FALL 2000 THE MAGAZINE OF GORDON COLLEGE
Gratitude, Grace and Gifts • I LIKE IT WHEN I HEAR SLIPPERS COMING PAGE 14 • GRATITUDE AND GRACE PAGE 7 • RECOVERING THE SEASON PAGE 12 • GOOD GRIEF, IT’S THE HOLIDAYS PAGE 10
e enjoy getting our campus ready for Christmas—like outlining with tiny lights the gazebo that houses the bell from the Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston. That was A. J. Gordon’s historic church, where he founded Gordon 111 years ago (see page 19 for a look at the Bell). Each November Alton Bynum Jr., head of our Grounds Department, and his elves give our woods a trim. Greens pile up in a secret workshop at the back of the Bennett Center. Fragrant branches are tied and twisted into boughs and wreaths to spruce up the entrances to Gordon and almost every building on campus. Even the mailbox post at Wilson House, the president’s residence, sports a red ribbon and fresh greens. This year Alton will need to cut extra greens, buy additional red ribbon and purchase more strings of tiny white lights—the Phillips Music Center awaits its first Christmas corsage. We’re so thankful. Landmarks like Frost and new additions like Bennett, Tavilla and Barrington sit like giant packages around our campus. They’re the beautiful and useful containers for our real treasures—students, faculty and staff. The most important preparation for Christmas, however, is an inside job. We get ready through remembering, reflecting and carefully unwrapping sacred traditions. We prepare our hearts through sermons and stories, conversations and carolling. Music does it best for most of us. That’s why hundreds of people come from neighboring communities and nearby states to celebrate Christmas with us at our Advent Festival and Christmas Gala concerts. Choirs and orchestra, band and bell ringers proclaim the best gift of all: “We have a Savior, Christ the Lord!” Thank you for helping us tell the story. As gifts, you deserve red ribbons—alumni, parents, trustees, donors, friends of Gordon College. Thank you for your faithful prayers, your generosity. Thank you for coming to our concerts, lectures, chapels and sporting events. Thank you for trusting us with your daughters and sons, for recommending us to children of your friends and colleagues. You give us joy. And we wish you this season. So come inside this special package called Stillpoint. It’s a significant container for sharing some of the gifts we have at Gordon College, the place we love to call home.
President and Mrs. R. Judson Carlberg
T.S. Eliot, in his poem Four Quartets, refers to God as the “still point of the turning world.” Editor Patricia C. McKay ’65 Director of Communications Richard D. Sweeney Jr. ’85 Public Relations Specialist Chris Underation Publication Design Heidi R. Marques ’93 Printer The Pressroom Printers Gloucester, MA
COURTER PHOTO GRAFX
ontainers for Treasures
Stillpoint, the magazine for alumni and friends of the united college of Gordon and Barrington, is published three times a year and has a circulation of 22,000. Changes of address should be sent to the Development Office. Send other correspondence to: Editor, Stillpoint Gordon College 255 Grapevine Road Wenham, MA 01984 firstname.lastname@example.org Reproduction of Stillpoint in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Visit our website at: http://www.gordon.edu. Gordon College is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex or national or ethnic origin.
Volume 16, Number 1 Fall 2000
Gratitude, Grace and Gifts IFC UP FRONT Containers for Treasures Jan and Jud Carlberg ON & OFF CAMPUS
Homecoming & Family Weekend 2000 Friends and fun, a celebration of the end of the SALT and LIGHT Campaign, and honoring Mrs. Evelyn Ferrin with an honorary doctorate.
Gratitude and Grace Provost Mark Sargent, recognized for his original research on the Pilgrims and Governor William Bradford, reflects on the legacy of the Pilgrims and the meaning of Thanksgiving.
ALUMS AT LARGE Good Grief, It’s the Holidays Hospice pastor Tom Johnson-Medland x’83 shares insights on grieving and integrating our losses.
Recovering the Season Professor Tracy Kuperus and Arlyne Sargent tell how their traditions separate the sacred from the secular to enrich both.
I Love It When I Hear Slippers Coming Harold Myra answers our questions and shares excerpts from his intensely personal account of adopting three
CREATIVE IMAGES STUDIO
COVER PHOTOS BY COURTER PHOTO GRAFX, DEANNA PUTNAM, DANIEL WALSH AND TONI CAROLINA
GIFTS & GIVING The Clarendon Society
PROFS & PROGRAMS Training for Tomorrow Professor and Coach Valerie Gin tells how to teach faithbuilding and godly character through team sports.
POINT OF VIEW Christian Ethics and Forgiving Third World Debt Economics and business professor Stephen Smith gives a biblical perspective on global debt forgiveness.
RAVES & REBUFFS
IBC EVENTS CALENDAR
ON & OFF CAMPUS
BY CHRIS UNDERATION Awards are based on ability to integrate faith and learning into student development, professional scholarship, and leadership within the ACSD. Barry has been dean of students since 1985.
GORDON WELCOMES ASSOCIATE PROVOST
A DISTINGUISHED LEADER Gordon’s dean of students, Barry Loy, has been awarded the Don Boender Distinguished Service Award for 2000 by the Association for Christians in Student Development. The presenter, Everett Piper of Spring Arbor College in Michigan, said Loy was long overdue for this award because he has been a member of ACSD for 20 years and has established himself as a highly Barry Loy respected member of the organization. “One of the things we’ve always appreciated Barry for is his great ability to put a human face on all the student development theories that are out there,” Piper said. The award is given annually to one North American student development professional with more than 10 years of experience. 2
Men’s soccer coach Marc Whitehouse earned his 200th career victory in a 4-1 win over New England College October 11. The team is 10-7 on the 2000 season in Whitehouse’s 16th season coaching at Marc Whitehouse (L) and Rick Burns Gordon. He has a career winning percentage of .739 as the leading victories coach with 183 Gordon wins—89 in men’s soccer and 94 in women’s soccer. Highlighting his career are 12 postseason championships, including three conference championships and two national appearances. He has been selected Coach of the Year seven times during his career. Following closely on the heels of Whitehouse’s milestone is second-year women’s coach Rick Burns. After two ties, Burns arrived at number 200 when it counted most: a 3-1 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) quarterfinal win over Colby-Sawyer October 24. At press time Burns’ Gordon squad was moving into the semifinals against the University of New England at 14-4-2 on the year—two wins away from an NCAA tournament bid. Burns has coached 19 years at the NCAA Division I, II and III levels. Contributing to the great success of the women’s soccer team are two underclassmen who led the conference in scoring with 49 points each. Bess Watson ’03 was named CCC Player of the Year, and Lindsey Benson ’04 was named CCC Rookie of the Year. For a complete roundup of Gordon sports, see Gordon’s webLindsey Benson (L) and Bess Watson site: www.gordon.edu/athletics.
IN FOR THE LONG (RESIDENCE) HALL Late this summer work was begun on another new residence hall on campus—next to Tavilla Hall, near the banks of Coy Pond. Though it may be a surprise to some that Gordon is building another hall after opening one just two years ago, this residence has been planned for some time. In fact, when the infrastructure work on Tavilla was done in late 1997 and early 1998, Gordon laid the necessary infrastructure for this new hall as well. It is expected to become home to nearly 175 students. A bit more traditional in its setup, the hall will offer four-person suites set apart by a common bath area. The as yet unnamed hall should be ready for use late in the spring of 2001, raising Gordon’s housing capacity to about 1,375 students on campus. With the off-campus housing market in New England very tight, Gordon welcomes this anticipated boost on campus.
BACKGROUND AERIAL PHOTO BY JAMES ABTS, 2000
STEVE LEONARD ’94
SOCCER COACHES REACH 200 CAREER VICTORIES
STEVE LEONARD ’94
In mid-August Gordon welcomed Herma Williams as the first-ever associate provost of the College. “Coming here is something I looked forward to because having the opportunity to work with faculty as an administrator is my greatest joy,” she said. “One of the things that excites me about being here is seeing people come to love God more and learn what Herma Williams it means to be called according to His good purpose.” Dr. Williams comes to Gordon from George Mason University in Virginia, where she was a professor in the graduate school of education. She is a senior fellow at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and is a popular speaker in academic and nonacademic settings. “What really caught our attention was her administrative experience in a number of different settings,” Provost Mark Sargent said. “When we interviewed her, she laid out an impressive vision for blending education and service. She also has extensive academic contacts around the world.” In 1996 Dr. Williams was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and traveled to South Africa to work at the University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape. She has also taught at Morgan State University in Baltimore and Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her previous administrative experience includes time at Bryn Mawr College in Rhode Island and Ithaca College in New York. The position of associate provost encompasses responsibilities formerly held by the academic dean (a position that has been phased out) and the provost. Among Dr. Williams’ responsibilities will be faculty development, seeking grants and foundation support for programs, supervising the overall academic budget and aiding the school in strategic planning. She earned her doctorate at Iowa State University and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern Illinois University.
QUICK TAKES Jeannine Cavallaro ’93, the assistant women’s basketball coach for the past several years, has been appointed head coach for the 2000–2001 season. Cavallaro takes over for Amy Reiter, who retired after serving the Department of Athletics for 10 years. K. David Goss, former head of the House of Seven Gables in Salem and the Beverly Historical Society, has joined Gordon College as fine arts coordinator. In this position he coordinates and promotes Gordon’s arts offerings. He is a 1974 graduate of Gordon and married to Rebecca (Franz) ’82, daughter of Professor Emeritus David Franz ’45B and the late Doris (Byitte) ’44B.
AN OLYMPIC MOMENT Troy Justice, who began his third season as head men’s basketball coach in November, was invited to Australia in September to coach a team for Athletes in Action. Troy was a member of their organization before taking over Gordon’s basketball program. In a pre-Olympic tournament, he led his Coach Justice with the coaches from team—made up of allSpain. L to R: Javier Imbroda, Gustavo stars of the Australian Aranzana, Manuel Sainz (head coach), professional basketball Troy Justice, Mike Bishop league and former NBA player Ronnie Grandison—in a startling victory over the Spanish Olympic team, considered one of the four best in the world (Italy and France also participated). Coach Justice’s team rallied for a two-point victory after trailing by 17 points at the start of the second half. More importantly, the Athletes in Action had the opportunity to share the gospel with fellow players, Olympic athletes and
Australians. Troy was accompanied by his wife, Andrea, and their three children; Mike Bishop, assistant men’s basketball coach; and Mike’s wife, Liana (Hill) ’98 music major, who sang the national anthems of Spain and Australia at the game.
eyond the ectern A sampling of faculty accomplishments and activities outside the classroom DAVID AIKEN, professor of philosophy, has been appointed chairman of the Program Committee for the Society of Christian Philosophers, Eastern Division. One of his first tasks was to organize the December session of SCP, in which philosophers will discuss methods of interpreting the Bible. This is expected to be a lively presentation with many divergent views expressed. KEITH PENTZ, a member of the Education Division, participated in a series of presentations centered on early childhood education and child development at local workshops held in Hamilton, Wenham and Beverly. He also presented lectures at two gatherings of the Northeast Association for Christian Schools International. PAUL BORTHWICK, a lecturer in missions, will be speaking at Urbana 2000 on December 30. He will be giving the Call to Commitment to those men and women in attendance who feel God may be calling them into missions. NEW FACULTY, FALL 2000—This fall Gordon welcomed five new full-time faculty to the campus. They are Stephen Alter, history (Ph.D., University of Michigan); Tanja Butler, visual arts (M.A., SUNY-Albany); Sean Clark ’88, movement science (Ph.D., Oregon State University); Clifford Hersey, communications (Ed.D., Boston University); Richard Pierard, visiting professor of history (Ph.D., University of Iowa).
TWO HISTORIC FIGURES DECEASED HAROLD L. FICKETT JR., fifth president of Barrington College (1975–78), died September 8 in Nacogdoches, TX, following a long illness. He was 82 years old. As president, Dr. Fickett aspired to serve churchly constituencies in an era of increasing secularization, competing educational forces and diminishing student demographics. Included in his 60 years of pastoring churches are a congregation of over 12,000 members in Van Nuys, CA, and Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston. His firm hand as an administrator, as well as his oratorical gifts, caused him to rise rapidly through the ministerial ranks. Known for the passion, eloquence and astute exegesis of his preaching, he had special ministries to the handicapped, youth and seniors. Dr. Fickett is survived by his wife, Mary Frances, three children and several grandchildren.
ARTHUR HARRELL, grandson of A. J. Gordon, died August 3 at the age of 91. He was the son of A. J. Gordon’s daughter, Helen, and C. Eustace Harrell. A lifelong resident of California, Arthur spent many years working in the aircraft industry. His last visit to the campus was in the fall of 1998, when he and his sister, Connie Fernald, and his son, Jonathan, came to Gordon to award the Helen Gordon Harrell Scholarship to the student recipient. Even though Arthur lived far away from the College his grandfather founded, Connie said of him, “Arthur was one who always remained close to the family heritage and the things of the College. He loved grandfather’s hymns.” Arthur leaves his wife, Verda, and two children, Christina and Jonathan.
Where else could you La Vida’s Flying Squirrel
hold a living starfish in your hand or soar high on the Flying Squirrel cheer at your pick of women’s and men’s sporting events have fun on a 25- to 50-mile bike ride earning money for La Vida play a great game of golf enjoy live drama and a variety of films hear inspiring speakers and attend mini-classes take in several concerts, including a top Christian recording artist, cool jazz music on the green, a classy symphony, and fabulous choirs and ensembles or just bask in the North Shore sun and salt air Science Fair
. . . all while meeting up with dear friends and chatting with favorite professors.
Luncheon for parents and students with faculty
BY J EN NI FE
B A SN RE
Steve Green Concert with the College Choir
Plaque installed in sidewalk near Phillips Music Center Brass Ensemble
H omecoming & F amily Weekend ALANA (Asian, Latino, African and Native American) reception
If you missed it this year, donâ€™t miss it next! Harvest Drama Ministry
BY RICK SWEENEY ’85
Of Salt, Light and Thanksgiving U
nder a clear, blue sky, a pastiche of balloons, Brass Ensemble L to R: Bob Grinnell ’81, President Carlberg, trustees music and heartfelt thanksgiving heralded the official close Len Peterson, Jim Roberts ’66B and Bonny Loring ’87 of the largest capital campaign in Gordon’s history. The final figure of $43 million exceeded the goal by $5 million and was more than double the amount raised in the last campaign 10 years ago. In the process the campus was transformed with three important new facilities, the College endowment increased, and other academic initiatives received crucial financial support. (See the Summer 2000 issue of Stillpoint for a complete wrap on the Campaign achievements). “New buildings are just packages,” observed President Carlberg in his welcoming remarks. “It’s what’s inside that counts. Our students, faculty and staff are the real presents.” The hour-long celebration included brief remarks from representatives of the student body, Gordon alumni and members of the Board of Trustees. Capping the festivities was the unveiling of two plaques honoring major individual and corporate donors as well as faculty and staff supporters. Both plaques will be displayed outside the Presidents Dining Room in Lane Student Center. “These plaques recognize many who put this Campaign over the top,” said Trustee Len Peterson, one of the Campaign’s cochairs. He also took time to salute the leadership of Jud Carlberg, Campaign Director Bob Grinnell and Craig Hammon, Gordon’s executive vice president. Individual recognition and the thanks given to generous supporters of the Campaign were appropriately placed in their greater context by each of the speakers. Summing up the celebration’s sentiment, Peterson aptly noted, “None of this would have been possible without the grace of God.”
Remembering All That Was (and Is) Barrington lumni, former faculty, and friends of Barrington College gathered in the Barrington Center for the Arts to honor Mrs. Evelyn Ferrin—wife of the late Howard W. Ferrin, president of Barrington College (1925–65). After a luncheon in the loggia of the Center, guests and visitors packed the main gallery to watch and applaud as Mrs. Ferrin L to R: President Carlberg, Dr. Peter Blackwell ’64B, received an honorary doctorate of public service. The designation was Dr. Evelyn Ferrin and Dr. David Horner ’71B conferred by President Jud Carlberg and trustee Dr. Peter Blackwell ’64B. They were joined by a surprise guest—Dr. David Horner ’71B, Barrington’s last president (1979–85) and now president of North Park University in Chicago. “It is a privilege and a great honor,” said a gracious Mrs. Ferrin, whose voice broke slightly as she acknowledged a sustained ovation from the gathering. Then she added with a smile, “I have to find out what the duties are.” The Homecoming celebration, which included remarks from Howard Ferrin’s daughter, Priscilla Leavitt ’62B, and other alumni of Barrington, capped a tribute to what would have been the College’s centennial year. Over Memorial Day weekend in May, nearly 450 alumni of PBI and Barrington gathered on the former campus in Rhode Island (now home to Zion Bible Institute). That occasion marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of Dudley Bible Institute, the forerunner of Barrington College. The festive weekend was nostalgic for alumni whose alma mater became a united institution with Gordon College in 1985. Like the Center now bearing its name, both celebrations remembered and upheld an institution that played a vital role in the history of Christian higher education in New England and in the growth of Gordon College.
Barrington alumni enjoyed a luncheon together in the loggia before the ceremony.
Gratitude and Grace
BY MARK SARGENT
Provost Mark Sargent reflects on the legacy of the Pilgrims and the meaning of Thanksgiving.
mericans, by and large, are still grateful for Thanksgiving. Faculty and students rely on the four-day respite before the stretch run of the fall semester. The major networks relish this chance to squeeze in both the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys before NFL Sunday. And, of course, the family meal is still an endeared tradition, with varying creeds about cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes but an enduring orthodoxy about turkey. Though Thanksgiving is still relatively hearty, the story of the Pilgrims, long at the core of the holiday, is far more vulnerable. Certainly the Pilgrims—or the “saints,” as they were known in their time—no longer enjoy the day to themselves. Twenty years ago Christmas retailers waited at least until Thanksgiving Friday to launch their season, but now the reindeer, elves and discounts appear soon after Halloween. Elementary schools still reenact that “First Thanksgiving,” but many such feasts slip into parody. Second-graders wrap big-buckled belts around somber coats and skirts rather than richly colored clothes like the Pilgrims loved to wear. They sit down with the third-grade Wampanoags—not to thank God, but simply to thank their guests for their advice on planting corn. On Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, the annual Pilgrims’ Progress parade is certain to receive less media coverage than the Native American protests. On this occasion—what they call a “National Day of Mourning”—the demonstrators declare that European immigrants introduced not faith and freedom to the continent but smallpox, guns and genocide. All this ambivalence about the Pilgrims is both understandable and regrettable. It is understandable because Thanksgiving—like its predecessor, Forefathers’ Day—has sometimes been used to celebrate troublesome precepts, in most cases principles far removed from anything Plymouth’s colonists would have endorsed. It is regrettable because some of the revisionist views of Thanksgiving have obscured a history that is filled with charity, courage and sacrifice, along with no small measure of selfreflection about human frailty and the need to be thankful. Our November feast, therefore, is a worthy day to remind ourselves how a holiday can be misused—and what the Pilgrims might still have to say to us about gratitude.
That First Thanksgiving
In their prose and practice, the English Separatists who settled Plymouth Colony repeatedly expressed gratitude to God. But we actually know very little about the so-called First Thanksgiving, largely because the Pilgrims themselves said so little about it. William Bradford’s long narrative Of Plymouth Plantation, easily the most valuable record of the colony’s affairs, does not mention the feast at all. The one surviving eyewitness account is a letter written in 1621 by Edward Winslow to a friend in England. Winslow recalls three days of feasting and entertainment, a time of rejoicing after a good harvest and a successful fowl hunt. Chief Massasoit and about 90 members of his Wampanoag tribe
joined the celebration, bringing along five deer—probably the main course. Winslow alludes to gun practice but does not mention a religious observance, though some time for prayer was likely. Since the Pilgrims lived for 12 years in Leyden, Holland, prior to boarding the Mayflower, some scholars wonder if the three-day recreation at Plymouth took its cue from a three-day festival held in Leyden, a mix of sacred and secular events commemorating the city’s deliverance from the Spanish in 1579. Today the church bells in the old center of Leyden often play the 16th-century tune “Kremser,” which celebrates that deliverance. We know that tune because an American, Theodore Baker, eventually gave it English words: “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing. . . . ”
The American Thanksgiving
Actually Thanksgiving came to North America before the Mayflower. Prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival in 1620, fishermen in Nova Scotia and Anglican settlers in Virginia held days of prayer and thanksgiving, a practice common in many regions of England. Like the British, several nations drew on biblical examples and the psalms of thanksgiving to observe feast and fast days, often after a harvest or military victory. When Abraham Lincoln finally heeded the long crusade of editor Sarah Josepha Hale and established a national day of thanksgiving in 1863, he did so not to memorialize the Pilgrims but to give thanks that the Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg had made the end of the Civil War appear imminent. In time the national Thanksgiving Day in November overshadowed and absorbed many of the traditions of New England’s Forefathers’ Day, held a few days before Christmas. Forefathers’ Day began in 1769 when a dozen or so young men in Plymouth, calling themselves the Old Colony Club, decided to celebrate the anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing in their town, which they mistakenly set on December 22—one day late. The club, a mix of loyalists and rebels, disbanded during the American Revolution, but the anniversary celebration they established became one of the most prominent events on the New Statue of Governor Bradford at Plimoth Plantation BRADFORD SARGENT
The Pilgrims’ most enduring virtue may well be that they were grateful despite the cost.
England calendar, an occasion for political rhetoric equal to the Fourth of July. During the 19th century more than 1,000 distinguished speakers—among them Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams and A. J. Gordon—delivered commemorative speeches in Plymouth in late December. It was not the Pilgrims’ dinner table but rather Plymouth Rock—more a tourist curiosity today than a national icon—that served as the centerpiece of the celebrations. With so many speakers seizing the anniversary to embellish their agendas, the Pilgrims were invoked to endorse all kinds of causes. As one might expect, orators said much about character and faith. The Pilgrims were extolled for their courage and perseverance. They were praised as well for their trust in Providence, although such anthems were often blended with the nationalistic refrains of manifest destiny—the conviction that the nation was meant to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. A few abolitionists enlisted the Pilgrims in the crusade against slavery, but far more Forefathers’ Day speakers urged support for the fugitive slave laws—to return escaped slaves to their owners—in order to save the Union and the Constitution. Many of those who championed the Pilgrims’ quest for liberty also advocated that America’s freed slaves be relocated and recolonized in Liberia. As Unitarians, Baptists and Quakers sought to disestablish the Congregational church as the state denomination of Massachusetts, the Pilgrims became symbols of religious freedom. At a time when many churches and colleges were pruning their creeds, several ministers and educators applauded the Pilgrims for “unconsciously” planting the seeds of theological liberalism when they challenged obligatory membership in the national church. A. J. Gordon was clearly rowing against the tide when late in the century he called Calvinism “iron for the thinker’s brain” and decried the fashion of his time to praise the Pilgrims’ character but denounce their doctrines. Plymouth Rock also became an emblem in the story of Anglo-Saxon or Teutonic progress. While some orators, with scholarly nuance and care, used the Plymouth podium to trace the evolving concepts of liberty in western Europe and the United States, numerous public leaders rather brazenly held up the Pilgrims as prophets of Anglo-Saxon superiority. The sudden growth of Mayflower genealogical societies during the turn of the century—a time of extensive immigration—betrayed a disturbing rise of xenophobia as well as a greater interest in blue-blood pedigrees than in the Pilgrims’ piety.
Some of these themes, often sadly, made their way into the proclamations and services
that dominated the national Thanksgiving after Forefathers’ Day declined in popularity. So it should be of little surprise that Thanksgiving in our time has become part of an American civil religion and has prompted a backlash. This is all the more reason to see Thanksgiving as a day to dust off some of the ideological layers that have settled on the Pilgrims over the last two centuries, and to consider why that small band of Separatist exiles was thankful during their early years on the continent. Certainly they were thankful for their freedom—not so much religious liberty as we know it today, but what William Bradford called the “primitive order, liberty and beauty” of the 1st-century church. As the Thanksgiving story is usually told, the Pilgrims sought the political freedom to worship as they pleased. Indeed, the Pilgrims complained often of the yoke of religious conformity. However, they also knew the dangers of excessive freedom. In Britain, where the Separatists’ beliefs were outlawed and Separatist leaders were imprisoned or hung, the Pilgrims fought compulsory allegiance to the Church of England. But in Holland, which granted British dissidents political asylum and liberty of conscience, they grew fearful that unchecked religious liberty was luring their children into licentiousness and indifference. For Bradford freedom was not simply a matter of independence from the national church. It was a state of grace before God. Such freedom through grace required accountability to the teachings of the prophets and apostles as recorded in Scripture. When the Separatists yearned for “primitive” Christianity, they were seeking to recover the freedom and convictions of the early apostolic church before the Emperor Constantine married church and state in the 4th century. The familiar saga of Thanksgiving links the American nation to the ideals of religious freedom, as if freedom—rather than religion—were the appropriate end of the story. Not surprisingly, our historical legends can get the Pilgrims across the Atlantic without any ideological scars, but the mythology gets shipwrecked when the Pilgrims are given room to follow their consciences on New England soil. Soon the story of the Mayflower’s great religious escape devolves into a parable about Puritan intolerance, witch-hunting and dogmatism. To be honest, the Pilgrims and their descendants struggled, tragically many times, to discover the balance between dogmatics and liberty. That fierce struggle is at the heart of Thanksgiving rather than simply its sad aftermath. Above all, the Pilgrims were more grateful for their freedom in Christ than for their ecclesiastical independence, and they labored, with moments of spiritual confidence, doubt and human failings, to be faithful to that gift. In the opening pages of his history Of Plymouth Plantation, Bradford does not forecast their political freedom in America but is virtually nostalgic about the harsh days in England when his congregation chose to gather “as the Lord’s free people” into an illegal “church estate.” They chose the freedom, adversity and mystery of the gospel; the right to walk “in all His ways made known, or to be made known unto them, according to their best endeavors, whatsoever it cost them, the Lord assist-
Perhaps one day, Kozol speculates, we will “feel the grace of God”and abandon our tendency to “quarantine the outcasts.” Thanksgiving Day can certainly rise above its own tangled history.
research on Governor Bradford.
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PHOTOS OF PLIMOTH PLANTATION BY MARK SARGENT
ing them. And that it cost them something ought to be grateful for our national this ensuing history will declare.” prosperity and freedom. If the Pilgrim story remains at the center of the holiAnd that may be their most enduring day, it may help remind us that we need virtue—that they were grateful despite the to be most thankful for “His grace.” cost. This gratitude is easily ignored or Despite two centuries of bluster about trivialized. Nineteenth-century accounts the Pilgrims as founders of the nation, of the Pilgrims’ sufferings were often their story is essentially one of separatism so overbearingly melodramatic that the and exile. In fact, it may be proper to say whole story became a prime target for that the modern heirs of the Pilgrims are caricature. not their blood relatives but their moral On the other hand, the Thanksgivdescendants: the imprisoned believers ing myth has seized the Pilgrims’ feast overseas; the disenfranchised Americans as a metaphor for American bounty—a in our own cities; all those bleakly sepasymbolic cornucopia representative of our rated from the national bounty but still nation’s agricultural prowess, industrial mindful of God’s presence. advances and foreign aid benefactions. Lost in such extremes is the story In this respect, the of a poor colony that was thankful simply for its survival. Thanksgiving story can be best told by narratives like Jonathan The Plymouth settlement persisted but never flourished. Its Kozol’s Amazing Grace, which records the persistent faith and harbor was too shallow for extensive trade, its soil too thin gratitude of African-American mothers and children in the for more than a modest drug-rich and service-poor harvest. Their beloved neighborhoods of South pastor died in Holland, Bronx. Not far away is and the ineptitudes and New York’s Church of deceptions of subsequent the Pilgrims, once home ministers left the church to Pastor Henry Ward in the spiritual care of its Beecher and his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, lay leaders. who both lauded the setIn the 1640s, when the tlers of Plymouth and yet English Puritans gained promoted the relocation of the upper hand in Parfreed slaves to Africa. liament and the national church was overthrown, Perhaps one day, Kozol Governor Bradford saw speculates, we will “feel his colony as “one small the grace of God” and candle” flickering at the abandon our tendency to far boundary of the Eng“quarantine the outcasts.” lish Reformation—hardly Thanksgiving Day can the cornerstone for a new certainly rise above its commonwealth. Why own tangled history when Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, is a creation of the Pilgrims’ village as God appeared to be finally we gather together to ask it was in 1627, with interpreters (or actors) who stay in character at all times. reforming England while the Lord’s blessing for all the Pilgrims were far away saints and exiles, and sing at the edge of another continent, was a mystery to the goverthe hymns of deliverance and grace. nor. Why so many Separatists—including Bradford’s young wife—died during that initial winter remained inexplicable, a pain so acute that the Pilgrims conspicuously avoided speaking of it in many of their early reports. God’s sovereignty was never questioned but often deemed beyond understanding. The Pilgrims themselves, like historians who followed, often came to question some of their early readings of Providence. They were never fully certain, for instance, whether the plague that wiped out the Native Americans at Pautext—where they established Plymouth—was Mark Sargent has been provost a divine act or a human tragedy. at Gordon since 1996. A former But in the midst of historical ambiguities and frequent Fulbright scholar in the Netherlands, he has gained recognideath, they remained grateful for the love of one another and tion for his original research and grateful that the “Spirit of God and His grace” had sustained numerous published articles on a remnant of their congregation, however drained by disease the Pilgrims and William Bradand uncertainties. ford. He received the Whitehill Prize in Colonial History for his Thanksgiving is sustained largely by the premise that we
Good Grief, It’s the Holidays Grieving and integrating our losses is an important part of life—especially around the holidays. Hospice pastor Tom Johnson-Medland says, “Our lives are intricately woven, wired and connected. It seems everything that happens is somehow a part of, or a step to, some other place in our lives.”
BY TOM JOHNSON-MEDLAND X ’83
hen I had to co-officiate the funeral for my grandfather, I was a wreck. Besides blubbering my way through one of the readings and a piece of the homily, I nearly fell into the grave prior to the interment. I hit that astro turf they placed around the grave with all my nerves and a new pair of slick, leather wingtips. Zoom! The abbot who had been officiating with me grabbed me by the arm, breaking my fall and averting a scene. As he pulled me up and steadied me, he leaned into my ear: “One at a time please, Tom. It’s not your turn.” I shared that memory at a local pastoral care workshop on death and dying; clergy are interested in such workshops because of their continual ministries with the dying and the grieved. I talked about coping with the holidays, recognizing that those special times can send shivers up the spines of many people—not just those of the clergy. The anticipation of being forced to celebrate amid the mending process of grief can be daunting. The holidays are times when we gather together as families, friends and a society as a whole. They are times to gain a sense of connection to the various communities we belong to. And, depending on the holiday and its meaning, there can be time for deep awe or gleeful abandon. Holidays always carry emotion, and because of that we connect deeply with the people around us who celebrate those festivities at any level. Consequently, when someone is suddenly absent, we miss them deeply around those special
HEIDI MARQUES ’93
times. It can take many years to integrate the loss of a loved one into the holiday celebrations and all of life. That kind of integration comes as we learn to live in the absence of our loved ones while still holding them present in our memories. One of my biggest challenges in this regard was relearning to celebrate my grandfather at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Pop-Pop made the family eggnog for all the major holidays, and several years in a row he included me in the preparations. I was 18 when I was invited into the inner circle of family lore and allowed to co-celebrate the sacred Levitical task of making the nog. Of course, at that age I had no eye to the future and didn’t care about writing down the recipe. You know where this is headed. Pop-Pop died with the family recipe in his head—and nowhere else. Over the past six years I have memorialized Pop-Pop at the holidays by spending time alone in my kitchen with all the ingredients I can recall. I dive into his remembered presence and pray I’ll call forth some mystic recipe that will come close. I haven’t come close, but I drag my attempts to the grave site, raise my cup, have a drink and pour some out for Pop-Pop and Mom-Mom every year—sometimes twice a year. I share a few stories, chuckle at some memories and pray for a better batch next year. It’s silly, but it’s my integration, my little ritual. What tends to get us the most in preparing for the holidays is the anticipation. Our fear tends to grow as we anticipate facing family, friends and traditional customs without our loved ones. Will we say and do the right things, or will we fall apart (as if falling apart is not the right thing)? Will somebody say something that will upset everyone? How will we get through? All of this builds and intensifies and forces us into a corner from which we would just as soon forget the whole mess and hide out. Although the holidays will be different because of our losses, and some changes may occur (like a new eggnog recipe or a new turkey carver or cook), it’s not the healthiest choice to forego old customs altogether. There are a few steps you can take to help gain back a little of the control you will need to integrate your loss. It’s not good to squash the feelings; instead, provide a healthy space for them to happen within. You need to feel, but not be overwhelmed by the feelings. Talking with friends and family about memories you have of your loved one will help. You can share stories that come from celebrating the holidays with them—the foods they liked or the special decorations they insisted on (or even how they hated something about a holiday). Talk about ways the holidays will be different without them.
Decide together how that could look. Perhaps someone else will need to make the pumpkin pie or carve the turkey. Maybe you could even invest that person with the new sacred task of doing it in memory of or in honor of your loved one: “Sally, we’d like you to be the one who bakes Mom’s pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I think she’d want it that way, and I know we’d be proud.” Or maybe you’ll need to go out for dinner since Mom always cooked it all and everyone feels it would be too much this first year to try it without her. Then plan to have a go at it the next year. You could give a special gift to someone, donate money to a worthy cause, plant a tree or send flowers in memory of your loved one. Because some holidays are filled with gift giving and presents, including your loved one in this can help integrate the loss by celebrating his or her life. Looking at pictures and videos is always a part of good, healthy family development. It’s a way of marking our days together and seeing how we’ve grown. Make sure to include some photos or footage of your loved one who is no longer with you. Sure, people will cry a bit, but allowing ourselves to feel the grief will keep us from sublimating the loss and being eaten alive by the overwhelming attack of buried emotion. Be gentle with yourself. Sit down and decide which of the holiday tasks will be tough and which ones easy. Write out a list of the tasks you need to do: buy gifts, get a tree and candles, send cards, etc. Beside each task, list some of the emotions you feel while thinking about the task: sadness, joy, fear, warmth. This will help you identify the different ways you were connected to the person and will help give you a piece of control via self-awareness. Get plenty of rest. Eat reasonable amounts of healthy foods. Stay away from excessive use of alcohol and other drugs. The wrong amount of any of these things is a form of trying to medicate yourself by obsessing on one thing (food, sleep, etc.) and avoiding the feelings of loss. Spend a balance of time with people and by yourself, with large groups and small. Go for walks and exercise. Breathe deeply. Cry. Laugh. Above all else, remember it will be very different. It will be tough. You have lost someone you love. Take your time, and don’t load yourself with anywhere near the amount of preparation or activity you would usually be involved in. Even if you didn’t love the person you lost, remember that we make connections and bonds based on repetition as well as fondness. Spending 40 years with someone you dislike intensely will still
build thousands of memories that will get jostled and displaced when that individual dies. Things will be different. After each day or event is over, make sure to check on yourself and on others who were close to the loved one you’ve lost. Think about the event and identify things you thought or felt or said. Then ask how you did with that—how you coped. Talk about it with others who know you or have experienced a similar loss. It might be a good idea to speak with a grief therapist or go to a grief/bereavement group. Check with your family doctor, a local hospital or a church for referral information. Processing these things won’t remove the pain of loss, but it will give you some control over your reactions. If you or someone you love is not eating, is sleeping all the time, skipping work or social events regularly or without giving notice ahead, abusing alcohol or drugs, or threatening to do harm, there could be serious and alarming problems. It may mean grieving is not going well, and while grieving is very different for everyone, some people will be dangerously close to the edge. Contact a doctor, clergy or therapist if you suspect these symptoms apply to you or someone you care about. The purpose of good grief is to integrate loss into the rest of life and to find appropriate ways to change the lives of the survivors, as well as to honor both the absence and the memory of the loved one. It’s the next step on the journey God has placed us on.
What tends to get us the most in preparing for the holidays is the anticipation. Our fear tends to grow as we anticipate facing family, friends and traditional customs without our loved ones.
Reprinted with permission from Bereavement Magazine, Colorado Springs, November/December 1999.
Father Tom serves as an Orthodox clergyman at SS. Peter and Paul CarpathoRussian Parish in Levittown, PA, and is full-time spiritual care coordinator at Lighthouse Hospice in Cherry Hill, NJ. Tom attended Gordon 1979–81. He has published numerous articles, poems and the book Turning Within: A Book on Christian Meditation. His wife, Glinda, is a social worker for Easter Seals, and they have two boys—Zachary, 5, and Josiah, 2.
the eason Recovering ecovering the Season
Have you wished for a way to separate the secular from the sacred at Christmas so you can fully enjoy both? Here are some ideas from the rich traditions of two Dutch immigrant families.
racy uperus A Blending of Dutch and American Legacies
KUPERUS AND ARLYNE SARGENT
s the daughter of Dutch immigrant parents, I remember fondly the traditions that made our family’s celebration of the Christmas holidays unique. The most notable tradition in our household, and the one that made my siblings and me the envy of our grade-school peers, was our opening of gifts early—at least two weeks before Christmas. Even with this head start, it was still difficult to be patient on the assigned day. We waited until my father, Fred Kuperus, a dairy farmer, was done with the milking before Tracy with husband Matthew and their son, Mark. we opened gifts. Tracy Kuperus has been assistant professor of political studies at Gordon since 1996. Her academic When he finally specializations are in comparative politics and interstrolled into the national relations. Tracy has research interests in house at 7 p.m., South African church-state relations and has written a book on the role the Dutch Reformed Church in my siblings and South Africa played in legitimizing apartheid. I followed him She holds a doctorate from the University of about the house Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. and hovered around while he cleaned up and ate his dinner. As he brought each spoonful of food to his mouth, we would ask, “Are you done, Dad?” Finally, he would say, “Ja, it’s time for presents.” My parents explained that we opened our presents early to separate gift-giving from the church’s celebration of Christmas on December 25. I later learned that opening presents well before Christmas was actually a carryover from their celebration of Sinterklaas Day when they were children in the Netherlands. Americans may be surprised to learn that Sinterklaas, a religious saint, is the forerunner of the secularized and Americanized Santa Claus. Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, is one of the most popular saints in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. He was born in A.D. 271 at Parara, a city in Lycia in Asia Minor, and was reared in a wealthy Christian family. After inheriting his family’s wealth, Nicholas chose to direct it toward the needs of the poor. Eventually he became the bishop of Myra, a city in Asia Minor that was under the influence of the Roman Empire. Many legends are told about the life of St. Nicholas speaking to his generosity, piety and love for children. The most famous story is his rescue of three unfortunate young sisters who had suitors but couldn’t marry because their father, a poor noble-
man, didn’t have the resources for their weddings. Hearing that their fate would be prostitution, Nicholas threw a bag of gold into the house, supplying the dowry for the eldest daughter. Later more gold arrived mysteriously for the second daughter, and then a third bag of gold was thrown down the chimney for the last daughter. The three bags of gold Nicholas gave the sisters made him the patron saint of merchants and maidens. He is also the patron saint of sailors due to legends about his rescue of ships captured in violent storms. Nicholas’ love for children led to accounts that he could bring them back to life after early deaths. How do these legends meld together into the celebration of Sinterklaas Day in the Netherlands? The feast day of St. Nicholas is December 6, the day on which it is believed St. Nicholas died. HistoriThis blending of faith and cal records show the school tradition can enrich the present children received “rewards or reprimands on that day moment, for it broadens our from teachers disguised as sense of community and brings the beloved bishop.”* The the realization that one’s life Protestant Reformation sought to stifle the customs is deeply impacted not only surrounding this feast day by contemporary society but because it was associated with the veneration of a by one’s forebears as well. Catholic saint. Over time, some countries and religious traditions merged St. Nicholas Day with Christmas, but the Netherlands, Germany and others continued to celebrate Sinterklaas Day on December 6 to commemorate the generosity and piety of St. Nicholas. The celebration of Sinterklaas Day in the Netherlands today is associated with giftgiving and merriment, with children as the center of attention. The Dutch welcome the arrival of St. Nicholas from Spain, possibly because 17thcentury Holland was known for its supremacy of the seas, and Dutchmen probably had much contact with Spanish sailors who had adopted St. Nicholas as their patron saint. So St. Nicholas arrives
12 GRAPHIC COURTESY OF THE DUTCH MARKET ONLINE WWW.DUTCHMARKET.COM
in the Netherlands on a steamboat from Spain. He is an old, slender man with a white, flowing beard, dressed in a bishop’s red garments and holding a golden crook. At night he rides a white horse, Schimmel, and delivers gifts to children’s homes with his helper, Zwarte Piet, a dark-skinned Spanish Moor. Anticipating St. Nicholas’ visit, children place their wooden shoes (klompen), filled with straw and carrots for Schimmel, outside the front doors of their homes. The next morning they discover the straw and carrots have been replaced with gifts. Children who have been naughty are left a birch switch or a lump of coal—or threatened with exile to Spain in Zwarte Piet’s big sack. Sometimes on December 5, the eve of the feast day, a loud knock on the front door will signal the arrival of Sinterklaas. Simultaneously, pepernoten—ginger snaps—are thrown by Zwarte Piet, although the family sees only his hand. Upon opening the front door, children are greeted with a sack of presents. The tradition of Sinterklaas arrived in the Americas with Dutch Protestants who settled in New Amsterdam (New York). It wasn’t until 1823, when Clement Clarke Moore published his famous poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” that Sinterklaas was popularized as the jolly, plump Santa Claus with elves and reindeer that American children know so well.
rlyne argent Faith and Tradition
hat jolly, plump Santa Claus was certainly a special part of childhood for me, yet Sinterklaas was always in the background. My father, Cornelius Van Dam—also a dairyman—had immigrated to California from the Netherlands during the Depression. At Christmastime he would pay a visit to the local Dutch bakery and emerge loaded with specialty breads, pastries, and, yes, pepernoten. We children struggled to imitate his accent as he sang of Sinterklaas delivering gifts to children in their stockings or wooden shoes. But it was not until my husband, Mark, and I lived briefly in the Netherlands that the Sinterklaas tradition came full circle. Our home was in Utrecht, an ancient yet modern university town—so modern that we wondered to what extent tradition would be maintained there. But on December 5 Sinterklaas made his way to our town to parade through the streets on his majestic white horse, his helpers sporting with the children by generously tossing pepernoten. My encounter with Sinterklaas in Holland not only brought back memories of my childhood but also helped me rediscover the religious figure that had been transformed into the American Santa Claus. Most of all, the merriment of December 5 left Christmas free to be a religious observance. Advent and Christmas were occasions when Christians could focus on the wonder of the Incarnation free of most of the commercialism that has engulfed Christmas today—a time to connect with tradition, to bask in the warmth of family and friends. That year we attended a Christmas Eve candlelight service at Grote Hervormde (Reformed) Church in Apeldoorn. We huddled with relatives for warmth on a snow-filled night, listening to the familiar melodies of carols sung in Dutch by the
congregation. And I was especially moved when, at the end of the service, the doors were flung open and the congregation stood in unison to sing its final hymn, “Ere Zij God”—“Praise to God.” Suddenly I was transported back to our annual Christmas dinner in southern California, where year after year I stood holding hands with aunts, uncles and cousins singing this very hymn in Dutch and English—the hymn my father and his family carried with them from Christmas Eves in their Arlyne with husband Mark and their children— own childhoods. And Bradford, Daniel and Andrea. I’ll sing it again in my Arlyne has teaching experience at home and abroad. She has taught English and English heart this year even as I as a second language at secondary and college look at the figure of St. levels, and worked in a Teen Mother ContinuaNicholas in his ecclesition Program for high schoolers. She currently conducts study skills workshops at Gordon. astical robe gracing our Arlyne holds a master’s in English from Cal table at Christmas. State University. This blending of faith and tradition can enrich the present moment, for it broadens our sense of community and brings the realization that one’s life is deeply impacted not only by contemporary society but by one’s forebears as well. In her book An Uncommon Correspondence, Gordon professor Ivy George speaks at length of the importance of being connected to a larger community. She recalls a time when she was “veritably moved to tears” at seeing a friend kneeling down to pray the Lord’s Prayer in Dutch during a worship service in Amsterdam. For this friend to “be able to pray in Dutch,” Ivy writes, “was to be in authentic connection and celebration of his own heritage although he was himself a second generation American. The universality of a distant God’s love or some fictive kinship in a nonspecific human community alone doesn’t seem to be sufficient. Such love and connectedness has to be materialized and incarnated in our actual lives. I certainly feel the insufficiency.” Probably most of us feel that insufficiency as we make our way in a fast-paced world that tends to discard rather than preserve the past—which values novelty over authenticity. Preserving the past takes time and effort, often in short supply in a demanding society. Perhaps we’re not called upon to speak fluently the language of our ancestors or to set out on long journeys to recover our pasts. But each of us at this holiday season can ask what elements from our own family histories and our Christian heritage can be used to preserve the season for the One who gave the greatest Gift of all. * See the following sources for more information on Sinterklaas traditions: The Boston Globe, December 6, 1997; http://christmas.com/ html/real_saint_nick.html; www.dutchmarket.com/sklaas.html
I Love It When I Hear Slippers Coming AN INTERVIEW WITH HAROLD MYRA BY PAT MCKAY ’65
AS PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL FOR 25 YEARS, Harold Myra sits atop a very important segment of the evangelical world. Another role he fills is less-known, though every bit as important—that of being a father. The parents of three birth children (two of whom are Gordon grads), he and his wife, Jeanette, adopted three African-American children 10 years ago. Harold’s latest book, Surprised by Children, is an intensely personal account of that journey. Influenced early in his life by his mother’s example of healing brokenness wherever she could, he was later drawn by his wife’s passionate desire to help any child God put in her pathway. Below are Harold’s answers to questions we posed about the Myras’ incredible adventure, followed by excerpts from his new book, due to be published by Zondervan early in 2001.
ou and Jeanette have made costly commitments for children. Where did your compassion and tenderness come from? From our parents, who did similar things for kids. Our families and faith communities always emphasized putting commitment into action. At Christianity Today we often use the phrase “We live by God’s surprises.” Jeanette and I never anticipated we’d be parents all over again. Prayer is dangerous, and the Christian life can be a wild journey. Saying “Lord, what should we do about this need?” sometimes turns your life upside down. Traditionally mothers have carried most child care responsibilities. What part should fathers carry today? Each couple must give that serious thought—at CTi we publish Marriage Partnership to explore those very issues. Simplistic answers don’t help. Fathers obviously have to help carry the load alongside their wives, but I’m concerned that evangelicals keep calling on fathers to be supermen. They’re supposed to be strong, sensitive, successful; they must attend every ball game their kids are in, plus carry a load at church and scramble to find a family-friendly yet well-paying career. What we lay on dads these days is unrealistic. And we do the same with a different script for mothers, so it puts enormous pressure on the whole family. Is raising your second family different from raising your first? In just 10 or 20 years, parenting challenges have grown dramatically. TV constantly pours out anti-parent messages; peers reinforce the attitude. The culture has shifted in shocking ways. 14
Recent Myra family photo. In front, Lindsey and Joshua. L to R: Daughter-in-law Lisa and son Todd, Rick, Harold, son Greg ‘98, Jeanette, son-in-law Andrew ’91 and daughter Michelle ’92 Wilson, 2000.
Agreed. Christian parents have an overwhelming task combatting our society’s destructive trends. How can parents find the strength and wisdom necessary? Perhaps first by recognizing early the size of the task and taking it very seriously. We need help from every possible source, including other Christian parents—and sometimes from professionals. Jeanette and I have turned to counselors more than once and been significantly helped. We need to be strong as parents, but we also need to recognize our weaknesses. Theologian Ole Hallesby [1879–1961] says prayer is for the helpless. We need lots of prayer. Lots of communication between spouses. Lots of good resources. Parenting books and videos can open up fresh ways of confronting both old and new challenges. Of course, all this takes time, which for most of us is in short supply. Yet
today’s parenting requires a full-court press. How do you make the daily transitions from being CEO of a dynamic organization to being the father of three lively young children as well as three grown children? Not always very well. Oswald Chambers, Fenelon [16th-century Christian] and others emphasize that we are called to the cross, to come and die with Christ. I would be foolish to project some totally successful formula. Life is a strange mixture of success and failure, sadness and brightness, sorrow and joy. In fact, it often strikes me that life is a lot more like literature than advice books let on—a lot more like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. I’m all for using the best biblical and psychological principles in building families, but life is deeply tragic and often not very fixable.
I’d read one estimate that an astounding 100,000,000 kids lived on the world’s streets. The size of the problem was paralyzing. . . . When someone would say the suffering of India was such a vast ocean of need that caring for the dying was hopeless—like taking thimblefuls from that ocean— [Mother Teresa] told them they had the wrong kind of math. Mother Teresa was in the subtraction business. She would show Jesus’ love to one person at a time. So how will you prepare your AfricanAmerican children for living in a racially divided world? Again, with much prayer—and maybe helplessness. Talk about complex and tragic! Recently I was reading Books and Culture proofs of an article on “Whiteness” describing how universities forcibly sensitize whites to their racial culpabilities. They load them up with guilt but provide no redemptive framework. Today black intellectuals differ among themselves; resentments deepen; white backlash keeps building. My children will likely experience the results of all that. On the other hand, we know many white couples who have adopted black children and have, like us, found blacks in the community very supportive. Some black professionals may view such adoptions as cultural genocide, but others close to the children know they must have homes. Transracial adoption breaks down walls. Making a child your beloved daughter or son has to change your perspective. When I see African-Americans on TV portrayed either positively or negatively, I now identify with them because of my own children. Racial profiling and outrageous injustices become personal. New racial-minority families like ours can contribute to racial healing. So I’m hopeful we’ll give our children not only love and a strong Christian identity, but also an understanding of their heritage, including the tragedies of past and present, and their own potential to make a difference. How has writing Surprised by Children affected you? It’s helped me realize that what really matters is our willingness to
let God call the shots. Jesus was intent on doing his Father’s work, and if I’m doing my own thing, I’m wasting my life. It doesn’t matter if I’m leading some organization or I’m on the floor with a child; what matters is having a sensitive ear to hear God’s call. As a teenager I was greatly impacted by God’s invitation in Jeremiah: “Call unto me, and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you know not” [33:3]. What are these great and mighty things? Maybe taking large leadership and influencing thousands of people. Or maybe giving yourself to lift one child. Is the work of a CEO more important than that of a parent? I think not. Mothers who see raising their children as their supreme calling are not choosing an inferior route. The hand that rocks the cradle does rule the world. When I read biographies of Truman, MacArthur and Franklin Roosevelt, I was struck by how these
men of action—who in a sense saved civilization for us—were thoroughly the products of their mothers, remarkably energized by them psychologically and spiritually. I think it’s tragic that evangelicals have polarized over gender issues. Instead of seeing complexities and balance, we caricature other Christians with opposite viewpoints. Those who advocate more traditional roles for women are dismissed as hopeless Neanderthals; those who want women “fully enfranchised” are depicted as having collapsed into the arms of radical feminists. Somehow, in our imperious indictments we’ve lost the romance and the dance between man and woman. Yes, let sons and daughters fully live out their potential—and at the same time, viva la difference! Is the mainstream evangelical movement looking more and more like mainstream non-Christian culture as some are suggesting? If so, what can we—or should we—do about that? We’re all swimming in this culture, and with few exceptions we have all become media creatures. Of course we’ve been strongly affected, and we can’t avoid getting polluted. But as always, it’s the best of times and the worst of times. Historically the church has been co-opted—assimilated—over and over. So what’s new? Our challenges are huge, but so are our opportunities and resources. We need rigorous calls to discipleship, sound theology and a positive gospel that reveals the holy God of Scriptures. Alongside discouraging reports, tremendous things are happening in believers’ lives—we write about them in CT all the time. Let’s rejoice in that and not lose heart.
Harold with Lindsey and Joshua, 1993
In light of your heavy schedule and commitments, why have you agreed to serve on the Gordon College Board of Trustees? Because of Jud and Jan Carlberg, of course! Seriously, for decades Jeanette and I have highly respected Jud and Jan. They’ve brought extraordinary leadership to Gordon, maintaining and developing a wonderful team. Whenever I am on campus I sense a positive spirit among board, faculty, staff and students. The stimulus of being near Boston creates an academic edge that engages and challenges one’s Christian thought and action. Is there a moment described in the book that sums up your feelings about the adoptions?
When Lindsey was six, on New Year’s day the worst blizzard in 30 years struck Chicago. Our family was hunkered down, enjoying snug moments as snow swirled outside. Rick was on the phone to Todd in Minneapolis and Josh had just made me laugh—I’d made a big speech about no two snowflakes being alike, and Josh had said with raised eyebrows, “You’re making all this up!” Lindsey was coloring in the family room. When I eased myself onto the couch
Surprised by Children
y eyes go to shelves full of books and articles on our country’s racial tragedies. I feel the tug to start this book with chapters on why so much has changed since 1939, yet so little—and why race continues to bitterly divide us, and why thousands of beautiful black children have no homes. As I flip through notes and photos . . . images of children dance in my head. I am thinking, What a careening ride these kids have taken me on. Though I haven’t been dodging bullets or dangling from rooftops, I feel I’ve been living out a wild adventure. Quirky, mysterious, humbling adventure. Mostly I just felt amazed [that I had been appointed president, publisher and chief executive officer of CTi at age 35]. . . . Yet I was sobered by Jeremiah’s blunt counsel (45:5): “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. . . .” As I was getting ready for [my first meeting with CTi’s full board], the past year’s events suddenly struck me as humorous. In a few minutes I would report that we had finished the year $300,000 to the good. This was because the magazine had been underpriced, so we had roughly doubled the price and offered an advance subscription. That was the extent of my genius. As I looked in the mirror and adjusted my tie, laughter bubbled up. Here I was, the kid from the Poconos, and I’d soon be greeted by all those older movers and shakers and academics as the whiz kid of the moment. How crazy life was. Rosemary Budd speaks to this humor: “Trusting God takes us on a journey into humility. Humility is to
Jeanette with baby Rick, 1987
beside her, she said with a little smile, “I love it when I hear slippers coming.” I wondered if I’d heard her right. “Why?” I’d asked. “Why do you love it when you hear slippers?” She grinned. “Because I know that means you are coming.” As I looked down at the floppy slippers on my feet, I thought of how precious she and the boys were. Our family had been through a lot just then. For months my dad had been in our home dying of cancer, and when he took his last breath, the three children were with me in the room. Moments after he died, Lindsey’s loving, eloquent responses showed her childlike faith shining through her grief. Seeing such ignitings of faith in these young lives puts all the “costly commitments” into perspective.
live in the truth . . . about myself. . . . That is why the music of humility is laughter.” . . . What a freeing reality! A small publishing decision had enabled CT to regain its momentum. Publishing mountains yet to climb were huge, but I had a settled sense that it was more than I who was directing things and that I was—to use the title of Ken Taylor’s autobiography—on some sort of a “guided tour.”
[After learning of the murder of a neighbor by Richie, a foster child of Harold’s parents who had been returned to his birth family.] I stopped at a dried-out pond that I had stood beside a few weeks before when it had been full of algae and suffocating fish. I’d watched the little fish sticking their mouths out of the dying pond, desperate for oxygen. Now it was all dried muck, the fish dead. “Your world is beautiful—but brutal,” I accused. “Wasn’t Richie just like those fish? Trapped, doomed. Richie the victim who goes on to victimize. Lord, how can you run your world with such capricious horror?” Never before had I prayed like that. I prayed a very long time with many tears. The response was crystal clear: “I’m not upset by your prayers.” On the contrary, it was as if God had been waiting for me to look evil full in the face and confront Him. God seemed to say, “How do you think I feel. . . . Haven’t I wept . . . ? Haven’t I sent My Son to die for them?” That flowed into me as personal, forceful connections with God. I sensed He was drawing me into His perspective, that He was calling me almost as a colleague to join forces in extending His love, to intercede for others in their helplessness . . . and that He was, indeed, in charge, transcending all tragedies.
[Harold and Jeanette also gave foster care to a baby named Rick until at 16 months he was returned to his mother. But Rick continued to spend time with the Myras until at age 31/2
his mother decided he belonged with them permanently.] In doing foster care, we had not been remotely thinking of adoption. . . . As Rick grew older, it became harder and harder to take him back to his apartment. As Jeanette would drive to within a few blocks so that Rick recognized the neighborhood, he would start puckering up and tears would flow. By the time they reached the parking lot, Rick would be hysterical. Once Jeanette had to call on adults to help her pry Rick’s protesting little body from the car. One day . . . [his mother] came up with a suggestion: “Ricky keeps saying, “Call Jeanette.” He loves coming to your house. Could you take him for a couple years, while I get back to school and get a job?” Jeanette knew in their community cousins would live with relatives for extended periods. Yet she also knew Rick couldn’t be rooted in our community, then go back. “I couldn’t do that,” Jeanette told her. “No way. We couldn’t give him back after having him for two years. . . . Want me to keep him forever? . . . Our family loves him. . . . You want us to adopt him?” [Rick’s mother] had apparently been thinking about this and quickly said that our adopting Rick was a good idea. Jeanette and I knew transracial adoption was highly controversial. I had been amazed to learn how viscerally the National Association of Black Social Workers condemned it. They and the NAACP accused whites like us —Lindsey, helping Harold who adopted black chilgrasp the meaning dren of . . . “blatant cultural of adoption genocide.” The organizations were reacting to unfair instances of black mothers losing their children to whites and of kids raised with little preparation for life in a black skin. On the other hand, significant studies showed black children raised by whites generally grew up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. And for thousands of children, it was a choice of white parents or the devastating foster care system. . . . In our concern to share our love and God’s love, might we only make things worse? Would children we adopted be denied an ethnic heritage vital to their well-being? Would our divided, embittered society create ever larger chasms of enmity we could never bridge? . . . [We] sat in a small semicircle of white suburban adults. All were considering transracial adoption. . . . [The leader] was supportive of such adoptions when other alternatives were unavailable. He told us of the racism we would encounter. . . .
L to R: Rick, Lindsey and Joshua, 1994—now ages 14, 8 and 9
Then he asked us a sobering question. His eyes swept across each face in the room as he asked in sharp tones: Who are you, that you think YOU can raise a black child? . . . Who, indeed, was I? Nordic white, for one thing! How could I be dad to a descendant of black slaves? Were we being presumptuous?
[As Harold and Jeanette went through the red tape of adopting a second black child.] If there’s such a need, why do I have to jump through all these hoops again? But as I prayed about it, I thought of missionHarold with Joshua and Lindsey, 1996 aries taking the Good News into remote areas. Some worked through maddening red tape and numbing obstacles to help people who would just as soon kill them. Efforts to do good are seldom efficient or appreciated. If we were following God’s direction, we couldn’t expect Him to drop every detail into our laps. Taking risks and perhaps being a fool were part of it, too. With Rick and baby Joshua, [Jeanette] was checking her bags [at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport]. A black skycap helping her with her luggage said, “Say, tell me something. What are you doing with these two boys?” The question made Jeanette apprehensive. “We’ve adopted them,” she said, studying his face. “What do you think about that?” The skycap put his hand on Jeanette’s arm. “Bless you. You know, if more people would do that, we wouldn’t have such a problem with racism.” . . . How could it possibly not help break down walls if blacks and whites are blended in loving families? . . . . . . Whenever we would happen to meet African-Americans, they would show strong approval.
[After an imminent third adoption fell through.] It seemed evident the journey of faith had more mystery and adventure than clarity. We seemed to be like explorers in a strange land, seeking wisdom from counselors, principles from Scriptures, nudges from the Holy Spirit, but then having to make our interpretations, and choose in the crossroads. We concluded perhaps God had burst into our lives to make us keep our door open. We went to McDonald’s with our young black children and older white children. Across from us sat a middle-aged black couple with two little white boys they were caring for. Blacks caring for whites. Whites for blacks. Beautiful music together. Each heritage celebrated. Respect and love going beyond family and race. I retreated to my den, sat down heavily and turned to my friend Fenelon, the French Christian who lived in the late 1600s. On the very first page of his book The Seeking Heart, he told me, “Do not resist what God brings into your life. Be willing to suffer. God prepares a cross for you that you must embrace without thought of self-preservation.” Ouch! Beside those words I had written some months before, “Adoptions!” and then an arrow to this: “See God's hand in the circumstances of your life . . . nothing so shortens and soothes your pain as the spirit of
nonresistance to your Lord. Do not reject the full work that the power of the Cross could accomplish in you.” A few pages later I had marked: “Bear your cross. Learn to see yourself as you are, and accept your weakness until it pleases God to heal you.” And then I read for probably the 50th time the words that had emblazoned themselves on my mind: “Embrace the difficult circumstances you find yourself in—even when you feel they will overwhelm you. Allow God to mold you through the events He allows to enter your life. The events of life are like a furnace for the heart.”
[At the death of Harold’s 91-year-old father.] [Six-year-old] Lindsey had gone into the kitchen and, in her grieving, was making her own transition. The tears were dried on her face, and somehow she was sensing the exuberance of Dad’s entry into heaven, for she began singing softly. . . . Her little body was moving with rhythm and sound in a lively tune that perfectly matched the words. The music and words entered our grief like white doves Lindsey, 1997 in darkness. . . . Lindsey sang for me and all my struggles in this world of joy mixed with dying, this world of surreal goodbyes, yet great hopes. I stirred up the fire, then reached for . . . [the] student publication and [Rick’s] essay, “The Best Gift”. . . . “Of all the gifts I’ve ever received,” it started, “the best one is the gift my parents gave me when I was adopted. . . . Because of being adopted, I was given the gift of life. . . . . . . My parents show me a ton of love and affection, and that is an important thing to know when you are growing up.” . . .
Reaching beyond Reluctance BY GREG MYRA ’98
ne evening as I was talking to my parents on the phone, the subject of my father’s forthcoming book came up. He was trying to figure out a title for the book and was discussing various working titles. Some of the publicity people had run with The Reluctant Father, but Dad wasn’t pleased with that one. Several episodes in the book do detail my father’s reluctance to take on the different and difficult endeavor of adoption. But the book also shows my mother’s cheering him on to do bold things for Christ—making a positive difference in this world of dark human tragedy and taking courageous steps into that world of challenge together. That’s the central theme of the book. Since I share some of my father’s cautious traits, I can appreciate his desire to emphasize reaching beyond that reluctance. My parents led my siblings and me to reach out in ways we never could have imagined on our own, and included us in ways that made us feel we were on a brave adventure along with them. Especially in my teenage years when life got a bit rough, having little siblings to look out for and play with was a real joy for me. But this was not just a big, happy family experience. We were all given a sense that we had our parts to play in this special challenge. While we enjoyed the blessing of family, we were also blessed by the realization that each of us was making a difference for Christ in the world in which we live. In addition to the joy new family members always brought me, I developed a love of being with children that has led me to formal work with children in several settings thus far in my life. I have also gained from my parents a unique sense of fulfillment and a modeling of mission that have formed my worldview: I am indeed called to be my brother’s keeper. They have taught me that moving beyond my reluctance to accept challenges God sends me, often brings blessings far richer and more wonderful than I can imagine.
. . . Maybe Rick’s little school essay was the year’s best gift to Jeanette and me.
Excerpts taken from SURPRISED BY CHILDREN by HAROLD MYRA. Copyright © 2001 by Harold L. Myra. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. Available at your local bookstore or by calling 800-727-3480.
Left to right: Lindsey, Joshua, Rick, Greg and Harold, celebrating Rick’s 11th birthday, 1997. Greg graduated from Gordon with a major in English literature and is currently working on a master’s in New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He enjoys being a gymnastics instructor and is involved in the college ministry at North Shore Community Baptist Church in Beverly Farms, MA.
As editor, author and publishing executive, Harold Myra oversees Christianity Today International—its 12 magazines (including Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Leadership and Books and Culture), a major Internet presence and the copublishing of various books and products. In May the Evangelical Press Association added to his list of impressive honors the EPA’s highest tribute, the Joseph T. Bayly Award for Outstanding Service to Christian Periodical Publishing. In addition to writing more than a dozen books, Myra has taught at the college level and holds honorary doctorates from several schools including Gordon, on whose Board of Trustees he serves. Earlier this year CTi established an annual scholarship of $5000 at Gordon in his honor.
GIFTS & GIVING
THE CLARENDON SOCIETY
Gordon honors those who help ensure the legacy.
hey are as young as 27, as old as 102. They live as far away as Australia. A number of them work for Gordon College as faculty, administrators and staff. They are graduates of Gordon, Barrington, and Providence Bible Institute, or just good friends of the College. Who are these people and what do they have in common? Simply this: They believe in the mission of Gordon College as a Christian liberal arts school, and they want to ensure its stable existence for years to come. They have helped secure the future of this great school by making planned gifts to the College or through simple bequests in their wills. And when they notified the College of their intentions, they were welcomed into The Clarendon Society—an organization established to show appreciation to those who want to further the Kingdom of God through planned gifts to the College. Throughout the history of this school, Gordon graduates have served worldwide as missionaries, pastors, teachers, social workers, musicians, actors, accountants, business men and women, doctors and scientists, just to name a few. And each spring the College sends out more young women and men to join this great cloud of witnesses and make a difference in their world.
Ninety-eight-year-old Katherine Lindsay established a charitable gift annuity that is being used to help establish an endowed scholarship. Presently we have over 200 members in the Society, and this year we’re looking to raise that number to over 300. Planned gifts play a crucial role in the growth of the College’s endowment. We’re striving to reach a goal of $50 million in total endowment over the next five years, and your planned gift—no matter the size—can help us accomplish that.
them, are unwilling to compromise on standards of integrity and excellence; who are motivated to serve others; and who will extend the light of God’s truth wherever they go. The return on your investment is the richness of opportunities Gordon offers to those students as they carry into a new millennium a heritage of faith and a commitment to leadership.
HO ARE SOME OF GORDON’S NEWEST CLARENDON SOCIETY MEMBERS?
Diane Blake ’58 is a long-time faculty member who has made provisions through a living trust to promote the development of ethnic diversity in the makeup of the student body and faculty. She also wants to support the exchange program with Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya. One young couple who graduated from Gordon in the ’80s (and wish to remain anonymous) established a deferred gift annuity that will help underwrite the sciences here at Gordon.
OW CAN YOU BECOME A PART OF SUCH A LEGACY? There are many ways to become a member of The Clarendon Society:
• Name Gordon College as a beneficiary in your will or living trust • Give gifts through a charitable trust • Establish a charitable gift annuity • Participate in the College’s Pooled Income Fund • Offer a remainder interest in life insurance or personal residence
OUR PLANNED GIFT TO
GORDON WILL HELP SHAPE THE NEXT
GENERATION OF GORDON STUDENTS, who, like those before
E LOOK FORWARD TO ANSWERING YOUR SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
AND PROVIDING THE RESOURCES YOU NEED for estate planning and planned gifts. If you already have a plan in place in which you’ve made a provision for Gordon, we’d love to hear from you. We want to say thank you by inviting you to our annual Clarendon Society luncheon—where you will hear from current students what being at Gordon means to them—and to other special events throughout the year. Being aware of your planned gift also helps the College prepare better for the future.
There are several ways to contact Philip Best, director of gift planning. Phone: 978.927.2306, ext. 4228; e-mail: email@example.com; Gordon’s website: www.gordon.edu. PAT MCKAY ’65
In 1961 the Clarendon Bell was removed from the condemned steeple of Boston’s Clarendon Street Baptist Church (where A. J. Gordon began the College in 1889) and brought to the Wenham campus. It was housed in a shelter behind Prince Chapel in 1963. In 1997 it was relocated in the gazebo in a more central location. BELL SKETCH BY BRYN GILLETTE ’01
PROFS & PROGRAMS
Coach Valerie Gin believes team sports provide excellent opportunities to teach faith-building and godly character. This is a glimpse at how she practices what she preaches with Gordon’s volleyball team. BY
he stands were filled with enthusiastic fans cheering wildly for the home team. Spectacular plays were made by both Bates and Gordon, players diving to the ground, unselfishly sacrificing their bodies to prevent the volleyball from hitting the court. In one of the most exciting matches in recent Gordon volleyball history, the two teams brought out the best in each other as they battled to the finish. It was the first match of the annual Gordon College Volleyball Invitational in September, showcasing some of the best teams in New England—Bates College, MIT and Wheaton College (MA). During that three-hour duel, each actionpacked point was a hard-fought, drawn-out battle of skills and wills.
as if “what you do is your business, and what I do is mine.” The Apostle Paul tells Christians in I Timothy 4:7–8, “Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Coaching enables me to build strong relationships with my players, help them strengthen their physical abilities and improve team play. But more importantly, it allows me a four-year opportunity to encourage them to be reflections of Christ in all they do. Last season our team was very young. I knew we needed to become a cohesive unit to meet the demands of our competitive schedule as well as reflect Christ in all our interactions. In an effort to build a strong squad, our first day of practice revolved around team-building initiatives.
TRAINING FOR TOMORROW “holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” But the most incredible component for me as a coach that evening was seeing my team work as a unit so early in the season while playing one of the top teams in New England. It was also rewarding to see the fans recognize, applaud and encourage this unity and perseverance. Few situations in our culture train young people to work as closely and interdependently with one another as the game of volleyball. Players must learn and practice commitment; live out what it means to put others before oneself; love sincerely; sacrifice for the sake of the common good; and not take glory for oneself. It takes intentional effort to develop these attitudes and traits. As I analyze tactical and technical deficiencies in their volleyball skills to help each member of the team improve, I have the privilege and opportunity to guide their spiritual growth as well. Volleyball is a unique team sport. Six team members play in an area 30 feet square, with every action requiring the attention and appropriate responses from all six players to achieve the objectives of the game. Problem-solving must occur decisively and quickly. In order to score or serve, each team strives to create impossible circumstances for the other team to overcome. To score, a team must work together to convert an opponent’s offensive attack into a counterattack. Six people must deal with an endless array of circumstances on the court and respond as a single unit to be successful. This is also how the body of Christ functions when it’s working well. But within the church, as well as in society, we often act as if our actions don’t affect others. Too often we act 20
We spent the next few weeks drafting a covenant based on Ephesians 4:16: “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Acknowledging that it is only from Him that each of us would be able to carry out our commitment to the team, we made a pact together to have personal daily devotions. Using this verse as our goal, the following questions were posed during practices and matches to keep us focused on making this covenant a practical reality:
Are we acknowledging who God is in what we’re doing? Is each part of the body growing in love? Is each part of the body being supported to promote growth? Where is the body weak or hurting? Are the joints and ligaments holding up securely? Are there any vulnerable parts? Are we giving honor to everyone? Is love prevalent?
When teamwork would break down during a drill, I’d stop and reiterate these questions in an effort to help them live out their covenant commitments. At times I would even hear teammates challenging each other with these same questions. Each athlete chose an accountability partner who encouraged her and kept her accountable to the covenant. Attending practice when one doesn’t feel like it, persevering through a hard drill, taking
Twenty years from now the success of these Gordon volleyball alumnae will not be measured in points but in how well they are reflecting Christ in whatever team they comprise.
responsibility for one’s own actions and attitudes, loving difficult teammates—all of these are vital aspects of becoming a member of a team as well as a member of the body of Christ. The goal of reflecting Christ became a reality for our team through God’s grace, prayer, a daily commitment to practice, and holding each other to the covenant. As the team began to demonstrate Christlike characteristics more consistently, our unity on and off the court became more apparent. Just as Jesus prayed in John 17 that the disciples would be one so the world would believe that Christ was sent by God, so we too strive to display team unity so our opponents, spectators and officials will know that God exists and lives in and through us. Gordon did squeak out that first Invitational game with Bates 18-16. We lost the second and third games, and it was looking pretty grim in the fourth game of the match with the Scots down 13-6. But the team rallied with an impressive nine-point run to beat Bates 15-13. In the last and deciding game of the match, the weary but determined Scots persevered and pulled off a stunning 15-10 victory.
Although we were successful at scoring more points than Bates on that day, the important achievement was that we functioned as a team and as the body of Christ. Twenty years from now the success of these Gordon volleyball alumnae will not be measured in points but in how well they are reflecting Christ in whatever team they comprise. In their homes, relationships, churches and job responsibilities, they will continue to have opportunities to fulfill Paul’s vision of displaying the value of godliness “for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
Above: The women’s volleyball team is all smiles after winning the Gordon Invitational: w—Bates 3-2; w—MIT 3-1; w—Wheaton 3-1. This is the first athletic team in Gordon’s history to qualify for National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament play. Left: Senior captain Kim Bohannon ’01 spiking. L to R: Amy Shellrude ’02; Lori Clemens ’01; Lauren Barnes ’04.
PHOTOS BY RALPH MCMECHEN ’69B
Below: Coach Gin during a time-out.
Valerie Gin is assistant professor of recreation and leisure studies, head women’s volleyball coach and senior women’s administrator. In her 12th season at Gordon, she is among all-time win leaders in the history of Gordon sports and was recently selected Coach of the Year by the Commonwealth Coast Conference. Val is chair of the NCAA All-American New England Region Committee and a member of the Board of Directors for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Last summer she held sports clinics in Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Singapore. She also serves as youth director at First Parish Church in Manchester, MA. Val holds a doctoral degree in human movement from Boston University.
Forgiving Third World Debt This article is based on remarks delivered at a panel discussion on debt forgiveness sponsored by the Association of Christian Economists at the Allied Social Science Association meetings in Boston in January 2000. BY STEPHEN SMITH
the governments of rich countries) he international campaign to forgive the debts of as well as debts to the World Bank the world’s poorest countries has been a striking and IMF. The Jubilee campaign turn-of-the-millennium phenomenon. The Jubilee opposes placing economic policy-reform conditions on debt 2000 campaign, representing scores of Christian and secular forgiveness. It advocates that the funds saved through debt development agencies, has deservedly caught the imaginaforgiveness be spent on health, education and social welfare tion of many in the West who are eager for practical ways to projects. This spending would be supervised by boards with fight poverty. It’s especially attractive for Christians because it representatives from poor-country governments, civic groups draws strength from the biblical concept of jubilee: proclaimand the business sector. ing release to the captives—Leviticus 25. For all these reasons, in the popular mind and among The United States supports the HIPC approach and parts Christians the question is of the Jubilee 2000 proposal. settled. Debt forgiveness is a President Clinton has promised good thing. After all, one of that the U.S. will forgive 100 the world’s most prominent percent of Africa’s bilateral debt What’s notable economists, Harvard’s Jeffrey to the U.S. government. This is a bit messy because Sachs, has endorsed it. And about the biblical there’s no international law the world’s most prominent concept of forgiveness is regulating country bankruptChristian thinker, the Pope, cies. The world must make has also endorsed it. Bread for that it is not unconditional. things up as it goes along. The the World, World Vision and many other Christian agencies Jubilee 2000 campaign corGod’s love is unconditional. have made debt forgiveness a rectly points out that at pres. . . But forgiveness is linked high priority. What’s left to ent the creditor nations set the say? rules for forgiveness, whereas a to repentance and the There’s a lot left to say. proper bankruptcy procedure restoration of right The idea of forgiving debt is would offer protection to debtindeed worthy: rich nations ors as well as creditors. relationships. with strong economies giving Does Debt Forgiveness Assist tangible help to less fortunate the World’s Poor? nations. But discussions about Surprisingly, perhaps, it’s not the issue often miss two crucial clear that debt forgiveness questions: Will large-scale debt improves the lot of the poor. That’s because it isn’t debt that forgiveness achieve its desired end of reducing poverty and stops governments of poor countries from doing the simple, promoting justice for the poor? Is there truly a moral imperainexpensive things that would most effectively alleviate povtive that these debts be forgiven? erty. Two Debt Forgiveness Plans It’s hard not to be moved by staTo contemplate the pros and cons, it’s helpful to lay out the tistics such as this one recently noted by Bread for the World features of the two debt forgiveness plans being considered. about Tanzania: Scheduled debt payments are equivalent to 80 First, there’s the Heavily Indebted Poor Country initiative, or percent of the government budget and leave “vital needs—like HIPC—the official plan of the World Bank and International roads, health care and education—sorely neglected.” Monetary Fund (IMF). It’s limited to 41 poor countries whose But the fact that debt payments are such a high share of debt burden is particularly high (most of them in Africa). To the budget says more about the dysfunction of the Tanzanian take advantage of debt reduction, a country must demonstrate government—tax policy has been grossly mismanaged—than three years of consistent policy reform and a proven track it does about the size of the debt. Tanzania’s scheduled debt record in implementing antipoverty strategies. Debt reduction payments are only 17 percent of its export earnings. The debt is then phased in over the next three years. would be affordable if the economy were managed well. Second, there’s the more radical proposal of the Jubilee This pattern is repeated across many poor countries; their 2000 campaign. It calls for canceling the debts of the world’s actual debt is quite small. For the 41 HIPC countries, interest 52 poorest countries, including bilateral debt (debt owed to payments are only 6 percent of exports, while total debt service 22
FARRAH CARMICHAEL ’02
Christian Ethics and
How Should Debt Forgiveness Work? Biblical teaching on forgiveness, jubilee and concern for the poor is directly relevant to this point. What’s notable about the biblical concept of forgiveness is that it is not unconditional. God’s love is unconditional, and individuals are exhorted to love one another unconditionally as well. But forgiveness is linked to repentance and the restoration of right relationships between the parties involved. Likewise the jubilee—the release of slaves from debt—has at its core the concept of restoration of right relationships among families, and between families and the land. Nor is it simply about restoring relationships between debtor and creditor. It is not redistribution for its own sake. This suggests that from a Christian ethical point of view, significant conditions on debt forgiveness are vital to make certain all right relations are established. Three kinds of conditions would make sense. First, we must ensure that the benefits of debt reduction really reach the poor. The Jubilee 2000 proposal is patently inadequate; it asks that funds from debt savings be spent by quasi-official national trusts. Even if debt savings go dollar-for-dollar into desirable social spending, governments may cut back their existing social welfare budgets. Direct government budget spending requirements must be written into debt forgiveness agreements. Christopher Barrett of Cornell University, a distinguished Christian economist, has
gone so far as to suggest that there be a moratorium on debt payments rather than outright forgiveness in order to enforce this outcome. Second, overall economic policy reform is equally important. It is the prerequisite for long-term growth and eradicating both poverty and the conditions which make debt burdensome. Debt remission without stiff policies will encourage some poor countries to persist in risky policies, and delay reforms. Most importantly, it is policy reform that establishes right relationships between the poor and their all-too-frequently predatory state. Therefore, debt remission without policy reform is not really a jubilee but rather a one-time handout. Thus the HIPC plan is superior to the Jubilee 2000 approach on Christian ethical grounds; it requires a three-year, upfront commitment to policy reform and credible social safety nets. A third necessary condition is that no relief would be provided countries presently at war (peacekeeping duties excepted) or in a civil war, such as that in Sudan. It is dismaying that the Jubilee 2000 campaign makes no exception for providing debt relief to this violent and repressive government or others similar to it. What Else Should the West Do? Christian understanding of forgiveness and jubilee requires that we in the West remain concerned for the whole of the economic relationship between debtor and creditor nations. Thus debt forgiveness cannot be the extent of U.S. policy towards Africa. There will be a temptation to cut other aid as debt forgiveness occurs. Progress on debt forgiveness should not crowd out concern for free trade between the U.S. and Africa. Nor should it divert the West from framing a generous assistance plan to address AIDs in Africa. The U.S. and other western nations may find it hard to press initiatives on all of these fronts simultaneously, but that is what’s necessary. Properly handled, debt forgiveness will be a help. Biblical principles support conditional, prudently managed debt forgiveness in the context of overall economic policies geared to promote growth and well-being. The details matter. Citizens and policymakers alike have the important work of sorting out the thorny particulars of the way ahead. Stephen Smith has been professor of economics and business at Gordon since 1987. He is coeditor of Faith & Economics, published by the Association of Christian Economists. Steve’s most recent work has focused on measuring the extent and economic consequences of globalization. He holds a doctorate from Stanford University.
PAT MCKAY ’65
payments are only 15 percent. The chronic shambles of rural Kenyan elementary schools has little to do with paying off debt and a lot to do with the misplaced priorities of a corrupt political regime over the past 30 years. Pakistan’s problems with disease have virtually nothing to do with debt but arise from the government’s complete unwillingness to spend money on the rural poor. Instead they invest heavily in their atomic bomb program. The linchpins of development in poor countries are domestic economic policies, government aims and capabilities, and cultural and religious values. If these are conducive to growth and poverty reduction, debt forgiveness will be a secondorder concern, and the country will do well over the long haul with or without it. If domestic policies are not wise, or if government is not seriously concerned with fighting inequity, debt relief may not make any difference for the poor. This line of reasoning is not necessarily an argument against providing debt relief. But it means the fundamental Christian normative concern for the poor requires us to evaluate the details of debt forgiveness carefully. Whether or not a particular plan makes sense depends on its likely consequences, the cost of alternative—and perhaps more effective—means of assistance, and putting mechanisms in place to FARRAH CARMICHAEL ’02 make certain debt reduction really helps the poor.
RAVES & REBUFFS
In this column our readers can respond to articles in STILLPOINT or voice thoughts about Gordon in general. Reserving the right to edit for space, we will attempt to publish a balance of positive and negative comments. We hope to hear from you. Write to Editor, STILLPOINT, Gordon College, 255 Grapevine Road, Wenham, MA 01984, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous letters will not be published. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO HAVE EXCERPTS OF YOUR RESPONSE PUBLISHED, PLEASE NOTE THAT. Letters written to individuals other than the editor are forwarded to those persons whenever possible.
page 2 [of the Summer 2000 issue] you state that “Sister O nBenedicta Ward, a world-renowned scholar, came to Gordon in
a wonderful way to culminate the PBI/Barrington CenW hat tennial—with the conferring of an honorary degree upon
March to speak about the father of history, the Venerable Bede.” I doubt that Bede has ever been called “the father of history” until you [gave] him this honor. Perhaps your printer just made a mistake, since Bede has “richly earned the title of ‘father of English history.’” This quote from Leo Sherley-Price, Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon, Plymouth, in his translation of Bede’s “history.”
Mrs. Ferrin [as well as] the commitment to the Barrington Scholar Award. The Homecoming Weekend was a New England spectacular! And many thanks to President Carlberg, Bob Grinnell, Jon Tymann, Roger Green, Steve MacLeod and others at Gordon who made this celebration year possible. Also, one long overdue thanks must go to President [David] Horner, who in our darkest hour had the courage and the wisdom to steer us through a stormy course and lead us to safe ground. Fifteen years ago both institutions could only dream about what the combined colleges have become. Not only has our heritage been preserved, but also the campus is alive with new growth, new buildings, new spirit. For those who have not yet seen the new Gordon College, come see who we are! The joy is reflected on the hundreds of young faces on campus. It is, indeed, very good. Our God reigns.
Carl R. Danielson, ’50B Excerpts from two letters sent to Professor Sybil Coleman about her article on Christians and homosexuality, “Where Compassion and Condemnation Collide,” in the Summer 2000 Stillpoint: our article . . . is so wonderfully loving and balanced. So few articles on the subject suggest a Christian attitude toward those who [are] different. I can believe that [you have] a ministry of great blessing to hurting people. The magazine is well-done. The [article] about [the Marion Hancock Emery Room] is appreciated by the family.
Allan C. Emery Jr.
hanks for writing the article in [Stillpoint]. I appreciate your sensitivity and thoughtfulness in handling a challenging subject. Paul Hubley ’65
s a 1980 Gordon alumna, I commend the editor of Stillpoint for the decision to include an article addressing how Christians are confronting homosexuality. Author Sybil Coleman points out rightly that this issue is a growing source of contention among Christians. I hope my letter will be taken in the spirit in which it is offered—not contention, but love. . . . The use of “they” and “them” to describe gay and lesbian folks is unnecessarily hurtful. We are, rather, “us,” full-fledged members of the body of Christ and called to joyous and responsible lives in that body. To assume that the only Christians reading the Gordon alumni magazine are heterosexual, or unhappily gay, is to do violence to the reality of the risen Jesus in the lives of mature, deeply committed Christian women and men. . . . Furthermore, Ms. Coleman’s article presents “case studies” that do not accurately represent the lives of the Christian gay and lesbian people I know. To assume most gay folk are gay because they are “repulsed” by the opposite sex, or because they have been abused or manipulated, is to do violence again, this time to the lived experience of your brothers and sisters. . . . I look forward to more conversation in Stillpoint on this issue. I hope next time everyone at the table will have a chance to speak.
Jean Parker ’80
Ann Marie Clarkson ’73B
recently visited Gordon for my 20th reunion. . . . Gordon’s campus is absolutely beautiful, and though I thought the absence of Prince Chapel would be a little sad, it was hardly missed in the beauty and high quality of the new Phillips Music Center. . . . I really hope one or both of my children will want to attend Gordon. I have a unique attachment to Barrington also. I took piano lessons . . . in the ’70s in the Music Barn! . . . The [Barrington] Center for the Arts does a nice job of bringing the history of Barrington to the new united campus. It was a wonderful visit, and the changes . . . have done nothing other than to improve an already great place. Lynn (Paulsen) Fish ’80 a quick note to let you know the . . . website is fantastic! If J ust I were only attending school now—e-mail, voice mail, campus dance. Oh my! Just a note to freshmen: [The people] you [will] spend the next four years . . . with [will be] a great influence on the way you will live your future. I thank God for the opportunity my parents gave me to attend Gordon and become a true servant leader. . . . I still keep in contact with my roommate, and I still consider her my best friend. . . . Soak up all you can from the faculty and staff—they are a great chosen people. Lana Kay (Hekking) Myers ’82 From a note sent to faculty and staff:
ust . . . to let you know you are being lifted before the Father’s throne today. . . . Education of our leaders is true pioneering work. . . . Thank you for your faithfulness, especially on the days you feel least like keeping on keeping on. Ruth Moore
May the glow
of Christâ€™s love light your holidays with joy, brighten your new year with blessings
and warm you with everlasting hope in the new millennium PHOTO BY KINDRA CLINEFF
PAT MCKAY ’65
For info, updates and tickets, call ext. 4364 for music events and ext. 3200 for theatre productions. Phillips Recital Hall is located in Phillips Music Center. Art exhibits and theatre productions are in the Barrington Center for the Arts (BCA).
At Homecoming & Family Weekend, the Jazz Ensemble, conducted by Dr. David Rox, delighted the crowd with a concert on the patio in front of Phillips Music Center.
Art Exhibit—January 20–February 28 Twenty-Five Living Asian-American Artists Nationally important exhibition, designed by San Francisco area curator So Kam Ng Lee
24 Gordon College Gospel Choir Gospel Fest; 8 p.m., Gordon Chapel 31 Music Mania Weekend, Part 2; see Part 1 for details
ebruary 2 Faculty Recital Concert; 7:30 p.m., Phillips Recital Hall
6–10 Winter Theatre Production, TBA; 8 p.m., BCA Theatre 19 Jazz Ensemble Winter Concert; 8 p.m., Lane Student Center 24 Gordon Symphony Orchestra (GSO) Winter Concert; 7:30 p.m., A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel
arch Art Exhibit—March 1–30 Makoto Fujimura: The Art of Nihonga Ancient Japanese technique in a delicate expressionistic style
24 Music Mania Weekend, Part 1; innovative music education for children ages 4–11; 9 a.m. to noon, Jenks Learning Center; call 978.927.2300, ext. 4818
31 GSO Spring Concert; 7:30 p.m., Gordon Chapel
7 Annual Pops Concert; 7 p.m., Gordon Chapel 24–28 Spring Theatre Production, Rumors, a comedy by Neil Simon; 8 p.m., BCA Theatre 20–21 The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, a comic opera by Jaques Offenbach; 7 p.m., Gordon Chapel
ay 4 Choirs, Choirs, Choirs!; 8 p.m., Gordon Chapel 5 “And God”; a concert featuring gospel styles; 8 p.m., Gordon Chapel 6 Thompson Chamber Music Series featuring Mia Chung, Carol Ou and Jamie Buswell; 4 p.m., Phillips Recital Hall 7 Jazz Ensemble Spring Concert; 8 p.m., Lane Student Center Nonprofit Org. U.S. POSTAGE PAID Gordon College
255 Grapevine Road Wenham, Massachusetts 01984 (978) 927-2300 www.gordon.edu CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED
Published on Jan 22, 2010