers dancing to it and realized that it was from their era, not the current one.

Friday, September 17, 2004

165 The Slaughter of Innocents

Honora Howell Chapman writes at Victor Davis Hanson’s website:

“When I was flying home from Dublin on the third anniversary of 9/11, at the airport there I saw a Time magazine cover with the shocking photo of a boy who had escaped the Beslan massacre, nose bloodied, crying out in anguish, with clenched fists and only underwear on; the title screamed “Slaughter of the Innocents.” After we landed in Atlanta, I discovered, however, that Time magazine for the U.S. has a different cover showing a placid Muslim boy with his right hand over his heart, accompanied by the innocuous title: “Special Report: The Struggle Within Islam.” So, is the message here that American readers should be less interested in what happened at Beslan than in the general state of Islam?”

She calls the cover switch “bizarre” and continues on with thoughts and statistics about children and war.

164 The Problems of Growth

“Brad” would get credit for this analysis of how church growth affects the pastor and the pew, but it is excerpted from a forum discussion of the “40 days of Purpose” by Rick Warren at the web magazine for the PCA, By Faith. Go to “Forums,” look at the topics, and read.

“Church growth has consequences that must be dealt with before a church goes down any road which entails a change in philosophy and focus. Having attended churches which have adopted the tenets of Saddleback Church and also experienced rapid growth these are some of the problems I witnessed. The pastor rapidly loses touch with the flock as the size of the church increases. This means increased small group leaders each with their own theological view, some with training that is minimal at best. Often these small groups are highlighted as the "real" soul of the church. The pastor must devote more and more time away from preaching sermons (or putting the effort and dedicated prayer into them) into working with the community political leaders and wooing large donors to finance the increase in building projects which come with this influx of people. While I'm sure others have seen different, the results I've seen have been 20-25 minute sermons which resemble the Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Successful people instead of sermons which direct focus towards God and encourage disciplined spiritual growth.”

Thursday, September 16, 2004

163 Foxholes and Hurricanes

"I'm going to say a little prayer and hope for the best," said Steve Turner, 43, of Port Sulfer in south Louisiana as Hurricane Ivan approached. His prayer was recorded in this morning's paper.

There are no atheists in foxholes is an expression I first heard in the 1970s. Apparently, there aren't too many in hurricanes either.

Friday, September 10, 2004

162 Politicians preaching to the choir--in church

Ambra has some hard things to say about pastors who invite politicians to take over in the pulpit.

"When it comes to earning the "black vote", everytime an election rolls around, all of a sudden, everyone remembers how "religious" and "deep" and "spiritual" they are, and church appearances abound. If I were a pastor, I'd charge their shady behinds to come speak to the congregation." Her blog here.

Even so, there are times when my former humanist/mainline values come to the fore and I wish occasionally my pastors would say something, anything, to indicate they read the newspaper or watch the news! Perhaps they could run through the list on the ELCA's homepage for advocacy (which sounds not unlike the ALA's) and take a conservative view? I'm sure this Sunday we'll pray for the children of Beslan, but a sermon on evil? Probably not. We don't even get abortion or gun control, in case you think that is a given in a conservative congregation. Divorce? Pornography? Gambling? Adultery? Never. Maybe the Sudan Darfurs will creep into a morning prayer, but probably not a sermon. But then, I've been gone most of the summer. . . maybe. . .

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

161 Matthew 25:42-45

It’s First Tuesday, the holiday is over, the summer at the lake is a memory and it is time to visit my ladies in the area nursing homes. One is 50 and had an aneurysm at 18; one is 75 and had a devastating stroke about 3 years ago; another is probably mid-80s and needs assisted care. This is not an easy task--even my parents slipped quietly into the arms of Jesus without a nursing home stay. I have to read Matthew 25:42-45 to gird my loins, as we say.

“. . .for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. Then they also will answer, “Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirst or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ ” RSV

“. . . for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me. Then they themselves also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ " NASB

So I keep that in mind as I visit--I’m ministering to Jesus. What a privilege!

Monday, September 06, 2004

160 Teaching Creationism to restore morality in schools

This post at Social Affairs Unit argues for restoring the seven day creation to schools in Britain (in addition to, not instead of, Darwinism) in order to give the schools a moral base.

“Schools in which creationism is cherished are the kinds of faith schools that succeed in instilling decent moral principles in their pupils. Creationist schools are able to generate the kind of moral authority that will combat crime, teenage pregnancy and drug addiction in amoral inner city areas and they can do this without creating political or communal animosities. Parents who want their children to be protected from the problems associated with inner city seek out schools that condemn sin. They want schools that are judgmental and moralistic. Those schools which believe in the literal truth of the Book of Genesis are likely to provide this.

Parents do not care about the waxing and waning of trilobites or moths that turn black in Lancashire or the species of bottom feeding sea-urchin that became extinct when its anus slowly migrated round its perimeter until it coincided with its mouth. Such esoteric knowledge does not appeal to the parents of Govan or Splott, Bon-y-Maen or Chapeltown. They know that the wages of Darwin is sin and they dislike sin.

Democracy as well as reason demands that we go back to the seven days of creation and the quelling of confusion to create order. The story of the flood and Noah's Ark has a moral dimension that Darwinism lacks, for it links changes in the natural world to the need to restore moral order at a time of social confusion.”