I know that the confessional Lutheran practice of “closed communion,” in which you have to be a member of the church body (or a member of a church in formal doctrinal fellowship with that church body) to commune at the Lutheran altar, is offensive to many non-Lutherans.  I don’t particularly want to debate that practice, which we’ve talked about extensively.  Rather, I would like to ask those of you who are offended some questions:  Have you ever been to a… Read more

Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry got hit hard in the recent debate over his executive order to vaccinate young girls against a sexually-transmitted disease.  My friend Rich Shipe was telling me even before Perry threw his hat in the ring that a lot of social conservatives oppose him for that reason.  Here is the story: Four years ago, Gov. Rick Perry put aside his social conservative bona fides and signed an order requiring Texas girls to be… Read more

Last night’s debate between the eight Republican presidential contenders was put on by CNN and sponsored by the Tea Party, no less.  Wolf Blitzer presided, but he worked from questions from the Tea Party audience, which made them arguably more interesting to conservatives. My impression is that Perry got beaten up pretty severely by the other candidates (to the point of getting boos from the Tea Party for his program of vaccinating little girls for sexually transmitted diseases and for… Read more

Attention is now on “jobs, jobs, jobs.”  Earlier, the attention was on “economic stimulus.”  But many economists are saying that those emphases miss the big problem that is dragging the economy down and preventing consumer spending:  the mortgage crisis in the housing market. Almost half of America’s mortgages are “underwater,” with the amount owed being more than the property is worth.  That hurts the banks and other lenders, since the collateral they are holding is not enough to cover the… Read more

Yum! Scientists are on the verge of growing artificial meat in laboratories without the need for animal slaughter, according to a report cited Thursday by The Herald Sun — with one expert predicting a stem cell sausage might be just six months away. Researchers say the advent of “pain-free” meat produced from stem cells could save millions of animals from the abattoir and help the environment through substantially reduced energy, land and water use. Dutch researcher Dr. Mark Post, of… Read more

Although I did not want to dwell too much on the 9/11 ten year anniversary, the occasion brought out some fascinating stories that are worth our reflection, even though the anniversary is behind us.  Like this one, on the Cross at Ground Zero: The shape was oddly identifiable in the blasted wreckage of the World Trade Center, standing upright amid beams bent like fork tines and jagged, pagan-seeming tridents. A grief-exhausted excavator named Frank Silecchia found it on Sept. 13,… Read more

The passengers on Flight 93 rose up against the hijackers, who crashed the plane in a Pennsylvania field rather than the White House or whatever their target was.  We now know that if that hadn’t happened, the military was prepared to take down the airliner, passengers at all.  But it was even worse than that.  Incredibly, the available jet fighters were not armed.  Two pilots scrambled to take down the airliner in a kamikaze attack.  One of the suicide pilots… Read more

Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. So we need to observe the occasion. And yet I find myself experiencing grief fatigue, outrage fatigue, war fatigue. I wish we could get beyond 9/11, put it behind us. Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, could we downgrade from threat level orange and keep our shoes on in the airport? I do realize we must remain ever vigilant because the threat remains. And I do agree that we should… Read more

The president unveiled his jobs package last night to a joint session of Congress.  Here are the main provisions of the $447 billion plan: -EMPLOYEE TAX CUTS. A deeper payroll tax cut for all workers. Congress in December cut the payroll tax, which raises money for Social Security, from 6.2 percent for every worker to 4.2 percent, for all of 2011. Obama’s proposals would cut that tax even further – to 3.1 percent – for all workers in 2012. The… Read more

Ecumenical News International reports that the number of interfaith worship services–that is, those in which people of different religions worshipped together (Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.)–have doubled since the 9/11 attacks: Interfaith worship services have doubled in the decade since the 11 September attacks, according to a new study released 7 September, even as more than seven in 10 U.S. congregations do not associate with other faiths. The survey by an interfaith group of researchers found that about 14 percent of… Read more

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