Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Sunday, June 25, 2017

EARS TO HEAR-a poem 6-25-16

EARS TO HEAR-a poem    6-25-16

As I stand here in this multi thousand dollar
Hand-crafted gold oak pulpit
Wine-red carpet beneath my feet
The choice of color being the cause
Of two good Christian women
Refusing to speak to each other
For ever and ever, amen
With a multi thousand dollar screen behind me on the wall
And a multi thousand, yes, many multi thousands
Heating and cooling system treating the air
Around us so that it will be just like Galilee
And a multi thousand dollar microphone
Slipped on my ear so
All can hear me regardless of how softly
I speak in dramatic tones to convince
Soft-bottomed people on soft-cushioned pews
That they should follow Jesus

I preach about Jesus standing with dirty feet
In a dirty robe on a dirty hillside
Calling out “Let those who have ears
to hear, hear.”

JRMcF

johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

Saturday, June 24, 2017

MORNING DEXTERITY CHALLENGE-a poem 6-24-17

MORNING DEXTERITY CHALLENGE-a poem   6-24-17

Because my body makes me do it
Mostly against my comfort-loving will
I write my lines early in the morning
Before the light of day takes its stance
And thus my theme is darkness

Yet as the poets tell us
Ad infinitum I might add
The darkness reaches zenith
Or I suppose for darkness the nadir is the zenith
Just before the dawn

So my befuddled morning brain slides back and forth
from hope to blackness just as those tiny bee-bees
try to find a place to land in Santa’s
nose and ears in that toy designed
to challenge the dexterity of Christmas day

That little unnamed thing designed to keep children
Out of sight and trouble
for at least a moment or two
That thing everyone has tried and knows about
but is so hard to describe in a poem

what was I writing about, anyway?

JRMcF
johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

Friday, June 23, 2017

PASSING IT ON 6-23-17

PASSING IT ON     6-23-17

It is very difficult for me to learn something new, even if it’s only from myself, perhaps especially if it’s from myself, without wanting to pass it on.

For such a long time, that was no problem. I had a pulpit and a pen [well, keyboard] and so many avenues for passing on what I had learned.

I dreamt that in old age, I would be free of all outside constraints, required by my job to pass things on. I forgot about the inside constraints, the ones that say, “You’ve learned something important; you’ve got to pass it on.”

So I went back to passing things on via this blog, mostly because I am the only editor/publisher left who will accept my stuff for “publication.” [1] It’s okay if no one reads it. In fact, I haven’t told anyone, even my wife, that I am passing things on again. But Christ In Winter posts allow me in my winter years to keep on trying to think and write in ways that are coherent enough to keep on growing in knowledge and faith.

About 25 years ago, the teens in my church started coming home from summer camp with a new chorus, one they loved and sang often. “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing…” [1]

Not much of what we pass on will last very long, but I hope that what I still pass on will provide a little spark…in my own mind and spirit, at least.

JRMcF
johnrobertmcfarland@gmil.com

1] That’s not totally true. Black Opal Books was pleased to publish my novel VETS and also took Going After Sally Ann, my fictionalized account of my experiences of being the “hit man” for a cancer center, but I withdrew GASA because VETS proved that I’m past the point where I can do marketing for my own books. It’s unfair to a small publisher to let them go to the work and expense of publishing a book and not try to market it for them.

Daughter Katie Kennedy has no problem getting her YA novels published, because she’s a tremendous writer. That’s why Bloomsburg, which also publishes JK Rowling, is bringing out Katie’s new one, What Goes Up, on July 16, 2017, available from B&N, Amazon, etc.


2] I am always distressed by lyrics sites online, like St. Tekla, that give all the lyrics to a song/hymn and never mention the composer, in this case Kurt Kaiser. That’s theft by neglect.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

OLD AGE BLISS-a poem 6-22-17

OLD AGE BLISS-a poem    6-22-17

The less I know
About the happenings of the world
The better I feel

Ignorance is bliss
The wise ones say
Or maybe that’s just politicians

Who know we would not
Vote for them if we discern
Their real goals

But I am old
I would not make a good slave
So I am safe from politicians

See how easy it is to achieve
Bliss?

JRMcF
johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ARROGANT PEOPLE CAN BE RIGHT 6-21-17

ARROGANT PEOPLE CAN BE RIGHT    6-21-17

From my frosh year in high school up into my mid-thirties, I kept a journal. For fifty years, it has just resided in a file drawer. Now I am reading it again, with considerable surprise, both at how much I have forgotten, and at… well, how arrogant I was. I had forgotten my arrogance, too.

I was a campus minister in the 1960s. We hired students part-time to help with the ministry, being administrative or worship or small group assistants. Apparently I had asked Paul Darling to be one of those, and my journal records that he told me that he could not work with me because I was so arrogant. My journal was not surprised at this. In fact, it agreed and said that I needed to work on my arrogance. Stupid journal. Sorry I kept it. Sorry I re-read it.

It’s probably right, though. I was pretty well convinced back then that I knew the truth about a lot of stuff. I still do. Now though I’m quite aware of the limits of my knowledge and of the extent of my ignorance. So maybe I was successful in working on my arrogance. Of course, maybe thinking that is arrogant in itself.

As I look back on it, I think of myself not as arrogant but sure. The major issue of the day was racial segregation and discrimination. I was sure that was wrong, and it irritated me considerably when “good” people, especially church people, tried to excuse it or rationalize it or justify it. I was not timid in saying they were wrong.

The second major issue was the war in Viet Nam. After initially supporting it, I came to realize that it was wrong and extremely harmful in so many ways, not only to Viet Nam but to the USA. I was certain of that, and I was clear in expressing my position, personally and publicly.

I was on a panel for some event at Illinois Wesleyan University during that time. Robert Eckley was the new IWU president and introduced the panel members. When he came to me, he said, “You never have any trouble knowing where this man stands.” I was pleased that I had that reputation, but I was surprised that Dr. Eckley even knew who I was. Apparently my reputation for certainty or arrogance or whatever it was went wider than I knew.

I too often chose the wrong battles for my certainty, sure I was right about a lot of things that didn’t matter all that much. But I’m glad I was on the right side for the big ones, even if my certainty was interpreted as arrogance.

Just as paranoids can have real enemies, sometimes arrogant people are right.

JRMcF

I tweet as yooper1721.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A SHORT INCOMPLETE PRIMER ON SACRIFICE 6-20-17

A SHORT INCOMPLETE PRIMER ON SACRIFICE    6-20-17

Not all sacrifices are equal. Some folks make small sacrifices and claim they are even with those who made great sacrifices.

Sacrifices for self and sacrifices for others are different. Is “sacrificing” smoking to save your own lungs the same as giving it up to save your baby’s lungs? Is it “sacrificing,” at all, or just “giving it up?” Giving something up and making a sacrifice are very different.

We tend to say “sacrifice” about everything we “give up,” which demeans sacrifice. A sacrifice is not for self. You don’t sacrifice something for the sake of your own health, physical or emotional, even though we use that phrase. A sacrifice is for another person, or for a cause, which is another person writ large.

It’s not a sacrifice if you are doing it in order to get something for yourself.

JRMcF
johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com

Monday, June 19, 2017

I AM HUNGRY 6-19-17

REFLECTIONS ON FAITH AND LIFE FOR THE YEARS OF WINTER

I AM HUNGRY     6-19-17

I am hungry
I am suddenly too old
To work the kitchen
At the meal to feed
The homeless
Even to wash the dishes
I am suddenly too old
To work the food bank
Repacking restaurant leftovers
Into meals for families
I did not know how much
The feeding of others
Fed me
I am hungry

JRMcF

johnrobertmcfarland@gmail.com