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Topics - Michael_Rothaar

Letters to the Editors / Retirement Reflections
April 09, 2013, 02:07:49 PM
Dear Pastor Johnson,

Having retired last summer after 41 years of ordained ministry, I welcomed your reflections in the April 2013 issue of Forum Letter.

One of many points of resonance was "the process of packing up books. ...not room for all of them at home. ...letting them go is emotionally draining."

While still painful, it was a sustaining thing for me to have found:
Theological Book Network
3529 Patterson Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Phone: (616) 532-3890

Hours of Operation: M-F 9am to 5pm
(Eastern Time)


Fortunately, there turned out to be a couple of alternatives to going to the expense of shipping my nine cartons of books from my personal library, with titles in theology, church history, and biblical studies.

I learned of this ministry from First Things and welcome opportunities to bring it to the attention of others.

Mike Rothaar
The two comments below prompted me to start a new topic.

I -- and I hope others -- would find it interesting and helpful to hear how others plan on acknowledging the tenth anniversary of the attack on New York and Washington, especially considering that it falls on a Sunday. And, I note, the Sunday when we and many other congregations will be beginning our Fall Program.

In addition to suggestions for hymns and prayers, if any, perhaps some have specific resources to recommend for an Adult Forum or another congregational event on this day.

This day is going to put most of us squarely in the midst of the tension that comes from being in but not of the world. To be responsible to the texts, we're going to have to wrestle with the call to be forgiving. Matthew 18:21–35 may not be a welcome Word for many who gather. Romans 14:1–12 at least has the line, "...why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God," which for me could be a starting point.

In her Lectionary Notes on the day (Lectionary 24A, not this year in particular) published by Sundays & Seasons, Gail Ramshaw offered this comment for consideration:

"The evil of remembering past offenses is twofold: it is inexcusable before God, and it serves to recall past sins already forgiven and places them against us. Nothing whatsoever does God so hate, and turn away from, as cherishing remembrance of past offenses and fostering our anger against another. If we must remember offenses, let us remember only our own. If we remember our own sins, we shall never store up the sins of others. I shall make bold to say that this sin is more grievous than any other sin. Let us be zealous in nothing so much as in keeping ourselves free from anger and from not seeking to be reconciled with those who are opposed to us. Neither is this my word only, but the word of that God who shall come to judge us."
—John Chrysostom

(John Chrysostom, in The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, IV, 289.)

Over-simplification will not be helpful. This day -- surrounded, I expect, by a great deal of media treatment -- will be a complex pastoral challenge.

Stormin Norman
Re: Our Unusual Worship Experience: 3/20/11
« Reply #77 on: Yesterday at 13:24:48 »
   Reply with quote
I loath the Sunday nearest the 4th of July for the very reason of 1st Commandment issues.  I've sworn to take that Sunday off so that I don't have to deal with the issue of patriot songs during the service.  Unfortunately, with September 11th being a Sunday, I'm afraid July 4th, Part II is coming.

Rev. Norman E. Dew, STS
Rev. J. Thomas Shelley, STS

Re: Our Unusual Worship Experience: 3/20/11
« Reply #78 on: Yesterday at 13:32:36 »
   Reply with quote
Quote from: Stormin Norman on Yesterday at 13:24:48
I loath the Sunday nearest the 4th of July for the very reason of 1st Commandment issues.  I've sworn to take that Sunday off so that I don't have to deal with the issue of patriot songs during the service.  Unfortunately, with September 11th being a Sunday, I'm afraid July 4th, Part II is coming.


Creative Communications for the Parish has a very fine liturgy "In God is Our Trust" which maintains the boundaries.  The only use of a secular patriotic verse occurs AFTER the Benediction.

I have used that whenever July 4 or September 11 falls on a Sunday.

I also highly recommend the use of the longer Litany as the Prayers on September 11--irrespective of the day of the week.
Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Became a Lutheran Pastor by God's grace and the beneficence of Lower Susquehanna Synod, ELCA Bishop Guy S. Edmiston on Reformation Day, 1989.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.
Now serving in the LCMC.

Your Turn / Both Benne's Barrels Blazing
April 25, 2011, 03:11:07 PM
Bob Benne's First Things article is surely worthy of discussion here.
Your Turn / Pray for ELCA Retirees
September 29, 2009, 03:19:34 PM
I saw no news release about the following. Retired pastors and other church workers will suffer reduction in their "pensions" for each of the next three years.

ELCA Participating Annuity and Bridge Fund update
Sept. 25, 2009
Action to be taken in light of market downturn

As previously communicated, the ELCA Participating Annuity and Bridge Fund (the Fund) was seriously affected by the historic and unexpected downturn in the investment markets in late 2008 and early 2009. This downturn created a significant gap between the net assets in the Fund and the projected lifetime benefit obligations to members. As of August 31, 2009, the deficit was 26%.


After thorough analysis of the risks faced by the Fund, review of market performance data through most of third quarter 2009, and with careful consideration of the potential impact on members, the Board of Pensions will reduce the deficit by reducing members' monthly annuity payments and the Fund's interest-crediting rate beginning in January 2010.

For members receiving a monthly annuity:

    * Effective January 1, 2010, monthly annuity payments will be decreased by 9%.
    * Based on assumed future investment returns of 7.6%, the Board of Pensions anticipates that monthly annuity payments will be decreased by an additional 9% in both 2011 and 2012.
    * Members who currently receive a dividend will receive no dividend in 2010. Dividend-eligible annuities will be subject to the same decreases that apply to all other annuities.


The complete announcement is at
Your Turn / Battling Malaria
April 02, 2008, 02:22:17 PM
This morning's Chicago Tribune carried a thrilling article about our work.,1,1796366.story

According to the article, Ted Turner's foundation is providing $200 million dollars to support efforts by the ELCA, LCMS and the United Methodists to fight Malaria in Africa. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing $10 million dollars to help Lutheran World Relief raise an additional $75 to $100 million.

I'm mystified about why this news isn't featured on either the ELCA or LWR site, but there was probably an agreement to give Turner the first chance at publicity.

This is exciting and very positive news. I look forward to getting more details that I can tell the members of our congregation about.
Your Turn / Does procreation matter?
July 02, 2007, 02:07:30 PM
My mind makes a quick and direct connection between the social perspective outlined in the following article (from yesterday's paper), and increasingly widespread acceptance of divorce, gay/lesbian committeed relationships, abortion, and a variety of other things that used to warrant a lot of print in the medieval confessors' manuals.

Fewer say kids key to successful marriage

By David Crary
Associated Press
Published July 1, 2007

NEW YORK -- The percentage of Americans who consider children "very important" to a successful marriage has dropped sharply since 1990, and more now cite the sharing of household chores as pivotal, according to a sweeping new survey.

The Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting found that children had fallen to eighth out of nine on a list of factors that people associate with successful marriages.

Kids were trumped by faithfulness, a happy sexual relationship, sharing household chores, economic factors such as adequate income and good housing, common religious beliefs, and shared tastes and interests, The Washington Post reported.

In a 1990 World Values Survey, children ranked third in importance among the same items, with 65 percent saying children were very important to a good marriage. Just 41 percent said so in the new Pew survey.

Chore-sharing was cited as very important by 62 percent of respondents.

The survey's findings buttress concerns expressed by numerous scholars and family-policy experts, among them Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of Rutgers University's National Marriage Project.

"The popular culture is increasingly oriented to fulfilling the X-rated fantasies and desires of adults," she wrote in a recent report. "Child-rearing values -- sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity -- seem stale and musty by comparison."

Virginia Rutter, a sociology professor at Framingham State College and board member of the Council on Contemporary Families, said the shifting views may be linked in part to America's relative lack of family-friendly workplace policies such as paid leave and subsidized child care.

The survey was conducted by phone in February and March among a random nationwide sample of 2,020 adults.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
I was scanning quickly, so I may have missed a detail or two, but I seem to have read on Page 8 of the June 2007 issue of Forum Letter, that Russ Saltzman has coerced his wife Dianne to obtain a new degree and get a job, which will bring in enough extra income to allow Russ to retire from his lucrative but stress-producing gig as editor. Richard Johnson has apparently completed his indentured servitude of an apprenticeship, and has been anointed to take over the corner office.

Farewell, Russ.
Thank you for your faithful service.
Thank you, Richard, for your willingness to continue in this distinguished line of thinkers and writers.
Welcome, in your new role.

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