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Topics - pearson

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Your Turn / Epiphany Sunday Liturgy
« on: December 04, 2020, 08:36:50 PM »
For those more liturgically astute than me (that means, pretty much everyone):

Since Epiphany falls on a Wednesday this coming year, is it permissible to use the liturgical propers for the Festival of the Epiphany on the previous Sunday, January 3?  Thanks.

Tom Pearson

It looks like CSL and Washington University may be on the cutting edge of theology/science dialogue.  Don't know if that is of interest to anyone, but you can check it out here:

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / Sheefs? Sheesh!
« on: March 24, 2017, 12:17:27 AM »
Perhaps this is old news to some, and shoulder-shrugging news to many others; but I suspect that the following news presages developments that will eventually have a greater impact on the moral attitudes of contemporary American society than the lacerations of a Trump presidency or the obscenity of abortion.

 A New Form of Stem-Cell Engineering Raises Ethical Questions

It looks like the reality of our Brave New World is beginning to come into focus.

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / Reformation quincentennial activities?
« on: January 27, 2017, 10:55:41 AM »
Our congregation is actively mulling over what to do to observe the 500th anniversary of Luther's impetuous action in Wittenberg.  Since Lutherans in this part of the country are about as rare as Eskimos, we want to undertake one or more projects/events that will engage our local community.  Are the various congregations to which all of you belong planning anything in your local venues?  If so, would you be willing to share briefly those ideas?  We'd appreciate the help.  Thanks.

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / "Concordia Supply"
« on: July 17, 2016, 11:48:25 PM »
While I was away the past six weeks, our congregation did its annual VBS program.  Apparently lots of kids from the community, and certainly several adult leaders from the congregation, participated.  But in talking with some of those adult leaders after worship this morning, each one was, without exception, grumpy about the curriculum materials (even our VBS coordinator who ordered the material was appalled).  It was a VBS package called "Ocean Commotion," and it was evidently a week-long celebration of young earth creationism that the adult leaders said came from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  That sounded plausible, but odd.  So when I checked up, it turns out the VBS program comes from Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis project, and one of its distributors is an outfit called "Concordia Supply," based in California.  Our people thought "Concordia Supply" was one of the public retail faces of Concordia Publishing House.  But as best I can tell from the websites, that ain't so.  Have other Lutheran congregations been misled into thinking "Concordia Supply" is an LCMS entity?  If so, it looks like misperceptions (on this issue, at any rate) may well abound.

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / The Latest Thing in Theological Education
« on: January 13, 2016, 09:39:19 PM »
The ELCA seminaries at Gettysburg and Philadelphia have decided to join forces and create a "new school of theology" which will be "one school on two campuses with multiple points of access."  This is becoming a popular model in higher education.

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / Being Wrong
« on: April 15, 2014, 08:16:53 PM »
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, by Kathryn Schulz (HarperCollins, 2011)

Is anyone here familiar with this book?  Has anyone read it?

Our university has assigned it as the Page One Common Reader text that all incoming freshmen will be given and asked to read; and that all faculty are encouraged to integrate into their courses next year.  I haven't read the book, and I don't want to prejudge it.  But the publicity blurb for the book makes me queasy.  In part, that publicity blurb says:

"In Being Wrong, journalist Kathryn Schulz explores why we find it so gratifying to be right and so maddening to be mistaken, and how this attitude toward error corrodes our relationships—whether between family members, colleagues, neighbors, or nations. Along the way, she takes us on a fascinating tour of human fallibility, from wrongful convictions to no-fault divorce, medical mistakes to misadventures at sea, failed prophecies to false memories, “I told you so!” to “Mistakes were made.” Drawing on thinkers as varied as Augustine, Darwin, Freud, Gertrude Stein, Alan Greenspan, and Groucho Marx, she proposes a new way of looking at wrongness. In this view, error is both a given and a gift – one that can transform our worldviews, our relationships, and, most profoundly, ourselves.
"In the end, Being Wrong is not just an account of human error but a tribute to human creativity – to the ways we generate and revise our beliefs about ourselves and the world. At a moment when economic, political, and religious dogmatism increasingly divide us, Schulz explores the seduction of certainty and the crisis occasioned by error with uncommon humor and eloquence. A brilliant debut from a new voice in nonfiction, this book calls on us to ask one of life’s most challenging questions: what if I’m wrong?"

Again, I haven't read the book (but I will).  However, it looks to me like, in this particular text, Kathryn Schulz herself is perhaps the best example of "being wrong."  Is it any wonder that college students today wander around flinching from any truth claims at all?  Is this stuff just 21st century standard-issue sophistry?  Or what?

If anyone is familiar with the book, I'd be happy to have my pre-conceived judgment corrected.

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / Pelagius
« on: February 17, 2014, 06:03:51 PM »
I have a question for Brother Boris, David Garner, or anyone who is conversant with the theological traditions within Orthodoxy.

I've been reading through the letters and fragments of Pelagius' writings as gathered by B. R. Rees (Pelagius: Life and Letters, 2004), partly motivated by Henry Chadwick's little book on Augustine (Augustine of Hippo: A Life, 2009).  In the latter book, Chadwick writes:

"Pelagius begins from responsibility as the foundation of moral action.  He goes on to affirm the innocence of the newborn infant.  If Adam passed on no sin,  neither could he transmit any penalty for it.  Adam needed food in the garden of Eden; so death must be natural rather than a divine punishment for sin.  In the Greek East such teaching could have caused no special surprise, but in Africa it was to be different" (p. 147).

Here's my question.  Is it true that "in the Greek East" it would be an acceptable theological position to claim that "death must be natural rather than a divine punishment for sin"?  Would such a position cause "no special surprise" in Orthodoxy today?  Are Orthodox theologians comfortable with the notion that "Adam passed on no sin, neither could he transmit any penalty for it"?  Or is Chadwick overstating (or completely misstating) the case here?  I know there are diverse theological traditions within Orthodoxy, but would any of what Chadwick asserts fit in to any of them?  Just what does "mainstream Orthodoxy" (if there is such a thing) teach about sin, the Fall, and human responsibility before God?  Does Orthodoxy have a theological tradition that embraces a concept of Original Sin?  Or is that strictly a western (Augustinian) novelty?

I guess that's more than one question, but I'd be happy to have any of them answered, however tentatively.

Tom Pearson     

Your Turn / Ex-pastors
« on: January 30, 2014, 08:52:34 AM »
I suppose a number of threads here have revolved around this topic over the years, but I found the article at the site below sobering.  How many folks here are ex-pastors (I am one)?  How many have retired from parish ministry after a full career of service to the church?  How many have left early?  (In my seminary graduating class of about 45 men, only around a half dozen are still in parish ministry).  Do the issues itemized in this article ring true for others?  Is it a fact (as the article states) that "1,700 or so pastors. . .leave the ministry each month"?  Each month?  That's a staggering number, since it appears not to include retirees.     

What's going on?

Will the time come when the church will eventually dispense with ordained clergy?  If that ever happens, will we be left with anything that resembles the Rock against which the gates of hell will not prevail?

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / Eric Gritsch, 1931-2012
« on: December 30, 2012, 02:12:25 PM »
I have been informed that Eric Gritsch has died.  He was a towering figure in contemporary Luther scholarship, and mentor to several generations of Lutheran pastors and academics. 

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetuae luceat eis. Requiescant in pace.

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / Mystery
« on: July 07, 2012, 11:03:18 PM »

I just re-posted and commented that I was returning to my mystery.  By that I mean a book I'm reading - not from the Forum.

Now that summer has finally arrived for me and I'm done with teaching for the next seven weeks, I plan to make a dent in my shelf of mystery novels.  But then I'll need some more.  I'm looking for counsel on this delicate matter.

For those of you who read mystery novels -- what do you recommend?  Who's an author you keep returning to?

I don't expect this to be a long thread -- I assume most pastors are far too busy to indulge in much fiction reading.  But since I have a carefully regulated addiction to mystery novels (for which I beg absolution each Sunday), I would be eager to receive advice from others on what to peruse next.  Thanks.

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / New Evangelism Initiative
« on: January 17, 2012, 04:30:05 PM »
I believe I have discovered a possible new evangelism initiative that may finally address the problem of declining membership within the mainline protestant churches.

Tom Pearson

Your Turn / Religion, Culture, Science
« on: November 02, 2011, 11:00:22 AM »
I don't know about anyone else, but I found Pr. Speckhard's comments here (re-posted from another thread) to be fascinating, as was the passage he quoted from an essay by G. K. Chesterton.  As we move into an election year in which, among a great many other things, it is anticipated that more than a dozen state legislatures in the U.S. will be considering legislation to mandate the teaching of Creationism and/or Intelligent Design in public school science classrooms; and in a handful of states some legislators appear prepared to introduce similar bills requiring public school science classrooms to teach Special Creation as a cosmological theory (alongside the various so-called Big Bang hypotheses) and to teach earth science as a history compressed into no more than 10,000 years.

While nothing is going to displace our economic woes or global terrorism as the prime political topics in 2012 and beyond, public education policies continue to lurk in the foreground, and for many people they are just as volatile.

And so. . .

G.K. Chesterton has a great essay in response to the Dayton Monkey trial, in which he said (in so many words) the fatal flaw of the "winning" side was that their victory depended not on the evidence but on a redefinition of the purpose of public schools that changed the nature of education itself. In short, all education is in some sense religious/cultural education, including science, and it is up to the wide culture to determine what, in fact, the next generation should be learning.

This seems to suggest that the practice of science is an activity distinct from the teaching of science -- that the doing of sceince is the domain of the scientific community, and the teaching of science is the domain of religious/cultural community.  Is that right?  If so, then the reason for it may be as Chesterton opines:

(From the Chesterton essay):

It is nonsense to say that you have kept such things out of the schools merely by keeping the priest out of the school, when you admit the professor into the school. The professor can preach any sectarian idea, not in the name of a sect, but in the name of a science. The professor can preach the devilish destructiveness of the glass of sherry, and call it a lesson in psychology or pathology. The professor can preach the advantages of polygamy, and call it a lesson in anthropology or history. The professor can insinuate any ideas about life because biology is the study of life. The professor can suggest any view of the nature of man because history is the story of man. And the case is complicated by the fact that the educationists are teaching more and more subjects, even while pretending to preach fewer and fewer creeds. . . . And if his own private opinions happen to be of the rather crude sort that are commonly contemporary with, and connected with, the new sciences or pseudo-sciences, he can teach any of them under cover of those sciences. That is what the people of Dayton, Tennessee, were really in revolt against. And that is where the people of Dayton, Tennessee, were really and completely right.

Chesterton indicates that the problem is that science is never just science, but is in addition a cover for "sectarian ideas."  In other words, science is as much ideology as it is dispassionate inquiry.  Science, according to Chesterton, is never merely a reporting mechanism for presenting facts about how the world works, but is also engaged in telling a Great Story.  And it is up to the religious/cultural community to discern whether that particular Great Story is the one which should be taught to our children.

Is that right?  Is that how the problem should be framed?

If so, it poses at least two problems.  The first is: how should the religious/cultural community respond to this situation?  It appears the religious/cultural community in the U.S. is all over the map on this.  Some insist that we must insulate religious/cultural values from science; that whatever science does cannot speak to religous/cultural values; the two are entirely separate domains that must not influence each other.  Some (like those advocates for "creation science") declare that biblical religion is another way of doing science.  On the opposite side are some who claim that science has itself become another way of doing religion.  And folks on all sides seem intent in turning science into a political benchmark for various partisan social orthodoxies.  Is turning science over to the politicians an appropriate way to resolve these religious/cultural issues regarding science?

Second, it seems pretty obvious that treating the teaching of science as a religious/cultural concern threatens to morph into another sorry episode of revisionist history.  From the late middle ages, when scientific inquiry was deemed by church authorities to be just fine as long as no scientist stated that what science was discovering was the actual truth about how the world works, to twentieth century totalitarian regimes who re-wrote history to fit the latest approved ideological myths, we see a repeated pattern of religious/cultural values clashing with scientific truth claims.  And if we pomote the notion that those religious/cultural values should prevail over scientific truth claims in the teaching of science, aren't we behaving in a way identical to, say, the Soviet efforts to revamp history, where ideological values trumped historical truth?  And isn't this a problem?

So how should pastors and other Christian leaders respond to the religious/cultural, and attempted political, management of science education in the U.S. in 2012 and beyond?

Tom Pearson

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