Volume XXVIII, Number 1
In This Issue
How might Pietism — so often derided for anti-intellectualism — shape and sustain the work of education? One thoughtful answer came from Donald Frisk, dean of North Park Theological Seminary. In 1963, Frisk wrote this working paper for the Covenant’s education commission.
When the revival preacher Carl Olof Rosenius died prematurely in 1868, many of the thousands of people who had come to depend on him as a teacher were doubtless at a loss for how to proceed. In this moment of crisis, two women stepped in to offer their services in processing this great loss, as well as to begin to explain the significance of Rosenius’s life and point the way forward for the revival movement.
In a recent letter from my nephew Mark Nelson, he described an experience that he had nine years ago. At that time he was working as an accountant for a firm in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. On his way to work he encountered a young woman who was living under a bridge. Michelle, the 18-year-old under the bridge, was a runaway and addicted to meth. Unfortunately, there were many others like her, homeless and suffering with a variety of personal and social problems. Mark realized the distress of these young people and was moved to leave his job and to initiate a ministry for youth, which today is called “Freedom for Youth Ministries.”
Twice this past winter I went to the front of a church and felt a thumb gently inscribe the sign of the cross on my forehead. Twice I heard words of blessing murmured over me. Twice I returned to my pew with eyes moistening with tears.
At first glance this may seem an odd combination of books for a review. Peter Brown is a magisterial scholar of late antiquity, Garry Wills, one of America’s most important “public intellectuals,” and Wendell Berry, a Kentucky farmer, poet and storyteller. Brown’s book is a dense but rewarding exploration of changing views of wealth and poverty in late antique Christianity (AD 350-550). Wills’s is a jeremiad against the Roman Catholic views of the Eucharist and the priesthood. Berry offers another collection of his wonderful short stories. Brown and Wills at least have St. Augustine in common — he figures prominently in both books. But Brown is focused on Augustine’s views of poverty and wealth and church and state, while Wills is more concerned with his Christology. Berry makes no reference to the great North African.
Recently Bryan Leech, a cherished friend of many years, called and engaged me in conversation around a number of our common interests, mostly of music. As a composer of 17 hymns in the Covenant Hymnal out of a collection of some 250 hymns and anthems, our conversation has never lagged. His purpose in calling, however, was to speak about a festival of worship and hymn sing held last year at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles where two of his hymns were sung with organ and orchestral accompaniment.
When Ellen Modin gathered with forty teachers and seven preachers in Salt Lake City at the Congregational Church on April 2, 1885, a reporter from The Salt Lake Herald referred to her as “Miss Modin, the Swedish lady missionary”—a title descriptive of her whole life. After serving in Utah, she returned to Minneapolis where she founded a school for female evangelists and a rescue shelter for women and children. She lived a missional life.
I WAS MOVED! That’s what the button says anyway. It hangs on my purple winter coat, and I am continuously surprised by how many people ask me about it. The weird thing is… it’s a lie.
If you are ever in New Mexico and driving across the Rio Grande on the steep highway from Santa Fe up to Los Alamos, you should look to your right, just as you cross the river. Sitting on a level spot on the west bank, near some shallow rapids, “where the river makes a noise,” there are three old abandoned adobe buildings, none of them much larger than fifteen or twenty feet square. At an earlier time, a narrow gauge railroad, “the Chili Line,” ran from Santa Fe up to the Colorado state line. In those now abandoned buildings at Otowi Crossing, next to a bridge that carried the tracks over the Rio Grande, once lived Edith Warner, an Angla who had come west for her health in the 1920s.
I was what some might derisively call a “disciple” of Paul Holmer (d. 2004) for three years, toward the end of his life. Retired from Yale, where he taught in both the University philosophy department and the Divinity School, Holmer returned to his Swedish Pietist roots for one month each year to teach the December term at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, where I was a student.
The town of Lindsborg, Kansas was home to me until age 21. A town that can well speak for itself, Lindsborg nonetheless deserves many accolades for its contribution to my culture. There were difficult years, including the premature death of my father, Fritz Train, in 1929. We then experienced the Great Depression, the drought and the dust bowl years of the 1930s.
At one time it can be assumed there were no “Pietists.” Did the first Pietists set out to form a movement? How did these pilgrims determine their next moves? Was there such a thing as some organizational “road map” moving them forward? How could, or did, they determine whether they were making progress or success?
This is a chapter in Phil’s upcoming book, Funny Stuff in the Bible, to be published later this year. Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. www.wipfandstock.com
Dr. Timothy Johnson awarded the Order of Lincoln
It’s difficult enough to predict what athletes will do next, but the real sports guessing game is with the suits.
Muriel lent her skills to Pietisten. She set up our former filing system. For years, Muriel teamed with Elder and friends to address and put stamps on Pietisten mailings. She was truly competent. Kindness and gentleness were Muriel Lindahl trademarks. If you did not have a chance to see her in action, you might not have guessed what a power house she was.
Elaine Marilyn Pearson was born in Swedeburg, Nebraska, to Victor and Esther Pearson, and grew up on the family corn farm along with two sisters and two brothers. During the Depression, the Pearsons packed up the truck and moved to a new farm in Selah, Washington. Elaine graduated from Selah High School in 1939 and Yakima Valley Junior College in 1941.
North Park Professor Zenos Hawkinson introduced Ed Nelson and me on Spaulding Avenue, North Park College Campus, south of the North Branch of the Chicago River. Headed in the same direction, we fell into step. I knew immediately that Ed was special. I was delighted by his enthusiasm when the subject of Pietisten came up.