Sunday, March 30, 2008

Putting the "best construction" on the Issues, Etc. cancellation

In all my reading about the sudden, inexplicable and (IMHO) unjustifiable cancellation of Issues, Etc., good Christian people of all stripes have been taking pains to put the "best construction" on the LCMS' actions. "Don't forget the Eighth Commandment!" they cry.

Yes, but ...

Let's say your husband comes home at 3 a.m. one night reeking of alcohol, stale smoke and pheromones. His clothes are rumpled. He has lipstick smears on his shirt and it's not your shade.

Now, how would you put the "best construction" on that scenario? He was abducted and held hostage in a nightclub by lipstick-wielding aliens?

The more the LCMS tries to spin the story, the worse they look. Their "explanations" have logic holes big enough to apply for statehood. (See Dr. Erich Heidenreich's excellent follow-up questions to the latest "statement" here.)

The LCMS went nuclear on Issues, Etc., and the only logical construction is that it was a complete and total repudiation of the show, its content and its host and producer.

The restoration of the archives and the LCMS' "explanations" have come only after holy fits from thousands of listeners.

I truly believe we have our answer, folks. From where I sit, the LCMS has no intention to bring back Issues, Etc., at least not with the robust content it produced under the leadership of Pastor Todd Wilken and the intrepid Jeff Schwarz. To me, the only point in continuing to scream at the LCMS is to get someone ... anyone ... to cop to the decision and admit that this was a political hit. Barring that, we might as well go scream at the moon.

However, I believe that Todd and Jeff will rise again. As Captain Malcolm Reynolds might say, Issues, Etc. was just too pretty to die.

Issues, Etc. update

Sorry for the dearth of posts this week! I decided to sit back and see what unfolded with the whole Issues, Etc. fiasco, and I've decided to -- for the time being -- remove the "Bring Back Issues, Etc." banner from the right panel. Not because I don't want them back, but I don't think anyone believes that the synod has any intention of bringing back the show, and maybe that's a good thing.

Items of note:

IE fiasco gets attention in the Wall Street Journal: Read the article here by M.Z. Hemingway, a past guest on IE and someone in the know.

David Strand, exec dir for the LCMS Board of Communication Services, issued a more detailed and lengthy statement. (Read here.) He says it was purely a financial decision. The short version of the IE fans' response (including mine): no one's buying it.

The online petition to bring back IE has topped 5,600 signatures as of this posting!!!

A special blog devoted exclusively to IE has been created: Bring Back Issues, Etc.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stink meter goes off the charts on the Issues, Etc. fiasco

Amazing tidbit on Pastor Randy Asburry's blog:

A standard severance package has been offered to both [Pastor Todd] Wilken and [Jeff] Schwarz, but it comes with the string of a “gag order” attached. (That is, they are being asked to sign a document stating that they will not discuss the conditions of their termination of employment.) The Issues, Etc. team is seeking legal counsel before they accept the conditional severance package.

As we say in the South: DO WHAT?

Apparently, there is much that Todd and Jeff could say that would embarrass the LCMS, which is absolutely no surprise to me or to anyone else closely following this story. It further reinforces the prevailing theory that nuking IE was entirely a political decision.

The smell is getting worse, LCMS. Another round of shinola is not going to help.


Maundy Thursday musings

"Maundy Thursday" -- what is it?

"Maundy" is a corruption of the Latin word mandatum, or "mandate," and refers to Jesus saying, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you." (John 13:34)

In the middle of the Issues, Etc. fiasco and impassioned calls to respect the Eighth Commandment (do not bear false witness against your neighbor), I'm reminded how ridiculously hard it is -- no, impossible -- to love my enemies. I'm also reminded that loss of a job -- though traumatic -- is pretty mild compared with what our brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world suffer daily in the name of Christ. (For a few sobering stories, visit here or here.)

The holy law that Jesus iterated on the day before his Passion strikes us all in the face. We fail miserably at it. And that brings us to Holy Friday, the day of the Cross, the day that all the sins of the world were nailed to the tree along with the Lamb of God, along with death and the grave.

On this Holy Thursday, may you rely fully on the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, to fill your heart with love and give you forgiveness of all your sins.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Issues, Etc. unceremoniously canned; UPDATE: LCMS issues "non-statement"; UPDATE: Wil Weedon organizing protest

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Got the astounding news today that the radio program Issues, Etc. -- a favorite of Rich and mine -- has been suddenly canceled and its host and producer, the Rev. Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, respectively, unceremoniously fired with no explanation.

And this is Holy Week.

Reliable sources say that the cause is neither finances nor scandal -- neither of which would have necessitated the sudden cancellation of the program anyway. Speculation abounds, but the fact that there was no warning coupled with the fact that even the show's Web site was taken down completely smacks of a punishing stance by the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod, which underwrote the program.

Here's a roundup of blog posts about the topic:

Wil Weedon: http://weedon.blogspot.com/2008/03/holy-tuesday-treachery.html

Randy Asburry: http://rasburrysres.blogspot.com/2008/03/day-of-infamy-call-for-prayer.html

James White: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2585

Kim Riddlebarger: http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2008/3/18/lcms-pulls-the-plug-on-issues-etc.html

J.A.T. Vierkant: http://jatvierkantsnotebook.blogspot.com/2008/03/issues-etc-canceled.html


It just galls me that hacks like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are multimillionaires and poor Todd and Jeff are in the ranks of the unemployed today.


UPDATE: Looks like the LCMS has offered up a non-responsive response on the KFUO Web site:

For programmatic and business reasons, the decision was made this week to discontinue the "Issues, Etc." program on KFUO-AM. We look forward to bringing you new programming in this time slot in the near future. Also, we thank "Issues" host Rev. Todd Wilken and producer Mr. Jeff Schwarz for their years of service on behalf of the station. Those interested may still download past "Issues, Etc." programs from the "Issues" archive on this website. Thank you sincerely for your continued support of KFUO's radio ministry.


Try again, LCMS. Not. Good. Enough.

UPDATE: Pastor Wil Weedon, a frequent IE guest and -- I believe -- Jeff Schwarz's own pastor, is wanting to organize a formal public protest in St. Louis. Here's his blog post about it.

I'll be there in spirit, pastor.