Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, August 14, 2017

MISPLACED BLAME-a poem 8-14-17


When I get irritated
frustrated, downright angry
with myself
I take it out on others
That old man coming toward me
I don’t know him
but I am sure he voted for Trump
That young girl in the yellow
t-shirt I have never seen before—
the girl; I have seen yellow
t-shirts before—
is frivolous, I am sure
That dog peeing on the lawn…
…well, dogs are okay…

JRMcF

johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

Sunday, August 13, 2017

LOOKING BACK FOR GOD 8-13-17

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

O Father of light and leading,
            From the top of each rising hill
Let me cast my eye on the road gone by
            To mark the steps of thy will;
For the clouds that surround the present
            Shall leave this heart resigned,
When the joy appears in the path of tears
            That led through the days behind.

George Matheson, Devotional Selections from George Matheson, Andrew Kosten, Editor [Abingdon, New York and Nashville, 1962] Page 51.

It’s a fascinating take on the past-this poem-that we should use the vantage point of each hill not to look forward, but to look back, in order to see where God has been with us.

It is part of Matheson’s meditation on Matt. 11:28, “Come to me, you who are labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He says that up to this point, Jesus was working out of pity, and so his work wearied him. But when the people, even as masses, became his friends, then there was rest, not fatigue, both for him and for them.

We almost always think of the high points as places from which to look forward. They are. That was the view of Moses on Mt. Nebo. But they are also vantage points for looking back, in order to see God at work.

JRMcF
johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

I tweet as yooper1721.

I have often extolled my old friend, Walt Wagener, as one who is expert at “blooming where he’s planted.” Once when I did so, Helen said, “I want to bloom BEFORE I’m planted.” So I started writing a book of meditations for old people, sort of like my book for cancer patients. I called it BLOOM BEFORE YOU’RE PLANTED. I was never able to get an agent or publisher interested in the idea, though, so I’m now using some of the “chapters” for that book in this blog.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A LINE ON THE LINES-a poem 8-12-17

I listened on the party line
Read between the lines
Colored outside the lines
Learned the symmetry of lines
Defined congruent lines
Drove beside the lines
Played between the lines
Stood at attention in a line
Waited in a line
Tried my best lines
Heard the lineman still on the line
Learned and ran my lines
In pleasant places fell the lines
In the sand I drew a line
And finally wrote these lines

JRMcF
johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

Friday, August 11, 2017

LIVING TWO LIVES-a poem 8-11-17

I lived two lives, he said
One open to the world, and useful
One known only to God and me

But maybe it was not I who lived two lives
But two different souls within my body
One eager to be part of the world
The other in a world of nothing

Then he walked away
I was not sure which life
Went with him
And which remained

JRMcF

I tweet as yooper1721.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

AGAINSTERS 8-10-17

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

Bob Butts drove in from Brown County yesterday to have lunch. The cleaning lady was at their house, and he needed an escape. We went to the Clover Leaf. He’s not a big baseball fan but listened politely as I complained about the Reds’ pitching. Then we got down to the serious business of deciding which teams to be against in the football season.

It didn’t take us long to decide. We’re faithful; we don’t change our againstness much. Bob is from Mississippi and is a Mississippi State fan and is always against Notre Dame and Ol Miss. I’m from Indiana and an IU grad and always against Alabama and Purdue. Sometimes we have to make an adjustment, like if ND were to play Ol Miss, or Alabama were to play Purdue. But the main thing is to know who you’re against.

Againsters can watch any game and have a team to cheer for. No, being “for,” we have only one team to support, Mississippi State for Bob and IU for me. As many bumper stickers in my state say, “My two favorite teams are Indiana and whoever is playing Purdue.”

It’s just fun as football fans, but a whole lot of folks are againsters in all of life, be it politics or gender or religion or race or music or books or shopping or cars or… Being “for” is not satisfying for them. They don’t get their satisfaction by seeing something or someone win; they get their satisfaction by seeing something or someone lose.

It’s fun on a Saturday afternoon with nothing on the line. It’s a disaster all the rest of the time with the world on the line.

John Robert McFarland
johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

Yes, I know I promised to stop writing for a year while I try to be a real Christian instead of just a professional Xn. But this isn’t very professional, is it?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

THE CHOICE IS CLEAR 8-9-17



CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

That was what Alice said at the end of our counseling session: “The choice is clear, isn’t it?” I agreed with her.

I thought I was a good counselor in those days, and I was sure I had done a good job with Alice. She had come to see me because she could not choose between Charlie and Ted, each of whom wanted her to marry him. I carefully led her through the good and bad qualities of each.

Charlie was kind, thoughtful, intelligent, industrious, and caring. Ted was negligent, sloppy, unaware, undependable, care-free.

“The choice is clear, isn’t it? It has to be Ted.”

Alice had her mind made up before she ever came to see me. Her brain told her she should marry Charlie, but her heart wanted Ted, for whatever reasons. She needed to justify her choice, though, by seeing the locally well-known counselor so that she would have cover for what would look to her parents and all her friends like a bad choice.

People usually know when they are making a bad choice, but they want to do it anyway, because it satisfies their emotions even though it contradicts their brains. So they seek out some sort of cover—a person, a theory, something someone else did, a statistic, an anecdote—so that they can argue that they have a rational reason, when they really just want to make the choice that makes them feel good.

William James said, “Where the will and the imagination are in conflict, the imagination always wins.”

JRMcF
johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

I tweet as yooper1721.

Spoiler alert: If you have read this column in the last 3 months, all that follows is old news:

Following the critical and marketing success of her first Young Adult novel, daughter Katie Kennedy’s Learning to Swear in America, is What Goes Up, a July 18, 2017 release. She is published by Bloomsbury, which also publishes lesser known but promising young authors, like JK Rowling.

My book, NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, is published by AndrewsMcMeel. It is available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc. in hardback, paperback, audio, Japanese, and Czech.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

HOSTILE TO LIFE 8-8-17



CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

 The default position for many people is hostility. Their immediate reaction to anything is hostility.

Where does hostility come from? Theologians point to “original sin.” Other’s just say “nature.” Either way, it’s part of our makeup. Some, though, claim that we are born innocent and that hostility is learned, through being mistreated when we are young or taught to despise those who are different. Regardless of its source, so many people are hostile in all they do and think.

There is a difference between paranoia and hostility, just as there is between competition and hostility.

Paranoids are not primarily hostile; primarily they are afraid.

You don’t have to be hostile to compete. Some folks can compete, quite successfully, without being hostile either to the other competitors or to themselves. Many cannot compete without being hostile, because they are always hostile.

There is a difference between aggressive and passive hostiles. Passives are afraid to express their hostilities, for fear of reprisal. They assume that since they are hostile they will be met with hostility. They don’t want to deal with “blowback,” so want others to fight battles for them, to express their hostility for them.

I encounter this often among cancer patients. Normally it is a good thing if a cancer patient is a “fighter.” I meet many patients, though, who are hostile but not fighters. They want others to fight cancer for them—doctors, nurses, “prayer warriors,” medicines, chemo, radiation. They do not want to pray or meditate or be positive or go to support groups or have a decent attitude. They don’t want to do anything except sit back and scowl and say to others, “It’s your job to make me well.”

These are the folks who vote for hostile leaders--the politicians who are hostile to the world, to other political parties, to other nations, to the environment, to other races and religions. Passive hostile citizens are afraid to step up and confront their foes with hostility, in part because they are afraid of retaliation but in part because they know it’s wrong. Either way, they want someone else to be hostile for them.

It’s like when I say, “We won,” about the IU basketball team. “We” did not win. “They” won. The players won, not I. I bask in their glory, though, because I identify with them. So it is with passive hostiles who glory in the hostility of their leaders.

JRMcF
johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] We no longer live in the land of perpetual winter, but I am in the winter of my years, so I think it’s okay to use that phrase. I don’t know why I put that © on; it’s hardly necessary.

Katie Kennedy is the rising star in YA lit. [She is also our daughter.] She is published by Bloomsbury, which also publishes lesser authors, like JK Rowling. Her new book, What Goes Up, comes out July 18. It’s published in paper, audio, and electronic, and available for pre-order even now, from B&N, Amazon, Powell’s, etc.