Volume XXIV, Number 1
In This Issue
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!
As I write this story, I am listening to Marian Anderson sing “Spirituals.” The songs are terrific, amazing, from the heart, remarkable, fun, and filled rich beyond imagination with metaphors of human life and the life of the spirit.
Lars Arthur Peterson; Oskar James Swanson; Karina Ann Spohr; Kiersti Kelly Joeger; Emily Marie Hokanson; Thora Margaret Anderson
Associate Editor, Dr. Nels Elde, publishes article in Nature; Soccer leads to love and marriage; Missouri Magic
Like any good sermon, Housing the Sacred is not overlong. It’s just 97 pages. The preacher says what he needs to say and then sits down. And those of us who appreciate good preaching want to stand up and cheer! Here is a book on preaching that avoids the academic temptation to dissect the sermon like some unfortunate frog. If preaching is a craft, Glen Wiberg successfully mentors his apprentices with a simple illustration and six sermons that are concrete examples of his own artistry in the pulpit.
Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners is an entertaining book about the importance of the Golden Rule. In the story, Mr. Rabbit gets worried when his new neighbors move in. He thinks he will not be able to get along with them because they are otters and he doesn’t know anything about otters.
…It was on one of those incredibly “blue sky” July days, I set out from the house to walk our own beloved River Road path. I had at least forty minutes of time to myself—to enjoy this wonderful gift of freedom, to fully invest in setting my self free to listen, to observe, to respond to all the sensory images I could drink in at this moment in time. It was exhilarating beyond comprehension, I felt a lightness, nay a giddiness, in this world opening up to me. I was free to walk without the nagging thought that I should be at home with its attendant problems—I was given this beautiful gift, walking without guilt, to only enjoy and experience—and to remember.
Phil Johnson and Mark Safstrom report from the Christianity Conference at Bethel.
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.
Part I My first year at North Park (when dinosaurs still roamed the banks of the North Branch) I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which was worse: not being from Minnesota or not being pure Swedish. In those days to be a mongrel was cause for self-doubt and maybe even a touch of shame. When I got to Augustana after two years at North Park (then a junior college) with my Associate of Arts degree in hand, I discovered it was OK not to come from the Land of Sky Blue Waters, but that it was still a shame not be 100% Swede. Never mind that the Swedish royal family was French (and peasant to boot) or that pushing blond blue-eyed purity had pretty much been discredited during the Second World War.
On the day this is being written I am celebrating (perhaps “observing” is a more appropriate word) my seventy-third birthday. A day for reflection. And yes, a day for thankfulness. Come to think of it, “celebrating” is the right word after all, considering the alternatives.
Bill Holm passed away on February 25th. He was a poet, essayist, and musician, who filled a six foot, eight-inch Icelandic-American frame. His home, when he was not in Iceland, was Minneota, Minnesota, a small town in the southwest corner of the state. And he taught me how to love the plains.
From the time Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President until the Inauguration, there was extensive analysis and interpretation. The feelings and understanding of developments and their history varied greatly. For example, I had a much different understanding of what was taking place than did my sons. Maybe the simplest explanation is my age. When the folks on MSNBC began interpreting what was happening in relation to the Civil Rights movement, I was very alert because I had been a close observer and a “mild” participant in the movement. Feelings are heighten as this is the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination.
This whole experience has been incredible!! We are so lucky to have been able to be a part of it. People around the world have been with our country again feeling hopeful.
he sun set unexpectedly early on Jean’s life, who passed away on Sunday March 29, 2009 at the age of 64. Jean was diagnosed with a rare cancer on March 6, 2009, and declined rapidly. Prior to diagnosis, she led a vibrant life in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband Jim, her church, and her professional work.
Paul Larson, PJ as he was called by many, lived a long and full life. He was born on a farm, Illinois near Paxton, Illinois, on November 10, 1913. He graduated from Paxton High School in 1931. Paul’s father, Philip, a student at North Park in 1899, encouraged Paul to attend North Park. After graduating in 1933, he continued at the University of Illinois where he earned both a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Journalism.
Remembrances from David Sundell and a memorial statement from Robert Dvorak
John was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on December 3, 1918 to Lovell and Mabel Cole. He lived with his parents and younger sister, Shirley, in a modest, loving home in this working class New England town. He was active in the Boy Scouts and his church youth group, and early developed a passionate love of learning.
Out of the whirlwind of things that have been swirling around in me, there are two images that seem to have a distilled fit. Dad’s hands and his heart.
Donald H. Berg, 82 years young, formerly of Worcester, died on Thursday morning, April 30th. His wife of 55 years, Louise May (Rollins) Berg, predeceased him in June of 2008. He leaves his daughter, Jennie Lucretia and her husband John Pagano; a granddaughter, Nina Lucretia Pagano; a grandson, Michael Angelo Pagano, all of Paxton; his brother, John Berg of Maine; his sister, Natalie McNerney of Lincoln; and many nephews, nieces, cousins, and dear friends. His beloved daughter, Nancy Ann Berg, died in 1969. Most proud to be a Worcester native born and bred with Swedish heritage, he never tired of sharing stories of events from the past.
Identification, damage, and control of the squash vine borer.
For me as a child in First Covenant Church, Kansas City, this became my favorite hymn from the new Brown Hymnal in the 30s. I still believe it was the best hymn in that book. The title in the Brown Hymnal was “In the Lord’s Courts.” That’s the place to which we have come this evening as we have sung: “Here in his presence glorious it is so good to be.”
Sometimes I think poetry is a phantom language that communes secretly and, with a clarity so far reaching, it informs the very heart of human expression; it is that place within, where the internal voice has its own soap box. Poetry is that mysterious inner language speaking directly to the soul
In a church last served by our friends, David and Priscilla Norling, we are blessed with many friends. Among them is Richard Fox, a professor of Philosophy at Cleveland State University. He surprised four of us at church when he invited us to enroll for free in a Philosophy class at the University for the spring quarter. It was a class on Ethics (the basis of moral choices). Discussion on ethics and how to make true choices is very relevant to me now!
Most theology students and many others know that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship (1937—1948 in English) in which he described what he called ‘cheap grace’ and contrasted it with ‘costly grace’. He was for the latter. I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s intent and I was gripped when I read his book about 40 years ago. However, I have long disliked the idea of costly grace and I have consistently touted cheap grace because how can anything be as common or inexpensive as grace? I was taught that grace is unmerited favor which is “most certainly true.”
Though improvement has been desired, degeneration has continued. This in spite of a great deal of encouragement and support. A fine crowd of about 50 folks gathered for Pietisten’s Annual Meeting at the Landmark Center in Saint Paul.
My daughter, Violet, has decided to play Tee-ball this year, largely because her friend, Macy, signed up for the team.
Surely God’s word includes the creation of the lives of us human people. Marlys Johanson was one of God’s best words ever and we can see the fulfillment in the life and legacy of Marlys. In her, God’s creation did not return without giving all that is meant by watering the earth and making it yield seed for the sower and bread for eating. Marlys has returned to the love out of which she, and all of us have come. She returns after delivering about all one could expect of actual human life and human love. It is this, her victorious life, that we have the opportunity to praise and bless this day as we celebrate Marlys Johanson.