Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Life You Can Save

Peter Singer offers a compelling philosophical argument for how and why we should give to help end world hunger.

Interfaith Worker Justice - Unemployment and the Economic Crisis Toolkit

Interfaith Worker Justice - Unemployment and the Economic Crisis Toolkit

Lutheran World Relief:

Lutheran World Relief and Climate Change Legislation

In December 2009, representatives from around the globe descended on Copenhagen, Denmark for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. However, nothing tangible to combat this global crisis was created from this two week conference. Many people blamed the United States for its unwillingness to pledge targeted emissions reduction numbers or commit a dollar amount for adaptation funds, despite our historical contribution to global greenhouse gases.

However while the finger-pointing rages on at the top level, rural and urban communities already vulnerable to poverty and disease are unable to adapt to their changing environments. Whether it is drought, flood or other natural hazards, these people are fighting a losing battle that they did not start. It is time for the U.S. and our legislators to show how much we care about our global family and our willingness to do what it takes to address this challenge with compassion and resolution.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Lutheran - Person Detail

The Lutheran - Person Detail provides an archive of the articles I've written for The Lutheran in the past year or so...

Social Media and Faith

I contributed much of the content for The Lutheran - Home this month on social media and faith. Thanks for checking it out!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The Civil Rights Institutein Birmingham was enlightening. Although it goes over a lot of history I've read other places, but seeing it in Birmingham on the week of MLK, across the street from 16th Baptist, put it in new perspective.


A Heart for Haiti

Before last week's earthquake, I can't say I spent a lot of time thinking about Haiti. I knew that Haiti was a very needy country, and that many people in our church went there regularly on medical and other missions. The heart-wrenching news, the devastation there, has been weighing heavily on my heart. When I learned that a Wartburg Seminary student, Ben Larson, died there, the disaster became even more real to me. Colleagues and friends of mine who knew Ben are grieving, and I grieve with them.

Haiti is our neighbor. They are now a neighbor in even more profound need than before the earthquake. I have been very proud these past couple of days because of our congregation and its heart for Haiti. First of all, people were very generous this past Sunday in their donations for disaster relief.

Then, I started getting messages from some of our high school and middle school students asking if they could do special fund-raising or projects for the people of Haiti. In the coming weeks, you can anticipate that our youth will take up a special collection for Haiti, and you can look forward to some kind of pancake breakfast raising money for Haiti. I am simply so proud of our youth for being interested in mission support for Haiti, and I hope you'll come out in large numbers to support them.

The ELCA news brief on Haiti says, "The ELCA, through the Lutheran World Federation, is already responding to the critical needs of survivors in Haiti. Thankfully, the LWF offices and staff on the island were spared in the earthquake, making it possible for work to begin immediately. Staff there will focus their immediate efforts on issues of water safety and sanitation, assisting with medical triage, and providing emergency sheltering for the many who are now homeless. The ELCA has long-standing relationships in Haiti through several organizations and the Lutheran Church in Haiti.
In anticipation of your generous gifts, ELCA Disaster Response has authorized $250,000 for immediate relief assistance in Haiti, with the possibility for an additional $500,000 as the full scope of this disaster continues to become clear. Your gifts are needed now to make this type of rapid response possible."
On God's Mission with you,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Willimon on Barth on Preaching

"We preachers resonate to the notion of the eventful quality of revelation. The longer I preach, the more convinced am I that preaching is the most fragile of artistic media. Our words are spoken, they waft over the congregation, bounce back and forth off the walls of the church, and are heard no more. A sermon cannot be 'redone,' duplicated. A sermon can be artificially, electronically recorded, but no one, after having heard that sermon preached 'live,' would confuse a stuffed and mounted eagle with a live one."

Welcome to the Book of Concord

Welcome to the Book of Concord

Anyone have a vote on which section of the Book of Concord Lutheran Confessions should write a commentary on this year?

Monday, January 18, 2010


Lots of friendly people, lots of eye contact, and everyone calls you "honey" or "dear." And we're the ones with an accent, and we make it difficult for some people to understand us. That's a change of pace. The other notable cultural difference is a little more difficult to describe--the navigational cues are different. Things you expect to see as markers to help you get a sense of a place are just slightly different from what we're used to in Stoughton.

Staying at a hotel downtown, it was very quiet arriving in the city on MLK Jr. Day. It's widely observed here, and many stores and other places are closed. The drive over to Birmingham Southern College is nice. I didn't realize Birmingham is officially in the mountains.

I spent the day at the United Methodist Center in a class with Will Willimon and fifteen pastors from around the country. It's awesome to be able to sit each day for eight hours for a week straight and simply talk about Theology for Preaching. What a blessing!

I'm the only Lutheran in the class. Whenever this is the case, I'm reminded once again of how Lutheran I really am. Not in any kind of hostile or competitive way, but it just means we reflexively think differently about some things, and that comes out in the conversation. Had a chance today, for example, to talk about Deus Absconditus, performative utterances, and the catechism.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Letter from ELCA on Haiti

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The images of the despair and destruction in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti continue to overwhelm us, but they also call forth our response of prayer and generosity.

Paul’s letter to the Romans gives us words of comfort and hope. Paul writes:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:22-27).
Thank you for continuing to hold in prayer the people in Haiti and all those who are working to bring relief. Thank you for your generous financial gifts.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is already working through long-standing partnerships with The Lutheran World Federation and Lutheran World Relief to provide emergency food, water, shelter and medical supplies.

This church is uniquely positioned to provide immediate and ongoing help. The ELCA has committed an initial $250,000 from ELCA International Disaster Response, and we’ve authorized an additional $500,000 as congregations respond both to the immediate needs and long-term rebuilding efforts.

For those of you who would like to support these relief efforts, I encourage you to visit this Web page ( or call 800-638-3522.

Our phones are open the entire Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST. One hundred percent of all gifts made to ELCA Disaster Response, designated for Haiti Earthquake Relief, will be used for immediate relief and ongoing recovery.

This is what it means to be the church together in mission for the sake of the world.

I invite you to pray:

Merciful God, hear our cry for mercy in the wake of the earthquake. Reveal your presence in the midst of our suffering. Help us to trust in your promises of hope and life so that desperation and grief will not overtake us. Come quickly to our aid that we may know peace and joy again. Strengthen us in this time of trial with the assurance of hope we know in the death and resurrection of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

In God's grace,

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

P.S. Thrivent has pledged to match $1 for every $2 their members contribute, up to a total contribution of $1 million from Thrivent. To make your matching gift (up to $250 per person), go to this Web page (

Friday, January 08, 2010

Books I Plan To Read in 2010

Here's a list of what I've got on deck to read this next year, beyond what I need to read for a couple of classes I'm taking. I'd love to have other recommendations, or hear if anyone is reading these as well:

1. Wendell Berry and Religion: Heaven's Earthly Life
2. Standing by Words and Leavings (Wendell Berry)
3. Augustine: A New Biography (James O'Donnell)
4. The Magicians, Lev Grosman
5. Chronic City (Jonathan Lethem)
6. The Lacuna (Barbara Kingsolver)
7. Forgotten Ways Handbook and Untamed (Alan Hirsch)
8. Christianity and the Social Crisis (Rauschenbusch)
9. The Monstrosity of Christ (Zizek/Milbank)
10. Tale of Genji (Murasaki Shikibu)
11. Easter House and Rock Island Line (David Rhodes)
12. The Teaching of the 12 (Tony Jones)
13. Commentaries on Proverbs
14. Hannah's Child (Stanley Hauerwas)
15. The Deliverance of God (Douglass Campbell)
16. Christian Worship (Gail Ramshaw)
17. Rediscovering Values (Jim Wallis)
18. Plus get more time in reading the UBS Greek New Testament

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Immigration Advocacy

Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of immigrants! Your voice is integral in advocating for change for immigrant families.

You may also be interested in taking action taking action on another bill that reunites families ( as well as other items in our Action Center (

Please check back in with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in the future for even more ways for you to take action and support the rights of immigrant families.

In addition, we encourage you to forward this website and letter along to your family and friends so they can help all of us Stand for Welcome! Share your knowledge, tell others about fair and humane immigration reform! To learn more about the issue, visit:

Thanks again!

Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral: The Faith- Bulgakov Handbook

Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral: The Faith- Bulgakov Handbook

If you're a Bulgakov officianado, you'll love this resource. Wow.

Stand for Welcome Campaign - Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service - NEW

Stand for Welcome Campaign
Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service - NEW

Now's the time to learn and advocate. Check out all the resources for LIRS Campaign for Immigration Reform

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Giving Away 100 Things

As part of the January challenge to give away 100 things, I'm starting out with clothes and books. I've identified 10 shirts, 2 sweaters and 3 pants to give to St. Vinnie's. Here is the first set of books, which I will mail any or all of them to the first claimant (send me your snail mail address by FB or Twitter).

The World Is What It Is, bio of V.S. Naipaul
Light, M. John Harrison
Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver and The Confusion
Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible
Anne Tyler's Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

This gets me up to 21 total items by the end of the first week. Any unclaimed books will go to the public library.