Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This is just too fun...

And an excuse to mention the 2-hour marathon of The Boys (that's Laurel & Hardy to the rest of you) on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) beginning at 8 pm, Tuesday, January 11. Of course, one needs to be in the USA (check!) and access to that cable TV channel (nuts!) to view.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sing Along with These Angels

A very merry and blessed Christmass to you.

And to remind you that not everything need be completely serious, here's a little seasonal cheer thanks to Walt Kelly:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo! ...

(See full lyrics at the Oh-fishul Pogo Website.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Celebrate the Birth of Christ!

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

The Nativity of Our Lord
Friday, December 24, 2010

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Proclamation of Thanksgiving

As a response to this Proclamation by the President of the United States, the Chapel at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria will be open this evening, Thanksgiving Eve, for prayer and Holy Communion beginning at 7 pm. You are welcome to join us -- we're at the corner of Easton and Hayes, one block west of the intersection of Jefferson and Western, on the South Side of Peoria. Fellowship and refreshments follow!

= = = = = = = =

Presidential Proclamation--Thanksgiving Day

A beloved American tradition, Thanksgiving Day offers us the opportunity to focus our thoughts on the grace that has been extended to our people and our country. This spirit brought together the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe -- who had been living and thriving around Plymouth, Massachusetts for thousands of years -- in an autumn harvest feast centuries ago. This Thanksgiving Day, we reflect on the compassion and contributions of Native Americans, whose skill in agriculture helped the early colonists survive, and whose rich culture continues to add to our Nation's heritage. We also pause our normal pursuits on this day and join in a spirit of fellowship and gratitude for the year's bounties and blessings.

Thanksgiving Day is a time each year, dating back to our founding, when we lay aside the troubles and disagreements of the day and bow our heads in humble recognition of the providence bestowed upon our Nation. Amidst the uncertainty of a fledgling experiment in democracy, President George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving in America, recounting the blessings of tranquility, union, and plenty that shined upon our young country. In the dark days of the Civil War when the fate of our Union was in doubt, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day, calling for "the Almighty hand" to heal and restore our Nation.

In confronting the challenges of our day, we must draw strength from the resolve of previous generations who faced their own struggles and take comfort in knowing a brighter day has always dawned on our great land. As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation. This Thanksgiving Day, we remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. These patriots are willing to lay down their lives in our defense, and they and their families deserve our profound gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

This harvest season, we are also reminded of those experiencing the pangs of hunger or the hardship of economic insecurity. Let us return the kindness and generosity we have seen throughout the year by helping our fellow citizens weather the storms of our day.

As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God. Let us recall that our forebears met their challenges with hope and an unfailing spirit, and let us resolve to do the same.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 2010, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all the people of the United States to come together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Dear All Things Considered

Subject: TSA Scans and "Pat Downs"

Dear All Things Considered:

Regarding the story this evening (Monday, 11/15) on the TSA Scans and "pat downs" of airline travelers and the interview with Dave Barry:

Perhaps you can help me understand what is so humorous about ordinary citizens being subjected to invasive body scans and searches simply because they are traveling by airplane. The reports of acts by agents of our own government sound more like something one might have heard from the darkest days of Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany, not in the land of the free or a
nation conceived in liberty. Or are we indeed now living in a dystopian future that authors like Huxley and Orwell warned us about in fiction more than half-a-century ago? Are we free citizens or subjects of some faceless "czar?" Since going through an American airport now seems to routinely require indignities that convicted felons cannot be subjected to except in extreme circumstances, I'll find some other way to travel.

Steven Tibbetts
Peoria, Illinois
listening on WCBU, Peoria

= = = = =
Interestingly enough, the spell checker on Outlook flags "TSA" and suggests "TSAR."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stumme on the ELCA's "Bound Conscience"

The latest edition of the ELCA's on-line Journal of Lutheran Ethics begins a two month focus on the topic of "bound conscience," the expression of which emerged with the ELCA's Social Statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust. the first article is by the recently retired Director of the Department for Studies in the Church in Society unit of the ELCA, John R. Stumme. Here's how Pr. Stumme begins (complete with associated endnotes):

"Conscience-bound Beliefs" Rule and the "Conscience-bound-belief" Rule

John R. Stumme

[1] What is striking about the ELCA's August 2009 decisions about sexuality is that they changed policy without giving a scriptural account for the change. The policy change allows persons in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to be ordained, yet the change is not supported in any official church document on the basis of what "this church" (as the ELCA likes to call itself) holds to be the authoritative source and norm for its life and teaching.1

[2] Instead, the ELCA appealed to its members to respect the "conscience-bound beliefs" of persons who have different understandings regarding same-gender sexual behavior and relationships. This appeal to respect beliefs bound by conscience, it was assumed, gave "this church" the authority to accommodate different practices on ordination and blessings. On this question, then, "conscience-bound beliefs" rule in the ELCA, replacing any claim that Scripture authorizes or does not authorize same-gender sexual behavior. If "this church" is going to be consistent with what it stated about "conscience-bound beliefs," it will also apply its new "conscience-bound-belief" rule to other issues. I hope to develop these themes in what follows.2

[3] Because the ELCA has elevated the concept of "conscience-bound beliefs" to such prominence for its life and teaching, the concept deserves careful scrutiny. The social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust made it the "pivotal" concept in how the ELCA "resolved" the most controversial, exhausting and expensive issue in its history, and therefore I look carefully at what is said there.3

Without a Biblical Teaching
[4] The social statement describes four positions on same-gender behavior and relationships with the preface: "This church recognizes that, with conviction and integrity:" (each individual description beginning) "On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that...."4 The four positions described may be simplified into two basic ones, each with two variations: one position does not approve same-gender sexual behavior and the other approves it within lifelong, loving, and monogamous commitments. The descriptions are brief, and no argument is presented for their biblical truth. References to, interpretation and discussion of biblical texts are absent from the descriptions.

[5] The social statement announces that "this church...will include these different understandings...." in its mission and ministry.5 Why are they included? The reason given is that they represent the "conscience-bound belief" of some.

[6] Does this mean that the ELCA affirms as its own biblical teaching four distinct teachings on same-gender sexual behavior and relationships? So I thought at one point, but I have changed my mind. If what is said here are descriptions — and nothing more — of what members are said to believe, as is claimed, then the ELCA is not saying that this is what "this church" teaches. None of the four positions is identified as the preferred or the true one. Nor does the social statement say that all four positions are equally valid or equally invalid for members to hold. No, the social statement is only descriptive; it does not make any judgment whatsoever about these positions it includes in its life. Most importantly, how could "this church" or any church body in its official teaching hold as true and faithful to Scripture contradictory positions on a matter of God's law? What this all means, I finally realized, is that the ELCA has no biblical teaching on same-gender sexual behavior.6

[7] Before August 2009 the ELCA did have a teaching on same-sex sexual behavior as expressed in social statements from the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America.7 This teaching was in accord with the Christian church's universal tradition of biblical interpretation and with what most churches in the world teach today, as found, for example, in the statements from the Lutheran churches in Ethiopia and Tanzania: that same-sex sexual behavior is not in accord with the biblical witness.8 The ELCA declined to affirm this teaching as its own, and it did not give a scriptural argument on why it abandoned this teaching. It also declined to develop and affirm the teaching that same-gender sexual behavior in a committed relationship was, like marriage, pleasing to God. The ELCA abdicated in its authority to state its understanding of biblical truth on the issue.

[8] The absence of a teaching on same-gender sexual behavior seems to create major obstacles for anyone who in their teaching office represents the ELCA. When pastors, bishops or other teachers in the church are asked, "Does the ELCA believe and teach that same-sex sexual behavior is acceptable to God or not?," the honest answer has to be: "We don't know. We as a church don't have a teaching on the matter." It would be dishonest for a representative to claim one of the four positions as the ELCA's teaching. If the follow-up question is, "What then should I believe the Bible says?" the answer would seem to be something like: "Study the Bible, pray, understand the issue, decide what you think is the biblical witness, and respect the beliefs of others. It's an individual decision made, of course, in dialogue with others."

[9] Without a scripturally based teaching to guide members' beliefs that the ELCA claims as its own, the obligation to answer the question is foisted on each congregation, finally on each individual member. Any answer (one should probably add, within the parameters of the four positions described in the social statement, although, it seems, a "conscience-bound belief" could be outside them) is as good as any other in the ELCA since "this church" has no normative teaching by which to evaluate them. The decisive authority is the belief attested to by the individual's conscience. "Conscience-bound beliefs" are in the driver's seat. "All the people did what was right in their own eyes" (Judges 21:25). If every congregation and individual is left to decide for themselves what authoritative, biblical teaching is, it is plausible to expect further fragmentation in an already divided church body.

10] In ecumenical settings, ...
_ _ _ _ _ _
1. The ELCA in its constitution states that Scripture is "the authoritative source and norm of [this church's] proclamation, faith, and life" (ELCA 2.03). The 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted the social statement "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" (ELCA: 2009) and four ministry policy resolutions. For more information on these documents and a link to ELCA Ministry Policies go to the Web site "Frequently Asked Questions about the 2009 Churchwide Assembly actions regarding sexuality" (

2. I thank Victor Thasiah for his invitation to write on "bound conscience" for JLE. My line of thought continues the argument I made in a JLE article in 2005 that the ELCA has an obligation to be clear on its biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality before it changes its policies. "Moral discourse structured by communally accepted 'objective convictions' is the controlling factor in moral deliberation, not personal experiences or individual consciences." Here I argue that because the social statement side-steps the question of biblical truth, the ELCA's policy changes lack a trustworthy basis in the church's authoritative teachings. Cf. "The Church as a Community of Moral Deliberation — a Time of Testing," Journal of Lutheran Ethics 5:8 (August 2005).

3. My intent is to give a close reading to the actual text of the social statement in the section "Lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships," 18–21, and its endnotes, # 24–26. The social statement calls the concept of conscience "pivotal," #26.

4. "Human Sexuality," 20.

5. "Human Sexuality," 19.

6. The social statement notes that "this church is united on many critical issues" regarding same-gender relations and "that it has a pastoral responsibility to all children of God." "Human Sexuality," 19. Rev. Dr. William O. Gafkjen, now Bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod, in an online response ( to Dr. Robert Benne, wrote: "The clear teaching and proclamation emerge around assertions that public accountability and lifelong faithful monogamy are to be the norm for same-gender relations." "Response to 'Lutherans in Search of a New Church'." (July 2010). The bishop has stated the policy, but he has begged the question on how the ELCA arrived at a biblically-based teaching that approves same-gender sexual behavior. In fact, it has not.

7. "Sex, Marriage, and Family," Lutheran Church in America (1970), 4. "Human Sexuality and Sexual Behavior," American Lutheran Church (1980), 8–9. Where social statements from the predecessor church bodies were in agreement, they remained the teaching of the ELCA until it adopted its own teaching.

8. See "The Dodoma Statement" of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania ( and the Ethiopian Evangelical Church of Mekane Yesus (, including its April 2010 news release, "EECMY Reaffirms its Rejection of Same Sex Marriage."
Read it all here.

Sort of reminds me of something I wrote here in July 2009:
Nevertheless, I had hopes that, since every possible theological resource would be available to the ELCA Task Force, if anyone could offer such a sustainable argument, they would. I participated in all the studies. I read through all the official materials. I participated in many discussions.

And in the end, they offered no argument at all. They have given us assertions that cover the "sides" in the debate over the place of homosexuality in the Church, but there is no argument made for changing the Church's teaching on homosexuality anywhere to be found in the Report and Recommendations or the proposed Sexuality Statement.

In the end of nearly 8 years of work, given the chance to show that the Church's teaching has been wrong, having the best and brightest minds of the ELCA at their disposal, they did not even try.
One might understand why the complaints of a pastor of a tiny parish in Peoria would be ignored. But ignoring the concerns of one of the ELCA's own staff theologians?

Ah, the hopes we had in the 1980s for the New Lutheran Church. Then there's the legacy our leaders have, uh -- "built" isn't quite the right word, is it?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Don't Need Your MTV

So Pastor Zip is flipping through the Peoria TV dial since his show is being pre-empted for a special and suddenly Channel 43.2 appears on the screen.

43.2? There is no Channel 43.2 in Peoria! (Pastor Zip is a hold out to cable TV, stubbornly insisting that the free, over-the-air TV is good enough)

Except there is. It's a subchannel for WYZZ Fox 43 (though apparently there's been no announcement of it) and shows music videos. It's called theCoolTV and, unlike MTV, it shows, well, music videos. Apparently all the time.
THECOOLTV plays music, period.
Our programming is customized to YOUR market, so watch for the videos you
want to see and send requests to REQUEST via email or call the
COOL REQUEST LINE at 888-342-8761 x711
The program guide says "80's at Eight." Oh, this is going to be fun!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Doctor Meets the Bioethicist

The Doctor Meets the Bioethicist, in which people with two very different views get to know each other.

The key word that is hard to understand is "specieist." Hat tip Secondhand Smoke, a First Things blog.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en!

And in honor of this day, here's a preview for the next episode of SCTV's Monster Chiller Horror Theatre hosted by Count Floyd and featuring another one of Dr. Tongue's 3-D classics. Trick or treat!!!

Ah, they don't do TV like that any more. Or do they?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Picketing Military Funerals

Dr. Jerry Pournelle at Chaos Manor gets mail. I'm struck by one that showed up a couple of weeks ago:
Picketing at a marines funeral

Clearly a Constitutionally allowed picket. But I would be privileged to contribute to the disorderly conduct fines of the Veterans who beat the hell out of them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I got a haircut this evening.

Which brings to mind a question that I've wondered about for several years:

Is there something to the story of Samson and Delilah?

Samson and Delilah by Cranach the Younger, 1537

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Still Smilin'

The following is an updated version of a post originally from July 19, 2008.

Yes, that's an airliner smiling. The plane is a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, arguably the best of the original widebodies. The airline is Pacific Southwest Airlines, the legendary San Diego based passenger carrier better known as PSA. The smiley face was part of its livery, which tells you something about PSA's corporate culture. Growing up in the West San Fernando Valley in the '60s and '70s, Lockheed and PSA were part the air.

Lockheed no longer makes airliners and PSA was swallowed up by USAir (now US Airways). Nowadays "PSA" usually means "prostate-specific antigen" and it is an indicator for prostate cancer -- which was discovered in me during the autumn of 2007. I had a prostatectomy right after Easter of 2008, and after that guys have their PSA tested regularly. Yesterday morning I got the results of my latest PSA:
Less than 0.1.
That is, immeasurable.

Alleluia! Still right where we want it!

As PSA's ads said, "Catch our smile!" (Besides, can you think of a better graphic?)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels

Luther Reed in The Lutheran Liturgy writes that the feast of St. Michael and All Angels commemorates the dedication, on a 29th of September sometime in the 5th century, of a small basilica on the Via Salaria, near Rome, the first church in Italy dedicated in honor of the Archangel Michael. In England Michaelmas is the traditional beginning of the Fall terms of courts and universities.

O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant, that as thy holy Angels alway do thee service in heaven, so by thy appointment they may succor and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(The Book of Common Prayer [1662] of the Church of England)

Deus qui miro ordine angelorum ministeria hominumque dispensas: concede propitius vt a quibus tibi ministrantibus in caelo semper assistitur: ab his in terra vita nostra muniatur. Per dominum.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Eighteen Years!

This is a slightly edited re-post of a previous blog entry. A blessed St. John Chrysostom's Day to you all. Zip+

+ + +
O Lord God, dear Father in heaven, I am indeed unworthy of the office and ministry in which I am to make known thy glory and to nurture and to serve this congregation.

But since thou hast appointed me to be a pastor and teacher, and the people are in need of the teaching and the instruction, O be thou my helper and let thy holy angels attend me.

Then if thou art pleased to accomplish anything through me, to thy glory and not to mine or to the praise of men, grant me, out of thy pure grace and mercy, a right understanding of thy Word and that I may also diligently perform it.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, thou shepherd and bishop of our souls, send thy Holy Spirit that he may work with me, yea, that he may work in me to will and to do through thy divine strength according to thy good pleasure. Amen!
That is Luther's Sacristy Prayer, and I pray it every Sunday as I vest for the Eucharist. I'll sometimes think then that it would be good to post it here and it is particularly fitting to do so today (thank you, Father Weedon, for the idea), for it was 18 years ago today that the Rev. J. Roger Anderson , Bishop of what was then called the Southern California (West) Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America addressed me as we stood in the Chancel of the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection (now called Faith Lutheran Church), Canoga Park, California, about 15 feet from where I had been baptized 33 years (less one week) earlier:
According to apostolic usage you are now to be set apart to the office of Word and Sacrament in the one holy catholic Church by the laying on of hands and by prayer.
Bishop Anderson was joined in the addresses that followed by the pastor loci and my pastor, the Rev. C. David Olsen (of blessed memory, who preached that afternoon), the Rev. Brian Eklund (pastor then at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Los Angeles, who had supervised my seminary "Cross Cultural Experience"), and the Rev. Jeffrey Frohner (a friend and seminary classmate who had just begun serving his first call at Trinity Lutheran Church, Santa Barbara). With them standing around me, the Bishop then examined me:
Before almighty God, to whom you must give account, and in the presence of this congregation, I ask: Will you assume this office, believing that the Church's call is God's call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

The Church in which you are to be ordained confeses that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and are the norm of its faith and life. We accept, teach, and confess the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds. We also acknowledge the Lutheran Confessions as true witnesses and faithful expositions of the Holy Scriptures. Will you therefore preach and teach in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and these creeds and confessions?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

Will you be diligent in your study of the Holy Scriptures and in your use of the means of grace? Will you pray for God's people, nourish them with the Word and Holy Sacraments, and lead them by your own example in faithful service and holy living?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

Will you give faithful witness in the world, that God's love may be know by all that you do?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

Almighty God, who has given you the will to do these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them.
After the Prayer of the Church and Come, Holy Ghost, they (though Brian and Jeffrey aren't really visible from this angle) were joined in the laying on of hands by the Rev. John Stump (Pastor Olsen's predecessor and my pastor at Resurrection during most of my college years) and the 2 nearest neighboring ELCA pastors, the Rev. John Lundeen (then of St. Luke Lutheran Church, Woodland Hills, and one of the Augustana Synod's Lundeen clan) and the Rev. Bryan Woken (then and now at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Canoga Park (West Hills). And thus they committed the Office of the Holy Ministry to me. Every time I attend an ordination, or simply take a few moments during devotions to review those promises -- many of us who have been in the Society of the Holy Trinity for a longer time have a card with them imprinted on the obverse of a holy card of Rublev's icon of the Old Testament Trinity -- I am struck once again by what I have been called to. How awsome! And how inadequate I am to bear that office.

Being reminded of that is a good thing. There is another similar Sacristy Prayer of Luther's that I don't use, but it always makes me smile, then ponder:
Lord God, thou hast appointed me a bishop and pastor in thy church. Thou seest how unfit I am to undertake this great and difficult office, and were it not for thy help, I would long since have ruined it all. Therefore I cry unto thee; I will assuredly apply my mouth and my heart to thy service. I desire to teach the people and I myself would learn ever more and diligently meditate thy Word. Use thou me as thine instrument, only do not forsake me, for if I am left alone I shall easily bring it all to destruction. Amen.
What an exciting day it was 18 years ago. And in all I've done since, I've not (yet) ruined it all. What a gracious Lord God we have!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Golden State: 160 Years

September 9, 1850 -- California is admitted to the Union.

Go ahead, let's sing together ---
California, here I come
    right back where I started from.
Where Bowers of flowers
    bloom in the spring.
Each morning at dawning,
    birdies sing an' everything.
A sunkist miss said, "Don't be late"
    that's why I can hardly wait.
Open up that Golden Gate,
    California here I come.
by Buddy DeSylva and Joseph Meyer
and (at least he's often credited) Al Jolson

Gil Imber at the Mighty Miditzer Presents...
Turn of the Century, California Here I Come.
Performed on the
Mighty Miditzer Style 216 Virtual Theatre Pipe Organ.

Doesn't that sound great? Or how about this transcription by Fats Waller?

Or this record from the California Ramblers in 1924?

(Yeah, I'm a little homesick...)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Don't Burn the Qur’ān; Read It!

Sometimes Christian pastors are really stupid. I can get away with saying that because, as of next week, I'll have been one for 18 years. And I've done some (okay, a lot of "some") stupid things as a pastor.

But nothing as monumentally stupid as Pastor Terry Jones' dubbing of September 11, 2010, as "International Burn a Koran Day." Granted, as pastor at a pretty small church myself, there's a bit of envy that he's brought world-wide notoriety to his tiny Dove World Outreach Center (where do people come up with such names for their churches?). But this is not what the Lord Jesus has in mind when he teaches his disciples that the world will hate them.

For an better plan, Martin Luther is actually quite relevant. You see, one of the reasons the Reformation had staying power in the 16th century was that Christian Europe was in the midst of a grand struggle with the Muslim Ottoman Turks. Under Suleiman the Magnificent, the Turks captured Belgrade in 1520. Then it was the defeat of the troops of King Louis II of Hungary (who was killed) at the Battle of Mahács August 29, 1526 -- which terrorized Christian Europe even more than September 11, 2001, terrorizes Americans. Suleiman would lay siege to Vienna in 1529 and attempt it again in 1532. While those campaigns failed, the Turks controlled much of eastern Europe, finally occupying Buda (the western part of modern Budapest), Hungary, in 1541. Most of Hungary would be under Ottoman dominion for the next 150 years; the Balkans into the 19th and 20th centuries.

It's this context that explains Luther's regular references to the Turks even from the very beginning of the Reformation. It turns out that Luther mainly knew about the Qur’ān from Italian sources. He finally read a poor Latin translation at the beginning of Lent 1542, which led to his translation into German and the publication of an early-14th century (or earlier) document as Refutation of the Alcoran by Brother Richard.

In 1542 Theodore Bibliander of Zurich produced the first scholarly Latin translation of the Qur’ān, but he couldn't get it published (Basel authorities censored it and jailed the either Bibliander or his printer -- historical footnotes in Luther's Works conflict here) until Luther intervened.

The Qur’ān was published, with a preface by Luther and other notes by Melanchthon. Far from burning the Qur’ān so that it would be destroyed, Luther wanted Christians to read it so that they would know what taught and compare and contrast that with the Holy Bible. As far as I can tell, Luther's preface hasn't been published in English, but you can read this summary on the LutheranWiki, including such points as:
Some fear that weak minds might be confused by the publication of the Quran in Latin – but there is no one in the church who is not absolutely sure that no religion or doctrine concerning God can be true that totally differs from the prophetic and apostolic writings.

Mohammed confesses to have come up with a new opinion that differs from the prophets and apostles – as the heathen opinions of old are to be rejected, so also Mohammed’s figments.

Those who do not even know that on the religion in agreement with the prophets and apostles is the true religion, how do they arm themselves against Mohammed’s ideas they might hear even if they do not read the Quran?

We who teach in the church have seen many different enemies – papists, Jews, Anabaptists, Servetus, and others – let’s also arm ourselves to fight against Mohammed: one cannot say anything about things one does not know.

“Therefore it is useful for the learned to read the writings of the enemies in order to refute, shake, and overthrow them all the more powerfully, in order to be able to heal some and certainly to arm our people with firmer arguments.”
Pastor Ronald Marshall of First Lutheran Chruch of West Seattle offers a handout of Luther's Preface to the Qur’ān for his class, Reading the Koran with Pastor Marshall, which he has held for several years.

So, Pastor Jones, if you want to perform the true service of a Christian minister, read the Qur’ān, learn how and where it conflicts with the Holy Scriptures, teach that to confused Christians and anyone else willing to listen, and proclaim the Gospel of the Jesus Christ. It was good enough for Martin Luther; it ought to be good enough for you. Don't burn it!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Army Chaplain Killed in Action

Distressing news from Afghanistan of the first military chaplain killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan. Hat tip to Chaplain Daniel Gard (who is also a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne) over at ALPB Forum Online:
The official message from the Chief of Chaplains, U.S. Army through the Chief of Chaplains, U.S. Navy:


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

It is with my deepest sympathy and utmost respect that I announce to our Chaplain Corps that Chaplain (CPT) Dale A. Goetz was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 30, 2010 while serving as the Battalion Chaplain for 1-66th Armor Battalion, 4th Infantry Division. Dale was one of five Soldiers killed by an Improvised Explosive Device while traveling in a convoy near Kandahar Province. Chaplain Goetz is survived by his wife, Christy, and by their three sons- Landon, Caleb and Joel.

Chaplain Goetz is the first military chaplain killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan. Dale was a selfless servant of God, a devoted husband and father, a strong American patriot, and a compassionate spiritual leader whose love for Soldiers was only surpassed by his firm commitment to living his calling as a United States Army Chaplain.

Please join with me in prayer for Christy, Landon, Caleb and Joel as we mourn with them in the loss of Dale, our fellow Soldier and Unit Ministry Team member. Let us also strive to honor Dale's sacrifice with a continuing bold commitment to ensure the finest religious support and pastoral care possible for our beloved Soldiers and their Families.

May God bless the Goetz Family and the Families of all our Fallen Soldiers; and, may God bless our Army and the United States of America.


Chaplain (Major General) US Army
Chief of Chaplains
Chaplain Goetz was a Baptist who served his God and his Country to the very end.

Rest eternal grant him, O Lord;
and let light perpetual shine upon him.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pr. Jonathan Jenkins' Open Letter

ELCA Pastor Jonathan Jenkins has written the following in response to ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson's latest pastoral letter, which was posted (among other places) on ALPB Forum Online.
August 28, 2010
An Open Letter to Colleagues in the ELCA:

I did not read Bp. Hanson’s pastoral letter until after my return from the Conference and the subsequent Convention of Lutheran CORE. The bishop’s letter was timed for the opening day of the conference, August 24, and expressed his opposition to the formation of the Lutheran denomination, the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). “As yet another Lutheran church body forms, we must ask how this separation in the body of Christ will serve the ministry and message of reconciliation entrusted to us by God.”

This is a good question, and I would like to offer an answer. I am a pastor of the ELCA, and I attended both the conference and the convention (which were distinguished by being held in separate locations.) I wish to respond to the bishop by reporting something of what I saw and heard in Ohio.

To begin with, Bishop Hanson’s letter reminds us, “We live in a world that is plagued by incivility, willful misunderstanding and hurtful caricatures of those with whom one disagrees. Let us declare that such behaviors will stop with us.” I am happy to report that a serious effort was made to do so, in Columbus.

Here is the issue: the ELCA is teaching its members to disobey the Word of God. Bishop Hanson does not seem to realize that the issue is not sexuality: “Throughout the ELCA I hear people asking, ‘Is my voice heard? Will my voice be respected as we seek together to discern God's purpose for us?’ The answer is yes. Nevertheless, people of deep faith and a desire to be part of this church wonder: Do we mean it when we say we can preach, teach and hold divergent views on sexuality and be full participants in the ELCA's life and witness? Again, the answer is yes.”

With respect, the issue is not “my” voice: it is the voice of the Lord.

The idea that the ELCA is permitted by the Lord to preach, teach, and hold two contrary views of sexual fidelity is an opinion ungrounded in Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. There is no clear word of support for this innovation from the very norms to which we are obliged to submit ourselves and our teaching, according to the ELCA Constitution.

Another pastor’s statement in similar circumstances measures the gravity of the decision of CWA2009: “Taken in its context, it falsifies the gospel of Christ, abandons the authority of Scripture, jeopardizes the salvation of fellow human beings, and betrays the church in its God-appointed role as the bastion and bulwark of divine truth.”

But most ELCA pastors are tired of hearing about it. They believe that “love” and “freedom” and “conscience” are norms with greater authority than words of Scripture (Genesis 1 & 2, the Ten Commandments, Mark 10:2-16, Romans 1:22-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, etc.). These words do not need to be considered, some believe, because they just don’t speak the Word of God any more. I do not doubt the sincerity of those who say such things, but I question their understanding of Lutheranism.

Perhaps “separation in the body of Christ” might “serve the ministry and message of reconciliation entrusted to us by God.” Because we do not speak the same message as it is conveyed to people today by the Spirit who speaks the Word of God in Scripture.

There are and will be other issues, too, as the ELCA trusts in experience to interpret the Bible, rather than the other way around.

The new hymnal is an obstacle to reconciliation. We are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. The saving power of this name is emphasized everywhere in the New Testament. For example, in John 17:11, the prayer of the Son, in the Spirit is: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me.” However, the name of the Father is routinely avoided in the new hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Worship. The language of ELW is not modelled upon or disciplined by biblical ways of speaking to and for God.

Another issue is the goal of the ministry of reconciliation in a global context. Conversion is no longer the aim of global mission, accompaniment is. The ELCA Global Mission unit defines accompaniment as “walking together in solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality” with non-Christian peoples. Traditionally, the overriding goal of the missionary was to proclaim the Gospel so that the hearers may become Christians, but that is not the stated purpose of the ELCA.

How can any of us be unmoved by Bishop Hanson’s passionate appeal to 2 Corinthians 5:14-21? “We celebrate the reconciliation from God that breaks down every dividing wall of hostility and unites humankind in the bonds of Christ. We delight in the promise of the new creation that God is bringing to life in Christ. We joyfully embrace the world and all its inhabitants in love and service. What a cause for rejoicing!” Amen!

But do we overlook verses 10 and 11? “For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others…” Isn’t Christ, finally, to quote the bishop, in “the sin-accounting business”? He will come again “to judge the living and the dead.”

What has happened to the preaching of the Law as an essential aspect of preaching the Gospel? For example, sexual sins (including heterosexual sins) are violations of the 1st, 4th, 6th, and 10th commandments. Is it in the interest of sinners to suggest that these are not sins that God will punish? Isn’t Christ locked out of the church, if absolution in his name is insulting to certain sinners?

God’s way of reconciling us to himself involves the preaching of the Law and the Gospel. However, Dr. H. Richard Niebuhr’s ironical analysis of preaching in the 1930’s comes too close for comfort: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

“Standing together, we are known as a church that rolls up its sleeves and solves problems, the church that is catalyst, convener and bridge builder,” writes Bp. Hanson. We are having a hard time living up to such a flattering self-image. It’s clear that ELCA seminaries, assemblies, missions, educational materials, and ordinations will follow the new policies. We do not, institutionally, have space in the ELCA for two different interpretations of Scripture. If traditional Lutheranism is to have a future, it is necessary to organize new seminaries, assemblies, missions, and publishers, as well as control of ordinations.

What if Bp. Hanson could say something like the following on behalf of the ELCA? “We have to admit, we are going out on a limb. We recognize that we’ve made decisions that are contrary to the way the church has historically interpreted Scripture, and we have departed from practices of the universal church. We believe, but cannot prove, that these changes are necessary for the sake of faithfulness to Christ. We ask you to have patience with us and to remain in full communion with us; but we will respect your decision to part company and will not impede it. We will do everything we possible to work with you as an ecumenical partner.”

A statement along those lines would be the best response to the bishop’s question: “As yet another Lutheran church body forms, we must ask how this separation in the body of Christ will serve the ministry and message of reconciliation entrusted to us by God.” An honorable separation would keep the wounds, deep as they are, from getting still deeper and further infected with bitterness of spirit. In this fallen and divided world, an amicable separation would be a not insignificant witness to reconciliation in Christ.

Pastor Jonathan Jenkins
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church,
Lebanon PA
Thank you, Pastor Jenkins.

Bishop Hanson's Pastoral Letter

ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson issued a pastoral letter last Tuesday. It appeared in my inbox Tuesday afternoon, but because the wifi at my hotel in Columbus was down all week, I didn't see my copy until Friday.

Columbus? I was there for three events related to Lutheran CORE, the constituting convocation of the Seven Marks Society on Monday and Tuesday; "Seeking Directions for Lutheranism: Biblical, Theological, and Churchly Perspectives," a theological conference for all Lutherans in North America organized by Carl Braaten that went Tuesday through Thursday; and Lutheran CORE's convocation on Thursday and Friday, which included the formation of the new North American Lutheran Church. It was for me an exhilarating and exhausting week of joys and sadness, which I'll reflect upon elsewhere.

But by midday Tuesday, word was out about Bishop Hanson's letter and there were several copies circulating. Here it is:

For Everything There Is a Season

A pastoral letter from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
              - Ecclesiastes 3:1
August 24, 2010

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

On a recent morning walk I reflected upon familiar words from Ecclesiastes, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NRSV). As I walked, I prayed and pondered about this time in the life of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). It is my prayer that we use this time for discerning and engaging; for repenting and reconciling; for restraint but not timidity; and for rejoicing.

A Time for Discerning and Engaging
Throughout the ELCA I hear people asking, "Is my voice heard? Will my voice be respected as we seek together to discern God's purpose for us?" The answer is yes. Nevertheless, people of deep faith and a desire to be part of this church wonder: Do we mean it when we say we can preach, teach and hold divergent views on sexuality and be full participants in the ELCA's life and witness? Again, the answer is yes.

My confident "yes" is predicated upon our shared commitment to be engaged together in discernment. This discernment is hard work. It must be grounded in the witness of the Scriptures and the Confessions, and it needs the voices of all the baptized. It calls for the Holy Spirit's guidance and our prayerful, disciplined and respectful listening to one another.

Even more, the source for my confident "yes" is God's gracious "yes" to us, spoken through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The "yes" of Jesus empowers us to be passionately engaged. It frees us to ask questions, have difficult conversations and uncover differences and tensions. It calls each of us to be everyday evangelists, discerning together what the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means for the world and for our common life.

Let our shared commitment be that our discerning together always will serve our proclamation of Jesus Christ in word and deed and our engagement in God's mission for the life of the world.

A Time for Repenting and Reconciling
The most powerful moment in the recent assembly of The Lutheran World Federation occurred when Lutherans asked for forgiveness from God and from Mennonites for the violence done to Anabaptist Christians in Reformation times and through the continuing legacies in Lutheran teachings. This public act of repentance, with many delegates on their knees, was a powerful witness to the healing of wounds in Christ's body, the church.

With tears in our eyes, we heard promises of God's mercy in Christ and words of forgiveness from Mennonite sisters and brothers as we received and shared God's gift of forgiveness and healing.

This experience of reconciliation is underscored for me in the fifth chapter of 2 Corinthians: the powerful announcement that if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. This new creation rises from Jesus, who died rather than be in the sin-accounting business.

The implication for us of the gospel's transforming power is that we become ambassadors for Christ. God has entrusted to each of us the message and ministry of reconciliation.

As yet another Lutheran church body forms, we must ask how this separation in the body of Christ will serve the ministry and message of reconciliation entrusted to us by God.

The ELCA has and will continue reaching out to others for the sake of the gospel and serving our neighbor. Standing together, we are known as a church that rolls up its sleeves and solves problems, the church that is catalyst, convener and bridge builder. Our strong ecumenical relationships and global partnerships testify to that commitment. Yet before the ELCA can undertake any such efforts with a new Lutheran church body, I believe we must commit to obey the commandment against bearing false witness and commit to live its meaning in every setting, both private and public: "We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light" (The Small Catechism, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 1161).

A Time for Restraint but not Timidity
We live in a world that is plagued by incivility, willful misunderstanding and hurtful caricatures of those with whom one disagrees. Let us declare that such behaviors will stop with us. There is room in this church for lively conversations and disagreements about questions of faith and life. There is room in this church for vigorous dialogue that witnesses to faith without rushing to judgment and closing off discussion.

Let us be restrained in our judgments and speak charitably with and about one another. Let us not be timid as we boldly proclaim Jesus Christ and participate in God's healing of the world. Let us generously, faithfully and courageously respond to the groaning of the creation and the cries of humanity.

A Time for Rejoicing
Even in the midst of great challenges in the economy and in the church, we can rejoice because the ministry in which we are engaged is a ministry of God's mercy and reconciliation in Christ. Our ministry is not about us, our shortcomings or our problems, for we proclaim Jesus Christ. We rejoice in the forgiveness that God offers at the font and the table, in public proclamation and personal assurance. We celebrate the reconciliation from God that breaks down every dividing wall of hostility and unites humankind in the bonds of Christ. We delight in the promise of the new creation that God is bringing to life in Christ. We joyfully embrace the world and all its inhabitants in love and service. What a cause for rejoicing!
By your word, eternal God, your creation sprang forth, and we were given the breath of life. By your word, eternal God, death is overcome, Christ is raised from the tomb, and we are given new life in the power of your Spirit. May we boldly proclaim this good news in our words and our deeds, rejoicing always in your powerful presence; through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 75)
In God's grace,

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Copyright © 2010 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
All rights reserved. This copyright notice must appear on all copies and reproductions.
Copies may be produced for distribution within the ELCA by affiliated ELCA organizations.

For the moment, let's just say that, for those of us in Columbus, Bishop Hanson's letter might have been better received if there had been any indications during the last 12 months that this expression of respect and desire for reconciliation were more than lip service. More follows...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ray Bradbury Turns 90

Ray Bradbury, whose 90th birthday is this Sunday, reveals his "secret of living a fulfilled life" as part of an interview posted on UCLA's birthday tribute to the treasured American writer.

Look here for details on some of the events for "Ray Bradbury Week" in the City of Angels.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Mohler: "Why Proposition 8 Decision Matters"

Over at Christianity Today, Albert Mohler has an good commentary entitled "Why the Proposition 8 Decision Matters." He begins:
The importance of the decision handed down yesterday by U. S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker in California's Proposition 8 trial will be difficult to exaggerate. Proponents of same-sex marriage immediately declared a major victory—and for good reason. The editorial board of The New York Times declared the verdict "an instant landmark in American legal history," and so it is, even if later reversed upon appeal.

Judge Walker's decision is sweeping and comprehensive, basically affirming every argument and claim put forth by those demanding that California's Proposition 8 be declared unconstitutional. That proposition, affirmed by a clear majority of California voters, amended the state's constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In one brazen act of judicial energy, California's voters were told that they had no right to define marriage, and thousands of years of human wisdom were discarded as irrational.
Read it all here at CT or here on his own blog.

And note that last phrase in the quote: "thousands of years of human wisdom were discarded as irrational" — which fits well with what I've written here several times, such as on my "Marriage and Culture" repost, where I wrote:
The claim by homosexual "advocates" is that the male-female distinction in marriage is only part of the "religious institution" of marriage, and thus ought not continue to be enshrined in civil law. It is a claim that relies (and apparently successfully) on the common ignorance of the history of Western Civilization and American law.
and a thrust you'll find through several my posts with the category labels law and marriage. Unlike Mohler, I still hold some hope that the Supreme Court could reverse this baseless decision in a way that might also begin to turn the tide away from the catastrophic cultural conclusion that marriage — a matter at the very foundation of Western civilation — in the US is now permanently redefined.

Destroying a culture's foundation is not likely to be good for that culture, no? But we'll see what happens, won't we.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Revitalizing the Mainline?

Arrrgh! Why did I not find out about this until just now? Looks like a good conference near Chicago, starting Friday, for those of us who are are not leaving our mainline (oldline, sideline) denominations. Hat tip Mere Comments.

ANSWERING THE CALL - Chicago - Aug 6-8

Conference on Replanting, Revitalizing and Pastoring the Church

Do you believe that God is calling you to reach out to a community with the message of Christ? Do you have an unshakable love for Christ’s church even with all her flaws? Do you desire to transform a church towards being missional in all it does? Does the idea of church replanting intrigue you? Are you interested in reaching new American mission fields with the gospel? Do you long to energize the local church with a passion to reach the world for Christ?

One of the emerging ministry opportunities is open pulpits in mainline* churches. There is a mainline church at the center of almost everyone town in America. They provide a great opportunity to reach communities with the message of Christ starting from the center of town.

Keynote Speakers:
  • Ed Stetzer - Being Missional in your Community
  • John Hull - Being a Servant Leader
  • Jim Tomberlin - Leveraging Multi-Site concepts for church growth
  • John Armstrong - Your church is too small: Missional Ecumenicalism
Practical workshops on the “how to” aspects of church replanting/revitalization

Pre-Conference Church Replanting Bootcamp
  • Why Replant Churches
  • What Does a Church Replanter Look Like?
  • Church Replanting Is Not A Tweak – Setting Vision & Leading Change
  • Church Replanting Is Not A Task - Understanding Culture and Working with People
This conference is for pastors, laity and students interested in learning how to minister the gospel in the mainline. August 5-7, 2010 in Chicago, Il at Elmhurst College. This will be a great time to think, learn and discuss how to apply the scriptures to the task of sharing Christ in our communities via mainline churches.

For more details

See you this summer in Chicago!

*Mainline churches typically include the American Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Opera Diva Modern Rocks!

Several years ago I was so intrigued by the BMG Classical Music Club review of an album of pop-rock music recorded by a famous opera singer that I ordered it. Eagerly opening the CD of fine songs by a fine singer, I was quickly disappointed by nearly an hour of, well, blandness.

Fast forward to July 2nd's ABC special America Celebrates July 4th at Ford’s Theatre when opera singer Renée Fleming started singing the song that turned me on to the alternative rock band Death Cab for Cutie, "Soul Meets Body," and pulled it off. Lionel Richie and Kelly Clarkson couldn't hold a candle to her performance. I put her new album Dark Hope on my list of CDs to buy -- soon.

A copy was on display at Barnes & Noble when I was there earlier this week and I slid it into Sebastian's (my Golf TDI) CD player as soon as I slipped into the driver's seat. Within 15 seconds I was ready to be hooked. Then Fleming started singing. Oh, it's good! Watch the trailer for a taste of the concept and execution of Dark Hope:

I've been listening to Renée Fleming's Dark Hope -- the whole thing, not just a few cuts -- all week in the car. Yeah, this diva modern rocks.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Christian's Death (?)

Today in Vadstena, Sweden, my friends in the Society of St. Birgitta have been celebrating her heavenly birthday with a High Mass, the prayer offices, a "formal lecture" by Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig (the Papal Nuncio to the Nordic lands) entitled The Reason for Christian Hope in a Joyful Future, and have concluded with their grand procession into the Vadstena Klosterkyrka (Abbey Church).

If I could afford to go to Sweden every summer, I'd be there for that and I expect that it, along with the entire week of the SSB's General Chapter, would have lifted my spirit from some of the angst of being in the ELCA these days. (Oh, well -- next year in Vadstena!).

All this as a way of introducing this reflection of death by Martin Luther that appeared as the fourth reading in For All the Saints for the Monday of the week of Pentecost 7 in year 2 (or a week ago Monday):
At birth a child comes forth amid pain and danger, from the narrow dwelling of the mother's womb, into the broad light of day. In a similar way a man goes through the narrow gate of death when he departs this life. And though heaven and earth under which we now live appear so wide, so vast, yet, in comparison with the heaven that shall be, it is far narrower and much smaller than is the womb in comparison with the broad expanse of heaven. That is why the death of saints is called a new birth, and their festivals birthdays.

A woman, when she is in travail, has sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish for joy that a man is born into the world. Likewise in death. We wrestle in anguish, yet know that hereafter we shall come forth into a wide, open space, and into eternal joy.

When I feel the dread of death, I say, "O death, you have nothing to do with me, because I have another death which kills my death. And the death which kills is stronger than that which is killed."

God appointed death to be the destroyer of death. It is evidence for God's surpassing goodness, that after death has entered, [Gen. 3:19] it is not permitted to hurt us ultimately, but is taken captive at the outset, and made to be the punishment and death of sin.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

41 Years Ago Today

"Houston," radioed Apollo 11's Commander Neil Armstrong, "Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

That's what we heard at the Tibbetts household 41 years ago today while, as at homes all across the nation and (indeed) the world, glued to the TV. We were watching on KNXT Channel 2, the CBS O&O station in Los Angeles, and Walter Cronkite was presiding. Here are 10 minutes of highlights of what we saw that week on CBS, courtesy South Florida's CBS4 site.

And here's 10 minutes of video footage of the landing from inside Eagle, with just NASA's audio:

Once upon a time, we could put a man on the Moon. Someday, hopefully soon, we'll be able to do it again. But until then, enjoy.

Monday, July 05, 2010

A Fashion Statement: Edward vs. Buffy

While I'll be headed to the theater soon to catch the latest installment of Twilight -- yes, I've enjoyed the films and the books -- nevertheless, this t-shirt ad at Jinx makes me smile:
Buffy Staked Edward T-Shirt

Don't you think the vampires-are-people-too thing has gone a little too far? I mean, the whole point of a vampire is that they survive by sucking your blood. I don't care if his skin glows and twinkles and he smells like kittens and fabric softener, he's still just a glorified syringe. Remember the last time you had blood drawn? Yeah, me too, and it sucked! It's time we put an end to this nonsense: Edward, may I treat you to a stake dinner?
Well, black is my color...

Monday, June 07, 2010

Launch of Falcon 9

So last Friday as I'm making my pheresis donation at the local Red Cross, I look up to the TV screen and see CNN covering live the first test launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. This is the first 3 1/2 minutes or so, including the separation of the the first stage rocket, of the feed shown live on TV. Having grown up watching the Gemini and Apollo shots, I felt like a boy again!

The privately built Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon capsule (which will be capable of carrying a manned crew) are replacing the Space Shuttle to re-supply the International Space Station.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Franklin Roosevelt's D-Day Prayer

Try to imagine the President of the United States going on the radio (TV, etc.) to do something like this today. D-Day, the Allied invasion at Normandy to begin the liberation of Europe from the Nazi's was 66 years ago today. And FDR spoke to the nation...

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas -- whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them--help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Interestingly, just now I'm listening to XM Radio's old time radio station, with Orson Welles' Mercury Theater broadcast for the day after D-Day. Agnes Morehead is narrating and, suddenly, what do I hear? An actor portraying FDR saying this prayer over the air!

Hat tip to TitusOneNine, where Canon Harmon posted this last week. This copy is the from Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oh, My! That's Me!

The return address is OSF Saint Francis Medical Center here in Peoria. Inside the envelope the sheet has the logo of the Relay for Life of the American Cancer Society. The heading reads, "There's No Such Thing As Too Many Candles...."
Your American Cancer Society and OSF St. Francis Medical Center have partnered to help create a world with more birthdays. As a cancer survivor, you are the reason so many are dedicated to fighting, so that one day we can live in a world where no one faces cancer.

Relay for Life is a unique community activity...
I glanced ahead as saw the words "Cancer Survivor Celebration." And then it sunk in. This is addressed to me. I'm a "cancer survivor."

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Another One of those Ironies

I first started noticing ironies in "liberal" thought back in my school days. One moment was an argument over evolution vs. creationism. The next came a discussion of endangered species. And as far as I could tell, the ones who had been dismissive of creation and insisting that evolution and "survival of the fittest" was irrefutable scientific fact -- were then calling for the halt of any progress because of some snail that wasn't fit enough to survive.

In other words: those insisting upon evolution as the Truth were then turning around to outlaw it.

Today's irony: Today is apparently the 50th Anniversary of The Pill. Happy Mother's Day!!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

More Kaisers and Frazers in East Peoria

More photos from the KFOCI Midwest Division Meet at the Stony Creek Inn in East Peoria. Here's what greeted me when I stopped by yesterday afternoon. Clicking on any of the photos will take you to a larger image.

This is a '47 Frazer, the first year for the Kaiser and Frazer automobiles. It was named after Joe Frazer, the long-time automobile man who partnered with industrialist Henry Kaiser to take on the Big Three (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) after the Second World War. The first Frazers were officially manufactured by the Graham-Paige Motors, a pre-war independent headed by Frazer that just barely survived the Depression. The first generation Kaisers were basically stripped Frazers.

Soon after production of the Kaiser and Frazer began, GP quickly sold out the car part of its business, went into real estate, and a decade later changed its name to the Madison Square Garden Corporation. This is a '49 Frazer, a very nice face-lift of the '47-'48 models. But by then the Big Three had post-war designs, meaning KF lost its uniqueness in the market. Soon Mr. Frazer was being eased out of the company by Kaiser people.

The '51 Frazers were the end of the line. Actually, they never would have been made -- Joe Frazer was out of the company by then -- except KF had manufactured way too many 1950 cars that didn't sell. This face-lift was to use up those extra cars, and it really looks nice.My grandfather owned a Frazer for a while, though that was before I was around. I'm not sure which of these three it would have been.

If I ever buy a Kaiser, it is more likely to be more like this '53 Manhattan. A very handsome car, not as rare as the '54-'55, and there seem to be decent ones close to my price range.

After domestic production ceased, Kaiser-Willys manufactured the Kaiser in Argentina from 1958-62 as the Kaiser Carabella. This 1960 model was used for engineering purposes as the Kaiser plant in Toledo, Ohio, which explains how it is one of only a dozen or so Carabellas in the US.

Henry J. Kaiser went into the auto business after World War Two with the goal of building a "peoples' car." The closest he came to that was the compact Henry J. This one actually looks pretty nice, but it was the wrong car at the wrong time for the wrong price. There are many reasons Kaiser-Frazer ultimately failed as a make, and the Henry J's draining of resources is near the top of the list.

The first part of selling a car is getting a buyer in the showroom. Nothing does that better that a sexy "sports car." Even today, folks head to the Chevy dealer to look at a Corvette. Very few will even consider actually buying one, but some will come home in a new Impala or a Cruze. The 2-seater Kaiser Darrin (designed by and named after Dutch Darrin, the chief designer of the full-sized Kaisers and Frazers) is a beautiful fibreglass body on a Henry J frame. The doors actually slide into the front fenders! 435 were built, and the KFOCI registry shows just over 400 of them still exist. Too bad it's not top-down weather.

Most folk my age or younger hear the make "Willys" and think "Jeep." But before WW2, Willys-Overland had been one of the major independent auto makes and they re-entered the market with a series of compact cars, hoping to capitalize on another niche along with Jeep. The "Aero Willys" was well-praised, but niche simply wasn't big enough -- perhaps if Willys could have sold it for $500 less. Kaiser purchased Willys in '53, but the car was probably already on its last legs. Jeeps were selling well; who needed this? This is a '55 Custom, the last year for the domestic Willys automobile. Her owner, Lew Retzer (one of The Sources if you want to know something about the post-war Willys) and I had a really nice conversation about this and other cars he's owned -- exactly the kind of thing old car club meets are for.

As I was walking to my car in the lot of the Stony Creek Inn, this '53 Manhattan was driving in. She sounded as smooth as she looks.

The '55 Kaiser: One Stunning Automobile

A grayish old car on a grayish central Illinois day? Yet even so, this '55 Kaiser Manhattan is simply stunning to view.

One look at these photos ought to be enough to explain my membership in the Kaiser Frazer Owners Club, whose Midwest Division Spring Meet is happening this weekend just across the river in East Peoria. (Go ahead, click on any of these photos for a bigger view.)

Wouldn't she look just fab in front of Zion's Parsonage? Okay, in my mind I see it on the driveway of the Canoga Park home I grew up in. Either way, though, one like this is likely well beyond Pastor Zip's reach. After all, only 226 of these four-door sedans were made for sale in the US, the Kaiser's last model year as a domestic auto make. Another 1000 or so were exported to Argentina.

But look at those wire wheels. (I was told the owner takes them off for the winter and stores them inside.) Or the "Safety-Glo" taillights -- which look even bolder in the view below. To my eye, at least, the only "dated" items on the Kaiser are the separate bumpers and the wide-white walls. Why under the hood is a supercharged six cylinder engine. Not bad for a 55-year-old car, eh?

There are many reasons why this was the end of the line for Kaiser, many examined in Richard M. Langworth's excellent (but out-of-print) book, The Last Onslaught on Detroit. But what an end result.