Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Canines: Still Man's Best Friend? Jury is Out

A disturbing story of attempted homicide:

Dog Shoots Man on Hunting Trip
It seems our "best friends" are getting a little uppity these days. Frankly, after I praised my dog Heidi quite publicly here just last week, I am disturbed that some dog would choose to attack its owner. Have they no shame?

Yet, there is also good news. Apparently this dog did not get the memo about turning on your master.

Are dogs turning evil? Only time will tell.

Luther Replaced By Robot

A Robot is discovered writing a copy of the Luther Bible. You'll notice from the picture that he has only one arm--thankfully!--thus cannot also saw you in two, crush you with his pincers or stun you with a death ray. But it seems slightly nefarious that this robot is writing a Bible. Is it really a Luther Bible, or maybe a Luthor Bible?

If you read it, beware robotic subliminal messages!

HT: Preacherboy

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Going to Heaven

"Will there be x in heaven?"

"Will Uncle Bill be golfing (or bowling, or watching football) in heaven?"

"Will Aunt Verna be playing bridge all day in heaven?"

If Christians don't ask these questions it's often the case that they believe them in the affirmative. Sometimes they cross into blasphemy, imaging that old Yvonne will be gossiping about her neighbors in heaven, or Cousin Ralph will be cursing the mosquitoes and lack of DEET.

People ask those questions because they know that Bill and Verna are not gone, that their awareness is not destroyed. They ask and wonder these things because they believe people continue to experience phenomena but cannot imagine what the phenomena are. Who could possibly imagine what the afterlife is like? St. Paul saw the the "third heaven," and said this about it (speaking in the third person), "he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Cor. 12:4 NKJV).

But Scripture speaks little about Paradise, as it terms it, preferring to speak of the Day of the Lord, the Great Day, the ambiguous "in that Day" when there will be no tears, when the deserts will be transformed, when all nations will stream to Jerusalem, when there will be no Sun nor Moon, when all thirst will be quenched and all diseases healed. These prophesies and promises do not describe a bodiless, spiritual existence, but the bodied life of the resurrection. Scripture almost always speaks of the resurrection of the dead and the "world to come" when it speaks of our salvation. It is therefore appropriate to call our future life in the resurrection "heaven," if it is shorthand for "Kingdom of Heaven" which implies resurrection. But it is unchristian to suppose our afterlife is an eternal separation from our bodies. That is what Plato believed, not St. Paul.

However, we must be careful about how we imagine the resurrection life to be. I cannot imagine bridge in Paradise. How could you hold the cards? Your hands are resting in the grave, after all. But in the resurrection we will have our hands and feet and they will be beautiful and perfect, glorified in an inexpressible way.

But will such things as bridge and golf be that important? How could we drag ourselves away from the presence of the Most High God, from Love Itself, Himself, to whack a ball around? I'm not suggesting that we will stand in one place worshiping eternally; I do believe that there will be Things To Do, the most important things for which we were created. St. Paul casually mentions, "Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?" (1 Cor. 6:3 NKJV). This is a mystery, but a mystery which suggests activity alongside the eternal praise and worship of the Uncreated Trinity. Asking whether that activity involves sports or cards (or sex) is akin to asking if sex involves watching football or eating steak.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Luther and Missions

I find it very sad how some Lutherans seem to wring their hands over Martin Luther's paucity of mission-talk. Some are embarrassed at how little the Reformer spoke of "witnessing" or "evangelizing" others. The Lutheran Witness has an apologetic article this month entitled "Reaching Out: Luther on Mission," which must say half a dozen times that there were "few opportunities" in Luther's day, and his world was "not conducive to promoting individual participation." In my seminary-mandated mission class at Concordia, St. Louis, a few of the "mission-minded" students were literally wringing their hands at the scarcity of historical mission models, discussion, and theology that Lutherans produced. And the instructor wrung his hands too!

They ask why and apologize and make excuses for Luther not being like the LCMS today. Some of this is understandable. People and culture and society have changed, does change, through the ages, and it is ultimate presumption (and logically fallacious) to assume that what we think and value is what all people have thought and valued. The problem, is that they ask why he's not like us instead of the obvious and reasonable: why are we different? Where have we changed? Is this a good thing, a bad thing, or an indifferent thing?

Weedon provided this quotation from H. Sasse several days ago:

Despite its decided rejection of false teachings which prevail in other churches, our church has never denied the presence of the church of Christ in the established churches of England and Scotland, in Holland and Switzerland, in Spain and Italy, in Greece and Russia. It has not tried, therefore, to conduct missions for the Lutheran confessional church in these countries, just as it has avoided the "evanglicalization" of Catholic territories in Germany. Let all those who accuse Lutheranism of intolerant confessionalism reflect on the fact that the Lutheran Church is one of the very few churches in Christendom which has never, under any circumstances, engaged in propaganda for itself or conducted missions among Christians of other persuasions. (Here We Stand, pp. 182, 183)
Did Sasse get his facts wrong? I doubt it. One can argue with his praise of this or not, but it's much harder to criticize an historian for getting facts wrong.

Perhaps instead of wringing our hands over Luther's "missional" insensitivities we should rather be asking ourselves what has changed within our understanding of Lutheranism? Is it possible even to go back? Is there something within Lutheranism as a movement that leads in this direction of not only growing farther from the early Reformers but from the Fathers and the ancient practice of Christianity as well?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dumbledore: No Comment

I started to write a brief essay on J.K. Rowling's revelation on the sexual feelings of one of the characters in Harry Potter, from a Philosophy of Fiction angle (yes, there is one). But after several hundred words I realized, who cares? Probably not readers here.

So let us ignore the author's attempts to say more than she said. Let us ignore her mucking around these books that have been written. Let her and George Lucas re-write their great works and confuse what was once clear. Let her opine about the characters she created and drum up controversy. But do let the works stand as written. If she feels she didn't say all that needed to be said, she's either a poor writer or wanting more cash, because clearly the story is over.

Tagged for Seven Things

My good friend Fr. John Fenton has tagged me for "Seven True Things." The spirit is to blog something revealing of my life, I suppose.

1. I've moved my belongings 14 times. A few of those were partial moves, to the Seminary and back, once to Germany and back, but each one meant packing all or as much as possible.

2. My first dog was a German Shepherd/Collie mix named Heidi. She was my first best friend, and I still get sad thinking about her death. She was a pup when I first started walking, and once saved my life (or at least from great pain). I was toddling around and walked out into the pasture where the chickens were. Mom and sister were watching me, but I was too far away when the rooster started coming for me. Think about it: a 30 pound one-year-old and a big mean rooster which pecks with 15 lbs of force (according to Wikipedia) and sharp talons. From out of nowhere, Heidi the puppy came running, out pacing my sister and mom and went after the rooster. Mom scooped me up and the rooster was in pieces in the freezer within days. We never ate him. Heidi earned her keep many more times over the next 12 years, and no dog has measured up since her (sorry Bandit).

3. When I think of "home," it is the rolling hills, fields, and hardwood forests of Western Missouri
that I imagine.

4. One of my earliest memories of Church is singing the Te Deum at Matins.

5. I used to be a worry-wart. I suppose I still worry deep down in my soul, but about fewer things.

6. My grandfather's uncle lived next door to the James Family farm in Kearney, MO. This was after Jesse died, but Frank and the Old Woman still lived in the house (the one the FBI bombed). He lived at the top of the hill, they at the bottom, and knew all along they were "trashy" people, according to my grandfather. The James' once moved the fence between their properties, apparently in the middle of the night, and the sheriff had to come out and tell them to move it back. The Old Woman moved into town once the house was bombed and a few years after she died, my grandmother was born in the same house (I suppose this one is not about me, per se, but it's a good story.)

7. I don't watch sports. I enjoy Baseball and Football, even Basketball and Soccer if I watch them, but only do it if it's my kid playing, or it's a Bears game and my wife and I have paid attention long enough to notice it's on. I cannot understand why people memorize statistics and rosters. I can't name but a handful of NFL players, perhaps one or two NCAA Football players, and perhaps a dozen Baseball players. I was born without the gene, apparently.

Now... I tag Doorman, Christine (do you have a blog???), Dixie, and Brown.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

All In One Piece

We made it back safely and had a wonderful time while there. Our guardian angels preserved us coming and going through rain and wind and at least two accidents, and even those drivers were apparently preserved from harm, though their tractors and trailers were not.

The Cumberland Plateau was beautiful with changing leaves, warm days and cool nights. Our days were filled with leaf-collecting, playing at the biggest tree house I've ever seen (pics to be posted soon), naps, and wonderful food. The nights were filled with wine and card games and laughing.

But now I'm back in my study and found folks in the hospital, a funeral to attend for a member's husband (God rest his soul), and a serious operation for a member. These things make me wish I'd been around the last week to minister to these dear members.

Also, I've found a few meetings I missed and need to get up to speed on, the annual voter's meeting Sunday (which historically does not always go too well), and a bunch of email. These things make me wish I hadn't come back :)

Thank you all for your prayers while we were gone!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vacation Time

Tonight the family will load up the new (for us) minivan and tomorrow before daybreak (hopefully), we will start the drive to The Glade to see my in-laws. It is about fourteen hours there, and God willing, we do the drive in one masochistic day.

We've made the trip there only twice since we've lived here. The first time was for my in-law's fiftieth wedding anniversary, and it nearly was the last. Our youngest at the time was only 2 months old. She was such a good baby on the way, sleeping between feedings like newborns should. But on the way back all hell broke loose. She screamed. Nonstop. We would drive for forty-five minutes or so, then stop, feed the child, carefully place her back in the car seat, then drive for another forty-five minutes with her screaming her head off. Repeat. For 25 hours. Over two days. I threatened (seriously) never to leave home again.

The second trip (last year) was nearly uneventful--just brutally long. Yet my in-laws are good and gracious people, excellent hosts, great cooks, attentive to my wife and my children, and they even love me. And so I'm actually looking forward to going, er, being there and seeing them.

Please pray for safe travel for us and all others, and I'll post again once we return next week.

Most Wanted Gifts

This morning on NPR I heard a brief news item on the most wished for Christmas gifts this year. Carl Kassel reported that this year "peace and happiness" was down, but "computers," and "big screen TV" were are the top of the list. I didn't catch the actual rankings, and couldn't find it online, so you'll just have to trust me.

Perhaps those who responded to surveys believe that a new computer will give them peace and happiness, so why wish for that without the stuff, when you can have both stuff and peace? Certainly a speedy new computer can make one's computer time less frustrating, and it makes gadget-folk happy, at least for a few hours or days. Maybe that's all they can imagine.

So what would be on my wish-list?

1. Peace and happiness
2. Less busy-ness and more quality time with my kids when we are home
3. Some home repairs (not necessarily improvements, but repairs)
4. Oh, and gadgets.

I suppose if you wanted a "pastoral" answer, I should have listed such things as "conquering sin" and "Jesus' Return." But those spiritual things really are the basis of #1. One cannot have peace without the peace which passes all understanding, the peace of the Lord. And one does not find happiness outside of the way of Christ. Clunky translations aside, makarios (blessed) does connote happiness.

But peace and happiness are hard to come by. Lutherans, please don't attack. I don't mean that our Lord does not freely and generously give all blessings. He is in fact the "Treasury of good things." What I mean is that we do not ask for, use or keep those blessing He generously gives. For this we pray for mercy and the will to arise from our indolence and seek His face. And as Providence has it, this is the very thing our Lord would have us do.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Witness Testifies to What She Sees

My Sunday morning Bible study is about half-way through Revelation, just before the Great Chapter 12 (wait till they get a load of who the Woman crowned with stars is!). We were discussing the Two Witnesses of chapter 11, who they were modeled after, but especially what they indicated.

As the discussion ranged, I offered the interpretation that these two witnesses symbolized the witness of the Church to the world, and what that witnesses is in our day and how the world responds. The answers were almost all about sex. We discussed the recent Billboard in CA, and activists in general. Not to mention one of the effects of promiscuous sex: abortion. I may have offended a few people who were present but don't normally attend. We don't speak that graphically most of the time.

Later that afternoon I was pondering why the discussion was about sex, about why that is such a hot-button sin in most of our minds. If you're going to pick sins, I suppose those sins are more fun than, say, coveting. But we have so many to choose from, and many are much more dangerous to faith than lust. Why is it that Christians seem obsessed with the bedroom?

I wondered this as I watched "Desperate Housewives" later that night. One character (it was revealed) apparently had affairs in the past; two characters, formerly married were having affairs with each other; one character's unmarried daughter was pregnant, and another character may have been abused as a child. Then "Brothers and Sisters" came on, and since I had no book handy, and was too tired to write, I watched it. The gay character met a former lover, but nothing happened. The character running for president was accused of having an affair. Other characters were adulterers, another getting divorced due to adultery, or something like it.

Is it a wonder why Christians talk about sex so much?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Cat is Out of the Bag...and This Time I Really Mean It

I post this with a heavy heart. I don't want this blog to become a diatribe against my church body (LCMS). Complaints lead to bitterness, and that to all kinds of spiritually harmful thoughts and feelings. On the contrary, St. Paul urges us to think on "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy" (Phil. 4:8 NKJV).

I want to do that, but feel I must share the following. This is press release included in an insert in the latest issue of The Reporter, "The Official Newspaper of the LCMS."

A new LCMS mission start in Broken Arrow [Oklahoma] began worship and fellowship activities April 7 at Liberty Elementary School. Ablaze! Live Church, sponsored by the Lutheran Church of Our Savior, Tulsa, kicked off its opening day with an Easter egg hunt at Liberty Elementary School at 10 a.m. Despite the cold weather, 500 people participated—250 of them, children. There were plenty of live music, eggs, candy, and fun for all.

Ninety-five people came back for the evening worship service at 7 p.m. The band Zion’s Fire led worship, kids had their own children’s church, and Pastor Tom Dreier gave the message: “What every family needs to know about Easter.”

God exceeded the congregation’s wildest expectations and plans for the birth of His new mission start. More than 40 volunteers helped with various aspects of this church—including music, teaching, children’s church, nursery, greeters, and builders. What an awesome God we serve, and what a witness!

Ablaze! Live Church worships at 7 p.m. on Saturdays at Liberty Elementary School in Broken Arrow. For more information, visit the mission’s Web site at or call (918) 704-6224.
Yes, the name of this congregation is "Ablaze! Live Church." (Please keep your comments PG-rated.)

But I really don't want to belabor the objections and troublesome issues outlined in this press release. What I feel I must say is that the cat is out of the bag. I know some folks have been crying this for some time, telling us over and over again that the Emperor has no clothes (and I have been aware of this for some time), yet instances like this drive the point home all the more. And, Lord have mercy, I believe this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

We Pray Unrealistically

While praying Matins in the Lutheran rite, the last Collect is the "Collect for Grace,"

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day. Defend us in the same with Your mighty power and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by YOur governance, may be righteous in Your sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives... (LSB p. 228)
According to L. Reed, this prayer was found originally in the Gelasian Sacramentary, a predecessor to the Gregorian Sacramentary. Reed also connects this prayer with one attributed to St. Basil in the Eastern Rite First Hour.

Here is a prayer from the end of the First Hour from the Horologion:
Thou Who at all times and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, art worshipped and glorified, O Christ God, Who art long-suffering, plenteous in mercy, most compassionate, Who lovest the righteous and hast mercy on sinners; Who callest all men to salvation through the promise of good things to come: Receive, O Lord, our prayers at this hour, and guide our life toward Thy commandments. Sanctify our souls, make chaste our bodies, correct our thoughts, purify our intentions, and deliver us from every sorrow, evil, and pain. Compass us about with Thy holy angels, that, guarded and guided by their array, we may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of Thine unapproachable glory: For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.
I don't know if this is the prayer Reed had in mind. Obviously these are parallel prayers, but not the same. Note, however the emphasis on our sin and the goodness and mercy of God in this Eastern prayer. This is a feature common to many of the prayers of the Eastern Liturgy of the Hours (aka the Daily Office, or Matins, Vespers, etc.). Add to this the near-continual refrain "Kyrie eleison" throughout Liturgy of the Hours and you get an overwhelming prayer of repentance and faith; there is a saying that the Orthodox find something good to say or do, then they do it three times...or forty.

But praying that we not sin this day strikes me as at once humble and bold. It is bold. How dare we desire such a thing? How could this possibly be, to live an entire day sin-free? Is this a realistic prayer?

Such is it a prayer of humility, for it is unrealistic for us. We sin by "thought, word, and deed," or as the Orthodox pray, we ask God to "sanctify our souls, make chaste our bodies, correct our thoughts, purify our intentions, and deliver us from every sorrow, evil, and pain." So in humility it is our prayer that God would give us such grace as to accomplish this, for we are weak and indolent. It is only our Master that may grant such grace and strength.

But again, is it realistic? The pragmatists in us deny it, and if we are pragmatic, there's no use in doing something, trying something, that cannot be done. To this there is only one response: would you pray the opposite? Would you pray that God would grant us to fall into sin? God forbid! Here our pragmatism must die to Christian hope and faith. Lord may it be so!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Excellent Article

This piece has been linked elsewhere, but if you missed it, or didn't read it then, here's your chance.

An excerpt:

Almost no one in America could fail to recognize that marketing—both its language and culture—has become an epidemic. And that, more unfortunately, it has become a significant means of "promoting" the church and the gospel in American Christianity, with billboards, soundbites, slogans, and come-ons. The language and practice of marketing so saturates the Christian world, it is difficult to remember a time when it was not so fashionable....

The perception is that as the church markets itself, more benefits will accrue to the church—more people, more programs, more money, more buildings, more success. When a neighborhood thinks of the church as little more than an ever-expanding spiritual business, it is naturally resentful when this business disrupts the life of the community with parking, traffic, and late-night meetings.

Should it surprise us that in this church-marketing era, members demand more and more from their churches, and if churches don't deliver, they take their spiritual business elsewhere? Have we ever seen an age in which church transience was such an epidemic?

Should it surprise us that in this era, pastors increasingly think of themselves as "managers," "leaders," and "CEOs" of "dynamic and growing congregations," rather than as shepherds, teachers, and servants of people who need to know God? And that preaching has become less an exposition of the gospel of Jesus' death and resurrection and more often practical lessons that offer a lot of "take-away value," presented in an efficient, friendly manner, as if we were selling cheeseburgers, fries, and a shake?...

Be sure to read the rest.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Texas Canyon In Three Days: Everything is Bigger (and Faster) in Texas

The AP reports on Canyon Lake Gorge, a new canyon formed in Texas this year and is now being opened to the public. It is a fascinating story, the 80 feet deep canyon having been formed by spillway waters from Canyon Lake during three days in July 2002.

Then the writer says this:

Neither compares to the world's most famous canyon. It took water around 5 million to 6 million years to carve the Grand Canyon, which plunges 6,000 feet at its deepest point and stretches 15 miles at its widest.
The entire tone of the piece is how amazing this gorge is, how big and how rapidly it was formed. My question is, if an 80 feet deep gorge could be formed from a spillway flood in three days, how many days would it take to form a gorge 6000 feet deep? Seventy-five days or 5 million years?

I realize you can't really extrapolate out the figures. Differences in water volume, flow rate, composition of rock, elevation, temperature and too many other variables would have to be factored in. But think about it. A gorge formed over three days, 80 feet deep. Pretty amazing.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Received Today

Dear Brothers in Christ,

Greetings on behalf of the global Ablaze! movement of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and its 30 partner churches around the world.

Asia is Ablaze! Africa is Ablaze! Eurasia is Ablaze! Latin America is Ablaze! Each of our 30 global partner churches has Ablaze! activity. In countries where we work with emerging churches and other partners, they, too, are participating in the Ablaze! movement. In the Philippines, Lutherans at regional conferences wear Ablaze! shirts and share results of outreach activity. East, West, South, Anglo, and Franco Africa mission training centers feature Ablaze! resources. Children in Sunday schools sport Ablaze! bracelets and display Ablaze! balloons. In India and Sri Lanka, probationers (vicars) are planting churches under the Ablaze! banner. In fact, the India Evangelical Lutheran Church has made a commitment to reach 25 million people with the Gospel message by 2017! Ablaze! banners decorate churches in Panama and throughout Latin America. In many areas of the world, the Ablaze! movement is much more vibrant than it is here in the United States. In many cultures, sharing the news of Jesus is a normal expectation of being a Christian, and happens daily. African Lutherans are somewhat surprised that any church would need a special emphasis on sharing the Gospel!

Next time we will explore the Acts 1:8 proclamation model and begin to look at how the national Fan into Flame funding campaign supports this model.

In Christ,


Rev. Dr. William Diekelman, Campaign Spokesman

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My Simpsonized Family

Sorry, Folks, I just can't get enough of being Simpsonized....

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Just received an email whose subject line states, "Lutheran Hour Ministries Will Offer Cutting Edge Advent Devotions." Caveat emptor.

Being Tuned-In...or Not

Pr. Brown at Confessional Gadfly writes about anti-Catholicism in Oklahoma in this post. His parish is about five miles west of mine, and some of my members are relatives, ex's, in-laws and out-laws, former members, future members or childhood friends of his members.

What was strange for me is that I haven't noticed such strident anti-Catholicism at my parish, and I've been here a few more years than he has. I don't doubt his observation; his post described their "epiphany" quite well. But I haven't noticed it much at this place. There may be several reasons for this:

1. I'm oblivious. When I teach Bible study, I have my agenda and I try to foment discussion, but perhaps I just haven't realized the cultural milieu here. To be sure, even from the beginning I haven't sensed much animosity felt for Catholics, but perhaps I ignore it.

2. They are not the "threat." There are two good-sized Catholic parishes in town, but Baptist churches surround us, and the Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ come in a close second. It seems many folks around here are more "for them" than against others.

3. I have an agenda. One of my elders recently described me as "swimming upstream here." He said it with good-natured respect, and I must admit, with an alarming insight of my theological proclivities. I'm not a closet Catholic, to be sure, but as readers here may know, I am more of the Evangelical Catholic bent.

4. While I do contrast Lutheran theology with that of others, from the very beginning of my ministry here I have intentionally attempted to also emphasize what we have in common with others who call on the name of Christ. For example, I believe decision-theology often is an attempt to describe the choice and commitment of believers after they have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit. While the language of decision-theology strikes Lutherans as semi-Pelagian, good Baptists who talk that way are often not meaning what they say, but are sometimes talking about good ol' fashioned sanctification and our cooperation in it. So perhaps the lack of anti-Catholicism I sense is due to my setting this more irenic tone (which is a struggle for me at times, I admit).

5. Pastor Brown's congregation is rural. Most of his members have been there since birth. My congregation has it's fair share of cradle members, but is 50 years younger than his and is located in town. No one would call Enid cosmopolitan, but I have a good share of members who have lived elsewhere and have more contact with others who are "not frum here." We're still a more rural congregation than others, but it's relative, ain't it?

All of these considerations probably factor in to what I have experienced here. It is probably the case that I see what I want to see--I'm hard-headed at times. But I do think I'll start asking around how much anti-Catholic feelings there are.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Struck Silent...Mostly

My throat started hurting Saturday afternoon, and as the hours passed it grew more and more garbled and graveled and hoarse. It was pretty bad by Saturday night when our favorite ex-babysitter and honorary daughter was at our house for a few hours, back home from college for the weekend. She suggested lip syncing the sermon on Sunday, then with a gleam in her eye said I should speak a little too fast so I "look Japanese." Of course I didn't tape the sermon and lip sync.

But if I were the superstitious sort, I would wonder at why I was virtually silenced on a Sunday morning...and it's not the first time. It happened twice within two months at my previous call the summer before I received the call here. I've never lost my voice during the week since I've been a pastor--only on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings.

Zechariah was struck silent because he did not believe the promise of his son, the Forerunner. But Ezekiel was struck dumb as a reproof to Israel. Daniel was struck dumb when the angel appeared to him. Now to be sure, I saw no vision, nor did I doubt a promise of least no more than any of us do when we worry about problems. And I wasn't exactly dumb; I could speak, but not very loud, and it sounded terrible, and I wonder how many people were able to hear and understand what I was saying. I'm sure they couldn't understand the prayers and were only able to follow the liturgy because they had service books.

On second thought, I don't think it's superstitious to wonder why I had laryngitis on a Sunday morning. Superstition explains that inanimate things control the present and future, or that fate or something else attaches significance to common objects and occurrences. I don't believe in that, but I don't believe in coincidences either.

But I can't say why exactly I had laryngitis on a Sunday morning. But as I've written here before, it is a sign for me and for all of us to repent and pray for mercy. It always is.