As a student in an ancient Scottish university town I spent some weeks one winter carrying on a heated correspondence with myself in the local newspaper. Using an imaginative range of pseudonyms, I was indignant, offensive, patronizing, curt (“the dastardly attack made on me last week by Remember Lot’s Wife is not worthy of my reply”). Then others joined in, some seriously, before a fellow student who is now a missionary in India wrote to claim he had seen the Great Auk a few miles up the coast, and signed the letter “Joseph Butler,” resident at the local seminary. The editor was neither ornithologist nor theologian, dutifully published the letter, and was promptly set upon by an irate seminary principal who pointed out that both bird and Butler had long been extinct.
Ever since I have felt sorry for that editor, and never more so when I myself did a stint of editing and had to cope with the caprice of readers and correspondents. The burden was made doubly hard because my lot was cast with the religious press. This issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY is dated the first of the year, a time of seasonal vulnerability to zany resolutions, so how about a civilized proclamation of 1971 as Be Kind to Editors Year? I make this proposal in no sycophantic spirit. The editor of this journal has had no warning of it, and I write entirely as a private citizen.
C. H. Spurgeon used to advise young men not to enter the ministry if they could help it. Similar counsel might be directed to those contemplating religious journalism. They should ponder instead more placid professions such as exploring outer space, sailing solo round the Horn, or walking a beat in Chicago. The fact is that where their publications are concerned, evangelicals are chronic ...1
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