Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


One of our daughters recently heard a church lady say, “We need to do more for the alphabet people.” No one knew what she meant. Finally someone figured out she was talking about LGBTQ folks.

I add “H” to that list, for Homophobic, for that is really the issue. It’s not an LGBTQ problem the church has; it’s an H problem.

With that in mind, since I now live in Indiana, I wrote the following letter to the delegates from the IN UMC [United Methodist Church] to the special called session of General Conference [legislative body for the world-wide UMC] that meets this weekend in St. Louis:

Dear General Conference Delegation:

When I grew up in Gibson County in the 1940 and 50s, I don’t think we even knew there were people who were not heterosexual. It just wasn’t talked about. The big sins were smoking, drinking, and divorce.

It wasn’t until I was the Wesley Foundation minister at INSU that I began to encounter non-heteros, whom I counseled not to make up their minds too early about their sexuality.

When our older daughter had the second of her three cancers, she had to go to the Cleveland Clinic. Her ex-husband’s gay friend [She got him in the divorce], Chris, invited her to spend two weeks recovering at his house, where he took marvelous care of her. One day, as he prepared breakfast, I asked him, only half-facetiously, to “come over to our side,” since he would be such a good husband for our Mary Beth. He said, very kindly, “You are the straightest man I know. Could you come over to our side?”

The answer was “no,” because God has not made us in such a way that we can switch sides. Chris can’t become straight any more than I can become black. And I certainly cannot become gay!

It’s the “ick” factor, not theology or scripture, that bedevils us on this issue. Being the straightest man that Chris, or anybody else, has ever known, I find the thought of homosexual activity to be totally “icky.” I also find avocadoes icky.

But that just isn’t the point, wither with non-hetero folks or avocadoes. The point is: Since God has made us as we are, then we are all welcome, in the same way, in God’s house.

Thank you for all your work, and may the peace of Christ be with you.

The Rev. Dr. John Robert McFarland, Retard {Which is how we pronounce “retired” in Gibson County.}

Sunday, February 17, 2019

THE UNFINISHED STORY-a poem [Sunday, February 17, 2019]

This morning I wrote a story
An interesting story
A true story
A good story
But I did not finish the story
It is not a bad story
No one is harmed in the telling of this story
But I did not write the finish of the story
It seemed wrong to let others read the story
An intrusion as they try to tell their own story
I know the ending of this story
That is enough

John Robert McFarland

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


Last Sunday morning, Helen looked around the congregation, and said, “I don’t know everybody here, but everybody I do know has a lot of worries and concerns and burdens.” I thought, “We’ve GOT to get some better people into this church!”

Hasn’t happened so far. This afternoon we go to the funeral for Dave, a young man in his 60s, not yet retired, who just got the sweetest little granddaughter, Charlotte, and now he’s not going to get to enjoy playing trotty-horse with her, or go to her high school graduation, or…

And just now we got a text from Mark, saying that he took Michael to the ER last night and maybe he’s had a stroke. So we’ll go see him after Dave’s funeral.

And another Dave friend is having a really hard time recovering from his cancer treatment. And another friend is dealing with neuropathy and leukemia. And another has stage 4 kidney disease… the list goes on…and on…

I need a better family, too. Not only have I had cancer, but so has Helen, and our older daughter, and our grandson, and my parents, and her mother, and my brother, and my little sister, Margey, who died in her early 60s, and now Margey’s daughter has cancer, and it’s being very hard on her teen son, who has a heart condition, and her daughter, who’s at a vulnerable age emotionally for all this, and her husband, who has to bear everybody’s load… sheesh!

So, if you have no worries or concerns or burdens, and there is none in your family, please tell me, so that I’ll know at least one person I don’t have to pray for. In the meantime, I’ll listen to Pachelbel’s Canon as I pray…

John Robert McFarland

Saturday, February 9, 2019

HOW MOTHER FELT, Poem [Sat, 2-9-19]

The only time I feel comfortable,
my mother said, is when I am
in bed. I was glad there was one
time she felt comfort, for she spoke
so often of her discomforts.
She was then the age I am now.
There are many spots in the day
when I know comfort, but for the first
time, I can feel at ease
along with my mother.

John Robert McFarland

In the"Comments" list this morning, that only I see, the top line noted that a comment from NinaB on 2-7-19 had been "removed by the editor." I always assumed that I am the editor of this blog, but I neither saw nor removed the comment.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

WALK THE WALK [R, 2-7-19]

In his journal, when he was 84, John Wesley noted that he walked six miles to go some place to preach. People remonstrated with him. At his age, he should not walk that far.
It embarrassed him that people would think that way. Why would six miles be too far for any Methodist preacher to walk to get a chance to preach?
I’m younger than Father John was then by two years. This morning I walked three miles, in the mall, because it is raining. I did not preach. Now I am home, reclining on the sofa, drinking coffee. Later I’ll take a nap. I should turn in my ordination certificate.

John Robert McFarland

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

KNOWING THE WAY, a poem [W, 2-6-19]

Perhaps it will be only God
and I, who know how far
I have come, and how difficult
was the way

perhaps only God and I who know,
at the end, how treacherous
the roads, how deep the holes
along the way

but it is enough for me
to say that God knows, not
to give some reward for walking
in the way

only that I have not been alone
in my loneliness, but walked
in glory in the darkness
of the way

John Robert McFarland

Saturday, February 2, 2019


I receive the obits, by email, from several newspapers. This morning there was the obit of a woman whose picture makes her look like a very normal and likeable person. But, “There will be no services, at her request.”

I understand why they put in “at her request.” Her family wants to make sure other people don’t think they are weird, or don’t like her.

I’m always puzzled by people who “request no services,” and not just because I’ll miss out on the ten dollar honorarium for doing the service.

Scenario 1 Trying to do a good thing: Maybe this woman thought there would be a big fight among her survivors if they all came together in one place, and she wanted to spare them that. I’ve been in the middle of some of those fights, one very close to literally so. Thus I applaud her if that is her motivation.

Scenario 2 Trying to do a bad thing: But maybe she just wants to be mean to her survivors by not allowing them closure. One of my friends, a coffee shop operator, left the ministry when a woman came to see him for counseling. She said, “We were at my mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving, and she prepared a wonderful meal. We were all sitting at the table when she brought the turkey in, set it down on the table, sat down at the end, took a pistol out of her apron pocket, and shot herself in the head.” Talk about being hostile to your family! [And wondering what they said at her service.] My friend said, “I figured if I had to deal with that sort of stuff as a minister, I’d better go to roasting coffee.” I understand. I’ve dealt with too many of those.  

And there are other considerations:

Services are for the survivors. Shouldn’t they have the right to a service if they want one? Why should the deceased get to keep making the decisions even after she’s no longer here?

But shouldn’t we honor the wishes of the deceased? Isn’t that the loving thing to do?

I don’t know. It shouldn’t be a problem for my family. It’s okay with me for them to have a service, as long as they don’t play “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” on the church sound system as they take off after to go to Red Lobster.

John Robert McFarland

No, the above isn’t writing; it’s just the fevered musing of a confused mind.