Sunday, March 30, 2008

Issues, Et Al.

Etc. is Latin for et cetera, meaning "and all the rest"
Et al. is Latin for et alii, meaning "and other things"

Having served on the LCMS Board for Communications for the most recently passed triennium, I was privy to many of the details regarding KFUO management, finances and programming.

From the posts I have seen around the blogosphere, people have been pretty good at not letting the wool get pulled over their eyes. Perhaps that's because the Issues, Etc. listenership is a rather discerning crowd.

Still, I'd like to give a little more insider information -- and encourage people not to be hateful, but winsome in the way that they speak the truth (but always leaving room for rebuke when it is appropriate, as noted in a previous post).

First of all, the general public needs to understand that David Strand is not the arch enemy. I really don't believe that he was the one who instigated all of this on his own. No way. During my tenure, David was always very forthright in working with the board, keeping the board well-informed. In this Issues, Etc. action, however, it appears that he didn't even let the board members know what he was going to be doing. Still, I believe that he was following directions from someone.

Additionally, we all learned from the time on the board (David Strand included) that you don't just fire anyone without making certain that all your ducks are in a row -- especially with the synod's human services and legal department. This action could not have been spur-of-the-moment. Some serious planning HAD to be done. You won't hear much about that.

The other parties who are involved include Dennis Storz (the KFUO station manager) who for three years stonewalled the board which pressed him hard for details but he gave us information which obfuscated the details, and Chuck Rathert, (the program manager for KFUO) who, in my opinion, distorted the facts and gave us half-truths with regard to ratings details and hits to the Issues, Etc. website.

Supporters of Issues, Etc. have already figured out that a lot of the information presented by David Strand is dubious or just plain bogus. But, you see, David Strand did not make up that information. He is only reporting what was given to him.

Furthermore, the BCS had rejected the Carter policy-based model of governance. (This subject desrves another post). The Carter policy-based model basically says that the executive director can do whatever he wants to do unless the board has placed specific boundaries on his actions. (This is the model of governance used by most of the synodical boards, and I have to say that I really think it is BAD NEWS. In fact, at one point, the synod's board of directors, as noted in their official minutes, even decided to discontinue its use. But the majority of synodical operations still uses it.)

So, if the BCS had returned to this model of governance, I suppose it would have been possible for David Strand to do such a thing on his own initiative. But, imho, that's not his style.

And if the members of the BCS did not direct David Strand to do it, that leaves only a few other possibilities such as the synod's Board of Directors (but they had agreed to a moratorium on selling the KFUO licenses - for proof, check out the BCS and BoD minutes). That leaves someone like President Kieschnick, probably acting in a passive aggressive mode through other agents known to him.

People also need to do some thread-pulling regarding the new/current chairman of the BCS, Mr. Claus. Was he a seminary graduate at the time of Seminex who refused to sign papers stating that he rejected the false teachings of liberal Lutheranism? And also President Kieschnick's personal (non-voting) representative to the BCS. Is this person a liberal Lutheran who was involved in trying to undermine the faithful work of Dr. A.L. Barry?

And finally, there are individuals like the synod's secretary Dr. Ray Hartwig and the BCS's former chairman, Mr. Ernie Garbe (still on the BCS but no longer the chairman), who believed that the Issues, Etc. and KFUO matters could be handled, managed and directed without being radical. I think that this action taken less than a year after the new board was elected shows that they are wrong. So are all the others who imagine that there is no doctrinal problem in the synod and that none of us should be making any waves. Dr. Hartwig and Mr. Garbe are wonderful individuals, talented and discerning in many ways. I hope that they will take a stronger stance against what Dr. Kieschnick and his ilk are fomenting in The LCMS.

There are many other anecdotal pieces of information which made the action taken against Issues, Etc. unsurprising for me. Perhaps more will come out as things progress.

BOTTOM LINE: This whole Issues, Etc. debacle is SYMPTOMATIC. That means, it in itself is not the root problem. Unless Issues, Etc. people realize the underlying theology and practice of synodical officials that led to this action and stand up against it, there will be no change.

Believe me. I was one of those who filed a complaint (not a lawsuit) regarding the Yankee Stadium affair. I have been close to the NICL "That They May Be One" protest. I have been close to those who filed a lawsuit against Dr. Kieschnick regarding his practices. In every case (and these were some pretty weighty matters), it all just went away as Dr. Kieschnick spun his yarns.

Will the Issues, Etc. protest be any different? At this point, I don't know. But I do know that if the laypeople in our synod are not thoroughly grounded in the Word of God, if they do not know how to rightly divide between Law and Gospel and confess the faith as in The Lutheran Confessions, if they are not dogged in their determination to stand up for the faith, there will only be small pockets of confessional Lutheranism surviving for a short while in The LCMS.

KYRIE ELEISON: O Lord, do not let Your Word be bound, but let it be preached and taught with all saltiness and purity to the joy and edification of Your holy people and a generation yet to come for Jesus' sake.


rlewer said...

Thank you, Joel.

Rob Olson said...

Wow, thank you, pastor!

Rob Olson
Zion Lutheran Church
Marshall, MI

Pastor Gramit said...

Pastor Brondos, thank you much for your comments. The clarification therein is PRECISELY what we need -- from people in your position for sure, but ALSO from the parties you named therein. We all need to seek "the question behind the question," to get BEYOND the stats and figures and get to the HEART of what happened. Unless there are specific, revealing answers, there is no way that the situation can be anything BUT one of continued conflict on the road to our synod slowly but surely returning to its roots as our "grandfather's synod." To this end, may our Lord be gracious to us and preserve us in the reclaiming of Gospel orthodoxy, for the sake of Christ.

Rev. Paul E. Gramit, Pastor
Ev. Trinity LCMS-UAC, Clinton, Mass.