". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Slice of Heaven

The Divine Service is often referred to as a slice of heaven, and rightly so. When we go to church to have our ears filled with God's Word and our stomachs filled with Christ's Body and Blood, we truly experience a foretaste of the feast to come.

Recently, working as a reporter at the 66th Regular Convention of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, I feel as though I had a week-long slice of heaven. My husband told me it was the happiest he's seen me in a long time. No offense to my kids, who weren't there. :-) But I agree--this past week was the most relaxed I have felt in ages.

Thinking about why that might be, I can't help reflecting on the past 3/5/7 years. It's been a rather long slog. For the first time in a very long time I find myself in a place in life where there isn't a huge life change, crisis, or ordeal either in the very recent past or near future. It seems like many things are finally falling into place. I give thanks for that blessing while telling myself that the current sense of settled-ness could change at any time.

But I think there are also some very concrete reasons that I found this past week so relaxing. I was working, yes. But there was so much that I didn't have to give thought to. I didn't have to figure out what to make for supper. I didn't have to clean. I didn't have to do laundry! I didn't have to make decisions about what needed to be done any given hour of the day because it was all laid out for me: go to this meeting, report on that committee, write that article. With all the walking I also got a good deal of exercise. And then there was the worship three times per day--one day it was even four! Not to mention being surrounded by people, over a thousand of them, who know whence their help and salvation come, and the joy of seeing and spending time with many good friends and several dear ones. 

Sometimes I have thought of heaven as a place where we have ultimate freedom, not only from sin, but to do the things that make us happy. Right now I'm thinking heaven might be kind of like the convention--freedom from having to think about what to do because God has it planned out for all eternity and it's all good! 

Here are a few pictures from the week.

Totally staged first day pic, pretending like I know what I'm doing. 
Thank you to my friend Katie for taking this. 

A few of the contract writers. These ladies rock! 

A few old friends. Lovely young lady and babysitter extraordinaire from a former congregation, and 

homeschooling Lutheran moms!

 Post-convention date with hubby.

Hubby with The Prez.

Friday, July 15, 2016

I blinked.

I just returned from a 9-day trip out of town with my husband. During that time---

My 20-year-old daughter ran the house, played chauffeur to her 12-year-old brother, and today picked me up at the airport.

The aforementioned 12-year-old calmly rode out a tornado warning while he was home alone and his sister was having lunch with a friend.

My 23-year-old logged another week in Schlern, Italy, playing the first of two performances he will give there, and visiting Seiser Alm and Cremona.

Who are these competent, self-sufficient people and what have they done with my babies???

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Donald Trump, the Supreme Court, and Our Children

Last week the United States Supreme Court struck down a Texas law calling for more regulation of abortion providers in the Lone Star state. The regulations had been aimed at protecting the health and safety of women by "by requiring abortion clinics to meet the kinds of medical and safety standards that legitimate medical centers meet."

Also last week that same Supreme Court refused to hear a Washington state ruling forcing pro-life pharmacists to sell drugs that, by causing abortion, violate the pharmacists' religious convictions.

These two cases are perfect examples of why I remain unconvinced by the argument that conservatives who have rejected Donald Trump need to disregard all their reasons for not supporting him and do so because, if nothing else, he will at least put conservative justices on the court. In the first place, I don’t have great faith in Donald Trump to stand by his word. In the second place, the conservative cause has not fared too well with the Supreme Court of late, Republican appointees notwithstanding. Anthony Kennedy, who voted with the majority on both decisions, was appointed by Reagan. Reagan was arguably the most pro-life President we ever had. Yet here we are.

By way of reminder, here are a few more examples from recent and not-so-recent history of Republican-appointed justices not assisting the cause of conservatives:

1) Anthony Kennedy (again, a Reagan appointee) joining with the liberals on the court on gay marriage.

2) George W. Bush appointee John Roberts' repeated bailing out of Obamacare.

3) The votes of Nixon appointees Blackmun, Burger and Powell with the pro-choice side of the Roe v. Wade decision.

4) George H. W. Bush appointee David Souter's turning out to be one of the best friends the causes of Planned Parenthod, the ACLU, and eminent domain ever had.

Time and time again this election season I have been told by some of my fellow conservatives that we are not electing a pastor but a President and that it is necessary for me to compromise my principles because Supreme Court. The events of recent days have only strengthened my conviction that doing so would be a devil’s bargain, a selling of my soul that would gain little in return.

As a parent trying to teach my child right from wrong, what has become clear to me over the last almost 25 years is that human behavior is much more influenced by example than it is by external rules. The old poem "Children Learn What They Live" got it right. Parents can talk unceasingly about telling the truth. If they are repeatedly dishonest in their own personal and professional dealings, that is what a child will learn. If they readily toss their convictions for reasons of pragmatism, children will learn that, too.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't have rules or teach principles of right and wrong. Of course we should. But rules don't change hearts. And in the heart/mind battle over decisions of conscience, it is usually the heart that wins. Why do you think we term something that has been truly learned as being "taken to heart" or "learned by heart"? The heart is where the rubber of our principles meets the road of our life--where gut checks happen and all that we believe is put to the test.

I am not saying that conservatives should give up. To the contrary, we need to work harder than ever before. But we deceive ourselves if we think the battle is ultimately going to be won in the public arena. The Supreme Court has demonstrated that it cannot be counted on to do its job. Conservatives’ best hope, then, is our children, for theirs are the minds and hearts we have the greatest capacity to change. We cannot hope to do so by voting for someone whose life and behavior make a mockery of everything we have tried to teach them.