Thursday, April 27, 2006

Arise O Lord!

He’s back! The Hammer of the Papist’s is back, bad, and blogging over at Luther at the Movies. Arise o Lord for a wild boar is in the Cineplex. With a heavy hand for his assistant and tongue like a hatchet for candid reviews on current movies and culture the Reformer delivers savagely humorous blows.
Honestly, I have laughed more this week because of this blog than I can remember. Whoever is creating it has surely caught the flavor and feel of what is both familiar and humorous to Luther’s admirers. I do suspect that only Confessional Lutheran types may find it funny, but they will find it very funny. If you do nothing else today check out Luther at the Movies

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The recent stem cell debate on KFUO

I just finished listening to the Issues ect. interview with Don Rueben, the guy in charge of Missouri's Stem cell research initiative. What a great interview. Wilken displayed his caliber as radio host, asking the right questions and follow up but never allowing the conversation to degenerate into an attack piece.
While Rueben doggedly banged the cures for sick kids drum, and tried to make everyone believe that these will be cures for everyone in society, I had a different view.
First, if these cures ever do come to fruition, what is the likelihood that the working poor, who are not insured will be given access. Mostly nil, and everyone knows it. Lack of decent medical care for the poor has long been a recognized problem, doubtful that people who are unable to get a corrective orthopedicics surgery now will get genetic therapy in the future. These new processes will mainly benefit the rich.
Listening to the Hollywood elites demands last year for federal stem cell research funding, you could hear their frustration at being opposed by President Bush and the right, in their attempts to procure this new research. Imagine there position though, here they have power and money, but are being kept from something they want by the poor, because the poor have these archaic religious beliefs and are allowed to vote and influence public policy. This defines much of the culture war in the country. People who may have religious values and little else, are able to keep the rich from their whims, by engaging in the political process. Like the abortion debate the true point of separationtion for everyone is what is to be consider a valuable human life. For some of us, it is the point of conception, as soon as a definable strand of human DNA is established. To others it may not include patients in a vegetativetive state, the handicapped, elderly, or other burdens to society.

For many of us our reward is not in this life, likewise we cannot in good conscience agree to allow a democracy that we are a part of to give approval to things that are not in line with our moral beliefs. We do not need to feel guilty when the loosing liberal side of a political struggle claims to allows us our beliefs but chastises us for "imposing it on others". Hey! Wake up that's what happens in a democracy. One side always gets to impose it's viewpoint through the process. Many times that viewpoint is grounded in a religious standing, which doesn't invalidate it.
As long as the working class masses are allowed to have both their moral views and voting rights, elitists will have to use greater effort to sway the process.

The insert photo of an early embryo looked too much like Luther's seal to not use it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Baptism and Return

The Lutheran Church that I was baptized in is only four miles from my door. It was the church that my mother was confirmed, married and baptized her two children in. It was also the one that I went to Sunday school for the first couple of years but when I didn't want to go anymore, was allowed to quite. Now I was too young of an age to be allowed to make this choice, but because of a strange laize'fare attitude that my mother and her parents had regarding religion for children, I was allowed to quite going. By the time I was in middle school I was attending an Open Bible church in town mainly because I was invited by a friend. This would be the sum of my religious exposure as a child. Years later when I was enlisting in the Navy and filling out the required forms, I was asked for my religious affiliation, I originally put "Non" but then remembering my baptism, something I had hardly done before, I changed it to Lutheran. Now I understand how a Christian has such assurance as stated by Dr. Luther. When we question our justification or faith we can always look back to our baptism and know that we are saved through Jesus Christ and the sacrament. I'm sure the Navy did not intend on leading me back to the faith, but I can point to this question that is asked of all recruits, and know that this was the spark that smoldered, eventually reminding me that I am a Christian, a Lutheran. Is there a more obvious fact that the Holy Spirit alone, brings us to faith, keeps us in it and returns us to it if needed? There is no doubt in my mind, the recruiter was not even a Christian for all I know, he was just asking the required questions. Having never been chatechized my knowledge of such things was shamefully small, but I did know that my baptism occurred as a Lutheran. This would later shape the church that I would find to raise my children in. After attending adult classes, I continued to try to find more study material to grow in my faith, and knowing that Concordia Publishing House is the synods publisher, I selected works from it. Various writings of Luther, along with Spirituality of the Cross by Veith, and The Defense Never Rests by Parton. They both are quick reads, accessible for lay types like myself and help to solidify Lutheran identity in their descriptions of shared experiences that many of us coming out secular or evangelicalism can recognize. It's important that contemporaries of Lutheran study be encouraged to write and read similar books.
For now, when I'm not blog cruising, I'm picking through Luther's collected sermons, and re-reading Bondage of the Will.

Long Dresses, Lent and Culture

A family member recently asked us "what do the kids want for Easter?, I plan on buying them some presents." Presents? when we were children this wasn't a practice. Why has it become so now? Then I realised that this is what passes for culture in America. We are a consumer based country, denial of religious practices by religious "free" Christians has led us to the point where all we have as American's are buying gifts for Christmas and Easter, and many times not even attending a worship service assoctiated with it. The only recognized holidays are the federally noticed ones. But we have another path we can choose. Following the traditional church calander. If you consider yourself a traditional Christian this is your culture. Without it you will be awash in a world of consumerism and meaningless holidays. Don't get me wrong, being a veteran and having lost family members in war, Veterans and Memorial day are special to me, but for many it is just extra day off of work.
This line of thought started a year or so ago when a friend who normally decries American homogenous culture, made disparaging remarks about some local Baptist's whose women folk always wore long dresses. I attempted to point out his inconsistancy in this matter but to no avail. In his mind different was weird, even though he knows he wants the culture to be something more than new cars, stylish clothes, mall shopping, sitcoms, and ESPN. We will never be able as a country to have some kind of deeply spiritual, or meaningful cultural practices, it's too big and varied and has been for a long time.
I have seen postings lately questioning the need to observe Lent with the traditional "no halleluhas" and personal denials. As Lutherans we know that the giving something up for Lent does not merit us anything in heaven, and the changes in the liturgical are probably adiaphoria as far as many are concerned. Regardless, I personally exhort all who are interested, into observing the traditions of Lent. Wether it is giving up something we like to eat so that we may contemplate Christ every time we eat, or taking that extra money we may have from our denials and doing something that will show love to our neighbors. For me it is a disciplining tool that reminds me that Christ suffered for me and I was bought at a price.
I started engaging in Lenten observations 4 or so years ago, since then it has increased my interest in the Church calander, and following that as my primary counting of time through the year. Family research revealed that patron family saints were St. Anne and St. John. So along with Lutheran Church calander we also celebrate these two saints' feast day's. The primary value here is that we are making christianity our culture.When you count the days from Church seasons and festival, you begin changing your viewpoint of the world, and expressing your beliefs in the way you live your life, which is the meaning of culture.