Wednesday, August 31, 2005

As you all now know by now, New Orleans is mostly flooded and is turning into a demented version of Mad Max and I'm sure you've heard on the television and radio about how high the damage estimates are going to be. What I am about to say will be about as popular as a swarm of bees, but the geology and geomorphology must lead me to this conclusion. I don't think we should bother rebuilding New Orleans.

Yes, I said it. We shouldn't bother rebuilding it. When the city was founded in the 1700s by the French, they decided in their infinite wisdom to build on one of the most active deltas in the world. What does this mean? It means that the city will slowly sink. And it is. You see, when a sediment is deposited, whether it be silt, sand or mud, it isn't deposited in a very compact form. There's a lot of space between the grain, what geologists call porosity. As more sediment is piled on the existing sediment, the weight forces the rocks beneath it to slowly subside. As more sediment is deposited, the sediment beneath begins to compact and this add to the subsidence. Essentially, these two processes have depressed the city from its original above sea level position to below sea level. The fact that New Orleans is below sea level means that man has to intervene to stop nature by building levees to keep the water out. Having been to New Orleans 3 times, you walk up to the river. This is not way things should be. Depressions in a delta get filled. The levee broke and nature took over. It is currently depositing whatever solids are floating in the water all over the city. If we had let the depositional environment develop rather than halting it by levies, the city probably wouldn't exist in it's present form, but it wouldn't have flooded.

We spend millions of dollars operating the pumps that keep the city from drowning when it doesn't rain. We spend millions building and maintaining levies. All of this money is spent to fight a losing battle against the delta. This isn't exactly a smart use of resources. We could rebuild the city, but occurrences like this will become more common, as the city sinks further below sea level. If we are smart, we should consider New Orleans a lost cause and help the refugees settle somewhere else. We are going to be spending 50 billion plus on this storm and cleanup. How much will the next time be? I know this goes against everything our country believes in, but we should consider other options besides rebuilding the city. It might save us lives and money.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Saturday, August 27, 2005

While some may complain that my analogy between the church door Luther nailed his these to and a blog are not quite the same, but the same temptations can affect such a person. These temptations can affect those who write for a living, like people who write for magazines, people who write books, and people who write music. The temptation always hangs over us who blog. All of us can descend into a narcissistic self-love, patting ourselves on the back and saying how wonderful our writing is. And, of course, we can wallow in the love and accolades others give to us and tell ourselves how wonderful we are. Same difference.

With all of this, with our sinful nature getting in the way, we still manage to live in our vocation. By the grace of God, a bunch of sinners, stumbling, falling all over ourselves, and screwing things up along the way, manage to live our vocations. The world manages to continue to work. Imagine that. God works in spite of our sinfulness.

Anyway, I'm done talking about this. If you would like to submit a link to the Lutheran Carnival, go ahead and submit it to lutherancarnival AT gmail DOT com. If you don't want to because you think it's a temptation, no one is saying you must.

There is the Gospel and there is the promotion of self. The two are antithetical. They are opposites. The Law is all about what I do. The Gospel is what Christ did and does for me.

I'm just going to assume that the pastor just became confused about the differences between the theology of glory & the theology of the cross and law & gospel.

Extra Thought: I find it ironic many of the people who complain about pride are all listed on the Lutheran Blog Directory. Just a thought.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The latest article from The Scheister is now up. Preliminary descriptions include "Vile", "Very funny," and "Not vile enough." I think this is the most biting satire I have ever written.
I want to remind everyone to send your links for the Lutheran Carnival to lutherancarnival AT gmail DOT com. If you need a reminder as to what format to submit your link in, go to How do I enter?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I hate it when you bite your tongue because you think it's the best course of action and let those with cooler heads fight your battles for you. Of course, when that doesn't work and the person in question responds with sarcasm, the weapon of choice on this blog is satire. In other words, look for the newest edition of The Scheister to emerge tomorrow. I'm sure Samuel Simon Schmucker can dig into the arguments and find some weaknesses.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Lutheran Carnival II: Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, Kyrie Eleison

Jakob Andreae

This is Jakob Andreae, another forgotten man in the history of Lutheranism, but a very important one. He was a contemporary of Chemnitz and an extremely important contributer to what became the Formula ofo Concord. You can read about him here. Thus, this carnival is in honor of another faithful servant of whom too few people know.

In case you are wondering what the theme for this carnival might be, look no further than the first word in the blog: random. I assigned all the emails I received a number based on when I received your email. Then, I wrote all the numbers on small pieces of paper and began pulling them out of a hat. Silly? Absolutely. Unnecessary? You bet. Keeping with this blog? Absolutely.

First up is Rev. Todd Peperkorn of The Lutheran Logomaniac who submitted the post Table Manners at the Lord's Altar. How should children (and their parents) behave at the Lord's Altar? This little article is a catechism for what to do, where, how and why it is important. It confesses Christ's presence in His Supper, and what this means for how we treat it.

The second post is by Stan Lemon at Confession of a Young Lutheran. His post The Dormition of Mary, the Mother of Our Lord is a meditation on the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It contemplates her role as an icon of the church and the deep incarnational significance of Christ dwelling within her womb. This post raised quite a bit of controversy (and not just on his blog). He also posted More on Mary, which clarifies on a particular phrase he wrote, "He gives us Himself in Mary, in the Word, in bread and wine, and in Water." His response clarifies what was meant by this statement and further explains the incarnational nature of our Lord and what it means for Him to take on our flesh.

Pr. Walter Snyder at Ask the Pastor gives us a post called Structure for Daily Prayer. Responding to a questioner's wandering mind, Pastor Snyder offers advice for keeping one's prayer life focused, full, and vital.

Jonathan of Jonathan's Christian Weekly gives us Ouija Boards. This is about the ouija board, a somewhat popular children's game which involves the apparent presence of a spirit communicating with the "players". A discussion with Biblical references follows. Just so you know, I have questions about one or two things he says.

Rachel at The Moose Report gives us a post called The time has come to post on Blended Worship. This post discusses the important points of a presentation at the WELS Worship Conference on blended worship given by Rev. James Tiefel, professor of Worship and Homiletics at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon.

Charles Lehman (AKA Chaz) of Drowning Myself Whenever I Can has a post called Christ fills the Old Testament. It is a brief essay attacking antiseptic Christless Old Testament interpretation and illustrating Christological interpretation of the Old Testament using the concept of seed.

An old friend from other places on the internet, Seminarian Ryan Fouts, and his blog Little Loci discusses the Theology of the Cross -- About Christian or the Christ? Luther's "Theology of the Cross" is one of the most misunderstood teachings of Lutheranism. Is the "Theology of the Cross" about our suffering, a therapeutic insight to "get us through" daily life's trials? No! It's all about Christ's self-revelation for us: it all goes through the cross!

Peterson of Cyberstones submits a post on The Golden Age of Missouri: Not Granpa's. He considers the current strength of the LCMS in light of her history and finds it better today than ever before.

I posted on the question What Exactly is a Confessional Lutheran? I did more rambling than answering the question, but I think it turned out OK.

Kelly of Kelly's Blog graces us with the post Garnet, for Evelyn. After winning first prize in the local exhibition with a poem she wrote some time ago, Kelly shares it with the blogsphere.

Bob Waters has a blog post so large, he built a whole new blog for it. His post called God Bless You is a response to a post from a week ago by Melancthon on What is Lutheranism.

Karl of Full Throttle & an Empty Gas Tank gives us a post on Lutheran Reading, Where he talks about what he's been reading and his initial thoughts about the new Book of Concord.

David of David Creates with Legos; God with Logos wants to see how far a simple question will go on the Carnival.

Pastor Klages of A Beggar At The Table gives us a post on Cerinthus
. He cracks open his e-copy of the Ante-Nicene Fathers to dig up the dirt on one of the earliest, yet littlest known, heretics.

Dan at Necessary Roughness writes Of Churches and PowerPoint. Some Confessional Lutherans are turned off by the use of PowerPoint as a rule. PowerPoint is just another visual aid, and done correctly, can be used to enhance services. Most people who use PowerPoint in worship services can benefit from pointers learned in delivering effective business presentations.

Pastor Mark Hasty at Coram Deo submits the post Division by Zero. It is an examination of the confessional concept that the preaching of repentance is a proclamation of the Gospel, NOT of the law.

Tim at Balaam's Ass talks about Wholesome Irrelevance. There is no room for conservative, liturgical, traditional Christians in the usual categories of American Protestantism (i.e., Fundamentalism and Liberalism). So where do we fit? Is the "otherworldliness" of confessional Lutheranism irrelevant in our modern world? And is that wholly a bad thing? Or are we, as D.G. Hart says, "wholesome[ly] irrelevan[t]"?

Greg Alms of Incarnatus Est has a post on The Three Births of Christians. The three births of Christians (birth, baptism and death) all show forth clearly the gift character of life as a child of God. God gives us birth; all is by grace.

Elle (a very cute lady, if I might say) of Intolerant Elle posts on her new Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord. Elle weighs in on her new copy of A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord.

Orycteropus of Aardvark Alley asks the question Luther Bigger than Oprah? A bit of Lutheran trivia moves Orycteropus to the throes of excursus on the influence Martin Luther had on the publishing world of his time.

Finally, Kathy of Kathy's Small Group Discussion Topics has The Story of the Two Swords. Kathy leads small group discussions for inmates at a county prison as a volunteer for Yokefellow Prison Ministry. This post is a story she uses to help the men think about having faith to the point of taking action and suffering for the belief.

That's it for now. The next Carnival will be hosted by IntolerantElle. On September 3, Aardvark Alley hosts, and on September 10, Necessary Roughness gets a chance to host. Beyond that, we are still looking for volunteers to host. If you would like to, you can email me at daniel DOT sellers AT gmail DOT com. The schedule will be updated at Lutheran Carnival. You can always find who is hosting on a particular week there.

Jakob Andreae,a different drawing

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Lutheran Carnival is on schedule to be published tomorrow afternoon. I worked on it some very early this morning and finished it this afternoon. I only have a little touching up to do before unleashing it upon you all. You cannot believe how much work it takes to put this together. It takes even more work when people don't submit things in the proper format.

Just so you know, the Bible-Believing Liberals article is now posted in all its glory on Cyberbretheren. Go look and see what all the fuss was about. You might also check out this post on Midwest Conservative Journal.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Karl asks a question that I have been pondering mightily for a while: What exactly is a "Confessional Lutheran?" Now, why would a guy with the words confessional Lutheran be doing pondering what it means? When you see the state of Lutheranism in America, it is tough not to wonder about such questions.

Now, what is a confessional Lutheran? The answer is very simple. It is someone who makes a quia subscription to the Lutheran Confessions. Simple, right? Not so fast, my friend. A person may be confessional, but the person doesn't exist in a bubble. A person may be confessional but exist in a church or congregation that isn't. As a matter of fact, this is probably unavoidable. We are stuck in communities of sinners. Sinners have a tendency to compromise principles and just forget what God has called us to uphold. I myself am as guilty as anyone of this. In this sense, we have to trust in the grace of Christ, He who died for sinners. We have to trust our pastors to catechise those who confess with their lips and not their hearts. We have to trust the law will condemn their sin and the salve of the gospel to soothe their broken spirits.

But what happens when we lose our trust in our pastors because they themselves are not keeping their vow? I don't know if you know this, but pastors vow to remain faithful to and hold true the contents of the BoC. There are many pastors who ignore, forget, or stomp on this vow. Can a layman correct a pastor? Yes, especially if his fellow brothers will not do so. One of the more interesting scenes in the book Hammer of God is an elderly lady correcting her pastor in private. If he doesn't listen, however, what then?

You see, saying you are a confessional Lutheran is one thing, but being a confessional Lutheran is something completely different. It's a tough calling, but one we should embrace. There is nothing greater in this world than being embraced by God. There is nothing harder in this crazy world than living in that embrace.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

In case you see the word "Scotch" and then want to flee because you know nothing, take a quick look here and see it's not quite so bad. Scotch is for Lutherans.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

What's going on in the ELCA?

I recieved this email through CAT41.
Lutheran Blog Carnival I: The Incarnation is now up and ready to be perused by all who wish. If you didn't submit a link for the first carnival, there's plenty of time to submit a new link to the second carnival. Send the link to daniel DOT sellers AT gmail DOT com.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Where Relevance Leads

Now, for those of us in the LCMS, we've been worried and complaining about the possibility of allowing two people with penises or vaginas to be blessed in their sexual relationship, be ordained, and just be happy rainbow-wearing people. While we were busy praying that God would kill this silliness which is already occurring and probably cannot be stopped, the heterodox synod decided to shed all orthodoxy and become a pagan cult. If you talked to people within the ELCA who are worried, the issue of the new hymnal was equally a problem if not more of a problem than the homosexuality issue. Most of us were so worried about the Sixth Commandment that we didn't see they were going to trample on the first. Soon, they will worship not by invoking the name of the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," by using the name "Holy Eternal Majesty, Holy Incarnate Word, Holy Abiding Spirit." Hey, we can't keep using the Patristic language of our those who came before us because we have to be relevant to today's culture. We need to take those within our own synod by the collar, give them a good shake, point to the ELCA, and say that this is where relevance leads. Rick Warren is about 50 years behind. If we are not careful, in our quest to be relevant, we will be relevant and pagan, just like the ELCA.

edit: HT Watersblog

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I had intended to write about this sooner, but I'm lazy so I'm writing this now.

Maybe I shouldn't call this what I like and dislike about the WELS service as much as what I am not used to. OK, maybe I could categorize things into these things: things that were good about the service, things that bugged me but I could live with, and things that really annoyed me.

First, there were many excellent and good things about the two churches I have attended with Elle. First, both pastors I heard preached understood the distinction of law and gospel very well. This should be self-explanatory. Secondly, the services are well-ordered. A form of the liturgy is used throughout most WELS churches. The page 26 liturgy in their hymnal Christian Worship was what I had the chance to experience at both services. I have more to say on this later. Thirdly, The churches were friendly. Contrary to the popular belief that may float around the internet, both churches (and especially the church here in Wichita) were very friendly and very happy that I was there as a visitor. Both pastors were very friendly, and I have no complaints there. Pastor Rockhoff spent a lot of time after the service answering my friend's questions and just conversing with us. Fourthly, the hymns that I sung were the same hymns that I normally sing, so there was an air of familiarity to the service. Also, I did appreciate at both churches the pastor handled the consecrated elements exclusively. I also liked some of the language used in the Nicene Creed. The "We believe," accurately translating the Greek the creed was originally written. I'll talk a little more about the creed later.

This next discussion has more to do with things that bother me more than anything. Understand, much of this has to do with me growing up in the LCMS. In a way, seeing a WELS service is like being in a parallel universe. Much of what you are used to is the same, but some of it just doesn't quite seem right. I'm used to pastors wearing collars. If they hadn't come up and introduced themselves, I'm not sure I would have known who they were until they robed. Also, their robe was more like a preaching robe rather than the more traditional alb. One pastor wore a stole, and one pastor had a stole that looked like it was sewn into his robe. You get this sense that the pietism that the synod started with just hasn't quite been driven out. As was mentioned in the WELS Q&A, their robes looked more like choir robes than something a pastor would wear.

I must, however, take issue with the hymnal, Christian Worship. The Service of Word and Sacrament (page 26, if I remember correctly) claims to have a basis in the ancient liturgy. Now, I don't claim in any way to be a liturgy expert, but the wording of some parts of the service didn't seem to have basis in much of anything. It was almost like, "Well, this sounds funny so let's rewrite it." The Proper Preface is replaced by something that just isn't quite as powerfully written, to be honest. No "It is truly, good, right, and salutary...." No "...with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven...." They also changed the wording on a few other things. The Kyrie sounded funny to me. They use a longer Kyrie, similar to Divine Service 2 in LW. The most egregious example is the gender neutral language used in the Nicene Creed. Christ suddenly becomes a human rather than a man, and they eliminated the word "men" in the phrase "for us men." One of the consequences of this is that it eliminates the fact that Jesus is a man. Yes, this seems to be pounding on the obvious, but it's little things like this that can lead to all sorts of problems down the road. WELS should reinsert that phrasology back into the creed.

Overall, it was interesting. It was like being in someplace familiar, but with a few things not quite right. I'm sure Elle would say much the same about her experience in my home congregation. I think both of us consider our visits overall positive. I now know what a WELS church is like, kind of. I don't think I can judge a whole synod in two visits, but apparently I can judge a hymnal in that short time.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Thank you to everyone who has linked to or commented on The Lutheran Carnival. If you haven't linked there yet, why not? You should, because this thing could flame out any second now, so link to it while you can!

Actually this post is a plea of sorts. If you are thinking about submitting a post, please do so ASAP and don't wait until the absolute last minute.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I thought about doing this for a while, but now I'm finally taking the step. I started up something new called The Lutheran Carnival. If you don't know what a Carnival of blogs is, check it out. The first carnival will be hosted on that site a week from Sunday, and your links need to be in to me by a week from today. I really hope this thing takes off and it becomes a weekly spending of Confessional Lutheran thought on the blogsphere. I don't like comment spam, so I'm not going to resort to that to publicize this blog, but please participate and whore it on your blogs.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Chris Jones is finally posting on a more regular basis. When he was posting regularly, it was one of the best blogs on the internet. He's still one of the smartest guys on the internet. His background gives him a perspective I cannot even imagine.

If you want to do something good, go bother the Terrible Swede and tell him to put his Star Wars books down and go read Hammer of God like he's supposed to.

Go check out Lutheran Jargon, especially the pictures of Minister2b and our SP. He's the fourth Alaskan blogger I know (and the only one who attends and LCMS church) while I know a whole whopping two bloggers from Kansas.

Maybe I am hypervenalating, but I still find "divine calls" without congregations difficult to swallow. After thinking about it, if I were the SP and a board called one of my avowed enemies, I would probably do what Kieschnick did.

As to the calling of missionaries, we could have churches here call them and send people out to the mission field. This would have the wonderful consequence of not having our missionaries taught how to prayerwalk by our Board of Missions. Have I ever mentioned I think our Board of Missions has a lot to be desired?

Monday, August 01, 2005

There is such a thing as an immediate call because an immediate call comes right from God, that is, God comes down and says, "Hey! You!. Yeah, you right there! I've got some work for you." That, my friends, is an immediate call.