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Tuesday, February 20th, 2018
9:30 pm - A dozen for her birthday
As I continue to share pix of Deanne for her birthday (March 1), I have several of her with our various pets. This one is of a very special occasion.

After Fuji died, our cat of almost 21 years, we were very sad. We decided not to get another cat for a while. I had gone out to Wilderstead with our dog Sassafras and come back one day. After Deanne got home, we decided to go back out there on a whim, the two of us. And while we were there, we heard meowing coming from underneath the cabin! Deanne crawled under the cabin, and there was a tiny, half-starved kitten, covered in ticks. He appeared to be either lost or abandoned, the progeny of one of the farm cats of the neighborhood.

We were only out there on a whim. The kitten meowed when he could have been still. We took him home and named him Cuthbert. We decided that God knew we needed a kitty and had arranged it just so. He and Sassy made quite a pair.


Cuthbert, 2005-2009

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Monday, February 19th, 2018
10:02 pm - A dozen for her birthday
Another picture of Deanne as we count down to her birthday. This one is from c. 2006, in our last year at Tanner Valley. It shows her at her best: fully caffeinated. I don't remember her as particularly interested in coffee when we first met; of course, I despised coffee when we first met. But over the years, tastes change. Mine certainly did. As for Deanne, she certainly has a strong interest in coffee now -- or should I say, an interest in strong coffee.

Coffee hound

Coffee Hound
I believe in the resurrection of the dead

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9:58 am - A dozen for her birthday
The second of our dozen portraits of Deanne: This one comes from Spring, 2006. The church youth group wanted to go canoeing. Deanne, committed to a life of adventure as she was, came along as an additional adult so that the kids could have their outing.

"Offer your body as a living sacrifice," Paul said. Deanne has put hers on the line in many kinds of ministry. Along the way, lots of boys and girls have drawn strength from her example and her wise counsel.

Does this make me look fat?

Does this make me look fat?
Deanne tries on life jacket before hitting the river

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Sunday, February 18th, 2018
9:04 pm - A dozen for her birthday
My darling wife turns 64 on March 1. That's just twelve days away. So, I thought I would post a dozen pictures of her, one each day. Sort of a bouquet. Just to show her in all her manifold beauty.

Today's picture is from a backpacking trip in 2003 at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Halfway down the trail, you come to an old moonshiners' village called Hensley Settlement, strategically placed on the border between Kentucky and Virginia. We count this trip as one of our high adventure treks, though actually it was just a shakedown that year for our trip to Yellowstone, where we backpacked across the central caldera. Deanne did all this mountain backpacking just a year and a half after a total hip replacement.

When we got married, Deanne knew absolutely nothing about camping, and refused to learn. When our teen-aged daughter wanted to go to Philmont, though, Deanne got in shape and learned the skills. I don't know anyone I trust more as a co-leader in the backcountry. She's even hinting that she wants to do a little more 'packing.

Deanne at Hensley Settlement

Deanne at Hensley Settlement
Cumberland Gap N.H.P., 2003

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7:14 am - Mountaintop experience
Today's memory is of a backpacking trip I organized for Troop 119 in the summer of 2007. We did the 22-mile backpacking trail at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Most of the trail is on the ridgeline between Kentucky and Virginia, but getting up on the ridge is one tough day's hiking. The next morning finds you at White Rocks, looking out over the valley. Worth the schlep.

On top of the world

On top of the world
Mitch at White Rocks

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Saturday, February 17th, 2018
6:03 pm - Leftover magic
Ða wif has been on me to make more soup, a comestible she likes a lot more than I do. Still, "happy wife, happy life" and all that. We had a little leftover pulled pork and some homemade chicken stock. I bought some veggies and used up some old ones.

First, I heated some olive oil and put some green onions and celery on to sweat. Added an orange bell pepper, sliced. A yellow squash, chunked. Baby bella mushrooms, sliced. Some cabbage, chopped. Chicken stock and some water. The pulled pork. Salt and pepper. Brought it up to temp and let it go for a while, then tasted it. Added some sage, onion powder, parsley, and lemon juice. Brought it back up to temp et voila.

Not bad.

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Thursday, February 15th, 2018
8:01 pm - Unwelcome Truths
In the wake of the latest school shooting, the usual people are shouting the same things they always do. Of course, the things they shout that we need to do ("commonsense gun control," they call it) would be ineffective -- since they never seem to address the actual circumstances of each outrage -- and would be equally impossible to enact -- given American attitudes toward guns and the existence of the 2nd Amendment. But that doesn't stop them from shouting the same ol' same ol', One! More! Time!


I remember the Columbine Shooting. My daughter was in high school then. I remember the panicked responses of school administrators. Ban dusters! Zero tolerance! Rowrbazzle! Things died down for a while, and then they started up again. And still, nobody knows what to do. That includes law enforcement. After the fact, we keep identifying these oddballs who do this kind of crime, and it turns out they typically give off signals way in advance. Many of them are brought to the attention of law enforcement beforehand, but nobody connects the dots. Meanwhile, I have had two observations about school shootings ever since Columbine.

First, schools are so large that they cannot be supervised properly. Oddballs and weirdos are found in all population groups, including the young. Let's say that 3 out of 100 students are either consistent discipline problems or worrisome because their behavior doesn't track, somehow. Well, if you only have a hundred students, then keeping track of your three problem students isn't difficult. But if you have a thousand students, then you now have thirty problem students. Not only that, but you have a screen of a hundred or so admirers, buddies, hangers-on, kids who don't want to get themselves or anyone else in trouble, etc. The real problem youth are now invisible behind this -- subculture. [BTW, Stoneman Douglas High School had 3,000 students in one campus.]

Likewise, if you have 100 students, then every teacher knows every student by name. Wherever you go, someone in a position of authority can observe you and ask what you're up to. Supervision is constant. But if you have 1,000 students, then your 30 problems and 100 hangers-on mean no teacher knows every student. And many teachers will be afraid to confront a knot of students they don't know. The upshot is that no matter how efficient and tough your administrators are, you are not in control of the school. The responsible adults have no idea what is going on. And so, when things get hatched that you will come to regret, you will be caught flat-footed. Again.

The solution is ridiculously simple. Reduce the size of the population on campus, and you make social control easier for everybody. It doesn't eliminate all problems, but it enhances adult control.

The other thing you have to consider is why disaffected students choose to shoot up schools, rather than, say, malls or fairgrounds. And the answer is, we have made school more real to them than those other places. In their messed-up personal psychodrama, the school is the only appropriate stage to act out their revenge on the world.

Now, I don't mean to imply that cramming more rats into the cage than it should properly hold is making them crazy, though I could. I've been in schools where the clanging of bells and other stressors made me want to scream and I couldn't wait to get out of them. Imagine being stuck in that environment for six or eight hours a day. Imagine being stuck in that environment with bullies and teasers and the various humiliations of not fitting in. There's a reason we say that "Junior High is the deepest pit in hell." And the BIG school just intensifies that effect.

But no, that's not the worst problem. The worst problem is that the mega-school has slain all its competitors. Our children are handed over to an omnicompetent state institution that not only regulates the bulk of their day, but out-competes most other youth-appropriate aspects of civil society. Sports, clubs, band, and many other activities demand unfailing allegiance. Parents must slave to help earn money, rehearsals are five days a week several hours a day, and so on. We segregate students by age and then suffocate them with kids just like them, and then we don't let them out. We take every good idea for social programs -- say, clinics -- and put them in the schools, rather than fund something for youth at their family doctors' offices. I have spent my professional life leading church and Scouting programs, and I can tell you, the mega-school is the 800-lb gorilla of society. All must bow down to it. It's not until youth start getting jobs that some of them actually start to have a life that isn't run by the school.

It's not a surprise to me that kids who are struggling, or who are obsessed with something unhealthy, see The School as the only stage worthy of the spectacular and violent act they want to perform on it. We have made school into the biggest thing in their lives, instead of training them for an adult citizenship featuring a pleasingly complex set of relationships throughout the community.

So, if schools did less -- like, maybe, if they just tried to educate kids -- we could address their needs for sports and play and community service and music in different ways. And then the kids with the crazy in their brains might not see The School as the stage for their psychodramas quite as regularly.

I am convinced that the Great American Public School is a deeply unhealthy institution. Most kids survive it, I suppose, but I don't think it serves us well. And I don't think we have to do it this way. Of course, changing how we do school would mean having to go up against the teachers' unions and the public school lobby. You think the NRA is tough? You ain't seen the pros fight for their little fiefdom.

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6:45 pm - Memoria dulce
And here is Your Faithful Correspondent as a Freshman in High School, getting ready to attend his first Latin Club gathering. You could say I got into it.

A few years ago, Our Happy Crew wanted a Latin motto for their Philmont t-shirts. I promptly generated a few possibilities for them. The first two after the Unit Name I got from other sources, but the rest are original to me:
Grex Audens CXIX
“Venturing Crew 119”

Quidquid Latine dictum sit, altum videtur.
“Whatever is said in Latin seems profound.”

Si hoc legere scis, nimium eruditionis habes.
“If you can read this, you have way too much education.”

Ad Albuquerquensam sinistrorsum ire sciebam.
“I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque.”

Ubicumque antea nemo exii, audacter exire
“To boldly go where no man has one before”

Ego opto ad Philippimontum redire.
“I want to to go back to Philmont.”

perhaps better chanted as,
Ego! Opto redire! Ad Philippimontum!
“I! Wanna go back! To Philmont!”

Amator latius femina omnigena optatus.
“All women want a Latin lover.”

Ave, Caesar

Ave, Caesar

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Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
10:41 pm - Memory
Looking through old pix, I found this among my family photos. This is me, c. 1967 or '68, with my longtime kitty companion, Maynard. Pets are important, and some are very special, indeed.


and Yours Truly, age 14 or so

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Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
11:14 pm - From me to you
Going through my saved pix on LJ, I came across this one by Ursula V. She and MCA Hogarth used to do pictures of honey badgers. This is a honey badger's take on Valentine's Day.


Morally ambiguous honey badger

Valentine's Day this year is also Ash Wednesday. All I can add is, "Marry in haste, repent at leisure."

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7:06 pm - The Structure of Ordained Ministry According to the Practice of the Followers of John Wesley
Part Three

Did Jesus choose only men? Did the Church?

Though not fundamental to the theory of AS, the idea that only men can be bishops (and priests and deacons) typically accompanies it. The theory is, Jesus showed that only men are qualified for those offices, for Jesus (and later, the apostles) chose only men to fill those offices. And a great deal of later theologizing about the image of Christ in the church and how the whole church is feminine in relation to God in Christ, etc., has followed. But what was the place of women in the NT church, and what ministries do we see them performing?Collapse )

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5:27 pm - The Structure of Ordained Ministry According to the Practice of the Followers of John Wesley
Part Two

So, what’s a bishop?

Apostolic succession (AS) is a theory about the continuity of the Christian Church from the apostles to later generations. It has several different aspects, and those churches who emphasize it each approach it rather differently; however, AS usually centers on the office of Bishop. In AS theory, the apostles were the first bishops, and later bishops were their successors. The successor-bishops were at first chosen by the apostles themselves, and then later by those themselves chosen by the apostles, and so on. Authority to act as a bishop thus comes from a legitimate chain of transmission.Collapse )

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Sunday, February 11th, 2018
10:15 pm - The Structure of Ordained Ministry According to the Practice of the Followers of John Wesley
Part One

I partook recently in a voluminous exchange in a Facebook group I follow on the topic of Women's Ordination (WO). This is not a topic I've engaged with much. As a United Methodist, I take it for granted that women are fit candidates for ordained ministry. It's a settled question for us. But among other groups that I find myself relating to, it is a settled question, all right, but settled the other way. Collapse )

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7:13 pm - The moment of discovery
Looking through old pics in my LJ Scrapbook, I came across this one. This is Explorer Post 697 on our first Philmont trek in June 1997. After a long schlep up the trail from Baldy Town, we reached the Alpine Meadow, a lawn of turf about 500' below the summit of Baldy Mountain. The crew simply walked forward into the meadow, in awe of the clear view of the mountains on three sides.

The girl with the very long hair, almost rivaling Cousin Itt, whose back you see in the middle right, is my daughter Anna. She was our crew leader on that first trek, age 18.

Alpine Meadow, Baldy Mountain

Alpine Meadow, Baldy Mountain
Explorer post 697

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

-- John Keats

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Friday, February 9th, 2018
4:48 pm - Oh, them Lions, they can eat my body
but they can't swallow my soul.

Another great pic and memory from the past. Our second Scouting mission trip to Tanzania in 2006 was the occasion for this closeup of a small pride of lions. That trip was the last hurrah for Crew 699; Amber was already 21 and Nikki had graduated from high school, and I had been reassigned to a different congregation. (As happens sometimes, everybody ages out at the same time.) Deanne went along -- her first overseas trip -- just to keep the promise to the Venturers. Ten days after our return, I left Tanner Valley UMC and started as the pastor at Ellettsville First UMC.

Yeah, we were that close to those lions. In the wild. No fences, just a Land Rover and an experienced Park guide.

Lions, Mikumi NP

Mikumi National Park, Tanzania

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8:48 am - Peak experience
Here I am at the summit of Wheeler Peak, NM. My round trip from the trailhead to the summit and back must surely count as the roughest single day of hiking I have ever done in my life. The altitude really got me. I was washed out for months afterward.

A couple years later, when one doctor informed me that an old heart attack showed up on my EKG, I immediately thought of that day on Wheeler. The cardiologist I consulted did scads of tests and told me that no, I had not had a heart attack. I told him about my day on Wheeler Peak and asked him what that experience might have been, then. He said I probably ran my body out of calcium.

This is why you're supposed to spend some time acclimating to the higher elevations before putting your body to such a test. I flew out to Colorado Springs, and two days later I was hiking up to Bull of the Woods Meadow. Not smart.

Me at the top

Me on top of the world
Wheeler Peak, NM 13,167'

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Thursday, February 8th, 2018
12:48 am - Not all natural wonders are remote
The anniversary passed last week, but I shouldn't let things get too far down the pike without pausing to post this memory: This month is the 15th anniversary of our buying our land in Ohio County -- my beloved Wilderstead.

The cabin went up in the fall of 2004. Lots of changes have happened to it since it was first built. And the Pishon changes every year, too, as the water re-shapes its bed, moves rocks and trees, and relocates its falls. Heraclitus was right when he said, "No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." And yet, I experience a timelessness out in the holler, too. The woods and the stars make me feel like the boy I was; even as time rushes away with me, I feel that I am in possession of all that I ever was and knew.

Every boy needs a place where he can dream: a place to play; eventually, a place to pray. I do more praying than playing out at Wilderstead, but as the grandcubs grow up, I look forward to giving them the run of the place.


Chilly waters
I don't remember what year I took this pic, but I never get tired of taking pictures of this scene.

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Tuesday, February 6th, 2018
10:21 pm - Really out there
In 2003, Deanne and I led our Venturers backpacking in Yellowstone NP. It was Deanne's first big trip since getting a new artificial hip. In addition to our days in the backcountry, we had quite a road trip out and back, seeing all the cool things. On our way back, we camped in Wind River Canyon SP. The Moon was enormous as it rose over the barren rim of the canyon.

Moonrise over Wind River Canyon, WY 2003

Moonrise over Wind River Canyon, WY

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Monday, February 5th, 2018
11:58 pm - More memories
Here's a pic from our first big Conference-sponsored Scouting mission trip. I took a team of sixteen youth and adults to Tanzania to lead a Scouting Ministry leadership seminar in Kigoma, on the banks of Lake Tanganyika. Afterwards, we did a little touring. We stayed at a camp run by the Tanzanian Ministry of Education in Mikumi National Park for a couple of days and did a little safari. I took this picture right outside our dormitory.

Twilight at Mikumi NP, Tanzania 2001

Twilight at Mikumi National Park, Tanzania
Trip of the Millennium, 2001

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11:21 pm - The Book of Ezekiel: an outline
The first task when faced with a new and challenging text is to survey its contents. Toward that end, the best approach is to outline it. This I have done, paragraph by paragraph. After that, however, comes figuring out the minor sections -- the episodes or visions or messages. And then these episodes need to be grouped into major sections, which show the overall plan of the work. The following outline shows the major and minor sections of the Book of Ezekiel (but not the individual paragraphs, whose number would cause us to get lost in endless detail).

First section: Ezekiel begins his ministry
Ezekiel, one of those taken hostage to Babylonia when Jerusalem surrendered to Nebuchadrezzar, is called five years later to prophecy about the judgment of Israel
1:1-28 The Lord appears in glory
2:1-3:21 Ezekiel’s call
3:22-5:17 Ezekiel to act out the destruction of Jerusalem
6:1-7:27 The Lord pronounces inescapable doom upon Israel

Second section: A series of visions over the next year
The leaders of the people back in Judah remain both corrupt and convinced that they can connive their way out of their difficulties
8 Ezekiel sees the hidden evil of the leaders of Israel
9 The Lord summons executioners to carry out judgment – and a scribe
10 The vision of glory
11 The Spirit brings Ezekiel to the elders, who do not repent

Third section: The Judgment of Israel
The Lord reveals that Israel shall go into exile, and the nation as it now is shall not survive
12:1-20 Ezekiel to act out what it means to be an exile
12:21-28 The time is now!
13 Prophecy against the prophets
14:1-11 Don’t inquire of the Lord with evil in your hearts
14:12-23 A hint that some may survive the exile
15 Jerusalem will be as firewood
16 The abominations of Jerusalem
17 The Riddle of the Eagle
18 The denial of the Proverb about Sour Grapes

Fourth section: Interlude
In which grief for the loss of Israel is shared
19 A lamentation over the princes of Israel

Fifth section: The Lord summons the King of Babylon
Jerusalem will be destroyed like Samaria
20:1-44 The idolatry of Israel
20:45-49 Prophecy against Negeb
21:1-22:16 Babylon will be brought against Israel
22:17-22 Israel is dross to be melted down
22:23-31 No righteous man to be found
23 The Two Harlots
24 Babylon besieges Jerusalem, and Ezekiel mourns his wife

Sixth section: The Fate of Nations
The neighbors of Israel will be conquered, too. In the second half of this section, Ezekiel prophesies the restoration of Israel; his vision seems to include both near elements and far-future, apocalyptic elements
25 Israel’s enemies will not enjoy her downfall
26:1-28:19 The Doom of Tyre
28:20-26 Sidon lamented
29-32 The Doom of Egypt
33:1-20 Ezekiel the watchman
33:21-33 Jerusalem is conquered
34 Prophecy against the shepherds of Israel
35 Prophecy against Mt. Seir
36:1-15 The Lord will bring his people home
36:16-37:6 For the sake of his name, the Lord will make the desolation like Eden
37:7-14 The Valley of Dry Bones
37:15-28 Rejoining Israel and Judah under David for ever
38-39 God summons Gog to destruction

Seventh section: The restored temple and nation
This vision is given some years after the destruction of Jerusalem. The Temple is measured and the life of the restored people is set out. How much of this was intended to be actually carried out and how much is, like the vision of the City of God in Revelation, an encoded message about the ultimate restoration of Israel, is a matter for debate; certainly, when Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilt the Temple – or when the Maccabees refounded the kingdom – no such plan was carried out.
40-42 The Temple is measured
43:1-45:8 The glory of God comes to the temple
45:9-47:12 The ordering of the people’s activity
47:13-48:35 The boundaries of the land

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