Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thrivent selling hangman's rope

At what point will Lutherans scrum up the courage to confront Thrivent's ecumenism?  

Last fall Thrivent For Lutherans co-sponsored an evening lecture at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio near San Francisco by author Lynne Twist. Although Thrivent has recently openly communicated its intention to abandon its Lutheran heritage (as if its Habitat for Humanity and Salvation Army efforts weren't clear enough), it had no excuse as a "faith based organization" (as Thrivent describes itself) to financially support a Mystic trying to improve the condition of people's souls.

Alarmingly, Lynne Twist was the keynote speaker for Thrivent's 2010 national sales conference at the Minneapolis HQ.

Reading my partial transcript below of the Interfaith presentation doesn't do it justice. It must be experienced. Too many times she approached what could have developed into a Scriptural point on stewardship or contentment in Christ, but swerved off the road and into the "Self," "The Other," or "Consciousness." Here is the embedded video.
I'm talking about sufficiency; we're trained to want more than we need.  Sufficiency is precise. It's being met by the universe with exactly what you need over and over and over again.  And I say that that's the radical surprising truth about your life, about my life, and about life: that we actually get exactly what we need.  It's not an amount of anything, now that you're looking in the 'amount' category there. I want to disabuse you of that.  It's a way of seeing, a way of being, a way of perceiving the world. 
And I'm going on to say something else if I could, because this really kind of makes my point. I have another 80+ year old teacher [editor's note: the other teacher mentioned earlier was Buckminster Fuller] who is Brother David Steindl-Rast the great Benedictine monk, who is the greatest living scholar on 'gratefulness' n the world or many people would say that and I'm one of them.  And Brother David is steeped in gratefulness and he has a website [redacted] which I recommend. He writes on gratefulness, he speaks on gratefulness, he lives it, and I see people who know him and say, "Don't you just love Brother David?"  And so I asked him, "What's the difference between gratefulness and gratitude?"  His answer fills out what I'm saying, so I want to give that answer to you from Brother David. He said: gratitude has two great branches. One is gratefulness. The other is thanksgiving. 
Gratefulness is the experience of life when the bowl of life is so full that it's almost overflowing but not quite.  The bowl of life is so full that it's bowed to the top, but not yet dribbling over the edges. And that's the great-full-ness of life. That's when you're in the great-FULL-ness of life. And when you're in the great-FULL-ness of life, when you're in that experience, you're one with god, you're one with the universe, there is no 'other.'  And that's so 'full-filling' that the bowl of life overflows and becomes a fountain which puts you in the other branch of gratitude called thanksgiving.  
And when you're in the branch of gratitude called thanksgiving, the bowl of life is overflowing and you're so grateful that there's an 'other.'  All you want to do is serve and give and contribute and make a difference. And that's so full-filling, that it puts you in the great-FULL-ness of life again, so etc.  You can go back and forth between the two branches of gratitude. 
What I'm illustrating here is (gesturing) this is sufficiency and this is abundance. In my understanding of life, I say that true abundance only flows from sufficiency, from enough. It never comes from more.  Grasping for more will only lead you to lack and thinking you need more again. But from the context of sufficiency, of wholeness, of the great-FULL-ness of life, that overflows into true, authentic abundance from which we share, give, contribute, serve, and have a depth of your own wholeness and sufficiency and abundance in your heart. 
The speech is not an aberration. Her book, The Soul of Money, holds up each of the following as illustrative in learning how resources and ideas flow:  evolutionary biology, "Nature," Buddha, pagan indigenous peoples, Planned Parenthood, "His Holiness the Dali Lama", Buckminster Fuller, "Mother Earth," and the visions/dreams of Muslim women.  Note anything missing?
Of course it wouldn't be a lecture in San Francisco without a collectivist motivation.  
I have a mission on this planet to facilitate the reallocation of the world's resources - financial resources - away from fear and help move them towards love. Away from death, destruction and consumption, and help move them toward life, and sustainability, and the health and well being of all children, and all species, for all time. 
Vladimir Lenin gloated that Capitalists would sell to Communists the very rope they'd use for Capitalism's noose.  It's the same irony that the proverbial "little old ladies" premium payments are funding the erosion of the Gospel. 

[Speaking of Communism , Rick Warren modeled both his 40 Days framework and cell groups after the success of the Communists, but that's another essay. 'Communist Success' is a non sequitur, as it results in mountains of human corpses.] 


Anonymous said...

20 years ago, I made the point that how could we on the one hand thought it was so terrible about the Boy Scouts and not having a "local branch" but then be affilated with an organization who is primarily ELCA and justify that.

And the reaction was mixed ... my pastor then said that (AAL at the time) was the money changers of Jesus time. Their involvement in a church is simply motivated by profits...and when money becomes the objective other things take a second place, even if the intentions are good.

One must not forget that AAL and Lutheran Brotherhood merged ... and it was well known that L.B. was the more "liberal" between the two. So it doesn't surprise me the direction it is going.

The unfortunate thing is that so many people truly think Thriviant is a "non-profit" that has a church's best interestest first.

"one can't serve two masters, God and money"

Jon R.

Anonymous said...

Although I closed my accounts with Thrivent some time ago, I am hard pressed to imagine that the WELS or ELS as synods, or the many congregations within these synods, can walk away from the millions of dollars that are handed over to them each year. Interestingly, the Confessional Lutheran Church makes a clear statement about not accepting money from Thrivent for some of the reasons indicated by Mr. Heyer in his post. It's not easy to walk away from "free" money, but there are those who do see it as a matter of serving God or money, and avoid the temptation of money.


Anonymous said...

There is no such thing has "free".

If I by design (as a grocery store owner) gave you two options to buy a gallon of milk:

1) @ $2.50
2) @ $10.00 with the promise of up to $2 in matching funds

from a simple financial pov... it's not that hard to walk away from "free" money.

Jon R.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you. That's why I put the word "free" in quotation marks.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Thrivent has slowly but steadily crept into our synodical houses peddling an increasingly less subtle liberal 'new age' 'social gospel' which is really "no Gospel at all". What's next for the 'faith-based' Thrivent sales squad? A witch doctor? A Wiccan enchantress? A new age channeling necromancer? If we are to avoid the confusion and offense which results from incidents such as described above at the Presidio, the home of Mikhail Gorbachev and the communist inspired Green Cross no less, it seems to me we will have to take a much harder line with Thrivent than we have in the past if not sever our Thrivent relationship altogether. To do any less would make ourselves partakers of the same sins we have been warned by God to speak against! And yes, that also means saying "NO!" to all the "free" money and handouts dangled in front of us by Thrivent to help us close our eyes to all manner of divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine we have learned and have been commanded by God to avoid!

Warren Malach said...

After I left the LCMS in 2007 and before I came to the WELS this year, I was involved with both of the "CLCs"--the "old Missouri" Concordia Lutheran Conference, and the Church of the Lutheran Confession. One thing which both groups shared which I appreciated was that they were neither of them "in bondage" to Thrivent. It is my earnest hope that the WELS will eventually ask its members to set a deadline after which they will no longer purchase further products from Thrivent so that the synod will eventually be free of this unionistic involvement. I am reminded that JHC Fritz's original definition of "unionism" in the first (1932) edition of his PASTORAL THEOLOGY spoke of "joint worship or work" without doctrinal agreement (he changed the definition to fit the change in the LCMS's doctrine and practice of fellowship in the second--1945--edition of his book.) It will be interesting to see what John Schaller's PASTORALE PRAXIS might say on the subject, once the current translation being made of it is published.

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