George Tiller, Notorious Abortionist, Murdered This Morning

As you probably have already heard, the notorious late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church this morning in Wichita, KS.

He was a member of Reformation Lutheran Church (ELCA). The church and his clinic had been the site of many protests by pro-life groups over the years. He was infamous as one of only a doctors who performed late term (post 21 week) abortions.

I don’t know how someone who is pro-life could ever justify another killing. Yes, I’m sure on one level Tiller’s murderer thought he was killing someone who killed so many innocents and preventing further death. But we who are pro-life draw a line: murder is always murder. The hinge of the Christian pro-life position is that it is never our decision to terminate life. Ever. The gift of life is in the Creator’s hands. No one has the right to take it away.

In this case the Catholic position which is so strongly pro-life and anti-death penalty has it the most consistent. Death should always be in God’s hands, never in ours. Death never makes something right.

Repentance makes things right.

It is my prayer that Dr. Tiller, in his final moments, repented of the slaughter he committed over so many years. Lord have mercy on him!

Hijacked!

I attended a District meeting in Edmond this morning and when I got home found a few odd comments on my Facebook account. According to Facebook I had posted a link to a video from Twitter. This I had never done. I panicked. Someone or something had broken into my Twitter and or Facebook accounts and posted it! Facebook had already removed the link to the video.

I went over to Twitter and found my account had been suspended due to “suspicious activity.” No joke. But I was able to find the video. Thankfully, it could have been much, much worse. It was a video of car crashes and such set to some German Industrial music. Not patently offensive, yet nothing I watch and nothing I would normally link to.

How in the world did someone get in my Twitter account and post that link? Twitter says “some applications” have bugs that allow for such things. Count me out, man.

Look, there about a million ways I can mess up and ruin my reputation and loose my job and livlihood all by myself.  Pastors don’t need help in self-destruction. Most of us don’t. So it goes without saying that I do not need Twitter (or Facebook) allowing someone to hack in and post something truly god-awlful and offensive sometime and getting myself in a bad place.

So instead of everything I could be doing today, I’m going through and changing all my passwords. To everything. Sigh. And as fun as Twitter and Facebook have been, and how well connected to friends, family and parishioners I have been through it, I’m giving it a long hard second look.

UPDATE: I tried to login to my Twitter account to see if there was more I could learn, but apparently the robot or evil person has been trying to login with my old password and now my account is not just suspended, but locked. Sigh….

While the Main Post is Being Edited…

My post on “Revision and Repentance” needed more of the first, and perhaps some of the latter.

Meanwhile, check out this link which is too cool not to share. It provides analysis and further links to early drafts of the script for Star Wars. It’s a great illustration on the power of revision.

It’s How You use the Tools

When I wanted to be a professional musician, I dreamed about having the right rig. I already had a Les Paul, but my amplifier wasn’t what I wanted. Nor could I get all the cool effects that I thought I needed. So I looked at guitar mags and dreamed about what might make me a rockin’ guitar player.

It’s a pretty common malady with any craft. Amateurs think that if they just have the right tools, then their skill will somehow automatically improve. It’s most amusing when you have wealthy folks picking up new hobbies. The rich kid in school had a Les Paul and a Strat, with a Marshall full stack…but everyone knew he couldn’t play worth beans. Same goes for investment bankers who sport Leicas on vacation.

Of course, there is something to using good equipment. My woodworking follies happened yesterday due to two main faults: me and my tools. I am not experienced enough and don’t work at it enough to keep consistency and “momentum” going. But my dado blade is impossible to measure against–it’s a “wobble” blade– and my table saw fence deflects like crazy. It makes cutting a slot in the middle of a heavy panel a tricky situation. If I had better tools, it would eliminate the second problem, and I’d be left with poor technique to blame.

Or take the guitar player again. That rich kid with the sweet Les and full stack is going to have an easier time learning his scales than another kid who’s playing a $250 Chinese “Flatocoaster” with action like high-tension wires. The Les plays nicer, easier and sounds better. Practice time is easier and more fun.

But practice time you still need.

Sometimes you hear Lutherans falling for the same fallacy regarding sanctification. They speak as if one just has the right tools, then Christian living and faith will increase. If people only went to Church, received the Eucharist and “remembered their baptism” then everything would be good as gravy in their Christian life.

I’m not denying the efficacy of the Word. It does what it says, to be sure. Nor would I dare deny the power of the Eucharist in giving life and salvation. But they are to be received, used, and, dare I say, practiced. The Confessions themselves confess the same thing; in numerous places they deny the Roman Catholic teaching of the sacraments working opera ex operato, that is, by themselves without the faith to receive them.

The Sacrament is life-giving and immortality-conveying. But one must be prepared and be examined for it to be for our good (1 Cor. 11). Likewise the Word gives faith and life (Rom. 10), but still must be done, and not just heard (James 1:22).

They are the correct, best, and only tools for the job of living as a Christian, but they are tools to take the dead wood of our lives and shape it. They take the cacophony of our lives and tune and arrange it into a pleasing song of praise to our Lord and Creator.

My Wife Saves the Day

I have the best wife in the world. This afternoon I was spending some time in the garage, trying to fit together the carcass of a tool storage cabinet I’ve been working on-and-off with for the last few months. It all went haywire.

First, I realized I cut the dadoes (slots) on the wrong side of one work piece. So I cut them on the correct side, planning to fill in the falsely cut ones. I’d planned on painting the project anyway. But then I discovered that the original dadoes were cut about 1/32″ too small. Frustration set in. I had thought I’d cut test pieces ahead of time. No big deal. It should be a simple matter to cut them a bit larger. Only something went wrong. That piece was ruined.

I probably shouldn’t have tried. We were all exhausted from the trip. I wasn’t at the top of my game, and my woodworking skills are pretty basic. But I was ready to throw in the towel. Sell my tools. Give my dad all the wood I’ve been hoarding and collecting. Instead, Marjorie helped me clean up some junk and move on to another project, taking my mind off the problem. Then she cleared out and let me sharpen some chisels.

I have a good wife.

Field Day Exhaustion

So I spent three hours running an activity at the Hayes Elementary Field Day this morning. It was worse than VBS! I am exhausted.

This afternoon are some visits for the sick, straightening the office and then pack, pack, clean, clean in order to leave tomorrow morning for Marjorie’s niece’s wedding in Carbondale, IL.

The dog (big, mean and muscular) will be guarding the house. The cat will be giving the evil eye to all passers-by, and we will return Sunday evening, deo volente.

Happy Memorial Day!

The Sacred Disease: Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and Religious Experience

The article Are Spiritual Encounters All In Your Head? (NPR) explores the connection between temporal lobe epilepsy and religious experience. Michael Persinger thinks it’s only brain phenomena. The story quoted him: “What is the last illusion that we must overcome as a species?” he asks theatrically. “That illusion is that God is an absolute that exists independent of the human brain — that somehow we are in his or her care.”

It is the old dualist/materialist conundrum. There is no doubt that the brain and emotions, sensations and personality are connected intrinsically. A brain injury can turn a caring man into a monster–or vice versa. But are emotions only physical brain phenomena? Not necessarily.

The NPR story is pretty even-handed, apart from the lede. Dr. Orrin Devinsky has researched temporal lobe epilepsy for years, and while he believes there is a distinct connection between the disease and spiritual experiences, he also says:

Think about a man and woman who are in love, Devinsky says. They look at each other, and in all likelihood, something fires in their temporal lobes.

“However, does that negate the presence of true love between them?” he asks. “Of course not. When you get to spirituality, as a scientist I think it really becomes extremely difficult to say anything other than, ‘It’s possible.’ “

Me Forbid that I Feel Uneasy!

conversione_sauloPeople are scared of religion. Religious people are scared of religion. They are frightened to submit, to be in a mystery, to have the weight of God pressing down on them at temple (church) and  in their homes. They are frightened of serving. They are frightened of ritual as religious rituals. Keep the 7th Inning Stretch and the chants and the wave. Keep your bells and vestments away. They don’t want a God who is other than us. Jesus was a man, so He must have been a dude, too.

Muslims do scary religious things like chant and bang their heads on the ground. So do Jews–or at least they did. So do Orthodox Christians, unless they have succumbed too much to American Protestantism. When it happened in Ft. Wayne, Western-style, there was a big brouhaha. 

Incense was burned to idols and Kings, they say. It’s smelly and weird and magical. Magic is unreal. Science is real.  But Jews burned incense day and night in the Temple. As do Christians of every sort until the mid-sixteenth century.

Praying much and frequently is fanatical. Never mind the Temple and Synagogue liturgies, and the earliest Christian liturgies with pages of pre-communion prayers. Don’t be like the woman who pestered the judge. Look at what happened to her.

We Americans like our religion scientific, objective, rational and brief. Jesus was ordinary, we worship Him ordinary. Not all mumb0-jumbo, smells and bells, mystery and fear.

 

Wall of the Synagogue at Dura Europas

Wall of the Synagogue at Dura Europas

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:28-29 NKJV) 

So what am I saying? I am saying that in our irreligious, compartmentalized, secular lifestyles marked by an hour a week singing hymns and listening to the sermon, our days bookended with prayers and maybe some devotion reading here and there, we are not being normal, average, ordinary Christians. We are living like atheists, relegating God to god-dom and us to here and life to ourselves and deriding mystery as magic and hailing science as religion.

Our home altars are replaced with magic boxes which flash their lights and blood and skin and sedate us with steady beats and Idols and Stars. Or different magic boxes on our desks which suck our attention and life. God is here…as long as I come to Him in my time, on my terms with what makes me comfortable. Me forbid that I feel weird and uneasy and like He is present with His consuming fire.

When does Lost return?