04 April 2008

Protest? Demonstration? Or...

Pr. Weedon is correct to question the use of words like "protest" or "demonstration" when preparing for the April 14 event to show support for the recently canceled Issues, Etc. These words usually carry the baggage of violence by those who have little better to do or by those who merely seek their 15 seconds of fame on the evening news. These terms can even draw more attention to the protesters themselves than to the cause they are trying to promote. So, let's be aware (and beware) of such unwanted and unintended baggage.

Pr. Weedon then suggests the salutary term "vigil." Very good! Allow me to suggest yet another term: "peaceful witness."

Before I explain, I must concede that Pr. Wilken himself had a good take on the wording. As we discussed the terms, "demonstration" would be the least preferable term as it wants to draw attention to the demonstrators themselves. "Protest," though, mighty very well be used in a more salutary fashion as it can focus attention on the issue - in our case, the matter of the unjust and largely unexplained (or at least mysteriously explained) cancellation of Issues, Etc. Or to say it more succinctly, the cause of our "protest" is the simple question "Why?"

Be that as it may, I'll still advocate the term "peaceful witness." I borrow and modify the term from the annual "peaceful pro-life witness" called Life Chain. As a frequent participant in these rallies from year to year, I appreciate the focus on bearing silent witness as one holds placards with various slogans on them (such as "Abortion Kills" or "Jesus Forgives"). On the backs of these placards are prayers, Scripture verses, and hymn verses for the "peaceful witnesses" to say and pray as they stand along the street.

The response to such a "peaceful witness" is twofold. On the one hand, one hears honks of support and encouragement. On the other hand, one hears jabs and insults, as well as sees certain one-fingered salutes. That's to be expected with an issue as highly charged and Abortion in our land. But "peaceful witness" means that participants don't elate over manifested support, nor do they get upset at the hostilities thrown their way.

What would a "peaceful witness" mean for the Issues, Etc. crowd? I doubt that the average passersby in St. Louis would know much of this matter, unless they know of and come specifically for this event. (So, I won't be expecting many honks of support or any "F-bomb" salutes.) However, for those who will participate, a "peaceful witness" reminds us that we are testifying - the "witness" part - to the faith handed down to the saints through the ages, the very Gospel and faith to which Issues, Etc. consistently bore witness. The "peaceful" part reminds us that we are Christians first and foremost - not demonstrating to get our mugs on TV, and not protesting just to cause a scene. Far from it! We will gather to show support for Issues, Etc., for Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz.

In keeping with Pr. Weedon's term of "vigil," then, let's gather for a "peaceful witness" to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's gather for the purpose of asking "Why?" regarding the silencing of the Gospel on radio airwaves and Internet sound systems operated by the LCMS. And, most of all, let's pray - pray that God would keep all of us (Issues, Etc. supporters, LCMS "suits," and others interested in this event) in repentant, joyous faith in His forgiveness and lovingkindness.

And, if there are placards to be held, I'll humbly lobby for the use of my homespun "Why? No Issues, Etc." logo that I keep plastering on this blog! :-) (Though I won't be disappointed if that doesn't transpire and something better comes along.) Who knows, maybe some thoughtful organizer can even print pertinent Bible verses, Catechism sections, and hymn verses on the backs of the placards so that we can devote our time to prayer and the Word of God as we stand to ask "Why?")

Christians need not "demonstrate" or "protest" in the usual senses of those terms, but we certainly can provide "peaceful witness" as we seek the truth and pray for God's will to be done in our synod and the Church at large!


Charles Henrickson said...

"Protest" or "demonstration," either one of these terms can be rightly or wrongly understood. "Protest" can be seen as "negative," although there really is nothing wrong with protesting bad stuff. "Demonstration" can be seen as neutral, either positive or negative, "showing" (a Latin scholar should know that) either support for something or opposition against. It need not focus on the demonstrators themselves, but rather on the cause they are demonstrating support for.

"Vigil," well, to me that implies staying around a long time until something arrives, and a two-hour thingie is not that.

"Peaceful witness," that's OK too. Really, any of these terms is OK. The question is what kind of an event this will be, the way it is conducted.

No one is advocating throwing rocks through Jerry Kieschnick's window.

Randy Asburry said...


What you say is all well and good. Yes, this student of Latin does indeed know that the Latin demonstro, -are simply means "show." Yes, this son of Reformation does know the roots of the term "Protest-ant." (Sorry, no "should" about it.)

And yet this writer also knows the current cultural climate in which we live, how such terms do not always carry with them their etymological and/or historical weight, and how such terms would most likely be viewed by those who read reports or watch possible TV news coverage. This member of the LCMS also knows how such things (the words and the plans) can be distorted and twisted by those in positions of power and authority at 1333.

And hence the salutary caution. You and I may know the true meanings of words, but I for one won't assume that others--whether passersby, media, or "suits" in the purple palace--know them...or respect them.

And, no, of course, no one is advocating throwing rocks through G.K.'s window (although it is a pretty good sized glass house! ;-). I just would not rule out the figurative rock of some kind coming from the other direction.

Chalk it up to trying to be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves, my friend.

Kevin in Indiana said...

The "peaceful" part reminds us that we are Christians first and foremost - not demonstrating to get our mugs on TV, and not protesting just to cause a scene. Far from it! We will gather to show support for Issues, Etc., for Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz.

Well said! I wish we lived closer so that we might join you :<(

I assure you though that the efforts will be in our prayers,
Kevin in Indiana

Charles Henrickson said...

And hence the salutary caution.

And I agree, Randy. I used the term "demonstration" over "protest" because I thought it sounds the most neutral and less negative. But I'm fine with "witness," "vigil," "rally," or whatever term is used.

More important to me is how the "event" is conducted and carried out. Some are advocating a silent standing, to portray the silencing of Issues. That would be OK, as long as signs are used. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of people standing around with no message being conveyed.

I myself don't think we need to be totally silent, nor do we need to be overly somber. But SIGNS--tastefully worded, of course--SIGNS I think are necessary to get a visual message across to those who see the gathering, through purple windows or from passing cars.

katrinas57@yahoo.com said...

And I think the men should wear t-shirts that say, "Old white men support Issues ETC."


Randy Asburry said...




Whom are you calling "old"? ;-)