DOUGLAS E. WINGEIER
Emeritus Professor of Pracgtical Theology
Garrett-Evangelical Theologiczl Seminary, Evanston, Illinois
Address: 36 Bust-O'-Dawn Drive, Waynesville, NC 28785
Douglas (Doug) Wingeier is a retired member of the faculty of
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, having taught there 1970-1998 in
the fieldl of Christian education and practical theology. He also served as
Associate Dean for Ministry Programs, directing the Doctor of Ministry,
Continuing Education, Field Education, and Summer School programs. He has a
B.A. from Taylor University and the S.T.B. and Ph.D. degrees from Boston
Dr. Wingeier has served as pastor, minister of education and youth, and
campus minister in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, and as a United
Methodist missionary teaching at Trinity Theological College in Singapore.
He is a retired clergy member of the West Michigan Annual Conference, United
Methodist Church. He is currently a member of the faculty of the Course of
Study School at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC, training United
Methodist local pastors. He also teaches in elderhostels and in United
Methodist Schools of Christian Mission.
Dr. Wingeier's publicaations include the following books: KEEPING HOLY TIME:
STUDYING THE REVISED COMMON LECTIONARY: YEARS A, B, AND C; THE USE OF THE
CASE STUDY METHOD IN PASTORAL TRAINING (Cambodia), GALATIANS: SET FREE BY
GOD'S GRACE, GOOD NEWS FOR GOD'S PEOPLE: A STUDY OF ROMANS, TROUBLESOME
BIBLE PASSAGES (with David Lowes Watson), HANDBOOK FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL
TEACHERS (Singapore), EIGHT WAYS TO BECOME CHRISTIAN: SHARING YOUR STORY OF
FAITH; PAUL: HIS LIFE, JESUS CHRIST: RESURRECTION, NEW TESTAMENT IMAGES
OF LEARNING AT SEVEN LIFE STAGES, CONFIRMATION TODAY: TEN AFFIRMATIONS,
SEVEN BIBLICAL IMAGES OF TEACHING, and WORKING OUT YOUR OWN BELIEFS.
Articles by Dr. Wingeier hve appeared in QUARTERLY REVIEW, JOURNAL OF
SUPERVISION AND TRAINING IN MINISTRY, HARPER'S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGIOUS
EDUCATION, NEW WORLD OUTLOOK, COMMUNITIES, THE LIVING LIGHT, CIRCUIT
RIDER, THE CHRISTIAN MINISITRY, ASIA JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY, RELIGIOUS
EDUCATION, CHURCH SCHOOL TODAY, ACTION INFORMATION (Alban Institute),
WORLD CHRISTIAN EDUCATION, METHODIST MESSAGE (Singapore), SANGSAENG
(Korea), in local newspapers in his community, and in United Methodist
church school curriculum materials and study books.
In addition to his missionary service in Singapore, Dr. Wingeier has done
teaching, research, and consultation in Haiti, Israel/Palestine, Samoa,
South Korea, Malaysia, Central America, Hong Kong, and Cambodia. He has also
led travel seminars to the Holy Land, China, Cuba, and the Rio Grande
Valley, and a work team to Nicaragua, where he helped build a primary school
in a Managua barrio. He has trafveled widely in Asia, the South Pacific,
Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America, and speaks fluent
Chinese and limited Spanish. He frequently engages in peace and justice
activism, and is a reserve member of Christan Peacemaker Teams with whom he
has engaged in accompaniment and violence-prevention work in Hebron
(Palestine) and Chiapas (Mexico).
Douglas and Carol Wingeier live near Lake Junaluska, NC. They have four
married children--Ruth, Stephen, Martha Emily, and Philip (a United
Methodist missionary), and nine grandchildren.
1. "Accompaniment" Project by Peacemakers in Columbia
1. "Accompaniment" Project by Peacemakers in Columbia
Friends, here is an article I've written about my recent experience in Colombia. If you know of any place it might be published, please let me know so I can get the word out. Doug
PRESENCE AND PURIFICATION IN COLOMBIA
Dr. Doug Wingeier
La Rampla is the waterfront district in Barrancabermeja (Barranca for short), a city of 300,000 in northeast Colombia, where 80% of the country's oil is processed in a huge state-owned refinery. Long-controlled by the guerillas, it was taken over by paramilitary thugs a year ago. Barranca is the urban center for the Magdalena Medio region, where campesinos and fishermen come downriver to sell their produce and buy supplies.
La Rampla in some ways is a typical waterfont--wharves where the canoes tie up, muddy streets crowded with taxis, pickups, and push carts, vendors buying and selling, bars and poolhalls, old drunks, young toughs and prostitutes, music blaring, people shouting, crowds bustling.
But La Rampla is anything but typical. Since the paramilitary takeover it is tightly controlled. The paras--carrying concealed weapons--monitor all river traffic, impose taxes on travelers, extort money from produce sellers, shopkeepers, and boat operators, inspect outgoing canoes to make sure no extra food is transported upriver to feed the guerillas, and assassinate and disappear those who resist them. The paras are armed and funded by the drug trade, extortion, theft from the gas pipeline, and under-the-table aid from the Colombia military and government--the latter being part of the $1.2 billion U.S. aid package under Plan Colombia.
It was from La Rampla that our 12-member Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT for short) set out in motorized canoes for the campo (countryside) to "accompany" four communities along the Opon River, a Magdalena tributary. We knew we were being watched but were too new to sense the danger or know who was who. We traveled about two hours upriver, against a swift current, dodging flotsam (including a cow carcass) and submerged trees. The homes were not clustered, but were strung out along the river bank about a quarter of a mile apart.
Accompaniment, we learned, meant just "hanging out" with the campesino families--visiting, slogging along muddy jungle paths in knee-high rubber boots, eating rice and beans, swatting mosquitoes, sweating profusely in the humid 100-degree heat, retiring at dusk to sleep on concrete schoolhouse floors, then rising with the sun to move on to the next community. Our purpose, as gringos, was just to be a presence among these communities, so the paramilitaries and guerillas would not attack them.
In each community we had a "meeting." Families gathered at one homestead, introductions were made, drinks were served. Speaking through interpreters, we brought messages of solidarity and support form our home congregations and communities (I expressed greetings from ours.), and they voiced their gratitude to CPT for coming to their region two years ago. They had been forcibly displaced form their homes and lands, first by the guerillas and then by the paras, and driven into Barranca to live with relatives or in shantytowns.
Those who tried to resist had been tortured, assassinated, or disappeared. Bodies of some victims had been chopped up with chainsaws and either thrown in the river or returned to their families in plastic bags. Terrified, the people had abandoned their homes and fled. But now, with the coming of CPT, the violence had subsided and people were returning. Life had regained a measure of normalcy. Crops--cocoa, bananas, corn, papaya, coconut--where being harvested again. Fishing in the river had resumed. Their dirt-floor, thatched roof homes were being spruced up. Flowers bloomed in the yards. Chicken, pigs, ducks and dogs ran freely to and fro. Children were returning to school.
And--perhaps the crowning achievement--soccer games between the communities were being held every Sunday. One village elder declared that "soccer is a sacred sport," because it was bringing the people together and restoring a sense of community and merriment. We agreed, and challenged them to a soccer game. The women, children, and old geezers like me, watched and cheered. Of course, our CPT team lost, but such an atmosphere of sheer play and celebration seemed the epitome of "accompaniment." The people had a life again, because CPT had come, and the paras no longer could intimidate them with impunity.
After three days of such accompaniment, including an informal conversation with Colombian soldiers at a nearby camp, we returned to Barranca, docked at La Rampla, and continued our series of interviews with human rights groups--churches, campesino and community development organizations, trade unions, women's groups. From them we learned about the fear and intimidation they lived under daily. Dozens of their leaders had been tortured, assassinated, and disappeared. Trying courageously to defend human rights, they had recently been castigated by President Alvaro Uribe himself as terrorist groups allied with the guerillas--which was a signal to the paras that they were fair game and could be harassed and killed with impunity. (And sure enough, since returning to the States we have received word that one of the women who was under a death threat while we were there has now been killed in front of her home, her body dumped on the street in front of a school in the neighborhood where we were staying!)
Every CPT delegation carries out a symbolic action. When we asked these groups for ideas, they suggested a demonstration against disappearances and impunity. When we asked where we should hold it, they said--you guessed it--La Rampla. So, after much planning and preparation, and notifying police and media, we showed up there at the busiest time of day--with sound truck, a banner that proclaimed, "Clamoring for Life and Joy," 30 bunches of flowers, a bowl and twigs for scattering holy water--and carried out a ritual of cleansing throughout the place.
We began by walking up and down the streets in pairs shouting at the top of our lungs, "Donde esta Miguel? Where is my son? Donde esta Carmen? Where is my mother? Where is my husband?" Then calling out, "Quien es responsable? Who is responsible?" First startled, then curious, finally interested, people appeared on balconies and in upstairs windows, and clustered in shop doorways. Converging at a central spot, we gathered in a semicircle, and the crowd closed in. The paramilitaries were there, but did not interfere. A Franciscan priest in our group read a brief liturgy of purification and the "Let justice roll down like waters" passage from prophet Amos, prayed for the disappeared and their families, and demanded accountability and an end to impunity. We presented bouquets to representatives of the human rights groups and the victims, and then began a procession through the streets--beating drums, weaving from side to side in rhythm, speaking our purpose over the PA system, distributing flowers to the bystanders, and sprinkling water right and left to symbolize cleansing. Reaching the point where La Rampla merged into the downtown business district, we halted the procession and handed out bottles of ice cold drinking water to the crowd as a gesture of hospitality.
Thus ended our Christian Peacemaker Team sojourn of accompaniment in a violence-torn, fear-ridden region of Colombia--accompaniment embodying a message of friendship and solidarity, accompaniment bridging the barriers of language and culture, accompaniment that has reduced violence and fear and brought hope and life to a small segment of God's people; accompaniment which, like a candle burning in the night, for a brief moment in a remote corner of the world, dispelled the darkness of evil and dread.
Dr. Doug Wingeier is emeritus professor of practical theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL, and is now residing in Waynesville, NC, near Lake Junaluska. He is a reserve member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, with whom he has also served in Chiapas, Mexico, and Hebron, Palestine. Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Quakers) with support and membership from a range of Catholic and Protestant denominations.
2 SISBROS: A COVENANT COMMUNITY-IN-DISPERSION
by Doug Wingeier
THIS DOCUMENT FROM DOUG IS A REPRINT FROM AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN "COMMUNITIES" MAGAZINE.
When our daughter Emily recently presented us with twins, we were attending the summer gathering of Sisbros, the covenant community-in-dispersion of which we have been a part for nearly a quarter century. Frequent phone calls from the camp's sole pay phone during our five-day gathering established first that the wee ones were finally here, then that both mother and babies were doing fine and that the birth weights were near-normal, and finally that their names would be Liam and Nora. Our community members shared first our anxiety and then our joy with us fully and deeply.
Five weeks later, however, after we had all returned home and resumed our regular routines, we were shocked by an emergency phone call from Emily at the hospital saying "It looks like we're losing Nora." Sure enough, our little granddaughger died the next day of a cerebral hemorrhaage caused by a blood absorption abnormality, and the tragedy was compounded a few hours later when her brother Liam was seized by social services on the groundless charge of child abuse. In our grief and consternation, we once again turned to our Sisbros community, this time by Email and for support and advice on what to do. An intercessory prayer network was immediately set into motion, and many helpful suggestions were sent us for what Emily could do to get her baby back. The rich diversity of experience and expertise in the Sisbros membership was an invaluable resource in this critical situation. Thanks to our and Emily's support systems, Liam was soon back with his nursing mother, and we had many helpful ideas for Nora's memorial service which I conducted some time later.
Although this is only the second Sisbros death to occur so far, this incident reflects the kind of multi-layered support we provide one another. But there is accountability in our community, too, as all subscribe to a written covenant which is reviewed annually and signed by all in a a ritual at the close of our summer gathering.
Sisbros is a faith community of 30-odd members, formed in the mid-70s by seminary students and faculty and their families, who decided to meet together twice a year after the students graduated and moved to their first churches. In the intervening years, about two-thirds of the original members have left the group, but others have been added, making us much morre diverse now than in the early years. Ranging in age from one to 76, we include both lay and clergy, gay and straight, married, single, and divorced, and live throughout the country from California to Massachusetts, and North Carolina to Minnesota.
Some, who were small children when we started, have grown up in the group--which is like an extended family, though in many ways closer because we share common values and commitments. These young adults, some with families of their own, represent a a third generation of Sisbros, their lifestyles and choices strongly influenced by their Sisbros experience. Five family units have had overseas mission experience, two young adults have international spouses/fiances, and group members have funded and participated in two work teams--helping to build a school in Nicaragua and repair a church in Cuba.
These intercultural values and service commitments stem both from community interaction during gatherings and from the written covenant. The covenant involves serious commitments to being present at all gatherings, engaging in both corporate and individual spiritual disciplines, open sharing of our lives and feelings, practicing economic disciplines dealing with the way we earn, spend, and give our money and resources, participating in political activities aimed at systemic change toward a more just society, and engaging in periodic review of our membership status and invitation to new persons to join the communmity.
The covenant preamble reads in part: "Sisbros is a non-geographic community of faith which was created...out of a need for supportive connection and a commitment to social and economic justice. We have grown together in a covenant communmity, sharing specific disciplines which have developed out of our commitment to spirituality, justice and equality in our lives and throughout the world. We are a people of Biblical faith who believe that a liberating God creates us and enables us to be in covenant community. As people of faith we see in Jesus Christ a paradigm for personal wholeness, faithful relationships, and a new order of justice."
This theological statement lays a firm foundation for our activity and accountability, both as individuals and as a community. As individuals, we have supported one another as some have participated in the United Farm Workers grape and lettuce boycotts, in demonstrations to close the School of the Americas, in peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians on the West Bank, in mission work in places like South Korea, Samoa, Chiapas and Cuba, and in civil disobedience of church law by performing same-sex "holy unions" of gay and lesbian couples.
As a group, we have engaged in demonstrations against the South African kruggerand and violent toys and videos, and in support of an abortion clinic and the election of Chicago's erstwhile black mayor, Harold Washington. Twice a year we contribute one percent of our gross income to a pool to be allocated by consensus to peace and justice causes as diverse as the Zimbabwe liberation movement, the black southern woodcutters union, Hispanic youth ministry on Chicago's southwest side, care of the environment, land for small farmers, microloans in third world countries, and lobbying efforts for inclusive church legislation. Over $150,000 has been given away in this fashion since Sisbros began making these grants in 1977.
Recently, as older members have begun to retire and think of making wills and bequests, we have established the Sisbros Social Justice Fund with a denominational foundation. This makes it possible to make tax-deductible contributions over and above the annual two-percent grants, to be dispensed regularly by a small committee to peace and justice agencies according to the same guidelines that govern the regular semiannual grants. These are: projects with a limited base of support, that address strategic peace and justice issues, have potential for making a global impact, for which the amount we give will make a real difference, and in which the direct involvement of at least one Sisbro affirms our work and assures accountability in the use of funds.
The support extended to us in the tragic cirumstances surrounding the birth of our grandbabies is just one example of the way Sisbros sustain each other through prayer and consultation. When Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer and then endured many months of surgery, chemo, radiation, and bone marrow transplants before her premature death at age 46, the group support, in addition to prayer and consultation, included much intimate sharing of hopes and fears, hospital visits by those living nearby, presence with her and husband Ken at the time of her death, and leadership and attendance at her celebrative memorial service. When Tamara's brother committed suicide we were there by her side with comfort and concern. When Ed and Velma struggled in their marriage and eventually decided on divorce, some Sisbros spent hours with them working on their relationship and holding them accountable to both their marriage vows and their concern for each other's well-being.
The group helped Jennifer and Nelda, two recently divorced older women, work through their feelings of rejection and anger. Nelda also received loving care and counsel in the aftermath of being raped twice over several years by the same man. When Ralph and Eleanor were deciding on a career change, significant time at a gathering was devoted to a consultation helping them make this decision. Earl and Rosamond have sought advice on how to deal with their emotionally disturbed daughter. Kelly, who grew up in the community, met his wife-to-be on the Cuba work project, and brought her into the group after they became engaged and later married. When Sarena, her horizons broadened through a childhood of interaction with the group, went off to Europe on a summer travel seminar and ran out of money, Sisbros helped her parents Mike and Esther live through a series of transoceanic phone calls and consultations as she sought the means of getting back home and sorted out the learnings from this unsettling experience.
But engagement in justice causes and support during personal crises are not Sisbros' only priorities. We have great fun when we gather and genuinely enjoy each other's company. A winter gathering would not be complete without a New Year's Eve party in a member's home, the highlight of which is a hilarious game of charades. Summer gatherings are characterized by the annual watermelon seed-spitting contest, nightly games of Trivial Pursuits, roasting s'mores over the campfire, swimming, tennis, sailing, fishing, hiking, and daily games of volleyball in which competitveness is minimized by moving the serve line forward for the children and shifting front lines after each game.
These five-day get-togethers, which are held at a denominational church camp, also involve daily Bible studies and book discussions, informal worship in the out-of-doors, viewing videos correlated with our meeting themes, and workshops on everything from Japanese paper-folding to auto repair, and from rhythmic dance to financial planning. Consultations to helk individuals or families work on issues they are facing grow out of the "kernels"--brief sharings of what's been going on in our lives since the last gathering. Costs for travel, food, and childcare are "socialized" on the basis of income. All maintenance tasks--cooking, dishes, cleanup, etc.--are shared equally, regardless of gender or age.
Another way of not taking ourselves too seriously is how we name and rotate leadership roles. Each day's convener is called a "tyrant" and is appointed by the previous tyrant with no option to decline. The pair who calculate costs and apportion contributions to both the expense and justice pools are "tycoons." The member who listens during kernels and reports on common themes and issues needing consultation is our "bishop." Collect-call reminders to members who have missed the deadline for between-gathering Email updates to all--a contact mandated by our covenant--are made by the "postal tyrant." Our treasurer who receives the semiannual one-percent contributions and disburses grants to peace and justice agencies is the "banker." These authoritarian titles are a good-natured, tongue-in-cheek spoof of our "politically correct" but genuinely deep commitment to egalitarian values and participatory structure.
Mondays are special for Sisbros during the months between our twice-a-year gatherings. (Lately the winter gathering is held only every two years, so on alternate years there are now 11 months between get-togethers.) The covenant calls for us to alter our diet on Mondays--either fasting for one or more meals, eating vegetarian (for those who normally eat meat), or eating something that reminds us of each other and our commitments to simplicity and the environment. Also, we pray for one another on that day, using a list identifying one member or family as a special object of prayer for that week. This is aided by a booklet of photos of members, so we can look at our colleagues' pictures as we pray for them. We also have a specially-prepared liturgy for use at mealtime on Mondays.
With the advent of Email, between-gathering communication has intensified. When a family knows their name is coming up to be prayed for, they might tell us all by Email what they are facing so we can make our prayers more specific. Recommendations on books to read and movies to see are shared. In the years when there is no winter gathering, the consensus decision about how to dispense our one-percent justice fund is made by means of several Email exchanges. Updated address lists, the annually-revised covenant, reminders of gathering responsibilities, and due dates for letters and contributions are also Emailed.
Winter gatherings are a day shorter and held in the Chicago area, with daily meetings in a church and those coming from a distance staying in the homes of nearby members. One significant feature is participation in street actions or demonstrations---such as against the Iraq war--or volunteer service--such as getting out a mailing on justice for gays and lesbians. As in the summer, guides for the book and Bible studies and our informal worship experiences are prepared in advance and led on site by members who had volunteered for this at the previous gathering.
Study and worship themes and resources through the years have included the following: white racism, stewardship of the environment (resource: Quinn, ISHMAEL), globalization and neo-colonialism, Marxism and the Bible, economic justice, sexual abuse (resource: the novel and movie, BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA), social awareness and moral commitment (resource: Hoehn, UP FROM APATHY), middle class powerlessness and social heroism (resource: King, Maynard, and Woodyard, RISKING LIBERATION), and liberation theology--women's, black, and third world.
Members are to read the resources in advance, and the morning discussion format at the gatherings includes an opening exposition or review by the leaders, followed by small group reflection focused on the prepared discussion questions, and a closing sharing time in which insights, action ideas, and implications for our corporate and individual lives are brought from the small groups. This is followed by informal worship, which often involves dance, contemporary songs, brief litanies written by group members, and interaction with the world of nature. The small children, who engage in supervised activity during the study and discussion time, rejoin the group for the participatory worship which is planned with them in mind, and for the afternoon recreational activities--both group and individual.
The Sisbros covenant community is based not primarily on geographical proximity or personal friendship, but on shared social values and faith commitments. Children who grow up in the group are free to stay or leave as they mature. (Only one of our four children is a member, for example. Yet those who each year solemnly sign the covenant do so because they find meaning, support, and direction for their lives through the community's relationships and disciplines.
We need this accountability to keep us faithful to spiritual, economic, and political disciplines that we believe in but sometimes find it difficult to live by on our own. We are sustained in both our commitments and our struggles by the knowledge that Sisbros ae praying for us and are always there for us with spiritual wisdom, practical advice, and a shoulder to cry on. We look forward to our gatherings with both the eager anticipation of being together again and a certain amount of apprehension that we will be confronted with our failures in keeping the covenant. We are regularly challenged to think new thoughts, face our shortcomings, renew our commitments, and deepen our relationship with God and one another.
As our covenant states, "Our communmity life leads us to an ongoing spiritual discipline which raises our awareness of our connections to our Creator, to creation, and especially to suffering people and our threatened environment, and to each other....Believing God has a vision for us now, we feel called to be aware of and struggle intentionally against the many guises of repression and injustice in our world. Our world is created by God in wholeness and for blessing, but is broken by racism, sexism, ageism, economic exploitation, environmental destruction, heterosexism, and other forms of violence. The shalom intended by God calls our lives and our action to respond to this brokenness and to be accountable to each other in our responses."
For us, Sisbros meets a need for and embodies a model of community that fits the mobiliity of our lives and the diversity of our locations, and at the same time moves us deeper and stretches us farther than anything we have found in our families, places of work, or local congregations and communities. It is for us an indispensable source of life, love, and hope.
3. Feedback to Mac Smith on Breakthru Story #5
Oct. 30: Doug FEEDBACK ON #5
Mac, I have read your 20-pge draft and have these comments:
1. The tone reflects a good balance between the personal and the intellectual. It engages, stimulates, informs, and causes one to reflect and want more. I await with interest the fleshing out of the third, fourth, and fifth letters.
2. On p. 4, next to last line of next to last paragraph, do you mean "belief systems" (plural)? Are you pointing to one or several?
3. In the reference to my CPT experience on p. 5, please change "moved to Hebron" to "served in...."
4. I continue to have trouble with your making 9/11 into such a pivotal event. Eg., p. 5, lst sentence of next to last full paragraph--"A picture...that ended 9/11." It was only for people with very limited vision and parochial experience that this made a difference--not all humans.
5.Your frequent use of the phrase "where the universe is going" needs unpacking. At present it implies that you have some cryptic knowledge of this that you are not sharing with the reader. You explained this a bit to me in our conversation (the pre-historic one-cell creatures that "chose freedom)," but it needs some treatment early on in this piece.
6. The phrase "the three God questions" says it for you, but may turn some readers off. They will think you are talking about religion in spite of your demurrers. A phrase like "what it means to be human" or "search for meaning" or "three questions about the purpose of life" might be better.
7. The material on p. 7 raises a whole series of questions but makes no affirmations. Is that what you intend? The reader begins to wonder where this is going.
8. On p. 7, next to last paragraph, it might less prideful to say "attempting to redefine" rather than "redefining the meaning of...."
9. On p.8, your contention that Jews "by an overwhelming margin" are bringing the debate to light may reflect your reading of a particular slice of data, and needs documentation. But is it really necessary to you argument to make this claim at all?
10. On p. 9, you propose a one semester Universe Literacy Catch-up Course, but then drop it and don't come back to it later in the paper. You told me you hope to develop this curriculum. Is it necessary to mention this in this paper? Or perhaps you could put this in a footnote referring to another document where the curriculum is developed.
11. The incongruency between inner and outer worlds discussed on p. 11 is what I call "cognitive dissonance." A helpful book in this area is Richard A. Hoehn, UP FROM APATHY, which recounts people's "conversion" experiences on social issues, and develops a typology of the causative factors involved.
12. Your discussion of tribal gods on p. 12 and elsewhere calls to mind Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, IS RELIGION KILLING US? a book I mentioned in our conversation. His thesis is that the sacred writings of all 3 monotheistic religions emphasize the "violence of God" principle as a central theme.
13. Your mention of God as "deepest reality" on p. 12 and elsewhere is reminiscent of Paul Tillich's idea of the Ground of Being. See his 2 books of sermons, THE NEW BEING and THE SHAKING OF THE FOUNDATIONS.
14. I believe that "God's gamble" (p.13) has been being put to the test from the Garden of Eden on, not just in the present crisis. The events of 9/11 may have brought this to light in a new way for Americans, but there is more continuity to this issue than you allow for.
15. The 2 questions on the final exam (p. 13) are cognitive, intellectual questions about the meaning and purpose of life. My late Garrett colleague Paul Hessert, in his IN LIEU OF MEANING, argues quite convincingly that the search for meaning is a blind alley and an attempt to escape from God. Life simply does not make rational sense. Our aim must be not to try to understand, but simply to trust God.
16. In the middle of p. 13, would it be better to say "help young people find hope" rather than "give them hope?" Can we really give them hope, or only guide them in discovering it for themselves?
17. On p. 14, "the innate process of creation..." is a faith statement. Can we really know or get in touch with these, or do we just BELIEVE (trust) that they exist, and live our lives as though it were so?
18. There is some repetition on p. 14, of what has been said earlier.
19. On p. 14, can we, in our own strength, avoid the Black Hole?
20. On p. 16, thanks for expounding Francis Bacon's warning. This reference mystified me in your earlier draft
21. On p. 10, I agree that faculty are co-learners, but doesn't their experience and maturity qualify them to serve as guides as well? Not to tell or inform but to facilitate the search.
Thanks, Mac, for sharing this with me. I look forward to further conversation. Doug
P.S. We'll be away about 3 weeks--in Tucson and Copper Canyon--but hope to hear from you when I get back.
PPS. Thanks for the cherry tomatoes. We are enjoying them.