Luther College IN Conversation
Fall 2013 Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes... John 3:8 Kirsten Malcolm Berry 2013
LUTHER COLLEGE IN CONVERSATION
Peter A. Scholl, editor
FALL 2013 VOLUME 26 NUMBER 1
Judy K. Boese, production editor
Agora, an interdisciplinary journal grounded in the humanities, is a project of the Luther College Paideia Program. Paideia consists of many other activities and opportunities, including a three-course interdisciplinary core curriculum; performances and events, including an annual lecture series; library acquisitions; student writing services; networked computer classrooms; and a faculty development program that includes sabbatical grants and summer workshops. All these activities receive final support from the Paideia Endowment, originally established through National Endowment for the Humanities grants matched by friends of Luther College. To see the current issue and archival issues on-line, go to <http://www.luther.edu/paideia/agora>. The primary Agora contributors are Luther College faculty; writing is also solicited from other college community members and, occasionally, from outside writers. The journal was established in 1988 by then Paideia Director Wilfred F. Bunge, Professor of Religion and Classics. Mark Z. Muggli, Professor of English, was the editor from 1998-2004. Agora is distributed to five hundred on-campus faculty and administrators and to another five hundred off-campus friends of the college. Anyone wishing to be included on the mailing list should contact the editor. phone: (563) 387-1599 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contents Cover: The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. John 3:8. Watercolor, 2013, by Kirsten Malcolm Berry, <www.KirstenMalcolmBerry.com>.
Reciprocity in Study Abroad Lori A. Stanley.....................................................................36
Essays and Occasions
The Humility Wheel: Acceptance and Art Amy Weldon..........................................................................45
Truth, Metaphor, and War Stories: Valuing the Liberal Arts and Sciences Randa J. Duvick.....................................................................4 Strengths in Change David L. Tiede.......................................................................9
2012-13 Paideia Texts and Issues Lecture Series: Can We Talk? Beauty is in the Ear of the Listener Laurie Zaring......................................................................12
2013-14 Paideia Texts and Issues Lecture Series: Studying the “Other” The “Other” Is Us: The Stigmatization of Mental Illness Joseph L. Breitenstein............................................................18
The Text and Its Time: Cosas añejas (Old Things) Rita Tejada..........................................................................41
Chapel Moving Beyond Zealots: Forging Sustainable Community (September 20, 2013) Karla R. Suomala.................................................................47 Come and See (September 30, 2013) Brad Chamberlain................................................................49 God’s Vision for Life in Community: A Template or a Dream? (October 11, 2013) Stacey Nalean-Carlson..........................................................51 Founders’ Day and the Armor of God (October 14, 2013) Mark D. Johns......................................................................53 Breaking Up With the Bible (October 25, 2013) Hans Becklin........................................................................55
The Invisible Animal and the Visible Institution: The Government Cattle Farm, Hissar, 1800-1845 Brian P. Caton......................................................................21 A War Waged in Daily Choices David Faldet........................................................................25 Talking Trees Brooke Joyce..........................................................................28 Knowing This Place and This Life for the First Time Todd K. Pedlar......................................................................31 Improvisation, Time, and Vocation Gregory Peterson...................................................................34
Medallion created by Harley Refsal for the inauguration of Jeff Baker, eighth president of Luther College. 1996.
n the shutdown of the federal government this October we witnessed another disturbing episode in the ongoing crisis of factionalism afflicting this nation. “Why can’t we all just get along?” Rodney King asked back in 1992, addressing especially our racially inflected divisions. One old-fashioned answer to King’s question is simply that people are especially tribal, territorial, and vicious when they feel threatened. One of my favorite authors in our Paideia I course was the Greek general-turned-historian Thucydides, who took this approach when he located the underlying cause of the ruinous Peloponnesian War in human nature (physis) rather than in differences of political opinion, religion, or social and economic circumstances. About the fighting between factions in the city of Corcyra—the spark that blew up into the great war—he said: Many harsh events befell the various cities due to the ensuing factional strife—things which always occur in such times and always will occur, so long as human nature (physis) remains the same.… [However] in peacetime, and amid prosperous circumstances, both cities and individuals possess more noble dispositions, because they have not fallen into the overpowering constraints imposed by harsher times. In America we are not currently engaged in civil warfare, but Thucydides’ description of the behavior of the Corcyrans evokes in my mind comparisons to the kind of discord that has taken over what might in better times be “nobler” exchanges between our factions—in Congress, on talk radio, on so-called TV “news” programs, and in venues much closer to our homes. Of the Corcyrans in their time of stasis, he wrote, [P]eople altered, at their pleasure, the customary significance of words to suit their deeds: irrational daring came to be considered the “manly courage of one loyal to his party”; prudent delay was thought a fairseeming cowardice; a moderate attitude was deemed a mere shield for lack of virility, and a reasoned understanding with regard to all sides of an issue meant that one was indolent and of no use for anything. (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War. 3.82, trans. John Porter) This fall at Luther our community stands at a crossroads, though not, thank goodness, one that threatens to lead us into factionalism. Still, the search for a new president of the college did not succeed last spring and a reconstituted search committee is still engaged in that process. And the first fall faculty meeting began a series of discussions about “disruptors” that challenge this college and higher education in general: the student cost and debt spiral; the digitization of learning; the regrouping of American communities, including faith communities; the changing profile of prospective Luther College students; the measurement of educational excellence by learning results. We didn’t find a president and we are dealing not only with the discord in the body politic and public at large, but with the particular challenges new and old facing liberal arts colleges. As Randa Duvick (LC ’78) in her address to Phi Beta Kappa initiates (in this issue) points out, “within American society today, the liberal arts and sciences are coming in for quite a bit of criticism. The governor of North Carolina, for example, recently spoke critically of liberal arts programs, opining
that such studies do not help graduates to get jobs … And in Florida, Governor Rick Scott has proposed that … students majoring in liberal arts disciplines such as history or anthropology should pay higher tuition than those in disciplines that seem to lead more directly to jobs.” Nevertheless, compared to an institution such as the US Congress, Luther College is sailing along in remarkable trim, although the waters are troubled and the barometer may be falling. What keeps us buoyant and running smoothly, despite adverse winds and weathers? Well, we have a steady hand on the quarterdeck in interim president David Tiede. Though a newcomer, he is a keen observer, and he reports that despite the threats and challenges, the state of the college is good (see his address below), and Luther is organized around significant strengths that he itemizes and describes. Communications professor Mark Johns in his Founders Day Chapel also reminds us that “Almost every chapter of Luther’s past is focused on some crisis or other that threatened to close the place down.” And he observes that “the question should not be, ‘Will Luther College survive?’ Rather, the question for a college … should be, “What will our mission be, and how can we be faithful in carrying it out?” We surely do have a mission. A fascinating proof that we do and are carrying it out is made clear in Lori Stanley’s essay about her decades of study abroad experience. After some successful years leading classes to Nepal, Lori began to “feel uneasy about how much my students and I had gained from those programs in comparison to the residents of the two remote Himalayan villages that hosted our groups.” This desire to make the rewards of study abroad experiences reciprocal, so they benefit not only the students but the people students observe and encounter—has developed into a rich and many-sided endeavor in Tanzania that involves not only students and other Luther faculty, but Masaai leaders and villages. Together they plan and execute projects that go way beyond anything that I could imagine as the benefits of experiential and service learning. Together, they have built a church; they investigated the production and sale of products; and after a Masaai leader expressed concern that his people were losing the ability to transmit their knowledge of medicinal plants and remedies, Luther students (including Rhodes Scholarship recipient Georgianna Whiteley), faculty (including chemistry professor Brad Chamberlain) collaborated with Masaai people to research, write, and distribute a book to preserve and transmit such traditional knowledge. Read her essay as there is more to say and it all demonstrates the kind of spirit and initiative that makes Luther special. For our cover, I thought for a while about using a different watercolor by Twin Cities artist Kirsten Malcolm Berry—one representing a wall that divided people, alluding to Ephesians 2:14. This image resonated with my remarks about our polarized nation. But instead I chose Berry’s beautiful interpretation of John 3:8: “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” In context this wind is not random or bleak, but is associated with spirit and being “born from above”—much more in keeping with my nautical metaphors about the college. Keeping with that theme, for the contents page I chose a medallion Harley Refsal created for the inauguration of Luther’s eighth president, Jeff Baker. It is based on the Norwegian primstav—a wooden calendar stick—and it carries an incised outline of a boat under sail and making good headway. This image, as I have echoed President Tiede in saying, still describes the state of the college.
Peter A. Scholl Editor Fall 2013/Agora
Essays and Occasions
Truth, Metaphor, and War Stories: Valuing the Liberal Arts and Sciences The Ruth A. Davis Memorial Lecture at the Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony, April 28, 2013
In recognition of her achievements as a student in addition to her many accomplishments since graduation, Randa Duvick was inducted as an Alumni Member into Luther’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, 28 April 2013. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1978, with majors in French and linguistics. She studied linguistics on a Fulbright in Switzerland and earned her PhD at the University of Chicago. Since 1986, she has been a faculty member at Valparaiso University, where she has recently completed twelve years as chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. In 2003, Professor Duvick was named Indiana State French Teacher of the Year, Post-Secondary Level, and in 2008, she was decorated as a Chevalier de l’Ordre by des Palmes Académiques (a Knight in the RANDA J. Order of Academic Palms) for contributions DUVICK to French education and culture. 4
AARON ZAUNER, LUTHER COLLEGE PHOTO BUREAU
his occasion—a talk given in conjunction with a Phi Beta Kappa induction—invites reflection on the liberal arts, since Phi Beta Kappa calls itself a “leading advocate for excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.” Certainly that is a subject dear to my heart, as I studied French and linguistics here at Luther, pursued graduate work in French literature, and have been teaching French language, literature and culture at Valparaiso University for over twenty-five years. I am convinced of the value of what we like to call a “liberal arts education”—one that insists on breadth of knowledge in addition to depth and specialization, one that aims to prepare people with skills of reflection, analysis, flexibility, and curiosity. Unfortunately, within American society today, the liberal arts and sciences are coming in for quite a bit of criticism. The governor of North Carolina, for example, recently spoke critically of liberal arts programs, opining that such studies do not help graduates to get jobs (Kiley). And in Florida, Governor Rick Scott has proposed that— at state universities in the Sunshine State—students majoring in liberal arts disciplines such as history or anthropology should pay higher tuition than those in disciplines that seem to lead more directly to jobs. One reporter wrote: “The message from Tallahassee could not be blunter: Give us engineers, scientists, health care specialists and technology experts. Do not worry so much about historians, philosophers, anthropologists
Randa J. Duvick delivers the Ruth A. Davis Memorial Lecture, 28 April 2013. and English majors” (Alvarez). Though Scott was at least in part getting at the issue of public subsidy of education, people for whom the liberal arts are important understood that the value of these programs was being attacked. Since there may well be, in this class of Phi Beta Kappa inductees, future scientists, health care specialists, and technology experts, let me be clear about my working definition of “liberal arts and sciences”: understand that, as Luther grads, you are part of it. Disciplines in the arts, letters, social sciences, and natural sciences—all can be included under the umbrella of liberal arts and sciences. All of these disciplines can be studied in depth within a liberal arts framework—a framework that intentionally leads students to meaningful encounters with other disciplines that are not pre-professional in nature. At an institution like Luther—a liberal arts college that, in its mission statement, professes to be “committed to a way of learning that moves us beyond immediate interests and present knowledge into a larger world”—the issue of the value of the liberal arts and sciences takes on particular meaning. You chose to come here for your education, presumably because there was
something about this ethos that you valued. And clearly you have thrived here. But given the conversations taking place on the national, state, and even local levels about the value of post-secondary education itself and about the value of liberal arts education in particular, I think it is worthwhile taking a little time to reflect on what it is that you and I take with us from our education in the liberal arts and sciences. Let me tell you a couple of stories. Story one: A few years back, I was teaching in Valparaiso University’s interdisciplinary first-year course, similar to Luther’s Paideia program, which we call the Valpo CORE. It’s a seminar-sized class that focuses on reading texts of various kinds—philosophy, literature, politics, sociology—discussing these texts, and doing significant amounts of writing. I had spent the semester with a delightful group of seventeen students. Among them I remember a nursing major, two business majors, a music major, an engineering major, several English majors. You get the picture—a very mixed bunch. This group gelled wonderfully, with a couple of students who had a gift for putting their ideas out there in ways that invited discussion from even the quietest of the other students. One of the more intense students, a careful reader who generally had interesting and thought provoking comments, was a business major named Paul. Among our texts that semester, we struggled with the Bhagavad Gita, we didn’t much care for Dickens’s Hard Times (apologies to Dickens fans in the crowd), we tried to figure out how the magical realism of Like Water For Chocolate related to our lives, and we were moved by Shusako Endo’s novel Silence. But the discussion I remember the best was of Tim O’Brien’s book about soldiers during the Vietnam War, The Things They Carried. You may be familiar with this novel by a Vietnam veteran, in which the narrator tells the story of his Vietnam experience from the point of view of the ordinary soldier struggling with the psychic and physical violence of war. Each chapter is a set piece, a mise en scène of some episode told by the first-person narrator about his own experience and that of his fellow soldiers, Dave Jensen, Kurt Lemon, Rat Kiley. It is beautifully written, although difficult to read at times because of the raw depiction of these soldiers’ experience. The title itself—The Things They Carried—is deeply meaningful: in the book, we are told quite literally about the things—the physical things—that the soldiers carried with them in the jungles of Vietnam. And of course we become more and more aware of the emotional and mental things that these men carry, and that they will continue to carry long after their return to the United States. They are marked in ways that are profoundly troubling, that shape their lives and their very souls. Because the author, Tim O’Brien, is himself a Vietnam veteran, because the stories are told in the first person by a narrator who calls himself Tim O’Brien, and because the experiences depicted are so real in all senses, it is easy to believe that this is a work of non-fiction. But in fact it is a work of fiction. This does not become apparent to the reader, however, until some way into the book—perhaps one half or two thirds of the way through.
Well, we were on day two or three of discussion of the book, and the assignment for that day was to read the section of the book where it became clear that this is a work of fiction. This was toward the end of the semester and everyone was getting busy; papers were due, presentations were scheduled. Sometimes, at that time of semester, we get behind on our reading homework. It happens. Well, this day it had happened to Paul. He didn’t get the reading done.
What things will you carry with you? In what ways will this liberal arts education mark you, beyond the strict confines of disciplinary skills and knowledge? In what ways have you encountered ideas, ways of learning, ways of being that stretched you beyond what was familiar and comfortable? So, it’s just before the beginning of class, almost time to start, the students have put the chairs in a circle, pulling the book out of their backpacks. Many of them are talking about the book because it’s such a compelling read. And our attention is drawn to the conversation between Paul and the two students sitting on either side of him, a conversation that is becoming louder and more animated. Suddenly Paul explodes. “What do you mean it’s not true?” he asks. “Yeah, it’s fiction, it’s made up, look on page 179. See, he says it’s invented,” say his classmates. We are all listening now, the other students nodding their heads, fingering their books, finding the passage where they too first learned that the episodes depicted in this book may in fact have their origin in the mind of the author Tim O’Brien and may not have happened in reality in exactly the way they are depicted—or may not have happened at all. “You mean he made it up? You mean it’s not true?” says Paul, genuinely angry. He looks at the rest of the class, he looks at me for confirmation that he has been fooled into thinking that this book is true. “I don’t believe it. Crap.” He stands up, throws his book to the ground, and stomps angrily out of the room. He may have slammed the door; I don’t remember for sure. Here is a student who feels betrayed by a work of literature. He feels like a sucker, a mark. He has allowed himself to be drawn in by the power of the images, the emotions. He is feeling such sympathy for the narrator—Tim and his buddies—putting himself in their place, wanting them not to suffer—and now it’s not true? It didn’t happen that way? As you can imagine, this is the beginning of our class discussion that day. Turns out many of the students feel that same sense of betrayal, though a little less dramatically than Paul. We talked for a long time, that day and afterward, about truth. What is truth, in literature, in life? Does it matter if a given event actually happened or not, for it to speak powerfully to us? Is it fair for an author to draw in the reader so completely that we think we are reading autobiography, only to have the figurative rug pulled out from under us? Would we react Fall 2013/Agora
differently to the story told, to the messages communicated, Things They Carried. Yet we talked about important issues: if from the beginning we knew that this was a work of ficwhether our two main characters—the two friends—are more tion? Does it matter, for our discussion about truth, that this courageous or stupid and thus whether we should be more is a book about war? And on and on. It was one of the most sympathetic toward or more critical of them. Who “wins” in genuine, deep, discussions that I have ever had the privilege the end—the friends or the Prussian commander? And if it’s of witnessing in a class. These students cared about what this the friends, is this “moral victory” worthwhile? What happens book was doing; they felt it personally. And they cared about to civilians who are caught up in war? All of this was made Paul and his reaction, and they wanted to help him come to more poignant for me knowing that one of the students, Rob, terms with this experience. We were a community. And I is in Army ROTC. Discussions about war and friendship and should tell you that Paul did come back, still upset, but able courage hit close to home for him. And perhaps these ideas are to participate in the discussion. also relevant for Aema, who is majoring in political science, I cannot say with certainty that any of the students in and for the others as well. This kind of discussion, not unusual that class remembers that discussion, but I sure do. I might in a liberal arts institution, makes us confront important and even say that it is one of the “things I carry” from my teaching complex issues. career. For me, this is an example of what an education in the I want to argue that there is a second reason why an liberal arts—for students majoring in education in the liberal arts and scidisciplines all over the map—can do: ences is of value: Because it takes us It can facilitate deeper thinking and as students into disciplines that we discussion about issues like truth and might not otherwise encounter and fiction, like what war does to human helps us find meaning and importance beings, and how that discussion can in those disciplines as well. It opens us come from the deepest part of our beup to listening to other points of view, ing. Perhaps this is one of the “things” to imagining ways of thinking that are that those students carry, as well. different from our usual comfortable Another story: Last semester, in habits. French 203 (Intermediate French), It is that openness to see both we read and discussed a short story differences and connections, and to apby Guy de Maupassant called “Deux preciate them both, that was expressed Amis” (“Two Friends”). Maupassant is by Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple a French author who lived from 1850 Computer, who said, of the intersection to 1893, perhaps best known for his between the sciences and the humanishort stories, many of them set during ties, “There’s something magical about the time of the Franco-Prussian War, that place” (Isaacson 567). “That place” 1870-71. That is precisely the setting was what stimulated the development of “Deux Amis”—Paris during its 1871 of creative ideas that have profoundly siege by the Prussian army. It tells of transformed human beings’ interactwo ordinary men—one a clockmaker, tions with technology. the other the proprietor of a thread The physicist and essayist Alan and notions shop—whose friendship Cover art from Deux amis et autres contes Lightman writes of this intersection, is based on their mutual love of fishing. by Guy de Maupassant. this fruitful interplay between humaniDuring a lull in the shelling of Paris from the west—from ties and science, in a section in his essay called “On Metaphor.” just the other side of the Seine River, outside Paris—the two I want to quote him at some length. “I remember the day,” he friends meet by chance and, hungry in this Paris under siege, says, “during my first course in cosmology, when the professor decide to sneak across the lines and fish in their accustomed was trying to explain how the universe could be expanding spot on the Seine, even though it is in enemy territory. outward in all directions, but without any center of the expanIf you are familiar with Maupassant, you can guess that sion. To his credit, the teacher had covered the blackboard with this story of two innocent friends crossing enemy lines does equations, but we students still couldn’t picture the situation. not have a happy ending. The two simple men are discovered, How could something explode uniformly in all directions their creels full of fish, by the Prussian troops. Accusing them without a middle of the explosion? Then, the professor said to of spying, the Prussian commander orders them to give up pretend that space is two-dimensional and that the stars and the password that will allow them to return through the galaxies are dots on the surface of an expanding balloon. From French lines back to Paris. Faced with their refusal to give the point of view of any one dot, the other dots are moving the password, in fact their complete silence, he orders them away from it in all directions, yet no dot is the center. This to be shot and their bodies dumped in the Seine. And then powerful metaphor, first introduced by Arthur Eddington in orders his men to fry up the fish that the friends had caught 1931, has helped students of cosmology ever since.” so he can have a nice dinner. “Metaphor,” Lightman continues, “is critical to science. The classroom discussion of Maupassant’s “Two Friends,” Metaphor in science serves not just as a pedagogical device, I must report, was not as dramatic as was the one for The like the cosmic balloon, but also as an aid to scientific discovery. 6
AARON ZAUNER, LC PHOTO BUREAU
In doing science, even though words and equations are used broidery floss—apart from the neighboring structures, the with the intention of having precise meanings … it is almost trachea and the carotid arteries. impossible not to reason by physical analogy, not to form We were able to successfully carry out the experiment, test mental pictures, not to imagine balls bouncing and pendulums the functions that we were asked to test, and better understand swinging. Metaphor is part of the the interactions of the various parts of process of science” (Lightman 49-50). this animal’s respiratory system. But When my husband, himself an mostly I remember the responsibility experimental physicist, tells about the of being the one with the scissors and work he and his colleagues do in the the scalpel, needing to be precise and giant colliders that smash the tiniunhesitating, delicate in touch yet firm est of subatomic particles into each enough to carry out what needed to be other, or against fixed targets, he uses done. I remember the beautiful glistena metaphor. He says, “What we do is ing, living surfaces that we observed like this: There has been a vehicle acbeneath the rat’s skin, and our sense cident inside a tunnel. We are outside of awe at the complexity of this living the tunnel, trying to figure out what A Luther student signs the Phi Beta Kappa system. And I remember the tension of the vehicles were and how they were membership book at the induction ceremony, my lab team, our understanding of the put together by studying the parts 28 April 2013. seriousness of the venture and of the that fly out of the ends of the tunnel.” power that we wielded—and a sense of So, science and metaphor are inseparable partners. This respect, shared by my lab partners, for the living being whose marriage of disparate disciplines is central to an education in sacrifice allowed us to have a rich learning experience. the liberal arts and sciences. Students at a place like Luther I also know that I was completely sure that I had made are led to encounter points of view and ways of thinking that the right decision not to try to become a doctor. Kudos to do not necessarily grow from our strengths and that take us those of you who will be doing that. outside of our own narrow experience. In that way we are not Another example of how a liberal arts education brings just preparing for a job or a career—we are preparing for a life. us into contact with ways of thinking we might find strange Here is a story about one thing that I carry with me from comes from a different second-year French class that I taught my time at Luther. some years back. Beyond the work consolidating the students’ When I was a senior, not majoring in science but rather ability to use the subjunctive and to speak and write French in French, I took the freshman biology class, then numbered with some accuracy, we read some short literary texts. One was Biology 21. I had planned to take it in my first semester at a relatively short poem—I have now forgotten what—which Luther, but, heading into that freshman year, my astute adviwe worked our way through fairly painfully, both because sor, Professor John Bale of the English Department, sensed the language was challenging for these intermediate stuthat my real enthusiasm lay with languages, and pointed out dents, and because it was at least in some ways metaphorical that Latin 11 met at the same time of day as Biology 21. Nine language. After our discussion, after the students had been o’clock a.m., as I remember it. I chose the Latin, and that able to unpack some of the ideas contained in the poem, one led to two years of Latin courses and a delay of the biology student—an engineering student, in fact, asked, “Well, if that’s course until I was a senior. I am grateful for that, because I what the author meant, why didn’t he just say it?” approached that biology course with a completely different This engineering student’s way of thinking worked best viewpoint from that of a freshman. with direct, clear, concrete statements. The allusions, metaI will not pretend that I have retained a lot of the detailed phors, uncertainties, and abstractions of poetic expression were knowledge that I gained in Biology 21, but I do remember difficult for him to deal with. I’m pleased that he hung with some of the topics covered, and I specifically remember the the experience in French as long as he did, and hope that his labs. In particular, I remember a lab in which we were to learn exposure to this otherness of thinking was a growing experiabout what happened when we electrically stimulated the ence for him, just as I grew from my one-time experience as a vagus nerve of an anesthetized rat. The lab handbook, which surgeon. These days, we have a program called the “Valparaiso I still have, tells me that this was part of an experiment to International Engineering Program” that brings engineering observe factors that were important in regulating the rat’s students into prolonged study of a foreign language with its respiratory system. literatures and cultures, and sends the students abroad—in the I have vivid memories of the surgery itself. As roles of case of French, to France—for a year of study and internship. the lab team were chosen, I found myself volunteered by the I am convinced that the students with the ability to navigate other team members to be the surgeon, since the rest of my both this varied coursework and the time abroad—experiences team members were first-year students and I was a senior. that force them to confront different kinds of “otherness” in The precise points we observed, the things we learned about important ways—are better prepared for full and creative the respiratory system of the rat, are mostly lost in the mists careers and rich, productive lives. of time. But I do remember the experience of being surgeon, From my Luther days, I also carry with me a memory of being the one to make the incision and gently, gently tease from a French class. (Professor Ruth Caldwell will be glad to the tiny vagus nerves—about the thickness of a piece of emknow this. Actually there are many memories from French Fall 2013/Agora
classes, but I’ll mention this one in particular.) It was a course on non-fiction writing and we were discussing Pascal, the seventeenth-century mathematician and essayist. His essays were challenging—deep, serious pieces of philosophic reasoning and expressions of his own religious belief. One day in particular at the end of class, after we finished discussion of Pascal’s essay “Du divertissement” (“On Diversion”), Professor Caldwell crossed paths with Professor Harris Kaasa of the Religion department, as our class finished and his was about to begin in the same room. They had a brief conversation about our class’s topic of discussion—Pascal, whose Jansenist religious identity was at the heart of his philosophical and religious writing. Their short exchange, expressing shared knowledge between a scholar of literature and a scholar of religion, highlighted for me the fact that what we were learning in our French literature class had connections far beyond our discipline. One final point. One reason why I believe so strongly in this encounter of disciplines that I’ve talked about is that it stimulates our imagination and our creativity. As we read Tim O’Brien’s book, as we study a creature’s respiratory system, as we think about Pascal and the Jansenists, we are drawn outside our experience, imagining how others live, what their lives might mean, and how things might change. The early twentieth-century French poet Guillaume Apollinaire speaks of change, expresses the struggle between tradition and invention, in his poem “La jolie Rousse” (“The Pretty Redhead”). Apollinaire’s poetry is on the cusp of the world of modern art, literature, and music. He championed the work of the cubists and collaborated on works of music, theater, and dance that were radically new at the time. In this poem, the narrator presents himself first as a sensible man—“un homme plein de sens”—and someone who has experienced all the horror of World War I (Apollinaire was in fact injured during his time in the artillery), and then as someone who is, at the same time, working on the edge of artistic invention, striving toward a completely new interpretation and presentation of reality. He says that he is the mediator between “la tradition et l’invention, l’ordre et l’aventure” (“tradition and invention, order and adventure”). He explains what the exploration of invention and adventure yields for those who undertake it: “Nous voulons vous donner des vastes et d’étranges domaines où le mystère en fleurs s’offre à qui veut le cueillir” (“We want to give you vast and strange domains where mystery in flower offers itself to whoever will gather it”) (Apollinaire 183-184).
In the poem, Apollinaire makes the case for adventure, for curiosity, for exploration. These things draw us both inward and outward: out toward a remaking of the world by use of what is within—our imagination, our creativity, our invention. I would argue that the liberal arts provide us with the material for creativity and invention, through our encounter with significant ideas, and through our encounter with ways of thinking that are unfamiliar to us. What things will you carry with you? In what ways will this liberal arts education mark you, beyond the strict confines of disciplinary skills and knowledge? In what ways have you encountered ideas, ways of learning, ways of being that stretched you beyond what was familiar and comfortable? How will you make use of the creative thinking that this education has asked you to do? Certainly, the education that you have received at Luther College has not just prepared you for a job, no matter how important that job might be. What you have learned here has prepared you as a human being. The things that we carry with us from our education in the liberal arts and sciences enrich us as people and prepare us for creative lives in community, as creatures in God’s world. Works Cited Alvarez, Lizette. “Florida May Reduce Tuition for Select Majors.” New York Times 9 Dec. 2012. Web. 11 April 2013. Apollinaire, Guillaume. Calligrammes. Paris: Gallimard, 1966. Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012. p. 567. Kiley, Kevin. “Another Liberal Arts Critic.” Inside Higher Education, 30 January 2013. Web. 11 April 2013. Luther College Mission Statement. <http://www.luther.edu/about/ mission> Web. 14 April 2013. Lightman, Alan. “Metaphor in Science.” A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit. New York: Vintage, 2005. Maupassant, Guy de. “Deux Amis.” “Boule de Suif ” et autres récits de guerre. Paris: Presses Pocket, 1991. O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Phi Beta Kappa. <http://www.pbk.org> Web. 11 April 2013.
Strengths in Change
The State of the College Address, August 29, 2013. David L. Tiede, President for the Interim
Introduction hank you, [Board of Regents] Chair Paul Torgerson, and thank you Sandy Lee, and Marilyn Roverud for representing the Regents in this opening gathering. My wife Muffy and I also thank Luther College and the city of Decorah for your hospitality. May all who are new to the student body, faculty, or staff experience the same warm welcome. Luther College is a better community because you came! You belong! After fourteen years of President Torgerson’s excellent leadership, I have had two months to learn what is happening at Luther. These weeks have been a “focused visit,” and I have been listening for stories, reading files, visiting as many offices as possible, and hanging out at coffee. And our 2500plus students are now arriving! The best part of what we do is about to begin. I am still finding the buildings and struggling to learn all of your names. How dare I give this address? But the “State of the College” address is an annual event on Luther’s stage, and I am cast in the role of President. So, I wrote this speech. That thought is both terrifying and exhilarating! My stage directions were articulated by our Chair Paul Torgerson in the first five minutes of my six interviews last spring. He got my attention when he said, “We can’t afford to waste this year!” Oh really? And Regent Peggy Ettestad said, “This interim can be our ‘inflection point.’” That means marking and pointing Luther’s trend line toward our tenth presidency! In my first public communication, I quoted a campus leader who told me, “The trains run on time at Luther!” I sincerely meant to commend Luther’s administrative discipline, especially in finance, enrollment, and services. But one of our historians observed that the same was said about Mussolini! Sorry!
DAVID AND MUFFY TIEDE
David L. Tiede became Luther College’s Interim President on July 1, 2013. He was President of Luther Seminary for eighteen years, occupied the distinguished Bernhard M. Christensen Chair in Religion and Vocation at Augsburg College for five years, and served briefly as the interim president of Wartburg Seminary. A 1962 graduate of St. Olaf College, Tiede earned a theological degree from Luther Seminary and a PhD in 1971 from Harvard University. He is married to Martha (Muffy), and they are the parents of two grown children, Peter and Kathryn.
The train metaphor may also imply that the tracks ahead are already laid, while inflection points mark changes in dynamic contexts, more like calculus than arithmetic. Play with the words with me for a bit. Let’s try a nautical metaphor: “Luther runs a tight ship!” Trust me! Schools can’t move confidently into the winds of change without reliable counts of the dollars and the scholars, and once again our fall enrollment has outperformed our budget model. Fabulous! We have had only nine presidencies in 150 years, and as we anticipate our tenth president, the State of the College is good! Soli Deo Gloria! But strong winds are now blowing in the seas into which Luther is sailing. The interpreters of the future of higher education propose that schools need to look out to the year 2020 and envision how they will be playing at strength. So this interim, this inflection point, is an exercise of strengths in change. Strategic prioritizations and actions lie ahead in the tenth presidency. But, to sustain the nautical metaphor, even in this interim we will steer into the winds, seeking our course and empowering the search for the leadership we need. Our questions are • •
What are the turbulent winds ahead?
How will Luther’s strengths carry us?
• Where and how will we need Luther’s tenth presidency to lead us?
These, of course, are not new questions. An emeritus professor recalled decades ago when President H. George Anderson warned our business model was not sustainable. And President Torgerson repeatedly alerted Luther College to the impending “sticker shock” in tuition pricing. So let’s not get rattled. It’s not all new. But let’s not be in denial either! And we are not! Faculty, staff, Regents, parents, grads, and students keep sending me articles about change in higher education that they found in the newspapers, airline magazines, and on the web. Last week, President Obama weighed in on the affordability of higher education. Game on! This discussion is not confined to us or our industry. It has gone viral. President Torgerson commended a 2013 book by [ Jeffrey J. Selingo] the Editor at Large of the Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled College (Un)bound. This volume could help us at Luther because the author does not pretend to have the answer. Instead he surveys the innovations that are being developed in dozens of institutions, some very unlike Luther, others comparable to us. His subtitle points to what matters to us: “The future of higher education and what it means for students.” Fall 2013/Agora
Associate Dean Jeffrey Wilkerson and Dean Kevin Kraus have gathered faculty teams to scope out five disrupters of our status quo. At tomorrow’s faculty meeting, they will lay out a consultative schedule with faculty, staff, and students pointing toward a workshop with Regents on October 26. Regent Peggy Ettestad is working with them. The five disrupters higher education are identified as: 2. The digitization of learning.
3. The regrouping of American communities, including faith communities. 4. The changing profile of prospective Luther College students.
5. The measurement of educational excellence by learning results.
How real, how significant are any of these for us at Luther College? What information do we already have in our administrative intelligence? And where are educational innovations underway? Without doubt, listening to faculty, staff, and students will help us recognize remarkable steps Luther College is already taking. The promise lies in exercising Luther’s strengths to carry us into the future! In his May commencement address, Regent Arne Sorenson challenged us to be bold. Right on! Luther’s interim is not about holding on until heroic help arrives. The state of Luther College means we expect our tenth presidency to lead us into the turbulent future of higher education, boldly adapting in renewed excellence. In 2020 Luther College needs to be playing its game as the premier institution in Lutheran higher education. Let me push the point. I am not a modest Norwegian. For the sake of our souls and our business plans too, we cannot accommodate to generic academic standards. In 2020, the world needs Luther College to be setting the twenty-first century standards for excellence in Lutheran higher education. Now it gets more risky, even brash. As a rank amateur I need to tell you what I have heard about Luther’s proven strengths. Many of you could articulate these better than I. I hope you will do so. But I have discerned three enduring strengths.
Strength #1: Luther College is a lovely place centered in care for our students. This is a pervasive strength, and profound. Many schools have loyal grads, but people love Luther College. Ah, “the heart has reasons reason knows not of ”! In part, it is this beautiful place. In July, the Carlson family of Decorah graciously hosted a gathering of Luther loyalists. In my remarks (presidents always make remarks) I noted that Decorah was formed by a meteor and by-passed by the glacier. Someone piped up, “And blessed by God!” Nestled in northeast Iowa, Luther cares for the earth, nurturing the future. Faculty, students, and staff come here and fall in love with the land and Decorah. A local resident looked me in the eye and said, “God loves Luther College!” Wow! 10
LUTHER COLLEGE PHOTO BUREAU
1. The student cost and debt spiral.
David Tiede delivers the State of the College Address, 29 August 2013.
The love is deep, centered in caring for students, taking pride in them. “It’s face to face education,” said one professor; “I once taught in a research university, but now I am personally connected with my students for a lifetime!” Classics professor Dan Davis recently sent an e-mail report on his fabulous underwater archeological work on shipwrecks in the Aegean. He invested half of the account gloating about the contributions of Luther student, Daniel Faas. I quote: “He is now adept at processing geophysical data, such as sidescan sonar, phase differential signals, bathymetry, and current/depth/salinity.” You gave us great information, Professor Davis, and an even better glimpse of your regard for your student. And Daniel is one of fifty students working with faculty in summer research projects. It’s summer. Most of the student stories I have heard have been from grads. The Weston Noble alumni choir was a love fest. And the coaches enact the script. Rene Hartl calls her softball players, “My daughters!” When several players showed up with her in the coffee shop, I asked if it is true. She threw her arms around two of them and said, “Of course, you guys aren’t there yet, but you’re on your way!” They all laughed. Beautiful! Students love Luther because Luther loves them. This is our first strength. To be who we are in the 2020 world of higher education, Luther College will be centered in caring for our students.
Strength #2: Luther College is an educational portal “into a larger world!” Jon Lund, Director of our Center for Global Learning, reports that Luther enrolls nearly 150 students from 56 countries. And 75% of our students will study abroad prior to graduation. But Luther also lives up to our mission statement in our whole educational enterprise. We are systemically networked “into a larger world.” Locally, globally, physically, and virtually, Luther is an international portal!
Students love Luther because Luther loves them … To be who we are in the 2020 world of higher education, Luther College will be centered in caring for our students. Two Luther grads were accosted in a foreign land by someone who had previously experienced the vitality of other Luther alums like them. He wanted to know, “How big is Luther College anyway?” And then, “Where in the world is Luther College?” Good question! At least part of the answer is “Wherever Luther’s people are in the world!” This is also at least part of the answer of how Luther College will play its strengths forward into the forces that are disrupting stodgy institutions. Our students,
our Regents, our grads will help us be smart. In 2020, Luther College will be advancing its distinctive liberal arts mission nimbly, filling its sails with the winds of change.
Strength #3: Luther is a community of learning and a community of faith. Luther College stood out among the elite private colleges who received Lilly grants for the Theological Exploration of Vocation, as well you should have. Your deep Lutheran “take” on faith and learning is almost taken for granted, but shouldn’t be. I am eager to see how the “vocation” word continues to come alive with promise at Luther. But Luther’s commitment to “community” has amazed me. Our orientation themes of “Discover, Develop, Become” are anchored in Belong. Our student Resident Advisors get “community.” They even compose “Community Development Logs.” And our faculty understand how truly “counter-cultural” our commitment to community is! It is pure theater for me two months in to speak to you about community, or about your global educational capacities, or about your student-centricity. I hope I am belaboring the obvious. But these strengths are not common elsewhere! This interim, this inflection point, is an exercise of strengths in change. The State of the College is good. We are leaning into the innovations in our tenth presidency. Somebody will get a great job. The best is yet to be. Soli Deo Gloria!
TOBY ZIEMER, LUTHER COLLEGE PHOTO BUREAU
When my wife and I took the campus tour, our student guides informed us that Luther’s library is a global learning center, supporting student research with bits, bytes, and books. Luther’s educational excellence is engaged with the world. Paideia on this lovely campus in Decorah opens into the world God loves, the world of many cultures and religions: drawing in resources from everywhere and moving out into internships, research, service, shadowing grads, and career placement.
Walk to Church Sunday, Sept. 8: following a long-standing Luther tradition, President and Mrs. Tiede lead a procession from the residence halls to the Center for Faith and Life.
The 2012-13 Texts and Issues Lecture Series: Can We Talk?
Beauty is in the Ear of the Listener
Associate Professor of Linguistics and French, Laurie Zaring teaches French and directs Luther’s linguistics program. With degrees from College of Wooster and The University of Texas and her PhD in linguistics from Cornell, she taught at Indiana, Carleton, Macalester, Reed, and Ohio Wesleyan before coming to Luther in 2006. Her dissertation and many of her professional publications deal with linguistic analysis focused on Portuguese and French. Zaring was instrumental in designing and implementing Luther’s minor in linguistics, which was approved in fall 2012.
Can We Talk? The 2012–13 Paideia Texts and Issues Lecture Series
DESIGN BY MICHAEL BARTELS
n late 1980s, a young professor named John Baugh accepted a one-year fellowship at Stanford University. He was trying to relocate his family to Palo Alto, and had gone ahead to look for rental housing. He scoured the classified ads in the paper for suitable apartments, found one, and called to see if he could make an appointment to see it, explaining that he was a visiting professor at Stanford. He was told that, yes, they’d be glad to show it to him. When he showed up, however, he was told that the apartment was no longer available. After this happened for the fourth time, he began to be a bit suspicious. Professor Baugh, you see, is African American. He is also a linguist who has specialized in the use, history, and structure of African American English. The son of two university professors, he grew up in urban Los Angeles and Philadelphia and acquired three varieties of English: Standard English, African American English, and Chicano English. As a result, he had some special tools at his fingertips (or should I say, his tonguetip). He decided to conduct an experiment. Using a different name and phone number for each of his three Englishes, he telephoned landlords in the Bay Area three times, and, using a different English each time, inquired about apartments. The result? When he called with his African American English or Chicano accents, he was put off or rejected more often than when he used his Standard English accent. Now, you might (correctly) conclude that this was racial discrimination, pure and simple—it was just enacted on the basis of sound rather than sight. But there is nothing pure and simple about it: minorities are not the only ones to be targeted by prejudice via their language. Let me tell you another
I Have Nothing to Say and I Am Saying It:
Cage and the Musical Poetics story.John July 2009, the Washington, Georgia, News-Reporter ofIn Noncommunication Tuesday, 2012 ran a storySeptember on the 4,opinion page by news editor Kip Burke, CFL Recital Hall; reception in Qualley Lounge detailing an encounter he had with some visitors to the area. Washington is a small town of about 5,000 people near the Most Trusted Stranger in America SouthThe Carolina border, Tuesday, September 25, 2012due east of Atlanta. Burke recounts CFLwas Main volunteering Hall; reception in CFL that he at lobby the Chamber of Commerce during a Fourth of July celebration for which about 10,000 people Politics, Democracy, and the First Amendment had descended on9, the Tuesday, October 2012 town. Three women from Connecticut Hall; reception in Qualley Lounge cameCFL inRecital to cool off and began talking with him. They were educators, they said. While they talked, a group of local kids Don’t Just Say Something, Sit There: cameHow in Contemplative to use the restroom, chattering away. Burke says: Practice Can Reshape Our Brooke Joyce, associate professor of music and composer-in-residence, Luther College
Frank Warren (invited Distinguished Lecturer), Founder, PostSecret Project
All lectures begin at 7 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life; a reception will follow each presentation.
John Moeller, professor of political science, Luther College
Communication and Our Communities Tuesday, February 19, 2013 CFL Recital Hall; reception in Qualley Lounge
To my eyes, they were bright and smart, a fine cross-section of our local kids, our pride and joy. The Connecticut educators, however, saw and isheard something Beauty in the Ear of the Listenerfar different. “My GahhTuesday, April 9, 2013 hdddddd,” one said through clenched CFL Recital Hall; reception woman in Qualley Lounge teeth. “The schools here must be terrible! Listen to those little … I can’t understand a word they’re saying with that hideous accent. Can’t the schools teach them to speak correctly? Are the teachers as ignorant as they are?” Amy Zalk Larson, campus pastor; Sheila Radford-Hill, executive director of Diversity Center; Sundhya Purohit Caton, interfaith coordinator, all of Luther College
Laurie Zaring, associate professor of linguistics and French, Luther College
Here, it’s pretty plain—this was probably an ethnically-mixed group of children. And yet they were dismissed as ignorant, deficient, and hideous on the basis of the way they talked. Every time we open our mouth to talk, we tell others who we are. Whenever I open my mouth in Decorah, for example, people learn that I’m female, that I didn’t grow up around here but that I’m nonetheless from the Midwest, and that I’m upper-middle class and fairly highly educated. This is normal: because we are human beings, we belong to
social groups, and the words we use, the accent we have, the grammatical constructions we draw on all serve to indicate to others where we come from, what socioeconomic class we ascribe to, what gender we identify with, and what social groups we are a part of. But even as we use talk to express our identities and our place in society, others use it to form instant and often inaccurate opinions about who we are: this is linguistic profiling. The prejudices revealed in these examples stem from two deeply-held ideas we have about language: first, that there is such a thing as good English and bad English; and second, that good English shouldn’t vary or change. These convictions are expressed fairly eloquently by John Simon, theater critic of the New York Magazine, in the PBS documentary Do You Speak American. The host, Robert McNeil, asks him what he thinks about change in English, and Simon replies “Well, it has gotten worse. It’s been my experience that there is no bottom, one can always sink lower, and that the language can always disintegrate further.” When asked how he would describe the state of our language today, Simon offers the opinion that it is “unhealthy, poor, sad, depressing, and probably fairly hopeless.” This evening, I’d like to ask you to start thinking in a different way about language use. The examples I’ve just given are striking, but they don’t really seem to strike close to home. Yet they should, because examples of linguistic profiling are all around us, here at Luther, in Decorah, and elsewhere. I, too, am guilty of it, so I’ll have some confessions to share with you as we go. Let’s start by taking a look at the origins of what linguists Lesley and James Milroy term the complaint tradition. What aspects of language do people complain about? Well, some of you may complain about that question—I’ve stranded a preposition! I should have asked About what aspects of language do people complain? And even if I state that I hope to never offend anyone via my language, I may just have done so by splitting my infinitive (I should have said that I hope never to offend anyone). How many of you would object to these mistakes if you overheard them in someone’s conversation? [Some hands raised.] Not too many? What if you saw them in print, in a textbook? Ah, a few more objections there, but still not many. Let’s consider a few more examples of grammatical mistakes: If you’re gonna hafta leave, you could of let us know.
Again, how many of you would object to these if you overheard them in someone’s conversation? Still not too many? If you saw them in a textbook? Yes, now we’re starting to let our prejudices show. Finally, let’s consider a couple more examples: We done it yesterday. You ain’t seen nothing yet!
How many objections this time, either if you overheard them or saw them in print? Yes, very few of us are comfortable with these. All of us have grammatical pet peeves of this sort— including me. Here is my first confession: if you have three apples and I have five, please don’t say that you have less apples than I do! You have fewer apples than I have, ok? As we saw a bit ago, objections also are lodged against accent. Curiously, our own nonstandard accents rarely seem to be at fault; rather, it’s the accent of the “other” which is
objectionable, and even then, it’s not all others—I would guess that while many people might complain about Indian English accents, few of them would object to a British accent, right? Curiouser and curiouser. Finally, other objections come from word usage. At the beginning of every semester, I ask the students in Linguistics 242 to list misuses of words that bug them. Here are some of their favorites, used correctly: If something has affected you, it has had a certain effect. Many people seem to flaunt the fact that they flout the rules. The word is regardless or irrespective, not irregardless. Grammar can be more fun than this, but it can’t get any funner.
You no doubt have some word-usage bugaboos of your own, but allow me to share a second confession with you. Here are some of mine (students, take note): one refers to things, one does not reference them; one bases something on something else, not off of it; and to service is something a bull does to a cow to impregnate her, so please don’t tell me, as some businesses do, that you’re happy to service me! Why do we object to these things? Note that we don’t criticize the expressive behavior of other species in this way. Stephen Pinker, in his book The Language Instinct, expresses it well: Imagine that you are watching a nature documentary. The video shows the usual gorgeous footage of animals in their natural habitats. But the voiceover reports some troubling facts. Dolphins do not execute their swimming strokes properly. White-crowned sparrows carelessly debase their calls. Chickadees’ nests are incorrectly constructed, pandas hold bamboo in the wrong paw, the song of the humpback whale contains several wellknown errors, and monkeys’ cries have been in a state of chaos and degeneration for hundreds of years. Your reaction would probably be, “What on earth could it mean for the song of the humpback whale to contain an “error”? Isn’t the song of the humpback whale whatever the humpback whale decides to sing? Who is this announcer, anyway?” (Pinker 1994: 382)
As linguists have studied the wide variety of languages around the world over the past century, it has become clear that our objections to human language are just as nonsensical—there’s nothing wrong with the language itself. For example, many of the things we find most objectionable in English are perfectly normal and respected in other languages. Take ain’t, for example. This single negative nonstandard English auxiliary replaces the Standard English negatives forms of be and have: am not, isn’t, aren’t, haven’t, hasn’t. Finnish also has a single negative auxiliary, but it’s the standard Finnish form: e-n
syö-nyt omena eat-ptcp apple ‘I haven’t eaten an apple.’ neg-1s
Double negatives provide another example. They are common in nonstandard English: You ain’t seen nothing. They are also heavily stigmatized, the reasoning being that two negatives make a positive. But in languages like Portuguese, two negative pieces are required in this sort of sentence: Você não tem visto nada. You neg have seen nothing ‘ You haven’t seen anything.’
What, then, is our problem with language? Part of it has to do with change: humans are not always very good at it. Clearly, we greet certain societal changes with more or less open arms—electronic means of communication, means of rapid travel, microwave ovens—but many people are quite resistant to other sorts of change, for example, gender equality and need for more energy-efficient cars and buildings. Language seems to be one of those realms of resistance; we resist losing aspects of English grammar that seem normal to us (such as my insistence on fewer), and we resist new pronunciations (using beg for bag) and new words (to service). But resistance really is futile, here. Language changes all the time, and it must do so to remain relevant and communicatively useful. This is a fact of human society, human culture, and the human mind. So, get over it, I say to myself. Words like to reference and to base off of are here to stay. Our resistance to change in language is a legacy bestowed on us by the tremendous social and cultural evolution which took place in England from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries (the Early Modern English period). This was a time when new ideas ran rampant, bringing with them a flood of new vocabulary. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Renaissance and the Reformation inspired a renewal of Classical learning, the development of scientific thought, an expansion of the arts. Words flooded into English from Latin and Greek and from French and Italian: Latin and Greek: larynx, comma, linguist, crisis, immediate, enthusiasm French: bizarre, moustache, passport, volunteer, cabaret, chocolate, colonel
Italian: balcony, cameo, carnival, concerto, cupola, design, grotto, lottery, macaroni, opera, piazza.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, world exploration and colonization led to the “discovery” of South Asia via the spice trade, and to the exploration and exploitation of the New World and Africa. Words also flooded in from the indigenous languages of these areas: Middle East: cabbala, caftan, coffee, horde, kiosk, vizier, yogurt, alcove, harem, hashish, jar, magazine, sherbet, sofa, tariff
India: bungalow, chintz, cot, guru, juggernaut, punch, pundit, atoll, calico, catamaran, curry, mango, pariah, teak Western hemisphere: skunk, moose, opossum, moccasin, raccoon, persimmon, chinchilla, bayou, succotash, toboggan. 14
These sociocultural changes brought a tremendous amount of change to the language, which many of the writers of the time reveled in. But two factors came to interfere with the welcome that this sort of change received. First, the dissemination of all these new ideas and vocabulary was substantially facilitated by the invention of the printing press, but the need to reach audiences across England called for printing houses to more or less agree on the vocabulary and spelling they used. Consistency became important, and change became undesirable, even burdensome. Second, Latin had been the language of erudition throughout Europe during the Middle Ages; scholars spoke it and wrote in it—Latin was the language of learning. Furthermore, it was a language that had been standardized and codified by the Romans before the beginning of the common era and it was held up as a symbol of what a good language, a perfect language looked like. It hadn’t changed for over 1500 years, which implied that good language doesn’t change. If English was to be considered a good language, change had to stop. However, a pressure other than mere reluctance to change is at work, too: we are acculturated to dislike certain varieties of language—they are defective, base, bad language. Negative attitudes towards other people’s way of speaking is nothing new. Ranulph Higden, a Englishman from the southeast of England wrote in 1327, describing the northern dialect of (Middle) English: Al þe langage of þe Norþhumbres, and specialliche at ʒork, is so scharp, slitting, and frotynge, and vnschape, þat we souþerne men may þat longage unneþe vnderstonde.
“All the language of the Northumberland, and especially at York, is so sharp, cutting, grating, and disordered that we southern men can scarcely understand.” (From Higden’s Polychronicon, translated into Middle English by John of Trevisa, 1387, in Brinton and Arnovick 2006: 244-45; the Modern English translation is mine.)
The negative attitudes reflected here were refined further in the Early Modern English period. For three centuries, England had undergone tremendous demographic change: plague and famine had severely pared down the population and the need for workers in urban areas led to the rapid expansion of urban centers, especially London. By the eighteenth century, this brought about an increase not only in geographic but also social mobility, which in turn led to the rapid growth of a fairly wealthy middle class (the gentry). As a result, there were educated people in the centers of power speaking a wide variety of very different English dialects and working as business people, merchants, and industrialists. They all naturally wanted to participate in upper levels of society, but the aristocratic power structure must have sensed this as a threat to their way of life, to their exclusive control over English society. As they saw it, the middle class didn’t have the necessary background to interact properly with the upper crust. It was at this point that a strongly hierarchical society—the British class system—began to crystallize, and language became one of the primary tools for enforcing the hierarchy. Linguists have
William Caxton showing his printing press to King Edward IV and his Queen. Published in The Graphic in 1877 to commemorate The Caxton Celebration, the 400th anniversary of the first printed book in England (1473). shown that one of the primary social functions of language variation is to foster group solidarity and to distance groups from each other. The codification of English—the development of “good” (i.e., Standard) English—helped maintain that social distance in that it dictated norms for prestige-related behavior, norms that had to be learned overtly by everyone not born to it (i.e., everyone not of the aristocracy) and in that it instigated attitudes of disdain towards behavior that didn’t conform. Nonstandard language came to be considered corrupt, uncouth, low, profane, barbaric, and offensive. The result was that England developed in the eighteenth century what linguists James and Lesley Milroy term a standard language ideology. Lesley Milroy explains it this way: The chief characteristic of a standard ideology is the belief that there is one and only one correct spoken form of the language, modeled on a single correct written form.… Typically, the standardlanguage ideology regards … variation in either channel as an undesirable deviation …. [It] holds that far from being a morally neutral fact of social life, language change equates with language decay, and variation with ‘bad’ or ‘inadequate’ language. (Milroy 1999: 174-175)
Now, England was not the only country to come up with a standard language in this period. France, Spain, and Italy, among others, also took part in the same process and they all exported the Standard Language Ideology around the world during the period of European colonization. This ideology has so permeated their and our culture that almost none of us are aware of it, and acculturation to it is hard to resist, even for linguists. This brings me to my third confession. I went to the University of Texas at Austin for my masters degree, and I loved Texas—yeah, the state was a little quirky, politically, but the people were great and I loved the dialect—being able to use y’all and fixin to and might could was marvelous. Then I moved back north, and, in 2000, the country elected a Texan as president, a man who I strongly felt had no business being president. I started cringing every time I had to listen to him, and I began to develop an intense dislike of the Texas accent whenever I heard it, no matter who it was from. How could
this happen? I had loved the Texas accent; now I couldn’t stand it. And I’m a linguist! I should know better! This is an example, much to my chagrin, of how insidious the Standard Language Ideology is. How can we confront these perceptions that are such an integral part of our culture? Let’s start by considering where we find them in our lives. An ideology can be defined as a set of beliefs that allows people to project their own practices as universal and commonsensical, either by coercion or consent. In what ways do we at Luther coerce and consent to the Standard Language Ideology? They are abundant. As a linguist, I love living in an area where there is a regional accent. So, ’fess up now: how many of you out there have the Minnesota ‘o’? And how many of you have been kidded or made fun of because of it? Now this was probably all in good fun, but didn’t it make you feel a little self-conscious about saying ‘o’? That is coercion, however gentle it might be, and when you kid someone about their accent, you are consenting to the Standard Language Ideology. In my Introduction to Linguistics course every fall, we discuss these issues, and I ask students for examples of language-based prejudice that they’ve encountered at Luther. Kristin Anderson (’16) described one such incident in an essay she wrote for the course: During Freshman Orientation this year the guest speaker at our welcoming ceremony [Thrity Umrigar] had an Indian accent. Listening to her speak about her accomplishments was really interesting and several professors said that hers was probably the best introductory speech that they had heard in years. But I will never forget what I heard a few students saying while we were leaving the CFL: “I could barely understand her.” “Me too; I was too tired of it so I fell asleep.” To say the least, the comments really irritated me. In front of them was an amazing entrepreneur who had done more in her lifetime than any of us freshmen could imagine, yet some people dismissed everything she had to say from the moment they realized that she didn’t speak with a standard Midwestern accent.
This, too, is consent and coercion, and it is not limited to reactions to guest speakers—we have international students, international staff, and international faculty on this campus, many of whom do not have a standard American English accent. How do you react to their accent? What about things other than accent—spelling, word choice, grammar? Many of us here tonight probably spend a lot of time in class here at Luther, and most of our courses encourage discussion in class. How many of you (both professors and students) have felt some sort of pressure to sound “academic” or “smart” in class? How many of you feel that this affects the words and grammar you use in class? This is coercion and consent: to be considered smart, you need to use Standard English, even when you could express the same ideas just as well in nonstandard English. Finally, let’s talk about writing. How many of you students have had professors correct your spelling, word choice, and grammar on a paper? How many of you have worked hard Fall 2013/Agora
to write correctly? This, too, is coercion and consent: writing is the medium in which Standard English is held to be most important in order to provide clarity to the text, and yet our “mistakes” do not always interfere with clarity of expression. Why, then, do we feel we need to correct them? The answer is that the Standard Language Ideology is alive and well at Luther. In fact, educational institutions are one of the primary vectors for perpetuating it. So, off with its head, right? Down with Standard English! Actually, I’m not advocating that we do away with Standard English. English has become a world language, a lingua franca; in thirty years, linguists estimate that the majority of people who speak English will be non-native speakers. It is supremely helpful to have a medium in which many, many people can communicate around the world, and Standard English appears to be developing into that medium. So, if Standard English is not going to go away, we need first to learn how to deal with the situation as it stands. This means, I would suggest, that we all need to be linguistic amphibians. We need to be able to move with ease from our everyday, casual, nonstandard English in whatever form it takes, to a very formal, even academic Standard English as the situation demands. We need to be able to use the appropriate register of language in the appropriate environment. This means that we need, essentially, to be multidialectal. By multidialectal, however, I do not mean that we should all start talking with a Southern accent or using African American English—that would only be acceptable if we moved to the South, or joined an African American English-speaking community. Rather, I mean that we need to have a range of Englishes at our finger- and tongue-tips. Students, what does this mean for you? It means that you do need to learn formal Standard English. When you write to professors or employers, or prepare documents for coworkers or the public at large, good spelling, word choice, and grammar can open doors for you, just as poor spelling, word choice and grammar can keep them shut. This is one of our goals in having you write essays and papers, and the more you write, the easier it gets, so keep in mind as you write that you’re learning a job skill! Professors, what about us? It means that we need to teach students how to use spoken and written Standard English. I think many of us hope that students will somehow learn this by osmosis, but that takes a long time, and we only have them for four years. So perhaps we need a discussion on how to teach the essentials of good spelling (no, spell checkers aren’t sufficient), good word choice, good formal grammar. Do we need a Paideia grammar unit? A Luther style manual? How can we, each and every one of us, enable students to become linguistically versatile? These suggestions may help to avoid discrimination aimed at us, but how might we ourselves act to avoid perpetuating language-based discrimination towards others? This is another question I ask of my Introduction to Linguistics students. Six of them have very kindly offered to let me present some of their ideas for addressing accent-based prejudice, which I think could apply equally well to grammar or word-based prejudice. Kristin Anderson, who overheard 16
those remarks about our opening convocation speaker this year, had this suggestion: Looking back, I probably should have said something. Even something as small like, “It was really an amazing lecture; it’s too bad you missed it,” would have done more justice than my uncomfortable silence.
Jennifer Schulz (’13) had a similar idea:
Another way through which people could try to eliminate negative attitudes and stereotypes is by becoming better listeners.… [C]ommunication is the responsibility of all parties present…. If it was the desire for all participants in a conversation to understand and help each other communicate, then those with accents would not feel so out of place and put on the spot …. If the responsibility for communication were shared, then discrimination would find no place in the thoughts of the participants.
Hannah Rowse (’15) attributes some of the problem to the “Luther bubble”: The effect this has had—on me, at least—is that during my time here, my ear becomes somewhat less acrobatic. That is, my ear becomes numb from hearing only one or two very similar dialects every day; it is then overwhelmed hearing an unfamiliar dialect, and has a harder time picking out the codes and nuances of the new accent. And of course that only leads to confusion and misunderstanding. One major factor that leads to the problems of dialectical bias and linguistic profiling is often a matter of underexposure to various dialects, and thus underexposure to various ways of thinking. Hannah Scholbrock (’15) suggests a remedy:
Diversity is all over campus, but different groups don’t mix with each other. It isn’t necessarily because they have something against each other, but more that they are intimidated, or unwilling to try to put forth the effort it takes to communicate because it is “too difficult” to understand each other. As a community at Luther College, we need to learn to branch out and integrate ourselves with people who are “difficult to understand.” American students need to make more of an effort to go to the diversity center activities. Everyone needs to break out of their comfort zones and then transfer this lifestyle into the real world with them once their time at Luther is done so linguistic profiling and discrimination are viewed as wrong by more and more people.
Hunter Woodley (’13) notes that one of our Luther academic requirements can provide important perspective: Luther does, however, have many practices that help reduce such bias. One of these is the foreign
language requirement for graduation. Requiring the study of a foreign language allows students to begin to see what it can be like for someone of a different background to learn the English language. Through students’ own struggles at learning a new language, they realize that it is extremely difficult to pick up the standard accent of a foreign language. Since the students know that they aren’t any less qualified or intelligent than native speakers of the language they are learning, they begin to realize that it does not make any sense to discriminate against speakers of English who have non-standard dialect.
Finally, Katie Caflisch (’16) recommends another action: It is not uncommon to flip through television channels and witness how stereotypes of other cultures have been magnified, often by exaggerated accents, in pop culture for the purpose of satire or comedy.… Although this form of entertainment may be funny at the moment, it is only strengthening a skewed perception of non-native English speakers before we even know them. We can choose not to accept this sort of entertainment, watching other programs instead, and making a statement about what the American population wants to watch. It may not be comfortable to confront peers about their choice of subject in matters of recreation, but it is necessary to talk about seemingly innocent diversions if they spread these language stereotypes.
References Brinton, Laurel A. and Leslie K. Arnovick. 2006. The English language: A linguistic history. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Burke, Kip. 2009. Intolerance of Southern accents seems to be the last acceptable prejudice for some folks. The News-Reporter, July 2. <http://www.news-reporter.com/news/2009-07-02/opinion/022. html> Cran, William, Christopher Buchanan, and Robert MacNeil. 2005. Do you speak American? Episode 1: Up North. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities & Sciences. Milroy, Leslie. 1999. Standard English and language ideology in Britain and the United States, in Standard English: The Widening Debate, Tony Bex and Richard J. Watts (eds.). London: Routledge. Pinker, Stephen. 1994. The Language Instinct. How the mind creates language. New York, NY: Morrow.
To conclude, I have suggested that one thing we need to do in response to the importance of Standard English in our lives is to become multidialectal. But my students’ suggestions point to two more things we can do to counter the Standard Language Ideology, and these are both linked to goals we already have for a Luther education and for a truly open and free society. First, we need to embrace the linguistic diversity
around us. We need to step outside our comfort zones, to get to know people who aren’t from around here, both domestically- and internationally-speaking. This in turn will help us learn that passing judgment on language is actually passing judgment on its users. But we also need to learn to listen intelligently, with an open ear. We need to remember that talk is a two-way street in which the listener bears just as much responsibility for successful communication as the speaker. We need to rejoice in the amazing adaptability of the human mind to decipher the sounds and syntax of language. Give your mind a regular workout, enable it to practice some linguistic gymnastics, and you will find that it’s really not that hard, with patience and respect for the speaker and yourself. The first step in righting any wrong resulting from a form of discrimination is to become aware that the wrong exists. But awareness is not sufficient. We must act, and act locally, in order to have any global impact. When it comes to language, beauty is in the ear of the listener, not the eye of the beholder. Let us all endeavor to find beauty in our own ears.
What sort of English do you complain about? Fall 2013/Agora
The 2013-14 Paideia Texts and Issues Lecture Series: Studying the “Other”
The “Other” is Us: The Stigmatization of Mental Illness
JOSEPH L. BREITENSTEIN
Joe Breitenstein, a licensed psychologist and associate professor, teaches many of the upper-level clinical psychology courses at Luther, joining the faculty in 1996. He earned his PhD in psychology at West Virginia University. Breitenstein researches psychological adjustment to college, computerized genograms, and reducing stigmatization of mental illness. He has conducted hundreds of psychological evaluations of adults and children in various settings including hospitals, clinics, prisons and courtrooms.
DESIGN BY MICHAEL BARTELS
t any given time, about 30% of all adults meet diagnostic criteria for a major psychiatric disorder, about 50% will experience such a disorder at some point in their lives, and nearly 80% of all of these people will actually have more than one serious disorder (Kessler, McConagle, Zhao, Nelson, et al., 1994). When people are given free access to mental health services, about half seek help for such serious diagnoses and the other half for significant problems in living, such as unhappy families, jobs, or just general life suffering (Strosahl, 1994). Only a minority of all people needing psychological assistance will seek it (Comer, 2013). Those that do desire help often face overwhelming systemic and interpersonal barriers in being able to access care, not the least of which is the stigma associated with the condition (Benbow, 2007; Sartorius & Thornicroft, 2011). It is hard to imagine anyone going through life without a serious psychological condition or a very challenging time for which they could benefit significantly from formal psychological assistance. And most everyone at any given time is in relatively close contact with someone dealing with either a serious psychological condition or going through a tough time in life. The “other” is us. While this data may still seem quite abstract, our campus has similar features that reflect worsening mental health at campuses of all types around the country. In a given year, close to 20% of Luther students seek help from Counseling Services or a similar source, a number that seems to be steadily increasing over the past ten years. Most are seen for depression and anxiety (P. Torresdal, personal communication, September 7, 2013). Luther is also probably no different from the general
population in that many if not most people with mental illness will not seek care for various reasons, including stigma, despite valiant efforts on campus to encourage seeking such help. Since we are a community, the Luther “other” is the Luther us. Considering the ubiquity of all of this pain and suffering, it may appear puzzling at first that mental illness is so stigmatized. To begin to sort things out, it makes sense to start with the word “stigma” itself. It was derived from a Greek word that came to mean two quite different things, an identifying mark branded upon a person and the more generic definition of a symptom of a disease. It is easy to see how the two meanings became synonymous with something as ill-defined as mental illness, where an overt symptom became associated
with pejorative status (Goffman, 1963). Words we choose define the “other.” Recent research suggests that the general process of stigmatization may even have its roots in evolutionary processes of selection and safety. Primate research strongly suggests that social dominance is typically achieved by aggressive sociopathic and self-serving traits taking the form of despotism and associated nepotism. For subordinates, this creates inequitable natural and even dangerous social conditions that contribute to if not outright cause mental illness and keep a suffering general population even more subjugated (Maestripieri, 2007, 2011). Such dominance can certainly happen at the national level. Many if not most governments operate in just such a fashion. And such dominance is also frequently at work on smaller scales such as family, work, or even educational settings. Part of the “other” has a seemingly natural advantage in controlling us and making us become a different part of the “other.” Although such inherent tendencies will probably always exist, it appears that more immediate social forces make stigmatization the process that it is today, especially in how we continue to misconstrue language. This labeling takes many forms, such as corruptions of clinical institutions. “Bedlam” for example, comes from the regional pronunciation of Bethlehem in the name of the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, London; “funny farm” derives from the agricultural settings of state hospitals. Even some formal clinical terms have become pejorative and need be replaced by new terms (e.g., “idiot” and “imbecile” were once used as formal designations of intellectual impairment). And then of course there are many common slang pejoratives, such as psycho, nutso, schizo, etc. One of the biggest purveyors of mental health stigmatization is the mass media. Research supports the stigmatizing effects of such portrayals in all sorts of genres, from television to fairy tales. Although such inherent tendencies will probably always exist, it appears that more immediate social forces make stigmatization the process that it is today, especially in how we continue to misconstrue language. One of the biggest purveyors of mental health stigmatization is the mass media. Research supports the stigmatizing effects of such portrayals in all sorts of genres, from television to fairy tales (Nairn, 2007;
Wahl, 2003). Like water to a fish, we may be so surrounded by such stigmatizing influences as not to notice.
To discriminate on the basis of mental health status can be considered a form of “healthism,” which is no different than discrimination based upon other personal statuses like racism, sexism, or ageism.
I organized a research team with some of my students to conduct an informal study of popular television shows to examine the extent of such stigmatism. We watched the first full seasons of the top two rated drama shows (House MD and Glee) and “reality” shows (Teen Mom and Jersey Shore) as well as a full week of the top two cable news shows (The Rachel Maddow Show and The O’Reilly Factor) along with PBS Newshour. We simply recorded any incidence of potential reference to mental illness and then examined the context of the term to determine if it was used in a stigmatizing manner. As the our table demonstrates (see Figure 1), such stigmatizing use was almost always the case. For example, in the news shows, it was common practice to associate opposing political views with mental illness. The media society portrays the “other” for us. To discriminate on the basis of mental health status can be considered a form of “healthism,” which is no different than discrimination based upon other personal statuses like racism, sexism, or ageism. And while TV personalities and even college professors would be readily sanctioned for the blatant use of discriminatory language in general, it appears as if we have not evolved the same standard with mental healthism. Of course, there is always the chance that a character on a television show or a news personality actually has a mental illness, but this should be portrayed with clinical accuracy and compassion, which rarely happens. This could greatly help us appreciate the “other.” The complexities of actual psychopathology, stigmatism and the media can become pretty confusing. For example, there could be a news personality or politician with a formally unrecognized mental illness like narShow Mental Illness References % cissistic or antisocial personality disorder, using (Per Episode) Stigmatizing mental healthism to unfairly associate an opponent’s advocacy for ready access to mental health PBS Newshour 14 (2.5) 27.3 care. Or such a person might equate positions of The Rachel Maddow Show 24 (5.0) 93.2 reasonable gun control with mental illness, and The O’Reilly Factor 16 (3.4) 94.1 thereby create a false sense of security that wider gun possession would supposedly afford us against those that are mischaracterized as dangerously Glee 37 (4.6) 100 mentally ill. This segment of the “other” is probHouse MD 43 (4.3) 100 ably constantly trying to manipulate us. And then there are the other natural complications that can happen inside all of us. One Jersey Shore 119 (13.2) 99.2 is what I call “psychoirony.” Psychoirony happens Teen Mom 69 (6.9) 75 when the actual symptoms of a disorder interfere Figure 1. Frequency of Mental Illness Stigmatization with one’s getting help. This can range from the Fall 2013/Agora
person with an anxiety disorder too nervous to seek help, to someone with dependent personality disorder being too attached to curtail treatment. Another is when one becomes fused to his or her symptoms and lives them out with no more detachment than we have in overtly thinking about driving or even tying our shoes. Yet another source is called experiential avoidance, Hands with stigmata. A relief image on where some symp- a Franciscan church exterior in Lienz, toms are actually re- Austria. inforced in that they keep patients from experiencing even more painful sensations, like when the compulsive workaholic avoids the unhappy relationship waiting at home (Hayes, 2005). What the “other” in each of us resists, persists. Luther College is a campus that prides itself on tolerance. This is a great place to start a campaign against mental healthism. The college should continue to support mental health services on campus and expand these vital services whenever possible. We should all be unafraid to seek assistance if we have a psychological condition or are just going through a difficult stage in life. We should actively support others in seeking such help. We should maintain constant vigilance against despotism and nepotism in our ranks. We should align our values with current reasoning. Our current research attempts to identify correlates of stigmatization (e.g., how might being a first-generation college student be related to stigmatization) among college students to identify educational efforts that might remediate their adverse consequences. The us should constantly labor to understand the “other.” Perhaps the most immediate thing we could do is to better edit our language. Listen with a “third ear” to lectures and conversations. When you find yourself saying a word that has a mental health reference, privately substitute a racial or sexist epithet and sense how it would feel to engage in what is ultimately similar discriminatory language. Gently encourage others to refrain from such use as well in a way that is informative and not embarrassing. Choose careers and lives advocating for social justice that provides health care access and eliminates other inequities that can be associated with mental illness. Beware, however, that such helping itself can be
stigmatizing, a phenomenon Goffman (1963) called, “courtesy stigma.” Those that help the “other” can become associated with the “other.” The word stigma also has a less common etymology. This sense refers to marks similar to those left on Jesus after crucifixion and thought to have been divinely impressed on deserving others. Perhaps it is time to consider adapting that third definition of stigma associated with crucifixion in a more metaphorical, if mundane sense. The suffering and even persecution that can be associated with mental illness or just enduring life challenges can leave a transforming mark on us that can become a testament to our character and devotion to the health of those in such need In this sense, stigma becomes a virtue, a giving love that connects us to all “others.” References Benbow, A. (2007). Mental illness, stigma, and the media. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 68, 31-35. Brohan, E., Gauci, D., Sartorius, N., & Thornicroft, G. (2011). Selfstigma, empowerment and perceived discrimination among people with bipolar disorder or depression in 13 European countries: The GAMIAM-Europe study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 129, 56-63. Comer, R.J. (2013). Fundamentals of abnormal psychology. New York: Worth Publishers. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: notes on the management of spoiled identity. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc. Hayes, S. C. (2005). Get out of your mind and into your life: The new Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Kessler, R.C., McConagle, K.A., Zhao, S., Nelson, C.B., et al. (1994). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders n the United States: Results from the National Comorbidity Study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51, 8-19. Maestripieri, D. (2007). Macachiavellian intelligence: How rhesus macaques and humans have conquered the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Maestripieri, D. (2011). Games primates play. New York: Basic Books. Nairn, R.G. (2007). Media portrayals of mental illness, or is it madness? A review. Australian Psychologist, 42, 138-146. Strosahl, K. (1994). Entering the new frontier of managed mental health care: Gold mines and land mines. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 1, 5-23. Wahl, O.F. (2003). Depictions of mental illnesses in children’s media. Journal of Mental Health, 3, 249-258.
The Invisible Animal and the Visible Institution: The Government Cattle Farm, Hissar, 1800-1845
nimals are all around us. This may seem patently obvious to students on Luther’s campus, charmed by the arboreal rats perhaps better known as eastern gray squirrels, and to any urban Indian troubled by feral dogs, with their looming threat of rabid bites. But animals also have a history, which in some cases may be measured through individual lives but most often can be traced through generational shifts. For example, in the past fifteen years, vultures have disappeared from north India’s skies and house sparrows from its grounds—the former a result of overuse of antibiotics in cattle, whose carcasses formed a major portion of vultures’ former diets, and the latter a result of causes not yet clear, though massive urbanization and motor vehicle use are likely to have made a contribution. Yet history, as an academic discipline, has rendered animals invisible. Its preoccupation with relationships between humans and the abstract social entities that they create, such as states, has allowed historians to consider land as a component of human relations: for example, the shifting boundaries of political or cultural territories; the movement, creation, and control of watercourses and other water sources as the precondition of agriculture and the societies built upon the production of flora; and, more recently, the chemistry and geology of soil (and the water interacting with it) in both urban and rural locales. For Herodotus, Sima Qian, and other early historians, land was territory under governance, under cultivation, or space between human habitations. Marx’s analysis of feudalism, and indeed of capitalism, made social access to by
BRIAN P. CATON
Brian Caton joined the Luther faculty in 2003 and is an associate professor in the history department, teaching courses on South Asian and environmental history. Caton is involved in numerous scholarly societies including the American Institute for Pakistan Studies and the Society for Advancing the History of South Asia, where he is both a founding member and a member of the executive committee. He was instrumental in creating a new minor in Asian studies at Luther and he will be the director of Luther’s Nottingham Study Centre in 2014-15.
land the crucial relationship that could explain both systems of power relations and how those systems could change. For Frederick Jackson Turner, land, in the form of the “frontier,” was a terrain capable of defining cultural identity. All of these authors either ignored animals entirely or viewed animals, particularly domesticates, as so integral to human life that they did not require special mention. To some extent, this situation has resulted from historians’ reliance on written texts as sources. People who kept animals for a living tended to lead lives of high mobility, and the maintenance of written records of their pasts would impose a physical burden that would have limited that mobility. Thus we know most of what we know about animal herders from the settled societies with whom they interacted on a frequent if not regular basis. Cultural chauvinism led most chroniclers of cultivated societies to take a dim view of the “outsiders” who sold animals to and often stole animals from cultivators. At the same time, in India at least, cultivators— even the most indebted tenants—never worried about access to animal labor, as long as they had the financial resources available to purchase animals. Thus the textual evidence for a history of animal herders is highly fragmentary and inflected negatively, so that anyone hoping to construct such a history must do a great deal of narrative assembly and engage in the methodology described by Ranajit Guha as “reading against the sources.”1 Oral sources have become more useful in some studies of pastoralists, as in Shail Mayaram’s study of north India’s Meos, but such evidence seems not to be available for the herders of southwestern Punjab, who were nearly completely sedentarized in the second half of the nineteenth century.2 Thus my own work on this process (or, really, processes) of sedentarization and the making of the colonial state focused at its foundation on the social relations among pastoralists and between pastoralists and various kinds of outsider, though animals appear more prominently in my narrative because of the centrality of animals among the material bases for the economic and cultural transactions that defined those social relations.3 The colonial texts that provided the bulk of the source material for my Ph.D. dissertation suggested the possibility of at least one other kind of narrative centered on Punjabis’ animals. Texts produced in the second half of the nineteenth century meant for use by civil administrators discussed some of the more prominent types of disease visiting domesticates, reflectFall 2013/Agora
ing on the one hand a suspicion regarding the legitimacy of intervened even further away, in Afghanistan, in 1839) until reasons peasants offered for paying less than the full taxes due, mid-century. Though the Company was very keen to arm and and on the other hand a somewhat genuine concern for the uniform its troops from European sources, in the eighteenth welfare of the peasant and his ability to pay any taxes at all. The century it sought to expand the Indian manufacture of arms, late nineteenth century also coincided with the blossoming of ammunition, and other supplies as the size of the army grew. veterinary medicine in England, so that by the 1880s, calls for Animal power was required for all of these processes. It was the veterinary training of Punjabis became more strident, and also required for moving such items, and also food rations, the creation of a provincial Civil Veterinary Department in along with the movement of troops from military bases to the 1890s joined the administration of veterinary education, battle lines. In supplying troops on the move, the Company bacteriological laboratory experimentation, and a growing relied on hiring or buying animals, mainly bullocks, from bansystem of dispensaries for the provision of veterinary care. The jaras, a generic north Indian term applied to a class of people CVD also in the late 1890s took over what had been a military who made a living using bullocks to move bulk goods over institution, the Government Cattle Farm (GCF), Hissar [See long distances, from at least the thirteenth century.6 So in the map below]. The GCF appeared in the civil administrative early nineteenth century, the Company’s directors in London records sporadically, in cases where it sent stud bulls and rams and their highest-ranking servants in Calcutta sought to to willing and unwilling create their own supply parties in the 1870s in of animal labor that did southwestern Punjab, not depend on a market ostensibly to improve controlled by Indians. the local breed of bullock This was preceded, in the and (mutton) sheep. The early 1790s, by a similar outcome of such expericoncern regarding access ments suggested a narto horses that could meet rative of animals as the certain physical specifisite of contestation over cations, which resulted in power in the ongoing the establishment of the construction of the coloHonorable Company’s nial condition, a narrative Stud at Pusa, some few made famous by David miles up the Gandak Arnold in his discussion River from Patna.7 In the 4 of human bodies. But documents chartering why should such an instithe Stud, efforts toward tution as the GCF have improving the breed of been formed in the first horned cattle ran parallel, place? The civil adminis- This 1891 painting by Richard Simkin depicts the Corps of Guides, a yet demonstrably second, trative records provided regiment of the British Indian Army. to improving the breed little in the way of clues of horse; however, in the to answer this question, and thus military department records, first ten to twenty years of the Stud’s existence, its superintenstored at the National Archives of India, New Delhi, needed dents engaged in very little activity regarding cattle, reflecting to be consulted. their personal or professional interests in horses. Before answering this question, some explanation of the The Government Cattle Farm seems to have been the colonial military and how it met its material needs is required. brainchild of Maj. James Lumsdaine. As a lieutenant in the The Honorable East India Company, one of the world’s first Bengal Army, Lumsdaine had been appointed the Agent for corporations, took on the burdens of government in Bengal Camels and Gram in 1807, a post responsible for buying after winning a military engagement in 1765 with local forces gram, the primary fodder for cavalry horses in India, and the in the neighborhood of the city of Patna.5 One should be clear camels required for transporting it to cavalry units. In 1809, that while some units of the British Army were deployed on his own expense, Lumsdaine occupied an apparently empty in India, the bulk of forces that the Company fielded were stretch of land just north of the fort of Hissar, had an Indian Indians, recruited, paid, and directed by British Army offiagent buy a batch of about fifty camels from the state of Kota, cers on Company salaries. For a variety of reasons, generally to the south, and bred the camels at an economical rate (as explained in Parliament as “defense of our Indian territories,” the grazing was free). In 1814, Lumsdaine, now promoted to the Company pushed to increase the territories under its manmajor and to the post of Deputy Commissary General, proagement, in all directions in the late eighteenth century, but posed to sell his camel operation at cost to government, and significantly up the Gangetic valley and encompassing Delhi further proposed to use the extensive grazing ground to breed and its hinterland by 1803. The combination of a successful horned cattle and to serve as a depot for some of the Pusa treaty completed with a powerful neighbor in Punjab in 1809 Stud’s stallions. Given Lumsdaine’s rosy view of the territory and increasing pressure from London to curb expenses led to a as especially well-suited to grazing and his camel operation’s temporary halt in northwest expansion (though the Company proven profitability, the government eagerly accepted his 22
proposition. Although Lumsdaine died suddenly from illness in 1816, a string of usually competent successors expanded in 1824-25 the territory used by the farm and in general kept the institution running through at least the first Afghan War.8 In fact, the persistence of the institution is arguably the most intriguing aspect of its history. After little more than ten years of operation, the Pusa Stud began a long history of defending its annual budget deficits and its long-term debt to military accountants and the Governor-General in Calcutta, and in turn to the Company’s Court of Directors in London. The Stud also had deficits running in its system of subordinate studs and depots strung out across north India, from Pusa to Hissar, and the horse operation at Hissar accordingly showed deficits in its periodic reports to the Military Board. The cattle and camel operations, during the same period, either hovered around the break-even point or landed securely in the black. However, even these parts of the farm came under scrutiny in the 1830s and again in the 1840s. At the beginning of the 1830s, London sent a new Governor-General, W. C. Bentinck, to Calcutta with the brief to slash expenses across the board, particularly in the military budget, in order to reduce the Company’s deficits prior to the parliamentary debate over the renewal of the Company’s charter in 1833. Bentinck had put the cattle operation on the chopping block but changed his mind after making a personal inspection of the Hissar farm. Similar budgetary concerns led to the elimination of horse operations at Hissar in 1841, and prompted the Military Board to appoint a two-man commission of inquiry in 1844 to assess whether the cattle and camel operations should also be shut down.9 Of course, the camel and cattle operations survived this inquiry, but the reasons are a bit less interesting than the question of why profitable operations became relatively quickly unprofitable. Fundamentally the profitability of the camel and cattle operations resulted on the one hand from a misguided understanding of the environment of the Hissar farm and an inability to adapt to environmental changes caused by the farm, and on the other hand by a set of unrealistic expectations regarding the volume and quality of animal bodies produced at the farm. Although there is some debate about the extent and timing of the change, most scholars agree that the country around Hissar, known locally as the “Hariana” or “green” country, had been made fertile by water flowing through the Ghaggar River and a canal linking the Yamuna River to the Hissar fort (both built by a fourteenth-century king), before the Ghaggar and the canal dried up by at least the mid-eighteenth century.10 Rainfall in Hariana was fickle: in some years, rain came so suddenly and heavily that it ponded over the generally flat landscape for miles, and in other years, rain hardly fell at all. Such uncertain conditions did not preclude human habitation, but it favored people who practiced highly mobile forms of pastoralism. An extended drought in 1782-83 so denuded Hariana of its vegetation that villagers and pastoralists alike fled for at least a generation; when Lumsdaine arrived in Hissar in 1808, he found about 400 people living in the fort and the adjoining town entirely empty. In years of good rainfall, good grass suitable for horses and horned cattle grew to the north and west of Hissar, but it did so between trees and shrubs
that could withstand the otherwise arid conditions—acacias and other thorny vegetation that was eminently suitable for camels. Thus it was hardly surprising that camel breeding was initially so successful. However, by 1826 the farm’s camels were being sent to private property to browse.11 At the same time, the additional land acquired for the farm’s expansion to the northwest was allotted to its growing cattle population and an extension of the canal excavated in 1833 to reach this land; but by June 1834 the drought and fodder famine were so severe to prompt the farm’s supervisor to send the entire cattle stock to Dehra Dun, some 260 km to the north, in what turned out to be a disastrous effort to save the animals from starvation. Droughts causing fodder famines occurred again in 1837-38, 1841-42, and 1844. The unpredictability of grass led supervisors to use canal-watered land for cultivating fodder—oats for the horses, the most valuable animals—and to extend fodder cultivation where possible, including feeding oats in straw to cattle in the 1840s as horse production wound down. The additional costs of cultivation, deaths from fodder famine and related diseases, and decreased birth rates from underfed cows all drove up the cost per bullock—the primary means of measuring the profitability of the cattle division of the farm. Promises of profitability could not be fulfilled, and also British expectations of the quantity and quality of animal produced could not be met. The success of camel breeding at Hissar, in terms of number, ensured that most demand for camels could be met during peacetime or episodes of highly localized combat. However, the high demand for camels during the First Afghan War, and the exceedingly high mortality rates of camels sent across the Indus River, forced the army to withdraw a number of animals from Hissar that affected temporarily the reproduction rate and to seek replacement animals from Sindh and Punjab, the independent states through which the army passed. During the War, the army set up a depot of camels at Ferozepore, immediately across the Sutlej River from Punjab.12 Lumsdaine’s original proposal for the farm called for 1,000 cows of three breeds, the Hariana, Sindh, and Nagore, some to be kept purebred and some to be crossed. These were to produce enough bullocks to replace the casualties of the army’s current stock of animals.13 However, higher ranking officers sent other breeds to the farm from Gujarat, Ongole, Mysore, and elsewhere. The numbers of both British and Indian staff at the farm were inadequate to enforce the segregation of animals that would permit a careful tracking of bloodlines, and visitors to the farm in the 1840s complained of the “mongrel” quality of bullock.14 Locals refused to buy unwanted farm stock, particularly smaller animals from southern India. Nevertheless, the farm was retained as a strategic reserve of bulls and bullocks through the early twentieth century, and ultimately took on the mission of producing a pure Hariana breed for sale and distribution.15 The foregoing discussion can open a wide range of avenues for further inquiry, and certainly the lines of inquiry in this essay could be extended further forward in time beyond 1845, given the opportunity to consult materials in the National Archives of India, the British Library, and elsewhere. At this stage, my main goal has been to use the history of an Fall 2013/Agora
institution to recover a history of animals. Inevitably, such a history must address the social, economic, and cultural concerns of humans, particularly when the animals involved are primarily domesticates. But in a historiographical landscape in which animals have been largely invisible, exposing the animals inhabiting the spaces between humans is a significant start. Notes 1. Ranajit Guha, “The Prose of Counter-Insurgency,” Subaltern Studies II, publication data. 2. Shail Mayaram.
3. Brian Caton, “Settling for the State,” Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2003. 4. David Arnold, Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993). This narrative also appears in the history of Indian women: see for example Lata Mani and Mrinalini Sinha.
5. For a discussion of the history of the company prior to 1765, see John Keay, and for Bengal specifically, see Sugata Bose. 6. Jos Gommans, “The Silent Frontier of South Asia, c. A. D. 1100-1800,” Journal of World History 9, no. 1 (Spring, 1998): 1-23.
7. Saurabh Mishra, “The Economics of Reproduction: Horsebreeding in early colonial India, 1790-1840,” Modern Asian Studies 46, no. 5 (2012): 1116-44.
10. Gommans, “The Silent Frontier,” and G. S. L. Devra, Environmental Crisis and Social Dismemberment in Northwest India during the Pre-Colonial Period, NMML Occasional Papers, History and Society, new series, no. 3 (New Delhi: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, 2012).
11. See NAI, Military Proceedings, 22 September 1826, No. 161 & 162, and also No. 445, Lt. Col. Wm. Casement, Secretary to Government, Military Department, to Secretary, Board of Superintendence of the Stud, 22 September 1826 (NAI, Military Proceedings, 22 September 1826, No. 163). 12. No. 87, Maj. J. D. Parsons, Deputy Commissary General, to Maj. W. Burlton, Commissary General, 29 Jan 1840 (NAI, Military Proceedings, 8 April 1840, No. 140 & 141).
13. Extract No. 1020, Maj. J. Lumsdaine, Deputy Commissary General, to Lt. Col. T. M. Weguelin, Commissary General, 30 March 1814 (NAI, Military Proceedings, 28 May 1814, No. 74 & 75). 14. No. 141, Military Board, to the Hon’ble W. W. Bird Esq., Governor-General of India in Council, 28 June 1844 (NAI, Military Proceedings, 9 August 1844, No. 177 &178). 15. W. S. Read, The Government Cattle Farm, Hissar: A History and Guide, rev. ed. (Lahore: Superintendent, Government Printing, Punjab, 1937).
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAPS
8. Of course the institution continued to exist well past this historical moment—it in fact still exists as part of the Haryana state government’s agriculture department—but I confine myself to the period for which I have been able to access the appropriate documents.
9. Horse breeding was partially eliminated in 1841; see No. 66, Lt. Col. J. Stuart, Secretary to Government of India, Military Department, to Military Board, 6 October 1841 (National Archives of India, Military Proceedings, 6 October 1841, No. 23). The remainder of horse operations seems to have been eliminated by 1844; see No. 344, Military Board, to the Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Hardinge, Governor-General of India in Council, 14 October 1844 (NAI, Military Proceedings, 29 November 1844, No. 160 & 161). For the creation of the inquiry, see No. 141, Military Board, to the Hon’ble W. W. Bird Esq., Governor-General of India in Council, 28 June 1844 (NAI, Military Proceedings, 9 August 1844, No. 177 &178).
Punjab, the Haryana region, the city of Hissar can be found on this detail map of India and Pakistan.
A War Waged in Daily Choices
David (Luther ’79) is currently a professor of English, whose interests in ecology make him an invaluable link between Luther’s English department and its Environmental Studies program. His project as Jones Distinguished Professor was to lead the faculty to explore the major questions and texts of that field. Faldet’s book, Oneota Flow (2009), was the summer reading for Luther’s first-year class in 2010. David’s fine talent as a visual artist combines with his literary scholarship in his work on the poet and designer William Morris.
assistant Cate Anderson, I began my sabbatical study. Though our work was disrupted by tragedy—Cate’s brother as a pedestrian was struck by a passing car, and, soon afterwards, three of my family members and a friend were victims in a horrible crash—we set out to survey the wider context for the Winnebago in the Removal Period, which began for the tribe in 1829 and ended in 1874. Cate, a history major, took notes Winnebago chief Wak’an (Wakon on materials about fron- haga Decorah), 1825, by James Otto tier theory, the economics Lewis (1799-1858). of the fur trade, and the changing Indian policy of the U.S. government. Until this project, Cate’s main research interest was colonial Africa. (Her home town, New Ulm, Minnesota, figures in Winnebago history because the tribe was living on a reservation in nearby Blue Earth when the Dakota War broke out in 1862.) Cate, new to Winnebago history, read the documents and scholarship with increasing shock, but she recognized patterns of violence and cultural chauvinism she knew from African history. The article that emerged from our research is a study of how Winnebago removal by the federal government functioned as a form of nineteenth-century ethnic cleansing: erasing people and their culture as widely accepted public policy. Two other articles should emerge from our work. The first will be a study of the way development of the Neutral Ground was a partly failed learning exercise of federal power. The second will look at reasons Indian trader Henry Mower Rice was later silent about his days on the Neutral Ground even though he encouraged research into of the lives of his Upper Midwest predecessors in the fur trade. My study made me question how the Winnebago were viewed by whites and how Winnebago viewed themselves during the Removal Period. One way to begin is to see that the Winnebago, under the U.S. Constitution, were considered “Indians not taxed.” This phrase described one category of persons not counted for representation in Congress. In 1868 the phrase reappeared in the Fourteenth Amendment, again as an exclusion. That amendment extended the equal protection of citizenship to ex-slaves, but not to “Indians not taxed.” Many tribes, including the Winnebago, fought with the
uring my 2012-13 sabbatical, in addition to redrafting a novel and writing three-dozen poems, I explored the nineteenth-century history of the Winnebago (the name of the treaty-abiding portion of the Ho-Chunk). I became interested in the Winnebago while researching the natural history of the Upper Iowa River basin. A chapter in my book Oneota Flow [see an excerpt of this book in the spring 2009 Agora] dealt with the tribe’s residency between 1840 and 1848 on the Upper Iowa River when it was part of what was called the Neutral Ground. No other chapter in the book dealt with such a narrow time sliver. And yet no chapter was harder to pull together. The Winnebago story was atypical in the Upper Iowa basin because unlike those who came after them, the tribe (whose traditional territory was between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River) was forced by the federal government to come to the Neutral Ground, briefly, and then leave, all under the watch of a fort posted with soldiers. In his widely embraced and influential frontier thesis of 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner described the American frontier as a liminal space where democracy is forged among equals new to each other and to the land. The Upper Iowa frontier occupied by the Winnebago was, on the contrary, a policed space, run under the dictates of federal bureaucracies through the work of soldiers, agents, and schoolmasters. Rather than respect the traditional governance of the Winnebago, federal government representatives wanted a head chief and underling chiefs with whom it could do business and distribute annuities as an extension of Washington bureaucracy. Finishing my sabbatical research in 2004, I was struck by the remarkable story of the Winnebago, and how lightly chronicled and analyzed it was in scholarly or popular literature. In summer 2012, with the help of Luther student
British against the U.S. in the War of 1812 and a number of Winnebago sided with Black Hawk in his campaign of 1832. In 1876, two years after the Winnebago were last removed, Lakota warriors completely wiped out General Custer’s forces at the Little Bighorn, dampening the nation’s centennial celebration. The years between 1812 and 1876 were as marked by conflict with Indians as they were by peace. When it came to the centennial of a new nation of immigrants and their descendants, “Indians not taxed” were inclined to scorn or mourn, not celebrate. Another way to understand the identity of the tribe is to recognize that in the mid-nineteenth century world of the Winnebago, whites commonly called themselves “civilized” and Indians “savages.” Whites owned and valued private property. Tribal Indians shared what they had communally and showed contempt for materialism. The distance between these worlds is illustrated well by “half-breeds,” who had one white and one Indian parent. When federal treaties were made with the Winnebago, as in 1837, the tribe received a large tract of land and promises of annual annuities to be shared among its communal members. However, half-breeds—like whites—were granted personal acreages. Unlike whites, half-breeds could sell their land only with authorization of the President or his representative. A book in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., labeled “Cancelled Winnebago Patents” illustrates the three worlds between which people were caught: Winnebago, white, and in-between. Among those listed in the book as selling their land were John Little Crow, Little Crow, and Red Legs (whose English names were Sidney Averill, James Averill, and Samuel Adams). Others were Good Red Bird Woman (Elizabeth Cox), and Lake House (Charles Chambers). Dual names suggest the split between the white and Indian worlds in which half-breeds and tribal Winnebago negotiated their lives. White officials had difficulty keeping clear the identities of their Indian charges. On one page, for instance, Newell Holton’s Indian name is corrected from Bear Woman to Bee Woman. In other documents pages are devoted to testimony trying to prove that a particular Indian with a traditional name is really the same person granted land under a white name. The gulf becomes clearer when noting the difficulty federal record keepers had phonetically recording names that stayed in the Winnebago language: the person named Queen of Thunder becomes Wah-cun-jah-unk-e-win-kaw. The latter feels different on the tongue than the former. The federal policy of Removal, which went in place under President Andrew Jackson, was not only about pushing the tribe beyond the frontier of land desired by whites. It also aimed at removing the “savage” from Winnebago before they became neighbors to whites. John Gibson, a trader with the Winnebago near the Long Prairie River in the Minnesota Territory, wrote in his account book that Waukon Decorah (a.k.a., Wakan haga Decorah, the chief whose names attached to Northeast Iowa towns) bought on Christmas Eve of 1854: calico, flannel, black powder, lead, an ax, two bars of soap, and a belt. For these he paid ten dollars in cash. But in February of 1853 Waukon Decorah paid part of his bill in trade: one bearskin, three otters, and six coon pelts. The Winnebago 26
world at mid-century was in transition from the barter of the old fur trade to a cash economy.
Winnebago removal by the federal government functioned as a form of nineteenth-century ethnic cleansing. A telling glimpse into intercultural life on the Winnebago Reserve is the pocket calendar of Charles Mix, federal agent to the Winnebago during part of their stay near Blue Earth. Mix’s daily entries in this small book (housed in the Minnesota Historical Society collection) show plenty of concern about horse stealing and associated justice. But entries also show twists provided by the local mix of whites, half-breeds, Winnebago, and their none-too-friendly neighbors, the Dakota. Mix’s interaction with the Winnebago, for example, meant ongoing tribal councils and ceremonies. What follows is a selection of Mix’s 1860 diary entries: Sun 22 April Clear & Cool Complaint made by Big Mouth Jim that James Pelky and an Indian had stolen horses and taken them to the Sioux.
Wed 23 May clear & warm Indians threatened to break open the jail. took whiskey from C Maloy Thurs 31 May clear & warm Indians danced for me gave them an ox
Mon 4 June cloudy & cool Indians held council … gave Indians for their council 3 [unreadable] & one ox—Indians invited me to attend council June 17 Little Thunder gave up Sioux pony
Friday 22 June morning Indians gave me a dance
Friday 20 July found that Indians had been dancing scalp dance with the Sioux, made them stop it
Wed 25 July had council with Indians about scalp. They promised to bring it in Sun 29 July Indian presented me with pipe
Tue July 31 held Council with Indians they informed me that Winnoshiek was the cause of the scalp not being brought in Fri 17 Aug Mr Buck & Birt came out … tried C Maloy & James Pelky and found them guilty
Friday 5 Oct Grand Jury Indicted Malary and Pelky Sat 6 Oct Jury disagreed in Pelky’s case
Tue 9 Oct C Malary and Pelky had their trials, and was found guilty Wed 10 Oct Malary and Pelky sentenced by the judge to six months imprisonment
Whether Maloy and Malary were the same man, I may never know. The incident of the scalp dance to which Mix
they [the petitioning half-breeds] have long since adopted the habits and customs of civilized life— that being anxious to retain their civilization and through fear of relapsing into barbarianism they declined to remove with the Winnebago who have recently gone to their new reservation.
J. P. Usher, a Secretary in Department of Interior, replied: The parties asking the distribution of their annuities in Minnesota have become so far civilized as to justify their remaining in that state, and taking upon themselves the duties of citizens, they cannot, if they remain in the State, expect to be treated by the Department as Indians. All has been done for them by the Government that they had a right to expect, viz: their education and civilization to the extent to qualify them for citizenship. If they desire still to be considered Winnebagoes, they must unite with their tribe at their new home and share their perils as well as their fortunes.
When this reply was penned in September 1863, to “share their perils” meant to leave their homes and farms and travel to a drought-stricken section of Dakota Territory where they would get little to eat except a soup made of flour, entrails, and half-rotten beef. In the period during which the Winnebago were “removed” to the Upper Iowa basin, to be “Indian” meant to expect threats and punishment alongside the meager help extended by a government for which you did not vote and to which you paid no taxes. To be “white” meant the right to be considered eligible for citizenship and the protection of friendly officials.
ROBERT N. DENNIS COLLECTION...VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
objected demonstrates the U.S. government’s desire to end Indian hostility and assimilate Indians out of those customs least palatable to white settlers. Agents often labeled Indians who favored acculturation “good” and the traditionalists like “Winnoshiek,” who through acts like the scalp dance resisted pressure to assimilate to white culture, “bad.” These documents reveal a war being waged between white law, religion, language, economics, and authority on the one hand and traditional Winnebago life on the other. The war was fought not with guns and swords, but in daily choices made on the reservation, in Congress, and in the offices of federal bureaucrats. During the time period of my study, the pressure of white settler colonialism shifted the Winnebago ten times, usually against their will, onto smaller reserves or new territory far removed from the places they had lived. The most brutal of these removals was their 1863 forced displacement to Crow Creek in the Dakota Territory. What property the Winnebago had was taken from them. They were hauled by river as prisoners to their new home, a place where crops failed and the federal government failed to provide adequate food, clothing, or shelter. In the months that followed hundreds died. Most survivors made dugout canoes and escaped down the Missouri River to beg for help on the reservations of related tribes, including the Omaha and Ioway. Consider an exchange between the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and a group of half-breed Indians who petitioned to keep the acreages awarded to them near Blue Earth when the full-blooded tribal members were moved away in 1863. It illustrates the racism and the gulf that divided white from Indian in this time. In their request the half-breeds made the mistake of asking for their share of tribal annuities. Their lawyer wrote:
Stereoscopic photo from 1863 of Winneshiek (second from left) and Wakon haga Decorah (second from right) imprisoned at Fort Snelling after the Dakota War.
he text that follows below is adapted from a blog I maintained to chart the progress of my sabbatical project, “Talking Trees,” a sound installation that debuted at Seed Savers Exchange in May 2013. More information and documents can be found at brookejoyce.com.
Brooke came to Luther in 2005 and is an associate professor of music and composer-in-residence. He teaches courses including contemporary music history, theory, electronic music, and composition. Among his numerous compostitions, a CD of his chamber music, Waves of Stone, was released on the Innova label in 2009. He is the recipient of the Joseph Bearns Prize, the Wayne Peterson Prize, by the Darius Milhaud Award, and many citations from the National Federation of Music BROOKE JOYCE Clubs and ASCAP. 28
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Prelude I first met Harvey Sollberger at the June in Buffalo new music festival in 2000. I was a participating composer and Harvey was one of the master class teachers. I remember his kind and supportive demeanor, as well as his insightful comments and vast musical knowledge. About nine years passed without further contact, and then at a concert in Cedar Rapids, I reconnected with Harvey, who had recently retired from his position at the University of California-San Diego and was living in Strawberry Point, Iowa. As we conversed, Harvey mentioned a long-term goal of building an outdoor sound installation on his property. I mentioned my own interest in sound installations, but neither of us pursued anything concrete. When it came time for me to submit a sabbatical proposal for the spring of 2013, it seemed that a project with Harvey would make a good collaboration. As we began to consider potential venues, Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah came immediately to mind. On a whim, we visited the property in early spring, 2012. We were guided to Shannon Carmody, who coordinates public programs on the farm. Within a few minutes, she had agreed to allow our project to happen on the Seed Savers property, so long as Harvey and I would be responsible for doing the “heavy lifting.” With a site and general time frame in place, “Talking Trees” began to take shape. The last piece of the puzzle was securing funding, which would mainly allow us to purchase audio gear. Within a few days of partnering with Seed Savers, we submitted a grant proposal to the Iowa Arts Council, and later in the summer, we learned that we had been funded in the amount of $4800. Harvey Sollberger and Brooke Joyce.
Recording the Soundscape As our project was scheduled to happen during the month of May in 2013, we decided it would be good for us to get a sense of the soundscape of Seed Savers in late spring. We planned to use sounds collected from the installation site as the primary material for our piece. With a portable TASCAM recorder in hand, we set out on a late May evening in 2012 and again the following morning to walk the site and record sounds.
Microprocessors Computers are getting smaller and smaller by the minute. For our project, we needed both small size and small power consumption. My initial thought was to use an mp3 playertype device, or perhaps a smart phone. We needed something which can play back audio (easy), could run a simple script that determines what gets played when (possible, depending on the device), and could detect weather conditions (possible, but which can require Wi-Fi or cell phone reception). After considering price, functionality and other factors, we decided to move away from manufactured devices and instead considered something closer to a DIY solution. We learned about a new device, the Raspberry Pi: #2, which is slightly larger than a credit card. It runs a Linuxbased operating system, which is loaded on an SD card. And this is the main difference between it and a laptop or desktop computer—it has no hard drive. The unit is powered through a standard 5V phone charger, or, you can power it through the USB port on a computer. There are undoubtedly other devices that could work for this project, but with such a low price ($35) and flexible architecture, the Raspberry Pi proved to be a good solution for our project. And now for some music After a hiatus in January 2013, I began working more or less full-time on this project. I had a wonderful interview with Sara Friedl-Putnam, who wrote a piece on “Talking Trees” for Inspire(d) magazine, a regional arts monthly [it is in the spring 2013 issue]. One of her observations was, that based on her perusal of my blog, it appeared that this project was all about technology and not so much about music. Subsequently I attempted to temper that imbalance. Essentially, there are four main sound sources I hear on the recordings we made: birds (lots and lots of them), water (from rain and a stream), frogs, and insects. These suggested a structure, so I tinkered with the frog and insect sounds. As it turns out, both the frogs and the fly resonate at a pitch that hovers around C, so it wasn’t tough to find some nice harmonic drones buried in the texture. Designing the Structures Local artist Kelly Ludeking agreed to design and build the structures (four in total) that housed the audio units. They
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One of the big challenges we laid out for ourselves was the site location, a remote corner of the Seed Savers farm that is without electricity. From the beginning, we planned to use a combination of batteries and, we hoped, solar power. On the advice of several consultants, we started the research and development stage by searching for the right speakers. As one might expect, there are only a handful of weatherproof speaker types that require a minimal amount of power. One variety is the “patio speaker,” often disguised as a rock or a planter. Another is the motorcycle speaker, designed to mount on the handlebars and run off the vehicle’s battery. We purchased three models of these speakers, all by Pyle, and after some testing and measuring with a multimeter, we settled on 50W speakers (Pyle PLMCA 10).
Children from Kinderhaus in Decorah listen for “cool sounds.” were three-legged structures that connected with a single plate, about ten feet high, with articulations in the legs to mimic tree branches. I also met with Jim Edrington, the facilities manager at Seed Savers, and tentatively located four sites on the Valley Trail for the installation. I was not sure if we should clump the four units together, so that they interact, or space them along the trail, so that they would be like little way stations.
One tripod done! By the end of March, the remarkable Kelly Ludeking had built the first of four tripods (trees). He worked on fabricating a metal box on one of the feet that holds the battery and electronics. I don’t think I mentioned this previously, but in my search for a cheap, watertight box that could be used to store the electronics, I stumbled upon the ammo can. It’s basically the size of a tackle box, easily secured and supposedly watertight. I wasn’t sure if these things have been used to house small electronics before, but there you have it. After wiring everything together, Bruce Larson (my electronics consultant) and I discovered a nasty ground loop. Once that problem was been fixed, we were ready to erect one tripod, complete with battery, electronics and speakers. The main goal was to see how the battery and solar panel worked. First tripod, first audience April 15, 2013 was an important day for “Talking Trees:” we erected one tripod, complete with electronics, battery and solar panel at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Decorah. We took our first photos of the finished structure and we had our first audience experience the installation outdoors, with the full complement of four speakers. It was timed to operate from 8 am to 8 pm. After two days of operation, I was pleased to discover that the battery read 13.24 volts, a healthy full charge. I introduced the installation to a group of eager pre-school children who attend Kinderhaus at Good Shepherd. Being the kind of town that Decorah is, many of them have been to Seed Savers, many have solar panels and deep cycle batteries at home, and one even knew what a multimeter was! Fall 2013/Agora
LUTHER COLLEGE PHOTO BUREAU
Installation at Seed Savers With the aid of Harvey and two Luther students (Kim Osberg and Neil Quillen), we set out on Sunday, April 28, 2013 to Seed Savers in hopes of erecting the installation that afternoon. After about 2.5 hours, we were able to get one tripod up and running. The next day, armed with a better sense of what needed to happen, I worked on the other three tripods myself for about seven hours, completing as much as I could on my own, and then Kim and Neil came back in the evening to help me put on the legs and feet. The following day (April 30), I put the finishing touches on the installation, and the piece was officially ready for visitors. It’s a good thing that we got the piece up and running prior to May first, because that’s when the weather took a dive. We had snow on May second and third, which didn’t affect Snow falls in May 2013 on a Talking Tree at Seed Savers. the installation so much, although it Notes about the Talking Trees Project did make people think twice about venturing out on the trail. Structural Design by Kelly Ludeking But May 4 came along, and after a somewhat chilly start, the Technical assistance from Bruce Larson (electronics), Dennis day turned out to be just beautiful, with sun and temperatures Pottratz (solar panel), and Steve Smith (programming) in the high sixties. Several hundred folks came out to Seed Savers to buy rare plants, see Val Miller’s wonderful cow Technical Information: portraits, and listen to Talking Trees. Sound Device: Raspberry Pi, running Linux Software: Pure Data Postscript Solar Panel: SunWize 55W Talking Trees remained operational at Seed Savers through Battery: Dura-Start Deep Cycle Marine Battery mid-June. A series of heavy rains and floods damaged three Speakers: Pyle PLMCA20 Motorcycle Speakers of the four units (just the electronics were damaged, not the structures themselves), but replacement parts were easy to Funding: obtain. On August 26, three of the tripods were installed on Iowa Arts Council the Luther campus between Olin and the CFL. New sounds, Luther College gathered from different corners of the campus, were used to Seed Savers Exchange create the sounds that one heard in the installation—in this iteration of the project, the sound sources were birds, crickets Special Thanks: and frogs. The installation operated through Parents Weekend. Chris Belz, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Ryan Gjerde, It was wonderful to engage members of the community in Sasha Griffin, Hugh Livingston, Benji Nichols, Brandon conversation around the piece. We hope to find future homes Schmidt, and Dan Trueman for the installation in the region.
Knowing This Place and This Life for the First Time
We shall not cease from exploration, And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. T. S. Eliot, The Four Quartets
t has been interesting to return to campus after a year away. One of the more amusing things that has continued to crop up—usually included after the speaker has made reference to something that happened during our sabbatical—is the remark, “Oh yeah, you were gone!” Yes. Yes, we were gone for a year, and missed many things that took place in Decorah during our absence—but we have returned much the richer, as I’ll share with you in these pages. As I look back on this year of exploration—of my physics research and of life, by living an odd, differently-paced life in a place that was simultaneously familiar, but not home—I realize that I have gained new appreciation both for what I do in research, for the academic life we enjoy here at Luther, for the sweetness and poignancy of life in general, and have come home knowing this place “for the first time.” I spent my sabbatical as a Visiting Research Fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL), a large, multidisciplinary laboratory in Richland, Washington, located on a beautiful stretch of the Columbia River. While this sabbatical would prove beneficial in myriad ways, it was a surprise find. My wife Heather and I had long assumed that we’d be headed to either Fermilab, near Chicago, or to Cornell University, where we had connections thanks to graduate school and my postdoctoral work, but pickings at both places were slim. Out of the blue, the opportunity at PNNL suddenly materialized. In June, 2010, PNNL had hired David Asner, a friend and colleague from our days together at Cornell, to start an by
TODD K. PEDLAR
Todd earned his PhD in physics in 1999 at Northwestern University, first teaching at Luther in 2003 after engaging in postdoctoral research at Cornell and Ohio State. He is currently an associate professor, teaching a range of courses including classical physics, quantum mechanics, particle and nuclear physics. He also teaches in the Paideia Program and is actively engaged in interdisciplinary teaching and programming. His many professional publications include several co-authored by some of his Luther students.
elementary particle physics group at the lab. David’s group is engaged in several experiments around the world, including the lab’s flagship particle physics efforts Belle and Belle II, which are conducted at KEK, the national High Energy Physics Laboratory in Japan. In late July, 2010, while I was considering various sabbatical options, David contacted me with an invitation to join Belle and Belle II and to do a sabbatical at PNNL. I didn’t need much prodding, for the physics prospects for these experiments were outstanding. It’s well worth noting the unique opportunity that this phone call represented—beyond the excellent physics prospects it entailed. David knew that I was from the Pacific Northwest, so he had an idea that the sabbatical at PNNL would be attractive, since family would be close by. What he didn’t know was how close. My parents were six hours away— but Richland, PNNL’s location, is my wife’s hometown and her parents still lived there. David also didn’t know that Heather’s dad had been suffering for several years with COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, nor could he have known that while we were there, he would die after a long, difficult struggle. During the first half of this personally trying year, we all—me, my wife, my children, my mother-in-law—had to say the “long good bye” to Dad/Grandpa/husband Marv. So frequently today, the death of a close relative is something that is remote from us—we moderns have successfully hidden it, either behind closed doors, or separated from us by vast distances. This past year, we came face to face with it—but for that, my whole family is thankful. When thinking about all the circumstances of this sabbatical—the unexpected initiation of a particle physics program at PNNL, to their hiring of a friend to lead the effort, to the chance to join Belle, to the timing of my father-in-law’s death—it all seems to us that it could not have been more right. It seemed to be no coincidence but rather a gift. We had personally experienced, four times over, the joy of the beginning of life with the births of our four daughters— never, however, had we experienced personally the end of life of any close relative. I am especially thankful that our girls were able to be there for it. It wasn’t pretty, but we were there at the right time, to be able to serve my in-laws, to grieve with them, and to emerge into the light of life again afterward. We were there for Heather to be able to bury her father, because it was simply meant to be. I suppose at this juncture it is appropriate to describe some of the work that I did while at PNNL. Prior to our arrival in Richland, I had been engaged with my PNNL colleagues for about eighteen months, so I was able to hit the ground running. The object of our study was (and is) the system known Fall 2013/Agora
as bottomonium, which is a system composed of a bottom quark and its antiquark partner, mutually bound in orbit—very much like the proton and electron in the hydrogen atom, or, for that matter, like the Earth and the Moon. The system of hydrogen is governed by the electromagnetic force—an interaction that is certainly in the realm of common experience, as anyone who has shuffled across a carpet in Decorah on a cold January morning and touched a brass doorknob can readily attest. The Earth and the Moon are bound by their mutual gravitational attraction, a force which, again, is no secret to anyone who has fallen out of her chair. The force which binds bottomonium, however, is one of the other two fundamental forces in nature—the strong nuclear interaction, which is the dominant force at the 10-15 m distance scales characteristic of nuclei or of the separation of the constituents that make up protons and neutrons, the quarks. Unlike gravitation and the electromagnetic interaction, the strong nuclear interaction is relatively poorly known in quantitative terms. We are still determining the parameters that characterize this interaction, and we do this by assembling the simplest possible structures whose dynamics are governed by it. These structures are called quarkonia: states composed of a single quark and a single anti-quark (the quark’s antimatter partner). For such a system, a number of different bound states arise—and these states have different masses, whose values shed light on the nature of the strong interaction. The bottomonium system was relatively well known prior to our joining Belle, but three important states, while predicted to exist, had never been observed. In principle I suppose this would normally be no great tragedy in the grand scheme of things, but these particular states held under lock and key, as it were, a particular bit of information about the strong interaction that they alone could reveal: an aspect of the strong interaction analogous to the magnetic portion of electromagnetism. Without knowing states’ masses, we were essentially in the dark regarding this aspect of the strong interaction. Given the data we knew that Belle had, and a technique we had devised for our previous experiment at Cornell, we took an apocryphal page out of Sir Edmund Hillary’s book and simply climbed the mountain that nature provided us.1 A schematic of the bottomonium system is shown in Figure 1. At Belle, we produce these states by colliding beams of electrons and positrons, which annihilate and, if the total energy of the beams is equal to the mass of one of the bottomonium states (specifically those labeled ϒ(nS) in the spectrum), then that state may be produced. Other states may also be studied through decays of the ϒ(nS) states (but this article doesn’t allow the space to discuss this). Using the Belle data that had been collected during the previous decade, my PNNL colleagues and I ultimately were able to make the world’s first observation of all three missing states. In Figure 2 is displayed the evidence we obtained for two of these three states, the hb(1P) and hb(2P), from a paper published in early 2012.2 We also published evidence during my sabbatical for the third, the ƞb(2S), in another paper.3 These two papers represent substantial improvements in the understanding of bottomonium—and the underlying strong interaction. In addition to these papers, my sabbatical year 32
Figure 1. The Bottomonium Spectrum. Each horizontal line represents a different member of the system. In the work briefly described in this article, we discovered three of these states, the hb(1P), hb(2P) and ƞb(1S). The diagonal arrows indicate transitions that we observed from the hb states to another by emission of a photon. The vertical axis indicates the mass of observed states. To give a sense of the mass scale, the mass of a carbon atom is only a little bit bigger than the top end of this scale.
offered me the opportunity to write a pair of review articles summarizing recent experimental results in bottomonium physics.4,5 In terms of my scholarly work in research, this was, a very productive year. As a research advisor, the ability I had to have Luther student Jon Zarling with me at PNNL during summer 2012 and J-Term 2013, and to encourage him en route to graduate work in particle physics, it was invaluable. Perhaps, however, one of the more helpful aspects of this year away was the change the pace of life, and the time it gave me to slow down and reflect on my research, my teaching and indeed all that I do at Luther. While away, I relished the time that I had to reflect on Luther, and my appreciation for this place. One element of my work here that I pondered a great deal is my teaching in Paideia—which I have come to value greatly. My perspective on my vocation as a professor was deeply shaped by own experience at Whitman College, in Walla Walla, WA—and a key aspect of my experience there was their similar first-year core program. Faculty from across the campus taught in it—among them was Craig Gunsul, a physics professor who became a true mentor and friend to me. Craig was instrumental in leading me down the dark path toward becoming a faculty member in physics at a liberal arts college. I am certain that the die was cast for my future calling by Craig’s mentoring and my own liberal arts experience at Whitman.
While away, too, I realized particularly how much I had grown to love the ebb and flow of life at Luther, which, for Paideia faculty, is often driven by that course. And, in case you’re wondering, yes I did do a little dance when mid-September 2012 and the first Paideia paper deadline came and went. The break from that grading load was certainly something I appreciated—but at the same time, I missed that part of my teaching life.
of living beings, of inanimate geological objects that grace the Oneota Valley, and of stars that decorate the night sky. The fact that I am able to invite students to join me on a journey of discovery that yields such beautiful results and new understanding is one of the best things I have come to appreciate in my life as an academic at Luther. If I can pass on the sense of wonder at the world through this avenue, and encourage students to embrace a similar sense of wonder in Paideia when reading the Plato, Douglass, Shelley, or Dante as we think through themes and ideas while discussing those works—then I am doing well, and opening the doors my own professors opened for me twentyfive years ago. That is my hope—more solidly than ever grounded thanks to this sabbatical year of exploration and reflection. I often tell my friends who work elsewhere in academia, or in other lines of work, that I feel extremely fortunate to do what I do. The comFigure 2. Evidence for several states of the bottomonium spectrum in the Belle bination of teaching and research, Experiment, including the world’s first evidence for the states labelled hb(1P) and conducted at an institution dedicated hb(2P).2 On the x-axis is plotted the mass of the state produced, and the labels to that brand of education we call “liberal arts,” and one that seeks to correspond to the labeling in Figure 1. educate students according to all their In that course, in a particular way—parallel, not orfaculties, with a view to them as whole persons—located in thogonal, to my experience in physics—we who teach have a vibrant small town surrounded by gorgeous physical landan opportunity to help our students exercise their thinking scapes—is one that very few are blessed with. This is what we muscles in new and exciting ways. For many, deeper thinking have at Luther. We are home again—and, having been away, about “big picture” ideas, and discussion of the human condihave come to know it for the first time. 6 tion is brand new; and to watch as that vista opens up before them is something I have come to cherish about Paideia. I missed it—and am very pleased to be back in Decorah to Notes take up that mantle again. Seeking to learn—aiming to find 1. Sir Edmund Hillary famously is reported to have said, “Because goodness, beauty and truth—in both research and teachit was there,” when asked why he and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Noring, in both physics and in Paideia. That is what I return to gay climbed Mount Everest. This incident is widely regarded today as Luther hoping to do, hoping as well to help students learn apocryphal (though it makes a good story). to love learning. 2. I. Adachi et al. (Belle Collaboration), “First Observation of the In closing I must say, if I dare, that there is a simple but P-Wave Spin-Singlet Bottomonium States hb(1P) and hb(2P)”, Physical profound beauty in the physical structures we study in my Review Letters 108:032001 (2012). research—a character that is truly aesthetically pleasing to the 3. R. Mizuk et al. (Belle Collaboration), “Evidence for the ηb(2S) one teasing out the details. One of the things I particularly and Observation of hb(1P)→ ηb(1S) γ and hb(2P)→ηb(1S)γ”, Physical appreciate about the research I do is the window it opens on Review Letters 109:232002 (2012). simple structures, created in the laboratory, that help us un4. C. Patrignani, T. K. Pedlar and J. L. Rosner, “Recent Results in derstand the much more complex naturally-occurring variety Bottomonium,” Annual Reviews of Nuclear and Particle Science, Volume 63, pp. 21-70, 2013. of structures around us. The fundamental laws of physics that govern bottomonium are the same principles which ultimately 5. C. Oswald and T. K. Pedlar, “The Belle ϒ(5S) Data Sample give rise to the various nuclei in the heart of atoms that popuSheds New Light on Bs Physics and Bottomonium Spectroscopy,” to be published in Modern Physics Letters A, 2014. late the periodic table and make up everything we see in the universe. The questions we can answer by probing the simpler 6. I would like to express my sincere thanks to President Torgerson, systems of quarkonia give us keen insight into the nuclear Dean Kraus, and the Board of Regents of Luther College for that opportunity—and to Peter Scholl for the ability to share these reflections structure of various isotopes—and the interplay of nuclei of with the readers of Agora. various isotopes in turn is related to the structure and features
Improvisation, Time, and Vocation
Gregory Peterson (Luther ’83) joined the Luther faculty in 2005 and is currently an associate professor and College Organist, teaching applied organ and church music. He is the head of the music department. He also serves as cantor to the student congregation, and he conducts the Luther Ringers, which he founded in 2008. He holds the MM degree from Yale University in the Institute of Sacred Music and the DMA in organ performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa.
of my previously improvised hymn preludes, so as to prepare the manuscripts for possible publication. Improvisation, the art of performing music spontaneously, is a time-honored tradition, especially for liturgical organ playing and in jazz. Liturgical organ improvisation is, in fact, an outgrowth of the Lutheran Reformation’s emphasis on congre- Westminster Presbyterian Church, Mingational singing. In neapolis. Paul T. Granlund’s “The Birth the days of Bach of Freedom” is in the foreground. and Handel, for example, it was expected that a trained organist auditioning for a Lutheran church position would be skilled at improvising hymn preludes as well fugues and other genres. Throughout history improvisations have been written down and revised, becoming compositions. A large body of repertoire both historic and modern exists for the church organist because of this process. With the explosion of new hymn tunes in the latter half of the twentieth century and the continual renewal of hymn resources for congregational use, there is a constant need for new improvisations and compositions based on hymn tunes. Thus the art of improvising is finding its way back into the study and practice of organ playing, especially in the United States, where for many years it was not a regular part of the curriculum. There is a term for this genre dating from the 1920s attributed to the German/American composer Paul Hindemith: Gebrauchsmusik—meaning “music for use,” as opposed to lengthy concert works. It is that. But it can also be much more. While preparing for my first Sunday at Westminster Church on February 24, the Senior Minister asked if I could improvise something to move from a period of silence into the hymn following the sermon. During the season of Lent he wanted the congregation to reflect on the Word through the practice of silent contemplation. This was a new concept for his flock and he thought it would be better to ease them out of the silence, building up to the singing of the hymn rather than jarring everyone with a typical big blast from the organ.
hen I took my first sabbatical (from another institution) I received some sage advice from a colleague: don’t schedule too much. Easier said than done! Reflecting upon my spring 2013 semester sabbatical I realize how important this concept is. Time is a gift and in its truest sense, sabbatical is Sabbath with its interplay of creative work, travel, and rest. Part of not scheduling too much, however, also allows for the possibility that plans might evolve. And so it was at the beginning of February, while attending a concert of downtown church choirs at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, that I found myself agreeing to take on some professional work that ended up enhancing my project and renewing my sense of vocation as an organist and professor of church music. A colleague, the Minister of Music and the Arts/Organist at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis needed to take emergency family leave and I was asked by an acquaintance who sings in Westminster’s choir, if I knew of anybody who might be able to fill in. Perhaps I was just clearing my throat, but the words “Well … I’m on sabbatical” passed my lips and the rest, as they say, is history. Thus it was that I began a longterm subbing arrangement in this large, vibrant downtown congregation known for its monthly Town Hall Forum, broadcast live on Minnesota Public Radio. This church is strongly reminiscent of my former employer, the Old South Church in Boston where I served as Minister of Music and Organist from 1997 to 2005, and so it was a bit like getting back on a bicycle after a long hiatus. My planned sabbatical project concerned improvisation at the organ in a liturgical context, which I have studied, practiced and dabbled in over many years. In addition to spending more time practicing this skill, I also intended as a part of the project the reworking and entering into notation software some
Improvisation in a liturgical context! It fed right into what I was thinking about and gave me some creative space to put it immediately into practice. What was created for that moment was an introduction to the chosen hymn “How Firm a Foundation,” building up gradually from the deepest tones of the organ and incorporating the “Kyrie eleison,” sung at the beginning of the service, in a quodlibet, a quasi-musical conversation between the congregant’s plea for mercy and the sure reliance on God’s grace. The improvisation becomes, then, not only a musical medley but also theological commentary. And through the process a transformation can take place between organist, as leader of the people’s song, and the people: a kindof evocation resulting in trust. Congregations and organists need to trust each other! Usually this occurs after many years of singing together. But somehow that Sunday morning, we developed trust with each other quickly. Improvisation, though it is a skill that is practiced, is also about vulnerability. The organist is taking some creative risk and asking the congregation to come along. After all, the music is not written down! At its best, the improvisation prepares the assembly for singing, not only the notes and the rhythms, but with some understanding of the text or at least a glimpse at its essence. Throughout my remaining Sundays at Westminster, I created several improvisations for various points in the liturgy, which came to be increasingly appreciated by the congregation. I enjoyed thinking about how to set the context for praise or prayer and presenting both transcendent literature from the masters in preludes and postludes and improvised or newly composed settings of the hymns in each service. It gave me a focus that I really needed. This became a prelude for work that I took on later in the spring at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in midtown Minneapolis. I was given practice privileges there and agreed to fill-in on several Sundays when Mount Olive’s Cantor and Organist needed to be away, including the Festival of Pentecost on May 19. Mount Olive is an intentionally liturgical community that values high church music with a long history of excellent and well-known organist-improvisers, namely the late Paul Manz. I appreciated being able to sit in the pew for midweek Lenten services experiencing the improvisations and vigorous hymn singing as led by the current Cantor and Organist David Cherwien, for which he is renowned. As I practiced for each individual Sunday service, I also appreciated having the time needed to adequately prepare to lead the people’s song at Mount Olive as every service includes several hymns with an expectation of creative presentation, a psalm and the customary liturgical responses. And so improvising and crafting music became faster and more prolific than what I had expected during the sabbatical and it was both challenging and rewarding. With a project goal of transcribing ten of my previous improvisations into a form that would make them ready for publication, eight were completed on the following tunes all in current use: Atkinson (O God of Light), Grosser Gott (Holy God, We Praise Your Name—four variations), Liebster Jesu
(Dearest Jesus, At Your Word), and Sine Nomine (For All the Saints). With several new ones created as a result of the church playing that I took on, three more were added: Alles ist an Gottes Segen (Praise the Lord, Rise Up Rejoicing), Lauda Anima (Praise My Soul), and Woodlands (The Risen Christ). In order to do this, I needed to become more proficient at notation software. Fortunately, a Luther parent, Paul Gerike, who is a professional music engraver in the Twin Cities, offered to help me gain skill in Finale with some one-on-one training sessions. As he also works in church music, we found that we had a lot to talk about and so those sessions were very engaging and fun in ways I would not have expected. Again, time became a gift here for extended conversation, learning and putting it all into practice. A part of the sabbatical also involved travel. Three students from the class of 2012 are pursuing graduate degrees in organ in top programs: Samuel Holmberg at the Eastman School of the University of Rochester, Samuel Libra at the University of Washington, and John Stender at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. It was a goal to see each of these most recent former students in their respective settings as well as to visit the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where Zachary Klobnak, ’07, is pursuing a doctoral degree in organ performance. It was refreshing and enlightening to sit in on classes (including one on improvisation), hear recitals, and to visit with graduate school faculty—a great way to gain perspective on how to prepare undergraduates for the demands of graduate study. It was also a lot fun, although exhausting keeping up with the many late-night repasts! There was ample opportunity to attend concerts of sacred music including complete performances of Olivier Messiaen’s La Nativite du Seigneur and J. S. Bach’s Mass in b minor; hearing the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, the National Lutheran Choir’s hymn festival and several noted organists from across the country, including Jeanette Fishell (Indiana University), John Scott (St. Thomas Church in the City of New York), and Carole Terry (University of Washington Seattle) among others. In addition, I performed an all-Bach recital on the “Bach’s Lunch” series at Wartburg College in February and was a judge for the student competition of the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Guild of Organists in April. Lastly, having dedicated time to practice organ literature has allowed me to prepare a faculty recital for the fall [September 22, 2013] that will also be presented in several venues off campus including Boston, Kansas City and Minneapolis later this year. I return to Luther, my organ studio, and playing in chapel renewed in my vocation with fresh ideas for the teaching of improvisation as well as the practice of it in my day-to-day work as College Organist. I also have several written-down improvisations ready to send to a publisher with high hopes that they will be interesting and useful for other organists and teachers. I am grateful for the support and encouragement that Luther College gives to its faculty through the continuing commitment to the sabbatical program. Soli Deo Gloria!
Reciprocity in Study Abroad
Deep Partnerships In contemporary higher education in the United States there is an enormous emphasis on creating “global citizens”—women and men who are well equipped to navigate and contribute to a world where economic, sociocultural, and geopolitical boundaries are increasingly blurred. Post-secondary institutions market the features that they claim enhance their effectiveness in producing global citizens. Among those features, study abroad programs are perhaps the most prominent. In their promotional materials and in conversations on campuses, academic institutions emphasize how study abroad benefits their students. Yet how often do we see colleges and universities making the claim that their international programs also create opportunities for citizens of the host countries? To what extent is some form of two-way exchange a feature of the programs that we promote as shaping responsible, ethical citizens of an increasingly interconnected world? There is little evidence to suggest that U.S. institutions of higher learning have been intentional about ensuring that both guests and hosts derive benefits from the study abroad experience. One exception to this generalization is Bard College in New York. The Bard Institute for International Liberal by
LORI A. STANLEY
Stanley (Luther ’80) earned her PhD in anthropology at the University of MissouriColumbia. Her first job at Luther was teaching Spanish in 1984. Currently Lori is a professor of anthropology, teaching and researching subjects including Maasai culture, Native American cultures and languages, and archaeology of the Midwest and Plains. She served as Luther’s Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Development from 20072012 and was honored as the Dennis M. Jones Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities.
n this essay I explore the nature of the guest-host relationship in study abroad programs. I share how my thinking about such relationships has evolved over the past two decades and describe efforts to engage in collaborative projects that yield benefits for Luther students and host communities alike. Finally, I explain how my recent sabbatical experience has enabled me to further the goal of developing a mutually beneficial and long-lasting relationship between Luther College faculty and students on the one hand, and individual, community, and organizational partners in Tanzania on the other.
Georgianna Whiteley and Rachel Hodapp with research team member Musa Kamaika. July 2011, Eluwai village. Education emphasizes “mutuality and equality” in their relationships with partner universities in Russia and South Africa. The Institute’s founding director, Susan Gillespie, refers to these relationships as “deep partnerships.” In a recent article describing these partnerships, Gillespie and her colleagues claim that “if we aspire to act as global citizens, we and our institutions must take conscious responsibility for the nature of these interactions—explicit or implicit…. [W]e need to take seriously the project of creating international partnerships, and to apply our very best thinking to the partnerships we create. In seeking to realize new forms of international education, institutions are themselves acting as global citizens—good ones and bad ones. If we wish to make the world a better place, we should strive to model the ethical standards that we seek to impart to our students, and that must ultimately characterize meaningful global citizenship” (Gillespie 2009:506-507). Gillespie’s piece captures my own thinking about study abroad as it has evolved over the years. When I led my first January Term program to the South Asian kingdom of Nepal in 1992, I was focused first and foremost on what a great learning opportunity it was for my students, and secondarily on how the experience could enhance my teaching of courses in anthropology. It was not until after my third trip to Nepal in 1995 that I began to feel uneasy about how much my students and I had gained from those programs in comparison to the residents of the two remote Himalayan villages that hosted our groups. Shortly thereafter I approached village leaders about projects we could plan together that would yield broad and sustained benefits for community members. Unfortunately,
in 2001 Nepal’s political situation became unstable and the college made the decision to suspend the program due to safety risks. As a result I had no opportunity to expand the recently initiated community-based projects that I believe would have inched us forward on the path toward mutuality and equality as described by Gillespie. To this day I regret that lost opportunity. In 2002 I turned my attention to another part of the world and co-taught a January Term course in the East African country of Tanzania. From the start I hoped to find ways to create meaningful partnerships with Tanzanian communities, NGOs, or other organizations. Because I had no previous experience in Tanzania, however, it took some time for relationships to develop and opportunities for establishing deep partnerships to reveal themselves. To date I have led ten January Term programs in Tanzania, where I teach a course focused on the forces of culture change impacting Maasai livestock herders living near the border with Kenya. An important component of this program has been cultural immersion in Maasai bomas—the multi-family homesteads widely scattered across the bush country of northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. Since 2005 our groups have been hosted by families in the rural Maasai communities of Eluwai and Mbarangati. The residents of the two bomas where we stay have been generous hosts and enthusiastic and patient teachers, willing to share their vast cultural and environmental knowledge with my students and me. As relationships with the people of Eluwai and Mbarangati developed, I found many opportunities to build reciprocity into the program. Some of the projects were small, impacting few people, but in important ways. In other cases an entire community benefitted. The most satisfying experiences for everyone involved were those that entailed Luther students and faculty working alongside community members to achieve goals identified by the Maasai. For example, in 2010 and 2011 we partnered with the people of Mbarangati, a Christian community, to begin construction on a church near their boma. In the first year we built the foundation, and in the second we produced enough hand-pressed concrete blocks to begin work on the walls. I recently learned that the walls have now been completed, and by the time of our next visit in January 2014 the metal roof should be in place. I look forward to joining the community for a Sunday service and shared meal in the church that Luther students and faculty helped to build. At our other host community, Eluwai, our most significant collaborative effort to date grew out of the vision of one young Maasai man named Leboy Oltimbau. Leboy is a member of the male age-set that constitutes the current generation of warriors. These days warriors spend less time guarding their livestock, raiding other people’s cattle, and hunting lions with spears than they did a generation ago, but they are still looked up to as the protectors of the community, the herds, and the Maasai way of life. The entire society depends on them to keep people and animals safe, and to help maintain their distinctive identity. Leboy is keenly aware that his culture is changing. Some of those changes he embraces—for example the formal educa-
tion that has better prepared him to become a leader among his people, and the cell phones and computers that facilitate communication in a country where few areas outside the major cities have land lines, and where travel from place to place is still mostly on foot. Leboy loves books just as he loves his cattle, and he navigates the internet with as much ease as he navigates the complex network of footpaths connecting the bomas, grazing areas, water sources, and sacred sites of Maasailand. But whereas Leboy welcomes some changes in the Maasai way of life, there are others that he laments. Among them is the loss of certain forms of traditional knowledge, and in particular knowledge of the medicines that Maasai have long used to treat ailments ranging from joint pains and stomach problems to pneumonia, malaria, and sexually transmitted diseases.
… is some form of two-way exchange a feature of the programs that we promote as shaping responsible, ethical citizens…? In the past this medicinal knowledge was transmitted from generation to generation through the traditional system of education. Children learned about medicines from their parents, older siblings, and other members of the community as they went about their day-to-day activities and when they received intensive instruction during elaborate rites of passage to adulthood. Since the colonial era and in particular in recent decades, changes in the social, economic, religious, and educational aspects of Maasai life have resulted in a decline in this body of knowledge. One key factor in this shift has been the emphasis on Western biomedicine on the part of physicians, missionaries, and educators. Another is the lack of opportunity to learn from elders and through practical experience since Maasai youth began spending their formative years attending boarding school. In most cases these schools are located far from the bearers of traditional knowledge and the natural environments in which Maasai medicinal plants are commonly found. The disruption in the transmission of knowledge about Maasai medicine has had unfortunate consequences. Younger Maasai in particular are more dependent on medical clinics and Western biomedicine, which in many cases they cannot afford. When using traditional medicine Maasai are now experiencing increased risk due to incomplete information about medicinal plants, their preparation, and dosages. As more and more Maasai use pharmaceuticals prescribed by physicians, sometimes alongside traditional medicines, the risk of drug interactions, even death, has increased (Dr. Steven Friberg, personal communication, January 2010). And in economic terms the Maasai are losing out on development opportunities that could arise from carefully negotiated agreements with pharmaceutical prospectors, or from the direct sale of these medicines and other products made from medicinal plants. Recognizing the consequences of the loss of medicinal knowledge, Leboy came to me about four years ago to ask if Fall 2013/Agora
I could help him to preserve what is being lost. He said that he had learned a great deal from his father and other elders about medicinal plants and the medicines they could produce, and he knew many older Maasai people who had extensive knowledge of traditional medicines. He had access to the knowledge that was disappearing, but he did not have the means for recording it, compiling it, and preserving it for future generations. That, he said, is where Luther College could help. He was certain that we had the training, the experience, and the resources to assists him in realizing his dream of preserving Maasai medicinal knowledge for his people. That conversation took place at the end of the January 2010 study abroad program. By June, two students from that program— Sylvie Hall and Kia Johnson—were on their way back to Tanzania to work with Leboy and another young Maasai named Musa Leboy Oltimbau with Kia Johnson (dark hair) and Sylvie Hall work with Leboy OltKamaika to initiate the Maasai Medicine imbau to identify and photograph medicinal plants. Summer 2010, Eluwai village. Project. That summer Sylvie, Kia, Leboy, During my spring 2013 visit to Tanzania I was able to and Musa made huge strides in identifying medicinal plants address the goal of deepening and broadening our partnership and documenting their preparation and prescribed uses. The with Maasai in the northern districts of the country. A few following summer Rachel Hodapp and Georgianna Whiteley, months earlier I had been approached by Leboy Oltimbau two participants from the 2011 January Term program, exabout serving as a steering committee member and U.S. liaison panded on the 2010 research in partnership with Leboy and for a non-governmental organization that he was working to Musa. They also helped to explore possibilities for launching establish. Leboy’s vision was to create an organization that an income generating project that would produce soap and would benefit Maasai women and children in his home district massage oils made from the essential oils of medicinal plants. through education and economic development, and to that In summer 2012 Jeffrey Emerson, a participant in the 2011 end he spent more than a year establishing the Esarunoto January Term program, was involved in further investigating Emaa Foundation (EEF). the production and sale of products containing the oils of When I arrived in Tanzania in late January, I met with medicinal plants. Among the many outcomes of these colLeboy and other steering committee members to discuss EEF laborative efforts, perhaps the most important was a detailed goals and review progress made thus far. EEF had already and fully illustrated guide to Maasai medicinal plants compiled established a preschool that was providing more than 40 from the field data collected during the first two years of the young children with the kind of preparation they needed to project (Hall et al. 2010; Whiteley et al. 2011). In January be successful in the Tanzanian public school system. The big2011 Luther students delivered forty copies of the first edigest educational barrier for rural Maasai children is a result of tion of the medicinal plant guide to Maasai elders and to the the fact that most grow up in Maa-speaking homes and have rural secondary school at Eluwai for use in their Indigenous little or no exposure to either Swahili, the national language Knowledge Curriculum. The following January we presented and language of instruction in government primary schools, the school and local elders with an equal number of copies of or English, the language of instruction for all secondary and the revised and expanded edition of the booklet. 1 post-secondary education. The EEF preschool helps to address this problem by offering early instruction in both Swahili and English. The school also prepares children for Standard Sabbatical Goals, Activities, and Outcomes 1 (first grade) instruction in mathematics, reading, and other One of the objectives for my 2012-13 sabbatical leave was to subjects; works on developing social skills; incorporates physiexplore new means of furthering the deep partnership that is cal education into the curriculum; and provides meals that developing between Luther College and the Maasai commuhelp to ensure the children’s nutritional needs are being met. nities that have enriched our learning and warmed our hearts The school has been operating in a rented space not with new friendships. Beyond that, I proposed to explore ideally suited for the purpose, and one of EEF’s top prioripossibilities for including other Luther faculty, and possibly ties has been to build a new campus in a central location staff, in what I envision as an ongoing multi-disciplinary and within the widely scattered Maasai community north of the multi-faceted program in Maasailand. Finally, I planned to town of Mto Wa Mbu. Prior to my visit the local people initiate a conversation on the Luther College campus about had expressed some willingness to donate fifty hectares of deep partnerships and guest-host reciprocity in study abroad. 38
village land for construction of the school, a women’s economic development center, and other EEF project facilities, but when I arrived in Tanzania no official agreement had yet been reached. For several weeks early this year EEF committee members and other supporters, myself included, held planning meetings, discussed strategy, and explained the goals and anticipated benefits of the project at public hearings. Together we carefully reviewed the steps for acquiring the land for the project, and we researched the detailed process for getting the EEF designated as a registered NGO with the legal right to own land. For most, if not all of us, this was unfamiliar territory, and often we were unsure about the best way to proceed. But by combining our knowledge and skills—and patiently attending meeting after meeting—we achieved success. Before I returned to the U.S. in March, the community at Mto Wa Georgianna Whiteley and Rachel Hodapp interview a local elder from Eluwai village Mbu signed over ten hectares of land with while secondary school students look on. July 2011. the promise of designating up to forty adTerm program. Subsequently he and I decided to co-teach ditional hectares for project use once the school is built and a course focused on complex issues surrounding competing funding for the women’s center and other facilities has been land use interests, economic development, tourism, wildlife secured. A few weeks later EEF was officially registered as conservation, and environmental preservation and degradation an NGO. in northern Tanzania. We have spent the past year planning One of my responsibilities during this period was to the course titled People and Parks: Pastoralism and Conservation document through photographs and video the EEF project in East Africa, and during my spring semester trip to Tanzania goals already achieved, activities involved in the land acquisiI was able to work out details of the course content, program tion process, the proposed location of the new school facility, itinerary, and logistics. Brad and I also participated in the and the people involved in the various aspects of the project. June 2013 on-campus workshop on integrating sustainability The photographs will illustrate fundraising materials and lointo the curriculum. That event and our ongoing discussions cal publicity about the project. Some of the still images and with other workshop participants this fall have deepened our video clips have already been used by EEF Global Liaison thinking about issues of sustainability in Tanzania and resulted Bradford Zak in developing the project website: <http:// in enhancements to the course. www.harmonyproject.info/ecwd/Home.html> Working with Brad to develop the new Paideia 450 Currently the EEF committee is working toward finalcourse and meeting with colleagues from the sustainability izing a budget for the school construction project, hiring a workshop have enabled me to engage in discussion with builder, and preparing the site for construction. It is my hope others at Luther about give-and-take in study abroad, the that when the next Luther College study abroad group visits third sabbatical leave goal outlined above. Furthermore, in the school in January 2014, the Maasai children and their late May 2013 I facilitated a faculty workshop titled “Guestteacher, Adela Masawe, will be gathering in their new facility. Host Reciprocity in Study Abroad.” Workshop participants As the time draws near we will be in communication with included colleagues from anthropology, biology, chemistry, Leboy and other committee members about ways that visienvironmental studies, modern languages, philosophy, the tors from Luther can contribute to the school’s educational Center for Global Learning, and the Dean’s Office. Together mission, now and in the future. we explored the ethical, pedagogical, and practical dimensions The upcoming 2014 January Term program, another of reciprocity in international education. The conversation left outcome of my sabbatical leave, will further the express goal me more aware of the practical challenges of trying to build of broadening opportunities for students, faculty, and staff reciprocity into every Luther College study abroad course, but to get involved in community-based learning in Tanzania. I also came away encouraged by the fact that others planned For many years I have taught the January Term course as to give this matter serious consideration in planning their own an anthropology and Africana studies offering. For the first programs. I now look forward to involving more faculty, staff, time in 2014 it will be a Paideia 450 course, co-taught with and students in what I hope will be an ongoing conversation chemistry professor Brad Chamberlain. Brad was a collaboabout guest-host reciprocity and deep partnerships in Luther’s rator on the summer 2011 Maasai Medicine Project, and he international programs. then accompanied me and my group on the 2012 January
1. Funding for the summer research projects was provided by Luther College through the following: Student/Faculty Summer Collaborative Research Grants (2010, 2011, 2012), Center for Ethics and Public Life (2010, 2011), Ludvigsen Research Fellowship (2012), Nena Amundson Wellness Grant (2010), Dean’s Office Faculty Research Grants (2010, 2011, 2012), Honors Program Grants (2010, 2011), Anthropology Program (2010, 2011). External support for summer research and conference presentations was awarded by the R.J. McElroy Trust Student/Faculty Research Fund (2011) and the Council on Undergraduate Research (2010, 2011). Production of both editions of the guide to medicinal plants was sponsored by Bear Creek Archeology, Inc.
I am grateful for the awards and grants provided by Luther College in generous support of this and other components of my 2012-13 sabbatical project. The research and professional development activities undertaken during the course of my leave were made possible by a Doris and Ragnvald Ylvisaker Endowment for Faculty Growth Award, a Faculty Sabbatical Award, a Paideia Endowment Sabbatical Leave Supplemental Grant, and a Dean’s Office Faculty Research
Grant. I also wish to thank former Director of Study Abroad and Professor Emeritus Mark Lund for introducing me to the peoples and cultures of Nepal and Tanzania, and for his encouragement and support of my forays in study abroad over the past twenty-two years. References Gillespie, Susan H. 2008 Creating Deep Partnerships with Institutions Abroad: Bard College as Global Citizen. In The Handbook of Practice and Research in Study Abroad: Higher Education and the Quest for Global Citizenship. Ross Lewin, ed. Pp. 506-526. Association of American Colleges and Universities. New York: Routledge.
Hall, Sylvie, Kia Johnson, Musa Kamaika, and Leboy Oltimbau 2010 Maasai Traditional Knowledge About Medicinal Plants. Unpublished report. Maasai Medicine Project, Luther College, Decorah, IA.
Whiteley, Georgianna, Rachel Hodapp, Sylvie Hall, Kia Johnson, Musa Kamaika, and Leboy Oltimbau 2011 Maasai Traditional Knowledge About Medicinal Plants, revised and expanded edition. Unpublished report. Maasai Medicine Project, Luther College, Decorah, IA.
Students Georgianna Whiteley ’13 and Rachel Hodapp ’13 and author Lori Stanley during an interview session with Maasai women from Eluwai village. July 2011.
The Text and Its Time: Cosas añejas (Old Things)
osas añejas is a representative work of nineteenthcentury Dominican literature, a masterpiece by César Nicolás Penson. Research in the National Archives of the Dominican Republic, mostly comprised of books, newspapers and magazines, helped me to rebuild the political, economic, social, historical and cultural contexts of the year in which this book was published, and to gather information about its author’s life. This research also illuminates the way a reading of Cosas añejas can further understanding of topics like Hispanophilia and anti-Haitianism as discussed by Dominican intellectuals.
I. About the Author At a young age, César Nicolás Penson (born January 22, 1855 in Santo Domingo) became interested in journalism and literature. On July 3, 1875 he founded a short-lived newspaper, La Idea. In 1879 he began working as editor of the newspaper El Eco de la Opinión, where he served during different stages of life. In 1880 he published a humorous-satirical newspaper. With the founding of a four-page newspaper El Telegrama on August 7, 1882, of ephemeral existence, Penson is considered the pioneer of daily publications in the Dominican Republic. In addition, he contributed to major magazines, local newspapers, and foreign journals of his time. In 1898, the Havana, Cuba newspaper El Fígaro appointed him as correspondent in the Dominican Republic. Penson maintained a very active presence in Dominican society, participating in many of its civic groups and literary societies. He wrote poetry, literary criticism, and published translations from French, Portuguese and Italian, as well as research on linguistics and folklore. He practiced law and held various roles in the judiciary. On April 29, 1880, he married Francisca Antonia Rodríguez Montaño, by
Rita Tejada is an associate professor of Spanish who first taught at Luther in 1996 after graduate study at Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in Santiago, Dominican Republic. She earned her PhD in Spanish at Florida State University and is the author of many professional publications as well as articles for non-specialist readers. She is the winner of the Dominican Republic National Book Award 2006-2007, literary essay category. Tejada teaches courses on topics including Caribbean literature, Latin American literature and film, and women’s issues.
Front cover of Penson’s Cosas añejas, first edition, 1891. who bore him sixteen children. César Nicolás Penson died in 1901.
II. Cosas añejas in Dominican literature Cosas añejas is considered the first text of Dominican narratives “composed entirely in prose” (Henríquez Ureña, 16). In its structure, Penson’s work is compared to Tradiciones peruanas by Ricardo Palma, and both texts are inscribed in a type of writing that emerged during the nineteenth century that seeks to “rescue” the past and traditions of criollo societies in Latin America. Cosas añejas consists of eleven stories classified into “traditions” and episodes.1 Except for the story “Barriga Verde,” each tradition is split into two or more chapters. The book is complemented with the “Writer’s Notes,” where Penson provides explanations of various kinds for each story: definitions; Fall 2013/Agora
explanation of proverbs, idioms and customs; interpretation book (four parts distributed in installments), its cost ($1.50, of zoological, botanical and geographical terms; genealogical paid in cash), and where to buy it (the writer’s home). On and historical comments on the monuments and streets of the April 12, in the same newspaper, a brief note announces the city of Santo Domingo; philosophical digressions; some verses first two installments have sold out (700 copies). alluding to the tradition “Los tres que echaron a Pedro entre Cosas añejas was published during the dictatorship of Ulises el pozo”; and a copy of the sentence to the alleged murderers Heureaux (Lilís), who was “elected” for a third consecutive time of “Las vírgenes de Galindo.” on February 27, 1889. During this period, General Heureaux Penson claims that all the characters in his stories expaid special attention to foreign relations. In the year under isted, although some exhibit exaggerated traits that he, in review (1891), Lilís signed a trade agreement with the Unites turn, interprets and idealizes, giving States. In theory, it would negotiate vivid physical descriptions, psychologithe leasing of Samaná Bay, in the cal and moral developments: “The kid northwest of the Dominican Rewas… a rosebud, very white, rosy, blue public. The July visit of an American eyes, blonde hair, thin nose, round face warship caused a popular uproar. and plump. He seemed intelligent … ” Infuriated, Heureaux published a (38, description of Barriga Verde); “He declaration in which he denied the was a man of medium height, thick, existence of offers for sale or lease of extremely white complexion, round face, the bay. In addition, the dictator was with grey hair, more or less of fifty-six forced to rescind the treaty with the to fifty-eight years old ... his character, United States, giving in to the presif not rebellious, at least was pretty bad, sure of European nations opposed to so he always had disputes and garnered such treaty, arguing that it infringed many conflicts …” (62, description of their interests. Padre Canales). Newspapers from 1891 are The writer constantly refers to good sources to understand the political events that happened at the political, economic, social, historical time or mentions prominent figures and cultural contexts of late nineof Dominican society to remind the teenth century in the Dominican reader of the veracity of his narrative. Republic. For example, on June The environment in which the stories 4, El Teléfono editorialized about occurred is faithfully recreated, as the the arrival from France of the first author spares no mention of streets in national coin that Lilís had sent to Santo Domingo and buildings of the mint. This coin of low-grade silver seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth Engraving of César Nicolás Penson. Published in (which was fundamentally copper) centuries. He includes magnificent El Lápiz, December 6, 1891. would end up ruining many and descriptions of period houses and their discrediting Lilís’ government. Unfurnishings, typical meals, customs, and detailed accounts of der the slogan of “Peace, Order and Progress,” the Dominican fashion and religious practices of Dominican society. Republic tried to incorporate the advances of the time. In El Teléfono from May 10, on page two, a notice calling upon inhabitants of Santo Domingo advise them to subscribe to III. Cosas añejas’ Historical Context the aqueduct: “great progress that we should all support.” The Under the title of Cosas Añejas, Tradiciones y Episodios de editorial of this newspaper, dated October 11, encourages the Santo Domingo the work was reviewed in the newspaper El government to pay public employees salaries overdue from Teléfono on March 8, 1891. On that day, this four-page newsSeptember of 1890 to May of 1891! paper features a cover showing big hardware advertisements: “The Big Lock,” venders of “Portland cement in barrels IV. Philosophical Context: Ideas and Conflicts and kegs of a bushel,” ads for the Canadian Life Insurance company “The Sun,” and for oil “Luz de Diamante.” Also The stories in Cosas añejas cover topics that were commonoffering their services, José Joaquín Pérez, lawyer; Federico place from seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century Hohlt, representative of the German Bank; Alberto Gauliterature: honor, corruption, rags to riches plots, politics, and treau, surgeon; and Federico Giraudi, piano teacher. The crimes. Reading Dominican newspapers, history books, and arrival of twelve “harmoniums” to the Bazar of the Aybar literary texts from the nineteenth century we come across the Brothers is also advertised. On page two, El Teléfono presents topic of anti-Haitianism. In 1891, the Dominican government an editorial entitled “El Mensaje,” in which it comments on maintained a constant struggle with the Haitian government the message issued by the ruler at the time, Ulises Heureaux, in all spheres (political, economic, social). On May 18, on commemorating the twenty-seventh of February, Dominican page three, El Teléfono features the article “Siempre los misIndependence Day. mos” (“Always the same”), a critique of Haitians, who—says An advertisement published in El Teléfono May 15, 1891 this newspaper—are “clinging to the concerns of race, only provides valuable information on the original format of this understand the concept of civilization in their own peculiar 42
way.” Another news release reads: “Haiti is delighted with its revolutions and its disorders, … and blood flows like beer in a wedding reception. Let’s celebrate!” This news coverage, in ironic tone, portrayed Haitians as inferior, ignorant and prone to violence. As a regular contributor to Dominican newspapers César Nicolas Penson was not immune to these influences. The anti-Haitian sentiment, encouraged at official levels and promoted in the press, can also be found in Cosas añejas: “An old manor house, battered by the Haitian savagery…” (“Drama horrendo,” 5);2 “There you will find vices, crimes, scandals and uproar, flavored with lots of brandy; but above all, superstitious practices and the traditional witchcraft which among mañeses3 falls somewhere between sacramental and national; plus nauseating dwellings and wild dances” (“Las vírgenes de Galindo,” 226). “¡Profanación!” and “El santo y la colmena” are two stories in which Penson describes daring and sacrilegious attitudes as characteristics of the Haitian people, aspects that he highlights in the tradition of “Las vírgenes de Galindo.” When the bodies of the three girls brutally murdered are found, Penson writes: “Natural compassion was joined by concentrated anger, in the belief that the perpetrators were Haitians because the unerring instinct of the people had identified one, two or more among them” (257). “Las vírgenes de Galindo” is based on a poem of the same name written by Dominican writer and politician Félix María del Monte. Published in 1885, del Monte’s poem offers a fictional interpretation of a real life event that moved the Dominican society at the beginning of the nineteenth century: the killing of the Andújar family, a father and his three daughters of eleven, six, and two years old respectively; this happened in Galindo, an area located on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, on May 29, 1822. Notwithstanding, reading both texts today it is clear that del Monte and Penson manipulated historical reality to exacerbate anti-Haitian resentment. In addition to anti-Haitianism, Penson exalts feelings of affiliation to Spain, the Motherland. In the story “¡Profanación!” the Haitian brothers Alcioux and Altidor Ponthieux and their friends celebrate a picnic in the ruins of the Monastery of San Francisco, while mocking the place’s symbolism. Penson condemns their behavior, which he interprets as a desecration against Santo Domingo’s Spanish ancestry (87). Dominican intellectuals wrestle with the ideology that Penson pours into his work. Joaquín Balaguer (writing in the 1940s) identifies with the note of Hispanophilia in Penson’s work and even suggests the writer is a protector of Dominican nationality and territoriality (86-87). José Alcántara Almánzar, on the other hand (writing in the 1980s), bluntly criticizes his anti-Haitianism: “In Cosas Añejas Penson insists not only on the brutal character of the Haitian Occupation,4 but on the danger the black presence in the east of the island represents to Dominicans: because of its inferiority, its savagery, its lack of positive human values” (14). Accuracy in describing the way of life and thinking of the inhabitants of Santo Domingo, from colonial times to the nineteenth century, makes Cosas añejas a reference source beyond the literary. Rebuilding the space-time framework in which this literary work originated through history books,
magazines and newspapers of the period helps to understand the ideological level that pervades Cesar Nicolas Penson’s book. Thus, the accusation of Hispanophilia aimed at Penson could be associated with nostalgia for the century itself, by which the past was better, as I find no explicit worship towards the Spanish, at least during the year to which this research is restricted (1891). My research did, however, corroborate the anti-Haitian sentiment in the book. This feeling corresponds to the way of thinking during Penson’s time. Anti-Haitianism emerges from the reading of 1891 newspapers, in tune with ideas of territoriality and safeguarding of the country’s pride at a time of conflicts between the two countries. More than one hundred years have elapsed since the circumstances that influenced the writing of Cosas añejas and yet the similarity between the discourses of nineteenth-century and the twenty-first century Dominican press and intellectuals suggests the need to keep under constant scrutiny the topic of anti-Haitianism and question its validity as a recurring theme in Dominican society. Notes 1. Traditions: “Drama horrendo” (“Harrowing Drama,”) “Barriga Verde” (“Green Belly,”) “La muerte del Padre Canales” (“Death of Priest Canales,”) “El martirio por la honra,” (“Martyrdom for Honor,”) “Los tres que echaron a Pedro entre el pozo” (“The Three Who Threw Peter Into The Well,”) “Muerte por muerte” (“Death by Death,”) and “Las vírgenes de Galindo” (“The Virgins of Galindo;”) and episodes: “Bajo cabello” (“The Sandbank,”) “El santo y la colmena,” (“The Saint and the Beehive,”) “Entre dos miedos,” (“Between Two Fears,”) and “¡Profanación!” (“Profanation!”) 2. Citations from César Nicolás Penson. Cosas Añejas. Tradiciones y episodios de Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo: Impr. Quisqueya, 1891. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://books.google.com/books/about/ Cosasa%C3%B1ejas.html?id=j5APAAAAYAAJ> 3. Mañeses is derogatory term used in the Dominican Republic to refer to Haitian citizens.
4. The colony of Santo Domingo was occupied by Haiti in 1822. The country of the Dominican Republic was proclaimed on February 27, 1844 when the inhabitants of Santo Domingo won independence from Haiti.
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Amiama, Manuel A. El periodismo en la República Dominicana: notas para la historia crítico-narrativa del periodismo nacional desde sus orígenes. Santo Domingo: Talleres Tipográficos La Nación, 1933. Print.
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Gándara y Navarro, José de la. Anexión y guerra de Santo Domingo. T. I. Madrid: Imprenta del Correo Militar, 1884. Print.
García, José Gabriel. Compendio de la historia de Santo Domingo. Vol. 1. Santo Domingo: Imprenta García Hermanos, 1893. Print. García Peña, Lorgia. “Black Monsters and White Virgins: A Narration of the Dominican Nation.” Dominicanidad in contra(diction): Marginality, Migration and the Narration of a Dominican National Identity. Ann Arbor: UMI Dissertation Publishing, 2011. 18-46. Print.
Guerra Sánchez, Antonio José Ignacio. “Toponimia y genealogía: Galindo o Barrio Mejoramiento Social.” n.d. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.idg.org.do/capsulas/marzo2007/marzo200717. htm> Henríquez Ureña, Max. Veinte cuentos de autores dominicanos. Santo Domingo: CEDIBIL, 1995. Print.
Hoetink, Harry. El pueblo dominicano. 1850-1900. Apuntes para su sociología histórica. Santiago, Dominican Republic: UCMM, 1972. Print.
Letras y Ciencias. (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) 1892-1897. Print. Llorens, Vicente. Antología de la poesía dominicana 1844-1944. Sociedad Dominicana de Bibliófilos. 2nd ed. Santo Domingo: Alfa y Omega, 1984. Print. Lugo Lovatón, Ramón. César Nicolás Penson. Ciudad Trujillo: Montalvo, 1952. Print.
Jiménez Benítez, Adolfo. Historia de las revistas literarias en las Antillas: Cuba, Puerto Rico y República Dominicana. Estados Unidos de América: Xlibris, 2008. Print.
Monte, Félix María del. Las vírgenes de Galindo, ó, La invasión de los haitianos sobre la parte española de la isla de Santo Domingo el 19 de febrero de 1822: leyenda histórica en verso. Santo Domingo: Impr. de García Hermanos, 1885. Web. 8 April 2013. <http://pds.lib. harvard.edu/pds/view/31791955?n=5&imagesize= 1200&jp2Res =.25&printThumbnails=no> Moya Pons, Frank. Manual de Historia Dominicana. Santiago, Dominican Republic: UCMM, 1977. Print.
Palma, Ricardo. radiciones peruanas. Buenos Aires: Espasa-Calpe, 1943. Print.
Patín Maceo, Antonio. Dominicanismos. Ciudad Trujillo: Librería Dominicana, 1947. Print. Peguero, Valentina y Santos, Danilo de los. Visión General de la Historia Dominicana. Santiago: UCMM, 1972. Print.
Penson, César Nicolás. Cosas Añejas. Tradiciones y episodios de Santo Domingo. Prólogo por Manuel de Jesús Galván. Santo Domingo: Impr. Quisqueya, 1891. Web. 2 May 2013. <http:// books.google.com/books/about/Cosasa%C3%B1ejas. html?id=j5APAAAAYAAJ>
----. Cosas Añejas. Edición conmemorativa del cincuentenario de su muerte: 1901-1951. Ciudad Trujillo: Impresora Dominicana, 1951. Print.
----. Cosas añejas. Prólogo por José Alcántara Almánzar. 3rd ed. Santo Domingo: Taller, 1974. Print.
----. Cosas añejas. Tradiciones y episodios de Santo Domingo. Prólogo y notas por Juan Daniel Balcácer. Santo Domingo: Corripio, 1997. Print. Penson, Gustavo. “Licenciado César Nicolás Penson (rasgos biográficos)”. La Nación (Santo Domingo, República Dominicana), August 16, 19, 1940. Print.
Rodríguez Demorizi, Emilio. Del vocabulario dominicano. Santo Domingo: Taller, 1983. Print.
Vallejo, Catherine. “Política y raza: La cuestión haitiana, las vírgenes de Galindo, de Félix María del Monte , 1885, y de César NicolásPenson, 1891.” Las madres de la patria y las bellas mentiras. Miami: Universal, 1999. 189-204. Print. Welles, Sumner. La viña de Naboth. Vol. I. Santo Domingo: Taller, 1975. Print.
The Humility Wheel: Acceptance and Art
The following is an excerpt from a nonfiction manuscript-in-progress called “The Hands-On Life: How to Wake Yourself Up and Save The World.”
n our Alabama childhood, my sister and I were crafty girls. Hunkered next to a little creek that filled up only when it rained, we’d pry slick, jagged chunks of clay out of the side of the bank and work them into pots: pat them round and drop the centers with our thumbs, or roll long coils and wind them up in a way nobody’s ever had to be taught. Sometimes we pressed pebbles into them, jeweling them like goblets for queens; sometimes the drying clay gripped the jewel and sometimes it loosened to drop the stone like a tooth. As with drawings, as with paper dolls, as with pokeberries crushed and painted on our fingernails, we could never be sure what our materials would do. Thirty years later I took a real pottery class for the first time. On sabbatical, I sat at my wheel in Luther’s Center for the Arts in rolled-up jeans and T-shirt: I’m here to learn, I told the other students, just like you. As a writer, writing teacher, and Iyengar yoga student, I thought I’d learned the truths of doing and making: don’t expect perfection, don’t overthink, concentrate, and let the material take shape in front of you, going back to bend or trim it. Use your body to listen and adjust. Take another run at it. Change takes place over time, sometimes a lot of time. Any amount of forward motion, in the place where you are now, counts as progress, and that’s okay. That’s reality. But it’s easier to hold these ideas when you’re not also learning something new. Shucking off my professor identity felt so easy in this new classroom, where I was just a student. But then bad student habits filled in that place. I congratulated myself on accepting the fingermarks along the bottom of my handbuilt bowl, smoothed the breast of my little bird figure, hoping for our teacher, George Lowe, to pause at my workspace and praise me—this is the best! I stayed late on by
Amy earned her PhD at the University of North Carolina and came to Luther in 2004, where she is currently an associate professor of English. She teaches in the Paideia Program, and offers a range of literature and creative writing courses. Her essays, short fiction and reviews have appeared in a long list of newspapers, journals, and magazines, both national and local. Amy’s personal essay “The Odd Girls: Flannery O’Connor and Me,” was co-winner of Shenandoah’s Bevel Summers Award and the Carter Prize for the Essay in 2010.
the first day to throw what turned out to be a nice, chunky little vessel somewhere between a pitcher and a bowl, with a plump bottom and insouciant poked-out lip. Next stop—I congratulated myself—would be mastery! Yet by the end of the second day I was stuck. Over and over I centered the clay on the wheel and pressed my thumbs down and watched dumbly as the clay wobbled and the sides unfurled. I cussed. I took another run at it. But the more I thought about how to drop the notch of my thumb and finger along the rim, how to pull up the spinning clay, how to fetch more water on my fingers without tugging the nascent shape out of line, the less I could do anything. I clenched my foot to the pedal. “Maybe ease up on the gas a little,” George offered. But by then the pot was too far gone, thrown out of line by my own anxious speed. The frustration lingered, biting deep for the rest of the day. Wheels: martyrdom, torture. No wonder. I have a $%^*g PhD and I can’t do this? And then more disappointments came to roost. A man I’d been hoping would call me did not. A friend’s words deepened my disappointment in a now-ex boyfriend. And on the morning of my thirty-eighth birthday, at the beginning of my sabbatical, a package dropped onto my porch: my novel manuscript had been returned, with the kindest and most encouraging letter any writer could hope for from the editor I’d been working with over two incarnations of this draft. I have to comment again on your marvelous writing, she wrote, your amazing sense of rhythm in your sentences, the palpable feel of this place. But still—she said no. Four years of work, come to what felt in that moment like nothing. That afternoon, trying to put the novel out of my mind, I drove to a nineteenth-century Lutheran church at the edge of a cornfield to read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 in the wedding of two of my dearest former Luther students, Linnea and Chris. Wind tossed the wildflowers in the ditches. Their friends played guitar and handed out programs. Standing at the altar I looked down into Linnea’s eyes, and Chris’s eyes, trying hard not to cry. Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments… All the loud hurt in my blood receded. I thought about the times I’ve come close to standing at that altar myself, the hopes I still have for love like what I saw in this couple’s eyes, the strength of the love of parents and sisters and brothers and friends, the way the world twists and turns around you as you move through your twenties and into your thirties, the way my plans have and have not worked out, the fact that I would not go backwards by even five minutes, the way my writing has broken my heart and brought me back to it over and over, the gratefulness I feel for every single year. Grateful? I am. As bewildering as it can be. As hard as Fall 2013/Agora
Ceramics by Amy Weldon
the surfaces of disappointment can feel when you are pressed against them, with what feels like nothing else to touch. As keenly as emotion bites into you, wry and sweet and deep and wrenching, in ways you are glad to have known and in ways that cause incredible pain. I am grateful. The next day, I wrote a letter to an agent, asking if he would like to read my novel. Then I biked to school and centered and threw my first successful bowls: thick-walled, crude-bottomed, wobbly, but recognizable. When I set them in the window to dry, I noticed they were accidentally right —three sizes all in a line, all slanting up and to the right. Ascending bowls. Hollow vessels, equally exposed, inside and out. But always leaning up. I kept working and got better. The vessel walls got thinner, the shapes more centered and even. But increasingly, there was no self-congratulation, only equanimity: only the desire for hands in clay, a need to let it absorb from my skin what it wanted and throw back its stored light. Because clay is stored light, energy held deep in the particulate scales that are broken and released into new shapes by your own working hands. I just wanted to sit at that wheel and let my hands see if they could feel a shape before my mind knew what it was. And again and again, they did. They only wanted to touch this material and see what was there. I could sit down and make something that never existed before. And amazingly often, the less I plotted and diagrammed in advance, the better the finished piece would be. And the better my failures were, too. Lifting one of the drying bowls to paint it with red oxide powder, I snapped a chunk out of the rim. But it was all right. I dropped the bowl in the scrap-clay bin, to be recycled at the end of the semester. There will always be more to come along behind the broken, the rejected, the disappointing ones. There will always be more. And everything in your life changes when you recognize this fact. I wrote in an online essay about all of this. Then, in a fourpage handwritten letter, another former student, Danielle, told me how much my words had meant to her. My ideas about emotion and humility and whatever the next thing is were helping her as she waited out post-graduation blues, working a hometown job, trying to keep on writing in the mornings and the afternoons. Danielle wrote two different novel drafts under my supervision and completely restructured each one. She’s persistent. She took from me advice that—I know, because I got it too—is hard to hear: it isn’t working, break it down and build it up again, from the beginning. She will be a writer. She wants it that much. Telling this story reminds me how small our efforts to control any stories can be, because their formation—like the formation of our selves and lives—depends on the accidental, serendipitous, awkward, stressful, or graceful interventions of other people, more than we admit, not so much on that illusion, our own control. My students think I am stronger and wiser than I know I am. In front of my class, my six-foot-tall body projects an image of confidence and presence the women in particular say inspires them. It’s too easy to get caught up in the notion that perfection is possible, and desirable. That’s why I have to show them, and myself, my failures, hesitancies, and vulnerabilities, lest we all believe that story. I’m no writer and
no writing teacher if not immersed in craft, trying and failing and moving forward any amount. I’m no teacher if I am not being humbled, rewired into a combination of beginner’sand experienced-traveler’s-mind, all the time: reminded that I’m really just another writer on the path, with these people alongside me. The reminders come from these other people, and things, and creatures, and colors of sky, and conflicts, and doubts. They come from the ways I encounter what isn’t me, and the fact that I am in the world with, responsible to and talking to, all of it. Craft comes from this way too. The practice of hands in material rewires the body, and the body and the brain learn to listen to something besides themselves. They learn to be responsible to reality. It will or will not crack, gel, bend, or break. It is or isn’t there. You can or can’t make it what you wish it was. Paying attention, in body and mind, means letting reality nudge your internal clamorings and agendas aside so that you can hear it, feel it, and see it speak—literally letting the physical world, in the words of French poet Francis Ponge, “disarrange” you. “Ponge advocated a manner of regarding the world’s constituents,” says writer Trebbe Johnson, “not as inferiors that we must somehow corral for our use and understanding, but as equals capable of startling us with the marvel of their particular selfhood.” This is the simple truth on which you can build a life of spirit, social curiosity, and art that all feed one another. So much of the suffering we cause ourselves and others—anxiety, jealousy, anger, which harden into rigid internal molds we try to press experience into—can be eased by accepting the truth that the world is not built to serve us, that we are here to learn, again and again, it’s not about me. The world is conversation that happens through doing and seeing and understanding and thinking as well as through speech, always remaking us and disarranging us. “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake,” says the great Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron, “is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” Disarranged, nudged aside to make room for what else there is, which we are continually invited to see and to see again. How rich our lives can be if we really consider this. And how different the art we make, and our treatment of everything else in creation, can look.
Moving Beyond Zealots: Forging Sustainable Community September 20, 2013 Text: 1 Kings 19
n trying to explain the diversity and disagreement that they find in their own community, one of my Jewish friends put it this way: There was a Jew stranded alone on a desert island for years and years. When rescued, it turned out he had built one hut and two synagogues. Why two, asked the rescuers? Well, he said, this is the synagogue I used to attend, and this is the one I worship in now. As an American Protestant, I was bit surprised. If it had been one of “my” people on that island, there would have been at least seven huts! And the conversation with the rescuer would have gone something like this: Those are the churches I used to attend. And in being asked: where do you go now? The Protestant would have responded: “Well, I got tired of the politics. Now I do yoga and meditation on the beach.” Sustaining community is difficult. The whole idea of community sounds good, and we all claim that it’s important, but the work of maintaining and growing community is a messy, time-consuming business. It involves constant tending, negotiation, compromise, and patience. Living in community is a balancing act—between the ideal we imagine and the reality we live with, between what can or should be and what actually is. A sustainable community is always a work in progress—an almost, but-not-quite sort of proposition. Elijah understood this challenge well. Emerging in ninth century, in the wake of the division of the United Kingdom of Israel into two separate nations—Israel and Judah—he by
KARLA R. SUOMALA
Karla Suomala came to Luther in 2001 and is an associate professor in the religion department, teaching courses in biblical studies, Judaism, interfaith engagement and gender/religion. She recently designed and taught a new study-away course in Europe integrating many of these areas, “From the Middle Ages to the Holocaust: Jews and Judaism in Europe.” She earned her PhD in Hebraic and Cognate Studies from Hebrew Union College.
lived in a community that had been broken in two. Elijah was daily confronted with the problem of being a prophet to God’s divided community. Largely due to these circumstances, he marks a transition point in Israelite prophecy, functioning differently than those who came before and those who came after. Elijah operated completely outside the system, with no official recognition or compensation. Much like the Blues Brothers, he and his successor Elisha were free agents “on a mission from God!” In his attempts to rebuild and strengthen community, found sprinkled in stories throughout 1 Kings 17-2 Kings 2, Elijah marked out an eclectic career of condemning the Israelite kings and people for their inability to worship Yahweh alone, while doing the occasional miracle or healing as he traveled through the land. His contentious approach often landed him in trouble with those in power, though; the conflict between King Ahab, his wife Jezebel, and Elijah, for example, was epic! Today’s passage concludes one of the best known episodes in the relationship between this notorious royal couple and Elijah, which began when Elijah issued a challenge to Ahab, telling him to assemble all of his idolatrous prophets on Mt. Carmel. Elijah wanted to settle, once and for all, their disagreement over who speaks authentically for the divine in the Israelite community. Elijah argued that it was Yahweh, while Ahab and Jezebel, on the other hand, turned to Baal and Asherah. At the end of the day, Elijah had won the argument—850 slaughtered prophets of Baal and Asherah attested to this—but not the battle. The king, having been publicly humiliated, wasn’t about to accept this defeat peacefully, though. He returned home to tell his wife, Jezebel, that Elijah has wiped out their entire prophetic staff. As angry as her husband, Jezebel sends a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Frightened, Elijah gets up and flees into the wilderness. Under a solitary broom tree, Elijah asks God if he might die. “It is enough,” he says, “now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water.
also to repent of the idea in the first place! The rabbis point out that Moses’ attitude toward the Israelites was characterized by his concern for the people—even when they turned away from God. Elijah, on the other hand, seemed more concerned with his own disappointments and frustrations than with the people involved. Even after a direct encounter with God, Elijah’s vision never expands to that of an advocate for the Israelites. He remains their most determined judge. Elisha doesn’t take over immediately, but instead begins to serve as a “prophet-in-training” and Elijah’s loyal companion. According to the rabbinic tradition, God resolves the “Go out and stand on the mountain before the problem of prophetic zealotry in a novel way—God simply Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there removes Elijah from the scene in a chariot of fire, pulled by was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting horses of fire. The rabbis go on to point out that while Elisha mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before did not shy away from violence, his career was characterized the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and instead by healings and miracles for the people. And Elijah after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was goes on to lead a very productive post-chariot life—one not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a characterized by wisdom and compassion rather than rigidfire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the ity and violence. fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard In Elijah we can see the struggle that we often encounter it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out in our communities—whether local or national—to balance and stood at the entrance of the cave. purity of ideals and practice with lived realities and actual people. In the rabbinic view, Elijah At this point, God asks again, as before: leaned too far to one side, that of “What are you doing Elijah?” Elijah says advocating total compliance and precisely the same thing that he said doctrinal purity. They understood before his divine encounter: “I have been that community, real community, very zealous for the Lord….” needs a more practical approach, It is at this very moment that God where ideals and practice can be informs Elijah that there are in fact held together with more flexibility. “seven thousand in Israel … that have not Pope Francis, just yesterday, bowed to Baal.” In other words, Elijah, echoed this concern for the world you are not alone. And that maybe it’s community. In a marked shift in time to identify a successor to the protone and from the previous pope, phetic role. “Go,” says God, and “return the Pope created a stir when he on your way to the wilderness of Damaswarned that “the Catholic Church’s cus; when you arrive … you shall anoint moral structure might ‘fall like a Elisha …as prophet in your place.” house of cards’ if it doesn’t balance In the Jewish tradition, the ancient its divisive rules about abortion, rabbis weren’t particularly enamored of gays and contraception with the the biblical Elijah. They found him to greater need to make it a merciful, be overly harsh and violent. He wasn’t a more welcoming place for all.” 1 model they could readily turn to in their He further said:“We must always own community. In considering the pas- The prophets of Baal are slaughtered (1 Kings). consider the person. In life, God sage that we have just looked at, the Rab- Gustave Doré, 1866. accompanies persons, and we must bis in the Jewish interpretive tradition accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary saw a connection between Elijah’s second “woe-is-me speech” to accompany them with mercy.” In his powerful conclusion that comes right after the whirlwind experience and God’s he stated, “This church … is the home of all, not a small decision to have Elijah appoint his replacement. They suggest chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. that this transition is precipitated by Elijah’s excessive zeal. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a Using Moses as a point of comparison, in large part nest protecting our mediocrity.” Amen. because of the many parallels between the two figures, Elijah came up short. Moses and God had a similar encounter in the exact same location, after all. It was at Horeb that God tells Moses that God is tired of the Israelites and that He Notes would like to start over with Moses alone. Moses, you might 1. “Pope Francis: Catholic Church must focus beyond ‘smallremember, convinces God not only to back off this plan, but minded rules,’” CBS/AP, Sept. 19, 2013, <cbsnews.com>. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Tended by an angel with food and drink, Elijah manages for forty days and forty nights on the strength of that food, eventually making his way to Horeb, the mountain of God. Spending the night in a cave there, God rouses Elijah from his sleep: “‘Elijah, what are you doing here?’ Well, says Elijah, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away’” (1 Kings 19:9-10). He is then told:
September 30, 2013
Text: John 1:43-51 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
ome and see—three simple words of invitation. “Come and see,” Philip says to Nathanael in today’s reading, inviting him to discover for himself the answer to his incredulous question of whether anything good could come out of Nazareth. “Come and see,” says Jesus to his first two disciples in the preceding passage, an answer to their question of where he was staying. Come and see—three simple words of calling. A calling to a new community, to a new way of life, to a vocation; not the “vocation” simply associated with skills and by
As he recounts in his talk here, Brad (chemistry PhD from Minnesota) was a research chemist in industry before he found his calling to the Luther chemistry department in 2001. He engages students in his ongoing research and publication ventures. Readers of Lori Stanley’s article will see how he has been involved with her work with the Maasai in Tanzania. Brad is also a leader in faculty governance and chaired the academic planning committee when it orchestrated a campus wide curriculum redefinition starting in Fall 2007.
Fig tree at the house of Simon, the tanner, Jaffa. 1910.
FLICKR: THE COMMONS. VISUAL INSTRUCTION DEPT LANTERN SLIDES
Come and See
jobs, but the “vocation” associated with a higher calling that orients each person to a purpose that matches their gifts and talents, a calling that moves “beyond immediate interests and present knowledge into a larger world.” Come and see—three powerful words of consequence. I get Nathanael. What’s happening here in today’s reading? Philip has just told Nathanael that he has found the Messiah, “him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Hearing this news, did Nathanael immediately jump on board? No, he questioned Philip’s discovery. Nathanael had in mind a different kind of Messiah, one that did not come from someplace like Nazareth. To his credit, Nathanael followed Philip’s call, but only upon meeting Jesus did he truly believe. Nathanael needed proof. I get Nathanael. In my own “come and see” journey, I was equally prone to question. But I was less willing to follow. I confess that I did not intend to become a professor. I am a synthetic polymer chemist (that’s a fancy way of saying that I make plastic). Like the vast majority of scientists in my sub-field, as a student, I sought an industrial career. I was so resolute in this path that, upon completion of my graduate studies, I declined a call to a faculty appointment at my alma mater, our sister college in St. Peter, Minnesota. The unsolicited offer of a teaching career was a surprise, and an unwelcome disruption to my plans that I was unwilling to accept. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Fall 2013/Agora
When I turned down the offer, I rationalized my decision to my wife Julie (a 1996 graduate of Luther), stating that only Luther could draw me away from industry and into the academy. This sounds good, as it makes for a good story, and, while it is true, to be honest, I said it knowing that the odds of a chemistry position in my specialty opening up at Luther in the near term were slim to none. I knew full well at the time that the person occupying the tenure line in which I now find myself was only mid-career.
I believe that each member of the Luther community has been called to this place with a purpose by a God who has seen you beneath the fig tree. In short, I received a call, and I shrugged it off. I wasn’t as wise as Nathanael, whose curiosity ultimately overcame his reticence, at least enough to walk down the road with Philip to meet Jesus. Instead, I accepted a postdoctoral appointment at a university in upstate New York with close ties to the burgeoning bioplastics industry. If you ask Julie about our time in New York, you will be regaled with tales (as only an English major can tell them) of Paradise Found, of the natural beauty, as well as the cultural opportunities, afforded by Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region. I refer to our sojourn there as the dark time. Please understand, my struggle there had little to do with my location, my appointment, my research, or my career prospects. It had everything to do with a struggle over my calling. While in New York, I eventually despaired, and I spoke to Julie of leaving chemistry altogether to pursue other options. One particularly bad day I left my lab early, and awaiting me at home was a new issue of a weekly periodical published by the American Chemical Society. This magazine lists all open industrial and academic positions in chemistry. I had not looked at any issues for nearly a year. This time, I opened it, and I found a listing for a visiting faculty appointment in chemistry at Luther. (There had been a sudden, unanticipated resignation at an odd time during the academic year, a time outside the normal hiring window even for visiting positions in chemistry. I later learned that the ad appeared in print only
one time, in this particular issue.) OK. OK. I get it, I remember thinking—message received. That afternoon I wrote an email inquiry to Dale Nimrod, who at the time was the head of the department of chemistry. Within minutes, I had a written response; within hours, I had a phone conversation. Within days, I had a plane ticket to an interview. Within weeks, I had a vocation. In the twelve years since, I have discovered that what I need is here in this place, in this community. I have seen great things, and I have been blessed with a life better than I could have imagined. I believe that each member of the Luther community has been called to this place with a purpose by a God who has seen you beneath the fig tree—by a God who knows you, your passions, and your gifts. You have been called here to shape and to be shaped by others. You have been woven into a dynamic fabric that is constantly recreating itself—we are a community that each year welcomes new members as we send others out into the world. Paraphrasing what President Tiede noted in his recent State of the College address, we are a community that extends to the furthest geographical reaches of our alumni. This is no lip service. We mean it. We do this well. Luther combines learning, community, and calling together like few other institutions, from our Sense of Vocation program, to our deep commitments to connect faith with learning, freedom with responsibility, and life’s work with service. This called community is one of our greatest strengths in anxious times, and it should be one of our greatest comforts. As we struggle with the disruptions facing higher education, as we search for new leaders, we should acknowledge and respect the magnitude of the challenges ahead. Yet we should do so knowing that God has called and will continue to call whom and what we need. This called community will be sustained not by conforming to what the world says that we should be, or by doing what it says that we should do, but by clinging to what Christ has called us to be. We are a called community that is sustained by seeking answers together to difficult questions, by living out our convictions with sacrifice, if necessary, and by shaping lives for service, with each question, answer, and act offered humbly with excellence for the glory of God alone. This is our mission; this is our calling; this is our vocation as a college. Will we continue to listen? Will we continue to follow? If so, “come and see,” Jesus says, “follow me”—and I will show you great things. Soli Deo Gloria.
God’s Vision for Life in Community: A Template or a Dream? October 11, 2013 Text: Acts 2:43-47
Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
was an English major, so I can’t help but add one more reading to the conversation this morning. From The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar: That was the essential difference between him and Laleh—when she thought back on their college days, she saw them as a template for the rest of her life; Adish looked back on those days as a lovely dream from which it was essential, but difficult, to wake up.1
When we look back on the life of the early Christian church, as described in Acts, do we see it as a template for life as God envisions for us or as a lovely dream from which we have had to wake up in order to be successful in today’s world? In some ways it sounds too good to be true—a life centered in community and worship, shared meals, shared everything so that no one is in need. by
Pastor Stacey Nalean-Carlson graduated from Luther in 1998 and Wartburg Theological Seminary in 2003. She served parishes in Adams, ND, and West Union, IA, before becoming pastor of Glenwood Lutheran and Canoe Ridge Lutheran (in Winneshiek County Iowa, near Decorah) in 2012. She and husband Doug have three children— Keaton, Aidan, Logan.
Collegiate Chorale in Christmas at Luther (2012).
AARON LURTH, LUTHER COLLEGE PHOTO BUREAU
Homecoming chapel, Fall 2013
Then again, it sounds like a painful dying to self—a sacrifice of mine for the sake of ours, which seems never to come easily. Which makes me wonder about those early believers. Were they always appreciative of the life they had been given? Did no one complain about having to go to the temple again? Did no one want their own room filled with their own things? And the apostles, did they never look back on their days with Jesus and wonder if it was a lovely dream from which they really needed to wake up? Did they never wonder about the danger of advocating for justice, and mercy, and peace? Did they never look around at their fellow believers and wonder how in the world God would be able to bless the world through them? I like to think that those early believers, the apostles, and maybe even Jesus himself had moments when they couldn’t decide if God’s vision for life in community was a template or a dream, because then my own wonderings—our doubts—seem not only forgivable, but maybe even valuable. Life at Luther is not so unlike that early church. Life here is centered in community and worship, shared meals, shared lives. And while you’re here you might resent the common bathrooms, the limited menu, the sacrifice of mine for the sake of ours. You might complain about having to examine your faith or want your own room filled with only your things, weary of the rhythm and the routine of this place. But in the midst of your resistance to life in community, I pray you also realize its value. I pray you realize that this community provides a template for the rest of your life—not a lovely dream from which you need to awake, but a model for living as God intends. Here you practice contributing your voice to the common good in the classroom, the Caf, and the choir—asking your questions, Fall 2013/Agora
trying on claims, singing God’s praise. Here you practice sharing your very self, risking vulnerability, allowing your vision to grow in depth and breadth. Here you practice looking around at this group of people that God has assembled and daring to actually believe that God will use you, all of you, to bless the world. Is it any wonder then, that when we leave this place, we are quick to come home? In 2008 I was on campus for my first Christmas at Luther concert since 1997, back when it was Juletide. In 1997, I sang in Collegiate Chorale, and it was on the evening after that last Sunday performance of my senior year, that I learned my younger brother, Mike, had died. So I was fearful about coming to this space and being surrounded by those memories that had been so beautiful and then were marred by tragedy. I sat in the balcony and I wept as the choirs sang “Before the Marvel of This Night,” the same song that had opened the concert eleven years before. Proclaim the birth of Christ and peace, That fear and death and sorrow cease.2 I was overwhelmed, not by grief, but by the sacredness of this space. That here, at the heart of this campus, we are awed by the wonder of the Word made flesh together. We sing together, and we sigh together. We share our psalms of praise and lamentation penned by our life’s journeys. And when we cannot sing through our tears, and we cannot believe through our doubts, this community gathers together—sings for us, believes for us, holds us with God’s own embrace. We come home to this place eager to be reminded that the word—written, and spoken, and sung—has power to
transform, that learning is a lifelong pursuit, that true community is sustainable and worth the struggle to make it a priority. We come home to this place eager to be reminded that life as God intends is not a lovely dream, but a real possibility, and one for which we have been given the template. Its name? Jesus.
When we cannot sing through our tears, and we cannot believe through our doubts, this community gathers together—sings for us, believes for us, holds us with God’s own embrace. He is the template for abundant life, overflowing mercy, extravagant grace. He was in the beginning, before all else, creating a framework for hope, and peace, and joy. And as much as the church, or Luther College, or any of us are able to live with him as our template, it is because his spirit is alive and at work in us. He not only shows us the way: he is the way. He is the way home. Home to eternal life, home to abundant life here and now, home to life in community that strengthens us for the common good. Welcome home. Amen. Notes 1. Thrity Umrigar, The World We Found (New York: Harper Perennial, 2012), 82.
2. Vajda, Jaroslav J. “Before the Marvel of This Night.” With One Voice. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1995.
Founders’ Day and the Armor of God Text: Ephesians 6:10-17 (NRSV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
ermons often begin with liturgical formulas: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ...” or “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts....” So I begin this chapel talk with the liturgical formula that is customary for this venue: “When Pastor David asked me to speak today …” I immediately thought, “Founder’s Day! Why would they ask me to speak on Founder’s Day? Old people speak on Founder’s Day! Where’s Will Bunge? He wrote the history of the college, for heaven’s sake, and he’s got a couple of decades on me! I’m not old enough to speak on Founder’s Day!” by
MARK D. JOHNS
Mark D. Johns was ordained to the Lutheran ministry in 1978 and served as pastor to parishes in Iowa and Minnesota for nearly twenty years prior to completing his PhD and joining the department of communication studies at Luther in 1999. At Founder’s Day Chapel, just before he delivered this talk, Campus Pastor Amy Zalk Larson, on behalf of the Northeastern Iowa Synod ELCA, presented him with a certificate recognizing the thirty-fifth anniversary of his ordination.
October 14, 2013
Then I looked in the mirror. I can see how people might get that impression. And then came today’s reminder that it’s now been thirty-five years since I was ordained to the ministry. Perhaps it’s true. Maybe I really am old enough to speak at Founder’s Day Chapel. It seems to have happened all of a sudden. Aging isn’t a topic our youth-obsessed culture takes to very well. Using everything from makeup to Photoshop, many try to hold the signs of aging at bay for as long as possible. And when we can no longer deceive others or ourselves, we must come to terms with the fact that despite all medical and scientific advances, the death rate remains constant—it’s still one per person. On reflection, however, there are some positives about getting older. Chief among them is that, when one has lived through any number of life’s various common disasters one discovers that—until that final call—life does go on. Accidents and injuries, illnesses and deaths of close family members, career crises and relationship stresses, all come and go, and one survives. Sometimes we’re stronger for the experience, and sometimes we’re left crippled by it, but seldom do life’s setbacks look as dire in retrospect as they do in anticipation. Many of the disappointments and failures we worry about when we’re younger, actually do come to pass. However, somehow we manage them, and when we get beyond them, we discover that they weren’t as awful as we feared. The reading from Ephesians uses battle imagery to show us that, like a Wendell Berry poem [“What We Need Is Here”—the source of this fall’s chapel series theme], what we need to get through life is, indeed, already here, close at hand.1 Some interpreters have imagined Paul, in prison, looking at the outfit of the Roman soldier guarding his cell. He is on death row (as we all are, in a sense) but he imagines a different sort of battle gear for a different sort of struggle. The metaphorical armor described here will be of little use against a physical assault—or certainly against the headsman’s axe. But this armor will determine the attitude and the courage with which one stands up to the inevitable forces of evil and death that eventually remove all of us from this world. The message the apostle would have us take from today’s reading, I think, is that despite the fact that we fight what is, ultimately, a losing battle in this life, the important thing is not the defeat and death, but the way we stand up and live until then. If there’s any wisdom that comes with age, it’s the wisdom that a lot of things we lost sleep over, worried about, or even became emotionally crippled by in younger years, simply worked themselves out because we found the strength—the armor—we perhaps didn’t realize we had, that kept us going and helped us push our way through. Terrible things do hapFall 2013/Agora
pen in life. They change us, but thanks to the armor of God, So the question should not be, “Will Luther College surresurrections also occur. vive?” Rather, the question for a college, as for an individual, The same is true of institutions. Luther faculty and staff should be, “What will our mission be, and how can we be have been involved in a great deal of discussion about coming faithful in carrying it out?” Whether you are a nineteen year crises in higher education. At what point will escalating costs old sophomore or a 152 year old college, the question is the become unsustainable? How same: “What am I called to do, will the internet transform the and how will I prepare myself way students learn? It’s prudent to do it?” that we ask such questions. Yet With age comes the realizabehind much of the conversation tion that what we have here are is a good bit of hand-wringing. the resources to meet our chalFor while Luther’s future is selenges, and that having overcome cure for the decade or two ahead obstacles in the past, we can have that we can see pretty clearly, confidence for the future. some wonder—in an age when Tomorrow, on the liturgical colleges and universities across calendar, is the day of comthe country face challenges and memoration for Teresa of Ávila, changes, and when some are a sixteenth century nun, theoalready in difficulty—whether logian, and mystic who suffered or not, in the long term, a place more than her share of troubles like Luther College can survive. and setbacks. Saint Teresa wrote, Reading that excellent his“Pain is never permanent.” “To tory, Transformed by the Journey: have courage for whatever comes 150 Years of Luther College in in life—everything lies in that.” Word and Image (2011) that So whether we are in our Will Bunge wrote (with Mary second decade, our seventh deHull Mohr and Dale Nimrod), cade, or as college, our sixteenth I’m struck by the fact that this decade, we put on our armor in is not a new concern. Almost order to get through yet another every chapter of Luther’s past is day. We do so understanding focused on some crisis or other that yes, someday, this world is that threatened to close the place going to get us. But until that down. Born out of the trauma of day comes, we stand clothed the American Civil War, tested A young knight in armor. Flemish, Maître du Girart de in the whole armor of God, by church politics and theologi- Roussillon, c1465-70. encouraged by the wisdom that cal debates, rocked by depresmost of life’s traumas are not as sions, wars, and much too frequent building fires, somehow dire as we might fear, and emboldened by faith that for every the founders’ vision managed to persevere. Along the way, death there awaits a resurrection. Amen. our mission was adjusted, and the school went on: The little school to teach Norwegian boys to be frontier pastors died, but it was resurrected as a liberal arts college for young men. Notes The men’s college died, but was resurrected as a coeducational 1. Read the Wendell Berry poem at: <http://www.poemhunter. institution. The coed college for Norwegian kids died, but a com/best-poems/wendell-berry/what-we-need-is-here/>. place of rich diversity was resurrected in its place. And so on.
Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
hen I first read the assigned passage for today, I was pretty upset. Here I am, delivering my senior chapel, and I’m assigned to preach on a text that directly relates to one of my toughest college relationships. Like some relationships, our acquaintance started early in life. There was a lot of common ground, as we both grew up around communities of faith, and this blossomed into strong feelings—some might even call it love—in high school. I knew we each had our flaws; certainly, I wasn’t naïve enough to think that one or both of us were inerrant. But it seemed like a healthy relationship at the time. When I enrolled at Luther, I was pretty sure that I was ready to make a lifelong commitment. Then, I took Religion 101, and things fell apart. Yes, I’m talking about my relationship with this book—the Bible. When I came to Luther, I thought that this relationship was stable. I was ready (in the words of our text) to “continue in what I had learned and firmly believed”—namely, that the Bible was a somewhat true book detailing humanity’s experience with the three persons of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However, I wasn’t fully aware of the extent to which by
Hans is a Luther senior, a history major from Middleton, WI, and is president of Phi Alpha Theta (the history honor society). He serves on the Student Senate, he is the secretary of the Student Congregational Council, and he leads a campus group focused on silent prayer in community. Hans is also a member of the ELCA Church Council (the ELCA Board of Directors) and plans to attend an ELCA seminary.
October 25, 2013
this experience entailed horrendous murders, male dominance, and the violent toppling of governments—to name just a few things done in God’s name throughout the Bible. If you were meeting in Loyalty Hall around this time three years ago and you heard a loud groan ascend from the basement classroom, know this: you were probably hearing me, in religion class, breaking up with the Bible. Like all breakups, this one had some significant consequences. I had started Luther with a confidence that I would become a pastor—some- Christ the Savior (Pantokrator), thing that I had been a sixth-century encaustic icon from encouraged to consider Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount since middle school. But Sinai (Egypt). with all of my new questions, I thought that I couldn’t ever preach, teach, or preside over the sacraments. It seemed like being a pastor was for those people who didn’t question and didn’t doubt. I didn’t lose my faith, exactly, but it became submerged under an ever-increasing amount of muck. It might be more accurate to say that I misplaced it. But I wasn’t the only person whose faith had been broken by a fuller acquaintance with the Bible. Far from it—in fact, it almost seems like a rite of passage here at Luther. My classmates and I stood in Chapel, literally singing “Jubilee to the Lord” as members of Norsemen, but a cloud of existential dread hung over our heads. We really wanted to see through it, through to the faith that we had held since our childhoods. It seemed to us, however, that this book stood in the way. My text from Second Timothy initially seems like one of those passages that would contribute to our angst. When it was assigned to me, I groaned because verse sixteen is often cited as “proof ” that the entire Bible is not only literally true, but also inspired and endorsed by God. That verse reads: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Fall 2013/Agora
Breaking Up With the Bible
But things are not as they appear. As I learned in my Introduction to the Bible course, context is important. This verse comes amidst the passage’s larger discussion of what scripture actually is. After all, there was no established Christian canon in the first century. So, we aren’t exactly talking about the Bible. So just what are we talking about? We’re talking more generally about sacred writings or teachings of any kind. As I delved into this passage, I noticed that we are certainly not supposed to take these writings at face value. In fact, verse fifteen tells us that we are supposed to “know from whom we learned it.” We need to understand the motivations of the person who delivered their message to us. Without understanding the person, we can’t distinguish between their agenda and their articulation of God’s agenda. The author of Second Timothy wants us to be certain that if we don’t know anything about the messengers, we probably can’t even begin to understand God’s truths in their message. But even once we do know the messengers and their human limitations, we must also critique the content that they deliver. We might trust the message, but—and here’s the really life-giving part—these sacred writings or teachings must, in the words of Second Timothy, “be able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Scripture must “be able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” This tells us something that we all know in our hearts: that there’s only one way for us to really discern the truth of any scripture passage, sermon, or hymn—and that’s through knowing Jesus. Jesus—and note that I didn’t say the Gospels or the New Testament in general—is at the root of truth for us as Christians. When we talk about Biblical truth, we’re really talking about truths that we know because of Jesus. It just happens to be that these truths are articulated through our scriptures—further proof of their eternality. I’ve seen this at work in my own life and imagine many of you have as well. I needed to come to know Jesus myself, directly tapping into the source of life and salvation—by praying in silence, by taking the Eucharist, by participating in a community of faith, and yes, by contemplatively reading the Bible. The Lutheran understanding of Christ, and Christ crucified, at the center of our faith really demands that we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit before we open our Bibles. Yet even once we know Jesus through the Holy Spirit, our doubts don’t disappear. They’re not supposed to disappear. The doubts are still present as much as ever. However, opening our hearts allows our faith to rise to the top of the muck rather than sink to the bottom. The Holy Spirit will comfort our souls, even if a cloud of dread sits over us.
In reflecting on this passage, I’ve come to see how applicable it is to our common struggles with the Bible. Whether we are first-years, seniors, regents, or seasoned religion professors, we will continue to struggle with the Bible—and not just the grisly parts. We are called to consider the motivations of the writer—some might call that historical criticism—but we are also called to know Jesus and ourselves. The Bible itself invites us to ponder the origins of our faith, and to know that the Biblical accounts and our explanations of them, no matter how true they might seem, are birthed from human brokenness. Accepting that is the first step on the road back to faith. What do these realizations mean for us here at Luther College? Where do they call us? Well, these revelations take us to the final part of this passage. We know that God’s message, after we critique and analyze it, must be considered alongside the knowledge of Jesus that we gain through the Holy Spirit. Yet this understanding is not yet complete. We must use these various messages—the scriptures—“so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” Lutheran theology would place special emphasis on the word every—for we believe that all work is equally important to God and God’s world. Our faith is a tool that helps us to understand our vocations—to discover what we can’t not do. We share a faith centered in the Holy Scriptures and in the person of Jesus Christ—but this same faith calls us to every good work—not just those that might make our parents proud, allow us to earn a good income, or be held up by society as a paradigm of goodness. Our vocation is one of God’s greatest gifts for us—sometimes, we see it coming. In other cases, it blindsides us. My time at Luther led me down an unexpected path— from a strong but untested faith into deep doubts and questions about God. Yet the faith that slowly reemerged—through reading the Bible critically, in silent prayer, in community— called me to a new vocation. I thought for a time that I might be a lawyer or a professor, but listening to God sent me down another path. After Luther, I’ll be attending seminary to pursue ordained ministry in the Lutheran church. I never would have discovered this—my vocation—without first breaking up with the Bible. None of us can discern our vocations without first accepting our doubts and thinking critically about our faith. At the same time, we must allow Christ’s love to dwell in our hearts, teaching us truths without words. So, if there’s anything that I’ve learned in my time here, it’s this: listen deeply and critically—to the people around you and to God’s Holy Spirit. This holy attention will not only draw you away from dogma and toward a deeper faith—it will also shine light on your vocation as a child of God. Soli Deo Gloria.
Find the current issue and back issues of Agora online
ou can read the current issue of Agora online and you can also find and search all back issues by first going to our webpage: search “Agora” on the Luther College homepage. The current issue can be viewed right on that page. For back issues, click on the link that takes you to the webpage titled “Luther College Publications Archive.” Enter and then “select publication,” to search either Agora or The College Chips—the complete files of both Agora and the campus newspaper are available. You can search using names, words or phrases, and dates. You can read online or download as a PDF.
Changing your address? Want to stop receiving Agora? If you do, please email or write us. Contact Agora, c/o boesejud@luther. edu, or write Agora, Main 126, Luther College, 700 College Dr., Decorah, IA 52101. The image above illustrated early issues of Agora. The journal was established by the Paideia Program, and paideia translates as education. The image shows a teacher with his tablet on his lap and stylus in his hand.