Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, June 18, 2015


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

Our daughter, Kathleen “Katie” Kennedy, is choosing an author photo for the jacket of her upcoming YA book, Learning to Swear in America, published by Bloomsbury, which also publishes J.K. Rowling. She asked us to help her choose which photo among the many proofs should go on the book. Her mother chose # 32, because “It looks most like you.” Katie protested, “That’s not what we’re going for.”

What we’re going for, of course, any of us, is something that makes us look better than we are.

I recently had to provide a jacket photo for my upcoming novel, VETS, about four homeless and handicapped veterans who are accused of murdering a VA doctor. I suggested they use a photo of Robert Redford. Much to my surprise and chagrin, they took it seriously, and explained all the legal ramifications, but suggested they could have an artist do a rendering that would look like Redford but not so much that we could be sued. I don’t know why that would be a problem, since Redford always uses my photo.

I recently read the obit of a woman I knew well. She had written the obit herself. If I had not seen her photo and name, I would have had no idea it was she. [I know “she” sounds wrong there, but it’s a predicate nominative.] Her achievements were burnished, and her failures were omitted. Even in death, she did not want people to know the real her. [Okay, now she can be “her.”]

I once heard an interview with Robert Redford. He wanted to be Paul Newman. “He’s a great actor, he loves his wife, he does good works, he’s got all the money in the world. Who wouldn’t want to be him?” None of us, even Redford, is satisfied being who we are.

We want people to think we are better looking, better educated, and better connected than we are. I understand that. Maybe they won’t like us, won’t respect us, if they find out we’re just… well, ordinary. I think God understands it, too. God doesn’t rat us out, point at us with that celestial finger and say, “Hey, everybody, he’s only pretending to be Robert Redford.” God knows the truth, though. That is the good news, that Someone knows us exactly as we are and loves us anyway. I do worry a little bit, though, because I’m told on good authority that God uses Newman’s picture.

 John Robert McFarland

The picture is of the Pine Mountain ski jump in Iron Mountain, MI, the highest man-made ski jump in the world. I started this blog several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] The grandchildren, though, are grown up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I am still trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter. I have a picture that is more appropriate now for Indiana, boys playing basketball in winter snow, but I have not yet figured out how to replace the ski jump picture with the basketball picture.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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