Earlier this week, I heard my third report of President Kieschnick’s video presentation to district conventions. I couldn’t believe it. Apparently the video presents Kieschnick as the “Music Man” who declares there is trouble in River City. I can only hope that Kieschnick forgot the details of the movie as it’s a really, really bad comparison for him to make.
A pseudonymous someone who saw him and the presentation at an earlier convention submitted an analysis that I’d like to share with you.
In the Music Man by Meredith Wilson, a traveling salesman, con man, known as Professor Harold Hill comes to the town of River City, Iowa. He claims that he can train children to be musical if they purchase their instruments from him. However, as soon as he has received the money and delivers the instruments, he leaves town without training the children or forming a band. He is a charlatan who doesn’t deliver on what he promises. When Professor Hill arrives in River City, he sees a billiard hall and declares, “There is trouble in River City” – a game with fifteen balls is the devil’s tool. However, the only “trouble” in River City is really Professor Harold Hill, a man who doesn’t deliver on what he promises.
Ironically, at the District Conventions, President Kieschnick presents a video of himself, as the “Music Man” who declares there is trouble in River City, that is, the Missouri Synod. Apparently, President Kieschnick identifies with Professor Harold Hill. The parallels between the District Video and the Music Man are prescient. In the video President Kieschnick declares the trouble facing the Lutheran Church ranging from the moral decay of society, religious pluralism, lack of denominational loyalty, declining membership, etc. In a portion of the video, the President proclaims, “There is trouble in River City.” Presumably, the President, his leadership team, and the restructuring proposal will provide the answer to Missouri’s trouble.
Just as in the Music Man, one of the main sources of “trouble” in River City is Professor Harold Hill himself, i.e., President Kieschnick. It is not that the items the President identifies are not problems facing the church; it is more that the proposed solutions cannot address them since the real problem has not been addressed. The real problem is that the theological challenges facing the LCMS are not addressed by structure or leadership theories and methodologies. Talking about the gospel is not the same as proclaiming and delivering the gospel. Supporting law based solutions that seek greater control as in the current restructuring proposal will not provide unity for Missouri but only create more trouble for Missouri.
By the end of the Music Man, Professor Harold Hill’s love for Marian, the town librarian, causes him to come clean when he leads the River City band. Harold Hill is redeemed and the musical ends with Harold embraced by Marian. May President Kieschnick follow suit and be redeemed, falling in love again with the church of his Father’s, the Missouri Synod, leaving behind the trouble he has brought her.