Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


As I walked this morning, I remembered something about Jean Cramer-Heuerman, who was featured in the CIW for T, 7-31-18, and so an addendum to TRUE CLICHES…

As I mentioned yesterday, Jean and I were rabble rousers in our Conference [all the Methodist churches in central IL]. We were both young [one of us in her 20s and the other in his 40s] and full of youthful enthusiasm and ideas. We were definitely not afraid of change.  In fact, we were sure the church had to change or die. [1]

We served on a couple of Conference committees together and would sit in the back of the room and make “clever” remarks to each other behind our hands about the desultory ideas and clich├ęs that came from the leaders at the front of the room. When the time was fulfilled, we would suggest some radical alternative that didn’t have a chance of coming to fruition but that satisfied us—and would actually have worked better than what we ended up with. As a District Superintendent said to me not long before I retired, “To show you how bad things have gotten, we are now considering seriously ideas you had twenty years ago.”

Then Jean and I got cancer. Our times together at the back of the room became times of sharing about our feelings and complaining about our therapies. One day she told me about a particularly painful treatment she had undergone. “I could tell it was bothering the doctor and nurses because they were hurting me so much, so I decided to sing to them. I did the entire score of ‘The King and I,’ because I knew it from performing in it in high school, and then I did all eighteen verses of ‘O for a Thousand Tongues.’ They were amazed. They had no idea there were that many verses to that hymn. I think they all became Baptists on the spot.”

I doubt that. She had a beautiful singing voice.

Where did July go? Anyway, Happy August!

1] In my career, I was blessed with the friendship of many young women ministers. I think they befriended me because—even though I was an old man by the time we began to accept women into the clergy ranks--I did not treat them as young women ministers but simply as fellow ministers.

2] Although Charles Wesley composed more than six thousand hymns, “O for a Thousand Tongues” is THE quintessential Methodist hymn. [Although Lutheran Lorraine Bruehl says she thinks “Are Ye Able” by Earl Marlatt represents the Methodist spirit best.]

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