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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #82: Down Memory Lane

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

[In 1976, when the article excerpted below was printed, Vera Powell Glenn was editor of Theta Alpha Journal, a  publication which for decades had recorded the doings of Theta Alpha International (originally the Academy Girls School alumni organization).  The Journal was growing into a vibrant literary periodical offering a forum for the voices of women in the General Church of the New Jerusalem.  In a speech she gave about the history of the Theta Alpha Journal, Vera Glenn spoke about some of the challenges involved in defining an editorial policy to balance the needs, priorities, and values of the Journal’s writers and readers. Vera spoke about how a letter from a reader had helped to clarify her thinking.]          The ... letter might be headed Truth or Consequences, and it has to do with the rational faculty or understanding.  My friend wrote that she had heard comments by ministers that some of the women who wrote for the Journal “misconstrued from their feminine logic what the Writings really teach.”  They were distressed that such fallacies should be perpetrated by the leading women’s magazine of the New Church.  My correspondent expressed herself as frustrated and disappointed  because she couldn’t be confident that the articles she read in the Journal written by women contained the truth.         She wondered if it would not be wise to have a minister pre-read the articles so that the readers would not absorb errors and confused ideas.       If this was what was happening it would be grave indeed. As a teacher I often worried about this, because everything that one reads, thinks, believes, and passes on to students is qualified by one’s own mind; it would be arrogant to think that all one taught was true.  In any case it could only be the truth as I saw it.  Part of the process of maturing is first recognizing that teachers, parents, and even writers are fallible, and then that you are.  Even ministers, teaching and preaching from their special enlightenment, cannot lay claim to the truth.  The truth is the Lord’s.  It is in His Word; but it is read and  understood by finite minds.  How often we are urged to go to the Word for ourselves, because it is only the truth as we  understand it that can make one with our lives.       No sincere person deliberately wants to lead others into confusion and error.  I feel that the women who write for the Journal are sincere.  As editor I can make suggestions for improving the mechanics and the expression; I can tell the writer that her idea isn’t clear, or that I disagree with it, but I can’t set myself up to correct her ideas. We want to encourage  people to read the Word, reflect on it, and write and talk about their reflections.  This would never happen under an aura of censorship.  If an article has value then the women of the Church should be mature and intelligent enough to read and judge the material for themselves, remembering always that it represents another finite individual’s understanding and  opinion.       Reading should be a challenge. It should raise questions. How close to the truth is this idea?  Is this straight thinking and good feeling?  When there are things with which you do not agree or if you have further thoughts on  the subject, respond in writing to the Journal, and this will promote discussion and an exchange of ideas.       -Vera Powell Glenn, “Two Times One: or the Journal Now and Then,” From a Speech Given at the Annual Meeting,  Theta Alpha Journal, Spring 1976, p. 25 [Reprinted with permission from the author.]

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