The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Sticklers for the word

Readers take issue with mustard plant article

Having just returned from a trip to Israel and seeing a tree in full bloom identified as a mustard plant, I was surprised to see the article “Plain mustard” (June) telling me and others that there’s no such thing. It’s amazing how much we limit our understanding of the Bible by our American mindset. We need to open our hearts and minds to the word of God rather than saying it does not work.

Jim Berg
Morro Bay, Calif.

An ‘aha’ moment

I read Barbara Cawthorn Crafton’s article on the mustard plant. When I was in Israel in the 1980s, our tour guide stopped the bus, jumped off, went to a bush about 3 feet high, picked something and got back on the bus. He directed us to look at the bush where just a few remnants of dying yellow blossoms remained. In the middle of its branches: a bird’s nest. He said, “This is a mustard plant, and I will pass around the tiny seeds—no bigger than pepper. Your mustard plants in the U.S. are much smaller.” The seeds that are in our bracelet charms are much larger. This was one of many “aha” experiences I had when I visited Israel. So did Crafton research mustard plants in Israel, or did our guide fit the Scriptures with another bush so we could understand Jesus’ parables with an “aha”?

Valerie Reinhold
Bethlehem, Pa.

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