Lenten observances

I love the Lenten season and it always does me good.  I try to discipline myself more–which usually in my case means not eating so much and exercising more–and I usually work through some heavy-duty theological text for my edification.  (I have a couple in mind that I’m anxious to take on.  I’ll probably report on them here in the days ahead.)  I sometimes ramp up my Bible reading.

President Harrison (below) urges us to join him in praying the Litany.

Of course there is no merit in ascetic self-flagellations, but most of us could use some practice in denying ourselves, if only in small ways, and Lent is a good time to do that.  And it intensifies the experience of Easter when I can cast off my self-imposed little laws and enjoy the rush of freedom, an image of the Gospel, which is what Easter is all about.

What do you do, or not do for Lent?

Join us for morning prayer & devotions online

I am always saying how I appreciate my congregation, St. Athanasius Lutheran Church, and our pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite.  I would like to invite you to join us online for our daily morning prayer and devotion.

It starts at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time (I know, that’s really early on the west coast) and lasts for 20-25 minutes.

What we do is begin with the opening of Matins, then we do the readings from the Treasury of Daily Prayer (a Psalm, Old Testament, New Testament, a  classic spiritual writing, a hymn verse, a collect), followed by prayer (including for prayer requests).  (If you don’t have a Treasury, you can follow along in your Bible.  A list of readings is given for every day.)

Go here: Daily Morning Prayer on the Web.  You’ll need to download a bit of free software the first time you come, but you can do that ahead of time.

I think it’s kind of cool that the online technology allows me to invite you to participate in an activity of our church.  I am not advocating “online church,” as if clicking on an online site is the same as actually meeting together, as the Bible calls for.  This is just morning devotion and prayer, not a worship service.  But I think you might find it helpful, edifying, and meaningful.

This might be something your own congregation could do.  (Are there other ways that your congregations are “reaching out” by using the web?)

Yet another grandchild!


Lucy Joyce Hensley.  This is our second grandchild in one month.  At this rate, we will have 24 in a year.  Lucy is our seventh!  She is very sweet.

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie 
          Thy soul's immensity
                            --William Wordsworth

I am a bad American

I did not watch the Superbowl.  I turned my back on America’s great unifying festival, in which citizens of all political persuasions, subcultures,  creeds, and no-creeds set aside their differences for one night of football, snacks, and television commercials.  I really have no excuse.  My heart hasn’t been in football since the Packers flamed out, and I know that I would just torment myself with thoughts of what might have been.  The half-time extravaganzas nearly always annoy me, and the prospect of Madonna putting on a show filled me with dismay.  And watching the game solely to see the commercials would fill me with self-loathing.  So I did something else.  I am one of the few Americans to sink so low–I hope for my country’s sake that I am the only American to remain aloof from our moment of national unity.

So what did I miss?

National Champions

Forget about the BCS Bowls, the NCAA tournament, and the tortured definitions of “student athlete.”  To me, I am proudest of these national champions:  Patrick Henry College students J. C. Cartee and Andrew Ferguson who won the national undergraduate moot court championship!

Moot court involves students pretending to argue a case before an appellate court (one of which would be the Supreme Court).  They prepare briefs, make their argument before a judge against an opposing side, and respond to questions from the judge (who sometimes is an appellate or even Supreme Court judge).  It’s an intense exercise in research, analysis, writing, speaking, and thinking on your feet.

The little college where I teach literature and supervise the academic and student life programs has had a team win the national championship for four years in a row!  And six in the last eight!

Not only did J. C. and Andrew, both former students of mine, excel, but so did the other Patrick Henry College teams who ran the gauntlet of regional tournaments to make it to nationals.  Here are some details:

Matched against the 80 top teams in the country, PHC’s moot court program has, for the fourth consecutive year, won the ACMA National Championship at Chapman University Law School in Orange County. Competing against the likes of Duke, the University of Virginia, the Air Force Academy, Holy Cross, Wheaton College, Baylor University and the University of Texas, among many others, the College’s duo of J.C. Cartee and Andrew Ferguson won five rounds in a single day to defeat, by a 2-to-1 margin, a team from the College of New Jersey for the first-place trophy.

With six championships in the past eight years, PHC remains the only ACMA moot court participant to have won more than one title. . . .

Having qualified the maximum number of eight teams for nationals, PHC advanced seven teams to the round of 32 octofinals, six teams to the Sweet 16, four teams to the “Elite Eight” round, and three to the Final Four. In addition to Cartee and Ferguson’s first-place trophy, two PHC teams tied for third place: Micah Walters and Kayla Griesemer and Logan Spena and Samuel Johnson. Ardee Coolidge and Josh Chamberlain, made it to the Elite Eight, and PHC duos Blake Meadows and Bridget Degnan and Ben Williamson and James Compton advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. . . .

Not unexpectedly, the College also filled the upper tier of the tournament’s Top Orator rankings, earning second through seventh Top Speaker Awards, which included, respectively, (2nd) freshman Ben Williamson, (3rd) sophomore Blake Meadows, (4th) freshman James Compton, (5th) freshman Samuel Johnson, (6th) senior Nicole Frazer and (7th) senior Logan Spena. Junior James Nelson came in 11th. In the Brief Writing Competition, PHC teams of Kyle Niewoehner/Nicole Frazer and Samuel Johnson/ Kira Clark won third and fourth places, respectively. The team of Mackenzi Siebert and Tait Deems placed fourth in the Top Respondent Brief Competition.

via Patrick Henry College.

I am proud of all of them!

Margaret Magdalena Moerbe

Our sixth grandchild was born today!

So bright-eyed and alert already!