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Showing posts from November, 2009

Sermon for Advent I

THE LIBERATOR COMES!
Matthew 21:1-9
Advent I
November 29, 2009

There is a wonderful sequence in the film version of Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons in which Sir Thomas More and his wife are informed- with no notice at all, really- that King Henry VIII has decided on a whim to stop by on the way home for a visit.

A royal visit was not something one dared take lightly. Immediately the More household was flung into a frenzy of preparation. From somewhere, a huge banquet literally fit for a king was laid out. No trouble or expense was spared. The king, of course, would protest that no trouble was necessary, especially when the visit was on such short notice. But that, of course, was nonsense. Not to be prepared to receive the king would have been an insult to him, and insulting the king was not a good idea. And More knew this king in particular well enough to realize that for all his protests that elaborate preparations were unnecessary, it was a good thing for More and his family th…

There is a rumor that the Bears are playing this afternoon...

... against the Minnesota Vikings. But I don't want to know about it.

It figures to be a bloody mess. The Vikings are the most complete team in the NFC. The deficiencies of the Bears are, at this point in the season, all too well established.

As a Cub fan, I can identify with futility, and that gives me a certain amount of sympathy for the Vikings- a franchise which historically has had several good teams, but not a single Super Bowl victory to show for it. The Cubs at least have two World Series wins, even if you have to go back more than a century to find them.

Then, too, my former pastor- the Right On Reverend Christopher Esget- is a Vikings fan, and I'd like to see the Vikings win the Super Bowl (since the Bears obviously won't) for his sake.

On the negative side are my years in the ELCA, and the difficulty I have as consequence of that experience looking with favor on any team whose fans hail their successes with cries of "Skol." But here's hoping the Vi…

Thanksgiving Eve sermon

FOR GOD HIMSELF
I Timothy 2:1-8
Thanksgiving Eve

November 25, 2009


The Gospel appointed to be read on Thanksgiving fairly drips with Law. Now, there’s nothing wrong with Law. But good Lutherans know that the Law can’t save us. And there’s something else that the Law can’t do: it can’t make us thankful.

To be sure, it reproves ingratitude. It points out to us how much we have to be thankful for. But while the Law can accuse us and make us feel guilty for not being thankful, gratitude is beyond its power to create.

But as I said last year- as I’ve said Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving for years- there is Gospel in today’s Gospel.. Only one leper returned to give thanks. The other nine- the ones who stand for you and me, who fail so miserably to be grateful to God for clothing, shoes, meat drink, house, home, wife, children, and all His other blessings- went their merry way just as we do, with nary a thought to return and say thanks.

But nine lepers were healed- and nine lepers stayed hea…

Blackhawks 7, San Jose 2

The Sharks still have two points more than the Blackhawks, but in beating them 7-2 last night (their second victory over the NHL's leading team in the past week), the Hawks have climbed to within those two points of claiming supremacy themselves.

Marian Hossa made his long-awaited Hawks debut, and scored twice.

The Hawks- whose only weakness going into the season was said to be goaltending- continue to lead the NHL in fewest goals allowed.

Whole lot of magic, ladies and gentlemen!

Just sayin'...

I'm fascinated by the smugness of some Roman Catholics in the blogosphere and elsewhere over the ELCA's decision to ordain practicing homosexuals.

I mean, it's not as if when the ELCA ministerium reaches its highest point of saturation with homosexual pastors the Roman Catholic church won't still lead the Christian world in the percentage of its clergy who are gay. And despite the sexual incontinence of some of the student body at Wartburg Seminary during my time there, never at its worst did it approach the horrors described by Michael Rose in his hair-raising book on priestly formation, Good-Bye, Good Men.

That a nominally Lutheran denomination has taken this step outside the bounds of the Christian confession should sadden all who call themselves Lutherans, even among those of us with better claim to that label than the ELCA rightfully has. But one thing for which it definitely does not provide occasion is Roman Catholic triumphalism.

A great game and a spectacular Finn-ish

Ending the game by doing a convincing impression of a brick wall against a barrage by a Vancouver team that had pulled its goalie and put six attackers on the ice, Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi stood on his head tonight and registered his second shutout of the season, blanking Vancouver 1-0- even though the Hawks were outshot 30-17!

The Good Guys have now won seven in a row and have run their record to 15-5-2. This is the team's best start since the 1982-83 season- and Marian Hossa will be joining the team within days.

They have not even missed last year's best player, Martin Havlat.

The Hawks continue to lead the NHL Central Division. The team which opened the season with goaltending as their major question mark now has the best team GAA in the NHL.

Losing ugly

Eagles 24, Bears 20.

It wasn't as much of a blowout as I expected.

A new start for ELCA refugees- or another ELCA waiting to happen?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. --George Santayana
There's good news and there's bad news on the ELCA front.

The good news is that a group of ELCAns- those who comprise the group known as Lutheran CORE- has decided to go ahead and do the obvious: leave the apostate ELCA and form a new church body.

Obvious though this step may be in one sense, it continues to amaze me how long it has taken ELCA conservatives to realize not only that they never had a shot at influencing the direction of the ELCA, but that it's been probably a decade since that prospect has been even a particularly viable illusion. Moreover, conservative members of the ELCA continue in large numbers to talk about "staying and fighting-" most seeking to deceive themselves as well as others into believing the fiction that they have done any real fighting against the radical ELCA establishment in the past, or will do any in the future.

But the Lutheran CORE people (CORE app…

Obama approval below 50% in Iowa, too

Our local Democratic propaganda organ, the Des Moines Register, reports that President Obama's popularity has fallen below 50% in Iowa. This follows the Gallup Poll reported in the previous post, which shows the President's approval rating below 50% nationally.

Given the degree to which Democrats have dominated this state in recent years, and the tendency for bad news here to translate into bad news for the Democrats nationally, this is bad news for the Democrats indeed.

Sermon for the Last Sunday of the Church Year

Dies Irae
Matthew 25:1-13
Last Sunday of the Church Year
November 22, 1963

Everyone in my parents' generation always remembered where they were on December 7, 1941, when they heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. For the current generation, it's September 11, 2001, otherwise known as "9/11." But for people of my generation, the date which sticks in our minds and on which we'll always remember where we were and what we were doing is forty-six years ago today- November 22, 1963.

Our teacher, Mr. Williams, was also the principal of Grace Lutheran School, so when the phone rang he had to leave the classroom to answer it. When he came back, he told us that somebody- whoever it was was too excited to identify himself- said that President Kennedy had been shot and killed.

Everybody laughed. That's the thing that stands out most clearly in my memory: everybody laughed. It wasn't that we found the idea of the President of the United States being assassi…

Obama falls below 50% in Gallup

One shouldn't read into it more than is there- it happened to Ronald Reagan a week earlier in his first term- but President Obama has, for the first time, fallen below 50% popularity in the Gallup tracking poll.

Reagan's approval remained south of that milestone for the next two years, and he was re-elected in one of the most one-sided landslides in history. But the fact remains that Barack Obama can no longer claim to have a majority of the country behind him and his program. And at a time when Democratic prospects for 2010 are already looking bleak, this can't be encouraging news to any of those who ride the donkey.

HT: Real Clear Politics

Climatologists begin to notice the globe's stubborn refusal to warm

Der Spiegel- Germany's Newsweek- has noticed what some have been pointing out for quite a while now: that the globe hasn't been warming for the past decade or so.

But the climatologists it interviewed are confident that it will get the memo soon.

The possibility that solar activity (mentioned by the article as a possible contributing cause) may in fact be the primary cause of global warming, rather than the relatively small percentage of the greenhouse gasses which enter the atmosphere every year for which human beings are in any way responsible, is still apparently not getting much of a hearing in the circles which consider Al Gore to be a prophet.

HT: Drudge

The Hawks roll on

The Blackhawks won their fifth in a row with a convincing 7-1 thrashing of a good Calgary Flames club tonight at the Saddledome. Two goals for Kris Versteeg.

Another victory for Cristobel Huet:

W-L-OTL 9-4-1SV% .902GAA 2.25SO 1Not too shabby. If, as conventional wisdom has it, the Hawks will go as far this year as their goaltending takes them, and if Huet and backup Antti Niemi continue to play as well as they have, they should go far.

Another disappointment?

The Cubs want to host the 2014 All-Star Game in honor of Wrigley Field's centennial.

Personally, though, I think Rio will get it.

Seven in a row

With their 4-3 overtime victory over the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks at the United Center tonight, the Blackhawks have now won seven home games in a row. They had not done this since 2002.

The Hawks continue to lead the NHL Central by three points over the Red Wings.

Sermon for Trinity 23

Matthew 22:15-22
Trinity 23
November 15, 2009

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

There have been worse tyrants than Adolph Hitler. Possibly the greatest of all time was Mao Zedong, whose seventy million victims dwarf Hitler's eleven or twelve million. Stalin actually comes in second, with something like thirty million. But somehow, when we go looking for people or regimes to serve as the archetype of human evil and tyranny, Hitler and Nazi Germany are generally the examples that get picked.

About a year ago, Dave and Kathy Leonard and I saw Valkyrie, the Tom Cruise movie about the plot to kill Hitler. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wasn't portrayed in it, though Carl Goerdeler- the prominent Lutheran layman who would have become chancellor of Germany if the plot had succeeded- was. The movie was a reminder of the fact that German Lutherans- who are often portrayed as politically subservient to authority- were moved by Hitler's…

What planet does Anita Dunn live on, anyway?

Further underscoring her extremism and warped perspective (in case anybody has missed either point up to now), White House Communications Director and Mao-admirer Anita Dunn not only has renewed her ongoing tirade against Fox News, but actually has made the incredible claim that MSNBC isn't biased!
Does this lady even take herself seriously?
Dunn will be stepping down from her position at the Obama White House at the end of this month. This may be the best thing that has happened to the Administration for a long time; she's an even bigger chronic embarrassment to the President than Joe Biden.
HT: Real Clear Politics

Meanwhile, in Havana...

The Grand Old Man of Western Hemisphere totalitarianism, Fidel Castro, continues to gush about how wonderful Barack Obama is and what a great job he's doing.
HT: Drudge

Obama demeans himself- and us

If you recall, President Obama pulled this demeaning stunt once before, when he humbled himself before the King of Saudi Arabia.
From the point of view of protocol, the President of the United States is the equal of kings and emperors. From the point of view of geopolitical reality, even now Mr. Obama is the single most powerful man on earth, and heads the most powerful nation on earth. It's not simply a faux pas for him to bow before another head of state. It's a demeaning of his own position, and of our country.
The diplomatic ineptitude of this administration is massive. But this goes beyond ineptitude- especially since it's happened before. Somebody really needs to talk to this guy- who, coming up on a year after he took office, is still not ready for prime time.
I mean, don't they have a protocol officer at the White House anymore?
HT: Drudge

Let me make one thing perfectly clear...

Mao-loving Obama aide Anita Dunn has let the cat out of the bag.

No, it's not a matter of excessive, er... enthusiasm on the part of his loyal staff. Nor is it something that just sorta happened. We're talking a deliberate policy decision here.

The Administration's Nixonian war on Fox News was personally approved by Barack Obama.

Uh-oh. Hendry may be about to do it again.

Cubs' GM Jim Hendry, who almost single-handedly ruined last season and turned a two-time defending division champion into an also-ran (he did have some help from Cub regulars who inexplicably forgot how to hit during the NLDS a year ago, and still haven't remembered), may be about to ruin the next ten or twelve seasons at a single swoop.

Hendry is reported to be aggressively pursuing Detroit center fielder Curtis Granderson.

Fair enough. Granderson would help the Cubs in several important ways. But talk is that he'll be offering a "prospect-heavy" deal- and if it includes either shortstop Starlin Castro or third baseman Josh Vitters, who should be the left side of the Cubs' infield for the next decade, I'm done with them.

Castro and Vitters are two of the top prospects in all of baseball, and as much as I'd love to see them land Granderson, he simply isn't worth either one of them. And if either one of them goes to Detroit for Granderson or anybod…

The Bears dig their grave a little deeper

When the Bears lose to the 49ers, you know it's not their year.

Cutler's pass for what would have been the winning touchdown was intercepted in the end zone as time expired. It was his fifth interception of the night.

All-Pro, huh. Franchise quarterback. Well, at least I'm happy for Mike Singletary, who will probably be coaching the Bears sooner than any of us imagined.

Final score: San Francisco 10, Bears 6. Ironically, the much-maligned defense played pretty well. It was the offense that lost it for the Ursines.

A vocabulary lesson for the Left

Back when President Obama committed his "bittergate" gaffe during the last campaign, it was widely pointed to as just another sign of liberal elitism. It's fascinating that many on the cultural Left actually tried to turn elitism into a good thing. Completely ignoring the dictionary definition of the word, it tried to confuse the meaning of "elitist" and "elite," and claiming that we should all strive to be elitists! Apparently this attempt at revisionist lexicography was first undertaken when Hillary Clinton used the term to refer to certain of Mr. Obama's supporters during the campaign for the Democratic nomination. It persists among supporters of Mr. Obama'shealthcare initiatives.

The word elite, of course, indicates excellence; the word elitist, snobbery. The distinction was apparently lost on the authors of those particular sites, and on others who imitated their attempt to redefine a pejorative as a compliment on their own blogs and websi…

An interview with Carrie Prejean

Here's an interview with former Miss California Carrie Prejean- the author of a new book- on her ongoing battle with the forces of hate, religious bigotry and political correctness.

Prejean is the woman who blew her chance to be Miss USA- she finished as First Runner-Up- because she truthfully answered a question about how she felt about gay "marriage," a question which ignored the longstanding pagent tradition of avoiding politically charged subjects. Her answer reflected her religious beliefs. She's been slandered, libeled, and villified in every corner of the rabid cultural Left for expressing a belief about which the Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions agree: that marriage was instituted by the Creator as an institution involving members of two different sexes, and not only one.

Ms. Prejean lost her title as Miss California due to a "sex tape" she had made for a former boyfriend in the belief that he would be the only one who would see it. She admit…