Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Category Archives: Whimsy

Second thoughts and scattered thoughts

Upon reading my last post, about my father, after I had posted it, I realize that it is an even rougher first draft than I had thought. It does altogether too much telling and not enough showing. It needs a serious rewrite, but I won’t post the rewrite. Everything I post here will need to be revised before publication and there is no use boring you by posting multiple revisions of every chapter.

Jerry Jenkins describes himself as a “pantser”, one who writes by the seat of his pants without having a clear idea in mind of where a particular story is going to take him until he is finished. That is what I am most comfortable with, but I think a memoir needs a rough outline to know what episodes in my life are worth including, and in what order. I will get back to posting further chapters of my memoir in a few days.

– When did the pronunciation of schism change? My wife and I say shizm. I have three current dictionaries of Canadian English (Oxford, Collins and Nelson-Gage) and they all say skizm. How long has that been going on? The Brits say sizm. In French it is shizm, maybe that’s where we got it. My impression is that all Canadians used to pronounce it that way, is my memory playing tricks on me?

– There is a scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her friends find a chasm barring their way. The Cowardly Lion is afraid to try jumping over it. One of the group suggests he go back and take a run at it. “But that’s not the way a cat jumps,” he responds. Indeed it isn’t. Cats have powerful muscles in their back legs and usually just crouch and leap. Our Pookie doesn’t even crouch. He is the smallest of our cats, with legs that are a little longer than most cats. He walks up to our bed , 66 cm / 26 inches high, slightly flexes his legs and he is on top of the bed. It looks like he just floats up without much effort.

– We always thought the mounds of fine rich soil in gardens, lawns, fields and pastures were the work of moles. Some folks told us there are no moles in Saskatchewan and we didn’t believe them. What else would do that? Yesterday there was an unfamiliar rodent lying dead beside our front walk, courtesy of one of our cats. It took some searching, but we discovered it is a Northern Pocket Gopher, and that they make exactly the kind of mounds we are seeing and are hardly ever seen above ground. Another lesson courtesy of our cats. There must be a whole city of these critters beneath our feet.

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Succotash

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Today is Thanksgiving in Canada and for some reason my mind drifted back to a meal we were served many years ago at a family reunion in Massachusetts.

Succotash was served at the first Thanksgiving meal at Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was prepared by people of the Narragansett tribe, from native North American vegetables that had been domesticated by the native peoples. The word is from the Narragansett language. This is the kind of food that helped the Mayflower passengers to survive until they could grow grains and other things that they were used to.

The illustration shows corn and lima beans, the two essential ingredients. Other beans can be added, plus tomatoes, green peppers and sweet red peppers, maybe some squash. These are all of North American origin. There are many recipes available on the internet, but I’m not sure a recipe is needed. Just cook until you think it is done.

Succotash is a very nutritious food with negligible amounts of sodium and fat, but tastes rather blah to a North American palate accustomed to more seasoning and spice. You can try adding some imported flavours, such as a little salt and some chopped onions. Maybe even some hot peppers, which originated farther south in North America.

Bon appetit.

How much do cats really know?

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I took Angus to the vet this morning; Angus being the middle of our three cats, officially described as domestic short hair, but mostly Siamese in temperament. He knows what’s in store when the cat carrier appears and did not enter it willingly. Once the car was moving he commenced a deep-voiced mournful wail that he repeated frequently during the 15 minute trip.

Once we got to the vet office he was quiet, probably not wanting to draw the attention of the big dog that came in just after us. Once in the examining room he willingly walked out of the carrier and quietly submitted to the attentions of the nice lady vet, including the two needles she gave him for booster shots. Then he walked back into the carrier and was reasonably quiet on the way home. He knows the drill, just likes to let us know that this is not his idea of a fun way to start the day.

Two years ago, on the way home from the vet clinic with Angus, we decided to go on to Swanson to pick up our mail. As soon as we passed the O’Malley Road corner he began an agitated wail and only calmed down when we made the right turn on our return. How did he know?

Several weeks ago, my wife mentioned that she hadn’t seen any gophers this year and wondered if there none around our acreage. The next day Angus appeared at our front door with a freshly killed gopher in his mouth. He didn’t get any further that day. The following day he managed to smuggle another freshly killed gopher into the house, gopher-888841_640.jpgwalked up to my wife seated in front of her computer, and dropped the gopher at her feet. The gift was not appreciated, but Angus had made his point – he knows more about what goes on around this acreage than we do.

Next my wife foolishly wondered if there were any mourning doves around this year, she hadn’t seen or heard any. A couple days later Angus walks across our front yard meowing loudly, or as loud as he could with his mouth full of a feathery creature. My wife dashed out, crying “No birds, Angus. No birds!” Angus dutifully opened his mouth and the mourning dove flew away. It appeared that he was more interested in show and tell than in a feather sandwich.

How did he know what she was talking about? mourning-dove-1601916_640.jpgOr are these all total coincidences?

Optimsm – Pessimism

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A pessimist fears that every silver cloud conceals a dark and foreboding lining, and says that he is just being a realist.
An optimist believes every dark cloud will have a silver lining and also says he is being realistic.
Who is right?

A pessimist looks at the increasing godlessness and wickedness of the world and sees only doom and gloom.
An optimist looks at the same things and sees a mission field.
Who is right?

A pessimist sees things that are wrong in the world and marches in the streets to get the government to do something.
An optimist sees little things to do to help others and does them.
Who is doing more to make this world a better place?

Optimism is not following our natural inclinations and impulses and trusting that everything will turn out right. But we won’t get better results if we fear that nothing will ever work out, so there is no point in even trying. We need to be doing, but we need wisdom to know what to do.

Our bodies are mature when we are 18, but our brains are not fully mature until we are 25. The last part of the brain to mature is the part that controls our impulses. We are apt to be naturally optimistic when we are young, but will have some painful encounters with reality as we mature. Perhaps that is what helps the brain mature. The ideal outcome is that we will become less impulsive, but remain optimistic.

We worry about the growth of Islam and fear that those people are immune to evangelism. Yet we hear that many Muslim people all over the world have seen a vision or had a dream of Jesus and become Christians. God is at work in every place where there are Muslims even if no missionaries can enter those lands.

The Bible tells us in different places to lift up our eyes. That implies that when we look only at circumstances at ground level we are not seeing things as God sees them. And we are not seeing God.

Solomon said “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” Is there a farmer anywhere that wakes up on a September morning, sees clouds in the sky and decides to go fishing? When it comes to our spiritual lives, how often do we go fishing (or something else, anything else) to avoid facing difficult decisions?

Optimism is not a self-help plan, it is not the power of positive thinking. An optimist is one who is ready to do what needs to be done, even if there is no guarantee of a positive outcome.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Precious memories

My cousin Dennis was born September 9, 1937, the first of six children born to Art and Katherine Goodnough. His wife called last week to tell us that his children were planning a surprise birthday party for him for his 80th birthday, last Saturday. Could we come?

I thought about it briefly, maybe half a second, and said “Of course, we’ll be there.” I had been thinking of this momentous occasion coming up, had bought a card and was wondering how or when to deliver it. Saturday we made the two and a half hour drive to Moose Jaw and joined 50 others, family and friends, to celebrate Dennis’s 80 years.

All of Dennis’s brothers came, from Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC. His sister lives in Portugal and didn’t make it. Four of his five children were there, two live in Moose Jaw, one in Alberta, one in BC and the one missing was out of the country on a business trip.

Uncle Art was my father’s brother, Aunt Katherine my mother’s sister. Our two families have always been close. Everything his brothers said about Dennis was completely familiar. None of us has ever seen him get angry, nor have we ever seen him violate a traffic law. Richard told how Dennis would always use his signal lights before making a turn, even if he was out in the middle of a 100 acre field or a thousand acre pasture.

He was always interested in others. Whenever you talked to him, his first questions were about your family. He never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings. Stan, 15 years younger, told of encountering a kangaroo on his big brother’s farm when he was just a little lad. He told Dennis about the kangaroo and Dennis said, “Well, it might have been something else that looked a lot like a kangaroo.” Some time later Stan figured out that it had been a jackrabbit.

His patience was his great strength, but at times it looked like a weakness. Jason, his youngest son, told of how his Dad taught them the importance of cleanliness and also modelled it for them. One time the family was ready to get in the car to go somewhere, they were already 20 minutes late, but Dad decided he had to have a shower first.

Jason also told of how his Dad had been a good teacher. He didn’t get angry when they didn’t do as they had been taught, but relations could get rather cool for a while. Ted, the brother next after Dennis in the family, picked up on that and said that had come from their mother. When he did something wrong his mother wouldn’t speak to him for days. Finally he would get so desperate that he would do anything, wash dishes, scrub floors, to get her to talk to him. Thinking of that later, it seems that Ted would be the one in the family who would have most often incurred this treatment from his mother. He was also the one for whom it was most apt to produce a favourable result.

Joel, Dennis’s oldest grandson and a Pentecostal preacher, was MC for the afternoon. Jeff, Dennis’s oldest son and also a Pentecostal preacher (but of a different denomination), had the prayer for the supper. The Goodnough family is a mixture of Christians of differing persuasions and others who are not Christians. We don’t get together as often as we did when we were younger and lived closer to each other, but there is still something that binds us together. I believe the tie that binds us together, at least for those of us of the older generation, is the influence of our mothers. I am not alone in thinking that, the thought was expressed a number of times on Saturday.

Moonlight Muse

Latest news from my wife!

Christine's Collection

I recently learned that it’s National Literacy Awareness Month in the US and Charlotte Digregorio, over on her blog, is encouraging haiku poets to promote this form of poetry as part of the event. So here are two of my offerings:

midnight poems
composed when sleep won’t come
only the moon is clear

every night I shed
my daytime persona
moonlight as author

cover page

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Literacy Awareness Month seems to be a great time to announce my newly-published anthology of stories and poems. Silver Morning Song celebrates the joys of the natural world as well as amusing and inspirational tales about human nature and interactions, including family relationships.

After four and a half years in the works, I can now share the good news that Silver Morning Song, only in e-book form at present, is live both on Amazon and Kobo now. Do check it out.

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Smoke gets in your eyes . . .

and your sinuses, and your throat. The forest fires in British Columbia are still burning. The smoke has wafted in other directions for the past several weeks, but yesterday and today it is back in our country. There is a blue haze in the air, accompanied by a faint aroma of burning evergreens.

Elderly people and those with respiratory allergies or impaired immune systems are advised to take precautions. I qualify on two of those counts and have been taking double doses of antihistamines all summer. We are two provinces away, imagine what it must be like in B.C.!

One side benefit (?) is that the smoke filters the sunlight and moderates our temperatures.

Other trivia from today –

I spent part of the day doing bookkeeping at the vet clinic. Then I went to check out the sale on the town square of Delisle where my daughter had a table selling Tupperware. (There would be room for debate about whether Delisle has either a downtown or a town square. The business district consists of one block, with a vacant lot at one end that serves as the town square.)

From there, I went across the street to the coffee shop to have a latte. The young lady behind the counter asked me if it had been a busy day at the vet clinic. What? I had to ask her how she knew I had been at the vet clinic. It turns out she had spent a few days there as a work ed student while in high school. Okay, the light began to dawn, I do remember seeing her there. And she made a super latte with the perfect design in the cream on top, just like you see in pictures.

Pine siskins have been mobbing our thistle seed feeder for several weeks now and the goldfinches seemed to have disappeared. Today we saw a goldfinch, but there wasn’t room for him at the feeder. I guess they have been crowded out from our feeder and are most likely going next door. We have hummingbirds fighting for a turn at our hummingbird feeder. These are the young from this year and it seems that there is always one male who is boss and won’t let the others near until he has had his fill. Nature is not all sweet peace and harmony.

Sympathy to our Friends

a tragic loss

Christine's Collection

Our sympathies go out today to our dear friends Robert and Sally, who lost their son-in-law Tyson Koehn in an accident two days ago. We also extend sympathy to his wife and the children. We lived in the same area for fifteen years, then spent two years in Montreal together with their family doing church work. So we knew Shana all her growing up years, have met Tyson, and attended their wedding. Now they have five children. I can’t imagine how devastating his sudden death must be!

There’s been quite a bit of news coverage of the death, and some variation in details. But according to what we’ve heard, the 41-year-old father took four children, his two sons and two of his sisters’ boys, out boating on Lake Erie near Kingsville. They weren’t that far from shore and his two boys got out and began to swim.

Seeing the younger…

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A parable about a parable

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. The words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 13:45-46

Renowned investigative reporter Ernest Digger has just returned from a trip to the Middle East where he was able to track down a descendant of the merchant in Jesus’ account. Here is his report:

—Joseph ben Ezra did not want me to tell where he lives, so I will just say his home is in a small mountain village. His house is small and sparsely furnished. He does not appear to be poor or rich, but able to provide for the needs of his family by weaving carpets of traditional style.

—Mr ben Ezra, I understand that you are a descendant of the pearl merchant of whom Jesus spoke?

—Yes, through the grace of God I am one of the descendants of that illustrious man.

—What can you tell us about your ancestor?

—He was a rich man, but he sold everything he had to obtain that precious pearl. Of course he could not sell that pearl, so he turned to making his living as I am doing today. He left instructions for his descendants that they should always live humbly and simply to hour God for the great gift that he had found.

—What happened to the pearl after your ancestor died?

—No one knows. It disappeared.

—He did not bequeath it to his children?

—There were mysterious words in his testament. He said that the pearl could not be given from one person to another, but each one would have to do as he did, sell everything they had to obtain the pearl.

—Have you done that?

—I am not a rich man. All that I own would be too paltry a sum to buy such a pearl.

—Has anyone in your family obtained such a pearl?

—There are stories. I once met a distant cousin who said he had such a pearl. He told me the same ridiculous story about how I could have one too. I would have to sell everything I have, even the clam shell that once contained the pearl.

— You have the original shell?

—Yes I do.

He showed me a large oyster shell, carefully wrapped in a cloth.

—So, you have the shell, but not the pearl?

—Yes, but don’t you see how beautiful it is? See how the mother-of-pearl inside almost glows. It is a beautiful and precious thing. I cannot afford the pearl, but this treasure reminds us continually of that pearl our ancestor found.

—Still, you have only the shell, not the pearl.

—But surely that is enough. Would God require me to sell the shell and everything else I have and deprive my family of their living? That would be unreasonable.

—Thank you for your time Mr. Ben Ezra.

—You are most welcome. May the peace of God be with you.

Strangely enough, I later met several relatives of Mr. Ben Ezra. Each told much the same story and each had an oyster shell that they claimed to be the original.

Missionary hymns

I think the old missionary hymns leave many of us feeling a little uneasy. Those references to carrying the gospel to every dark land  – was there a deliberate inference that lands where white people dwell are more enlightened and the lands where darker skinned people dwell are in spiritual darkness? I fear that idea seemed self-evident to white people 100 to 200 years ago.

It’s not so evident today and I think we should stop singing those hymns. I don’t believe that we should stop missionary activity, but perhaps the greater need in our day is right under our noses. While Christianity has taken root on other continents, it is in danger of being uprooted in Europe and North America.

That leads me to the other concern I have with the old missionary hymns – many of them take it for granted that missionary activity can only happen in lands that are across the ocean waves.

Churches in Nigeria have taken note of the increase of unbelief, paganism and idolatry in Europe and North America and are sending out missionaries to do what we seem to have forgotten how to do. In our nearest city, Saskatoon, three Nigerian denominations have placed missionaries and are establishing congregations.

I wonder what kind of missionary hymns they sing in Nigeria?

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