Monday, April 30, 2007

New Hymnals

Our Elders have decided it is time to get new hymnals to replace the growing number of worn hymnals in our pews. So they charged our church council with coming up with a source of funds to purchase the Lutheran Service Book, I must say that I am excited with the change as I have long wanted to move a way from Lutheran Worship and its clunky set up. Besides, for some strange reason I am oddly drawn to the Maroon cover.

Gig 'em

Saturday, April 28, 2007

My Terrible Secret

I have a terrible secret. I have found a way to get numerous amounts of meaningless hits. It won't take much time out of your day to do it either and it requires absolutely no ability to think. Do you want to know my terrible secret?

Post pictures of cool guns.

When we checked our stats yesterday we noticed that the number of visitors to our blog jumped. To give you an idea we normally average 20 hits a day. No big deal right? Well, yesterday we had 270+ hits and 95% of them were looking for guns on google. I can only hope a few stuck around to read some of the things we had written and will come again.

So all I can really say is, "Thank you, Come again."

Friday, April 27, 2007

My Specific Educational Philosophy

In my previous post, I described my basic philosophy towards parenting and education in general. When it comes to teaching specific knowledge, I am a fan of what I call structured unschooling (which borrows from Charlotte Mason and classical education) in the early years, and straight unschooling in the later years.

So, structured unschooling - doesn't that sound like an oxymoron?

While purests would reject it, I believe it fits in with what many unschooling families are doing. Essentially it is unschooling, but the parents DO have a specific set of basic skills and knowledge that they intend to teach their children.

First, the the parent determines what they consider to be essential knowledge and skills. At the moment, for me this is the ability to read well; a good understanding of, and proficiency in, arithmetic (possibly algebra and geometry, as well); and fluency in a foreign language, probably Latin or Greek to start with. As well, I intend to give them a good overview of history and geography, a thorough exposure to the arts, and lots of first-hand knowledge of the natural world. We also want our children to have a firm grounding in the basics of the faith.

Then, the parent makes a detailed list of the specific things to be covered, and ensures that they themselves are very knowledgeable in these areas.

From there the parent determines general goals and flexible schedules or routines - whatever level of organization they need. For me, it consists of a sequential list for each category, and developing a routine by scheduling subjects either daily or weekly, sometimes with a general time of day - first thing, after breakfast/lunch/dinner, before bed, etc.

(Note, this is still largely theoretical on my part, but is based on how I schedule other things for myself that I want to accomplish. For example, whenever it is time for "laundry", I just do whatever is listed next on my laundry master list. The idea is that if I miss a session, the whole thing doesn't fall apart, I just continue where I left off. At the moment, though, TBH, laundry and other cleaning schedules are a bit theoretical, too.)

Er, schedule? This isn't sounding even remotely unschoolish to me - more like school-at-home.

That's true, but there are two big differences:
  1. The children are unaware of the schedule. It is just for the parents, to give them a focus for developing a routine to gently introduce and reinforce concepts, as well as ensuring that everything is covered.
  2. Everything is taught via unschooling principles and methods, such as:
  • teaching through situations encountered in daily life,
  • the use of games,
  • stopping when the child wants to stop,
  • no workbooks/textbooks unless the child wants to use them,
  • not segregating the academic subjects from the rest of life, and
  • ensuring the child has plenty of time for unstructured play.

At any rate, that's my plan. Subject to change, of course, but I imagine most of the changes would just involve the manner of implementation or other specifics, not the core principles. The main requirement is really that the parent is very well versed in what they want to teach their kids, so as to be ready to seize a teachable moment when it happens. Since these are what the parent considers to be "essential" skills, it would be rather hypocritical of them to be ignorant.

In my case, I'd best get on with learning Latin and Greek thoroughly so I can figure out the best way to teach it to Boo and her future siblings. While I will undoubtably be utilizing textbooks to both learn the languages and discover the best ways of teaching them (and there is nothing inherently wrong with a good textbook), I am a strong proponent of delayed FORMAL academics. I don't feel elementary age children need to spend inordinate amounts of time with workbooks or other seatwork, unless they want to. I believe it is better for them to learn through play and daily life. Therefore, it is my job as their parent and teacher to figure out a routine that is conducive to learning and methods of presentation that adequately convey what I want my kids to learn in a way that works for them.

My intention with structured unschooling, along with purposeful habit training, is to get my children to the point where they have both the knowledge and the discipline, as well as the desire, needed to be able to productively take charge of their own learning. At that point, they are ready for true unschooling, and can tailor their own education to match their goals.

My Philosophy of Parenting and Education

I've gotten stuck on my next unschooling post, some of which is due to tangents, but most of which is because I've realized that I haven't thoroughly worked out how unschooling fits in my overall approach to education and life. I have an intuitive sense of where it works, but as I tried to put it into words, I realized I had a lot more work to do than I thought.

While I'm letting unschooling percolate in my brain, I thought I'd try to pull together the big components of my views on education. It's hard, as much of what I believe about education comes out of my beliefs on parenting, which in turn are an outgrowth of how I try to apply my Christian beliefs to my life. Nevertheless, I will endeavour to do so, briefly (which doesn't come naturally, as must be obvious by now).

I believe that parents are ultimately responsible for the entirety of their children's education. They may choose to delegate some aspects (hiring a tutor for some areas, or utilizing a public or private school, for example), but the parents are still accountable. As well, there is much more to a complete education than the traditional academic subjects. Knowledge of calculus and physics isn't very useful if you lack character. And all the character in the world is beyond useless if you don't know Christ.

As a parent, my ultimate goal is to help my children discover what purpose God has for them and ensure that they are well-equipped to carry it out. To reach that goal, there is a lot my husband and I will need to teach them. I strongly believe the best way to do so is by example.

Charlotte Mason believed that habits are very powerful, and that parents should purposefully work to form good habits in their children. The result would be a blessing in both the parents' and the children's lives. I strongly agree, and the easiest way to form good habits in your children is if you, the parent, have already formed those habits in your own life. I have a lot of work to do in this area, as I have fallen into several bad habits and lost many good habits.

As well, teaching and training by example requires that you spend a fair bit of time with your children, or they will never see your example =). As well, during this time you must be doing the things you want them to learn. I believe the best (and easiest) way to do this is to simply include your children in your daily activities, making sure to verbalize your reasoning and thought process as well as describing what you are doing. Again, this method requires that you, as the parent, are doing the things you want your children to learn. Honestly, though, if you don't think something is worth doing on your own, then why do you want your kids to do it?

While this places a lot of responsibility on the parent, it is also freeing. You can't *make* anyone but yourself change (and sin makes that one impossible without the grace of God), so it frees you to focus on what you *can* do - pray and work to be a good example. Try to be the person you want your kids to become.

That really sums up my basic approach to parenting and educating in general; honestly, I see them as interchangeable. For those who like labels (and I'm not denigrating labels - I rather like them myself, even if I rarely fit nicely inside one), I find that attachment parenting and grace-based discipline, as well as the continuum concept (to an extent) are parenting methods that match my beliefs; education-wise, I find that Charlotte Mason and unschooling are compatible (classical education is as well, but it doesn't have nearly as much of an impact).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

GATTACA is here

According to Foxnews couples are now screening their children for defective genes. In this case they are trying to prevent breast cancer. Preventing breast cancer is a noble idea, however, it leads to two things the death of the poor kids with the gene (likely to never develop breast cancer, just be at risk, news flash people, living causes cancer) and it is the beginning of the GATTACA world.

The Question of Open Communion

The issue of open vs. close(d) communion has been a prickly one in the LC-MS for sometime. The official position of the LC-MS is close(d) communion; however, some individual congregations and people have taken exception to this position. Why? They see close(d) communion as an impediment to sharing the Gospel. According to them, they see the exclusion of people as a way of saying "we are better than you" or "you're not good enough to join us" or "your not a Christian because you aren't Lutheran." In a sense this is a valid point because it is possible for people to perceive the teaching of close(d) communion this way. However, this is no excuse to ignore the warning we are given in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
This is a serious warning folks and like everything else in the Bible it is not one that we can ignore because we find it inconvenient or hard.

Now, I have heard people complain about the exclusivity of close(d) communion but never have they been a person who was previously unchurched. Everybody, who I have ever heard complain about close(d) communion is either a LC-MS'er who has family visiting that belongs to another denomination or is person who had more than nominal connections to a different denomination. These are the people that generally find it hard, because they consider themselves Christians and think that we are saying they are not. So, in a sense, the only people we are chasing off are the church shoppers.

It has been my experience that the previously unchurched appreciate the forthrightness of close(d) communion because they are worried about what to do and this answers their question. In our congregation we have devised this communion statement.
Holy Communion is a special gift of God to His people. It is celebrated here (blah, blah, blah, info on when we have communion)... Since the Lord instructs us to examine ourselves before we receive His Body and Blood, (1 Cor. 11:27-29) we ask that you reflect on the following questions:

Do you acknowledge that you have sinned and are in need of forgiveness? (Rms 3:22-23)

Has God brought you into His family by means of Baptism? (Rms 6:3-5)

Do you believe that God the Father sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to shed his blood for you and that, He has called you to Christ by the Holy Spirit? (Eph 2:4-9)

Do you believe that Jesus has promised to give you His true Body and Blood in, with, and under the bread and wine of the Sacraments? (Mt 26:26-28)

Do you believe that Jesus offers forgiveness of sins with His Body and Blood? (Mt 26:26-28)

If you were unable to answer "yes" to these questions, we would ask that you please speak with one of the Pastors before receiving communion.
I had wanted to add the proviso that they could come up to receive a blessing and should indicate so by crossing their arms and bowing their head, but I was overruled by our Senior Pastor. Not really sure why, but oh well, not that important.

Now, before we begin to take up the offering we announce that this is in the bulletin and ask people to make use of this time to reflect on the questions. I know this system isn't perfect but it does work. I have had people who went through our new member's class thank us for putting this in because it made their experience easier and I have had long time members tell me they love it because they use it themselves to prepare for communion. So, you can't tell me that close(d) communion is an impediment to witnessing. It really boils down to how you present it. As you can see we went to great lengths to always bring it back to the Bible (btw, we have Bibles in the pews so people unfamiliar with the passages can look them up.) I think this helps lessen the perception we are telling them they are unworthy and allows them to see we are serious about obeying God's word. Besides as I mentioned before in other places exclusion from communion did not impede the spread of the Gospel as evidenced by the practices of the early church where they sent the uncatechized home before starting communion (Dowley, Tim. Introduction to The History of Christianity).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

To Worship Or Not To Worship That Is The Question

On the Blog Necessary Roughness a mission congregation was brought up that apparently only meets for Bible Study. A few of us engaged in a short conversation about the topic and while none of us have posted in awhile, I am still thinking about the conversation.

Now in pursuing this conversation, I do not really want to comment on the congregation itself rather I want to stay within the "theoretical realm" because I do not know what is going on in that specific instance. Rebellious Pastor's Wife brought up an objection concerning a church with a pastor not gathering around the sacraments in divine service. Now, I can think of one legitimate reason for not gathering around the sacraments, Holy Communion, in particular, and that is they are going through catechesis and are not yet ready. However, this fact does not negate the benefit of gathering for a prayer and preaching service. Which makes me wonder why a mission would not start a regular service of some sort once there were two or three regulars.

Now for my question, what would drive the ultimate decision to not have a regular worship service and just a Bible Study? I have to wonder if it is because we are locked into this idea that we need a proper building in which to worship. Really a storefront or church building is not necessary for a worship service. All that is needed is a person willing to open their home or a convenient open space like a park. As it was brought up in our discussion the promise of Christ is to be where ever two or three are gathered in his name not in the designated sanctuary of such and such building.

My second thought is that we are of the mindset that a worship service is not meant for witnessing. This thought baffles me completely because a worship service centered around the Word of God is going to witness to people. As God's word is presented in the context of the service one can not help but be convicted by the Law and healed by the Gospel, because they will be given clearly. I realize a major portion of the service is the Sacrament of the Altar and that unprepared people are rightfully asked to refrain from partaking and this can be perceived as an impediment or turn off, but this still does not necessarily negate the witnessing ability of a worship service. I mean the ancient church would ask people to leave before receiving communion and as we can see now it didn't turn off everybody.

Now, I realize in a sense I have set up straw men, but I am curious as to why people when they have the means would not have a worship service. I don't know maybe other's have some experience with this thought process.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pro - Choice Mindset

The wife and I were talking last night before turning in and the topic of the pro-choice mindset came up. It got me to thinking, I honestly do not really know what the pro-choice mindset is. I have my assumptions but we all know what "assume" means. To be honest the pro-choice position is one that at least from the rhetoric is one that is completely outside of my conception. I mean how can anybody deny that little person growing enutero is a person? I have my assumptions but what is really forming their world view?

Assumption 1 - A knee jerk reaction to being told they cannot do something. - Humans and Americans, in particular, do not like legal regulation limiting the choices they can make, particularly when they involve personal decisions.

Assumption 2 - Selfishness - They want to be free from something that can drastically change their lives and let's face it nothing changes a life more than pregnancy and birth. In their desire to do what they want they will do what ever it takes to eliminate any obstacle.

Assumption 3 - Fear - As my wife shared with me being pregnant when your looking to be pregnant is a scary thing, so she could not imagine what it would be like if one wasn't looking to have children. Fear is a major driving force in forming people's opinions because they are going to make choices that will allow them to avoid what they fear. I avoid doctors partly because of a fear of needles. In a manner of speaking, abortion or at least being pro-choice allows people to avoid the thing that scares them.

Assumption 4 - Equality - Frequently, I see them arguing an infringement of women's rights when ever a ruling or law is pass limiting abortion. This makes me think they see abortion as a means of achieving equality with men. Honestly, I do not see how this is giving equality because I do not have a right to commit premeditated murder, thus bringing me back to my initial premise of not understanding the pro-choice mindset.

These are my assumptions, are they right? I don't know. However, I can't help but think that it would be a great help to figure out and understand the pro-choice mindset if I am ever going to successfully communicate and convince them of the veracity of the pro-life view.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lutheran Singles

Luther at the movies discusses the idea of a website for Lutheran singles. It is just too funny. Check it out.

New Gay Religion Paradigm

According to Christian psychologists are working on a new paradigm to help people whose sexual feeling conflict with their religious beliefs. On the surface this idea sounds great. Everybody could use help dealing with unwanted feelings. However, the paradigm seems to be to affirm them in what ever course they choose to go. If you think your religious beliefs take precedent fine, or if you think your sexual desires take precedent well that's just fine too. This paradigm just makes my skin crawl. Talk about the ultimate in post-modern psychology.

While on the surface I agree with psychologists that homosexuality is not a mental disease, I do disagree with them on the issue of it being right and normal. It is a manifestation of sin rather than a psychosis and needs to be treated as such. It should not be ignored nor should it be affirmed. The article reports a sad truth that many people who feel same sex urges and are deeply involved in Christianity are often conflicted and self loathing. Now while it is good that they do not like how they feel, it is wrong that they should be in such despair. Where there is such despair the gospel is not being preached and perceived attitudes may scare them away from seeking help. Now one of the men interviewed did seek help but he sought help from places that are American Evangelical in nature and so are likely to be very law based. No doubt these people need the Law like the rest of us miserable sinners but they also need the Gospel if they are ever to be free. One does have to wonder why their turmoil is viewed as greater than that of heterosexuals.

Is it because heterosexuals have easier outlets for seeking help? Are we more accepting of heterosexual sins? I think it is both. We already are too tolerant of couples living together or just having sex without moving in with each other. Many times we just wink, wink, nudge, nudge over such deviance, but we never adopt a serious tone with these couples. Meanwhile, we are yelling and screaming about how homosexual acceptance is a serious threat to society. This double standard gives people the idea that we treat people bound by the sin of homosexuality as something more evil and hated than heterosexual sin.

I think it is time we seriously considered how we are handling the issues of sin. We need to less time singling out a specific sin and more time condemning all sin as equal and above all follow up with the Gospel. At the same time we need to help these people deal with their sin and part of that is going to be setting up an atmosphere of trust. It is easier for people to seek help when they feel trust in others and trust is hard to come by when we give off a perceived reaction of rejection. Such perceptions come out when we focus too much on one sin and in how we talk generally. As much as it pains me to say, the pc crowd is right it is hurtful to poke fun at somebody just because how they feel and such actions are going to destroy trust.

The only question is, how do we have an atmosphere of trust yet condemn the sin when the sin is so closely associated with their core identity? Quite frankly, I don't have the answer to that question.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Partial Birth Abortion Ban Upheld

The Supreme Court upheld the Federal Law banning partial birth abortions. This decision is a step in the right direction with the court beginning to ignore bad precedent. A similar bill passed on the state level had been over turned by the Supreme Court. Hopefully, this is just the first step towards correcting the horrendous injustice called Roe V. Wade.

As expected the vote ran down the line between conservative and liberal justices with a 5-4 ruling.

Planned to not be a Parenthood is rather upset with the ruling.

Said Eve Gartner of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America: "This ruling flies in the face of 30 years of Supreme Court precedent and the best interest of women's health and safety. ... This ruling tells women that politicians, not doctors, will make their health care decisions for them." She had argued that point before the justices.
I hate to break it to you Miss Gartner but this means that the government is finally starting to do its job, protect the defenseless against selfish, inhumane acts of greed. Of course, I also have to ask what about the best interest of the child who's life is in question?

I told you so

I hate to say it but, I told you so! The anti-gun people are trying to use Va Tech as a rallying point for their cause. When are they going to learn that guns are not the problem, people are the problem. One paper at least briefly admitted that guns are not the sole problem but there are other factors. They called for intensive study to figure out the problem, most likely at taxpayer's expense. I can save them all a lot of trouble. Contrary to popular belief people are not innately good. We used to be and then we went and screwed it all up. We are all sinners, bound and chained to death itself, we all will inevitably hurt somebody. The only question is, is how. Not everybody is going to go around shooting crowds, but it all comes down to sin. We do not need to spend massive amounts of money to figure it out. God has already given us the answer. We just need to listen. God even gave us the fix to the problem. It never ceases to amaze me that God loves us enough to die for us a bunch of conniving, thieving, lecherous murders.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Computer fun

My retched machine has been randomly rebooting with no input for me for the past several weeks. For a while it was not much of a problem I just made sure I saved frequently and often, well lately it would take 10 minutes to get it to boot up in the morning because it would automatically reboot after I loged in. So, today I decided to see if reinstalling WinXP would help in the hopefully not vain hope that it was a software glitch.

So, I popped in the installation cd ran setup and it crashed. I ran it again, it crashed. Finally, I said to Rome with it and decided to reformat the drive. So far that has done the trick, the problem is it cost me a full day of work. I guess I could have worked on our other desktop, but sometimes it is really hard to concentrate when your work computer has gone belly up.

Anyhow, WinXP seems to be up and running now I just have to install all of the updates and reinstall all my additional software.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shoot Out

It is always a terrible tragedy when such senseless violence intrudes into people's lives. I fear, however, that the anti-gun lunatics will try to make this a case of why guns are evil, rather than addressing the real issue. Sin.

From all of us here at Lutherama, our hearts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of the victims. It is our sincerest desire that they find comfort in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jack Chick - Purveyor of Cheesy Comics

If you come from a Lutheran background you may not have heard of Jack Chick, because there are very few Lutherans into the whole KJV only garbage. We are more likely to be Beckists, but Jack Chick is a major provider of tracts used by fundamentalists of various bapticostal stripes. Lutherans generally do not find themselves on the receiving end of his vitriolic writings, he usually saves his putrescent writing for the Roman Catholic Church. However, in attacking the Roman Catholics he inevitably will attack doctrines that are close to home for us Lutheran's, generally infant baptism and the Real Presence.

His comics are a shining example of abysmal biblical study and paranoid delusions. My favorite example of his paranoid ramblings is his comic Death Cookie. In the comic Death Cookie, Jack spins this yarn about the Pope making a deal with the devil to deceive people into believe that Jesus' body and blood are present in the Communion. According to dear old Chick the wafer is based on the Egyptian Sun God which is of course complete malarkey everybody knows that the the wafer is based on the tortilla. Jack does not even get the Egyptian God right, Ra is the sun god. He obviously has not watched enough of that fascinating show Stargate SG-1If you are going to critique somebody at least do your homework.

Then to make things better he edits the Council of Trent so that it looks like the Papists are calling the wafer the cookie god. It is good to see intellectual integrity is not a must for witnessing in the fundie circles. Come on Jack, it is easy enough to run circles around the Council of Trent, you don't have to cheat do it.

Then there is the hack job he does to the bible. Jack doesn't want you to know the promises of Christ. He wants to make the Papists into pagans, so he does not include the part where Jesus says "this is my body." He only includes the part where Jesus says "do this in remembrance." Jack if you are going to accuse the Catholics of hiding the bible, you would be wise not to do it yourself.

Excerpts from the Death Cookie:

So just what does Jesus say about Holy Communion? Read for yourself.
Matthew 26:26-28 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Now I have to ask you, if God tells you this is his body, do you really say that no it can't be your body?

Oh by the way, Jack's website is, and no it is not a dirty website you gutterminded cretin.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Introduction to Unschooling

My husband has mentioned that we plan to homeschool our daughter (and any other children we have). As a result, I have spent quite a bit of time researching methods and curricula and whatnot. There have been some approaches I've liked instantly (literature-based, Charlotte Mason, classical education), and some that I was able to rule out right away (textbook/school-at-home, unit studies). And then there was unschooling.

If homeschooling is for those on the fringe, unschooling is the lunatic fringe. There is no one set definition of unschooling, but at its core is the notion that children are inherently wired to learn, and as such, find learning a fun proposition.

Certainly my ten-month-old daughter loves to explore and discover new things. She will forget to eat if there are interesting things to see and do. If she was not wired to keep persisting and exploring, she would never learn to hold her head up, or sit, or crawl, or walk, or any other milestone. These skills are either fun in themselves or allow her to do something she wants to do, and she keeps at it until she has mastered them. I must admit, I can see no reason why that persistence and love of discovery would disappear just because she reaches schoolage.

"But wait," you say, "if kids love to learn so much, then why do we have to force them to go to school and study and do their homework?"

Good question. Unschoolers assert that school destroys the love of learning in all but the most determined. Since children (and adults) are taught to equate "school" with "learning," and since most children end up hating school, they think they hate learning as well.

So why DO kids hate school? There are tons of reasons, but here are a few that most pertain to unschooling.

One, children are forced to learn in lockstep with everyone else. All six year olds are in the first grade, and all first graders must learn this list of skills in this order in this exact timeframe; this list is usually designed for the "average" six-year-old. However, children are quite different from each other, and the odds of a specific child matching up with the schools' mythical "average" child in all areas is quite low. This means kids spend quite a bit of time either bored or behind, neither of which is particularly conducive to enjoying school.

As well, knowledge is compartmentalized into "subjects," each of which is studied for a specific period of time each day or week, no more, no less. When that time is up, it's up. A child may be enthused by the American Revolution, and want to keep going, but history's over, time for math. A child's interest or lack of interest has no effect on what the child studies - why should they enjoy or respect an institution that has zero respect for them?

You'll notice there is an emphasis on "force" in the above. As a result of generations of "school=learning" and kids hating school, there is a cultural expectation that kids hate to learn, and thus most be forced. People generally conform to what is expected of them. Thus, as schools treat children like prisoners that must be corralled and some knowledge forced into them against their will, children will eventually come to live down to those expectations.

Unschoolers look at the above - children like to learn, until they are compelled to learn on some else's timetable - and declare the solution is obvious: Let children direct their own education.

And most everyone responds with, "Ha ha, yeah right. Like THAT will ever work."

At first, I, like most of you, thought this was completely impractical. I, probably unlike most of you, still thought it was a really intriguing concept. However, I still had quite a few questions and objections.

Continued in:
Practical Objections to Unschooling
Christian Unschooling - Isn't that an Oxymoron?

Zoidberg's Brain Slug Treatment Candidate of the Week

Everybody can relax now Dr. Zoidberg is here!

[crickets chirping]

After an exhaustive search I have found my next candidate for my patented Brain Slug Treatment. This week's candidate is truly deserving. She not only disobeyed her parents, she was dumb enough to advertise it on MySpace. Wait she had a party and didn't invite Zoidberg! The outrage I tell you, that there is reason alone to give her my treatment!

Back to the candidate, she is none other than Rachel Bell. Rachel, it seems, decided she really wanted to have a party while the parents were out of town. That there is dumb enough, hasn't she watched TV! Every sitcom will tell you that is bad idea and everybody knows that the TV wouldn't lie to us. Then to top it off she decided to put her party on MySpace. A recipe for disaster, I tell you! Did she really think that only a few people would show up if she put her party on MySpace. OY! Not even Fry would be so numb skulled and he once trusted Bender with his money!

Rachel it is time for you to open your mouth and say "ahh", and let me take a look at that brain of yours.

The Bondage of the Will

Tell me can anybody read this (caution, the article is not for those sensitive to crimes against babies) and still try to tell me that people are not in bondage to sin?

Pope says evolution can not be proven

When you have a 1000 monkeys at 1000 dartboards eventually you will get a right answer.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

J.S. Bach on music

J.S. Bach said, "All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul's refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub."

Amen, Brother Bach.

A Message for Pro-Choicers

This message is primarily for those who are pro-choice but would never abort themselves.

A person who does evil to his neighbor is not the only one guilty under the commandment to not murder. It also applies to anyone who can do his neighbor good, prevent or resist evil, defend and save his neighbor so that no bodily harm or hurt happen to him-yet does not do this (Jms 2:15-16). If, therefore, you send away someone who is naked when you could clothe him, you have caused him to freeze to death. If you see someone suffer hunger and do not give him food, you have caused him to starve. So also, if you see anyone innocently sentenced to death or in similar distress, and do not save him, although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed. It will not work for you to make the excuse that you did not provide any help, counsel, or aid to harm him. For you have withheld your love from him and deprived him of the benefit by which his life would have been saved. (LC 189,90)

God will rightfully call you murderers for withholding your love from young children who could not save themselves from the selfish choices of their mothers. The defense of 'women's rights' is no excuse because no person's right of choice should interfere with anothers right to live. Life is precious because it is a gift of God. While it may not always be an easy gift to bear, it is still one that should be treasured. God treasures the gift he gave us so much he was willing to die in order that it may be restored to us. Moreover, Christ arose so that we may have life and therein is our hope, for in the end we are all murderers in our own right.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stem Cell Breakthrough

The Journal of the American Medical Association released the results of a Brazilian study on treating Type I Diabetes, Autologous Nonmyeloablative Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation in Newly Diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus. While, the treatment will require further study this is a major breakthrough as several of the patients involved were able to forgo insulin treatments for extended periods. This is a big time improvement because in Type I going without frequent injections (several shots a day) is potentially lethal. Results varied with one patient going 35 months (nearly 3 years) without insulin to just one month. This is a long way from a cure but coming from a person suffering from needlephobia going several months between treatments is a far sight better than 2+ times a day.

The Church Going Sex Offender

The New York Times has published an interesting article on the struggles of churches to put faith into action when it comes to sex offenders. I can see how this topic could be a cause of strife in a church. If your congregation is like ours, more than a little fearful of the sex offender threat, you will understand the need for concern in handling this situation. In our case the fear is not entirely unfounded. One prominent family lost their oldest son to a man who raped and murdered his victims. Now, this incident happened 20+ years ago so it is not the primary driving force. Some of the fear, I think is due to the hype the media gives to the situation, but still people are afraid of sex offenders. You add on to the driving idea that they are irredeemable and you have a real problem on your hands. Particularly, since we believe that Christ can change the darkest of hearts.

So, what do we do? I'll be up front and say we invite them to receive God's grace just as we would any other sinner, because in the end we are no different than they in the need for God's grace. I imagine some will say that is easy for you to say in theory, but in my case it is not theory. We have a convicted sex offender in our congregation. We have handled the situation rather quietly, one due to legal requirements (convicted as a minor) and two to quote K from MIB "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it." The Pastors and the youth minister know about him and that is pretty much it. We take care to work around his weakness and not place him in a position to be tempted and give him the help he needs in handling this sin. In essence, we trust but verify. We also, due to insurance requirements, background check anybody who will be working with minors on a regular basis.

What about the victims of abuse the article asks. Well, they need to be handled with care, because they understandably will have a strong feeling about having abusers around. Here is where catechesis is vital; they need to be nurtured, in order to bring them to a level where they can in Christian charity interact with the the offenders. All the while, we should take care to show them the same level of care we do the offenders and remind them that just because they are members doesn't mean you have to hang out with them either. Above all let them move at their own pace. When they are ready, they are ready.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Is HOPE all that you hoped for? reports that the Florida State Legislature is ready to vote on a bill for the funding of Stem Cell research titled HOPE, "Hope Offered through Principled, Ethically sound stem cell research." To be honest I am not sure that it is all that I hoped. I had hoped there would actually be money to put into the bill, however, it appears they did a hack job and will not be offering 20 million in research grants. A shame because the bill would provide this money to research conducted on the most ethical source, adult stem cells. However, instead of great legislation we have a laughing stock. They must have spent the 20 million trying to pay for the increases in hurricane insurance. {For those of you who do not know, many congregations in Florida are hurting right now because our hurricane insurance has gone through the roof or they have been dropped, to give you a clue our congregation's insurance went up nearly $20,000}
Some how I doubt the State Government is feeling the pinch, but I sure am.

I guess the best I can say about this one, is well at least we didn't pull a Missouri and vote away our rights just so we can selfishly possibly, one day, fix our self inflicted wounds.

Are we afraid to be distinctly Lutheran?

Recent trends have gotten me to thinking recently that Lutherans are afraid to be Lutheran. In some ways I can't blame them. They look at churches around them who are experiencing numerical success such as Saddleback, Lakewood, Grace Community (Houston, Tx), Calvary Chapel (Melbourne, Fl), and others; and they want that same experience. Part of me says "I can't blame them," because having a large influx of people is exciting. Then the other part of me dreads their excitement because then it translates into why can't we be more like them. We need to change our services. We need to be more contemporary. Toss out the old and in with the new. Now I can see the potential of using the new multimedia tools for conveying the wonders of the Gospel but I wonder do we really need to do the out with the old?

Do we really need to look for new and innovative ways? I think we should do some historical studies and see what worked for the churches in the days of the Roman Empire. Why you ask? It is really simple, they lived in a society that is very similar to ours. Their society was very tolerant of drug use, sexual sins, violence, and any and all religions were good. In fact, if you had a god they didn't they'd just toss up a statue for him in the temple. They even tolerated the quaint Jewish and Christian idea of monotheism until Caesar needed a scapegoat. So with a society so similar to ours I think we should look at what they did.

Articles all over the place are talking about the need to be relational with our message and ministry. You can't get any more relational than people throwing parties and sharing the message with their friends. They didn't have any great programs, the people just went out and shared the Gospel. It really is that simple. Now, we just need non Christian friends.

The worship service was relational and relevant. A tradition I think could find great favor in today's postmodern mindset is the practice of individual Absolution or as I like to call it "The Lutheran Altar Call." It is a far more personal way of conveying the truth and promise of God's Forgiveness than the corporate confession and absolution we currently practice. I think it is time we faced up to the idea that the group absolution that has largely replaced the practice of individual confession and absolution does not cut it in a society that places and emphasis on the individual experience. The practice of individual Absolution is a perfect fit because it is entirely in keeping with the doctrine and practice of the Lutheran Church and it is undeniably an individual experience.

We also hear a need for up beat songs. Ok, give them what they want but be sure to give them what they need. There is nothing wrong with catchy, upbeat tunes, I like a toe tapping tune myself. But you need to make sure they are filled with lyrics that have far more to them than "I will sing praise to you." Praise to who? Praise for what? People have pointed out that Arius used catchy tunes to teach his dastardly teachings, well, don't let the devil ruin a good thing. Use catchy tunes to teach good things. I did it, I'd like to see you say "Almighty Fortress" is not a catchy tune.

Preach to people's felt needs, but make them Lutheran or I shall beat you with a rubber hose. It isn't that hard to speak to people's needs and point them to the great gifts of the means of grace as the answer. Give them sound wisdom (Biblical principles to live by) but be clear that when they fail to live by these principles they should run to cross and look for strength from Christ.

Above all don't be afraid to be Lutheran because at the heart of being a Lutheran is the Gospel. It is the Gospel that is ultimately going to win the hearts of people not a snappy dressing smooth talking preacher.

Bitter Sweet Easter

I hope everybody had a blessed Easter. I must admit mine was in someways bittersweet. I am a big fan of Johnny Hart's and will sorely miss his wonderful humor and hope filled comic strip. However, as much as I will miss his art, I rejoice in the hope that drove him to pour out his heart via stone aged characters.

Jesus Christ is Risen!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Maundy Thursday

Blessed Maundy Thursday to all of you. I trust that the Lord will use the gifts he gives us in Word and Sacrament to strengthen and deepen your faith.

As we are entering the vigil weekend I won't be posting for a few days.


Dr. Luther and all the people here at LUTHERAMA

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Does this mean I can't name my son Martin Luther Jr.? reports that a couple in Sweden is suing to for the right to name their daughter Metallica. Apparently the Swedish Nanny State has determined this is an unfit name for a little girl because it is associated with the heavy metal mega group Metallica and the word 'metal'. This makes me wonder if they would allow me to name my son, should I eventually have one, Martin Luther Jr. or would they claim that it is too closely associated with a famous black preacher and a little known monk. (sorry but it kind of urks me that when people hear Martin Luther they think of that King fellow and violent streets with his name while completely ignoring the man he was named after. King did good work, but it would be nice to have my work remembered particularly if it was associated with the preaching of the Gospel.) In some ways, this ruling by the Swedish, we know better than you, Government seems a little hypocritical. How many Johatans, Johans, and Josefs have been turned down because they are too closely related to major religions? Zero.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Creflo Dollar prophet of the Antichrist?

After watching the video clips below I would have to say yes.

To deny the very heart of the Christian faith that Jesus is God at any point before or after the incarnation (change due to clarification from reliable source) is heresy. Does not the apostle John write, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." John 1:1-2
Then to add on the bit about how we are gods {thinking thoughts that must be confessed} the last time I heard that claim guess who it came from. I give you a clue he makes his appearance a few chapters after the bit old Money Bags uses to prove we are gods.

HT The Heresy Hunter

Blow Hard predictions are out

Dr. Luther eminent prognosticator of political predictions has released his predictions for the up coming political season.

There will be

723,987 promises made
723,988 promises broken
267 Scandals
30 named scandals
15 of which will be named _____ gate

So far, Dr. Luther has been right 100% and we will see if he can continue his average with his first ever prodigious prognostication.

By the way in real news Dr. Gray of Colorado State University has released his predictions for the up coming hurricane season.
17 Named storms
9 Hurricanes
5 Intense Hurricanes

Personally living only a few miles from the right coast of Florida, I am hoping for a very very quiet year.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Public Schools teaching the Bible as Literature

David Van Biema has written a decent article on the trend of offering elective courses teaching the Bible as Literature, and I must say that I am torn over the idea.

On the one hand, I am all for the teaching of scripture to young minds. The Bible is most profitable for teaching young people in the ways of righteousness. At the same time it is, of course, the only place where we can find true hope in this life of strife. Now here comes the part where I am have issues.

In order to teach the Bible in classes they pretty much have to strip the Bible of its core purpose, the proclamation of Jesus Christ's substitutionary death and resurrection. One the Supreme Court, the dunderheads that they are, require the Gospel to be striped in order to teach because they do not wish to promote a religion. Second, the stated goals of much of the course is to help the students understand the cultural impact of the Bible. Which, in essence, is pure idiocy without the Gospel, because the Gospel is the single reason the Bible has had the impact it does. If it were not for the Gospel the Bible would be as exceedingly dull and vacuous as a modern soap opera. Without the Gospel, the Bible would have been lost in the myriad of works and be no more of an influence than the gnostic writings.

My pastor friend has other worries. After reading Van Biema's article he recounted his time at Texas A&M when he took a Bible as Literature course. He noted that the course was full of theories which attempted to dissect and devalue the Bible as the Word of God. In this course, they promoted such idiotic ideas as JEDP, as if they could even hope to tell you who wrote what just by looking at grammar. We must not forget the eternal question, how many Isaiahs are there 2, 3, 4, 25? To add on to the troubles caused by viewing the Bible in the same light as every other book they tend to look at the Bible as a collection of separate pieces rather than a unified whole.

This is cleaving of the Bible is evidenced by the Van Biema when he brings up the issue of a case being thrown out because Jurors had a discussion on "eye for an eye" according to the Old Testament. He claims the jurors were at fault because they ignored or hadn't noticed that Jesus repudiated "eye for an eye" by teaching people to turn the other cheek. However, Jesus' proclamation is not a negation of the Old Testament where God is laying out the civil laws for the physical nation of Israel. Jesus is arguing against those who have used these verses to justify revenge as Dr Jeff Gibbs notes in his commentary on Matthew " Given the human condition, it was inevitable that some teachers in 1st Century Judaism would have taken the biblical admonitions regard just penalties and recompense and married to them this perspective of "do what you have to do, and be sure to get even." Jesus is not negating the states right to punish by the sword which is outlined in the Old Testament he is calling on people to take on "lives of reckless generosity and naivete." (Gibbs)

Enough about that, as much as I love the idea of young people studying God's word, I just can't help but feel that courses that seek to teach the Bible as literature will do nothing more than butcher and bury the most important thing about the Bible, Jesus Christ.

Gibbs, Jeff Matthew 1:1-11:1 Concordia Commentary Series, CPH, St. Louis: 2007

Time Magazine Highlights fellow Blogger

The most recent issue of Time Magazine has an article on Pastor's wives and how the internet is providing a needed outlet for these dear ladies. One of the people interviewed in the article is none other than a favorite of mine The Rebellious Pastor's Wife.