In my ’80s

September 30, 2018

A recent discussion as well as my reading of Mennonite World Review bring to the fore of the compartment in my brain entitled “religion” a pet peeve. Religious groups go to great lengths — that is, they create creeds, doctrinal statements and denominational definitions — to  draw a line delineating said religious group from all others. 

Indeed the religious tradition of my own family — Mennonite — has experience a long history of division and delineation. The Mennonite World Review as well as Mennonite Central Committee try to be inclusive of all Amish and Mennonite groups, but one can’t help but see and feel the separations. Mennonite Church USA has lost nearly half of its membership in the past twenty years, largely to distinctions of doctrines and practices.

No wonder, then, that some people who don’t wish to be exclusive distance themselves from all of religion. And others gravitate to entities such as the Unitarian-Universalist Church whose seven principles are not self- or organization-centered. 

  1. 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

In my ’80s

September 28, 2018

Notes from our trip to the Stratford Festival in Ontario.

    • A journey to this well-known and highly regarded theatre town was made the more enjoyable by going with friends who are well versed in theatre literature.
    • The city of Stratford has made itself in a beautiful destination featuring the river Avon, gardens, parks, walkways and bike paths. The city’s visitor accommodations befit the typical theater-goers taste and pocketbook.
    • We saw four features — three plays and one musical. I was moved most deeply by “Napoli Milionaria,” set in World War II Italy. “Music Man” was a jolly hoot. As for Shakespeare, I helped myself greatly by reading/studying the two plays beforehand — “The Tempest” and “Coriolanus,” the first a spirit-inspired discovery of forgiveness, the second a study of a bellicose personality. The first is typically viewed as a comedy, the second a tragedy. Useful to me was a comparison of what I had understood Shakespeare to write and how the respective directors made each into spectacle.
    • Unfortunately, stage performances do not allow for photography, especially for the amateur with an iphone. Thus I have no photos to show.
    • While quite expensive, a trip to the Stratford Festival every so often stirs these old bones and tickles my imagination.

In my ’80s

September 27, 2018

Shakespeare Festival, day 2

Napoli Milionaria is yet another document that shows war to be not only a human folly, but a horrible failure of Homo Sapiens. A program note: “Not everyone is guilty, but no one is innocent.”

In contrast, Music Man is a delightful romp across the sanctity of Iowa. Remember these? “Rock Island,” “Ya Got Trouble,” “Goodnight my Someone,” “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little,” “Gary Indiana” and “Till There Was You”?

This morning is stage-free so I took another walk.


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In my ’80s

September 24, 2018

I took Rudy for a walk in 100-acre wood, a place where I once volunteered to help eradicate invasive plants. This particular path leads to the lake; years ago Shawndra’s dad and I kayaked across the lake, and then took a swim. 


A path finds its way around the lake. 


By this time I look for familiar sites. 


The water from the lake enters from the White River and then at the other side empties back into the River. 


Several weeks ago the river overflowed its banks. Now it moves rather lazily.


 A patch of color edges the walk and play area. 


I’ll be back to 100 acre wood soon. 


In my ’80s

September 23, 2018

This week was topsy turvy, with decisions, U-turns and tough moments. I wrote this difficult letter to my family. 

I am writing about Rudy. It’s been two months shy of one year since he’s lived here. I love him dearly. Just a minute ago he jumped on my lap for a squeeze. An hour ago he didn’t chase a cat outside and earned a treat. Yesterday we took a fun walk in 100 acre woods. This has been a good year together.

However, I have decided not to continue with a pet. I have learned the happiness and the responsibility of having a pet, and am now concluding that I should make a change. I suppose you would appreciate knowing reasons.  (1) Financial expense (2) Arrangements when we leave town (3) Maladjustment with the cats at Juniper Spoon (4) The considerable change in my walking habits (5) Hypersensitivity to alarm system (6) Pooping in neighbors lawns when we don’t know it. (6) Unending scratching here in this house — we pity him.

 We will work with other family members to decide Rudy’s future family.  He, a Yorkshire terrior/poodle, deserves the very best. 

In my ’80s

September 19, 2018

Today at coffee a friend introduced me to F.I.R.E.  Not

—Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals

—Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate

 —Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

—Forensic and Incident Response Environment

 —Firefighters Institute for Racial Equality

 —Family Integrated Religious Education

 —Future Investors in Real Estate

—Foundation for Inclusive Religious Education

but F.I.R.E. — Financially Independent, Retiring Early. Apparently a large number of informal members compare notes through social media. 

I found our discussion pleasant and even inspiring, especially when I heard the words, “My wife and I were making more than enough money.” In consequence, my friend retired in middle age, taking an extended leave from a salaried career.  He is not sitting around with nothing to do. He offers child care, and is getting involved in student tutoring, sports coaching, making music, political engagements, church responsibilities and more. 

Two very large audiences would not understand my friend’s circumstances and decision. The one group would be the world’s impoverished peoples. How could they possibly imagine a family “making more than enough money”?  The other group would consist of the capitalists for whom there can never possibly be enough profit to satisfy them.

As another friend of mine says, “Enough is an elegant sufficiency.”