Letters to the Editor
The article “Religion: Cause or Cure for Terrorism?” by Vinay Samuel
[Spring 2003 Response] seems to lay the blame only on Islam and Hinduism
for religiously inspired violence. Although he does mention violence
caused by Christians during the Reformation (there are plenty of other
examples), and he says that “when we point the finger at others, we
are also pointing
the finger at ourselves,” he really only seems to
apply the word “fanatic” to these other religions.
Looking at his definition
of a religious
fanatic, some key elements fit quite well to our
own recent religiously inspired violence: the
Iraq war. It was very clear from President Bush’s rhetoric justifying the war
that he had religious motivations, and the fact that this war was supported by
many Christians showed that they also had been able to find religious justifications
for the war. So, to take a few items
from Samuel’s definition of a religious fanatic: “They possess an absolute sense
and it violently propels them.” Mr. Bush was so certain of his viewpoint that
he proceeded with the war despite the objections of most of the world, the pope,
many clergy, and
a large portion of the U.S. public. “Religious fanatics feel called to take the
world by its neck and conform it to their vision of what the world should be
like.” Mr. Bush and many other neoconservatives in the United States feel that
we need to spread American democracy around the world, i.e., make it conform
our vision. “In the eyes of religious fanatics, those who ignore, reject or combat
must be destroyed.” Mr. Bush believed that Saddam Hussein had to be destroyed.
I have picked on President Bush here because of this particularly egregious recent
event, but I think these kinds of attitudes are also present in many Christians.
another quote from Samuel’s article is pertinent: “They think they alone have
to interpret the true meaning of the sacred texts
they use.” I have observed this attitude in many
Christians — they believe that they alone have the truth, the true interpretation
of Scripture. When Samuel speaks of pointing the finger, I think it points to
us more closely than we
— David Garen, Canby, Ore.
IN HIS ARTICLE, Vinay Samuel’s uncritical acceptance of liberal democratic
political philosophy problematizes any distinctly Christian response to the issue
inspired violence.” Samuel’s proposal is cast against a naturalized liberal democratic
background, which acts as his controlling narrative. For example, he writes of
between the state and the religious order” as if it was inevitable or natural,
when such a separation only seems seems natural from within the liberal democratic
paradigm. Christian thought and belief are subsumed under the controlling narrative
of liberal democracy. Samuel does not allow the church to speak as church. By
way of contrast, he could have resourced Christian groups which historically
advocated separation of the state and the religious order because of deeply held
views about human responsibility to God and the need for an uncoerced faith response
to God, and thereby provided a controlling Christian narrative.
liberal democratic narrative undermines his Christian proposals. He proposes,
for instance, that American
Christians “need to practice kingdom principles
and values.” What might these be?
An example: “We need to promote covenantal relationships that take people and
futures very, very seriously.” Is such a proposal even coherent under the controlling
of liberal democracy? Does the concept of “covenantal relationships” make sense
under a liberal democratic model in which relationships are deemed to be mutually
contractual agreements between autonomous, selfsufficient individuals and in
which relations between individuals are based upon the preservation of rights
rather than genuine concern for the “other,” whoever that might be? Christian
theology provides resources for
understanding “covenantal relationships,” but Christian theology does not provide
controlling narrative of Samuel’s proposal. His proposal would carry more weight
the controlling narrative was more specifically
— Dan Miller, Associate Pastor, Anchor
Baptist Church, Seattle, Wash.
Gigot and the Art of University Discourse
AS A RELATIVELY longtime (almost 10 years), faithful reader
of the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal and
an even longer-time and
an even longer-time (can it really be 50 years?) believer in the
mission of Seattle Pacific, I was extremely pleased to find my
two enthusiasms joined in April when Paul Gigot, editorial page
editor of the WSJ, spoke at the SPU Business Breakfast
in downtown Seattle and later appeared on campus to address faculty
and answer their questions. During the years that Mr. Gigot wrote
his weekly column for the WSJ, it was always the first thing I
read on Friday mornings. His clear prose reflected a common-sense
approach to life with a respect for truth that I found captivating.
Fortunately, my schedule was such that I was able to make the trip
to Seattle to hear Mr. Gigot speak and to observe the interactions
on campus. It was a trip well worth making.
Mr. Gigot’s perceptions of the heavy fighting still going on in Iraq were cogently
expressed, and the questions from students and faculty, while at times skeptical,
were unfailingly courteous and in keeping with the attitude of civil discourse
one has a right to expect in a university setting. It is a sad commentary
on our times that this is unusual
enough that it has to be even mentioned,
but it is just one more reason why I am so
pleased to be able to say that Seattle Pacific is
my alma mater.
The past few years have given me numerous
opportunities to experience the atmosphere
of what is going on at SPU. I can
confidently say that these are the “good
old days” at SPU: Never before in my 50 years of association with the University
has it been positioned better to meet the needs of students and to serve its
communities in ways that the communities truly need to be served than it is today.
I thank God for the leadership in place now and pray for continued wisdom to
keep SPU true to its calling and make it ever more effective in changing the
One final note, the evolution of Response over the years has
been nothing short of spectacular. For years it has been a quality publication
that has consistently provided an engaging window into the University. But in
its latest manifestation, it has become a thing of beauty as well as quality.
My hat’s off
to you, Jennifer.
— Jerome Kenagy ’56, Reedsport, Ore.
The World Is Coming to
IN 1980, I GRADUATED from Seattle Pacific
University with a master’s degree from the School of Religion. I then moved away
from my hometown of Seattle to Holland, Michigan, to become a youth pastor at
a Wesleyan church. Over the years, our church has grown so that we now see more
than 3,500 in our Sunday morning services. I am no longer the youth pastor but
now serve as the pastor of global ministries.
As an alumnus of SPU, I have been
intrigued by its theme, “Engaging the Culture/
Changing the World.” As I have pondered this phrase, it has grown in its significance
and meaning to me. As a missions pastor, most of my ministry has been about how
we reach the world with the Gospel. I see my ministry expanding to help my
understand that we don’t need to get on a plane and travel to the world because
the world is coming to us.
My work at SPU really gave me the heart to do what
I do. My ministry in helping our people reach the world did not start within
me when I arrived in Michigan. It was planted in me as a student at the University
by the professors who would not allow us to take in the information only, but
pushed us to apply it to change our world. And we can only change our world as
we engage it.
— George Beals ’80, Pastor of Global Ministries, Central Wesleyan
Church, Holland, Mich.
A Day for Garden-Lovers
I JUST WANTED to share
with Response readers
news of Seattle Pacific’s successful new community event, the SPU Queen Anne
Garden Tour, held May 31. Clearly, there is pent-up demand for seeing fabulous
landscapes in an
urban setting — we sold 750 tickets in the first year!
One of the most personally
parts of the event was watching and hearing
gardening enthusiasts “ooh and ah” over SPU’s attractive grounds. I am so impressed
the talents of SPU’s head gardener, Jeff
Daley — he’s used God’s beauty and his own artistic eye to plant lush, exciting
throughout the campus. If you haven’t visited the campus lately, make a point
of seeing its gardens.
I invite anyone interested in gardening and horticulture
to volunteer at next year’s event. We need enthusiastic garden-lovers who can
donate four hours to welcome and assist
guests touring the gardens — you’ll enjoy every minute! Contact the SPU Alumni
Office at 206/281-ALUM to add your name
to this cool event.
— Debra Prinzing ’81, Seattle, Wash.
WHEN [SPU ALUMNI DIRECTOR] Doug Taylor
called last January and asked if we’d consider having our garden on the first
SPU Queen Anne Garden Tour this summer, I said no, our garden was definitely
not ready for a garden tour. But after talking with Doug, I thought about it
and wondered if I could get my garden in shape by summer. I had five months
until May 31, the date they had set for the event. I would need to build pathways
through some of the garden, move shrubs and roses, replant some areas and label
all the plants.
I decided I could do it, and if I was ever going to get our yard
in shape, this was the incentive I needed. I called my husband, Burt
Walls ’66, and asked what he thought of the idea of putting our house on the
tour. He said that sounded great as long as it
didn’t take away from his time on the golf
course. I told him I’d only need a little help (and I pretty much kept my promise),
I called Doug Taylor back and said I’d changed
my mind and we’d put our garden on the
tour. Doug laughed and said he knew I’d call him back.
Thus began a winter of
activity in our garden getting ready for the tour. It was a very happy time for
me. The roses and many plants were blooming in time for the tour, and it was
such fun to welcome everyone into the garden. The weather was just gorgeous on
the day of the event, and I enjoyed watching the guests sitting on benches in
the garden listening to the SPU musicians or talking about the plants, asking
me questions or giving compliments. It was a wonderful day we will long remember,
and now we have the summer to relax and just enjoy our garden. I thank and compliment
Debra Prinzing ’81 and her committee for a job well-done organizing this very
successful event and
making it a lot of fun for the owners of
— Ralene Walls, Seattle, Wash.
Editor’s Note: For more on the SPU Queen Anne Garden Tour, click
In Praise of Theme Articles
THE QUALITY OF Response is
I particularly appreciate the theme articles
each quarter. I’m proud to be an alumnus
— Elizabeth Kroon Davey ’71, Toronto,
What Do You Think? Don’t be shy!
We’d like to hear your opinion about Response or any
articles printed in the publication. To tell us what you think,
send email to
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit
www.spu.edu/response. You may also write Editor, Response,
Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Avenue West, Seattle,
98119–1997. Letters must be signed and will be printed as space