Author Topic: Johnson's book  (Read 1247 times)

Russ Saltzman

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Johnson's book
« on: February 16, 2018, 01:55:52 PM »
I am re-posting this from another thread because the other thread wasn't getting any traffic, and I want people to know my regard for Changing World, Changeless Christ by Richard Johnson.

The book in brief is a remarkable history of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, largely because it is also 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 seminarian, then as a pastor, then as an occasional contributor and, ultimately as 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.

The latter was due to the names of those now deceased, prominent in ALPB history, people who became guides, mentors, friends to me, even some fine critics, now gone. I do not like reading biographies for that reason Ė 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 to my life.

There was nothing inevitable about the ALPB and its publications. It was conceived to address a need that wasnít even acknowledged, something to aid the transition from German language to English language; 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. The influence of ALPB publications, my estimation, always far exceeded actual readership, and produced more friends than opponents.

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, I'd guess, an instance of more unacknowledged needs. 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.

A couple notes about Johnson's the book that caught my attention; well, just one thing, the disbursement of index references. The lines of index references to myself are 5. Lines of index for Neuhaus, also 5. Lines of index for my daughter, Hattie, 1. Lines of index for Paul Hinlicky's daughter, Sarah, 2. I have no idea what any of it means; I just started counting. Richard might care to explain it in a second printing.

I have not posted in 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. Iíve heard some bad sermons badly delivered (a risk we all run wherever) and some very good ones delivered well, but never anything that would send me bolting from the building.

Nowadays, 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 at a nursing home for resident members of the parish. Minor note: diocesan priests gathered in September for a review of Martin E. Marty's biography of Luther. Contact: You can find me on Facebook as Russ Saltzman. But if you are obviously a young girl and evidently friendless, you won't hear from me.

Peace and God bless, Russ
Russell E Saltzman
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email: russell.e.saltzman@gmail.com
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Dave Benke

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Re: Johnson's book
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2018, 06:47:22 PM »
I am re-posting this from another thread because the other thread wasn't getting any traffic, and I want people to know my regard for Changing World, Changeless Christ by Richard Johnson.

The book in brief is a remarkable history of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, largely because it is also 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 seminarian, then as a pastor, then as an occasional contributor and, ultimately as 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.

The latter was due to the names of those now deceased, prominent in ALPB history, people who became guides, mentors, friends to me, even some fine critics, now gone. I do not like reading biographies for that reason Ė 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 to my life.

There was nothing inevitable about the ALPB and its publications. It was conceived to address a need that wasnít even acknowledged, something to aid the transition from German language to English language; 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. The influence of ALPB publications, my estimation, always far exceeded actual readership, and produced more friends than opponents.

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, I'd guess, an instance of more unacknowledged needs. 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.

A couple notes about Johnson's the book that caught my attention; well, just one thing, the disbursement of index references. The lines of index references to myself are 5. Lines of index for Neuhaus, also 5. Lines of index for my daughter, Hattie, 1. Lines of index for Paul Hinlicky's daughter, Sarah, 2. I have no idea what any of it means; I just started counting. Richard might care to explain it in a second printing.

I have not posted in 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. Iíve heard some bad sermons badly delivered (a risk we all run wherever) and some very good ones delivered well, but never anything that would send me bolting from the building.

Nowadays, 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 at a nursing home for resident members of the parish. Minor note: diocesan priests gathered in September for a review of Martin E. Marty's biography of Luther. Contact: You can find me on Facebook as Russ Saltzman. But if you are obviously a young girl and evidently friendless, you won't hear from me.

Peace and God bless, Russ

Great to hear from you, Russ!  My copy of Richard's book is right next to me, and I've only just begun to wade into it. 

I'll check out alateia as well,

Dave Benke

John_Hannah

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Re: Johnson's book
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2018, 09:03:07 PM »
There is no question; Changing World, Changeless Christ: The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 1914-2014 is essential reading to anyone who seeks or claims to understand the Lutheran people of the 21st century. A quality volume of 500+ pages @ only $16.00 is a genuine bargain. For that you can thank the Treasurer of the ALPB, Ms. Dorothy Zelenko. Years ago she asked us to forget "profit and loss" concerns in celebrating 100 fruitful years of advancing American Lutheranism. "It happens only every 100 years", she said. We did. (Almost always Dorothy is quite stingy with ALPB assets so her proposed exception was agreed to readily.) Dr. Richard O. Johnson has truly done a superb job in researching and assembly a vast amount of data into a coherent and readable work. Buy it; go to our home page.

Peace, JOHN
President, ALPB
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Coach-Rev

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Re: Johnson's book
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2018, 10:21:27 AM »
My copy arrived the day I got back from South Carolina last week, but haven't had a chance to do much other than just flip through the pages yet.  (Something about catching up on missed tasks whilst gone has prevented me from doing more...) Although a number of our members saw it sitting on my desk and are interested in it too...
"The problem with quotes on the internet is that you can never know if they are genuine." - Abraham Lincoln

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John_Hannah

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Re: Johnson's book
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2018, 11:10:16 AM »
My copy arrived the day I got back from South Carolina last week, but haven't had a chance to do much other than just flip through the pages yet.  (Something about catching up on missed tasks whilst gone has prevented me from doing more...) Although a number of our members saw it sitting on my desk and are interested in it too...

 :)  There's no reason they shouldn't buy it. The ALPB has throughout its 100+ years been run by lay people and pastors together. (As this history demonstrates.)

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Eileen Smith

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Re: Johnson's book
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2018, 12:13:52 PM »
The book hasn't arrived yet, but working with Donna Roche is always a joy.  She actually emailed to advise that the book would come under a table other than ALPB.   

John_Hannah

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Re: Johnson's book
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2018, 12:30:32 PM »
The book hasn't arrived yet, but working with Donna Roche is always a joy.  She actually emailed to advise that the book would come under a table other than ALPB.

Donna is our star representative! Yes, we contract with a "Print on Demand" company. That has been working well for us (and our constituents in lower prices) for a few years now.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: Johnson's book
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2018, 08:30:24 PM »
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the first published review of Changing World, Changeless Christ appears in the February 26 issue of Christian News. Indeed, it takes up nearly half of the issue. As is Herman Otten's usual practice, the vast majority of the "review" is simply verbatim quotations from the book (way more than "fair use," and no doubt a violation of copyright), illustrated with reproductions of the front and back covers. (Maybe Concordia Historical Institute will sue him for printing a couple of images that I paid them to use. Well, probably not.)

About the book he actually says some nice things. The book "deserves widespread circulation" and shows a "vast amount of research." Of course he says this because he believes the book proves his own conviction that the ALPB is guilty of many sins. But, as John Hannah says, his review will bring in a number of orders.

But if you're too cheap to buy the book, Otten would probably send you a copy of this issue of his publication, and you can read some substantial excerpts that way.  ;)
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Dan Fienen

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Re: Johnson's book
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2018, 10:30:32 PM »
Iíve sent him comments (negative) on several articles heís written over the years.  The most personal (hand typed on a typewriter) and negative response Iíve gotten in return was for the time I critiqued his journalism.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Johnson's book
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2018, 11:55:43 PM »
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the first published review of Changing World, Changeless Christ appears in the February 26 issue of Christian News. Indeed, it takes up nearly half of the issue. As is Herman Otten's usual practice, the vast majority of the "review" is simply verbatim quotations from the book (way more than "fair use," and no doubt a violation of copyright), illustrated with reproductions of the front and back covers. (Maybe Concordia Historical Institute will sue him for printing a couple of images that I paid them to use. Well, probably not.)

About the book he actually says some nice things. The book "deserves widespread circulation" and shows a "vast amount of research." Of course he says this because he believes the book proves his own conviction that the ALPB is guilty of many sins. But, as John Hannah says, his review will bring in a number of orders.

But if you're too cheap to buy the book, Otten would probably send you a copy of this issue of his publication, and you can read some substantial excerpts that way.  ;)


Way back when I was at Wartburg Seminary, professors felt that they must be doing something right if their names appeared in his publication. (They wondered what they did wrong if they weren't mentioned.) You must be doing something right.
"The church Ö had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]