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Thursday, February 5, 2015

WELS Pastor Steve Spencer Answers the Knee-Jerk Hysterical Response
To the Truth about the Sect.
WELS Documented Blog and the Erased Post

His Holiness, Pope Otten, told Team Ichabod
that WELS was exceptionally thin-skinned.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Avoiding Blog Sensationalism

Blog Sensationalism
As many of you know, we removed our last post because several found it to be crossing the line into sensationalism. We do not want to give that impression in any way, so we removed it.

That being said, we are now looking for feedback on how to share not only the positive that is happening in the Synod, but also allowing discussion of important issues and "hot topics" without crossing the line into sensationalism.

One of our readers has been making some great points with his comments, that can be seen below, on how to accomplish this, but we would like to hear from others also with suggestions.



From the comments: 

I was the one who shared the comments about it being a sensational blog title. The comment at 8:00pm on this thread was also me. Let's make this easier. I will always sign my posts with "Your brother".

The topic is important. If there are those who believe there is an institutional problem, let's talk about it. But the blog title and the picture of a guy pounding a beer were highly sensational. That approach prevents dialogue. We were actually making strides to bring the conversation around to beneficial dialogue, but then it was removed. Perhaps it was because the post was not written in the Spirit of Christian love, and the author knew it. I do not know.

For what it's worth, I do not believe there is a cultural problem with drinking at MLC. I do think the COS parties and Northwestern holdover traditions are unhealthy and rarely encourage Christian behavior. If the conversation is to abolish those, great. Let's have that conversation.

Your brother
*****
  
WELS Documented February 5, 2015 at 9:24 AM
Thanks for you feedback Anonymous 8:31, we took the post down, because we didn't want to even give the appearance that we were after sensationalism. The original intention of the post was, as you stated in your last paragraph, to discuss groups like COS but I didn't want to specifically target them in the title because that seemed wrong also so I was trying to go generic.

You said, "Let's have that conversation". Do you have any ideas/suggestions on a better way of bringing up topics like that for real discussion without coming across as sensationalism? Was it mainly the title and graphic that gave that appearance?
-WD1
*****




I guess the main reason it seemed like sensationalism to me is that the numbers you shared already answered your question: no, according to these statistics, drinking is not a "growing problem" at these institutions. But people hear what they want to hear. Guys like Ben Wink and Greg Jackson are eternally bitter (for who knows what reason, but they are deeply personal). But the more important people are those who don't have inside knowledge or preconceived notions. How does an article like that help them? How does it benefit the institutions that have provided us countless, faithful called workers?

However, I do think there are certain problems that need to be addressed. Maybe this forum is a good place to ask, is there anyone out there who has experienced COS, grassers, whatever, and now in hindsight sees any redeeming quality? If you're under 25, you're too close to the situation. I mean those who have matured through a service to people and now can look at the situation with a degree of separation. My experience was that they were drinking events, period. The dancing that accompanies it is heavily influenced by the drinking, which leads people to behavior that would bring shame to them in the light. In my experience, the majority of the drinking was done by those who were of legal drinking age, but it was done in excess. (And even if not in excess, the act of drinking was glorified through the event.) So can we raise enough of a public concern to have MLC administration notice? Might someone bring our collective thought (if there is consensus) to the MLC leaders in person? That could be a positive outcome of this forum.

But don't let me be the only voice here. Some may feel there is an institutional problem. Some may feel that the cultural norm is drinking, and that it is a routine practice on and off campus. But that is not the campus I experienced. There were certainly people who would fall into this category, but they were marginalized. The campus "culture" was much healthier than the behavior of the deviants. Of course we can share stories of those who erred. But most are repentant, and by grace they are forgiven. 

Thank you for your willingness to engage in this conversation. I appreciate your openness and your desire to be a light in this world.

Your brother
*****


Wow Anonymous 10:39 those are some excellent points! I really appreciate your insight on how to improve the way things are presented in blogs. I will definitely be putting more thought into things like choosing titles, etc. I also like your method of how to present a topic initially.

Do you think there are also specific "topics" that blogs like this should refrain from because there can be "no good" that come of it? Part of what I was trying to do with some of the posts was to help separate fact from Internet rumor and I think your points above will help do that better. Maybe I need to use your method and just ask, "Is this fact or rumor" and let people weigh in? Would that help avoid the sensationalism, but yet still have a meaningful discussion? Thanks again.
-WD1
*****



I'll only share a brief thought, since I think it's important for others to weigh in. Sure, there are topics that I wouldn't touch, out of respect for the individuals affected. But I also think that some of the "hot-button" topics can be productive conversations if moderated effectively. Tone matters, thorough research matters, respect for brothers and sisters matters.

An example: your post about a sermon clearinghouse was a great topic. A few more details were added in the comments to show that, in fact, each of these pastors are writing their own sermons but they are doing sermon study together and sharing promotional materials. This practice is also common in many more "conservative" circles, but probably without the public marketing component. But then WELS Discussions splashed it out there without the added details and allowed the conversation to proceed as though none of these pastors were writing their own sermons. "How dare they! I would never allow this. Rah, rah, rah." Do you see the difference in approach? Same topic, two approaches. One mutually edifying, one not. 

I'll take a break. :) God bless.

Your brother

*****
From a different person:


A slightly different take on the 11:45 AM comment by Your Brother. On some of the more controversial topics - perhaps a moderated debate between Pastor's willing to discuss an issue in depth and respond scripturally to points raised. On those issues disallow comments from the general public. Just a thought.

Eine arme Schaf








1 comment:

  1. I disagree about the title of the article, or the article itself, being "sensational." They were not, IMHO. One person's sensationalism is another person's simple facts, and vice-versa. It is just as wrong to BE offended without cause, as it is to offend. The real question to be asked is - does the charge "You can't handle the truth!" apply to us? Quite often it would seem that such is the case.

***

GJ - Was the entire synod bitter when they noticed the out-of-control underaged drinking at Northwestern College? The topic was covered even before the name change of The Northwestern Lutheran.

The known DUIs among WELS clergy suggest that alcohol addiction is a problem. So does the recent episode with Tim Glende and Ski having a joint bar ministry, buying a bar for Ski to play in, and justified complaints (as Glende admitted) about Ski. The Anything Goes District, yea even WELS, got involved in protecting Ski's unquenchable thirst.

Did Glende and Ski start their excessive drinking at Northwestern College? Does this continue among the Martin Luther College students and Sausage Factory students?