Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stand in the Gap

letter sent to Speaker Pelosi's email:

Speaker Pelosi,

I am personally against the deliberate removal of several references to God in the new Capitol visitor center. Why are the words “In God we Trust” removed from the representation above the Speaker’s desk of the House chamber? – this is deceitful, inaccurate, and a liberal attempt to cover our Christian heritage.

Why are the words “Religion and Morality” omitted from Article III of the Northwest Ordinance?

Why are the words “in the Year of our Lord” omitted from Article VII of the Constitution in the Visitor Center?

All these and other Historic inaccuracies are deplorable and will not go unchallenged by the American people. Why are you in denial about the church sessions of Congress held in the Capital in the late 1800’s? They were attended by over 2000 people consistently. Why do cover up that they were sanctioned sessions of Congress? Why do you not state that both Congressmen and Presidents attended? Why do you relegate the churches meeting to the lie that Congress rented out the building for people to have church in instead of the truth that Congress was holding church?

I am sorry, but you cannot hide the Christian heritage of our Country. It is stamped on our coins and quoted by many of our God-fearing Presidents. Many of our Generals of History have called on the people to pray to Almighty God, and yes, in the name of Jesus Christ.

I ask you to use your power to make the new visitor center faithful to our Christian heritage. It is HISTORY Mrs. Pelosi, not your opinion that must be recorded for our posterity.

Tobe Witmer
314 Jaymar Blvd.
Newark, De 19702

"the godless pit"

Hello Lighthousers --- here is a recent email sent to Pastors and other from David Barton, the Christian Historian. Although I do not agree with Barton's lack of separation, I have met him and he is a committed and dedicated lover of the Lord Jesus. I hope you will take the time to read this article about the Capitol Visitor Center and realize how our liberal lawmakers are destroying our country.

September 25, 2008

Washington, D. C. is filled with impressive structures openly acknowledging God: the Washington Monument , the Jefferson Memorial, the Library of Congress, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and many others.

The newest federal structure (scheduled to open in just a few months) is the Capitol Visitor Center – a massive underground facility that spans more area than the Capitol itself. It will acquaint some 15,000 visitors each day – including thousands of school children – with the 200 year history of the Capitol as well as its current content and operation. However, the new Visitor Center has deliberately censored mentions of God from both the Capitol's historical and current aspects.

View the clip on the Capitol Visitor Center

For example, in presenting the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Visitor Center officials actually deleted the words "religion and morality" from the document. And in presenting images of the current Speaker's Rostrum in the House Chamber, they deliberately omitted the phrase "In God We Trust" from its prominent location engraved in marble above the Speaker's head. There are many other examples. No wonder a congressman has dubbed it the "$600 million dollar godless pit."

But not only does the Center censor God and religion from America's history but it also contains basic historical errors about the war of 1812, the Bill of Rights, the constitutional separation of powers, and many other simple topics.

View the clip on the Capitol Visitor Center

For nearly five years, I have been working with many Members of Congress in monitoring the content and displays within the Center. Initially, those Members were able to correct bad information in the Center, but in the last two years under the new congressional leadership, there has been a real reversal in the willingness of Visitor Center officials to make changes. Therefore, it is now time to get the public involved.

Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett stated that "Sunlight is the best disinfectant," and he is right. The link below will show you what is occurring in this new federal structure and what you can do to help us get things changed.

View the clip on the Capitol Visitor Center

Thanks for your help on this important issue! God bless!

(By the way, if you know of others who might enjoy periodic email on items usually neglected in the news, encourage them to sign up on the WallBuilders' website.)

David Barton

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Watch Your Perspective

Last night, Amy and I had the opportunity to go to a Baltimore Orioles game. With the help of Jeff Washer, we found tickets for $15 that were 20 rows off of the first base line. It was great to be able to read the guys jerseys and look them in the face. I missed a foul ball by inches...well, feet...well yards...well a mile.....

Anyhow, I was amazed at the occupation of the fans: Beer, Beer, and more Beer. I watched one group in front of us that consumed at least 3 beers a piece. Another guy was a chain drinker and showed visible signs of inebriation by the 7th inning or so.

The first group seemed to come for nothing but beer and talking. They didn't even watch the game. At one point, they were on the "Big Screen" and when told didn't even look up saying seriously: they weren't interested in seeing their faces......WHAT?

Anyhow, I began to think of perspective of life during that game. Everyone around us was drinking like it was just the thing to do. People drink to make their heart merry by dulling the concerns they are dealing with. Believers rejoice their heart by pouring out their concerns in submission and praise to the Lord. (At least they should)

It seems to me that it would be easy to get sidetracked as a Christian if you stared at the Secular World View for awhile. I let myself experimentally ask last night: "Am I missing this drinking-no God-no responsibility-life" the way to go?"

I obviously conclude "NO" - but I wonder how easy it would be for me to say "that's attractive" if I allowed myself to become entrenched in it and stared at it for awhile as many believers do. It is dangerous to think "no big deal" to drinking and a "non-accountable" life and forget that we are always accountable for our bodies, testimony, reputation, testimony to our children, conscience, ability to witness, etc. Can you hand a gospel tract to a beer vendor?

My admonition for you this morning is not to allow yourself to stare and ask the question. Stay focused on fighting the good fight of faith as the Lord told us. The Devil would love for us to be tempted to believe that the "no-rules-beer-life" is the way to go....but we are "not ignorant of his (Satan's) devices".

Have a great day and rejoice in the Lord - your Intercessor is still holding your hand and God's! Your Anchor holds!


Friday, September 19, 2008

All about Newark

The interview about "All About Newark" is an opportunity to be connected to the new City of Newark website launching in January of 2009. We have the option (as a service) to appear on the cities main page as a local church. It is a really neat way to advertise that would show a video slideshow of our church with audio. It would also connect potential "premovers" to our website for a look at our church. With 30,000 new jobs being created at the Aberdene Proving Grounds, this will definitely be in use. This may be a wiser advertising move than our Yellowpages ad financially.

Stay posted.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

response from ING CEO

Hey everyone! Here is a response to my former blog about the letter to ING Direct that is a major supporter of the Gay Agenda:

Dear Pastor Tobe,

ING DIRECT is for everyone, except those who are truly served by the old way. It’s unfortunate our support with the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has led you to bank elsewhere.


Arkadi Kuhlmann

*********Uh.......what? --- Does anyone in the "blog audience" understand Mr. Kuhlmann's first sentence? How is standing against Homosexuality being "served by the old way"?

No Dirt

After doing the preliminary considerations on bringing free dirt to our property to begin the necessary grading for our future construction, it was concluded that it would be counterproductive.

It would cost us about $10,000 more to take the free dirt now after silt fences are constructed, permits are obtained, etc.

We were previously very positive about the FREENESS of the dirt, the encouragement to our people, the neighbors------but when all was realized, it doesn't make sense.

I am sorry for the false alarm, we will strive harder not to do that to you again. It is really all Jack Miller's fault :) (I love you Jack:)


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Letter to CEO of ING Direct

I share this letter with you because I received a mass-mailing email from the CEO of ING Direct. I have an account with them, and as you see in the letter, we were considering them as an option to get a better rate on our Building Fund. I do hope you understand that "good men" need to stand against sin in this world.

Dear Arkadi, (CEO of ING Direct)

Thank you for your recent email to your customers. I sadly inform you however, that I will be dropping my account with you. I had planned to use ING as a better savings option for my children’s accounts, until I saw the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. I had originally taken advantage of a $25. incentive you had sent.

Actually, our leadership was in the process of considering ING for $300,000 that we have in a Money Market with Citizen’s Bank. We are a year or so away from building a new Auditorium.

How sad it is that ING has been strong-armed into supporting an Anti-Family organization. I will not be doing business with you and I have encouraged the 150 families that I represent not to do business with you or any Pro-Gay organizations. I certainly understand marketing and selling to a “niche”, but I do not understand or support investing yourself in the Gay Agenda by partnering with GLCC.

The Gay Agenda makes up a small, very vocal minority of this country. The Evangelical Christian community represents a full 25% of the voter base. Nearly all Evangelicals are against the Gay Agenda. I do hope you will economically do the math in deciding to continue to support the Gay Agenda. Until then, I will be informing those that hear my voice that ING supports the Gay Agenda.

Very seriously yours,

Pastor Tobe Witmer (ING Customer)
Lighthouse Baptist Church
302 368 8050

cc: “Pastor’s Heart” blog on

Friday, September 12, 2008

Praising My Savior and Colleen

I want to begin this day with praising my Savior. We have been singing a song in our Foundation's Sunday School Class: "Its Amazing What Praising Can Do!"

I praise Jesus because He was willing to leave the John 17 relationship with His Father to come to earth for 32/33 years. That was a very special and powerful relationship, and it may have been His greatest sacrifice in our salvation.

I praise Jesus because He loves me as His child. I praise Him that He is the anchor of my soul, sure and steadfast. I praise Him because He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for me. I praise Him because He is not ashamed to call me brother. I praise Him that because of Him, I am already seated in the Heavenlies. I praise Him because just as He was, I am sometimes persecuted for righteousness sake; it is an honor for me to suffer with Him.

I praise Jesus because of each of the wounds of His body that he gave for me. We looked at these during the Lord's Supper on Wednesday night. Remember His head, His back, His face, His comfort, His hands, His feet, His side.

I praise Jesus because He by the Holy Spirit has given me gifts today to use for Him. I have a purpose and a plan for the day. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish that work. I praise Jesus that He watches over me, and immediately hears my prayer and sees my tears.

So today, I could go on and on, but it is enough to say: I praise Jesus, and my Father, and the Holy Spirit within me! Hallelujah! what a Savior!

I do hope this note finds you well, and rejoicing in Christ your Savior. A special Hello to Colleen who works at Rudy's Family Restaurant and is planning to visit our church soon! She is visiting our Website to see her name in this blog. She is a wonderful waitress---go to Rudy's and give her big tips :)


Monday, September 8, 2008

New Siteplan for LBC

Sacred Dance?

Greetings Lighthousers,

After the first installment of our Music Series last night, some were very interested in the history of dance in worship. I have included a very comprehensive history below. Please note the disclaimer.

The History of Sacred Dance

(Disclaimer: The fact that this article appears on the LBC Website does not mean that Pastor Witmer or LBC condones every detail of its doctrine, etc. Please be discerning and compare it to Scripture.)

The Hebrew Tradition

Dance was an integral part of the celebrations of the ancient Israelites. It was used both in worship in ordinary life and on occasions of triumphant victory and festivity.
The sacred dance mediated between God and humanity, thus bringing the Israelites into a closer relationship with their God, Jehovah.
In many Old Testament biblical allusions to, and descriptions of, dance there is no disapproval, only affirmation of this medium of worship. The people are exhorted to praise God with 'dancing, making melody to him with timbrel and lyre' (Psalm 149:3), and to 'praise him with timbrel and dance' (Psalm 150:4). Dancing is so common that in passages alluding to rejoicing without specific mention of dancing, it can be assumed dance is implied (Gagne 1984:24).
The most frequently used root for the word 'dance' in the Old Testament is hul which refers to the whirl of the dance and implies highly active movement. Of the 44 words in the Hebrew language for dancing, only in one is there a possible reference to secular movement as distinct from religious dancing (Clarke and Crisp 1981:35).
The types of dance used in Israelite society included the circular or ring dance, as well as the processional dance. These were often used to celebrate specific events as when David and the people of Israel danced before the Ark of the Lord, which represented the presence of God (2 Samuel 6:14).
A third type of dance included hopping and whirling movements which were exuberant with joy. At the defeat of Pharaoh's armies following the crossing of the Red Sea, 'Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances' (Exodus 15:20). When David slew Goliath, the women sang 'to one another in dance' (1 Samuel 29:5).
Each of these forms of dance found an expression in daily life and at festival times. At the Feast of Tabernacles, for instance, 'pious men danced with torches in their hands and sang songs of joy and praise, while the Levites played all sorts of instruments. The dance drew crowds of spectators ... It did not end until the morning at a given sign' (Gagne 1984:30). The revered tradition of community celebration found its expression through movement.
However, dance is not mentioned formally in the Mosaic code, nor was the movement free of certain prohibitions. A distinction came to be made between the early, holy dances of a sacred nature, and those which resembled pagan ceremonies. This distinction, made by the Israelites, was to be made even more sharply by the Christians in the following centuries.
The Early Christian Church (A.D. 100-500)
In the first five centuries of the Christian church 'dance was still acceptable because it was planted deep in the soil of the Judeo-Christian tradition' (Gagne 1984:43). Christians were accustomed to celebrating, in dance, at worship and festivals because of the Hebrew tradition of dance.
Christianity was also subjected to the prevailing social and political influences of the Roman Empire. Changing circumstances in the 4th century thus led to changes in the importance and meaning of dance as well as in the dance material used in Christian liturgy. In the course of the history of theatre and dance, Christianity shaped and proscribed new developments. Although seemingly restrictive in these early centuries, 'the church actually created a context for new flowerings of social, theatrical and religious dance' (Fallon and Wolbers 1982:9).
The New Testament gives few direct references to dance. 'But even this points to a possible parallel of the Jewish tradition of presuming the presence of dance without the need to mention it explicitly' (Gagne 1984:35). Evidence of the use of dance as an accepted expression of joy is reflected in Jesus' comment, 'We piped to you but you did not dance' (Matthew 11:17). Similarly, in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son there was dancing and rejoicing on the son's return to his home (Luke 15:25).
Paul reminds Christians that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that they should glorify God with their bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He further indicates physical movement is an approved part of prayer-like expression when he exhorts Timothy to pray lifting up holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8). The biblical stance for most prayers included raising arms and hands above the head (1 Timothy 2:8). In prayers of confession, kneeling or prostration was common, and in thanksgiving prayers or intercession standing with arms raised was common (Adams 1975:4).
Additionally, recent studies suggest there are more references to dance in the New Testament than originally thought (Daniels 1981:11). In the Aramaic language which Jews spoke, the word for 'rejoice' and 'dance' are the same. Hence, in including 'dance' with 'rejoice' there are references to dancing and leaping for joy (Luke 6:23) as well as 'dancing in the Spirit' (Luke 10:21).
In the two earliest Christian liturgies recorded in detail, dance is used in the order of service. Both Justin Martyr in A.D. 150 and Hippolytus in A.D. 200 describe joyful circle dances (Daniels 1981:13). In the early church, dance was perceived as one of the 'heavenly joys and part of the adoration of the divinity by the angels and by the saved' (Gagne 1984:36).
This attitude to dance contrasts sharply with Roman society in which Christianity first appeared. As Shawn comments, 'Here in Imperial Rome we find the dance first completely theatricalised - then commercialised; and as the religious life of Rome became orgiastic, so the religious dances became occasions for unbridled licentiousness and sensuality' (Kraus and Chapman 1981:42).
In reaction to what the Christians perceived as moral decadence, the church sought to purify the dance by expunging all traces of paganism from the intention and expression of the movement. Dance, however, continued within the church itself, provided the form and intent were holy and not profane. The purpose of liturgical movement was to bring glory and honour to God, and take the focus off the self.
By the third century there is detailed evidence of dance integrated into the ritual and worship of the church in the writings of Hippolytus (A.D. 215) and Gregory the Wonder-Worker (A.D. 213-270). At the same time, there is an increasing emphasis on spiritual thanksgiving in Christian worship. Christian intellectuals sought to overcome the passion of the flesh by reason of mind, the greatest evidence of this being demonstrated through martyrdom.
During the fourth century, significant changes in and outside the church influenced attitudes towards the type of dance used in Christian worship. The major cause of change stemmed from the reign of Constantine (AD 306-337). Constantine converted to Christianity in A.D. 312 and was instrumental in accepting and supporting the church. The Roman Empire officially adopted Christianity in A.D. 378, thus ushering in a new relationship between church and state.
Many references to dance as part of worship in the fourth and fifth centuries are tempered by warnings about forms of dance which were considered sinful, dissolute and which smacked of Roman degeneracy. As membership in the Christian Church became popular, licentiousness began to characterise the sacred festivals.
In the writings of the Church Fathers of these early centuries, there is evident concern with the changing focus of Christian dances. Epiphanius (AD 315-403) sought to emphasise the spiritual element in the dance. In a sermon on Palm Sunday A.D. 367, he describes the festival's celebration in the following way:
Rejoice in the highest, Daughter of Zion! Rejoice, be glad and leap boisterously thou all-embracing Church. For behold, once again the King approaches ... once again perform the choral dances ... leap wildly, ye Heavens; sing Hymns, ye Angels; ye who dwell in Zion, dance ring dances (Kraus and Chapman 1981:49).
This text describes both the literal dance and the spiritual emphasis of the ceremony, while favouring the latter as the focus of the celebration.
This was the tendency of other church leaders, who 'attempted to turn their eyes away from the actual physical movement intrinsic to dance and regard dance from a singularly spirtualised perspective, as symbolic of spiritual motions of the soul' (Gagne 1984:47).
In the late fourth century, Ambrose (AD 340-397), Bishop of Milan, tried to clarify the values and dangers of sacred dance by emphasising the spiritual. 'The Lord bids us dance, not merely with the circling movements of the body, but with the pious faith in him' (Adams 1990:18). He saw dance as spiritual applause and did not rule it out of the church. Similarly, Gregory of Nyssa (AD 335-394) described Jesus as the one and only choreographer and leader of dancers on earth and in the church.
However, other leaders in the church began to voice their opposition to the use of dance. John Chrysostom (AD 345-407), in speaking of Herodias' daughter, commented that 'where dancing is, there is the evil one' (Gagne 1984:50). Augustine (AD 354-430), Bishop of Hippo, warned against 'frivolous or unseemly' dances (Adams 1990:20) and insisted on prayer, not dance. Caesarius of Arles (AD 470-542) condemned dance at the vigils of saints, calling them a 'most sordid and disgraceful act' (Gagne 1984:51).
This conflict reflects the difficulties the Church Fathers were experiencing as the church grew in popularity. The increasing number of converts made attempts to retain the dances of their own pagan cults, so that by the beginning of the sixth century, dance came under severe condemnation in the church.
The fall of Rome in A.D. 476 left Europe without a centralised power. The Church stepped in as the arbitrator of morality, law, education and social structure. The conflicts between the tradition of ecclesiastical dancing and the moral reprobation of the church itself, led to conflict over the use and value of dance, which continued throughout the Middle Ages.
The first four centuries following the fall of Rome were characterised by warfare, invasions of Christian lands by Barbarians, or vice versa, and intense missionary activities. The church was becoming more authoritarian in its activities and the concept of the church as a judicial institution began to outweigh the concept of church as community.
As the conscious use of authority widened and deepened within the church and state systems, there were an increasing number of edicts and considerable legislation which reformed church liturgy. The use of dance was restricted, and continually monitored as the emphasis on the mysterious ritual of the worship service superseded the emphasis on spontaneous celebration and praise to God (Fallon and Wolbers 1982:42).
Gradually a distinction between the clergy and laity was developing as a consequence of the church authorities' regulations on the Mass. Latin was no longer the language of the people, therefore knowledge of the Mass was restricted to the educated and clergy. Choirs took over all sung parts of the Mass, thus leaving the laity to engage in private devotions during the service. Liturgically, participation in the Mass was more restricted for the lay person and spectatorship became the hallmark of this period (Taylor 1976:83).
Inevitably as the liturgy became the reserve of the clergy, two different sacred dance traditions emerged.
The first tradition centred around dance performed by the clergy as part of the Mass. This movement became ritualised and symbolic of the theology of the church (Adams 1990:30). The Mass itself was a disciplined and prescribed sacred movement with definite postures proscribed by church authorities for the moving of ritual articles such as candles, books, and censors (Taylor 1976:10). On special occasions such as Saints' days, Christmas and Easter, the clergy performed sacred dances for the congregation who were spectators of these ritual acts. The usual forms for dance were the processional or round dances.
The second dance tradition that developed, with the approval and guidance of the church, was known as popular sacred dances. These developed in connection with church ceremonies and festivals. It was customary to celebrate these with a processional dance although round or ring dances were popular. They were performed in the church, churchyard, or surrounding countryside during religious festivals, saints' days, weddings or funerals.
It was difficult for the church to regulate these popular dances because the very nature of the dance and its occasion often entailed spontaneous movement. The rhythmic stomping and hopping steps sometimes caused uncontrollable ecstasy. When accompanied by feasting and drinking, these excesses were frowned on by the church.
The dances were usually performed to hymns or carols. 'To carol' means 'to dance' (Adams 1975:6). 'Carol' is derived from the Latin corolla for 'ring', and 'caroller' is derived from the Latin choraula meaning 'flute-player for chorus-dancing' (Oxford Dictionary). Most carols were divided into the stanza, meaning to 'stand' or 'halt', and the chorus, which means 'dance'. Thus, during the chorus, the people danced and unless a solo dancer performed for the stanza, there was little movement as the stanza was sung.
The most common step performed during the chorus was the tripudium, which means 'three step'. This was danced by taking three steps forward and one backwards; then it was repeated. The timing was usually 4/4 or 2/4 and the step was popular for processional dances. Often five or ten people would link arms and then join with others to process through the streets, and around the church, symbolising the unity and equality of the church community.
As the centuries passed during the Middle Ages, however, the 'rising hierarchy eschewed dancing with the people - for dancing symbolises and effected a sense of equality' (Adams 1975:5). Generally the bishops abstained from dancing, although some joined the people dancing, a practice which threatened the developing hierarchy and so it 'hastened church legislation against all dancing' (Adams 1975:5).
Later Middle Ages (A.D. 1100-1400)
As the church consolidated its authority in the medieval period, the censorship of dance continued. Dance was still an accepted liturgical form and various references attest to the rise of dance in the ring and processional form (Adams 1970:22). However, gradually the sacred dance form began to shift and instead of devotional dance, the movement became more theatrical and dramatic.
As public interest in the Mass waned, the Christian authorities made a definite effort to arouse the congregations by including more choral songs, picturesque processions and even ceremonial dances performed in the choir area. John Beleth, a 12th century rector at the University of Paris mentioned four kinds of choral dances, with tripudiam, which were customarily used at church festivals (Adams 1990:22).
The worship dance did persist as the exclusive realm of the clergy. Bonaventure (c. 1260) wrote that in the joys of paradise there will be endless circling, 'rhythmic revolutions with the spheres' (Adams 1990:21). Even as late as the 16th century a manuscript describes an Easter carol or ring dance which took place on Easter eve at the church in Sens. In this dance, the Archbishop is assisted by the clergy who first moved round two by two, followed in the same manner by prominent citizens, all singing songs of the resurrection. The carol moved from the cloister into the church, around tthe choir and into the nave, all the while singing Salvation Mundi (Taylor 1976:22).
However, evidence of worship-centred dances such as these declined in favour of dramatic dance to be used in the church as an allegorical explanation of the Mass. Short plays were introduced into the liturgy to improve its appeal to the laity. By 1100, playlets made their way into eucharistic liturgy and became the precursor to mystery plays.
Aside from the dramatic dances, the attitude of the church authorities to the sacred dance, as well as the popular dances, was restrictive. In struggling to unify and control Christian dance, the church hierarchy issued a number of edicts against the use of dance.
The most widely known of all religious dances in the 14th and 15th centuries was the Dance of Death or danse macabre. The obsession with this dance reveals the medieval people's preoccupation with death. Although initially a spontaneous movement, eventually a set pattern evolved in a processional format. The church sought to prohibit such dances stating, 'Whoever buries the dead should do so with fear and trembling and decency. No one shall be permitted to sing devil songs and perform games and dances which are inspired by the devil and have been invented by the heathen' (Kraus and Chapman 1981:59).
However there was an upsurge in the popularity of the Dance of Death with its grotesque parodies of funerals and frenzied dance outbursts during the period of the Black Plague (1347-1373). The plague was a combination of the bubonic plague and pneumonia and it raged throughout Europe killing half the population of Europe by 1450 (Brooke 1971:14).
Simultaneously, there were outbreaks of dance epidemics known as Danseomania - dance mania. John Martin comments that people were so affected by a succession of calamities that they sought an outlet for emotional stress through the dancing. Other sources have maintained these epidemics were traceable to a poisoning caused by the consumption of diseased grain in rural communities. 'Whole communities of people ... were stricken with a kind of madness that sent them dancing and gyrating through the streets and from village to village for days at a time until they died in agonised exhaustion' (Kraus and Chapman 1981:55).
The dance epidemics reached an intensity that rendered ecclesiastical councils helpless in opposition to them. Despite the church's command to cease the dance manias, the people either wouldn't or couldn't. Consequently, the dancers were often accused of being possessed by the devil.
In the light of these dance manias, the sacred dance liturgies of the church receded into oblivion. Several edicts sought to restrict dance and control its excesses, both outside the church, and within. Yet the numerous proscriptions against church dance only served to push it outside to the streets. While sacred dance by the clergy was beginning to cease, the popular church dances persisted. For a time, the church remained unsuccessful in suppressing these popular dances.
With the rise of papal control of all aspects of Christian life, along with excesses of the Dance of Death and dance manias, the liturgical dance forms began to suffer. What remained of the Christian dance forms were shadows of the former worship-centred celebrations of the earlier centuries. As the focus in church dance shifted to the liturgy, the movement within the church became proscriptive and functional. As the focus in popular dance shifted to the movement of the body, rather than on the divine, it too lost the essence of the original meaning of Christian dance.
The Renaissance (14001700)
The Renaissance heralded the beginning of substantial changes for Christian dance. Historically, it was a period of great upheaval. In 1455 books began being printed and this encouraged an emphasis on intellect, so that the mind was perceived of greater importance than the body in religious growth. The Protestant Reformation (15171529) and the Roman Catholic Counter Reformation as evidenced by the Council of Trent (15451563) wrought enormous changes to the perceived use and value of dance in the Christian context (Adams 1990:23).
What flourished in the dance realm were processional celebrations, theatrical moral ballets and some interpretations of hymns and psalms in worship. Theatre and spectacles were on the rise, and with the emergence of the dancing master, the church's liturgical dance faded in significance.
Prior to the Renaissance, religious dance had become severely ritualised within the church, and only in popular sacred dances did it retain the element of spontaneity. Yet within the ensuing changes brought by circumstances of the Renaissance, the church and civil authorities sought to sedate, proscribe and ritualise these dances also.
Ultimately, however, it was the Reformation, which tended, in its extreme forms to do away with Christian dance. All dances and processions, except funeral processions were abolished (Adams 1990:25).
The Reformation (15171529)
The leaders of the Protestant Reformation were highly critical of traditional church customs. They sought to suppress the use of icons, the worship of saints, and pilgrimages and processions. They preached the renunciation of the world and intensified the struggle between soul and body by placing greater emphasis on the mind. The connection between the body, dance and eroticism was openly acknowledged, and Christians were taught not to glorify the body.
These ideas spread rapidly as the church utilised the printing press, spreading tracts which were highly critical of dance. The following excerpt is from a booklet printed at Utrecht:
The heathen are the inventors of dance. Those who cultivate it are generally idolaters, epicureans, good for nothings, despicable or dishonourable comedians or actors, as well as souteneurs, gigolos, and other dissolute, worthless, wanton persons. Its defenders and followers are Lucian, Caligula, Herod, and similar epicureans and athiests. With it belong gluttony, drunkenness, plays, feast days, and heathen saints' days (Fallon & Wolbers 1982:15).
Yet the early leaders of the Protestant Reformation were not antidance. Martin Luther (c. 1525) wrote a carol for children entitled From Heaven High in which two stanzas support the role of song and dance in worship.
Additionally, the English Church leader, William Tyndale, in a prologue to the New Testament wrote of the roles of joyous song and dance, and was happy to use the words, daunce and leepe when he considered the joyous good news of Christianity (Adams 1990:26). It was as the teachings of the leaders were interpreted by the people that bans on sacred dance increased dramatically.
Similarly, in the Catholic Church during the meetings of the Council of Trent, the intention was less on the abolition of sacred dance, than on seeking unity in liturgical and theological matters. The Council's decrees, however, stifled creativity and growth within the church drama scene. In 1566, statues of the synod of Lyons for example, threatened priests and other persons with excommunication if they led dances in churches or cemeteries.
In general, the church insisted on liturgical unity without the use of dance in worship. As increasing pressure to cease all religious dance mounted, there seemed no avenue for a possible creative revival in dance.
Consequently, religious dance disappeared, or survived in only a few isolated places. Some religious denominations cultivated specific liturgical movements which harked back to the early church dance. Other Christian dance movements were changed into folk expressions, to be seen at weddings or funerals, or else remained buried in the structured movement of the Catholic Mass.
The events of the period eventually led to the eradication of liturgical dance, processions, and most visual arts, leaving only the arts of painting, preaching and music unscathed.
In the post Reformation period both the Protestant and Catholic Church 'firmly attempted to close the door on creative expression of dance in the liturgy' (Gagne 1984:59). The Catholics' increasing proscriptions against dance, coupled with an increasing sense of mistrust of dance on the part of Protestants, forced dance back into the secular realm. 'Dance was given back totally to society, with few exceptions remaining of church-related Christian dance' (Gagne 1984: 59).

Saturday, September 6, 2008

When the Towers Fell

When the Towers Fell

by Theo Docksa

You cannot tell a Hero by the ribbons on his chest,
You cannot tell a warrior by weapons on his vest,
But when a man lays down his life for one that’s not his own,
That man is something special and deserves great honor shown:

When the towers fell, when the towers fell,
And the hope of every American heart lay crumbled on the ground,
They may have taken brick away, with glass and metal spans,
But we still have our Courage, Faith, our Love, and Praying Hands.

We woke up on that morning, just like another day,
Some started school, some work, some home, and some had time to play,
But somewhere close to nine o’clock, we lost our innocence,
When wicked men with plans of death killed thousands without sense.

We reached for hope, we shed our tears, we launched our troops with nerve,
And though we were attacked with hate, our justice soon was served,
Some lost their precious loved ones then, in fires set from hell,
Some gained their faith in Christ that day and now their stories tell.

So from this foolish, hateful mess, came courage, hope, and strength,
May God help us to Never Forget our life’s uncertain length.
Our country holds a special place from shore to nation’s shore,
We stand for Freedom, Faith, and Truth; we’re hated and adored.

When the towers fell, when the towers fell,
And the hope of every American heart lay crumbled on the ground,
They may have taken brick away, with glass and metal spans,
But we still have our Courage, Faith, our love, and praying hands.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Famous Heather

It was a tremendous day in ministry with many exciting things to do for the Lord. The day ended with a great "Think Tank" meeting by about 30 ministry leaders. One high spot today was a business/ministry lunch at the new Famous Dave's BBQ. This might rival Boston Market in my mind. (Boston changed their chicken preparation.)

Anyhow, I got to talk to a nice waitress named "Famous Heather" about the Lord and invite her to visit Lighthouse. I told her if she went to our website, she would be able to see her name along with the millions of others who could read it.

So, Famous Heather, we do hope you will visit our church and thanks for listening to what has changed our lives....only the Lord Jesus' love on the cross for us.

Pastor Witmer