A myHT Fortress

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Make It So: The Next Generation Christmas Song

Imperial Greetings for Christmas!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Common Language: A Newsletter Article on Catechesis

A Common Language
Rev. Peter Bender, arguably one of our Synod’s foremost experts on the Small Catechism, is fond of saying that one of the functions of fixed terms, translations, and figures of speech in our regular liturgy and the Small Catechism is having “a common language” to understand the Lord and His Word, and the faith He gives.

Children learn language even before they can speak it.  They soak it up like sponges!  This happens even more so when certain phrases and responses are in patterns and can be anticipated.  The most basic example is a two-year-old picking up on responding to a prayer with a hearty “Amen.”
An Example
Of course, we have had challenges even in our hymnals.  In the 1970’s and 80’s, there was a movement to give fresh translations to even basic phrases.  The “salutation” and response that precede some prayers is a good example.  The Latin phrase spoken by the pastor was, “Dominus vobiscum.”  The congregation responds, “Et cum spiritu tuo.”  In German, the excellent translation is, “Der Herr sei mit euch.” “Und mit deinem Geist.”  For centuries, the English of this was the precise, “The Lord be with you.” “And with your spirit.”  Sadly, committees in the later 20th century felt the language of the response was outdated, and wanted to jump on the Vatican II band wagon.  They changed it to: “And also with you.”  Sure, that is the “gist” of it, but it is more paraphrase than translation. 

Ironically, while Lutheran Service Book was being compiled and edited, Rome returned to the translation, “And with your spirit,” while LSB kept a mixed bag of using one response in some services, and the other for the rest. The result is we have mixed, garbled responses even within the same congregation, since no one is sure from memory which way to respond.   People are confused.  The elderly who have learned one way are frustrated, while the very young are confused by multiple possibilities.

Luther said in his preface to the Small Catechism that pastors should choose a translation and stick with it, for multiple generations.  This serves the Church in caring for her people and serving them God’s Word with the repetition of it in preaching, teaching, and liturgy.  In 1986, a new translation of the Catechism was produced.  In a number of ways, it is not as strong as the 1943 translation that many of us grew up with.  Still, over 90% of our Synod uses the 1986 edition.  So for the sake of this common language, we use it, and simply incorporate some explaining into catechesis, to be sure our people understand it better.

Serving Your Neighbor
When I was in confirmation instruction, my home parish purchased the 1982 hymnal, Lutheran Worship.  LW had changed a great number of hymns to push for updated language, and in the process, often changed the entire poetry and rhyme scheme.  A few of us in the youth group took pride in singing the older Jacobean/Elizabethan English, while everyone else was singing the new words.  At the time, we felt we were being more authentically “Lutheran,” and took pride that we sang hymns the “right” way.

Looking back, I see that we were not serving our neighbors.  Even though it may have been more helpful to our understanding of those hymns, it was confusing (or at least distracting) to those in the pews around us.  Singing “you” rather than “Thee” in a particular hymn may feel right, but if it is delaying the pre-schooler from learning it by heart, or throwing off the grandmother whose sight is failing, is not helpful.  Rather, it is selfish.  I had been wrong.  And I repent.

Repetition is the Mother of Learning
The “new” translation of the Catechism is now 28 years old.  The “new” hymnal is now eight years old.  The “new” translation of Scriptures in our midst, the English Standard Version, is now 13 years old, and many pastors like myself have been preaching from it for at least 12 years now.  No translation is perfect.  Still, we have agreed to “walk together” as a Synod, and part of walking together is using that “common language.”  Use it.  Speak it.  Again and again.  The Holy Spirit uses this to nourish and sustain you, and builds you up with your neighbors to receive Christ’s forgiveness and life.  Treasure the tools the Lord has given for that common language: The Scriptures, Lutheran Service Book, and Luther’s Small Catechism.  Learn them by heart, according to your ability, and the Lord will use that as a blessing to you and your neighbors.  And when you fail, or when you have moments of speaking in other “dialects,” that are not helpful in walking together, remember your loving and forgiving Lord has rescued and redeemed you, His baptized child, washing that guilt away, that you ”may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.  This is most certainly true.”


What Does This Mean?
A Series of Articles on Luther’s Small Catechism
for this 485th Anniversary Year
by Rev. Richard A. Heinz

Monday, September 1, 2014

15 Movies That Have Stayed WIth You

Thank you, Rick Arndt, for nominating me to list 15 Movies That Have Stayed With You!  We are kindred spirits with the enjoyment of many of the movies you listed, and yet, I will go off on some different tangents.

I will nominate Matt Pahnke, Jacob Tomaw, Mark Zanders, Sr., and Ben Heinz.

Naming the best film ever, or even limiting the list, has always been difficult for me, as well.  I have so many, and for just as wide a variety of factors.  So here we go…

1. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.  What do you get when you bring George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford together in one film?  Absolute magnificence!  This thrilling adventure was amazing.  I still remember the moms of our 6th grade class dropping us off at the theatre that May, and a group of us feeling all grown up watching this action-packed classic unfold!

Other Action Films

2. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.  I actually love all six.  Yes, prequel haters can hate me, but I must confess I even enjoyed Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan more than Sir Alec Guiness.  But this is where it all began.  This is where modern cinema was revived, and science fiction grew up into a legitimate category of film.  From the very first moments of “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a great adventure took place” scrolling up the screen, this entire mythology was absorbed into my imagination!

3. Batman Begins (or again, the whole Christopher Nolan trilogy) is brilliant!  Christian Bale has become the consummate Batman.  Michael Caine simply IS Alfred.  The story swept us into a believably corrupt Gotham, with a hero who is greater than we deserved.

4. Inception.  Along with the Dark Knight films, this displays Nolan’s extreme talent in directing.  With each layer of dreaming, I felt sucked in more.  The intensity is amazing!  The effects marvelous.  The cast tremendous!  You will feel tired when the film is finished, since your heart has been pounding the entire time.  And yet, you cannot fall asleep.  Not because you are scared to do so, but because your mind is racing, trying to analyze what happened at what level of dream, and what *really* became of each member of the team.  Does the top keep spinning, or no?!

5. Pirates of the Caribbean.  This is a film that Kristi and I left the theatre saying, “We will own this one!”  Non-stop action.  Great comedic timing.  Fun storyline.  And a soundtrack that I could listen to for days!  Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the most amazingly “stick with you” characters ever developed, and he plays him magnificently!

Three honorable mentions need to be made here in the “Action” category.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  This film drew me into the Star Trek universe.  I became a fan of 2,3, and 4, and then The Next Generation even more so. 

Star Trek IV: Save the Whales.  Okay, that wasn’t its real name.  And it definitely is not one of the strongest of those films.  Yet the comedic one-liners have definitely “stuck with me.”  Spock’s use of “colorful metaphors” are full of laughs.  The old lady giddy in her wheel chair in the hospital, after Bones has helped her: “Doctor gave me a pill and I grew a new kidney!!!”  And Scotty, dealing with the primitive 1980’s computer, talking into the mouse: “Computer?  Hello, Computer!?”  “Just use the keyboard.”  “A keyboard! How quaint.”

Super 8.  Perhaps because the boys in this film are the age I would have been in that era.  This was a fabulous story of creativity and imagination, as well as helping something unknown, while pulling together to help your neighbors.


For those who are secure enough in their masculinity, guys can admit that they like some romantic comedies or dramas.

6. The Princess Bride.  Inconceivable? It’s the consummate quotable film.  Every quote you’ll ever need, packed into one movie.  It is an action film, as well.  Sword fights, magic, and love.  True love.

7. Sleepless in Seattle.  “You don’t want to be in love; you want to be in love in the movies.”  Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan tug at your own heart as you root for this pair who keep crossing paths without meeting, and yet you *know* they belong together.

8. The Notebook.  There.  I said it.  This is a touching film about love and devotion across the years.  Perhaps it is the Alzheimer’s in my own family that makes this strike a chord.  But it is well done, nevertheless.


I love comedies.  I enjoy them, laugh at them, and would watch them repeatedly.  But many don’t make their way onto such a list of greats.  Except…maybe... one.

9. Young Frankenstein.  Mel Brooks directs a hilarious, but irreverent reboot of the Frankenstein story.  Gene Wilder, Madeline Khan, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, and many others come together with splendid humor, lines, timing, and a classic black-and-white filming that lend to the power of this humorous tale.

I love classic films.  There are no two ways about it.

10. Aladdin.  Disney films have so many classics among them.  And I love so many of them!  I guess Aladdin appeals to me as one of the few Disney animated films with a male lead.  Being authentic to who you really are, and people loving the real person, not the phony fa├žade, is at the heart of this movie’s message.

11. Casablanca is one of the greatest ever!  Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman give splendid portrayals of this would-be couple in the Second World War.  The ensemble cast with Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre draw your eyes and ears to each line and minute detail.  True love and the sacrifices it makes, especially in wartime, are well played throughout.

12. Holiday Inn.  This is another “oldie but goodie.”  Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire pair up for one of the greatest song and dance films of the 1940’s.  A year full of “red letter” days is portrayed at the inn. Maybe this is even more special than some other Bing Crosby greats, since I stole my first kiss with Kristi during “Thanksgiving” the first time we watched it together. 

13. It’s a Wonderful Life.  I love Jimmy Stewart!  He is the most awesome “everyman.”  This tale of love and loss, dreams that are dashed, and finally realizing the amazing qualities of “ordinary” things in life, will touch you.

14. The Ten Commandments.  This great epic, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, is the greatest old-time biblical epic.  Charleton Heston will always be the image burned in my mind for Moses.  The cheesy lines and artistic liberties do add some caution in taking this as biblical history, and the special effects are SO dated, but it’s a beautifully portrayed film, and will always be dear to me.

15. I Confess.  This gem of film noir is one of the best kept secrets of Alfred Hitchcock’s career.  The tale is of a Roman Catholic priest in Quebec in the 1950’s.  By doing the right thing and keeping the seal of the confessional, he ends up being the chief suspect in a murder.  Will he die for another man’s sins, or not?  True to form, Hitchcock provides twists and turns to the very end!  I show this in every year’s catechism class, as we talk about individual confession!

There are so many others!  But since Rick’s challenge was to list 15, I will stop.

And they lived happily ever after….The End.