All posts by Sam

Leonard Sweet in From Tablet to Table, emphasis added:

I have had people challenge me on bringing up my children without religious choices. “Don’t you think you’re being a bit imperialistic and colonialist, not letting your children choose what religion they want to follow?”

My answer is, yes, I am being a bit imperialistic and colonialist. But I’m that way about plenty of other things besides religion. I didn’t ask my child, “What language would you like to speak?” or “What economic level would you like to be a part of?” These things are circumstantial to our birth. They are stories we are born into. So if you’re born into my house, guess what? “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). A child doesn’t decide to have toes; she discovers that she has them; this is how a child of mine discovers that he or she is already part of the body of Christ.

Important words for Christian parents, and for churches thinking about how they incorporate children into congregational life (particularly worship and the sacraments).

iOS 9 Public Beta 3 Errors

I had trouble downloading iOS Public Beta 3 on my iPhone 5. iOS kept telling me that installation had failed because there was an error downloading the software. Restarting my phone did not help. Here’s what I did to get it working:

  1. I removed the Beta Program profile from Settings.app > General > Profiles
  2. Restarted my phone
  3. Re-enrolled my device at http://beta.apple.com/
  4. Rebooted my phone when prompted
  5. Powered my phone off afterward, and powered it back on
  6. Checked for updates again in Settings.app.

This time, the updated downloaded correctly. It’s installing now.

On Trying Not to be a Jerk

Somebody I follow on Twitter retweeted this crack against the Pro-Life movement (and the NRA to boot):

And my initial desire was to reply to both the source (Jesse LaGreca) and the re-tweeter.1

But, before I posted, I remembered that the young woman who retweeted—who I have not met in person, only  exchanged Twitter replies with a few times over the last few years2—had recently shared the story of a pregnancy that she and her husband chose to terminate by abortion. Form a worldly perspective, they had a “good” case. Based on their story, this wasn’t birth control or family planning. In any event, there’s no way to reply in 126 characters and not be a complete jerk. Nothing I could say succinctly would likely be taken by anybody in that situation as anything but personally accusatory and condemning.

Which is frustrating. Of course no tweet (or tweetstorm) of mine is going to change the mind of LaGreca or his admirer. But the silence of “crackpots” like me has for too long been taken to mean that we disagree in theory or on abstract religious grounds, but that we basically accept abortion. I, for one, do not find it acceptable. I believe that because life is sacred, that all are created in the image of God, that life is a gift from God, and that therefore the killing of the unborn is infanticide. Homicide.3 Nobody has the right unilaterally to decide they may take the life of another. Our government declaring it to be so does not change the moral truth.

Planned Parenthood and the NRA will both be held accountable for their actions. The blood of the innocent stains the soil of this nation, and it cries out for justice. God hears. God hears.

And of course, if the young woman whose actions got this whole blog post going were to suddenly agree with me, she would have to deal with a terrible problem. She has done the unthinkable. She has taken the life of a child. Unforgivable? If I asked her today, I suspect she would indeed say that such an act is unforgivable. And I, who on the one hand seem at first to be judging her harshly, can tell her that there is one who suffered even more greatly at the hands of evil men, while yet more innocent. And this Jesus died so that she could be forgiven, that he rose from the dead so that she could die and be raised to new life, that he ascended to the right hand of God so that she could spend an eternity with God.

Apropos of nothing, anybody know anybody who became a Christian because of a tweet? No. I guess I’ll stick with not being a jerk.


  1. I did reply, eventually, to LaGreca, who then made it personal and prompted me to take my Twitter account private. Because it’s always the conservative Christians who are vitriolic and vengeful, right?

  2. mainly about funny parenting moments

  3. If there is a case to be made that homicide is sometimes justified, then it’s not unthinkable there could be justification to terminate a pregnancy. But not everybody believes even self-defense justifies homicide, and if a person kills someone and claims self-defense, there are machinations of the justice system that go to work. There is no justice system on earth for the unborn. An innocent life can be ended on a whim.

⇝ A GUARANTEED way to get kids listening to the Sunday sermon … — LECFamily

A GUARANTEED way to get kids listening to the Sunday sermon  — LECFamily:

I was amazed at the words that the children recalled hearing in the sermon and their delight as they shared their joy with me warmed my heart. The adults in the congregation were thrilled to see the children so involved, so engaged, and so well behaved in worship. And their parents were grateful to have the opportunity to worship as a family and to not feel stressed during that time in the pew. 

A really cool idea.

“For the future to be good…”

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and Space-X (among other things), tweeted about some of the things necessary for a “good” future.1

But I don’t think he’s right. Technology doesn’t change human hearts, nor does it eliminate suffering. If history shows us anything, technological advances will only increase the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The biggest problems we face are not technological hurdles. It’s not that I’m opposed to research, technology, exploration, or discovery. But we deceive ourselves if we think that new technology and scientific discoveries (including medical ones) are automatically advances or progress.

Only God is good. The more of his kingdom that breaks through into our world, the better it will be. The more his will is done in us, the better this world will be. In fact, we don’t need Mr. Musks’s company or any other to provide us with a good future, because we’ve already been guaranteed a perfect one! In the end, all things will be set right. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, every soul will worship God, through his son Jesus Christ our Lord, by the Holy Spirit. Evil, sin, and death will in the end be vanquished, and our future will be perfect as we dwell fully in the presence of the Divine. I was reminded recently that our weekly worship as Christians should be reminding us all of that outlook.

Now if anybody wants to donate a Tesla Model S…well, just leave a comment and I’m sure we can get in touch.


  1. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he doesn’t think electric transport, solar power, and “the missing piece” are sufficient.

Did Christ Over Sinners Weep?

1. Did Christ over sinners weep,
And shall our cheeks be dry?
Let floods of penitential grief,
Burst forth from every eye

Chorus: Behold the Son of God in tears,
The angels wondering see
Hast thou no wonder, O my soul?
He shed those tears for thee!

2. He wept that we might weep,
Might weep over sin and shame
He wept to show His love for us,
And bid us love the same (Chorus)

3. Then tender be our hearts,
Our eyes in sorrow dim
Til every tear from every eye,
Be wiped away by Him (Chorus)

Henry Lyte. Beautiful Indelible Grace arrangement here.


It’s entirely possible I’m “reading” the song wrong, because what I’m about to write is not a theme picked up much in the “notes” visible at the Indelible Grace website linked above. But this song came up in my playlist earlier this Holy Week—I had played a song earlier on the album to test out how well a sound system was working and this followed in sequence—and it really struck a chord in me, particularly:

Did Christ over sinners weep, and shall our cheeks be dry?

Our Lord wept sinners, and won for us eternal life? Do we weep for sinners, or are we too busy waging war? Do we weep for sinners, moved to compassion and love in following our Lord himself, or are we trying to win them to our “team” for our own glory? Do we weep over sinners, or do we lament how difficult unbelievers make life for us? Does the existence of an us/them dichotomy bring us to tears? Christ wept over sinners—what do our cheeks look like? Do we weep for those who remain hopeless apart from Jesus? Do we long—deeply, passionately—for “them” to be included when the Kingdom of Heaven comes in fullness and every tear is wiped away and Death is put away forever? Are we begging God to stir up in our hearts for others the very same love with which he loved us?

The Support of the Past in the Present via the Liturgy

“Prayer open sour eyes, ears, our very pores, to the complete interdependence of ourselves with others and others with ourselves.…In liturgical worship, for example, we feel keenly our dependence on all the other worshippers gone before us, those who fashioned the rituals, the worship-forms, the set prayers. All those in the past support our personal prayers in the present. And our prayers in their turn feed back into the liturgy, imbuing it with a personal immediacy and quickening life.”

—Ann and Barry Unlanov, “Prayer and Personality: Prayer as Primary Speech” in The Study of Spiritualityed. Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright, and Edward Yarnold, p.  31. Emphasis added.

Well, yeah, except when all fancy ourselves liturgists and modify the liturgy every week (in the honest pursuit of good contextualization, no doubt). I don’t think Thomas Cranmer would have wanted the Edwardian Prayer Books to remain the canonical standard forever, but neither do I think it helpful for individual churches to construct their own liturgies—differing from one another and shifting weekly. We deprive ourselves of the past and rob our (biological and spiritual) progeny when we do so. And in truth, few of us have improved the words and prayers and actions and ministries of worship when we have done so.

I include myself this exhortation, because I, too, have considered “my” congregation as “my” own liturgical playground. Can we stop messing with the structure, form, and verbal content of our worship all the time?

I do not mean, of course, that we should cease to consider how to adapt what the Church does in the congregation’s God has given us. Nor should we cease to introduce or reintroduce practices that will enrich our common life. I am advocating for conservatism, in a pretty literal sense, though: conserving what has been received (though perhaps a few generations ago) so that it may be loving cared for, nurtured, preserved and presented to the next generation of worshipers.

Christ…died the last victim of the priestly religion, and in His death the priestly religion died and the priestly life was inaugurated. He was killed by the priests, by the “clergy,” but His sacrifice abolished them as it abolished “religion.” And it abolished religion because it destroyed that wall of separation between the “natural” and the “supernatural,” the “profane” and the “sacred,” the “this-worldly” and the “other-worldly”—which was the only justification and raison d’etre of religion.

—Alexander Schmemann,
For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy, p. 93