Thursday, November 9, 2017
Curious. . .
The Fall 2017 issue of The Lutheran Forum is replete with rather brief, one page observations -- all entitled Five Hundred Years Later... in obvious reference to the big Lutheran anniversary year. I will admit to glancing at it when it came in but never got around to look at it closely. The coffee table in my office contains the current issue of a dozen or so journals to which I subscribe so I tossed it on the stack and did not think more about it.
A few weeks ago a woman from my parish, someone rather well read and theologically astute, was waiting there to talk to me and happened upon the stack of journals. She picked up The Lutheran Forum issue mentioned above and paged through it. When my phone call completed and we began to talk she directed me to this issue and said that nearly all the pictures in it were of women pastors. She wondered if there was an agenda at work in the choice of photographs. I said I did not know. Then I looked more closely at the issue.
Indeed there were 14 Five Hundred Years Later contributors and half were women. Only one of the contributors was a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and, predictably enough, it was one of the few female theology professors in the entire Synod, at Concordia, St. Paul, MN. African Lutherans were well represented (they should be since there are so many of them). By my rough count, six were ELCA.
There is one more thing. The same woman commented that she found the cover art depicting Luther to be rather, well, shall we say androgynous? I am not sure about that comment. Most depictions of Luther are not pretty and some are downright scarey (was it not Luther who said old age makes one ugly!).
So my point. . . well, The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau was once mostly Missouri but pan-Lutheran. Now, it seems, it has become mostly ELCA but pan-Lutheran. I suppose it is okay; they go where the money is (don't we all). But if they wanted at least the appearance of being even handed, perhaps they could have chosen differently. In any case, it is a curious thing that women play so prominently in the photos and contributions given that Luther knew nothing of the ordination of women, did not advocate for it, indeed, never even conceived of it. Apparently the whole thing is so fragile that it must be regularly pictured and featured so that those who do not ordain women will know they are not real Lutherans. Well, I guess that is what the LCMS said of the ELCA. Perhaps this has become a bit of a thing in the relationship between the two churches (or the lack of a relationship). In any case, what I did not notice, one of my members did.
BTW she is not a subscriber and probably is not going to. I, well, I will probably keep it up and see where it turns out. Until, perhaps, retirement forces me to choose between buying adult diapers or renewing my subscription.