Sunday, February 28, 2016

Reading some Giertz

Dear Blog:  I have been reading Bishop Bo Giertz, like I said, and not much else, but I have also been discussing on blogs.  What can I do.

Anyhow, a little something from Giertz, that caught my attention.  I do find him good sustenance, at this point, and very refreshing.  His own faith is very tender and palpable.  I had the idea during service today, that I should get more copies to give to the seminarians to let a good bishop pastor them, too, in their reading.

Here is a prayer from page 158 ("To Live with Christ")

Lord, I ask You for a bit of Your patience.  Teach me that no day can be meaningless as long as You are at work in this world.  My blind eyes can't see how You can allow the weeds to grow and thrive the way they do.  There's not enough room in my heart to hope and believe that it's worth continuing.  But as long as You want to do it, I can only bow my head and pray that Your will be done and that I, too, can be a small instrument in Your service.  Therefore, I ask for Your kingdom to come even into this evil world, where I don't believe it's possible.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.

Came across this from Luther on Noah, as bishop, and any other bishop:

 “In the first place, Noah filled the office of bishop; and because he had been plagued by various temptations, it was his foremost concern to oppose the devil and comfort the tempted, to restore the erring, to give confidence to the wavering, to encourage the despairing, to shut out the impenitent from his church, and to receive back the penitent with fatherly joy. These are almost the same duties that must be performed by a bishop through the ministry of the Word.”
– Martin Luther on the duties of Noah after the flood. Luther’s Works, vol. 2, pg 165

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reading Giertz

It's Friday.  It's Lent.  I have put aside all reading besides reading Bishop Bo Giertz.

He is doing me good, a pastor friend I can use right now.

"To Live with Christ"  is translated from the Swedish by our friend Pastor  Bror Erickson, who blogs


I have also started teaching music in various settings, but that's another story.  Singing is my favorite thing.   Lyle Lovett sings:  "Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word".   Very beautiful. We listen to it often, here, in this house.

Monday, February 15, 2016

First Cartoon

An American Supreme Court justice died.  His name was Scalia.

I had never heard of him, before.  My ignorance is profound, sometimes.

Judging by Facebook posts about the kinds of things he said, how he said them and the principles he stood for, he seems to be a man worthy of admiration and approval.  You can google it for yourself.

But, on the other hand, the BBC simply reports how sarcastic he often was. Then there also was a report listing all the mean-spirited tweets and responses from very famous people in arts and entertainment and where ever, who were imagining him in hell having various conversations with the devil.  

Now, that is that something that strikes you as strange:  the very people who do not wish to abide by, honor, or even discuss, conservative ideas such as marriage, prohibition of abortion, upholding of constitutional rights, and so on, who would not care for the teaching of the Bible, the law or the gospel, now, in their fertile imagination wish him to be in hell.  They even feel free to say so, practically on the day of his demise.  With glee, their rub their hands saying one more for the hell fire.

What is says to me, is that they feel that they have been condemned to hell by those who profess conservative ideas.  What they should realize that the religious conservatives are on a mission to save them, in God's name, not to condemn them:  as Jesus said, I have come to save not to judge. 

In honor of this man Scalia, of whom I had not heard and because of my sadness to the responses to his passing from some quarters, I drew my first ever cartoon, for the blog and the internet.  I did not spend enough time on it, and it is not pretty.  (From here, they can only get better, if I make any more.)

I hope I see him in heaven.  Rest in peace.  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Absolute Morality

Someone mentioned the Mahabharata to me.  

I did not realize that the Bhagavad Gita is a part of this extremely long Indian epic.  The Bhagavad Gita  I have read, I think when we were looking at Gandhi's favorite books.  It struck me at the time, that the morality is something different from what we teach. But I just came across this:

Just as the battle is about to start, Arjuna falters at the sight of his relatives and teachers, now his sworn enemies. He breaks down and refuses to fight. “How can any good come from killing one’s own relatives? What value is victory if all our friends and loved ones are killed? … We will be overcome by sin if we slay such aggressors. Our proper duty is surely to forgive them. Even if they have lost sight of dharma due to greed, we ourselves should not forget dharma in the same way.” (KD 544-5)

Arjuna fears that acting out his own dharma as warrior will conflict with universal dharma: how can killing family members be good, and not disrupt the social order? Herein lies an unresolved conflict in Hinduism between universal dharma and svadharma (an individual's duty according to caste and station in life). A warrior must kill to fulfill his duty, whereas a brahmin must avoid harming any living creature. Even demons have their own castes and svadharma, which may run counter to human morality. One person's dharma may be another's sin. This doctrine distinguishes Hindu thought from religions such as Judeo-Christianity and Islam which teach universal or absolute moral codes.

One person's dharma may be another's sin.

This philosophy explains a few things.

It explains, for one thing, how some existentialist I have met can be so cruel and feel completely justified in it. I have met people who feel justified manipulating and lying because it is somehow part of their calling.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The New Dignity: Gnostic, Elitist, Self-Destructive Will-to-Power / Article

Wow.  Someone is hitting the nail on the head.

But what exactly constitutes this New Dignity? The work of George Kateb, professor emeritus at Princeton, provides a clue. In a book titled Human Dignity,Kateb writes: “Since nature has no telos, the human species is at its greatest when it breaks out of nature.” Human dignity is grounded, according to Kateb, in our ability to defy nature—to go beyond natural limitations and thereby create ourselves anew. Kateb agrees with Sartre: the freedom to “become different through an upsurge of free creativity,” which “can never be conclusively defined or delimited,” is “the philosophical anthropology that underlies human dignity.” This is the meaning of human dignity in a world with no clear origin, no purposeful end, no intrinsic meaning, and nothing real beyond matter in motion.

The New Dignity demands new positive freedoms, freedoms to—to remake our gender, to marry someone without regard to sex or the procreative potential of the union, to choose our time to die and enlist the medical profession in ending our lives, to not only abort a child developing in the womb but also to harvest his or her body parts for commercial gain. It also calls for new negative freedom, freedoms from—from all unwanted pain or discomfort, from limitations on what I can do to or with my body, from language or ideas that offend me or that challenge decisions I have made.


Not only is "relative" morality and oxymoron, "relative" dignity, also makes no sense.

Raising Consciousness--viral video of Manitoba native woman

During the week, I watched a video by a young, female, aboriginal word-artist decrying the violence against aboriginal girls and women.  It moved me to tears.  She will not be silenced, she cries out.

To blame, according to her, was the system, the residential schools, the removal of children by social welfare system, the cultural genocide and loss of traditional stories.


I have not walked in their shoes.  Or maybe I have a little bit.

I have been to a Reserve and to other communities in the North.  The social worker on the Reserve bemoaned mostly the fact that young natives are just passed through the school system without having accomplished anything. Their high school diploma is not worth the paper it is written on and therefore, they cannot succeed at the College and University level.

What bothered me, in the video, was the mention of "pale"-faced children who sleep soundly in their beds.

In Canada, there are many children who are not "pale"-faced, and many others who are poor, and many who have come here to escape war, atrocities, persecutions and genocides.  We, too, were raised by parents who suffered horrors and were never the same afterward.

I know that survival of sexual abuse is one of the most horrible things to live with, disrupting all normal family life, but the continuing cycle of violence in the indigenous communities cannot be laid at the door of the "pale"-faced children.

Once, we were camping at a lake in Saskatchewan and I overheard some young, native girls talking among themselves about some "white" bitch.  It was frightening talk to me. To combat racist remarks and events, I would suggest, at least, to drop the references to color.

The answer, according to the artist, was to be found in traditional ways and lore, the very thing that residential schools tried to strip them of.  Recently, in the news, we heard the demand that aboriginal studies be taught at all levels and in Universities.  I can relate to that.  Why should the languages and the heritage not be taught and preserved?  Some of it will be useful.  Some of it may not be found useful.  That part of it will fall away, perhaps.

When I was up North, the tribe on the Reserve had settled in a place that traditionally belonged to the Dene and had a Dene burial ground.  It was felt that the spirits were still restless and all around.  It was told me by the health workers in the health unit.  Apparently, the health unit was built right on top of it.  I am not sure that this is a very reassuring, progressive or even collaborative thought.

At some point, you have to let the dead be dead, but the murdering must stop.

Here is the link of the video.

Friday, February 5, 2016

"Relative" Morality--an Oxymoron

The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre delves into this problem in his seminal book After Virtue:
“In a famous passage in The Gay Science (section 335) Nietzsche jeers at the notion of basing morality on inner moral sentiments, on conscience, on the one hand, or on the Kantian categorical imperative, on universalizability, on the other. In five swift, witty and cogent paragraphs he disposes of both what I have called the Enlightenment project to discover rational foundations for an objective morality and of the confidence of the everyday moral agent in post-Enlightenment culture that his moral practice and utterance are in good order. But Nietzsche then goes on to confront the problem that this act of destruction has created. The underlying structure of his argument is as follows: if there is nothing to morality but expressions of will, my morality can only be what my will creates. There can be no place for such fictions as natural rights, utility, the greatest happiness of the greatest number. I myself must now bring into existence ‘new tables of what is good’.”