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Messages - peter_speckhard

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1
Your Turn / Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« on: January 22, 2021, 09:27:34 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
When I was a teenager I was amazed at how many of the rock and roll greats were putting out nostalgia-themed records. They were, of course, a lot older than I was. But Springsteen's The River as well as many songs on Born in the USA, Bob Seeger sang Like a Rock, Mellencamp had Jack and Diane, Tom Petty, et al. Plus nostalgia movies like Stand By Me, Hoosiers, and A Christmas Story became all the craze. It can be good to indulge nostalgia a bit with music and movies. Give it its due. But don't get stranded there.

What I like about Nunes is that when massive changes like the collapse of church participation or the social media revolution occur, anyone can say, "It's the end of the world as we know it," but not everyone can naturally add, "And I feel fine." Nunes does in an infectious way.

What I like about

2
Your Turn / Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« on: January 22, 2021, 08:43:22 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.

3
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 08:33:10 PM »
Which position is divisive and which is unifying-- pro-life/pro-choice? Free trade/Tariffs? Pro-energy independence/pro-green energy? Low tax/high tax? Isolationism/Interventionism? And the list goes on. Taking any position is divisive precisely insofar as some people prefer a contrary position. The division is not caused by taking a position, it is caused by people standing opposed to the position taken.


Paul affirmed differences within the church. A body requires many different parts. At the same time he opposed ἔρις (1:11; 3:3), which Lowe & Nida define as: 1. "conflict resulting from rivalry and discord" and 2. "to express differences of opinion, with at least some measure of antagonism or hostility."


When antagonism and hostility is added to differences; when opponents on issues become enemies, that is going beyond differences. Under President Trump, more so, I think than other presidents, the divisions became hostilities. One theory (at least expressed in a Facebook meme) was that Trump didn't create the hostilities, but his words gave people permission to express them. (I'm certain that the white supremacists were angry when Obama was elected president, but weren't as able to express their anger as they did under Trump.)
 
By that definition, identity politics is as divisive as it is possible to be.

4
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 07:12:16 PM »
And Pastor Engebretson, We are on very shaky ground when we start trying to discern how “solid” a person’s commitment (credentials? A legal term?) is to their faith. Why do we want to do that?

My greater concern really has to do with how he reconciles his policy commitments with his professed faith.  His status with the RCC does not concern me in any serious way, as it is a matter between him and his priest and bishop.  I'm really more interested in how he navigates all this as one who professes to be a faithful Catholic.


Cannot an Orthodox Jewish politician practices his faith, e.g., refusing to eat non-kosher foods, while supporting laws favoring pork producers or shrimp fishermen?
Bogus comparison. Jewish law doesn’t forbid Gentiles from eating pork.


And Roman Catholic laws don't forbid Protestants from using contraceptives, or being married outside of the church.
Roman Catholic "laws" on such things are moral teachings for humanity, no different than teaching against stealing or murder. They are totally unlike Jewish kosher rules. Are you arguing that the Little Sisters of the Poor don't understand their own teachings when they object to these insurance laws? Or that their consciences aren't actually violated and they're just making it up? Or that having insurance provide contraceptives is such a fundamental right that it is worth forcing the issue even on those who object?


Our government forces medical health concerns on Christian Scientist when their beliefs could injure or kill one of their members. Yes, for the good and health of our nation, contraceptives should be available to all. (Many women need them for reasons unrelated to pregnancy.)


It has been shown in Colorado that the availability of contraceptives is part of a program that reduces abortions. Perhaps for the good of the country, the government should make them available free of charge to anyone who wants them or as a low cost over the counter drug. (It's worked in Colorado.) We could just bypass insurance companies.
The issue is not whether contraceptives should be available. The issue is who should be required to provide them. There are plenty of things that are required for basic health, such as toothpaste, disinfectant, bandages, aspirin, etc. that your employer doesn't provide. We don't demand that employers provide toothpaste to their employees for the good of the nation. And we certainly wouldn't do that to people who had a religious objection to brushing their teeth.

There is more involved with "the good and health of our nation" than physical health, too. New Hampshire' motto is "live free or die." That is, we'd rather be unhealthy and make our own choices than be healthy and have our choices made for us. Government must not trample on rights "for the good of the nation" unless it is unavoidable. A nation in which the government mandates wise choices might be healthy in many ways, but it wouldn't be healthy in the most important ways.

5
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 06:35:52 PM »
Peter writes:
The truth of the matter-- that the parties are equally divisive in the sense that they have different visions of what unity should consist of-- never seems to occur to you.
I comment:
Both parties may be "divisive," but in no war are they "equally divisive" in any sense. Only one party - or at least its leader - promoted and praised a violent attack on Congress that cost lives.
Congress isn't the only thing capable of being violently attacked. Only one party overtly said that the violence would and should continue and even bailed out those arrested so that the mayhem could go on. The point is that the cultural divisions in our nation are not caused by, nor can they be resolved by, a politician. If unity were the goal, it could be achieved by all Democrats voting Republican. But they'd rather have division than Republican rule. And in the exact same way, Republicans could achieve unity in a heartbeat by all supporting Democrats. But they don't, and for the same reasons. Both parties are equally responsible for perpetuating the divisions.

Which position is divisive and which is unifying-- pro-life/pro-choice? Free trade/Tariffs? Pro-energy independence/pro-green energy? Low tax/high tax? Isolationism/Interventionism? And the list goes on. Taking any position is divisive precisely insofar as some people prefer a contrary position. The division is not caused by taking a position, it is caused by people standing opposed to the position taken. 

6
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 04:40:12 PM »
Yes, Peter, that’s how it works. You keep defending the most recent expresident against even the slightest criticism. And I keep expressing my disgust at what we have experienced these past four years.
Twice impeached, and probably facing a permanent ban from ever again holding public office, he remains “your guy.”  I asked whether you think you “got” from him was worth the criminality, the mendacity, and the genuine threats to our government and our democracy.
But. Hey! He’s gone, now facing his own personal difficulties. Difficulties in finances, difficulties with the law, and what is almost sure to be a frustrating attempt to keep his control of the Republican party.
Wrong. I pointed out the unarguable fact that the president is the president of all Americans, and the Biden is no more or less able to be president to all Americans than any other president. Donald Trump was not responsible for the division between you and me, and Joe Biden will not heal it. I don't go by who is divisive or a uniter because I don't see politicians as the cause of or solution to cultural division. You do, which causes you to see Democrats resistance to Republicans as being caused by the GOP's divisiveness, but Republican resistance to Democrats as caused by GOP recalcitrance toward the Dems' fundamentally non-divisive, unity-oriented approach. The truth of the matter-- that the parties are equally divisive in the sense that they have different visions of what unity should consist of-- never seems to occur to you. 

7
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 04:12:21 PM »
And Pastor Engebretson, We are on very shaky ground when we start trying to discern how “solid” a person’s commitment (credentials? A legal term?) is to their faith. Why do we want to do that?

My greater concern really has to do with how he reconciles his policy commitments with his professed faith.  His status with the RCC does not concern me in any serious way, as it is a matter between him and his priest and bishop.  I'm really more interested in how he navigates all this as one who professes to be a faithful Catholic.


Cannot an Orthodox Jewish politician practices his faith, e.g., refusing to eat non-kosher foods, while supporting laws favoring pork producers or shrimp fishermen?
Bogus comparison. Jewish law doesn’t forbid Gentiles from eating pork.


And Roman Catholic laws don't forbid Protestants from using contraceptives, or being married outside of the church.
Roman Catholic "laws" on such things are moral teachings for humanity, no different than teaching against stealing or murder. They are totally unlike Jewish kosher rules. Are you arguing that the Little Sisters of the Poor don't understand their own teachings when they object to these insurance laws? Or that their consciences aren't actually violated and they're just making it up? Or that having insurance provide contraceptives is such a fundamental right that it is worth forcing the issue even on those who object?

8
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 04:01:47 PM »
Peter write (re my "whatever"):
It is a way of expressing disdain without actually being able to engage the discussion meaningfully. When you fee the urge to post "whatever," just don't post.
I comment:
No, it is a way of expressing disgust and an admission that I choose not to endure further censure or frustration, faced with the apparently inexorable flow of the discussion towards further defense of what is to millions of us, the indefensible.
Ah. You can't let your disgust with the indefensible half of the country go unexpressed, so you can't just not post, you have to post that you aren't posting because of how disgusted you. 

9
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 02:38:11 PM »
Inauguration days are usually about symbolic gestures that signal ambitions for the actual work of the administration. Biden has removed the bust of Churchill and replaced it with Cesar Chavez. Probably because he didn’t want to do anything divisive.

10
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 02:12:50 PM »
And Pastor Engebretson, We are on very shaky ground when we start trying to discern how “solid” a person’s commitment (credentials? A legal term?) is to their faith. Why do we want to do that?

My greater concern really has to do with how he reconciles his policy commitments with his professed faith.  His status with the RCC does not concern me in any serious way, as it is a matter between him and his priest and bishop.  I'm really more interested in how he navigates all this as one who professes to be a faithful Catholic.


Cannot an Orthodox Jewish politician practices his faith, e.g., refusing to eat non-kosher foods, while supporting laws favoring pork producers or shrimp fishermen?
Bogus comparison. Jewish law doesn’t forbid Gentiles from eating pork.

11
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 11:53:39 AM »
Peter, I have things to say, and in other forums I am able to say them. But on occasion, I conclude that it is not worth trying to do so in this modest forum with the current participants. So "whatever" is, in a way, saying "you get the floor; you dominate, I'm hors de combat."
It is a way of expressing disdain without actually being able to engage the discussion meaningfully. When you fee the urge to post "whatever," just don't post.

12
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 11:27:10 AM »
Definitely a time for “whatever.”
The time for you to realize that you have nothing to say is before you post.

13
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 10:28:33 AM »
The difference, Peter, is that the most recent  ex-president did not “act” like the president of all Americans.
Sure he did. You whined and pouted and sputtered vitriol for four years, but you can't point to a single thing Trump did as president that he didn't do for all Americans. You just didn't like those things, like the Keystone pipeline, or the border enforcement, or the trade deals, or whatever. But they were all done for all Americans in exactly the same way that Biden feels like cancelling the pipeline, relaxing border enforcement, making new trade deals, and whatever else are all things he is doing for all Americans. When Biden said "You ain't black" if you aren't sure whether to support him, that wasn't uniting, that was dividing. When he said Romney was going to put black people back in chains, that wasn't uniting, that was dividing. When he continually blames Trump for the kids in cages that his administration initiated and Trump got rid of, he isn't uniting, he is dividing. There is nothing more inherently divisive than identity politics. He employs it for partisan political purposes. That's just the way of things. You can't get elected without picking a side and drawing contrasts.

Trump was the president for all Americans. So is Biden. In exactly the same ways.   

14
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 10:12:27 AM »
It was written:
 Cardinal Raymond Burke has said Biden was not a 'Catholic in good standing.'"
I comment:
FWIW, Cardinal Burke is not sure Pope Francis is “ a Catholic in good standing.”
Pointing to influential Catholics on one side is no valid argument unless pointing to influential Catholics on the other side is valid a counter-argument. Cardinal Burke is a Cardinal. He knows way more about these things than anyone in this discussion. That doesn't make him correct, but it does mean that people in this board who agree with him are not taking some kook, fringe position or simply being uncharitable.

 

15
Your Turn / Re: Inauguration Day
« on: January 22, 2021, 09:47:24 AM »
Every president is a president for all Americans. No president has the support of all Americans. Every president who gets elected has to defeat someone else by taking a side. With the possible exception of George Washington, there have been no presidents elected more or less by consensus and general acclamation.

The political pablum involved with calling Biden a president for all Americans is really simply a swipe at Trump for supposedly only having been a president for some Americans. It retroactively validates those who declared "not my president" during the last administration and heads off any similar behavior by Republicans the next one. You see, Democrats were right to reject the Trump presidency because Trump was divisive. Republicans would be wrong to reject the Biden presidency because Biden is a uniter. That's how this works. 

In reality, Biden is the president for all Americans in the precise, exact, identical way and degree that Trump was the president of all Americans, and Obama and Bush before him.   

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