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Messages - Wayne Kofink

#1
Quote from: Richard Johnson on August 09, 2022, 08:39:41 AM
The bishop asks whether the motion to call the question was just on the amendment, or on all matters (which she really shouldn't have done, IMO; he clearly called the question only on the Riegel amendment, and she shouldn't give him a chance to change his mind). But he doesn't change his mind, and the vote on the Riegel amendment passes, very narrowly (399 to 386).

Right you are. As a matter of fact the Assembly's own Rules of Organization and Procedure prohibit a motion to move the previous question of all matters. It can only apply to the immediately pending motion. It helps if someone actually reads the rules that the assembly adopts.

Thanks for the excellent commentary.
#2
T.S. Eliot The Journey of the Magi, Ash Wednesday, Four Quartets
de Tocqueville Democracy in America
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Plato The Dialogues
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird
Dorothy L. Sayers any of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, but especially The Nine Tailors
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry  The Little Prince
Margery Williams  The Velveteen Rabbit
#3
Your Turn / Re: Mary/Martha
July 12, 2022, 11:28:09 AM
I've always liked Dorothy L. Sayer's comment in Are Women Human? "I think I have never heard a sermon preached on the story of Martha and Mary that did not attempt, somehow, somewhere, to explain away its text. Mary's of course, was the better part–the Lord said so and we must not precisely contradict Him. But we will be careful not to despise Martha. No doubt he approved of her too. We could not get along with her and indeed (having paid lip-service to God's opinion) we must admit that we greatly prefer her."
#4
Your Turn / Re: God and Buddhism
February 06, 2022, 08:24:45 AM
Quote from: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on February 05, 2022, 05:45:50 PM

On Mars Hill, Paul engages with the Greeks by describing the will of the Creator. It looks like that would not work for a starting point with a Buddhist. I wonder where one would start a discussion of spiritual matters with friends from the East.

Thomas Merton and the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue found a connection for talking with Buddhists in the nature of monastic life. RC's have an advantage over Lutherans on that approach, but I wonder if starting with how life is to be lived rather than the metaphysical underpinnings is the way to go. Rob Morris's suggestion that longing would be a central topic is right on the mark especially if one looked at the writings about the Desert Fathers.
#5
Your Turn / Re: God and Buddhism
February 05, 2022, 05:04:22 PM
Quote from: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on February 05, 2022, 03:36:17 PM
The philosophical forms of Buddhism seem quite removed from the local , lay Buddhism.

Did the class talk about differences between the Chen/Zen Buddhism and Therevata Buddhism? I think the Thai are the latter, which might have them praying rather than meditating.

I think you are quite right about the distinction between lay Buddhism and the philosophical interpretations of monastic Buddhism. I believe that difference is especially  sharp in Theravada where lay people can only hope to achieve enough merit that they will return as monks in the next life. The text we used in class was Junjiro Takakusu's The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy (absolutely filled with footnotes in Japanese Kanji). As the title implies, it only deals with the philosophical approach. When I taught Buddhism as part of a course on World Religions, I found Roberts C. Lester's Buddhism helpful. It has a chapter that compares the Theravada as practiced in a Thai village with Renzai Zen as practiced in a typical monastery of that sect.
#6
Your Turn / Re: God and Buddhism
February 05, 2022, 02:53:28 PM
I took a course in Buddhism from a Korean Buddhist priest who taught philosophy. I also had numerous conversations with him when I became an adjunct lecturer in philosophy. Universally in Buddhism there is no God. He once remarked, however,  that one Zen Roshi once told him that if you experience God in meditation, that's a good thing, but it will be better when you don't experience God.

There are some heavenly beings who are sometimes referred to in English translations as gods, but that translation has to be qualified. They gods are not creators. (There is no creation.)  The gods are not immortal. Someday they need to die and be reborn as humans so they have an opportunity to achieve nirvana. According to my professor, the gods can't do anything for you, but if you discussed the gods with ordinary Buddhists in a village, they might tell you how the gods can be a help or an obstacle to your life.

And just to add to the confusion, he explained that if  you attended a meeting of Pure Land Buddhist in the U.S., it would be like attending Protestant worship only with hymns and prayer addressed to the Amitaba Buddha, rather than Jesus. The theme of any Pure Land teaching would be the importance of faith, something quite foreign to most forms of Buddhism.

I have to say that most of the course had to do with distinctions between schools of Negative Rationalism  and schools of Introspective Intuitionism of which there were two forms, Undifferentiated Intuitionism and Differentiated Intuitionism. Most of us found it nearly incomprehensible.
#7
Your Turn / Re: Stole without an Alb?
October 29, 2019, 02:42:25 PM
My observation is that the practice is spreading although the reasoning behind it doesn't seem clear. It seems to be: "I don't wear an alb because it a holdover of obsolete clothing that separates me from the people in the congregation who wear normal clothes. I wear a stole to show I'm ordained and not like everybody else in the congregation." I don't think anyone will be able to stuff this genie back in the bottle.

I don't like stoles for choirs or confirmands because it is a symbol of ordination. I am all right with ordained deacons wearing deacons stoles, but not with synod deacons (who are not ordained or rostered) wearing them. I am afraid that genie isn't going back into the bottle either.

I suppose it's only time until a "with-it"pastor instructs other clergy that euro-centric, hierarchical albs are not permitted at his/her/hir installation service. I think I'll stay home. Or maybe I'll wear a cassock and surplice.
#8
Your Turn / Re: Episcopal consecration
October 02, 2019, 09:23:43 AM
I heard a story about an Episcopal priest whose use of incense was met by a spate of coughing from some parishioners. He suspected it wasn't an allergic reaction, but "hate coughing," people expressing their displeasure at incense being used. One Sunday he entered the sanctuary with a smoking thurible, and the coughing began. He turned on the congregation and declared, "Knock it off. It's dry ice."   :)
#9
Your Turn / Re: Simon Wiesenthal Center and the ELCA
August 17, 2019, 09:34:46 AM
The whole issue of the U.S., Israel, the Palestinians and the role of churches is complex. It's probably wise to at least question if the ELCA has sufficient skill to make statements about it. However, I notice that the memorials the ELCA adopted are not directed to Israel but to how U.S. funds are appropriated. The work of Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem has long been a concern of Lutherans here and in Europe. Even Elliott Abrams, a conservative with Jewish roots, thinks cutting the U.S. funding to the hospital was a mistake. I don't think the ELCA was taking a radical or unwarranted position in calling for restoration of funding. It's certainly not an anti-Israel or anti-Jewish action.
#10
Quote from: Dan Fienen on August 15, 2019, 04:52:08 PM
Quote from: Charles Austin on August 15, 2019, 04:32:09 PM
Pastor Fienen, we have already taken numerous actions. We reach out to minors who cross the border and help them get what they need so that they will not be exploited or otherwise harmed. Through LIRS we are working with lawmakers for better laws. Our social service agencies - and yours - are helping immigrants put down roots here.
Your assessment calling it all words is incorrect.

Different groups and individuals within the ELCA have done a number of things that have been helpful. But what does this resolution commit the members of the ELCA to do?

I'm not Pr. Austin, but I think I can answer. Essentially the resolution doesn't commit ELCA members to do anything. It does ask the ELCA Church Council to "provide guidance for the three expressions of this church about what it means to be a sanctuary church body and provide a report to the 2022 Churchwide Assembly." Bp. Eaton and the Synod Bishops are trying to make sense out of an ill-contrived resolution. It's all necessitated, in my opinion, by the CWA trying to use the amendment process to write a resolution rather than referring it back to a committee that might have produced a resolution that  accomplished something positive. Maybe the amendment was purposely ambiguous. I don't know. The problems were compounded by the news release that bragged about the ELCA being the first church body to to declare itself a sanctuary church body without giving an explanation of what that might mean. That left a vacuum that the some of the news media filled for the ELCA. The ELCA leadership is trying to do catch up now. It's too bad because it takes the energy out of doing things that actually help people.
#11
Quote from: Richard Johnson on August 12, 2019, 11:12:48 PM
I'm inclined to think that when multiple bishops and pastors have to write "pastoral letters" to explain actions of the churchwide assembly, the actions of the churchwide assembly may have not been well thought out.

Absolutely spot on observation. It's what happens when an assembly tries to use the amendment process to write a declaration. You wonder what was in the coffee that they could adopt a statement that the ELCA is a "sanctuary church body" and then instruct the Church Council to tell us three years from now what that means.
#12
Quote from: Dave Benke on August 10, 2019, 01:46:17 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on August 10, 2019, 01:30:45 PM
The idea of systemic racism rests on the assumption of group identity, which is to say that any individual has solidarity with those of his or her race, class, sex, etc. Therefore every individual can, as a matter of justice, be treated as a representative of the group(s) whose characteristics her or she shares. It is indeed in harmony with Marx, but a dubious assumption at best.

I've found class to be a more comprehensive and accurate systemic indicator.  Are class distinctions and delineations important by grouping and divisive of common human endeavor much less the common endeavor of the Church?  Bernie says that's a big deal.  So, in his way, does the President.  What does James say?  Or Paul?  Or even Luther?

Dave Benke

You raise an important point. The ELCA is very conscious of gender and race in its attempts to be inclusive in its various governing bodies, but never considers class. I keep asking various people at synodical and churchwide levels how many people on their committee or council are living below the poverty line. No one knows because they don't even consider the possibility of such persons serving in leadership roles except perhaps at a congregational level. What would be the chance of someone who didn't graduate from high school being elected to a churchwide office?  Slim to none. Are there any people who work three minimum wage jobs on church vocations committees? Of course not, but they are in our congregations. We talk about poverty as something out there in society to be cured, but rarely consider how it touches on the internal workings of the church. Is the problem that we don't want to label anyone as "poor" because that somehow implies a judgement in a way that "person of color" does not. Or maybe if we don't label something, the problem itself disappears.
#13
2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly / Re: Friday afternoon
August 09, 2019, 03:07:08 PM
Maria DeJesus is 104.
#14
2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly / Re: Thursday afternoon
August 09, 2019, 09:24:01 AM
Quote from: RPG on August 09, 2019, 12:24:52 AM

The resolution below was on the agenda this afternoon but consideration was preempted by time and the orders of the day. Reference and Counsel seemingly deflated it with their substitute motion recommendation. It will be interesting to hear the assembly's response—or if it gets kicked to the Church Council as unfinished business when the assembly ends.


RPG+


Quote
Motion C: Resolution on Reaffirmation of ELCA Social Statement on Abortion
Submitted by: Mr. Jon E. Hale, Southern Ohio Synod, 6F


WHEREAS, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a Social Statement in 1991 in which the ELCA "...opposes ending intrauterine life when a fetus is developed enough to live outside a uterus with the aid of reasonable and necessary technology. If a pregnancy needs to be interrupted after this point, every reasonable and necessary effort should be made to support this life, unless there are lethal fetal abnormalities indicating that the prospective newborn will die very soon."; and


WHEREAS, this 1991 Social Statement was reaffirmed in its entirety by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 1999 Churchwide Assembly; and


WHEREAS, there has been no formal reaffirmation of either the original 1991 Social Statement on Abortion or the 1999 reaffirmation for the past 20 years by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and


WHEREAS, at least seven states currently have no prohibition against late-term abortion, and several states are currently considering or have adopted dropping all laws prohibiting late-term abortion for any reason, up to and including during the birthing process itself; therefore, be it


RESOLVED, that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America reaffirms the church's commitment to and support of the 1991 Social Statement on Abortion, especially that of Section IV.B entitled "Ending a Pregnancy" as it applies to "This church opposes ending intrauterine life when a fetus is developed enough to live outside the uterus with the aid of reasonable and necessary technology. If a pregnancy needs to be interrupted after this point, every reasonable and necessary effort should be made to support this life..." and Section V.C entitled "The Regulation of Abortion," as it applies to "... this church supports legislation that prohibits abortions that are performed after the fetus is determined to be viable, except when the mother's life is threatened...", and as reaffirmed by the 1999 Churchwide Assembly;


To commend the Social Statement on Abortion which was adopted by the 1991 Churchwide Assembly and reaffirmed by the 1999 Churchwide Assembly, as a resource to our pastors and members dealing with this issue;


To continue to oppose legislation that permits abortions that are performed after the fetus is determined to be viable outside the uterus; and
To oppose legislation that permits willful neglect of otherwise viable babies during delivery or post-delivery.


Recommendation of the Reference and Counsel Committee
We recommend a substitute motion to the assembly:

BE IT RESOLVED to lift up to members, congregations and ministers the value of reviewing our social statements as a resource for deepening and broadening moral deliberation in personal and public life. (The social statements and messages are found at: https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Messages )
To commend the Social Statement on Abortion for reading or rereading as the debate and discussion in public intensifies. (It was adopted by the 1991 Churchwide Assembly and reaffirmed by the 1999 Churchwide Assembly as a resource to members, congregations and ministers.)

A motion to reaffirm something is out of order under Robert's Rules of Order because it leaves ambiguous the status of the original resolution if the motion to reaffirm is lost. The substitution by Reference and Counsel is a way around that problem.
#15
It's worth looking at how the poll question was asked. "When making important decisions, how often have you consulted a clergy member or religious leader?" What do people think are important decisions? I have often had church members talk to me about vocational choices, educational issues, and end of life decisions, but rarely about buying a house or car or about moving to a new location. Aren't many of the questions posed to clergy about seeking understanding rather than making a decision about something?
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