Post: Readers Respond

Just got my new Pietisten in the mail (another fine issue), and read your piece about whether or not the early Pietists ever smiled. Well, the most convenient of all possible arguments is always technological determinism, and, depending on when the pictures in question are from, it may actually work. Early cameras, with their long exposure times, placed a great premium on the subject not moving at all, and it is much easier to hold a straight face without changing it than it is a smile. Which is why you almost never see anyone smiling in old photographs. I always find myself wondering if they ever wore anything other than black, another question the photographic record (sadly) can't answer. Paul Erickson Dept. of American Studies University of Texas-Austin.

[Rae Langsten, History of Photography teacher, phoned Pietisten regarding this matter. Her remarks support Paul's that sober faces are the result of the nature of photography of the time. "Italians are not smiling in photographs of this period either," she said. - Ed.]

Regarding the speculations about the lack of smiles in the photographs of early immigrants, the truth is, technology aside, they missed their homeland. In spite of the fact that they had arrived in a land where possibilities of unlimited success far exceeded their wildest imaginations, it was not really their home. Nor could they, after a few years, go back even if the wanted to, except in a few instances.

Vilhelm Moberg describes this as well as anyone in his book The Last Letter to Sweden. Karl Oskar Nilsson, who is now Charles O. Nelson, writes to his sister admitting he would feel uncomfortable back home. Yet, the places and people of his childhood are very clear to him. This living "in between," as Elder Lindahl wrote in an earlier issue, is confusing and at times difficult. Yet here we are and have chosen to stay. A few years ago, someone wrote in an article "The New Sweden" that Swedish patriotism is not about allegiance to King or Queen or political party, but to the land. They wished, perhaps, one more time, to stand on Swedish soil and breath Swedish air. As difficult as it had been for many in the old country and as good as many found it in the new land, many still longed for that mystical place called home. Jonas Svensson (a sometime reader).

I've joined the "crowd" at Covenant Village in Turlock. I've lived in a wonderful time of Covenant History. I knew or know of most everyone who writes. Guess that may be because of being a P.K. My Mom graduated from North Park in 1903 and my Dad from Seminary in 1910. All of us Strom kids went to North Park and two were in the ministry. What could be better? Keep Pietisten coming. Arlene Strom Mord, Turlock, California.

I brought Pietisten with me to a history conference in Öresbro University. The seminar was highly surprised to see the old paper in renewed form! Gunnar Hallingberg, Jonkoping, Sweden.

Thanks for the nice note and welcome. I've been watching Pietisten off-and-on since my folks have a subscription. I've enjoyed feeling connected with our past, the witticism and the challenges offered by my favorite Covenant pastors and North Park Professors. And, of course, Covenant Christ Crafts.

But, I subscribed this time because I loved the article on "The Brothers Blomgren," two men who were "larger-than-life" in my childhood and youth in Seattle. They are special people to the Covenant. Bob taught Sunday School to me and Carl taught me the intangibles of conversation and stretching the human potential.

No doubt Pietisten has captured something indescribable about being a Covenanter that is getting harder to find these days—especially out west, like Colorado. Godspeed and best regards, Brad Halverson, Denver, Colorado.

Editor: As an acquaintance of the Blomgren Brothers, I'd like to say the author of that article did an excellent job of whitewashing (eulogizing) the "C" component of that duo. In fact, I faintly recognized him. The "C" that I know might have wished he were a great athlete, but with a 4-3/4 inch vertical jump and a 9.4 second 40-yard dash, I'd say he was better suited for Chinese-checkers than to play any sport requiring speed and agility.

His social concern is also in question: wouldn't anyone spending a good portion of his life building a log cabin in the middle of the woods more likely be a misanthrope than a God-fearing man-unto-all-men/women?

The article does prove the power of the pen: selectivity and emphasis is the name of the game, especially when an attempt is made to fit a mixed-bag into the Pietisten Weltanshauung/wallet. Let me assure your readers—if they need assuring—this character is no St. Francis of Assisi!

Perhaps I'm reading the article incorrectly. Perhaps the article should be read as an ironical comedy in which case, I must admit, makes for much better reading and entertainment.

I have been informed that the B Brothers are friends of yours. It helps (hurts?) to have friends in high places.

Enclosed is $50.00 to partially cover the loss of present subscribers. John D. Silentio, Accurate Location Not Given.

Editor's Response

Dear Mr. Silentio: Oh that you would live by your name! I suppose you will argue that a letter is silent and thus you are too. But, you are so wrong!

There is one word of truth in your letter (perhaps I will find another if I scour through it several more times). The B Brothers are friends of mine. The one you refer to as "C" was an esteemed teaching colleague among other things.

So you will understand that I cannot stand "silently" by while you slander this finest of friends. Were I to take the time to itemize my friend's attributes—his willing, helping hands, his broad-mindedness on every subject save sports, his integrity and determination—I would have time for nothing else for days. And, I haven't even mentioned his sense of humor!

Further, I noted nothing in the article that accused my friend of being "god-fearing" and his social concern is displayed precisely in his long years of building a cabin that taxes the earth's resources only slightly. As to Francis of Assisi—how did he come up?

And in athletics, Mr. Silentio, position along with comprehension is everything. A person who can get in position (as "C" does) without capacity to dash off somewhere or leave his feet allowing an opponent to flash by him is worth his weight in gold in any contest.

I hope these remarks are clear, Mr. Silentio. Fifty bucks or not, I resent the slander of my good friend. My resentment is sufficient for me to keep the fifty bucks for the well-being of our little journal. Phillip D. Johnson, Managing Editor.

Wonderful edition. The Blomgren story was great! Barbara Hawkinson, Chicago, Illinois.

I love Pietisten. Bill Horner, Omaha, Nebraska.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the experiences of Ellen Bergstrom and Christine Swanson. It was great, too, to find an article by Henry Gustafson. I like the series on "The Making of a Reader" by David Hawkinson and hope it continues. Also, I am looking for another installment from Christina Ekstrom on the influence of the Moravians and their music on the Covenant church. Thanks for the journal. Sam Thompson, Baltimore, Maryland.

[Robert Sandin's article (p. 1) has been available electronically (see www.pietisten.org). Here is one response. —Ed.]

The "letter" aspect of religion has, it seems to me, been the very basis of Western religiosity. Prayer as such is the only manifestation of the "spirit" that individuals seem to exhibit. All other manifestations are the "letter." When I think of the spirit aspect, I think of the mystics—Thomas a Kempis, the Quakers, and the like-minded. Otherwise, the Ten Commandants, Catholicism, the Pilgrims, and certainly Mr. Waldenström's commentaries on the New Testament show little spirit in the sense described by Mr. Sandin in his article. Robert Thompson, New York, New York.

Thanks much. Always enjoy each issue and share them (on loan) with others. Marilyn Ford, Eitzen, Minnesota.

Thank you for the copy of your very interesting publication, Pietisten. I wish I had known of your publication before my dad [Carl Norman] went to the Lord, November 29, 2000. Your publication speaks to the heart of who my father was. He was an ordained Covenant Minister for 31 years and, like most of the old Swedes, a very Godly and saintly man. He was born in Sweden in 1907, and passed away in Florida after pastorates at seven Covenant Churches.

Please sign me up for two years, it will be a joy to read what you have to say. I wrote my dad's life story a few years ago. I even noticed the Swedish word "läsare" in the free copy you sent me. I attended North Park for one year. I really loved Mel Soneson, Philosophy Professor. Miriam Doner, Grass Valley, California.