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Messages - JEdwards

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1
Your Turn / Re: The Feast of the Ascension
« on: Yesterday at 01:04:09 PM »
At the church of my youth, it was customary to extinguish the Paschal Candle at the reading of the words, "and a cloud hid him from their sight."  I realize that with 10 days to go in the Easter season, this isn't technically liturgically correct, but I always thought it was an effective dramatization of the change from the Jesus seen with one's eyes to the Jesus seen by faith.

Peace,
Jon

2
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: April 27, 2021, 01:24:34 PM »
FWIW, Dr. Paul Sax is both an expert in infectious disease and someone with a lot of common sense.  Here are a couple recent blog posts dealing with outdoor mask mandates

https://blogs.jwatch.org/hiv-id-observations/index.php/is-it-time-to-eliminate-outdoor-mask-mandates/2021/04/19/

and the relative risks of the J&J vaccine compared to the mRNA vaccines

https://blogs.jwatch.org/hiv-id-observations/index.php/the-decision-on-the-johnson-and-johnson-covid-19-vaccine-surprised-me-heres-why/2021/04/25/

Peace,
Jon

3
Your Turn / Re: Harrison and Evangelical Catholics
« on: April 22, 2021, 09:22:52 AM »
Piepkorn and Neuhaus were also probably the only 2 to 3 Synod personalities admired by and having a major impact on Lutherans outside the LCMS. Their influence, ecumenically and in the liturgical renewal of the 1960s and following, was immense.
Furthermore, many in the evangelical Catholic Lutheran community, like those two, felt that fellowship or some kind of serious beneficial connection with the Bishop of Rome and that part of the Church was an important agenda item. For some of us, it still is.
Amen to this.  However, one of my frustrations with the ELCA is that this desire is more often honored with rhetoric than with concrete actions.  Whether we think it should or not, the ELCA's adoption of progressive stances with respect to marriage and human sexuality poses a challenge to the establishment of "some kind of serious beneficial connection with the Bishop of Rome."  What do you think Pope Benedict XVI meant when he said this in New York in 2008?

Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called “prophetic actions” that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of “local options”. Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia – communion with the Church in every age – is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23).

From time to time, those who hold a traditional position on these issues are challenged with the question, "Why are you so obsessed with sex?"  My answer is that I am obsessed with Christian unity.

Peace,
Jon

4
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: April 19, 2021, 02:58:23 PM »
The infection breakthrough rate among the fully vaccinated is .0008% (according to CDC numbers). Thus, the benefit of mask-wearing by the fully vaccinated is very close to zero, as is the risk to these people of being in the company of unvaccinated people. Even so, I certainly wouldn’t ostracize anyone who acts out of an abundance of caution or even fear by choosing not to socialize with unmasked or unvaccinated people. To each his own.
While I agree with your general point, there is a technical difference between the breakthrough infection rate and the risk of transmitting disease.  Our bodies make several classes of antibodies.  The vaccine studies have provided a lot of information about levels of IgG-type antibodies.  These are the antibodies circulating at high levels in the blood to protect against spread of disease throughout the body.  The cells lining the respiratory tract produce IgA-type antibodies to try to prevent an infectious agent from getting a foothold.  It is theoretically possible that vaccines do not produce an IgA-type response sufficient to prevent the establishment of a foothold in the nose or mouth, while producing an IgG-type response sufficient to protect against severe disease. 

Having said that, the evidence gathered so far suggests that the vaccines do cut down on transmission to a comparable degree, but if the pandemic has taught me anything, it is the need for humility in the face of so many unknowns.

Peace,
Jon

5
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: April 18, 2021, 09:41:15 PM »
I agree. It is a very helpful article. I wish I had the first part--
Quote
This article is Part 2 in a two-part series.

Peace,
Michael

Here it is:
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMms2027985

Peace,
Jon

6
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: April 18, 2021, 07:32:13 AM »
There is an interesting opinion piece in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine on the interplay between scientific studies, values and priorities, communication, and trust. Although the immediate context is COVID vaccine hesitancy, many of the author’s observations and recommendations represent sound general advice for both physicians and pastors:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMms2101989

Peace,
Jon

7
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: April 12, 2021, 09:56:10 AM »
FWIW, I wrote this back in February at our pastor's request.  I think it's still generally applicable now, although we now have even more information to support the idea that vaccination reduces the risk of acquiring asymptomatic infection and spreading it.  Also, the decline that we saw in Ohio in February has leveled off.

Peace,
Jon

Finally, the end is in sight!  Thanks be to God, cases of coronavirus infection are on the decline locally and across the country.  With that in mind, I was happy to hear that Pastor Scott and lay leaders at Our Saviour are making plans to resume in-person worship.  Thanks to the scientific advances of the last year, we have more knowledge and tools to do so in a reasonably safe way.  However, the virus is still circulating, and we all have varying levels of risk based on our own health conditions and those of our family members.  In-person worship may not be the best decision for everyone, which is one reason why live-streaming of worship will continue.  This note is intended to share information to help each of us make decisions that promote safety for our family members and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
My first piece of advice:  get vaccinated as soon as you can!  I have read the peer-reviewed reports of the trials of the currently-available vaccines, and the efficacy and safety data are impressive.  Some level of protection is detectable about 12 days after the first dose.  By 7 days after the second dose, the vaccines are over 90% effective against severe disease.  Serious side effects of the vaccines are quite rare (severe allergic reactions have occurred in less than 0.001% of the people vaccinated so far).  My own experience was typical of what was reported in the clinical trials:  I had a sore shoulder for a few days after each vaccine dose, and I felt tired and had a slight headache for about a day after the second dose. 
While there is some evidence to suggest that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus, this is less certain.  In the clinical trials, a small number of vaccinated individuals were nevertheless found to be carrying the virus even though they didn’t feel sick.  Even if you have been vaccinated, it is important to follow all the recommended precautions – frequent hand washing, wearing masks, and observing social distancing – especially if you are in regular contact with vulnerable family members.  Likewise, if you have fever, cough, or other symptoms of coronavirus infection, please consider the safety of others, and participate in worship remotely – even if you have been vaccinated.
Both the chance of getting infected and the severity of the infection depend heavily on your age and other health conditions.  In Ohio, nearly half of all cases serious enough to result in hospitalization have occurred in people over the age of 70, and another 21% have occurred in people between the ages of 60 and 69.  People with COPD, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure have a heightened risk of severe disease. 
Finally, while there was initially some conflicting guidance about the value of wearing masks, a series of scientific studies has found a clear link between the use of masks and a reduction in the spread of the virus.  I don’t think anyone enjoys wearing a mask, but this is still a key part of a responsible plan to allow us to gather together again and keep everyone safe.


8
Your Turn / Re: Vaccine Discussin
« on: April 09, 2021, 01:45:38 PM »
If I've already had the virus do I need to be vaccinated against it?  I've heard from several sources that if you've already had it and get vaccinated the side effects can be quite serious.
The official recommendation is still to get the vaccine, as it appears that the vaccine generates a more robust response than natural infection.  However, we are starting to see some data that a single dose of Moderna or Pfizer may provide adequate protection to persons who previously had COVID. 

Peace,
Jon

9
Your Turn / Re: Vaccine Discussin
« on: April 08, 2021, 08:41:24 AM »
I am of the opinion that getting everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible is the best thing we can do to stop mutations, so I'm pushing the issue
Thank you.

Peace,
Jon

10
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: April 07, 2021, 11:01:35 AM »
But yes, if a covid vaccine is mandated, and if a vaccine passport is required to do stuff, then I suppose I will.  And that would be where the line is crossed to socialized medicine.

If vaccine "passports" become a thing in this country, it is unlikely to be due to a government mandate.  Rather, it will be because private enterprises such as restaurants, sports teams, and airlines conclude that it is in their business interest to require it of their customers.  They will likely lose some business from people who don't want to be vaccinated or are annoyed with them for imposing such a requirement, but they will also likely gain business from others who decide that such a policy promotes safety.  I'm sure they'll also analyze the likely impact of such a requirement on employee health, sick days, etc.  That doesn't sound like socialized medicine to me; it sounds like market forces at work.

Peace,
Jon

11
The president, more than any citizen, has a platform with greater and more powerful ability to persuade and convince. He is often the most known, the most photographed, the most quoted, the most followed.  Many regular Catholics, I suspect, watch his actions and listen to what he says and figure that this is in line with what the church believes and confesses.  They are not going to take the time to crosscheck what the pope says, or what encyclicals say on the subject.  They listen to the authority figures which they hear and see most regularly.
I agree with you that the president has an enormous platform to persuade and convince, but I seriously doubt that a significant number of Roman Catholics are in doubt or confused about what their Church teaches on hot-button issues like abortion.  I think a greater risk for the RCC is the perception that one set of rules applies to the influential and powerful, and another to the average person.  Divorced and remarried Catholics who have not received an annulment (either because they haven't tried, or because their petition was not granted) are generally not eligible to receive the Eucharist (with narrow exceptions); this is justified on the grounds that the Church's witness to the permanence of marriage is compromised by communing persons whose living situation contradicts that witness.  On the other hand, when a political leader's policy advocacy contradicts the Church's witness on abortion, it is rare for him or her to be denied communion.  I'm not arguing for or against either pastoral approach, just noting the apparent inconsistency.

Peace,
Jon

12
Your Turn / Re: Catholic Church rejects blessing same sex unions.
« on: March 16, 2021, 10:32:26 AM »
Supposing changes are made because it is sincerely believed they are best for the church and the proclamation of the gospel?
Are you willing to grant that these are exactly the concerns prompting Cardinal Ladaria (with the assent of Pope Francis) to resist change on this issue?  By the way, both men are Jesuits, an order that is not exactly known for unthinking traditionalism.
Peace,
Jon

13
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: March 15, 2021, 04:52:18 PM »
And the time may come, as is the case with children in public schools, that these vaccinations will be required for full participation in civic life.
I am as pro-vaccine as they come, but it's only fair to note that most experts argue that such a step would be premature before the FDA has given full, permanent approval to the vaccines.  Remember, all 3 vaccines currently in use in the US have "Emergency Use Authorization" based on the (correct, in my view) assessment that current knowledge of risks and benefits supports their use in the context of a public health emergency

Having said that, there is mounting evidence that the vaccine not only protects the recipient against symptomatic disease, but also protects against asymptomatic disease, thereby reducing the chance of transmission to another.  As a medical professional and a Christian, I think this is an important reason to be vaccinated, even if one is not at risk of personally developing severe disease.  But I think such encouragement is most likely to be effective in the context of a relationship of trust rather than as a mandate.

Peace,
Jon

14
Your Turn / Re: A Lenten Meditation from Cardinal Cantalamessa
« on: March 14, 2021, 07:19:16 PM »
This week's meditation is also quite insightful, with some great points on what makes for fruitful ecumenism:

https://aleteia.org/2021/03/12/cardinal-cantalamessas-3rd-lent-2021-homily-reawakening-dogma/

Peace,
Jon

15
Your Turn / Re: A Lenten Meditation from Cardinal Cantalamessa
« on: March 14, 2021, 03:43:04 PM »
I can confidently say that this is the only sermon I have ever read containing both a quotation of the Definition of Chalcedon and the image of shooting fish in a barrel  :)

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