Reinder Bruinsma may be retired as far as career goes, but at 74, this former pastor, teacher, and high-ranking administrator has viewed retirement as freedom to double down on what he loves most. He preaches, writes books, translates scholarly tomes, and from time to time, joins his local hiking club for a 10-mile hike along the canals.
As a student at Andrews University at the end of the 1970s, I heard the names Vick, Weiss, and Hilgert mentioned, almost in a whisper, but they had been so effectively airbrushed out of the institutional history that I never learned why they were no longer there. Then Spectrum went online with its blog, and there was Dr. Herold Weiss, first in Spanish, then in English.
Stories depend for their effect on suspension of disbelief. A story is a conspiracy between storyteller and the audience. The best way of ruining a good story is to insist that it be read as history. You would not do that to the Wizard of Oz or the story of Cinderella, but if you are a biblical literalist, chances are you would do so to the stories of the Bible.
The village atheist was never a threat to people of faith. He—and it was always a he—never amounted to being more than a gadfly. That was the case with Robert Ingersoll, the 19th-century master of the craft, and Richard Dawkins of the 21st century has not been any more successful. People are not ideologically threatened by their enemies, be they religious or secular.
Europeans love their churches; they just don't use them. I grew up in a community in Norway that loved its local church, the only church in the county, Lutheran or otherwise. The locals still take good care of it, and if it burned down, the way the only church in the neighbor county did a few years ago, they too would move heaven and earth to rebuild it at public expense. And for Christmas and New Year, they lovingly post pictures of the church, draped in light snow and flood-lit, in order to wish everybody a blessed Christmas and a good New Year.
Arthur Koestler’s 1951 novel, Age of Longing, takes place in an intellectually desolate post-war Europe trying to come to terms with the loss of faith. Not only is Nietzsche’s God dead, but so are the great utopian ersatz religions of the 20th century, Communism and Nazism. Koestler had experienced this loss of faith twice over. As an idealistic Hungarian Jew he became a Zionist and moved to Palestine, but within a short period of time he was disillusioned and lost his faith in the experiment. At the same time a revolution broke out in St.