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27 March 2006

Bonhoeffer is a 2003 feature length documentary film that has played in selected theaters and on PBS. It is now available on dvd. This film was also my first introduction to the young German Lutheran theologian.

The movie begins with Bonhoeffer's childhood and continues with family photos, narrated letters and interviews with family, friends and former students. Interspersed are newsreel images of Hitler and the current events that accompanied him. The viewer has a sense of the inevitable — a "no way out" feeling as Bonhoeffer follows his conscience and time marches forward to his imprisonment and execution.

I was fascinated by this man's sense of purpose from the time he was a child and his bravery as he became more deeply involved in the plot to kill Hitler. Even Lutherans who are not fans of ecumenism cannot fail to admire Bonhoeffer.

The movie contains no graphic holocaust violence, but is still chilling.

I understand that CTSFW featured a 2-day Bonhoeffer conference in February. I'm sorry I missed it. I look forward to reading some of his works.

More information on this movie may be found at this website.

26 March 2006
  Lutheran Carnival XX

Lutheran Carnival XX is up at the main blog. It looks back a few years to a time when only a handful of confessional Lutherans could be found in the blogosphere.
21 March 2006
  He is Risen, Indeed! by David Erickson

Crossposted at Necessary Roughness.

Issues, Etc.'s book of the month for March is He is Risen, Indeed! featuring paintings by David Erickson. I received my copy last week.

The book contains 11 pictures with accompanying scripture, starting chronologically from Christ's hours of darkness until He presents Himself before His disciples and shows them His hands and his side.Open the book and lay it flat, and the painting takes up the right page and a little over half of the left, an approximate painting size of 10" x 14". To the left of each painting is a 3¾" vertical strip with the verses set in various typestyles.

He Is Risen, Indeed!David Erickson works in oil, and his paintings tend toward the warmer brown colors.The depictions of the dying Christ are bloodless, yet in one we see Him on the cross and in another three men carry the corpse with its stigmata and pierced side. An image of women grinding spices with mortar and pestle accompanies Mark 16:1-3, and the conveyance of extra information as to what may have taken place is typical throughout the book — the consequence of a picture being a thousand words, I suppose. One painting seemed a little inconsistent. In painting the angels in Luke 24:4-7, the "dazzling apparel" the angels wear is merely depicted as white robes that reflect candlelight.

All in all, the art is quite good. The Scripture is presented in ESV and is easy to read, except for the names, of course. The book does focus as promised on the acts of Christ rather than our own merits. Unfortunately my particular copy came with two pages partially glued together; it will be going back for an exchange.

This is a book that can be read to 5-year-olds or read by someone on a 2nd or 3rd grade level (with help on the names). It is definitely an enjoyable book that I recommend for everyone.

20 March 2006
  Project Wittenberg Update

Because its host organization disbanded and allowed its domain name to lapse, the main archives for Project Wittenberg were unavailable for a time. This has been remedied with the brand new main site for Project Wittenberg.

The Reverend Robert Smith, project director, sent the following email announcing the domain change and providing other valuable resources for scholars and curious Christians. I've gently edited it to make it more HTML friendly.

Dear Friends:

Project Wittenberg's main website has moved to a new server and now has its own domain name:

International Christian Leadership, the organization that hosted Project Wittenberg's website since 1995, has disbanded and its domain name is no longer active. Concordia Theological Seminary now sponsors Project Wittenberg, has registered the new domain name and will maintain the Project on its website. Project Wittenberg joins Pro Bono Ecclesiae, Walther Library Libronix Books, and the digital imaging project, Saarinen's Village as an electronic collection provided by CTS' Walther Library.

The Walther Library at Concordia Theological Seminary is committed to keeping Project Wittenberg stable and the transition as painless as possible. The only change for ICLNet based Project Wittenberg URLs is the domain name....

I hope that Logos Bible Software users make special note of the available Libronix books mentioned above. They're free, easy to install, and certainly provide excellent supplemental materials to the for-purchase materials available from various Lutheran bodies and publishing houses.

Cross-posted at Aardvark Alley.
18 March 2006
  Sermons of Martin Luther: Church Postils
8 Volume CD Set

Luther Sampler CDSeveral years ago Baker House reissued an eight-volume set of books, Sermons of Martin Luther: Church Postils, translated by John Nicholas Lenker. First published in 1905, it was a must-have for any theologian. The text was written in a long-forgotten style, but all the more gracefully elegant because of it.

While I have read these sermons — many of them several times, nothing compares to hearing them read by Pr. Michael McCoy of Emmett, ID. His deep, resonant voice lends a rich quality to the recordings. The inflection of the spoken word nuances meaning; ears perk up when eyelids would tend to droop across text. The musical interludes between each reading are beautifully arranged and recorded. presents the Sermons of Martin Luther: Church Postils in a package of eight CDs formatted for MP3. This provides eighty-one hours of listening time. Permission is granted with each purchase to copy the CDs for sharing with friends and relatives.

Other CD titles are also available from, including a newly recorded sampler, The Writings of Martin Luther, Gerhard's Sacred Meditations, and A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.

Sermons of Martin Luther: Church Postils

17 March 2006
  Coloring Books!

King TutHomeschoolers and classroom educators alike will enjoy this delightful selection of coloring books from Dover Publications. History for young students comes alive with the coloring pages by artists like John Green, Patricia J. Wynne and Ed Sibbett, Jr.

Greek LifeGreen's Ancient Greece title includes drawings of the Trial of Socrates, a performance of Oedipus Rex, and a wedding procession. Sibbett's Ancient Egyptian Design presents murals, bas-reliefs, and jewelry designs from various dynasties.

These are no mere cartoon drawings, but carefully researched historically accurate renditions. Each of the titles in this series is a welcome addition to the curriculum, helping the student to either visualize the historical event, or participate in the arts of the era.

Each title is reasonably priced, and pages may be copied as per the copyright restrictions on the inside cover of each book.

Coloring Books:
     Life in Ancient Egypt
     Life in Ancient Rome
     Life in Ancient Greece
     Life in a Medieval Castle and Village
     Life in Ancient Mexico
     Life in Celtic Times
     Life in Old Japan
     Indian Life in Pre-Columbian North America
     Ancient Egyptian Design
     King Tut

Dover Publications

13 March 2006
  Lutheran Carnival XIX
Please take some time to look through the Lutheran Carnival XIX over at Be Strong in the Grace.
12 March 2006
  The Hammer of God

Hammer of God: 1973The problem with reviewing this book is that I have become a little too attached to it. Ugly cover and all, the 1960 translation from the Augustana Book Concern, in its 1973 softcover reprint by Augsburg Publishing House, has become the default edition of the Hammer of God for North American readers. But it is a glorious novel.

Bo Giertz, a Swedish Lutheran pastor, wrote this novel based loosely on pastoral events of his own ministry, and, more than that, based on the history of the Church in Sweden. We have here the story of three pastors, each spaced about 65 years distant from each other, in the same little country parish, the almost unpronounceable Ödesjö.

As such, we trace through three different waves — a legalistic revival, pietism leading to Anabaptistic leanings, and finally, modernism with social relativism. In each time period, the pastor comes in from seminary thinking he knows it all, succumbs to the curse of the age, then, under the guidance of an older, wiser pastor, is guided into proper Law and Gospel, theology of the Cross, faith and preaching.

Under this, the reader grows in an understanding of what is the right way to approach sanctification, Baptism, church discipline, the Lord's Supper, and several other topics which are always relevant. In a report I once wrote in Seminary I characterized this as Walther's Law and Gospel in novel form.

It perhaps sounds formulaic. In lesser hands it would be unreadable. But Giertz is an excellent writer, and, in the standard translation, the power of God's Word rightly divided shines through excellently. Any amount of explaining the book falls short of actually reading it. This is a book which is meant to be read and reread, savoured and allowed to simmer in one's mind.

Hammer of God: 2005Sadly, for the longest time, English readers had been cheated out of the fulness of the novel. We were led to believe that it was only 8 chapters long. Fortunately, Hans Andrae, an ELCA pastor still on the roster of the Church of Sweden, undertook a translation of the long-missing ninth chapter in a new edition of the Hammer of God released by Augsburg Fortress in 2005.

I would unquestioningly recommend this new edition were it not for the voluminous typographical errors.* It appears that in order to typeset the new edition AF must have used OCR software but not spent sufficient time re-reading the proofs. The typos range from amusing to confusing to brutal. I don't need (nor do I have time!) to list them. If you read the book, you will find them. AF has been apprised of the errors, and, should sufficient copies sell to warrant a second printing, the errors are supposed to be fixed for the second printing.

As such, the best way to approach this book in English is to read the introductory and background material from the new edition, chapters 1-8 from the old 1973 edition and then chapter 9 from the new edition. Alternately, you can learn Swedish and get an even better book, as there is a certain amount of the book which was abridged by Clifford Ansgar Nelson in the initial translation, including more historical background and dialogue in the first chapter and a longer sermon excerpt in the sixth.

Strongly recommended to anyone who wants to see what Lutheran pastoral ministry really looks like in practice, as well as anyone who wants to read a good, theologically sound, novel.

The Hammer of God
Bo Giertz, tr. C. A. Nelson and H. Andrae
Augsburg Fortress: 1973, 2005
ISBN: 0-8066-1310-6 (old), 0-8066-5130-X

Crossposted at A Beggar At The Table

*A comprehensive list of typographical errors from both editions, compiled by the Rev. Charles Henrickson, is available in a 53k PDF file through Xrysostom.

10 March 2006
  Why Is Feminism So Hard To Resist?

Why Is Feminism So Hard to Resist?Feminism is pervasive and insidious. While in former times its lure incited a reactive army of angry warriors to take their bras to the nearest fires, now feminism's charms are aided by Madison Avenue. Her seductions are slicker, glitzed with fashionable bangles, accompanied by catchy jingles and well-crafted human bodies and the images of the perfect life. For the average child born in America today, catechesis in feminism begins in utero by what can be heard through the influences of a media-controlled life. Feminism is not for women only; it is a state of being for both sexes.

To understand how this is so Paul R. Harris has written Why Is Feminism So Hard To Resist? Both theological and historical, Harris's book is written to and for men and women. Feminism is not a condition that affects or is effected by one sex alone. Harris’ book is excellent in demonstrating how this is true. He neither blames either sex for it cause, nor does he consider either one to be the means for a return to a more pristine age.

Why Is Feminism So Hard To Resist? is written accessibly. That is, it could be used for Bible Study groups as young as high school, as well as adults. It is also excellent for personal study at home. Harris writes with depth, clarity and insight. He is balanced, so men and women alike need not fear they will be “targeted” as either victim or antagonist in an ongoing war between the sexes.

Why Is Feminism So Hard To Resist? is a valuable tool that will find itself passed around to many readers, and referred to often.

Why Is Feminism So Hard To Resist?
Paul R. Harris
Repristination Press (June 1998)
155 pages

09 March 2006
  The Oracles and the Jewels
The Oracles and the Jewels
The Academy, Vol. 1
C. S. Stanford

The Oracles and the JewelsEntos is a land created by, sustained, and lived in through the power of the Oracles and the Jewels. Any sacramental parallels are obviously intentional, for The Oracles and the Jewels is the sort of book Luther might have authored had he the time for fantasy fiction. Virtues such as honor, duty, loyalty, sacrifice, trustworthiness, and the value of ritual and the voice of sacred tradition are promoted throughout the book. Yet, if there is one word to define the theme of this book it is this: integrity. A life lived with all these things in proper balance is a life lived in integrity. Entosians were created to live lives of integrity. Entosians live only according to the very means which create and sustain them. Their lives reflect their Creator King in the same manner their enemies' lives mirror that of theirs, Ashkelon, who is the king of disorder and chaos.

The Oracles and the Jewels follows in the tradition of C. S. Lewis' Narnia Tales and J. R. R. Tolkien's Hobbit and Trilogy. The characters are solid and the plot develops with plenty of twists and turns. Imagery and detail are full and rich. However (at least in a Lutheran sense), where Lewis' and Tolkien's symbolism eventually fail to hit their mark, Stanford's finds the target time and time again.

The Oracles and the Jewels will find its way on our school's bookshelves. This is a catechetical journey &mdash yet so well written and entertaining young readers may not even realize it is catechesis!

The Oracles and the Jewels is the first book of a planned trilogy by C. S. Stanford. Drawings and maps by R. W. Stanford. It is published by Stanford Publishing, but is available through

The Oracles and the Jewels
The Academy, Vol. 1
by C. S. Stanford
492 pages
ISBN 0977181405

08 March 2006
  Early Carnival Deadline

TK of Katie's Beer and part of the Library's review committee will host the next Lutheran Blog Carnival. TK reminds us: Lutheran Carnival posts due by midnight this Thursday.
03 March 2006
  Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice

Originally posted on Necessary Roughness on January 9, 2006.

I finished Anne Rice's latest work, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, on the Columbus to Houston leg on my way to Oklahoma City tonight.

The book is a fictional but plausible first-person narrative of Jesus Christ in his seventh year. His family, now extended with an uncle, aunt, and cousins, returns to Nazareth from their exile in Alexandria, Egypt, and rebuilds their house and town. Israel is rocked by the rebellion of the Jews against Herod the Great, and Caesar sends troops to put down the insurgents as well as some innocents.

Mary and Joseph continue to keep Jesus's origin a secret, even from Jesus himself. Herod the Great is killed, but they fear one of his sons, Herod Archelaus or Herod Antipas, might renew the search for the prophesied King of the Jews. Jesus is bewildered by the miracles that happen: when another kid strikes him, the child is struck dead, and Jesus, asking the child to wake up, performs his first resurrection. In another situation, he prays for the healing of his uncle, and it happens. He wishes for snow, which had not occurred since the Nativity (according to the book), and it falls. Realizing that he can do miracles, but not knowing why, he prays to God to only do things that the Father approves.

Jesus receives additional clues from a rabbi during the Day of Atonement, who informs Jesus of the prophecy and the ensuing slaughter of 2-year-olds and under by Herod the Great. His cousin/adopted brother James finally lets the cat out of the bag and tells Jesus about the Star of Bethlehem, the visitors, and the angels. Jesus asks Mary one more time with this information, and Mary finishes out the story with what happened to her.

Rice emphasizes Christ's humanity a great deal, to her credit. Jesus gets cut. He gets sick. He cries—no surprise given his grief over Lazarus's death in the Gospels (John 11:28-36). He learns new words in Greek. There is a moment where he feels sorry for the children who were slaughtered because of Him. He has no direct conversation with the Father or heavenly angels, but in a dream he talks to an angel who identifies himself as a prince of chaos.

There isn't much to offend theologically from what I can tell. Rice's Mary supports Semper Virgo but makes no comment on the Immaculate Conception. According to the Gospels the first miracle performed by Jesus was the turning of water into wine at Capernaum (verse 11 of John 2:1-11). The early miracles are drawn from the Apocrypha and other legends. There is also not much foreshadowing into the Gospels, though there is one entertaining incident where the women of the family discuss the political influences that determine who the next high priest will be when the next Herod assumes the throne. They figure Caiaphas will be the next high priest, borne out in Matthew 26 and John 18.

Anne Rice writes very conversationally in this book, emphasizing the youth of the first-person narrator. When a miracle occurs Jesus describes it as "power flowing out of me". There were no complex plot twists; Jesus getting sick garnered most of my surprise. The book is an interesting interpretation of what could have happened between the return from Egypt and the 12-year-old showing up in the Temple going about his Father's business. Rice doesn't preach a course of action but just tells a story, which could explain her success with other subjects.

Recommended for everyone.


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