Mailbox Letters From You
Another superior issue of Response! You cover many bases well.
The material on Lincoln as per Ron White was laid out so cogently and relevantly ("A Leader in His Time — and for All Time," Spring 2010). In 2009 I read a Lincoln-related book each month in honor of his birth in 1809. One of them was White's comprehensive biography. …
The Spring 2010 issue of Response will go in my library along with all my other Lincoln materials.
John F. Sills CC '62
Once started, it was hard to put down A. Lincoln! We have much to learn from this self-taught, homespun country lawyer who rebounded from numerous setbacks but persevered through all kinds of adversity. … He was surely directed and gifted by God, able to put his moral convictions into action … while bearing the agonies of the Civil War on his broad shoulders. …
This was one of the best annual readings yet for friends and alumni; thank you. It will be passed around.
I recently finished Ronald White's book, A. Lincoln. I appreciated the all-encompassing picture that Mr. White provides. Beginning with Lincoln's ancestors, through his thought processes gleaned from the many notes written on scraps of paper, the reader becomes a front-row observer as Lincoln debates within himself the issues that would come to identify the man and his presidency. …
Judy Cleveland '74
My copy of A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White Jr. is now dog-eared and battered from being tossed into the car, my suitcase, and then back onto the table during the past few months. I couldn't seem to leave it behind. In A. Lincoln, White brings into sharp focus a man who evaluated everything internally by calling up his razor-sharp debating tactics, his compassionate perspective of all people, and his abiding faith in the God whose will prevailed above all.
Karen Pascoe '75
The Spring 2010 issue of Response contained a very interesting conversation with Ronald C. White Jr., the author of A. Lincoln: A Biography. Thank you for offering a number of White's books to the Seattle Pacific community. We found the book particularly thorough, thought-provoking, and well-documented, and it caused us to think about parallels with contemporary political challenges and issues. Lincoln's willingness, even commitment, to seek to understand all sides of an issue, makes it easy to see why he is America's most admired president. The evolution of Lincoln's thinking about slavery was fascinating. We also enjoyed the many photographs, some we had never seen before, including the only known photo showing Lincoln at his second inauguration, on March 4, 1865. Lincoln's political career demonstrates the impact that one individual can have in shaping his community and a nation. We found White's observation that, "Lincoln, as president, walked back and forth across the line between religion and politics" particularly interesting. We highly recommend this book!
Kurt and Cindy Rahm
Thanks so much for sending us the book last spring. … I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, though at certain sections it took me a bit to digest the contents. I was very appreciative of the extensive research that Ronald White put into this book. One certainly did not get the feeling that any of the materials were his conjecture, though the emphasis on the spiritual life of Abraham Lincoln was a slant that I had not seen in many books. When one considers the large amount of materials that support the spiritual emphasis, one wonders why other writers have not gone this direction. Over the years I have heard learned lecturers debate on the role of slavery before and during the civil war. At times they almost convinced me that the issue of slavery played a minor role; therefore, I really appreciated hearing how Abraham Lincoln's opinions on slavery changed throughout his life. This was also a reflection on the attitudes and climate present in our nation at that point. The book A. Lincoln also helped me to grapple with both sides of the slavery issue. I would have liked to read more about Mary Lincoln — but I look forward to reading some of the books listed in the reference section. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to read this book with SPU.
I also want to thank you for this opportunity to read White's book, A. Lincoln. … I especially appreciated the depth of research and the emphasis on Lincoln's spiritual development and faith, particularly during his presidency. Many have been critical of the fact that Lincoln never joined a church. However, I was impressed with his regular attendance at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, and the influence the pastor of that church had on Lincoln.
Philip Ogden '59
"With malice toward none, with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us …. to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations," A. Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.
This call to forgiveness and reconciliation has reverberated in my mind since reading A. Lincoln May 2010. Proposing "malice toward none and charity for all" would have seemed much more appropriate for Lincoln's first inaugural address. Following his election as sixteenth president, in November 1860, seven states seceded before Lincoln officially took office in March 1861. His first inaugural address might have been an appropriate and timely occasion to propose malice toward none and charity for all in support of his campaign commitment to preserve the Union.
However, the incredible meaning and impact of malice toward none and charity for all is realized when noting that the context was Lincoln's second inaugural address on March 4, 1865. The outcome of the Civil War was no longer in doubt and would officially end one month later on April 9, 1865. The cost in terms of human lives had been staggering, with over 600,000 American deaths resulting from some of the bloodiest battles in modern history. As the Civil War raged, Lincoln's policy had evolved from "saving the Union at all costs" to one that reflected his core values with the delivery of the executive orders comprising the Emancipation Proclamation. Though soon to be reunited geographically and politically, the United States of March 1865, remained sharply divided socially and racially. Many in his own political party and the majority of the Union populace fully expected that once the war concluded the South would be held accountable and punished accordingly. Those that gathered to witness the president's second inaugural address anticipated hearing a rousing speech acknowledging the eminent Union victory with a vow to humiliate the vanquished. Instead, as had become his custom, using very powerful, figurative, yet brief remarks, Lincoln modeled humility, forgiveness, inclusiveness, and decisiveness as he outlined the process for healing the wounded nation. Rather than succumbing to political pressures of the day, Abraham Lincoln spoke from his heart, communicating that despite the extraordinary cost in human lives, reconstruction would be forged through forgiveness and reconciliation, not blame and judgment. Rather than looking to the past, the president outlined the opportunity to create a new future by sharing responsibility, forgiving and working together to rebuild and reconstruct landscape as well as attitudes, values and beliefs. In Lincoln's estimation the only way this arduous task could be fully accomplished was with malice toward none and charity for all. A southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, listened intently as he stood within thirty-five feet of the president on that day. After attending Lincoln's April 11, 1865 speech two days after General Lee's surrender, in which the Lincoln again reinforced his commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation as well as his desire that emancipation should also include the right to vote, Booth remarked, "That is the last speech he will ever make," (White Jr., 2009, p. 672). Three days later, on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth carried out his threat and assassinated the sixteenth president of the United States of America.
As I watch and analyze current events in our country, I wonder if the issues we face today are any less demanding than those that confronted Lincoln. As president, Lincoln was ridiculed, mocked, and ruthlessly criticized by politicians and the press. Religious leaders from the North and the South insisted that God was on their side. Polarization and partisanship were evident as the fate of the nation hinged on the results of the 1862 mid-term elections. Crises seem to surround the country on all sides. Is Lincoln's March 4, 1865 plea, acclaimed as "a sacred effort," by abolitionist leader Fredrick Douglas, any less relevant today?
Gregory Gelderman Ed.D. '04
SPU Certification Officer
I love U2! I admit I haven't always been a fanatical fan, but my junior-year SPU roommate was. She owned every last one of their CDs, knew all the lyrics by heart, and played their music incessantly. I thank Melanie for igniting my love affair with U2, and I commend Jeff Keuss for his article ("Can a Rock Band Change the World?" Spring 2010) highlighting U2's frontman, Bono, as a transformational leader. … Behind those too-cool shades, I see a man who uses his fame, fortune, and time to better a hurting world.
Jenny Gettelman '96
Salt Lake City, Utah
Your lead article in this issue on leadership had great potential with the discussion of Lincoln but certainly was a grievous disappointment when you included someone like Oprah Winfrey. There are few people in today's world that are using their platform to take people away from the true gospel. She openly denies the divinity of Christ and instead pushes a "new age" philosophy that says we are "Christ" or "God." … When there are so many outstanding Christian leaders to choose from why you would need to go to the secular such as Steve Jobs and the apostates like Oprah is hard to understand. …
Robert & Jane Shillingstad
A transformational leader in my life is ... Francis Collins, noted scientist and head of the National Institutes of Health, who wrote in The Language of God that he is a "theistic evolutionist."… He believes that God created the universe, setting the physical parameters exactly right, extremely narrowly, to form the planets, stars, and life itself. … I think that Dr. Collins affirms the views of SPU Professor Benjamin McFarland ("Exploring Chemistry and Creation," Spring 2010) that science jibes with the Bible. As a chemist myself, I also believe that the periodic table and all of life are too intricate and well-planned to have happened arbitrarily.
Clifton F. Bennett
In recent years all of the issues of Response have been outstanding. However, the Spring 2010 issue is nothing short of exceptional. Reading it from cover to cover, I found it to be informative, fascinating, captivating and inspirational. It is nice to have such enjoyable reading during our "senior years." I am already looking forward to the next issue.
Elmore Clyde '51
Spring Arbor, Michigan
Thank you for publishing the Spring 2010 issue of Response. I write and send this on Good Friday, April 2, 2010. Your good early-morning read has me to my knees in gratitude, another humbling experience in my long life of humbling experience of reason to offer thanks. In September 1993, I was welcomed as a freshman student at SPU. I was 69. I graduated in June 1997 at age 73. …
Marie Whitener Hindery '97