Sunday, June 07, 2015

D-Day, Lutherans, the left, and a classic car on the street

  • D-Day's 71st anniversary yesterday. While I love and honor "the Greatest Generation," whose goodness and courage are why some French, Dutch, et al., love Americans to this day for liberating them, D-Day wasn't the main story of World War II. The Americans and the British think it is. The Pacific certainly wasn't (except for defending the Philippines and Australia, it wasn't necessary, and a deal with Japan would have saved those places). The main story is the USSR won the war; the Americans and the British were supporting players. (The Americans were dupes; the British actually defending themselves.) Hitler was Europe's problem, not America's. (Let the Soviets and the Nazis destroy each other.) Though there was honor and kinship involved in America helping defend Britain as with Australia. PBS: of course. The left gets weirdly nostalgic about the war. "The draft was bad when we were trying to fight Communism in Vietnam but noble when we fought for the USSR." I get it.
  • Aw, little Prince George and Princess Charlotte. You know my line: why Britain and the dominions won't be republics any time soon if ever. The Windsors have learned public relations and marketing. Two generations of marriages to attractive women producing good-looking offspring, plus a image that works today (when people buy into democracy), the past two generations letting attractive commoners into the family (the fantasy: you too can be a princess).
  • American Lutheranism. Apparently ELCA recently had a convention (its New York Synod assembly, its equivalent of a diocesan meeting) with the usual social-justice warrior stuff. What little I know about this scene. ELCA are the old Scandinavian immigrant Lutheran denominations, now liberal (mainline) and all but merged with the Episcopalians. But they're still different from the Episcopalians in that they actually skew more conservative than them. They're twice the Episcopalians' size and less upper-class so they better represent Middle America; a lot of older, no-nonsense, matter-of-fact ethnic Swedish farmers in flyover country. (The Episcopal paradox: the more liberal and "diverse" they try to be, the smaller, richer, and whiter they get. They're not for Middle Americans who love Jesus.) Probably dying with the rest of the mainline (how many devout Christian Scandinavian third-generation people do you know?). Hooray for the LCMS: originally German (not originally "the conservative church," just "the immigrant German church"), founded to preserve confessional Lutheranism vs. an indifferentist merger in Germany, now American Lutheranism's conservative magnet and with a Lutho-Catholic (they don't call themselves that) minority actually well grounded in Lutheran theology. American Lutheranism's always had a tension between the distinctive semi-Catholicism of the original Lutheranism (using the crucifix, for example: the LCMS explicitly defends it) and blending in with American Protestantism. I think the worship war in the LCMS is between high and low, the Lutho-Catholics vs. those who want to copy American evangelicalism (Lutheran liturgy vs. praise band, etc.).
  • Why Western liberals such as Bob Geldof aren't afraid of Muslim mass immigration. Leftism is a specifically Christian heresy; his charity recording 30+ years ago appeals for that reason. His heart was in the right place. Anyway, why I think people like him assume this. They think they won't end up dhimmi but rather that they'll still rule, with a grateful immigrant following. Since his kind, on average, is intelligent. The pride that goeth before a fall.
  • Ghost car: '49 or '50 Ford, Flemington, NJ; taken by Donna.


  1. John, you are absolutely right, of course, that the Soviets won the war. Just noting that 80% of al German (and their freiwilligen helpers) casualties occurred on the Eastern Front should show where the real action was. But in.the geopolitical sense, the invasion of Normandy the race across Europe was necessary precisely to keep the Soveits from overrunning all of Europe, which would have happened but for their allies standing in the way.

    1. But in.the geopolitical sense, the invasion of Normandy and the race across Europe were necessary precisely to keep the Soviets from overrunning all of Europe, which would have happened but for their allies standing in the way.

      I forgot about that angle; thanks. But I wouldn't credit Roosevelt with thinking that way. Our government was riddled with Communist spies; Joe McCarthy was right.

    2. Yes, I too doubt that that was what FDR had in mind, so again God writes with crooked lines sometimes.

    3. A friend who doesn't post comments in blogs noted that General Patton, who rightly didn't trust the Soviets, had that in mind in his push through Europe:

      Patton understood the real reason for D-Day: to keep the Russians from flooding over all of Europe once the Nazis were crushed. If it wasn't for our troops, the Reds would have been in Libson by early 1946. Which was the Red plan all along. What, you don't think the Russians were in Spain fighting Franco because they like tapas, do you? The Reds were planning a Russian invasion of Europe before WW2 broke out (where do you think al those communist cells in Italy & Greece & France came from, that proved such a problem in, why wait, 1946?). Franco was right.

      He sure was.

  2. I was raised LCMS. There was a big split within LCMS in the early seventies. The so-called "moderates" formed a small body (AELC) that triggered the mid-eighties mega merger forming ELCA, which included both the predominantly Scandi ALC and the social-climbing German Lutheran LCA (slight oversimplification, but those were the dominant perceptions at the time and both of those denominations were themselves the result of many prior mergers).

    LCMS maintained a pretty large and good school system. That's experiencing rapid decline as it's getting harder for the schools to pay salaries that allow faculty to pay their student loans, let alone meet living expenses.

    The evangelical influence in LCMS seems to have been on the rise since the late seventies. That's a big part of why I went Anglican in the nineties. Once I learned about the deep insanity of Louie Crew et al, I looked into Catholicism and swam the Tiber at the turn of the century.

    There are several ELCA outposts in this area that have gone under or are about to do so, and a few LCMS ones as well including the one that was my grandparents' church from 1945-1986 and the one where my late parents met. Demographic changes to neighborhoods are responsible for some of that and there are big LCMS congregations in the exurbs. Haven't seen evidence of growing ELCA groups anywhere in Colorado.

    1. Thanks for the history and reminders of it. I knew of the split in the LCMS. My guess is it was like the Anglican Continuum in reverse. Reacting to the Sixties, to their great credit, this German group became conservative and the mainline wannabes left. So the ALC was the merger of the old Scandinavian-American synods (Swedish Augustana, for example) and the LCA was liberal German? AELC: also liberal Germans.

    2. You got it. Perhaps the best sermon I ever heard was in my boyhood LCMS church in 1973 "The New Morality Is Simply Immorality", shortly before the split.

  3. As I understand it, high-church confessional Lutherans don't want to be Roman Catholic like some Anglo-Catholics did. Confessional Lutherans think they are the true church: the true reformed Western Catholic Church as restored by the great Dr. Luther (and Philipp Melanchton, et al.; the writers of classical Lutheran doctrine); if he kept something, they defend it and, if high-church, try to use it: crucifixes, chasubles, private confession, and making the sign of the cross. They think Catholics are in grave error, giving the Pope too much power, trying to earn our way into heaven, being a little off about the Mass, and reverting to paganism with devotions to the saints.

    Classical Anglicanism was similar except it leaned more towards the necessity of bishops, like we believe, yet for much of its history it didn't look Catholic and its theology of the Eucharist was actually lower than Lutheran.

    1. That's a pretty fair summary of the confessional Lutheran outlook. We soft-pedal the "one true Church" thing, but most of us know that that is the clear implication of our teaching on closed communion.

      It's also true that we regard Roman Catholics as being in "grave error." After all, nothing less than "grave error" could justify breaking communion. We earnestly desire the restoration of communion with the Roman Church, but we understand that the only basis for that restoration is full agreement in the faith. We trust that our Roman Catholic friends see it the same way.

      You have always shown sympathy and respect to us traditional Lutherans. That is appreciated.

  4. This isn't being snarky, but I always sort of had a sense that the ethos of Lutheranism was bound in laity driven piety that the clergy serves & feeds, but doesn't control. I think this impression stems from (brace yourself for the irony!) going to a Jesuit high school where a large number of kids came out of the Lutheran Parochial school system... Their fathers' involvement in the church council looked like my Catholic dad's experience on steroids. Up for deliberation & private meetings (sans pastor) on more than one occasion: "should we form a new congregation?"

    Methinks this might explain why the ELCA's less publicized divisions over the issues that make it seem like "ECUSA 2.0" aren't as sexy & dramatic - they don't seem to care about keeping a denomination stable (abstract) as much as having a good sensible local parish (concrete phenomenon) - conference affiliations be darned. They'll just leave without fanfare and that will be that.

    1. I think you're right. Likely reacting to clerical corruption, Luther made the mistake of chucking the historic episcopate and, I've read, our belief that an unworthy minister has worthy sacraments. (Some Lutherans, Sweden and the churches derived from it except in America, claim that episcopate but it's not necessary in Lutheranism.) The pastorate in Lutheranism is only functional, for good order. You can have layfolk celebrate Communion in Lutheranism if a pastor's not available. The very conservative Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod at least used to allow groups of women to do that for themselves.

      Anyway, my experience with Anglicanism has long had me thinking about the benefits of semi-congregationalism. It might be worth its risks. Some Episcopal churches successfully said no to Vatican II as well as liberalizing "developments" in their denomination because full-fledged parishes are or at least used to be very independent. There's nothing in our doctrine that says we can't do that.

      A powerful parish council can try to water down the faith but it can also defend it.

      That's long been American Orthodox standard operating procedure. Greek immigrants adopted it: from American Protestantism? Slavic Greek Catholics did it to protect themselves from hostile local Roman Rite bishops, and took that with them when some of them went into schism to the Orthodox. It has its problems: treating priests like hired hands, and schism at the drop of a hat.

      While Luther was wrong about the character of holy orders, again, this stuff has a point. Catholicism is not clericalist; that's a common misconception about it, a caricature. Rather, as Fr. George Rutler says, we're sacerdotalist (of course, so are the Orthodox). I think it was Newman who at a clergy meeting proposed a toast to the laity, "without whom we would all look silly."

      "Some Lutherans, Sweden and the churches derived from it except in America, claim that episcopate but it's not necessary in Lutheranism."

      Which is why when European immigration to America peaked in the 1800s, when all those Swedes came to Minnesota, they didn't try to keep it by getting a bishop from Sweden.

      Yet earlier, right after American independence as the last Swedish priests passed away at their old parishes around me (I live in what used to be New Sweden), the parishes seem to have taken the episcopate seriously enough to become Episcopal rather than form a non-episcopal Lutheran church.


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