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Showing posts from May, 2005

Can nups follow pre-nups?

Pr. Walter Snyder has been faithfully answering questions regarding the Faith and the Christian life in a newspaper column and now a blog for years.

I have to disagree, though, with his answer to a question about pre-nuptual agreements.

When a couple marries, they promise to remain in that relationship and to be faithful to one another until death. There is no "escape clause." "If" and "unless" are equally absent from the vows.

It's generally accepted among traditional Lutherans (or at least so I was taught in the LC-MS institutions I attended; the ELCA seminary wasn't really concerned about such matters) that a valid marriage involves the intention of people involved to actually keep the vows they take; that, for example, a couple which marries in order to afford some economic or social advantage to one or the other parties and then divorce do not contract a valid marriage (pastors and others, if I am wrong here, please tell me; I am, after all, a g…

Bad logic makes for inconsistent ethics

The Chicago Tribune has an article on how President Bush's recent House defeat on the fetal stem cell bill presages a revolt against his position on the part of otherwise "pro-life" Republicans.

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Cal), who is cited by the article as a prominent example of those with changing positions, perhaps reveals the core of the problem with his ironic statement that "If they are going to be thrown away and not become life, that's the reality of it. The group that voted against this will just not see reality."

The reality is that these are embryos. Conception has already taken place; they already are life!

While Cunningham and the others cited (including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), continue to oppose cloning and the creation of embryos for the express purpose of stem cell harvesting. They favor only the use of embryos which otherwise would be destroyed. They fail to see that to destroy a life is to destroy a life, regardless of what t…

We have not forgotten

With gratitude to those who, in the past and at present, gave and are giving their lives that Freedom might live.

Missing the point

A Korean pioneer in stem cell research doesn't think President Bush's reluctance to support the use of living pre-born humans for spare parts is wise.

He thinks the idea is "honorable."

Perhaps he will volunteer to provide his own organs to help the many people of his blood type who will die in the next twenty-four hours without a transplant. If not, he shouldn't be so fast and loose with other human lives.

All bets are off

If Henry Saad and William Myers are indeed "exempt" from the Democrats' agreement not to filibuster President Bush's judicial nominees, forget everything I've said about this past week's "deal."

If they are not specified by name in the deal as exceptions, the Democrats have already broken their word. If they are, then we've been lied to by Senate Republicans and Democrats alike as to the terms of the deal.

Exactly so!

Jewish social commentator- and social conservative- Dennis Prager has pretty much nailed not only the difference between Jewish social liberals and social conservatives, but also between "mainline" Protestants and "cafeteria Catholics," on one hand, and those who oppose gay marriage, abortion, and a host of other practices which contravene the teachings of the Bible on the other.

It all comes down to this: When one disagrees with the Bible, who is wrong?

Or, to put it another way, does the authority of God stand behind the text, or not?

Liberal Christians will bob and weave and hem and haw and tapdance all over the place to avoid admitting it, but when all is said and done, that is the bottom line.

It should be noted that, as Prager points out, Jewish secularists like Alan Dershowitz are, to their credit, generally more honest.

A lament for Joan

The cancellation of Joan of Arcadia wasn't unexpected; the ratings had been going down for some time. But it's still bad news.

Ok. The series about a teenager who has daily conversations with God- not merely in prayer, but with the Almighty in the form of a classmate, a janitor, a lady on the bus, or practically any form He chooses to take- wasn't theologically perfect. Christians could not help but miss, especially in a show whose theme song was, after all, What if God Was One of Us?, any recognition of the fact that He actually is; given cultural sensitivities in America, that, of course, was never in the cards.

Joan's deity is remarkably generic in other ways, too; her own Catholicism, the Judaism of her brother's girlfriend, and the Protestantism of some of her classmates seem to have no apparent ramifications at all for "God's" dealings with them through Joan. Again, the American religious culture would not have allowed it to be otherwise. And t…

What needs to be flushed is the boorishness

A Baptist church in North Carolina has a sign which reads, "The Koran Needs to Be Flushed."

However much one might agree with the sentiment as far as the spiritual value of the Muslim holy book is concerned, the sign isn't real tactful- nor is it likely to make Muslims anything but more defensive and belligerent and resistant to Christ than they are.

It's kind of like the unfortunate habit that's spread widely among some conservative Lutheranism of referring to females who claim the pastoral office as "priestitutes." The disapproval of pastorettes I share, but why be deliberately and personally insulting about it? The truth needs to be spoken, but Paul suggested that it be spoken in love, not as offensively as possible.

I just don't see it

Bunnie and everybody (but me) who has commented on her post think the Republicans sold out on the compromise which is going to get three of the President's judicial nominees voted on, and shift the issue from the horrible Republicans who are trying to obstruct the Democrats' freedom of speech to the actual (and considerable) merits of the remaining nominees.

A quick glance through the various Blogs for Bush (see the second blogroll on the right margin of this page) reveals that Republican bloggers seem virtually universal in their agreement with Bunnie's take.

Sorry, but I just don't see how the remaining nominees are less likely to be confirmed because of the deal than they were before. Nor do I see how giving up the "nuclear option-" an albatross around the GOP's neck which according to all the polls had taken the onus off the Democrats for their obstructionism and put it on the Republicans- hurts them one bit.

If the Republican majority had actually aboli…

Go, U Northwestern!

Some "deal!"

The media are reporting a "deal" between Senate Republicans and Democrats to permit voting on "some" of President Bush's judicial nominees.

The Republicans, for their part, agree not to kill the filibuster.

I suppose the same media outlets would report the end of World War II by saying that the Allies had reached a "deal" with Hitler and Hirohito to stop the fighting.

Sorry, but it sounds to me an awful lot like the Democrats simply caved!

Zara is a "real person," too

We hear a great deal about people like the late Christopher Reeve when it comes to the fate of embryos conceived in Petrie dishes. Those in favor of embryonic stem cell research frequently argue that we need to deal with this issue in terms of "real people," rather than theoretical principles- as if there were no relationship between the two.

Well, want to talk about "real people?" Meet Zara.

Thanks to the Rev. Mike Zamzow for telling me about this article.

That myth about the Sith

Beggars all has some good thoughts on Revenge of the Sith, as does Instapundit.

As Eric Phillips points out in the comments on my most recent Sith post, the line about only Siths dealing in absolutes was actually spoken by Obi-Wan, rather than by Yoda. Eric also makes a point in a long reply over at the Beggars post that Instapundit also makes: that the line in question is timed rather ironically, being essentially a response to Anakin's observation that, after all, whether Palpatine or the Jedi are evil is a matter of opinion!

Clearly the most clueless response to the movie I've encountered came from someone who faxed Dr. Laura the day after the movie premiered, complaining that he'd expected "a cute movie about robots" and instead encountered "a movie about death." Hello! You maybe expected Anakin to turn into Darth Vader because he discovered that he didn't like Padme's cooking?

Galactica shows its cards

During the early years of the Third Reich, movies were encouraged to portray the Jews in a negative light, and prepared the way for the acceptance of the Holocaust by the German people.

Those movies are very much on my mind right tonight.

I know I shouldn't be surprised at the constant preaching of relativism and socially Leftist values in the movies and on TV, but tonight's episode of the Sci-Fi channel's new version of Battlestar Galactica stuns me even so. And for the first time, I'm a little shook. Until tonight, I don't think I realized how far down that same road we've gone.

It seems that the Cylons- the evil robots who virtually exterminated the human race, sent the remnants of the Twelve Colonies to flight, and- having "evolved" to resemble human beings, have now infiltrated the Galactica, but who operate chiefly through the trusted human who betrayed the human race to its virtual extinction, Dr. Gaius- are something very closely resembling conse…

Will Dean soon scream his last as DNC head?

"Rantin' Howard" (aka Democratic National Chair Howard Dean) is fast alienating his own party, and soon may be on the way out.

Rush Limbaugh- for what it's worth- suggested today that former Clinton advisor James Carville is mounting a move to oust the abrasive and usually far over-the-top former Presidential candidate.

Personally, I'd be sorry to see him go. Every speech he gives further marginalizes his party and reinforces the image of the Democrats as an idea-poor party operating purely on spite, frustration, and hate.

Does Sith have a political agenda?

Debate rages as to the degree to which George Lucas's anti-Nixon, anti-Dubyah political views color Revenge of the Sith.

Some, however, argue on the basis of individual lines of dialog in the Star Wars movies that The Empire is a metaphor for a managed economy and a collectivist dictatorship of the Left.

One line from Sith which I had forgotten- and which I think it was Glen of Territorial Bloggings who picked up on- was Yoda's silly remark that "Only Siths deal in absolutes." Actually- and rather patently- the "Siths" of history inhabit "the Dark Side" precisely because they reject absolutes- or at least wholesome ones, and at least for themselves!

No bowl of pottage, thank you

No altar call, no contemporary music about me and my feelings for Jesus, no Law-ridden harangue "challenging" us to be what in our fallenness we can never be in ourselves, no rationalistic "memorial meal," and certainly no Wookie suit will ever serve in the place of what one old saint remembered despite the ravages of dementia, and what fortified her and filled her with joy and hope in the face of death itself.

Thanks, Sceleratissimus Lutheranus, for reminding us how gracious our Savior is, how much wiser and mightier than all human cleverness, salesmanship, showmanship, and manipulation are the simple words, "This is My body....This is My blood-" and what a truly priceless gift we have in the Church's liturgy.

Thanks, too, to Lisa for bringing that post to my attention!

Jaw-dropping chutzpah

Chutzpah is a favorite Yiddish word of mine. I've used it several times before in this blog. It's classically defined as that quality exhibited by a man who murders both of his parents- and then pleads for mercy on the ground that he's an orphan.

Every once in a while, though, a new and better definition emerges. One emerged today in our nation's capital.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan undewent a savage attack by the White House Press Corps for daring to suggest that it was a bad idea for Newsweek to get people killed by running a false story!

The arrogance of these people defies belief!

It always works the same way

Chris Atwood is credited by Theresa of Be Strong in the Grace for calling attention to Charles Porterfield Krauth's classic statement on the progress of error in the Church:

But the practical result of this principle [of the church tolerating within her bosom those who claim she is teaching error] is one on which there is no need of speculating; it works in one unvarying way. When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages of its progress are always three.

It begins by asking toleration. Its friends say to the majority: You need not be afraid of us; we are few, and weak; only let us alone; we shall not disturb the faith of others. The church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we ask only for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions.

Indulged in this for a time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error are two balancing forces. The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding bet…

Retort of the Sith

Bunnie's post on the Church of St. Chewbacca, aka Epic (Not-Lutheran-So's-You'd- Notice-It) Churchhas drawn the attention of some of its members- and they aren't happy!

The comments make a fascinating read. No surprises, of course; just an unmitigated theology of glory, claiming validation on the basis of the world's approval with no sense whatsoever that neither Jesus nor two thousand years of the Church's experience exactly validates popularity with the world as a measure of spiritual value.

The arguments raised there are depressingly familiar. They are "reaching" people, they say. But with what? The Epic members involved in this thread fail to display even a tenuous grasp on the basics of the Faith. That is no surprise. The glorification of glitz and the contempt for substance seems, after all, in the last analysis to be the whole program here.

The congregation's approach seems to promote shallowness as an essential strategy. Jesus didn't minc…

People unclear on the concept

Love and Blunder has an excellent post on one aspect of the total failure of those who espouse what Prof. Kurt Marquart calls "happy clappy" church services to comprehend what we gather on Sunday morning for.

Church is not for having a good time. It is not mainly for praising God, as if He needed our praises (although that is a proper and inevitable part of what happens, even if the thanks are silent). It's to receive the forgiveness of sins, and to be strengthened by Word and Sacrament for the struggles of the coming week.

We don't "leave our burdens at home" on Sunday morning. On the contrary, we come to church so that Jesus can take them onto Himself, and help us to bear them.

Hat tip to Be Strong in the Grace.


Newsweek is sincerely sorry that it caused fifteen deaths by running a false story claiming that American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay were flushing copies of the Qu'ran down the toilet.

The Hedgehog Reportraises a very apt question. Assuming complete good faith in the Newsweek report, and assuming (which I don't think a reasonable and informed person can assume) that President Bush was equally mistaken as to whether Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction at the outset of the Iraq War, would we not be at least as justified in taking up the mantra, "Newsweek lied, people died!" as the Left is in saying the same thing about the President?

I'll answer my own question.

No. We would be more justified- because Saddam, whatever else may or may not have been true, failed to meet the standard of proof established by seventeen UN Security Council resolutions that he no longer possessed WMD- which was not merely a clean bill of health from Hans Blix, but destructi…

Setting a theological 'urban legend' to rest is well known to users of the Web as the place to check out urban legends, computer virus hoaxes, and other such rumors. But sometimes its utility goes even further.

Here, in the midst of debunking the odd rumor that the airlines will not allow flight crews to consist entirely of Christians for fear that they will be "raptured," is an account of the history of the popular- though fanciful- misinterpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 which gives rise to the story.

The passage actually predicts, not the removal of believers from the earth prior to a "Great Tribulation," but simply Christ's return to judge the world on the Last Day.

I've been wondering...

Now that the United Methodist bishops have approved intercommunion with the "Evangelical" "Lutheran" Church in America, an obvious question arises. It occurs to me all over again every time the ***A declares intercommunion with yet another church body whose beliefs are utterly incompatible with a Lutheran understanding of the Christian faith.

It's simply this: since the ***A practices open communion anyway, and insists on little, if anything, of a theological nature in the first place, why bother?

Aren't they already in de facto communion with every heretic in the world- no matter what essential article of the Christian faith he or she may deny?

Speaking of lame Ducks...

Go to the University of Oregon, and need help with sophomore calculus or English?

You can get it- unless you're white.

Excuse me, but didn't Dr. King march against this sort of thing?

Didn't James Meredith get shot over it?

In view of the various Civil Rights acts passed during the 'Sixties (despite the use of that wonderful liberal weapon, the filibuster, by the racists of that era), is this sort of thing even legal?

Only a ghost of The Phantom

Many years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and I was a seminary student, my then-girlfriend took me on a bus tour back to Sweet Home Chicago to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera at the Auditorium Theatre.

At the time, I wasn't all that enthusiastic. But when I saw the show, I fell in love. I've seen it three times since then here in Des Moines. I plan to see it again as often as it's produced wherever I happen to be living at the time.

I was looking forward to the movie version of The Phantom. I followed every story and rumor about the production, agreeing with most Phantomphiles that it would be a crime against nature if Sir Michael Crawford wasn't the male lead (the divorce settlement of Lord Andrew and Sarah Brightman involved an agreement on her part never to play Christine Daae in the musical again, so that was out; I hoped they'd find an adequate Christine somewhere).

I was disappointed in the extreme to read the bad reviews of the movie…

The Farce be with you

Bunnie calls our attention to this example of an allegedly Lutheran congregation clearly influenced by the Dark Side.

What is portrayed here is not the proclamation of the Gospel. It is gimmick-ridden sacrilege, and the message it projects (take a look at those sermon titles) has absolutely nothing to do with Christ and Him crucified.

To rely on such nonsense to reach people, rather than on the inherent power of the Word, is neither Lutheran nor remotely Christian. But then, if this is all one has to offer, why bother reaching people at all? And why in the world would anyone older than nine years old respond?

Those responsible for this travesty are calling the Church and the Savior it is called to proclaim into contempt- and contempt is exactly what I have for their efforts. I doubt that the Lord thinks much of them, either.

You know, come to think of it, "Revenge of the Sith" is a pretty appropriate theme for this... congregation.

Non sequitur

Gay men's brains respond to phermones less the way those of straight men respond to them than the way women's brains do.

This does not even imply, as a socially left-wing scientist claims in the story, that "sexual orientation is not at all learned." It does provide further evidence that there is a biological component in sexual orientation- something which at this point only the most closed-minded conservative doubts.

Dishonest science is not confined to the less responsible members of the Creationist movement. It just doesn't get reported much when it's on the social Left.

Just when we thought we would soon be rid of Jed Bartlet...

Apparently ABC believes that the apparent winding down of NBC's weekly Democrat-fest, The West Wing, will leave prime-time TV with a deficiency of one-sided liberal propaganda masquerading as entertainment.

Leftie Geena Davis will star in a new series this fall about the first woman president.

I doubt that she will be modeled on, say, Libby Dole.

'Our Lady of the Underpass' continues to draw crowds

Chicago Catholics with overactive imaginations continue to see the image of the Blessed Virgin on a salt and water stain adorning the wall of a Kennedy Expressway underpass.

I wonder: would it still be considered miraculous if it coincidentally resembled, say, Groucho Marx?

Brad Pitt?

Darth Vader?

Mayor Daley?

Given the brohaha over this wholly imaginary image, I also have to wonder what the response would have been if the stain actually had, objecively, borne the slightest resemblance to any of the above... as opposed, say, to your average salt and water stain on your average concrete wall!

A Friend in high places

Today is Ascension Day, the day when the Church commemorates Christ's ascension into heaven to resume the full exercise of His power and authority, which he ceased to fully utilize at the Incarnation.

Despite the common misunderstanding, Jesus did not set up residence on Mars, or somewhere in the Pleides, or on some planet orbiting the second star on the right, and straight on 'till morning. "The right hand of God," spoken of in the Creed, is not a geographical location- unless you can figure out a way to get to the right of Someone Who is omnipresent!

Rather, Jesus ascended, in both natures (after all, as Chalcedon defined, the two cannot be separated; He is one Christ) into the same mode of existence which the Father inhabits. The human nature isn't capable of that? In itself, no. But remember...this human nature belongs to God, and cannot be separated from His divinity!

Besides the Chalcedonian principle that the human and the divine natures of Christ, belonging …

The Dark Side has its day

Wednesday morning I had an opportunity to view a pre-release screening of Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. Of the three "prequel" movies, in my opinion it's the best. But a couple of warnings are in order.

First, it's a downer. I know; anybody who has been following the saga knows that this is the movie when that cute little kid and loveable, if impulsive young Jedi, Anakin Skywalker, goes bad and turns into Darth Vader. But even so, if you've grown to care about these characters, your heart is going to be broken more than once.

And it's not a movie for children- a group of whom are murdered (I won't go into how and by whom), their bodies discovered by Obi Wan and other Jedi in the midst of the collapse both of the Jedi Order and the Republic. Then, there's the process by which Darth Vader comes to need that mask and the respirator and all the other gear that make up his familiar costume. It's heartbreaking, since it happens to a character we'…

Depression: unbelief, or the Law at work?

On further review, I have one reservation about a single aspect of Pastor Esget's marvelous sermon. It's worth exploring because it involves a point which is easily misunderstood precisely by the people who need least to misunderstand it.

It's also worth exploring because others in the Christian community- Tim LaHaye comes to mind- really botch this whole subject. This is kind of a sore point with me, and it strikes me that clarity is of the essence on this subject- and it's a subject on which the Church's proclamation is anything but clear.

There is no human situation in which people are more open to Christ's invitation to cast all our cares on Him than when they're depressed. That's Gospel, not Law- and all too often, the Church invokes the Law instead to further crush those already ground to powder.

I'm not sure that depression per se should be considered unbelief. It's a physiological response to perceived helplessness- which is to say, to an a…