Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Just so you know where we are headed, if you buy the line "my kids don't have any problem with it, they think we are homophobic"

Alair is wearing a tight white tank top cut off above the hem to show her midriff. Her black cargo pants graze the top of her combat boots, and her black leather belt is studded with metal chains that drape down at intervals across her hips. She has long blonde curls that at various times have been dyed green, blue, red, purple, and orange. (“A mistake,” she says. “Even if you mean to dye your hair orange, it’s still a mistake.”) Despite the fact that she’s fully clothed, she seems somehow exposed, her baby fat lingering in all the right places. Walking down the sterile, white halls of Stuyvesant High School, she creates a wave of attention. She’s not the most popular girl in school, but she is well known. “People like me,” she wrote in an instant message. “Well, most of them.”

Alair is headed for the section of the second-floor hallway where her friends gather every day during their free tenth period for the “cuddle puddle,” as she calls it. There are girls petting girls and girls petting guys and guys petting guys. She dives into the undulating heap of backpacks and blue jeans and emerges between her two best friends, Jane and Elle, whose names have been changed at their request. They are all 16, juniors at Stuyvesant. Alair slips into Jane’s lap, and Elle reclines next to them, watching, cat-eyed. All three have hooked up with each other. All three have hooked up with boys—sometimes the same boys. But it’s not that they’re gay or bisexual, not exactly. Not always.

Their friend Nathan, a senior with John Lennon hair and glasses, is there with his guitar, strumming softly under the conversation. “So many of the girls here are lesbian or have experimented or are confused,” he says.

Ilia, another senior boy, frowns at Nathan’s use of labels. “It’s not lesbian or bisexual. It’s just, whatever . . . ”

Since the school day is winding down, things in the hallway are starting to get rowdy. Jane disappears for a while and comes back carrying a pint-size girl over her shoulder. “Now I take her off and we have gay sex!” she says gleefully, as she parades back and forth in front of the cuddle puddle. “And it’s awesome!” The hijacked girl hangs limply, a smile creeping to her lips. Ilia has stuffed papers up the front of his shirt and prances around on tiptoe, batting his eyes and sticking out his chest. Elle is watching, enthralled, as two boys lock lips across the hall. “Oh, my,” she murmurs. “Homoerotica. There’s nothing more exciting than watching two men make out.” And everyone is talking to another girl in the puddle who just “came out,” meaning she announced that she’s now open to sexual overtures from both boys and girls, which makes her a minor celebrity, for a little while.

When asked how many of her female friends have had same-sex experiences, Alair answers, “All of them.” Then she stops to think about it. “All right, maybe 80 percent. At least 80 percent of them have experimented. And they still are. It’s either to please a man, or to try it out, or just to be fun, or ’cause you’re bored, or just ’cause you like it . . . whatever.”

Read it all.

The Synod Council of the Northeastern Iowa Synod ACTS

Bishop Mark Hanson
ELCA Church Council

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has engaged in a comprehensive and important study over the past four years examining the theological, biblical, sociological, scientific, and ecclesiological issues surrounding the blessing of same-sex unions and the possible ordination within the ELCA of partnered gay and lesbian persons, with a view toward a possible change in the policies of our church regarding these matters. It has been a process that has been undertaken with great seriousness and respect by people with widely diverging viewpoints. It has been a process which has engaged a large number of people across the ELCA, with more people responding to the study produced as a part of this process than to any other study that has been done in the ELCA. At the Churchwide Assembly in August of 2005, the voting members engaged in a discussion and debate concerning this issue which was remarkable for its civility and respect. After much debate and deliberation, the assembly declined to accept the proposal put forward which would have provided for the ordination and rostering of partnered gay and lesbian persons under certain circumstances.

Given the actions of the 2005 Churchwide Assembly, we note with concern the recent actions of the Metropolitan New York Synod which, in our judgment, has the effect of undermining this process and the decisions which were made at the Churchwide Assembly in August. The proposals adopted at their special synod assembly in October would put into place a process for the ordination and rostering of partnered gay and lesbian persons which would clearly contradict the decisions made by the Churchwide Assembly for the whole ELCA.

Therefore, we, the Synod Council of the Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA, urge you, Bishop Hanson, and the ELCA Church Council, to initiate a consultation process with the Metropolitan New York Synod with regard to their actions taken in October, with the end that the decisions of the 2005 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA be implemented in the Metropolitan New York Synod in good faith.

Yours in Christ,

Northeastern Iowa Synod Council

A read asked if I would post this, saying it addresses UCC but is cross-mainline issue

Letter to Rev. John H. Thomas
Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

700 Prospect Avenue

Cleveland, OH 44115-1000
Rev. Thomas:

I write to you both in my capacity as Christian Outreach Director for the David Project Center for Jewish Leadership and as a lifelong member of the United Church of Christ. As you are aware, I have been highly critical of the stance the UCC and other mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. have taken in regards to the Arab/Israeli conflict.

The failure of Protestants in the U.S. to speak honestly about problems in Arab and Muslim societies that inhibit the prospects for peace in the Middle East, coupled with an undeniable tendency to blame Israel – and only Israel – for the conflict’s existence raises troubling questions about Protestant attitudes toward Judaism as a religion and the Jews as a people. For one reason or another, mainline Protestant leaders in the U.S. are gripped by a tendency to think the worst about the Jewish State its policies and its motives, without taking into consideration the circumstances its leaders – and people – confront on a daily basis.
The recent outcome of the recent elections in the Palestinian Authority has prompted me to write. Hamas, an organization dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel, has won a large majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Hamas' victory, though no surprise, raises grave concerns about Israeli security, the welfare of Christians in Palestinian society and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
The corruption of the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat (an ongoing problem which was ignored by the peace-making resolutions passed at the UCC's General Synod in July) and the subsequent failure of Mahmoud Abbas to rein in this corruption is one factor in the Hamas success.

It is not, however, the only factor. Many Palestinians are committed to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State and for this reason, Hamas was their logical choice. Regardless of the motivations behind the Hamas victory, it does not bode well for Israeli security or for Palestinian welfare. Hamas' founding document calls for the destruction of Israel and the imposition of sharia law in the Palestinian State. Such an agenda has profound implications for the safety of Jews in Israel, for the status of women and the welfare of Christians in areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Ominously, Hamas leaders have stated that they will not change one word of their covenant calling for Israel's destruction – despite their success at the polls. It does not appear that the acquisition of power will result in Hamas’ moderation as some would have hoped.

Sadly, the public pronouncements issued by the UCC’s leadership in Cleveland and by its General Synod provide little if any context for Hamas’ victory in yesterday's elections. The resolutions, as they were written and passed, with direct input from the denomination's leadership in Cleveland, expressed no expectations of the Palestinians to work for peace.

In particular, the Tear Down the Wall resolution, written with substantial input from Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem and professionally framed by Peter Makari, Area Executive for Middle East and Europe Global Ministries for the UCC, demanded that Israel take down the security fence it is building to prevent terror attacks emanating from the West Bank, without asking the Palestinians to stop the attacks that prompted the Israelis to build the barrier in the first place.

This is not peacemaking, but a clear effort to place the onus for the conflict on the Israelis. It is one thing to ask that the barrier be moved to a more acceptable location, but asking Israelis to take it down altogether – without asking Palestinians to stop suicide attacks – exhibits a troubling naïveté about the Arab/Israeli conflict and an inexcusable indifference to the murder of Israeli civilians.

The Tear Down the Wall resolution embodies a persistent habit of mind exhibited by Protestant leaders in the U.S. – a tendency to portray Palestinian terrorism as an unavoidable response to suffering caused by Israeli security measures. I ask, beg and implore you to fight this impulse. Rooting Palestinian suffering almost entirely – if not entirely – in Israeli policies, as leaders from UCC and other denominations have done, denies the Palestinians moral agency and ultimately undermines their motivation to build a future for themselves and their children. It also allows leaders in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East to continue to use the Palestinians to promote radical and dictatorial agendas in their own countries without so much as a rhetorical slap on the wrist.

The failure of the UCC to express any expectations of the Palestinians to work for peace is rooted in unwillingness on the part of the UCC to speak prophetically about problems endemic to the Middle East. In particular, there is a taboo on discussion in mainline Protestant circles about the religious motivation for the war against Israel. For many Muslim scholars and their followers in the Middle East, the existence of a Jewish state on land previously governed by Islamic rulers is a theological impossibility. For Hamas, the thought of Jewish sovereignty and freedom in the Middle East is intolerable. To be sure, not every Palestinian feels this way, but it must be noted that Hamas did win a strong majority in the recent election.

If Protestant leaders in the U.S., including those in the UCC, are going to condemn Christian Zionism as a threat to peace, they have an obligation to acknowledge the religious motivation of violence against Israel. Religiously-motivated hostility toward Israel, which Hamas embodies, turns the conflict from a disagreement over borders and settlements into a fight over its existence, an issue over which their can be no compromise. Sadly, the UCC has remained silent about the religious hostility that motivates many of the terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

Hamas' victory underscores problems in Palestinian society that help to prolong the conflict and encourage violence against Israelis. These problems include anti-Jewish incitement on Palestinian Television, hostile, anti-Semitic passages in Palestinian textbooks, and the PA's financial support to families of suicide bombers, who, in some instances, have official soccer tournaments named in their honor. Sadly, the UCC and its leaders have offered little, if any, acknowledgement of these problems.

If UCC leaders are going to call for a two-state solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict in their efforts to promote peace and improve the welfare of the Palestinian people, they have an obligation. They must acknowledge those aspects of Palestinian society that represent an obstacle to creating a state that can live in peace with Israel and secure the human rights of its citizens. Calling for the creation of a Palestinian state while remaining silent about collapse of civil order in Gaza encourages the creation of nothing more than a failed state that oppresses its own people and menaces its neighbors.

If Protestants in the U.S. are going to invoke America's "special relationship" with Israel as justification for the focus on its misdeeds, they have an obligation to acknowledge the support terrorists targeting Israel have received from Syria, Iran and up until recently, Iraq. The UCC has remained silent about this support.

At this point, I feel compelled along with many others to ask that you rethink your unqualified support for Naim Ateek, founder and director of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center. His repeated use of deicide imagery is clearly intended to evoke feelings of contempt for Israel as a Jewish state. It is not, as he and his defenders assert, merely an attempt to portray Palestinian suffering in the “Language of the Cross.” It is important to note these statements were offered at the height of the Second Intifada, which killed thousands of Israelis and Palestinians. The use of this imagery did not calm the flames of hostility and fear, but fueled them.

It should be noted that Ateek has, on numerous occasions, stated that he does not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East and has even repeated the canard that Israel should have been created in Europe. Sadly, on this score, Ateek’s words have been echoed by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who you laudably condemned for calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. This echo should be cause for concern amongst those who would defend Ateek and the group he leads as peacemakers.


Dexter Van Zile
Christian Outreach Director
David Project Center for Jewish Leadership
Boston, Mass.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Coming to a synod near you--it started in Metro NY and now it is going to Sierra Pacific (they want to be "partnered")

Resolution: Endorsing Restraint in the Administration of ELCA Policies Applicable to Sexual Minority Persons

Whereas, The 2005 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America urged our church to concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreement;and

Whereas, The discussion of the 2005 Churchwide Assembly concerning the ministry of partnered sexual minority persons provided no resolution of the disagreements by the action of a substantial majority; and

Whereas; A significant minority demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the current policy and practice of the ELCA with regard to the service in rostered ministry of partnered sexuality minority persons, though no proposals for exceptions to or alteration of current policy achieved a majority at the 2005 Churchwide Assembly; and

Whereas, It is clear that no resolution of this matter acceptable to all persons is possible at this time; and

Whereas, Service in the rostered ministry of the church is neither a right to be claimed nor a privilege bestowed, rather it is the duty and obligation of both candidates and the church to discern the calling of God for service in the rostered ministry in specific persons; and

Whereas, This vocation is confirmed by call of the church to a specific ministry; and

Whereas, There are many instances where the process of discernment has identified candidates and settings for rostered ministry where the only impediment to the call of the church is the preclusion to service by partnered sexual minority persons as defined in ELCA policy; and

Whereas, Many sexual minority persons, partnered and single, already serve in the rostered ministry in congregations of this church; and

Whereas, There are many instances where congregations have expressed their willingness to receive the ministry of partnered sexual minority leaders; and

Whereas, Rather than limiting ourselves to one resolution of our disagreements, we ought to invest the talents given us in those places where call is extended to and received by partnered sexual minority persons and discern the working of the Spirit through the lived experience of God’s people; and

Whereas, The Rabbi Gamaliel convinced the Sanhedrin not to act against Peter and the apostles saying,:...[If this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail, but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them - in that case you may even be found fighting against God![Acts 5:38-39, NRSV]: and

Whereas, The Metropolitan New York Synod (MNYS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, meeting in assembly October 29, 2005, voted to endorse restraint in the Administration of ELCA policies applicable to sexual minority persons and requested other synods to join them in that endorsement; therefore, be it

Resolved, That in furtherance of the goal of finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements, the Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly partner with the Metropolitan New York Synod in endorsing and calling for restraint in the administration of those ELCA policies that address the full service of partnered sexual minority persons in rostered ministry, ir order that the ministry of such persons to and with our congregations may be seen and we may discern whether God prospers the work of their hands [Ps. 90:17] and they may be [known] by their fruits [Matthew 7:16,20]; and be it further

Resolved, That the Sierra Pacific Synod join the Metropolitan New York Synod in requesting other synods to join us in endorsing the practice of restraint in the administration of policies applicable only to sexual minority rostered persons as a part of the continuing discernment process of the ELCA so that a number of ministries across the church may be looked to as exemplars through which our synods and the ELCA may evaluate the spiritual health and welfare of congregations and communities served by openly partnered sexual minority ministers; and be it further

Resolved, that in this time of disagreement and discernment all members of the ELCA earnestly pray: Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [Morning and Evening Prayer, LBW Prayer (251)]

Submitted by: Saint Paul, Oakland

Mark Hanson alert!

The following (minus my sarcastic comments in italics) are compliments of the Episcopal News Service.

January 26, 2006

Lutheran Presiding Bishop Hanson delivers 2006 Huntington Lecture Address marks fifth anniversary of Called to Common Mission agreement

By Daphne Mack

[Episcopal News Service] "Whether it's been in social ministry, theological education, congregational or campus ministry, we are living out the intent of being in common mission for the sake of the Gospel and the life of the world," said Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), as he delivered the 2006 Huntington Lecture at Saint Peter's Church in New York City on January 18.

Hanson gave "thanks to God for 'Called to Common Mission' and the five years of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America being in full communion together." Called to Common Mission is a relationship of full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

As evidence of the success of this union, Hanson cited a new federated congregation in Fort Myers, Florida named Lamb of God Church that is being served by both an Episcopal priest and Lutheran pastor.

A prophetic voice (Ready for this?)

Hanson expressed personal gratitude to Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, who presided at the service, for his "leadership in this church and your ecumenical leadership, not only in this country but in the world." Hanson said that during the annual heads of communion retreat he was continually "fed by the depth" of Griswold's "theological wisdom and spirituality." He spoke of witnessing Griswold's prophetic voice in calling for justice.

OK, you can read posts below for how in the new normal, if you have to say "huh?," it must mean that the person speaking is "deep." More gnostic-wannabe probably. As far as "prophetic," if Hanson has his way, we will be thinking that church leaders whose actions relentlessly push confessionalists to the breaking point and are an insult to Scripture, tradition, and reason (not to mention legal liability) are "prophetic." If Griswold is a prophet, then God is telling him to sever his ECUSA from the Anglican Communion.

"As you have guided this church and have been part of the Anglican Communion, (what planet is Hanson on? Does he have any idea of the schism that is only months away? Griswold will not even be a member of the AC after Lambeth 2008)I have witnessed your deep compassion for the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church (if Griswold had compassion for the Church he would not be promoting what he promotes), and your longing for a time that the unity of that church does not come at the expense of the fullness and ministry of persons who are gay and lesbian," Hanson said (well, there it is kids if you ever had any doubts about Hanson's thought on this subject). "May God and the Holy Spirit continue to give peace in your heart and vision for your leadership." (Right!)

Truth tellers (!!!)

Hanson asked that those gathered consider five challenges "in the context of those who bear the mark of the baptism of Christ on our brow":

* Let us with clarity proclaim the Gospel of the incarnate word, inviting people into life with Christ and in the community of faith that bears Christ's redeeming word to all the world.
* Let us receive unity and diversity as God's gifts and our task.
* Let us live in the confidence of faith.
* Let us seek to speak the truth for the sake of reconciliation.
* Let us seek to exercise power marked by humility and courage as together
we live the way of the cross

He referred to Richard Lischer, author of "The End of Words: The Language of
Reconciliation in a Culture of Violence," who contends that the first casualty in the information age is truth. (well, if we began with Scripture we would find that this was a problem before now)

"Lischer reminds us that the end of preaching to which preaching points and
participates is reconciliation," Hanson said. "[Lischer] also says that whenever we preach-and, I might add, whenever we participate and preside at the sacraments-we participate in this, God's definitive gesture for the world."

Hanson implored New Yorkers not to let the world or nation forget the truth of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, nor "the length of the healing process, the deepness of the sorrow, the greatness of the separation and alienation, the need for both public lament, public healing and the receiving of God's mercy."

Hanson said that God's mission "calls for leaders who are prophets...truth tellers."

"A healthy public life, a just community cannot flourish in which trust is eroded by the habitual compromise of truth," he said.

Proclaim the Gospel

Hanson spoke of last Easter Sunday's New York Times cover story about the 15,000 member Radiant Church in Surprise, Arizona, led by a pastor who was quoted as saying his church offered financial planning, an athletic facility, child care, marriage counseling and Krispy Kreme [donuts] with every sermon.

"In a consumer culture that values a feel-good theology and the privatized
spirituality that seems to constantly confuse happiness with deeper joy," Hanson said, "there is great pressure on clergy today to get their market share of members by following Pastor [Lee] McFarland's lead and offering a Jesus whom we invite into our hearts so that we might take a little bit of Jesus with us where we want him to go, hoping that he will make us happy and successful along the way," Hanson said. "In so doing, as someone said, we end up with a microscopic Jesus rather than the rising Christ of the Cosmos."

He asked if what was being offered was the Gospel of the crucified and risen Christ-or a verbal therapeutic massage. (well, since that pastor probably gained more new members last year than the whole of the ELCA in Arizona... and it's not exactly that Lutherans' "grace, grace, grace" is not meant as "therapeutic message"!)

Hanson quoted New Testament scholar Mark Powell, who suggests that there is "not one place in any of the four Gospels where Jesus asked anyone, 'say, can I come and live in your heart?' Rather Jesus is constantly beckoning people to come, die, and follow him. (what kind of crap is this? Anyone remember the Gospel of John and "abide in")

"The Christian life is not about taking a little bit of microscopic Jesus with us where we want him to go; the Christian life is being raised into Christ in the body that bears Christ's name, so Christ may take us where Christ wants us to go in God's mission for the sake of the world," Hanson said. "Therefore, perhaps the most pressing question to ask ourselves and one another today is this: What Gospel are we proclaiming?"

Well, now finally you are talking. I did like the part above about the marks of the church. We like to hear you SAY we should proclaim the gospel, and we are tickled to have the opportunity to talk with you about just this subject: what Gospel are you proclaiming Mark? Have you said once, sin, or guilt, of forgiveness when we confess our sin and guilt, or is it all reconciliation? Wish you would say a little bit more so we knew what it is you believe, because from the above material it looks like you are more interested in reconciliation between gays and the church and denomination's relations than anything else. How about sinners alienated from God who are going to remain that way because a false gospel is being preached to them by revisionists?

Diversity and unity

In the ecumenical movement, Hanson said, "we must continue to deepen our understanding of and the applications of the concept of differentiated consensus, which enabled us as Lutherans and Roman Catholics to sign the joint declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. (in case you didn't listen to the Pope last time you met, as long as you promote the new normal, that paper ain't worth the ink its printed with)

"Differentiated consensus acknowledges that the truth of the Gospel is both profound and complex at the same time. So in differentiated consensus, two churches, through a process of dialogue over historically controverted theological issues, come to some agreement that allows each to recognize the Gospel in the teaching of the other- even though there may not be total agreement in the way a certain teaching is expressed." (huh?)

He summarized it as recognizing that the unity of the church is a unity within diversity and not a simple form of uniformity. The differences that remain need not be church dividing nor cause for condemnations. In fact, they may be seen as complementary and enriching to the church. (right)

The concept "got us through sticky waters on episcopacy that allowed us to embrace full communion as the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America," Hanson said.

"[Roman Catholic] Cardinal Walter Kasper reminds us that without a grassroots ecumenism, without people of faith, without the need of full communion agreements, people of faith in local communities coming together in prayer, to read the scriptures together, to engage together in acts of mercy in the struggle for justice, the ecumenical movement will have a difficult time being sustained," he said.

The Huntington Lectures honor William Reed Huntington, rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Manhattan, and author of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888. The Quadrilateral is the document upon which all ecumenical dialogue between the Episcopal Church and other Christian churches has been based.

Sorry kids, I could have written more but I'm running low on nitro pills. ELCA, if you allow this guy to get reelected you deserve everything that the ECUSA deserves if they do not recant at their General Convention.

Moses said, "Choose Life," and the man he mentored said, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." Mark Hanson, I am sure you love Jesus and all, and are a really nice guy and a good father and all that, but you just said a whole lot of stuff to Metro NY that was the opposite of what they needed to hear, you have egged on the ECUSA revisionists, and it is all so bad, so wrong, you are going to have a lot of explaining to do when it hits the fan. I do thank you for coming out completely in the open and letting us know your support for gay bishops and your contempt for historical Christianity.

Personally, Bp. Hanson, I think you said a lot when you said you have been fed by Bp. Griswold. If you can't spot the heresy in his message that makes you a liability as a shepherd.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Of course, there are things worse than ...

Shrimp here: I haven't explained in a while why this is called Shellfish. No, it's not because I am a cute crustacean. It's in honor of the "silly shellfish argument," which the highest profile one you ion the ELCA have had was when PB Hanson asked Ralph Klein to the mike in the heat of Rec 3. Anyway, it's about time...

[sirens in the background, lights flashing, 'Incoming.']

Shellfish alert! Just discovered over at US News and World Report, an interview with archfiend Shhhhelby Spong:

Q. What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

A. There are nine passages in the Bible dealing with homosexuality. Leviticus 18 and 20 say a man who lies with a man as with a woman is an abomination and both shall be put to death. If you're going to cite that, you should read all of Leviticus. It also says if you talk back to your parents, you should be put to death. If you cuss, don't observe the Sabbath, or worship false gods, you should be put to death. Even people in the right wing like the Jerry Falwells and Jim Dobsons, they can be pretty vicious, but I don't know anybody who would call for an execution of homosexuals.

See, humans? Perfect sense. Ignore all of the Bible's clear teaching because of stoning. Now, that's the shellfish argument to a "t."

In its stupidest form, it is "We eat shrimp, right?" To the uninitiated, they can barely help turning red and sputtering as they think "This person is really comparing adulterous penetration of , oh, no, stop, to eating shrimp?"

Yet, this is the SAME logic as was endorsed by Klein, Hanson, the Sexualtiy Task Force, probably your bishop and your neighboring ELCA pastor, if not you or your own.

Anyway, I refuse. It's stupid. Be sure to be familiar with how to respond. As William Witt notes :

"Biblical interpreters understood that other biblical material besides the Ten
Commandments contains moral law: the creation narratives of Genesis 1 and 2, other Mosaic material, the Wisdom literature, the Psalms, the Prophets, and, of course, New Testament material, including the Sermon on the Mount and the moral expositions in the Epistles. When Haller states that because the biblical prohibitions against same-sex activity are not part of the Ten Commandments, "they are precisely the sort of law the church has the power to reject or enforce as it sees fit," he has it exactly backward. Because these prohibitions are part of the moral material of the Old Testament that is summed up in the Ten Commandments, and endorsed again in the New Testament with no qualifications and no exceptions, they are precisely the sorts of law the Church has never felt itself free to reject or enforce as it sees fit."

Do they have any idea....?

Shrimp here: Have you heard? If you want to be a Christian today, ya gotta "embrace ambiguity"? Now, if you are like me (which you are not, you a human I'm a crustacean), that might sound like grabbibg jello, and at first you may not be able to explain to the youth in your parish why that jello you are trying to your chest is making a mess, but, hey, get in step...

Now, if we are to get serious, we should try and understand who our mentors are in this. Sure, we got Hanson, but who is his mentor? Well, that was more than a nod and a wink the other night in Manhattan. Frank Griswold is ambiguity himself.

So, let's go to that expert on ecclessial lunacy, Chris Johnson, and get some pointers. Chris said start here (italics are Grizwoldian, or as his fans say, Grizspeak:

"Frank Griswold takes on the temptation of Christ. Trust me; you really ought to bail out right now:

Jesus emerged dripping wet from the waters of the Jordan river with the voice from heaven still ringing in his ears: "This is my son, the Beloved with whom I am well pleased." Without a moment’s pause to catch his breath or take into himself the profound implications of what had just occurred,"

Want more? Go here.

There's more:

"Views of the cosmos once sent people to prison at the hands of the clergy," he added. "Things in the Scripture described as demonic we now know were epilepsy. We are always learning more . . . We are all under construction, and my prayer is that we be faithful to that process."

"Religion has a tremendous amount to contribute to the transformation and healing of the world," Griswold told the gathering. "Love by nature has to give itself away. The more we root and ground ourselves and our inner energies of our tradition, we become people of compassion and the world is healed to that extent."

And then this:

The "fine line" between official blessing and unofficial blessing is a distinction Bishop Griswold acknowledged "would be difficult to comprehend" in many parts of the world, particularly among bishops who believe any recognition of same-sex unions runs counter to biblical teaching.

"It is our way of honoring the request that we not put forward in authorized fashion rites of public blessing. Many things happen in the life of a congregation that are informal with knowledge and encouragement of the local bishop, but they are not seen as formal actions committing the Episcopal Church," Bishop Griswold said.

And Frank recently said this:

Some of the law needs to be kept, but not all of the law needs to be kept.


When you talk about the authority of scripture, not as a rule book that has all the answers, but if we see in scripture the way in which God works — the way in our own day to attach to the motions of the spirit in our midst.


For instance, in the portion of Romans that talks about homosexuality, clearly the Biblical writers assume that everyone was naturally heterosexual, and therefore any kind of homosexual behavior was unnatural. Well, I think there’s a big question mark there.

And this:

Along with many others, both within and beyond the Roman Catholic Church, I offer my prayers for Pope Benedict XVI as he takes up the august responsibility of his office. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide him in his words and his actions and that he may become a focus of unity and a minister of reconciliation in a church and a world in which faithfulness and truth wear many faces.

(read more here.)

Lastly (do read the whole thing:

because God’s truth, which was given human form in Jesus, who declares himself to be the truth, and continues to dwell among us in his risen reality through the agency and driving motion of the Spirit of truth – God’s truth is larger, stranger, wilder and infinitely more paradoxical then anything we can understand or imagine or contain within our tidy notions of righteousness.

You can get Chris in hard cover.

Thank you.

ELCA, be scared, be very scared, because we seem to be headed in this direction, lockstep.

Revisionists never sleep!

Story by: WSU Office of University Communication

Examining and discussing the intersection of sexuality, faith and politics is the focus of a three-day conference at Winona State University's Tau Conference Center. "Reclaiming Moral Values: Sexuality, Faith and Politics," a Philip N. Knutson Conference, begins on Friday, March 3, and concludes on Sunday, March 5.

The conference features keynote speaker Rev. Malcolm Himschoot, the current Minister for Outreach at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, Minn., and includes a variety of activities as well as a number of informational and action workshops for those wanting to join other people of faith to:

• Critically assess cultural and faith based assumptions;
• Learn about the cooptation of value based principles in the current political climate;
• Learn how to reframe issues of morality and sexuality toward social justice;
• Learn about various resources and tools needed to work toward equality based change; and
• Network with other activists, continue the discussion and coordinate action efforts, locally and regionally.

The Rev.Malcolm Himschoot is a 28-year-old Euro-American transgender man who preaches, teaches and gives presentations to all age groups throughout the country and is the subject of the feature documentary "Call Me Malcolm," which will be featured at the conference along with opportunities for discussion with Rev. Himschoot.

He was ordained in 2004 as a United Church of Christ minister after receiving his MDiv from the Iliff School of Theology and a bachelor's degree from Amherst College. While in Denver, Colo., he served in ecumenical and inter-cultural urban ministry, with an emphasis on justice and peace.

Also featured as a part of the conference are informational and action workshops conducted by Rev. Anita Hill, pastor of St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church; Rev. Jay Weisner from Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis; Lindsey Saunders from Action Wisconsin; Monica Meyer from Outfront Minnesota; Rev. Nancy Horvath-Zurn of Healing Spirit Metropolitan Community Church in Rochester, Miinn.; Daphne Burt of Soulforce,; Rev. Gary and Rev. Mary Sue Drier of People of Hope Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minn.; Emily Eastwood of Lutherans Concerned/North America; and Greg Bonney, Attorney at Law of La Crosse.

The registration fee is $125 for adults and $60 for students, which includes meals, workshops, keynote presentation, and films. Students wishing to attend only the workshops may register for a reduced fee of $20. Registration forms, as well as information on housing and travel accommodations, can be found at www.lccwinona.org or by calling the Lutheran Campus Center at (507) 452-8316. Registration must be received no later than Feb. 17 and is limited to 200 participants. Early registration is recommended.

Funding for the conference is provided by the Philip N. Knutson Foundation, the Winona State University Foundation, the Elizabeth Callender King Foundation, the Lutheran Campus Center of Winona, the Christa Matter Memorial Fund and the LGBT Resource Center for the Seven Rivers Region.

Uh, registration information here.

I'm sorry if that "uh" sounds a little scornful, but I am beginning to find such misguided efforts to teach folk who go to our Lutheran Campus Ministries how to "Learn how to reframe issues of morality and sexuality toward social justice" is so wrong on so many levels, I think the only possible response is to withhold money from these good people, and the only way to do that would be to withhold all benevolence from the ELCA until they make sure such things are not happening--but, of course, it is happening everywhere, and they never will.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"our understanding of the authority and interpretation"

"In a culture that values consumerism, fears diversity, seeks unity, demands certainty, shuns ambiguity, accepts deception and is often defined by arrogance and
dominance, how do churches today work together to live out their mission? That question was the focus of a sermon by the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), who addressed more than 200 Lutherans and Episcopalians here Jan. 18 at Saint Peter's Lutheran Church,

Hanson preached during a service that celebrated the relationship between the churches....Today's times are filled with challenges for Christians, Hanson said, and they are best embraced by "our understanding of the authority and interpretation of the Scriptures," Hanson said."

Help us, Lord! Somehow the crooect understanding of Scripture and interpretation of Scripture is tied to embracing divirsity? And what, pray tell, deception are we under? Would that be Republicanism or Fundamentalism? Just who is arrogant? Is it the "millenial-fundamental-apocalytic" among us? Or would it be those men in white dresses in the pupit and behind the altar who say they know what new bold things God is doing today?

The pr release is here.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The “gay” liberation movement, like feminism, is a branch of the wider sexual revolution that depends upon the postulate that traditional morality is false and untenable because it assumes a stable human nature with corresponding norms of conduct—moral absolutes, in other words. Modern relativism has always maintained to the contrary that our “sexuality” is like every other human capacity and attitude, “constructed” by our social milieu; in Marxist terms it is an ideological “superstructure” arising from the inexorable evolution of the material “base.”

Hence what we call our “nature” is really no more than a temporary accommodation to social pressures generated by the forces of the human environment; hence men commit sodomy not because they are innately “homosexual,” but because the peculiar configuration of their desires in relation to the dynamics of a particular historical moment drives them to it. Since “human nature” is limitlessly malleable, human institutions like “marriage” and “family” lack a specific essence, and we may attach these terms to any arrangements that currently suit our fancy.

Well kids, you have your homework for the week. Read them in this order. Begin here.

Reorganizing Religion

Reorganizing Religion
Why the Church Bureaucracies Have to Go

by David Mills

A few years ago, a high official in the Church of England announced that the new prayer books would cost the parishes millions of pounds but the Church of England would make a small profit. It was a slip, of course, but one that revealed how deeply those at the center of the Western churches identify their central structures with the churches themselves.

This is a very bad mistake, because these structures have an unfair advantage over the local and personal, from which the most effective, and generally the most orthodox, ministry come. They take from them more than they give, and misdirect their resources and energies even when acting quite sincerely and with the best of intentions. They are the sort of friend who “for your own good,” weeds your library, changes the settings on your computer, replaces your furniture, and rearranges your finances—and then charges you a large fee for doing so because “we’re all in this together.”

Abandon It

Any revival in these churches will require not the reform but the abandonment of the many layers of bureaucracy they have built up over the last few decades, giving the local bodies the authority to act as they think best and forcing the center to be as close as possible to the local bodies, in particular guiding, aiding, and inspiring them far less by law—giving requirements, for example—than by personal authority, and to rely for its support on the voluntary giving of the flocks it serves.

I am not criticizing bureaucracy as such, because it is natural and inevitable. A bishop begins a diocesan bureaucracy as soon as he hires a secretary or convenes a small group to help him with the finances. But some subtle line is crossed, and crossed quickly, when these people and their work become authorities in their own right and work more by rule and process than personal relation.

It is crossed, for example, when the bishop appoints someone because he has to satisfy some political need—to satisfy powerful people in the diocese, for example—not because the man is godly, wise, and discerning. It is generally being crossed when a bishop thinks he is being shrewd.

Bureaucracy is simply one way of getting things done, and the questions to be asked of it are whether it does them well and whether it does other things than it is supposed to do. I want only to suggest that it is not the best form of organization for modern church life. The resources and energy these bureaucracies consume (not only from those who work in them but from those who must spend time and money to oppose them) and the ends to which they direct their work make it harder for the churches to bring the gospel to the people who need to hear it, and make it much harder for the churches to say the clear word the culture needs to hear from it.

Centralized structures can do many things much faster and with less effort than individuals can. Yet they are complex machines far more likely to break down and needing far more energy to run, and require such an investment that no one wants to junk them when they stop working. Even when they are working well, they tend to develop a mind of their own and sometimes to go where even their handlers do not (consciously) intend.

And individuals matter: The most complex bureaucracy run by St. Francis of Assisi will express in its life more of the gospel than the most personal system led by Machiavelli. A committee may be a fellowship helping others or a bureaucracy insisting on its own way, depending on the man who appointed its members and the people he appoints.

My observations and examples will reflect the experience of the Episcopal Church, which as an activist I observed for almost twenty years, but examples could easily be taken from any other Western church. I will use the diocese as the example and the ordination and deployment of clergy as a test case, though what I say of diocesan bureaucracies applies even more to national bureaucracies because they are even less directly accountable to the members of the church and all the more likely to give themselves the sort of general, abstract projects that require a bureaucracy to pursue.

The Problem

The problem is not so much what the bureaucracies say. Who remembers 99 percent of the vast numbers of reports issued by the churches’ many boards, commissions, committees (standing and ad hoc), consultations, conventions, and councils?

If the bureaucracies only put out statements, no one would mind them much, other than lamenting the waste of paper. The problem is mainly what they do. Even at their best, they devour resources and energy that could be better put to local uses, and set the churches’ corporate witness and public agenda to reflect the bureaucratic consensus, which means a general and minimalist statement too indefinite to inspire and guide action. At their worst, they actively distort the churches’ witness and work by demanding too much of their resources and proclaiming an alien gospel.

A Harmful Change

This centralization harms the work of the Church more than it helps....

Read the whole thing. Digest it.

Designed for Sex:

by J. Budziszewski

Midnight. Shelly is getting herself drunk so that she can bring herself to go home with the strange man seated next to her at the bar. One o’clock. Steven is busy downloading pornographic images of children from Internet bulletin boards. Two o’clock. Marjorie, who used to spend every Friday night in bed with a different man, has been binging and purging since eleven. Three o’clock. Pablo stares through the darkness at the ceiling, wondering how to convince his girlfriend to have an abortion. Four o’clock. After partying all night, Jesse takes another man home, not mentioning that he tests positive for an incurable STD. Five o’clock. Lisa is in the bathroom, cutting herself delicately with a razor. This isn’t what my generation expected when it invented the sexual revolution. The game isn’t fun anymore. Even some of the diehard proponents of that enslaving liberation have begun to show signs of fatigue and confusion.

Read it at Touchstone

The meaning of sex....

I don’t know that I can give a short answer to the question of what the “real meaning of sex” is. I speak from a generation that made a lot of mistakes, and when I see how badly we’ve equipped our children to make sense of their own lives and relationships, it looks pretty sad. I guess the clue I would draw is that nature shows us that sex is not just for reproduction but also for that deep human connection we hunger for. It’s designed to be part of healing the essential human condition of loneliness.

This is why Christians have always had an interest in how to handle sexuality. This deep human experience of alienation and loneliness, our difficulty in connecting with each other in love, is an aspect of the shattering of our relationship with God. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that all religions recognize that there is something wrong in the universe, either with our relationship to God and each other, or in our perception of that relationship. We feel out of sync. Every religion tries to address that experienced disconnect by helping humans recover unity through prayer, meditation, serving the poor, or other means.

Christians believe that God took the initiative to repair the damage by coming to earth in human form. This means that he blessed and affirmed the human body, the body he made at the beginning of creation. He showed that it is possible for a human body to contain the presence of God.

In Christ we, too, can become “partakers of the divine nature,” as St. Peter says; we take on the presence of God like a coal takes on the illumination and warmth of fire. We live “in Christ” as St. Paul says, filled with the healing presence of God. Being bearers of God’s light means that we’re able to love each other and repair the tragic brokenness among the human race.

Read Bodies of Evidence: The Real Meaning of Sex Is Right in Front of Our Eyes
by Frederica Mathewes-Green at Touchstone.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

By the time they get to the seminary they are prepared to believe the liberal take on all issues....

In 2002 the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education declared that a "professional disposition" is "guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice." Regarding that last, the Chronicle reports that the University of Alabama's College of Education proclaims itself "committed to preparing individuals to"—what? "Read, write and reason"? No, "to promote social justice, to be change agents, and to recognize individual and institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism," and to "break silences" about those things and "develop anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist community [sic] and alliances."

Brooklyn College, where a professor of education required her class on Language Literacy in Secondary Education to watch "Fahrenheit 9/11" before the 2004 election, says it educates teacher candidates about, among many other evils, "heterosexism." The University of Alaska Fairbanks, fluent with today's progressive patois, says that, given America's "caste-like system," teachers must be taught "how racial and cultural 'others' negotiate American school systems, and how they perform their identities." Got it?

The permeation of ed schools by politics is a consequence of the vacuity of their curricula. Concerning that, read "Why Johnny's Teacher Can't Teach" by Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute (available at city-journal.org). Today's teacher-education focus on "professional disposition" is just the latest permutation of what Mac Donald calls the education schools' "immutable dogma," which she calls "Anything But Knowledge."

Read all of this short George Will piece. For those of you who are "in it for the long haul, you surely see that not only do we have to reform the seminaries, think of the implications: by the time folk get to the seminaries they are already brainwashed.

Friday, January 20, 2006

"Marriage can mean what you want it to mean"

"Confession time: I am one of those who, for years, has argued that legalizing same-sex marriage would not open the door for polygamy. The limit for marriages would remain two, I argued. Two doesn't mean three or four. Wrong. In these politically correct times, do-gooders expand definitions until words — or institutions — lose all meaning. Marriage can mean what you want it to mean....

"Many elites argue that Canada is 10 years ahead of America when it comes to gay rights. But when legal scholars are so progressive that they are willing to shove marriage back to the Stone Age, they reveal a culture with a death wish.

"American advocates for same-sex marriage may want to reconsider supporting civil unions in lieu of same-sex marriage. Or some way to limit marriage to two adults.

Read it all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Arguments for same-sex behavior: outlines and inadequacies

by Dr. William G. Witt

It is only within the last generation that affluent Western Christians have suggested that same‑sex sexual activity might be morally permissible. The unanimous consensus of the previous Christian tradition (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican) has been that homosexual activity is immoral, condemned by both Scripture and Church tradition. The vast majority of critical biblical scholars continue to recognize that the plain sense reading of the biblical texts prohibits homosexual activity, and that Scripture endorses only one per­missible model for sexual activity: exclusive life-long commitment within heterosexual marriage.

Given the historic Anglican commitment to the primacy and sufficiency of Scripture, it would seem difficult to make a case from an Anglican perspective for the approval of same-sex activity, for the blessing of same-sex relationships, or for the ordaining of practicing homosexual clergy. Those who attempt to make such a case necessarily have to address the question of biblical authority. How one attempts to reconcile the endorsing of same-sex practices with the authority of Scripture will depend, first, on whether one recognizes that Scripture prohibits same-sex activity, and, second, how one responds to Scripture’s teaching.

Read the rest. Backtrack to articles, there are many fine ones, for example, "The God of the ECUSA" is a modern classic!

What does all this evidence tell us about the question of homosexuality? Clearly there is no scientific agreement as to the causes of homosexuality; v

What does all this evidence tell us about the question of homosexuality? Clearly there is no scientific agreement as to the causes of homosexuality; various factors which fall on different sides of the classical nature-nurture debate are involved. It may be possible to show in the future, for example, that some people have a genetic predisposition that allows them to be influenced more than others in the direction of homosexuality. This is a far cry from arguing that homosexuality is determined prior to birth, however, an assertion that simply is not supported by the evidence. The possibility of healing, while it has sometimes been overstated, needs to be taken seriously by the Church. Overall, the data supports the teaching of Scripture and Tradition.

This study of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason makes clear that the will of God, as it is revealed in the Bible, and supported by the Tradition of the Church for nearly twenty centuries, is that sexual intercourse may take place only between a man and woman who are married to each other. Homosexual genital acts fall short of God’s intention for his creatures and are to be seen as occasions for repentance and opportunities for healing. The Church’s classical position on human sexuality should therefore continue to be vigorously supported.

Read it all. Everyone needs to be familiar with Kendall and titusoneine

Culture War Question

"It was a triumphant night for films dealing with homosexuality and transsexuality. Besides prizes for Brokeback Mountain, acting honors went to Felicity Huffman in a gender-bending role as a man preparing for sex-change surgery in Transamerica and Philip Seymour Hoffman as gay author Truman Capote in Capote."

Just who is the Hollywood foreign press corp anyway, and why does the rest of media want their pro-deviant sexuality agenda to become America's new normal?

Does everyone get this, that almost every award winning film celebrates adultery? Could it be as simple as people with deviant sexuality who have enough lingering guilt from their sexual practices that they would use their position to promote guilt-free sin for everyone?

Reminds me of the scholar who said that the real reason the enlightenment took off was it allowed its proponents to have more affairs with less guilt.

Monday, January 16, 2006

You simply have to read this

Here's an article from Weekly Standard that shows the direction of things to come once marriage is no longer one man and one woman.

Here Come the Brides: Plural marriage is waiting in the wings.
by Stanley Kurtz
12/26/2005, Volume 011, Issue 15

ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2005, the 46-year-old Victor de Bruijn and his 31-year-old wife of eight years, Bianca, presented themselves to a notary public in the small Dutch border town of Roosendaal. And they brought a friend. Dressed in wedding clothes, Victor and Bianca de Bruijn were formally united with a bridally bedecked Mirjam
Geven, a recently divorced 35-year-old whom they'd met several years previously through an Internet chatroom. As the notary validated a samenlevingscontract, or "cohabitation contract," the three exchanged rings, held a wedding feast,
and departed for their honeymoon.

When I first saw this I thought it was another version of the Belgium story, but it's worse. Read the whole thing and read the other stories by the same author listed at the end.

Katie posted this, too:

Katie wrote,"Funny. I thought we voted no."

I said, "No, I thought that one was marvilously ambiguous, but the one THAT WE DID VOTE NO is being overturned thanks to Metro NY (whose bishop says "Nothing materially changed."

Bishop Payne OK's Same Sex Blessings

At the New England Synod Bishop's Convocation held in Nashua, N.H. on November 7-9, 2005, Bishop Margaret Payne in her bishop's address announced to those in attendance that she interprets Resolution 2 of the three resolutions regarding sexuality adopted in Orlando at the ELCA 2005 Church-wide Assembly to allow for the blessings of unions of same gender couples in committed relationships. These may take place in the churches [that is, the church buildings] provided that pastors, couples, congregations, etc. understand that there is not an official rite of the Church for such blessings. The bishop requested, however, that pastors who intend to perform such blessings should first:

1. inform Bishop Payne
2. discuss the matter with congregation councils
3. not allow same-gender union blessings to become media events.

Bishop Payne said that at present she did not feel called to "ecclesiastical disobedience," but she believes that Resolution 3 deprives the New England Synod and the ELCA of good and faithful pastors who are otherwise qualified to serve the Church. She also stated that she sees no convincing theological arguments for excluding gay and lesbian persons in life-long committed relationships from serving as pastors.
Furthermore, Bishop Payne said that she would respect those pastors, who for reasons of conscience, could not accept or perform same-gender union blessings.
Although Bishop Payne felt she needed to resign from the ELCA Sexuality Task Force, she believes her role on the Task Force was a call from God. She stated that she intends to spend more time among the people and congregations of the New England Synod, and that she will stand for re-election as bishop, "but that's up to the Holy Spirit," she said.

--The Rev. Jack R. Whritenour, Trinity Lutheran Church, Shelton, CT

Thanks to Pastor Rob for the tip!


the myth of tolerance

Katie wrote this over at Cognitively Dissonant. Go to it and follow the link to the
American Anglican Council web site's press release. Hey, this could be your future.

Church Finds “No Room at the Inn” in Baltimore

Church of the Resurrection, an Anglican start-up church in Baltimore, Md., has found that there may be “no room at the inn” for them this Christmas season. In November, the congregation entered a “gentleman’s agreement” with Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church to rent worship space for a two-month “trial period” beginning on Christmas Eve. On December 22, the Rev. Eliot Winks, rector of Resurrection, and Patrick Cunningham, a lay leader in the church, were informed that the congregation could only use the facility for three weeks. In addition, they learned that bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland had pressured their Presbyterian counterpart, Executive Presbyter the Rev. Peter Nord, to deny use of the church. Nord instructed the Brown leadership to cancel the agreement.

Luther Seminary, Brokeback Mountain and the ascendancy of narcissism.

A fairly well-known conference speaker, author, and professor has resigned from Luther Seminary and the ELCA Clergy Roster. She says, "I’d like to let you know that another letter from me was hand delivered, by my bishop, Peter Rogness, to the Conference of Bishops, this week. This letter informed them of my intention to resign from the clergy roster of the ELCA on the basis of my inability to live in compliance with 'Section III: Sexual Conduct' of the document titled Visions and Expectations (specifically the sentence that reads 'Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships')."

In her letter, Fryer glides quickly over her divorce last year: "Some of you were aware of the cataclysmic changes in my personal life, culminating in the sad and quiet ending of my marriage very early last year. When I came to Luther three years ago, this was not something I ever dreamed would happen." There is not a word about sin, not a word about guilt. She goes on to talk about all she wants to do to bring renewal to the church. When it is viewed in the cold light of day the letter is a whole lot of "me-isms" : I am writing, I want to share, I begin to move in new directions, I want to make clear, me and my new partner want to do ministry, I am not going to change my message.

Poor Kelly and the poor people who are going to make her into a type of "the new visionary," She can be our Gene Robinson. Things just didn't work out, and her friend of 10 years is just coincidently going through the same thing (abandoning her spouse). No sin, no guilt, not adultery.

Sounds a little like Brokeback Mountain. We've all heard what a wonderful movie it is and how visionary, these two men, in a time that was so oppressive, had the courage to love each other. Beans! All the positive reviews, how many even mention that both men went on to marry after their summer of love, had children and then tore their families through their self indulgent adultery.

No, it's not called self-indulgent adultery by the politically correct. It's called self-fulfillment. Did you read Walter Sundberg's essay on Gnosticism and the ELCA? He quotes from an essay written by Leander Harding:
The quintessential American Religion is the quest for the true and original self which is the 'pearl of great price,' the ultimate value. Finding the true self requires absolute and complete freedom of choice unconstrained by any sources of authority outside the self. Limits upon personal freedom and choice are an affront to all that is sacred to the American Religion. When the self-determining self finds 'the real me' salvation is achieved. . .Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire not in spite of being gay, not as an act of toleration and compassion toward gay people, but because he is gay and as such an icon of the successful completion of the quest to find the true and original self. . .[D]ivorcing his wife and leaving his family to embrace the gay lifestyle is not some unfortunate concession to irresistible sexual urges but an example of the pain and sacrifice that the seeker of the true self must be willing to endure. That natural, organic, and conventional restraints must be set aside is a time-worn Gnostic nostrum . . . Because Gene Robinson has 'found himself' he has. . .found God and is naturally thought to be a 'spiritual person' and a fit person to inspire and lead others.

Now read Fryer's letter from the Luther web site:
12 January 2006

An open letter to my friends and colleagues who are part of the staff, faculty, student body, and boards of Luther Seminary; and to all those across the church who are my co-learners and partners in ministry:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing to you with a heavy — but hopeful! — heart.

I want to share with you my decision to resign from the faculty of Luther Seminary. This decision hasn’t been easy or quick. In fact, since I arrived at Luther, three years ago, I have been wrestling with whether or not this is a place from which I can best fulfill my call to help lead the church in renewal for the sake of God’s mission in the world. In recent days, after much prayer and conversation, it has become clear to me that God is leading me in new directions. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with colleagues and the leadership of Luther Seminary about various options that would serve the seminary best and, also, my sense of call to do a new thing. Some of you may be aware of how complicated — and prayerful — this process has been. In the end, I’ve decided to make my resignation effective immediately. It has been a privilege to be a part of some important initiatives here at Luther Seminary and I hope that, as I begin to move in new directions, Luther will consider me a friend and partner in the kingdom work to which we have all been called. In fact, I want to make two things clear. First, this decision stems from a relationship of mutual respect and reflects the high regard in which I hold Luther Seminary and they hold me. And, second, although the situation I describe below has complicated this process a bit, my decision is not being driven by it. I am thankful for the warm words of encouragement and appreciation I have received from the administration and from many of my colleagues on the faculty here; and I look forward to dreaming with them about creative new ways for us to be in partnership together in the years ahead.

On a separate and more personal note, I’d like to let you know that another letter from me was hand delivered, by my bishop, Peter Rogness, to the Conference of Bishops, this week. This letter informed them of my intention to resign from the clergy roster of the ELCA on the basis of my inability to live in compliance with "Section III: Sexual Conduct" of the document titled Visions and Expectations (specifically the sentence that reads "Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships").

Some of you were aware of the cataclysmic changes in my personal life, culminating in the sad and quiet ending of my marriage very early last year. When I came to Luther three years ago, this was not something I ever dreamed would happen. I want to thank you for the support, prayers, and encouragement you offered to me during that time. These events, however, created space for me to see things I had never seen before. Even as our church has been publicly wrestling with the issue of sexual orientation over this past year, I have been on a private journey of my own. It has been scary and confusing, but it has also been full of joy. As it turns out, the remarkable woman who has been my best friend for over ten years has a story not unlike my own. We are looking forward to our future together...making a home, raising our kids, doing ministry.

It makes me sad that finding such happiness and wholeness in my life means that, at this point, I cannot serve as a pastor in my church. And I hope that one day I will again be a member of the ELCA clergy roster. But, in the meantime, I am committed to continuing my ministry of teaching and writing in this church, for the sake of our call to participate in God’s passionate mission to love and bless the world. In fact, I have chosen this approach to communicate with you because I want it to be clear that I have no interest in being drawn into the unhealthy fascination our culture — and our church — has with matters sexual. To be sure, I disagree strongly with the current policies of the ELCA on these issues. But, frankly, my primary concern isn't about what is happening "in here!" My passion is — and has always been — for the mission field into which God is sending us. My heart beats for God’s world "out there."

I believe the gift of salvation, which we receive through faith in Jesus Christ, is also a call to participate in God’s mission in the world. For some crazy reason, God uses people — even people like you and me! — to get it done. "Come follow me!" Jesus says, especially to those of us who least deserve it, and to all of us together. Answering this call isn’t a right any of us has. It is, however, a responsibility we all share...every single one of us. In fact, this call to be a part of God's passionate mission to reach the world is at the very core of what it means to be a Christian. It is at the heart of what it means to be the Church. As we answer this call, I believe we can be guided by these five simple principles: Jesus is Lord, Everyone is Welcome, Love Changes People, Everybody has Something to Offer, and The World Needs What We Have. This mission and these values give shape to my life and my ministry. They have been — and will continue to be — at the very center of all my preaching, teaching, researching, learning, and writing. In fact, in the months and years to come, I make this promise to you: The message you hear from me will be the same message you have always heard.

Please know that I am open to hearing from and being in conversation with you as we move forward. I am excited about what lies ahead, although I am not certain yet exactly what form my ministry will take. I am hopeful about the many good things that God will do and is doing in the midst of all these changes. And I ask for your prayers. To be sure, you are in mine.

In Christ,

Kelly A. Fryer

I really don't have any personal animosity towards Ms. Fryer, but (yeah, big but) as I already pointed out (judgmentally, but hey, it is so representative, so typical of our generation) her letter, which I think was supposed to be a resignation letter, was a head-spinning piece of self-promotion (who puts their web site in a resignation letter) and you better betcha that it is a calculated moving forward of the gay movement. I doubt that she cuts any ties with the seminary and will probably find herself on campus on a fairly regular basis and will probably be adored by many students as a "martyr to the movement" (can't you picture her being mobbed as she gets lunch in the cafeteria?).

We really need to revisit the issue of divorce. If clergy with a PhD can go through one and not acknowledge that they did anything wrong, our "I'm OK, you're OK" stuff from a few decades back took hold more than we imagined. We need to teach on cohabitation. We have couples calling churches all the time who have no hint that they are doing anything wrong by living together before marriage, and they leave after the first counselling session still not being told that it's a sin. If you can't see the ELCA doing anything about divorce, that is a pretty good reason to leave the denomination.

But, oops, I didn't mean to say that. I think you should stay and fight if possible, at least until the end of summer 2007…

It's nice to see the lc3 web site and to hear about Lutheran CoRe.

People, educate yourself, then go forth and educate your congregation and colleagues. The time is upon us.


Shrimp here. For those of you who don't know, I was wounded in the culture war back a few years ago and my wound has not healed nicely. It is hard to engage this issue and not suffer certain side effects. We need to think of the fight in the church over the true nature of the gospel as a spiritual battle. Those that want to promote this new, inclusive gospel have a veil thrown over them. We who want to fight for traditional understanding have a zealousness that comes from the Lord, but do not think that the devil does not want to use that to his advantage. If you are entering this debate, you need to take care of yourself spiritually, abandon yourself to God, ask for more faith, more love, and to see the sin within yourself. We need to not judge individuals, rather judge the movement, and even then to see them as victims of an ideology which is either demonic in origin or being used demonically. Reading Luther the other day I ran across this:

I perceive therefore that this man is driven by a messenger of Satan [II Cor. 12:7] … I pray that Christ in his mercy may bring them back to a sound mind. If they are not worthy, I pray that they may never leave off writing such books and that the enemies of truth may never deserve to read any others. There is a true and popular saying: “This I know for certain—whenever I fight with filth, Victor or vanquished, I am sure to be defiled.” (LW 36: 17)

Sounds kind of like, "If you are going to wrestle with a pig, you are bound to get dirty." Problem is, we aren't talking about getting dirt on our body, but losing souls to the devil and we can get obsessed in the fight in a way that is otherwise unexplainable-- if we are talking about fighting the devil, watch it that you are not in need of exorcism afterwards! And watch the bile production and agita factor (better hit your knees and hit the gym).

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...