What an Hour!
The excellent profile of Dr. Otto Piper [summer/fall
2001] brought to mind instantly a high point of my years at Princeton. It happened when our exegesis class studied Matthew 16, the well-known passage: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Dr. Otto Piper opened the class with prayer and then in that quiet voice we all remember so well, he said, “Gentlemen, today I suggest that you close your notebooks.”
What an hour! With his great scholarship he proceeded to “open the Scripture.” Yet more. He shared with us the accumulated wisdom of his many years and his personal faith and understanding of the Christ. That hour affected my theology and my personal faith in the Christ until this day. And it sealed my devotion to a beloved professor.
Carl J. C. Wolf (’43B)
More Praise for Dr. Piper
Thanks so much for your article on Otto Piper in your summer/fall 2001 issue of
inSpire. It brought back wonderful memories of having taken one of the last courses he taught on the book of Isaiah. I clearly remember him arriving at every class session with a Bible in one hand and a copy of the
Times in the other. He would often begin class reading a passage from Isaiah and then one from the
Times. I wish more of our pastors would at least figuratively follow this practice in the pulpit.
Tom Haller (’64B)
I would like to thank you for an outstanding job [in the winter
issue] on September 11 coverage. It could well be a classic coverage for the response of the Presbyterian Church, pastors, and the world community. A job very well done.
William H. Bender (’54B)
The Finest Issue Ever
Thank you for what is perhaps the finest edition of
inSpire ever [winter 2002]. The excellent articles by
Diogenes Allen [pages 10–11] and
Paul Rorem [pages 12–13] are timely and to a greatly needed point in today’s climate of commercialized “spirituality.” “Windows on a Shattered World” [pages 20–26] shares in a deeply meaningful way some of the responses to the events of September 11 and following. This issue gives me pride in PTS.
Tom Brown (’59B,’62M)
I want to express appreciation to you for “Given in Love” [winter 2002, page 29], regarding the Princeton Seminary martyrs. Your mention of the 300 Korean Presbyterian pastors who met violent deaths was very important to place alongside that of the American citizens who gave their lives. I have heard it said that the 20th century witnessed more martyrs than any of the other centuries since Christ.
The tribute to James Reeb by Martin Luther King Jr. [pages 28–29] was very appropriate. We thank God for men like him.
John H. Sinclair (’47B)
Esther’s Story Revised?
The scenario of events at the PTS chapel service with the Muslim imam provides an interesting revision of the Esther story from which the title of the article
[winter 2002] is taken. Haman has covertly convinced the king to execute the Jews. The Jews respond with fasting and mourning. Mordecai appears at the palace gate in sackcloth and ashes. Esther dispatches a new suit of clothes to him and convinces him to dress like the other Babylonians. He does so. He tells Esther of the death threat and suggests that she approach the king. Esther responds by saying, “As queen it would not be proper to break a law, and besides, their God was the same as a Babylonian God. Further, having come ‘to royal dignity’ provides an opportunity for me to help my people blend in with the rest.”
David F. Hartzfeld
A Response from England
We were all here greatly shocked by the events of September 11. It must have been difficult for you with the theme of spirituality in prospect for
inSpire. I thought the issue was very well done and will help us here to understand something of the reactions to such an act of terror.
I think both students and all citizens need more education in the beliefs of others—and there are small groups of fanatics in all faiths. I find a great lack of knowledge among church members not only of Islam but also of Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. This despite the fact that we rub shoulders with members of these faiths daily.
I was also interested in the story on the lectures given by my friend J. Wentzel van Huyssteen with John
Polkinghorne. I did not know that the latter had been knighted. He does deserve such recognition.
May God bless you all at this serious time.
Robert Crawford (’56b)
Welcome Dialogue without Forgetting Faith
In reading the article “For Such a Time As This” [winter 2002, page 18], I was impressed with the imam’s decision to leave the Bible on the pulpit, but deeply distressed by Dr. Young’s willingness to remove it so that he would not offend the visiting guest. I am distressed because in a number of other ecumenical encounters in which I participated the Christian Reformed position was so diluted it was hardly recognizable.
A short time ago, a petition was circulated in our county for ministers to sign so that a mosque could be built nearby. I agreed to sign it and then asked if the Saudi imam would be willing to travel with me so that we could get a similar petition for a church in Saudi Arabia. The Christian pastor who circulated the petition considered my idea preposterous.
I welcome dialogue, but I pray we will remember that we represent the Christian faith and that our brothers and sisters living in countries where Muslims are in the majority have not experienced the Islamic gentility that Imam Chebli described.
George Hancock-Stefan (’83M)
Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey
Our Lost Saints
Many thanks for the good piece on Jim Reeb and the abridged version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s eulogy for Jim [winter
Jim Reeb was a real mentor as well as a warm and gentle spirit for those of us PTS students who had the Saturday privilege of traveling to Philadelphia for a year of clinical pastoral education at Philadelphia General Hospital where Jim was the chaplain. I daresay it was one of the best experiences of our seminary years.
Even then, Jim Reeb was in a struggle for both a deeper faith and a more relevant faith, hence his migration to the Unitarians and then the Quakers. He had a quiet understanding of and identification with those suffering injustice and as I recall found our own Presbyterian family at that time not open enough or responsive to the emerging opportunities and social upheaval. It seems like only yesterday that we so quickly learned of his death from a baseball bat over the head.
I remember also his wife, Marie, and their children, like him engaged in and committed to the ministry of Roxbury. Though we remember Jim with considerable gratitude and affection, I have often wondered what became of his family—for they also, like the families of September 11, paid a high price and stand as heroes rarely counted when we are in the business of recalling our institutional saints. Indeed, how much “we are bound together in the bundle of life.”
Paul R. Miller (’55B)
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Editor’s note: An audiotape of Martin Luther King Jr.’s eulogy for James Reeb was only rediscovered last year—through research by the Unitarian Universalist Association. We were especially pleased to share this eulogy with our readers because the winter 2002 issue of
inSpire was just the second time it has appeared in print. We also received other notes of gratitude for printing it.
The credit line for Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem “For Warmth” was inadvertently omitted from page 25 of the winter 2002 issue. The poem was reprinted from
Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh (1999) by Thich Nhat
Hanh, with permission of Parallax Press, Berkeley, California.