It has come down to the final 460 words (the length of these missives). This is my last column as editor of The Lutheran. I’ve made some of the points that follow over the years, others are new. Here are 10 of my top takeaways after 10 years as editor.


  • Don’t judge The Lutheran by just one article in one month. That’s simply unfair.
  • For certain matters such as publication of denominational notices, The Lutheran serves an official purpose in the ELCA. It’s not, however, “official” in the sense that every word, photograph or advertisement carries the endorsement of the ELCA or represents its “official” position.
  • You’ll find uplifting elements even in articles that by their subject matter appear to be negative. Articles can be filled with reports of congregations taking positive action to face their challenges. Consider the full article.
  • The notion of scarcity vs. abundance is gaining currency in the ELCA. No one wants to focus only on the negative. That’s a prescription for defeat. An abundance worldview can also run amok with unending happy-happy-happy. Let’s not deceive ourselves either way.
  • Quotes are used in articles with the understanding that readers will or should know they are that person’s opinion. The question for The Lutheran is: “When do we — should we — shift gears from journalism to apologetics?”
  • Civility is a concept that appears to be waning. If not me, listen to Martin Luther King Jr. on this: “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
  • It’s been said that alcohol removes the thin veneer we call civilization. Ditto the Internet. Heed Martin Luther’s admonition: “The most dangerous sin of all is the presumption of righteousness.”
  • Then there’s Luther’s explanation to the eighth commandment: “[W]e do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead, we are to come to their defense, speak well of them and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.”
  • We do so much more together than separately in the ELCA. We confess one holy, catholic and apostolic church. Congregations are part of something bigger.
  • I salute the people who, over the past decade, helped make this magazine happen. God bless them all: Megan Brandsrud, Kathryn Brewer, Bette Bruce, Barbara Fletcher, Elizabeth Hunter, Kathleen Kastilahn, Andrea Kulik, Jeremy Ott, Curt Peterson, Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Julie Sevig, Sonia Solomonson, Joel Stombres, Erin Strybis and Michael Watson.

Finally, I leave you with the Scripture verse I hold most dear, Romans 8:38-39. I intentionally ask that you look it up — to keep that Bible near.Goodbye, dear readers. It was a privilege to be your editor.

Daniel J. Lehmann

I am a lifelong Lutheran with decades of experience in secular journalism. Like many of you, I’m interested in the theological and historical roots of our faith and how that plays out in the contemporary world. I want to know what our church members and leaders are thinking, what other Lutherans are doing, how religion in general influences and is impacted by culture.
My favorite reading materials are newspapers, specialty magazines and non-fiction. I work hard, but never skip vacations in order to regroup.
I’ve been blessed with a spouse of 40 years, two children and seven grandchildren. My church is a focal point of life in Chicago. I answer my own phone, and respond to e-mail and letters (but usually not spleen-venting tirades).
And I'm a fan of the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls, as well as the Art Institute, Field Museum, the lakefront and Millennium Park. Chicago's my kind of town.

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