June 16, 2009
Hes a very serious scholar. The German professor Uwe Siemon-Netto holds advanced degrees in theology and sociology. He is director of the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life. So I was not prepared for his answer when I asked him how he organized a protest demonstration outside Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. We needed to attract attention, he said, so, why not go in drag? I burst out laughing. He meant, of course, not seminary professors dressed up as women, but learned profs marching for life in their full, flowing academic gowns. And what a public display they made! They took part in the Forty Days of Life movement during the last Lenten season. Dr. Siemon-Netto wanted especially to show Ph.D.s demonstrating their concern for unborn children. These Lutherans processed from Concordia Lutheran Seminary, where pastors are trained for The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod (LCMS). Monsignor Theodore Wojcicki from the Catholic Kenrick Glennon Seminary of the Archdiocese of St. Louis brought with him almost the entire faculty; they were joined by a Dominican monk from the Aquinas Institute and a Jewish convert to Catholicism.
One hundred years ago, you would never have seen Lutherans and Catholics marching together in Saint Louisor in any other part of the U.S. But they have been brought together by the strongest ties of Christian solidaritythe need to protect Gods gift of life.
Uwe Siemon-Netto has written extensively for German publications as well as those in the U.S. His book The Fabricated Luther disputes the idea popularized by William L. Shirer in his best-selling Rise and Fall of the Third Reich that Martin Luther paved the way for Hitlers anti-Semitism.
Uwe is a strong voice for the unborn. He rejects the idea of collective guilt of Germans for the Holocaust. But he does talk about collective shame of any people who allow the slaughter of innocents to go forward in their name. This is especially a problem for citizens of a democracy, Dr. Siemon-Netto says. Thats because in a democracy, we as voters, as decision makers, are the prince referred to by Paul in Romans 13. We are the national sovereigns.
I had heard about Dr. Siemon-Nettos work for a number of years. A mutual friend had arranged a lunch in Washington several years ago, but our German friend had a heart attack that very morning. I thank God he has been spared to continue his great work.