Martin Luther and the Called Life, chapter 2, Luther: His Road To Vocation

During Martin Luther’s time in the 1500’s monks, nuns, and priests were seen as the only people who had a vocation, for they were called to a higher life in which the purpose of a vocation is preparing the soul for the next life. And the forgiveness sins was something that was worked for not freely given. And Jesus was viewed as a judge. In order for ones sins to be forgiven they had to perform the sacrament of penance, which was a part of confession, where sins are confessed then a “penance” is assigned for a satisfaction of the sins to be made. The degree of the penance varied in correspondence to the severity of the sin. Because of penance it was very difficult for anyone who was not a monk, nun, or priest to fully receive forgiveness, for no matter how hard they tried they could never do enough good works that were good enough. And with that Martin Luther began to question the understanding of vocation in the church.

In chapter two of Martin Luther and the Called Life Luther’s reforming views on vocation are explained and how Luther came to his understanding. And it is those views that we have today, that vocation is serving God in every accept of live, no matter occupation.

Martin Luther came to a new understanding of vocation during his time in the monastery. His understanding of vocation is that everyone has a vocation, and that vocation is the serving of God in every aspect of life. Luther also came to realize that everyone has for than one calling. Luther explains that everyone has a vocation because no matter of ones occupation God is still being served. And those who’s occupations are outside of the church are able to have vocations because they do not have to work to earn forgiveness, but their work is service to God they are forgiven.

My major in Computer Science with a minor in mathematics, and I am in the honors program at Concordia, which most members are church work majors. In fact the all members of the freshman Mu class are not church work majors, and all most of sophomore members are church work majors which puts them at an advantage when discussing theology but that does not mean they’re closer to God than the freshman. That is not the attitude they have by any means, the sophomore class is actually extremely helpful. And chapter three of Martin Luther and the Called Life taught me that just because I am not a church work major doesn’t not mean I can’t devote my life to Christ. My understanding of being a Christian is to be hands and feet of God, to show kindness and compassion and forgiveness to all those I encounter in life. Regardless of occupation God can be served in every walk of life.                    

Jazz Concert

The Vox 9 and Blue Rondo Jazz Concert was preformed by students, myself included, and a few faculty members to show case the musical talents of the students. I am a member of the Blue Rondo Jazz band, and I play the tenor saxophone, bass guitar, and bass clarinet. I play more than one role in the band, for when I am playing bass guitar my role is completely different than when I am playing tenor sax or bass clarinet. Just like as the book Networked described how people have different roles in each social circle they are apart of. Someone is not going to be the leader in every social they are apart of, just as in a band each instrument sections takes turn taking the melody. Humans take on different social roles depending on their social settings.

Preforming in this concert taught me the importance of understanding the different roles each  instrumental sections has. When I played bass guitar my role musically was very different from when I played tenor saxophone. Then when I played bass clarinet my role was different from when I played tenor saxophone, for I had solo an bass clarinet. And I am not a fan of soloing, because I am not very good. But, the point of a solo is to play anything with in the key of the music, and in society they are not any social roles like that. All social roles have expectations and standers, whereas an improvised solo does not. Which I why I dislike solos, because there are very few guide lines and rules to follow.

Book Review: Networked by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman

Lee Rainie is the former managing editor of U.S. News and World Report and Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Barry Wellman directs NetLab at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto; the founder of the International Network for School Network Analysis and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Rainie and Wellman collaborated to write this book to inform the masses on the role technology plays in the social world. They outline a “Triple Revolution”, the Network Revolution, the Internet Revolution, and the Mobile Revolution, the outcome of which is “networked individualism.” The networked individual is the focus. Through the use of technology “the social network operating system is personal- the individual is at the autonomous center just as they are reaching out from their computer; multiuser- people are interacting with numerous divers others; multitasking- people are doing several things; and multithreaded- they are doing them more or less simultaneously” (p.7). Through the use of technology we have become more socially connected.

The “Triple Revolution” has three parts, the Network Revolution, the Internet Revolution, and the Mobile Revolution. The Network Revolution is a shift from an agrarian society to an industrial society. In an agrarian society life was family centered, then with the rise of industrialization there was a shift from family centered to location centered. Society is no longer the sum of individuals or of the ties between two people, but “rather, everyone is embedded in structures of relationships that provide opportunities, constraints, coalitions, and work-arounds… it is made out of a tangled of networked individuals who operate in specialized, fragmented, sparsely interconnected, and permeable networks” (p. 21). Society became centered around were one is lives and works. The Internet Revolution was a shift from location centered to an individual centered society; also a change in how information is shared. It has allowed people to be in control of how and what information gets shared creating new methods for social networking. The Mobile Revolution has allowed for the social connection via technology to be made from anywhere. The use of mobile technology has made “people’s physical separation by time and space are less important” (p. 12). “Space and time become softer…location is becoming important – but mobile apps find people wherever they are…[and] distance is dead, it is being renegotiated” (p. 108) allowing for social connections to be maintained at all times regardless of location, distance, space, and time. Networked Individuals has created networked relationships, networked families, networked work, networked creators, and networked information. All of which focuses on the interests and needs of the individual and are for the benefit of the individual.

Rainie and Wellman’s claim that technology allows us to be more socially connected is evident, especially in my own life. Without technology and social media I would not be able to have on going communication with my mom and my family. For I attend college in Minnesota, but I am form Virginia Beach, Virginia so there is a great deal of distance between my family and myself. Technology has help made the separation due to distance less apparent because I can just pick up my iPhone and text her and have instant communication with her. Even though texting my mom and talking to her on the phone is not the same as being with her face-to-face, in person, it is better than having no communication with her at all while I am at college. Many college students use technology the same way I do to keep in contact with their friends from back home. Technology is being used to maintain relationships as well as to maintain and expand social connectivity. I have also used social media to start relationships with future classmates the summer before college, because I wanted to go into college having a few friendly faces to look for that first week and Facebook helped me do that. A Facebook page for the Concordia St. Paul class of 2021 was created for the purpose for us to create connections and start getting to know who our classmates are. Universities are taking advantage of technology by offering classes online. With online classes students of all ages are in a class with people they will most likely never meet in person, and yet they are expected to interact the same way as if they were in a traditional classroom setting by collaborating on projects and contributing to discussions. Online classes are proof that society is shifting from a face-to-face-in-person form of socializing to relying on technology for socializing and communicating. This shift is not necessarily negative, however we as individuals must be careful not to let technology completely replace in person relationships, because strong in person relations is the only way society with prosper. Rainie and Wellman provide a list of rules on how to thrive as a networked individual: “Invest in existing relationships via the Golden Rule so that it will be there when needed…Use information and communication technologies enthusiastically and nimbly…Use technology to develop your access to a wider audience that can share your interests…Do not count on a single, tightly connected group of strong ties to help…Develop meaningful new ties as you go along and be especially alert to reaching into new social circles that you serve your purposes…Develop larger and more diverse networks…Act “transitively”… Act as autonomous agents to cultivate your personal networks… Monitor and manage your reputation – your personal brand… Segment your identity…Develop the knack of functioning effectively in different contexts and “collapsed contexts”… Build high levels of trust and social capital in each network segment…Manage boundaries… Be aware of invisible audiences… Manage time well; multitask strategically” (p. 263 – 272). This addresses that caution must be taken when using technology in a social way ensuring that the individual is getting as much as benefit as possible from all social connections. For the purpose of networked individualism is that the individual’s social connections are strong and widespread.

CSP Christmas Concert

The 2017 Concordia Christmas concert was a wonderful production put on by the CSP music department.  The concert featured Concordia’s two choirs, the Hand Bell ensemble, and the chamber orchestra collaborating to deliver the message of the birth of Christ to the community. The amount of talent displayed by Concordia students during the concert was astonishing.

The Concordia Christmas Concert is a tradition, a ritual of sorts. There is a set order of how and when things are done, there are designated times, there is a designated place, and there is an inner circle and an outer circle. The program sets the order of when songs are preformed. The times when concert started was followed. The concert was always in the Buetow Auditorium. The inner circle was the performers and the outer circle was the audience and the purpose the concert was to bring the inner and outer circle together, make the two circles interconnected,  to worship the Lord.

My role in the concert was to accompany the hand bell ensemble on finger cymbals for two songs. It seemed to be an insignificant role, however without the finger cymbals the songs would not have been as effective as they were. All instrumental parts are interconnected, because individually they are just a rhythm, but together they make a song. Just as, as individuals we are the children of God, but when we gather together we make up the body of Christ, the Church. I learned that no matter how insignificant a role seems it is just as important as all the other parts, because it is the little details that make rituals so meaningful.

Book Review: Who’s In Charge? By Michael Gazzaniga

Michael Gazzaniga, the author of Who’s In Charge?, is a world famous neuroscientist, most known for split brain research. He is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he is the head of the new SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind; he is a leading researcher in cognitive neuroscience. As well as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences. During his split brain research Gazzaniga tried to find the answer to the question of who is in charge, more specifically if humans are responsible for their actions. He wrote this book for anyone who is also wondering the same question and who is curious of what he thinks the answer to be.
Content and Methodology
Gazzaniga’s perspective to the question at hand is that “we are all personally responsible agents and are to be held accountable for our actions, even though we live in a determined universe” (page 2). To answer the question he presents findings from his research and findings from the research of other neuroscientists and phycologists with the intention of drawing connections between the findings to help explain his answer to the question at hand, and that is who is in charge? Gazzaniga argues “that it [the answer to the question of who is in charge] is not that simple and that modern neuroscience is not, in fact, establishing what amounts to a wholesale fundamentalism with respect to determinism.” He “will maintain that the mind, which is somehow generated by the physical processes of the brain, constrains the brain” (page 4). There are two shifts in how Gazzaniga presents the findings. He starts off with neurological findings which shift into psychological findings which shift into sociological findings all to support his claim that responsibility is a social contract between people.
The theory Gazzaniga presents about responsibility as a social contract is well supported with findings that are yet to be disproven. Gazzaniga’s way to think about responsibility is that “it is an interaction between people, a social contract. Responsibility reflects a rule that emerges out of one or more agents interacting in a social context, and the hope that we share is that each person will follow certain rules” (page 193). He applies responsibility as social contract to the justice system, arguing that “ultimately responsibility is a contract between two people rather than a property of a brain, and determinism has no meaning in this context. Human nature remains constant, but out in the social world behavior can change” (page 215). Social interactions make us free to choose and that even criminal are capable of following the rules. Emergence is when small complex systems self-organize into new a level of organization. Gazzaniga presents the findings to show that responsibility emerges from sociology which emerges from phycology which emerges from neurology, strengthening his argument.
Starting at the neurological level, Gazzaniga explains neurons that fire together wire together through activity dependent processes which shape our brain making each individual unique in how their neurons are wired together. Because neurons that fire together wire together the brain processes information and stimulation and makes sense of it in the left hemisphere before we’re conscious of the information. Our experiences are post-hoc, after the fact, because consciousness is a slow process. He then explains that the concept of free-will must be abandoned because there is nothing we need to be freed from as individuals, but as a society we have free will. Since we have free will in social context we are responsible for our actions, regardless of social status. Everyone is responsible for what they do, even criminals who claim insanity. For criminals can and do follow the rules, not all of them obviously, but they have enough of an understanding of the rules to not commit crimes in front of police officers. Choices are made based on our experiences, thus we are responsible for our own actions.

Book Review: The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

Nicholas Carr is not a brain scientist by any means. He writes this book for the populous, indicated by the word “science” printed on the upper left hand corner of the back cover, because this book would be found in the science section of a popular book store. He wrote this book because he has personally experienced the negative effects of technology. The effects Carr noticed where that he could no longer sit down to read a book and deeply understand its meaning for a long period of time this was unsettling to him. So, in order to write the book he had to retrain his brain to think deeply and for long periods of time by disconnecting himself from the technological world.
Content and Methodology
Carr introduces the negative effects of technology by explaining his experiences. The effects he experienced, he claims, were caused by the use of technology physically changing the way his brain is wired. The wiring of the brain is changed by the medium on which communication takes place. He is setting up his main argument that “a medium’s content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think and act… if we use it enough, it changes who we are, as individuals and as a society” (page 3). Carr presents research that claims “the tools man used to support or extend his nervous system… have shaped the physical structure and workings of the human mind” (page 48). He then uses the research to assert that the use of technology is changing how the brain is wired in a negative way. The use of technology is causing individuals and society to shift away from deep intellectual thinking and reading that requires continuous, uninterrupted attention, and toward a way of thinking that is rushed and easily distracted. The main technology responsible for this shift is the internet, according to Carr.
Carr’s claim that technology has a negative effect on individuals and society because it is changing the way brains are wired is not necessarily negative. A shift such as the one Carr talks about had happened in western culture before, a shift from orality to literacy. Carr describes the shift from orality to literacy as positive, but the brains of humans were changed during that shift as well, so what makes one negative and the other positive? Society. Society had to adapt to the shift along with individuals. However, it takes society longer to adjust to the shift than it takes individuals so at the first the shift seems negative but society will come to benefit from it in the long run. When reading was first becoming popular, it was seen as odd to read silently to oneself and even as negative, because no one benefited from slight reading. Reading started off as something to be spoken out loud for the benefit of a group and the individual and over time reading to oneself became beneficial to society for it benefited individuals. The shift from orality to literacy took centuries for society to benefit from it. This shift away from literacy is only just beginning, so it is too early see how society will benefit from this shift, thus it is too early to say this shift is negative.

John Osborne’s “Luther”

This year Concordia St. Paul’s fall play was John Osborne’s Luther, produced in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. The play is not a historical retelling of the events of the reformation, rather it is a historical fiction story about Martin Luther’s father-son relationships. Martin Luther’s relationship with his biological father is portrayed as being one of disappointment. In the play, Luther went through life thinking he was a disappointment to his father and gave up trying to please his father. Luther’s father wanted Martin to be successful in life and not have to settle for mediocracy, because his father knew he was capable of so much. Luther found a more loving father figures in Weinand and Staupitz, his mentors. Weinand and Staupitz had faith in Luther throughout the play and were on his at the Diet of Worms. Luther found courage in Weinand and Staupitz. Luther’s relationship with God was full of doubt and fear, Luther was full of doubt that he did not have Gods favor. Luther’s father-son relationships are all interconnected, he needed all of those relationships in order to achieve all that he did. If it were not for all the people in Luther’s life the reformation would not have happened when it did and the Catholic church would have continued to be corrupt. The event of 500 years ago affect the events of present day, the past, present, and future are all interconnected. The events of the past affect the events of the present, which then affect the events of the future. So the Luther’s actions 500 years ago still affect the actions of present day. All because of the people who were in his life and the affects they had on him.

Seeing this play was an interesting experience for me. For, I am a Lutheran, was baptized and confirmed Lutheran. So seeing the founder of the doctrine I follow portrayed by the play in such a manner that made him appear to be a crazy man was slighting insulting to me. Because Martin Luther is a man I respect and the play did not portray him as respectable man at first. But in all actuality Luther was a slightly ‘mad-man’, for he was very passionate in everything his did, and to most people passion is seen as insanity. But it was Luther’s passion that made him so stubborn to not give up on trying to reform the Catholic church. Ironic isn’t it? That Lutheranism was founded because of change and Lutherans are known to hate change.



Homecoming 2017

Homecoming in college is rather different than homecoming in high school. There is no dance, no homecoming king and queen, no competitions between each class, nor a parade. On the day of the homecoming football game, the pep band woke up early (4am) to make breakfast for the students and also to wake up the freshmen. Before the football game a few members of the pep band performed a mini marching band show, then the pep band sat in the student section of the bleachers and played throughout the game. At the football game students, parents and families, faculty, and alumni were there to celebrate the school because they all identify and associate themselves with Concordia St. Paul.

Homecoming is a time to celebrate our school. We participate in rituals and traditions that bring the CSP community together because we all identify and associate ourselves with Concordia St. Paul. Some of the homecoming rituals and traditions that took place include the pep band making breakfast and waking up the freshmen, and for the second year in a row the marching band performing a pre-game show. The purpose of the breakfast prepared by the pep band is to bring everyone together and get their day started off with a hardy breakfast and to get them excited for the game. Which is the purpose of the whole week leading up to the homecoming game, rituals and traditions to bring the CSP community together.

As a member of the pep/marching band participating in the rituals and traditions is a ritual within itself. Because it brought the pep band members closer together. The pep band is a community within a community. We are leaders at football games to get the student section excited about the game. Experiencing the community coming together first handed was surreal. For when it was happening I was unaware of it, but thinking back it was obvious what was happening. I felt safe at the game, I didn’t experience as much social anxiety as I usually do, because there was a strong sense of community. I felt a sense of belonging, which I normally do not feel, so to feel a sense of belonging puts me at peace.

Book Review: “Live’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious” by David Dark

David Dark, the author of “The Sacredness of Question Everything”, “The Gospel According to America”, “Everyday Apocalypse”, and “Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious” is currently the assistant professor of Religion and the Arts in the College of Theology at Belmont University and teaches at the Tennessee Prison for Women. Prior to his university teaching career, Dark was a high school English teacher and preceding those years he received his doctorate in 2011. Given Darks teaching background he has experience in presenting his religious and spiritual philosophies in a very conservative manner. By doing so, he is able to discuss religion with little risk of conversation being shut off. Therefore, this book is for those who know proclaim their religion without shame and is for those who are on the fence about being religious and is for those who are completely against religion. Before the introduction and table of contents, Dark shares with us “this [book] goes out to those for whom: Religion is violence backed by divinity…is a backward step in human evolution…kills joy…is why you can’t talk to your family…is the state of being hopelessly stuck…is brainwash…is the old relative who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject…is a cage around reason…is the thorn in the side of common sense…will not house complexity, mystery, the unknown or contradiction…represents death of the imagination, invention and seeing yourself in someone else…is the elaborate disguise for Fear that gets him a seat at the table of survival. This also goes out to those for whom: Religion is peace backed by divinity…is a forward step in human evolution…gives joy…is the call to somehow honor the revere your family…sings songs to the silenced and forgotten…illuminates the invisible threads of comic connection…is in the moral memory of humankind…is an ancient intelligence summoning us to choose humility over hubris and love over fear…dresses the wounds of alienation, isolation, oppression, desertion, haste and hierarchy…is the lexicon of mystery…brings the dead back to tell stories…is the library of love and longing, candor and liveliness.” This book was written for everyone from every walk of life.
Content and Methodology
Dark argues against the popular view of not being religious, for whenever the subject of religion is brought up in normal conversation the conversation is then ended immediately. Dark supports his argument by explaining that everyone is religious in one way or another depending on how religion is defined. He defines religion as a relationship, morals, and a story; “religion is nothing if not a relationship” (122). Two relationships make up religion, your relationship with God and your relationship with other humans. As one relationship strengthens the other must strengthen as well, to maintain an equilateral triangle.
The “relationship triangle” is applicable to everyone, because it effects everyone, because everyone is connected; we are all interconnected. The relationship you have with your friends affects the relationship they have with theirs. If you have a strong relationship with Christ than that relationship is effecting your relationship with others. You impact others’ lives rather you relies it or not. For, everyone does religious activity, everything shapes you, and religion is why you are who you are. Dark explains this throughout the book very subtly, without the in-your-face “religious” aspect, appealing to people from all walks of life. Using Si-Fi and various pop culture references to reinforce that religion is in every aspect of every one’s life.

Does Lutheranism Still Matter?

Yes, this is most certainly true. 2017 is a very important year for Lutherans. Not just because it is the 500th anniversary of the reformation, but because we, Lutherans, are needed now more than ever. Dr. Andrew Bartelt stressed the importance of being Lutheran in today’s culture, leaving a resonating notion that Lutherans have something right going on if the Lutheran denomination is making disciples of all nations. Dr. Bartelt’s message was well received by the audience, which was composed of senior saints, honors students, students there for extra credit, and people there just to hear what was said for educational enjoyment value. Whomever was in the audience, there was a message for them. The message was not just for Lutherans, it is for all denominations of Christianity alike, for all Christians compose the living, breathing body of Christ.

It is a Christian’s duty to be the hands and feet of God, to do His good works, to make disciples of all nations, to go into the world and share the good news. In today’s culture humans are interconnected via technology through social media, connecting an individual to a seemingly unlimited amount of other individuals. And advantage must be taken of this, all available resources must be used to fulfill the works of God. Christians, and Lutherans in particular, must proclaim their faith without shame. This modern world discourages the discussion of religion, when religion is what the world needs most. Religion gives the world something to identify with, something to unit in: God’s grace. It is the duty of Christians to share God’s grace with the world, for if they do not then whom shall?

Walking into the BEC I ran into a family friend, Susie Norris, who is a senior saint of the LCMS. I did not expect to see her there, but then again, she is Lutheran and 2017 is a very important year for us as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Seeing Susie there reminded me how significant Lutheranism is to the community we live in here at CSP, we value our Lutheran theology and culture. We understand and practice keeping balance in our lives by keeping an eye on the past but looking towards the future; which is how Lutheranism is growing — keeping its original members while gaining new ones. There’s appeal to both being sacramental and evangelical; we maintain a healthy balance between the two by acknowledging the tension. It is not only important for a denomination to be sustainable, but also a necessity in our lives in order to live a healthy life. Not only must we take care of ourselves physically and mentally, but spiritually as well. There are three components of the “health triangle” just as there are three components of God, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We as Lutherans, as Christians, must maintain a balance of the Holy Trinity to stay spiritual healthy. More often than not we focus more on one than the other two. The evidence of this is the schism between Baptists, Catholics, and Lutherans. We focus too much on what makes us different and not enough on how we are all children of God and saved by His grace. We must remember “antithesis : thesis :: thesis : antithesis” for it is “the tension between the antitheses which keep us balanced.” If the church cannot find balance within its self than how are we supposed to help an unbalanced world?