Charlie Amorphous and Inheritancy

Charlie Amorphous showed up looking glum. Hey, Charlie; what’s up? Oh, Molly’s raggin’ on me again. What you wrote on inheritancy bugged some folks in her church. You sure that wasn’t inerrancy, Charlie?  Whatever. She claims you don’t believe the Bible means exactly what it says.

Whoa! I totally believe the Bible as God gave it. I just don’t buy every interpretation that comes down the pike. Tell Molly and her friends I believe the Bible means what it meant to its first readers—listeners, mostly. Hardly anyone could read when the Bible got started. They had nothing to read.

The Bible is really old, Charlie. Everything had to be hand-written, mostly on long leather scrolls and mostly in Hebrew and Greek, tough languages. Forty or so people wrote off and on for some 1,600 years, their words copied again and again.

About 60 scrolls make up our Bible. They never came together as one book until Johannes Gutenberg invented printing in the 1,400s A.D. The first book off his press was a fancy, expensive Latin Bible.Our King James English version didn’t show up for another 200 years.

Lots of stuff happened to the original words before they reached us, Charlie. Then the writings had to be translated into different languages–always tricky. Today, we have a hundred or more English translations, all slightly different. After that, Bible teachers took to telling what they thought the Bible verses meant. Each teacher had their own slant. Some pretty wild. Claiming every word in a translation is exactly right—inerrant—has to be a stretch

The way I see it, Charlie, to get at the truth of scripture, you have to read it in its historical setting. Then you must deal with the nature of language. Jesus taught in parables, stories with a point. The Old Testament has parables—stories—too. Not every Bible word was meant to be taken literally.

Hold on, said Charlie. You lost me long ago.  I had no idea the Bible was so complicated.  Soon as Molly cools down, I’ll bring her over to talk with you.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Water and Fire

“Ships are safest in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.”

That quote–or something like it–caught my ear as I listened to Pastor Tom Asbury on the Eastridge Community Church website sharing the congregation’s vision as it moves into its risk-taking, community-minded building plan—two to three million bucks. The ship does not fear leaving the harbor.

Eastridge holds particular interest for me. The congregation evolved from old Bethel Baptist at 9th Avenue East and 3rd Street, where Pastor Bill Tapper baptized me in 1938, rescuing me from Lester Park Methodist. It’s a long story. I’ll spare you the details.

In six short years Lester Park Methodist shaped my life, from age nine to fifteen. Troop 18, the Scout cabin. Lucy Watson and the Junior Oxford League (I got to be president). Red Rock Camp Meeting with its old- fashioned Holiness Methodist preaching where I knelt at an altar to receive Christ. The abundant Baptist waters never quenched the Methodist fire Red Rock kindled in my soul. I’m grateful.

I’m not knocking my ancestral church—well, maybe I am. The vision and theology of those days were narrow, closed. I’m blest to witness Eastridge opening its heart and building to the community.

For an overview of church life as I think it ought to be, check out www.eastridgechurchduluth.com. Maybe drop in for a visit.

Thanks Pastor Tom for putting me onto Peter Enns’ The Sin of Certainty. I’m only at page 28, but Dr. Enn’s story eerily traces my journey from old Bethel Baptist. If you find yourself wrestling with what you really believe, beyond the faith of your fathers, get that book. If you don’t like it, I’ll buy it.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Charlie and Molly; The PhD and Me

I’m expecting Charlie Amorphous to show up soon.  I understand he’s hassling with Molly again. That’s bound to happen when a farm boy woos a socialite.  I’ll let you know the problem.

Was a time Clyde Rogers, the Sage of Juniata Street, was my main economic hazard. Today, Tom Asbury attacked from Facebook. He is lead pastor at Eastridge Community, a sister congregation half a mile up the road from my beloved Emanuel Baptist. Tom’s Facebook entry this morning referenced The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs, by Peter Enns. I googled the book and scanned its contents and the first pages with Amazon Prime lurking nearby. The book should show up Friday.

Peter Enns, PhD echoes my unscholarly experience as questions began to creep in concerning my tribe’s for-sure doctrines. I found myself wavering then I plunged over the edge. Now some old friends fear I have departed the faith. I’ll tell you what I find in Dr. Enn’s book and how it squares with my ever-deepening faith.

How good to hear the frogs singing from our backyard ponds! The mallards called out to Norma, the corn lady and today she yielded. The ducks are happy. Our redwing blackbirds have returned; a robin is scoping out territory.

This is a great place to live: no earthquakes or deadly floods; rarely a tornado; and plenty of winter between springs to heighten our joy.  I love my Woodland Garden home.

Son Keith reports good results from his recent colon cancer surgery.  He will forsake Florida for his Ohio home in early May to crank up precautionary chemo.  We look forward to Young Grandpa Keith’s photos and stories from Sandy Ridge Reservation.

Welcome to a bunch of new Hole News friends, many from Facebook.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

Gospel Gurus and Galileo

This item in the Writer’s Almanac recently caught my eye. “It was on this (April) day in 1633 that Galileo Galilei was put on trial by the Inquisition for supporting the theory that the Earth revolves around the sun. In late April 1633, Galileo agreed to plead guilty and was sentenced to an unlimited period of house arrest in his home in Florence. He gradually went blind and died in 1641. It wasn’t until 1992 that the Catholic Church formally admitted that Galileo’s views on the solar system are correct.”

Galileo’s crime: he wrote that the earth revolved around the sun, a fact demonstrated by the improved telescope he had developed. The Catholic hierarchy and Martin Luther among other reformers scorned Galileo’s view, based on a literal interpretation of Joshua 10:12: “On that day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon” If the sun didn’t move, they argued, how could Joshua command it to stand still?  Other issues entered the debate, but biblical literalism formed the heart of the Church’s charge.

An Earth-centered solar system had been proposed long before Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo, but Galileo produced solid evidence, which the Church refused even to consider.

The Bible-versus-science controversy raises the same issue today. The debate is really about the nature of the Scriptures. The tribal (church) mindset claims absolute truth and you jolly well better accept it. Some science gurus take the same truth position we are not obligated to knuckle under to either of them.

When a person who takes the first chapters of Genesis literally tells me the Universe is not billions of years old, but God just made it to look that way, I remember Galileo.

Does is matter in the everyday swim? Maybe not. Galileo, to save himself from torture and execution, confessed error and wasted away in house arrest through his remaining years. Doesn’t sound like something Jesus would do to a man.

I think today’s gospel gurus have more to learn about the nature of God’s blessed book.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

Love: Ecosystem of the Soul

Let’s talk about love, an abused, over-used, soiled word. It exists in several familiar phases.

You’re sitting in the mall catching your breath. People file by, all sizes and kinds. You love people. An acquaintance appears; you smile and lift a hand. You love acquaintances. A close friend spots you. You exchange brief pleasantries. You really love friends.  Finally, a super special friend approaches, one of a handful in your life. You leap to your feet, pump his or her hand, maybe you hug.  Warmth buzzes in your heart—you sense a richer, different kind of love.

We need a name for that love. Compassion is a kind of love. Love of mate and family owns its own niche. But special friendship—I don’t know what else to call it—brings unique texture to your senses leading to wholeness of spirit. It deserves its own identity.

Occasionally, even in old age, such love can grow and grab you by the throat. See my Facebook page

You can’t generate special friendship; it just happens, a mysterious bond with  shared interests, trust, and integrity that impinges on no other loves. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, there’s no use trying to explain.

I am blessed with many cherished friends, but I cherish most three special friends: two men, one woman. See my Facebook page for the Woodland Garden miracle and a special friend who grew.

I have a theory: Creator God, who holds the universe in his palm, tends to his creatures’ smallest need, giving them everything necessary for wholeness. To each person he gives a small corner in which to serve, and special friends to sustain them, bringing a kind of love like no other.

I’m so grateful for God’s ecosystem of the soul, and my special friends.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Charlie Amorphous: Just Keep Walking

Charlie Amorphous here. Remember me? Mr. Lloyd’s friend?  I stopped by to see how he was doing after what he called his medical sabbatical. What the heck is a sabbatical? He was bright as a penny–well, 92 pennies. He said they moved his porta potty from the right side to the left. I don’t understand those medical terms.

As you know, Mr. Lloyd has weird ideas about church and stuff. We talk a lot about that. He says the only way anyone can serve God is to serve people. Don’t sound right, coming from a long-time preacher. I asked what he meant. He said, religion was OK, but that for us, and he quoted an old saying he made up (he does that a lot): “If you walk with God, you get there he’s going.”

I could tell he was about to crank up a sermon, so I interrupted. What does that mean? How can you figure out what God want’s done? You can’t, Mr. Lloyd said, you just keep walking and see what turns up. Then he told me a story.

Late one evening he sat alone in the dayroom just outside his rehab room.  A woman padded up in her wheelchair. He knew her. She and her husband of 58 years sat at his dining room table. Can we talk? she said. The woman broke down. I don’t know how I can go on. I see no end. My  husband’s stroke…I’m so tired. Mr. Lloyd took her hands and listened. Finally he said, Remember Jesus’ words, my strength is made perfect in weakness? You’re going to be OK. God loves you; family and friends love you; and I love you. I’ll be here a few days. We can talk whenever you want. The woman smiled. Thank you! I just need someone to talk to. The next morning she told Mr. Lloyd her husband had said; I haven’t seen you so happy in a long time.

Get the point, Charlie? Remarkable timing–my move to rehab.

Charlie amorphous, with a little help from Old Grandpa Lloyd

Pilgrim Lloyd’s Progress III

Hello Friends.

Grandpa LLoyd is out of the hospital and in rehab at lovely Ecumen-Lakeshore here in Duluth. I haven’t been able to visit him for the past few days due to my vicious bout of some sort of cold or flu. But reports from other visitors are that he is looking great and he’s in great spirits. His appetite is back and he’s been able to move himself from bed to chair with no assistance, though I doubt that has been approved by the staff. Not to worry, Dad is extremely cautious to keep from injury. Dating a wild Lutheran seems to be great tonic for his body, soul, and common sense.

I hope to get LLoyd’s laptop to him soon, so you can expect to hear from him as well. Once again, thanks for all the kind thoughts, words, and deeds on my father’s behalf!

Baby Grandpa Kevin

Pilgrim Lloyd’s Progress II

This is Kevin writing. Lloyd is feeling much better after a couple of long nights. I guess if they open up your belly and slosh things around, one is bound to feel a little queasy. But an NG tube relieved some backed up drain sorts of things and last night, LLoyd says, he slept better than he has in a long time.

Today (Saturday March 26) he was sitting up in a chair when I visited and was looking and chatting with me like his old self. If progress goes as expected, Lloyd will be released to rehab on Monday.

Again Lloyd sends love and more thanks for all the gracious notes and prayers.

Baby Grandpa Kevin

Pilgrim Lloyd’s Progress

Hi Friends,

This is Kevin Mattson, Lloyd’s baby, who has several grandchildren himself. So I sign this in advance: “Baby Grandpa Kevin.”

Lloyd is doing very well in the hospital after a fairly major surgery to repair his colostomy. He’s suffering his usual post-surgical loss of appetite, but the pain is manageable, he says, as long as they don’t make him blow into that “infernal plastic thing” to test his lungs. He refuses and substitutes vigorous harmonica playing—to the delight of the staff.

They won’t release him until his GI tract is flowing properly, and he can get about reasonably. Sometime this weekend, maybe, they’ll ship him to rehab at another facility. I set up a satellite computer so he can keep in touch when he’s up to it.

Lloyd sends his love and deep thanks for all the prayers and good wishes. I’ll keep you all posted, and relay messages and emails to him.

All the very best to all of you.

Baby Grandpa Kevin