Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Twenty Thousand Days

"It's a boy," said Dr. Carty that Tuesday at 5:39 pm (Pacific Time). The date: March 17, 1959.

The boy weighed in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce, and was 20 inches long. He would be named Steven Paul. That's 20,000 days ago.

This isn't my first picture, but it's the oldest one I have. That's Mom holding me up in the Living Room of our Canoga Park home.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just Because

I only saw the following commercial once on TV. Nevertheless, it left a very positive impression. I never forgot it or, more importantly, the product it advertised. It made me desire that product even more. Actually, having found this commercial on YouTube, it still gets me desiring the product. Which makes it, in my book at least, one of the greats.

The thing is, I've almost always preferred the Mustang, or a Barracuda, to the Camaro. But right now, I want that car!

Friday, September 13, 2013

21 Years!!

Twenty-one years ago today, I was ordained into the Holy Ministry by Bishop J. Roger Anderson of the Southern California (West) Synod, ELCA. What follows is a slightly edited re-post of an entry I first posted five years ago, and have re-posted three and two years ago.
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!
I pray this, Luther's Sacristy Prayer, every Sunday as I vest for the Eucharist. I'll sometimes think then that it would be good to post it here again, and it is particularly fitting to do so today [thank you, Father Will, for the idea], for it was 21 years ago today that the Rt. Rev. J. Roger Anderson, first Bishop of the Southern California (West) Synod [now called the "Southwest California Synod"], of the 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 (of blessed memory; 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 whose father was the last President of the Augustana Lutheran Church) 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. And 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 a glorious day it was 21 years ago. And in all I've done since, I've still not ruined it all. At least, not yet. ;)

What a gracious Lord God we have!

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Golden State: 163 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?

Sure, it's really a repeat from 3 years ago, but I like it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ELCA News Service: Elizabeth Eaton elected ELCA presiding bishop

August 14, 2013

Elizabeth Eaton elected ELCA presiding bishop


     PITTSBURGH (ELCA) - The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Northeastern Ohio Synod, was elected Aug. 14 presiding bishop of the ELCA at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. She was elected on the fifth ballot. There were 889 votes cast, and 445 votes were needed for an election. Eaton received 600 votes and the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, received 287. Eaton is the ELCA's first woman presiding bishop-elect.

      The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 12-17 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The theme for the triennial assembly is “Always being made new.” This year marks the 25th anniversary of this church.

     “We are a church that is overwhelmingly European in a culture that is increasingly pluralistic. We need to welcome the gifts of those who come from different places, that is a conversation we need to have as a church,” Eaton told the assembly shortly after the election.

     Prior to becoming synod bishop, Eaton served as pastor for ELCA congregations in Ohio. She earned a Master’s of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and a Bachelor’s degree in music education from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.

     An assembly schedule is available at and up-to-the minute news entries at

- - -
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Manager of Public Relations
773-380-2956 or
Living Lutheran:

ELCA Elects New Presiding Bishop

From the @ELCA twitter feed:
On the fifth ballot for the office of presiding bishop 889 votes were cast. Eaton 600 and Hanson 287. Rev. Eaton is elected.

Fourth Ballot

Total Votes: 907
Needed to Elect: 545 (60%)

Elizabeth Eaton 523
Mark Hanson 300
Jessica Crist 84

The fifth ballot will be later in the current plenary session.

I Am Stunned!

The third ballot results from this morning, after the top nominees offered brief, 5-minute statements to the Assembly:

Total ballots: 919
Necessary for election (2/3): 613

* Eaton 345
* Hanson 271
* Crist 171

* Svennungsen 130
* Marty 1
* Lundblad 0
* Lose 0

The Bishops Hanson and Crist both declined about 100 votes each. Bishop Eaton increased by 258. It seems Bishop Eaton, in her 5 minute address, spoke of the costs of the decisions this church has made in the past. She supports them, but acknowledged the grief of those of us who do not.

This afternoon's plenary, going on right now, is a Q&A with the top three, and then a fourth ballot. 60% is needed to elect. Well,

Electing a Presiding Bishop

The first/nominating ballot was Monday, with the results (officially announced at the beginning of the Tuesday morning session) getting out that evening:

* Mark Hanson 440 (ELCA Presiding Bishop)
* Jessica Crist 53 (Bishop, Montana)
* Michael Rinehart 36 (Bishop, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast)
* Jon Anderson 26 (Bishop, Southwestern Minn.)
* Elizabeth Eaton 23 (Bishop, Northeastern Ohio)

* Rafael Malpica-Padilla 20 (Exec. Dir, ELCA Global Mission; former Bishop, Caribbean)
* Stephen Bouman 19 (Exec. Dir, ELCA Congreagation and Synodical Mission; former Bishop, Metro New York)
* Peter Marty 16 (Pastor, St. Paul, Davenport, Iowa; last host of the ELCA's Lutheran Vespers radio program)
* David Zellmer 15 (Bishop, South Dakota)
* Kurt Kusserow 12 (Bishop, Southwestern Penn.)

* April Larson 12 (Pastor, First, Duluth, Minn.; former Bishop, La Crosse Area, and the first woman bishop in the ELCA)
* Wayne Miller 11 (Bishop, Metro. Chicago))
* Ann Svennungsen 10 (Bishop, Minneapolis Area)
* Michael Burk 9 (Bishop, Southeastern Iowa)
* Peter Rogness 7 (Bishop, Saint Paul Area)

and 107 other pastors with fewer votes. Other than the number of ballots cast being 877, making the required 75% for an election add up to 666 votes, there was nothing remarkable. The main observations seemed to be, Bishop Hanson will be elected on the next ballot, Bishop Crist (who is also Chair of the Conference of Bishops) and Bishop Rinehart (who overnight posted a blog entry explaining why he would withdraw his name from further consideration) seemed to be highly regard as possible successors when Hanson retires. But, no, the important election news would come later this week as a new Secretary (a very powerful office in the ELCA) is elected.

So the second ballot results that came before the Tuesday afternoon session were a bit of a surprise. Of the 943 votes cast (75% to elect being 708), the top 7 vote getters:

* Mark Hanson 369
* Jessica Crist 272
* Elizabeth Eaton 87
* Peter Marty 45
* Ann Svennengsen 36
* David Lose 33 (Homilectics Prof at Luther Seminary)
* Barbara Lundblad 15 (Professor at Union Theological Seminary, New York).

42 other pastors also received votes. But note that Presiding Bishop Hanson's votes went down by 71. And Bishop Crist's went up by 219.

And apparently the Holy Spirit (and others) had been busy Monday night. They would be busy Tuesday night, too, as these top 7 prepare brief bios and statements for the Wednesday morning plenary -- well, four of them, as Pastor Marty and Profs. Lose and Lundblad are not at the CWA and sent word that they would not be there come Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly

The ELCA's Churchwide Assembly (CWA) is in session this week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One can follow the proceedings live as they happen from the ELCA's website. That particular link will likely expire shortly after the the CWA's adjournment, but will get you not only to the current assembly, but to the whatever is kept on the ELCA's permanent web archive of past CWAs, too.

There are other ways to keep up with what is happening, too. Pr. Dick Johnson, editor of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau's monthly Forum Letter, is doing up-to-date reports on ALPB Forum Online; just click the "ELCA Churchwide Assembly 2013" section. As at earlier CWAs, he also offers some commentary and behind the scenes reporting; and other members of the pan-Lutheran online forum comments, too.

In addition, this is the first CWA in which, rather than printing everything on paper, most everything is being done electronically, with Voting Members being provided iPads (or using their own tablet device) for just about everything. Most of the material is available to anyone through the apps at the 2013 Assembly Guidebook web page, or this page for any web browser, which include the ELCA's own news blog.

An ELCA Churchwide Assembly receives reports of what is happening within the church, elects people to various offices, sets the budgets for the upcoming years, and acts on various subjects and matters that are part of this church's life. Among the "significant" matters for this one is a proposed Social Statement on Criminal Justice, "The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries," the ELCA's 25th Anniversary, and the elections of a Presiding Bishop and Secretary.

At the moment, it is the Presiding Bishop's election that most observers are focussing on, and it is initially a bit more interesting than most anticipated. The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Hanson was first elected in 2001 (ELCA Bishops have 6-year terms), has led during a time of great controversy, and had announced earlier that he was available for election to a third term. At the Churchwide level, there is no "campaigning" ahead of time at least officially ;). Rather, for the first ballot serves as a nominating ballot, with every ELCA pastor eligible for election.

An election can happen on that first ballot if a pastor receives 75% of the votes, which is what happened in 2007, when Bishop Hanson was re-elected. Every pastor's name written on that first ballot appears on the second ballot, unless the pastor deliberately withdraws, again with 75% needed to elect. A third ballot would be limited to the top 7 vote getters, election happening with 2/3rds of the votes. Fourth ballot has 3 pastors, 60% required for election; fifth ballot is the top 2, majority vote elects.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

RIP: Eydie Gorme

One of the grand entertainers, Eydie Gorme, died yesterday just a few days shy of her 85th birthday. See the Hollywood Reporter's obituary here.

Thanks to "Website Story by Eydie G." at

She has another appearance on Pastor Zip's Blog, featured with her husband, Steve Lawrence, in a classic television commercial for American Express. As we see, their performances live on.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Does One Laugh or Cry?

It's Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.

Tip o' the hat to "Ed" on Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor Mail.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

A Reminder: The Bill of Rights

Apparently some believe The Bill of Rights is a museum piece, something from our history to be looked at and admired, but not to impact how the nation is run when it seems inconvenient. This attitude, of course, is not unique to Democrats or Republicans, to liberals or conservatives. Frankly, it has long seemed to held by whomever is in power, especially the Executive Branch.

Note especially the second paragraph (from the Preamble), which says why we have the Bill of Rights in the first place.

Courtesy the National Archives' wonderful exhibit,
The Charters of Freedom:

Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Friday, June 07, 2013

The ELCA's Newest Bishop-Elect

"The Reverend R. Guy Erwin, a member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, is the first American Indian bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America." Yes, I had to do some hunting to find this as the lede for a report of the Bishop-elect for my home synod, but I did find it -- at That's because everyone else is focussing on him being the first openly gay pastor to be elected Bishop of an ELCA Synod.

It happened last weekend as the Southwest California Synod met in Assembly in Woodland Hills, California. One can see the towers of the Marriott Hotel where the election happened from the front porch of my parents' home. As if that weren't personal enough, Dr. Erwin, the Gerhard & Olga Belgum Professor of Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University, is the Interim Pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Canoga Park. He's my mother's pastor. She speaks very well of him.

But there is more to the story. Prof. Erwin's ordination was the subject of an article in The Lutheran magazine's July 2011 issue entitled "R. Guy & Keith Fry ...." Subtitled "Ordination stories move church forward," the article began,
R. Guy Erwin's ordination on May 11 proved quintessentially Lutheran: Two ELCA bishops and a former bishop played key roles; the service doubled as a "teaching" moment for California Lutheran University students, and the 75-member university choir led the 450-strong congregation in singing the final hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

The symbolism rang poignantly true since Erwin, 53, serves as the Gerhard and Olga J. Belgum Chair in Lutheran Confessional Theology at CLU in Thousand Oaks; taught Lutheran studies and church history at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn., for several years; and studied in Germany for his doctoral thesis on Martin Luther's era.
You can read more of that article here, but the full article is behind a pay firewall. Yes, I had some thoughts on this when I read it, which I put into a Letter to the Editor -- which did not get published.
Editor, The Lutheran magazine:

The article "R. Guy & Keith Fry... Ordination stories move church forward" (July, pages 32-33) exemplifies much more than simply "how openly gay leaders are finding their full expression as rostered ELCA pastors." While the 2009 Churchwide Assembly committed the ELCA to "finding a way" for those in committed same-sex relationships to serve as rostered leaders, that same Assembly resolved only a few moments later, "to recognize the conviction of members who believe that this church should not call or roster" such persons. As I read these enthusiastic reports of partnered gays and lesbians being received or ordained into the ELCA, I find myself wondering if we are already at the stage of needing to "find a way" to include those of us ELCA clergy who remain convinced this church has made a grave error.

Furthermore, R. Guy Erwin's ordination exemplifies even greater change in the ELCA's standards for ordination. For years some of us have argued that the ELCA needs to be more flexible about the lengthy and expensive requirements for ordination to enable congregations that cannot support full-time compensation to nonetheless be served by called pastors, only to be met with either silence or great resistance from ELCA authorities. Now we read of a college professor flying through the candidacy process in 9 months and being ordained to serve a "specialized call" that doesn't appear to be anything different from his prior vocation -- two things that have been virtually impossible. How is it that these sorts of changes in ELCA ordination practice suddenly become accomplished, without discussion or even prior announcement, when the candidates are in committed same-sex partnerships?


The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
Peoria, Illinois
Two years later, nothing has happened in the ELCA to make me feel any better about progress on answers to my questions. But I don't want to make this post sound like sour grapes, so for the moment at least, I'll just let my comments of two years ago stand. Because what the election of Pastor Erwin is show me just how much my thoughts of four years ago have settled in my spirit. The heart of my letter to the congregation I serve from the 2009 Churchwide Assembly remains true, except that it is not the open wound of August 2009. I quote two paragraphs in full:
By these actions, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's teaching and practice on marriage, family, and sexuality has not only departed from the faith and teaching of the Holy Scriptures and nearly 2000 years of Christian teaching, it is proclaiming what the Apostle Paul calls "another gospel."

One of the things that I was taught from a young age and have grown to experience more and more over the years is that a Lutheran pastor relates to the denomination differently than the laity and congregations. When I was ordained, the ELCA became my church. On Friday afternoon, I lost my church.
Since 2009, the church I serve has still not bothered to offer justification for what its leadership is implementing full steam ahead. As I wrote elsewhere, "but I'm discovering that I did my mourning for the ELCA as a church in 2009-10. I'm sad, but in the same way I was sad when my Grandmother, who had slipped into dementia years earlier and would not have known who I was, died. Memories for what was, and now the lingering is over."

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Old and the New

Early this afternoon I signed on to one of my banking accounts, where I was immediately instructed to change my password. The latest update of this particular institution's web site requires that one change the password every 6 months, and old ones cannot be reused. In a couple of years, I will run out of memorable passwords

On one of the Facebook groups I'm in, someone asked about locating a copy of Setting III of the Holy Communion liturgy from the Service Book and Hymnal, the worship book used by most North American Lutherans in the '60s and '70s. The preface to the hymnal mentions it, but it was not included in the published hymnal for space reasons.

The ensuing discussion got me doing a web search and suddenly I found myself reading a post on the Delphi Forums. I didn't think much of that initially until I realized the post was less that a year old. On Delphi? That had been one of the earliest computer bulletin boards systems long before "the internet." While I didn't go actually go online until 1992, the BBS world had been in the background of some of my reading interests for more than a decade earlier, beginning while I was in university.

My own first account was on CompuServe, but among science fiction writers and readers Delphi was among the more frequently used modes for this new form of communication. But with funds limited, it was for me not one of the best options to supplement CI$ and LutherLink in those MS-DOS/early Windows days. I kept bouncing my third account around, trying AOL, GEnie, Prodigy, and others. Then the online services started opening to the Internet and the early World Wide Web, changing the economics of the field. Prices dropped, the various services were bought and sold and/or consolidated or fell by the wayside as AOL developed a market hegemony by offering a service that, while certainly not the "best," was easy enough to use.

Meanwhile, back to post I was reading -- one I had initially gone to because the websearch had indicated its author was a Lutheran pastor I'd known from LutherLink. I clicked his member ID and, along with his profile, was an invitation to log in. And it struck me that I had indeed signed up on Delphi when it became a free service. I wonder....

"Enter your Membername or E-Mail Address." Hmm. That would have been a lonnnng time ago. I tried my old CI$ address and a likely password. No luck. But there's always that sign-in page link to "request a new password." So I tried my original numeric address (which I still remember by heart) -- "does not exist" -- then my "name" address. That was half-successful, for the address was valid and Delphi reported sending a request. Of course, CompuServe doesn't exist any more. Hmmm.

I wonder what will happen if I try that address with the likely password? And there I was. On my Delphi profile. One that I had opened in 1998. That was connected to a forum for alumni of my high school. The most recent post there was dated 6/25/2009. Better, the Delphi Forums profile page lists "recently visted forums." And when I last visted them. October 10, 2003.

Yes, I've updated my Delphi Forums profile. :-)

Saturday, May 04, 2013

5 Years Later: PSA Zero

It has now been five years since my surgery for prostate cancer. At my latest check-up, my PSA (that stands for "prostate-specific antigen," and not "public service announcement;" or the Cursillo's "piety, study, action;" or our still-missed Pacific Southwest Airlines) level was still an undedectable less than .1. So, no change since my last report a year ago. And once again (and, I pray, the rest of my life), my urologist say, "See you in a year!"

Praise the Lord!

A Lockheed L-1011 TriStar in smiling PSA livery,
from when flying was fun.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oh, the Agony! Oh, the Memories!

Oh, my, that was ugly. My Los Angeles Angels are playing the A's in Oakland. I turned on the A's broadcast last night, thanks to XM Radio, when I went to bed. It was 6-2 in the 6th inning, and Albert Pujol's second homer in the 7th made it 7-2. Then suddenly, the A's scored 4 in the 8th, and tied it up in the 9th. Extra innings.

I fell asleep with the radio still on, woke up, and the game was still going. Repeat a couple more times One of the of the things being in the Midwest for a West Coast game is that as the hour gets later in California, it is 2 hours later in Peoria. It was now past midnight on the West Coast.

And as the poor A's announcers, Ken Korach and Ray Fosse, tried to think of what to say about a game that wasn't ending, where the teams were running out of players, where the Angels scored in the 15th, only to have the A's tie it up again -- at the top of my mind was another Angels-A's game in Oakland.

I was 12. Angel road games in Oakland (and Minnesota) were always televised in those days, and 1971 was to be our year for an American League Western Divison pennant. But the season was going down the drain fast. In those days I would usually sit in front of the TV keeping score, but for some reason I didn't have a score card that night. Good thing, as that game went past 1 am, too, long after I'd gone to bed fallen asleep with my transistor radio plugged into my ear.

In the morning I awoke. 20 innings! 1-0. Tony Congliaro, who had gone 0-8, retired before the Sun had risen. It was a game that reflected the frustrations of the 1971 season, one filled with hope at the beginning -- when this Angels fan had committed to listening closely to each and every game. It was, as Angels history tells, a season of one weird disaster after another, beginning several years of futility. It would be 1978 before we had a winning record.

I was actually half awake at 3:30 this morning (Central Daylight Time) when, in the bottom of the 19th, A's 1st baseman Brandon Moss hit his second home run of the game. Angels lose. 10-8. 6 hours, 32 minutes -- the longest game (by time) in A's history. Portents of things to come? The Angels are supposed to be contending for an AL pennant, but our 9-16 record after 25 games is tied for the worst in team history. Angels' center fielder Peter Bourjos pulled a hamstring and is on the disabled list.

I hope I don't remember this game as well 42 years from now.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why "Francis"

Pope Francis tells the press how he chose his regnal name:

Meanwhile, the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, Professor of Religion and History at California Lutheran University (and Interim Pastor at my home congregation) offers "this op-ed in Friday's Ventura County Star with an historian's perspective on the significance of a Pope named "Francis."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pope Francis

"That's the first Pope Francis," was my immediate reaction upon hearing the surprising news of a papal election this afternoon (Central Time). "This is a very significant name," I thought. Francis of Assisi is perhaps the most popular of the non-Apostolic saints, and his initial call was to "rebuild the church."

As a native Californian, whose first non-Indian settlers were Franciscans, and having worked for the Franciscans throughout my seminary years, it warms my heart to see "Francis" finally attached to the Papacy. I won't pretend to know why Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio chose this name, but clearly he is not afraid of something "new." Neither is the College of Cardinals, who have elected not simply a non-European or not simply a Latin American, but the first Pope from the New World.

And the first Jesuit — making "Francis" an even-more interesting name to me. In time we will find out what the new Pope intends by choosing this name. Regardless, following the papacies John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI, he has some significant shoes to fill.

Until then, here is an English translation of his first words to the Church assembled at St. Peter's Square, courtesy the Vatican news:
Brothers and sisters good evening.

You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.

First of all I would like to say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord will bless him and that our Lady will protect him.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit
of you womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and the people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing. But first I want to ask you a favour. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.

[The Protodeacon announced that all those who received the blessing, either in person or by radio, television or by the new means of communication receive the plenary indulgence in the form established by the Church. He prayed that Almighty God protect and guard the Pope so that he may lead the Church for many years to come, and that he would grant peace to the Church throughout the world.]

[Immediately afterwards Pope Francis gave his first blessing Urbi et Orbi — To the City and to the World.]

May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in whose power and authority we have confidence, intercede on our behalf to the Lord.
Response: Amen.

Through the prayers and merits of the Blessed Mary ever-virgin, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of Blessed John the Baptist, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, may Almighty God have mercy on you, and with your sins forgiven, may Jesus Christ lead you into everlasting life.
Response: Amen.

May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant you indulgence, absolution, and remission of all your sins, time for a true and fruitful penance, an always repentant heart and amendment of life, the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and final perseverance in good works.
Response: Amen.

And may the blessing of Almighty God, + the Father, + the Son, and + the Holy Spirit, descend on you and remain with you always.
Response: Amen.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.

Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon... We will see one another soon.

Tomorrow I want to go to pray to the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.

Good night and sleep well!

By the way, he is not "Pope Francis the First." He will not be called that until, and unless, there is a second Pope Francis. May that be many years from now.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gorgeous, Simply Gorgeous

Listen to this version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that aired over WWCT as I was driving home from this evening's Lenten service.

As a song writer, Harrison could be pretty uneven. But when he was good, he was very, very good -- and this song is among his best. This version, which I'd never heard before tonight, is a George Martin remix of George's original demo for The White Album with strings added for the 2006 CD, Love. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

What I Am Learning on Retreat

Apologies to Waylon and Jessi....

Monday, February 18, 2013

A President Leads the Nation in Prayer

This afternoon, being the third Monday of the month, I presided at the weekly chapel service at Liberty Village, one of the senior communities in Peoria. I've been doing this for 11 years now, ever since a Zionite (and neighbor) moved there not long after it opened and thought her pastor ought to be involved.

When I arrived, a couple of the people there observed that they weren't sure if I would be there, since it was a holiday. I actually had to think for a second. Holiday? Oh yeah, President's Day. In responding I mentioned that I was old enough to remember when the holiday was Washington's Birthday, and fell on February 22. I'm still not used to "President's Day."

Afterwards while having a bite to eat, I took a look a TitusOneNine where I was not surprised that Canon Harmon had a couple of special entries for this national holiday. The second entry, though, stunned me. It probably shouldn't have been, since I am old enough, and historian enough, to recall that once upon a time we Americans had different expectations of the political order than we do now. Nevertheless...

Here it is in its entirety:

For Presidents Day 2013 (II)—Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer, June 6, 1944

“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 goodwill 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 arrogances. 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.


You can listen to the actual audio if you want here.

Imagine that, the President of the United States leading the nation in prayer. Imagine a President even thinking of doing that in 2013.

Hat tip Canon Kendall Harmon @ TitusOneNine.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to Stop Mass Shootings?

Report on the heroes, not the villains. Something to think about.

Hat tip to the Facebook page of Afghan War reporter Michael Yon.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Customer Service?

Honest! I have a "confirmation e-mail" posted Dec. 24 at 12:21 pm:
Stop Date: December 27, 2012
Restart Date: January 5, 2013
Reason: Temp Stop - On Vac Pak
Action: Hold my papers
So, what is the first thing I find when stepping into the breezeway between the Parsonage and the Parish Hall on January 4 after a 9+ days away? Yup, individual copies of the Peoria Journal Star for every single one of those dates.

I wonder if they'll deliver my "Vac Pak" tomorrow?

Happy New Year!!