Friday, June 29, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Last year the great food read was Omnivore's Dilemma. This year it is Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. If you start reading now, she'll help you understand exactly why you should love eating a ton of leafy greens, a few early shoots of brocolli and cauliflower, snap peas, etc. (that is, if you live up here somewhere near Wisconsin). The narrative is compelling. It's the best thing I've read in a long time that tells a story AND functions as a how to to better gardening, cooking, and living.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Montebello, Canada

This past week I was in Montebello, Canada, attending the final annual gathering of the Center of Theological Inquiry's Pastor-Theologian program. Speakers included Stanley Hauerwas, Max Stackhouse, William Cavanaugh, Marianne Meye Thompson, Robert Jenson, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, and Ann Jervis. Our hotel was part of the Fairmont chain of hotels, and this particular hotel is the largest wooden structure in the world...

Apparently George Bush will be meeting at this resort with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, and the Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, in August.

These last two weeks are the reason why I have written little on the blog of late...

Lodge Grass

Last week I was on a trip through Youthworks to Lodge Grass, Montana. At the conclusion of this servant opportunity, we went whitewater rafting and horseback riding near Absarokee, Montana, near Red Lodge.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lutheran Leaders' Message on Immigration Reform: 'Now, Get It Right'


BALTIMORE, JUNE 8, 2007—Ralston H. Deffenbaugh Jr., president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and several Lutheran bishops call on Congress and the White House to renew efforts to achieve fair immigration reform.

“Now is the time for President Bush and Congress to enact a bill that is truly humane and pro-family,” said LIRS President Ralston H. Deffenbaugh Jr. “LIRS has long supported comprehensive immigration reform, but the Senate bill that stalled last night fell far short of what is needed. Reform must protect family unity, secure the rights of immigrants, allow immigrant workers to come out of the shadows and live with dignity, and provide a path to permanence for those who are undocumented.

“After painstaking deliberation, we opposed the Senate bill,” said Deffenbaugh. “While it would have had some positive impact in the short term, such as providing documentation to undocumented people and reducing the family backlog, the long-term consequences would have been to abandon family unity as a cornerstone of U.S. immigration law. That would have had a devastating impact on family unity. Overall, it was not the comprehensive fix that our broken immigration system requires.”

“I’m disappointed with the current Senate bill,” added the Rev. Gerald L. Mansholt, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Central States Synod. “I hope that our leaders in the Senate, the House, and the office of the president can come together to find a way to bring about comprehensive immigration reform in such a way that it lifts up the importance of the family and keeps families united, which is what the current proposal is missing this year.”

“Core spiritual values unite us in this diverse cultural and religious place called America,” noted the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod. “Central to these shared values is the family. Senate Bill 1348 failed to speak to our common spiritual foundations.”

“Our nation is founded on strong families that stand at the center of our communities,” observed the Rev. H. Gerard Knoche, bishop of the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod. “The Senate’s proposal turned away from that long-standing tradition and from the Christian principle that we should welcome the stranger in our homes and families.”

“This proposal was very problematic,” said the Rev. Paul Stumme-Diers, bishop of the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod. “The family is the first community for us as human beings, and is the strongest building block for creating stable, productive societies.”

“Under the Senate bill U.S. citizens would have completely lost the ability to petition for adult children and siblings and would have to have waited years to unify with their parents,” explained Deffenbaugh. “LIRS applauds Senators Clinton, Menendez and others for their efforts to put the principle of ‘families first’ back into this legislation, and we commend Senator Joseph Lieberman for an amendment that would afford greater protection to asylum seekers. That kind of resolve gives us hope that the day of truly comprehensive immigration reform will come. We call on the White House and Congress to revive real immigration reform and, in good faith, achieve a truly workable compromise.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Joggling Marathons

These two make my three miles of joggling look like a cake-walk... Guess I need to start training more. Apparently, one of them is a divinity student. What is it about pastors and joggling?

Summer Discs

And to continue the summer lists, here are a few of my favorite "listens" for the summer:

Wilco, Sky Blue Sky- Jeff Tweedy et. al. just keep getting better
Arcade Fire, Neon Bible- This Montreal group makes punk fun and eloquent
The Gotan Project- Brazilian techno
Lucinda Williams, West- she writes these folk loops that sing
Thom Yorke, Eraser- composed on his computer, like Radiohead but more personal
Over the Rhine, Films for Radio- best recent discovery of a Christian rock group
Pink Martinis, Hey Eugene- songs from all over
SF Jazz Collective
The Decemberists- The Crane Wife

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Summer Reading

Read two books over the Memorial Day weekend that I can recommend. First, a must read this summer is Michael Chabon's new glorious novel, The Yiddish Policeman's Union. I haven't had such fun reading a novel in long-time. It's a murder mystery, scifi alternative future based on the idea that the "new" Israel is relocated to Sitka, Alaska in 1948. And there's a lot of Yiddish. It's grand.

Second, I read Milan Kundera's book on the novel. The Curtain. I haven't read a piece of literary criticism that was as strangely compelling as this in some time. And also infuriating. I just have one gripe with is book, and it is a MAJOR gripe. does Kundera not realize that women write novels? Great ones? It's as if he has never read anything in the whole tradition of the novel that was written by a woman. Of the classics, what about Jane Austen? George Eliot? Or more contemporary, Marilyn Robinson? Doris Lessing? Virginia Woolf? I could go on... But I also still think The Curtain is worth reading.

Summer reads I have in the bag ready for future trips include Don Cheadle's Not On Our Watch, on the genocide in Darfur; Gerharde Forde's post-humous collection, The Preached God; Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red; John Stubb's biography of John Donne; and of course, Harry Potter.

What else should be on my list?

Torture by Any Other Name Is Still Torture

Listened to portions of the Republican debates last week. The only candidate who categorically rejected torture as incompatible with a civil society was McCain, who himself of course experienced torture first hand.

All the other candidates employed this horrendous Orwellian double-speak- enhanced interrogation techniques. Torture by any other name is still torture, and apparently our country is encouraging and defending it regularly. Why, Lord? How long?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Christological Sabbath

I've always been bothered by the fact that Luther generally designated the 3rd commandment (sabbath) as part of the "old" covenant. That is, in his reading of it, it does not pertain to Christians other than as it designates the Lord's Day when Christians are to "fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God's word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it."

Compare Luther's explanation in the Large Catechism (I recommend reading the whole thing some time, in his explanation of the 10 commandments):

This commandment, therefore, according to its gross sense, does not concern us Christians; for it is altogether an external matter, like other ordinances of the Old Testament, which were attached to particular customs, persons, times, and places, and now have been made free through Christ.

So, without going into incredible detail, it appears that the Sabbath becomes another day of work, holy and sanctified work. Somehow this is ironic coming form the great proclaimer of justification by faith alone. Maybe it is because Luther was a workaholic? (now I'm sounding like Erikson the psychologist).

Anyway, what I noticed this time around as I prepare to preach on Sabbath, is that on the other six days of creation, God "spoke", and there was. God said, let there be... Our creeds affirm that this word spoken by God was the Word, Jesus Christ, and so we can confess in the creed that "all things came into being through Him."

But on the 7th day, God does not speak. God rests. And if God rests, then God does not speak, and so also the Word is not enunciated. Sabbath is a quiet day, at least as it is described in Genesis. God does not speak. The Word does not resound. The Spirit does not hover. Instead, God blesses and hallows the day.

So is there something quirky about having made Sabbath a Word day? Not necessarily, for Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. But Sabbath for Christians is about resurrection. It is about sitting down and resting and celebrating the great abundance of God's good creation. God's creation is especially clear to us because in Christ there is new creation.

But this probably means Sabbath is about more than keeping God's word holy. It also means ceasing from work. It means especially ceasing from consumption, fro living out of the gospel of scarcity. It means living a full day in the abundance of God, where God provides everything we need.

Maybe a better place to learn the Sabbath from Luther in his explanation of the creeds, where he says, using the word "abundantly" abundantly peppered throughout, "God created me and all that exists... God preserves... God provides... God protects... Jesus has redeemed... the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel... enlightened me... made me holy... the Holy Spirit forgives all sins... the Holy Spirit will raise us up on the last day."