Monday, June 28, 2010

Bishop Hanson: "both heartbreaking and infuriating."

Shrimp here, figuring that since it is our blog the Chair can't rule us "out of order" for attempting to bind our conscience to the one of four offically accepted perspectives not included in the new policy.

Today the Presiding Bishop has issued this pastoral letter to the ELCA, which we offer to you for your edification.

Pastoral Letter on Gulf Coast Oil Spill from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
- Psalm 145:8-9
June 28, 2010

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is both heartbreaking and infuriating. It causes deep sorrow, both for the initial loss of human life and for the deep and lasting damage to an ecology that provides life and livelihoods for so many of God's creatures. At the same time we grieve that the natural beauty of this region, a sign of God's marvelous creativity, has been defiled.

Moving to indignation and anger over the neglect and carelessness that led to this disaster, both in private industry and in government regulation, is understandable. However, to do so without recognizing the responsibility we all share -- as consumers of petroleum products, as investors in an economy that makes intensive and insistent energy demands, and as citizens responsible for the care of creation -- lacks credibility and integrity. An honest accounting of what happened (and what failed to happen) must include our own repentance.

Nonetheless, God remains faithful in restoring the creation and human community. Among the voices that despair and condemn, we have a witness of hope to proclaim.

First, God, who made the creation and made it good, has not abandoned it. Day after day God sustains life in this world, and the powerful vitality of God's creation, though defiled, is not destroyed. The life-giving power of God's creative goodness remains at work, even in the Gulf of Mexico. The Spirit will continue to renew the face of the earth (Psalm 104:30, as we just sang at Pentecost). All who care for the earth and work for the restoration of its vitality can be confident that they are not pursuing a lost cause. They serve in concert with God's own creative and renewing power.

Moreover, the human family need not drown in a flood of suspicion and recrimination that is more toxic and more lasting than the oil that floods the Gulf can ever be. The cleansing waters of baptism in Christ -- who died not for the righteous, but for the unrighteous -- bring forgiveness and reconciliation with God. In this reconciled life with God we have the freedom to move beyond mutual condemnations and hostility to give a powerful witness of a reconciled community that lives in service of the creation and the neighbor. By refusing to surrender to the toxicity of recrimination, we can convince others that they can join us safely in the life and service of this community.

Responding to a challenge of this size and complexity will call upon countless insights and skills, embodied in hundreds of occupations and trades, and upon the collective strength and will of us all. God's Holy Spirit has abundantly blessed the human community with the gifts needed to do this work. We can do it with sober confidence, good will and even joy.

There are times for mourning and for repentance, as well as for reconciliation and commitment to the creation's care. They come at different moments for different people. As you serve in your communities, I commend to you resources for worshipstudy and action that express the hope of Christians who see God's creative goodness, Jesus' forgiving reconciliation and the Spirit's abundant gifts for service. This is a moment when the human community needs to hear a word of true hope, and we have one to speak.

In God's grace,

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Shrimp again. We rather like that we "need not drown in a flood of suspicion and recrimination that is more toxic and more lasting than the oil that floods the Gulf can ever be." Though we must confess that, hearing it in Bishop Hanson's voice, we're thinking not so much of the Gulf of Mexico's toxicity as that of the flailing organization he's leading (not that you'd notice his leadership anywhere in the recent ELCA News Release we've linked there).

Shrimp -- broken-hearted and infuriated -- out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scallop here, taking a break from sermon-prep and a certain text about demons being cast out of humans and into certain unkosher critters.

Discerning shellfish-scouts, not to mention pastors and parishoners in forums, bishops' consultations, synod assemblies and the stillness of their hearts, have been asking one question over and over -- since last August and even before.
  • The question? "What's next?" in the wake of the ELCA's August 2009 decision that human teaching trumps holy, biblical authority.

Scallop is awash in disappointment but not surprised ...

  • The overarching answer: "Legion" - for the answers are many and scary as a bunch of demons being driven into a herd of hogs.

Case in point: For one of the legion of answers, consider this post -- "16 pastors file charges against Penn. pastor" June by Susan Hogan © Pretty Good Lutherans. In respect for her copyright, we'll just post her link and encourage you have a read. It's posted June 15 at

Anyway, a Scallop shout-out:

  • to Susan for continued coverage of this issue and other things Lutheran in fine, objective journalistic fashion. Pretty Good Writing is her blog-name, and fittingly so. She reports well -- readers decide. Check the right hand column for links to related items.
  • to the Lower Susquehanna 16 -- the 16 pastors who have shown their courage by calling for their bishop to handle this matter in keeping with, well, just read it (footnotes and all) and you'll know.

What's next?

Lord, have mercy.

Scallop out.

The good ship ELCA...

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