Monday, September 29, 2003

Guess what. My best friend once again had to run his mouth, during a poker game no less...

I do not get him. He was complaining that we were willy-nillying in Iraq when in fact every one of the reports I have heard from troops returning from the field are we are winning. Why are the media contradicting everything I am hearing from the field? Why isn't my best friend, who is closer to the military than I am, hearing this as well and just rolling his eyes at NPR reports? How come he can't realize that WMD's don't matter and the fact that people are no longer being tortured for their political beliefs does? Maybe Einstein is right. Common sense is no longer all that common.

Balfour Declaration
Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations

I just realized something: my best friend's arguments are sounding awfully French in their nature. No wonder they stunk.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Since I have exhausted myself in questioning the LCMS up to this point, I wanted to address something that popped up in my boss' e-mail today: Yellowstone. As some of you know, I am a better geologist than theologian, and, while this topic is outside my area of specialty, I am informed enough about how this works to give a informed opinion on the subject. Why would I want to talk about Yellowstone? The park had to close an area because the ground was getting too hot this summer. You may be asking yourself what in the world am I talking about. The area of Yellowstone National Park contains a caldera approximately 80x40 km in size. For those of you that do not know what a caldera is, it is a giant volcano that exploded with such force that the volcano collapses upon itself after a massive eruption. A new magma chamber has formed underneath Yellowstone and is currently filling. Due to this filling, Yellowstone is rising. Currently, there are areas of the park that have risen two feet since 1923. Some areas are rising at a rate of 3/4 of an inch a year or greater. This may not seem like much to the average person, but, considering geologists discuss rates like this most of the time in term of inches or centimeters per 1000 years, you get an idea of why flags are going up in my head. If the volcano were to erupt, it would throw tens of cubic miles of ash into the atmosphere, and would be bigger than any volcanic eruption in recorded history. It would make Mt. St. Helens look like a coke bottle exploding after a kid shook it too long. The climatic effect from such an eruption could be devastating.

However, this is no reason to panic. Concerned? Maybe not even that. The situation at Yellowstone is something to keep an eye on, however. The amount of inflation due to the filling magma chamber and does make me raise an eyebrow, but I do not see any immediate danger to the area. Much of the reporting about Yellowstone has been quite exaggerated, and geologists get more grant money if they exaggerate the possible effects of an eruption. That does not mean we shouldn't be aware of the possible danger. The hydrothermal activity that makes the area so popular and beautiful is purely the effects of a giant magma chamber beneath the area.

Information on the Yellowstone area can be found at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory Homepage.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Putting the BOD's recent financial report into context

More commentary on this new situation in our Synod.
Did you know they have a spell-checker now? I only have to use it...

I haven't posted my e-mail address lately. I figure the worst that could happen is someone writing saying they are bored. So am I.

If I ever went to seminary and went for a S.T.M., I would title my thesis, "The Theology of Monty Python."

Something that never seems to be pointed out is when Monty Python leans right. Those who have seen the sketch "World Forum" which has Karl Marx getting pissed off because he didn't win a lounge suite. Maybe I'll explore this later on.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

If I ever get my own computer, I'll download blogger so I can change all the crap on my blog and actually make it look cool with links to various other bloggers all around the world.

A new favorite site of mine is Dissecting Leftism. Dr. Ray has his ducks lined up and ready to shoot. I found him while trying to find something to refute the Berkley study claiming people who are politically to the right are psycho. Good stuff.

Just so you know, there has been a very interesting development in the Synod heirarchy. It has generally been thought that the Synodical President (SP) was the top dog in all Synodical functions and one could not get any higher on the power scale. The Synodical Board of Directors (BoD) didn't seem to like what was going on, and hired a law firm to write up a brief describing how a not-for-profit corporation in Missouri (where the Synod is incorporated. Who would've thought) is supposed to be run according to the state law of Missouri. Lo and behold, the law firm dug up a little gem that states the Board of Directors can hire and fire whoever they want. This contradicts the CCM opinion that states the SP is the head honcho, and the BoD serve at his pleasure. This little gem of an opinion could get our synodical charter revoked. Thanks to the Holy Order of the Daystar and Jees, Us First for making this all possible. Now, if only the BoD will have the guts to can the SP for incompetance and allow Dan Preus to take his place. They should also fire the CCM for not consulting State law before spouting forth. It would make Confessionals lives much easier. It would also make stacking the BoD with Confessionals imperative at the next convention. Of course, all the parties threatened by this (the CoP) are going to sue. This will get tied up in court. Just remember, church government is just like any other government: it is the relm of the Kingdom of the Left.

LCMS BOD versus Kieschnick and The COP

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Christ himself has described the way to heaven as a narrow path. Just so narrow is the path of pure doctrine. For the pure doctrine is nothing else than the doctrine regarding the way to heaven. It is easy to lose your way when it is narrow, rarely traveled, and leads through a dense forest. Without intending to do so and without being aware of it, you may make a wrong turn to the right or left. It is equally easy to lose the narrow way of the pure doctrine, which likewise is traveled by few people and leads through a dense forest of erronous teachings. You may land either in the bog of fanaticism or in the abyss of rationalism. This is no jest. False doctrine is a poisin to the soul. An entire banqueting party drinking from cups containg an admixture of arsenic can drink physical death from its cups. So an entire audience can invite spiritual and eternal death by listening to a sermon that contains an admixture of the poison of false doctrine. A person can be deprived of his soul's salvation by a single false comfort or a single false reproof administered to him. This is all the more easy because we are naturally more accessible to the shining and dazzling light of human reason than to the divine truth. For, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them."--! Corinthians 2:14

From what has been said you can gather how foolish it is, yea, what an awful delusion has taken hold upon us so many men's minds who ridicule the pure doctrine and say to us, "Ah, do not cease clamoring, Pure Doctrine! Pure Doctrine!This can only land you in dead orthodoxism. Pay more attention to pure life, and you will raise a growth of genuine Christianity." That is exactly like saying to a farmer, " Do not worry forever about good seed; worry about good fruits." Is not a farmer properly concerned about good fruit when he is solicious about getting good seed? Just so a concern about pure doctrine is a proper concern about genuine Christianity and a sincere Christian life. False doctrine is noxious seed, sown by the enemy to produce progeny of wickedness.The pure doctrine is the wheat-seed; from it spring the children of the Kingdom, who even in present life belong in the kingdom of Jesus Christ and in the life to come belong to the Kingdom of Glory. May God even now implant in your hearts a great fear, yea, a real abhorrence of false doctrine! May He graciously give you a holy desire for the pure, saving truth, revealed by God himself!--The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel by C.F.W. Walther, pp. 20-21

The Holy Order of the Daystar and Jees, Us First would do well to ponder the words of our first synodical president.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

You know, sometimes I just do not feel like blogging, and I am not disciplined enough to just post even when I do not feel like it.

There is a question being asked more and more around confessional Lutheran circles right now. Who will we run against SP Kiechnick? The biggest problem is that the conservatives are in at least two groups, maybe three. The Waltharians vs the "hyper-Euro Lutherans." All that is involved is differences in church polity. Neither side likes the other, and they both tend to go after each other's throats when they are not being attacked by the JF/Daystar crowd. To me, the problem is not so serious as to not get behind one canidate. The problem are the various confessional groups themselves. I am personally inclined to support Dan Preus, but that is just me. If he can be elected 1st VP without any problems, then he is electable as SP. His election, realistically, will not change anything. Most of the District Presidents are still liberal and still hold much of the power.

Friday, September 05, 2003

The French body count is now well over 11,000 people. People sometimes come around and berate me for actually believing in American health care, even though it is expensive for just about everybody. (All we have to do to bring the price down is to string up every trial lawyer, except the one representing the guy who had his penis cut off because the doctors thought it was cancerous and then they look at the organ and find it isn't cancerous. That guy deserves every cent he can get out of the doctor.) Well, we had a heat wave recently in the midwest and a whole whopping two people died in that heatwave. Even if you adjust your numbers to the populations, we loose 10 people for every 11,000 people the French loose. Now, I know most of the deaths are of elderly people, but come on. The health care system should have been able to prevent at least half these people's deaths. The numbers are ridiculous, and it's one more reason why universal health care sucks.

Monday, September 01, 2003

I received this e-mail today. It explains more about the money we are spending as a synod.

[Ed. One week ago I posted information about President Kieschnick's high paid outside consultants, J. David Schmidt and Associates ( I have yet to hear back from their office in Wheaton, IL as to their involvement with the LCMS. In the meantime, the interest in learning more about this organization and its relation to our Synod (and specificially the Office of the President), has continued to increase. While many have asked me directly about this, one individual has now provided information that not only confirms the use of this high-priced non-Lutheran consulting firm by the Synodical President, but moreover, demonstrates the incredible effort that pastors and congregations of the LCMS must go through to get the Office of the President to provide full disclosure about their activities on behalf of the pastors and congregations of the Synod. This information also helps to bring clarity to what this firm is actually being used for in the first place. To that end, I would like to publically thank President Kieschnick for his eventual involvement in what is described below, and for his stated desire to lead the Synod in "a spirit of complete openness." Our love for the Gospel and each other, especially at this time of unprecedented crisis, makes such openness all the more essential.]

You may recall the following resolution in the minutes of the May 15-17, 2003, LCMS Board of Director's Meeting:

"Resolved, That the Board observes the large increases in the President’s budget for travel, entertainment, and consulting fees, most of which will be covered by restricted gifts, and encourages the President in these days of financial stringencies to reconsider the large increases in these areas."

After reading the above minutes, Rev. Jay Wheeler of Osceola, IA, decided to simply ask about these consulting fees in lieu of Bylaw 3.72 regarding synodical "full financial disclosure." (the pertinent bylaws will be available in a separate upcoming post). Being referred to the President's Office by LCMS Chief Administrative Officer, Dr. Brad Hewitt, Pastor Wheeler asked regarding "... (1) the amount of the funds being used by our Synodical President, (2) to whom and (3) for what purposes."

One would have thought that such would have been a simple question to answer. However, Pastor Wheeler found himself repeatedly questioned about his purposes for desiring such information and what his plans were once he obtained it. He was even asked, "Can the President’s office be assured that, in using this information, you will not break the 4th, 5th, or 8th commandments?" Pastor Wheeler tells me that he continually replied that he simpled wanted "to be able to know and tell the truth about this matter."

Eventually, Pastor Wheeler was referred by the Presidents's Office to Mr. Charles E. Rhodes, Executive Director of Accounting. Mr Rhodes asked Pastor Wheeler to have his congregation directly ask for such information from the LCMS Board of Directors in order to follow the "letter" of the bylaw. They did so.

Once this matter was finally brought to the attention of the LCMS Board of Directors and was placed on their agenda at their recently concluded August meeting (minutes not yet available), President Kieschnick finally issued a memo copied, among others, to the Chairman of the Board of Directors and the Iowa West District President, requesting that such information be made available by his Office, "because I desire to lead the Synod in a spirit of complete openness...."

Thankfully, though after an excessively lengthy two month period of correspondence, Pastor Wheeler finally received the following information on August 8, 2003 from Kieschnick assistant, Rev. Jon Braunersreuther. Pastor Wheeler, in the spirit of the openness expressed by President Kieschnick, believes that this factual information should be made available, especially given the wide-spread questions being asked at present about the use of this consulting firm:

"In the fiscal year 2003, $60, 877 was spent on consultant fees – all for J. David Schmidt and Associates of Wheaton, Illinois. Thus far in fiscal year 2004, $8,452.36 has been expended for consultant fees, also for J. David Schmidt and Associates of Wheaton, Illinois. At this juncture, J. David Schmidt and Associates of Wheaton, Illinois is the firm that we intend to continue to use for consultative purposes. This firm is working with the Office of the President in an overall effort to reverse the thirty year decline in baptized membership of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and in the process to coordinate and align the boards, councils, commissions, entities, institutions, agencies, auxiliaries, and partner churches of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod."

Special thanks to Pastor Wheeler for making this information available so that the truth on this matter may be made known, and so that future discussions on the role of J. David Schmidt and Associates can proceed on such a foundation of factual information. Hopefully, the above information will help set aside any confusion.

However, this whole situation raises a great number of foundational and critical questions:

1) Why is it so incredibly hard to receive such basic information from the Office of the President in the first place? Also, why can't the CAO of the Synod provide such information?
2) If President Kieschnick desires to truly lead the Synod in "a spirit of complete openness", why is a pastor of the Synod continually questioned about why he even desires to receive such basic information that should be readily available to members of the Synod? Moreover, should members of Synod be asked to make promises to not commit sin in order to receive such information? Is full disclosure, full disclosure, or not? And what ever happened to "let charity prevail"?
3) If there really is a "thirty year decline in baptized membership" (see upcoming separate post), is the answer to be found in paying outside consultants who have no commitment to the Lutheran Bibilical and Confessional Perspective anyway? Is this not at least an indirect admission that the proclamation of the Gospel simply doesn't work, or needs to be supplemented in some way? Is this the origin and genesis of the whole "Ablaze" program?
4) What business does an outside consulting firm have in helping to "coordinate and align the boards, councils, commissions, entities, institutions, agencies, auxiliaris, and partner churches of The Lutheran
Church - Missouri Synod?"
5) Do all of the above listed "councils, commissions, entities, institutions, agencies and auxiliaries" of Synod have a say in any of this? Have they been informed of what plans are being developed to "coordinate and align" them? After all, are they not already "coordinated and aligned" by virtue of our present Synodical Constitution and By-laws (which we are always hearing so much about by the President's Office and the Commission on Constitutional Matters)?
6) Further, and most importantly, did we as the Synod ever ask the President to do this anyway? Is such "alignment" and "coordination" the responsibility of the Office of the President to begin with? What does the Board of Directors have to say about this? And don't we have a Commission on Structure for such purposes? Why are they not being engaged in what appears to be a plan to provide an "overhaul" of the Synod and the way it works together?
7) Why are we seeking to "coordinate and align" our partner churches? Do they not have a say in this? Is this what "partnership" is all about? Would we like it if we knew that they were working to "align" and "coordinate us?
8) Since these enormous consulting fees are being paid by "outside" gifts to the Office of the President, are these funds being used appropriately if one of the goals in engaging this firm is to do what is described above in #4? Should not "synodical monies" be used at "syondical direction" to help with such a project as large in scope as this?
9) Do we really want outside groups/individuals consulting the Synod about what it should do to realign itself, all while having their activities paid by outside money?
10) Why is what amounts to such an "overhaul" of the Synod's structure deemed so necessary to begin with, and if it is, why does J. David Schmidt and Associates know more about it then the Synod itself?

I see an endless field of red flags!

Kyrie eleison,
Pr. Marcus Zill