On Sept. 18 we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld, second general secretary of the U.N. A child of the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden and an experienced economist and diplomat, he was first elected in 1953, re-elected for five years in 1957, and killed in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) in 1961.
This gives us a special occasion to note U.N. Day in our congregations' prayers around Oct. 24. In fact, it is important to name the U.N. and General Secretary Ban Ki-moon in our prayers whenever we pray for our national and state leaders.
A main resource for prayer and study is Hammarskjöld's journal. It was discovered after his death and translated as Markings by W.H. Auden and Leif Sjogren (Alfred A. Knopf, 1965). Markings follows his career as a person of action and contemplation that followed the trajectory of the Cold War, decolonization, Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, and South African apartheid struggles. It offers prayerful and personal deliberations, without obvious reference to those emerging crises, which is why the journal continues to bring spiritual questions and refreshing insights in our time.
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