The work of the ELCA Assembly continues in Orlando, and a lot of the folks in the pew are going to wish that it wasn't. Today (Wednesday) the Assembly voted 75% to 25% to adopt a new hymnal that its critics decried as theologically inept, musically vapid, and very politically correct. The new hymnal will de-emphasize masculine references to God, de-emphasize trinitarian references, and change lyrics of well-known hymns for reasons that no one seems to be able to figure out. Images of God as Father are downplayed because, in the words of one supporter, fathers are too often abusive and oppressive and that's not the image we wish to connote when we talk of God. The individual didn't mention that this view of fatherhood suggests that the Church views families as essentially dysfunctional units and views fathers as overall negatives in the lives of their families.
For the benefit of my Lutheran readers, most of the opposition to adoption of the new hymnal came from the Lower Susquehanna Synod, several of whose members spoke out strongly against it, including the Bishop.
Meanwhile, Lutherans in Assembly adopt what they call memorials, which are non-binding resolutions or statements which express the sense of the church. Discussion Tuesday and Wednesday centered on a memorial concerning world hunger. To read the memorial and listen to some of the discussion one got the feeling that it is the consensus view of many of the Voting Members (delegates) that if only we in the West would give more money to starving people we could eliminate world hunger. In fact, there was no mention in the memorial about what is perhaps the major cause of hunger in much of the world: tyrannical, corrupt regimes, especially in third world countries.
In Zimbabwe, Sudan, Somalia, and North Korea people are starving because the leaders of those countries are brutal thugs who take whatever we offer and use the money to line their pockets and the food to feed their soldiers. The problem is not an unwillingness in the West to do enough to alleviate the hunger. The problem is psychopathic dictators who have their boot on the necks of their people.
Anyway, your humble scribe entered a motion to amend the memorial to include the statement that the Lutheran Church will oppose tyrannical, oppressive governments whose policies result in chronic hunger among their people, and defended it by stating essentially what is written in the preceding paragraph. It was supported by two different pastors who grew up in Ethiopia and felt very strongly that what was said in the motion needed to be said. The motion carried by a 95% to 5% vote. One critic later sniffed that the amendment was too simplistic and that it blamed the people in Africa for their plight when the real cause of their suffering was greedy Americans.
Thursday, there will be speeches from the floor on whether to bless same-sex unions and ordain gay and lesbian pastors. It should be interesting.