March 2008


Looks like the powers that be in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) have really stepped in it by canceling a very popular radio show called “Issues, Etc.” I must say that I never had the pleasure of listening in, but it sounds like I was missing out. Vieth is all over it at Cranach. There is even a WSJ write up today.

There are conspiracy theories abounding about the reasons for the cancellation. On its face, the initial explanation does not look very sound. But, stupid stuff happens without maniacal schemes all the time.

We will see. It does not look like the critics of the decision and the fans of the show will be going away anytime soon. Good for them. 

BTW, you can sign the online petition to keep Issues, Etc. on the air here

Gene Veith’s blog Cranach links to an excellent article from Touchstone Magazine concerning the stripping of any frightening or scary parts of stories from children’s Bibles. The article is called Eaten Alive and it specifically explores the wrongs done to the story of Jonah in various Children’s Bibles.

I could not agree more and this hits on a real pet peeve of mine. With three kids, 5, 3, and 6 months, we are constantly showering them with books and stories. But, it is frustrating to see how dumbed down and ridiculous most of the books that pass for children’s literature today have become. This is especially true (and doubly infuriating) with Children’s Bibles.

You are hard pressed to find a children’s Bible that conveys any of the more frightening, violent, or sad parts of the Bible. Indeed, my 5 year old daughter received one as a gift that did not even have a crucifixion account in it (this version found its way to the trash can).

To combat this cultural poverty, we have made efforts to “work in” old fairy tales, classic myths, and some reproductions of some classic Children’s Bibles. I say “work in” because despite my efforts, my three year old still likes to read about the inane exploits of Dora the Explorer.

I am having more success with my five year old, for obvious reasons (she’s older). She greatly enjoys reading selections from Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book. This is an outstanding collection of classic fairy tales told as they were originally collected in the late 1800s. You can purchase the entire set of fairy books, but in my opinion, the blue is the best.

She loves the original version of Little Red Riding Hood. This is the one where the wolf eats everyone. There is no woodsman to rescue her and her grandmother from their fate. Of course, this is understandable given the point of the tale. Little Red Riding Hood thought she could trust a wolf. Silly girl.

Hansel & Gretel is also a favorite. It is little more graphic than you might remember and scary. My little ones love it!

So too, with Bible stories. The Touchstone article discusses Jonah. My gauge is how a Children’s Bible treats the story of Daniel, especially the end. At the conclusion of the story, as Daniel is pulled out of the Lion’s Den, the men responsible for putting him there are thrown into the Den with their families. We are told they did not touch the ground before they were torn apart. Pretty grim.

By now, I would probably be condemned by most soccer moms for exposing my children to such violence and frightening stories. My own view is that they are the ones running the risk. Without such exposure, their children will have no defense when the this world’s violence and frightening aspects confront them head on. It is an immunization of sorts against the really dark and sinister aspects of this world that wait to devour them.

These stories actually teach moral lessons and the difference between right and wrong. They need to know that there are things they really should fear in this world, and where they can seek refuge when they are confronted with it.

I would much rather them spend their time in these stories than read a story designed to teach them how to count from one to five in Spanish.

Some suggestions:

The Children’s Bible Story Book

The Golden Children’s Bible

The Annotated Brothers Grimm Parents will enjoy its history of the development of these classic fairy tales.

The Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales

If you have time and are in Houston, please stop by Our Savior Lutheran on Wednesday evenings for FAST (Fellowship and Study Together). At 5:45 PM dinner is served (today we had pulled pork…mmm, so who knows what we’ll have next week), and at 6:45 PM you have various options when it comes to fellowship and studying:

For those wanting to dive into the word:

Pastor White: Genesis 1-3. Bible Class Room
These are the Bible’s most important chapters beginning with the perfect creation, then the fall of man and culminating in God’s wonderful plan for salvation.

Pastor Glammeyer: Encouragement for you. C101
Everyone needs to be encouraged. In a world where so much sadness abounds, come find out how to be an encourager and how to receive encouragement.

Pastor Musgrove: Epistle of Hope: I Peter. C105
We will study/discuss the doctrines in this Epistle; see how they relate to other parts of Scripture; and how this applies to us. Bring your Bible, a pen and notepad to take notes.

Jeff Armstrong: Dangers of Cults. C106
Find out how people get sucked into cults. What makes a cult? How do leaders influence their followers?

For the kiddos:

Garrett Gerard: Broadway Live! C107
Designed for kids who like to act, each week they will rehearse and perform at the end of class.

For the chefs at heart:

Shelley Murrell: Dinner from a box. Cafeteria
Open to 10 kids – they will learn how to prepare basic meals from a box mix.

And lastly, for the very adventurous Christians, we have:

Loretta Supercinski: Dancer-Cise! Gym
Learn the basic dance steps of today and yesteryear. Open to all. You don’t have to be a star, just enthusiastic.

Above all, this is a great chance to immerse yourself deeper into Scriptures, provide a safe Christian outlet for your children, and develop a closer fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is pretty interesting. It is an article written in 1968 describing what life will be like in 2008, forty years into the future.

Some fanciful tidbits:

The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer. These electronic brains govern everything from meal preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists and keeping track of the bank balance. Sensors in kitchen appliances, climatizing units, communicators, power supply and other household utilities warn the computer when the item is likely to fail. A repairman will show up even before any obvious breakdown occurs.

If only . . . but some predictions are closer to the mark:

Computers not only keep track of money, they make spending it easier. TV-telephone shopping is common. To shop, you simply press the numbered code of a giant shopping center. You press another combination to zero in on the department and the merchandise in which you are interested. When you see what you want, you press a number that signifies “buy,” and the household computer takes over, places the order, notifies the store of the home address and subtracts the purchase price from your bank balance. Much of the family shopping is done this way. Instead of being jostled by crowds, shoppers electronically browse through the merchandise of any number of stores.

That’s pretty much online shopping in a nutshell . . . but wait, there’s more!

People have more time for leisure activities in the year 2008. The average work day is about four hours. But the extra time isn’t totally free. The pace of technological advance is such that a certain amount of a jobholder’s spare time is used in keeping up with the new developments—on the average, about two hours of home study a day.

Most of this study is in the form of programmed TV courses, which can be rented or borrowed from tape _ * libraries. In fact most schooling—from first grade through college—consists of programmed TV courses or lectures via closed circuit. Students visit a campus once or twice a week for personal consultations or for lab work that has to be done on site. Progress of each student is followed by computer, which assigns end term marks on the basis of tests given throughout the term.

uh-huh. My personal favorite is:

A typical vacation in 2008 is to spend a week at an undersea resort, where your hotel room window looks out on a tropical underwater reef, a sunken ship or an ancient, excavated city. Available to guests are two- and three-person submarines in which you can cruise well-marked underwater trails.

Another vacation is a stay on a hotel satellite. The rocket ride to the satellite and back, plus the vistas of earth and moon, make a memorable vacation jaunt.

Well, in 1968, men were orbiting the moon on a regular basis. This seemed not too far-fetched. Now, excuse me, while I go for a ride in my 250 mph rocket car.

“Imagine a church that is both evangelical – proclaiming the free forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ – and sacramental, centering its spiritual life in the regenerating waters of baptism and the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion. Imagine further a church that is strongly grounded on Scripture…, favoring a comprehensive, intellectually rigorous and imminently orthodox theological system. Imagine a worship service that features both strong preaching and the historic liturgy. Imagine that this is a historical church with a rich spiritual tradition, but without legalism. Imagine, in short, a church that has the best parts of Protestantism and of [Roman] Catholicism. Finally, imagine that this church body is not some little made-up sect, but one of the largest bodies of Christians in the world…” (Gene Veith)

Any thoughts?

I hope you shared in the celebration this morning. Death has been swallowed up. Christ has proclaimed victory over the grave! That message was particularly poignant to me this year. My grandfather fell asleep this past November just a few days after his 89th birthday. Because of what we celebrate today, I know that I will see him again. Ponder that for a few moments. It is truly incredible. Talk about a cause for celebration.

So, our family gathered and the kids hunted 4,000 easter eggs in the backyard. Much BBQ was consumed, ale drunk, and joy shared. It was a beautiful day here in Houston. I hope you had a beautiful Easter day wherever you may be.

God be praised. THE LORD IS RISEN! HE HAS RISEN INDEED!

“It is wonderful that He created me, and still more wonderful that He redeemed me. Never did our Lord give a clearer proof of His great love for us than in His bitter passion and bleeding wounds on Calvary in our behalf. Truly we are loved, since for us and our salvation the only begotten Son is sent from the bosom of the Father. And if Thou didst not desire to save me, O Lord Jesus, why didst Thou descend from heaven? But Thou didst descend to the earth and didst become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. ii. 8). To redeem a servant, God spared not His own Son (Rom. viii. 32). Truly hath God loved the world with an unspeakable love, since for its redemption He delivered up His own Son to be smitten, to be crucified, to be put to death…”
(Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditations, Meditation VIII, p. 46).

Peace be to us and the Church through Jesus Christ, Amen.

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