Archive for April, 2008

More Tim Keller

Posted in Christianity, Identity, Ministry, religion with tags , , , on April 24, 2008 by Robaigh

Posting this before I’ve actually watched it.  I don’t know how much it overlaps with the last Keller video I posted.  Hopefully not over much.



Posted in Christianity, Ministry with tags , , on April 23, 2008 by Robaigh

Hi! I’ve been out. Sorry about that. First, my mother-in-law was in town, helping us get our house ready to put on the market, which actually *did* result in a lot of cleaning, etc., but which also resulted in making the house more difficult than usual to navigate. Consequently, I couldn’t physically get to the computer had I even had the time to do so. After that I got sick for about 3 days. It wasn’t until yesterday that I actually got back online at home. (Believe me, it was difficult to NOT check this site from work, but I resisted.)

Anyway, I’m back. Thanks to Clark and to Brooksrobinson for stopping by to make sure I wasn’t dead on the highway or anything like that.

I haven’t been totally inactive in my absence from hetoimazo-world. I finished NT Wright’s book, got a bit of reading done in an interesting little tome called Becoming a Pastor, heard a good sermon drawing an analogy between California’s Pacific Highway 1 and the road to heaven, had a theological discussion (about Job, no less) with an old friend who has been an atheist (according to him, though he sent hints that things might be otherwise) for years, had some insights into life problems with my layschool partner, received some exciting food for thought regarding a ministerial direction for me in seminary, got registered to attend my Synod Assembly in June, made an unexpected and heart-breakingly positive impact on a young person in my extended circle of associates, and unwittingly served as a witness to a work colleague who made my impact on him known late last week. So, I haven’t been slacking. 🙂

We’re still working on market-readying the house, and I’ve got some prep work to do for my final pre-seminary candidacy meeting, so I don’t know how much I’ll check in over the next few days, but I’ll be back around when I can. In the meantime, here I am, now entertain me! 🙂



Plain? Absolutely. Simple? That’s another question.

Posted in Christianity, church, Counter-culture, God, Identity, Jesus, religion with tags , , , , on April 4, 2008 by Robaigh

I just went over to the Theos Project website and ran across this post about the Amish and a bunch of really interesting comments.  The post speaks for itself, so I won’t rehash the themes too terribly much here.

I have a keen interest in Amish culture, having lived and worked for about 1.5 years in their vicinity in east-central Illinois.  My interest doesn’t consist of an appreciation of their “quaintness” or anything like that.  With my (albeit limited) exposure to Amish folks, I quickly came to realize that, while they are an intentional community of people striving for an ideal, they are nonetheless people.  That means that they are fallible, susceptible to the same temptations that the rest of us are, and all that stuff.  That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that Amish teens “pimp out” their buggies in the years leading up to their baptism, that they sneak away and flirt with (and often overindulge in) “worldly” pursuits such as sex, alcohol, drugs, rock & roll, etc.

I’m interested in the Amish because – like any culture one can look at somewhat objectively – they’re really, really interesting.  While I lived in Illinois, I did some work with an Amish guy who gave up farming in the 1950s in order to run a small engine repair business.  His eldest son decided not to join the community, but instead became a Mennonite and runs a trucking business in a near-by farm.  I’ve met a guy who used to build frame barns – the stereotypically Pennsylvania-German frame barns, using hewn timbers, mortise and tenons, and that whole schmear.  That guy was the last one in the community to have been actively engaged in that type of construction.  He was also used by the US government during WWII as a guinea pig in various medical experiments, which was a fate common among Amish conscientious objectors at the time.  I’ve met an Amish inventor who had just written a book on electronics and was working on a translation of the text from English into Hochdeutsch for sale in Europe.  I met a woman who makes and sells quilts and another lady, a re-married widow, who together with her second husband has 100 grand- and great-grandchildren.  I met horse farmers, auctioneers, hardware store owners and cabinet makers.

It was really interesting to learn what diversity exists within Amish society – how different one community is from another.  I was fascinated to find out that, whenever an argument arises among “progressive” and “conservative” Amishfolk over things like the adaptation of new technology, how the progressives tend to split off and form a new district while the conservatives – while certainly feeling the strain related to the loss of those families – become free to retrench themselves in (oftentimes even more) conservative practices.

It was extremely enlightening to observe relational struggles within families.  For example, the re-married couple I mentioned earlier were dealing with a certain amount of tension involved with blending two firmly entrenched personalities in order to form a “new” family.  When my friend and I dropped by one day to chat, the husband was away, so we had a chance to talk with the wife.  She said that he was out at the coffeeshop instead of being at home working on the cabinets he had been promising her since she moved in.  She had managed, she said, to get him to clean up all the engine parts he had left scattered about the house for who-knows-how-many years, but that she still didn’t have a place for her stuff.  She mentioned that, if he would just spend two weeks worth of coffeeshop visits working on her cabinets, she could stop bugging him.

Before my time in Illinois, my exposure to Amish culture was limited to movies like Witness and to the relatively infrequent encounters I had with them at the museum where I worked.* It was really nice to get to know some real, non-stereotypical, authentically striving yet occasionally failing, honestly Christian Amish folks, and to get a glimpse into some aspects of their culture.  I wish I could have spent more time with them.

* Quick story: I was working at a living history museum where we were portraying life on an Ohio farm in the mid-1880s.  We strove for authenticity in material culture to such a degree that we were always aware of areas where we failed to meet that high standard we had set for ourselves.  One day a group of Amish people came up to me as I was working in the barn.  An older woman – clearly the matriarch of this group – approached me and gave me a hard time about using square hay bales, since those were not appropriate to the time period we represented.  I explained to her that we were aware of the problem, and I mentioned that I had been considering buying round bales (those giant ones you see out in hayfields), and rolling them out in the loft, so that it would at least look like loose hay.  This woman got a surprised look on her face and said, “Oh!  Can you still get round bales here?”

“Yes,” I told her.  “Why do you ask?”

She said, “Well, where I come from, those are illegal.”  I was taken aback a bit, and it occurred to me that maybe her community had decided not to adopt the use of round bales for some reason.

“Huh.  How come they’re illegal,” I asked, completely innocently.

“Turns out,” she replied, “the cows weren’t getting a square meal.”  (Insert rimshot here.)

This is a true story.  I walked face first into that one.  We laughed for about 5 minutes straight.