Highlights for Aug/Sep 2020
The cover photo of one of Peter Juhl’s stonebalancing creations on the shore of Lake Michigan near Schroeder, MN seems to fit how we have been living in this time of pandemic: as individuals, perhaps feeling precarious at first then settling into a state of equanimity, we have been keeping our distance from one another but interacting with at least a few people in our bubble of family or friends. More of Peter’s work can be viewed online at www.temporarysculpture.com. Creativity runs in the family: his mother, Rita, composed the hymn featured on the cover of the previous issue of Church and Life and his father, Dick Juhl, has contributed numerous “Life in the Rearview Mirror” articles, including one in this issue in which he tells of the wonder and gratitude he has found despite the challenges of living in a pandemic.
The poem “Noget om Helte” (“Something on Heroes”) by Halfdan Rasmussen introduces this issue. Those who read Danish can enjoy his rhythm and rhyme in addition to the sentiment of a pacifist who delights in life’s simple joys. The translation into English is rough but conveys the poem’s temperament. Rasmussen is among the people mentioned in my article later in the issue, “Paths to Justice and Peace through the International People’s School.” A couple of other articles have a thread of connection about people dreaming and standing for justice.
For generations, African Americans have sung of their path to justice as “stony the road we trod,” and they continue to sing, exhorting, “let us march on ’til victory is won.” Pastor Solveig Nilsen-Goodin was among those who gathered to march in solidarity after seeing George Floyd killed by a police officer. Her sermon based on that experience, “Five Loaves, Two Fish, and a Rack of Ribs,” calls us to look for the sacred in our lived experience.
In “A Summer in Denmark,” Hanna Broadbridge shares the experience of an excursion to Ribe where she visited the Jacob Riis museum. Here, Danes learn how Riis campaigned for the social uplift of exploited people, mostly immigrants and children, in New York City.
While renowned people may have a museum to honor their lives, most people are remembered in the hearts and minds of those whose lives they touched, which is no less a tribute. Church and Life pays final respects to two people who contributed to our community, Pastor Clayton Nielsen and Johanne Hansen. The extended look at Pastor Nielsen’s life is a portrait that may bring to mind other pastors who served the DELC (Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church), AELC (American Evangelical Lutheran Church), and LCA (Lutheran Church in America), predecessors of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). As for Johanne, she, like other women of her time whose access to positions in ministry and academia were limited, still contributed to the church as a pastor’s wife and to higher education as a college librarian. She was a second set of eyes when her husband, Thorvald, was editor of Church and Life. I am grateful for such faithful readers and contributors, past and present, who form a community of saints that sustains this publication.