Sunday, August 30, 2015

Finished a book: "Bad Religion. How we became a nation of heretics."

I finished a book:  "Bad Religion.  How we became a nation of heretics."

The author is Ross Douthat.  Writer for the New York Times.

I enjoyed it very much and read in in one session.  "Enjoy", however, is not the right word, as the assessment of the American religious situation is somewhat grim.

But you always have to start with the bad news before things can be sorted out.

The particular American heresies in American Christianity singled out are the prosperity gospel, the "god-in-me" gospel, and nationalism.  These particular forms of "Christianity", if we can all them that, need to be weeded out, no doubt.  Patriotism may be a good thing, but the blurring of the lines between church and state are not.

Christian orthodoxy needs to find a new footing.

Of course, he is right.  The analysis and background provided are cogent.  The message is urgent and timely.  There are plenty of interviews with the author on Youtube, if you care to find out more.

In our church we talk a lot about catechesis, but really much more needs to be done, is my thought.

Douthat concludes with an admonition for Christians to be active in various political parties.

I don't have time to quote anything today...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Managed to get away to Canmore once more / Summer 15

Some of my family live in Canmore in the Canadian Rockies, not far from the famous town of Banff in the National Park, only an hour or so from the even more famous Lake Louise and many world class ski hills...

A lovely place.  Here are a few new pictures.

We had some elderly among us, so we enjoyed the scenery mostly from restaurant patios, this time.  On the way down to Canmore, it snowed.  On the way back, the sky was full of smoke from forest fires from the Pacific Northwest.  But while we were there, the sky was just splendid, as you can see.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Let Your Kingdom Come

Let Your Kingdom Come

Let your kingdom come.
Let your will be done
on earth as it is done in heaven.

 Matthew 6:10

We should not pray, "Dear Father, let us come into your kingdom, as though it's a place to which we travel.  Instead we pray, "Let your kingdom come." For if we're to receive it at all, God's grace and kingdom with all its virtues must come to us.  We will never be able to go to him.  In the same way, Christ came to us--from heaven down to earth.  We didn't go up to him from earth to heaven.

Another mistake of those who pray the Lord's Prayer is that they only think about their eternal happiness.  They understand the kingdom of God to mean nothing but joy and pleasure in heaven.  thinking from an earthly, physical perspective and fearing hell, they only seek their own benefit and advantage in heaven.  These people don't realize that God's kingdom is nothing but godliness, chastity, purity, gentleness, tenderness, and kindness.  His kingdom is full of every virtue and grace.  They don't know that God must have his way and that he along lives and reigns in us.  This should be our first and foremost desire.  We are saved only when God reigns in us, and we become his kingdom.

We don't have to seek or ask for joy, happiness, or anything else that we may desire.  Rather, all of this comes along with God's kingdom.  So to help us avoid wanting what is false and selfish, Christ tells us to seek first God's kingdom itself, not the fruits of the kingdom.  But those who seek the fruits of God's kingdom seek the back end of God's kingdom.  They seek the last part first, and the first part they value only because of its ultimate benefits.

(365 Devotional Readings from Martin Luther.  Through Faith Alone.  Page for August 14.  Concordia Publishing House.)


That is so wonderful.  I love that.  Lord grant us true faith and love.  Let your kingdom come to us.


--When the Church shirks its catechetical responsibility, the result is not that it goes un-catechized. Far from it. The result, rather, is that, by default, the Church comes under the tutelage of that unholy adjunct, the devil, whom Luther calls "a master of a thousand arts." No slacker himself, he is eager to teach where the Church is silent, with his own commandments, his own prayer, his own creed, and his own "good news." He is, in other words, a master catechizer. We labor under a false dichotomy when we ask whether or not the Church will be catechized. The answer is always yes. The question is not whether, but by whom?

--Martin Luther's prescription for pastors and preachers (including himself) who neglect the catechetical training of their congregation was characteristically colorful and coarse: "we deserve not only to be given no food to eat, but also to have the dogs set upon us and to be pelted with horse manure." Pelted with equine feces after the hounds have been released? Even if his prescription is not to be taken literally—although all bets are off with the cantankerous Reformer—Luther's zeal for the catechetical instruction of the Church is unmistakable. Those (especially pastors) who are ignorant of the basics of the catechism, or who despise it through negligence, thought Luther, "should not be numbered among Christians." They are "lazy bellies and presumptuous spirits," "completely unskilled and incompetent teachers" who "live like simple cattle and irrational pigs." Conclusion: "Shame on you forever!"
Read more:

The above were quotes.

When I grew up the chatechism was neglected.  My confirmation classes were useless in this regard, also.  We took religion in school and what was good about it was the memorizing of the great hymns.

I have read that Mohammed grew up, or lived among Christians and Jews, that is why the Koran is full of passages regarding Jesus, and so on. The problem obviously was that the message did not really come to Mohammed.  He got everything mixed up.  Some have said that the Christians were lacking clarity in their message and teaching. Muhammad quite liked them as people, I think. But being nice does not equal catechesis and obviously the message got lost.  What a tragedy.

Monday, August 17, 2015


There is a thing called WikiIslam.

This is what it has on rape in Islam:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

No End to the Trauma

With the word having become frighteningly what it is, it can seem like--another day, another atrocity;  another day, another vile account.

It is traumatizing.  You want to push it away.  I have not watched any of the gruesome footage since the first batch, when the Iraqi soldiers were marched to their deaths by the hundreds or thousands.  Their plain surrender was surprising, their executions were swift and callous--all of it captured on video.  Of all the horrors comitted--the list is long and easily researched on the internet--it is the fate of the "sex slave" that seems to me to top the list of perversity.

Last week the New York Post featured a clearly worded article about the "The Theology of Rape".

It should be read.

Very, very young girls--children are used.  Yazidi women suffer unspeakable fates, all in the name of the "merciful" Allah.  It is so sick, it could make one scream and vomit.  Abuses have occurred in the world in many places and under many banners, but the "enshrinement of the rape theology" is a unique phenomenon, an evil to top evils.

On the heels of this article, we heard this weekend, that Kayla Mueller, ISIS captive was repeatedly raped by the self-declared Calif, the ISIS leader.  He took her as a "wife".  We know that in some branches of Islam it is legal to take a wife for a day or so, i.e. you can have a prostitute, or, in this case, you can rape a woman.  This is theologically sanctioned.  The leader is going ahead of the troops by "good" example.  It is such awful barbarism that you would think there would be an outcry from the Muslim world.  I searched Al Jazeera, English for the story, but it was not there.

In fact, from Muslims you only ever hear, "we don't do things like that".  Yes, they may indeed not do things like that, but how do you argue with the theology?  Is there any arguing possible?  Muhammad did it, Muhammad commanded it.--???

And indeed, this abuse of women is enshrined.  It has been on-going through the centuries. Millions of Europeans have been captured and held as slaves over the centuries. Christian North Africa was overrun.  The atrocities need accounting for theologically.  We are not talking about isolated incidents and misfits.  We are talking about an enduring totalitarian ideology of the most misogynistic kind possible.

It must be vehemently decried.  It must be exposed.  It must be exterminated. It must be fought tooth and nail. -- Where are our intellectuals?

Richard Dawkins, strange bedfellow though he may be, at least makes an effort:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Devil is closer than our shirt.

"The Devil is closer than our shirt"

A Christian should know that he is sitting among devils and that he devil is closer to him than his coat or shirt, nay, closer than his own skin.  He should know that the devil is about us everywhere;  he and we are constantly in one another's hair, and we must fight with him, testifies the proverb:  It is not necessary to draw a picture over the door.--The first thing, then, is to hold firmly that the devil exists and that he is much closer to us than the shirt on our body.

From Scripture it is clear that the devil sends evil thoughts into the heart of a man and holds minds captive.  Of Judas it is said:  "Satan entered into him"  (John 13:27).  And he not only knew the thoughts of Cain but also suggested to him that he murder his brother.  However, he does not know all the thoughts of the pious until they come out into the open.  For Christ is too strong for him.  As he does not know what is in the heart of Christ, so he cannot penetrate into the souls of the pious, where Christ dwells.  But he is a powerful spirit, whom Christ even calls the prince of this world.  He shoots terrible thoughts into the heart:  hatred of God, blasphemy, and despair.  These are his "fiery darts."  St. Paul realized to some extent what these darts are when he felt the thorn in his flesh.

(What Luther says.  Anthology.  "Devil". )

"Jesus, hilf siegen. wenn in mir die Suende,
Eigenlieb, Hoffart und Missgunst sich regt,
Wenn ich die Last der Begierden empfinde
und sich mein tiefes Verderben darlegt:
hilf mir, dass ich vor mir selbst mag erroeten
und durch dein Leiden
mein suendlich Fleisch toeten."

(Johann Heinrich Schroeder)

In English:

"Jesus, give victory, when I am attacked by sin,
love of self, pride and jealousy,
when I feel the load of desires,
and my deep depravity becomes revealed to myself:
help, that I may blush to myself,
and that I may mortify the flesh,
through Your suffering."

Friday, August 7, 2015

Superb commentary by Cosh on United Church Minister

What chills me is his referring to Satanist literature.  My husband read this article out loud to me over breakfast.  When it began with something about atheism, I said to him, this is not atheism, this is Gnosticism, and so since Gnosticism elevates Satan, I am not surprised to have the atheist critique finishing with a comment on Satanism.  Still it is interesting.

One more hymn verse / cont. from yesterday / Jesus give victory

"Jesu, hilf siegen und lass mich nicht sinken;
wenn sich die Kraefte der Luegen aufblaehn
und mit dem scheine der Wahrheit sich schminken,
lass doch viel heller dann deine Kraft sehn.
Steh mir zur rechten,
O Koenig und Meister,
lehre mich kaempfen
und pruefen die Geister."

"Jesus give victory, don't let me sink
when the powers of lies puff themselves up
and decorate themselves with the appearance of truth,
then let your power then shine so much more brightly.
Stand by my side, o King and Master,
teach me to fight
and to examine the spirits."

(Johann Heinrich Schroeder)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Man and Woman between God and the Devil / 3 / United Church

A United Church minister, Gretta Vosper, will be under investigation for fitness to be a minister because of her views which contradict her ordination vows.  This is quite a thing for the United Church, which prides itself on its inclusiveness.  Somewhere that all does not work and falls apart.

She is really an example of the kind of Gnostic, Platonic thinking, I mentioned in the last post.  It is no longer Christian, but anti-Christian, and attempts to infiltrate at any point, "mythologizing" what clearly wants to be taken as history.  It amounts to a complete denial of Christ, focusing on your own deeds, as if they were something to write home about. 

“I don’t believe in … the god called God,” she said. “Using the word gets in the way of sharing what I want to share.”
Vosper, 57, who was ordained in 1993 and joined her east-end church in 1997, said the idea of an interventionist, supernatural being on which so much church doctrine is based belongs to an outdated world view.
What’s important, she says, is that her views hearken to Christianity’s beginnings, before the focus shifted from how one lived to doctrinal belief in God, Jesus and the Bible.
“Is the Bible really the word of God? Was Jesus a person?” she said.
“It’s mythology. We build a faith tradition upon it which shifted to find belief more important than how we lived.”
Things came to a head this year after she wrote an open letter to the church’s spiritual leader pointing out belief in God can motivate people to do bad things — a reference to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.
“That didn’t go over well,” Vosper said. “(But) if we are going to continue to use language that suggests we get our moral authority from a supernatural source, any group that says that can trump any humanistic endeavour.”
(from the National Post article)

Image result for fallen angels

"Such monstrous infamies were actually considered religion and righteousness among the heathen;  for there really is nothing so ridiculous, so foolish, so obscene, so foreign to all decency, that men who lack the Word of God cannot be talked into it (bereden) as religious worship at its best."  (Luther)

Man between God and the Devil / 2

Lately, I have come across a few heresies on the internet.  For one thing Gnosticism seems to run rampant with the literary elite.  Among them "Satan" is the bringer of light and an "advocate in a Jewish court".  However they may describe him, Satan becomes the good guy and Yahweh becomes the bad guy.  It really is astonishing.  

Along with this belief, come a certain amount of clandestine way of being.  They might describe themselves as "tricksters" and think this is a good thing.  From this angel they may hang out where Christians hang out, interject some gobbledegook or some insults and in various ways derail the conversation.  I would not believe it, if it had not happened to me several times now. If you are not easy fodder, they will block and defriend you, or else continue to be rude.  Something gives them the internal go-ahead to be this way.  They are missionaries of some kind, sometimes of Plato, who thought of higher things, supposedly.  When you actually read Plato, what he has to say about society does not seem terribly High, at all. There is some woeful, horrible stuff.   And what goes as literature, quite often, does not seem to be that High, either.  So, we can see that there is a lot of self-praise, always the easiest kind to obtain. A lot of what they do and say, is actually easy and facile, and facts nor consistency need to matter, at all.  The whole picture can be let go.  (They have got something higher going on.)

Whence the Devil?  

These are assured facts:  The angels fell, and the devil was turned into an angel of darkness from an angel of light....

Let it, then, suffice for us to know that there re good and evil angels, but that God created them all equally good.  thence it follows of necessity that the evil angels fell and did not stand firm in the truth.  But how this happened is not known.  However, it is very probably that they fell by pride, because they despised the Word, or the Son of God, and wanted to exalt themselves above Him.  

(What Luther Says:  P. 391)

Man between God and the Devil

The summer is lovely but I miss the groups I am in.  I liked it better in Europe where there are more holidays and vacations but not such one long one.

I have finished a couple of books, and found some more children's music, courtesy of the public library. Another book, given by a friend, was on teen suicide.  It truly was a sad and dark read.  The epidemics of divorce and drugs and so on, cause so much loneliness and hopelessness with seemingly no way out.  The author of the book was in this sort of place himself as a teenager and predictably he found Jesus and became a suicide prevention speaker and evangelist, who has been grateful for the life has had with his wife, family and work.

What was the most helpful thought, I thought, was the claim God made on the man "You live for me now."  This truly is the redemption, because if I live for myself, I will spiral down in myself.  As in baptism we are claimed for God's kingdom, so God's grace really suffices.  "My grace is enough."

This does not mean that you give up the work of discovering your own feelings, talents and passions, but they will be in service of God and man and not myself, (not primarily).  "That I may live in your kingdom in innocence and blessedness."

This is true freedom.

Concupiscence is often the definition of sin, something like "lust".  We often talk about this insatiable desire.  Lewis says it is for heaven, and because we all desire it, it most likely has been planted in our hearts by our Creator, and means that there is one, indeed.  But there is desire and lust, that is just for pleasure and more and more and more, that is never satisfied with any good gifts.  I certainly know both "desires."  How much are they at war with each other?  As we sometimes say "Man between God and the Devil."  Bundles of desires, we surely are.

"Jesu, hilf siegen, du Fuerste des Lebens;
sieh, wie die Finsternis dringet herein,
wie sie ihr hoellisches Heer icht vergebens
maechtig auffuehret,
mir schaedlich zu sein.
Satan, der sinner auf allerhand Raenke,
wie er mich sichte,verstoere und kraenke."
(Johann Heinrich Schroeder, 169

In English (my translation, you can have it.)

"Jesus, give victory, oh, you king of life,
see, how Darkness is forcing its way in,
how it brings up vainly its hellish mighty army,
to make damage for me.
Satan,--he thinks up all sorts of plots,
how he may find me, disturb me and hurt me."

We need to watch out for this darkness and temptation to hopelessness in ourselves and in others, and ask for help, as in this hymn.