Aardvark Alley

Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

30 June 2005
  Behold the Bride
This, my dear cousin, is for you.

The Bride of Christ

Carrie, as you and Aaron prepare to marry, remember that you are proclaiming a profound mystery for the world to see and marvel:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33 [ESV]

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5 [ESV]
  My NL All-Star Infield Is in the Cards
Time's almost up for selecting MLB All-Stars.

I know I'll rile Bob Waters and other Cubophiles, but I'm having a hard time picking anyone other than the four infield players from the Saint Louis Cardinals to the National League All-Star team. If you agree — or even if you don't — hie thee off to MLB.com and start punching your electronic chads. According to the site, you may vote a maximum of 25 times. Voting ends today (30 June) at 11:59 PM ET.
  Baseball's Below-Average Average
This Triple Crown jewel might be fake.

"America's best sports columnist" — according to the Associated Press — Joe Posnanski crystalizes my vague displeasure with the exalted status of batting average among baseball's myriad statistics. He poinst out many of the absurdities, such as bunts being counted as sacrifices (and not affecting average) but not ground balls to the right. His analysis seems right on target and he supplements it with these comments from baseball savant Bill James. James equates using batting average to rate a player’s hitting ability to the following:
If you've a sports fan and would like to treat yourself to regular Posnanski, he doesn't have separate syndication, but you can get the RSS feed for all Kansas City Star sports columnists.
29 June 2005
  More Purpose-Driven Disputation
Another excellent resource dealing with Warren's book is an essay PDF format essay orignally presented to a circuit pastors' conference by Vicar Steve Parks.
28 June 2005
  Is It Time to Stem Cell Research?
There's more to me that meets the I.

A just-released study from the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh shows that stem cells can be taken from post-natal (including adult) people. The results indicate that adult cells can be used to repair trauma, congenital, or genetic damage. An advantage over fetal cells (besides the obvious one of not relying on abortion) is that by using one's own cells, rejection issues disappear.

Of course, any artificial generation and use of cells outside their initial context is, itself, sailing a stormy sea upon which are used countless moral compasses, all pointing in different directions.
27 June 2005
  Purpose-Driven, Unsolicited, Un-Spam ...
... or, why you should always open your mail.

Most anyone with an internet connection gets unsolicited email—sometimes lots of it. With automatic filters and a jaundiced eye, probably most of what I get barely registers on the radar. However, today I accessed one of my lesser-used accounts and amidst the dross I saw this header: The Purpose-Driven Life: A Lutheran's Perspective.

Not being any great fan of Rick Warren's evangelical fluff, I decided to pop open the post. There within I found a Word file with a layman's critique of PDL. (I guess he didn't know that a Practically Perfect Aardvark prefers WordPerfect.) I went to the URL listed in the post and found that I didn't have to struggle with Word, a WP version is available.

In eighteen pages (depending upon font size and printer specs), plus another four pages of notes, Scott Diekmann offers an overview stemming from the personal experience of wandering forty days in a Purpose-Driven wilderness. Rather than offer generic criticism that Warren "doesn't sound Lutheran" and thus should be avoided, he provides quotes and his own commentary. Diekmann provides ample evidence that Warren "gets" neither Law nor Gospel, although The Purpose-Driven Life is shown to be rampantly legalistic. Furthermore, Diekmann exposes the poor translation chosen to present Warren's choice of Bible texts (The Message from Zondervan).

To give you a taste of the essay, here are the final few observations he makes, quoting Warren and answering from Scripture and sound doctrine:

Pastor Warren says my real problem is “a lack of focus and purpose,” something I should be able to work on and correct. My real problem is that I am a sinner. Fortunately, someone came to solve my problem, and that is where my focus lies:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Pastor Warren says “Hope comes from having a purpose.” My hope comes from my Redeemer and the firm conviction I have that on the last day I will be resurrected to eternal life; I myself will see Jesus with my own eyes:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.... 1 Timothy 1:1

Pastor Warren states “There are many ‘good’ things you can do with your life, but God’s purposes are the five essentials you must do.” The people asked Jesus what they must do:

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29

While we do the believing, it is God’s work, through the Holy Spirit and His means of grace to convert us and sanctify us in saving faith through Christ Jesus our Lord. The words of John 6:28-29 are also reflected in those of 1 John 3:23:

And this is his [God’s] command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

It is only through saving faith in Jesus that we can accomplish God’s purposes for our lives. Without faith in Jesus, our firm foundation, no work is a good work, no purpose a fruitful one. Jesus truly is the way, the truth, and the life. Our focus must steadfastly remain on Him and the work He did on the cross rather than on ourselves. Then our purposes will flow forth like streams of living water with no forethought on our own part.

In my own “spiritual journey” to try and become more Christ-like and accomplish God’s purposes in my life I find I often fail. At the end of the forty day “road trip,” I am back where I started, at the foot of the cross. The more I notice my failure, the more I am confronted by my sin and the Law. It is then that I turn back to the cross and the Gospel, where my faith is strengthened as I seek forgiveness, hope and renewal. On my journey, I haven’t really noticed that I’ve become more Christ-like, instead I become more and more aware of the fact that I am a sinner, and with ever increasing understanding and joy I appreciate what it was that Christ did for me when He hung from that cross in agony and proclaimed to the world “It is finished.” For Jesus sake! Amen.

To read or download Diekmann's entire essay, choose one of the following links:

Word (.doc) Format
WordPerfect (.wpd) Format
26 June 2005
  What's the Matter with Kansas?
Less than you might think.

In 1895, William Allen White bought himself a newspaper. In 1896, he made himself nationally known through an essay he wrote and published in The Emporia Gazette, asking, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" This brief piece, reprinted by the Republican Party and distributed throughout the midwest, pinned most of his state's political and economic woes on mindless, self-seeking populism.

These days, much of the rest of the country again asks, "What's the matter with Kansas?" Liberal elitists and believers in the religion of Science cannot believe that these rubes put into office a state Board of Education which refuses to rubber stamp Evolution as the sole teaching on origins allowed in the public schools.

While some think that special interests manufactured issues and introduced a Board at odds with the state's general views, today's Kansas City Star included an article referencing a new survey. The poll indicates that the Board of Education reflects the thinking of the electorate: "31 percent said it should require that theories other than evolution be offered; 24 percent said criticism of evolution should be allowed; 25 percent said only evolution should be taught; and 20 percent were not sure." Furthermore, "When asked which best described their view on the origin of life, 39 percent said creationism; 26 percent said evolution; 16 percent said intelligent design; and 19 percent said other."

Of course, pro-evolutionists have their own take. Liberal Board member Sue Gamble blamed the results on a populace that's been "woefully undereducated." What she fails to mention is that it was a godless curriculum put in place years ago that informed the thinking of a large number of those polled. We almost should be surprised that Creation (Intelligent Design, if you will) fared so well.

And while asking, "What's the matter with Kansas?" we should continue by asking, "What's the matter with the United States?" The Star article indicates that while not everyone believes in the Genesis account, a majority of Americans at least favor Creation being taught beside evolution. A March Gallup Poll is cited: It "asked Americans whether they would be upset if public schools in their communities taught creationism &mdash 'the idea that human beings were created by God in their present form and did not evolve from other species of animals.' A majority, 76 percent, said they would not be upset if creationism were taught in their schools, while 22 percent said they would be upset."

"What's the matter with Kansas?" If we look at the survey numbers, the state actually lags behind the nation in favoring a design- (and Designer-) based alternative to evolution being taught in the schools.

Ironic, isn't it: The Right (whether religious or political) is often accused of lock-step, fingers-in-the-ears fundamentalism. Yet it appears to be the Left which fears allowing its beliefs to be studied and compared through careful (dare I say, "scientific"?) examination. Are they afraid they'll lose what little faith they have?
  Wanted: Dead and Alive ...
...with props to Paul, the prince of paradox.

I love preaching a series from Romans. The Law/Gospel structure, word play, and theme development practically build my sermons for me. This Sunday, we see how being dead in Christ makes us dead to sin and—grace upon grace—how participating in His death makes us truly alive!

With the heat of summer settling across the midwest, what a nice time to invite the flock to splash about in the font with me and the rest of the saints.
  Even Aardvarks Get the Blues
So do a lot of other Christians.

Pastor Walt Snyder talks about mental and emotional health problems in the life of the believer. We shouldn't be ashamed to need or to seek help—if any "shame" clings to the issue, it's in the eyes of misguided Christians who falsely fear or wrongly judge those who suffer depression, bi-polar disorder, and the like.

So, after treatment, why am I still seeing those little aardvarks running around the house? Oh, yeah. It's the kids.
25 June 2005
  Lutheran-Eyed or Lutheranized?
Sometimes, it's all in how you look at it.

There's a certain class of Christians which tries to "baptize" every useful or interesting item crossing its path. Sometimes this happens with things of the world (such as psychology or sociology or music). These "Christianizers" attempt to keep as much of the original as possible, merely painting over the secular body with a thin gloss of religion. A good, if grating, example of this is "Christian Rock"—something which often ends up being not much of either.

A more subtle form of the practice occurs when members of one confession, synod, or denomination see something in another that they just have to have. For exhibit one, see David Luecke's Evangelical Style and Lutheran Substance. In this book, Luecke attempted to wed conservative Protestant spirituality with Lutheran dogma, apparently not realizing that eventually one or the other must out. Such behavior isn't new: C. F. W. Walther, first president of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod warned 19th Century Lutherans of the dangers of incorporating Methodist hymnody into worship. He realized that if a church sang, prayed, and worshiped like another church, it would eventually become that other church. He knew that you can never "convert" false doctrine or Lutheranize a non-Lutheran world view.

However, while we cannot "Christianize" or "Lutheranize" every secular thought and practice, we can be Christian-Eyed and Lutheran-Eyed. That is, when we know Scripture and Confessions, we can unflinchingly examine the world around us, often finding object lessons and illustrations of theological truths even in the most secular of circumstances.

Literature, theater, and motion pictures all provide ample opportunity for us to exercise critical theological thinking while still enjoying the subject at hand. For example, the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?—the product of two secular Jews from the northern United States concerning the lives of Evangelical, Bible Belt people—"drips" Baptismal theology. Note how Pete and Delmar "get saved," choosing to be baptized by the "lotus eaters" in the river. Meanwhile, the more "sophisticated" Everett mocks their superstition, holding to modern thought and science as keys to success. Finally, when facing certain death and utter destruction at the hands of the Devil (Sheriff Cooley), all three are saved, paradoxically and quite "Lutheranally," by the destructive power of water as the TVA flood sweeps over them. None of them chose this baptism; all three were saved by it.

So be Christian-Eyed. Find Scriptural, theological touch-points in the everyday world. Just be careful what you drag into your heart and your church.
24 June 2005
  Which Theologian Am I?
You scored as Martin Luther. The daddy of the Reformation. You are opposed to any Catholic ideas of works-salvation and see the scriptures as being primarily authoritative.

Karl Barth




Martin Luther




John Calvin


Friedrich Schleiermacher


Jonathan Edwards


Jürgen Moltmann


Paul Tillich


Charles Finney


Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
21 June 2005
  Tag ... I'm It
An adventure in literary frivolity continues.

I've been tagged by Bob Waters. I'm copying the rules of engagement from his blog:
Imagine that a local philanthropist is hosting an event for local high school students and has asked you to pick out five to ten books to hand out as door prizes. At least one book should be funny and at least one book should provide some history of Western Civilization and at least one book should have some regional connection. The philanthropist doesn't like foul language (but will allow some four-letter words in context, such as expressed during battle by soldiers). Otherwise things are pretty wide open. What do you pick? ... Bunnie adds these requirements: 1) one book must be something you're a bit embarrassed to admit is on your favorites list, 2) all books would be suitable for adults and 3) one book changed the way you look at the world.

  1. For my funny book, I could pick 90% of my library; I'm funny that way. Right now (although it might change in a few minutes) I suggest The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (link includes reference to etext) by Mark Twain. Yet this is not only fine humor but also Twain at his best at critiquing that "peculiar institution" of slavery. As alternatives (also covering regional American topics and Western Civilization) any number of the collected works of Walt Kelly's Pogo still ring true. The greatest difficulty here would be for younger readers to figure out who Kelly represents in some of his caricatures.

  2. I could easily return to the well of Twain for both regional (American West and Midwest) and Western Civilization resources. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Roughing It all fill the bill. If these high school students are smarter than the average Aardvark, I'd recommend Huck Finn or Roughing It.

  3. In many people's eyes, I should be embarrassed to admit that I own even one—let alone, nearly all—of the works of Louis L'Amour. I further confess that I have learned history and geography from some of his later works.

  4. No book more influenced my worldview than did/does The Bible. After that, a huge train wreck arises at second place. Any of the above would merit strong consideration.

Now it's my turn. The rules don't say how many to tag, so I'm going to follow precedent: I tag Steve Billings, the Ruminating Lutheran Cleric, and David Brazeal of Horn+Swoggled.
20 June 2005
  New Buttons for Lutheran Bloggers
Thanks, Xrysostom.

Pastor Walt Snyder took a break from answering questions to come up with some 80x15 blog buttons (including one for yours truly). As he notes, please download the images and upload them to your own server to save his bandwidth.
19 June 2005
  C-Minus in Argumentation
Two can play at this game. Only one will win.

David Brazeal over at Horn+Swoggled accuses yours truly of cheating my way to the top of blog lists. Practicing eisegetical argumentation, he accuses me of using the spelling of my name in order to get to the top of alphabetical lists of blogs.

Fie on him! For one who so desires to be taken seriously as a journalist with his (excellent) Cross+Wise, he goes to extraordinary lengths to disabuse readers of that notion with Horn+Swoggled.

Does he want me to descend into modern adspeak? Would he have me rename this blog "R-D Vark R Us"? Now granted, the double-A beginning of my commonly known species name is advantageous: However, if I really wanted to cheat, I'd throw in a few gratuitous punctuation marks prior to the site title. "!!!Zee Aardvark!!!" would sort ahead of "Aardvark Alley" in most computer generated lists. He has given me a good idea, though: I could rename this blog to "!!!AAA Aardvark Alley!!!".

No, if David wants to move up in the world (at least in alphabetized blogrolls, he should consider using "Brazeal, David" as a blog title. Of course, if I similarly operated, I'd still be ahead of him with "Afer, Orycteropus". Let's face it, David: There's no way you're ever going to get ahead of this aardvark, whether you cheat or not.
16 June 2005
  The Little Blue Sex Offender

Will Rogers said, "I only know what I read in the papers." While I still rely heavily on dead trees, I remain an informed aardvark by also browsing various electronic news sites and Google News. Needless to say, it usually doesn't take much digging to find something ridiculous into which I can sink my teeth.

Today's farce: Viagra given free to convicted sex offenders. Evidently the flack started in late May in New York, a state usually on the cutting edge of weird but actually this time working to stop rapists, child molesters, and other sexual predators from receiving free erectile disfunction drugs courtesy of United States taxpayers through the Medicaid program.

Immediately after the NY news broke, politicians across the country climbed all over each other, denouncing the lunacy of allowing bureaucrats to blindly follow federal regulations, thus placing weapons back in the hands of multiple felons.

That such programs could exist at all addresses the skewed thought processes of too many career government workers. Suppose the country had a program providing rifles to lower-income people so they could go deer hunting—would these same government drones have so blindly followed guidelines as to rearm convicted armed robbers and murderers?

Maybe I'll just stop reading ... at least long enough to sell my Pfizer stock.
  A Little Ambrosia: A Cup of Bierce

Ambrose Bierce, may have been Mark Twain's near equal in intellect and humor, and far exceeded him in savage wit. Of course, that makes him one of the Aardvark's favorite writers. Bierce is most remembered for The Devil's Dictionary, a satirical parody of the genre which mercilessly lampooned the society in which Bierce found himself.

As a Christian, and especially as a pastor, I cannot keep his definition of "Christian" out of my head:
One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
Here he nails not just the hypocrite and the clueless pew-sitter. All of us suffer this indictment to some degree.

The Old Adam seems to have a built in translation program: It can hear the Ten Commandments and twist each "you shall" into "he should" and "she should." Our sinful natures turn the absolutes of the Law into sliding scales so we might attempt to get away with as much as possible without stepping into our own imagined transgressions.

While his "teachings of Christ" doubtless centered around Jesus' preaching the Law, we cannot argue that we rightly understand and correctly apply the Gospel any more than we do the Law. Neither forgiving nor asking forgiveness comes easily to most of us. We turn the liberty granted by the forgiveness of sins into license and bring harm to our neighbor through word and deed.

Perhaps nothing in our lives better proves Bierce's point than does our understanding and application of Christ's imperative, "Judge not, that you not be judged." Constantly we weigh our faults against those of our neighbor and seldom (thanks to thumbs judiciously placed upon the scales) do we find ourselves wanting.

So rather than compound our guilt by holding Bierce's condemnation up before others, would we not be better off by holding it before our own faces?
14 June 2005
  How Dare I Say That:
Legal advice for bloggers.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), as part of its wide-ranging resources on blogging, has a newly revised and updated Legal Guide for Bloggers.

The Guide shows how to avoid libel and copyright problems and steer around other legal pitfalls. It's much more than a summary of what names you can call someone else. The main blogging pages similarly hold a wealth of information with details of how the Foundation works both reactively and proactively to protect the rights of (American) bloggers engaged in public discourse, reportage, humor, sarcasm, and the like. The information isn't exhaustive, but is quite thorough and wide-ranging.

So before your next strafing run, buzz the EFF collection and get your facts straight concerning both rights and obligations.
13 June 2005
  Calling All Bloggers: New Academic Survey
Blogging must be important, MIT is studying its participants.

I received a randomly generated email for the MIT Weblog Survey, being conducted by that university's Media Laboratory. Click the link and get your own key; it only took me 10-12 minutes to complete.

Why do I feel compelled to paraphrase Groucho Marx?
I will join no online community that would have me as a member.
  Only a Fool Says in His Heart ...
"I think I'll invent Clown Communion."

Others brighter and more current on ecclesiastical news have already weighed in and unloaded on the Clown Eucharist at Trinity Church (Episcopal) on Wall Street, NYC. While it certainly looks like "fun," it certainly doesn't look like "church."

Aardclown Writhes Again

Wanting to understand a bit more what drives people to such abominable liturgical practice, I started reading some of the companion material. IM(not so)HO, the bottom line appears to be using Scripture as pretext rather than normative text. In other words, what we have here is a bad case of eisegesis; that is, Trinity Church's brightest lights (this being a relative term) read their personal ideas and feelings into selected passages. Then they presumed to speak for God without having listened to Him.

Trinity used as a normative document (Lutheran!) minister Floyd Shaffer's If I Were a Clown, an excerpt thereof being posted at their site. Trinity Rector James "Don't Call Me Fennimore" Cooper then illustrates total lack of understanding of what God means by foolishness by totally misinterpreting and misapplying the "foolishness" passages in 1 Corinthians 3 and 4; a companion article quotes him saying that the activity was designed to "'tease out the foolishness themes' of Christianity."

Evidently Cooper et al. became the wrong type of "fools" because they're still "wise in this age." I'm absolutely certain that Paul wasn't clowning around when he declared, "We are fools for Christ's sake." True folly isn't big shoes, red noses, and pantomime: God's folly is the cross.

Paul didn't don a ridiculous costume, honk a horn, or throw confetti. No, he was such a complete and total fool that all he could do was keep preaching, teaching, and writing about "Jesus Christ and him crucified."
11 June 2005
  Could It Be Another Bloody Headache?
I pray God that finally they'll all "get it."

Tomorrow's sermon theme is Justified by His Blood from Romans 5:6-11. It seems that every time I preach on one of the "bloody" passages of Scripture, someone is offended, thinking that I'm too graphic.

Well, duh!

I've found nothing more graphic in history than the incredible suffering our Savior underwent on our behalf. So I guess I'll just let the blood flow during the sermon and, for those who get upset, pass the Pepto afterwards.
  Dave and the Barbarians
Putting the temporary in "contemporary Christian Music."

Peterson offers a thorough review and rebuke of a Dave and Barb Anderson concert. Cannot these two finally grow up, age gracefully, and act like the Lutherans they claim to be?

If I had a hammer,
Dave would have a headache....
10 June 2005
  Staunching an Epic Flow, or Luecke Here
Wherein our hero practices free association contrasting Luke 8 and loopy "missiology."

The words "Epic Flow" bring to mind something which needs healing: When a friend mentioned them, this Biblically-inclined Aardvark first thought of the poor woman described in Luke 8. Do you imagine that, after suffering an epic flow for twelve years, this poor lady would desire the flow to resume—let alone, spread to others?

Sorry to tell you, but another Epic Flow has been released. This unclean issue proceeds not from a woman, but from Royal Redeemer, a congregation belonging to The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod in the Ohio District.

As you can see for yourself on their (poorly written, sloppily edited) site, Epic Flow is a red tide of spiritual death. An amalgam of generic Protestantism, touchy-feely emotionalism, and pop psychology, this Epic is flowing forth from Royalton, Ohio into neighboring Strongsville, which already has a vital and vibrant LCMS congregation! The Office of the Keys, the Doctrine of the Call, even Justification by Grace through Faith in Christ are among the Flow's epic casualties.

If you wonder what sort of damage could spread, take a look at she from whom flows this tainted tide: Royal Redeemer's FAQ espouses doctrinally devoid anthropocentrism: "Being Lutheran isn't near [sic] as important as simply having a heart to seek Christ." It blatantly violates Scriptural, Confessional, and Synodical teachings on closed Communion: "Baptized adult Christians who know they need God's daily forgiveness, who are sorry for their sins and seek God's forgiveness, and who believe that the body and blood of Jesus Christ are truly present in the Lord's Supper are invited to share this great gift of God with us." (Sadly, few who know anything about Pastor David Luecke of Royal Redeemer have been surprised by anything they've read so far.)

I shudder to imagine the scabious and scabrous body that might form should this flow be allowed to coalesce.

Hmm ... perhaps a tourniquet ... around the neck ....
  Tearing Down the Ivory Dung Tower
Wherein the confessional McGruff takes a bite out of grime.

Liberals and African termites both gather together in monolithic structures designed to protect themselves from the outside world. The termites construct their nests from native soil, saliva, and their own excrement. These nests are some of the most weather-proof, critter-proof structures in nature. Most people call them "termite mounds"; aardvarks call them "cafeterias."

Liberals (especially of the genus theologicus) use glass, stone, failed ideas, misplaced idealism, and (the common denominator) their own excrement to build hardened structures, attempting to defeat the efforts of rational thinkers and responsible theologizers in penetrating their defenses and reaching the spineless creatures within. Most people outside modern academia call these structures collectively "The Ivory Towers"; Orycteropus Aferc'est moi——knows they are "putrid palaces of piled, petrified poop."

However, unlike my quadruped cousins, I sink my claws into these crawling quarters not to suck the life out of the inhabitants but to shake some sense and, God willing, breathe some life into them. I hunt them not for sport (although it is fun to tear into their treasured beliefs) nor in spite (although they've produced some of the most damnable dogmas this side of Satan himself). No, these claws aim to rip open sin-darkened structures in order to let the Light in. I desire to provide passage for the breezes of heaven to drive out the toxic atmosphere caused by generations inhaling and exhaling the same stale thoughts.

Yes, while I may joke about "eating liberals for breakfast," I actually prefer a few cups of strong coffee with a bowl of Scripture and a side of the Lutheran Confessions. Liberals taste nasty going down and often give me gas. No, as C. S. Lewis notes in The Screwtape Letters, these poor souls should worry about someone much more diabolical doing a much more complete job of devouring them.
08 June 2005
  LEGO® My Luther!
Brother Martin, the Old Testament scholar, certainly knew about bruised heels. So do any LEGO® parents.

Here's a way to bring the parties together.
07 June 2005
  I Am a C
You, however, might be just annoying.

Pastor Jim Strawn occasionally parodies a pop song to make a theological point. Today he takes a classic camp/praise/Sunday school song apart and reassambles it as a weapon pointing at the heart of contemporary "worship."

I am a C
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-A-M-E-L-E-O-N
And I have A-D-A-M living in my H-E-A-R-T
And I will C-O-N-F-O-R-M to all that pleases me.

I am a C
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-I-L-D of modern times
And I will R-O-C-K rock because it pleases M-E me
And I will P-I-T-C-H the L-I-T-U-R-G-Y

I am a C
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-I-C-K in slinky dress
And I will S-I-N-G sing in soft and sultry whispering
As though my lover were before me and not J-E-S-U-S

I am a C
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-A-R-A-C-T-E-R
And I will I-M-P-O-S-E me on everybody near
So I can R-E-C-E-I-V-E a laudatory cheer

I am a C
I am a C-O
I am a C-O-O-L singing kinda dude
And I will clown it up with lyrics that are really deep to me
And never think it just might be that I have no humility

I am a C
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N
So maybe Christ should do the speaking, teaching baptizing and such
And maybe I should be more silent when I really don't know much.
  Beauty and Beastliness
Narnifying the "battle" of the sexes.

Greg Alms examines gender issues, sex roles, women in combat, and the maleness of the pastoral office in light of a brief quote from C. S. Lewis.
  Lutheran: The Basics

Walter "Ask the Pastor" Snyder provides a handy summary of the major tenets of Lutheranism, especially justification by grace through faith, in "What Do Lutherans Believe?", the new entry in his online Q-and-A column.
06 June 2005
  A Dispatch from Fort Courage
In the spirit of the slapstick 1960s sitcom, the Aardvark shares a letter that recently fell into his claws and considers the possibility that F Troop prophesied current events in Christendom (at least in the LCMS).

My dear Orycteropus,

I pray you remember the trepidation with which I approached entering the service and the terrors I experienced when finding out that I was being sent to an outpost in the Great American Desert.

I can now reveal I have been detailed as a watchman and my duty station is the singularly ill-named "Fort Courage." Truly, it appears overrun with the faint of heart and the sick of spirit. Those in command seem completely oblivious to both the needs and the actions of the troops. The CEO, I mean CO, possesses the intellectual capacity of a half-empty pouch of chewing tobacco. His social skills are considerable when dealing with those of equal or superior rank but disappear like a desert rain before those unfortunates in the lower ranks. I must commend his devotion to his special lady, but speculators offer poor odds that she isn't the true brains of this operation.

Meanwhile, the venality of some of the lesser officers constantly reaches new depths. In the name of peace (and for the sake of comfortable duty assignments and the lining of pockets) they willingly sell of or give away most anything of value within the confines of the fort. Indeed, were it not established on such a secure foundation, I imagine that Fort Courage itself would already be an abode of the pagan savages who surround us. All the while, the troops remain generally oblivious to conditions within and without, pausing only rarely to consider the plight of their comrades-in-arms and, even more seldomly, to do anything about it.

Perhaps I was over-harsh: No, not about those on "our" side, but concerning the aforementioned savages. It seems that the barbarians are not at our gates but within. Everywhere men sleep on the guard. The bugler, assigned to raise a ruckus at the first sign of trouble, couldn't get a note from his instrument if his life depended upon it . . . and I fear it does.

I don't want to be here, yet here appears to be I must be. Both those for whom I answered the call and those outside both fort and faith similarly suffer the defects of the age. Yes, I shall remain faithful to my assigned watch. The close-by "savages" are perceived by many to be the enemy, yet they are as weak and foolish as any in the service. No, it's the clouds on the horizon that give pause: They gather and deepen, the dust of many strong foes marching upon us. I pray the troops awake from their stupor as I give the cry: "Wake, awake! Night flies and doom is at hand!" Such fools don't realize how well-fortified they are, nor that they are well schooled in the art of this terrible war. May they see the light, answer the call, and stand firm in the ranks.

Y'r ob'd't s'v't,
Ben L. O'Heem

Or maybe it was just a TV show.
04 June 2005
  Halloway? Now I Get It!
I scarcely remember a time without Ray Bradbury. Martian Chronicles is the first of his books I distinctly recall reading. If I had to assemble a Top 100 titles, I think I'd include three of his works: Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Something Wicked This Way ComesUnable to find my bathing suit, I took SWTWC to the swimming pool today. While the kids splashed around in the cement pond, I swam out into Bradbury's deep-water examination of good and evil. Still in chapter one, as the boys conversed with the lightning rod salesman, I had a 35-year belated epiphany. I've always understood how Jim and Will's lives form a light and dark parallel: Will wonders about the quality and effect of his goodness while Jim embraces the dark and secret places. Also, I never misunderstood the metaphor ofJim Nightshade's name. Yet only this afternoon, after probably dozens of readings spanning three and a half decades, did the family name of Will (and Charles) Halloway click.

Halloway ... The Highway of Holiness: Father and son follow the narrow path. Although both occasionally stray or bolt the trail, when it really counts, they accomplish good because they walk in the light. Even under threat of death, they don't turn aside. Yes, there's a lot of personal affection for Jim involved, and Charles and Will realize the untapped love they have as father and son. However, as the familiar story became new again, I see two who would be doing this not only for friend or family, but with something approaching agape would do good simply because good needs to be done.

Too bad that Ray attributes too much to the human spirit instead of the Holy Spirit, to man's goodness rather than the Good News of the God-Man Jesus Christ. Still the main points remain: Ignore, tolerate, or embrace evil and evil will consume; walk in the Light and the darkness cannot overcome. Good to remember whenever Something Wicked This Way Comes.
  Who You Calling Quia?
It better be me!

Any true Lutheran, whether he knows the term or not, is quia. No, not a sexual deviant, nor one possessed of an off-kilter personality.

Quia is the Latin word for "because." In theological lingo, it refers to the way in which we understand the Lutheran Confessions (Symbols) gathered in the Book of Concord (or Concordia). In other words, we believe these Ecumenical Creeds and Lutheran doctrinal statements because they fully agree with Holy Scripture. One who is quia may rightly be called a "Confessional Lutheran" because he without reservation believes that the Confessions are true.

"Queer" theology comes from the folks who take a quatenus approach: The word is Latin for "insofar as." Quatenus subscribers believe and follow the Lutheran Confessions only insofar as they consider the Confessions to agree with Scripture. Quatenus folk have a deviant, sub-Lutheran theology. They pick and choose what to believe and what to ignore, supposing themselves to be, if not brighter, at least more enlightened than Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, et al. Indeed, in these grey and latter days, many don't even use Scripture as a norm: They believe and follow Scripture and Confessions only when these agree with human reason, common sense, sinful desire, or the spirit of the times.

Thus: Be straight, be quia. Cuz if you know squat, you won't do quat(enus).
  Money Can't Buy You Love ... or a Baseball Team
Looks like the Kansas City Royals may not end up this year's loveable losers. And even if they do, most baseball fans will shower them with extra love after their mastery of Team Fort Knox. The bargain basement beginning of a youth movement showed talent and poise beyond its collective years in yanking George Steinbrenner's chain with a three game sweep of the Bronx Bumblers.

Looks like the underdog has all its teeth while the alleged top dog is searching for its dentures.
  The Luther Rose (or What's the Aardvark Wearing?)
Martin Luther said of the emblem he chose for himself, "I shall ... tell you my original thoughts and reason about why my seal is a symbol of my theology. The first should be a black cross in a heart, which retains its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. 'For one who believes from the heart will be justified' (Rom. 10:10). Although it is indeed a black cross, which mortifies and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural color. It does not corrupt nature, that is, it does not kill but keeps alive. 'The just shall live by faith' (Rom. 1:17) but by faith in the crucified. Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12). Such a rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed. And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in Heaven lasts forever and has no end. Such blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable, most precious and best metal. This is my compendium theoligae [summary of theology]. I have wanted to show it to you in good friendship, hoping for your appreciation. May Christ, our beloved Lord, be with your spirit until the life hereafter. Amen."

Martin Luther, "Letter to Lazarus Spengler," July 8, 1530, as included in the translation by Amy Marga from "Luthers Siegel: Eine elementare Deutung seiner Theologie," in Luther 67 (1996):66–87. Translation printed in Lutheran Quarterly, Vol. XIV, Num. 4, Winter 2000, pg. 409-410.
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