Friday, March 31, 2006

Deep thoughts while kissing your child goodnight...

Rob over at Love and Blunder posts Theology for the Dying and Dead. He writes:

Death has been on my mind for more than a year. I can trace its shadow back to a strange origin: The birth of my daughter.

I think about it every night, as we put her to bed. We help Olivia into her pajamas, watch her brush her teeth, read "Goodnight Moon" together, and say a prayer. The lights go out. The rocking chair creaks, Olivia sighs in her sleep, and my own mortality grips me. And holding her there in the darkness, I'm filled with a holy ache. The close of the evening is one tiny goodbye in a lifelong string of goodbyes.

I can't help but whisper Jesus' name. I hold my daughter tight, and I cling to the Gospel all the tighter.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lutheran Carnival XX: Laetare

The latest Lutheran Carnival, Lutheran Carnival XX: Laetare, is up at the main site. This 20th carnival takes a twist and features only posts written before March 2005. Very cool!

Long live the Lutheran Carnival!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Lutheran Carnival XX coming soon!

Lutheran Carnival XX- Hosted by Daniel and Elle at the main site. Posts due by March 24, 2006. Carnival up by March 26, 2006.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Katie's Beer is not gone!

Katie's Beer is not gone! It's just being held hostage by Blogger. Blogger has encountered some pretty big problems, it would seem. Katie's Beer is stored on a filer that is not working, but Be Strong in the Grace is OK. I haven't lost anything; I can still get into my dashboard, templates and posts. Hopefully, this problem is correctable and will be fixed soon. Sounds like many blogs are affected. Maybe now is the time to look into a new site...


Thursday, March 16, 2006

The filer that we have been having trouble with in the last few days failed again. Those blogs that are stored on the bad filer are temporarily not available for publishing and viewing. We are working on replacing the filer and restoring access to the blogs affected.



Update:

Blogger Status

The filer that we have been having trouble with in the last few days failed again. Those blogs that are stored on the bad filer are temporarily not available for publishing and viewing. We are working on replacing the filer and restoring access to the blogs affected.

Update (7 am, March 17): we are still in the process migrating data off of the bad filer. We sincerely apologize for the continuing problems.


Update 2: Everything is up and running. I'm still looking at my options, though.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Lutheran Carnival XIX

Lutheran Carnival XIX

I am most privileged to host this nineteenth issue of the Lutheran Carnival. This issue has over 30 posts from Christian blogkeepers who maintain a quia subscription to the Book of Concord. What does that mean? They believe that the Book of Concord is a right and proper exposition of the Word of God. Their posts are written on many topics, as long as they are written from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

For this carnival, I would like to introduce you to a forefather of my beloved Norwegian Synod: Jakob Aall Ottesen. Bethany Lutheran College Professor Erling Teigen stated in his presentation to the 150th gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (formerly the Norwegian Synod) in 2003,


"Of the three fathers (Preus, Koren and Ottesen) who have been shaped into a sort of holy trinity for the Norwegian Synod, the “forgotten” or less visible person of that trinity might be Jakob Aall Ottesen...What is of chief interest to us in this essay is the theological legacy, especially the Reformation, confessional Lutheran legacy Ottesen left on the immigrant church he helped organize. One part of that legacy is fellowship with the Missouri Synod, which led to the formation of the Synodical Conference in 1872."



Jakob Aall Ottesen

Who is Jakob Aall Ottesen? The answer is not short, except there are few short bios on this good man. His name is not on the lips of many Lutherans, but his life was dedicated to our service. The details of his life's work are more suitable to a college course, but I'll attempt a brief summary. My information comes from the Ottesen Museum, located between the campuses of Bethany Lutheran College (BLC) and Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary in Mankato, Minnesota; from a lecture, The Legacy of Jakob Aall Ottesen, given by BLC Professor Erling T. Teigen commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Norwegian Synod and an excellent geneological website by Ms. Dixie Hansen. We'll start with his obituary, since it is the earthly sum of his life:

PASTOR OTTESEN IS DEAD
One of the founders of the Norwegian Synod lays down his pilgrim's staff

A Life of Sacrifice

The old pastor, Jacob Aal Ottesen, one of the pioneers and veterans of the Norwegian Synod, died about 12 o'clock Saturday night, and his death did not come unexpectedly, neither for himself nor for those nearest to him, as he had been in poor health for a long time.

Pastor Ottesen was born in the Fet Parsonage in Norway 11 June, 1825, and he therefore got to be 79 years and 5 months old. His father and grandfather had been ministers in Fet for about half a century. The family belongs to one of the oldest ones in the country, and there have been approximately 50 ministers among Pastor Ottesen's kin.

Following his graduation with distinction from the university, Ottesen for three years was a teacher at Nissens Latin og Realskole (Nissen's Latin and High School) in Kristiania. However, Norway was not where our Lord had decided for him to work, and since many of his compatriots had emigrated to America, he accepted in 1852 the call from a congregation, which had been formed in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. After his ordination by Bishop Arup, he left with his young wife, Katarine Doderlein, a daughter of School Principal Døderlein of Kristiania Katedralskole (Cathedral School) for the unknown America. Ole Bull had just started his disastrous colony, Oleana, in Pennsylvania, and Pastor Ottesen was requested to go and preach the gospel for his compatriots there. His parish in Manitowoc consisted of three organized congregations in and around the town as well as a mission field in the area from Green Bay to Milwaukee. This was truly mission and pioneer work that not only called for a sincere love for the Lord and His work, but also required much bodily strength and perseverance. Most of his time was spent traveling, especially on horseback in all kinds of weather and through thick forests without roads. Pastor Ottesen traveled that way, often 30 to 50 miles a day, and picked up a bad case of rheumatism, which resulted in permanent damage to one of his legs. In 1853 he was one of seven ministers who met in Koshkonong together with 42 representatives from 28 congregations to consider the question of establishing the Norwegian Synod. Its constitution was adopted here, and then later at the Synod Conference in October, 1853, got voted in after having been presented to the congregations.

Pastor Ottesen was the Synod Secretary for many years. The old pioneers had a keen eye for how to succeed with their work. They had to get their pastors educated in this country, and Pastors Ottesen and Brandt were sent in 1857 as delegates to visit the Lutheran schools in St. Louis, Columbus and Buffalo to see what could be done to get the Norwegian ministers educated at one of these schools. Based on the report that the two delegates brought to the Synod, the Seminary of the Germans in St. Louis was chosen, and a professorship was filled by theNorwegians, and a hand of friendship given tying the Norwegian Synod to the Missouri Synod. This has lasted until this day. In 1860 Pastor Ottesen was called to Koshkonong, where he served the three congregations: Eastern and Western Koshkonong as well as Liberty Prairie until 1891.

From 1861 to 68, he and Pastor H. A. Preus edited Kirkelig Maanedstidende (Monthly Periodical for the Church). In 1877 he was appointed Professor of Theology at Luther Seminary, which had just been established, but he declined the appointment. That same year, he was also selected as the first chairman for the Eastern District. The Synod was divided into districts that year. He also turned down this position. He was a member of the Synod's Church Council for many years.

During the tragic church controversy that broke out in the Synod during the 80's, Ottesen and his congregations suffered much, and in 1891 he stepped down as a minister and moved to Decorah, where he has since lived. Last year during the jubilee for the Synod here, as one of the few original ministers, he was present and spoke to the Synod. A short time before the Synod Conference, he and Pastor H. A. Stub received from King Oscar the Order of Knight of St. Olaf for long and honorable service to the church. Pastor Koren was made Commander of the Order of St. Olaf. Pastor Ottesen for more than a generation has carried the burden that goes with a large parish, although he was not strong physically, and this was in addition to all the work that the community had him do. However, he had a good education in the classics, sharp judgment, and was a competent writer, and more than anything else he had an intense love for his Lord and His work and was willing to offer everything for it. Although Pastor Ottesen's work has not attracted the attention of the big world, because it was done quietly among the members of his own congregation, he often did some really heroic deeds. He lived a life of self-denial at all times and that should be known in wide circles. We all owe an invaluable debt to men, who like Ottesen, just lived for one reason, namely to break bread for others and to take the gospel of Our Savior to as many as possible. Bless the memory of them!

Pastor Ottesen had a happy family life. Ottesen had a sharp and witty mind, and there are many who carry happy and amusing memories from the parsonage at Koshkonong. Pastor and Mrs. Ottesen had six children; three of them died quite young. A daughter, Diderikke, married to Professor Dr. H. G. Stub, left at her death two sons, who now are ministers. The two children who survive him are: his son, Pastor Otto Christian in Rio, Wisconsin, and his daughter Hanna Cathinka, who has stayed with him all the time here and who faithfully and lovingly has cared for him. An adopted son, Olaf Mandt, died young after serving as a minister in Baltimore for a short time.

From 1894 to 1896, Ottesen was the minister for the Synod congregation here in this town after Pastor Hove moved to Mankato and before Prof Stub became the minister here. He has otherwise, except for the last two years, preached off and on. His last task as a minister, as far as we remember, was the ordination of his daughter's son, Jacob Stub, to the holy work as a preacher in the fall of 1902. Ottesen has written and translated much. He wrote Kort Uddrag af Synodens Historie (A Short Excerpt of the Synod's History), which was presented at the World Exhibit in Chicago. At the request of the Synod, he rewrote the Catechism and translated Gynter's Symbolik from German.

Professor Erling Teigen illuminates some personal facts of Ottesen's life. First of all, he was known as having a keen mind, he avoided the spotlight, he worked tirelessly and suffered rheumatism and depression from it, and he raised children who contributed to the faith and to society in future generations.

Ottesen was one of the seven pastors who organized the Norwegian Synod in 1853 (C.L. Clausen, H.A. Stub, A.C. Preus, G.F. Dietrichsen, H.A. Preus, Nils O. Brandt, and Ottesen), having just arrived in 1852. Aside from his long service as a parish pastor, Ottesen’s contributions are in the form of theological writing, particularly polemical articles in the church paper, first called Kirkelig Maanedstidende, but Luthersk Kirketidende after it became necessary to publish semi-monthly and weekly. He served several times in the early years as secretary of the synod, but a most momentous and far-reaching assignment for this young pastor came in 1857 when he was sent by the Synod (the resolution was passed at the 1855 convention) with Pastor Nils Brandt to visit some Lutheran seminaries in the U. S. The mission was to find a place to train pastors for the Norwegian immigrant church. From 1859-1868, he was co-editor with H.A. Preus of the church paper, Maanedstidende, which was the platform for a large part of his writing, much of it doctrinal and polemical. He wrote a brief history of the Norwegian Synod (to be distributed at the Chicago Exposition in 1893), as well as a series of articles entitled “A Look at the Missouri Synod.” He translated Guenther’s Symbolik from German to Norwegian, as well as Walther’s The Evangelical Lutheran Church: God’s True Visible Church on Earth.

Ottesen had one son who entered the ministry, Otto Christian Ottesen, who did not outlive his father by many years, dying in 1917. Two grandsons, Hans Andrews Stub and Jacob Aall Ottesen Stub also became pastors, and had notable service in the merged Norwegian Lutheran Church in America after 1917. Their mother, Diderikke Aall Ottesen, was married to H.G. Stub, who led the Norwegian Synod into the 1917 merger. The young mother died in 1879, soon after the birth of her second son. The first daughter born to the Ottesens was named Hannah, but she died soon after birth, as did another girl. Including Diderikke, the young mother, the Ottesens left three children buried at Koshkonong. (Nils Brandt was married to a Diderikke Ottesen, who apparently was a sister of J. A. Ottesen.) One daughter lived to adulthood, also named Hannah, who lived with the Ottesens until the death of Mrs. Ottesen (Cathinka) in 1899, and Pastor Ottesen in 1904. Ottesen also had a foster son, Olaf Mandt, who lived with the family in Koshkonong for confirmation instruction, and then was sent by Ottesen to Luther College, and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. After his ordination, he served in Baltimore, where he died after two years in the ministry.

But that was not all the sorrow Ottesen left at Koshkonong. On August 10, 1891, the Ottesens were taken to the depot in Stoughton and took the train to Decorah, Iowa, where they would spend the rest of their lives. Ottesen’s friend Halvor Halvorson notes that in the ensuing 13 years, Ottesen traveled some, coming as close to Koshkonong as Spring Prairie, (where he performed the wedding of his niece Cathinka Hjort to pastor J. Strand), but never visiting there. He was invited by the congregations often, and always sent a greeting for festival occasions, but never visited. It does not seem that this reluctance to return to the place where he had served as pastor for 31 years was rooted in a circumspect pastoral ethic to stay away from places one has previously served.

While serving the three-point parish, West and East Koshkonong, and Liberty (near Deerfield), Ottesen confirmed about 3,000 young people. From that number, one can project an even larger number of baptisms, as well as a great number of marriages, and funerals. And there is a great deal of evidence that Ottesen was a dearly loved pastor among his people. In the late ‘70s, he was permitted to leave for several months to visit Norway, which included the final visit with his father.

But Ottesen had health problems. Early on, there is mention of his being sickly, and not always able to carry the full load of his ministerial duties. Certainly the East and West congregations on Koshkonong Prairie as well as Liberty congregation to the North grew rapidly, and one wonders how one man could keep up with that work.

George Orvick reports what may be the recollection of Julia Reque:

Ottesen traveled a distance of 30-50 miles a day on horseback, in summer heat and winter storm. As a result of these strenuous journeys, Ottesen contracted chronic rheumatism which worked havoc with the nerves of his legs, so that it was difficult for him to talk or stand long. Because of this Ottesen was often forced to sit in the pulpit when delivering his sermons.

This condition may have exacerbated another condition—there is some evidence that Ottesen suffered some depression, which might today be called depression and anxiety. In any case, even before the outbreak of full-scale doctrinal warfare, because of Ottesen’s illnesses, the congregations hired a “kapellan,” a curate or assistant pastor, which would have serious repercussions in the controversial years to follow.
The election controversy which began in 1877 took a toll on his condition. Ottesen wrote in 1885:
But I will add that in the last four to five years, I have been under a great deal pressure from sorrow and distress, both because of physical illness, namely, an often painful nervousness [nervøsitet], and also because of the emergency I saw in the congregation during the bitter controversy, which has gone on here in these years. No one will be surprised that during all this have often been more despondent [modløs] and irresolute [radløs, indecisive] than I would have been otherwise.
What he describes, mentioned also by others, appears to be an already existing condition exacerbated by unusually stressful circumstances.

In reading through the life of Rev. Ottesen, I was struck by the accounts of others of his daughters: Didrikke Aall Ottesen Stub and Hannah Cathinka Ottesen. Didrikke died following a short illness while visiting her parents. Her son (and Ottesen's grandson) Jacob Aall Ottesen Stub, writes:

My mother - Diderikke - I cannot remember. I am told she was a tall and queenly woman. combined with her woman's love of home and dear ones was a keen interest in life in general. She was well educated, loved books and music, but also the out-of-doors. One of her friends, who knew her well, has told me that she was an excellent driver and utterly fearless. In corroboration hereof she showed me a newspaper clipping which tells of her stopping a runaway team, and preventing what would probably have been a serious accident. She did not live to see her two little boys grow beyond babyhood. Blessed be her memory!


His other surviving daughter, Hannah, never married but lived to age 70. She cared for her parents until their deaths and enjoyed learning from her father and the many intellectuals who visited their home. She willed several family heirlooms to the ELS. This Ottesen collection, together with other artifacts, comprises the holdings of the Ottesen Museum. It was the women of the synod who provided the impetus for establishing the Ottesen Museum. As the synod was preparing, at its 1941 annual meeting, to celebrate its 90th anniversary (1943), which also would mark the 25th year of the re-organized synod (1918–1943), a group of women began to discuss the possibility of establishing the Ottesen Museum. Sixteeen women met at Bethany Lutheran College on June 16, 1941, and determined to organize the museum.


On to Lutheran Carnival XIX!!!

That Rev. Ottesen encouraged his daughters in the faith and educated them well reminds me yet again of why I love my Norwegian Synod so! In the few short years that I have been a member of my church, King of Grace, my interest in scriptures has been encouraged and supplemented by our pastors and elders. I had my same interests in the twenty years I spent walking through American Evangelicalism, but instead of getting much of an education I received a series of trends topics and incomplete truths. In the spirit of truly embracing our God-given roles and in the expectation that we all become well-catechized, I am pleased to offer the many good posts by women and men of the confessional Lutheran blogosphere.

In her paper titled, Women & Scriptures, Sandra Ostopowich, of Higher Things and keeper of the blog, Madre's Missives, does a great job of summarizing how women are valued, educated and held in such high esteem in the confessional Lutheran church. In a humorous account, she describes how she - a Lutheran seminary student- was asked one day: "Why do you want to be a pastor? Women are way too important to God to be pastors!" She was mad and incredulous at that question, but took the challenge of studying scripture for a good response.

Sola Gratia of Living Stones offers a post entitled Crucifixaphobia. It discusses fear of the crucifix among some evangelicals. New Carnival contributor, Lora of The Rebellious Pastor's Wife, posts The Confessional Consumer. And another new Carnival contributor, Rebecca of Musings of a Saint and Sinner, offers two posts. In My Battle with Lent , Rebecca writes, "In my teenage years, I became an obsessive freak, trying in every which way to please God and make myself acceptable to Him. I never felt like I succeeded. When I heard Martin Luther's story, it was like I heard the message of grace for the first time. But my struggle with Lent is that emotionally it feels like going back to those old teenage years." In Ash Wednesday she talks about her strange love of Ash Wednesday, primarily because of its fundamental honesty. "There are few times in life when we are able to get down and gritty and admit these two things: I am a sinner and I am going to die. When we get honest about our brokenness, God hears our confession and moves in to bring healing. Then the Great Exchange happens where Christ takes all of our sin, brokenness, and death and gives us His life, health, resurrection, and righteousness."

In a commentary on Ash Wednesday, Scottius Maximus reviews one of my favorite books,
the wonderful daily devotion book, The Lord Will Answer- A Daily Prayer Catechism. I highly recommend Scottius Maximus for a daily dose of humor, baseball and Lutheran commentary!

Ryan of Wretched of the Earth blog, posts A good architect is important. Ryan reflects on the foundation of the Church, even as the foundation of his apartment is about to crumble.

The wise professor, CPA of Three Hierarchies, looks at the "Crunchy Con", finding many valuable lessons in good living, but offering historical perspective and warning against tendencies to merging the two kingdoms, and utopianism. His series of articles are:

British Lutheran blogger, John H. of Confessing Evangelical, contributes to the carnival with Lent for Evangelicals. John looks at contrasting attitudes towards Lent among Augsburg and
non-Augsburg evangelicals, and quotes Bo Giertz on what truly distinguishes evangelical Christianity from Roman Catholicism.

Kletos, blogkeeper of Amor et Labor posts Cage Stage Lutheran? Kletos wonders aloud if he is stuck in the 'cage stage' of development in Lutheranism.
On the third day, is the post of Richard of dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos.

Married blogkeepers, Mr. and Mrs. Terrible Swede, one of the newlywed sweethearts of the confessional Lutheran blogosphere, find time to post interesting pieces. Mrs. Swede, keeper of Journalistic Jargon blog, offers us "Roe v. Wade for Men" Following a report on ABC Nightly News, Mrs. T. Swede shares her commentary about a controversial move that one man is attempting to make: Asking that Roe v. Wade be revised to include the rights of fathers to "opt out" of fatherhood. Mrs. Swede says that Roe v. Wade should not exist in the first place, and with that said, the issue of men having rights equal to those given in Roe v. Wade is a moot point.

Mr. Swede, affectionately known to us as the Terrible Swede, reminds us of Luther's Disputation on the Divinity and Humanity of Christ that was published in 1540. Of all the theses, the Swede's favorite is "1. This is the catholic faith, that we confess one Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man." He encourages Lutherans to read the preface as well. You can find this post, It's Either Today or Tomorrow, at The Terrible Swede, the "Earthy" Lutheran Blog

Another newlywed blog, Love and Blunder, posts Meditations of Sin and Children. Devona wisely writes,
"We believe, as Lutherans, that everyone is guilty of sin. Even the 14 week old fetus I'm currently incubating will go to Hell if not for the grace of God offered in Christ. This is a hard teaching that we do not want to accept."

Another favorite Lutheran Blogosphere married couple, Pastor Alex Klages and his wife, writer and artist Kelly Klages both submit posts to this carnival. Kelly's Blog offers The fun of reading stuff into the ending of The Fellowship of the Ring! She writes,
"How does an ending moment in the movie The Fellowship of the Ring relate to the Nunc Dimittis? In what way do the shadows of Elijah and Elisha also lurk in Parth Galen? Only a nutcase LOTR fan and a very geeky Lutheran could have come up with this post. Mea culpa." Kelly's husband, Pastor Klages, turns to one of his favorite pastimes, watching hockey, and unveils his plans for how to make Canada's international hockey chances better. He posts, On Hockey in Canada: A Modest Proposal, at his blog, A Beggar At The Table.

The confessional Lutheran blogosphere's first known cyber sweethearts and founders of this beloved carnival, Random Dan and Intolerant Elle, both take a break from their nightly cyber talks to offers posts. Elle, in The Value of the Law, critiques a woefully inadequate tract left at her door by one of the largest churches in the state of Alaska. Daniel of Random Thoughts of a Confessional Lutheran waxes poetic about "The Good Old Days" there were only 10 Confessional Lutheran bloggers in the world. This post meant much to me because as a new confessional Lutheran I was seeking out kindred souls and his is the first I found on the internet. If he and his friends hadn't begun blogging, I don't know that I would have had any reason to continue blogging about my faith. He also offers Blogging is Hard.

I will wrap up this Carnival with two workhorses of the confessional Lutheran blogosphere: Dan of Necessary Roughness and Pastor Snyder! Dan of Necessary Roughness offers Teaching a Variety of Students in Faraway Places. He offers up a description of his vocation as instructor. He identifies some of the problems involved in teaching computer to people with a wide variety of computer knowledge. In Roman Church vs. State in Los Angeles , Dan comments on a Cardinal in Los Angeles who is ordering his priests to ignore immigration law. Dan points out that this might not be the best way to address immigration from the church's point of view. First Person Life takes aim at the immigration proposal itself in Criminalizing Mercy. In Evidence Speaks for Itself
, Dan points out fictional and nonfictional consequences of using scripture to come to conclusions about practice or leaving out biblical evidence so that opinions may be bolstered.

Dan has also scoured the blogosphere and has brought back some great posts. He points us to:

Over at Aardvark Alley, the Aardvark, self-appointed keeper of the ecclesiastic calendar, provides a pair of posts with background material, readings, and prayers. The first, Ash Wednesday, deals not only with the day itself but also with the observance of the Lenten season. He also introduces Saints Perpetua and Felicitas and their three companions in martyrdom.

This past fortnight saw two new reviews published on Luther Library. The first, a guest submission by Sam Powell of Nerd Heaven , examines Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei, a study of the theology of worship in light of the Lutheran Confessions. Dan (of Necessary Roughness fame) provides the second review. He looks at Anne Rice's dramatic shift from the blood and evil of vampires to the expression of her new faith in the novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, set during Jesus' seventh year.

Current observations say there are no such things but Pastor Snyder (Ask the Pastor) opines that based upon the testimony of Job 41, Biblical Dragons (whom the Lord called Leviathan) once lived, and likely terrified all who encountered them. He then responds to the question, Should Christians Pray with Non-Christians? Rather than give away the answer, we'll let you read it for yourself.

A new blogger as of this past Monday, Pastor Paul Beisel of One Lutheran ... Ablog! lost no time in providing quality material for our edification. Check out his Catechism on Church Attendance, which he wrote to answer delinquent members' frequent question, "Why do I need to go to church?"

Don't miss this thoughtful study of the expression common to readers of C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. The author rebukes "feminist idolatry" as she shows how the Daughters of Eve live as new creatures in Christ at the Alliance of Evangelical Lutheran Laypeople .

Jakob Aall Ottesen

I would like to introduce you to a forefather of my beloved Norwegian Synod: Jakob Aall Ottesen. Bethany Lutheran College Professor Erling Teigen stated in his presentation to the 150th gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (formerly the Norwegian Synod) in 2003,

"Of the three fathers (Preus, Koren and Ottesen) who have been shaped into a sort of holy trinity for the Norwegian Synod, the “forgotten” or less visible person of that trinity might be Jakob Aall Ottesen...What is of chief interest to us in this essay is the theological legacy, especially the Reformation, confessional Lutheran legacy Ottesen left on the immigrant church he helped organize. One part of that legacy is fellowship with the Missouri Synod, which led to the formation of the Synodical Conference in 1872."



Jakob Aall Ottesen

Who is Jakob Aall Ottesen? The answer is not short, except there are few short bios on this good man. His name is not on the lips of many Lutherans, but his life was dedicated to our service. The details of his life's work are more suitable to a college course, but I'll attempt a brief summary. My information comes from the Ottesen Museum, located between the campuses of Bethany Lutheran College (BLC) and Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary in Mankato, Minnesota; from a lecture, The Legacy of Jakob Aall Ottesen, given by BLC Professor Erling T. Teigen commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Norwegian Synod and an excellent geneological website by Ms. Dixie Hansen. We'll start with his obituary, since it is the earthly sum of his life:

PASTOR OTTESEN IS DEAD
One of the founders of the Norwegian Synod lays down his pilgrim's staff

A Life of Sacrifice

The old pastor, Jacob Aal Ottesen, one of the pioneers and veterans of the Norwegian Synod, died about 12 o'clock Saturday night, and his death did not come unexpectedly, neither for himself nor for those nearest to him, as he had been in poor health for a long time.

Pastor Ottesen was born in the Fet Parsonage in Norway 11 June, 1825, and he therefore got to be 79 years and 5 months old. His father and grandfather had been ministers in Fet for about half a century. The family belongs to one of the oldest ones in the country, and there have been approximately 50 ministers among Pastor Ottesen's kin.

Following his graduation with distinction from the university, Ottesen for three years was a teacher at Nissens Latin og Realskole (Nissen's Latin and High School) in Kristiania. However, Norway was not where our Lord had decided for him to work, and since many of his compatriots had emigrated to America, he accepted in 1852 the call from a congregation, which had been formed in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. After his ordination by Bishop Arup, he left with his young wife, Katarine Doderlein, a daughter of School Principal Døderlein of Kristiania Katedralskole (Cathedral School) for the unknown America. Ole Bull had just started his disastrous colony, Oleana, in Pennsylvania, and Pastor Ottesen was requested to go and preach the gospel for his compatriots there. His parish in Manitowoc consisted of three organized congregations in and around the town as well as a mission field in the area from Green Bay to Milwaukee. This was truly mission and pioneer work that not only called for a sincere love for the Lord and His work, but also required much bodily strength and perseverance. Most of his time was spent traveling, especially on horseback in all kinds of weather and through thick forests without roads. Pastor Ottesen traveled that way, often 30 to 50 miles a day, and picked up a bad case of rheumatism, which resulted in permanent damage to one of his legs. In 1853 he was one of seven ministers who met in Koshkonong together with 42 representatives from 28 congregations to consider the question of establishing the Norwegian Synod. Its constitution was adopted here, and then later at the Synod Conference in October, 1853, got voted in after having been presented to the congregations.

Pastor Ottesen was the Synod Secretary for many years. The old pioneers had a keen eye for how to succeed with their work. They had to get their pastors educated in this country, and Pastors Ottesen and Brandt were sent in 1857 as delegates to visit the Lutheran schools in St. Louis, Columbus and Buffalo to see what could be done to get the Norwegian ministers educated at one of these schools. Based on the report that the two delegates brought to the Synod, the Seminary of the Germans in St. Louis was chosen, and a professorship was filled by theNorwegians, and a hand of friendship given tying the Norwegian Synod to the Missouri Synod. This has lasted until this day. In 1860 Pastor Ottesen was called to Koshkonong, where he served the three congregations: Eastern and Western Koshkonong as well as Liberty Prairie until 1891.

From 1861 to 68, he and Pastor H. A. Preus edited Kirkelig Maanedstidende (Monthly Periodical for the Church). In 1877 he was appointed Professor of Theology at Luther Seminary, which had just been established, but he declined the appointment. That same year, he was also selected as the first chairman for the Eastern District. The Synod was divided into districts that year. He also turned down this position. He was a member of the Synod's Church Council for many years.

During the tragic church controversy that broke out in the Synod during the 80's, Ottesen and his congregations suffered much, and in 1891 he stepped down as a minister and moved to Decorah, where he has since lived. Last year during the jubilee for the Synod here, as one of the few original ministers, he was present and spoke to the Synod. A short time before the Synod Conference, he and Pastor H. A. Stub received from King Oscar the Order of Knight of St. Olaf for long and honorable service to the church. Pastor Koren was made Commander of the Order of St. Olaf. Pastor Ottesen for more than a generation has carried the burden that goes with a large parish, although he was not strong physically, and this was in addition to all the work that the community had him do. However, he had a good education in the classics, sharp judgment, and was a competent writer, and more than anything else he had an intense love for his Lord and His work and was willing to offer everything for it. Although Pastor Ottesen's work has not attracted the attention of the big world, because it was done quietly among the members of his own congregation, he often did some really heroic deeds. He lived a life of self-denial at all times and that should be known in wide circles. We all owe an invaluable debt to men, who like Ottesen, just lived for one reason, namely to break bread for others and to take the gospel of Our Savior to as many as possible. Bless the memory of them!

Pastor Ottesen had a happy family life. Ottesen had a sharp and witty mind, and there are many who carry happy and amusing memories from the parsonage at Koshkonong. Pastor and Mrs. Ottesen had six children; three of them died quite young. A daughter, Diderikke, married to Professor Dr. H. G. Stub, left at her death two sons, who now are ministers. The two children who survive him are: his son, Pastor Otto Christian in Rio, Wisconsin, and his daughter Hanna Cathinka, who has stayed with him all the time here and who faithfully and lovingly has cared for him. An adopted son, Olaf Mandt, died young after serving as a minister in Baltimore for a short time.

From 1894 to 1896, Ottesen was the minister for the Synod congregation here in this town after Pastor Hove moved to Mankato and before Prof Stub became the minister here. He has otherwise, except for the last two years, preached off and on. His last task as a minister, as far as we remember, was the ordination of his daughter's son, Jacob Stub, to the holy work as a preacher in the fall of 1902. Ottesen has written and translated much. He wrote Kort Uddrag af Synodens Historie (A Short Excerpt of the Synod's History), which was presented at the World Exhibit in Chicago. At the request of the Synod, he rewrote the Catechism and translated Gynter's Symbolik from German.

Professor Erling Teigen illuminates some personal facts of Ottesen's life. First of all, he was known as having a keen mind, he avoided the spotlight, he worked tirelessly and suffered rheumatism and depression from it, and he raised children who contributed to the faith and to society in future generations.

Ottesen was one of the seven pastors who organized the Norwegian Synod in 1853 (C.L. Clausen, H.A. Stub, A.C. Preus, G.F. Dietrichsen, H.A. Preus, Nils O. Brandt, and Ottesen), having just arrived in 1852. Aside from his long service as a parish pastor, Ottesen’s contributions are in the form of theological writing, particularly polemical articles in the church paper, first called Kirkelig Maanedstidende, but Luthersk Kirketidende after it became necessary to publish semi-monthly and weekly. He served several times in the early years as secretary of the synod, but a most momentous and far-reaching assignment for this young pastor came in 1857 when he was sent by the Synod (the resolution was passed at the 1855 convention) with Pastor Nils Brandt to visit some Lutheran seminaries in the U. S. The mission was to find a place to train pastors for the Norwegian immigrant church. From 1859-1868, he was co-editor with H.A. Preus of the church paper, Maanedstidende, which was the platform for a large part of his writing, much of it doctrinal and polemical. He wrote a brief history of the Norwegian Synod (to be distributed at the Chicago Exposition in 1893), as well as a series of articles entitled “A Look at the Missouri Synod.” He translated Guenther’s Symbolik from German to Norwegian, as well as Walther’s The Evangelical Lutheran Church: God’s True Visible Church on Earth.

Ottesen had one son who entered the ministry, Otto Christian Ottesen, who did not outlive his father by many years, dying in 1917. Two grandsons, Hans Andrews Stub and Jacob Aall Ottesen Stub also became pastors, and had notable service in the merged Norwegian Lutheran Church in America after 1917. Their mother, Diderikke Aall Ottesen, was married to H.G. Stub, who led the Norwegian Synod into the 1917 merger. The young mother died in 1879, soon after the birth of her second son. The first daughter born to the Ottesens was named Hannah, but she died soon after birth, as did another girl. Including Diderikke, the young mother, the Ottesens left three children buried at Koshkonong. (Nils Brandt was married to a Diderikke Ottesen, who apparently was a sister of J. A. Ottesen.) One daughter lived to adulthood, also named Hannah, who lived with the Ottesens until the death of Mrs. Ottesen (Cathinka) in 1899, and Pastor Ottesen in 1904. Ottesen also had a foster son, Olaf Mandt, who lived with the family in Koshkonong for confirmation instruction, and then was sent by Ottesen to Luther College, and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. After his ordination, he served in Baltimore, where he died after two years in the ministry.

But that was not all the sorrow Ottesen left at Koshkonong. On August 10, 1891, the Ottesens were taken to the depot in Stoughton and took the train to Decorah, Iowa, where they would spend the rest of their lives. Ottesen’s friend Halvor Halvorson notes that in the ensuing 13 years, Ottesen traveled some, coming as close to Koshkonong as Spring Prairie, (where he performed the wedding of his niece Cathinka Hjort to pastor J. Strand), but never visiting there. He was invited by the congregations often, and always sent a greeting for festival occasions, but never visited. It does not seem that this reluctance to return to the place where he had served as pastor for 31 years was rooted in a circumspect pastoral ethic to stay away from places one has previously served.

While serving the three-point parish, West and East Koshkonong, and Liberty (near Deerfield), Ottesen confirmed about 3,000 young people. From that number, one can project an even larger number of baptisms, as well as a great number of marriages, and funerals. And there is a great deal of evidence that Ottesen was a dearly loved pastor among his people. In the late ‘70s, he was permitted to leave for several months to visit Norway, which included the final visit with his father.

But Ottesen had health problems. Early on, there is mention of his being sickly, and not always able to carry the full load of his ministerial duties. Certainly the East and West congregations on Koshkonong Prairie as well as Liberty congregation to the North grew rapidly, and one wonders how one man could keep up with that work.

George Orvick reports what may be the recollection of Julia Reque:

Ottesen traveled a distance of 30-50 miles a day on horseback, in summer heat and winter storm. As a result of these strenuous journeys, Ottesen contracted chronic rheumatism which worked havoc with the nerves of his legs, so that it was difficult for him to talk or stand long. Because of this Ottesen was often forced to sit in the pulpit when delivering his sermons.

This condition may have exacerbated another condition—there is some evidence that Ottesen suffered some depression, which might today be called depression and anxiety. In any case, even before the outbreak of full-scale doctrinal warfare, because of Ottesen’s illnesses, the congregations hired a “kapellan,” a curate or assistant pastor, which would have serious repercussions in the controversial years to follow.
The election controversy which began in 1877 took a toll on his condition. Ottesen wrote in 1885:
But I will add that in the last four to five years, I have been under a great deal pressure from sorrow and distress, both because of physical illness, namely, an often painful nervousness [nervøsitet], and also because of the emergency I saw in the congregation during the bitter controversy, which has gone on here in these years. No one will be surprised that during all this have often been more despondent [modløs] and irresolute [radløs, indecisive] than I would have been otherwise.
What he describes, mentioned also by others, appears to be an already existing condition exacerbated by unusually stressful circumstances.

In reading through the life of Rev. Ottesen, I was struck by the accounts of others of his daughters: Didrikke Aall Ottesen Stub and Hannah Cathinka Ottesen. Didrikke died following a short illness while visiting her parents. Her son (and Ottesen's grandson) Jacob Aall Ottesen Stub, writes:

My mother - Diderikke - I cannot remember. I am told she was a tall and queenly woman. combined with her woman's love of home and dear ones was a keen interest in life in general. She was well educated, loved books and music, but also the out-of-doors. One of her friends, who knew her well, has told me that she was an excellent driver and utterly fearless. In corroboration hereof she showed me a newspaper clipping which tells of her stopping a runaway team, and preventing what would probably have been a serious accident. She did not live to see her two little boys grow beyond babyhood. Blessed be her memory!


His other surviving daughter, Hannah, never married but lived to age 70. She cared for her parents until their deaths and enjoyed learning from her father and the many intellectuals who visited their home. She willed several family heirlooms to the ELS. This Ottesen collection, together with other artifacts, comprises the holdings of the Ottesen Museum. It was the women of the synod who provided the impetus for establishing the Ottesen Museum. As the synod was preparing, at its 1941 annual meeting, to celebrate its 90th anniversary (1943), which also would mark the 25th year of the re-organized synod (1918–1943), a group of women began to discuss the possibility of establishing the Ottesen Museum. Sixteeen women met at Bethany Lutheran College on June 16, 1941, and determined to organize the museum.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Long live the Lutheran Carnival!!!


Guess this mystery Confessional Lutheran forefather


Please pray for me as I compile the 30+ excellent posts submitted to me into a pretty package for this Sunday's issue of the Confessional Lutheran Carnival. Also, be prepared to learn about a very interesting Lutheran forefather.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Katie's Beer: Lutheran Carnival posts due by midnight this Thursday

I probably hid this announcement just a little. Sorry! I need posts for this weekend's Lutheran Carnival by midnight Thursday (central time)or you run the risk of being bumped down to the next Carnival (not a punishment, but a delay of expectation). Read on: Lutheran Carnival: A few more things to think about

Send your posts to me at TKls2myhrt at good old gmail.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Women and Scriptures

Siberian women being taught to read scripture


In her paper titled, Women & Scriptures, Sandra Ostopowich, of Higher Things, does a great job of summarizing how women are valued, educated and held in such high esteem in the Lutheran church.

In a humorous account, she describes how she - a Lutheran seminary student- was asked one day: "Why do you want to be a pastor? Women are way too important to God to be pastors!" She was mad and incredulous at that question, but took the challenge of studying scripture for a good response. Read what she discovered...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

Here is an interesting contrast between the human race and God. The human race, no matter what skin color, culture, gender, social class, religion, considers "the externals" important. God, on the other hand, looks at the heart.

We, being human, are attracted to physical beauty, superior intellectual, athletic skill, and to the external religious activities of generosity and self-sacrifice. We think, "If I could only be like that."

Mended by Christ's blood
But what about the heart? The only thing that really counts is that the heart is in the right place. The person with physical beauty may be "using" that beauty to get what he or she wants. The person with superior intellect or athletic skill might be using that skill to put others down in a mocking way. The religious person might only be doing acts of generosity and sacrifice to win him or herself a place in heaven. We are all guilty of this!


The Lord looks at the heart, sees our every motivation. This is why he cares not for our externals, but only the heart. "So rend your heart, and not your garments!" he tells us. Nothing else matters if the heart is not repentant.


On March 1st we celebrate Ash Wednesday. It is the beginning of the church season of Lent. Lent is a season of repentance. It refocuses us on the importance of repentance, that we rend our hearts by the power of God's Law. God's Law, the Ten Commandments, makes us conscious of our sin, so that we do not rely our externals to get to heaven. Rather, we confess our sins, give up on our own efforts, and plead to God to save us! And He does save!


The season of Lent teaches this too! God sent his Son Jesus Christ to live an upright and holy life to save us from our sins. Jesus offered himself as the holy sacrifice to purify us from sin by his blood! It is the message of Jesus, the Gospel, that brings us to faith in Him! God will not turn away anyone who cries out for mercy in Jesus' name! He is gracious and merciful and kind, straight from His heart!


"So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm." Joel 2:13


From the ELS Board for Evangelism: March Newsletter Article