Sunday, December 25, 2011

Two Christmas Messages

Two messages for Christmas offered, one by the President of the United States with his First Lady, and one by Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom and Head the Commonwealth, to their people.

First, because I am a citizen of the USA, the President.



And then the Queen.



Isn't it good that, in lands where the "reason for the season" is downplayed or even set aside, particularly in the public realm, these heads of State both remind us who is at the center of his holiday ("holy day").

Merry Christmass to you, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Celebrate His Birth!

You are invited to join the congregation of
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria
in celebrating

The Nativity of Our Lord


Christmass Eve Service of Carols and Candlelight
with Holy Communion @ 7:00 pm

Christmass Day Communion @ 9:00 am

at
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
1534 S. Easton Avenue, Peoria
(at Easton and Hayes, 1 block west of Jefferson and Western)

Phone: (309) 637-9150

The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS, Pastor


And in the meantime (or if you cannot join with us or your own congregation), take time to hear the sacred music of the Christmass season on Lutheran Public Radio online.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Repost: Marriage and Our Culture

Retired ELCA Bishop Herbert W. Chilstrom has chimed in on the "same-sex marriage" debate in Minnesota via an op-ed in the Minneapolis StarTribune in the form of a fraternal letter to the Catholic Bishops in Minnesota. I've posted on this matter a few times in this blog -- click the Catagory Label for "Marriage" that appears down the right column of this blog to find all my posts related to the subject.

I invite you to check them out, particularly J. Budziszewski's "So-Called Marriage" and Religion, Reason, and Same-Sex Marriage. There are others, too, but the most important one I'm reposting -- again -- below.

Secularists and "progressive" Christians (like Bishop Chilstrom) would have us to believe that this is solely a "religious" issue being imposed on our society. It is not. Rather (as I wrote the first time I re-posted this), their claim
relies (and apparently successfully) on the common ignorance of the history of Western Civilization and American law.
Marriage is important to our society. Here you will get a reminder of just how key it is.


Talking about Marriage and our Culture (originally posted 17 May 2008, with links updated)


I meant to post this several months ago, but in the light of the California Supreme Court's redefinition of "marriage" this week and the conversation it is eliciting in some segments of the Church, it seemed more urgent to transcribe this portion of an interview with John Witte, Jr., from a recent edition of Mars Hill Audio. In the interview, which draws upon his book God's Joust, God's Justice: Law and Religion in the Western Tradition (Eerdmans, 2006), Prof. Witte addresses why law needs to be understood in the context of its relation with other practices and disciplines, including religion.

Ken Meyers' last question in the interview is:


"One of the areas in which there's a lot of contention about morality and law right now are marriage laws. I know you've spent a lot of time studying marriage and family -- history of marriage and family. It seems that in some circles there's a reluctance to assert that our laws concerning family, what constitutes a family, what constitutes a marriage, should be based in some moral vision, that that itself is seen as a transgression of the Social Contract for a kind of pluralism. You think that it’s entirely possible to make moral arguments in the construction of laws governing family."

Witte responds:

"I think those are absolutely imperative to offer as alternatives in the discourse.

"It’s important to remember that the architects of our understanding of a social and government Contract (people like John Locke or Jean Jacques Rousseau and some of their American followers and contemporaries) had as their First Contract -- before the contract of society and the contract of government -- the First Contract was the Contract of Marriage. In Locke’s First and Second Treatise that’s presupposed. In Jean Jacques Rousseau’s work that’s presupposed. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson both presupposed that as well.

"The Marital Contract is the First Contract. It's the First School of Justice. It's the first chrysalis in which nurture, education, and habits of citizenship are encouraged in the population. It's only on the strength of that contract, from atavistic individuals in nature to this first institution, that we can then begin to build a notion of a Social Contract and, beyond that, a Government Contract.

"And that's an ancient insight that goes all the way back to Aristotle, that goes back to his "Politics" in Nicomachean Ethics, where he said the first institution of the polis is the family.

"So if that is the presupposition in Western understandings of how we organize our polities, it seems to me that it is a non-starter for us to be debating the essentials of marital and family norms, and procedures and policies, and exclude from that discourse all of the rich cultural, philosophical, and theological traditions that have helped to cultivate our understanding of marriage and family, and how it works within the broader polity.

"And religious communities that bracket their theological discourse, that choose to forego a deep reflection on the goods and the goals of what marriage and family life are all about in an attempt to be politically correct, or an attempt to avoid a political fence -- or in an attempt to First Amendment-ize themselves per the caricature of the separation of Church and State -- in my view, both are engaging in theological bracketing and trimming that's unnecessary. What they're ultimately engaging in [is] an omission from the discourse that's going to harm the polity in the long term.

"And that’s not to say that there's a preordained result about how these marriage and family debates are going to work out at the State level. But it is to say that, if we're going to have a real, serious discourse about changing 2500-year-old patterns about how marriage and family life come together in the West, we better do that with full ventilation of all of the philosophical, theological, moral, economic, sociological issues at stake."

Thus far, I see few signs of a "real, serious discourse" in my "religious community."

John Witte, Jr., is the Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and Ethics at Emory Universty, where he is also serves as Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion. You can download or purchase the entire interview here. While you're at it, subscribe to Mars Hill Audio.