Post: Readers Respond

Please find my check for $10.00 to cover the cost of my renewal to Pietisten.

I have enjoyed, and benefited from, the magazine ever since I am given the gift subscription from Mel Soderstrom.

l applaud you and your staff on your good work.

I particularly enjoyed the sermon by Eric Hawkinson in the latest issue. It was worth the $10.00 subscription price alone. It may be of interest to you to know that my entering class at North Park Seminary, 1960, was the last class to have Eric as its homiletics teacher, and the first class to have Wesley Nelson, who came that year and took over.

I am still a North Parker and even a Covenanter at heart, though my ordination is in the United Church of Christ, and I am presently serving a nondenominational, independent community church.

Thanks again for Pietisten. In addition to its quality, it has a certain nostalgic appeal that I enjoy. Raymond Nyquist, Skokie, Illinois.

I appreciated getting Pietisten via Mel Soderstrom's gift subscription. I am enclosing a check for $10.00. Please continue the subscription for another year beyond the expiration date of his gift subscription.

Best wishes to you and other members of the staff of the publication, both in this project and in other ventures. Wesley Nelson, Chicago, Illinois.

Thanks for the copies of Pietisten and for making numerous references in it to Plymouth and its activities. I have already, by the way, read Paul Holmer's article on Heaven and have learned something again, as I always do when I read anything by Paul Holmer.

Thank you again. Vivian Jones, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thank you very much for the copy of Pietisten, which I have looked through with great interest. Naturally I greatly appreciated the passage on me, and I am very pleased if my work has been of use to you. Northrop Frye, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

My allusion to Pietisten's conservative bent is an aside on what I perceive as being an unnecessarily narrow assessment of contemporary social theology. Someone reading your publication would quickly believe that God was a Nordic and that the Holy Land was somewhere near Upsala.

Did you see Nelson Mandela on the Ted Koppel Show? If not, you missed one of the truly stunning political performances of our generation. With a precision in language that was nothing short of dazzling, Mandela educated the American viewing public in the implications of international politics. His defense of the African National Congress' association with, and Mandela's praise of, Arafat, Khadaffy, and Castro was without recall. That our-enemies-must-be your-enemies nonsense was stomped on without mercy. There are few Americans around who are not convinced that the above trio are the devil incarnate and not merely ordinary politicians defending their concept of the world just as Bush does.

To hear Bush on Khadaffy's chemical weapons plant, one would have difficulty believing that the US is one of the principal suppliers of the same, not to mention stockpiler. As for American use of the weapons on the civilian population, the North Vietnamese might have a word or two to say on the subject.

What is of interest, and what Mandela implied, was that at no time has Khadaffy's human rights record vis-à-vis Lybians been raised by the US. What is attacked is his support of terrorist groups, an irony when one considers that the Bulgarians and Syrians, who lead the way in this domain, are not ever mentioned by Uncle Sam in this context.

Mandela's treatment of Israel was masterful. There is something particularly sinister about Israel's longstanding link with South Africa's National Party, the very party that so actively supported the III Reich. Mandela was too tactful to raise this issue. Israel gets three billion US per year in foreign aid and all of Sub-Saharan Africa gets only 500 million. No, Mr. Mandela was very tactful.

Well, sir, I could ramble on. There's Cardinal Ratzinger's latest shot at Catholic theologians making public their reservations on theological matters; or O'Connor of New York threatening excommunication re Catholic politicians on pro-choice, but it's late and I am sleepy. Robert Thompson, Geneva and New York.

Regrets for the death of Walker Percy, too bad! I wish for Pietisten to publish an excellent sermon from Tim Sporrong called "Dead Preachers Society." Runar Eldebo, Lidingö, Sweden.

have always enjoyed Pietisten meetings when comments from the letters of Robert Thompson are read. Their reading sparks discussion with good humor and gratitude for his distinctive voice among ours. Thompson is part of the reason why it is so much fun to put this little journal into the larger world. So, I am grateful for his reading and written critique [Vol. V, Summer, 1990, p. 18] of my article, "Herod" [Vol. IV, Winter, 1989, pp. 1-4].

In this critique, however, he suggests a confusion in my mind, which I cannot leave unanswered. He is correct when he writes that he is working from memory and not from the article, which remained in Islamabad. The lack of present text may have left him confused about the "murky waters of pedophilia/homosexuality," but my article left no confusion. I do not equate the two, and I did not confuse them in the article. Let me be even more specific. I do not regard homosexuality as a sexual disorder, as such. In this sense it seems to me to offer the same potential for blessing and brokenness that hetero-sexual orientation offers to other persons. The sexual abuse of children is another matter. And the anguish that follows in the lives of the abused cares little if the abuser is Socrates or the Uncle who visits on Christmas holidays. And, frankly, I don't care either.

In addition, I do not damn the person I was counseling — but I also do not deny the anger I felt in hearing his story. Both anger and non-judgment must be present to validate the other person and what they have come to confess, as well as to offer presence and hope in that journey of facing oneself and the persons one has abused. I hope you will re-read the conclusion of the article, Robert. Luther's comment reveals clearly the intent of the Gospel to be radically inclusive so as to include each of us. But that inclusivity cannot be used to avoid the hurt at the center of these dramas. It seems to me that this is one result of the narrative structure Matthew constructs around the birth stories.

We could, as has been done many times, equate Herod with rulers like Richard the Third (though even Shakespeare's imagination could hardly pull off such an allusion) and call the elimination of political rivals the natural act (and understandable?) of a man whose power is threatened. We could even eliminate the narrative as historically suspect, as you would urge us do.

Or, we might discover that, in the madness of that night when children died, the lover of children was born. Herein lies the mystery and hope of the Gospel. If you find the wandering copy of Pietisten on route to Bangkok, you might re-read the article and send off another letter. Perhaps it will refresh your memory. David Hawkinson, Contributing Editor.