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Messages - Bergs

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1
A few observations from my life experience and my opinion.

The last little south Minneapolis ELCA congregation that I was a member of had the worthless/unintended consequence driving sign that banned guns in the church.  Personally the signs are offensive though I've never owned or carried a sidearm.  I have many friends/relatives who do and I appreciate their doing so.  The ELCA pastor convinced most of the congregation including me at the time that "the insurance company insists on it."  I suspect that wasn't the primary reason for our pastor if it were even true.

In the current community church (1.5 miles from the ELCA congregation mentioned above) I attend the signs are not on the church building.  I know of at least one congregant who carries every Sunday.  I feel much safer than in the congregation with the "guns are banned" signs. 

My other experience was last year in Nairobi.  Cars going into Sunday morning service are met by heavily armed police/military who use mirrors to search under your car, open your glove box, check under the seats, etc. etc.  Will it come to that in this country?  God forbid.  At that point why not just stay home and turn on the telly-vangelists.  It was very unnerving to me to be searched on the way into the worship service...to see heavily armed men in uniforms standing guard.  I guess it negates needing a little sign.  It also prohibits anyone from carrying on a Sunday morning.

Finally I submit this story for your consideration.
http://ellegon.com/writings/a_probably_apocryphal_story_joel_rosenberg.php

Brian J. Bergs

2
Your Turn / Sexual harassment: the root of it
« on: 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

3
Your Turn / Re: Remember John Ylvisaker
« on: March 12, 2017, 09:35:08 PM »
Maybe some think that "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry" is corny but I find it one of the most moving pieces of music/poetry.  Those who know me here know me as a conservative hard nosed businessman.  I cannot sing the song without tears welling up and am never able to finish it.  Thank you Jon Ylvisaker and God rest your soul as you experience tHis last surprise for you. 

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

4
Your Turn / Re: ELCA presiding bishop issues statement on Standing Rock
« on: November 28, 2016, 10:30:41 PM »
This popped up in my newsfeed today and it deserves a posting for a couple of reasons.

First is that the commentator makes a great point of the outside influences pouring into the NoDAPL protests.  They are changing the tenor, the goals and tactics.  Did the ELCA presiding bishop help or hurt by encouraging outside donations?  The Montana bishop was so pleased with the internationalization of the protest.  It's now clear that encouraging the outside influences are not helping.   

Second, I would encourage any of you that are interested in this protest to read the interview with David Archambault.  Though I disagree with much of what he says and find many of his facts to be deeply flawed, he stands as a man of integrity.  If the presiding bishop and bishop of Montana interacted with him, I can understand why they became sympathetic to this protest.  Mr. Archambault speaks with clarity and integrity on why he opposes the pipeline route (note that he is not trying to stop it but to re-route it).  Valid concerns and honest brokering will lead to resolution.  There are some reports that Mr. Archambault may not walk his own talk so well but if he means what he says in this interview then I believe a reasonable compromise is possible.  Though he is graciously welcoming even he is obviously getting tired of the outside influence.

The third reason is just for some good old belly laughs.  The idiocy of these outside protesters cannot be overplayed.  The picture of the young lady on the hood of her car (maybe it's her friend's) with the "out of gas" sign while protesting the oil pipeline (how do you think you get that gas sweetheart...unicorn flatulence) is the apex of ironic humor.

https://www.sayanythingblog.com/entry/native-americans-getting-fed-white-hippy-nodapl-protesters/

5
Your Turn / Re: ELCA presiding bishop issues statement on Standing Rock
« on: November 25, 2016, 08:57:06 AM »

Mr. Bergs writes:
But most of rural Minnesota are like my mother, they don't pay attention to what happens in the national office, they love their local congregation.  They live, vote and speak very differently than my urban neighbors.
I comment:
And again... "most"? Really? Furthermore, the issues related to the environment and the afflictions on the homeland of the people there are not merely "rural" matters. They are matters of justice for all of us. And do you think it is a good thing that "rural Minnesota" just ignores anything beyond their barnyard fence? Any slight chance that the environmental concerns - ground water, ground pollution, unintended consequences, etc. - related to the pipeline just might affect them?

Mr. Bergs writes:
That's why I resigned my ELCA membership.  Every Sunday, the political indoctrination from the pulpit was constant.  Who cared about our souls or eternal life, it was more important how one voted. 
I muse:
"Every Sunday"? Including Christmas and Easter?  Actually telling you who to vote for? And from one pulpit? So how did you deal with your dissatisfaction? Ever speak to the pastor? Ever speak to the congregation council? Ever take part in any congregational activities related to the matters you either liked or did not like? Ever look for another ELCA congregation; or did you write off the whole church body because you didn't like your pastor?
Or maybe you want a church that only agrees with you on everything or doesn't bring up anything you don't care to hear about or fits your own definition of what ought to be preached and how? Good luck with that.

Yes, the people in rural Minnesota who see the long oil trains flying over their land understand that the pipeline is actually safer than the railways.  They depend on the land and want clean water as much as anyone.  But they also understand the need and benefit of affordable energy.  They know that the two can be balanced.  And I can say most after the most recent election.

Yes, it was every Sunday, it was at every committee meting, and it was at every small group meeting that partisan politics was the primary focus.  I even spent 20 minutes at choir practice listening to the director on a diatribe against Dick Cheney (with the rest of the choir chortling their Amens).  The re-election of Bush 43 shocked leadership in my church.  Private conversations confirmed this and the political push that was planned.  The other ELCA congregations that I attended and liked planned to leave the ELCA.  I attended many different ones and they all ended up being vapid or rebels.  Plus anytime I opened up anything from the national office I could see the the same political drive.  I resigned my membership.

Rev. Austin:  You are incredibly wrong  on making suppositions about the current church I attend.  They won't even accept me as a member because of my baptismal beliefs.  But every Sunday they preach the Gospel, they are most concerned about the congregation's soul, they have a an incredibly active food shelf/social ministry, the congregation in incredibly diverse (age, race, politics) and act more like the Lutheran Church of my youth.  The lives that are being changed there is incredible.  The sermons are never politically partisan (not much politics at all except to acknowledge the news) and from private conversations (and bumper stickers in the parking lot) I would guess many in leadership vote very differently from me.  It's the kind of diversity that the ELCA lusts after yet happens naturally which is one of the major fruits of the Spirit when the church focuses on the Gospel and not on prescribed committee quotas.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

6
Your Turn / Re: ELCA presiding bishop issues statement on Standing Rock
« on: November 25, 2016, 08:28:12 AM »
The ELCA is a political institution among other political institutions.  Why wouldn't the CEO issue a politically biased statement?  Unfortunately the liberal left is in charge of the ELCA and the winners will issue their biased statements.  The ELCA at this point is not a church per se any longer.

Yup.  That's why I resigned my ELCA membership.  Every Sunday, the political indoctrination from the pulpit was constant.  Who cared about our souls or eternal life, it was more important how one voted. 


What do Jesus' words, "They will know them by their fruit" mean to you? Can't one care about parishioners' eternal lives and care about the fruit that is a witness to Christ's grace and gift of eternal life?

Voting is the most minor of the fruits of the spirit.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

7
Your Turn / Re: ELCA presiding bishop issues statement on Standing Rock
« on: November 24, 2016, 09:30:21 PM »
The ELCA is a political institution among other political institutions.  Why wouldn't the CEO issue a politically biased statement?  Unfortunately the liberal left is in charge of the ELCA and the winners will issue their biased statements.  The ELCA at this point is not a church per se any longer.

Yup.  That's why I resigned my ELCA membership.  Every Sunday, the political indoctrination from the pulpit was constant.  Who cared about our souls or eternal life, it was more important how one voted. 

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

8
Your Turn / Re: ELCA presiding bishop issues statement on Standing Rock
« on: November 24, 2016, 09:22:55 PM »
Bergs writes
Those in "national" offices just see those in "flyover land" as simply a bunch of rubes who should do as they are told.  There are two sides of this conflict and you have a lot of outside influences from all over the world coming in to rile up the situation.
I comment:
Well, ELCA offices are in Chicago, and the Presiding Bishop is from Ohio. I don't think she believes the people just a little west of her are "rubes" and there has been nothing in her ministry to suggest that everyone should obey her. And should it be that people from other parts of the world agree with some people in the local situation, is that terrible? We opposed communism, facism, and apartheid in parts of the world where we did not live.

Bergs writes:
Bishop Eaton from her Chicago office is serving up her advice to her constituency (urban liberals) and Bishop Narum has his flock to minister to who are living through this nightmare.
I comment:
And others, whether in the Narum-flock or not have raised serious questions. Are they to be ignored? And, yes, hard as it is, sometimes we take sides on difficult issues. How do you determine that the "constituency" of the Presiding Bishop is "urban liberals"?

Bergs writes
The local bishop is not appreciative of the presiding bishop's statement and is pushing back...just like the Washington elites who were pushed back in the recent election.
I comment:
Other local bishops do appreciate the statement. And Bishop Narum is allowed to dissent. I do not see how his comments somehow should take over and turn the whole situation into another example of what is wrong with the ELCA/

1.  Chicago is (along with Minneapolis-St.Paul) an oasis in the perceived desert of "fly-over land."  The presiding bishop may have grown up in Ohio but obviously does not reflect the values of Ohio voters.  She is trying to please her own power base within the ELCA.  Her credentials of being from Ohio and currently living in a liberal oasis do not convince this former ELCA member that she thinks of the folks in "fly-over land" as anything more than ATM machines.   Her statement is a slap in the face of many in North Dakota.

2.  The reason I can determine that the presiding bishop's constituency is a bunch of urban liberals is because I live in the middle of a bunch of urban liberals.  Secondly I regularly visit rural Minnesota/North Dakota/Montana.  If her constituency was more rural, she'd never make a statement like this.  But most of rural Minnesota are like my mother, they don't pay attention to what happens in the national office, they love their local congregation.  They live, vote and speak very differently than my urban neighbors. 

3.   Bishop Narum is in a tough spot.  His constituency is likely very unhappy with the presiding bishop. Guaranteed he'll never be considered as presiding bishop material.  Other neighboring bishops can say what they want to say and have their own reasons for saying it.  Good luck to them all.

As I stated earlier, this issue is a microcosm of the national election.  The folks on the ground in fly-over land get galled at the know-it-all national leaders.  They are pushing back in unexpected ways.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN










9
Your Turn / Re: ELCA presiding bishop issues statement on Standing Rock
« on: November 24, 2016, 05:50:19 AM »
This situation is a terrific analogy of the recent national elections. 

Those in "national" offices just see those in "flyover land" as simply a bunch of rubes who should do as they are told.  There are two sides of this conflict and you have a lot of outside influences from all over the world coming in to rile up the situation.  Bishop Eaton from her Chicago office is serving up her advice to her constituency (urban liberals) and Bishop Narum has his flock to minister to who are living through this nightmare.  Those on the ground are seeing the "Occupy Wall Street" folks filing in to add their stupidity to a situation that is entirely solvable by local people who all want respect and clean water.  The local bishop is not appreciative of the presiding bishop's statement and is pushing back...just like the Washington elites who were pushed back in the recent election.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
(whose marriage took place in a congregation of what is now in the Western North Dakota ELCA)



10
Forum Blogs / Re: Pastoral care . . . maybe?
« on: November 10, 2016, 10:45:02 PM »
As a Hennepin County employee I know many of my co-workers are very concerned about the outcome of the election.  Many of them are just plain apoplectic.  The very well-spoken county administrator who has always been quite even handed in his politics had this to say to employees.

Quote
All elections have the ability to impact federal, state and local governments in a variety of ways.This election is no different and it is too soon to fully realize what those impacts may be.
My message today is that Hennepin County, as an organization, will remain true to its course and values. As we continue to address the challenges facing our country and community, our mission, vision and overarching goals will guide us in providing the best services to our residents. We will rely on our five core values to support respect and creativity as we collaborate with colleagues and work with our customers and partners. The value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace as reflected in our community is strong.
We are a great organization, part of a great state, in a great country. We will respond together to address any future changes. I thank you for your commitment to public service and Hennepin County.
David Hough
County Administrator

It strikes a much better tone than Bishop Mark's message.  Bishop Mark might take a note.  Assure his flock that their commitment to the Risen Lord cannot be shaken by the rulers of this world and the mission for the people of God is not changed.  We live in the world that our glorious Lord has created and we are created just a little lower than the angels.  We will respond to this world in a manner consistent with God's revelation to us.  Amen.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

11
Your Turn / Re: Very powerful
« on: October 12, 2016, 09:48:32 PM »
This was beautiful to listen to.  Thank you for posting.  It is such a blessing to see Christians worship freely in Tblisi.  When I visited there in 1979 they were unable to worship freely.  We visited churches but more as a museum  It would have been wonderful to have heard such beautiful music in those places.

Beautiful.  Thank you.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

12
Your Turn / Re: Any Trump supporters inclined to reconsider?
« on: October 08, 2016, 10:25:04 PM »
Let me just encourage all of us to pray. 

Normally I find myself holding my nose while I vote in an election.  This year the major party candidates are both utterly despicable, way more than I can ever remember.  Today's revelation is no more stupid than anything either one has said. 

Why is this something that should move opinion except some talking heads say it should.  Is anyone surprised that Trump would say something like this?  This is totally in character for him.  Would it be a surprise to anyone if a video existed of Hillary saying there is a private persona and a public persona and that is why she constantly lies. 

As a historian, I can find nothing even close to this years despicable major party candidates.    All I can think to do is pray.  God is allowing us to have the government leaders we deserve.  That should bring everyone of us to our knees in supplication.  Lord have mercy on us.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

13
Your Turn / Peaceful Coexistence USCCR report
« on: 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.

http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/Peaceful-Coexistence-09-07-16.PDF

Quote
The 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.

Quote
As 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


14
Your Turn / Re: SOMEBODY HELP ME!
« on: August 17, 2016, 09:50:59 PM »
Legally, it doesn't matter what any of us believes.
And my long experience has taught me that anybody is potentially guilty of anything.
And OK then, put a conditional on prayers for the victim, e.g. "and, Lord, if there is a victim in this situation...."

This is good, perhaps I can suggest a nuance...pray for the accuser.  If the priest were as much of an SOB, then an accuser might be trying to do him harm.  On the other hand as Rev. Austin wisely points out, you do never know.  Pray for the accuser and the priest that God may give all involved wisdom, understanding and a soft heart.  Whatever the truth is, may God give rest to all involved.

Brian J. Bergs,
Minneapolis, MN

15
Your Turn / Re: God, Gays and the Atlanta Fire Department
« on: August 12, 2016, 10:34:46 PM »
Finally on your orthodox Jewish question, I have worked with ultra orthodox Jews.  We work in healthcare, I would even raise your stakes beyond tax collection that a particular machine goes down in the operating room and a desperately ill patient will die if the machine is not fixed.  I put this question to my co-worker one day about a similar situation.  He was very clear that an orthodox Jew would accommodate by either finding someone else to do the job or do it himself for no pay.  I think our Beloved Jesus even alluded that the orthodox Jews of his day would save a farm animal on the Sabbath if said animal was in mortal danger.  So say it is an ultra ultra ultra ultra orthodox Jew.  My answer to you would be to fire the guy’s manager for hiring a fellow for a job where it is a 24-7-365 kind of job.  Don’t hire a person who cannot fulfill that job.  That should be explained to the employee and manager and if the employee cannot fulfill the 24-7-365 job and an accommodation could not be made, shame on the manager.    Good question and I have given you a good answer.



Orthodox Jews do put saving a life above keeping the sabbath, but paying taxes is not saving a life, nor were any of Jesus' healings on the sabbath. Thus, the Pharisees accused him of breaking sabbath laws. He could have waited until sundown and healed.

OK, I am not sure how that changes any part of my answer for Rev. Austin.  If this were a 24-7-365 computer job then the manager was incorrect in hiring someone who could not fulfill that function.  I have hired many technical jobs and there was an expectation that the person be available 24--7-365.  That was a question in the interview.  If a candidate could not answer affirmatively that they were available 24-7-365 I had to have a way around it or find a different candidate.  If I hired someone who said they could not be available 24-7-365, that would be on my shoulders and I would have no reason to fire the employee. 

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

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