Blog Comment And Discussion on African Charismatic Movement

One of my brothers posted a site, that, I think, puts in relief various perceptions of the gospel, right belief, and meaningful worship:

My premise on this blog is “By their fruits you will know them.”  I wonder, how might  that apply?


Karen Armstrong: On God, Love, Religion and Science

Thank you, Big Think for portions of your interview of Karen Armstrong, posted at:


What religious thinkers have influenced you most?

Karen Armstrong:

Well, I never intended to be a historian of religion. My aim was to become a professor of English Literature in a university, but I had a series of absolute career disasters and found myself making television programs about the nature of religion and about Christian history and started to discover about other religious traditions, and that was an absolute eye-opener for me because, in fact, the study of the traditions doesn’t necessarily make you want to convert to another tradition, but it helps you to see your own differently and expands your outlook. So, I learned a lot from both, initially Jewish and Muslim theologians that had been missing, perhaps from my rather parochial Catholic upbringing.

From the Rabbis of the early Talmudic age I learned that there is never a last word on God. There’s, you always continue to question. Even God himself could be questioned and you can keep arguing with one another and there will be no end to this conversation about the divine because no human expression of God can be ultimate.

From the Muslims I learned from the extraordinary pluralism of the Koran, the fact that the Koran endorses every single one of the major world faiths, but I was particularly enthralled by the Sufi tradition, the mystical tradition of Islam, which is so open to other religious faiths. It’s quite common for a Sufi mystic to cry in ecstasy that he’s neither a Jew, a Christian, nor a Muslim. He is at home equally in a synagogue, a mosque, a temple, or a church because when one’s glimpsed the divine, one’s left these man-made distinctions behind. There’s on quotation I discovered very early in my researches, very early, and it just opened huge doors to me. It’s by the major Sufi philosopher/mystic, Ebbon Arabi who lived in the 12th and 13th century and is still deeply studied by Muslims today. And it goes like this: “Do not praise your own faith exclusively so that you disbelieve all the rest. If you do this, you will miss much good, neigh, you will miss the whole truth of the matter. God, the omnipotent, undulmissioned, cannot be confined by any one creed. For he says in the Koran, wheresoever he turn, there is the face of Allah. Everybody praises what he knows. His God is his own creature and in praising it, he praises himself, which he would not do if he were just. But his dislike is based on ignorance.”

I suppose from the time I read that, one of my objectives was to knock down those barriers of ignorance that hold us pack from that kind of openhearted appreciation of the unanimity of the human quest for the divine.


Who or what is God?

Karen Armstrong:

We can’t say, and that’s my answer to you. We can’t say what God is, and until the modern period, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians in the three God religions all knew that. They insisted that we have no idea what we meant when we said that God was good, or wise, or intelligent. God is not good, or wise, or intelligent anyway that we know. So, people like Maimonides in the Jewish tradition, Eboncina in the Muslim tradition, Thomas Aquinas in the Christian tradition, insisted that we couldn’t even say that God existed because our concept of existence is far too limited and they would have been horrified by the ease with which we talk about God today.

When I was a young girl, I had to learn this definition of God. “God is the supreme spirit who alone, exists of himself, and is infinite in all perfections.” Now, I always found that rather dull and I was eight years old when I learned that and it really didn’t mean very much to me. But I now also think it’s incorrect because it takes it for granted that it’s possible simply to draw breath and define – and the word define means literally to set limits upon a reality that has to go beyond anything we think or know.

The trouble with a lot of modern theology and a lot of modern thinking about God, is that we think of God a sort of being like ourselves, but bigger and better with likes and dislikes similar to our own. Now, as the great Protestant theologian, Paul Tillich said, “That’s an idolatry. That’s making a God in our own image.” And that’s where some of the awful atrocities of religion happened when people assume that God shares your likes and dislikes. The Crusaders when into battle to kill Muslims and Jews and cried, “God will’s it.” That was their battle cry. Obviously God willed no such thing. The Crusaders were simply projecting onto a deity they’d created on their own image and likeness, all their hatred and loathing of these faiths and made it endorse some of their most awful prejudices and lethal prejudices. And modern terrorists do the same. And that is why the theologians insisted before the modern period, that it was really better to approach God in silence.

In ancient India, they developed what I think is an authentic model of theological discourse, religious talk about the ultimate. It was called the Remaja Competition. The priests would go out into the forests; we’re talking about the 10th century before Christ. And they would make a retreat and put themselves into a different frame of mind. And that’s very important, because you can’t talk about God in the same way as you would have an argument with a colleague or discuss an abstruse point in law, in politics, or in business. You put yourself in the receptive frame of mind with which we approach music or poetry, which you can measure the difference on a neurological scanner. When they came back the priests would begin the competition and the challenger would kick off and give a description of the Brahman, the ultimate reality that lay beyond the Gods. He would pour into this definition all that he could think, all his knowledge and insight and found a verbal formula, puzzling, illusive, and difficult. But that’s what Brahman is.

And then his opponents would have to build on that and respond to him. But the person who won the competition was the person who reduced all of his opponents to silence. And it was in that silence that the Brahman was present. The Brahman was not present in the wordy definitions. It was present only in the stunning realization of the impotence of speech. And Christian, Jewish, and Muslim theologians all developed similar disciplines, similar rituals, to help people realize that when we talk about God we are at the end of what words and thoughts can do.

Well, nowadays, we’ve forgotten all about that. We talk about God as though he was like a **** or somebody. We ask him to bless our nation, or save our Queen, or give us a fine day for the picnic. And we actually expect him to be on our side in an election or war even though our opponents are also God’s children.

So, we think about God far to easily and that’s because of a lot of social, intellectual, and scientific changes that have taken place in the western world and that has made God very problematic for a lot of people.

St. Augustine, founder of the western Christian tradition, said that if a biblical text seems to teach hate and violence, you have to give it an allegorical interpretation and make it speak charity even if this distorts the meaning of the original biblical author, and the rabbis in the Talmudic age do the same. Somehow this has to be orchestrated and now we’ve got onboard in the charter, at this moment about 140 partners, worldwide, and they have their own website, and these people have all been working on this, but independently, in isolation. Now we can all work together and create a global grassroots network. Thousands of people are signing onto the charter online, and that means an act of commitment. We’ll keep them informed. We want to create, never mind the leaders or the bishops or chief rabbis or imams, or Popes. We want to create a grassroots movement where people will become attuned to uncompassionate discourse in the same way as we are now attuned to sort of gender imbalance in our speech.

. . .

St. Augustine, founder of the western Christian tradition, said that if a biblical text seems to teach hate and violence, you have to give it an allegorical interpretation and make it speak charity even if this distorts the meaning of the original biblical author, and the rabbis in the Talmudic age do the same. Somehow this has to be orchestrated and now we’ve got onboard in the charter, at this moment about 140 partners, worldwide, and they have their own website, and these people have all been working on this, but independently, in isolation. Now we can all work together and create a global grassroots network. Thousands of people are signing onto the charter online, and that means an act of commitment. We’ll keep them informed. We want to create, never mind the leaders or the bishops or chief rabbis or imams, or Popes. We want to create a grassroots movement where people will become attuned to uncompassionate discourse in the same way as we are now attuned to sort of gender imbalance in our speech.

. . .


Can faith and science be reconciled?

Karen Armstrong:

There’s no question of reconciling them. They have different jobs to do. And before the modern period, people in all cultures understood this. People knew there were two ways of coming at truth. One was science, or what the Greeks called Logos, reason, logic. And that was essential that the discourse of science or logic related directed to the external world. The other was mythos, what the Greeks called myth, which didn’t mean a fantasy story, but it was a narrative associated with ritual and ethical practice but it helped us to address problems for which there were no easy answers, like mortality, cruelty, the sorrow that overtakes us all that’s part of the human condition. And these two were not in opposition, we needed both.

If your child dies, or you witness a terrible natural disaster, yes, you certainly want a scientific explanation as to what’s happened. But science can’t help you to find meaning, help you deal with that turbulence of your grief, rage, and dismay. A science can diagnose a cancer and can even find a cure for it, but it can’t, and a scientist will be the first to say, it’s can’t help you to deal with the stress and disappointment and terror that comes with a diagnosis, and nor can it help you to die well, like Socrates, kindly, not railing against faith, but in possession of your own death. For these imponderable questions people have turned to mythos.

But the important thing about myth is that it’s not just something that you believe, a myth is essentially a program for action. And unless you translate a mythical story, or a doctrine out of the church, into practical action, it just remains incomprehensible. Rather like the rules of a board game which seem very sort of dull and complicated and incomprehensible until you pick up the dice and start to play, when everything falls into place.

And so, the early doctrines of the church, even doctrines like Trinity and Incarnation were originally also calls for action, calls for selflessness, calls for compassion, and unless you live that out compassionately, selflessly, you didn’t understand what the doctrine was saying.

More Conversation with My Sister

I posted on my Facebook page on August 27, 2013, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letter from prison:

To Eberhard Bethage, July 21, 1944:

During the last year or so I’ve come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity. The Christian is not a homo religiosus, but simply a man, as Jesus was a man…

That solicited more conversation with my sister (she doesn’t miss a thing):


Rob, this is taken out of context.  The letter was written after Bonhoeffer heard of the failed assassination attempt (Valkyrie and the Stauffenberg plot).  Here is more of it:

During the last year or so I’ve come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldliness of Christianity.  The Christian is not a homo religiosus, but simply a man, as Jesus was a man….I don’t mean the shallow and banal this-worldiness of the enlightened, the busy, the comfortable, or the lascivious, but the profound this-worldliness, characterized by the discipline and the constant knowledge of death and resurrection.

I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith….One must completely abandon any attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman…a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one.  By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities.  In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world-watching with Christ in Gethsemane.

Rob, Did you see this quote on the Unsettled Christianity blog?


Sister, I could have expected “this from you,” but did not.  Thank you for inquiring.  As we find meaningful passages in the Bible that support our theological premises, so it is with my reading any book, including Bonhoeffer.  I have his Letters and Papers from Prison, but in this case, thinking of those Christians who do not fit the popular Christian mold, I knew Bonhoeffer addresses what was called a “religionless Christianity,” so I Googled it: what better, more authoritative way to do scholarly research?   I found this quote at  This is a site that inquires into what it really means to be Christian in the modern world.

Bonhoeffer was in New York when he deided to return to Germany.  He knew the American Christian response to the horror of Hitler and, perhaps contributing to the statement you more fully produce, he was shocked that there was no Christian response to that horror.  Of course, the US stayed out of the war, except for shipments of material support to Britain, until Pearl Harbor.


Just to be clear, my theological premises are based on what I find in scripture, not the other way around.

Friend S:

Do we too often over-analyze?  I believe Jesus has a special place in his kingdom for children and the mentally handicapped.  They just see things simply and love without reserve.  Isn’t that what God really wants?  By the way, we’re going home Sunday.  Hooray.  Still have a long way to go, but we’re getting there.


Yes, [Friend S.], I believe we do over-analyze.  Like children we should take God’s Word at face value as His very voice which is what it claims to be and Jesus affirmed.  Doing so we find that all the pieces fit together and discover the unexpected claims about God, humanity and salvation that are made.  We discover God’s amazing grace and love for sinners and His readiness to transform them when they turn to Him.  Amazing Grace being put on display.


Well, I’m back.  Did I miss anything?  Oh, did I!
First, my good friend, fine musician and organist, Friend S., announces that she and her husband are going home Sunday.  That IS a miracle!  They survived a head-on crash, awful injuries to head and rest of the body, ICU, multiple surgeries, each, and long therapy and recovery, which will continue.  S and B, so happy you are going home and to loving church family!
OK, I feel obligated (as I truly believe) to step out in faith as others have courageously shared their faith:
I also want to be clear.  I am not trying to convince anyone that their Christian faith is inadequate or that my own is right.  I trust that I am growing in my faith, as in my living, which necessarily implies change.
 Some background: As my parents have written, I had polio in the Louisiana epidemic of 1949 and was hospitalized six months on a polio ward of eighteen infants.  I have no verbal memory of that or of hot water therapy thereafter, but I know the emotional experience of abandonment.  It has subconsciously driven me for 64 years.  I am also aware of many of the paradoxes of bonding and attachment disorder (I am as faulty and guilty, perhaps more so, as others).  One area in which I can recognize particular sensitivity (among all my insensitivities) is Christian exclusivism.
I see the implications: all others (progressive Christians(?), agnostics, atheists, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, on and on, are “out.”  They will not, in that Great Day) be admitted to “the Kingdom.” Not that they will go to hell, but “Jesus is the only way” as revealed (or limited, as the case may be) by Paul.
I want those that fear that they don’t measure up, are lost, or condemned to feel the love of God, as Jesus and many other loving and wise people have revealed it, and to share that love with all others and with the world we live in. Unconditionally, as Jesus taught.
“I take the Bible too seriously to take it literally.”  Open Christianity: Home by Another Road, by Jim Burklo. The Gospel (Good News) may be at the heart of Christianity, but I believe it is shared by loving people of many faiths, religions and nations.  Christ (the Anointed One) appears to many different people of all faiths and circumstances (“inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these”).
“Made in the image of God” means something special about all people.  Michelangelo, in Creation of Adam, is honoring the gift of reason to humankind.  How you get to the Kingdom, which “is at hand,” is not important to me.   I want to reach out to all, including the outcasts of mainstream Christianity, and remove stumbling blocks.  “By their fruits you will know them.”

Body and Soul

Today, I rediscovered a meditation in a collection of meditations by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, titled, I Want to Live These Days With You.  It summarizes the positive form of my rejection of duality.  We are one: body and soul.

From The Dust of the Earth

Human beings, whom God created in his own image, that is, in freedom, are the ones who were taken from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7).  Not even Darwin and Feurbach could have said it more strongly than it is said here.  Human beings come from the dust of the earth.  Their connection with the earth is a part of their nature. . . . .  It is God’s earth from which human beings are taken.  From it they gained their bodies.  Their bodies are a part of their essence.  One’s body is not one’s prison, one’s shell, one’s exterior; rather, one’s body is oneself.  A human being does not “have” a body and “have” a soul.  Rather, one “is” body and soul.  In the beginning Adam is really his body.  He is one.  Just as Christ is completely his body, and the church is the body of Christ.  People who rid themselves of the body, rid themselves of their existence before God the creator. . . .  They have their existence as existence on earth; they do not come from above.  They are not imprisoned and enslaved in the earthly world by a cruel fate, but are called by the word of God the Almighty out of the earth, in which they slept and were dead.  In themselves they are the dust of the earth, but are called by God into being human.

Inquiry: infant polio victims, New Orleans Mercy Hospital, 1949

At age 65, I am beginning to address issues regarding my six month stay in Mercy Hospital, New Orleans on a polio ward of 18 infants under age one year.  I would like to visit with anyone who survived that, or has had any like experience of separation from parents for a significant amount of time during infancy.

For myself, I have recognized in the latter part of my life that I live with a fear of abandonment.  I am aware of bonding and attachment disorders arising from that separation.  Because my experiences on the ward and with hot water therapy thereafter are all preverbal, I have no verbal memory, but I have come to recognize a tremendous emotional memory that has wreaked havoc for 64 years.

If you have, or know somebody who has, suffered separation from a significant caregiver during infancy, would you please contact me?

Because I am now aware that the polio virus not only paralyzed my legs, but also caused brain damage affecting cognition, I would be interested in any study of the survivors of that polio ward; for that matter, any study of the development of anyone who was separated from loved ones during preverbal infancy.

Another issue that I would like to explore is any statistical connection between children with such preverbal experiences and their later perceptions and experiences of God or the Divine.  In my case, I have 10 siblings.  Of them, three are what I would call fundamentalist in their Christian beliefs in that they take the Bible literally.  They and a majority of other Facebook friends speak of Jesus and God as though they are the best of friends, and intimately acquainted.  You have gathered, I assume, from this blog that I don’t see God or the Divine in familiar terms. Some would accuse me of having an impersonal relationship with God, as though it were insufficient compared their intimately personal relationship (with “Him”).

I recognize that some have held that our (Christian) perception of God tends to reflect our relationship with our father.  Do matriarchal societies, tend to a goddess who reflects their relationship with their mother?

To summarize, I am asking the following:

  1. Are there any records of infant polio victims on a polio ward at Mercy Hospital, New Orleans, in the latter part of 1949 and early 1950?  Has any study followed them in their psychological and social development?
  2. In my own case, it appears that polio affected my cognition, particularly in executory functioning, but left my verbal IQ intact.  Does anyone have information connecting either polio or paralysis during a critical time of child development with damage to cognitive functioning?
  3. If so, has anyone researched issues of strategies to compensate for such cognitive damage? (In my case, I have compensated, it seems, in a number of ways, including extensive note-taking, outlining, intensive mental focus and preparation, even compartmentalized living,)
  4. Have there been studies of other infants in a similar situation, any bonding and attachment issues, compensations, treatments, and outcomes?
  5. Is there any evidence of an association of some form of separation anxiety or latent fear of abandonment with later views of God, the Divine, or spirituality?

I do note a resource on treatment of children who feel abandonment during infancy, which would seem to address these issues: ; but I would like to contact those who have survived such experiences arising from illness in childhood.

For anyone who was a polio survivor, you may find Polio Place, formerly Lincolnshire, helpful.  See .

Edgar on the Depression and Drout, the Second World War, and Matters of Faith

Visit on September 8, 2005


About the Great Depression:

Well, it kind of struck us, first of all, that it could happen.  I can remember that life was just going along pretty smoothly and then in 1928, 29, all at once we were getting word that the banks were closing and Dad lost money in one bank – couldn’t get any money out of it.  But I remember the over-all effect was when the word came out the banks were closing kind of a feeling of disaster, and people were quite depressed.  What was interesting about it was that about the time the Depression really hit was about the same time that the Great Drought or dust storms came along.  That kind of doubled it.  I think at that time there was kind of a sense of doom in many people.  I think religious faith was certainly a great salvation in many ways.   We had our church, we worshiped, we had our faith that God was in control.  There were many people, of course, who were –  bankers and so on were jumping out of upstairs windows and so on.  There were quite a few suicides, and people just got into debt and new they couldn’t pay off and they committed suicide.

About the Drout:

Very much, very much.  In the 30’s – I think the Drout had broken in 1938 – we had three years that were pretty dry.  Times were hard.  We on the farm, where Dad always had his anxieties trying to raise a family with income like it was and the economy like it was, nevertheless we always had security.  We had our own eggs, our own meat, we had, uh, even at the worst of times we had  something to eat from crops, and so we had security that way.  Didn’t have a lot of money to spend.  A nickel for candy was pretty valuable.  We drove old cars.  We had one that we had to, the kids had to sit on the front fender and hold the light sockets in at night.  Finally moved up to something a little bit better around 1928 or ’29.  But, really, it’s a sad thing to say but the war improved a lot for many people economically.  I know it did.

The Drought ended about [1938].   The real Depression just seemed to gradually ease up in particular – uh, I don’t know how it came about.  In particular, it seemed that gradually we began to have a little bit more.  When the war came along, somehow that did something for the economy.

And chinch bugs – they would destroy the corn crop.  They were little bugs that got in around the stock where the leaves joined the stock, get in there and kill it.  They moved over ground – didn’t fly.  And what we did for them, we made a furrow around the field and put in poison for them to eat, and that was for the grasshoppers, too.  And also we used creosote that turned chinch bugs back.  But we made poison bran for the grasshoppers – got bran and put poison in it, and spread that, and they’d eat that and it killed them.

It would take care of some rodents, too,  but we were desperate to get rid of the grasshoppers.  They could move pretty fast, almost like a cloud at times.They called them locusts.  I think they were a grasshopper, actually.  Yeah.  We just didn’t have the seagulls to help us out.


About the Second World War:

I remember my dad was always worried because us boys were the age that we could go to war.  And I remember Dad just – he really got quite depressed.  He’d listen to the reports and hoped we wouldn’t have to go, so it had him quite worried.  And of course, us boys, we were old enough except Bob, to have some connection with World War I, because there were still some of those veterans around who had been crippled, one leg, or maybe they had gone insane under the pressure.  So, there was a – memories of World War I made us really very uneasy, and our parents.


About Pearl Harbor:

I remember the suddenness of the news.  I was in Milton College, and I was the assistant janitor.  I did the night janitor, and the regular janitor, he came to me, his eyes just flashing, and said, “You know what those dirty Japs did!?”  And so, he told me about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  And that’s how I got the news.

I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind that we would win out.  I did realize that it would be a horrible battle to win because I realized that Nazi Germany had been preparing for war and they had their allies; and so I knew it was going to be tough, and I knew that all of us boys of service age would probably be called up.  I was, but by a fluke I was not taken.  But Bob went, Bob was called up.  Merlin went very late, but was put in counter intelligence.  Charles was exempt because he was farming.  I was called up.  I was turned down, and as a result, I had gone, I got some help with my college education financially.   I was told that I probably would be called up again.  I never was.

The head of the draft board – Dad knew him –he told Dad he was sure glad I didn’t have to go; he said he wouldn’t have had to tell us he dropped out of college, but he did.  “I’m glad he didn’t go.”

About the End of the War:

This thing had drug on so long, there was a generation that could hardly remember anything but war.  And so, there was a lot of excess celebration that came about because people were so delighted when it ended.

About the Future:

Well, I think the future’s not going to be easy.  I don’t have [a vision] of the perfect world.  I do think that in the end, with the transcendent power of God that is going to lead the final solution that we see in the end of Revelation.  I have no doubts in the world about that.  But, I don’t think it is going to come smoothly.  I think we are going to continue to see war, continue to see tragedy, but the good side of it is that there is always going to be people of faith, working with a sovereign God for good.  Maybe it [is] outnumbered, but like Jesus said, “You are like leaven in the world, like salt.”   And I think it is that smaller group that is the hope of the world.  And right now it is a little bit like that story of Hans with his hand in the hole in the dyke, that saved the people.  I think it is about the situation that we’re in – not hopeless, but just recognizing that we are key people, it’s people of faith in God and Christ.

About Challenges to His Faith:

False hope was one of my problems because I had accepted the idea that if you had faith nothing bad could ever happen.  It did.  And it crushed me.  And with these other things, too.  It was just an overload that I couldn’t handle.   And it was a time of crisis where I had to face realities I never had before, period.  And it took a while to get over it, and it effected me mentally, and it effected me physically, and in every way.

Mom:    I know the telegram arrived at night that his father had died, so the nights, I think, were the hardest for him, and I think for many people, nights are hard.  But all of a sudden, he couldn’t breathe, and his stomach had trouble.  So he ended up in the emergency room over and over, and they would give him calmatives and send us home until he finally felt like, you know, this isn’t really physical.  It is something else.  And he got slowly, very slowly, quit the ministry . . .

Dad:       Well, of course, I was in the midst of the course there and I talked with my favorite professor and he agreed maybe it was time for me to drop out for a while.  But, I remember when I flew up to the funeral I was just so overwhelmed.  And after the funeral I started home on the train.  I just got desperately sick.  I ate a big meal.  I thought, “You know this is over.”  And I ate a big meal, and  I got terribly sick.  I never thought I would arrive home alive.  And, I did.  But, this thing hung on, and the thing that really helped me was to get back into an occupation I liked and to get to work.  So I went back to the linotype operation and I gradually just got better.  Work was a therapy.

Rob:       You had some friends in seminary that were killed about that time?

Dad:       Well, there were some that were killed.  They were out on a mission.  And they – on the way back some drunk came across the highway and hit the car head-on.  And one or two of them died and one of them was so injured mentally, his brain, that he never would be right again.  That just seemed to me that things like that shouldn’t happen to people of faith.  And so that was part of the whole thing.  It was a crisis.  I think that everyone that really thinks goes through some kind of crisis in life.  That’s where the big decisions are made.

Well, I just got busy, and in time I began to feel better and more confident, and then I got a call to a pastorate.  And I just announced that I was going to go back and was able to do it.

Mom:    But you felt all the time like we were going to get through it because all our furniture and things, we didn’t take them with us.

Dad:       Yeah.

Mom:    We went up home, actually.  Mom and Dad said, “Come up here.”  So, we were up there through the summer when Richard was born, ‘cause Richard was born at Clarksburg.  And then, in the fall you got the call, and we went back.  And he continued to linotype work while he was pastor in Paint Rock.

Dad:       Huntsville, Alabama.

About Mom’s Recitations:

Dad:       That’s the West Virginia culture, a lot of that – a lot of the sayings, and so on.

Mom:    I had to memorize a lot in school.  They just don’t memorize a lot like we did back then. . . .

Dad:       They are, West Virginia mountaineers, were – had a lot of interesting poems and so on, and they are great story-tellers.  They’re great story-tellers.

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Xenia Lee on the Depression, the Second World War, Disease, and Matters of Faith

Visit on September 8, 2005

Concerning The Depression:

We never really suffered from the Depression because . . . we knew that our neighbors were suffering, but Dad had a stable job because he was a school teacher and other people didn’t have jobs.  So the WPA, most of them worked for the WPA.

We heard the banks were going under, and let me tell you I was careful not to go into a bank.  I didn’t want it to go under when I was in it. . . . That’s what it meant to a little child. . . . And I did lose money in the bank because my Aunt Xenia had put money in my bank for my education – and the bank did pay that back during those Depression – or – I think they began getting money back.  But Mom and Dad were in such a state that they used that money –  as they got payment – small payment along until they had given back everything.    And Mom and Dad were so conscientious that long after we were married that – we got little by little – we got all of my investment, and I don’t remember how much my Aunt Doc had put in.  It probably wasn’t that much but in those days a little was a lot.

I do remember enough about the Depression because I helped Momma with whatever she was doing, and I do remember when Uncle Rex was just – maybe a year or two – and he had a little silk suit, and I hung that on the line and when I went to get it it was totally riddled – it had been eaten up – by grasshoppers – on the clothes line – along with some +other clothes.  But that silk suit, it was the first time it had been washed, and it was totally riddled.

Concerning the Second World War:

Well, I was in high school, so, of course, in our classes we were talking about that all the time.  And it was the – I graduated in ’45 – that was in ’42, Pearl Harbour?  So I was in early high school because we started the seventh grade.  But I remember – of course, everybody remembers what they were doing.  Somebody hears about it and they tell somebody else and then on Monday, when we went to school, . . . somebody actually brought a radio to school, and we just didn’t have school that day.  We were in the auditorium listening to that radio.  The war itself we were studying – we got what was going on.

[We were] scared to death.  As a child – especially when I’d go someplace else to stay, when you didn’t have the security of your parents – because, for me, I spent eighth grade, one semester, in New York State.  In the ninth grade I spent one semester in Weston going to school.  Then I was at home. . . . But it was really scary for me when I was a long ways from home.

. . . There was no TV, so – although at times your imagination can be worse than the real thing . . . . Pearl Harbor was scary.  And to see newspapers and pictures and hear what was going on on the radio . . .

In school they spent a lot of time in geography, especially, showing us where things were going on, and teaching us – we had all these generals, their pictures – we could tell you who every general was by his picture.  And so, all during those years that we were in the war there we stayed right on top of what was going on there – Africa – and then they moved to Japan.  And it was scary because you just didn’t know – we knew where Russia was, but then there was the question, “Yeah, Russia is helping us, but are they our friend?”  . . . back and forth even at that time about Russia.

My parents were confident, so therefore I didn’t – I wasn’t fearful.  They felt that we had overcome some terrible things, and of course, the whole nation was working towards it, not just the boys who were sent over, so it really became everybody’s war.

[The atomic bomb was dropped]  before we were married. . .

That was scary. . . .  When it came on the news of the enormity –  what a horrible thing we had done – that was really scary.  You began to think this has to be the end of the world because now they’ll come over here, because we thought they had these bombs already. Fortunately they didn’t or they would have.  But we could visualize them coming over and no one was safe anywhere in the world, so it was extremely scary.

[Concerning me looking forward to their wedding having just heard the news of the dropping of the atom bomb:] Well, that’s life, you know.  You have to live.  It was just normal for romance, for marriage, for raising a family . . .  But you didn’t do any real celebrating – like today they prepare months, or maybe a year in order to have a wedding.  You had a simple wedding with what you had, I did get a new dress, but I don’t know if Dad got anything new.

[Following the wedding, they took a greyhound bus for their honeymoon, destination Nortonville Kansas, where edgar’s parents lived.]  The war was over when we got to [Saint Joseph, Missouri., Just before they got to Kansas.]  And when the war was over, and that very day, that evening we knew the war was over, and the rations were off – everything.  I mean the food rationing and the gas rationing, everything was off that very day.  . . .

I remembered – the bus, the trains, every mode of transportation stopped for 24 hours, and that was a, you know, a law, I guess.  Nothing was to move.  They were just going to celebrate for 24 hours.


Concerning the Fear of Disease:

It was experimental, a lot of it.  They used things [that] today we can get over the drug counter.  And, of course, the little boy that sat right beside me in school did die with pneumonia.  They didn’t have anything, like we do, no antibiotics to fight disease.  But, Momma always – and they quarantined you – so we – I think my brother got sick the week after school was out, and they put this big sign out in the front of our house, “Quarantined,” so nobody’d come near our house, . . . If they did, after they’d see this sign they left.  And fortunately, we had two sections of the house, and there was a hallway that you went into first that you went to the right or the left  My father – we had to stay on the right side of the house, and my father on the left side because he went to college, he was doing some work, and he couldn’t come near us except to call through the window to us through the summer.  So Momma had to take care of us kids, and every one of us had scarlet fever.  They thought Bond had diphtheria, and it wasn’t until I got scarlet fever that they discovered that it really wasn’t diphtheria, it was scarlet fever.  But they used what my Aunt Doc called “white liniment,” and used it on our necks to keep our throats – and that was what happening: the throats would close, would just swell up with this infection and close, and your lungs – you would end up with pneumonia, and that would be it.  So, they always credited Aunt Doc with her white liniment that she made, it wasn’t something that she had bought, but, of course, my Aunt Doc had gone through medical school in Chicago – first woman to graduate with the men at the medical school at Northwestern, I think, in Chicago.  And that was her senior year.  She moved from the women’s medical school because they opened it up to women, and so she moved over there to the other medical school, and was in the first graduating class.

Noting a Number of Healing and Helping Professions in the Family:

Really and truly, you think of you childeren’s professions, they all of them deal with justice for people, helping people, helping the ecology – every one.

Concerning the Future:

I just feel like, today live each moment and make it the best you can and the future will take care of itself.  And I think it’s true, if you’re faithful now, because God is sovereign, God will help you.  Just like the accident you had, and it could have been such a, such a different story . . .

Rob:       Life is full of accidents, isn’t it?

Mom:    Full of just sudden accidents that you can’t prevent, and yet, miraculously, God takes care of you.

Rob:       Do you ever worry about any of the kids?  Or the family?

Mom:    Yeah.  And I have learned to pray when I worry: thank God you are there.  I learned that when you were tiny.  I have been very thankful I have learned that.  God is there, and God is able to put the person that can help where I would like to be.  And He has been faithful all these years.  And I am very thankful.

Concerning Faith Challenges:

Probably, Momma had gotten through all of Dad’s illness, so I never questioned that I couldn’t do it, and I imagine that prepared me.  I really – for our ministry and everything, I feel like just all through life God was preparing me.  I saw Mom get through things that looked impossible because the doctor – when we took Dad to the hospital the doctor said there was no way he could live.  And they took  him.  It was when sulfa and penicillin was being experimented on and wasn’t being use but was being experimented with.  And he had a doctor that was willing to experiment if Dad was willing to sign papers.  So, Mom and Dad signed papers that if he died as a result there would be no suits or anything.  And Mom got through that, and she had a baby during that time.  So, I don’t think I ever questioned it.

Rob:       Some people might accuse you of just being idealistic and you don’t really see the world the way it is.  . . . But your faith certainly didn’t come cheap.

Mom:    Well, does any of it?  I guess it shouldn’t come cheap.  I mean, it was costly, and when you really think about it, why, Christ gave his life and so, what more can we give?

I think the hardest part for us, anyway, was letting the kids go, one by one.  l always knew what they were doing –  every minute of every day.  You were there when they came home from school, and then, all of a sudden, you didn’t know.  Fortunately, it worked out all right because every one of you were good about at least once sending a letter home.  And then, when these computers came in, why then you didn’t know what they were doing three days ago, or four, when they mailed their letters: you knew that very same day.  And then for a short time we had where we could talk to them and if they were on, their name came up if they were using their computer at the same time: you could do something and you could talk to them, and it was like being on a telephone.  So, really in our lifetime we have come from people who left home and went on the wagon train West – you never expected to see – you might hear from them but it would be weeks after they had written their letter, and they never expected them to be able to come home again.  So, I really thought we were living in a much better time.  We’ve seen a lot of changes.

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