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Messages - Dave Benke

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1
Hmm. I know and HIGHLY regard both men. And I believe that they each bring gifts that would be of great use to the Church in the formation of seminarians. I donít think thereís a ďclear choiceĒ at all, except maybe in the area of age. The very nature of it will probably lead to a shorter time as CSL president for Joel than for Tom. Joel is my age; Tom earned his M.Div. in 1997, so eleven or twelve years younger. For one who advocates for the younger voice, Iím a little surprised at your dismissal of Tom! Again, let me reiterate: either is a truly great man, and either will prove a blessing indeed to the Church (as both already have!). Indeed, a win/win situation!

Just my opinion, Will.  Tom Rggers didnít as I recall make the final list either the last time or this time (the first time through) so what changed?  What puts him above the other internal candidates, some of whom did make the earlier finalist lists?  These are just straight ahead questions especially with Joel being the other finalist. 

Dave Benke

2
To anyone on the outside of the process, there's a clear choice between the two finalists.  Joel Lehenbauer's experience in administering and organizing the theological department of the national church body for a significant period of time, working with faculty of both seminaries through all that time, and gaining an appreciation of the breadth and scope of the Synod and its significant issues of interpretation in so doing are all of far, far greater reach than the experience and wisdom set of Thomas Egger. 

The predecessor, Dale Meyer, was superbly gifted for the tasks he undertook in his administration, and is (my opinion) a tough act to follow, with a more difficult act yet being the diminution of the congregations of Synod needing pastors in general and the specifics of the LCMS world as it will emerge after the pandemic. 

Courage and clarity will be required.  Joel Lehenbauer has been able to navigate the choppy waters of LCMS interactions between the theology on paper and the practice out in the field in an adept and Gospel-centered way.  To me he's far and away the better choice.

Dave Benke

3
Your Turn / Re: Dr. Carl Schalk - Rest in Peace
« on: Yesterday at 08:27:34 PM »
Ack, I canít not put up a few more:

https://youtu.be/H52Rgn-Khj4

Before the Marvel of This Night

https://youtu.be/X06XFOSq7eM

Where Shepherds Lately

I made a bargain with our mostly Caribbean choir to bring these two songs into our Christmas repertoire, and once they put together words and music, they were deeply appreciative.  Carl Schalk was a treasure to the Church on earth, and now rests in peace in the Church triumphant.

Dave Benke

4
Your Turn / Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« on: Yesterday at 08:25:32 PM »
The reason for the district and national convention delay should be, with that time lag, to gather and regroup first locally and then nationally around Word and Sacrament and in many opportunities for study and for fellowship in person, to regain the sense of the larger Body of Christ, to ponder what has been lost and what has been gained in wisdom and direction. 

The proposal to go to "another venue" (i.e. yet another online/virtual methodology) for most other things except elections is simply to envision that the purpose of conventions is elections.  Most particularly, in this special season for Christ's Church, the purpose must be to gather, regroup, share and grow as God's people. 

Don't delay - vote today - to delay. 

Dave Benke

5
Your Turn / Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« on: Yesterday at 12:32:02 PM »
Tick Tock Tick Tock, what happens if say only 10% of churches weigh in on the convention postponement?

I forgot how the district conventions tie into the national framework.  But if there's a need for X and Y to be done say 9 months prior to the national convention, then the last district conventions would have to be in October.  Lots of rushing around, pending some very real-world issues with the distribution and effect of the vaccine.  And therefore perhaps not even possible.  For this reason alone, the words from the national Board of Directors seemed to me ill-chosen. 

Dave Benke

6
Your Turn / Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« on: January 22, 2021, 09:00:30 PM »
Loss is an overarching theme.  Loss of time, of freedom to move, of worship in person, of lives. 

I will be conducting five funerals in the next week, of parishioners, friends, colleagues.  And due to a positive COVID-19 case in our school, our church and school have been closed for over two weeks, so we're using every other medium we can to keep folks informed and prayed for.  My overall feeling is that I've seen a lot of people get older quicker in the last year, isolated and numb, even while we reach one another with love in Christ in these less comfortable new ways.

So last week I called out to Milwaukee, my birthplace and spiritual home, and discovered what I had heard was true - our family, and extended family's, congregation is going to close.  What about my confirmation record?  My report cards?  Our wedding record?  My ordination?  If that's how your name is written in the book of life, where are they taking the book?

In thinking about my childhood days, today then brought another blow.  Of all the Milwaukee Braves fans in the 50s and early 60s, I was near the top of the heap.  And of all the Braves fans who knew in their heart that the best baseball player who ever played was Hank Aaron, I am in the inner sanctum of that club.  I can list four or five key ingredients in my vocational desire to serve in multi-cultural and inner urban ministry.  One of them is Hank Aaron, who could just stone play.  Who carried himself with quiet dignity.  Who let his bat do the talking.  The first time I heard a Black person speak was at age 7 at a father-son sports banquet at Christ Memorial in the fall of 1953.  Billy Bruton gave the keynote, a speech about faith and life to an all-white audience in which he put Jesus right up there with him at the podium.  It was amazing to me as a little guy - Billy Bruton was a Christian.  (You may know that Lutheran Day at County Stadium was sold out then, and it was called "Andy Pafko" day because Andy was a Slovak Lutheran) The next spring Hank Aaron arrived on the scene, and lived no more than a couple of blocks from our north side home.  All the other kids I hung out with were crazy for Eddie Mathews.  So when the little gangs of us - remember we were 8-10 years old - took the bus and train and got in for 35 cent bleacher tix for a Sunday double-header without parental accompaniment - they would head off to right field and I would spend the afternoon in left waiting for Aaron to hit one out.  All of his early homers were about ten feet off the ground max - bullet line drives.  I tried to model my game that way - let the bat do the talking, line drives to all fields, all of it, not as a slugger, but as an all-around player. 

Behind me in my home office is my best autographed ball -
Best wishes
To Pastor David
Hank Aaron

Dave Benke
Poignant. You can't go home again. You can only look forward to arriving there for the first time.

We just started a four week zoom study of John Nunes's new book Meant for More. He graciously volunteered to lead the study from New York. His is a very upbeat view of the future, with a focus away from loss and toward pursuit of "more" not in a crass sense but in an Augustinian directing of the soul toward its proper ends. It is refreshing but challenging. The genuine emotion, passion, and energy of sensing loss can be a positive, but it does not go there by itself.

Agreed.  In all these decades of dealing with folks going through the grief process, the one learning is that you can't wedge it in a box and tell it to go away.  After September 11 a couple of our pastors said they were done with any grief and remembrance around Thanksgiving, 2001.  Moving on.  I wondered aloud whether they had asked their congregants about that timeline.  Of course, the answer was no. 

My message last Wednesday evening after the inauguration was on the power of the cross, God's wisdom and actual, real, permanent power.

Dave Benke

7
Your Turn / Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« on: January 22, 2021, 08:18:35 PM »
Loss is an overarching theme.  Loss of time, of freedom to move, of worship in person, of lives. 

I will be conducting five funerals in the next week, of parishioners, friends, colleagues.  And due to a positive COVID-19 case in our school, our church and school have been closed for over two weeks, so we're using every other medium we can to keep folks informed and prayed for.  My overall feeling is that I've seen a lot of people get older quicker in the last year, isolated and numb, even while we reach one another with love in Christ in these less comfortable new ways.

So last week I called out to Milwaukee, my birthplace and spiritual home, and discovered what I had heard was true - our family, and extended family's, congregation is going to close.  What about my confirmation record?  My report cards?  Our wedding record?  My ordination?  If that's how your name is written in the book of life, where are they taking the book?

In thinking about my childhood days, today then brought another blow.  Of all the Milwaukee Braves fans in the 50s and early 60s, I was near the top of the heap.  And of all the Braves fans who knew in their heart that the best baseball player who ever played was Hank Aaron, I am in the inner sanctum of that club.  I can list four or five key ingredients in my vocational desire to serve in multi-cultural and inner urban ministry.  One of them is Hank Aaron, who could just stone play.  Who carried himself with quiet dignity.  Who let his bat do the talking.  The first time I heard a Black person speak was at age 7 at a father-son sports banquet at Christ Memorial in the fall of 1953.  Billy Bruton gave the keynote, a speech about faith and life to an all-white audience in which he put Jesus right up there with him at the podium.  It was amazing to me as a little guy - Billy Bruton was a Christian.  (You may know that Lutheran Day at County Stadium was sold out then, and it was called "Andy Pafko" day because Andy was a Slovak Lutheran) The next spring Hank Aaron arrived on the scene, and lived no more than a couple of blocks from our north side home.  All the other kids I hung out with were crazy for Eddie Mathews.  So when the little gangs of us - remember we were 8-10 years old - took the bus and train and got in for 35 cent bleacher tix for a Sunday double-header without parental accompaniment - they would head off to right field and I would spend the afternoon in left waiting for Aaron to hit one out.  All of his early homers were about ten feet off the ground max - bullet line drives.  I tried to model my game that way - let the bat do the talking, line drives to all fields, all of it, not as a slugger, but as an all-around player. 

Behind me in my home office is my best autographed ball -
Best wishes
To Pastor David
Hank Aaron

Dave Benke

8
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 09:17:44 AM »
"White House says Biden is a 'devout Catholic' when asked about abortion policies
Cardinal Raymond Burke has said Biden was not a 'Catholic in good standing.'"

 "[The Catholic Catechism] reads: 'The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.' The Catechism also warns that 'when the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined.'"

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/white-house-psaki-biden-devout-catholic

I guess the question becomes, "Where is the line drawn between 'a devout Catholic' and a CINO?"

Agreed on the question.  The answer, part of an overall and larger question, is that we don't know, and won't know much about religious practice/belief/actual flag planting until we're back in the game which I would say is next year.  Every statistic about religious practice and belief is glum.  This from Gallup is unfortunately two years old and very glum:  https://news.gallup.com/poll/248837/church-membership-down-sharply-past-two-decades.aspx.  If written today it would be glummer.  I would posit that's where some of our energy could and should be aimed on this board, both in analysis, prognosis and strategy.

In terms of this thread, the percentage of CINOs, then, is most likely growing at the same or greater rate than the decline in Catholic mass attendance (https://news.gallup.com/poll/232226/church-attendance-among-catholics-resumes-downward-slide.aspx - again a couple of years old in the statistics).  For those folks, and here that would include a large percentage who disagree with official doctrine on a variety of issues, Joe Biden is a mass-attending, honor your priest and bishop Catholic.  That group represents, I'm pretty sure, well in the majority of Catholics, maybe at the 60-40 level or more.  In addtion, Biden is a more regular Catholic than half the Catholics who call themselves Catholic, so he becomes an example of the good - that is, someone who goes to Mass.

The religious part of the cultural wars, as the overall participant list dwindles and becomes glummer, is left to those at the edges, the more doctrinally inclined, because the far larger group in the middle is dropping out. 

Dave Benke

9
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 21, 2021, 08:46:17 PM »
Interesting piece in WSJ by Kimberly Strassel on President Bidenís Inaugural Day Purge... Kind of puts things in a different perspective than all glowy and hopeful.

At the same time, today was the day as one newscaster put it, that Brooklynite "Tony Fauci Got His Groove Back On."  He used more multi-syllable words in ten minutes explaining the current status of COVID-19 than in the prior year.  https://www.aol.com/news/dr-fauci-working-biden-white-225641355.html

Dave Benke

10
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 21, 2021, 08:44:14 PM »
Peter writes:
Judgmental and mean words about the president? Questioning his sincerity? What is the forum coming to? Please stay on topic and not let this degenerate into another locked thread.
I muse:
Someone raised the issue of President Biden's "credentials" as a Roman Catholic; and it seems clear that at least one, possibly two or three people here believe that he cannot be truly Roman Catholic and hold the views he holds on laws and regulations relating to abortions. They therefore question his references to his faith as insincere, cynical or lacking proper "credentials."
Hard reality, folks. Millions and millions of active, practicing, Roman Catholics, people who go to mass regularly, have their children baptized and confirmed, respect their priests and love watching the Christmas Eve mass from the Vatican hold "pro choice" views on abortion legislation. Who are we to make that one issue a test of one's "credentials" as a Roman Catholic?
President Biden's Roman Catholic faith was referenced in the inauguration, and clergy from other parts of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church also took part. Let it go at that.

I am the one who unfortunately used the term "credentials," which has clearly not advanced the discussion, but may be causing it to derail. That was not my intention, and I tried to clarify that I am not judging his faith, I was simply wondering 'out loud' how he reconciles this conflict with his own church.  For the record I do believe that Pres. Biden can be a Catholic and can hold views contrary to that church's teachings.  It's done all the time by people in a variety of church bodies, including my own.  However, he has received the censure of the US bishops and we know that at least one priest refused to commune him.  The Catholic church, at least, is now wrestling with how to deal with Biden as one of their own. Their struggle, not mine. His faith, not my responsibility.

It belongs on its own thread, if that is possible, namely, how the Equality Act, championed by Biden, may impact the church, including Biden's own church body.  That has the possibility for getting overly political as well, so I'm not going to go there.  I'll just watch the news and see where it all goes from there.

Okay, back to the inauguration.....

In terms of the inauguration itself, President Biden's connection to his faith was demonstrated by those hierarchically connected to his faith:
Wilton Cardinal Gregory, who delivered the prayer at the memorial service for COVID-19 victims on January 19
Wilton Cardinal Gregory/Msgr. Jameson, who said Mass at which the Bidens received the Eucharist on the morning of January 20
Fr. Leo J. O'Donovan, who prayed at the inauguration

The views of the US Catholic Bishops' Conference were contrasted with the greeting and blessing of Pope Francis in this article:
https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/13784/pope-sends-abundance-of-blessings-to-joe-biden.

The inauguration events themselves featured Roman Catholic clergy bringing an abundance of visible public support for the President.

Dave Benke

11
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 20, 2021, 02:37:18 PM »
The most uncredited participant? That was the "wiper," the guy in the heavy coat and scarf who lumbered up to the podium between speakers to wipe it down.

Yes to the wiper, who along with JLo had a heavy-enough coat for the day, and a scarf to boot.  We kept begging all the oldsters out there to get a hat, or a cap, something on their head.  I was taught very clearly in high school sports that 75-90% of the body heat goes out through the head, so always wear a hat or cap in the winter.  This is before I was folliclyThen if the flag is raised, or some official ceremony takes place, take off the hat for that portion.  No hats - begging for a nice winter head cold.

Dave Benke

12
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 20, 2021, 12:58:06 PM »
The COVID memorial last night with Wilton Cardinal Gregory providing the prayer/meditation, was a ritual of healing for me and I would think for all those of us who have been hard-hit by death and sickness from the virus over these months.  Near-classmate Dr. Ken Doka has written on the importance of public rituals of healing as accompanying the more intimate/personal/family rituals carried out by ministers of religion; last night was a classic example.  Visuals, ritual, prayers and songs last night were all appropriate.  The prayers and intercessions offered today were, in the same vein, appropriate to the tenor of these specific times.

Dave Benke

13
Your Turn / Re: The Church's Response to Government and Governing
« on: January 19, 2021, 01:50:54 PM »
Dave,

Interesting. I did a quick google and saw this:

https://www.nytimes.com/1933/04/06/archives/nazis-to-control-lutheran-church-its-constitution-will-be-rewritten.html

Never knew that "woke" had such a rich history.   ;)

That is quite an amazing headline. 

My cardiologist is German (Bavarian), and his dad lived through the WWII era.   He recounted his dad stating that Saxony produced the worst of the Nazis and the worst the Communists - steer clear of Saxony at all costs.  Excluding, of course, Lutherstadt/Wittenberg (!).

Dave Benke

15
Your Turn / Re: The Church's Response to Government and Governing
« on: January 19, 2021, 12:18:49 PM »
I think a lot of it has to do with an erosion of trust in our institutions.  Add to this the massive amount of information we have access to and it can be really hard to filter, especially in an age in which sensational headlines and stories abound.  I don't think we realize how much propaganda we are fed on a daily basis and that a good portion of it tends to come from once reputable sources like the NY Times who were supposed to serve as a bulwark against corruption and deceit.  That's mostly gone; the beginning of the end of which was marked by their support for the Iraq War.  Former NY Times Journalist Chris Hedges has much to say on that specific topic.  Many solid journalists are jumping ship and going independent because they are constrained from doing real journalistic work.  We saw this recently with Glenn Greenwald (a conservative by no stretch of the imagination) leaving the Intercept because they refused to publish his work on Biden's corruption. The editors did so because they feared it would negatively impact the election of Joe Biden. 

Peace,
Scott+

I agree. Lack of trust in media outlets plays a significant role, indeed. My own reminder of that recently was when the headlines started rolling in about the Trump rally in DC becoming an invasion of the Capitol building. Where was I supposed to go to get an un-slanted view of the plain facts on the ground? CNN? New York Times? Fox News? Where?

In fairness to the media, though, with the advent of social media, nothing has time to be vetted and double-checked. Again, my own window on this reality: I was in the firehouse just outside Sandy Hook School with family members awaiting news of their children on 12/14. When I exited briefly to receive a phone call was when I realized the firehouse was surrounded (just beyond the cordon) by hordes of newsmedia. I could have been on any news channel or spoken with any major news source I chose to make a comment to... and I could have said absolutely anything I wanted to say... and it would have gone out as "Sources on-site say..." And it would have gone out to the world whether I was telling the truth or not. By the time there was any chance to double-check it, other new stories would have been written quoting other sources. I get the feeling that a retraction used to be a real thing and the threat of one threatened a reporter's livelihood. No longer... not if my experiences (this and many others in the wake of 12/14) are indicative.

In some ways, though, the media reality is only part of what feeds the conspiracy theory beast. I think an even bigger factor is powerlessness. When we feel powerless to affect something then we look for more manageable explanations. Especially if that something is something that we believe threatens us or which in itself frightens or shocks us. So, sticking with 12/14, I would rather not live in a world where a crazed young man killed 20 children and 6 educators for no discernable reason. I would rather live in a world where that was all pretend, just a trick by the government to take away my freedom. And then those aren't parents grieving the brutal loss of a child, they would just be actors pretending. And now I wouldn't be powerless in the face of such evil, but I would actually have the power... because they didn't fool me, they didn't pull the wool over my eyes. I know the truth and I'm nobody's fool.

It's seductive. And it is devastating. As I have pointed out: I have extended family members that aren't sure 12/14 really happened... and I did two of the funerals myself.

In the end, it is the draw of personal power in the face of powerlessness. It is the need to be god, all-knowing and powerful. And that's why I call it idolatry.

Given what I have seen of conspiracy theories' appeal, and given what I have seen of pentecostalism's belief in direct revelation, it doesn't surprise me that things like QAnon and movements like the New Apostolic Reformation are becoming powerful traveling companions within Christianity.

The question shifts to how faithful Christians can or should counteract it...

The powerlessness combined with an overabundance of information is a recipe for disaster.  I agree with you that it begins with a sense of powerlessness.  The John Birch Society has always been a thing, but Alex Jonesí reach and influence is on a level that I donít think they could have ever imagined was possible.  And thatís the strange mix that those in Washington and in the media fail to see, which is in part why President-elect Biden is their answer.   I fear that we will get more of the same, which will not bridge the divide but instead widen it. Current efforts at censorship will only make this worse for all of us as it serves to validate the conspiracy theory mindset. 

Regarding counteracting, I shared this previously on the thread, which is what might be called a neo-apocalyptic framework.  That is an understanding that is derived from and begins from the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  I think as Lutherans our weak spot (which is also our strength) is our overemphasis on soteriology which leaves us vulnerable to having a truncated view of discipleship.  This prompts me to be a little wary of our application of the Two Kingdoms paradigm highlighted in this thread (sorry Dave).  I think itís too simplified and stratified for an increasingly complex world and gives legitimization to things that we need to give more thought to.  A powerful image is the chapel at West Point that Dave Benke referenced earlier on this thread which speaks to the clear demarcation between church and state that doesnít really exist anymore (which Tom Pearson noted above).  If you form a strong Lordship understanding you are in a better position to discern the powers and the principalities which come in the form of tempting ideologies like Trumpism or identitarianism or nationalistic militarism.  Thus, ďmy kingdom is not from this worldĒ reminds us that our kingdom is not a product of this world like those others and that the words and actions of our Lord can help us discern that.  We wonít become as invested in political ideologies, though we can bear witness to constructive ways for governing and living.  To use Alex Jones as example he claims to be a Christian, but, man, he loves to talk about his 2nd amendment rights and other crazy things that bespeaks anxiousness, a spirit of this age.   But one needs the scaffolding to see through that and I fear that many American Christians donít have that and in a weird way the Two Kingdoms can undergird a false understanding rather than amend it.  I recognize that I may read like an Anabaptist here, but thatís not what I am going for, rather I am saying that we first need to pay close attention to the words and actions of Jesus as we discern the powers and principalities, as we seek to live as good citizens in the left hand realm.  Iím saying we need to do a better job of remembering that Romans 13:1-7 is surrounded by calls to non-conformity, to put on Christ, to love and bless oneís enemies. 

I hope that makes sense.
 
Peace,
Scott

I agree with you in large part, Scott.  Richard Niebuhr's point (I''m sure I've made it on this board before) in Christ and Culture is that Lutherans were ripe soil for Nazi-ism because of their tendency to get caught on the point of their various paradoxes, and thus become passive in the civil realm.  He saw it, knew what it would produce, and hit the nail on the head for the Lutherans of that time in that space, sort of.  Because some of the nastiest Nazis were Lutheran.  They weren't passive then.  They got off the parodox by jumping into authoritarianism.  Meaning the power and the tug of the prevailing culture over-topped the need to stay out of the public sphere. 

Having said that, Lutherans focused on the theology of the cross must maintain the priority of the Incarnate Word, nail-pierced hands through suffering and death, rather than the "in hoc signo vinces" sovereignty schemes that promise Empire in the here and now.  The way beyond that conundrum - in my opinion - is First Article creedal Christianity, which centers on reason, righteousness and justice in the civil world not as an ultimate but as a necessary penultimate, building through storm and duress a society that utilizes the gifts given individually and in common to humans who are all in that sense children of God.  All of that in order that the world might see that it is God who preserves us body, mind and spirit in society and protects us from evil: 

What does this mean? I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.


Evangelical and Catholic does not mean Second Article Only.  It is a fully creedal way of theology and practice.

Dave Benke

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