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Messages - Michael_Rothaar

Your Turn / Re: Bishop Eaton's take on the the conflict
October 13, 2023, 05:01:50 PM
Quote"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?" —Psalm 22:1

Dear church,

As Lutherans, we are accustomed to holding tension between two truths. Thus the ELCA denounces the egregious acts of Hamas, acts that have led to unspeakable loss of life and hope. At the same time the ELCA denounces the indiscriminate retaliation of Israel against the Palestinian people, both Christian and Muslim.

For the past week we have borne witness to the horrors of the escalating crisis between Israel and Hamas. We also watch a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza as Israel blocks food, water, fuel and medical supplies and as airstrikes continue to cause unbearable civilian casualties ahead of a just-announced ground assault. We see Israelis and families around the world in the agonizing wait for word about the fate of loved ones killed or taken hostage by Hamas. We are in anguish, grieving and praying for all people who are living in trauma, fear and uncertainty.

Among us are Palestinian Lutherans who are fearful for their families, their communities and their homeland. In our communities we have Jewish and Muslim neighbors, who are also facing the horrors of this crisis and its impact on their loved ones.

It is difficult to find words that suffice in the complexity of this moment, and in the web of relationships that bind us together, as church, with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and our interreligious partners. Yet God has called us to be a people who stand with others amid suffering.

We must also call a thing a thing. The power exerted against all Palestinian people — through the occupation, the expansion of settlements and the escalating violence — must be called out as a root cause of what we are witnessing. We are committed to our long-standing accompaniment of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

The God who liberates us calls us to be a liberating witness. May it be so.

In Christ,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

I seldom post here anymore. But I can't resist. Bishop Eaton's message is as predictable as it is sickening.
Your Turn / Re: Sex. Gender. What's the Difference?
March 02, 2021, 04:10:22 PM
Quote from: Charles Austin on March 01, 2021, 05:21:55 PM
Pastor Rothaar writes:
There's sure no hope for the church to have much influence on them!
I ask:
Really? Why?

Top of my head:

  • Declining membership, especially with respect to child-rearing young adults.
  • Loss of authoritative status in society.
  • Regarded by many -- perhaps a majority in the U.S. -- as sexually repressive or sexually exploitative or both.
  • Timidity by clergy to engage in discussion on controversial topics, for fear of alienating current members.
  • For mainline Protestants (including ELCA): lack of institutional support for traditional position in the culture wars.

Shorter answer: no hope for the church to have influence on opinions about human sexuality because nobody's asking.
And to anticipate: OK, maybe not "nobody."
Your Turn / Re: Sex. Gender. What's the Difference?
March 01, 2021, 04:41:11 PM
Quote from: J. Thomas Shelley on February 27, 2021, 07:41:19 PM
Quote from: jebutler on February 27, 2021, 04:34:51 PM
One of the more interesting things is how the number of LGBT people has grown among Generation Z. First, the percent of the population that identifies as LGBT has grown two full percentage points in the last eight years (3.5% to 5.6%). Almost all of that growth is attributable to Gen Z of which an incredible 15.6% identify as LBGT (9% of Millennials also identify as LGBT, as opposed to 3% and less for Gen X and older).

The rate of growth is an astonishing SIXTY percent.

5.6 - 3.5 = 2.1

(2.1/3.5) * 100 = 60

At that rate, eight years from now 8.96 % of the population will so identify.

Kyrie eleison.

Worth noting as commentary on the recent Gallup report cited by JEButler. Let's hope for a "regression to the mean" when these kids get a bit older. There's sure no hope for the church to have much influence on them!
Your Turn / Re: Sex. Gender. What's the Difference?
February 27, 2021, 03:06:48 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 27, 2021, 12:38:52 PM
The following quote is part of a longer article (linked below) called: "Gender: When the body and brain disagree."
... As I've understood it, and as this paragraphs state: sex is about genitalia; gender is about "cultural accepted norms," gender identity takes place in the brain: "our inner sense of who we are.",how%20they%20dress%20or%20behave.

For more than 99 percent of the world's population, gender identity and biological sex will agree. Such a person is called cisgender. (The Latin prefix cis- means "on the same side.") But a small share of people experiences a mismatch between sex and gender.

Some of these people grow up feeling like they aren't the gender the rest of the world — including their parents and doctors — sees them as. This experience is called transgender. The term transgender is distinct from one's sexual orientation, meaning whether a person is attracted to males or females.

In addition to the fair criticism offered by Pastor Engebretson, I'd call attention to the statement in Brian's article that folks with such an affliction are well under 1% of all the folks there are. But from currently popular media treatment, one would be pardoned for believing the number to be much, much higher. Just as surveys of adolescents reveal their belief that the incidence of homosexuality in the general population is a substantial multiple of its actual occurence. This is the result of control of the flow of information.

Most have seen this:

'Ryan Anderson's When Harry Became Sally was removed from Amazon's cyber shelves [February 21], three years after the controversial best-seller was published on February 20, 2018.

"In 2018, the book hit No. 1 on two of Amazon's best-seller list before it was even released, but sparked controversy for arguing that society's growing acceptance of transgender people stems more from ideology than science."

I'm not sure why the gay movement has attached itself to this new ideology with so much angry and fervent determination. Is it as simple as continuing to be political relevant after "gay rights" have beeen achieved, or the need for their organizations to have causes to generate contributions? In any case, it now seems that in practice, "transgender" simply means a person who likes pretending they're the opposite sex, and whose pretense is demanded by advocates to be universally recognized as fact. And, if House Democrats have their way, as law.
Your Turn / Re: Valpo mascot task force
February 26, 2021, 04:14:12 PM

A couple years ago, one of my sons looked at Capital University.  On his campus tour, the guide somewhat sheepishly mentioned the Lutheran affiliation, but immediately reassured that group that this wouldn't really affect their college experience.  My son ended up going to Gannon University, an RC school that seemed more willing to embrace its identity as a religious institution.


Capital University (Columbus, Ohio) also recently eliminated the "Crusader" mascot and moniker. My wife and I -- both graduates -- replied to the survey when the change was under consideration, and are now being contacted regularly, to urge us to go to the website gathering suggestions for a new symbol. Two of my kids are Valpo graduates -- and the third used to work there -- so CrusaderCanceling has had an impact on our family (however slight).

Since Trinity Seminary is now part of Capital again (after becoming independent in the 1960 TALC merger) perhaps campus tour guides will be more willing to embrace the university's traditional roots (however unlikely).
Your Turn / Re: Scott Weidler, RIP
January 25, 2021, 02:58:16 PM
Scott was a gifted colleague on the ELCA churchwide staff. Among his many gifts were that he was not only able to express himself through instrumental and vocal music, but was able to convey significant meaning through the spoken and written word. (I remember him telling me once, before we were interviewing people for a staff musician position, "Now remember, these people have spent their lives communicating through their art -- don't expect them to speak. Or write.") He was an exception to his own rule of thumb -- he wrote clearly and persuasively, and he was very effective as a workshop leader.

I'm saddened by the loss. May angels attend him.
Your Turn / Re: The meaning of closed churches
March 18, 2020, 12:30:08 PM
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service posted this yesterday as part of a longer message:

In 1527, as the Black Death shook the very foundations of society, Martin Luther wrote a letter entitled Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague. In it, he states, "I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence." He goes on to emphasize the duty to care for the neighbor, the responsibility of government to protect and provide services to its citizens, a caution about recklessness, and the importance of science, medicine, and common sense.
Quote from: Pasgolf on February 22, 2017, 11:26:52 AM
      Akyol readily admits that his is a currently minority position in world Islam, but insists that such a position is essential if the Islamic world is to move beyond the fundamentalist stuck point in which much of it is currently locked.  I think he may well be onto some solid insight here. 

This morning's Chicago Tribune carried an opinion piece that gave me a perspective on which I've never or seldom reflected.

Loubna El Amine is an assistant professor in the department of political science at Northwestern University. She says, "I am a Muslim. I do not pray. I do not fast during Ramadan. I drink alcohol and eat pork. I do not believe in God. But I identify as a Muslim. Islam is a large part of the world I grew up in; it is inseparable from home." By all means, read the rest to catch the nostalgia with which she empathizes and identifies.

OK, so I know about Lutherans (or whatever) in Name Only. Cafeteria Catholics. Secular Jews. Jack Mormons. Cultural Christians.
And I've known there are more secularized forms of Islam when it comes to social organization and more diverse populations (e.g. Turkey).
But now I wonder -- how big is the class of people to whom "orthodox" or "actual" Muslims would say, "No, you're not," in response to their self-identification without belief.

And might interreligious groups have something to discuss about this -- like whether people are more prone to distort and misuse a faith system when it is, for them, merely "a memory, a ritual or a culture."
Quote from: Scotty8284 on November 02, 2016, 10:04:33 AM
This article reports on the efforts of universities taking steps to actively purge male students of what's been labeled "toxic masculinity.":

Of interest:
which is Terry Mattingly's summary of two of his columns and his latest Crossroads podcast.

He bases his comments on recent lectures by the conservative Roman Catholic author of a 1999 book: Leon Podles, "The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity."

"[Podles] is talking about trends of feminization in style, culture and content that go back into the Middle Ages, in the churches of the West (think Europe and the Americas, in particular).  ... Podles kept returning to two themes. First, in the Christian West faith increasingly focused on emotions and feelings, as opposed to action, service and sacrifice. Then this approach soaked into worship and sacred art."
Quote from: Dave Benke on October 31, 2016, 01:00:36 PM
Quote from: Richard Johnson on October 30, 2016, 06:07:09 PM
Thanks for this. As a now Episcopal church congregant, I miss Reformation Day. My plan this morning was to slip over to the LCMS congregation for its early service and get my fix, but alas, not to be. Our rector had a bad case of respiratory crud, and I needed to step into the breach. What I hadn't counted on was that the lectionary reading for today (story of Zacchaeus) almost never appears for Lutherans; it generally comes up either on Reformation or All Saints. So the last time I preached on that text was 26 years ago! Oh well, good discipline, and it went well. But I appreciated the opportunity at least to hear a little Bach here! I could understand bits of the liturgy and the lections, though the sermon was beyond me. But I suppose people say that of my sermons sometimes, as well.  8)

Well, today's the day, and it is heartening to see the various gatherings.  Prayers on the ground all day are for the safety of the throngs of kids trick-or-treating on the eve of All Saints, and of course (in NYC) the larger throngs of costumed adults who will jam the streets of lower Manhattan.

So even on "our" day we're counter-cultural, left in the lurch by the candy and costume industries who beg no one's indulgence.

Yesterday the kids came up to the altar area to view my commemorative 500th Reformation Anniversary Stole freshly purchased from Almy.  Pointing at the symbology I asked them what they saw.  The first kid, out of nowhere, says "I think it starts in the middle.  There's a red heart that stands for us, and the black cross that stands for Jesus, who gives us forgiveness and peace.  And that's what life is all about."  I went, "Seriously, dude - are you kidding?  That's the whole point!"  Big ovation from the worshipers.
So I ask what surrounds the heart and the cross - first little guy says, "It looks like petals of a flower."  "Bingo!"  What kind of flower?  Little girl says, "I think there are stickers sticking out from the petals, so it must be a rose."  What does that mean?  Next kid, "I think that means that we go through a lot of stuff, like the stickers, but that life is beautiful because of the cross." 

I found that whole experience unbelievable - "Lutheranism" gives off such a complex theologically deep vibe, and yet in three minutes kids standing looking at a Reformation stole explicated the center of the Gospel, and the Augsburg Confession, right from the heart.

Dave Benke

The kids at the church I'm serving weren't self-prompted, as in the beautiful story you've given. But my children's sermon was going along pretty much like that. My next question, "And what do you think of when you see the blue?" was promptly replied to by a five-year-old girl: "Go Cubs."
Quote from: JEdwards on October 09, 2016, 03:16:54 PM


Good article. As usual, Rocco Palmo is very gossipy and very thorough. Also worth reading, at


notables in the group: three voting Americans (making up for back-to-back shutouts in Francis' first two intakes), and a fresh dose of the pontiff's cherished "peripheries," including the first-ever red hats from Bangladesh, the Central African Republic, Malaysia, the island-chain of Mauritius, and Papua New Guinea.

Sunday, October 09, 2016
A Scarlet Bolt – Pope Announces 17 New Cardinals
(SVILUPPO: Updated Noon ET with first analysis.)

Suffice it to say, it's become Pope Francis' unique habit that, in announcing new cardinals, no one is told in advance – above all the designates... let alone anyone else.

Accordingly, at the end of today's Angelus, 17 names were suddenly dropped for a Consistory to be held on Saturday, 19 November, to coincide with the close of the Jubilee Year – 13 of them electors, and four others to be elevated over the retirement age of 80.

Among other notables in the group: three voting Americans (making up for back-to-back shutouts in Francis' first two intakes), and a fresh dose of the pontiff's cherished "peripheries," including the first-ever red hats from Bangladesh, the Central African Republic, Malaysia, the island-chain of Mauritius, and Papua New Guinea.

Here, the designates, in the order by which they will be created:

–Archbishop Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria
–Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, CSSp. of Bangui (Central African Republic)
–Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid
–Archbishop Sérgio da Rocha of Brasilia
–Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago
–Archbishop Patrick D'Rozario, CSC of Dhaka (Bangladesh)
–Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Mérida (Venezuela)
–Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Mechelen-Brussels (Belgium)
–Archbishop Maurice Piat of Port-Louis (Mauritius)
–Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell, emeritus of Dallas, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life
–Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla (Mexico)
–Archbishop John Ribat, M.S.C. of Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea)
–Archbishop Joseph William Tobin, CSSR of Indianapolis

And the "honorary" hats for retirees:

–Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez, emeritus of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
–Bishop Renato Corti, emeritus of Novara (Italia)
–Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai, OMI, emeritus of Mohale's Hoek (Lesotho)
–Fr Ernest Simoni, priest of Shkodrë-Pult (Albania)

* * *
Given what many will take as the day's big surprise – the elevation of Joe Tobin, 64, the Detroit-born Redemptorist who's led the 250,000-member Indy church since 2012 – well, for starters, the nickname he's long had among his confreres bears recalling: "Big Red."

To be sure, that's more a reference to both the former hockey enforcer's onetime ginger hair and the worldwide religious family he would lead for 12 years... still, given the latest curveball in a ministry full of them, the moniker fits its newest turn no less.

Barely six months after Tobin's arrival by the Brickyard, his southern fluency would come into the ultimate reason behind this historic red hat: with the election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis, while most US bishops were furiously brushing up on the new pontiff, the Indy prelate suddenly found himself as one of the closest Stateside friends of the new Bishop of Rome – indeed, one of precious few North Americans who had any firsthand experience with him, let alone at length.

That serendipity owed itself to the 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, which Tobin, as head of the Redemptorists, attended as the delegate of the Union of Superiors General (the umbrella-group of the global leaders of mens' orders).

As the Synod's circuli minores – the small discussion-groups – were split up by language, bishops had already taken all the English-speaking slots by seniority, so Tobin found a seat in a Spanish group... and spent the next month sitting alongside the cardinal-archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Over those same months in 2014, meanwhile, as someone the Pope knew – and who, in many ways, bore his scent – the Redemptorist's name was duly floated at high levels for Chicago, only to be deemed too much a "wild card" by some key players, given his lack of experience in the national rungs of leadership.

Amid that backdrop, this most "personal" seat in the College a Pope has given an American since 1958 (when John XXIII elevated Bishop Aloysius Muench of Fargo, who Papa Roncalli knew and admired as the postwar Nuncio to Germany) – and one given alongside the eventual Windy City pick – shows anew, and for the first time in the US, that even as Francis can be freewheeling in consulting  on major diocesan appointments, when it comes to the "Senate" that will elect his successor (and from which the next Pope will come), his choices are his own.
Quote from: Richard Johnson on August 10, 2016, 02:58:06 PM
After the hearing last night I had a conversation with Joy Schroeder from Trinity Seminary, one of the ELCA members of the dialogue group. I asked her about the Forum/Graymoor proposal--any of you remember this? It was a proposal back in the late 1970s for a year of intense local level dialogue between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, sponsored jointly by Lutheran Forum (and the ALPB), and the Graymoor Institute.

Kind of sad that what was a rather promising endeavor at the time has been more or less forgotten, even by those involved in current dialogues.

Wasn't the occasion for the development of these materials a celebration of the 450th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 1980? I recall very limited but hopeful conversations between Christus Victor Lutheran, Dearborn Heights, Michigan (where I was serving at the time) and Divine Child Parish, an extremely large parish a few blocks away in Dearborn.
Quote from: justified and sinner on May 01, 2013, 03:17:48 PM
135 views, 5 votes.... 1 comment.

Is confession and absolution that... misplaced in our church?

Is the question unclear to some, making response difficult?
Does it ask, "Are Pope Francis' views on confession and absolution, as expressed in the quoted homily, similar to a Lutheran (i.e. catechetical and liturgical) perspective on the same topic?
Does it ask, "Do most active lay and thoughtful clergy in the Lutheran churches currently view confession and absolution in this way?
Or does it ask, "Would Pope Francis' words be a worthy addition to any Lutheran pastor's teaching materials, to be brought forward approvingly when the subject comes up?"

(My own answer to the question is Mostly/Partially, Not Really, and Absolutely Yes). But if someone can suggest some other interpretations of the question I'd be glad to supplement my response.)

Nice article. Sounds like it was a fine homily.
Your Turn / Re: One Mister Too Many, Portico
April 24, 2013, 02:39:28 PM
Quote from: Charles_Austin on April 23, 2013, 06:15:13 PM
I'm hope my friend Russ Saltzman will agree that, if the ELCA and its poohbahs had someone like him or like this humble correspondent on the staff, people with some knowledge of public image and public relations, we could have found a way to write that letter that would not make the ELCA look silly and the letter-writers vindictive.
The letter, rightfully saying that the recipient may no longer consider themselves a pastor in the ELCA or act as such, is a textbook example of bad writing and corporate ineptitude.
(And people say I do not criticize the ELCA!)

Nothing all that wrong about the letter. Lowell Almen wrote it more than a decade ago. Trouble is, it's the form letter intended for people who have been removed from the clergy roster for disciplinary reasons. Probably didn't have room on the file label to explain the appropriate use.
Letters to the Editors / Retirement Reflections
April 09, 2013, 02:07:49 PM
Dear Pastor Johnson,

Having retired last summer after 41 years of ordained ministry, I welcomed your reflections in the April 2013 issue of Forum Letter.

One of many points of resonance was "the process of packing up books. ...not room for all of them at home. ...letting them go is emotionally draining."

While still painful, it was a sustaining thing for me to have found:
Theological Book Network
3529 Patterson Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Phone: (616) 532-3890

Hours of Operation: M-F 9am to 5pm
(Eastern Time)


Fortunately, there turned out to be a couple of alternatives to going to the expense of shipping my nine cartons of books from my personal library, with titles in theology, church history, and biblical studies.

I learned of this ministry from First Things and welcome opportunities to bring it to the attention of others.

Mike Rothaar
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