Lutheran Bird Flu

Bird flu is a dangerous thing.

According to Yahoo News, “China’s premier on Sunday (April 28, 2013) urged authorities to be vigilant against a new strain of bird flu that has killed 23 people, while saying that efforts to tackle the virus have so far been effective.”

According to the CDC web site: “Usually, “avian influenza virus” refers to influenza A viruses found chiefly in birds, but infections with these viruses can occur in humans. The risk from avian influenza is generally low to most people, because the viruses do not usually infect humans. However, confirmed cases of human infection from several subtypes of avian influenza infection have been reported since 1997. Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chicken, ducks, and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretion/excretions from infected birds.”

And according to Fox News on April 24, “A new bird flu strain that has sickened more than 100 and killed 22 in China is  “one of the most lethal” of its kind, and has now spread to another country,  according to the World Health Organization (WHO).”
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A dangerous flu has been infecting Lutheran churches for over 30 years. Here’s what happens. Retired Lutherans from the northern part of the country, where Lutheranism is quite prevalent, like to spend the winter months in warmer climates. So starting in October they load up and head south to Florida, Texas or Arizona. We refer to these migrants as “snowbirds” since they are heading south to get out of the snow.

Most of these snowbirds are regular churchgoers so when they get settled in down south they go out looking for a church to attend. They soon find out that there aren’t nearly as many Lutherans down south as there are up north. Instead of traveling 100 miles or more just to go to a Lutheran church they settle on going to a church nearer to where they are staying.

The few Lutheran churches that are in the south are desperate for members so will end up embracing a lot of the non-Lutheran practices of their neighboring churches just to attract members. So even though they have the name Lutheran, very often they don’t have much of a Lutheran identity.

Then when the weather starts warming up the snowbirds head back north, bringing with them the non-Lutheran ideas that they picked up down south. They think the folks up north should welcome all the helpful things they discovered in their church in the south and start using them in their church up north. When their church up north does not happily adopt whatever new things they brought up from the south conflict ensues, hence the name, “Lutheran Bird Flu.”

So far no deaths have been reported from Lutheran Bird Flu but it has caused lots of hard feelings and conflicts in congregations.

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