Letter: I've changed my mindMy great-grandparents sailed up the Mississippi River in 1857, debarking at Red Wing and heading for Morristown, just east of Mankato. In 1861 they moved on to the Willmar area.
By: Herbert W. Chilstrom, St. Peter, Minn., The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
My great-grandparents sailed up the Mississippi River in 1857, debarking at Red Wing and heading for Morristown, just east of Mankato. In 1861 they moved on to the Willmar area. It was their dream come true. After struggling to survive in the stony province of Småland in Sweden, this was finally a place where they could settle down and raise their families.
That dream turned into a nightmare. They fled for their lives a year later during the Sioux Uprising. They spent the rest of their days eking out a living along the Cannon River ndaf Cannon Falls.
I grew up with a very negative attitude toward Native Americans. Through the eyes of my elders I saw them as savage and irreligious.
As I learned the full story, including the ill treatment of the natives by some of the US government agents, my views changed.
Little could I have known that Paul Schultz, a full-blooded Ojibwa, would become a friend. A deeply spiritual fellow Lutheran, Paul taught me that our common love for Jesus was what mattered most.
I’ve been on the same journey of understanding with gay and lesbian folks. Forty years ago I thought all of them were emotionally warped and could be changed if they got counseling and prayed. But as I got to know more and more of them I took a second look at my views.
The first thing I did was study carefully those few verses in the Bible that refer to same gender relationships. In time I came to see them as describing abusive and domineering sex, nothing like what I was seeing in a growing number of same gender friends who were in it for a lifetime, just like my wife and I have been for 58 years.
I’m not going to put another block in the way of these friends, folks who go to work every day, pay taxes, attend church, raise children and love Jesus, just as I do.
I’ll be voting “no” on Nov. 6.
Herbert W. Chilstrom
St. Peter, Minn.
Former presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.