Friday, July 25, 2008

Additional Comment

Ain't it great we have a pastor who requires the daddies to be present for their child's catechesis prior to admittance to the altar, wherever possible?

He's not alone. It's a growing trend among faithful pastors.

Anonymous Fatherhood

A friend sent me the above photo. It was titled “Terror Strikes Harlem.” While there are a variety of socio-political facts that led to this obviously photo-shopped social commentary (the rise in absentee father hood among African-American males in the last decades), there was also a deeper theological commentary hidden within. While perhaps not immediately noticeable in the size of the icon on this blog site, the sign on church in the background identifies it as Lutheran. An alternate title might be, “Terror Strikes Lutheran Catechesis.”

My own children are giggling behind their hands right about now. Their father worked shift work in order to put clothes on their backs, bread in their mouths, and keep a roof over their heads. He was often at work when they came home from school, asleep when they awoke in preparation for an evening shift, and worked days on Sundays. So where was he when it came time to their catechesis? In fact, he often argued that he liked the Navajo way: Children, particularly the males, were best kept under the care of the mother for seven years, and then were sent to their fathers. He changed their diapers and fed them bottles, but right now they can’t remember it. Ain’t that the way of it?

There is a certain wisdom in that Navajo way. For, it perceives that moms stayed near the home and hearth, teaching the littlest ones from the very cradle the ways of the faith while men defended the home and put meat on the table. This is not to say the fathers are absent from or are free to absent themselves from the responsibility of the catechesis of the home. When mothers catechize their children, they are speaking in the stead of their husband and the father of the home—and at his behest and with his blessing. This assumes that father and mother are of one mind with regards to matters of the Faith, and in truth whenever possible, it is the father who leads the catechesis in the home no matter how old the children. Luther gets it right when he heads each Chief Part, “As the head of the family should teach them to his household…” By that he didn’t mean that 1Cor 11:4 is undone as a matter of “quaint Pauline tradition.” Timothy was taught by his mother and grandmother, and Paul commends this (2Ti 1:5). That doesn’t mean that God’s order for households is undone. The Fourth and Sixth Commandments still hold for Christians.

Women’s Lib undid all that, donchaknow. The Pill and abortion and we can control our own bodies because they are ours and not anyone else’s and that entire socio-political machination to sustain it. Set women free to be as depraved as men could be in their lowest instead of being the ones who lifted men up civilizing them. (What an icon of the Church that is! Whoever does not have the Church as his Mother cannot have God as his Father. With the feminization of society and the church, daddies are mommies, mommies are daddies, and God has breasts! That’s not a new Christianity; that’s idolatry.) Now men can wear high heels as well as women and women can show off their bare fannies on the streets as well as men—and their bare breasts—and still cry and weep because the streets are simply NOT SAFE any longer for man, woman, child, nor beast. Modesty is as quaint as that antiquarian Pauline tradition, and as practical as that Germanic monk’s Catechism.

Unless we use it, that is. Daily and much, for we sin daily and much. I cannot encourage it enough. The beauty of it can only be known through its continued use. We break it down into simple “chunks” every day:

M Commandments & Apostles’ Creed

T Commandments & Lord’s Prayer

W Commandments & Baptism

Tr Commandments & Confession

F Commandments & Lord’s Supper

I don’t know the circumstances of the original photograph before it was photo-shopped. I don’t know why those folks were running as they were on the lawn of that Lutheran Church. Perhaps the Ablaze! ™ promoter was coming ‘round? Who knows? Photo-shopped as it is, it’s an icon for us to learn from.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Liturgy, Fatherhood, and Secularism

Pr. Sawyer is leading us through a study of the liturgy on Sunday mornings. It is a Power Point presentation with video. Sunday morning we watched a Shabbat in a Jewish home. The most striking fact of it was how it was the *head* of the household, the *father*, who lead the prayers, and conducted the catechetical meal. It was all quite mindful of Luther's instructions regarding the use of the Catechism, "As the head of the family teach his household..." Liturgy begins in the Divine Service where the Holy Spirit has called and gathered the household of God the Father, the ecclesia, to be taught by the Living Voice of His Son, Christ. But it doesn't remain there. The Liturgy of the Divine Service becomes the service of vocation, Christ in service to neighbor. This is the ecclesia sent out by the Holy Spirit in their daily lives.

With all the hoopla of "Batman" lately, here is a perspective worth noting. It describes well what has become of the sacred office of fatherhood when it is taken outside of God's sacramental use of marriage and the home, and thus in Christ. Alexander Schmemann wrote, “Just as Christianity can– and must–be considered the end of religion, so the Christian liturgy in general, and the Eucharist in particular are indeed the end of a cult, of the ‘sacred’ religious act isolated from, and opposed to, the ‘profane’ life of the community.” Secularism, then, is the end of Christianity.