Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Filter by Service"

Muslim name AND a French Beret

By Larry Beane

The new and improved LCMS Locator on the website has an interesting feature.  When you are looking for a church, you can specify the type of service you are looking for.

This could be a helpful feature, considering the "box of chocolates" nature of our Synod - you never know what you're going to walk into on Sunday morning.  So, you might expect when you "filter by service" you would see certain fields in the drop-down box, maybe a list like this:


or perhaps:


... or some such.

I was surprised to see that it is actually a list of ethnicities (for the most part).  So, you might imagine a list something like this:


with maybe a token




thrown in for a little Lutheran-style diversity.

However, the list is a little more diverse than one might expect.  But hey, Lutherans are all over the globe, speaking every imaginable language these days, so this isn't such a crazy list after all:

CHINESE (an hour later and you want to go back to church)
FRENCH (a.k.a. FREEDOM PEOPLE by the FOX-NEWS crowd)
GERMAN (ya think?)
HMONG ("Everybody blames the Lutherans...")
JEWISH (Wait, what?)

Whoa!  Back up...

MUSLIM.  Did I just read "MUSLIM"?  Yep, MUSLIM.  That's what Confessional Lutherans call the "TURK" or the "MOHAMMEDAN."

At any rate, you can actually search for MUSLIM services in the LCMS at the LCMS website.  That's, er, interesting.

I still think a search tab for "traditional" would be more helpful and practical, though.



  1. That's not a new feature. It's been there for years.

    And I'm a Confessional Lutheran who doesn't call Muslims Mohammedans or Turks, because most Muslims aren't Turks, and Muslims don't worship Muhammad.

    So...two incorrect statements?

  2. Dear Caleb:

    It could be that Father Hollywood is an ignorant neanderthal. Or it could be that he knows more than you know, and that his writing is far more informed than you recognize, that it is laced with meaningful humor.

  3. Well, in fairness, this is under "Geographic area," so yes, you might want to know if there's an LCMS service in a Muslim area. But why would you be in a Muslim area in the first place? Hm . . .

  4. Father Holywood:

    I was not aware of this categorization. One that jumps out at me is Hispanic. If that means liturgy done in Spanish, then shouldn't it say Spanish? If it means ministry specifically aimed at Hispanics, does that mean others are ignored or not ministered to if they should walk in the door? I really think it begs certain questions.

  5. At the Deacon:

    Well, if I'm ignorant, enlighten me as to what Father Hollywood (who obviously knows more than me as you say) meant over against what I said?

  6. Please? I really want to know...

  7. I didn't say you are ignorant. I said you have a choice. You could decide that the writer to whom you are reacting is ignorant, or you could consider that he knows exactly what he is writing. I am just suggesting, as a brother, that you slow down, and look it over again.

  8. The picture shown is of The Rev'd. Hicham Chehab, who is a fine confessional pastor who is doing important work of Lutheran outreach to Muslims. For this, his life and the life of his entire family is in constant danger. While, I have no doubt the post is a very funny one, I don't know if I consider it very respectful to Pastor Chehab to portray him with it. I don't know what point the author is trying to make by depicting a solid brother in the Office with a post poking fun at the synod for the nomenclature it uses.

  9. Caleb:

    Knowing Fr. Hollywood, I bet that he is alluding to what the Lutheran Confessional documents call Muslims. In the Augustana and other places, they are referred to as "Turks" (because that was the largest threat of Muslim incursion at the time of the Reformation) or "Mohammedans" (because they are followers of Mohammed's teachings).

    What is curious in the listing is "Muslim" (an adjective that is connected to religion, not an adjective connected with ethnicity) as a type of Christian worship. Perhaps they might be referring to Divine Service conducted in Arabic or Farsi? Or maybe it is worship that is geared to converts from Islam? That would appear to be Rev. Chehab's niche.

    To me, and apparently to Fr. Hollywood, the combination of "Muslim" (again, an adjective connected with religion = adherent to Islam) with "Christian" is impossible, as the two are antithetical to one another when it comes to confession of faith. Would we have a "Buddhist" type of Christian worship? Would we have a "Shinto" type of Christian worship? Would we have a "Zoroastrian" type of Christian worship? These are the analogous adjectival phrasing from other religions.

    The confusion of "Muslim" with proper ethnic adjectives (much like using the term "Turk" to incorrectly describe all adherents to Islam in the 16th Century) is the issue. That sloppiness of language presents appears to be what Fr. Hollywood has in mind with his post, including its possibly irreverent or misplaced humor.

  10. I understand that those are the terms used for Muslims in the confessions. That doesn't mean that Muslims don't find them offensive.

    What do you think a Muslim would feel like if he were interested in Christianity, stumbled upon this blog, and saw himself referred to by terms roughly on the level of n*gger with the phrase that "Confessional Lutherans refer to Muslims as..."

    I like this blog and agree with quite a bit of what is posted, however, I think a matter like this does require more sensitivity.

    But then again I'm just a sentimental, touchy-feely, Obama loving liberal, so what do I know?

  11. Note: I'm not really a liberal, nor do I love Obama.

  12. Caleb: Your first claim was that Fr. Hollywood is "incorrect" in his phraseology. Now you switch gears and say you understand his reference, but that he is guilty of being insensitive. I know many Muslims, and they are not in fact the humorless thin skinned people as they are often portrayed.

  13. Let us leave the logomachy behind. I think all can agree that the LCMS website has used a most infelicitous manner of speech. What they wanted to say was "Muslim outreach service" and "Jewish outreach service." What they wrote could easily confuse folks in our day of multiculturalism.

    The wisdom of such targeted "outreach services" is another matter. From my own limited experience, with the "Messianic congregation" in St. Louis, I'm not convinced it is well-conceived. But, again, I must admit that my experience with it is very limited indeed.

    Nevertheless, the LCMS website could use an update. . .


  14. Pr. Beane, you're so bad! LOL!!!

  15. I think we need an additional label for HUMOR IMPAIRED.

    Out of respect for the pastor's ministry, I removed his picture - which actually came from a satirical website with no name attached. The picture is hardly a secret, given that it's the first picture that pops up in a Google Image Search for "Lutheran" and "Muslim." His life is not in jeopardy by having his picture appear on GO. Contrary to what some might claim, Al Qaida operatives are not numbered among our readership. If that's the case, Chaplain Shaw might want to hire a bodyguard...

    Instead, you'll now find Deacon Latif Gaba's picture displayed above. First, Latif has a MUSLIM name (one of the names of Allah, as I recall him once telling me), second he wears one of those FRENCH berets (a.k.a. FREEDOM HATS), third, his wife was accused of being a MUSLIM at Fort Wayne because she was wearing a head covering in chapel when the District President tried unsuccessfully to lay hands on her (if we only had cellphone video cams back then!). Best of all, Latif is not HUMOR IMPAIRED. If you think I'm kidding, ask him to tell you the story of his experience on the firing range in boot camp.

    The annual congregational information form for the LCMS website includes a spot for "type of service." I put "traditional." When I checked out our listing on the website, that field was blank. There was no way to tell people that we have a TRADITIONAL service, but if we had a MUSLIM service, we could put that in there. I thought it was funny. A MUSLIM service. But then again, this is the LCMS. You just never know!

    Caleb, the only way to ensure nobody could ever be offended for any reason would be to ban all books - including the Bible. And don't ever say anything at all. Christianity itself is the most offensive thing on the planet. The terms TURK and MOHAMMEDAN are used in the Book of Concord, and there are indeed some Confessional Lutherans who use those terms - some tongue in cheek, some not so much - just as there are Confessional Lutherans who use the term PAPIST and refer to Jospeh Ratzinger as THE ANTICHRIST. As a Confessional Lutheran myself, I'm poking fun at our own group for using such terms. Some of our own guys are still living in the 15th century. I half expect someone to refer to Germany as "The Holy Roman Empire" one of these days.

    You should really attend a Q PARTY if you have not done so. A sense of humor will serve you well not only at the Fort, but in the ministry.

    And no, those are not rosary beads hanging from Deacon Gaba's ears. Contrary to what some people might think, one can be devoutly Lutheran and still be able to discern humor and actually enjoy it. Even the guys from THE MIDWEST (I can make fun of the Midwest too, since I was born there, though I did not come from a state that begins with the letter "I"...).

    But just as a hint, I did create a "humor" tag to help the HUMOR IMPAIRED out a little...

  16. I am reminded of my classmate, David Preus, who used to have fun telling people that Latif Gaba is half Muslim.

  17. Oh dear! Humourless? HUMOURLESS? Why, I oughta... I'll have you know that I have as finely honed a sense of humour as any beret and monocle wearing, pipe-smoking, self-consciously kooky CTSFW grad out there!

  18. Names aren't Muslim- they are ethnic. Incidentally, Hicham Chihab does specific work with both Christians of Middle Eastern descent, and missions works to immigrants who are Muslims. And what do you do to compare to him???

  19. Dear bf00f6dc-d5c3-11e0-8e17-000bcdcb2996:

    (Now there's a name!)

    It's a joke. I realize that from your name you may be a Robo-American and thus may not be programmed for humor (or "humour" to Americans of Anglo descent - aren't I sensitive?).

    Once again, I want to know why having a MUSLIM service as an option makes more sense on a statistics form that can be searched as an online database rather than a TRADITIONAL service.

    I think it's funny. Your mileage can vary. In your language that would translate to something like 000100111001100 0011001 000011 000001!

    Live long and prosper...

  20. "Humour" is also Canadian. Thanks for your sensitivity. Perhaps they could list services held in the Canadian Lutheran style?

  21. I had *better* be sensitive to the Canadians - they hold the majority in my house. And that's not a bad thing. It means that we only use *real* maple syrup. Beauty, eh?

  22. "Names aren't Muslim- they are ethnic."

    Some names are purely religious. Say, Christian, for example. Or how about the names Christians give their girls based on Christian virtues and concepts, like Chastity, Hope, Charity, Joy, etc, or Biblical towns. Hindus use names of gods. We could go on, of course.

    In the case of the guy Fr. Hollywood brought up, the purely linguistic significance of his first name is real, but does not nullify the fact that it also has religious significance for the Muslim (same goes for his middle name).

    Also, I must say that each Christian ministry is uniquely valuable, and honorable, and its accomplishment ultimately cannot be measured by human instruments of measurement.

  23. I've been meaning to comment how hilarious this post was. And how much more hilarious are the super-sensitive readers (not just here, but nearly everywhere) whose feelings are wounded by simple humour. Why are so many folks afraid to laugh at themselves. When I was growing up we made jokes about the Irish, Polish, blacks, Italians, etc. (not to mention Lutherans, Catholics or Jews) and nobody was offended. We just laughed because it was funny, and mostly because the humour in the joke was partly true. (I know, I grew up around a bunch of drunken Irishmen!)

    I'll bet if jokes came up on some liberal site about confessional "oreos" and "speed bumps" you wouldn't find conservatives clamoring for sensitivity (at least, I hope not). They might shoot back with a crack of their own.

    In this extremely PC, bleeding heart world, we all need to chill a little, get a thicker skin, and laugh (above all, at ourselves).

    Oh, and Lutherans don't worship Luther (well, most don't), but we're still called Luther-ans.

  24. I found a church in the English district that came up under the MUSLIM search.
    The church website does not appear to identify an outreach ministry to muslims. Could they be allowing muslim worship in their facility? That would not be considered humorous!

  25. My guess it's that it's just a typo.

    "I slam, you slam, we all slam for Islam!" :-)

  26. Pastor Anderson, that certainly doesn't look like the Pastor Hicham Chehab who had dinner at my house this summer.


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