Saturday, May 30, 2015

Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity

I can't decide which one I like better. Have a happy Trinity Sunday, everyone! :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pontifex Minimus, or The Ecumenism Of Being Ladylike

Lutheranism is a tricky spot on the Christian map. We don't really like being called Protestants, but if we could get along with the Bishop of Rome we wouldn't be having this sentence.

So one thing we can do is feel alienated, misunderstood, ill-defined, and grumpy. Or we can be happy about the unique position we're in to understand the people on either side of us a little better, and maybe even do a little bridge building in a small-p pontifical way.

This is why, although Christendom is full of books about females who are totally OK with being females in the way that humanity has understood that until the last ten minutes of human history, LadyLike is out there. Part of it is that it's nice for anyone to be able to read a book that, for her, comes without asterisks. If I read a book written by someone from a different corner of Christianity, I know there will be some ideas that I don't share, or a framework of thought different from the one my mind uses.

Anyone from outside the Lutheran tradition will find that LadyLike has some asterisks for her. I hope it can offer her something helpful anyway by representing a Lutheran perspective on a shared belief: that male and female He created them; that she is a helper fit for him; that between them is a distinction with a difference that is more than a necessity of biology or an accident of history.

Women, as a subject and as a population, are quite ecumenical. Christians who hold to a biblical paradigm for men and women in family, church, and society have that as a powerful bond of peace even when they disagree about many other things. 

I don't agree with the Roman Catholic church's designation of Mary as the co-Redemptrix, but I gained a much better understanding and even appreciation of that teaching from reading The Eternal Woman by Gertrud von le Fort. Broadly defined Evangelicalism is neither a theology or a piety where I can hang my hat (or headcovering), but Elisabeth Elliot's invincible grace and gentle wisdom in Let Me Be a Woman make for one of the best treatments of Christian femininity I have ever read. I learn from both Simcha Fisher (a Roman Catholic) and Aimee Byrd (Presbyterian, PCA). I'm really, really glad they're out there.

Outside of some CTCR documents, whose significance in the universe remains unclear, confessional Lutherans have been skittery about putting up much in the way of, "This is what we think about chicks" (although Dr. Biermann at the St. Louis seminary is handling it menschfully). It is very humbling to have been the people who got a chance to say that, in a small and kind of silly way, with LadyLike. I thank all ladies from other Christian traditions who are willing to read a book with some asterisks attached for the sake of the different facet of unity to which it may contribute. And I hope it will be a real help and comfort to women in my own tradition who can never get enough solid statements of how we understand our place in humanity on the basis of the Lord's revelation to His people in His holy Word.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Piety by Pinterest: Morning Prayers

I did not go looking for this so as to be reactionary, but having bumped into it honestly, I reacted. 

Let's start with the control group. Here is Martin Luther's morning prayer:

"I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger, and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen"

The essence of this prayer is asking and thanking God for his protection against danger, recognizing that sin is the greatest danger. Its posture is total vulnerability and dependence. Its goal is to make it through the day safe in God's grace.

"God, this is a new day. I freshly commit myself to the role you have invited me to play, as you are building your church in this world. I am awestruck again today that you include me in this grand life-giving, world-transforming endeavor. So today I joyfully offer you my love, my heart, my talents, my energy, my creativity, my faithfulness, my resources, and my gratitude. I commit all of myself to the role you have assigned me in the building of your church so that it may thrive in this world. And I will 'bring it' today. I will bring my best. You deserve it. Your church deserves it. It is the Hope of the World."

The essence of this prayer is asking God to capitalize on the pray-er as much as possible. It sounds like the only danger this person faces is missing out on some speck of greatness she may have forgotten to put on her calendar. Its goal is to make it through the day having earned every gold medal there was to be had, for Jesus.

This second pray-er is playing for Team Church, so that's good. The prayer's optimism is not inconsistent with the hope that we have in Jesus and expecting good from God in every situation. But the difference between the two prayers is that the first proceeds from the theology of the cross; a position of complete humility: Nothing in my hand I bring/Simply to Thy cross I cling. All the first pray-er has to offer is her sin. The second wants to make sure the Lord knows that he's welcome to cash in on all those big MYs. 

But My creativity is not something I'd feel comfortable talking up to the Creator. I am not inclined to offer God my faithfulness or my best when He has explicitly told us  that all that belongs in the dumpster where it won't stink up the house. Considerations like these don't put me in the mood to start my day by telling Herr Gott allm├Ąchtig that I'm going to "bring it".

Luther's prayer is one I could pray no matter what my circumstances. Waking up alive is the only qualification for offering that prayer. The second prayer is one I would have a hard time praying on a day when I am sick or grieving or only have such un-transformative tasks ahead of me as the basic maintenance of order to which my lowly duties amount.

Well, here it is morning. Gloria patri!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Heaven. Is. A wonderful place.

But that is not all the Christian faith is about.

Don't get me wrong: I want to live in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. But the righteousness, innocence, and blessedness are every bit as big as the life everlasting. What I mean is, I want every awful thing I've done undone. I want the malicious words unsaid and the hurt people unhurt. I want all that terribleness made right. I want a clean record. If my sins are not annihilated, I might as well be. I've got no place in any new creation if I am just a poser there. There's no point in even thinking about heaven if I'm going to be dragging a bunch of sin there with me. I have more than enough sin to ruin heaven for everyone.

Um, Anonymous?
This is the problem Jesus fixes. He dies for sin, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God. He who had no sin becomes sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. They are inextricable. To want to go to heaven is to want to be forgiven. To be forgiven is to be a creature of the new creation. Our comfort looks back as much as it looks forward. Heaven, yes. But all that hell behind us? No. Gone. Paid for by the Lord of history. The promise of the future is in the redemption of the past. The unfixables are fixed. Those facts of your history aren't your facts any more.

You can't help going to heaven, Christian. You are forgiven.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dear LadyLike: Working the angles

Dear LadyLike,

What's the measure of each interior and exterior angle on a regular 20-gon?

Dear Young Lady,


Glad we could help!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dear LadyLike: I don't have a tesseract, but I want your book for Mother's Day

Dear LadyLike,

I want to order a book for my mom for Mother's Day, but now the availability date says 5/22! And Mother's Day is 5/10! What should I do!

Dear Panicky Lady,

We can't speak for other books that won't be available until 5/22, but if you're interested in pre-ordering LadyLike for a lady in your life, have we got a deal for you! Your humble LadyLike authors will be glad to send that lady an official postcard letting her know you have pre-ordered the book for her and thanking her for being a great mom, grandma, wife, friend, sister, daughter, or female. There is no charge for this service! If you'd like a LadyLike postcard to arrive at your favored lady's mailbox this week announcing your gift, please email us your name and her mailing address: ladylikings at gmail dot com.

One less thing!