Compulsory Satisfaction

Unresolved labor disputes can have a devastating effect on an economy in a time of crisis, and therefore many authorities have called for a law requiring compulsory arbitration of labor disputes. It must be an almost overwhelming temptation for politicians and bureaucrats alike to make compulsory anything (such as arbitration) perceived as good. The practical difficulty lies in the fact that the labor unions do not necessarily perceive arbitration as good.

Perhaps, to gain proficiency in the increasingly important area of compulsion and to accomplish other worthy ends as well, government should try its hand at making something a little less ambitious than wage arbitration compulsory. One of the chief areas that has been neglected is that of personal satisfaction. (We speak, of course, not in the general sense of satisfaction as mere gratification of appetites or wishes, but in the specialized sense of satisfaction for insults.)

An important study by the noted German sociologist Erwin Kochtopf entitled Genugtuung und Gesellschaft (Satisfaction and Society) has revealed that in modern society the two chief sources of dissatisfaction (in our specialized sense) are politicians and the media. Often it is not so much the politician who originates the insult but a reporter or columnist. Art Buchwald has frequently been reproached with giving offense, and similar if less flattering things have been said about media figures as diverse as Jack Anderson, Nicholas Von Hoffmann, and George Washington Plunkitt.

Our proposal is simple: amend the laws pertaining to libel and slander (unenforceable anyway) so that everyone in politics and the media is permitted to say whatever he wishes as long as he is willing to give prompt satisfaction, upon request, on the field of honor. As has been customary with the affaire d’honneur, the choice of weapons could be left to the person obliged to give satisfaction, but some regulations would probably need to be made to prevent the choice of frivolous or ineffective weapons, such as blueberry pies at four paces.

Objections that “satisfaction” might violate the law pertaining to murder and manslaughter could be forestalled if the duels were conducted in bedrooms; this would place them under the protection of the Supreme Court’s doctrine of privacy.

Whatever the disadvantages posed by the introduction of compulsory satisfaction among politicians and media persons, they would surely be outweighed by the inevitable sudden flowering of gentleness, tact, and even mutual flattery. There would be casualties, of course; a few old columnists might find it hard to change the habits of a lifetime and sooner or later would insult someone they couldn’t out-duel. But progress is never without its price.

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For So Long

Thanks to Meg Woodson for her stunning “He Loved Me—He Loved Me Not” (Oct. 11). It is so haunting, so moving, so beautifully written—a short masterpiece I’ll remember a long time.


Juneau, Alaska

Thought Food

I appreciated Allen J. Harder’s “Evil and the Short Run” (The Minister’s Workshop, Sept. 27). Speaking out of his own experience, he gives us some valuable food for thought.… I would join the author in opposing any that would point the accusing finger at those in distress, but it does seem consistent with scriptural teachings such as Hebrews 12 and examples such as Job and Paul that God can use such circumstances to help us grow spiritually.

If the major concern is the personal implications of these short-term evils, we will often search in vain for comfort. God’s plan for our lives also involves other lives and what he desires to accomplish in them—we see this as we view Jesus on the cross, Stephen facing martyrdom, and Paul in prison.

First Wesleyan Church

Willow Grove, Pa.

I felt let down after reading Harder’s article.… His mistake is, I believe, in regarding afflictions as enemies. They are not enemies, but friends sent to us by a loving God. As far as Jesus’ doing good to people is concerned, it must be remembered that his miracles were performed for the specific purpose of convincing the people of his day that he was the Messiah whom God had sent. They are, therefore, not to be regarded as demonstrations of God’s general and usual dealings with men.

East Cleveland, Ohio

On Measuring Up

Periodic reminders of the ground yet to be covered in improving ministerial salaries in the various churches are always appropriate (Editorials, “Pastoral Salaries Still Lag,” Oct. 11). However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that low wages in the past have helped keep out of the ministry those whose only interest was in a high income, prestige, [or] a “soft” position.… As we improve ministerial salaries, let’s also take care not to make the ministry such a sinecure as to invite into it those whose dedication and sincerity would not measure up, but who ought to seek other vocations in the first place.

Grace and St. John’s Lutheran Churches Ohiowa, Neb.

Tv’S Label

After reading “Where Is Television Going?” (Footnotes, Oct. 11), can we come to any other conclusion than that future historians will label the sixties and seventies as the period when “sin was made respectable”?

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Windsor, Ontario

Garbled Gifts

In the editing of my story “Presbyterian Church in America: In Quest of Name and Niche” (News, Oct. 11), the meaning of the assembly’s action in respect to the issue of special gifts of the Spirit became a bit garbled.

At issue was the wording of a paragraph in the church’s constitution which originally referred to “… extraordinary officers, endued with miraculous gifts, which have long since ceased,” language which rather flatly excluded all possibility of special gifts.

The assembly adopted language which read, “… officers and gifts related to new revelation [italics mine] have no successors.…” The qualifying phrase, omitted in CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S summary of the resolution, is necessary in order to keep the new action from being understood as simply a reiteration of the original language.


The Presbyterian Journal

Asheville, N. C.

Large Or Small?

The interview with J. A. O. Preus, president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (Oct. 25), contains a factual error on the part of Dr. Preus. He states, “At present our seminary at Springfield, Illinois, is the largest Lutheran seminary in the United States and probably in the world.” The Lutheran Witness (Sept. 15, 1974, p. 21) reports the enrollment of Concordia Seminary, Springfield, at 387, including interns. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, lists 191. Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, on October 7, 1974, had an enrollment of 537, also including interns. Luther Seminary is one of three seminaries of the American Lutheran Church.

St. Paul, Minn.

A careful reading and rereading of your interview with J. A. O. Preus reveals that in the entire exchange you printed there is not a single reference to either Christ or the Gospel. It is precisely this pattern of pushing into the background two of the emphases that have always been primary in Lutheran theology that seriously disturbs a good many of us in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod who now bear the label “moderates” and have chosen to identify with ELIM (Evangelical Lutherans in Mission). The main theological issue in the LCMS is not “the authority of the Bible” but the centrality of the Gospel, and if we could only get back to that traditional Lutheran principle we would be a long way toward the healing and harmony we long for in our strife-torn church body.

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Christ Church Lutheran

Minneapolis, Minn.

Your interview with Preus was pure propaganda. First you print a glamour job on Herman Otten, and now this. Whether you know it or not, your magazine has become an instrument in Missouri Synod’s “paper war.”

Holley, Fla.

I certainly hope that the interview with Preus will not be allowed to stand undisputed and unchallenged. Also, I hope that those who read the interview would not be duped into thinking that the responses given adequately represent the positions and actions of either side.… Please, for the sake of fairness and credibility, put the same questions to a representative of the “moderate” side in this struggle.


Salisbury, Mo.

Please give equal time to the evangelical side.


Kingman, Kans.

When we sat in the classes of many of the men who are now casualties of the conflict, we were always under the impression that academic freedom was a reality. The seminary was the place to search, inquire, listen, and discover not only the depths of Scripture but also the interpretations given it by the total spectrum of Christian thinking. Our preparation for ordination vows (scriptural and confessional subscription) was well researched, faithfully taught, and placed within the confines and parameters of Lutheran Christianity.… One cannot quibble with a church body’s desire to preserve and extend the truth of God’s Word as she has understood it. But Missouri’s present entrenchment in doctrinal concern is almost paranoid. Is she honestly deprecating God’s gift of intellect? Or is she afraid that something new might be discovered in the Bible or Christendom which would topple her conception of truth? What a strange commentary on “academic freedom” in the Missouri Synod that our own Lutheran Witness will not print “letters to the editor” which would either support or conflict with President Preus’s “With One Voice”!


Zion Lutheran Church

Mitchell, S. Dak.

Pro Tem.

Thank you for your news story of the Lausanne Continuation Committee (“Lausanne Follow-Up,” Nov. 8). You indicated that I am the executive secretary. However, I hold that post only in relation to those planning for the January meeting of the committee when the permanent officers and staff will be elected.

Prospect Heights, Ill.

A Personal Application

The timely, excellent article by Richard Watson, “What’s Wrong With Preaching Today?” (The Minister’s Workshop, Oct. 25), found a responsive cord in my heart. As I read it, I thought of the response so many laymen say after a sermon: “The ones who should have heard that were not here today,” when in fact they needed it themselves.

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Even though I use strictly an expository didactic method with an evangelistic zeal, I know I have to do better!… It is my wild guess that fewer than 10 per cent of evangelical (and almost no liberal) preachers use a method of preaching that expounds the Word so that their listeners actually learn more Bible content! (Both from what I am told and what I have heard, too often the text chosen is merely a pretext!) I, for one, intend to more closely analyze my own preaching because of that article, but I am sadly confident that most of my brethren who really need exhortation will say, “What a fine article, but it doesn’t apply to me.”

The Free Methodist Church

Monrovia, Calif.


In the November 8 issue of Newly Pressed (The Refiner’s Fire) the lyrics for “The Sacrifice Lamb” should have read “His blood on the altar a stain.”

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