Monday, September 15, 2014

Dona Nobis Pacem -- a Christmas (well, kinda Christmas-y) round for Prairieland Dulcimer Strings

d r a f t

Stephen Seifert's 2005 collection "The Early Years,"

Scroll down to the end and print out page 12. Steve also has some very good instructional material at the front of the book on strumming and filling in to keep the sound of a mountain dulcimer going when you're playing longer notes. And, as always when you're using free samples on line, take a look at Steve's website. There's a lot of good stuff there, including the "Join the Jam" book we use at our Clayville and Atonement session.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Terrible Swedes" -- Andover's community baseball team of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and a truly remarkable home run

Very well-written feature story by Stephen Elliott in the Dispatch and Argus when the team was honored in 2007. Elliott's lede and nut graf:

ANDOVER -- They played on ball diamonds with no fences, where collections were taken up to pay for bats and baseballs.

They traveled to small towns around the area, where farm kids could watch their heroes round the bases. Cheers came from people standing outside the dusty ballfields.

They were known as the Andover Terrible Swedes, and they played baseball in the open fields, in rain and sunshine, sometimes into darkness. The players came from farms and factory jobs to share a little of their youth with each other and the fans who came to watch.

Eugene Carlson started his career with the Andover Junior Swedes back in 1939.

When he puts his fingers around a baseball today, the 84-year-old still has a firm grip after all these years.

The eyes squint a little in the sun. The smile seems to reveal memories of a time when crowds came out to see a young boy standing in the open spotlight on a dirt field.…

This, on the local team's origin:

Andover historian Ron Peterson said the Terrible Swedes came about after one of the Swedish players, "Stripes" Johnson, saw a local basketball game with a team called, "Olson's Terrible Swedes," in the 1920s. "Stripes" thought it would make a good name for the baseball club.

And a good deal of history about the team, the players and their service in WWII, and the post-war years, including this:

"One time, a guy hit a ground ball past second base, and it went into a gopher hole in the outfield," Mr. Carlson said. "The guy got a home run."

And this, for a kicker at the end:

But, the Swedes faded out in the late 1950s to early '60s.

The ghosts of the Terrible Swedes are being honored this weekend. Mr. Carlson and Mr. Johnson will be there, along with former teammate and Milan resident Vergene Samuelson.

"I see them now out there running around in the dust," Mr. Carlson said of today's baseball players. "I think, `isn't that a bunch of crazy people?'

"I did it. But, when you're younger, you do a lot of crazy things."

Stephen Elliott, "`Terrible Swedes' played for the love of baseball" Dispatch-Argus QCOnline.com 31 May 2007, http://qconline.com/archives/qco/display.php?id=340738.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lars Paul Esbjörn's psalmodikon -- pix and measurements

D R A F T

Notes and pictures from my visit to the Jenny Lind Chapel yesterday with Ron Peterson of the Andover Historical Society, who removed the Esbjörn instrument from its display case and allowed me to measure it. (See also the picture with my post Psalmodikon -- misc. notes on resonance strings (resonanssträngar) immediately below on Sept. 5.) It is clearly a sophisticated, well crafted musical instrument.

Psalmodikon in Jenny Lind Chapel museum

Esbjörn was a protoge of Johann Dillner, who wrote the most important primer on the psalmodikon, and he was one of two founders of the Augustana Synod who used it widely in the early days. (The other was Eric Norelius, of Vasa, Minnesota.) His instrument is wider and deeper than Dillner recommended in his introduction to the 1846 sifferskrift (psalmodikon tablature) edition of Johan Olof Wallin's Swedish Psalmbook of 1819 (click here for details), but is approximately the same length. Its measurements:

  • Length (along side of instrument): 44 inches.
  • Breadth (at wide end): 11.75 inches.
  • Breadth (at narrow end): 5.25 inches.
  • Height: 3.75 inches.
  • Fretboard: 29.75 inches.
  • Vibrating string length (estimated): 33-34 inches.

Some other measurements: The fretboard is raised approximately 1 inch from the soundbox. Like other Swedish psalmodikons, it lacks metal frets but is cut in a shallow sawtoothed pattern The bridge is a block of wood 1 inch in height, 0.75 inch at the bottom and 0.25 inch at the top. It is cut in a right-angled trapezoidal pattern with the right angle nearest the fretboard.

The picture below, taken in 2013 when the instrument was in its display case, shows its overall proportions:


More detail below: At left, decorated sound hole, 8.75 inches from the nut end. At right, nut end of psalmodikon with wooden peg for melody string. Drone strings are metal loop-end string slipped over woods crews. And at bottom, detail shows metal tuning pegs for drone strings and end of melody string, center, attached to woodscrew.


Friday, September 05, 2014

Psalmodikon -- misc. notes on resonance strings (resonanssträngar)

A mystery: Lars Paul Esbjorn's psalmodikon in the Jenny Lind Chapel is set up with a playing string over the fretboard at the center of the instrument and what look like eight or nine 10 unfretted strings at the side of the fretboard (see picture below). One of them, I believe, could have been double-stopped along with the melody string as a drone. But the rest of them look like a player wouldn't be able to reach them with a bow, so they must have vibrated sympathetically like the resonance strings on a Swedish nykelharpa or a Norwegian hardingfele.

So here's the mystery: How could you tune the psalmodikon so you wouldn't be retuning all nine 11 (counting the melody) strings every time you changed keys?

Esbjorn's psalmodikon in Jenny Lind Chapel, Andover, Ill.

Psalmodikons with extra strings weren't all that uncommon in Sweden, judging from the descriptions of the 19th-century instruments on display in Swedish museums, but apparently they weren't standardized, either. It seems to me, from what I've read of Stig Wallin's "Schwedische Hummel," that the Swedish instruments were influenced by the box zithers formerly played in Sweden. So that suggests one possibility -- was the psalmodikon tuned in fifths and octaves like a hummel?

But there's a psalmodikon in a museum in Uppsala that may have belonged to Johan Dillner (provenance uncertain, tho') that looks to me like it may have been keyed like a nyckelharpa. If so, could the resonance strings have been tuned to the notes of a scale? That's how a nyckelharpa is tuned.

My best guess is that different makers would have approached the problem differently, modeling their drones or resonance strings after whatever instruments they were familiar with. The instruments described below have anywhere from four to 16 resonance strings. But it's only a guess.

At any rate, I've been Googling around about psalmodikons, hummels and nyckelharpas lately. My unedited notes follow in Swedish and English (or what passes for English in Google's translation utility) in italics … all of which, taken together, raise as many questions as they answer.

Wikipedia (Swedish) http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalmodikon has the basics:

"Ett psalmodikon är ett musikinstrument som utgörs av en långsmal resonanslåda med en till tre strängar spända över en greppbräda mellan ett strängstall och en snäcka. Kallas ibland för psalmonika. I Gagnef, Dalarna, finns fler exemplar med tre stämskruvar - dock monterades ibland två strängar av för att förenkla inlärningen. Avancerade modeller kan ha upp till 12 bordunsträngar." [A psalmodikon is a musical instrument consisting of a narrow resonance box with one to three strings taut over a fretboard between a string and a stable shell . Sometimes referred to psalmonika . In Gagnef , Dalarna , there are more copies with three tuners - however sometimes mounted two strings to facilitate learning. Advanced models can have up to 12 drone.]

And an English-language Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalmodicon" (note spelling with a "c") has a footnote that seems to describe the Esbjorn pslamodikon almost to a T: " Francis William Galpin (1937). A Textbook of European Musical Instruments: Their Origin, History and Character. Williams & Norgate, Limited. - The Norwegian and Swedish Psalmodikon, of somewhat the same outline, was introduced by Johan Dillner (c. 1810) for accompanying the Church hymn-singing; it has one melody string of gut and eight sympathetic strings of metal." I don't think they were that standardized, though. Certainly the ones I've seen described in museums (see below) have anywhere from 5 to 11 or 12 strings.

Interesting that the playing string would be gut and the bourdon strings metal. Why would that be?

The Swedish Wikipedia page notes, BTW, that, "Instrumentet var även populärt vid husandakter i hemmen och bland kringresande predikanter" (The instrument was also popular at husandakter in homes and among itinerant preachers.). "Husandakter" would be home services, by my translation, or conventicle prayer meetings held in someone's home.

DigitaltMuseum http://digitaltmuseum.se/things/psalmodikon/S-UM/UM09772 has pix of Dillner's psalmodikon in Upplandsmuseet in Uppsala

Pix can be enlarged on DigitaltMuseum webpage (Creative Commons)

Thumbnail history of Dillner and detailed description of the instrument in the museum at Uppsala:

Psalmodikon. Experimentmodell av trä. Ljust brunbetsat och på kortsidorna svartbetsat trä. Resonanslåda med plats för 16 resonanssträngar, tre tonsträngar. Däröver fästes med haspar på sidorna en träklaviatur med tangenter av björk, vissa svartmålade. Påspikad bräda med klistrad lapp för tontecken. Avbalkningsbrädan försedd med metallklamrar och med nottecken i blyertsskrift. Svartmålade stämskruvar. Ljudhål dels S-formade dels hjärtformade. På fastklistrad pappersetikett på sidan står skrivet med bläck: "av Prosten Dillner / Östervåla / Anno 1800". [Psalmodikon. Experimental Model of wood. Bright brunbetsat {brown stain} and the short sides black stained wood. Resonance Box with space for 16 sympathetic strings, three strings. Above that is fastened with hasps on the sides with a träklaviatur {wooden keyboard} keys of birch, some black painted. Påspikad [nailed to] board with sticky patch tontecken {tone characters, e.g. A, B, H, C, D, etc.?} Avbalkningsbrädan {partition board} fitted with metal staples and with musical notes in pencil writing. Black Painted tuners. Sound hole partly S-shaped partly heart-shaped. On the glued paper label on the page is written in ink: "The dean of Dillner / Östervåla / Anno 1800".] Provenance is missing, however: "Uppgifter om proveniens sakanas."

That superstructure reminds me of the keys on a nykelharpa, so I Googled around to see how the sympathetic, or resonance strings, are tuned on that instrument.

Nyckelharpa. http://www.nyckelharpa.org/tips/for-beginners/tuning-the-resonance-strings/ -- American Nykelharpa Association has this:

In the most common configuration, the resonance strings are tuned up the scale starting at G# for the lowest sounding string, located nearest the C playing string, and up to G for the highest sounding string, located nearest the A playing string. So the twelve resonance strings sound G#, A, Bb, B, C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#, G from low to high.
Also a page on tuning the playing strings and a PDF file that covers both.

Hardingfele. http://www.hfaa.org/Home/articles-on-the-hardanger-fiddle/a-guide-to-tunings-on-the-hardingfele. Karin Løberg Code of Hardanger Fiddle Association of America has detailed information on traditional tunings. The regular tuning, used for 81 percent of tunes transcribed in Norsk Folkemusikk - Hardingfeleslåtter (NFMHS) is: a.d'.a'.e" for playing strings and [(b).d'.e'.f#'.a'] for the sympathetic strings.

QUESTIONS:

  • Could Esbjorn's psalmodikon, with its eight resonance strings, have been tuned to a C major octave -- sort of like a nyckelharpa?

  • Or was it tuned to octaves and fifths like a hummel?

It has seemed to me, and Stig Walin more-or-less confirms in "Die Schwedische Hummel," that as psalmodikon makers branched out from the very simple box zither that Dillner describes in his books, they were influenced by the hummels that were still being played in parts of Sweden during the early 1800s. Certainly the overall shape of the instruments shows that influence. Could the drone strings have been tuned like a hummel, too?

If Walin says anthing about how the drones were tuned, I haven't found it. But here's what he says about the psalmodikon in general terms:

Um 1830 begann der unglaublich schnelle Siegeszug des Psalmodikons über das Land.1 Das Instrument wurde von den mächtigen Erweckungsbewegungen der 40er Jahre und der folgenden Jahrzehnte in Gebrauch genommen. Trotzdem aber hätte sich das Tonwerkzeug nie so schnell ausbreiten können und wäre bei der tra­ ditionsverbundenen Landbevölkerung nie zu sofortiger Anwendung gekommen, wenn nicht der Boden von dem verwand­ ten älteren Zithertypus Hummel so gut vorbereitet gewesen wäre. Als ein belieb­ tes Werkzeug einer rein profanen Musik­ pflege (einschliesslich des Tanzes) muss­ te die Hummel vielerorten als schwer sündbelastet betrachtet und deshalb bei­ seite gestossen oder einfach zerstört wor­den sein,2 um statt dessen vom Psalmo­ dikon ersetzt zu werden,3 das von An­fang an ein Instrument für Gottesdienst und Hausandacht war. [Around 1830 began the incredibly quick triumph over the Psalmodikons the areas.1 The instrument was of the mighty revivals of 40's and the following decades taken in use. but still the Tonwerkzeug [sound, i.e. music, tool] would have never been so fast can spread and would be at the traditionsverbundenen [tradition-bound] rural population never come to immediate application , if not the ground would have been so well prepared by the pretext th older zither type Hummel . As a tool to ANY tes a purely secular music care (including dance ) must te the Hummel have been in many places considered as serious sin burdened and therefore joined in page or simply destroyed by 2 instead of Psalmodikon , 3 which was from the beginning a tool for worship and prayer house .]

Stig Walin, Die Schwedische Hummel: Eine Instrumentenkindliche Untersuchung. Stockholm: Nordiska Museet, 1952. Ethnomusicology http://allourmusic.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/wallin_hummel/.

Interesting tangent (at least to me): Bourdon is the French word for bumblebee!

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Some details about home services I haven't seen elsewhere from Swedish history of psalmodikon in Wikipedia:

Instrumentet började användas i Danmark under 1820-talet, och spreds sedan till övriga Norden och Baltikum. Mest känt är prästen Johan Dillners (1785–1862) psalmodikon från 1830, som användes i en del av Sveriges fattigaste församlingar i stället för orgel. Dillner använde psalmodikonet för att lära ut de nya melodierna i Haeffners koralbok, och gav ut dem i siffernotskrift 1830 (Melodierna till Swenska Kyrkans Psalmer, Noterade med ziffror, för Skolor och Menigheten). Han sade att han kunde lära vem som helst att hantera ett psalmodikon på bara två timmar. Instrumentet var även populärt vid husandakter i hemmen och bland kringresande predikanter. Under senare delen av 1800-talet ersattes oftast psalmodikonet av orgelharmoniet. [The instrument was first used in Denmark during the 1820s , and then spread to the other Nordic countries and the Baltic states. Most famous is the priest Johan Dillner (1785-1862) psalmodikon 1830 , which was used in some of Sweden's poorest parishes instead of organ. Dillner psalmodikonet used to teach new songs in Haeffners koralbok , and published them in numerical notation, 1830 ( The melodies to Swenska hymns , quoted by ziffror , for Schools and the congregation ) . He said he could teach anyone to manage a psalmodikon in just two hours . The instrument was also popular at husandakter in homes and among itinerant preachers. During the latter part of the 1800s was replaced mostly psalmodikonet of the harmonium.]

Cf. the description of the lay readers' conventicle in Moberg's "The Emigrants" ...

Misc. descriptions of psalmodikons in museums (w/ varying numbers of bourdon strings -- all translations, such as they are, by Google):

  • Malmö Museums. http://carlotta.malmo.se/carlotta-mmus/web/object/21994 Psalmodikons, string zither, with long, narrow resonance box made of wood. Fingerboard with 30 bands, melody string missing, with 11 sympathetic strings. The resonance box has a round and two crescent-shaped sound hole. Waisted rim at the round sound hole in the wider part of the resonance box.
  • Kulturen Lund. http://carl.kulturen.com/web/object/24388 Notes: KM 23594th Psalmodikons m. strings fr. V. Karaby, Harjagers hd. conn. by Blecker, Lund. 10:00 With sympathetic strings. String Games and Stable missing.
  • Musik- och Teatermuseet, Stockholm http://old.musikochteatermuseet.se/samlingar/detalj.php?l=sv&iid=1127&v=2007-10-31 16:23:31&str= 1 melody string 16 inner resonance strings Rectangular corpus of neck-like upper part.
  • _________________. http://instrument.statensmusikverk.se/samlingar/detalj.php?l=sv&iid=762&str=19 Flared sides, botten.1 melody string 4 outer sympathetic strings, possibly internal resonance strings.
  • Upplandsmuseet http://www.europeana.eu/portal/record/91617/upmu_object_UM01766.html Psalmodikon av ljust lackat träslag med mörkare fläckar, förmodligen av bets. Avbalkningsbräda med vissa partier svartmålade. Metallklamrar åtskiljer varje avbalkningsdel. Ristade tontecken. Ovan dessa ristade notbokstäver. Stämskruvar svartmålade. Endast melodisträngen (av tarm) är bevarad, men strängfästen visar att tolv resonanssträngar funnits. Stall saknas. Ett runt ljudhål och två halvrunda ljudhål. [Psalmodikons of brightly painted wood with darker spots , probably beet . Avbalkningsbräda with some parts painted black . Metal brackets separating each avbalkningsdel . Carved tontecken . Above these carved notbokstäver . Tuners painted black . Only the melody string ( of gut) is preserved , but the string mounts shows that twelve sympathetic strings existed. Stall missing. A round sound hole and two half- round sound hole.] From Hälsingland. Pix show tuners at end like Esbjörn's in Jenny Lind Chapel.

But my original hunch, for what it's worth, is that the bourdon strings would have been tuned like a hummel, since a lot of Swedish psalmodikons look like their shape is influenced by the hummel.

Creole architecture -- pix on New York Review of Books blog

Nathaniel Rich, "Remnants of New Orleans," Review of Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere by Richard Sexton. NYR Gallery (22 August 2014) http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/gallery/2014/aug/22/remnants-new-orleans/.

[Lede:] “While it actually resembles no other city upon the face of the earth,” wrote Lafcadio Hearn of New Orleans, “it owns suggestions of towns in Italy, and in Spain, of cities in England and in Germany, of seaports in the Mediterranean, and of seaports in the tropics.” There’s no better illustration of this than the photographs of Richard Sexton. For four decades Sexton has been playing a transcontinental game of Concentration, pinballing between New Orleans and the cities of the Creole diaspora—Havana, Quito, Cartagena, Cap-Haïtien—documenting resonances in architecture and style. His photographs have now been collected in the gorgeous Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere, and are on display this fall in a free exhibition at the Historic New Orleans Collection.

e.g. pix of downtown street scenes in Havana, Cap Haitien and Bourbon Street, housing blocks in New Orleans and Panama City ...

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Modes matter: "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" in a minor key (and a bonus track of Cyndi Lauper playing dulcimer)

On Huffington Post UK at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/08/21/girls-just-wanna-have-fun-major-minor_n_5697550.html, a minor-key remake of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." Here's the YouTube clip:

Says HuffPo UK's blurb,

Yes, if you want to imbue Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 hit 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' with a deep sense of sadness and irony, simply shift it from its original major key to a minor one.

It's the work of the very talented young Chase Holfelder, who's producing an ongoing series in which he takes major songs and transposes them to minor. ...

Agreed. Here, by way of comparison, is the 1983 original by Cyndi Lauper. Video on CyndiLauperVEVO channel:

Bonus track: Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time (Live on Caroline Rhea show in 2003):

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Prairieland Clayville downloadable flier

Prairieland Strings/Clayville
Pioneer Academy of Music

Beginner-friendly amateur jam sessions

If you have a dulcimer, a
 guitar, banjo, fiddle, autoharp, tin whistle or any 
other musical instrument 
that you want to learn, or you haven’t touched 
in years – or if you 
want to make music with
 other people at a steady, moderate pace in a 
relaxed, beginner-friendly
 atmosphere – the Springfield area has two “slow jams” designed for rank beginners and novice players. They are free of charge and open to the public:

Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music. 10 a.m. to noon, first Saturday of the month, Clayville Historic Site, Ill. 125, Pleasant Plains.

Prairieland Strings. 7 to 9 p.m., first Tuesday and third Thursday of the month, Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 West Jefferson (Ill. 125), Springfield.

Our goal is to bring together amateur players to learn new tunes and enjoy the fun of making music together in a friendly, non-competitive atmosphere. While our groups started with dulcimer players who wanted to jam with other instruments, we welcome all instruments and players of all skill levels. The more variety, the better we like it!

We mostly play old-time American fiddle tunes, gospel and folk hymns, traditional Irish, show tunes – and practically anything else that strikes our fancy. We’re not about the fine points of technique as much as sharing our knowledge, having fun and making music with each other.

We also 
offer occasional song-
sharing circles and free 
workshops at Clayville called “Fake It Till You Make It: Getting to Know Your Instrument and Playing in a Group.”

For information, email Peter Ellertsen of Springfield, who coordinates the jams, at hogfiddle @ gmail.com, phone (217) 793-2587.


To make a flier, follow these steps (more or less) Exact procedure will vary, depending on your word processing software:

  1. Set your margins at 0.5 inches all way around.
  2. Copy and paste the text into a word processing document.
  3. Copy the pictures, paste them into the text and wrap the text around them.
  4. Size the text (in other words, blow it up) as follows: headline 36 point; subhead 24pt; body copy 12pt.
  5. Find a lonely bulletin board, and put up the flier.

Clip art © Philip Martin, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. http://www.phillipmartin.info/clipart/homepage.htm.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Miscellaneous news clips: ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on ethnic heritage, paradox, popular culture, Lake Wobegon, Jell-O salad and multicultural Santa Lucia girls

Verbatim quotations. (Quotation marks in the indented blockquotes are those of the original newspaper story.) Posted here and quoted at length in case the newspapers don't keep archiving them indefinitely.

Ann Rogers. "New Lutheran Bishop Focuses on Gospel." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 19 August 2013 http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2013/08/19/New-Lutheran-Bishop-Elizabeth-Eaton-focuses-on-gospel/stories/201308190182#ixzz3CDeHE29f.

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has a quick sense of humor, which is helpful because she often contends with an image of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America crafted by radio humorist Garrison Keillor, whose Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church is firmly rooted in quaint small town America and Scandinavian heritage.

Both of those are beautiful, said the woman just elected presiding bishop of the 4-million-member denomination. But an influx of Latino members is a bright spot in the otherwise declining ELCA. The congregation she led for 15 years in Ohio had crack houses for neighbors. Lutherans, she said, need to bring Jesus to whoever is living next door, using both old-time hospitality and newfangled social media.

"Just tell people to check us out. We're open Sundays," she quipped, then checked her words.

"We are also seeing that Sunday morning is a really bad time for many people. Maybe we have to be more flexible about making it possible for people to come."

Eaton, 58, is a native of Cleveland who has been bishop of ELCA's Northeastern Ohio Synod since 2006. … Post-Gazette story mentions loss of 500,000 members since vote on gay rostered clergy, but puts the membership issue in the context of an overall need by mainline churches for attracting young families, more sophisticated use of technology, etc. Including a wonderful quote about the printing press:

About half the churches in her synod have websites.

"We have one with no indoor plumbing," she said. "The last really effective Lutheran use of new technology was the printing press. People don't look in the phone book any more. If you want people to find your congregation, you need a website."

Popular culture … reaching beyond ethnicity …

When her college-age nephew told her that he didn't believe in God, she asked him to describe the God he didn't believe in, she said. After listening to his description of a wrathful, anti-science, anti-intellectual deity, she told him, " 'I don't believe in that God either.' We got to the point where I was able to say this is the God I believe in, this is why Jesus makes sense in my life."

Her nephew hadn't been raised among people who believe in the sort of God he described, she said. It's a stereotype that arises from popular culture more than from the church. She said that one of her young adult daughters tells her own peers that they're intellectually lazy when they say things like that.

"She'll say 'You are letting that [view] seep in from the culture. That wasn't what you experienced growing up,' " Bishop Eaton said.

Messiah Lutheran Church in Ashtabula, where she served from 1991 to 2006, was originally so ethnically Swedish that worship in English didn't start until the 1930s. Yet, by the time she arrived, church members were marrying their black neighbors. Gay couples and their families began to attend. The congregation was welcoming. Now, she said, little black and Filipino children wear traditional Swedish costumes for the Santa Lucia festival at Christmas.

Brackets in the original.


"Elizabeth Dias. "Meet the Woman Who Will Lead Evangelical Lutherans: ‘Religious but Not Spiritual’" Time 18 August 2013. http://swampland.time.com/2013/08/18/meet-the-woman-who-will-lead-evangelical-lutherans-religious-but-not-spiritual/.

Many people might not know what makes the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America unique. How would you explain the denomination?

If people even know what a Lutheran is, most people are stuck on the lovely homespun caricature developed by Garrison Keillor in Prairie Home Companion and Lake Wobegon and all that. We often have parodies of ourselves where we say that all we do is eat different kinds of Jell-O and green-bean casserole. That is no longer true about us. Our growing edges in this church are African national congregations and Latino congregations, which is bringing a whole new wonderful flavor to the Lutheran potluck, theologically and culturally.

* * *

You support the decision to allow partnered gay clergy, but you also believe that the church should make room for people who don’t. Why?

Lutherans have a history of living with paradox. There are some things that are nonnegotiable for us. But there are other things that it is possible for people who love Jesus holding the same faith together, can have very strong, very sharp disagreements, but it does not have to lead to disunity. Things like marriage or the ordering of government or certain political positions, we can and we do disagree, but we agree on the cross.

We want to be a place that says we can disagree on things that are vitally important but still listen to each other and see in the other a brother or sister in Christ, and more importantly, someone for whom Christ died.


T.K. Barger. "Bishop Eaton Stands for Inclusion." Toledo Blade 1 February 2014 https://www.toledoblade.com/Religion/2014/02/01/Bishop-Eaton-stands-for-inclusion.html

[lede] The presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA, is Ohioan Elizabeth Eaton, who moved to Chicago to take office at the beginning of the year. She works for the larger community, but her roots are strong. When asked if she had words specifically for Toledoans, she said, “What I'm really concerned about are those people in Toledo, some of them root for Michigan. I want to say to my brothers and sisters in Toledo, don't go to the dark side, come back, come back to Ohio State.”

* * *

One more question had to be asked. With the presiding bishop the ultimate authority, in a way, in the church, what's the deal with green bean casserole at potluck dinners?

“Oh, geez, I'm not supposed to talk about that anymore,” Bishop Eaton said. “That's a caricature of northern central European, you know, Garrison Keeler [of the NPR show A Prairie Home Companion]. This is what we eat, so you can find it at a lot of potlucks.” She gave an example of a church staff member who is a lifelong Lutheran, but her Puerto Rican heritage doesn't include the dish. “In the Garrison Keillor understanding of what Lutherans are like, that's not who we are, and we have a need to understand that's not who we are anymore.”

But she also said, “Anything that has cream of mushroom soup as an ingredient is probably something that we can do.” Look for variety—and a mushroom or two—on Bishop Eaton's plate at the many church dinners she'll attend as presiding bishop.