Saturday, February 12, 2011

AbUSed: The Postville Raid

If you have a chance to see this film -- you should.  The Postville Raid on May 12 2008 was a man-made disaster and a travesty of justice.  See my Post on this in 2009  Postville--One Year Later

If the Bush administration was looking for this raid to be the an example of how to do it and a model for more raids, they picked the wrong place.  In another world view, it was the right place for this to happen.  Because this small Iowa town refused to stand for their neighbors being treated this way.

Our immigrations system is still broken and a mess.  But if anything good came out of the tragedy of Postville it was the clear lesson - This is NOT how to fix it.

Friday, February 11, 2011


This is a great idea.  Because some people only seem to believe it if they read it on the internet.  This is an FAQ about the Genetics Social Statement.  Lots of nonsense being spread about that statement.  I wish there had been something like this about the sexuality statement last year.  Or one to address some other rumours being spread about the ELCA - you know like how we've all been led astray by heretics like the notorious liberal universalist Carl Braaten.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Well Now I feel like part of the crowd.

What with Father Anonymous being called petulant or something like that,  the mild manner Pastor Jansen being told he has a closed heart I was feeling left out.  How come nobody abuses me on my blog I wondered?  I can be petulant!  I can be arrogant!  I can certainly be a socialist!!

I'll just have to stick with being called homely here.  I'm going to give Nixon one chance.  Any more of that I'll have to bann him.  Really homely?  That's the best he could do?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Keep the Light Going!

We heard about Muslims forming a human shield to protect Coptic Christians during their Christmas worship.  Here is a photo of Christians holding hands encircling Muslims while they pray in the midst of violent protests in  Egypt.

"Let  your light so shine that all may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven". -

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fall to Grace - A Revolution of God, Self, and Society Review

This is a difficult book to review.  Mostly I think because it wasn't written for me.   I'm middle aged and I didn't grow up in a judgmental religious atmosphere that turned me off religion.  Which is probably why people like me need to read this book.  But probably not for the purpose Bakker intends.  He wants to tell Christians who have never really gotten grace about grace.  He's preaching to the choir as far as I'm concerned.  But in this book is a glimpse of the pain and confusion of many many so-called Christians who really don't have a clue what the Gospel is really about.

If you are my age, you will remember his parents Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.  I think I was probably most touched by the few times in the book he reveals a window into what it was like to be a kid in that circus.  Early in the book he says this about them:

My parents weren't fire and brimstone types, not by any means (They signed off every episode of their show with the catchphrase "God loves you.  He really really does.") But they did subscribe to the standard-issue Southern evangelical beliefs of the day.  Heaven and hell were the carrot and the stick of our faith.  Either you followed the rules or you went straight to H-E-double-hockey-sticks

And yet later in the book he tells of his mother gently leading him to love and acceptance when he discovers at 13 his friend his gay.  I was also shocked to learn that there's a segment of the gay community who LOVED Tammy Faye and it wasn't (as Jay and I supposed) because of her eyelashes and make up --they saw grace in her.

I think also the difficulty I had with the book is that he convicted me.  Oh I know all about grace.  I'm not judgmental. I'm all for full inclusion of LGTB people in the church.   But you know, until I read this book, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker were a joke to me.  It never occurred to me that maybe they and Ted Haggard could us a little grace and forgiveness.  He writes very sympathetically of Tedd Haggard:

What he needed was restoration.  What he got was a one-way bus ticket across the state line.  That's right--he was exiled, run out of town.  His church board literally required him to leave the state in exchange for a severance package (what is this, the Wild West ? This town aint big enough for both of us..) Where's the grace in that?

Where indeed?   Of course to show grace to Tedd Haggard, they'd have to preach a whole different gospel, which is of course, the point.

I wished there was more of the personal from him in this book but perhaps that's just voyeurism speaking.  I was a little impatient with his biblical exegesis because, well I've read better scholars on the subject.  But again this book isn't for me, it's for people who don't read the scholars I read.

I think people need to read this book.  Because the truth is, it's become more and more clear to me there are still a LOT of so-called Christians who really don't have a clue what grace is. They don't know how to show it and they don't know how to receive it.  I have a disturbing suspicion that Jay Bakker and his gang with his church in a bar is much more on the front lines of mission work than I am.  But people in the pews in Iowa need to hear the Gospel as well.  So whether it's a tribe in the Amazon, a bar in New York or a country church in Iowa, we all serve where we are called.  We may get excited about the work in the Amazon but we need to hear about what's going on in the bar in New York as well.

This is How We treat our Friends

Vang Pao died on January 6 in Fresno.  Never heard of him?  Me either until I heard on the news that a committee an turned down his family's request that he be allowed a waiver to be buried in Arlington cemetery.

Who was General Vang Pao?  To the exiled Hmong in the US he is George Washington, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.  Read more about him here  Gen. Vang Pao revered by Hmong

Note this:  
Vang was a general in the Royal Lao Army in the early 1960s when he teamed with the CIA in the "secret war" against communism in Laos.
Vang led Hmong guerrilla fighters in the jungle, rescuing downed American pilots and protecting U.S. military installations.
His forces saved countless American lives, holding off North Vietnamese soldiers from reaching American troops via the Ho Chi Minh Trail, said Robert Noble, a flight mechanic for Air America, the CIA-run air wing.

I lived near a large Hmong community in Wausau Wisconsin.  They were resented and despised like any other immigrant group.  Nobody knew or cared about the role they played in the Vietnam war.  This country has a VERY short memory.  It doesn't help that we would prefer to forget about Vietnam altogether, much more difficult to remember what risks and sacrifices the Hmong took to help the US.  
And now we can't even find a spot for him at Arlington.  Disgraceful.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Five - The Perks of Ministry

When clergy get together we tend to bitch about the job. So I was glad to see the RevGalBlogPals talking about the PERKS of ministry:

I think I didn't actually realize this perk until I was explaining it to someone in my former parish who was expressing sympathy about how hard it would be for me to fit in the community and get to know people at my new parish.  In a small community if you are the pastor you have a fast pass in.  People accept you, talk to you, want to know you, trust you  and assume good things about you right away.  You have an instant in.  Yes there are some dangers and pitfalls and disadvantages to that but please,  this is about the PERKS.   I think clergy take that for granted. Don't underestimate what a gift an instant friendly community is when you have moved to a totally new place.  The average Joe who moves to a new place does not have that.

FLEXIBILITY FLEXIBILITY FLEXIBILITY-- I could skate on the nearly empty noon figure skating only sessions at the local rink.  I take Mondays off (and I decide what day I want to take off) but if I want to take Tuesday off and there's nothing else on the schedule, I can.  This is a perk any parent can love, but I cannot begin to tell you what a Godsend this is to the single parent.

The discipline of *having* to write sermons and prepare bible studies and write devotions for the newsletter.  I probably wouldn't do that stuff if I didn't have to.  

Continuing Education events.   Colleague groups.  Text Studies.   Youth Mission trips.  Confirmation classes.  Being part of something bigger than the local congregation.  

Oh and that housing tax perk is nothing to sneeze at. 

One more.  Look at my picture.  People are actually LISTENING TO ME.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Candlemas, Presentation of Our Lord, Ground Hogs Day, Festival of Lights

Midway between the shortest day of the year and the Spring Equinox, from ancient times those in the cold part of the earth turned their thoughts toward Spring.

In Rome February was added to the calendar - 'februa' - meaning cleansing or purification - and there were purification rites during this time to get ready for Spring.  

And in Her infinite wisdom, the Church neatly fit in with this need to wash off the cold and grime of winter with The Feast of the Purification of Mary, which Protestants have turned into the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus.  

And for the former pagans who enjoyed their February Festival of Lights - the church gave them Candlemas, a time when all the candles to be used for worship would be blessed.  In some places folks would bring their candles from home to be blessed for a little extra protection at home.

And being midway between winter and spring, people naturally begin to wonder when will we have a winter thaw? 

And so from ancient times people have looked for signs.   

The ground hog's ability is traced back to the Germans but the Romans had some rodent to do it as well.  

All this to say, it's been a long winter.  We could use a little sunshine.