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Topics - passerby

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Your Turn / The New Awokening
« on: June 25, 2020, 01:05:40 AM »
This is a very good analysis by demographer Eric Kaufmann (author of the great book WhiteShift on populism) on the current unrest. It's long but worthwhile:

Your Turn / Mockingbird on Confederacy
« on: June 10, 2020, 05:06:19 PM »
I'm a fan of Mockingbird, but I feel a little uneasy about this article, at least during this time of unrest:

I understand how venerating confederate history, statues, and flags can put up a big barrier to blacks hearing the gospel. But they have run this article during a time of moral panic, where it seems mob rule is in effect for determining which parts of our history should be erased and which should be kept. The defacement and now likely removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond is a case in point. For many people, it is about memory of ancestors and far from a tribute to slavery. But even if it will always carry the stain of slavery, it is still part of the history--for better or worse--of that city. It is part of this utopian urge that Lutherans (and Mockingbird people) should resist. I just heard they toppled the statue of Columbus in Richmond and threw into a lake. So the moral panic (and it has to be called that) has spread beyond black issues, and again we get to the matter of the everyday meaning that these statues and objects have for people. Whatever exploitation of natives Columbus participated in, these statues have other more beneficial meanings for people, and not only Italian-Americans. Where does it end? I read they want to remove the name of famous prime minister William Gladstone from Liverpool University because his father was involved in the slave trade! God help us.   

Your Turn / St. Lydia's
« on: November 17, 2019, 07:12:11 PM »
It seem that St. Lydia's in New York, the pioneer of "dinner churches" is going through turmoil. The pastor suddenly resigned from the  ELCA church, which had received Episcopal Church support, citing financial and theological reasons, facing opposition from a group of members.
What's striking is that this liberal Lutheran pastor tried to establish what she calls a "queer Christian ministry," but, according to her public letter, still faced theological obstacles: She writes: "As a theologian, I think the beliefs we hold are at the heart of the reason we gather. As your pastor, I wanted us to engage with and discover the liberating potential of the language and symbols of Christianity: faith in Christ, sin and forgiveness, theology of the cross, etc. However, many of you have found these things to be too harmful and would prefer that we avoid them altogether. I believe the mission of the church is first and foremost to share God’s redeeming love, which heals our brokenness and frees us to serve one another. But for some of you, hearing me say that “God loves you” has felt like an erasure of your pain and suffering, and has made you feel unsafe in my presence. I hope you will be able to find another pastor who is able to share this good news with you."
I don't know if St. Lydia's is representative of other dinner and alternative churches in the ELCA, but it casts a disturbing light on what and who may be driving this phenomenon.

Your Turn / Tax exemption
« on: October 11, 2019, 10:13:37 AM »
I’m sure left Democrats have expressed the sentiment about denying churches/religious groups tax exemption over gay marriage, but it is chilling that it is made in a campaign and that it receives such a warm welcome by commenters:

Your Turn / Herrens Veje
« on: June 22, 2019, 09:17:54 PM »
Has anyone else caught the Netflix series Herrens Veje (Rider of the Storm, I recall)? It is about the trials and tribulations of a Church of Denmark pastor and his family, starring Lars Mikkelsen. It was well done, if over done; the series seems to cram every modern dilemma and issue into its episodes-- Islam, atheism, charismatic renewal, gay rights, adultery, sanctuary and immigration, homelessness, Eastern religion, alcoholism, drug addiction, church mergers, abortion-- I'm surprised they stopped short of clerical sexual abuse.
 It was disconcerting to see the power that the state wields on the church in this series. The bishop acts more like a government functionary or corporate manager than a pastor of pastors. Infringements that seem to be pastoral in nature are handled by public authorities. When the pastor baptizes his grandson against his mother's wishes, he is caught on a hidden camera and brought up on charges. It all made me cherish the American denominational system even more.

Your Turn / Bolz-Weber and the Sexual Reformation
« on: February 09, 2019, 02:37:08 PM »
Not sure if Nadia Bolz-Weber has been discussed much in the Forum but thought members will be interested in this article on her new book from The New Yorker:
Since the reporter is fairly reliable, from reading this article (admittedly, not Weber's book), I'm wondering why Weber has become a favorite of some evangelicals; one of her speaking engagements to promote the book is at a prominent evangelical Episcopal church in NY. It must be her hipster appearance and preaching style, since she seems to be saying pretty much what left Lutherans have for decades on sexuality, abortion, etc. Am I missing anything?

Your Turn / Mockingbird
« on: July 11, 2017, 01:03:03 AM »
I heard a lay preacher at an Episcopal church in Virginia who sounded more Lutheran than most Lutherans. I later learned he helped start a movement known as the Mockingbird. I checked out the website and it does have a lot of Lutheran and Luther-based inspiration.  I'm wondering how influential this movement is in the EC. Anyway, here is the link:

Your Turn / The new family and the slippery slope
« on: July 23, 2015, 01:57:12 PM »

While this may be continuing the thread on same-sex marriage, I think the below article shows that the Supreme Court decision opens up other issues that will also find their day in court. It may be the case that the decision will open the way for a redefinition of the family beyond two parents, especially regarding surrogacy and adoption. The slippery slope argument is not as far-fetched as many say.

Your Turn / third gender
« on: February 13, 2015, 09:05:42 PM »
In teaching a recent class, I noticed that one student evaluation said I did not speak about the third gender. I was unsure about what this meant and read up on it. The education section of last Sunday's New York Times  reports that colleges are increasingly giving students the ability to designate themselves as "gender queer," which is basically trangender-- neither male nor female. In this case, gender queer students often prefer to use plural pronouns-- they, etc rather than traditional ones.  I understand transvestites and transsexuals are moving toward either a either male or female gender, but the third gender movement tends to question the whole idea of a male/female binary. The article seems to imply that this is the leading edge of the lgbt movement on campuses. Given how trends in secular academia tend to filter into mainline denominations and seminaries, this deserves discussion, though probably not high up in the priority of ELCA officials afraid to open another can of worms.

Your Turn / LCMS Church Planting
« on: February 06, 2015, 09:09:18 PM »
Someone mentioned that there are various LCMS networks for church planting. Is this how new congregations are started in the denomination rather than being centrally planned in St. Louis or Kirkwood? From what I know new plants are directed more by the nationwide church in the ELCA or at least by the regional synod, though maybe it is different in Missouri because of its more congregational basis?
  What would be the best way to find out about new church plants in the LCMS? Is there any place where these new congregations are listed? Some denominations seem to be very open about new plants (the Presbyterian Church has a web site where people contribute info  about the church they are planting), others not so much. Thanks for any help board members can offer.

Your Turn / Church Planting-- ELCA-style
« on: August 06, 2014, 05:48:51 PM »
There have been some unusual new churches in the ELCA recently. In NY, there's St. Lydia's Kitchen, called a "dinner church," where the service is based around a sit-down meal. Another start-up is based around various kinds of art. I've noticed similar start-ups by the UCC, Presbyterians and Episcopal Church. In their web sites, they tend to stress being LBGQT-friendly. I asked someone in the NY Metro Synod about this and he said that pastors approved for doing new plants are asked point blank whether they accept church social statements on sexuality, etc. So are these new plants "more ELCA" than many existing ELCA congregations? Is this the case in other parts of the country?

Your Turn / Tim Keller, Redeemer Pres. and Church Planting
« on: January 31, 2014, 09:13:25 PM »
Here is a link to an interesting Dutch documentary (though it seems promotional) about Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. I didn't know he was raised Lutheran. It's long but it says some interesting things about church planting, although from a Reformed perspective.

Your Turn / communing everyone
« on: January 21, 2014, 04:22:35 AM »
How common is the dropping of the requirement of baptism for admittance to communion? I ask this because a recent ELCA church (I will only say it is in the Metro New York Synod) I visited invited all people to communion. No mention of baptism or even being a Christian (let along holding to the real presence). I know this is an issue in the Episcopal Church, but didn't think it was very extensive in the ELCA. I have been off this site for a while so maybe this issue was discussed before. If so, please let me know when or perhaps provide a link. Thanks

Your Turn / Sundberg on Worship as Repentance
« on: August 03, 2012, 07:03:01 PM »
There is an interesting new book by Walter Sundberg called Worship as Repentance (Eerdmans). He makes the argument that many Lutheran churches' removal of the "binding key" of absolution, calling sinners to repentance and proclaiming God's judgement on the unrepentant, has drastically changed the nature of Lutheran worship. He particularly criticizes the Eucharistic turn in Lutheran worship and seems to lay most of the blame (at least judging by the number of references) for this tendency at the feet of Wolfhart Pannenberg. But Sundberg does an interesting job of going through Lutheran liturgies and service books in Europe and the U.S. and noting the change toward worship as "participation in the divine" and celebration (really starting with the Lutheran Book of Worship) rather than penitence. As I recall Pannenberg did write about the dangers of the penitential mindset and the Eucharist as a sign of unity. But I don't think he de-emphasized repentance taking place in the right context. Anyway, Sundberg brings in sociology at the end, arguing that the removal of the strictness of the "binding key" (following the somewhat contested finding that strict churches grow while lax ones don't) is a major reason for Lutheranism's decomposition (he mostly refers to the ELCA). Anyone else read this book?

Your Turn / strange pastoral behavior or is it common?
« on: June 25, 2012, 09:46:25 PM »
I don't know the policy of Lutheran churches toward bereaved non-members, but I hope I have experienced an anomoly. I have been attending an ELCA church (the pastor a Society of the Holy Trinity leader) for about five or more years. Last year my father died; the funeral was conducted by an evangelical minister at my mother's church. I wasn't in church in the weeks surrounding his death and never notified the church. The pastors know my name and that I am a regular attender and my name was in the local obituary as a survivor but I never heard from the church (although I received a condolence letter from Jehovah's Witnesses who obviously studied the obituaries). I wrote it off as an oversight.
 Last week my mother died suddenly. The day after I notified the church office of this, asking that they contact the pastor as well as asking for prayer. Again, an obituary was in the paper with my name as a survivor. Again, no reply from anyone at the church. I am wondering at this behavior from a church; is it because my mother was not a member of this church or because I am not a member? I can only hope this church, which I now have no other choice but not to step foot in again, is an exception. 

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