Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On "Christian News"

Most of us in the LCMS are well aware of the publication known as "Christian News". Check out their website, as the most recent issue has several of its stories actually posted to the web!

As I read through the most recent (print) issue (to which I do not subscribe, but always seem to get multiple copies of), I noticed that Rev. Paul McCain seems to be the topic du-jour. Which got me to thinking....

What does the Lutheran Blogosphere think of Christian News?

I know that there is a variety of opinion in the LCMS, ranging from disdain to admiration. At the recent convention, I heard CN referred to as a kind of "third-rail of LCMS politics", and that candidates endorsed by CN stood little chance. "Kiss of death" was the exact phrase I heard.

Many pastors simply won't read the publication. One of our former St. Louis prof's told us in a "fireside chat" setting that we simply shouldn't read it.

Some, like me, read anyway... with variously sized grains of salt. On some things, CN has been "right on". Other times, way off.

What are your observations/comments/evaluations of CN? Is it good, bad or ugly? Should a Lutheran read it at all? Why/why not?

I would also make the following observations/comments about CN:

- The sheer volume of production is overwhelming. Too much of a good thing, perhaps? I wonder if all the small print and long articles don't turn off some readers.

- The layout is often awkward and hard to follow.

- One of the better things CN does is simply re-print articles of note (from all sides). Jesus-First and Day-Star to blog articles to whatever... I am sometimes uneasy about how careful CN is to get permission for all these re-publications, but then I don't know the "rules" that well either.

- Sometimes CN seems to cross the fine line of satire and into the realm of "just plain mean".

- CN tends to repeat itself, from issue to issue and even within issues. This gives the publication more a feel of propoganda than an actual news publication.

- I realize there is quite a history to CN, and that I don't know much of it. Maybe that makes me ignorant, maybe it makes me unbiased?

- I don't think anyone will deny the influence CN has had and continues to have, but I do think that influence is certainly declining. CN is, in a way, part of the "old media" of the LCMS - and I think internet sources, in particular, the Lutheran Blogosphere are in some ways replacing it. Still there is an elderly subset who won't ever get up to speed with the internet, but as they die off so too will CN's audience. (Unless CN changes somehow - crossing over into the internet. I was surprised, as I wrote this, to see they are actually doing something with their website. But how successful this will be remains to be seen).

- How much of CN is simply Rev. Otten himself? Or will CN live on beyond him? Is there an heir apparent, or could there be?

What are your thoughts and opinions on "Christian News"? Leave a comment!

7 comments:

Jim Roemke said...

Tom,
I couldn't agree more on the format. This publication could not be more out of touch with anyone who reads blogs, etc. It is PONDEROUS in it's content and frankly, I have found its like reading a tabloid; while I find some of the articles interesting, I never know how much I can trust anything, therefore I don't trust anything it says. Also, as a new pastor, I do have those same warnings in my head from seminary: "Don't even bother with it!" Honestly, that makes me want to read it more. I find though that as soon as I start reading it I grow bored and confused and...bored some more. I do think its important to at least look at it though, as well as the Jesus First rag. Its important to know what the extremes are thinking no matter how you feel about it.

jWinters said...

My dad, when he graduated from St. Louis, was anonymously drug through the mud by CN. The exact phraseology was "Maniac Missionary goes to Philippines". (it was anonymously drug through the mud because my grandfather used to work on all of Herman's cars for free)

For that reason, I have a bias against CN. But I still read it. Like Jim, I regard CN as a tabloid. But even tabloids have their place.

I too saw that PTM was the topic du jour in this last Christian News (which much like the Christian Science church has little to do with Christianity or News). I thought that was odd.

I also agree with Jim that when you look at Daystar or any other Jesus-Firsty rag - it's about as reliable.

I hold CN in high regard for this reason and this reason alone: It is the only publication that is strictly dealing with LCMS theology that is independent of a vast majority of the LCMS "gangs". We need more journalists who are willing to stick their neck out and say what the vox populi thinks about what the lastest CTCR statement has to say.

Note: Paul McCain and I have had our disagreements both publicly and privately. He's a good guy though. He doesn't deserve the lambasting that he got in the last CN.

in Christ,
jW

Frank said...

There was a time when I would have bought into some of what CN puts out, but no more. I’ve found that folks that do enjoy it seem a little too enthusiastic for my tastes, and I mean that with both uses of the word in mind. While there might be a something good in it from time to time, if did subscribe to it, it would line my cat’s litter box. I just don’t see how anything in it is helpful.

I’m with Jay on his thoughts on CN’s treatment of Rev. McCain. I too have had both public and private spats with him. However, the way they treat both Rev. McCain and others is unchristian and goes against what Scripture tells us concerning how we treat one another.

Frank said...

One more quick thing, several years back I remember reading an article in CN that said the Rev. Dr. David P. Scaer was the worst kind of liberal (I’m assuming they were talking in the theological sense). This only showcased the bias as well as the absolute ignorance of the author and the editor. Nuff said.

Orycteropus Afer said...

There was a tall pastor
Who had a small paper
Right in the heart of Missouri.
When CN was good,
It was pretty darned good—
But when it was bad, it was scary.

If I complain about others' breaking of the 8th Commandment, does that mean that I'm breaking it, too? Anyhow, some of the holocaust revisionism chaps my saddle more than just about anything else aside from the damage to many neighbors' reputations.

Anonymous said...

In the days, P.I. (Pre-Internet) I subscribed to CN for two years. After the internet explosion, I dropped it and only read it when I found it on the church's or the seminary bookstore's free rack.

Like many, I find the formatting horrible in many cases, with articles slammed into confined places here and there.

Although I liked the news from around the world and the heavy amount of articles included from many of the disparate LCMS groups, I stopped reading when I got tired of consecutive issues discussing revisionist histories of the holocaust and his fight to be certified by the seminary.

To rephrase what a previous commenter said, if he right, he's right....if he's wrong, he's usually horribly wrong. The manner in which he takes on people in the Synod is generally horrible.

I have found though, it's a good way to read material from both fringes of the Synod. But sometimes I hate myself for it.

Dr. Luther in the 21st Century said...

I must admit that I have not read CN since I left St. Louis. It never had much credibility in my eyes with the holocaust theories and his propensity for blowing things out of proportion concerning the seminary (largely due to their refusal to certify him, maybe?).

At the same time as I read some of his theologically related articles, much of which I agreed with I could not help but want to disagree just because of his mannerisms.