Bayern, USA, Deutschland

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It looks like Christmas

Our blizzard in 2006

Last night we had our first snowfall since last February. It was nothing much, just a dusting, really, and thankfully not like the pounding we got in 2006, and as the snow drifted down against the bright lights of Main St. and the generic Christmas decorations adorning the lamp posts,it began to look and feel like Christmas.

It would be nice if the borough would fix some of the ornaments, though. Several of them have burned out lights. But all in all, our little town does a fine job decorating for Christmas. Our boro hall has a nice Christmas tree and some decorations that are the highlight of Main St.

Even though it is drawing closer to Christmas, I have yet to put up any decorations. I usually wait until Dec. 21st. Something in me appreciates Christmas once it turns officially to winter. I shall have to post some pics of the boros lights.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Caprica Cancelled

Really SyFy? Really? You cancelled one of the few programs on your network that is truly science-fiction. Caprica was one of your best written shows. Sure, it was not fast-paced or totally action-oriented, but it was great television. Now I get to wait until 2012 for your next BSG spin-off Blood and Chrome. Please don't make us wait a whole year between seasons like you did with Caprica. I hope that you tie in with the plot line of Caprica.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Luther statue presented

Here's a link from the Bundestag


Unfortunately, most German politicians view Luther as merely a cultural icon rather than the preeminent Reformation theologian.

Regarding the statue, this is the most famous pose of Luther, and it is found around the world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

God in America

It has been a week since PBS aired its six-hour documentary "God in America". I thought it was a balanced and academic look at religion in America. Others have noted tahat it was really about religious freedom in America rather than God. I agree with that assessment, too.

I wish the show had done two things:

1. Devoted a whole two hours to the topic specifically from 2000-2010;
2. Devoted 1-2 hours on Islam in America.

I think having a total of 10 hours would have provided a solid beginning in understanding religious freedom in the States.

Also, the program mentioned many examples of "separation of church and state" issues but spent liitle time discussing whether the First Ammendment and the separation of church and state are the same or different perspectives. It was just assumed that the two refer to the same principle. This is a discussion that runs through our contemporary society and will continue as long as we have our Constitution.

I also liked that PBS did not drag out the old theological warhorses, but had younger (and in my experience unheard of) theologians. It was refreshing to hear their perspectives and expertise and added to the quality of the show.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

People's List of 100 Influential TV shows

As I was waiting in the checkout line at the supermarket today, I looked at the cover of People magazine with it's chief article about the 100 most influential TV shows and characters/actors/actresses over the past 40 years. I suspect this month or the next their is some 40th anniversary milestone for TV, but that would place it in the year 1970, and that leaves out two great decades of TV shows. Maybe 1970 was when People magazine first hit the newstands and the supermarket checkout lines.

The tag line for the cover article was: Top 100 TV shows and actors who have changed our lives over the past 40 years. There were memorable photos on the cover: J. R. Ewing, Captain Kirk, Ron Howard, and at least two dozen more.

Honestly, no TV has "changed my life" in any meaningful way. Although I enjoyed watching "Dallas", the burning question of "Who shot J. R.?" did not and has not changed my life. Although I remember when ABC ruled the airwaves with shows like "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley", Fonzy jumping the shark hasn't had a major impact in my life. I remember fondly the double header of "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" that crushed all competition on Saturday nights (or was it Friday?).

Over the decades there have been plenty of TV shows that have entertained, and either through cable/satellite channels or Netflix, we can re-watch those old favorites. Right now I am watching "LEXX" that used to be on the SciFi (now SyFy) channel in the late 1990s. I do not remember ever seeing the first two seasons, so thus far every episode is fresh and new.

I think back to the great shows of years gone by, and it seems to me that at least half the shows we have at our disposal nowadays are some sort of reality shows. While some are quite good, they are a far cry from the shows we had on the airwaves even ten years ago. Reality shows are basically cheap and inexpensive ways for the networks to crowd their lineup each week. Most written shows are rarely given the chance to develop an audience or work out the kinks that most new shows exhibit the first several episodes. This impatience is quite disheartening, because shows like "Newhart" and "Seinfeld" were just awful their first few episodes and even their first season, but the shows plugged along and were given the time to shake out the kinks and blossomed into fine shows.

Two shows that I really enjoyed recently were not given that chance. "Knight Rider" got cancelled after about a dozen episodes and "FlashForward" was axed after its first season. I thought "Knight Rider" was a good 21st century update of the classic from the 1980s. Although "FlashForward" started slow and the story line plodded along for several weeks before everything started to come together and make more sense, I enjoyed its slow pace, causing thought about what was going to happen. It was refreshing to have such a pace when most things are so fast to accomodate for a dwindling attention span in the public.

I am sure there will be a lot of clunkers this new fall season, but hopefully the networks will give these new shows a fighting chance of becoming good shows. It doesn't happen overnight.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

North America Lutheran Church

Okay, you may have heard about this already, but I just discovered today that the congregations that were leaving the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have formed a new church: the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).

Check out the NALC website.

I suspect there is a lot of enthusiasm right now among those churches, pastors, and lay people involved in the NALC. There is also the daunting task of organizing a new church body and all the administrative hassles that involves. God's blessings on their endeavor.

Guess that means if the LCMS wants to change her name, we cannot choose NALC anymore. Thank God! I am happy with the name the Synod has now.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Eurovision 2010 Winner


Congrats to Germany and Lena for winning this year's Eurovision in Oslo, Norway.

">chanée & N'evergreen

I thought chanée & N'evergreen from Denmark had the best song and performance, though.

I wish the U.S. would try to get some broadcasting rights for the Eurovison, until then we can at least watch it (live!) on the Eurovision website. We are, however, making some progress: the World Cup and the Rugby 2011 World Cup. It would also be nice if Directv, Dish Network, and cable would offer us a basic European package with a few stations from each European country.

Monday, May 31, 2010

President Lincoln's ,,Gettysburg Address"

Here is Lincoln's address. This is the one that is engraved on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. I got it from Wikipedia.


Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth
on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so
dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-
field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave
their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether
fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot
consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men,
living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it
far above our poor power to add or detract. The world
will little note nor long remember what we say here, but
it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the
living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished
work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the
great task remaining before us…that from these honored
dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here
highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain;
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of
freedom; and that government of the people, by the people,
for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

November 19, 1863

Listen to the Gettysburg Address as read by Britton Rea.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Battlestar Galactica and Theology

I was pondering the other night, thinking about the mid-season/season finale of Caprica. (I cannot tell anymore if SyFy is going with a 13-episode season or a full 22-episode season broken up for winter and late summer.) It struck me that in the BSG story, every time the human civilization reaches the apex of "resurrection" belief the civilization comes crashing down. On Kobol, the Cylons had a belief in the resurrection, and some time after that a devastating war erupted between the lords of Kobol. It is unknown whether resurrection doctrine was intertwined in that. Then when the Cylons leave Kobol and form their own colony, as soon as the Five Cylons rediscover resurrection tech/doctrine, a civil war breaks out and their colony is destroyed. On ,,Caprica" a similar line is developing: resurrection doctrine is fast becoming a reality as two humans have transcended death. Caprica is on the verge of a two wars that will eventually destroy the 12 Colonies.

I am not sure what to make of this. In most religions, and especially in Christianity, the afterlife is seen as a good thing. The Christian concept of resurrection is understood as God's renewal of His fallen creation back to His original intent of purity and holiness. In the BSG world, it appears that the concept of the resurrection is a cause for mankind's destruction. Is BSG trying to put forward the ideal that belief in God, the gods, and a spiritual afterlife something that breeds war and strife? Is BSG focusing on the ideal that religion is the cause of all our problems? Is BSG trying to tackle the threat of terrorism and radical extremists by lumping all religious people into the same boat and saying, ,,Because you believe in God, you therefore are the cause of all suffering on this planet?" I am not sure. So far, there is no light at the end of the tunnel, just the foretelling of horrible destruction without any hope for something better. Perhaps we will see more as ,,Caprica" unfolds.

I miss the days of ,,Babylon 5" where JMS treated people of religious conviction fairly and without stereotypes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More on Heilsgeschichte

Yesterday I was reading Dr. Horace Hummel's excellent book, The Word Becoming Flesh, looking up his references to Heilsgeschichte. While doing so, I came across some other wonderful, but neglected terms: Heilseschatologie(salvation eschatology), Heilsorakel (oracle of salvation),and Heilsprophetie (salvation prophecy).

Hummel made some powerful comments regarding the Minor Prophets. Perhaps more than any other prophet, Hosea is the prophet of Heilsgeschichte (The Word Becoming Flesh 297). The Prophet Habakkuk attacks the problem of evil more directly related to the themes of Heilsgeschichte (The Word Becoming Flesh351). Many times the Minor Prophets are overshadowed by the Major Prophets. Much emphasis is focused on Isaiah and his suffering Servant themes that are so predictive of the Christ. But Hummel points out that a number of the Minor Prophets unpack the Heilsgeschichte theme.

Dr. Horace Hummel rightly notes, "Heilsgeschichte (the term may be used very positively) does not first begin with Gen. 12, as critics commonly hold, but at Gen. 3:15, the ‘Protoevangelium.’" (The Word Becoming Flesh66). This statement is vitally important to understanding Heilsgeschichte. The LORD's salvation history does not begin with Abraham, but with Eve. Abraham and Genesis 12 are merely the next steps in God's unfolding plan to save fallen, sinful humanity, a plan which the LORD undertook at the very moment mankind fell into sin and rebellion. As such, Hummel is challenging the accepted theological approach of historical criticism that devalues Genesis 1-11 as nothing more than a small step above the pagan myths.

God's Heilsgeschichte theme winds its way throughout the Old Testament. Often it is hidden in the saving acts of Israel, quietly pointing to a future, more full saving act of the LORD's Christ. Other times it cries from the roof tops, as seen in Isaiah, Hosea, and Habakkuk. God's salvation history moves forward with each generation in the Old Testament until it finds fulfillment in the New Testament with the birth of Jesus who suffers on the cross for our forgiveness and is raised from the grave on Easter for our victory. The theme of salvation history continues to move forward with the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. On the last day, Christ will return and we will experience Heilsgeschichte in our resurrected bodies.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Long-awaited internet search strikes gold!

For several years, I have been searching the internet for sermons preached by Wilhelm Loehe. This morning I found a book that Google Books scanned into their online library of Loehe's Gospel sermons. I took a brief look at it, and was happy to have found it. Even more difficult to find on the internet are English translations of Loehe's sermons.

The only challenge with Google's scan is that the book used the old German typescript, which, if you aren't familiar with it takes some work figuring out some of the letters. I haven't read German texts using the old typescript for some time, but after a few minutes it became more familiar.

I'm interested in reading Loehe's sermons. One website dedicated to him describes him as a preacher in the style of Martin Luther. Loehe was known to preach without notes, only writing his sermon down after he had preached it. This is much different from Norman Nagel's style of reading his sermon verbatim from the pulpit. Nevertheless, Nagel is a great preacher.