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Topics - peter_speckhard

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Your Turn / St. Paul's Beecher, IL burns
« on: September 20, 2021, 12:10:39 PM »

This happened yesterday. It isn't far from us. Calling Beecher a far suburb is a bit of a stretch. It is rural farmland, and this 164 year old church was an architectural gem, as the photos of the interior in the link show. Apparently the congregation was having Octoberfest nearby when they first saw flames in the steeple, but it burned completely to the ground. Nothing left.

Zion, Beecher is the larger LCMS church in the area. It has a school that is still just barely hanging on. But several LCMS steeples are/were visible from the parking lot, all small, all dating from pre-automobile days, all with cemeteries and long histories. It will be interesting to see if the congregation decides to rebuild so close to so many other LCMS churches or how they will consolidate. 164 years is a lot of family history in one rural place.

The church building was used as a set in the movie Road to Perdition with Tom Hanks.

Your Turn / Vocation and participation in the workforce
« on: September 18, 2021, 03:38:59 PM »

This is a bizarre but good article with many links to supporting data. Apparently almost a third of working age males (18-64) are neither working nor looking for work. It is a decades long trend. The article explores all kinds of reasons, but mostly looks at how it is they manage to live without jobs. To me, it speaks to the growing epidemic of deaths of despair. For men more than women, a job is part of one's identity. It confers meaning, purpose, and self-respect, not just a paycheck. Granted, there are all kinds of ways of getting those things besides having a job, but are these men finding those other ways? It seems to me that the good things men got from having a respectable job beyond a paycheck are just things many men are just doing without.   

Your Turn / TIME's 100 most influential people of 2021
« on: September 16, 2021, 04:10:27 PM »

I recognized about a dozen of the names on this list, and with the exception of the current and former presidents, whose influence is unavoidable, I don't think anyone on this list has influenced me. Probably they have influenced me indirectly or in ways I'm unaware of, but in the sense of inspiring me, changing the way I think, or altering my day-to-day- world in any way, none of these people seem very influential. I guess Tom Brady does irritate me a lot of days, so that should count.

What am I missing? I didn't click on any of the names to see why they were chosen. Which of them (again, excluding the two presidents) matter to you have influenced you, or are noticeably changing the world we live in such that you would recommend I take a second look at the list and read about them? 

Your Turn / Sex offenders and church
« on: September 07, 2021, 08:35:19 PM »
With an increasing number of people being labelled sex offenders, especially regarding sex with minors, molestation, or child pornography, the question arises about how a congregation deals with such people who join or who are already members. We had this issue at my last church up in Green Bay and were able to weather it fairly well, but only (I think) because there was a jail sentence involved, so we didn't have to make policies in the immediate aftermath of the criminal charges. The person knew he was welcome at our church but that for his own good and everyone else's he was never to be unsupervised, and parents knew that we were regarding the safety of children in our policies.

What does a church do if someone who fails a background check due to sex offenses (but isn't technically a registered sex offender because of various loopholes, so is not subject to civil laws about access to children) wants to join? You can't say he or she isn't welcome to come to this church. If you did, how would you answer if the person responded by asking where you were suggesting her or she go? But you can't run a bunch of Sunday morning children's programs with such a person at liberty to wander the halls, either. It seem unfair to make one person's sins a public matter for everyone to be aware of without doing the same for other sins, but by the same token parents have a right to know what dangers their children might encounter in a given place.

How have your churches handled members who are sex offenders, registered or otherwise, in conjunction with running safe children's programs?

Your Turn / Women and the draft
« on: September 03, 2021, 11:44:48 AM »

This was a hot topic years ago in this forum as a hypothetical but is now getting close to becoming law. I doubt anyone thinks there will be a draft any time soon, so it is not so much a fact as a principle being debated. Even though nobody voting on it thinks it makes a practical difference, some people recoil at the idea of distinguishing the sexes at all or doing anything that could be perceived as codifying traditional gender roles.

If I were in Congress I would vote to abolish the draft entirely. A nation that can't man its military with willing soldiers probably isn't worth defending or isn't engaged in defensive action. Plus, in today's high tech military, the cost of training people who are only in for two years would be prohibitive, and drafting people for 4-6 years would be unjust. 

If the U.S. ever starts drafting 18 year old girls to go into combat involuntarily, I'm pretty sure we'd be better off surrendering, not because our soldiers, male and female, couldn't win the war but because the opposing nation could hardly impose a more perverse, oppressive or dysfunctional culture on us, so why bother? What would we be fighting for, the opportunity to teach Afghan women about urinal art?

Your Turn / Degeneracy as Gospel
« on: September 03, 2021, 09:25:07 AM »
<iframe width="838" height="471" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

This 30 second clip, linked from a Rod Dreher article, is amazing.

Your Turn / Once again, in loco parentis
« on: September 02, 2021, 02:31:12 PM »

This is another in the disturbing trend of public schools encouraging and allowing students to be transgender at school with the school's help in hiding the fact from parents. All communication with parents uses the name and gender the parents are familiar with concerning their child. But internally, all the teachers and staff know the child by a different name and gender. What is amazing is that the article starts with an example of a student in this program and casually mentions that this student is not at all alone. "Many girls" in the school are in the program.

The idea that schools exist to liberate children from their parents' rules and values rather than to instill the parents' values on behalf of the parents is pure statism at work. Christians need to insist on the principle, be it for private tutors, parochial schools, or public schools, that formal education happens in loco parentis and answers to the parents.   

Your Turn / Lutheranism and the Classics
« on: September 01, 2021, 11:31:53 AM »

This fall there is once again a conference on Lutheran and the Classics in Fort Wayne.

I am unable to attend, but since my wife teaches Latin at our LCMS parochial school (We're not a Classical School, though), and since Classical Lutheran Schools are becoming more popular, I thought the Dreher article linked here was pertinent. The Classics are already being banished from curricula, and now it seems the whole field of study could be headed for the dustbin as a major academic discipline.

Your Turn / Heteroromantic
« on: August 22, 2021, 01:36:09 PM »

This university chart for students employees has categories for gender, sexual orientation, and romantic orientation, with heteroromantic people listed as oppressors and everyone else listed as oppressed. I'm assuming we have broad agreement in this forum that such a category and chart is ridiculous. My question is at what point would people in this forum recommend that someone subjected to this kind of training stop pretending to take it seriously and make it known that they don't accept it? When ought Christians stop going along to get along on these matters?

Your Turn / Afghanistan
« on: August 16, 2021, 08:12:33 PM »
This thread will be devoted to the crisis in Afghanistan.

Chesterton said that the “inside of history” is veiled to many people who view things macro terms. Why do nations go to war? Chesterton said the issue isn’t why nations fight but why soldiers fight. Geopolitics does not sustain the will of someone to endure terror, pain, and possible death. But hatred does. To hate what us evil is key to a soldier’s motivation, which means to be able identify what is evil is even more key.

It is clear that the Taliban fighters know what they love and what they hate. It doesn’t match what is good and what is evil properly, but it does motivate. The Afghan army, by contrast, consists of soldiers with no real loyalty to their own side or reason to fight. Our national anthem contains a verse that refers to the British soldiers in the War of 1812 as “the hireling and slave.” That is, people defending their honor and home can defeat people who are fighting for a paycheck or merely because they’ve been told to.

There is a Just War angle to this as well. There are many views as to the legitimacy of military conflict. How does nation building fit into it? On one hand it seems like a charitable impulse. But it focuses on the macro at the expense of the things that make real, sacrificial fighting possible.

Your Turn / Valpo-- Confucius Institute
« on: August 11, 2021, 04:11:27 PM »
The Indiana AG is investigating schools in the state with ties to the Confucius Institute, a cultural exchange program funded and controlled by the communist government of China. I was impressed with the official statement VU sent to the Indianapolis Star:

"Valparaiso University does not and would not support any kind of endeavor that furthers or promotes communist ideology as doing so would conflict with its Christian mission and purpose and its strong support of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that protects the freedom of speech and religion."

Your Turn / Valparaiso University Beacons
« on: August 10, 2021, 11:57:09 AM »
Just got word that the nickname chosen to replace Crusaders is Beacons.

Your Turn / Arch books/lectionary help
« on: August 09, 2021, 12:24:52 PM »
We're starting a whole new way of doing Sunday school this fall, and one of the new facets of the program will be that we're going to read an arch book in class and give each kid who comes a copy of that book to put their name in and take home every week (they're only a couple of dollars each). We're doing this to encourage in-person attendance and in-home learning and to build up what we've discovered is woefully lacking basic knowledge of Bible stories among our congregation's young adults. We're giving up on the crafts in favor of coloring sheets from the same Bible story as the arch book, and we're giving up on having the teachers prepare some application/"lesson" of the story. The purpose of the program will be limited to familiarization with the Bible and church family. Plus, if they learn to write their names and read by having their parents read arch books as bedtime stories, and read the same one every night for at least a week, that can't be bad and has to be worth at least a few dollars.

Anyhoo, I want the arch books in the Sunday school lessons to go with the lectionary readings in the service. I looked around at the CPH website and they don't seem to have such a chart that I could find. There are some thing like 160 different arch book (and I just got a complete set) but sometimes the lectionary readings don't really feature a Bible story per se of the kind that are normally made into picture books for small children.

Before I reinvent the wheel on this (given delivery times these days we need to order the books many weeks in advance) does anyone have such a chart of which arch books go well with which Sunday's lectionary readings? Or did I just miss it in my searching?

Your Turn / Elijah and conflict, burnout, and depression
« on: August 09, 2021, 10:19:48 AM »
We often use prayer petitions published by the synod that go well with the lectionary readings (and therefore the sermon). Yesterday there was a petition based on Elijah seeming to despair in the wilderness in hiding from Jezebel. The prayer was for God to help pastors dealing with crisis, burnout, and depression. I think the timing was good. It is when people are trying to go back to normal that it becomes apparent just what a grind the previous year and a half has been and what a disappointment rather than glorious triumph the long hoped for return to normal would be. Think oldsters weeping when they saw the new temple but remembered the old one. The inescapable fact for older, established denominational churches is that the old temple was a lot more glorious than they one we have going forward.

The basic universalism of the typical person hilights this sadness. Those for whom judgment and forgiveness are matters of eternity are grateful for the daily bread of Word and Sacrament. But if God is using boring old preachers and regular bread and wine to save people who are saved without those things anyway, then those things become boring and humble without any particular redeeming reason to prefer them to exciting and/or visibly glorious things.

At the recommendation of my brother I watched an interesting show on Amazon Prime yesterday afternoon. It is called The Babushkas of Chernobyl and is a documentary about a group of very old Russian ladies who refuse to abandon their ancestral villages inside the radioactive exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl. To them, loyalty to place to all, and they are all Russian Orthodox with a faith that survived the Soviet years. The government checks on them but doesn't force them to leave on the theory that old age will get them before the radiation does. One women interviewed tells of her village being deliberately starved in the Stalin famine years and how people swelled up before they died. Then about the battles raging  around the village between retreating Germans and advancing Russians, and being rounded up as teenagers to bury dead soldiers in mass graves. Then about village life in the USSR (somehow they kept their illegal faith and piety alive), then about being evacuated after the explosion and meltdown, but sneaking back into now abandoned, post-apocalyptic ghost towns to live off the land, and then growing old, losing their husbands and being disconnected from children and grandchildren. Once a year they have a church service in the old Orthodox church, the great Easter vigil at midnight, and they the workers who monitor and research the area pick up the babushkas and they all go to church together. The one woman who takes care of her homebound sister (disabled since childhood) returns at dawn on Easter to share some celebratory vodka in her sister's room and greets her with "Christ is Risen," and the sister responds, "He is risen indeed." (The subtitles translate the Russian literally, so the word order is different, something like "Truly Christ is risen." 

At any rate, I intend to use these women as an example in this coming Sunday's sermon, since the OT reading is Joshua and the Gospel features some of the disciples leaving Jesus because it was a hard saying. History will always give us reasons to leave, and people will always be glomming onto to those reasons. But given history, if 90+ year old Ukrainian peasants in Chernobyl can celebrate Easter, then come what may, "as for me and my house..." 

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