Thursday, September 30, 2010

Basic Religion Test Stumps Many Americans

Americans are religious--but they don't know much.  Check out the following link:

Most poignant to me was the following statement:

"Fifty-three percent of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Protestant Reformation."

This led me to visit YouTube in order to watch the following video.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Death of the English Language?

So says Gene Weingarten on the Washington Post website.  He writes: "The end came quietly on Aug. 21 on the letters page of The Washington Post. A reader castigated the newspaper for having written that Sasha Obama was the "youngest" daughter of the president and first lady, rather than their "younger" daughter. In so doing, however, the letter writer called the first couple the "Obama's." This, too, was published, constituting an illiterate proofreading of an illiterate criticism of an illiteracy. Moments later, already severely weakened, English died of shame."

Further evidence: "On Aug. 6, the very first word of an article in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal was 'Alot,' which the newspaper employed to estimate the number of Winston-Salemites who would be vacationing that month.  The Lewiston (Maine) Sun-Journal has written of 'spading and neutering.' The Miami Herald reported on someone who 'eeks out a living'-- alas, not by running an amusement-park haunted house. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star described professional football as a 'doggy dog world.' The Vallejo (Calif.) Times-Herald and the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune were the two most recent papers, out of dozens, to report on the treatment of 'prostrate cancer.'"

Hey, any article that uses the word "alas" is good by me.

You may read the whole article at

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Art of Herding Cats

This is not necessarily a comment on being the academic dean at Concordia Theological Seminary:

A Report from Ecumenical News International

Ecumenical News International 
News Highlights
 23 September 2010 

World churches leader urges African Christians to be self-critical 

 Nairobi (ENI). The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, has praised churches in Africa for their resilience against the challenges they face but has also urged them to be self-critical. Tveit, a Norwegian Lutheran, was on his first tour of Africa as WCC general secretary after taking over from his Kenyan predecessor, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, in January. Tveit's 21 to 27 September trip will take him to Kenya and Ethiopia. "I commend your resilience and your strength and your hope which you have shown, and which you continue to show in your many struggles for justice and peace in Africa, often in very difficult and very challenging times," said Tveit in a sermon at the headquarters of the All Africa Conference of Churches in Nairobi. [465 words, ENI-10-0649]

Mount Everest One Spoonful at a Time

The new LCMS administration has a huge job on its hands in implementing the structural changes approved at last summer's convention.  President Harrison describe it as "tackling Mount Everest one spoonful at a time."  The good news is that he and his team are not alone.  The pastors, teachers, deaconesses, and people of the synod are praying for them, and they will be consulting throughout the synod as they tackle this demanding task.

Read all about it here at Dr. Albert Collver's blog.  It's good stuff!  So good, that I just decided to reproduce the whole thing below, following my comments.

But I have to admit, President Harrison's remarks reminded me of two things.  First, the book that got me through my doctoral dissertation, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott.  While not a text for the squeamish (the language can get rough), it is a brilliant piece about writing a little every day--even if what you write is junk--and simply keeping after it.  The title comes from an event in Anne's life when she had a report due on bird life and little time to write it.  "Bird by bird," said her writer father.  And soon enough the task was complete.

The other is a commercial that cracks me up.  When the synod gave our semianry the responsibility of initiating a contextual education program using distance learning technology--and no funding to do so--we often laughed that we were "building the plane in the air."  Take a look at this!



Mount Everest One Spoonful at a Time

Barb Below, Jon Vieker, Herb Mueller, Kim Vieker
Yesterday afternoon, President Harrison met with his staff, 1st vice president, and secretary of the Synod to discuss Resolution 8-08A. Topics discussed included but not limited to: what actions are required to fulfill faithfully Resolution 8-08A, what are the expectations of the church; what timeframe is needed to bring Resolution 8-0A to fruition, financial concerns, how to integrate the former program boards into the Office of National Mission and the Office of International Mission, and the concerns people have about what this resolution means for them in the International Center.
Dr. Raymond Hartwig explaining updated bylaws to  President Harrison
In the meeting, President Harrison told Dr. Hartwig that figuring out how to implement restructuring (Resolution 8-08A) in light of the personnel, financial, and churchly concerns in addition to the regular duties that each person on his staff is entrusted is like tackling "Mount Everest one spoonful at a time." Dr. Hartwig replied, "I do not envy any of you in your task, but I am here to help in anyway possible." In the past, President Harrison has described the restructuring task as being like retrofitting a 747 Jetliner mid-flight -- rebuilding the engines, remodeling the cabin, and reconstructing the cockpit without crashing the plane. President Harrison plans to consult with people throughout the church as we move forward.

When there are monumental challenges, President Harrison's pastoral approach becomes particularly evident. After a couple of hours discussing what had to be done and creating some sort term goals, President Harrison said something like, "The task before us is great, but doable. The Convention has mandated it, and restructuring will be a blessing to the Church. The Lord has put each one of us here at this moment for the task before us. Take comfort in the Lord who gives all strength." 

And while Resolution 8-08A has not been implemented throughout the International Center (please keep in mind that President Harrison has only been in his position for 22 days and it will take time), the church's work of Witness, Mercy, and Life Together continues as people hear the Gospel, as people are helped in their time of need, and as we continue to live together as the Lord's people joined together in Christ. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rastaman Visits the LCMS International Center -- EVIDENCE!

My good friend Al Collver has posted the evidence that I was not only at the IC today, but in the president's office.  It was good to visit with President Harrison and his staff.  It was also wonderful to spend the day working on our ongoing oral history project dealing with Black Ministry in both the LCMS and the old synodical conference.

Click here to visit Dr. Collver's excellent blog.  I've reproduced today's below.


Rastaman Visits the IC

Rev. Dr. Larry Rast from Concordia Theological Seminary visits with President Harrison.

Dr. Rast is author of Rastaman Vibrations where he "deals with stuff that interests him -- especially American Religious history, Lutheranism, the Pennsylvania Railroad, obscure music, and Africa." Other than the Pennsylvania Railroad, Dr. Rast can find all of his listed interests in President Harrison's Office.

A Little Bit of Africa

Yet visiting President Harrison wasn't Dr. Rast's primary purpose in coming to the International Center. He came to interview on video people who have been involved in Black Ministry. Dr. Rast began this project at the Synod Convention in Houston, TX.

We look forward to seeing the results of Dr. Rast's interviews on the LCMS' work in black ministry.