Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pastor Zip Gets Quoted: Part 2

Continued from previous entry.

This morning's paper reminded me of how difficult it is to get an idea across via the press. Mind you, it's not because reporters do a bad job, or misquote, or don't understand the issues. Most reporters do a good job, are accurate with quotes, and if they don't understand the issues they want things explained to them so that they will.

When I'm asked questions, by parishioners or (in this case) the press, about something that has happened, I try to first explain things as objectively as possible before giving my perspective. Hopefully that has shown up in this blog now and again. It is one way I try to apply Dr. Martin Luther's explanation of the 8th Commandment in his Small Catechism [note to self: update links on Pastor Zip's Christian Web Links]:
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God, so that we do not lie about, betray or slander our neighbor, but excuse him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.
I tried to do that when interviewed earlier this week, and this is how it came out in the paper:
"I think at least symbolically that really is a big victory for including active gays in the ministerium," said the Rev. Steven Tibbetts, pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Peoria who also served as a volunteer at the assembly.

What struck Tibbetts, though, was how much of an effort was made by people on both sides of the issue to get along and remain united as a church.
Read the entire column here.

I do admire how Michael Miller was able describe a 15 minute interview in 2 sentences. And as far as I am concerned, he did his reporting and editing job well. But he only had so much space and, when I read it this morning, it seemed like a reader could reasonably think that I was pleased with the "victory" I described. In my own small way I felt like Senator Obama, or President Bush, or someone like that reading what they said in the paper or seeing the soundbite on TV and thinking, "But that's not what I meant!"

Michael Miller and I have talked about church matters over the years, he reads this blog, and we covered quite a bit of ground on the phone the other afternoon. I don't think for a minute that he thinks I'm pleased with the outcome of the "refrain from discipline" vote or that he intended to suggest that. Well, what are ya gonna do?

How about post a sign next to the phone saying something like, "Give juicy quote, but watch it!" ;->

The vote was a symbolic victory for the proponents of the gay agenda in the church. It was a real defeat for the orthodox believers in the ELCA. And a clear signal that we cannot just sit back and let someone else take care of things. It was one skirmish and we did poorly. All is far from lost, however.

On Friday, September 28, Lutheran CORE is holding a gathering, 'This Church' and God's Church, at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Lindenhurst, Illinois, on the north side of metro Chicago. From 10 am to 4 pm CORE will review what happened at this Churchwide Assembly and plan for the next two years' Synod and Churchwide Assemblies. Dr. James A. Nestingen, Dr. Robert Benne, and retired Bishop Paull Spring will speak. And ELCA Lutherans, clergy and lay, from across the land will be there because they want to have the ELCA we were promised 20-25 years ago, not the one we're getting.

I'll be there. And if you send $10 payable to "WordAlone Network" to Lutheran CORE, c/o WordAlone Network, 2299 Palmer Drive, Suite 220, New Brighton, MN 55112 (which is to cover lunch), you can meet me there. For more details, contact my friend and colleague, Pr. Steve Shipman.


biggmann382 said...

That will teach you. The reporter may be friendly ,but he has to remember who writes his paycheck. The management of his paper wants Gay pastors in all chuches and cannot understand why you would oppose such a REASONABLE thing!
Next time only give interviews to radio hosts, newspapers or TV stations owned by Rupert Murdock.Bigg

Anonymous said...

How can you and others that are in Lutheran Core remain in the E_CA, when you know that there is no going back on the issue of gay clergy. The ElCA is certainly not Lutheran. It lost that identity years ago.

Pastor Zip said...


I've been reading the Peoria Journal Star for just about 15 years now and I've known on a professional basis the Religion Editor, Michael Miller, for most of those years. The newspaper indeed has had its editorial blind spots over the years, but Miller's coverage of the controversies in several denominations that have emerged from the sexuality debates has been fair, even sympathetic, to those of us of a Traditionalist Christian perspective.

If the PJS management wants gay pastors, they'll say so on the Editorial Page. Meanwhile, they've let Miller call it as he sees it in his column. He's not infrequently supported traditional Christian morality over the years -- even when the newspaper's own editorial stance sneers at such expressions. Miller's paycheck comes more from his editing the PJS weekly TV guide. The weekly "Faith & Values" pages is more his journalistic "call" and, to use Lutheran language here, Mike fears and loves God too much to sell that for a paycheck.

Pastor Zip said...

Well, anonymous, we don't "know that there is no going back." I read Lutheran history, and it says otherwise. Schmucker lost. Since that happened in the 19th century, it can happen with his spiritual descendants in the 21st.

Similarly with Church history, with the Arians and gnostics. There was "no going back," the orthodox were told. Except they were heretics. It is the same with the contemporary Arians and gnostics. You say there is "no going back." So do they. Why should we just cede them victory?

As for losing Lutheran identity, I can find anonymous critcs to say the same thing about any Lutheran church. I find that it is far from completely gone in the ELCA.

I am curious, however, as to where do you suggest we go.