Miss California
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Are you a big fan of beauty pageants? Well, I’m not either. I don’t even notice ‘em come and go. But the Miss USA pageant in Vegas the week after Easter sure raised some dust.   It seems that Carrie Prejean, Miss California, was the front-runner until one of the “judges,” the self-styled “Perez Hilton,” asked her if she thought that the U.S. should legalize same-sex marriage. Carrie replied, “I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a... Read More
Room in Your Heart
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Did your parents pray regularly with you when you were small? Did they make up customized prayers or did they recite a standard list? Here in our home we made up special prayers, but we always ended up with “Dear Jesus, please send your angels all ‘round our beds and keep us safe all through the night time. We love you Jesus very, very much, Amen.” Funny—my kids all seem too big to say that any more…   When I was... Read More
Sneezing
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The more I ponder our language and culture, the more surprises I find. We behave in all kinds of ways that we don’t even think about.   Bodily noises, for instance. Why does our culture permit—no, demand!—that we comment when someone sneezes? There are many bodily noises emitted by others that we are supposed to endure in silence. But if someone explodes in a sneeze, we are social lepers if we don’t offer a remark.   There are only two appropriate comments,... Read More
Contrarian
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Warren Buffett, the Omaha wizard, the prairie sage, is a legend in the investment world. Shares of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, even during this financial slump, will cost you in the neighborhood of $100,000 a share. Buffett has never allowed the stock to split and just let the share price climb over the years. It was his goal to discourage speculators and encourage long-term investors.   Buffett describes himself as a contrarian. In a recent periodical he counsels American investors to... Read More
Sexting
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In the news recently is the story of a 14-year-old girl in New Jersey who may be prosecuted for disseminating child pornography because she was using her cell phone to transmit nude pictures of a minor. Herself.   Apparently this is a trend, although because of its sensationalism and novelty it might still be a relatively small problem hyped into a national crisis. Teenagers are not yet adults, and they often suffer from an insufficient supply of oxygenated blood to the... Read More
Golf
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When you’re a really good golfer, you pretty much know where each shot is going to land. When you’re a twice-a-month duffer like me, every shot is an adventure. Know what golf in hell is going to be like? Absolutely the same. No difference at all.   When you don’t play consistently, you can start improving on one aspect of your game and think you’re making progress, but then the next time you’re out some other aspect starts falling apart. Just... Read More
Disabled
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One of the steady pains in my soul is hanging out with my friends with disabilities. “Lesser” ones, like sight and hearing impairment. Big ones, like Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, or spina bifida. I can’t shake some degree of “survivor’s guilt”—why can I see but he can’t? Why can I walk but she can’t? Why does his entire life on earth have to be such a daily struggle just to survive?   I think I got a partial answer in the... Read More
Cowards
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President Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, caused a modest sensation back in February when, in speaking of race relations in America, he accused Americans of being a nation of cowards. From the wider context of his speech, his reference appears to be directed primarily at white Americans.   Cowardice, eh? Hmmm… Possibly. Or perhaps just prudence. Some white folks do well to clam up about other races because their words would hurt, not help. When I was a boy I learned... Read More
Preacher
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Forgive me, but I seem to have lost my taste for the word "preacher." I would appreciate it if you wouldn't use it on me.  Many of my fellow pastors love the title and they are welcome to it. I have asked our Time of Grace staff not to use that word in describing me or what I do on our program. Preaching. 'Tis a noble word, of long lineage. But in the world in which I live, from Monday... Read More
Indulgences
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It’s déjà vu all over again.   I thought it was a gag at first. Nope. Various Roman Catholic dioceses in America are bringing back indulgences, and I guess that means that Purgatory is back, too. The NY Times reports that many Catholics are confused about what they are. Ironically a lot more Lutherans know about them because they are such an integral part of the story of the birth of the Protestant Reformation.   In traditionalist Catholic teaching, Purgatory is a... Read More