Post: Readers Respond

I enjoy Pietisten very much. Dorothy Lindquist, Erie, Pennsylvania. Thanks for your patience in persisting to keep me on your mailing list. Hope the enclosed will cover me for some of my past due obligation. Thanks, too, for persisting in telling the story. We need folks who will remind us who we are and where we come from, and who can do so with some of Ed Friedman’s “playfulness.” Jerry Johnson, Prince Albert, Saskatchawan.

Enclosed find my check for $30 for three subscriptions. Pietisten continues to be enjoyed. I especially appreciate the thoughts of Robert Thompson re the Persian Gulf War (Readers Respond - Summer ‘91). Thanks. Joyce Gustafson, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thanks to Penrod for allowing us to stand in line with him at the Pop Stand (Summer ‘91). I am one of the many readers who did not have the privilege of sipping some cold pop from the Falls Bottling Works which, according to Penrod, tasted best at Koochiching Bible Camp.
I did, however, have the childhood haven of Blewett’s Cafe which was located right smack in the middle of the little gold country town of San Andreas, California. There I would join friends, drop a small package of peanuts in my Pepsi, and listen to the sounds of the platters blaring away from the comer Jukebox. It was a safe place for our local branch of the Sugar Creek Gang. We could never keep our mitts on enough nickels either. Bob Bach, Angels Camp, California.

Enclosed please find my desire to be a part. From beginning to end the publication seems to resonate with who I am—and who I wish I was.

Thanks for giving those who hold dearly to the faith a chance to take things a little less seriously. Peter J. Hawkinson, Winnetka, Illinois.

I am here in Mauritius (Indian Ocean region) for a week-long seminar grouping colleagues from six of the United Nations offices in the area. It’s another world, Mauritius, the world of a 19th century colony. Sugar is the basis of the economy as it was in the 17th and 18th centuries. First a French colony, with the Treaty of the Congress of Vienna, 1815, it became British. Not much has changed. English is the official language, but French is still the first language spoken, French along with Creole, a Creole quite similar to that spoken in Martinique and Guadaloupe.

The social stratification is pure colonial with the grand plantation families at the top (French 18th century with a dash of 19th century English), Indians in the middle (the Indians were imported into Mauritius, like Trinidad) to work the fields after the abolition of slavery, (the freed slaves refusing to work the fields) and the Blacks at the bottom.

My first visit here, in 1974, caused a sensation, an absolute sensation, when I had lunch (with the UN Representative very British) at the exclusive Post Louis City Club, THE club for the country’s monied elite. Not only did the conversation stop when we entered, the black waiters almost fell over themselves in disbelief. I had a great time as you might imagine. From my most recent visit, there have been changes here and there in that immutable order, notably from the bottom up. One sees Blacks here and there where they were virtually unseen before. But poverty is everywhere present in this essentially monoculture, and it’s a grinding poverty which only the historical resignation of the Indian sub-continent mentality (the Indian community constitutes approximately 45% of the population) prevents from breaking out and engulfing everything.

This said, Mauritius is certainly the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. It’s an atoll and bits and pieces of mountain arise out of nowhere to dot the horizon. Incredibly green, with. flowers everywhere, its beaches defy description as does the spectacular combination of blues that form its bays and inlets. I’m a true believer and, if I could afford it, would spend my annual vacations in these climes.

It was good to pass quickly through Madagascar, to see old friends and to sniff the crisp, winter air of a malgash morning. The clouds over the city are real baroque clouds, like Reubens might have painted them. I could sit and watch them forever. The capital, Antananarivo, sits atop seven very steep hills, like San Francisco, and the houses often seem perched solely to ensure a beautiful view.

But poverty is grinding and it’s the only African city where one sees bare feet! The present regime seems to be near its end, to judge from the strikes and protests. Certainly the economy is near collapse. I’m preparing our people for the worse.

Liberia, Somalia, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Philippines: the list of evacuations reads like some sinister litany. Africa has been particularly hard hit by these winds of change. Blowing over these straw bosses quickly reveals that mother Hubbard’s cub board is bare. Bankrupt. The people suffer, have suffered, and, despite these new regimes, will suffer some more. It’s sinister. Robert Thompson, Geneva and New York.

I regard the greatest line in the Summer ‘91 Pietisten—which I also regard as a rather evenly great issue—to be Sig Westberg’s (from “On Being Human”), “Alfred North Whitehead wrote at least one little book that I am able to read, The Aims Of Education.” That sentence elicited a hearty belly-laugh from me.

Fact is, Sig Westberg reads Whitehead more easily than most of us read “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Remembers what he reads better, too!

My “immediate intuition and not the conclusion of an argument” is that no small part of many Covenanters’ “moral education” has been profoundly influenced by Sig’s “habitual vision of greatness.” He has communicated from his vast knowledge and experience with impressive gentleness and humility (the quotes are from his quotes of Whitehead whom/ have trouble reacting!).

I’m glad Sig’s human too. A great one! Carleton Peterson, Eagan, Minnesota.

A belated apology for responding to your subscription notice so late. A bargain deserves promptness!

Let me commend you once again on a consistently interesting and thought-provoking periodical. I am puzzled, however, as to why the winter issue credits me with a review of Jim Stein’s magisterial work in the field of Pietist studies, Philipp Jakob Spener: Pietist Patriarch, in the February 1990 Covenant Companion. Although I worked with Stein in the book’s production process, I never wrote a review of that book; in fact, no one has reviewed it in The Companion to date.

I did, in that issue, review Phillip Kuenning’s The Rise and Fall of American Lutheran Pietism. That book is a long overdue—study of the first appearance of the Pietist movement on our shores, among German-Americans on the eastern seaboard in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Coming mostly from the Halle Area, these pre-Civil War Pietists counted themselves as Spener and Francke’s direct spiritual descendants (one of their groups was called the Franckean Synod). They were pivotal figures in abolitionism—they ordained the first black minister in America—and also figured in the nascent ecumenical movement until Lutheran orthodoxy crushed them and erased their presence from the Lutheran history books shortly after the Civil War. At any rate, I recommend both books highly.

On another train of thought, I’d like to comment on Phil Johnson’s “Out and About” in the Spring issue. In one sense, it was a source of endless mirth. For one hundred years North Park has been, whether justified or not, the whipping boy of the Covenant’s conservative wing. Now the liberals (or at least a liberal) have taken up old Gustaf Johnson’s cudgel to complain about “balance” at North Park. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place!

The fact that our poor school now has to fend off criticism from both sides of the theological fence convinces me, more than ever, that (a) North Park exists somewhere in the golden mean of Christianity and remains open to dialogue with one and all, just as David Nyvall had intended, and (b) the regime of our second David, the one named Horner, is among the best things to happen to our school since Covies first began to dribble a basketball in earnest . .. My guess is Phil doesn’t know Horner, or know him well. If he did, he’d find that there is no one more committed to nonpartisan, open-ended learning for learning’s sake. To me and many others, he exemplifies what the North Park educational experience should be about and, in a larger sense, is a fine ambassador for the Covenant Church. He deserves better treatment than this.

I guess the bottom line is this—teaching and administering at North Park have always been a labor of love. It still is. People love that school for what it is and what it stands for not for what it should be or should stand for, no matter how much it needed or needs change. That goes for all the faculty and staff of whatever generation, gender, background, or theological stripe. North Park is not a fixed place in the theological firmament, but it has always traveled by the stars David Nyvall first charted—Pietistic spirituality, intellectual openness and integrity, service to the church and the world. What’s best for North Park is that those who work there love the school, love the idea of freedom behind the school, and love the God for whom it was built and whom it still serves. Gregory Sager, Chicago, Illinois.

Editor’s note: We stand corrected. In “Reading,” Winter ‘90, p. 16, I did, in error, report that Greg Sager had reviewed K. James Stein’s book when in fact he had reviewed Phillip Kuenning’s book. My error does not diminish the quality of Greg’s review.

Reading “Out and About,” Spring ‘90 (pp. 12, 13) and Summer ‘91 (pp. 16, 17) as well as Spring ‘91 (pp. 14-17) commented on here by Greg—will enable the reader to assess the respect and appreciation PJ has for President Homer.

Thanks for your magazine. I read my back copies during our recent vacation. Pastor Wiberg’s “Repentance Without Absolution,” “The Towel,” and “Dead Preachers’ Society” all hit me. I meditated on them throughout the vacation.

I’m sending my used copies to a Great Uncle in Osakis, Minnesota. He loves the works of Rosenius. Please continue the personal hand address touch. Refreshing. Draws me back to my North Park roots. Ken Sampson, Fort Drum, New York.

I would like to send along my wholehearted thanks to you and Jim Erickson for arranging for me to receive Pietisten. I very much enjoyed this recent summer issue. In picking up and reading the magazine, I had the inexplicable feeling that I was amongst friends. I was very pleasantly surprised to see a piece by the great homilist, and my former confirmation teacher, Glen Wiberg.

I wish you the best of luck with the publication. Dave Liljengren, San Diego, California.

I have been intending to subscribe to Pietisten for years—but never remember it when I am writing checks, etc. Finally, I’m getting around to it. Every issue I have seen, I have enjoyed—and been frequently instructed.

Thanks for your work. It seems to me more important than ever to maintain the network of people that Pietisten represents. Charles Wiberg, Chicago, Illinois.

Thanks for the recent issue of Pietisten. It gets better with every issue!

I’m sure my subscription must have run out by now. Please find a check for renewal. Donald Frisk, Batavia, Illinois.

From time to time I have gotten copies of Pietisten from friends or have read it in the library here at Covenant Manor.

I am a retired Covenant Pastor graduated from North Park Seminary in 1940 and ordained in 1943. I have served six Covenant Churches—in New London, Minnesota, Osage City, Kansas, Manistee, Michigan, Fremont at Essex, Iowa, Erie, Pennsylvania, Superior, Wisconsin, and for ten years, Visitation Pastor in the Willmar First Covenant Church. For five years I have lived at Covenant Manor.

I am herewith enclosing check for $10.00 to pay for a subscription. Keep up the good work in keeping us informed for and of our beloved Covenant. Paul E. Hedberg, Minneapolis, Minnesota.