Blog of Concord

Debunking theologies of glory since, well, last November.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Successor Blog

The successor to "Blog of Concord" may be found here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On hiatus

The blog is officially on hiatus. I don't know whether I have anything worth sharing, and any and all of my energy ought to be devoted to sharing it with my congregation.

Pax vobiscum.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Bill Cork evacuates from Houston

Former-Lutheran-turned-Catholic blogger Bill Cork has left his home in Houston TX and is now with friends or family in Atlanta, blogging about the latest natural disaster to assault our fellow citizens on the Gulf of Mexico.

A turn for the worse?

According to all the reports, the Vatican is preparing to forbid self-identified homosexuals from studying for or being ordained to the Catholic priesthood, even if they promise to remain celibate.

On the face of it, this is very wrongheaded.

I suppose one could make a prudential argument for serious consideration whether gay men should present themselves for a life where a) they will be living with other men in close quarters for eight years or more and then b) they will be on their own in the parish, with few opportunities for psychosocial intimacy except with members of their family or (surprise surprise) other men, adults or young adults.

But to ban "them" completely flies in the face of common sense, good judgment, and moral decency. First of all, who are "they?" Someone who has a live-in boyfriend, someone who has a wet dream every couple of months, or both?

Granted, there is a huge problem in seminaries everywhere (Protestant as well as Catholic) with a gay subculture. Seminaries, like universities, have become havens for the gay subculture, or even simply a highly charged sexual subculture with no distinctions between gay, straight, or whatever. This story on NPR tells of a man who sued the Jesuits in the late 1980s for sexual harassment after entering a seminary and finding himself receiving sexually suggestive cards, invited to gay parties, etc.

But the Vatican has to be kidding itself if they think that simply making a rule against gay men is going to work out. You have to invite people into a life of discipleship and make it possible. I knew people (faculty as well as seminarians) at seminary who were not living in compliance with Vision and Expectations, and yet there were some who were. It also begs the question: are you going to ban all egotistical, unforgiving people from the ministry as well? Because if you are, then I ought to turn in my collar too.

I'm willing to see how this plays out, but I hope I don't have to. I would rather see seminaries, non Roman Catholic as well as Roman Catholic, forming sinners in a life of obedience rather than banning sinners from the Church. The policy in V/E expecting those who self-identify as homosexuals to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships has to be enough. What it does is offers a standard. Now we need to form people to live according to the standard. That is the hard work.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Gerhard Krodel, R.I.P.

My intern supervisor had only his dissertation to complete on a doctorate of history when he started his seminary studies. His university offered him the opportunity to complete the dissertation and attain to the degree. He discussed it with Dean Krodel and President Steumpfle and said that he didn't think he could keep up with the coursework at Gettysburg AND do the dissertation, so he thought he would decline the opportunity to do the dissertation. Krodel told him:

"You vill not use us as an excuse for your failure!"

He completed the dissertation.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Prayers Requested

Prayers are hereby requested for Joseph Benjamin Pisano, five-year-old son of Joseph and Erin Pisano, both friends of ours from college. He was struck by a sports utility vehicle on Monday and is currently in critical but stable condition at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. Prayers are asked both for his healing and for the strength and comfort of the family. Please pray also for his maternal grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Edwin Arnold.

Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pat Robertson and the domestication of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Now it's personal.

Until now, Lutherans were simply sharing in the general outrage over "religious" broadcaster Pat Robertson's encouraging the U.S. government to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But now, he's brought Dietrich Bonhoeffer into the fray.

In his written statement clarifying his remarks on Chavez, Robertson cites Dietrich Bonhoeffer as partial justification.

The Pat sez:

I am a person who believes in peace, but not peace at any price. However, I said before the war in Iraq began that the wisest course would be to wage war against Saddam Hussein, not the whole nation of Iraq. When faced with the threat of a comparable dictator in our own hemisphere, would it not be wiser to wage war against one person rather than finding ourselves down the road locked in another bitter struggle with a whole nation?

The brilliant Protestant theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lived under the hellish conditions of Nazi Germany, is reported to have said:

“If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver."

On the strength of this reasoning, Bonhoeffer decided to lend his support to those in Germany who had joined together in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and killed by the Nazis, but his example deserves our respect and consideration today.

Andy Weaver, a pastor in my synod, sent out an email with the title "Leave my Bonhoeffer alone." His email reflected the shocked sensibilities nearly all Bonhoeffer admirers or students feel, I'm sure. A former professor, Gil Waldkoenig, responded with this list:

Reasons why Bonhoeffer's attempt to assassinate Hitler was qualitatively
different from Robertson's call for assassination of Chavez

1. Bonhoeffer was committing an act of resistance within his own
Robertson was sniping at another country's head of state

2. Bonhoeffer was on record for pacifist views and took up violence as
a last resort (in the "just war" tradition)
Robertson is on record for war-mongering, and jumped to
assassination without advocating other avenues.

3. Bonhoeffer risked his own life to try to stop the key perpetrator of
the Holocaust and the war. Robertson risked nothing in his demagoguery over
political issues.

4. Bonhoeffer was trying to stop his own country's war and genocide.
Robertson suggested something that would start a war between his
country and another.

5. Bonhoeffer's act was a personal act of resistance under a regime
that had stolen his voice, vote and power as a citizen.
Robertson's voice, vote and power are admittedly distended but not
undermined by the regime under which he functions

6. Bonhoeffer didn't announce publicly his desire to assassinate
Robertson was grand-standing in one of his "news" and commentary

7. Bonhoeffer took responsibility for his own action.
Robertson said somebody else or, at best, "we," as in the US
government, ought to do it.

8. Bonhoeffer was a theologian who earned his degree in an established
university under the standards of the academic community.
Robertson is the typical self-anointed American huckster preacher,
is not in conversation with serious theologians, and does not respect
the serious academic theological community

9. Bonhoeffer could write well.
Robertson can't even speak clearly.

10. Bonhoeffer acted out of profound sadness.
Robertson has glee over US power and his own self-inflated role in
public policy

It should be noted here that Bonhoeffer has been cited by those who advocate the assassination of abortion providers, etc. In The Bonhoeffer Phenomenon, Stephen R. Haynes describes the phenomenon of Bonhoeffer's "domestication:"

"If these mainstream conservative spokespersons (James Dobson, etc.) hint at parallels between Nazi crimes and legal abortion, others leave no doubt that we are living in the midst of a second holocaust...In the past decade religious rationales for attacking abortion providers and the institutions that sustain them have been personified by two men: Paul Hill and Michael Bray. Hill is the better known of the two. In September 2003, he became the first American executed for antiabortion violence after being convicted of murdering a physician...After the murders, Hill reflected on criticism of his actions from the Christian community:

'Before World War II the church in Germany also shrank from resisting the evils of an unjust, oppressive government. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is an example of a church leader who, as an individual, sought to protect innocent life by plotting the death of Hitler...Few people today, looking back, would say that the active civil disobedience of that time should have been restrained. We can be certain that the counsel of restraint today will be regretted by those who look back on it in the future.' "

Haynes continues that while responsible pro-lifers have explicitly condemned anti-abortion violence,

"...there is no doubt that invocations of Bonhoeffer which condemn Christian passivity in the face of the 'American holocaust' provide symbolic encouragement for radical antiabortion activists...playing into the hands of Bonhoeffer devotees on the radical right who agree that America's Nazi-like culture must be resisted and conclude that Bonhoeffer's relevance lies in his reluctant decision to wield the sword to fend off chaos and protect the defenseless."

But Haynes makes the sword double-edged, insisting that all of our appropriations of Bonhoeffer for our own purposes are suspect:

"Some Bonhoeffer scholars have calling attention to the distinction between murder and tyrannicide. But in focusing on what Bonhoeffer meant, they ignore the more crucial issue of what Bonhoeffer means, a task that require a thorough critique of all attempts to make Bonhoeffer "ours" by establishing parallels between Naziism and contemporary movements or programs we find distasteful...Indeed, liberals have been as guilty as anyone of ascertaining Bonhoeffer's relevance for contemporary political life by portraying their own governments in Nazi images."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

We are on vacation...

So far my wife, the three kids (6,4, and 1) have been back in Lancaster County as tourists, doing the Strasburg Railroad and PA Train Museum on Thursday, and today doing the Renaissance Faire. Sunday we'll be in Camden at the Aquarium, Monday the Please Touch Museum in Philly, and then to NY for the day Tuesday. Home on Tuesday night and back to work on Thursday on a very, very busy fall.