Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
It is only the illiteracy of the current generation of atheists that leads them to think religious practitioners must be stupid or thoughtless. Were Augustine, Maimonides and al-Ghazali - to mention only religious thinkers in monotheist traditions - lacking in intellectual vitality? The question is absurd but the fact it can be asked at all might be thought to pose a difficulty for de Botton. His spirited and refreshingly humane book aims to show that religion serves needs that an entirely secular life cannot satisfy. He will not persuade those for whom atheism is a militant creed. Such people are best left with their certainties, however childish.
In the 1902 minutes, on page 30, it’s reported that the Ministerium reaffirmed its actions of 1895 (Eng min p 25:10): “That we unqualifiedly condemn the introduction of the individual communion cup.”
156th Annual Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States
June 4th to 10th, 1903
June, A.D. 1903 page 161
Appendix I. “The Individual Communion Cup”
Opinion of the Philadelphia Faculty
Within the last few years, an innovation in the mode of administering the Lord’s Supper has been introduced into many congregations of other denominations, and into a few of our own name in this country. As long as there was no danger of interference with the uniformity that has prevailed in our churches this innovation could very properly be left unnoticed. But since a few of our congregations have been agitated by the example and the discussion in other denominations, the time has come, in the judgement of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania, for an opinion on the subject.
The practice referred to is that of the so-called “individual communion cup.” According to it, in the administration of the Holy Supper, each communicant takes from a tr[a]y, offered by the officiating pastor, a minute cup containing a small amount of wine, and, after having drunk, replaces the cup in the tray. The plan provides also in large congregations for the washing of the emptied vessels while the communion proceeds, in order that they may be refilled for subsequent communicants.
In regard to this practice, we must concede that it belongs to the non-essentials of the sacrament. The sacrament is not destroyed by the variation in the mode of its administration. If the practice, abolished by the protests of Ph. J. Spener, of Administering the wine through reeds or tubes, were to be re-introduced, the sacrament itself would be unaffected. Nor would it be any the less the Lord’s Supper if, according to ancient practice, the wine were largely diluted with water. These are non-essentials; but, nevertheless, they are matters of no light moment. The essentials of a sacrament may be unaffected, while, with it, there may be practices interfering with its impressiveness, destroying reverence for a holy ordinance of God, disturbing the minds of devout communicants, and confusing the order of the Church.
Our Fathers, in the Formula of Concord (Solid Declariation, x:9) have declared:
“We believe, teach and confess that, in regard to adiaphora, the Church of God, of every time and place, has the fullest power, according to circumstances, to change, abrogate and appoint anything, provided it be done without levity and offense, becomingly, and in good order, and that, at each particular time, regard be had to that which, to the greatest extent, promotes good order, godly discipline, and the edification of the Church.”
A change, even though it be in regard to matters that are of themselves adiaphora, which completely antagonizes and revolutionizes a practice sanction[ed]not only by the usage of the Church in all ages, in all lands and under all Confessions, where the cup has not been denied the laity, but also by the example of the Apostles and the institution of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, should not be contemplated by individual pastors and congregations, except in consultation and agreement with the churches with which they are synodically united. The good order of the Church and the edification of believers are not promoted by radical changes in the administration of the Holy Supper, that occasion great diversities and contrasts among congregations that profess to stand in closet fellowship with one another. Wherever the practice is unusual, the mind of the communicate is withdrawn from “the chief thing” in the sacrament, the words, “for you,” to the innovation, and to all the associations that have suggested and the arguments urged for its introduction.
The historical practice, observed by our churches, teaches, with great force and clearness, the fact that, while our Lord, by the gift of His Body and Blood to the individual communicant, assures him individually of the forgiveness of sins, the communion is not to separate, but to unite, believing children of God with one another. As a pledge of such union, the Lutheran Order of Service lays particular emphasis on the common cup. The exhortation in the Church Book and Common Service [cul]minates in the words: “For we are all one bread and one body, even as we are all partakers of this one bread, and drink of this one cup. ” The principle is not necessarily that of an entire congregation being restricted to but one cup at an administration, but that of a number of communicants drinking from the same vessel, as a testimony to the common bond that unites them in soul and body by partaking of the same Lord. What they elsewhere shrink from doing, they cheerfully do here, in recognition of their Lord’s unspeakable love to them and to each, even the least and the vilest, of their brethren.
As to the one argument upon which the innovation rests, that of the danger of incurring disease, the lists of the hundreds of thousands communing yearly in our churches, and of the repetition of similar communions in all Protestant churches, for nearly four hundred years now, since the Reformation, is a stronger argument than that urged by the professed scientific spirit of any particular age. If there be remote danger, this is found not only in the use of a common cup, but also in inhaling the same air, a peril which can be avoid only by completely isolating ourselves from our fellow-men.
The refinements of modern life have, after all is said, probably more to do with the proposed change than even sanitary reasons. It must be acknowledged that, where proper precautions are not employed by pastors, there are abused which give much ground for offense. Every possible care should be taken to cleanse the cup continually during the administration and fulfill every requirement suggested by regard for cleanliness and decency. Ordinary prudence will indicate that special attention should be given to communicants whose participation in a general communion might, because of disease or other serious physical cause, render others reluctant to commune after them.
With these precautions, there is no reason among us for deviating from the historical practice.
Where variation from it occurs, a revision of the entire Communion service should be necessitated. The innovation is foreign and antagonistic throughout the spirit of the Lutheran Church. Denominations in which the Lord’s Supper is distributed not by the pastor but by church officers, through the pews or otherwise, for their own self-administration, can adopt the change far more readily than a Church which seeks most directly and immediately to reach the individual communicant with word and element applied through the pastor. The innovation sacrifices the individualization of the word to the individualization of the cup. Neither “good order,” nor “good discipline,” nor “the edification of the Church” either requires or even advises it. Until a demand, based on such reasons, be recognized by the general agreement and official action of the Church, no individual pastor or congregation should yield to any sudden clamor for it, and thus arbitrarily separate from the common and approved practice of the Church.
Mount Airy, Philadelphia, March 18th, 1903.
Minutes of the Proceedings of the annual convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and the Adjacent States, Issues 153-158
Google eBookPage 626-627 in 1051 page PDF
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
- Westboro Baptist Plans to Protest Whitney Houston Funeral: Also every other event ever held anywhere.
- Gunmen Behind Nigerian Jailbreak: Because most jailbreaks are led by Mahatma Gandhi.
- Drone Kills Pakistan Militants: Um, yes. Have you actually been here for the Obama Administration?
- Libya Militias "Out of Control": To be fair, that's the teaser on the Beeb's main news page. The headline proper just says that the militias are threatening stability.
- Conservative Pundits Find Romney Disengaged: Also Moderate, Liberal, Mormon, and French-Speaking
- In Birth Control, Both Sides Seek Advantage: Really? And how is this day unlike every single day in American history since January 22, 1973?
- Richard Dawkins Claims Religion Now 'Irrelevant' In U.K.: see comment above. (And for extra facepalm, the Christian Post put this on their Europe page. Do they have any idea how much the Brits hate being called Europeans?)
- "Shatner's World -- We Just Live in It" Heads to Broadway: And yet some people say there is no God.
Monday, February 13, 2012
The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement. The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last year.
The leader of a JSOC unit in Iraq, known as K-Bar, gets shot in the chest by insurgents. K-Bar waves away his medic until he finishes killing his assailants. His reward? Leading JSOC’s operations in Afghanistan.
DR: So they torture people until Flynn figures out there’s a better way to get intelligence?
MA: I know that sounds like a neat narrative, and this is a complicated story. But in essence, that is what happened. While you have to say the command was complicit in the rough, bad stuff early on, they figured out what was happening, and they figured out a much better, humane and more effective way of doing it. Then they proselytize it, and make sure rest of the military knows they’re doing it that way. You can’t ever erase the stain of torture, but this command deserves credit for figuring out what to do about it, and how to meet the need for intelligence without roughing people up, and how to get inside the decision loops of the insurgents.
Some of the [new intelligence-gathering] tactics were as simple as equipping your [operators] with a camera. Instead of rounding up insurgents, bringing them to one area of a house, they’d have pictures of them exactly where they are, and take pictures what they have on them exactly. ... And they’d send pictures back in real time to an intelligence fusion center. ... And you’d have analyst who could use many of various databases that JSOC had access to, and many that JSOC was building. ... There were teams of U.S. intelligence officers who were trying to get as many fingerprints, DNA samples and so forth of anyone in Baghdad as they could. The analysts would be able to create link analysis charts from them.
If you captured Abu So-and-So, you’d be able to say within a minute, “Hey, I know your uncle is this person, who we really want to get to. If you can tell me where this person is right now, we’ll give you a break and even let you go.” And often, that would be what Abu So-and-So would do, because it would be in his best interest. Within maybe 20 minutes, JSOC could launch a second raid targeting the uncle of Abu So-and-So
Friday, February 10, 2012
The Service of the Church is what it is because every age has given to it its life-blood. . . . It would be false (unliturgical) to go back to the First Age, or even to the Sixteenth Century, for an absolute standard. . . . An incense fills our churches in which linger the devotions of Egypt and of Asia Minor, of Jerusalem, of the catacombs, of Roman churches when the barbarians were hovering on the borders of the Empire, of France when the Moors had swept over Spain, of the heroic age in Germany, and just as well of the Pietistic and Moravian eras, and of later days. We must expect and serve the development of the liturgy, its healthy and natural growth.
An age of darkness is a creedless age. Corruption in doctrine works best when it is unfettered by an explicit common statement of that doctrine. ... Error loves ambiguities.In the contest with Rome, the Reformers complained bitterly that she refused to make an explicit official statement of her doctrine. Our opponents, says the Apology, "do not bestow the labor that there may be among the people some certain statement of the chief points of the ecclesiastical doctrines."[Members of the Papal party were] reluctant to have its doctrines stated in an authorized form, and only under the compulsion of a public sentiment which was wrought by the Reformation did the Church of Rome at length convene the Council of Trent. Its decisions were not completed and set forth until seventeen years after Luther's death and thirty three years after the Augsburg Confession.The proper date of the distinctive life of a particular Church is furnished by her Creed. Tested by the General Creeds, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has the same claim as the Romish Church to be considered in unity with the early Church, but as a particular Church with a distinctive bond and token of doctrinal union she is more than thirty years older than the Romish Church.Our Church has the oldest distinctive Creed now in use in any large division of Christendom. That Creed is the Confession of Augsburg. Could the Church have set forth and maintained such a Confession as that of Augsburg before the time over which the Dark Ages extended, those Dark Ages could not have come. There would have been no Reformation for none would have been needed.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Monday, February 06, 2012
Persons are now living who can remember a curate hunted from a metropolitan pulpit because it was his custom to raise his eyes from his manuscript.To hear Neale tell it, the Age of Reason was an age of deadly, dull, irreligious sermonizing -- and, surprisingly for an Anglican, he doesn't think the 17th was much better. That's right: he even picks on (gasp!) Lancelot Andrewes.
An anecdote, lately told in the life of a Dissenting minister, has a fair claim to the admiration of every Priest who is in earnest. There was a minister named ---, who, it appears, had obtained no small reputation among his brethren for his eloquence generally, and more particularly for the logical sequence, and most of all for the impressive conclusions, of his sermons.
On some great occasion he was appointed to preach, (it was in the open air,) and he had deeply interested his auditors through a long discourse. Just before the conclusion he was observed to hesitate, — and then, in a rambling manner, he recapitulated part of what had been already said, until he reached a very lame and impotent finale.
At the subsequent dinner, when the preacher's health was proposed, 'Brother -- ," said one of the ministers present, "we must all, I am sure, have been charmed by your discourse; but, if I may hazard the observation, I thought that, at the conclusion, you lost the thread of your argument, and hardly equalled your ordinary excellence."
"If I must tell you the reason," was the reply, "thus it was. Just as I was about to conclude, I saw a poor man running up to the place, hot and dusty, and eager to hear. ' Speak a word to him,' said Conscience. 'You will spoil your sermon if you do,' said Pride. And I did spoil it, I know ; but I may have done him good."
Friday, February 03, 2012
Henry Eyster Jacobs, “The Individual Communion Cup: Opinion of the Faculty of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia — At the request of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States,” (Philadelphia, PA, 1903).
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a breast-cancer charity, doesn't want its name associated with Planned Parenthood anymore. (UPDATE #1: Or anyway, it didn't.) But it doesn't mind being associated with ... handguns.
#7: Grape juice. Hey, it's fine in a kid's lunchbox. But on an altar?#6: The ELW Psalter. We appreciate the large selection of Eucharistic prayers, as well as the improved texts and harmonies for so many hymns, really we do. We even -- if hesitantly -- appreciate the profusion of Mass settings. But that psalter is, in simple fact, the Abomination of Desolation.*# 5: The Wedding Industry. Unity candles, crepe runners, floral excesses, cream-colored antique limousines -- with these and so many other innovations, the forces of business have created a parallel liturgical ordo separate from, and sometimes at odds with, the ordo of the church. (A friend recalls the wedding at which a priest turned to the altar and saw that the photographer had climbed onto it -- and refused to get down because he had "a perfect angle.") Starry-eyed brides and their families are ruthlessly exploited, and the ministry of the Gospel is reduced to serving as a scenic backdrop.#4: Common Worship. When the Church of Freaking England can't be troubled to use the Book of Common Prayer, the end is surely nigh.#3: The Pax-as-mosh pit. Thirty-some years ago, pastors struggled to loosen worshipers up enough to turn to their neighbors, extend a hand, and mutter "Peace." Today, we struggle to keep the "seventh-inning stretch" (and yes, a church member once called it that, approvingly) from turning into coffee hour or, worse yet, an opportunity for unwelcome smooches and gropes.#2: Everything on the blog Bad Vestments. Wow. Gives new meaning to the exclamation "Holy cr*p!"
#1: Individual Communion Cups. Need we say more?
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
One of the members of our church asked, “who werethose people all dressed alike?” The Order ‘dresses’ in similar albs and instead of a stole, wears the ‘scapular’ of the order. A friend’s wife asked, “who are those ‘monk’ people?”... What is not immediately apparent is that participation in the Order is participation in a community of prayer. The community aspect became abundantly clear yesterday when those ‘monk’ people nearly outnumbered the local clergy who attended. They came from as far away as West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia.
As it always does this time of year, my inbox is filling up with messages of a certain kind. They all begin with: "I'm here in Davos" and then, in an intellectual form of name dropping, proceed to mention key words and phrases such as Geopolitical Risk, G-Zero World, and Rise of Regions. This, of course, sounds really heavyweight and important. But I am not fooled. Nobody knows what those words mean.
You have to hand it to Klaus Schwab, the founder and CEO of the Forum. He's the greatest showman since P.T. Barnum. Short, bald, and unimposing, he is what you envision when someone says "gnome of Zurich." Yet, despite his anti-charisma, Schwab has managed to persuade a large number of the world's top CEOs, politicians, academics, media stars, and bureaucrats that they have to be in a cramped, second rate hotel in a cold Swiss village with mediocre skiing and food every year during the bridge weekend between January and February. Indeed, he has not only convinced these people that they have to be there, he has them begging him for invitations and prime spots on the program.
Anyone interested in knowing what's really happening or in changing the way things are doesn't go to Davos.