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Topics - James_Gale

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Your Turn / The KJV -- 100 phrases in three minutes
« on: May 12, 2011, 11:08:19 AM »
For lovers of the language of the KJV, enjoy:  link.

I finally received my March edition of Forum Letter.  I agree with most of what Pr. Johnson wrote in the lead article, Constitutional Musings.  However, the proposals don't just "clarify ambiguities."  They create some that could be at least as problematic as those that they correct.

1.  First, proposed section C6.05(e) is problematic. 

It creates a "conclusive presumption" that a congregation is "an independent or non-Lutheran church" unless the congregation includes with its certification that its second vote has passed a second certification that the congregation also has "voted by a two-thirds vote to affiliate with another Lutheran denomination."  This certification must be given within ten days after the second vote.  However, the proposed amendment does not change the vote margin required at a congregational meeting for the congregation to actually join a new church body.  A simple majority still would be enough.  You therefore could have an absurd situation where a congregation has validly voted to join a Lutheran church body (in accord with the congregation's and new church body's governing documents) but where the ELCA is required to conclusively presume otherwise. 

But another oddity gives a congregation a way out.  The amendment requires only that the congregation certify that it has voted "to affiliate with another Lutheran denomination."  A congregation could enact this resolution as an aspirational statement.  And in so doing, it will have defeated the presumption under the literal terms of the constitution.  A congregation need not have joined another church body (or even taken steps to do so) to pass the required "aspirational" resolution.  Is this what the church council intended?  Maybe not.  But it's a real possibility.  Litigation, here we come!

2.  Proposed section C6.05 of the model congregational constitution refers time and again to "9.62," which is the section of the ELCA constitution dealing with the process by which a congregation can leave the ELCA.  This is a problem waiting to happen.  To see how, look for example at C6.05(g).  It deals with congregations seeking to leave the ELCA that have not complied with "the foregoing provisions in 9.62."  But what happens if the "foregoing provisions" -- those actually in C6.05 -- and the provisions in 9.62 are not the same.  This could happen, for example, if the CWA were to adopt language in 9.62 that is not the same as what it proposes in C6.05.  Or more likely, a future CWA might enact more amendments to 9.62 that a congregation never adds to its constitution.  At that point, 9.62 and a congregation's version of C6.05 would be different.  What will govern?  Section 9.62?  Or the "foregoing provisions"?  Litigation, here we come again.

3.  Worst of all  ;), the drafters persistently use the relative pronoun which instead of that with restrictive clauses. Yikes.  I guess that this goes to Pr. Johnson's last point about "sloppy proofreading."  At least I hope that that's the explanation.  The alternative is that the drafters simply don't know any better.  Double yikes.  (I know.  I know.  Brits and other readers out there might not care about this point.  For better or worse, I do.)

Your Turn / Valpo Hires New Executive Director of Campus Ministries
« on: March 14, 2011, 05:28:02 PM »
Valpo announced today that it has hired the Rev. Brian T. Johnson to fill a newly created postion, Executive Director of Campus Ministries.  Here's the press release.

I have known Brian since 1979.  He was three years my senior at Gustavus.  He has been a Gustavus chaplain since the mid-1990s.

This is an interesting move.  Brian is a gifted musician and a lover of historic liturgy.  He is a man of integrity.  He also is most decidedly within (or even a bit on the revisionist side of) the ELCA spectrum.

What does this say about Valpo's strategic direction?  It seems to suggest a further step away from Missouri.  But some here with Valpo connections are in a much better position to comment on that.

Your Turn / Shahbaz Bhatti, Martyr -- RIP
« on: March 02, 2011, 05:47:09 PM »
I'm sure that many of you have heard about the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani cabinet minister who (among other things) fought against the law imposing the death penalty on those who "blaspheme" against Islam.  I ran across a short interview segment in which Mr. Bhatti witnessed to his Christian faith and said that he would continue his public work in spite of the resulting threats on his life.  I am far from certain that I would be so courageous or faithful.  But I am thankful to God for the witness of men like Mr. Bhatti.

Your Turn / What Christmas Is All About
« on: December 03, 2010, 09:28:59 PM »
The answer for Charlie Brown:  Link.

They don't make Christmas television specials quite like this any more.

Your Turn / Pew Research Study Regarding Marriage
« on: November 18, 2010, 10:10:43 AM »
It's not pretty:  Pew Study.

Your Turn / Liturgical Divergence -- Does It Matter
« on: April 29, 2010, 05:10:25 PM »
During the second half of the last century, US church bodies seemed to be moving toward a convergence on liturgical texts used during the Mass and other celebrations.  That process seems to be unwinding, each church body going its own way for its own reasons.  In ELW, the ELCA made revisions in the name of gender equality.  In LSB, the LCMS has moved away from LBW/LW texts.  The Roman Catholic Church is preparing (next year, most likely) to introduce a new text that will be uniform throughout the English-speaking world.  The goal, as I understand it, was to be as faithful as possible to the Latin texts from which the English texts are translated.

Any thoughts on the implications of this divergence?

Your Turn / Dana College Sold
« on: March 17, 2010, 11:46:24 PM »
Dana College in Blair, Nebraska has been [url-]sold[/url].  I'm told by ELCA-college sources that the linked article is mostly accurate.  However, the story mistakenly says that the college under new ownership will maintain its relationship with the ELCA.  It won't.  Something called the Dana Education Foundation will try to take responsibility for the college's legacy, and might enter into a relationship with the ELCA.  The ELCA also has issued a press release about this.

Dana, founded by the Danes in the 19th Century, has had financial troubles for years.  The ELCA's recent actions are almost certainly not responsible for this development, at least not directly.  I suppose that the CWA actions and the college's failure might be two consequences of the same changes within the ELCA.  But that's nothing but speculation.

This is a sad development.  To survive, ELCA colleges must develop sources for students and funds independent from the church.  Dana was not able to do this successfully.

Your Turn / Interview Given By Archbishop Dolan
« on: March 01, 2010, 04:21:34 PM »
Here is a blog post linking to an interview given by New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan:  Archbishop Dolan.  The interview lasts about 25 minutes.  Archbishop Dolan touches on many interesting subjects including (i) when the church should refuse to permit someone to receive communion because of political or moral beliefs (very rarely); (ii) whether a man who is homosexual in orientation could be eligible for ordination (yes, under conditions generally applicable to all); and (iii) whether the church should be involved in politics.

Abp. Dolan seems very forthcoming, very pastoral, and filled with a wonderful sense of humor.

I thought that at least some of you might be interested.

By the way, the link is to a posting on the excellent RC blog "Whispers in the Loggia," which Fr. Michael has mentioned here before.

Your Turn / Has The ELCA Waived Right To Enforce Rules?
« on: February 15, 2010, 12:13:02 AM »
Up until now, the ELCA has purported to require all rostered leaders to live chaste lives; i.e., rostered leaders have had to promise to have sexual relations only within the bonds of marriage.  (And remember, even under the new social statement, marriage is defined as a relationship between a man and woman.)  As a result of the CWA actions, the church council will be modifying this requirement.  However, shouldn't those who violated the rule in the past still be held accountable?  Why shouldn't those who have lived in violation of their promises to the ELCA be barred from rostered service until they have repented for violating the rules?  If they are not barred, how can the ELCA enforce any rules that exclude anyone from rostered ministry?  (What about Pr. David Eck, for example?  Out and Proud

Similarly, the ELCA has purported to require its congregations to call pastors from the ELCA roster.  Many congregations have violated this rule, sometimes in order to call persons in same-sex sexual relationships.  Even though the ELCA is in the process of changing its rules, shouldn't congregations that violated the rule still be subject to discipline until they repent for their past violations?  If not, why not?

If the ELCA intends simply to ignore some flagrant violations without asking for repentance, what basis does it have for enforcing its rules now?  Can it begin now to strictly require congregations to call pastors from the ELCA roster?  Can it begin now to remove pastors from the roster who serves a non-ELCA congregation?  

The issue here is not sexuality.  Rather, it is whether the ELCA can selectively enforce its rules.  

Bp Mark Lawrence of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina wrote to his flock regarding actions there by the national church: Bishop Lawrence.

I link to his letter in part because it reflects the litigious approach taken by the national leadership of TEC.  Because of differences in governance structures, I don't think that the ELCA leadership could use the courts to drive their agenda as the Episcopalian leaders have.  (My hope is that the ELCA leaders would try to avoid litigation in any event.)

All that aside, what I find most interesting is Bp Lawrence's approach to leadership.  Is it a viable model for some of our current synod bishops?  Or for a bishop of a new non-geographical synod for those congregations whose "bound consciences" preclude accepting oversight from their current synods?

Your Turn / Patients In "Vegetative" State Can Think and Communicate
« on: February 04, 2010, 01:29:53 AM »
Here's an article from the Daily Telegraph that describes research that bears on end-of-life decisions:

Your Turn / Pope Benedict XVI Condemns Liberation Theology
« on: December 21, 2009, 09:58:31 PM »
In a December 5 address to Brazilian bishops, Pope Benedict XVI directed guidance to "all those who in some way have felt attracted, involved and deeply touched by certain deceptive principles of Liberation Theology."  He "stressed the danger that is entailed in an a-critical acceptance on the part of certain theologians of theses and methodologies that derive from Marxism," noting that "consequences consisting of rebellion, division, dissent, offence, and anarchy [have made] themselves felt, creating in your diocesan communities great suffering and a serious loss of vitality."

The RC Church has long criticized the insidious nature of liberation theology.  Pope Benedict XVI seems particularly intent on driving the point home to bishops who might be inclined to stray.

The entire address is linked here:

Your Turn / Episcopal Leadership, Snow White, and 175 Faeries
« on: December 17, 2009, 02:55:25 PM »
You might be intrigued if you heard, as I did today, that a notable bishop would be coming to your home town to conduct a musical program just days before Christmas.

Oh sure, you might wonder whether the bishop instead should be in his diocese preparing with his flock for the celebration of Christmas.  But that's a minor quibble.

What, you might ask, will this notable bishop be conducting in Washington, DC?  One of the ubiquitous performances of "Messiah"?  Perhaps "In Dulci Jubilo:  A German Christmas" over at the Folger Theatre?  Or "Joyeux Noel:  A Christmas Celebration With A French Twist" in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall?  It turns out to be none of these or any other Christmas presentation.

Instead, the bishop will be conducting "Snow White and 175 Faeries:  The Musical," which features dwarves named Pushy, Nasty, Nancy, Stinky, Cuddly, Hose, and Bitter.  The production is the "holiday show" of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington.  And the guest conductor is The Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, Ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.

Tickets are available at

Happy Festivus!

Your Turn / Come Hither, Ye Faithful
« on: December 08, 2009, 04:47:14 PM »
O Come, All Ye Faithful is my favorite Christmas hymn.  Nobody who has attended Gustavus Adolphus College since the 1970s and has participated in Christmas in Christ Chapel could conceivably prefer any other to it.  In my view, the church should require that it be sung at every Christmas Eve service, preferably as the closing hymn.

(I very much dislike the endemic practice of ending Christmas Eve Mass with Silent Night.  To be clear, I don't quite consider the practice to be church dividing.  But it is close.  We are celebrating the Incarnation of our Lord and we can do no better than to sing about sleeping?  But I digress.)

I write here wondering how the English version of O Come, All Ye Faithful became popular in the first place.  In Lutheran circles, at least, the first verse originally went like this:

Come hither, ye faithful, triumphantly sing:
Come see in the manger the angels' dread King!
To Bethlehem hasten, with joyful accord;
O come ye, come hither, to worship the Lord!   

Goodness.  Who wants to sing about a "dread King" at Christmas? 

I personally give thanks to those hymn book writers who have given us a more festive translation!

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