From this month’s Journal of Lutheran Ethics:
First, an article on the neglect of spiritual practices in the ELCA and how, if the church doesn’t offer pathways to intimacy with God, people will seek them elsewhere. I can definitely sympathize with this. As someone who (re)turned to Christian faith as a young(ish) adult I was expecting to be drilled in spiritual practices and other ways of deepening my faith. Alas, most of the ELCA congregations I’ve been associated with have scarcely mentioned, much less inculcated, intentional pracitces of prayer, fasting, spiritual reading and so on.
That’s one of the reasons I’ll always be grateful for my year attending the Church of the Advent, an Anglo-Catholic parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. I was exposed to a very sacramental form of worship, the daily office, the rosary, and other spiritual practices that I’ve gotten a lot of nourishment from. Maybe as part of our full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church Lutherans will learn to be freer with borrowing form our Episcopal brothers and sisters, who seem to have preserved more of our shared heritage in this area from the undivided Western church.
Second, a response from the former chaplain of Gustavus Adolphus College to Carl Braaten’s article from a couple of months ago (which I blogged on at some length here). This piece seeks to go beyond natural law and understand marriage, not as something that exists for purposes extrinsic to itself, but as a community that exists for its own sake as a union of two selves. I’m not sure I’d go all the way with this: doesn’t marriage, in Christian perspective, exist at least in part for the upbuilding of the community? But this in no way excludes same-sex couples, who manifestly do contribute to the upbuilding of communities of which they’re a part. If Christian marriage is partly a “school of sanctification,” then it seems to me that a Christian marriage should have an inherently “ecstatic” direction – the partners should be drawn out of themselves and give life to others. And this can have a variety of manifestations, including (but not limited to) the begetting and rearing of children.