Report from Denmark

Hej.  That’s a Danish word pronounced “hi.”  It means “hi.”  We’re really enjoying Denmark.  Yesterday I gave two lectures sponsored by the conservative theological faculty at the University of Aarhus.

My topic went something like this:  In our increasingly secularist postmodern times, the objective world has been drained of God and thus drained of meaning.  This was due not only to the science of the Enlightenment, but also to theological movements that relocated Christianity from the realm of objective truth to “the heart.”  As a result God (along with meaning) is thought of as an abstract or mystical concept or as an inner personal experience.  The physical realm of ordinary life has little religious significance, either for unbelievers or for believers.  This, however, comes at a cost.  I then argued that Lutheran spirituality can help bring back the significance of the physical realm.  I used as examples Lutheran Christology–the emphasis on God incarnate in the human being Jesus, who took the world’s evils and sufferings into Himself on the Cross; His manifestation in the water of Baptism and the bread and wine of Holy Communion; and God’s presence in ordinary human vocation. [Read more...]

Checking in from Denmark

I have no idea what time it will be in the States when this post goes up, but I have a little time and an internet connection, so I thought I’d check in.  Our trip went very smoothly and we are exploring Denmark before my lecture at the university tomorrow.  Denmark, with the rest of Scandinavia, is considered one of the most secular of countries, but I have been meeting many strong Christians who are a true delight.   I’m learning that the religious picture is more complicated and nuanced than I realized,  that there will always be a remnant in Christ’s church, and that when Christianity is not just the cultural thing to be, those who do bother to go to church take it very seriously.   I’ll report more on these things when I fully digest my experience.   Anyway, we’re having a good time and wish you were here!

My Scandinavia gigs

Today my wife and I will catch a plane to Copenhagen for a series of presentations I’ve been asked to make in Denmark and Norway.  The Scandinavian countries are considered among the most secular in the world, and yet there seems to be some interest in my book The Spirituality of the Cross, which has been translated into those languages.  On October 1, I’ll be giving some lectures at the seminary connected to the University of Aarhus.  On October 5, I’ll be speaking at a Bible college in Copenhagen.  On October 7-8, I’ll be in Oslo, Norway, giving four keynote addresses at a summit meeting of Scandinavian youth ministries.  (This is the group that is bringing me over and arranged the other gigs.)  We’ll fly back to the states on October 10.

This blog will go on for the two weeks that I’ll be out of the country.  I’ve stockpiled quite a few posts that I think you’ll find interesting to read and discuss, and I’ll schedule them to appear in the days ahead.  I’ve also figured out a way for us to cover and discuss news and current events, though I’ll depend on your active participation and comments for this to work.  I’ll be taking my computer and though I won’t be able to blog as I usually do, I’ll try to check in when I can.  Certainly when I get back from this tour I’ll tell you all about it.

Please, please, pray for us and that my presentations will be well-received.  Who knows what these little sparks might ignite?

Winfield, Kansas, and the musical world

I have been gorging myself on western and midwestern small-town culture, since retiring.  In the last few weeks, I’ve been to a rodeo, a county fair, and Charlie Adams Day (a festival honoring a town legend and his horse).  Last week I attended a huge event that shows just how influential a small town can be.

Winfield is a little town in rural Kansas that was the home of the now defunct but much-beloved Lutheran school St. John’s College.  It was also the home of a man named S. L. Mossman.  He made guitars.  Really good guitars.  In the 1960s, more and more people wanted them, and his business grew, though he refused to mass produce the guitars and kept making them by hand.  After awhile, his company sponsored a competition there in Winfield for the best flat-pick guitar player.  Around that event grew a festival, with more championships (in finger-style guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, autoharp, and fiddle) and performances in bluegrass, folk, and other kinds of acoustic music.  Thus was born the Walnut Valley Festival, which has launched the careers of countless musicians and has become one of the premier events in American music.

My brother Jimmy, author of the most-read post ever on this blog, and I went to Winfield last week for the festival along with my friend the musician, novelist, and pastor, the right Rev. Fred Baue.  After the jump, I will tell you of our adventures, my musical discoveries with YouTube videos, and some of what I learned. [Read more...]

Labor & Leisure

Labor Day heralds the end of summer vocations.  Now the Fall begins and it’s back to work.  For students and teachers like me, it has always meant getting serious again and going back to the classrooms for another school year.

This year, for me, the holiday is hitting me in a completely different way since I am retiring.  All summer I have been madly busy finishing up my job, so Labor Day is heralding the beginning of my not laboring, at least in the same way I have all of my life. [Read more...]

New edition of our book on classical education

The book that I did with Andrew Kern some time ago is back in a new, expanded, updated edition.  Its title and subject: Classical Education. [Read more...]