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Topics - David Garner

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Your Turn / On Country Music and the Value of Redemption
« on: December 31, 2021, 10:32:53 AM »
I thought some of you might appreciate this blog post I made today about one of my favorite recording artists and songwriters, and how he is unwittingly fueling the success of someone he'd prefer to ruin instead:

Your Turn / Carson v. Makin
« on: December 08, 2021, 04:47:30 PM »
This case involves Maine's tuition voucher program, where Maine excludes vouchers to parents who wish to send their kids to religious schools.  Oral arguments were fascinating.  Justice Thomas asked the attorney for one of the plaintiffs about standing, which I thought he argued well.  Best I can tell, the argument is over whether the denial of funds is because of the school's status as a religious school or whether it is because the money would be used to teach religion.

Given general trends, I expect the plaintiffs will win this one, but as ever, Thomas on standing, or Roberts or maybe Gorsuch on other grounds, could be a wild card.

Your Turn / Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization
« on: December 01, 2021, 10:23:23 AM »
Supreme Court oral argument ongoing now.

Justice Sotomayor is really climbing out on the limb to try to demonstrate in her questioning that fetal pain is, essentially, a myth.  She even talked about "dead brain people" reacting to stimuli.  I wonder if Justice Sotomayor would then argue that "dead brain people" (I assume she means "brain dead") may be killed -- by anyone -- at that point?  In other words, not that they might be removed from artificial life support, but in fact that anyone can kill them because they lack personhood.

I'd like to think not, but then I have to wonder if she realize that's precisely where her reasoning leads?

Your Turn / Education polarization
« on: September 30, 2021, 10:57:58 AM »
This article is written by a liberal, aimed at Democrats, and deals with partisan issues, but I don't post it for that reason.  I post it, rather, to discuss how we as Christians ought to view our neighbor, and whether elitism -- by socioeconomic status, educational level, income, etc. -- is something Christians ought to embrace or reject.  Especially in a country that has a rather wide swath of educational and income levels among its citizenry, though I'd think we'd all agree we are all relatively rich in that our poor are far less impoverished than in some other places on the globe.

"More broadly, as Matt Yglesias noted in a recent article documenting the growth and extent of education polarization:

[H]aving society sharply polarized around occupational categories and educational attainment is going to make it very difficult for us to function effectively as a country… tark education polarization is really bad for Democrats’ prospects of winning a Senate majority. I won’t belabor the point here, but mathematically, Democrats cannot govern in the long term without increasing their appeal to less-educated voters…..For some people, of course, the current system works great. Culture wars and skewed maps help Republicans win elections, after which they cut taxes for rich people and multinational corporations while doing nothing to satisfy their base’s resentments — resentments that fuel the fire for the next campaign.

In short, Democrats should not be complacent about education polarization. College graduates are neither numerous nor reliable enough to underpin a dominant coalition. Their party’s fate—and that of the country’s prospects for effective governance—depends on reducing this polarization as much and as rapidly as possible."

As Christians, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, what should we do to tamp down the divisiveness we see in electoral politics, social media, etc., and encourage people toward greater empathy toward their neighbor, whether that neighbor is wealthy, educated, poor or uneducated?

Your Turn / Forgive me
« on: February 19, 2018, 12:24:10 AM »
Friends, as I've tried to make my custom (though I'm sure I've missed years, including I believe last year), as we begin the season of Great Lent in the Eastern Church, and as is our custom in the service of Forgiveness Vespers, I ask you all:

Please forgive me, a sinner.

May each of you have a blessed Lent as we approach the dying and rising of our Lord.

Your Turn / Why conservative churches grow and liberal churches shrink
« on: December 16, 2016, 09:53:28 PM »

"We found, without exception, the clergy and congregants of the growing mainline Protestant churches held more firmly to traditional Christian beliefs, such as the belief Jesus rose physically from the grave and that God answers prayer. The clergy of the growing churches were the most theologically conservative and the declining church clergy the least.

When we used statistical analysis to determine which factors are influencing growth, conservative Protestant theology, with its more literal take on the Bible, was a significant predictor. Conversely, the analysis showed liberal theology, with its metaphorical reading of Scripture, leads to decline. Our research stands out because past studies have suggested theology and church growth are not linked. They are."

Four cardinals have sent five "dubia" questions (meaning, there is doubt about the issues presented) regarding Pope Francis' encyclical, Amoris Laetitia.  Cardinal Burke was asked about these questions, and in part, here is what he said.

"Is this why you emphasize that what you are doing is an act of charity and justice?

Absolutely. We have this responsibility before the people for whom we are bishops, and an even greater responsibility as cardinals, who are the chief advisers to the Pope. For us to remain silent about these fundamental doubts, which have arisen as a result of the text of Amoris Laetitia, would, on our part, be a grave lack of charity toward the Pope and a grave lack in fulfilling the duties of our own office in the Church.

Some might argue that you are only four cardinals, among whom you’re the only one who is not retired, and this is not very representative of the entire Church. In that case, they might ask: Why should the Pope listen and respond to you?

Well, numbers aren’t the issue. The issue is the truth. In the trial of St. Thomas More, someone told him that most of the English bishops had accepted the king’s order, but he said that may be true, but the saints in heaven did not accept it. That’s the point here. I would think that even though other cardinals did not sign this, they would share the same concern. But that doesn’t bother me. Even if we were one, two or three, if it’s a question of something that’s true and is essential to the salvation of souls, then it needs to be said."

I find this so refreshing.  So often we hear "charity" tossed about as if it were a sword -- "how dare you accuse us of this error -- where is your charity?"  Yet to Cardinal Burke, charity and justice mean precisely contending for truth, in love for the Pope and the Petrine Office, and in service to the Church and her Tradition.  I thought it a concept worth discussing here.

Your Turn / Any Gary Johnson supporters inclined to reconsider?
« on: October 21, 2016, 04:27:28 PM »
Someone else can ask about Jill Stein.

Your Turn / Forgiveness Sunday
« on: March 13, 2016, 03:57:34 PM »
As is customary, the start of Lent in the Orthodox Church begins on Forgiveness Sunday (today) with Forgiveness Vespers.  In this service, we ask forgiveness from each and every member of our parish, and we grant forgiveness to each and ever member of our parish. 

In the spirit of this custom, I ask you all to please forgive this sinner.  May the remainder of your Lenten season be joyous and your Easter be bright.


Note:  there's a little something here for everyone, which should make for a fascinating discussion.

Your Turn / Leaving Lutheranism -- causes, effects, and cures
« on: December 08, 2014, 10:29:29 AM »
This is inspired by Pastor Saltzman's thread, but it's something I have pondered before.  I can speak only for myself, but I was motivated to look outside Lutheranism for one set of reasons, and to embrace Orthodoxy by another.  The subject of the thread is the former -- reasons I began to look elsewhere.

For those of us who become Roman Catholic or, in my case, Eastern Orthodox, I think a lot of the issues boil down to what we see as a rejection of catholicity and a weakening of liturgy in order to embrace sectarian worship forms.  That's a broad brush, but I think it's not unfairly broad.  As I wrote on my own blog, I came to believe the more protestantized Lutheranism we experienced when we moved here is normative, and the more "evangelical catholic" Lutheranism is more rare.  Maybe I'm wrong in that, but it at least squares with my experience.  In most towns, you have at least 2 Lutheran Churches, and usually 1 is more low church and 1 is more liturgical.  But in some towns, you only have the former and have no semblance of the latter.  Combine that with the fact that we experienced several things that we considered highly "uncatholic" (if I can coin a phrase):

1)  Departure from not only historic forms of the liturgy, but in fact making up a new liturgy at the pastor's whim week-to-week;

2)  Non-use or sporadic use of the lectionary, and departure from the lectionary even when it was used to have a "sermon text" that did not comport with the readings;

3)  Use of non-seasonal hymns, again, usually at the whim of the pastor.

There were other issues for us, but I see these three specifically as affecting the notion of catholicity.  For example, we could attend 3 different WELS parishes in the area (and we have) in a week's time, and get 3 completely different liturgies.  We would frequently have a sermon text and readings that no one else was using that week, so the common Lutheran practice I have seen of referencing some or another theological point to "the Gospel reading for this past Sunday" was completely foreign to us.  And while the entire Church (writ large, in the Lutheran understanding) was enjoying the season of Advent and preparing for Nativity, we were singing "Joy To the World" several weeks in advance.  These are just examples -- I could name more space and time permitting.

I don't mean this to be a "let's pick on the Lutherans" thread.  We in the Eastern Orthodox Church have our own back doors to sweep around, and more than you all do, so we are chief among sinners.  What I hope is that we will see a reasonable discussion of whether some of the items I reference above ought to be practiced more clearly and catholicly, and if not, why not.  For example, is it still true among Lutherans that "those (ceremonies) ought to be observed which may be observed without sin, and which are profitable unto tranquillity and good order in the Church, as particular holy days, festivals, and the like," provided consciences are not burdened with the notion that such observances are necessary to salvation?  I'm not sure most Lutherans believe that anymore.  Should they? 

I look forward to the discussion.

Your Turn / Those of you in and around St. Louis ....
« on: November 24, 2014, 10:14:37 PM » have our prayers for peace and safety.

Your Turn / "Sola" vs. "Solo" Scriptura
« on: October 07, 2014, 10:49:26 AM »
I offer this not as a polemic (though the blog post is certainly polemical), but hopefully to touch off a discussion.  This piece was written by Father Andrew Stephen Damick, who is an Antiochian Orthodox priest.  It is a response and exposition on another post written by Matthew Barrett, who is a Reformed Baptist.  I think the better scope of the discussion centers around what Mr. Barrett wrote, as opposed to Father Andrew, but I leave the whole post in place for context.

Barrett writes:

"I wish I could say that all evangelicals today have a crisp, accurate grasp of sola scriptura. I am hopeful that many understand how a Protestant view of Scripture and tradition differs from Rome’s position. However, I am less confident that evangelicals understand the difference between sola and solo scriptura, for in some cases the latter is assumed to be the identity of the former.

Consequently, some evangelicals, intentionally or unintentionally, have followed in the footsteps of Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) who said, “I have endeavored to read the Scriptures as though no one had read them before me, and I am as much on my guard against reading them today, through the medium of my own views yesterday, or a week ago, as I am against being influenced by any foreign name, authority, or system whatever.”

Ironically, such a view cannot preserve sola scriptura. Sure, tradition is not being elevated to the level of Scripture. But the individual is! As Keith Mathison laments, in this view everything is “evaluated according to the final standard of the individual’s opinion of what is and is not scriptural.” To be sure, such a view lends itself more in the direction of individual autonomy than scriptural accountability.

So how do we correct such a mistake? First, we must guard ourselves from an individualistic mindset that prides itself on what “I think” rather than listening to the past. In order to do so, we must acknowledge, as Mathison points out, that “Scripture alone” doesn’t mean “me alone.”

Second, tradition is not a second infallible source of divine revelation alongside Scripture; nevertheless, where it is consistent with Scripture it can and does act as a ministerial authority. The historic creeds and confessions are a case in point. While the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian Creed are not to be considered infallible sources divine revelation, nevertheless, their consistency with Scripture means that the church spoke authoritatively against heresy. Therefore, it should trouble us, to say the least, should we find ourselves disagreeing with orthodox creeds that have stood the test of time. Remember, innovation is often the first indication of heresy. Hence, as Timothy George explains, the reformers sought to tie their “Reformation exegesis to patristic tradition” in order to provide a “counterweight to the charge that the reformers were purveyors of novelty in religion,” though at the end of the day the fathers’ “writings should always be judged by the touchstone of Scripture, a standard the fathers themselves heartily approved.”

Abandoning solo scriptura does not require us to go to the other extreme, namely, elevating tradition to the level of Scripture. But it does require the humility to realize that we are always standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. For the reformers, the early church fathers were valuable (though not infallible) guides in biblical interpretation. In that light, we would be wise to listen to Luther this Reformation Day: “Now if anyone of the saintly fathers can show that his interpretation is based on Scripture, and if Scripture proves that this is the way it should be interpreted, then the interpretation is right. If this is not the case, I must not believe him” (LW 30:166; WA 14:31)."

Father Andrew expounds on this and suggests that "sola" and "solo" in practice amount to the same thing.  I think that's probably right, but again, I don't think it is necessarily a helpful discussion here.  The more interesting thing for you, my Lutheran friends, is predominately the distinction between "me and my Bible" and "me, the Bible, and those who came before me."  I'm curious as to your thoughts on this divide between how some Protestants view "Sola Scriptura" versus others.

EDIT:  I realized I omitted the link to the blog post from Father Andrew:

Your Turn / CW/TW - a test, a challenge if you will
« on: August 03, 2014, 01:35:50 PM »
Something occurred to me this morning on the way to Church.  I was listening to the Troparia for the day, as I usually do to ensure I can sing them properly.  The Resurrectional Troparion in Tone 7 is just stunning in its depth and yet is very pithy:

Thou hast shattered death by Thy cross,
Thou hast opened Paradise to the thief,
Thou hast changed the sadness
of the ointment bearing women into joy,
And didst bid Thine Apostles proclaim a warning,
that Thou hast risen O Christ,
Granting to the world the great mercy

It got me to thinking that one of the differences I have always cited between traditional hymnody and contemporary hymnody is the depth and richness of the lyrics.  Which in turn got me to thinking -- am I right?  Is this a fair critique?

So what I would propose, for anyone who wishes to engage the subject, is to choose your favorite hymn or hymns, traditional or contemporary, old or new.  Post the most poignant verse or verses here.  We can critique them on how pithy they are, how well they articulate the Gospel, how much they speak of Christ versus us, or any other criteria one wishes to use.  The above is my favorite of the Resurrectional Troparia.  The following is my favorite hymn in the Orthodox Church, which we sing during the Bridgroom Services of Holy Week:

I see Thy Bridal Chamber adorned
O my Savior
And I have no wedding garment
That I may enter therein
O Giver of Life make radiant
The vesture of my soul, and save me

And to be respectful of the forum, this is my favorite verse from my favorite Lutheran hymn "O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken":

What punishment so strange is suffered yonder!
The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander;
The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him,
Who would not know Him.

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