This I can’t resist. It’s just too good. Back in late January, Fr. David Petersen, freshman editor at Gottesdienst, put this up on his blog: “Promoting Gottesdienst: Do you subscribe to Gottesdienst? Why? What do you like about it?” and then this enticing little question, “How many of you do not subscribe on purpose? That is, how many of you have read Gottesdienst and thought it not worth the money? Why?” Well, that bait brought out a rather interesting catch, from Rev. Paul McCain:
“Tweeking the nose is one thing, allowing a certain former Lutheran pastor to publish what amounts to near hallucinatory "reviews" and in the process slandering persons and institutions is quite another. In this way, Gottesdienst stands in good company with both Christian News and JesusFirst, but I don't think that is a particularly positive achievement.
“In spite of whatever Gottesdienst wishes to be doing that is good, I can not in good conscience recommend it to anyone. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if the little magazine is not more a forum for the pecularities and quirks of its editors who do appear to enjoy amusing themselves with their little quips and such than a magazine that provides a responsible churchly forum for healthy discussion about matters liturgical.”
Now just what, you may ask, is that all about? Well, it turns out that there was a disapproving review in Gottesdienst about a year ago of Concordia, the newest edition, with notes, of the Book of Concord. The review, by former Missouri Synod pastor Michael J. Hill, takes McCain to task for some of the editorial decisions he made. It turns out that Hill’s review was not only thoughtful but prescient, as some time afterwards the LCMS Board of Doctrinal Review had second thoughts and revoked its certification for the book, requiring that changes be made (and as I recall there was another review by Concordia Seminary in
So now McCain says he feels justified in throwing Gottesdienst in the same trash can as he throws Jesus First and Christian News, but of course, there’s a difference. We send out a few complimentary copies here and there, but generally you aren’t going to get it if you don’t subscribe. I wonder who gave him a copy in the first place.
But what I find particularly rich is this: “I can not in good conscience recommend it to anyone.” Holy cow, in good conscience? Wow, there’s something serious going on there. Like, that Gottesdiesnt must have some real bad stuff in there that might lead people astray. Hmmm, what stuff, I wonder? Is there some error we need to retract somewhere? I mean, he speaks of slander too. Who was slandered? McCain? Or . . . (you be the judge).
I wonder why it bothers him so much if, as he says, Gottesdienst is a “little magazine . . . for the pecularities and quirks of its editors who do appear to enjoy amusing themselves with their little quips and such.” No doubt that’s the pejorative “little,” rather than a reference to the conciseness of our journal. What a hoot.
But for all this exchange we owe a debt of gratitude not only to Fr. Petersen, but to Rev. McCain himself, because ever since, well, we’ve been getting a slew of new subscribers. Way to go, Paul!