We've gotten an interesting response to the current issue of Leadership, which deals with ministry amid a sexually charged culture, and which we titled "The Drive." Those who claim to get the journal for its articles have been overwhelmingly positive. But a number of subscribers can't get past the cover. Leadership's editor Marshall Shelley has some explaining to do.
The cover photo is a detail from the famous statue of Pallas-Athena that stands in front of the Parlament building in Vienna. Athena was the war goddess of ancient Greece, but also worshiped as the goddess of wisdom. The Viennese statue was erected as a tribute not only to Athena but also the four rivers that were once a part of the Austrian Empire: the Danube, Elbe, Po, and Vistula.
But it was neither the pagan inspiration nor the implied endorsement of Austrian imperialism that caused some of our readers to object. It was a bared marble breast that was visible on the statue.
"For those of us who have trouble with visual stimulation, what should I do with the cover of your magazine?" wrote one subscriber. "Consider also, where I should keep my magazine out of view of my 8 sons. . . . ?I will set no vile thing before my eyes.' You might do better leaving pictures out and sticking to articles."
Wow. I can assure you that when our editorial team brainstormed cover possibilities, we weren't looking for creative ways to be vile. We were trying to communicate at a glance several things:
1. Christian leadership has always been practiced amid sexually charged cultures.
2. Interest in sex is common ground between Christians and non-Christians.
3. The gospel has important things to say about sex, but we need help articulating them in a way the culture can appreciate.
We didn't ...