28 January 2014

The Most Thankless Job in the ELCA

"I was stunned to see the cartoon (December, page 45) of Mary and Joseph at the inn with a note on the door reading 'Closed forXmas.'  I would never have expected a Christian publication to "X" out Christ in Christmas.  Shame on you."  Kathleen Mayberry, Austin, TX.
This is the sort of thing you put up with when you're the editor of a denominational magazine.  If ever I feel like I'm suffering from a surplus of euphoria, I know that all I have to do is take a minute and read the latest "Letters to the Editor" column of The Lutheran, the denominational magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  I can guarantee you that Spiro Agnew had it wrong:  it isn't the press who are nattering nabobs of negativism, it is the membership of my own denomination, who month after month pick through the latest edition of our magazine looking for proof that we are "a denomination...riddled with revisionist theology and cheap grace." (The Rev. Nathan D. Hooks, Burlington, N.C., complaining because the relief crucifix within the letter 't' in the magazine's logo was replaced in a recent masthead & logo redesign.  Seriously.)

Daniel J. Lehmann has, without a doubt, the most thankless job in the ELCA.  Month after month Lehmann and his staff turn out a magazine with thoughtful articles, honest reporting on issues facing our church, snapshots of our work around the country and the world, and much more.  And month after month people find offense and write letters to the editor with all the emotional maturity of a sin-scalded fifth-grader.

I can't remember the last time I've read the Letters to the Editor when someone didn't write, "Shame on you."  Shame on you?  No, people of the ELCA:  shame on you.  It's one thing to disagree or to think there is a problem with something in a magazine.  It is quite another to impugn the character of these fellow members of the body of Christ.  Lehmann and his staff have graciously printed your miserable missives of disdain and discord for far too long.  You can do this better.  You can express your disappointment without sounding like the worst sort of disapproving, emotionally abusive parent.  I treat my dog better than you treat the editor and staff of your magazine, folks.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Lehmann, I LOVE the new look.  Now, the website:  let's get to work on that, shall we?  I know you all can do it better.  (See how that works, people?  It's not that hard)

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