Observations and thoughts on the May issue:
• Few things move the heart more than music. Witness tale after tale in our cover article “Favorite hymns” (page 20). Our “reader call” for stories involving favorite hymns met with such a deluge that section editor Elizabeth Hunter swore she’d never do that again: she nearly worked herself sick sifting through all the responses.
• Sage advice from Paul Westermeyer, professor of sacred music at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., on diversity and two missteps to avoid: “The idolatry of only singing things from your congregation or only singing hymns from outside your community — destroying your communal identity …. We need both.”
So, thanks to my worshiping congregation in Chicago for including the dynamic, delightful Tanzanian hymn “Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 364) amid its classical fare on Easter Sunday. Sing it and see if it doesn’t soar in your top hymn pick list.
• Settle in with Peter W. Marty’s new series, “Challenging conversations” (page 3). It follows his well-received “Elements of the Lord’s day” column.
• Explore the grounds of our Christian faith found in Turkey (page 16). The travel piece introduces those unaware of its history, and underscores the current-day support of the indigenous Christian presence in the Mideast lest our faith be relegated to museums there.
• Let’s talk about love, but not the Celine Dion kind. Author/pastor Frank Honeycutt explains that love isn’t a feeling but a way of life learned from others (page 14). And what school offers such an education? The church, of course.
• Journey with two ELCA theologians into a discussion about the Trinity and gender (page 18). Like the prayer says of the Bible, I ask that you hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest what the authors have to say — and don’t say — on this topic.
• It’s hard not to be proud of the students at St. Paul Lutheran School, Waverly, Iowa (page 27). They thought of others, not just themselves, despite the notoriety gained about their canceled tour of the White House.
• What a difference 40 years makes. The cost of attending seminary has skyrocketed over that period (page 38). This is the first of three articles on seminary education.
• The fallout of declining enrollment and escalating expenses played out recently at Luther Seminary, where a $4 million deficit led to a leadership change, early retirements and layoffs (page 44). There’s cold comfort to be found at Calvin College, a liberal arts institution of the Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. It recently announced it was $115 million in debt.
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© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers