Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


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

Andre’ and Dorcas Hammonds were our first really close African-American friends. Andre’ came to Indiana State U as a sociology prof with a new PhD from the U of TN, the first African-American to get a PhD at that institution, at the same time that I was appointed to INSU as Methodist campus minister, with a new seminary degree. We remained good friends over more than 40 years until his untimely death at the age of 70.

As we got well acquainted and became comfortable with one another, when we’d go out to eat, I’d sit beside Dorcas and hold her hand and Andre’ would have to sit beside Helen, which was a good arrangement, because Andre’ and Helen loved to talk about fragrances, while Dorcas and I couldn’t care less how they smelled. Well, a little bit. But it made people stare, especially in the 1960s. Once Andre’ said, to me, “You just like to stir the pot.”

Andre’ knew me better than I knew myself in our early professional years, but I came to embrace his perception of me. I did like to stir the pot, just because it was fun to see the reactions.

Like the time we were talking in church board about a stewardship campaign. I suggested that each member of the board take a few minutes in worship, on successive Sundays, and tell the congregation about how much money they, as leaders, give to the church, and why. There was stunned silence, broken when Joan Gregg blurted out, “I’d rather get up in church and talk about my sex life than tell how much money I give.” Everybody began to nod. Yes, that was a possibility, but certainly not my suggestion.

Most of the time, though, I had more than fun in mind. When confronted with any situation, humans take the tried and true way, the easiest way. To get stuff done, you have to make the easy way hard, or remove it altogether. When trying that, you usually get better results if it’s done in a fun way.

After my suggestion, our church board was suddenly open to new ways of doing stewardship. Well, not totally. Basically they all just tripled their own giving so the matter would never come up again at all!

Old people sometimes make outrageous suggestions, or do outrageous things, or wear outrageous outfits, just because we like to see the reactions when we stir the pot. But old folks need to take that task seriously. We can get away with stirring the pot when a lot of younger people can’t. The social and political pot is full of “Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot, nine days old.” It really needs to be stirred.


I tweet as yooper1721.

I was going to end with “Spoooooon!” since you need a spoon to stir the pot, but I doubt that there are many Tick fans among my readers, so few would understand. “Spoon!” is the battle cry of The Tick, the big blue superhero, who got the idea for “Spoooon!” while eating Drama Flakes for breakfast. Jen Unger Kroc gave me Tick comic books when she came to see me after my cancer surgery, and I have loved both Jen and The Tick ever since. Well, I loved Jen long before, but we got to bond over The Tick. The Tick was meant as a spoof on super heroes, but even false super heroes can’t help trying for justice. So The Tick stirs the pot with his “Spoooon!”

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