Something I Miss: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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30 Responses

  1. Linn says:

    This dovetails so well with a conversation I had with a former pastor of mine about the state of my current church. We aren’t extreme on the politics, but the undercurrent is still there, even appearing in yesterday’s sermon. We are “open”, but not flaunting it (although I attend online). The other surprise, with the repeated requests if come one, come all, more are online than in the pews. That gives me hope for discussion and dialog as the church moves forward, hopefully minus the yelling.

    I think our culture tends to lay “easy blame” when we encounter issues we don’t like. It’s communist, liberal, oppressive, racist, socialist….the list goes on and on. I audited all the classes I could at my local seminary and came away enriched with all the different perspectives, even if they weren’t mine. I’m always looking for that tribe of people who can dialog.
    Meanwhile, I’m not giving up on my church just yet, and I have some prayer points to take to God.

  2. Duane Arnold says:


    I’ve found that when the labels begin, the dialogue ends. That observation applies pretty well across the board…

  3. DH says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems like LCMS, Chaldean, Episcopalian, Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Assemblies of God, Greek Orthodox and clergy are all labels.

  4. Duane Arnold says:


    There are comments to be taken seriously and comments which cannot be taken seriously. This is of the latter category…

  5. Michael says:


    The point was overcoming those labels and finding a common identity in Christ…

  6. Linn says:

    Personally, I would consider those more “flavors” of Christianity, all of them with deep historical roots and traditions. And, folks from these traditions tend to sit about and discuss/dialog, vs. using the denominational names as a way to mock each other.

  7. Mike E. says:

    I agree. Theology used to be a “gentleman’s” pursuit, back in those dark days when ladies weren’t considered theologically competent. Many folks had at least a general interest in theology. It has been largely lost today. Today, it’s all politics, all the time.

    I enjoy learning about other Christian traditions. I was just telling the brown eyed girl today there is a certain preacher I adore. He is very conservative theologically. But I don’t know his politics. I have listened to a lot of teachings from this minister. I know a lot about him, his tastes in music, literature, etc. But not his politics. That’s probably why I love him so much. Because I simply don’t desire or care to know his politics. I agree largely with his theology, and he doesn’t really betray his politics. Too focused on the Gospel and the Bible.

  8. Duane Arnold says:

    Mike E.

    Interestingly, half of the remainder of the class working on the MTh degree was made up of women…

  9. Xenia says:

    Over the past year, as our Church attendance has been spotty, I’ve sought out online Orthodox communities to join. I was already listening to a podcaster who is an EO priest and has a show about the works of Tolkien, and I also joined up with a group led by a very conservative EO priest who was going to take the group through the writings of several Saints. So the conservative priest strongly disliked the work of the Tolkien priest. No one should waste their time reading Tolkien or any other literature, it should be the lives of the Saints all the time with no deviation. Most of his nightly live sessions veered off into right wing politics. Don’t wear masks, etc. etc. I’ve heard worse, but this type of discourse didn’t feed my soul. So I left him and turned back to the Tolkien-loving priest, who did not allow political discussions at all. Without the political static, he actually spoke more about Christ than the other guy. So there I was trying to be more serious about my faith and wound up among a group of right-wingers who seemed obsessed with politics. I left them for a group I thought was a bit trivial and found people who were freed up to talk about Christ. Politics kills everything it touches.

  10. Duane Arnold says:


    As I ran across the class roster, I somewhat came to the same conclusion. None of us knew each other before that first night of class and what brought us together was the love of theology. Moreover, we all had different approaches to the subject… and that was just fine. Everyone went out of their way to engage in really thoughtful conversation. As I said, I miss it…

  11. bob1 says:

    I’ve posted several things on the Open Blogging thread last night and today, but nothing’s showing up.

    So here’s what I’d like to add to the conversation. Maybe this will go through!

    appreciate the comments of Xenia and BOC, a lot.

    I think sometimes we put too much focus on national issues. Believe me, they’re important for all of us.

    But there are lots of things we can do in our communities.

    Regarding the black church, Pew Research just released a study about the Black church. It said most church folks pray before making big decisions and they consider fighting racism to be very important.

    I think this shows what Duane said — most folks don’t vote all liberal or all conservative, despite what everyone’s trying to say.

  12. Glenn says:

    Duane, I agree w. unity in Christ, ecumenism, dropping the “I’m right you’re flat wrong!” and if/as someone has a call from God to get directly involved by becoming a working politician then go for it. The pettiness and harsh partisan divides absolutely are in the church – yet sadly have always been in the churches. Those associations such as you experienced w. godly, seeking brothers in Detriot also have been and shall be, but yes, how sad so many do not experience it due to partisan divide and vitriol. I think it’s why we see so much in the NT letters about attitudes, repentance, reconciliation and “love thinks the best of” “the other”. Here’s the rub- in our own case at JPUSA many years ago we ended up serving so many underserved “least of these” in our neighborhood that the local pols no longer allowed us to fly under the radar. Numbers, influence, votes you see… Actively dealing w. injustice in the policies and political arena as activists of course meant various concepts of both spiritual and practical issues (including related doctrine and methodology) that either brought other believers together with us or conversely repelled them from engagement with us. I’m saying we never planned nor sought political or other power but to be very blunt, the divides between privileged white folks -in the church- surfaced. Of course they feel challenged or do not recognize the reality of their attitudes and actions/inaction toward “the least of these” also meant we became “the enemy” as we cared for modern-day “lepers”. Again, nothing new over the centuries between the theological divides on so many levels, so not surprising political divides have reached the top of a pot of porridge I neither wish to eat nor feed others!

  13. Duane Arnold says:


    Old friend, good to see you here! Yes, active service to “the least of these” challenges those who do not wish to see “the least of these”. It’s disheartening to see opposition from the very people and institutions where one would expect support…

  14. Muff Potter says:

    Good article Dr. Arnold!
    It really hits home in this troubled time we live in.
    It’s getting goofy enough that there are probably shrill ideologues who could find a way to politicize the relationship between linear algebra and the conic sections.

  15. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks! Conic sections… don’t we have to employ that to construct our tin foil hats? 😁

  16. Owen says:


    “All of the clergy in that class were far more interested in theology, church history, ethics and, surprisingly, in each others traditions. They wanted to discuss and to learn…”

    What occurred to me while reading your article was that I would suspect that all of you in the class already recognized (and had long since held to) the belief that , because we are just passing through here, the political side of life doesn’t really matter in the long term – at least not the “long term” we’re thinking of…..

  17. Linn says:


    Not if you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Any old colander will do, metal or plastic!

  18. Duane Arnold says:


    I think that was very much the case, but as I’ve reflected on it I think there was something more. The Chaldean’s immediate family was from Syria. The others had family from Russia, the Ukraine, Greece (during the time of the colonels) and then those of us from the US. Politics were ephemeral, or brutal or chaotic… It was the Church that mattered.

    I used to say that every American should live overseas for a time to see the good and the bad of America. I wonder if Christians should live overseas for a time in order to really appreciate what it means to be the Church…

  19. LInn says:

    Duane and Owen,

    We have no idea how much freedom and prosperity we enjoy in the USA until we go and live somewhere else for an extended period of time. Colombia for me was a total experience for which I will ever be thankful, but I don’t miss some of the “smaller” experiences. I was there during the glory days of Pablo Escobar and the guerrilla groups. I had to decide to be afraid all the time and never leave home (I was a missionary, after all), or learn to be discerning and understand where it was reasonably safe for me to be. I learned, was in a few dangerous situations, and one very dangerous one (think in a room surrounded by guns), but I loved the people and the work, and I was very unhappy when I had to come home. I gained a much greater appreciation for freedoms we enjoy here, which makes me even angrier at the dimwits who want to totally sabotage our system.

  20. Duane Arnold says:


    Ah yes, Pastafarianism! 😁

  21. Em says:

    Somebody should have pointed out to Henderson that spaghetti gets old and moldy over time….

  22. Duane Arnold says:


    Agreed and well said…

  23. Owen says:

    Duane and Linn,

    I would welcome the opportunity, if it ever comes to me, to live somewhere other than North America. The older I get, the more I realize just how sheltered I really am. And the tricky part of that is trying to impress upon our children that the world at large is considerably different than their limited experience.

    Agreed, Duane – as Christians , exposure to areas where our faith is not easy would be a really good thing…..

  24. Duane Arnold says:


    When I was teaching in France and the UK, I was always amazed at the reaction of American students to a different culture with different norms. As you say, we are very sheltered, especially when it comes to the Church…

  25. Xenia says:

    When I taught high school I used to take students on field trips to Europe. The kids were great, the parent chaperones were jerks. They’d see someone smoking and point to the “Defense de fumer” sign and yell “It says NO SMOKING” to the French people. We’d be on a bus or the metro and it took five seconds to notice that the natives (French, Spanish) are being quiet. They are not yelling. But these parents would shout at each other across the length of the car. They acted like they were in their living rooms watching Europeans on TV. The kids acted much better.

  26. Xenia says:

    But I am an American and I have no intention of leaving my home country. I could imagine living in Scotland, I suppose, but I’d be a stranger there, even if they are my distant relatives. I think that’s what healthy patriotism is: a love of country that hasn’t got anything to do with politics. I love our mountains, our trees, our wild animals, and most especially, the diversity of people. I remember coming home on the plane after a week of weird food in Europe and the lunch was ENCHILADAS and I was so happy to be on my way back to my home.

  27. Xenia says:

    I even love California!

  28. Duane Arnold says:


    The kids don’t carry the same baggage of “entitlement”…

    BTW, one of my favorite places in Paris serves Mexican cuisine 😁

  29. Em says:

    Xenia, @8:47
    Being of Scottish descent, amen… But still i guess i, too, am a yankee, born and bred
    Growing up in Southern California i miss what used to be, but now i love the PNW…. still, not being a liberal, my heart is east of the Cascades….
    This summer I’ll turn 85, so the fact that “this world is not my home…” is becoming quite real… Unexpected, i confess

    I seem to recall that someone wrote a book titled “The Ugly American.”. Having experienced WW2, count me in. .. 😇

  30. Xenia says:

    Speaking of wild animals, the Monterey Peninsula is crawling with mountain lions and coyotes these days! Kinda cool, kinda worrisome.

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