Oh, Really?

From Brit Hume’s “The Grapevine” (the best news segment on television–wish I still had cable):

Admission of Guilt

Former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian — who called himself a martyr and a victim of anti-Muslim sentiment after he was acquitted on terrorism charges in December — now admits he helped fund the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad.

Al-Arian pled guilty to raising money for the group, and conspiring to hide the identities of its members… and despite previous testimony, admitted to knowing that his contributions could be used for acts of violence. The Tampa Tribune reports that Al-Arian will be deported to an unknown destination, after serving a short jail sentence.


Good Friday Sermon

[The following is Pr. Petersen’s sermon for Good Friday; “To subscribe [to the sermon list] send an e-mail to: RedeemerNews-subscribe@egroups.com”]

Outside the City of Peace a war rages. It is an epic battle and the hour of greatest evil. Everywhere we look it is wrong. Creation is fallen and is being abused by demons. Mary has the worst of all worlds. According to tradition, she is a virgin and a widow, doubly denied, and she must watch her only Son be mocked, tortured, and executed for crimes He did not commit. It is noon and the sun is blazing in the sky, but it gives no light.

Strangest of all, the innocent Man is rightly condemned. This is what His Father, who loves Him and is well-pleased with Him, wants. His Father, that just and jealous God of Abraham, is pleased to see Him become sin, to cut Him off from heaven, to hold back the angelic host. The Lamb’s limbs are stretched in cruel torture and pinned to the crossbeams of hate with vicious, tearing nails. His bones ached with guilt not His own. His soul suffered great agony. Then His heart ceased to pump and His side was split open and His life poured out upon the ground.

There, in the shadow of Mt. Zion, He who is Life, is dead. She who is highly favored of the Lord, that most blessed of all women, finds her heart pierced through and through. She knows suffering that no widow, no mother should ever know. Everything is wrong at the cross. Everything is broken. It is the mirror image of the original creation. Order is disintegrating. Virgins do not have children. Innocent men are not rightly condemned. God does not die.
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Monkeys with AIDS and Babies with Stem Cells

So monkeys–specifically, sooty mangabeys–carry the AIDS virus. Scientists in Georgia want to know why these monkeys don’t get sick. They can pass the disease on to other creatures who do get sick. In order to find out why these particular monkeys don’t get sick, the researchers have to expose them to viruses and do “invasive” surgeries. The problem? After the Yerkes National Primate Research Center started gathering and housing a colony of the sooty monkeys, they were placed on the endangered list.

The Yerkes center is trying to get around the law by promising to support sooty monkeys in the wild. Naturally, animal-rights activists aren’t happy with the trade-off.

What interested me was this line: “Also, [activists] argue, experimentation with sooties may not be fruitful.” I’m wondering if the same activists who worry about harming monkeys to help humans have the same qualms about harvesting stem cells (read: killing) from fertilized eggs (read: babies) to help adult humans. Maybe someone could call around and do a survey…


Good Friday

Almighty God, we beseech Thee graciously to behold this Thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed and given up into the hands of wicked men and to suffer death upon the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle;
Sing the ending of the fray.
Now above the cross, the trophy,
Sound the loud triumphant lay;
Tell how Christ, the world’s redeemer,
As a victim won the day.

Tell how, when at length the fullness
Of the appointed time was come,
He, the Word, was born of woman,
Left for us his Father’s home,
Blazed the path of true obedience,
Shone as light amidst the gloom.

Thus, with thirty years accomplished,
He went forth from Nazareth,
Destined, dedicated, willing,
Did the work, and met his death;
Like a lamb he humbly yielded
On the cross his dying breath.

Faithful cross, true sign of triumph,
Be for all the noblest tree;
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit your equal be;
Symbol of the world’s redemption,
For your burden makes us free.

Unto God be praise and glory;
To the Father and the Son,
To the eternal Spirit honor
Now and evermore be done;
Praise and glory in the highest
While the timeless ages run. (“Sing, My Tongue,” LW 117)

Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God. (“Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted,” st. 3, TLH 153)



After going through the checkout at the grocery store this morning, I am pretty sure the clerk said, “Happy Holiday.” Now, Good Friday is a holy day, but, for some reason, I do not think that this phrase fits with the day. Unfortunately, I did not think of a response quick enough as I walked away. What would you have said in response?

Maundy Thursday

His Word proclaims, and we believe,
That in this Supper we receive
His very body, as He said,
His very blood for sinners shed. (“The Death of Jesus Christ, Our Lord,” st. 4, TLH 163)

Jesus, Thy feast we celebrate;
We show Thy death, we sing Thy name,
Till Thou return and we shall eat
The marriage supper of the Lamb. (“‘Twas on That Dark, That Doleful Night,” st. 5, TLH 164)

Go to dark Gethsemane,
All who feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see.
Watch with him one bitter hour;
Turn not from his griefs away;
Learn from Jesus Christ to pray. (“Go to Dark Gethsemane,” st. 1, LW 110)

O Lord God, who hast left unto us in a wonderful Sacrament a memorial of Thy Passion, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may so use this Sacrament of Thy body and blood that the fruits of Thy redemption may continually be manifest in us; Thou, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


But It’s Not Worse Than Any Other Sin! (Or Is It?)

My wife asks me why I get so worked up over homosexual sin. “You don’t get as mad about heterosexual sin,” she says. Well, that’s not quite true. All sin is damning. But I am unaware of any adulterers’ rights marches or fornicators’ lobbyists. (Well, maybe there are one or two; but when you see things like lobbying for the rights of single people, it’s so absurd that it’s not worth bothering with. And those greeting cards for adulterers never quite caught on, I’m guessing. Also, NAMBLA doesn’t count, yet. Most people still instinctively retch at the name, and justifiably so. We’ll see how long the rhetoric remains on the side of those who oppose NAMBLA’s “policies.” That’s a euphemism, in case you didn’t catch it.) Whatever sin is currently being paraded around as normal, that’s the sin that will receive the most attention. Whether it should or not is another question.

And, frankly, I think homosexual sin might indeed be “worse” than most heterosexual sin. I didn’t say more damning. Damned is damned is damned. But did you ever notice in the Old Testament how God prescribes punishments relative to the crimes? He doesn’t say “stone everyone,” or “pardon everyone.” Distinctions are made between, say, sleeping with your aunt or with someone of the same sex, and lying (as in, telling a falsehood). It is God who gives the regulations and the penalties for breaking them. And they are not all the same.

Homosexual sin fundamentally inverts the human sexual relationship as God created it. Heterosexual sin (still damning, remember), in a twisted, distorted way, still preserves that created order–“order” here meaning “the way it’s supposed to be.” The idea behind the idea that it might be okay to have a physical relationship with whomever you please, because it’s really the inner “love” that matters, is simply and irreversibly opposed to the way we are made. We are not souls having a bodily experience; we are “us.” Souls and bodies cannot be separated. What your body does, you do. What your soul does, you do. You are you, not some abstract “self” trapped in a physical body. Christians believe in the resurrection of the body, not the resurrection of the soul. Even if all sins are equally damning, does that mean that the darkness and gnashing of teeth are equally dark and loud in all corners of Hell? Speculation aside, some sins have more damnable consequences than others, and some sins tear more readily at the fabric of human society.


School Expels Homosexual; “Outrage;” blah, blah, blah…

Why is this news? Everyone clear now? If you choose to attend a university that says you can’t be a homosexual, and you’re a homosexual, what do you think will happen? You’ve got only one guess.

The university makes sure everyone knows its policy on homosexuals, but apparently they haven’t been as careful with their policy on Christianity.

One of Johnson’s close friends, Jennifer Roberts, a senior from Belfry, said “everybody on campus is extremely upset about this.”

Roberts said Johnson was a person of high character, honesty and trustworthiness who had distinguished himself in several campus activities, especially theater.

“He’s openly gay but doesn’t flaunt it,” she said, then added: “I think you would be floored by the amount [that’s “number,” sweetheart] of gay people at our school.”

“I would consider Jason a Christian because so many of his values are Christian,” she said. “He embodies everything a friend should be. A lot of people are suffering because he is not here.” [Ah yes, the “Christian” “value” of “friendship.” Suffering? It seems Cumberlands students are prone to hyperbole.]

Roberts and Johnson worked together on a student-run television show, Patriot Talk. “I’m producer, he’s director,” she said.

Johnson was stage manager for a recent production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and was a key person in the theater outreach program. [Outreach to whom? Non-theater students? Heterosexuals?]

Roberts said some students will not be afraid to express their outrage.

“They’re already printing T-shirts that say ‘Jesus loves gay people, too,'” she said.

Well, that’s sweet. Of course He does! What does that have to do with it? He loves all sinners, even the open, non-flaunting type. That doesn’t mean He wants them fornicating with whomever. Just like He doesn’t want heterosexuals jumping into bed with the next person of the opposite sex with working genitalia who happens by. Come on, Baptists! Hell is still hot. Sentimentalism masquerading as love has infected even the fire-breathing Bible thumpers!


Wednesday in Holy Week

Merciful and everlasting God the Father, who did not spare your only Son but delivered him up for us all that he might bear our sins on the cross, grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in our Savior that we may not fear the power of any adversaries; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


My Lent

Betrayed by the promises of flesh
My own thoughts are the garrote
Wrapped tightly against skin–
of naked neck and folded fingers
Angry blood on bitter hands

I give in at times
To nimble, narcotic blue
I desire even
Swine-gnawed pearls
Anything at all, fallen
From slobbering snouts, sodden


I have two hands to sever
Lest I steal anything from you
Cut my lying tongue from my mouth
So I speak no other Name
Pluck lustful eyes from their place of rest
I will only look on you in newly blind fear
If I lost my legs at the knee
(Amputation is a sharp, decisive mercy)
I could not help but kneel
But you know better
As if the darkness were fully contained
In these twelve baskets of an ancient meal
How do I cut off or pluck out my own dark heart?