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Messages - Dan Fienen

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I wonder if Senator Chuck Schumer is experiencing buyer's remorse for a bill that he introduced into the House of Representatives when he served in the House in 1993 that was passed unanimously by the House and all but three Senators, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Perhaps when he introduced the bill he should have specified that the freedoms being defended and restored did not apply to White Christians.

Well Congress is looking to correct that with Sen. Schumer's leadership. With the Equity Bill religious freedom will be stripped from those for whom it obviously was never intended, non-progressive. I.e. bad Christians. Good Christians, progressive Christians like his good buddies Pres. Biden and Speaker Pelosi, good  Catholics both (progressive,  abortion and LGBTQ+ supporters) should have no concern.

Just wait, this case will likely end up being a warm up for more cases testing this point of law. Besides Jack Pillips could well be heading back to the Supreme Court.

From what I read, this was a fairly narrowly based ruling and does not itself set much precedent. That is not unusual for the court. As time goes on and other rulings in similar cases are made, a broader ruling may eventually be made. Was is significant is that the ruling was unanimous. Apparently even he more liberal justices still hold some allegiance to the First Amendment.

It is an issue that affects not just the Roman Catholic Church and not just abortion. It affects everyone every time we organize ourselves into groups greater than one. It's not just a matter of who sets the rules for the group or what are the consequences for breaking those rules. It is at the root a question of identity. What is this group and who determines that? A group that has no limits on what is acceptable for those who are part of the group has ceased to be a group.

Now that does not mean that every issue is make or break. For most issues there will be latitude, a range of acceptable behaviors, beliefs, or statements. On the issue of abortion, the Roman Catholic Church has taken a stand. It then has a choice, is this stand going to mean something, are there going to be consequences for breaking with the stated stand? If not, then has a stand really been made? If the stand has been that the Roman Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin unless the life of the mother is at stake but church members are free to do as they choose and remain Catholics in good standing, then what kind of a stand would that be? We could say that our group disapproves of racism and racial discrimination but members of the group are free to act and speak in racist and discriminatory manners and remain members in good standing. If so, then what kind of an anti-racism position would that be?

One stand on abortion could be that the position on abortion is tempered by the position that it is to be understood that members who hold public office or position may be called upon to act as a public official in ways that are contrary how they should act in their private life. Thus a judge who personally opposes abortion may as a judge be called upon to uphold laws that allow for abortion. Joe Biden, POTUS, may be called upon to enforce laws that allow for abortion that Joe Biden, faithful son of the Roman Catholic Church would not avail himself of. Legislators may be called upon to vote in favor of legislation that the people he represents want even if he personally is opposed. The conflict between personal belief and doing one's duty as a public official is a fraught one.

A different issue, and one that individuals and groups must settle for themselves, is what do they do about situations where an individual member disagrees with the official position that the group has taken. I am unclear whether Pres. Joe Biden personally is in favor of abortion practices that are much more permissive that what the RCC has official endorsed. Thankfully that is not my concern. I can well understand the position being taken by a number American Bishops in favor of withholding communion to public officials who publicly support permissive abortion laws. I can also understand how that could be, on the whole, a dangerous and unwise policy. Something that apparently Pope Francis has decided. Even Popes and the largest Christian denominations at times need to pick their battles. At what point is the break with the official position of the group egregious enough to warrant disciple or even expulsion from the group.

I do find it interesting those who are all for individuals defying their superiors in the group when the stand taken by the rebels are in line with general progressive thought, but insistent that dissenter must still obey their superiors when that favors the progressive side.

Your Turn / Re: 1620
« on: Yesterday at 01:26:14 PM »
As to owning up to my own bad behavior, I can assure you that I have never colonized anyone, nor used the Bible to justify subjugating people or colonizing their land.
Nor did you eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

No, I did not. Are you saying that even now, a sin committed by a person taints their children so that if a person is a White Supremacist all of his decedents will be White Supremacists? What of all the Africans who facilitated and participated in the slave trade, are all their children guilty of the slave trade?

So far as I know, none of my ancestors who immigrated and lived in the United States colonized people or used the Bible to justify colonizing people. Does that still make me a racist White Supremacist because I am melanin deficient?

Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden are all as melanin deficient as I am. Does that make them racist White Supremacists since they are White folk?

Your Turn / Re: 1620
« on: June 15, 2021, 02:26:09 PM »
It is true, for example, that one explanation for the Empty Tomb that was offered was that the disciples stole the body. Should we consider that as an equally reasonable interpretation as that Jesus rose from the dead? When one considers how the disciples acted in the immediate aftermath of Jesus' arrest, their resources, the guard at the tomb, the plausibility of this account suffers greatly. Also we have the eye witnesses to the resurrected Jesus.

Who are "we?"  It's an old book steeped in patriarchy and used to enslave millions of people and oppress millions of others.  And the symbol of the cross, meant to be a sign of forgiveness, was for century on century used as the symbol for conquering colonial brutality, including the Crusades.  True truth means owning up to your own bad behavior.  Or doesn't it?

Dave Benke
Dare I presume that you are indulging in a bit of satire if not sarcasm? The "we" includes anyone today who wishes to seriously examine the record and evidence, whether from faith or skepticism. The witness is there to be assessed. How one assesses the old book is as much a reflection of the one making the assessment and employing for their own purpose as it is the actual contents of the book. Can the book really be blamed if it is used to promote bad behaviors by those whose favorite passage from the book is "God helps him who helps himself?" (2 Hezekiah 4:3)

Has Christ and His cross been used to justify conquest, colonialism, and all manner of behavior unbecoming to one who claims to follow Him? Certainly. Should that negate what He really said? There is hardly a religion extant that has not been used by followers to justify such behavior, and a number of non-religious philosophies religiously followed. Need I remind you that Islam, the Religion of Peace was spread by force of the sword from it's home in the Arabian peninsula across northern Africa destroying, subjugating, and enslaving the Christian communities in its path, into the Iberian peninsula and was barely prevented from over running Europe? They also spread north through into the Balkans, ultimately knocking at the gates of Vienna, again demanding to continue their manifest destiny to conquer, subjugate, colonize, and enslave all those before them.

As to owning up to my own bad behavior, I can assure you that I have never colonized anyone, nor used the Bible to justify subjugating people or colonizing their land.

Your Turn / Re: 1620
« on: June 15, 2021, 10:57:23 AM »
The work of an historian is much like that of a detective. One gathers clues, evidence and pieces them together into a coherent story of what happened and why. Such evidence is usually fragmentary, so the result is less a completed jigsaw puzzle than an assemblage of partial glimpses of the whole with gaps to be filled in by the imagination. Along the way, some evidence, some parts of the story are missing, hidden perhaps or lost. The bias of those who were eye witnesses and those who recorded testimony must be taken into account, not to mention the bias of the detective or historian. There is, naturally, the temptation early on to reach conclusions as to what the story was and to search for evidence to support those conclusions, not looking for evidence that does not support the forgone conclusions.

The evidence gathered still needs to be interpreted and different people looking at the same evidence may come to different reasonable conclusions. Proof that everyone will agree with is just not going to happen in historiography. But that does not mean that all conclusions are equally reasonable. In history as in all sorts of detective work, scientific inquiry, and the like, there are standards to help judge the quality of the reconstruction.

The problem with the 1619 Project was not that the conclusions reached by the authors did not sit well with many critics of the project or that they cast the USA in a bad light. The problem was that they used poor historiography to support their conclusions. When examined, the evidence used did not well support their conclusions and when taken with other historical evidence from the time would more reasonably support different conclusions. The whole project seemed to originate from conclusions that had been reached to support political solutions for which then selected evidence was sought to support those forgone conclusions.

The authors of the 1619 Project were not historians who had deeply studied the events whose history they were attempting to rewrite, but journalists. That in itself would not necessarily be a bad thing. But they did not do the history well and were roundly criticized by reputable historians who knew what they were writing about. The historical conclusions the project writers arrived at were just not well supported by the historical evidence which we have. One can allow that people will arrive at different interpretations of the same evidence, and thus write different pictures of the same events. However, those interpretations must still be supported by the evidence, not just pieced together Frankensteinian.

Different people will tell stories in different ways. For years people in the American South had their own story and slant on the Civil War, the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. In it the Civil War was not about slavery but the North's oppression and invasion of the South. It also included the myth of the happy slave tended to by the benevolent plantation owner. But we are not simply left with two accountings of the Civil War with little reason to choose between them other than one's own prejudices and regional loyalties. When the canons of historiography are applied and the extant evidence considered, the Lost Cause narrative just does not account for much of the evidence and as a narrative does not hold together. It is a myth being pushed, not a reasonably objective history being told. So it is also with the rest of the 1619 Project.

What is true about the difficulties and uncertainties about writing the history of the founding of the USA, is even more true of ancient history of Biblical times. There is less extra-Biblical evidence and reasonably so. But there is still evidence to be found. We cannot prove the events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus historically any more than we can prove much of anything else in ancient history.

It is true, for example, that one explanation for the Empty Tomb that was offered was that the disciples stole the body. Should we consider that as an equally reasonable interpretation as that Jesus rose from the dead? When one considers how the disciples acted in the immediate aftermath of Jesus' arrest, their resources, the guard at the tomb, the plausibility of this account suffers greatly. Also we have the eye witnesses to the resurrected Jesus.

Your Turn / Re: The Southern Baptists at it again
« on: June 14, 2021, 01:26:48 PM »

The following is from The New York Times; there is an even fuller account in the Washington Post, but I don't think their articles are available to non-subscribers.
The headlines:
‘Take the Ship’: Conservatives Aim to Commandeer Southern Baptists
The insurgents, some adopting a pirate motif, believe that the denomination has drifted too far to the left on issues of race, gender and the strict authority of the Bible.
Don't forget that this is the same news media that considers a Supreme Court where the Progressives not have the clear and ruling majority "out of balance." The current Supreme Court in out of balance because there are more conservatives than progressives, the Democrats need to rebalance it by expanding the number of justices and then appointing progressives to the point where progressives will once again outnumber conservatives as they know it should be! the headline says that conservatives "aim to commandeer Southern Baptists." That says it all for the journalistic approach of the NYT. A once great newspaper now is only a collection of opinion pieces devoid of any objectivity.

Your Turn / 1620
« on: June 14, 2021, 01:21:31 PM »
I just finished reading 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project by Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars and a professor of History at Duke University. In it Professor Wood suggested that the November, 1620 signing of the Mayflower Compact is as foundational to the United States and its character as was the landing of slaves in Virginia in August of 1619. 1620 is a critique of the historical basis for the claims made in the NYT's "1619 Project" and finds that in almost every case the historical claims made in the Project were exaggerated or simply wrong. This was not simply a matter of interpreting the historical data differently, but of making assertions about the history that are demonstrably wrong.

Professor Wood does not assert that racism has not nor continues to be a problem in the United States, or that the mythology of the United States as somehow the perfect nation was correct. But if we are to totally reframe our understanding of United States History as the authors and sponsors of the "1619 Project" set out to do, at least they could do so on the basis of the actual history of the United States rather than creating their own origin myths based as much or more on ideology than solid historical research.

This has significance for us as Pastors and Church Men and Church Women for several reasons. We are also part of the USA and have a stake in what is being taught not just about our history as a nation, but about who we are as a people. But more than that, when we preach, teach, and talk about race relations we need to do so based not on cleverly devised stories but on the facts. The "1619 Project" seeks to indict the United States and especially its dominate group of people, Whites, of falsifying their history for their own benefit and calls for changes in what we do. But if that indictment is based not on the facts of the case but lies and misrepresentations, can we as Church People countenance and lend our support to that indictment? Do we agree with the legal theory that "well the accused might not actually be guilty of this accusation but we know that he is a guilty of something so this will do."? What would that say of us as a people?

We also have a stake in what passes as history. Christianity is an historically based religion. Throughout the Bible, Old and New Testament, a constant refrain is that the God who speaks to His people, who calls for their worship, loyalty, faithfulness and obedience is that God who had done certain things for them. He is the God who created everything, who rescued them from slavery in Egypt, who fought for them against their enemies, provided for them in need, who became one of them, died for their sins and rose to give them life. Christianity is not primarily about what we need to do to get in good with God, to have a good life, or a good afterlife, but about what God has done, not in theory but in history. History as an accurate recounting of the past is important to us. In 1 Corinthians 15, when St. Paul discusses the resurrection of Jesus he spoke not about the story of the resurrection as comforting or inspiring, or how it should make us feel. He gives a list of witnesses who could testify that it actually happened at a particular time and place. Then he goes on to say that if it had not actually happened but was rather simply an inspiring story the whole Christian enterprise was useless.

If history becomes for ourselves simply stories that we tell ourselves to comfort us, challenge us, or spur us to action, where the story of the patriots risking their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, is no better to inspire us than the Rebel Alliance uniting to fight the Evil Empire of Emperor Palpatine, and stories may simply be switched around to suit the moment, then what of Christianity's Heilsgeschichte?

The central doctrine in Lutheranism is that of justification by grace. Our salvation is based on what God has done for us, not what we do. But if the stories that we tell and are told of God's actions for us are essentially fungible and any story to obtains the desired result in us "works" then it all depends on us learning to be a good person, authentic person, useful person, fulfilled person, or whatever kind of person our philosophy or therapy seeks. It becomes up to us because our stories have become not what God has done but what we need to hear.

It is this kind of history that the "1619 Project" promotes. History becomes the story we tell to obtain the desired result. At the beginning, when it was published by the New York Times, it had great claims to be telling the true unvarnished history of the United States as it really happened. It would reframe US history and be the basis for a new and comprehensive curriculum for teaching US history. However, that claim soon wilted in that face of withering criticism from reputable historians of inaccuracies, significant omissions, and misrepresentations. It eventually morphed into a journalistic exercise, not historical, a way to get Americans to think differently about themselves.

People make up myths about themselves all the time, Americans no less than others. We have the Noble Pilgrims, righteous Patriots, Cowboys battling the barbaric Indians and rapacious farmers who sought to fence them in, Washington chopping down the cherry tree and refusing to lie about it, and all the rest. Often times there is some grain of truth behind the myth, but much is made out of whole cloth to satisfy some need or raconteur's itch. They can be useful to inculcate desired behavior or attitudes. The myth of the shining, heroic, all benevolent America whose alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears is a myth, albeit a flattering one. But must we bring that flight of fancy down to earth by creating another myth of an America about which nothing good can be said, inhabited by a race of people who are universally evil?

The reality is that nations and people are complex combinations of good and bad. While it is easier and comforting to pigeonhole people (including ourselves) as good people (practically perfect with just a few easily excusable foibles) and bad people (who are unremittably and irredeemably bad for whom no excuse can be made). The truth is much more complicated than the perfectionist model would hold. Look at St. Paul's torturous self-examination in Romans 7.

We need to preserve history as accounts of what has happened not just useful stories we tell ourselves since our faith is based not on cleverly devised myths (21 Peter 1:16) but what God actually has done for us. We also need to learn to deal with people (ourselves first of all) not as simply good guys and bad guys but as saints and sinners.

Your Turn / Re: Another contribution to the endless controversy
« on: June 12, 2021, 11:46:29 PM »

Do these verses from Genesis 2 relate to your question?

there was still no human being to farm the fertile land, (Gen 2:5d)

The LORD God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it. (Gen 2:15)

Yes, that's excellent; thank you, Pr. Stoffregen (and thanks to Pr. Engelbrecht as well).

It does look like Adam had at least one vocation from the start.

Tom Pearson
The world's true oldest profession,  farming.

Your Turn / Re: Another contribution to the endless controversy
« on: June 12, 2021, 05:16:45 PM »
In the English reformation, there were times when semi literate clergy who could do a little more than “read” the liturgy were ordained.
So??? I don't doubt that was true. And I seem to recall that it wasn't all that uncommon for younger sons especially of the lesser nobility that were deemed no good for anything useful would be set up as clergy in some place that would provide them a living.

I hope that you're not suggesting that if the useless or semi-literate could be pastors, (setting the bar that low), women could be also.

Your Turn / Re: Another contribution to the endless controversy
« on: June 12, 2021, 02:12:15 PM »
Sometimes I wonder what the real purpose of discussion about women's ordination is? Is the purpose to explore and discuss the Biblical text to try to come to an understanding of what it says about the topic and determine as best we can what God's will in the matter is? Or does the purpose of the discussion begin with the desire, for whatever reason, to establish women's ordination as the practice and belief of the church and thus we discuss to find a way to interpret the Scriptural text in such a way that it is seen as authorizing that practice? Or it could also be the opposite and discussion begins with forbidding women's ordination and then we try to find a way to understand Scripture as forbidding it?

Do we determine what view we have of pastoral ministry according to how that view will affect our view on women's ordination? Is it that a functional view of ministry supports women's ordination so lets hold that view?

Your Turn / Re: Another contribution to the endless controversy
« on: June 12, 2021, 01:41:45 PM »
A video where a woman deals with the question: "Should Women Be in Ministry?"

A question she asks, "What is it about ministry that a woman cannot do?" (Our functional view of ministry.)
What is it about consecrating the elements that a robot can’t do? The issue of women’s ordination has nothing to do with skills and ability and everything to do with authorization. The Scriptures do not authorize it. Doesn’t mean people are aren’t ordained aren’t capable of doing what ordained people do.

It has everything to do with skills and abilities when one has a functional view of ordination as we do.
Fine, with your functional view of the pastoral office it makes sense. But we in the LCMS do not share that view. Do you suggest that because women's ordination makes sense to your understanding of the pastoral office, we also should take your view as authoritative for us and because of that approve women's ordination?

Your Turn / Re: Religious Freedom Issues, Again
« on: June 11, 2021, 12:56:11 PM »
The LCMS Stylebook p. 25:

titles — RELIGIOUS TITLES: In running text, use “the” before “Rev.” or “Rev. Dr.” “The Rev.
Dr.” should be used before a clergyman’s full name if he has received a doctorate (earned or
honorary). Use only the last name (no title) on second reference.

LCMS Reporter article, "Harrison signs joint letter to U.S. Secretary of Education", "On June 1, the Rev. Dr. [sic] Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), . . ."

I had no idea that the most interesting or significant thing about a post concerning LCMS President Harrison joining with various other religious leaders in signing a joint letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education about regulations pertaining to religious freedom in how religious student organizations are treated on public college and university campuses would be how I referred to President Harrison.

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