Signs and Wonders
Dr. Guy Erwin
Associated Press/ReconcilingWorks
Dr. Guy Erwin

Signs and Wonders: ELCA Lutherans elect first openly gay bishop


No surprises here. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America elected its first openly gay bishop to a six-year term on Friday at an annual assembly in Southern California. The election of Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin comes after the church’s controversial rule change in 2009 that allowed homosexuals to be ordained in the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination. Erwin, a resident of the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles, currently serves as a pastor at Faith Lutheran Church and a professor of Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University. He has also served on a variety of boards and committees of church-related institutions and agencies. More than 600 congregations have left the denomination since the denomination decided to ordain homosexual clergy in 2009.

Rites of paganism. One hundred years ago last week, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring debuted in Paris. The mythology is that when Rite of Spring debuted, the audience rioted. That’s not quite accurate. The audience did get unruly, booing and talking to express its indignation at the unusual piece. I should say, though, that from our vantage point 100 years later, the behavior of that audience was more like a Quaker prayer meeting than it was like, say, the album party for The Clash’s London Calling. And the comparison is not totally inappropriate, because the Rite of Spring brought paganism, pantheism, relativism, and nihilism (and jerky, nerdy dancing) into high culture, just as The Clash brought some of the same into pop culture. The year after the debut of The Rite of Spring, World War I broke out. I’ll admit that The Rite of Spring did not actually cause World War I, but the same cultural ideas that brought us The Rite of Spring brought us the Modern Era, with—as Paul Johnson famously said in Modern Times—its global wars and mass destruction. So whether you love it or hate it, Rite of Spring was a seminal cultural event.

Dude? Really? Reuters reports that “a former Microsoft executive plans to create the first U.S. national marijuana brand, with cannabis he hopes to eventually import legally from Mexico.” Jamen Shively, the former Microsoft executive, said he would start his business by acquiring the now legal medical marijuana dispensaries in three U.S. states. Shively, according to Reuters, wants to become “the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis—much like Starbucks is the dominant name in coffee.” Shively is looking for $10 million in start-up money. Legal and public policy experts, though, wonder what Shively has been smoking. Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, said, “It’s very hard for me to understand why anybody seriously interested in being in the marijuana business, which after all is against the federal law, would so publicly announce his conspiracy to break that law.”

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Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.


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