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Archive for July, 2006

Gone Fishin’

July 30th, 2006 1 comment

Nr0104gonefishingposters
I’m taking a blogging vacation through August. I’ll be back in September. God bless.

Categories: Blogging

Ancient Psalter Found in a Bog

July 28th, 2006 1 comment
Categories: Uncategorized

Book Tag

July 28th, 2006 2 comments

My friend William Weedon "tagged" me to participate in one of these…tag things. Like him, I don’t go in much for these, but I too found this one intriguing.

1. One book that changed your life:
"The Book of Concord"
"The Hammer of God" by Bo Giertz
"The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel" by Dr. C.F.W. Walther
"Confessions" by St. Augustine
[sorry, I can't pick only one]

2. One book , other than the Bible, that you’ve read more than once:
Patrick O’Brian’s novels
Book of Concord
Bible
Walther
Giertz
[sorry, again, can't name just one]

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Bible, Hymnal, Book of Concord
Patrick O’Brians novels

4. One book that made you laugh:
Any book by Scott Adams or Dave Berry. I laugh myself silly.

5. One book that made you cry:
"Hammer of God" by Giertz

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Martin Luther’s autobiography

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
The Koran

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Lars Walker "Year of the Warrior"

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
"The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolff

10.  Tag others. 
Aardvark, Petersen, Pepperkorn

Categories: Uncategorized

Relax, It’s Just Church!

July 13th, 2006 14 comments

An alert reader sent this link to me. No, it is not a joke.

Why Doesn’t He Still My Storm? — A Sermon

July 13th, 2006 2 comments
Pentecost 5 – July 9, 2006
"Why Doesn’t He Still My Storm?"
Mark 4:35-41
Rev. Dr. David S. Smith

You have been to three doctors, taken the medication, even had surgery and you are not well. No matter how hard you try you will go home tonight and in all likelihood have a fight with your spouse. You have sent out so many resumes and interviewed so many times and still you have no job. You will worry yourself sick again tonight because your teenager that you don’t trust is out for the evening with the friends you don’t like. The person you are dating is pressuring you to go all the way or loose them. No matter how much time you spend with your child on homework it never seems to translate into better grades. You might call these the storms of life.

Rembrandtseagalilee We read this morning that Jesus stilled the storm. There was no doubt that this was a real storm on the Sea of Galilee. The fishermen disciples, even the experienced ones, were afraid. There is even a bit of sarcasm here if you will. In the midst of the raging storm they wake a sleeping Jesus and say, “Teacher, are we to drown for all you care?” Come to think of it isn’t that the way we feel sometimes when we are in the midst of the storms of life? It’s seems as though Jesus is sleeping while we suffer, while we are afraid. Where is He in our storms? Why doesn’t God wake up and help us? Have you been there before? I have.

What we really would like is an explanation as to why the storms come in the first place. We read from the book of Job this morning as our Old Testament reading. Job wanted to know why he lost just about everything he had and suffered from painful boils all over his body. God asked Job, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand?” Job could not answer God’s questions, so God did not reveal to Job why these things came upon him beyond this: God is God and we are not. What He determines is beyond our understanding this side of heaven. Still, we wonder about all this.

Okay, so we don’t know why the storms of life come, but why doesn’t He say, “Quiet! Be still!” to the storms in our lives? Why don’t we get well? Why don’t things improve at home? Why don’t we find a job? Why? Jesus are you sleeping? We feel alone. We feel abandoned. We feel helpless.

When we read about the stilling of the storm we just want Jesus to do His thing and still our storm. Just speak a word Jesus and it will all be over. We know you have the power. The winds and the waves obey you. We know you can do it. Do it for us just this once. We pray. We beg. Nothing.

For a moment we need to realize we are like the disciples in the boat. They suffered from a good deal of fear for a while before they woke Jesus up. In fact, the fear factor might have continued if they had not woken Jesus. They are certainly afraid. They were certainly scared of death itself in those moments. We are just like the disciples when the storms come. We too feel afraid. We wonder if God will help. Will God still our storm or is He asleep when we need Him most? Jesus called on His disciples then and His disciples now to trust Him. When the storms come it is hard to trust Him. We just want to know, “Is He here with us?” “Will He ever still the storms of our lives?” “Can we trust Him now?”

Our beginning point is in the Psalms, Psalm 121, “He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber or sleep.” When you are in the storms of life Jesus is not sleeping. He is in the boat with you. He is in your boat, and He knows what that means because He Himself has been in a storm rocked boat before on this earth, in this world. He has experienced the storms of life Himself firsthand right here on this earth when He became true man. We have a Savior who came down from heaven and got in the boat with us, the boat of our life and He stays there with us. He is not asleep, distracted or disinterested. He is here with us in the boat. For when He came down from heaven and took on human nature He got in the boat with us.

He says to our fearful hearts, “Quiet! Be Still!” “I am in the boat with you.” “I am here.” “I am!” I am the One who parted the waters for the children of Israel to cross the Red Sea. I am the One who parted the Jordan River for the children of Israel to enter the Promised Land. I am the One who went to a cross for you to conquer the enemies that raged against you, that threatened you, that threatened your eternity with me.

With a word God brought about our rescue from the raging of death against us. With a word God brought about salvation for us from an eternity without Him. It all began when He sent His Son to get in the boat of our world with us, to suffer in the boat of this world with us, to die in this world. He got in the boat with us by coming into this world for us.

There are storms in our lives that will continue until we are in heaven. There are other storms that will pass away maybe today or tomorrow, maybe in a month or a year. There will be storms. The storms test our faith. “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” That question is relevant for us too in the midst of the storms of life. The storms come from a God who loves us more than we can imagine. The storms are to strengthen our faith. In the midst of the storms we flee to Him. We flee to Him as the One who is in the boat with us. We flee to the One who has all power and can with a word calm the storm and the wind. We flee to Him who was willing to die for us on a cross. We flee to Him who gives us gifts to get us through-His Word and His Supper.

The almighty God is with you, the One who can control all of nature with a Word. The One who conquered death itself for you is with you. The One who is in control of the storms of life is with you. Is He asleep? No. Is He testing my faith? Yes. Will He calm the storm in my life? Yes, but in His time and in His way. Will He help me in the midst of the storm? Yes, He will through His Word and Sacrament. Can I trust Him? Yes, our loving Savior is literally in the same boat as we are. Amen.

       

Categories: Uncategorized

The Big Religion Comparison Chart – ReligionFacts

July 12th, 2006 Comments off

Interesting web chart of world’s religions. Swim at your own risk. 

Link: The Big Religion Comparison Chart – ReligionFacts.

HT: Respublica.

Categories: Uncategorized

Lutheran Blog Directory

July 12th, 2006 Comments off
Categories: Uncategorized

Jesus on the Internet…Literally, Sort Of, in a Creepy Way

July 12th, 2006 7 comments

And people sit around wondering why most non-Christians consider Christians to be weirdos. Do we have to give them a good excuse like this to do so?

This congregation features a talking Jesus, who follows your cursor around on the screen. Creepy.

Link: Welcome To Cross Rev Connect

Categories: Uncategorized

Men Are from Mars Hill – Christianity Today Magazine

July 12th, 2006 2 comments

An interview with Pastor Mark Driscoll, an interesting fellow, as you will soon find out, if you are not aware of him already.

Link: Men Are from Mars Hill – Christianity Today Magazine.

Categories: Uncategorized

Lit or Unlit?

July 9th, 2006 27 comments

Candle_1
Without comment, here is how one Lutheran congregation describes its "informal" and "formal" worship.

Our Sunday worship offers two different types or experiences of worship, both based on the same word of God and generally the same format or order.

Informal worship is at 8:00 and lasts about 45 minutes. As the name bears out, it is more informal, relaxed, without the pastor wearing vestments, or using the pulpit or candles being lit. It serves those whose schedule does not permit them to attend the later service. It usually involves a small group of people who get to know each other well. The songs tend to be more contemporary, folk or gospel tunes or spirituals. A keyboard, guitar or piano is used by volunteer musicians.

Our Sunday 10:00 a.m. service is our formal worship, utilizing a formal order of worship form the hymnal, it is offers a sung liturgy in addition to the hymns. It serves the needs of those who prefer a more formal service or a later time on Sunday morning. This service reflects the liturgical heritage and tradition from centuries past in a meaningful way. Normally Holy Communion is celebrated weekly: 8:00 a.m. at the at the second and fourth Sundays and 10:00 a.m. on the first and third Sundays. Additional spe cial services are held during Advent (the four weeks prior to Christmas), Christmas Eve and Day, Lent (the six weeks prior to Easter, Easter Tanksgivinvg, and at other special times. The worship is led musically by our beautiful Werner Bosch pip organ that was installed in the sanctuary in 1962 and is played by our accomplished organists.

Reflections on The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

July 8th, 2006 1 comment

The managing editor of the journal First Things offers these poignant observations about The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Yesterday was the 476th anniversary of the presentation of the
Augsburg Confession an explanation of the proposed Lutheran reforms of
the Church, written by Philip Melancthon and approved by Martin Luther
to Holy Roman emperor Charles V, who, facing attack from without, was
eager for unity within. This is the true birthday of the Lutheran
Reformation. That this should be of little interest to non-Lutherans
is perhaps understandable. That it should be of little interest to so
many Lutherans is what threatens to reduce a denomination like the one
I was raised in—the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod to
irrelevancy.

When I was growing up, back in the early 1970s, our church in Queens,
New York, had two orders of worship: Matins and Holy Communion. In
those days I had but one prayer: Let it be Matins. This was no
indication of a nascent anti-sacramentalism. Rather, it was evidence
of how supernaturally bored I was by the whole thing. Matins, you see,
was the shorter of the two services.

Like many of my spiritually insentient friends, as soon as I made my
Confirmation, I did not darken a church narthex again for a good long
time. Our church, Trinity Lutheran, knew this, and so kept playing
with the Confirmation age, hoping like pharaoh to postpone the exodus
as long as possible. Other tactics to engage the younger generation
included more clap-happy and improvised midweek chapel services in our
affiliated parochial school. These proved simply annoying, as it was
harder to sleep with all the noise.

I left my Lutheran high school a self-proclaimed atheist. I say
self-proclaimed because I don’t think a real atheist would have
accepted me as one of his clan. I simply was not capable of
maintaining the blind faith necessary to juggle all those
contradictory ideas and unanswered questions ("Why is there
something
rather than nothingd?"). Nor was I strong
enough to keep sawing off the epistemological branch I was sitting on.
("There are no absolutes for apes whose brains simply grew too big."
"Are you certain?" "Absolutely!")

When I came back to the faith (aided and abetted by C.S. Lewis, G.K.
Chesterton, and Blaise Pascal), it was through the evangelical
backdoor. From about 1982 to 2005, I attended Nazarene, Baptist,
Christian and Missionary Alliance, Reformed Church in America,
Evangelical Lutheran, High-Church Episcopalian, evangelical Anglican,
Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian churches. I formally joined only one
Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City and that was in 1997.

Redeemer captured my allegiance for eight years for three reasons: It
was time to take a stand somewhere, having walked with one foot
in the world and one in the kingdom for too long; I had become
increasingly attracted to the incisive biblical expositions of John
Calvin, and Redeemer was a church of the conservative
Reformed/Calvinist school; and Redeemer was also a mega-ish church,
averaging a few thousand attendees over four services every Sunday. So
you could get lost in the crowd if you so chose. I so chose.

But deeper reading in Jonathan Edwards, Cornelius Van Til, and the
Puritans began to shake not only that assurance of salvation that is
the hallmark of evangelical religion but also my understanding of the
nature of the God who did the saving. It became evident that there was
a disconnect between the sermons I was hearing and what I was reading
from the theological sources. On Sundays we were told that we were
worse than we could ever believe but also more loved than we could
imagine. This moved and reassured many in that considerable
congregation, but it seemed to me to contradict Reformed theology.
Some
of those in attendance, surely, were loved more than they
imagined. Those some were the elect, whose salvation was a
given even before they came to faith this to show forth God’s grace
and the truly gratuitous nature of that salvation. The rest of the
crowd were destined for the other place, and had been brought into
this world for that very purpose this to show forth God’s
justice in judging sin. Christ died not for sinners that is, for every
last one of us but only for the elect. What did this say about His
assumption of human nature, His role as the second Adam? Were those
not elected less than human?


According this scheme, faith in and of itself was no reliable
indication of anything; instead, the mysterious and apparently
arbitrary decrees of God were everything. My personal faith in the
saving power of Christ and His Cross may not, in fact, be
saving
faith but merely, in John Calvin’s words, “an inferior
working of the Holy Spirit," intended to confound me until the
time of my apostasy, which was always my destiny. This made
nonsense of Luther’s much derided but ultimately liberating crie
de cour
"justification by faith alone!" which had been
hammered into me all those many years of church, Sunday school, and
religion classes.

So what was left? I went home to the Lutheran Church. Or so I thought.
Trinity had long ago voted as a congregation to bolt the Missouri
Synod for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a much more
liberal conflation of several Lutheran churches. (And my former pastor
is now a much beloved Roman Catholic priest.) The Missouri Synod
numbered far fewer congregations in New York City, and those
geographically closest to me either had no pastor or a pastor who was
far too, shall we say, creative. I sat through puppet shows
(children’s church being folded into the regular worship service),
pastors strolling up and down the aisle culling prayer requests and
improvising “stirring” appeals to the Almighty, guest preachers
stopping cold in mid-sermon to turn on a boom box so they could break
into song, praise bands fronted by garishly loud “cantors” as
Powerpointed lyrics flashed on screens that now obscured the old
wooden hymn boards in short, orders of worship that were neither
orderly nor conducive to worship.

The historical resonance and dignity of the old liturgy that had
struck torpor in my heart as a youth was the exact thing I was craving
in my middle age but it was now history itself. What I could not
appreciate as a shallow teen was now unavailable to me, the hymnal
replaced by a bulletin, the means of grace downplayed for a more
gregarious fellowship, the authentic traded in for pastiche and
performance art. Even the sermon, reborn in the Lutheran Reformation
as a means of grace, had now lapsed into emotionally manipulative
entreaties, personality self-assessments, and quasi altar calls.
Twenty-five stragglers on a good Sunday, Starbucks in hand, grumbling
begrudgingly through another chorus of “He Shall Make Me Gladzz’
this was the upshot of the new LCMS. Ah, sweet success!

I understand the drama of demographics in modern urban America:
Missouri Synod churches could no longer count on families staying put,
staying Lutheran, or even staying Christian from one generation to the
next, and so it had to compete for spiritual consumers along with the
Redeemer Presbyterians, the Times Square nondenominationals, and the
pentecostal and Baptist storefronts. But rather than throwing open to
the seeking, the emerging, and the skeptical something unique within
the Church catholic something distinctly Lutheran Missouri Synod
churches were too often settling for second-rate evangelical status in
the name of ecumenism and in reaction to dwindling attendance,
especially among the young. The grand paradoxes that Lutheran theology
wrestled into neat but potent reflections of our faith in the God/man
law/gospel, sinner/justified, bread and wine/body and blood, the
kingdom of this world/the kingdom of God were rarely if ever
mentioned, except perhaps as an occasional sop to the scarce
old-school parishioners. But these dichotomies spoke to my life as a
Christian, not merely as a Lutheran, which is why coming back to the
Missouri Synod was no mere sentimental journey but a coming together
of what had been fragmented as a mere evangelical.

Who is to blame for this state of affairs? Is it right even to cast
blame? Surely everyone is doing what they believe is in the best
interest of promoting the cause of Christ in an era of easy
distractibility. And the Synod itself has only so much authority:
having jettisoned the office of bishop early in its history, it
embraced a congregational model. Individual congregations associate
with the Synod on a voluntary basis. But one would think that such a
congregation would do so for a very specific reason to reflect the
unique character of the Missouri Synod Lutheran heritage. And one
would also think that the district president, as close as the Missouri
Synod now gets to a bishop, would exercise enough oversight and
discipline to insist that such character be maintained. You would
think.


What we don’t need is yet another Lutheran church (read sect). What
we need is strict even mandatory adherence to the Lutheran
Service Book
(the 1982 edition offers more than enough variety as
it is). What we need is that catechism I was taught by my mother many
years ago over our kitchen table. What we need is a Lutheran
distinction between confessionalism and fundamentalism on the right,
and between adiaphora (indifferent things) and heterodoxy on
the left. What we need is our Reformation heritage. Let loose the old,
unexpurgated liturgy from Confession to Benediction, it has proved to
be a well-trodden path that is our spiritual pilgrimage in microcosm.
Preach the Law and its insatiable, non-negotiable demands. Then preach
the Gospel which is to say, preach Christ, our justification and our
sanctification, who alone fulfilled the Law and banished its threats.
Administer Holy Communion with reverence for the Real Presence and
baptize acknowledging that it is the laver of regeneration. And
finally, let the Holy Spirit take care of church growth. In the
American religious estate are many mansions, including rooms for
free-form, pastor-driven seeker and emerging assemblies. They have a
role in bringing the unchurched and the anti-church back to some
semblance of corporate worship. But we are not them.

So here I stoop, to paraphrase another cry of the heart, searching
amid the rubble for what had been both an inheritance and a gift. I am
comforted by two thoughts, though: Unlike those members of renewal
movements within mainline denominations, I do not worry about the
Trinity being invoked as Mother, Daughter, Midwife. I believe the
Nicene Creed is here to stay at Missouri Synod as a touchstone of
orthodoxy. Also, a quick survey of confessional Lutheran bloggers
demonstrates that there are many who sit beside me in the same boat,
clinging to that Augsburg confessional lifejacket, which declares
that, despite differences, the Church remains "the congregation of
saints and true believers" that will "continue forever" despite
the "ministry of evil men."

Even imprudent men . . . and sleepy teenagers like me.
By Mr. Anthony
Sacramone
reprinted by permission
http://www.firstthings.com/

Categories: Lutheranism

Nacho Libre: It’s Fantastic!

July 8th, 2006 1 comment

Nacho_libre
I really enjoyed Napoleon Dynamite and, despite myself, I really enjoy Jack Black’s comedic performances. So, when I heard that Black was the star of the next movie being made by the same guys who made Dynamite I thought, "Hmmm…this could be fun." And, yup, it is.

It is interesting to read the reviews of Nacho Libre. Basically either people enjoy it or they don’t get it, at all. I love the understated quality that the Hess brothers have brought now to their two movies, though "understated" is not how Jack Black gives his performance as Brother Ignacio, an orphan taken in by the monks and now serving as a Friar and cook in the orphanage. This is the story of his dreams to become a Mexican wrestler, a Luciador. It’s ridiculous. It’s goofy. It is corny. But, in my opinion, it is very well done. There is such a gleeful abandon and joyful silliness to the entire movie that I could not help but smile and laugh through the whole movie.

Jack Black plays his part as Ignacio in such an over-the-top absurd manner. I mean, come now, we must admire any man brave enough to pull on stretchy pants like Black did for this movie. He revels in the absudity. He plays his role with such giddy abandon that you can’t help but be pulled into the silliness and the joy of it.

What I liked most about the movie is that it has a heart. It has a point. Ignacio longs for something "more" to life, but in the end rediscovers the value of service, compassion and sacrifice for something larger than himself. It has a sweet quality that I really enjoyed. Ignacio’s kindness and compassion win out over his dreams of becoming a famous wrestler. The movie is respectful of religion and the humor is respectful and gentle. Sister Encarnacion is the moral compass in the movie who resolutely guides Nacho to understand proper priorities.

It is a fun movie, with a big heart, and I’m looking forward to watching it again when it comes out on DVD. Here is how Ignacio describes his life as a monk:

Nacho:
…but my life is good. Really good! I get to wake up every morning at
5am and make some soup. Its the best! I love it! I get to lay in a bed
by myself all of my life. Its fantastic!

A conversation between Nacho and Incarnacion:

Sister Encarnación:
Well, my favorite color is light tan. My favourite animal is puppies. I like serving the lord. Hiking, play volleyball…

Nacho:
You gotta be kidding me. Everything you just said, is MY favourite thing to do, every day!

Like I said, you either get it, or you don’t. Viva Nacho Libre!

Categories: Film

Low Flying Comet

July 8th, 2006 3 comments

St_38_obsessed1_fI’m a former Beetle owner, and gave it up only because of persistent problems with the airbag system, but…I do miss "Blue Thunder" as I called mine. I did a few modifications to mine, very minor. Some people do modifications that are a bit more costly. Here’s the video, in case you think this is a product of PhotoShop. Kids, don’t try this at home. "Most people are content to modify their rides with
chrome spinners and a turbo kit. Not Ron Patrick. He wanted something
unique for his 2000 VW Beetle. So he mounted a $270,000, 26,000-rpm,
1,350-horsepower, Navy-surplus helicopter jet turbine in the trunk.

The Stanford PhD and car computer designer spent four years making
the vehicle safe to drive, but now, when he needs a boost, he just
switches on an afterburner (which shoots an 8-foot-long flame out the
back). The intake draws air through the windows and sunroof, creating
cabin noise that sounds, as Patrick puts it, “like Iraq.” And once it
kicks in, “it feels like the finger of God is pushing the car.” The jet
jumps the Bug’s speed from 80 to 140 mph in less than four seconds, at
which point Patrick eases up on the throttle. He estimates that at 160,
“the rear end would probably start to go airborne.”

Despite all the muscle, Patrick doesn’t race. “I’m 49, so frying some 16-year-old who just saw The Fast and the Furious
doesn’t do anything for me,” he says. But he has been known to light up
Northern California’s freeways on weekdays between 2 and 3 am. “More
than one late-night truck driver on I-5 has been passed by a low-flying
comet.” If you don’t see Patrick’s ride there, you may be out of luck –
his hot rod is just too much for car shows. When he entered it in the
Los Angeles Grand National Roadster Show in January, he was greeted
with disparaging looks and scoffs from the gearhead elite. So when the
winners started revving their V-8s, Patrick responded by firing up the
jet and blasting out a 6-foot-long flame. Officials screamed at him to
shut it down, and then banned him for life. Luckily, he’d already
received a special prize for Best Compact Custom."

- Brian Lam

Source

Categories: Uncategorized

Follet “Pillars of the Earth” — My Review, and Reaction

July 5th, 2006 1 comment

I finished Follet’s book, Pillars of the Earth. The book was recommended to me by several people, so I was looking forward to reading it. Here are my reactions. If you don’t know what the book is, it is a story of several generations of people whose lives are intertwined around the construction of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England in the 11th and early 12th centuries. Caution: Spoilers within!

Positives
It is a LONG book, therefore, it kept me entertained for more than the usual amount of time. A book like this, in paperback topping out at nearly 1,000 pages, kept me occupied for a good week of evening and weekend reading. That’s fun. Usually just about the time I’m really enjoying the book, it is over.

Follet is a good teller of a tale. This book was very long and wound its way around several generations of people, and a host of different characters, concentrating in finally on several key characters. Tom, a master builder, and his step-son Jack. They are the good guys, well, if you overlook the fact Jack burned a cathedral down when he was a boy, Tom’s wife Ellen. Aliena, daughter of an Earl. Evil Bishop Waldron. Good Prior Philip [the hero of the book], etc. The book is very engaging.

It is a fun, entertaining, light read. I would consider it good for vacation reading, something to take your mind away and put you into this time and into these lives.

Religion is treated in a balanced way. Evil people are described so not because they are monks, or priests, or bishops, but because they are evil and are abusing their office. The hero of the book, the Prior Philip, is a good man and is seen to be sincere and devoted to religion. I appreciated very much Follet’s respectful handling of Christianity in the book. It would have been easy to take a host of cheap shots at the Faith, but Follet does not and in fact shows through his character development the positive aspects of faith, courage, honor, dedication, etc. [I would have enjoyed more a story about Thomas Becket, who comes in at the very end of the "movie" -- that's how the book felt to me -- like a movie].

Negatives
Follet is a good writer, but not great. I confess that Patrick O’Brian has forever ruined my ability to enjoy historical fiction. That’s not really fair to other writers. O’Brian’s books are literature, not merely pulp fiction. Follet is not quite pulp fiction, but he is no O’Brian, but then again, who is? How many writers are? If you don’t know Patrick O’Brian, get to know him.

"Pillars of the Earth" is light, fluffy and of no consequence finally. "Big issues" are not really dealt with well. I was left hungry for more detail about cathedrals, monks, medieval life, etc. I wonder what a Tom Clancy type "Pillars of the Earth" would have been like?

The book, frankly, to me at least, was a made-for-TV mini-series in print. Not that this is wrong, or even bad, but don’t expect this book to soar. It is entertaining, but not very deep. I wanted more depth, but this book didn’t provide it.

The sex. The book has graphic descriptions of rape and other inappropriate sexual activity. The word that came to mind is: salacious. Follet easily could have accomplished the same thing without the graphic detail. The author claims his book is fine for 14 year old boys, for sexual activity is shown to have its consequences. I don’t agree. The graphic nature of the scenes described, to me, detract from the book and struck me as the author inserting details to boost readership. It frankly somewhat ruined the book for me.

So, I guess I would say that if you haven’t read it, you haven’t missed all that much. It is interesting, and engaging, and you do get caught up in the characters and their stories, but at the end [and the book does end far too abruptly, even at nearly 1,000 pages, it felt like somebody told the author, "Ok, wrap it up pal." Or...the book suffered in editing, trying to keep it under 1,000 pages], you are left realizing you have just eaten a meal at McDonalds. It may have filled your belly, but it was not very nutritious.

Categories: Uncategorized

Foolish Display or Responsible Diversity in Worship Practices?

July 4th, 2006 17 comments

What Paul writes, 2 Cor. 6, 14. 17, shall and must obtain: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what communion hath light with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord. Likewise, when there are useless, foolish displays, that are profitable neither for good order nor Christian discipline, nor evangelical propriety in the Church, these also are not genuine adiaphora, or matters of indifference. (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, X.6-7)

Here is a link to what "contemporary worship" looks in some churches these days. The praise band is crowding out the altar and baptismal font. The rock music is blaring and they are trying to lead the congregation in singing the song "House of God" [lyrics follow this commentary].

A week or so ago we enjoyed a spirited discussion about one Lutheran congregation’s decision to have a Marian shrine in its nave, or so it would seem to most who view it. How does a congregation decide it has the right to go on its own in this manner? How does a congregation decide it has a right to go on its own in the manner featured in this post?

The praise band rocking away in the chancel … is this really how anyone wishes to suggest our Lutheran Confessions intend worship to be in the church? Is this evangelical freedom in action, or a "foolish display," if not worse? What does such a practice say about Lutheran theology, if anything? Is this the way we worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness?

Here is the video clip of the praise band doing its thing

Here are the lyrics to the song "House of God" — compare this hymn of "invocation" or "welcome" with "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord" — now ask yourself…which hymn actually proclaims God’s Word, praises Him and confesses the truth? Which hymn is more a device to stir human emotion?

House of God

Welcome to the house of God my friend
All are welcome, all may enter in
Come experience the peace and hope within

We come here, for God and God alone
The house of God
All draw near, make Yourself at Home
The house of God

Come and celebrate His majesty
Dance and shout like those who've been set free
It's about you Jesus and all of your glory


Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord,

With all your graces now outpoured.
On each believer’s mind and heart;
Your fervent love to them impart.
Lord, by the brightness of your light
In holy faith your Church untie;
From every land and every tongue
This to our praise, O Lord, Our God, be sung:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Come, holy Light, guide divine,
Now cause the Word of life to shine.
Teach us to know our God aright
And call him Father wit delight.
From every error keep us free;
Let none buy Christ our master be
That we in living faith abide,
In him, our Lord, with all our might confide.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Come, holy Fire, comfort true,
Grant us the will your work to do
And in your service to abide:
Let trials turn us not aside.
Lord, by your power prepare each heart,
And to our weakness strength impart
That bravely here we may contend,
Through life and death to your, our Lord, ascend.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Hymn # 154 from Lutheran Worship