Doing penance

I just opened the much-anticipated February issue of The Lutheran Witness. As penance for my procrastination in not writing a letter praising Dr. Siemon-Netto’s November 2007 courageous and thought-provoking article, “On Words and Vocations,” I must comment on the rancorous letters printed in the issue. I believe that the negative comments directed at Dr. Siemon-Netto and his wife were closely akin to throwing a rock and hiding one’s hands.

I found the letters disturbing. We seem to have lost the ability to disagree agreeably, or to formulate a cogent argument without personal attacks. Paradoxically, while the letters were denigrating, the issue’s banner article was entitled “Restoring Broken Relationships,” and “Searching Scripture” mentioned Luther’s explanation to the Eighth Commandment, which directs us to defend our neighbor, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way (Phil 4:8–9).

As a black woman, I know that it’s not what people call you; it’s what you answer to that’s more important (Tyler Perry). But I can also attest to the searing hurt that words can cause, especially to, or about, someone’s mate.

Jan Ellison
Atlanta Ga.


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