Saturday, November 24, 2018

Beyond the Photo

Thanks to Toni for taking this pic!
It's the day after the day after Thanksgiving. Yesterday, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, we had two of our kids and their kids here. On Thanksgiving Day Toni and I were out in Chanhassen at my brother Peter and his wife Leah's place. I'm told there were 31 there -- the extended Paul & Joan Thorson family -- though I didn't count them all myself. (Leah's mom, and perhaps others, had left before we lined up for this photo.)

In the midst of all this great family time I went to work yesterday, and I've been thinking about bigger issues, issues that we don't talk about much as a family. (I've posted about some of those issues in the last week or so in social media.) I don't think we're intentionally avoiding certain subjects--we just don't have a lot of time together. Our conversations, therefore, focus more on what's going on in our personal lives, or what's going on at the moment in our gathering.

That's how it is usually is when I'm with groups of people I care about -- whether at work or among friends. Groups that have more than 2 or 3 in them usually aren't a good place to talk about political or faith issues. Those kinds of talks happen more when two or three are gathered. Or, now-a-days, online.

The adults in the picture above, dear family members, are intelligent Christian people, capable of deep thought and careful conversation. I look forward to talking with many of them about these larger issues in the months to come.

Let's try to do that. If you're reading this, let me know. Then let's try to find ways to share. It'll take some work. It'll stretch us intellectually and emotionally. It'll challenge us to listen... and to love one another when we disagree. I do think, though, that we need to do that if we're going to be good citizens and helpful members of the church.




Saturday, November 17, 2018

Abortion -- A Troubling Question

As some of you know, I threw my support behind the Minnesota "DFL" party during the past election. Many of my friends would not agree -- partly because of the issue of abortion. I'll try to say a few words about that here.

When I think about abortion, I can't help but think of the baby... and the mother too. I do think of the unborn child as just that, a child. And, still, I do believe that a woman, that is, a mother, has the final word on how she will deal with life, both hers and the life she is carrying, when she becomes pregnant. I am staunchly anti-abortion, but I believe that the mother will make choices, choices that only she can make -- unless you're wanting to take away a part of what makes her a free human being.

It's clear, I believe, from science and scripture, that "life" begins at conception. When an ovum is fertilized by a sperm, a new life begins. Some of those new lives survive until natural birth months later. Others do not, for a variety of reasons, some of which are known to the mother, others that are just mysteries.

In any case, for the first few months of life, until that child can survive outside the womb, one life (that of the child) is entirely dependent upon one unique other (the mother). Because of that dependence, it doesn't make sense to me to think of the child as having an independent life. That independent life begins when the child takes his or her first breath. So the life within the mother's womb is not the same as the life of the mother.

Somehow, as we think about abortion, and the many choices that a woman makes about how to care for themselves and the children they nurture during pregnancy, we need to recognize and respect the woman's right to choose. I always hope they will choose life. I hope I'll always be willing to do as much as I can to support her and her children, born or unborn. But, when it comes to the choices that woman makes about the life that's completely dependent upon her, until it's born, I'm not willing to have the government tell her what to do.

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Added Monday, November 19: A loved one challenged me about what I wrote above, saying what I wrote above shows that I don't really believe life begins at conception. I need to think about that more. To do that I listened to a two year old "Depolarize Podcast" interview with "Christian ethicist, writer and pro-life advocate Matthew Lee Anderson." There's a section in particular in that interview that I'm looking at closely, actually transcribing it.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Good Night

It's been close to a month since I've written on here. There's just always a lot going on it seems. And now I'll be heading to bed soon.

Toni and I are home after being gone most of the day, first in Northfield with her mom, and then up at my sister's place in Blaine to celebrate birthdays including my mom's 88th.

I'll be up just after 5 AM tomorrow as usual. Good night.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Differences and Truth

Good morning! Toni and I are up at the Dahlin cabin. Today is my last vacation day of 2018. I saved it so we could come up for a long weekend with Toni's mom, mostly, I guess, to "close" it for the coming winter.
Yesterday, after church, we got all the outside stuff into the little garage, took the canoe over to Schoolhouse Lake, and then went out for a meal with some friends. There'll be cleaning etc. to do inside today before we can head home.

The pic at the top of this post was taken, as it says, at Grace Lutheran Church in Hayward. I was hoping to hear Tony Stoutenburg preach, but he was out of town at the LCMC gathering. I was still glad to be there. There's a connection between that church and my own story, a story that has "Truth" at its center.

No two stories are alike though. Even when we are in dedicated service to the Truth, and to the One who is "The Way, The Truth and The Life," there will be differences among us. That's always been the case: It was true among Jesus' first followers, as they emphasized different aspects of discipleship. and it continues to be true today.

There's been a heightened public awareness of those differences during the last 2-3 years, an awareness that has made it more difficult for me to write significant posts on this blog. And there's no clearer example of that than what we just went through in recent days we here in the United States as we have all suffered, in different ways, through the gut wrenching confirmation of Brett Kavenaugh to the supreme court.

My personal story of truth-telling and truth-following has led me to connect, personally and professionally, with Christian brothers and sisters who are often more liberal or more conservative than me. ++ As someone who is hugely concerned with environmental issues, including human caused climate change, and who believes that there is indeed such a thing as "white privilege," something that I've benefited from my whole life, I should be at home among liberals or even socialists. ++ But I can't go there, not completely, because, I'm also convinced that there is a God-given design for family, violations of which have wrought so much suffering on those are not able to protect themselves, particularly among the young. Liberals, in general, have a "love is love" philosophy of relationships that does not generally honor God's original design.

So I find myself, often, without a "tribe," that is, without a conservative or liberal community that I see eye-to-eye with.

I've seen that play out as my friends have cheered, or been angered by, the Kavenaugh confirmation.

It's been puzzling, troubling, gut-wrenching, at least ever since Christine Blasey Ford brought forward her story of sexual assault. I was shocked by Kavenaugh's angry, partisan, conspiracy theory centered denial, and very much saddened by his unwillingness to admit that he could have, perhaps, done something that harmful under the influence of alcohol--so many years ago. I was even more troubled as I saw our presidents supporters cheering as Donald Trump mocked Christine Blasey Ford, and even more bothered as I read comments of my conservative Christian friends who just can't seem to admit the possibility that a "brilliant legal mind," like Kavenaugh's, could have been clouded by alcohol "back in the day."

So I'm betwixed and between, neither conservative nor liberal. It's uncomfortable, but, I'd rather stand with what (and Who) is True than just allow myself to be swayed by friendship or party loyalty. I pray, every day, that I'll be open to hearing any aspects of Truth that I've missed. I pray that I'll always be open to changing my mind when necessary, and that I'll never be too afraid to fail in service to the Truth.

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Car

Toni and I bought a car today. An SUV. It's called a "compact SUV," but it's about 20" longer than the compact car (a Ford Focus). It doesn't seem very "compact" to me. We were able to buy this car because Toni's dad gave his fancy Buick Enclave to Toni before he went to be with the Lord. We are thankful that we were able to exchange the Buick for $9-10,000. Not quite enough for the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox that we chose -- but enough to certainly make it easier to pay for.

Now we're home. Both of us are glad we made the decision, and the purchase, today, before we analyzed it to death. There are always things that we could wish were different. Best just to decide. So that's done.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Burning the Midnight Oil

Monday evening. Toni's on her way home, I think, and it won't be long until I go to bed. I didn't sleep well last night, so I'm looking forward to sleep.
I wrote that 5 days ago, at probably about 8:00 PM. When Toni did get home that night, I was fast asleep. The next night (Tuesday), I didn't sleep well at all. It went like that all week, sleeping well one night and then not much the next. Now it's Saturday night and I'm up again. It's been kind of rough, but I have had some good naps so don't feel too bad.

Since mid week I've chosen to get up and do things if I'm not sleeping. That's what I'm doing now. I'll get tired enough soon to go back to bed, where Toni already is. She sleeps well, consistently. It's rare that she doesn't. Maybe only when she's ill.

One of the things I did last night and tonight was to finish making a list of books that Toni brought home from her parents. She'd been there getting her mom settled into a different apartment following her dad's funeral. The books mainly belonged to him; the ones I've been listing are mainly theological and Christian. Books I'd like to keep if I had space.

One thing I could do at night would be to read, I suppose, and I do that sometimes, but reading takes a sharper mind than I usually have when I'm sleepless. I told our son Daniel this week that doing fairly "mindless" tasks at night is helpful for me. Reading theology wouldn't be mindless at all. It's also not very physical. Keeping my body moving at least a little bit is good to do at night.

So it's getting close to 1 AM. I think it's time to try to sleep again. First I'll finish putting the silverware away -- I put the dishes away earlier. Then maybe I'll take a shower before I go back to bed.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sandwich

I'm at our son Dan and daughter in law Shatera's place tonight, "watching" our grandson Liam. They'll be back momentarily from the youth group that Dan pastors. It's a pleasure to spend time with Liam, and also to help his busy parents a bit. Tomorrow I'll be back to work.

Toni comes back this evening from Northfield where's she's been helping get her mom settled in her new apartment. I think it'll be a great situation for Grandma Jo.

I don't think I mentioned in this blog that Toni and I are thankful, and awed, at the birth of our son Jon & his wife Breanna's fourth child. That makes six grandchildren now, with one more on the way. Naomi is expecting to give birth to her second child in February.

We're in the sandwich time of our lives. Between grandchildren and our aging parents, we certainly have enough to do.

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

What Doing Does

It's unseasonably hot and sticky today. Right now I'm inside, in my little "office," with the air conditioning on. This morning, and until about 1:00, I was mostly busy outdoors trimming bushes, except for the time I spent at Snap Fitness. I got moving this morning by washing dishes. "Doing" things always seems to help me, and it's usually good for others too. Now I'm hoping to get going on some desk work. Always lots to do.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Confessing Comparison

It's about a quarter to 8 on this Tuesday evening. I've been wanting to jot a few thoughts, sort of selfish and personal thoughts, that have been going on in my head in connection with my father-in-law Dick Dahlin's funeral yesterday.

Hundreds came. People are guessing 300. Dick and Jo had dozens of friends, probably mostly due to Jo's gregarious ways, though his own activities during retirement and his previous pastoral service also contributed to his "popularity." He was a steady participant, a caring presence, a servant, and a consistent leader of several groups. Jo and Dick together made a wonderful team that drew people to them -- and to the Lord they served.

Dick's ministry life (pre-retirement) was pretty straightforward. He retired 25-30 years ago, long before the denominational difficulties occurred that led, by a roundabout and complicated path, to my resignation from the last ELCA church I served. Sadly, and embarrassingly, I have thought about my own life, and even my own (future) funeral, knowing that it's (and will be) different (and smaller) than Dick's. As will be my/our financial security whenever it is that we retire. Dick retired early. I'll retire late. So it goes.

I confess that, in my heart, I compared, even though, honestly, I wouldn't trade. I really like how things are going for me, and for Toni and me together, now. I know the Lord will work it out for us just fine.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Weekend

Good morning! Toni and I are up at the Durphee Lake cabin, spending most of our time painting the newly reconstructed porch. First we primed (as in the picture). Now we're putting 2 coats on the trim and the rest. We doubt that we'll be able to finish the outside before we leave this afternoon, and then inside is still waiting. It's been a labor-full Labor Day weekend.

When Toni took this pic it was, as you can see, beautiful outside weather wise. That was Saturday. Yesterday (Sunday) we were able to get back at it in the mid afternoon. It started pouring rain in the late morning after church. I got in a really good nap so was able to get back to painting the eaves. There's a second coat of green on the lake-side and the first coat is done on on the west-side. Toni's been doing the walls, plus filling nail holes inside.
It's been good for us to be up here, not only to get work done, but also because we brought Toni's mom Jo along with us. This cabin, as she has been saying as she's been talking with friends, is really her home. There have been lots of changes in her life, even before Toni's dad's recent death, and this place has been the one physical constant since she and Dick bought it in the early 1960s. Jo is doing quite well right now, glad to have family and friends visiting, and doing as many chores as she can. She wisely uses a walker to get around, but other than that I have to say she's quite young considering her 85+ years on this earth. I'm glad she can be here too.

I started writing this a half hour ago or more, thinking that I'd share a bit more about health, following up on my "Truth and Cholesterol, part 1" post. That'll have to wait. I want to get back to bed for a bit now.

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Truth and Cholesterol, part 1

I'm writing this while I wait out my time in the Heywood Garage drivers room. My second bus trip in the mornings during this part of the year is on a route that goes from Blaine to the University of MinnesotaMinnesota, but since the U hasn't yet started its fall term I don't drive it. I come back here and wait after my first trip. Soon I'll go to the gym and then home until the afternoon.

As is usual with me the importance of "truth" has been on my mind lately, this time in connection with something that medical professionals have talked with me about -- cholesterol.

My cholesterol is high. It's that way most likely because of my low-carb, high-fat diet, a diet that I have been convinced is the most healthy. My total cholesterol is 238. But my HDL is 78+. So my "ratio" of LDL/HDL is great... even according to my doctors*. Still, they all want me to take medication so that there will be less total cholesterol in my blood.

I've said I would need to be convinced about that -- that it's not good for me to have a lot of cholesterol in my blood. As of now I'm not convinced. As of now I'm of the opinion that cholesterol is a good thing, as long as my "ratio" is good, and as long as other health indicators are positive.

Why do I think cholesterol is a good thing? I'll write more about that later... I hope.

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Public Pebbles (or just breadcrumbs?)

I mentioned, before I went to bed a few hours ago, that there's no more way for me to post to facebook via twitter. I've hoped for interaction, leaving myself open to correction and conversation, and most of that conversation has happened on facebook.

My point in sharing online (whether on this blog or via social media) has been to leave a trail of public clues that would be available, theoretically, to anyone who is curious about me or what it is that drives me to be who I am and do what I do. I have wanted to do that because of Jesus, who, I hope, will be the One that people will find if they follow these pebbles back to their Home. I've also hoped that anyone in the world could look at the clues themselves and wonder, perhaps, how someone who claims to follow Jesus could believe the things I do.

I've always hoped for conversation too, and have invited people to criticize me or correct me, especially when they write from a Jesus-focused perspective. I've learned a lot. I have come to understand that many people don't see things the same way I do, even when they also claim Jesus as their Lord. Most of that conversation and correction has happened on facebook, and I'm grateful for that.

Facebook posts, however, aren't open to the world--you have to sign up to see what's there. So, for my purposes, facebook isn't public enough. Plenty of people aren't on facebook.* Twitter, however, has this neat feature that allows people to see what's on there without signing up or participating in twitter. There's a twitter feed on this blog. I hope you've seen it there. I hope you can if you look.

But I don't get much interaction with others on twitter. There are far more people I know personally on facebook than on twitter, and on facebook I at least know people are seeing what's there as they "like" or comment. And many of my friends and acquaintances write and post comment-worthy posts on facebook, or just post pictures or other things that allow me to connect with them, if only by clicking "like." For me, facebook has been a virtual neighborhood where people are most likely to walk by and say "hi," or, even, to gather for meaningful conversation. Sometimes I wish more of my friends and acquaintances participated there.

So, because facebook isn't public, I've been glad that I could post to facebook via twitter. It was several years ago that I discovered I could build that one way link. My twitter posts, would also go on facebook, where they would get reactions and comments. It was both public and conversational. For me, that was good.

Now that functionality is gone. I feel like Hansel who has just been locked in the house. Before I was able to leave a trail of pebbles when I went out into the world, not, in my case, to find my way home, but so others could find me. Twitter and facebook together provided that. There was openness and honesty. What I tweeted went on facebook. Now, though, I'll need to decide what to do, because I don't want to take the time to log into facebook every time I share something. And I don't want to be tempted to just post on facebook, because there it's all about reactions. I want this to be about a trail of clues to the ultimate Source of my life and yours, Jesus Christ.

Thanks for listening. I'll try to clarify this if you care to comment or ask me. Thanks.

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*I know that many people in the world aren't online in any way (my mom, for example, has never used even email) but there are more people who are online sometimes than those who choose to participate in facebook.

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