Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


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

I’m reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s PASTRIX. It’s a fascinating book. I recommend it. I think everyone should read it. Unfortunately, it twists my nose way out of joint. I wrote a similar book, THE STRANGE CALLING, on the same subject. It’s just as good, just as well written, just as interesting. [Just sayin’] But Bolz-Weber gets lots of accolades for her book, and hardly anyone has ever heard of mine.

It’s really quite sad that someone my age isn’t over that sort of pettiness by now.

Why the difference? Why does Nadia get all the attention and I get none? Because I have lived a happy life and she’s had a miserable one. Also, she has tattoos.

Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founder and pastor of the ELCA House for all Sinners and Saints in Denver, the Lutheran Anne Lamott, except she grew up in a fundamentalist home and Lamott grew up churchless and faithless. They both lived lives of booze and drugs and promiscuity and misery, what conservative evangelicals call “building a testimony,” and I’m really jealous, because now they write books about how they have finally gotten some faith, humbly, to be sure, and everybody says, “How nice. How interesting. Let’s buy their books and give them lots of money and praise.”

Except me. I say “How about me?” and everybody says, “Your story isn’t interesting. Nice family. Great wife and children and grandchildren. No addictions. Great friends. What’s your problem?”

Well, my problem is I’ve got no problem! 

Yes, I grew up in a family that was very poor, financially and emotionally, with parents who didn’t know very well how to deal with that, but I had great sisters and a great brother, a huge and extremely supportive extended family, friends who always had my back, a tax-supported welfare system that kept us alive and a tax-supported school system that gave me a great education, and a wonderful little open-country church that was the epitome of “Open Doors, Open Minds, Open Hearts.” At pickle ball I make people half my age cry for mercy. I’ve had the same persistently kind and generous wife for 56 years. My daughters are beautiful and my grandchildren are brilliant. My friends never disappoint me or dessert me. [Well, sometimes they dessert me, but it’s with gooseberry pie.]

What’s wrong with that? Well, you can’t get much of a testimony, or a best-selling book, out of it. In terms of testimony, I’ve got nothin’.

So go ahead and read PASTRIX. It’s a great story, beautifully written, excellent theology. [Reader alert: It also has bad words.] And read Lamott. PLAN B, or any of her similar books. Again, great stories, beautiful writing, good theology. Just ignore me; I’m used to it. Or maybe… I can write a book about how I lived this life of pettiness and pathetic envy but overcame them and… Oh, but first I have to do actually overcome… maybe I’ll just get a tattoo…

John Robert McFarland

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… what’s it called… oh, yes, memory. Sorry about repeats.

I have also started an author blog, JUST WORDS, about writing and reading. Writing guru Kristen Lamb says author blogs are counter-productive, that blogs must be “high concept.” I don’t know what that means, but consider JUST WORDS as a high concept blog 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.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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