Newer Blog Posts Now at Erstwhile Professor Blog

Dear Readers,

I have moved!

I am now blogging at

Thoughts of an Erstwhile Professor. 

But I hope that you enjoy the posts on this blog as well!

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A Campus Grows Up

In the early 1990s I wrote:

The architecture of UTA
As seen while driving down Cooper “Allée”
Is interesting at first, and for the purpose it serves.
But after awhile, it grates on the nerves.

December, 2014:


UTA Grows Up 

No longer do I have to think that.
UTA has become UT Arlington
And has grown up.
And yet at each stage of life
We lose something
When we gain something.
Nor is each stage perfect.

We lose something:
The simple times
Of the commuter school
When all could afford
The $4 credit hour,
When this public university
Was truly funded
By the public
Instead of now,
When it is funded only
And the money must now come
From the students
And private and governmental
And one must
Be beholden to
Those endowments. …
When no one was climbing
Up the proverbial
Ladder of
Prestige, Power, and Popularity,
Just “doing their job.”

We gain something:
People trying to make a difference
In a new way
In the lives of all whom
UT Arlington touches,
Reaching ever more students
In new ways
With new means,
Students whose parents
Never had the chance,
Students proud
To be attending
A school
That is
A contender.

No stage is perfect.
Each stage has
The other
Each stage has its own

Today UTA looks like the coherent, well conceived campus of a major university. It is very good looking!!! As you walk the campus, it feels “right.”

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Thoughts of an Erstwhile Professor

I am now blogging at Thoughts of an Erstwhile Professor (

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Teaching about: history, language, Texas, old texts, translation

What follows is a translation and commentary that I did a few years back. What is amazing is the amount of information you can find on the internet, and if you sift through it carefully, it can reveal things to you that help you understand certain things even better. I translated this final sermon of a minister leaving his flock in “Germany” for “Texas.” As I translated it, I delved into some of the meanings by seeing what I could find on the web. It was actually pretty cool, as the annotations at the end show. The translation itself was a lot of fun. This sermon is in Special Collections at the UT Arlington library on 6th floor. I used google translator toolkit to “start me off,” and as I translated, I got to know this man better than if I had simply read his sermon.

Farewell to the Old World

What makes a man and a woman leave their home and their homeland and travel far distances to create a new life? We have been brought up to believe that people come to North America seeking a better life: freedom, opportunity, and economic security, and while that may often times be the case, conditions in their own place of birth are similarly often the impetus for even thinking of leaving home. If you stop to consider a moment, who would leave their homeland and never come back, if they had the life they wanted there, where the intimacy of their native tongue allowed them to express themselves and understand others in ways they might never again in a new language? Where their childhood memories made the surroundings oh so familiar? Where their family and friends, and all the community they ever sought made their own lives? Where the hills and valleys, streams, rivers, and lakes, trees, animals, and plants, and the highways and byways were as familiar to them as a good friend?

Certainly, some people have wanderlust and want to see new vistas, and some look for opportunity and it is to be found in new places, but many want to go home again at some point. Immigrating to a new place and never looking back is often caused by sad circumstances, by something gone awry in one’s own homeland, whether it be war, unrest, overpopulation, poverty, family problems, or the lack of freedom. As one of my students said, whose family willingly chose to emigrate from Rumania when the opportunity presented itself, one must think carefully about leaving behind all that one loves: “… I think it is very difficult to imagine what ‘to emigrate to another country’ means, to live in another culture, to leave family and friends behind, and especially to abandon one’s own heritage. … I also think that our culture, our identity is very important, and we must not leave our country so fast, only because we want to make more and more money. Money is not everything, but it is true that we need it to live. However, we must also be careful, when we make the decision to leave our country and family…. For me family comes first. And although my parents and I have legal visas here in America, it is still hard. We live in a country where there are so many opportunities, but we are also very far from where we grew up. To be homesick is, I think, the most difficult feeling that one can have.” While one may want to leave, nevertheless one is leaving so much behind.

So what about us or our ancestors who moved to Texas? What were their reasons for coming? I myself came from Kansas via Missouri and California following my career, for Texas was where the good job was. As far as Texans’ ancestors are concerned, there are many reasons people came to Texas, given that we all have many direct line ancestors. (If you were born in the 1980’s and your ancestors came to Texas in the 1840’s, [considering that we have two parents, four grandparents, eight direct-line great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents,] then those who came in the 1840’s would be your great-great-great-great-great-grandparents [128 of them]!). Of course, not all came at the same time. Yet one hundred and twenty-eight people must have had at least a few different reasons for coming, given the varying circumstances of their leaving their homeland. Some came because they sought a better economic life, some because they wanted more freedom of expression, some because the crowding of human life in the cities and towns was stifling, some because war drove them away, some because they were captured and brought to the Americas, some because they left heartache and a family in shreds because tuberculosis or other diseases had killed their mothers, sisters, and brothers, some because they were adventurers and wanted to “see the world,” some because they were told they could live better in the new place than the old and were encouraged to buy up lots in what would later be New Braunfels or some other town. Some came for several of these reasons.

Adolph Fuchs was just such an immigrant. A Lutheran minister, he left Mecklenburg-Schwerin, in present-day northeastern Germany in 1845 and came to Texas. In our library’s Special Collections here at UT Arlington we have a pamphlet that he published in San Antonio after he came to Texas, rendering in print his last sermon to his congregation in the old country. In this sermon he explained what made him make such a momentous decision, for he came bringing his wife and seven children, and they made their home in Texas for the rest of their lives. What follows is the text of that pamphlet, translated into English.
Lana Rings, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Arlington

Farewell to the Old World

A Farewell Sermon
held in Kölzow in Mecklenburg-Schwerin on the
Twentieth Sunday after Trinitatis [Trinity Sunday], 1845
Preacher at the event

The speaker has already emigrated via Bremen to Texas. He had planned for a long time to give up his parish and make the journey across the sea to the new world. Compare Fuchs, A., “The New Country: A Song with Annotations.” Rostock, 1836.

The clergyman is often bound to the nature of his congregation’s beliefs and views. Therefore, in no way does it redound to a criticism of falseness or insincerity in him if he, in the course of his official functions as a clergyman, speaks against his own view in accordance with a different view; it will much more readily be very pretentious of him, to force only his perspective on the congregation. To follow the different view, without circulating it as one’s own, is thus by all means not contrary to one’s duty. However, for a straightforward and ingenuous mind it must linger as very oppressive and offensive to administrate such an office, while deviating significantly in one’s own conviction from the officially sanctioned view.
Fries, Ethics. §69.
Printing by Nic Tengg, San Antonio, Texas.

Peace Be With You!

More than ten years have now passed, my dear friends, since I became your preacher; and today is the last day that I will speak with you. – How can such a day as this not grip me to the core of my soul? And for you – this I believe! – it will not be a completely indifferent day either.

It was on the second Sunday after Easter in the year Eighteen Hundred and Thirty-Five, that I was introduced as your pastor. The Gospel of the day was the Gospel – of the Good Shepherd! That was a touchingly beautiful omen for me. I imagined a wonderful life, a delightful interaction between shepherd and flock. Was it then only a dream? Well, this very Gospel also spoke – of the hireling, yes, of the hireling who does not love the sheep, who leaves them and flees when the wolf comes, the wolf that catches and disperses the sheep.

Am I such a hireling, a faithless hireling? That would indeed be a most painful, distressing judgment.

By a hireling, dear Christians, I mean a shepherd whose heart is without love, who is indifferent to the fate of his flock, a person who cares more for that which is of the earth than that which is of heaven and the spirit, more about money and property than that which has true worth, more for the salary of a Christian preacher than of Christian truth and virtue. Have you ever known me to be such a man? If so, call me a hireling after all, for then I deserve it.

‘But if you are not such a person, then why do you want to leave us?’ you ask.

My beloved congregation, if I had promised you that I would never part from you, then I would not leave you. Now however, I believe it could well be the case, that many a shepherd who does not leave his flock, nor ever wants to leave, in reality might yet be nothing other than a hireling. Shouldn’t the inverse of that also be true?
And furthermore, if I really had reason to fear that through my leaving, an evil fate would threaten my flock, or that the wolf, as Christ says, were to catch and scatter the flock: o, then I would also not leave you. But to fear that would be contemptible self-importance. No, my dear people, I am not doubtful that you will be less well counseled by the gentleman, who has been appointed my successor, than by me – and I pray God, that your life with him may be as beautiful, as genuinely Christian, as I have ever wished it with me.

‘But why must you go away to a life of uncertainty?’

Indeed, you are not driving me away from you; instead, I prefer to believe your assurances, given me here and there, that you would have gladly retained me. — Indeed, we have always lived in peace with each other – I believe that I hardly have an enemy among you. – And not just in peace have we lived, even love it was that you have always shown me. I recognize that with a thankful heart.

‘And even so,’ you say, ‘even so you intend to go?’

Yes, even so, dear friends, I intend to leave you. – You can rightly demand of me, that I give you an account – at least in essence – of the reasons, which drive me from here; and that is what I want to do now, with God’s help.

With that in mind, I choose my text from the Old Testament, and namely from the 12th chapter of the first Book of Moses, where the words in the first and second verses read as follows:

And the Lord spoke unto Abraham: ‘Go forth from thy country and thy kindred and thy father’s house to the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee.’

If we ask the reasons why the noble ancestor of the tribe of the Jewish people left his Mesopotamia and journeyed across the Euphrates into distant Palestine, of course the answer remains complex, and we have to satisfy ourselves with the little that the Holy Word tells us about it: namely that ‘the Word of God became loud in his heart and spoke to him: Go forth from thy country and thy kindred and thy father’s house to the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee.’ Specifically, however, his reasons, like his hopes and desires, may have been many. He probably had his internal and external considerations in that regard. His internal reasons would perhaps have been of a religious nature, but the external ones would most probably have been none other than the fact that there was not enough room in the old country for his herds and shepherds. He would have sought a country where the population was less and the space therefore greater.

With me it is essentially no different. I too have my external and internal reasons or, in other words, my lower and higher, my earthly and my religious, reasons.

Of the Earthly Reasons First

There are people enough, who still do not want to believe, that in our own country, as probably once in Mesopotamia, there are too many people, or that we, as one is accustomed to say, suffer from overpopulation. And of course still more people could live here among us, if, namely, some things were different here than they are; if, for example, property were not so unevenly distributed. However, things are not different at all, and – it is difficult to make things different from what they have been for hundreds of years; difficult, I say, to achieve that in just ways; und in unjust ways? – Through revolt and the shedding of blood? – Oh, dear heaven, preserve my country from the horrors of revolution!

No, my beloved friends, if it cannot be denied that it is, from day to day, made more difficult for the inhabitants of our country, and especially the fathers of large families, to give life and sustenance to their families by honest means, because namely the rush to every kind of acquisition shamefully grows from day to day—and that is exactly the sign of overpopulation; — furthermore, when it cannot be denied that in this way poverty – and immorality – are bound to take the upper hand ever more and more; then it is valid to pursue one’s own ways to remedy these grievances. And one of these ways is to create more space, to make room for the other, and give him the opportunity to obtain his daily bread. Our people have also recognized this for a long time. Therefore, every year many thousands move away from this overpopulated country to such countries as there are few people, but there is much fertile land. – Yes, indeed, how would it stand with our German country if, for hundreds of years, so many millions had not left their old native land? Then why do you want to reprimand me, when I do the same?

But perhaps you mean to say: ‘Aren’t you the one who so often called on us by saying: Do not worry! Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet thy heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they labour not, neither do they spin. Yet not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed as one of these. Why then go so far away? Does not the earth everywhere belong to the Lord? And is your resignation your humility?’ – Yes, indeed I have often called upon you, and with an honest heart, saying: ‘Do not worry! Look at the birds in the sky and the lilies in the field;’ but never have I said: ‘Let your hands rest inactive in your laps, just let everything happen as it may, and wait until the Lord provides for you.’ Rather, I have often reminded you of the Lord’s will that man should earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. ‘And why a distant land,’ you say, ‘as everywhere the earth is of the Lord?’ Well, just that, because everywhere is of the Lord, on that side of the ocean, as well as on this; yes, because everywhere on the earth it is the same sun that shines, and the same heavenly Father who blesses those who fear Him, so it cannot depend on the Where and on the Far or the Near. Finally you want to admonish me about giving in to God’s will, about humility? Oh, dear friends, it is certainly not God’s will to leave us to wither away in an overpopulated country, while the rich lands of the earth are not populated. And when the Christian trusts his God with a joyfully pious courage and fresh daring, that is also called being humble.

Of course, whether the Lord will really be with me – in other words, whether the Lord’s word to Abraham, ‘And I will bless you,’ will really be valid for me, of course that rests in God’s hands. – Maybe you are doubtful, but at least I know that your blessings accompany me and mine; and I – I hope and I pray. But my hopes are also, as you know, not directed toward great treasures. Wealth has never been, and will never be, my aspiration. If my motto now is ‘hope and pray!’ then in the future it will be ‘work and pray!’ Yes, dear friends in Christ, I would rather eat my bread by the sweat of my brow in the future than—to be taken care of here, for goodness sakes, by the surpluses of the rich, and by the miserably attained money of the poor. In temporal, earthly things I want to be dependent on God rather than man.

Do you call that an exaggerated pursuit of freedom or independence? A false ambition, a perverse pride? Then I admit to you that I am not ashamed of such pride and such ambition.

And so now I come to naming for you, also, the interior reasons that move me to leave you.

Dear friends, if I were to say it this way: ‘I intend in physical, temporal things to be dependent on God rather than man,’ then that pertains even more for me in regard to the spiritual and ministerial reasons for my leaving. Now, however, this is my belief – although not just mine, but that of many thousands of Christians in our day – that our public religious – that is, our church – life lies in disarray in the entire way in which it is set up, that it is extremely different from the Church which Christ had come to establish, and that it has hardly a trace of the freedom which, as He said, should come through truth. In its human manifestations the freedom of the Church has run aground – in human terms, moreover, which have not emanated at all from the will of the whole Church, that is of all believers, but only from the individual powerful people in it, who as priests or kings imposed their will on the religious life of all the rest. However then, a genuinely Christian Church can only survive in a place where no enforcement of conscience and beliefs is to be found; where the congregation, that is, the totality of all believers, fully freely, through their elected representatives, organizes its public religious life according to best understanding. Such religious freedom, indeed not outwardly, but privately inwardly, is what the first Christian Church possessed with its Oldest Director. And if we do not return to it, then our church life will surely ever more decay, and the participation by Christians in Christianity will ever more disappear!

Oh, truly, in that it has already gone far enough!

And how it is with you, dear Christians? Since among you religious life is to be found in the breast of the individual, about that I am entitled to no judgment, here least of all. You yourselves will of course know how you stand with your God, and with your Savior. But that the public religious life among you enjoys no great participation, that I already painfully experienced on the day of my first sermon, which had no more than fourteen listeners. Now, if however, in more recent times the number of those who worshiped God here was often not larger, more often frequently even smaller, – was it then not perhaps my own fault? Yes, indeed I openly admit that often at times during the preparation for Sunday, cheerful courage and holy zeal failed me, when I again would have to expect to preach in an empty House of God. – Or was I not perhaps guilty for another reason? Maybe what I gave you here as my viewpoint was not something which could gratify you, because it – yes, because it was not what you understood by true Christianity? No, therein I am without guilt. Because it was truly impossible for me to give you something as my truth that would be different from what I myself understood as true Christianity or the essential element of the Gospel. Should that not have been satisfactory to you? Perhaps, that I always placed a higher value on getting out of bed in the morning and on transformation-in-a-new-life than on the resurrection of the Savior? A higher value on the transformation in heaven than on His Ascension into Heaven? Or that for me His pure life and ardor for God were always much more important than all the miracles, which happened with and through Him? That for me the Word: ‘You are my friends, so do what I ask of you’ was more important than that of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world? The Word of love more important that that of belief and hope? – In all of that would you have been of a different opinion? Now, as I said, in this instance I would be guiltless, because it was impossible to give you something that I would call the truth, that was different from what I thought was the truth.

So that does not trouble me.

But something else has troubled, aggrieved, tormented me a thousand times over – and now drives me away from here. If namely I have also always honestly given you only that which was my true perspective – yes, if I have never lied to you, still I had to – conceal my innermost convictions for thousands upon thousands of reasons; I had to do it for pure reasons of prudence which affected you as well as me. That is what I could no longer endure! – Dear Christians, if not once in religion, not once in the House of God, the pure unadulterated truth – that is, what man, the speaker recognizes as the pure unadulterated truth – is supposed and is allowed to count, where then? Will we then ever in life be done with the lie? Or perhaps should and must every preacher agree exactly in his religious views with every single person in his congregation? To attain that is likewise impossible: the religious outlook of people will always differ, even if they are united into one flock, yes, even if everywhere on earth a Shepherd and a Flock should exist again. It cannot be otherwise, because certainly the cultivation of understanding and the fates of individual human beings will always differ.

But for that very reason one should also allow every individual, and every congregation, and every party their belief, their conscience, and their worship of God. – That is religious freedom! – And it is not supposed to mean, one must unite all people’s minds under one umbrella. – That is servitude! – And that gives birth to persecution and hypocrisy.

And exactly for that reason, too, every preacher is not suitable for every congregation, at least not for the majority (in a congregation), who must naturally always decide. Dear friends, you can use neither a reformed preacher nor a Catholic one, nor a German Catholic one, nor – me. It must be a preacher, who in his religious views agrees as precisely as possible at least with the majority among you. And such a one, I hope, you will have elected in my successor. Oh, may God bless your venerable association with him!

But may there also now be none among you who misinterpret my public avowals and their motives, no one specifically who, given what I have said, would believed that I, because I give up my present position, despise the profession of a Christian preacher, or even that I do not respect Christianity itself, that I am ashamed of the Gospel, that it is thus not real earnestness – or, even more, that there is nothing to all my previous teachings and admonishments – nothing at all! Oh, may God keep you from such a misconception! It could do great incalculable harm to many a soul among you, because it could lead, in the end, to making someone’s heart fully indifferent not just to all our – church life, but even to all Christian belief and all Christian virtue. Of course, it (such a way of thinking) could however only be found in that shallow, superficial knowledge, which in any case already believes little or nothing, and has already been ashamed of the Gospel for a long time.

Listen then to what I say: I have never been ashamed of the Gospel and will also never feel ashamed of it, because I really and truly believe that a power of God is contained therein to make all blessed who believe in it, that is, all who understand how to free the living kernel from the dead rind of the letter; and therefore I respect Christianity, too, and respect the Christian preaching profession, yes, if such an assurance is necessary. Although I now relinquish this profession, even on the other side of the ocean I will also not stop preaching truth and working for the kingdom of God on earth, as much as I am able.
‘And do you hope,’ you say, ‘that God will bless you there, in the physical as in these highest things as well? And do you even perhaps hope that He will make you, like Abraham, into a great people and not simply into a numerous, but also into a spiritually great, civilized, pious, just people?’ – Yes, truly I hope that. And if I did not hope for it, could not hope for it, then truly I would not leave my old country.

You see, I thus also hope then, that there, where indeed no longer the office and the dress, but rather only the human being in me will be taken heed of; I hope, so certain God lives everywhere in the hearts of men, and not just in temples that are made by human hands; I hope, I say, that there, where in fact that which we do not know, religious freedom, is to be found, a congregation will be established in the course of time, which is worthy of being compared with the beautiful original model of the Christian community.

That is what I hope!

And yet, dear friends, parting from you is difficult. Separation hurts! – It would be different, if I did not love you, nor you me.

Oh, do not condemn me! I cannot do otherwise!

Retain your love for me, which you have always shown. And I too will not cease to remember you, even from so far away.
In farewell I wish you all the best. For the little ones, who received Holy Baptism from me, I wish that they may thrive, to the joy of their parents and the glory of God. To the youths and damsels, young men and young women, who, by giving me their hand, vowed eternal loyalty to their God and Savior – that they may never in unfaithfulness break their solemn promise. To the married couples, whose union I blessed, that they may preserve their love and loyalty to each other! To those, who sought comfort and strength here at the table of the Lord – that they may have found both and continue to find them! To those who are the fortunate and the rich among you I wish – humility. To the unfortunate and the poor – joyous courage! To you all, men and women, old and young, I wish peace and joy and, when the time comes, a blessed end, through Jesus Christ!


So you see Adolph Fuchs was indeed actually one of those who came to the new world for the reasons we always associate with immigrants to this land: freedom of religion, democracy, and economic opportunity. I’d like to say a little more about Adolph Fuchs below.

The Gathering Storm

If you begin up north in Lübeck, in former West Germany and head east on Highway 20, on your left you will bypass turnoffs to the towns of Wismar and Rostock up near the Baltic Sea. Then you will come to a turn, which will lead you north on 110 and then east on Sülzer Straße or L19. Just past Dettmannsdorf you’ll “hang a right,” heading south for a short distance to the small town of Közlow, in the old imperial region known as Mecklenburg, or Mecklenburg-Schwerin, an area beholding only to the Emperor in the old Holy Roman Empire. This is the spot where our sermon takes place in 1845. So what was happening there? I’ll let historian Wolfram Siemann tell you, through my translation, some of what was going on:

If one surveys the spatial patterns and temporal structure of population development in Germany in the 19th Century as a whole, three time periods stand out. The first phase from about 1806 to 1840 was marked by an “agrarian population wave” (Jürgen Kocka). Growth was concentrated in the agrarian landscapes in West and East Prussia, Posen, Pomerania and Mecklenburg. In the 1840s, these areas were gradually transformed from immigration into emigration areas. … As the second phase of population development, the 1840s and 1850s were characterized by crop failures, famines and epidemics, so that because of them the population growth stagnated, even partially declined. With the 1860s the industrial population wave began, …” (89-90).
Here is the original German version of what he said:

Überblickt man das räumliche Muster und die zeitliche Gliederung der Bevölkerungsentwicklung in Deutschland im 19. Jahrhundert insgesamt, so heben sich drei Zeitperioden ab. Die erste Phase von ca. 1806 bis 1840 war geprägt durch eine “agrarische Bevölkerungswelle” (Jürgen Kocka); das Wachstum konzentrierte sich auf die agrarischen Großlandschaften in West- und Ostpreußen, Posen, Pommern und Mecklenburg. In den 1840er Jahren verwandelten sich diese Gebiete almahlich von Zuwanderungs- in Auswanderungsregionen. … Die 1840er und 1850er Jahre als zweite Phase der Bevölkerungsentwicklung waren geprägt durch Mißernten, Hungerkatastrophen und Epidemien, so dass in ihnen das Bevölkerungswachstum stagnierte, teilweise gar zurückging. Seit den 1860er Jahren began die Industrielle Bevölkerungswelle,” …

Thus, Pastor Fuchs lived in an area of population growth during the first forty years of the century. Then in the 1840’s people began leaving. He and his family were among those who left. In the 1840’s, Siemann’s second wave was beginning, marked by hunger and disease, which Adolph Fuchs may have already been seeing, as he left in 1845. So he was right in the middle of serious and catastrophic change. It is no wonder he saw the seriousness of it all on the physical level, and overpopulation was one of his “external reasons” for leaving.

I happened upon the website of the little church where Pastor Fuchs preached for ten years. The church just happens to be one of the oldest, best preserved stone churches in the region, dating back to the 12th century, so it has an extensive church history portal on the web. It also has excerpts from his farewell sermon, first published in Hamburg just before he left the Old World, but the words are different from those published in the pamphlet in Texas. It seems, from the historical information located on the website, that Adolph Fuchs was having a very difficult time making ends meet, and he had attempted to get a second parish, but did not succeed. It was at that point that he and his family left for Texas. According to the website he told an acquaintance, “My faithful flock decreases, as my creditors increase,” creating a play on words in German that is impossible in English: “Meine Gläubigen nehmen immer mehr ab, meine Gläuubiger immer mehr zu,” where meine Gläubigen refers to his faithful believers, meine Gläubiger his creditors, and nehmen ab means ‘decline’/’decrease’ and nehmen zu ‘increase.’ He must have said that with a wry sense of irony and humor. It is very clever.

In our Texas version he talks about why he is leaving and leaves it at that: “Yes, dear friends in Christ, I would rather eat my bread by the sweat of my brow in the future than—to be taken care of here, for goodness sakes, by the surpluses of the rich, and by the miserably attained money of the poor.” In the Hamburg version, he says it more vehemently, directly, and colorfully and adds a bit more: “I am fed up with eking out my existence miserably from the surplus of the rich and the sweat of the poor. To you poor I preach courage and to you rich humility. My ax on my back and my Luise (Lieschen) at my side, I go from my country and from my friends, to the land across the sea.”

And now, on to the New World.

Who Was Adolph Fuchs?

If you travel along Farm-To-Market Road 949 to where it crosses Newberg and Track Roads about an hour west of Houston and slightly to the north, you’ll come to a little town – hardly a town, rather a few streets – called Cat Spring. Boasting a post office, a volunteer fire department, Carol’s Restaurant, and St. John Lutheran Church, this was the place where Adolph Fuchs brought his family in 1845, according to an article by Lota Spell in The Handbook of Texas Online. From what he says in his sermon and from what this article says, Rev. Fuchs was convinced that freedom and democracy were key, in religion as well as in political and economic life: freedom of the congregation to say its truth, and political democracy so that there would not be such a divide between those who have and those who do not. Indeed, it seems that Adolph Fuchs is one of those we think about when we think that people came to North America to find political and religious freedom. He caught the spirit of political and religious democracy of mid-nineteenth century “Germany” (in quotes because “Germany” was a loose federation of principalities), appearing on the heels of the American and French Revolutions just 50-75 years or so earlier, and he left just before the failed “German Revolution.” For Fuchs, North America was indeed the “land of opportunity,” as he saw overcrowding and fewer and fewer chances for himself and his children. He had a very small congregation, and with his wife he had seven children to care for and send out into the world as adults.

Upon leaving Germany he intended never to preach again, and that was what indeed happened. He and his family came to this small place in Texas, suffered the hardships of pioneer life, he found out that he was still much better suited for the life of the mind, and he thus “became a music teacher at Baylor Female College in Independence. He was given credit for founding the first state-supported public school in Texas” (Spell). He evidently wrote music to German poems and wrote his own songs as well.
Adolph Fuchs lived to the age of 80, dying in 1885. Evidently his descendant David Lewis Ramage has posted more information about him at, including that he and his family landed at Galveston in January of 1846, that he and his wife had a total of nine children (one died young, and one was born in the New World), and that he had studied theology at Jena, Hall, and Göttingen.

Fuchs and His Beliefs

Fuchs must have been a man of some means at some point, as he had been educated. As he gathered together the wherewithal to transport a family of nine people across the ocean to the new country, he must have scraped together all his family had.
He (and perhaps his wife – who knows?) must have been discontented, and they also must have been influenced by the fact that others were leaving as well. It is said that he was discontented with the Lutheran Church at the time as well, which he indicates in his sermon.

But what must he have been feeling, deep inside, given that he was not experienced in farming or animal husbandry, that he was a “man of the cloth,” and that he was a thinker, as he had pursued the life of the mind through his education, through his ministry, and through his relationships with “movers and shakers” of the day?

August Heinrich von Fallersleben is mentioned as a friend or acquaintance of Fuchs; and Fallersleben is important as the man who wrote the German National Anthem that Hitler misappropriated for his own uses. When Fallersleben wrote “Germany, Germany over everything” – “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,” his intention was not to take over the world. Rather, there was not a unified Germany (“not a state but at best a nation with a blurry claim to a territorial homeland based on linguistic and cultural affinities, … a so-called federation [the Deutscher Bund], which consisted of thirty-five independent political entities and four free cities. …”FN They were thirty-five separate entities and four cities that Fallersleben said should be one Germany. In other words, “Germany above all,” meant Germany above these individual entities: there should be a united Germany instead of these principalities run by their own “lesser monarchs, dukes, and princes who had everything to lose by national unification and nothing to gain. Against this backdrop, Hoffmann’s exhortation [was] to put the struggle for Germany (i.e. unification) topmost on the agenda. …”

As for Fuchs’s innermost feelings, I’d like to base my understanding of them partially on what little I know of Fuchs on the one hand, but especially on what he himself says on the other, in order to take a closer look at what he states as the reasons for his discontent and for his decision to leave his country. Now, although he gave his farewell sermon in 1845, it was printed much later, in San Antonio.

When you look at the historical context of his speech, his and his family’s move to the U.S., it becomes clear that he was responding to, interacting with, and reacting to his times.

The political winds are blowing. Change is in the air. The word ‘democracy’ is on the lips of the intellectuals, and others who see the need for such change. In just three short years there will be a revolution, but it will fail.
The idea of freedom has been around since Schiller, maybe even before, and the American and French Revolutions. Ideas have been sparking ideas on both sides of the Atlantic. It is contagious. Adolph Fuchs has embraced the idea wholeheartedly, completely. It is because he sees the inequities among those who have and those who do not: the land is not well allocated. In other words, some people have too much, some not enough, and so many live in overcrowding while others live in large spaces. Poverty is rearing its ugly head, as industrialization in some parts leaves other parts unable to compete any longer. People are wondering how they now – or their children in the future – will make their way economically.

People are no longer coming into regions like Mecklenburg-Schwerin, but are now leaving. Others are watching them go and reconsidering their own situation.

Adolph Fuchs is living in the midst of all this. He is aware of the ideas floating around. He sees that so many are not “making it,” and he fears for his own livelihood and that of his children. How will they fare as adults? Tied up in that is the fact that he evidently has a very small congregation. This worries him for a number of reasons. Maybe he worries about keeping his position. We know he, like many of us, despair to a certain extent when what we do has little impact. He himself states that he is not as motivated to prepare a Sunday sermon as he might be, knowing that just a few people will show up for it. But far and away the most important reason he has for worrying about his church is something much deeper: a need for truth, and for the freedom that allows one to seek the truth. As a minister he feels stifled. He feels he can go only so far in expressing his true beliefs. He feels that he cannot state what motivates his beliefs, because on the one hand he does not want to completely alienate his congregation who, he believes, have opinions different from his own and, on the other, he feels constrained by the rules and regulations, by the church he must represent, as imposed from above. As he says, if we cannot be completely honest in the House of God, where can we be? He wants to return to the way of the early Christians, which he interprets with the tenor of his own times, for the ideal that he sees in early Christianity is the freedom to seek truth.

He has a sense, on the one hand, that a congregation and his minister must be free to express their truth and be united, but on the other hand, that individuals have different opinions. He seems to be saying that there needs to be a way for all that to exist. To me, he is one of the pioneering religious people who made Protestant America what it is today: people are allowed their own form of Christianity, which produces a multitude of variations on the Christian theme. These are called ‘sects’ in our parlance today, and because of these attitudes, all sorts of churches were able to spring up on our soil: from Lutherans and Episcopalians, to Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Church of Christ, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, and so forth and so on.

Adolph Fuchs is also a “liberal Christian.” One will note that he says one must draw the living kernel of truth from the dead letter, meaning that the Bible contains words, but the truth must be drawn from those words, in other words, it must be interpreted. He is less a man of the “letter of the law” than of the “spirit of the law,” for he says that he has been more interested in how Christians behave and in what is in their hearts (transforming oneself, leading a pure life, demonstrating enthusiasm for God, doing as Jesus asked, focusing on love) than in dogma (the Resurrection, the Ascension into Heaven, the miracles, the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world, and belief and hope [versus the higher love]). In other words, he was one of those whom one still finds today who say that one’s essence, how one loves, and how one presents oneself spiritually are what one should concentrate on, rather than the supernatural happenings of the Bible, that how one loves is more important than how one believes. He also finds the important things of life to be, not how one is regarded, based on what kind of job one has or what kind of clothes one wears, but who one is as a human being. In other words, he is not interested (he even says so) in wealth, but rather in freedom to speak one’s own truth.

Adolph Fuchs’s core issue in his sermon is with religion as it is and the lack of full freedom to express one’s religious views as one really sees them. When one opens up the pamphlet to his last sermon, there is a page with a quote from Fries, which essentially says that it is okay– and not hypocrisy – to state the official church belief, but that it is difficult for some. Adolph Fuchs must have felt himself to be one for whom it was difficult.

Relationship to His Congregation – and to His Sense of Religious Freedom

As the reader can probably gather, it seems that Adolph Fuchs’s congregation and ministry were a disappointment to him. He began his ministry with eager anticipation: “The gospel of the day was the Gospel – of the Good Shepherd! That was a touchingly beautiful omen for me. I imagined a wonderful life, a delightful interaction between shepherd and flock.” Yet his congregation did not seem to grow; nor did it seem to take his sermons to heart. He states that there was no animosity between him and his congregation, that indeed they did care about each other and wished each other well, but it seems that he felt he was not right for the congregation, that he could not say everything he wished to say and that those who came to listen to him did not agree with or take to heart what he said.
These lines are telling: “I pray God, that your life with him [Fuchs’ successor] may be as beautiful, as genuinely Christian, as I have ever wished it with me.” Adolph Fuchs is being quite diplomatic here, in wishing, probably quite honestly, as he seems to have been a man of honor and integrity, that his congregation will find in his successor a beautiful, genuinely Christian relationship. He wishes it as much for the congregation and his successor as he ever wished it for the congregation and himself. But note that he does not say that he has had such a wished-for relationship. He does not say, “I pray God, that your life with him may be as beautiful, as genuinely Christian, as it has been with me.” In other words, I think he wishes for his successor to have the relationship with the congregation that he, Adolph Fuchs, always wanted but never had, and thinks it will happen if the congregation has chosen someone more compatible with them. So he is not being blatant about it, but I think it comes through that his hopes and dreams with his congregation did not come to fruition.

He talks about the difficulty of a preacher’s views fitting in with those of his congregation, indicating that it had been hard for him and maybe had not worked for him (something many a preacher may have to deal with). But, finally, he hopes that his congregation finds a preacher who agrees with them, and he hopes that his successor will be such a man. He states quite openly the kind of preacher that his congregation does not need, and he includes himself in the list.

It is also a disappointment to him that his congregation did not grow. He noted that so few people attended his first sermon, and still ten years later no more, maybe even fewer, attend, and that knowing he would have a small congregation dampened his enthusiasm when preparing a sermon. Was it that he felt he could not “grow a church,” as people say nowadays? Did he feel depressed when preparing his sermons because of it? Did he feel that his financial security was also thus in jeopardy? Did he have self-doubts which he did not express here? What seems certain is that there was this inner conflict: he and his congregation were not suited for each other, and perhaps it was idealistic to think that such could be the case, perhaps not, but I think he felt this conflict. As Fries said, and I repeat, “for a straightforward and ingenuous mind it must linger as very oppressive and offensive to administrate such an office while deviating significantly in one’s own conviction from the officially sanctioned view.” The fact that this was the subject of what, for all intents and purposes, is the preface to his sermon, as well as the fact that he seemed to have such conflict around honesty and religious freedom and feeling stifled by the Church, is an indication that Adolph Fuchs was such a man.

Oratorical Style: Repetition.

I have enjoyed the way Fuchs used repetition and parallelism for oratory effect, and I have enjoyed attempting to convey the flavor of nineteenth century “sermon language.”

You will note that Fuchs uses repetition quite a lot to emphasize an idea or effect he wants to create.

By a hireling, dear Christians, I mean a shepherd whose heart is without love, who is indifferent to the fate of his flock, a person who cares more for that which is of the earth than that which is of heaven and the spirit, more about money and property than that which has true worth, more for the salary of a Christian preacher than of Christian truth and virtue. Have you ever known me to be such a man? If so, call me a hireling after all, for then I deserve it.

Note, here, the repetition of phrases and sometimes of clauses in the above paragraph, as well as contrasts that are set up:
By a hireling, dear Christians, I mean
a shepherd whose heart is without love
who is indifferent to the fate of his flock
a person who cares more for that which is of the earth
than that which is of heaven and the spirit
more about money and property
than that which has true worth
more for the salary of a Christian preacher
than of Christian truth and value
Have you ever known me to be such a man?
If so, call me a hireling after all, for then I deserve it.

This is an interesting sample paragraph, for the structural style is so clear to see. Adolph Fuchs defines a hireling, then asks if the congregation thinks he is like the description, then logically concludes that if he is like that they should call him a hireling. (Of course, then he goes on to show that he is not.)

What is especially interesting is his description of a hireling. A hireling is “a shepherd who” and “a person who:” “a shepherd whose heart is” and “who is,” and “a person who is indifferent” (to good) and “who cares more” (for bad). The latter also sets up a contrast: the desired versus the undesirable. Then when describing this person, Pastor Fuchs sets up three “more/than” scenarios, also in contrast: “more for that which is of the earth,” “more about money and property,” “more for the salary of a Christian preacher,” versus “than that which is of heaven and the spirit,” “than that which has true worth,” “than of Christian truth and value.”

It is enjoyable to read through his sermon and look at this oratorical style (“the art of swaying an audience by eloquent speech”) which preachers often still use and which he uses: “In the 19th cent., the rise of Methodism and evangelical religions produced great preachers like John Wesley and George Whitefield who addressed a wide audience of diverse classes of people. Their sermons, replete with biblical allusions and appeals to the emotions, profoundly influenced the oratorical style of many politicians.” It seems that Adolph Fuchs also uses biblical allusions and appeals to the emotions well here. From Citation from Columbia Encyclopedia: oratory.

Musings by Lana Rings: Opinion and Commentary

Reading what Adolph Fuchs had to say many years ago, a man from a different time and place from me, but connected through our immigration to Texas, I feel even more connected to this man, because I have read, studied, and pondered not only his words, but his times, and what he must have felt, deep down inside. I feel a connection to him as a fellow human being walking the earth. Here are some of the thoughts that have come to me upon reading his words and studying his times.

Adolph Fuchs would not view today’s dreams of a bigger house or more cars and boats and wealth as a good thing. He even said so: he did not aspire to great wealth. He lived his life where it matters: in honest truth and doing that which gives one great satisfaction. He left the ministry, which did not give him satisfaction and ended up teaching music, writing music, and writing songs, which did give him satisfaction. He ended up in a place where he evidently could help his family “get on.” His was truly an expression of the “American dream” in its highest calling. It may be a truism, but I believe it is nevertheless true that the human being is happiest expressing the true nature of a human being: being creative rather than amassing more and more “stuff.”
Now, Adolph Fuchs, like you and me, was a man of his times. He was a forward-thinking man of his times. There is no doubt about that. But he, like you and me if we had been living back then and there, had a traditional European view of women and of the new world. The first wave of feminism had not yet happened, so he speaks only of himself and not of his wife in his decisions. Today some ministers would say “we have decided,” even in this context, rather than “I have decided.” Of course, Mrs. Fuchs had a lot of children. That is what was expected back then. You or I would have most probably been the same way. In terms of the new world, the Europeans saw it as the land of opportunity on so many levels. They saw an overcrowded Europe with all its problems and a new country with land that was for the taking. It was so much less populated that they did not see, or want to see, what was happening to the American Indians. Yet, it was not until the Second Wave of Feminism and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s that we really “got it” – that women are equal to men and that the American Indians have rights, too. So I am not faulting Adolph Fuchs; I am only bringing it to the reader’s attention.

Adolph Fuchs experienced a lot of disappointment: in his ministry, in his church, in his country. But he lived in a time of change, with poverty, disease, overcrowding, ideas of freedom and democracy in the air, and unrest in the air. It was time for a change. And thankfully for him, he was able to do it – to go to a new land and start life anew. That was the hope of the new world, the hope that many Europeans saw in the new world, for they were fascinated by it, and many upon many came in waves of immigration to this ever-expanding country. From a small set of thirteen colonies its expansionist tendencies took the country on a journey of expansion, so that finally by 1961 it encompassed the lands of Hawaii and Alaska, from the Atlantic shore to the Pacific shore, from a border at Canada’s crossing to pushing the French border (Louisiana Purchase), to pushing the Mexican border at northern Colorado ever back and back until it encompassed California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and the Rio Grande became the new border, from Spain taking over the lands of the native peoples in California, for instance, to the newer waves of Anglo-Europeans who came and took over from the Spaniards. And it all continues. While we have not added new states for fifty years, yet the waves of immigration have continued, legally and illegally, born of a need to flee persecution or poverty, as many still see this a land of opportunity, crisis-laden though we are with pollution in our cities, lakes, streams, soil, and air, tension between our races, the haves getting more as the have nots get less, some in power exploiting and encouraging the fear, greed, and prejudice of many. But it is still the land of opportunity, because some of its citizens truly believe in freedom of religion, thought, and expression, in religious tolerance, in helping the downtrodden lead a better life, in the expression of one’s creativity, in cleaning up our cities and countryside so that we can “breathe freely” again, — in happiness, too. Although many individuals and our country as a whole are in tremendous debt, yet we have a lot of fat to burn off before people will no longer see this as a land of opportunity.
For Adolph Fuchs North America, and Texas in particular because he came here, were the “promised land.” Fuchs’s descendants live on, and I think Fuchs would have, perhaps on his deathbed at the age of eighty, thought that God had indeed blessed him and carried out for him the same promise Fuchs had quoted on that Sunday in early September, 1845. He had made a great change, but one that in the end was good for him: personally, professionally, emotionally, spiritually, politically, and economically.
And Mecklenburg-Schwerin today, Kölzow in particular? They still are there, and the old, old church is still there, and the castle built in the 1840’s when Adolph Fuchs still lived there, is now restored and is a type of hotel or getaway, with rooms, weddings, nature walks, etc. Kölzow is still a very small place, but one can see a couple of snow-bedecked pictures with part of the village – for that is probably what it is – and one can see a number of pictures of the church and the castle, and a satellite map of the village, if one does a search. It’s a tiny place. I would not be surprised, in spite of the large population in Germany, now as back then, if there were still only fourteen parishioners in attendance on any given Sunday!

Final Musings

I wonder how many people there were at the farewell sermon in Kölzow back in 1845, and I wonder how many people read the printed farewell sermon. I guess we may never know. But what I really wonder is what Adolph Fuchs would have thought, had he known that his pamphlet has been translated into English and will be available on the world-wide internet, in both versions – that his pamphlet is stored in the Special Collections section of a university libraries some miles from his places of residence in Texas, among other places, but those miles don’t seem as far away from each other as they used to, that there are other websites put together by his descendants and by his church which feature him, his ideas, and his writings.

I also wonder how he would have felt about the way I have translated his words, and whether he would have thought the translation an accurate portrayal of his thoughts, intentions, and his language. If he were to read my commentary, would he agree with it? Further, would he find my interpretations offensive? Would he feel that I have pried into his life and mind and been intrusive? If so, I hope that he, and any of his descendants who might happen upon this, would forgive me.
What I have learned, also, is that everything is related! The more I look for connections on the web, the more I find!
August 20, 2010


Dashes. Pastor Fuchs uses dashes to slow the reader down before emphasizing an idea. At least that is my interpretation. I have left them so that the reader can see where he wanted the reader to slow down and ponder the next word, phrase, idea.
Sentence Length. The written German language allows for sentences that are much longer than those in American English, and it allows what we would call separate sentences to be linked by, for example, a comma. I have tried to adhere more to the U.S. American standard for length, as I think the sentences seem more natural to U.S. ears and eyes. However, where I did not think it made much of a difference, I left the length as it was in the German original.

The 20th Sunday After Trinity Sunday. According to the information I found on the internet regarding dates, it may be that the date of Pastor Fuchs’ farewell sermon was perhaps September 7, which could make sense, since according to his descendant David Lewis Ramage, Fuchs and his family sailed from Bremerhaven on November 13, 1845 and arrived in Galveston on January 10, 1846, not a short voyage, as they had to travel from Kölzow in Mecklenburg-Schwerin to Bremerhaven first!

Fries, Ethics. Jakob Friedrich Fries was a German philosopher, physicist, and mathematician, who it seems lived in Jena between 1816 and his death in 1843, and where taught. It could well be that Adolph Fuchs knew him. He had possibly read his work, as there is a quote from Fries’ Ethics in the front of the pamphlet, which he or someone else put in the Texas version, which evidently appeared after his death. (It would be interesting to know if the original Hamburg version contained Fries’ quote.) Information from “Jakob Friedrich Fries (1773-1843): Eine Philosophie der exakten Wissenschaften” Tabvla rasa: Jenenser Zeitschrift für kritisches Denken 6. November, 1994. (accessed August 20, 2010).
Use of Quotation Marks. As Adolph Fuchs did not use quotation marks, I chose not to use them, either, in order to give the reader a “feel” for how the German would thus have read.

Use of Du and Ihr. These two words from the original text are translated into English as ‘you.’ In contemporary German the general rule is that they are used with people you know very well, with family members, or with people of the same age or occupation, or with God (because you have an intimate relationship with the divine), while Sie is reserved for people you don’t know well, people of higher status than you, adults (if you are a child), and so forth. In centuries past they were used to express solidarity, even while people called each other by their titles. I don’t think that would happen today.

Use of the word ‘Protestant.’ Adolph Fuchs uses the German word evangelisch to talk about his religion. It translates as ‘Lutheran’ or ‘Protestant.’ In the German-speaking world of that time, the two were more or less synonymous, as Protestantism was essentially Lutheranism. Contrast that with the use of ‘Protestant’ today, which is the umbrella term for non-Catholic Christian religious affiliations: Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, etc. I have translated evangelisch as ‘Lutheran,’ ‘Protestant,’ or ‘Christian,’ depending on the way the concept is meant and how it would read in English today, given that this sermon is an older text. The latter term ‘Christian,’ is used in the phrases ‘Christian preacher’ and ‘Christian virtue and worth,’ as I thought ‘Lutheran’ would render it too narrow a meaning, and ‘Protestant’ is normally not used when talking about ‘virtue and worth.’ People would be less ready to say ‘Protestant virtue and worth’ and more likely to understand ‘Christian virtue and worth.’ In other contexts I use ‘Protestant’ as the term for non-Catholic Christianity in the U.S. today. While ‘Lutheran’ would be more acceptable in Germany, as today people are (mostly) still Catholic or Lutheran, in the U.S. that is simply not the case. (There are, of course, small minorities of other Protestant denominations, and other non-Christian denominations, but German speak in terms of katholisch or evangelisch (lutheranisch). One should note that the German word evangelisch does not have the connotations that the English word ‘evangelical’ does, although they are etymologically related. One cannot simply translate words in another language into one’s own. One must (attempt to) translate meaning and understanding as well.

Ihr Lieben. In the United States a pastor might address the members of his congregation as ‘dear friends’ or ‘my dear friends.’ Indeed, that is the case in some of the sermons of the nineteenth century, and so I have used that term here. As for Ihr Lieben, today Germans will use Ihr Lieben in an email as a salutation when addressing colleagues they like. (I searched a data bank of sermons in German for 2010 and found ‘Liebe Gemeinde,’ or Dear congregation, but that may be a generic form of address, as these are pre-written sermons for a variety of congregations. Yet an archived sermon by Ludwig Schmidt also begins with the same form of address ( Another sermon I found by Wilhelm Hüffmeier on the Göttingen Sermons website ( begins with ‘Liebe Mitchristen, liebe Gäste,’ or Dear Fellow Christians, dear Guests.’ As for ‘friend,’ normally, Germans reserve the use of the word ‘friend’ (Freund, Freundin) for what U.S. Americans would call close friends. In the U.S. ‘friend’ can well be what Raymonde Carrolle calls a “verbal shortcut” to denote “acquaintance, vague acquaintance, buddy, pal, chum, roommate, housemate, classmate, schoolmate, teammate, playmate, companion, co-worker, colleague, childhood friend, new friend, old friend, very old friend, family friend, close friend, very close friend, best friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc.”.

Mensch. In German this word denotes a human being, a person. Although we might not do so today, I have attempted to remain true to the time by translating it the way that it might have been translated then, with ‘man’ rather than people, e.g., when Adolph Fuchs states: “In temporal, earthly things I want to be dependent on God rather than man.”

Nic Tengg. The name of the man who printed the pamphlet to which we have access can be found on the internet. According to what is on the web now, evidently Nic Tengg was an Austrian, born in 1847, who came to San Antonio in 1852. In 1874 he bought the business of Julius Berends, a bookseller and stationer, in which he had worked. Thus, at this time he would have been 37 years old, and Adolph Fuchs 69 years old. He is pictured on another website, a genealogy website of descendant David Lewis Ramage, around 1875 and looks as he is of a similar age to the picture of him on the pamphlet. Since Nic Tengg was the printer and his name appears on the pamphlet as the printer, perhaps the business was already his. If that is the case, then the pamphlet was printed at least twenty-nine years after the sermon was given in Kölzow. It is interesting to note that Nic Tengg’s shop was on West Commerce in San Antonio for many, many years. (Steinfeldt, Cecilia San Antonio Was, cited at He had a son, Nic Tengg, Jr., and five other children, according to a private individual’s blog, who was evidently a friend ( … Well, I was partly right. I just found a website created by a descendant of Adolph Fuchs with a picture of the pamphlet on the website and a caption under it stating that it was “reprinted in the 1890s,” so it was not he who had it reprinted, as he died in 1885! The detective work continues!

Works Cited
Carroll, Raymonde (1990). Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience. Carol Volk, transl. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Geisler, Michael E. (2005). “Germany’s National Symbols and Public Memory after 1989.” In Geisler, Michael E. ed. National Symbols, Fractured Identities: Contesting the National Narrative. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, Middlebury College Press, 63-100.
Ramage, David Lewis (accessed August 18, 2010). “First Generation.” In Descendants of Adolf and Luise FUCHS.
Siemann, Wolfram (1995) Vom Staatenbund zum Nationalstaat: Deutschland 1806-1871 (From confederation to nation: Germany from 1806 to 1871.) Munich: C. H. Beck’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung (Oscar Beck).

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My Speech to Students at the Awards Ceremony

On April 23rd I was fortunate enough to give my last speech in my official capacity as German professor and founding director of UT Arlington’s new Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Here’s what I said to students in Modern Languages, who were receiving awards for achievement in the various language programs.

Today is a day of celebration. You are being celebrated for the excellence of your performance in your language classes. Many of you have made this day possible, through persistence and hard work, through external or internal motivation, and through your love of languages, and we commend you for it.

You and I are in different stages of life: many of you are at the beginning of your adult life, on the brink of whatever career path or paths you will take. I am at the end of my career path – at least in its present form. – I’m graduating after 40 years in college! But we have one thing in common – the enjoyment we derive from languages and their study.

I want to take the next few minutes to tell you four things, that I hope you’ll consider as you continue on your language-learning journey.

One: you have to be persistent, which also means, you have to be bad before you are good. They go hand in hand. You have shown that with languages. You have persisted through the difficult parts, and you know that in learning a language, it’s like a baby learning to walk. That baby has to be bad at walking – falling down, getting up again – before he or she is any good at it, but we don’t call it being bad. We call it learning to walk. The same goes for learning languages. We don’t call it being bad when you make mistakes. We call it learning a language or speaking your inter-language, and most of us, no matter how proficient we are in a language into which we were not born, have some sort of inter-language characteristics.

I’ll tell you a story about being bad before you can be good. My sister became a ventriloquist-singer-comedian and worked for about 20 years as an entertainer on cruise ships. But she started off at Vaudeville Pizza in Houston, Texas. She had a blast at Vaudeville Pizza, but looking back, she says, “I was soooo bad.” But she had to start someplace, she kept doing it, she learned, and she sailed the world. And ever since that time, whenever we think of Vaudeville Pizza, we say, “You’ve got to be bad before you are good.”

Another story I want to tell you is about persistence. Years ago I was in the shoe business. I started out by selling shoes, and I was not good! I’m not a born salesperson by any means, but I stuck with it while the manager shook his head in dismay, I persisted, and I eventually became a top salesperson, was promoted to assistant manager, then acting manager – and then they offered me a store – twice, but I turned them down both times, because I wanted something different. … which leads to a second story.

So then I went back to graduate school, and when I began again I was – again – bad! I’d been away from things German for seven years – it had been a long time since I had been in school, and I didn’t know how to write the academic journal article at all. But again, as professors shook their heads, I persisted, I found good mentoring, I learned, I successfully wrote a conference paper, a journal article, and a textbook, ended up with a tenure-track position as a German professor, and found my dream career – here at UTA – at the age of 38. You have to persist, because you have to be bad before you are good! Does the baby give up when he or she falls? No.

Two: find your mentors. Your parents were your first mentors, and after that maybe others in your family. And then maybe along came a teacher or two, or a professor or two, who helped you along to the next step. Keep finding those mentors, at the university, in your work, and in your personal life — those who will help show you the way. They are also key to your success.

Three: be happy. What makes you happy? Researchers in psychology today have gathered information on people who are happy, defined what that means, and actually quantified their data. Guess how much of your happiness comes from money, image, and status. 80%? 50%? No! A mere 10%. What researchers have found is that you do need a certain amount of food, clothing, and shelter to be happy, so the person who tries to live on 5,000 a year will certainly be unhappier than the person who lives on 50,000. But what is astonishing are 2 points: a: someone making 50 K is about as happy as someone making 50 million! And b: those making a lot of money tend to be unhappier, because they tend to focus on money, status, and image. I guess they never have enough! So what about the other 90% that makes us happy? Well, 50% comes from our genetic make-up, they say. So it is the 40% that is crucial: it is called intentional activity, and it is what you make of your life.

There are several kinds of activities that make people the happiest, and they probably come as no surprise to you: 1) being involved in personal growth – that’s what you are doing here at UTA, for example, 2) community – friends, family, a sense of belonging, 3) helping others, and 4) being in flow with what you are doing. Let me talk a little about flow.

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a researcher in psychology, flow is a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. You are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. Time stops, and your troubles melt away. Flow, rather than money, status, and image, is what makes our days good. I have noticed that when I concentrate on money, or compare myself to others in any way because they have a better image or greater status, I feel upset – unhappy, even inadequate. But when I am in flow, following that which is my passion, I feel good, and work doesn’t even feel like work.

That leads to #4, which is this: find and follow your passions – you probably have more than one – and those things for which you have intrinsic – internal – motivation … and basically what I want to say today is this: if one of your passions is languages or anything about them, if you derive pleasure from any aspect of language study, never let that passion go. Maybe you just love learning languages. Maybe you want to travel and see the world – or understand your own backyard better. Maybe you love playing with words and meanings, or writing poems or short stories or novels or something else – Whether you love studying cultures or literature or linguistics, whatever it is about languages that gives you pleasure and enjoyment, continue on with that. Nurture that passion, you will continue to thrive as you are now, you will be in flow, and you will be happy.

As for careers, the globalized world needs bicultural and bilingual individuals in such fields as the burgeoning localization and translation industry, in interpretation, teaching, publishing, and other areas. International business and non-profits need people who understand intercultural communication and that my meaning may not be yours. They need people who understand similarities and differences across cultures and sub-cultures here at home, who know that the meaning of practically every word that comes out of our mouths is steeped in our own experience and the culture or cultures from which we come.

So be you. Even be different. Have your priorities straight, and the rest of your life will follow that trajectory.

I wish you all the best wherever you and life take you.

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BS Detector (Critical Reader) and Pedagogical Expert: The Professor/Teacher of the Future?

I’ve just read “Distributed TPACK: Going Beyond Knowledge in the Head” by Di Blas, Paolini, Sawaya, and Mishra, a paper that is being presented at SITE 2014 in Florida. It has caused me to think thoughts I would not have thought before. (I think that’s what’s called distributed cognition – or viral sentences that you can catch.)

So… distributed cognition means that all knowledge does not reside in the head of the individual. To teach a course, one has ever more access to lots of content, to technicians, librarians, and experts in pedagogy to help one create one’s course: “Distributed cognition challenges the idea that cognition is centralized within an individual’s head.  When performing a certain task, an individual is part of a performance system alongside other individuals, artifacts, tools, and so on.”

Now, these people are saying (along with others) that TPACK is the critical knowledge mass today, too: Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge need to be possessed by the instructor, and they get it through “distributed TPACK.” In other words, different people have different areas of expertise to help get the ship (course) up and sailing. All the knowledge to run a course is no longer in the head of the teacher/professor alone.

OK, so far. I guess it’s really always been that way, if in a smaller way. My grandmother had her almanac in the drawer next to her rocker for quick reference – a kind of technology as well as human beings (the authors) outside of herself that helped her frame her thoughts and arguments. Today, however, it has sped up and differentiated itself, this distributed cognition, this distributed way of knowing, and finds itself in other human beings in your organization or on the internet or across the world — and books are not the only way of getting needed research and information. Indeed, visuals, videos, social media, collaboration, and all sorts of methods, tools, means, and materials exist now to inform or confuse. (Back to the “confuse” in a moment.)

 But what really startled me was their summary of their research, which contends that teachers in their study possessed neither Technological Knowledge NOR Content Knowledge – but Pedagogical Knowledge alone made them successful, because they learned along with their students.

So is BS detection (critical “reading” – whether it be reading, watching, viewing, seeing, or hearing) going to be more important than Content Knowledge? And where will the Content Knowledge come from?

Will the teacher or professor of the future be an expert in harnassing the vast power and wealth of resources that the web offers, sift through them at the expert level (the BS-detection level), — and help students learn how to do so — and use that wealth of resources on the web – both human and social media and traditional media including print media – to the goals of a course: for the development of understanding, and the application of various levels of thinking: synthesis, argument, analysis, creativity, connection, comparison/contrast, etc.? (Whew, what a long sentence! It must be my German language background.)

How much Content Knowledge will be enough? Within that expertise will the teacher hold a higher degree of expertise in appropriate pedagogy? Will content and technology serve pedagogy, and no longer the other way around? Again, how much Content Knowledge is enough for the expert to have?

Is this scary to educators? YES. What will content expertise mean? What knowledge will have to be inside of the person/expert/scholar/teacher/professor, and what knowledge will be accessible “in” the heads of others and “in” the head of the web?

This completely flies in the face of what I call the traditional professorial mythology: “Content Knowledge makes one a great teacher.” In response to all of the above, some would say: “Them’s fightin’ words.”

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Facilitating Synchronous Learning (Online) – a short report

Here’s a short report on what I learned in my synchronous learning online course.

The instructor needs:

To be able to use his/her voice well.

To be a good multi-tasker.

To have help!! Ideally a producer to do some of the writing on the whiteboard, check chat, communicate some way outside the session during the session; if not a producer, then a student to act as one.

To have help!! Back-up IT people (don’t call them at midnight, though!)

To master the content and technology that will be in the session.

To anticipate tech mishaps and have solutions ready (as ready as one can).

To anticipate “student mishaps,” i.e. talkers, blamers, someone’s phone is on hold and music is blaring (mute them), etc.

Creating a facilitator guide – a kind of fairly detailed lesson plan – is helpful – slide on the left side, facilitator activity and what s/he says in the middle, producer on the right.

Some of the best practices: ask the students to do something every 5 minutes – raise their hands (or you call on them), green check for yes/good, etc., chat, write on the whiteboard.

When you have a list of points on the slide, do not read them. Instead, ask students to move their pointers to the one which has the most salience for them, the point that hits home the most, the most important point, etc. Then ask one from each point to explain, and provide feedback that is real, i.e. a real conversation, not teacher talk (not “that’s good,” for example).

Ideal number of students is 10, although my class was 18, and it was fine. (Some didn’t seem to show as often.) My colleague had 60 in a session recently. She’s in a team-based learning special interest group, and we discussed how she could have 12 groups of 6 in breakout rooms, to discuss a question, elect a representative, then that representative could write on the whiteboard with the other 11 representatives back in the full session. By the way, she has an nice video on how to be a student in Blackboard Collaborate. Here’s what Peggy Semingson tells her students:

This brief video shares how to interact in the Blackboard Collaborate webinar sessions and how to prepare for the small-group breakout sessions. Please watch this video! It is less than five minutes in length!

Be guide on the side, instead of sage on the stage – or like I learned today: sage on the side!

If you teach synchronous sessions, you need time after the session to chill and do nothing – it’s exhausting, from what I can see.

Oh – you have to teach students how to learn online – they can no longer be “passive recipients of knowledge,” as in a traditional lecture class. They have to prepare the asynchronous work in order to be able to do the synchronous work, because a synchronous session needs to be interactive to keep people involved.

If you have $1600 lying around, take the ASTD Facilitating Synchronous Learning (Online) Certificate. I thought it was excellent.

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