Archived Sections, Commentary

When the mourning comes

As I write “From the Editor” for the July issue, one of my longtime personal heroes is in the hospital. Having lived a long life with remarkable twists and turns, Nelson Mandela seems to be nearing the end of his life.
During college, a number of friends and I became involved in the divestment movement, an effort to provide international pressure to free South Africa’s majority black population from the official government policy of racial segregation called apartheid. We were all stunned when less than 15 years later, not only had Mandela been released from jail, but he had become the first “non-white” president of his country.

Bob Hulteen

A few years later, President Mandela made a trip to the U.S. Rather than using traditional forms of law enforcement protection, Mandela asked Howard University students and members of Sojourners magazine, where I worked, to provide a nonviolent presence at his Washington, D.C., speech.
Having helped to lead the nonviolence training, I was standing in a backroom of that city’s convention center when the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I turned, and President Mandela was in the room, not 30 feet away.
Mandela was regal. Not beaten down by his years in Robben Island Prison or the indignities of apartheid, Mandela forgave his oppressors, transforming even their hate into love and respect.
I will mourn the day Mandela passes.

The loss of the great ones

Several handsful of careful Metro Lutheran readers searched the June issue looking for an article about the Center for Changing LivesCenter Café mentioned on the front page. Interested by the photo of two young children who participated in the weekly Thursday luncheon, readers wondered where the piece was since it wasn’t on the promised page 11.
Well, the article does appear … on page 11 of the issue you now hold in your hands. This practical ministry of Lutheran Social Service does finally get its due.
I apologize to disappointed readers for the confusion. Unfortunately, I had left the writing of that article until late in the deadline process, not knowing how much space would remain. And, on deadline weekend, my father unexpectedly went into hospice. I was distracted by his illness and my inability to rush to his side until deadline was finished. In the end, on the morning the paper needed to go to print, I still didn’t have the article done and couldn’t imagine writing it.
Thankfully, Sara Masters, the communications director for the ELCA’s Minneapolis Area Synod, offered to fill the space with an adapted version of an article she wrote for the synod’s InterActs. Unfortunately, the front page had already been sent to the printer. Thus the discrepancy.
Also thankfully, I was able to then drive to Thief River Falls, and spend a couple days with my 96-year-old father before he died on May 19.
I am mourning the death of my father.

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