Volume XVI, Number 1
In This Issue
As the crow flies, Vashon Island is about five miles from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. But don’t let that fool you. The only way on and off the island is by ferry. You can board an auto-passenger ferry in Tacoma at the Point Defiance dock from West Seattle, another auto-passenger ferry loads at the Fauntleroy dock, a passenger only ferry leaves from downtown Seattle, and if you are coming from the Olympic Peninsula, you can get on another auto-passenger ferry at the Southworth dock.
The other day Wally Bratt told me that he was reading By One Spirit by Karl Olsson for a second time—a good book, he acknowledged. Several days later he reported that after finishing the book he went back to look at all the pictures. "There was not a single smile on any of the faces of those old Covenanters," he said. I began thinking what this might mean.
During this year, Swedes are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Fredrika Bremer’s birthday. Fredrika had a life-long interest in human development, especially of women, and in the moral and spiritual advancement of society. Her "everlasting sermon" was how much good there is in people, and how much care each must take to call it forth. "Self-improvement must never stand still," she wrote in her diary. Its an on-going process.
In the spring of 1969, at the age of 12, I asked my parents’ permission to transform a 10-foot by 15-foot area of lawn into a vegetable garden. After peeling back the sod and turning the earth with a shovel, I granulated every clod of dirt by hand. Preparing and planting that garden awakened me to new perspectives. To this day when I consider Jesus’ words, "…the smallest seed planted in the ground…yet, when planted, becomes the largest of all garden plants," in my mind’s eye I see the towering sunflowers I planted that summer and am humbled.
Some cues to the character and customs of Covenant founders might be observed in the slightly different appraisals made of Henrik Schartau (1757-1825), a Swedish cleric associated with one of the spiritual movements preceding the revivals of the nineteenth century. He was Dean of the cathedral in Lund and an influential preacher and writer who opposed lay preaching and conventicles and was critical of some aspects of pietism.
These scholars had collectively produced Swedes in the Twin Cities, which was selling like hotcakes. The book is co-edited by Dag Blanck, the Director of the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College, Rock Island, and Philip J. Anderson, Professor at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago.
The Greatest Generation is a great book, one of the best! The reason I enjoyed it so much was that Brokaw writes so well, introduces us to some authentic individuals and seems to capture the character of this time period in our history. In the same book you get history, biography, autobiography, romance, tragedy, and triumph. I encourage everyone to read this inspiring book.
Several months ago, in a somewhat foolish burst of philosophical bravado, I began reading this book with an eye to reviewing it for Pietisten. As a neurologist, I looked forward to diving into Dr. Damasio’s thoughts on consciousness; he is a preeminent neuroscientist and popular thinker and writer on this subject. In addition, although I do occasionally darken the doorway of a church, I always try very hard to be a thorn in the side of those of mystical and warm-fuzzy religion. I hoped this book would provide some easy barbs to toss at my theologically-oriented friends.
Character is dead, its time has passed, writes James Davison Hunter, after his wide-ranging examination of the condition of moral education in this country. It is a serious and earnest judgment. Hunter does not think it proper to speak of a "crisis" in moral education. For two centuries, he notes, it has been said that we are in a moral crisis, so there is nothing special about our time. The fact is, however, that the unfolding of our moral culture resists all human efforts to change it, oppose it, or manage it. What we can say is that "America in the twentieth century witnessed a profound transformation in its moral culture, and this transformation has significant consequences for the moral socialization of the young."
Simon’s Family, A Novel of Mothers and Sons by Marianne Fredriksson, Ballantine 1300 KS, 1999. 306 pp. $14 paperback.
Ruth was not one for sentimental talk. She disdained tears she sensed were not authentic but she responded with love and generosity to those in need or in pain. She was a person with a tough mind and a tender heart. We hope this poem portrays her spirit and liveliness.
My father was born at home in a snowstorm. On February 11, 1922 Joseph Melburn Soneson came into the world in the Baptist parsonage in Lake Elizabeth, Minnesota.
I first encountered Melburn Soneson as a Freshman at North Park College. That was 1956, his first year at North Park, too. He was teaching Introduction to Social Science. I was intimidated as well as fascinated by both the teacher and the course. Mel stood there at the podium talking, smiling occasionally, and sometimes breaking into a hearty laugh. He was discussing things that I, a Freshman from International Falls, Minnesota had never thought about.
Summer is here and so are the box office smash hits. First in line is Pearl Harbor starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Beckinsale. It is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Michael Bay (The Rock and Armageddon). This lengthy, big budget movie can be broken down into three parts. The first hour-and-a-half is a hokey love story between Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale. It is filled with corny teenage humor, horrible dialog, and one-dimensional characters. It is almost unbearable to watch.
Wedding Bells in Luanda; Pietisten Mountain Climbers
In the last issue I spoke of the imagery of blood in Covenant hymnody and how it reflects the centrality of the atoning death of Jesus in our theology. While the Hymnal Commission did not include the hymn by William Cowper, "There is a Fountain Filled with Blood," it was not because it isn’t a good hymn nor because it is blood thirsty but because in a literal-minded culture like ours, it could be misunderstood by many people who would be repulsed by the very thing they need most.
Ever hear of Moe Norman? He’s a Canadian golfer who at age 71 is still considered (even by Snead and company) as the world’s greatest "ball striker." A recent article in a magazine carried a story on his growing up with an autistic problem. Belittling golf as a "sissy" game, his father forbade him to play the game, breaking up his clubs to make his point. Young Moe got around this by hiding another set under the old front porch.
Perhaps you have noticed a pianist sit for a few moments collecting herself or himself before going into action—before hitting the notes. Once started, there is no turning back. I wonder whether those are moments of letting go or times of high concentration during which the pianist mentally reviews the music. I think it is the former because there is not enough time for a complete mental review. The performer must proceed trusting memory and practice.
Six people were inducted into the Viking Club Athletic Hall of Fame at Anderson Chapel on the North Park campus. This writer had the privilege of presenting his favorite two—Bob Bach and Ivar Wistrom.