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Topics - peter_speckhard

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1
Your Turn / The African Bonhoeffer
« on: February 24, 2021, 10:04:08 AM »
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2021/02/the-african-bonhoeffer/

This looks like an extremely interesting book, edited in part by alpb-affiliated Sarah Hinlicky-Wilson.

2
Your Turn / R.I.P. Gerald Speckhard
« on: February 23, 2021, 02:06:42 PM »
My father, a longtime VU professor, died late Saturday night after having had a stroke earlier this month. I'll be preaching at his funeral this Saturday.

 http://www.angelcrestinc.com/obituary_pages/obit_07.html

3
Your Turn / LifeStiteNews and Project Veritas
« on: February 11, 2021, 09:27:32 PM »
Two outlets devoted to alternative narratives to what the mainstream media offers have been permanently banned/cancelled. Project Veritas has been permanently banned by Twitter, and LifeSiteNews has also be erased from YouTube. You will not be permitted to question authority.

4
Your Turn / Pastoral skills for uncertain future
« on: January 29, 2021, 04:06:54 PM »
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-01/iu-ebm012721.php

Interesting. I'll  bet it has application as to how to pastor effectively in the coming years.

5
Your Turn / Valpo mascot task force
« on: January 12, 2021, 08:57:39 PM »
This letter was recently emailed out to VU students:

Dear Valpo Students,

Throughout the country, there has been much discussion about the appropriateness of various building names, statues, and mascots. Likewise, various Valparaiso University constituencies have raised concerns about the Crusader being Valpo’s mascot, given its frequent association with the Crusades and our desire to be welcoming to people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Therefore, as a member of the Board I was asked by Interim President Colette Irwin-Knott to lead a task force to thoroughly discuss this issue and make a recommendation to her about the disposition of the Valpo mascot. The charge of the Mascot Task Force is to consider the University’s use of the Crusader nickname and mascot as a representation of the University, its mission, and its values. The Task Force will objectively evaluate all arguments on this issue, both pro and con, and use that evaluation to provide Colette with conclusions and recommendations that they believe would be in the best interests of the University and its constituents.

I ask that you offer your thoughts by completing this brief survey on the Valpo mascot by the end of the day on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. Thank you in advance for your assistance with this important issue.
Sincerely,

Mascot Task Force


Since Valpo is closely associated with the alpb over the years, I'd invite anyone in the board to share how you would respond to this request for feedback if you were currently enrolled at Valpo.

6
Your Turn / Civil unrest and Christian witness
« on: January 07, 2021, 09:18:23 AM »
It was gratifying to see the president and every conservative commentator (at least online that I saw) condemning the violence at the Capitol yesterday, and doing so immediately and in no uncertain terms. No "mostly peaceful" apologies for it (again, at least that I saw-- there always will be some outliers in the cyber-world, but of the mainstream voices I'm familiar with in politics, there was unanimity that the riots were wrong) nor calls for law enforcement to stand down, nor accusations of a murder about the unarmed protester who was shot and killed.

But it does raise the question of whether/when civil unrest is acceptable or desirable and how a Christian makes that determination. This thread is devoted to that topic.

7
Your Turn / Basic idolatry
« on: December 15, 2020, 11:17:38 AM »
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/transgender-activist-children-puberty-blockers

The headline here is a bit misleading, but the quotations, while meant to make a point, actually show the basic mind set. The argument is over whether children can be of an age of consent to take puberty blockers while they figure out their sexual identity. Conservatives argue that allowing a child to decide whether or not take puberty blockers is tantamount to allowing a child to decide whether or not to have sex with someone or take drugs. That is, children aren't equipped to make that decision. But the trans activist simply turns the argument around. If they aren't equipped to consent to taking puberty blockers, then they aren't equipped to consent to the onset of puberty, either.

Idolatry is at the core of the trans movement, and perhaps idolatry has never been so purely expressed in the past as it is expressed by the trans lobby. The basic presupposition is that you are your creator. It is the ultimate blurring of Creator and creature. In reality, one does not consent to puberty. One does not choose one's sex. We are creatures. To "self-identify" is to claim to be god. You don't receive your identity from yourself. God gives it to you initially and then develops it through other people and (hopefully and most importantly) through Word and Sacrament.

But this builds on prior steps. I've had arguments about the Little Sisters of the Poor and their preferred health care, and had people call it hypocritical because some Christian health care plans cover erectile dysfunction but not contraception. There is no hypocrisy in that, though. Health care covers any and all dysfunction or any organ. Fertile reproductive organs are not dysfunctional. The state of being female is not a medical condition. Only if we assume that the normal, healthy functioning of our organs must become a matter of our consent (and that nothing has the right to inhibit our desired sexual behaviors) can we consider contraception to be basic health care. The trans lobby just takes it further. Puberty itself, like functional ovaries, must become a matter of consent.

 

8
Your Turn / Demands to take things seriously
« on: December 14, 2020, 12:01:57 AM »
I have two relatives who work in a juvenile detention center. That means there is a steady stream of kids coming in and leaving. Some are there short term, others for quite some time. When they receive a new resident, the computer program that processes intakes insists that they enter a gender: agender, bigender, biological female identifies as male, biological female identifies as male, female, gender fluid, male, or transgender. We all know that is insane, but whatever. You just enter it in and move on. The kicker is that you then have to enter their preferred pronouns, which may or may not match their gender. There are ten unique sets of pronouns.

Co, co, cos, coself
En, en, ens, enself
Ey, em, eir, emself
He, him, his, himself
She, her, her, herself
Them, them, their, themself
Ve, vis, ver, verself
Xie, hir, hir, hirself
Yo, yo, yos, yoself
Ze, zir, zir, zirzelf.

There is no way on earth anyone could ever get the pronouns right with a constantly changing clientele. It is a manifestly unconscionable concept put forth by deeply disturbed meddlers who are, sadly, mainstream and in positions of power in government. It is so bad that right now, most readers of this forum have no idea whether I'm telling you the truth or just making up absurdities to make progressives look ridiculous. Alas, it is true. Cultural progressivism in nutshell.   

People make things like this strictly for purposes of virtue signalling and as a way of demanding submission. Get on board or lose your job. The world must be run by people who can't tell the difference between a boy and a girl. You will cheerlead for that or become a target.

9
Your Turn / Advent service
« on: December 09, 2020, 03:06:17 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXbGQHD4zck&feature=youtu.be

We couldn't do a school Christmas program this year, so we arranged an Advent/Christmas hymn sing with explanations of the hymns by our 8th graders and participation from our various 5th-8th grade choirs and instrumentalists. The video starts with about three blank minutes, but then moves from there. I'm the guy robed up and sitting in the background doing nothing but sing along. If you're stuck as home on an Advent Wednesday or simply like to sing hymns (the words and music are provided) this will be an enjoyable 45 minutes.

10
Your Turn / Socialism
« on: December 03, 2020, 09:10:43 AM »
This thread is devoted to the practical definitions of and any theological ramifications of socialism.

11
Your Turn / Valpo names new president
« on: December 02, 2020, 10:04:38 AM »
Jose D. Padilla has been named the new president of Valpo. He has been a VP at DePaul. More info to follow.

12
Your Turn / Check out the online articles section
« on: November 25, 2020, 01:24:34 AM »
In an effort to use more of the features of this website, I've posted a new article on Thanksgiving 2020 (it was too long to be one post, so I had to post it in halves) in the online articles section rather than in the Your Turn section. Just trying something different. Feel free to take a look.

13
On-line Articles / Thanksgiving 2020
« on: November 25, 2020, 01:19:47 AM »
When we picture the classic, stereotypical Thanksgiving scene, what are we picturing? The glow of candles, the golden turkey, the large table laid out with the feast, the family gathered in their Sunday best on a Thursday, perhaps with a “kids’ table” in the background—it has always been more of a Norman Rockwell-esque idea than a reality for any particular family. The real pictures of what is going on in tens of millions of homes around the country on Thanksgiving Day would show tens of millions of distinct, unique variations on that theme. They would have a certain, central aspiration in common, as well as a few details, perhaps, like pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce. If there be such a thing as the best of American culture, Thanksgiving gives it a concrete shape.

Thanksgiving is aspirational. Some years the turkey gets ruined, or the flight gets cancelled, or everyone has the flu. And a few people might serve ravioli or roast beef instead. Many people don’t have a large family to gather around the proverbial board, or even a formal dining room table to gather around, much less any gaggle of young cousins to fill out a kids’ table. Many places lack a horn of plenty tastefully overflowing as the centerpiece. In fact, in my personal experience, everyplace lacks such a cornucopia; such things exist only in catalogs and postcards as some sort of platonic ideal of the holiday. Every actual Thanksgiving meal falls short of the aspiration in some way or another, but that is what makes every unique attempt important. Not everybody succeeds in manifesting every aspect of the vision, but everybody sees it as worth trying again and again. The millions of yearly attempts give us a pretty clear picture of a cultural aspiration even as the details differ from place to place.

What are the ingredients of the aspiration itself? What are all we millions of households shooting for each year? What are the particular flavors of the ideal, archetypal Thanksgiving? Set aside your personal reality for moment—what goes into the postcard version of Thanksgiving? What is Thanksgiving supposed to be like? How is Thanksgiving in the abstract a picture of American aspirations?

First, there is more than a dash of religion to the thing. Gratitude transcends any particular church, religion, or conception of God, but every religion must somehow give outlet to gratitude, which is something that mankind can’t help but sense we owe to something higher. Americans are a particularly religious people, as this quintessentially American holiday shows. We have no official, national church or religion, but culturally we are religious in general, and Thanksgiving gives shape to that fact. Families that don’t “say grace” at any other meal of the year instinctively sense that some such ceremonial act befits Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving has an object, even if that object is different in every house. The gratitude goes somewhere.

Another prime ingredient of the holiday, more important even than turkey, is the idea of family. The giant harvest table in the postcards stands ready to be surrounded by people who are related to each other. They fulfill archetypal roles like grandma and grandpa, crazy uncle and widowed great aunt, baby in a high chair and even dog begging for scraps. This family focus is true of nearly every traditional culture of any ethnicity, and America at Thanksgiving simply combines them into one amalgamated celebration of kinship. You have a place at the table where you belong, and it is among your relatives. Many people don’t have much kin, of course, or live too far from them to make get-togethers feasible, but everyone makes do as best they can. The realities vary, but the vision of Thanksgiving is a vision of family. 

The meal aspires to show forth the very best. Not paper plates, but the best tableware, the stuff reserved for company, the heirloom china that makes an appearance only a few times a year. Crystal wine glasses, even if it is fake crystal holding fake wine. Candles. The cynical teenagers in the crowd will complain that dressing up is hypocritical. They’ll say they’d rather be “real” and comfortable than phony and presentable. But that is the whole point of aspirational things. We can’t always look our best, but at least there is such a thing as looking our best. We are capable of it. The house can’t always be decked out like a showcase home. But doing it one time a year shows that it can be done. Dirt may be normal for us, but we are capable of cleanliness. The clutter may be almost insurmountable. But it is not totally insurmountable, because once a year we conquer it. We can’t always eat like kings, but we demand to be people who can say we know what it is like to eat like kings. Once a year may be enough, but we ought not be completely ignorant of feasting. The house itself has its own Sunday best to surround the holiday feasts. For this reason, it is important that the feast take place in the same house that gets lived in normally all year. It is the same house transformed by the holiday. The kids in a studio portrait might look better than they normally look, but they ought to be the same kids, not photogenic stunt doubles. Same with the house on Thanksgiving. It is the dumpy, messy, regular house presented at its best. That’s how aspirational things work. 
 
Aspirational Thanksgiving nearly always features a strong element of tradition. Not just delicious food, but old family recipes are best. Not just fancy tableware, but heirloom tableware if possible. The platonic ideal of Thanksgiving is a multi-generational event. The picture of this Thanksgiving feast carries with it the blurry memory of Thanksgiving feasts from long ago, before the children were born or some of the oldsters died. Everything that happens glows with the ceremonial gravitas of something that has always been done. Carving the turkey, offering a particular toast, lighting the candles in a centerpiece, whatever it is, we have to be able to compare this year to years past. Changes and innovations grow gradually. One new thing this year becomes the way it has always been at Thanksgiving as the children grow older year by year.

Traditional roles are also allowed to make a temporary comeback at Thanksgiving. Moms who rarely cook may become queen of the kitchen without offending their liberated sensibilities. Dads who need instructions to handle a carving knife nevertheless have permission to play the role of pater familias in the proverbial Rockwell portrait of Thanksgiving. It is okay for men to feel manly and okay for women to feel womanly on Thanksgiving. The throwback, old school, traditional feel of the event confers such permissions. The house so bedecked speaks well of the homemaker, and the feast itself heaps praise on the breadwinner. The real thing may not match the model, but Thanksgiving keeps alive the memory and glory of those distinct roles in a world that has blurred them almost entirely.   

Thanksgiving also echoes with farm life, rural scenery, and connection to the land. At root, after all, it is a harvest festival. Few people live on farms today, but most people have ancestors somewhere in the family tree who lived on farms. Thanksgiving somehow hearkens back to that kind of life with connection to the seasons of sowing and reaping. Postcard holiday meals happen disproportionately in farmhouses and old fashioned small towns in which even non-farmers have strong cultural connections to an agrarian, outdoorsy way of life, usually New Englandy, but sometimes Midwestern or Southern. No matter how many generations of suburban life have intervened, something about Thanksgiving just feels inseparable from the land and hunting wild game in a place with agrarian roots.

Thanksgiving as a national holiday is especially aspirational about America, American history, and American stories. Catholics, Lutherans, even proud atheists and hedonists can have a whiff of Puritan in them at Thanksgiving. The story of the first pilgrims and the natives are part of America’s ideals no matter how or why one’s ancestors came to America. The holiday is about the best of who we are and where we came from. There is a worst, to be sure. Plenty of it. But this day celebrates the best.

Modern detractors miss this crucial point. They think the gauzy, feel-good story is merely propaganda, an attempt to gloss over or hide the bloody realities of American history. But that is the same as the cynical teenager’s complaint that the nice clothes and table-setting are phony because the reality is usually much different. The pilgrims sitting down with the natives and sharing a feast in gratitude to Providence inspires the ongoing story of America. There is time to acknowledge the hideous things; let there also be a time to focus on the good, and let that time be formative. That’s what Thanksgiving gives us. Religious people, people from big, loving families of any ethnicity, traditional people, farmers and rural people, and people who love America for what it is in their hearts despite the flaws—these all sense that somehow Thanksgiving puts it all together to form a mental picture of a cohesive cultural aspiration that is truly glorious and worthy of celebration.

Culturally unifying things are tough to come by in a country like the United States. We’re a nation of immigrants, of various indigenous people and a crush of people from around the globe. Even the flag and the national anthem have become divisive. But Thanksgiving remains as something distinctly American that we have in common. So it matters that people celebrate it at least in some ways according to the pattern. It isn’t just great to have turkey and stuffing. It is great to have turkey and stuffing on a day when practically everyone else is also having turkey and stuffing. Finally, something we have in common. Even people who do variations on the theme by serving tofu burgers or lamb chops recognize the traditional turkey meal with all the trappings as the theme they’re doing a variation on.  At least they used to.

14
Your Turn / Advent Devotions
« on: November 23, 2020, 01:22:48 PM »
We just got in the mail today a shipment of Advent 2020 devotionals by Will Weedon. Excellent resource! The combination of creativity and substance, depth and readability far exceeds the typical Advent devotional pamphlet.

They're available the asking and any size donation and came to us within about three days of being ordered.  Just search thewordendures.org

15
Your Turn / Down Syndrome babies
« on: November 18, 2020, 10:23:31 AM »
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/the-last-children-of-down-syndrome/616928/

Our daughter Eva Marie had Down synodrome, which we didn't know until after the fact, as complication from it cause her to be stillborn. But this article reads like dystopian sci-fi to me; people who want to acknowledge and celebrate such children while making clear that aborting them because of their condition is also perfectly acceptable.

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