Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Letter to LC-MS Board for Communication Services

I sent the following letter to David Berger today to take with him to the Board for Communication Services meeting tomorrow and Friday, as suggested here. I almost immediately received a nice email note back from him assuring me that he would personally submit my letter and others he had received.


April 16, 2008

To the members of the Board for Communication Services:

From the LC-MS Ablaze! Website, we find the following:

Christ’s Great Commission:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The focus of the 50 Days Ablaze! Mission Outreach Journey is spiritual growth and increased missions and outreach. The emphasis is on Christ’s grace and redeeming love for us. The mission response is seven-fold:
Learn, Pray, Give, Tell, Send, Go, Celebrate

When I look at what Christ said in that Bible verse, I see several action verbs, only one of which, “go”, is present in the seven-fold mission response. The action verbs that I see are: Go, Make, Baptize, Teach

Our church has been struggling financially, just as the Synod as a whole is struggling financially. But we are trying to continue the Great Commission in spite of financial difficulties.

We operate a grade school. The fees we charge to the families who send their children there are less than half of the actual cost. It has been suggested that we close the school because of the expense of operating it; however, the school is the best outreach tool we have. Every year, we baptize, catechize and confirm several adults and children as a direct result of the school. Rarely does this happen from any other form our outreach efforts have taken.

Therefore, we have cut expenses to the bone. We are operating as lean as we can. We have anticipated having to close our doors for several years now. We have nearly depleted special funds. We agreed over a year ago that we would draw them down to nothing before we would close the school, and then we trusted that God would provide what we needed as long as we were doing His will.

In the year since we decided that we would draw on the special funds until they no longer existed, we have not had to borrow from them. We are still struggling, but just when it looks like we’ll have to borrow from the funds again, the money comes in from somewhere.

In short, we are prepared to do whatever it takes and suffer whatever the consequences in order to continue reaching out, making disciples, baptizing and teaching.

It is understood that the Synod as a whole is struggling with financial issues as well; however, it seems wrong to me to cut costs by recalling missionaries, canceling Issues, Etc., and what I am afraid may be next, selling the broadcast license of the oldest Christian radio station in the U.S. These are wonderful forms of outreach. They should not be viewed in terms of “profitability”, and every effort should be made to continue them.

Listeners may not have been supporting KFUO-AM and Issues, Etc. to the level necessary, but I believe we are willing to do so. The problem is that no feedback has ever been provided. I’ve sent money from time to time, and I’ve heard the frequent appeals for financial support, but I’ve never heard any information on whether the support has been sufficient or not. If the program was canceled for financial reasons, why did this occur at the start of a new fund-raising appeal? Why were listeners not warned? Could we not have been given a fund-raising goal, a date by which the goal must be reached and regular feedback on how much had been raised?

We know that the Gospel is an offense to the unbeliever. There is no way to sugarcoat it through marketing methods. If you want to market the church to the culture, you have to change the message, and if you get people into the church by avoiding the Gospel, you cannot then deliver the true Gospel message. That is perpetrating the fraud of Bait and Switch, and those thus fooled will leave; however, if you continue to provide Gospel Lite to keep them, you may have warmed the pews but you will not have made a single disciple.

If you truly care for souls, the only way is to continue to preach the Gospel in all its truth and purity, and those who have ears, let them hear.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why?

About 80 people, including 8 children, gathered on this cool, blustery April day to simply ask the LC-MS why Issues, Etc. was canceled. We all know the official reasons, but they only create more questions than they answer.

Anyway, for those who could not be there, here are some pictures.

The crowd in front of the Purple Palace.


Mollie Ziegler Hemingway.

Pastor Will Weedon.

Pastor Randy Asburry.


I'm sure there will be many more and better pictures than this. There was a reporter there from the Post Dispatch, so perhaps we will see a story and some pictures from them as well.

Friday, March 28, 2008

WSJ Weighs in on Issues, Etc. Debacle

So many things have been going on regarding the Issues, Etc. debacle that I can't keep up. Now there is an article in the Wall Street Journal regarding this story. It is very well-written and sums up the larger issue of what is going on in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Cancellation of Issues, Etc. is just a symptom of that larger problem, which can be summed up in President Kieschnick's own oft-stated maxim, this is no longer my grandfather's synod, but I'm one of those who wants my grandfather's synod back! Here is a quote from the article.
Usually radio hosts have to offend sacred moral sensibilities to be thrown off the air. Opie and Anthony were fired after they encouraged a couple to have sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral. Don Imus lost his job after using racist and sexist epithets against the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

What would Martin Luther do?

But when the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod canceled its popular, nationally syndicated radio program "Issues, Etc.," listeners were baffled. Billed as "talk radio for the thinking Christian," the show was known for its lively discussions analyzing cultural influences on the American church. It seemed like precisely the thing that the Missouri Synod, a 2.4-million-member denomination whose system of belief is firmly grounded in Scripture and an intellectually rigorous theology, would enthusiastically support.


The full article can be read here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hiatus ended

It has been nearly a year since I wrote on anything in this blog. I've been busy with other things. More on that later.

Right now, there is one thing in the forefront of my mind. That is the sudden and still unexplained cancellation of Issues, Etc., one of the very few Christ-centered, Cross-focused Christian talk radio shows on the air anywhere in the U.S.--and the sudden and still unexplained firing of host, Pastor Todd Wilken and producer, Jeff Schwarz.

Although there are plenty of us who are very unhappy about this situation, the powers-that-be in the LC-MS simply refuse to give a cogent explanation or reconsider their decision. KFUO radio says "The decision was made..." and it was for "programmatic and business reasons". President Kieschnick said, "The KFUO decision transpired with my awareness but neither by my order nor at my direction."

So who finally made the decision? Won't the real decision-maker stand up and explain him or herself? No one wants to take the credit/blame. No one wants to explain why the one program that brought in the most money to listener-supported KFUO was canceled for business reasons. No one wants to explain how one of the best outreach tools the Synod has was canceled for programmatic reasons.

And if this decision transpired with Dr. Kieschnick's awareness, would he care to let us know of his opinion on the decision? I mean, it was not at his order or direction, but does that mean he doesn't concur with it? Or does he concur, but just doesn't want to take any of the heat. Sir, you are the President of the LC-MS. It seems that you could and should be a great deal more forthcoming on this issue.

I wrote to David Strand, Executive Director of Communications for the Synod. I expressed to him how upset I was over this situation, asked for an explanation and asked for the show to be brought back. I did receive a response. Basically, he said he was sorry I was upset. That's it.

Well, the decision has been made to remove the KFUO donations line in my household budget. I was aware of this decision, but it was not made at my order or direction. It just sorta happened.

I'm not sure that those involved in this travesty were aware of the outcry this action would provoke, but one thing I am absolutely sure of was that they were fully aware that what they were doing was wrong and very un-Christian. Otherwise, those who made the decision would be willing to identify themselves and give a cogent rational reason, not mealy-mouthed, wholly unsatisfactory proclamations.

For more information, to sign the petition or to donate to the fund for Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, see the right sidebar.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Beachball

The folks over at Worth1000 disqualified this picture because it didn't fit the theme. The theme was to take an "item" that was not normally spherical and make it so. I interpreted "item" rather broadly, I guess, because they took issue with the idea of a beach being an "item". I could argue semantics with them, but it would do no good and just irritate them. I can, however, post a link to it on my blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Virtual Reality???

My husband called me in. "There's something I want you to watch on TV." I watched. It was some story about virtual reality Christianity. Apparently, there is some church that is broadcasting its services over the Internet, but not as video. Instead, it looks like a 3D video game. When you join the service, you can apparently create an image in the "congregation" that suits you. The service is exactly the way it occurs, the sermon is exactly as delivered, but there are no real images, only these 3D images. They showed one "attendee" who arrived as a cheetah wearing shorts.

The sermon itself, what they showed of it, never mentions Christ. There are musicians on the main stage that perform "praise" music.

"What do you think?", he asks. Where do I begin?

This is a typical example of the cultural religion. This is not Christianity! This is entertainment. What on earth does anyone get out of this? What does the cheetah in shorts get out of it?

OK, maybe you bring them in, these people raised in this technological age, but then you've got to define the problem (our sinful nature) and the solution to the problem (Christ and Him crucified). Otherwise, what's the point. It's just another virtual reality game.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Faith-based Decision?

I just read a recent editorial in the Chicago Tribune, Our Faith-based Justices, regarding the recent Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on so-called partial birth abortion, actually termed intact dilatation and extraction (IDX).
Here is a painfully awkward observation: All five justices in the majority in Gonzales are Roman Catholic. The four justices who are not all followed clear and settled precedent. It is distressing to have to point this out. But it is a fact that merits attention. In similar circumstances, where a decision could not credibly be explained in terms of traditional legal analysis, the same sort of observation would be appropriate and necessary if five Jewish justices disregarded precedent to vote in favor of the interests of Israel or five African-American justices disregarded precedent to vote in support of black reparations.
First of all, is there anyone who does not bring their own worldview into every facet of their lives including their jobs? It is, after all, who we are. We can apply this same reasoning to the four justices who are not Catholic. They voted the way they did because they apparently do not fundamentally hold a view that all human life should be respected and protected. It is actually their view that cannot credibly be explained in terms of traditional legal analysis.

What I mean is this. The challenge to the ban was based on the assertion that it could not be applied constitutionally because it did not contain an exception for the health of the mother. This challenge, that the law could not be applied constitutionally, is called a “facial” challenge.

Congress, when they passed the ban, had found, after examining all the evidence, that there were other alternatives available to protect the health of the mother and that if no alternative is available in a particular instance, the federal ban could not be invoked to bar IDX. The Supreme Court affirmed this finding by Congress. The court also concluded that this ban does not impose an undue burden on the abortion right, since women could still choose to have abortions, just not this particular type of abortion.

True, the majority opinion affirmed that respect for life is among legitimate government interests, but how is this a particularly “religious” view? Shouldn’t we all have respect for life? If not, why are our prisons filled with convicted murderers? Let them go! They’ve done nothing wrong, because “Thou shalt not kill” is a religious law, and we can’t be imposing religious laws on the state.

IDX is a particularly barbaric procedure that only avoids being considered infanticide by inches. Ask your doctor if he/she would ever perform this procedure on a woman whose health was at risk. If a woman’s health is at risk in the latest stages of pregnancy, the procedure of choice is delivery of the baby via cesarean section, since IDX actually would put the mother’s health more at risk.

IDX requires inducing a breach birth in a near term pregnancy, then while the baby’s head is still in the birth canal, the skull is punctured and the baby’s brains are sucked out. In a healthy mother where the baby is in breach presentation, the doctor will try to turn the baby. If unable to do so, the doctor will perform a cesarean section, since a breach birth is much more dangerous to both mother and baby. Why then, would a doctor choose IDX for a mother whose health is at risk?

Frankly, they wouldn’t. Even Justice Ginsberg acknowledges this in a twisted way in her dissenting opinion.
In this insistence, the Court brushes under the rug the District Courts’ well-supported findings that the physicians who testified that intact D&E is never necessary to preserve the health of a woman had slim authority for their opinions. They had no training for, or personal experience with, the intact D&E procedure, and many performed abortions only on rare occasions.
Oh, I see. Those doctors who routinely work to preserve the lives of both mother and child would never use IDX to preserve the health of the mother, but their opinions don’t carry authority because they have never used IDX to preserve the health of the mother.

Why such twisted logic? Why is there such an outcry over this decision from the pro-abortion forces? The dirty little secret that they don’t want to give voice to is that IDX is never used to protect the health of the mother but almost exclusively used to kill a child with birth defects.