Post: Readers Respond

Volume I, Number 1

"I would be interested in reading more on how you understand pietism, historically and currently. What relevance might such an emphasis have for living today? David and Peter give some indication of this, but I think more is needed for your readers." Elder Lindahl, Chicago, Illinois.

"Your concern about using the name Pietisten for your publication is understandable, for names have a Protean quality and get loaded with all sorts of meanings. But you would not have fared better with 'Mission Friend'. We struggled with that as a denomination for years." Karl Olsson, Columbia, Maryland.

Volume I, Number 2

"As long as we' re on suffering' — the theme of Pietisten #2 — there are a few quirks I'd like to add. Speaking for myself (as basically an aesthete in S.K.'s scheme of things) I'd come up short in the suffering department for several reasons: (1) Practically everything I do I like to do — and if not I either stop doing it or else change my attitude toward it; (2) It takes character and/or strong conviction (faith) to be able to suffer willingly; (3) Since the world is basically good, something is out of joint when some heavy 'suffering' is called for — often it is an inauthentic attachment or desire of the self; (4) Is the 'self' real that suffers? (5) Just what is meant by 'suffering' (the old analytical ploy)? I'm not sure. It's different than 'pain' — although pain might be involved — and seems to involve a kind of mental anguish like when I had my right shoulder operated for a tom rotor cuff. The suffering came not from the operation but the eventural realization I'd never be able to throw overhand again which meant I was back to a D class handball player (after directing some of the best years of my life towards trying to learn to play the game well) — ego trip (in part) — and not much chance to play catch with my two great guys, much less run and kick a soccer ball with them. One of the infirmities for me of getting old — one of a number of adjustments we all must make along the way. The great thing is I had my chance — it's now important to see that others get that chance. The 'suffering' (if that's what it is) is almost trivial, but I'm not so sure, if that is what it is, that I'm any better for having gone thru it. I'm certainly a proponent of goin thru 'hard times' but to suffer for suffering's sake doesn't make good sense to me. A willingness to empathetically enter into another's life is very important but to wallow in a situation we can't do anything about borders on the sentimental. The problem is — and here's the rub — we often can do something about it but we aren't sure what that might be or how effective it would be. (6) My biggest problem is the suffering of others, e.g. an abandoned child (its suffering being inevitable) — one reason we live in the woods. I also worry about strains of psychopathology. (7) In a sense I've suffered this letter enough." Carl Blomgren, Vashon, Washington.

Volume II, Number 1

"You've made God (in "God Went Away" ) about 6 inches taller than you, able to lift about 50 pounds more than you and who can throw you a rope when you're in the quicksand." Reginald Johnson, Vandalia, Illinois.

"Your article on Genesis and God as parent (parents?) was interesting. I take exception to your vision of God as somehow benevolent, of course, as it is precisely in Genesis that he seems to me to be the hard-assed SOB. The price of Adam's and Eve's disobedience was extreme and vindictive, hardly the sign of a loving parent. It amounted to an everlasting curse, if you look at it one way. God obviously had a tinge of guilt at the excess punishment and sent his son to rectify things, unsuccessfully, it would seem. Anyway, I liked your attempt and will pass it on." Robert Thompson, Geneva Switzerland.

Volume II, Number 2

"I have enjoyed reading Vol. II, No. 2 as well as the supplement. Here's a topic worth considering, however it might be phrased and framed: to what extent can nonSwedes enter into the fullest meaning and experience of Covenant Pietism without becoming a generic Swede? For example some blacks have become so totally 'white' in style, history and culture that they are no longer black except for skin color. Or to put it another way, can one become a Christian without becoming a Jew first? (We may not be the first to deal with that issue.) If the answer is yes, then what will save us from the errors of Marion?" (a 2nd century Christian who rejected the Hebrew scriptures and has been regarded as a gnostic heretic. Eds.)

"To what extent is the ethnicity and famiTial ties of Covenant Pietism a problem and stumbling block to others?"

"We've overcome much of the problem in our churches but perhaps at the expense of Pietism. Cromwell church is not known as a 'Swedish' congregation (about 25% of the members have a Swedish connection) but neither would the folks here, by and large, call themselves Pietists. Robert McNaughton, Cromwell, Connecticut.

"I had no idea that tribal incest could be raised to such a fine art. The article by Prof. Hawkinson on the origins of the movement is a dazzling display, at least seen by the outsiders. The quotes by Buber were interesting if a wee bit out of context. Many Thanks." Robert Thompson, Geneva Switzerland.