Magazine article The Christian Century

Living Long

Magazine article The Christian Century

Living Long

Article excerpt

YEARS AGO I wrote about the tendency of modernist, evolution-minded, progressive, pacifist theists to live long lives. Someone once asked Vida Scudder the secret of her longevity. She said that she was a liberal who nurtured many projects, and she had to get up each morning to see how they were doing. I recall the very senior Charles Clayton Morrison, decades-long editor of this magazine, chastising some of us younger editors in the 1950s for including Eastern Orthodoxy in our ecumenical scope and hope. "If you include them, I may not see the day of ecumenical fulfillment," he said.

Nowadays there are not too many modernist, evolution-minded, progressive, pacifist theists around. But members of another tribe may be enjoying similar longevity. I speak of Lutheran ministers, whose deaths get chronicled in the Lutheran. My family called my attention to the April issue, which gives a current accounting.

They had noticed the death of Edgar H. Behrens, who reached 99. Behrens mentored me from 1958 to 1963 as I founded a new congregation five miles away from his suburban parish. He also baptized my son John the month I began writing for this magazine in '56.

Read on, said family members. The next obituary was of Wenzel A. Bloom, 100, followed by those of ten other nonagenarians, who died at 97, 93, 92, 91, 93, 98, 90, 90, 90 and 94. Seven more had been in their 80s. There were a few younger people, but they were greatly outnumbered.

Questions come to mind: Would other denominational magazines--those of the Disciples, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, United Methodists and the like--similarly testify to the connection between faith and longevity? …

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