The Nadia Bolz-Weber phenomenon

Nadia Bolz-Weber is a tattooed, non-conformist, cutting-edge kind of person.  She’s also a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, two strikes against her for us Missouri-Synod Lutherans.  But she has the ear of “progressive Christians.”  And the thing is, she preaches the Gospel.

For all of her ministry to gays, the poor, and other outcasts, she does not approve of the leftwing social gospel that dominates most mainline liberal churches.  She is supernaturalist.  She proclaims Jesus.  She focuses on the theology of the Cross, not theologies of glory.  She teaches salvation by grace through faith.  She quotes Martin Luther.  She is having an impact.

Can we bracket all of the ELCA things we disapprove of?  Can we refrain from simply attacking her?  How can you account for the Nadia Bolz-Weber phenomenon?  Her audience is mainly “progressive Christians” who haven’t heard this sort of thing in a long time.  Does she illustrate my thesis that Lutheranism is the true emergent Christianity?  That is, that the way to reach postmoderns is not to water down faith (which was the tactic, mostly unsuccessful, to reach modernists), but to emphasize faith as Lutheranism does, in a way that is different from much of contemporary Christianity? [Read more…]

What to do about gerrymandered elections?

An issue for election day:  One of the problems in our political system today is that Congressional districts have been drawn up to ensure that each one is a “safe seat” for the incumbent and a particular political party.  That means that voters almost never have competitive elections with genuine choices–unless, that is, the incumbent has a primary rival from the same party.  This makes for ideological polarization, say many observers, as well as thwarting the basic processes of democracy. [Read more…]

A member has been added to your Body

On the Sunday of All Saints yesterday, a new saint was added to the number of saints who constitute Christ’s church.  My new grandson, Thomas Gene Edward Hensley, was baptized.

“When[the church]  baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member.”  John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII

My father’s name was read among the dead, and now his name-sake enters the church, so it was all very meaningful to me.  In honor of All Saints, now that I am thinking about John Donne, after the jump I’ll quote the context of the above passage from his Devotions, a series of meditations as he was undergoing a serious illness, which as far as he knew may well be fatal.  The “for whom the bell tolls” refers to the custom of ringing the church bells to call people to prayer for someone who was dying, and he was wondering if the bells were ringing for him. 

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Flying into a crime scene

Flying into California for my grandson’s baptism, I had to connect through LAX.  This was on Friday, the day of the shootings at that airport.  That happened in the morning.  My plane was coming in that afternoon.  We heard about the shootings just before we started to board.  The plane had DirectTV if you wanted to pay for it, so to see what we were getting into, I sprung for it and watched the news unfold.   After the chaos of the morning, things had settled down by the time we landed.  Flights were coming and going, though they were terribly backed up all through the day, and my connecting flight was cancelled.  Anyway, I finally caught a flight out and made it to my destination.  Still, it was sobering to fly into a crime scene like that.  Things on the news happen to real people, just like us, and some of the bad things we see on TV could happen to us.  The point is obvious, of course, but still. . . .

Details about the shooting after the jump.

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Euthanasia for kids

Belgium is considering a law that would extend “the right to euthanasia” to children, so that they could request their own deaths.  The Washington Post story about this, excerpted after the jump, gives a grisly survey of existing euthanasia laws.  It also quotes an Archbishop who, of course, opposes the proposed law, but on the grounds that it is unnecessary:  Doctors can instead use “palliative sedation,” in which patients are drugged unconscious, whereupon they can be allowed to starve to death.

Palliative sedation?  Why is this not euthanasia?  How can this be a pro-life alternative? [Read more…]

Pulling back from the culture wars?

Church historian Martin Marty discusses how conservative Christians are pulling back from the culture wars.  He cites the leadership of Pope Francis for the Roman Catholics and Russell Moore for the Southern Baptists.  An additional factor is the increasing secularization of the conservative movement, citing the Tea Party’s general indifference to moral issues the church has been concerned with.  (He might have added the active atheism and hostility to Christianity of the hard-core libertarian followers of Ayn Rand.)

Read what Dr. Marty has to say–and what I have to say about what he says– after the jump.   [Read more…]