My Pirate Name

My pirate name is:

Captain Roger Vane

Even though there’s no legal rank on a pirate ship, everyone recognizes you’re the one in charge. You tend to blend into the background occaisionally, but that’s okay, because it’s much easier to sneak up on people and disembowel them that way. Arr!

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Book Review:The House of Dark Shadows

When I was a kid, I loved the book The House With a Clock In Its Walls. I must have read it ten times. Once I was home sick and read the entire book during in one day.

What kid could resist a mystery house, full of secret passages and hidden doorways? Robert Liparulo’s The House of Dark Shadows couldn’t help but succeed then, telling the story of the King family’s move to a house with plenty of secrets. Xander King and his brother David find a mysterious hallway which lead to side rooms, which are in turn antechambers to other worlds. The boys have a few misadventures there but soon realize that they are not the only ones who are using them. Something akin to Big Foot appears to be using the doors as well. The book ends with a shocking twist, which I will not reveal here.

It was an enjoyable read, a solid thriller geared for the young adult market–for the younger end, not yet ready for Twilight. Liparulo rarely misses a step and presents the King family in a compelling way, drawing the reader into their lives and wanting to know them better. I would have preferred more time spent on the mysterious rooms, but perhaps more of these are featured in the other books in the series.

Repenting Is Life Itself

Happy Ash Wednesday to all of you….Er, can you say “happy” Ash Wednesday? Per an earlier post, can you speak of a “good” Lent? Isn’t it all about sadness and mourning and denial and repentance and ashes?

Well, no. We should (should, should, should) repent of our sins daily. Hourly, really. Shedding tears over our condition is appropriate even. And we in the Western Church do put ashes on our foreheads this day. We no longer sing “Alleluia,” saving that praise for Easter. And fasting can be hard. Giving up vices and pleasures even harder (at least for a skinny guy like me).

But man, it’s not all bad. Jesus says, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ” (Matt. 6:16-18)

But more than that. Repenting is a blessing. A real boon. Having a God who is merciful and is the lover of all mankind–that is good news. The best news. That Christ our Lord has overcome death and sin for us and gives us Himself–not just abstract forgiveness, not just his kind thoughts and warm fuzzies, but Himself to us–that is the best news. Repenting and fasting is not sadness; it is life. It is freedom.

Happy Ash Wednesday!

Stray Thoughts

  • I used to watch the Oscars. For some reason I thought I cared…. I don’t anymore
  • It’s funny how people respond to a sermon that references both Foreigner and Boston songs (“I Want to Know What Love Is” and “More than a Feeling”). Even funnier: I didn’t write those two references in the manuscript, and they came out ad lib.

  • As a member reminded me yesterday, theology goes astray when it all hangs on one word. Sic et non. Tao, if you will. Tradition even?

  • I’ve been having dreams in German lately. I haven’t spoken it regularly since 1998. The German in my dreams is lousy.

  • Good writing is clear writing. Write what you want it to mean. Humans naturally bob and weave. It goes back to the Garden. Be direct.

  • I have to check the weather for the next non-windy day before Wednesday. It’s hard to burn ashes in 30 mph sustained winds. Welcome to Oklahoma.

  • My wife chuckled when I said in Bible study, “If you want to have a good Lent…” It does sound funny.

We ‘Go All Trembly’

Religious fear, or awe, is an essential ingredient of all true religion, yet it has been systematically exiled from modern, “psychologically correct” religion. What irony! – the thing the Bible calls the “beginning of wisdom” is the experience modern religious educators and liturgists deliberately remove or try to remove from our souls: fear and trembling, adoration and worship, the bent knee and the prone heart. The modern God is “something I can feel comfortable with”. The God of the Bible, in contrast, is a “consuming fire”. (See Psalm 103[104]:4 and Hebrews 12:29….

Of course God and his angels are good. But “good” does not mean “comfortable”. “Aslan is not a tame lion.” When you meet him, you “go all trembly“.

And of course “fear” does not mean “craven fear” or “fear of an evil tyrant”. It means awe. But this is much more than “respect”, which is how the biblical term fearis usually interpreted today. No. You don’t just “respect” God. You “respect” the value of money, or the power of an internal combustion engine, or the conventions of politeness, or a handicap. You smile politely and take account of it. Only a fool does that to God. Refusal to fall flat on your face proves that the God you have met is simply not the real God.

Peter Kreeft, Angels (and Demons). pp.62-3

Lent, Fasting, Sloth

I can’t believe Lent begins next week. I was gung-ho for it at the beginning of the month, but the past two weeks have slipped by, and now it’s almost here. And like every year, I don’t feel ready in the least.

Ready? Sure, I have sermons to prepare, bulletins to get out and so forth, but that’s not why I feel unprepared. It’s the fast. It is Fastenzeit, after all.

Of the fast, it is not the prospect of eating less that bothers me. It is the realization that I will be constantly aware of what I’m eating and how much. It’s the awareness, the watchfulness, the nepsis of it all that has me feeling like it should wait a while.

Of course, that is one of the reasons for the fast: to pass auf, to wake up, to rise from our slumber, from watching the wheels turn round and round, to doing. To acting. To hearing. To being.

The Seven Deadly Sins are not often named in Lutheran circles, but should be. Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, Avarice, Wrath, Envy, Pride. In that order, from kitchen knife to guillotine in degree of danger. Sloth is the sin at hand. Sloth (or acedia…ennui) is not defined primarily by the lazing about on Summer’s day, or the settling in for a long winter’s nap. It is the sloth of unthinking, mindless busy-ness, of going through the motions-or not. It is sloth in pro forma recitations of the prayers, of having the mind shattered by ten thousand upon ten thousand things and giving nothing its due.

If one does the Lenten fast, you can be slothful no longer, and once awake, you will begin to see and do.

Your Mission Money at Work! TM

Remember back when the LCMS canceled the radio show “Issues, Etc.” for budgetary reasons? You know, the radio show that promoted a very strong, traditional Lutheran theology that exposed the quackery of much modern evangelicalism and latest fads?

Well, “Issues” didn’t die. The LCMS had let the trademark name lapse in 1999, so the men behind the show were allowed to use it’s name and begin broadcasting again on “Pirate Christian Radio.”

But the story is not quite over.

As it has been reported all over the internet, the LCMS is now threatening to sue the host and producer for using the lapsed trademark. They have hired attorneys to fight the permanent legal aquistion to the trademark–that is no longer properly theirs, mind you. They have offered the host and producer a settlement that includes a gag order–not to disparage the LCMS on their show.

It’s funny how the LCMS canceled the show to save money, but is now spending God only knows how much in order to fight the use of its lapsed trademark. It’s as if money weren’t the real issue after all.

As usual, much more information can be garned from, including actual scans of the legal documents already filed.

Remember: your congregation’s mission dollars are being spent on this.