15 April 2008

Issues, Etc. - from another District, another angle

This was passed on to me by another blogger. It pretty much speaks for itself. Can anyone verify this?
I am writing to you because I've noticed your concern in reporting on the Issues, etc. situation.

I thought it should be known that at the opening of the OK district pastors conference on Monday the 14th, the DP gave a rambling address, in which he said that Issues, etc. is the "New Yankee Stadium". He continued that he expects everyone to remain silent about the situation (other than "I liked the show") and not read what people on the internet have to say. His reason was that the internet contains much "false information" and he cited the 8th Commandment. Only one person was able to comment that the Synod has been silent and asked whether the COP would be discussing it. The DP said they would because of the three District resolutions.

I also thought it was interesting that in the same address he said the COP is trying to find a way to get rid of "unloving pastors" who spend their time writing about issues that "no one else cares about".

It seems suspicion should be aroused once the leaders start trying to control who can speak and what people can read. This is not the Roman Catholic Church, after all. Of course, I must say this anonymously, because I am censored by my Bishop, who would brand me as "unloving".

Please check with other sources that you know.

Brother Martin [evidently a pen name]
My comments:
  • I would not call "trying to control who can speak and what people can read" a "Roman Catholic" problem. Let's be gracious to our brothers and sisters in Rome, please.
  • I wonder: what qualifies as "unloving" regarding whatever pastors the speaker has in mind? Is it "unloving" to defend a brother pastor and his layman friend against an unjust and largely unexplained firing? What about defending Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz from the 8th Commandment issues that popped up when people were left only to guess - and many wrongly! - why they had been fired without reason given?
  • I also wonder: why compare the Issues, Etc. debacle to the Yankee Stadium affair of several years ago? Is this meant to imply that Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz did something that went against the synod's constitution? Or that they should be treated as innocent victims, as many thought of the Yankee Stadium matter? Or merely that here's yet another event that shows the division within and the schizophrenia of the LCMS?
  • I wonder, finally: what is meant by "writing about issues that 'no one cares about'"? I guess 7143 petition signers are "no one"? (What if we had a congregation of that size--would that be considered so insignificant? But I digress.) I suppose the many who merely read the blog posts here and elsewhere amount to "no one"? (BTW, I've noticed the numbers of visits to my blog go through the roof with this Issues, Etc. matter. I quickly had to build a new roof! :-)
My recommendation:
Let's just keep our focus on the simple issue of the injustice and keep asking the question "Why?" regarding the cancellation of Issues, Etc. Whatever other matters and information come to light, I pray that wiser folks than I, and folks in proper positions, will see fit to do "the right thing" and expose any sin, shame, and corruption for what it truly is, but also lead us toward genuine Christ-centered forgiveness, humility, reconciliation, and healing.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I didn't head down to the Spring conference so I can't say.

Of course, I do look at the internet and I have mentioned this to my church - so. . . well. There you have it.

wmc said...

Ominous rumblings indeed, my friend.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

If the radio program is considered too edgy, a bit unfair toward others, too critical, etc. -- and apparently it *is* so viewed -- then "unloving" in this context would mean any pastor who supports it.

I'd sure want this report verified.

Anonymous said...

If this is true, then it's a shame. It's exactly what I was afraid was signified by the cancelling of Issues, etc.

All I'd like is a good reason to come from Synod. It could put an end to all of this.

Randy Asburry said...

Anonymous said:
All I'd like is a good reason to come from Synod. It could put an end to all of this.

Just for the sake of discussion, what should/would we do, if, by chance the synodical leaders actually came out and said, "Well, Issues, Etc. just didn't fit with the direction we'd like to take the Synod?"

That may very well be the most honest answer, but a) what would we do if we got such honesty? and b) how would we respond?

I, for one, just might applaud such honesty. I wouldn't agree with the direction they want to take the synod, but I could at least say, "Good, let's just get such things out in the open."

Christopher D. Hall said...

A "Me Too" post--

I didn't go to the conference for several reasons, but I am wondering if this is true. Perhaps a call to my DP later this week is in order.

Until advised otherwise, I'm not censored.

Thanks for this post.

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Do these meetings have minutes?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Chris - would announcing your being censored to anyone who asks (if we actually are censored) count as violating the being censored? I'm not used to knowing how gag orders work.

Christopher D. Hall said...

For the sake of not incriminating myself before I actually know I'm incriminating myself, I am not answering this question.

Let us remember who our Master is.

Rev. James Leistico said...

the DP's comments also illustrate the difficulty I myself have faced with applying the 8th Commandment in dispute situations. How do you apply it fairly to both sides? It's near impossible. I have found myself favoring one party, and hating (loving less?) the other. Likewise, the DP in this instance. He implies that his pastors must remember the 8th Commandment in regards to the motives of Strand, etc. However, since the Internet contains much false information, we must assume bad motives for you, Randy, and all Internet posters - forgetting the 8th Commandment.

wmc said...

A note from history:

Luther was censured and eventually excommunicated not for teaching justification by grace through faith in Christ, but for saying that popes and councils can and have erred, citing specifically John Huss of recent memory.

In other words, you can pretty much teach whatever you want, just don't criticize the institution or say that it erred. That'll get you thrown out.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Mason said...

The problem with anonymity is that it allows our sinful minds to wonder who might have given this report. I was there and was the person who commented on the silence in Synod. I also had an opportunity to converse with our DP at length on the issue and it was done in a fine, brotherly manner over a couple scotches. I would not, however, have made the details public on the blogosphere. I always sign my posts and would hate for someone to suspect that I made this report. This is not because I am afraid of the consequences (I have made my position quite clear), but because it would damage any hope for continued dialogue.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


It actually never crossed my mind that it would be you (just doesn't sound like you at any rate). And I can see President Hartman saying a lot of those things without a hint of direness.

I'm guessing it was almost more of a "just let everything simmer down, this too shall pass" speech rather than "Them bloggers best run for the hills!" type of one.

Mollie said...

I asked Rev. Hartman myself about his comments and he said that he wanted to set the record straight. He did not feel that he had in any way conveyed that people were under a gag order. He said he cautioned them to speak within proper boundaries. And, finally, he said that he was disappointed that no one spoke to him personally about the matters.

I heard that he also spoke about the matter publicly at today's conference to further clarify the situation.

MZ Hemingway

Randy Asburry said...

Thanks, Mollie! That's helpful and good to know.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I didn't peg Dr. Hartman to be the sort to put up a blank gag order - silence or else. He's a really nice guy - just likes things calm. Be calm, let things sort out a bit before you get all flustered. A goodly bit of wisdom there in that.

Randy Asburry said...

Mason and Eric,

Thanks for your comments and for shedding more light on the situation and the report given! It's good to get more details and to see that there is good discussion happening on this matter.

Mason said...

I did not hear a gag order imposed in any form or fashion. It was apparent that the COP was not impressed with the response in the blogosphere, but President Hartman did not censor anyone. Rather, the issue was raised and provided for the opportunity for discussion.

Randy Asburry said...

Thanks again, Mason, for clarifying. I'm glad there was opportunity for discussion as well as no censoring or so called gag order.

Pastor Kory Boster said...

I too attended the OK district conference. Perhaps you would remove this whole thread as it is based on an unconfirmed report, and is hurtful and divisive. My take on the DP's comparison between IE and Yankee Stadium has to do with the heat rather than light generated by the blogosphere. there was no gag order imposed. Any sense of censorship had to do with brotherly admonition to take care in what we say or write; we were told we were free to write Synod to ask why, to show our support for IE, and to ask to have IE returned, but to do so within our confessional understanding of the 8th commandment, putting the best construction on things. too often we stir and divide rather than unite. One only needs to read the blogs to see how quickly these issues become ad hominem attacks. I do not know David Strand but the names and motivations assigned to him do not honor the 8th. He should receive the same respect todd or jeff or any of us would want. E.g. consider this thread for a moment. Brother Martin posts a comment on a blog which is forwarded to you, that has no confirmation, and flung into the digital world, available to be read by countless people, negatively coloring the character and motives of a christian brother most of the readers have never met. A vast majority of your responders weren't even there, yet they hear ominous rumblings and want minutes reported. Is this how we follow the 8th? was anything contructive accomplished? or did it only cause further doubts and suspicions? Martin's first response was apparently to contact MZH rather than to express concerns or clarify with the DP. As a circuit counselor I deal with congregations being torn apart by the same manner of email and blog campaigns. It saddens me that one of my district brothers would be so frustrated and cynical that he would feel this is the way to respond. I am new to this blog approach to solving problems and find it quite lacking. I encourage Martin to repent, to humble his heart, and to apologize to the DP. I have had my share of differences with him but found him always ready to resolve and forgive.

Randy Asburry said...

Pastor Boster,

Thank you for your thoughtful, wise words. You make some very good points. However, I’ll respectfully decline your gracious offer to remove this whole thread, and for some of the reasons that you state. Let me explain.

I did ask in the original post if anyone could confirm the report. Thankfully, some of you who were at the conference--you, Eric, and Mason, for example--have weighed in and clarified the situation. That’s good, right, and salutary. And it’s on the record of this blog.

You speak of “censorship” and “brotherly admonition.” Honestly, those are two different things, and I trust that they wouldn’t be confused for each other. I for one am glad to hear that your DP’s words came more by way of “brotherly admonition.”

You are correct to want to protect the reputation of your District President. I think that has happened very well in the comments on this thread. So, I wouldn’t want to delete the thread for that reason, as it now shows a good practice of defending our neighbor.

You mention “ad hominem attacks.” If you’ll reread my original post, you will not see an “ad hominem attack,” but rather comments on the substance of the forwarded quote. As for the comments, as I review them, I do not see any “ad hominem attacks” here either. In fact, quite the opposite—several have commented to defend Pres. Hartman. Thus, I think that he has received the same kind of respect that Todd and Jeff have.

You say that you are “new to this blog approach to solving problems and find it quite lacking.” I would clarify that blogs really don’t try to solve anything. Rather, they simply discuss things—that’s their limit.

I join you in encouraging “Martin” (whoever he is) to live in repentance in general, to repent for his sins, especially if he has despised his DP, and to seek forgiveness, both from our Lord Himself and from Pres. Hartman.

Hope this helps.