Friday, December 21, 2007

Muzzling the Dog: No More Munching on "Ole Roy" (the Walmart Dog Food That Is)

His Barking Dog began at the instigation of Durable Data's Glenn Layne. Durable felt that it would be valuable to have a wider range of reporting and commentary on ABC related issues, particularly given the paucity of reliable information from the standard denominational sources. Few organizations have a greater corporate ethos of self-protection and ingrained denial than the American Baptist Churches (IMO). Corporate actions often bear only a passing resemblance to what is actually reported. And, the corporate culture over decades has shielded decision makers from the consequences of significant ethical and moral lapses.

Given the fact that several of my friends continue to serve in the hierarchy, it seemed a natural idea to begin blogging. And for a time, my keyboard clattered away with piece after piece, offering an evangelical commentary on all things ABC. When my judicatory, ABCPSW, voted to withdraw from the larger family, my postings dropped significantly, both in volume and as a percentage of topics tackled in this venue.

This week, it came to my attention that some of my blogs and message board postings have had damaging repercussions on the cause of Christ and involved people I love in legal complications. Now that I am somewhat an insider at Transformation Ministries as Treasurer of the organization, this will simply no longer do.

When my postings end up being referenced in attorney's letters to people I care about, enough is enough. Since there is no practical way to avoid legal repercussions arising from comments about the way VF does things (even when the statistics and reporting are strictly accurate), I have concluded that it might be better to retire from reporting and commenting on the ABC entirely. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter anyway. And, the cost to people I care about is too great. An important lesson to be learned from the original Star Wars movie comes from the advice C3PO gave to R2D2 when Han Solo advised him that angry Wookies pull their opponents' arms out of their sockets: "New strategy R2, let the Wookie win." With respect to the politics of the ABC, C3PO's admonition is just as valuable.

His Barking Dog will still speak on issues of importance and consequence from an evangelical and Baptist perspective at this web address. However, there will be no more comments about the organization known as ABCUSA.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas Gift for the Sinner Who Has Everything? A Get Out of Purgatory Card?

Would you buy grace from this man?

Just in time for the Christmas shopping rush, Pope Benedict XVI has added a gift suggestion for the sinner who has everything: a "get out of purgatory" early card.

Rome, Dec. 5, 2007 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has announced that a plenary indulgence is available to Catholics who travel to Lourdes during the coming year, for the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions there.

The indulgence is available to those who, under the usual conditions, make a pilgrimage to Lourdes between December 8 of this year and the same date in 2008. The pilgrimage should include visits to the famous Massabielle grotto at Lourdes where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, the Soubirois family home, and the places where St. Bernadette was baptized and received her First Communion.

A plenary indulgence is also available to those who venerate an image of Our Lady of Lourdes at any church or chapel between February 2 and February 11 of 2008, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

One wag commented that maybe it is time to pull out the "Tetzel is my Homeboy" shirts in honor of the indulgence merchant whose marketing efforts helped precipitate the Protestant Reformation in 1517.

Just when efforts to reconcile Rome and Protestantism have been gaining traction in the Protestant community (e.g., Evangelicals and Catholics Together), something like this reminds me why I am a Reformation Christian: sola fide, sola gratia, sola scriptura, solus Christus, and soli deo gloria!

Christmas reminds us that the Creator stepped into his creation to redeem us from our sins, to justify us by his own sacrifice, and to purchase us for himself forever -- without our works or efforts, purchased indulgences or otherwise.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Green Lake Development Plans Proceeding to Next Stage: Annexation or Lawsuit?

Lindenwood Development LLC has filed a lawsuit in Green Lake County Circuit Court against the township of Brooklyn for denying it permission to develop 140 acres on the Green Lake Conference Center property. The local newspaper in OshKosh indicated today that the developer plans to pursue either a lawsuit or annexation strategy for accomplishing the goal.

Last year the Green Lake Conference Center, affiliated with the ABCUSA, announced plans to sell 140 of its 1,000 acres to Lindenwood Development LLC. The sale promised to generate between $25 million and $40 million, according to CLCC President Ken Giacoletto. Ken indicated that it would be used to continue its ministries aimed at pastors around the country to help them establish and strengthen their local churches.

The announcement elicited criticism from some of the 30 private property owners on the grounds who oppose the changes. Initially the town of Brooklyn denied Lindenwood's preliminary plan for Estates of Lawsonia due to lot sizes not meshing with the existing requirements for the community. “Our comprehensive plan calls for one to two-acre lots; they wanted a half-acre or less,” said Brooklyn Town Chairman Mike Wuest.

In addition to the lawsuit, next week the Appleton development firm and the American Baptist Assembly will present their request to annex 900 acres into the city of Green Lake at a December 12 planning commission meeting at city hall. In opposition to GLCC and Lindenwood Development, Steve Sorenson, attorney for some of the disgruntled property owners, will represent their sentiments at the session.

If the annexation proposal receives approval, it would use a connection via State Highway 23 and the lake itself to satisfy the legal requirements for connectivity, according to Green Lake Mayor Joe Parise.

Few would disagree that Giacoletto has worked wonders with Green Lake during his tenure. Gone are the aging and drafty barn-like buildings. In their place can be found attractive and effecient lodgings and commons areas. He has transformed GLCC into a premier Christian center in the midwest. Please pray for Ken and GLCC as they enter into these difficult days with city officials. Red tape is never more difficult to digest than when you have an appetite for the banquet of the Lamb and want to leverage all of your assets to make a maximum kingdom impact during the remaining days of your stewardship on earth.

For more details, see Monday's Oshkosh Northwestern and