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Showing posts from January, 2005

The Iraqi people's answer

Cartoon courtesy Cox and Forkum http://www.coxandforkum.com

On the wagging of dogs

This morning I came across a Defense Department memo on the Iraqi election (issued before the fact), posted by an apparent Democrat on a bulletin board at work. A note compared the memo to the spin in the movie Wag the Dog.

Personally, I didn't see his point; the memo was admittedly about "spin," but in most essentials it was hard to characterize as other than strictly factual. Now, the media's coverage of the Iraqi election is another matter. Many dogs have been, and are being, well and truly wagged there.

Arthur Chenreknoff- quoted by Rob, at Beggars All- makes the point quite well. Somehow, it seems that the media missed the whole point of the Iraqi election- and of the failed attempt by the Islamofascists to prevent or even seriously impede it.

Scrappleface has the headline exactly right:Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings.

The danger of lacking doctrinal purity

Hapax Legomena has a post putting forth what, in my view, is one of the most destructive- if common- notions of the day among Christians: the idea that a concern for doctrinal purity can be "dangerous," or that to insist upon it is somehow to be deficient in charity.

In fairness, the post comes out in favor of a concern for doctrine. What I quarrel with is its suggestion that breaking fellowship or otherwise reacting negatively to persistent false teaching after reasonable attempts have been made to resolve the issue is a bad idea.

First,"doctrine" is literally nothing but a synonym for "teaching." Jesus said that we're His disciples if we continue in His Word, not if we're all warm and fuzzy and make nice-nice!

Just how much of what Scripture teaches is unimportant enough not to worry about, anyway? Do you want to be the one to tell God that this or that in what He says in His Word is unimportant?

Confessional Lutheranism is one of the few Christian …

So long, Sammy

Mike Downey of the Chicago Tribune does a nice job of summing up my thoughts on the apparently imminent departure of Sammy Sosa- one of the game's biggest stars only a couple of years ago- from my Cubs to my American League team, the Baltimore Orioles, for infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston, Jr. and a couple of minor leaguers.

Sammy had to go. He had become a distraction, a clubhouse cancer. His skills are fast deterriorating, and on balance he had become a liability rather than an asset on a team with World Series ambitions. His incredible decision to go home without permission near the start of the Cubs' last game of the season was icing on the cake. He leaves in his wake countless fans both grateful for the thrills, and saddened and hurt by their hero's pattern of childish, self-centered behavior.

In exchange, the Cubs will apparently at least get the lead-off hitter they so badly need. They have plenty of power in their lineup, what with Aramis Ramirez,Corey Patterson,

No bovine flatulance on Titan

While the Cassini/Huygens probe has established that Saturn's mysterious moon Titan has all the ingredients necessary for life, scientists have ruled out the possibility that its rich stores of methane are the result of...well, somebody (or something's) digestive processes.

They also rule out any connection with the recently-concluded Presidential campaign here on Earth.

Scripture interprets Scripture

Be Strong in the Grace has an excellent post, in this age of weird scripture-twisting by far-our fanatics, on Luther's principles of biblical interpretation, to which at least confessional Lutherans continue to subscribe today:

1. The Bible in its entirety is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. The Scriptures are to be used to interpret Scripture. The Holy Spirit is the true interpreter of the Bible. The Holy Scriptures are profitable "for teaching, for refutation, for correction adn for training in righteousness." The Bible is the supreme and final authority in all theological matters.

2. The entire Bible is christocentric. The Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. Christ is the center of the Bible and of all interpretation. The centrality of justification by faith is the chief article of biblical revelation. In the Holy Scriptures, God speaks a word of Law and a word of Gospel.

3. The Bible comes to us in human speech, so the laws of human speech (grammar, synt…

Wictory Wednesday, January 26, 2005

We stood in bed

Well, my wife and I got smart and didn't stand out there in the cold to watch President Bush take the oath for his second term. Both of us had the beginnings of chest colds, and we stayed in bed for the day rather than aggravate them.

Nevertheless, thanks to the office of Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Ia), my congressman from back in Des Moines, for providing us with excellent tickets. I didn't mention my party affiliation, of course, but they must have guessed from the very fact that I made the request- and they handled my request with admirable courtesy, professionalism and tact.

As the date approaches for my move back to Des Moines, I'll miss the excitement of the Nation's Capital- as well as a wonderful congregation, Immanuel Lutheran Church of Alexandria, Virginia. The congregation is orthodox, erudite, liturgically and theologically sophisticated, and properly appreciative of their top-drawer young pastor, the Rev. Christopher Esget.

But I have to admit missing the Midw…

He may be a coward, a sneak, and a maniac, but at least he's honest.

Mighty Islamic warrior Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose bravery consists of slicing the heads off innocent people whose hands are tied behind their backs, has finally confirmed what I've said here all along: that he and his ilk simply don't want the people of Iraq to have the chance to determine their own destiny, and that denying them that right is the cause for which they're fighting.

Osama's cowardly and insane disciple has declared a "fierce war" on the "wrong" principle of democracy.

Horns, bovine and satanic

Consider for a moment a reversal of roles here.

If a Norwegian Prime Minister had made this gesture, and it had been misinterpreted in the United States, this would have been seen as an example of narrow, ignorant provincialism among those arrogant Americans.

As it is, it's likely going to be interpreted as an example of narrow, ignorant provincialism among those arrogant Americans- with the added bonus of a chance to deliver a wholly undeserved slam to George W. Bush.

Wictory Wednesday, January 19, 3005

Today's Wictory Wednesday appeal by us GOPBloggers is for Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA).

There can be no McGospel

Beggars All has a very worthwhile conversation going on regarding Bunny Diehl's assertion that "Willow Creek is evil."

Here's the thing: You can't sugar-coat the Cross.

Call them "Seekers," call them "secular Americans," call them "the Unchurched," or call them what you will, people are not ready for and will not, in fact, hear the Gospel until they're clobbered between the eyes by the Law.

That's the reason why there can be no such thing as a "seeker friendly" proclamation of Christ. Any church that's doing its job is in the business of putting "seekers" to death- because until they've been broken by the Law, by definition, what they're "seeking" will not be what Jesus has to give!

Such a death is an utterly indispensible prerequisite to being born to the New Life Jesus came to bestow.

There's just no getting around it: you aren't ready to hear about a Savior from sin until y…

"I do solemnly...BRRRRRRRRR!"

Looks like my wife and I are going to have to do some shivering at the Inauguration. Again.

Forecast here in the Washington area: 38 and showers. If so, we might avoid the white stuff, and just get wet... like four years ago. But the wind was incredible in the District of Columbia on January 20, 1981, and a more miserable non-snowy winter day would be hard to imagine.

I doubt that the weather will be as miserable this time. Of course, that may be wishful thinking. But if I'm right, it'll be a good thing. At Dubya's first inauguration, some friends who worked for the Canadian Embassy pulled some strings to let us watch the parade from there (we even bumped into Newt Gingrich as we were going in, and he was coming out).

But our friends the Canadian diplomats are posted overseas now. And of course, Canada was a friendly country back then...

Especially given my recent knee problems, I have a feeling we'll be watching the parade on TV, perhaps from the warmth of a nice re…

Gotta love it!

My parents courted at Chicago Stadium, at Blackhawks hockey games. Because the hockey and basketball seasons coincided, because Chicago didn't have an NBA team back then, and because, as a non-Catholic, I had no local college team to root for (Illinois and Northwestern both stunk), I grew up with no interest in basketball whatsoever.

Still...gotta love those Illini... even when they beat my other collegiate favorite, Northwestern!

And hey...as a Lutheran, how can I not love a team featuring stars named Luther (Head) and (James) Augustine!

A world of wonder

River beds and methane seas...

Cassini/Huygens continues to unfold ithe wonders of the mysterious moon Titan- possibly Earth's younger sister, the closest relative we may have in the Solar System.

A nation of religious illiterates

Do you marvel at the proclaimed allegience to the Christian faith on the part of a huge percentage of the nation's population, coupled with a belief system embraced by those same people largely at odds with the most basic tenets of that faith?

Are you looking for a reason for the shallowness of contemporary religious discourse? The inability of even the religiously committed to discuss their faith coherently? The inconsistancy of the profession of so many American Christians with their actual lifestyle in sexual and other matters? ?

Are you astounded at the widespread scorn heaped on the Lutherans with integrity- the ones who objected to Missouri Synod District President Rev. David Benke's participation in that multi-god worship service in Yankee Stadium in the aftermath of 9/11?

Are you puzzled by the success of the minimalist Kieschnick wing of the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod- a denomination historically known for its theological integrity?

Above all, are you bemused by t…

Iowa is the problem

The real reason for the Democrats' foreign policy nuttiness: the Iowa Caucuses.

As a once and future Iowan who has participated in the system from precinct caucus to State convention in each party, I agree: the Iowa Caucuses are an activist's playground which drive the Democrats to the loony Left, and the Republicans to the zany Right. As much as I enjoy both the process and the national attention, let's face it: the Iowa Caucuses are bad for America.

The big day has arrived!

Titan- Saturn's largest moon- has always been an object of mystery. Swathed in orange clouds rich in methane, the only moon in the Solar System with an atmosphere has always tantalized astronomers. What lies beneath those orange clouds?

Scientists speculate that beneath the orange shroud may exist a twin of primordial Earth; that in the distant future, when the Sun is a red giant and has swallowed the inner Solar System, Titan may become- however briefly- the abode of life.

There has been speculation that Titan may harbor oceans of pure petroleum. Certainly beneath the orange shroud of this celestial enigma is enough mystery to make anybody with a spark of curiosity in his or her makeup wonder.

Well, we need wonder no longer. NASA's Cassini probe has launched the European Space Agency's Huygens lander in its long-awaited parachuted decent to the surface of the mysterious moon.

Stay tuned. I will. And I'll try to remind myself to breathe once in a while.

Journeying Together Unfaithfully.

Under a title that is amazingly "in your face," as bald-faced lies go- Journeying Together Faithfully- the "Evangelical""Lutheran" "Church" in America (***A) Task Force on Homosexuality has released its Report and Recommendations.

There is, as expected (and typical from this outfit) nothing "faithful" about these recommendations. They're the tank of antinomian bilge we've come to expect from this apostate group. But this particular document is special. It's a landmark, you see; a turning point which- even if not perceived at the time- marks the moment when the ELCA has finally and irreversibly strikes down along a path many of us have seen coming for years.

Whether or not they admit it, these recommendations, if adopted, effectively make active gays and lesbians eligible to serve as pastors in the ELCA. Which, of course, they already are- openly- and woe betide anyone who challenges that, church policy or no church policy!

N…

Steve Hein and The Two Kingdoms

"Mr. Hein" in this essay is long since "Dr. Hein-" and an old college theology prof of mine.

He's the guy who really brought home to me (and about thirty other students at Concordia, River Forest back in 1979) what the Gospel was all about.

Here in Washington, the National Holocaust Museum bookstore does a good business selling books which trash Luther and his doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, ascribing it to Lutheran "quietism" and subservience to the State.

Actually, the Museum itself doesn't have much use for Luther, choosing to uncharitably regard a few uncharacteristic ravings in the last few years of his life, when he was old and sick and his sanity is a debatable matter, as representing his attitude toward the Jews as a people, while disregarding a lifetime of sympathy for them in the anti-Semitic world of the Middle Ages and his writings in their defense.

The books in question are invariably written by Reformed or Roman Catholic authors who don…

Epiphany and the tsunami

Behold the Star of Bethlehem- (or most of it)!

For the past 73 years, Chicago's Adler Planetarium has done a presentation each December entitled Star of Wonder, predicated on speculation that the Star which led certain ancient astrologers to Bethlehem long ago in seach of the Christ Child was in fact a series of sporadic conjunctions between Venus (in ancient Near Eastern astrology, the star of birth), Jupiter (the star of kingship or royalty) and- on occasion- Rigel (also symbolizing kingship) in Leo (the constellation allegedly governing Judea) during the historical time-frame specified by the Gospels. Viewed from the Near East, the conjunctions would have fit the Bible's description of the appearances and behavior of the Star like a glove- and especially in combination with certain other telling details, would naturally have provoked in the minds of certain astrologers of that time and place thquestion, "Where is he who is born King of the Jews?"

Today is Epiphany,

Into a cocked hat

Wow

Bunnie Diehl tells of a second-grader in a Lutheran parochial school who , when asked by her pastor what our desire to do wrong even when we know is right is called, replied, "Pastor, that's called concupiscence!"

I, too, am impressed, Bunny. Kids are sometimes incredible theologians. One of my most lasting memories of teaching confirmation class was when I asked my kids what we meant by "Christ's humiliation," and one of them replied, "Us!"

Ouch. Too much truth for comfort there...

Sandberg elected to HOF

Slick fielding, clutch hitting Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg has quite properly been elected to baseball's Hall of Fame.

All that remains is for the HOF Veteran's Committee to right a long-standing wrong, and elect former Cub and current Cubs announcer Ron Santo, who has better numbers than most of the third basemen who are already in the Hall- but who keeps getting passed by for reasons which seem beyond comprehension.

Rightly said, Charles

Tutu? Tsk-tsk

President Reagan, when asked how an unpleasant meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu had gone, replied, "Tutu? So-so."

As this Newsweek article clearly indicates, as a thinker and a moral theologian,Tutu is considerably less than so-so.

Let me see if I get this right: Presidents Bush and Reagan are bad because they saw things in terms of good and bad, whereas people like Tutu, who claim not to see things in terms of good and bad, are good, because they don't see good and bad the way the bad people who believe that things are good and bad do. And that's good, because that would be bad.

It's pretty hard to take this guy seriously, I'm afraid. His attempt to draw parallels between South Africa under apartheid and the present policies of the United States would be frightening, were it not so transparently ridiculous. And one would think that somewhere along the line, Tutu might have noticed that the people of Iraq are probably better off without Saddam Hussein than…