Back in the U.S.A.!

photo-1474663898126-6f6f19a48b1d_optWe are back in the good old U.S. of A. after spending a month visiting our daughter and her family in Australia.  We enjoyed our time down under very much.  But it’s good to be back home.

I can’t believe that I was able to keep this blog going as usual despite the time difference (16.5 hours, a day ahead) and our many activities.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.

It was strange to watch the election from the other side of the world, but sometimes a little distance (literally) is clarifying.

After the jump, a cool picture of me in the Australian landscape that my son-in-law took.  I call it “Australian Sublime.” [Read more…]

Australian Lutherans: Wine and Confession

Hill_of_grace_wineyardIn the late 1830s, the British colonial government of Australia had a problem.  There was a continual stream of settlers–the ex-convicts who had served their time in the prison colonies–but they were nearly all from the city.  What was needed for Australia to become a self-sustaining colony was farmers.  Colonial officers heard of a group of skilled farmers from Germany who wanted to emigrate due to religious persecution.  These were “old Lutherans” who refused to go along with the liberal theology of the state church in Prussia and other principalities.  (Others went to North America where they founded the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.)

The colonial government offered these Lutheran immigrants good farmland along the Murray River in South Australia, in the country surrounding Adelaide, including the Barossa Valley.  These farmers soon realized that the soil and climate were just right for growing grapes.  Thus began the Australian wine industry.

Others too began making wine, and today big corporations are sending rivers of Australian wine throughout the world. But the best wines are made by small, family-run wineries, many of which are still made by Lutherans who go to churches that are sometimes built right next to the vineyards.  (As in this photo of Zion Lutheran Church next to the Hill of Grace vineyards.)  There are some 50 wineries in the Barossa Valley in an area of just 352 square miles, as well as some 550 vineyards that supply grapes for 170 other Australian wine companies.  Nearly all of the wineries are open to visitors and offer free samples.  (Check out this page on Lutheran winemakers and see some of the wines they make.  This organization, started by TV wine expert Tyson Seltzer, himself an active Lutheran, supports Lutheran congregations.) [Read more…]

Australia notes:  Guy Fawkes Day

On Saturday night, here in Australia, fireworks started going off everywhere.  It dawned on my daughter the lines “Remember, remember/the Fifth of November.”  It was Guy Fawkes day!

The old boy is burned in effigy and explosions are set off in commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot, in which a band of Catholic terrorists packed the basement of Parliament with gunpowder with the idea of blowing up the English government and killing King James. [Read more…]

Blogging from Down Under

We’re on our way to Australia to visit our grandchildren, daughter, and son-in-law (a new professor at the Lutheran seminary in Adelaide).  We’ll be there for a month, coming back on December 2.

The blog will continue.  (We’ve got to talk about the election on November 8–I’ve cast an absentee ballot–and other crises that will no doubt arise.)  The big problem will be the time differences.  Early morning in the USA is late at night in Australia.  And late at night in the USA is early morning on the next day!  So 5:00 p.m. CDT on Thursday in the USA is 8:30 a.m. on Friday in Adelaide.

I might be able to maneuver the time distances so that posts come up each morning as you are used to.  But I might end up just posting when I can, so that they will come up for you at odd and unpredictable times.  Please bear with me.  Just check throughout the day.

Then again, if we are on walkabout, we won’t find an internet connection in the outback.

[Read more…]

Christian teaching on marriage as discrimination?

The Catholic church of Australia published a booklet about marriage, explaining why the institution is for men and women, not same-sex couples, and setting forth basic Christian teachings on the matter.  Now it faces a discrimination complaint filed by a transgendered gay activist (a man in a relationship with a woman, but then he had sex change surgery so now he is also a lesbian).

Anyone can file a complaint, of course. and surely this will be thrown out.  Australia doesn’t even have same-sex marriage. But we see here the impulse on the part of some activists not only to gain a right but to suppress those who disagree. [Read more…]

Terrorism in Australia

An Islamic terrorist took over a coffee house in Sydney, holding 17 hostages for 16 hours until police moved in.  Two hostages and the gunman were killed.  The terrorist was an Australian of Iranian heritage, though he was reportedly a Sunni activist.  Authorities believe he acted alone and was not part of a larger plot.  (Though, arguably, foreign threats may be easier to counter than those of domestic origin.) [Read more…]