My first working week in my new job has almost ended. My first lectures went well (I think). It takes a little of getting used to, but things have started quite pleasantly—possibly apart from the 5.1 earthquake of last Friday evening , a few minutes past eight. The quake was powerful enough for us to see how things in our apartment moved back and forth for about ten seconds. Surfing the internet I discovered that in this part of the US, every years there are hundreds of small shocks and tremors. However, the quake of last week was the most powerful in about six year. In California the powerful earthquake of 1906, that destroyed a major part of San Francisco, has not been forgotten. There is a general fear that something on that scale will happen again. I read that this part of California has a 99 percent chance that it will experience a disastrous quake within the next fifty years. I don’t think this is going to rob me of any sleep. Most buildings of Loma Linda are constructed in a way that they will survive a number of major shocks.
I am a little surprised that things in the ‘School of Religion’ (as the theological faculty of Loma Linda University is officially called) are as formal as they are. For instance: the dress code for the professors is less informal than I had anticipated and I will probably use the few ties that I brought along quite intensively. But I am also struck by the frequent use of academic titles. The members of the support staff of the department address all professors with their titles. So, I will have to get used to the fact to be constantly referred to as dr. Bruinsma. Or, as something that sounds like it, since, for some strange reason, most foreigners, as in the USA, have difficulty using the Dutch ui-sound.
Last Saturday afternoon my wife and I joined a colleague and his wife to go to Glendale, at about an hour’s driving distance from Loma Linda. We went to a meeting of the chapter of the Adventist Forums (closely linked to the Spectrum journal). The famous Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt was the guest speaker. This week he will conduct a number of concerts of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Blomstedt has been a life-long loyal seventh-day Adventist, in spite of his phenomenal career. He gave a talk about the relationship between faith and music. After the program he was very accessible. I had met him in Poland once before, but that was many years ago. So, I could hardly expect him to recognize my face. But when I introduced myself, he told me he knew my writings and it was very flattering to hear him describe me as ‘one of his favorite theologians’ in the church. It was a great experience to meet a man of this caliber, who has remained so modest.
On Tuesday afternoon I attended a meeting of the entire staff of the theology department. Each first Tuesday of the month the department arranges for a meal and for someone to give a talk, followed by a discussion. This time I was scheduled to give a 30-minute presentation. Fortunately, I had known this for quite some time and I had been able to prepare something while still at home. One of the people present was Dr. Wil Alexander, a much respected member of the staff. He now has the status of professor-emeritus and is 92 years old, but he continues to teach and his lectures are as popular as ever. He has a razor-sharp brain en still disposes of a great sense of humor. I was delighted to meet him in person. I can only hope that in twenty years’ time I will be as fit and creative as he is. If so, I may perhaps also still occasionally teach somewhere!