Thursday, November 27, 2008

bailout-pie.png (PNG Image, 1004x541 pixels)

bailout-pie.png (PNG Image, 1004x541 pixels)

This is one of those things it is simply hard to believe, or even comprehend...

Slavoj Zizek is a Fascist

If I have ever said something positive about Slavoj Zizek, I take it back, and apologize profusely. His more recent work encouraging violence and fascism is simply deplorable, and the direction he has taken, even if it sometimes comments on theological ideas in interesting ways, is simply indefensible. See this essay of Adam Kirsch, a stunning expose.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

StoryCorps � How-To Kit

StoryCorps � How-To Kit

Favorite Albums of 2008

In honor of our son now being able to count to sixteen, I've selected my top sixteen albums of 2008. I call these favorites of 2008 rather than "best" of 2008, because my listening habits have not been wide enough, broad enough, and deep enough, to make such an audacious claim. Plus, by certain objective standards some of these may not be the best of 2008, but they are all favorites. They get frequent play in our CD rotation, and I can recommend them all as Christmas gifts.

16. Portishead- Third
15. Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago
14. She & Him- volume 1
13. Medeski, Martin, and Wood- Let's Go Everywhere
12. Bob Dylan- Tell Tale Signs
11. Fujiya and Miyagi- Transparent Things
10. Wolf Parade- At Mount Zoomer
9. Castanets- In the Vines
8. Grampall Jookabox- Ropechain
7. The Duhks- Fast Pace World
6. The National- The Virginia EP
5. Jonathan Rundman- Insomniaccomplishments
4. Dr. Dog- Fate
3. TV on the Radio- Dear Science
2. Calexico- Carried to Dust
1. Patty Larkin- Watch the Sky

A bit of commentary may be in order. First, I don't write much about music. Mostly, what I have to say about music is, "I like it," or "I don't like it." Lots of times, my response to music is simply, "That's awesome. Oh wow, you have to hear that!"

Much of the music listed above falls into this category. My #1 pick of Patty Larkin may be the biggest surprise, because she is a local talent with a solid following, but maybe not as well known as some others on the list. Nevertheless, I stand by her album as the #1 album of the year. It is awesome. Everything else in the top five is also pretty much ranked up with Patty. I can't get enough of the Calexico, TV, Dr. Dog, and Rundman albums.

Two Asthmatic Kitty albums made it on this list- Grampall and Castanets. Asthmatic Kitty offers a package right now of all of the Castanets past albums, a great deal. I listen to recordings from that label often.

Some other albums here are darlings of the independent music establishment, like Bon Iver, She & Him, and Wolf Parade. They are awesome albums!

Then there are a few weird gems in here that I discovered by reading the weekly "playlist" article in the Sunday New York Times Leisure section. Like Fujiya and Miyagi and The Duhks. Portishead got a full page article in the NY Times. Medeski are acid jazz performers who put out a great children's album this year.

Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan. Amazing. And finally, my favorite album of 2007, The National's Boxer, was followed up this year by an EP and DVD that is worth it, great stuff even if some of the songs are demos.

So there it is, for what it is worth, the fav albums of 2008.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lewis Hyde - In Progress - Cultural Commons

Lewis Hyde - In Progress - Cultural Commons

A Short Stewardship Message

Do you give regularly to your church and to world hunger or other ministries? If not, this is a good time of year to sit down and think about your giving.

Especially in difficult economic times, rather than this being a time to hoard your money (gifts from God) to yourself, it is important to give it away to help those in need.

First, figure out what your responsibility to your church is. For example, in our congregation each giving unit would need to give approximately $800 to fund the annual ministry of the congregation. Look at your own income, figure out whether you are above or below average, and then give accordingly.

Then, start working on tithing above this. Give first to those ministries you believe truly accomplish God's command to love your neighbor as yourself, and accomplish the prophetic ministries of the church--feeding the poor, clothing the naked, healing the sick, giving drink to those who are thirsty, sheltering orphans and widows, welcoming strangers (immigrants and refugees), visiting those in prison (see Matthew 25).

For example, in our household, we give away about $4000 per year. This includes our giving to church. Since our church supports a wide variety of ministries including the synod and ELCA churchwide, this means at least some of our money goes to support things like global missions, prison chaplaincy, campus ministry, etc.

Then we give to our highest priority benevolences-- Lutheran World Relief and ELCA World Hunger. We also give regularly to our local food pantry and to the ministry of LIRS and Lutheran Social Service of Wisconsin. This year we have given extra to Lutheran Disaster Response as well.

We also give to Wisconsin Public Radio, our local WORT radio station, our alma mater, Luther College, Luther Seminary, and Bread for the World.

It might be important to mention that are very intentional about making a list of who we give to. Lots of places send us letters asking for money. Those letters go in the recycling, not because the organizations are necessarily unimportant, but because it is better to give intentionally than haphazardly, as the letters arrive, and all the organizations we give to we have thoroughly researched and vetted--the majority we even participate in in some way. We believe this is wise.

Corporal works of mercy

Corporal works of mercy are those that tend to bodily needs. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46) enumerates such acts -- though not this precise list -- as the reason for the salvation of the saved, and the omission of them as the reason for damnation. The last work of mercy, burying the dead, comes from the Book of Tobit.

1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the Homeless
5. Visit the imprisoned
6. Visit the sick
7. Bury the dead

Spiritual works of mercy

The spiritual acts of mercy provide for the needs of the spirit.

1. Admonish the sinner
2. Instruct the ignorant
3. Counsel the doubtful
4. Comfort the sorrowful
5. Bear wrongs patiently
6. Forgive all injuries
7. Pray for the living and the dead

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sabbath Rest

Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives

When was the last time you didn't feel busy? Like you really had time to do everything you needed and wanted to do, including catching up on sleep, writing some letters, and just sitting with friends or family to chat? It seems that when we ask each other, "How are you?" the most common response is now always, "I'm so busy." Wouldn't it be a shock if you asked somebody how they were, and they said, "I don't have enough to do?"

We are now entering into a season of the year that sometimes even feels more busy than our already busy lives. There is Christmas shopping to accomplish, shelves and trees to decorate, cookies to bake, meals to prepare. Where, in the midst of all this busy-ness, will we find rest, renewal, and delight? When will we listen to God's command, "Honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy?"

During our congregation's Advent suppers December 3rd and 10th, we will eat together, light the Advent candle, and pray Holden Evening Prayer. We will try to let the evening meal and worship be restful, and delightful. We will encourage each other to find ways to rest and take Sabbath. I invite you to join us for these meals, so that we can talk together about Sabbath rest, and grow together in the practice of it. If you are seeking rest, fellowship, and joy, I promise that these Advent meals will help you in your search.

In preparation for Advent, I'm re-reading a little book on Sabbath by Wayne Muller (Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives, Bantam Books, 1999). He writes, "The traditional Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown, the Christian Sabbath with morning worship. In both Sabbath time begins with the lighting of candles. Those who celebrate Sabbath find that in this moment, the stopping truly begins. They take a few breaths, all the mind to quiet, and the quality of the day begins to shift. Some say they can feel the tension leave their body as the wick takes the flame. Others say they often weep, so great is their relief that a time for rest has come. This is the beginning of sacred time."

Consider introducing a short Sabbath into your family life this Advent season. We will model the candlelighting, meal and prayer at church on Wednesdays, but you might consider practicing Sabbath as a family each Sunday evening the four weeks of Advent. This means that on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, you will need to get everything done that you sometimes leave until Sunday evening. Then, when you are ready, prepare a very simple meal, and get four candles. Each Sunday evening, sit down together as a family, and light one candle the first Sunday, two the second, and so on. Say a simple table grace, such as, "Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen." Then eat together, and share your highs and lows from the day. Eat slowly. Make sure all your televisions, cell phones, game devices, and computers are off. Unplug the phone. Just rest together. Pray. Re-read the Scripture lesson for the day.

This might sound very religious and not practical, until we remember this quote from Ecclesiastes 4:6, "Better is one hand full of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind." Some scholars who have read and studied the Good Samaritan story notice, for example, that the only thing that makes the Samaritan different from everyone else who doesn't stop to help, is that he had enough time to help. This is also true today. People who stop to help others on the highway stop because they are peaceful and restful enough that they have time to help someone in need. Maybe one of the best things we can do to help our neighbor is to be less busy. Maybe loving our neighbor means getting less busy and observing Sabbath.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008

Asthmatic Kitty Records : Home

Asthmatic Kitty Records : Home

They're selling all the full-length albums of the Castanets bundled together, which is a mellow, meditative treat. Check it out. One of my fav record labels of all time!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Presiding Bishop's Statement on 2008 Presidential Election

Messages and Statements - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

November 5, 2008

Presiding Bishop’s Statement on 2008 Presidential Election

Americans have chosen a new president in an historic election. I congratulate Senator Obama on his election to our nation’s highest office, and express gratitude to Senator McCain for his continuing commitment to public service. I commend both for participating in our nation’s democratic process, which serves our venerable tradition of the peaceful transfer of power.

We look to the future as a nation troubled by economic crisis and continuing wars. Such complex realities call for both humility and ingenuity. In the midst of these challenges, we as Lutherans also look to the future as a community of faith and a people of hope. We bring to the public square a longstanding and effective commitment to serve our neighbors and a conviction that government is instrumental in God’s purpose for humanity when public officials work for justice, peace, order and the common good.

Scripture is clear about what should matter to us as Christians in public life: hospitality to strangers, concern for people in poverty, peacemaking and care for creation. From these core biblical values, I appeal to President-elect Obama to establish the following priorities for his administration:

* a response to the current economic crisis with special focus on low-income people
* a robust diplomatic effort to restore U.S. credibility abroad
* a fulfillment of the promised U.S. funding share of the Millennium Development Goals
* strong support for alternative energy research to end our dependence on oil and establish a new green economy
* fair and humane immigration reform
* serious re-engagement with a peace process for Palestinians and Israelis

I call on all members of this church to join me in committing to work with this new administration across the broad spectrum of our Lutheran partnerships and networks. Remain active in public service, be in conversation with each other and within your communities on these issues, and engage members of Congress and this administration through this church’s advocacy ministry. Pray for President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden, and their families, and for their work and service on behalf of our country.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Election Unleashes a Flood of Hope Worldwide -

Election Unleashes a Flood of Hope Worldwide -

The Promise - For Many Abroad, an Ideal Renewed -

The Promise - For Many Abroad, an Ideal Renewed -

The reactions and hopes of the global community to our most recent election is one of the reasons I am proud and happy about the outcome.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Righteousness of Faith According to Luther by Hans J. Iwand � The Radical Gospel

The Righteousness of Faith According to Luther by Hans J. Iwand � The Radical Gospel

A blessed All Saints weekend to all out there. This book by Iwand, with a stellar introduction by Gregory A. Walter, a good friend, may be the best book published on "the saints' this past year, if true sainthood is construed in this was, as those made righteous by God.