I started Timid Lutherans to give the fainthearted a voice amid the din of angry, contentious blogs. I believe in leading by example, so I am not giving my name.
I suffer from triumphalism, I know.
My people are swamping your people, and your people are not so daring after all.
There are a lot of people who joined the KISS army. They did not advertise it or put it on their resumes. They are joiners.
People get along by going along. They silence themselves.
I better watch it. My advice is catching on so fast I may not get that coveted position. Free travel. Perks. Acting important. I like that.
How did a no-talent group with bad make-up and silly costumes get filthy rich? You ask? We Lutherans adore mediocrity. It makes us feel safe. Look at our entertainers.
I always tell them how creative they are, how hard they are working to reach out. Who is conning whom? They know.
I changed my location to Vatican City because I live in the Vatican City of one of the Lutheran groups. My observation post allows me to see what is happening in the highways and bi-ways. Vatican City is always where the group rots first.
My parents placed this comic book in my hands when I was young.
"Tim," they said, "model yourself after this timid ghost. The less you say, the less they can hold anything against you."
I took their advice to heart. When people were upset at big church meetings, I said nothing.
If pressed to offer an opinion, I always said, "I am sure we can work this out." For many, this was a positive sign of my hope for the future.
You know what they say, "Victory has a thousand parents, but defeat is an orphan." I made sure every successful candidate was sure I was for them. I always grinned like, "We beat them like a backyard dog," to quote President Clinton.
One big advantage is that people shrink back from their favorite issues, once they have lost.
Our secret is persistence. Sure we have setbacks, like getting rid of the name Lutheran. Now no one dares oppose us. We got spanked a few times. Who doesn't?
They huff and puff and quit.
We never give in, never surrender.
Join me and dare to confess the compromise. There is always a middle ground, somewhere. There is no black and white, just winners and losers, whiners and boasters.
The Northern Wisconsin branch of Timid Lutherans re-elected Doug Englebrecht president of that WELS district.
We can do artwork too. We put our TL leaders on a pedestal.
I do not need to name our opponents. They know who they are.
Mum and Pup
I cannot show the actual photos of my mother and father.
They were calm and well behaved, like the pair shown in this photo.
I was taught to blend in, stay calm, wait my chances.
If I stayed vague and non-threatening, they promised, I would go far in the Lutheran Church.
"I'm not much of a student," I protested.
"That does not matter, Tim." They called me Tim, short for Timid. "You will do far better if your grades do not annoy others and you keep up that friendly, devil-may-care attitude."
I stayed under the radar.
When people argued about all those non-essentials, like worship and doctrine, I would hold up my side of the conversation by saying, "It all depends."
I would say favorable things about each side of the argument. They made them try to bring me over to their side. Instead of appealing to 50% or only 33%, I found all of them trying to convince me.
That has served me well in the last few years.
We are going to get along much better if all Lutherans do the same. If I send a letter or a message, I say, "I am thankful for your passion and dedication." That makes them feel good without committing myself to one side or another.
We should all work on ambiguous, feel-good statements. If some decision appears to be completely devastating and polarizing, I answer a question with, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."
Debate that. The answer is so Delphic that no one can untangle it. Can you imagine someone shouting, "The proof of the pudding is NOT in the eating!" Doesn't work.
But on those other issues, oh boy.
My yoke is easy and my burden is lite. Go lite on everything and that will create happy campers.
This is my evil cousin.
He belongs to a Midwestern sect.
The Lone Ranger: "The Indians have us surrounded, Tonto."
Tonto: "What do you mean - us - pale face?"
Tonto had the right idea. In any fight, pick the one who is going to win.
It is foolhardy to stand alone and go down for a noble cause.
My DP friends say, "Pick your fights. Pick the ones you can win." I respect that. The Holy Spirit has called them to serve and advise us.
They did not become DPs by taking a stand on any issue. That is their great wisdom.
We cannot have unity unless people work harder at blending in. To be honest, I am alarmed at how people have started to think for themselves. That will only lead to trouble, to splits.
I would rather have a coy unity than a noble split.
My DP friends know how to prevent a division. They are always gathering intelligence from all over, even from Facebook. They know if I have been naughty or nice, and they know who my friends are.
If someone gets his mind bent by Martin Luther or another obsolete figure, the DP finds out who his friends are. Little by little, the trouble-maker is isolated, alienated, and then gone. What a blessing to have such leaders.
Doctrine divides, my friends. We need pragmatists, men (in the future, women) who will do the dirty work to keep the blessed unity we now enjoy.
Join me. Stand down and not be counted. Blend in for peace and unity.
Do you really want to be one of the suckers in the stadium - lunchmeat for lions? Not I.
I have to apologize for saying too many good things about the Book of Concord.
One person phoned me and said, "Idiot! Don't give away the plan."
Give it away? The plan has been operational for a long time, buddy.
At first it failed. That was during the days of the Evangelical Alliance, another cool idea. I woke up during church history, with drool on my desk, and heard the part about the Evangelical Alliance.
The idea was to merge all Protestants together. All the Lutherans had to do was drop the Sacraments and some Romish notions like baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence. We could baptize babies and have the Lord's Supper while being open and welcoming to the other Protestants.
We had to stop ranting at them about doctrinal differences.
We made headway, so I am told, for a long time. We had union churches. Lutherans had revivals. Is that great? Mourners benches. We also went easy on Lutheran hymns and the liturgy and creeds.
Then it all failed and Lutherans went the wrong way, back to the old stuff. I do not remember how that happened. I was a bouncer at Hooters and really sleepy, so I dozed off. (That is not true, of course. Factual stories would reveal my identity and I am too intimidated by you-know-who to reveal myself.)
But the plan has formed and taken over. All those old goals have been accomplished.
It took millions of dollars and lots of education at the right schools.
The plan is operational. We control everything.
They called me dumb in school and made fun of my knowledge. Non-reciprocating something or other. Well, who is laughing now?
You lurkers are stuck in Buffalo Chip Prairie while I am near headquarters. You cannot give away your stories, but I sell mine to the synod. Mine are printed in the magazine you have to read and rage about.
I may not be studious but I know which way the wind is blowing.
My friends would like me to say bad things about the Book of Concord, but I am especially keen about the Concordia Triglotta.
This is why:
1. The book is just too big, so it intimidates people. Latin? Are you serious? They dropped Latin from Sunday names already. Sesquipdia Sunday or whatever they call it.
2. The print is too small. Only a teen could read that and it is not on a cell phone - I hope.
3. Nobody promotes it. They sell modern versions. They are big, too. Large with a lot of content. That breeds disinterest and boredom.
We have to have studies of the Book of Concord to keep everyone happy. However, it is important that the synod sponsor the study, publish some materials, and let the matter fade away.
We all know most pastors are too busy to create their own studies of the Book of Concord. They have all those groups to manage and meetings to attend. If they are not doing that, they are running off to required circuit, district, and synod activities, where the staff do the thinking for them.
That is essential.
When pastors start creating their own studies, they tend to use current examples. They get themselves too excited and that spreads to the congregation. Soon everyone is finding problems instead of blending in.
Here are some ways of taking care of the situation:
1. Insist on using the Concordia Triglotta, which will make some of the geezers happy.
2. Let the treasurer know how much each Triglotta costs, so he can come to a meeting perspiring and outraged.
3. Mention how few have been interested in the Confessions in the past.
4. If anyone dares to ask for a study of the Confessions, say, "What? We tried that last year and decided against it." Pause for a moment, look concerned. "Maybe we can do a small group study of them later." Of course, that is the last thing to get going. Shudder.
In other words, the Confessions can be your friend, if used properly.
Whenever someone objects to anything being changed, just say in a solemn voice, "That is an adiaphoron."
Some might ask what that weird term is. After all, we don't even trust them to remember Latin. Not that I do.
Explain, "Adiaphoron means a matter of indifference. The plural is adiaphora." The listener will gasp at your knowledge of Greek, or was that Latin?
Too often Lutherans alarm people by pointing out warning signs.
When people are upset, they begin reading the Scriptures and old-fashioned books. I am not against that, but it puts them in the wrong mood. They start looking at problems and terms.
Once that happens, anything can break loose.
Warning signs must have a calming effect instead. For instance, these are proven to be reliable and sound, yet they accomplish the goal of this modest yet influential writer:
1. Don't rock the boat.
2. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.
3. If you can find one perfect church, you better quit, because it will be imperfect the moment you join. (That is a little nasty, but it works sometimes.)
4. Are you calling him a false prophet? (Look anxious and seething with righteous anger. This will calm down the other person, who has to say, "No.")
5. Are you questioning the Holy Spirit, who placed that godly man in that office? (This is my favorite, because who wants to debate God?)
6. Do you know who my father is?
7. Synod says. (Do not say "The Synod" because Synod says is very much like Mama says. It brings up people short, and reminds them of their obligations to Holy Mother Synod.
Dare to blend in. Notice how all the zebras are different but they all look the same. That is the goal.
Each person is unique, but we can all conform by thinking alike, following the herd, and not standing out in any way.
Horses are very different from each other, but zebras are all like. The blacks and whites blend together beautifully.
If we would all seek to be exactly alike, we can get along better. The trembling ground of a thundering herd shows the power of group think.
Aspire to it. Together we can rule and stamp out the concept of leadership.
I know the district presidents are behind me. Bless your work.
Franklin Fry was a leader of the Lutheran Church in America, the National Council of Churches, Lutheran World Relief,= the Lutheran World Federation, and the World Council of Churches. He was called Mr. Protestant and on the cover of Time.
How many bloggers will be on the cover of Time magazine? Not many, I assume.
Originally, FF meant Frank Fry. He was a uniter. That was accomplished by compromise. He was the force behind the Lutheran Church in America merger: Finns, Swedes, Germans, and the rest. He could not shoehorn the Norwegians in, but you know how they are. They needed their own denomination for 20 years to get over themselves.
We need more leaders who can ignore differences. Instead, we have ones who want the title of Mr. Lutheran of Franklin County.
No matter what position people may have, there is some way to ignore the little issues and unite for the grand scheme.
Bigness is better.
Some day we can have all the Protestants united together, but only if a lot of people stop scrapping so much.
I know I speak for a vast number of Lutherans when I support muting the discussions. Let's not look at all sides. Let's just stopping talking about it all.
Go for the middle. The best possible approach is compromise. I am not against dithering, either. Wait and see what happens.
The Martin Luther complex makes me tired. He was lucky he didn't get himself killed. You know you are wrong when you have to be kidnapped to save your neck.
He hurt a lot of feelings. He made fun of the pope and called him names.
Luther called Dr. Eck, a distinguished theologian, Dreck. I am not German so I asked what that meant. I was shocked. No wonder he alienated so many people.
Fortunately we have leaders today who know how to be pragmatic. We do not have to know everything. Keep us happy and contented.
I can read the synod magazine and fall asleep in the La-Z-Boy, calm and relaxed. That is the ideal.
"I am not taking the hit for your issues, you troublemaker."
Already some people sent in the names they want me to list. They added their own comments too.
Joe - "Sign me up. I am sick and tired of people rocking the boat."
Sally - "Debate makes me upset, so I am 100% for what you are doing."
Cedric - "I know all the DPs are on your side. The Holy Spirit picked them and He knows what He is doing."
Bill - "I used to read independent publications and websites, but they got me thinking all the time. I like your approach. I am sticking to synod publications only."
Gertie - "I am so thankful you started this blog. I want to be with it and say I read blogs, but the blogs have all kinds of links that take me here and there. Pretty soon I start to doubt the circuit pastor, and I am his wife. This helps."
Don - "Pure gold."
Lawrence - "From your PC to God's ear, my dear friend."
Mom - "Why don't you write to me, your own mother? I put you through college, seminary, detox, and several 12-step programs. I darned some socks for you. I will phone you. Please pick up this time. Love you to death."
Robert Barnes stuck out like a sore thumb, and look where it got him - burnt at the stake. No way, auto de fe.
I am sick and tired of all those blogs where people are taking issue with this or that.
I am calling on all Lutherans to dare to blend in. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and list your pseudonym.
I will publish that list. You can point to it when visiting with trusted friends and say, "That's me."
Swear them to secrecy first.
I sent notification to the most scared Lutherans I know, asking them to take a stand for letting everything alone. They will be adding their pseudonyms to the list as well.