From the Editor

Resolved: I will not waste my life

Michael L. Sherer

Michael L. Sherer

Willmar Thorkelson is an excellent example of someone who made his life count for something.

New Year’s resolutions don’t get much respect, partly because there’s an expectation they won’t be kept.

Here’s one to make and keep during 2003 (and every year thereafter): “Resolved: I will not waste my life.”

My friend, William Frame, the President of Augsburg College, is fond of reminding people on and off his campus, that Martin Luther was “big” on the idea of Christian vocation. What Luther was really after was helping the faithful to realize that, no matter what it is to which God calls us, it’s no trivial matter. The farmhand has a vocation every bit as significant as that of a priest, a bishop, or the pope himself.

God gave us our lives, our intelligence, abundant resources, and many opportunities for making something of ourselves. The United Negro College Fund correctly reminds us, “A human mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

So is a human life.

Permit me, then, to celebrate a life recently ended, and one that was lived well. Our good friend, Willmar Thorkelson, died on November 29, from Parkinson’s Disease, at the age of 84. Bill was a religion journalist of the first rank. He won so many awards for pursuing his craft with skill and excellence that he didn’t know what to do with all of them. When I visited him in his Golden Valley apartment last year, he and his wife, Maxine, had his plaques and trophies spread out in one room, trying to decide which to display and which to store.

Bill Thorkelson had one goal in life. He wanted to be the best religion writer God could make him to be. He was the quintessential Garrison Keillor-style shy Norwegian Lutheran. There was not an abrasive bone in his body. I often wondered how such a modest, quiet, almost self-effacing guy could muster the nerve to accomplish all he did. He attended sessions of the World Council of Churches over a span of 50 years and showed up three years running at the sessions of Vatican II in Rome. After retiring from writing for the religion page of the Minneapolis Star, he just kept on writing (including stories for Metro Lutheran).

What a witness to Christian vocation!