31 January 2016

February Newsletter Article

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In a few short days, the season of Epiphany will come to a close and the liturgical season of Lent will begin. I am one of those people who finds the season of Lent to be an annual challenge and blessing – it is a time in the church for heightened awareness about our sin, God’s mercy, and the life of Jesus in which that mercy overcame that sin.

28 January 2016

2016 Books: The Prophet by Michael Koryta

One of the most enjoyable reading experiences is taking a chance on an unknown author and being very happy you did. In some ways The Prophet was about what I expected: a murder mystery with some interesting plot twists. What I didn't expect was Michael Koryta's excellent investigation into high stakes Ohio high school football and how that sidebar added a bit of punch to the story. Granted, being a former player myself and a student of the game for most of my life, I'm a bit pre-disposed to think well of good football writing, but I believe the casual reader will also enjoy learning a bit about the game in the course of enjoying a well-conceived murder mystery.

The main point of the novel is the relationship between brothers Adam and Kent Austin, both of whom live in their hometown and carry the burden of their sister's murder in very different ways. Their relationship overshadows everything in the novel, even the murder which brings about the action that makes up most of the plot, but it's so well written that the reader will enjoy the curious experience of being distracted by the action instead of the interior monologue as is common in the genre.

No heavy lifting required here - just a good book for a trip, something to read in one long pull and savor all the way down.

26 January 2016

2016 Books in Review: Gatefather by Orson Scott Card

The Mither Mages trilogy started off wonderfully with The Lost Gate and continued well with The Gate Thief. These first two volumes were the usual Orson Scott Card mix of philosophy, theology, fantasy, science fiction, and excellent characterization of the main actors in the plot. This series in particular leans more toward the theology and fantasy side of his spectrum, a curious mix of American Gods and original themes that make for interesting reading. Or listening, which is what I did for the first two volumes (is it me, or do some of you read all of OSC's work in Stefan Rudnicki's voice?).

08 January 2016

2016 Books in Review - Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett

The third book in Ken Follet's massive Century trilogy is, well, long. It has to be - it covers events from the beginning of the Cold War to the election of Barack Obama, ranging from the American Deep South to the coldest reaches of Siberia. It's everything you expect from a Follett historical novel at this point, which is at the same time enjoyable and a touch predictable, if surprisingly so.

05 January 2016

Exposing Dan Skogen

Last week I was made aware of a minor social media kerfuffle between my colleague Clint Schnekloth and Dan Skogen, the man behind the "Exposing the ELCA" blog and Twitter feed. Like Clint, I've known about Dan for quite some time, particularly because he lives in the part of Iowa we call home and has been trolling synodical staff and pastors in our neck of the woods as long as I've been here. Clint's blog does an excellent job of laying out the various options of dealing with Internet trolls, so I'll invite you to take a look if you want to see the entire backstory.
Lutheran Confessions: Exposing "Exposing the ELCA": Meet Dan Skogen. He's the voice and face behind a blog titled "Exposing the ELCA." Well, he does more than blog. He tweets, tr...
Like Clint, I'd been doing my best to mostly ignore Dan for at least six years. Usually that's the best response to trolls and others working out their pathologies through the means of social media. In fact, just this week I recommended that fellow Iowans ignore the ridiculous "halftime show" the Stanford Band performed at the Rose Bowl. It was so obnoxious and insulting that anyone with an ounce of decency wouldn't believe anything about it for a second. In the same vein, the posts at ExposingtheELCA.com are so thinly connected to reality that anyone with the ability to critically engage what he says about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can see his agenda for what it is - and adjust their expectations for truth and decency accordingly.