Hardbound or Softbound: An Inherited Addiction

Do you like to read actual books whose pages you can turn or have you fallen under the enchantment of an ebook that you can download to your tablet? While it is convenient to look up information on our phones, I confess that I am a book addict since birth, an affliction that I come by honestly. It is hardwired in my DNA.

I grew up in a home that never had quite enough shelves. My parents added them here and there as they were able. Floor to ceiling bookcases in the living room at one end, three foot high bookcases at the other end. Bookcases in the family room and several of the bedrooms. All of them covered in books: art books, Bibles and theology, ethics, history, great novels and books of poetry, books on housing book collections, collections of doggerel, world religions and cultures, travel, architecture, teaching reading, cathedrals, courthouses, farming, livestock, antiques, manners, shipbuilding, sewing, law, barn building, music and musicians, inventions, period houses and furniture, Judaism, American history, American Indians, woodworking and carpentry, wars, kings and despots, dictators and elected leaders, politics, biographies, pottery, frontier life, candle making, cooking, wood turning, ivories, mosaics, gardening, wild flowers, trees, mysteries, detective stories, assassinations, communism, science, astronomy, jewelry and historic jewelry making, Do-it-yourself guides to nearly anything. It was an eclectic collection of tens of thousands of books, and once-upon-a-time I thought it was ordinary. Alas, I was woefully mistaken.

I felt very foolish the other day. I made a Facebook post asking about a particular book – to see if any of my friends might have a copy that I might purchase or borrow, as the ones that are for sale online are too costly–and the library doesn’t have it. One friend offered to buy it for me which was gracious, but not something I thought I could accept (a dear friend who has shown kindness over and over again). Another good friend suggested I get an e-book for a very slight amount. That is when I felt foolish and didn’t quite know how to respond. I just deleted my post and quietly changed the subject.

It is one thing to look up some bit of information, some small research on a cell phone or tablet. It is another to be a book addict and learn to be content reading electronically downloaded books that you can’t hold, or smell, or touch; whose pages you cannot turn or dog-ear. The difference parallels strolling through an art gallery and looking at the catalog of that art gallery’s holdings on your cell phone.

I do not mean to be rude, nor proud, nor haughty, nor pretentious. But I have a modicum of self-respect left, and I have no interest in being either a ward of the state or a freeloader on my friends. The dry spell of under and unemployment has stretched on for too many years. The number of years with no health insurance, with debt, and with over extended income have become too many. My husband has begun painting again, bless him, small paintings to offer for sale one of these days.

I am working on building a web site and moving toward announcing my writing project. When the project was given to me, and when I accepted it, I promised that I would undertake the project planning for a particular outcome. There are some who think I am naive and will not be successful. I can only say that I am preparing for this as if I am preparing to go to war. I am too old, out of shape, in debt and I have to work to change the odds against me. I have to go to basic training. I have to put my all behind the project. I have to get myself disciplined and in shape. I have to follow the leads of my recent research and study. I have to keep praying and keep believing that things will work out – not because I am a naive simpleton – but because throughout all of these years of underemployment we have survived and prevailed. Our marriage is strong – we have each other’s back. We have friends and colleagues who believe in us and encourage us. We keep trusting that we are not walking alone. Who knows – perhaps one day I can even splurge on a book or two.

Posted in Books, Education, Family | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Fear of Dying and The Tools for Battle: Kumbaya – 2.0

On July 2, 2017, I wrote an article called Kumbaya in response to an assertion that priests and pastors are leaving the church in droves and beautiful church buildings, rich in symbol and story, are having to close up and sell their buildings. If you want to check out that post, you can find it here:  Kumbaya

Years ago when I thought I wanted to be a pastor, I was assigned an internship at the Lutheran Parish at Penn State University. My supervisor asked me to teach a course on the subject of Heaven because some students had expressed an interest in such a course. I began the first session by asking the students what they thought happened to you when you die. There was quiet for a little while; then a couple of people jokingly expressed a view that our spirits were let loose in the universe to flit around and meet up with other spirits.

A Penn State senior said more explicitly that because of Jesus’ death on the cross in our stead we were promised eternal life. I asked her what that meant to her. That seemed to stump her. She hemmed and hawed a bit and resorted to our ghost-like spirit continuing to live on past our natural death. I told her that I thought that was interesting.  Then I asked her one question:  When you confess the Apostles’ Creed, what do you do with the assertion that We believe in the resurrection of the body?

You could have heard a pin drop. She was speechless and still. Everybody else around the table was as well.  Slowly she gripped the edge of the table and said:  Do you mean to say that we MEAN THAT?”

Worship isn’t about play acting. It isn’t a bunch of sweet platitudes so that you can check off your church box for the week and then get back to the stuff that matters. Worship is the Gospel meat and drink that totally transforms life. It is life and light. It is the armor for battle.

When you are afraid of dying or so wrapped up in grief over the death of someone who has gone before you, you aren’t ready for what may be waiting around the corner. When I was a little girl, I used to be afraid of the bedtime prayer my parents taught me:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.

That fear of dying in the night took hold of me.  When my daughter was little, I took the liberty of bringing some defensive forces into the picture.  I later discovered that there are many variations on this version:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
May angels guard me through the night
And wake me with the morning light. Amen.

The old and new testaments of Christian scripture, beginning with the  Book of Genesis and ending with the book of the  Revelation to John make it quite clear who it is that Christians worship as God.  The Apostles Creed spells that faith out in a concise way and then ends with what the Christian church teaches about death: We believe in the resurrection of the body: and the life everlasting. Amen.

Everything changes with this belief.  Yesterday I posted a link to an article about stopping the genocide of Christians on my Facebook page, and I changed the security setting to Public so anyone could see that post. Not one single person commented on that or reacted to it in any way. Not one. Why is that? Is it no longer allowable for a Christian to admit their faith in public? Have we grown so politically correct that we who are Christians are afraid to admit it?

Or is it that we don’t really believe the genocide of Christians is happening in the world – in the same way, that people didn’t want to believe that the Armenians were slaughtered in the first world war, or that the Jews were targeted for eradication in the second world war?

Maybe we can’t bring ourselves to believe it. Maybe we are worried about making a public statement about it. When the horror of Hitler’s death camps was made known – the German people were made to walk through the concentration camps, see the dead, dig graves for the corpses. They had to finally face what had been going on all over Europe.

The Apostles Creed tells us a foundational truth of our Christian faith based solidly on the scriptural texts of the Old and New Testaments.  Death is not the end. Our bodies will be raised up. There is one who is greater than earthly powers – even when those powers are evil and bent on slaughter.

Christianity is not for sissies. Christian worship is not about sweetness and light, or about being able to cross off our religious public duty for the week so that we can get back to things that are fun.

Christian liturgy and worship give us the foundation and tools for life in this world whatever may come our way.  Sometimes what comes our way threatens us.  We are given these gifts.  Memorize such texts – texts of Scripture – study and read the three great ecumenical creeds. They are armor – should you need it.

Posted in Church, Courage, Education, Family, Heaven, Life in these times, Politics, War | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ten Years Ago Today

Our mom, Kathryn Elizabeth, was born on Friday the 13th, a day which never proved unlucky for her, and was called home to the Kingdom of Heaven on 07/07/07 — a perfect number and a perfect day.   She lived to be 89 years old just a few months shy of her 90th birthday.

Her father was one of 13 children, eight of whom were boys and of those eight, four became Lutheran pastors.  Her dad was one of those.  Her parents met when her father had to fill in as preacher at one of his brothers’ churches and noticed the young musician playing for worship.  They courted, married, and Mom was born in a little town called Sherrodsville, Ohio, which was one of a three congregational parish that her father served.  Our mom had a younger sister,  Martha Ellen, and an older brother who died in childbirth.  Her father believed that one day he would meet his grown son in the Kingdom.  Mom seemed to agree.

She graduated from Wittenberg College (now University) a Lutheran church school in Springfield, Ohio.  While in school she had so many marriage proposals that she opined to me that she often used to think that when young men didn’t know what else to say they proposed marriage.  She thankfully turned them all down.

Upon graduation, she began teaching in Trenton, Ohio.  She was just twenty years old and was teaching high schoolers.  She stayed in that job for three years — which proved to be pivotal years in her life.  She had accepted an invitation to a Fraternity formal dance in Toledo, and those three years proved to be the courting years of our parents.

They were an amazing match for each other.  Although he was about to enter law school, he had fallen under the sway of a college philosophy professor and had become an agnostic.  They argued about theology.  She was looking for the right man for her and she had no intention of marrying some non-believer!  You can read more about that here My Father’s Daughter

They were best friends, lifetime lovers, sparring partners, hopelessly besotted with each other.  There was nothing they didn’t talk about including some of the things I remember:  theology, politics, literature, history, church life, family life, music, law, antiques, pigs, cats, birds, and paradise.

After Dad’s graduation from law school, he and mom were married in the summer of 1941.   They had six months of married life together before he was drafted for WWII.  The war years are a story for another time.

Let me get back to telling you about our mom.  She was a lover of words in all their many forms.  She loved lofty literature as well as pithy doggerel.  After being a stay at home mom for four children, dad suggested she go back to school because he thought it was something she would love to do.  When I was in Kindergarten, she started a masters program in English Literature at the University of Toledo.  She graduated when I was in second grade.  My dad was always bringing mom roses from the garden, but on that occasion, he bought her a dozen long-stemmed Red Roses which wowed this 2nd grader.

She encouraged my youngest brother, and later me, to invite friends over to the house to read Shakespeare’s plays — a fun and rather counter-cultural activity for high school kids back then.  She penned some beautiful poems — but is best remembered in our family for the rhyming doggerel she composed for family occasions chiefly the birthdays of her children.

Although she loved her three sons and one daughter to the moon and back — we were never the center of our family.  Our parents were.  Their relationship was the primary one.  Whether they talked about this or not — I have no idea — but it always seemed to me that they believed that if their relationship wasn’t the primary one in the family — none of the children would be secure.   They were rock solid in their belief in God, and their marriage was founded on that belief.  Their marriage was always at the center of our family life.

Their love and devotion to each other was life long.  It was rock solid, but never dull!   Their playful interactions with each other were great fun along with occasional lapses into public displays of affection.  I always remember the time I was visiting with them and accompanied them to the grocery store.  They were in the check out line,  probably in their late sixties or seventies by this time, and my father totally forgot himself and kissed her on the lips.  Then realizing where they were exclaimed —  “Zounds!”  My mother laughed and said the kiss would have been nicer without the  addition of the word “Zounds!”

You can read more about their love and dreams here: Love and an Acre of Land

She was a hard worker and a smart cookie.  She knew that there was more than one way to skin a cat.  When she taught eighth-grade kids remedial reading, she stocked her classroom with things the kids wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen with — Hot Rod magazines for example — and got them all reading at or above grade level in a semester.

She painted every room in our house.  She sewed tons of my clothes including a wedding gown.  She was a member of the American Association of University Women and belonged to a book reviewing group.  It turned out that she became much in demand by social and civic organizations as a book reviewer.

She taught me many hard lessons in fun ways — chiefly by her example.  She was kind to others but never a doormat.  She was proud of her children, but not blindly so.  She was not unwilling to jerk us up when we needed it.

So on this 07 07 17, I give thanks for her life, I joyously remember her witty reproofs, I delight in the treasure of being her daughter, and I raise my morning coffee cup in honor of the best Mother this girl could have had.

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Kumbaya

I am at home, sicker than a dog, and that has left me with a short fuse – which just got lit. I read an article today about Christian pastors and priests leaving the church in droves. Recently I’ve seen ads for beautiful old churches that are for sale and can be bought for $1. I think there is a correlation.

The article talked about worship being “safe” but that if you mention a political cause all hell breaks loose. The young pastor gets fired up and passionate about causes but gets sucked dry by arguments about the color of the carpet in the church narthex.

Yeah, the church is filled up with plenty of ordinary household issues. Furnaces go on the fritz, carpets get threadbare, the secretary quits without giving notice, on and on. Every household has its routine maintenance, its challenges, its chores. So what?  The church is also filled up with people who live for meetings and want to stretch them out into eternity. Don’t let them. Play nice, but have an agenda, do business, have a life, go home.

But don’t throw away the church because worship is safe and you only get passionate about causes. If worship is “SAFE” then something is wrong. Worship isn’t about camp songs and playing nice. Worship is about life altering change and disruption. If you make it about politics, or you make it about this or that cause, you have missed the boat.

If you substitute the Gospel with a cause – whatever it is – you have just become a branch office of the SPCA or Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, or some such. Worthy causes – but not big picture life altering. The Gospel isn’t about the Republican or Democratic platform, it isn’t about pro-life or pro-choice, it isn’t about LGBT agenda. The Gospel isn’t about saving the whales, or fighting global warming, or paying your workers a living wage.

I have friends who are Christians who love the person their grown child loves and lives with – but are dismayed that their adult child sees no point in marrying that person – or that their adult child is waiting to marry the person that they are living with until this or that event happens. I see frazzled, tired parents at church who are busy shushing their children while attempting to placate them with Cheerios, toys, dolls, and puzzles to keep them quiet. Why don’t they quit that losing battle and teach their kids what the heck is going on in church?

Why do we think teenagers with raging hormones will suddenly learn to get excited about church? Why not let them in on what is going on in church when they are little and have a thousand questions they want answered?

I have had pastors tell me that they have no time to talk to people about baptism (we have a book for that); I have had pastors tell me that they have no time for sermon preparation. I have watched shows on TV where athletes or actors have spoken about their first tennis game at age 3; or about learning to play the piano at a similar age. What are we waiting for with church? Is the Gospel important at all – or just some box we check off to prove that we are civic minded caring people?

Once upon a time, I belonged to a church that was urged down a path toward becoming a gay church. Not, mind you, a church that welcomes all sinners including gays, but one which was intentionally for gays. I cautioned them that it would cease to be the church. They didn’t believe me, the transformation happened, and even some gay members left. Do I have an issue with gays? No. Why did I say it would cease to be the church? I said it would cease to be the church because whenever you substitute any issue for the Gospel message – you radically transform the nature and character of the institution. You are putting a cause in place of the Living God.

Worship that is done well isn’t safe. Preaching isn’t about placating the masses into a deep slumber. It isn’t about turning those in the pews into card-carrying lobbyists or community organizers. It is about meeting the sinners of the world and shining light into their frustrating, hurting lives and offering new life. It is about meeting the perfect Christians who are spit shined and properly attired and blowing the cobwebs out of their eyes.

Quit wasting time playing games in Sunday School and teaching vacuous Vacation Bible School. Teach little ones what the pictures in the windows are about. Teach little ones about the weird furniture in the church. Teach little ones what the colors of the church year mean. Figure out a way to get little people to actually listen to what is being said. Quit sabotaging church and leave the Cheerios and toys at home.

Stop encouraging adults to view the time prior to worship as gossip catch-up time. Encourage the congregation to take time before worship to prepare for worship. One church I attended had this in their bulletin:

Be thoughtful, be silent, be reverent; for this is the House of God. Before the service speak to the Lord; during the service let the Lord speak to you; after the service speak to one another.

I once visited a church where there were girls old enough to get pregnant who weren’t old enough to take communion. What the heck is wrong with this picture? If we throw away the radically transformational gospel that shakes up lives and turns depair into joy – we have only ourselves to blame.

The church is much bigger than a cause. If we quit looking at it as a platform for whatever it is that we are excited about today – we might actually do our parishioners a favor by getting out of the way of the Gospel. We might actually see Millennials return to church. We might actually quit seeing so many church buildings being sold.

Quit playing games. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Posted in Church, Education, Family, Life in these times, Politics, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shall We Be Polite or Shall We Fight?

If you have siblings, no doubt you have been told by your parents or grandparents to play nice and get along. My grandmother, whom we called Nana, used to say to my older brothers: “Now boys, it is too nice of a day to argue!”

Too often, no matter how gently I tiptoe on social media, I end up offending someone. Maybe it is because I grow weary of that politeness bit and I give vent, and that causes all the you-know-what to hit the fan. Sometimes even when I am polite, I bring up some subject which others understand very differently – and then I get long epistles written to me by my friends.

Many of my friends never talk publically about matters political at all. They post pictures of their pets and let it go at that. I have to say that sometimes I envy that discipline, especially since I am past the age when my blood pressure really loves a good fight. In fact, at this moment in my life, I am exceeding happy. A beautiful glow surrounds me. A new life has been brought into our extended family, and that leaves me anticipating holding the new little one.

But then the haunting terror of the letter that came this last week comes back to me. Yes, it would be easier to just hunker down with the family and not worry about anything else – but my belief in God will not let me be silent about this. I just cannot. If that offends you, I am sorry, but I cannot be silent.

I am talking about Genocide. The slaughter of Armenians was the first genocide of the 20th century.  I have a friend from high school who is Armenian by descent.  Her grandparents fled from Turkey.  The story of that genocide was passed down in her family.  I mention that here – in my tale that touches on a friendship born during the first world war: In time of trial: On Hobbits and Narnians

Then in the WWII, Adolf Hitler committed the shocking second genocide of the 20th century.  Primarily aimed at eliminating the world’s population of Jews – Hitler also was happy to kill large numbers of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Polish people, Catholics, Protestants, Blacks, Gypsies, Homosexuals, the Handicapped and the Mentally Ill.

Thankfully, America’s General Eisenhower insisted that there be lots of photographic evidence to document the horrific extent of the slaughter. He was wise enough to know that people would never believe the level of slaughter until they saw with their own eyes the evidence. They would have to see the bodies of survivors that were shrunken to skeletons, the mass graves, the awful videos that detailed the slaughter.

But genocide continues on. It has never stopped. Just recently I have received a letter about the current genocide of Christians.  It is being perpetrated by ISIS.  Some of you might not believe it. The letter was sent to me by the American Center for Law & Justice in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the European Centre for Law & Justice in Strasbourg, France, and the Slavic Centre for Law & Justice in Moscow, Russia.

What do we have to know about or hear about before we will stand up and be counted and say we will not allow this to happen without a fight?

It has been going on for years – crucifixions, torture, beheadings, burning people alive – rape and then torture and murder of women. But what I heard this week was worse than all of that. How can it be worse than the public rape of eight women who are then beheaded? These items were in the letter. They made me recoil in disgust. What kind of savage commits this kind of atrocity?

  • The letter told that 250 Syrian children under the age of five were put in a dough mixer and crushed to death.    
  • ISIS captured a Christian couple’s daughters, then delivered their body parts in a plastic bag, along with a video of the girls being raped and tortured.

We can play nice and hope that the ISIS fighters will play nice with us. Personally, I don’t trust that to happen. I lock my door at night. I am thankful that President Trump wants to secure our country so we can see who is ringing the doorbell before we open the door to let them in. In France ISIS slit the throat of an 85-year-old Catholic priest during mass.

Vice President Pence said:

I believe that ISIS is guilty of nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith, and it is time for the world to call it by name.

Don’t walk out on this. I am asking you to take a stand. Stand with persecuted Christians against Genocide. This is persecution. Because of religion. It has happened before. When will we have the courage to stand up and say – not on our watch?

I have read comments on Facebook describing the kinds of people that support the policies of President Trump. Fine. I don’t care what they call me. Some things are more important than labels. It doesn’t matter one iota what people call you, what they think of you, or what labels they assign to you. What is important, is that you pay attention and stand up and be counted. What matters is that if you can do something to stop or slow the slaughter of innocents, you do it.

I would ask you to quit sitting on the sidelines. You can start this easy way: copy and paste this link to your FB page:

ACLJ: Stop the Genocide of Christians

You can donate money here that assists the ACLJ to help those who are being persecuted:

Contribute now to help defend persecuted Christians

You can take a stand against genocide. As for me and my house – we have an obligation to fight the slaughter of innocents. We have a duty to protect even the littlest of God’s creatures.  I am asking you to stand with me.  Please. Don’t. Walk. Out. Call Genocide by its name. Fight the good fight and give money and aid to those who are working to protect Christians from genocide.

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Thanking God For Their Lives

The year is 2017, and this is Memorial Day weekend.  For some, this may mean a Monday off work, a barbecue with friends,  a get-away weekend, and perhaps maybe even flag flying.  For many, this day blends right in with veterans day and is just another day to thank everyone who served in our military.

The history of this day has changed.  Originally called Decoration Day, it was started after the American Civil War as a way to honor Northern soldiers who died in that conflict.  Later it was renamed Memorial Day and was used as a day to honor all of those who fell in the service of our Nation in any war.  The date for Memorial day was always May 30th, until a bill was passed in 1968 making three day weekends which moved the date to the last Monday in May beginning in 1971.  Don’t get me started . . .

Saying thank you is generally always a thing to be encouraged.  But the thanks due on Memorial day has a particular focus.  This is not just a general day to thank vets.   That is always important, but that is not what this day is about.  Memorial day focuses remembrance on the men and women who answered the call to serve their country in wartime and who died in that service.

Military duty carries with it grave and terrible risks.  There are many ways to honor and give thanks to our country’s war dead.  General George S. Patton said:

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

General Patton is right.  We should pause and thank God for their lives.  They answered the call of their nation, and we need to give thanks for their lives, their courage, and their dedicated wartime service.  I would, however, broaden General Patton’s quote to include women.  Women have always been involved in American wars, and by WWI there were 33,000 serving in the military as nurses and support staff.  400 of those lost their lives in the line of duty.  You can look up that information here:  http://www.history.org/History/teaching/enewsletter/volume7/images/nov/women_military_timeline.pdf

If you have lost someone near to you, grief is something you are all too familiar with.  If you are yourself a veteran, memories of your fallen friends can haunt you and bring tears.  If you are a child of a veteran and perhaps a soft touch like me, you may find yourself sympathetic to this one line from a poem by Thomas William Parsons, entitled  For One Who Fell in Battle.   

On thy grave the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation!

There are a whole variety of actions you can take to honor the fallen.  You may think up more, but here are some suggestions of mine:

  • If you can play the bugle, you can get in touch with veterans groups and see if they need a bugler to play taps at a cemetery’s Memorial Day Service.
  • If you are a bugler, you can also audition and volunteer to play taps at a veteran’s funeral.  You can find out about what is entailed in doing this by contacting Bugles Across America here: Volunteer – Audition at Bugles Across America  They are always recruiting new buglers to play at military funerals.  You don’t need to be a military veteran to do this.
  • You can also donate to Bugles Across America.  They accept Cash, horns, and uniforms.  You can donate here:  Bugles Across America
  • You can also donate to provide support to the widow/widower and surviving children of fallen service members.  This may take a little effort on your part.  Many worthy organizations provide such support, but you should do due diligence to make sure that they use donor money appropriately.  You can go to Guidestar and type in:  families of fallen veterans, and you will get a list of a variety of non-profits that provide support.  They rate the efficiency and targeted focus of various organizations, and you can see which organizations will best suit your criteria for giving.
  •  You can place flags on graves:  you might contact a cemetery or veterans group and see if they could use some help in placing flags on the graves of those who have fallen.

Finally, one last thing.  As I read this out loud to my husband, who is a Vietnam veteran,  I was reminded painfully of one more thing as I watched his tears flow.  Don’t forget to comfort those who lived, who were able to come home from war.  This weekend may be very hard for them as they remember their brothers and sisters who were not so fortunate.


 

 

 

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My Father’s Daughter

My father died near the end of May in 1994, an anniversary that will soon be here.  Time passes, and I have gotten used to living in a world without him.  But hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of him, wish I could ask him something, or have the fun of continuing a conversation or friendly argument from years ago.

Dad had a unique relationship with each of his four children. He was proud of us all, loved us all, and butted heads with us all. My three older brothers would no doubt tell of their Dad in a different way – but I was the baby of the family – and this is my take on our remarkable father.

Our home is littered with things his hands touched, gifts he made, furniture and oddments he owned and a few of his books.  How may I convey an impression?  He was all of these things: A lawyer by profession, a woodworker for fun (aided by a client who bartered with a table saw and a wood lathe), a feeder of birds, a planter of trees, and a grower of roses.  He was a war protester who became an American patriot when serving in the army during WWII.  He was an exuberant collector of books, Christmas ornaments, and antique tools.  Beyond all of that, he was a man who loved history, studied theology and while courting our mother, argued with her over the church’s claim that the God of the Bible, as described in the ecumenical creeds, is a triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   He was swayed by her arguments, pursued more rigorous study and left his college agnosticism behind.

He gave me lessons on driving a car,  using the lathe, choosing the right hardware for a job, and much about weird ancestors.  He demonstrated an exuberance of excess in decorating for Christmas and gleefully rearranged the candlesticks spelling Noel, to read Leon.  I mention his crazy Christmas excesses here:  The Countdown is On.   He prepared a tool box for me when I went off to college and bought me a crystal wine decanter for my first apartment.  He loved to argue a political, cultural or theological position and was known to write lengthy inscriptions in books given in response to a request when he thought the author or subject merited parental guidance, critique or comment.  He encouraged and expected a spirited debate when we disagreed.

He was a gentleman to the core and on my twenty-second birthday decided that my language needed parental guidance. His gift to me that year has made me laugh throughout all the decades since and is displayed proudly in our home office. It was comprised of a letter typed on office letterhead and a book. I provide copies of both for you to see — if you click on the letter you will see it in print easier to read!

 

 

 

One of the best lessons I learned from him was that his children were not the center of his life or the center of our family.  He loved each of his children, but his relationship with our mother always came first.   When he came home from work, he always greeted me in a friendly fashion as he walked right by me in search of the love of his life.   I have written about them often before, and you may read one such story about them here:  Love and an Acre of Land.  They were well matched intellectually and had delightful fun together.  I could not have been blessed with better parents.  When I reflect on the many blessings in life — my remarkable father is way up on that list.

 

 

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