About grandpalloyd

Somewhat retired and approaching old age; as content and fulfilled as ever I have been in my 92 years.

Connect the Dots

I love my life at Woodland Garden; the setting, the ambiance, my fellow residents (56 women, 8 men), the girl from 313.  I even love the sleepless hours when my cogitator kicks in.  I often ponder the process that continually sweetens my life, in spite of gathering years.  Take this sequence:

About 25 years ago, Abe Thomas contacted me for permission to reprint a for-fun piece I had written for a harmonica newsletter. Abe hosted a large online group of Suzuki QChord players. I had written about jilting sweetheart Omni for her younger sister, Suzy Q.

I learned about the Omnichord and QChord from son Joel, who used them in his Songs and Legends of Alaska show in Fairbanks. He gave me his back-up Omnichord, and I found it worked really well with my harmonica. Soon after, the QChord upgrade came out, which occasioned the newsletter piece.

Abe Thomas held the online sales franchise for the instruments, and I joined his QChord group. There I met Jackie McBride, a gifted blind woman who had created a QChord manual for the sight-impaired.   I wrote her up in the Hole News, then a daily group email with 250 readers. Jackie said, Lloyd, you’re wearing yourself out. Let me set up a Hole News website. I didn’t know she was a webmaster pro.

All this came to mind recently when Abe showed up on my Facebook page.  Connect the dots: Joel, Abe, Jackie. No wonder life gets better and better for this harmonica-honking geezer, who lives at Woodland Garden.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Secondhand Faith

Two times two is four. Gravity is real. Nobody doubts. Lay out four apples by twos and count. Roll one off the table and it hits the floor, every time.  You need not know Calculus or the science of gravity to prove simple math and physics.

But how about beliefs, concepts we hold true? Here’s a parable from my youth:

I was a Boy Scout fresh from a fieldtrip to learn about poison ivy. We examined several growths and our Scoutmaster pointed out of the identifying marks. I knew poison ivy.  One day our family visited my aunt’s small farm. When we arrived, she warned us to stay away from a bushy vine climbing a fence near the driveway–poison ivy, she said. I took one look then ripped an armful off the fence. Alarmed, Aunty ordered me to the bathroom to wash with Fels-Naptha soap, a household poison ivy remedy. My protests did no good. Someone told Aunty the vine was poison ivy and she believed him.

That’s how we build our faith, beginning in childhood. We believe people we trust and generally live among people who believe like us. But what if the people we trusted were wrong?

Too few of seriously consider the source of our faith. We live with secondhand beliefs.Encounters during seminary years (’44-’47) led me to question aspects of my faith. That questioning continues. I want to own my faith, to know why I believe what I believe. I’m still learning, but now the faith I draw on day by day is mine.

Could I be wrong? Sure. But I have a reason for the hope that is in me.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Watch Your Tongue #2

It’s a Fact: you can’t translate Language A into Language B without understanding how A’s first readers understood the message. Simply finding equivalent words won’t do, as “Tongue” in today’s title illustrates. Tongue has many definitions.  A thousand years from now, how would a translator deal with “watch your tongue?”

The manager of a small commercial airport received an FAA directive to fence off the runway. He sent a note to his maintenance man and left on vacation. On his return, the manager found not the six-foot chain link barrier he had pictured, but lovely white picket fence with geranium beds.

I studied Hebrew and Greek in seminary. Hebrew barely took, but I gained a fair grasp of Greek syntax and grammar, enough to use the study tools. I soon learned English has no one-word equivalent of the subtleties of Greek tenses and prepositions. Hebrew’s sparse vocabulary encumbers many words with multiple meanings, depending on the setting. Greek’s has a vast vocabulary, contributing many words to English.

A preacher friend latched onto “power” in Romans 1:16: “the power of God unto salvation.” We borrowed that power to name dynamite. Declared my friend repeatedly, God’s word is an explosive force! That’s Bible abuse.

Languages change over time. Consider what happened to English since Shakespeare. What language did Moses employ to record his early history of the Hebrews? What language did the Hebrews speak through their 400 years in Egypt and 400 years under the Judges? They still lived as independent tribes.

Scripture writers followed literary rules of their time, employing normal literary devices, including non-literal figures of speech. Then came layer after layer of human copying and editing before finally reaching us. The Bible is an anthology. The 66 segments were never designed to form one book.

The Old Testament promised a Redeemer; the New Testament recorded the fulfilment of that promise. We worship the Living Word, not the written word.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Watch Your Tongue #1 Revisiting Charlie Amorphous

Yesterday, National Public Radio aired an hour-long discussion that set me to thinking. The gist: Every language reflects its culture, and you can’t translate from one language to another apart from the cultural setting. That has enormous implications for how we view the Bible.

Later in the day, an old Charlie Amorphous Hole News showed up on Facebook. It dealt with Bible inerrancy. I took that as an omen.  Here’s an edited repeat of that post. We’ll see where it leads:

Hey Charlie, what’s up? Oh, Molly’s raggin’ me again, and it’s your fault. You wrote about inheritancy. Now Molly claims you don’t believe the Bible. You sure that wasn’t inerrancy, Charlie?  I believe the Bible means what it meant to its first readers, and we don’t know a whole lot about how those readers viewed their world.

The Bible began in the late Bronze Age and continued for about 1600 years. Forty more authors, writing in Hebrew, Aramaic, and some Greek, put their words on long leather scrolls or papyrus, paper made from an Egyptian reed. Scribes hand-copied these writings over and over. Scholars eventually gathered the writings together, but the first single-volume Bible waited for  Johannes Gutenberg to invent moveable type;mid-1400s A.D. First major book off Gutenberg’s press was a huge, fancy Latin Bible.

A lot of stuff happened to the Bible’s original words before they reached you and me. Claiming inerrancy is a stretch. Translating requires more than matching words; some words have no precise match in other languages. We have over 100 English versions, all a tad different. Bible teachers tell us what they think the Bible means, each with a different slant.

Toss in figures of speech, a literary device in all languages. Jesus taught in parables; so did Old Testament writers. Inerrant truth taught through non-literal language.

Hold on, said Charlie, you lost me. Soon as Molly cools down, I’ll bring her over to talk with you.

I’ll pick up on the theme next time.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


The Golden Crown

On a lonely night, the old man turned
To the shelf that held his treasure;
Wonders, tears, friends of past years,
And one gift of worth beyond measure:
A crown come late, a source of joy
Lit the shelf with a golden sheen,
The old man’s glowing, growing love
For the girl from 313.

Happy, happy birthday, dear Norma.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Go With the Flow Gospel


It’s midnight. I lie awake studying my cluttered, over-crowded living room. Getting ready for a new bed, I cleared everything loose from the bedroom/study so neighbor Jim could shampoo the carpet. A powerful comeuppance grips me. Had I got my druthers that winter of 2011-’12, this is how I would have been living the past five years. I tell the story whenever I find opportunity.

Oh, what I would have missed!

The experience taught me the go-with-the-flow gospel. I no longer fuss over seeking God’s will. I pick any direction that seems to make sense and walk on, assured my Heavenly Guide will manage the direction. I will never leave you or forsake you, he said. Whatever you do, don’t bug God when you don’t get your druthers.

Sound like heresy? I promise this: Tend to your walk; the Heavenly Guide will set the direction. My slogan never fails: Walk with God and you’ll get where he’s going.

Works every time.

Old Grandpa Lloyd





Pout Power: High Maintenance Love

You would think at 93 I would be impervious to womanly wiles, but suddenly I became aware of the power of a well-timed pout.
It began with book pouts. Just a faint tremble of the lower lip. We really need this book for the library. Before I knew it, a copy came from Uncle Amazon. Buy-with-one-click is deadly.
With Easter looming, morning talk drifted to double-smoked ham (no water). My phone automatically punched up Stokkie Meats’ We’ll pick up the ham Good Friday.
A while back, the Girl from 313 watched a film clip showing seniors playing Ping Pong. With the faintest lip-tremble she said, wouldn’t it be great if our Woodland Garden rec room had a folding table? Help me out, Northlanders. If anyone has a folding Ping Pong table gathering dust in the basement or garage, give me a call: 218-216-3237. Think how blest you’ll feel cheering up 60-plus oldsters, not to mention the guy from 301.
Then, the pout that out-powered my imagination. We watched the National Geographic sand hill crane migration film. A far-off, dreamy stare set in along with severe lip-trembling. Though my love for the Girl from 313 reaches far, it can’t quite carry us to North Platte, Nebraska. The ensuing sigh near broke my heart.
Old age and poverty bring circumstances that out reach even the most powerful pout thus my nightly suppers are not in jeopardy. In fact, they come right after Jeopardy and the news.
Old Grandpa Lloyd

Tattoos of Our Tribe: A Note to Friend Debbie

“We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
I’ve lived with Holmes’ words a long time, Deb. You know my theology: Mystery, Sovereign Grace (all we have is given freely by God) and Incarnation.
I believe Jesus is who he said he was—Creator God become human to teach us all we are capable of knowing about Deity. How come I believe that while others do not? We’re back to Holmes’ quote. That’s what I was taught! Can I prove the Incarnation? Course not. But if it works for me, I have good reason to believe it.
Paul wrote that Jesus loved the church (his bride) he gave himself up for her. Divine love is yielding self-interest for the needs of others. That’s the gospel I try to follow. If in the end I prove to be wrong, what have I lost? I’m enjoying life more at 93 than I ever have; though cash poor, I abound in the only wealth there is—a friend like you.
Old Grandpa Lloyd

One Last Time

I had a brief Facebook brush-up recently over blind tribal loyalty then discussing theological issues. I backed off. Discussion becomes impossible when one side holds its viewpoint to be absolute truth.

You can’t do theology apart from history, as the story of two early scholars points out: Galileo (1654-1642 and Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543.

In 1633, Pope Urban VIII summoned Galileo to Rome to face heresy charges. He had been arguing with the Church about its teaching that the Earth was the center of the universe, the sun, moon, and stars all revolving around it. The Church quoted Aristotle and Ptolemy as well as the Bible to make its point, declaring any other view to be heretical, implying that Earth did not hold a central place in God’s creation.

Galileo had studied Copernicus theory that Planet Earth was not even the center of the solar system, let alone the whole universe. Galileo wrote a book, “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems,” which led him to the Inquisitors. Found guilty of heresy, he was ordered to recant. Galileo chose to save his skin. He wrote: “Therefore, desiring to remove from the minds of your Eminences, and of all faithful Christians, this vehement suspicion, justly conceived against me, with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies, and generally every other error, heresy, and sect whatsoever contrary to the said Holy Church, and I swear that in the future I will never again say or assert, verbally or in writing, anything that might furnish occasion for a similar suspicion regarding me.”

Galileo spent the rest of his life under house arrest in his villa in Arcetri near Florence. His book was placed on the Church’s Index of Forbidden Books, where it remained until 1835. It took the Church 350 years to publically dismiss Galileo’s heresy charge.

Fit that into your thinking where you will. I’ll stay out of the battle, but I’m grateful I see not the slightest conflict between true faith and true science.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

A Good, Faithful Servant Goes Home

After 99 years of faithful service, Cousin Lester Mattson died. He spent his last years blinded by macular desecration.

I remember Lester and his brother Freddie, closest cousins to my age in the Mattson clan, from childhood years in Duluth. When Elsie and I built Whiteface Woods in Cotton in the 70s, Lester became our pastor at Cotton Covenant.

Lester filled various roles with the St. Louis County engineering staff, serving the church part time. But he and wife Edie served far more than part time.

I recall driving home to Whiteface Woods one afternoon and coming upon a car upside down in a deep, wet ditch. Lester knelt in the water, holding up a woman’s head to keeping her from drowning while directing others to leverage back the front seat with a come-along Lester carried in his car. He freed the woman before the ambulance arrived.

A community-wide memorial will be held in Cotton this summer, and a time of remembering April 1 at Primrose Apartments, Duluth, where Lester lived out his years. . Northlanders are invited. Lester’s pastor, Dave Mork of Emmanuel Baptist, will lead. The service will begin at 10:00 A.M.

Old Grandpa Lloyd