Friday, June 30, 2006

Chapter 4 – Walking Together on Separate Roads

Shortly after this time, a family reunion was held, and the pleasure was given to one Mrs. Shirley R. Proud to announce that the majority of folks proclaimed “I. M.” Knott really a Deacon, qualified to lead a congregation.

It took a while for the reality of the announcement to sink in, but when it finally did, sharp criticism was heard from others in the family, like Mrs. Ima Pauld, over the news. Said Ima Pauld, “To see that ten-class, undereducated man…. in sub-ordination vestments, no less! Why, if I ever hear his brother, Pastor Will-B Knott, in agreement with such…. or suggesting grape juice in stead of wine for… If I ever see Pastor Will-B Knott treating the hymnal like so much….litter – gee! It’s God’s Word, after all!!

Obviously, Ima had a lot on her mind and she’d kept it pent up for quite a while. The trouble was that there were now just too many like Shirley R. Proud and Mr. J.F. Mindset and his sister, Miss Iona Ree. They couldn’t be bothered over folks like Ima Pauld, Confessa N. Teach, or Gettha Message-Straight. They were just too old-school.

To top it off, under more pressure than ever, Miss Oura finally relented and chased after other business schemes, including an open-pit, flame-broiled bar-b-que joint.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Chapter 3 – The Thought Plickens

Twin boys were born. One resembled his father, so she named him Frederick Hanswurst Knott, and the other, given the moniker Wilhelm Brewmeister Knott, more resembled her. At first, times were tough for Miss Oura (and for the boys, with names like that!), but then she had a stretch of some barry good years (and the boys came up with nicknames they could live with). She was happy to see Will-B flourish during this time, and his desire to go to the seminary came to fruition. But, she worried about Fred. He’d kept frequent contact with his father, the now “Reformed Doc Trin”, who re-nick-named him “Ignitus Morris” (a name Fred said more accurately reflected his fiery personality and smoldering good looks). Like father, like son, they frequently reminded Miss Oura that she should get jiggy with the times. Together, the two of them pressured her to expand her catering services for the cultural mind-set crowd, and always keep in mind the bottom line. Only in this way would the family be able to afford paying Trinabus’ way through the Hot-n-Taught School of Pyrotechnic Medicine. Miss Oura consoled herself that at least he’d finally talked Fred into taking a few classes at the university.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Miss Oura takes a quick detour

Miss Oura Synod finally begins to wonder if patronizing "Le Salon de Practice Adiaphora" is such a good idea after all.

I wrote a reply on Friday to Pastor McCain’s post about the statue of Mary, however, I never got to post it due to an incredibly busy weekend and Monday. Since it looks like Pastor McCain has finally succeeded in getting the comments to his post going more toward his intended direction (a discussion of adiaphora), I won’t post my statue musings there. In stead, you all have to suffer through them here.

Since, as Lutherans, our focus is on Christ, we will begin there. Catholic Jesus is cradled so that His whole body is turned outward, toward the world. His face looks outward, toward the people He came to save. Why He is holding a banana, though, I cannot say. Or maybe Mary’s just letting him play with the moon for a while; I’m not sure. (Why is Earth and All Stars popping into my head right now?) The Lutheran Jesus looks like He just looooves His mama and can’t quite bring Himself to look at the world. As for mama herself, yes, Catholic Mary is depicted as the queen of heaven, decked out in her cosmic rays and crown, while Lutheran Mary is dressed very tastefully. However, by virtue of both Catholic and Lutheran Mary’s standing, as opposed to sitting, the size of them naturally outweighs the presence of (and therefore the focus on) the Child. Since both women have a look on their faces that says, “Man, this kid’s gettin’ heavy,” maybe that’s supposed to draw our attention back to Jesus.

Art, whether statue or painting, has movement. Well, I suppose if a “still life” had movement, it would kind of defeat the purpose, wouldn't it? Anyway, one of my favorite Mother and Child paintings is of a very young Mary kissing the face of baby Jesus. Proportionally, Mary and Jesus are on equal footing, and the implied movement draws the focus not so much to Mary, but to Christ -- the miracle of His allowing us to hold Him in our hands and to our lips. Catholic Mary has movement partly due to the quivering rays behind her, but also because her Child is active. Lutheran Mary and Jesus look, well, kind of bored. Maybe He dropped his banana.

I guess, there's no accounting for taste, and folks tell me mine is all in my mouth. So, I’ll just set aside my artistic critique and opine a bit: I do think that this statue and its candles give the impression that Lutherans do/did/could/should/may/might…all the helping verbs, really… pray to Mary. MAYBE (and that’s a really BIG “maybe”), if the center, extra-ornate, Marian-colored candle was replaced with a white Paschal candle, I could MAYBE be convinced that this “décor” is neutral or centered on Christ. On second thought, nope. Look at all the pretty white candles around Catholic Mary, some even in triplicate to remind us of the Trinity. No, surely a more appropriate place to pause for, and encourage prayer would be facing the altar or by the baptismal font.

Chapter 2 – Sowing Seeds of Scandal

I was already rather familiar with her case. Some 40 years or so ago, Miss Oura Synod was a nice respectable girl. Oh, sure, she’d had a falling-out with some friends who’d said good-by to her over the company she kept. But the biggest blow of all came in the form of one “Doctor” Trinabus Knott. He pitched woo to poor Oura until she’d entertained far more than a notion and found herself pregnant by the false “Doc Trin” as he fancied calling himself. The words of Great-Great-Great Grandpa saved the day, and seeing he was no doctor at all and nothing but a scoundrel, the Synod family sent him packing. But his semen-x remained, and now something grew quietly in depths of the body of a very naïve Miss Oura.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Story Hour

I went to the library the other day and picked up a book to read. Well, of course I was going to read it – I already have enough books just looking pretty sitting on my coffee table. The cover jacket said it was an old story, but contemporary at the same time. A story of scandal and cover-up, of war, and only a false sense of peace. I was hooked, and I just couldn’t put it down.

Chapter 1 - It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

It was late. I was sitting in my office when the phone rang. It was a dame. She was upset. She said her name was Onaleah Mosyn-Laymen, of the Confessional Mosyn branch on her Great-Great-Great Grandfather B.O. Concord’s side of the Synod family, and she’d heard some flim-flam man was after her entire family. She was hoping for an explanation she could understand and was hoping I was the man to give it to her. I took the case. I’m Luther N. Pastor, Private Eye.

I told her I’d meet her after church on Sunday with a full report.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Stupid squirrel.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Strong fences make good neighbors

A squirrel has moved in under the rafters above the pastor’s study. Tsk! Really!! A church mouse is one thing, but a church squirrel?!? I understand the concept (not to mention the reality) of Salvation being for the Gentiles as well as the Jews, but I don’t think I can share my space with this nut-meister!

Mice scurry, you know…

… so today we’re going to scurry around my cranial attic and see what we can find amongst the boxes and dust bunnies.

I want you to remember:
Ablaze! – It’s not a program, it’s a movement.
Multi-Site! – It’s not a mission, it’s a vehicle.
LCMS! – It’s not a synod, it’s a (to quote Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes) “It’s a madhouse!!!!!!!!”

Ooooo! Clever, clever Biz Marks crew! They’re using the ol’ “Create a need, then fill it” business axiomatic torpedoes now. The more Multi-Site Ministries they can create, the more they’ll say we need lay-ministry “deacons” to lead them!

Here’s a quick inspiration from Consensus:

Are your spiritual numerics in a slump?
Have your small group rotations ground to a halt?
Is your liturgical pest control pooped?
Perhaps we can help!





“Strategic Mystery Planting”

These seeds of growth are the results of years of dedicated research, mimicry, and careful cloning using mostly* Lutheran DNA. While individual yields cannot be guaranteed, we’re sure your money will be well spent. Call us today!

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And finally, we go Back to the Future……

A riot broke out at the 2007 LCMS Convention yesterday when a significant, but minority contingency of delegates, calling themselves “Confessionals,” arose as one and began whipping out cinctures (which had been hidden in their pockets), overturning tables, and shouting, “Get out of my grandfather’s church!” while lashing those around them. When police arrived at the scene, a man, who claimed to be the synodical president, had his hands firmly clamped over his fanny and was trying to rally his loyal district presidents around him, crying, “Protect my rear! Protect your rears!” Ack! Advance to the rear!”

When it was all sorted out, what Biblical scholars would call a “David and Goliath event” had taken place. As they were ushered off the premises, the shocked majority was heard mumbling “I knew we should have tried to pass that by-law the last time about disallowing vestments at convention activities.” With a firm grasp on the YFL sponsor’s ear, one Confessional was seen wrestling the writhing, aging baby-boomer out the door. Planting one good, swift, parting kick on the sponsor’s posterior, the Confessional bid him farewell. “And I’ve got 12 more choruses of THAT for you if you ever soil the minds of our youth with that tripe again!”

Oh, come on! It’s my attic and I can dream here if I want.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

church, churches, churched, churching

According to my 3-volume, 450,000+ word, Webster’s Third New International Unabridged Dictionary (are you impressed?), “churched” is not just used as an adjective describing someone who is affiliated with a church, it is also a form of the verb, to church, meaning “to bring or conduct to church to receive one of its rites," and “unchurched” means the opposite, that is to deprive someone of the church’s rites. Thus, one could say, “I’ll be churching Grandma today.” We must be careful, however, for the specific word “churching” can also mean “a ceremony by which, after childbirth, women are received in the church with prayers, blessings, and thanksgiving.” So, if I say I'm “churching grandma,” it might give the illusion that it's been a looooooong time since ol’ grandma’s been to church.

Now that I know that all forms of “church” (and would you believe “churchified” is a legitimate form?) can be used as nouns, verbs, or adjectives, in addition to singing, “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together,” I can also sing, “The church am churched, the church are churched, all the church are churched together…” Of course, that’s kind of like saying that a cheese sandwich is a piece of cheese sandwiched between two slices of sandwich bread.

Now I ask you, if an unchurched happens to church another unchurched, does that make the first unchurched churched? And, how often do churched or unchurched have to church the unchurched before the unchurched are churched and can sing “The church am churched?”

Too hard? Here, I’ll make it simpler: How much churched can an unchurched church ‘fore the unchurched could church churched?

Still too hard? Try this: Chipper Charlie churched a church of unchurched chip-monks. If churlish unchurched chip-monks unchurched Charlie’s chipper chip-monks, where’s the church of Charlie’s chip-monks churlish unchurched churched?

Ow. I’m going to wrap my brain pan in an ace bandage and apply ice now. I think I sprained something.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Multi-Site Miseries

Hey pastors, don’t feel bad if you can’t keep up with the Joneses. You say you don‘t have one of those new-fangled Multi-Site Ministries like they do in Missouri? Why, #1 of their Key Characteristics is “worship services in different locations.” So, as you’re going about your parish, making calls, bringing Life and Forgiveness to shut-ins, remember, you’re not doing “pastoral care,” you’ve got yourself a Multi-Site Ministry! Oops! Wait… hold the phone! Key Characteristic #5 says it “exists to serve unchurched people.” Well, shucks, that disqualifies your shut-in calls because they’re already churched.

Okay, so let’s say you've managed to set up an off-site, storefront, preaching station. Um, extension site. Er, satellite ministry. You should attract many new people, because “new ministries” are what really brings ‘em in, at least according to Key Characteristic #3. Now, I know this may make you a bit uncomfortable at first, but you will not be using ushers any more. In stead, you need to pick the biggest, strongest, meanest-looking hombre from your primary congregation to serve as a bouncer at the preaching station, extension, satellite thing. As new people come in the door, he’ll need to screen them to see if they meet Key Characteristic #5's criteria of being unchurched.

“Welcome to St. Ignitus’ Multi-Site Ministry Mission Model. Churched, or unchurched?

“Well, um, okay I must confess, we go to church on Christmas and Easter, but I was attracted to your new ministry, and I’m so happy…

“Nope, sorry. You’re churched. Please step aside.”


“Look, don’t make me get rough, man. You’re churched! You need to run on down to St. Ignitus’ Main-Site Ministry Mission Mega-Mother Church. Next!”

You’ll then need to determine how many times the unchurched folks who attend your storefront ministry-site may come before they are considered churched and need to be sent back to the mother-ship, er, church. To help them make this transition smoothly, you’ll need to have your
SPIFE assimilation drones, er, team in place and ready to…

Wait just one cotton-pickin’ minute! Did I make a wrong turn and end up in the Twilight Zone again!? It’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference. I thought I heard some do-do-DO-do’s, but I just figured it was a praise band warming up. Look! There’s a sign up ahead….

AAAUUUGGGHHH! It’s just as I feared!!!

Aglaze! - Sugar and SPIFE and everything nice,
that’s what happy little Lutherans are made of.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I should have known better

Today, I decided to visit my city mouse cousin. This usually results in some sort of cultural trauma, and today was no exception. I spotted a shingle hanging above a door. “OPTIMETRIST,” it read. I hesitated over a sign in the window. “Get a better outlook on Ablaze! in thirty minutes, or your exam is free! Walk-ins Welcome.” I figured I might as well, because this Ablaze! vision has just been giving me fits.

“Welcome! Here to test your Ablaze! vision? Have a seat!” cried the doctor.

“My, Doctor, what pointy ears you have!”

“The better to hear you with, my dear,” he purred. “Now, first we’ll use this machine with the little flippy-lenses. Just look through here and tell me which is clearer. Is it better on one,


“or two?”


“Well,” replied I, “there’s a kind of smoky haze covering part of number one, but number two is clear as a bell.”

A little scowl creased his brow and something swished back and forth beneath his white coat. But, he cheerfully continued, “Let’s try this next set. Is it better on three, or…”

“Oh, wow! How’d you get that 3-D effect of a hand reaching out to grab my checkbook” I cried.

“That’s not important right now; just tell me which one is clearer.”

“Okay, flip ‘em again.”

“Here’s three, and here’s four.”

“That’s just amazing! Only this time, a hand is giving me a copy of “What About – Christian Stewardship.”

And which one is clearer?”

“Oh, sorry, number four is definitely clearer.”

Now a frown joined his scowl, but he persevered. “Let’s try this third set. Is it better on five…” I saw a picture of Jesus hanging on the cross. “Or, six?”

“Hey, that’s a picture of me! Wait!! Now I’m holding a mirror in front of my face, and I’ve got one of those infinity-reflection-things going on. Me, me, me, me, me... cool! This is the most amazing flippy-lens technology I’ve ever seen! Only… now it’s all out of focus, and I seem to be in constant motion. I think I’m getting “see” sick. No, number five is definitely better – steady and clear.”

“I see,” he said rather flatly. “We’re done with that portion of our test. We will now test your resistance to pressure.”

“You mean that poofy test for glaucoma?”

“No, that’s what an optOmetrist does. I suggest you see one of those, too. I’m an optImetrist, ever hopeful that Ablaze! will catch on. Now, get ready. Just look into this machine, focus on the logo, and you’ll feel a small “puff” of air. Ready?”


“Hey, that was no small puff; it was a blast of hot air!”

“Yes, I’m sorry. We’ve found that we get better results if we turn up the pressure really high. You seem to be pretty resistant; shall we try again?”

“Um, no thank you,” I said as I sprang out of the chair.

“But, you’ll feel so much better!”

“I’ll pass,” I said as I headed for the door.

“But, your Ablaze! vision needs correction!”

“No,” I said as I turned the knob, keeping a wary eye on him.

“We’re running a special,” he called. (Was it my imagination, or had his fingernails suddenly grown longer?) “2 for 1 on the Ablaze! Counter because we’re optimistic that your enCOUNTER might spark……”

“NO!!” I shouted and ran for my life.

I could hear his voice receding as I fled. “If it’s your checkbook you’re worried about, we gladly accept gold, silver, cash, money orders, electronic transfers, Visa, Mastercard, Diners’ Club, Discover, American Express, Western Union, Wal-Mart gift cards….

I headed for Blog’s Pharmacy. My eye was on fire, and I felt a bad case of heart burn coming on. I grabbed a bottle of Frank’s Eyewash and a box of Aardvark’s Antacid. I stopped by Father Hollywood’s video shop, picked up a copy of Luther’s movie reviews, and headed home. Maybe if I hurried, I could still catch the latest episode of Our Little House on the Prairie.

Oh, and I never did get to see my cousin.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Words are our friends

I don’t know if the synod could have picked a name for a not-a-program more vulnerable to verbal high jinks than “Ablaze!”. First of all, it makes the capitalization, grammar, and punctuation features on your word processor go berserk. Second, there are so many incendiary! words related to burning! or its effects, it’s just hard not to heat! things up by taking aim and firing! a few of them off now and then. Even the Ablaze! proponents do it. Take the Southern District and their last year’s “Ablazing Grace – Brushfires-Ablaze.” I wonder how the folks in Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas feel about that. And come on… “Ablazing Grace?!” Though it pains me, I’ll refrain from a ditty digression. And then there’s the Nebraska District’s suggestion of starting a “Prairie Fire.” Honestly, since their own state, not to mention their neighboring states, have been in a drought for nearly a decade, you just have to ask, “What were they thinking?”

If you can keep your blood pressure down, poking around Ablaze! links can be rather entertaining. One led me to something called an LCMS Campus “Confabulation.” No doubt, with its rather simple phonetic construction, verbiphages probably spell this word during second-grade elimination rounds. And, while my mother-in-law tells me they used it somewhere in Mary Poppins, I, nevertheless, had to dig out my dictionary. I find it gratifying that our Lutheran college-level students are being challenged to improve their vocabulary. After all, some of them will be going on to seminary, where they use real whoppers like “concupiscence.” Yes, my beloved consortium of Confessionals, Conflagrate! is causing concision and confrontational conversation in the Missouri Consociation, but that doesn’t have to mean our capitulation to contumatious pressure from the liberal contingencies!! Er, sorry. A dictionary in the hands of an amateur is a dangerous thing. Where I meant to go was, it’s a shame so many congregations are laying aside the meaty vocabulary of the hymnal in favor of the whipped-cream language of contemporary Christian music. Which would you rather hear from little Lucy on the way home from church: twenty-seven rounds of “Celebrate Jesus, Celebrate?” or “Dad, what’s a paraclete?” Oi! No wonder we’re doomed. My spellchecker just suggested I try the word “parakeet.”

Saturday, June 03, 2006

For my hubby

Child of the ‘50’s, oh who could resist
Eating that oreo - twist of the wrist,
Dart of the tongue, licking insides out first,
Crunching the outside, or milk pre-immersed?
Then came the Captain of Crunchable fame.
He added Crunchberries; made you proclaim,
“These are my fav’rite, both now and alway;
Crunchberry Beast, to you homage I pay!”

Child, now turned 50, you still can’t resist
Eating that oreo, twisting your wrist.
Though I buy healthier things you should munch,
Home from the groc’ry you come, pleased as punch.
You and the Captain once more make a team;
Daughters adore you for your little scheme.
Though I may fuss, it’s a half-hearted scold;
Men need their Crunch to defy growing old.

See, you big goombah? I’m a mouse, not a shrew! ;-)

Friday, June 02, 2006

I smell smoke

My June Lutheran Witness arrived yesterday, and I had a few minutes to give it a quick flip today. Another outstanding edition! Dr. Sanchez’s cover article was excellent and will be helpful as I talk with my Pentecostal neighbors, and Dr. Barth’s spoof tickled my whiskers. Suddenly the alarm from my Amazing Ablaze!-o-Meter rang out. I guess President Kieschnick just couldn’t help himself because, after a two-month absence, there was a smoke signal on page 29. Maybe it will turn out to be from a dying ember, and the LCMS will finally see Ablaze! the way Pat from Kansas City (“Letters” page) sees tattoos: a “fad” that some “considered beautiful at the moment.”

Just FYI, I ran a quick search engine on what Ablaze! is and is not. Ablaze! is a vision, movement, response, initiative, program, process, journey, concerted effort, ministry, call to action, focus, goal, opportunity, call, plan, and invitation. Ablaze! is not a western (a relief, I’m sure, to the Nielsen ratings), a campaign (giving, or otherwise), an answer (to the burning question of, “When is a program not a program?” I wish!!), a program (SEE??), or a quick fix (nor quickly fixed, apparently). And now that I'm all inspired, I’m going out and set my trash ablaze. That’s what we country folk usually do with it, and besides, I have too much to load up and take to the post office. Do you think Dr. Luther would approve?

p.s. I'm sorry Dr. Sanchez. I could NOT make my computer put the accent mark over the "a" in your name.

There's no business like show bizness

On Memorial Day, the satellite stations AMC and TCM were showing war movies. I spotted one that I’ve enjoyed for many years – Sink the Bismarck. I thought about this oldie but goodie while searching for bits of popcorn under the couch a few days later. Next thing I knew, my rodent brain had wandered down a slightly different path ~ Bismarck….Bismark…Bizmark….

Biz Marks! And, like the seemingly impossible task laid before the Allied Navy in WWII, the allied confessionals now must attempt once again to Sink the Biz Marks!

The entire LCMS fleet had been sailing around in circles on turbulent waters. Joined together by the barest thread, the Church Marks were still evident among them. But by 2006, many were listing heavily to port, having been hit repeatedly by what lurked beneath the waves.

“Load the torpedo tubes with our weapons of Mass destruction!” barked the captain of the submarine, Biz Marks.

“Aye, sir! Ready and waiting, sir”

“Fire one!”

“’Corporate Jargon’ away, sir. Reports of confusion aboard all targets.”

“Fire two!”

“’Boardroom Bullying’ running straight, sir. Reports of casualties coming in.”

“Fire three!”

“Um, sir? ‘By-law Interpretation’ is jammed in the legal tube.”

“WHAT? I told you, always fire the BI’s through the CTCR or CCM tubes!”

“Yes, sir! Sorry, sir! BI away, and headed straight for the target.”

Right. Now, prepare to surface and man the deck gun!

Ready the accountants! …… “COMMENCE ABLAZE!!!”

(Interesting “historical” note: During this great battle, the crew of the Biz Marks abandoned the most historically successful weapons known in the corporate world: Product Consistency and Product Recognition. How happy would the kiddies be if every McDonald’s had a different menu? How successful would the Coca Cola Bottling Company be if every bottling center came up with its own recipe? It would be pretty tough to buy a box of Kleenex brand facial tissue if the name, Kleenex, appeared nowhere on the box. No, when you pull into a Wendy’s in North Dakota, you know that the Single, Double, Triple, Chili, and Frosty will be just like the ones back home in Georgia. The seating and décor may be different; the faces and accents of the employees are certainly varied; but that’s not what you came to Wendy’s for, is it?)

Currently, “Ol’ MO’s” chances of sinking the Biz Marks do not look too good. Yet we’ll do our best to drop counter measures at the ’07 convention. If the Biz Marks dives lower or her crew turn deaf ears to these depth charges and continue their attack, we may indeed have to lower the life boats and abandon ship. But, whether we bob around independently, lash our rafts together, or, by His mercy, witness the Biz Marks sailing off in her own direction leaving “Ol’ MO” to once again be “synod”, we know that the battle belongs to the Lord of the Church, and He will pilot us to safe harbor.