Magazine article The Christian Century

Bow-Tied Liberal Protestant?

Magazine article The Christian Century

Bow-Tied Liberal Protestant?

Article excerpt

DURING THE DECADES that I've been writing this column I've had two self-imposed rules: Never engage in literary feuds, since they are odious and boring; and never defend yourself, here or in a letter to any editor. But I can ask questions. Hence, this response to a statement in the Lutheran Forum Letter (November 1999) that says, "It is hard to think of Marty in any other terms than as an open-faced, bow-tied liberal Protestant." May I exercise more imagination and find it easy to think of Marty in other terms?

"Open-faced," says the dictionary, means "without an upper layer of bread or pastry," and I am that.

But why, whether in admiration or disdain, connect "bow-tied" and "liberal Protestant"? I inherited my tie habit from my father, pictured open-Faced and bow-tied as early as 1922, and I share it with my teacher, Daniel Boorstin; my former university president, Edward H. Levi; my former senator, Paul Simon. None of them was or is "liberal Protestant." I do share Simon's liberal politics, but religiously he is a Missouri Synod Lutheran, as was my father, and Missourians tend to describe themselves theologically as neither "liberal" nor "Protestant."

Theologically, surely the Forum editor can think in other terms. Pie-charts of American religion list Episcopalians, Presbyterians and United Church of Christ as "liberal Protestant." I am not any of them, but, like the editor of the Forum, I do or will enjoy "full communion" with them. …

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