Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Latest Christian Chronicle and the Shrinking Globe

The July issue of the Christian Chronicle arrived in the mail a few days ago. A story on the front cover, Scout's death latest in string of tragedies, reminded me of the unspeakable pain in our world. Even those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, says Paul, grown inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. There is a real, undeniable sense in which none of us have been saved. Not yet.

While I wait, I can't help being irritated by the story Teachers quit over music document. It seems that if you're a faculty member at Columbia Academy in Tennessee, you have to sign a document in which you affirm your belief in God as Creator and Jesus as God's son. Fair enough. Columbia Academy is a Christian school. Oh, but you also have to affirm "a cappella singing in worship assemblies" and "weekly observance of the Lord's Supper." And if the congregation you attend happens to host a Good Friday service that includes instruments? Well, read the story and see what you think.

I was glad to see the story OVU steps up recruiting efforts in the Northeast. It would be great to see the number and vitality of the Churches of Christ in the northeastern United States growing right along with Ohio Valley University. Of the Christian colleges affiliated with the Churches of Christ, OVU, located in Vienna and Parkersburg, West Virginia, is the only one that far north and east.

I love the Christian Chronicle. It's one of the few publications I just have to read as soon as it arrives.

Speaking of newspapers, the front page of today's Amarillo Globe-News includes a note from the publisher, Les Simpson. Prices for everything are going up, he says. And that includes newsprint, the single largest expense of the newspaper. So, the Globe-News will no longer provide a full page of stock listings. Instead, we'll get a short list of stocks of local interest. Instead of two pages of editorials, we'll get one. And, last but certainly not least, the comics will also go from two pages to one. I haven't checked to see if "Zits" has been cut. I hope not.

As I read the notice, I was reminded of how the Chronicle recently had to reduce its size because of skyrocketing costs. All this makes me wonder about the future of newspapers.

Got any ideas about that?

15 comments:

Adam Gonnerman said...

Quite a few of us here in NJ consider West Virginia to be no-man's-land, and I don't know what good they'll do us up here. I'll read the article and see if I change my mind.

I'm not particularly here nor there on the teachers quitting over instrumental worship. On the one hand, it is a private school and therefore free to set whatever ridiculous standards it wants. On the other hand, since I thing the whole instruments-in-worship topic is the result of poor hereneutics and a lack of fraternal love, it is a little offensive.

The teachers are welcome to apply to Christian Churches institutions. If they are qualified, I'm sure there's a place for them.

Cost-cutting is happening in surprising ways in the newspaper industry. This morning I listened to an NPR report on how newspapers are outsourcing advertizing design to India, and how a Pasadena newspaper actually outsourced local political coverage to India as well!

The cost of everything is going up. I'm scared to see what my home energy bill is going to look like this month. We've been running the central air quite a bit.

Adam Gonnerman said...

I just checked. From where I live in Kearny, NJ to OVU in Vienna, WV:

Estimated Time: 8.0 hours 5 minutes Estimated Distance: 483.62 miles

That's per Mapquest. Not exactly commuting distance, but if we were okay with moving a bit south it would be an option.

It still makes more sense for us to stick around the NY metro area and study around here.

Adam Gonnerman said...

In that article about OVU, one fellow from Mass. said "I didn’t grow up surrounded by very many Christians." Look, I live in NJ and there are quite a few Christians around here. Most of them just aren't members of a cappella Churches of Christ or independent Christian Churches.

Frank Bellizzi said...

Adam,

About northeastern connections to OVU: the article talks about traditional college students from the NE being able to get to school on one long-day's drive, as opposed to going to Nashville or Searcy.

The theory goes, if northeastern students travel no further south and west than Parkersburg, WV they're more likely to return and help lead churches in the regions where they grew up.

In the church where I preached in CT there is a couple who met at the old Northeastern Christian Junior College, which was in PA. They were from New England, and came to CT to serve very effectively there.

I know that's not much help for you. I hope you will eventually make your way to somewhere like Memphis. But, then, there's important work for you in NJ as well, right?

Best wishes for the choices you'll be making.

Adam Gonnerman said...

Frank,

Thanks for the clarifications. Sorry I'm commenting so much today, but the topics interest me.

OVU might not do my wife or me any good, but if we continue the work with Brazilians and others here for another decade or more, we'll at least have a good option for our kids to go to college. My daughter will be 18 in less than 8 years (shudder). When I went to Harding in Searcy, AR the drive from my parent's house in NE Missouri was just around 8 hours, so at least the distance would be comparable for our kids.

Odgie said...

Frank,

I read the article on OVU and found it somewhat encouraging. What is about our fellowship that keeps it centered in the South?

Frank Bellizzi said...

Odgie, I just think it's a historical thing.

Adam Gonnerman said...

odgie,

I tend agree with Frank that it's mostly historical, but I also suspect that the a cappella churches in the U.S. are only geared towards functioning within the religious climate of the South. They know how to debate their Baptist neighbors, but seem clueless when it comes to people who have no familiarity at all with Scripture. This is not the case overseas, though, so far as I have seen.

The independent Christian Churches have strong northern concentrations in areas with few a cappella Churches of Christ. A friend at Harding once referred to Indiana as a "mission field." There are hundreds and hundreds of independent churches there, but for a lot of folks they don't count.

Adam Gonnerman said...

odgie,

I tend agree with Frank that it's mostly historical, but I also suspect that the a cappella churches in the U.S. are only geared towards functioning within the religious climate of the South. They know how to debate their Baptist neighbors, but seem clueless when it comes to people who have no familiarity at all with Scripture. This is not the case overseas, though, so far as I have seen.

The independent Christian Churches have strong northern concentrations in areas with few a cappella Churches of Christ. A friend at Harding once referred to Indiana as a "mission field." There are hundreds and hundreds of independent churches there, but for a lot of folks they don't count.

Frank Bellizzi said...

Adam, you're right. The a cappella Churches of Christ learned how to be a tradition in places like Tennessee and Texas, at a time when conservative Protestantism was the norm, and where many such groups were in competition with each other.

As you point out, it is that history which has made it a challenge for these folks to effectively take their message beyond the areas where their faith was defined.

More than I can say, I feel sad about the sectarianism that took over a good bit of the Stone-Campbell Movement. But then, I also regret that my Disciple cousins took the path they did.

Regarding the north-south thing, it's a mix. For example, in New England, where there were hardly any conservative Campbellities 60 years ago, the militancy of the non-instrumentalists led them to out-do every other branch of the Movement. Some went as missionaries (the Exodus Movement). Others came to New England compliments of the U.S. military or corportate America. However they got there, the strong conviction they brought with them--that their doctrinal distinctions were differences that made a difference--led them to plant scores of congregations.

Adam Gonnerman said...

The independent Christian Churches aren't very happy about the route the Disciples took either, and among those "in the know" there is a sense of sadness about the continuing division with the a cappella churches.

Steve Duer said...

Frank,

The story on the school and the teachers made the Knoxville paper as the AP picked up a Nashville story. My wife read it to me and I just shook my head. I wasn't surprised, I was just saddened.

For the last 2 1/2 years, we have been a part of an ind. church body. I still largely see my self as "church of Christ" because that is how I identified myself for almost 40 years.

A few Sundays ago, Robert Wetzel from Emmanuel School of Religion came to speak to us about the World Convention happening in Nashville at the end of July. Despite our pettiness, it is good to see those who are striving for Unity among the historical restoration fellowships.

You can learn about the World Convention at http://worldconvention.org/

Adam Gonnerman said...

Steve,

I assume that's an independent Christian Church in Indiana. When I was at Harding in Searcy I dreamed of attending Emmanuel when I graduated. That might have been a better route for me than what I took, but....

I've blogged on World Convention a few times. It's been around for years, but only now is gaining attention among Churches of Christ and many independent Christian Churches.

Dee Andrews said...

Frank -

I wrote a very lengthy comment to this blog post the day you posted it last week because the newspaper business is something very dear to my heart, as you know, with Tom being a newpaper publisher and all.

But, somehow, I screwed it up in trying to get the comment posted here and it disappeared. I was REALLY aggravated because it was such a BRILLIANT comment, of course, and I did not have time to try to re-do it.

But, I wanted you to know that I really appreciated the post and your thoughts on the subject and wanted to tell you to try to be understanding about your local newspaper's situation (in cutting some things).

If you remember, Tom was the president of the Mississippi Press Association this past year and we were just at their summer convention last weekend, where we spent lots of time talking with publishers from all over the state of Mississippi about the state of local newspapers these days.

Local newspaper journalists, as a whole, are really incredible people who take their responsibilities to their communities very seriously, with all of its moral and ethical considerations.

I'm in Abilene this week and was visiting with my niece from Amarillo all weekend, so was thinking of you. She is 23 and working for the Amarillo art museum, which she said is on the campus of Amarillo college, where you are.

Her serious boyfriend may be someone you know. He is Matt Blake, I think it is, who is the young adult minister for one of the congregations there in Amarillo. He's about 30. Do you know him?

Just wondering.

Thanks for dropping by Finding Direction as often as you've been doing and commenting. You've been blogging more, too, this summer, which I've really enjoyed. In fact, I want to read your two most recent posts here this afternoon and get caught up.

Dee

Frank Bellizzi said...

Hi, Dee.

Thanks for taking a second run at your comment here. Sorry the first one was eaten. I know that feeling.

I hope I didn't give off the impression that I was irritated at the Globe-News or the Christian Chronicle. I didn't mean to, because I'm not.

As a regular reader of newspapers (and by that I mean "newsprint in hand")I'm all for them. I'm not as close to the papers as you are, but I've always had a high opinion of the people I've known who have worked with them. I know that many of them work very hard because of a strong sense of obligation to the community. Most of us don't recognize that very often.

Yes, yes, I know Matt Blake. He's with the Central Church of Christ in Amarillo. One very fine guy. He's even been a guest teacher at the Bible Chair.