Some things you might not know about Chaplain Mike…

Today is my 63rd birthday. I won’t be celebrating much this weekend, but will be on call, officiating funerals, and trying like heck to get my overgrown lawn, saturated by spring rains, mowed at last. Anyway, I thought this occasion might provide a chance to help everyone here get to know the real me a bit better.

• • •

Some things you might not know about Chaplain Mike…

John Denver songs still make him cry.

He is old enough to have had a Nehru shirt, to have worn dickeys under his shirts, to have had to abide by school dress code rules, to have worn a leisure suit, to have worn a powder blue tux and platform shoes, and to have had a pair of jeans held together by patches from the crotch to the knees.

He inhaled.

He once thought being a faithful Christian meant he had to give up playing baseball.

Genealogical research suggests he might be related to the Martin Luther family.

He wishes his next car would be an electric vehicle, but he’d settle for a plug-in hybrid.

He didn’t like the Beatles much when he was a kid; he preferred the Dave Clark Five.

On HS graduation night, he crashed his girlfriend’s father’s car. Just before he was married, he crashed his fiancee’s father’s car. Once in downtown Chicago, he had a wreck while driving his sister-in-law’s car. A couple of years ago, he was in a crash with his wife’s car. For some reason now, women don’t like to let him drive their cars.

He thinks the book is always preferable to the movie.

He once dressed up in a Michael Bolton wig and sang “When a Man Loves a Woman” at a church Valentine’s Day banquet.

He remembers seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, John F. Kennedy’s funeral, Hullabaloo, weekly episodes of Perry Mason, the Iowa girl’s high school basketball tournament (back when they played by “girls rules”), Dick the Bruiser on late night wrestling, and Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese calling the Saturday Game of the Week.

He still tries to attend a reunion of his 8th grade classmates every year.

He thinks C.S. Lewis’s idea of “Joy” is one of the most insightful concepts ever propounded.

He once preferred Carole King’s rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend” (the greatest singer-songwriter ballad ever written, in his humble opinion) to that of James Taylor. His preference has changed over the years, but he still loves Carole’s version too.

So, for today, why don’t we listen to both of them both singing it? Here they are, with a song of tribute to all my fantastic Internet Monk friends.

33 thoughts on “Some things you might not know about Chaplain Mike…

  1. Happy birthday to my brother!!

    Hoping you enjoyed your day
    Remembered many of the songs and artists
    Though so many more I listened as you played both
    Harmonica and guitar.
    An inspiration to me your sister!!
    Love Laurie


  2. Happy birthday Mike! Your management of this site is very appreciated (and admired!).


  3. Yes… Poems and Prayers and Promises. Brings tears to my eyes every time.

    And I have to say it now
    It’s been a good life all in all
    It’s really fine
    To have a chance to hang around
    And lie there by the fire
    And watch the evening tire
    While all my friends and my old lady
    Sit and pass the pipe around

    And talk of poems and prayers and promises
    And things that we believe in
    How sweet it is to love someone
    How right it is to care
    How long it’s been since yesterday
    And what about tomorrow
    And what about our dreams
    And all the memories we shares

    Happy Birthday CM.


  4. Hey Mike, what do you think of James Taylor as a modern-day Stephen Foster? I’ve always thought Taylor’s version of Oh Susannah was the best I’ve heard (not that anyone else records it though) and that Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More” pairs well with Taylor’s “A Long Way From Anywhere Like Heaven.” I tend to play those together on the piano. I just tried You’ve Got a Friend and I’ll need to work on that one.


  5. I would not have expected a Nehru. But I know that van Gogh is on your list, even though you didn’t mention him.


  6. Happy birthday from a fellow 63 year old. I must confess … I had not one, but two leisure suits and was proud of it at the time. Now, not so much. What were we thinking (or smoking) in the 70’s?


  7. Congratulations and many years, Mike! Thanks again for keeping M. Spencer’s legacy here, and for following the Lord into ministry to the bereaved – so needed. You have touched many lives for the better.

    A moment of great satisfaction in my life was when in college I mastered the guitar chords for the intro to “I am the Eagle”…



  8. “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
    Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry”


  9. Happy birthday, Chaplain Mike! I’ll be 72 this year, and was more of a folk music fan than you seem to have been, but our memories of the past have a lot in common. Some John Denver songs make me cry, too. I hope you have fun on your birthday, and get to celebrate many more with the community you’ve worked to maintain here. Thank you for doing what you do.


  10. Happy Birthday big Mike! Funny I just played Sunshine on My Shoulder for some family. Hadn’t played it in 35 years and it got a few of us a little teary. Just something about the lilt and the beauty of the sentiment contrasted with life’s regular dosage of pain. I’m emailing you an MP3 of a song I finished recently. Happy birthday!


  11. No Baez, no Hendrix? — (best Star Spangled Banner ever played)
    I agree, there’s more work to be done.


  12. Happy Birthday, Chaplain Mike. My oldest shares your birthday year. We just spent a rare weekend together remembering good things. Thanks for Carole King and James Taylor …my husband bought me a stereo and membership to a record club, so we always had music, and they were, and are two of my favorites.


  13. Happy Birthday, Chaplain Mike!

    I’ve loved John Denver’s music since I first heard it.
    This was a favorite:

    ” . . . the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake . . . ”

    Have a wonderful birthday!


  14. “He once thought being a faithful Christian meant he had to give up playing baseball.”

    It is an old dilemma. In early 1873, James White converted to Christianity. He at first thought that this meant he had to give up playing baseball, but that in turn raised the problem that he had already signed a contract to play for Boston the upcoming season. After much pondering, he decided that he could give it a try, playing ball while leading a Christian life. He played professionally until 1890, having acquired the nickname “Deacon.” He lived to 1939, aged 91. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. My understanding is that many of his descendants were astonished to learn that he had been a professional ball player, and a really good one at that.


  15. Chaplin Mike, thanks for the stroll down memory lane that you shared. I am 71 years old which stuns me when I see it written down. The eight years apart mean we share some social and cultural experience. The Dave Clark 5 were a major hit in the UK and here in the USA. They were far bigger in the early sixties than the Stones, who even lagged behind Herman Hermits is initial commercial success. I believe the DC 5 “drum” emphasis as the base of their music is under appreciated.
    In our generation who would have thought John Denver would be killed in a ultra lite aircraft crash, Sweet Baby James would go to France to sing to the French with the Sec. of State?, and so many other crazy unpredictable things that happened in our life time.
    Saw the Beatles land in Miami for Ed Sullivan Show, what a cultural pheon they were. Elvis was on the decline for a while and the British Invasion was something to behold.
    Back in the day, everyone watched the Ed Sullivan Show and an appearance on it was almost mandatory. Americans at this time shared the common experience of Ed Sullivan, Gunsmoke, Bonanza and many shows as the choice was limited. TV at for the first 30 or so years bonded the nation with a shared experience and only 3 news TV sources.
    Life is good and thanks for sharing your birthday event and some memories. My wife and I laugh when we say things like they are only 63 years old.

    BTW Dizzy Dean only lived to be 63. When I was a kid he was an “old, old” man on TV with Pee Wee. How honest and unpolished were they compared to today. still say slud into the base.

    , I have absorbed and appreciated your sharing of your life experience , knowledge and outlook you have shared with us via this site. I believe your life has made a positive impact in the world and that is no small thing , no matter what your age. Enjoy your B day, continue to enjoy your life.

    When you were 25 years old , what age was your definition of “old”?


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