Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ecumenism: Catholic Inclusion in the GTU

The Spring 2010 issue of U.S. Catholic Historian explores ecumenism in the 20th century. Bishop John S. Cummins, second Bishop of the Diocese of Oakland (1962-1971) contributes a wonderful article on the Catholic involvement with the Graduate Theological Union, "Bishop Floyd L. Begin's Bold and Steady Service in the Development of the Graduate Theological Union: A Personal Reflection."

This article and others in the issue not only provide an excellent supporting reference to our Oral History of the GTU Collection but also to the Robert McAfee Brown Exhibit (October 1 through January 15) that is being installed in the library this week.

Jesuit Gustave Weigel and Presbyterian Robert McAfee Brown, 1964

Brown (1920-2001) is remembered as one of the Protestants that the Catholics could turn to for ecumenical support. He wrote with Gustave Weigel (1906-64), An American dialogue : a Protestant looks at Catholicism and a Catholic looks at Protestantism (1960). These and other articles and talks in part discuss differences and common ground as well as address the issue of John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, running for president.

For more information, see the Spring 2010 U.S. Catholic Historian in the library. For more information on Brown, visit the exhibit in the library starting next week, view the finding aid or view the online exhibit.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Earth Day 2010, Thomas Starr King

Emerson gave us last Monday evening the most brilliant lecture I ever listened to from any mortal. It was on the identity of the laws of the mind with the laws of nature. He proved conclusively that man is only a higher kind of corn, that he is a squirrel gone up into the first class, that he is a liberated oyster fully educated, that he is a spiritualized pumpkin, a thinking squash, a graduated sun-flower, and inspired turnip. Such imagery, such wit, such quaint things said in a tone solemn and sublime! I have the most profound respect henceforth for every melon-vine as my ancestor (melancholic thought). I look upon every turtle as of kin. Tonight he lectures again. I fear I may lose it.

Page 3 of letter from Thomas Starr King to Randolph Ryer, January 29, 1849.

Thanks to Erika Hewitt for requesting a copy.

For further information about King, see our finding aid, which links to our Digital Content Site.

Friday, April 16, 2010

John Pairman (Jock) Brown (5/16/23 - 4/5/10)

John Pairman (Jock) Brown passed away on April 5, 2010. He was a lecturer at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in the sixties, a visiting scholar at GTU and active in Friends of the Library for many years. In addition to his scholarly efforts, much of his activities supported peace and justice through such organizations as the Ecumenical Peace Institute, an arm of Clergy and Laity Concerned.

Brown initiated the Sacred Text lectures at the library in 1993, providing the very first address: What Makes a Text Sacred? The lecture continues as one of GTU's most interesting annual events.

Son of two mathematicians (Eleanor Pairman and Bancroft Brown), he studied mathematics and the classics at Dartmouth and Harvard, served in the US Army Air Corp, and received a doctorate from Union Theological Seminary in New York. He taught classics at the American University in Beirut and then returned to the US.

Brown was a mentor for Richard York, directing minister of the Berkeley Free Church, which ran from 1967 to 1972. Brown became the resident theologian to the church, applying his profound knowledge of classical literature and the New Testament to the experimental ministry. He was beaten by police without provocation during one of the many protests in the late sixties. Such incidents and the difficulty in finding a hospital that would treat street people, led to founding the free medical clinic in Berkeley. His house became a central point for processing donations to pay legal expenses for those arrested during the initial People's Park protests. His wife Emily Waymouth Brown created and managed Win with Love (4 publications 1969-1971), described as "A Comprehensive Directory of the Liberated Church including Peace organizations; Youth Switchboards; National resource groups; Immigrant aid centers in Canada."

Beginning with a great deal of media attention and influencing the creation of support services on multiple levels in Berkeley, the Free Church collapsed in a whimper of internal struggles in 1971-72. Brown continued his work for peace and wrote his well received writings on Israel and Hellas.

Brown's style is supremely clear. Below is a sample, addressing the need to study the past, from the preface of Ancient Israel and Ancient Greece: Religion Politics and Culture (2003, p x.):
In decades when the human race faces unprecedented dangers--political, military, environmental--I propose that one necessary feature of our response is to study how we got where we are. From the civilizations of the Nile and Tigris-Euphrates we can learn most of all not to repeat their false starts; from Iran ...the dangers of imperialism. Rome, heir to both Israel and Greece, as well as of Iran and the Hellenistic empires, is here seen as a bridge to the ambiguities and dilemmas of our world. In the end, then, this work is a plea for better and deeper understanding of the societies that lie behind us in our best moments."

Brown is well worth further study. His books and articles on Israel and Hellas are available in the library. His efforts for peace and justice, as well as liturgical reform, can be found in materials from the Berkeley Free Church Collection, which links to images on line, and from his books, several of which are on Internet Archive. A few images and two articles about him are at our Digital Content site.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

30th Anniversary of Assassination of Oscar Romero

One of the commemorative posters from the Sanctuary Oral History Project Collection

Thirty years ago Oscar Romero was shot and killed while celebrating mass in the chapel of a hospital. The date prompts commemorative activities in El Salvador and across the world in recognition of his courage in confronting a repressive regime. Of course, he still has his enemies, who condemn him as a recruiter for Marxism and not as a martyr for human rights.

In the early 1980s, refugees from Central America became the focus of the Sanctuary Movement. Faced with civil war, military aggression and terror, citizens left the country and joined refugee camps in Honduras or traveled north to Mexico and then to the United States. US policy did not recognize Central Americans, or El Salvadorans, as qualifying for refugee status. Those who were caught were deported and returned to their countries. Becoming aware of the situation, churches responded to the needs of the refugees by offering sanctuary.

On March 24, 1982, five congregations in Berkeley and one in Phoenix, Arizona, publicly committed to "protect, defend and advocate for" men, women and children fleeing from Guatemala and El Salvador. Churches throughout the country joined in this movement. After protection was no longer necessary for Central American refugees, the movement continued, focusing on issues with immigrants from throughout the world

For the past few months, we've been adding materials from our collections on the sanctuary movement to our digital content site. Of special note are transcripts of 12 of the leaders of the movement, part of an oral history project begun by Eileen Purcell, one of the movement leaders.

We also have two very comprehensive collections of the movement: Gustav Schultz Sanctuary Collection, GTU 90-5-01; National Sanctuary Defense Fund Collection, GTU 98-9-04.

This Saturday, March 27, an Archbishop Oscar Romero Commemoration will be held at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, beginning at 11 am. Carla DeSola and the Omega West Dance Company will be among the performers.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

GTU Videos

The Graduate Theological Union : A Vision of Excellence, 1983 from GTU Archives on Vimeo.

The Graduate Theological Union : A Vision of Excellence, 1983. To view enter: GTU2400.

The Graduate Theological Union: A Vision of Excellence (1983) was commissioned by the GTU Development Office as part of the Capital Campaign to raise funds for the completion of the GTU library. The tape was produced, written and narrated by George Conklin and Linda McFadden. Among those interviewed are Mary Ann Donovan, JTSB; Benjamin Reist, SFTS; Claude Welch, academic dean; Bishop John Cummins, Diocese of Oakland; Joseph Asher, Rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco; William Herzog, ABSW; John Coleman, JTSB; Will Herzfeld, PLTS; Teruo Kawata, PSR; and Michael Blecker, president of GTU. This video, converted from a VHS tape, jumps and skips.

Voices of the GTU, 2001 from GTU Archives on Vimeo.

Voices of the GTU, 2001. To view enter: GTU2400.

Voices of the GTU premiered at the inauguration of James A. Donahue as President in February 2001. Produced by Kevin C. Koczela and Greg Tarin, the short film is a series of interviews with students and faculty explaining their experience at GTU. Those interviewed include Donahue; Margaret Miles, dean and vp for academic affairs; Judith Berling, former dean; John Dillenberger, former dean and president; Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, faculty; Ruth Ohm, student; Kirk Wegter-McNeilly, student; and Nancy Pineda-Madrid, student. The archives has the complete videotaped interviews of each person interviewed.

These are two of the videos from the archives. We also have three others that we have not yet received permission to post, but which can be viewed within the library:

Holy Hill was aired on KRON-4's local news-magazine program --30 Minutes: Assignment Four--on December 14, 1974. The report is anchored by Phil Wilson. Among the students featured are Alda Clark Marsh Morgan, wearing a headscarf, and Jacob K. Moody, with the glasses and short curly hair. Claude Welch, John Bennett and John C. Coleman are also interviewed. The original is on a Sony V-30H tape. This digital copy was transferred from the VHS show copy, which is a little jumpy.

A Holy Alliance: Part 1 The New Seminarian and Part 2 Devotion and Diversity ran on the CBS Sunday morning show For Our Times in 1984. The show was produced by Chalmers Dale and Pamela Ilott and narrated by Douglas Edwards. The show focuses on the changes in theological education at the Graduate Theological Union. There are interviews with presidents, deans, faculty and students from the various GTU member schools. Topics discussed include cooperation with University of California-Berkeley, minority clergy education, what it means to be in the ministry, the work of the church in the world and Catholic Religious Life.

My 20th century : the Graduate Theological Union aired March 30, 2001 on KTVU-TV 2, 10 o'clock news. George Watson produced and narrates this television segment which aired March 30, 2001 on KTVU-TV 10 o'clock news about the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., its history and in the present day. Shots of the present day are intercut with historical film footage about Berkeley. James Donahue, President of the GTU, Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Assistant Professor of Theology and Womanist Studies, and Laura Kakis, Director of the Pacific School of Religion Choir are interviewed. The segment includes shots of the area, the GTU Library, classes in session, and a choir rehearsal.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Berkeley 1994

Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Gus Schultz, reception at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, 1994
During my dialogue with the GTU community, I recounted the story of my meeting with a group of students in Haiti a month before the December 1990 elections. In that meeting, the students and I talked about the harsh realities that the nation was facing--an 85% illiteracy rate, a repressive military that consumes 45% of the national budget, an economy that benefits only the elite. As we spoke, one student , drawing an analogy to water, asked a profound question about the future of the country: "Can one single drop of fresh water change an entire glass of salt water?" I answered with two questions: "How many drops of water does it take to make rain? How many rivers does it take to cause a flood?"

The answer to both questions is "many."

Letter to Dr. Glenn R. Bucher from Jean-Bertrand Aristide, May 4, 1994

Haiti's problems have always seemed to be nearly insurmountable. The January 12 earthquake resulted in a staggering lost of life (approaching 300,000 by one count) and of support structures.

Michael Deibert writes today in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the destruction of the university facilities in Port-au-Prince and the loss of many students and professors. Among the intellectual leaders who died were Micha Gaillard, a university professor and political activist; Myriam Merlet, founder of Enfofamn; lawyer Magalie Marcelin, who established Kay Fanm (Woman's House); and Anne Marie Coriolan, who founded the group Solidarité Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity With Haitian Women).

For those who have yet to send donations to support aid to Haiti, a few agencies are suggested at the GTU site.

We recently updated the finding aid for the National Sanctuary Defense Fund (NSDF) Collection in order to post it to Online Archives of California. While much of the NSDF efforts were initially to help refugees and those who were arrested for helping refugees from Central America, by the nineties the fund had broadened to include most immigrant populations into the US.

Haiti received particular attention due to the forced removal by military of the former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been elected as president, resulting in persecution of proponents of democracy and US issues with refugees.

GTU invited Aristide to speak at the First Congregation Church in Berkeley on April 17, 1994. The City of Berkeley declared that Sunday, Haitian National Day. The NSDF sponsored the reception to raise money to support Haitians affected by the military actions. Above, Gus Schultz, minister at University Lutheran Church, and board president of the NSDF, welcomes the deposed president. Aristide spoke later that week at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco and at Stanford.

For more information on the National Sanctuary Defense Fund (NSDF) Collection please contact the GTU archives at archives@gtu.edu or call 510-649-2507 or 2523. A few images and documents from the collection are at our digital content site. The archives also has several other sanctuary related collections: The Gustav Schultz Sanctuary Collection, 1971 – 1996 and Sanctuary Oral History Movement Collection.