First they asked pastors not to pray “in Jesus’ name” so as not to offend people of other faiths. Now the editor of the International Falls Daily Journal in Minnesota has asked pastors writing the weekly church column to avoid using scripture, lest the columns sound too much like sermons – as if there’s something wrong with that!
Personally, I don’t see the problem with publishing sermons – having done it for almost twenty years – but that’s not the point. I’m just astounded that a newspaper would ask pastors to write a column, then ban the use of scripture in it.
(Perhaps my feelings are best summed up in a March 27 letter to the editor written by reader Christine Cook, who told the IFDJ: “You people are total fools for disallowing scripture in a church column. It’s actually laughable. Fools! It’s on your head.” C’mon, Christine, tell ‘em what you really think.)
Amidst Daily Journal stories about the Koochiching Hospice Board meeting at Bremer Bank, and the International Falls Lions Club meeting at the Holiday Inn, I suspect a good sermon might spice things up a bit. And the danger is that this kind of silliness has a way of taking hold and then spreading into other areas. For example, what will we think when . . .
The editor of the Kalamazoo Daily Spectacle decides that henceforth any terminology derived from Latin may not be used in medical articles, since it might remind readers of really boring classes in high school. Henceforth, such terminology will be replaced by terms such as “boo-boos” and “owies.”
The editor of the Atlanta Announcer declares that real estate ads should no longer contain words that imply superiority or material advantage of one house over another. Words like “best,” “excellent,” and “super” are banned, along with descriptive language that implies one property might be better than another; for example, “3 bedrooms” might be understood to claim an advantage over “2 bedrooms.” Henceforth, all real estate ads will read: “House for sale. Call 555-1234.”
The editor of the Houston Howler makes a decision to omit any language on its sports pages that might qualify as clichés; i.e., “ you can feel the momentum swinging,” “he’s in a league of his own,” “we came to play,” “we’re just going to take it one game at a time,” and “It’s a rebuilding year.” (As a result, the sports pages are reduced from 8 pages to a half-page of box scores.)
Next thing you know, someone will suggest leaving the humor out of the comics pages, too. Although, now that I think of it, that may have already happened.
So we appeal to that editor in International Falls: reconsider and allow preachers to use scripture again. And while you’re at it, do something about those comics.
Michael Duduit is the Editor of Preaching magazine.