Encomiums out of bounds
I was taught as a child by my LCMS pastor that eulogies have no place in a Lutheran funeral. Then I saw the headline in a recent Reporter on Dr. Oswald C.J. Hoffmann’s funeral, “Hoffmann put focus on Christ, not self, say eulogists” (italics mine). With no disrespect whatsoever for Dr. Hoffmann, your headline has made my job as a pastor more difficult.
A eulogy is by definition “a prepared speech or writing extolling the virtues or services of a person.” How ironic, then, that Dr. Hoffmann, who according to the headline put the focus on Christ, not self, was eulogized at his funeral. The article did not identify who the “eulogists” were, but it seemed to imply that they were the men mentioned in the article — an implication I would not appreciate if I were one of those men.
Now what do I say to family members or friends who want to eulogize their loved ones at the funerals at which I officiate? Your positive use of the word “eulogists” in a headline will make it much harder for me to claim that eulogies have no place in a Lutheran funeral. Or are eulogies now permitted and encouraged in the LCMS? If so, then this truly is no longer my grandfather’s Synod!
Rev. David C. Mumme
I noticed that the “Letters to the Editor” section was absent from the December issue of Reporter. I also noticed that readers were subjected to a conservative and grossly overstated commentary on President Bush’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Samuel Alito, written by a man whose only credential is that he writes for a local/regional newspaper, but certainly not a legal scholar. Were others given the opportunity to provide an article reflecting alternative thinking on Judge Alito? I think not.
Let’s see: No feedback via “Letters to the Editor” and added political commentary.
Please, bring back a responsible editorial team to our LCMS “official newspaper.” Enough of a controlling synodical press. Information and sharing, yes! Control, no!
Rev. David A. Mueller
Beginning this past November, Reporter began offering monthly commentary or analysis pieces on pertinent societal issues of the day, written from the Lutheran perspective. This month’s commentary (Page 3) has to do with the implications of Canada becoming the latest nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
These commentaries, while striving to be fair, balanced, and properly Lutheran, cannot be held to reflect the official position of the Synod in cases where the Synod has no official position (the merits of Judge Alito, for example). Further, because these pieces are more in the realm of editorials than official statements or straight-news stories, one has to expect their authors to embrace some sort of opinion on their subjects.
Kevin Leininger, author of the December commentary on Judge Alito, does not claim to be a legal scholar. He is, however, a reporter, columnist, and editor of 28 years’ experience, mostly with the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, who has written extensively on religion, law, and church-state issues. In 1983, he was part of a News-Sentinel team that won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. Finally, he’s a lifelong LCMS member deeply involved in his congregation, Zion Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, as an elder and in other capacities.
On another matter raised by the letter-writer, the absence of “Letters to the Editor” in the December Reporter was not owing to editorial “control” but rather to the fact that we received no letters. This month’s crop, as readers can see, was not bountiful, either.
The “Letters” section is meant to be a forum for LCMS professional church workers and lay leaders to exchange ideas on stories appearing in Reporter or on other issues affecting the church. We mean it when we say we heartily encourage readers to submit letters for consideration.
Please send letters via e-mail to REPORTER@lcms.org or by mail to REPORTER Letters, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295. Please include your name, postal address, and telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. — Ed.
Posted Dec. 29, 2005