Friday, October 29, 2021

I Love Big Brother

I stopped wearing a mask several months ago.

There is enough scientific evidence to convince me I should be more worried about the possible health consequences of wearing a mask all my waking life than the dangers of contracting COVID-19 (from which I have already recovered). Couple that with absolute lack of evidence that masks stop transmission of the disease and the incredible hypocrisy of the elites who institute such draconian mandates, and I've had enough. I'm done wearing masks. Either I will not wear one, or I won't go to places that require them, even if that is incredibly inconvenient.

I thought everyone else around me was done as well. They certainly complained about it enough. All my friends and colleagues expressed staunch support for my civil disobedience. Imagine my surprise when I was the only person at work and in my neighborhood to stop wearing a mask indoors, in deliberate disobedience to the inconsistent and ridiculous mandates. Everyone likes to talk a good game, but no one wants to subject themselves to the slightest possibility of discomfort or conflict, even if it means retaking control of their lives.

Civil disobedience only works, however, if it is coordinated and undertaken by large groups of citizens. Mine has failed.

So, I give up. No one is following me. They are content to do as their progressive overlords demand and grumble about it quietly behind their face diapers. I can't continue to fight a one-man battle against the usurpers of our civil liberties.

Especially since I have now been beaten down back into my place. The powers that be have finally taken notice of my pathetic attempt at civil disobedience and cut me off at the knees. If I weren't alone in my defiance, there might have been a chance for it to succeed.

Mel Gibson's movie "The Patriot," tells the story of one patriot standing against the oppressive regime, fighting single-handedly to save his family and his country. There are two problems: 1) it is fiction, and 2) the character on whom The Patriot is loosely based, Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox), had an organized network of other patriots to support him in his resistance.

And that is something I don't have. A network of support. Watching Fox News, sharing conservative links on Facebook and Twitter, and making snide passive-aggressive comments about Democrats under your breath when someone comments about inflation or the price of gas may make conservatives feel smugly superior, but it doesn't actually do anything to help.

No one person can be successful in resisting the government. He may at some point be vindicated in his beliefs, but he will first be crushed.

I don't mean to be hyperbolic. I'm not saying I'm on the level of an American founding father because I don't put on a mask when I walk into Target. The stakes aren't that high yet.


That's the thing that discourages me the most, I suppose. If we aren't willing to push back against this relatively moderate infringement of our rights by refusing to wear a mask in public, who in their right mind thinks any significant number of people will resist serious oppression, if and when it comes?

We are talking about mask mandates, which the vast majority of people subject to them rightly think are ridiculous.

I know for a fact that the vast majority of people around whom I live and with whom I work think they are ridiculous. I know my family thinks they are stupid. We literally talk about it all the time.

Nevertheless, everyone continues to submit to them. It's just easier that way, I get it. But it's only more manageable in the short term. It's less of a hassle to get into the Walmart or to go buy stamps. But when you look around a year or two later, and everyone is still wearing masks without a thought, only now you're required to get the vaccine and like it or else you'll lose your job, and people who dare to ask common-sense questions like, "If the vaccine is supposed to protect you and you get one, how am I a threat to you if I don't?" are called fringe lunatics, and you can't go places without showing the government-directed corporate Gestapo your vaccine start to realize that maybe we, as a society, should have pumped the brakes on this whole thing a lot sooner.

That's something we could have done...something we could still be doing by refusing to abide by ridiculous indoor mask mandates. This march toward total domination of the individual by the State will only end when we, as free people, decide that it will end.

But I quit. I'm out.

I've now been formally ordered to submit. I will spare the gory details, but I have now concluded that I have no reasonable alternative but to comply. If all the people who had hushed subversive conversations with me about how stupid the mask thing was would have translated their words into actions, things might be different for us all. But they didn't, and they're not. I held out as long as I could, but without broader support, I now capitulate.

Perhaps in the end, before the bullet enters my brain, I to will also win the victory over myself and come to love Big Brother, in addition to just submitting to him. ###

Friday, October 22, 2021

Notes on "Why I Don't Get Involved in the Creation Debate"

    I believe in a literal six 24-hour day creation. I think the creation account given in Genesis is to be read plainly and understood as presented.

    Generally speaking, the old Synodical Conference Lutherans believed in the literal six 24-hour days of creation.

    According to Rev. Jordan Cooper, other American Confessional Lutherans who were not affiliated with the Synodical Conference did not necessarily hold this view. (Cooper, 2018) These were not the followers of Schmucker, or other unorthodox Lutherans in America. He describes them as Confessional Lutherans who believed in the inerrancy of Scripture. They believed that Moses wrote the Torah. They believed that Jesus was a real person, that He was God incarnate, that He was really crucified to death, and that He truly, bodily rose from the dead. These were men like Charles Porterfield Krauth and Henry Jacobs. (Cooper, 2018)

    To generalize, the reason these non-Synodical Conference Lutherans held to a more figurative view of creation had to do with how they understood the genre of Genesis. Today the debate over a six-literal-days creationism in Lutheranism is framed more between confessional versus liberal. Rev. Dr. Cooper suggests this probably has to do with the fact that confessional Lutheranism in America today is defined and shaped by the old Synodical Conference, and the synods of which it was comprised, most notably the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. (Cooper, 2018)

    Like Dr. Cooper, I also don't like to get involved in this debate because I just can't wrap my brain around it. Maybe this is because I am a life-long member of the LCMS and have been thoroughly indoctrinated into that way of thinking.

     If, however, you are willing to believe in an omnipotent God who can create the universe ex nihilo by speaking it into existence, why would you think that He couldn't do so in the time period of six literal 24 hour days? A plain reading of the text would suggest this. We aren't dealing with a poetic or an apocalyptic writing fraught with symbols to be interpreted.

     The other choice is that God created the world in a different way than He recorded through Moses in Genesis, but He didn't want to tell us for...reasons.

     This seems like the same kind of argument the Jehovah's Witnesses make for their interpretation of Jesus' resurrection. They say that Jesus' body did not rise from the dead. His resurrection was spiritual, they say. He could vanish and walk though closed doors. He could materialize and de-materialize at will, not unlike the angels, manifesting a body when they needed one. When you point out His post-resurrection appearances, they tell you that Jesus made it look like it was His body so that the disciples would believe.

     Your word is truth, Lord. I believe this is another instance of men who believe the supernatural working of God in this world to be an impossibility trying to rationalize Scripture. Your word is truth, Lord. With man this is impossible. With God, all things are possible. Even creating the world out of nothing by speaking it into existence over the course of six literal 24-hour days. Even raising the dead.

    This is, in fact, the entire hope of the Christian. For if Christ is not raised, we are still in our sins, and our faith is in vain. We are to be pitied more than all other men.

    And at the heart of the denial of the six-day creation is the denial of God's word. It is us giving in to the devil's one and only question, the question he asked Eve in the garden. The question he continues to whisper into our ears today: Did God really say...?

    If he can get us to deny what God really said, he can get us to separate ourselves from God. And, while I will not say it is impossible to believe in Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world while believing the creation account of Genesis to be figurative, I would caution that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. The end of that road of denying the miracles of God and subordinating God's word to man's rationality is loss of faith. It will ultimately lead to the denial of Christ's propitiatory death for the sins of the world, and His bodily resurrection from the dead. ###


Cooper, Jordan B. 2018. "Why I don't Get Involved in the Creation Debate." October 17, 2018. YouTube. 

Friday, October 15, 2021


    So, now that we all admit that we are idolaters, what do we do about it?

    We could do what iconoclasts (literally image-breakers) have done throughout the centuries to combat idolatry: smash the images to tiny bits, and then burn the tiny bits to ash. That’s what the iconoclasts back in the Byzantine Empire did. That’s what many Germans did during the Lutheran Reformation. Luther distanced himself from his one-time friend, radical reformer Karlstadt over this issue. Karlstadt advocated for the removal of all images and this incited iconoclastic riots all over Germany.

    The problem, however, isn’t necessarily with the images, it’s with people. It is a problem with our will. We naturally want things that aren’t good. We are given Christ, the image of the invisible God: Christ crucified for our sins and risen from the dead. Instead, we want anything and everything else. Most of all, we want to indulge the desires of our flesh. We want to be happy. We want to feel good. We want those things right now. The talking picture box in our homes and pockets gives us a steady diet of things which we think will accomplish this, and we plug it directly into our brains.

    So, what is the answer? Are we supposed to rip our televisions and computers out of the wall and smash them to bits?

    I mean, watching less cable news and fewer Tictoks is always good. The point, however, is not to reject technology or to become a hermit. There were plenty of people who worshiped idols before the invention of the television. We are still the same sinners when we isolate ourselves from society.

    The point is to recognize that we want the idol to make us comfortable and fulfill our desires. Our flesh wants more than daily bread. That desire for evil over good comes from inside our own hearts. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells the crowds to cut off their hands if their hands cause them to sin. His point was that it isn’t your hand that causes you to steal or murder. It is your heart that causes those things.

    We can’t cut out our hearts, can we?

    No, but we don’t have to. Jesus has already done that for all of mankind on the cross. He is calling us to repent, and believe the good news. By the washing of water and the word Jesus washes away our sin. He uses ordinary water and the hands of a pastor to do it, but it is Jesus’ death and resurrection that gives the power. In baptism He applies His word of promise to us directly. He removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh.

    He makes us, who were dead in our sins, alive in Him. ###

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. (Mark 1:9-13)

    Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism demonstrates the triune nature of God. 
    God is three persons: The Father spoke from heaven and declared His love and approval of the Son. The Son, incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and made man, coming out of the Jordan River to begin His work of saving mankind from sin and death. The Holy Spirit, descending on the Son in the form of a dove to strengthen and empower the Son in His mission. Yet, we know that the Lord Our God, Yahweh, is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). 

        Not three gods, but One God.

    And this appearing of the other two members of the Trinity confirms that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Old Testament promises to send a savior to take away sins.

    How God is one God and three persons at the same time is not given to us in scripture. The concept defies human reason. Still, just because we can’t understand how it works doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    Mark does not describe how Jesus was baptized. He doesn’t say whether John dunked Jesus under the water, poured it over His head, or sprinkled it on Him. (Wicke, 2004) So, saying that Jesus “came up out of the water” does not prescribe any certain method of Christian baptism. The important part about baptism is the application of water. This is basically what the word baptism means. Mark instead focuses on the work God was doing in Jesus’ baptism: Sending Him the Holy Spirit, giving Him power through that Spirit, and showing that Jesus was approved by God the Father and was ready to do the job for which He was sent.

    Why did Jesus need to be baptized in the first place? If that is confusing, don’t feel bad. It was confusing to John the Baptist as well. John the Baptist was calling people to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He knew Jesus was the sinless Lamb of God who would be sacrificed to take away the sins of the world. Jesus was the one Man in all of history since the fall who didn’t need the baptism of repentance John was preaching. So why do it? Jesus tell us: to fulfil all righteousness.

    After His baptism, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to do battle with the devil. Jesus would be tempted. The other gospel writers give more details about the temptations. Mark just tells us that Jesus was tempted by Satan. After it was finished, the angels attended him. This temptation was not some fake show. Being a real human being, Jesus got hungry, thirsty, and tired. He could appreciate power and wealth, and all the other things that Satan presumably used to try and get Jesus to deny the Father and worship him. (Wicke, 2004)

    Satan tired to do the same thing to Jesus that He did to Adam and Eve in the garden. Where Adam failed and gave in to temptation, Jesus succeeded. Jesus is a sort of second Adam. The first Adam brought sin and death into the world. The Last Adam brought forgiveness, life, and salvation. This baptism of Jesus is like a second creation, with a new Adam. This Last Adam will correct the mistakes of the first one, take away the sins of all people, and open the way of everlasting life to all who believe.

    As people who are baptized into Christ, we are new creations in Him. Our sins are forgiven, and His righteousness also belongs to us. ###

Works Cited

Wicke, Harold E., 2004. "People's Bible Commentary: Mark." 
    St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. 

Friday, October 8, 2021


    We tend to think of idolatry as something from ancient times.

    Only the dum-dums from back in the Stupid Ages would be ignorant enough to think that a carved piece of wood or stone was god. We would never fall for something like that. We would never need something like that. We know so much more about how the world works than they did. We are better educated. We understand things like science and physics. We don’t need moon gods and sun gods, gods of the seasons, gods of fertility, and gods of war. We don’t have to make up a supernatural cause to explain the things we don’t understand – because we know everything. And, even if we don’t exactly know everything, per se, we probably will soon because science and technology just keeps on advancing.

    But I think idolatry is more of a problem than it has ever been.

    The word idol comes from the Greek word for image. In English it means an object of worship. It is an object of strong affection or devotion. It is a false god, or something worshiped as God. Narrowly, idolatry is defined as the worship of an idol. More broadly, however, idolatry means excessive attachment or veneration of anything.

    Man can make a god out of money. He can make a god out of sex. He can make a god out of drink, or drugs, or digging in his garden. Confessional Lutherans might say that anything a man fears, loves, and trusts in above all other things is his idol. Just look around you. What do men fear? What do they love? What do they trust? Is it the Triune God? They might say it is, but only when push comes to shove will we really find out what we are truly worshiping.

    We might not even be aware that we have set up an idol until we are called to be a witness for Christ. Until we are called to choose between our “sincerely held religious belief” and our job. Until we steadfastly refuse to go along with the spirit of the age when it tells us to deny universal truths, or even the existence of Truth itself. Until we are called to live according to the faith in Christ we profess and suffer, or live according to our faith in our idols and live comfortably in this world.

    We are idol worshipers, in the Stupid Ages sense of the term. I don’t mean that in some metaphoric way, either. Don’t think so? We all have an image set up in our homes, around which we gather for hours at a time. Most people have more than one, because they can’t bear to be out of its presence for too long. It tells us what to think. It tells us what to do. It tells us who to love and who to hate. We look to it for knowledge and comfort. We go to it when we just want to shut off our brains because we think that it is only offering us mindless entertainment. In reality, it is possessing us with the spirit of the age and reprogramming our brains.

    What’s worse is that not only do we have the talking, lying image in our homes, we all carry one around with us in our pockets, myself included.

    I’m not saying that St. John was necessarily prophesying about cable TV and smart phones. I’m just saying that, when he writes about a talking image that deceives the people of the earth and causes all who refuse to worship the beast to be killed, maybe we should consider our position for a moment.1 What, or whom do we fear? What, or whom do we love? What, or whom do we trust above all things?

    If we do that, I think we are likely to find that the false god we all finally worship is the idol of Self. That is the god to whom all our talking images ultimately direct us.

    There is one image that we are to worship – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God. He is the exact representation of God’s being. It is as though God was pressed into the mold of humanity in the womb of the Virgin Mary, with everything that it means to be the eternal God concentrated in the person of Jesus. That man, God in human flesh, died on the cross as the ransom for the sins of the world. He gives that gift to us now through His word.

     Repent, and believe the Gospel. Fight against the idol of Self. Struggle against the flesh and its desires. 

    And turn off the TV. ###


1 See Revelation 13:11-18

Friday, October 1, 2021

On Mandated COVID-19 Vaccinations

The individual rights given to man by God, and enshrined in the US Constitution should not be violated merely because a large faction of the population have given into an unreasonable fear of sickness and death. Nevertheless, we are dangerously close to seeing municipal employees, whom we hailed as heroes a year ago for continuing to work during the pandemic, be forced to choose between their consciences and their jobs. People who have a moral objection to vaccines in general, but to the COVID-19 vaccines in particular should not be forced to take them. People who have recovered from COVID-19 infection and have been shown to have antibodies present in their blood should not be forced to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Bodily autonomy and integrity should be respected; no one should be forced to receive a medical treatment against their will. Governments are instituted among men in order to secure and protect individual rights, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Forcing people to choose either between becoming vaccinated, or becoming second-class citizens is destructive of these ends.

First, people who have a conscientious objection to the COVID-19 vaccine should not be forced to take it. The three vaccines approved for use in the United States all use abortion-derived cell lines in either their development and production, or during the lab testing phases. As an evangelical Lutheran Christian, I find it morally unacceptable to receive such vaccines. Scripture teaches that babies in the womb are alive, and are human persons from the time of their conception. To end that life without moral justification is murder, and a sin against God’s command. God calls us in the the 5th Commandment not to harm our neighbor in his body, but to help and support him in every physical need. To receive the benefits of such a vaccine developed from abortion-derived cell lines, however tangentially, makes me feel complicit in that murder.

Next, People who have recovered from COVID-19 infection and are producing antibodies should not be forced to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The National Institutes of Health has found that most people who have recovered from COVID-19 infection come away from their illness with long-term immune protection from the disease. A recent study from Tel Aviv University in Israel, the country with the highest vaccination rate in the world, has determined that natural immunity to COVID-19 is “far superior to vaccine-induced immunity.” Yet, in the United States, we are treating people with natural immunity as though they pose a danger to the health of the general public, if they do not receive a vaccination. We should recognize the benefits of natural immunity through infection recovery and at least consider it to be on the same level as vaccination-induced immunity. We should not require people with natural immunity to be vaccinated.

Finally, the rights of individuals to seek out or refuse medical treatment should be respected. No one should be pressured to get a vaccination if they do not believe it is in their best interest. All the currently available COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly and authorized for use under emergency use approval by the FDA. We have no clear idea what the long-term effects of these medicines will be on the human body. People willing to accept that risk should certainly be allowed to take the vaccine. People who do not want to take that risk, no matter how ignorant others may consider that decision to be, should not be forced to do so. Moreover, though these medications are being called vaccines, that is not truly what they are. These treatments are, in reality, therapeutics similar to the flu shot. They may not prevent a vaccinated person from contracting the disease; they may lessen the severity of the disease and its duration. While our society strongly encourages everyone to get a flu shot each year, we do not mandate it, and influenza kills tens of thousands of people every year.

Every day we seem to get a little closer to a vaccine mandate here in Hodgkins. The federal government is on the cusp of mandating companies which employ 100 or more people to require their employees to be vaccinated. Private corporations, institutions of higher education, and municipalities all over the country are instituting vaccine mandates as a condition of employment. Hodgkins’ neighbor, Countryside, has instituted such a mandate for their city employees, punishable by measures up to and including termination of employment. Mandates are being challenged in the courts all across the country. Some are being upheld, and some have been struck down. The best course of action would be to allow workers to make their own choices about the vaccines, and let them live at the level of risk at which they are comfortable. It is clear that the most reasonable compromise would be to allow exemptions to those people who have a conscientious objection to the vaccines, as well as to those who can demonstrate natural immunity through antibody testing, and to require from this group continued social distancing along with regular COVID-19 testing in lieu of forced vaccination.

Such constant testing and social distancing is itself divisive and, I suspect, useless. It could be endured as a compromise with those who are still afraid and want to retain the illusion that these superstitious measures protect them.

The general public is becoming conditioned to to believe that their friends and neighbors who choose not to get vaccinated for COVID-19 are somehow endangering the lives of those who are vaccinated. This certainly isn’t true. We should resist this misconception and respect the rights and choices of all individuals. ###

A New Name

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5-6).

We went to a baptism last week Wednesday.
It was for a baby. The baby was cute. Catilyn thought it was funny that a baby boy was wearing a white dress. We “argued” about the difference between a dress and a gown. We mocked the popular insanity by wondering how the baby "identified" and whether or not our congregation was slipping into heresy by offering baptism to a cross-dressing infant.

In his sermon, our pastor talked about what had just happened at the font. That child was given a new name - the name of Jesus. And, he explained, when that name is on you, it is on you like a target. That child now has an enemy - Satan.

Satan doesn’t particularly notice us when we are dead in our trespasses and sins. He doesn’t need to notice us. We are already on his side. But when we are baptized he does take notice. We are washed clean of our sin. We are renewed and regenerated by the working of the Holy Spirit. We are washed into Jesus. Pastor said that baptism is God’s will being done. It is God taking a child of man and making him into a child of God. You can see why Satan might notice this, and why he hates baptism.
All people are born sinful and unclean. We all need the salvation of Jesus. Because of our sinful nature, however, we think we are better off doing things for ourselves. We would rather make a name for ourselves than have the name of Jesus put on us. And, as Pastor pointed out, if we can’t make a better name for ourselves, we will try to tear down the names of others to make ourselves feel better.

But it doesn’t make us feel better, not to any lasting degree, anyway. And it certainly doesn’t justify us in the eyes of God. We need Jesus for that.

Along with getting Jesus’ name in our baptism, we also get some other really important things. We get His death, and we get His resurrection. All who were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death, Paul says. And, Paul continues, if we were united with Him in a death like His, we will also certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His (see Romans 6:3-5).

We have nothing to fear. He has paid for the guilt of our sin by His blood shed on the cross. He has justified us by His resurrection. He has given us those gifts by connecting us to Him in our baptism.

Since we have nothing to fear, because Christ is risen, and because He raises the dead, we can live our lives here on earth as people who know they are going to live forever. We can be bold in loving and serving our neighbors, and bearing witness to Christ. We don't have to be afraid of anything that threatens us, not even death. 

Hello Again

Hello, again. 

It has been a year since anything new has been posted on THL. I figured it was time to return. 

Perhaps, that isn’t quite accurate. Actually, I was actively looking for an alternative to the blog. 

I played around with the idea of a direct email. With my nostalgia for all things obsolete, I even considered a physical newsletter. Yes, one that would go out via the US Postal Service. 

And before you point it out, I get that blogs themselves are totally 15 years ago. The blog pushes my nostalgia buttons, but I have other reasons for wanting to transition away from it. 

I didn’t (and still don’t) like that this blog depends on another entity to exist. That means if what I say here becomes distasteful to any number of people/groups, The Hodgkins Lutheran is at the mercy of those who host it. Hence, my desire to try and figure out a way for THL to go “off the grid”, so to speak. 

I finally decided that an old-fashioned Computer Bulletin Board System (BBS for short) would be the best alternative. I could definitely retain total control over both who can access it, and who has authority over whether it can operate or not. With a BBS there would be more of a community feel about THL. We would post messages, send electronic mail back and forth (the BBS kind), and share files. And, probably most importantly, a Hodgkins Lutheran BBS would have given me my 1980’s nostalgia fix. If you want to find out more about them (and I encourage you to do so) click here. 

But, I couldn’t figure it out. Seriously. I watched literal hours of YouTube videos on the subject and just couldn’t figure out what the hell I was doing. It was supremely disappointing. 

So, here we are, back on the internet. The more sterile and monitored world-wide-web, akin to Buffalo Bill’s traveling wild west show than the actual wild west. An internet where we have to be careful not to argue positions like men and women are different, it shouldn’t be legal to murder babies in the womb, and Jesus is Lord. 

Also, whether or not abbreviations count in Scrabble (They don’t). 

So, I’m going to try to talk about these things which are important to our everyday lives from the Christian perspective, because I don’t think we talk about them either properly, or enough. I’m going to do it positively, trying to show what Scripture teaches rather than how others are wrong. And I’m going to try and do it in chunks of 750 words or less (but no promises on that one). 

If anyone remembers how to set up a BBS, I’d love to hear from you. 

THL ###