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Messages - Mike Bennett

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61
Your Turn / Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« on: November 22, 2010, 04:27:34 PM »
Oh, and regarding pensions. We have been notified that the cut in our pensions next year will not be nine percent but about six percent.

Yes, my sincere sympathies to you and all others affected.  This includes my father-in-law, a distinguished, retired ELCA pastor.  This really stinks and I pray that funding may be restored to all former servants of the church.  It may color the discussions though in ELCA corporate on what can be done for the Augsburg Fortress retirees.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

Apples and oranges.

A. The "pension" to which Pr. Austin refers is a DEFINED CONTRIBUTION plan which never promised a specific return but offered one option that estimated a particular return but had always been subject to investment returns on the contributions invested.

B. The AF pension plan is a DEFINED BENEFIT plan which promised a specific return to its participants, the function of a forumula stated in the plan, and not subject to investment returns.

The sponsor of Plan B has made a promise of a certain pension to its participants.  the sponsor of plan A has not.

Mike Bennett

62

Good articles--but I made the mistake of reading some of the comments!

It's been my unscientific but consistent experience that online comments to news reports at newspaper and similar sites are written by the lowest, most twisted and terrifying people on earth.  And it doesn't seem to matter what the quality of the newspaper is.  Scary.

Mike Bennett

63
Your Turn / Re: Contraception
« on: November 19, 2010, 10:02:48 AM »
Don't dodge the issue.
If God "qualifies" those chosen to be blessed with children, then what is going on with 14-year old girls on welfare, school drop-outs or drug addicts who get pregnant? If God "qualifies" those chosen to be blessed with children, then why are Youth and Family Service agencies swamped with the detritus of inept (or even evil) parenting?


My stubborn insistence on reading the substance of the posting without regard to the name of the poster allows me to agree with Charles' point, and to call on those who disagree to respond to him with something other than smart-assed one-liners and ad hominems. 

Mike Bennett

64
Your Turn / Re: Digging Deeper
« on: November 15, 2010, 05:36:00 PM »
Peter writes:
There are many potential good reasons, and it is incumbent upon you to assume that every anonymous poster has one of them, or at least thinks he does and isn't asking your opinion about it. For one thing, it prevents ad hominem argumentation. Every Utah survivalist and 13 year old geek with a genuine question or insight knows that once you know who he is, that will be the end of it. Just the ravings of a Utah survivalist or 13 year old geek unworthy of further consideration.
I respond:
For heaven's sake! Are you really such a literalist?!!
I've been around online communications for a long long time, long enough to know what mischief can be worked.
Again: This is a discussion among Lutherans about serious matters concerning the life of our church. You give me one good reason why we should not know who is taking part in the discussion. Give me one good reasons why anonymity should be necessary here. One.

An it is again necessary to notice another attempt by ptmccain to end a discussion. "Just ignore Austin," he says again. Does that not teeter towards the dread ad hominem?

And Contributor C busts Contributor X in the mouth!

Are we such literalists that' we're to fear that Contributor C will be able to end discussion?

I have a suggestion for ending ad hominems - for one week FORBID any posting to be signed.   ::)

MIke Bennett

65
Your Turn / Re: Digging Deeper
« on: November 15, 2010, 05:29:08 PM »
Can we all please simply ignore Austin as he continues his, as Richard put it, obsessive behaviors about anonymous comments? Don't facilitate his behavior by acknowledging or responding to it.

Contributor X responding to Contributor C.   8)

66
Your Turn / Re: Digging Deeper
« on: November 15, 2010, 05:26:02 PM »
Someone notes that I have reservations about Facebook and then says:
There are those of us who, while enjoying the discussion, see no reason why you would need to know who we are.  What we have to say stands, regardless of what our username is on this site..

I comment:
No, it does not "stand," no matter what your username is. You could be an Opus Dei Roman Catholic, a Utah survivalist, a 13-year old geek, a nerdy troublemaker, a woman in her 90s still nursing a grudge because her Lutheran pastor husband had a fling with the church secretary back in 1952, an atheist, a universalist, or a Russian spy.
I ask again: someone give me a good reason for not participating here under their own name. (I was given a good reason by one participant and I respect that, but it is a highly-unusual situation.)

As I read RevDavid's note, I see that his point is that the quality of what's written is more important than the identity of who wrote it.  I have trouble understanding what's wrong with that.  A Greek restaurant I used to frequent before it closed for the second time had a supposed quote from Socrates near the front door:  "Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss other people."  Too often this forum is a place where anything posted by Contributor A is attacked in knee-jerk fashion by Contributor Z, because it has Contributor A's name on it.  Likewise with Contributor B, C or D, by knee-jerk adversaries Y, X, or W.  It's sometimes amusing to see the long hesitations when a new person writes something, and high volume posters don't reply for awhile because they don't know whether he's friend or foe, to be automatically savaged or automatically affirmed.  This forum isn't the only place that happens, but it is surely one of them.

And so what if RevDavid is a 90 year old woman whose husband fooled with the organist 58 years ago?  

Mike Bennett

67
Your Turn / Re: Steadfast Lutherans Reflection On Lutheran Forum Article
« on: November 15, 2010, 03:03:16 PM »

The problem with a term like "open communion" is that the meaning shifts depending on who is using it. The Missouri use of the term would certainly include what you describe. I suspose that for the ELCA, inviting all baptized Christians is hardly thought of as open communion at all.

Not sure where that supposition arose.  At the ELCA parish where I'm a member, the invitation to communion is given to all baptized Christians who believe Christ is truly present in the bread and wine.

Mike Bennett

Mike --

I've been in several ELCA congregations in which the invitation to commune has been extended very expressly to everyone present, not just to baptized Christians.  This practice is counter to the ELCA's statement regarding The Use of the Means of Grace.  But it's not uncommon.  And so far as I know, bishops don't do much (anything?) to stop it.

Jim

Confusion and inconsistent practice certainly abound. 

Mike Bennett

68
Your Turn / Re: Steadfast Lutherans Reflection On Lutheran Forum Article
« on: November 15, 2010, 02:51:32 PM »

The problem with a term like "open communion" is that the meaning shifts depending on who is using it. The Missouri use of the term would certainly include what you describe. I suspose that for the ELCA, inviting all baptized Christians is hardly thought of as open communion at all.

Not sure where that supposition arose.  At the ELCA parish where I'm a member, the invitation to communion is given to all baptized Christians who believe Christ is truly present in the bread and wine.

Mike Bennett

69
OOPS! I'm still trying to figure out how to use this blog.  I saw the quote button and figured out how to use it after I did my previous post.  Sorry.

That's all right.  Austin has been posting here since Neuhaus was Lutheran, and he claims the quote button is impossible, treacherous, and unreliable.  Only took you two postings to figure it out.  You must be very quick!  :o

Mike Bennett

70
What is your point or are these points pointless?

The question was asked if God ever approved the killing of children. I quoted scriptures where the answer has to be "yes".

It's interesting that the Canaanites, whose killing God commanded, had their own chapter of Planned Parenthood sacrificing children to Molech.  So I'm not sure your mischievous response led you in a direction you would have wanted to go.

Whether or not Canaanites actually sacrificed children to Molech is up for debate. (Just Google it.)

Today everything is up for debate. 

Mike Bennett

71
Your Turn / Re: Voter's Guide for Serious Christians
« on: November 02, 2010, 02:16:30 PM »
Is President Obama a Keynesian?  Watch this for some amusing responses from those whose sanity was restored over the weekend.

Absolutely amazing.  Funniest thing since I heard a guy maligned for the loosness of his family's morals, because of rumors that his wife had been a thespian and his daughter had matriculated.

Mike Bennett

72
Your Turn / Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« on: November 02, 2010, 12:58:46 PM »

So long as churches invest in the same world as for-profit organizations, there is no excuse for the continuation of a "church plan" exception from ERISA and PBGC coverage.


Other than the constitutional issues of the federal gov't regulating religion, which is why a church plan is exempt from ERISA and PBGC inthe first place.


Here's a non-lawyer, businessman argument that would probably make the lawyers here itch, and might prompt a judge to dope-slap me.

Our churches are subject to our civil laws in areas involving their Non Religious activities (those not involving religious beliefs, practice, teaching, ceremonies, etc.).  The distinctions between a church's "Religious" and "Non-Religious" activities are drawn in a way that defines Religious activities quite broadly (e.g. the ability to opt out of Social Security on grounds of religious belief, lack of sanction of giving alcohol to minors in Holy Communion, etc.).  But there are limits, beyond which a church is subject to civil laws just like anybody else, evidently without running afoul of the First Amendment.  Examples include fire and building codes, jurisdictions of civil courts to enforce contracts where a church is a party, including a mortgage lender filing its security interest at the county court house just like they do on my personal home, and, perhaps closest to the current issue, the requirment to cover church employees by workers compensation insurance.  I'm sure there are 221 years of of case law dealing with where these lines are drawn, but I don't claim to know any of those cases.

I believe that the justification for requiring workers compensation insurance is just as persuasive for requiring pension protection Neither of these has to do with a church's religious activities.  The civil authorities have an interest in protecting pensioners from a religious employer ignoring its pension promise, just as strong as protection against a non-religious employer doing the same, in the same way that an employee's injury sustained falling from a ladder at work is no less severe if "work" was a church instead of a factory or store.  I was an admirer of Milton Friedman, but I believed his notion that a tort action was the right way to deal with every damage suffered from the negligence or wickedness of another was naive and doctrinaire.  Some actions need to be forbidden, mandatorily  insured against , or both, and I think regeging on a pension promise needs to be both forbidden (ERISA) and insured against (PBGC).

Whether a publishing house's pension plan should have qualified as a "church" plan would then be a non-issue.

The lawyers can now apply their anti-itching lotion, and any judges present can dope-slap me.

Mike Bennett

73
Your Turn / Re: Voter's Guide for Serious Christians
« on: November 02, 2010, 11:56:05 AM »
Pastor Petty's construction is permissible.  

But what does it mean?

Whichever meaning he intended of the two possible meanings you suggested, your "Yes" would mean "Yes," and your "No" would mean "No."  So if you want to answer, then answer.  Why do you insist on torturing everybody by behaving like an ass a silly goose?

Mike Bennett

74
What is your point or are these points pointless?

The question was asked if God ever approved the killing of children. I quoted scriptures where the answer has to be "yes".

It's interesting that the Canaanites, whose killing God commanded, had their own chapter of Planned Parenthood sacrificing children to Molech.  So I'm not sure your mischievous response led you in a direction you would have wanted to go.

Mike Bennett

75
Your Turn / Re: Baseball and a Bad Night for Atheists
« on: November 01, 2010, 09:03:22 PM »
Idle curiosity question while watching the World Series:  Was it intentionally mischievous to shorten the name of the Split Finger Fastball to Splitter?  I mean, considering that it behaves like a Spitter?

Just wondering.

Go Rangers. (My Texas brother , niece and nephews made me say it, despite my soft spot for Juan Uribe)

Mike Bennett

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