Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Luther, the Wedding at Cana, the Three Estates, the Three Wonders, and Marriage

On January 10th, 1529, the lesson was the wedding at Cana of Galilee.  This passage, said Luther, is written in honor of marriage.  There are three estates: marriage, virginity, and widowhood.  They are all good.  None is to be despised.  The virgin is not to be esteemed above the widow, nor the widow above the wife, any more than the tailor is to be esteemed above the butcher.  There is no estate to which the Devil is so opposed as to marriage.  The clergy have not wanted to be bothered with work and worry.  They have been afraid of a nagging wife, disobedient children, difficult relatives, or the dying of a pig or a cow.  They want to lie abed until the sun shines through the window.  Our ancestors knew this and would say, "Dear child, be a priest or nun and have a good time."  I have heard married people say to monks, "You have it easy, but when we get up we do not know where to find our bread."  Marriage is a heavy cross because so many couples quarrel.  It is the grace of God when they agree.  The Holy Spirit declares there are three wonders: when brothers agree, when neighbors love each other, and when a man and wife are at one.  When I see a pair like that, I am as glad as if I were in a garden of roses.  It is rare.

-from Bainton's Here I Stand: a Life of Martin Luther, (Abingdon Press; 1950) p. 352.

Luther and Congregational Singing

[Martin Luther's] last and greatest reform of all was in congregational song.  In the Middle Ages the liturgy was almost entirely restricted to the celebrant and the choir.  The congregation joined in a few responses in the vernacular.  Luther so developed this element that he may be considered the father of congregational song.  This was the point at which his doctrine of the priesthood of all believers received its most concrete realization.  This was the point and the only point at which Lutheranism was thoroughly democratic.  All the people sang.  Portions of the liturgy were converted into hymns: the Creed and the Sanctus.  The congregation sang not "I believe," but, "We believe in one God."  The congregation sang how the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up and heard the seraphim intone Holy, Holy, Holy.

-from Bainton's Here I Stand: a Life of Martin Luther, (Abingdon Press; 1950) p. 344.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Goodby Gatsby, Hello Common Core

For high school [Miami-Dade County Public School] English teachers like [Chris] Kirchner, Common Core is prompting consequential and contentious changes in what students read and how the books are taught: The new standards call for a focus on depth over breadth, more challenging readings, and increased emphasis on nonfiction.

Students will be expected to make written arguments using specific evidence from reading assignments, often pulling together examples from multiple texts. No longer should teachers ask students to write solely based on their personal experience or opinion — arguing for or against school uniforms, for instance.

“It’s encouraged me to give up some practices I had a great allegiance to,” says Kirchner, “specifically, the teaching of whole novels.” -from this morning's print edition of the Miami Herald. The entire article, written by reporter Sarah Carr, is well worth reading.

I remember how much I enjoyed it when my high school English teacher, Ms. Campion, would throw out big, open-ended questions about Gatsby and the class would discuss and argue their answers.  It was so much fun, and it encouraged wide reading.

Read more here: http://www.momsmiami.com/2013/10/18/3696938/good-bye-gatsby-hello-common-core.html##storylink=cpy

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Luther, through Bainton, on Vocation

In one respect Luther was more conservative than Catholicism because he abolished monasticism and thus eliminated a selected area for the practice of the higher righteousness.  In consequence the gospel could be exemplified only in the midst of secular callings, except that Luther refused to call them secular.  As he had extended the priesthood of all believers, so likewise he extended the concept of divine calling, vocation, to all worthy occupations

Our expression "vocational guidance" comes directly from Luther. God has called men to labor because he labors.  He works at common occupations.  God is a tailor who makes for the deer a coat that will last for a thousand years.  He is a shoemaker also who provides boots that the deer will not outlive.  God is the best cook, because the heat of the sun supplies all the heat there is for cooking.  God is a butler who sets forth a feast for the sparrows and spends on them annually more than the total revenue of the king of France.  Christ worked as a carpenter  .   .   .

-from Bainton, Here I Stand: a Life of Martin Luther (Apex Books 1950), pp. 232-233

Of course, I know this doctrine and embrace it.  But I did not get it from the pulpits I sat under, and I have sat under a lot of them. Here's more on this from Bainton:

The Virgin Mary worked, and the most amazing example of her humility is that after she had received the astonishing news that she was to be the mother of the Redeemer, she did not vaunt herself but went back and milked the cows, scoured the kettles, and swept the house like any housemaid. Peter worked as a fisherman and was proud of his skill, though not too proud to take a suggestion from the Master when he told him to cast on the other side.    Luther commented:

"I would have said, 'Now look here, Master.  You are a preacher, and I am not undertaking to tell you how to preach.  And I am a fisherman, and you need not tell me how to fish.'  But Peter was humble, and the Lord therefore made him a fisher of men."

The shepherds worked.  They had a mean job watching their flocks by night, but after seeing the babe they went back.

"Surely that must be wrong. We should correct the passage to read, 'They went and shaved their heads, fasted, told the rosaries, and put on cowls.'  Instead we read, 'The shepherds returned.'  Where to? To their sheep. The sheep would have been in a sorry way if they had not."

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Chicken nuggets: Please don't feeed them to my grandchildren.

Through a laboratory testing of chicken nuggets from two unnamed major national fast-food chains in Jackson, University of Mississippi researchers found that they contained just 40 to 50 percent meat, the remaining  50 to 60 percent comprised of bits of chicken-by-products such as fat, skin, connective tissues, blood vessels, nerve tissues, organ parts and ground bone fragments.

More here, including a video interview of the researcher.