Archive for March, 2011

Not to Generalize

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2011 by Country Preacher

The Lutheran Church has been called “The Singing Church” since the days of Martin Luther himself. We sing. It’s what we do. A trained Lutheran organist is ready for this. I have worked with organists from many different “faith traditions.” The only ones who know how to lead a congregation in singing are the ones who have been trained as Lutheran organists. I have even worked with professional organists who have played on some of the most magnificent pipe organs the world has to offer, and they can rock the organ in ways I can’t even imagine or comprehend. But when it comes to playing the Divine Liturgy (page 15/184) and leading congregational singing, I promise you that Gramda Schmidt on the ol’ Wurlitzer knows a whole lot more about it than they do.
Lutherans sing. And if you aren’t ready for that, your years playing the organ at First church of generic protestantism, or Our Lady of Perpetual Mumbles will not prepare you to play our service well. It just won’t. Which I why I so very much love and appreciate having two organists born and raised in the Lutheran Church. They just know how it’s done. I miss them when they are on vacation, and am always happy to see them when they return.


Conducting Public Worship – An exercise in Nostalgia

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2011 by Country Preacher

Two decades before anyone had ever heard of “Worship Wars”, Charles Merrill Smith wrote what is arguably the best book on practical pastoral practice.  (I would have said pastoral theology, but his book is more a look at the theology your people hold dear, than what God’s Word actually says.)

In his chapter on Worship (the title of which is also the title of this post) he explains how to pick “good” hymns.  The philosophy espoused in his book is the driving force behind the so-called “contemporary worship movement.”  I offer a snippet here, his take on “In the Garden” (After the jump).  The whole book is available for free download HERE. Continue reading

Requiescat in Pace

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2011 by Country Preacher

Harold Steeley, longtime member of Trinity Lutheran Church, was called to glory on Annunciation Day, 2011. He was a man who did his duty, fulfilled his vocation, and was faithful to God and his word.
I don’t think a Christian can have a better epitaph than that.

End of an Era

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2011 by Country Preacher

For a glorious decade  and a half, Pixar was the go-to studio for movies that didn’t stink.  Fun, wholesome, family entertainment that, as often as not, espoused good Lutheran themes. (Vocation, anyone?)  And, most importantly for my wife and I, no potty jokes.  Even otherwise good movies from Disney apparently needed an entirely extraneous unnecessary scatological joke.  (We almost didn’t buy the otherwise delightful Enchanted because of one)  At a certain point, Dreamworks movies were simply off limits to the children.  They reveled in such humor. (Shrek is just not for children.)  Not Pixar.  Clean, wholesome fun for the family, time and again.

The era is over.  Pixar is now planning only sequels to previous films, rather than original movies.  And Cars 2 has the obligatory bathroom joke.  This one so inappropriate that if it were live action, it would immediately garner a PG rating.   And it is included in the trailer.  That’s right, they are leading with it.  They think it’s one of the best parts of the movie.

RIP Pixar.  We will miss you.

Krauthammer on the Obvious

Posted in Uncategorized on March 18, 2011 by Country Preacher

Charles Krauthammer is once again forced to explain the obvious: The Social Security “lockbox” is a fiction.  A point I made in 1998 when the Social Security guy came to us in Seminary and explained the wonders of paying 15% of everything I will ever earn to others, so that others down the line can pay it to me.  My objections were twofold:

1) Sounds like a Ponzi scheme.  Aren’t those illegal?

2) We were assured that, thanks to recent bargains made in congress, the fund was solvent until 2037.  That would be the year I turn 65.  So, it was solvent until I attempt to retire.  I wasn’t sure how that was supposed to reassure me, but he seemed pretty proud of it, so we didn’t want to make him sad by pointing out the obvious.

3) The solvency only applies if you ignore the money going out faster than it comes in starting in about 2015.  In other words, the government has to come up with the difference.  How is the government funded? It’s not like they will simply sell more cars to remain profitable. Even if it did, they couldn’t do that right.  But in fact, the government gets its money from the taxpayer.  In other words, to make up the shortfall, taxes have to go up.  So, Social Security is only “solvent” through 2015.

But (and here’s the really ‘funny’ part), welcome to the future!  Thanks to the recession, receipts have dipped.  Meaning, we’re out of money now.

In retrospect, if the guy had come to the sem trying to sell us swampland in Florida with these parameters, he probably would have been arrested for fraud.

Anyway, glad to see that others are now taking notice.  And of course, Krauthammer says it more eloquently than just about anyone.


Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2011 by Country Preacher

I am simply aghast.  I was sad because my congregation didn’t know the tune to “Awake Thou Wintry Earth”.  Then I discovered that it is also the tune to “When all the world was cursed.”  Joy of Joys!  We can sing the song this Easter.


We can’t.

It was apparently more important that we include a song by Twila Paris than this gem from a Bach Cantata.

Oh yeah.  “Earth and All Stars” made it too.

Maybe the electronic edition will be of help?  No.  But if you want to sing the fine Amy Grant hymn “Thy Word”, you can.

At least they didn’t include “In the Garden of Eden” by I. Ron Butterfly.

Just Curious

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 by Country Preacher

What is the breath of fear?

How about the cup of dread?

Don’t get me wrong, I like the hymn.  I’ve just never heard of them, and I’m not sure what they are, or even if they are anything.

But to be perfectly clear, I really do like the hymn.