Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, January 30, 2015


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

Ellen claimed that she had sex only twice, and got pregnant both times. It sounded suspicious, even then, when abstinence and condoms were the only birth control, and boys told girls that if they really loved them they would use neither. It sounds more suspicious today, when girls more often brag about having sex twice, per hour, rather than being embarrassed for having sex twice in their lifetime, even if the lifetime has been for only twenty years.

That wasn’t the immediate problem, though. This was not her first pregnancy. She had given the first baby for adoption. This second time her father had called her a slut and disowned her. She had dropped out of college and was living in a rented room, with no friends, no food, and no pre-natal care. Her boyfriend, Josh, who was much more able to get girls into trouble than to get them out, came to me for help. I give Josh credit for seeking help for Ellen, but once Helen and I were involved, Josh went his merry way, scattering problems for other girls and their fathers like a flower girl scatters rose petals.

We had intended for Helen to take Ellen to the hospital when “the time came for her to be delivered,” but she was teaching a class at the university, so I was the one who picked Ellen up at her drab rented room, helped her to my car and into the hospital, got her paper work done and into the labor room.

That was the greatest fashion era, ever. Since I ministered on a university campus, I dressed accordingly. I can’t remember exactly what I was wearing that day, but I know I sometimes dressed in an old-gold crushed-velvet vest that hung to mid-thigh, and in vertically striped bell bottom pants with a three inch belt, and in a green shirt with multi-colored flowers. I also had a hobo moustache and a Bolshevik beard. I was young and hip and cool.

Also a pervert, according to the nurse. Ellen introduced me as her minister, and every time the nurse referred to me as such, as she did often, with great enjoyment, both to Ellen and to anyone else in earshot, she rolled her eyes and sneered as she said “minister.”

I suppose I should have been slightly pleased that the nurse thought I was Ellen’s “baby daddy.” Ellen was pretty, and men like to have others think that they are both virile and attractive to pretty young women. It was quite embarrassing, though, and the more I tried to act and talk like a minister instead of a cad, the worse I made it sound.

This is one of the strongest arguments for women ministers, I think. If they take a pregnant girl to the hospital, no one accuses them of being the one who got her pregnant. If you are a male minister, though, it helps if you have a pretty wife who eventually shows up at the hospital to help a girl like Ellen through her labor, which Helen did, just as I had to leave for some other responsibility, probably trying to get Josh out of some other trouble, at which I spent a lot of time with mostly futile results. Apparently it cooled the nurse off a bit when Ellen introduced Helen as her minister’s wife, but not entirely. Helen says the nurse still rolled her eyes whenever I was mentioned. The nurse and I were about the same age. I think she must have had some interactions with guys our age who were not what they claimed to be.

As we got to know Ellen, we became less suspicious of her “only twice” claim. She was not naive, but she was sweet and innocent. She gave that baby up for adoption, too, and moved away. Josh wanted her to return for his wedding, when all the bridesmaids were former girlfriends he had impregnated and not married, but she did not. She was sweet and innocent, but she wasn’t stupid. She dropped out of his life, and ours.

I still pray for her, and for her children. And for that nurse, but not as often.

John Robert McFarland

Yes, Josh really did have his former girlfriends as the bridesmaids at his wedding. He was charismatic, talented, obnoxious, brilliant, and manipulative. Why would girls put up with someone like him? I don’t know. Why would a minister put up with someone like him? That’s our job.

Ellen and Josh were not their real names, of course.

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.]

I used to keep a careful index of all the things I told in this blog so that I would not repeat. That has become unwieldy. Now I just trust to memory. Sorry about that.

I have also started an author blog, about writing, in preparation for the publication, by Black Opal Books, of my novel, VETS, about four handicapped and homeless Iraqistan veterans who are accused of murdering a VA doctor, n 2015.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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