Thursday, December 31, 2009

Uncle Frank's Favorite Gift Of The Year Award 2009

It’s time once again to award the annual and highly, highly coveted Uncle Frank's Favorite Gift Of The Year Award for Christmas presents.

The prestigious award for the bestest present goes to, wait for it….. my favorite niece Valerie for her schӧn icon of the Last Supper. As she did last year, Valerie once exploited her uncle’s love of fine religious art and added to growing collection in his home office.

As I stated last year when she gave me an icon of St. John the baptizer: “By taking advantage of her uncle’s fondness of art that would give any smiling, purpose driven, evangelical convulsions as it wasn’t produced after 1966 and isn’t saccharine sweet and cute, she was clearly the favorite from the beginning”.

At the end of the day, Valerie is always the favorite for Uncle Frank's Favorite Gift Of The Year Award the because she is my favoritest niece. Thank you Valerie for the wonderful icon!

For previous years winners go here and here and here and here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I figure that before the year ends that I had better wrap up a few things that have been pushed to the back burner due to either vocation, family, or other drama in the real world apart from my time on the interweb or, simply put; sheer laziness on my part to post what I promised to post.

Earlier this year Dan over at Necessary Roughness assigned me a short list of items to write about that he thought might be interesting; Battlestar Galactica, comic books, living in the Haut south, embroidery, metrology, and image composition.

The only topic I’m gonna pass on is Battlestar Galactica as I’ve written at length a good deal on why this sci-fi show which pays tribute to Mormon myths is a favorite of mine. (This was especially true during the early republican primaries where Mitt Romney, a son of Kobol, was running to be president of the fifty colonies.) Click here for my many, many tongue in cheek BSG/Mormon posts.

So, let’s go down Dan’s list…

Comic books. I started collecting comic books way back in ’75. The overseers of the Cigarville Orphanage (Yes, I’m from a town that used to be called Cigarville and yes I was one of the infamous Cigarville 7 back in ‘82. I’m not certain who even remembers the Cigarville 7 if anyone at all and at the end of the day, I think that’s probably best. Google it if you care, I don’t.) would always give us a quarter to buy a comic book off the old spinner racks at the local drug store back when comics were sold in drug stores and supermarkets. Nowadays comic books are sold through small local distributors or bigger online companies like Mile High Comics (I’ve been a satisfied customer of theirs for over twenty years now) and typically run over three dollars for a single title.

I’ve long said that comic books are something akin to the old Greek myths, which told tales of titan’s struggles with both the gods and evil men. Whether it is demigod delivered to earth in a rocket ship from a doomed planet or a teenager whose inaction causes the death of a beloved uncle and his seeking redemption through wise cracking heroics, it is these epic tales that first attracted me to an art form which married words and panel art. And if you look close enough, there’s always a good bit of theology thrown in as heroes must deal with the struggle with evil. The Daredevil title is particularly good at fleshing out theological themes.

I’ve been collecting comic books since ’75 and currently possess the largest private collection in my state. It’s some kind of disease I’m sure…

Living in the Haut South. I moved to the Haut South over twenty years ago and just fell in love with the culture. My first taste of the south was Texas when I was transferred to Fort Hood from Mainz, Germany. Talk about a culture shock! Growing up in the northeast I wasn’t quite prepared for the more laid back way of doin’things but quickly adjusted. I knew I was gonna be ok when I went to my local Walmart on a lunch break and bought a handgun; something that was nearly impossible up in Cigarville country. As soon as I learned that barbeque was a noun as well as a verb I was officially welcomed by the locals as one of their own, Yep, I found myself a home in Texas.

Wanting to remain in the aviation avionics field I took a job a little bit north of Texas and settled down with my missus. We’ve been living in the Haut South ever since even though I did eventually leave the aviation field (more on that later). The locals are not as welcoming to those from the northeast. The reason for this that Yankees have a nasty habit of leaving their ancestral homes disgusted with their culture, transplanting to my little area, and promptly running for city and town council to show these bunch of hicks how to do things the right way (just like they do in Cigarville). This creates a good bit of animosity with those who think their culture is cultured enough and don’t need no damn Yankee to tell ‘em otherwise. The haut goes both ways ‘round here and is palatable.

Embroidery. I don’t know jack about embroidery. I designed the logo for POTF with the help of my quality manager (this was before I knew how to “photoshop” images) and sent the created image off to be formated into a file that could be read by one of them there fancy embroidery gizmos. The average fee to do this is about a hundred bucks from a reputable embroidery shop and it’s worth every penny if it’s done right.

Metrology. The reason Dan asked me to write about metrology is that he knew that I was a metrologist. I know what you’re thinking and no, I’m not one of those guys on tv that yap about the weather. The weather guys are meteorologists. I’m a metrologist which quite a bit different.

Metrology is defined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures as "the science of measurement, embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology." Sounds simple doesn’t it? My vocation has me dealing mostly with laboratory instruments that measure mass down to the microgram. Tiny little things those micrograms. Some of the instruments that I service and calibrate have the capability to read the mass of air particles or fingerprints left on an object. The work I do is mostly preventative although lately I am finding myself doing more and more repairs as customer’s budgets for capital expenditure necessitate units are fixed rather than replaced.

Metrology, while precise, isn’t as an exact science as one might imagine. There are, especially in the FDA regulated pharmaceutical industry, complex and therefore expensive calculations to determine the various levels of uncertainty of measurement affecting all levels within the manufacturing process to remain compliant with regulatory bodies. Compliance is expensive and a companies have to weigh (no pun intended) the value of uncertainities of measurement of the laboratory instruments, ingrediants, and even packaging with the effect on the quality of their product. It would be nice to have every laboratory balance weigh perfectly but even if that were possible, the cost of maintaining such a standard would drive the price up of medications to the point where we could no longer afford even an asprin much less those expensive medications we all need to remain healthy.

I’ve been in the metrology field for almost fifteen years now and almost every day is a hoot. I’ve got good customers and I work for a great family owned operation in the Haut South, what more could I ask for?

Anybody have questions?

The next post will be on the final item on Dan’s list; image composition. I’m working on something a little different as far as format is concerned for this one…

Monday, December 28, 2009

Is There A Wrong Way To Use A Processional Cross? I Think So…

Before this weekend I didn’t think there was a way to inproperly use a processional cross and upon visiting a new church this past weekend I discovered I was very much mistaken.

What is a processional cross? A processional cross is usually a crucifix (but sometimes a plain cross with no corpus for those groups or individuals who deem a crucifix too Roman Catholic or offensive) which is carried at the head of a procession and which is mounted upon a long staff or handle to be easily seen by members of the congregation.

What is a processional cross used for? The Altar Guild Manual (available here at Concordia Publishing House) has this to say about the use of the processional cross:

As the name implies, this cross is used in processions. It may be carried in an entrance procession at the beginning of the service, the Gospel procession (when the minister and attendants carry the lectionary of gospel book into the middle of the nave for reading the Gospel), or, if customary, to the gravesite in the service for the Burial of the Dead. When it is not being carried during the service, the processional cross rests in a stand in the chancel or in a bracket mounted on the chancel wall (p. 44).

As I’ve already stated I visited another congregation this weekend and I was having to pay extra close attention to the liturgy or order of service so I didn’t get even more confused than is my normal state. Everything was the same, but very different.

After the first praise song led by what I would deem a pretty well trained praise band the vicar led a childrens sermon that was based on what the Gospel reading of the day. About mid-way through children’s sermon a nice young lady brought the prosessional cross into the sanctuary (the The Altar Guild Manual is only a guide and there are no synod bylaws stating that a MUST be kept up in front of the church or chapel) and stood behind the raggamuffins as they listened and interacted with the vicar. After the vicar completed his task the young lady turned around, lifted the cross up as is the custom when moving from one location to another, and led the children out of the sanctuary before the adults started the worship service with the confession of sins.

I don’t think that the processional cross in traditional orthodox Christianity was ever used to usher children out of church, into a nursury, or away from the adults as they receive God’s divine gifts through the preached Word and administered Sacraments! I’ve made no secret here at POTF on my thought that children should included in the Divine Service as they need those same gifts of Word and Sacrament as much as you and I do!

A processional cross has always been used to announce or hearld the Gospel coming into midst of the faithful and has been done so for as long as people have gather in such large numbers that it was difficult to see what was going on. All the early christians did is to take a page out the military’s handbook when they used a guidon to direct troops in battle or marching in ceremonies. Granted, the first prosessionals used not crucifixes but banners but it was an easy transition for the first Christians.

The more I think about this past weekend the more it bothers me. There is something wrong with marching kids out of church so the adults can do their thing. There is something especially wrong with marching the ragamuffins out with a processional cross as if it were some ceremony that is good and edifying!

The processional cross can and should be used to announce that the Gospel is in the midst of the faithful and not be used to lead children away from the congregation gathered to receive our Lord’s gifts. But that’s just my thoughts on the matter…

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Word Became Flesh And Dwelt Among Us

From the Gospel according to Saint John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son,[f who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Merry Christmas from both the missus and myself to our families and friends, whether we’ve met or not as we celebrate the Word taking on human flesh and dwelling with and redeeming His creation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time Out’s O Great Antiphons

Dan at Necessary Roughness has been posting the O Great Antiphons on his Time Out website daily and leading up to Christmas.

What are the great O Antiphons? Quoting über-blogger Rev. Paul McCain’s website extraordinaire CyberBrethren:

The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil

Here are the O Antiphons:

O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High,
Pervading and permeating all creation, mightily ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

O Adonai and ruler of the house of Israel,
Who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai:
Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us.

O Root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign before the people,
Before whom kings are mute and to whom the nations will do homage:
Come quickly to deliver us.

O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel,
You open and no one can close, You close and no one can open:
Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting:
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death

O King of the nations,
The ruler they long for, the cornerstone uniting all people:
Come and save us all, whom You formed out of clay.

O Emmanuel, our King and our Lord,
The anointed for the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Click on the O Antiphons above and the link will send you to Dan’s corresponding Time Out episode.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Time Out Episode 44

Dan over at Necessary Roughness has the newest Time Out; Time Out, Episode 44 posted.

The Scripture reading for this episode is the second chapter of Philippians and the hymn is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” found on page 357 in the Lutheran Service Book.

Instead of a collect separating the Bible passage from the hymn, Kantor Beethe sings the first of the “O” Antiphons, O Wisdom. The text is from the LSB, included with Hymn 357, but the psalm tone is from the Brotherhood Prayer Book, published by Emmanuel Press. Psalm tone used with permission.

The other “O” Antiphons will appear here over the next six days

Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank Dan for doing such a great job on Time Out, Episode 44 !

Previous Time Out episodes:

Time Our Episode 43
Time Our Episode 42
Time Our Episode 41
Time Our Episode 40
Time Our Episode 39
Time Our Episode 38

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Necessary Roughness Scores With Second Blog Of The Week Pick

Congratulations are in order as Dan over at Necessary Roughness scored his second Issues, Etc.’s Blog of the Week with producer Jeff Schwarz selecting Dan’s post Repentance is the Better Miracle for his weekly pick last Friday.

Truth be told, nearly all of Dan’s posts are worthy of blog of the week and Necessary Roughness has long been a favorite here at POTF. Congrats Dan on the well deserved win.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Thesis’s Concerning The Catechesis Of Youth

1) Youth are able to be and therefore must be taught in-depth studies of Scripture.

2) Youth are able to be and therefore must be taught the historical confessions.

3) Youth do have the capability to understand the complex doctrines articulated in Scripture by the prophets of the Old Testament as well as Christ and the apostles of the New Testament.

4) Youth must be taught apologetics so that they will be prepared, upon leaving their first church home, to deal with world views contrary to those articulated in Scripture.

5) Youth must be taught apologetics so that they will be prepared, upon leaving their first church home, to deal with the cults and sects whose theology is contrary to that which is articulated in Scripture but that makes the claim that they represent Christianity.

6) It is the responsibility of the community of believers gathered together as a congregation to instruct youth in all matters of the catholic faith as articulated in Scripture.

7) It is also the responsibility of the parents of the youth to instruct them in all matters of the catholic faith as articulated in Scripture.

8) To not properly instruct youth in all things concerning Christ is to reject and go against the very words of Christ and that of the apostles in Holy Scripture.

9) To not properly instruct youth in all things concerning Christ so as to attract individuals whom have no interest in Christian education also goes against the very words of Christ and the apostles in Holy Scripture.

10) To not properly instruct youth in all things concerning Christ is a failing of the vocations of parent, Sunday school teacher, members of the local congregation, and pastor and such a failing risks losing youth to a culture that rejects Christ and thereby Hell itself.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Are Old Hymns Outdated?

This soundbite is a quite a bit late as my windows based laptop that I had most of my files on had a pretty serious problem (hey, what windows based machine doesn’t haven’t problems…) and had to be carted off to be fixed. Well, the laptop is back and almost all my files are back where they are supposed to be. With that said…

Today’s soundbite is from the same segment that gave us the last soundbite of the day and gives us Rev. Dr. Richard Stuckwisch of Emmaus Lutheran Church-South Bend, IN answering the question “are old hymns outdated and can they still be relevant in today’s church?”

Friday, December 04, 2009

Lunch Delayed

A programming note; my lunch with the Mormons had to be delayed because my workload this week was busier than it had been in months. I promise I’ll let ya’ll know how it goes when I am able to reschedule our meeting.

When I called the local missionary center to let them know that I was going to be out of town the day of scheduled meeting I was told that it is two elders that were to meet with me. Elders? I was under the assumption that they would be sending me younger, less theologically trained missionaries.

Usually the missionaries that knock on my door on Saturday mornings have a ton of scripture verses memorized but have no real working knowledge of their doctrinal systems. How I carry on a conversation with folks depends of their understanding of their own theological system whether it’s my Baptist neighbor or a scientologist looking for Zenu’s mothership.

I’m gonna have to do a bit of research and figure out what exactly the LDS folks mean when they say someone is an elder. With there being a local LDS temple in my area it is entirely within the realm of possibility that that I’ll get to chat with the guys who have temple privileges. If that is the case, our conversation will be a very different one than I had originally envisioned.