The last time I wrote about scanning the obituaries, I referred to people whose accomplishments were widely recognized. This time I will look at the lives of the less known, to illustrate ordinary goodness in an often ungood world. I hope the papers in your town do what the Chicago Tribune does: interview friends and family members to bring some color to each account.
In Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong James W. Loewen tells us that he encountered a marker at the Little Bighorn River battlefield in Montana dedicated to U.S. Army soldiers killed “while clearing the district . . . of hostile Indians.” He also studied markers dedicated to “patriots” who were actually slave traders or Klansmen racists.
Recently I was in New York to hear the St. Olaf Choir sing, transcendently, at Carnegie Hall. I was there both as a member of the college’s board and as a devotee of a cappella music. After the concert an alumna asked whether I would join a little company, including St. Olaf president Mark Edwards and his spouse, for a private showing of “woolies” at the Seamen’s Church Institute.
The church regularly gets criticized for being behind the times. Let the culture come up with something and, in time, churches follow, critics say. Let there be rock music and 30 years later there is Christian rock. The secular culture invents horror films and 50 years later evangelicals follow with Christian horror films.