Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Lutheran Carnival

Well folks, yours truly is the host of Lutheran Carnival VII on October 9th, the post date will be (at the very latest) Sunday October 11th-- I'm going to have to fit in the Carnival with school work and "book-pushin."

Now, for those of you who haven't seen the Lutheran Carnival click here to dig on it. That said, if you think you'd be down with sending an entry there are some "guidelines" for entries we have to follow, and Dan over at Random Thoughts of a Confessional Lutheran has had to "tweak" the guidelines a bit. Since I work retail, I'll probably have to work the closing shift on 10/9 so feel free to get those entries in early so I can read them and get them worked on.

Well, have fun and happy writing. I'm looking forward to reading the entries.

Monday, September 26, 2005

God is My Plum Line

I just drove 1/10 of the United States, that is I drove through five states today: Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virgina, Ohio, and finally, Indiana. This weekend my family and I went back to Accident, Maryland. Accident is a small town in the western most county in Marland, Garrett County. It is nesteled in the southern range of Appalachains. Garrett County is tucked in between the southwest corner of Pennsylvania and the the two northern arms of West Virginia. Accident is a small farming community. We lived about four miles outside of town in an area called "the Cove." It is not a lake, but a bowl, or valley and that was my home for nine years-- from the age of 12 to about 21, or so. It is in short rural and I love it.

We went there for a dedication of a newly renovated interior of the church. As a minister's son I moved around a couple times and I'm sure just about any minister's kid would agree when I say one of the things we as a "sub-culture" feel is this: we don't really have a place we can call "home," particularly if their father moves every five or six years. I felt that way too for a long time, but I can say this honestly: Accident, Maryland is my home. That is where I pretty much grew up. It gets harder and harder to leave everytime I go back.

I walked through the cemetary that is next to the small church. In the back couple rows are the stones of people that I knew-- Hubert Thomas, Harvey Harman, Louise Dillon, Alverta Dillon, Claudine Opel, and Grandma Esther Margroff... saints all of them. They are all in Heaven singing the songs of salvation. Each one of them is in my heart. They passed on to me in their own ways their faith, a simple "of the earth" faith. An example: yesterday in a bible study they were talking about the book of Amos. They were talking about Amos 7, I think, the section about the plum line. The pastor asked what a plum line was for. Elmer Hanft said you need a plum line to keep things straight," he went on: "when you set up a saw mill you have to have a plum line..." "why?" "if'n you don't the boards won't be straight, they'll be skinny on top and fat on the bottom." "how does that fit with faith, elmer?" "well, God is a plum line, too, his law keeps us straight."

I'm not sure if I can really quantify everything I fel this weekend in words. I can say this, though, it felt good to be in the mountains and the air smelled delicious and my heart smiled and my faith was strengthened. And God is my plum line, too.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Lutheran Carnival

The Lutheran Carnival needs submissions. I know there are Lutherans out there that have something to say. Say it! Don't be afraid. We don't bite... to hard.

Here are the directions for submission. Go ahead, its fun!

Hymns and What They Do For Me

What is it about Lutherans and singing? Garrison Keillor, the Prairie Home Companion Guy often talks about how Lutherans can sing a four part harmony at the drop of the hat and do it all day. Just give us an organ and hymnal and we're good to go.

I am a lifer in the Missouri Synod (LCMS). I was brought up on the "red," aka "old" hymnal, the 1941 edition. I knew the liturgies by heart. I knew that the "regular service," as I called it, started page five and the communion sevice started on page 15. I have these services still pretty well memorized. The "red" hymnal was "my hymnal." When I was confirmed I was given hymnal with my name and date of confirmation (May 29, 1988) embossed on the cover in gold. I cherish this "hymnal. It is one of the things that grounds me in my faith. I find myself pulling it down from the shelf every now and again opening it up and just reading the hymns like poetry; they are quite powerful at times and always beautiful.

Somewhere along the way, though, I went to churches that used the "blue" hymnal, or, as we LCMS'ers call it the "new" hymanl. This one was published in 1982. From what I understand this hymnal started out at a joint venture between the LCMS and the ELCA (or as some of in LCMS circles like to say the "E*CA). Actually, that was before the ELCA was the ELCA (they ELCA is an amulgamation of a two different synods that merged... that's neither here nor there, though, for the sake of this I'll just refer to it as the ELCA and be done with it). I never found the "blue" hymnal to be as user friendly. The hymns didn't get me as excited and I certainly couldn't follow the liturgy-- mainly because I couldn't find it. It was tucked somewhere deep into the first part of the hymnal, I've gotten more used to it, but my church doesn't use it. They print the liturgy in the bulletin (its more like a little weekly booklet, actually).

I am a life long member of the LCMS. Lord willing, I'll be a womb to tomb LCMS'er. I was baptized, comfirmed, hopefully someday I'll be married and buried in the LCMS. I love the hymns and the singing. Hearing the congregation sing out in joy of their Salvation is something to behold. Sure, there are people that can't carry a tune to save their life, but no one said they had to be able sing, its all about making a joyful noise unto the Lord, isn't it?

Garrison Keillor is right, though. He has a good time poking fun at Lutherans and our way of doing things, but his thoughts about our singing border not on hilarity, but something more... almost reverance. I have distinct memories of being transported and having "mountaintop experiences" while singing hymns with fellow Lutherans, I could tell the Holy Spirit was in our midst. The hymn singing transcended typical hymn singing and become something else, entirely.

I've written in the blog about my feelings regarding "contempary worship" and I still stand by them. I am a traditional worship kind of guy. I like the sound of the organ soaring high and above the voices and the way those voices intermingle with the organ.

Now this next admission might get me booted from Lutheranism: I don't like singing "A Mighty Fortress." I think the music is beautiful and the words are truly uplifting, but the song itself is almost unsingable. I think its because the English translation doesn't quite "go" with the music. However, this hymn knocks me out. I mean it really cuts to the chase for me. And spells it all out. It is the mortar to my faith-bricks and as I read this section of the Apology of the Augsurg Confession it becomes even more important to me. To be fair, though, I must say that I do have a favorite "modern hymn" and it comes from this little hymnal supplement, its called "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry." This hymn is very close to my heart. It has touched me in many ways:
I was there to hear your borning cry.
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized
To see your life unfold.
I was there when you were but a child,
With a faith to suit you well'
In a blaze of light you wandered off
To find where demons dwell.
When you heard the wonder of the word
I was there to cheer you on;
You were raised to praise the living Lord,
To whom you now belong.
If you find someone to share your time
And you join your hearts as one,
I'll be there to make your verses rhyme
From dusk till rising sun.
In the middle ages of your life,
Not too old, no longer young,
I'll be there to guide you through the night,
Complete what I've begun.
When the evening gently closes in
And you shut your weary eyes,
I'll be there as I have always been
With just one more surprise.
I was there to hear your borning cry,
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
To see your life unfold.
(Hymn 770 in With One Voice)

I am not a very musical person. I can kind of sort of play the piano and I tried to play the trumpet for a while, but I enjoy music. It uplifts me and strengthens my faith and for that I am most thankful.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

My Library

He's something fun. I found this website which is a place you can catalog your library. So, I started doing it. I have about 75 books so far Go dig on it. Have fun.

You can kind of see some of the things I'm interested in. I haven't gotten to my theology books, yet.

Away We Go, Again

With Hurrican Rita bearing down on the Galveston Island, Texas, I thought it might be a good idea to review a book that highlighted the deadliest hurricane in American History. It is an unnamed storm, that destroyed Galveston in 1900 and killed over 5,000 people. The book:
issac cover

I read this about five years ago, shortly after I started working for Barnes & Noble. I was living in Houston at the time and it was the 100th anniversary of the big storm. I picked up the book kind of a whim one day and I couldn't put it down. It was an amazingly good book. I recommend the book almot weekly, it was much better than this book (which in its own right is well, written, but I just liked Isaac's Storm better. Here is the other book:
white city">.

I just hope everyone get the heck out of dodge and that the hatches are battened.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005




You just have to click on the photos and read them. I found this card at work today. How exactly do was one "believe on" someone? Oh, and did you know that the earth is only 6,000 years old?

A Brandon Update

It seems that hurricanes have it out for Brandon. I chatted with him earlier tonight and he told me that he will probably have to evacuate again tomorrow from Port Neches, Texas. Hurrican Rita is headed in that general direction. He evacuated from a suburb of N'awlins three weeks ago.

This may be the cynic in me, but you know, I can almost see the hope in the media's eyes... hoping that Rita heads the directon that Katrina did. Imagine that story... they must all be hypervenalating over the excitement...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Keyword Search Ministry

Recently, I put a webtracker on my blog just to see who comes to my blog and see what they do when they are there. I didn't know this when I did it, but there is also a section that records key word searches that end up at my blog. So far there have been four keyword searches that have lead to my blog. The first three had to do with empty gas tanks, I had to chuckle at that, I just found the funny, but I'll admit that I found it very interesting, too. I didn't know that there were, I think they're called Spiders, traveling through this site. Then there was this one that came today. They came through Ask Jeeves and the search string they used was this: "why did jesus christ take my place on the cross?" here are the hits that were generated by the query. What's funny is that I don't even remember writing the post they referenced there. I hope it helped. I really do.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hooo, Boy

Well, ladies and gents, it looks like yours truly, the Disgruntled World Citizen (aka Loofrin) will be hosting the Loofrin Carnival on October 2, that is if Dan tha Man from over at Random Thoughts of a Confessional Lutheran got his dates right. I'm actually looking forward to this. So start thinking and writing about some good Loofrin topics. I'm thinking maybe I ought to put a topic down, seeing how we'll be celebrating Reformation Day on Oct. 31'st (I take that day off from work... its a religious holiday... I drink beer that day).

Maybe a topic worth writing about is "Why I'm a Lutheran." But it won't be a requisite to write about that. Of course, my hosting is a couple weeks away... I guess we'll see.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Working Things Out

Today, at work, as I was going through my section of House and Home books )scanning for returns to be sent back to the publishers) I found myself thinking about the things I read in Book of Concord. And I made a connection. I have faith in God and I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour. Now, then, I have faith in that faith that what I believe is true and that I'll someday, be in Heaven. I call it "having faith in my faith." I think all Christians, in their own way have to have faith in their faith. It THAT faith, the "secondary faith," if you will, that seems to trip me up the most and I think it is that secondary faith that causes most of the divisions in Christianity. That secondary faith, at least for me is that little voice in there somewhere that asks "is it enough?" Its the one that says "you know, you can't get something for nothin'." Its that little seed of doubt that I have to continually put some spiritual herbicide on. Reading the BoC has been good for me. It has given me confidence that faith is enough.

Maybe I'm thinking too much on it. Maybe, I should, as the Beatles once sang, "let it be." I dont know. Comments welcome.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Warm Feelings

"For it is certain that forgiveness of sins is received through faith alone."
-- Article V Apology of Augsburg Confession (line 37, page 133 from the Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord)

I've started plowing my way into the 5th article of the Apology Augsburg Confession (which actually means "in defence of.") It has been an amazing and fascinating experience. I find myself saying quietly as I read "yeah, that's right," "right on," "yep," and "wow, that was deep."

I've found myself underlining passages in pencil and scrawling notes in the margins.

They make it sound so easy. Faith. You are sanctified through faith. Through faith you are saved. Its not works. Being a "good person" doesn't give you a "get out of jail card." At some point, I'd have go back get the exact quote, the Apology says something to the effect of: "if you depend on works for salvation then you negate Jesus' sacrifice." Wow. We cannot, through our own designs, save ourselves. The faith that we received through the Holy Spirit is the only sure fire way.

I have been accused by friends of going a little overboard with research. I find a topic that interest me and I go and do research on it learn all I can. As a result of this need, I have found myself running (okay, walking) to my bookshelf and pulling down Walther's Proper Distinction BetweenLaw & Gospel and the CTCR (aka Commision on Theology and Churhc Relations)Document regarding Justification. I even went so far as to dig out my copy of Klug and Stahlke's book Getting into the Formula of Concord I may not need that right away, but its good to have that on tap.

I'll have much more to write about as I continue to read, my mind has to work through it all.

"... we are not justified by the Law, we receive forgiveness of sins and reconciliation through faith for Christ's sake. This is not because of love or the fulfilling of the Law; it follows neccesarily that we are justified through faith in Christ." (paragraph 38, page 133).

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Call from Brandon and Other Things

I got a call today from my college friend who is a pastor in the New Orleans area, he is on the west side of that submerged city. His new born baby is doing well. He sent me pictures of her the other day and I emailed back telling him "no more baby porn." The child was nekkid and quite exposed. I didn't need that. I also told him she looked like a defeathered chicken. He laughed and threatened to tell his wife. There is joy in the birth of his daughter, it brings happiness to bad news, his cousin, an N'awlins cop commited suicide last week. He was mentioned in an article the other day in the Wall Street Journal. He left notes behind, but Brandon wasn't too sure what they said and I didn't press.

Brandon's church has serious water damage and will have to be gutted, or maybe rebuilt. His house, he said, is okay, not much damage there. Brandon is not sure when he will be able to actually go back home. He did go back briefly to survey damage. He said to me that he could smell the city fifty miles out. He said it was a combination of rotting flesh, sewage and oil. Brandon also told me that it is hard to really comprehend what happened.

In other news, I'll be hosting the Lutheran Carnival in the next few weeks-- I think its the week of the 18th, I'm looking forward to that, but I know I'll have a lot to live up to and big shoes to fill. The last Carnivals have been great and well done. I'll do the best I can to keep it quality.

I had a great idea the other day, but I don't want to be responsible for setting something like this up. Wouldn't it be boss (an old timey word meaning "cool") to get all the Lutheran bloggers and take a trip to Luther's stomping ground in Germany? We could all meet at St. Louis and fly from there. That would be cool. Okay, there it is, someone run with it.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Faith works

I have been working my way, slowly, through the The Book of Concord. When I mean slowly I mean, a page or two here and there. I don't do marathon readings of the book, I just can't. My eyes start to glaze over. I'm still working my way through the aritcles about justification and it has been fascinating. I wrote a few entries back that it seems that Philip Melanchton worked really hard to say the following in as many different ways as possible: "you are justified through faith. Through faith you are justified. By faith, not works, has Christ justified you in God's eyes. You are forgiven through faith..."

Those words are such sweet nectar to me. I am a sinner, I sin constantly whether I want to or not, but through Faith my sins are forgiven. All of them. Each. And. Every. One. Of. Them. In this world of "you can't get something for nothin" that is a tough pill to swallow. I often find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I think that is why we still try and "make ourselves right with God" by any means necessary. I have to be careful here. I dont want people to think that I am saying one should not do things that are God pleasing (i.e. volunteering, or other good works). I think it is important to look at the second chapter of James, verse 14, 17: "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?... In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead." To the first part of that I can say this "yes, through faith I am saved, Paul says that over and over again through out his epistles. To the second I can say this: "faith is as faith does." Because I have faith and am justified I feel the need to do good works and minister to others through them. I don't have to do them, my faith is enough, but I want to do them because "faith is as faith does."

Still Hurts, Four Years Later

"What was September 11th?"
-- a young cousin of mine

This is an amazing link filled site dealing with all things September 11th. I snagged this from Big Dan the 'fessional Lutheran.

I just finished watching the movie about Flight 93. The flight that crashed (actually, was flown into) the ground in Shanksville, PA. I think that was the first time I have actually had tears in my eyes since 9/11/01. The last time I remember being choked up was watching the second tower come down, and seeing the big antenna fall straight down, pancaking the floors below.

I was already keeping an internet diary back in 2001. This is that last post I wrote before the world changed. Here is the first entry in a new world, a world insane. Going back and reading entries like thisone brings it back. Sometimes, if I see a picture of it or think about what happened I pause, I wouldn't believe it if i hadn't seen it. This entry still makes me feel good. And this one is the realization that nine one-one will forever mean more than an ambulance. If you only read one link from this read this one.

In one of the grad classes I am taking this semester I have to do an anotated bibliography on a topic of my choice. I'm seriously thinking about doing it on all the books, movies, and articles I can find on 9/11. The reason is the above quote. My cousin who was, I think, maybe, one or two in 2001 asked her mother that question. I almost take for granted that everyone knows what 9/11 means, heavens, we hear that phrase and read it almost daily in the newsmedia.


I think I like this one even better:

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Yeah, I'm Still Around

I'm being a bad Loofrin today. I worked late last night and I just couldn't get myself going early enough this morning to go to church. Eight o'clock is just too earl-eye inna mo'nin to go to church. The object when one goes to church is to get something out of it. To learn or be inspired. My eyes are barely open at that hour, particularly after I've worked the night before...

I've been a bit lax about writing in here. I'm sorry about that. I just haven't had much to say lately.

I was reading the Apology of the Augsburg Confession the other day and I must say I just started to chuckle. I could almost hear Malanchthon saying to himself "okay, how can I say this more clearly..." in regards to salvation through faith. And once I started going down that path I could see Melanchthon saying "well, maybe if I stand on my head, or wave a big flag, or hop around on one foot and shout it out "they'll" get it." I know that sounds silly, but that's the way it sounded to me. He kept hammering away at that basic theme. I've always thought that Book of Concord was a circular document-- that is it has the basic themes throughout its pages, but it makes big circles from a starting point back again hitting the same points, but as you go further into it the circles get bigger and the explanations get deeper. That didn't come out right...

Well, I have to get ready for work. No rest, or football, for the retail dogs.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

R.L. Burnside-- R.I.P.


I heard yesterday from my friend 'Bek that one of my favorite, if not my favorite bluesman died yesterday. R.L. Burnside died yesterday. I didn't want to believe it, but I wasn't surprised. I confirmed it just now on

He was one of the last great bluesmen. He was a bridge from the old blues to the new. His music is often in my cd player (matter of fact he's jammin in there right now). I remember the first time I heard him on the radio 90.1 KPFT in Houston. I fell in love with his music instantly. It was balls to the wall blues. The more I heard the more I liked. He opened the bluesgates for me. I'm sad right now. But, I have a dead-homies shot ready to go in honor.

The band in Heaven just got better. Rock on R.L. you're gone, but not forgotten.


Monday, September 05, 2005

how i became a "loofrin" a true story

*an aside* this is the only place i'm "known" as "the disgruntled world citizen" but my usual screenname is "loofrin." i've been "loofrin" for almost 10 years. its an identity, much like to other i am known as "pnut." here is the story of the birth of "loofrinism"

i've only been to new orleans once when i was in high school. it was the summer after graduation and before college. i was 18. i was there for a, believe it or not, a lutheran youth gathering. 35,000 lutheran teenagers and chaperones. we were in the superdome, that's where we met. i stayed in a hotel that looked out over the mississippi, i think. it was in new orleans that the name "loofrin" was coined.

my group and i were walking somewhere, probably to the superdome or to our hotel, i don't remember exactly. all the participants of the youth gathering had these garish purple backpacks, so naturally we all had our purple backpacks on and suddenly this white haired old lady came over to us. i seem to remember being in the middle of the street, matter of fact i think we were in the act of crossing the street when we were "accosted." this little white haired lady, who was wearing a blue dress and pearls came over to us and started gushing: "are y'all loofrins? you gotta be loofrins! i recognize yer backpacks. my grandson is over there in the dome he'pin out. he's a loofrin...."

that was the day "loofrinism" was born in my head. it was a few years later that "loofrin" was born. loofrin came about because i needed a screen name for an aol account. i remember sitting in front of my computer thinking and contemplating. who could i be... and suddenly that little white haired lady in the blue dress and pearls popped into mind... ya'll loofrins? ya'll loofrins?

that's how i became loofrin. that's my new orleans memory.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I got an email from a Con-You friend of mine (and fellow Behnken boy) Big-Sean Reeves. That's the Revrund Big Sean Reeves to you, suckas. Anyway the Rev Reeves told me that Brandon was okay (which I knew already, but didn't mind reading, again). He also told me that Nare, another guy that I knew, but not real well, from Con-You who went to Ft Wayne Seminary, hadn't been heard from as of the other day. I'm sure that has changed. I should probably drop Doc Duder a line, he'd know. Nare (pronounced Nar-ee) is a pastor in downtown New Orleans. His church is probably gone-gone, but I don't know that for sure.

I have heard, but again can not varify, that the LCMS has said to teachers (I haven't heard this about pastors as yet) "so sorry, no school, no teach, no pay and that, if there is a position for them somewhere in Spring they'll will let the teachers know. I certainly hope this is false. I hope, and pray, that LCMS is more caring than that.

This whole hurrican thing has really highlighted a conversation I had a long time while cleaning firepits with the Rev. Most High Paul Goeke (who is now a for real Rev down in the "holy lands" of Texas-- and I don't mean that Texas is Holy, there is a heavily Lutheran part of Texas that is called "the holy lands..." never mind). As we dug out a particularly ugly and charcoal filled fire pit we started talking about how we as a nation, had become so dependant on electricity and modern creature comforts. He, the Rev Most High, postulated that we had lost our survival instinct. I'd say the survival instinct is strong, but the creature comforts, well, yeah, that is an understatement. We have become so dependant on phones and even email that we become almost unreachable without either. The thought process doesn't quite work here in words as it did in my brain when I was thinking about it.

I'm going to get in contact with Brandon in the next day or two and find out how things are going. I'll keep this blog updated on his situation.

Blessings to all.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

i just got a call from my friend brandon. he evacuated from baton rogue on saturday, at the time it was a voluntary thing. his wife was 8.9 months pregnant. he called to tell me he was alright and that... his wife delivered a baby last night at 8;45 or so. a little girl, 5lbs (somthing oz) and aobut 18 inches long... a tiny thing. her name is janey louise. no problems with delievery. brandon is not sure what damage was sustained to his house or his church (he is a pastor) as far as he knows there is water damage, but that is it. this takes a load off my mind. i hadn't heard from brandon since the hurricane and i was beginning to go a bit stir crazy. i was calling mutal friends, but i couldn't get in contact with them, either. brandon called about 1130. i don't think i've ever been so glad to hear that lousiana drawl.

prayers answered.