Episode 390 - Glenda, Meet Jurgen

Episode 354 · June 11th, 2024 · 19 mins 52 secs

About this Episode

John Zahl recently said that God seems to be interested not so much in preventing our suffering as in redeeming us from it. (I might add, through it, even.)

My long friendship with the theologian Jurgen Moltmann, who died June 3rd at the age of 98, began with a somewhat dramatic "happening" that lines up with JAZ's statement. This new cast describes what happened.

When I went to Tubingen in early 1992 to begin doctoral studies in theology there -- with the warmest sacrificial encouragement of Mary, our three sons being "in tow" -- I got there only to find out that the actual man with whom I had hoped to study was pretty cool about the whole thing. He was perfectly nice, but it turned out his English was not up to his own standard. So he was (moderately) happy to help overseas students who came from other universities but was reluctant to take on a foreign student "full time" on his own ground. He was just cool -- in temperament, I mean. I did not know where I stood.

In any event, Herr Moltmann observed this; and one day, during a kind of barbecue in his garden, when he saw that I was wrung dry from studying Hebrew durch Deutsch and was also receiving little encouragement from the other Great Man, he piped up and said this: "Paul" -- addressing yours truly by his first name was a wonder in itself within that setting at that time --"Paul, I like you. He won't help you. Forget about him. I will take you on, and yes, it will be about Justification!" Herr Moltmann added the last sentence because he knew that I was not "about" his own celebrated specialty, the Theology of Liberation. He knew that I was really not "about" any _of his principal interests. But that didn't seem to matter. Apparently _I mattered.

Jurgen -- as he wanted me to call him forever and ever, amen -- never stopped helping me. And helping Mary, and helping John, and helping David, and helping Simeon. In fact, we made it! Our whole family made it.

Herr Moltmann (Jurgen!) was the subject of Glenda's "Run to Me", and I was the object. One is beyond thankful. Forever.

p.s. You can respond to the fundraising appeal by clicking here.