Happy Days Are There Again

Some nostalgia kick we’re on here in the United States.

I’ll say. Ah, the nineteen twenties. What an exciting time to be alive. Gatsby. And Lindbergh flying across the Atlantic, all alone. And flappers.

And the depression.

That must have been mellow. Then there were the thirties. The years of F.D.R. and social ferment.

My parents hated the New Deal.

They did? But the forties really turned things around, didn’t they? That was the last of the great wars, the ones worth fighting for.

My cousin lost his life at Normandy and my brother lost his faith on Okinawa.

The fifties. Have you seen “Happy Days” on TV? You’ll have to admit that those were the years, that being alive then was really terrific.

I read someone’s comment about that show. He said they’ve got it all wrong. He was a teen-ager during the fifties and it wasn’t at all like that. His face was all broken out in pimples and he couldn’t get a date, his old man was high on Joe McCarthy, and his mother spent all her time on Moral Re-Armament.

So you’re a pessimist. I still think those decades beginning with the twenties were terrific.

I do, too. And the tremendous perception people have of them shows the inevitability of human regress. By the way, wait until the year 2000 if you want to find out how good the seventies are.


Of Rare Magnitude

You have done the modern church a great service in publishing Tom Howard’s article, “God Before Birth: The Imagery Matters” (Dec. 17). Rare indeed is the coming to light of an article of such magnitude.


Gadiz, Ohio

Thomas Howard is one of these rare writers one looks forward to reading. Rather than just stating the evangelical creeds or lamenting their demise, he reclothes them so that their splendor shines and almost re-enacts them so that we are assaulted with their daring, and we find ourselves involuntarily catching our breath in surprise. He has that imagination and verbal honesty and exactness that made Dorothy Sayers and C. S. Lewis such apt witnesses—an exactness absent from the jargon of most non-classical theologians and most cliché-bound conservatives.

Just because Howard is so good, I want to speak one word of complaint about his [latest] article. Here his honesty and exactness fled before innuendo and spleen. He calls them gnostics, heretics, those modern Christians he claims reject the distinctions between male and female, and wish that the Bible hadn’t spoken of God as King or Father, or had used the imagery of Son, when Daughter would have done as well. Well enough; those words stand in the Bible. My complaint is that he seems to be slaying other dragons as he swings his sword at the likes of Mary Daly. Are we to understand that the fact that Jesus was male means that God is male, the Second Person of the Trinity male? If so, then are women not made in the image of God? Or is he slyly indicting women who think if you call them subordinate, you also are calling them inferior? Is he secretly castigating those who think Paul should be ignored when he commands women to be silent in church? Does he want female missionaries to cease catechizing male converts because Paul does not suffer a women to teach men? What is he doing when he labels “gnostic” people who wince at some of the biblical imagery, or the uses Christians have made of that imagery?

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The biblical imagery stands; Howard is correct there. But the inferior (yes) place of women in biblical times is clearly the result of sin (Gen. 3:1–16), a sinfulness nailed to the cross (along with slavery, murder, pride, and the rest) and overcome in Jesus Christ. We believe in the Incarnation. Do we believe in the Victory?


Professor of Religious Studies

Justin Morrill College

Michigan State University

E. Lansing, Mich.

Tarnishing The Sacred

May I register my disapproval of the drawing on your December 17 cover. There are some sacred mysteries which to some extent are tarnished by crude attempts at pictorialization. The whole thing seemed to me to be highly distasteful, and especially ill suited to your otherwise fine magazine.



Department of Education and the Ministry

Church of the Nazarene

Kansas City, Mo.

Bravo on your Christmas cover! It was the best possible gift you could have given your readers. Not only was it aesthetically pleasing but theologically it was more than satisfying—it was superb. Congratulations to Art Director David Singer. The commissioning of that cover was a stroke of theological relevance applicable to our society at this particular Christmas time. It is as fine a theological statement as one could find inside the cover. I plan to have a reproduction of that cover hung in my office.


Executive Director

Christian Action Council

Washington, D.C.

No Smoke For Sunday

As a native New Yorker and a train buff of four decades I must take issue with the first sentence of William Coleman’s “Billy Sunday: A Style Meant For His Time and Place” (Dec. 17). It would be very doubtful that Billy Sunday ever arrived in New York to be greeted by three thousand people close to “the smoke-belching train.”

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John A. Droege in his book PassengerTerminals and Trains states that in 1903 New York City passed legislation that required substitution of electricity for steam as power for trains. On June 21, 1912, the last track of the old steam depot was out of service and the new Grand Central fully electrified was in service. Thus in 1917 all trains were coming into New York (Penn Station included) by electric power.

A small detail but fun to point out. Keep up the good work and sharpen journalistic accuracy—at least where trains are concerned!


Volunteer Park Seventh-day Adventist Church

Seattle, Wash.

The Influence Of the Orange

In his article “Ulster Christians: No Middle Ground” (Dec. 3), Ronald E. Wilson makes a significant point when he says, “The Queen’s University students who kicked off the present spate of troubles in 1968 were declared Marxists.” It is hardly an accident that the present Northern Irish turmoil commenced in a year which has been described as “the year of the urban guerrilla,” and the student-oriented “People’s Democracy” supplied much of the initial thrust. Two years before there was some evidence that radical elements planned to exploit grievances and organize marches and protests in order to promote confrontations with the police and violence on the streets.

Wilson has accepted all too easily certain illusions when he describes the July 12 demonstrations thus: “Thousands of orange-sashed marchers with bowler hats, beating large drums, parade through the streets.” If he or any visitor took the opportunity to watch any of the parades, they would see few orangemen with bowler hats and even fewer large drums (apart from the single large drum which forms part of every band). And if the records of the last half-century were examined, it would be found that few of the July 12 celebrations were occasions for violence. Regarding the influence of the Orange Order, it is easy to exaggerate this in the Ulster situation. A Committee of the Irish Presbyterian Church in a recently published “Report on Loyalism” says, “It is questionable whether the Order has such a dominating influence in politics as is sometimes ascribed to it by outsiders not least by Irish Roman Catholics. Comparison might be made with the ideas sometimes held by Protestants regarding the political activities and influence exercised by the Roman Catholic priesthood and hierarchy.”


Belfast, Northern Ireland

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