What do you know, he is still alive.

I was listening to NPR today, as I often do whilst driving, and I heard some amazing news. Every once in awhile, as I grow older myself, I ask my dear wife, “So, is he/she still around? I haven’t heard from from him/her, lately. It seems rude, in a way, to wonder if the person in question is dead. It’s probably more rude than asking if a woman is pregnant.

On the other hand, when hearing an update, the person in question is back on the list of topics for polite conversation. Anyway, NPR had an interview with Herman Wouk, and he just turned 100 years old. I’ve linked to the interview below.

NPR Interview with Herman Wouk


In case Herman Wouk is a new name, here is something I dug out of my archive from about nine years ago. In addition to writing City Boy and My Father’s God, Wouk is better known for Winds of War, War and Remembrance, and The Caine Mutiny.




What do you know, he is still alive.

Garden in the snow

As I drove back from Sioux Falls today, enjoying the warmth and brightness of the hour, I could not help but recall the garden work we’ve been doing lately. One son was starting maple sprigs. A few others browsed the gardening catalogs. Sharon had recently ordered some new trees. As for me, I have been plotting out what to plant where, juggling books such as “Carrots Love Tomatoes”, “Root Cellaring”, “Maximizing Your Mini Farm”, “Storey’s Basic Country Skills”, along with our gardens in graph-paper form, and the seed catalogs. The thing about a garden is, one can hope!

May the God of Heaven and of Earth below, the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, bless the work of our hands. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Garden in the snow

By the shore of Gitchee Gumee

I remember how my dad, years ago, sometimes began to recite “By the shore of Gitchee Gumee/ By the shining big sea water/ At the doorway of his wigwam/ In the pleasant summer morning…” I’d always wanted to read this epic. Now I have.

I just finished reading The Song of Hiawatha, the epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. According to my journal, one moon passed during my sporadic reading. I always have three or four books in process, so I am not displeased with the time I took to read it. Especially is this true because of the various notes I took. Reading one of the celebrated masters of American poetry, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, even as part of my brain was trying to figure out what he was doing from a technical standpoint.

Longfellow has a rhythm pleasing to the ear. Throughout the twenty-three cantos, Longfellow keeps up the steady beat (for some reason, Sonny Bono’s “The Beat Goes On” comes to mind), if you will, of the trochaic tetrameter. Thinking out loud, here, I wonder if that foot/meter combination would have been familiar to Native American ears. I haven’t been near a Wacipi or anything lately, so I don’t know, but with the story, it works, in my opinion. Not that my opinion means anything. Also, I think this would be difficult to keep up that rhythm for such a lengthy poem, but, then again, I’m not him.

Longfellow’s use of repetition is enjoyable. When, in the introduction, Gitche Manito tells the nations,

“I have given you bear and bison,

I have given you roe and reindeer,

I have given you brant and beaver”

the trio of “I have given you” lines serve to emphasize Gitche Manito’s rule of the created order. Then, the sounds of the animal names repeat in each line. And, while the rhyme is not common throughout the epic, here, in the introduction, the reader may appreciate the lines ending in “hunt in”, “fish in”, and “bison”.

Not only in this opening canto, but especially here, I appreciate the various “lessons”. This appreciation may not be universal throughout the epic, but I should think the following lines would share wide appeal, perhaps as much now, as any other time since their writing:

“I am weary of your quarrels,

“Weary of your wars and bloodsheds,

“Weary of your prayers for vengeance,

“Of your wranglings and dissensions;

“All your strength is in your union,

“All your danger is in discord;

“Therefore be at peace henceforward

“And as brothers live together.”

How this universal peace is achieved is another matter, but in this world of sin and sickness, it is a lofty hope and goal. Ironically, perhaps, it would not be longer than 15 years after this was published that the white men of these United States of America were fighting among themselves in the War between the States.

Longfellow’s opinions and reflections, via Hiawatha, on death and on life, on friends and on foes, on memory and on vision, and in courtship and community, are certainly food for thought. Less like a snack, they are, and more like a feast. More I could write, but I will not.

By the shore of Gitchee Gumee

But how do we reach the youth?

I heartily recommend this article. And, please read the end notes. Thanks to Chris Ames for sharing this on Scott Aniol’s Religious Affections.

As God would have it, I read the article linked above on the same day I was reminded of the unusual (to my way of thinking) age segregation of the children in my home town of Huron, SD. Apparently, one elementary school (school center) has Kindergarten through 3rd, another is a center for the 4th and 5th grades, and, if I recall correctly, the middle school is for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. Undoubtedly, good reasons have been put forth for this arrangement, and I am not now disposed to dispute the underlying assumptions. Still, I find the juxtaposition rather curious.

Getting back to the article, Pastor T.David Gordon writes about the question of how to keep our youth in the church, and whether we are asking the right question. The article, and the issue, is not about inter-generational ministry, but rather, about an increasing conformity to Jesus Christ as a community of believers.

As a side note, I appreciate that Gordon is a Presbyterian quoting Luther, lest these ideas of conservatism be misconstrued as modern fancies or Baptist eccentricities.

But how do we reach the youth?

Borrowing Spring

March may prove this day to be a brief window in the wall of winter. However brief, it was welcome. This afternoon, I looked less like the tire company’s icon made out of squishy white tires, and more like a normal guy with a gnome beard. The air was too warm, and the wind too still,  to need the extra insulation of my coveralls. Indeed, although the thermometer hovered around 20 degrees above zero, Fahrenheit, I saw melting snow on many of the flat sun spaces around me. Today was like the 7th-inning stretch in the game of baseball. A little break, a little hope, a little mood-booster, and winter will continue come February.

Even if we have to pay back this day during a fickle March or April, it was a good day to breathe. Thanks to God!

Borrowing Spring

The New Titans

I saw a line of Titans.

They marched in single file

Across the snow-packed field

And carried a load meanwhile.


Their task is Herculean

And silent as a ghost.

Their work is hardly seen,

But they serve a thankful host.


As stately as the redwoods,

Yet babes in terms of time,

A pathway for the current,

Their worth to us is prime.


We give of our resources

To keep the gift of light;

The power of a Tesla,

The magic of the night.

The New Titans

An SBC prof and a fundy pulpit (reblogged from mpriley)

Some of the readers of “From DandelionEnd” will, no doubt, see the link below as so much intramural noise. Still, I appreciated both the main post and the many gracious words of the various commenters. Thank you, Pastor Riley, and others, for your thoughtful articulation of consequential ideas.


An SBC prof and a fundy pulpit (reblogged from mpriley)