Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bail out, bail out, don't like capitalism all you have to do is pout

Seriously I guess I thought capitalism involved risk for investors. Could it be that the type of risk we have encouraged in our society was not sustainable? Is there a form of limited capitalism that does not encourage harmful, negligent, risk?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

blogging is in my genes

Grant is a second cousin. He's very thoughtful, has wrote a book, and writes a column for the local paper.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What if?

What if all of contemporary thought, values, and social norms are the result of collective post-tramatic stress brought on by World War Two?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

28% of people looking at my blog are looking for Zorba the Greek Quotes

I just thought that was kinda odd.
Other than that people are looking for Advent and Eschatology. Who knew.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

As Richardson goes so goes the nation

Well, not exactly, but I apparently got a haircut the same day Fox News asked Obama why Richardson cut his facial hair... coinicidence? I think not.
PS My barber sent me this article.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sermon Advent 1

Already/not yet, an Advent Eschatology

Today’s scripture readings introduce us to the season of Advent. A short four-week season smooshed between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, for some, it has become no more than a precursor to Christmas, a liturgical appetizer before the festive main course. Yet Advent is bigger than this. It is a time to prepare for, and reflect on, the coming of the Christ child, as well as time to prepare for, and reflect on, the Second Coming.
Last year’s Gospel reading, in a lot of ways; fit this theme in a much more obvious way. It involved John the Baptist preaching that the Christ was coming.
A skillful preacher can take John’s words and point them toward Jesus’ coming at the time of John, then hope that the congregation squints a little, and listens a little differently, and understands John’s words to be coming out of the preacher’s mouth at that very moment, saying “Christ is coming.” In that way, Christ’s coming and coming again can be proclaimed together.
But that’s not the Gospel lesson for today. Today Jesus, not John, pronounces that, “they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Today Jesus, the one we proclaim as our Lord and our Savior, says, “this generation will not pass away before all these things take place.” Today Jesus Christ implores us to, “watch.”
That it is Jesus who is speaking these words should give us pause, as it has for past Christians. Further, I feel that our interpretation of these words say a lot about our eschatology.
Now, eschatology comes from the Greek words Eschatos—meaning last, and logi—meaning the study of. Thus Eschatology is the study of the last things.
So, what I’m saying is our understanding of the last things is going to affect how we read Christ’s words in today’s gospel.
Now there are many eschatolgies out there, both Christian and not, from the destructive and pessimistic end perceived in Scandinavian myth, to the cyclical quasi-endings of Hindu and Buddhist understanding.
Within Christian circles there are two overarching tendencies in our eschatologies. Either we have a backwards looking eschatology, sometimes called a realized eschatology, or we have a distant forward looking eschatology sometimes called a millennial eschatology.
This first way of looking at “the end” affirms that phrases such as, “they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory,” are describing, and finding completion in, Christ’s life, death, and resurrection in the early part of the 1st century of the Common Era. This view of the end of history affirms what Luther termed a “theology of the cross.” Christ does not reign in might and dread, but as the suffering servant enthroned upon an implement of execution.
Alternatively, this second eschatology sees much of the Bible, specifically Daniel and Revelation, as well as Christ’s words today, as pointing toward a cataclysm and the eventual reign of Christ, both of which take place sometime in the near or distant future.
I would purpose that neither of these eschatologies are complete, one without the other. Neither eschatology reflects the meaning of this season of Advent. The first strengthens faith but forgets hope, the later sacrifices faith for hope. But together these two mutually re-enforce one another.
Further, neither of these eschatologies alone heed Christ’s imperative, his command, “Watch.”
Just two days after my mother returned home from an extended visit to India we’ve watched the news of militants in Mubai attacking the city and killing at least 195 people and injuring hundreds more. And I have to ask is this Christ’s reign?
When I see the news that Black Friday shopping in Long Island turning so frenzied that a Walmart employee was trampled to death and a customer was jostled so much that she had a miscarriage. I wonder aloud if this can be the realization of the Kingdom of Christ?
When I read of nightclub shootings and cops dying and when the local paper runs red with blood—when I look around and find war, suicide bombings, poverty, starvation, and genocide, when I see fractured families, alienation, greed, and misunderstanding. I plead that this isn’t the kingdom and the power and the glory.
That said, when I watch, when I look at the history, and the present life, of humanity I also see no reason to wait for cataclysm, wait for dragons and false prophets—wild images of a genre most people no longer care to understand. Because if you don’t see cataclysm yet you haven’t been paying attention! You haven’t been watching!
It is the tension between these two eschatologies where we find ourselves. Christ has already came and liberated us from sin—and we have faith in his efficacious actions—yet Christ has not yet returned and so we await him in hope.
One metaphor for this Advent Eschatology, this already/not yet reality of the Christian life, that I’ve heard often is one from world war two.
This metaphor is about D-Day and V.E. Day. On D-day Allied troops gained a beachhead in Europe and, at least in the minds of some, the defeat of the Axis powers was made inevitable that day, June 6th 1944. Yet this victory was not fully worked out until May 8th 1945 on V.E-Day.
Likewise our readings for today are already/not yet readings. Isaiah is writing to those Exiles from Babylon newly returned to the promise land. They have been delivered back to Judah, yet they cry out for God.
They want to see God coming in dangerous might, with fire and heat, earthquake and anger. And all the while they call for His compassion to be upon them.
This reading also provide us with another image with which to describe the already/not yet. God is the potter, and his people the clay. In Christ’s coming the clay of humanity has been worked and molded into a pot. None the less, it has yet to be fired in the kiln, hardened and made permanently that which the potter created. Again, not a perfect metaphor, but an attempt.
Paul, who experienced the risen Christ on the way to Damascus, finds himself enmeshed in the reality of the already not yet. He writes of the grace of God given in Christ and also of waiting for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And that brings us back to Jesus’ words in Mark. The crucifixion looms before Jesus and here too we find the tension of the Already/not yet. “This generation will not pass away…” yet, “of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” In Christ’s emptying himself of divinity he too finds himself resting confidently in God’s actions. Yet he also leans forward expecting that this merciful God he knows, and that we know through him, is God from beginning to end. The same God that we find victorious on the cross we also will find victorious at the close of history.
If we watch the world through the eyes of an Advent Eschatology then we find ourselves in line with the prophets and visionaries of every age.
With Zechariah we watch for a day when every bell rings with the words, “Holy to the LORD,” and when the very scrubbing pots become holy vessels of worship, even as we know it is already so.
With Isaiah we watch for a day when, “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The uneven shall be made level and the rough places a plain.” A day when “the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together,” even as we know it is already so.
With John, the author of Revelation, we watch for a time when, “there shall no more be anything accursed,” even as we know it is already so.
We have faith in the full and present power of Christ’s death on the cross—that through it death is destroyed, His sting is gone. And we hope eagerly for the fulfillment of this promise worked out in a complete all-encompassing redemption.
As we say at Eucharist Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Me... a conservative blogger?

So, I've been offered a spot as a blogger at NetRightNation.
I guess I did say it might be time for me to become a Republican... but I wasn't THAT serious.

KRS-ONE on fox news

This caught my eye, KRS-ONE is setting up a Hip-hop channel that he calls "fair and balanced." Just... kinda odd.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

106 years later

I was reading a sermon by Francis Grimke today. It was written in 1902 and made the comparison between Peter eating with Cornelius and Roosevelt eating with Booker T Washington.
Here is the quote that struck me, "For the first time in the history of the country a colored American citizen has dined at the White House as the guest of the President of the United States."
And soon enough a "colored American citizen" will dine as President of the United States. That's kinda cool.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What geeks like me do when I've got 1/2 an hour to spare

So, it's a chart that will let you parse strong hebrew verbs. Wee!

advent conspiracy

The UCC connection

So Obama has named Timothy F. Geithner as Treasury Secretary. Not that I think it caused him to get the job, but I did noticed he's a UCCer, just like Obama.

The flame and the cold

The previous 24 hours have been rather odd. Both my room mates are visiting friends and family elsewhere, so I'm "home alone" so to speak.
Saturday night, 12:30-ish, the lights throughout the house began to flicker on and off, and eventually all turned off. I wander through the house trying to figure out what's going on, using only my Cell-phone for light. I call my very sensible room mate for advice.
Then I go down into the basement to look at the circuit breaker, it looks like there is smoke everywhere. I turn everything on and off. I call the land-lord. Go to the basement again, this time with a candle. The smoke seems to have left.
I decided to go to bed, but I lay there and this overpowering burnt smell gorges my nostrils.
I try to get to sleep, but can't. I keep imagining that smell is some sort of gas leak and that I won't wake up. Fred, Ian, CJ, or Keith will find me sometime midweek asphyxiated in my bed.
Eventually I get up, its 2-ish in the morning by then. I call up Keith and ask if I can crash on his couch. I go out from the house wearing my pj's and my Oregon hoodie, holding a pillow and blanket--like Linus from Peanuts. I pass drunk teens sneaking back home, they say nothing to me, I say nothing to them.
I get in my car, drive to Seminary, ring Keith's door, and crash on his couch. In the morning I blow my nose and soot stained snot comes out. I head back to the apartment. It still smells and the house is cold, but didn't burn down in the night.
I call PECO and they send a guy out. He wanders down stairs with his helmet flashlight, gets some tools, knocks open a box attached to the wall in the basement, looks inside it, and tells me it looks like the lines underneath the house caught fire. I say I didn't even know there were lines underneath the apartment. He says they'll get someone to come and rip out the sidewalk and get to the wiring. I tell him I'll be at the cigar store next door charging my phone and keeping warm.
A few hours later I get an automated call, it tells me power in my vicinity has been restored. So I go home, flip some switches, and find out power has not been restored. I call up PECO again and explain that things aren't fixed.
A few hours later they send a crew--this one in a huge PECO truck. They break open the box and make the same assessment as the first. So they drill. They get to the burnt wiring, take it out, and show me. Then they realize to replace the wiring they need to drill another hole. And they do.
I wait around in the cigar shop for a while, then when I know my fellow Seminarians have gotten back from field ed I hang out with them for a while. Around 6pm I get a call. They've restored power to the apartment.
So I go and indeed there is heat and light. They say they'll pave the holes sometime this week.
And that, that is what happened yesterday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Icon page 6: The Last Page

So that's what we have so far. I likely won't be blogging for about a week.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A short story of mine being turned into a comic

So a friend of mine back in Oregon has began illustrating a short story of mine and turning it into a comic.
This is the first page. More will come soon.

LTSP at its best

Why Georgia is still free

With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia, Mr Levitte said.

"I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls," Mr Putin replied.

Mr Sarkozy responded: "Hang him?"

"Why not? The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein," said Mr Putin.

Mr Sarkozy replied, using the familiar "tu": "Yes but do you want to end up like (President) Bush?"

Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: "Ah, you have scored a point there."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

This whole winning thing will take some getting used to

Well I've been fairly political since 2000, voted since 2002 and its weird, winning that is. You see I didn't get the preview of 2008 in 2006 in the same way others did, as I was out of the country. At any rate it feels really good to have one's political party win. In addition the Phillies won, which kinda doesn't happen.
I could get used to this.
That said being a good Scandinavian I'm waiting for the other foot to drop, and being a good Lutheran I recognize that a theology of the cross instead of glory indicates that we'll find God in the mess and the muck, on the cross, not in the spotlight of political victory. And being a thinker I remember Mark Twains words, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority its time to pause and reflect. Maybe its time to become a Republican.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote Vote Vote

Well, folk by now know I want Obama to win and encourage you to vote for him tomorrow morning. I just want to take a second and review this hyper-extended-election-season(tm).
Of all the Democrats I wanted Bill Richardson to win. In the primaries I endorsed him, Obama, Ron Paul, and yes John McCain. (So I should just be happy that two of my guys made it... meaning we won't torture people once Bush leaves office!) I included Obama along with Bill Richardson because of Andrew Sullivan's article that first turned me onto him. Bill Richardson dropped out before PA had a chance to vote. So I worked hard for Obama in the primaries. When McCain picked Palin I got a bit spooked and went hyper partisan. And more recently I got my pants torn off at the Obama rally.
That's about it really. Just get out there and vote! Tomorrow is a huge day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anatomy of a Prophecy

So this is how one scholar imagines Jeremiah's prophecy in Jer. 45 was done (HSM is what I used as a stand in for the divine name... as in HaSheM, "The Name"):
Baruch makes a lament to Jeremiah. Jeremiah takes Baruch’s lament to HSM. HSM responds to Jeremiah with two oracles for Baruch.
At a later date Jeremiah tells Baruch that HSM has words for him. Jeremiah repeats Baruch’s lament. Then Jeremiah tells Baruch what HSM said in response to the lament. Then Jeremiah gives Baruch the two oracles from HSM. Baruch writes them down.

A funeral sermon for a man who never existed

This is the sermon I gave on Tuesday for Assembly Two
It’s not every day a pastor is allowed the privilege of using a funeral setting from 19th century Germany, translated by the deceased no less. Likewise, it isn’t every day that such a pointed text as the start of Ecclesiastes is read at a funeral, especially a translation, again, provided by the deceased. But then again it isn’t every day that you bury Willard Getman.
Dr. Getman was born right here in Grand Forks in 1927. At the age of 15 he lied to the army about his age, and before he knew it he was in Europe. He stormed Normandy and saw the horrors of war first hand there. Then he went on to Buchenwald and helped liberate that concentration camp.
Having seen such sights at such a young age Dr. Getman wanted answers to the question of what went wrong? “What” to quote Dr. Getman’s words in the introduction to his first book, “had brought such a lofty nation so low?” To answer this question he stayed in Germany and studied at the Universities of Tubingen and Marburg. Then he came home and he got his Ph.D. in German Literature from UND. He then took a faculty position at there. He met and married Martha and they had three children, Daniel, Amanda, and Ned. As I look at all the folk in the pews here at St. Mark’s today I see younger folk out there, his many adoring students, and older, more prominent people, his Upsilon Nu Delta brothers.
I know Dr. Getman only through you and from the few pages of one of his book that I have read, but what I have heard of him is that he was an introspective man, a pleasure to learn from, loyal to his fraternity, and a dedicated husband and father.
When I read his translation of Ecclesiastes, “A fleeting breath! All is fleeting!” And when I think of his choice of this Biblical book for his funeral I get the impression that he was a man who had seen the depths.
He, like the author of Ecclesiastes, Qohelet, the Preacher—often said to be Solomon, could affirm that there, “is not anything at all new under the sun,” and affirm a static, cyclical world in which all things have happened before, and affirm that we would know this if only the memories of mortals held. Dr. Getman might even describe this situation as some form of ewige Wiederkunft, “perpetual return.” For example, every election season politicians come around promising things, and the next season they come around again with the same promises and pledges. After the atrocities of the Holocaust that Dr. Getman saw we said, “never again,” yet in Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and most recently in Darfur that cry is a faint echo. As Solomon writes, “All streamlets flow to the sea, yet where is the sea full?”
I look too at the other readings; ones Martha, Ned, and I picked out to accompany Dr. Getman’s Ecclesiastes. Willard would likely have had some interest in the location of Paul in Acts chapter 17, Athens. But he would have likely grimaced at Paul’s opening line of argumentation, “I perceive that in every way you are very religious.” For Willard was not very religious. For 34 years he lived next to St. Mark’s, and this is the first time I’ve seen him in church. Perhaps though this is more of an indictment of my evangelism skills than his faithfulness. He hated the ritual and the objects of worship, the “shrines made by man,” as Paul is reported to have described the wide variety of faith expressions in Athens. He felt this emphasis of the material and ideal over the mortal and the moral was what leads to genocide and war.
But within these words in Acts I find a link to the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, maybe even an answer to him. The Preacher speaks of the fleeting breath, and Paul speaks of God as the one who gives to all humanity breath and life. Further, the very regularity and sustainability of wind and sea that the Preacher sees as trivializing a person’s three score and ten also speaks to God’s consistency, care, and love of creation.
Finally, in today’s gospel we hear of the sign of Jonah and of the one greater than Solomon who is here, Jesus Christ. And it is entirely appropriate as we mourn the death of Dr. Getman to revel in the mystery of this sign of hope Christ speaks of. “Three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
In these words there is an affirmation of incarnation. Christ Jesus, the God who sustains the world was birthed into existence, like any of us. He faced the depravity and horror of humanity. In Elie Wiesel’s book about his experience in the Holocaust, Night, he writes of being asked, “Where is God?” And finds Himself responding, “On the Scaffolding.” God incarnate cries the cry of dereliction, Gottverlassen, Godforsakeness finding Himself amongst those sunken eyed victims Willard liberated some 60 years ago.
Whether Willard knew it or not God was there for him at his Anfechtung, the affliction of the soul confronted by that which is opposed to God. When his heart broke and his spirit sunk at the sight of man’s inhumanity toward man, God was there.
And God in Christ Jesus faced death like any of us. He went to the heart of the earth, as Willard will today.
Though, we should remember that it is written that Jonah came out of the belly of that whale, and likewise Christ Jesus’ tomb was empty on Sunday morning.

Trauner is right for Wyoming

I really hope Gary Trauner wins the seat in congress, he'd be an excellent addition.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sarah Palin is an elitist and a socialist

There, I've finally said it.
Remember how people were livid when Edwards got a four hundred dollar hair cut. (I go to super cuts or have a fellow seminarian buzz it, so I think 40 dollars, let alone 400 is excessive) Well. Sarah Palin's hair and make up have cost over 4,000 dollars IN ONE MONTH! Further, her wardrobe since becoming VP material has cost the Republican party 150,000 dollars!
Oh, while we're on the subject of Palin spending other people's money she's bilked the state of Alaska out of $21,012 in travel expenses for her kids traveling commercially, $55,000 for them traveling on state planes, and charged Alaska $17,000for living in her own home! In addition, she charged the state at least $4,161 for housing her children at five start hotels in New York (overlooking Central Park), Philadelphia, and Fairbanks!
For a supposed Maverick Reformer who is going to cut spending and keep the personal perks of public office from becoming pork-barrel spending this is unacceptable. She's freekin' mooching off the government, and not just a little bit!
She's no reformer, no uncurruptable outsider, no average Jane. She's more of the same, just packaged a little different and held together with $4,000 worth of hairspray!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A professor and friend of mine does an interview about Good and Evil!

Go Dr. Falk!

Life Goes On, by Philip Gulley

So I'm writing an essay for Christian Education and I am NOT going to recommend this book as a resource for teaching in a parish setting, but I will recommend it as a fun read, especially for those in the ministry and those who know someone in the ministry. It's funny, sincere, and satire. A nice balance.

Too Funny!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

squirrels again

I found out the real reason we use Squirrelmail.

Out of the Mouths of Babes: Obama Wins

So, who the kids vote for has indicated who the next president is since 1940. And this year they went for Obama!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I went to watch Barack speak and got my pants torn off

Okay, maybe it wasn't as bad as that sounds.
A bunch of Seminarians/faculty and I got up real early in order to wait in line to listen to Sen. Obama. He, along with several state politicians, did a wonderful job, and we went to leave. So we are going out of the park along with at least a few thousand other people, and Dr. Gafney decides we can get out quicker if we jump the fence. Very true. And being former military she jumped the fence with style, probably liberated a few Kuwaities in the process. Then I try to get over the fence, I feel my pants catching, but I figure they will work themselves off... and they did, sort of. My pocket ripped off, so I wander back to my car with my jacket wrapped around my waist as to avoid the whole world seeing my whitie tighties.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Christopher Buckley endorses Obama

Interesting yes? Well... I think so. We are seeing realignment. Rove and his kind went too far with too little and the bough of the tree has broke, knocking loose not only libertarians but also the intellectual corner of conservatism.

A quote I need a source for

Who said, "Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God and we got the church instead,"?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The lie for which Palin must be punished

As some of my long time readers know Darfur is a big deal to me--stopping genocide is a big deal to me. In fact one of the main reasons I backed Richardson was his intense involvement in this issue. And so, during the debate when Palin said she'd pushed for divestment from Sudan as Governor of Alaska I was honestly impressed.
Unfortunately it turns out she did not push for divestment, in fact she tried to BLOCK divestment from Sudan.
In short, "The [Palin] administration killed our bill."
In addition McCain's wife holds 2 million dollars worth of investment in the Sudan.
I'm sorry but this truly can not stand.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Eviction suicide

This seemed pretty horrible, a 92 year old woman had her house foreclosed on and was going to be evicted. Instead of getting booted out she shot herself twice in the chest.

How Sarah Palin debates

What Sarah told me by email today

So for whatever reason I'm on Sarah Palin's email list. I think Barbara Cubin's campaign (Rep. Wy) gave my information to John Barasso's campaign (Sen. Wy) who gave it to Palin's campaign.
At any rate I recieved an email from her today telling me I need to send her money because Obama is using "shameful election tactics in Ohio" Their tactics? Same-day registration, and early voting. Neither of these are... um tactics.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Brilliant explaination of the market sent to me from my folks!

A friend's blog

So I like to talk about politics on my blog, some folk may have noticed. Well James here actually knows a little something about the subject. Check him out. Give him some L.Matrix love.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Signs of the End: "The Man" needs to be bailed out

I'm honestly getting a little worried and am wondering if the center can hold. When "The Man" is needing a bail out you know something is really wrong!
The president has said, "our entire economy is in danger," and that "The market is not functioning properly. There has been a widespread loss of confidence, and major sectors of America's financial system are at risk of shutting down."
Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin agreed that without bailouts we will have "another great depression."
Economists who've been in the business for 40 years are saying they've never seen anything like this.
The Congress isn't making a decision about how to fix this crisis.
And now Pakistani troops are shooting at American Helicopters on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border... and get this we are shooting back!

And where does this leave us?
Part of me thinks if "The Man" doesn't need to pay for his mistakes and debts I should not pay my recent hospital bills or repay my student loans. After all if the over thirty crowd can't take responsibility for their own house we irresponsible youngin's should be going amok in the streets, stealing stuff, looting, etc.
Another part of me thinks back to the great depression and to FDR's words, and I paraphrase, "thank God this is only about material things and not matters of the spirit."

I used to laugh at historical interpretations of the Book of Revelation. Luther's language of Pope as Anti-Christ was veiled in Eschatology. French Catholics were sure the French Revolution and Napoleon were enmeshed in that text and harbingers of the end, the London fire of 1666 was clearly time enfolded in the Mark of the Beast. In the teens, the '40's the '60's and the '80's the Great War, the Depression, the cultural revolutions, and the Cold War were all cloaked in Biblical desperation. In the 90's and now, we are fixated on Mesopotamia and "prophecy" in our time. Obama is anointed by some, mocked at "the One" by others, and a so called "prophet" has recently proclaimed the election of Sarah Palin, the woman from "the gates of the north" to be necessary for the return of Jesus.
And that all seems rather silly to me.
Yet, the stuff of our lives, specifically the uncontrollable events that loom monstrous over unfolding history, are clothed in a dangerous power, describable and made plain, by these visionary images loosed of old.
And right now, boy o' boy, it feels like we've been living in some odd times, from 9/11 to Iraq, Katrina to the current economic shakedown. These things can be viscerally described in mytho-poetic terms, the Fall of the Great Tower, the Flood, Gog and Magog, Beastly credit marking itself upon the furrowed brow of the nation.

But as I said before thank God this is only about material things. As for me I'm going to do the mature thing and grade some Hebrew Homework.

A thought about Squirrels and Seminary ethos

I've been thinking about squirrels. Why dear readers have I been thinking about squirrels? I'll tell you!
During my Undergraduate at U of O our online resources were called "Duckweb." This was because our athletic mascot was Donald Duck(yes we stole him from Disney and there is nothing they can do about it! Hahaha!). At University of Cambridge our Webmail system was known as "Hermes," as in the Greek God of messages/boundary crossing. This fit with the schools classical ethos quite well.
Now, good readers, I ask why does my Seminary have "Squirrel-mail?"
The obvious answer is that LTSP has a bit of a Squirrel infestation and they are as tame as angry Chihuahuas on speed.
Another answer is that we as Seminarians have so identified with the little human-esque animals that we notice them standing in the Orans position or hands folded over some piece of food as in prayer, that we've allowed them to, in some pre-modern sense, represent us.
Just a thought.

Friday, September 19, 2008

An image of time to think about at I turn a quarter of a century old

I turn 25 tomorrow.
A quarter of a century! Dostoevsky was a celebrated novelist by 24. Alexander the Great "liberated" Egypt by age 24. Einstein was working on gravitational theory while being a full professor.
Well, hopefully that's the end of my "quarter life crisis," rant. Really not much of a crisis, just a wistful contemplation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama's economic plan

I know some people like to claim all Obama does is "talk about change" and that he doesn't have any plans or ideas how to enact change, but that simply isn't true. First off actually read his plans (not just the economic ones I've linked to above) and also if you have time read his book, "The Audacity of Hope." I did this summer and have to say it was really good, especially his chapter on the Constitution, which makes sense as he did the whole teaching constitutional law thing before he became a Senator. In his book he outlines not so much specific policies, though he does get into that some, but the background and philosophy by which he comes to policy positions. His methods are thoughtful and fairly moderate, the thrust of the book is finding common ground amongst all Americans and expanding those places of commonality in such a way that policies can be achieved.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Women in Leadership

Just thought I'd point two articles by Evangelical types about their thoughts on Palin and how she jives, or does not jive, with their theology.
Article one
Articles two
A reminder I am Evangelical in the traditional Lutheran sense, not the sense that these folks use the term.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A picture of Palin from Anchorage

In some places they have artists decorate cows, in Cheyenne it was Cowboy boots, in Eugene it was Ducks, in Anchorage it was Salmon. So there you have it, the Sarah Salmon.

Monday, September 08, 2008

A profound statement

This is from one of my roommates: “I don’t want to live like a bear that owns furniture.”
This was instructive, as in the last five years I've "lived" in; three dorms, a co-op, a biblical library, a nursing home, and a converted monastery.
Mind you I now live behind a cigar and wine shop, but somehow it seems much more civilized, which is kinda nice.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Spitting in Hannah's eye

All is silent, save the sirens of the occasional emergency vehicle. My roommates are both off gallivanting, Violet and I are holding down the fort. The map suggests we will get another pass of rain and wind when Hannah's eye passes us by.
All in all it's been fairly mild here. Hopefully it will stay that way.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

beged kefet

So, I start TAing Hebrew tomorrow. One of the things I'll cover in section is the Beged Kefet letters, the letters that take dageshes. I vaguely remembered that Beged Kefet meant something in Hebrew.
After looking these words up I think "cloth hand" might be an accurate translation... Glove perhaps?

An improved version of the previous map

Monday, September 01, 2008

An alternative history in geographic form

I guess after becoming hooked on Strange Maps I thought I'd create a strange map of my own.

Where I drove

I thought it might be cool to post a map of my great migration from North Dakota back to Philadelphia.
Also, here is my last two weeks in map form, though the second leg of the trip was done via the air.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

And Moore said something stupid about the hurricane too

Lutherpunk reminds me that trivializing people's lives during disaster is a sad non-partisan thing.

Focus on the Family slips up?

So, considering that rain of biblical proportions is disrupting the REPUBLICAN National Convention maybe some conservative Christians should stop tempting and toying with God!
Just a thought.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Alaskans talk about Gov. Palin

Having spent two summers up in Alaska I knew how well liked Gov. Palin was and see McCain's choice for VP as picking a VP candidate, not a VP. She helps him get elected, but I don't think she will be of much help in governing. This in contrast of course to Sen. Biden who will be a big asset if Obama becomes president, but is less helpful as a running mate.
Palin shores up social conservatives and theoretically peels of Hillary die-hards, appeals to Westerners, and masks McCain with a pretty face, causing independence to give the ticket a second look. Biden on the other hand may help Obama with Catholics and Pennsylvanians. Yet Biden has more foreign policy experience in his little finger than the McCain/Palin ticket has period.
In short Palin is a candidate, Biden is a Vice President. Let's hope the election proves this to be true with an Obama/Biden win.

Back in Philly

So after a week in Oregon sleeping on folk's couches, roasting hot-dogs over a fire on the beach, etc. I'm back in Philadelphia again.
I still need to get that Endorsement essay done.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Kennedy speech

"My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here. And nothing -- nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight."
etc...Perhaps the torch has been passed!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Z's thoughts on Saddleback and Evil

I'm not a Road Warrior, I'm a Road Civilian

Well, I made it back to Philly a few days ago, it was a long drive, 20 something hours, first night in Duluth, second night in Lansing, third night home. I averaged 35 miles to the gallon, not bad considering I had a lot of junk in my trunk. ;)
The UP (Upper Peninsula) was beautiful, the Mackinaw Bridge was impressive, right up there with the Eiffel tower or the Bay Bridge... seriously, I thought it was that cool!
Also I noticed people REALLY don't go the speed limit. When on the toll roads I would go 10 miles over just to not get ran over by the folk going 20-30 miles over. So yes, truely I am no Road Warrior, but a Road Civilian.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The complexity of world events

I've been watching the TV and cruising around the web, first at CNN/BBC, then some blogs, trying to figure out what's what with the war between Georgia and Russia going on right now.
Here is what I've pieced together. Russia and Georgia both have a population of folk who were chased around by the Mongoles back in the day, these people eventually settled in regions now known as North and South Ossetia. The North Ossetians are within Russian territory and have been given limited autonomy, the South Ossetians declared independence from Georgia in the 90's after Georgia gained its independence from Russia, but South Ossetia was never recognized by Georgia or the international community. Southern Ossetia is marginally backed by Russia, in fact a lot of its population now has Russian citizenship. They would like to unite with Northern Ossetian and gain the autonomy that the Northerners have. There was some sort of agreement between the South Ossetians and Georgia that was enforced by Russia.
Georgia's current leader Saakashvili, who came on CNN this morning and asked for a cease fire and the return of Georgia's troops from Iraq, ran his election on being pro-western, Pro-NATO, and on regaining control of parts of Georgia, specifically South Ossetia and Abkhazia (another quasi-independent state).
So a few days ago he decided to take back Southern Ossetia, by force. In the course of this retaking of Georgia's lost provence some of the Russians enforcing the agreement between Georgia and South Ossetia were killed. Russia entered the fray, as has Abkhazia. Georgia is caught between Abkhazia and South Ossetia and outgunned by Russia.
Some people say Russia simply wants to defend Ossetians from "genocide." Others think they will use this incident to redraw borders and use the independence of Kosovo, which they greatly disliked, as precedence. Others think they are doing this in order to scare NATO into not expanding to Russia's border, essentially making an example out of Georgia in order to intimidate former soviet republics still within their sphere of influence.
And that's all I know off the top of my head.

The Media

So Russia invades a rebelious part of Georgia and the media turns to the death of Bernie Mac.
I don't know, seems like our priorities are a little out of wack.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

ELCA constitutional bylaw 7.47.01

"7.47.01. No person who belongs to any organization other than the Church which
claims to possess in its teachings and ceremonies that which the Lord has
given solely to the Church shall be ordained or otherwise received into the
ministry of this church, nor shall any person so ordained or otherwise
received by this church be retained in its ministry who subsequently joins
such an organization. Violation of this rule shall make such minister
subject to discipline."

So I'm reading through the ELCA's Constitution and ran across the above. Initially I said to myself, "yup, can't be a Mason." Then I re-read the thing a couple of times and got to thinking how widely this could be interpreted. Can I be part of a feed the children campaign? After all according to 4.02 the church was created to "Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless and committing itself to
their needs."
Okay, I'm being a little absurd, but I guess what I'm really asking is what aspects of Church are for the Church only?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My sermon:“There is a free lunch”

There are many altruisms, cliches, and aphorisms out there that have came into such common usage we don’t even stop and think about their meaning or original context.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. There is no I in team. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The trouble with the rat race is even if you win you are still a rat. A penny saved is a penny earned.”
Or take for instance, the phrase “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Lunch happens to be deeply on Matthew’s mind in today’s gospel reading. Before today’s reading we hear of Herod’s disastrous lunch which led to the beheading of John the Baptist. After today’s reading we go on and listen to Jesus debate with fellow Jews about the necessity of washing one’s hands before lunch. From there Jesus goes on to Tyre and uses the metaphor of lunch to concede to a Canaanite woman that even gentiles have a place at God’s table.
This phrase “there is no such thing as a free lunch” originated in the common pre-prohibition era practice of offering a “free lunch” at bars if the patron bought a beer. The bar owner expected to recuperate the money spent on these lunch with the profits made in beer and repeat business. So this “free lunch” is in fact hardly free, hardly comparable to the prophet Isaiah’s words, “Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
However good of a business practice it might be to draw customers in with a “free lunch” this practice is centered on an assumption of scarcity. There is only so much money in this world and if the customer doesn’t have it the bar does, and if the bar doesn’t have it the customer does. And for many this assumption of scarcity is not limited to economics. It is also assumed that there is only so much--food and power, housing and love-- to go around.
Assumptions of scarcity were the backdrop of Jesus’ world—the foundation of the Roman Empire, that occupier of Africa, Europe, and Asia, including Jesus’ own Galilee. This assumption of scarcity was the means by which the Emperor maintained control. The Emperor theoretically controlled everything in the empire, land, coin, and people—the abundance of the known world was his and he was Patron to the whole world. He was able to do this in the same way the Mafia controls neighborhoods and get rich quick pyramid schemes take advantage of their employees. The Emperor would gain the fidelity—the loyalty—of the aristocrats and the wealthy by handing out government and religious positions to them. The aristocrats in turn kept control of the “equestrian order,” that is the soldiers and the mid-level bureaucrats by handing out titles and land holdings. From there smaller gifts were given to citizens, and peasants, and finally slaves—this last group received the momentary joys of cruel entertainment and a little nourishment to quiet their empty bellies in the form of “bread and circuses.”
In this way loyalty was bought from above, and in this way gifts were not gifts, but burdens and bribes. There could be no relationship amongst equals, because everyone was racing to the top, trying to do anything to have leverage over others, trying to be a patron instead of a client. In such a system, bread became that which was not bread and the circus that which does not satisfy.
Let us imagine for a moment how today’s reading would sound if it found its foundation in scarcity, instead of in the abundance of God’s love that Jesus knew of from the prophet Isaiah and from his own experience of his Father.
To start off with the crowd would not have followed Jesus on foot, but on their knees, begging to Jesus’ enforces, the disciple, for access to their boss. Jesus would not have had compassion on them, but instead forced fidelity upon them as a price for his miracles. The disciples wouldn’t have sent the crowd away, but schemed how they could get more leverage over the crowd. The five loaves and two fishes would not have fed all, but been auctioned off to the highest bidder. There would not have been leftovers after five thousand plus people were fed, but instead four thousand nine hundred and ninety three people left out, unfed, because they couldn’t earn the disciples bread or fishes.
And this isn’t too different from today. Presidents have been talking about scarcity of oil since Carter’s speech entitled “Crisis of Confidence.” There is enough food to feed the world, yet America has an obesity epidemic and Africa goes to bed hungry.
And as a chaplain I am often confronted with spiritual scarcity. I hear sick people ask me if they’ve done enough to go to heaven, if their church attendance or born again experience or good works, have earned their salvation. They also ask if there is enough heaven out there for them too.
A world of scarcity is a scary place, a place where we succumb to our own self-interest. We want the assurance that we have acquired our own salvation, because we want to make sure we are the patron not the client, the fed not the hungry, the saved not the damned, the sheep not the goat.
And yet if we are honest with ourselves we will note that we are both sheep and goat. The most sinister of us is still human and so too is the most moral. The sheep and goat within each of us has permanently locked horns. It is this conflict within us that Martin Luther King Junior called the “schizophrenia of man.” It is this conflict that author William Falkner says, “alone makes good writing, because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.” It is this conflict that Jungian psychologists call the “realization of the shadow self” and Freudians discuss as the interaction between the Id and Superego. Robert Lewis Stevenson personifies this conflict in his book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Reformer Martin Luther said that we are Simul Justus et pecator, simultaneously justified and sinner. The Apostle Paul writes, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” In the beginning—at the start of Genesis humanity is made from dirt enlivened with God’s breath. We are a mess of mud and spirit.
We are both sheep and goat, from the lowest slave to the mightiest Emperor, from Mother Theresa to a common criminal. And so we can not entrust our salvation to ourselves—to the meagerness of our morality, the scarcity of our works, the insufficiency of our enthusiasm, or any such thing.
And even if this was not so the real question we need to ask is “is God a carnivore? Does God want to eat us? Does God want either lambchops or Goat Shishkababs?” No! God is with us and for us.
So we can find an unearned assurance in a simple trust that “the LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Trust that ours is a God of abundance, trust that God calls to us saying, “come to the waters, come eat bread, come for wine and milk without price.”
Trust that God came in the flesh as Jesus the Christ healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and proclaiming the forgiveness of sins to a broken and conflicted humanity. When we killed him his abundance overflowed the mortal coil and he came back forgiving us for the murder of him and de-fanging death that we might live eternally and abundantly.
Trust that the Spirit leads us toward reconciliation with, and concern for, fellow sinners. Living in a way that promotes equality and justice, the feeding of the hungry and the healing of the sick. In all this, and with our words, we are proclaiming Christ crucified and raised until he comes again.
There may be no free lunch, but at Christ’s table there is always a meal waiting for us. A+A


So I did three services today at three different nursing homes. Boy am I tired, but I feel pretty good about how I did. It’d be interested to know if folk who preach on a weekly basis begin to build up stamina for this kind of thing?
Before I went out to preach this morning I turned on the TV to see what other folk are preaching. Ed Young preached about God wanting us to have the best sex possible and that that is the point of marriage. He did this in front of a giant bed.
Dennis Swaggert let his audience know that Black Liberation theology is really an attempt to kill God, that if you see a female angel its actually a male angel in drag, and that he is really angry at McCain for refusing to call Islam a religion of the Devil.
A no-namer I flipped to let me know that prophetic images of lions eating lambs is really about where America is headed, another was tracing his family tree, and a third was letting parents know that if they don’t disciple their children enough they won’t obey God.
I don’t know what to say about all this other than the sermons on the TV seemed either irreverent, irrelevant, unintelligent, or unintelligible. I guess the thing that surprises me is how many people are listening to them, not only the hundreds in attendance live, but also those whose homes their message is being broadcast to. What do people see in some of these preachers? I know one of our professors at LTSP keeps telling us it sometimes isn’t what the pastor says, but what the congregation hears. That some of the most embarrassing sermons we and others give will end up transformed by the Holy Spirit into God’s word and grace in the lives of those who hear us, but still, what are people possibly hearing from these messages?
Enough from me.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


More than just acronyms these two things can clash, specifically when BLOGGING is involved. Here's the scoop, recently a CPE student (no one I know) blogged about their experiences at CPE, in the process of doing this they divulged private information. That's where HIPAA comes in, HIPAA is the medical privacy act, this blogger violated privacy laws. Each post might cost the person 20,000 dollars...
Can you say oops! I have to admit I can't imagine not stopping to think "hey this is private and privileged information." I guess some people really do assume blogging is an anonymous and private discipline. Strange... I mean I know I've got readers from 6 continents looking at my content.
Anyway its a fair reminder don't publish things that you don't want people to see.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Collar

Just something that I noticed when I started the whole Chaplain gig here in Grand Forks but haven’t blogged about yet. Some people, especially Midwestern Lutherans, don’t like the collar. Essentially they think it’s too Catholic, though they express this feeling by mentioning the idea of the priesthood of all believers. To me the collar does have a certain symbolic import “my yolk is light” etc, but more importantly it functions as an easy identification of a religious figure for patients. If I wear my decent looking blue shirt I look like a janitor, if I wear a shirt with a tie patients assume I’m a doctor, but if I wear a collar they know why I’m wandering around the hospital. They sometimes call me “Father” or assume I’m a priest and I have to explain I’m protestant, but they have a good idea why I’m there.
So, the best way to deal with this I’ve found is to wear my light blue clerical. I’ve still got the little tab under my neck, but my clothing screams neither Papist nor Angel of Death (and make no mistake for a lot of patients clergy in the hospital are viewed as the Angel of Death), in fact the light blue seems to have a calming effect on the patients, or maybe it is a calming effect on me.
And that’s about all I know tonight. Time to go to bed, let’s hope no one

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Endorsement Essay

So, one of the things I have to do this summer is write my endorsement essay for the ELCA so I can go on internship next year. The only problem is Seminary students are supposed to find it on our own on the ELCA website, which is impossible to navigate, and really frustrating to navigate wrongly when using dial-up.
I spent 40 minutes to find the endorsement questions and all the information I'll need for the essay! And I'm not computer illiterate either (though my computer is currently REALLY slow)!
And on top of that I've got only 10 pages to write about 9 questions!
End of complaining.
Oh, and to make these things easier to find here they are:
The Essay
Vision and Expectations
the Constitution etc.
Also a hint, don't search through the ELCA website, instead go through Google and add ELCA to whatever you are searching for.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Batman: The Dark Night (spoiler-ish)

I went and saw the new Batman movie tonight. It was worth going to see; though I warn you it isn’t for the faint of heart. Why? Because it lives up to its name; its dark. It involves a lot of death, a gruesome disfigurement, and very prominent moral anarchy.
On the other hand this violent anarchy is portrayed wonderfully, especially in the character of the Joker. Heath Ledger is the Joker! He pulls off the sociopathic clown bit 100%. The Joker is hell-ish, yet slightly funny at the same time. It’s the small touches—he claps along with the cops when Gordon is made Commissioner, but seemingly not in an ironic way. He also takes the time to use hospital hand sanitizer after some violent nuttyness in a hospital room.
Finally there is a larger social commentary going on throughout the film about the thin veneer of civilization and how fear and the threat of random violence can inject the masses with hysteria and cause otherwise rational individuals to do horrible things—for example try to kill an innocent man in order to stop a hospital from being blown up. The film plays with this for a bit and ends up with a scene of collective redemption through the refusal of both criminals and citizens to blow the other up in order to save themselves.
That’s about it. And its good to be back.

I'm back

I'm going to try and bend the blog to a little more personal/philosophical place, though I'm sure with November 2008 coming up politics is sure to follow.
Oh, and I intend to review the new Batman movie.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Suspension of Blogging

Well I've moved to Grand Forks sucessfully, but have very limited internet. So for the summer I'm not going to blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On the road again

I'm in Crawfordsville Indiana, headed to North Dakota to do the CPE thing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Oregon, polarized to the max

I thought this was an interesting post, it compares level of conservative/liberalness in voters, and found that Oregon voters who voted for Kerry were the most liberal in the nation, those who voted for Bush were the most conservative!
Interesting. Strangly, though PA and WY each went to a different candidate they both have a lot more moderate folks. Interestings
PS What do folk think of Kathleen Sebelius as VP? I thought her State of the Union rebuttle speech wasn't very good, but apparently she is very good at what she does.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Truth "versus" Love Project

So, the winners have finally been announced of the Truth vs. Love project. I placed 4th! Kinda cool yeah!?!
Here is a link to my Sermon, titled:Sinners under the Eyes of a Gracious God.
Also notice there are two LTSP students! Go Ben!
PS I finished my New Testament final today. AT some point I think I'll post about the book of Revelation.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Re:How do I reconcile my membership in the Democratic party and my Christian faith? (part three)

What I am really saying here is that injecting the Bible into governance may not be the best idea. So I will finally answer your question as a Lutheran. The main function of government is to keep civil order, because its very hard to preach the gospel in the midst of a war (see for example the decimation of the Christian population in Iraq since the war). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a political agenda.
More than simply keeping order a government should look out for the good of all its citizens. It should not play favorites or be beholden to a narrow ideological viewpoint. Demonizing of its citizens should be avoided and a diversity of ideas should be considered. And frankly having spent nearly 8 years now under the Bush Administration I genuinely believe American can be governed better. I think the Democrats will get us out of Iraq sooner than the Republicans will. I think some form of Universal Healthcare will in the long run help the country, as giving people the resources to prevent sickness and disease is better than being forced to pay for their emergency room trip and more expensive treatments that emergency treatment will incur. Further the American economy tends to do better under a Democratic Administration. I could go on, but you get the idea, there are plenty of good reasons for a Christian to be a Democrat.
I would like to add a caveat to all of this. I am not saying that Republicans can not be Christians or Christians be Republican. Republicans at their best want small government, support traditional values, are non-interventionalist, and are skeptical. Not bad things.

Re:How do I reconcile my membership in the Democratic party and my Christian faith? (part two)

With that background in place I hope you can see why the Republican Party seemed less than attractive to me. Now you mention that “the democratic party has a lot of liberal policies that are clearly contrary to the biblical teachings.” By this, I am going to venture that you mean the Democratic Party’s “pro-choice” position and its general support of civil rights for gay people.
I must admit I am made very queasy by the vast amount of consensus in the party about “choice.” It feels like this issue is often not well thought out and supported mainly because “that’s the Democratic position.” That said the way in which the right tends to demonize women who have abortions is horrible. For one thing it is creating an inhuman scapegoat to attack in a similar manner to the attacks on minority groups mentioned above. Also it ignores the culpability of the man who slept with the woman. Its takes two to tango. Attacking the person who has to make a humiliating, horrible, and horrifying “choice” while being silent about the other person who made this decision is disgusting. And when a woman does choose to keep her child she is called a leech on society. Her ability to collect money from the father is tisked at because it involves the state interfering with the lives of individuals. If a woman caught in adultery came to a Democrat he would offer as an option abortion. If she came to a Republican Rush Limbaugh would start snarling at her and they would eventually stone her. Neither of those options seem particularly Christian to me.
As for gay rights my time in Wyoming shaped my view on this subject too. I’ve met people close to Matthew Shepherd, who was murdered when I was 15. I also remember watching Fred Phelps and his crew picketing the trial and Shepherd’s funeral on TV. These experiences have made me believe that homophobia can and does lead to violence and murder. This surely is not God’s will. Subsequently I’ve met gays and lesbians and have come to believe they should have the right to marry.

Further if we are playing the “Government should do what the Bible says” game I would mention there are areas in which the Democratic Party does this better than the Republican Party. There are hundred of verses in the Bible about caring for the poor. Perhaps we should spend money on welfare “queens” instead of corporate “kings.” Excessive riches are condemned. Maybe tax cuts are not the end all be all? The book of Revelation should make any faithful Christian stop and ask if America’s role abroad is mirroring Rome. Some say “Thou Shall Not Kill” does not include war, but going on wars of choice do not seem like a Christian thing to do. Further, Luther’s gloss of this commandment includes in it a charge to “help and care for” your neighbor “when he is ill.” So by this logic universal healthcare becomes almost a biblical mandate!
What I am really saying here is that injecting the Bible into governance may not be the best idea.

Re:How do I reconcile my membership in the Democratic party and my Christian faith? (part one)

Dear Chris, I am wondering how you would like to reconcile your party affiliation with your faith given that the democratic party has a lot of liberal policies that are clearly contrary to the biblical teachings? I would be grateful to learn your perspectives.

We have to understand my party membership has been shaped by my personal experience of the two parties. I grew up in Wyoming, the second most conservative state in the Union. The political discourse there reflected this fact, and I being a contrarian by nature, reacted in kind. Here is what I learned about Republican values and thoughts growing up. (Understand these are the extremes, but very real extremes.)
Minority groups have caused America’s problems. Black inner-city “welfare queens” are taking money out of “our” pockets. “Illegals” have taken all of “our” jobs and are destroying our quality of life with their foreign culture. Gays have perverted “our” children and eroded America’s moral foundations.
When it comes to international relations America can not, and has not, committed any wrong. Any questioning of foreign policy is treasonous. Further, said foreign policy should always involve feats of military force, because that is the only thing foreigners understand.
A life of the mind and a healthy skepticism of the status quo is wrong. The opinions of teachers, professors, doctors, etc. are invalid because of their profession. They simply don’t understand the “real world,” and may in fact be plotting against America, and maybe even against Christ Himself.
I mention plotting above because for some Republicans there are actual active conspiracies perpetrated by “secularists” “liberals” “feminists” and the American government itself (yet for some strange reason America can do no wrong internationally). These conspiritors intend to do a variety of things, for example: create a one-world government, take away our guns, undermine traditional values, create a Caliphate of America, create a satanic “new age” religion, and destroy Christianity.
While we are on that subject apparently the Republican Party is the party of Christ, and Christianity is a facet of Republicanism. The husband is the head of the household, upper-middle class respectability (white picket fences, McMansions, stock portfolios, and a picture of Bush Jr. on the wall) is the ideal, and the family is hermetically sealed from any ideas from “the world.” That becomes the totality of the Christian life.
With that background in place I hope you can see why the Republican Party seemed less than attractive to me.

The Act of Confessing

In Lutheran Confessions, Dr. Wengert lovingly describes the Book of Concord as “catching faithful Christians caught in the act of confessing their faith.” I just think that’s kinda neat! Thought I’d share.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Yo’annid and John

So I was thinking about the book of Revelation today in New Testament discussion group, a good place to think about these things I suspect, and realized something I had realized before. There are a lot of similarities between how we perceive Islam and how the Romans probably perceived Christianity.
Case in point, John was stuck on Patmos “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” I read this to mean he was stuck there because he testified about Jesus and the government exiled him there. Likewise Islamic extremists have been “exiled” to Guantanamo Bay.
Likewise I am guessing there are some similarities between how Christianity perceived Rome and how some Radical Islamists perceive America.
America could be seen as Rome. Both Rome and America have unprecedented power.
While our military might has limits we can enforce a “Pax America” in a very deadly and real way.
Free trade and television has expanded American influence and culture all around the known world. Some aspects of our culture offend the religious sensibilities both abroad and at home.
On a good day we can dictate political policy to world leaders, or at least influence them greatly. Many world leaders are western educated, which may make it seem like we have seduced the elites of the world.
The status quo of global trade sometimes (often?) benefits America and other rich countries at the expense of poorer countries. Poor workers in other countries end up not working to build things they can own and use, but instead they are building widgets out of their countries natural resources for a salary that does not allow them to buy said widget in order to send the widget overseas to some rich westerner they will never meet.
Now I’m not saying America is Rome. I’m definitely not saying violence of any kind is a proper response to economic alienation, political domination, having one’s culture and/or religion offended, or feeling overwhelmed by the might of another country, and by that justifying terrorism. What I am saying is that the types of feelings these situations evoke might have been felt by early Christians.

Guantanamo prisoner’s letter released online, warns of more terrorist attacks to come

(AP) Yesterday a letter was released on the radical Islamic website www.Allahsarmyabroad.com. It was reportedly smuggled out of the American detention center in Guantanamo Bay Cuba. The document contained coded language denouncing Western decadence and praising the piety of several Turkish Mosques.
The author appears to be Yo’annid, a suspected Turkish terrorist with links to Al-queada. He was arrested in Ankara in 2004 while denouncing Turkish president Abdullah Gul at a pro-Islamic rally.
In the letter Yo’annid refers to America as “Rome.” He calls it a nation that “seduces the world’s ruling elite and business class.” It also urges Muslims around the world to abandon “Rome” “lest you take part in her sins.”
The document may also be inciting terrorist attacks on America, as Yo’annid describes “Rome” burning “with fire, for mighty is Allah’s judgement of her.” It also describes how Muslims siding with America in the War on Terror will “weep and mourn” the end of global trade after “the day of judgment.”

Friday, May 02, 2008

America assassinates Adan Ayrow

After three or four more or less unsuccessful gunship attacks on Islamic militants in Somalia America has finally killed someone they intended to. The AP article itself calls the attack an “assassination.”
This brings up similar questions to the one I had when we first started assisting Ethiopia in Somalia, is this legal, is this okay? I mean we never declared war in any way. And I’m pretty sure US policy, at least since our attempts on Castro’s life, is that we don’t assassinate folk. Again, I don’t know, I’m just wondering what precedence we have for doing this kind of thing? Panama? Granada? Bosnia? Iraq? Does 9/11 make it okay? What kind of action do we officially call what we are doing in Somalia?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A damn good review of the Democratic primary so far

As I watched it I couldn't help but think, "Man, I could have ignored all the happenings and just watched this and be about as informed as I currently am."

Another Judas "betrays" Clinton

This one, Joe Andrew, is pretty big. Perhaps we'll see the wind leave Clinton's sails?

Friday, April 25, 2008

A foretaste

Above is a picture of me with my new haircut, and trying on "The Dog Collar."

More about the voting math

Check it out. Hillary thinks she has the popular vote if you count Michigan and Florida... as long as you don't count states that had caucuses.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton--OR Undraft-Hillary

Hello. My name is Chris Halverson; I am a Seminarian at LTSP here in Philly. I have been a Democrat since George W. Bush defeated McCain back in 2000. I have worked hard for the party in 2002 and 2004 and would have done so in 2006 as well except I was out of the country. I love this party and I am worried the way in which you are campaigning is tearing it apart.
That you have decided to throw the "kitchen sink" at your opponent is truly sad. That you insist on insulting Bill Richardson (my choice for President until he dropped out) and branding him "Judas" is not acceptable or frankly unpresidential. Your clinging to the racially charged rhetoric of cocaine was out of bounds, and your campaign’s comparison of Sen. Obama to Jesse Jackson was patronizing at best.
In short I think the longer you stay in the race the less likely there will be a Democratic President elected in 2008. This is especially true if you continue to campaign in such an embarrassing and mean spirited way. If Sen. Obama ends up being our nominee you have wounded him severely in the eyes of the American public, his rival will be able to say something like, “Even Bill and Hillary Clinton say, you are too liberal, you sell cocaine, etc.” If you are the nominee you will have so alienated everyday voters such as myself by your acidic attacks and unkind words that we are going to have a VERY hard time voting for you.
At this point you have to know the numbers are against you, the only way you can win is by overturning the will of the electorate. I’ve run the math; you would have to win 69% of the vote in ALL the remaining state in order to get ahead of Obama. If Florida and Michigan are counted in the MOST favorable way for you, by this I mean assuming any vote not actually for Obama is for you, you still need to get at least 58% of the vote in ALL the remaining states. This is not going to happen, so again the only way you can win is by overturning the will of the electorate.
For the good of the Party, and ultimately for the good of America, please quit the race, or at least act civil toward your fellow Democrat, your fellow Senator, and your fellow citizen, Barack Obama.
Thank you for your time,
Christopher Lee Halverson
If you agree with my sentiments send Hillary a letter expressing your own frustrations about the harm being done to the Democratic Party. You can send it to her campaign here: http://www.hillaryclinton.com/help/contact/

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hillary rattles sword vs. Iran

She says if Iran obtains and uses a nuke vs. Israel her administration would "obliterate" Iran.
Honestly I don't think she is saying this because she wants to go to war with Iran, I think she's saying this because she wants to score political points and appear to be a hawk... And that's what worries me. If she's caught in "look tough" mode we'll never get out of Iraq! If she's so worries about not looking "liberal" she'll be paralyzed by the pro-war noise machine once she's in office.
PS I voted for Obama today!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Canvassing for Obama

I canvassed for 6 hours today, and I gotta tell you I feel kinda bad for anyone who has to sell things door to door for a living. Not that people were really hostile or anything, but wandering from house to house repeating the same thing over and over, finding most doors one knocks on to be closed. It can be frustrating.
On the other hand it can also be pretty cool, it makes you feel like you've done something, if nothing else you've made the electoral picture a little clearer for those people back in HQ who are looking at the big picture.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Obama gets popular culture in a way I don't

Recently, in response to the last debate, Obama brushed off his shoulder, and the crowd went wild. That action didn't make sense to me, but it does to a lot of other people. Here is what he was winking to:


Democrats and Republicans, the difference?

So I get email updates from both John McCain and Barack Obama. Often times these emails end with a request for money. McCain’s requests always start at fifty dollars and mention that the maximum contribution is 2,300 dollars, Obama’s starts at twenty five and ends with 1000 dollars.
Just thought I’d point that out.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama goes after my relatives

Check out Obama go after the Mill Workers, the Steel workers, and the Union men and women.
I mean, I'm a "Latte liberal" I work with my mind, my fingers, my pen, and my mouth, he had me since Richardson dropped out, but I think this kind of empathetic talk is the kind of talk that my late Grandfather, and lots of my relatives up in Northern Minnesota would get behind.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Some good news by mail!

I now can vote in PA, AND I got my assigment for next year, at Tabernacle Lutheran Church!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My interpretation of Romans

Paul's Gospel is that the Christ came to the Jews, who knew the compassion of God through the promise He had given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as well as through their scriptures. He came as a servant and was reproached. God’s compassion was not limited to the Jews, even God’s promise to the patriarchs was for all, for the Gentiles too. Together the two communities, now one, Jew and Gentile trusting in God, were to praise Him. They were to become like slaves for one another, bearing a fellow Christian’s scruples for the sake of harmony for the glory of God, filled with confidence in God’s future for them, for us.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Martin Marty defends Wright

Just thought I'd link to the article. Martin Marty is a pretty big name to in Lutheran circles. Here are a few quotes from his article:
"The four S's charged against Wright — segregation, separatism, sectarianism, and superiority — don't stand up, as countless visitors can attest. I wish those whose vision has been distorted by sermon clips could have experienced what we and our white guests did when we worshiped there: feeling instantly at home."
"That its members and pastor are, in their own term, "Africentric" should not be more offensive than that synagogues should be "Judeocentric" or that Chicago's Irish parishes be "Celtic-centric." Wright and colleagues insist that no hierarchy of races is involved. People do not leave Trinity ready to beat up on white people; they are charged to make peace."
"But the Book of Jeremiah is so full of blasts and quasi curses — what biblical scholars call "imprecatory topoi" — that New England preachers invented a sermonic form called "the jeremiad," a style revived in some Wrightian shouts."
"Having said that, and reserving the right to offer more criticisms, I've been too impressed by the way Wright preaches the Christian Gospel to break with him. Those who were part of his ministry for years — school superintendents, nurses, legislators, teachers, laborers, the unemployed, the previously shunned and shamed, the anxious — are not going to turn their backs on their pastor and prophet."

Ben Witherington reviews "The Year of Living Biblically"

When I'm on CPE in North Dakota I think I'll have time to buy a copy of this and read it for pleasure!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Church choice, LZ's great post

Well, maybe LZ will stop talking like this now!
Hillary seems to be willing to use anything and everything for political gain.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Also notice the Al Gore style beard

I don't know, I'd only seen Richardson clean shaven before. Being of the "bearded community" myself I have to say I approve. With the beard he no longer gives off the tubby latino vibe... A beard hides a multitude of sins...

Richardson goes for Obama

A good day for Obama. Among other things this suggests to me there could be a place for Richardson in an Obama administration!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Rev. Moss again

The link sends you to a clip of Rev. Moss, the guy I saw preach two nights ago.
Last nights Preach with Power was good, though a little less intense. The pastor, Dr. Alvan N. Johnson, Jr, preached a sermon entitled "The Autobiography of Sin" in which he recounted large parts of the Bible from the perspective of Sin up to the point of his obituary, cause of death being Jesus' death on the cross.
It was quite good. Again the service was about 3 hours.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality is out

I'm off to Preaching With Power tonight (so that'll be 3-4 hours) and then I need to read "Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life" so I won't get to reading the statement today, but just thought I'd mention it is out.

Rev. Otis Moss, III

Last night some of us seminarians went to Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ to hear Rev. Otis Moss, III preach for the “Preaching With Power” series. Now you might know of Rev. Moss, he’s a pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ. TUCC is the church of presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Rev. Moss was amazing. It was obvious he knew his stuff in a very deep intellectual level. He was Orthodox as can be, the message was sound. But the medium! Oh my goodness! He preached like Rev. Cleophus James from The Blues Brothers. He was getting so excited he did a little moonwalk while preaching. He drug President Cray (LTSP’s president) up from his chair, he was sweating and getting into it. He preached for 45 minutes non-stop, without notes, no holds barred! He REALLY wanted us to meditate on the Blind man and the pool of Salom!
In addition, since COGIC is out of the Pentecostal tradition (Moss on the other hand is UCC) people were falling out in the spirit, spontaneously laughing, as well as calling and responding to Rev. Moss. It was an intense service.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fallon has fallen

Check out the article that apparently got him fired. He's made out to be a pretty good dude, sort of Westley Clark-ish perhaps? He's all about real-politics and dealing with threats economically/diplomatically in order not to have to deal with them militarily. That said is sounds like no nation would want to face off against him. I think the real problem may have been the way the article portrayed the current administration, something Fallon had no control over.
Who knows.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

child from Hillary ad is an now a young woman and an Obama supporter

I thought this was interesting, the "Red Phone" Hillary ad was shot quite a few years ago, and the sleeping girl is now 17 and an Obama supporter.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

If the Democratic primaries were the real election Clinton would win

So I'm looking at this map and the projections there and plugged it into this electoral map. Hillary would win 280 to Obama's 230. That said in Democratic primaries delegates are awarded proportionally, so all this was was a thought exercise.

Only in Wyoming

The secret service had to confiscate Pistol Pete's pistol when Obama was at UW.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Wyoming matters!

It's pretty cool to see your own state, heck your own town, mentioned in national political news. We're all Iowans now!

Andrew Sullivan compares Clinton's style of politics to assassination

So I tend to like Ol' Sullivan, he's bright, conservative, and British. Yet, today he has decided Obama loosing because of Clinton's ugly political machine will be the same for my generation as Kennedy's death was to my parents generation.
I mean I'll be pretty darn pissed if dirty politics wins, but at least for me Obama's defeat isn't THAT big. Within four years, maybe eight, we may get another chance to get things right. After all in 2000 McCain's defeat was like the death of Captain America for some of us, in 2004 I shaved my head in mourning over Kerry's loss, but elections are elections, they gauge the will of the people in a particular time and place, they decide who runs what, they sometimes repudiate really good people for really dumb reasons, BUT that is different than the leader of the free world, followed by his brother and the figurehead of the civil rights movement, all being brought down by brutal violence. The bullet's finality gives a different message, it says even when you win you can't really win, we'll win even if it kills you! That kind of intimidation is much more brutal, more soul killing, more movement killing, than what Clinton is doing.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

An exciting contest I've entered

Whenever I can get a little bit of time together to just write about God it feels pretty darn good... amazing how Seminary sometimes actually seems to take time away from that kind of thing!
I'll keep you posted on the results of the contest.

If the election were held today

So here is a map of polls done in all 50 states. The Democrats win whichever candidate they bring out, but win more with Obama. Obama wins more traditionally "Red" states, whereas Clinton wins more of the "Blue" states. It looks like it would be a more traditional fight between McCain and Clinton; blue states stay blue red states stay red, and Clinton flips Arkansas. On the other hand Obama loses PA and NJ, kind of surprising, but makes up for it by winning the west.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

There was a short story about the 2000 election

I forget who wrote it, but the basic premise is that a man working for the Gore campaign falls in love with a woman working for the McCain campaign, once McCain fails the woman starts to work for Bush. The whole Florida thing happens, and the couple splits up over the sourness created by the “stolen” election.
I bring this up because I ran across this article in which a couple is divided over Obama and Hillary.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Odd, Garfield without Garfield

Garfield without the cat, makes for one lonely Jon.
I wonder what would happen to Calvin and Hobbes if Hobbes was eliminated?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Luther-proof texting or falling in love?

As I sit here writing an essay "Why Does Christ Show Up in the Supper," while finishing off a Sam Adams, I wonder to myself. On one hand getting the opportunity to read a lot of good Lutheran theology and study under someone who knows what the heck Luther is all about is wonderful, I would unashamedly describe Confessions as "Falling in love with Luther again for the first time." At the same time the more I enmesh myself in Luther's arguments the more I find myself resorting to "proof texting" essentially just citing Luther and moving on.
No grand point here, just thought I'm mention that this style of discourse going against my own better judgement, I'm all about discovering things on my own terms. Yeah, I guess I might just be on the wrong side of the Enlightenment. My parents didn't raise no stinkin' proof texter!

William F. Buckley is dead

A conservative to the bone. I knew him first through his son, Christopher Buckley, the satirical author. Later in reading his own National Review. He was a thinker if nothing else.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dodd endorses Obama... Now if Biden does too Obama seals up the white haired old man vote!

In other words the establishment candidates are starting to back Obama, not Clinton. Interesting. I think they want this contest done, so the two fighting don't give too much ammo to McCain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A friend's new business

Some Little Known Facts About Minnesota