Public Opinion on the Bishop of Rome

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

Bill O’Reilly was talking about the pope today. He’s Roman Catholic, so I guess he’s more directly effected by Benedict XVI’s election than am I (perhaps). That’s fine. And of course he was having his predictable go at the liberal media going nuts over the conservative Ratzinger. Ok. Then his commentary addressed the hot button issues of clerical celibacy, female priests, and homosexuality, as could also be expected. Saw it coming. But then he took it in a slightly different direction, albeit one that I’ve unfortunately heard.

It was something to the effect of, “This pope actually supported the withholding of the sacraments from pro-choice legislators. He can’t do that. It’s a state issue.”

I’m sorry? A church is not allowed to exercise church discipline over its own? How is that a state issue? How is this an issue of a meddling cardinal instead of a Roman Catholic acting contrary to his faith and being held accountable by his church? Listening in my car it hammered home again the folly of secular influence on the church.

America is a democracy; there you get a vote. In the church you do not. We have a King, and his name is not Benedict. Jesus Christ is His name. His Word is authoritative. Like it or not, absolutes exist that are simply not open to debate. Even as we are free from sin we are not free to sin. And certainly the church ought never to grant its blessing to sin, explicitly or otherwise. Where sin exists God works through His Law to bring about repentance. He then builds us up by means of the Gospel of Christ. And he works through means–through Word and Sacrament, through his called mouthpieces. No, you don’t get to vote on it. Ultimately, your opinions and political/social/secular bent don’t count.

To be honest, to hear those who profess to be Christians speak in these ways really breaks my heart. The task of correcting such secular influences is daunting. It is exhausting. But no one said it would be easy. Teach the faith. Proclaim the Gospel. God is faithful and continues to work.

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Sweating the Creed

Monday, 18 April 2005

I’m ashamed to say that lately I’ve fallen into something of a sedentary rut. It’s not an ordinary rut for me, though. It’s been one in which I’ve been tremendously busy and tremendously unmotivated. The latter is not how I’d generally characterize myself. It’s been sapping, but what’s more it’s been embarassing.

So I got myself back on a program. Diet and exercise. A total revamp of the current pattern. I’m trying, with a little skepticism, one of those online training programs. This one’s through Menshealth.com. We shall see what kind of results it brings, but it seems to be a buttkicker. The diet is probably the toughest part, but I’m sure once I get used to it it will be great (I don’t remember the last time I had anything close to 2000 Calories in a day).

You see, there ought not to be any such thing as an out-of-shape-pastor. It simply ought not to be. The undershepherds of God’s flock ought not to be concerned merely with the souls to whom they minister, but also their bodies. To believe, teach, and confess the Creed is in part to get/stay in good physical condition. “I believe that God has made me and all creatures, that he has given me my body and soul, eyes and ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses and still preserves them…” It’s a simple matter of stewardship of the body that God has given us. And pastors ought to be modeling that stewardship. He can’t preach on tithing if he doesn’t tithe himself. It’s the same with stewardship of the body. Preaching about the temple of the Holy Spirit is a little difficult where one isn’t taking care of their own temple, where the Holy Spirit has indeed taken up residence.

But it’s even something more. We confess the resurrection of the body. We confess that the separation of body and soul in death is not final. God is going to raise up our bodies and make them new and join them together with our souls on that last day. Death isn’t the end of the body. Life on earth is not the last place we have that body. It’s an eternal gift. We’re going to be living in our bodies on the New Earth in eternity. I can honestly say that I have no clear picture of what that’s going to be like. But Jesus still bore the wounds in his flesh after the resurrection. It’s enough to make me wonder how like our bodies will be then to what they are here in time.

I’ve got a dream. It may sound a bit odd, but what if we were to put workout facilities in ordinary churches? Put a weightroom in the fellowship hall somewhere. What if the men’s club had a lifting schedule? What if the LWML got together and did pilates or step aerobics? It’s fellowship and fitness. I think it’s so far out of the box as to be laughable. And yet I think it does a lot to send the message that we have a duty to minister to the whole Christian.


Sweet.

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

Illegal ninja moves from the government. Well, something from the government.


Anonymous Posting

Monday, 11 April 2005

You do it. I do it. We all do it. I wasn’t born and baptized as OSC. It’s a pseudonym. Yeah, I know. Captain Obvious strikes again.

I’ve got a gripe about it, though. If you’re going to flame someone in cyberspace, have the guts to do it under your own name. The anonymity of this whole medium is probably the most dangerous part of it. Sure, it gives people the courage to communicate. But it also removes almost all accountability. It’s honestly probably one of my biggest challenges with this little project–to not sit back at my desk and fire away at anyone with whom I don’t agree, knowing that I won’t be called to answer for it.

Everyone and their grandmother has an opinion. Everyone generally comes down on one side of an issue. That’s fine. People have some cause to be critical. No problem. But if you’re going to bring accusations against someone on the Net, I hope you’ve first contacted them about your gripe. And I hope you had the integrity to do it under your real name. There’s a lot of airing of dirty laundry out here, and it’s ugly. It’s sin, and it doesn’t help anyone at all.


On War

Sunday, 10 April 2005

Blogger ate my last post, and it was just enough drivel for me to not want to go back and try recovering it. The eating of my entry was a good thing. On to something with a bit more tooth to it.

I was listening to a local NPR program the other day and actually got motivated to call in. Being a local show it was easy to get on the air with their guests. It was a watershed program for me, though I’m sure not in the way it was intended.

The program was interviewing local peace activists. Basically, these three representatives of three different peacenik organizations were arguing that there is no cause for war. Ever. Or if there ever is a cause, even then war should not be waged. Their solution? “Invest in people.” To a person these speakers were proposing that instead of waging war the US ought to be sending money to these disenfranchised, disgruntled people. This was their solution to avoid war and attrocities. This is their solution for the end of the current war effort now.

So I called in to the show: “So if we had only invested in people suicide squads wouldn’t have flown airplanes into the Twin Towers? There would be peace in the Sudan? Hitler wouldn’t have tried to exterminate Jews and Gypsies?” I got some nonsensical statistic about the cost of war being “ironically” the exact figure it would cost to vaccinate the children of the world against everything from polio to halitosis. Right. Bin Laden just wants Hep. B shots for his kids.

See, I’m a little embarassed to say this. I knew I disagreed with the peaceniks for a number of good reasons, but the underlying philosophy didn’t hit me until that program. They believe that people are inherently good. To them there is no natural depravity inherent to human nature. We’re all products of our environments. If we just invest in people, they’ll do right.

See, I knew this. I did. If only Osama had not been some poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks he wouldn’t have done what he did. If only he’d had someone investing in him. Oh wait.

Osama bin Laden was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in early 1957. His parents were some of the wealthiest people in Saudi Arabia, allowing him an affluent upbringing. He was the seventh son and had nearly fifty brothers and sisters. He made a fortune working in this family’s construction business.

I guess that doesn’t quite answer the question, does it? This guy had nothing but “investments in him,” yet look what he’s done. Chances are, when given the choice, people on their own are going to do whatever they want and think they can get away with.

Of course war is a terrible, ugly, dirty thing. No one in his right mind is going to choose war over peace. But war is often a necessary means in bringing peace. While significant rebuilding efforts must obviously be undertaken and funded in Iraq and Afghanistan, simply “investing in people” who are just as depraved and sinful as you or I isn’t the silver bullet they’re imagining it to be. It’s just a bit more complex than that. The absence of war does not mean peace. Just look at the Cold War years between the US and Soviet Union. Strive for real peace–just peace, which may only come from the spilling of blood.

You simply can’t get there when you naively imagine that human beings are inherently good and nice. Theologically it doesn’t hold water. And it’s been proved time and time again throughout the history of mankind on the earth. Even if you can’t be a good theologian, at least be something of an historian.


I ask your prayers

Friday, 01 April 2005

If anyone stumbles upon my scribblings here, I ask for your prayers for my father-in-law. He was diagnosed with a small skin cancer–not melanoma. In fact, it is a variety that does not spread. Even so, please pray to the Lord Jesus for healing and protection from any further maladies. Thanks.


Pride

Friday, 01 April 2005

Pride is a fickle friend. It’s no friend at all. Last night I confessed to my wife the sin of pride that had simply been making it difficult for me to exercise well my vocation as husband.

I was being a prick. She forgave me.

It was subtle–both my pride and my behavior–but there was no getting around it. I was holding on to my own image of myself and my self-importance instead of doing what I have been called to do according to my Lord who has put me into this marriage with her. It was one of the hardest conversations of my life. It wasn’t a tear-jerker; the music didn’t swell and we didn’t fall into each other’s arms in a fit of emotion. But there I was: laid bare as I ought to have been in the first place. Whether it was an issue of id or ego, I had been in the wrong for some time. Plainly, it was difficult.

And today it doesn’t feel much different. I rarely feel as though a weight has come off, and this is no exception. Yet there is something of a hopefulness here that wasn’t there before. I don’t know that I’ll go into much more detail here.

Pride continues to be a struggle for me–either when I manifest it or when I perceive it in others. Too often I am confronted, in one or the other, the need for the last word; the subtle acknowledgement of wrong without going all the way and personally admitting wrong; holding on to sin because letting go means a release of perceived power.

Pride is a poor solution to anxiety. In the end we’re left either with our own pride–the sham of self-sufficiency–or Jesus Christ and his all-sufficiency.

Confession. Absolution. In Christ there is freedom–freedom to be weak and not to hold on to my own feeble sense of importance. Thank God.