The Pope and Me

Every time I read a Hole News posted after midnight, an old maxim comes to mind: What one writes in the dark of night one must proof by morning light. Typos lurk in the shadows.

Northland friend Kathy Broman emailed a question:  “Is he saying what you say?”  She referred to a speech by Pope Francis reaffirming long-held Catholic beliefs that evolution is not “inconsistent” with Creation: “When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything.…” I read the whole speech and answered Kathy:

Yes, the good pope said what I say, but in prettier language. I say God lit the big bang and built into what followed everything necessary to fulfill his purpose.

I believe the entire universe developed incrementally—evolved. Galaxies, stars (Sun), planets (Earth). And I agree fully with Pope Francis: studying God’s creation is worship. I call it reading God’s other book.

Scientists who deny God’s existence must attribute to Nature what we attribute to God, making Nature their god.  Both atheist and theist must account somehow for the staggering complexity and diversity of the universe.

We must stop thinking of Creator God as a super-human engineer in a lab coat manipulating a cosmic computer. God’s person, power, and ways are beyond knowing, hence the Incarnation.

One issue lies behind the Bible-versus-science debate: the nature of the Genesis creation account: literal or figurative? Most theologians through history believed the account to be figurative. Think parable. Think Jesus. “And God said” involved far more than bare words.

The Genesis stories reveal process: chaos to order, darkness to light. Sky, sea, land, vegetation, creatures, and man appear in sequence. Man from dust (pre-existing material); woman from a rib. Beautiful stories for people whose cosmos was what they could see from where they stood.

I believe God built into the initial creative burst all there would ever be. I believe he gave creation stories to ancient mankind using the only form there was to preserve and share information—stories. And I believe God built into his creation circumstances and forces that one day will usher in a new heaven and earth.

The comforting fact: God has a plan, and we are part of it.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Don’t Bore Me with the Facts

In the Mattson house words mattered. Good diction was next to godliness. I can still hear my dad’s frequent exasperated outburst, “Don’t mumble!”

I and my siblings weren’t especially literary, but we read our share of age appropriate books starting with The Bobbsey Twins adventures and advancing to The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries. The bookmobile came to our neighborhood in the summer and we each took out the 5 books allowed every two weeks. I believe we finished most of them.

Television, though less noble wasn’t restricted, but with only two channels pickings were slim and scant distraction from the latest adventure Frank and Joe Hardy or Nancy Drew were up to. We read just about everywhere; inside, outside, while riding in the car, but mostly at night in bed until we were ordered to turn the light out. Then we went under the covers with a flashlight.

All those words spoken or read back there mostly told stories. I seldom read for information. I’m after the good story well told. I can look up all the facts imaginable with Google, but until facts are put into sensible words that excite the imagination they remain as dull and lifeless as the oft ridiculed lists we had to memorize in school.

Dad’s insistence that we not mumble is the root of my fascination with stories—reading and writing them. I’ve just figured out why. Dull, unimaginative writing is equivalent to talking so you can’t be understood.

One more debt I owe my Dad,
Young Grandpa Keith

Face Book, Book Group, and Remembering

For far too long I shied away from Facebook, fearing the old-dog-new tricks thing. Well, this old dog has a lot more to learn, but learn he will. The Bible/bones and Lloyd/Norma photos I posted drew a bunch of likes and comments and added new Hole News readers. Tonight I tossed in a three-year-old wearing a hat, rompers, and grin. I still have the grin.

Yesterday our Woodland Garden book group discussed Barbara Kingsolver’s Bean Trees, which led me to Amazon it’s the sequel, Pigs in Heaven. I fell off the wagon. I one-clicked the book, but for a good cause. It will find its way to our library.

Tuesday afternoon I visited Chris Jensen Care Facility, where son Kevin was entertaining. As I enjoyed his music in the dining area, a surge of emotion surprised me. I scanned the riders of chrome chariots surrounding me, many younger than I. I remembered the long, dark hospital nights just over a year before when I feared I might spend the rest of my life among them.

Then I remembered  my 16 months with Elsie at Christ Jensen, feeding her, watching her fade. And I recalled visits with high school sweetheart Barb, brightening her dreary days. Two months ago Kevin and I led her memorial service in the adjacent chapel.

I remembered the longest six weeks of my life and heartless Chris Jensen therapists made me do things I couldn’t. Two sweet caregivers from those weeks stopped by my table with warm hugs. I walked to the coffee urn without my cane, humbled and grateful.

I would welcome new Facebook friends.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Tooth, the Whole Tooth, Nothing But the Tooth

Many thanks to Hole News friends who have requested How Do You Know That’s a Tooth?. On a whim, I put the cover photo on Facebook. It turned out huge. I should know better than to mess with such stuff. Thanks, Keith, for the photo and Photoshop trickery.

One friend asked my address to send a gift for the Wordshed Mission. 127 E Calvary Road #301, Duluth MN 55803. Write checks to Lloyd Mattson. Believe me, gifts are appreciated. I stuck my neck out for 5,000 bucks for the Tooth project. But history gives me confidence.

Since 2002, friends have given over $100,000 to meet Wordshed production costs, enabling us send out over 32,000 print books and 1,500 audio books, all for free. The Tooth will be our final print book. Check occasionally for new Wordshed eBooks.

Final reminder. I invite Northlanders to Emmanuel Baptist in Duluth Heights Sunday evening November 9 at 6:30 for great country music and the Tooth book story. Every family will get a free copy and opportunity to share in its cost. Genuine Baptist coffee and goodies will follow. I promise a lively evening.

Hole News readership keeps growing as we wrap up year six. Quite amazing. I have gained dear friendships. Responses always bless me and son Keith, my blog partner.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


The View from the Parking Lot

I drove through the Smokey Mountain National Park, about 35 miles each way. I started in Cherokee, NC at about 1100 feet. The road climbs to over 5000 feet and back down to 1100 feet in Gatlinburg, TN. To a flatlander like me these are impressive numbers. Those of you that live in or near the mountains can smile at my naivety, but you won’t diminish my excitement.

If you stick to the main highway you reach 5000 feet, but If you take the seven mile side road to the trail to Clingman’s Dome you climb to 6200+ feet, just about the highest elevation in the in the park. If you are ambitious you can walk the steep half mile trail up another 400 feet to second highest point east of the Mississippi, 6643 feet. There is a mountain in South Caroling that beats it by about a hundred feet. I settled for the view from the parking lot.

Smoky Mountains


Young Grandpa Keith

Tooth Truth

bones pic backgrnd framed

Fifty-two years after Camping Guideposts, my first book, appeared, my last print title has come to life, How Do You Know That’s a Tooth?.

The Wordshed Mission has been my publishing venue since I took early retirement in 1986. Five e-Books are still in the works, but How Do You Know That’s a Tooth? wraps up the paperback parade. Email your address to mattson.lloyd1 at and I’ll send you a copy.

If you can kick in ten bucks, I’ll appreciate it. The project will eat about $5,000 for 1,000 copies. I rely on vision-sharing friends for funding help. We give away the books as  mission outreach. My next Hole News post will tell the improbable Wordshed story.

If you live in the Northland and are free Sunday evening, November 9, drop by Emmanuel Baptist, 1505 Eklund Avenue in Duluth Heights, at 6:30. Kevin and his 12-string will lead an evening of great country music, band, chorus, and all. I’ll introduce How Do You Know That’s a Tooth? and give a signed copy to every family. I’ll tell the tooth/truth story (photo above) and play my heavenly harmonica, if the band will let me.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Honorary Grandpa

Last Friday, Norma and I sat in the Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School gym in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Casually-dressed folks packed the bleachers as grade by grade the students formed a semi-circle on the floor. A dozen young boys trouped in toting a rolled-up carpet. Older students filed in carrying classroom chairs.  Norma’s grandson Ethan jiggled and grinned among his fourth-grade comrades. Grandparents Day festivities were about to begin. I was a proud to be an honorary grandpa.

The fifth and sixth grade string orchestra took their places to kick off the program—every class member with an instrument. I sat back to endure—I’ve heard young musicians before. The first notes brought me up straight. Whoa! This wasn’t Twinkle, Twinkle. The kids played serious music and played well, setting the tone for a remarkable morning.

Waldorf education is based on the vision of Rudolf Steiner, Austrian-born philosopher and theologian. Instruction is student-centered rather than subject/grade-centered, recognizing the varying developmental pace among children. A unique feature: teachers move through the grades with their students. Multi-layered learning units engage the whole person, head, hands, and heart.

Norma and I spent the morning with Ethan’s fourth grade class. We trekked to an outdoor area to inspect a sturdy, student-built playhouse, every board measured, squared, and sawed by hand. The kids had constructed and erected proper roof trusses. “Lots of bent nails,” said one student.  We observed the Eurythmy session, contemplative movement blending mind, spirit, and will, followed by circle games.

The broad Waldorf curriculum captured my interest.  In addition to basic language, math, and social skills, the students explore world cultures and religions as the move through the grades. They focus on understanding life rather than simply memorizing dates, places, and events. Each Waldorf school adapts its curriculum to the local community. Parent involvement is required. I greatly enjoyed Grandparents Day at Pleasant Ridge.

To learn more about Waldorf education, go to

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Mountain Stood Exalted in its Place*

People speak of conquering a mountain when all they’ve done is climbed up or skied down it. What they have accomplished is not the subduing of a mountain, but the inflation of their egos. The mountain is not diminished by human contact. The mountain tolerates us and our bent for civilization, but it is a not always a friendly host.

Early settlers took all the sparse flat spots long ago. Latecomers level their own spots to build houses or open businesses. A few hours’ drive on the winding roads carved into the mountainside takes you past the abandoned homesteads and failed enterprises of those the mountain has rejected.

The mountains remain pretty much as they have been for eons and likely will for eons more.

Such were my thoughts while looking over this vast expanse.

View from 3000 feet

View from 3000 feet

Young Grandpa Keith

* Closing line of Robert Frost’s “Moon Compasses”

Mountain Views

I have returned to North Carolina where everywhere is either up, down, or around from where I am at any given moment. You have to drive a long way to find a mile stretch of level straight road. Staying on your side of the centerline is always wise, but on these roads it’s a matter of life and death. Nevertheless, thousands of tourists crowd the narrow winding roads in their RV’s to enjoy the fall color and jam the sidewalks of the towns that do everything they can to get them to stop, shop, and eat.

I’ll do my share of stopping, shopping, and eating this week. But I’ll also hike to some waterfalls and look for photo ops. Here are the first few.

Rhodes Big View

Rhodes Big Fall View

Another View

A shot taken along the way to North Carolina. I believe I was still in Georgia when I took this.

Mountain Lake

A Mountain Lake

Young Grandpa Keith