CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter…
It was a day like today in Evanston, IL, fifty years ago. Two degrees below zero, facing into a stiff breeze off Lake Michigan as I walked from the El, on Dempster St., to Garrett Theological Seminary, at Northwestern University. My forehead was so cold my brain was going numb. I wasn’t quite sure who I was or where I was. I wasn’t at all sure I could make it all the way to the seminary. I have been cold at other times, especially the 8 years we lived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but never that cold. It was John F. Kennedy’s fault.
During my three years at Garrett-now half of the united Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, but in the same location-I was appointed as pastor at the Cedar Lake and Creston Methodist Churches, about 20 miles south of Gary, IN. I commuted daily, a total of about sixty miles each way.
The first year I drove each day to Hammond, IN [also where our daughters were born, in St. Margaret’s Hospital], caught the South Shore train to the Loop in Chicago, and rode the El from there to Evanston, then walked the rest of the way. It was several blocks of walking. That day it seemed like several miles, in part because I was not wearing a hat.
I was not wearing a hat because John F. Kennedy did not wear a hat. He got into considerable trouble with the hat manufacturers for going bareheaded, for they were losing business fast, since young guys such as I figured we didn’t need hats, either. President is a very powerful position. If the president doesn’t wear hats, we figure it’s okay to walk bareheaded. If the president doesn’t tell the truth, we figure it’s okay to lie barefaced.
Just as Kennedy got into trouble with people who preferred hats, Trump is in trouble with people who believe in telling the truth, as “the Bible says,” as in the Ten Commandments, not to mention the teachings of Jesus and a whole lot of other places in “The Holy Book.”
Of course he is not in trouble with people who claim they believe in telling the truth and the Ten Commandments but are lying about that. They actually believe in power, not in the truth or in The Ten. If it takes lying, even about the Bible, to get power, they’re willing and eager to lie.
Most folks lie because they get something by doing so-power, sex, money, prestige, freedom from jail. After a while they lie just because it’s part of who they are. I once knew a man about whom it was said, “He lied even when it was to his advantage to tell the truth.”
If someone in a car had driven by me that day in Evanston and asked me if I needed a ride, I would have said “No.” Was it a lie? Sort of, because it was not true. I did need a ride. But I was not gaining anything by refusing the ride. I just didn’t want anyone to think I couldn’t make it on my own. I can’t blame JFK for that.
I am now old and bald. I have a collection of some two dozen caps, all the way from white sun hats to a real Russian Cossack fur hat. I never go outside without a hat. That’s the truth.
So what’s the point of this reflection? Durned if I know. I started out to talk about how cold I got once, because it’s very cold where I am right now, and it seemed like I should reflect on the cold. Then I got to thinking about people who don’t tell the truth, and religious hypocrites, and people who are examples, for good or for ill. That slid off into self-reliance.
Recently an entity called iAuthor on Twitter said to all of us who follow, “Pick up the book closest to you. The first full sentence on page 27 will tell you what your life will be like in 2018.” My old friend, Dr. John Wilkey, sent me a book of his writings for Christmas. It was closest. The first full sentence on p. 27 says, “You and I must decide the ending ourselves.”
I tweet occasionally as yooper1721.
We no longer live in the land of winter, the UP--the “place of winter” mentioned in the title line, 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.]--but it feels like the land of winter right here in Bloomington, IN, where we met and married while at IU.