Monday, May 31, 2010

the new Lil Rev bumber sticker

Thought I'd take a moment this morning to install my Lil Rev bumper sticker on the Focus, and a funny thing happened along the way. I started to unpeel the sticker on the back of the car, when I realized that this was not my car. I almost put a bumper sticker on someone else's car! That would have been simultaneously tragic and comedic. Anyway, here is the new bumper sticker.  The second picture captures what it looks like when a deacon contemplates the theology and/or geometry of a Lil Rev bumper sticker on a Ford Focus.

Eastside Milwaukee

Here's another perspective on Beertown. In particular, the great East Side. Enjoy.

The Society of Saint Polycarp - Its Rule

The Rule of the Society of St. Polycarp

As Lutheran Christians who understand ourselves to be a part of the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, we have joined ourselves voluntarily in a fellowship to be known as the Society of St. Polycarp. The Society is made up of Lutheran clergymen and laity committed to the confessional, liturgical, sacramental, and spiritual renewal of the Church of the Augsburg Confession. Since our Church's problems are not political, but rather spiritual, we pray God to grant us repentance, and seek no political aim. Members of the Society commit themselves to the following Rule.

1. Members of the Society confess Holy Scripture to be "the pure, clear fountain of Israel" and also "the one true guiding principle," i.e., the sole norm or "judge, rule, and guiding principle" of the same (FC Ep. Comprehensive Summary, 7; FC SD Comprehensive Summary, 3). We rejoice in the tradition of the Holy Doctors and Fathers of the Church, in whom Christ kept His promise that "the gates of Hell shall not prevail against (My Church)" (Mt 16:18), so that the Lutheran confessors could say that "the churches among us do not dissent from the catholic church in any article of faith" (AC Preface to XXII, 1, Latin). We reject all methods of interpretation that seek to understand the meaning of Scripture apart from the guidance of the Church, through which God gave us the Scriptures.

2. Members of the Society will promote the importance of daily prayer and meditation on Holy Scripture. Members will commit themselves to praying at least one of the daily offices, keeping fellow members as well as the Church Catholic herself in their prayers. The ideal use of the offices is in the corporate setting; however, the praying of the offices in private is to be carried out if there is no alternative.

3. Valuing Holy Absolution as "a voice from heaven" (Ap. XII, 40), members of the Society will avail themselves of the benefit of this sacrament, as well as promoting its use. Members will seek out father confessors of their own for regular and frequent private Confession and Absolution.

4. Members of the Society will promote the Sacrament of the Altar as the chief parochial service in the Church of the Augsburg Confession (AC XXIV, 34). Members will receive the Sacrament of the Altar often, as well as encouraging others to receive it frequently, thereby restoring the traditional Lutheran understanding of the central place of the Sacrament in Lutheran worship. As the Lutheran Symbols assume the weekly celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar (AC XXIV, 34-38; Ap. XXIV, 1), members of the Society will promote this evangelical and catholic practice in their own parishes and in the work of the Society.

5. As the Sacrament of the Altar is the true Body and Blood of Our Lord that is truly present, distributed, and received (AC X, German), members of the Society are committed to the evangelical and catholic doctrine of closed communion, i.e., not admitting to the altar to receive the Holy Communion those who have not previously been examined and absolved (AC XXV, 1-2), let alone those of a confession of the Faith contrary to that of the Church of the Augsburg Confession.

6. Members of the Society will promote the historic liturgies of the Church Catholic, since such liturgies shape pastoral practice and teaching that is consistent with the evangelical and catholic Faith as it has been handed down in Holy Scripture, the Ecumenical Creeds, and the Symbolical Books of the Church of the Augsburg Confession.

7. As the Lutheran Symbols confess the Blessed Virgin Mary to be "the pure, holy, and ever-virgin Mother of God" (Theotokos, Gottes Mutter), as well as "that the blessed Mary prays for the Church" (Ap. XXI, 27; SA I, IV, Latin; FC SD VIII, 24), it is altogether fitting, proper, and consistent with the Faith of the Church Catholic to honor the Blessed Virgin in liturgical celebration. Members of the Society will seek to restore the traditional Marian feasts of the Church of the Augsburg Confession (i.e., the Feasts of the Purification, Annunciation, and Visitation) as a testimony of the grace of God through her, that we might imitate the Blessed Virgin in word and example, and in thanksgiving for the Incarnation of the Son of God through her humble submission to the will of God. Members of the Society will also promote the observance and celebration of saints' days and commemorations. This is wholly in keeping with the evangelical and catholic tradition of the Church of the Augsburg Confession, whose Symbolical Books acknowledge the saints as fitting exemplars of the catholic Faith worthy of imitation, as well as our heavenly intercessors (AC XXI, 1; Ap. XXI, 4-9).

8. As the Church of the Augsburg Confession understands herself as a part of the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, particularly as she exists in the West, members of the Society will take seriously the commitment to the proper ecumenicity this demands. Members will pursue dialogue with:

- Fellow Lutheran Christians to foster and promote Lutheran unity.

- Our separated brethren in the Roman Church, with which the Lutherans at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 clearly sought reconciliation.

- The Eastern Orthodox Church, following the example of the exchange between the Lutheran theologians of the University of Tübingen and Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople (1573-1581).

This reflects not simply the Lutheran commitment to the unity of all Christians, but ultimately the will of Our Lord Himself (Jn 17).

9. Members of the Society will make every effort to make a retreat once a year for the purpose of disciplined prayer and study, silence and reflection, as well as the celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar.

Following the example of our patron, members of the Society ultimately strive to be faithful to Our Lord, recalling His words to St. John the Theologian: "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev 2:10). Members also pray God's grace that we may be able to hand over to our posterity the tradition we have received as Lutheran Christians, and that we may be able to confess with our forebears at Augsburg that "nothing has been accepted among us, in teaching and ceremonies, that is contrary to Scripture or the catholic church. For it is manifest that we have most diligently been on guard so that no new or ungodly doctrines creep into our churches" (AC Conclusion, 5, Latin).

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Whosoever will be saved

The Athanasian Creed is included among the other Lutheran Symbols with what are called in the Book of Concord The Three Catholic or Ecumenical Creeds (Tria Symbola Catholica seu Oecumenica).  As a man blessed by the vocation of traditionalist Lutheranism, I both see and accept the catholicity and the true ecumenicity of the creed pseudepigraphally called Athanasian.  It is noteworthy, however, that in one sense it seems a bit odd to call the Athanasian Creed "ecumenical," since, as some of the ecumenically crass enjoy pointing out, it is virtually unknown in the eastern traditions of the Church.  If someone wanted to be really down on the Athanasian Creed, however, he should come up with something more relevant, like the fact that it is virtually unknown in the West today as well, except among Lutherans who happen to be in church on Trinity Sunday, and a few other odd sectors of the Church. 

To be sure, it is and remains part of the tradition of the Latin Church.  Sadly, however, it has been swept under the liturgical carpet in the modern Roman Rite, and therefore is known and appreciated in that communion only in the realm of academic theology.  Among the Lutherans, the custom persists that the creed is publicly recited on Trinity Sunday.  This is a good thing.  It is an annual phenomenon, however, that after confessing this creed in church, people will later confess in conversation the various ways in which the Athanasian Creed is felt to be a stumbling block to them.  For some it is too long; for some it is too confusing; for some it is too intellectualist to be truly Christian; for some it seems to contain false doctrine. 

There are at least three approaches the Church could take to answer these concerns.  One would be to take Rome's example, and just sweep this seemingly irrelevant creed under the rug.  Now the disappearance of the Athanasian Creed from the Roman liturgy, to be sure, cannot be oversimplified, or ascribed to ill motives.  Nor did it happen in one sudden step.  Even when the Athanasian Creed was recited or chanted in the Roman Rite on a weekly basis, in fact, it was hardly ever heard by the common people, unfortunately, since the people usually did not attend to the Divine Office.  Nevertheless, it is hardly the only case in modern Roman Catholicism of a good ancient tradition being brushed aside.  There are whole psalms, for example, which have disappeared from the Liturgy of the Hours because imprecation is thought to have no place in the Christian life.  We could easily solve some of these problems associated with the yearly recitation of the Athanasian Creed by simply ceasing the practice.

A second approach would be to keep up our custom of disrespecting the proper place of the Nicene Creed in the Mass on the octave day of the Pentecost each year, and simply try to answer questions as they come up.

I propose a third way.  Namely, we should keep this creed as a regular part of our liturgical practice, only improve the way in which it is practiced.  This will have two types of benefits.  One is that the people will get to know it better, and the other is that as the pastors and teachers themselves get to know it better and make it more a part of their own hearts and thinking, they will be better teachers of its meaning and importance. 

What do I mean when I refer to improving the way in which the Athanasian Creed is practiced?  Several things. 
  • It should be prayed more often than once a year.  I propose every Sunday after Pentecost, as well as the Sundays after Epiphany.  Also in our schools perhaps once a week in the fall semester it would be fitting for chapel.
  • While there is nothing wrong with reciting this creed, a church with a choir might consider chanting it; likewise, a good cantor or choir might try training the congregation to chant it.
  • The true home of the Athanasian Creed is in the Divine Office.  So I suggest that our congregations (which don't yet offer any such opportunity) move towards having a morning order of the Divine Office, before Mass, as part of its Sunday worship.  Even though the Athanasian Creed is proper to the hour of Prime, this could work with Matins, Lauds, or Prime.  This would bring with it all the other benefits of the Divine Office in the parish.  It might start simply with the pastor praying his Daily Office publicly, in the church, and inviting the people to join him.
  • The Athanasian Creed should be prayed not in the form of a disputation, but in the form of a canticle.  For example, I suggest flanking it with an antiphon, like the one you will see below, and adding the Gloria Patri. 
Okay, so these suggestions will seem radical, but what the Church and the world need are radical Lutherans; Christians who, being deeply rooted in the confession of the only true God, boldly worship the Trinity in Person and the Unity in Substance, of Majesty coequal; followers of Christ who firmly believe and confess before the world His two natures and the unity of His Person. 

No one needs to follow my particular words of advice.  While they will be read by some as a mere attempt to repristinate a liturgical purity and hyperritualism, my main prayer is that the churches of the Augsburg Confession look afresh at their own professed confession, both of God (article I) and of Christ (article III), and reaffirm their commitment to take it seriously, and to search out fresh ways to make this confession a true reality.  We say, for example, that with common consent we teach that there is one Divine Essence which is God.  About Him we say, for example, that He is without parts, and yet among us we are satisfied with showing people misleading diagrams, which despite containing true words, picture God as that which can be cut up into parts, rather than the Pantocrator whom we adore.  We say there are Three Persons in this same essence, and that each Person is in no way either a 'part' or a quality, but subsists of itself, and yet is of the one and same essence.  This should inform our preaching, our theology, and our practice.  God is above all mathematics, as Luther said at Marburg, and yet we diagram Him like He were a product of engineers. Islamic theology sees a contradiction in the Christian claim that there is one God and three Persons. On our part we could do a better and more consistent job of confessing this mystery.  We say that the eternal Word assumed our own nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that His two natures, the human and the divine, and inseparably conjoined in one Person.  The Athanasian Creed does not, as too many even in our pews think, attempt to explain these mysteries.  Rather, it confesses them, and submits to them, in worship and adoration of the true and life-giving God revealed in Holy Writ.  Therefore I encourage a greater and more healthy use of this creed among us, both liturgically and devotionally. 

What follows is the Athanasian Creed, in its liturgical form.


GLORY be to Thee, O equal Trinity, one God, *
And before all ages, and now, and forever.

WHOSOEVER will be saved, *
before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith.

Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, *
without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the Catholic faith is this, *
that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity,

Neither confounding the Persons *
nor dividing the Substance.

FOR there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, *
and another of the Holy Ghost.

But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one:*
the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, *
and such is the Holy Ghost.

THE Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, *
and the Holy Ghost uncreate.

The Father incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, *
and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, *
and the Holy Ghost eternal.

And yet they are not three Eternals, *
but one Eternal.

As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, *
but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible.

SO likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, *
and the Holy Ghost almighty.

And yet they are not three Almighties, *
but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, *
and the Holy Ghost is God.

And yet they are not three Gods, *
but one God.

SO likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, *
and the Holy Ghost Lord.

And yet not three Lords, *
but one Lord.

For like as we are compelled by the Christian Verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, *
so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say, there be three Gods or three Lords.

THE Father is made of none, *
neither created nor begotten,

The Son is of the Father alone, *
not made nor created, but begotten,

The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, *
neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers, one Son, not three Sons, *
one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.

AND in this Trinity none is before or after other, *
none is greater or less than another.

But the whole three Persons are coeternal Together and coequal, *
so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He, therefore, that will be saved *
must thus think of the Trinity.

FURTHERMORE, it is necessary to everlasting salvation *
that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the right faith is that we believe and confess *
that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;

God of the substance of the Father, *
begotten before the worlds;

And Man of the substance of His mother, *
born in the world;

PERFECT God and perfect Man, *
of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead *
and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood;

Who, although He be God and Man, *
yet He is not two, but one Christ.

One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh,*
but by taking the manhood into God.

One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, *
but by unity of Person.

FOR as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, *
so God and man is one Christ;

Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; *
rose again the third day from the dead;

He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God almighty; *
from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

AT whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies *
and shall give an account of their own works.

And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; *
and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic faith; *
which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.

GLORY BE to the Father and to the Son *
and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, *
world without end. Amen.

GLORY be to Thee, O equal Trinity, one God, *
And before all ages, and now, and forever.


GLORIA tibi, Trinitas aequalis, una Deitas, *
Et ante omnia saecula, et nunc, et in perpetuum.

QUICUMQUE vult salvus esse, *
ante omnia opus est, ut teneat Catholicam fidem.

Quam nisi quisque integram inviolatamque servaverit, *
absque dubio in aeternum peribit.

Fides autem Catholica haec est, *
ut unum Deum in Trinitate, et Trinitatem in unitate veneremur.

Neque confundentes personas, *
neque substantiam separantes.

ALIA est enim persona Patris, alia Filii, *
alia Spiritus Sancti.

Sed Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti una est divinitas, *
aequalis gloria, coaeterna maiestas.

Qualis Pater, talis Filius, *
talis Spiritus Sanctus.

INCREATUS Pater, increatus Filius, *
increatus Spiritus Sanctus.

Immensus Pater, immensus Filius, *
immensus Spiritus Sanctus.

Aeternus Pater, aeternus Filius, *
aeternus Spiritus Sanctus.

Et tamen non tres aeterni, *
sed unus aeternus.

Sicut non tres increati, nec tres immensi, *
sed unus increatus, et unus immensus.

SIMILITER omnipotens Pater, omnipotens Filius, *
omnipotens Spiritus Sanctus.

Et tamen non tres omnipotentes, *
sed unus omnipotens.

Ita Deus Pater, Deus Filius, *
Deus Spiritus Sanctus.

Et tamen non tres Dii, *
sed unus est Deus.

ITA Dominus Pater, Dominus Filius, *
Dominus Spiritus Sanctus.

Et tamen non tres Domini, *
sed unus est Dominus.

Quia, sicut singillatim unamquamque personam Deum ac Dominum confiteri christiana veritate compellimur, *
ita tres Deos aut Dominos dicere Catholica religione prohibemur.

PATER a nullo est factus, *
nec creatus, nec genitus.

Filius a Patre solo est, *
non factus, nec creatus, sed genitus.

Spiritus Sanctus a Patre et Filio, *
non factus, nec creatus, nec genitus, sed procedens.

Unus ergo Pater, non tres Patres, unus Filius, non tres Filii, *
Unus Spiritus Sanctus, non tres Spiritus Sancti.

ET in hac Trinitate nihil prius aut posterius, nihil maius aut minus, *
sed totae tres personae coaeternae sibi sunt, et coaequales.

Ita ut per omnia, sicut iam supra dictum est, *
et unitas in Trinitate, et Trinitas in unitate veneranda sit.

Qui vult ergo salvus esse, *
ita de Trinitate sentiat.

SED necessarium est ad aeternam salutem, *
ut incarnationem quoque Domini nostri Iesu Christi fideliter credat.

Est ergo fides recta, ut credamus et confiteamur, *
quia Dominus noster Iesus Christus, Dei Filius, Deus et homo est.

Deus est ex substantia Patris *
ante saecula genitus,

Et homo est ex substantia matris *
in saeculo natus.

PERFECTUS Deus, perfectus homo, *
ex anima rationali et humana carne subsistens.

Aequalis Patri secundum divinitatem *
minor Patre secundum humanitatem.

Qui, licet Deus sit et homo, *
non duo tamen, sed unus est Christus.

Unus autem non conversione divinitatis in carnem, *
sed assumptione humanitatis in Deum.

Unus omnino, non confusione substantiae, *
sed unitate personae.

NAM sicut anima rationalis et caro unus est homo, *
ita Deus et homo unus est Christus.

Qui passus est pro salute nostra: descendit ad inferos, *
tertia die resurrexit a mortuis.

Ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis, *
inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos.

AD cuius adventum omnes homines resurgere habent cum corporibus suis, *
et reddituri sunt de factis propriis rationem.

Et qui bona egerunt, ibunt in vitam aeternam, *
qui vero mala, in ignem aeternum.

Haec est fides Catholica, *
quam nisi quisque fideliter firmiterque crediderit, salvus esse non poterit.

GLORIA PATRI, et Filio, *
& Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, & nunc, & semper, *
& in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

GLORIA tibi, Trinitas aequalis, una Deitas, *
Et ante omnia saecula, et nunc, et in perpetuum.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gareth Davis On Milwaukee

Check out this youtube video on Milwaukee. Davis does a nice little overview of some of the big name highlights of the city. There are videos that go deeper into the culture of Milwaukee, and I'll post maybe some of those on another day. One thing on which I definitely disagree with Davis is his thesis that Milwaukee is not a place one would travel halfway around the world to see. Only those who have not yet learned to appreciate Milwaukee like I do would hesitate to go around the world to find it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I get up in the evening

In 1984, before the release of the Born in the USA album, Bruce Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, suggested to Springsteen that he write one more song, one that would sort of pull the album together, and speak to his present situation.  The two had built up a great rapport over the years, and so if anyone could challenge Bruce in this way, it was Landau.  (It is worth noting that, since The Rising album of 2002, most of which was written in response to the 9/11 attack, Springsteen has also enjoyed a similarly productive relationship with Brenden O'Brien.)  Still, it can be a bit of a gamble to expect Bruce Springsteen to come up with another song in a timely manner.  He is not necessarily very predictable in this way.  Many of his songs have spilled from his pen fairly quickly, while in other cases he has gone over and over a song until he felt it was right.  A decade earlier, for example, he spent a full six months working on "Born To Run" in preparation for his break out album of the same title.  His perfectionist, and artistic, tendencies do not make for clockwork productivity.  In this case, however, it didn't take long at all.  Bruce sat in his room, with a guitar, and thought about the realities of his life as a rock musician, what frustrated him about it, etc.  What soon resulted was "Dancing in the Dark," an iconically Springsteen song, the depressed and frustrated lyrics of which, typically for so many of his songs, are layered, musically, by an upbeat sense of optimism, and even a sort of joy, which I think comes from his belief in human potential.

Why this bit of Springsteen history?  Just for the fun of it.  But also because in my present circumstances I find that I relate to this song in ways that I rarely have in the past, even down to the situation described in the first lines, of a man whose work keeps him up at night:

I get up in the evening, and I ain't got nothing to say.
I come home in the morning; I go to bed feeling the same way.
I ain't nothing but tired; man I'm just tired and bored with myself.

This will be hard for some to understand, but I'm telling you truthfully that for the past few weeks I haven't been able to spend any time online, or even look at email.  At home I'm too tired, and at work, where I once was able to spend some of the quiet night shift time online, I'm not able to do so anymore, due to the practicalities of my current job.  My intellectual pursuits, so vital to my life, often come into direct conflict with the quotidian requirements and realities of my workaday life.  And lately it has been the latter that has utterly taken over.  That's okay; I'm not complaining, only explaining that from time to time that is what happens.  I apologize to anyone who has wondered about my existence.  I see that I have two or three hundred emails, and I will be trying to look them over.

By the way, in the real world, where I live and work and make my way in this life, I have been greatly blessed with many friendships.  These people, many of whom are getting nickel and dimed just like I am, are valuable parts of my life.  They are more real to me, and mean more to me, than the Lutheran bureaucrats who believe themselves so relevant.  But I digress. 

I guess this post has no theological value.  Just wanted to say, basically, that there are things that have kept me away (definitely not lack of things to say), and that, for now, I'm back.  A blessed Pentecost octave to all.