Lectionary woes

Friday, 28 July 2006

We follow the three-year series for the lectionary here. I’m not one who gets his shorts in a wad over which lectionary a congregation uses. Provided it teaches the church year, which teaches the life of Christ and of the Church, I’m really ok with it.

But my gripe is this: why must we play the cut-cut snip-snip game with a text? Today as I was putting together the service for All Saints’ Day, I stopped short at the appointed Old Testament reading. I’ve never put so many commas in a pericope reference: Isaiah 26.1-4, 8-9, 12-13, 19-21. Here is the whole text, with the elisions italicized:

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
For he has humbled the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.”
The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.
My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
Lord, your hand is lifted up, but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed. Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.
O Lord, you will ordain peace for us; you have done for us all our works.
O Lord our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance.
They are dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise; to that end you have visited them with destruction and wiped out all remembrance of them.
But you have increased the nation, O
Lord, you have increased the nation; you are glorified; you have enlarged all the borders of the land.
Lord, in distress they sought you; they poured out a whispered prayer when your discipline was upon them.
Like a pregnant woman who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near to giving birth, so were we because of you, O
we were pregnant, we writhed, but we have given birth to wind. We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by.
For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.

So my question, and I’m quite sure I’m not alone in this, is “What’s wrong with 5-7, 10-11, and 14-18?” Are these somehow not written for the edification and instruction of God’s people? With the use of a lectionary cycle there is indeed some interpretive work that must occur, but such selectivity is excessive. I haven’t worked much with the upcoming LSB lectionary, but I pray that it will leave whole texts, well, whole.



Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Part of what makes internet pornography such a pervasive problem is anonymity. People can observe porn regularly, with little financial burden, and they can do it from the relative privacy of their own homes. There is no awkward moment at the video store, no talking in low tones at the 7-11 counter (“No, not that one. That one.”). No one needs to know.

Enter MySpace. When the youth leaders and I sat down to talk about next year’s program, I was introduced to this beast. Most of you likely have a good deal of experience with this one (or it’s similar counterparts like Facebook). Upon learning that several of our youth frequent MySpace, I signed up for an account and waited to see what friends might come. Things like this tend not to shock me, but this one does scare me. The sexual suggestion and the possibilities of predation are simply too great.

MySpace removes the anonymity of the pornographic experience, but enables an electronic sexualized experience with multiple partners. Girls in their early teens have scantily-clad selfpics accentuating cleavage, etc. The pictures that many tend to post are of themselves while engaged in, shall we say, risky behaviors. And the comments/communication likewise tend to be rather sexually charged–in a pornographic way.

Take this little gem from the MySpace vaults. This is one of those endlessly circulating messages out there:

There’s at least 1 person on your myspace that wants to date you or sleep with you. So lets play friends w/benefits…

The rules are simple…

If you want to date the person who posts this send them a msg saying “I’m yours”

If you just want to sleep with the person and stay friends, send them a message that says “I’d hit it”


& see who replies,

There is at least 1 person on your myspace that wants to date you.

Repost this as “friends w/ benefits”

Scared??? Absolutely. [sarcasm] This is exactly what everyone needs! Let’s have lots of meaningless sex. Let’s live out the pornographic fantasy. We can all just continue to live individualized autonomous existances and when the carnal urge hits us, we’ll just sate the beast together. It’s just sex. We can share the experience without getting ourselves bogged down with all the emotional/relational baggage that comes with it. That stuff takes more work than we’ve got time for anyway. We just don’t want to be tied down like that.

Better yet, let’s play this game. Let’s take our already sexually-supercharged lives and add a little gasoline to the mix. Let’s tell everyone we know whether or not we would like them to be our sexual drive-thru window. Why should MySpace have all the fun? Put it in an intra-office memo. Tell the guy in the cubicle next to you whether or not you’d “hit it.” [/sarcasm]

1 Cor. 7.9: “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.” This generation says that it’s best to be aflame with passion. This generation says that if you’re not aflame with passion there’s something wrong with you. This and subsequent generations, are being brought up to learn that boundaries are for puritanical morons.

I’m calling for self-control, but I’m also calling for parental control. Don’t just find out what your kids’ attitudes toward sex (etc.) are. Give them proper attitudes toward them. Instill healthy attitudes in them. And for their sakes, find out what their online behaviors are. You may be shocked at the double lives they’re leading.


Thursday, 20 July 2006

I don’t remember if Homer Simpson said it or not, but if he didn’t he should have and would have: “Of course you can trust it. It’s on the Internet, isn’t it?”

And given how easy it is to get, shall we say, “published” in such a medium, it becomes mind-numbing and a little scary what a quack, a computer, an internet connection, a modicum of biblical knowledge, and a proclivity for alarmism can create. Gentle reader, I give you “America In Prophecy.” I mean, they’ve got a dot.org domain and everything!

My favorite part is where it entreats the visitor with, “YOU TAKE OTHER VERSES OF SCRIPTURE AND TWIST THEM TO MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD. WHY CAN YOU NOT OBEY THIS ONE CARDINAL LAW. FOR WHICH ALMIGHTY GOD HAS VERY PLAINLY DECREED HE’LL BURN YOU OFF THE MAP. IF YOU. DO NOT. OBEY IT!!!” And I’m thinking, “Wha? You mean I need to obey this guy? Didn’t he resign?”

I don’t know why I posted the link. It’s not worth the visit from anyone but the morbidly curious–of which I must confess I was one–and even then, not really. To any who begin to approach buying into any of this, please have a credit card handy and click here now.


Tuesday, 18 July 2006

The current version is 1.1.2. I’m still finding little typographical errors, but I suppose this will continue to happen for a bit. Still I am entirely gratified by the experience and the end result. This is a useable, accessible, portable resource that I believe will serve quite well.

(Not so) Strange Bedfellows

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Two of the books in the sidebar are eerily related. They are On Killing and Pornified. Each is written about a specific cultural taboo: the taking of life and the act of sex, respectively. Both make similar points: voyeuristic access to sex and death has desensitized our culture to them both. Or, perhaps more to the point, watching killing Hollywood-style and watching sex porn-style take these two mysterious activities and show us all the mechanics and still leave us without a clue about either one.

And the tiny corners of society that are as yet remarkably not directly touched by one or the other are still reeling from their indirect effects.

As I write this, it occurs to me that pornography more than on-screen depictions of the taking of human life is one of the most pervasive cultural influences today. And I’d argue that it is largly subliminal. What say you?


Saturday, 15 July 2006

The English text of the Concordia Triglotta in Microsoft Reader format is complete. Here’s a taste:

I’m considering this to be version 1.0. I’m quite convinced that there are some typographical errors and other bugs that will need to be worked out (regarding formatting, etc.), but I’m generally pleased with it. It has been some work, but I believe it will be an edifying addition to the Lutheran eBook user’s library.

Part of my excitement is the ability to search, bookmark, and annotate on both the PC and the PocketPC. Additionally, where the PDF version takes up a little more than 2MB of space, this version slides in at around 670kb.

As the PDF version is available to the public via a free download at bookofconcord.org, I will be more than happy to make this version available as well, also at no charge.

Update: The current version is now 1.1. The Greek font was not working in the PPC reader, but is now. Unfortunately, the PPC only supports the “basic Greek” characters, so accents and breathing marks are out.


Friday, 14 July 2006

How much do you know about it? Would it surprise you to know that almost 1% of children today are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Even more go undiagnosed. This is a significant segment of the population. Chances are good that you know someone on the spectrum, or that you know someone who does. Causes are unknown, but research is making significant progress in treatment and management of ASD. Not only that, but research has also shown that early diagnosis and treatment can be phenomenally successful in helping to mitigate the associated traits of ASD.

We were shocked this morning when we learned that health insurance companies are not required to cover treatments for ASD or developmentally delayed/disabled children. An entire class of people is left out. Where federal law mandates insurance coverage for any number of maladies, ASD has not made the cut. And a disorder that is quite treatable, at least manageable, is left out.

We have some very dear friends with a child who is on the autism spectrum. The child is four years old, and owing to ASD, is somewhat developmentally delayed. Thanks to therapy, in the last 18 months the child is now capable of some limited speech, interacts with others more, throws fewer and briefer temper tantrums, and will even come to me (something that simply did not happen even eight months ago), among many other things. Therapy has been helping this child adjust and develop. But now, thanks to a company-wide insurance plan change, no plans are being offered to employees which cover such therapy. (Had the child been speaking and lost the ability to do so as the result of an accident it would be a different story.) The options for this family are a) find other employment with a more comprehensive health plan and pray that it doesn’t get changed on them; b) pay for the therapy out of pocket, which will financially wreck the family; or c) work for a change in federal law so that treatment for such children is covered.

Autism and ASD are not creepy. I’ve seen the way that parents pull their children away when the ASD child is around (once they learn that it is an ASD). They’re afraid because they just don’t get it. But children on the autism spectrum have a good chance of managing the symptoms through various treatments. They can grow and become quite socialized. When treatment has such a high possibility of success, it is a travesty not to include them in health insurance coverage.

We can do better. I ask you to please contact your senators and representatives. Ask them to hold the insurance companies to account. Demand that these children be given access to the therapy that they need to help them grow and develop and manage their autistic traits.