Monday, November 12, 2007

Blog Recommendations

To my surprise and delight, a lot of my parishioners are reading Father Hollywood. The ranks of the self-declared "computer illiterate" are dwindling among the faithful at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Village of Mechanickham, the City of Gretna, the Parish of Jefferson, the State of Louisiana.

So, my beloved parishioners, as well as other readers, I want to direct you to a few other blogs that you might find edifying.

The first is by a dear friend and colleague, the Rev. Subdeacon Latif Gaba - a seminary classmate of mine who served as the subdeacon at my ordination Mass. He is also a lay brother in the Society of St. Polycarp.

Although Br. Latif had to leave seminary to work full time to pay bills, and was not permitted to return, he is one of the finest theologians and scholars that I have ever met. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the members of the committee that denied Latif re-entry into seminary studies assured me that this was not due to any moral or academic issue with Latif - but rather the impression that he would not fit in well with the current ethos of LCMS pastors.

I have to agree with the assessment, though I think it would have been prudent to allow Latif to complete his studies and see if the Lord has a place for him to serve our church body rather than presume that there is no LCMS altar or classroom where Latif could serve. I can think of many, many places where a man of Latif's integrity, pastoral heart, humility, and intellect would be appreciated, even though he has been known to wear a cassock (gasp!) and listen to Bruce Springsteen.

When I say that I agree with the assessment, I mean that there are an awful (a truly awful) lot of LCMS pastors who support the Ablaze!(tm) program, have no quarrels with so-called contemporary worship, spend little time reading Scripture in the original languages, and try very hard to look and speak like a local Baptist or Methodist preacher. Many of my classmates, Latif included, do not fit in with that paradigm at all.

In short, most of my best friends and most faithful colleagues are terribly out of step with the increasingly typical LCMS pastor - although Latif is the first example to my knowledge of such a man being refused a seat in the classroom (perhaps if Latif were to get a sex change operation and enroll in the deaconess program he might have a better shot...). If my congregation ever gets thrown out or leaves the LCMS, I might consider kidnapping Latif, laying hands on him, and impressing him into service as my father confessor. It is my earnest belief that had I been in the same boat at the same time as Latif, I would have been equally thrown overboard to the sharks as an "undesirable." But there really are congregations out there who don't want a cookie-cutter wannabe Methodist "company man" to be their shepherd. Nothing against a certain midwestern state that starts with the letter "I" (you know who you are...), but there are actually places in this country where high culture doesn't consist of belching the national anthem. Some people actually want men like Latif Gaba to serve as their pastors.

I know of few men as committed to the contemplative prayer life, the Holy Eucharist, and the Lutheran confessions as the good subdeacon. It is my fervent prayer that the Lord open a door for him to serve as Lutheran pastor. We desperately need men of his caliber and pastoral sensitivity.

Latif also happens to be an eloquent writer as well. I highly recommend his Luther's birthday blog article. If anyone "gets" Luther and the reformation it is Latif. I also thoroughly enjoyed his meditation on chocolate and the sacramental life. Delicious writing!

Another offering to the Father Hollywood Community (ha!) is yet another classmate of mine who might today be deemed "undesirable" (who is also a fellow member of the Society of St. Polycarp and a fellow former singer in the Seminary Kantorei), the Rev. Kent Schaaf. I'm honored to work in the fields of the Lord with men of such integrity, fidelity, and sense of humor. There are some great photos and commentary on Fr. Schaaf's recent mission trip to Sudan.

I recently discovered another one of my former (likely now "undesirable") classmates and fellow Kantorei member who is also writing a blog, the Rev. Jon Sollberger. This entry is just a taste of the kind of writing you'll find from this musician and word-smith.

There are a couple other blogs I think members of my flock would appreciate: those of the Rev. Dr. Fritz Eckardt, and the Rev. William Weedon - both men of profound pastoral experience, brilliant Augsburg theologians and writers, and the kind of guys you just enjoy reading and interacting with - in person or in cyberspace.

There are more blogs out there, of course, many of which I think are worth reading whenever anything new is posted - but I'll leave you with just these for now.

And I know which parishioners are reading my blog. They are the ones who greet me on the way out of church and say: "I gotta have more cowbell!"

Let the reader understand.


George Schmidt said...

I don't understand the dual title of "Rev." "Subdeacon" for Latif Gaba. Could you explain how he came to receive such a title and position?

Father Hollywood said...

Dear George:

Latif and I did our seminary field work at Zion in Fort Wayne. At Zion, the seminarians would function liturgically in the role of "subdeacon" - doing the Old Testament and Epistle readings and assisting in other ways at the altar.

Traditionally, subdeacon was a minor order of clergy on the way to major orders. Some area churches would refer to a seminarian as "the Rev. Seminarist" or "Rev. Seminarian."

Latif is no longer a seminarian, but having served faithfully in his liturgical role as a subdeacon and having served as subdeacon at my ordination, I speak of him in that way.

Of course, technically, there are no titles "Rev." and "pastor" in the LCMS, since I believe the official terminology for presbyter is "Minister of Religion - Ordained" - which is a subcategory of "Professional Church Worker." ;-)

Past Elder said...

A point of order, from a rascal.

Traditionally in the West, the minor orders are porter, lector, exorcist and acolyte. The major orders are subdeacon, deacon, and priest.

Interesting from a Lutheran perspective, as bishop is not a separate category. "Priest" emcompasses them both -- but not in the sense we mean. A priest represents his bishop, so the bishop is the fullness of the ordained priesthood and the "priest" functions in his stead at the parish level.

The reason for the designation minor and major is the minor orders do not require celibacy.

These seven degrees were abolished by Vatican II. The minor orders, and the subdiaconite, were abolished as clerical orders, being largely liturgical functions both now, and in the case of us altar boy/acolytes, and in the past functionally carried on by laity. Only deacon, priest and bishop remain, seen as by the institution of Christ, whereas the Church may define and re-define the others. Hence the permanent diaconite.

Which in no case is an argument on my part against calling Latif a subdeacon. Just calling subdeacon a minor order.

Back in the old days at the abbey, college students preparing for seminary were called "philosophers" and seminarians were called "theologians". The patois had many other names for them too.

On a side note, the only Latif I knew before becoming LCMS was Yusef Lateef, a great reed and jazz man (nothing rascallier than an old blues and jazz man with a PhD) -- I hear there are a couple of hip hoppers with the same name or variants thereon.

Friend of the Predigtamt said...

Hi Pastor Dixie!

Am reading your blog and continuing to pray for you and yr wife and family.

Br Gaba is a swell guy and it's a bloody shame that the seminary would not let him serve due to "not fitting into the current ethos". Pfft. If that is true, then NONE of the Apostles would not made the cut at the Seminary.

Blessings from a Phoebe undesirable,

Rosko said...

There's also me, a parishioner of the diaspora. I, too, gotta have more cowbell. Don't forget my blog at higher things! THe user is KD5TMU

Lawrence said...

Friend of the Predigtamt said... "...not fitting into the current ethos". Pfft. If that is true, then NONE of the Apostles would not made the cut at the Seminary."

Seems to be a lot of us that are "not fitting into the current ethos" here lately.