Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Friends - Fishing

Thank-you to Terry Madsen for inviting Kris Pierson and me to go fishing up at Horseshoe Lake a couple days ago. The fishing was a little slow compared to other trips we've made to Horseshoe, but compared to most outings we were still catching a lot of fish. The three of us caught mostly large mouth bass (about 25-30), and in between the bass, we caught a fair number northerns, crappies, and sunnies. It was a good time with good friends.

"Men and fish are alike.  They both get into trouble when they open their mouths."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday Thinking - A Little Friend of Jesus

Krista Tippett's interview with Jean Vanier was really a special episode of the ON BEING broadcast. I would encourage you to listen to it and let it provoke your thinking about life, community, meaning, and personhood.


Here are some excerpts from the transcript to pique your curiosity:
"So, thus, the cry of God saying, 'Do you love me?' and the cry of people who have been wounded, put aside, who have lost trust in themselves, they've been considered as mad and all the rest. And their cry is, 'Do you love me?' And it's these two cries that come together."

- - -

"We are a frightened people. And, of course, the big question is, why are we so frightened of people with disabilities? Like a woman who said to me just recently, asked me where I — what I was doing. And I said that I had the privilege of living with people with disabilities. And she said, 'Oh, but I could never work with people.' And I said, 'Why not?' And she said, 'Well, I am frightened of them.' It touches very — and I believe we're in front of a mystery of the human reality and people who are very deeply disfigured in their face, in their body. And so — and it's the fault of nobody. It's a reality that is there. And maybe we can work things out and discover what gene it is and so on. But the history of humanity is a history of people being born extremely fragile because sickness and death is part of our — of our reality."

- - -

"My experience today is much more the discovery how vulnerable God is. You see, God is so respectful of our freedom. And if as the Epistle of John says that God is love, anyone who has loved in their life knows they've become vulnerable. Where are you and the other person and do you love me back? So if God is love, it means that God is terribly vulnerable. And God doesn't want to enter into a relationship where he's obliging or she is obliging us to do something. The beautiful text in the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelations: 'I stand at the door and I knock. If somebody hears me and opens the door, then I will enter.' What touches me there is God knocking at the door, not kicking the door down, but waiting. Do you, will you open? Do you hear me? Because we're in a world where there's so much going on in our heads and our hearts and anxiety and projects that we don't hear God knocking at the door of our hearts. So I'd say that what touches me the deepest, maybe because I'm becoming myself more vulnerable, is the discovery of the vulnerability of God, who doesn't oblige. The other element, which is probably, again, linked to that, is that the only thing that's, what I see important for myself is just to become a friend of Jesus and nothing else. And the whole I think of the mystery of Christianity is just living with Jesus the way Jesus lived in Nazareth with his, with Mary, his mother, and with Joseph. A relationship."

- - - 

"...what is important is just to become a little friend of Jesus."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday Words - Country Boy

I'm doing a little fishing today with my friends Terry and Kris. The lyrics to this old Johnny Cash song seem right for the occasion. "If every things gonna turn out right, we're gonna fry fish tonight!"

Summer's coming to and end, my friends. Squeeze out every last bit of it you can!

Country boy
Ain't got no shoes
Country boy
Ain't got no blues

Well you work all day while you're wantin' to play
In the sun and the sand, with a face that's tan
At the end of the day, when your work is done
You ain't got nothin' but fun

Country boy
Ain't got no ills
Country boy
You don't owe no bills

You get a wiggly worm and then you watch him squirm
While you put him on a hook and then you drop him in a brook
And if everything's gonna turn out right
You're gonna fry fish tonight

Country boy
You're lucky free
Country boy
I wish I was you and you was me

Country boy
You got work to do
Country boy
In the morning dew

You gotta plant the seed, you gotta cut the weeds
There's many a row you know you gotta hoe
When it's quittin' time, and your work is through
There's a lot of life in you

Country boy
You got a shaggy dog
Country boy
Up a hollow log

Well he comes in a run, when you pick up your gun
And with a shell or two and your dog and you
When you get your rabbit, you'll skin his hide
He's gonna be good fried

Country boy
You got a lot to lose
Country boy
How I wish I was in your shoes


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday Tome - Holy Luck

I can't wait for this book to arrive. This morning, I ordered a copy of Holy Luck after hearing it reviewed on the Books and Culture Podcast. From what I heard on that podcast, Peterson's preface to the book is worth the price of purchase. In the excerpts read on the podcast, Peterson recounts how the biblical Psalms served as his introduction to poetry as a child. He desribes how it shaped his love of words and informed his sense of language and meaning.

Peterson is a writer and thinker that I appreciate a great deal. I have found insight and beauty in all of his books, and consider his books, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and The Contemplative Pastor, to be classics.
From the Publisher:
Throughout his many years in pastoral ministry, Eugene Peterson has found that almost everything he does as a pastor -- preaching, teaching, praying, counseling, writing -- involves words. To keep himself attuned to the power of words and to help him use language accurately and well, Peterson both reads and writes poetry.

Holy Luck presents three inspirational collections of Peterson's poems, most of which have never before been published, in one transcendent volume:

  • Holy Luck (poems based on the Beatitudes)
  • The Rustling Grass (poems about uncovering the Kingdom of God in the ordinary)
  • Smooth Stones (occasional poems about "discovering significance in every detail encountered while following Jesus")

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Music - Letting Go

A number of my friends have kids heading off to college this week. Here's a bittersweet song perfect for the occasion.

Letting Go
She'll take the painting in the hallway
The one she did in Jr. High
And that old lamp up in the attic
She'll need some light to study by

She's had 18 years
To get ready for this day
She should be past the tears
She cries some anyway

Oh, oh, letting go
There's nothing in her way now
Oh, letting go, there's room enough to fly
And even though, she's spent her whole life waiting
It's never easy letting go

Mother sits down at the table
So many things she'd like to do
Spend more time out in the garden
Now she can get those books read too

She's had 18 years
To get ready for this day
She should be past the tears
But she cries some anyway

Oh, oh, letting go
There's nothing in her way now
Oh, letting go,
there's room enough to fly
And even though, she's spent her whole life waiting
It's never easy letting go

© Universal Music Publishing Group

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Supplication - A Community Called Grace

O Lord God, we acknowledge your power and your holiness. You are the author and giver of all good
things. Work in our hearts and teach us to truly love you. Nourish us with goodness. Help us to live out true devotion and to worship you in all we do. Help us, by faith, to do the good things you have in mind for us to do.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ Jesus.  Help us as we extend that same forgiveness to others who have sinned against us. Help us become a community called grace. Help us to have a redemptive and healing impact on the world around us.

We thank you, O God, for life, and hope, and salvation. Lead us away from temptation. Deliver us from evil. Provide for our needs this day. Protect us from discouragement, and encourage us by your Spirit through your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday Smile - Magic Beard

Award winning Pioneer Press photographer, Ben Garvin, has proven that beards and shaving are much more entertaining than you may have imagined. See for yourself.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Family & Friends - Lanesboro

This weekend about twenty families from our church will be camping together in Lanesboro. Cheri and I are looking forward to doing some bike riding today, and we'll be leading some songs around the campfire tonight.

What a wonderful way to spend the day with each other and with friends from Valley!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Thinking - Fixing Song Lyrics

What does a church do when a well-known song or hymn lyric has a verse or phrase it finds theologically unacceptable? One choice would be to avoid the song altogether. Another, and perhaps better choice, would be to fix it.

As a pastor and sometimes worship leader, I freely admit to having no qualms or hesitation about changing (saving or repairing, from my point of view) the text of a song for use at our church. I do it quite regularly. Sometimes I even edit and update the lyrics to songs I have written. If a song can be improved or redeemed, I say do it.

Most of the changes my worship pastor and I make at Valley serve  to update archaic words and sentence structures found in older hymns. Sometimes we're simply ironing out the rhythm or improving the agogic stresses in a lyric. Occasionally, we see the need to change a word or phrase because we see a theological problem in the text. Should this surprise anyone? I don't see why it should. Christian songs are theological songs and as such are bound to express doctrinal perspectives, opinions, and speculations that are troublesome.

One such song is the much-loved "In Christ Alone" by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. It includes the phrase, "the wrath of God was satisfied," which presents a theological problem for many Christians. Is our God a God whose wrath must be satiated in order to forgive? This language expresses an atonement perspective which, though fairly common in Reformed circles, is not one I ascribe to, and certainly not one embraced universally throughout Christian history. It's a phrase that needs to be fixed, so for years I've changed it to "the wrath of God was set aside."

I was surprised and pleased to learn this week that the committee putting together the new hymnal for the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) also identified a problem with that selfsame phrase. The committee asked Townend and Getty if they could change the lyric of "In Christ Alone" to say "the love of God was magnified" instead of "the wrath of God was satisfied." But the writers said, "No." They wouldn't go along with it. I guess they are pretty theologically committed to satisfying God's wrath.

So what happened next? The PCUSA committee decided to not include the song in their new hymnal. I think they made the right choice. Good-bye Hymn 506. I don't worship a God whose wrath must be satisfied, I worship a God whose love is magnified and glorified through the redeeming cross of Christ.

So, while you won't see the proposed edit in the new edition of the PCUSA hymnal, I'm pretty sure you will hear it if you find yourself singing "In Christ Alone" at Valley Christian Church. I can recognize a better lyric when I see it, and a better lyric with better theology is the one I choose to sing.

Presbyterian Church (USA) Drops "In Christ Alone" from Its Hymnal
An extraordinary dispute has arisen over a lyric contained one of the most beloved contemporary Christian hymns of the modern-day Church, "In Christ Alone". According to Bob Smietana of USA Today, the committee putting together a new hymnal for the Presbyterian Church (USA) dropped the popular hymn because the song's authors refused to change a phrase about the wrath of God. 

He said that the original lyrics say that "on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied."
The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song wanted to substitute the words, "the love of God was magnified." The song's authors, Stuart Townend and Northern Ireland born and now a Nashville resident, Keith Getty, objected.

"So the committee voted to drop the song," said Smietana. Read More.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Words - Busy August

VI Mon. August [1742] hath xxxi days.
By Benjamin Franklin

The Busy-Man's Picture
BUSINESS, thou Plague and Pleasure of my Life,
Thou charming Mistress, thou vexatious Wife;
Thou Enemy, thou Friend, to Joy, to Grief,
Thou bring’st me all, and bring’st me no Relief,
Thou bitter, sweet, thou pleasing, teazing Thing,
Thou Bee, that with thy Honey wears a Sting;
Some Respite, prithee do, yet do not give,
I cannot with thee, nor without thee live.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Tome - The Lost World of Genesis One

For the most part, I find debates about creationism, gradualistic evolution, and intelligent design mired in pointless controversy and, therefore, thoroughly unedifying. Most of the debate champions seem to have a bad case of overconfidence, and in many cases the overconfidence is bolstered by misconceptions and mischaracterizations of the creation accounts in the Bible. As a result, these debates are often adventures in missing the point. Worse yet, the defense or attack of bad exegesis is confused with upholding or debunking the idea of God.

Last Tuesday, I attended a morning of lectures by John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and an editor and writer of Old Testament comparative studies and commentaries. The event was sponsored by MacLaurinCSF, a Christian Study Center the University of Minnesota. I was pleased to see the event well-attended. Even more, I was pleased with the content of the lectures.

John Walton's new book, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate,  covers much of the same material he was presenting in his lectures. You'll find the book to be helpful if you are interested in understanding Genesis one and/or wrestle with questions about origins. Dr. Walton puts the biblical creation accounts into the context of its ancient readers and writers. This is a healthy preventive against projecting modern ideas about science or theology into the ancient texts. It also opens up a lot of new perspectives as it reveals many ancient concepts that are largely unknown to 21st-centry readers.

Praise for the book:
"John Walton's expertise in the Ancient Near Eastern sources enables him to shed a flood of new and unexpected light on the deeper meaning of Genesis 1. The Creator, Genesis is saying, designed heaven and earth as a great temple with the intention of coming to live in it himself--and the sabbath isn't just a nice break after the work is done, but the moment when he takes up residence in the world he has just made. The implications of this resonate right through the rest of the Bible. This is not just a book to invite 'creationists' to think differently; it is a book to help all Bible students read the whole of Scripture with fresh eyes." (N. T. Wright, Bishop of Durham)

"This book presents a profoundly important new analysis of the meaning of Genesis. Digging deeply into the original Hebrew language and the culture of the people of Israel in Old Testament times, respected scholar John Walton argues convincingly that Genesis was intended to describe the creation of the functions of the cosmos, not its material nature. In the process, he elevates Scripture to a new level of respectful understanding, and eliminates any conflict between scientific and scriptural descriptions of origins." (Francis S. Collins, head of the Human Genome Project and author of The Language of God)  

"Professor Walton seeks to describe clearly and with ruthless honesty the nature and purpose of the biblical text in Genesis that is juxtaposed to the claims of modern science and scientism in the current debate over origins. His work will be welcomed by all those who seek to render to both the Scriptures and modern science the authority appropriate to each--while at the same time avoiding false or unnecessary stands on either side." (Shirley A. Mullen, president, Houghton College)

"John Walton offers a compelling and persuasive interpretation of Genesis, one that challenges those who take it as an account of material origins. His excellent book is must-reading for all who are interested in the origins debate." (Tremper Longman III, author of How to Read Genesis, and Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College)

"Every theologian, every pastor, every Christian in the natural sciences, indeed, every Christian who loves the Bible must put aside all other reading material this minute and immediately begin to absorb the contents of John Walton's The Lost World of Genesis One. Walton closely examines Genesis 1 in light of ancient Near Eastern literature and offers a compelling case that the creation account is far more concerned with the cosmos being given its functions as God's temple than it is with the manufacture of the material structures of the earth and universe. In the process, he has blown away all the futile attempts to elicit modern science from the first chapter of the Bible." (Davis A. Young, Professor Emeritus of Geology, Calvin College, and coauthor of The Bible, Rocks and Time)

"Walton's cosmic temple inauguration view of Genesis 1 is a landmark study in the interpretation of that controversial chapter. On the basis of ancient Near Eastern literatures, a rigorous study of the Hebrew word bara' ('create'), and a cogent and sustained argument, Walton has gifted the church with a fresh interpretation of Genesis 1. His view that the seven days refers to the inauguration of the cosmos as a functioning temple where God takes up his residence as his headquarters from which he runs the world merits reflection by all who love the God of Abraham." (Bruce Waltke, professor of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Music - What Is Good

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

He has showed you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require?
He has showed you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require?

To act justly (to act justly)
To love mercy (to love mercy)
To walk humbly (to walk humbly)
With your God (with your God)

He has showed you, O man, what is good.

"What Is Good (Micah 6:8)," by Dave Burkum, from Fireside: Worship and Scripture Songs,  
© Copyright 2006 (

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Supplication - True Community

O God, we are so thankful for your mercy and love. We thank you for your son, Jesus, and for the life and salvation he has made possible for us. Help us, as part of your Church, to be a living demonstration of your power to save and transform and renew. Make us a true community of grace.

Forgive us our sins. Help us to turn away from darkness and to love the light. Make us willing and able to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Help us to think, speak, and act in ways that restore lives, nurture relationships, create peace, and bring honor to you.

Thank you for Jesus, who did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself and became a servant. Help us, like him, to reach across barriers, to welcome the weak, to serve, and to look to the interests of others.

It’s in His name that we pray all these things. Amen.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Family - The Rhubarb Show

My sons, Page and Jack, have been covering a lot of miles over the past few weeks with The Cactus Blossoms on their Midwest to Northwest Tour. They'll be returning from Oregon and Washington this week and will be playing at the New London Music Festival on Saturday.

Yesterday, it was announced that Garrison Keillor will be hosting a new variety show at the Fitzgerald Theater this fall – The Rhubarb Show. It will be a non-broadcast show that will follow three of the Saturday night Prairie Home Companion broadcasts this fall.

I was excited to see that The Cactus Blossoms are on the bill for The Rhubarb Show on October 5th . I'm not sure I'll be able to be there, but I hope a lot of their Twin Cities fans will. You can get ticket info HERE.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday Thinking - The Moral Logic of Breaking Bad

The final episodes of Breaking Bad began last Sunday, August 11. David Zahl has a thoughtful article about it in Christianity Today. You can get the basic drift of his article HERE at the Mockingbird blog.
Here is an excerpt:
The show has a specific and frightening moral logic: no one gets away with anything. Bad is repaid with bad, escalation with more escalation. Breaking Bad revolves around the least fashionable concept imaginable: wrath. It offers something quite different from the fatalism of The Wire, where things start off ugly and pretty much stay that way. In Breaking Bad, things get steadily worse in proportion to human pride and self-deception.
Below is a powerful scene from Season 4 in which Jesse Pinkman, while attending a recovery group session, faces the bitter truth of the consequences that accompany the choices and actions he has made.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wednesday Words - 10,000 Places

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
     As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
     Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
     Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
     Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
  Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is—
  Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
  To the Father through the features of men's faces.

"As Kingfishers Catch Fire," by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday Tome - The Man Who Quit Money

While camping on the North Shore last week I got about halfway through The Man Who Quit Money. It was recommended to me about a year ago by a friend. It's a very easy and interesting read. It chronicles the life of Daniel Suelo who decided to live completely off the grid and lives in the caves of the Utah canyonlands.

Suelo earns no money and pays no taxes, but does not beg and will not accept food stamps or welfare. The book, by Mark Sundeen, not only tells the interesting story of an unusual man, but also stirs up many questions about how money and possessions impact our lives, values, and beliefs.

I read the first half of this book while living in a tent and cooking on a campfire. Let me tell you, it's difficult to romanticize life off the grid when you're actually living outdoors. The experience did, however, make the some of the stories a little easier to relate to.

Even so, I wasn't close to being off the grid. The humble bathhouse at the campground and the cash in my wallet made the trip far easier to handle. And judging from the number of people I saw using them, laptops and smartphones are now standard camping equipment.

Book Excerpt:
In the first year of the 21st century, a man standing by a highway in the middle of America pulled from his pocket his life savings – $30 – laid it inside a phone booth, and walked away. He was 39 years old, came from a good family, and had been to college. He was not mentally ill, nor an addict. 

His decision appears to have been an act of free will by a competent adult.
In the 12 years since, as the Dow Jones skyrocketed to its all-time high, Daniel Suelo has not earned, received, or spent a single dollar. In an era when anyone who could sign his name qualified for a mortgage, Suelo did not apply for loans or write IOUs. He didn't even barter. As the public debt soared, he did not pay taxes, or accept any form of government handout.
Instead he set up house in caves in the Utah canyonlands, where he forages mulberries and wild onions, scavenges road-kill raccoons and squirrels, pulls expired groceries from dumpsters, and is often fed by friends and strangers. “My philosophy is to use only what is freely given or discarded & what is already present & already running,” he writes. While the rest of us grapple with tax deductions and mortgages, Suelo no longer holds so much as an ID card.
Yet the man who sleeps under bridges and prospects in trash cans is not a typical hobo. He does not panhandle, and he often works – declining payment for his efforts. While he is driven by spiritual beliefs and longings, he is not associated with any church. And although he lives in a cave, he is not a hermit: He is relentlessly social, remains close with friends and family, and engages in discussions with strangers via the website he maintains from the public library. He has crisscrossed the West by bicycle, hopped freight trains, hitched through nearly every state in the union, hauled nets on a Bering Sea trawler and spear-fished salmon in Alaska streams.
“I know it is possible to live with zero money,” Suelo declares. 


Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Music - Superior Horizon

I just returned from a great camping trip with friends up on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Four of the Five of the most beautiful days of weather I've ever experienced up there. Hiking, fishing up on the Gunflint Trail, and the best campfire meals you could possibly imagine. Thanks to Ray, Chad, and Rob for a very fun and memorable trip.

Superior Horizon
Old 61 I can feel your North Shore callin'
I can feel you callin'
I feel you callin'.
I can smell the pines;
I can hear the Cascade fallin'.
Can’t you hear it fallin'?
The Cascade is fallin’—
Superior Horizon.
The Morning Star is risin'
On Superior Horizon.

Down along Split Rock the big waves are poundin'.
The big waves are poundin'—
They just keep on poundin'.
Back in the Boundaries the magic loon is soundin'.
Can’t you hear it sounding?
The magic loon is soundin'—
Superior Horizon.
The golden sun is shinin'
On Superior Horizon.

Let my eyes rest easy in your northern light;
Let me fill my lungs with misty morning;
Let me find my spirit in the sea bird's flight
Soaring over the horizon—
Superior Horizon.

Give a j-stroke push out across the glassy Gunflint—
Glidin’ on the Gunflint, the glassy Gunflint.
Walk a woodland mile where the Devil Track is runnin’.
Can’t you hear it runnin’?
The Devil Track is runnin’.
Superior Horizon—
The silver moon is smilin’
On Superior Horizon.

Let my eyes rest easy in your northern light;
Let me fill my lungs with misty morning;
Let me find my spirit in the sea bird's flight
Soaring over the horizon—
Superior Horizon.

Words and Music by Dave Burkum. From BREATH A LITTLE DEEPER, © Copyright 1994 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Supplication - His Redeeming Work

Almighty God, you have sent your only Son into the world to save us from sin and death. We thank you for his sinless life, his selfless sacrifice, and his example of godly life.

Give us the wisdom to take hold of all Jesus has so freely given. Thank you for his redeeming work in our lives and in our world. Help us to follow daily in his steps.

Forgive us and help us to turn away from wrong.  Transform us and give us the faith to press toward life, healing, restoration, holiness, and good deeds.  You are so gracious to us, and we ask you to make us able and quick to be gracious and forgiving toward others.

You have shown mercy to us, O God. Give us the attitude of Christ Jesus that we might be a testimony of your grace and instruments of your mercy to everyone around us. 

We pray in the name of Jesus, our merciful Savior. Amen.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Smile - Elevator Music

This is kinda fun to watch, but if someone pulled this on me, I'm not sure I'd play along with them. I'd probably just start playing drums on the wall as a strategy to avoid anything that could inadvertently lead to dancing.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Friday Family and Friends - Traveler's Paradise

I'm up on the North Shore typing away at a picnic table just outside the Schroeder Baking Company and limping along on a weak wifi signal from down the hill at Lamb's Resort. I'm having a splendid time with my friends, Chad, Ray, and Rob. We've been hiking, talking, resting, and having the best camping meals you could ever imagine.

Yesterday, we drove up to Grand Marais and had fun flying four aerobic kites on a ball field overlooking Lake Superior. I'm not sure what all we'll be up today, but I know that Chad and I plan to walk over the the Temperance River State Park and hike around a bit.

Rob Miller on rocks near our campsite at Lamb's (Schroeder, MN)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Thursday Thinking - Motorcycle Ambulances

Why is it that innovations like this take so long to become common practice?
Eli Beer had a great idea! When will this happen in the Twin Cities?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Wednesday Words - Wendell Berry

This week's Wednesday Words celebrates the 79th birthday of one of my favorite writers, Wendell Berry. I'm headed up to the North Shore of Lake Superior for a few days of camping. Here is a perfect poem for my trip.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things," from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Tuesday Tome - In the Kettle, the Shriek

Just added this fine new book of poetry to my library thanks to listening to a review on the Books and Culture Podcast. After hearing John Wilson, editor of Books and Culture Magazine, read some of the poetry and give the book high marks, I was quite sure I should get it. I've really enjoyed what I've read so far.
From the Publisher:
Here is a poet of clarity and connective grace, full of good will and wily stories alike-funny, neighborly, amused, observant, she's a storyteller with an aphorist's flair for precision. And in In the Kettle, the Shriek she gives testimony to our lives together and our struggles alone, turning at the deepest moments to her highest virtues of sanity and acceptance: 'the things that are going to happen, / let me let them.' This is how Hannah Stephenson makes poetic testimony into a manner of lyric, laic testament." – David Baker

First Things First
Do the first things first,
those things embedded with order
and priority. The urgent things,
the things swirling in your solar plexus
and elbowing you in the heart.

First things first, the things
from which other things spring.
The initial movement, the impulse
to move, the discomfort that triggers
a flicker in your nerves.

First things come first.
You wake, you lift your eyelids,
perform subconscious diagnostics.
What do you need today, you ask
yourself, watching the walls.

First things first, you trust
that by starting the day’s processes,
you will go where you need to.
Even the eighth thing you do
can be the first, even the nineteenth thing.

"First Things First" by Hannah Stephenson,
from In the Kettle, the Shriek,  Gold Wake Press (2013).

Monday, August 05, 2013

Monday Music - Tettegouche

I'm spending a few days up on the North Shore this week. "Tettegouche" from Breath a Little Deeper seems appropriate.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Sunday Supplication - Shape Our Hearts

O Lord, we praise you and ask that by your Holy Spirit you would shape our hearts and minds to think and do what is right. Provide for our needs and preserve our lives. Make us able to delight in your will and walk in your ways.

Forgive us our sins. Renew us by your Spirit. Show us how to act, think, and live as Christ.  As you have forgiven us, make us merciful and ready to forgive those who have sinned against us. Give us the courage and the grace we need to restore relationships, heal brokenness, sacrifice our rights, and humbly consider the needs of others.

O God, save and protect us from the things that threaten to consume and destroy us. Help us to look faithfully to you in all circumstances. Thank you for Jesus, our Lord, who for our sake and our salvation came down from heaven. Help us to love you with heart, soul, mind and strength.

Through Christ, we pray, Amen.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Saturday Smile - Wild Men

What crazy traditions, people, and pictures. CLICK HERE for Wild Man Photo Gallery.

With all our European roots, it's hard to believe we haven't managed to have a version of this in Minnesota. Maybe it's time for somebody to get this started here. I can see something like this happening up on the North Shore. CLICK HERE to read more about it.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Friday Family - Portland Pickathon

The Cactus Blossoms are playing at Pickathon 2013 in Portland this weekend. CLICK HERE for times and stage info. Here's a video shot at last year's Pickathon...

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Thursday Thinking - You Probably Think this Psalm Is About You

There is a helpful post from Matthew Block on the the First Thoughts Blog about how and why to read the Psalms. He shares some insights he picked up from Jonathan Kraemer's article, "Praying the Psalms with the Body of Christ," on the Canadian Lutheran Online Magazine. Here is an excerpt I hope will prompt you to read block's post.
...While this or that Psalm may seem to fit how we’re feeling on any given day, there are many more which will not. What good is it then to read “Psalms that have us lamenting when we feel like praising; and praising when we feel like lamenting?”

...the answer comes in remembering that the Psalms are not simply a prayer book for individuals; they are rather the prayers of the entire Church. “As wonderful as it is to have the Psalms that express in words what we feel so deeply,” he writes, “there are also great blessings that come from praying Psalms that do not fit the way we feel, when they seem like someone else’s prayer.” Because in fact, that’s what they are: “the prayers of the body of Christ”—the whole body, and not just me. 

To that end, we are called to pray Psalms that don’t always fit our own situation; in these moments, the prayers are not for us but for other members of Christ’s body.
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