The cover photo has more significance than just a tranquil setting; Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fifty years ago. It rises out of the reflection pool in front of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX, which also opened fifty years ago. Its mission is “to create opportunities for spiritual growth and dialogue that illuminate our shared humanity and inspire action leading to a world in which all are treated with dignity and respect.”
This sentiment of building unity continues with the tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. with a quote and accompanying photo, followed by the song “For Our Country,” a translation by S.D. Rodholm.
The future of the United States depends, in part, on acknowledgement and atonement for exploitations and wrongs of the past, as Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Elona Street-Stewart exhorts in the sermon she delivered at the worship service at the 2020 Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
Viggo ‘Pete’ Hansen gives his thoughts on how human survival is tied to education. Then Dr. Mike Klein of St. Thomas University, St. Paul, MN, introduces a book, written by his students, that reflects the practice of his pedagogic model. The first chapter of this book, written by Savannah Thibert, picks up the theme from the sermon of acknowledging the harms of colonization to Indigenous people. The ideas of Grundtvig concerning nationhood should be kept in mind as these voices urge us to consider the Indigenous nations of North America (a.k.a. Turtle Island).
Hanna Broadbridge shares signs of hope for 2021, both on her back patio and in the respect for the common good seen in the final Brexit discussions.
Yet there has been much to mourn. We remember the lives of Doris Henriksen and Mary Louise Sørensen. And because the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was so profoundly disturbing, we end with a prayer by Harold J. Slater rather than the normal Post Script.
Notes on Upcoming and Past Issues
The next issue of Church and Life will be combined for February/March so will be published March 1. The deadline for submissions is thus extended to February 12. Think about sharing the place or practice that is your oasis for mind and spirit.
An additional credit is due for the “I Am From” song in the December issue. Caroline Juhl, granddaughter of Rita and Dick Juhl and music student at St. Olaf, put the song into sheet music form for publication.
The 150th anniversary celebration of the Fredsville congregation has been put on hold, but Vern Johnson (email@example.com) is still looking for descendants of founders and any stories that fill out the narrative of the pioneers.
Bridget Lois Jensen