Thursday, May 30, 2013

Crucified Again / Persecution of Christians in Islamic countires

When I grew up, in Germany, on the second TV channel (Zweites Deutsches Fernesehen, ZDF), there were weekly programs highlighting the plight of those dissidents who were persecuted behind the iron curtain.  Many suffered in prisons, the gulag, mental hospitals, and died.  Certainly, many Christians and pastors suffered unspeakably.  As a child, this was the sort of thing of nightmares and worry, along with all the war stories and the nuclear arsenal, etc.  Also, as Christians we used to consider what kind of persecution we would be able to stand, and we often said it was important to memorize things because you did not know who might deprive you of liberty and your books.

It seems incredible that in this day and age of media saturation, that we hear so little in the public sphere regarding the sharia revolutions underway all over the place and the intense suffering, persecution and displacement of millions.  We will have our nightly dose of drama, which must include at least an episode of murder or adultery at least at the rate of one every five minutes, but we will not face the suffering imposed by a totalitarian religion on the vulnerable, peaceful and easily duped.  Just look at that man in the last post who converted to Islam on the street.  What kind of Muslim will he be.  Certainly he is being exploited from the get-go by the posting of this video...  What will be next?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spiegel edition about faith and conversions to Islam.

Also see a sample conversion on Youtube.

Keeping the Sabbath by hearing and learning God's Word.

So much depends upon God's Word. Without it, no holy day can be sanctified.  Therefore, we must know that God insists upon a strict observance of this commandment and will punish all who despise His Word and are not willing to hear and learn it, especially at the time appointed for the purpose.

It is not only the people who greatly misuse and desecrate the holy day who sin against this commandment (those who neglect o hear God's Word because of their greed or frivolity or lie in taverns and are dead drunk like swine).  But even that other crowd sins.  They listen to God's Word like it was any other trifle and only come to preaching because of custom.  They go away again, and at the end of the year they know as little of God's Word as at the beginning.  Up to this point the opinion prevailed that you had properly hallowed Sunday when you had heard a Mass or the Gospel read.  But no one cared for God's Word, and no one taught it.  Now that we have God's Word, we fail to correct the abuse.  We allow ourselves to be preached to and admonished, but we do not listen seriously and carefully.

Know, therefore, that you must be concerned not only about hearing, but also about learning and retaining God's Word in memory.  Do not think that this is optional for you or of no great importance. Think that it is God's commandment, who will require an account from you about how you have heard, learned, and honored His Word. (Romans 14:12)

Likewise, those fussy spirits are to be rebuked who, after they have heard a sermon or two, find hearing more sermons to be tedious and dull.  They think that they know all that well enough and need no more instruction.  For that is exactly the sin that was previously counted among mortal sins and is called akadia (apathy or satisfaction).  This is a malignant, dangerous plague with which the devil bewitches and deceives the hearts of many so that he may surprise us and secretly take God's Word from us (Matthew 13:19).

Let me tell you this, even though you know God's Word perfectly and are already a master in all things:   you are daily in the devil's kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14).  He ceases neither day nor night to sneak up on you and to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against these three commandments and all the commandments.

Therefore, you must always have God's Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears.  But where the heart is idle and the Word does not make a sound, the devil breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware (Matthew 13:24-30)  On the other hand, the Word is so effective that whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, it is bound never to be without fruit (Isaiah 55:11; Mark 4:20).  It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts (Philippinas 4;8).  For these words are not lazy or dead, but are creative, living words (Hebrews 4:12).  And even though no other interest or necessity moves us, this truth ought to urge everyone to the Word, because thereby the devil is put to flight and driven away (James 4:7).  Besides, this commandment is fulfilled and this exercise in the Word is more pleasing to God than any work of hypocrisy, however brilliant.

(On the third commandment.  Luther's Large Catechism).

Monday, May 27, 2013

I am Jesus little lamb

To save a lamb.  Wow.  It would hardly seem worth it.  The Lord's thoughts are higher than ours.

And do we really think we are in such mortal danger?
And do we really think we need someone to take action on our behalf?
And do we really think we are so weak?
And do we really think we are so helpless and dead in the water?
And do we really think we can't help ourselves?
And do we really think we have such a shepherd?
And do we really think he has accomplished all?

Malaysia, care of the aged

This is a video showing how, with all the changes in society in Malaysia, no provisions have been made for the care of the aged, as families are increasingly unable or unwilling to care for their geriatric members.  This video is in German language.  It really makes one think about many things more deeply.  It will make an impression even without the words.  Elderly have been abandoned to themselves, to hospitals, to the care of strangers who out of the goodness of their hearts put them all together in one big room to help each other best they can (which is not very good).

One thing that resonates with me is the parallel to grief.  In some ways, grief isolates you like these elderly are abandoned and isolated.  Who wants to talk with you about your loss, your loneliness, your pain? What happened to family and friends?  How did you get into this prison of abandonment or frozen incompetence?  -- I know all this, and still, I too, don't want to hear all about someone else's grief, the never-ending, old stories of those who have nothing else going on in their lives.  It is no joke that the commandments about loving people is at the first about honoring your parents before all the other commandments.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Translation into English of "Geh' aus mein Herz und Suche Freud"

I have made this translation and you may use it as you please.  (Also see collected Gerhardt translations here.)

1.  Go forth, my heart, and seek joy in this beautiful summertime, enjoying the gifts of your God;  look, see the beauty of the delightful gardens and see how they have decked themselves out for you and for me.

2.  The trees stand full of leaves and similarly the earth is covering itself in green dress;  the narcissus and the tulips are attired more beautifully than Solomon in silk.

3.  The lark is swinging itself into the air, the little dove flies out of its habitation and flies into the forests;  the nightingale delights and fills the mountains, hills, valleys and fields with her song.

4.  The hen leads forth her little folk, the stork builds and inhabits his house, the swallow feeds her young. The fast stag and the light deer are glad and come from their heights jumping down into the deep grass.

5.  The creek is rustling in the sand, and paints itself into the border with the shadows of the myrtles.  The meadows lie next to it and resound with the joyful cry of the sheep and their shepherds.

6.  The undeterred swarm of bees flies back and forth, and seeks here and there the noble food of  honey;  the strong juice of the grapevines is bringing daily further strength into its tender shoots.

7.  The wheat is growing with power. About this rejoice the young and the old, praising the great goodness of the One who feeds with such abundance and gives so many good gifts to the soul of man.

8.  I, myself, can't and don't want to keep quiet. The great deeds of the great God enliven all my senses;  I sing along as everything sings, and let flow out of my heart what resounds to the Highest.

9.  Ah, I think, if you are so beautiful here and show us such lovely sights on this poor earth, how wonderful it will be, after this world, there in the rich heavens and life in the golden palace.

10.  Oh, what a high pleasure and bright light there will be in Christ's garden!  How will it sound when so many thousand seraphim will sing their Halleluia with a firm voice and sound.

11.  Oh, that I were there, oh, to stand there, already, ah, sweet God before your throne, and carrying my palm:  I would adore your name in the manner of the angels with a thousand beautiful psalms.

12.  But at the same time, while I am still here and am bearing the yoke of this body, I do not want to remain silent;  my heart shall, as time goes on, bow itself, here and in all places, to your praise.

13.  Help me and bless my spirit with blessings that flow from heaven, so that I blossom to you;  grant that the summer of your grace will produce much fruit of faith in my soul.

14.  Make room in me for your Spirit, so that I will become for you a good tree and let me grow deep roots.  Grant that I might be for your glory a beautiful flower or plant in your garden.

15.  Elect me to your paradise and let me green for you into the least and furthest branches, in body and soul, so that I shall serve you here now and there in eternity--you alone and no other.

Some commenting on Luther posts, his "alleged anti-semitism" and his alleged approval of lying.

James Swan had some helpful posts recently on Luther, which I commented on.

To cross reference, they are:

On Luther and alleged anti-semitism.

On Luther and lying.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Geh' aus mein Herz"

Song by Paul Gerhardt, a favorite song of my mother.  I should do a direct translation, when I have a chance.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How could it happen / Tannhauser cancelled

A Nazi-themed production of the Wagner opera Tannhaeuser, which featured scenes of gas chambers and the execution of a family, has been cancelled after audience members had to receive medical treatment for shock.

Michael Szentei-Heise, the head of the Jewish community in Duesseldorf, said the production was “tasteless and not legitimate”. He said: “This opera has nothing to do with the Holocaust. However, I think the audience has made this very clear.”
In a statement, the opera house management said it was aware that the production would “arouse controversy”.

Apparently Nazi-themed Wagner operas are nothing new and people are fed up with them, according to some of the comments.

Because it is a Wagner anniversary year, since he was born in 1813, there are a number of new documentaries available on his life right now.  If one googles it, there is even a Wagner movie:

Personally, I am almost entirely unfamiliar with his music though I tried to watch Parsifal on Youtube the other day and got about 30 min. into it. But it is a fact that Wagner was very anti-semitic.  It needs to be faced and he was part of the spirit of the elites of the 19th century which paved the way for Nazism's new religion and outlook.  This sort of thing should be thoroughly examined and understood.  Perhaps the stunt at the opera will help with that?

This Spiegel article aims to deal with some of what I wish would get brought out, but what I've copied about below is about all we get.  It seems to be simply saying that yea, they were all kind of anti-semitic at the time and yea there is this German longing.  It does not do justice to the subject matter.

Wagner himself conceived his music as political. He didn't want to be merely an artist, but to build a new society, a society of the emotionally transported, of people who seek love instead of striving for money and power. His music was also a propaganda tool for this idea.
This was convenient for the Nazis, because they too used intoxication, ecstasy and overpowering images in their propaganda, such as at their Nuremberg rallies. In the Germans, they encountered a pronounced susceptibility to emotional turmoil and pathos, which is particularly evident in German Romanticism, in the poetry of Friedrich Schiller or the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. An essentially German longing permeates Wagner's music.

Today, commenting on his theory that Wagner was partly to blame for the Holocaust, he says: "Hardly any more so that the anti-Semites Hegel, Marx and Schopenhauer. An intellectual anti-Semitism was almost socially acceptable at the time."

To whom shall we go...

"One, who goes through the world and time, does not call like those who are selling on the market. He speaks to the heart, today, and gathers his people. And even if we'd rather just stand still, to whom shall we go? He gives us everything--truth and life." 

Juergen Henkys

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thinking about the thinking while knitting / Meditation/ No need to go to the Himalayas

The cowl featured in the last post is almost finished, due to the addictive nature of the knitting process.

While I was sitting there thinking the following over and over as I went:

"yarn over, slip one, knit two together, pass the slipped one over, yarn over, knit three,
yarn over, slip one, knit tow together..."

--for 210 stitches in the round, I realized that the state of consciousness I was achieving must be the elusive emptying of the mind that Eastern meditators try so hard to accomplish. It is completely mesmerizing.  I can go on for hours and not even think about food.  It is completely relaxing and yet completely absorbing.  I once read a book about a man from Canada who went to some Himalayan Buddhist monastery to learn to meditate.  The book might have been something like:  The Buddha laughs.  The Canadian sat there and sat there trying to learn to meditate and think nothing.  It was really tough and he got really constipated with all the sitting and eating of nothing much besides rice.

So my recommendation is, if you have trouble meditating and emptying your mind, try a long repeating lace pattern.  I am serious.   yarn over, slip one...   The repeating knitting instructions were my mantra.  The result was a cowl plus stopping the monkey brain, as they say.   It's a good thing, but at some point you have to stop and get some real work done.  It's hard to put the lace work down.  "yarn over, slip one..."

When women sit together over their handicrafts, it is also not so nicely called a "stitch and bitch".  In those sessions there also happens something akin to what my Quaker friend (enemy) says to me:  "We just sit together and when someone is inspired, then they say something." -- It's just like with the crafty women.  My sister-in-law from Swabia says in the village where she comes from this is called a "Vorsitz", which is a play on words.  A "Vorsitz" is mostly a committee meeting of important people, like the church or town elders, or in the olden days, the men sitting in the gate...  Now, with the crafts, the women sit outside in front of their houses, together, in the evening, getting this handiwork done and doing some gabbing, of course.  As I said in Swabia, that's the "Vorsitz"--a little nicer than "stitch an bitch", indeed.  The word  "Vorsitz" adds a certain playful dignity to the affair.

But, truly a lot of counselling does get worked on in such meetings--important matters of life and death and illness and faith and husband and children and cooking and the neighborhood...  They are very human and very healing get-to-gethers.  It makes one wish one lived in different times, where people sat around outside darning sock and such.  But no, we all have to go to yoga now.

I'm joking.  I wish I were in some kind of core strengthening exercise, now that my back is out. (Hexenschuss).  Only so much time for everything.  I will make some more cowls, but I will try to pace myself.  Two rows or 420 stitches only per day, now.  Self-control is in order.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Knitting Project

Here is my knitting project.  I purchased Balustrade pattern online for $5.00 and it is my first lace project.  I am finding it very suspenseful to see how the thing works out.  The silk and merino wool was cheaper from Amazon than my local shop.  I feel a little bad about shopping at Amazon for it.  Overall, it is a harmless hobby that is giving me relaxation and excitement at the same time.

People who have knitted Balustrade Cowl will note where I have gone wrong, right about row 10, where the ladder pattern was supposed to be off-set.  Oh, well.  I like it this way, too.

This winter turned out to be so long, though it seems over now, that I've begun to comfort myself with learning knitting skills.  I may have mentioned this before.  Youtube is really amazing for learning new practical tasks with the availability of so many demonstrations willingly shared by caring experts.  In the olden days, people might have kept some of their skills secret, seeing they had the better recipe than the neighbor... and other silly things.  What a boon for us.  We can just keep learning.

Some say that knitting is undergoing a revival because of Youtube.  Certainly, I will add knitting to my drug-free and calorie-free comforts. There really is a meditative quality to it.  People also come and talk to you, but because you are sitting there just busy with your hands.  This is interesting.

The top choice for drug-free happiness for me is usually singing, which is also more aerobic, therefore, actually is better for me...  Anyhow, the learning of new patterns must be good for the old brain, though the purchasing of fancy wools is also more expensive than singing.  Bottomline:  can't beat singing for anything, hands down.  You can do it anywhere and gives a free boost. Very portable, healthy and even infectiously joyful.  Or sad.  Whatever the mood that is required.

But knitting is teaching me other methods for having fun, for thinking, for relating, for gaining patience and wisdom.

"God Grant It" by C.F.W. Walther

Just to mention, my husband and I have been faithfully reading C.F.W. Walther's devotional this year, mostly on my husbands initiative--which means something.

C.F.W. Walther has so much to give and everything he says rings true also about our time, if not about ourselves.  My husband has become dependent on his daily dose of Walther before bedtime.  It calms him down and sets things right with the world.  The clarity of it all soothes his soul and the forward looking to heaven puts him on the straight and narrow in thought and feeling.  (Happy husband.) Some of the sections can be a little long and the translation seems a bit convoluted at times.  So we have taken to each reading it and then talking about it. ( Happy wife.)  There is so much meat, here, that Walther's book is a real essential part of the home library. --  Five stars.  :)

Find it at Amazon.
Find it at CPH.

God Grant It

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ascension Day, today.

As Lutheran from Hesse and Bavaria, this picture essay of Ascension Day celebrations resonates with me:

When I lived in very Roman Catholic northern Bavaria, there were often processions by Catholics in which we did not participate, but on Ascension Day even some of us had outdoor services.  Brass bands always came in handy when there were outside events, also at Remembrance Day...  Ascension Day is always on a Thursday and it always was a statutory holiday, generally also featuring beautiful spring weather.

My new hymn book has five Ascension Day hymns in it and a verse:

Matthew 28:20
Jesus Christ says:  "See, I am with you all days until the end of the world."

And the first hymn, "Gen Himmel aufgefahren ist..."  which is one we always sang goes like this:

Risen to the sky (heaven),  Halleluia,
has the king of glory, Jesus Christ, Halleluia.

He sits at God's right hand, Halleluia,
and rules over all heavens and lands, Halleluia.

Now has been fullfilled what was written, Halleluia,
in the Psalms about the Lord Christ, Halleluia.

(Psalm 47,6; 68, 19; 110,1)

Therefore, we rejoice with great noise, Halleluia,
to the praise of the Lord Christ. Halleluja.

To the Holy Trinity, Halleluia,
be praise and honor to all eternity. Halleluia. 

Melody by Melchior Frank, 1627. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Confusion of Terms

Lies are Truth.  Myths are Truth.  Love is Hate.  Hate is  Love.

I don't think we are served by this sort of thing.

Isaiah 5:20.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, 
who put darkness for light and light for darkness, 
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Morning Song. "Schon bricht des Tages Glanz hervor." Translated.

Here is a morning song from the hymnal I just mentioned in the last post.

It was written by Jochen Klepper and I've never sung it before now or heard it sung anywhere else.   It does not seem to have been produced for Youtube, either.

It is found on page 807 and I will translate it for you.  The melody is very simple and plain chant style.  Apparently it comes from the 9th century, according to the Latin hymn "Iam lucis orto sidere", which maybe also is the same text, as it lines up with the title of Klepper's hymn.

The title is "Schon bricht des Tages Glanz hervor."

Already the brilliance of the day appears,
full of humility let us beg of the Lord,
that in all that may occur to day,
he would protect us from all harm.

May he keep our lips from sin,
may no discord distance us from each other.
May he open our eyes,
and show us what is vain and selfish.

Wrestle for the cleanness of the heart,
lay down  all hardness.
Bend and break the pride of the flesh,
and use appropriately our food and drink.

So that, when the sun goes down,
and the darkness envelopes us again,
and we lay down the burdens of the world,
we sing praises to Him in the heavens.

Praise be to the one, who is our Father,
and to his Son Jesus Christ,
and to the Spirit, also,
who grants us comfort,
in the past, now, and forever.  


Hymn Book

I just want to mention one more time this really very good hymn book.  It is the latest state church hymnal from the ev. luth. church in Germany.  It looks very modern, has a size and thickness for holding, is color-coded and besides the hymns contains many images and poems.   I picked it up last time I was in Aschaffenburg.

Here is a link which also has a review I wrote as Simul.

Recently, at a music workshop at Concordia, someone had brought back the Posaunenchor book (brass band book) to go with the hymnal.  It has the same kind of cover and is obviously co-ordinated with the hymn book.  I have not yet tried to locate it on Amazon.

Just because it's spring and I feel like it I will add a of pictures of this trip.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Knowing the Great Books

But the tide has been turning. Last week, venerated, yet controversial 80 year old classical scholar Donald Kagan gave his fare-well address at Yale University, reiterating themes from the 1990s, when as Dean of Yale College, he was called a "racist" and criticized on campus as "peddler of European cultural arrogance." This time the reaction was quite different.

In his overview of the state of American universities, Kagan declared: “I find a kind of cultural void, an ignorance of the past, a sense of rootlessness and aimlessness.” He accused faculty of lacking “an informed understanding of the traditions and institutions of our Western civilization and of our country and an appreciation of their special qualities and values.” The students responded with a protracted standing ovation.

Warning of democracy’s fragility, Professor Kagan called for schools to adopt “a common core of studies” to convey the history, literature and philosophy of western culture to students.

Such “core” texts sometimes are referred to as the Great Books — the Bible (and now the Koran), Aristotle, Shakespeare, the American Constitution in the U.S., Canada’s founding debates here — summarized in Matthew Arnold’s words as “the best which has been thought and said.”

One of the most intelligent people I have ever met, a scholar, a teacher, a pastor and a university president said to me once that there are "no scholars in America. "

I wasn't totally sure what he meant, but I think this is the sort of thing we are talking about.  It has become unnecessary to be acquainted with history with the great books with comparative religion with languages...  


Sunday, May 5, 2013

First nice Sunday of the year / "Hexenschuss".

We have finally got some pleasant weather, today. --And I am laid up with a bad back.  In German we say:  I have a "Hexenschuss"--a "shot from the witch".  This obviously is some medieval expression, but quite fitting.  It does feel like someone just shot something nasty into you.  OUch.

In trying to figure out how this happened there were three things done differently this week.  One thing unusual was that I ripped out carpet with my husband.  In thinking about that, the posture was really very bad and the pulling really hard.  That's practically asking for trouble.  I am getting too old to be trotted out  for the occasional hard labor.  Two, I increased the tension on the elliptical trainer quite a bit all at once, and started working out in the morning.  And then we had our choir dress-rehearsals and concerts which involved a lot more standing than we don't usually do. Then there was all the sitting at the conference.  It seemed it was the standing at the concert really finished off the back.

I don't know.  I tried to walk around the block, and my sister-in-law says take lots of Ibuprofen and layer on the Voltaren.  None of this is really helping.   Maybe it's a little better since I am actually managing to sit on this chair.  But now it's over and I won't write about the conference, which is what I actually wanted to do.

If I can make something quick and enlightening out of this, I would say I am glad that such non-sense as medieval witches shooting things into people and giving evil eyes does not really appear in the Bible.  All that folksy inventiveness and superstition is not what we find in scripture.  When Satan appears the subject matter is much more profound dealing with the breaking of God-given boundaries, with the reason for suffering, with pride and such important matters of spirit.

I didn't get to church either, but I saw an interesting piece on Deutsche Welle with a priest and his class visiting a modern church.  He was discussing the modern artwork with them and linking biblical themes to modern sacrifices and witness, at around 4:00 PM, Mountain Standard time.  What a good idea for a Sunday program.  It can probably be found on-line still.  I would find it, if it wasn't that I have to get out of this chair.  Hope everyone else is having a better and blessed Sunday.