IVP Academic’s Ministers of a New Medium was named the best major publication by the Concordia Historical Institute (CHI) at its fiftieth annual Awards Banquet on November 2. Every year, the CHI Awards Banquet honors scholars from across the nation—even, in some years, across the globe—who are moving Lutheran history forward through their research and publications.
In Ministers of a New Medium: Broadcasting Theology in the Radio Ministries of Fulton J. Sheen and Walter A. Maier Kirk D. Farney explores the work of two groundbreaking leaders in religious broadcasting: Fulton J. Sheen and Walter A. Maier. These clergymen and professors—one a Catholic priest, the other a Lutheran minister—each led the way in combining substantive theology and emerging technology to spread the gospel over the airwaves. Through weekly nationwide broadcasts, Maier’s The Lutheran Hour and Sheen’s Catholic Hour attracted listeners across a spectrum of denominational and religious affiliations, establishing their hosts—and Christian radio itself—as cultural and religious forces to be reckoned with.
Farney examines how Sheen and Maier used their exceptional erudition, their sensitivity to the times, their powerful communication skills, and their unwavering Christian conviction, all for the purpose of calling the souls of listeners and the soul of a nation to repentance and godliness. Their combination of talents also brought their respective denominations, Roman Catholicism and Missouri Synod Lutheranism, from the periphery of the American religious landscape to a much greater level of recognition and acceptance. With careful attention to both the theological content and the cultural influence of these masters of a new medium, Farney’s study sheds new light on the history of media and Christianity in the United States.
“This dual biography offers compelling portraits of Fulton J. Sheen and Walter A. Maier, each of whom had a rare ability to both cultivate and communicate theological insights,” said Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, University of Notre Dame. “Pairing these media sensations—one Catholic, one Lutheran—allows Farney to tell a story about religion and radio in American culture that is even broader and more interesting than the sum of its parts. In an age when many lament the corrosive effect of new media on faith and morals, the efforts of Sheen and Maier to harness emerging technologies in service of their respective faith traditions offer not only an interesting story about America’s past but also a measure of hope for its future.”
Concordia Historical Institute (CHI) is the Department of Archives and History for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. CHI exists to trumpet the treasures of the Lutheran legacy. In addition to its activities as an active archive open to the public for research, CHI also seeks to increase the awareness and appreciation of the church’s history within the LCMS through maintaining two museum exhibits, recognizing major publications on Lutheran history, and sharing the story of the LCMS and her faith with the world.
For a complete list of IVP award winners, visit www.ivpress.com/award-winners.