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I grew up Southern Baptist — and I still attend a Southern Baptist church — but my faith journey has taken me through a lot more wide open ecumenical spaces than the narrow Southern Baptist road. I guess I’d describe myself as “Southern Baptist” in church attendance only. In reality, I’m an episcomethodemerging Christian. (Note to self: Trademark that word.)
My journey out of my early faith, which had a lot of fundamentalist texture to it, happened in the early 90s, once I began reading outside my conservative religious safety zone. I replaced Max Lucado with Brennan Manning. And Chuck Swindoll with Henri Nouwen. And one of the best books I found to really challenge what I believed was a weird paperback book called The Door Interviews. It was assembled by Mike Yaconelli, the legendary editor and founder of The Wittenburg Door, and published in 1989 by Zondervan. Pretty much it was an assortment of snarky interviews with religious heavyweights from the late 1970s and 80s. Serious topics. Real theology. But disguised as light-hearted interviews. The voices here, and their passion for God, really challenged me.
(You can buy a copy of this book for less than a dollar — plus, like, $3.99 shipping — here in the used book section of Amazon.)
That’s what I’ve always liked about The Wittenburg Door (the world’s “pretty much only religious satire magazine,” sort of a Mad Magazine for religious people) — beneath the quippy goofiness and the much-appreciated sarcasm, there was some good stuff. Necessary stuff. Challenging stuff.
The folks behind the Door have been good friends to me, too. Senior Contributing Writer (and fellow author) Becky Garrison has been a friend for several years and introduced me to my literary agent. Senior Editor (and, as a Baylor prof, a legitimate historian) Robert Darden was kind enough to endorse Pocket Guide to the Bible and Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse.
Becky let me know over the weekend that the print publication of the magazine has been temporarily suspended. One of the major backers of the print version is in hospice care, which means the future of the magazine — both its print and online versions — is in jeopardy. The folks who put out each issue are working behind the scenes to raise money to keep things going, mainly in the form of a major email campaign to establish a non-profit board of friends to sustain the magazine at various financial levels — instead of relying, as Becky says, on “a single angel” to take each issue to print. If you want to help The Wittenburg Door stay in business, email doorbus [at] earthlink.net and let them know.
A lot of people who aren’t comfortable in a regular church maintain some form of faith by reading The Door. I know it was helpful to me. If you’re so inclined, spread the word, send some money, and do whatever possible to keep The Door from closing.
Hey! See how I made that clever pun? That’s some genius stuff right there.