Volume XXIII, Number 2
In This Issue
The question of the place of music in worship settings has been around in the world’s religions for a long time. Currently, the great divide for Protestants is between traditional and contemporary music. Though Pietists give singing a central place in the sanctuary, they do not always agree on how it fits in. In early times, spiritual words put to drinking-song tunes were considered irreverent and jazzy by some. Youth for Christ choruses of the 40s and 50s disturbed parents who liked the old, classic hymns better. In one way or another, the clash between traditional and contemporary music has been, and will be, with us for years and years.
David Mampel, a clown by calling, is known as Daffy Dave. He has entertained and educated children in the San Francisco Bay area for years. His article “The Ministry of Laughter” appeared in Pietisten, Fall 2004. This article is a reprint of an address he gave to The Ethical Society of St. Louis in February.
Ayiera Muthanje Odenyo; Alexander Richard Prescott; Kajsa Ling Stanley-Erickson; Lucas Michael Pietro; Magdalene and Chloe May; Axel Emmanuel Stayko.
Odd Velvet is the story of a young girl named Velvet, who is a true individual. Velvet’s classmates think she is odd. Velvet brings in a milkweed pod for show and tell instead of a doll, like the other girls. She eats things like carrots and butter sandwiches for lunch. She wears hand-me-down clothes. The other children are polite to her, but they keep their distance until they begin to understand her. The more time they spend as classmates, the more the other kids realize that Velvet is interesting and fun to be around.
I hope to never forget the time I was in a congregation and singing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” with sincere, joyous feeling—for the first time in my life. The place was the Episcopal student center on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison. The occasion was a gathering of like-minded Christians from churches in the community. The reason for gathering was to celebrate the announcement of a handful of local churches who had declared themselves sanctuaries for refugees fleeing persecution from United States supported guerillas and repressive governments in an undeclared war in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
It was a Sunday morning. Not a cloud in the sky and the cool breeze from the lake bore signs of an early spring. We were on the road; on the way to the small church we attend every Sunday—a good eight miles away from home. The ride is always enjoyable and whether it is spring or winter we think nothing of the distance.
I had a good experience in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. My wife, Michelle, our daughter, Rachel (21 months old), and I went there to visit my grandma, Thora, who is young for her 92 years. Last year Thora moved into a retirement community in “Fergus,” as she and other locals call it. She lives in an apartment in the portion of the facility inhabited by seniors who are in pretty good shape and can mostly, or entirely, take care of themselves. Thora has lived in the area for 28 years and it seemed she easily knew half the people in town already and had no trouble fitting in. A couple of times during our visit she expressed frustration about not being able to remember the name of someone we ran into. We told her “It’s alright, people understand that gets harder when you’re 92.”
In 1907 Peter Waldenström made a trip to China and wrote about his experiences in Till Kina. I don’t read Swedish but pictures can tell a story. In that way I found the book interesting. As a missionary kid growing up in China, I saw pictures and names I knew from my childhood.
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.
This dissertation by David M. Gustafson is a masterpiece. Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) is the most famous revivalist of the late 1800s. He exercised a deep and lasting influence on the Protestant world, even reaching Swedes. Though he himself was of Anglo-American heritage, never visited Sweden nor any of the Scandinavian countries, and did not speak the Swedish language, he was the outstanding revivalist among Swedish Mission Friends in Sweden and in America. The dissertation examines the effect of Moody’s popular movement on Swedes as they engaged his ideals, beliefs, methods, and subsequent conflicts.
Henry Gustafson, outstanding Professor of New Testament and theologian, died September 1, after several weeks of treasured hospice time with family.
Michael Groh, as his daughter, Alicia, said, “…was all about making a positive difference in the world. He had a very strong sense of social justice. He was a ’60s activist who continued to be an activist his whole life.” By consulting with non-profit organizations whose goals he shared, he carved an independent way vocationally.
Carol Ruth (Lindahl) Jackson, 78, died on December 7, 2008, at Chandler Regional Hospital. She lived in Beechwood, Michigan during the summers and in Sun Lakes, Arizona in the winters.
John Bunyon notwithstanding, Pietists rarely make pilgrimages, save that life itself is one. To trek piously toward some holy spot containing the relics of some holy person may have a whiff of popery about it.
Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is a Midwest native. I missed attending an Aronia Berry Festival at Sawmill Hollow Organic Farms (www.sawmillhollow.com) near Missouri Valley, Iowa, this fall. This is the largest commercial aronia plantation on the continent. So I am sharing excerpts from Jan Riggenbach’s column in the Omaha World Herald with you.
There are three sightings in Christian Music that I wish to report on: “Mystic Chords of Memory: Some Thoughts on Music and Communication in the Evangelical Covenant Church, Past and Present,” “An Open Letter to Covenant Church Leaders Regarding Our Hymnody,” and Royce Eckhardt on songs of Covenanters.
To my mind language has never been more exalted than when Saint John penned the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Language, conversation, letters, emails, communication, poetry, fiction, and other uses of the word or words, therefore, should not be used with lightness or in a thoughtless, uncaring way.
I have often wondered what makes a powerful witness to the faith. Is being very verbal about it the most telling?
“The Kingdom of God is within you,” announced Jesus (Luke 17:21). In certain circles, especially people who call themselves Christian, this statement is said to have absolute authority due to the speaker. Folks who assert acceptance of this authority accept this statement as most certainly true. The question of authority, though, is less important than the truth of the matter. Is it true? Do I have experience of or have in me the Kingdom of which Jesus speaks? Do you? Can you recognize it? What might it be?