Canines: Still Man’s Best Friend? Jury is Out

A disturbing story of attempted homicide:

Dog Shoots Man on Hunting Trip
It seems our “best friends” are getting a little uppity these days. Frankly, after I praised my dog Heidi quite publicly here just last week, I am disturbed that some dog would choose to attack its owner. Have they no shame?

Yet, there is also good news. Apparently this dog did not get the memo about turning on your master.

Are dogs turning evil? Only time will tell.

Luther Replaced By Robot

A Robot is discovered writing a copy of the Luther Bible. You’ll notice from the picture that he has only one arm–thankfully!–thus cannot also saw you in two, crush you with his pincers or stun you with a death ray. But it seems slightly nefarious that this robot is writing a Bible. Is it really a Luther Bible, or maybe a Luthor Bible?

If you read it, beware robotic subliminal messages!

HT: Preacherboy

Going to Heaven

“Will there be x in heaven?”

“Will Uncle Bill be golfing (or bowling, or watching football) in heaven?”

“Will Aunt Verna be playing bridge all day in heaven?”

If Christians don’t ask these questions it’s often the case that they believe them in the affirmative. Sometimes they cross into blasphemy, imaging that old Yvonne will be gossiping about her neighbors in heaven, or Cousin Ralph will be cursing the mosquitoes and lack of DEET.

People ask those questions because they know that Bill and Verna are not gone, that their awareness is not destroyed. They ask and wonder these things because they believe people continue to experience phenomena but cannot imagine what the phenomena are. Who could possibly imagine what the afterlife is like? St. Paul saw the the “third heaven,” and said this about it (speaking in the third person), “he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12:4 NKJV).

But Scripture speaks little about Paradise, as it terms it, preferring to speak of the Day of the Lord, the Great Day, the ambiguous “in that Day” when there will be no tears, when the deserts will be transformed, when all nations will stream to Jerusalem, when there will be no Sun nor Moon, when all thirst will be quenched and all diseases healed. These prophesies and promises do not describe a bodiless, spiritual existence, but the bodied life of the resurrection. Scripture almost always speaks of the resurrection of the dead and the “world to come” when it speaks of our salvation. It is therefore appropriate to call our future life in the resurrection “heaven,” if it is shorthand for “Kingdom of Heaven” which implies resurrection. But it is unchristian to suppose our afterlife is an eternal separation from our bodies. That is what Plato believed, not St. Paul.

However, we must be careful about how we imagine the resurrection life to be. I cannot imagine bridge in Paradise. How could you hold the cards? Your hands are resting in the grave, after all. But in the resurrection we will have our hands and feet and they will be beautiful and perfect, glorified in an inexpressible way.

But will such things as bridge and golf be that important? How could we drag ourselves away from the presence of the Most High God, from Love Itself, Himself, to whack a ball around? I’m not suggesting that we will stand in one place worshiping eternally; I do believe that there will be Things To Do, the most important things for which we were created. St. Paul casually mentions, “Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Cor. 6:3 NKJV). This is a mystery, but a mystery which suggests activity alongside the eternal praise and worship of the Uncreated Trinity. Asking whether that activity involves sports or cards (or sex) is akin to asking if sex involves watching football or eating steak.

Luther and Missions

I find it very sad how some Lutherans seem to wring their hands over Martin Luther’s paucity of mission-talk. Some are embarrassed at how little the Reformer spoke of “witnessing” or “evangelizing” others. The Lutheran Witness has an apologetic article this month entitled “Reaching Out: Luther on Mission,” which must say half a dozen times that there were “few opportunities” in Luther’s day, and his world was “not conducive to promoting individual participation.” In my seminary-mandated mission class at Concordia, St. Louis, a few of the “mission-minded” students were literally wringing their hands at the scarcity of historical mission models, discussion, and theology that Lutherans produced. And the instructor wrung his hands too!

They ask why and apologize and make excuses for Luther not being like the LCMS today. Some of this is understandable. People and culture and society have changed, does change, through the ages, and it is ultimate presumption (and logically fallacious) to assume that what we think and value is what all people have thought and valued. The problem, is that they ask why he’s not like us instead of the obvious and reasonable: why are we different? Where have we changed? Is this a good thing, a bad thing, or an indifferent thing?

Weedon provided this quotation from H. Sasse several days ago:

Despite its decided rejection of false teachings which prevail in other churches, our church has never denied the presence of the church of Christ in the established churches of England and Scotland, in Holland and Switzerland, in Spain and Italy, in Greece and Russia. It has not tried, therefore, to conduct missions for the Lutheran confessional church in these countries, just as it has avoided the “evanglicalization” of Catholic territories in Germany. Let all those who accuse Lutheranism of intolerant confessionalism reflect on the fact that the Lutheran Church is one of the very few churches in Christendom which has never, under any circumstances, engaged in propaganda for itself or conducted missions among Christians of other persuasions. (Here We Stand, pp. 182, 183)

Did Sasse get his facts wrong? I doubt it. One can argue with his praise of this or not, but it’s much harder to criticize an historian for getting facts wrong.

Perhaps instead of wringing our hands over Luther’s “missional” insensitivities we should rather be asking ourselves what has changed within our understanding of Lutheranism? Is it possible even to go back? Is there something within Lutheranism as a movement that leads in this direction of not only growing farther from the early Reformers but from the Fathers and the ancient practice of Christianity as well?

Dumbledore: No Comment

I started to write a brief essay on J.K. Rowling’s revelation on the sexual feelings of one of the characters in Harry Potter, from a Philosophy of Fiction angle (yes, there is one). But after several hundred words I realized, who cares? Probably not readers here.

So let us ignore the author’s attempts to say more than she said. Let us ignore her mucking around these books that have been written. Let her and George Lucas re-write their great works and confuse what was once clear. Let her opine about the characters she created and drum up controversy. But do let the works stand as written. If she feels she didn’t say all that needed to be said, she’s either a poor writer or wanting more cash, because clearly the story is over.

Tagged for Seven Things

My good friend Fr. John Fenton has tagged me for “Seven True Things.” The spirit is to blog something revealing of my life, I suppose.

1. I’ve moved my belongings 14 times. A few of those were partial moves, to the Seminary and back, once to Germany and back, but each one meant packing all or as much as possible.

2. My first dog was a German Shepherd/Collie mix named Heidi. She was my first best friend, and I still get sad thinking about her death. She was a pup when I first started walking, and once saved my life (or at least from great pain). I was toddling around and walked out into the pasture where the chickens were. Mom and sister were watching me, but I was too far away when the rooster started coming for me. Think about it: a 30 pound one-year-old and a big mean rooster which pecks with 15 lbs of force (according to Wikipedia) and sharp talons. From out of nowhere, Heidi the puppy came running, out pacing my sister and mom and went after the rooster. Mom scooped me up and the rooster was in pieces in the freezer within days. We never ate him. Heidi earned her keep many more times over the next 12 years, and no dog has measured up since her (sorry Bandit).

3. When I think of “home,” it is the rolling hills, fields, and hardwood forests of Western Missouri
that I imagine.

4. One of my earliest memories of Church is singing the Te Deum at Matins.

5. I used to be a worry-wart. I suppose I still worry deep down in my soul, but about fewer things.

6. My grandfather’s uncle lived next door to the James Family farm in Kearney, MO. This was after Jesse died, but Frank and the Old Woman still lived in the house (the one the FBI bombed). He lived at the top of the hill, they at the bottom, and knew all along they were “trashy” people, according to my grandfather. The James’ once moved the fence between their properties, apparently in the middle of the night, and the sheriff had to come out and tell them to move it back. The Old Woman moved into town once the house was bombed and a few years after she died, my grandmother was born in the same house (I suppose this one is not about me, per se, but it’s a good story.)

7. I don’t watch sports. I enjoy Baseball and Football, even Basketball and Soccer if I watch them, but only do it if it’s my kid playing, or it’s a Bears game and my wife and I have paid attention long enough to notice it’s on. I cannot understand why people memorize statistics and rosters. I can’t name but a handful of NFL players, perhaps one or two NCAA Football players, and perhaps a dozen Baseball players. I was born without the gene, apparently.

Now… I tag Doorman, Christine (do you have a blog???), Dixie, and Brown.

All In One Piece

We made it back safely and had a wonderful time while there. Our guardian angels preserved us coming and going through rain and wind and at least two accidents, and even those drivers were apparently preserved from harm, though their tractors and trailers were not.

The Cumberland Plateau was beautiful with changing leaves, warm days and cool nights. Our days were filled with leaf-collecting, playing at the biggest tree house I’ve ever seen (pics to be posted soon), naps, and wonderful food. The nights were filled with wine and card games and laughing.

But now I’m back in my study and found folks in the hospital, a funeral to attend for a member’s husband (God rest his soul), and a serious operation for a member. These things make me wish I’d been around the last week to minister to these dear members.

Also, I’ve found a few meetings I missed and need to get up to speed on, the annual voter’s meeting Sunday (which historically does not always go too well), and a bunch of email. These things make me wish I hadn’t come back 🙂

Thank you all for your prayers while we were gone!

Vacation Time

Tonight the family will load up the new (for us) minivan and tomorrow before daybreak (hopefully), we will start the drive to The Glade to see my in-laws. It is about fourteen hours there, and God willing, we do the drive in one masochistic day.

We’ve made the trip there only twice since we’ve lived here. The first time was for my in-law’s fiftieth wedding anniversary, and it nearly was the last. Our youngest at the time was only 2 months old. She was such a good baby on the way, sleeping between feedings like newborns should. But on the way back all hell broke loose. She screamed. Nonstop. We would drive for forty-five minutes or so, then stop, feed the child, carefully place her back in the car seat, then drive for another forty-five minutes with her screaming her head off. Repeat. For 25 hours. Over two days. I threatened (seriously) never to leave home again.

The second trip (last year) was nearly uneventful–just brutally long. Yet my in-laws are good and gracious people, excellent hosts, great cooks, attentive to my wife and my children, and they even love me. And so I’m actually looking forward to going, er, being there and seeing them.

Please pray for safe travel for us and all others, and I’ll post again once we return next week.

Most Wanted Gifts

This morning on NPR I heard a brief news item on the most wished for Christmas gifts this year. Carl Kassel reported that this year “peace and happiness” was down, but “computers,” and “big screen TV” were are the top of the list. I didn’t catch the actual rankings, and couldn’t find it online, so you’ll just have to trust me.

Perhaps those who responded to surveys believe that a new computer will give them peace and happiness, so why wish for that without the stuff, when you can have both stuff and peace? Certainly a speedy new computer can make one’s computer time less frustrating, and it makes gadget-folk happy, at least for a few hours or days. Maybe that’s all they can imagine.

So what would be on my wish-list?

1. Peace and happiness
2. Less busy-ness and more quality time with my kids when we are home
3. Some home repairs (not necessarily improvements, but repairs)
4. Oh, and gadgets.

I suppose if you wanted a “pastoral” answer, I should have listed such things as “conquering sin” and “Jesus’ Return.” But those spiritual things really are the basis of #1. One cannot have peace without the peace which passes all understanding, the peace of the Lord. And one does not find happiness outside of the way of Christ. Clunky translations aside, makarios (blessed) does connote happiness.

But peace and happiness are hard to come by. Lutherans, please don’t attack. I don’t mean that our Lord does not freely and generously give all blessings. He is in fact the “Treasury of good things.” What I mean is that we do not ask for, use or keep those blessing He generously gives. For this we pray for mercy and the will to arise from our indolence and seek His face. And as Providence has it, this is the very thing our Lord would have us do.

A Witness Testifies to What She Sees

My Sunday morning Bible study is about half-way through Revelation, just before the Great Chapter 12 (wait till they get a load of who the Woman crowned with stars is!). We were discussing the Two Witnesses of chapter 11, who they were modeled after, but especially what they indicated.

As the discussion ranged, I offered the interpretation that these two witnesses symbolized the witness of the Church to the world, and what that witnesses is in our day and how the world responds. The answers were almost all about sex. We discussed the recent Billboard in CA, and activists in general. Not to mention one of the effects of promiscuous sex: abortion. I may have offended a few people who were present but don’t normally attend. We don’t speak that graphically most of the time.

Later that afternoon I was pondering why the discussion was about sex, about why that is such a hot-button sin in most of our minds. If you’re going to pick sins, I suppose those sins are more fun than, say, coveting. But we have so many to choose from, and many are much more dangerous to faith than lust. Why is it that Christians seem obsessed with the bedroom?

I wondered this as I watched “Desperate Housewives” later that night. One character (it was revealed) apparently had affairs in the past; two characters, formerly married were having affairs with each other; one character’s unmarried daughter was pregnant, and another character may have been abused as a child. Then “Brothers and Sisters” came on, and since I had no book handy, and was too tired to write, I watched it. The gay character met a former lover, but nothing happened. The character running for president was accused of having an affair. Other characters were adulterers, another getting divorced due to adultery, or something like it.

Is it a wonder why Christians talk about sex so much?