A myHT Fortress

Friday, November 28, 2008

Scoping out Scouts

Ben and his fellow Webelos Scouts will have a tough decision in the coming weeks: they need to choose which Boy Scout troop to join.

We have two troops that are both fairly close. The one in Lanesville is nice, but VERY small. You can probably count them on one hand. Also, they are all older and much higher in the scout ranks.

The other possibility is a troop in Georgetown. We also know boys there. They are a very LARGE troop, and VERY organized. They have boys across the whole range of ranks.

Neither choice will be a bad one. I guess it comes down to this: do our boys want to be "big fish in a small pond?" Or do they want the advantage of many others with experience and help? In either troop, they likely would be their own patrol, and still be close buddies.

Any boy could go anywhere. However, with this group, I think once one boy decides, the others will decide to stick together.

Only time will tell. We shall see in the coming weeks which troop is chosen.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Night

Here we sit on the sofa, very full and a little tired. But we are going through an annual tradition. We are searching our TiVo guide seeking for all things Walt Disney World and various Christmas specials to record.

We always have to search for programs that may not appeal to everyone. A number of Food Network and HGTV shows are always on our list. We have loved Laura Bush guiding a televised tour of the White House decked out for Christmas each year. We are looking forward to the Travel Channel's Samantha Brown in a special about the holidays at WDW.

A nice way to wrap up Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm Coming

“I’m coming,” says the mother to the crying toddler, waking from his nap. Mom’s voice brings great comfort with this promise.

“I’m coming,” says the husband, as his wife calls out the back door for his assistance. And in a moment, he joins her in providing whatever she needed.

“I’m coming,” says the college friend, who has been invited to the wedding. And when the bride sees so many loved ones in the church, she is overwhelmed with love and support from those dear to her.

“I’m coming,” says the grandmother to the parents, when her grandson is sick in the hospital. And her love, care, and extra set of hands provides encouragement and aid for all.

“I’m coming!” says the Advent King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And He who keeps His Word perfectly does just as He says. He comes!

Our Coming Savior has promised this coming in three ways, which we celebrate throughout this season of repentance and hope.

First, He came in the flesh, born as a Baby in Bethlehem. For a little over thirty years He walked this earth, preaching, teaching, healing, and forgiving. Throughout that ministry, He continually was coming to those around Him. As He died and rose, He did these great things, coming to us!

Even now, He comes! With every baptism, He comes! With every sermon preached, with every Word of God taught, He comes. With every absolution spoken by His ministers, He comes. With every celebration of His Holy Supper, He comes.

In the end, He will come again! As this past Church Year closed, and a new one begins, we rejoice that He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. Yes. He will come!

And what’s more, He comes for you! It’s not just some bit of history. He is doing this for you. His Word and deeds are spoken and done for you, that you may live with Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.

“I’m coming!” says Jesus. And we, members of His Bride, the Church, are excited beyond words. Dear friends in Christ, even as we live in repentant hope, rejoice in your coming King.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Know Thyself

A new blog has surfaced in Lutheran blogdom. A pastor who has been suffering from depression has started Know Thyself, and it looks fascinating.

Lots of us (Lutheran pastors) deal with the burdens of others as well as our own. Often, it can be overwhelming. This brother in the ministry is sharing his experiences in the hopes of helping others.

While this pastor is remaining anonymous, I can assure you of two things:
1. This is a real pastor.
2. This pastor is not me.

Check out Know Thyself, and pass it on to anyone you know who may be touched by depression.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church?

My friend, Pastor David Juhl, posted this video today. As he states, I would not condone the website or theology of the source, but this film gives us food for thought.

While I dislike the talk of "marketing" a church, there is something to be said for the welcoming attitudes and friendly atmosphere of some parishes, versus the cliques, silent glances, and awkward avoidances of visitors in others. When we know we have the theologically sound, Christ-centered, sacramental liturgy and preaching, how can we be content with many of our congregations' snobbish first impressions? The problem reaches across the country, and beyond. Yes, friends, we can be completely orthodox evangelical catholics -- i.e. solidly Lutheran -- and still be friendly, receiving new members into the fold.

Most pastors know this. It is a matter of lovingly and gently encouraging our parishes to hop on board! In the mean time, take a look at this parable.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

He CAN Camp!

Ben completed a significant task last night. So significant, in fact, that both Kristi and I are blogging about it. :-)

He and I went with his Webelos Den on an overnight camp out with Troop 525 from Lanesville. We simply went to Cedarbrook, the local rustic camp run by the Lutheran Laymen's League of the two Lousiville circuits. (Troop 525 is sponsored by our local LLL.)

Ben had gone to Webelos resident camp two summers ago. He was not ready for it, as far as maturity, and cried and threw up so as not to stay the night. So he and I had gone like day camp that week. Since then, he has avoided talk of camping.

One of the requirements for the Arrow of Light, however, is going camping with a Boy Scout troop. Well, last night we did. Our entire Webelos den went, and they all had a blast! Including Ben!!!

He and Cameron were in one tent, and I was right "next door." Around 1:30 a.m. or so, he crawled into my tent. But not one tear or upset tummy! And this morning he said he was ready to stay another night.

We were confident he would enjoy it if he gave it a fair chance. Now he realizes that too. Our boy is getting closer to being a Boy Scout.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Life Imitates Art: Art Imitates Life

Senator Padme Amidalla: [to Bail Organa]
"So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lord, Have Mercy!

Voting Near-Problem

Kristi and I waited until Ben was finished with school and D.I. (Destination: Imagination) to go vote, so that he could come and see voting in action. Polls had opened at 6 a.m., and this was around 4:30 p.m.

When we got there, only 25 paper ballots remained. The line at the time would have used half of those. We got to vote right away. I am not sure what happened to later voters.

Our ballots are paper, with arrows printed on them. The arrows are missing their middle sections, and you fill in the "shaft" of the arrow on your chosen candidate with a black marker.

Did more ballots arrive? I am unsure. Hopefully they came swiftly, so that anyone wishing to vote could.

Remembering Collective Shame

By Uwe Siemon-Netto

This column requires a caveat: I am not an American citizen and therefore neither a Republican nor a Democrat. But as a German residing permanently in the United States I believe that I have a duty to opine on at least one aspect of the upcoming elections – the question whether years from now Americans will have to wrestle with collective shame, just as I have had to deal with collective shame over what has happened in Germany in my childhood for my entire life.

It was West Germany’s first postwar president, Theodor Heuss, who coined the phrase, “collective shame” contrasting it with the notion of collective guilt, which he rejected. No, I cannot be expected to feel guilty for crimes the Nazis committed while I was still in elementary school. But as a bearer of a German passport I have never ceased feeling ashamed because three years before I was born German voters elected leaders planning the annihilation of millions of innocent people.

I am certain that in 1933 most Germans did not find the Nazis’ anti-Semitic rhetoric particularly attractive. What made them choose Hitler, then? It was the economy, stupid, and presumably injured national pride, and similar issues. This came to mind as I read the latest Faith in Life poll of issues Americans in general and white evangelicals in particular consider “very important” in this year’s elections.

Guess what? For both groups, the economy ranked first, while abortion was way down the list. Among Americans in general abortion took ninth and among white evangelicals seventh place, well below gas prices and health care. Now, it’s true that most evangelicals still believe that abortion should be illegal, which is where they differ from the general public and, astonishingly, from Roman Catholics even though their own church continues to fight valiantly against the ongoing mass destruction of unborn life. Still, 54 percent of Catholics and 60 percent of young Catholics have declared themselves “pro choice,” according to the Faith in Life researchers.

What I am going to say next is going to make me many enemies, of this I am sure: Yes, there is a parallel between what has happened in Germany in 1933 and what is happening in America now. The legalized murder of 40 million fetuses since Roe v. Wade in 1973 will one day cause collective shame of huge proportions. So what if this wasn’t a “holocaust?” This term should remain reserved for another horror in history. But a genocide has been happening in the last 35 years, even if no liberators have shocked the world with photographs they snapped of the victims as the Allies did in Germany in 1945. And it has the open support of politicians running for office next month.

If most Americans, and shockingly even a majority of Catholics, think physicians should have the “right” to suck babies’ brains out so that their skulls will collapse making it easy for these abortionists to drag their tiny bodies through the birth canal; if even most white evangelicals think that economic woes are a more important concern (78 percent) than legalized mass murder (57 percent), then surely a moral lobotomy has been performed on this society.

I agree it would be unscholarly to claim that what is happening in America and much of the Western world every day is “another holocaust.” No two historical events are exactly identical. So let’s leave the word “holocaust” where it belongs – next to Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Mauthausen. Still there are compelling parallels between today’s genocide and the Nazi crimes, for example:

1. Man presumes to decide which lives are worthy of living and which are not. “Lebensunwertes Leben” (life unworthy of living) was a Nazi “excuse” for killing mentally handicapped children and adults, a crime that preceded the holocaust committed against the Jews. Notice that today fetuses diagnosed with Downs Syndrome are often aborted as a matter of course in America and Europe.

2. In German-occupied territories, Jews and Gypsies were gassed for no other reason than that some people considered it inconvenient to have them around. Today, unborn children are often slaughtered because it is inconvenient for their mothers to bring their pregnancies to term.

3. Murder I is legally defined as killing another human being with malice and aforethought. The Nazis killed Jewish and Gypsies with deliberation – and maliciously. But what are we to think of babies being killed deliberately simply because they would be a nuisance if they were allowed to live? No malice here?

4. Ordinary Germans of the Nazi era were rightly chastised for not having come to their Jewish neighbors’ rescue when they were rounded up and sent to extermination camps. Ordinary Americans and Western Europeans might find the fad to kill babies disagreeable, but as we see from the Faith in Life poll, most have more pressing concerns.

Some future day Americans and Western Europeans will be asked why they allowed their children to be slaughtered. They would even have less of an excuse than Germans of my grandparents’ and parents’ generation. In Germany, you risked your life if you dared to come to the Jews’ rescue. In today’s democracies the worst that can happen to you is being ridiculed for being “a Christian.”

As a foreigner I have no right to tell Americans whom to elect on Nov. 4. Recently, though, a friend asked me: “If you worked in an office and a colleague asked you at the voter cooler, whom he should vote for what would you tell him?” Well, I would say: “I am not here to make up your mind for you. But personally I could never give my vote to so-called pro-choice candidates.”

This would doubtless lead to a heated postmodern dialogue. Perhaps the colleague is not a Christian; he might chastise me for mixing politics and religion. “If you as a Christian oppose abortion,” he could say, “then by all means don’t get involved in an abortion, just don’t impose your religious views on the rest of us.” How would I answer that? An evangelical might yank out his Bible and quote passages pertaining to this issue. But to a non-Christian the Bible is meaningless; I am not sure a political debate around the water cooler is a great venue to start individual evangelization.

My Lutheran approach would be different. I would argue natural law, the law God has written upon the hearts of all human beings, including non-believers. Unless they really have undergone a moral lobotomy they should be open to this story: Down in Wichita, Kansas, there is a physician by the name of George Tiller. On his website he boasts that he has already performed 60,000 abortions, mostly late-term, and week after week he is killing 100 more unborn babies.

Dr. Tiller does not think of these fetuses as clusters of cancerous cells. He knows they are human because he baptizes some of them before he incinerates them in his own crematorium. You don’t baptize non-humans. Dr. Tiller knows that. He is a practicing Lutheran. His former congregation, Holy Cross of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, excommunicated him as an unrepentant sinner. But the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, which belongs to the ELCA, communes him. Did I mention that he kills 100 human beings every week and has already done away with 60.000? Sixty thousand! In Nuremberg they hanged some fiends for murdering less than 60 -- zero point one percent of Tiller’s toll.

Perhaps this little tale will give even non-believers pause if they have not discarded their conscience, known to Christians as the law God has written upon every man’s heart. One day, of this I am certain, this will indeed result in collective shame – and God knows what other horrible consequences.

You may find this in its original location at Concordia Seminary: Institute on Lay Vocation.

Infanticide Supported in the US

Abortion is a gut-wrenching abomination to God. Infanticide is the next step, and it has begun its journey to acceptability. Senator Obama voted on a bill in the Illinois State Senate to not save the lives of infants born during failed abortions. In other words, if an abortion was attempted and the baby came out completely, this bill would deny life saving measures for the infant. A baby that could live, is thus sentenced to death.

The National Right to Life PAC has the following video on YouTube.

Obama’s first priority: abortion on demand

“The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”
– Senator Barack Obama, speaking to
the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007.

Thanks to Pastor Christopher Esget of Immanuel Lutheran Church & School, Alexandria, Virginia, for publishing this quote on his blog, Esgetology.

Can You Be Pro-Life and Vote for Obama?

The Rev. Christopher Esget of Immanuel Lutheran Church & School in Alexandria, VA wrote this yesterday. You can see it in its original context at Esgetology.

On this question, some have decided “yes.” I cannot disagree more. I do not endorse the Republican candidate; I honestly have not decided for whom I will vote tomorrow. But I know it will not, cannot, must not be for Sen. Obama, nor for any candidate for any federal or state legislative or executive office who supports abortion. I believe that makes one complicit in the act of murder.

A recent article by Randy Alcorn addressed this topic better than I have. Here are some excerpts:

So, is the candidate’s stand on the issue of shedding innocent blood important enough to disqualify him as a candidate? Yes. While a single issue can’t qualify a candidate, it can disqualify him. In my opinion, this issue clearly disqualifies Barack Obama, just as it disqualified Republican Rudy Giuliani.

I don’t think someone is a good candidate just because he is prolife. But he cannot be a good candidate unless he is prolife. Personally, if he is committed to legalized child-killing, as a matter of conscience I must vote against him….

If neither candidate were committed to the legalized killing of people, any people, then I would say, by all means weigh and measure those other important issues and make your choice. But can you seriously argue that these other issues trump the killing of millions of innocent children, not just now, but in the decades to come under a proabortion Supreme Court that could have been a prolife Supreme Court?

Don’t you believe that though there were other issues in Nazi Germany besides the killing of Jews, Gypsies and the disabled, that all those other issues were trumped by that one? If Lincoln’s platform involved ending slavery yet you agreed with Douglas (who wanted slavery to remain legal) in lots of other areas, would you feel right voting for Douglas, knowing you were voting for slavery?

So I say OF COURSE THERE ARE OTHER ISSUES. I don’t minimize them. All I can say is the differences between the candidates on those issues don’t stack up, even cumulatively, to the legalized killing of human beings. It’s a matter of relative importance, not just a number of issues. A man who is a good husband in most respects, but who beats his wife, is not a good husband. That issue outweighs all the others.

You can read the entire article here. I don’t agree with his perspective that there are only two candidates in this race. While there are two major parties, I think a person should be free and willing to vote his conscience, and not simply do what is “pragmatic.” There are no wasted votes. But there are immoral ones.