25 March 2008

Mission: Why?

For one week now, we've been mourning the cancellation of Issues, Etc., a radio program that effectively - more effectively than many other projects, programs, and "movements"! - carried out what the Church is all about: proclaiming the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen for us sinners to give us forgiveness, life, and salvation with God the Holy Trinity.

Many of us have written letters, emailed, and/or called the "powers that be" in response. We have registered our disappointment that Issues, Etc. has been unduly and unjustly canceled. We have asked for better reasons than "programmatic and business reasons." We have expressed our desire to hear Issues, Etc. brought back to the radio and Internet sound waves. Many of us have signed the online petition, which stands at 4232 signatures at last check. We have even heard and participated in talk of organizing a protest/demonstration/prayer vigil (with various reactions to both the idea and the nomenclature).

How shall we now proceed? Let me suggest a one word answer, a single syllable "mission statement," if you will. (After all, mission statements are all the rage these days, right?) This one word answer might just serve to focus our correspondence, our petition comments, and any possible protest/prayer vigil to come. Let's focus on and proceed with the one-word question of "Why?"

First, let's ask that question of ourselves: Why are we upset at the cancellation of a radio program? Why do we want to send letters, emails, etc.? Let's focus our answer on two reasons: 1) the unexplained cancellation of the show and the unwarranted firing of Pr. Todd Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz are just plain unjust, even sinful in how it was carried out, and 2) more importantly, this unjust action silences a powerful and effective voice of the Gospel in our midst and around the globe.

When we focus on reasons such as "my favorite radio program" or "how much it helped me/him/her," these are certainly good and fine reasons. Thank God for such reasons and for the people who have benefited from the service of Issues, Etc.! However, someone else can cite equally subjective reasons to defend and support the cancellation.

Let's also remember that in the "big scheme" of Christ's one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, Issues, Etc. is but a blip on the radar screen - a good blip, brightly shining on the radar screen, to be sure, but still just a small part of the eternal picture. The Church has survived for centuries long before Issues, Etc. first hit the airwaves, and Christ's holy flock will continue long after Issues, Etc. and we rest in the grave. (This is not at all to diminish all the good that Issues, Etc. has done - for that we thank God! - it's simply to keep some historical and truly forward-looking perspective.) The Gospel will continue to be proclaimed from pulpits of Christ's Church, the life of God will continue to be dispensed from His altars around the globe, and Christians who are changed by the life-giving, life-changing, life-sustaining Good News of Jesus Christ will continue to bear witness in their everyday lives.

And while we're at it, asking ourselves "Why?", we may want to ask: Why seek to bring Todd and Jeff back to the dysfunctional bureaucracy from which they've now been liberated? Why not look for some better, more supportive ways and means for them to continue proclaiming and teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? After all, as we still celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord, we do firmly believe that our God and Savior has a way of bringing life out of death and victory out of the jaws of defeat!

I firmly believe that our correspondence and protest will be strengthened by focusing on the "Why?" of the injustice and of the silencing/diminishing of the Gospel's voice.

Second, and most germaine to the ongoing discussion and future actions, let's ask the question "Why?" - our single-syllable mission statement - of the LCMS powers that be. Answering that question may be the one thing they fear the most.
  • Why, Mr. Strand, did you cancel this most "successful" program that actually carried out the mission of the Church, both across the nation and around the world?
  • Why, Pres. Kieschnick, when you evidently knew of this coming action, did you not try to stop it, for the good of the church body which you've been elected to oversee and for sake of its mission in and to the world?
  • Why were two faithful, Christian men fired from their service to their church body - and really the Church at large - with nary a reason given to them?
  • What possible reason can be given for silencing such an effective voice of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Was it actually preaching and teaching false doctrine, and we didn't realize it? If so, then we really need to know the what and the why, because our souls could be at stake.
  • Why were the archives of the program inexplicably removed from the Internet, as if to suggest that the program never existed, and then quickly restored in a different place, as if to admit that a mistake had been made, but with no clear elucidation?
I suggest that the mission statement of "Why?" be the heart and core, the purpose and focus, and even the extent, of any protest/prayer vigil to come. If I were in the shoes of either Pr. Wilken or Mr. Schwarz, I'm sure that I wouldn't want to return to a place of employment that made it so abundantly clear that I was less wanted than window dressing. But I would want to know "Why?"

12 comments:

cindy neff said...

AMEN,AMEN,AMEN,well stated Pr. Asbury---after all this KFUO we're talking about---Forward,Upward,& Onward---Let's move on---Cindy Neff Good Shepherd,Arnold

BringBackIssues said...

Wonderful post, Pastor Asbury. It's been a week, and the "why?" needs to continue being asked, to demand accountability for this decision.

In addition to asking "why?" I think we should also ask "how?" -- as in, how do we produce a program like Issues Etc. again, and soon? This one's actually pretty simple, if we leave KFUO out of the equation, and if anyone is interested, they can email me at bringbackissues@gmail.com.

Also, I posted some preliminary thoughts here, and I'd love feedback:

http://bringbackissues.blogspot.com/2008/03/re-imagining-issues-etc.html

orthodoxy hunter said...

Amen but... still sign the petition. We're joining our voices in a choir of "why?".

Susan said...

I would argue that the "why" is tied to the ideology driving their decisions. If Chris Rosebrough is right and I believe he is. Then we are dealing with a purpose-driven mentality that adheres to the business principles and business methods that originated with Peter Drucker. Drucker was a business guru who later in life turned his attention to helping non-profit organizations become more effective in bottom line results-oriented methods. Rick Warren claims Drucker was his mentor in his purpose-driven methodology. I first learned about Drucker when I was in college studying for my business degree with an emphasis in non-profit management. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that purpose-driven christianity has wed itself to the modern business methods of getting results that depend on man's efforts and do not depend on God's word and His Spirit to give results according to His will. In short, you lose the gospel and dependence on God to build His house and add to our numbers His way.

Another thing I would add is I believe that the people who adhere to the purpose-driven methods become a type of fanatic. Like jihadists, their actions are driven by their beliefs. Fanatics are deaf, dumb, and blind to the truth - they cannot see the "evil" in their beliefs, methods, and actions - its like their mind has been hijacked. When I dialogue with this type of person, there are times that I feel like I'm dealing with someone who has lost part of their minds - cult brainwashing seems like an appropriate comparison.

For anyone interested, Chris has a website that addresses this: http://crosebrough.typepad.com/lcms_purpose_driven_take_/2008/03/is-the-lcms-bei.html

Randy Asburry said...

bringbackissues,

First, I tried following the link you gave to your blog, but Blogger told me that your blog "was not found." You may want to check on that.

Second, on the question of "how" to produce Issues, Etc. again, let me just say that that question has been given serious thought even long before last week's cancellation. I have no doubt that those who have worked with Issues more intimately than most of us already have the gears of their minds churning on this one.

In addition to fervent and trusting prayer, I advise a good bit of patience. Let's allow the "divorce proceedings" between Issues, Etc. and the LCMS (after all, one party in this "marriage" has now proven itself unfaithful!) to work themselves out, and then we can see what happens on the front of "getting on with life."

Randy Asburry said...

Susan,

Exactly right. I also drew attention to Chris Rosebrough's thoughts yesterday, and I still want to drink in more of what he has to say.

Anonymous said...

another why to ask:
Why is it that on March 11, I was able to download a one-hour Issues, etc program in four MINUTES, but when I try to download the same exact program now on the same computer, my browser informs me that it will take two HOURS? The answer could be as simple as a bad day for the internet, so more tests should be done. Yet the answer could be that fewer bandwidth resources are devoted to the program. Have those who are upset about the removal of internet archives been thrown a bone to quiet them down, but that bone is attached to a string that keeps pulling the bone away? Why?

Rev. James Leistico
Petition signer, #521

Randy Asburry said...

James,

The restoration of the archives certainly seems like the proverbial bone, but I couldn't say about the "string that keeps pulling the bone away." It may very well be less resources devoted to the archives.

BringBackIssues said...

It could be some kind of bandwidth throttling, but I also suspect the site is getting hammered by people trying to download the programs before they disappear again.

Incidentally, Pastor Asburry, I'm not sure why the link's not working, but the direct link to the blog is here:

http://bringbackissues.blogspot.com/

I agree with what you say about patience. I just want to encourage people who might not have yet considered the idea of a KFUO-less program. It will be so easy to create such a program, and distribute it, that I hope the community can think about moving beyond radio, and embrace the current situation as an opportunity.

Randy Asburry said...

bringbackissues said: "I agree with what you say about patience. I just want to encourage people who might not have yet considered the idea of a KFUO-less program. It will be so easy to create such a program, and distribute it, that I hope the community can think about moving beyond radio, and embrace the current situation as an opportunity."

I couldn't agree more!

D.T. Nethery said...

I believer there are a lot of us non-Lutherans out here who enjoyed the thoughtful, historically informed theological discussion on Issues Etc. (I'm an Orthodox Christian) I tried to sign the petition last week, but I don't think it went through because I couldn't find my name listed, so I just added my signature to the petition.

There are a few "issues" which we Orthodox differ on with the Lutherans (but MUCH we agree on) , so I didn't always agree 100% with everything I heard on Issues Etc., yet even so I think it would be a loss to see this fine program silenced

Randy Asburry said...

d.t.,

Thanks for your support of Issues, Etc., and I'm glad that you've signed the petition (again, as it may be! ;-)

Thanks also for your words about "MUCH we agree on." That's my conclusion as well.