Saturday, February 20, 2010

DayStar Publishes a "Reader"


I recently received a copy of A DayStar Reader, dated this year and edited by Matthew Becker. As a follower of the website (although, as many will note, certainly not a supporter!), this volume was received with intrigue and curiosity as to the direction of this decade old movement. It seems odd, however, that the official DayStar Network site fails to note such a significant contribution. In fact, as noted before by the Northwoods Seelsorger, the site remains 'stuck' on Easter 2009, showing no new postings now for the better part of a year.

The volume appears to mainly contain an anthology of past articles previously published on their website with some possible new material and now offered in printed form with the purpose of spurring "the reader to further reflection." Dr. Becker describes this collection as "a kind of '95 Theses' for the contemporary LCMS." "As with those original sixteenth-century theses," Becker writes, "the desire is to encourage debate about matters that we think are important. We are publishing them here, not because we necessarily want to argue or to create disunity in the synod, but because we think these are matters that are directly related to the mission of the church in our time and place and that they therefore deserve our critical attention."

TheDayStar movement reasserts its mission here as recapturing the true spirit of the Missouri Synod while challenging narrow-minded views now outdated and perceived as detrimental to the future of the church. The ideal for a synod, they assert, is "unity in diversity," as opposed to those, Becker states, who "cling to the Pieperian monolithic ideal that is intolerant of even the slightest doctrinal variation." How one defines "the slightest doctrinal variation," of course, remains open to debate, as in the very next paragraph he also notes the DayStar community's ongoing interest in women's ordination. "Many in DayStar are troubled that the question of the ordination of women is itself apparently beyond open discussion in the synod," Becker writes. The articles published in the Reader openly call on the church to "rethink its position on this matter."

The area of "doctrinal variation" is again tested in the last section as additional authors once more challenge the Synod's position on Creation by extolling the seemingly irrefutable virtues of Darwinian Evolution. I find it interesting that while they plead for issues of longstanding doctrine to be open for change and debate, the area of Evolution is seen as settled. Challenging whether Evolution is even a valid explanation for the origins of the universe and of life is seen as anti-intellectual. So much for openness.

At the end of his introduction to the volume, Dr. Becker finally answers the question as to the origin and meaning behind their curious logo as seen at the beginning of this post: "When Dr. Stein asked the now-sainted artist Del Kaustermeier to create an identity for the online lisserv he suggested the design include a golden, cruciformed star set above a field of deep blue cyberspace. Del included a micro chip, also crossed with that cruciformed star, to symbolize how all of the Daystar messages (now over 100,000) are sent and received through the marvels of computer science." Interesting.

Dr. Becker finally notes that not all the contributors necessarily agree with one another on all the matters discussed in this volume. However, he also notes that this is a kind of reflection of the Synod itself. "Nevertheless, all of the authors here agree that there can and ought to be more room in the synod for discussing these and other contemporary issues in a more open manner, without fear of retribution for raising a perspective that might differ from the synod's official position." One should never close the door on discussion, even with those with whom we differ. However, does there ever come a point in the official church when Truth can be proclaimed without the need to question it one more time? The fear of this writer is that the direction that DayStar would take us is little different than what we see right now in the ELCA. As far as we can see nothing seems sacred and beyond debate within this denomination, even the Gospel itself. The lines Daystar would draw, if they would draw any at all, are simply those of a general Gospel, not so different than what those in St. Louis attempted to do back in the 70's. When the Early Church gathered in colloquium to debate matters of doctrine, their goal was not "unity in diversity," but a unified common witness that would stand against the ever changing tides of human sinfulness. We can only hope for the same, but not if the direction of Daystar is eventually adopted.

For those who would like to secure their own copy of this volume for review, the information inside the Reader suggests writing to Matthew.becker@valpo.edu.

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