Jared Witt l 500 Year Anniversary of Reformation Day, October 31, 2017
We’re sorry. The position of Savior has already been filled. Others need not apply.
Today, we Lutherans celebrate 500 years of nailing this memo to church doors, and library doors, and municipal doors…pretty much any door we can find, because it just never stops being relevant. If you’re not sure why it’s still relevant, I invite you to scan your Twitterfeed or favorite news app. Greasy demagogues and be-robed religious nuts are forever getting up on their pedestals and setting themselves up as the new Christs, telling you that you need to join their institution, jump through their hoops, or vote for their ticket for your salvation.
And we Lutherans keep knocking them down. That’s our role in this world, I guess. We knock down false messiahs.
Jared Witt l October 27, 2017
There wouldn’t seem to be much cause for optimism when we turn on the TV and see a bunch of white supremacists getting airtime. But at risk of sounding like the sort of pie-in-the-sky, white person who formerly enjoyed the privilege of wishfully thinking that we were forty years beyond this level of racism and bigotry that, in fact, never went away for people of color; allow me to try to point out something that I still think is some cause for hope and celebration.
No, I am not going to argue that there is some silver-lining to racism. There isn't. But one thing I know for sure, even if I say it with the trepidation of someone who should probably keep is mouth shut more often on such things, is that movements for change can’t subsist on indignation alone. Activists and supporters of just causes need good news and small victories to fuel their movements just as much as they need to reality checks and hard truths.
Jared Witt l October 19, 2017
Recently, I wrote a blog about an interview in which one of my favorite artists, Matisyahu, the Jewish rapper, was asked point blank why he is writing music that is so much more interesting than the vast majority of Christian artists.
As a pastor, who loves music and hates most "Christian music," I’ve been pondering this question for some time and thought that I had already cycled through all of the explanations. But Matis’ answer was stated more succinctly than I’ve been able to—shamefully so since it turned out to be the explanation that should come most quickly to a Lutheran. He said, “I let the music be the holy thing.”
For most Christian artists, the music is not the holy thing itself. It is only a tool we use to point to some grander doctrine or idea of the divine. After all, wouldn’t it be idolatrous to make a holy thing of something as palpable and finite as a song? At first glance, this all sounds very pious and right-headed (and weary churchgoers like myself might swear that many praise songs have attempted to solve this problem by simply not being finite).
Jared Witt l October 5, 2017
When I say that the Bible reveals the “word of God,” I don’t mean the same thing as your average TV preacher means when he says it.
He (sometimes she but typically he) means flatly that the words in his leather bound Bible were more or less dictated by the the alpha and omega of the universe, and the human hands which physically penned those words were employed solely for secretarial purposes. If you were to suggest to this TV preacher that human brains, let alone those subsets of brain activity which we refer to as imagination, learning, prejudice, agenda, and the like were engaged in this purely stenographical procedure, it would be an offense bordering on heresy. His worldview requires him, as much as possible, to eliminate the middle man between God's mind and the biblical page.
If he were to learn that I, as an occasionally humble Lutheran pastor with no TV following, don’t mean what he means when I refer to the “word of God” in scripture, he’s likely to accuse me of needing to “go back” or “return” to the “tradition,” as if his way of reading the Bible is the ancient way, whereas I am just capitulating to modern intellectual trends.
On how Castle Church is stirring up a movement from a brewery in Florida.