26 March 2012


Our wedding, with its surrounding circumstances, was moderately chaotic and fraught with heightened emotion - as weddings are wont to be.

We had little money, and would be paying for it ourselves.  My own instinct - showing that my personality hasn't changed in this respect - was for a tiny wedding.  Just get married, and what was all this fuss about!!  Susan was very patient with me (another thing that has not changed) and said that she didn't want to cut everyone out.  We compromised and had, I suppose, something like 80-90 guests.

Susan's mother came over for the wedding - did any of my family?  I blush (not terribly strongly) to say that I don't know.  This puts the fact that I did not think that my parents had attended my and Edna's wedding (which I maintained until Susan showed me photographs of that wedding with my parents in the photographs) into an interesting light.  The charitable explanation would be that I am suffering from Alzheimer's; the likelier one is that I pay little attention to things around me that don't seem important to me.

Our wedding was to be at International Baptist Church, where we were members.  Susan wanted it to be at 8 o'clock in the morning, with the only reception to be a morning tea in the church hall afterwards.  Starting time of many things in Hawai'i is often early - lectures and many work times start at 7:30AM, and early weddings are quite usual.  The time was attractive, and gave the rest of the day for us - and avoided having to provide a meal - or liquor (it is likely, also, at this time, that I had tentatively decided - being influenced by a common Baptist opinion - that alcohol was, if not always immoral, nevertheless never a good thing).

Don Topping - who would have been my thesis adviser if I had ever got 'round to writing it - exclaimed, when I told him the time, "Eight o'clock in the morning??!!  I won't bother going to bed the night before!"  It is, nonetheless, a fact that, much as I am what is often called a "morning person," our motivation was to save money.  Other things we did to save money were:
  • A friend in the church - I have forgotten his name; Paul something, I think - ran a flower shop.  He provided the flowers and all the decorations at cost.  Paul was one of the top florists in Honolulu and did decorations for the governor's events.  The results, Susan tells me, were beautiful.
  • Rings - another friend in the church - whose name - sigh! - I have forgotten - had a jewellery store.  Susan had a ring from her great-aunt that had a diamond in it.  Our jeweller friend sold us rings and set the diamond, again, at cost.
  • Susan's friend Lee Polish-last-name (well, at least I remembered her first name!) was an accomplished amateur photographer.  You may infer what she did :-)  She gave us the negatives (which, I suppose, Susan still has around somewhere).
  • Dinner for the wedding party - we had a close friend from the encounter group days, Vicky Clarke.  Vicky had been quite hurt when we left the encounter group, as betraying a friendship.  She was, I think, a fairly unbelieving Episcopalian.  Through us she became evangelical (Baptist?), ended up working for Campus Crusade for Christ, I think.  Her mother, who had a huge house (probably late 19th or early 20th century) up in Nu'uanu Valley, was hostess for the whole party (about 25 people, I think).
  • Susan's mother made the cake - the cakes, actually!  She stayed in Susan's house at 2971 Koali Road, and baked.  The cakes were mango cakes - think, not of ripe mangos, but of carrot cake, with grate green mangos providing the 'carrot.'
  • The dress - Susan's rich Chinese friend at the bank had had her wedding dress made by Priscilla of Boston (who made Jacqui Kennedy's dress) turned out to be the same dress size as Susan!
And so forth.  Kathy Golden (now Kathy Ehrmann), whom I have mentioned, was Susan's Maid of Honour (if that is the right term - I must get Susan to edit this before publishing it :-); Bob Feldhan was my Best Man.  Pastor Jim Cook married us.

Well, but those chaotic moments?

Sue's mother was quite upset in a number of ways.  Sue's father had not come.  He had deliberately not come.  He and Sue's mother were, by then, either divorced, or on the way to a divorce.  I am absolutely certain that his not coming was not intended as a gesture of hostility against Susan's mother, but as an act of delicacy.  Nevertheless, that was, surely, upsetting.

And, I have no doubt, Sue's mother was not terribly taken with me, and nor do I blame her.  I had, I think, improved somewhat from the coarse and thoughtless person who had been Edna's bridegroom.  Nevertheless, I was bossy, pushy, and loud.

For whatever reason, Sue's mother, who had rushed into the church hall after the ceremony to finish decorating the cake, was near to being unable to bring herself to face people at all.

That crisis was dealt with, and the morning tea was, in fact, lovely.  Many of my close University friends were there, and Susan's friends from both her jobs, and our mutual Campus Crusade friends as well.  Our car was, of course, tin-canned as we drove away - and went to Mrs Clarke's house.

Where, again, there were difficulties.  Again, Sue's mother was upset and did not want to face people.  Before posting this I will see if Sue has anything to add (she didn't!).

We had only a long week-end for our honeymoon - went off to a motel in Laie, where I promptly managed to get violently ill from food-poisoning - and returned to live together in Koali Road - Sue's housemate Cary Street had moved out.  I went back to my studies.  I was definitely going to finish my PhD in linguistics.  But, having done that, it was my intention to go to Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon (I had written away for their calendar) and become a Baptist minister.

17 March 2012

The pace quickens

Well, 'summoned' might be an exaggeration :-)

In 1972, Yap was governed as a part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.  This meant that it was a United Nations responsibility - and was governed by the United States.  That was the grounds on which the US Peace Corps sent volunteers to Yap in the first place - and was how I became involved in the Yapese language at all.

The Education Department in Yap was able to be a recipient of US Education Department funds - and in particular, of funds under the US Bilingual Education Act - "Title VII" of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1968.  That law was based on the proposition that the best language for primary and secondary education was the native language of the pupils to be taught.  Whether this proposition is valid or not is arguable either way - I am inclined cautiously to think that it is - but the act in question was responsible for the three months I spent in Yap from early January, 1972 through late March of that year - and for the eight years that Susan and I and our children spent there from March, 1976 through May, 1984.

The Education Department wanted to start producing schoolbooks in Yapese - but what spelling system should be used?

Yapese had been written, one way or another, at least since the second half of the Nineteenth Century.  I have copies of linguistic material prepared in the 1870s by Spanish missionaries.  Yet the spelling used by Yapese themselves had never been systematised.  Administrators working in the Education Department decided that a systematic set of spelling rules should be developed - and offered me a contract to come to Yap and meet with a committee of Yapese persons - the "Orthography Committee" - to develop such a set of rules.

I wish to state clearly at this point that I failed in this task.

A suitable orthography (spelling system) for a language ought to have two characteristics:
  1. It should be able accurately to represent the distinctive sounds the "phonemes" - of a language, without being required to mark fine differences that are not distinctive.
  2. It should be reasonably natural and convenient for the native speakers of the language to learn and to use.
Linguists will be concerned to point out other important points to me - it might be well, for example, to make clear the relationship amongst words pronounced rather differently but which have parts ("morphemes") in common - English 'divine' and 'divinity,' for instance, both use the letter 'i'  in the second syllable, although the two instances of 'i' actually represent different sounds.  But at minimum, a writing system should meet points 1. and 2. above.

My system succeeded in point 1.  It failed in point 2.

I call it 'my system' but officially it is the system chosen by the members of the Orthography Committee.  However, the members of the Orthography Committee were linguistically-untrained Yapese.  They accepted my advice.  They did not, in fact, do so uncritically.  The principal point which, I think, caused the system to fail was the single point at which they balked - and rightly so.
Note for linguists - ordinary readers should skip :-) 
For any linguists who may read this I will very briefly say that that point was the representation of glottal stop.  I chose the letter 'q' for this - and said that word-initial glottal stop should also be so represented.  Word-initial glottal stop is of some importance in Yapese as some words - mostly grammatical particles of one sort and another - begin with a smooth vowel.  I ought to have chosen the apostrophe ('), and left it unmarked word-initially.
Susan read this before posting it and requires me to add: "Yes, that's right!  The 'q' was stupid.  That's why the orthography failed!!." 
 End of note for linguists!
I met daily with a group of Yapese - many of whom became my close friends later, including Uag - now dead - the Curator of the Yap Museum, Pugram and Defeg, my companions and later co-workers, and many others.  We hammered out the issues and came up with my system.  This was officially adopted as the Education Department's system to be used for the development of Yapese materials.

Early 1970 was my first experience living in Yap as a Christian.  I became a part of the little Liebenzell-Mission Protestant church - the Yap Evangelical Church - at the time the only non-Catholic body in otherwise all-Catholic Yap.  I lived in a government house with Bob Barten, a teacher there, and a Catholic.  It is, perhaps, unfortunate that I made no attempts to get to know him as a fellow Christian.  It is quite likely that at the time I had not considered him a Christian at all.  Or it might have been that to me, a very young, inexperienced, and know-it-all Protestant, any encounter with Catholicism would be counter-productive.  God has His timing in these as in all matters.

In March, 1970, Susan and I had officially agreed that we were not engaged, until further notice - notice to be given by the Holy Spirit.  At some point between then and January, 1972 we must have decided that notice had, indeed, been given.  Whether there was some specific point in that interval when we consciously acknowledged that or not, I do not know, but when I went to Yap in January, we were already making our wedding plans.

I returned to Honolulu in late March.  I sat my PhD oral examinations (one always, I suppose, 'sits' examinations - but I wouldn't swear that I hadn't stood) - not, I hasten to add, my thesis defence; since I never wrote a thesis, I never defended it and was never graduated PhD.  These viva voce examinations made me officially a PhD candidate, no longer an unclassified graduate student - I sat my orals, was awarded my ABD certificate - "All But Dissertation" - which the Dutch dignify by the elegant Latin term doctorandus, finalised, with Susan, wedding plans, and was wedded to Susan on 20 May, 1972.

11 March 2012

Loose ends

From September, 1968 until September, 1970 - from around my 26th to my 28th birthday - is one of two (so far!) major turnings in my life, each about two years long (the other is from September, 1993 until December, 1995).  In September, 1968 the train wreck that my life was heading for happened.  In late December, 1969, a light appeared (to radically shift the metaphor).  By the end of 1970 I was in many senses a different person.

A different person and yet picking up the threads of the old person.  Before I became a Christian, I had been studying linguistics.  Now, and through the autumn semester of 1971, I was fully back to linguistic study - and Yapese study.  I was now working intensely on the two Yapese books I have mentioned, and, as well, on preparing for the PhD oral examinations that would make me an official PhD candidate.  Until then, I was an 'unclassified graduate student' in a PhD programme.

I was also educating this new Christian John Jensen by a great deal of reading.  I have mentioned the Lutheran and Reformed authors, and the constant love affair with the writings of C. S. Lewis.  With Susan's and my joining International Baptist Church I began to study the whole Baptist and Evangelical literature.  I bought and read a great deal of Dispensationalist writing, bought the Systematic Theology of Lewis Sperry Chafer (and read parts of it :-)), much of Charles Haddon Spurgeon - well, when I think of all the books I have bought over the years - most of which I no longer have - I suppose an explanation for our lack of ready funds today would not be difficult to find!

As a linguistic undergraduate at the University of California one was required to take Sanskrit, as occupying a unique place in Indo-European studies, and either Greek or Latin.  Reasoning that I could more easily pick up Latin later, I chose Greek.  Now that I was a Christian, I was keen to read the Bible in its original languages, and my Greek made this reasonably straightforward for the New Testament (although I recall my discovery of the significant difference between being able to answer grammatical questions on an exam or dig through Xenophon in a class text and just reading an unabridged Greek text) - but Hebrew I had not studied, so set myself to do so, and to read the Hebrew (and Aramaic) Old Testament.  This occupied a considerable amount of my time.

I discovered Whitcomb and Morris's The Genesis Flood and began to think the answers could be found to my original 1969 question to Joe Arnold about evolution - although a visit by Dr Morris to the University of Auckland, a few years later, disappointed me with his answer to the biological problem of homology caused me to realise that there was a fundamental theoretical issue here (I still think there is).  He seemed not to understand the difference between homology and analogy.

I experimented a little with charismatic Christianity in this same short period of a couple of years.  The experiment revealed little other than that glossolalia seemed, in most people's minds, to be essential to the idea of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit - and that people were convinced that the glossolalia they engaged in was, or was capable of being, a real language.  I felt certain - some tongues-speakers will, certainly, convict me of intellectual pride here, I fear - from what I knew of language that, whatever was happening, the sound pattern of what I heard was incapable of carrying linguistic meaning.

Perhaps one reason I was unable to take charismatic Christianity seriously was that I had been introduced to it by a Catholic - I think, the only self-identified Catholic I had met since becoming a Christian.  I knew that Catholicism was wrong - was scarcely even Christianity - so that I knew the the charismatic movement was not really all that Christian.

Somewhere around this time I began subscribing to audio tapes of lectures by Francis Schaeffer, to whose books I was increasingly indebted for my growth as a Christian - and, it turned out fairly soon, for yet another reason, had I needed one, for knowing that the Catholic Church was wrong - more on that at the appropriate time.

The two books list Pugram and Defeg as my co-authors, and so they were - but I don't know whether they were living in Honolulu at the time, or whether this was a reference to the vast amount of work they and I had done at various other times - when I lived in Yap in June-September 1969, when, earlier, I had worked on Yapese in the Peace Corps training programme in Moloka'i in 1966-7 - together with Iou.

Whether directly with Pugram and Defeg or not, I was living and breathing Yapese.  So it was, I suppose, not unnatural that in January, 1972 I was summoned to Yap.

03 March 2012


I don't remember how I met Bob Feldhan.  Was he part of the Prince of Peace Lutheran crowd?  Of Campus Crusade?  He had been brought up in New Jersey as a Catholic.  At some point he had decided that the Catholic Church was wrong - was, in fact, an evil system which enslaved men.  This, anyway, is my memory.  If Bob reads this, I would be glad of a correction.

Bob and his wife Vicky became good friends of Susan and me.  Whether we first knew them from Campus Crusade or from Prince of Peace, Bob and I soon became keen Campus Crusade evangelists.  We went weekly to the International Marketplace, witnessing, as the evangelical term is - that is, trying to bring Christ to those who passed through.

And we were studying.  Bob had been brought up a Christian, but had learned little or nothing about his faith during his youth.  His becoming a Protestant was a real conversion, and both he and I were studying everything we could to learn about our Christian faith.

And our Christian faith was, albeit initially at a sub-conscious level, Baptist.

By 'Baptist' I mean:
  • non-Sacramentalist - Sacraments were visual aids to Bible truth.
  • in particular, Baptism did not make you 'born again.'  Faith did that.  Baptism was your testimony to the world that you were born again.
And much more, certainly.  These principles, however, were nothing I recall having heard explicitly from anyone.  They were inferences, fundamentally inferences from the theology implicit in the teaching we had received from Campus Crusade.

I hasten to add that I am far from suggesting that Campus Crusade staff explicitly taught us anything that would be anti-Lutheran - or even, for the matter of that, anti-Catholic - in import.  Officially, Campus Crusade was non-denominational.  Yet, consider the "Four Spiritual Laws":
  1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.
  2. Man is sinful and separated from God.  Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.
  3. Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin.  Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life.
  4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.
What is Baptist about these?  Nothing - until you look at the details of step 4:
We Must Receive Christ"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children
of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).

We Receive Christ Through Faith"By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God; not as result of works that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9).

When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth(Read John 3:1-8.)

We Receive Christ Through Personal Invitation[Christ speaking] "Behold, I stand at the door and knock;
if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20).
Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting
Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins and to make us what He wants us to be.
Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross
for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience.
We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.

All of which, again, is susceptible of a Sacramentalist interpretation, but we are fast moving away from that.  The person using the Four Laws is then taught to lead the convert in a prayer of receiving Christ - and the person is now born again.

I do not at all intend this post to be a tract against this approach to evangelism.  It brought me to Christ.  But it is in here that I came to believe - to know, as I would have said - that when I heard Pastor Hammer baptise a child in Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, praying a prayer with the phrase "...may God, Who has regenerated you in baptism...", that I could not be a Lutheran.  It seemed too clear to me that baptismal regeneration was absolutely wrong - you were regenerated ('born again') by faith - alone!

I must leave.  Rather, we must leave - Sue and I, and, as it turned out, Bob and Vicky.

Why Sue?  I had, I am sure, no idea whatever that Susan, who had been a Christian from infancy, might have opinions in the matter.  My intellectual self-confidence was unchallengeable - Sue could well point out that this is still somewhat of a problem for me!

Bob and I went and had a painful, almost tearful, session with Pastor Hammer - whom, in fact, we loved, and who loved us.  We explained that we were going to be leaving Prince of Peace.

I am very vague about details of dates and times.  For a few Sundays we went to Kaimuki Baptist (I think it was that, though I can't locate it in Google).  The church was very revivalist and not to our taste.  Before long - certainly by early 1971 - we had joined Dick and Carolyn Edic's home church: International Bapist.