In the Room with Jurgen Moltmann

In the Room with Jurgen Moltmann September 10, 2009

I’m in Chicago listening to Jurgen Moltmann speak as I write this. It’s an incredible thing to sit and listen live to a person who has had such an incredible impact on my thinking and my faith.

He talked just a little bit about his time as a visiting lecturer at Duke. He was on faculty at Tubingen and the time, where they asked the questions “what is the church?” But in Durham in 1967-68 and they wanted to know how to run the church. He was there to witness a terrible time during racism and the burning crosses by KKK in people’s yards. 1967, “Theology of Hope” was published in America & was praised on the New York Times front page as replacing the ‘God is Dead’ theology, “which was not too difficult,” he said. He went on, “The divinity school made a nationwide theology of hope conference in April of 1968. Everybody of name and rank in theology was there.” He told the story of when he was in the room arguing about history. Someone ran into the room and yelled – “Martin Luther King, Jr.” was shot. They stopped the conference. Everybody left and went home. They all found a place to watch TV that afternoon and evening. “This was the end of my American dream,” he said. On the same evening at the university, 400 students gathered and did a sit in – they sat in silence in mourning for 4 days in rain or shine. They just sat there lamenting the loss. Then on the weekend, students came together and had a celebratory service – they all sang “we shall overcome” together. He took part in that. “That was my American experience,” he said. “First I liked America, then I was disappointed by America, then I came to love America.”

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