Not the type of service you expect from a District – MNS serves eviction papers to ULC.

May 21st, 2012 Post by

In the past few days there has been a sequence of bad news for University Lutheran Chapel (ULC).  First, their restraining order was vacated, allowing the Minnesota South (MNS) District to quickly move again on eviction.  More bad news came in also in that the Doran Company received their building variance from the city of Minneapolis.

It appears that efforts to slow down this sale and eviction have not worked.  There is an eviction hearing on June 1st for the congregation.

There are a few things that need to be noted here:

MNS refused an offer for more money (according to court documents filed by ULC), the noticeable difference in offers was that the higher one allowed for a chapel to be created and used by the congregation.  Instead the smaller offer from Doran was accepted.  That does not appear to speak well for anyone thinking this is about the money.

The cloak of secrecy behind “executive sessions” has left room for all sorts of questions which could have been answered with some level of openness in this process.  Instead, the District has chosen secrecy.

The property of ULC was purchased by people of the MNS and Minnesota North (MNN) Districts to serve students at the University of MN.  That property was put in the stewardship of the MNS District, who has now sold it (contrary to the wishes of all those who donated gifts to purchase the property decades ago).  This is not good stewardship at all.  They have gone against the trust of those who first donated for ULC to exist.

President Sietz of the MNS District is retiring this year.  It appears that the eviction and sale of ULC will be his legacy.

So much for the Witness, Mercy, and Life Together of Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) Lutherans in the twin cities.

I will not add anything more than the plain and simple Word of God:

Matthew 20:25-26a

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you.

 


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  1. helen
    May 22nd, 2012 at 21:25 | #1

    @mbw #44
    First they came for KFUO-FM …

    No, first they “came for” individual confessional Pastors who dared to talk up, on web sites and Lutheran blogs. You may not know them personally; I had met most of those who got together in ELDoNA. I remember one, who (while a fulltime pastor) had finished a hard earned PhD about 2001, saying that now he’d finally gotten it, it would be of no use to him. Not in LCMS, theologians not being admired then.

    When they “came for” Issues, Etc., people noticed, in and out of synod. That one was a tactical error and it failed. Wilken is not silenced, praise God!

    KFUO came later, the “replacement” shows what will happen in the place of ULC, IMO.

    The bleeding/marginalization of confessional Pastors is ongoing….

  2. helen
    May 22nd, 2012 at 21:45 | #2

    @Miguel #42
    They were offered MORE money, and STILL refused to sell it to one of their own?

    In both this and the Episcopal cases, Miguel, sound doctrine was the offense.

    Also, some men, upon being told they are wrong (and knowing it) will nevertheless push ahead to prove that they have the power to do so. It used to be called “German blockheadedness”; they may not be all German any more but…

  3. Wallenstein
    May 22nd, 2012 at 21:49 | #3

    How much more proof do you need that the LCMS is a sick organization.

    I have ensured that my monetary gifts remain in my local LCMS congregation. All of my money is designated for specific projects. District and Synod will never see a penny. Won’t you join me in starving the districts financially? Financial ruin is the only way to force the LCMS districts to restructure. Vote with your checkbooks now!

    Perhaps BJS could publish a list of those few confessional LCMS districts that actually do deserve our financial support.

  4. Randy Roerig
    May 22nd, 2012 at 22:22 | #4

    We had the honor and Spirit lead privilege to have attended the Divine Service this past
    weekend (May 20th) and all we both could say was how well fed we were by the Word and Sacrament. We have traveled around the country and always look for LCMS churches to attend, the service Sunday at ULC was a blessing to be thankful for. We were also thankful to see so many young college families (with children) and students of all
    walks of life. Where ever the true Word of God is spoken in truth and love the Holy
    Spirit is sure to be at work feeding the sheep. Our prayers are for both Pr Kind and
    the congregation as they struggle with very tough decisions in the very near future.
    We pray that the Lord guide their discussions and decisions, and by the power of the Holy Spirit deliver them to where they can remain faithful to His Word.

    Peace in Christ, Randy & Ginny

  5. mbw
    May 22nd, 2012 at 23:21 | #5

    helen :
    @mbw #44
    First they came for KFUO-FM …
    No, first they “came for” individual confessional Pastors who dared to talk up, on web sites and Lutheran blogs. You may not know them personally; I had met most of those who got together in ELDoNA. I remember one, who (while a fulltime pastor) had finished a hard earned PhD about 2001, saying that now he’d finally gotten it, it would be of no use to him. Not in LCMS, theologians not being admired then.
    When they “came for” Issues, Etc., people noticed, in and out of synod. That one was a tactical error and it failed. Wilken is not silenced, praise God!
    KFUO came later, the “replacement” shows what will happen in the place of ULC, IMO.
    The bleeding/marginalization of confessional Pastors is ongoing….

    Helen, yes, and I do know some confessional pastors who have been persecuted.

  6. Matt Mills
    May 23rd, 2012 at 01:39 | #6

    @Brad #27
    @LW #31
    Might the English District itself (non-geographical) accept a few hundred walk-outs from MNS?

  7. David Hartung
    May 23rd, 2012 at 06:27 | #7

    Pastor Matt Rusert :
    @hartung Where did you get that picture of the District Information dispensing machine for your profile picture?

    Grin!

    Since I have the habit of expressing my opinion to just about anyone, I thought it would be good to have something to remind myself that I am as capable of saying something stupid as the next guy.

    To be honest, I have forgotten where I found it. However, as a Wisconsin farm boy, I spent many an hour hauling one just like it (although not so clean) to the fields and dispensing “information”. :)

  8. Martin R. Noland
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:04 | #8

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Not all remedies have been exhausted.

    Don’t forget that there is a Minnesota South District Convention coming up. Here are the issues to come before the convention in this matter:

    The disposition of the ULC congregation and its pastor

    Delegates should not accept any argument from the chairmen that “you can’t talk about this because it is in legal process.” Although you may not be able to talk about the disposition of the property, buildings, and equipment, the delegates certainly may and must make some plans for the continuance of the campus ministry for the students of the University of Minnesota.

    Our district conventions are the places to resolve disagreements. That is the “Missouri Synod” way, by design. We are a free church of free people; and in the convention we are all equals. So speak up, speak the truth, and speak winsomely. Then let the delegates decide, accept what they have said through their votes, and let it rest there,

    The disposition of the current MNS Board of Directors

    If there is any member of the current MNS Board of Directors who asked that his/her negative vote be recorded with regard to the sale of the ULC property, that person should be re-elected. All the rest of the incumbents should not be re-elected for any one, or all, of these three reasons:

    Hidden antagonism to the theology and ecclesial practices of Lutheranism

    Some people have said on this blog that this goes back to long-standing antagonisms between members of this board and ULC when it was served by Pastor John Pless. If that is true, then those particular board members should not only be voted out of office, they should be asked to leave our church. I don’t know that this accusation is true, but it is possible, and I have seen similar situations in other places in the LCMS.

    There is no higher treachery in an organization than to accept one of the highest offices in that organization, and then turn around and try to destroy the persons and work of people who support the purposes of that organization, just because those persons support those purposes. Such behavior is anti-Christian, unethical, and pernicious. “Pernicious” is just the right word to describe the damage it does.

    I have known Pastor John Pless for many years. He is the “best of the best” when it comes to people committed to Lutheranism. He is in no sense a reactionary or “hard-headed confessionalist.” He was greatly influenced by Dr. Norman Nagel, whom he worked with at Valparaiso. He has had ecumenical-Lutheran connections, interests, and influence through his personal background in the ALC, connections at Luther Seminary-Saint Paul, and overseas. He is presently the co-chair of the International Loehe Society; and for those who don’t know, he is also Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Fort Wayne seminary. In all his dealings with people, he is always gracious, reasonable, and fair. And I think I can speak for him, when I say that he just wants to be a Lutheran.

    Pastor Pless is just exactly the type of person that the members of the “Jesus First” organization have targeted. Pastor Kind, as his successor, would be similarly targeted. “Jesus First” got its tentacles not only into the synodical organization, but also into most of the districts of the LCMS. “Jesus First” claimed to be all about mission and about looking forward, but in practice it was really about its members and leaders striving to attain high office and then turning around and trying to destroy the persons and work of people who support the purposes of the LCMS, just because those people support those purposes. “Jesus First” was, and is, anti-Lutheran, unethical, and pernicious.

    Refusal to communicate the financial condition of the MNS District to its members

    There are two reasons why MNS Board of Directors might have needed to liquidate the property of ULC.

    First, it simply may not have enough funds to support existing ministries established by the district convention. This is a very likely condition, due to the recession and how that has impacted all non-profits and for-profits. The answer to this problem is not to use the financial crunch to liquidate a financially lucrative site, like ULC, but to communicate the problem to the district convention and let the delegates decide priorities for reducing expenses.

    The second reason for liquidation is that MNS may need to have cash in the bank as collateral for loans. Does anyone know the total amount of indebtedness of the MNS district? What the terms of repayment are? Is there adequate collateral without the ULC property? Were loans made with the ULC property as collateral?

    This needs to be communicated to the district convention; it is not private information for the board to deal with. If there are outstanding loans, the district convention also needs to know why those loans were obtained and how they were actually used. Failure to communicate the financial condition of the district to delegates is a good reason for voting board members out of office. Anyone who has stock or is on a board of a not-for-profit knows that!

    Incompetence in dealing with the Church

    The church is people glued together by the love of Christ. When there is no love, or actions that militate against love, the glue starts falling off and the church starts falling apart. That is why Luther talks about the “law of love” as the supreme principle governing how you do things in the church.

    Even though members of Board of Directors are charged with managing the “business affairs” of the district, i.e, the money, property, buildings, equipment, other assets, insurance, and related legal issues, they cannot manage those things in ways that militate against the law of love. A district is not just “money and stuff,” it is primarily people glued together by the love of Christ.

    Let us say that this Board of Directors was genuinely–and only–concerned for promoting greater campus ministry in the Minnesota South District. If that is the case (and I think it might be true for some of them or some of the district staff), then you don’t “kill” one congregation to feed the others. That’s cannibalism.

    You can “cannabalize” assets and properties, but you should never do that to people or congregations. If you think that is helpful, useful, or even possible, you are simply incompetent to serve in any church office.

    Much better than the plan they enacted would have been a proposal to ask University Lutheran Chapel and its alumni to take the lead in raising support for campus ministries throughout the district. That would have been a “win-win” for everybody. It might have taken a bit longer to accomplish, but doing the right thing often takes time.

    The result has been a “lose-lose” for everybody.

    MNS delegates, do your job!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  9. Noreen
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:50 | #9

    @Martin R. Noland #58
    We have to pray they do not close the sale before the Convention. With the approval of the variances, the way is pretty clear and becomes a possibility.

  10. Dana Kind
    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:05 | #10
  11. George Naylor
    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:26 | #11

    “In every Church, in every institution, there is something which sooner or later works against the very purpose for which it came into existence.” C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

  12. Pr. Don Kirchner
    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:35 | #12

    Martin R. Noland :Dear BJS Bloggers,
    Not all remedies have been exhausted.
    Don’t forget that there is a Minnesota South District Convention coming up. Here are the issues to come before the convention in this matter:
    The disposition of the ULC congregation and its pastor
    Delegates should not accept any argument from the chairmen that “you can’t talk about this because it is in legal process.” Although you may not be able to talk about the disposition of the property, buildings, and equipment…

    MNS delegates, do your job!

    Well, that’s what this thread is about, the disposition of the property, buildings, and equipment. So, I’m not sure what your point is, Dr. Noland.

    Indeed, the BOD should be held accountable for their actions, and delegates should vote accordingly. That can be done without the need for floor discussion about the disposition of the property, buildings, and equipment.

  13. mbw
    May 23rd, 2012 at 15:18 | #13

    Noreen :
    @Martin R. Noland #58
    We have to pray they do not close the sale before the Convention. With the approval of the variances, the way is pretty clear and becomes a possibility.

    Delay is the name of the game now. But be careful. Opponents of the KFUO-FM sale killed a clause in that deal that would have continued it at very low cost on FM HD (digital). Something’s better than nothing. I don’t know how this lesson would map to the current situation. Maybe in terms of preserving options for a new chapel or at least meeting space that is nearby and not out in the sticks?

  14. May 24th, 2012 at 09:08 | #14

    What are the “Marks of the Church”. The entity referenced here Is Not The Lords Church. So the Evil tag sticks to their barn door. It will not be removed. Label the entitie’s actions evil, label the entitie’s behaviors. But do not call this entity the church. That is your problem Pastors, do Not call this entity the Church, it is not! This entity is a legal body of the world and must be treated as such. Again this is no Church. The root of many if not all of the LCMS is do not treat the non worship creations of man as a Church, they are not and should not be given the rights of a Church! Do not do it!

    As a legal intity of LC-MS, Inc. if they break the civil law: by all means go get ‘em! Do not give me this trash talk about the Church, it does not apply to LC-MS, Inc.

    http://lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1824&erid=1333899&trid=1ea7fa17-02d2-404a-b22b-b710ee6c6399

  15. May 24th, 2012 at 10:30 | #15

    On the advise of a friend I will modify what I am saying slightly by applying Luther’s brilliant temporal/eternal kingdom distinction, which, by the way, is the true “two kingdoms theology” and NOT the distinction or separation of church and state, which is a distinction of ordos in the temporal kingdom. IXOYC

  16. Dutch
    May 24th, 2012 at 11:39 | #16

    Ya fight the good fight with all your might & for all your worth. Until Synods, are willing & refuse to abstain from things like this, it will continue to be Districts, that are Synod, to those in their stead. Not care, stead. This didn’t start with Issues, Etc., & it didn’t start with KFUO, it started with individual members, in individual Congregations.
    Try to find & count those.
    If Synods, either one, are exempt or abstain from decision, public decision above the District, then what is it, they all actually function for?

  17. May 24th, 2012 at 13:21 | #17

    My friend was also quick to point out this truth:

    “What I’ve written is entirely consistent with Walther’s Kirche u. Amt. His first thesis on the church says that the church in the proper sense, according to its essence, is invisible, hidden, and consists entirely of faith alone in Christ alone. Even the Word and Sacraments are not of the essence of the Church but are marks of that essence. Even more so, church organizations – congregations, synods, etc – are manmade structures intended to support the proclamation of the Gospel and the Sacraments, but are not really of the Church’s essence.

    Prof. Bill Schmelder used to make a distinction between the church’s essence (esse) and its well-being (bene esse). Temporal organizations are not of the church’s esse but are supposed to be for its bene esse.”

  18. May 24th, 2012 at 13:28 | #18

    “The church, properly speaking, is the eternal kingdom of God which consists of all believers in Christ united to Him and to one another by faith alone. We call the temporal kingdom organizations “churches” because the serve the cause and purpose of the eternal kingdom, that is, Law in service of the Gospel. Similarly, we call the buildings “churches” even though the building is not properly the Church but the activity that goes on inside the building.

    The pastors (and laity) are confusing church as temporal kingdom from Church as eternal kingdom. This business of eviction, landlord/tenant, property, etc is all temporal kingdom, left-hand Law. It should be in service of the Gospel, but it isn’t always and there are no necessary guarantees that it will be.”

    More information from my friend.

  19. Rev. Paul L. Beisel
    May 24th, 2012 at 14:41 | #19

    @Mark Huntemann,

    I disagree with you that there is no churchly character to the Synod. In the New Testament the term “church” can refer to a wider fellowship or association that Christians have in a larger geographical area as a nation or a province. “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up.” (Acts 9:31). (From Thesis on Church and Ministry, unpublished document presented to the Faculty of CTS, 1977, David P. Scaer).

    As a fellowship of congregations, the Synod is Church in a New Testament sense. We shouldn’t equate it with the Una Sancta, but it does have a churchly character to it.

    The mere fact that we are incorporated as a legal entity does not preclude it from being seen in the New Testament sense as a Church (or a fellowship of congregations), its self-definition notwithstanding.

  20. May 24th, 2012 at 15:11 | #20

    While I respect your position, that in no way diminishes the truth we posited above. In fact if you take the entire contex of the verse you quoted one can clearly see that the “church” is defined by what I said. I also seem to remember that the Greek says Congregation. Is that not correct or have I remembered incorrectly? Blessings Pastor Beisel.
    @Rev. Paul L. Beisel #69

  21. May 24th, 2012 at 15:16 | #21

    “The mere fact that we are incorporated as a legal entity does not preclude it from being seen in the New Testament sense as a Church (or a fellowship of congregations), its self-definition notwithstanding.”

    It would seem by the raging fire that the entity described above no longer is answerable to any Congregation?

  22. Rev. Paul L. Beisel
    May 24th, 2012 at 15:21 | #22

    What we are seeing, I think, is a result of not looking at the Synod as Church. In other words, by viewing district presidents merely as political functionaries rather than supervisors of doctrine and practice, and district offices merely as beaurocratic entities, this allows them to do things that are, by their very nature, unchurchly.

  23. May 24th, 2012 at 16:22 | #23

    Prof. Bill Schmelder used to make a distinction between the church’s essence (esse) and its well-being (bene esse). Temporal organizations are not of the church’s esse but are supposed to be for its bene esse.”

    Pastor it seems all of us agree.

    IXOYC

  24. May 24th, 2012 at 16:25 | #24

    “property, etc is all temporal kingdom, left-hand Law. It should be in service of the Gospel, but it isn’t always and there are no necessary guarantees that it will be.”

  25. Elizabeth Peters
    May 24th, 2012 at 17:26 | #25

    @Rev. Paul L. Beisel #72

    With all respect, this is simply not the case. The history of the Roman Catholic Church attests to the fact that clerics with “divine” calls to supervise pastors’ doctrine are more likely to wield the civil sword than not. Besides that, the BOD is the problem here, not the DP.

  26. Noreen
    May 24th, 2012 at 18:53 | #26

    The problem: The D. P. AND the Board. Lane Seitz is one of the worst of the worst D.P.s from a confessional point of view and has been a bane for many years.

  27. Carl Vehse
    May 24th, 2012 at 19:06 | #27

    #72: “What we are seeing, I think, is a result of not looking at the Synod as Church.”

    Viewing district presidents as supervisors of doctrine and practice rather than the corporate executives they are within the structure of a large corporate Synod does not a Church make.

    LMMV (Loeheist mileage may vary).

  28. Lumpenkönig
    May 24th, 2012 at 19:35 | #28

    Matt Mills :
    @Brad #27
    @LW #31
    Might the English District itself (non-geographical) accept a few hundred walk-outs from MNS?

    I would be very happy to see all campus ministries leave their districts and unite to form their own non-geographical district. Higher Things would be the official ministry of this district. The district and corresponding ministries would receive funding directly from the Office of National Mission. One of the bylaws of the new district would have a provision that grants ownership of the property to each campus ministry congregation.

  29. David Hartung
    May 25th, 2012 at 07:53 | #29

    Noreen :
    The problem: The D. P. AND the Board. Lane Seitz is one of the worst of the worst D.P.s from a confessional point of view and has been a bane for many years.

    Very true, but from what I understand, this board and this DP have been around for a while, which tells me that they represent the position of the 250 or so congregations which make up the district. IN any system with elected leaders, the leaders reflect those who put them in office. The proper place to direct your displeasure would be the congregations of southern Minnesota, not just their leadership.

    In a veer off subject, the change in the manner in which we elect our Synod president is very likely to reflect this very thing. It seems that our Synod President and our Council of (District) Presidents are on different pages, with Harrison appearing to be somewhat more conservative than the COP. With the next Synod President elections, this may well change.

  30. Rev. Matthew Johnson
    May 25th, 2012 at 09:08 | #30

    @David Hartung #79
    The Board is almost entirely the creation of the 2009 District convention. They were elected as replacements for the Board that had been elected in 2006. President Seitz used his position to facilitate this ouster both in what he said and didn’t say leading up to the 2009 convention, and by what he allowed and didn’t allow at the convention itself. They have not been around for a while, but through skillful political and emotional manipulation were landslided in to their positions.

    David, could you point us more directly to the differences between the COP and President Harrison that are available as public record? Could you give more basis for your analysis of the coming Synodical presidential elections…why do you think it will turn out as you say?

  31. David Hartung
    May 26th, 2012 at 09:53 | #31

    Rev. Matthew Johnson :
    @David Hartung #79
    David, could you point us more directly to the differences between the COP and President Harrison that are available as public record? Could you give more basis for your analysis of the coming Synodical presidential elections…why do you think it will turn out as you say?

    I am not sure I can point to specifics, from where I sit is is more of an impression, and that impression may not be based upon anything more than what I see and hear locally.

    Historically the Synod president was elected by the convention, and how the convention would vote was Dependant upon who individual circuits would chose as their representative. Using our circuit as an example. The ordained delegate who represented our circuit at the 2007 convention was, and is firmly in that group you would describe as “confessional”. The same circuit chose a more moderate man who openly supported President Kiesnick, as our ordained delegate to the 2010 convention. Both are good men, but they hold different positions.

    I think what I am trying to say is that delegates are often chosen based upon who is willing to serve, rather than who best represents the circuit. The new manner of electing the Synod President is to have the delegates to the district conventions elect the Synod president. I believe that it is far more likely that the congregational delegates to the District conventions actually represent the position of the congregations, and I see a real possibility that this will affect the makeup of the Presidium.

    I personally like Harrison, and would not mind seeing him serve another term, but I do know that there is at least one effort to unseat him in the next election. I am curios to see how this is going to shake out, just as I am curios to see how the Minnesota South convention is going to turn out.

  32. George H.
    May 26th, 2012 at 23:46 | #32

    @Lumpen, #78

    “I would be very happy to see all campus ministries leave their districts and unite to form their own non-geographical district.”
    —-

    Hey, if it were feasible in practical and financial terms, I’d also be very happy to see many congregations leave their current districts, based as they currently are simply on common geographical grounds (English District excepting), and form new districts based on common theological grounds in terms of teaching and practice. Yes, I know, when Synodocats fly. But still…

  33. Stan Slonkosky
    May 27th, 2012 at 02:04 | #33

    @Former Anglican #21

    This seems like a rather petty rule requiring you to use batteries only. Whenever I go to technical conferences or seminars (e.g., Microsoft events), they usually bring out a bunch of outlet strips so people can plug in their laptops. iPads will work for up to 10 hours on a charge. You can easily buy battery packs with a USB connector on them that will connect to iPads or iPhones or similar devices via a cable. There are a number of programs that can be used to make recordings on an iPad. I had been using Soundnote on my iPad to record some technical lectures, but that program kept crashing so I switched to Pear Note, which seems more stable. (I already bought the companion program for OSX before the iPad existed, though it is not necessary to have this program.)

  34. mbw
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