Saturday, October 17, 2009

Don't these guys have e-mail?

Here is an article from the October 2009 Missouri Synod newspaper the Reporter.

The good news is that the ILC - an international association of 34 Lutheran church bodies worldwide, of which the LCMS is a member - unanimously voted to uphold the biblical doctrine of human sexuality - even as many so-called Lutheran bodies around the world have adopted an anything-goes paradigm.

The bad news is that dozens of bishops, presidents, and bureaucrats, and in some cases, their wives and friends, were flown to "a resort outside of Seoul, South Korea" for the nearly week long meeting. In fact, 81 people were registered for this event.

Was it really necessary to fly all these people there, put them up, feed them for nearly a week, and fly them all back home - in order to adopt a statement that the Bible is right and that homosexuality is a sin?

I mean, don't these guys have e-mail?

I just watched a heart-rending video sent by the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society that shows the unbelievably stark conditions Lutheran pastors in Russia are working under. The images from their work and their stories are haunting. And they are certainly not alone around the world. The heroic work of these pastors and missionaries who labor tirelessly in the Lord's kingdom under conditions of poverty puts us all to shame. Maybe it is an oversimplification on my part, but I can't help but wonder if there should be such extravagance in the church at the same time there is such want.

And while it is commendable that we are part of a worldwide association of confessing Lutheran church bodies, and such a confession is necessary - it does seem to be quite a malinvestment of resources to fly these guys (and their wives and pals) all over the world and put them up in resorts. These are churchmen, not heads of state or CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

I'm honestly not opposed to spending money for the Lord's kingdom. We should have beautiful church buildings and holy vessels for worship. We should invest in seminary education. We should build school buildings and staff our schools and universities with top-notch faculty. These things do indeed cost money. But such expenditures are generational in nature. They are true investments. By contrast, the resources spent on this ILC meeting were literally burned up as jet fuel, digested in the intestines of the attendees, and spent in the form of tourism. All that the kingdom of God has to show for all these efforts is a document - one that could have been drafted and approved via e-mail.

Maybe I'm all wet on this, but this just strikes me as a remarkably callous, frivolous, and myopic display of stewardship.

74 comments:

Past Elder said...

FWIW, I think you're right on the money.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

One of the things I remember vividly is a group of Synodical bureaucrats of some stripe who ended up holding their meetings at the Sem - who stayed in the guest dorms and ate in the cafeteria (on the cheap comparatively), and yet complained about how substandard the accommodations were.

The same accommodations I paid $6000 for 30 weeks of, the loans for which I am still paying.

I have no problem with conducting business, I have no problem with even doing things in nice places. . . but discretion is called for, and also an examination of how best monies can be spent.

Dixie said...

I work with people all across the globe and it is true that email, teleconferences and video conferences can help get the cross communication work done BUT every once in a while we all have to meet face to face for our relationships to flourish. I think it makes sense for a "group" to meet face to face periodically.

I don't know how it is in the Lutheran world but I wouldn't think it is much different than the business world and in the business world our companies do not pay for us to bring our spouses or friends along...they have to foot their own bill. (I did interview at one company once that had an international business class air travel policy where they would fly you in business class but if 2 coach seats were cheaper you could take your business class ticket and exchange it for a coach ticket for your and your spouse / friend...but that is rare...at least in my industry.)

Now I, too, think we should be extravagant when it comes to our houses of worship and worship items and we have to teach our ex-hippie, "we can worship anywhere", culture why it is important to give our best to God. But I wouldn't necessarily think it extravagant for the leaders of a group of Lutherans who are in communion to periodically get together to discuss the issues of the day.

That said, one travels only when one can afford to travel...when my company endures hard times...the only travel approved is the absolutely necessary travel--don't know if your Synod works the same way.

The Patriarch of Constantinople is coming to the US this month...we have our own groups grumbling about the cost and the fact that one leg of his journey has him staying at the Waldorf Astoria but I don't have a problem with it. He is the Patriarch! I wouldn't want him staying at the Super 8.

Greg said...

I'm with you. I have refused to participate in such junkets from time to time.

Chris Jones said...

He is the Patriarch! I wouldn't want him staying at the Super 8.

At the end of the day, a Patriarch! is just a bishop who happens to be the pastor of an important see. As an Orthodox bishop, he is a monk.

Maybe he should stay in a monastery, not a five-star hotel. If there is no monastery where he needs to go (and I understand that monasteries are few and far-between in this country, more's the pity), I am sure there are parishioners at a local parish with a spare bedroom.

Let's get real. A Patriarch! is supposed to be, first and foremost, a Christian pastor, who is an icon of Christ, the Son of Man who "had no place to lay his head."

Dixie said...

Let's get real.

Really...I wouldn't want my parish priest to stay at the Super 8 either. And an icon of Christ, if I could afford to put him up at the Waldorf, I would.

+ Robert Wurst said...

If anyone wants one of the DVD's, etc. about the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, send me a note:

rwurstjrATgmail.com

I will put it in the mail posthaste.

Peace,

Rob

Father Hollywood said...

I recommend everyone take Pr. Wurst up on his offer. It is a well-done DVD, most illuminating. I plan on showing it at next week's bible class and asking that our next donation to missions be given to the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society.

It puts a lot of things in perspective.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I would want LCMS Pastors to stay at the Super 8 - it might teach us some humility again.

Father Hollywood said...

Hey, don't knock Super 8. Mrs. H. and I stayed in one in Niagara Falls once that had a hot-tub.

The current situation is a downside of not having a monastic tradition. This weekend, my congregation is having its 40th annual ladies' retreat at St. Joseph's Abbey - which is extraordinarily beautiful, contemplative, and unapologetically traditional - and is, as you can imagine, not a Lutheran setting. I shudder to think what a similar Lutheran retreat house would look like. Gads!

The Southern District of the LCMS is currently making plans for its 2011 "pastors' conference" (sic) to be held on a cruise ship. The last time this was done in the Southern District was right after Katrina - when we all had parishioners living in FEMA trailers.

If our parishioners can't afford to go on cruises, I find it reprehensible that we compel them to pay for their pastors to do so.

A few years ago, we had a prominent seminary professor and literary figure in North American Lutheranism come to our parish for a retreat. I was embarrassed to offer him a trundle bed in our six room shotgun house, and offered to put him up in a hotel instead. But he insisted on staying with us. It turned out to be an utterly delightful visit, and there was not a trace of haughtiness in our guest.

I know of a former seminarian that had a similar experience in hosting the now sainted Bishop Andrew Elisa, presiding bishop of the Lutheran Church of Sudan, at his little apartment in Fort Wayne. I know the bishop's humility made a big impact on him.

How sad that LCMS officials complained at being put up and fed at the seminary. How profoundly sad.

I don't think we Americans really understand how beholden to wealth and luxury that we are. No LCMS bureaucrat should ever be put up in a resort so long as our missionaries have to shake the trees and pay their own salaries.

What the heck is wrong with us?

Rev. Jack A. Kozak said...

My wife and three daughters all stayed for a night in R. Pieper Hall at the seminary in July when we were passing through Indiana. The dorm was air conditioned and the beds comfortable. The cost was $25 per night per room. We had 2 rooms. We'd have gladly eaten in the cafeteria had it been open. There was no spa, but we all enjoyed a lovely evening walk on campus. None of us thought it substandard.

Mike Keith said...

There is great value in face to face meetings. Not every meeting shoudl be face to face for cost reasons... but now and again it is necessary and helpful.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Face to face meetings are fine--but they don't have to be at a resort!

The Iowa District East is now holding their fall pastor's conferences at the District Camp, for I'm sure a much more economical price than a fancy-shmancy hotel.

Paul said...

I don't think we begin to practice what we preach when it comes to stewardship, contentment with food, clothing and shelter, etc. Why do we deprive members of the body of Christ from exercising the gift of hospitality? Such blessings far exceed any worldly resort.

Past Elder said...

There is no downside of not having a monastic tradition. No monk can possibly be accountable to the standards of overseer set out by St Paul, having exempted himself from life as actually lived. And no monkery exists to be a convention centre with a chapel and tour guides in robes; they do it for the income.

In the monkatorium from whose university I graduated, there were generous quarters maintained in case of an "apostolic" or "canonical" visitation". Which doesn't mean Peter or Paul or somebody showed up. Apostolic visitaions are canonical visitations in which the visitor is a papal representative, called a nuncio. Canonical visitation means the bishop shows up. Details for the whole thing are laid out in the Pontificale romanum.

By the time I got there, it was no longer functional. The sitting room had become a student lounge. Last time I was there a discussion was underway as to the significance of The Doors in modern society.

The whole thing from start to finish is pure, unvarnished worldly corruption, a monkery=mockery of the Gospel, and we are well to be rid of it and anything that in the least smacks of it.

Super 8 or a parishioner's or pastor's spare bedroom are just fine. Or e-mail. Or this thing they've got now called video conferencing. Judas H Priest in a cappa magna.

Father Hollywood said...

Monastic life has overwhelmingly benefited the Church.

Over nearly two millennia, monks and nuns have run orphanages, schools, and seminaries. They laid the foundations of the modern university. They ran hospitals and places of refuge for travelers.

Many of the early church fathers were monastics, allowing them time and opportunity for study and reflection that is not possible as a parish pastor, husband, father, or keeper of a farm or shop.

Luther himself, as biased as he was about the abuses of the monasteries (mercenary Masses, etc.), would not have learned the Holy Scriptures had he remained in law school, or the copper mines like his father.

Monks and nuns copied Bibles, prayer books, and even secular classical literature from antiquity (Brother Dominic notwithstanding, there were no Xerox machines).

Monasteries made communion wafers, grew the grapes to make the wine, and made other things, such as beer. They farmed and fished and gave help to the poor.

Some people are indeed called to monastic life, and who are we to blaspheme God by maligning that vocation? St. Paul was himself a celibate. St. Francis (whom our confessions call a holy father) was a mendicant brother. St. Bernard of Clairvaux (whom our confessions likewise laud), whom we commemorate in our hymnal, was an abbot. He would not have had the nearly the amount of time and opportunity to contemplate, pray, reflect, and write theological treatises and hymns to the glory of God had he been a parish priest, shoe-maker, or stone cutter.

Why attack the vocation of a person called to serve the Lord's kingdom? Many of our hymns and greatest literary works were composed by monks and nuns.

And to this day, monasteries provide for a contemplative setting for spiritual retreat in a way that a Holiday Inn conference room, casino, or cruise ship (all of which have been used for retreats by Lutherans in this area) simply cannot.

And in some places around the world, we do still have Lutheran monasticism, though it is not surprising that in America, where entertainment, making money, sexuality, and entrepreneurship dominate the culture, becoming a simple, single, studious servant of the kingdom, devoted to work and prayer, should be so despised.

Although I was a married student, my own seminary experience, with the centrality of the chapel, with a rigorous routine of study, with opportunity for fellowship with a small community of brothers - was a great blessing. It was not monasticism, but it did embody some of the ideals of monastic life.

Again, I believe it is a pity that we have lost such a tradition in the US. Prof. Marquart often expressed a hope that we could somehow re-establish local Christian communities of people, married and single, living humbly and working together in service of the Lord's kingdom.

As far as I know, there is only one Lutheran monastery in the United States.

christl242 said...

As far as I know, there is only one Lutheran monastery in the United States.

Oh yes, Father Hollywood, here you go:

http://www.staugustineshouse.org/

I heard about it when I was a member of the ELCA. A careful reading of St. Augustine's website shows a rather eclectic, ELCA-like culture.

Of course, the ELCA has "bishops" too, and look where it got them.

It puzzles me that we need to identify with either Roman or Reformed structures. The catholic faith of the Lutheran Church has its own treasures.

I am also far more skeptical of the hagiography of the Roman church having heard it for ten years. Some of the claims made on behalf of Roman saints are beyond belief and keep people in a constant state of expectation for this vision and that apparition while remaining utterly illiterate of the Scriptures and what they have to say about Christ.

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

I've never been to SAH, but I know men who have been there, and it has greatly benefited them spiritually - more so than a "pastor's cruise" - at least as far as these guys say so.

The resident monk at SAH is an ELCA pastor - so that would explain a lot of things, I would think.

I'm not exactly sure your point when you say: "It puzzles me that we need to identify with either Roman or Reformed structures. The catholic faith of the Lutheran Church has its own treasures."

Bishops are not a "Roman Catholic" structure. This was, rather, universal among Christians for some 15 centuries. In areas of the world other than Germany and the U.S., we do see a retention of bishops - simply a continuation of the church's polity. It has nothing to so with "a need to identify with either Roman or Reformed structures."

In fact, our system of "elders" (which is an unbiblical use of the term) overseeing pastors is a Reformed structure. The Presbyterian church has "teaching elders" and "ruling elders." We American Lutherans have largely blended this structure with American democracy.

The topic I was addressing was the fact that our lack of monasteries has created a void where our clergy and laity are forced to take retreats in either non-Lutheran monastic settings, or corporate-style Hilton (or Super 8) digs. I think this has not been helpful to us as a communion.

Monasteries are not "Roman Catholic." Monasticism is ancient, it spans East and West. You can even find a Protestant monastery in Taize. There are Anglican monks and nuns. We should not gainsay something just because Roman Catholics do those same things - for this is why many Lutherans will not cross themselves.

I hope we can move past the Romaphobia at some point, and be the catholic Christians we claim to be in our confessions.

christl242 said...

Bishops are not a "Roman Catholic" structure.

Oh they very much are as Rome understands them. The Catholic church copied a great deal from the Roman civil system as the Empire collapsed and was reborn in the State churches of Europe.

Monasteries existed in the pagan world long before they took root in Christianity. Buddhism and Hinduism are full of them.

In the ancient Christian world monks and priests attained a high level of prestige in a largely illiterate society. It is also no accident that Catholicism is so full of rules and regulations, Rome having developed an intricate legal system which was carried over into canon law. Tertullian, Cyprian and others were lawyers.

I, and many Lutherans, have always made the Sign of the Cross because it existed long before there was the "Roman Catholic Church."

Perhaps having lived under the State church system in Europe, having had a Catholic father, a lapsed Catholic husband who wouldn't touch the Catholic church now with a ten foot pole and Catholic in-laws who most of the time haven't got a clue has given me some pretty good insight. It ain't Romaphobia, it's just a realistic look from the inside out.

It is also a fact that monasteries were the occasion of scandal and corruption n the past and up to our day (let the reader understand).

When I was still Catholic I always chafed at the Catholic belief that living the "religious" life was somehow holier than being a husband or wife. Hiding out in a monastery is much, much easier than dealing with a real flesh and blood spouse and children.

There is absolutely no mandate in Scripture that compels Lutherans to adopt the Roman system. To be catholic does not necessarily mean to be Catholic.

Christine

christl242 said...

Bishops are not a "Roman Catholic" structure.

Oh they very much are as Rome understands them. The Catholic church copied a great deal from the Roman civil system as the Empire collapsed and was reborn in the State churches of Europe.

Monasteries existed in the pagan world long before they took root in Christianity. Buddhism and Hinduism are full of them.

In the ancient Christian world monks and priests attained a high level of prestige in a largely illiterate society. It is also no accident that Catholicism is so full of rules and regulations, Rome having developed an intricate legal system which was carried over into canon law. Tertullian, Cyprian and others were lawyers.

I, and many Lutherans, have always made the Sign of the Cross because it existed long before there was the "Roman Catholic Church."

Perhaps having lived under the State church system in Europe, having had a Catholic father, a lapsed Catholic husband who wouldn't touch the Catholic church now with a ten foot pole and Catholic in-laws who most of the time haven't got a clue has given me some pretty good insight. It ain't Romaphobia, it's just a realistic look from the inside out.

It is also a fact that monasteries were the occasion of scandal and corruption n the past and up to our day (let the reader understand).

When I was still Catholic I always chafed at the Catholic belief that living the "religious" life was somehow holier than being a husband or wife. Hiding out in a monastery is much, much easier than dealing with a real flesh and blood spouse and children.

There is absolutely no mandate in Scripture that compels Lutherans to adopt the Roman system. To be catholic does not necessarily mean to be Catholic.

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

Being governed by bishops is not a "Roman Catholic" system.

Bishops predated the Roman Catholic Church by centuries. Bishops are found in the East, the West, and among Lutherans and Anglicans. In fact, the Lutheran confessions, while not mandating an episcopal structure, express a "deep desire to maintain the church polity and various ranks of ecclesiastical hierarchy" (see Ap XIV:1 as well as this). It is our stated confessional preference.

Our problem is not with bishops (again, the preferred form of polity, according to the Lutheran confessions), but with the overextended claims of authority of the bishop of Rome and, by extension, the dogmatization of any political structure (which some American Lutherans are doing with congregational polity).

Indeed, church bodies that the LCMS shares communion with, such as Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Kenya, and Sudan all have episcopal polity. There is nothing "Roman Catholic" about these faithful confessional church bodies, and to suggest that they are somehow lesser Lutherans or "Roman Catholic" is a grave insult to our brothers and sisters around the world who labor in the Lord's vineyard under harsh conditions.

And since we're going to cite our Catholic relatives as credentials, I think I have you all beat: my wife is not only the wife of a Lutheran priest, she is the daughter of a former Roman Catholic nun! :-)

My wife's family lives in a country where taxes continue to support the Roman Catholic parochial school system. My folks were all Baptists (with an occasional Methodist thrown in) - if that's worth any street cred.

But the point is that having a bishop in a miter or carrying a crozier is not un-Lutheran in any way (see here for an LCMS example and here for an example from Russia.

I'm bothered by these things because we do not define ourselves as "not Roman Catholic." Rather, we are Evangelical Catholics.

Our Augsburg Confession is so bold to state that "there is nothing here [in our confession] that departs from the Scriptures or the catholic church or the church of Rome, in so far as the ancient church is known to us from its writers" (Augsburg Confession, Tappert p. 47) and "our churches dissent from the church catholic in no article of faith" (ibid, 48).

The Reformation had nothing to do with monasteries and bishops. These are both adiaphora and are matters of Christian liberty. The issues were the Gospel and justification, and by extension the source of the Church's authority to speak to these matters.

If a man or woman has a calling to serve the Lord as a celibate in a community of Christians devoted to work and prayer, who are we to gainsay that any more than we would do the same if a person is called to be a street sweeper, lawyer, repairman, mayor, parish pastor, stay at home mom, or doctor? Do we have nothing better to do than destroy the reputations of those who have such a calling?

Lord, have mercy!

christl242 said...

FH,

I am saying that the way the office of bishop developed in the Church of Rome had more in common with civil Roman culture than it did with the New Testament. That's where mitres, chasubles, etc. etc. came from, civil Roman practice. It had nothing to do with early Christianity. And we do remember that the NT says that the bishop is to be the husband of one wife?

I am European born and lived within the tensions and interchanges of a Catholic/Lutheran family on a daily basis. My father's side of the family was all Catholic and I still remember very clearly how my Catholic grandmother sent her priest to our house to badger my mother to convert else she, my sister and I would be headed straight for the flames. To this day I thank God she had the courage to stand firm and raise her daughters as Lutherans.

I know very well what it is to live in a culture where the state supports the churches; in Germany it is called the Kirchensteuer.

As for the Reformation having nothing to say about monasteries, I think Luther would disagree with you.

Perhaps the past ten years of seeing the religious orders capitulate to the signs of the times, women religious who agitate for ordination and monasteries that have been the source of some heavy scandal have given me a bit of a more jaded view of monastic life. Destroy reputations? They've done a pretty good job of that themselves. The goings-on at the Benedictine Abbey of St. John could alone fill volumes.

I got my view of the RC from the inside out, and I saw more than enough.

This is one area where we will probably never agree, so I'll leave it at that.

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

I appreciate your life experience, and I understand how it creates a bias - just as do all of our life experiences.

Nevertheless, unless you can find a prohibition *in Scripture or in the confessions* of a person leading a celibate life and living either in solitude or in a community to work and pray, it is a matter of Christian liberty. And it is most *un-Lutheran* to say such a thing is wrong or sinful. For that is to go beyond the Scriptures. The Bible, in fact, speaks of celibacy as a gift of God - not given to all, but for sure, given to some (as it was given to St. Paul).

And I thank God for what the myriads of monks and nuns have done for the church and the world through the ages. I think they have done (and continue to do) far more good than professional athletes, politicians, and rap stars - all professions lauded by the world. But that's just me.

And like Jesus, they are hated.

Like anything else in this fallen world, there are good and holy monks (Francis and Bernard are singled out in our confessions) and there are wicked monks. There are monasteries that serve the church with labor, prayer and good works, and there are monasteries that exist solely to say mercenary Masses.

I will not throw out the baby with the bathwater just because "The Catholics do it." Again, this is why many cradle Lutherans refuse (*refuse*) to cross themselves and consider it *un-Lutheran* to do so. Isn't that sad?

Ditto for bishops. Unless you can show me where having bishops is proscribed by the Bible or the confessions, I am not going to say having bishops is sinful or wrong. In fact, the Lutheran confessions express a *preference* for bishops. That's not my opinion, your opinion, or the pope's opinion, but rather what we confess in the Book of Concord.

So, I hope this clarifies what I am saying and what I am not saying. And as always, I respect your opinion and appreciate your joining in the discussion!

christl242 said...

Dear Father Hollywood,

I don't hate monks, nuns or anything of the like. I'm simply saying that as a former Catholic and revert to Lutheranism I had the opportunity to see both sides and the fruits that both produced.

In 1521, Martin Luther had published 'De votis monasticis' ('On the monastic vows'), a treatise which declared that the monastic life had no scriptural basis, was pointless and also actively immoral in that it was not compatible with the true spirit of Christianity. Luther also declared that monastic vows were meaningless and that no one should feel bound by them.

Celibacy was not widespread in the earliest centuries of the church until the time of the desert fathers who sought escape from corrupt Roman life.

To say that monks and nuns can fail like anyone else really does no justice to what has gone on in some monasteries. These are people who are supposedly living a "religious" life and the harm they did to innocent children, especially, is utterly heinous. Obviously the gift of celibacy doesn't come automatically with the "call."

Christine

Past Elder said...

Well, just as a technical point -- friars are not monks. Got my first taste of that when Sister Bibiana, my high school physics teacher, about lost it when someone called her a nun, explaining that Franciscan sisters are not nuns!

It's fine to mention the mentionable abuses like mercenary Masses, but I remember when I first read the 1520 essays it was like Luther was there in the room when I read him mentioning the "unmentionable" abuses -- I see no bias whatever in Luther's opinion of monkitude, just the reaction of someone who had been there.

And having been there myself, I am surprised Luther was as mild about it as he was.

I have a preference for bishops too, but the word "bishop" and funny hats and some completely non-Scriptural ideas about successions and ordinations have nothing to do with it.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

I also appreciate Luther's biases - often borne of anger and frustration.

But his 1521 treatise is not part of the Book of Concord. It is no more binding on Lutherans than his work "On the Jews and their Lies" in which he advocates burning down synagogues. Of Blessed Martin's writings, we are only bound to the Small and Large Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles. He is still a great and gifted doctor of the church, but he was not infallible.

We should also keep in mind that today, unlike in Luther's day, children are not forced into monasteries at young ages, nor are they prohibited by law (secular or canon) from leaving. Nor do Lutheran monks say mercenary Masses. Nor do Lutherans claim monastic life is holier than marriage. So, a lot of Luther's objections don't really apply to today, do they?

Interestingly, Loehe's original Lutheran deaconesses were celibate and lived in a mother house. And like modern-day nuns, they were free to leave the mother house at will, and even marry if they chose to do so. Do you think Loehe's deaconesses are subject to the same criticism as Luther's critique of monastic life?

And are you saying the typical monk or nun harms innocent children? I don't have statistics, but I would think child-molesting church workers of any stripe would be relatively few in number. Does this behavior typify monastic life?

Sadly, there are also Lutheran pastors who have harmed innocent children. I should hope you don't tar-brush me the same way you are tar-brushing the myriads of men and women living the religious life in the 20 centuries of the Church, and those who continue to do so to this day.

I suspect we all have ancestors who were cared for in Christian orphanages by tireless (and today nameless) brothers and sisters in religious orders.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear PE:

I don't really understand the "funny hats" comment. I know it's mockery, and how sad.

This is the kind of thing Protestants say about clerical collars, albs, and chasubles.

Of course ecclesiastical vestments look "funny." It's because these vestments are "holy." "Holy" means "other." It means unlike other things. Bishops don't vest in ballcaps and flip-flops because such attire is not holy.

To some, the liturgy looks "funny": grown people kneeling, a pastor dressed like a Roman senator, candles in this day and age, people who can't make up their mind whether to sit, stand, or kneel. It's all "funny" and subject to mockery from all sides.

I would rather see my bishop look like a churchman - "funny hat" and all - than the way they typically look - like they're on their way to a picnic or a sales meeting.

And for all the mockery, the confessions still say we have a "deep desire to maintain the church polity and various ranks of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, although they were created by human authority" (Ap XIV:1) and "Furthermore, we want at this point to declare our willingness to keep the ecclesiastical and canonical polity, provided that the bishops stop raging against our churches. This willingness will be our defense, both before God and among all nations, present and future, against the charge that we have undermined the authority of the bishops" (Ap XIV:5).

There is no objection in our confessions to the canons concerning bishops, their ordinations, or anything else - except their hostility to the Gospel.

In fact, this is why the Scandinavian churches continue to this day to have bishops ordained (consecrated) in apostolic succession, and they wear the "funny hats" you mock. There is nothing contrary to the Book of Concord in any of this, and in fact, it was the preference of the reformers.

And you will find no more loyal confessional Lutherans than you will in the Missionary Province of the Church of Sweden, whose bishop was ordained by Bishop Obare of Kenya (with whom we all share fellowship, by the way).

I would just as soon spit on my mother's grave than I would mock Bishop Obare or the pastors, and the lay men and women serving the Lord in the Missionary Province and other faithful Lutheran bodies that have retained bishops.

christl242 said...

Father Hollywood,

I know what the Confessions do and do not say. Luther's "anger and frustration" were perfectly understandable in the context of the sitution he found himself in.

Really, Americans haven't lived through what Europeans did when the church used the power of the state to enforce her laws. What you call my "bias" was lived by my great, great Lutheran grandparents who were told by the Archbishop of Salzburg to convert or leave. And he had the power to literally kick them out. Their faith meant more to them than their wordly estate and they left.

Rome was never able to do that in the U.S. with its strong separation of church and state.

The Confessions were also formulated in an environment that recognized that the new Lutheran churches were still state churches too. Walther wisely saw that in the new world a different polity might be needed after "bishop" Stephan disgraced himself. He recognized that the political paradigms of the European model might not serve the Lutheran church here.

As for the "statistics" on monks and nuns, the information is out there for anyone to find.

I also agree that bishops as they are defined in the NT bear little resemblance to the office as it played out in Rome and Byzantium, where power, privilege and status became just as important as in the secular world, though Jesus said "it will not be so among you."

Christine

christl242 said...

And also, very sadly, neither apostolic succession nor bishops have sustained the Church of Sweden which is also unfortunately entangled with the State.

There's no getting around it that Christianity is in survival mode in Sweden. The collapse of once staunchly Roman Catholic Quebec is also unfortunate.

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

Maybe you could help me with that statistic. My Google-Fu is weak.

What percentage of monks and nuns are abusive to children? You said "the information is out there for anyone to find." Please help! I remember hearing tales of tunnels connecting monasteries and convents, pregnant nuns, and dead babies (and I think even something about drinking their blood), but I've always discounted such stories as mythical.

But closer to home, what is little reported in the LCMS is that there are two sides to the Bishop Stephan story, that Walther and company broke the confessional seal in gathering their "evidence", that Stephan denied wrongdoing and actually continued to serve a Lutheran parish in Red Bud, Illinois (a historic LCMS parish) the rest of his life, and was a beloved pastor there and was never accused of any wrong-doing there. The latter fact is interesting, considering the rate of recidivism among perverts.

The now sainted Pastor Stephen Wiest delivered a paper on this topic that is available from the Concordia Catechetical Academy. I think it is important to hear both sides of the story. That kind of objectivity is hard in the LCMS when it involves CFW Walther.

Regardless, even if the accusations against Stephan were true (and I'm not convinced), this does not dogmatize democratic polity. Our faithful brethren in Africa, Russia, and Scandinavia do not have such polity, and instead have retained the confessions-preferred historical episcopal polity. And Walther himself sang the praises of episcopal polity (!), and never claimed that voters and congregationalism is the only truly Lutheran way to order our church.

We can all have our preferences, but to dogmatize one form of polity over the other is precisely the kind of thing we complained against the pope about.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

Christianity is in survival mode in the entire west - the United States included.

The decline of the Church is not caused by monasteries and bishops.

In fact, the Church is growing in Africa - where the Lutherans actually have bishops - though I do not assign a cause/effect relationship there.

Our faithful brethren in the Missionary Province (who have retained episcopal polity) are arguably the bravest Lutherans on the planet. Their devotion puts us Americans to shame.

christl242 said...

Father Hollywood,

Yes, I agree the decline of the church is not due in and of itself because of the monasteries but it is because the institution was emphasized over the Word of God that so many found it easy to bail out of the RC when the "immutable" liturgy and institutional identity changed at Vatican II.

I wouldn't put too much stock in what's going on in Africa just yet. There's a great deal of syncretism mixed in with that Catholicism.

When I was still Catholic John Paul II was pope and he lamented at how many unevangelized Catholics were still in the church.

Verbum domini manet in aeternum. Not bishops, not ecclesiastical trappings but the Living Word which never returns empty. If the church dies out in one place the Gpd through the Word will raise it up in another. There's no guarantee for any individual body, including the RC.

If my husband, who attended Catholic schools all his life had learned that he might still be a practicing Christian.

Christine

The Lutheran Reformation got it right.

christl242 said...

If the church dies out in one place the Gpd through the Word will

Sorry, should be "God through the Word"

Christine

christl242 said...

Please help! I remember hearing tales of tunnels connecting monasteries and convents, pregnant nuns, and dead babies (and I think even something about drinking their blood), but I've always discounted such stories as mythical.

Oh, and they didn't tell you the one about the guns that were kept in the RC rectories in readiness for the uprising that would happen when Protestants were to attack the Catholics? :)

Of COURSE those stories were mythical.

Have you read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt? I am no fan of the National Catholic Reporter but if you google St. John's Abbey you'll come up with a whole lot of sad stuff about what happened there. And that's only one place. You'll also find the articles about nuns and sisters in Africa that have been molested by priests there.

And there's more.

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

"I wouldn't put too much stock in what's going on in Africa just yet. There's a great deal of syncretism mixed in with that Catholicism."

Actually, I was referring to the Lutherans. I had two classmates in my Fall Greek class (out of some 25) who were African. Today, they serve many parishes in Rwanda and Kenya. There is a growing national Lutheran Church in Sudan - in spite of the deadly Muslim attacks from the north. And, there are actually more Lutherans in Madagascar than there are in North America!

There are also a lot of conversions from Islam to Christianity happening in Africa - so much so that the imams are greatly alarmed.

African Christians tend to be more conservative and traditional overall. The African Anglicans are overwhelmingly against the radical agenda of the American and European Anglicans. Even the Lutherans in Africa retain the traditional Episcopal office and continue to sing the traditional Mass in four parts as it was taught to them by Scandinavian missionaries.

But then again, Africans were worshiping the Most Holy Trinity while our ancestors were praying to trees.

Hopefully, the African Christians will eventually evangelize Pagan America the same way that Bishop Obare saved Swedish Lutheranism.

Past Elder said...

What a drag; I have a meeting on Tuesday nights and I missed all the action in the ring.

Bishop in reference to contemporary figures is completely meaningless. A number of church bodies have officers called bishops, but those church bodies agree on neither what nor who is a bishop.

That really is what I mean by "funny hats". We can have all the "bishops" we want, but in Rome's eyes they are not bishops at all, or even priests. Rome may be a little more polite about it these days, but that's the way it is.

So it gets down to not a matter of guys walking around in funny hats; you can dress up like a bishop all you want, but the other guys who dress up like bishops aren't impressed and don't see a brother bishop necessarily.

Sort of a grander scale of what I was taught as an RC: one should address Orthodox clergy as Father because they are priests as much as ours are, and one should also address Episcopal/Anglican clergy as Father, but as a mark of respect for their belief and their position but understanding they are not priests at all.

OTOH the East looks at the RCC and says re validity Yes, No and Can't Say, variously.

"Bishops" can't even settle what bishop is!

So other than in our own eyes we have retained nothing of the "historic episcopate" in those countries which have officers called bishops.

I would in no way either take away from the accomplishments of Lutheran leaders called bishops; my point would rather be, their accomplishments are due to their being overseers who adhere to confessional doctrine and practice, not a title and a funny hat. I'm very interested in overseers who adhere to confessional doctrine and practice but I could not care less what the office is called or the period costumes they may wear.

As for my alma mater, I recuse myself, as there would not be enough blogs to tell you about that.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear PE:

I don't know why you care what the RC Church says, or what their bishops think. Who cares if they recognize us?

It just doesn't matter to me.

You write:

"So it gets down to not a matter of guys walking around in funny hats; you can dress up like a bishop all you want, but the other guys who dress up like bishops aren't impressed and don't see a brother bishop necessarily."

Actually, the now sainted Lutheran pastor (Andrew Elisa) who served as the synodical president of the Lutheran Church of Sudan was consecrated a bishop precisely because in Africa, SP was a meaningless bureaucratic designation, whereas African Christians understand what a bishop is, and respect that office.

I mean, if we're going to do things based on whether or not Rome recognizes it, we would not ordain ministers, celebrate Mass, or hear confessions and absolve. We would not preach or even conduct weddings. Again, why should I care what they say? Only Romanizers are concerned about such things. I have no doubts about the validity of my orders and sacraments I officiate at.

I prefer the historic ecclesiastical nomenclature and the traditional vesture because it is churchly. You can look at Andrew Elisa in a miter and carrying his crosier and surmise that he is a bishop, he is one of Jesus's men, an "over-seer" in some form of a historic communion - whether recognized by the pope or not.

But you put "Synod President Andrew" in a seersucker suit and tie, or maybe a polo shirt and khakis, and he might well be confused with the local bank teller, Thrivant saleman, or the night manager at Blimpie.

If we're going to claim that we are a historic Christian communion sharing in the fullness of catholicity, why not look, act, and speak the part.

The local emergent pastor who trims his eyebrows, has a pierced tongue, and refers to everything as "off the chain, man" may well be a legitimate pastor. But if I'm on a hospital bed and I see someone like that coming at me, I'm gonna hit him where it counts with the bedpan and mash the "call nurse" button. Hopefully, she will come around in 20 minutes or less, or the green jello will be free.

Great heroes of the faith like Bishop Bo Giertz would be terribly puzzled by all of this folderol. He'd say we're nuts. In his Lutheranism, they never knew about not having bishops. Nobody there spoke of "funny hats" because that's what has always been done - since, and before, the Reformation. And in spite of all the skepticism and mockery, Bo Giertz was indeed part of a historic chain of bishops - even as all Lutheran pastors have apostolic succession through their presbyterial orders (Piepkorn's work on this is a must read!) - unless, of course, Lutherans are like some Protestant groups and simply declare themselves to be ordained. I have yet to meet one of those kinds of Lutherans - even in the United States of Walther.

christl242 said...

Actually, I was referring to the Lutherans. I had two classmates in my Fall Greek class (out of some 25) who were African. Today, they serve many parishes in Rwanda and Kenya. There is a growing national Lutheran Church in Sudan - in spite of the deadly Muslim attacks from the north. And, there are actually more Lutherans in Madagascar than there are in North America!

There are also a lot of conversions from Islam to Christianity happening in Africa - so much so that the imams are greatly alarmed.


Father Hollywood, in that context I could not be more delighted.

As long as Lutherans, whether in Africa or anywhere else, are firmly rooted in Word and Sacrament we will continue to thrive.

It is no secret that in Africa and Latin America the Catholic church has had little success in eliminating the animism that is mixed in with Christianity. A while back the bishops of South Africa proposed that Catholics be permitted to offer the traditional "blood" libation in honor of the "ancestors" that animistic Africans had traditionally practiced. Inculturation, ya know. And Latin America? Lord have mercy, Santeria is alive and well as it is in Cuba, Florida and, I'm sure, parts of Louisiana.

And let it not be thought this is practiced only by illiterate peasants, that is hardly the case.

There is common ground between Catholicism and Lutheranism and where it exists I rejoice and my criticisms are not aimed at individual Catholics but the institution and who it understands herself in the service of Christ.

Bishops, monks, and all the rest have not prevented the errors that continue to infest Rome. When a church claims to be the fullness of the teaching of Jesus Christ she has a solemn responsibility to live up to that claim.

Nor do I discount that abuse happens in all denominations, but the clergy sex scandal in the RC was the last straw for my husband. He's a retired police office and well understands the human condition but the way so many bishops handled it, moving pedophile priests from parish to parish was the last straw.

I'm sure you've seen the latest sorry event in Canada, where an RC bishop was apprehended at the airport and child porn was found on his laptop. Another Catholic cleric had the nerve to suggest that sometimes maybe its the children who seduce the clergy.

As Chrysostom said, the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.

Nor have the monasteries been free of this sorry, sordid kind of behavior. The links I am posting here put forth information that has been made public for quite some time, and there’s plenty more out there. I had heard rumors while I was still Catholic and then it all came out. Lest anyone think this is entirely the “fruit of Vatican II” some of the abuse in other places goes back decades.

http://www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/archives/121302/121302h.htm

http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200205/15_postt_abbey-m/



Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

"Bishops, monks, and all the rest have not prevented the errors that continue to infest Rome. When a church claims to be the fullness of the teaching of Jesus Christ she has a solemn responsibility to live up to that claim."

Very true.

And the same can be said of us: a lack of bishops and monks and the doctrine of justification have not prevented errors that continue to infest us: lay "preaching" and "celebration;" Ablaze!(tm); skits, clowns, and dancing girls in the "liturgy;" an outright rejection of the liturgy, confusion over the role of the sexes in the church, etc. for "When a church claims to be the" true visible church on earth, "she has a solemn responsibility to live up to that claim."

And so it goes.

"As Chrysostom said, the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops."

I'm familiar with the quote as being "priests' skulls" - but it amounts to the same thing. And remember, St. John was indeed both a priest and a bishop. I don;t believe his quote was intended to gainsay bishops or create a New Church Order with "ruling elders," a supreme voters' assembly, or a convention and Robert's Rules of Order.

Whether in an episcopal or congregational system, whether clergy or lay - the problem is sin. It is a dangerous game to point the finger at the Roman Catholic Church when we're talking about sexual scandals as if there are no skeletons in our own closet. There seems to be an impression that since we lack celibate clergy, we do not have the same issues. That's just not true.

As always, we sinners ought to look to ourselves first when casting stones.

Past Elder said...

It isn't that I care what Rome thinks, nor was the reference only to Rome. The point in mentioning them is this: apostolic succession, as a protector, defender, and guarantor of the true faith, has not even been able to protect, defend and guarantee agreement as to what apostolic succession even is, nor who has it, let alone the true faith. Unless one accepts one of the competing claims about it, just like everything else.

Rome says they have it and so do the EO. The EO says they have it but as to Rome, some say Yes, some say No, and some say Maybe, because while the EO qualifies wrt to Rome's idea of what apostolic succession is, Rome may or may not qualify by the EO idea of apostolic succession.

The Anglican Communion says they have it, Rome says they don't, and once again the EO say various things depending on who and when you asked.

The ELCA says they now have it after the Called To Common Mission through the Anglican Communion. Some Lutheran and Anglican bodies say each other has it in the Porvoo Communion -- none of which churches have maintained other traditional doctrine despite their "bishops" in apostolic succession.

Not to mention the Prussian Union. It was Lutheran bishops from whom we fled Germany, not Roman ones.

That's my point -- apostolic succession has failed to conserve, protect and defend the true faith or even a consistent idea of apostolic succession itself, which is like the other doctrines variously understood and the individual soul decides for himself on the basis of Scripture, history, the Fathers, or whatever, but not because there is any unified witness coming from a church led by successors to the Apostles.

Looking, acting and speaking the part doesn't cut it among the rest of them attempting to look, act and speak the part.

I have enormous respect for Bo Giertz -- for what and how he teaches, not because he carries a title which hardly saved his church from becoming liberal as all hell.

As to deathbed experiences, here's one for you. When my dad lay dying, a Catholic physician in a Catholic hospital where he worked for decades, and I might add where his son served 0600 conventual Mass for years, the Catholic hospital sent clergy in clerical garb -- an ELCA woman. I asked for Lutheran, specifically WELS (at that time), clergy and a guy showed up in shirt and pants. The collar didn't mean crap; didn't make her a priest to him or a Lutheran minister to me.

Luckily he was in a coma and didn't know; I however was not in a coma and, though you may find this hard to believe knowing my altogether irenic and pacific nature on such things, shall we say engaged the collar-wearer, though not with a bedpan.

What I care about is having overseers who oversee according to the faith we confess in the Confessions as a true statement of Scripture; whether we call them bishops and give them pointy hats to wear I could not care less.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear PE:

Did I say apostolic succession through bishops is some kind of "protector, defender, and guarantor of the true faith"?

Several people are taking up this argument with me. There must be an impostor out there posing to be me saying such things. I hope he doesn't have my Social Security number!

In fact, I'll bet you cannot find a single Lutheran - not even a mitered Lutheran bishop in apostolic succession - who says any such thing.

The point that I am making is twofold, and comes from our confessions:

1) polity is an adiaphoron. Scripture uses the words overseer (bishop), elder (presbyter, priest), minister, and pastor to describe the work of the office of the holy ministry.

2) The preferred (though not mandated) polity among Lutherans is the historic episcopate that was in existence at the time of the Reformation, and continued uninterrupted in Scandinavia.

Though apostolic succession in the narrow sense (through the laying on of hands by a bishop) is not a "protector, defender, and guarantor of the true faith," neither is it worthless.

We confess the church to be "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" - and when we deviate from historic ecclesiastical nomenclature, forms of address, architecture, liturgy, hymnody, vestments, ceremonies, etc. - we do harm to the confession that we are "one" (because of our desire to be sectarian and different), "holy" (because we wish to blend in with the world and the sectarian Protestant tradition), "catholic" (because we are seeking to distance ourselves from the church's universal tradition in favor of something novel), and "apostolic" (because we scoff at the notion that ordinations do indeed all lead, not to Rome, but to the apostles.

Some Lutherans bitterly denounce that RC bishops are in aposotolic succession, arguing that this can't be proven and that it can't be validated. But at the same time, we are all descended from Noah and from Adam, aren't we? I can't prove it using Family Tree Maker. I don't have birth and census records to back that up.

But we know how pastors (bishops) are made. They are ordained at the hands of previously ordained pastors (bishops). They do not fall out of the sky.

So in mocking the RCC's "episcopal" succession as a myth, we're also mocking our own "presbyterial" succession as a myth. And in so doing, we might as well mock the Bride of Christ herself as a myth, and our own descent from Adam and Noah while we're at it. I may not have a chart to prove it, but it indeed does matter that I confess to be a literal descendant of Noah and of Adam.

Again, the confessions prefer episcopal polity. I'm bound to those confessions. They allow for other forms of government - as it isn't a matter bound by Scripture. But we certainly do not allow men to ordain themselves like Robert Duvall in *The Apostle*. Ironically, considering the film's title, such a view of the office of the holy ministry is decidedly non-apostolic.

christl242 said...

Whether in an episcopal or congregational system, whether clergy or lay - the problem is sin. It is a dangerous game to point the finger at the Roman Catholic Church when we're talking about sexual scandals as if there are no skeletons in our own closet. There seems to be an impression that since we lack celibate clergy, we do not have the same issues. That's just not true.

As always, we sinners ought to look to ourselves first when casting stones.


Of course we are all sinners. But Lutherans haven't institutionalized a system that at its core is inimical to the Gospel and is the breeding ground for what has happened in the RC. For Roman Catholics it is not just a matter of an "episcopal or congregational system", apostolic succession is of the essence of what the RC is.

If ecclesiastical practices edify and support the good news of God's grace in Jesus Christ, by faith alone and through His merit alone, under the authority of Scripture I have no problem with them.

No one has been harder on the RC due to the scandals than Catholics themselves who recognize that something is terribly wrong with the system. They feel utterly betrayed and the widespread nature of the abuse scandals has caused many to not only walk away from the RC but lose their faith. I saw yesterday that yet another diocese has gone bankrupt. Alaska will probably be next.

The damage inflicted on innocent children is a far more serious matter than whether or not we have "presiding elders" and such.


Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

"Of course we are all sinners. But Lutherans haven't institutionalized a system that at its core is inimical to the Gospel and is the breeding ground for what has happened in the RC."

Actually, we have. It's called "original sin."

I disagree that if Catholics all became Lutherans, and if they ditched their system of polity that there would be even one less sin committed.

Nor do I believe there is more child molestation among Lutherans who have bishops (and even monks and nuns) vs. those who have district presidents and LWMLs.

christl242 said...

I disagree that if Catholics all became Lutherans, and if they ditched their system of polity that there would be even one less sin committed.

Ah, but even as Rome understands herself there is "sin" and there is "sin" -- those that cry out to heaven surely include what was fostered upon trusting children and young men who sought a spiritual way of life as monastics. You really have no idea of what went on at St. John's and in so many dioceses. It can't be fixed with ten Hail Mary's and three Our Fathers.

I am not looking for Roman Catholics to become Lutheran. Should Rome someday return to the authentic catholic and evangelical practice of the early church, stop the abominable practice of the "Sacrifice of the Mass" on behalf of the living and the dead, allow her clergy to marry and stop the hypocrisy of annulments, get rid of purgatory and other practices inimical to the New Testament, among other things, perhaps we can once again find mutual ground.

Meantime, perhaps you can do some further research on your own as to the statistics in the Lutheran Church and Rome.

I regret that I wasted ten years in the Roman church, but am grateful to have seen what I saw with my own eyes.

Christine

Past Elder said...

Flying Judas Priest at consistory:

In the "historic episcopate" at the time of the Reformation and centuries leading up to it, the historic episcopate was ANYTHING BUT an adiaphoron, a matter of polity, or even a preferred polity.

It is an essential, normative and constituent element established by Christ himself apart from which a church cannot be said to be truly a church at all -- ecclesial union being the current term for such entities -- since it denies and stands outside of something Christ himself provides to preserve, defend and guarantee the true faith and the visible community that holds it.

Our legitimacy depends entirely upon the historic episcopate's view of the historic episcopate being wrong. Therefore I see no gain in dressing up like and using the titles of those who, remembering the differences within that view noted earlier, say it is right and therefore essential, normative and from Christ himself.

christl242 said...

One further thought -- the reason the scandals played out so long in the RC is very much related to the Roman system whereby the hierarchy is not accountable to the laity. The bishop in his diocese is the head of a corporation sole. In theory this is meant to protect individual parishes from lawsuits, etc., but in practice it gives the bishop powers to overrule requests of the laity. How many bishops, knowing what was going on, would have come forward had some of the victims of the abuse not gone public? If you want to read a really sorry spectacle check out what's going on in that regard with Cardinal Mahony in L.A., who has been dodging subpoenas and whatnot as fast as he can.

Or check out the really sorry spectacle of Bishop Tod Brown of Orange, a true "Spirit of Vatican II" liberal who publicly shamed a woman who wanted to genuflect before receiving Holy Communion.

Is this really what the Lord meant when he said that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, but it shall not be so among you?

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear PE:

You write:

"Therefore I see no gain in dressing up like and using the titles of those who, remembering the differences within that view noted earlier, say it is right and therefore essential, normative and from Christ himself."

A great argument to abolish clerical collars, vestments, candles, the sign of the cross, and kneelers. And such arguments have, and are, being made.

The Lutheran confessions, however, make no such argument. In fact, the Lutheran confessions continue to use titles that make Protestants squirm.

As for me, I see no gain in playing the iconoclast, of ridding ourselves of chasubles and miters, of stoles and crosiers, of taking the tack of Carlstadt and asking not to be called "Reverend" or "Father" but simply by the first name. Such things are not forbidden in Scripture, but that does not make them wise actions.

But my opinion is of less consequence than Ap XXIV:1 to which I'm sworn to uphold.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

You write:

"Meantime, perhaps you can do some further research on your own as to the statistics in the Lutheran Church and Rome."

Do you honestly think there is anything remotely Christian about making the argument: "Look at those people over there, they are worse sinners than us! Sure, we sin and all, but THOSE PEOPLE are REALLY BAD sinners"?

Maybe I'm a little less convinced that the Lutherans are more righteous than Catholics because I hear confessions from Lutherans.

I hope you didn't leave Rome and rejoin Augsburg because you think we're less sinful than the "tax collectors and sinners" of the Roman Church. If so, you're going to be disappointed.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear PE:

You write:

"In the "historic episcopate" at the time of the Reformation and centuries leading up to it, the historic episcopate was ANYTHING BUT an adiaphoron, a matter of polity, or even a preferred polity."

For the Lutherans "at the time of the reformation", it was indeed both an adiaphoron as well as the preference. I've already cited the passage from the Apology that is being ignored, so I see no reason to cite it again so it can be swept under the rug once more.

christl242 said...

Maybe I'm a little less convinced that the Lutherans are more righteous than Catholics because I hear confessions from Lutherans.

I hope you didn't leave Rome and rejoin Augsburg because you think we're less sinful than the "tax collectors and sinners" of the Roman Church. If so, you're going to be disappointed.


Sigh. I'll try this one last time and then I think I'm going to give it a rest because we are not connecting.

It's not about who is a sinner and who is not. It's about two different ways of understanding the Gospel and how that has played out in the RC and the churches of Lutheran Reformation.

The Roman system is far from what the New Testament views the church to be and because of that the scandals were able to play out to the extent that they did.

my main motivation for becoming Catholic was twofold. Thanks to the adoption of much of the Vatican II liturgy by the ELCA when I left that body it seemed entirely easy to go to Rome until the ELCA, bishops and all, began to crash and burn. I had forgotten much of my early exposure to the LCMS when I was a kid.

My second, and more important motivation, was my husband. We have been married for 32 years and I became concerned for his spiritual welfare. Because he had divorced and remarried he needed an annulment to return to the RC. I thought with that out of the way he would return. Knowing what I know now that would be the last thing I would encourage him to do.

Like many Catholics Catholicism is all he knew and in his mind since Catholicism collapsed even further at Vatican II he felt no necessity of investigating any other church. He is in good company. Catholics wryly say that the 15 million or so Catholics in the U.S. who no longer attend Mass or involve themselves with the RC are the second largest denomination in the U.S.

I thought if I held out a while he would change his mind. I wasn't listening when he told me that he had no intention of returning. I now know that I can pray for him and be faithful in my own witness to Christ but in the end he must take responsibility for himself.

Eventually my Lutheran upbringing kicked in and I began to remember why I was Lutheran in the first place and could not in good conscience remain Catholic.

For the Lutherans "at the time of the reformation", it was indeed both an adiaphoron as well as the preference.

Which "preference" doesn't make a whit of difference in Rome's eyes. According to Rome, priests don't ordain priests, period, and Lutherans are not authentically the church nor does wearing a Roman collar or chasuble make us one.

Walther still remains one of my spiritual heroes.

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

I guess I have a different perspective because I came to the Lutheran Church not to escape anything, but because I read the Augsburg Confession and found it to be true.

My conversion had nothing to do with pedophile pastors or funny hats or any other stereotype. I came to Lutheranism precisely because it is Catholic, not because it isn't.

christl242 said...

I will always agree that the Lutheran church is catholic. My faithful Lutheran forbears would never have called her "Catholic" and I am grateful for their steadfast loyalty to the Church of the Augsburg Confession.

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

You write:

"My faithful Lutheran forbears would never have called her "Catholic" and I am grateful for their steadfast loyalty to the Church of the Augsburg Confession."

Actually, they did.

The 1921 edition of the Lutheran Confessions published by Concordia Publishing House (Concordia Triglotta) that was used until the Tappert edition came out used the word "Catholic" with a capital "C."

That is actually my preferred translation of the Book of Concord - though weighing something between a bowling ball and an anvil, it is hard to tote around. ;-)

Past Elder said...

Jumping Judas at the Bean Party.

(For those unfamiliar with the churchy slang reference "bean party", an explanation will have to wait, as I loathe cluttering up comboxes with parenthetical comments.)

I also apologise for my tardy response, however, I had to observe the canonical hour of Sext, according to the revised breviary where it is known as Lunch.

You, I, and our Lutheran fathers may agree that an episcopate is an adiaphoron and a preferred polity, however this is a radical departure from anything like what the episcopate of anybody held re the episcopate, evidencing to nobody any continuity with anything.

It's fine with me if we want to start calling our overseers bishops; hell, put a special chair in their sanctuaries called a cathedra, call their churches cathedrals, give 'em all pointy hats to wear, make an extra special one for Kieschnick with a big Ablaze! thingy embroidered on it and put it on his punkin head at Houston 2010.

Doesn't change bupkis. Far from sweeping the AC under the bloody rug, here's something us that doesn't even make it out from under there to be swept back in.

Here in Omaha for example we got all kinds of bishops -- a Catholic one, an Episcopal one (their mansions are right next to each other, silver and gold have I none indeed) coupla storefront ones, on and on. We can add a Lutheran one no problem.

Not so in the Reformation. Bishop isn't something you just set up according to your beliefs; it is also a state office and, so zu sagen, there can be only one. So the argument isn't theoretical/theological only, it impacts on who will occupy an office of state and there ain't agonna be more than one, and if the wrong guy gets it you don't set up another with a mansion right next to his.

And that is the situation, even when is supposedly Lutheran hands, from which our four bears (pun, joke) ran. In coming here, they did not in the least capitulate to or abandon the Confessions for American democracy, but rather saw that with no state church and state officers thereof here, we may establish our overseers etc here without reference to the civil trappings of the old country.

Our problem is not that we don't have bishops. We don't by that name, but we do have what some might call bishops, namely overseers, and the problem is not that they don't have the titles and hats of European or Byzantine derivation, but that they don't oversee in fidelity to the office described in Scripture, confessed in the confessions, and established in our original synodical constitution.

christl242 said...

The 1921 edition of the Lutheran Confessions published by Concordia Publishing House (Concordia Triglotta) that was used until the Tappert edition came out used the word "Catholic" with a capital "C."

My German Lutheran family didn't use the Concordia Triglotta, Father Hollywood :)

The Lutheran culture of my mother's youth was a bit different than that here, understandable since the Reformation took place on German soil. They never identified with the "high church", for lack of a better word, Lutheranism of Scandinavia.

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

My ancestors were all Baptists. Nonetheless, I consider American Lutherans my forebears in the faith. I kinda thought you did too.

The Reformation did not only happen on German soil. In fact, the Reformation in Scandinavia was more in line with what the reformers hoped for.

For a long time, the German reformers would not even conduct any ordinations, holding out for a bishop to join the reformation in Germany.

But bishops in Scandinavia did join the Reformation.

The Reformation also happened on Scandinavian soil - and spread throughout the world. We are a Catholic Church, not a German Church.

christl242 said...

Oh, here we go again. The "German" thing. We're not a "German" church. Yeah, that's right. But nothing happens in a vacuum. Almost makes me wanna go back to my Polish Catholic parish where they used to have Polka masses and pierogi. Catholics know how to appreciate ethnicity :)

I should have clarified that although I AM an American citizen I'm not even first-generation. My family immigrated in toto from Europe so I technically don't "have" any American Lutheran forbears. My people were Lutheran before America was even born.

Now, as to the German thing, what American Lutherans don't understand is that Luther was not only seen as a liberator from Rome but he was a hero of sorts to the German people, first of all because he wrote a common Bible for them using a common German dialect and brought the religious education to the populace that was so sorely lacking at the time.

Yes, he could be quite earthy but I love him for it. He literally told Rome to kiss off.

You will also note that we continue to say "Holy Christian Church" in the LCMS.

I am fully aware of how the Reformation played out in Scandinavia. Gustavus Adolphus, the "Lion of the North" is legendary in my native Bavaria.

The Continental Reformation, of course, had no idea as to what lay ahead for Lutherans in the New World.

Walther wisely saw that what worked “in the old country” was not necessarily going to work here. That rascally ‘ole German knew what he was doing. Since, as you have pointed out so well, the Lutheran Reformers saw the historic episcopate (and to be historic it had to be as Past Elder described it) as adiaphora he felt free to discard it for the greater good of the nascent Lutheran communities.

Now, I’m going to have to work real, real hard to get that image of Kieschnick with his pointy hat with the Ablaze thingy on it out of my head!


Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

You write:

"You will also note that we continue to say "Holy Christian Church" in the LCMS."

Interesting that you should bring that up. That is a Roman Catholic thing. A century before Luther, German Roman Catholics translated the Creed into German. Since German lacked a term to translate "catholicum" - they went with a less-than-accurate rendering as "Christliche." The Lutherans just continued with that translation.

Some people assume that "Luther changed the creeds since he started a new church." How sad that people think such things!

So, that mistranslation is indeed a holdover from papism that still infects the LCMS owing to its "Germanness." Some congregations make use of the footnote and actually say the more proper "catholic" instead of "Christian."

The Swedes say "allmanlig" - which literally means "all-manly" (which captures the universality of the word "catholic").

Interestingly, Methodists and Presbyterians all use the word "catholic." Among English speaking Christians, our translation of the word is rather sectarian (ironic, since that is the very opposite of what we are confessing in the Creed!).

The LCMS continues to be a Germano-centric church body. Just check out the commemorations in your LSB. You will not find Blessed Gustavus, nor the Petri brothers, nor any Scandinavian saints. I know an LCMS pastor who submitted a list of non-German Lutheran saints for commemoration. Not a *single one* was included in the LSB.

In some places, the LCMS rivals the Orthodox Church in its ethnicolatry. Fortunately, here in New Orleans, I have more people with names that end in -eaux than in -schmidt. I think it provides a healthier balance that we are not a "German Church" in spite of the fact that we were founded by German immigrants in the 1870s.

christl242 said...

Interesting that you should bring that up. That is a Roman Catholic thing. A century before Luther, German Roman Catholics translated the Creed into German. Since German lacked a term to translate "catholicum" - they went with a less-than-accurate rendering as "Christliche." The Lutherans just continued with that translation.

Oh Father Hollywood, puhleeze!! My Catholic father regularly confessed his faith in "EINE, HEILIGE, KATHOLISCHE UND APOSTOLISCHE KIRCHE" -- Luther knew perfectly well what die Katholische Kirche is as opposed to die Christliche Kirche. The man knew his Latin, for God's sake!

By the way, in every single Catholic parish I worshipped in the missalettes used the word "catholic" with a small c in the Nicene Creed, same as the ELCA congregation down the street.

The LCMS continues to be a Germano-centric church body. Just check out the commemorations in your LSB. You will not find Blessed Gustavus, nor the Petri brothers, nor any Scandinavian saints. I know an LCMS pastor who submitted a list of non-German Lutheran saints for commemoration. Not a *single one* was included in the LSB.

The LCMS continues to be a Germano-centric church body. Just check out the commemorations in your LSB. You will not find Blessed Gustavus, nor the Petri brothers, nor any Scandinavian saints. I know an LCMS pastor who submitted a list of non-German Lutheran saints for commemoration. Not a *single one* was included in the LSB.

Yep, you'll find them all in the calendars of the former LCA congregations that are now part of the ELCA, with female pastors with collars, and . . . oh, never mind.

You can always return to the Lutheran Book of Worship, it has 'em all!

You are aware of St. Olaf College, yes? They're good friends the guys at St. John's Abbey.

I am in no way denying the catholicity of the Lutheran church, in fact I rejoice in it.

But please don't ask me to apologize for the German elements within her.

Christine

christl242 said...

Interesting that you should bring that up. That is a Roman Catholic thing. A century before Luther, German Roman Catholics translated the Creed into German. Since German lacked a term to translate "catholicum" - they went with a less-than-accurate rendering as "Christliche." The Lutherans just continued with that translation.

Oh Father Hollywood, puhleeze!! My Catholic father regularly confessed his faith in "EINE, HEILIGE, KATHOLISCHE UND APOSTOLISCHE KIRCHE" -- Luther knew perfectly well what die Katholische Kirche is as opposed to die Christliche Kirche. The man knew his Latin, for God's sake!

By the way, in every single Catholic parish I worshipped in the missalettes used the word "catholic" with a small c in the Nicene Creed, same as the ELCA congregation down the street.

The LCMS continues to be a Germano-centric church body. Just check out the commemorations in your LSB. You will not find Blessed Gustavus, nor the Petri brothers, nor any Scandinavian saints. I know an LCMS pastor who submitted a list of non-German Lutheran saints for commemoration. Not a *single one* was included in the LSB.

The LCMS continues to be a Germano-centric church body. Just check out the commemorations in your LSB. You will not find Blessed Gustavus, nor the Petri brothers, nor any Scandinavian saints. I know an LCMS pastor who submitted a list of non-German Lutheran saints for commemoration. Not a *single one* was included in the LSB.

Yep, you'll find them all in the calendars of the former LCA congregations that are now part of the ELCA, with female pastors with collars, and . . . oh, never mind.

You can always return to the Lutheran Book of Worship, it has 'em all!

You are aware of St. Olaf College, yes? They're good friends the guys at St. John's Abbey.

I am in no way denying the catholicity of the Lutheran church, in fact I rejoice in it.

But please don't ask me to apologize for the German elements within her.

Christine

Dixie said...

Way off topic but since we have some expertise here I am interested in something. Is there a map showing the Lutheran distribution in Germany...compared to Roman Catholicism? My mother was from Bavaria and it seems to be to be predominantly Roman Catholic to me. We saw an Evangelishe church in Stuttgart but as my Allgäuer Onkel Ernst says "Stuttgart is not Bavaria." It would be interesting for me (having such deep German roots as well as a Lutheran husband) to learn where Lutheranism took hold in Germany, where it didn't and an analysis as to why.

In some places, the LCMS rivals the Orthodox Church in its ethnicolatry.

I had to snicker a bit at this. When we were in Iowa...it was so easy for me to be Lutheran...had nothing to do with theology but everything to do with having a German parent--ethnically I was in my element. When we moved to Georgia, similar situation as in NOLA. Not so many Germans. In fact, once I went to a convocation in Warner Robbins and the pre-service entertainment was a singer who cracked German jokes. The guy in front of me was Laotian and many in the crowd had Baptists and Methodists parents and grandparents and couldn't identify with any of the jokes.

Similarly...my Greek parish in a Georgia college town...not so Greek...but I have been to some elsewhere that definitely are.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

You write:

"Oh Father Hollywood, puhleeze!! My Catholic father regularly confessed his faith in "EINE, HEILIGE, KATHOLISCHE UND APOSTOLISCHE KIRCHE" -- Luther knew perfectly well what die Katholische Kirche is as opposed to die Christliche Kirche. The man knew his Latin, for God's sake!"

Sigh.

You know, Christine, before you become disrespectful and call me an idiot or a liar on my own blog, why not do your homework?

The word "Katholische" was not said in the creed by Roman Catholics prior to well past the Reformation. Unlike the Latin, the German language did not transliterate the Greek (kata holos) until much later. Your father did not live "a century before Luther" when the German Creed was first translated, which Luther retained because it was well-known by that time.

Luther did not redact or edit the creed (God forbid!) that had been confessed universally for 1,200 years! He routinely uses the word "catholic" in his writings - even as we routinely do in the Athanasian Creed, and as we do in the confessions. And you're right that he knew his Latin, as well as the Greek in which the Creed was composed. But in the common German language of his day, the Roman Catholic Church translated the word as "Christliche."

It's just a historical fact.

I'm really not making this up or lying. I don't know why this is an occasion for rudeness or the presumption that anyone who disagrees with you is a simpleton.

Goodness!

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Dixie:

Dr. Wenthe used to crack jokes about the "diversity" of our faculty because of Dr. Quill being part Norwegian.

It was good for a laugh every time.

The sad thing is, in Germany, one can hardly even find a Lutheran these days. Even the Church Luther is buried in is part of a church body that recently *repudiated* the Augsburg Confession.

These days, I think more Lutherans speak African languages than German.

But the Garrison Keillor (sp?) jokes just don't work in Swahili, I suppose. :-)

Past Elder said...

Dixie, I should probably let die Christine answer this, but I suggest plugging those terms into Wikipedia for your answers.

In brief, the main thing to remember is that Germany as we know it is a relatively recent phenomenon, prior to which for hundreds of years one finds all sorts of kingdoms etc themselves under various higher entities of varying powers, for example the Holy Roman Empire. So we must be careful not to imagine the events of the Reformation playing out in a political unit such as we know as Germany now.

For starters, Stuttgart is the capitol of Baden-Wuertemberg, which is not an historical entity but one of the 16 states dating from the Allied occupation of Germany after WWII that now make up the current Federal Republic of Germany.

Religiously, it is about 1/3 Lutheran, 1/3 Catholic and 1/3 Don't Give A Dam. It is just East of Bavaria, and the two of them form the Southern part of modern Germany. Bavaria is about half and half Catholic and Lutheran. Each area has quite distinct cultures, and cultures within that.

I myself am not a German at all -- I just play one at church -- except if you want to count my ancestors from Angeln in northern Germany (now part of Schleswig-Holstein, another of the 16 mosern states) who centuries ago moved to eastern England, Suffolk to be exact. However, I went to school at an abbey with roots all the way back to Abtei Metten in Bavaria, founded in 766 by the Benedictines who as everybody knows singlehandedly saved Western civilisation.

With money from King Ludwig a bunch of them came via Pennsylvania to serve Bavarians immigrating to Minnesota, so the German I speak is Bavarian German (or more exactly, there being more than one form of that, one type of Bavarian German) after over 100 years in Minnesota.

Put me in Stuttgart, or rather, when I was in Stuttgart, and I have to strain to understand much of anything if they're speaking local "German". Hell they're proud of it, there's a local slogan something like We Can Do Everything Except Speak Proper German. Which was one of the great things apart from the spiritual benefit of Luther's translation of the Bible: it established something like a standard written language which could be pretty well understood regardless of the dialect one spoke colloquially.

But I defer to die Christine on this since, as I say, I'm not a real German, I just play one at church.

Past Elder said...

Oh God bless me sideways, not only did I mispell Wuerttemberg, but now Gary (the "Garrison" is a later affectation) Keillor comes up, who used to walk past my room after finishing the Morning Program known as "A Prarie Home Entertainment" from 0600 to 0900. He grew up Plymouth Brethren in suburban Minneapolis, not exactly the stereotype that has made him a fortune, and is Episcopalian now -- hey at least they got bishops!!

christl242 said...

Father Hollywood,

My bad, twenty lashes with a string of uncooked Knockwurst for my outburst.

I sometimes do a very good job of confusing myself when I try to think in Catholic and Lutheran paradigms at the same time, it's the burden of growing up with both.

I most certainly do not see you as an idiot or liar and apologize. You were, of course, pointing out the Apostles Creed as it appears in the Book of Concord; I just read the German version again on the Internet. I was thinking of the Nicene Creed as it is currently recited in the RC, hence my father.

I also went back to my copy of the Large Catechism which reads in part, referencing the third article of the Apostles Creed as it speaks of the church:

"The word "church" (Kirche), then, simply means a congregation. It is a word of Greek origin, like the word "ecclesia." In that language it is "kyria," and in Latin "curia." In good German, our mother tongue, it should be translated "Eine Christliche Gemeinde or Sammlung," a Christian communion or congregation, or most appropriately and clearly, "Eine Heilige Christenheit," holy Christendom."

It is further stated: "To speak correct German, we should day "Eine Gemeinde der Heiligen," a communion made up only of saints or better still, "Eine Heilige Gemeinde," a holy communion. I make this explanation that the expression "Gemeinschaft der Heiliges" may be understood; it has become so estabished in usage that it cannot be uprooted and it would be next to heresy to alter a word."

Luther also points out that to the unlearned of his time the word "church" means not the assembled congregation but the consecrated building.

It is also quite true that Christianity in Germany has declined precipitously, in fact, that is true of most of Europe. It may well be that it will be renewed in Africa and Asia in the next decades.

Past Elder has succinctly and clearly stated the history and culture of Germany's various regions.

I will now put my tongue on house arrest for the rest of the evening:)

Past Elder said...

OMG Knackwurst!! A Bavarian mentions a Northern sausage. Knackwurst comes from Holstein, which is part of the modern state of Schleswig-Holstein and is the northernmost state in Germany but historically has been kicked around between the Saxons, the Prussians and the Danish, to name a few.

Learned that from my dad, who wasn't German either, he was Irish-American (I'm adopted) but got into science when most of the leading science was being done in Germany before Hitler kicked all the good scientists out, many of whom were Jewish, so he learned German, and right along with it a fondness for German sausages which he taught me to grill outside along with a lecture on the nature and origin of each.

I guess he didn't get the memo that there was something horribly forbidding and off-putting about things German if you're not German.

Schleswig-Holstein is another post WWII modern hybrid of formerly separate entities, is still half assed Danish, has a bunch of dialects and I can't understand much of any of them, and the whole place would have had a different history if us Angles hadn't taken off for England about 1500 years ago.

christl242 said...

Dixie, one more little footnote regarding Germany. Bavaria was historically predominantly Catholic but after WWII and the expulsion of the Eastern Germans many, like my East Prussian Lutheran grandparents and mother, came to Bavaria. There were cultural and religious differences to adjust to.

Christine

christl242 said...

Dang it, wish I could remember to post everything at one time. Also a historical footnote, because of the Roman influence in the more Southern parts of Germany Bavaria has always been more similar in culture to the Alpine areas of Europe than the north.

One can still see this demarcation today. Generally the Southern, Mediterranean and Eastern parts of Europe have remained Catholic (outside of Orthodox areas) while the northern ones have remained Protestant.

Christine

Father Hollywood said...

Also, Wilhelm Loehe , whose missionary endeavors were so formative to the LCMS, was a 19th century Lutheran pastor in Bavaria.

Past Elder said...

Too, Dixie, and any other interested parties, as a general rule the more South you get in what is now Germany the more Catholic ir gets, and the more North you get the more Lutheran it gets.

This has roots all the way back to the Roman Empire, which saw the Germanic people as a threat, were not able to assimilate them into the Empire completely, and settled for the boundaries of the Empire being the Rhine and the Danube.

Germania Magna, Greater Germany, as the Romans called it, east of the Rhine and north of the Danube, was not part of the Roman Empire and did not have Imperial officials called bishops established along with the Christian state church once it attained that status in the Empire.

This introduced a cultural divide evident to this day, and quite evident in the time of Luther some 1000 years after the Roman Empire in the West was long gone, where those in what was once the Empire, and therefore civilisation in their minds, regarded those outside it as quarrelsome barbarians at best. Luther often speaks of the disregard of the Germans by those in the former Roman lands, and generally the Lutheran Reformation took hold in the areas of post-Roman Germany outside of the Roman Empire and its church and not so much in the areas once inside.

Even in our time, at Vatican II, traditional Catholics observed the "changes in the church", which in the decades prior were largely formulated by German academics Protestant and Catholic alike, with the phrase "the Rhine has finally polluted the Tiber" -- ie, the barbarian Germans who never really got it because they were never really a part of it, while they didn't make it in the Reformation finally did sack Rome spiritually in the 1960s.

And as you can see this anti-German thing persists in the collective consciousness where it is taken as off-putting by many of those whose roots lie within the lands of the former Roman Empire.

Personally, it is my theory that the Reformation HAD to come from outside the former Roman Empire, because the state church that was part of its culture East and West was so entrenched.

The phenomenon to which die Christine refers is barely known here at all, yet is the largest population transfer, or ethnic cleansing to use another term, in modern history, involving some 20 million people, about 3/4 of them ethnic Germans living outside the lands being set up by the Allies as the Germany now. It is known as die Vertreibung, the Expulsion, in German, and permanently altered the nature of Germany and Eastern Europe

christl242 said...

Also, Wilhelm Loehe , whose missionary endeavors were so formative to the LCMS, was a 19th century Lutheran pastor in Bavaria.

Indeed, Father Hollywood. It is also most interesting to see the Lutheran Church Year Calendar of Loehe's time, which was very catholic in its inclusion of names from all times and places, not just Germany.

The expulsion that Past Elder describes was documented in a well-researched book, The German Expellees: Victims in War and Peace, by Alfred-Maurice De Zayas. A synopsis of the book states:

“During the latter months and immediate aftermath of WW II, some 15 million ethnic Germans in Central and Eastern Europe, caught between the Soviet armies to the east and the Allied armies to the west, were driven from their ancestral homelands and in many cases slaughtered by Red Army troops and Polish civilians seeking revenge for the brutality of Hitler's army. This relatively unknown holocaust claimed more than two million lives, even though, as the author makes clear, few of the victims had actually supported the Nazi regime. De Zayas ( Nemesis at Potsdam ), a lawyer, historian and human rights expert specializing in refugees and minorities, has uncovered testimony in German and American archives detailing these atrocities, adding a new chapter to the annals of human cruelty. His carefully documented book serves as a reminder that many different peoples have been subjected to "ethnic cleansing."

I do not in any way want to minimize the suffering of other ethnic groups under Hitler and Stalin, but as Past Elder points out the story of the German expellees has not been widely told.

Christine

Dixie said...

Too, Dixie, and any other interested parties, as a general rule the more South you get in what is now Germany the more Catholic it gets, and the more North you get the more Lutheran it gets.

That's what I had suspected. And I agree...there is a palpably different "feel" to German things outside of Bavaria. [For me--there is no place in the world (outside of the US) like Oberstaufen im Allgäu. Like a second home. Wo mag meine Heimat sein...] My heart melts every time I see a covered crucifix at the entrance of a berg with fresh flowers decorating it or on the outside of people's homes. I feel such a connection with that kind of expression of piety.

Actually, my mother was a refugee during WWII. She told AMAZING stories of survival. Originally her family was in Niesse, which is now Poland. At 14 she escaped from a boarding school just before the Russians invaded and she went to the only place she knew to go...her Uncle's hunting cabin in Bavaria. When she got here her mother and sister had arrived only days before. It was a miracle.

Sorry Father H for the diversion but thank you for allowing it. It brought back wonderful memories for me of my dear mother...may her memory be eternal.

christl242 said...

My heart melts every time I see a covered crucifix at the entrance of a berg with fresh flowers decorating it or on the outside of people's homes. I feel such a connection with that kind of expression of piety.

Dixie, I remember that well and the other descriptions you write. I'm sure my mother and yours have some very similar stories. It is also an inspiration to me how so many came through that nightmare with their faith intact, but then faith that is tested is often deepened. May perpetual light shine upon your mother in her rest.

My mom, unfortunately, now has advanced Alzheimers and can no longer share the cherished memories of her childhood with me.

Christine