and the word after that

Seriously, this is the last time I am going to bring this up, but the questions surrounding Ed Dobson’s year of living like Jesus made the lead story in the Grand Rapids Press this morning.  You can access an online version of the article here: 

I am quoted near the end of the print article (apparently blogs are public things that newspapers access for information).  Given that the article is about Ed’s attempt to live like Jesus, it is ironic that the author included the subtitle of my book, “Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough.”  I certainly didn’t have “living like a first century ethnic Jew” in mind when I came up with that subtitle, but perhaps this is what postmoderns mean when they say that the meaning of a text changes according to its context. 

The juxtaposition of my subtitle with Ed’s journey made me laugh, until I realized that I am now living proof for the reader-response theory.  Makes me want to turn in my union card (yes, every worker in Michigan belongs to a union; thanks for the bailout!).  







9 responses to “and the word after that”

  1. A Layman Speaks


    To me this entire episode is a reminder that “living like Jesus” when made a spectacle for entertainment, is a journey that is laden with pot holes, landmines, and general misunderstanding. I am quite confident that Ed Doson started on his journey to live like Jesus as an attempt to go deeper with the master he has served for many, many years. Sadly, by going public with it much of what others could learn from his experience has been lost or distorted. – This is not necessarily Ed’s fault.

    When the Grand Rapids Press or Good Morning America or any other news outlet gets hold of this kind of information, of course they will focus mainly (only?) on what fits their agenda. “Conservatives” like yourself, or Dr. Stowell, or Cornerstone University are cannon fodder for the desire to paint christianity as narrow, biggoted, uniformed (dangerous?) people/institutions. In a day when any hint of believing conviction is feared and rejected. of course the media will jump on the controversy and deliver back as much damage as they can.

    My greatest wish is that this sort of intramural exchange could result in true growth in grace for the entire body of Christ. I wish for it to be a learning opportunity for the students at Cornerstone University, and an opportunity to speak clearly to the media and the world about just what following Jesus is all about. Don’t Stop Believing – in a day when many people believe anything or maybe better stated “nothing”.

    Oh and just to be clear, not every worker in Michigan is a union member.

  2. Sadly, when my wife read the article, she got the impression that DSB was actually written in response to Ed’s year long experiment.

  3. Is it an example of reader-response theory or simply another example of the media using facts out of context to fit their points? Or is the media manipulating facts just another example of reader-response theory? Hmmm 🙂

  4. mikewittmer


    I hope that others didn’t get that impression. Now it’s not funny any more.

  5. Mike:

    Sorry. I didn’t mean to ruin the humor for you. I wanted to underscore the irresponsible way in which the media has handled this entire situation, but I think Steve’s comment does a better job of that. Once again, your advice from the ETS conference applies: don’t say anything.

    If it helps any, I thought your union joke was hilarious.

  6. Layman,

    I agree with you that the media will probably jump at the aspects of a story like this that are the most controversial – that is, after all, what makes it “newsworthy” in their eyes.

    I don’t think it would be damaging, though, if Christians didn’t allow it to be so. This “news” is damaging because we hear it, get bent out of shape, and start to complain and rant about it. I’m certainly not trying to say that we shouldn’t discuss hot-topic issues – I’d by a hypocrite if that’s what I was saying. But I am saying that there comes a point when the discussion can go too far and become destructive.

    So Dr. Dobson decided to vote for Obama because he felt it was the decision that best reflected Christ. He’s not attacking those that voted for other candidates. He’s not saying how other should have voted. Isn’t he entitled to his opinion? And so he drank some alcohol. He didn’t get drunk. He wasn’t under the confines of the Cornerstone lifestyle agreement, so what’s the big deal? These issues really aren’t what some of us have made them to be. If they have done any damage it is not the fault of Dr. Dobson or the media. It is our fault for blowing them out of proportion.

    Was it the media’s intention to do damage? I’m not sure. I don’t know if we can make that call. All we can do is worry about how we handle the information the media puts out there. And it will only be damaging if we allow it to be.

  7. Yooper

    I saw the story. Are you surprised? It would seem that Charles Honey should have confirmed that the statements quoted from the internet’s virtual world were actually your own.

    God has His plans and purposes. I believe this to be true, even if others consider it trite.

  8. ‘I see a bad moon rising’ on this trio of leaders. Remember the HMS John Sanders on the Huntington seas. Be careful Mike lest you get caught in the midst of something that sinks you. These public debates have a down side.

  9. mikewittmer

    Yooper: I don’t think that Charles cited anything from this blog in his article, but only included what I said over the phone.

    Daryl: I think that’s a bit dramatic, as when you step back and look at this story, there really isn’t much to it. I suspect and hope that it’s already blown over by now. At least it’s not an issue to anyone around here. But I take your advice to heart. Even measured words can have a downside when spoken in public, and after this sentence ends I will have nothing more to say about it.

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