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The Spiritual Sickness of Independence and Autonomy

Posted on September 29th, 2011

I wrote this back in April 2011 but never published it. I guess that’s because I didn’t quite write what I set out to write. But I publish it now for the sake of discussion. Subtitle 1: A Rambling Defense of Classic Denominationalism Subtitle 2: Why I Am Still a Member of the Missouri Synod An especially American characteristic is to love independence and autonomy. Such is true also in the ecclesiology of many Americans. Denominations are declining, while independent churches are proliferating. A handful of these churches are Lutheran in name and in some aspects of their worship and theology, but are part of no formal communion fellowship with other Lutheran churches. Consider that: they are in communion with no one but themselves!…

The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist (Brief Reviews)

Posted on September 28th, 2011

Rarely can books dealing with demons or the supernatural be accused of being overly mundane. Matt Baglio’s The Rite is the first book I’ve read on exorcism or demonology that falls into that category. The book wasn’t entirely boring, although it took me awhile to finish; there simply wasn’t the eagerness to turn the page and discover what happens next. Baglio, a journalist, tells the story of an American Priest of the Roman Church who is trained in Rome to perform exorcisms. He pulls back the mystery surrounding how exorcists are trained. Far from unthinking superstition, the priests hear lectures from psychologists, medical doctors, and law enforcement, among others. Instead of finding demons under every knock of a shutter or mewing cat in a…

Trinity 14 sermon

Posted on September 27th, 2011

St. Luke 17:11-19 Did you notice, at the end of last Sunday’s Gospel, the lawyer couldn’t even bring himself to say the word “Samaritan”? The lawyer had asked Jesus the question, “And who is my neighbor?”, which prompted Jesus to tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan. And when He was done, Jesus asked the lawyer which of the three men in the parable proved to be a neighbor to the man dying in the ditch. Instead of the natural response, “The Samaritan acted like a neighbor,” the lawyer just says, “The one who showed mercy.” He couldn’t bring himself to even say the word! The word “Samaritan,” if the Jews said it at all, was used as a curse. The church in her…

Sermon for the Feast of St. Matthew

Posted on September 21st, 2011

I am not who I want to be. I am not who I should be. I want to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. But the horrible truth is that I am a sinner through and through. I wish I were improving, becoming more spiritual, more knowledgeable, more faithful, more loving. But my own experience is that I am growing worse and not better. I am not who I want to be, and I suppose I won’t be who I should be until I die. Those are my own thoughts, about myself, today. But I imagine that they were also, at least partially, the thoughts of Levi the Tax Collector as he sat in his office the day Jesus came by. He probably…

Netflix is dying

Posted on September 19th, 2011

Wow. I was astonished to wake up this morning with this in my inbox: It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming. Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray,…

Minnesota South’s Mess of Pottage

Posted on September 14th, 2011

I am deeply grieved this day, and disgusted, by the price the Minnesota South District [MNS] has put on the Gospel. Esau sold his birthright for some bread and pottage of lentils. Is it more impressive, or less, that $3.2 million is the price the Minnesota South District has said they are willing to take to destroy a thriving Lutheran congregation in the heart of the University of Minnesota, the third-largest school in the country? It could be understood if the congregation were failing, or they were going to use the money to purchase an even more strategic location. But they are not. The impact of University Lutheran Chapel is enormous, with a history of faithful pastors. It simply boggles the mind that such…

Sermon for a Day of Supplication and Prayer on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11

Posted on September 12th, 2011

“When nineteen jihadist hijackers slammed two airplanes into the World Trade Center towers and another into the Pentagon ten years ago, they saw themselves as heroes of an apocalyptic holy war” (Peter Leithart). Ten years later, wars still rage: Afghanistan and Iraq seem very far away, until you visit a military hospital and see the men missing legs and arms and fingers, who will never be the same. Wars of words also rage, as atheists blame religion of every stripe for all the world’s ills. It’s important for us to recognize that we are at war. The war is not with Islam, nor any nation or terrorist group. The war is not with the atheists, or secular humanists. The war is not with the…

Sic semper tyrannis

Posted on September 6th, 2011

The Latin motto for the Commonwealth of Virginia is Sic semper tyrannis. I suggest we change it, as it is becoming a farce. I now have to apply for a one-use permit from Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control every time I purchase wine for sacramental use at Immanuel. It won’t be that much of a burden, but it is utterly non-sensical, and does absolutely nothing to advance the welfare of the commonwealth.  So much for liberty in general, and religious liberty in particular. UPDATE: Apparently this has been a law for awhile, but our supplier was ignoring it. He got audited, and now he must. This makes me sad. The government of Virginia has nothing better to do than go after a small ecclesiastical goods supplier for…