Dear Gay Lutheran:
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you’ve never marched with a jock-strap on in a Gay Pride parade; not because you don’t sympathize with the movement, but rather because that kind of activity is probably too “out” for you. Our jock-strap clad brothers give the appearance of being quite comfortable with their sexuality and their sexual preferences; perhaps for some in those parades who may not be completely “with” the “gay movement,” marching may be psychologically cathartic; it may allow them to feel as if they belong somewhere. I could be wrong, and often am, but I don’t think that’s you.
I’m betting instead that you may have experimented . . . Read All
As I was doing the “Jingle Bell Rock” with all my homies in hodies at the Wal-Mart, it dawned on me just how top to bottom Lutheranism actually is. You know when you’re sitting on the bus on the way to Wal-Mart no one cares about Tony Jones; no one gives a damn about the ordination of women; the babe with “Jesus Christ” tattooed across her ample breasts could care less ‘traditional marriage,’ hell she already has three kids by two different dads and hasn’t married yet. The dude with the lid and pants down around his knees and his Obama cell phone doesn’t care about your blog, or what journal you’ve been published in, or how many members you . . . Read All
“Where are you?” That was the question God asked Adam, and what a dumb question for a God to ask a member of his creation. Didn’t He know where Adam was, or was there something more to the question? God did know where Adam was, but did Adam? It wasn’t a divine game of Hide-and-Seek, in fact it wasn’t a game at all. When God said to Adam “Where are you?” it was as if He said: “Now look what you’ve done; come now and see the condition you were in and where you have now landed.” And He didn’t say it in anger or rage; rather it was said simply as a statement of fact: “This Adam, this is . . . Read All
The Nicene Creed speaks with remarkable clarity, yet it is generally not the first place theology looks for answers to the most basic questions of Christianity, which in itself is a bit of a paradox since the formation of the creed was to put in brief form precisely what it is that Christians can all say “I believe in.” The Nicene Creed contains its own version “Merry Christmas” each time we read these words: “who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man”: Homo factus est…Merry Christmas.
There are several items contained in that phrase: the reason he “came down,” how . . . Read All
As a rule I’m not a fan of holidays, but I generally like the meal on Thanksgiving Day largely because you can pick your turkey but you can’t pick your family. It isn’t so bad for me, at least not yet, none of my children are married so at the very least all I have to endure are my daughter’s boyfriends, and a bottle of Jamesons’ goes a long way toward helping me over that hurdle. I don’t have daughter or sons-in-law yet that I have to be nice too, and until there’s a marriage—God forbid!–I don’t have to pretend. But they never stay long anyway: they come, they eat, they smile, they speak the obligatory and sentimental language of . . . Read All
Error circa creaturas redundant in falsam de Deo scientiam. So said Aquinas in Contra gentiles: “Mistakes about creatures lead to mistaken knowledge about God.” Or to quote Robert J. Daly: “Bad theology leads to bad morality.” The topic of marriage within the world of the LCMS is suffering from this malady, as theology begins to sound more and more like Republican talking points and scripture is pushed entirely to one side. While I am certainly no fan of Crossfire’s Van Jones, he did get one thing right: if in fact traditional marriage is under assault within the United States, it is the result of “friendly fire”: heterosexuals often seen to be “traditional” marriage’s most deadly enemy.
Ralph Reed was . . . Read All
Here comes Advent with a bang and a shout! She’s a partying kind of girl: bright lights, sounds of thunder, trumpets, smoke, power, majesty; the surface of cemeteries littered with holes and caskets and vaults that used to hold human bodies!
No more mangers, no more swaddling clothes or oxen and asses; no more Wise Men and their gifts—only angelic armies at the right and left hand of the Lord! All the judgment texts of the preceding weeks: Malachi’s leaps and bounds, sheep and goats and goats and sheep, resurrection of the body, all are now subsumed into the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”!
“CHRIST IS COMING,” Advent shouts as she bangs incessantly on her . . . Read All
FaceBook is an interesting experience, and it is a different experience than say a chat-room or a blog. What’s more intriguing to me than your run-of-the-mill cyber-stalkers, clerical or lay, who gather information on potential clerical enemies and then spread that information across cyber-space much as a farmer might spread manure, is the etiquette of friending.
“Friending,” it seems to me, is at bit like-dare I say the word?-cruising. I had to check with my favorite source, “The Urban Dictionary,” to make sure the word hadn’t changed much since my own youthful indiscretions during those heady pre-sanctified days, and thankfully it hadn’t. It seems to me that “friending” takes place in much the same kind of casual, non-committal way: . . . Read All
And they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and glory.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
Hear ye, hear ye
This court is now in session.
His honor, God
the Father presiding.
Hear ye, hear ye
The court of judgment is
Just about ready to do its thing
I don’t want no tears
I don’t want no lies
Above all else, no alibis.
Uh oh……here comes the Judge
Here comes the Judge
That he is the Judge.
In 1968 Dewey ‘Pigmeat’ Markham made “Here Comes the Judge” a comedy favorite, with its satire of courtroom etiquette, but as funny as the song may have been, it . . . Read All
Preachers get no end of homiletical advice: warnings, admonitions, suggestions, and from time to time even threats. The world is as full of arm-chair homilists as it is arm-chair doctors, coaches, theologians, teachers, and politicians. Everyone can do it better, and as an Elder here once told me, “Writing a sermon is like falling out of bed.” There you have it. To make matters worse, we homilists have exceedingly brittle egos. Critiquing the sermon of another is akin to insulting his mother, for at some level we all believe we’re the Lutheran equivalent of Chrysostom, Leo the Great, Augustine, Ephrem the Syrian or Melito of Sardis. Even the least of the homilists gets a “Like” for their posted sermons.
I . . . Read All
We ask you brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed…Let no one deceive you in any way.
It was the third morning, and very, very early, when three women, like the three Magi, came bearing gifts: oil, spices and perfumes. They were not expecting to find a babe in swaddling clothes, but rather the body of a son and a Lord. The morning was dark, yet they found the place where he had been laid, perhaps guided by the light of love, and to their surprise, there was no body, only the linen with which a body had been bound, and yet not strong enough to hold. The tomb was empty. Mary remained outside the empty tomb . . . Read All
[In the event you may care, I wrote this several years ago, with a Grey Goose at my side. I've since of course repented of those kinds of sins and am well on my way toward full sanctification.]
Having been in what would euphemistically be called a “lower middle class” neighborhood for four years now, and with a kitchen that has a panoramic view of the alley in all its putrid beauty, I have to say that I have never considered just what a great equalizer Christmas really is. I was out walking the dogs last evening, and as the chained pit-bulls and mastiffs snarled, snapped, and lunged, I noticed that the Crack House had a manger in the window. . . . Read All
Friday, November 1, I posted a piece on the information some of the brothers had (or soon will have) received from their Circuit Visitors, at the direction of their District Presidents. That material included a PDF of the “Theses” posted by Professor John Pless, “Infant Communion in Light of the New Testament” by Craig R. Koester; “Should Infants Be Communed? A Lutheran Perspective” by Mark D. Tranvik; and “The Practice of Infant Communion: An Examination” by Edward G. Kettner.
Now logically if a Circuit Visitor hands you a list of documents that deal with a particular pastoral practice and he tells you from where the request to give those documents to you originated, one would assume, logically, . . . Read All
Several weeks ago, some of our brothers who are more militant in their pro-infant communion positions witnessed a theophany: a Circuit Visitor hand delivering material to them from their District Presidents, who received the same from St. Louis (rather like “The House That Jack Built” isn’t it?), that dealt with why infant communion is not a Lutheran or Confessional practice. In addition to the theses nailed to the cyber church door yesterday by Professor John Pless, the reading material included “Infant Communion in Light of the New Testament” by Craig R. Koester; “Should Infants Be Communed? A Lutheran Perspective” by Mark D. Tranvik; and “The Practice of Infant Communion: An Examination” by Edward G. Kettner.
I don’t . . . Read All
In an essay titled “A Word Made Flesh: Incarnational Language and the Writer,” Kathleen Norris insightfully points out the inherent danger in writing “about” the Incarnation-and by extension most “religious” topics: that danger is actually a part of speech we know as the adjective. To write (or preach!) in such a way that does nothing but describe the Incarnation (for example) as if it were a painting, or a sculpture, or even an architectural work, does nothing to help people understand what has taken place within the “mystery” of the Incarnation, and more importantly, how it affects them on a personal level. Her argument is that people understand the mud and dirt of a manger; people have some sort of . . . Read All
On All Saints’ Day in 2008 I wrote a homily that began with this question: “Do you remember when you were first acquainted with death?” In 2008 the question was just an abstraction for me; sort of a throw away kind of line. I then went on to ask how you reacted after the funeral or the burial-what did you do, did anything change in your life, blah, blah, blah. Death often does seem like a lottery of sorts, taking people we love, people we might not have loved, those we know, those we didn’t know, the significant, the insignificant, the anonymous, the famous, the rich or the poor. To put it bluntly, death just doesn’t give a damn.
Now . . . Read All
Reformers are by and large a pain in the collective hind end of history: they burst on to a historical scene with no invitation, they continually challenge authority, the status quo is not something they will suffer to continue, they are often the cause of war and bloodshed, and they are stubborn, arrogant and believe that they and they alone are “right.” When they die, their followers-or in some cases their sycophants-attempt to carry on their work, often fine tuning it to suit a different set of needs (to put the best construction on it); or simply take the bones of a reformer’s thought or purpose and place new skin upon it, all the while claiming to follow ————– and . . . Read All
This Sunday past, the heretical among us using the Three Year Lectionary, were presented with the Tale of Pesky Widow from Luke 18.1-8. We were presented, in parable form, with the promise from Jesus that if an unrighteous judge who could care less about man or God was able to grant this widow’s request for justice, how much more will “God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily” (Lk. 18.7-8). “Speedily” was the word Jesus used, and if we’re to take Jesus at his word then “speedily” has to mean with all due haste. And as for the word . . . Read All
I don’t think you have an “agenda.” I think you’ve struggled with inclination, orientation, sexuality, same-sex eroticism, and any other psychological/sociological buzz words or phrases that fly around whenever the topic turns to Gay Christians, or more specifically, to you. Maybe you’ve have a same sex relationship in your past; maybe you’ve experimented in the past—but you get that whatever homosexuality is called, however it’s parsed, sliced or diced, it can simply never be acceptable within the institution of the church. To that end, you’ve repented; our Lord has heard that prayer and has in fact forgiven you. Now however you’re considering attending a seminary or may already be at one.
I’m with you dude, 100%. The church, . . . Read All
Never underestimate a Widow: she may be elderly, she may be poor, she may even be in poor health, but never, ever count her out. Don’t let your presuppositions about her—her meekness, her passivity, her seeming humility, even her faithfulness—cause you to doubt just how tough and tenacious a woman she was. She may not have the physical strength of Jacob, but she definitely has every bit of his endurance. She may not be physically wrestling like Jacob, but she is every bit as determined to prevail.
She doesn’t have anyone in her corner, no protector, no patron—all she has is an absolute desire for justice, and while she has no real political or social power . . . Read All
Perhaps the greatest peril that the phrase “Speaking the truth in love” faces is its presumption that at least within the Church, there is a working knowledge of sin and moral evil and yet even within the Church the force of such words has lessened. Ask the average Western Christian whether he or she believes that a woman has the right to choose to keep or terminate a pregnancy; whether homosexuality is simply one lifestyle amidst many, or whether living together before marriage is actually a “sin.” The same Western Christian, generally speaking, no longer believes that the concept of sin has any real applicability in their lives. It is the “easy conscience” of man that Reinhold Niebhur spoke of . . . Read All
I just paged back through the current issue of The Lutheran Witness, October 2013. It’s intriguing to me that in all of the articles dealing with same sex attractions the word “incarnation” is not mentioned once, at least not that I saw. What I wonder then is how one can adequately speak from a spiritual point of view about sins of the flesh, and yet ignore flesh? I see the phrase “Speaking the Truth in Love” peppered throughout the issue, and yet to do so, in my estimation, requires the Incarnation. There’s a great deal of talk about forgiveness, “the Gospel,” vocation, “the truth,” saying “hard things,” but nowhere does anyone in this issue engage human sexuality, human flesh . . . Read All
Dear Queer Lutheran:
Ordinarily I wouldn’t even consider such an opening for a letter, but I don’t know your name and needed to get your attention; I hope you can forgive me. I’m writing this not as a pastor (though perhaps I should), or a moral philosopher, or a moralizing Christian; rather, as a fellow “addict.” I have one word for you, and it isn’t repent; rather, it is Incarnation. It’s a word you don’t hear much about in the dreary, predictably condemnatory world of the Christian Church’s attempt to correct your “problem.” In a world full of Law, the Incarnation is a blessed respite. And let’s at least be realistic about things: if you are gay and Lutheran, . . . Read All
In this country the working presupposition is, at least in theory, that one is innocent until proven guilty. Once again, that’s the theory. The reality is that those under the scrutiny of law enforcement or a local District Attorney’s office are often presumed to be guilty and it is only a matter of time until they are caught. Even if subsequently cleared of a crime, the stench of a trial often lingers.
While processes such as these are hard on people, they tend to be especially difficult on those who work for the church, those who are ordained, and those whom society, to say nothing of the local parish, believe should be above reproach. Unfortunately when a pastor is . . . Read All
During the height of the CRM frenzy this summer past, before the LCMS Convention, I was often roundly criticized for arguing that there was not, nor would there ever be an institutional “fix” to an essentially christological problem. If I had a dime for each e-mail I received accusing me of the rape of “good order” I could easily retire in comfort. Now here we are, three, almost four months out, and Resolution 3-10A is nothing more than the faint aroma of an empty bottle. Earlier this month we were treated to rather sycophantic coverage of the Council of Presidents in which the following appeared:
“In reviewing the 160 LCMS commissioned ministers receiving interim approval to begin their . . . Read All
My son’s high school football team came out from the locker room wearing pink last Saturday, since “pink” is the color you wear to show the world you care about breast cancer. I watched the Broncos play the Cowboys and I noticed the even the penalty flags were pink; again, “pink” is the color you wear to show the world you care about breast cancer. My sister had a double mastectomy, my father had his left breast removed (yes Virginia: men get breast cancer too), and I’m not at all certain what “pink” ever did for either of them.
I wonder how many other diseases have months or colors assigned to them; wasn’t orange once the color of the . . . Read All