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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, January 02, 2005
    Busting idols
     


    There is a sainted man wearing a chicken on his head on the cover of the new edition of The Wittenburg Door. This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows the mag and knows the man.

    The man is the late, loved Mike Yaconelli, of course, who founded The Wittenburg Door in the early 1970s. A magazine which almost uniquely combined religious humour and satire and interviews with cutting edge theologians and Christian authors, which they now say, "made it a mandatory feature in seminaries and church libraries, read and debated by literally dozens of pastors, priests, seminarians, and lay-people." In a recent press release the publisher Ole Anthony tells us,

    The magazine's editorial mandate was best typified by the early motto, "To believe greatly, it is necessary to doubt greatly." Popular features in the '70s and '80s included The Green Weenie Award, Brother Biddle, Dogs Who Know the Lord; Truth is Stranger Than Fiction and Yaconelli's meditative "Back Door" column.

    A few years ago they shortened the title. But this month they've reverted to the famous original. "Every time I'd be introduced somewhere as the publisher of The Door," Anthony said, "someone would pipe up, 'Hey, didn't that used to be The Wittenburg Door?' Or, 'Whatever happened to the old Wittenburg Door?'" So I'm throwing in the towel. Beginning with the January/February 2005 issue, we're going back to our old moniker."

    If you know yer Luther then you know that you don't spell "Wittenburg" like that. It was a mistake. But Yaconelli claimed that no one noticed the error until the fourth issue and by then it was too late to change. Typical of his sideways slant on all things spiritual.

    It's well over a year since his tragic death but the relaunched mag is full of stuff about Yaconelli. "In a sense, this is our belated tribute to Mike," editor Robert Darden said. "Mike and Karla were the heart and soul of The Wittenburg Door. We hope that we're keeping his spirit alive in the magazine. Mike was all about following the biblical commandment to 'bust idols.' When the magazine is true to its roots, that's exactly what we do best."