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Topics - Bergs

Your Turn / Sexual harassment: the root of it
December 23, 2017, 01:45:49 PM
I finally took time to sit down and read December's Forum Letter and was greatly moved by Rev. Johnson's article, "Sexual harassment:  the root of it."  This was worth the entire year's subscription price plus.  It is an excellent article and sums up a lot of the current angst around sexual harassment.  So many of us read the upsetting stories of sexual harassment and think as Rev. Johnson writes, "I would never think of doing that, I'm a Christian."  But like Rev. Johnson, I received some instruction of a sexual ethic (rudimentary as it was) a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  It's not so much my claim as a Christian but that some type of ethic existed and was taught.

Yes, bad things still happened in that time and planetary orbit but because we knew the ethic, we knew those bad things were sinful.  The only wrong today is whether there was consent or not and even if consent is given was it actually possible for consent to be given.   

As guests arrive over the next few days I will recommend the article (it's on my coffee table).  Thank you to Rev. Johnson and ALPB for some very clear writing.  It's a great description of current events and the modest prescription breathes a fresh attempt to make the church a relevant voice in the current debate.

Merry Christmas
Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Your Turn / Peaceful Coexistence USCCR report
September 19, 2016, 01:06:20 AM
Has anyone plowed through the new document from the United States Commission on Civil Rights?  It's a long document and worthy of a read.  The document is actually startling in some of its findings and recommendations.

QuoteThe Commission heard testimony from experts and scholars in the field and a majority of the
Commission made findings and recommendations. Some of those findings were that:
1. Civil rights protections ensuring nondiscrimination, as embodied in the Constitution,
laws, and policies, are of preeminent importance in American jurisprudence.
2. Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as
race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity,
when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights.

Essentially the USCCR declares that civil rights trump religious liberty.  This is not without some dissent from committee members.  It is submitted here for some of you more learned that I to read and discuss.

Mr. Castro's comments on page 29 are about as venomous toward religion as I've ever seen in an official government document.

The rebuttal from Commissioner Gail Heriot is outstanding and I encourage you all to read it.  This was a particular highlight.

QuoteAs for the rest of Chairman Castro's statement, I believe it basically speaks for itself. I
considered asking him to withdraw it. But then I decided it might be better for Christians, people
of faith generally and advocates of limited government to know and understand where they stand
with him.

I suppose many of the so-called "deplorables" in a certain "basket" include many who think like Commissioner Heriot and are in that basket because they think this way.  I have often used the term "the great unwashed" but will now use the term "basket of deplorables." 

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland has come out with a new position paper,  "Pilgrim Fellowship and Witness in Dialogue with Muslims."   In it the paper advocates that:
QuoteA strategic mission to Islam or meeting Muslims to convert them threatens social peace and contradicts the spirit and mandate of Jesus Christ and is therefore to be firmly rejected.

As a child of the 60's we were encouraged (often by Lutheran pastors) to "threaten the social peace."  Maybe there is a better translation from the original German position paper and I am missing something here.  Did Jesus not threaten the social peace?  Paul certainly caused social unrest.  Perhaps he misunderstood the Great Commission being that he did not hear it from our Lord directly.

Matthew 28:16-20
Quote16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Here is a link to one article about it.

Brian J Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
This article was in the Minneapolis Star Tribune announcing that the MN Supreme Court would hear a lawsuit filed against an LCMS church.  The lawsuit involves a couple (surviving wife only at this point) who were excommunicated from the congregation.

My point in posting it is more that it is a Lutheran Church finding itself in civil court over an ecclesiastical lawsuit.  This is bad on so many levels from disagreements over-blowing at church, to hurt feelings, to distractions from spreading the word of God, to overreaching by the civil authorities...

It's a very sad situation from the facts presented here which is all I have.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
The Anglican Church should abandon the idea that it has the same views across the world, the Archbishop of Canterbury has reportedly proposed.

The Anglicans in most of Africa, South America, and Asia are at odds with most of their North American and European brethren.  There is a serious split in the Anglican Communion.  Archbishop of Canterbury Welby has proposed a January conference to likely loosen the ties of this the this large Christian body.  Will this spill over into other Christian religions which are facing the same stresses?

Prayers are requested for the Anglican conference.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
More government intolerance of religion is noted here. 

QuoteSAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Two Bay Area lawmakers are seeking an investigation of working conditions at high schools administrated by the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, over the archbishop's proposed morality clauses for teachers.;board=8.0

Didn't the Hosanna Tabor case settle this question?

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Your Turn / God, Gays and the Atlanta Fire Department
January 15, 2015, 08:08:08 AM
The Atlanta fire chief was recently fired for giving a book he had written to 3 members of the department.  The book gave a decidedly negative opinion of homosexual activity based on the chief's Christian beliefs.  The action by the Mayor of Atlanta is as predictable as it is wrong. 

The editorial listed below chills me to the bone.  Particularly this expressed opinion, "It should not matter that the investigation found no evidence that Mr. Cochran had mistreated gays or lesbians. His position as a high-level public servant makes his remarks especially problematic, and requires that he be held to a different standard."

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

This is an interesting article on a Maryland county's program that reduces fees imposed on churches if they adopt environmentally-friendly practices and ministries.  Does this interest pastors here?  How would pastors here respond to this program?

Most of this seems innocuous enough.
QuoteAfter months of negotiation with county environmental director Adam Ortiz, the pastors emerged with a rebate deal that will significantly cut the fees if churches adopt programs and equipment that will curb runoff, lessen pollution and help bolster the environment.

But this statement concerns me as it now moves to a different level.
QuoteThomas and other pastors also have agreed to start "green" ministries to maintain the improvements at their churches, and to preach environmentally focused sermons to educate their congregations.

When pollution became a focus in the 60's I can remember the old ALC had a program that encouraged us to be good stewards of the earth.  But I don't think they got any money for it.

Anyway I am interested if this is a slippery slope.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Your Turn / Houston mayor subpoenas sermons
October 15, 2014, 07:29:43 AM
City subpoenas sermons in equal rights case

QuoteOpponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

City attorneys issued subpoenas last month as part of the case's discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, "all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession."

Is this unusual?  Have any of you Lutheran pastors had your sermons subpoened?  In my opinion this is overreach on the part of city government.  This is an obvious attempt to freeze pastors in what they say from the pulpit.  How will Lutheran church leaders react?  How should they react?  Certainly the Apostle Paul tells us to comply with the authorities. 

I think if I were the pastors I would hand over my entire collection of sermons as they all touch on gender identity in some form or other.  Anytime one would say "man" or "woman" it now implies gender identity.  Give them everything. 

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
The Student Government at Augsburg College, an ELCA affiliated higher learning institution, has rejected the application of a pro-Israel Jewish group. 

Here's the story:
QuoteA well-known pro-Israel group at Augsburg College in Minneapolis has been denied formal recognition by the school's student government on grounds that it is "unjust" and a "stigma," a controversial decision that school administrators say they fully support.

A blogger gives his opinion along with links to the meeting minutes (very interesting):

Here is the website of the group with its mission statement:
QuoteStudents Supporting Israel is committed to promoting a better understanding of Israel throughout North America as a member of the family of nations, with a fundamental right to exist within secure and recognize borders. We believe familiarizing students with current events and Israeli culture, and providing access to knowledge of Israel's history and its day to day reality will promote a better understanding of the State of Israel.

Well it's not exactly Kristallnacht but a bit disturbing nonetheless. 

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Juicy Ecumenism had another interesting article.  There was a recent event where Swedish Lutherans and American Episcopalians entered into an agreement on climate change.  The two churches committed to "serve as the hands of God in working to heal the brokenness of our hurting world."  The ELCA also signed on.

Release of the joint statement signed by Jefferts Schori and Church of Sweden Archbishop Anders Werjyd came during the event on "Sustaining hope in the face of climate change" held May 1-2 at St. John's Episcopal Church Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.

Particularly I was interested in a few things said by Mary Minette, Director of Environmental Education and Advocacy for the ECLA's Washington Office.  First the report claims she said that there was "little interest" in the media among what mainline denominations espoused about the climate, with greater interest directed towards Evangelical Christian responses.  Is this true or just a whiny statement?  Is there any evidence that Evangelical Christian responses are more widely reported than mainline denominations?  I did a quick online search and cannot make any determinations either way.  But if the ELCA is spending money on a position/office like the Director of Environmental Education and Advocacy for the ELCA and NOT getting their message out...well they either need to spend more money or change their tactics.  Evangelicals must be much better in their similar office but I don't think they have such an office.   

Second I was interested in the report where Minette also expressed dissatisfaction with media coverage of climate issues, asserting that reporters cover the issue as an argument, "give voice to dissenters" and elevate a position that she felt was not on equal footing with climate activists.  Maybe I should be posting this under the ALPB topic of "Intolerance among the Tolerant."  Wow.  Let's not give any voice to the dissenters, they're just not as well-informed as the Director of Environmental Education and Advocacy for the ELCA.

The statement blames climate change for catastrophic floods, lengthy droughts and historic rainfall.  But scientific evidence doesn't always agree with that.  In fact the horrible drought in the U.S. according to a recent scientific study was not caused by climate change.

NASA must be filled to the brim with Evangelical Christians. 
Here's the real gut of the article.  As many of us know the climate change alarmists are really about the money.   The churches commit to "1) Advocate for national and international policies and regulations that enable a swift transition from dependence on fossil fuels to clean, safe, renewable energy, and for economic systems that are fair and just."   Follow the money folks, follow the money.

Finally, I notice this is not on the ELCA website as of this morning (May 4, 2013).  It is on the Episcopal website.  Maybe the Director of Environmental Education and Advocacy for the ELCA needs to start with getting the message out to the ELCA first.  You'd think that an event at the "church of the presidents" would be quickly and widely publicized.  By the way I have some lovely pictures of me visiting the church in February of 2012.  It is a wonderful historic place just a block from the White House.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
This is a fascinating article for a guy like me who likes to study Lutheranism AND is a Civil War buff.
We were just in Gettysburg a couple weeks ago.

This was particularly interesting to me:
QuoteMost surprising, though, were the shoes.

Four men's shoes were found, leather and dirty, the oldest dating to 1830. They had been cut, as if during a ceremony, then boarded within the walls of a historic dormitory at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg.

Crews made the discoveries while working to convert the 180-year-old building into an interpretive museum.

"This is actually very significant because this type of shoe concealment is not well documented," said Karin Bohleke, director of the Fashion Archives and Museum at Shippensburg University.

Though much of the superstition remains a mystery, scholars believe shoes were deliberately damaged then walled within buildings to bring good luck.

Sometimes, the shoes were concealed beneath chimneys to block evil from entering, Bohleke says

Maybe some of you were already aware of this superstition.  It's kind of a Germanic Feng Shui!

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Your Turn / Minneapolis Area Synod Bishop Election
December 31, 2011, 12:31:26 AM
Just noting that the candidates for the ELCA's Minneapolis Area Synod Bishop Election were recently announced.  It is an interesting slate of candidates.    As I personally know several of the candidates and know the biography of several more, it will be an interesting election for me to watch.  There also appears to be very little diversity of thought among the candidates with whom I am acquainted.  May I suggest that the Minneapolis Area Synod has a splendid opportunity to be pioneering at its February Assembly.  It is just a matter of time as we all well know.

Quote2012 Synod Assembly Bishop Nominees
Listed below are the 18 clergy nominees from the November 20 Conference Assemblies who have agreed to go forward in the bishop nomination process. The list is in alphabetical order by last name. Information sheets on the nominees will be available as soon as all forms are put in a standard format. 

Kari Christianson, Chair
Minneapolis Area Synod Bishop Election Committee

Rev. Mary Albing

Rev. Nancy Nord Bence

Rev. Thomas Carlson

Rev. Kelly Chatman

Rev. Vern Christopherson

Rev. Stephen Ganzkow-Wold

Rev. Karen Geisendorfer-Lindgren

Rev. Peter Geisendorfer-Lindgren

Rev. David Lechelt

Rev. Hans Lee

Rev. Christopher Nelson

Rev. Durk Peterson

Rev. Wayne Peterson

Rev. Erik Strand

Rev. Ann Svennungsen

Rev. Susan Tjornehoj

Rev. Gerald Wahl

Rev. Christine Wenzel

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Your Turn / Chilstrom makes a plea to Catholic Bishops
December 09, 2011, 12:42:03 AM
He's back and still trying to be relevant.

Gay marriage - a Lutheran leader's plea to Catholic bishops

Yawn.  The basic argument here is if you just get to know a few members of the GLBT community you'll see what lovely people they are.  Then he trots out the completely illogical tired old canard which compares the gay marriage issue to the Civil Rights movement.  Can one get any more insulting and silly? 

Every proponent of heterosexual marriage I know of is acquainted with members of the GLBT community.  For Chilstrom to insultingly imply otherwise of the RC bishops is poppycock.  Whether or not GLBT Americans are wonderful people has no relevance to the definition of marriage.  The Civil Rights movement for racial equality was a completely different situation and many African Americans are insulted when the comparison is made. 

The tone of Chilstrom's letter is complete condescension.  Take this line for example.
QuoteOver my 35 years as an active and retired bishop I have come to know hundreds of gay and lesbian persons. I have yet to meet even one who is opposed to the marriage of one man and one woman.
What?  Really? How bizarre.

Can someone please pull Bishop Chilstrom aside and gently lead him to his "emeritus" chair. 

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
This was in the Minneapolis StarTribune today.

Newly formed Presbyterian Fellowship weighs options

QuoteAlmost 2,000 conservative Presbyterians are meeting in Bloomington this week to plan "a very different and more faithful future" in the wake of their church's decision to ordain actively gay or lesbian pastors.

The newly formed Fellowship of Presbyterians called the meeting to help churches opposed to the move find ways to work within or leave the Presbyterian Church USA.

It appears that the realignment in American Christianity continues.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Your Turn / That was then, This is now
June 07, 2011, 06:30:26 PM
As a former ELCA member I should not care but does anyone see any duplicity in this?  Is it just me? 

That was then (2003).

QuoteOn several occasions, Hanson has spoken publicly about a variety of issues.  He has called for U.S. leadership to find peaceful means to solve Middle East violence, and he has criticized the Bush Administration's talk of war with Iraq.  In each case, Hanson has referred to  ELCA social statements to "ground" his positions.
     Some ELCA members have asked Hanson what gives him the right to speak on such issues, he said.  "I respond 'by virtue of my call,'" he said.  "I'm seeking to be faithful to my call and the call of the church."

This is now.
Bishop Hanson writes: 
Quote"I appreciate President Barack Obama's speech on the Middle East this week. It contains principles that resonate with the principles in previous statements by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the region...With respect to developments throughout the Middle East and North Africa, we, too, uphold the right to self-determination so that the God-given dignity of all people is respected and recognized. This principle, though, must be fully realized everywhere, without exception, so that peace, justice and development will be possible.
We support efforts, in concert with others, to enable all people of the region to lift the bonds of oppression, wherever they may be, so that everyone can live a full and flourishing life in which all of their human rights are preserved and protected.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

Your Turn / Synod and church calendars
April 20, 2011, 11:10:30 PM
Perhaps it is just me but this struck me in an odd way. 

In researching the ELCA East Central Synod of Wisconsin where my cousin may be receiving a call from, I was struck by the calendar on the main site.  Instead of listing Friday, April 22 as Good Friday, it is listed as Earth Day.  They are one and the same this year but isn't Good Friday just a bit more important to the life of the Church than Earth Day.  Or even as important enough to be listed?  They also list John F. Kennedy's birthday on May 29.   Maundy Thursday is not listed.  Cinco de Mayo is there but not Syttende Mai.

What do folks here think is appropriate for their congregational or synod calendars?  The ECSW certainly makes their priorities known through the front door of their website.   You can tell a lot about an organization looking at its calendar.  At my place of employment I am always fussing about the correctness and information available on the calendar.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

Your Turn / Unusual wedding ceremonies
March 23, 2011, 11:10:08 PM
There was another recent thread started about an unusual worship service.

How about a thread on the most unusual wedding ceremony.  Two years ago we had the dancers in St. Paul video that went viral on the web.  The wedding season will soon be upon us (though with another blizzard over the last 24 hours we Minnesotans may be a bit unbelieving).

Well another interesting wedding ceremony is in the news in Minnesota with a Lutheran tie.  A big local story has been the fall of a well-known auto dealer by the name of Denny Hecker.  He is either portrayed as a scoundrel hiding his assets from creditors or an unlucky businessman.  But one aspect of the story was marrying his longtime girlfriend and some say there was a more mercenary reason for doing so.

Here is an article from the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Phoning it in: Hecker pastor defends vows

QuoteGeisendorfer-Lindgren said he performed the Feb. 22 ceremony by speaker phone, with Rowan and two witnesses at Lord of Life Church and Hecker in the Sherburne County jail.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Your Turn / Intolerance among the tolerant
July 31, 2010, 03:12:40 PM
I found this over on the Powerline blog.  My reason for posting it on this board is somewhat historical and somewhat timely.  It seems as though GLBT activists are ramping up their rhetoric.  Perhaps it's just Minnesota.

The Target corporation headquartered in Minnesota recently gave money to a political PAC which contributed to the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Tom Emmer.  Of course like many Republicans Tom holds pretty much the same opinion on gay marriage as President Obama.  However, Tom was targeted by the GLBT community as being anti-gay.  I have been to many Emmer rallies and do not ever remember any reference to gay marriage one way or the other.  His opposition to gay marriage is just not a big part of his campaign.  It's probably part of the platform but is not a rallying cry.

However the local liberal party leaders have rallied the troops to oppose Target.  This includes motivating much of the GLBT community.  Depite the fact that Target has been a huge supporter of GLBT causes.  They were a major sponsor of the recent Minneapolis Gay Pride event.  Nonetheless, if you are not totally pure in your support of GLBT, you will be attacked.  There is no respect of "bound conscience" for the real GLBT supporters.

It is a short video of one vehement but polite protester.

The story above was picked up by the mainstream media.

Of course those with historical memories will remember the heroine of the videos above, Randi Reitan, as a former ELCA pro-GLBT gadfly.  I personally remember her at the Minneapolis Synod's gathering in late 2006 (or was it early 2007) when Bishop Johnson invited Randi's husband to speak at a synod-sponsored event that was an information session on the sexuality proposals coming before the 2007 ELCA CWA.  The Reitans seemed to be the darlings of the folks advocating changes in the ELCA.  The local newspaper, the StarTribune, gave her as much ink as they could.

Then, if our historians care to remember, after the 2007 CWA did not affirm things they way she wanted, Ms. Reitan sent a scathing letter renouncing her affiliation with the ELCA.  

My point in all of this is directed at those who are staying with the ELCA and those who think "bound conscience" is a worthy concept.  You need to know that any intolerance or slight against certain communities will set you up for scorn.  In this case, Target, a longtime supporter of the GLBT community is pilloried for not perfectly towing the party line.  Of course it is surpising to me to see the donation to the Emmer campaign given that Target has its roots and I think still has substantial ownship by the Dayton family whose favorite son, Mark, is running for Minnesota governor in the Democratic primary.

May God protect all who remain in the ELCA, with special protection for those with any opposition in their hearts for the 2009 CWA decisions.  The little ELCA congregation from which I resigned after 25 years of service (a one sentence resignation letter) had the Randi-Reitan attitude and it will not be long before the entire ELCA leadership takes on the same.  

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Your Turn / Budgets - What is your congregation doing?
February 11, 2009, 01:46:26 PM
Hopefully this will not be too dismal of a topic.  As a person with a degree in the "dismal science" I hesitate to ask but am interested in how congregations are doing.  My mother, a board member at her local ELCA congregation, reported a rather spirited congregational meeting as the budget is suffering and there are building plans afoot.  The basic question was how do we move ahead with the new building when the operating budget is not being met.  Other ELCA friends are reporting big downturns in their congregational revenues.  How are we doing out there?  What kinds of supports are needed? 

I also ran across this article where a UU congregation in Portland, OR, is planning to just shut down during July to erase a budget deficit.  Click on the link and choose the pdf document, go to the final page for information on the July shut-down.

Is shutting down for a month a viable option?   Can a church which plans to do so have much of a moral argument when complaining about governments that are slashing their own budgets?

Grace & Peace
Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
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