Out and About

by Phil Anderson

Once again, for this reporter, I have been out and about a lot since last issue. The copy editor and I travelled to the East Coast of the United States where we stayed more than two weeks. We spent time in the lakes and mountains of New Hampshire and in the ocean at Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

Wellfleet is on the arm of Cape Cod that reaches north. The ocean beaches of Wellfleet face directly East. As you stand looking out at the ocean, you are looking directly at Europe, three thousand miles of water away.

Wellfleet beaches are about in the middle of the great 28-mile sand beach that runs from Eastham on the south to Provincetown on the north. Henry David Thoreau walked this beach twice, the first time in 1849. He wrote an account of his walks, and his impressions of the places and the people are recorded in Cape Cod.

The copy editor and I spent hours in the ocean, catching rides on the waves. Using "boogie boards," we could catch rides perhaps as long as 50 yards. I was slightly dismayed that the copy editor caught more and longer rides than I did.

I discovered once again how uncontrollable the ocean is. This is a good experience at a time when I have begun to think that the earth and seas are part of a small globe that humans control and exploit, like a homestead or a machine, and when I'm thinking that I have things under control. In that vast Atlantic Ocean, no one controls the waves, the tides, or the currents.

One time we found ourselves in a spot about 75 yards off-shore where the currents swept us this way and that, and we had difficulty holding our ground. Another time we were on a boat to another part of the ocean to watch whales where they feed. Who could feed those huge creatures or tell them what to do? Unfortunately, humans could kill them all, but never could we provide for them.

I can impose on the ocean my understanding and knowledge of it. That is, I can more or less make sense of it to my personal satisfaction, but that, imposes nothing on the great ocean itself, It ignores me as I ride its waves.

It has struck me, as I have thought about it, that the same is true of the diversity of human life. It has been impossible to impose a particular order or way of life upon all the earth's diverse peoples. There are lives and currents of experience that will never be subject to control or to acceptance of the way I think or the way others insist upon. Missionary efforts, religious or secular, that have as their goal the conversion of all people to a particular point of view are doomed to failure.

In fact, under the present economic forces (another great area that eludes control but the waves of which some people ride with great success) more, rather than fewer, people are outside the net of control. More and more people, even in the United States, are becoming poor. People all over the world are involved in clashes of interests and, to this point, they cannot be persuaded to stop. The English-speaking Canadians resist the French-speaking Canadians; Native Americans struggle to regain their land and culture in the US and Canada; black people on the verge of gaining political standing fight each other in South Africa; Iraq invades Kuwait and the nations of the earth, including Arab nations, prepare to fight with Iraq; the Israelis and Palestinians fight each other; and Lebanon has been tom apart and Beirut despoiled, to name just a few clashes.

Meanwhile, I live in Minneapolis. My family is healthy, I have a job, we have all the resources we need for food, clothes, and fun. And, I hope it will last. I hope all these violent, uncontrollable currents won't affect me, the lives of those I love, or my country, negatively.

At Cape Cod, we swam safely in a tiny edge of the ocean, not needing to worry about what the sea was like elsewhere and only slightly troubled by the realization that the beaches of Cape Cod are slowly retreating, forced back by the onslaughts and endless washing of the ocean.

Now, I delight again in the firm ground and the nice safe life on the banks of the Mississippi River in the middle of the country, and I hope the changes and conflicts around us in the world won't spoil the plans I have for my life.

I am reminded of Rev. Edward Hill, preaching at a Covenant Mid-Winter Conference in Northbrook, Illinois. He stood there saying, over and over again, "Temporary, temporary. Everything in life, everything in this world is temporary," he said, as he put his fist against the solid, new brick wall to the right of the pulpit.

Temporary though our vacation was, it was none-the-less enjoyable for that. Our hosts along the way included Jean Eckblad and Tyra Andersen in Massachusetts, the Teeds and Prescotts in New Hampshire, the Holbrooks in Wellfleet, the McNaughtons in their wonderful old (1727) home in Cromwell, Connecticut, and Les and Eleanor Strand — the beloved "Bishop Emeritus" of the East Coast Conference and his wife — in Harwichport on Cape Cod.

From Dr. McNaughton we learned that, as a result of the work of the Covenant Commission on Interchurch Relations, there will be Covenanters attending the Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Australia in 1991. Money is being raised now to help North Park Seminary students pay the expenses of a seminar taught by Dr. Burton Nelson, which includes attending the Assembly. The students will join Bob McNaughton, who will attend on behalf of the Interchurch Commission. These people will be the observers — the eyes and ears of the denomination — at those proceedings.

Bob McNaughton mentioned the newly published history, Unity and Freedom: One Hundred Years of the East Coast Conference, by Paul Day, Pastor of Bethlehem Covenant Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. I was reluctant to leave Cromwell without a copy but the East Coast Conference Office was closed, Thanks to the generosity of Paul Bergstrom, a resident of Covenant Village of Cromwell and a son of Salem Covenant, Worcester, I left with a copy. Paul sold me his autographed copy. He claimed he could replace it easily. I hope that has proven true. Obtaining a copy is easy. Just call Covenant Bookstore — 1-800-621-1290. The price is $9.95. Getting the author's autograph will not be as easy nor will getting a copy the same day.

Unity and Freedom is informative, thoughtful, and well written. Paul Day deserves thanks for all the research and writing that has gone into this volume. It is a job well done. Included in the book are many photos of interest.— PJ

Sport Report

Text: "Bodily exercise profiteth little." Paul of Tarsus

Motto: The real game is the game you are in.

Once again, hopes and interest arise along the northern shores of the Mississippi River and throughout its northern basin about the prospects of the Minnesota Vikings. Thoughts and feelings that have lain dormant throughout the spring and summer begin to awaken as we watch pre-season games.

The spirit of concerned criticism makes itself heard in loud exclamations, and sometimes harsh language, around our TV set. Can Wade Wilson do the job? Will the Vikings learn how to use Herschel Walker effectively? Is the defense still the best? These and many other crucial questions face us with growing intensity in this region.

At the moment (early September), Minnesota Gopher football is not worth thinking about, the once-proud World Champion Twins are going for 90 losses, the North Stars are in shambles, and the basketball Gophers and the Timberwolves are not yet in action. The Vikings are all we've got.

Even the Pietist Vikings of Bethlehem Covenant, Minneapolis, are out of mind. They failed to field a softball team and are facing the coming basketball season with uncertainty. Can they put a team on the court that will challenge once more for the City-Wide Championship — and capture the theological ascendency that goes with it?

On all fronts, uncertainty prevails.— PJ

See all articles by Phil Anderson