Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Young Clergy Crisis in the Presbyterian Church

Borrowed from Incarnatus Est (Greg Alms), who found it on the Christian Century website (, this piece addresses a challenge that is facing many of the larger church bodies in the United States, particularly those in the "mainline."  This brief piece is definitely worth reading.


Perspectives on the young clergy crisis

Since I’ve been chairing a national Presbyterian Church (USA) committee on the Nature of the Church for the 21st century, I’ve been gaining a different perspective on many of the larger trends of our denomination. One thing that has been difficult to realize (and equally difficult to communicate to the larger church) is the young clergy crisis.
Why would I call it a crisis? We’ve known for a long time about the startling decline of young clergy. The drop-out rates don't help (I can't find hard and fast stats on this... but some claim that about 70% of young clergy drop out within the first five years of ministry, usually because of lack of support or financial reasons). The average age of a pastor in the PCUSA is 53. And I’ve realized that the age of our leadership might be much higher. 
Over half of our congregations cannot afford a full-time pastor and many associate pastor positions were cut during the recent economic downturn. These are churches where seminary graduates would normally be heading, so what are the congregations doing instead? Many of them are hiring retired ministers or retired laypeople to serve these churches while our younger pastors remain unemployed.
Do I have something against people over 65? Of course not. I also have sympathy for people who have seen their retirement savings dwindle over the last four years. I know that many people have great energy well past the age of 65. So why would this situation be a problem?
Like all denominations, the age of our worshipers is increasing. The median age of a Presbyterian in the pew is 61. Half of our membership is over the age of 65, and four out of five worshipers are over the age of 45. Jackson Carroll points out that the age of a congregation will often reflect the age of its pastoral leadership. 
So, if we’re trying to imagine a compelling vision for the church in the years to come, we'll need to reach the next generation. But that's hard to do when
•Half of our congregations may be served by pastors and laypeople who are 65 or older
•The other half of our congregations are being served by people who are about 53
•Younger pastors can’t find calls and are forced to take up other employment
•Many younger pastors who do get called to pastorates drop out within the first 5 years of ministry. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

What's in a Name?

This totally cracks me up!!!!


Mom no longer wants son named after Urban Meyer

By Reid Cherner, USA TODAY

By Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY
Spurrier Urban Wiley seemed like a perfect name for a son.Until the man he was named for took a job at Ohio State.

University of Florida graduate Jen Wiley named her son for two of the most successful coaches in school history -- Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.

"My husband and I got married in 1996, when Spurrier won the championships," Wiley told reporter Chris Hopper of Bay News 9. "And then we conceived in 2006 when Urban Meyer won the championship."

Wiley said "I felt sick" when Meyer took the job in Columbus and now she wants to change her 4-year-old son's middle name but only if her husband agrees.

The name up for grabs? Tim as in Tebow.

From USA Today, December 8, 2011, p. 3C.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Truth Really Is Stranger Than Fiction

Bob Jones University, which has consistently questioned whether the Roman Catholic Church is even Christian, apparently has a huge collection of religious art from the late medieval and early modern Roman Catholic Church.  Strange!  But whoever said human beings are consistent?

Here's the story from ENI.

U.S. Fundamentalist University Maintains Stunning Catholic Art Collection

Greenville, South Carolina (ENInews)--Walking across the tidy campus of Bob Jones University (BJU) in Greenville, South Carolina, there's no obvious sign this bastion of Christian fundamentalism is also home to one of the nation's largest collections of Renaissance and Baroque religious art from the heart of Catholic Europe. It's all the more surprising since the school's old-time Protestant leaders have for years taught that Catholicism is a "cult" and even the "Mother of Harlots," Religion News Service reports. But the school has amassed the collection out of a sincere belief in the teaching mission of great religious art, according to school leaders and art curators. [812 words, ENI-11-0637]

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Be Careful with Your Word Choice...

Self-immolations may flare up? WOW!

"Tibetan protests spread to Nepal

Kathmandu (ENInews)--After growing protests in Tibet and India against China's rule of the formerly Buddhist kingdom of Tibet, demonstrations have now flared up in Nepal with police arresting nearly 100 people near the Samdupling Tibetan refugee camp in Kathmandu valley. Nepalese police said they acted on a tip that some people would attempt self-immolation in protest on 2 November, the second day of a three-day 'Global Action' campaign by Tibetans in Nepal. [300 words, ENI-11-0597]"

Here's a short video on the protest.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Near Miss at Harper's Ferry

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, is a GREAT train watching spot.  You can see a video that I shot there a couple of years ago here (the good one got deleted somehow, but that's the way it goes).

But this video, which is making the rounds on trainwatching websites, is rather disturbing.  It reminds us that when you're out train watching, you need to be aware of your circumstances!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Masaki Wins--AGAIN!

Dr. Naomichi Masaki (right), along with Dr. Timothy Quill (center), and Dr. Albert Collver (left), have argued for years that the appropriate response to "The Lord be with You," should be "And with Your Spirit."

Well, now the Pope agrees with them, so I guess it's settled.  See the following:

  • "Perhaps the most basic change will be when the priest says: 'The Lord be with you.' The congregation will no longer say 'And also with you.' The new response is 'And with your spirit.'"

Masaki wins--again!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ACNA/LCMS Dialogue at CTS

This coming Thursday and Friday, October 27-28, Concordia Theological Seminary will be hosting the dialogue between the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and our own Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.  This will be the third in a series of four planned meetings between the two church bodies and will address the theme Contemporary Issues Facing the Church in North America.

The ACNA’s website describes the church body as “the reuniting of orthodox Anglicans who have been squeezed out of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada by successive changes to historic Christian teaching and Anglican practice.”

Representatives of the LCMS to the dialogue are Dr. Matthew Harrison, president of the LCMS; Dr. Albert Collver III, director of Church Relations – assistant to the president; Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR); Dr. Lawrence Rast, CTCR chairman and president at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne; Rev. Larry Vogel, CTCR staff member; and Dr. Frederic Baue, pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Fairview Heights, Ill.  Dr. John Stephenson has represented Lutheran Church—Canada.

Official representatives of the ACNA have included Archbishop Robert Duncan, primate of the ACNA; Bishop Wes Nolden of the Missionary Diocese of the Central States;  and Dr. Jonathan Riches, associate professor of liturgics theology and assistant academic dean at Reformed Episcopal Seminary; and Bishop Ray Sutton of the Diocese of Mid-America.  They will be joined at this dialogue by Dr. Grant LeMarquand, professor of biblical studies and mission, Trinity School for Ministry, Pittsburgh, Penn.

The first session of the dialogue was held at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis (November 10-11, 2010), and addressed the theme “The Background and Identity of Our Churches.”  The second was on the campus of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, Penn. (May 12-13, 2011), and considered “Authority in the Church.”Background on the dialogue may be found at the following links:

Recently, the Commission on Theology and Church Relations of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod offered the following rationale for such dialogues.  I hope you find it of value.

2011-09-17 - CTCR - Theological Dialogue With Other Christian Church Bodies

Former UMC Seminary Takes New Direction in Theological Education

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saint Paul in London Affected by "Occupy" Forces

St. Paul's Cathedral closes, asks protesters to leave

London (ENInews)--Due to health, safety and fire concerns connected with an anti-corporate protest camp at its doors, St. Paul's Cathedral, London's 16th-century landmark, announced it is closing until further notice and asked the protesters to leave. "The decision to close ... is unprecedented in modern times," said the Rev. Graeme Knowles, the cathedral dean, in a statement on St. Paul's website ( With hundreds of people and about 200 tents pitched around the huge building, "health, safety and fire officers have pointed out that access ... is seriously limited. With so many stoves and fires and lots of different types of fuel around, there is a clear fire hazard. Then there is the public health aspect which speaks for itself. The dangers relate not just to cathedral staff and visitors but are a potential hazard to those encamped themselves," Knowles said. [381 words, ENI-11-0572]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Brazilian Lutherans Prepare for Reformation Anniversary

Brazilian Lutherans prepare for Reformation anniversary

By: Marcelo Schneider

In 1517, German monk Martin Luther published his "95 Theses" – criticisms of Catholic Church practices that inspired the growth of Protestantism. Photo: Shutterstock
Porto Alegre, Brazil  Leaders of two Brazilian Lutheran churches on Oct.18 said that local events in 2017 commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation would include creation of a space called "Luther Square" in Porto Alegre.

This city is the location of the national headquarters of theEvangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil(IECLB) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (IELB). The IECLB is a member of the Lutheran World Federation(LWF) and the IELB is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church  Missouri Synod (USA).
At a launch event here, the churches also presented a commemorative stamp and shared their plans for common publications leading up to the anniversary. In 1517, German monk Martin Luther published his "95 Theses" in Wittenberg, Germany   criticisms of Catholic Church practices that inspired the growth of Protestantism, including establishment of the Lutheran Church.

IELB president, the Rev. Egon Kopereck, noted that the commemoration is a unique opportunity to emphasize the centrality of the word of God as the greatest legacy of Luther's movement.

The president of IECLB, the Rev. Nestor Friedrich, stressed that anniversary should be relevant to the life of churches today. "[It] allows an analysis of theological heritage and of our own history. We have the possibility to reaffirm, to rediscover and to contextualize Lutheran theology and its contribution, especially in Brazil," said Friedrich.

The event was attended by the mayor of Porto Alegre, Jose Fortunati, Roman Catholic Archbishop Dom Dadeus Grings and the moderator of the Central Committee of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, the Rev. Walter Altmann, among other authorities.

(Marcelo Schneider is communications liaison for Latin America with the World Council of Churches)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bad News for Lutherans and other Christians in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan religion law would re-impose controls over churches

Warsaw, Poland (ENInews)--A Roman Catholic church leader in Kazakhstan has warned legislators they will be violating international commitments if they press ahead with legislation that would reimpose Soviet-style controls over churches and religious communities. "There's an international agreement between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Holy See, spelling out our rights to freedom of religion and worship," said Bishop Theophilus Howaniec, former secretary-general of the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference. The draft "Law on Religious Activity and Religious Associations," approved on 29 September by Kazakhstan's senate upper house, would ban unregistered religious activities, restrict religious literature and require government permission for "missionary activity." [485 words, ENI-11-0553]

Monday, October 10, 2011

Saint Joanna in Prague

Visiting Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague on Sunday, we stumbled across a window that included Saint Joanna. Our daughter is Joanna, and this, of course, made us think of her and miss her. She is a saint, after all!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 07, 2011

Major Demographic Shift is under Way in Christianity, Say Scholars

From Ecumenical News International

Manado, Indonesia (ENI)--Scholars claim the biggest change in the history of Christianity is underway amid the religion's move to Africa, Latin America and Asia. "The story of Christianity as a worldwide faith is being written before our eyes," declared Dr. Dana Robert of Boston University School of Theology, as she addressed a group of world church leaders at the Global Christian Forum (GCF) in Manado, Indonesia. [344 words, ENI-11-0539]

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs in Prague

Walking through Prague this evening, Amy and I came upon this memorial to Steve Jobs at the nearest thing to an Apple store in the city.  Interesting...

Friday, September 30, 2011

The High Cost of Building Maintenance

Metal thieves are damaging British churches

Canterbury, England (ENInews)--As commodity prices soar, thieves are targeting British churches and other institutions, taking copper lightning rods, lead rain pipes, bronze statues, iron gates, even church bells and entire roofs. "Boom conditions in China, India and Brazil have created an incredible demand for lead and copper," Katri Link, senior press officer at Ecclesiastical Insurance, a private company that insures about 90 percent of churches in England and Wales) told ENInews. "Church roofs are often the target, threatening some churches with bankruptcy," she said. [520 words, ENI-11-0523]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lutheran pastor appointed dean of Anglican cathedral in Canada

Ecumenical News International reports the following:

In a historic move, the Anglican diocese of Rupert's Land appointed a Lutheran pastor, the Rev. Paul Johnson, as dean of the diocese and incumbent for St. John's Cathedral in Winnipeg, reports the Anglican Journal. This is the first time a Canadian Lutheran pastor has been appointed dean in an Anglican cathedral in Canada. A dean is the priest in charge of a cathedral ("mother church") and occupies a senior position in a diocese. [263 words, ENI-11-0519]

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

34 Years...

More Bad News from Zimbabwe

From Ecumenical News International...

In Zimbabwe, renegade bishop's backers evict Anglican priest

Harare, Zimbabwe (ENInews)--Supporters of renegade Zimbabwean Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga have forced a priest and his family out of their home following a court ruling giving Kunonga control over church assets, a church spokesman said on 16 August. Kunonga recently was given control over church assets in a High Court ruling. [447 words, ENI-11-0430]

Then from the BBC...

Solomon Mujuru, who has died in a fire on his farm, was one of Zimbabwe's most powerful, wealthiest and feared politicians.
As a former army chief he was nicknamed Zimbabwe's "king-maker" - and managed to combine power with relative anonymity.
There are very few photos of him around.
"He had all the mystique of a liberation war hero that has served him to present-day politics," Patrick Smith, editor of the London-based Africa Confidential magazine, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
"He didn't want to be president but he was incredibly influential in determining the jockeying for power within the hierarchy of the ruling party."
Knox Chitiyo, an analyst with the London-based think-tank Royal United Services Institute who knew Gen Mujuru personally, said he was someone "who couldn't be pushed around".
"He was very, very respected particularly among the military in Zimbabwe and among the liberation war veterans. His liberation war credentials were pretty impeccable," he told the BBC.
Gen Mujuru wife, Joice Mujuru, is one of Zimbabwe's vice-presidents - the first woman to hold such a high-ranking post in Zimbabwe.
Under his nom de guerre, Rex Nhongo, Mr Mujuru was the director of Robert Mugabe's guerrilla forces, together with the late Josiah Tongogora, during the 1970s war of independence, which ended white minority rule.
He is also said to have played a key role in Mr Mugabe's rise to the top of the Zanu party.
'Fragmentation of Zanu-PF'
He was also elected MP for the north-eastern Chikomba constituency, before leaving public life in 1995 to concentrate on his business interests.
According to Mr Smith, his influence, despite not holding a political post, testifies to the strength of the military tradition in Zanu-PF politics.
Some believe his death will be a blow to the party.
John Makumbe, political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe, says Mr Mugabe "used to rely on him on what to do and what not to do".
"The nation has lost a pillar and there is likely to be more fragmentation in Zanu-PF," he told the AFP new agency.
The Mujurus are from the same Zezuru branch of Zimbabwe's majority Shona group as Mr Mugabe.

Start Quote

The demise of Mujuru would appear to give some advantage to the Mnangagwa faction”
Patrick SmithEditor Africa Confidential
But despite his long and close ties to Mr Mugabe, there were reports two years ago that he may have fallen from grace after apparently meeting top US and UK diplomats in Harare.
Mr Mugabe has always portrayed himself as still fighting the colonial struggle - against the West.
But Gen Mujuru's death now brings into question who will succeed the 87-year-old president within the party.
Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is seen as a possible Zanu-PF successor - and there has always been fierce rivalry between him and the Mujurus.
"The demise of Mujuru would appear to give some advantage to the Mnangagwa faction," Mr Smith said.
"Until now she [Joice Mujuru] has been a beneficiary of her husband's influence in the party, army and security services. Now she'll have to put herself forward much more strongly," he said.
The Mujurus met during the war of independence and married in 1977.
She adopted the name Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood), during the struggle and claims to have shot down a Rhodesian helicopter with the machine-gun of a dying comrade and was later promoted to commander.
The Mujurus are accused of taking over at least one of the farms seized from their white owners in recent years.
Guy Watson-Smith owned 3,500-acre Alamein farm, about 80km (50 miles) south of the capital, Harare, where Gen Mujuru died in the early hours of Tuesday 16 August.
Mr Watson-Smith said the infrastructure alone was worth some $2.5m (£1.5m).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's that day in the church year, when we recognize Saint Lawrence. A friend sent me the following very bad joke.

What did Jesus say to Saint Lawrence, who was grilled to death, when he got to heaven?

"Well done, good and faithful servant."

In response to such bad taste, I did a (very) little snooping, and found a nifty website connected with the cookbook, A Continual Feast. Here's it's stuff on Saint Lawrence.  Enjoy!


A Continual Feast describes the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, a Roman deacon during the third century Christian persecution.Ordered by the Roman prefect to surrender the treasures of the church, he assembled the poor and took them to the prefect, saying, “Here is the church’s treasure.” According to legend he was put to death by being roasted on a grill. He is said to have remarked to his torturers: “One side is done now; you can turn me over.” Traditionally, in some places nothing hot is served at all, in compassion for his martyrdom; it is a day for cold soups and salads. (ACF p. 262.) We decided that serving barbecued chicken is a great way to signify his triumph over the fire...after all, St. Lawrence is now one of the patron saints of cooks!

Basic Barbecue Sauce
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup yellow mustard (for tang)
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup A1 Steak Sauce
* You can modify the amount of any ingredient to fit your taste preference. If you like it bolder, add some more A1. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar. We have even substituted 2 Tablespoons of honey for the brown sugar.
* This sauce tastes great on pork, chicken, and beef. Marinate the raw meat prior to grilling and then baste with the sauce throughout the cooking process. These instant marinaters are great.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Changing Face of German Catholicism

I read somewhere that something like .5% of the German populace attend church on any given Sunday.  The following statistics, from Ecumenical News International ( would suggest the accuracy of such a claim.


More Catholic departures than baptisms for first time in Germany

Berlin (ENI). For the first time since membership records have been kept, more Germans departed the Roman Catholic Church than were baptized into it in 2010, according to new data from Germany's Catholic Conference of Bishops. The new statistics, which were released with little analysis or comment, showed 170,339 baptisms for the year, and 181,193 departures from the church. However, 3,576 new members, and more than 7,400 returning Catholics, joined the church last year. [114 words, ENI-11-0405]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

International Loehe Conference III

At present I'm listening to an excellent and provocative paper by Dr. John Stephenson of Concordia Lutheran Seminary, St Catharines, Ontario, Canada, which he is delivering at the International Loehe Conference III. This is not a very good picture, but it gives you an idea of the dynamic group that has gathered to consider the work of Wilhelm Loehe and his impact on the Lutheran tradition.

Dr. John Stephenson delivering his paper, “Löhe as an Ecumenical Lutheran,” at the International Loehe Conference III, being help on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary, July 27, 2011.

The conference is being held at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, and the schedule of presenters is simply excellent. We hope to see many of the papers published ultimately through the efforts of the International Loehe Society.

Here is the schedule:

International Löhe Theological Conference III
Concordia Theological Seminary
Fort Wayne, Indiana USA
26-30 July 2011

Tuesday, July 26

2:00 p.m. Registration opens in the lobby of Sihler Auditorium

3:00 p.m. Campus Tour with Prof. Robert Roethemeyer (meet in the lobby of Sihler)

5:00 p.m. Dinner is available in the Katherine Luther Dining Hall*

6:30 p.m. Opening of Conference and Greetings
All sessions will be held in Luther Hall.

7:00 p.m. Paper I: “Löhe, Wyneken, and the Fort Wayne Seminary” –
Dr. Lawrence Rast (Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana)

8:00 p.m. Evening Prayer

8:45 p.m. Seminary Reception on the Plaza

Wednesday, July 27

7:30 a. m. Continental Breakfast available in the Katherine Luther Dinning Hall

8:30 a.m. Paper II: “Löhe’s Correspondence with Wedemann 1849-1850 on Theory and Practice in Church and Ministry”- Dr. Wolfhart Schlichting (Editor, Confessio Augustana, Augsburg, Germany)

9:30 a.m. Morning Prayer/Coffee

10:30 a.m. Paper III: “Löhe as an Ecumenical Lutheran”- Dr. John Stephenson (Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saint Catherine’s, Ontario)

11:30 a.m. Paper IV: “Löhe’s Missiological Perspective”- Dr. Klaus Detlev Schulz (Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana)

12:30 p.m. Lunch available in the Katherine Luther Dinning Hall

Concordia Publishing House will host a book signing for authors Geiger, Naumann, and Schulz in the Commons from 1:00 to 2:00 pm.

2:00 p.m. Paper V: “Löhe and the Ministerium of Pennsylvania: Löhe’s Reception Among his Contemporaries in the Eastern United States” –Rev. Martin Lohrmann (Doctoral candidate, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and Pastor of Christ Ascension Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

3:00 p.m. Paper VI: “Confession as Mission-Retrieving Wilhelm Löhe ”
Dr. Paul Chung (Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota)

4:00 p.m. Paper VII: “Löhe as Religious Educator”- Dr. Thomas Kothmann (University of Regensburg, Germany)

5:00 p.m. Dinner available in the Katherine Luther Dinning Hall

6:30 p.m. We will carpool to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (1126 South Barr Street, Fort Wayne). Please meet at the flag pole in front of the Welcome Center.

7:00 p.m. Evening Prayer at St. Paul Lutheran Church with a tour of the church and refreshments after the Service.

Thursday, July 28

7:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast available at Katherine Luther Dinning Hall

8:30 a.m. Paper VIII: “Wilhelm Löhe in Deindoerfer’s History of the Iowa Synod ”- Dr. Craig Nessan (Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa)

9:30 a.m. Morning Prayer/Coffee

10:30 a.m. Paper X: “Löhe and Chiliasm in the Context of 19th Century Eschatology “ Mr. Jacob Corzine (Doctoral candidate, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany)

11:30 a.m. International Löhe Society Meeting

12:30 p.m. Lunch available at the Katherine Luther Dinning Hall

2:00 p.m. Paper XI: “Lutheran Deaconesses in North America: Assessing Löhe’s Influence” - Deaconess Cheryl Naumann (President, Concordia Deaconess Conference and Deaconess, Redeemer Lutheran Church and School, Oakmont, Pennsylvania)

3:00 p.m. Paper XII: “ Löhe’s 1844 Agenda”- Dr. Thomas Schattauer (Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa)

4:00 p.m. Paper XIII: “Löhe and Enlightenment Movements” – Dr. Dietrich Blaufuß (Co-President, International Löhe Society, Erlangen, Germany)

5:15 p.m. We will carpool to Trinity English Lutheran Church (405 West Wayne Street, Fort Wayne). Please meet at the flag pole in front of the Welcome Center.

7:00 p.m. Evening Prayer at Trinity English Lutheran Church

Friday, July 29

7:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast available at Katherine Luther Dinning Hall.

8:30 a.m. Depart for Frankenmuth. The carpool will depart from the flag pole in front of the Welcome Center.

12:00 noon Lunch in Frankenmuth; tour the town and visit the museum.

5:30 p.m. Outdoor Dinner hosted by St. Lorenz Lutheran Church

7:00 p.m. Hymnfest at St. Lorenz with Dr. Scott Hyslop and Pastor Stephen Starke

Saturday, July 30

8:00 a.m. Depart the Bavarian Inn for Frankentrost

8:30 a.m. Immanuel Lutheran Church, Frankentrost with presentation by Rev. Mark Loest and by Mr. Matthias Honold (Archivist, Diakonie Neuendettelsau) on archival research on the Löhe colonies.

11:30 a,m, Conclusion of Conference

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"If it ever gets done..." -- PRR K4s 1361

The Pennsylvania Railroad liked to call itself "The Standard Railroad of the World," and the standard passenger locomotive for the "Standard Railroad" was the K4s. For years retired K4s #1361 stood at the park at Horseshoe Curve, just outside Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Then, however, it was pulled off the Curve and restored to working condition in the 1980s. Here's a video of it at that time.

After mechanical problems surfaced, it was time for another overhaul. However, delays, moves, and other obstacles have kept the 1361 from completion. Indeed, there are some who doubt that it will ever be fully pieced back together.

That's why the article in the Altoona Mirror from July 3, 2011, is rather encouraging. You may read the full article at the following link:

The short version is that there is some hope and encouragement that the project is moving forward. I love steam, and the success of the Nickel Plate 765 and Pere Marquette 1225 Berkshires (, and the prospect of seeing 1361 under its own power again is exciting--and not just for me.

"I can't wait to ride in that puppy," Salone said. "But let's make sure it doesn't blow up."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Trapped in the Limbo of an Eternal Present...

Let me open with a rather obvious oberservation--As an historian, memory is rather important to me.  That, in part, is why I find amnesia so fascinating.
All of us forget stuff all the time, but forgetting has a deeper side.  This fact was vividly demonstrated to me in a remarkable article in the November 2007 National Geographic.  In it there is an article titled, “Why We Remember, Why We Forget.” This article warns of what happens when we forget.  A man who has lost his memory is described this way: “Without a memory, EP has fallen completely out of time.  He has no stream of consciousness, just droplets that immediately evaporate.  If you were to take the watch off his wrist—or, more cruelly, change the time—he’d be completely lost.  Trapped in this limbo of an eternal present, between a past he can’t remember and a future he can’t contemplate, he lives a sedentary life…” (37). 
Trapped in the limbo of an eternal present…between a past he can’t remember and a future he can’t contemplate.  Now think about that for a minute.  With no memory, become slaves of each and every minute—living only for the moment.  What a challenging way to live!
More recently I learned of the case of Henry Molaison.  Molaison underwent brain surgery at the age of 27 due to epilepsy.  The surgery made it impossible for him to form new memories.  The result was that he had an at least average recall of public events that occurred previous to his surgery.  However, while he could recall the general impressions of things he had experienced, he had lost concrete memory of the specific events, as well as the ability to form personal memories of his experiences.
As one who works in the realm of memories, this is a devastating prospect to me; while it is simultaneously fascinating.  And it is why thestory on Molaison, which aired on the BBC today, was utterly engaging to me.  You may find it at the following link:
The program is 30 minutes in length, and worth the time.  The following is the text that appears at that link.
"Without a few unusual people, human behaviour would have remained a mystery - ordinary people whose extraordinary circumstances provided researchers with the exceptions that proved behavioural rules. Claudia Hammond revisits the classic case studies that have advanced psychological research.
"When a 27 year old man known in the text books simply as HM underwent brain surgery for intractable epilepsy in 1953, no one could have known that the outcome would provide the key to unravelling one of the greatest mysteries of the human mind - how we form new memories.
"HM was unable to remember anything that happened after the operation, which was conducted by Dr William Scoville in Hartford, Connecticut, though his life before the surgery remained vivid. For 55 years, until he died in December 2008 at the age of 82, HM - or Henry Molaison, as he was identified on his death - was studied by nearly 100 psychologists and neuro-scientists; he provided data that enabled them to piece together the memory process. The research was first coordinated by Dr Brenda Milner of McGill University and then by Professor Suzanne Corkin at MIT. Both women got to know Henry well, but he never got to know them; for him each meeting with them was the first.
"His inability to form new memories meant that HM was unable to look after himself, but he remained cheerful, with a positive outlook on his condition. He was happy, he maintained, to provide information that could help others. And this he continues to do, even after death. His brain was dissected by Dr Jacopo Annese of the Brain Observatory at UCSD, and is the subject of an ongoing on-line collaborative study."