Saturday, February 28, 2004

Allah is being very bad again. I just hope that there's no resurrection.

"A church that is unwilling to use the binding key has no business using the loosing key."

What is the Office of the Keys?

The office of the keys is that special authority which Christ has given to his church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent.

Where is this written?

St. John the Evangelist writes in chapter 20: The Lord Jesus breather on His disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." [John 20:22-23]

What do you believe according to these words?

I believe when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by his divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us himself.--Luther's Small Catechism, p. 27, 1986, CPH

Before I really went to the meat of what I was going for with that earlier statement, I thought that a short review of what the Office of the Keys is, and there is no better place than Luther's Small Catechism. I am going to hold off on where I am going, however. Let me just say this: I'm going somewhere with this that no one would expect me to, not even pastors.

Update: Because of the above link, Allah has finally made his way onto my blog roll.
I was going to post tonight trying to fill out what I meant by "those who do not practice the binding key have no buisness using the losing key." However, I am on my way to bed because I honsetly feel like something my dog unleashed today and I could use some sleep and, hopefully, I'll be ready for tomorow.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Some thoughts on The Passion of the Christ by Rev. Dr. Burnell Eckardt, Jr.

The Shire

The musing of Gandalf the White herein, at which all hobbits, dwarves, elves and others may scoff and take potshots at will, or in which, perhaps, one may occasionally delight . . .
Volume 8 Number 1 (2004:1)
[February 27, 2004]

Mel Gibson's Iconic *Passion*
a review by Burnell F. Eckardt Jr.

It's not really surprising that Mel Gibson's *The Passion of the Christ* has ignited so much passion. This movie, I think, ranks first among the movies which culminate on Good Friday, and there is a slew of them, most notably Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 "The King of Kings"; Pasolini's 1965 "The Gospel according to St. Matthew"; the 1959 epic "Ben Hur" that made Charlton Heston famous, and who can forget George Stevens' "The Greatest Story Ever Told," with John Wayne's cameo line, "Truly, this was the Son of God." But now we have in *Passion* a retelling of the highest caliber, due in part to the adept use of special effects unavailable to DeMille and his generation, but more so to the remarkable skill with which Gibson has handled the Biblical material.

It's aptly named an Icon film, and we briefly see the in the Icon logo a cutout of the Our Lady of Vladimir icon, arguably the most famous and beloved icon in all of history, wherein the mournful gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary invites the viewer to enter her sorrows over her Son. Truly, that is what one is compelled to do upon seeing this film. Some have complained that the movie is too gruesome (hence the R rating), but I think their complaints might in part be due to a failure to recognize the gruesome nature of the Biblical accounts themselves.

A two-hour treatment to scourging, brutality, bloodshed, and crucifixion is a bit much to take, and this kind of movie doesn't quite qualify as entertainment. But I don't find this a harmful thing (especially during Lent), since in fact the 'thing' in question here is, according to the Scriptures, the very means by which the world was redeemed and reconciled to God. The film's opening words, from Isaiah 53, really say it all: He was bruised for our iniquities. Here we are given ample opportunity to ponder this bruising. Say what you will about dramatizations and their the ill effects they can cast on the meaning of the Gospel-and if there is a downside, that would be it-I find in the viewing of *Passion* more of an experience like unto the viewing of an icon.

The American culture knows little of icons, because the great majority of our churches, whether Roman Catholic, Lutheran, or Protestant, spring from the 'Western' branch of the Christian historical tree, whereas it is from 'Eastern' branch that icons largely come. Yet the West never condemned iconophilia (the love of icons), and indeed a prominent fifth century Pope (i.e., Western) once defended their use against the Emperor and the Constantinopolitan (i.e., Eastern) patriarch, and for that matter the Seventh Ecumenical Council (mid 8th century) approved the veneration of icons among all. But since West and the East split apart in the mid eleventh century, icons have become increasingly unfamiliar in the West.

*Passion* is clearly iconographic in at least the sense that it evokes serious contemplation on the Holy Mysteries of the Gospel. Icons are really not for idles glances, but for serious and sometimes prolonged meditation. Likewise *Passion* invites us into the world of contemplation. This is a powerful and masterful film, and though Gibson himself admits that its intention is to "shock" the viewer, I do not take his meaning in a pejorative sense. To the contrary, I might even venture to suggest that this film is tastefully done, for several reasons.

First, the brutality is only as realistic as the Gospels themselves, and I do not find it overdone, unless one finds the evangelists' accounts overdone as well. Sometimes squeamishness is a good thing, even as we do not come to church on Good Friday in the expectation of relaxation.

Second, in the long tradition of Passion Plays, this movie is presented from an unabashedly Christian perspective, as, of course, are the Gospels. The occasional appearance and final demise of satan comes off as an underlying plot to the entire event, from Jesus' crushing of the serpent's head to the final wail of demonic defeat. These insertions employ an entirely acceptable traditional interpretation, reflected in the early church fathers and springing from the proto-evangelion in Genesis 3:15: He shall bruise thy head.

Third, the film does not Hollywood-ize by the addition of a host of dramatized fictional additions which have become all too commonplace in such epics: there are a few, but Gibson has exercised admirable restraint in his use of occasional conjecture. The tender flashbacks to Jesus' life at home may not be historical, but serve well to characterize the Blessed Virgin's sorrows, coupled as they are with her (also conjectured) thought, "When, how" will he end this travesty and vindicate himself? Depicted with her grief is also her calm reserve of undaunted faith, all the way to the Pieta, her cradling of the dead Christ. Gibson also gives a respectful nod to venerable tradition, with the brief appearance of Veronica on the Via Dolorosa and her veil receiving the image of Christ's face.

Fourth, the resurrection is acknowledged, but ever so briefly. This is, after all, a Passion. The traditional Passion accounts, read during Holy Week, do not contain the resurrection; to hear that account, one must wait until Easter.

Speaking of the hearing of the Gospel, most importantly this film does not appear to replace what the Church exists to give, in the name of this Crucified Christ. One poignant scene suggests the very opposite: from a flashback to the institution of the Lord's Supper we break suddenly to the dripping of His sacred blood from the cross, the very same blood of which He spoke. But of course no one gets the Sacrament by attending a movie. Nor do I find in this movie any attempt to supplant the Church's purpose: the preaching and administration of the Gospel. The Gospel, to be sure, is proclaimed by this film; but the abundance of tearful faces I saw when the lights came up suggests to me a longing of souls which no film can placate. That longing, I dare say, can only be filled upon the regular hearing of the Gospel, as the Apostle Paul declared, "We preach Christ Jesus and Him crucified."

The Shire 2004:1
Copyright 2004 Gandalf the White
A church that is unwilling to use the binding key has no business using the loosing key. Thus endeth the sermon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

This mess is getting a little clearer.

An Appeal for Charity with Clarity: Observations and Questions on Terms and Phrases in Need of Clarification.

The Church Is Christ's Mission to the Whole Society



Response to Mazat
Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight--
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.--Psalm 51:1-13 (NKJV)

Glory be to the Father
And to the Son
And to the Holy Ghost
As it was in the beginning
Is now and ever shall be
World without end, Amen.

For our transgressions are multiplied before You,
And our sins testify against us;
For our transgressions are with us,
And as for our iniquities, we know them:
In transgressing and lying against the LORD,
And departing from our God,
Speaking oppression and revolt,
Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands afar off;
For truth is fallen in the street,
And equity cannot enter.
So truth fails,
And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him
That there was no justice.

The Redeemer of Zion
He saw that there was no man,
And wondered that there was no intercessor;
Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,
And was clad with zeal as a cloak.
According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay,
Fury to His adversaries,
Recompense to His enemies;
The coastlands He will fully repay.
So shall they fear
The name of the LORD from the west,
And His glory from the rising of the sun;
When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.

"The Redeemer will come to Zion,
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,"
Says the LORD.--Isaiah 59:12-20 (NKJV)

that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
"In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you."
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.--2 Corinthians 5:19-6:2

1. Come to Calvary's holy mountain,
Sinners, ruined by the Fall;
Here a pure and healing fountain
Flows to you, to me, to all,
In a full, perpetual tide,
Opened when our Savior died.

2. Come in poverty and meanness,
Come defiled, without, within;
From infection and uncleanness,
From the leprosy of sin,
Wash your robes and make them white;
Ye shall walk with God in light.

3. Come in sorrow and contrition,
Wounded, impotent, and blind;
Here the guilty free remission,
Here the troubled peace, may find.
Health this fountain will restore;
He that drinks shall thirst no more.

4. He that drinks shall live forever;
Tis a soul-renewing flood.
God is faithful; God will never
Break His covenant of blood,
Signed when our Redeemer died,
Sealed when He was glorified.

Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."
At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."--Matthew 11:10-20

Behold, O faithful soul, the grief of your Lord upon the cross, His gaping wounds as He hangs there, and the awful agony of His death. That head, before which the angelic spirits bow in reverential fear, is pierced with crowded thorns; that face, beautiful above the sons of men, is defiled by the spit of the ungodly; those eyes, more luminous than the sun, darken in death; those ears, accustomed to the praises of the angelic host, are greeted with the insults and taunts sinners; that mouth, which spoke as never man spoke, and teaches the angels, is made to drink the vinegar and the gall; those feet, at whose footstool (Isaiah 66:1) the profoundest adoration is paid, are pierced with nails; those hands, which have stretched out the heavens (Isaiah 45:12) are extended upon the cross and fastened with spikes; that body, the most sacred abode and the purest habitation of the Godhead, is scourged and pierced with a spear; nor did aught in it remain uninjured His tongue, that He might pray for those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). He who rules in heaven with the Father is most shamefully abused upon the cross by sinners. God suffers; God sheds his blood (Acts 20:28). From the greatness of the price paid, judge of the greatness of your peril; and from the cost of the remedy, judge the dreadfulness of your disease. Great indeed were the wounds of sin, which could be healed only by the wounds of the living and life-giving flesh of the Son of God; desperate indeed was that disease which could be cured only by the death of the Physician Himself.

Consider, O faithful soul, the blazing wrath of God. After the fall of our first parent, the eternal, only-begotten, and well-beloved Son of God Himself became our intercessor; and yet God’s wrath was not turned away from us. He, by whom God made the worlds (Hebrews 1:2), was interceding for us, and for the sake of us miserable sinners, He, the Most High, became the Advocate of our salvation (1 John 2:1); and yet for all this was God’s wrath not turned away from us. The Savior clothes Himself in our flesh, that the divine glory being communicated in our flesh, He might make an atonement of sinful flesh, and that the healing power of perfect righteousness being communicated to our flesh, He might thus purge out the poison of sin in our flesh; and yet, despite all this, God’s wrath was not turned away from us. He takes upon Himself our sins and their just deserts; His precious body is bound, scourged, wounded, pierced, crucified, and laid in the sepulcher; His blood starts forth profusely, like the dew, from all parts of His suffering body; His most holy soul is saddened beyond measure, and became sorrowful even unto death (Matthew 26:38); He is subjected to the very pains of hell, and the Eternal Son of God cries out in horror that He is forsaken of God (Matthew 27:46). He sweats such great drop as of blood, and such anguish does He suffer as to need the comfort of angel (Luke 22:43), who Himself comforts all angels. He dies, who is the giver of life to all. If this were done in a green tree, what shall be done in a dry (Luke 23:31)? If this were done to the Just and Holy One, what shall be done to sinners? If God so punish our sins in the person of His Holy Son, how shall He punish them in us? How shall God continually tolerate in a servant, that which He punished so severely in His own Son? What shall those whom He condemns suffer, that which He punished so severely in His own Son? What shall those whom He condemns suffer, if His own Son, whom He so dearly loves, suffered so much? If Christ, who came into the world without sin, could not depart from it without the bitter scourging, of how much sorer punishment shall be deemed worthy, who are born in sin, who live in sin, and who die in sin? The servant rejoices, while for his sin the well-beloved Son is grievously afflicted. The servant treasures up against himself the wrath of the Lord, while the Son strenuously labors to soften and appease the Father’s anger. O, the infinite wrath of God! O, His unutterable indignation! O, the inconceivable rigor of divine justice! If God visits His holy indignation upon His only-begotten Son, the partaker of His own divine nature, not because of any sin of His own, but because He had taken the miserable servant’s place, what, think you, will He do to the servant, who so confidently persists in his sins and offenses? Let the servant fear and tremble and deeply sorrow at the thought of his own just deserts, since the blessed Son is so punished for no fault of his own; let the servant fear, who ceases not to sin, while the Son so agonizes for sin; let the servant fear, who has slain his Lord; let the ungodly and the sinner be afraid, who has afflicted the Holy and Righteous one. Let us hear our Savior, O my beloved, crying aloud to us; let us give heed to Him as He sheds his bitter tears for our sakes. From the cross He cries, “Behold, O sinful man, what am I suffering for you; to you I cry, because of you I am dying. Behold the punishment inflicted upon me! Behold the nails which pierce me; there is no grief like unto my grief, and yet though my outward sufferings are so great, far greater is the agony of my heart, because I am finding you so ungrateful.” Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, O You only God of mercy, and turn our stony hearts to you!--from Sacred Meditations, p. 16-20 by Johann Gerhard

Almighty and everlasting God, because you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent, create in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily repenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain for you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

For those of you who did not participate in the Shrove Tuesday service near you, here is what you missed.

Since Lent is a time of repentance, here are the Ten Commandments as interpreted today.

Finally, for those of you who cannot repent enough, you're OK. Receive this free indulgence.
For geeks everywhere (including myself), the Ships of Star Trek Quiz.

The whole ELCA seminarian who was in charge of a major part of the 2004 convention story keeps getting more fascinating. I do not blame anybody but the seminarian for the murder, and the State of Texas will take care of that issue (and, being Texas, it could be a permanent solution), and it is fascinating because it is very strange. This article is irresponsible in the sense the author does try to blame the SP and Texas DP for the murder. The other points it makes, however, are worth considering. Does true ecclesiastical supervision occur within the LCMS anymore? A case like this should make us all reevaluate the current system and what changes may or may not have to be made. In all honesty, I believe an actual enforcing of what we already supposedly have would greatly help. How many circuit counselors actually visit all the congregations every three years as prescribed? What do our DPs spend most of their time doing?

Monday, February 23, 2004

All the Fullness has moved. Not only that, I realized something: not only have a become a blog covering news about the LCMS, I am now covering the Lutheran blog scene and pointing out posts I really like (and hate). I'm slowly but surely turning into a carnival blog. Help!

Update: If you couldn't figure out where the quote, "All animals are created equal. Some are more equal than others," came from (and apparently none of you did from the overwhelming response I received), it was Animal Farm. You should have paid more attention in class than you did.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Part 2A of three parts (more like five or six now, but that's OK) is now up on the Kamikaze Watermelon. Chris does an excellent job explaining the sacrements to us. God Bless the UK!

Here's two lists showing how Democrats and Republican are approaching the election. All I have to say is, "So, what's new about that?"
I have commented before on the use of satire and sarcasm as a tool. One of the main aims of a person that uses sarcasm is that they use it in such a way that it is an edge. An edge will cause some pain, will bleed a little, but it is enough for the person to go, "Hmm," and consider what is being said. "All animals are created equal. Some are more equal than others." (A piece of cardboard with tomato sauce and fake cheese to the first person who can actually remember what book that's from.) Another, more pertinent satire,, could be, "Let's put Michael Jackson and a bunch of boys on stage and everybody will be happy." Ummm, maybe not. That's just plain wrong on my part. I am sorry for that image. Let me try this again. "A communist, monarchist, socialist, Nazi, and capitalist all congregate on a stage, hold hands, and pretend there are no differences between them." Errr, maybe. I'll have to work on this some more. Anyway, the point is you are trying to get people to think. Here lies an example of how not to do that. That post is about a subtle as a jackhammer. If your goal is to be a jackhammer, watch Full Metal Jacket about 20 more times. If you actually want to win hearts and minds, use your own brains!!!! My friend is a nitwit sometimes.

This message brought to you by the Church of Jesus H. Christ. Visit the local ward near you.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I was listening this morning to Bubba the Love Sponge on our local affiliate, and he was ranting and raving about how the FCC wanted to shut him down and how he was fined out the ass and how our First Amendment Rights were being taken away. As much ranting as raving as he did, he has no concept of what the First Amendment is and how it has been interpreted over the centuries. If I can ever find the piece from NRO (Edit: First Myths), you will see the First Amendment was not interpreted nearly as liberal as it is today. As late as the Nineteenth Century, blasphemy laws were upheld and newspapermen jailed based on the First Amendment. That sounds funny today, but it's true. However, the same people who desperately want to say "$#@&!" on the radio are also the same ones who have little to no respect for the Second Amendment, and, I would argue, the First Amendment is useless without the Second. Why? Chairman Mao had it right. "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." If that is true (and I believe there is enough history to prove it is), then protecting the Second Amendment needs to be our chief concern. Bubba, however, probably hasn't given this one iota of thought and, thus, when Bubba gets to the ballot box, he will vote for some guy who thinks porn is a good thing and guns are bad. Thus, this person will allow Bubba to spew, but us "right-wingers" will not be able to say what a joke these politicians are because, guess what, they're going to restrict speech. The restrictions, however, will not be on Bubba and company, but they will be on people like me and all the people named Chris and Josh and Erica and Ron and Tim. In the end, however, those who believe in the Second Amendment will prevail over those who don't. "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Chris Burgwald has a post up on whether the Supreme Court is Supreme. Good reading and good links.

Finally, I do want to make a small comment on something brought up last Sunday. It had to do with Luther's Small Catechism, namely, this small section in the preface.

[T]he pastor should most carefully avoid teaching the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the sacraments, etc., according to the various texts and differing forms. Let him adopt one version, stay with it, and from one year to the next keep using it unchanged. Young and inexperienced persons must be taught a single fixed form or they will become confused, and the result will be that all previous effort and labor will be lost. There should be no change, even though one may wish to improve the text--Luther's Small Catechism, p. 244, 1991, CPH.

How many times do we have to translate this until we get the point? I memorized the 1943 version (don't ask me to repeat it all right now. I can't do it.) and I still blurt out the Ten Commandments without thinking using "Thou shalt not." Do we really need a new Bible in English every 20 years or so? Do we really need a new hymnal now? Is this why there is so much division within the LCMS?
You would figure I would know about just about every Lutheran blog out there. I mean, we all run around in the same circles and drinking the same beer, so you would think I have just about every LCMS Lutheran blogger pegged. Apparently not. While browsing through the comments on Tim's blog, I run into the author of this blog: The Ruminating Lutheran. Considering his blog has been up since the 15th of this month, I will not be too hard on myself and, having read his blog, I believe he deserves a link. I'll just skip over the blessing/curse stuff. He posted on Dying to Live by Rev. Dr. Harold Senkbeil, he has good links, and I like what he's saying. This blog is highly recommended, especially since the author is a LCMS pastor. Considering how much Preacherman has posted recently, you might want to pay attention.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

I was going to post my thoughts on icons, but I realized I didn't really have anything bad to say about them. I think, like any other picture or depiction of religious figures, they can be used improperly, but I also think they are wonderful pieces of art that have a definite apologetic appeal to them. If a person wants to use icons, fine. I'm just waiting for the icon or crucifix that portrays Christ as he really was on the cross: naked with ribs exposed and skin covered in blood. Violent? Yes. Truthful? Very much so.

Note: Edited because I kant spel
I was going to comment on a lot of things, like icon, art and stuff like that, then I stumble across this piece of news. Remember my post on the ELCA seminarian serving as music director for the 2004 convention? He might no be able to fulfill his duties being that he has been arrested for the murder and arson of a 61 year old woman. (Original article can be found here). I would not blame you if you react the same way I reacted when I first read this. I said something to the extent of "Holy Fucking Shit!!!" It was already bad enough he is looking to be ordained by a heterodox church body, but this has to take the cake. Hopefully, our SP has enough sense not to let Mr. Henstenberg continue in his position. If he doesn't, if you thought what I had to say was already bad, it would be just the tip of the iceberg, and, in this case, it would be well deserved. Josh dislikes him enough that a crack on him somehow worked its way into a rant over icons. Icons and synodical presidents. Yeah, I get that.

I was going to engage in more reporting about Thomas, but I decided to comment on Josh and this. He spent six bucks to talk to her. Everyone made comments to the effect of "Go for it!" If I was lucky enough to be contacted by such a lovely example of the opposite sex, I would spend six bucks too. It is quite unfortunate, however, that the word "Lutheran" does not guarantee much in a world where the E*CA exists. Yes, she is E*CA. Yes, even worse, she want to be a priestess. If there were only more Renee Zellweger look-alikes with red hair in the LCMS. Like that would guarantee anything.

Oh, and in case you didn't read the comments, Thomas said, "[N]o matter where I end up, I'll fight to the death for the fundamental truth of Sacred Sperm and Wafer Thin Mints! On that I cannot disagree.

I am preparing a long post for Ash Wednesday. I'm about halfway through typing it out, and I will probably be finished with it by tomorrow. As with every Lent, I am giving up stuff that will truly make me suffer. If you cannot figure out what that might be, it's because I have spent way too much time discussing Thomas and not enough time discussing boiling points and copper kettles and yeast. I'll let you hop about and figure it out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Thomas may not be going to Rome. Details at eleven. Actually, I know how Thomas is feeling. I went through my own struggle with where I needed to be, but, unlike him, I didn't tell anyone except my friend Ryan from the internet. I pray Thomas works it out. Thank God that, at least, he still drinks dark beer.

Rev. John Tietjen, Heart of Lutheran Unity and Controversy, Dies.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The saga of Thomas does not end. He has started a new blog. I'm glad because I think he still has much to say, even if he's on the other side of the Tiber.

Monday, February 16, 2004

More sad news. Not only is Thomas crossing the Tiber, he's also dismantling his blog. I'm going to miss his site. It was a place where you knew you could go and almost always read something interesting. I've linked to his site numerous times because the material presented there was well worth reading. I wish God's blessings upon him wherever he goes from here.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

It is a sad day. Thomas has decided to cross the Tiber. As the son of a man who crossed the Tiber to get to Wittenburg, I find this not only disconcerting but also confusing. I could actually understand if Thomas went to Constantinople but not Rome. Anyway, I'm moving his link to the appropriate spot now.

Update: I thought some of you might like this news: ELCA seminarian chosen to serve as music director for Pre-Synodical Convention Pentecost 2000 + & "Ablaze" events.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

I've been goofing around a lot recently, and it has been fun. I admit, I enjoy it about as much as the next guy. Who doesn't mind letting loose for a while and trying to be goofy. That's a major part of my personality, and I am not ashamed to admit it or even link to it. The main purpose of this site, however, has always been to monitor and give commentary on the situation in the LCMS. News has occurred, but I haven't been reporting it, mainly because I have been distracted. Here's my feeble attempt to catch up on what has been happening.

President Kieschnick issued a memo on January 22 on what has happened in the synod recently. You can find commentaries on this memo here, here, here, here, and here. I shouldn't have to give any commentary after reading all of that commentary (which I have).

Anyway, if you want to see all the other depressing news, check out Concord's new section, Concord's opinion section, and Synod in convention to see everything that I've missed, including another response to Jesus First.

Talk about information overload.
Somehow, I posted a link giving everyone free acess to post on my blog by accident. That's what I get for not paying attention. Anyway, I finally have Mr. Halverson's link up where it should be and no one can go posting away on my blog. Homer Simpson would be proud. Dohhhhh!!!
Long ago (January 12th, to be exact), I made the hypothesis (I called it a theory, but I was wrong) that says the darker the beer, the more confessional the Lutheran. I have refined that hypothesis to this: confessionalism is determined by the darkest beer one drinks with any regular basis. I have even been classifying beers after reading paper with names like Review of Carbonate Sand-Belt Deposition of Ooid Grainstones and Application to Mississippian Reservoir, Damme Field, Southwestern Kansas. I am still refining my classification scheme, but it should be ready for release soon. I have separated the American macrobrews from the microbrews from the imports. I have one observation. If all you drink is macrobrews, you are in trouble theologically.

Chris Halverson is still calling my blog his Bizzaro World. I honestly consider that a compliment. I still hold that if our blogs intersected each other in cyberspace, they would annihilate each other. Even though I disagree with him a lot, I'm still linking to him. As with anyone else who gets a link, it can be either a blessing or a curse. Considering the day I'm linking to him, who knows. To quote Josh, he needs comments and links. This is part of my continuing project to link to people named Chris with blogs.

Chris Williams has Part Two of his story up. If you didn't bother reading part one, you should.

I welcome all the new traffic I'm getting from my new friends at the Old Lutheran Table Talk Forum. Make sure to stop by some of my friends in the links, and welcome to the insanity that is my blog!

Friday, February 13, 2004

I forgot to mention this last night. Dave made a post on the 11th describing his view of homosexuality. He took flack from another blogger who is very angry at Dave for saying such horrible, politically-incorrect things like homosexuality is bad. I am with you, Dave. I liked his use of sarcam, but he never did get around to actually engaging the moral arguments Dave made. Rather he just dismissed them. To use tennis terminology, game, set, match.
The International Criminal Court has been a topic of much concern recently in many different circles, here is on of the better criticisms I have seen of the court. In essence, Mr. Rosenthal argues the ICC undermines the authority of the UN and will probably cause more problems than it solves.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

My friend Ron the Terrible Swede came out of his hole for a bit, rummaged around, saw his shadow, knew that there would be six more weeks of winter so he went back inside. Anyway, I'm not saying anything that I haven't told him already, like waiting for more information after twelve years is dumb (and, thus, French) and getting more countries is ridiculous when you already have a coalition bigger that the first one. Yes, Ron listens to way too much National People's, err, Public Radio. As to the rest of it, the only thing I can say is remind my dear friend that Honda was producing the same horsepower with better gas mileage than Toyota in the Indy Racing League. Serves them right for making my car flea-powered.

In case you haven't heard it, Dean and Gore make me want to Shout!.

I am adding (or, in one case, have added and didn't mention) a few new links. The first is The Lutheran Confessions. It is an interesting site with a perspective from "the dark side" (ELCA). I've been reading them at least as long as I have been reading Josh, and they make some very good and an occasional controversial point. It's well worth you time to drop by there. The second site hides under the "unclassified" section of Josh's blog, but me, being a geologist and believing I can classify just about anything, have the perfect classification for this blog: Other. Yes, I'm talking about The Boar's Head Tavern, a place where you can see Christians of all stripes try to outthink (and out drink) each other, when they feel like it. Otherwise, they just discuss topics. The final link in this trilogy (mirroring the trinity) is a site any blogger claiming to be Lutheran should have on his or her links list, but since none of us do, I'll blaze the trail. Yes, that site is Old Lutheran. Read a "You might be a Lutheran..." joke, get a new recipe using Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, and but you pastor a Martin Luther bobble head doll (or a clerical cap). Cheesy? You bet. I still love the place, however, so go get your "Sin Boldly" t-shirt before summer arrives. You'll be the talk of the church!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

While I decided to let things rest this weekend, I pondered an interesting question asked by my pastor. As I ponder this question, the more confident I am in one of the judgments I made.

If you weren't looking, Chris posted the first part of his long road to Lutheranism. While I'm linking to other sites, Josh has a post on Monastic vows. Good stuff.

That's all for now. I need to go to bed so I can get up bright and early tomorrow.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

How come it seems that all my friends are now getting their own blogs and spouting forth (alright, not like I don't spout off). I started it as a way to just unleash my thoughts about life, the universe, and everything upon the world at large. Whether or not anybody actually cared about what I was saying was moot. The act of blogging is cleansing. Strange, isn't it? Then Terrible Swede started a blog which he updates about as much as I work on my thesis. I think he started it because he was sick of me calling him a frenchman. Tim started up after having forgotten about my blog for a while. He was too busy running his own site (an inside joke). Now, we have the newest entry. Terrible Swede's wife Copied Edit aka Erica is now blogging. My little foray into blogging has created a monster.

And it's all Josh's fault.

This is for Tim.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

My friend Tim posted on trust yesterday. He asked:

If Jesus entrusted the keys of the kingdom to Peter (a fallible human being), why can't some of the "confessional" Lutherans within the LCMS trust other pastors to proclaim the Word of God and administer the sacraments as they see fit (with the help of their board of elders).

First, because we are fallible, that is the reason we criticize and raise our voices when something is going wrong. Unless we have lost any sense of church discipline, we are bound to correct each other because to not do so would be unloving. Trust has nothing to do with it. It's all about love.

That brings me to the second point. If "trust" is such an important issue and the other side actually wants to earn our trust, this is a very funny way to go about it. This is the second time Jesus First seems to have problems with the history of the synod. Both times, the sainted Robert Preus was in the crossfire, and both times, Rolf Preus has had to speak up to correct the false accusations made by Jesus First. The first defense and the second defense. This is getting ridiculous. The fact that a son has to keep defending his father who has been with the Church Triumphant (I have no reason to believe he's not there) shows what straws Jesus First is grasping at. Not only that, the author shows he has no clue as to what the Evangelical Lutheran Synod actually teaches. From the website What We Believe, Teach, and Confess:


We confess that Scripture requires that church fellowship be recognized and practiced where there is a mutual confession of and commitment to the pure Marks of the Church, the Word and Sacraments. Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church, and He governs and teaches it by His Word, but deviation from the teaching of God's Word is not to be tolerated in the church. We therefore reject unionism, that is, church fellowship with adherents of false doctrine, and ecumenical endeavors which compromise the pure doctrine of God's Word. We also reject participation or membership in religious organizations which have features that are in conflict with the Christian faith, such as the Masonic Lodge and similar organizations. At the same time we also condemn separatism, i.e., the refusal to acknowledge and practice fellowship when there is agreement in doctrine. See John 8:31-32, 1 Cor. 1:10, Eph. 2:19-20, Matt. 7:15-20, Rom. 16:17, Gal. 1:6-9, 2 John 9-11, Matt. 23:8, 1 Pet. 4:11, 2 Cor. 6:14-18.

How is this different from what the Missouri Synod traditionally taught? It's not. If you examine this CTCR document, there's no difference.

I find Jesus cannot help but try to connect Dr. Robert Preus to every form of "dubious confessionalism" to the point where it is starting to sound like those people who think black helicopters means the coming of the one world government. Of course, you can believe whatever you wish. You could either believe a man from Fairway, Kansas who probably never met either Dr. Preus or you could believe Robert Preus' son. I'll take the latter, and let Jesus First hang itself.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

NFL Releases Design for Official Superbowl XXXVIII Ring--Just not the ring you might be thinking of.

If you thought Janet Jackson was bad, take a look at this.

Speaking of more Super Bowl news, Liquor law's role in postgame riots is hotly debated.

Get the heavy coat and get ready for the new ice age.

And finally, Superintendent calls Hooters inappropriate for high school student's work study.

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

I made a vow when I was younger I would never go east of the Mississippi. So much for that. Anyway, I still have to hit Oregon, Montana, and Hawaii before I visit everywhere I want to go to. Everything else after that will be places I really could care less. I love the west.
One of the major problems of being random is that I sometimes move on to other topics which I have in my head before fully covering a given topic. For instance, I mentioned Candlemas without mentioning Guillaume de Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame. That's the equivalent of discussing the history of beer without mentioning Budweiser or Coors or MGD. Anyway, I mention this for a couple of reasons. First, Machaut's mass is the earliest polyphonic mass we know of, so it is extremely important in the history of Western music in general and sacred music in particular. Second, this mass was written to be used on the four Marian feast days (Nativity of the Virgin (Sept. 8), Purification a.k.a. Candlemas (Feb. 2), Annunciation (March 25), and Assumption (Aug. 15)). On the specific recording I have, the propers are for the Candlemas. Finally, I need to mention it because it is a gorgeous piece of music. Polyphonic chant is one of the most beautiful things one can listen to while meditating, reading, praying, etc. The music is extremely relaxing, and it contains that aura of transcendence that communicates the loving, great, powerful God we believe in. I own the Harmoni Mundi recording of the mass, which can be quite disconcerting the first time you listen to it. I am sure has many different recordings of this masterpiece. Check it out if you want to hear something simple, yet complicated.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

If you didn't look at Karl's site, you missed this link on the Presentation. If anything, it's worth to just to see what Via Affirmata looks like.

People who have read this blog might be saying, "He's all over the place. One moment he's posting readings for a feast, and the next post he's declaring BBC lied. What gives?"

Notice the first two words in the title: Random Thoughts. I can go from celebrating feasts to decrying the Super Bowl halftime show without a second thought. I don't even try to connect and weave my thoughts because they just pop up. I just rant, discuss, or make fun of whatever pops up in my mind at the moment. That, I believe, is what makes my blog so interesting: you never know what I will post on next. I do have my pet topics, but even those can be overtaken by stories like German Beer Consumption Is Falling. (Thanks to Davids Medienkritik via InstaPundit). That is depressing.

I also need to mention the deck of the most dangerous bloggers. It rocks.

Monday, February 02, 2004

The BBC Lied, Dr. Kelly Died
Today is my brother's birthday/Groundhog Day/Candlemas/Presentation of our Lord. How about that for a holiday.

Psalm 86

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!

My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

1 Samuel 1:21-28

The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever." Elkanah her husband said to her, "Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the LORD establish his word." So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, "Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD."And he worshiped the LORD there.

Hebrews 2:14-18

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Luke 2:22-40

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel."
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

Almighty and ever-lasting God, grant that as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our human flesh, so by him we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

WHAT A GAME!!! This Superbowl outdid the hype. Carolina played extremely well against the Patriots even though they lost. I tip my hat to the Pats, and especially Rodney Harrison, who finally earned his ring. Well done.
An extremely important news story everyone needs to know about.

Update: U.S. troops in Iraq will watch Super Bowl on movie theater-sized screen in Saddam Hussein's palace, complete with chicken wings, hot dogs, and hamburgers.
Allah is in the house and is as rude as ever. Read the cartoons (yes, click on the "This Jew Wishes to Continue" lines. I almost fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard. That, and giving myself cramps with this. (stomach cramps, mind you)