Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lutherans, Hogs and Social Statements

The ELCA has released a  Draft Social Statement on Genetics 
a while ago.  And so now is why a congregation in North Dakota is leaving the ELCA.    Obie Holmen over at Spirit of a Liberal has a good post about how STUPID PEOPLE are about believing  CRAP they read on the internet and reaching all kinds of crazy conclusions and then blaming everything on the ELCA.  Okay well, he says it nicer.

I'd just like to make a few comments.  First of all, the HYPOCRISY of some of this rhetoric is making my eyes bleed.  These are the same people who want the ELCA to have a social statement that tells women exactly what they should do with their bodies and their pregnancies.  But tell a FARMER what do to do with his SEED CORN???  Oh no.  HOW DARE THE ELCA suggest that you know, maybe God and the Gospel and ethics is not just about pregnant women but maybe has something to do with YOUR life??

And what is with all these comments about how terrible social statements are and how they are divisive, and the church sticking its nose where it doesn't belong and yadda yada.

I LIKE social statements.  Even ones I don't agree with or don't think are written all that well.  If Pastors would just USE THEM the way they are supposed to be used, we would all be better off.  

I lay a whole wad of blame on ELCA pastors for our current situation.  Pastors who a) are too wussy to share with their congregations what they learned about biblical scholarship so we have a boatload of lay people who think respecting biblical authority equals being fundamentalists.  And b)  I blame pastors for being too chicken and too lazy for getting out the social statements, beating the doors and dragging people to study them.

The problem is not enough people have had a chance to look at social studies with their pastor and fellow Christians.   It's not just that people have no idea what these studies say, it's that people don't understand their purpose.  They think they are supposed to be some sort of Papal Decree stating definitively- "This is What the ELCA Believes about That".  That's not what they are for.  They are to give us resources to teach us how to talk about things in the world that are difficult.  They are to teach us how to have conversations with Christian brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.  They are to teach us to wrestle with difficult issues, think about these things and use what we have heard and learned and thought about when it comes to our day to day living.  And they teach us to live with ambiguity which always drives us back to Grace.   We can never be certain of anything but God's mercy and grace.  We just do the best we can and cling to God's grace.  

We'd all be much better off if we had more practice doing that.

So pastors, dig that damned draft out of your back file and put a study on the calendar.  Offer Christmas cookies.  But do the study. 

Not really skating with the Stars

I don't really like this show as much as you think I would.   I remember when Fox had their version and it annoyed me for two reasons.  First of all, Lloyd Eisner, who I used to be a big fan of back when he competed in the 90s with Isabell Brasseur, goes and knocks up his "celebrity" partner  when his wife just had a baby.   Kind of spoiled the whole show for me.

The other thing that bothered me is that I've skated for more than ten years and these people get out there and make it look like all you need is a couple of weeks and skating's really not that hard and why can't I skate like that?

But if you take a good look --these celebrities are not actually skating much at all.  Obviously some have more of a knack at it than others - like the star of my favorite Soap "All My Children" Rebecca Budig.  She looks really good.  But really what she is good at is holding a pose.  And her partner was very good at pulling her around and choreographing a program that makes her look good without having to actually skate much.

Because skating IS harder than dancing.

But Johnny Weir is a judge and he skated and that alone makes it worth tuning in.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Five - Pie

The RevGalBlogPals are discussing pie.....

1) Are pies an important part of a holiday meal?  Yes.  One year at my sister-in-law's they served some kind of pumpkin bar instead of pie.  It just was not right.

2) Men prefer pie; women prefer cake. Discuss.  Well I know my husband preferred pie and so does my son.  I think it might have something to do with the fact usually it's the women who make pies (though my husband made a mean sweet potato pie) and pies are more trouble to make than cake.

3) Cherries--do they belong in a pie?  Well of course.  But pitting them can be a pain.

4) Meringue--if you have to choose, is it best on lemon or chocolate?  I'm not real crazy about meringue.   I prefer chocolate or lemon cream pie.

5) In a chicken pie, what are the most compatible vegetables? Anything you don't like to find in a chicken pie?  Onions and carrots are a must.  I don't like peas.

More about pie...

Regarding crust.  I am more a cook than a baker.  People are usually better at one than the other.  They require different skills.  Baking requires precision.  Cooking requires experimentation.  I am not precise.  I cannot make a decent pie crust.  I can't manipulate it. You can't mess with pie crust.  The more  you manipulate it the worse it tastes.  You need to make it, roll it and put in the pie tin, no fooling around or repairing the torn part or rolling it up in a ball and starting over.   I just can't do it. I buy the refrigerated pre- made crusts.  They taste decent but of course home made is better.  But not my homemade. 

I make good pumpkin pie.  I make it with sweetened condensed milk.   Makes a richer pie.  But I really think anything made with pumpkin taste better if you use squash or sweet potatoes instead.  The only reason people make pumpkin pie is because that's all pumpkin is good for - to be mixed with sugar.

A fun thing I like to do with fruit pies is cut out the top dough with cookie cutters.  

Enough about pie.  Today I take crap to the Good Will and pack more.  Moving day is Monday.   I still have hope I will be ready by then.

PS - Joan's blog about canned filling reminded me of a story when I was younger.  I had a boyfriend who liked pie.  I wasn't much into cooking or baking then but I would buy a pre made crust, dump a can of fruit pie filling in it, bake it and it was plenty good enough for him.
So I was living in a rented room in a house with a couple of other girls and an old lady who owned the house.  One of the girls grabs me in the kitchen and shows me the empty fruit can and starts ranting "Look at this -- Wilma (the landlady) made this pie --she used premade crust and CANNED filling!  Isn't that horrible!  My mother is a gourmet cook and she would have a stroke if she saw that"  I tried to interrupt her and say that it was me because I was not ashamed.  But she just kept going on and after awhile  I felt like I would embarrass HER if I said anything.  Later that day I grabbed my pie and went out the door and waved at her.  She never said a word.  My boyfriend loved the pie and loved the effort. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Have a Very Lutheran Thanksgiving.

Which means JELLO of course:

1 6 oz  Box Raspberry or Orange Jello
1 can jelled Cranberry Sauce
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple

Prepare jello as directed.  Let set an hour to an hour an a half.  Mix in cranberry sauce and pineapple well. 

There.  Now you can have a real Lutheran Thanksgiving.

PS - I DO make real cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries as well, but this has been a family tradition since the kids were tots.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Knowing only Christ

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.  I Corinthians 2:1-3

Yesterday was my last Sunday.  

Next Sunday the church I have served the passed five and half years will vote to leave the ELCA and the day after that I will move to a new home.

I usually use the above text for my farewell sermons.  This time there was no farewell sermon.  I just didn't have it in me to preach that kind of a sermon under these circumstances.  

It's been very difficult for me to find the balance between forgiving, leaving gracefully but not being "Minnesota nice" and pretending everything is okay and normal.  To me the answer as been to live those words of Paul - to decide to know only Christ and him crucified.

I've been in conflicted congregations.  I've been targeted by "alligators"  I've been a scapegoat.  Most pastors have.  It's not pleasant but you learn to deal with it.

I've never been in a congregation where the people just basically stopped listening to you.  

The last year there has basically been absolutely no respect for me as the pastor.    People chose to believe things they read from strangers on the internet instead of me.   People pretty much ignored me except for that cursed "Minnesota nice" where they are nice to your face and turn around and say God knows what about you behind your back.

But the one power they could not take away from me was the power to preach the gospel.  

I still got in that pulpit every Sunday and preached the Gospel.  The more they complained about "Gospel lite" and "too much grace"  the more I preached grace and forgiveness and God's love.  

Many ignored it, some tried to argue against it, but I'm convinced some heard it.  

All I had was Christ and him crucified and the Gospel and I preached it.  

And that's how I survived.  

Until the last day when I had no sentimental tear jerking farewell sermon.  All I had was Christ and him crucified and that's what I preached.  

And to me it just proves what I've suspected all along---there's lots of things people think pastors ought to do these days and that's all fine.  But Lutherans have always taught the ordained ministry is about the Word and the Sacrament.

  Yesterday all I had was the Gospel and the words - "Take and eat, the body and blood of Christ, given and poured out for you, for the forgiveness of sin "

I will say more about what I learned this past year.  But I still need time to figure out how to say it in a way that helps me forgive this congregation but also recognizes that they do need my forgiveness.

I needed forgiveness too and of course part of the problem was that they were pretty unforgiving.  

Pastors need forgiveness.  Forgiveness helps me repent.    

It's so backwards when we insist repentance comes first.  

It is when forgiveness is withheld from me that I turn to justifying and rationalizing and excusing myself.  It is when I am forgiven that I can humbly accept my error and resolve to do better next time.  

Being unforgiven leaves a gaping wound.  

If forgiveness is  not forthcoming then the only way to heal that wound is to forgive the unforgiveness.

Love.  Grace.  Forgiveness.  That is all there is.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Airing our Dirty Laundry

Lately pastors in my synod have taken to handing over correspondence between their church, themselves and the bishop and spreading their version of confidential meetings with the bishop all over the internet.    This is because they believe they are victims of our big bad bully of a bishop, Steven Ullestad. Here is what I'm talking about.  Bishop Suspends Zions Pastors

Rather odd that these are the same group that want to restore LAW to it's rightful place and tone down all the grace stuff.  Except of course when THEY are the ones who are being asked to JUST FOLLOW THE DAMNED RULES already.

If you are an ELCA pastor, you can't serve another denomination without permission.  That includes LCMC and NALC.  "But but but!" They stutter.  "Nobody worried about the rules when there were gay pastors not following Visions and Expectations.

Well actually, there were.  Quite a few pastors and churches were disciplined.  And I know that the bishop who is doing the disciplining now, WOULD have been disciplined pastors and congregations had he occasion to in his synod.  I have heard him say he thought bishops who did not should have.  But he respected the reasoning of those who did not.

I just think it is unseemly to be sending letters the bishop wrote to YOU PERSONALLY to newspapers. But of course that is the way of this reality TV culture.  Invite everyone into your business to make judgments and take sides without a) having all the facts  b) any right whatsoever to make a judgment on the matter.

Anyway I trust our bishop.  And feel really bad he has to put up with this crap.  And am very proud that he is taking the high road and not engaging on the same level. 

And if these are the kinds of people who are leaving the ELCA -- sorry but good riddance.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

If you are in the US VOTE

I know there is good reason for cynicism.   I know there is a lot of corruption.  I know we little folk don't have a whole lot of power.  But I still believe my vote counts.  Call me naive.  Call me idealistic.
Women in this country were arrested, locked up in insane asylums, beat up, force fed and lost their children so that I can vote.  People of color in this country were terrorized, tortured and killed so that all people could vote.
 Women in other countries risk acid thrown into their faces in order to vote. When Blacks obtained the right to vote in South Africa they would walk miles to polling places and wait hours in order to vote.
Vote, if for no other reason than to honor the people who sacrificed so much for this precious right.