Summer/Fall 2002
Volume 7 Number 1
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

   

From the Army Chief of Chaplains

I enjoyed reading the article [in the spring 2002 issue] about the chaplaincy and the chaplains who graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. Your periodical did a wonderful job of telling the story of our chaplains’ ministries. The articles were excellent. The ministry of the chaplains to America’s sons and daughters who are in the military is a great story to tell. Thanks for telling it.

Gaylord T. Gunhus (’76M), Chaplain (Major General), United States Army Chief of Chaplains
Washington, D.C.

An Act of Greater Love

In reading the spring issue of inSpire, I noticed the article on military chaplains and particularly the story of George S. Rentz (Class of 1909). I read with great interest the account of his death while serving as a chaplain aboard the USS Houston, which was sunk during the Battle of the Java Sea in the early days of World War II.

I was deeply moved by his heroic act of giving up his lifejacket to a younger seaman. I had the privilege of working for a number of years with a man who had also been aboard the Houston and who had survived its sinking. My friend spent the remainder of the war as a POW in Japan. After the war he returned home and finished out a distinguished career in the navy, and was an active and committed Presbyterian elder. Indeed, he still is, though now in his early 90s.

As I read the article, I couldn’t help but wonder if my friend had been that young seaman for whom Commander Rentz had given up his lifejacket. Of course, he probably wasn’t, but the thought made even more real for me Rentz’s truly sacrificial act of greater love, and further deepened my appreciation for my friend’s years of faithful service to the church, which may well have been inspired by that act.

Jesse B. Garner
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Commendation for Chaplains

Another excellent issue. I especially appreciated the article about chaplains [spring 2002. I served as a consultant/trainer for 23 years at army and navy chaplains schools. The chaplains were almost without exception among the finest and most dedicated religious leaders with whom I had the privilege of working in 34 years of consulting with clergy. Their ecumenical spirit, respect for each other, and ability to adapt to changing situations and circumstances, as well as their courage in the face of danger, were among the strengths that I noted.

Tom Brown (’59B, ’62M)
Pensacola, Florida

Unexpected Ministry with the Military

I am encouraged to learn, from “For God and Country” [spring 2002], that there are chaplains doing grad work and there are students preparing for the chaplaincy. After a stint in the army during World War II, and then developing a ministry with the military personnel in the Fairbanks, Alaska, area for my internship in 1952–1953, I almost found myself re-upping as a chaplain. But I became so intent on the ministry that I did have with military personnel after my graduation and return to Alaska, that I woke up one day to find that when I wanted to become a chaplain, I was too old.

The article was most appreciated.

Neil Munro (’54B)
Spokane, Washington

Correction:

Margaret Kibben (’86B) was misidentified as “the first female navy chaplain” in the article on military chaplains [spring 2002, p. 13]. This error was brought to our attention by David Chambers (’45B), who shared, “By the time Margaret had come along we had already put Mary Ann Collins-Stauffer (’80B), Bonnie Deppenbrock (’81B), Joan Hendrick (Wooten), and perhaps others on active duty in the navy. But the first was Dianna Pohlman, PTS Class of 1973, who was the first female chaplain in the army, air force, or navy. Dianna was the pioneer. She was assigned just as any other chaplain would have been; not to a dependent’s ward in a hospital and not to a women’s recruit battalion. It was very difficult—this was breaking ground for the military, the chaplaincy, and many of her colleagues who had not yet accepted women clergy. Margaret Kibben came along about 10 years later.”

inSpire offers its sincerest apologies to the Reverend Dianna Pohlman Bell and to the navy chaplaincy.

Editor’s Note: We have received a number of other letters about the feature on military chaplaincy. We will print them in the winter 2003 issue.

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A Roommate Remembers…

We have followed closely the tributes to Dr. James Loder in inSpire and the Princeton Seminary Bulletin and wish to add some information. I was Jim’s roommate in Alexander Hall for part of 1954–1955, and he was our friend at the Seminary from 1953 to 1956. I cannot forget that my roommate was often awake half the night reading philosophy and psychology while I slept. It was astounding what trouble he took to advance his knowledge—a trait that stayed with him, apparently, all his life.

We again met Jim in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968–1969. He had become associate professor and was on sabbatical from Princeton. Jim was studying with the Swiss psychologist and specialist in pedagogy, Jean Piaget, of the University of Geneva.

During that time, Jim and his family were living at Cologny, and we were living at Celigny. I was finishing my D.Theol. at the University of Basel, commuting weekly. Quite a surprise when I met Jim at the library of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey. As families we met several times that year, and after the Loders left their chalet, “La Pastourelle,” we rented it for a couple years, before settling permanently in the same area.

Charles Graves (’56B)
Geneva, Switzerland

Please email — we love to hear from you!


We welcome correspondence from our readers. Email should be addressed to:
inSpire@ptsem.edu
Messages may be edited for length or clarity, and should include the writer’s name, telephone numbers, and city and state or country.



 

A Lasting Influence

Thank you so much for the wonderful articles about Professor James Loder [spring 2002]. Although I never had theJim Loder relaxes on the Seminary quad in a recent photo. opportunity to meet Dr. Loder, his book, The Transforming Moment, was one of the reasons I chose to apply to Princeton for my Doctor of Ministry degree.

James Loder is and will continue to be missed. His giant presence, however, will be with us in his writings. We can take some comfort in the truth that Dr. Loder’s physical body could no longer hold his adventurous soul, and that he continues to teach his own particular brand of passionate spirituality in the next world.

James R. Newby (’92P)
Des Moines, Iowa

Loder and India

Thank you for a wonderful issue of inSpire [spring 2002]. The tributes to Dr. James Loder were touching and the write-up on India was very interesting. However, I wish you had perspectives on Dr. Loder from outside the U.S. also. His teaching touched other lands. And in the coverage you gave India I missed any reference to women candidates in the Ph.D. program.

I offer a perspective from India, where Dr. Loder’s theory of transformation has been taken from its erudite level in academia to the grassroots level. A Christian education curriculum brought out by the India Sunday School Union is based on the theory of transformation. Dr. Loder’s former students Elizabeth A. Frykberg (’77M, ’89D) and I served as the chief editor and associate editor of the series. To coincide with the release of the first few books in June 1997, Dr. Loder was kind enough to give a series of lectures on the theory of transformation to ecumenical audiences in Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Bangalore, and Coonoor. The people were blessed by his lectures and more particularly by his life in the Spirit.

The only two women Ph.D. students from India at PTS are Glory Jothi Thomas and Atola Longkumer. Glory graduated this year as the first Indian woman to complete a Ph.D. from PTS. Her dissertation is on the church’s response to women’s concerns and is a historical analysis of the mission and ministry of the Church of South India in Kerala. Atola is writing her dissertation on the religious conversion of the Nagas from Shamanism to Christianity. Her determination and dedication inspire many of us.

I hope some day you can do a story on these women.

Ajit A. Prasadam (Ph.D. student)
Coonoor, India

Editor’s Note:

The editors asked PTS professor Richard Young to respond to a letter to the editor in the spring 2002 issue of inSpire. His response follows.

Making Room for the Qur’an

Allow me to rectify an innocent error that crept into inSpire’s otherwise accurate coverage of the September 28th, 2001, chapel service at which Imam Hamad Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey addressed the Seminary community. In your article (“Muslim Imam Leads Chapel Service,” winter 2002), the following is reported: “Refusing Young’s offer to remove the Bible from the pulpit before he spoke, Chebli told worshipers that the Torah, the New Testament, and the Qur’an all reveal the same God, and all were given to the human community for edification.” This was substantially—but not entirely—correct. The italicized words, unfortunately, misrepresent what the imam actually said. Were it not for the misattribution to me of an invidious motive by an offended reader, George Hancock-Stefan, who writes that he was “deeply offended by [my] willingness to remove [the Bible] so that [I] would not offend the visiting guest” (“Welcome Dialogue without Forgetting Faith,” spring 2002), the matter would be too trivial to address.

The background is this. Though not a stranger to the Seminary, Imam Chebli was unfamiliar with Miller Chapel. I therefore thought it helpful to give him an orientation. When we came to the pulpit, I noticed that the Bible on it—a hefty Oxford “Family Bible”—took up virtually all the available lectern space. Concerned that Imam Chebli’s equally hefty copy of the Qur’an might unceremoniously slide to the floor if placed directly on top of the open pulpit Bible, I wondered aloud if I shouldn’t “put the Bible aside.” By that I meant to one side of the pulpit—to that part of it which I have called, for wont of a better technical term, the “lectern space”—so as to make room for the Qur’an. A tape recording of the service that followed confirms that Imam Chebli, who referred to my having wondered whether I should “put the Bible aside,” understood me correctly. As his subsequent remarks (cited above) indicate, the Imam had reasons of his own for wanting the Bible to remain on the pulpit—right where it was.

When inSpire reported that I had offered “to remove the Bible from the pulpit,” I winced. After all, “remove” and “put aside” can be construed very differently—depending on the context. So here you have the context, Mr. Hancock-Stefan. I trust that you are now disabused of any lingering misapprehension that making room for the Qur’an implied on my part an embarrassment about the Bible! If, moreover, my subjective state of mind at the time had been one of embarrassment, would I have stood in the pulpit for a public reading of Scripture? That I did (from Genesis)—as did others (Professor Paul Rorem in the call to worship and Professor Mark Taylor in the benediction, though not, of course, from the pulpit)—suggests that the title of the inSpire article was likewise inadvertently misleading. Imam Chebli did not “lead” the service. What transpired was that our Muslim neighbor—in the context of Christian worship—addressed the Seminary community on issues of enormous concern to all people of faith and to people of all faiths in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 incidents. Be assured, Sir, that even though room was made for the Qur’an on the pulpit, the Bible was nevertheless very much in evidence that day in Miller Chapel.

Richard Fox Young
PTS professor of the history of religions

Editor’s Note: Many people responded to the story about Julia Robinson [spring 2002]. She received more than 20 cards and letters, each of which she found very encouraging. She continues to struggle; she continues to be thankful for life. And Robinson continues to welcome those who would like to write to her.


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