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Winter 2004 | Volume 26, Number 5 | Letters to The Editor

Letters to the Editor

I found the article by John Medina, “Brain Child,” along with the companion note by Hope McPherson, “In Praise of Responsible Curiosity,” most refreshing. Not only was the content interesting to me as a psychologist, but I was encouraged by the apparent mutual comfort between a person of science (Medina) and SPU as a Christian institution, which is not quite as I remember it 40+ years ago. Medina impressed me as an individual whose faith does not preempt his asking and exploring any scientific question.

I have long believed that religious faith and science (as methodology and disciplines of knowledge) need not be adversarial, indeed should not be. But much of my experience has been that neither Christianity nor science has viewed the other as complementary, which is why I appreciated the Autumn 2003 issue of Response. I believe that we should use science to investigate and understand the wonderfully intricate and complex nature of all creation, no holds barred, no artifi cial barriers. Religious values hopefully, then, will help us make moral and ethical use of such knowledge.

A brief comment on the substance of Medina’s article: I appreciated his general point that early experiences aff ect not only a child’s early learning, but some of those experiences profoundly affect the child’s brain development, which impacts all subsequent learning! It would follow, then, that our roles as parents and teachers are becoming progressively more important as we learn more about the early stages of our children’s development. Th e irony is that our lives (our society’s, that is) seem to have gotten busier in recent decades, with less time for our infants and children. I applaud John Medina’s work but wish I could be more optimistic about our willingness to apply what he and others discover.

— Frank H. Satterwhite ’61, Astoria, Ore.

A COUPLE OF ITEMS FROM the Autumn 2003 Response set off alarm bells.

The biggest alarm came from John Medina’s proposals resulting from his work at the Talaris Institute. While the research in helping improve learning and family stability is laudable, to incorporate this into “the formal education system” or “rigorously researched interventions” into families is nothing short of Big Brother Watching You. Help requested is one thing; help mandated is quite something else. So many onerous, intrusive and controlling government programs come sugarcoated with the usual mantra, “We’re Only Trying To Help You” or “We’re Just Doing This For Your Own Good.” What is unsaid is that the standards of “help” or “good” are defined by whatever controlling authority is imposing them — and you don’t have the option to reject them.…

The second alarm came from Bruce Congdon’s remarks put in the time capsule. Congdon presumes the earth is “vastly old” with “life evolving” and ponders how “Genesis theology” will absorb “scientific knowledge.” With evolution and old-earth concepts rivaling tax laws for the number of holes in them, the only question is whether “scientists” will be honest about their “knowledge.” … Congdon brings up the notion of a “selforganizing universe” that is so mathematically improbable that faith in the Resurrection seems easier. And “embryonic stem cell research”? Th e implications are horrendous; Francis Schaeffer’s Whatever Happened to the Human Race? barely scratched the surface. It is not a question of “ethics,” but of morals, whether man will be his own god, or submit himself to his Creator — because it will affect how he sees his Redeemer.

My hope for those in 2053 when they open the capsule is that they realize that the anvil of God’s truth continues to wear out the hammers of man’s “knowledge.”

— Larry Bickford, San Jose, Calif.

Now and Then Again

THANKS TO DOUG KOSKELA for his excellent review of the book Now and Then. It sounds like Frederick Buechner has put to print some of the thoughts that I have come to over the years (by osmosis!). One’s vocational call can be a very living/dynamic thing. I am looking forward to receiving the book from the offer in Response.…

— Lawrence Holliday, Des Moines, Wash.

for another compelling edition of Response (Autumn 2003). I generally read it cover to cover the day I receive it, and this was no exception. Keep up the good work. I am so encouraged to see the growth and development of SPU as a “cultural challenger” in the marketplace of ideas. Please send us the book Now and Then by Frederick Buechner, so that we may join in the discussion.

— Marianna Evans Hanefeld ’79, Kirkland, Wash.

to make the Common Curriculum books available to alums. I so appreciated The Abolition of Man — should be required reading for every Christian, surely. Please send me a copy of Now and Then. I have read one of Buechner’s novels and am looking forward to this read. “Brain Child” in the Autumn issue was outstanding, very valuable. Appreciate your good magazine.

— Priscilla Jeffery, Riggins, Idaho

. My husband picked it up and began reading — and didn’t quit till he’d finished! Now I’m into it. What a neat thing to get the SPU community — past and extended — into reading and recognizing good writing. Also, to inspire and to participate with the campus community. I also want to express a huge sense of gratitude to you for the excellence of Response. Its quality, coverage, approach and style make it appealing and valuable. I cannot count the numbers of persons who have commented to me favorably and appreciatively about it. May God continue to bless you and your work.

— Joy Fisher Hammersla ’54, SPU Professor Emerita of Psychology, Edmonds, Wash.

RESPONSE CAME AGAIN two days ago, and tonight I finished reading it from cover to cover. Each issue makes me prouder to be a part of SPU’s story. If you have any left, I’d like to receive a copy of Now and Then. I’m getting to be an old man now (Martha and I just celebrated our golden wedding anniversary), but I still like new challenges. I read about a book a week, and not all of it is fiction.… What’s my newest challenge? At age 78, I have started taking piano lessons. As a mostly self-taught musician, I missed a lot of useful stuff along the way. Now I’m filling in the gaps and often play for chapel services here. I’m looking forward to seeing the book.

— Leon E. Strunk ’49, Asheville, N.C.

I AM A PASTOR’S WIFE in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania. I just read your article “A Call to Holy Listening” and was so pleased to read that I could request a free copy of Now and Then. My husband and I have four children, two in college, one in seminary and one in the work force. All of them are trying to understand God’s call on their heart, and how to make career decisions. I would love to read Now and Then and pass it on to each of them!

— Sherry Gilchrest, Pittsburgh, Penn.

I WOULD BE PLEASED to receive a copy of Buechner’s book, Now and Then. I know I can’t keep up with the freshmen, but I would like to learn how to make my story significant to my children and grandchildren.

— Lois Fisher Ansted ’45, Riverside, Calif.

JUST GOT AROUND TO READING the Autumn 2003 Response from back cover to front cover, and, as always, I found it most interesting and wish I were back in school. But since I can’t be, the next best thing is at least reading with others the current book being offered, if it is not too late to request a copy of Now and Then by Frederick Buechner. Keep up the good work on Response!

— Lois Smith CC ’62, Walla Walla, Wash.

a copy of Now and Then. My son is a freshman this year, and I have a daughter who graduated from SPU in 2001. I have thoroughly enjoyed the books that you have offered in the past and am eager to read the current selection. Thank you for the opportunity to expand my horizons.

— Nancy Papé, Boise, Idaho

I WOULD LOVE TO JOIN the students who are reading Now and Then this year. I read The Chosen last year and found it was a wonderful experience. I think this is a great way to stay connected to the SPU community and with lifelong education. Th anks for off ering the free copies to alumni!

— Brandi Probstfi eld Alvine ’98, Lynnwood, Wash.…

my husband and I have served here as co-pastors, I have read several very interesting articles [in Response] and enjoyed learning more about SPU. Glancing through the latest issue, I’m looking forward to reading about “How the Brain Learns,” and I just fi nished the Buechner article. I would love to receive a copy of Now and Then; it sounds like a great read.

— Vicky Brown, Co-Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Roseburg, Ore.

Each Day Is an Adventure

in 1993, I receive my copy of Response. In so many ways, it is uplifting to read how much graduates ripple out affecting all over the world. In some ways, it is humbling, since I feel like I have not done much with my degree since graduating. The stories and the people that have taken life by the horns are truly inspiring.

I thought it might be time to update you on my journey. After leaving the University, I went on to graduate school in 1995. I was accepted at the University of Iowa with a four-year opportunity fellowship and was excited about the program. Other factors in my life, however, and my own actions were such that I bottomed out and stepped into a very black place and time. Fortunately, I am blessed with a loving family who took me in and have allowed me and helped me to heal. I currently live in Cleveland, Tennessee, and work for a trust company as an administrator. I hope to go back and fi nish my graduate degree, because my teaching is my passion. And, if possible, I would like to teach in a Christian environment, since my faith is my core…

I love life and am excited about the things that are happening in my walk with God. Each day is an adventure I look forward to, resting assured that He will always be with me.

— Joy Cruz ’93, Cleveland, Tenn.

Editor’s Note: After consulting with Joy, we include this letter as an encouragement to others who may feel as if their lives haven’t turned out exactly the way they planned. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in interviewing people for Response, it’s that every story is important to the community. We need each other.

A Further Note on Faith and Film

I READ IN THE AUTUMN 2003 Response the letters to the editor concerning the “Faith and Film” subject. Just letting Response know so that they can pass it on to their readers, if they wish, that there is a way to get movies/DVDs/videos that have the objectionable material removed so that the movies become family-friendly. Our family has been using this service over the last year and are very happy with it. The organization is called Clean Films, and you can go to its Web site for further information at www. Many of the modern movies that you could find in theatres or at video stores these days have been “cleaned up” by Clean Films and are available for families to rent. Our family highly recommends this service.

— David Bains ’79, Cincinnati, Ohio

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, or visit You may also write Editor, Response, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Avenue West, Suite 116, Seattle, Washington 98119–1922. Letters must be signed and will be printed as space permits.