Friday, August 12, 2005

Wealthier Than You Think

Worried that you just don't have enough to make ends meet? Feeling badly that you can't afford all that you'd like to have? Go here and see how your income stacks up to that of the rest of the world's inhabitants.

More On the ELCA Assembly

The day that Lutherans had been looking toward for two years with a mixture of dread and anticipation has now passed. Three critical recommendations were taken up today by the Churchwide Assembly in Orlando for adoption or rejection.

The day saw much spirited discussion, offered an incredible lesson in parliamentary procedure and, in my opinion, brought out the best in almost everyone present. Even the demonstrators who engaged in civil disobedience by standing in front of the dias facing the Assembly for several hours this afternoon, refusing to honor the Bishop's request that they return to the visitors' gallery, were at least quiet and not disruptive.

The Assembly considered three recommendations amid numerous amendments and parliamentary maneuvers.

The first called upon Lutherans of differing views on the cluster of issues associated with sexuality to find ways to be united. It passed.

The second recommendation would have allowed pastors of local churches to bless same-sex unions. An amendment (which won by just two votes out of almost 1000) got the wording changed so that the reference to same-sex unions was struck. The recommendation then carried by a 67% to 33% vote. This was probably a win for both sides since although the recommendation doesn't endorse same sex blessings in any way, neither does it explicitly prohibit them.

The third recommendation would have permitted the church to ordain non-celibate gay and lesbian ministers. A number of amendments which would have made this very easy to do and some which would have made it more difficult were defeated. The recommendation itself then came to the floor for a vote, and it failed. The tally was close, 51% to 49%, which is no doubt heartening to advocates of gay ordination, but it was actually not close in terms of passage since it needed a 2/3 margin to be adopted.

This result will be national news tomorrow, I'm sure, since a lot of people thought that the Lutheran church would just follow the zeitgeist and elect to ordain gays and lesbians. It didn't happen this time, but the Assembly convenes again in 2007.

One Day in the LIfe of a Soldier

So much coverage of the war in Iraq is merely skeletal. We hear only of the number of casualties and nothing of circumstances, tactics, and details of the engagements. This story of a military unit on patrol in Mosul, however, is Pulitzer prize-caliber reporting. It begins wih a discussion of the nature of the ordnance being employed against our troops and segues into a riveting tale of everyday life for soldiers and Marines in Iraq.