The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Will Herzfeld made many contributions

Readers take aim at atheists, climate, humility articles, plus cartoon

A job well done
Thank you for the great issue, "Looking back, leaning forward" (August, page 20). It's unfortunate there was not room to recognize the contributions of the Rev. Will Herzfeld in "Leaders 'back then' left their marks" (page 27). Although Herzfeld was not on the national scene for as long as Herbert Chilstrom or David Preus, nevertheless he led a small band of faithful exiles from the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, helped form the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and became one of the catalysts for the formation of the ELCA. I am grateful for his leadership and his contribution to our diversity.

The Rev. Leonard A. Hoffmann
Dubuque, Iowa

Careful with words
In the cover story, Montana Synod Bishop Jessica Crist's comment on congregations leaving the ELCA being "analogous to cleaning the rolls" was unfortunate. Do we now clean the rolls when there is a difference in the ELCA, or do we find a solution to the problem? This may be one of the reasons we are losing members.

John Kulma
Mentor, Ohio

August Cover

Don't know that Jesus
A letter writer in the August issue (page 48) responded to "the woman who said people are leaving the ELCA because we've gotten away from the teachings of Jesus." He said we should remember "how tolerant and accepting [Jesus] was. Tolerance is the backbone of his teachings." My dictionary defines tolerance as "the capacity for or practice of recognizing and respecting the opinions, practices or behavior of others." I'm sorry. I don't know that Jesus.

Ken Steeber
Luray, Va.

Best of the best
Thank you for the article on atheists by Lisa E. Dahill (August, page 18). I've been studying the reality of the "nones." The insight Dahill brought to having dialogue with members of this group helped me a great deal in understanding who I am and what my next action should be. The "Deeper understandings" column has been important to me and Dahill's essay is the best of the best.

Larry Kiewel
Belle Plaine, Minn.

Taking care of creation
I am an ELCA Lutheran for two reasons. One is that I was raised that way. The other, and more important to my lifelong support of our denomination, is exemplified by "Urgent: Creation care" (July, page 20). We have the commitment and courage to care for all of God's creation — including the Earth.

Jack C. Westman
Madison, Wis.

Unbalanced report
In the July issue, the editor's column (page 4), cover story and study guide did not balance its position on climate change by mentioning that since 1998 there has been an unexplained standstill in the heating of the Earth's atmosphere and that recent climate data are not in line with global warming models. Rather, The Lutheran took an essentially partisan position in a contentious political debate, thereby excluding, alienating and not respecting the diversity of the views of those in the ELCA skeptical of dire predictions by environmental scientists.

Eric Olson
New York City

Drop the agenda
In reporting on synod assemblies (July, page 36) why would the headline and accomplishments of the Rev. R. Guy Erwin include his sexual orientation? You did not even mention Erwin's many educational accomplishments or his service to our Lord's calling or mission. The fact that he is gay was touted purely as a political statement by the magazine. Erwin stated it quite well, "... the sexual orientation of the bishop may not be very important." The Lutheran needs to stop pushing its agenda and report what people need to know.

Brenda Murphy
Bristol, Va.

Be humble, accepting
Excellent "My view" by James W. Schoeld on an urgent call to humility (July, page 49). May we all be more humble and more accepting of others and their opinions.

Judi Stock
Wooster, Ohio

Wrong message
In a recent Sunday Gospel reading from Luke 10, Jesus is asked "who is my neighbor?" He responds with the story of the good Samaritan. How, then, do we place his response up against the cartoon that apparently attempts to illustrate an unlovable neighbor (July, page 45)? The church spends a great deal of time and energy wondering why involvement in congregations is diminished. The cartoon gives us a clear indicator. Perhaps we are the ones, with our judgment of others based on how they look, where they live and what they wear, who are the hard to love neighbors.

The Rev. Julie G. Hutson

Don't worry
Every month I read the editor's column in which he regularly apologizes for whatever discomfort, frustration, aggravation or controversy the magazine is likely to provoke. The monthly ruckuses are testimony to the vigor, involvement and commitment of the members of the ELCA. I read the letters to the editor and applaud the energy and the argumentativeness of those objecting to the perspectives, observations, beliefs and opinions expressed in The Lutheran. We are a group of dynamic believers, each of us seeking to understand and live God's will, a challenge we began with baptism and one we renew every week at the communion table. Martin Luther would be so pleased.

Suzanne O'Dea
McKinleyville, Calif.

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