"Is The Wittenburg Door worth it?" the Christian satire magazine asked itself in its October/November 1985 issue as it turned 15 years old. "Have we outlived our usefulness? Could our purposes be better served through another method? Would people take us more seriously if we started matching our socks?"
These concerns were precipitated by a letter from a longtime subscriber, who urged the magazine to turn out the lights because it had lost its cutting edge. "One form of institutionalism is the carrying on of a program which has outlived its purpose," said the reader. "To continue to publish the Door would be to prostitute yourselves."
The "Keepers of the Door" were truly shaken by the epistle. It "caused us to go over the edge into a full-blown, mid-life crisis," they wrote. "It took us awhile but, after hours of deep introspection and soul-searching, we came upon a great truth: The Door must go on. It has to go on for one simple, but profound reason—we need the work." The magazine devoted the rest of the issue to examining mid-life crises.
If its 15th year was the occasion for a midlife crisis, the magazine is gasping for breath as it celebrates its 30th. And now it's really time to pull the plug.
30 Years (Or So) of Nailing It to the Church
In its 30th anniversary issue (the March/April 2002 cover is just a big red "XXX," reveling in its double-entendre), The Door admits that it's fudging the numbers a bit. "It's definitely our 180th issue" of publishing more or less bimonthly, it explains. But chronologically, The Door turned 30 several years ago.
The magazine premiered in May 1968 as a four-page, mimeographed "zine" by Paul Sailhamer and Gary Wilburn (both of whom used pseudonyms). Unlike later incarnations it spelled Wittenberg ...1