What’s new in Rich and Charlie’s St. Arbuck’s world is actually very old if Acts 2:17 and Joel 2:28 are to be trusted: old men and women dream dreams and young men and women see visions. If it was true in days of yore, is it true today? Have you had any life changing dreams lately? Or visions? Or neither? Or both?
It took me a long time to get a handle on that Joel/Acts dream/vision language. In my experience dreams are based on past experiences. It’s hard to dream about what you’ve never done. Visions refer to brand new stuff, previously unknown to others, maybe even to yourself. Think about it. Isn’t that how change happens? The old work at keeping one of yesterday’s dream alive while the young “see” what has never been before and strike out for the unknown. Wow. That’s scary – as history demonstrates again and again! But where there is no vision there is no hope.
I got onto this dream-vision kick after reading a book recently published by Valparaiso University Press. Written by Richard Baepler it is entitled, “Keeper of the Dream: O.P. Kretzmann”. It’s a good book full of Lutheran history in general and that of the LCMS in particular. Baepler could have just as easily entitled the book, “Keeper of the Vision: O.P. Kretzmann”. Doesn’t it work both ways? As I read the book it seems to me that it did with O.P. in his Valpo days. He always seemed to be one visionary jump ahead of the change in his world that was developing in matters institutional, social, theological and political. All his life he worked at bridging the chasm between those who were ready for the authentic change and the new day that was developing all around and those who were dug in, determined to stick with the old ways and resist change no matter what.
To show what kind of man he was instead of wringing his hands over what WWII was doing to Valpo’s student body he worked hard at building a new kind of “Lutheran” college that was mostly female. Or when taller men were classified 4F in those days because of their height Valpo floored the first college basketball team in the USA all of whom were over six feet. He encouraged a Valpo base for the Lutheran Human Relations Association when most of our congregations were lily white. Valpo initiated a program for training congregation based youth workers. It was in the forefront of liturgical renewal in Lutheranism. There’s lots more. Is this enough of a teaser to make you want to read this book about that remarkable man and what he did in his life?
As for me and many of my peers the story of O.P. and Valpo is the story of our life. We were coming of age on parallel tracks of social, political and institutional change in our LCMS world much of which are still in process. As Yogi would put it, reading this book was de ja vous all over again for me. As far as dreamers are concerned it is a report of their world that was. For fellow visionaries it is a Triptik for what lies ahead.
How better to wrap this R and C St. Arbuck’s report than in words of Roy Rogers one of yesterday’s heroes: “Happy trails to you.” Or better yet, dreamer or visionary, “Vaya con Dios.”