Simple Recollections, Long Memories with Annunciations and Benedictions
A Tribute to Dr. John Henderson Cartwright
Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders—William Faulkner
The simple recollection is this: I met Dr. Cartwright in 1976 at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois where I was a matriculating senior and director of Minority Student Affairs. In the late seventies, Trinity was a white evangelical school with very few African American role models on faculty and staff. Imagine the small African American student community’s delight when Dr. John Henderson Cartwright came to campus to deliver a lecture on Martin Luther King, Jr. His lionesque countenance (panthera leo) with a huge peppered afro seated like a crown atop a blazing crimson academic gown was quite the sight! His probing intellect and commanding presence so impressed me that I requested a meeting with him at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where he served as Professor of Christian Ethics. During this period I was struggling with a decision to choose law or theology for my graduate work. In his own inimitable style, he suggested that I choose one or the other and get on with it. I did. I chose Garrett for my Masters of Divinity; and he left. So, upon graduation from Garrett, I followed him to Boston University where he had recently assumed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Chair in Social Ethics. My dissertation on “The Concept of Community in the Thought of Howard Thurman and Martin King, Jr.” bears his imprimatur and mentorship.
I have often wondered where my life and career would have headed had I not met John Henderson Cartwright. James Hillman writes: “Sooner or later something seems to call us onto a particular path. . . . a signal moment . . . an urge out of nowhere, a fascination, a peculiar turn of events struck like an annunciation: This is what I must do, this is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am.” Thank you, Dr. Cartwright.
The long memories that remain are of a different sort than simple recollections. My time at Boston University was filled with a busy schedule of balancing research and writing with pastoral work—a burdensome combination for all who have attempted this ill-advised pursuit. Dr. Cartwright never allowed me to compromise my intellectual integrity with the many, seemingly never-ending demands of the pastoral office. The marked-up exams on early Greek philosophical and ethical perspectives that are still in my possession remind me of his exacting (I felt, then, totalitarian) requirements for excellence. Yet over the eight years at Boston University, he never failed to give time, energy and thought to my many questions and challenges.
Beyond the moments of rigorous intellectual labor that he absolutely demanded of all his students, were the times when this kind and generous human being extended hospitality to me and my young family. I shall never forget an evening at the home of the Cartwrights, how after dinner, he stole away with our three-year old son, Clinton, and was completely absorbed at play and laughter, revealing a grace that I was privileged to witness. Sharon and I are forever grateful to “Mike” (Mrs. Cartwright) and to John for the experiences of grace, play and laughter that continue to shape our way and sustain us in the work to which we have been called. Benedictus qui est venit in nomine Domine.
Walter Earl Fluker
Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership
Boston University School of Theology
John Cartwright’s funeral will take place at 10 am on June 4 at:Sea Island Presbyterian Church 81 Lady’s Island Drive Beaufort, SC 29907
All sympathies should be mailed to:The family of John Cartwright 1729 Long Field Drive Dataw, SC 29920
Spoken prayer 1
This morning O God
We your people have come
We gathered just as we are
Some broken, some bruised, some bent
But all in need of you
Come O God
Shine the light of the cross upon us
That we may know again the light of your love
Spoken prayer 2
Make your love real to us
So much so that we become better followers of thee
Make it real to us
So much so that we desire a better way
Make your love real
Spoken prayer 3
In understanding your love
And when we love
We lift others higher than ourselves
This morning we lift before you
The STH community both near and far
We ask that you keep our neighbors in Japan in your care
May their present suffering be a stepping stone to what shall be
We lift all who are sick, including Arthur Ko and Carol Ho
May they feel the presence of your nail scarred hand when the treatments and diagnoses are too much to bear
We lift all who are bereaved including the family of Soon Chai-Sik
May they come to know you as the God of all comfort
We lift all who are in need
May they see in us the reality of serving a true and living God
A prayer from Alumnus The Rev. Dr. John Tamilio III, Ph.D.
Pilgrim United Church of Christ Cleveland, Ohio
Holy God of Earth, and Sea, and Sky,
of all that was and all that shall be —
It all seems to happen so quickly:
a rumble, a buckle in the earth, a swell.
And then, catching us unawares,
all that surrounds us is reduced to rubble.
Stone upon stone. Ash thickening the air.
Silence. Tears. Even nature laments.
And in the aftermath, the ocean travels
to foreign shores bringing ominous waves,
water that will obliterate, not baptize.
This is where the world stands at the
start of this somber, Lenten season.
Earthquakes thunder and tsunamis inundate
with little warning and even less prejudice.
We lift up our prayers and our hearts for
the people of Japan and Hawaii who lie
in the wake of such callous catastrophes.
As death tolls rise, and warnings increase
as far afield as Canada and South America,
our feelings of helpless intensify. Our
intercessions are with those who border
the Pacific, which is anything but placid now.
We turn our despondency over to you, O God.
We know, at the core of our being, that
you are not the cause of such travesty.
We also confess that we do not understand
why evil, be it natural or human wrought,
exists in this world you created and blessed.
For you are a God of minimum protection,
yet you are also a God of maximum support.
For this we offer you our prayers of gratitude
and we ask that your sacred presence surround
the victims of such devastation and that you
give them the strength and courage they need
as they gather with family and friends, with
relief workers and missionaries, to rebuild their
homes and communities. Bless them, we pray.
Offer solace to the loved ones of those whose
lives were lost and to those who desperately
search for bodies that may never be found.
Indeed, we are dust and to dust we shall return.
The finitude of our earthly sojourn hits hard
during this penitential season of prayer and fasting.
Be with us through these forty days, O Holy One,
as we try to make sense of it all. Help us be still.
We ask this, and all things, in the name of your
Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ — the One in
whose name we forever rejoice to pray.
Also, our recent graduate, Katsumi Higashide, shared the following word from his community: “Our school and students are fine, but we are still contacting students’ family who live northern part of Japan. More than 1400 people are missing by Tsunami and the earthquake.” Please hold in prayer the community of Katsumi and the thousands of people in Japan who are suffering loss of life and every other imaginable kind of loss.
BU Alumna, Ms. Ruth N. Caplan, and sculptor Mr. Chris Sharp, realize their dream of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King with a memorial sculpture of Dr. King, which Mr. Sharp has kindly loaned to BUSTH.
Eventually, Ms. Caplan’s dream is to honor Dr. King with a life-size sculpture at his three alma maters- Crozer Theological Seminary, Boston University and Morehouse College. As a 1962 graduate of BU who was blessed with the opportunity to hear Dr. Howard Thurman preach at Marsh Chapel and as the granddaughter of a professor at Crozer Theological Seminary, she have a personal connection to two of the three schools.
Mr. Sharp says this of his work: “In my sculpture of Dr. King, I connect the dual portraits to depict his strength and compassion. The crouching figure is reaching out to help us all rise to a better place. The viewer can figuratively and literally touch the hand of Dr. King and all the ideals and righteousness he represents. When you touch the outstretched hand of Dr. King you are forgiven for your past sins and you are encouraged to strive toward a better “you.” Rising out of the crouching figure like a spirit of hope is the image of Dr. King at his most iconic moment giving his historic, “I have a dream” speech. As you look at this rising image of Dr. King in a moment of impassioned speech you also see an echoing repetition of the right arm. This gliding hand is meant to represent the passing of time and the cadence of Dr. King’s oration. Dr. King is literally reaching for the highest human potential. The speech finds its unique strength when Dr. King goes off script and starts his oration of truth and passion. His extemporaneous words are so poignant they require every thinking, conscientious individual to question equality and justice in our society. The transcendence of the moment is all in the cadence of the oration; truth and passion sing out in higher, higher and higher notes until the melodic resonance of Dr. King’s words convince a whole society that when we share the “dream” of a better tomorrow it becomes a reality. The work of providing liberty and justice for all members of society is the true test of a democracy, of our American democracy. This sculpture is meant to be an ever vigil icon of our need to continually demand better of ourselves and our government to maintain a harmonious, just, and equitable society.”
Read more about the sculptor in Washington Post.
The sculpture is on display in STH Room 325.
Claire Wolfteich has been awarded a Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant for 2011-2012 to work on her project ““Bridging the Gap: Christian Spiritual Traditions and the Quotidian Practices of Lay Women.” She will address the continuing gap between dominant models of spiritual renewal and the tangible life realities of American women, especially mothers. Claire is poised to do a superb study, and we hope she will also find good Sabbath time in the midst of her intensive research.
Anjulet Tucker has been accepted to the 2011-2012 Wabash Pre-Tenure Faculty Workshop, which will give her a two-year opportunity to engage with other faculty – teaching faculty and pre-tenure peers – in dynamic intensives on teaching. She will contribute and learn much in this program, and will also receive a grant to support the next phase of her research.
Courtney Goto has been accepted to the 2011-12 Wabash Teaching and Learning Workshop for Pre-Tenure Asian and Asian American Religion and Theology Faculty. This will give her opportunity to engage with other Asian scholars about teaching and living in the academy. She will be a dynamic presence in the two-year workshops and will draw much support for her teaching and research.
Congratulations to all of you! You are amazing people, and we are proud of you!
We have a famous colleague, whom we have valued and admired long before she became “the talk of the town.” Dr. Jennifer Knust’s book, Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire, is stirring important conversations on the Internet and in national media. Such media talk contributes vitally to public theological discourse. Dean Moore and the entire STH community appreciate Dr. Knust’s willingness to engage in such a substantive and important way. As a community, we are thankful and proud of the contributions she has made to theological discussion. Whether people agree or not, Dr. Knust’s book is encouraging people to think deeply about their perspectives on faith and sexuality, and to take the Bible very seriously as they do so. Below is a list of the latest references so you can know more of the public discussion.
The BU School of Theology is fortunate to have Dr. Thomas Thangaraj as Visiting Professor of World Christianity in the 2011 and 2012 spring semesters. He will teach two courses in the spring 2011 semester: Images of Christ in World Christianity and Christian Encounter with Hinduism. To learn more about Dr. Thangaraj and to see the course descriptions, go to http://www.bu.edu/sth/thangaraj/.
We are thrilled to publish two reviews of the 2010Boston conference, one written by Norman Thomas for the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (link), and another by Jeffrey MacDonald of the Associated Religions Press (link).
You can find the schedule for the 2010Boston Centennial Celebration of Edinburgh 1910: ‘The Changing Contours of World Mission and Christianity’ here.