Monday, February 25, 2013

Don't feed the panic about budget "sequestration"

First of all, I sure wish people in the media would use nouns to function as nouns (e.g., "sequestration"), instead of forcing verbs into the service of nouns; "sequester" is not a noun. Get a dictionary, people.

Secondly, I'll worry about budget sequestration when it impinges on something that resembles reality. That it does not yet do so is made abundantly clear here. Read it and weep. Read it and laugh. Better yet, read it and cultivate an attitude of "don't care." (See? Don't verbs sound terrible as nouns?)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Music for the Pastor's Study (The Whole Series, Updated)

In case you missed all or part of it, I did a series of posts a while back listing and linking to some favorite musical tracks that I find conducive to study. If you are interested in seeing the whole series (thus far) at a glance, here it is

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Time to ratchet up your prayers for Christians in China ...

where crack downs on house churches that do not declare themselves "patriotic" are up 42%. Yes, communists like to style themselves patriotic, too. It's just that some systems assume majority/mob rule with power concentrated in the hand of an elite oligarchy is patriotic while others assume patriotism takes steps to preserve individual freedoms. I know, sounds quaint, doesn't it?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dubuque Seminary leads the way among mainline seminaries in online theological education

So, in case you missed any mention of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UDTS) in the latest issue of The Christian Century — an issue devoted to online theological education — well, so did a lot of people. UDTS is only the leading mainline seminary when it comes to theological education. Has been for several years now. Kind of a glaring oversight, wouldn't you say, CC?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Disaster directly ahead. Take Detour.

I know Trinity Sunday is a long way off, but when I read articles like this, I can't help but think Year D's Old Testament lection from 1Kings 11 might have some bearing, and I wish our denominational leaders would familiarize themselves with it. Solomon sought to placate his many foreign wives by worshipping their foreign gods. In short, he sought "interfaith harmony," and what he got was the opposite of what he (literally, as well as sexually) bargained for. Solomon's foolish apostasy angered the LORD. "Then the LORD raised up" one adversary after another to peel away Israel's territory; he got a divided kingdom, and eventually sent Israel and Judah on a long, slow slide into exile. The whole downhill plunge began right here. Seeking peace, i.e., with other gods, Solomon (and those who came after him) got war.

Now anyone can tell you peace is better than war. It takes no great intellectual or ethical giant to see that. But what too many well-meaning people, including many Christians, do not see is the law of unintended consequences at work when first principles are sacrificed for a false peace. Making peace with the gods of another religion, with the cult of another culture, cuts the Triune God out of the equation, and this is neither faithful, nor wise.

Similarly, in a secular analogue (I'm not one to confuse the Constitution with the Bible, mind you, so I say this with a caution to those who do), we have people saying: "Guns bad; ban guns!" What they do not see is that this direct approach to a false, coerced peace — at the cost of a foundational freedom that arose and was constitutionally codified not only from a wary distrust of human depravity (the neighbor's fallen nature), but from an even greater distrust of human governments that accumulate more and more power, wealth, ... and guns (!) for themselves — has sent the demand for guns and ammunition through the roof. Great! Now my neighbors and the government are spending money they don't have arming themselves to the teeth.

Yes, Kierkegaard was definitely onto something when he said "indirect communication" is the pattern for Christian ethics. For direct communication in the ethical sphere is little more than tossing lit matches into the arsenal. Even more importantly, there is all the difference in the world between Religiousness A (paganism) and Religiousness B (the Christian paradox), and the failure — by the church of all people! — to respect it amounts to courting even greater disaster.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Because, you know, he's doing such a bang up job ...

with Chicago. (Not a day goes by that I don't feel vindicated for having my Doctor of Ministry students read The Peter Principle.)