Return from Carrier Trip

A few days ago I mentioned a “big event” in my life that was coming up. Well it has happened and it was awesome.

A few weeks ago I was presented with the opportunity to be part of distinguished visitor trip to the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Naturally, I said absolutely. The group included:

  • Coach Ron Zook, University of Illinois Football Head Coach & 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year
  • Mr. Adrian Melendez, Director of Football Operations, University of Illinois
  • Ms. Cassie Arner, Director of Football Sports Information, University of Illinois
  • Dr. James Thompson, Dean of Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Dr. Richard Blahut, Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Univ. of Illinois
  • Mr. Jeffery McDonnell, Board of Directors for PBS Channel 9 KETC, VP & CCO for J&J Management Services
  • Mr. Scott Page, Videographer for PBS Channel 9 KETC
  • Ms. Anne-Marie Berger, Producer and Director for PBS Channel 9 KETC
  • Mr. Dave Kurland, Senior Director for Community Relations, NBA Chicago Bulls
  • Mr. Samuel Powell, Pastoral Candidate, Concordia Seminary St. Louis MO

I’m not actually going to post about the trip in detail tonight. I’m tired… I didn’t get much sleep while on the trip (Monday through Thursday night). All I will say now is that the trip was incredible. It included:

  • A carrier trap (a landing)
  • A catapult shot (takeoff)
  • Viewing takeoffs and landings from 20 feet away
  • Viewing all aspects of the ship
  • Meeting incredible sailors and marines who literally put their life in harms way each and every day.
More to follow… including pictures and videos.

What does a seminarian do over break?

Ever wonder what a seminarian does over break? Do you think that we lock ourselves up in our rooms/houses, eagerly awaiting the start of the next term? Well, yeah… some of us look forward to class… but we also have lives outside of the seminary.

What am I doing this break (two weeks between end of spring term and start of summer term)?

First, I’m helped out at a wonderful church in Southern Illinois last weekend and I will be preaching this next weekend at my home church. This will be my third time helping out there… and my first time preaching… ever! While I am certainly nervous about this… I’m also excited about this opportunity.

Second, I’m doing a lot of work with the American Red Cross. I’ve been a lifeguard instructor for about six years now. I’ve since expanded out to nearly all the available first aid and CPR courses that the Red Cross offers. Yesterday and today I helped with a lifeguarding course at SLU. Tomorrow is a day of rest and preparation. Thursday I teach a First Aid and CPR course at a Lutheran Camp. Friday I will help with testing and skills tests at a lifeguard class.

Saturday I head with my wife to see my grandfather who is having is oil changed… aka… getting a new defibrillator. This will be his third one. Please keep him in your prayers… his name is Elvis (how cool of a name is that!). With this visit to Central MO comes preaching at my home church.

Then the big event begins on Monday… I’m still not entirely sure if the “big event” will happen… so I’m not going to talk about it. If it does… I’ll be posting pictures and videos. All I can say and ask is that you keep me in your prayers as I will be partaking in something that has an “inherent risk of injury or death.” Don’t worry… I will be with trained professionals. 

Then… back to class. Lutheran Confessions II, John and the Catholic Epistles, and (pending approval) Christian Initiation (a independent study course looking at Christian initiation rites and working toward a faithful Lutheran practice of the catechumenate). 

I miss my metro

Gas prices drive Geos from clunkers to chic

I do really miss my 1994 Geo Metro. I learned to drive a stick shift in that car when I was in middle school and continued driving that car all through high school. It was quite normal for me to put gas in it ever 3-4 weeks. My gas mileage averaged around 45-50 miles per gallon… it peaked at 52. Now certainly it didn’t have much power, it only had three cylinders. However, it was the perfect car for a young guy who had a lead foot. People often said it was unsafe… guess what… the car was actually built like a tank. It was knocked around, driven on gravel roads every day that it was owned by family family (12 years), hit by two dear, and it kept on trucking along. On a side note… I did once race a thunderbird… and won. They underestimated how hard I would push that car, especially off the line. When my family finally got rid of it…. it had over 185,000 miles on it… and it is still running.

My plymouth neon does get good mileage… but nothing else compares to my metro. I’m tired of all the hippies who brag about their car that is so fuel efficient… getting 35 miles to the gallon. My old metro may have been the “egg mobile” but it could kick your car’s butt.

Are we a cult?

Cult:

  • a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object : the cult of St. Olaf.
  • a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister : a network of Satan-worshiping cults.
  • a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing : a cult of personality surrounding the leaders.
Now the question… are we, the Holy, Catholic, and Apostlic Church a cult?
This question got posed to me in my contemporary cults class at CUNE. The general consensus of the class, after some debate was, “Yes, we are a cult.. and that’s okay.”
I started thinking more about this on Friday as I gave a presentation in my Teaching the Catechism with Luther class. I’ve been researching the early church catechumenate, specifically focusing on the mystagogical preachers, Ambrose of Milan, Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, and Theodore of Mopsuestia. I’m also studying Augustine, since he was a catechumen under Ambrose. As I was describing the early church rituals surrounding the catechumenate, specifically focusing on the Lenten discipline, the Easter Vigil, and the subsequent Mystagogy (preaching on the mysteries), I brought up the secrecy and the mystery that surrounded the church. This was not discouraged, but was encouraged by the Fathers. They didn’t want people to know, prior to Baptism, what took place with the Sacrament. They were encouraged to keep the creed amongst the baptized and not let it “get out.” A fourth-year said, “This sounds awfully cult-like,” to which I responded, “Yup… and I think that’s okay.” I also said, “think about it… we make exclusive claims about salvation, are a relatively small group (the invisible church), we have an exclusive object of our faith (Jesus Christ), and we do things that are considered strange (pouring water on a baby’s head and drinking small sips of wine and eating small pieces of bread).”
Yup… I think we are a cult… and that’s okay.
What do you think?