Thursday, December 31, 2009

House of my Fathers/Harrison/Walther

I have exactly 265 pages left (from page 212 to 477).

Reading Walther makes me think about how gentle and generous he is always trying to be, as much as is possible--unyielding as iron and gentle as a dove. We sometimes chafe that since the Gospel is the power, not we, we don't like to use the word "winsome". Since most of all the speech needs to be honest, authentic, humble, straight, un-syrupy..., we may forget that there is this gentleness that is very, very good and helpful. By God's grace the right combination always needs to be found.

He is also very descriptive but kind in introducing persons in his trip report. Maybe next time, we'll quote him on that several times.

This is how Walther corrects a Pastor Otteson, who had come up with some theses (now lost), presumably sounding too rigid and legalistic, regarding parish boundaries. Walther wrote a number of corrections hurriedly and he does not want to offend.

"It is quite right that you especially posit and claim Luke 10:16 and Matthew 18:15-17. But if you want to develop everything from that, then it gives the appearance that you are urging and pressing these passages in order to subvert all objections. Then your argumentation is somewhat brief, and the whole thing gets a legalistic taint. The mind is captured, but the heart easily remains unwilling and remains discontent and unconvinced [literally, "rattles in its cage"].

In my humble opinion, especially the following sentences need further exposition or development [and I am hereby providing it]. I obviously do not present these to you because I think your solid essay has to be reworked, but only to put before you my opinion in a very concrete way." (p. 156-157)

Then follow several pages of suggestions (corrections, mostly to make things more palatable, evangelical, for the congregation members).

Then he addresses himself again to Otteson.

"I implore you now, finally, that you would not see what I have written as proof of my hypercritical nature (Kritikasterei) or learned conceit (Besserwisserei), but as a demonstration that I happily desire at your request to serve you with what I have, poor wretch that I am. If you can find something therein which is usable, that will please me. Where not, still you will not be angry with me that I at least would acknowledge my good will to you. The matter is certainly important enough for everyone to come to a deeper understanding." p. 161

In the Post Script we see again, how unyielding he is:

"I note with distress what problems Pastor Clausen is causing. I must admit, as positive an impression as he made upon me personally, so problematic did the wobbly basis appear to me upon which his understanding appeared to stand. God will assist you, not only to remain steadfast in the truth, which is God's foolishness, in these times of improving civilization, but also see you through. In war, a few of the brave always fall.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Progress Report

Reading "At Home in the House of my Fathers." Started reading from the back, finished Pfotenhauer, Pieper and Schwan, in that order. Then went to the beginning. Finished Walther's trip report. (I am glad I did not start there. I might have got stuck in that report.) Only, like, 300 pages to go (500 down). Wyneken will be last. I feel I need to finish it before I read anything else. Excellent background.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Beautiful people

Our beautiful people are in Ontario. How are things?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let us go to Bethlehem

"Lasst uns nun gehen gen Bethlehem und die Geschichte sehen, die uns der Herr kundgetan hat."

"Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

Luke 2:15.

(My mother used to sing an ingenious lively little versicle with these words. I've never heard it from anyone else. I wonder where she got it.)

It makes me wonder that the Lord announced it first to the shepherds in the field. Our great Shepherd brought in those on the periphery first of all to see what salvation he had prepared for the lost sheep. Let us also go and see and behold and believe and spread the news to the more unlikely places. Lord bless us all.

Even in a year like this.

First page of two page Christmas letter. This was my fourth attempt. It was very hard to do. I wondered if it was necessary to write to people at all, in a year like this. Most people don't sent anything but a picture and a greeting, nowadays. But I've received some very special phone calls based on it, so I would recommend doing it
--even in a year like this.

What I've come to realize about Christians is this, there is a community that shares, indeed, there is. It shares all kinds of things. And anyone who does not care to be part of it, is really missing out.

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Rev. 21.

To All Our Dear Ones: Christmas 2009

We want to greet you with these words, at this time of year, because it is really good news that the dwelling place of God is with man, people like you and like me. It is most astounding. Imagine it. At Christmas, we celebrate the incarnation, that the Almighty God would deign to dwell with us as a poor human being , bearing everything we bear and more, dying and rising for our sins so we will be fit to live with him when we die or when returns to take us to his heaven. It is all most certainly true.
We also want to greet you with these words because it has been a very difficult year for us, as you know and as it has been undoubtedly for others. Our firm expectation of fulfillment of these words is our chief comfort. Our salvation in Christ is our deep joy, that remains when all else has to go. We know that everything will indeed be new. We already know the beginning of it. And we know that death is not the end. And we know that there can be no more sadness when we dwell with God.
Still, writing this letter is more difficult this year, because we cannot begin to tell you about the profoundness of our loss and grief over Stefan’s death, this year, and yet we should say something about it. Most people feel the same way when they are speaking with us. They want to say something and it is so hard for them. Most often a hug and a tear is what come out. Many, many people feel this loss very deeply, also. Some have sent us Bible verses, which was also helpful. And we should thank you again for all gestures of love, prayers, comfort and empathy, as well as practical help. The support was amazing and we are grateful for all the expressions of sympathy. You and the Lord know what you have done. Bless you for it. And may we all be strengthened in our faith even while facing these difficulties. It is good that we don’t travel this earthly path alone.
Martin and I have spent a good deal of more time with our Bible and hymnbook. We have been using CPH’s Treasury of Daily Prayer, which just came out this time last year, reading it aloud to each other in the evening. Reading out loud is really a different experience from reading it silently by yourself. I’d recommend it for a change. We’ve also got to know other resources. Receiving, buying and reading and passing on a number of different books as been a part of the journey and if you are at the receiving end of a devotion book this Christmas, don’t be offended, or if you’d like one let me know (I have some more. :) ). A deeper walk has really been a great blessing, an adventure, and renewal. We thank our triune God for bearing us up in this time. The Spirit does work through the Word and Sacrament, as we are promised.

The rest deals with personal details such as the upcoming wedding.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Notes from another "cool" weekend

Sundog over Fort Saskatchewan on Sunday morning. It wasn't THAT cold, but it's always hazy over the Fort due to industry.

1) Alright--on Friday we had a coming and going party of lots of young people some old people like us and one very old person. There were 16 of us at dinner time. We talked about who is all currently attending Concordia, (quite a few), whereas our dear senior person was also one of the original Concordians, several generations prior to the current one! Two of the young ones just took church music history together, one is going out with a pre-sem young man, one is doing a masters in Vancouver....

This is how I got them all to come: (of course, they are all kind people who share our loss this year and I am grateful for their company). BUT, I FINALLY figured out what Facebook is for. I did not have half of the contacts of the people I wanted to invite, so I sent them messages from friends' friends' lists! (Better learn late than never.)

2) There were opportunities to do a bunch more neat things, including going to German service at the Seminary. Dr. Zeuch has quite a facility in the German language and his sermon on the Magnificat I appreciated very much.

3) Then my local community choir went to one of the jails by Fort Saskatchewan and spent three hours walking between all the units and singing Christmas carols to and with inmates from the various units. The chaplains were with us and volunteers distributed Christmas goodie-bags to the prisoners in white lunch bags that had been decorated by school children. Quite a different experience. I don't want to describe all the details here. Some interesting volunteer work is being done in the jail, mostly by Roman Catholics, who, of course, knew people I know and, of course, knew about my son's death... and who had just lost someone else...

As we see again, the army of the bereaved is everywhere, as should be seen as natural seeing that we all die, yet, it does not strike us as natural at all. We do not feel like we should be taking such heavy losses.

Dr.Zeuch had talked in his sermon about the grieving at this time of year and he plainly said that we need to be grateful for what God has not taken from us...yet. That is a humble attitude, and we have no choice but to take it. Though we can't force neither gratitude nor humility, these circumstance do teach it to us. And there are blessings in this.

4) Read a neat thing about pain from C.S.Lewis this weekend, too (Preface to The Problem of Pain):

I must add,too, that the only purpose of the book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering; for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


These Pretzels are the nice big soft ones as bought from vending carts.

Party here tomorrow. Marilyn M. :) told me baking is so expensive. Well, this one is fun and cheap.

Make sure your yeast is not expired if you don't bake often. Checked mine. Good til June 2011. Hopefully that's reliable. The coarse salt is kind of needed. I forgot to find some.

2 cups hot water
1 package yeast (one tablespoon, 8 gr. is what the recipe says)
3/4 cup brown sugar
5 cups flour


form pretzels

lay in gently boiling basic solution for 30 sec. (made from 1 tablespoon baking soda per 1 cup of water)

put some rough, chunky salt on baking sheet, put pretzel on top.
Put some salt on top.

Bake at 475 Farenheit for about 12 min.

Serve warm with mustard and/or liversausage (and beer most likely).

Good fun for making with children.

December 17, 9:25

Finished my e-mail and blogging. Current view. Only -14 now.

December 17, 8:45

See my view this morning at 8:45. Soon the days will get longer. Only -15 today. Much, much better.

Also see nice things from this week. We went to wrap presents for Santa's Anonymous. First you design a present package from the bins (chose and age, sex, and three presents), package them well, and put in bins, etc.

Also see my kind neighbors dropping in bearing flowers and a gift.

I am reading the House of my Fathers. Finished Pfotenhauer and Pieper. Working my way backwards. Listening to John Patrick as I drive. Some of his talks are available online, too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Alles ist an Gottes Segen"

Found the hymn on Youtube.

What my last post made me think afterward is, it is really my own fault I don't know the English verses any better. Time to put some mind to it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Breakfast hymn

A verse came to me over breakfast, not sung for a long time.

Alles ist an Gottes Segen und an seiner Gnad gelegen,
ueber alles Geld und Gut.
Wer auf Gott sein Hoffnung setzet,
der behaelt ganz unverletzet einen freien Heldenmut.
(352, not in "Gotteslob", 1676)

In LSB, #732

All depends on our possessing God's abundant grace and blessing,
though all earthly wealth depart.
They who trust with faith unshaken
by their God are not forsaken
And will keep a dauntless heart.

Close enough, I guess, but not the exact same meanings.

What I'm thinking about: why do these things come to me only in German, though I have lived here for over 31 years? I don't have any English hymn verses coming to me except Sunday School songs and table graces, and liturgy, and lines from the Messiah.

The closest hymn book verses coming to me are songs Pastor DeBlock used to have us sing often: "Built on the Rock, the church will stand, even though steeples are falling.", "On my heart imprint your image, precious Jesus..." and "Thy strong Word". Must have been his favorites. Maybe it's a good thing if the Pastor has his favorites sung all the time, then people know those.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

-37 degree, Sunday morning

Off to organ playing. See the picture at the current time. It would be smart to stay in bed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Encouraging nascent organists

I offer here three insights into encouraging inexperienced pianists to become an organist for divine service. Obviously, they will need orientation on the instrument and practice. Besides this:

1. Help them to find their own resources by showing them websites where things can be ordered.

This week I spoke to someone who has been playing for years, but is still worried about the different settings in LSB (Lutheran Service Book). There are not enough organist liturgy books at church for each one to have one. I said, "buy one" She says: "Like where?"

Seriously, you can have it ordered from CPH in moments. However, it will take some time to reach these outer parts of the universe. Something could be done about that. I have even found a book with all the propers in it, that nobody knew about. So, there, you can practice to your hearts content and feel very comfortable with the music.

2. If they are not "real" organists, like myself, not comfortable with pedals, they can play just manually, forget the feet. It is really asking a lot to play with both hands, both feet. I have tried it. It exceeds my nervous system's capacity to coordinate things. More practice would do it. But how often can you get to church to practice. It is a big commitment for a newbie. Just play with your hands and pick enough bass stops to go with it, for now. People still praise my playing for exuberance. Pedals would be nice, but hey, we're doing what we can. I think it really important to play fast enough and comfortably enough. Don't play the organ morosely, slowly, too softly, though some songs obviously require different interpretations. Get into the hymn. Know it. Know what you are accompanying.

From Amazon, I bought a whole series of books with just manual music. I have so much repertoire now, it has taken the fright right out of having to play. There are so many beautiful pieces to play. I acquired the whole series by C.H. Trevor featuring Old English Organ music . I also bought a book edited by Trevor, that is not just English music. There is also a series of this. I just got the one so far. I have got so much music between my 10 or so books, I'm set. C.H. Trevor is my hero.

Now, I just need to know if CPH is coming out with a hymn prelude series for the LSB. Then I'll get that. Meanwhile, I don't do many special hymn preludes because I don't own any books. There is an older, very acceptable set at the church, owned by someone else. But just like the gal that sweats over the liturgy because she does not have her own book, the trick is: you need to get your own book. That's because many of us don't live close enought to church to just drop by to practice.

3. Get them to try playing just one hymn. See if your shy pianist can play just one hymn on one Sunday. Get them to work up some courage and facility. Work them in gradually. Being an organist is quite stressful and requires all your faculties. You have to be organized, practiced and confident. Until you have done it a number of times you will be sweating. This is normal.

Found the song I was looking for / ethical dilemmas

I found "Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen" by Jochen Klepper on YouTube, finally. There are several brand new uploads.

Now, someone tell me. I did not dare upload a nice recording I have, nor print out the English words, nor sing it myself and upload it, because the words are not in public domain. So, theoretically, I should not be posting this YouTube version either. ? Notice me not posting the English words again.

In English, Lutheran Service Book, #337,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who won?

Have a look at Ezra Levant's post from several days ago on the current state or affairs relating to the Alberta Human Right's commission.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just some notes on a nice weekend.

Someone dear visited us and brought us a big poinsettia! Thank you! XO!

On Saturday, I went Bethel to see/participate in their Family Advent afternoon. What they do is this: the Sunday school kids and the pre-school kids come in with their families to do Christmas/Advent "crafts". (I put "crafts" in quotation marks, because gluing and coloring and sticking on, are not technically "crafts" in my book; but everyone is busy, and things look great for hanging up, when done. Some of these words of God hang in homes for a long time, no matter how little skill went into them.)

The crafts come from the Oriental Trading Company, where everything is pre-cut, etc., minimal work required. This way an afternoon such as this is quickly organized and cleanly executed (other than getting the glue and paint off the tables afterward; paper underneath would work.) This can really be done any time of year, getting differently themed "crafts". Easter is the other time that this family craft afternoon is held.

Lots of families came in even with the bad weather. There also was coffee, a story and a video. All in all, it took about 2 hours and everyone was happy. I bought some of the left-over crafts to use in Bruderheim next Sunday, if we have kids.

I also went to see an elderly person had finally got the entire flight/refugee story straight. It is amazing how you can know a person for so long, but not have this kind of significant story in perspective. Live and learn. It's a slow process with us.

And, I went to the Sing Along Messiah at Concordia, which was mostly fabulous. One piece did not hang together. Oh, well. Lovely soloists. Great choir. Lots of men. (Many choirs don't have enough men.) Nice reception. See the gingerbread choir.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I'm going to cut out most of the blogging til the New Year. See some of the reasons in last post. Also I'm singing, and playing music a lot, and all women have a load of things to do at this time. I'll still read. Reading is easy. Do write and phone and come. Please, do.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with my family's favorite cookie recipe; I've got some dough resting in the fridge: Teegebaeck.

500 gr of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
make a well,
in the well put
150 gr sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
2 eggs
mix the stuff in the well
cut over top: 300 gr of butter
mix all together,
put in fridge to cool

roll out and cut shapes.

We like to cut two sizes round shapes
and put jam in between.
Dust with icing sugar when serving.
See picture.

Blessed Advent and Christmas season. Much love.

11 months

It is December and we are headed towards ONE whole year. I am not even going to talk about it.

I don't even feel like blogging. I just want to clean my house.-- That is a miracle in itself. I should make the most of that. And I'm reading the "At Home in the House of my Fathers". (see couple of posts ago.)

We received an invitation for next week to go to a special memorial service next week for all who grieve, including a children's message. I've been asked several times if we are going, I guess, so people can go with us. This sort of thing just wears me out, but maybe...

I'd rather not. But maybe we should.

We'll discuss it once more.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Video by Rebecca Wasser Kissling/" From Worthless to Priceless"/Christ-centered sanctity of life

Yesterday, I reviewed Rebecca Wasser Kissling's pro-life video.

Rebecca was conceived through rape at knifepoint from a serial rapist. She was adopted by a Jewish family, and became a lawyer involved in family law. She reunited with her birth mother after she was 18 years old and developed relationships with this side of the family. At some point she learned the Gospel and became a Christian. Her mother had tried to obtain a back alley abortion, but in the end bad weather prevented the second try at arranging one. She is very glad and treasures her life. She seems to have become an untiring speaker.

There are many amazing points in this story. What I came away with most is that how difficult it was for someone like herself to feel loved and worthwhile. We all struggle with that. We all want that. The woman, usually, looking for an abortion wants that. But what is it like to consider that you were conceived through rape?

It would be hard to fathom. She has a DVD available for $15.00 titled "From Worthless to Priceless". I think it is an apt title. This is what I got out of the video as well (different title, you can borrow it from me, if you still have a VHS player).

From worthless to priceless!!! What gave her this transforming view of herself??? She will tell you it was the Gospel. The whole story in the end is Christ-centered.

It sounds to me that having grown up the way she did and not hearing the news in her Jewish home, when someone took her to an event with a clear Gospel message, she was amazed and received it at once. The fact that God loved her so much, that he died on the cross for her was what she needed to hear all along.

This does not totally surprise the rest of us, who also live by this story, but it is enlightening and a wonderful thing to hear. You will know who and whose you are when you realize that your creator paid an immeasurable price for you. ("You were bought at a price" 1. Cor.6:20)

P.S. This story connects for me,too,to yesterday's discussion on Cranach regarding the "Manhattan declaration". Bror writes that it is the work of Christ that lends the sanctity to life more than being created in the image of God. There is a good insight, there. It seems obvious, when you think about it. "But it does effect politics in that it does or should make Christian recognize the dignity of human life. Which is not founded so much in the creation of man and woman in God’s image, as it is in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ."

Monday, November 30, 2009

"Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen"--"The night will soon be ending"

Advent/Christmas song by Jochen Klepper, Germany, during Nazi oppression.

You can purchase an MP3 of the hymn here, I've noticed while looking around. You can also just listen to it or parts of it. YouTube let me down on this one; so did the Wittenberg Trail.

This is one of my favorite hymns. It is just haunting and yet the words are sturdy and comforting. The text was written by Jochen Klepper in 1938; in the German hymn book it has its own melody by Johannes Petzold, written in 1939. The song is contained in the Lutheran Service Book, #337, but with a melody by Vaughn Williams, which is also gorgeous. Both the text and the melody are skillfully done and it all becomes more poignant when we recall Jochen Kleppers personal story of tragedy having been married to a Jewish woman during Nazi times and his committing suicide with her. He was then 39 years old.

I am only posting the last verse, because it seems to me that the text is not in the public domain in English or in German. However, you may purchase a Lutheran Service Book by following the link above.

God dwells with us in darkness
and makes the night as day;
yet we resist the brightness
and turn from God away.
But grace does not forsake us,
however far we run.
God claims us still as children
through Mary's infant Son.

I like the word "claim". There is so much to worry about and so much we think we need to do, but it is God who claims in his grace.

Still, the German version is a little different. Take the last stanza.

"Gott will im Dunkel wohnen und hat es doch erhellt,
als wollte er belohnen so richtet er die Welt,
der sich den Erdkreis baute,
der laesst den Suender nicht,
wer hier dem Sohn vertraute
kommt dort aus dem Gericht."

"God deigns to live in the dark with us, yet he made it bright.
As if he wanted to give out rewards (gifts), this is how he judges the world.
The one who built the earth (universe) for himself,
will not let the sinner be (abandoned to himself).
Whoever trusts the Son, here,
will get out of judgment, there."

Shall we not trust him and look forward to his coming?

Friday, November 27, 2009

To Rabble:

I don't know what kind of conversation this was supposed to be. Somebody comes to my blog calling me stupid and signs "love Rabble". Then somebody posts things like this below on another blog:

And then I'm supposed to go to other sites to find responses to what I've written here... Why would I do that? Am I looking for a "boss battle"? Hardly.

Forget it. I am not interested in games played by people posting anonymously on top of everything else.

Otherwise, if there is indeed such a person as "Rabble" in the Edmonton area, I'd love to take you for lunch; let me know. Otherwise DNFTT applies to this kind of blogging, I believe.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Churches in Schlesien/ Silesia--the Home of some of my Fathers

We've looked at my grandfather's picture before. (E. is for Erich, R. is my maiden name. I won't give it away here.) -- The German population is forced out of their homes en mass, never to return, including my grandfather and his children. His wife had recently died of typhoid fever. My Uncle Herbert explained a few things about the picture. See also the other post about the expulsion. This post is more about the church buildings.

There is a cross missing on the top of the page, on the tower. I've checked it out.

This is the story:

after the 30-years-war, Silesia came under Austrian Hapsburg's rule. The Peace of Westphalia dealt with all the particulars of the arrangements. Silesia became Roman Catholic.

This meant that Lutherans had only a very limited right to assemble and worship. In all of the region Lutherans were only allowed to have three "churches". They were to be built outside city walls, could not have any towers, and could be built only from wood not stone. Worship was to be at regulated times only. These churches were called the "Friendenskirchen" (peace churches) and were in Jauer, Schweidnitz and one other place.

These churches were constructed as quickly as possible to serve a huge portion of the population. Famously, they hold up to 8000 people at one time and are entirely constructed from wood. They still stand and were not bombed during WW II. They were handed over the the Polish population undamaged and now, ironically, also serve RC congregations. The towns have grown around them over time. As an aside, these buildings have become famous sites, so famous in fact that the Japanese television had a special broadcast about these churches this very month.

The buildings are interesting for the Japanese, since the Japanese also have very large wooden structures serving as places of worship. The famous Buddha by Kyoto (Nara) is located in the largest wooden building in the world. In fact, I have visited it with my sister, when she worked in Japan. Quite impressive.

So, most interestingly to me, one can find quite a bit of information on these buildings. One can also find information about the current Lutheran church in Poland, the information being mostly in the Polish language. This church calls itself the evangelical church of the Augsburg confession, which made me wonder if it was Lutheran-Lutheran or united with the Reformed. Since the site was in Polish, I could not figure it out, but my Uncle Gerhard says that they were forced-united at some point also, some century after the Peace of Westphalia.

This church in Jauer is the largest wooden church in Europe.

Now, about my grandfather's drawing and the large church behind those having to leave their homes: this particular building, after the Peace of Westphalia (1648), was another concession to the large group of Lutherans in the area. It was not a "Friedenskirche" (peace church) but a "Gebetshaus" (house of prayer), a category under which such places as synagogues fell. Again, you could not worship just when you wanted to. This building was also to have no tower under the regulations. However, at a later time the columns and the tower were added.

This "Gebetshaus" is also very large and the population had to travel from far and wide to attend services. Now, in my great-grandfather's time (late 19the century) even with village churches available by now, people still seemed to travel far distances to attend at this church in Wuestegiersdorf, so tells my Uncle Herbert. This is how my grandfather Erich, met my grandmother. They were from different towns. People would start traveling on Friday evenings (now I don't know which century we are talking about) to be able to attend church on Sunday in these large churches. The church in Wuestegiersdorf had a wonderful famous organ, to which organists from all over would make pilgrimage to play concerts on. This was a "Silbermann" organ, I am told.

At my great-grandfather's Julius' house people would tie up their horses when they had come a distance to attend church (obviously furthering the romance between my grandfather and grandmother). After church people would go ice-scating and some kind of sacks had been put on Julius' oven to warm up, so people could wear them when they went scating in cold weather. Some stories are told about these winter pleasures and socializing.

My Uncle Herbert was baptized and confirmed at this large church in Wuestegiersdorf. I don't know about my father. I'll have to ask. Uncle Herbert has been back to see the church and was disappointed to find the organ gone and the front of the church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The loss of their homeland is still hard for many of these people and a story that is rarely told. My Uncle Herbert knows the history of the area from his confirmation pastor and from traveling there numerous times over the years. He lives in Vancouver.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another ...

Another young man from Stefan's grade died in a car crash last month, just south of the High School at Namao. It has been reported to me that Stefan and Jesse were acquainted. I am just getting around to sending something off for the family. They live just north of here. I just was on the net looking for the right spelling of his name. That's how you get this post.

Yesterday, the emergency team from Gibbons was at the door selling raffle tickets so they can buy a new unit. (Does the government have such little money?) I told the young men about my son's accident and they said they had attended it. -- The one with the water truck. Yup, that one. They were sorry. I should have thanked them, but it did not occur to me at the time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"At Home in the House of My Fathers", 2

This is your last sample from the book. Then you might decide to get your own copy. For more info see previous post.

While driving to Bruderheim and back, I read this one to Martin:
"Encouragement for Lonely Preachers and Teachers."
by Pfotenhauer, 1894. District address Minnesota and Dakota district. (district president, 35 years old)
Eight paragraphs from pages 700-706.

...The goal of my address shall be to encourage us anew to true steadfastness, precisely at the post given us in the Lord's vineyard.

We preachers and teachers are stewards of God's mysteries. God has directed us, through a call, to the office in which we are to break the bread of life. He now desires from us that we be found faithful--nothing more, but nothing less, either. What is the nature of this faithfulness? It is first of all that we give to the soul entrusted to us by God what they need, and at the right time. Because of this we can always say, "Oh, that not a soul for which I am responsible be lost! Oh, that if only I should one day have to lay down my shepherd's staff, I can say, 'here are those whom You have given to me; I have lost none of them.'"

... Of the 360 congregations of our district, there are scarcely 25 that are exclusively city congregations. The attraction to the city, which we also more or less suffer as children of our era, cannot easily be satisfied. Aside from this, our wide area, which stretches over four states and three English (Canadian) provinces, is only sparsely populated. This area has a population of only 2.1 million. In Germany, Austria, and France, which together are about the size of our district, live 135 million people. Thus most of our preachers and teachers must live in great loneliness, far from their brothers in the office, without the conveniences of modern life with which our contemporaries squander away their days.

...So when one of our preachers expends all of his ability on the widespread and lonesome roads, traveling over unending fields of snow, in great danger and with great exertion, or when he sits at his desk to prepare for the next Sunday, it is easy for the tempter to suggest to him: "You work in vain, and your abiliteis are accomplishing nothing. In another district, under more favorable circumstances, you could make better use of your gifts. Here, your health is going to be ruined in a short time." When such toughts come, the prayer truly applies: "Lead us not into temptation."... And the teachers in our district have the same trials.

...To be sure, it often appears that because of the difficult circumstance, there is little for us to accomplish, but that is not so. A faithful steward will ever be crowned with rich blessings, though they be hidden from the eyes. Consider the work of the Lutheran preacher and teacher at the time of the Thirty Years' War, which truly presented far more difficult circumstances than those in which we work. Germany was completely depopulated. Daily, sword, hunger, and plague killed thousands in the most horrid manner. Churches and schools were burned to the ground; the remnants of the congregations were scattered in the forests.... Indeed, in spite of the appearance that the Lutheran Church would be completely eradicated, the Lutheran professors wrote comprehensive works under the duress of war... and they instructed young students of theology with great conscientiousness... Next to God's grace, it was due to the faithfulness of these men that after the thirty Years' War, the German nation, which had been reduced to two million, was not destroyed by bands of robbers, and that the Lutheran church still had roots below and bore fruit above. Their blessings have also flowed to us. They preserved for us the pure Gospel. We study their works and sing their hymns. The faithfulness of the first pioneers of our district, many of whom have already entered into the joy of the Lord, has been richly rewarded.

... When Elijah in weakness of faith wanted to set aside the office because he thought that he had accomplished nothing with his year-long preaching, God did not address him with harsh words. He came to him in a "still small voice," He revealed to him for consolation that 7,000 souls still remained in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Faithful stewards may also be consoled that God's eyes shine down upon them in a friendly and caring way. Precisely our dear traveling preachers, when they have been cast out into the wilderness, should not think that they are lost and forgotten. God keeps track of you. To Him you can also present your need with complete confidence when you think that you are about to succumb to loneliness and physical hardships.

... Now, to be sure, it is true, none of us can represent himself and say to God, "I have always been a faithful steward." When our occupation is viewed according to the Ten commandments, we must all confess that we have been unfaithful. But it is also true that we can be found faithful if we believe in Jesus. He who does not believe in Jesus Christ is an unfaithful servant, even if he were a tireless servant of his fellows in wind and weather. Be he who believes in Christ should know that his Savior covers all his unfaithfulness in the office with His faithfulness, and through His precious Holy Spirit, makes him ever more faithful. To such a teacher, standing under the forgiveness of sins and driven by the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit grants the predicate 'faithful.'

... Now, a very brief word in conclusion to you, precious congregational delegates! Even if our address dealt only with preachers and teachers, nevertheless, the same is intended no less for you. You should recognize anew that God desires that also congregations--no more and no less--seek faithfulness in their stewards in the same way. If a congregation forgets this and perhaps seeks in is preacher and teacher glorious, shining gifts that God has not granted to them, or asks nothing of whether or not they faithfully administer their office, the spiritual life in a congregation will soon wither, and all will decay. The congregation at Corinth, which made evil distinctions among their preachers on account of gifts, is an example of warning for all time.

Jesus Christ, however, the great Shepherd of the sheep, always grants to our district faithful preachers and teachers. And may He assist our congregations so that they not seek more in them than that they be found faithful. Then, in spite of the long winters and snowstorms, we will have constant summer according to the Word of the Scriptures, Song of Solomon 2, 11-13: "For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance." Amen.

We can try to imagine the hardships of those who traveled such great distances by horse, buggy and sled in all kinds of weather and temperatures. It was like this in Alberta not too long ago. Old Pastor Ohlinger used tell stories about this and had written a little booklet. Dr. Threinen has written a number of books on the era and history of the church.

I own a book containing Alberta stories. One of them tells in the most spell-binding way the trip that a school teacher took to get home for the weekend using a sled to get through the snow drifts and so on. It was hair-raising. When he finally got home, ironically, he had to turn practically straight around to make it back.

One starts praying really hard on those kinds of dangerous and lonely trips. There are no atheists in fox-holes, they say, and there are also very few among those who travel in hazardous conditions.

Tomorrow, I'll post about the picture a few posts back which my grandfather drew illustrating the expulsion of the ethnic Germans from Silesia in 1946. I asked around if the building in the background was a church, since the top of the picture is missing. Yes, indeed it is a church and a very large one in Wuestegiersdorf. The story also relates to the 30-years-war, and travel by horse and buggy. Yes, in 1894, when Pfotenhauer made his address to convention, my greatgrandfather Julius went to church there in Silesia. My uncle Herbert, who told me the story a week ago, was baptized and confirmed in this building. This church would have been the opposite of a lonely outpost.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New book: "At Home in the House of My Fathers" by Matthew Harrison

You can listen to a great interview with the author on Issues, etc.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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Read more and order here.

It arrived yesterday. Is is a huge book with a phenomenal amout of material in it never published in English before--800 large pages of documents. Oi! However, it is far from dry. I took it with me while waiting at the doctor's office with someone to check it out, and was determined not to deface it by highlighting and underlining. But: by the time I got to Francis Pieper's "The Fruitful Reading of the Writings of Luther", all my resolve crumbled. I will keep the book for myself and I will underline in it. I even read the whole document to Martin at night and enjoyed it together. Here are little quotes from the above mentioned Pieper talk based on Walther's theses (p.686,ff):

Bugenhagen saw Revelation 14:6-7 explicitly fulfilled in Luther. Therefore, this first thesis is of great importance. God holds Christianity accountable when it fails to recognize this man as the Reformer of the Church. We dare not think in regard to Luther: 'We could do the same. We could find the truth through diligent study just as well as Luther did.' No. When God fills His prophets with the Spirit and light, He does so for the common benefit of the Church. And woe to the Church if it does not make use of God's tool, but would rather pass over it. A church in which Luther's writings are not first of all studied by the pastors and then also, at their encouragement, by the common Christian certainly does not have Luther's spirit. And Luther's spirit is the pure evangelical spirit of the faith, of humility, of simplicity.

He is quoting Walther. I sympathize with Walther. Better, I should say "agree". Any of us who have come from Germany and heard the little bit of lip service to Luther by quoting just wee little sentence quotes, but never actually getting acquainted with him, and then found him after wandering lost in Pietism, will find him ever so much more the font of Gospel truth.

The polemic writings of Luther are now very much despised, but they are the greatest documents that have ever come from the hand of a man. They prove the truths of Scripture. They demonstrate Luther's great faith and his spiritual cheerfulness. Everything is well grounded. Luther speaks so robustly because he is fighting either the Antichrist or the miserable Schwarmgeister. Buttermilk and honey cannot heal all illnesses. There must also be bitter medicine. Luther raced a thousand-year-old oak tree of enormous girth. He could not cut it down with a penknife. He had to apply a powerful ax and sharp saw. Thereby Luther's heart would melt with grief for the poor souls that sat in darkness. Whoever is offended by this fiery zeal is offended at God, who chose such an instrument.

And a warning of misuse:

Merely invoking Luther's opinion is dangerous, when one thereby gives the appearance that faith is somehow dependent upon Luther's authority. The preacher must have already demonstrated the matter from God's Word, and then Luther can be brought to bear as witness...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Conscience Clause in United States and Interview with Wesley Smith

Both items are by: Wesley Smith, author “Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America”


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blood Money

Can't get this to fit. Anyhow. There is this new movie expose. It fits well with our thread of posts. We are clear that we are speaking about the United States. How things are different in different countries I do not know.

Why would ANYONE object to a woman taking time to discuss her options and delay in making a hasty panicked decision? Who complains about the cookies at the Back Porch? It can only be the "industry" itself. Who is Rabble? I'd like to know.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Post Abortion Syndrom or Relief?

What really are the consequences of abortion on a woman's psychological/spiritual health?

Who actually sees and speaks and cries with the women who have had abortions? Who actually spends countless hours and times speaking to the woman about God's love and forgiveness? Amanda and Pastor Erickson speak to this today a couple of posts back from their own experiences.

How could possibly what they write not be true? What pastor does not encounter this? What care center does not deal with the aftermath and the crushed women, men and grandparents? How many more never talk to anyone about it?

We've all listened to this song and been moved by it: "He would be sixteen." When I hear this song on the radio I always think: "If that is how the woman who placed for adoption and does not know her child feels (though open adoption is now widely available and records have opened up all around),--how does the woman feel who submitted to an abortion? More relief, or more stress in comparison?" Surely, it will depend on the individual person, but, how can this not haunt very many? They would be made from stone not flesh and blood. What is more embedded in most women's make-up than to nurture and love and be loved back? Why does this song resonate with everyone?

And why this vehemence about someone getting a last minute pause before taking an irreversible step they may have been pressured into or panicked themselves into? What if a cookie delays the decision or changes the course of events? What about it? Do you care about women? The only difference a delay makes is that the abortion clinics schedule was thrown off and maybe not as profitable. What other difference does it make? Whose interests are at heart in this complaint about cookies, of all things? Those "pesky, stupid" "anti-choice" idiots with their "fucking God" ruined our nice schedule for the day? This is not only "irrational", it is perverse and inhumane. Can't you see that? You are toying with things related to life and death, a woman's most natural instincts and needs and her psychological and spiritual well-being.

But this is where God does come in. If there is none then perhaps all the things listed in the last sentence are irrelevant illusions. Hence it can all be dismissed and denied. Still, human beings are not like that and the spirit does grieve and those individuals racked by guilt need a spiritual solution.

Rabble? Anyone else? What would you say to post abortion distress? What do you hear, see and counsel?

Monday, November 16, 2009

How "pro-choice" is "pro-choice" ?

In relation to the last several preceding posts. This was a recent story related to the economics of abortion industry.,2933,571215,00.html?test=latestnews

It reminds me a little bit about our involvement in the dental industry. I don't want to cast dispersions on the profession. But there are a variety of competing interests and always a variety of choices in treatment. There is the patient; there is counseling; there is informed consent; there is everyone's welfare; and there is profit; there are always judgment calls; and there is what insurance covers or not.

It takes strong individuals not to have the profit motive be number one concern. It is only human. Always take it into account. You are putting your welfare into the hand of people who run a business. Ethics are a huge thing that varies from organization to organization and individual to individual. Don't be duped and don't be rushed and don't be pressured. Get another opinion when you feel you need one.

TAKE YOUR TIME. Try praying,too. You might think and listen more and discover entirely different and surprising options. You might discover you have courage and hope and support.

Reposting of "Abortion and Health Care Costs in Alberta" and comment from Rabble

From Alberta Pro-Life

Campaign to de-fund abortion in Alberta Pro Life

In late August, Albertans learned that the provincial government has racked up a $7-billion dollar deficit. The day of the announcement happened to coincide with a meeting Alberta Pro-Life had with Premier Ed Stelmach’s Deputy Chief of Staff to discuss de-funding abortion under the Alberta Health Care insurance program. It was very timely. We were not making a pitch for money, rather showing the government a way of reducing $6-8 million per year. That’s how much the province paid last year for 12,195 abortions – virtually all of which were medically unnecessary. Less than 3% of abortions are required to save the life of the mother.

At a time when medically necessary procedures like MRI’s, the closing of acute care beds and long-term care beds, and other cut backs yet to be announced, it does not make sense to pay for abortions at taxpayers’ expense. We would like you to visit your MLA and ask that he/she support de-insuring abortion. Abortion is not a medical service, it is a booming business in Alberta. In the Capital Health Annual Report 2007-2008 The Women’s Health Options clinic (formerly the Mortgentaler Clinic) across the street from the Alberta Pro-Life office billed Alberta Health for a whopping $2,179,900 for pregnancy terminations. That is only 1 clinic in the province of Alberta. That does not include any of the abortions done at the Kensington Clinic or in any of the hospitals here in Alberta.

By now, every MLA in Alberta should have received the MLA Information Package prepared by Alberta Pro-Life. Our goal is to have every MLA in the province approached by as many constituents as possible to demand that abortion is de-insured. At a time when Alberta is experiencing its largest yearly deficit in its history, we have an opportune time to lobby to stop the cost of abortions being paid by taxpayers. If you are unsure who your Provincial MLA is, please go to contacts.cfm

Something else you can do…

Alberta Pro-Life hopes to move to the next step in our campaign for De-funding Abortion in Alberta. Our plan is to place a number of ads in various Alberta newspapers. As you know advertising is very expensive. If you find it in your heart to help out financially to help us get the word out about De-funding at this very crucial time, please forward cheques to Alberta Pro-Life, PO Box 11479, Edmonton, AB T5J 3K5 or call 1-877-880-5433

Church Bu
lletin Insert

For the month of October, 2009

Please consider inserting the following into your church bulletin for the month of October. NOW is the time. Our prayerful actions CAN make a difference when it comes


October is the month to pray, pray, pray. Alberta Pro-Life is in the midst of a provincial campaign, asking our MLAs to de-fund abortion in Alberta in 2009-10. Each year 1 in 5 Albertans are aborted with taxpayers’ money, with little thought to the damage it does to baby, mom and dad. Now is the time to de-fund this procedure, with so many proven harmful effects. Call your MLA and encourage them to take a stand – you can find their address at or call Alberta Pro-Life for more info 780-421-7747.

Bless you for speaking up on behalf of those who suffer as a result of abortion.

Comment from Rabble:

Rabble has left a new comment on your post "Abortion and Health Care Costs in Alberta":

For the love of your fucking GOD.
You people are stupid!
You can't not pay taxes for something you don't support. That's like going to the zoo and saying "Well I don't think tigers should be in captivity, so here's $15.50". Admission is $20 fuckers.
If you get to fucking opt-out of taxes for safe, legal medical procedures, then I get to opt out of the taxes that supply service to your churches, or your fucking Crisis Pregnancy Centers or hell to your house. Can I do that? Where on my taxes is the form that let's me tick off people and services I don't want funded by my money.

I also like how the argument is that is could save the system money.
Only, abortions don't go away. De-funding abortion does not magically erase the need for it.
In fact, restrictions do nothing to reduce abortion rates. Instead, they wind up being done in back-alleys, these procedures kill 70,000 women every year. They also cost the health care system millions.
Do you see how fucking stupid this is?

Reposting of commentary on the "Pro-Life conference 08" with comment by Rabble

This is the post I made some time ago.
Amanda Phillips of the Backporch would like to respond the the comment by Rabble.
Thanks to both Rabble and Amanda.

PS: Amanda has now left a clarifying comment in the comment section.
PS: Please, read the entire "Dear Rabble" series of posts for further context, clarification and items to respond to. Thanks.

On Saturday, I attended the Alberta Pro-life conference.

For me the highlight was a talk by Amanda, who co-ordinates the Back Porch project next to the Morgenthaler abortion clinic. What a courageous, warm and engaged young woman!

The Back Porch is a house with an office that welcomes people who want to speak to someone before they have their abortion. An attempt is made to refer for further counselling. Sadly, it is generally found that people have not had any counselling. They make their abortion appointment on line and then make their way to the clinic -- and that is it. Amanda was outraged at the amount of "choice" people have. She prefers to call pro-life efforts "pro-choice" as there are actually choices other than abortion offered.

In the same vein another speaker mentioned that when she was at the doctor for a pregnancy test and it turned out positive, the first words out of the doctor's mouth were: "We can take care of that." This lady was married and not in a crisis pregnancy situation, and yet this was what she had to hear. During the course of the pregnancy she was offered an amniocentesis eight times!

Such is the state of counselling and advice giving these days.

This is the comment I received from Rabble, yesterday.

Rabble has left a new comment on your post "Alberta Pro-Life Conference, May 2, 08":

I've heard of the Back Porch.
It's not a place that "welcomes people who want to speak to someone before they have their abortion". It's a thinly-veiled Anti-choice bullshit-machine.
You do know they feed the women in there right. Hot chocolate and biscuits all around. I bet you never wondered why. I think you might want to know that women cannot eat or drink for 6 hours before their abortion (just like any other surgery that involves a painkiller). This seeming act of compassion has made it so women who live out of town (since Options is the northernmost clinic in Canada) can't have access to a safe, legal procedure.
And as to your sob-story about counseling? Also bullshit.
You see, there are counselors inside the clinic. I know this will boggle your mind, but there are social workers, trained in counseling (which the people in the Back Porch are not) who make sure the patients are making the decision freely. They work to alleviate any concerns the patient may have (which Porchers don't do) and they do not push anything on the woman (which is vastly different from the Porchers).
So no, it's not "They make their abortion appointment on line and then make their way to the clinic -- and that is it". There's so much more to it than you will ever know. The woman inside the clinic is constantly counseled, before, during and after. In fact, if she is on the operation table, speculum inside her and the anesthetic running and suddenly decided she's not sure the procedure stops. Right there.
And lastly, you do know amniocentesis is a test to determine the genetics of a baby, right? Like to see if the baby has spinabifida. Or a post-natal-fatal version of Trisomy.
I know this will probably never get put up because you've chosen to censor your comments but that's cool, if you could handle truth, you'd look at facts.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

To Rabble re: abortion

This picture is of our adopted children. You can tell it was taken some time ago. We've always kept up and shared with the birth families. The children have always loved them.

Hi, dear Rabble, thanks for commenting. Your comments automatically ended up in moderation because they relate to posts more than 14 days old. The blog posts close after that.

However, I've just chosen to put the blog in moderation because I'm not going to have comments that say "your fucking GOD". Presumably you can discuss the matter without doing that. Also, if you could not call everyone "stupid", that would help. None of us are "stupid" here. We have different views, different lives, different experiences. And I don't mind vigorous discussion. I am just not going to post something here that just simply insults people, God or faith.

I'll try and address a couple of things you wrote, tomorrow. Thanks.

Expulsion from Silesia

My cousin from Vancouver faxed me this today. It was drawn by our grandfather Erich.
Also, see my other post about the church building in the background.

My father would have been motherless and 11 years old.
Everyone looks so chubby. They are wearing all the clothes they have. This is what Martin's aunts and uncles did when they fled by wagon.

My grandmother had just died of Typhoid fever which she had caught from Jewish individuals who had been released from concentration camp and who were living in their house for this reason. My grandfather remarried a lady from his town whose husband had been shot on the street at random. I gained four aunts this way.

Now you know why there are so many cousins.

My grandfather's paintings still hang in the old house inhabited by the Polish now. Sometimes my uncles go back there. This summer my brother went there for the first time. I would be curious, too.

This is a picture of my gradpa Erich and my grandmother, whom I've never met, but whom I resemble. (See my cheap IKEA frames all twisted.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Andrea and Thomas' wedding is on July 17, 2010, in Sherwood Park. Everyone is invited. Make your plans. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cooking potatoes tonight/ 10 months after

I'm cooking potatoes. They will be going into German potato dumplings for my visitors tomorrow, which will go fine with the pork roast. Now I gave away my menu. Oh, well. Dessert. I'm still thinking. Not too much. There is always left over and then we eat it.

It will be an emotional visit. We have to deal with Stefan's bikes.

I watched TV tonight at 8:00 pm on Global! I am starting to enjoy TV while going on the treadmill. I've shunned entertainment; didn't want it; couldn't stomach it all this time. Drama made me ill.

I liked the show! It was a Canadian production about a coast guard town on the West coast. It seemed pretty realistic. Everyone was divorced. Everyone had lousy parents. Everyone was drinking and going to parties. But there were consequences. The girl nearly got raped for going with stupid potheads. A young man died in a boating accident. Another needed CPR for hours. Someone got pregnant but the baby was loved. The ultrasound picture was fondled. The belly was held and the kicking baby felt. The dad wants to be involved, though she does not want to marry him. A body that was found was not a gruesome ax murder but a suicide. Somehow none of it seemed contrived.

This show was different from all those with gratuitous violence and gore, etc.. It wasn't "Seinfeldism", either, as Dr. Patrick calls it, where there never are any consequences.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where the New Perspective on Paul meets the Fabricated Luther? Witherington on Romans 7

Ok, people help me with this. I cast the Witherington commentary aside, last year, because I was mad about what he wrote about Romans 6 and 7. All wrong, in my opinion, (if it counts). After the the Love Live conference we were sitting together talking amongst many things about Romans.

This below is on Romans 7.14-25 form Witherington's commentary.

There is an ever-growing body of opinion, led by the reassessment of early Judaism offered by E.P. Sanders and his disciples, that Paul could not possibly be describing here the experience of a Jew as a Jew himself would have described it. If we take, for example, Psalm 119 as a sort of transcript of Jewish experience of the Law, Jews delighted in the Law and saw wrestling with the Law and striving to keep its commandments as a joy, even if such practice was always a work in progress. Nor will it do to suggest that Rom. 7:14-25 is how at least a very rigorous Pharisaic Jew, like Paul, would have described his experience under the Law, for in fact Paul tells us in Phil. 3.6 that in regard to righteousness in the Law he was blameless. As Stendhal says, the evidence is that Paul had a quite robust conscience as a Pharisaic Jew. It is true that Phil. 3.6 does not say that Paul was sinless or perfect, only that, according to the standard of righteous behavior the Law required, no one could fault him for being a law-breaker. Blameless before the law and sinless are most certainly two different things. Gal. 1.14 only further supports this reading, for in that text Paul says he was making good progress in his faith and was very zealous and excited about keeping the traditions of his ancestors. Furthermore, as we have said, as a Christian Paul also manifests a robust conscience, not a sin-laden one, if the subject is what he has done since he became a Christian. His anxieties are about and for his fellow Christian, not about his own spiritual state. This becomes especially clear in Romans 9 when Paul will say that he could wish himself cut off from Christ if it would produce a turning to Christ by many of his fellow Jews. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find any mea culpas of any kind in any of Paul's letters when he is describing his experience as a Christian, much less evidence that he saw himself as burdened by the body of death and the bondage to sin. Nor, if Paul when a Jew did not feel like other person described in Rom. 7. 14-25, is there any good reason to suppose that other devout Jews felt this way. It is time to stop reading Rom. 7.14-25 through the lens of Augustine and Luther, not least because it keeps fueling skewed views of both early and modern Judaism, which in turn fuel anti-Semitism.

Really now? The author of the commentary basically does not want to allow that Paul is speaking of himself in Romans 7.  Previously he came up with a fictional rhetorical device that makes this passage the talk of a non-Christian only.

I am sorry, that is turning the passage on its head.

Paul's anxieties are only for fellow-Christians-- is the other argument here. Yes, he sounds extremely unselfish in Romans 9, but that does not fit here. Other Christians may struggle, but Paul not? That would make him the ultimate Pharisee, would it not? Also, if Paul's salvation really did not matter, then no body else's does either. Witherington does not see a rhetorical device when he does not want to.

And does this bringing in of "skewed views of early and modern Judaism", which supposedly "fuel anti-Semitism" make any sense here,at all?

No, they don't. Witherington, I submit, as a Methodist, does not like what Paul wrote here. That's all. And Luther and anti-Semitism have to be dragged in here, whether fair or not.

He finishes the chapter with the "Bridging the Horizons":

Paul Achtemeier warns about Romans 7: "Those who seek to preach or teach this passage face the problem of overcoming the weight of the long history of interpretation which has distorted Paul's intention in these verses." On the other hand, in an age of not only biblical illiteracy but also ecclesiological ignorance, not that many people, even in the church, know this history of interpretation. It is not necessary to remove a burden of interpretation that does not exist, but it is important to give a modern audience a sense of caution about over-psychologizing the text and especially about using it as a way to deal with modern psychological dilemmas of moral impotence or schizophrenia or the like. Reading this text through the eyes of Freud is about as unhelpful as reading it through the eyes of Augustine or Luther.

If, however, one can convey the sense of the flow of the text and that it deals with a spiritual crisis in the life of the non-Christian described, then this text could be used in fruitful ways. For example, one could ask: What is the nature of conversion? What happens not only to one's worldview but to one's moral compass and willpower when one is delivered from the bondage to sin? If conversion is not merely a cognitive event, what are its potential benefits vis-a vis one's emotions, will, and conduct? But if one goes down this road, one must also be prepared to talk frankly about the potential tensions in the Christian life, the struggle between inner and outer self, between person and persona, between flesh and Spirit. If one loads too much into one's theology of crisis conversion, one will then have difficulty explaining the struggles of the subsequent christian life.

Honestly, I don't understand this last bit. Is he now allowing for the "struggles of the subsequent christian life" and what does he exactly mean by that? Something other than what Paul wrote, there, obviously, because he supposedly did not write this about himself or the Christian life.

I, for one, am glad that Paul included this: "I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." He is also talking about himself in the present. Could he be putting it more plainly?

The simul-justus-et-peccator is exactly how this works. Witherington does not like simul-justus-et-peccator. I've asked him. And Luther and anti-semitism have to be brought in, instead of the genius of simul-justus-et-peccator.

Also Paul says: "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from the body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Again we note the present tense and the first person pronoun. I will not believe that Paul is not talking about himself in the present.

Is Paul already in Christ? Yes. His rescue will not be complete until he is separated from this physical body of death. The struggle remains, no matter his supposed "robust conscience". What is a "robust conscience" anyhow? Your conscience is either clear or not. Which is it? There is no middle thing. Paul is also a sinner and needs to rely on Christ every day of his life. He was strong. He was so strong he needed an affliction to keep him knowing God's grace aright. But God's grace he needed every day.

This is really, really important stuff. If we cannot adopt Romans 7:14-25 as the talk of someone who is in Christ also, we must certainly fall off the wagon to either pride or despair.

The other day, I saw a friend who told me how very guilty she feels about everything in her life. By the time she has gone from communion back to the pew she has already sinned again, she says. And I said, yea, and you even sin when you sleep. She said, yes, she'd done that, too. I explained the simul-justus-et-peccator to her and said that she really will never be in a position where she would not have to rely on the mercy of God, and would she think it would be a good place to be if she did not need it. That made sense to her. She will always and continually need to rely on the mercy of God. That's how it is. But this will come to and end, when this "body of death" is done away with.

Act of Remembrance

"They shall grow not old
as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them."

Response: We will remember them.

I think if I had died in some untimely fashion, or anytime, really, I would like at least that, to be remembered by those who knew me. Not grieved over forever, not flowers on the grave, but remembered fondly.

However, since I went to three ceremonies, I started praying the Lord's prayer into the silences. In the morning and the evening, first and last thing, I try to remember my God and what he's done, not the departed. I am starting to appreciate the commemorative items in the Treasury of Daily Prayer. One might learn to make simple prayers of thanks for those who've gone ahead.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Remembrance Day/Kristallnacht

Canadian Remembrance Day is being observed today in the schools and tomorrow in the larger ceremonies. I've been to two services already today to sing in the community choir. It was quite moving. The children brought in the flags and we sang "Oh Canada" and "God save the Queen", and the bagpipes played "Amazing Grace". The choir sang a "Dona Nobis Pacem" and "Remember my Song". Tomorrow will be the huge service in Gibbons and then I'll serving lunch at home. Tomorrow the whole large school gym full of people, including the local military, will also sing "Oh God our Help in Ages past".

Remembrance Day is a very big and serious affair in our area because of the Garrison close by and the Princess Patricia Regiment serving in Afghanistan losing soldiers all the time. The regiment is sitting at 133 lives lost from quite a small contingent.

Yesterday, Martin and I,--and Kathy and Larry and Gail--did attend the Kristallnacht memorial evening and concert. It was a very special event and we were glad we attended. Elizabeth's and the quartet's playing was phenomenal and the venue was excellent. I wish I had taken a picture or a video clip. Mr. Amnon Weinstein, Luthier (vionlin maker) (any relationship to "Luther" ?) was there in person from Tel Aviv, showing his new movie on the Holocaust violins and the quartet played some of the holocaust violins he restored back to life. The evening began with the lighting of candles and contributions from young people. Two prayers were said in Hebrew, which we did not understand.

I had to cry through the Yiddish Fantasy because it was so sad and beautiful. Another piece was composed in the concentration camp in 1944, the year the composer also perished. Amnon Weinstein himself lost 400 relatives in Vilna, Latvia. His parents and he survived having left for Palestine/Israel.

The event was very gracious, tasteful and a great tribute to the memory of the people who lost their lives, the violinists and their instruments. In a way the Jewish people are showing how remembering is done properly. One can learn much from it.

Just another thought about the picture with the family on the wagon a couple of posts ago. Elizabeth's (the pianist's) mother is on that wagon, too.

On another note, in Germany, as a girl I played in the church brass band. We went out to the graves once a year and played "Ich hat' einen Kameraden, einen besseren kennst du nicht." (I had a comrade; you could not have had a better one.)

In our families we did not lose any soldiers in the war, in fact, we barely had anyone fighting. The fathers were too old and the children were too young. We lost civilians, however, through sniper fire and disease, including my grandmother Selma, whom I've obviously never met. (We all look like her. Strong genes.)

Martin's father was drafted at 15 years old, being the oldest in the family of 10 children. My oldest Uncle was in Russia, that's it. My father's father was in France for a while during WWI. He talked about sharing cigarettes with French soldiers on the bridge. I don't think he saw much action.

All of it, of course, made me think of Stefan, too, though no soldier or concentration camp victim, also lost his life so soon. I am coming around to the remembering. At first, you are just trying to protect yourself. Each memory is like a knife in the chest.

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009: 20 years collapse of the wall, 71 years Kristallnacht

The celebration of the fall of the Berlin wall coincides with the date of Kristallnacht, which apparently is called Pogromnacht in the German media. Some of the pictures are from the Tagesschau (see sidebar).

Who would have believed any of these things could happen? Sometimes we think the Bible tells outrageous stories, but look at our world. The Jews suffered unspeakably. And the German population suffered, too. I don't quite know how our grandparents made it through flight and collapse, death of spouse, looking after orphans. But there were not many choices. You can only put everything in the Lord's hands. If you die, you die, if not, then not.

"For I know the plans I have for you... to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. This word still echoes into all our fears.

PS: on that wagon sits the mother of one of our Lutheran Church Canada pastors. Picture taken in Poland.