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Showing posts from October, 2015

And if Biblical interpretation gives you headaches...

...just remember "Zwingli's Razor!"

When 'grace' becomes a real, real scary word

Every Mormon male has to spend a year as a missionary ringing doorbells. This requires a degree of dedication to one's faith, of self-discipline, and of humility which puts us Lutherans to shame, and can only admired and looked upon with awe.

However, there is a problem, which Pastor Hans Fiene's Irishmen Conall and Donall herein explain to a couple of Mormon missionaries who come calling.

Well, more than one, actually. But how's this for starters?

What happens to your body after you die?

Here's a relatively non-gross description.

Warning, though: you may be left a little queasy by the name of the substance that's left when the calcium in your bones goes away. Sort of what I felt like when I found out that one of the participants in an autopsy is known as the "dinar."



Speaks for itself

Hillary supporters at a campaign event (!) are asked to name her accomplishments:

HT: Drudge

This might be my favorite one of all

"Henry V won the Battle of Agincourt, and then- realizing that he was now too famous to be alive- died." --1066 and All That

Nobody expects this.

From "The History Teachers," the same group that did the "Martin Luther" song I posted the other day and the mix in the previous post...

Bizarre, but kinda cool

Apparently that odd Luther song was only one of a series from a group called, aptly enough, "The History Teachers."

Having spent the evening listening to their songs dealing with everybody from Cleopatra to Charlemagne to Joan of Arc to William the Conquereor and Henry VIII, I've concluded that they, so to speak, rock.

Here's a mix of 55 of their songs. We begin in ancient India:

I didn't know The Bangles were Lutheran!

Ok. Today is Reformation Sunday on the Lutheran calendar, and next Saturday is Reformation Day, the anniversary of Luther's posting his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

But this is just wrong...

Joe Dziemianowicz's comments about Daniel Murphy are just in time for Halloween

It seems that Joe Dziemianowicz,a gay writer for the New York Post, is all bent out of shape because Mets second baseman and Cub-killer Daniel Murphy says he's "100% opposed " to the gay lifestyle.

Note that Murphy said nothing about gay people, or about their orientation, over which they have no control. He merely expressed his personal beliefs concerning the morality of a set of behaviors. He singled no one out. He called nobody names.

Dziemianowicz cannot say the same thing. He libeled Murphy as a "bigot" and a "homophobe."

Now, don't get me wrong. Dziemianowicz has just as much right to disapprove of Murphy's attitude as Murphy has to disapprove of homosexual behavior. But neither has any right to call the other names. And I'm sorry, but moral disapproval of a behavior neither makes someone a bigot nor gives anyone else the right to abuse him for his opinion.

On the other hand, suggesting otherwise does make one a pompous, politicall…

I could use a laugh tonight.

It's easier saying 'Wait 'til next year...'

...when you actually MEAN it!

Relax, Cub fans

I'm not going to say that I'm not discouraged by the two-games-to-none hole the Cubs are in right now, but I'm not going to panic about the NLCS, either. Yes, this situation has a familiar, sickening feel to it. Yes, I think of 1969 every time I see those Mets uniforms. Yes, the Marlins and the Padres are on my mind, too.

But a couple of things. First, this all is happening a year early. We were supposed to make our move in 2016, not 2015. To even be in the NLCS at this point is a bonus. It's gravy. If we lose- so what? This time "wait 'till next year" is a slogan that really does taste of hope rather than desperation. Next year, and many, many years to come.

Theo Epstein will make adjustments in the offseason whether we win or lose. Signing another big-name free-agent pitcher or two might be one way to go. And we continue to have a steady stream of fresh young talent coming up from perhaps the best farm system in baseball.

And then, there's this tea…

Oh no, Canada!

The Canadian courts severely curtailed free speech and imposed pseudo-marriage on Canada long before our courts did the latter here- and that with Stephen Harper's Conservatives in power.

God help our neighbors to the North now that Justin Trudeau's Liberals have won an absolute majority in Parliament.

A Canadian friend says that Harper was unpopular with younger voters who didn't remember the premiership if the new Prime Minister's father, Pierre Trudeau- the "Canadian Kennedy-" back in the late sixties and the seventies and eighties. As has been said, those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.

So it seems.

Secularism and diversity are very different things

When I was at Wartburg Seminary, I always found the emphasis on diversity and "inclusiveness" amusing. You see, the people who were so big on diversity and inclusiveness seemed to think that everybody should think exactly the way they did. There wasn't much diversity at all, and if you didn't fit into the mold you were not apt to feel very included.

Sociologist Peter Berger observes that we have a tendency in our culture to confuse secularism with diversity. It's a point that's occurred to me many times. Secularism is the absence of specifically religious influence on culture. Diversity, on the other hand, is the presence of all sorts of influences.

Western Europe and increasingly the United States are secular. Or rather, Western Europe on one hand and America's cultural elites on the other are secular. As the late Richard John Neuhaus once observed, Sweden is the most secular country in the world, whereas India is the most religious. The problem in Americ…

Rudyard Kipling vs. Donald Trump

Many people dislike Rudyard Kipling.

They concede that he was a gifted writer who really knew how to tell a tale. But the thing is, he wrote from the point of view of the oppressor, rather than that of the oppressed. He sided with the Bad Guys.

But as Irving Kristol notes, there is one advantage to that perspective that makes him worth reading even by those who dislike his point of view. People in power have to deal with reality. They live, not in the world of theory or ideology, but of actual decisions with real and often far-reaching consequences that affect genuine human lives. Rebels and outsiders don't have to do that. They can afford to go off on tangents about the world as they wish it was. Those in power, on the other hand, are forced to deal with the world as it is, for better or for worse.

Kristol recalls John Kennedy's question as to whether his generation of Democrats was sufficiently in touch with the real world to govern. Kristol asks the same question about this…

Learning from Bill Buckley's example

Benjamin Musachio of the National Review recalls the courageous battle William F. Buckley fought against Robert Welsh and the John Birch Society (remember them?) for the soul of the conservative movement back in the 'Sixties.

At a time when extremists are once again threatening to hijack conservatism and the Republican party, it might be time to learn some lessons and draw some encouragement from that struggle.

Maybe this tune should be in the hymnal, too.

I recently blogged about the Lutheran Service Book hymn "We Praise You and Acknowledge You" (LSB 941), sung to the beautiful tune of the English patriotic song "I Vow to Thee, My Country." Well, there's another hymn tune from the British Isles I'd love to see in our hymnal.

Several times over the years I've written this blog, I've mentioned my ancestor, Henry Joy McCracken, who was an early member if the United Irishmen and who led the Irish forces in the Battle of Antrim during Wolfe Tone's rebellion in 1798. After the defeat of the rebel forces at Antrim, he attempted to escape to America but was betrayed and hanged by the British at the Corn Market in Belfast on July 17. 1798.

Like Tone himself, McCracken was a Protestant. He is the subject of two Irish folk songs, "Henry Joy" and "Faithful to the Last."

Another major battle in that same rebellion was fought in County Wexford, at a place called Vinegar Hill. That battle ga…

NOAA: Strong El Niño means warmer than average winter in the North, but colder than average in the South

Satan, demons, and Barney the Purple Dinosaur

Pr. Hans Fiene and Lutheran Satire strike again!

You can lead a horse to water...

Dealing with all of the heresy and deceit in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America  during my years in the parish was emotionally draining I used to feel sorry for myself a lot. And then one year at the theological conference I attended in Chicago each year, a pastor from the State Church of Sweden spoke- and I realized that even with all the nonsense which just about defined the ELCA, I had it a great deal better than confessional pastors in Scandinavia.

Traditionally Lutherans decide with whom to practice intercommunion, common worship, and other forms of fellowship with on the basis of public doctrine. It is assumed that a person will not affiliate with a church body with whose official teachings he or she disagrees. Of course, that is not always the case. But the assumption is that it should be. The church one attends is, after all, a public confession that one shares the beliefs of that church. Where this is not the case, the confession being made by attending it is at best…

Being a Christian, I don't believe in karma. But...

As I've said before, we don't deserve to be in the World Series this year. The Wild Card- even when my Cubs win it- is a joke. No team unable to achieve the best record of the teams playing (roughly) the same schedule over the course of the best possible test- the regular season- really has any right to be playing in October, in my book.

"Joke" rhymes with "choke." And one of the epic chokes of all time was in 1969, the year we DID deserve it.

The Cubs clearly had the best personnel in the National League that year. In terms of talent, only the Baltimore Orioles compared. But somehow, a much less talented New York Mets team pulled off an epic second half while the Cubs were shooting themselves in the foot again... and again... and again... and again...

I still remember that helpless, surreal feeling as routine grounders went through the legs of normally slick-fielding Cub infielders, and reliable hitters struck out, and somehow the team that had torn up the…

Somebody's been reading too many bad spy novels

Recently fired and actively gay Vatican theologian Kristoff Charamsa was an agent provocateur being used by a conservative cabal of cardinals in a plot to "destabilize" Pope Francis?

If there is a planet in this galaxy on which that makes the slightest sense, astronomers have yet to discover it.

It would seem that there is no limit to the imagination of Leftist "journalists."

HT: Drudge

We're in even worse shape as a society than I thought

According to Rasmussen, 52% of Americans support physician-assisted suicide.

That's bad enough. But even worse, half support outright euthanasia- nearly twice as many as oppose it.

Perplexingly, when it comes to abortion, we're almost evenly split. 48% consider themselves pro-choice, and 44% pro-life.

And even more bizarrely, 69% believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead!

Unprecedented biblical and theological ignorance at least partially explains this strange case of national multiple-personality disorder. I can see only one other partial explanation for Americans' overwhelming endorsement of the resurrection of Christ, combined with majority support of what His teachings would consider murder.

That partial answer is the rapidly-metastasizing cancer of libertarianism and the cult of the individual. What the average American worships as God can be found in neither the Bible nor the Koran nor any other sacred text.

He (or she) can be found in the mirror. And after all, w…

Watching a bishop with a bad back tap dance

In 1999, I realized, after serving The American Lutheran Church and its successor body, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,as a pastor for over twelve years that the ELCA was becoming less evangelical, less Lutheran, and less explicitly the Church year by year, and that the process was beyond the point where it could be reversed. I tried to warn my congregation. Few of them listened,

I left. I am now a layman in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Today, the ELCA is everything I had feared that it was becoming. Rather than rehearse the tale of its apostasy, I'll let the conversation between an ELCA bishop and a congregation many of whose members are disturbed by its increasing deviance from the Word of God and from the Lutheran Confessions tell the tale.

Suffice it to say that the performance of the bishop and the other representatives of the ELCA are essentially the same old, deceitful song-and-dance that I saw performed all those years ago. The steps haven't changed …

Yeah, that's pretty much the way it works.

This time Pr. Fiene explains the rules governing the mainstream media's method of determining someone's religious identity.

'Civil war' in the Catholic church?

It seems that conservative cardinals- displeased by the Pope's apparently liberal and political agenda for the church- are warning that the road currently being traveled by Pope Francis will lead Catholicism to the same kind of sad, slow death currently being experienced by the "mainline" Protestant churches.

That the Faith has political implications- some of them leading to support for what are generally thought of as leftist causes- is beyond dispute by any thinking Christian. But when the salvation of souls is subordinated to the welfare of society, the Church is no longer doing its job.

And neither is any denomination.


Getting back to the Cubs...

...and yesterday's NLDS-clinching victory, every time the homer happy Cubs (who set an all-time MLB post-season record the night before by hitting six round-trippers) fell behind, they simply went yard.

Here are yesterday's three clutch dingers by Baez, Rizzo- and, once again, Schwarber. They're followed by another video of the final out, an interview with Cubs manager Joe Maddon- and a whole lot of happy Chicagoans celebrating.

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Well, I'm proud of Jim Webb

I didn't hear Jim Webb's quote on killing that enemy soldier the other night in the Democratic debate, but frankly it does strike me as slightly creepy- slightly- to be proud of killing anybody.

But in fairness, that's not actually what he said. He didn't say he was proud of killing even an enemy of his country. He said that he was proud that that enemy of his country was his enemy. And even if Sen. Webb wasn't proud of that, I would be proud of him. Proud, and grateful. I completely agree with David Harsanyi of The Federalist on that one.

I disagree with Sen. Webb on several issues, but I've always kind of liked the guy- and not just because I enjoyed his book on our common Scots-Irish heritage. He's honest, he's genuine, he's sincere, and he walks the walk.

Given the (unlikely) choice between him and The Donald, he's one Democrat I'd be very tempted to vote for despite our disagreements. At least I'd sleep at night with Jim Webb in th…

The high cost of winning

From @TiqIQ: Cubs' current NLCS average ticket price on secondary market $1,325.93--which would be most expensive ever. (2nd-'12 SF: $687).— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 14, 2015
And I can remember (barely, it's true) when you could get into Wrigley for a regular season game for a little over five bucks. Of course, regular season games were the only kind they had!

Amid the celebrating, a salute to a valiant opponent

I'm having a hard time believing it. And as I've made clear, I firmly believe that it shouldn't be happening. But the Cubs are going to the National League Championship Series, hopefully to play the Mets.

We have a score to settle for 1969.

But amid all the celebrating, there are a few things that need to be said about the Cardinals and their fans. My first congregation was in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis. The first kid I confirmed there, Michael Greenway (and his wife Jaymie Moore Greenway) did me the honor of letting me marry them. They're not only Facebook friends, but I count them as good personal friends as well. I think the world of both of them.

Mike and I had a lot of fun giving each other a hard time about the Cubs vs. the Cardinals and the Blackhawks vs. the Blues. And since I made it a point to go to as many Cubs and Hawks games as possible when I was in St. Louis, I got to know what St. Louis fans are like generally.

I grew up as a South Side Cub f…

It's intelligent to avoid these particular geeks, it seems

Last night after the Cubs game I was at a desktop wallpaper site when I got a pop-up warning that my security was compromised. The bad syntax on the pop-up struck me as tipoff that the warning might not be legit.

I called the number listed. It connected me to an outfit called IntelliGeeks, people with heavy Indian accents supposedly in Hawaii. I foolishly gave them access to my computer and told me that there was malware on it and that my personal information was at grave risk. They wanted me to give them $299 to fix it.

I declined and called Apple today. They said that the things IntelliGeeks said showed that my computer was compromised were normal and that there was nothing wrong with my computer security. Checking into them online, I ran into several people who reported that they're scam artists who install malware themselves. Several people at Yahoo said that they'd them fix non-existent problems. The consensus is that they're scam artists.

If you ever run into Intelli…

Tne next words you read provide an infallible psychiatric diagonosis of "Cub fan" when the team is one game from success

If the Cubs win this afternoon, they go to the NLCS.

If they lose, I don't see them winning a Game 5 in St. Louis.

Effectively, I think this is the deciding game. In other words, I'm paranoid as all get out. I hope these new-breed Cubs don't share this aspect of Cubitude, and don't panic on the cusp of success.

Go Lester! Go Cubs!

One win from the NLCS, whether we deserve to be there or not

I still disbelive in the Wild Card.

I am painfully aware that even if we beat the Foul Fowl tomorrow, the Cards will still have a record one win better than ours- and I still think that means that they, and not my Cubs, should be advancing to the NLCS.

For that matter, I don't think there should even BE an NLCS. The Cards have the best record in the league. They should go to the World Series, period. Nobody else qualifies.

But the Cubs beat them 8-6 tonight, setting an all-time MLB record for a post-season game by hitting six- count 'em, SIX- home runs.

If the Cubs win the Lester-Lackey rematch tomorrow, the Cards are out and the Cubs will go to the National League Championship series against the Dodgers or the (still) hated Mets.


Simply glorious

"I Vow to Thee, My Country" is one of the most beautiful of England's patriotic songs. Well, a version of the Te Deum has been set to its tune and included in the Lutheran Service Book, the most recent hymnal of the Missouri Synod and other conservative Lutheran bodies.

Here is Hymn #941 from the LSB, "We Praise You and Acknowledge You", sung as the recessional hymn at last year's Higher Things youth conference.

Incidentally, "I Vow to Thee My Country" is a song traditionally associated with Remembrance Day (the British equivalent of our Memorial Day) throughout the Commonwealth. These are its words:

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

I heard my country cal…

Bears 18, Chiefs 17

Somehow, Jay Cutler came through with a couple of fourth-quarter touchdown passes- one with 18 seconds left in the game- and the Bears eked out a dramatic 18-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

And if I hadn't started Alex Smith on my fantasy team, my joy would be complete.

Ah, well. BEAR DOWN with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus!

Frank and Bart try to hash it all out

Lutheran Satire's take on the visit between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew, with a guest apperance at the end by the Joint Declaration on the Doctine of Justification between the Roman church and the "Lutheran" World Federation.

Now we KNOW POTUS is in trouble!

Even the New York Times says that his strategy in Syria is "incoherent."

When the Demcratic Campaign Pamphlet of Record is that snarky about a liberal Democratic president, you know things have to be petty darned bad.

HT: Real Clear Politics

Cubs 6, Ruddy Pigeons 3

We tie he series, steal home field advantage- and take the series back to Wrigley with Jake Arrieta going for us Monday!

The crisis in politicized 'science-' and MSM gullibility

You know that oft-repeated claim that 97% of climatologists believe that we're undergoing catastrophic anthropogenic climate change?

Well, Ian Tuttle reports that it's a lie- and not only documents that claim but explains exactly where that bogus claim comes from.

Meanwhile, Niall Ferguson reports on an NPR (!) study revealing that in two-thirds of the cases examined, studies in the behavioral sciences could not be replicated.

Here's the thing: Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his colleagues are absolutely on the money in their claim that we should look to empirical, scientific studies as at least our provisional arbiter of truth concerning the natural world. The trouble is that the politicization of science has rendered so much of what passes as science these days unreliable. When the politics of both scientists and the journalists who report their findings to the rest of us create a bias of which they are unaware or refuse to acknowledge, the result stops being science.


Fascinating. Even on Facebook!

A few days ago, I joined a Facebook group about an interest of mine called "Living History of Illinois and Chicago." It published a saccharine post about a monument in Hyde Park to Michele and Barack Obama's first date. I responded with two words: "Gag me."

This got me removed from the group.


Intolerance of dissent, it seems, is alive and well even in groups about Chicago's history. Emanuelism seems to reach that far.

My poor, poor hometown.

My poor, poor country.

ADDENDUM: In fairness, the group moderator explained that I was excluded because my response was not "on topic."

Funny. I thought it was. And I still think that was his real problem.

'Violent words,' me bum!

Not a good day for Mr.O

Administration officials have reportedly concluded that aspects of President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran violate Federal law.
Watch the latest video at
His former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, seemed to inadvertently criticize the agreement, comparing the position of the NRA on gun control with "negotiating with the Iranians or the Communists. There's no possible discussion."

Meanwhile, the Administration has decided to call off a plan to train Syrians to fight ISIS.

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine has called Mr. Obama's strategy in Syria "a joke."

With friends like these...

HT: Drudge

On the horns of a dilemma

Most of the experts at Sports Illustrated pick the Cubs to beat the Cardinals in the NLDS. Which I just don't see.

Look. I've been a Cub fan in principle all my life, and in practice since 1957. I take a back seat to nobody in my loyalty to my team. Gabby Hartnett was my distant cousin by marriage, for crying out loud. My dad lived across the street from the old Cubs Park on the West Side when they won the 1908 World Series. I can still recite the starting lineup from my first Cubs team: Walt "Moose" Moryn in left, Bobby Thompson in center, Lee Walls in right, Alvin Dark at third, Ernie Banks at short, Tony Taylor at second, Dale Long at first, Cal Neeman and Sammy Taylor splitting the catching chores.

But I remember too well when baseball was still baseball. Baseball is unique in that there's no such thing as an upset. Nobody even notices if, on any given day, the worst team in the major leagues beats the best. That's why the season is so long. You need 162 …