Power, Politics and the Missouri Synod

Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American ChristianityPower, Politics, and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American Christianity by James C. Burkee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This isn’t quite the book I was looking for. I wanted an overview of the Missouri Synod spilt and Seminex. This book was a detailed – almost painfully so – look at the conservative side. It becomes somewhat depressing to read of the infighting, posturing, politicking and mudslinging.
Still there are some interesting insights on the connections between confessional purity and anticommunism. This book makes me want to read some of George Marsden’s work on fundamentalism.
Meanwhile, if someone can recommend a general overview of the Missouri Synod/Seminex crisis, I would appreciate it.

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Civil War letters posted

I have posted five letters written by my great-great uncle during the Civil War.

The letters were written by Francis A. Pettibone, who apparently lived in the Solon, Ohio, area before the war. After the war he married and settled near Ashtabula, where he practiced law. His son Edwin married my great aunt Rosalynd “Rose” Raible, and they settled in Rocky River, Ohio.

The letters are posted here. I used Twitter Bootstrap 3.0 for the layout and effects.

Feedback is welcome; please use the comments field below.

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Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

Telegraph AvenueTelegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

TA is a novel about endings and beginnings: the end of vinyl records and the independent record store; the end of midwifing; the end of funk and prog rock. And perhaps, more hopefully, the end of racism (Barack Obama makes a cameo appearance as a then-unknown state senator). It’s a moving book about the passage of time, which is vividly “telegraphed” with a character known as Mr. Nostalgia.

We live in an age of ephemera. Telegraph Avenue neither celebrates nor laments that fact. It just documents it. The cover of the book is designed like a record. And through the hole in the record you see silver. Now I don’t want to overanalyze this – and I know the author isn’t necessarily involved in the cover art – but that silver looks to me like a CD.

Telegraph Avenue doesn’t seem to be making a huge splash. The libraries I frequent each have plenty of copies on their New Releases shelves. The reviews on Goodreads and Amazon have been pretty tepid. Perhaps we can hope for a competent director to make a movie based on the book. It’s extremely filmable and might get people to appreciate what a wonderful story it tells.

I’ve never read anything else by Michael Chabon but I will now. I loved this book. It’s sweet, funny, well-written. Writing a book with almost all African American characters is a risky effort for a white guy.I believe Chabon pulls it off. The voices strike me as authentic and without stereotype.

One more thing: it’s nice that 40-somethings are getting their own coming of age literature. There was Super 8, which perfectly captured what it was like to be 13 in the late 70s. Now we have this. At one point he mentions “some movie where a shark-toothed devil doll was biting Karen Black on the ankles.” I totally remember that movie.

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Mark Bowden on modern warfare

The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin LadenThe Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Mark Bowden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aside from a lengthy digression about the evolution of Obama’s foreign policy views, this book moves quickly and tells the story well.

The Finish seems to complete a kind of trilogy that began with Black Hawk Down and continued with the Desert One section of Guests of the Ayatollah. The running theme through all three is the heroism of America’s armed forces – tempered by the dangers of overconfidence in military technology.

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Anatomy of a Verizon bill updated

I previously described my Verizon bill. Here’s how it shakes out with my LG Enlighten.

Month Minutes Texts
Sept/Oct 397 7,819

Here’s the breakdown.

Nationwide TLK&TXT Share 1400 $ 100.00
5 lines @ $9.99 $ 49.95
2 GB Data plan $ 30.00
Verizon Wireless surcharges $ 11.13
Taxes, governmental surcharges & fees $ 11.93
Total $203.01

One complaint: While I do love my Android powered smartphone,  the 2 GB is way more than I need. There just aren’t that many times that I’m not near a internet-connected computer. And when I’m not, I’m probably driving.

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Fall photos with curve and level adjustments



Original pictures on Flickr

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Big Day

Twenty five years of marriage and fifty followers on Twitter

@cruelcoulter now has 50 followers on Twitter

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I guess it’s safe to throw this stuff out…


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Disco inferno

On one of my very first business trips I was sent to a former textile plant near Atlanta that had been converted to a manufacturer of conveyor belts and other rubber products.

It had been a long day of flying then catching a train into the suburbs, and I felt my visit to the hotel bar to spend some of my per diem was well deserved.

In retrospect, I should have known not to pick a stool so close to a pack of cigarettes and a half-finished drink. No one leaves a pack of cigarettes at a bar. The pack’s owner, when she came back from the bathroom, looked like the kind of person who hangs around a suburban Holiday Inn lounge on a weeknight. She and the bartender were on a first name basis.

We fell into conversation, which was difficult because: 1. it was Disco Night at the lounge and the music was quite loud; and 2. she had a thick Southern accent which may have been enhanced by alcohol. But we managed some small talk. She told me she was a retired school teacher. I thought sympathetically of her students.

When she asked what I did, I said I was a reporter for a publication that covers the rubber and plastics industry. She seem disappointed.

“So you write about scuuuuuum,” she said distastefully.

I wasn’t sure I heard right. I asked her to repeat it once, maybe twice. “Scuuuuuuuum. SCUUUUUUUUM”

I realized that she was in fact saying the word scum. I tried to imagine what the rubber manufacturers of America had ever done to make her take such a dim view of them. Finally the misunderstanding became clear. She wasn’t hearing me any better than I was hearing her.

“Not rubbish. RUBBER.”

We cleared that up but the conversation never quite recovered. At length, Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” came on.

“Isn’t this a great song?”

I shrugged noncommittally.

“Not really my kind of music.”

“Oh, come on. It’s fun. Listen to words. Celebrate. Have a good time.”

“I know. I grew up with this stuff. I didn’t like it then and it doesn’t do anything for me now.”

She returned to her drink.

Finally the song “Heart of Glass” came on. That’s a song I’ve always liked, and I thought I should let her know I wasn’t a complete churl. So I told her.

“Hey Shirley,” she yelled to the bartender. “This is his FAVORITE SONG.”

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