Author Topic: Changing World, Changeless Christ: The ALPB, 1914-2014  (Read 2457 times)

Richard Johnson

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Changing World, Changeless Christ: The ALPB, 1914-2014
« on: January 27, 2018, 03:34:52 PM »
I'm happy to announce that Changeless World, Changeless Christ: The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 1914-2014 is now available on the ALPB web site. Since I am the author, this is shameless self-promotion, but I think you would find it an interesting read.

Our own Forum participant, Charles Austin, writes: “Hoping to make the Lutheran church better known in America, a small group of pastors and laymen formed what would become a major player in the history of Lutheranism in the United States. Richard Johnson’s detailed and insightful history of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau shows us the dedication, struggles and intrigues of the ALPB, which–although not a church body–had an impact on every issue and struggle that American Lutherans faced in the 20th Century.”

David Scaer at Concordia Theological Seminary: “Sooner or later any church has its para-ecclesiastical groups to address concerns which its leaders have not. The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (ALPB) was founded to bring the mostly German-speaking Missouri Synod into the 20th century. A plea for cultural change evolved into a call for change in theology and practice. Changing World, Changeless Christ provides a fascinating look behind the scenes to see how Missouri Synod and then ELCA members responded to the decisions of their churches and worked to change them.”

Mark Granquist at Luther Seminary: “Like many excellent books, this one’s importance transcends its declared subject. No doubt that this is a fine history of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau—it certainly is that. But beyond that, this book is also a thoughtful and penetrating history of Lutherans in America in the twentieth century, as they made the transition from immigrant communities to full-fledged American denominations. The leaders of the ALPB were also leaders in American Lutheranism, and Johnson’s excellent book gives us a deep insight into their lives and times.”

Several online forum regulars make at least brief appearances in the book, among them Charles Austin, Peter Speckhard, David Benke, John Hannah, Erma Wolf. Maybe you, too, but you won't know unless you read the book.  ;)

512 pages, $16.00 + postage 
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Dave Likeness

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Re: Changing World, Changeless Christ: The ALPB, 1914-2014
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2018, 04:09:28 PM »
@Pastor Richard Johnson

The ALPB publishes Lutheran Forum, a quarterly journal.  According to Richare Cimino  the paid circulation
declined from 5,200 in the late 1960's to about 2,700 by 2001.

What is the current paid circulation in 2018 for Lutheran Journal/Lutheran Letter?

P.S. I subscribe to both
« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 04:11:07 PM by Dave Likeness »

Charles Austin

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Re: Changing World, Changeless Christ: The ALPB, 1914-2014
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2018, 04:12:00 PM »
Dave Likeness writes:
What is the current paid circulation in 2018 for Lutheran Journal/Lutheran Letter?

I comment:
Not enough.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Richard Johnson

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Re: Changing World, Changeless Christ: The ALPB, 1914-2014
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2018, 07:41:41 PM »
@Pastor Richard Johnson

The ALPB publishes Lutheran Forum, a quarterly journal.  According to Richare Cimino  the paid circulation
declined from 5,200 in the late 1960's to about 2,700 by 2001.

What is the current paid circulation in 2018 for Lutheran Journal/Lutheran Letter?

P.S. I subscribe to both

Thank you for your subscription.

The last figure I saw was for 2016, and it was approximately 1750. Put that in the context of the general decline in circulation for print media of all kinds. Magazines and newspapers are dropping like flies, in part due to the popularity of electronic media. Add to this the decline in Lutheran membership (obviously the audience for the publications), and you see it's a tough journalistic world.

And the reality is that Lutherans, perhaps mirroring Americans in other respects, have become increasingly polarized, so that the audience for publications that one might describe as confessionally "centrist" (which I think would be a fair characterization of the two publications) is also increasingly limited.

But the ALPB has faced issues like this in the past, and has managed to hang on. I think the story of how that has happened is a fascinating one. Why, this book is currently my bedtime reading, even though I've read every sentence now dozens of times!
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Changing World, Changeless Christ: The ALPB, 1914-2014
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2018, 11:14:56 PM »
And the reality is that Lutherans, perhaps mirroring Americans in other respects, have become increasingly polarized, so that the audience for publications that one might describe as confessionally "centrist" (which I think would be a fair characterization of the two publications) is also increasingly limited.

Interesting.

I always considered ALPB to be very right of center confessionally and liturgically, which was why I became a subscriber and a staunch supporter of FATS, a set of which was always the parting gift to Teaching Parish students.

Full disclosure:  I have allowed my subscription to lapse, finally heeding the advice of an Orthodox Abbess: "don't look back, don't be like Lot's wife".   Now that the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation has come and gone, it is time.
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Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Richard Johnson

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Re: Changing World, Changeless Christ: The ALPB, 1914-2014
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2018, 05:44:37 PM »

I always considered ALPB to be very right of center confessionally and liturgically, which was why I became a subscriber and a staunch supporter of FATS, a set of which was always the parting gift to Teaching Parish students.

Full disclosure:  I have allowed my subscription to lapse, finally heeding the advice of an Orthodox Abbess: "don't look back, don't be like Lot's wife".   Now that the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation has come and gone, it is time.

Terms like "left" or "right" or "center" are always quite contextual. When I say ALPB has been generally "centrist," I mean that in the context of the entire Lutheran world, from the conservative wing of LCMS and even WELS, to the left wing of ELCA. If you are looking at ALPB from the context of the ELCA, it probably appears conservative. If you are looking at ALPB from the context of the LCMS, it probably appears liberal. Over the first part of its existence, it was generally considered the "progressive" wing of LCMS. When it became consciously pan-Lutheran in the 1960s, and especially after the founding of the ELCA, it was generally considered "conservative."

But, as Neuhaus once remarked, "so much for conventional thought slots."

In terms of "liturgical" position, for decades the ALPB was an advocate for liturgical reform; I would say that it's primary goals (weekly Eucharist, regular reception, liturgical integrity) were pretty much what was envisioned by the LBW. Certainly now, without changing those perspectives, it appears "conservative" in the face of the devolution of the liturgy in so many ELCA (and some LCMS) parishes.

As for "not looking back," I would think your regular participation here is much more akin to Lot's wife than simply reading a theological journal like Lutheran Forum. I'm sorry you let your subscription lapse.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Charles Austin

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Re: Changing World, Changeless Christ: The ALPB, 1914-2014
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2018, 03:50:02 AM »
Yesterday I received my copy of the book by our Esteemed Moderator, and it is a handsome publication.
     Of course, I had read the whole book in digital "galley proof" form (my blurb commending the publication is on the back cover), but it is good to have the final product. There are pictures and the appendix with short paragraphs on ALPB leaders and editors is a fine addition, reminding us of the progressive and dedicated leaders of ALPB history.
    As a perceptive historian, Richard has identified and charted many things that even those of us who lived through some of those times might not have spotted or remembered.
    In my radical downsizing, I am keeping a shelf of what I consider "critical" history books, references that I want on hand should I need to check some historical event or development. Changing World, Changeless Christ will be on that shelf.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Russ Saltzman

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Re: Changing World, Changeless Christ: The ALPB, 1914-2014
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2018, 01:09:11 PM »
Changing World, Changless Christ, in brief, is a remarkable history of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau. Equally, it is a history of American Lutherans in their denominational manifestations over the past century. The ALPB became a significant part of my life first as a pastor, then an occasional contributor, and ultimately editor of Forum Letter.

It was also, as I told Richard Johnson, something of a visit to Nostalgia World with a short stop at Melancholic Village.

That was largely due to the names of those now deceased, prominent in ALPB history, people in the ALPB who became guides, mentors, friends; even some fine critics, now gone. I do not like reading biographies for that reason – I become friends with the subject and then, damn, he dies. For the ALPB names given to my memory, I shall ever thank God that I knew them and was blessed by their proximity.

There was nothing inevitable about the ALPB and it publications. It was conceived to address a need that wasn’t even acknowledged, the need to transition from German to English, to explain to American society what was then an invisible collection of congregations. From that the ALPB exposed other equally unacknowledged needs among Lutherans in America: liturgics, church cooperation, confessional renewal, others. Its influence, my estimation, always far exceeded actual readership.

There was no reason, Neuhaus once told me, Lutheran Forum and Forum Letter should not have 10,000 subscribers. True. That those publications never reached the Neuhausan vision is merely an instance of more unacknowledged needs, I’d guess. Making those needs evident, as well as answering critics who do not in the first place even recognize them, is what the ALPB does, and along the way produces remarkable things. Richard Johnson tells it well.

I have not posted on this forum since becoming Roman Catholic, but I read it. Maybe you need to know, for the record, I have not heard one Romanist sermon that could not pass my innate Lutheran smell test for gospel grace. I’ve heard some bad sermons badly delivered (a risk we all run wherever) and some very good ones delivered well, but nothing that would send me bolting from the building.

For those who wonder, I write regularly for Aleteia.org https://aleteia.org/author/russell-e-saltzman/, a Catholic web magazine, as well as, now and again, for the diocesan newspaper. I also teach adult catechism (RCIA) for folks entering the Catholic Church, and distribute communion weekly to a nursing home for resident members of the parish. You can find me on Facebook as Russ Saltzman. But if you're girl evidently friendless and with no mutual friends, you won't hear from me. 
Russell E Saltzman
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