Friday, December 21, 2007

Top 12 in the Whole World!!!

Believe it or not, sometimes Shrimp wonders every now and again if one of our posts occasionally crosses the line from pointed satire to just plain rude meanness. And if truth be told, the close of our most recent post was one of those that, even after putting it up, raised second-thoughts along those lines.

Then a few moments ago, an ELCA pastor forwarded the following that appears to have been sent to every ELCA rostered leader whose e-mail address is included on the roster. Note: all emphases are from the original.
From: "David Swartling, ELCA Secretary"
Date: December 20, 2007 6:03:05 PM CST
To: [Name deleted to protect Shellfish source]
Subject: ELCA in CBS Prime Time Special, Dec. 23

Please feel free to include the following in your announcements on Sunday, December 23:

Tonight the CBS television network will air a two-hour prime time program entitled "In God's Name." This special will feature extraordinary footage of 12 of the world's most influential religious leaders, including our very own Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and president of the Lutheran World Federation.

Tune in at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific), 8:00 p.m. (Central) as these diverse and powerful voices offer provocative, compelling and enlightening perspectives on issues in our post-9/11 world, including the rise of terrorism, fanaticism, intolerance and war. For more information go to .
Never mind.

(Did Lowell Almen ever send an e-mail like that?) Shrimp out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Top 10 Religion News Stories for 2007

Shrimp here. Read this press release from the Religion Newswriters Association

Dec. 14, 2007
For more information contact Debra L. Mason or 614-313-0441

Religion's role in U.S. presidential election tops 2007 Religion News Stories of the Year

A poll of the nation's leading religion writers selected the presidential election and the fight for votes among GOP candidates as the top religion story of 2007. Close behind as the No. 2 story were efforts by Democrats to win over voters by showcasing their faith.

For the top religion newsmaker of the year, the journalists chose the Buddhist monks in Myanmar. Hundreds of monks protested last September in support of democracy but were quelched by the military-backed government. More than half of those responding to the survey chose the monks over Pope Benedict XVI, President George W. Bush and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, among others.

The 2007 Top Religion Stories as selected by Religion Newswriters are:

 1. Evangelical voters ponder whether they will be able to support the eventual Republican candidate, as they did in 2004, because of questions about the leaders' faith and/or platform. Many say they would be reluctant to vote for Mormon Mitt Romney.

2. Leading Democratic presidential candidates make conscious efforts to woo faith-based voters after admitting failure to do so in 2004.

3. The role of gays and lesbians in clergy continues as a deeply dividing issue. An Episcopal Church promise to exercise restraint on gay issues fails to stem the number of congregations seeking to leave the mainline denomination, while in a close vote, Canadian Anglican bishops vote to nullify lay and clerical approval of same-sex blessings. Meanwhile, Conservative Jews become more open to gay leadership.

4. Global warming rises in importance among religious groups, with many Mainline leaders giving it high priority and evangelical leaders split over its importance compared to other social and moral causes

5. The question of what to do about illegal immigration is debated by religious leaders and groups on both sides of the issue. Some take an active role in supporting undocumented immigrants.

6. Thousands of Buddhist monks lead pro-democracy protest in Myanmar, which is brutally crushed after a week.

7. Some Conservative U.S. Episcopalians realign with Anglican bishops in Africa and elsewhere in the global South, initiating legal disputes about church property ownership.

8. The Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote rules on the conservative side in three major cases with religious implications: upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions, allowing schools to establish some limits on students' free speech, and denying a challenge to the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.

9. Death takes evangelical leaders known, among other things, for their television work: Jerry Falwell, Rex Humbard, D. James Kennedy, plus Billy Graham's wife, Ruth, and Jim Bakker's ex-wife, Tammy Faye Messner. Other deaths include Gilbert Patterson, presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, and Bible scholar Bruce Metzger.

10. The cost of priestly sex-abuse to the Roman Catholic Church in the United States surpasses $2.1 billion with a record $660 million settlement involving the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and earlier settlements this year totaling $100 million in Portland, Ore., and Spokane, Wash.

The survey polled active members of the Religion Newswriters. Of those polled, 80 people responded, for a 27% response rate. The poll was conducted via an electronic ballot from Dec. 7-13, 2007. Respondents were asked to select the top 10 from 20 choices.

Religion Newswriters is the world's only membership association for people who write about religion in the general circulation media. It is the leader in providing tools and training to help journalists write about religion with balance, accuracy and insight. The annual Top 10 survey has been conducted for more than 35 years.

We note that ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson wasn't mentioned once, though it wasn't for the lack of trying. Shrimp out.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lutheran CORE News 1.6

Lutheran CORE News 1.6
December 14, 2007
(Please copy and distribute as widely as possible.)

A blessed Christmas to you and yours from Lutheran CORE, the coalition for reform!

Most of us have other things on our mind than the struggles of our church body during this season, as we should. For the hope we claim is that the God who sent His Son to redeem our fallen humanity is the Lord of the whole Church, including that part of the Body of Christ in which we find ourselves. And we believe that just as the Holy Child was saved from the machinations of Herod and all the religious and political authorities, so the Bible's vision of the glorified Church will be fulfilled not because of our efforts but because God is faithful to all His promises.

+ + +

Preparing for Next Year

We still need coordinators in some synods. If you are willing to serve as a synod coordinator or as a part of a synodical team within your synod, please contact Pastor Paull Spring at so that we can help publicize your events. Thanks to Jerry Youngquist, we will soon have a new Lutheran CORE web site with a calendar that will list all your meetings.

+ + +

This helpful reminder comes from our fundraising chair, Ryan Schwarz:

Remember CORE as Year-End Approaches

As the end of the year approaches, many people are planning their annual charitable contributions. This year, alongside the other worthy causes and ministries that you undoubtedly support, please consider a contribution to the work of Lutheran CORE. 2008 will be a pivotal year for our common ministry, with the election of all the voting members to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly and the release of the draft ELCA social statement on sexuality both occurring in the new year. We need your support, prayerfully, organizationally and financially.

We are most thankful for your prayers and welcome your financial contributions. We are grateful that the WordAlone Network, a member group of Lutheran CORE, provides administrative support. Tax-deductible donations may be sent to:
       Lutheran CORE
       c/o WordAlone Network
       2299 Palmer Drive, Suite 220
       New Brighton, MN 55112

Please make checks payable to "WordAlone Network," and write "Lutheran CORE" on the memo line.

We can assist you with explanatory materials and procedural advice as you work to advance the cause of reform in the ELCA. Contact Ryan Schwarz at, or any member of the Lutheran CORE Steering Committee. Informational resources are also available on our website

+ + +

From Other Battlefields

This is two years old now, but some of you may not have read the poignant message of an Episcopal senior warden named Bill Boniface as he explained why he and his family felt they needed to leave their Episcopal parish. Lutheran CORE advocates staying in the ELCA, and we believe the ELCA can be reformed if we work together. But we can pray that faithful Christians not be forced into such wrenching decisions in our congregations, and we can profit by his analysis of the nature of our struggle. Read his message at
If the link doesn't work, copy and paste into your browser the text between the brackets. It is a lengthy letter, but be sure to scroll about a quarter of the way down the page to "The Danger to our Church."

+ + +

Woody Allen once said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." That is certainly true of congregations, synods, and denominations. Decisions are made by the people who show up and participate responsibly in meetings, assemblies, committees, and task forces.

Shock your pastor (if you are a layperson) by offering to represent your congregation at conference gatherings and synodical assemblies. Show up at events in your area and get to know the other people. Take advantage of opportunities to volunteer in the organizational structure, while not neglecting your ministries in your local congregation.

Pastors, shock your dean or bishop by actually showing up at assemblies (conference and synodical). Network with the others who are there; you will find more friends than you expect. Offer to help even with the ordinary little tasks that seem unimportant but build your credibility with the leadership and with other participants.

The ELCA will not be changed by grumbling or complaining. Decisions will be made by the people who show up. If we act on our concerns by our presence and involvement, we will make more of a difference than we can imagine.

Sort of the way the Almighty didn't sit in heaven complaining about His rebellious creatures. Instead He came in person in His Son Jesus, to bear our sins and finally win the victory over them. May the example of the Incarnation guide our efforts during the coming years as we prayerfully offer ourselves to the Father to be used, if He wills, in the reform and renewal of the Church which he purchased and redeemed at such great cost.

Pastor W. Stevens Shipman, steering committee member and communications committee

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What Would Tetzel Sell?

Shrimp here. You remember Tetzel, don't you? "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul at once into Heaven springs."

Here's salvation 2007-style, courtesy the ELCA News Service:
ELCA Advocacy Offices Purchase Carbon Offset Credits

WASHINGTON (ELCA) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Washington Office, ELCA Corporate Social Responsibility, Pittsburgh, and Lutheran Office for World Community, New York, have purchased carbon offset credits to mitigate their carbon emissions accumulated through air travel.

"Our offices have been working to reduce our carbon footprints by turning off lights and power strips when we're not in our offices, for example. But short of turning off all electricity and ceasing to travel, it's very difficult to eliminate your carbon emissions entirely," said Mary Minette, ELCA director for environmental education and advocacy.

"Since the advocacy staff travels extensively, we've purchased offset credits to balance those carbon emissions. The credits will go toward renewable energy projects, thus reducing the overall amount of power generated by burning fossil fuels," said Minette.

The specific projects funded by the carbon offsets purchased by the advocacy offices will support the use of anaerobic digesters, machines that dramatically reduce the amount of methane that escapes into the atmosphere while simultaneously generating renewable energy for the dairy farms that run them. Methane, like carbon dioxide, is a major contributor to global warming.

To determine the amount of the offices' carbon emissions that needed to be offset, Minette surveyed the staff about their air travel. She used that information with a carbon emissions calculator on the Internet and then purchased the appropriate amount of credits needed to compensate for the travel.

Minette hopes this move by the advocacy office will start a trend in the ELCA. "Imagine the amount of carbon emissions we'd save if the entire churchwide organization, every synod office, and every congregation were to reduce their energy use and budget for the purchase of offset credits for the remaining energy consumption," she said.

"Our social statement, 'Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice,' commits us as individuals, as a worship community, and as a public church, to address the threat of global warming. I encourage all Lutherans to calculate their carbon footprints, reduce their energy consumption, and purchase carbon offset credits where appropriate," Minette said.

- - -

Information about global warming is at on the ELCA Web site.
To borrow from Ms. Minette, imagine the amount of carbon emissions we'd save if the ELCA shut down its advocacy offices. Jet fuel, hot air.....

Shrimp out.

Friday, December 07, 2007

For Your Church Christmas Party

From the ELCA's Corporate Social Responsibility program:
For the Twelve Days of Christmas the Corporate Social Responsibility Program Gave to Me…

12. A direct giving opportunity

11. A "Keep the Promise" advent calendar

10. A Socially Responsible Investing Handbook

 9. An opportunity to support Fair Trade products

 8. Tips on greener twinkling lights

 7. A Retail Comparison Chart for buying video games

 6. A Video Game Report Card

 5. Safer toy options for children

 4. A SweatFree Consumer Guide to shopping

 3. Ecolabeling: Voting with Our Wallets

 2. Lots of eco-friendly options for shopping

 1. A U.S. Department of State report on the human rights of children

Disclaimer: From time to time the ELCA Corporate Social Responsibility program shares materials that you may find informative or useful in understanding corporate social responsibility issues. The views expressed in these materials reflect the positions of the outside organization and may not necessarily reflect an official position of ELCA.
Shrimp (who wishes he could make up this kind of stuff) hastens to remind you that the 12 Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day, in case CSR's list has you counting down.

A blessed Advent, Shrimp.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Story of Peace & Freedom through Singing

A Story of Peace & Freedom through Singing
hide details 10:55 AM (3 minutes ago) Reply

MUSIC AND SINGING are important and powerful elements in Lutheran services. In fact, Martin Luther himself composed many hymns.The Singing Revolution is a documentary film that tells the true story of how hundreds of thousands of choral singers brought freedom from Soviet occupation to the country of Estonia. Please watch the trailer and learn how you can bring the movie to a theater near you by going to

The Singing Revolution opens in theaters for the first time from December 7th–13th in Los Angeles and December 14th–20th in New York City. The film will open in other cities across the U.S. starting in January. Please sign-up to bring the movie to your city and encourage your family and friends to sign-up, too!

Thank you,
Maureen & Jim Tusty
Directors/Producers of The Singing Revolution

Boy Scouts Lose Philadelphia Lease in Gay-Rights Fight

The Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America will be evicted from a Philadelphia municipal building for refusing to denounce the organization’s homosexuality prohibition.

Published: December 6, 2007
NY Times

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 4 — For three years the Philadelphia council of the Boy Scouts of America held its ground. It resisted the city’s request to change its discriminatory policy toward gay people despite threats that if it did not do so, the city would evict the group from a municipal building where the Scouts have resided practically rent free since 1928.

Hailed as the birthplace of the Boy Scouts, the Beaux Arts building is the seat of the seventh-largest chapter of the organization and the first of the more than 300 council service centers built by the Scouts around the country over the past century.

But over the years the fight between the city and the Scouts was about more than this grandiose structure in Center City.

Municipal officials said the clash stemmed from a duty to defend civil rights and an obligation to abide by a local law that bars taxpayer support for any group that discriminates. Boy Scout officials said it was about preserving their culture, protecting the right of private organizations to remain exclusive and defending traditions like requiring members to swear an oath of duty to God and prohibiting membership by anyone who is openly homosexual.

This week the Boy Scouts made their last stand and lost.

The rest of the Times story is here. As a former scout I cannot begin to express my pride in their committments, and my opposition to the bullying of political correctness.

A close friend of mine has been a scout leader for three decades. In his experience men show up regularly who want to "help out" and it doesn't take long to figure out that they are there to help themselves not scouting. It's the old story: they asked Dillinger why he robbed banks and he replied, "Because that's where they keep the money." That ought to give pause to everyone who has the solemn and sacred task of ensuring the safety and well-being of children. You'd think that a group that holds to "church as a safe place" would have second thoughts about "restraining discipline."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

One More Time: It's Not About Sex

Shrimp again. Fr. Ken Harding, a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada and rector of All Saints' Church, Athabasca, Alberta, writes this today on Anglican Mainstream, which is "a community within the Anglican Communion committed to promote, teach and maintain the Scriptural truths on which the Anglican Church was founded and which guarantee its catholicity":
Anglicanism has prided itself on its heritage which accommodates a broad range of worship traditions, with a similarly broad range of viewpoints on nonessential theological issues, thus providing a rich variety of Christian expression all within one Anglican Communion. However, it was always understood that Anglicanism has boundaries. Over the past 50 years theological liberalism and revisionism have tested those boundaries, suggesting interpretations of Scripture which are more culturally and politically motivated than scholarly informed.

Many claim that the issue which has brought the Anglican Church to this crisis is homosexuality. That is not entirely true; homosexuality is simply the attention-grabbing issue that sells newspapers and secures political and public support. The real issue is hermeneutics, how Scripture is rightly interpreted. All the other divisive issues arise from that one underlying question.

Many media reports suggest that the group in Canada and the U.S. which is now under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Primate of the Southern Cone (lower South America) is “breaking away” from the Anglican Church. That is totally inaccurate. Actually, it is the Anglican Church of Canada that has “broken away” from the worldwide Anglican Communion and “departed” from its own founding constitution through a series of political decisions which are contrary to the repeatedly stated standards of Anglican belief and practice. The Communion, through its National Archbishops (called Primates) and its various Councils, has repeatedly stated its position. It has asked that Canada withdraw from full participation in the Communion’s governing bodies because we acted inappropriately. Canadian Anglicans who wish to remain faithful to the historic standards of belief and practice in the worldwide Anglican Communion were forced by events in Canada to appeal to the worldwide Communion for pastoral care and oversight.
Shrimp has added the emphases above. Read his entire post, "Not Split - Rewoven."

And, one more time -- for the Confusionists are good at at diverting us from this, too -- see Fr. Harding's reminder that the schismatics are those who, should the church divide, depart the faith.

Shrimp out.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Help Wanted

The following advertisement appears in the latest (December 2007) issue of The Lutheran magazine:
EXECUTIVE for DISCERNMENT OF CONTEXTUAL AND THEOLOGICAL ISSUES, Office of the Presiding Bishop — will exercise considerable discretion and judgment in serving as executive assistant to the presiding bishop; assisting in both taking the initiative on and responding to current theological, ecumenical, and social/cultural issues and trends; serves as a theological resource to the officers of this church and is responsible overseeing the response to correspondence of the presiding bishop. Chicago-based. For a full-job description or to apply visit or contact ELCA, Human Resources, 8765 W. Higgins Rd, Chicago, IL 60631; 800-638-3522 ext 2986; E-mail: Apply by Dec. 15, 2007.
As a courtesy, Shellfish provides a link to the full job description for the Executive for Discernment of Contextual and Theological Issues. We don't want you thinking we made it up.

The good ship ELCA...

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