Full Text for The Trauma of Acculturation (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER December 1971 Volume 35, Number 3 The Trauma of Acculturation ERICH H. HEISTZE~ Editor, llzc Spri?rgficlrier ( 2 9 5 9- I 'r 6 T HE A31 ERICASIZ-ITIOS of the immigrant he;zi II~ f L-C~II! rhc moment that he set foot on the soiI of his new I~ol:~c.lnncl, ~t begins imperceptibly, despite his reluctance, or ptrhqw cr-crl c,utrjg&t resistance, to the process. Lifter two hundrec? \-cars on Ai~~:cric.'in soil, descendants of the Gerlnan Lutherans of the colonial pel-iocl 11;1~1 largely absorbed, or had been absorbed by, thc cultures (jf the' nctv world, despite the valiant efforts of their great spiritunl f,ttlicr. I-Icin- rich 3felchoir Muhlenbcrg, n-ho in his lattcr i-c;irs I,~mt.nri.~l, "-1s God is my tvitncss, I \\-orkecl agailist thc English '1s lo:lg ;13 I c.rj~~lrl," [cited in 3larcus Lce Hansen , The :itln~itic .\ ligr~ti:~~,, 1 6 -- j :i 6 9. -- 7 p. t3: Manv of the German Lutherans wllo canlc in \!-it11 thr ticlc. of thc middle nineteenth centnrv immigration, 1vc.r~ ;I cliffcrc~l t lot. Fresh from the Fatherland, iniburd with the spirit of ths I-~~tlicra~i confessional revival, they rejected "A-imerican" Lrrther3riism, it ntl \\-ere determined at all costs to foster 1-utheran orthodox\ flrltl Gcr~nnn culture especially the mother tongue. It was felt that the sul)~t,lnc.ei of the former could not long endure without thc framci\ork of the latter. Even so astute a churchman and ccclcsia~ticnl ilrcllitcct 2s C. F. \V. Il'aIther, father of the 3Iissouri Synod, had c,i~rlicr pcr- suadcd his congregation in St. Louis to adopt ;i constitution;ll pro\i- sion \~hich forbade the use of any other lanpagc but Gcr~~ia~i in tlic public ser~ices. This language paragraph was then tlcclnrctl to bc "unalterable." Some nicmbers may have scruplccl at this, fur it1 thc next meeting an escape cIausc \I-& addrd, stating that thc' ~n1~11tc.r- ability and irrepealabiIity should not be regarctccl as n divine conr- ~nantf." !5Iudinger, Gor7t, irr tirc ~110. SJIZ. p. 205, n. 13 . \\ithi11 a few years, hou-ever, the Synod definitely affirrncrl its rcspunsihi1it~ to work also in the English language. The acculturntion of tlw scm- inar!,, understandablv? was intcrlacccl with that of the Synotl, nnc1 for the ~nost part reffected the progress in Synotl grncraliy. In the 1880's there were ttvo parties among thc stuclcrlts- one German and the other American. The fornlcr hid comc frorii the old countrl; they were a bit older, some of the111 svcrc marriccl /a1- though their familes a-ere not with them), and thcy lind rrccived more academic training. The Anlericans \ve.rc those who Iiad been born in this country, and were usually younger, from 17 to 25 t On September 27, 1971, during tlrr regular facultt mrefrng ot C.orrcordra I heoiog1r~7l Seminary, Dr. Erich H. Heintretr, professor of historical tkeology and the scrrior men~bcr of that depnrtment passed auvay. At the time of death, he 1a7s delirering n?z essnk from material prepared for a Itook dealing with the history of the seminary. Last sprrng Dr. Heintren had also designated some of the same material for this arficle. It is A gmp!zicnl portrayal of some of the human difficulties which a seminnry and church body esperrenre and it is dedicated to those students u-ho lir*ed throargh those days in tkc first drcnifes of this Centufy. Past difficulties some times become humorous 114h ttrc putting nf firm. Thqr can also become markc of Ciorl's gmcr. \-cars c~t iixc. It 1\.35 quite evidciit that the former enjoyed Cracnier's J\ nil~.~i1i\ ox c.1- rhc "! oung :imcricans." Tcilsioll between both groups ciliic. to ;i l~cnci o\.LSr 11 celebration of Kaiser \Vilhelm's birthday, when thc C;~v-li~ali~, in Jlonor of this occasion, were excused from classes, \I-hilr thc ,-\l!lc.t-ic~ils \\ere obligated to attend. The aggrieved Anier- jcan fnc,tioii ttien \-oted to strikc, and thcre was a confrontation with '6 ('ra~~n~c~r in tt~c criill-r. Ihc spol;csm;~ii for the ;in~cricans" ti-as an o1tlc.r 5t~i(lciit, onc Heinrich bv name, i\.ho stocd up to the mounting \sratIi of C'r;icllictr. C'r:temcr's defe~ise for excusing the Gerilians from cIilss \\-ar. of courxl, that thc Kaiser's birthday was a German high t .tnd \\ ns of 110 concern to the Americans; hencc, classes as usual for tllci~i. I-ht.11, ~21~. countered tkc ~lnicricans, n-ere they not given .i f~-cbc. d.1~ on thc hiithda! of Gcorgc \Vashingtol~, the father of their countr\-? \\ 111. this discrinlinationl "Onkel," be it said to his credit, knc\\ ;sh~'ii 1;~ tv.1~ ~iailed. nlicl graciousli. capitulated. . . . I-Icncc- fortll, \\'a.;hinYtoti's birthdav was fittin$! observed b\- cessation of classes lor all. The t~nusc of this tempest may have been the prospect of a frce 421; ho\ve~t.r, the elcnicnt of an ideological struggle cannot Ilc \\.boll\ cl~~c.o~~litcd. Klzffee ,\IncI~kc~, pp. 62-79;. Sothirlg pcrliaps is lnorc distinctively Ainerican than the auto- nlobilc. In\c~~tccI hcfort. i\'orld \Ibr I, it was not until after the war that Hunrv ForcI's "lnodel T" \\-as massed produced to put r4nlcricr1 on \shccls. LBraucr, Prot. iu AVL. p. 25'7; . It \\-as, however, ~iot an unrniscd blessing, arid it was inevitable that the Springfield seminary stlould sooncr or 1iitt.r be troubled by the "machine" and its attendant ~~rohlcn~s. Inevitably, too, the question ~ronld arise, should the sem- inar\ get invol\ ed with this sort of thing. In 1925, a professor, after \vcighing thC alternatives, declared against the purchasc of a truck for tllc scmii~ar~ because he could "see no advantages and only great tiangers." ant1 ihould thc school purchase a truck, hc formally dis- cli~irned respnsibilitv for anv accidents which might occur. [Fac. IIin., )la!- 2 1, 192s j. >-\-is mual, the students had other ideas, and began to acquire ,tutonlobilcs. In >la\ of 1929 the faculty was forced to discuss regu- lations regarding the use and the oversight of automobiles owned hv studcnts, Professor Kretzmann was asked to inquire how the inatter was being handled by the seminary in St. Louis. [Fat. llin., Ilav 6, 1929:. lust what he learned is not recorded. Ho\vever, bv ~cptcrnbcr t hc frlcult~' had reached its decision. Director Klein should inform the student3 that within two weeks from the next Xlonday, cvcr!- automobile owner would ha~e to sell or in sollie war dispose of his car. After that time, no student would be permitted k~ use auto- mobiles except for an emergency; in that case he should quickly rent one. [Fac. Jlin. Scyt. 3, 19291 .' he following rear the faculty found it necessary to broaden the rule prohibiting theon-nership and use of c.irs to incIudc motorcycles. [Fac. Jlin., Mar. 1 7, 19301 . Once again, hoivever, the forces of acculturation prevailed. By 194 1, it was suffi- cient that students register their cars with the director. but they were definitely "not to be used to cart girls arouncl." i I.ilc. \Jill. .\ut. 19, 19311. More troublesome, howe\.er, than the automobile \\.:is the telephone. The seminary alreaciy possessed not iust one, but t\\-o of such instrun~ents, one located in tllc dircctor's officc arltl tilt other in the comnlissary. This caused no problcnl, except for the cl~~estion out of which fund each should be paid for. [BC JIin., ji~n. 29, 19 15 1. It \\.as only whet1 the students arbitrarily insisted on ha\-jng a tclc- phone, that a veritable Pandora's box was opened which Icd to thc great telephone controversv of the 1920s. in .tr-hich thc teIc.phonc3 appeared as a very instrument of the devil. To hcgii~ at thc bt.gim~ing. the students maintained a free telephone in builclillg So. 1, supported bv the students. This telephone \%:as removed hv scminarv il~~thorities oh the grounds that it served no good poryosc 'ind that studellts ~lsed it from time to time for "flirten," [Fac. 3lin.. ;iug. 30, 1926 i . The phoneless students then requested the installation of a p;~\- phone. Authorities felt that this \vould not eiiininate the chief c.\il.- ~l;lrnc.ly, the "everlasting ringing of the phone caused by outsiders, pnrticulnrly girls." Further, a pa!; phone \~ould not hinclcr the "Don Tunns (.Ilncdcherl iargcr) from chatting \\.it11 thc girls to thclir hc;lrt'i curl- tent."The facuIty answered "Qliod J~VJI," which is a11 irlllx-cssi\-e Latin word for So! [Fac. hIin., So\-. 1, 1926 j . On the iilorning of March 1, the silence of the tomb rcignccl in empty class rooms, n-hile the professors n-crc huddlccl in extra- ordinary session. The occasion for this \\-as the failure of the two upper classes to submit an apolog!; by the appointcil hour of 8: 30 for arbitrarilv ha\.ing had a telephone re-installed during the dircctor's absence. ~hk evening before, noisy demonstrations hod t:~iien place after chapel, and the Prini~rs (president of the first scl~~in:~rv class) announced that the two upper classes would no longer cooperntc with the director in handling matters of discipline and order. Thc facultv then demanded an apology from them by 10: o'clock. Instcnci of the expected apology, a cornmittec appeared desiring a parley. This I\-ns rejected because the committee brought no apology. ~hb prokssors then refused to teach the two upper classes until the Iatter ngrecd to apologize, but agreed to teach the remaining clssscs at the r~sual time. But members of these classes then informed the director that the!- would not attend until the faculty agreed to hear the comlnittce from the upper classes. It Iooked like a stand off. That evening, the faculty took the matter to the board of control. It was clear to all that the offenders must be brought to hun~ble repentance ("Zu Kreu~e kriechen muessten," literall\-, "to creep to the cross") because open rebellion lay at hand. As an ekcuse for their conduct the students had explained that before the director left for Baltimore, he had given them a rather free hand to look after the welfare of the institution during his absence, and that they felt the installation of a telephone \voulcl be to the welfare of the seminary. This logic did not impress the board. It was finally decided that the facultv should appear before the whole student body and. on the b;a>is "t tilt \\orcl of God, show then1 their sin, and request theii- ~tyjolcc!- and .!>Surancc of repcnt:lncc. This \\-as done; and the Word ol1i.i. .tz.in l?rl::-ci! itsclf sharpcr than a txvo-edged stvord. Those rc.spo!~>ibIc for thc installation of thc detestable telephone admitted rhc.1, 11rong. then ;dco n~ovcd that the whole student body rtpoIo$ze tn tkc i:~Clt>. It was tfanc. :iftcr~ssrd members of the facultv re- nlsrkec? that no otlc had \-otc:.d ngninst the motion, but that it u-as cjut.stior~~blc n11c.thc.r c,ter)-one had voted for it. Se~ertheless, an nplog c;in onIv bc rcccircd in the spirit of Christian lox-c, and the matter ~hould be ctroyyed-unless of course the students should st31-t ~~n~ctEli~lq. C:Iasses \\-err resumcci the nest monling. But the Ill'!ttcr did not cjuitc c11d therc. In thc fa11 of 1927, Director Llcin appeared before the board, this tiinc tt-c~lring ,I different h3t. IIe now asked pernlission to haye thc t~lc~~l~onc rc-inst'11lcd. The board denrurred, citing the injury ciorlc to 111~ director's dignit!. and nuthoritv - bv - the perrersitr of the ~tuiIcnr5 ct uring tllc grca t telephone controvers!-. But the hirec tor, be it siici to his crcdit, stood finn, maintaining that a telephone for ihc students n~~s now "a necessity." The board left the matter in his hands. Xot JOII~ :~ftertvarrl, the telephone was re-installed. but "under strict supervision." 'BC 3lin., Oct. 17, 192'7:. Tllc truth is that for man!- ?-cars the telephone continued to be J. sc~,lrcc. item around the seminary, .Is late as 1953, II'essel Hall, a moclcrli edifice of glass and aluminum was erected, but no telephones n-crt. ilrstalIcd. It \\-as not until the '60's, that these modern con- i-t\~~ienccs xcrc pliiced in professors' offices.