Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

The survey (breathtaking in scope) was released last week. You can view all kinds of interesting stats and download the whole thing here.

I created a little spreadsheet to compare various denomination’s results on questions that I was particularly interested in. There are some interesting trends. The questions I looked at in particular were:

Belief in God

Importance of Religion in One’s Life
Frequency of Attendance at Religious Services
Frequency of Prayer
Frequency of receiving answers to prayers

Literal Interpretation of Scripture
Interpretation of Religious teachings
View of One’s religion as the One True Faith
Views about Abortion
Views about Homosexuality

The LCMS, ELCA, and Catholic response rates for the various views on each question are about the same–usually within a few percentage points of each other. The Southern Baptist responses are significantly different than the others–sometimes by 20 percentage points or more on certain responses to questions.

There were a few exceptions, for instance, on the question of how the literalness of the Bible, the LCMS responses were somewhere between the ELCA/Catholic and the SBC.

If you want to see for yourself, get the report, or download my spreadsheet here.

Is This Too Much To Ask?

Via Lutherpunk, via someone else:

All I want is a happy little anglo-catholic [editorial note: read Evangelical Catholic for LP] parish. I don’t want a multi-media extravaganza. I don’t want a praise band. I don’t want to sing U2. I don’t need to talk theology over beers. I really just want a parish that follows the lectionary, observes the rhythms of the church year and holds traditional worship on holy days of obligation. Is that too much to ask? Can I also maybe request that we not remove essential parts of the liturgy in order to make the service shorter? Because that’s not cool. At all. If you can’t hang with the J man for a full 90 minutes, just stay home.

If you are looking for a cool, trendy, good looking pastor who oozes charisma and charm and tells great jokes all while leading a service that looks more like American Idol than the Divine Service, then I am not your man. There’s a huge non-denominational church down the street. Enjoy.

It Will Answer Questions…If We Survive

A new atomic supercollider’s construction is nearing completion in Europe and will be turned on in August. Scientists are hopeful that the collider, billed as the largest scientific experiment in history, will solve long-unanswered questions about subatomic physics.

Scientists also hope that the experiment will not destroy the world.

An AP report says this:

The safety of the collider, which will generate energies seven times higher than its most powerful rival, at Fermilab near Chicago, has been debated for years. The physicist Martin Rees has estimated the chance of an accelerator producing a global catastrophe at one in 50 million — long odds, to be sure, but about the same as winning some lotteries.

By contrast, a CERN team this month issued a report concluding that there is “no conceivable danger” of a cataclysmic event. The report essentially confirmed the findings of a 2003 CERN safety report, and a panel of five prominent scientists not affiliated with CERN, including one Nobel laureate, endorsed its conclusions.

Critics of the LHC filed a lawsuit in a Hawaiian court in March seeking to block its startup, alleging that there was “a significant risk that … operation of the Collider may have unintended consequences which could ultimately result in the destruction of our planet.”

Read the rest here

How I Answer

Brute Squad: What Seminary did you go to?
Answer: St. Louis. But I could have gone to either.

Brute Squad: Ok then, Who were your favorite professors?
Answer: I liked them all.

Brute Squad: Seriously, you must have had some that were better than others?
Answer: Oh yeah. But I don’t like to speak ill of the dead.

Brute Squad, thinking furiously: So some of your least favorite professors died?
Answer: Probably. Or they will. We all will.

Brute Squad: Do we know any of the same people? Who were your classmates?
Answer: Probably. It’s a small Synod. We know each other.

And so it goes. Reflecting upon this I suppose I’m a jerk. I guess I shouldn’t wonder why I have few friends. But I refuse to play the game. I’ve got enough labels already.

In all fairness once I make the point, I usually answer their questions.

True Answers:
Feuerhahn, Nagel, Voelz, Robinson.

I won’t answer here the question of who my friends are. I don’t want to drop names, enrage people or leave others out. But as much as it sounds like something Mr. Rogers would say, in a true sense you readers are my true friends. You are the people most willing to put up with my ravings and waste your good time here. Thank you.

I feel compelled to mention one other name: Steve Anderson, pastor in Chicago. At the Seminary he helped me move from one dorm room to another (several times, as I recall) and finally out of the dorm altogether. He’s shown true friendship in countless other ways as well through the years. But a friend who helps you move is one that deserves public recognition. He’s a better friend to me than I am to him. Cheers, Steve!

I Would Be Remiss…

if I didn’t mention that “Issues, Etc.” is going back on the air…but not in any way affiliated with the LCMS. Amazing that such an expensive program could find sponsors and support.

You can find it here. If you’ve never listened, please consider doing so. For those of you under my spiritual care, please be aware that I found its previous incarnation to be very one-sided as to what “True Lutheranism” is to the point that it could give the impression that Lutheranism is about Being Right! ™. There were also factual errors and “spin” applied to discussions of other denominations at times.

For those who’ve not experienced much of what Lutheranism is like outside of your parish or LWML, listening can be an educational experience, if one is willing to listen with an open mind and ignore some of the closed minded attitudes that may be expressed on the show.

Just Who Are Your Friends?

A culture of suspicion–that’s what really bugs me about the Confessionals in the LCMS. Always has. There was once a Confessional group I knew of who insisted on quizzing me about what Seminary I went to and what “professors I liked,” about what I thought of certain prominent people in the Synod, about who my friends were before I was allowed to visit with them at a conference. I was suspect of something until I could prove otherwise. It’s happened other times too. In all fairness, it’s not just the confessionals that do this. Liberals drop bait in conversation as well, asking some of the same questions about which Seminary one attended and so forth.

I suppose as our Synod grows more divided it’s somewhat necessary to know where people stand, to use Shibboleths to figure it out.

Why Do They Not Swim the Mississippi?

Why is it that we hear few accounts of Lutheran pastors going Baptist or Pentecostal or Presbyterian? I know they do. I’ve heard accounts…but one must listen closely and dig a bit to find them.

I don’t think that many Lutheran pastors covert to become Methodists or Presbyterian or Pentecostals because they don’t have to. They can “convert” by using Bible studies, worship styles and everything and do it right in front of everybody and few will notice or care. In fact, this has already happened on a large scale when one considers how many non-Lutheran Bible studies, VBS programs, worship resources, and evangelism programs are used everywhere in the Synod. A Lutheran can be as Methodist or Pentecostal as they wish and the only thing that would be lacking is a connection with ecclesiastical structures within these other confessions. If it is really important for an otherwise Methodist-Lutheran pastor to be under the authority of a Methodist Bishop, then he will have to leave. But Methodist Bishops do not usually advertise the necessity of being under their authority that often.

So here’s a toast to all who do leave to form a new Pentecostal congregation or Baptist or Independent! I’m sorry that you and I don’t agree. I’m sad that you no longer affirm the Truth we confess within the LCMS. But, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for having integrity and following your conscience, for being honest with everybody.

Favorite Spam Email Subject

I’ve been having problems with my email account at church. Seems that legitimate emails are being blocked, at least some of the time. So I reset my spam filter, turning it off for the time being.

Since then I’ve been deluged with the usual suspects. The good news is that most of it is already being blocked by my security software and arrives in the “Junk” folder, but I’m having to scan those subjects myself to make sure that Outlook and Norton are not being too aggressive. The subjects range from offers of unmentionable things to “Luxury Watches” and outrageous deals on pirated software. But then there’s this subject:

“[Norton AntiSpam] You look really stupid pastor”

The body of the email is simply a link I’m not willing to follow, but the subject cracks me up.

Who needs enemies to keep you humble when you have spam?

Blogging Block and Reader Exercise

I’ve got four or five posts I’ve been messing with for weeks now that I can’t just seem to get in the right shape to publish. Most deal with “controversial” matters, so perhaps this is an indication to leave them alone for now.

So here’s an exercise for all of us. Think about your weltanschauung (world-view). How tied up is it with the spirit of the age, with modernism, consumerism, choice. How much do you reject the past as outmoded and inferior? How much do you believe people and culture has changed in the last 60 years? In the 60 years before that?