Picture Perfect in Scotland
I want to thank you most sincerely for very kindly including the
photograph of Kirkmichael Parish Church, here in Scotland, in the splendid
collage that forms the cover [summer/fall 2002]
of inSpire. I was more than delighted to see this when my copy arrived
this morning, and I know it will generate much excitement when I tell the
congregation on Sunday morning. The congregation is a small but
hard-working and committed gathering of mostly rural people—whose
18th-century church means much to them. This is in fact the third church
on this site. Christian worship here goes back some 700 years!
We are very touched by this gesture, and I know that it will bring much
happiness to the hearts of those lovely people here who I’m extremely
privileged to serve.
W. Gerald Jones (’83M)
Thankful for Professor Loder
The Princeton community lost a truly wonderful professor last November
with the death of Dr. James Loder. As we approach the Thanksgiving season,
I will remember him and be thankful for his approach to helping students.
He never imposed his opinion; he always encouraged us to think for
ourselves. During my tenure at Princeton as I faced the challenge of being
a student, a wife, and a new mom, he was a treasure and an inspiration to
me in many ways—not only in his teaching, but also in the way he lived and
served the Princeton and surrounding communities.
Delores Ferguson Richardson (’67E)
Disclaiming the Palestine Disclaimer
The editors of inSpire received a number of letters from people upset
about inclusion of a disclaimer at the end of Christine Caton’s article,
“Peacemaking in the Israeli/Palestinian War Zone” [summer/fall
2002, page 37]. It said, “The views expressed by the author do not
necessarily represent those of Princeton Theological Seminary.”
One reader wrote, “What a pity that the views expressed by Christine
Caton, who is courageously making peace in the Israeli-occupied
Palestinian territories, ‘do not necessarily represent those of Princeton
Theological Seminary.’” Readers used words like “disappointed,”
“dismayed,” “scandalized,” and “awful.” One wondered, “Why does a cry for
justice for the Palestinian people and a factual account of one person’s
experience of the gross injustice being inflicted upon them...require such
a noncommittal statement? This is when the church and its institutions
must speak out, both for the sake of the suffering Palestinians and for
the integrity of our Christian witness.”
All the letters asked why this article, and none of the others, was
appended by the disclaimer.
We acknowledge that many articles are printed that do not represent the
views of the entire Seminary community without a disclaimer attached, but
realize that the issues taken up in Caton’s article are especially
contentious, with strong opinions on both sides (both in Israel and the
U.S.) about how peace in the Middle East can be achieved.
Having earlier printed another article that also expressed a
Palestinian perspective [“The
Hopes and Fears of All the Years,” winter 2001, pp. 5–6], and
receiving comments from some of the Jewish faith who were concerned about
the lack of an Israeli perspective, the editors included the disclaimer to
highlight the fact that Princeton Seminary does not have an official
position about the political solution or the assignment of political blame
in this tragic situation. The editors also wish to express that the
Seminary stands emphatically behind Ms. Caton, is proud of her work, and
continues to pray for the ongoing situation in the Middle East. Finally,
the author was comfortable with, and gave her permission for, the use of
In response to the letters from our readers, and in order to avoid
similar misunderstanding in the future, we have decided the best way
forward is to add a disclaimer to inSpire’s masthead on page one
that says, “The views expressed in inSpire may not necessarily represent those
of Princeton Theological Seminary.” This will cover the entire magazine
and preclude the need to add disclaimers to specific articles in the
Protesting Military Chaplains
often claimed that PTS’s main interests, under an ideological cloak of
ministry, were really twofold: wealth and power. But your glamorization of
military chaplains in the pages of the spring
2002 inSpire really hit a new low. A minister in uniform is
Thirty years ago—during the Vietnam War—I led a demonstration outside a
convention of military chaplains in Seattle. Nothing in the last three
decades has done anything to raise my estimation of the position. The best
thing current chaplains could do would be to resign in protest over the
brutal empire our nation has become.
How about a feature story on alumni/ae of PTS who have worked for peace
and justice causes from the time they were in seminary—and never stopped?
Now that would be a story worth telling!
Bruce Cameron (’73B)
(Mis)interpreting a Hymn?
Professor Sally A. Brown [“Preaching
That Fosters ‘Ecclesial’ Identity,” summer/fall 2002, page 14] uses
the gospel song “I Come to the Garden Alone” as a symbol of the mistaken
emphasis on individualized spirituality.
She notes that the song “is intended to evoke the resurrection
appearance to Mary in the burial garden on Easter morning,” which is what
the author claimed, but declares that “the hymn’s text omits Jesus’
commissioning of Mary to go back to the gathered community of disciples to
preach the good news, thus severing personal encounter with Jesus from its
I am ambivalent about the song, although many in both my congregations
love it. I find it overly sentimental, I dislike the voice of Jesus being
described as “sweet,” and in addition I oppose the notion that “the joy we
share as we tarry there, none other has ever known”—which seems as if one
is bragging about winning some sort of contest, and which ignores the deep
relationship with Christ of all people around us as well as those
Nonetheless, I think Professor Brown is mistaken when she says that the
song omits the commissioning of Mary. In verse three, the author depicts
Mary Magdalene as wanting to stay in the garden with the risen Christ, but
she is not allowed to do so: “But he bids me to go.” What is this but a
reflection of John 20:17b, where Jesus tells Mary to carry the good news
to his not-yet-understanding/believing disciples?
The next section of verse three is intriguing: “Through the voice of
woe, his voice to me is calling.” Does that mean that the voice of the
risen Christ comes to us with comfort as we struggle with the sorrows of
life? Or does that mean that Jesus speaks to us by means of “the voice of
woe,” calling us to mission?
I take it as the second, for was that not the situation of the
disciples? Jesus was commissioning Mary to take his joy to their grief,
the good news of his resurrection to their sorrow that Jesus was dead,
defeated, and destroyed, only another false messiah. The voice of their
woe was that through which Jesus called Mary to proclaim and demonstrate
the life-changing, world-transforming gospel of his cross and
resurrection. So it is with us.
One thing more: when we sing this gospel song in church, even though it
focuses on Mary’s individual experience, it is an ecclesial act, whereby
all of us singing identify ourselves with Mary Magdalene in her sin and
forgiveness, in her tears and despair, in her joy as the risen Christ
calls her by name, in her mission as she’s sent forth in his name.
David Robert Black (’75M)
Editor’s Notes: The burn victim mentioned in the Student Life
article about Danny Thomas’s experiences in Uganda [summer/fall
2002, page 11] was released from the hospital this past summer and is
living in Jinja, Uganda, hoping for plastic surgery.
With sadness, we report the death of Julia Robinson, featured in an
Outstanding in the Field article in the
spring 2002 issue of
[page 36]. Now that the grip of suffering and sorrow has been loosed,
we trust that her new life with God is boundlessly joyful.