Post: Readers Respond

I really enjoyed the article by Adele Cole and I always look forward to the arrival of Pietisten in the mail. Please use this money toward your new publishing equipment. Beth Nordstrom, Willmar, Minnesota.

Sorry to see Pietisten used as a pulpit for liberal Islamic teaching by R. Thompson. It certainly does not cover the concerns we ought to have for Islam today. Why is there no religious freedom in Islamic countries in general? Why did the crusades in the Holy Land occur? Did the Christians and Jews leave the country and say help yourself. The real truth is that no country has become an Islamic state in a peaceful manner.

Some expert scholars give a different picture than Thompson. Get a Koran and read the passages in my article enclosed. See if you can get a moderate interpretation out of that.

My article was in The Covenant Companion readers write this year about April. Enclosed is my renewal check. Send me Mampel's poems. He did a poem in seminary called "Antlers in the tree tops" by hu goosd da moos. Is that the same theme? Chuck Anderson. Mears, Michigan.

I can't tell you how much I enjoy Pietisten and look forward to it. It is amazing to me how often one or more articles addresses an issue I happen to be struggling with and how often I feel… the author has captured and expressed thoughts or ideas that were floating around in my head but I was unable to articulate.

I particularly look forward to articles by Elder Lindahl. When I went to North Park as a freshman, I had a number of doubts about my faith. I felt guilty having doubts and was anxious to get to North Park, which would be like four years of Bible camp. My questions would be answered, all doubts resolved, and I would live happily ever after. I had Elder for Hebrew Prophets and, later, Mel Soneson for Intro to Philosophy, where I was taught it was not only okay to doubt, but it was necessary. I learned that faith was not a tiny little package that you got as a finished work, but a journey. I am still on the journey; I find it more interesting than ever and am grateful for the words of Elder Lindahl, Arthur Anderson, and all the rest, for providing directions for the journey.

I am amazed that I continue to feel most comfortable spiritually and intellectually with the kind of philosophy and theology I got at North Park. Is it because it is somehow the "right" theology, or is it simply that it is so ingrained that I can't let go? Whatever, I have decided that it is the way God has been revealed to me, and it is the way I have to follow. Keep up the good work. Carl Bergeson, Ocala, Florida.

[*More about Chief White Feather*. In "Out and About," Summer 2001, I mentioned Chief White Feather in a report on the Bob and Marlene Bach concert. Two people seeking information about the Chief found the report in Pietisten_ Online. If you have access to the internet, I invite you to try this. Bring up the google.com search engine, type in Chief White Feather, and hit search. The sixth listing is "Out and About." Click and up it pops with a photo of the Bachs and Glen Wiberg.

One gentleman was looking for information on Sitting Bull, Jr., likely White Feather's uncle. Chief White Feather was a grand-son, not son, of Sitting Bull as I stated. The other writer, Orbra Bliss, knew Chief White Feather as a boy because Chief stayed with Orbra's family during evangelistic visits. Below are most of both his letter and also most of his account of Chief White Feather's conversion. Thanks to Orbra and to the missionary radio station, HCJB World Radio. Ed.]

Chief White Feather was the grandson of Sitting Bull by his fourth wife. Remarkably, his mother was a Christian and taught him about the Lord when he was small. However, the results came years later. At one time, his father travelled with a circus with his children. Somewhere in their travels, contacts were made that resulted in Chief receiving musical training.

I first remember Chief when he came to our church in Martinsville, Illinois in 1944 or 45. The meeting had started and he just barely made it. Afterward, we went out to fix his car tire that was, by that time, very flat. He pulled a gorgeous Indian blanket out of the trunk and laid it on the ground which horrified my mother. How could he use something so beautiful for this task? He told her not to worry, that he had more.

When their son was born, his wife asked Chief how names were chosen. He said they were usually related to something the mother saw right after the birth. She said, "You mean I should name him Bedpan or Stethoscope!" There was a picture on the wall of the room of a rainbow over a mountain lake with a red canoe on the shore, so [Sonny's] Indian name is "Rainbow Red Canoe."

Chief was a walking medical disaster—a diabetic with a bad heart and a list of other problems. He kept going, but every once in a while, Dad would get a letter saying that he had to cancel some meetings to recover his strength. When he was too weak to travel, he stayed in Arizona, where he died in his fifties.

We are missionaries with HCJB World Radio, stationed at the Engineering Center in Elkhart, Indiana. I was writing an account of the Chief's conversion for a radio show [see below] when I took time to do a Google search and found your page.

Chief White Feather's Conversion. Chief White Feather had a wonderful baritone voice and became a professional opera singer.

Though his professional life was going well, his personal life was full of grief. Two sons were killed in an auto accident and his marriage was failing. He tried to commit suicide by jumping off a moving commuter train in New York City. Severely injured, including a broken back, he was taken to a hospital. He was semi-conscious while the emergency room doctor worked on him. The doctor spoke of things his mother had taught him as a child—God loved him, Jesus died for his sins. His mind was foggy and he couldn't respond to the doctor, but it all came back to him as he laid in his hospital bed. He said yes to his Saviour in his hospital room. God healed his wounds completely, even the broken back.

He subsequently sought Christian counselling and entered Bible college. After that, he began an evangelistic ministry throughout the U.S. and overseas, using his wonderful voice to praise the Lord. He used music from famous operatic arias to present the Gospel. An accomplished organist, he accompanied himself as he sang. I often sat by him on the organ bench as he practiced.

Chief was invited to the White House by President Roosevelt in 1938 to sing for the visiting King and Queen of England. This happened after he was saved and his last song was "I'd Rather Have Jesus." When he finished, Queen Elizabeth said to him, something like, "That is my testimony and His Majesty's also."

The identity of the doctor is known only to God. The doctor had no way of knowing the result of his witness to a semi-conscious man. I have often thought of this example of how God can work through us, even when we are not aware of the results. Orbra Bliss, Elkhart, Indiana.

I would like to comment on Mr. Dennis Jones' letter in the Winter 2001-2002 issue regarding my article in the Summer 2001 issue on printing letterpress Bibles. Mr. Jones said that Gutenberg would be spinning in his grave about the $8000 price of a contemporary hand-printed Bible. Did he mean that Gutenberg would be spinning for joy because he was delighted that anyone still cared enough to go to all the work to produce a Bible in this ancient fashion? The people at the small, non-profit Arion Press do this work for a very modest wage as a labor of love and respect for guild craftsmanship and printing and as an act of respect and homage to Gutenberg.

The price has actually plummeted. According to the Media History Project, edited by Kristina Rose, it would take three years' entire wages for a clerk in the mid-15th century to purchase a Gutenberg Bible. The U.S. Department of Labor lists the average salary of a clerk in 2001 as $21,580. Do the math. This means that the relative cost was $64,740 compared to $8000 or a saving of about 88%.

Jones said, too, that people who use computers in offices are not "free agents." Where I work, all ten people have a computer on their desk to do research, translate music, write letters, engage in desktop publishing, graphic design, order supplies, order books, airline tickets, etc. No one is nefariously keeping track of anyone else. Everyone uses a computer by choice.

In addition, Jones asserted that the small computers used by UPS people are "forced upon them to keep track of their every move." Actually, UPS delivery people prefer to keep track of their inventory on small computers instead of their former clipboards. Maybe if a book is ordered in North Korea or Cuba the delivery person wouldn't have a hand-held computer inventory tracking device when, and if, the book is delivered. But these devices seem very benign and certainly efficient in day-to-day commerce in most parts of the world. I suggest that it is time to set Karl Marx, or whomever, aside, and enjoy the poems of, say, his contemporary, Emily Dickenson, or the wisdom of his grandson Groucho. Bruce Carlson, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

[_The letter below is a response to the letter from Robert Bundell of Rosemead, California, in the last issue (Summer 2002). —Ed._]

Dear Mr. Blundell, I appreciate your critique, that lumping Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin, and the Twin Towers together does not make an adequate delineation between the three events to provide "moral clarity." They are not the same. That is true. But I was not only thinking of the incident at the pool at Giv'on in ironic terms as you indicate. My struggle with this text was not to argue that provocation and the cycles of violence are valid only when an incident is contrived, like the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

David and Saul's house can't wait to get it on. The issue of whose House will prevail is at stake in their minds. The text has made its choice. The characters either cannot accept the choice or cannot see how it will all work out, without their intervention. They needed an incident. The Pool at Giv'on provided the setting. It is not about who was right or wrong; who wins and who looses; which side God prefers over the other. Neither party was able to walk back from the blood-letting and find another way. This is the biblical judgment on the problem of power and the seduction of violence.

What is needed, it seems to me, especially these days, is not the kind of moral clarity resulting from the exegesis of historical events, but moral courage to find another way in all matters. Former President Carter argued in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, that all violence leads toward violence. Even violence that may be necessary is evil. The morality of the cause "just or unjust," "provoked or unprovoked" does not change that. That is Abner's point: "Is it forever that the sword must devour; don't you know that it will be bitter afterwards?"

I agree with that judgment. It holds true, regardless of who started what, or who is more culpable—a condition hard to determine in the midst of the present muddle. I argue that the moral clarity needed derives from the awareness that how we respond will set the context for the next provocation. It is not possible to give peace a chance if we are only waiting for it to fail because our opponents do not respond in kind. We cannot justify our violence because our enemies practice it. Peace must derive from a deeper commitment, drawn not from an ideology, but from a greater awareness of our true selves and the world we live in. This is certainly difficult. It requires confession and humility, both of which are in short supply these days. My spirit is weary with the lack of our imagination to act in any other fashion. And, I find the world we are creating to protect ourselves increasingly unlivable. Something must be done.

I invite you to read the Christmas sermon of Martin Luther King Jr., (1967) who suggests the elements of a life that supports peace as something more substantial than merely withholding a violent response. He continues to speak to us from the tradition of the prophets. The civil-rights movement understood these matters in a way we have yet to grasp. But it is there for us. For the present moment, poised as we are on the brink of a new war, simply withholding the sword, would be a great blessing. David Hawkinson, Jericho, Vermont.

We recently returned from a two week trip to Sweden with the "Holiday Lights Tour" led by Eloise and LeRoy Nelson. It was a wonderful trip and included a strong endorsement of Pietisten by Gunnar Hallingberg, widely-known author and former Rector of SVF in Jönköping, who singled out the work of Tommy Carlson for translating P. P. Waldenström. We would like to share one of many surprises of grace that our journey brought us.

On the Second Sunday in Advent, the 46 persons of our tour traveled through the forests of Dalarna filled with snow-covered pine trees and birches whose hanging branches looked like delicate lace glistening in the soft morning light against a white landscape dotted with red cottages.

We came to the old, historic Röttvik Lutheran Church on the shores of Lake Siljan now frozen in ice. People, young and old, were streaming into the church for a family service where the six-year-olds in the parish were to be given their first Bibles. Also, the arrival of Lucia would be celebrated and the Christmas story reenacted by small shepherds with wooly sheep and little kings with gifts for the holy Child. The balcony on one side was filled with squirming little angels with white wings and on the other side with confirmation students leaning far over the balcony.

The surprise—if not shock for Americans was that the father laid in the sheep skin of the crib—not a doll—but his own infant son entrusting him to the care of seven-year-old Maria and a distracted Joseph standing helpless by her side. The pageant had barely begun when we saw the arms and legs of little baby Jesus kicking in the air. As he began to cry, Maria swooped him up with his little head bobbing and tried to stick a pacifier in his mouth. We could see and feel the fear of the nervous father for the safety of his child but he remained on the sidelines and let the baby remain in the care of the young Maria.

This is how Christmas came to Röttvik for both of us. The Word was truly becoming flesh that morning but with a fresh insight into the risks the Father took in offering us the gift of his only Son. Entrusting Jesus into the hands of the inexperienced teenager Mary sitting beside the crib at Bethlehem, God must have felt something of the anxiety of that Swedish father standing by but not intervening. Perhaps the risk of the miracle with its surprise and joy is something we also feel in receiving again this real Jesus into our less than perfect hands and hearts. Glen and Jane Wiberg, New Brighton, Minnesota.

I read with great interest the Pietistens you have mailed to me and I enjoyed them very much. Having known personally some of your contributors, such as Elder Lindahl, Rev. William Sandstrom, and reference to Mel Soneson (now deceased), Henry Gustafson, etc. contributed to my interest.

I have been a Covenanter all my life (approaching 85). So many names ring a bell in my memory. I am thankful to my good friend Mel Soderstrom, who referred me to Pietisten. Keep up the good work. I'll pass on future issues to some of my Covenant friends. Royden Anderson, Orland Park, Illinois.

Dear Editors: Would the enclosed book review work in Pietisten? Could be too far out for that mag.

If so, maybe you could pass it on to Max Carlson, the Pietisten writer with whom I feel most kinship. I especially shared the feelings expressed in his review of American Beauty [check Spring, 2000, p. 6 or online at www.pietisten.org ].

Hope you're doing all right. I am. Fred Cervin, New Haven, Connecticut.

[Fred Cervin's review of World on Fire by Michael Brownstein will appear in the next issue. —Ed.]