The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 4, 2018 — Back to School Edition

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 4, 2018
Back to School Edition

August is the new September, my friends. At least in the part of the world I live in. Because of “year-round school” and “balanced schedules,” the kiddos around us are heading back to school now, in late July and early August. I had to wait for school buses on my way to work this morning. And my grandkids head back next week. Today is the Blue vs. White scrimmage for the high school football team, and next week will find them scrimmaging in their only “pre-season” affair. Then it’s football season. In the middle of August. It is an abomination, I tell you! Baseball is just starting to get really good, and now they want me to sit in 90º heat in the glare of the sun on aluminum bleachers and watch football?

Now the picture above shows how it used to be. That is your eager Chaplain at the tender age of 6, getting ready to head off to elementary school in Galesburg, Illinois. And notice, he’s wearing a Yankees hat! That’s because in those days the only baseball we could watch on TV was “The Game of the Week,” and the Yanks were on almost every Saturday. It was the year after one of the greatest Yankee teams of all time, the 1961 World Series Champions. Roger Maris hit 61 home runs to surpass Babe Ruth’s record, one nobody thought would ever be surpassed. It was the heyday of Mickey Mantle, my hero. Whitey Ford went 25-4 that year. Now, in 1962, the Yanks were on their way to the World Series again, where they would face and defeat the Francisco Giants. The Giants had the incredible Willie Mays and to get to the Series they had to defeat the LA Dodgers in a three-game playoff after the teams were tied at the end of the regular season. (The Cubs went 59-103 that year. They finished ahead of only the pathetic NY Mets.)

But I digress… my point is — IT WAS SEPTEMBER!!! You know, September. After Labor Day. The beginning of the fall. Before football became a year-round obsession in America. Baseball pennant races. Beginning of the harvest. Apple pies. Pristine notebooks, new pencils and erasers, new school duds. It was back when we walked blocks and blocks to get to the school. Mom took your picture on the front stoop, and then, when you were out of sight, she heaved a sigh of relief that the long, long, hot summer was over.

Well, parents are still rejoicing, and kids are still thrilled/terrified/bummed out about going back to school. Here are some pics of what that can look like:

And here are a few before and after shots of that wonderful first day of school…


Isabelle Khoo gives parents suggestions about ten biblical baby names they might consider for the new little one:

  • Genesis
  • Adriel
  • Zemira
  • Shiloh
  • Boaz
  • Penina
  • Solomon
  • Phineas (maybe evokes a bit too much sex and violence?)
  • Miriam
  • Damaris — Hey look, Damaris, you made the list!

Now, if we were in Sunday School, we could have a “sword drill” to see who could find these names in the Bible.


From NPR: As the sun rose over Idaho on Friday, residents of suburban West Boise awoke to find some noisy new neighbors horning in on their yards: goats. A teeming host of hungry, grunting goats.

Local reporter Joe Parris got the scoop, tweeting a photo of the horde on hooves. They were unsupervised — no handlers, no herding dogs, not even a nanny.

“Updates to follow,” he promised.

But first came a half-hour of harrowing quiet from his account, as onlookers wondered whence came all the amazing grazers. What could be happening to those innocent lawns — and what motive drove so many goats to go on the lam?

As the reporter resumed tweeting, posting some truly moving images of the goats making hay, the world grasped at straws.


From the NY Times: Jim Sollisch writes a luminous piece called “The Particular Joy of Being a Grandparent.”


I never thought I could hold a baby for an hour — my head a few inches from hers, hanging on every sigh, waiting intently for the next scrunch of her lips or arch of her barely visible eyebrows — perfectly happy, an idiot entranced by a magic trick. But there I was on my granddaughter Avery’s first day of life, so happy I didn’t recognize myself.

I have raised children. Five of them. I have held my own babies in their first minutes of life; I have felt that shock of recognition — this is a version of me. I have kvelled (a Yiddish word meaning a giddy mixture of pride and joy) at the things my babies did that all babies do. But I have never felt this thing that stopped my brain, that put all plans on hold, that rendered me dumb.

O.K., I’ve had glimpses of this thing. But this was my first uninterrupted hour of it.


It has been hot enough that the highest point in the country of Sweden has now become the second highest point, due to glacial melting. This, from Business News:

Almost at the Kebnekaise Mountain station. Photo by bengtham at Flickr. Creative Commons License (click picture to go to site)

The southern peak of Kebnekaise mountain, in northern Sweden, has shrunk by 14ft in the month of July because of the unusually hot sun melting the ice on top of it, according to figures published by Swedish news site .

It used to be 6892.4 ft, but thanks to the hot weather is now only 6879.2 ft.

The north peak of the mountain is now slightly taller, 6879.3 ft.

The difference will likely become more pronounced as the summer continues and the south peak continues to shrink. The north peak is solid rock, so doesn’t change in the heat.

Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist, a geography professor at the University of Sweden, told Swedish newspaper Norrlandska Socialdemokraten : “The snow is disappearing so that not even the reindeer can find a place to get relief from the sun.

“This is happening very fast. The result of this hot summer will be a record loss in snow and ice in the mountains.”


This composite image of the July 27 lunar eclipse, shot from Australia, reveals the Earth’s shadow in a whole new way. (Credit: Tom Harradine)


There is a nice article at Baptist Press about the role chaplaincy teams are playing in giving emotional and spiritual support to people affected by the fires in Northern California’s Carr Fire.

California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief chaplaincy teams have begun providing spiritual and emotional counseling to survivors of Northern California’s Carr fire, which started on July 23 and rapidly grew over the weekend to consume more than 98,000 acres.

…[Mike Bivins, director of California’s SBDR efforts,] said California SBDR teams will deploy a laundry unit today and have engaged local churches to help with laundry and showers for those in their communities. Southern Baptist volunteers and churches also have been able to provide pet care for survivors whose shelters do not allow pets.

“For us, one of the big things is continuing to partner with the local church to provide assistance and help them,” Bivins said. “In some cases, it’s about providing for the local church and enabling them to minister rather than rolling in and taking control.”

California SBDR is on standby with the American Red Cross to help with feeding if they are needed. They are also prepared to provide ash-out services for homeowners whenever asked. In mid-July, California SBDR teams completed ash-out work on nine mobile homes that burned during the West fire in San Diego county.


74 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 4, 2018 — Back to School Edition

  1. All of which tips my hand quite sufficiently as to what I have to say about the note of response to the kingdom. The response called for all through the parables is faith, not good works; therefore the response called for here at the end is the same. As the oil in the wise virgins’ vessels should not be interpreted as quarts and quarts of ethical integrity, so the kindnesses of the blessed to the least of the King’s brethren should not be taken as drumsful of industrial-strength good deeds. Indeed, the most notable feature of the parable of the Great Judgment is that the good works of the blessed are not presented as such. The King says not that the sheep have com¬piled a splendid moral record, but that they had a relationship with himself: “Amen, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” Or to put it even more precisely, they are praised at his final parousía for what they did in his parousía throughout their lives, namely, for trusting him to have had a relationship with them all along. And what, finally, of the cursed whose response of unfaith —whose refusal to relate to him in the lost and the least—receives the King’s condemnation? Well, I think we must be careful here. I have already issued two warnings against defining too narrowly the precise circumstances that will constitute grounds for such a sentence. I want now to issue a caveat against defining them at all. Jesus came to raise the dead, not to reform the reformable, and certainly not to specify the degree of nonreform that will nullify the sovereign grace of resurrection. He came to proclaim a kingdom that works only in the last, the lost, the least, and the little, not to set up a height-weight chart for the occupants of the heavenly Jerusalem. And while we may think we might do well to supply the ethical-theological requirements he has so carefully omitted—while we may be just itching to define what constitutes rejection of him at the hour of death or relationship with him in the underdogs of the world—we are wrong on both counts. In the first place, we don’t know enough about anybody, not even ourselves, to say anything for sure. But in the second, Jesus shows us in this parable that even those who did relate to him didn’t know what they were doing. “Come, you blessed of my Father,” the King says to those on his right hand, “and inherit the kingdom… for I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.. . .” And the righteous answer and say to him, “Uhh . . . pardon us, Your Highness, but when was that?”

    Do you finally see? Nobody knows anything. The righteous didn’t know they were in relationship with the King when they ministered to the least of his brethren, any more than the cursed knew they were despising the King when they didn’t so minister. Knowledge is not the basis of anybody’s salvation or damnation. Action-in-dumb-trust is. And the reason for that is that salvation comes only by relationship with the Savior—by a relationship that, from his side, is already an accomplished eternal fact, and that therefore needs only to be accepted by faith, not known in any way. “No man,” Luther said (if I may quote him one last time), “can know or feel he is saved; he can only believe it.” At the final parousía, we will not be judged by anything except our response of faith or un-faith to the Savior whose presence was coterminous with our whole existence. And at that day he will simply say whether, from our side (by faith, that is—but with no other conditions specified as to knowledge or any other human achievement), we related to that presence. He will simply do the truth from his side—simply affirm his eternal, gracious relationship with all of creation—and honor what both the sheep and the goats did with that truth from their side.

    It is John 3:16ff. All over again. The Gospel truth is, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have ever¬lasting life.” And that truth as it vindicates us is, “The one who believes in him is not judged: but the one who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” But that truth as we are to respond to it in our lives is not at all a matter of our intellectual scrutiny. From our side, we can only respond to it by “doing the truth” ourselves, that is, by admitting our death and “coming to the light,” that it may be made manifest that our deeds—all of them, good or bad—were done in the God who makes all things new.
    What counts, therefore, is not what we know (most of that can only count against us) but what he knows. And what he-knows is that “God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved by him,” His saving relationship with the world has already been established—and it will stay established forever. The only question at the end is whether we trusted the truth of it and made it a two-sided relationship, or whether we distrusted it and left it a relationship from his side only. And Jesus alone knows the answer to that question. In this last parable of all, he deliberately deprives us of any way of even thinking about it: the only ground the Great Judgment gives us for hope is trust in his presence in the passion of the world. But since no one will ever quite manage to be apart from that passion—since we do not need to stipulate anyone’s participation in it—this parable also deprives us of the luxury of telling the world all the complicated things it has to do to get on the right side of his eschato-logical presence. The only thing we can possibly do is give the world the living witness of our trust in his presence in its pas¬sion. We need only to act as if we really believe he meets us in leastness and death. The rest is his business, not ours.

    And therefore all the theological baggage about repentances that come too late or acts of faith that peak too soon, all the fine slicing about how maybe a suicide who has time to think between the bridge and the river is in better shape than one who blew his brains out—and all the doctrinal jury-rigging designed to give the unbaptized a break or to prove that unbelievers are invincibly ignorant—all of it is idle, mischievous, and dead wrong. We simply don’t know, and we should all have the decency to shut up and just trust him in the passion we can¬not avoid. And we don’t even have to know if we have succeeded in doing that, because Jesus is there anyway and he is on everybody’s side. He is the Love that will not let us go. If anybody can sort it all out, he can; if he can’t, nobody else ever will. Trust him, therefore. And trust him now. There is nothing more to do.

    Robert Capon, Parables of Judgement, chapt. 13


  2. That photo of the “Blood Moon” eclipse is quite striking. Did anyone hear if Pastor John Hagee’s head exploded yet?


  3. Yes, the Lamb is the Shepherd. He’s one of us, not the enemy; whatever it is we have to face, we will face it with him ahead of us.


  4. I’m reminding myself that if Jesus is the Lamb of God, I probably shouldn’t resist the sheep metaphor too strenuously.


  5. I always liked going back to school, but I did play and socialize with my friends over the summer – living in a small town, many of them are in one’s neighborhood. A summer day without fog in the morning and evening, occasionally lasting all day, is very rare in northern California. I spent many days playing outdoors in the fog, and getting sunburned through it – contributed to a bad skin cancer later in my life – no sunscreen when I was young. I was bullied and teased, too, mostly because I was smart and liked to learn more than I liked to goof off. I rarely acted out; instead, I’d immerse myself in books and playing the piano. I was coordinated, but without much upper body strength, so I was the proverbial “got picked last” kid in team sports.

    Aside from classroom instruction, particulars of school when I was elementary age included:
    the windows of the school bus fogging up on rainy days, of which there were many in the winter – thank God Jr High was close enough for me to walk – I hated riding the bus, even for the 20 or so minutes from the bus stop to school;
    the High School algebra/trig teacher coming in every few weeks to do math games with us – loved him, but was completely frustrated by the math puzzles;
    school plays, which actually became more fun as I got older;
    living right on the Pacific coast, clear days always brought westerly afternoon winds that blew at quite a clip, whipping up dust and small debris, forcing us girls to find a sheltered spot around the corner of the building so our legs wouldn’t sting from being hit by tiny pebbles – we had a dress code until I was a Sophomore in High School – pants allowed for girls only on one day at the end of the school year.

    When I was going through school, first day of class was the day after Labor Day, always. For many years, there was no school on the day California was admitted to the Union, 9 September. We’d start school, then be home again after a few days; it was like the last gasp of summer, after which school started in earnest. In college, I knew a girl who was due to be born on Labor Day and was in fact born on Admission Day.



  6. Kids where I live have three more weeks of vacation. School starts August 27. But folks are getting ready; this weekend is the Virginia back-to-school sales tax holiday. Maryland will have a back-to-school sales tax holiday the week after next.


  7. We’ve been inundated with rain in the mid-Atlantic over the last several weeks. I wish we could send some of it to California and Sweden.


  8. Hi CM! I grew up not too far from you in Bloomington-Normal! (I graduated from Normal Community High School – yes, I’ve heard all the jokes.) My parents still live there and school is starting earlier than normal (see what I did there?!) this year.

    I’m in Oregon now and school has always started the first Tuesday after Labor Day….Until this year. School now starts the last week of August. My high school senior son is NOT happy at all about this change especially since the last day of school is around the same time as it typically has been in the past.


  9. I distinctly remember my first day of kindergarten. Holding Mom’s hand I walked into this totally foreign environment (not a house or a church….what the?) filled with utter fear an trepidation. Happily the first encounter was in the hall where someone was handing out half pint containers of milk. Ok, this is good. Thanks for the milk. Let’s go Mom. I really thought that I was going home. Thanks so much, take care now. Then the horrible realization that Mom was prying her hand out of mine and leaving me with the Aliens. The torrent of tears was to no avail. I was her third so there was no hope. I think I was ok after about 2 hours. Nobody had killed me and there were other little people who seemed ok with it.


  10. Oh, I wish my friend were still alive. We met when I moved into the neighborhood, at the age of 10, and were best friends for nearly sixty years before she died. I miss her very much.


  11. And what kind of government would that be? Burdensome government regulations which are made for major industries like Tyson, but then get applied to some guy wanting to raise, dress, and sell a few hundred chickens from his own farm, are some of the biggest problems small farmers have. Government handouts are also often detrimental to small farmers, as they are often based on the size of your farm, so if you if you are a millionaire with 10,000 acres, you get more welfare (that’s what it really is) than a guy struggling with 200 acres.


  12. I would guess, and it’s only a guess, that the docility of the sheep as they are led, ultimately to shearing and slaughter, is what recommends them as symbols of proper obedience to God’s command — the very thing that has always made me uncomfortable with the metaphor of sheep and shepherd.


  13. Oh man, although it’s stopped raining, and sun is in the forecast for this afternoon and the next few days, flooding has washed out the bridge around the corner from our apartment, and the flash flooding from the creek has risen on this side to just behind the wall of trees across the street from our building. I hope it doesn’t crest much higher, I hope we don’t have to evacuate.


  14. I didn’t survive, j.b., I died and was raised from the dead on multiple occasions. I thank God that, as a child, I never became a bully — I was physically much bigger than other kids, and filled with repressed rage, and easily could’ve become threatening and abusive, but I didn’t, partly because I was terrified of hurting someone, and being punished by more than just my parents. I thank God that as an adolescent and teenager, I never got into trouble with the law, in fact never even considered breaking any law — the rage that drives other teenagers to act-out that way was in me, but again I was afraid of getting severely punished by authorities. I thank God that, when I became a young man with a background profile like many serial killers, and much rage and darkness in me, I never embarked down that path, never even entered my mind, not just because I was afraid at this point, but because I became conscious of the leading of God’s grace, only dimly, it’s true, but enough to keep me away from diving into the worst in myself. Each time I avoided the worse road to a darker place, I needed to die and be raised again — and Jesus was there in my dying and rising, I know that now with an irrevocable knowing.


  15. Sam Cooke, a Blast from the Past. What a great talent and great songs. Only 16, Chain Gang, Cupid and a Change is Coming and many more.

    He got killed in a crazy story at a young age. I do not believe he gets the credit he deserves as he influenced the early 60’s music landscape.

    Robert F. sounds like you are a survivor and that is no small feat. I never personally forget where I come from and how I got where I am at. I love recalling the past , the good parts , but I really, really try to live in the “now” and it is hard not to dwell on yesterday and not to worry about tomorrow. Growing up is not easy , even if your home and personal situation is great, but if you have problems it is very tough, no matter what.

    In life I follow the philosophy of Popeye, aka the Sailor Man ” I yam what I yam and that is all I yam”. Of course he had a Lolita like obsession with Olive Oyl, but he overcame it . He overcame his addiction to spinach and used it for good.

    There’s an old country/western song “For the Good Times” where the guy is thankful for the good times he had with his love and he sorta going to move on over the “bad” times he recalls also. I can go with that.


  16. I have heard different interpretations of that – mostly rotating around the idea that sheep are helpless. Nobody would describe a goat as hopeless.

    Not very convincing reason really; I suspect there is a lot of that culture packed into that usage, and most modern preachers are talking out of their butts.


  17. I work in the material handling and logistics industry, I am on the board of a transportation advocacy group, and then attend the related meetings and conference calls. It is interesting, I get to meet and talk to really interesting people.

    I’d recommend finding a local historical society or your regions environmental commission or Metropoliran planning group – they probably have events, speakers, even tours. Really great stuff that flys mostly under the radar.


  18. Since I’m de-lurking today, I’ll seek others’ insight on a question that has bothered me since I was a child with a fondness for goats. Why is it that goats are chosen to represent the reprobate in scripture? They always struck me as a more worthy creature than sheep?


  19. I’m not sure I’ve ever commented, but have been a faithful reader of I. Monk since happening upon Michael Spencer’s Evangelical Collapse piece nearly a decade ago. Just wanted to say, Robert F, that your comments are one of the things that draw me back.


  20. Yeah, I find “the worst are filled with passion,while the best lack all conviction” best describes our situation. It is not an overall lack of virtues.

    Wise people are too often battered into quietude.


  21. Good point. Here among the small farmers of this county it is Trumpland by a 2 to 1 margin of voters (including Mennonites and the Amish who vote), despite the fact that his administration’s policies will devastate small farmers, notwithstanding his pandering to them with a 13 billion tariff relief package.


  22. It is double sided.

    The Santa Anna winds and wildfires may be enhanced by climate change – – – but they are, and have been for all of human history ,a “normal” part of the region. There is a climate change component to the story, and also a story of thoughtless and reckless land-use and architectural choices. We permit flammable roofs for buildings in fire prone areas; it is not difficult to find pictures of post-wild-fire neighborhoods with all burned out buildings and standing green trees, because our buildings GO FIRST, it is too often our buildings which provide the fire the bridges necessary to move forward. Part of the solution to this problem is local, and very achievable; and people have been fired from the National Forest Service for saying so – because that is how Land Use arguments in the United States play out.

    If you tour Michigan cities you will often find the oldest standing structure is the train station; but for a reason you likely won’t notice: the slate tile roof. Train stations in the era of steam locomotives had to deal with the hot flying embers from those locomotives, so they were deliberately designed to be impervious to fire. Those buildings remain, as the other older structures in the city had, over a century or so, one by one, succumbed to fire.

    Details matter. Little details can have enormous impact on big problems. Yet little answers are often met with big resistance: you are gong to tell people how to build their homes? Nope.


  23. Hmmm, I cannot help but point out that it is rural America which most fiercely opposes the kind of government which would help farmer’s and agriculture; perceptions of animosity or indifference may be misplaced.


  24. Had to laugh at the leaping joyful mother in the pictures where her children are standing embarrassed/laughing as they wait for the bus. That is an American classic!

    then I come to the pictures of northern Cali . . . . the remnants look like an apocalyptic scene . . . and mourn the loss of that poor grandmother and the two littles who perished in the fire together

    then the photos of Norway bring up reminder to check on a Swedish friend in northern Sweden, which is also experiencing the dryness, the heat, and an outbreak of forest fires. Last heard from her over a week ago, and nothing since, so . . . . worried, yes.

    Wow. What a post. I had to end by going back and looking at the leaping joyful mother. Needed that muchly.
    Humor gets us through it. Sometimes.

    Good post!


  25. We like you, too, Susan. Glad to know you through Imonk. Jenny sounds wonderful!
    Have a good weekend.


  26. Here in Lancaster County support for small farming is also very strong, in city and countryside alike. But then, if you make one wrong turn in Lancaster City you end up on a winding road through Amish farmland. Things may be different in larger metropolitan areas like NYC, and in the suburbs around them.


  27. The thing I miss most from the first season of life is goats. I feel that pretty much everything would be better if it had more goats involved; they are remarkable creatures.

    I remember at the tail end of a blizzard walking up over the hill in the crippling cold and wind like razor blades and seeing only a lumpy white field. Bang the feed bell and all those lumps explode with goats. They shake off the snow, maybe have a little stretch, and start strolling towards you like it is any given day in June.

    Or the hottest day in August, with a background roar of insects, there they are, laying in the sun, eyes have closed just chewing the cud. Whatever.

    They would be frightened exactly once by the woosh-woosh of the burner of the hot air balloon passing overhead, or the blast of the locomotive’s horn. Then, stop, take note, and completely ignore it forever after – – – which is a skill some humans never achieve.

    Life as a goat seems like a good option – they are the creatures that have come closest to mastery of every problem.


  28. At least in the Midwest support and love for our agricultural neighbors is very strong. Cities even buy farm land in order to lock it away from developers. I don’t see indifference.


  29. I didn’t want to be smart when I was a kid; I don’t think I was a nerd. I felt more like a freak, inside and out, with a severely dysfunctional home life that crippled me emotionally and relationally, and a body that matured way too early in comparison with my classmates (I was shaving in 6th grade, and had grey in my hair in High School). The fact that I was bigger than all the other kids (because of early physical maturation) through about 8th grade saved me from being beaten up, but not from the other forms of social cruelty that kids are adept at, especially ostracism. I was ostracized even by the nerds. I always felt exposed when I was among other kids, so I wanted to avoid them. That was from as early as I can remember my association with other children. When all the complication of hormonal riot occurred later (and that was early for me, again because of physical maturation), things got even worse, of course. When I finally did start associating with a small group of guy friends in High School, they weren’t strictly speaking nerds. They tended to be smart, some were athletic (wrestling, fencing, track and field), and one was even pretty popular, in his own idiosyncratic way; but none of them were real or long lasting friends: I was way too wrecked inside to be capable of that. And when I finally grew up, unlike many nerds (according to the article link you provided), I didn’t find the adult world friendlier to my personality, nor a place where I could or would be successful.
    But, enough of the sob story.


  30. “City folk expect the continuous supply of meat, fresh fruit and vegetables. Where do they think they come from?”

    I expect that if anything, the disconnect is even worse here Stateside. And in some circles, a too-openly expressed concern for small farming and the environment makes you politically suspect…


  31. September baseball. May it never go away. I remember taking my son to a Giants versus Yankee game and having field level seats. The usher let my son sit on top of the dugout with his ball and pen but no giant would sign. The usher suggested he go down some steps to the right and the yankee players would be walking down the tunnel.No yankee player would sign his ball either. Then a man walked up and said he would sign my sons ball. It turned out to be Reggie Jackson. What memories !!!


  32. To borrow and slightly modify a saying from Upton Sinclair, “Its hard to convince someone of something when their use of AC/cars/electricity/year-round fresh produce depends on their NOT being convinced of it.”

    Believe me, I’ve *tried*.


  33. “Most people are mooches, slouches and time-servers. It’s what humans are.” SARAH HOYT


  34. I never looked forward to going back to school in September. Interaction with other kids was almost always painful for me. I was, you might say, socially maladjusted. Life is difficult now, at nearly 60 years old, but I would never go back to my childhood the way it was. And I’m not sure I’ve increased in wisdom enough over the decades to know how I would change things for the better if I could do it all over differently. No, fare forward, I say, to whatever comes after that narrowing (and probably painful) passage that leads beyond death.


  35. It’s a good thing that God has put so much of the universe, almost all of it, beyond our reach. He left us just this little garden, this green and blue planet in orbit around this average solar system on the periphery of an average galaxy, to tend to, and we’ve mucked it up beautifully. Thank you, God, for the limits you’ve placed on us, and at the same time transcended in our Lord Jesus.


  36. We can continue to wrap our selves up in a comfy chair and cuddle the cat closer but it doesn’t change the fragile nature of our planet.
    We can say all the trite comments on theology and weigh up the atonement this way and that, discuss minor differences of theological opinion but… our planet is crying out for our help. This was our direction by God. Look after what I have created.
    We are called to look after our planet but it is so easy to pass it on to someone else and say it is too hard for us.

    Susan’s declaration on Saturday!!


  37. I had year-round school in sixth grade back in the, um…, let’s just say it wasn’t recent. The motivation was overcrowding. I had nine weeks on and three weeks off, plus odds and ends of holidays to make it all come out even. This allowed four tracks of classes to fit in three tracks’ worth of classrooms. I actually quite liked it. Three weeks off was enough to feel like a real vacation, but without the tedium of the later stages of the traditional school summer vacation.


  38. We had 11mm last night, didn’t last through to today.

    My farmer friends are desperate for rain and green paddocks.
    A big government funding is in place but it will take a time to trickle down.
    Meanwhile stock, cattle, sheep and lambs are dying in the paddocks.
    My good friends are broke providing for their ewes and their lambs.

    “O God of Bethel by whose hand thy people still are fed. Who through this weary pilgrimage hath all thy people led.” ??????? What the! I am beginning to doubt the bountiful God.

    Getting desperate in NSW Central West.
    We need more than prayers, we need more affirmative Govt action and the Military to help with distribution of fodder.
    City folk expect the continuous supply of meat, fresh fruit and vegetables. Where do they think they come from?
    Meat prices are skyrocketing. Do the city folk notice the difference? Seems not.

    I sigh with despair but my breaths do not make for climate change.



  39. That Sam Cooke song, “What A Wonderful World,” is one of the best ever. Sunlight captured in song. I’m sure it must make God smile as much or more than any hymn of praise directed at him. The world, the secular, is filled with God’s light and blessing, including the light and blessing of being loved and being able to love.


  40. Here it’s sometimes the sound of the creek in the narrow woods across the street flash flooding. Weal and woe comes from all natural things, huh? It’s a package deal.


  41. Jenny and I are Godparents to each other’s children.
    The bond is close.
    She knows my weaknesses and redirects me with a glance.
    Makes me keep straight, (except when she isn’t looking!)


  42. It is wonderful to have a friendship like that from childhood. I wish I could say I had a friend like that, but I can’t. You may have made many mistakes, but you must’ve done some things right to have such a longstanding friend. Peace to you, Susan.


  43. I love hearing the sound of rain when I’m in bed. Nothing sounds as comforting as rain on the roof. It’s the original “white noise”, and, in Australia, it’s the sound of full dams and green gardens. Water is so precious.


  44. I wish I still had the innocence of childhood.
    I have made so many mistakes.

    I had coffee with my oldest friend this week.
    We met in Kindergarden at the age of 5 and are still the closest of bestest friends. We are now 73yo
    Some things are meant to be. She would stand by me in any event. As would I her.
    We have traveled life’s humps and bumps together. Just so close.
    Some people pass through our life and we enjoy their company for a time and then there are those who like Jenny are engraved on our persons and as such are precious and worthy of special blessings.

    To good friends and those we hold dear,
    May God doubly bless them.


  45. CM, Love your school picture, could be any kid in any place USA of that era. . Your clothes were above average than I remember from my day, spiffy would be the word . You were in your new school year best. Pictures back then were a big deal , film and effort were not squandered and this was a keeper. Pictures recorded life events. They were treasured , at least by your Mom and actually looked at.

    1961 the Roger Maris homerun story was Big news. I vaguely remember that when Maris was at bat the national networks would interrupt their TV shows and show “live” coverage of his at bat. That was high tech and a big deal back then. He took a lot of heat because of the love of MM and of course preserving the Babe Ruth legend hence his * in the record books.

    Nice articles today. School photos are a nice touch and some things do not change.


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