What I Learned from Paul Holmer: An Anecdotal Report (Winter 2004-2005)
My time with Professor Holmer was pretty limited. In the Fall semester of 1967, I took his class Wittgenstein and Religious Language at Yale Divinity School. In 1971, he graciously accepted the invitation of the Philosophy Department at Millikin University (of which I was a member) to offer a series of lectures on “Happiness.” From those two encounters I learned many things, a few which I am sharing as, hopefully, a tribute to an extra-ordinary scholar-teacher.
Stuff that Lasts for Fifty Years (Winter 2005)
No Cartesian dualism here. When Jesus heals someone, He heals the whole person— mind, body, spirit, whatever!
Tribute to Jim Whitefield, 1936 — 2005 (Winter 2005)
Jim Whitefield, 68 years of age, died on July 6th at the University of Minnesota hospital where he had received a stem cell transplant. It had been hoped that the transplant would counter a rare blood disease. We have lost a good friend and Pietisten has lost a faithful subscriber and admirer.
Tribute to Bruce Carlson: A Sportsman of Unrivaled Metaphysical Aptitude (Christmas 2006)
Although I had been informed of Bruce Carlson’s athletic prowess when he was a scholar-athlete at Minnehaha Academy, until two summers ago when this Journal sponsored the First Ivar Wistrom Memorial Golf Championship at Bay Lake, Minnesota, I had never had the opportunity to witness it personally. The two competing threesomes in this event had a distinctive Pietisten flavor. Editor Phil Johnson and frequent contributors Ralph Sturdy and Willie Pearson were matched against then Navigator and Poetry Editor, Bruce Carlson, Poet Laureate Arthur Mampel, and myself, recently appointed Philosophy Editor.
The 2007 Ivar Wistrom Invitational (Christmas 2007)
Pictured here is the antithesis of the Mets. You are looking at the foursome who completely annihilated the competition to win the Third Annual Wistrom Invitational—by a landslide. As befits the modesty of these champions, the post-tournament banquet was held at the Garrison, Minnesota McDonalds with the incomparably beautiful Lake Mille Lac in the background as a kind of gallery. Three of these players, myself the exception, are the perennial winners of this event and there are murmurings about a possible dynasty in the making. Whatever, we are in perfect concert with spokesman Stengal, “None of us could not have done it by hisself.”
Nels George Akerlund (Spring 2008)
It must have been an extraordinary and strange sight seeing a wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, plus a few in-laws encircling a hospital bed whose rails were decorated with twinkling lights and brightly colored balloons. It must have been an extraordinary and strange sound hearing boisterous musical renditions of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” “When the saints go Marching In,” and, finally, “Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara” resounding in the bedroom where the person being serenaded appeared to be totally oblivious to the celebration.
The Chronicles of a Couple of Pietists in the Mid-East (Summer 2009)
July, 2008: I receive a contract to teach two courses in Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Doha, Qatar. All of my acquaintances ask the same question: “How did you get a gig to teach at a prestigious place like Carnegie Mellon?” “I respond with a multiple-choice quiz: Is it because 1) of my global reputation as a pedagogue? 2) of my international status as a scholar? or 3) my nephew is the Dean of the CMU campus in Qatar? Their answers are all the same. Sometimes, nepotism trumps meritocracy!
The End of the Science v. Religion Debate (Fall/Winter 2010)
In l632, Galileo was placed under house arrest by the Pope. His crime? Corroborating and promulgating Copernicus’s scientific theory that our world is part of a sun-centered universe. His defense? The Church, he noted critically, provided both knowledge of how to move into heaven and how the heavens moved. Perhaps it should stick to the former and forget the latter.
The personal odyssey of Adam, the atom (Fall/Winter 2012)
A man decided to learn how to sky dive. So he enlisted the services of an expert and together they flew to the appropriate height whereupon he jumped out into space for his voyage back to earth. At the proper moment he pulled the ripcord only to discover it did not open his chute. Realizing there was no other alternative, he resigned himself to his inevitable fate.
Jesus’s calling to become a Cubs fan (Fall/Winter 2013)
Jesus does not always speak to his followers directly or doctrinally. Instead, the Bible introduces us to the themes of God’s Kingdom in parables, analogies and metaphors. Its lexicon includes banquets, vineyards, shepherds, pearls of great price, and widows searching for lost coins. All of these resonated with the first century Jews.
Why not a memorial service ahead of its time? (Spring/Summer 2016)
Last September I became an octogenarian. No big deal.
An interview with Dr. G. Timothy Johnson, ABC News medical editor (Fall/Winter 2016)
An anecdotal report on my encounter with an ontological shock (Fall/Winter 2017)
When I was teaching a course in Existentialism at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, a few years ago, I received a card from one of my students quoting Paul Tillich which read “Just to be is to be holy.” As the instructor and also the dispenser of grades, one often wonders if there is an ulterior motive whenever a student sends a salubrious message to a professor. Regardless of the motive, I have never forgotten that quote and at propitious moments have found it useful for dealing with some of life’s less than joyful experiences.