Derek Johnson Muses

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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Isaiah Study Part 2: Forgiveness for Man in a Broken World

The key point that I’ve learned about Isaiah was from Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller, who said in an Issues, Etc. interview on the book, where he said that the book was mostly just the preaching of law and gospel, which opened my eyes to a different view of the text. Before that, when I turned to the prophets, I always read their books like psalms, songs that happened to be about judgment. As I studied, I read the book as speeches declared from a pulpit, and it brought a different flavor to the writing. Too often, I would look at the psalms as five or six key verses that I’d carry around, a song of praise, and when I’d take that attitude to a prophet, I would end up only taking away “Though your sins are like scarlet…” or “Do justly, love mercy,…” and not that those aren’t important verse. But I was leaving on the table all that was in the book: condemnation of sin, and love of the savior.

To clean-up something from the previous post, let me also say that, the Saduccees and the Pharisees would not have been keen on passages that denounced the temple so stringently, as I noted in my previous post.

Isaiah moves his call to something a little more specific: what Israel needs to do. “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”(Is. 1:16-17 ESV). This the final proof, the sign of Israel’s unbelief: how they are treating the poor in society is a sign of their lack of faith. But while Israel needs to take care of the widows and orphans, it is just as an important that they have right standing.

This is where the church needs to make a clear distinction: while we must take up the cause of the fatherless and the widow and the fatherless, our salvation does not lie in such things. In lies in our redemption that Christ has given us, which Isaiah is about to describe.

Isaiah 1:18 is one of the signature verses of the book, and unique in that does not explicitly mention Christ. But it does state what Christ does for us, and we should consider it closely, noting several things.

First, notice how the train of Isaiah’s sermon shifts. He spends the first sixteen verses giving commands and making declaration (“Give ear, O earth” [v. 2]; “Your country lies desolate” [v. 7]), but in verse 18, he know says, “Come, let us reason together”. This is not thinking together, as our language might indicate, but God coming to judge Israel, in its finality. As Paul E. Kretzman notes in his commentary, this sentence is passed without the consideration of how man feels about it. God has already made this decision, in the garden with Adam and Eve: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow”. Man is forgive in his sight, in spite of his sin.

But the Isaiah goes on to remind Israel that just because God has forgiven them, they do not have a license to mess around. In verses 19-20, he uses the blessings and curses format that is common in Deuteronomy, when Moses makes his farewell sermons to Israel: “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword.” It is the same choice that has always been before Israel: accept God’s blessing and covenant, or be subject to his judgment. It is the same choice we face every day, and thanks be to God, we have an advocate that stood in our place, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah Study Part 1: God’s Prophet Gets to the Heart of the Matter

When I volunteered to take over the leadership of a proposed young adult Bible study at St. John, I got a little more than I asked for. I naturally thought of Isaiah because I hadn’t studied it in depth. When I took Old Testament in college, I was all wore out by the time we got to the prophets, and we didn’t spend much time on Isaiah. Isaiah is well known because of how often it is quoted in the New Testament, but as I have gotten into the text, I have found so much more there.

Isaiah comes to Israel at a time not unlike our own. Dr. Luther notes, that while Isaiah 1:1 puts the prophet himself It was 190 years since the split of the two kingdoms, even longer since the time of David. In the intervening years, most of the kings of Judah have been good, although there was still incense being offered in the high places. Judah probably puffed up its chest during these two hundred years. After all, they had the temple and a Davidic king, and their cousins to the north were involved in mass idolatry and constantly changing monarchs. It would have been easy for Judah to be lulled into a false sense of spiritual security.

But even still, they didn’t do all that God had commanded them. Dr. Stephen Stolhmann, my Old Testament professor, told our class that, given how exuberantly the Passover was celebrated in Hezekiah’ time, it likely wasn’t celebrated that often.

And this is how Isaiah come to Israel: in the first chapter, the prophet laments, “The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” (Is. 1:3 ESV) The notes in the Lutheran study Bible make the interpretation clear: even animals have natural knowledge of who their masters are, in spite of their limited brains. Israel has a book of the law, the whole thing spelled out in front of them. They read it, and they have no clue what it means because their consciences have been harden.

And it is from this point that Isaiah moves on to Israel’s source of security: their temple worship. “Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.” (Is. 1:13 ESV) This to me is the real art of Isaiah 1:2-20, the prophet denouncing the people who are trusting the means over the messenger.

Here we must note an important distinction: while the means of grace God gives can save us, it is merely an unworthy mask to what is truly behind us. I remember an Issues Etc. interview (sadly, the name of the guest escapes me), where the pastor noted that Jesus, while critical of the Pharisees’ behavior, he does observe the temple rituals and festivals, because of its position. But while those means are good, they are just that: means. God’s grace and favor is something else.

This situation presents itself in many ways in our modern society. There are religious sects, such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claim Christ, but add to the teachings of Scripture. These bodies have amassed quite the following and public fascination, and the secularist like to lump them in with the true church, but the scripture makes it clear what they are.

And even in our own church, there are those who go to church every Sunday, but who often go off and serve other gods. We must guard our hearts, so that we do not allow sin and such contempt to creep into them, and run constantly to our Lord and Savior for his forgiveness and mercy. Amen and Amen.

Academy Awards Rant: Can You Name a Relevant Film Best Picture?

Last night, the snobbishness of the Hollywood critics reached an all-time high when a film that I hadn’t even heard of before the academy awards was named best pictured. Never mind that last years clear top pic The Social Network was passed for an art house  movie and went straight to a list that includes Saving Private Ryan and Brokeback Mountain. The academy’s insistence on choosing the movies that are made for critics over popular movies.

I’m not talking about The Dark Knight or Inception winning best picture, although Christopher Nolan has done enough work to show his films should be taken seriously. I’m talking about the Academy Awards becoming the Marry Rieppa Ross Theater Awards: virtually all the winners are artsy-Meryl Streep-Alexander Payne films, tailor-made to the .01% of Americans who actually vote in the academy award, lazy film critics who’ve grown fat on cruddy popcorn. If the film academy was like this twenty years ago, The Silence of the Lambs never would have won best picture.

Last years’ snub of The Social Network defines how self-absorbed the critics are. Never mind that the film came out in October: the critics snubbed it in favor of the proper Colin Firth-Helena Bonaham Carter film that was made for them. Yes, it was a film about a man during the most important period in history the last hundred year, but The Social Network was a just as Shakespearean with its themes of betrayal and pain. It just happened that the film was about young people, starring a Zombieland co-star, a 90’s boy band figure, and the next Spiderman, which made it the kind of film the Academy doesn’t wish to flatter.

I’m not one to say that the Academy owes us better best pictures, just a few that the public can embrace more. Sure, there are some years were Gandhi might be a better movie than E.T., which will have longer staying power, but that doesn’t have to be every year. While I don’t expect every single best pic to be accessible to the masses, it would be nice if some were. What’s wrong with giving it to War Horse? It’s not an epic, is it?

After writing this, I watched the trailer for the aforementioned Best Picture for 2012. I don’t need to see it. Yes, I’m sure it’s a very good film in its own right. But it’s not a Best Picture-it’s a pic that exemplifies film critics’ love affair with the past. Enough said.

My Ash Wednesday, and Lenten Repentance

I went to church Ash Wednesday at 10 , and after I got there, I wondered if I should grow up and start going to the seven PM service, where the adults with kids go. (Gag). But seriously, as long as I have flexible hours, I’m happy to Advent/Lenten services in the morning, with all the old people and a handful of college students.

St. John does the imposition of ashes before we enter the service, instead of during the service. I find this a bit weird, although it does give me a minute for personal reflection before I go into the sanctuary. Given that we also celebrate communion during Ash Wednesday, it helps to receive the ashes first.

I honestly am not sure why we do the imposition of ashes (if any of the pastors who read this blog know, I would like to hear why), but I try to take as I take Holy Communion. Jesus didn’t have to institute the summer, but He did so His church would be feed with His body in a way they could see. So I take the imposition as a visible sign of Christ’s sacrifice and my own mortality in this life, although not commanded by Christ, but as a good human tradition.

My other favorite part of this past Ash Wednesday was using the service of corporate confession and absolution at the beginning of the Divine Service. I had only participated in corporate confession service one other time, at Christ Academy in Fort Wayne, the evening before communion, where we each went forward to receive individual absolution. We didn’t do that at St. John, but corporate confession is the perfect way to reflect on Christ’s mercy for us.

It has been hard growing up in the Lutheran Church to see Lent as anything other than depressing regurgitation of wallowing in our sin. But as I’ve grown as a Christian, what I have learned is that repentance isn’t something that we necessarily have to come to in self-pity or despair. Not that we shouldn’t be sorry for our sins, or that our sins shouldn’t trouble us; they should trouble us, for they should trouble us greatly. The purpose of coming to Christ in repentance is that we do live with our chests puffed up, glorying in our own righteousness. No, the point of repentance in Lent is that we remember how Christ still bears the brunt of our sins and that we must return to him in sincere faith, acknowledging our sins, and doing the good works He has called us to do in faith. Amen, and amen.

Wake Me Up Tomorrow: Review of the Awake Pilot

When I first read online about NBC’s pilot Awake, I cringed when they used the word Inception-like to describe the show. Inception was such an original movie, I hated that any movie or show would compare itself. Stephen King wrote in his memoir On Writing that books that promoted themselves as “being in the tradition of Tom Clancy, James Patterson, etc.” lacked the originality to do anything real. So even though the show was being run by former 24 showrunner Howard Gordon and president Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) in it, I was skeptical.

But then I watched the trailer for the show and was intrigued by the split storyline, and ending on the question “Is he awake?” made me curious. Hey, I may not like that NBC is gravy-training the most original movie I’ve seen in the last seven years, but it’s a show that takes place in a questionable, Matrix-like reality. Am I not going to watch?

So I watched the pilot online, and  I was really impressed. The show did what I wished most shows would do, and that was, start at the most important moment. This is crucial: many times, complex shows over explain the premise of the show, with tedious opening scene. Awake began instead at the moment that will define the show: watching the car wreck then cutting to Detective Britten in his “red” therapist’s office, then transitioning to his “blue” therapists office. No setup of the world prior, very reminiscent of Lost, which started after the crash on the island and flashed back to the time on the plane.

Awake works, mainly because the world is firmly established, and the show has the right lead in Jason Isaacs. Given Isaacs’ chops, it is likely he’s been offered a lot of pilot scripts, but unlike Jason O’Mara, he doesn’t say yes to everything. The show also nails the two most important roles, the therapists, with Cherry Jones and B.D. Wong. And like all good serials, this shows looks like there are a lot of good secondary characters to develop: the wife and son, the tennis coach and obvious love interest, and the other detectives.

The expected weak link in the show are the weekly cases. While the case details piece themselves together between realities, they are ripped from procedural drama playbook, and those parts move slower than the rest of the show. Still, the case in the pilot does give the show solidarity, and it’s a more interesting show with a detective who has a case to solve than a show with about an architect.

Overall, I’m excited for Awake, more so than any other show that’s come onto the air this year, other than maybe The Firm (and we all know how that went). At the very least, Awake probably will give us at least a good season or two, and at least it’s on NBC, where the standards for renewal are much lower than on other networks. And Awake does do something really right: like the trailer, the pilot did end with a line that, one, makes a major progression of a storyline in the pilot, and more importantly, makes me want to watch the next episode.

Comebacks on my Birthday: Reflections on this Past Years’ Nebraska-Ohio State game

On my birthday this year, I was sitting out in the rain and feeling miserable. Well, at least I was for a while. After a bit, I went home happy and dried off, but for a while, I was just wet and miserable.

My birthday is October 8. Nebraska was hosting Ohio State, in a game that I had looked forward to for over a year. Nebraska would have played Kansas State, had the Big 12 stayed as it was, but now, they were playing one of the big boys. My dad had gotten the two of us tickets to the game, aisle seats about forty rows up in south endzone, a section west of the student section. What was as bad as the first half was that there were a bunch of guys who were sitting in the row adjacent to our seats. They were told to move by one of the security guys in orange vests, then by an uniformed cop. Thankfully, they left at halftime.

When Nebraska was down 27-6 in that game, all I could think of was that Kirk Bohl of the Austin-American Statesman would be writing a column talking about how the Huskers were in over their heads in the Big 10. Here was the dilemma of being a Nebraska die-hard the past ten years-taking the scorn of not living up to the expectations was next to impossible. The first people had begun to leave the game when Ohio State got the ball for the second time in the third quarter. In my head, I had myself begun to calculate mentally when exactly I would want to leave stadium sure that the game was out of reach; thankfully, I never picked the time.

Same day two years earlier, I had been sitting in the Joyo Theater contemplating the exact same thing on a third down play early in the fourth quarter as Nebraska was down 12-0. As that game worn on, I was almost gleeful. While Nebraska was down 12-0 entering the fourth quarter, I comforted myself with the notion that it wasn’t nearly as bad as Nebraska’s last two losses to Missouri. The defense had manhandled Missouri upfront; the only points Missouri had managed were hard earned. I thought well, we won’t win the Big 12 North this year, but hey, Missouri’s defense is tough. But as Nebraska’s defense began dropping interception, I started to think that Missouri had just been lucky up to that point.

So as I was thinking about leaving, Zac Lee’s threw one up to Niles Paul, shocking me that he actually got the ball more than fifteen yards from line of scrimmage. When Paul caught the ball and stumbled into the end zone, the theater erupted. It had felt as if the Huskers were down by four touchdowns, but after that touchdown, it felt like they were ahead. As it felt like they could literally do no wrong, they stormed back to win 27-12, and as Roy Helu scored the games’ final touchdown, I turned to my Dad and whispered, “Best birthday ever”.

Two years later, as Ohio State took the ball again in the third quarter, the feeling that Nebraska would once again be the sorry program who lived in the nineties took over, and in this game, Nebraska looked even more over matched on the lines. And to think that this could be the weakest Ohio State team Nebraska played in the next ten years, who could steal Nebraska’s coach at the end of the season? The results when I walked out of the gate would be unbearable.

The third down where LaVonte David stripped Braxton Miller felt so surreal; I wasn’t celebrating it at first, because I thought they might rule Miller down on replay because David came away with the ball after the fact. But seeing it again, I could tell that David had wrestled the ball away, like an unwilling hand-off. I didn’t feel that sensation of an instant turnaround, but when Taylor Martinez scored a touchdown on the second play after the fumble, having set up the Buckeyes perfectly for the middle keeper, I felt Nebraska had a chance.

In retrospect, many of the similarities between the Missouri comeback and the Ohio State comeback exist, although I didn’t think of them during the game. I didn’t see it until I watched the game again, but it was when Joe Bauserman came into the game on third down that the crowd really came back to life. When Bauserman threw a pass ten yards out of bounds on third down, I began to think Nebraska had a realistic chance to comeback, a thought that I finished when Quincy Enumwa caught the long touchdown pass from Taylor Martinez with 2:21 left in the third, cutting the deficit to a touchdown. That series of plays was two plays in the Missouri game-Ndamukong Suh’s interception of Blaine Gabbert, followed by Niles Pauls’ second touchdown pass two plays later. The longer gap in the Ohio State game really had be holding my breath and thinking maybe.

Obviously, more fortuitous things came up in the Ohio State game, given that Nebraska was down three touchdowns. If Braxton Miller doesn’t get injury, it severally hurts Nebraska’s chances, and if Ohio State doesn’t have an interim coach, they could have had the leadership to withstand the bleeding. But both games signified the making of Nebraska’s season that year: the win at Missouri was Nebraska’s ticket to the Big 12 title game (and their first win in Columbia in eight years), and the win against Ohio State was Nebraska’s first Big 10 win, a win that kept Nebraska among the top 25 for the year, and most importantly, the biggest comeback in school history. If Nebraska had lost the Ohio State game, they would have gone done in the bowl pecking order, and this off-season would be even worse.  After ten years of watching Nebraska fail to come back after several things didn’t go their way in a game, it was rewarding to see them come back, especially against one of the nation’s elite programs.

At the end of the game, the rain was over and my dad and I went to the car, stopping by The Mill for a smoothie and tea. I was still wet, but it was a night that you could believe in magic, if you really wanted to. I can’t wait to see who Nebraska is playing Saturday, October 8, 2016. Or if they get a Thursday night game on October 8, 2015.

My Quest for the Right Cookies

Wednesday night, I had to make cookies so that I had something to take into the gallery the next day. I really should get more imagination when it comes to baking cookies, but I usually just use the recipe on the back of the chocolate chips bag, which gives you nothing but a lump of melded butter and sugar, which lead me to sub 1/2 cup of peanut butter for butter. I also sub oats for some of the flour and add walnuts and raise, for the nutrition, or the illusion thereof. Really, I just put in all stuff I like. Here’s my recipe:

1/2 C. Peanut Butter

3/4 C. Sugar

3/4 C. Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

1/2 TSP Cinnamon

1 TSP Vanilla (from Texas, in my case)

1 1/3 C. Flour

1 1/4 C. Old Fashioned Oats

1 TSP Baking Soda

1/2 TSP Salt

1/4 C. Chopped Walnuts

1/3 C. Raisins

1/3 C. Chocolate Chips

Here’s the result

They still are a little dry, but they are good and a step above a pure sugar treat, so in my book, I did pretty well.

Young Man in an Old Man’s Church

With my service the worship committee and with the tape ministry, I’m always getting to church twenty to thirty minutes before service. Usually, about that time, there are a couple of older ladies running around doing stuff, and every once in a while, they will say something about how great it is that I’m very involved at St. John, and I always nod and say how happy I am to be there. Funny thing is, whenever I try and start to have a conversation with them about theological issues, I’m speaking a language they don’t understand.

This is an odd generational gap I find myself with the older saints of the congregation-while I  don’t doubt their faith’s sincerity, they grew up in a generation were in Lutherans were Lutherans, Roman Catholics were Roman Catholics, Methodists were Methodists, etc, etc. They just believed what the church taught them and that was that. Meanwhile, I was homeschooled, and all the kids I grew up with went to different churches, and many of my Lutheran friends have ended up in other churches. So I find myself having to work out what I believe.

The older generations grew up in a different society, and in many cases, they had stronger families and better churches, which was a great blessing from God. But then the social upheaval of the sixties and seventies finally started to penetrate the Midwest, and they’ve left scars on my generation I doubt we will recover from. Sometimes, I look at my elders and think they had it lucky, other times I wonder if I will be any different when I am their age, trying to hold on to an old way of thinking while a brave new world transforms around me every day.

The hallmark of this is the problem that exists in the LCMS-we don’t know how to discuss our differences productively, in a way that works toward an out-cause. Instead, each of us focuses on our own churches, and uses their model to justify practice. I don’t know why we can’t come together, state our practices and beliefs, listen to each other, and try to understand.

But now, God has blessed me with preparing a Bible study for the young adults of St. John, and looking at Isaiah has helped me to consider how I relate to my peers. God’s prophet proclaims to a generation that is 200 years set apart from the great king David, the coming judgment for sin and the continual need for a savior. This is the kind of study I need, to understand how God spoke to a people at a particular time to see how He speaks to us now, just as he did in the pas.

It is the return to the Scriptures that can help the LCMS find new ground. Maybe, thirty years from now, we’ll be a Synod that at least knows where it has to go and respects each other a little better, but that can only happen, if one, we return to the Scriptures, and two, if we head God’s call to proclaim the Gospel and live his truth in love.

The Dilemma of Closed Communion: Admitting that the Church is Small

Two weeks ago at the ACELC conference, I reached a startlingly epiphany during one of the lectures on closed communions. The presenter was drawing mostly from Walther, and came to this assessment towards the end: with all these standards regarding communion of whom can partake of it, one almost wish there was no Lutheran church. Then it hit me: Communion in an orthodox Lutheran church is kind of frightening.

Close communion is a struggle, mainly because we want to be liked and because it hurts our perception in the minds of our Christian churches. But one thing I’ve learned from the Scriptures and the Confession, being a Christian isn’t about being liked. Being a Christian is about walking in the light, saying what we believe, and when you live in the light, you have acknowledge where you are different from others.

The temptation here is to say that the supper is a burden to our unity with other Christians and come up with a new doctrine of the supper. This was the temptation the ecumenical movement gave into, in an effort to build the visible church on earth, or the second tower of Babel, where everyone believes something different about what they are putting into their mouths. (And in my opinion, this open table is part of why they ended up throwing the scriptures out the window, because ignoring such differences in the interpretation of Scriptures will necessarily causes us to hold it in low regard.)

But such a large communion doesn’t deal with the real problem of close communion: if you believe in it, you have to acknowledge that the church is very small, on some level. As we keep our altars tight, we feel a burden of small unity, but the truth is, that is what we should feel. We need to encourage the others to maintain their own unity while we maintain ours.

Jesus discussed this with his disciples in Luke 13:23-24 “And someone said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ And he said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.’” This passage shows us how we should concern ourselves: while it is good to maintain friendships with Christians in other denominations and to discuss our beliefs together, we need to acknowledge each others differences and respect each others altars. Not that we shouldn’t be encouraged if they are constantly in the scriptures, and we should go there with them. But we have to hold to the Bible’s full doctrine, as Christ has given it to us.

The Lord’s Supper is a declaration of the unity of faith, a unity that only God can give. While we can participate in the Supper, we can’t just bring in a bunch of non-dems, Catholics, Methodists, and every other denomination to our communion table and say, see? We believe the same thing, and this supper unites us. It is a paradox with the supper: it can give us unity, but we can celebrate it in such way that we make a mockery of Christ’s body. If we don’t fully agree with our Christian friends, it is better to acknowledge our disagreement and leave it at that.

Close communion is really just an admission that we are human, and that we disagree. Yes, it sounds harsh, but remember, there are lot of laws that God gives us to limit our own egos and pleasures, most notably about sexual purity. We must trust him in this matter.

My Snack Time Mix-it-up: Pineapple Muffins!

So Monday night, I’ve done my writing and looking for something new to try. I’m waiting until later in the week to make cookies to take to the gallery, so I opened the cupboard with the can and gave the lazy Susan a whirl. I found a can of pineapple, so I decide to Google a recipe for Pineapple muffins.

Of course, when I was halfway through making the muffins, I realized that the recipe called for crushed pineapple, and not the whole rings I had. I cut them up, and it worked out.

I ran into another interesting problem-I didn’t have enough dry milk to make the 3/4 cup milk I needed, so I subbed in some amazing mango fruit smoothie. It added a lot to the flavor.

Also significant to my misreading of the recipe-the pineapple was supposed to on top, not the middle, so ended up with some non-crumbly topping sitting on top. If I had to do it again, I would have also put some nuts in the topping.

Finished products are light and filling, with no sour aftertaste:

The Wastelands: What Happens after you Blow a Lifetime’s Opportunity?

Last spring, I had a conversation with my good friend Tom Unger about building community and making friends, one that took me several months to process. I was talking with him about how to make friends, and he said that, since he left Nebraska Wesleyan, most of the people who he really considered good friends were the people he knew in high school and in college, and that he found it harder after leaving school because the people you met then, you don’t spend a lot of time with them unless you worked with them. Tom’s words really rung true for me, and took me on a long journey back to my college days, a time that started with high expectations and ended with disappointment.

I went into college thought to myself, yes, this is the place where I will finally free myself from my over-bearing parents and the trapping small town I grew up in. Out of a bad moment, I spent a year at Concordia-St. Paul, feeling ostracized for my conservative, not-embracing contemporary worship position. Left there after a year, kept in touch with no one. Transferred to Concordia Wisconsin, had a group of friends for a while, then we had a falling out middle of my senior year, and I left distraught and embarrassed. Toward the end of my time there, I actually reveled in the fact that I was a loner and better than everyone else, but after I left and was truly alone, I realized that I’d lost a great opportunity, and began replacing it with things that didn’t matter, like video games, sport radio, and shopping, all the while listening to voices in my head that told me everything was fine.

What this really kept me from was dealing with the great disappointment of my pre-college expectations: I had expected in college to change everything about me. In the years that followed, I dreamed about myself being back in a college situation, each dream realer than all of my other dreams, as I tried to live in that unfulfilled reality. And after that conversation with Tom and realizing that I would never get those friendships like everyone else had. I mourned this inside as I began to realize it, amplified by the thought that I could have formed friendships like that if I went to seminary, and I wondered, where do I go from here?

Then, as I watching the ending of the show Chuck, with Chuck and Sarah on the beach, I thought to myself, what do I have to be scared of? Chuck was a show that I related to on a personal level: a talented, smart guy who between getting kicked out of Stanford and getting dumped, he lost his self-esteem and ended up in a dead-end job for several years. But then a situation presented itself, and he made the most of it, and ended up with the girl he loved.

But those thoughts are just that: prisons in-and-of themselves. I may never get those days back, but I have something even better now: a church family that I’m really involved, a Bible study I’m starting, my photographs on the wall at Noyes Art Gallery, fifty-seven twitter followers, and this blog. Okay, the twitter and the blog make me a true looser, but nonetheless: I’ve found that I don’t have to live for what I don’t have. I can give thanks to God, and make something out of what I do have.

Woman’s Ordination: My Personal Reflections, Standing in a Field of Blowing Tall Grass

I can’t remember in which of his books I read this, but C.S. Lewis wrote a couple simple paragraph on marriage that aptly explain the order of creation from a logical perspective. He approaches it with two questions: one, why does one person in marriage have to be greater than the other, and second, why does that person have to be the man? First, if both partners are completely equal in the marriage, then if there is a disagreement, they automatically have to separate. Two, Lewis writes that the man is the head in marriage because he is less prone to emotional impulses. It goes without saying that Lewis probably didn’t intend to mean that men have the right to be tyrants over their wives or that men never get emotional, but his logic would serve us well in our culture.

There was something in the process of writing these posts on woman’s ordination that I did ask myself, am I being too harsh on these people? While I may disagree with their position, I did go into this process arguing strongly out of emotion, and deliberately so. I felt that I had to pick up for the low self-esteem brotherhood, because that’s who I am and that’s who the genderless society hurts. In many matters, they are more disadvantaged than women? But did I take things too far, and in so doing, given my opponents reason to label me a meanie?

But that’s not the reason I did this. I wrote these pieces because I have a perspective, one that is fresh compared to the seventies crap the OWNers regurgitate. I have nothing to loose. One day, I hope that I do met and marry a woman, provide for her, love and care for her, in a way that she knows God loves her as a child of her, and that’s there’s dignity in her being a wife and mother (Okay, the latter’s kind of a maybe). It is through that kind of leadership that I can show the supporters of woman’s ordination that not being the lesser vessel in marriage does have its place, and it is a place of honor. Honor that they sacrifice when they cut their hair short and decide to be pastors.

In closing, I’d like to share an observation from Pastor David Petersen in an Issues, ETC. interview from last year. In discussing the wedding vow and the word “obey” that the bride says, he said that the corresponding word for the man was “comfort”. Comfort. The man comforts the woman. As I have written throughout these posts, there is an essential facet here that I believe the OWNers are missing, and that is the burden men take on in male-female relationships. In marriage, men always bear the innate burden of provision for the women and children, even if neither party acknowledges it. And I can’t explain it, but every time I hear a woman talking about wanting to be a pastor or wanting a certain position in society (Hillary Clinton wanting to be president, for example), I always see entitlement over someone who cares and who wants to make the best decision for others. I’m sure it’s not true in every case, but it is one of those things that makes me stop and wonder.


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