Archive for February, 2006

C.S. Lewis on Athanasius

February 8th, 2006 Comments off


Link: St. Athanasius:The Incarnation of the Word of God..

When I first opened his De Incarnatione I soon discovered by a very simple test that I was reading a masterpiece. I knew very little Christian Greek except that of the New Testament and I had expected difficulties. To my astonishment I found it almost as easy as Xenophon; and only a master mind could, in the fourth century, have written so deeply on such a subject with such classical simplicity. Every page I read confirmed this impression. His approach to the Miracles is badly needed to-day, for it is the final answer to those who object to them as "arbitrary and meaningless violations of the laws of Nature." They are here shown to be rather the re-telling in capital letters of the same message which Nature writes in her crabbed cursive hand; the very operations one would expect of Him who was so full of life that when He wished to die He had to "borrow death from others." The whole book, indeed, is a picture of the Tree of Lifea sappy and golden book, full of buoyancy and confidence. We cannot, I admit, appropriate all its confidence to-day. We cannot point to the high virtue of Christian living and the gay, almost mocking courage of Christian martyrdom, as a proof of our doctrines with quite that assurance which Athanasius takes as a matter of course. But whoever may be to blame for that it is not Athanasius.

Categories: Christian Life

Luther Library

February 6th, 2006 Comments off

A new site in the blogosphere offering reviews and comments on books of interest to Lutherans. Check it out.

Luther Library.

Categories: Books

What? They all read Danish now?

February 6th, 2006 2 comments

What? They All Understand Danish?

By Uwe Siemon-Netto

This Monday, Feb. 6, the Issues etc. program of station KFUO in St. Louis will continue its series of interviews on lay vocation. This series deals with God’s many callings to service in the temporal realm. In view of the current riots in Islamic countries over the publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper allegedly depicting Mohammed as a terrorist, I shall once again reflect on the vocation of the media.


Forgive me for being perplexed. How come so many Arabs, Pakistanis, Iranians and Indonesians understand Danish? How come thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of them whirl around like dervishes, torching northern European embassies, churches and shops because of a series of cartoons that appeared in “Jyllands-Posten,” an irrelevant local rag compared to which the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the stature of the New York Times, to say the least?

Watching that seemingly demented rabble of bearded young men waving the green flag of Islam, I am tempted to wonder whether they belong to the same species of homo sapiens as I. But then I recall old documentaries showing my fellow Germans screeching just as hysterically in proclamation of Hitler’s glory. Hence I concur with a German colleague that, like Nazism, the radical variety of Islam we are observing today is comparable to the drug Ecstasy. It simply deprives its junkies of their senses.

It is strange that of the many memorable dicta of philosophers past I find myself quoting an aphorism by René Descartes (1596-1650) most often: Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am). If Descartes is right, then those mobs I watch on television simply do not exist because surely they aren’t thinking.

If they used their brains they would surely realize that the ones dishonoring Islam are not some editors and artists, however gratuitously klutzy, in some one-horse Nordic town. No, if Islam has acquired – rightly or wrongly – a terrible name around the globe these days it is because of the following horrors committed before the eyes of a gasping world:

n       Men and women having their heads chopped off for the “crime” of converting to Christianity, as happens in Saudi-Arabia;
n       People being lashed in public because they attended Christian worship services;
n       Christians being crucified, as has happened in Sudan;
n       Innocent men and women being kidnapped and having their throats slit in God’s name, a regular occurrence in Iraq;
n       Fervent Muslims hijacking passenger planes and flying them into New York skyscrapers, killing thousands;
n       Hundreds of commuters dying in bombing attacks on Spanish trains – “in the name of God,”
n       Muslim fanatics outfitting young men and women with belts containing explosives,  promising them 72 virgins in the afterlife,  and then sending them out as walking bombs to kill and maim Israeli civilians – in Allah’s name;
n       Young men and women willing to become suicide bombers;
n       Palestinians giving Hamas, which organization is more responsible than most for these outrages, the majority of their votes;
n       Palestinians torching the Gaza offices of the European Union, which until now has kept their administration going financially.

I could append this list ad infinitum but I guess I have made my point. Now one is tempted to lean back and say: Clearly, these maniacs have lost their minds but thank God the rest of us haven’t. But if, according to Descartes, thinking is proof of existence, then I wonder about the existence of those Danish editors whose superfluous publication of those cartoons have endangered human lives – indeed cost human lives; riots in Afghanistan have already caused at least two deaths.

Not that I am favoring censorship here; a U.S. State Department spokesman was clearly out of line when he criticized the Danish paper for printing those cartoons – and other European and New Zealand publications for reprinting them. It is not for government officials to question the exercise of the freedom of expression and of the press in other free countries. But it is the calling of journalists to exercise self-restraint, and to counsel their colleagues in this way. And I am a journalist.

It cannot have escaped the attention of those editors that our world today is like a powder keg, which the tiniest spark could ignite. Having a bit of graceless fun with Mohammed could be one of those sparks that could easily be avoided.

The media are often chided for the infantile self-importance displayed by far too many of their practitioners. The current crisis is only one case in point. Another was the recent decision by “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” a highly reputable German newspaper, to blabber needlessly about the activities of the BND, Germany’s equivalent of the CIA, in Iraq. Two BND officers, the paper alleged in an unsubstantiated report, helped the U.S. military in selecting targets for rocket attacks in the early phase of the Iraq war.

To anybody with brains this report seemed an open invitation to terrorists to plant bombs in Germany and to target Germans in Iraq as supposed “spies.” And, sure enough, a few days later two German engineers were abducted by insurgents threatening to kill them. As of this writing their fate is unknown.

“Cogito ergo sum” – René Descartes, where are you now that the world needs you?


Uwe Siemon-Netto, Ph.D.  D.Litt.
Concordia Seminary Institute on Lay Vocation, St. Louis, M.O.

Categories: Islam

On the other hand…what would upset us so much?

February 6th, 2006 2 comments

I had a good exchange with my brother about the outrage in the Islamic world over the Prophet Mohammed being depicted in a disrespectful way.  Here it is:

Hey Paul …

I just had a thought reading the headlines about this Danish cartoon causing such an uproar in the middle east.   It made me think – what a huge huge contrast to how the USA christians react to all the garbage that goes totally against the God we worship.   Amazing.   We let people get away with anything under "freedom of speach" which you have to agree with and look at how the other cultures react.

Part of me thinks the reaction isn’t all bad.   From an outside perspective if someone looked at the two cultures and situations, which one would you say takes their beliefs more seriously?

Perhaps my logic is totally flawed, but the thought just came to mind while I was reading the news.   Maybe something good for your BLOG thingy!

Of course, if you use any idea or concept like this, you will have to give me credit since it is now copyrighted as my intellectual property!   
(Kidding of course)

My response to my brother:

Hi Phil,

I was reflecting and pondering all this too!

On the one hand, it does paint a rather stark contrast between our
culture and their’s when it comes to how close we hold our beliefs.
They may be nuts and of course storming an embassy and burning is not a
proper response…but….is part of the reason we Western folks can’t
fathom this is because we can’t fathom such depth of commitment to
one’s faith? What would make us so outraged that we would want to storm another company’s embassy
and burn it? Anything??

I was thinking a big ashamed when I thought about the art exhibit that
put a crucifix in a jar of urine, titled "piss Christ" — this happened
quite some time ago now. Why was there not a greater uproar? Do we
Christians have to take everything "lying down" in this country? Does
freedom of expression mean freedom to denigrate other people’s beliefs? I’m not advocating burning people’s property, but do Christians just have to remain silent in this nation when our faith is beseiged by pop culture?

I’m going to blog on this, using our exchange.

Love you!

Categories: Islam

Hundreds of New Species Discovered

February 6th, 2006 Comments off

Link: Independent Online Edition > Environment.

An astonishing mist-shrouded "lost world" of previously unknown and rare animals and plants high in the mountain rainforests of New Guinea has been uncovered by an international team of scientists.

Among the new species of birds, frogs, butterflies and palms discovered in the expedition through this pristine environment, untouched by man, was the spectacular Berlepsch’s six-wired bird of paradise. The scientists are the first outsiders to see it. They could only reach the remote mountainous area by helicopter, which they described it as akin to finding a "Garden of Eden".

Categories: Science

What Happens When You Forget Your Purpose

February 6th, 2006 4 comments

Augsburg-Fortress Publishing House never ceases to amaze me with their depth of theological poverty. This theoretically Lutheran publishing house is now pumping out the most lame videos I’ve ever seen to go along with a course of studies on being Lutheran. It is horrible stuff. Watch at your own risk. Lord, have mercy.

Link: TLC_Session_04.wmv (video/x-ms-wmv Object).

Categories: Liberal Christianity

The Next Front: Iran

February 5th, 2006 1 comment

An informative article on the disturbing beliefs of Iran’s president.

‘Divine mission’ driving Iran’s new leader.

The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad’s piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president’s belief that his government must prepare the country for his return.

One of the first acts of Mr Ahmadinejad’s government was to donate about 10 million to the Jamkaran mosque, a popular pilgrimage site where the pious come to drop messages to the Hidden Imam into a holy well.

All streams of Islam believe in a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi, who will appear at the End of Days. A common rumour – denied by the government but widely believed – is that Mr Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a "contract" pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent it to Jamkaran.

Iran’s dominant "Twelver" sect believes this will be Mohammed ibn Hasan, regarded as the 12th Imam, or righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.

He is said to have gone into "occlusion" in the ninth century, at the age of five. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed. After a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace.

Categories: Islam

Latin returning to Mass

February 5th, 2006 2 comments

Yet another interesting indication of the different tastes that are common among the the Gen X, twenty and thirty somethings, as opposed to 40, 50, and now… 60 something baby boomers.

Latin returning to Mass  –  The Washington Times, America’s Newspaper.

Orthodoxy and Lutheranism

February 3rd, 2006 2 comments

Good thoughts and ponderings from fellow Lutheran blogger, Pastor Paul Gregory Alms. I do not know why he goes by "Greg" since Paul happens to be about the best name a human being can have, but there you go…..

Orthodoxy and Lutheranism.

Categories: Eastern Orthodoxy

Women Priests: Half-baked arguments and bad history

February 2nd, 2006 Comments off

Tolkien’s Augustinian Vision of Reality

February 2nd, 2006 4 comments

St. Augustine was decidedly not a "Medieval philosopher"…but….interesting thoughts nonetheless about Tolkien’s vision of reality influenced by St. Augustine.

The Temptation of the Earthly City: Tolkien’s Augustinian Vision | Dr. Jose Yulo | February 1, 2006.

However, there exists in The Lord of the Rings a subtle yet quite detectable call to the thought of the medieval philosopher St. Augustine. This call is particularly resonant today, an age where there appears to prevail an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Augustine, as a student of the ancients (in particular of Plato), knew well that knowledge was not synonymous with wisdom. Often, the quest for the former entailed the preclusion of the latter.

Categories: Books

How the Pro-Choice Movement is Losing America

February 2nd, 2006 1 comment

Journalist Mollie Ziegler has a column in the New York Sun on the Pro-Choice Movement

How the Pro-Choice Movement Is Losing America

February 1, 2006

Democrats have paid a heavy price for demanding that their elected
representatives support unrestricted access to abortion. In 1980,
Democrats dominated the House of Representatives with 292 members; 125
of them were pro-life. Now there are only 201 Democrats in the House,
and no more than 40 are pro-life. None are in leadership.
Abortion activists’ hard-line refusal to moderate has emboldened the
Democrat base but cost them widespread support. Many Americans believe
that at least some legal protections for unborn children are worthy -
a position that is anathema to the pro-choice movement. Activists
claim that 80% of the public supports legalized abortion, but their
greatest fear is that Roe v. Wade might be overturned.

Pro-choice advocates fight most of their political battles in the
courts because they worry about abortion laws being decided by the
democratic process on a state-by-state basis. And they probably have
good reason to worry. While the pro-choice base is strong, as
reflected in the million people it turned out for its 2005 March for
Women’s Lives, activists will be the first to tell you that 400
restrictions on abortion have been enacted throughout the country in
the last decade.

If the pro-choice position is as popular as pro-choice leaders claim,
how have pro-lifers racked up so many political wins?

The pro-choice movement ought to be reflecting on this state of
affairs. Instead, two new books from activists with the National
Abortion Rights Action League highlight how tone-deaf the movement has
become. They dismiss the views of religious Americans, fail to
understand the complexity of the abortion issue, and resort to
histrionic declarations of doom.

A former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Kate Michelman, gives
a personal look at the modern history of abortion rights in America in
"With Liberty and Justice for All: A Life Spent Protecting the Right
To Choose"(Hudson Street Press, 278 pages, $24.95). She begins with a
touching account of her fourth pregnancy, which occurred just before
her husband left her for another woman.

This being prior to Roe v. Wade, Ms. Michelman had to convince a
medical review board of her unfitness as a mother in order to receive
an abortion. Then she had to get permission from her philandering
husband. Ms. Michelman writes that she has "never, not once,
questioned my choice to have that abortion." The merits of such
consistency aside, the lack of rumination is carried on through the
next 200 pages of this light and unreflective memoir.

I suppose that something interesting must have happened in the
pro-choice movement over the last three decades, but if so, Ms.
Michelman keeps it secret. Instead she recounts mind-numbingly boring,
predictable, and platitudinous conversations about abortion laws and
judicial appointments with dozens of lawmakers. Ms. Michelman narrates
all stories with herself as the perfect hero, receiving praise from
all political corners.

NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s Cristina Page writes a book that fails to
even attempt to live up to its title: "How the Pro-Choice Movement
Saved America" (Basic Books, 256 pages, $24). Instead, its bizarre
thesis is that pro-life groups do not attempt to prevent abortion.
Rather, "they are against sex, and the sex lives the vast majority of
Americans enjoy."

Her odd claim that pro-lifers oppose sex for pleasure would be
laughable were it not espoused with vehemence. A book that critically
responds to the political work of either side of the abortion debate
would be welcome. Instead, she puts the worst possible construction on
a few select positions, notably a view among some pro-life advocates
that contraception is to be eschewed. She also conflates pro-life
opposition to abortifacients with opposition to all contraception.

Physicians who refuse to prescribe morning-after pills are "kooky" and
"outrageous." Their "dubious religious notions" cause them to engage
in "vigilante acts of obstruction-by-pharmacist." Apparently she
believes women should not be forced to have children they accidentally
conceived, but pharmacists should be forced to act against their

Ms. Page is the Ann Coulter of the pro-choice movement. Not only are
reports that abortion causes lingering psychological damage false, but
girls who have abortions actually function better. Besides, everyone
knows that postpartum depression is a more legitimate concern for

After calling President Reagan a "fundamentalist" and making an
obligatory comparison of pro-lifers and Iranian mullahs, Ms. Page
writes that the pro-choice movement "has been the realistic movement.
And if, as a result, it has given up the high ground of deeply felt,
religious intoned ‘values,’ it has gained something else. It has

Apart from Ms. Page’s mocking of religious views and contention that
science is on her side, It seems that the pro-choice movement is the
one in thrall to ideology. The pro-life movement’s tactics of fighting
for incremental political gains in state legislatures and court
appointments is much more pragmatic than the pro-choice movement’s
rigid refusal to concede any ground against abortion on demand.

Both Ms. Michelman and Ms. Page claim in their books that the right to
abortion in some 30 states would likely be lost if Roe falls. With
yesterday’s confirmation of pro-life judge Samuel Alito to the closely
divided court, their concern may be legitimate. So why aren’t these
abortion advocates reaching out to the hearts and minds of American
voters, instead of writing books for their devoted fans?

Ms. Ziegler last wrote in these pages on Kate Bush.

Categories: Sanctity of Life

Proposal To End Norway’s State Church

February 1st, 2006 Comments off

Ecumenical News International 
Daily News Service 
01 February 2006 


Commission proposes ending Norway’s State Church system 

By Oivind Ostang 
Oslo, 1 February (ENI)–A majority of members on a
government-appointed multi-party commission with representatives
of different denominations and religions has recommended
abolishing the current State Church system in Norway. 

It says the (Lutheran) Church of Norway should take over powers
now resting with the sovereign and the government, including the
appointment of bishops and clergy 

"I hope our report will be of help when politicians discuss the
matter," commission leader Kare Gjonnes, a former Christian
Democrat government minister, told journalists after the
presentation of the report on 31 January.   

Since the Lutheran-led Reformation in 1537, the Church of Norway,
the country’s dominant church, has had the reigning monarch as
its formal head.   

The report was drawn up after three years work. By the end of
this year between 2000 and 3000 church and public bodies,
institutions, organisations and parties will have had the chance
to state their view on the matter.   

A government report to the Storting (parliament) is expected in
2008. As major changes will require revisions of the country’s
constitution, 2013 is seen as the earliest any changes can enter
into force. 

The attitude of the Labour party, the biggest component of Prime
Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s centre-left coalition, is seen as
decisive for developments.   

Norway’s minister for culture and church affairs, Trond Giske of
the Labour party, said after receiving the report that he wanted
to preserve the Church of Norway as a broad and open church,
whatever happened to the State Church system. 

In recent years the Labour party has staunchly supported the
State Church system, saying it can prevent conservative theology
dominating the church’s leadership.   

Most members of the commission say that State ties should be
loosened rather than severed, while a 14-member majority believes
the Church of Norway’s general synod should take over the
authority now resting with king and government. 

About 85 per cent of Norway’s 4.5 million inhabitants belong to
the Church of Norway. [333 words] 

All articles (c) Ecumenical News International 
Reproduction permitted only by media subscribers and 
provided ENI is acknowledged as the source. 

Ecumenical News International 
PO Box 2100 
CH – 1211 Geneva 2 

Tel: (41-22) 791 6088/6111 
Fax: (41-22) 788 7244 


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Categories: Lutheranism