Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hmm, Its Sunday, Its 105 Degrees... Must Be... Indiana?

Its so hot today. Not even funny how it is. This is Texas hot. I mean its brutal hot out there. I walk out of the house and I'm instantly wet with sweat. I sweat in places I never even knew I had. Its that bad. The heat index for today is something like a 105 degrees. I can distinctly remember a day when I was working at camp (I believe it was the summer of '99-- that's the year we had those cool denim Sunday shirts) it being (according some of the folks that were dropping their kids off) 109 degrees in the heat index category. I had fun telling people that "camp was canceled this week cuz its too hot." For some reason, no one believed me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My Feelings of Patriotism and Faith

"America, F**K YEAH!"
-- Theme song to Team America: World Police

See what happens when I put a silly little survey in my blog? No, its a good thing. I'm glad I'm able to write about this. Away we go!

Let me tell you a story. For a short while I went to a State University in Pennsylvania. It was a medium sized school, about 5,000 students or so. This was right around when the Political Correct "thing," if you will, became stylish. At the time I was taking a class called multicultural education. That was fine, I knew that if I became a teacher I would have racially mixed classes-- matter of fact I was quite looking forward to the idea. However, one day we were told that we were going to have a "multicultural day" in our class. That meant that we had to bring something of our heritage (that is something of our ancestory). I have a problem: I've been raised as an American, I'm of German decent (hence my last name of Lindner) but I don't have any "artifacts" from the "fatherland." For some reason, though, this assignment got my hunches up. At the time I was a "Rush Limbaugh Ditto Headed reactionary conservative," so I did the only thing I could think of-- I brought an American flag to class.

I have an American flag that used to fly over a state park in Maryland. They were going to get rid of it and one morning when I got to work at the park I asked if I could have it. They said I could, so I took it home. I still have it today, its hanging on my wall behind me. That was the flag I took to class. I had it in a bag ao no one could see it and when it was my turn to talk about my heritage I took the flag out of my my bag and hung it on the wall in the class. The professor was not pleased. I told the truth. I basically said that I was raised as an American. I was not a German-American. I can't speak a lick of German accept for a few words here and there (i.e. schnell) which I probably picked up from watching war movies. My heritage is on that wall, right there. Red. White. And blue. With all its warts and scars. That is me. I honestly thought I was going to fail because of that little speech. That was the day that I think I finally got it, though.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret while I'm at it. That flag is on the wall. The blue field is to my left when I look at it, as it is supposed to, but on that flag is a small playing card that I have paper clipped to it. The card: a joker.

I am patriotic, but I get sickened by over the top displays of patriotism. I became quit disgusted by all the "flag waving" I saw immediately after the 9/11 attacks. I wanted to shout "WHERE WERE YOU ON 9/10?"

I have a great amount of pride in my country. I have freedoms that are precious and are worth fighting for. As a Lutheran blogger, which I seem to have become, I can say that my freedom of religion to worship God as I see fit is paramount to everything else.

I believe in freedom of expression. I get very nervous when people start telling me what I can and cannot read, watch, or see. Because nine times out of ten I will run, not walk, and get ahold of that very thing I wasn't supposed to see, read, or watch or listen to.

Its an amazing thing to hear some one yell "America Sucks!" I have to laugh. Go ahead, yell all you want about how badly America Sucks. Maybe it does, but you know something, you're allowed to shout that all you want.

I believe we should protect the right TO burn the flag. Granted, when you burn the flag you're doing the same thing as punching me in the face, so, I reserve the right to defend the flag.

I strongly believe in stict seperation of church and state. I don't think there should be prayer in public schools.

I like baseball. I don't like NASCAR. I don't particularly care for apple pie. I like football. I'mma good old American Franco-phobe. I believe Ronald Reagan was the greatest president of the Twentieth Century. I voted for George H. W. Bush, twice and his son, W., twice. I like my steaks rare, my potatoes baked, and my beer cold. I like my rock & roll loud. I drive a Chevy. I like Kid Rock. I get a lump in my throat when I hear Lee Greenwood's song about being proud to be an American.

America: love it or leave it.

Since this blog, though, is more about faith and things of that nature I feel like I should swing this badly written diatribe back around in that direction. So, here goes: my patriotism is much like my faith. I have a small joker card on my flag. I have a big old question mark on my faith. God tells us in scripture to question everything and to make decisions. I find I get the same feeling when I look at the cross and the flag a feeling of awe. That flag has some serious emotional ties to it. I often think of the sacrafice untold numbers of my fellow Americans have given for me. The soldiers that have died for me so that I may have freedom. That's a form of grace isn't it? The fact that someone, who I don't know, is willing to take to the front lines so I don't have to? Isn't that what Christ did for me? He took his Cross up so that I didn't have, too?

Let's see if this dog hunts: Faith is like patriotism, or perhaps Faith is Patriotism in God. That sounds horrible, dumb even, but if you think about it, it might make sense.

I look forward to your comments.

I'm Proud to be an American

You Are 84% American
You're as American as red meat and shooting ranges.
Tough and independent, you think big.
You love everything about the US, wrong or right.
And anyone who criticizes your home better not do it in front of you!

Monday, July 18, 2005

N'awlins and What Happened Since

I saw recently in some Lutheran publication we get (it was either the Lutheran Witness, or the Reporter) that the next youth gathering is going to be held in New Orleans. I have been to two youth gatherings. The first was in Denver when I was a freshman in high school, that must of been the summer of '88 (and for those that understand the reference, I was in the downpour at Red Rocks Ampitheatre). And the second gathering was four years later in New Orleans in the summer '92. That experience I hope I never forget. If there is one thing that I can point to and say "that's where I got IT and understood IT" then the NO gathering would be it. I was old enough to truly appreciate how much deeper the Word can be. The first gathering was "fun" for me. I had a blast, but the NO gathering, there was something that really got me and turned on my "faith pilotlight." I had one of those "mountaintop experiences" that threw me for a loop. It was also there that I felt for the first time a true calling by God to witness and I began to think about the ministry seriously.

I remember the night pretty clearly. The speaker that night was a pastor who used to live in New Orleans. He told his life story (he had gotten poliopas a small child), but he also told about a particular kid he got to know and ministered. His name was Cody and Cody was one of those kinds of kids that no one wanted to be around or associate with-- mainly because he always seemed to be in trouble. Cody got involved in drugs and the like and was eventually on the wrong side of a gun barrell and killed. But the story that this pastor (whose name suddenly escapes me) told was amazing and I could feel myself changing inside as I listened to him. It was a light feeling, a feeling of comfort and peace, of joy and comfort. At the time I was at best a marginal Christian (or as I like to call it a "stand up/sit down" Christian-- meaning I knew when to stand and sit and I knew the words, but they didn't have that much meaning to me). But for some reason that night things started to turn around and God settled in my heart.

That wasn't the only experience I had with church that summer. The other experience was being the Synod President's personal page at the Synodical Convention in Pittsburgh. Basically, my job was to figure out who was at what microphone and what order they had to be recognized. I got to see how church politics works. It was... interesting.

Its been a long strange trip since that summer in '99. My faith has grown, but it has, at times, shrank. I have been to the "mountaintop" a few times and been stuck in the muck and valleys a few times, too. I have learned the beauty of prayer and comfort of meditation on the Word of God and I have known the feeling of guilty conscience telling me I'm no good and that God doesn't love me.

Whenever I get to that point of fear and loathing (to steal a phrase) I just remember that chant from N'awlins.... "Who Dat... Who dat... Who dat say the gone beat God's saints...?" The answer? No one.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Uh-oh... LCMS Bloggers... Beware...

Friends and countrymen and fellow malcontented bloggers... Rev Wookie and Layman Pnut have teamed up to form a new blog...

wookie-pnut are rollin. Lord help us all...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Spiritual White Flag, Sort Of

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

-- Hebrews 6:4-6

My father's best friend is 180 degrees different from him. They've been friends for over fifty years in the last four or five their relationship has changed. My father, as most of you know, is a retired pastor. He was in the pastoral ministry for 40 years. His friend is a screaming atheist and he's gay. My father's friend came out of the closet after his wife of 30 some years died (yeah, we have a hard time wrapping our brain around that one, too).

My dad has been trying to witness to his friend for many years. They met when they were students at Brooklyn College. They were in a student organization called the SCA, which is short for the Student Christian Association. Somewhere along the line my dad's friend lost his faith and lost it hardcore. This has been weighing heavily on my father's heart. He has been trying to figure out a way to witness to his friend. HE has been stalwart to say that least. Yesterday, when I came home from work my dad sat at the kitchen table with me and said that he had found something in the Bible that spoke to him. He must of praying about it earlier in the day and God answered his prayer, but not in the way he wanted Him to.

He read me the above passage from Hebrews. He looked at me, with sad eyes, and said I think God is telling me something with this. I know he won't give up. My dad is pretty pig headed (and in this case I'm glad he is).

As with all things this has many levels. Deep. Many facets. I think my dad really needed those words, though. It seemed to give him peace somehow. He hasn't resigned and given up on his friend, but I think he realizes that there isn't much he can do. He will continue to pray for his friend, but realizes now, after a few comments this weekend from his friend-- who was visiting us the other day-- that he can't do it. His friend's heart is hardened. Its tough to see my father like that. His heart is so God filled he is one of the most religious men I know. He lives what he preaches. To see him with that look in his eyes of pure helplessness in regard to his friend was heartbreaking to me.

As we talked he said that he had also gone back and reread John 3:16-21. Which is pretty cut and dry. We all know john 3:16 pretty well, but as we talked I discovered that we both agreed that what came after that was even more important:
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:16-21

It would seem like this was a depressing talk and in some ways it was, but I think that a load was really taken from my father. He knows that he can only do so much. He knows that it is only through the Holy Spirit that his friend can find faith. HE will do what he can. I'll continue to pray for my father and his friend in this regard.

Monday, July 11, 2005

In Memory of Adam

The above picture was taken in August of 1999. This is the last picture that was taken of Adam (he's in the red shirt) and I and it is one that I treasure. Within a week I was in Canada going to plays and he would be dead. I'll never understand why you did it Adam, you were a great friend and an angel that I needed.

I hope you found peace. I really do.

Adam C. 7/28/77-8/9/99

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Vote Kinky Friedman.

A Question

Why is that when people come back from communion they look like they are in the deepest mourning? Don't they realize what they just got?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Takin the Load Off

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
-- Romans 7:15-25

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
-- Matt. 11:25-30

Those were the readings we had in church this past Sunday. I worked Saturday night and I did my best to make sure I wouldn't get out of bed on Sunday morning. I stayed up a late after I got home and I didn't turn on my alarm clock. I knew I would only be able to go to the early service because I had to work on Sunday afternoon so I couldn't go to the late service. I tried to worship at St. Mattress. I knew that I had to wake by at least 0700 so that I could eat, dress, and get to church on time. I planned not to go. I tried really hard.

I woke up at 0630 and I couldn't fall back to sleep. Believe me I tried, but it has been my experience that those days I really don't want to go to church are the days I really need to be there, ironic how that happens. Maybe its God tugging at my heart, or maybe its my conscience saying "Karl, you need this today, really bad." I was fully awake, which in and of its self is strange. I don't do well at 0800 (be it church anything else). But I was cogniscent and all the lights were on in the olde braine pan.

I sat where I could be alone to a certain extent. On the right side of the church (the pulpit side).

As the readings were read I listened closely. The Romans passage is an all time Karl-edifying passage (right up there with Paul's Thorn in 2 Cor). Romans had some resonance with me (as it usually does-- I think Paul wrote Romans to me). The Matthew passage was interesting to me because I had just read that a few days before.

I found myself concentrating real hard on both passages and a sudden image came to my mind, a connection if you will. Roman passage is pretty self-explanatory (once you get through the crazy sentence structure). Basically to me here is what Paul means in Romans: "I want the cookie, but I'm not allowed to have the cookie. I want the cookie but you tell me I can't have the cookie. I want the cookie so I'm going to eat the cookie. I wanted the cookie, so I at the cookie, now I feel guilty, but I wanted the cookie even though you said I couldn't have the cookie. Now tomorrow I'll want the cookie again, but you won't let me have the cookie, but I'll eat the cookie any way even though I know its wrong." Over simplified, perhaps, but the meaning is there. As I live in the world I find myself tempted and tested. And sadly, I often fall for the temptation and fail the tests (see why the Paul's Thorn is so important to me?) I fall for the same things over and over again, my stumbling blocks, if you will.

Its hard work fighting those temptations and being tested. So, along comes Jesus saying telling me to give him my yoke and he'll take my burden (that Matthew passage). Here's the thing I got: the yoke is the thing that is put over and around the neck and shoulders of oxen. Its a heavy thing, bulky and wooden. Lets take this a step further. When I look at a yoke what am I reminded of?

The short piece of the cross. I have read that the condemned that were sentenced to death by crucifixion had to carry the short piece of the cross to the place of death. So, as a result, the popular image of Christ carrying his whole cross is I believe fiction. This fact, though, helps with the connection I made.

Because I am a sinner and I do the things I shouldn't even though I know I shouldn't (I eat the cookie even though my mom told me I couldn't-- in other words) I am saddled with this yoke called Death. What does Jesus tell me: "Give me your yoke, I'll carry it for you and make your burden lighter," or perhaps better said "Give me your Cross I'll carry it for you and I'll even hang from it for you..."

That thought just rocked my world. I had never really thought about it like that. He tells me to give it to Him. He'll take it. He wants it, but he knows I'm going to fail and fall and I'm not up the task. But its not just me. Its everyone. All the world, all creation. In short, US! You, Me, the guy on the train next to you, the woman in the booth in the restaraunt, that kid on the skateboard... all... of... us. He wants our burdens, our yokes. He wants our Burden, He wants our Yoke.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I'll Put THIS Can of Worms Away

I really didn't mean to open a can of worms. It wasn't my intention to disparage anyone's way of worship, actually, in the last few years I've gotten more comfortable with different ways of worship. After I wrote the post about my hymnal I started to think about why I had written it. I realized this: I feel comfortable with "5/15." Its what I grew up with and I get a warm fuzzy when I think about it. It reminds me of my father's ministry and that's a good memory for me.

Jim, in a note, was right, too. We shouldn't put too much stock in something was written my men.

As I reread the posts I realized that what I said sounded awfully harsh, particularly about the "Sunday morning camp fires." Heaven knows, I had more then a few serious spiritual-knocks-about-the-head at camp fires my four summers at Lone Star. I learned about the power of a simple song that has powerful meaning, but sometimes, sometimes that doesn't work for me-- sometimes I need a good old fashioned full boar organ filled hymn.
this is an audio post - click to play