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Author: Rev. Bernie Seter

Did God Have a Person From Porlock?

I have mentioned that I am plowing through “Grammars of Creation” by George Steiner.  It started our as a collection of Gifford Lectures and they must have been fascinating to listen to, but the reading is fascinating and exhausting.  To try and sum it up in one sentence is pretty much impossible without perhaps making and absurdist claim but I am going to try.  “Grammars of Creation” is about the organization of the way we think and feel and reflect on what we do that can be communicated to others in music or art or literature or speech that reflect the creative activity of God, whether we know it or not.  That may sound cant coming from a preacher, but as of now this is what I think I am reading. There is a section in this book that is about the idea of distraction and creation.  Here Luther is mentioned to have said that God created the Universe in a moment of “inadvertence, of absentmindedness” which would explain a lot from a human perspective.  I can’t imagine Luther with his high concept of the Creator and Redeemer making that claim except in jest.  The author himself believes that the quotation is at best an inaccurate translation if it was ever spoken, but it speaks of another flight of fancy that shows the human tendency to try and explain...

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Persons From Porlock

Coleridge claimed that “Kubla Khan” a great epic came to him whole and entire in sleep.  As he feverishly wrote it down and sought to finish it whole and entire in one sitting he was distracted by a “person from Porlock” who came to sell him something.  The distraction meant that his epic turned into 54 lines of unfinished imagination. The person from Porlock has come to mean any distraction that causes disruption of true work being done.  Distractions are things that take our mind away from more important things, or something that needs to be focused on. We hear a lot about distracted driving, distracted boating, and none of it is good. I’m told all the time that I am either A. so focused on one thing that I block out everything else especially my wife’s voice, or B – that I am so distracted but I don’t get anything done I just meander from one thing to the other. Once again,  either way,  it is not good. There have been scientific papers written over distractions, and how it might be a sign of mental illness. Now there is a book out that is basically a big distraction, called “A Higher Loyalty” by James Comey.  It is a bit distracting to find out the kinds of things that distracted the highest law enforcement official in the land.  Hand size,...

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Rev. Tom and Karen Puffe

Rev. Tom Puffe is one of those preachers that we talk about on this blog that shows the connections we have up here in the North Country.  He was in North Dakota for many years and his family is in Grand Forks.  Pastor celebrated 25 years in the ministry a while back and I missed it.  He is now serving in Thief River Falls at St. John’s and Zion at Warren MN.  Congratulations to Pastor and Karen.     Share this on:...

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A Chicken Sandwich and a Side of Creepy Traditionalism Please

So some wag at the New Yorker is upset that Chick-fil-A seems to be popular in New York City. He wondered how a company that had such creepy Christian traditionalism would dare invade the sacred cosmopolitan paganism of the right coast and I’m wondering if Chick-fil-A is popular on the pagan left coast as well. As we’ve said many times on this blog, words do mean things so what exactly is the definition of a “creepy Christian traditionalism?” I’m guessing it has to do with that strange tradition that one man and one woman used to equal one marriage. For 2000 years of Christian tradition that seemed like a normal thing but somehow seemingly overnight it became creepy. I’m sure the 10 Commandments as a part of a Judeo Christian tradition are creepy too. Those strange ideas about fearing and loving and trusting God above all things, and caring more about your neighbor than you care about yourself certainly is  creepy in the context of New York City for instance. After all it is a place where a woman was once stabbed to death in front of something like 60 bystanders who never lifted a finger to help, or even call the police. I certainly understand that sin has become one of those creepy traditions. The idea of sin separating us from God and one another that needs to...

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The Theology of Banning – part 3

Bill Moyers was the press secretary for President Lyndon Johnson a long, long, time ago. He was also an ordained Baptist minister. The story is told that one day he was at a dinner at the White House and a lot of people were gathered around a big long table. President Johnson was on one end, and Bill Moyers was on the other.  Johnson yelled at Moyers to open up the meal with prayer which he did. When he closed Johnson yelled back again at him and said “I didn’t hear you down here”,  to which Moyer  replied,  “that’s all right Mr. President, I wasn’t talking to you”. I love the story because it gives me a chance to go back and remember my catechism class. To whom should we pray?  Why should we pray?  Where should we pray?  When should we pray? You can get your catechism out and check it if you want to or if you don’t have one you can order one from Concordia Publishing House. But I digress. We talked about the fact that people are banning knives in London hoping of course to stop all the lunatics who are stabbing each other from doing so if they simply take away the implements they use for destruction.  Also in consideration is the banning of prayer anywhere near an abortion clinic.  So immediately my question...

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