There is more than one way to censor things that we don’t like or remove things that offend us. Just recently a Bible class for 1st graders was cancelled because of a group of atheists who claimed that teaching the Bible to little children is “child abuse”. I am told about the myriad of things that offend me on radio and TV and in the movies and on the news that I should turn it off. That is a form of censorship. I censor what I don’t like by not listening, watching, or reading. Others censor what they don’t like by judicial force or political attack.
A host of articles on the Presidents trip overseas focus on his handshake (about five seconds longer than normal), jostling for position in the picture line, and facial expressions of the folks that he is visiting with. I learned nothing about the substance of the trip but I learned that somewhere there is a standard time limit for handshakes, a polite way to cut the line when a photographer is trying to set up a picture, and a catalog of expressions for faces that tell us a lot about the person we are sitting next to rather than saying anything about us. I wish there was a catalogue of the kind of pathology present in the fools that write these articles but that misses the point that the article itself is a form of censorship. Rather than stating the facts of who, what, when, where, and why, the writers engage is a form of petty psychological analysis and so I will no longer read those authors. So they censor what I read by writing foolishness and I censor myself by no longer reading. The circle of ignorance grows.
I just found out about one of my favorite books, “The Hammer of God” by Bo Giertz, was censored in a way that I would never have known since I don’t read Swedish. I used to visit with a women who was fluent in Swedish and she had read Giertz in the original. She mentioned that she always loved a passage that described the setting of a sermon and how the women in the pews had placed lavender branches in their hymnbooks. I searched and searched and could not find the passage. Then I found out that the English translation has been extremely abridged or perhaps censored. There are many wonderful sermons and theological discussions in the book that make for fine reading for a confessional Lutheran, but many more that simply were changed or left out to reduce what some would call the argumentative and judgmental nature of the discussion. I may be wrong but if I understand what is left out or down right changed it seems to be an attempt to make the book less conservative oriented. The separation of the various Lutheran bodies over not only scripture but sociology might have been the reason but who knows. Had the passages remained intact we might understand the weird necessity in parts of Minnesota and North Dakota of having two Lutheran churches across the street from one another, or a covenant church and a Lutheran church 1/2 mile apart that pretty much share members. If it was censorship, to what end? Why would the translator want us to miss that beautiful image of worshippers with lavender branches in their hymnbooks?