Hawkinson, David

David Hawkinson, PhD, is a pastoral counselor, Bible teacher, and co-founder of City Gates, a ministry that provides space for interfaith dialogue and text study. He likes to sail on Lake Superior on his boat Tikkun.

Awakening Pietisten: An Introductory Editorial (Summer 1986)

We have gathered, in this spirit, to reopen this forum because searching for this “stream” has been a central concern in our lives. This interest, however, is not a dispassionate curiosity in the history of religious movements. Nor are we motivated by a naive romanticism or sentimentality meant only to conjure up bygone days and warm memories.

Commentary on the Lectionary Text: Galatians 2:11-21 (Summer 1986)

The text is written to respond to the most significant crisis facing the new church communities. That crisis had to do with the difficult problem of entrance into the fellowship of Christ.

On Using Commentaries and Reading Bible (Fall 1986)

In the first issue of Pietisten we spoke about searching for the stream of our tradition and drinking from its living waters. This search leads toward the discovery that this stream is not ours alone but only one part of a remarkable tributary system which is at once diverse and ancient.

Arum: A Study in Genesis 2:7 — 3:24 (Winter 1987)

It is a witness to the extraordinary art of the biblical author that such a profound event is told with such simplicity. Our tendency has been to obscure this with all sorts of assumptions that intrude into the narrative in the form of demons, apples, prophecies and motives all of which are set to the doctrinal music of what has been labeled, The Fall.

Promise and Reality in Jeremiah 31 (Summer 1987)

This prophet, who resisted his summons to warn the people of exile; who wept at the tragedy and who sat down by the waters of Babylon with the broken remnant, is allowed to announce the coming restoration.

Reading Bible: An Introduction to Midrash and Interpretation, Part I (Spring 1988)

Reading the biblical text and its interpretation is as old as the text itself; in fact, this interactive process emerges out of the even earlier oral tradition.

Bible Reading: Part II (Fall 1988)

For all the warfare surrounding the bible, especially when the issues are those of inspiration and authority, the sheer enjoyment of reading the text is rarely taken into consideration. It may help explain why so much of biblical study is so heavy and serious — a condition unsuitable for the Spirit to do its work.

Herod (Winter 1989)

Christmas really is a wondrous time. I like the whole of it. Tradition has chipped in to help stage the drama with characters that have become so familiar they feel like family, living in the creche on the mantle above the fireplace.

Dewey Sands (Spring 1990)

In the summer of l969 the Covenant gathered at North Park College for its annual meeting. It was hot, as I recall, and it was at least 15 years before the gym was air-conditioned. Delegates fanned themselves with programs and folded budgets, escaping whenever possible to George's or Laurie's depending on their orientation — for a cool drink and more meaningful conversation.

A Speck in My Eye (Spring 1991)

I think it would have made a difference if it had been said another way. Perhaps it was the passion behind the statement that fixed it in my mind, like a speck in my eye that hints at its presence by subtle irritation.

Exodus 19 and Behavior Befitting a Covenant (Fall 1992)

These days there is much discussion among evangelicals about behavior. The discussion is cloaked in the language of “family values” and is part of political platforms and rhetoric. The Northwest Conference of the Covenant Church is devoting the theme of its winter conclave to the issue as well. I want to add to this discussion by wondering about behavior that befits people in a covenantal relationship with God. I am not as concerned with the content of this discussion as with the process that underlies living in covenant. It seems to me that how we talk about these matters is as important as what we are actually talking about.

The Service with an Introduction (Summer 1997)

It is important that our children are with us in all of these ventures.

Ethel Victoria Palmberg (Summer 1997)

Like the Dakota soil, she persisted without water or food far longer than one could expect — a tenacious life, formidable, enduring, rich, and deep.

Reflections on the Ascension -- Luke 24 (Winter 1999)

In the memorial service, tucked into the end of the great liturgy of Yom Kippur, a prayer is offered. It is only one prayer among so many eloquent petitions prayed during the Days of Awe. I used to pass by it quickly, fearing that any lingering in its phrases might release unwanted events in the future. Now, for me, the prayer stands out above the many others.

The Making of a Reader (Summer 1999)

For several decades I have been reading Bible alongside others and within other traditions and teaching what I have come to learn in the process. This much I have come to believe: Readers are made in the same sense that reading must be taught.

The Making of a Reader — Part II (Fall 1999)

Some years ago, I had the pleasure of spending time with Professor Robert Sacks at St. John’s University in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In his mind, he was fascinated by many things, but, above all, he was a wonderful reader of the biblical text. In fact, he wrote a commentary on reading Genesis entitled The Lion and the Ass. I am fortunate to have a copy of this unpublished work and have learned much from his reading skills.

The Making of a Reader - Part III (Spring 2000)

A good story must capture our attention and hold it. This is accomplished as much by the artful telling of it as by the content. A good story, told badly, becomes an uninteresting story. In contrast, an ordinary story told well can be very engaging.

The Making of a Reader: Part Four (Summer 2000)

We learn to read Bible in bits and pieces. We begin with individual stories, usually unattached to what happens before and after. This is the way of reading taught in most Sunday School curriculums, confirmation programs, and even the weekly reading and preaching of Biblical texts in worship. As a result, we often miss the narrative flow, the rhythms and pace of the unfolding drama, and the impact of one scene set against another. In the synagogue, by contrast, the entire Torah, the first five books of the Bible, is read once a year in its entirety, beginning to end.

Tribute to Dr. Phil Anderson (Summer 2000)

Whenever or wherever the gathering was or whoever was there at the time, Phil was an intimate part of the occasion. He was fully present and interested. He was alive to the moment, the personalities, the issues, and the atmosphere. He was centered, attentive, concerned, humorous, genuine, and gracious. I want to reflect upon this quality of his life for just a moment.

The Making of a Reader: Part Five (Winter 2000)

A few weeks ago, my first Bible teacher died. He was the Rev. Douglas Cedarleaf. I was fortunate to be in his confirmation class at the time when students had to memorize and then recite in front of the whole congregation, without notes, large portions of scripture. I still take some pleasure in telling new confirmands the rigors they have missed.

The Making of a Reader: Part Six (Summer 2001)

have been reading and teaching from within the magnificent texts of First and Second Samuel for the past several years. Recently, I encountered the incident at the Pool of Giv'on found in II Sam. 2:12-16. I offer this reading into this strange event in order to explore some of its implications, as well as an example to further our inquiry into becoming better readers of the diverse biblical landscape.

Making of a Reader, VII Six Scenes from Matthew 26 (Winter 2001-2002)

The important point is to understand that all placement is intentional and that we must take this into consideration as readers. Matthew 26 is a remarkable example of how attention to this careful placement provides dramatic effect and meaning to the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. In order to highlight this editing technique, I find it helpful to read the narrative as if I were following a play.

The Making of a Reader Part VIII (Summer 2002)

I learned more about reading Bible from Earl Schwartz than any other teacher I have known. Earl has been teaching Jewish studies and Biblical texts to a whole generation of Jewish children and adults.

The Making of a Reader Part IX (Winter 2002-2003)

In the last article of this series, I began to explore the critical dimension of repetition in the making of the biblical text. The presence of deliberate or patterned repetition can be seen everywhere. Martin Buber has been the most helpful in lifting up this literary element, restoring it in his translation of the Hebrew Bible into German. For this reason, I eagerly await each new English translation that emerges from the hand of Everett Fox, who works with both the Buber/Rosenzweig German Bible and the Hebrew text. Fox takes these literary structures to heart as he renders one language into another. The result is often startling and strange to our ears, which are acclimated to a different rhythm and a more lyrical English line. If we watch for these repeated words and phrases, however, there are treasures just beneath the surface.

Relation and Being: Martin Buber’s I and Thou (Summer 2003)

Like a seed that blossoms after a long gestation, some persons take an entire life to grow an idea or theme into fruition. After this fashion, we marvel at the mind that matures toward its fullness in later years, drawing together the threads of thought or creativity until it is a finely woven whole. It also happens that some find the center of their work early in the creative process, leaving the rest of life’s energy to draw out and clarify the implications of the original insight. Martin Buber is the latter.

Reading from the Garden—Genesis 2 and 3 (Winter 2004-2005)

I am writing this little piece the morning after Ash Wednesday Eve, still vividly imprinted on my forehead as a dark, gray smudge. The opening narrative for the first Sunday of Lent is the story of our debut as humans, walking about the garden “at the breezy time of the day,” as I imagine it. It is a wonderful tale, full of curiosities and possibilities, a thousand questions which lead in countless directions.

Reading from the Garden—The Tree of the Knowing of Good and Evil (Winter 2005)

A critical skill in reading bible is learning to notice the physical setting of the drama, its spatial design and presentation. If we assume that the choice of words and their careful placement in dialogue is a deliberate process in the telling of good stories, then, where staging is deliberately indicated we must also take notice.

The Garden Part 4—Aftermath (Summer 2006)

The set changes quickly once the man and woman are expelled from their lovely world of rivers and trees. The text does not linger to reflect on what has just happened. The woman and the man make love and then disappear as through a trap door on the stage floor. The result of this act of “knowing” results in two sons, Cain and Abel.

Tribute to Bruce Carlson (Christmas 2006)

The following is the homily preached by David Hawkinson at the Memorial Funeral Service for Bruce Carlson at Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis, August 6.

Listening for “voice” while reading text (Spring 2008)

Becoming a reader requires that we learn how to speak and listen for the voices that come from within and for the ones that address us. Bible is spoken word more than written word. Reading bible is at heart the practice of genuine dialogue.

Nancy, Sarah, and Martin Buber (Christmas 2008)

Several weeks ago, my wife’s sister passed away—my sister too, since I don’t understand how designating our relation as “in-laws” makes any difference in the depth of love or grief. I loved her. Nancy was 56 years old. She was my sister. That’s that! She was amazing, a person of many dimensions, expressing the whole range of feelings and curiosity; she was feisty, stubborn, full of life and presence. Her eyes sparkled deep blue, especially when she smiled. I would like to reflect upon Nancy and her faith, as part of my own grieving. And, if you know my writing, this will require a biblical text and some Martin Buber.

Making of a Reader: Confirmation and Jesus (Summer 2009)

When I read the gospel of Mark, I feel as if I’m pushed off the end of a dock into the water without knowing if I can swim. Mark doesn’t particularly care about me, as a reader, in this regard. Lacking a formal prologue as with John, or a birth narrative, as in Matthew and Luke—Mark just takes off and we have to find our way. As I’m flailing about, trying to stay afloat, I confess, I actually like this approach.

Awakening Pietisten: An Introductory Editorial (Summer 1986)

We have gathered, in this spirit, to reopen this forum because searching for this “stream” has been a central concern in our lives. This interest, however, is not a dispassionate curiosity in the history of religious movements. Nor are we motivated by a naive romanticism or sentimentality meant only to conjure up bygone days and warm memories.

Irene E. Anderson (Spring/Summer 2012)

A few personal thoughts upon the life and enduring witness of Irene Anderson (while standing on the shore of Round Lake, Wisconsin).

A meditation on birds and Jesus: (Fall/Winter 2012)

I give thanks for knowing and loving, and being loved by this most remarkable person. With joy I bear witness to her faith by inviting the fresh breezes of the gospel word to blow across our tears and lift our feet to dancing.

Tommy Carlson (Spring/Summer 2016)

David Hawkinson's tribute to Tommy Carlson (1938 – 2015).

Shared loss, transformed into compassion (Spring/Summer 2020)

These verses are set in the epic sweep of John’s gospel. The chapters before are filled with rich teaching and a breathtaking diversity of encounters—healing, arguing and engaging in common talk. The eleventh chapter shifts into a long interlude initiated with the news of the illness of a man, a brother, a friend of many including Jesus. He seems unconcerned about the outcome. “The illness does not lead to death,” he says. But, in just a few days the illness takes the life of Lazarus. And so, family, friends, and community gather to mourn. Jesus joins them.

The Making of a Reader (Fall/Winter 2023-2024)

In this article, I am picking up an old thread I began in the earliest days of Pietisten’s “second” life, during the summer of 1986. I named it the “making of a reader,” because I came to the awareness that readers are “made”; we are taught to read, by teachers and other readers, and by the text we are reading. A lifetime of reading the biblical text closely, and in company with others has been a source of continued adventure and joy.