Letters to the Editor (October) Part 1

Heeding the call

This is in response to the September commentary by Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto.

As a veteran of the Vietnam era (U.S. Navy Hospital Corps, 1969-73), I am not sure what path Dr. Siemon-Netto would have advised in those years as the best alternative to what he called “chickening out when the going gets tough” — departing Vietnam in a manner which (he says) leaves the blood of millions on the hands of American voters. 

As a pastor of the present era, I know that faithful Christians can and do disagree about how to evaluate our past, present, and future policies and tactics in Iraq.

I therefore suggest that the pages of the LCMS Reporter might not be the place for Dr. Siemon-Netto’s personal opinions about the Connecticut Democratic primary. How does he suggest that a conservative voter make the best choice between two pro-choice liberal Democrats, whose only difference seems to be on the question of Iraq, a question on which Republicans and the nation can be divided as well? In other places, where might a pro-life voter who considers the present policy in Iraq to be ill-advised find a candidate to vote for?

The issues are not always easy to decide, and Christian writers should be cautious about the certainty of the pronouncements they make for others.

Rev. Bruce A. Cameron
Sparta, Ill.

Please forward my appreciation to Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto for his excellent commentary in the September Reporter.

His insight into citizenship, the dynamics of fighting terrorism, and the consequences of this generation’s challenge to freedom are refreshing.  His understanding of our American “wish” for problems to just go away is precisely correct.  Unfortunately, Americans have exhibited that trait, repeatedly, since our nation began in 1776.  I am grateful for his discussion of our call. 

We continue to pray for our nation, our soldiers, and their families (who also serve).

Elliott Short Jr.
Fairview, Texas

I am dismayed and disappointed by the September 2006 issue of Reporter.  I feel the commentary “In Times of War: The need to heed the calling,” was an inappropriate and borderline-offensive editorial about the “war on terror.”  I have two issues with this “lecture.”  

First, putting this commentary on the front page, using a picture of soldiers, and giving it ample space made it the focus of the issue.  Since Reporter is an official publication of the LCMS, the commentary becomes the “position” of the Synod.  I strongly feel that this secular editorial was political, not spiritual, and should not have been included in the publication.  

Second, Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto’s “scolding” was addressed to people who “have not lived up to your (our) calling as a citizen.”  What about people who have lived up to their calling as a citizen?  What about people (including Lutherans) who have studied the issues and do know the facts and details of the war on terror, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and the continuous hostilities in the Middle East, and disagree with the policies of the left-hand kingdom?  The broad paintbrush that Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto uses to guilt-trip the reader could stifle alternative ideas, thoughts, and plans that could solve or resolve important issues, including the war on terror.  

I am prayerfully confident that there is room in the LCMS for opposing points of view on secular issues.   

Ken Kircoff
Davison, Mich.
  

At least the Uwe Siemon-Netto article “In Times of War: The need to heed the calling” in the September 2006 Reporter was labeled “Commentary.”  It more properly should have been labeled political commentary, for that is what it was.

It is certainly a matter of politics where and when America engages in war.

Siemon-Netto’s opinion that America is a “nation with a calling” is what our country’s forefathers called Manifest Destiny.  He would probably be shocked to know that our Lutheran forefathers did not buy into sanctifying political speak with Scripture.

In the future, if you are going to have political commentary on your pages, please present the other view too.

Rev. Paul R. Harris
Austin, Texas

We should all thank Dr. Siemon-Netto for reminding us Lutherans about our duties in “evoking the Lutheran doctrine of calling.”  As he suggests, the need for us to give heed to the calling is particularly acute during times of war.  And since issues relating to war will be prominent in the coming congressional elections, we have an immediate opportunity to exercise our calling in a practical way.  The problem is that the commentary does not provide the guidance we need to responsibly engage the issues we face in this time of war.

Most of the commentary is about Dr. Siemon-Netto’s own stands on issues.  He has very pronounced views and tries to convince the reader of the rightness of the positions he takes on issues.  But they are quite controversial views, and some may not stand up well to close scrutiny.  Certainly other sincere Christians have other views.  A better approach would have been for him to give some examples of difficult issues, encourage Lutherans to study all aspects of these issues, and then come to their own conclusions.  That approach would emphasize that we all have a calling to be informed Christian citizens who study the issues in the light of God’s Word and then take appropriate action in line with our calling to engage the world as active Christian people.

All in all, this was a disappointing article — a missed opportunity for promoting vibrant Christian citizenship.  Isn’t there someone out there who can show us more clearly the need for and possibilities of “evoking the Lutheran doctrine of calling”?

Particularly needed in this time of war and election is guidance to laypeople on applying Christian principles as we try to influence our government’s direction through voting, influencing our elected representatives, and engaging in civil action in support of our Christian beliefs.

Robert C. Droege
Rockville, Md.

I am disappointed that Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto would use the Lutheran understanding of calling as a basis to stifle an American citizen’s criticism of our nation’s foreign policy.

One could argue that it is our calling as American citizens to be vigilant about our leaders’ actions and criticize when conscience demands it.  If one decides to vote against an incumbent on the basis of the candidate’s record, as did the voters in the Connecticut Democratic primary, then one is free to do so without violatin

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