Celebrating The Resurrection – Pittsburgh Style

fpDMSscrap ironBy Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

My wife Marian, my oldest boy Bill, three friends from my first parish (George and Julie MacLeod and their daughter Stacy) and,I chose to celebrate Christ’s resurrection at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This congregation shares with East Liberty Presbyterian 
Church the distinction of being the church of the prominent, wealthy and respectable. At Shadyside Presbyterian worship some of Pittsburgh’s leading banking and steel magnates representing such corporate heavyweights as Mellon Bank, United States Steel and Dravo Corporation. There is an Alice in Wonderland quality to this neighborhood and church. The lawns are
manicured and spacious, the houses made of stone and surrounded by trees and shrubbery which bear the mark of the finest in professional gardeners. And the church? It too has the stamp of breeding – large, reddish brown stone, an usher in tuxedo waiting to lead the stylish worshippers to their pews. Continue reading

No Brady Bunch Mom: A Tribute to “Saint” Julia MacLeod

JulieBy Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

In Catholic parlance a saint becomes a singled out role model to emulate, but in terms of Scriptural usage the term applies to all the baptized who took on the name of Jesus the Christ. Rather than argue such a point, I would suggest that Julia MacLeod, my dear friend and mentor, whose loss we now mourn and whose life we honor, fulfills both above definitions. We have bid fond adieu to a sister who has role modeled for me what it means to love and follow Christ over against the common and easy definition of the term. Rather than define what this means in abstract terms, I choose instead to underscore her and her “hubby” George’s impact on my life and how they both shaped my Christian faith in maturing and radical ways. In other words, as feminists of the 1970s put it, “the personal is political”. This is and was Julia’s profound impact on my life. Now, on to some illustrations! Continue reading

Come the Dawn

OzBy Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

*Note: this is the third installment of poems from Professor Cole-Arnal’s recent memoir work. “Come the Dawn” was written in Feb 1981, shortly after almost succumbing to an illicit affair in France during May-June (1980). These words mark his attempt to remember his marital promises and his continual love for wife Marian (“Bunny”). It is also critical to remember that this poetry included a third party: his therapist Andy Coppolino with whom they were wrestling with his nocturnal dreams.

A howl of pain piercing the night,
Wide awake, the only sound a heartbeat,
The discovery of mortality, alone, deeply alone,
Wrapped in darkness and afraid

–Before the dawn. Continue reading

Narcissus

OzBy Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

Penned barely two months after “My Prayer” in the same year (October, 1980), the poem below shows how painful is the continuation of forbidden hungers vying against my effort to sustain integrity in my relationships with my dear wife, two boys, students and friends. Above all, although 1980 proved healthier than the next five years when my marriage fell apart, the poem below shows how fragile this “calm before the storm.”

Lonely man sitting by the water—
Transfixed by its mirror image,
Clinging to the pond’s stillness,
Fearful of its changing ripples,
And chained within! Continue reading

My Prayer (August, 1980)

OzBy Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

In his work on his manuscript-size memoirs, charting a life between the two Poor Peoples Campaigns, Oz Cole-Arnal (photo right) has reached the decade of his early to latter ’40s, the most broken period of his 78 years. He recounts betraying virtually all his values, barely able to sustain his faith & vision toward radical equality, stumbling along in brokenness, hurting all those he loved most.  One help in such tumbling was the turning to poetry, which he has rediscovered & re-absorbed. This is the first of two poems to be posted on RadicalDiscipleship.net. 

Agonizing over bills, wanting more money, always more.
  Always hungry, often empty, craving the offered promises.
              Success, manhood, recognition, love,
              Happiness in pills, food, the quick win, casual sex.
              I deplore it, yet want it all.
                             Forgive my bourgeois ways!

Continue reading

Bearing Witness While Living with Chronic Illness

Warehouse picture 2016By Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

Over a period of roughly forty-five weeks (with an interlude of thirty weeks), I have come to know and deeply respect Tony Bender (photo right). We are both part of a Parkinson’s group to help determine what may help people live with this degenerative physical disease and its challenges. Over time this group and its trainers (university students working on graduate degrees in kinesiology), under the direction of Dr. Quincy Almeida (internationally renowned Parkinson’s expert) have become a team of mutual support and respect. This Friday two days before Palm Sunday, Tony opened his heart in glorious vulnerability with this powerful lament which he read to us all before Kish, Jordan and crowd led us in our “boxing” and related exercises: Continue reading

Jesus of the Streets: Honoring “Duff”

duffBy Dr. Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

For the last number of years a rag-tag bunch of us have remembered Good Friday by utilizing the Catholic liturgical tradition known as the Stations of the Cross. However the particular form we have employed is borrowed from the radical liberation theologians from Latin America, a practice which departs from standard piety by moving into the streets both to stand in solidarity “for” and “with” those crushed by poverty within our midst and to challenge that imperially driven alliance of corporations and their political sycophants which sustains and undergirds a socio-economic war against the poor. We carry signs, posters, have readings and pass out leaflets. Continue reading