Friday, August 04, 2006

Junk Mail, Book Division

Along with the usual unwanted credit-card offers, my church mailbag often includes catalogs of cheaply-made plastic toys that we are supposed to buy and then give away to unsuspecting children, who will doubtless choke on them and die. (Or would, if we actually purchased any of this crap.)

In the same spitit, this week's mail included a complimentary copy of a book by Pr David Glesne, of Redeemer Lutheran, Fridley MN. It's called Understanding Homosexuality: Perspectives for the Local Church. The author's tone is mild, at least as compared to some of the screaming crazies out there, but his purpose is not. Glesne uses "science" to rebut the usual "myths of the homosexual agenda." Such "myths" include the proposition that "homosexuals lead happy lives." Needless to say, he is a great advocate of psychotherapeutic efforts to straighten out those who suffer from such unhappiness.

The rest of the book is about what you would expect. Nothing new here. The book is not very scholarly, nor especially well-written, nor in any way original. The author's credentials are unimpressive (a D.Min. and some experience teaching at an unaccredited seminary). It is a more sophisticated version of the ten-page xeroxed mailings I periodically get from Sister Elijah at the Universal Grapevine Covenant of God, proving through an astute juxtaposition of Revelation, Proverbs and Fox News that the End Times are at hand.

Normally, I would just chuck this without a thought. But the book retails for sixteen bucks, and copies seem to have been mailed to every pastor in the ELCA. This raises an obvious question: who footed the bill? To whose largesse do we owe this unwelcome intrusion into our lives? And how do we keep it from happening again?

Pr Glesne's cover letter says that the book is brought to us by "the generosity of a sister ELCA congregation in Colorado." But he doesn't name the parish. So I called Redeemer, Fridley, to ask him, but he's conveniently out of town. I left a message for his secretary, as polite as you please, asking her to call me back with the information.

That was three days ago. I don't think she's gonna call. Which means my "sister congregation in Colorado" has chosen to remain anonymous -- which strikes me as an act of cowardice. (But a reasonable one. I was planning to order them a lot of pizza.)

[Update: A call to the publisher, Kirk House Publishing, doesn't provide a name. But it does offer a fascinating story -- the mystery congregation is apparently defunct, and used the proceeds from the sale of their building to pay for this book. They could -- one might even argue should -- have turned that money over to their synod, to start new churches or endow a seminary scholarship fund. But they preferred to trade their heritage for this potty bit of pottage. How sad.]

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