Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making the sign of the cross / two links

I think these two links about making the sign of the cross are very good. -- I've also come to making the sign of the cross later in life, having been raised on the thought that only Roman Catholics do that and they are a superstitious lot.  And I have to say that Luther's and Lewis' points are well taken.  There is something objective about the action which makes it kind of sacramental, though you do it by yourself.  But you don't really do it by yourself.  In the remembrance of your baptism you remember and feel the inclusion you have and enjoy in the baptized membership and blessed body of Christ, the church, his presence with you in this very moment, whether happy or sad, the reality of your acceptance and forgiveness, the hope for the future, which belongs to us by birthright, through baptism, together, baptized into his death.  It is a great comfort and it is good to talk about it.

Reading Chesterton on the I-Pad

My dear new I-Pad has delivered to me a complete library of G.K. Chesterton, free of charge. -- Only I can't handle the book and abuse it with underlining and such.  I don't know if I can deal with that in the long run.  It's like being in love relationship at a distance.  Proximity is what is desired.  I want to hold the book so badly. Anyhow,  I need to keep this quote below:

From:  Eugenics and other Evils. Chapter 3.  The Anarchy from Above.

A government may grow anarchic as much as a people... Take for the sake of symbolism those two great spiritual stories which, whether we count them myths or mysteries, have so long been the two hinges of all European morals.  The Christian who is inclined to sympathize generally with constituted authority will think of rebellion under the image of Satan, the rebel against God.  But Satan, though a traitor  was not an anarchist.  He claimed the crown of the cosmos   and had he prevailed, would have expected his rebel angels to give up rebelling.  On the other hand, the Christian whose sympathies are more generally with just self-defense among the oppressed will think rather of Christ Himself defying the High Priests and scourging the rich traders.  But whether or no Christ was (as some say) a Socialist, He most certainly was not an Anarchist.  Christ, like Satan, claimed the throne.  He set up a new authority against an old authority;  but He set it up with positive commandments and a comprehensible scheme...

Anarchy is that condition of mind or methods in which you cannot stop yourself.  It is the loss of that self-control which can return to the normal.  It is not anarchy because men are permitted to begin uproar, extravagance, experiment, peril.  It is anarchy when people cannot end these things.  It is not anarchy in the home if the whole family sits up all night on New Year's Eve.  It is anarchy in the home if members of the family sit up later and later for months afterwards...  It is this inability to return within rational limits after a legitimate extravagance that is the really dangerous disorder. The modern world is like Niagara.  It is magnificent, but it is not strong.  It is as weak as water--like Niagara.  The objection to a cataract is not that it is deafening or dangerous or even destructive;  it is that it cannot stop.  ...  The State has suddenly and quietly gone mad.  It is talking nonsense;  and it can't stop.

... It multiplies excessively in the more American sort of English newspapers.  When this new sort of New Englander burns a witch the whole prairie catches fire.  These people have not the decision and detachment of the doctrinal ages.  They cannot do a monstrous action and still see it is monstrous.  Wherever they make a stride they make a rut.  They cannot stop their own thoughts, though their thoughts are pouring into the pit.

...But the vital point to which to return is this.  That it is not necessarily, nor even specially, an anarchy in the populace.  It is an anarchy in the populace.  It is an anarchy in the organ of government.  It is the magistrates--voice of the governing class--who cannot distinguish between cruelty and carelessness.  It is the judges (and their very submissive special juries) who cannot see the difference between opinion and slander.  And it is the highly placed and highly paid experts who have brought in the first eugenic law, the Feeble-Minded Bill--thus showing that they can see no difference between a mad and a sane man. 

That, to begin with, is the historic atmosphere in which this thing was born.  It is a peculiar atmosphere, and luckily not likely to last.  Real progress bears the same relation to it that a happy girl laughing bears to an hysterical girl who cannot stop laughing.  But I have described this atmosphere first because it is the only atmosphere in which such a thing as the Eugenist legislation could be proposed among men. All other ages would have called it to some kind of logical account, however academic or narrow.  The lowest sophist in the Greek schools would remember enough of Socrates to force the Eugenist to tell him (at least) whether Midias was segregated because he was curable or because he was incurable.  The meanest Thomist of the medieval monasteries would have the sense to see that you cannot discuss a madman when you have not discussed a man.  the most owlish Calvinist commentator in the seventeenth century would ask the Eugenist to reconcile such Bible texts as derided fools with the other bible texts that praised them.  The dullest shopkeeper in Paris in 1790 would have asked what were the Rights of Man, if they did not include the rights of the lover, the husband, and the father.  It is only in our own London Particular (as Mr. Guppy said of the fog) that small figures can loom so large in the vapour, and even mingle with quite different figures, and have the appearance of a mob.  But, above all, I have dwelt on the telescopic quality in these twilight avenues, because unless the reader realizes how elastic and unlimited they are, he simply will not believe in the abominations we have to combat. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A "Profane" Church

When we were in San Francisco, recently, we saw a man holding a sign that says "Jesus Christ loves you."   This mostly struck me because we don't usually have such demonstrations of religion in Canada.  It also struck me because I have an acquaintance in the United States, who seems to be something of a mystic or theosophist who objects to such taking religion outside of the sanctuary, calling it profane, insisting that such demonstrating and confessing turns people of religion and off the faith.  Similarly, he likes to call scripture quoting "profane" because the word is supposed to be something more living or arising out of dialogue, etc. (see also the last post and YouTube link).  It needs to be more "innovative", with "innovative" being something like a synonym to finding a synthesis of ideas, which, yet, somehow, miraculously, is not a "compromise."

Well, I read this in the current Canadian Lutheran.  Volume 27, Number 5, p. 6.  Also: 

Luther goes on to explain his concept of the church's missionary role:  "He [the Holy Spirit] has a unique community in the world.  It is the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit reveals and preaches that Word, and by it he illumines and kindles hearts so that they grasp and accept it, cling to it and persevere in it.... Until the last day the Holy Spirit remains with the holy community or Christian people.  Through it he gathers us, using it to teach and preach the Word.  But it he creates and increases sanctification, causing it daily to grow and become strong in the faith and in the fruits of the Spirit."   Luther speaks in terms of this "unique community" as a "profane church."  Not "profane" in the sense of the church being crude or using gutter language, but "profane" in the Latin sense of the term, meaning to "move outside the temple."   There is a temptation for Christians to insulate themselves from the evil world in which they live or to make Sunday worship the end goal of what they say and do, but Christians are to "move outside the temple."  The Holy Spirit not only "calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies" us  by the Gospel, but He sens us as His missionary people into the world.  Commenting on 1 Peter 2:9, Luther says, "We live on earth only so that we should be a help to other people.  Otherwise, it should be best if God would strangle us and let us die as soon as we were baptized and had begun to believe.  For this reason, however, he lets us live that we may bring other people also to faith as he has done for us."  Having been the recipient of God's overflowing love and forgiveness, the Christian delights in sharing Christ with others. 

Emergent Mysticism

I spend a good deal of time this morning, while doing housework, watching this lengthy but worthwhile video on my new favorite device, the I-Pad re: Emergent church. This phenomenon is not entirely new anymore, but the proponents of a universal mysticism are out and about on the net and I keep bumping into them everywhere. Either that, or I am drawn to this discussion / arguing like the moth to the flame. It's not that hard to spot the mystics, though they do cloak themselves in double-speak. After talking with them for a while, you are not allowed to quote the Bible or any established teacher of the church, nor is the cross the place for the forgiveness of your sins. It turns out that they are the "real" Christians because the are the modern, or post-modern, and especially loving kind of people, whereas everyone else is "medieval" or some other thing. I have spent many, many hours speaking with them but they want to silence anything that is "declarative." If you "declare" anything you are arrogant. So it goes. Some people say "Why speak with them?" -- Well, why not? Who is supposed to speak with them? When is something a complete waste of time?

Monday, November 19, 2012

God in the village

Here is a poem that I just read this weekend in my German hymnal. I will give it first in German and then translate it. No doubt my translation will lack something but, here it goes. I think it is such a lovely poem with great imagery, and I think it speaks to those who say that the church miniaturizes God. The author is Jossif Broskij, Russian poet and author, if it is the same guy I googled, “Joseph Brodsky”, who one a Nobel prize in literature. (I really have no idea if that’s the same person. Maybe someone knows.)

“Im Dorf wohnt Gott nicht in den Zimmerecken nur, wie Spoetter meinen, sondern ueberall. Er heiligt Daecher, Teller, Schuesseln, Pfannen, teilt ehrlich jede Doppeltuer in Haelften. Im Dorf ist Gott im Ueberfluss vorhanden. Im Eisentopf kocht er am Samstag Linsen, er taenzelt leicht verschlafen ueberm Feuer und winkt mir als dem Augenzeugen zu. Er setzt die Zaeune, gibt ein junges Maedchen dem Foersterssohn zur Frau, und spasseshalber laesst er schier tausendmal den Wildhueter nicht treffen, wenn er auf die Ente anlegt. Die Moeglichkeit, dies alles wahrzunehmen–beim Lauschen auf des Herzens Toene–, ist uebrigens die einzige Gnade, die im Dorf dem Atheisten offen steht.”

My translation, a better one is probably available somewhere.

“In the village,
God does not only live in the corners of the ceiling,
as many scoffers like to say,
but everywhere.
He sanctifies roofs and plates,
bowls and cooking pans,
and honestly divides every double door
into halves.
In the village,
God is found in great overabundance.
On Saturday, he cooks lentils in the
big iron pot.
He dances sleepily over the fire
and waves at me, as to a witness.
He sets up the fences and gives the
son of the forest warden a nice young
woman for a wife.
And for sure playful fun he lets the
game warden miss the duck he tries to
shoot about one thousand times.
The openness to recognize all these things,
by listening to the sounds of the heart,
is by the way,
the only grace,
which is open to the
atheist in the village.”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This weekend / plus Radway Charismatics

1.  This weekend is the Love Life 2012 Conference, and I'll be able to spend some time with the keynote speaker, Michael Coren driving him around to places and going to dinner.  This should be marvelous. (!)  (Have to clean the car this morning.)

We've been watching him a little, lately, on the TV show he hosts, and I've been trying to get his books read. He is an important Christian apologist in this country, hailing from England and being a convert to Roman Catholicism.  He has written biographies of Chesterton, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. (I'm trying to read more Chesterton having downloaded most of his books into our I-Pad.)

He will be discussing his recent books, on Friday, this one and this one.  See schedule.

So, I'll be signed off from here for several days.

2.  I want to save this article in our little local newspaper because we were somewhat close to this scene at the time.  As staunch Lutherans we observed this from the outside but were close to some individuals involved.  Thus this testimonial is significant to my husband and myself. I should like to read this book, sometime.  The review is well written, and I hazard that the author of the book wrote it himself.  See below:


Bruce Atchison of Radway has published his third novel.  This book, "How I was Razed;  a Journey from Cultism to Christianity," is a memoir of his recovery from the spiritual abuse he suffered while attending a cutlic house church.

It tells how he became enamored with a lay minister's teachings and prophecies in 1971.  So seductive were the doctrines of that self-appointed teacher that Atchison remained loyal to his church for more than 15 years.  This despite receiving continual criticism from church elders because prayers for his eyes to be healed remained unanswered.  Atchison is legally blind.

Eventually, Atchison became so upset at the actions of the elders that he left the house church.  He turned his back on Christianity for nine years, until he slowly realized that the theological cult's pseudo-prophet had taught him falsehoods, particularly about claiming healing in Jesus  name.  Atchison explained that a number of scholarly bible teachers and friends "deprogrammed" him by steering him toward an understanding of what scripture actually meant.  He learned to read the bible for all it is worth rather than accepting the opinions of charismatic preachers.

How I Was Razed is available for Kindle and Nook readers on line.  The paperback edition is sold through Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Atchison previously published "When a Man Loves a Rabbit" and "Deliverance from Jericho."  He lives in Radway with Mark and Deborah, his house bunnies.

(Sorry, I always have trouble when trying to change text color in Blogger here.  It tends to change the background instead.)

What happened at the time was that people from various small towns and churches would go out to the small town of Radway where a number of charismatic gifts were supposedly manifesting.  Many of the people involved belonged to the so-called Catholic renewal.  Someone from this group once tried to pray over me without asking me first, standing behind me with his hands raised over me.  Someone from this group got his fairly young children involved in casting out demons.  Some of these phenomena were once explored through the national media and the CBC, the broadcast of the story we happen to chance upon.  My husband and I warned the people, at the time, but when such spectacular things are happening (or not happening), your staid old Bible teaching, is just that to staid for them.  Unfortunately, the results for the families involved were not overall positive and many relationships deteriorated inside families and in the larger neighborhood.

So much until after the weekend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Augustana Graeca / Mystics.

Once in a while I need this link below on the Augustana Graeca -- on-line and in person.

 It is very interesting to read what happened between the Lutherans and their overture to the Orthodox in writing the Augustana Graeca.  (This can be googled further).  But this above link is an important entry by our friend Rev. Stuckwisch, which I refer to occasionally. For example, my husband and I have a dear Lutheran friend who was an Orthodox Priest before his wife left him.  (In Orthodoxy you cannot be a priest and remarried.)  He was so very surprised to hear of the Augustana Graeca for the first time so late in his life and career as an Orthodox and a Lutheran Christian.

Today, this is topical for me because someone countered me on a blog by saying that Luther tried to engage the Orthodox but that they would not have anything to do with an upstart.  However, the fact is that it was Melanchton who wrote this and that indeed some extensive discussions had occurred, at the time, which were, indeed, dropped by the Orthodox.

I am noticing that some Mystical/Buddhist/Universalist/ -- Word-deniers really, love to throw in Luther, Melanchton and Augustin to boot, in an unhistoric, untrue way.  They get away with this, because nowadays nobody knows anything about this stuff.  And when you correct them, they don't really care.  Facts don't actually matter when you are "experiencing" the divine.  They also don't like "lengthy" quotes, so really everyone is left in the dark, except for their own exceptional, deep, spiritual light, which, while it is only one way among many, somehow defining and restricting, anyhow.

It came to me this morning that when someone calls "The imitation of Christ" a mystical work and Christian, one should be very careful that we are actually dealing with Christ and not an "imitation" of him, i.e. the image we are creating for ourselves, that suits us, makes us feel something, etc.  Christ is a revelation of God.  "Hear HIM" said the voice of God.  If we are not dealing with his word we are dealing with an "imitation".

Delights From Utah

Our dear friend and brother Rev. Bror Erickson, mailed me some of the new translations of Giertz "Then Fell the Lord's Fire".  The book is a collection of Ordination Sermons by Bo Giertz.  (If you live around here and you would like one, tell me, but most of these already have recipients.  --  Order from here, at Magdeburg Press.  

Bror also sent me some of his pendants which he likes to make in his spare time, which I will enjoy wearing.  :)

In checking for info on Bo Giertz, on-line, I see that the Wikipedia entry is very sparse.  Someone might fix this.  Here is also a nice entry by Gene Veith, some time ago. 

Thank you very much Bror.  You are turning into what the Japanese call a "National Treasure" (those who keep alive important tranditions such as pottery, etc.), both with your translations and jewelry making!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Luther just lets in all the fresh air!

To make good people does not belong to the Gospel, for it only makes Christians. It takes much more to be a Christian than to be pious. A person can easily be pious, but not a Christian. A Christian knows nothing to say about his piety, for he finds in himself nothing good or pious. If he is to be pious, he must look for a different piety, a piety in some one else.

To this end Christ is presented to us as an inexhaustible fountain, who at all times overflows with pure goodness and grace. And for such goodness and kindness he accepts nothing, except that the good people, who acknowledge such kindness and grace, thank him for it, praise and love him, although others despise him for it. This is what he reaps from it. So one is not called a Christian because he does much, but because he receives something from Christ, draws from him and lets Christ only give to him. If one no longer receives anything from Christ, he is no longer a Christian, so that the name Christian continues to be based only on receiving, and not on giving and doing, and he receives nothing from any one except from Christ alone. If you look at what you do, you have already lost the Christian name. It is indeed true, that we are to do good works, help, advise and give to others; but no one is called a Christian by reason of that, nor is he on that account a Christian.

- Luther's First House Postil for Trinity 24 (Matthew 9:18-26)


Began listening to these proceedings in Great Britain regarding charitable institutions.

Mysticism / Apophatic / Dogma

Someone wrote this on a blog:

"Mysticism is an apophatic theological tradition–”knowing by unknowing.” There is a difference between knowing ABOUT God and knowing OF God. The first is conceptual, the latter is experiential.  Theology/dogmatic belief is faith seeking understanding, it is not faith. Faith and beliefs are complementary as long as the beliefs remain open to formation through new experience. It is dogmatic absolutism that is the enemy of trust/faith. Persons of mature faith have certitude, the conviction that God is Good and Loving even when circumstances inflict pain and suffering. In the words of Job, the prototypal OT example of faith, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Certitude is the opposite of the certainty that God will always grant a temporal deliverance. Certitude comes from realizing that, although temporal existence is a relative good, Eternal Life is the Ultimate Good and that is what the Gospel promises."

This seems to me a blending of some scripture (Job) with Buddhism, where everything is about dealing with suffering and escaping it. The "apopathic" tradition, is brought up in contrast to the "dogmatic."  "Apopathic" apparently means the not knowing, the negative.  Instead of saying something about God, it says "I don't know this about God." 

It reminds me of the Chinese Christians I got to know recently.  They said to me:  "Confucius was a philosopher.  Buddah was a philosopher, etc...  None can tell you anything that's true about God.  But Christianity teaches the truth about God". (!)  --  It seems strange to me that one half of the world is just learning to know things about God, that they want to know, and the other half seems to want to reject what they have been taught about God.-- And what motivates us?  Always our own belly and / or glory.  In this way the dogmatic people can be the oppressive ones, but I accept all Ways, I am open to new experiences, I am (whatever it is you think is better about your approach)...

I wouldn't be surprised if followers of apophatic traditions consider others, as discussed last post, as "shallow" or "profane", or "imbecilic" along with not so charmingly dogmatic.  It is all looking to belong into one pot.  If I don't like this revelation of God, if I don't like the moral law, if I don't like redemption by the cross, I will go with the apophatic and call everyone else something unflattering. 

We, of course, know, that God is completely other, that he is hidden in many ways, absconditus and behind masks.  Luther talks about this aplenty.  Even we ourselves in exercising our gifts through our work are working on his behalf.  And as body and soul is not to be separated, neither is word, dogma and experience.  We know that.  But something else is being expressed in the quoted passage.  And as far as it goes against the theology of glory, it is also constructive. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

This week / shallowness

It was a rough week weather-wise.  The roads were a disaster with ice and snow and hardly anyone we know did not do some damage this week.  My husband, for one, ended up in the ditch with his truck as it spun around on ice.  I've been crawling around in my new four-wheel drive at super-slow speeds and managed to get to places without harm.  But it seems the wrong thing to do.  One should be able to stay home when it is this bad.

What is on my mind is a conversation I had with a young person, well not as young as that person used to be--still pretty young to me--and it seemed strange to me.  This person is well educated, talented and in some respects brilliant.  And he (ok--it's a "he") is very aware of himself, feels old and complex beyond his years and feels other people are "shallow."  

This whole line of thinking reminds me of someone else I've known in recent times, also a "he", educated, talent and in some respects brilliant.  He thought other people "profane".  Then there are famous people like Goethe and Emerson who always talk about "genius", as opposed to "imbecile."

This all drives me fairly rank.  I'm not really stupid myself and intelligent people have called me intellectual.  But there is so much I don't know and so much I don't understand, and there are things other people know and understand which I want to know more about.  I have never called any other person "shallow", "profane" or "imbecilic".

Well, I call some people selfish, egomaniac and my favorite -- "malignant narcicissistic".  Yes, I see them behind every bush.  Well, no not really.  I only know a couple in real life and then there are the famous, historic ones:  Stalin, Joseph Smith, Hitler, and so on.  Probably Swedenborg, too.  Well, yes, no doubt, I shall call him malignatly narcissitic, also. -- There, I've done it again.

What about the shallow and profane?  People who are quite artistic seem to call this people who are not so artistic.  Of all the human abilities and strengths and tasks--why is the artistic the most defining one for "genius", "profanity" or "shallow-ness"?  It seems rather arbitrary and self-congratulatory (or narcissistic).

I suppose a genius, perhaps, needs to invent something, create something new.  But some of our famous geniuses don't seem that genius-like when one gets beyond the glitz and accolades.  And come to think of it, I have called gifted people geniuses who have not invented things, they have simply spoken the bon mot into the situation.  It was nothing new.  It was only the right thing at the right time.

Walther was a genius, he applied Law and Gospel the right way and wrote a fantastic book about it, even though he is accused of only ever quoting people.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Love Life Conference promo video clip:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Be Kind

What's worse Heresy or Schism? / Fundamentalism and Modernism

"Has anyone ever heard of Schleiermacher? -- No?-- May it stay that way!!!"

Repenting of "Love".

 "The deepest appeal of secular morality is its role in the formation and preservation of 'love relationships.' How do we know that we love? There is no other way but to reach deep into ourselves and consult the inner voice, which is not the voice of reason but the voice of feeling. We succumb to that inward self so completely that we feel that we have lost control. We don't love, but are 'in love,' and we are now not entirely responsible for what we do. Love is the sin for which we find it almost impossible to repent. That is why Paolo and Francesca, the two adulterers who inhabit the outer ring of Dante's inferno, still cling together like doves, appealing to the law of love, "Which absolves no one from loving." (Dinesh De Souza in "What's so great about Christianity?", p. 260)

Someone I spoke to recently, felt that God was leading that person to the place where he succumbed to a number of vices once more, including another extramarital sexual relationship.

That person was not too keen to be told that this was not God's doing and will, it seemed so contrary to feeling.

This brought back this quote to me.  --  No dearest, it is NOT God's will.  It is NOT, NOT, NOT, NOT.

Law and Gospel / Walther

A long time ago I read Walther's Law and Gospel;   now, I have the new version in hand and will have a look at it.

Right in the introduction, I want to note something:

Walther is often criticized as being a "citation theologian."  A glance at Law and Gospel and almost any other work by Walther other than sermons would seem to support this view.  Walther readily acknowledged that it was true, and he made no apology for it.  He was content to sit at the feet or stand on the shoulders of those who defended biblical teaching.  Walther always began with proof from the Word of God (Beweis aus Gottes Wort).  Then followed the witness of the Church in its official confessions (Zeugnisse der Kirche in ihren offentlichen Bekenntnissen).  Then followed the witness of the Church in the private writing of its teachers (Zeugnisse der Kirche in den Privatschriften ihrer Lehrer).
Of the teachers of the Church, no one outranks Martin Luther.  Walther was convinced that a knowledge of Luther was necessary for both pastors and laity in the Church.  (p. ix)

I am greatly comforted by this man's fidelity.  He worked tirelessly and accomplished to most solid and enduring results.   This is really the main thing I strive for in my own life:  fidelity.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Parental involvement in education

Parental involvement and talking with a child is a high predictor of achievement.  Important points.


I've started a job. It is very physical for my standards, involving standing and walking much of the day as well as some moving of boxes.

I haven't got much reading done, lately, but lost four pounds of bodyweight so far.  This is good.

Since there is only so much time to read, I will have to limit myself to the most important books.  This will probably turn out to be a blessing, also.

Obama won tonight.  My prayers are with him.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reformation 4

Interesting contribution on Luther via Evangelical self-criticism. Some important things are missing, but at least there is this and it is well written: