Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lutheran Songs Today Volume 1

Lutheran Songs Today collects the very best alternative & contemporary worship songs by Lutheran singer-songwriters and bands. Each song is presented in piano/guitar/vocal format. Also each song is presented in lyric/guitar format, with graphical fretboards.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Kickstarter I love this kind of thing!

Arts, Briefly - Thom Yorke Names New Band -

Arts, Briefly - Thom Yorke Names New Band -

Thom Yorke is another singer and indie rocker I follow closely, and he has finally named his new band.

Do You Give?

Not giving to help reduce extreme poverty is morally indefensible. It's like watching while a child drowns in a lake, when you could have helped.

In this very practical work of philosophy, Peter Singer convinces us that it is a moral imperative to give to help end world hunger. He then also helps us think through which organizations are the best recipients of our giving, how much as a percentage of our income we should give. He does the math, thinks through the issues, and is convincing on all levels.

In The Life You Can Save, Singer makes the irrefutable argument that giving will make a huge difference in the lives of others, without diminishing the quality of our own.

He has also created a companion web site where you can make a pledge at a level that for probably most readers of this blog, is at least 1% of your income, getting closer to 5% as your income approaches 105 000 USD.

He writes, "Will you do your part to save the lives of people living in extreme poverty? In The Life You Can Save, I suggest a new public standard for a minimum that we should expect people to give. By pledging to donate the percentage of your annual income that meets the standard, you will be making a difference to the poor. But that’s not all: you will also be helping to change the public standard of what is involved in living an ethical life in a world that contains both great affluence and extreme poverty."

We have taken the pledge, although I admit that we were already achieving this level before taking the pledge. We give approximately 5% of our income to agencies that bring relief to the extremely poor. Most of our gifts in this area go to Lutheran World Relief, a relief agency we're proud to be sponsors of. Another significant portion goes to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

Although Singer covers a lot of ground in his book, there is one section that has been especially weighing on my mind recently. He notes that although Americans as a whole are fairly generous (compared to the rest of the world) with their voluntary donations, giving on average just over 2% of their wealth away each year, actually many of us give a significant portion of that wealth away to organizations that benefit the already wealthy rather than the poor. So, for example, donations to art museums, theatres, etc. And of course, even our donations to our church fall into this category, because most of what we donate to church helps pay the salary of staff members and meet the expenses of maintaining the church building, rather than directly helping the extremely poor. And since most members of our churches are wealthy (by Singer's standard almost all of us in America are extremely wealthy when compared to the world population) our charity benefits ourselves.

Friday, February 26, 2010


For most of the 90s, and probably much of the late 80s (once I actually got into music in a bigger way), U2 was my band. I might mention that the first time I bought a CD player (7th grade) my favorite band was Huey Lewis and the News. Had lots of his stuff on tape. Then I think my first CD was either Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or maybe some jazz trumpeter (Maynard Ferguson).

Ok, but when I really started getting into music, it was U2. I can remember holing up in the back of the school bus on 8th and 9th grade outings listening to U2 Boy really, really loud. I'd still happily listen to that album any day.

But somehow, maybe after Zooropa came out, I started to shift allegiances. For quite some time, I don't think I had a band that was "the" band for me the way U2 had been. Things got a little more ecumenical. Sometimes R.E.M. was it, then other times Radiohead. For a time it was The Samples, then maybe Greg Brown. I also went through a Seattle grunge period where Pearl Jam was high on the list.

But some time in this last decade (probably beginning with the release of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), I became comfortable with the idea that Wilco was my new favorite band. I don't worship them quite the way I worshipped the Edge and Bono in the 90s. But I do follow Jeff Tweedy's career very closely, and I think I have all their DVDs in addition to their CDs, something I rarely acquire with other bands (in fact, the only other musician I have on DVD is Neko Case, on and a Bob Dylan documentary).

Wilco represents pretty much everything I like about alt country, one of my favorite movements in indie rock. I love being able to go back into their back catalog (and especially back to the the previous bands like Uncle Tupelo) to get that kind of twangy cross-over from country to rock. Some of their early stuff is actually recordings with Billy Bragg of unrecorded Woody Guthrie tunes.

I like his side projects, like Loose Fur and Golden Smog. Loose Fur really rocks the house, and my son and I love to rock out to that album. So does my brother. Finally, in concert on the stage he is really quite funny. Try the DVD of his solo tour, for example.

This past summer I finally had the chance to see Wilco live in concert, and it just so happened that we were in Colorado and saw him at Red Rock. This felt like the final shift from U2 over to Wilco, because one of my favorite albums of all time, and the reason I was psyched to see Wilco at Red Rock, is Live at Red Rock by U2.

I realize this is a nerdy, fan-like music review, and it may be the only kind of music reviews I can write. I geek out over music. So be it.

Interval Training Can Cut Exercise Hours Sharply : NPR

I was already fairly convinced something like this was true: Interval Training Can Cut Exercise Hours Sharply : NPR

I've already started incorporating intervals into my training, but I think I'll definitely experiment with the 4 minutes 4 times of high intensity with three minutes of recovery in between each.

What I don't see mentioned in the article are the loss of benefits from longer term exercise--for example, I meditate on longer runs, and you can't really meditate during interval training. So a mental component is lost...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Prayer and Practicing Resurrection

Eugene Peterson has just published the fifth volume in his "conversations in spiritual theology" series. Practicing Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ is, like the other volumes in the series, a mix of close biblical exegesis (in this case, an extended commentary on Ephesians), a work of semi-systematic theology, and a devotional work. All five books are worth time and attention, but this one, together with the first and fourth volumes, have been my favorites.

Midway into the book, Peterson has this to say about prayer:

We pray when we are meditatively quiet before God with Psalm 118 open before us; we pray while taking out the garbage; we pray when we are losing our grip and then ask God for help; we pray when we are weeding the garden; we pray when we are asking God to help a friend who is at the end of her rope; we pray when we are writing a letter; we pray when we are in conversation with our cynical and bullying boss; we pray with our friends in church; we pray walking down main street in the company of strangers.

I am not saying that everything we do is prayer, but that everything we do and say and think can be prayer. It seems to have been that way with Paul. I am also saying that many of us pray far more than we are aware that we are praying. We pray when we are not in a conventional place of prayer. We pray when we are not using the conventional language of prayer. I am saying that "always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1 KJV) happens a lot, unnoticed and unremarked.

As a Christian and pastor, I strive to designate formal and set times for prayer, and make use of the traditional language of prayer when I do so--at meals, in the daily prayer office, etc. However, I praise God whenever somebody reminds me of how broad a thing prayer can be, all the way out to prayer as "the total experience of the Christian man or woman" (Martin Thornton, Pastoral Theology, 1965).

Examples include a friend who told me he considers listening to John Coltrane and Art Blakey as some of his best prayer time; friends who pray when they wash dishes; my own prayers while I run or exercise; the impromptu brief prayers we do with the kids; prayer as simply breathing.

So take a deep breath some time today, maybe even fifteen of them, and imagine them as prayer. Or simply let yourself trust that in some ways even beyond your imagining, you are praying in the Spirit because God in the Spirit has promised to do that for you. Everything we do and say and think can be prayer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Preaching Resources "Top Ten"

Was recently asked to make a list of top ten resources for preachers. Here's what I came up with:

Top Ten List #1 (I make no claims that this is objective, or comprehensive. These are just books that have been very influential in my own preaching and study in homiletics)

1. Theology is for Proclamation, Gerhard Forde
2. Wondrous Depth: Preaching the Old Testament, Ellen Davis
3. Unleashing the Word: Preaching With Relevance, Purpose, and Passion, Adam Hamilton
4. Conversations with Barth on Preaching, Will Willimon
5. We Preach Not Ourselves: Paul on Proclamation, Michael Knowles
6. Confessing Jesus Christ: Preaching in a Postmodern World, David Lose
7. Countdown to Sunday: A Daily Guide for Those Who Dare to Preach, Chris Erdman
8. A History of Preaching by O. C. Edwards
9. Preaching as Testimony, Anna Florence
10. Finally Comes the Poet, Walter Brueggemann

If I could expand it to a top fifteen, I'd add:

11. Worldly Preaching, Bonhoeffer
12. Preaching and Theology, James Kay
13. A Cross-Shattered Church, Stanley Hauerwas
14. As One Without Authority, Fred Craddock
15. Everything else Gerhard Forde ever published, like the books in the LQ series, On Being a Theologian of the Cross, Where God Meets Man, etc.

Also, if people ask me about preaching, I often refer to memoirs written by preachers that I find helpful. So although I didn't list these in the top ten, I thought I'd provide a separate list of great memoirs by preachers:

1. The Preaching Life, Barbara Brown Taylor
2. Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery, Richard Lischer
3. Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, Heidi Neumark
4. Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic, Reinhold Niebuhr
5. A Broad Place: An Autobiography, Jurgen Moltmann
6. And not exactly a memoir, but amazing anyway, Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

Finally, I tended towards contemporary authors in the top ten, but if I were to make a short list of influential historic works, it would be:

1. Lectures to My Students, Charles Spurgeon
2. On Christian Teaching, Augustine
3. Divine Rhetoric: The Sermon on the Mount As Message and As Model in Augustine, Chrysostom, and Luther by Jaroslav Pelikan
4. Word of God and Word of Man, Karl Barth

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Being Confessional Means Being Creedal

I vowed at my ordination to preach and teach in accordance with the Scriptures, creeds, and confessions. Since I plan to write once a week on the Lutheran confessions, I thought it might be wise to begin with the simple observation that the Book of Concord itself begins, not with confessions, but with the three ecumenical creeds.

I would tend to say that I strive to preach with emphases precisely in this order. First of all, I teach and preach in accordance with the Scriptures. Whenever I preach, I have the creeds in mind--very closely in mind, in fact. They are a norming norm in my theological reflection, preaching and teaching.

Then, in the background and important, if not as influential as the first two, are the confessions. Posting something weekly here on the confessions is a challenge to myself to get my nose back into the confessions a bit more than I have of late. It's difficult to make time to do so, but important.

But it is also important to remember that those who assembled the Book of Concord saw fit to begin the book with the ecumenical creeds. This means they saw themselves first of all not as confessional theologians, but rather as biblical and creedal theologians.

Proverbs and Garth Brooks

Tomorrow for Wednesday Vespers I'm offering the first in a series of meditations on Proverbs and the wisdom of country music. I happened upon the idea of doing a Lenten sermon series like this because many commentaries indicate that Proverbs itself is a collection that manifests an interest in comparing and evaluating different collections of wisdom. In other words, Proverbs aren't just a collection of sayings, but as a collection of sayings it is designed to teach you to read wisdom sayings better.

The book we're using for our Sunday bible study that emphasizes this theme is title, appropriately, How to Read Proverbs .

So, first of all, here are the lyrics to the song we're singing and comparing to Proverbs tomorrow night, Garth Brook's "Standing Outside the Fire":

We call them cool
Those hearts that have no scars to show
The ones that never do let go
And risk it the tables being turned

We call them fools
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always come with getting burned

But you got to be tough when consumed by desire
'Cause it's not enough just to stand outside the fire
We call them strong
Those who can face this world alone
Who seem to get by on their own
Those who will never take the fall

We call them weak
Who are unable to resist
The slightest chance love might exist
And for that forsake it all

They're so hell bent on giving, walking a wire
Convinced it's not living if you stand outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you're standing outside the fire

There's this love that is burning
Deep in my soul
Constantly yearning to get out of control
Wanting to fly hiher and higher
I can't abide standing outside the fire

Repeat Chorus(twice)

The wisdom of this song can probably be summarized by two lines of the refrain: "Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you're standing outside the fire." Life isn't lived unless you take risks.

When you bring this wisdom into comparison with the Proverbs, the first thing you'll notice is that there isn't much in Proverbs that sounds like this. At the heart of Proverbs is a somewhat different sensibility. Something more like: "Life is not wise unless it includes the fear of the Lord." The "fire" for Proverbs is the challenge of learning the wisdom of God.

However, there are a few verses in Proverbs that compare. Consider Proverbs 13:4:

The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing,
while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.

Or 13:12:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Overall, Proverbs is more concerned with idleness and laziness rather than a lack of risk-taking:

Laziness brings on deep sleep;
an idle person will suffer hunger. (19:15)

And overall, Proverbs is more concerned with living righteous lives "in the fire" rather than whether we take risk or not:

Laziness brings on deep sleep;
an idle person will suffer hunger. (20:3)

There is, however, another book in the Sayings of Scripture that compares more clearly with Garth Brook's song. That book is Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes has a different life philosophy and motif than Proverbs. Where Proverbs emphasizes right living and learning to be wise, Ecclesiastes is a bit more philosophical, wondering whether there is any meaning, per se, in living wise lives and getting wisdom.

The author writes:

For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow. (1:18)

So there is a dialectical tension within Scripture itself between these two books. What Ecclesiastes notices (and what Proverbs seems not to notice) is that although getting wisdom is a good thing, and it is better to be wise than to be a fool, nevertheless the same fate befalls both, and so one might as well learn this lesson.

"There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God" (2:24; also 5:18)

Qoheleth concludes with this statement, which seems similar to Garth Brook's song, and yet is also quite different:

"Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. "

And the reason it is different is because behind the encouragement to live life is a sense of a fearful judge, God, who we to fear (as Proverbs also notes). So Ecclesiastes concludes:

Eccl. 12:13   "The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. "

These are some of my summary notes preparing for the sermon and song tomorrow. I covet responses from readers.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gardening as a City Farmer

This is a confession of sorts. I think I may be like Henry David Thoreau at least in this way: I enjoy planting a garden, but am not necessarily energized to tend a garden. I like the idea of it more than the daily nurture of it.

There. I've said it. As I have been making plans for the spring, ordering seed for the garden, etc., I realized this was true. So I need to develop some habits that will help me overcome this reluctance. Because, in spite of my tendency to avoid the daily nurture of a garden, I really want to, and believe in, growing our own food here on our little plot of land in Stoughton.

I learned recently, for example, that it is illegal to raise chickens in Stoughton. Some of the city council members are re-considering this law, but right now animal husbandry in the city limits is illegal.

Nevertheless, there is a lot we can grow on our lot. We have two apple trees, some blueberry bushes (none of them super fruitful yet, but they're coming along). We have the garden, which gets better every year. We have rasberries in the back corner, which are spectacular producers.

This year, I plan to add some herb box gardens out front, expand our row crops, and maybe plant some nut trees.

I think the main thing that would inspire me the most would be to either register for Master Gardener classes, or at least find a mentor or partner to garden with.

In the meantime, we have also joined our local and somewhat new CSA just down the road from church.

This has turned out more of a "note to self" post than anything particularly interesting or profound, but I do hope it might inspire more of us to raise our own food, even small amounts, and in this way become city farmers.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Scripture, Culture, Agriculture

Ellen F. Davis's recent book, Scripture, Culture, Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible is a fascinating wedding of two genres: agrarian writing and Old Testament exegesis. Agrarianism as a literary movement had its most formative moment with the Southern Agrarians of the 1920-30s. Their Statement of Principles gives a good overview of the philosophy.

Many academics, pastors, and lay readers likely engage agrarianism through the very popular work of Wendell Berry. If you click on his name highlighted in the previous sentence, you can visit a site that introduces his work. It highlights a video of him speaking here in Madison, WI. Amanda and I are sitting up in the front right of the audience. You can periodically see the back of our heads. He reads a short story out loud as his speech. It's 45 minutes long. Watch it. It's amazing.

Ellen Davis has been influenced by Wendell Berry. Berry even writes a forward to her book, something he does quite rarely. She has also been influenced by other agrarians, like Norman Wirzba, David Orr, This means that in this book, she focuses on land care as it is portrayed in Scripture. She does a spectacular job of avoiding nostalgia or romanticism, something many readers of Berry and the agrarians are guilty of. Nevertheless, she finds that the Scripture has a ton to say about how land care is connected to God's covenant with Israel. She believes, and I agree with her, that "reading the work of the contemporary agrarians can make use better readers of Scripture" (22).

After two introductory essays on her hermeneutical approach bringing agrarianism and biblical exegesis into conversation, Davis reads specific texts with agrarian eyes. She begins, appropriate, with Genesis 1, what she calls a poem of creation.

Second, she reads the Exodus as leaving Egypt behind and embracing the wilderness economy. It's really amazing how, when you read the exodus account with Davis with agrarian eyes, all kinds of vistas open up in terms of ethical commentary on land care, storing up of grain, abuse of the land, reliance on God to provide, etc.

I am still working my way through the remaining essays, but they include work on Leviticus and the ethic of wholeness, an essay on the biblical understanding of local economies, a piece on the prophets, another piece on wisdom literature (especially Proverbs), and finally, an essay on the biblical vision of the city in relation to agrarianism.

Not only does Davis make the case that reading the agrarians can make use better readers of Scripture. She also makes an equally convincing case that reading the Bible will make us better agrarians, and will enrich the agrarian conversation. In this way, Davis has accomplished and deepened a wonderful interdisciplinary conversation.

Cambridge Press offers an excellent mini-review:

This book examines the theology and ethics of land use, especially the practices of modern industrialized agriculture, in light of critical biblical exegesis. Nine interrelated essays explore the biblical writers' pervasive concern for the care of arable land against the background of the geography, social structures, and religious thought of ancient Israel. This approach consistently brings out neglected aspects of texts, both poetry and prose, that are central to Jewish and Christian traditions. Rather than seeking solutions from the past, Davis creates a conversation between ancient texts and contemporary agrarian writers; thus she provides a fresh perspective from which to view the destructive practices and assumptions that now dominate the global food economy. The biblical exegesis is wide-ranging and sophisticated; the language is literate and accessible to a broad audience

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why I Like Indie Rock

The most recent issue of Paste Magazine, maybe the main media culture magazine I read cover to cover every month, recently posed as it's cover article question: Is Indie Dead?

The article is really worth reading, and gives a great definition of what precisely indie is and how it has morphed over time. You could summarize the thesis of the article this way: "Indie is dead. Long live indie."

For a while now I've been musing over why it is I can't listen to popular radio formats, why most of the really big and famous bands lack appeal for me, and why music labeled as "indie" (a form of music Paste focuses on) is especially appealing.

I can't even remember the last time I really listened to popular radio. Maybe back in high school, when I was into classic rock on the local Davenport version--97X, the "future" of rock 'n roll. I still sometimes get a kick out of hearing "classic" rock, but I don't elect to listen to it regularly. For example, I really enjoyed the movie "It Might Get Loud," the documentary about the guitarists Jack White, The Edge, and Jimmy Page. I enjoyed the footage and historical stuff about Led Zeppelin. I even thought about taking a listen again through some of the Led Zeppelin catalog. But I really doubt I'll keep listening to Led Zeppelin in rotation with any regularity.

Since high school, my musical tastes have passed through a variety of stages. In college, I tended towards alternative and grunge rock. For much of my time in seminary and Slovakia, it was jazz, folk rock, bluegrass. Since returning to the states, my interest in indie rock has grown and grown, to the point where keeping track of indie rock, analyzing and listening to it, has become a small hobby. I can't really even summarize here the bands I like to listen to that might be labeled "indie." Look at Paste Magazine's best albums of the last decade for a good sampling.

Some of the things I like about indie rock. First of all, it's outsider status. I like being part of a small cadré of people who like something rather than being part of those who purchase mass market consumables. I like the idea that some movements on the side actually lead the way forward. I believe it is true. I like the experimentalism of indie rock. Some great examples of albums that were especially experimental, but I fell in love with them, include Animal Collective's Veckatimest, or the collaboration by David Byrne and Brian Eno, or pretty much anything by Thom Yorke and Radiohead.

[This is also the kind of jazz I still listen to, stuff like Steve Lehman Octet, Jazz Mandolin Project, Andrew Hill]

I like the alt country aspects of indie the best. Maybe the most popular band of this type would be Wilco. I also like the bands that tell epic stories, like The Decemberists or Okkervil River.

And I like bands that are just plain weird, like The Flaming Lips or TV on the Radio. Somehow I both like their music and "identify" with them.

This is why, although there are some Christian bands I really, really love (Jonathan Rundman, Derek Webb, King's X, Rachel Kurtz), and there are bands that do Christian themes without being themselves ostensibly Christian (Rickie Lee Jones, The Mountain Goats), I just can't do mainstream Christian rock, at least not in a sustained fashion. I'm happy to go see David Crowder or Chris Tomlin in concert, and I can do their music in worship, but they don't make it into heavy rotation on the CD player.

I think at root what I like about music is when it pushes the envelope, experiments with the borders of what something should sound like, and is rootsy at the same time. Like the recent Levon Helm album, or Sinead O'Connor, or Portishead. There is a certain Je ne sais quois to this. I've often thought I could never write music reviews because in the end, I hear music and I just say, "I like it." or "I don't like it." And I can't necessarily put into words the why.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

By my own most grievous fault

The Ash Wednesday liturgy in our Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) includes as part of the confession of sin a prayer that was also traditionally in the Compline liturgy. The new Compline in the ELW simplifies the language a bit so it doesn't have the repetition in it that I find so valuable and meaningful. So I decided to look at and compare the two a bit. Here's what I mean. The Ash Wednesday confession reads like this:

Most holy and merciful God,
we confess to you and to one another,
and before the whole company of heaven,
that we have sinned by our fault,
by our own fault,
by our own most grievous fault,

in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done and by what we have left undone.

The Ash Wednesday is in the first person plural (We) whereas the Compline liturgy has it in the first person singular (I). As in:

I confess to God Almighty,
before the whole company of heaven,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned by my own fault
in thought, word, and deed.
I pray God almighty
to have mercy on me, forgive me all my sins,
and bring me to everlasting life.

The Compline liturgy in the old LBW had it in the first person singular, but also repeated that phrase "by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault," instead of just "by my own fault."

When I used to gather on retreat with others who keep the daily office more regularly than I do now, we would pray that prayer, and there was a tradition of making a fist with the right hand, placing it over your heart, and then bringing the fist in over your heart and tapping your chest three times with the phrase. There was something powerful about that repeated physical gesture, together with the heightening of the tri-fold phrase, that made the confession real, and serious.

Last night, as I prayed the prayer while leading the congregation in it, my hand naturally drifted up and I completed the gesture. I wondered whether I should teach it to more people. Confession is such a seldom exercise aspect of daily prayer (most prayer is more likely supplication or intercession, less often is the daily prayer I hear focused on acclamation or confession), that I think maybe a gesture, and some way of truly emphasizing my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault, is important.

It is not important for the confession alone, but for the sake of the absolution, where we hear the others in the community of prayer, as the very voice of God, saying to us, "Almighty and merciful God grant you healing, pardon, and forgiveness of all your sins." I love that part of the prayer too, where first the leader confesses and the congregation extends forgiveness, and then vice versa the congregation confesses and the leader extends absolution. It is a prayer that exercises the mutual consolation of the saints. It is a prayer that really does something.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

by Clint Schnekloth

Remember that you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.

Remember that you are just,
and to the just God you shall return.

Remember that you are just dust,
a speck of dust in the cosmos

but the cosmic crucified Christ
who also was dust
makes just the dust that was dead
and enlivens by his breath
the dust that now lives.

Which is you, dust.
And He once was dust,
though he now sits at his Father's right hand.

And you will return to him,
the God who was dust.

Just dust.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Proposed Shape for Lenten blogging

Wednesdays- Poem
Thursdays- Prayer
Fridays- Music reviews
Saturdays- Book review
Sundays- Life journal
Mondays- Homiletical commentary on texts for the week
Tuesdays- Reflections on Book of Concord


WILCO is live in Madison this week and you can watch a live telecast Saturday night, but I had the pleasure last summer of seeing them live at Red Rock, which simply tops any venue anywhere, period... :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Crazy Prayer

Thank you, God,
for making the gospel crazy talk,
insane chatter,
a foolish message that we just don't get.

Thank you for confusing us,
sending us on goose chases in pursuit
of a rational message, clarity of speech,
when your message is complete nonsense.

Thank you for making our weak
inchoate mumblings

"Jesus" "Cross" "Lord"

Your foolishly weak way
of saving the wise, strong world

Friday, February 05, 2010

Ecumenical Advocacy Days - Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service - NEW

Ecumenical Advocacy Days
Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service - NEW

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is pleased to share with you an exciting opportunity for you to Stand for Welcome in person in Washington, DC. Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a conference for hundreds of people in the faith community (including many Lutherans) to learn, worship and speak out. This year's theme is "A Place to Call Home: Immigrants, Refugees and Displaced Peoples." As Scripture tells us, Jesus had no place to lay his head, the same way many of our uprooted newcomers do not have a place to call home (Luke 9:58).

Participants will have a wide choice of workshops and trainings led by experts about the many elements of global injustice. You'll learn ways to mobilize for compassionate reform of our laws. Sessions will prepare you for visits on Capitol Hill to lift your voices at what will be a crucial time for Congress to support immigrants and refugees. You will also have the opportunity to network with LIRS staff, fellow Lutherans, and other people of faith who care deeply for immigration reform and other social justice issues.

Bring a group! Return home energized and equipped with tools of welcome for your own community. Register now and find more information at
Need-based scholarships and early registration discounts are available.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Welcome | CMA Resources

Welcome | CMA Resources I'm increasingly convinced that if the Lutheran church is called to grow in this century, it will do so by multiplying churches as much if not more than by growing churches. CMA is a great resource to learn more.