In the last letter Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison, he asked, “Father, could you get me from the library Plutarch’s Lives of Great Men?” We do not know if the book ever reached the captive. I hope it did; few books could have provided more comfort.
Some years ago students at an Ivy League university rated party schools. The University of Chicago came in 300th out of 300. The public relations people were ready to respond, until they noticed that Chicago students had printed T-shirts bragging about the rating—and that Johns Hopkins, which came in 299th, wanted to sue because it had coveted the booby prize.
Martha Sawyer Allen isn’t here anymore. She’s off to new adventures.” That line ended Allen’s final column in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (September 4). Her predecessor, Willmar “Bill” Thorkelson, who left that paper a score of years ago, continued to cover religion news as a freelancer. I hope Allen does the same, given her excellent record as interviewer and reporter.
On September 19, 1896, Martin Marty (no relation), brother of Martin Marty (no relation), died. His remains were reburied on September 19 of this year. The first burial took place in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and the second both in St. Cloud and in St. Meinrad, Indiana. To explain:
I want to propose Smokey Bear, who turned 60 in August, as a new symbol for proper stewardship. We Martys became Smokeyites during our years of camping. The image and message of Bear traveled with us as mentor, judge and conscience, as our sons learned to drench all embers and tattle on all smokers. Only we could prevent forest (now “wild”) fires.
I have spent a lot of time searching through the Bible for loopholes,” said W. C. Fields, who was looking for moral wriggle room. While surfing the Web for a recent column on baldness I found many commentators citing 2 Kings 2:23: “As Elisha was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
"Sue them!” my wife joked. Harriet offered her succinct suggestion as we read a sentence in a review that appeared over my name. Within it was a word I was sure I could not have used—or at least could not have intended—since it doesn’t exist. Something must have happened in transmission, I thought, something that the editors did not catch.
Turkey advertises itself both as “secular,” thanks to its constitution of 1923, and as “98 percent Muslim.” India is called “secular,” thanks to its constitution of 1947, and is often seen as having the highest level of religious participation of any major nation.
I am going to let the family of a recent high school graduate write most of this column. Nothing I could invent would portray as well the self-centeredness that marks the lives of many in our culture. The names have been changed as a courtesy, though it may be impossible to protect this attention-seeking family from itself.
Montana is to be envied for its great Great Plains, its purple mountain majesties, and its celebration of color. The state motto is colorfully Oro y Plata, gold and silver. Its flower is the bitterroot, a delicious pink and white bloom. And, on fishing- and driver’s-license applications, Montana cites “bald” as a color preference.
When Christians in one body instinctively mourn with the mourners in another, or rejoice with the rejoicers, we see the ecumenical spirit at work. We Protestants did not mourn the deaths of Popes Pius XI and XII, but we did spontaneously join in lamenting Pope John XXIII’s death. Today is another lamentation day.
Thirty-four and 17 summers ago, when the Marty family ate dinner on our Victorian porch, we sometimes had to move back indoors because we couldn’t hear ourselves speak. The cicadas, which we called “17-year locusts,” were back. They are returning again this year, and have been sighted and heard as far west as Indiana. Though they have not yet afflicted us, they have raised my curiosity.
"Bibfeldt’s back” was the slogan of the University of Chicago Divinity School Association’s recent celebration of theologian Franz Bibfeldt after a decade of well-deserved neglect. If he is new to you, Google will tell you more about him than you want to know.
The children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” So spake Jesus (Luke 16:8) in a parable that preachers do not like or understand, and wish they never had to preach. But whatever that pericope means, it is a tip that the children of light should pay attention to the shrewdies—this month to the Beethovenorchester of Bonn, Germany.
The American nation . . . is engaged at this very hour in an attempt . . . to Christianize every phase of a righteous war waged to save the life of democracy,” Lieutenant George Stewart Jr. and Henry B. Wright, the YMCA’s liaison to the military, wrote in 1917-18, in support of World War I (The Practice of Friendship). Stewart and Wright called Jesus to their side.
Eostre, the Teutonic goddess of fertility with an Anglo-Saxon name, never did much for us except, perhaps, give her name to Easter. Venerated in spring, she evidently had to yield place when Christians superimposed their festive day on hers. And since a rabbit was her symbol, she may have inspired the Easter bunny. So, Eostre, thanks for small favors.
Some decades ago the replacement of and synonym for ummhhh and aaahhh was “you know,” a phrase introduced by “Valley Girls” and voiced by speakers not because you did know, but because the speakers did not, and were fumbling for words.
Dear Harriet: After we cried over the recent death of one of our heroes and friends, John Tietjen of (Lutheran) Seminex days, we also smiled to read that at the 50th anniversary of his ordination, one week before he died, unsentimental “John told that a year ago at Christmas he had purchased the most expensive gift he had ever given to [wife] Ernestine—and then he broke down and continued ‘because
Testimony, not advocacy, is my intent in this first foray into a subject about which church bodies argue: the “blessing of gay marriage/unions” and “ordination to clergy status” of men and women in committed homosexual partnerships. Let me separate the two. The “blessing” item is now part of presidential politics, a subject M.E.M.O never touches.