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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: Charles Austin on March 26, 2020, 12:19:47 PM

Title: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on March 26, 2020, 12:19:47 PM
Content deleted
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on March 26, 2020, 12:33:24 PM
Thanks for this topic and your posts, Charles. 

One of my "most missed" categories is people and in that category, singing with people.  We have live-streaming services without a choir - weird. 

So I just spent two hours listening and watching on you tube various choirs - mostly Gospel.  Brooklyn Tabernacle, Mississippi Mass Choir (not that Mass, the other mass) - there's a senior citizen female soloist singing "I'm not Tired Yet" that will keep anyone moving.  She is seriously not tired - yet.  And my wife, for whom housecleaning has always been a chore, is cleaning everything not moving in the house - keeping busy. 

And as you say, the big positive option is keeping in touch with family, friends and parishioners. 

I think when you enter a community setting and then can't be in community, it's in its own way a bigger burden.  Our bigger burden in NY is that we are constantly packed in around people.  I have for years taken seminarians and other guests on a "grand tour" around the block at our neighborhood church.  It can take up to an hour, pending who we see or meet and what's going on in that one block square area.  Now the streets are empty, and it's highly disconcerting.

We're trying to view it as a "pause" but I think the change in basic behaviors from approach to avoidance is going to be with us far longer.  Hang in there "through it all."

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on March 26, 2020, 01:03:03 PM
Thanks, Charles. Good reading; enjoyed but saddened.  Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James_Gale on March 26, 2020, 01:09:56 PM
Thanks so much for sharing your reflections.  This all sometimes feels as if it could last forever.  I need to keep reminding myself that it won't; that this too shall pass, even if not nearly soon enough.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Norman Teigen on March 27, 2020, 01:22:54 PM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  I have retired from sports  stadium ushering in the  past year. I have worked  a part-time shift at a nearby Target store but, on my son's advice,  I have taken a leave of absence.  To my surprise, Target will pay we older folks our wages during the COVID-19 period.  I have walked many miles in the past month.  A light rail system is being constructed in my town of Hopkins MN.  I have enjoyed walking along the construction areas.  Melting of the snow has allowed me to get close to the action for close-up photographs.  I will take my bicycle down any day now and go out and about.  I have been watching more You Tube videos than before,.   I enjoy the Bach Cantatas.   Our church, Normandale Lutheran in Edina, has been doing a superb job in keeping we pew sitters spiritually nourished.

Stay well,
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: DeHall1 on March 28, 2020, 12:40:32 AM
Chapter 4: Life in Quarantine-Friday
   ...Tonight Beloved Spouse watches “Blacklist,” a favorite of hers, then we find a movie or offbeat show on Netflix...
   Our quarantine, too, will pass.
Chapter 5:
I’m pretty sure Carole killed her former husband, Don.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: DeHall1 on March 28, 2020, 09:09:38 AM
Chapter 4: Life in Quarantine-Friday
   ...Tonight Beloved Spouse watches “Blacklist,” a favorite of hers, then we find a movie or offbeat show on Netflix...
   Our quarantine, too, will pass.
Chapter 5:
I’m pretty sure Carole killed her former husband, Don.
Chapter 5.5:
...I just watched 3 men marry each other.  I’m sure Brian S. would LOVE this show.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on March 28, 2020, 12:49:20 PM
I have been watching two things:
1) A History of Christianity, narrated by Diarmaid MacCulloch, Oxford professor, on public television.  Really pretty illuminating.  He goes to the basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome and asks what Christianity would be like if Paul would have been the primate instead of Peter.  And the priest indicates that Catholicism would not have been established out of a hierarchy of location or person, since that wasn't Paul.  Petrine Rockness being the founding principle led to centralization; Pauline mission would have gone differently.  Maybe so!  Alternate realities, good mind game when the present reality is grim.
2) The Best of NY Mets 2019 season, game by game.  The beauty and wonder of this tour de force is that every game broadcast is a Mets winning game.  When we're in a pandemic epicenter game in NY where we're 10 runs down in the third inning of what could be an endless game, it feels liberating to know that somehow, somehow, the Mets are going to pull out a victory every time.

On the actual soil, while doing morning shopping witnessed a really angry dispute between two women, one of whom accused the other of being inside the 6 foot space, deteriorate nearly to the point of violence - "I'm going to come into your space and knock you the f.. out."  This is in my home 'hood, so people who normally are very genteel.  Not so much this morning.  And this is week one and a half out of who knows how many, maybe ten. 

Holy Week will, in New York Metro, NOT be done in person, which I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.  We'll figure it out.  "My grace is sufficient," says the Lord.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Pastor Ken Kimball on March 28, 2020, 12:57:07 PM
Thank you Charles for this thread.  I appreciate and find a certain comfort in your personal sharing of your days and how you are weathering the situation in which you and Beloved Spouse find yourselves, despite our disagreements on a number of other topics (where I find more agreement with Pr. Speckhard, Mr. Garner, and Mr. Gale et al and also find their postings to be sufficient for the stating of my own positions, requiring no repetition by me).  I pray you and Beloved Spouse will continue to be well and safe.   Ken
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on March 28, 2020, 12:59:33 PM
I have been watching two things:
1) A History of Christianity, narrated by Diarmaid MacCulloch, Oxford professor, on public television.  Really pretty illuminating.  He goes to the basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome and asks what Christianity would be like if Paul would have been the primate instead of Peter.  And the priest indicates that Catholicism would not have been established out of a hierarchy of location or person, since that wasn't Paul.  Petrine Rockness being the founding principle led to centralization; Pauline mission would have gone differently.  Maybe so!  Alternate realities, good mind game when the present reality is grim.
2) The Best of NY Mets 2019 season, game by game.  The beauty and wonder of this tour de force is that every game broadcast is a Mets winning game.  When we're in a pandemic epicenter game in NY where we're 10 runs down in the third inning of what could be an endless game, it feels liberating to know that somehow, somehow, the Mets are going to pull out a victory every time.

On the actual soil, while doing morning shopping witnessed a really angry dispute between two women, one of whom accused the other of being inside the 6 foot space, deteriorate nearly to the point of violence - "I'm going to come into your space and knock you the f.. out."  This is in my home 'hood, so people who normally are very genteel.  Not so much this morning.  And this is week one and a half out of who knows how many, maybe ten. 

Holy Week will, in New York Metro, NOT be done in person, which I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.  We'll figure it out.  "My grace is sufficient," says the Lord.

Dave Benke
That's going to be key-- keeping calm over the long haul. Anyone can make it through a blizzard or hurricane that shuts things down for a bit. But it gets really old really fast. And if people actually adjust and adopt a new mindset, it will be disorienting to have everything go back to the way it was before.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: RandyBosch on March 28, 2020, 01:06:35 PM
I have been watching two things:
1) A History of Christianity, narrated by Diarmaid MacCulloch, Oxford professor, on public television.  Really pretty illuminating.  He goes to the basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome and asks what Christianity would be like if Paul would have been the primate instead of Peter.  And the priest indicates that Catholicism would not have been established out of a hierarchy of location or person, since that wasn't Paul.  Petrine Rockness being the founding principle led to centralization; Pauline mission would have gone differently.  Maybe so!  Alternate realities, good mind game when the present reality is grim.
2) The Best of NY Mets 2019 season, game by game.  The beauty and wonder of this tour de force is that every game broadcast is a Mets winning game.  When we're in a pandemic epicenter game in NY where we're 10 runs down in the third inning of what could be an endless game, it feels liberating to know that somehow, somehow, the Mets are going to pull out a victory every time.

On the actual soil, while doing morning shopping witnessed a really angry dispute between two women, one of whom accused the other of being inside the 6 foot space, deteriorate nearly to the point of violence - "I'm going to come into your space and knock you the f.. out."  This is in my home 'hood, so people who normally are very genteel.  Not so much this morning.  And this is week one and a half out of who knows how many, maybe ten. 

Holy Week will, in New York Metro, NOT be done in person, which I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.  We'll figure it out.  "My grace is sufficient," says the Lord.

Dave Benke
That's going to be key-- keeping calm over the long haul. Anyone can make it through a blizzard or hurricane that shuts things down for a bit. But it gets really old really fast. And if people actually adjust and adopt a new mindset, it will be disorienting to have everything go back to the way it was before.

I advise against watching the Jack Nicholson movie "The Shining".
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on March 28, 2020, 03:05:25 PM
Walking around in light rain several hundred feet from one of the busiest highways in the country, I495 AKA the Long Island Expressway, AKA the world's longest parking lot, and what the? - could hear birds singing and chirping.  Where did they come from?  Maybe they've been there all along, but drowned out by the traffic. 

Reflecting while walking on this phrase, "Avoid them like the plague."  Hey - that's us!  New Yorkers' new identiity - we are the contaminated.  Plague-ridden.  Carriers. 

 In Rhode Island, if you drive up on I95 and your car is seen, they'll stop you and send you back, or impound your car, or if you're in a house go door to door until they find you and put you and the house under a 14 day quarantine.  Same if you're flying anywhere and your license shows up NYC.  And, I think, soon to be the case with any driving outside the tri-state.  Even in New Jersey, of all places, they were saying that proximity to NYC is the reason for their epicentered-ness.  That's not on us, though.  Because we don't go to New Jersey unless absolutely necessary.  They came to us and took it back.  That's on them.

The question is what to do with that identity.  Wear it proudly?  Not really a thing.  Wear it knowingly.  That's OK - I/we don't want to be plague-spreaders, nor are we personally interested in having the plague.  We'll weather it out, steering clear, washing every trace of sin-ly contamination off our hands and arms, above all praying for the hand of God to bless.

As to The Shining, definitely one of my top ten all-time flicks.  Danny-boy!!

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Richard Johnson on March 28, 2020, 04:16:12 PM
I have been feeling lucky (my wife says "guilty") that we really are not suffering much here right now. We are mostly staying home, venturing out only to the grocery store or for occasional works of mercy. My wife went to the fabric store yesterday to get materials to make masks for the local hospital, phone order and curbside delivery. Last Monday we worked at the food ministry, and will do so again this week, providing groceries to those in need (and in whose faces I see a lot more sheer terror than anyone else I interact with). The ministry has done a fabulous job turning on a dime and revising procedures so that clients don't leave their cars, and there are no "order slips" that go through multiple hands. It's tough right now because the overwhelming majority of volunteers are seniors (and more senior than I), and about half of them do not feel they can come in. But a good cadre of younger folks have stepped up--boy scouts, college students, etc. My wife felt a little nervous about us continuing to go, but somebody needs to do it.

We're doing Bible studies and Lenten studies via Zoom, and having a weekly clergy staff meeting in the same way, so that takes up most of Thursday. We are at this point doing services on video with only four people in the church--the rector, the musician, a tech person and one other. I was up today, so went to church for the production which will be posted tomorrow. We maintained the required distance throughout.

On the home front, I finished a writing project for the Lutheran Historical Conference Journal, cleaned up my office (still working on the study), and we're getting ready to do some possession pruning (if we can just find somewhere to store the stuff until the thrift stores reopen!). We talk to one or the other of our kids almost every day; had a Zoom get together with my wife's four siblings and all the spouses the other day, with people checking in from London, New York, Minnesota and California.

We live in a beautiful place and can safely walk in the neighborhood, seeing and chatting with neighbors (again with the requisite social distance).

I do OK being home alone, but after I retired, when my wife was still working, I realized after a few weeks that I needed to be deliberate about social interaction. Church was my primary opportunity. Having that interaction now so limited is somewhat difficult, but we're managing.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on March 28, 2020, 08:14:22 PM
Yup, they're coming up here from the Twin Cities, bringing it along. Is there something about stay-at-home and no unnecessary travel that they don't understand?! Thanks a lot!  :(

https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2020/03/26/coronavirus-in-minnesota-state-health-officials-warn-against-cabin-quarantine/

BTW, Charles. Have you tested positive or been with someone who did? If not, why are you "in quarantine"?

On a lighter note, we're making videos of the Sunday and midweek Lenten services due to the stay-at-home and sending the posted links to the members. MJ and I just watched the online video of tomorrow's service. I said, "Okay, you've been to church." Her response: "We should do this more often. I like gin and tonics during church!"

The little pagan ... ;)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on March 28, 2020, 10:17:13 PM
My parents are in senior living in Mendota Heights. My sister offered to go grocery shopping for them, leave it outside the facility, etc. Nope, Dad was going to shop for his own groceries! He's 95, and no one is going to tell him what to do!

Ah, so you aren't being "in quarantine." You were being hyperbolic. Kinda like the one you so hate.

Or, since you deem the one you so hate to be lying in his hyperbole, does that mean you are lying in the title to this thread?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on March 28, 2020, 10:49:40 PM
So, you are not "in quarantine." Right? The same situation as my parents. They are not in quarantine. Their facility has the same limitations that you describe.

They can go out. Despite our objections and dear sister's offer, Dad went grocery shopping today. I did not approve. But a guy who fought at "Hacksaw Ridge'" and worse can do pretty much whatever he wants.

You can go out. You are not "in Quarantine."

Right?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on March 29, 2020, 12:58:36 AM
So, you are not "in quarantine." Right? The same situation as my parents. They are not in quarantine. Their facility has the same limitations that you describe.

They can go out. Despite our objections and dear sister's offer, Dad went grocery shopping today. I did not approve. But a guy who fought at "Hacksaw Ridge'" and worse can do pretty much do what he wants.

You can go out. You are not "in quarantine."

Right?
Please just let this thread be about reflections.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on March 29, 2020, 01:07:47 AM
Reflections about ... what?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on March 29, 2020, 01:15:29 AM
Reflections about ... what?
Nothing. You're under no obligation to post anything whatsoever, nor to read anything posted by others.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on March 29, 2020, 01:20:34 AM
One man's reflections about nothing?   :o

Am I able to comment on the topic?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on March 29, 2020, 08:30:57 AM
I thank Charles for starting this thread. It is a very good idea; it gives us an opportunity to show our better faces. I am spending my extra time doing just what the title says--reflecting.

Make no mistake. The COVID-19 crisis is most serious. I believe those medical scientists who tell us it will get worse and that it could last more than a year. That is serious! Yet I have some (faint) optimistic thoughts; after all, the glass is also "half-full."

1.   Traditional American cooperation is in high gear. The $2 Trillion relief bill is the primary proof of that, especially that it could pass unanimously in this era of deep polarization. But that devotion to cooperation is apparent in every neighborhood. Last week my immigrant neighbor (Bangladesh) next door called me to assure me that if I needed anything at all, please let them know. (It occurred to me that I am 80 after all; I don't think of that often but they are aware of it)

2.   As our elected officials weigh decisions and advocate for the life and death needs of their constituents, in my mind I reflect applying their stated reasoning to the issue of abortion. I see the weight of the arguments for life over expediency. That's not universal of course but "life" dominates our public thinking, it seems to me. We are not suddenly going to reverse abortion the month following the conclusion of our crisis but I think we will continue to inch forward and end the crisis closer than we were on January 2020.

3.   Maybe, just maybe, we will experience a sustained revival of religion. 9/11 gave us only a (very) brief revival. Corona may drive us deeper into the mysteries God and our desperate need for him. Let's wait and see.

Like everyone, I also do the ordinary. Cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning (my cleaning service is shut down), calling my talented and faithful colleagues (I'm the circuit visitor), reading what I had not gotten around to, dinng with daughter and grandson, etc.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on March 29, 2020, 08:31:40 AM
In my youth, we used to sing a song called "Pass It On."  Hadn't sung it in decades, and it turns out it was popular in the West Indies.  Who knew?  So one of our members sings it annually.  Not today.  Not this spring.  The refrain is "that's how it is with God's love/once you've experienced it/you spread his love to everyone/you want to pass it on." 

Seems apropos the current contagion.  So many billions of microbes around us attempting contagion, but the one thing we do want to spread is the love of God.

The song starts "what a wondrous time is spring/when all the birds are singing..."  We are able, really for one of the first times in memory in NYC and its outer boroughs at the epicenter, to hear the birds singing.  Life chirping away, without extraneous noise interference.  Hopeful.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Likeness on March 29, 2020, 10:38:57 AM
Unfortunately, "One man's reflections" have become another predictable
opportunity to trash the current President of the United States.

It must be a difficult balancing act for the New Jersey Transplant to pray for
and trash the President at the same time.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on March 29, 2020, 12:38:11 PM
So, you are not "in quarantine." Right? The same situation as my parents. They are not in quarantine. Their facility has the same limitations that you describe.

They can go out. Despite our objections and dear sister's offer, Dad went grocery shopping today. I did not approve. But a guy who fought at "Hacksaw Ridge'" and worse can do pretty much do what he wants.

You can go out. You are not "in quarantine."

Right?
Please just let this thread be about reflections.
Pr. Kirchner's request to clarify quarantine is valid to understanding 'reflections' ... Am almost 90 year old retired pastor friend recently left his retirement/assisted living center to attend a family funeral a few hundred miles away.  Not only was he highly discouraged from going, heavily grilled as to the destination of his travels, but when he returned he was restricted to his room for 3 days (quarantined if you will) after his return.

Yes ... understanding the intended use of quarantine is very important to understanding reflections here.

Thank you to journalist Austin for redacting the political comments ... It's always good to have political free zones.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: RandyBosch on March 29, 2020, 12:50:53 PM
Most helpful, while on "restricted duty" as encouraged by health care professionals and almost mandated by State and local government leaders, have been daily devotions posted by our Pastors, live-streamed Sunday morning services (two, one the Traditional service and one the Contemporary service, both with complete liturgy - excepting of course any form of ersatz-Communion), wife's weekly Bible Study including group discussions continued via Zoom, mine via messaging.

One of my correspondent's shared a "Federal Reserve release of one emergency Churchill quotation" (I'm not naming the correspondent to avoid tempting anyone with off-thread stuff, but if you really, after prayer, have a need to know - DM me and I will pray over providing a link).  Here it is:

"Now this is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." (W.S. Churchill)

I am pleased that leaders are starting to plan for and equip us for a slow but competent return to a new "normal".
My hope is on the assured grace, mercy, forgiveness and salvation given to us by and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My hope is built on nothing less.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on March 29, 2020, 02:15:16 PM
Today we had quite a following for the online worship - lots of friends from around the country and indeed from other countries.  At the end, being the upbeat Lenten Sunday, we ended with "How Great Thou Art."  I got an immediate text from a member "in exile" in Southern California.  It was always here favorite, and she let me know how much she appreciated it.  These are little things, normally.  But I'm definitely of the opinion that songs, hymns and spiritual songs bear absolutely the result that St. Paul promises - gratitude (Xaris - loving-kindness, grace) proceeds through that singing. 

In other words, whatever the rest of the teaching and admonition might contain in terms of wisdom, the use of these vessels of praise and thanksgiving, our songs and hymns, bring gratitude to the fore. 

Since the choir was out of the sanctuary, the musician and I sang a duet of "O Death, Where is Thy Sting", based on the Gospel lesson - here's Randy Travis with his version:  https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=O+Death%2C+where+is+thy+sting+randy+travis+you+tube.  We also sang "Them Bones"  after the lesson from Ezekiel.  We couldn't do justice to the Delta Rhythm Boys:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVoPG9HtYF8.  But we gave it our best shot.  Our musician has a long history of experience in the music scene.  If you watch the Delta Rhythm Boys they hardly move during the entire song - that was a burden placed on black singing groups back in the day - no extra motions in video recordings.  Be sedate.  In private sessions, on a song like this, there was plenty more animation by the group.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on March 30, 2020, 12:58:07 PM
Chapter 5: Life in Quarantine – Sunday/Monday
We “attended” church at Mt. Olivet, Minneapolis, where the highlight was a fine sermon by Dr. David Lohse. I think churches need to think beyond just “televising” what would have been a “normal” service. But we are learning things along the way.
   Our ride took us to a park on Lake Minnetonka, a pleasant diversion. Then we drove by the kids’ house and picked up (keeping distance) a plate full of freshly-smoked ribs and barbecue sauce and took them home. The food was great, though the situation was somewhat saddened by the fact that we were not eating with them.
   This morning someone on television said he didn’t like the term “social distance,” because more than ever we need “social contact.” He said he kept “physical distance,” but could still be (a little) “social” by shouting greetings or smiling at others 10 feet away. This happened on yesterday’s ride, as we would greet people in the park from the proper distance. It’s rough, but necessary.
   Sad to read in the New Jersey press about the incidents of infection and sickness there. The town where we used to live has the largest number of sicknesses in the county – 273. Other towns usually have 3-7 incidents. Our son, who works for a company that does “relief” after disasters like fires, floods, and other things that wreak havoc, says he has a couple of gallons of what he calls “nuclear power” sanitizer and cleaner. And the company gives him protective gear if he has to go to a disaster site.
   I’m suggesting via email to some folks here at Trillium Woods, that we try a Zoom meeting on Wednesday to chat and share thoughts. We’ll see what the response is. To my surprise, a number of people here are not heavily involved in online communications, although many are.
   Feeling down, I was, late at night; so I sought some relief in music. And I found it. I was looking on YouTube for the “How Great Thou Art” sung by the “Happiness Emporium,” the famed barbershop quartet from Minneapolis. Couldn’t find it; but found some really uplifting things.
   Some tech genius found how to put together a “virtual choir.” Here are young folk scattered around the country singing “Down to the River to Pray”
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY4CW5pte98 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY4CW5pte98)
    And here is “In Christ Alone” and “Abendlied” by the National Lutheran Choir.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7IHEhhG4Y (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7IHEhhG4Y)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_NqzFGLYyo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_NqzFGLYyo)
    Of course this moving “Children of the Heavenly Father” by the choir of Concordia, Moorhead, got to me.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyPEohF6qq8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyPEohF6qq8)
And “It Is Well With My Soul” by the Wartburg College choir, singing at a church in Nebraska, works too.
I did find “How Great Thou Art,” sung by two young teenagers, but I don’t know where. They don’t have much “stage presence,” but the voices are terrific. And if you know the traditional harmonies, you can sing any part with them. It works with this arrangement.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plpMqBYhnpg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plpMqBYhnpg)
     Hope everyone keeps well. We must learn how to handle our mental stress for another month at least.
Additional sources of music/Bible studies KFUO (https://www.kfuo.org)

For Music Lutheran Public Radio (https://lutheranpublicradio.org)

Also our own Rev William Weedon....
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever A Daily, Verse-by-Verse Bible Study with the Church, Past and Present www.thewordendures.org (http://www.thewordendures.org/)  The Word of the Lord is available on YouTube (https://m.youtube.com/user/IssuesEtc) as well.

The long running Issues Ect. (https://issuesetc.org) includes weekly studies of both the one and three year series readings.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on March 30, 2020, 02:07:53 PM
Thanks for all musical connectives.  They really help.

One of our congregation's favorites, "It Is Well With My Soul" put together now in the Virus lockdown by a group of singers from Nashville:  https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2610692759162815&external_log_id=b60e0fa64fe31fbafe8485077e5cefb1&q=It%20is%20well%20with%20my%20soul.

V. 3
My sin, not in part, but the whole/was nailed to the cross/and I bear it no more/it is well, it is well with my soul.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James_Gale on March 30, 2020, 03:33:25 PM
Chapter 5: Life in Quarantine – Sunday/Monday
We “attended” church at Mt. Olivet, Minneapolis, where the highlight was a fine sermon by Dr. David Lohse. I think churches need to think beyond just “televising” what would have been a “normal” service. But we are learning things along the way.
   Our ride took us to a park on Lake Minnetonka, a pleasant diversion. Then we drove by the kids’ house and picked up (keeping distance) a plate full of freshly-smoked ribs and barbecue sauce and took them home. The food was great, though the situation was somewhat saddened by the fact that we were not eating with them.
   This morning someone on television said he didn’t like the term “social distance,” because more than ever we need “social contact.” He said he kept “physical distance,” but could still be (a little) “social” by shouting greetings or smiling at others 10 feet away. This happened on yesterday’s ride, as we would greet people in the park from the proper distance. It’s rough, but necessary.
   Sad to read in the New Jersey press about the incidents of infection and sickness there. The town where we used to live has the largest number of sicknesses in the county – 273. Other towns usually have 3-7 incidents. Our son, who works for a company that does “relief” after disasters like fires, floods, and other things that wreak havoc, says he has a couple of gallons of what he calls “nuclear power” sanitizer and cleaner. And the company gives him protective gear if he has to go to a disaster site.
   I’m suggesting via email to some folks here at Trillium Woods, that we try a Zoom meeting on Wednesday to chat and share thoughts. We’ll see what the response is. To my surprise, a number of people here are not heavily involved in online communications, although many are.
   Feeling down, I was, late at night; so I sought some relief in music. And I found it. I was looking on YouTube for the “How Great Thou Art” sung by the “Happiness Emporium,” the famed barbershop quartet from Minneapolis. Couldn’t find it; but found some really uplifting things.
Some tech genius found how to put together a “virtual choir.” Here are young folk scattered around the country singing “Down to the River to Pray”
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY4CW5pte98 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY4CW5pte98)
And here is “In Christ Alone” and “Abendlied” by the National Lutheran Choir.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7IHEhhG4Y (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7IHEhhG4Y)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_NqzFGLYyo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_NqzFGLYyo)
Of course this moving “Children of the Heavenly Father” by the choir of Concordia, Moorhead, got to me.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_NqzFGLYyo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_NqzFGLYyo)
And “It Is Well With My Soul” by the Wartburg College choir, singing at a church in Nebraska, works too.
   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyPEohF6qq8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyPEohF6qq8)
I did find “How Great Thou Art,” sung by two young teenagers, but I don’t know where. They don’t have much “stage presence,” but the voices are terrific. And if you know the traditional harmonies, you can sing any part with them. It works with this arrangement.
     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plpMqBYhnpg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plpMqBYhnpg)
     Hope everyone keeps well. We must learn how to handle our mental stress for another month at least.


Thanks for this.  It's helpful.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Norman Teigen on March 31, 2020, 07:19:08 AM
I spent time last night on You Tube.  I viewed a number of presentations  of the hymn 'Abide With Me.'  Was surprised to learn the hymn is sung in English soccer stadiums at  championship games. NFL, please take note.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: DeHall1 on March 31, 2020, 08:12:34 AM
I spent time last night on You Tube.  I viewed a number of presentations  of the hymn 'Abide With Me.'  Was surprised to learn the hymn is sung in English soccer stadiums at  championship games. NFL, please take note.
I’m familiar with “Abide With Me” being sung at Wembley Stadium (for the FA Cup Final).  What other stadiums is it sung in?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on March 31, 2020, 09:18:05 AM
I spent time last night on You Tube.  I viewed a number of presentations  of the hymn 'Abide With Me.'  Was surprised to learn the hymn is sung in English soccer stadiums at  championship games. NFL, please take note.

One can hear "Abide with Me" sung at Vespers in a church here: https://youtu.be/Ueg7wjk4MF8?t=711

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on March 31, 2020, 11:30:17 PM
My wife and I spent the evening playing pinochle with our sons in Seattle and Denver through https://www.trickstercards.com (https://www.trickstercards.com/game/).


It didn't allow us to cheat. :)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: NCLutheran2 on April 01, 2020, 09:37:37 PM
I wrote and posted the following reflection on Facebook a few days ago. There were the usual negative comments from people attacking my doubts, but I was quite surprised be the number of people who said I managed to express feelings they themselves were also having, but couldn't articulate. It's a rather pessimistic observation, but I can't help but feel times are rather pessimistic.



A Reflection

To say the last two weeks have been difficult is a massive understatement. In that short span of time, I have lost so much dear to me. The restaurants and cafés where I socialized are now closed. My job, to which I was just beginning to acclimate after 6 months of sheer misery, has been replaced virtually by the incessant clanging of Microsoft Teams. Wedding plans I have worked on for years have been cancelled, vanished. All because of a virus, too small to see without a microscope, that condemns its victims to drown in their own lungs, borne into this world by a single individual insane enough to eat a bat. The sense of loss I have is visible, palpable, and very, very frightening.

I have cried until there are no more tears to cry. I have thought until there are no more thoughts within. I have vomited in despair, lain awake until passed out from exhaustion, and denied, bargained, fought, and pleaded with God. I have scoured my mind and applied all the sheer force of reason and analysis the Gerald G. Fox Master of Public Administration program has imbued me to all the information, news, and data I could possibly consume to find an answer to the loss. There has been none.

COVID-19 is coming, and the sheer enormity of this pandemic condemns me to suffer. My own poor choices place me into a high-risk category, meaning that when - not if - I contract this disease along with 80% of humanity, I will likely be among the worst-off and most desperate of patients. The reality of our slapshod, slovenly healthcare systems means that I will most likely be refused testing and treatment and sent home to die in isolation, clutching a handful of cash made worthless by the legal theft of quantitative easing. I pray - desperately - that the post-nasal drip and occasional chest tightness I've been dealing with for five days is seasonal allergies and not the slow-burning harbinger of coronavirus' inexorable creep towards me.

So, for the first time in my almost thirty years, I have had to seriously confront my own mortality. While we all know prima facie that we will die, and that random chance makes this a possibility each day, it is quite different to actually see your own guillotine. I have always considered it impossible for a living being to truly imagine and understand death. Most religions promise an afterlife in some form, and most forms of Christianity would guarantee that I will make it to heaven. But there is little to no evidence of an afterlife in which to place some hope, a situation which is worsened by my general inability to exhibit faith in any meaningful way.

However, having now plumbed the depths of what exactly non-existence may entail, I have come to peace with my own mortality. I will die, probably sooner than later, essentially almost instantly on any historical or natural time scale. The sadness of potentially missing out on so much of life is tempered by the realization that I am almost certainly guaranteed never to realize I am missing it. Death is, cruelly, the burden of the living.

In this knowledge, though, there is some consolation. Other living people will be able to experience the same things I experience - and much more. The seasons will continue their rhythmic change. Animals and nature and weather will continue their lives and processes and patterns unaffected. The sun and moon will continue to rise and set for probably several million more years. I have come to find all this very comforting. That comfort has made me unafraid. And that confidence is power.

This is no way, shape, or form means that I am laying back and waiting to die. I am far too prideful and selfish in my desire to do the things I want to do today, tomorrow, and fifty years from now to give up yet. Coronavirus will come and make me suffer but I have far too much toughness and willpower baked into my genes that I will make it suffer, too. Tomorrow morning, after I wake up and regret and delete this post, I will again throw myself into the endless turpitude of Microsoft Teams. I will continue to work towards my own goals while grieving for all that has and is and will be lost, including, eventually, my own life. There is simply nothing else left to do.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on April 02, 2020, 08:07:09 AM
I wrote and posted the following reflection on Facebook a few days ago. There were the usual negative comments from people attacking my doubts, but I was quite surprised be the number of people who said I managed to express feelings they themselves were also having, but couldn't articulate. It's a rather pessimistic observation, but I can't help but feel times are rather pessimistic.



A Reflection

To say the last two weeks have been difficult is a massive understatement. In that short span of time, I have lost so much dear to me. The restaurants and cafés where I socialized are now closed. My job, to which I was just beginning to acclimate after 6 months of sheer misery, has been replaced virtually by the incessant clanging of Microsoft Teams. Wedding plans I have worked on for years have been cancelled, vanished. All because of a virus, too small to see without a microscope, that condemns its victims to drown in their own lungs, borne into this world by a single individual insane enough to eat a bat. The sense of loss I have is visible, palpable, and very, very frightening.

I have cried until there are no more tears to cry. I have thought until there are no more thoughts within. I have vomited in despair, lain awake until passed out from exhaustion, and denied, bargained, fought, and pleaded with God. I have scoured my mind and applied all the sheer force of reason and analysis the Gerald G. Fox Master of Public Administration program has imbued me to all the information, news, and data I could possibly consume to find an answer to the loss. There has been none.

COVID-19 is coming, and the sheer enormity of this pandemic condemns me to suffer. My own poor choices place me into a high-risk category, meaning that when - not if - I contract this disease along with 80% of humanity, I will likely be among the worst-off and most desperate of patients. The reality of our slapshod, slovenly healthcare systems means that I will most likely be refused testing and treatment and sent home to die in isolation, clutching a handful of cash made worthless by the legal theft of quantitative easing. I pray - desperately - that the post-nasal drip and occasional chest tightness I've been dealing with for five days is seasonal allergies and not the slow-burning harbinger of coronavirus' inexorable creep towards me.

So, for the first time in my almost thirty years, I have had to seriously confront my own mortality. While we all know prima facie that we will die, and that random chance makes this a possibility each day, it is quite different to actually see your own guillotine. I have always considered it impossible for a living being to truly imagine and understand death. Most religions promise an afterlife in some form, and most forms of Christianity would guarantee that I will make it to heaven. But there is little to no evidence of an afterlife in which to place some hope, a situation which is worsened by my general inability to exhibit faith in any meaningful way.

However, having now plumbed the depths of what exactly non-existence may entail, I have come to peace with my own mortality. I will die, probably sooner than later, essentially almost instantly on any historical or natural time scale. The sadness of potentially missing out on so much of life is tempered by the realization that I am almost certainly guaranteed never to realize I am missing it. Death is, cruelly, the burden of the living.

In this knowledge, though, there is some consolation. Other living people will be able to experience the same things I experience - and much more. The seasons will continue their rhythmic change. Animals and nature and weather will continue their lives and processes and patterns unaffected. The sun and moon will continue to rise and set for probably several million more years. I have come to find all this very comforting. That comfort has made me unafraid. And that confidence is power.

This is no way, shape, or form means that I am laying back and waiting to die. I am far too prideful and selfish in my desire to do the things I want to do today, tomorrow, and fifty years from now to give up yet. Coronavirus will come and make me suffer but I have far too much toughness and willpower baked into my genes that I will make it suffer, too. Tomorrow morning, after I wake up and regret and delete this post, I will again throw myself into the endless turpitude of Microsoft Teams. I will continue to work towards my own goals while grieving for all that has and is and will be lost, including, eventually, my own life. There is simply nothing else left to do.

Thank you, Robert. You are honest. You speak what we all know deep down. Blessings.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on April 02, 2020, 09:50:22 AM
In reference to a recent post reflecting on the fears associated with this pandemic, this article, in my opinion, is worth the read.  It may be that our greatest enemy in the end is not the virus but our own incessant fears. Our fears will do more long term damage than this micron-sized microbe.

https://medium.com/the-mission/why-coronavirus-should-be-the-least-of-your-worries-d6ed6abe75bc?fbclid=IwAR0zAX-3ilobSDKaukcyh8xZaD3RDupcYSNA7cW78x8JZwKuiu68z0aUHwk (https://medium.com/the-mission/why-coronavirus-should-be-the-least-of-your-worries-d6ed6abe75bc?fbclid=IwAR0zAX-3ilobSDKaukcyh8xZaD3RDupcYSNA7cW78x8JZwKuiu68z0aUHwk)

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on April 02, 2020, 10:06:14 AM
There was a strong piece this morning by a black evangelical reaching out to those who continue to hold in person worship services as an act of defiance against the devil and the intrusions of government.  The idea is "we are not afraid" of this demon virus and we're not afraid to gather and hold hands with one another because we must obey God rather than men.  So even as here in NYC I spend a ton of time calming people's fears, we're not in the business of flying off and saying that we can engage in reckless behavior.

We often sing "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," which contains this verse:  What have I to dread/what have I to fear/leaning on the Everlasting Arms/I have blessed peace/with my Lord so near/leaning on the Everlasting Arms."  Leaning on Jesus.  Very comforting.  So the last time we sang it on live-stream, I said, don't lean on me; in fact, don't touch me.  And I won't touch you.  But you can always lean on Jesus.  In him there is nothing to fear.  Be at peace.

It is weird to be in touch without touching, though, here in EmptyStreetVille.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on April 02, 2020, 10:28:07 AM
Agreed that we cannot be consumed by fear of the virus. But that could lead to a casual attitude towards mitigation of the disease or protection for others.
And in my not-so-humble-opinion, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" was a phrase that seemed to have caught on and did some good, given its time and source. Today? Not so sure.

That makes absolutely no sense. There is a world of difference between fear and acting prudent and in love for one's neighbor.

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior ..." (Isaiah 43:1-3a)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on April 02, 2020, 12:24:35 PM
Uncontrolled fear vs. prudent concern for one's neighbor revealed itself when the first wave of panic hit the stores. If resources should become increasingly scarce, and as unemployment numbers continue to rise, we are going to witness a much different face of our communities than we are accustomed to seeing.  This kind of fear (vs. healthy concerns for safety) is going to lead to the exacerbation of all kinds of societal problems, not least of which will be increased violence, depression, and substance abuse. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: MaddogLutheran on April 02, 2020, 01:41:01 PM
It may be that another very real and very dangerous and destructive illness in our society shows itself in the need for Dr. Fausi to have bodyguards these days, because there are credible threats against him from people who believe that his word and his work is an effort to undermine the president. These threats come after certain elements of the Twitterverse abound with conspiracy theories about people out to get the President.

My goodness, I hate to be the one to break this difficult news to you, but a crazed partisan shot a congressman a couple of years ago.  You have my deepest sympathy at you hearing this difficult news that the destructive illness you lament has been going on longer than you realized.  Apparently your quarantine lifestyle preceded the current pandemic.

Crazies are not unique to one end of the political spectrum...something I shouldn't need to say, but apparently do.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James_Gale on April 02, 2020, 02:42:43 PM
It may be that another very real and very dangerous and destructive illness in our society shows itself in the need for Dr. Fausi to have bodyguards these days, because there are credible threats against him from people who believe that his word and his work is an effort to undermine the president. These threats come after certain elements of the Twitterverse abound with conspiracy theories about people out to get the President.


The Washington Post article upon which this all seems to be based says this:


The exact nature of the threats against [Dr. Fauci] was not clear.  Greater exposure has led to more praise for the doctor but also more criticism." 


For reasons that are anything but clear, the Post article goes on to describe some of the criticism of Fauci from far-right pundits.  The Post for some reason chooses not go into criticism of Fauci from other points on the ideological spectrum or of Dr. Birx from anyone.


The key point, though, is that the Post does not link pundits' criticism to any security threats, and indeed makes clear that it lacks facts establishing any such link.  But, as you like to say, carry on.



Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Eileen Smith on April 02, 2020, 03:10:58 PM
Agreed that we cannot be consumed by fear of the virus. But that could lead to a casual attitude towards mitigation of the disease or protection for others.
And in my not-so-humble-opinion, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" was a phrase that seemed to have caught on and did some good, given its time and source. Today? Not so sure.

That makes absolutely no sense. There is a world of difference between fear and acting prudent and in love for one's neighbor.

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior ..." (Isaiah 43:1-3a)

The piece above (bold) is my confirmation verse.  I've always loved it and it helps guide my life.  But to the discussion, in the midst of this time I think of something Pastor Johnson shared early on in the discussions .... be mindful, not fearful.  I cannot control what is going on around me nor can I control what may be in our future (more virulent, more hoarding, perhaps even violence), but I can be mindful. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Richard Johnson on April 05, 2020, 07:15:37 PM
Figuring out how to do "virtual worship" is a real challenge, as we're all discovering. What's the balance between "keeping it familiar" and "not just trying to do a regular service with no worshipers, but adapt to the new situation"? My daughter (who has the benefit of a parishioner with video editing experience) put this Palm Sunday procession together, which I think is really quite remarkable:

https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM (https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM)

We sort of copied the idea at our church, but with much less expertise, so we just used still photos rather than video. It wasn't nearly as engaging, but still quite moving to see the faces of people we are missing.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Eileen Smith on April 05, 2020, 07:33:59 PM
Figuring out how to do "virtual worship" is a real challenge, as we're all discovering. What's the balance between "keeping it familiar" and "not just trying to do a regular service with no worshipers, but adapt to the new situation"? My daughter (who has the benefit of a parishioner with video editing experience) put this Palm Sunday procession together, which I think is really quite remarkable:

https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM (https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM)

We sort of copied the idea at our church, but with much less expertise, so we just used still photos rather than video. It wasn't nearly as engaging, but still quite moving to see the faces of people we are missing.

Thank you for sharing this very beautiful video. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on April 05, 2020, 08:05:07 PM
Figuring out how to do "virtual worship" is a real challenge, as we're all discovering. What's the balance between "keeping it familiar" and "not just trying to do a regular service with no worshipers, but adapt to the new situation"? My daughter (who has the benefit of a parishioner with video editing experience) put this Palm Sunday procession together, which I think is really quite remarkable:

https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM (https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM)

We sort of copied the idea at our church, but with much less expertise, so we just used still photos rather than video. It wasn't nearly as engaging, but still quite moving to see the faces of people we are missing.

This is very good!  Kind of stuck in Brooklyn, we went to the Brooklyn Terminal Market where all the flowers come into the borough, got a lovely palm plant in a big pot, put it on rollers and the palm itself - immune to COVID19 - processed from the entrance of the sanctuary up to the altar.  It did start waving along the way - in the spirit of the day.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on April 05, 2020, 09:06:55 PM
We live streamed our entire service, complete with the traditional Palm Sunday opening. However, I put a vase with several palm branches next to the pulpit and posted the picture to our church's FB page the day before with this caption:
"Hosanna, loud hosanna, the little children sang..." Unfortunately this year those "little children" will not be seen processing up the aisle waving palm branches. Nevertheless, this vase of palm branches will sit next to the pulpit tomorrow morning as a reminder of their usual presence, ushering in our Palm Sunday worship, and as a hope that next year we will again know the joy of being together in God's house, where new branches will be waved once more as we sing "All Glory, Laud, and Honor."
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J.L. Precup on April 06, 2020, 12:36:07 PM
Figuring out how to do "virtual worship" is a real challenge, as we're all discovering. What's the balance between "keeping it familiar" and "not just trying to do a regular service with no worshipers, but adapt to the new situation"? My daughter (who has the benefit of a parishioner with video editing experience) put this Palm Sunday procession together, which I think is really quite remarkable:

https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM (https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM)

We sort of copied the idea at our church, but with much less expertise, so we just used still photos rather than video. It wasn't nearly as engaging, but still quite moving to see the faces of people we are missing.

This is very good!  Kind of stuck in Brooklyn, we went to the Brooklyn Terminal Market where all the flowers come into the borough, got a lovely palm plant in a big pot, put it on rollers and the palm itself - immune to COVID19 - processed from the entrance of the sanctuary up to the altar.  It did start waving along the way - in the spirit of the day.

Dave Benke

I tuned into live stream worship yesterday, and wondered why the person operating the camera was wandering around outside.  And why in the world would the camera continually pan up and down the street too high to see any traffic going by, little that it was.  Then, without coffee, I got it!  I was looking at the palm trees I see everyday as the fronds at the very top gently swayed in a light breeze.  Hosanna! 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on April 06, 2020, 02:36:46 PM
Figuring out how to do "virtual worship" is a real challenge, as we're all discovering. What's the balance between "keeping it familiar" and "not just trying to do a regular service with no worshipers, but adapt to the new situation"? My daughter (who has the benefit of a parishioner with video editing experience) put this Palm Sunday procession together, which I think is really quite remarkable:

https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM (https://www.stpaulspittsford.org/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PalmSundayProcession.mp4?fbclid=IwAR2rjU4Ea19cnFLUhIxaQXCIQWnraREBSxGjv5HC9InM6e8VQAZa5Nuc5kM)

We sort of copied the idea at our church, but with much less expertise, so we just used still photos rather than video. It wasn't nearly as engaging, but still quite moving to see the faces of people we are missing.

This is very good!  Kind of stuck in Brooklyn, we went to the Brooklyn Terminal Market where all the flowers come into the borough, got a lovely palm plant in a big pot, put it on rollers and the palm itself - immune to COVID19 - processed from the entrance of the sanctuary up to the altar.  It did start waving along the way - in the spirit of the day.

Dave Benke

I tuned into live stream worship yesterday, and wondered why the person operating the camera was wandering around outside.  And why in the world would the camera continually pan up and down the street too high to see any traffic going by, little that it was.  Then, without coffee, I got it!  I was looking at the palm trees I see everyday as the fronds at the very top gently swayed in a light breeze.  Hosanna!

All those happily liberated palm branches, free from the annual harvest for liturgical use.  The question now becomes what we will burn to make the ashes for next year's Ash Wednesday?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Coach-Rev on April 06, 2020, 02:48:41 PM

All those happily liberated palm branches, free from the annual harvest for liturgical use.  The question now becomes what we will burn to make the ashes for next year's Ash Wednesday?

Dave Benke

We still have the palm fronds used for crosses, and can burn those.  That said, one year our leftover palms molded (!) during the year and were half rotten.  I didn't get ash from them, but it did not matter.  I have a jar of palm ash that is nearly full, containing the remnants of all the palms I've burned over the years that went unused  (I'm also a bit meticulous in that after burning, I use a mortar and pestle to grind to a fine dust, and then sieve out the unburned fibers left behind).  Historical?  no, but for me, there is something timeless in knowing that I'm using ash from ALL of the Palm Sunday palms going back to 1997, reminding me that in my own mortality, I too will be called from this life when my time of ministry has run it's course.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on April 06, 2020, 03:07:39 PM
It's probably been 3 or 4 years since I've burned palms and still have plenty for next year. You can also order palm ashes on line.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on April 06, 2020, 04:30:12 PM

All those happily liberated palm branches, free from the annual harvest for liturgical use.  The question now becomes what we will burn to make the ashes for next year's Ash Wednesday?

Dave Benke

We still have the palm fronds used for crosses, and can burn those.  That said, one year our leftover palms molded (!) during the year and were half rotten.  I didn't get ash from them, but it did not matter.  I have a jar of palm ash that is nearly full, containing the remnants of all the palms I've burned over the years that went unused  (I'm also a bit meticulous in that after burning, I use a mortar and pestle to grind to a fine dust, and then sieve out the unburned fibers left behind).  Historical?  no, but for me, there is something timeless in knowing that I'm using ash from ALL of the Palm Sunday palms going back to 1997, reminding me that in my own mortality, I too will be called from this life when my time of ministry has run it's course.

We also have remainder ashes available, so I'm only being theoretical.  Each year, I add a pinch of ash from a vial that contains the dust from Ground Zero.  Intermingled in that dust are the remains of those who were immolated on September 11 by heat 500 degrees hotter than that used in cremation, a specific reminder, now being called up into current reality here, of our mortality.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on April 06, 2020, 06:49:18 PM
It's probably been 3 or 4 years since I've burned palms and still have plenty for next year. You can also order palm ashes on line.


After reading instructions about how to make the ash from palms, I went to the large Catholic Supply house in town and got them. Later, when I moved away, I ordered them and got them through the mail. Much easier.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on April 06, 2020, 10:46:44 PM
It's probably been 3 or 4 years since I've burned palms and still have plenty for next year. You can also order palm ashes on line.


After reading instructions about how to make the ash from palms, I went to the large Catholic Supply house in town and got them. Later, when I moved away, I ordered them and got them through the mail. Much easier.

A man with a plan!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on April 06, 2020, 10:54:04 PM
When storing leftover palms don't store in a plastic bag but loosely contained in paper. Plastic retains moisture and they may mold. If you let them dry out, they'll store better, and later burn better. Not that they burn at all well in the best of conditions.  I put mine outdoors in an aluminum disposable pan and use a propane torch on them.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on April 06, 2020, 11:04:23 PM
A reflection...watching more tv than normal, partly because I am with the kids and they cannot ride their bikes all day long and our sog cannot take a 24 hour walk. Last night I watched an Australian baking show. Someone made a meringue and the audience went crazy with applause. I was totally shocked. Don't Australians boo meringue?

Jeremy
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Michael Slusser on April 07, 2020, 09:09:37 AM
A reflection...watching more tv than normal, partly because I am with the kids and they cannot ride their bikes all day long and our sog cannot take a 24 hour walk. Last night I watched an Australian baking show. Someone made a meringue and the audience went crazy with applause. I was totally shocked. Don't Australians boo meringue?

Jeremy
:'(  :'(
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on April 16, 2020, 06:56:40 AM
Charles wrote: ". . . today I stripped the rest from the bones and make a curried turkey to put on some wild rice."

Wild rice; one of the things I miss about living in Minnesota.   :)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Norman Teigen on April 16, 2020, 07:10:26 AM
The winter lingers on in Minnesota.  Cold winds from the north at 15 mph and temperatures in the 20s and 30s are restricting my bicycle riding.  Snow bursts of intensity like popcorn popping in the microwave are a daily occurrence.  I find a new source for  my theological education: the You Tube lectures of Professor Steven Paulson.  A Minnesota Heresy Hunter has appeared on this Forum whose hidden agenda is to expose error.  This MHH has introduced me to Professor Paulson and we are eagerly listening to what he says. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 02, 2020, 09:21:49 AM
I wish you could meet my almost 91 year old father ... the Good Lord gave him a wife ... but only for a bit less than 28 years ... called to glory shortly before her 56th birthday ... now sainted for 35 years ... loved and respected by his peers so greatly that he and his wife were disinvited from a holiday party after the invitation was received. His oldest daughter was downs ... and was received to glory before age 40.

He is visually challenged as your wife is ... to the point that he is unable to read hymn lyrics displayed on the largest iPad available. A week ago he tripped in the driveway knocking his head, shoulder, and side on the corner of the brick facade ...with the amount of blood  on the drive, I was sure that there would be an emergency room visit  ... but thankfully not ... but with his upper arm and side are severely bruised ... body movement is painful and sleeping is few and far between ... thankful his 80  year old doctor consented to his having his first patient in over a month.  Yet he can still thank the Lord in all things  ... still witness that all things work for the good for those who love the Lord ... still say the Lord gives ... the Lord takes away  ... blessed be the name of the Lord.

If only you, I, and others were half as thankful as he.

Where is thankfulness in the following "I weary of the stale, flat and non-technical presentations that some churches throw up on YouTube or stream to people. Heavens! Can’t we learn that a different media, a different context, a different everything requires a different approach? Another bright spot: The National Cathedral in Washington D.C. does a good job."?

The National Cathedral video budget is in the many many thousands of dollars ... not to mention the professional staff operating equipment most likely in place long before the pandemic hit.  Many congregations had not even considered video before the pandemic  ... my pastor knew a bit about it ... cut short his family vacation driving back 700 miles so we would not miss a midweek Lenten Service. From forum posts the struggles of pastors struggling  to provide virtual services for their flock with no budget, little technical expertise, no, poor, slow, flakey Internet service,  and sometimes not even a spouse to assist with the camera responsibility.  Rather than viewing services as "stale, flat, and nontechnical, why not be thankful that these.pastors and congregations used the talent available to serve their Lord and flock even with the most basic video and sometimes audio presentation.

How is your criticism of "stale, flat, and nontechnical" virtual.church services received by those.forum members who have become unwilling videographers constructive as they labor many painstaking hours to share God's message in a medium many know little about.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 02, 2020, 09:45:00 AM
I am one of those mid-sized rural churches that simply had no budget for the technical videography I will again produce tomorrow.  We use my cell phone and the available 'data' I have through my carrier since there is also no internet at church.  Even if we had internet it would not be adequate to do the job.

I realize that many are used to productions that are produced with a great deal more expertise and refinement.  But I couldn't help but think of the hand-written card I received this week from one of my 40-something members with three younger children: "Thank you for continuing to provide church services for all of us to watch." 

When this pandemic shut-down is past us, I know that my leadership will be committed to upgrading what I am doing now on a non-existent budget. But right now I am the only real connection with what they would otherwise not see or experience, a lifeline of normalcy in a world turned upside down. 

I realize that seeing what I live stream is a far cry from what can and maybe should be done.  I hope one day to do more.  But right now it is the only thing I can do to minister to them and remind them that although their church is empty, it is used, and that that bell that rings lets our neighborhood know that this virus did not shut down worship.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 02, 2020, 09:49:27 AM
I am one of those mid-sized rural churches that simply had no budget for the technical videography I will again produce tomorrow.  We use my cell phone and the available 'data' I have through my carrier since there is also no internet at church.  Even if we had internet it would not be adequate to do the job.

I realize that many are used to productions that are produced with a great deal more expertise and refinement.  But I couldn't help but think of the hand-written card I received this week from one of my 40-something members with three younger children: "Thank you for continuing to provide church services for all of us to watch." 

When this pandemic shut-down is past us, I know that my leadership will be committed to upgrading what I am doing now on a non-existent budget. But right now I am the only real connection with what they would otherwise not see or experience, a lifeline of normalcy in a world turned upside down. 

I realize that seeing what I live stream is a far cry from what can and maybe should be done.  I hope one day to do more.  But right now it is the only thing I can do to minister to them and remind them that although their church is empty, it is used, and that that bell that rings lets our neighborhood know that this virus did not shut down worship.

Thank you, Rev. Engebretson!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 02, 2020, 10:04:55 AM
Pastor Engebretson's travails in video production were on my mind as I composed my post up stream. Without a congregational website  (at not listed on Synod's website) how do you make the video to your flock?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 02, 2020, 10:14:22 AM
My apologies. I did not mean to put down those who are doing “the best that they can.” I am concerned about those who do not think through what they are doing or simply attempt to re-create “the in the pew” setting.
Do what you can do with what you have. I am sure that blessings will ensue. But keep thinking. Keep looking ahead.

Thank you for re-wording/clarifying your earlier post.  This is MUCH better!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 02, 2020, 10:21:12 AM
Pastor Engebretson's travails in video production were on my mind as I composed my post up stream. Without a congregational website  (at not listed on Synod's website) how do you make the video to your flock?

What I have been doing is uploading the video of the service to Vimeo. I think that you could also do it to YouTube, I'm not up on all the video streaming services or the relative merits of YouTube vs. Vimeo. From Vimeo I can get links that anyone can use to access the video. I then copied those links into an email that I sent out to all members that I have emails for. (I use the BCC function for the email addresses, that way people who receive the email cannot see everyone else's email address. Privacy)


I've also set up a congregational web site that I also post the links on.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 02, 2020, 10:38:25 AM
Why is simply recreating the in pew setting undesirable or unacceptable?  While not fully on board with viewing guidelines such as this (http://www.saint-athanasius.org/Tips.pdf) and the following 
Quote from: trinityaustin.com
To worship at home, place the device you're listening to on a table; make that your altar. Add a cross if you have one. Stand and sit, chant, and sing along as you would normally do in worship

I find no God pleasing grounds to criticize them.

Prior to the pandemic, many congregations, including those of forum member pastors, simply broadcast the service that their in person members participated in the  sanctuary.

How and why should a virtual service differ from an in person service?

Full disclosure  .. other than an occasional critique  (requested and encouraged by the pastor),  I have absolutely no involvement in the video production on Sunday Mornings.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: RPG on May 02, 2020, 10:43:28 AM
Pastor Engebretson's travails in video production were on my mind as I composed my post up stream. Without a congregational website  (at not listed on Synod's website) how do you make the video to your flock?

What I have been doing is uploading the video of the service to Vimeo. I think that you could also do it to YouTube, I'm not up on all the video streaming services or the relative merits of YouTube vs. Vimeo. From Vimeo I can get links that anyone can use to access the video. I then copied those links into an email that I sent out to all members that I have emails for. (I use the BCC function for the email addresses, that way people who receive the email cannot see everyone else's email address. Privacy)


I've also set up a congregational web site that I also post the links on.

We have no website as of yet, but we do have a (rarely used until now) Facebook page. I've been using a bit of a shotgun approach: video is posted on Facebook and YouTube and goes "live" on Sunday at 9:30 AM. Order of service is posted as images on Facebook and emailed to those we know about. A few paper copies are also available at the church for folks to pick up if they drop off their offering toward the end of the week. 

I live in a very small town in a very rural part of the Northern Plains, but we have a great telephone coop that upgraded to "fiber to the premises" about 5 years ago, so internet speed is great here. They are also the local TV provider, and have offered to air a replay of our service each week on the community channel. It's scheduled at the same time as our service, just delayed one week. We started that last Sunday, and the response from our shut-ins (who have received audio CDs each week for many years) and those who have no internet access (who have been receiving the CDs during The Time of the Virus) has been incredible. We will certainly be continuing this when things go "back to normal."

RPG+
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Eugene Crowner on May 02, 2020, 12:49:22 PM
I can report a little bit of good news as I sit in the lockdown at Claremont Manor in California.

The U.P. had a longstanding dispute with the IRS about tax treatment of labor agreements and shares awarded to employees.  It all dates back to 1991 and 1996.  The U.P. finally won the case. 

Last week I got my share of the refund.  The interest on the refund was a bit over 2.5 times the amount of the refund.  I am happy to have had the interest working in my direction. 

Now, 29 years after the dispute began and 20 years after I retired, the check came as a pleasant reminder of my time on the railroad.

And with the lockdown and all, I downloaded an app and deposited the check via my iPhone.

I also added some extra to this month's church offering.

Eugene Crowner
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 02, 2020, 02:13:09 PM
Why is simply recreating the in pew setting undesirable or unacceptable?  While not fully on board with viewing guidelines such as this (http://www.saint-athanasius.org/Tips.pdf) and the following 
Quote from: trinityaustin.com
To worship at home, place the device you're listening to on a table; make that your altar. Add a cross if you have one. Stand and sit, chant, and sing along as you would normally do in worship

I find no God pleasing grounds to criticize them.

Prior to the pandemic, many congregations, including those of forum member pastors, simply broadcast the service that their in person members participated in the  sanctuary.

How and why should a virtual service differ from an in person service?

Full disclosure  .. other than an occasional critique  (requested and encouraged by the pastor),  I have absolutely no involvement in the video production on Sunday Mornings.

I have seen a handful of Sunday services since the quarantine began.  Given that many started from scratch you can well imagine the variety that ensued.  What a pastor chooses to do is probably influenced by his philosophy of what he wishes to offer and accomplish, or what he feels is most important.  So some will focus primarily on the pastor in the pulpit, or elsewhere. Others, like me, choose to pan out and capture the entire altar area from the lectern to the pulpit.  My philosophy is that I wish to offer an image of what it would look like to those who would be sitting in the pew; kind of a way of letting them experience, virtually, a little bit of their church 'home.'  We would focus in and out if my phone were so sophisticated and we were sure it wouldn't interfere with the live streaming quality.  It seemed better to just leave it alone for the duration of the service. 

Likewise, some simply strive to share a message given by the pastor from his study or home.  I wanted everything to be in the setting it would normally be in for Sunday.  I realize that this presents some limitations, but overall the quality of sound and picture are not objectionable.  In a couple of cases we have re-recorded the entire service and then re-posted it because of glitches in the transmission due to the phone we used at the time. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 02, 2020, 02:22:43 PM
I have been using a Canon video camera that I picked up on sale at Walmart for a couple of hundred dollars. It records the service on an SD card that I can then insert into my laptop, copy the video files to the laptop, and then process and up load them from there.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 02, 2020, 02:36:08 PM
I have a Canon camcorder that my children gave me, and used it the first time we recorded.  Unfortunately it divided the hour-long service into two files.  Also, upload speeds with our internet are abysmal.  In the end it just seemed easier, for the present, to live stream with our cell phone using data (which is faster than our internet).  If I did record and upload I would have to take the SD card and my laptop about 6 miles away to the local technical college, where sitting in the parking lot in my van I would transfer the material.  Could be done.  Just a lot more work at this stage.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 02, 2020, 02:57:48 PM
We each must deal with situation we're handed, even if not ideal or some turn up their nose at our lack of sophisticated technology or innovative camera work or staging.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 02, 2020, 05:29:54 PM
We each must deal with situation we're handed, even if not ideal or some turn up their nose at our lack of sophisticated technology or innovative camera work or staging.
Presentations of worship services lacking sophisticated technology or innovative camera work is important ... it demonstrates that the emphasis should be on the message ... not the medium. Thank you to Pastors Fienen and Engelbretson for sharing your labors of love ... often simplicity is the best!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 02, 2020, 06:59:24 PM
But if the medium does not work, the message is weakened or lost completely.
All I ask is that we consider that what we are doing is not simply lifting a church service out of the chancel and placing it in people’s living rooms. Furthermore, people are very savvy about television as a medium and they are not likely to put up with inept presentations if they go on too long.
There are websites designed to help churches learn how to use the new media. People should take a look at them.

Who's the "we" in "what we are doing," Charles? You're doing nothing but whining and criticizing and eating your shrimp cocktails and ice cream because ... What? ... You are not being sophisticatedly entertained other than at the National Cathedral?  If you are holding services or videoing something that proclaims the Word of God, then I stand corrected.

Some of us who are not tech savvy struggled to get things right. And many of us received notes of thanks,that our flock misses church and appreciates the videos of services. They are hearing The Word. God's Word. Proclaimed. Hymns with perhaps Pastor's and the cameraman's voices alone. That proclaims The Word.

Don't ever diss the power of The Word of God, Charles, simply because it's not entertaining or sophisticated enough for you.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 02, 2020, 07:33:33 PM
Don't ever diss the power of The Word of God, Charles, simply because it's not entertaining or sophisticated enough for you.


For the word of God to be powerful, it needs to be heard. Proclaiming the greatest sermon to an empty church will not have any affect. It can't be planted and take root in people's lives if no people hear it.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 02, 2020, 07:43:37 PM
Don't ever diss the power of The Word of God, Charles, simply because it's not entertaining or sophisticated enough for you.

For the word of God to be powerful, it needs to be heard. Proclaiming the greatest sermon to an empty church will not have any affect. It can't be planted and take root in people's lives if no people hear it.

Brian,

I've commented on your stream of consciousness posts. But wow, this one doesn't even manifest cognizance.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 02, 2020, 07:46:04 PM
Don't ever diss the power of The Word of God, Charles, simply because it's not entertaining or sophisticated enough for you.


For the word of God to be powerful, it needs to be heard. Proclaiming the greatest sermon to an empty church will not have any affect. It can't be planted and take root in people's lives if no people hear it.

Given the context of this exchange it would be assumed that the word of God is reaching people through the medium of the internet, just as it might through the radio, TV, etc. People are obviously hearing the word.  They are responding, in part, through notes of gratitude. The idea of preaching so that no one hears it seems, well, odd.  Can't imagine why anyone would do that.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 02, 2020, 07:53:27 PM
Don't ever diss the power of The Word of God, Charles, simply because it's not entertaining or sophisticated enough for you.


For the word of God to be powerful, it needs to be heard. Proclaiming the greatest sermon to an empty church will not have any affect. It can't be planted and take root in people's lives if no people hear it.

Do you even understand what you are responding to? Nobody is suggesting that a sermon preached to an empty church that nobody but the preacher hears or sees is effective. How about a sermon preached to a church that is empty but for a camera that records that sermon or live streams it so that people who cannot be there to listen to the sermon live and in person? Is that efficacious? Even if they don't have the kind of production values that they might be able to pull off at the National Cathedral or a mega church?






Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 02, 2020, 08:02:23 PM
Don't ever diss the power of The Word of God, Charles, simply because it's not entertaining or sophisticated enough for you.

For the word of God to be powerful, it needs to be heard. Proclaiming the greatest sermon to an empty church will not have any affect. It can't be planted and take root in people's lives if no people hear it.

Brian,

I've commented on your stream of consciousness posts. But wow, this one doesn't even manifest cognizance.


So thankful that you weren't my seminary professor when I wrote a paper on hearing the Word of God. There's much we can do to help people hear the message we are proclaiming. 60% of what is heard in a two-way conversation is from non-verbal cues. I suggest that this says a lot about how we deliver a sermon; and the how is just as important as the what. If we say all the right words - properly proclaim the Word - but it's not heard or is misheard; we have not adequately preached the Gospel.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 02, 2020, 08:05:33 PM
Don't ever diss the power of The Word of God, Charles, simply because it's not entertaining or sophisticated enough for you.


For the word of God to be powerful, it needs to be heard. Proclaiming the greatest sermon to an empty church will not have any affect. It can't be planted and take root in people's lives if no people hear it.

Do you even understand what you are responding to? Nobody is suggesting that a sermon preached to an empty church that nobody but the preacher hears or sees is effective. How about a sermon preached to a church that is empty but for a camera that records that sermon or live streams it so that people who cannot be there to listen to the sermon live and in person? Is that efficacious? Even if they don't have the kind of production values that they might be able to pull off at the National Cathedral or a mega church?


I'm suggesting, no, I'm stating, because I've done it; should people tune in and see a poor production or a sermon that's hard to hear, they go to something else. (We've done that with a lot of movies, watch 5-10 minutes and if it hasn't caught our interest by then, we're off hunting for another movie.) Leaving a service/sermon before it's over is much easier when viewing from the privacy of one's home.


Yes, I believe I know what I'm responding to. I'm speaking from my own experiences of watching (and then not watching) services on the internet.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: RandyBosch on May 02, 2020, 09:07:32 PM
Take a breath, Pastor Fienen.  It ain’t worth all this mewling. Good grief!

Mewling (especially of a baby): Cry feebly or querulously; whimper.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 03, 2020, 10:34:43 AM
Don't ever diss the power of The Word of God, Charles, simply because it's not entertaining or sophisticated enough for you.

For the word of God to be powerful, it needs to be heard. Proclaiming the greatest sermon to an empty church will not have any affect. It can't be planted and take root in people's lives if no people hear it.

Brian,

I've commented on your stream of consciousness posts. But wow, this one doesn't even manifest cognizance.

So thankful that you weren't my seminary professor when I wrote a paper on hearing the Word of God. There's much we can do to help people hear the message we are proclaiming. 60% of what is heard in a two-way conversation is from non-verbal cues. I suggest that this says a lot about how we deliver a sermon; and the how is just as important as the what. If we say all the right words - properly proclaim the Word - but it's not heard or is misheard; we have not adequately preached the Gospel.

So, is that it? You had a seminary professor teach you stream of consciousness thinking, to respond with a totally irrelevant and nonsensical observation just because it comes to mind?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: RandyBosch on May 03, 2020, 01:03:10 PM
Chapter 9 - The Haircut 

Nicely written!  Thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on May 03, 2020, 01:18:34 PM
Great write up, Charles. I got my clippers from the online military exchange. I haven't had the courage to try them. Your account stirs me to action.   :)

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 03, 2020, 01:30:35 PM
Chapter 9 - The Haircut 

Nicely written!  Thanks for sharing!

Absolutely - that was great!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: mariemeyer on May 03, 2020, 04:11:31 PM
Because our pastor is not live streaming Bill and I live streamed the service at Pacific Palisades Lutheran.   The preacher was Bill's 92 year old brother, the Rev. Richard Z Meyer, St. Louis class of 1952.  His sermon was on Jesus the Good Shepherd and how the 23rd Psalm speaks to us today.

Due to the distance between Bethel CT and Pacific Palisades CA we have not heard Dick preach for many years.  This morning my reflections turned to the last time I heard Bill's dad preach shortly before his death at 89.  Today, as Bill and I worshiped from the dining room table I glanced at the picture of Bill's 21 year old mother on her wedding day. She was a role model for me as a daughter of our heavenly father, a wife, a mother and a disciple of Christ.

Marie Meyer 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 03, 2020, 04:18:44 PM
Because our pastor is not live streaming Bill and I live streamed the service at Pacific Palisades Lutheran.   The preacher was Bill's 92 year old brother, the Rev. Richard Z Meyer, St. Louis class of 1952.  His sermon was on Jesus the Good Shepherd and how the 23rd Psalm speaks to us today.

Due to the distance between Bethel CT and Pacific Palisades CA we have not heard Dick preach for many years.  This morning my reflections turned to the last time I heard Bill's dad preach shortly before his death at 89.  Today, as Bill and I worshiped from the dining room table I glanced at the picture of Bill's 21 year old mother on her wedding day. She was a role model for me as a daughter of our heavenly father, a wife, a mother and a disciple of Christ.

Marie Meyer

Great reminiscences, Marie!  Wow - I met Dick several times, a vibrant pastor just like his brother Bill.  I have trouble understanding the big age difference, though, since Bill is still in his mid-60s, and you're what, 54?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 03, 2020, 04:24:17 PM
Don't ever diss the power of The Word of God, Charles, simply because it's not entertaining or sophisticated enough for you.

For the word of God to be powerful, it needs to be heard. Proclaiming the greatest sermon to an empty church will not have any affect. It can't be planted and take root in people's lives if no people hear it.

Brian,

I've commented on your stream of consciousness posts. But wow, this one doesn't even manifest cognizance.

So thankful that you weren't my seminary professor when I wrote a paper on hearing the Word of God. There's much we can do to help people hear the message we are proclaiming. 60% of what is heard in a two-way conversation is from non-verbal cues. I suggest that this says a lot about how we deliver a sermon; and the how is just as important as the what. If we say all the right words - properly proclaim the Word - but it's not heard or is misheard; we have not adequately preached the Gospel.

So, is that it? You had a seminary professor teach you stream of consciousness thinking, to respond with a totally irrelevant and nonsensical observation just because it comes to mind?


So if 1/2 or 3/4 of the viewers turn off the streaming service before it's over; that's "totally irrelevant and nonsensical"? What number of folks leaving a service in the middle become relevant?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 03, 2020, 04:58:20 PM
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 03, 2020, 06:20:21 PM
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳


The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.


You don't think people, even back in my parent's generation, flipped through TV channels to find a more entertaining worship service? Billy Graham drew thousands to his crusades and TV shows. Other evangelists were not so entertaining. I would watch Oral Roberts because of the quality of the programming. (I didn't care much about the message back then.) They put on a good music show.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 03, 2020, 06:35:44 PM
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳


The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.

Sorry Rev Stoffregen ... quality was NOT the original issue ... as is clearly stated below the medium IS the issue that originated this discussion. Quality and medium are NOT (https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/medium) synonyms.

But if the medium does not work, the message is weakened or lost completely.

But then moving the goal posts is your speciality. ☹️
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 03, 2020, 07:16:48 PM
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳


The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.


You don't think people, even back in my parent's generation, flipped through TV channels to find a more entertaining worship service? Billy Graham drew thousands to his crusades and TV shows. Other evangelists were not so entertaining. I would watch Oral Roberts because of the quality of the programming. (I didn't care much about the message back then.) They put on a good music show.

This topic is valuable to me because live-streaming is not something I envisioned as a major ministry tool in my personal mid-70s, and I've had to adjust my brain and think it through some.

We have a lot to learn, but currently have up to 10 times the viewership than normal worship attendance.  Since mid-March, all services are services of the Word.  Since mid-March, one service a week is informal in my dress and in basic approach; one service is more formal in my dress and in the movement of the service (absent Eucharist). 

Worship attenders tell me that they appreciate the live-streaming but absolutely are hungry and longing for in person worship to be with their fellow parishioners.  Some of the rest of the people viewing are interested in joining the fellowship, even though they do not live in New York - that's a new one on me.  Some of the rest of the people viewing are known to me, many are not.  And there are at least six times as many of them as regular attenders. 

We've spent zero dollars in boosting our audience, zero dollars or time in buying email lists or any of the other online resources.  We probably should do those things.  I don't know exactly how to do those things.

We're missing a lot of "our own" people - members and regular attenders without internet or ability to connect to our venues - Facebook, You Tube.  Or who don't know about it.  Or kids, who we're really missing because we haven't figured out online Sunday School yet.  Youth and young adults know how to work the system, so they get what they want or stay away from what they don't want.  I'm thinking of contacting neighborhood attenders and doing a scheduled "walk-by" this week, not going in but standing outside and shooting the breeze with them.  Something.  A "virtual coffee hour" in a couple of weeks.  Somebody put together a video virtual birthday hug for me so I got surprised at the end of the service with around 15 minutes of greetings in vimeo format.  Very cool, emotional for me.  Something I couldn't do myself.

So these are my insights to date:
Look directly into the camera from not too far away and not too close.  Make eye contact with the camera almost all the time.  Don't face away.
The center is the message.  Viewer stats show that overwhelmingly.  Keep the message/sermon to 15 minutes or so, tell stories with a point, leading to the text and the Point, which is Jesus, and get out of there.  Doctrine through the stories - I know, that can't be right.  But it is right.  And look directly into the camera.
What do people hang in there for?
a) The message, connected to a/the text
b) some of the songs - I sing a solo Spanish song (unless somebody sneaks in and joins, which hasn't happened), and we sing some of our repertoire along with traditional hymns.  Lots of positive comments on that
c) prayer time - huge prayer list, and people stick in to hear the prayers as I pray them.  Important, and ex corde, leading to the Lord's Prayer.

The rest - and this can be checked out through the various service providers, is up and down, in and out.  The viewer is in charge of viewing, not me. 
Interior/member attenders watch the whole service, and are interacting with one another all the time, sharing prayer stuff and support, telling one another what they're up to - coffee hour in the comments section during the service.  Again, the viewer is in charge, not me.
Contributions:  This has worked better than I thought, through PayPal.  Who knew?  Not me.

Follow-up with the comments section by me is where the pastoral side of the interaction kicks in.  Which again is weird, but real.  "didn't know your aunt was sick," etc. etc.  Followup phone calls or texts or what'sapps, or facebook messenger - way out of my comfort zone but must be done and done expeditiously, because here you need to......

Stay alert - very hard, very necessary, because stuff is happening and happens rapidly - "the older woman across the street was just taken out in an ambulance.  She never left the house since February but the person upstairs had a home attendant who had the virus, and the older woman caught it from her.  Nobody can see her in the hospital - what should I do?"    No easy answer there.  That goes in the online prayer list, and so becomes part of the congregation's ministry. 

Anyway, how to use this online worship tool at this time for Christ and Kingdom is always on my brain.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: DeHall1 on May 03, 2020, 07:49:01 PM
Thread drift.
I'll open later, if someone doesn't do it first, a topic on Televised Worship. There are resources out there, good examples, things we can learn from. That would be better than yelling at Brian here.

See?  You’ve forced me to agree with Charles....

I enjoyed your haircut story, Charles.  Thanks for taking the time to write it.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 03, 2020, 08:15:23 PM
Thread drift.
I'll open later, if someone doesn't do it first, a topic on Televised Worship. There are resources out there, good examples, things we can learn from. That would be better than yelling at Brian here.
Feigning ‘thread drift’ to distract from “intellectual dishonesty’ is a new low in forum dialog. 


This post (http://alpb.org/Forum/index.php?topic=7415.msg476607#msg476607) clearly documents the moving of the goal posts. Rather than feign victim status for both you and Rev Stoffregen, how about encouraging him to stay on topic and quit moving the goal posts.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on May 03, 2020, 09:12:41 PM
Feigning ‘thread drift’ to distract from “intellectual dishonesty’ is a new low in forum dialog. 


Oh, I don't know.  Other than Charles' occasional shots at the "quality" of some of the vids he's viewed (given the utter simplicity of my Facebook Live Daily Prayer, my immediate reaction each time is whether or not they are up to his standards, although my efforts are greatly appreciated by a wide range of viewers -- I like to think in part because I do keep it utterly simple and literally keep the focus on Jesus nearly all the time) I've rather enjoyed his reflections. 

Brian's intellectual dishonesty is a matter one can read about in hundreds of topics on this forum, and that certainly fits some of them -- particularly the new "Mother God" topic -- better than here.

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 04, 2020, 02:19:12 AM
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳


The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.

Sorry Rev Stoffregen ... quality was NOT the original issue ... as is clearly stated below the medium IS the issue that originated this discussion. Quality and medium are NOT (https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/medium) synonyms.

But if the medium does not work, the message is weakened or lost completely.

But then moving the goal posts is your speciality. ☹️


No, the medium is not the issue, except when it doesn't work. If it's not working at all, it's no longer the medium. "Not working" is defined in Charles post as when the message is "weakened or lost completely." Since we know that the medium works; and that folks can spread their message clearly without it being lost. It's not the medium's fault if a message is weakened or lost. I stand by my interpretation that it's about how well a users is able to use the medium - thus the quality.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 04, 2020, 08:54:30 AM
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳


The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.

Sorry Rev Stoffregen ... quality was NOT the original issue ... as is clearly stated below the medium IS the issue that originated this discussion. Quality and medium are NOT (https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/medium) synonyms.

But if the medium does not work, the message is weakened or lost completely.

But then moving the goal posts is your speciality. ☹️


No, the medium is not the issue, except when it doesn't work. If it's not working at all, it's no longer the medium. "Not working" is defined in Charles post as when the message is "weakened or lost completely." Since we know that the medium works; and that folks can spread their message clearly without it being lost. It's not the medium's fault if a message is weakened or lost. I stand by my interpretation that it's about how well a users is able to use the medium - thus the quality.

This is happening a lot in the real media world right now.  "Uh, we'll get back to you there in your home, Bob - seem to have lost the audio feed," as there's a talking head with nothing coming out speaking earnestly about something important.  Or the sound goes in and out from Ms. X's home computer, and the questions have a long delay before they get to her ears.  Etc., etc.  In these cases, all of which are done with the maximum of professional tech involvement, there are simply too many variables to control.  It lets us know how much the tech media people have going for them in the studio format, and how much we amateurs have to catch up with if we want anything approaching a decent format.

Something I read this morning caught my attention - even as we in the religious communication world are having a big spike in our online outreach, it turns out that the lunatic fringe groups are also having a heyday in recruiting new haters, so many people surfing the net with all those hours at home and all.  So the newest leader of a return to Hitler hate group in Estonia is a thirteen year old boy.  Tech adept.  That lets me know that vigilance is the watchword even as we explore this brave new webcam world.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 04, 2020, 10:01:35 AM
Now you’re simply being intellectually dishonest, Brian. You moved from an empty church, no one hearing, to some not hearing.

And the point remains. If some are not going to listen to the Word of God because they’re not sufficiently entertained or the tech is not top notch, there’s something deeper, more troubling going on. IOW, if it’s like you flicking through movies that you find entertaining...  😳

The original topic was about the quality of the production. I suggested that if the quality is so bad that no one is listening to the live streaming, it's like preaching to an empty church. The Word lands in no soil. I further suggested that if the production quality (not the sermon quality) is bad, folks may stop listening - again, when there's no soil, the word can't be planted and take root. I see nothing dishonest about this. The topic is the quality of the production. The better the quality the more likely people are to tune in and keep listening.

Sorry Rev Stoffregen ... quality was NOT the original issue ... as is clearly stated below the medium IS the issue that originated this discussion. Quality and medium are NOT (https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/medium) synonyms.

But if the medium does not work, the message is weakened or lost completely.

But then moving the goal posts is your speciality. ☹️

No, the medium is not the issue, except when it doesn't work. If it's not working at all, it's no longer the medium. "Not working" is defined in Charles post as when the message is "weakened or lost completely." Since we know that the medium works; and that folks can spread their message clearly without it being lost. It's not the medium's fault if a message is weakened or lost. I stand by my interpretation that it's about how well a users is able to use the medium - thus the quality.
While the forum search function is not perfect, it reveals that Rev Stoffregen is the ONLY forum member to use the word 'quality' since Rev Austin's mention of the medium as a thread topic. 


Continue to discuss quality with yourself ... it should be amusing for forum participants to observe you move goal posts on yourself.  Have a perfectly confusing discussion with yourself.  :o
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 10, 2020, 06:00:53 PM
Rev. Austin,

I know you are writing from the heart.  I know you are saying what so many people are thinking and feeling.  I know similar emotions can be found in the Psalms, and elsewhere in Scripture.  But remember the Answer.

No, not "damn -- just damn".  Save.  Save ME.  When you look to Christ, it is different than when we look to ourselves or our present situation.  I know you know that.  Really.  Don't look at the wind and waves, look at Him.  And then you CAN walk.  Even on the stormy waters.  There is joy, even in this.  Because you have Christ.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 10, 2020, 08:17:48 PM
I suppose it helps when you are distracted by other duties.  Not a day goes by that I am not busy with something for the church, or the family, or the fire department, or all of the above.  Early on I started a daily time of devotion live streamed on FB.  It's only 15 minutes and I am working my way through the book of Acts.  Like Rev. Austin I will likewise confess my less-than-stellar devotion to devotions.  I have used For All the Saints in the past (which I was introduced to by Dr. Arthur Just at a graduate class in Madison back in the mid-90s), and recently moved to Treasury of Daily Prayer in the last year.  The live streamed online devotions 'discipline' me to actually take time, even if I am leading it, to be in the Word on a daily basis.  The structure is simple: Invocation (or opening versicles from Matins), psalm, reading from Acts, closing prayer, Lord's Prayer, benediction. It also pushes me to apply the word directly to the challenges of our time, finding positives to share, knowing my people (and others watching), are rather desperate for a positive word from God.

Most days I think my emotional state is pretty good.  However, some days not as good.  I think it's a combination of things.  Partly being weary, since there are no days off, no real time away from work and responsibility.  Partly guilt, wondering all the time if I am doing enough, watching other brothers in the ministry seemingly burning themselves out trying to cover every base.  I visited with one such brother the other night, and I saw the weariness in him.  We are all feeling it.  And then there is that horrible uncertainty.  What does it look like when they lift the 'stay-at-home' orders?  How do I adapt?  And what happens if this thing re-surges in the fall?  What do we do then?  And what about the tanking economy and rising unemployment and the endless lines at the food banks where the words "Great Depression" are used for comparison more and more with each passing day?  I have to fight back the kind of anxiety I know is not born of faith but of fear.  In the last few days I have had the distraction of of my wife's birthday with Mother's Day following on its heels.  Happy times, even with the children gathered around their computers and cell phones by Zoom.  But this Thursday I have to go to Chicago with my wife and daughter to retrieve the rest of the stuff in her dorm.  I tried everything to get out of going, even appealing to housing that I am 'high risk' as a diabetic and advised not to leave my area.  To no avail.  Now I face a 14 day quarantine. Communing my people privately by appointment will be put on hold, and that was one of the real bright spots of ministry seeing their genuine joy in receiving the gift of Christ's body and blood.  Gone my visits to the city fire department.  I will walk and exercise and read and do whatever I can to push through it.  But it hurts to think that what little freedom I had will now be temporarily taken away.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 10, 2020, 09:43:19 PM
 And what happens if this thing re-surges in the fall?  What do we do then?  And what about the tanking economy and rising unemployment and the endless lines at the food banks where the words "Great Depression" are used for comparison more and more with each passing day?  I have to fight back the kind of anxiety I know is not born of faith but of fear.  In the last few days I have had the distraction of of my wife's birthday with Mother's Day following on its heels.  Happy times, even with the children gathered around their computers and cell phones by Zoom.  But this Thursday I have to go to Chicago with my wife and daughter to retrieve the rest of the stuff in her dorm.  I tried everything to get out of going, even appealing to housing that I am 'high risk' as a diabetic and advised not to leave my area.  To no avail.  Now I face a 14 day quarantine. Communing my people privately by appointment will be put on hold, and that was one of the real bright spots of ministry seeing their genuine joy in receiving the gift of Christ's body and blood.  Gone my visits to the city fire department.  I will walk and exercise and read and do whatever I can to push through it.  But it hurts to think that what little freedom I had will now be temporarily taken away.

That's tough stuff.  Judy and I haven't been quarantined yet, but then we live in Queens and work in Brooklyn so we're really already quarantined.  I haven't even taken a bridge or tunnel.  What that means here is that we're on the island.  Long Island.  And most likely going nowhere. 

I mentioned today in my message that it was one thing to say this is as bad as the Recession of 2008 and the Ebola crisis.  But when it went to the Great Depression and the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 - hey, you're beyond my lifetime.  Yesterday someone put it out there that this is the greatest challenge to the US since the Civil War.  Seriously? 

So what we did today was to plant some tomatoes and peppers in the community garden.  Get down in the dirt.  Think other thoughts.  The lead gardener was digging weeds out of the crevasses in the tiles in the garden pathway.  So after about 45 minutes I went over to her and asked "what song are you playing in your head when you do that?"  She said, "None.  I'm thinking about how to best help a friend of mine who's been through two cancer treatments and was "cured" twice, but has to face it again."  That just blew me away.  There's an actual person, engaging her world to bring hope.  While weeding.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Rob Morris on May 10, 2020, 10:02:00 PM

So what we did today was to plant some tomatoes and peppers in the community garden.  Get down in the dirt.  Think other thoughts.


We call it "dirt therapy" in my house. Anything that gets your shoes muddy or your fingernails grimy or your knees dirty. Or gets sawdust in your hair. Or motor oil on your T-shirt. It's therapeutic. And it's an incredible escape.

When I have enough energy for it...
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 11, 2020, 08:42:51 AM
Pastor Bohler writes:
There is joy, even in this.  Because you have Christ.
I comment:
You are right, of course.
   But in my life and mind, to "have Christ" - for all the eternal glory and promise and reality of in that phrase - does not always get me through the day with the verve and uppy-ness of one dancing the living dream of redemption.
   My life needs real contact with real people, especially loved ones. Maybe that's selfish. Maybe it's selfish to crave listening to and making live music, dining out, live theater, art galleries, and trips to interesting places far from home.
   Those things are all blessings of God that have enlightened and enriched my life; and right now I don't have them. Yes, I have other blessings. So I suppose that should do.
   Even typing this response has turned me a little towards cheerfulness.
   Beloved Spouse and I yesterday were saying how glad we are that we were able to do the things we did - college, careers (two for her, three for me), life abroad, extensive world travel, and interesting friends and experiences, children grown responsible (mostly), and grandchildren to know.
   But there are more things to do. Haven't been to the Greek Islands yet. I would like to see Paris or Rome again and have some filet de perche with friends on the shore of Lake Geneva. More simply, I'd like to have dinner in the dining room with friends also living here in Plymouth. Our granddaughter's confirmation was cancelled and we don't know when it will be re-scheduled.
   The infirmities of age may prevent us from doing some of those things, but right now the virus is certainly preventing us from even considering them.
   Do I need more for joy than to "have Christ"? Is it heresy to say yes?

Do not confuse the gifts with the Giver.  He is the One who gives joy, not them.  Otherwise, you will never truly have it -- there's always more trips to be taken, more time with friends to anticipate, more shows and entertainment to see.  And the devil will always remind you of that. 

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 11, 2020, 09:04:26 AM

So what we did today was to plant some tomatoes and peppers in the community garden.  Get down in the dirt.  Think other thoughts.


We call it "dirt therapy" in my house. Anything that gets your shoes muddy or your fingernails grimy or your knees dirty. Or gets sawdust in your hair. Or motor oil on your T-shirt. It's therapeutic. And it's an incredible escape.

When I have enough energy for it...

True.  This is an observation somewhat from my childhood in Milwaukee, but also out here in NY.  If we can remember back to the day when handshaking was normal - in working class and working poor settings, where the guys go off to the factory or the machine shop or lug stuff around or if rural the farm, and many of the women as well, they often give a suspicious look when shaking the clergyman's hands.  Soft and smooth, clean fingernails.  Insufficient dirt, an office mouse.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 11, 2020, 09:45:28 AM
Dirt therapy. I like it. We've been practicing a lot of dirt therapy at our house the past two months (sometimes literally as my three year old loves playing in dirt). One of the emerging realities from this crisis is food insecurity. Our parish is going to partner with a ministry that serves the food insecure and we are also talking about planting our own green roof garden to supplement that partnership and provide fresh edibles for our neighbors.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 11, 2020, 10:28:18 AM
Pastor Bohler writes:
Do not confuse the gifts with the Giver.  He is the One who gives joy, not them.  Otherwise, you will never truly have it -- there's always more trips to be taken, more time with friends to anticipate, more shows and entertainment to see.  And the devil will always remind you of that. 
I comment:
Thank you, Pastor Bohler, but the joy is hard to see and experience unless it exists in some tangible way. I am reminded of an old Peanuts cartoon. Snoopy is shivering in the cold. Linus walks by and says “be of good cheer.” The last frame of the strip shows snoopy, still shivering.
I am somewhat repelled by your suggestion that it is the devil who reminds me of the human joys of life.
It seems clear that we have a serious misunderstanding.
I would say that you misunderstand me.
You would say that I misunderstand you.
And there we are.

The difference, of course, between our situation and that Peanuts cartoon is that I cannot do anything to give you those things you miss.  All I can do is point you to where true joy may be found.  If that is not enough for you, then I cannot help you.  And I am truly sorry for that.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 11, 2020, 10:44:33 AM
Pastor Bohler writes:
Do not confuse the gifts with the Giver.  He is the One who gives joy, not them.  Otherwise, you will never truly have it -- there's always more trips to be taken, more time with friends to anticipate, more shows and entertainment to see.  And the devil will always remind you of that. 
I comment:
Thank you, Pastor Bohler, but the joy is hard to see and experience unless it exists in some tangible way. I am reminded of an old Peanuts cartoon. Snoopy is shivering in the cold. Linus walks by and says “be of good cheer.” The last frame of the strip shows snoopy, still shivering.
I am somewhat repelled by your suggestion that it is the devil who reminds me of the human joys of life.

Maybe it's selfish to crave listening to and making live music, dining out, live theater, art galleries, and trips to interesting places far from home...
 
But there are more things to do. Haven't been to the Greek Islands yet. I would like to see Paris or Rome again and have some filet de perche with friends on the shore of Lake Geneva.

You live in a beautiful facility that brings you shrimp cocktails and ice cream. You have Beloved Spouse with you. You can walk with her by the lake. Yes, you have your health. You are baptized!

You and Beloved Spouse count your many blessings, blessings that so many in this country much less the world could only dream of. But, for you, it's not enough. You want fancy travel and fancier food. All while people are dying. Alone. Separated from family. Some even separated from their spouse.

Who do you think is whispering to you? Luke 12:13-21

The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
With His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life, goods,
Fame, child and wife,
Let these all be gone,
They yet have nothing won;
The kingdom ours remaineth.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Eileen Smith on May 11, 2020, 11:22:30 AM
I wonder if we are all speaking the same language in our discussion on joy.  I think of joy and/or happiness as something that touches us in this world.  It's not a bad thing - it comes from God's hand.  But it is fleeting. A trip to a restaurant  or a special trip creates memories that may remain but even these memories dull over time and do not give us long-term joy. 

For God's people I think a better term is contentment.  Are we content with what God has given us?   Contentment is a gift of the Holy Spirit that comes to us in baptism.  It is the peace that we cannot understand and yet we knowingly possess it.

I do not disregard the toll that isolation is taking on people across our country and this world.   I often feel it myself.  By the third month of this year we were in lock down and just preceding that lockdown my husband died.  I am very blessed in that I have family, a church family, my husband's church family, and friends who have been wonderful to me.  Yet there are difficult days - days that seem very long and lonely.  But I am grateful to God that even on my more difficult days I still feel content.  Happiness or joyfulness is not the same as contentment.  I may be very sad and yet I feel content with the life God has given me, the gifts he has shared with me.   Contentment allows that "I wish" is eased out of our vocabulary because we already have.

 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Rob Morris on May 11, 2020, 11:47:12 AM
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Pilgrim on May 11, 2020, 11:56:55 AM
I once heard that "joy" and "happiness" are Bibilically distinct. "Happiness" was defined as "right circumstances", if I want to play golf and it's raining, I'm not happy! By contrast, "joy" is "right relationship". From our Lord's perspective, this is established and eternal in our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ. It is sheer gift. However, the living out of that "joy" in our broken world, our relationship with others and with our world...well that is far more difficult, as Charles has eloquently said. This event has separated (root concept of sin) us from one another. Yes, Pastor Bohler, God's promise is sure. But in the warp and woof of a fallen world, the "joy" we once shared in community (church, world and beyond) is deeply and profoundly challenged. We can "know" it is present but because we are not experiencing even remotely fullness we once took for granted, our human nature is feeling the pain of such loss. Not unlike the ongoing emptiness in my life since the death of my wife. I cannot "fix" that, I can rejoice in the promised resurrection, but the daily reality of emptiness and loss is still a part of my ongoing earthly journey. FWIW.

Pr. B.A. "Tim" Christ, STS (retired)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 11, 2020, 12:06:36 PM
Thanks for your pastoral ministry, Rob and for referencing Psalm 88.  The phases and stages of this forced enclosure certainly do a wrap-around on the spirit.  Sometimes there seems to be light, most of the time not very much.  Our lives are often now uneven and patchy.  If we're drawn to "joy comes in the morning" it often seems as though we're stuck in the middle of the night, when weeping comes.

The new normal is checking out random online articles - why?  But there they are.  Here's one:  https://getpocket.com/explore/item/chills-and-thrills-why-some-people-love-music-and-others-don-t?utm_source=pocket-newtab.  What we want, the article posits, is  “eudaimonic well-being”; in other words, enhanced engagement and purpose in life."  Yet there are times when the complexity of music is not just around joy, but difficult themes and chords.  Then music is "anhedonic," complex because we're complex.  It seemed like a good lesson for me, a keyboard dude, to hear, although the verbiage was like entering a thicket.

Anyway, here's to your eudaimonic well-being.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 11, 2020, 12:07:31 PM
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.

As long as we don't stay there. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 11, 2020, 12:11:15 PM
Pastor Kirchner:
You and Beloved Spouse count your many blessings, blessings that so many in this country much less the world could only dream of. But, for you, it's not enough. You want fancy travel and fancier food. All while people are dying. Alone. Separated from family. Some even separated from their spouse.
Me:
Now you sound like one of those guilt-inducing liberals trying to make everyone feel guilty because they have things which others do not have. I make no apologies for what I have or for what I have done because I have obtained and done these things the way you conservatives say they should be obtained - I worked for them. And so did my wife. And they are the ways God has chosen to bless my life. I also share what I have received with others. You think I don't know people are dying and alone? I have seen them. In New Jersey, in New York, in refugee camps in Africa, along our southern border, among refugees resettled in our country.

You seem to have missed the point entirely and didn't relate at all to the Lukan parable.

No one begrudges you for what you have. As I've mentioned, my parents live in a similar facility in Mendota Heights with all the same amenities. They worked hard for it, as did you and your spouse..

But it's not enough for you. You want more and whine because you can't have it right now. IOW, that dog won't hunt.

Perhaps it would help for you to go back and re-read Ms. Smith's post, her heartbreak and yet in Whom she puts her hope, trust, and contentment.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 11, 2020, 01:17:03 PM
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.

As long as we don't stay there.

"We don't stay there" for how long?  The length of time it takes to read a psalm?  A day?  A week? 

This is a complex situation right now.  My folks at church are really anxious, really cooped up, and in that process remembering all kinds of other experiences from their lives.  Certainly there are mountaintoppers, but what I find more prevalent is that other griefs and sorrows are cropping up as they explain their ennui, tiredness, and emotional/spiritual journey.  Long conversations, reminiscences, unburdenings.

It's one thing to say "Buck up."  It's another to say "Jesus is your anchor."  The latter is always true, and both could be helpful.  But in a thread about reflection in quarantine, I think the task is more to listen, to accompany.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 11, 2020, 01:28:20 PM
I once heard that "joy" and "happiness" are Bibilically distinct. "Happiness" was defined as "right circumstances", if I want to play golf and it's raining, I'm not happy! By contrast, "joy" is "right relationship". From our Lord's perspective, this is established and eternal in our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ. It is sheer gift. However, the living out of that "joy" in our broken world, our relationship with others and with our world...well that is far more difficult, as Charles has eloquently said. This event has separated (root concept of sin) us from one another. Yes, Pastor Bohler, God's promise is sure. But in the warp and woof of a fallen world, the "joy" we once shared in community (church, world and beyond) is deeply and profoundly challenged. We can "know" it is present but because we are not experiencing even remotely fullness we once took for granted, our human nature is feeling the pain of such loss. Not unlike the ongoing emptiness in my life since the death of my wife. I cannot "fix" that, I can rejoice in the promised resurrection, but the daily reality of emptiness and loss is still a part of my ongoing earthly journey. FWIW.

Pr. B.A. "Tim" Christ, STS (retired)


It is also Jesus' promise that we are to carry our own crosses daily. That is not a happy experience. Even Jesus expressed his desire that it be removed from him. I'm afraid that those who want to follow Jesus only for the blessed joy, peace, freedom, and happiness, are likely to be disappointed. They are the "cheap grace" people. They want Easter without Good Friday. They want forgiveness without repentance. They want victory without entering the battle. They want to follow Jesus into Paradise, but not to the crucifixion.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 11, 2020, 01:45:24 PM
Well, it did freeze here last night!   ;D
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 11, 2020, 02:43:34 PM
HAPPINESS....is dependent on a person's OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES.
You are happy when you eat out at a good restaurant and the food is delicious.
You are happy when you get a job promotion  and a nice raise in paycheck.
You are unhappy when are confined to your home due to coronavirus.
You are unhappy when you lose your energy &  strength in the aging process.

JOY..............is dependent on a person's INWARD RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
This relationship is a joyful one due to your close relationship with God and
is independent of your outward circumstances. The focus is on God's steadfast
love for you and his faithful promises to you.  His gift of faith to you is nourished
by His Word & Sacraments.  With a repentant heart you receive the forgiveness
of sins and and the joy of salvation.  Heaven is a free gift to all who believe
in Him.

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Rob Morris on May 11, 2020, 03:21:36 PM
As long as we don't stay there.
Agreed. BUT... the timing is His, not ours. And to cry out, “How long, O Lord?” has more than a little Biblical precedent.

Sorrow lasts for the night and joy comes with the morning. We don’t get to pick which it is right now.

But the day is coming when Christ Himself will be our light. And so we groan with longing for what was and what shall be, but is not right now.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 11, 2020, 03:27:11 PM
The terrible sonnets of G.M. Hopkins come to mind in this discussion of joy. In one poem, called Thou Art Indeed Just, the poet asks of God:

    Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me?


He concludes with the seemingly selfish but also very poignant and desperate (with my emphasis added)

Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 11, 2020, 03:40:48 PM
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.

As long as we don't stay there.

"We don't stay there" for how long?  The length of time it takes to read a psalm?  A day?  A week? 

This is a complex situation right now.  My folks at church are really anxious, really cooped up, and in that process remembering all kinds of other experiences from their lives.  Certainly there are mountaintoppers, but what I find more prevalent is that other griefs and sorrows are cropping up as they explain their ennui, tiredness, and emotional/spiritual journey.  Long conversations, reminiscences, unburdenings.

It's one thing to say "Buck up."  It's another to say "Jesus is your anchor."  The latter is always true, and both could be helpful.  But in a thread about reflection in quarantine, I think the task is more to listen, to accompany.

Dave Benke

Maybe my training was different than yours, but I was taught that when a person (especially a Christian) is in pain, we are to point him to Christ.  Not just to listen in silence.  Not to let him stew in despair or (worse) self-pity.  Yeah, this life sometimes does hurt but this life is not where we are to put our focus.  In fact, God uses the pain and suffering of this life for that very purpose.  And so, like St. Paul, we CAN be thankful in all things -- even suffering. In short, I am surprised that on a Christian website, I am questioned for directing a hurting soul to Christ rather than simply letting him vent and curse.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 11, 2020, 04:46:35 PM
"If you are willing to suffer, very well, then the treasure and consolation which is promised and given to you is so great that you ought to suffer willingly and joyfully because Christ and his suffering is being bestowed upon you and made your own. And if you can believe this, then in time of great fear and trouble you will be able to say: Even though I suffer long, very well then, what is that compared with that great treasure which my God has given to me, that I shall live eternally with him? ...

When one knows this it is the more easy and bearable, and one can comfort oneself by saying: Very well, if I want to be a Christian, I must also wear the colors of the court; the dear Christ issues no others in his court; suffering there must be...

So in our suffering we should so act that we give our greatest attention to the promise, in order that our cross and affliction may be turned to good, to something which we could never have asked or thought. And this is precisely the thing which makes a difference between the Christian’s suffering and afflictions and those of all other men. For other people also have their afflictions, cross, and misfortune, just as they also have their times when they can sit in the rose garden and employ their good fortune and their goods as they please. But when they run into affliction and suffering, they have nothing to comfort them, for they do not have the mighty promises and the confidence in God which Christians have. Therefore they cannot comfort themselves with the assurance that God will help them to bear the affliction, much less can they count on it that he will turn their affliction and suffering to good...

Since we know then that it is God’s good pleasure that we should suffer, and that God’s glory is manifested in our suffering, better than in any other way, and since we are the kind of people who cannot hold on to the Word and our faith without suffering, and moreover since we have the noble, previous promise that the cross which God sends to us is not a bad thing, but rather an utterly precious and noble holy thing, why should we not be bold to suffer? As for those who will not suffer, let them go and be cavaliers; we preach this only to the devout who want to be Christians, the others wouldn’t carry it out anyhow. After all, we have so many assurances and promises that he will not allow us to stick in our suffering but will help us out of it, even though all men should doubt it. Therefore, even though it hurts, so be it, you have to go through some suffering anyhow; things cannot always go smoothly. It is just as well, nay, a thousand times better, to have suffered for the sake of Christ, who promised us comfort and help in suffering, than to suffer and despair and perish without comfort and help for the sake of the devil.

This, you see, is the way we teach concerning suffering..."

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s Works, vol. 51: Sermons I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 51, p. 199, 201, 208). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 11, 2020, 04:54:28 PM
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.

As long as we don't stay there.

"We don't stay there" for how long?  The length of time it takes to read a psalm?  A day?  A week? 

This is a complex situation right now.  My folks at church are really anxious, really cooped up, and in that process remembering all kinds of other experiences from their lives.  Certainly there are mountaintoppers, but what I find more prevalent is that other griefs and sorrows are cropping up as they explain their ennui, tiredness, and emotional/spiritual journey.  Long conversations, reminiscences, unburdenings.

It's one thing to say "Buck up."  It's another to say "Jesus is your anchor."  The latter is always true, and both could be helpful.  But in a thread about reflection in quarantine, I think the task is more to listen, to accompany.

Dave Benke

Maybe my training was different than yours, but I was taught that when a person (especially a Christian) is in pain, we are to point him to Christ.  Not just to listen in silence.  Not to let him stew in despair or (worse) self-pity.  Yeah, this life sometimes does hurt but this life is not where we are to put our focus.  In fact, God uses the pain and suffering of this life for that very purpose.  And so, like St. Paul, we CAN be thankful in all things -- even suffering. In short, I am surprised that on a Christian website, I am questioned for directing a hurting soul to Christ rather than simply letting him vent and curse.

Although your training was definitely different from mine, in the area of pastoral care it most likely was similar.  I'm not here to counsel you, the caregiver.  I am however offering an observation that the timing of the giving of direction is very important to the direction being received.  Cf. Psalm 88.  It doesn't end on a happy note.  And that tells us that dark nights of the soul can continue for awhile.  Accompaniment is a wonderful tool - as in "I'll call you tomorrow and be praying for you tonight."  I don't remember many times when Jesus hasn't been part of a care conversation in my pastorate.  But lives and situations are complex these days - I'm becoming better at waiting before putting forward the Final Answer.  That's not an easy task for a pastor.

Off to the side, I have been on the phone with a mayoral commission on mental health and with someone on the front lines as a mental/emotional health counselor today.  We are involved in a tsunami of mental and emotional health issues in our neighborhoods in NYC.  Mental health has not been part of epidemic or pandemic planning at any time; the planning didn't include it, focusing on physical health and economic health.  There are a couple of people who call me at least once a week to check on me - I'm a public and relational person; being home and out of touch is not my favored option.  They know that, and they listen to me and help me through it.  Because they care.  More of those people are needed.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 11, 2020, 05:28:01 PM

"Eat your peas, there are starving children in Armenia who would love to have those peas."
"So, send my peas to them!"


All of us have been affected to one degree or another by this pandemic, with results that range from inconvenient to catastrophic. Whatever the negative impact anyone has personally felt they have suffered a loss. This is not a competition to see who can claim the greater calamity and so is entitled to feel bad about what they are missing. A loss is a loss and we can sympathize with each other over what we are missing even if my loss is not as severe as that of others.


Objectively speaking, I have it pretty good at this time. I am semi-retired so my income is based more on pension and social security than on wages from employment. My church is situated such that it is likely to emerge from this time a bit depleted in reserves perhaps but intact, so even my employment wages are not currently seriously threatened. My county, except for a prison that houses undocumented immigrants who have committed federal offenses, has had two confirmed cases. Our area is not under serious threat. I recognize that I have it better than many do at this time, better probably than many of the other people in these discussions. I realize that and am thankful.


Even so, this has been an inconvenience and a distressing time. I am distressed for the difficulties that many others are having and sympathize for their plight. It has been inconvenient to disrupt our normal operations as a church, but we have done so. Partly to be good citizens and obey the governor's directives, partly to be good neighbors and refrain for activities that could spread the illness to others, especially the particularly vulnerable. It has disrupted what I like to do. I miss being able to go out to a restaurant when I want to, I dislike wearing a mask when I do go out. I realize these are not nearly as serious results as some suffer, but they are mine and they are now an unwelcome part of my life. To deny the negative impart of these times on my life helps no one and likely hinders my efforts to cope. However, I also need to keep it all in perspective and not wallow in my discomfort and demand sympathy and assistance from others all out of proportion to my plight.


So I will have times when I especially feel and resent what this dastardly virus is doing to me, but also look around at those who have been afflicted far worse and whom I can serve in their plights. So I do not resent that Pr. Austin feels the loss of normal activities, I feel it too. Nor do I for one minute suppose that he feels that his plight is so much worse than others. I don't at all think that he is playing the "woe is me" card. While our circumstances are in some ways different we also have similarities. And I suppose that as acknowledging my small privations at this time helps me to sympathize and if possible reach with help to those suffering much greater, so it is with him.


I long ago stopped admiring the stiff upper lip that refuses to admit sorrow and loss, and pretends to be unaffected by such.  But we can recognize and feel loss over our negative experiences while still keeping it in perspective by also recognizing how our situation also contains blessing to be recognized, rejoiced over, and thanked for. And also recognizing that mine is not a unique loss that gives me status as one that all should rush to rescue but that even in my distress I can and should reach out to those in greater distress.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 11, 2020, 05:34:28 PM
Here you go, Charles. She'll bring you some comfort Just don't holler at her, "Get your hands away from your face!"

https://www.facebook.com/sarcasticlutheran/videos/263023411507212/?__tn__=kCH-R&eid=ARDufGGmM_HQIj34wqDWfPg_EHIPJfCDIS1V67X9Wc7Xqv_nK5NLMX3Xp1KRHFLHunwo25iVUV6dWQde&hc_ref=ARRj2xjrdQKk1bqDxdETh-UNVANQzGe6C9X4coVmbGutXYlw-DSMn8Alc6GxYgRLyvc&fref=nf&__xts__[0]=68.ARDVlBA85PhNWyjwb57axA35PY3QpP0WFqNMQwq-PLMI5JrKoBYXzz6xn5FUkQmEQTnP5NoVa8gkinS0j_955S7BI7k1RT5BRZqLpWot5FKmLqzpGwfWui6dkkvq00TIPRuJ_CaUD8d21r50zJ4FPq1Ur6uvgsUvamkLQqkVRIzckFXGL1QFbSwJ2iofUc9wiX5c6tKrENezSjqOOQ-VSXvmel55fkmV2cGGkDDbaRNKVsk-sVnC4cSBfVVZWGoINfCtZT-mhjHRokqbgoGO5ELz7BK_dNgTRHDQzfFczqqa6a0G_oSxLClTMFVVuVHjsNNAyPkpByITD6yZ5ecpw5xMGYJW8UhdIigEnraKeeHgL2yxCuzRY3XCvWz0OBpKJ2LD
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 11, 2020, 06:04:40 PM
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.

As long as we don't stay there.

"We don't stay there" for how long?  The length of time it takes to read a psalm?  A day?  A week? 

This is a complex situation right now.  My folks at church are really anxious, really cooped up, and in that process remembering all kinds of other experiences from their lives.  Certainly there are mountaintoppers, but what I find more prevalent is that other griefs and sorrows are cropping up as they explain their ennui, tiredness, and emotional/spiritual journey.  Long conversations, reminiscences, unburdenings.

It's one thing to say "Buck up."  It's another to say "Jesus is your anchor."  The latter is always true, and both could be helpful.  But in a thread about reflection in quarantine, I think the task is more to listen, to accompany.

Dave Benke

Maybe my training was different than yours, but I was taught that when a person (especially a Christian) is in pain, we are to point him to Christ.  Not just to listen in silence.  Not to let him stew in despair or (worse) self-pity.  Yeah, this life sometimes does hurt but this life is not where we are to put our focus.  In fact, God uses the pain and suffering of this life for that very purpose.  And so, like St. Paul, we CAN be thankful in all things -- even suffering. In short, I am surprised that on a Christian website, I am questioned for directing a hurting soul to Christ rather than simply letting him vent and curse.


Yup, my training was different than yours. In fact, the professor took issue with those who did what you were taught. It was a class on the psalms - and specifically the laments. He argued that we need to give people time and permission to lament; rather than to try and shorten their time of suffering. NOTE WELL: a lament is still a prayer to God. Lamenters are expressing a belief in God. Those who have turned their backs on God don't talk to God.


In fact, throughout the pastoral care classes, we were advised not to tell suffering folks things like, "Cheer up! All things work for good for those who love God;" or "Rejoice in the Lord, always;" of "In all things give thanks;" even if those are biblical phrases. When parents have just lost a child to SIDS or a drowning accident, that is not a time to utter such platitudes. It's time to let them grieve and lament. It's time to just be present.


I remember vividly working with a high school group, before I was ordained; one of the boys had a sister, actually a classmate of mine, who had been killed in a car accident. He expressed appreciation for another boy in the group who came over and just sat with him. The other boy admitted he had no idea what to say. Words were not necessary at that time. Friendship and presence was important.


The Psalms of Thanksgiving happen after the problems of the laments have been resolved. They don't happen during the lament. "Give people time to lament," was the advice of the professor from his study of the psalms.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 11, 2020, 08:08:46 PM
Perhaps this will help, Charles.

https://lutheranreformation.org/theology/luther-cross-suffering/

Of course, I'm sure you have Luther's Works in hard copy or electronic Logos. What Lutheran pastor doesn't?   ;)  Volume 51 Sermons I. Pelikan, et al, put in a lot of time and hard work.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 11, 2020, 08:13:51 PM
There's some good stuff in here about phase two of retirement, when it's no longer "semi".  https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/05/what-the-heros-journey-teaches-about-happy-retirement/611194/?utm_source=pocket-newtab.

I've often thought about Luther from the other perspective - the end segment wasn't the best for him.  Daughter dies.  Gout, kidney stones, general tubby bad diet guy stuff that brings pain and discomfort, cursing the pope and comparing him to pretty much any animal or body part that occurred to him, writing off the wall really nasty stuff about Jews that has always bothered people, dealing with the reality that the world was not going to end and the left wing guys were on an iconoclastic tear, not having much of an idea about how it would all come out.   Bugenhagen must have had his hands full.  And notwithstanding Don's fine quote, the guy had a darker side.  How would he have known in say 1545 that he would be voted the most important figure of the second millenium?  He didn't - "bag of bones."  A well-stuffed bag.

I think yes, he had a childlike faith, a Gospel faith, a Jesus loves me this I know faith.  So it's fine.  But I think he had a bunch of bad days there toward the end.  I would bet the Tischreden was a bit off-color then.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 11, 2020, 08:14:12 PM
Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn. I suspect the key word is “with.” If your commiseration comes across as “against” rather than “with” then the truth gets lost.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Rob Morris on May 11, 2020, 08:24:07 PM
And it certainly doesn’t say to tell those who are mourning why they should be rejoicing instead. A time for everything...
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 11, 2020, 08:37:05 PM
Sounds like you're bucking up amidst your suffering, Charles. That's good.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 11, 2020, 08:57:36 PM
When I have my times of poor-poor-me navel gazing, I do not want a pastor who pats my hand and tells me that I am right, life sucks, and God apparently doesn't care.  I want one who tells me that it will be all right because Christ has died for ME.  That my suffering has a purpose, even if neither he nor I can see it at the present.  That my God is in control and He LOVES me.  But to each his own, I guess.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 11, 2020, 09:42:02 PM
And there may be times when common sense, a realistic and scientific look at the world, and simple resignation is of more comforting than faith, scripture, theology or ancient "wisdom."
Pandemics and plagues have little to do with messing up the earth and our care thereof except in the sense that sin is the root of death and much suffering is self-inflicted. That's a theological take based on faith, Scripture, theology, and ancient wisdom. There is no realistic science or common sense that can make a case that the suffering of people quarantined due to a pandemic results from our having messed up the earth or each other. If anything, the scientific outlook sees the outbreak of periodic pandemics as a normal, healthy function of evolution.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 11, 2020, 10:52:04 PM
Peter writes:
There is no realistic science or common sense that can make a case that the suffering of people quarantined due to a pandemic results from our having messed up the earth or each other.
I comment:
That's a different issue completely, but I'm not taking it on right now.
It is the issue you brought up-- God did not inflict this upon me. We inflicted it upon ourselves. We messed up the earth, messed up our care of the earth and each other. We are the source of suffering, not God.

I only responded to it because of your later post that said there may be times when common sense, a realistic and scientific look at the world, and simple resignation is of more comforting than faith, scripture, theology or ancient "wisdom." The point was simply that there is no suffering not addressed by faith, scripture, theology, and ancient wisdom (not sure why you needed the scare quotes). Even your declaration that we, not God, are the source of our suffering is matter of theology, not common sense or realistic science.

From Job to Elijah to Jeremiah to Christ on the cross, we have a tremendous wellspring of faithful contemplation of suffering from which to draw in dark times, and certainly poets like Hopkins have plumbed its depths more recently. "Comforter, where is your comforting?" It seems to be theology and sacred poetry offer more to one in the depths of despondency than realistic science and common sense. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Rob Morris on May 11, 2020, 11:47:59 PM
When I have my times of poor-poor-me navel gazing, I do not want a pastor who pats my hand and tells me that I am right, life sucks, and God apparently doesn't care.  I want one who tells me that it will be all right because Christ has died for ME.  That my suffering has a purpose, even if neither he nor I can see it at the present.  That my God is in control and He LOVES me.  But to each his own, I guess.

Not sure if it's me that you think you are in disagreement with... I don't disagree with what you're saying above.

I also don't think you would want a pastor who decides that all experiences of grief, trauma, or despair count as "poor-poor-me navel gazing". In those moments when life's weight seems crushing, a different response may be the right way to serve as a curate of souls. Sometimes that means just validating just how broken, twisted, and suffocating our sin-stained experience can be. Like I said, we need room for Psalm 88. And room for the God who chose to leave Psalm 88 in Scripture, even with the ending it has.

All of what you said is true and Christian pastoral care will and must point that direction, but maybe not immediately and maybe not all at once. Commiseration can lead to proclamation, but that journey may have multiple steps along the way. That's all I'm saying. The bottle of pills that can nurse a patient back to health can kill the patient if you prescribe them all in one dose. Recall that Jesus wept, too, even when he knew the resurrection that awaited. Surely this was an example to be followed and not an error to be corrected or an embarrassing moment of weakness on Jesus' part from which we ought to politely avert our gaze.

I spent plenty of time in the cardboard carnival of Pentecostalism where the only acceptable public expressions were those of hope, certainty, and joy. Lutheranism, with its understanding of the theology of the cross, of the necessity of anfechtungen/tentatio, is far richer and far more true to the Biblical witness. Sometimes "steeples are falling". Sometimes there are "wrecks of time". The crumbling and the wreckage are real - downplay that and you downplay the rock that still stands and the cross that still towers. "I trust when dark my road" is far different from "Hey, this road's not so dark after all." The darkness is why he died. Diminishing the darkness only diminishes the victory.

I don't think we're truly in disagreement. It's just sometimes, grief and doubt and despair need enough room to breathe and find expression. If the Psalms had enough room, our ministry had better as well. If God didn't feel a need to censor it or diminish it or correct it, perhaps we shouldn't either.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 12, 2020, 02:21:27 AM
When I have my times of poor-poor-me navel gazing, I do not want a pastor who pats my hand and tells me that I am right, life sucks, and God apparently doesn't care.  I want one who tells me that it will be all right because Christ has died for ME.  That my suffering has a purpose, even if neither he nor I can see it at the present.  That my God is in control and He LOVES me.  But to each his own, I guess.


Which of those words do you tell parents whose infant has just died? "You'll be all right because Jesus died for your child"? "Your child's suffering and your suffering has a purpose"? "God is in control and he loves you and your child"?


When a friend of mine talked about his child's drowning just before his fifth birthday, he still breaks down in tears and it's been over 30 years since it happened. The pain of that death still hurts. This man is a Lutheran minister. He knows all of those promises of God and the comfort in Jesus. It doesn't take away the pain of a child's death.


My father died 20 years ago. What was the purpose in his death? If you want to say that it greatly helped out my mom as she received settlements from asbestos companies, you can do that. (Especially after they had spent all their savings in their business that went broke.) We'd rather our father and husband were still alive.


We certainly have joy and hope in Jesus; and at the same time we can grieve the loss that comes from death. We can be angry at the sin in the world that causes tragedies and early deaths. We seldom have pure emotions. We are people of the "and": sinner and saint. We can be joyful and sorrowful.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 12, 2020, 09:38:28 AM
You all have convinced me.  I take back my telling Rev. Austin to look to Christ for his joy.  Instead, I will just let him sit there in his gilded cage, bemoaning his sorry existence and cursing.  Because somehow, in a way I do not really get, pointing him to Christ is to deny his suffering.  Because that moaning and cursing is what he needs now, apparently even more than he needs Christ.  Because that leaving a person to moan and curse is what Psalm 88 insists be done, and I certainly do not want to censor it or diminish or correct it.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 12, 2020, 10:37:20 AM
What I need now (selfishly, I am told  >:( ) is a fuller dose of the blessings that God has given the world, human companionship, art, literature, the wonders of the earth.

No, you do not, Charles. That's what you selfishly think that you need. Learn from a guy who had a few more hardships than you being bored in your fancy facility wanting to eat even fancier food and travel to exotic places. And don't suggest to us that you're looking for Christ in those things. To quote you, "That dog won't hunt."

"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." [2 Cor 12:7-10]

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 12, 2020, 10:59:43 AM
Rev Austin's "as with the flip remarks of some current heads of state" tragically indicateso how incapable he is of controlling his angst .. and unfortunately his preoccupation with blaming his life's issues on politics  >:(  Now back to the thread topic.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 12, 2020, 12:17:58 PM
Rev Austin's "as with the flip remarks of some current heads of state" tragically indicateso how incapable he is of controlling his angst .. and unfortunately his preoccupation with blaming his life's issues on politics  >:(  Now back to the thread topic.

The thread topic is "Life in Quarantine:  One man's reflections," initiated and authored by Charles Austin.  His reflections ARE the thread topic. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: pastorg1@aol.com on May 12, 2020, 12:41:25 PM
They are the topic of every thread.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 12, 2020, 12:53:11 PM
Rev Austin's "as with the flip remarks of some current heads of state" tragically indicateso how incapable he is of controlling his angst .. and unfortunately his preoccupation with blaming his life's issues on politics  >:(  Now back to the thread topic.

The thread topic is "Life in Quarantine:  One man's reflections," initiated and authored by Charles Austin.  His reflections ARE the thread topic. 

Dave Benke
I beg to differ ... had others introduced politics into this thread that has been free from politics ... and refreshingly politically neutral, there is little doubt in that a similar statement would have been rightfully posted by Rev Austin.  There is ample opportunity for political discourse elsewhere on the numerous political threads.

But your compulsion to agree/defend Rev Austin (who is fully capable of defending himself) has been privately noted on numerous occasions.

Those who think that “politics” have no bearing on the ills we and our neighbors face are just stupid. <emphasis added>


It’s tragic that that a retired ‘professional’ journalist is so intolerant that he must resort to name calling and personal attacks on statements/opinions that are not in lock step with his.



 >:(   Now back to the thread topic.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: DeHall1 on May 12, 2020, 01:07:24 PM
Unbelievable.
Some remain tone deaf.
Those who think that “politics” have no bearing on the ills we and our neighbors face are just stupid.
Off, I am, to other matters.

Just keep lamenting your dire circumstances..... ::)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 12, 2020, 01:08:38 PM

This recent conversation ably illustrates the futility of effectively ministering to people experiencing a difficult time in their life via the internet, especially in an open forum. Directing people to look to Jesus for joy, hope, and healing is the ultimate answer, but it is usually not as simply as just laying that on them and they should just perk right up and be fine. It usually just doesn't work that way. In the middle of grief or discontent people usually have a great many thoughts and emotions to work through before they can resolve to calm confidence in Jesus. While I do not take Kubler Ross and her stages of grief as absolute gospel, she has made some very good observations. Dealing with loss and privation of any sort is a process and there are no short cuts.


Sometimes people do need to be told to get over themselves, quit their belly aching, recognize that others have it much worse than themselves, and get on with things.  But that is a conclusion that should only be reached after much listening to the person and helping them explore their experience. A post or even several posts on the internet is hardly adequate.


I fear that sometimes a too quick and glib assurance that Jesus will take care of everything ends up coming off less of caring ministry than an unwillingness to listen to and help the person deal with their pain. "Take these two Bible passages and get out of my face!"
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 12, 2020, 01:24:38 PM
Unbelievable.
Some remain tone deaf.
Those who think that “politics” have no bearing on the ills we and our neighbors face are just stupid.
Off, I am, to other matters.

Just keep lamenting your dire circumstances..... ::)


So, you would have kept Lamentations out of the Bible? It was wrong for the people to express their frustrations at God for what was happening to Jerusalem?


Surprisingly, perhaps, there's not a book in the Bible called Joy!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 12, 2020, 01:39:37 PM

This recent conversation ably illustrates the futility of effectively ministering to people experiencing a difficult time in their life via the internet, especially in an open forum. Directing people to look to Jesus for joy, hope, and healing is the ultimate answer, but it is usually not as simply as just laying that on them and they should just perk right up and be fine. It usually just doesn't work that way. In the middle of grief or discontent people usually have a great many thoughts and emotions to work through before they can resolve to calm confidence in Jesus. While I do not take Kubler Ross and her stages of grief as absolute gospel, she has made some very good observations. Dealing with loss and privation of any sort is a process and there are no short cuts.


Sometimes people do need to be told to get over themselves, quit their belly aching, recognize that others have it much worse than themselves, and get on with things.  But that is a conclusion that should only be reached after much listening to the person and helping them explore their experience. A post or even several posts on the internet is hardly adequate.


I fear that sometimes a too quick and glib assurance that Jesus will take care of everything ends up coming off less of caring ministry than an unwillingness to listen to and help the person deal with their pain. "Take these two Bible passages and get out of my face!"


Or, "Take your God and get out of my face."


The goodness that God brings through suffering nearly always comes with hindsight - getting far enough removed from the painful situation that one can look back on it more objectively and see God's presence through the storm.


This can mean that pastoral care involves walking in the dark places with the people - not trying to save them from the darkness. It is often our own anxieties and reluctance to enter into such pain that makes us want to help them out of it; rather than go through it with them. Jesus' resurrection meant going through suffering and death (and hell) before rising up on the other side. It wasn't about avoiding it, nor was it a quick movement from suffering, death to resurrection. There was six hours of suffering on the cross according to Mark (15:25 crucified at the third hour (9:00); 15:33 darkness at the sixth hour (noon); and 15:34 death at the ninth hour (3:00); and three days of death.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: DeHall1 on May 12, 2020, 01:54:25 PM
Unbelievable.
Some remain tone deaf.
Those who think that “politics” have no bearing on the ills we and our neighbors face are just stupid.
Off, I am, to other matters.

Just keep lamenting your dire circumstances..... ::)


So, you would have kept Lamentations out of the Bible? It was wrong for the people to express their frustrations at God for what was happening to Jerusalem?


Surprisingly, perhaps, there's not a book in the Bible called Joy!

Those who think that I “would have kept Lamentations out of the Bible” are just stupid.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 12, 2020, 02:09:32 PM
They are the topic of every thread.

All threads, like rivers, lead to the Karmic Ocean:

Flying flowers in the karmic ocean, bold mood and wanton interest
Seek dream in the red tower, unfeeling and sad
Rainbow crosses the sea, phoenixes soar and dance
Camel bells sound, desert blows sand         

by Luo Zhihai

I find the poem flows more smoothly in Mandarin, but again, the thread-rivers meander no matter their linguistic course, to the Karmic Ocean.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: readselerttoo on May 12, 2020, 02:43:20 PM
You all have convinced me.  I take back my telling Rev. Austin to look to Christ for his joy.  Instead, I will just let him sit there in his gilded cage, bemoaning his sorry existence and cursing.  Because somehow, in a way I do not really get, pointing him to Christ is to deny his suffering.  Because that moaning and cursing is what he needs now, apparently even more than he needs Christ.  Because that leaving a person to moan and curse is what Psalm 88 insists be done, and I certainly do not want to censor it or diminish or correct it.

"If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead..."  from 1 Cor. 15.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 12, 2020, 03:21:04 PM
I am reminded of Psalm 23:4 (ESV) "4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Doesn't say that His rod and staff removes us from the valley, but that they comfort us as we walk dark roads.
 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 12, 2020, 03:28:05 PM
Todd Peperkorn has come up in another thread. He wrote a book called (I think) "I Trust When Dark My Road" about his personal struggles and bouts with extreme depression. Could be a good resource for people feeling the gloom and human cost of the shut down.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Keith Falk on May 12, 2020, 03:42:50 PM
Todd Peperkorn has come up in another thread. He wrote a book called (I think) "I Trust When Dark My Road" about his personal struggles and bouts with extreme depression. Could be a good resource for people feeling the gloom and human cost of the shut down.


It can be downloaded for free here from the LCMS website (https://www.lcms.org/document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=721) in a .pdf format.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 12, 2020, 08:26:47 PM
I am reminded of Psalm 23:4 (ESV) "4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Doesn't say that His rod and staff removes us from the valley, but that they comfort us as we walk dark roads.


Back in April of 2000 I preached on Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-21 (4 Lent B) at my parent's congregation in Yuma. (It was not the one I was called to in Yuma in 2007.) It was a difficult time. My dad had been diagnosed with terminal cancer three months earlier. He was given less than a year to live. This was part of my sermon called, "Life in the Wilderness."


Our First Lesson is about the children of God going through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. They faced the difficulties of living in the wilderness. They didn’t have air-conditioned cars. They didn’t have interstates. They couldn’t move at 75 miles per hour. They had to walk. There was little food and there was little water. What food they did find, they didn’t like. They complained about it. They became impatient with God and with Moses. God seems to say in this passage, “If you want something to complain about, I’ll give you something to complain about.” Perhaps some of you have said the same thing. Besides the lack of food and water, now there were also serpents with poisonous bites. Those bites were killing people. Now they really had something to complain about.

However, it was not God’s purpose to destroy his people in the wilderness with the poisonous serpents. God’s purpose was that the people would recognize their sin. God’s purpose was that the people would repent of their impatience with God and with Moses. God’s purpose was that the people should live. So God provides a way for them to survive the poisonous bites. God has Moses build a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. Everyone, who was bitten, could look at it and live. The poison of the serpents didn’t have the last word. God did. The poison’s word of death could be overcome by God’s word of life.

I think that God could have done a much better job of saving the people than putting a bronze serpent on a pole. God could have solved the whole problem by wiping out those poisonous serpents. God could make sure that no one would ever get bit again. However, I’ve discovered that God doesn’t always listen to my wonderful plans. The serpents didn’t disappear. People still got bit. Some of them could still die from the bite. The bronze serpent on the pole didn’t get rid of the problem of serpents on the ground. It just gave life to those who had suffered the deadly bite. …

The one hanging on the pole of the cross is called, “Son of Man.” In Hebrew the phrase would be “Son of Adam” – a phrase that can simply mean, “a human being.” Our problem is that we are human beings. We are children of Adam and of Eve. We will, like they did, abuse and misuse God’s good gifts to us. We will disobey God’s commands. We will get impatient with God. We will complain to God. We will ignore and turn away from God. Perhaps you can even remember doing such things a time or two in your lives.

As the offspring of Adam and Eve, we are sinful. This is a much deeper problem than just committing sins. We are sinners. Some humans will commit all kinds of terrible sins that hurt themselves and others. Hopefully, the worst of these are locked up in prison. Some humans will spend all their lives trying to avoid committing any sins – and succeeding most of the time – but they will still fail now and then. Both groups are sinners. We all have been bitten by the sin serpent. The whole world is affected by the sin serpent. It brings pain and misery and evil and destruction and sickness and death to the world – to the faithful and to the disobedient alike. We all need to look to Jesus on the cross in order to have eternal life.

Now if God would have just listened to me and taken away all of the problems we experience, wouldn’t it be a much better world? Rather than sending Jesus to be lifted up on the cross, couldn’t God have removed our desires to sin? Couldn’t God have removed all the diseases and sicknesses and troubles and pains that we experience?

God didn’t listen to me. Such troubles still exist in our world. Poisonous snakes still bite people. Terminal diseases still afflict people. People suffer from colds and flues and even hangnails. People still haven’t learned to get along with one another – they get angry, they shout, they fight, they divorce, they kill. Often the life we live now seems like a wilderness experience. It’s difficult. It’s not always pleasant.

There are those who pray to God: “God, why is life so rotten for me? Why am I suffering from cancer or arthritis or dementia or this stupid hangnail? You know that I’ve always tried to do right. You know that I’ve tried to keep your commandments. You know that I’ve always worshiped you. Why am I suffering so? Couldn’t you have protected me from the powers of evil in the world?”

God would answer, “I know all about your faithfulness and your thanksgiving for my grace. I don’t control the evil and the diseases and whom they afflict, but if you will believe in the Son of Man hanging on the cross, you will have eternal life. You will live with me forever.”

There are others who pray to God: “God, I know why life is so rotten for me. You know that I haven’t always done the right things in my life. You know that I haven’t taken care of myself as well as I should have. You know that some of my actions have led to my own sufferings. You know that I haven’t always obeyed your commandments as I should. You know that I haven’t always worshiped you as I should have. You know that I have often turned against you or just ignored you in my life. I realize I’ve done wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me.

God would answer, “I know all about your sins. I don’t control the evil and the diseases and whom they afflict, but if you will believe in the Son of Man hanging on the cross, you will have eternal life. You will live with me forever.”

People’s suffering doesn’t necessarily depend upon how faithful nor how evil they are. Whether there is a lot of suffering or just a little suffering, everyone needs to believe in Jesus, the Son of Man, lifted up on the cross, in order to have eternal life – to live with God forever. …

In the ancient story, God did not remove the poisonous serpents from the wilderness, but God provided life in the midst of the serpents. In the gospel story, God did not remove sin and evil and their affects from the world, but God provides us eternal life in the midst of such troubles. However, in the future, we have the promise that there will be no more pain or suffering. There will be no more tears of sadness. There will be no more wilderness or desert areas. The image given by Isaiah of this future time is that there will be streams in the deserts. Even Arizona and Wyoming will become lush gardens. Until that event at the end of history, we continue to live in our different wildernesses – knowing that Jesus is there with us – and where Jesus is, there is life.



Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on May 25, 2020, 07:50:01 AM
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 25, 2020, 10:01:27 AM
Chapter 11: Church, this time “for real”
The Sunday before Palm Sunday was the last I worshipped inside a church building.
   Since then it has been experiences with online worship services, some good, some not so good. Obviously most clergy and congregations were not prepared to put “worship” online in meaningful, creative or satisfying ways.   
   But I will not offer a critique of those ways. Online services were all I had, so they had to do.
   I visited several local Lutheran churches and found some decent preaching, but a desultory approach to liturgy and inadequate attention to lighting and sound.
   But at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., I found elevated liturgy in the Anglican style, with mostly prayer book language and an approach to the eucharist that seemed right – that “spiritual communion” prayer on the screen just after the consecration. I also found sophisticated use of television, because the cathedral is fully equipped to broadcast state occasions.
   Beloved Spouse and I returned to the National Cathedral on subsequent Sunday mornings, even though it rarely felt like “church.”
   This morning, though, something special happened, and I do not know how or why.
   We have been in social lock-down for more than six weeks now and have only small tastes of anything like “community” activity; and this has taken a toll on our spirits. Maybe I was just down far enough that almost anything would lift me up.
   Cathedral worship began with a somber prelude and then the cantor, Amy Broadbent, sang “My life flows on in endless song” and its wondrous refrain:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
Now choral singing is one of the things I have missed most the past three months, and apart from the words of the refrain, the music itself reached deep inside.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing.
It finds and echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
   I was quietly singing along, as I often do, but I had to stop. It’s hard to sing through tears.
   The processional hymn was “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus” with the familiar Hyfrydol tune; and the world around the chair where I watch television and read literally vibrated with something transcendental. I felt more “in church” than I had for weeks.
   Cantor Broadbent sang the Psalm (most of Psalm 68) with one of those psalm tones familiar to anyone who has use the Lutheran Book of Worship. But I hope some seminary professor of worship stumbles across the video, clips it out, and makes every seminarian spend two hours studying it. Here were words, distinctly and elegantly sung, phrased according to the Psalm Tone, but pronounced and delivered according to the meaning of the text. It is a psalm that praises God for deliverance. When she got to:
He rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
He sends forth his voice his mighty voice…
How wonderful is God in his holy places!
The God of Israel giving strength and power to his people!
Blessed be God.
   I was again quite properly “in church” and extremely thankful to be there.
   “When peace like a river” was the sequence hymn and I quietly sang along, harmonizing through the refrain – “It is well, it is well with my soul” – and through tears.
   The preacher was Jon Meacham, the Pulitizer prize-winning historian of presidential history, who last year wrote The Hope of Glory: Reflections on the Last Words of Jesus From the Cross. He stuck closely to the John 17, but noted that the followers of Jesus, after the resurrection and ascension, having seen that glory, prayed, waited, and wondered “which is what you and I are doing now.” We pray, we wait, we wonder. He suggested that the history of the faith is a proof of the faith, for the passage for the faith has always been – no matter how dire the circumstances – “from darkness to light.”
   It was a good sermon, both textual and contextual. He’s pretty good with words, too.
   The liturgy continued, creed, announcements, an offertory anthem, then preface, sanctus, benedictus, and eucharistic prayer – we could all join in the “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”
   “Spiritual communion” through that ancient prayer is bittersweet, but there it is. I had been so set up, led and fed with what went before that this morning it was almost enough.
   The cathedral liturgy often uses a jazz piano, clarinet or saxophone and the church-jazz voice of Imani-Grace Cooper to close the service. The music is quiet/reflective, with a bit of a “get out there” beat and a few voice embellishments to make it real jazz.
   We sang “America, The Beautiful” for the closing hymn, as the Memorial Day holiday had been mentioned in the announcements. My favorite verse was included
O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law.
   Again, the world around my chair was vibrant and filled with something wonderful, and I sang through tears. Whatever it was, I felt I had been "in church."
   Why was this Sunday this way? I have no idea. But I’m glad it was.
-0-

This is a great reflection, Charles.  "My life flows on in endless song" is a favorite of mine. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on May 25, 2020, 10:17:10 AM
Haven't darkened the doors of a sanctuary since the single digit days of March ... Still grateful and thankful for pastor who cut short his out of state spring break trip when local officials abruptly prohibited in person worship on Monday of that week.  Returning by car, his first live streamed service went off without a hitch Wednesday evening.

Thank for the faithful labors of pastors who follow this sage advice ....

From: Arthur Carl Piepkorn, The Conduct of the Service, St. Louis, Concordia Seminary Press, 1965, p. 6

"When a ministration takes place outside of church, the effort should be made to reproduce the conditions of church as far as possible, and as much of the ceremonial as conditions permit or warrant should be retained."
Saturday evening we virtually attended a small mid central state congregation served by a friend we met as he began his study for the holy ministry. Despite the fact that his congregations resumed in person worship a few weeks ago, pastor and organist still met a couple days prior to record the service so it was available in a timely manner to his numerous high risk senior saints members.  With no technical assistance, he makes use of three cameras and his self taught editing skills resulting in an almost in person worship experience.  Following the edit process, is a 5 plus hour upload process due to poor internet service ... Text received that within a half hour of completion of the upload, the up load abruptly terminated ... necessitating another 5 plus hour up load process. Thankfully he allows ample production time ... and always has his service available by regular service time.


Sunday morning's service was a pre recorded 'premiere' service so initial viewing is experienced together with fellow congregation members along with national and international fellow Christians joining us ... truly Jerusalem, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the earth. Following this excellent duplication of in person workship, the congregation joins together via Zoom for brief fellowship followed by Bible Class.


Living an a metropolitan area reliable internet is some thing taken for granted in the past ... much more appreciated these days ... especially on Sundays and Bible study days.


Thank God for the sacrifices pastors make to serve their flock ... praying that our pastor's travels this week are safe ... and he and his family's plans are not interrupted again so he can serve the flock God has entrusted him.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 25, 2020, 01:07:11 PM
This is a great reflection, Charles.  "My life flows on in endless song" is a favorite of mine. 


A bit off topic: I was at a workshop with Marty Haugen, he wondered about the difference between "How can I keep from singing?" in that hymn and the oft stated complaint in congregations, "How can we get them to sing?"
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on May 26, 2020, 09:14:49 PM
A brief non-religious reflection.  I take a walk in the neighborhood of our home every day.  The only Mountain Bike Trails in New York City are about two blocks from our house, 60 feet above sea level in a forested area angled between two big highways.  So walking on the bike path at the edge of the street can get dicey.  But - these last two months I spend most of the time listening to ............birds.  Birds actually make sounds.  Who knew?  The traffic always drowned any sounds out.  Now they're chirping away up there in the trees, audible to human ears.  Quite amazing - there's apparently a lot going on in bird-world.

So today I was walking and listening to the bird sounds, and all of a sudden there's this low booming thrumming noise coming out of the woods.  It was startling.  I couldn't place it at all.  Then it struck me.  It was an airplane, a jet taking off from LaGuardia on its way out of the city, hidden from view up against the woods. 

Which happened every two minutes from 6 AM until 10 PM until two months ago.  And then it stopped completely.  There are now five daily flights out of La Guardia.  5 in total.  And the same out of Kennedy or something close. 

In this incredible unsustainable transformation in New York City, we no longer recognize the sound of a jet airplane.  But we can hear the birds.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: mariemeyer on May 28, 2020, 03:55:49 PM
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN

Bill and I have also regularly watched the Memorial Day concert.  For some reason the event this year, though limited, was more moving, intimate and patriotic than I experienced it in the past. 

I did not give a salute at the national anthem or Taps as John Alex did, but I did get up from the couch to stand at attention.

Marie Meyer
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on May 28, 2020, 04:27:53 PM
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Bill and I have also regularly watched the Memorial Day concert.  For some reason the event this year, though limited, was more moving, intimate and patriotic than I experienced it in the past. 

I did not give a salute at the national anthem or Taps as John Alex did, but I did get up from the couch to stand at attention.

Marie Meyer

 :)  He wants to be a soldier (or Marine). He's actually a member of Sea Cadets (as a Marine cadet), so his salute is quite correct; unusually for someone his age.  I too enjoyed more the "toned down" version this year.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Rob Morris on May 28, 2020, 06:55:54 PM
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Bill and I have also regularly watched the Memorial Day concert.  For some reason the event this year, though limited, was more moving, intimate and patriotic than I experienced it in the past. 

I did not give a salute at the national anthem or Taps as John Alex did, but I did get up from the couch to stand at attention.

Marie Meyer

 :)  He wants to be a soldier (or Marine). He's actually a member of Sea Cadets (as a Marine cadet), so his salute is quite correct; unusually for someone his age.  I too enjoyed more the "toned down" version this year.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
The Morris family does the same every year as well. This year, while I appreciated the first hand accounts from previous years, I really missed having more of those. Otherwise, we thought they did a great job despite the limitations in format.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 29, 2020, 03:26:10 AM
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Bill and I have also regularly watched the Memorial Day concert.  For some reason the event this year, though limited, was more moving, intimate and patriotic than I experienced it in the past. 

I did not give a salute at the national anthem or Taps as John Alex did, but I did get up from the couch to stand at attention.

Marie Meyer

 :)  He wants to be a soldier (or Marine). He's actually a member of Sea Cadets (as a Marine cadet), so his salute is quite correct; unusually for someone his age.  I too enjoyed more the "toned down" version this year.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN


The rules for saluting the flag from military.com.

Traditionally, members of the nation's veterans service organizations have rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag only while wearing their organization’s official head-gear.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 contained an amendment to allow un-uniformed servicemembers, military retirees, and veterans to render a hand salute during the hoisting, lowering, or passing of the U.S. flag.

A later amendment further authorized hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel. This was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed on Oct. 14, 2008.

Here is the actual text from the law:

SEC. 595. MILITARY SALUTE FOR THE FLAG DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM BY MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES NOT IN UNIFORM AND BY VETERANS.

Section 301(b)(1) of title 36, United States Code, is amended by striking subparagraphs (A) through (C) and inserting the following new subparagraphs:
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over theheart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart;

Note: Part (C) applies to those not in the military and non-veterans. The phrase "men not in uniform" refers to civil service uniforms like police, fire fighters, and letter carriers -  non-veteran civil servants who might normally render a salute while in uniform.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on June 04, 2020, 10:31:12 AM
We just got our Card this week as well, Charles.  I think the gimmick was that with a card you'd go out and spend, spend, spend to stimulate the economy, maybe buy some box seats at the Twins game next week, binge at the mall, buy a new tux for dancing with the stars, stuff like that.  Our non-check is also now housed safely (?) in the bank.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on June 04, 2020, 10:56:57 AM
And to think my 91 year old father simply and thankfully received his card, took it to his bank and deposited it ... no TDS, no snark, no attempted political statement. 


Oh by the way, the fact that the card was on the way had been carefully reported in the local media. The fact that "we almost threw away" is no one's fault and responsibly but yours ... your wife's, and definitely NOT Sally's.😶
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on June 04, 2020, 11:43:12 AM
In our case, Charles, the banking aspect was complicated by the rule in the letter was that the amount was more than could be withdrawn and deposited at a time, so several transactions were required, not all of which were without the transaction fee.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: RandyBosch on June 04, 2020, 12:25:33 PM
I avoided the fees but I am not surprised to find out that someone, somewhere, is making money out of these transactions. That can’t happen if someone else just sent a check. So I wonder whose friend runs the financial institution that’s making money from these debit card. And will make money in the future if people choose to refill these cards and keep using them.

Check the financial institution name on the card via Google to find their site; check the site to see who is in leadership there and the major institutional investors. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 04, 2020, 01:16:33 PM
I avoided the fees but I am not surprised to find out that someone, somewhere, is making money out of these transactions. That can’t happen if someone else just sent a check. So I wonder whose friend runs the financial institution that’s making money from these debit card. And will make money in the future if people choose to refill these cards and keep using them.
I think if someone somewhere is making money off it, that's the point. It isn't like you earned it. Never was gift horse given such a dental screening.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on June 04, 2020, 02:10:12 PM
Charles, I received my payment by direct deposit because I took the time and the trouble, it wasn't really very hard, to go in the appropriate IRS website and provide them my banking information. If you couldn't be bothered to do that, you had to take alternatives, which I'm sure cost the government more money some of which cost was passed on to you. Too bad.  :'(


Perhaps they did you a favor by putting it on a debit card, a check with his name on it you would have had to on principle destroy uncashed.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: NCLutheran2 on June 04, 2020, 02:31:39 PM
   Bottom line: I have my “stimulus check,” though not a check. Darn! I was going to frame His autograph.

Don't worry, Charles, in about a month you will be mailed a letter, via the IRS, from Donald himself informing you that you received your economic impact payment, complete with (a pixelated digital) signature, suitable for framing! Another excellent example of government stewardship.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Michael Slusser on June 04, 2020, 02:45:41 PM
When my brother worked for the U.S. Government as a liaison to petroleum wholesalers in Michigan and Minnesota, he always got a chuckle from his audience when he said, "I'm from the Federal Government and I'm here to help you." Yeah, sure. It doesn't always malfunction, but it does so often enough to make people leery of promises to solve all our problems. Yet the Feds keep offering--or threatening.

I've always had a direct deposit relationship with the IRS, Charles, but I just got my first "stimulus" check in paper form, last week.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on June 04, 2020, 02:59:18 PM
Years ago as I was watching a TV game show a new contestant came on and they asked him (per usual) what he did for a living. He replied that he was a fund raiser for a non-profit. Upon further questions it came out that he was an IRS agent. What could be more non-profitable than the US government?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Matt Hummel on June 04, 2020, 03:07:17 PM
I avoided the fees but I am not surprised to find out that someone, somewhere, is making money out of these transactions. That can’t happen if someone else just sent a check. So I wonder whose friend runs the financial institution that’s making money from these debit card. And will make money in the future if people choose to refill these cards and keep using them.

Well golly. So many of the Bank Card businesses are here in Wilmington, DE. A Democrat city in a Democrat county in a Democrat state. Also home to VP Joey Hairplugs. So given the fact that Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had their hands all over the enabling legislation, I would not necessarily start with Trump cronies.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on June 04, 2020, 03:58:40 PM
I avoided the fees but I am not surprised to find out that someone, somewhere, is making money out of these transactions. That can’t happen if someone else just sent a check. So I wonder whose friend runs the financial institution that’s making money from these debit card. And will make money in the future if people choose to refill these cards and keep using them.

Perhaps the ChiComs (who gave us the coronavirus in the first place), from whom the Congress borrowed the money to pay for this bipartisan "stimulus."
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Richard Johnson on June 04, 2020, 04:14:54 PM
And to think my 91 year old father simply and thankfully received his card, took it to his bank and deposited it ... no TDS, no snark, no attempted political statement. 


Oh by the way, the fact that the card was on the way had been carefully reported in the local media. The fact that "we almost threw away" is no one's fault and responsibly but yours ... your wife's, and definitely NOT Sally's.😶

Ridiculous. I read "the local media" and the national media voraciously, and this is the first I've heard of this. And congratulations to your 91-year-old father, but what Charles describes sounds like a recipe for disaster for countless households.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on June 04, 2020, 06:00:16 PM
And to think my 91 year old father simply and thankfully received his card, took it to his bank and deposited it ... no TDS, no snark, no attempted political statement. 

Oh by the way, the fact that the card was on the way had been carefully reported in the local media. The fact that "we almost threw away" is no one's fault and responsibly but yours ... your wife's, and definitely NOT Sally's.😶

Ridiculous. I read "the local media" and the national media voraciously, and this is the first I've heard of this. And congratulations to your 91-year-old father, but what Charles describes sounds like a recipe for disaster for countless households.
Ridiculous?? That your local media was silent ... yes! Heck .... my 75+ year old neighbors handled their debit card with no problem ... even having to find an open bank lobby to process the card .. and they are very apolitical ... never expressing opinions either way.


The debit card arrived in non descriptive envelopes very similar in appearance to how banks send out credit cards and debit cards. Unless you do not have any credit/debit cards, you should be very familiar with the appearance of these envelopes. 

Why does it seem that the most negatively vocal concerning these debit cards are those who would criticize President Trump on a clear sunny day for simply stating the sky is blue?  Regrettably, Charles sounds like he is suffering terminal TDS.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 04, 2020, 06:33:28 PM
When my brother worked for the U.S. Government as a liaison to petroleum wholesalers in Michigan and Minnesota, he always got a chuckle from his audience when he said, "I'm from the Federal Government and I'm here to help you." Yeah, sure. It doesn't always malfunction, but it does so often enough to make people leery of promises to solve all our problems. Yet the Feds keep offering--or threatening.

I've always had a direct deposit relationship with the IRS, Charles, but I just got my first "stimulus" check in paper form, last week.


I don't know what's wrong with me (and don't give suggestions :) ), but we got our stimulus money through direct deposit back on April 15. I also got a small refund the same way from the IRS two months earlier.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on June 04, 2020, 07:47:00 PM
I don't know what's wrong with me (and don't give suggestions :) ), but we got our stimulus money through direct deposit back on April 15. I also got a small refund the same way from the IRS two months earlier.
I too received my stimulus check via direct deposit ... Googling concerning payments to social security recipients seemed to indicate that nothing needed to be done ... Apparently nothing needed to be done to receive payment ... by debit card.


Fraudsters are becoming more and more creative in tampering with checks ... the government and financial institutions are always looking for for alternatives to paper checks.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: GalRevRedux on June 06, 2020, 07:59:04 AM
I keep hoping a payment will show up. In any form.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on June 06, 2020, 08:11:28 AM
Thirteen days after I received the at-first confusing debit card, the mail brought a letter saying I would receive an Economic Impact Payment by “check/debit card” and the amount. (No mention of which - check or debit card - or direct deposit.) The letter says I am a “hard-working American,” thanks the House and Senate for “working so quickly with my administration”, and hopes the payment provides “meaningful support.”
The letter is “signed“ by the president.
Were I still an actively “hard-working American,” my payment, a little less than the amount as received by my truly “hard-working” younger relatives, would have covered - maybe - one month’s rent or a good part, but not all of a month’s mortgage, food for two, maybe three weeks if I shopped carefully, or one quarter of a dentist’s fee if someone in the family had a problem.
But OK. Thanks.
If your Economic Impact Payment is too insignificant for you to bother with you could just trash it or maybe simply donate it,  to your church, a food bank, or maybe a Black business owner there in Minneapolis whose business was burned out and looted during the recent peaceful protests and demonstrations.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 06, 2020, 09:39:37 AM
Those checks are about the only bipartisan effort our government has done in years. I don’t think it is good policy, but sheesh, of all the things to moan about — the free money they sent me was a little confusing and wouldn’t have paid my all bills if I still had bills like I used to.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 06, 2020, 10:43:19 AM
And of course we all agree the checkS were a good use of $2 trillion of federal funds.
No, I don’t agree with that, which is what I said. “I don’t think it is good policy.” But not because getting a card rather than a check is too confusing, or getting a belated notice is a waste of paper and postage, or that the check wasn’t big enough to sustain people through the (dumb) shut-down. It was a stimulus check designed to help keep the economy afloat. Whether it was fifty dollars or five thousand, their bipartisan hope was that whenever you spent it would be someplace that could use the business. Again, bad economic policy, probably, but understandable in theory and supported fairly broadly in Congress, though I’m sure you voiced your strong support of the few Republican who spoke against it.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on June 06, 2020, 11:01:51 AM
And of course we all agree the checkS were a good use of $2 trillion of federal funds.

Perhaps you should make up your mind. First you complain that the amount wasn't enough, then you suggest it should not have been done at all. Which is it?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on June 07, 2020, 01:13:24 PM
"The food at that new restaurant in town is horrible."

"Yes, and the portions are so small."
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Keith Falk on June 07, 2020, 02:16:14 PM
If one is living to paycheck to paycheck (as I understand it most Americans are), then an extra paycheck (or half of a paycheck, or however it would translate) is welcome.  Poopoo-ing the amount can only be done from a standpoint of privilege.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on June 07, 2020, 03:48:34 PM
I guess I should be enjoying the fact that some “small government“, “keep the big government out of my life“, people are so eager to support the stimulus package, which is one of the biggest “government in your life“ operations of the last two decades. Or it’s a matter of “give government money to everybody, including me“ and that’s good; but “don’t give money to a certain class of people“ because they’ll just spend it on booze and drugs.
Nobody here has suggested they are glad about the stimulus check as government policy. They’ve simply addressed your reasons for complaining about as silly.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on June 08, 2020, 01:32:31 AM
Ok. Then let’s stop talking about it.
Only after you admit that your statement  ...
I guess I should be enjoying the fact that some “small government“, “keep the big government out of my life“, people are so eager to support the stimulus package, which is one of the biggest “government in your life“ operations of the last two decades. Or it’s a matter of “give government money to everybody, including me“ and that’s good; but “don’t give money to a certain class of people“ because they’ll just spend it on booze and drugs.
Please cite specific forum posts ... failure to cite forum posts supporting your apparently unfounded statements indicates ... oh well .. carry on as you are wont to screed from time to time.😞
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on June 08, 2020, 10:00:38 AM
I participated in a march for racial justice yesterday in Manhattan, invited by one of our Missouri Synod Lutheran black pastors.  It was an ecumenical event with song and prayer, ending at the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine right near the entrance of Ft. Tryon Park at the upper end of the island.  The marchers were prayerful but focused on the issue at hand, of racial justice.  The police accompanying the event were respectful, helpful, and were thanked when we dispersed.  Although anyone could join and did, many marchers were Roman Catholic; their priest served as host. 

I was particularly moved by the connection to Mother Cabrini.  I was able to spend some time in personal reflection and prayer inside the shrine; it's meaningful to me from my own pastoral vocation as she is the patroness of immigrants, and I shepherd a flock primarily of first and second generation immigrants.  Here's a video virtual tour and commentary:  https://www.mothercabrini.org/what-we-do/spiritual-ministries/st-frances-xavier-cabrini-shrine-new-york-ny/.  Mother Cabrini's faith and vocation are great examples for all in these times.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on June 11, 2020, 09:28:57 AM
With some parishioners and around 500 participants, I participated in a march for justice yesterday that ended up a block from the church in Highland Park, Brooklyn.  In my case, I knew a lot of the marchers from various quadrants of the neighborhood, including community leaders with whom we work on a variety of issues, from after school programs to senior care to day care.  The marchers were animated, the speeches were policy based but direct.  The police presence was significant, with all the NCO officers (neighborhood community outreach) present, all of whom I know, as well as the detective who supervises them.   

By far the most difficult moment in the event was kneeling for 8:43 in memory of George Floyd.  It's a long time for old knees, but we were all struck by how persistent that act of murder was to have taken that amount of time. 

I then continued the venture outdoors on the street to the church, and spoke with folks on their porches and stoops.  So many have been through long bouts with the virus; and on that 3 block long stretch of one city block, we are counting between fifteen and twenty deaths to the novel corona virus.  And many more hospitalizations, some current.  We are resolute in prayer, in distribution of personal protective equipment, in contacting regularly those in our parish care, and in returning to on-site worship when it is safe, and not before.  The stakes are simply too high.  We will most likely do what a lot of the RC churches are doing, which is to hire a company that does stem to stern hazmat level disinfecting on a one time basis prior to return, and use all the tools we can for safe worship.  It is legitimately a matter of life and death.

As always, the resilience of the people I love and serve is amazing, and the connection to the neighborhood through it all to date remains really a highlight of my pastoral service there in Cypress Hills.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on June 11, 2020, 09:50:20 AM
Thumbs up! 

Jeremy
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Norman Teigen on June 11, 2020, 11:45:16 AM
Yes!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James_Gale on July 28, 2020, 11:07:44 PM
Chapter 11:
Are we lockdown/quarantine or “normal”?
Adventures in medicine.
A death in the family not related to the virus.
Watching – and not watching – the Virus News.

Four months! Although some things change, it is still a grim long haul. But we are so desperate for “something,” that anything looks good.
Some things returning
  Daily exercise classes returned. Size is limited; we sign up the day before. Sessions are shorter so staff can cleanse chairs and gear. We do three days a week in the room and two days a week in the pool.
   We now eat three days a week in our fine dining room. Our floor gets Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sometimes tables can be configured for three persons. Alternate days we order meals delivered to our residence.
   They occasionally show new, first-run movies in our auditorium, with attendance limited to 20. Before each event, they take our temperature and give us “I’m cool” stickers to show we are ok.
Adventures in medicine
   This humble correspondent spent a month dealing with a kidney stone. Terrible pain arrived suddenly, about 20 minutes after I had stumbled to avoid stepping on our cat and hard-banged my side into a table. Thought that was it. Pain went up, sending me to the emergency room. Strong medical precautions took over. Dropped off; no one allowed in with me; nurses and staff garbed, gloved, masked and shielded. All very pleasant and kind. Nurse made the diagnosis; CT scan and doctor confirmed it. Big stone, probably wasn’t going to “pass.”
Got an Uber ride home.
   Plans were made to zap the stone, but a by-product was  - ta da!I got a Covid-19 Test!
   Two nurses in a clinic had me do some paperwork, then one stuck a long stick up my nostril. I had heard of the “pain” and that they rammed the probe right up into your brain, so I prepared for the hurt. But she quickly pulled out the stick, and said “that’s it.” If the test were positive, she said, I would hear from her. I never did.
   The kidney discomfort continued, alleviated by some Big Pills, until – in another severely sanitized clinic – I was put under while the doc laser-blasted the rock and removed it through a catheter, me being very glad I was not conscious for any of it. My plumbing was modified with some kind of “detour” to accommodate the follow-up, uncomfortable, but bearable. Two weeks later a doc and a nurse went in with camera and tongs (don’t ask), removed the detour and I was pronounced stone free.
   These contacts with the medical world, plus a visit to the dentist recently showed how seriously those people take the virus and sanitary procedures.
A death in the family
   Our dear little Sally Pearl, the cat over which I stumbled, died last week. She was 13, and in bad health for some time. The vet treated her almost a year ago and the prognosis was not positive. So we cared for her and observed the decline the three weeks before her death. One night, Sally sat on our laps – purring nicely – but could barely walk. I put her to bed where she died during the night.
   Burial was in our daughter’s back yard, with appropriate ceremonies. A stone cat now marks her grave. She was a dear friend, a gift from God, and we are thankful for her time with us.
The Virus is not the whole world
   I don’t want the Virus to take over my world. I am always torn – watch the news or don’t watch the news? Watching brings both hope and added worry. Watching shows civic unrest, medical heroes, and far too many stupid and selfish people. The mess in our country is greater than in some parts of the world, lesser than in others. But death is “out there,” especially for those of us of six or seven decades.
   We phone friends in far-away New Jersey. Things tough there, also. Sometimes tougher. The son-in-law of friends died suddenly, not related to The Virus.
   These remain trying times. But there are books, movies on Netflix and elsewhere, music. Some live performances are coming online. We spend some sunny afternoons by a lake. Both Beloved Spouse and I are in generally good health, although her eyes are not good.
   Normal? Don’t know what it will be. But we cling to the good things in life. Don’t know what else to do.
 


I’m very sorry to hear about your cat. Losing a long-cherished pet is very hard indeed. Perhaps this is particularly true in times such as this when the critters can be a source of calm and comfort.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Steven W Bohler on July 29, 2020, 09:39:28 AM
Rev. Austin,

I, too, am sorry to hear of the death of your cat.  As you said, pets are one of God's greatest gifts to us.  They teach us many things and give so much, and ask so little in return.  I am glad to hear, though, of your recovery from the kidney stone!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on July 29, 2020, 10:05:15 AM
A death in the family
   Our dear little Sally Pearl, the cat over which I stumbled, died last week. She was 13, and in bad health for some time. The vet treated her almost a year ago and the prognosis was not positive. So we cared for her and observed the decline the three weeks before her death. One night, Sally sat on our laps – purring nicely – but could barely walk. I put her to bed where she died during the night.
   Burial was in our daughter’s back yard, with appropriate ceremonies. A stone cat now marks her grave. She was a dear friend, a gift from God, and we are thankful for her time with us.
The Virus is not the whole world
   I don’t want the Virus to take over my world. I am always torn – watch the news or don’t watch the news? Watching brings both hope and added worry. Watching shows civic unrest, medical heroes, and far too many stupid and selfish people. The mess in our country is greater than in some parts of the world, lesser than in others. But death is “out there,” especially for those of us of six or seven decades.
   We phone friends in far-away New Jersey. Things tough there, also. Sometimes tougher. The son-in-law of friends died suddenly, not related to The Virus.
   These remain trying times. But there are books, movies on Netflix and elsewhere, music. Some live performances are coming online. We spend some sunny afternoons by a lake. Both Beloved Spouse and I are in generally good health, although her eyes are not good.
   Normal? Don’t know what it will be. But we cling to the good things in life. Don’t know what else to do.

After nearly 19 years our last cat had to be assisted in death.  She, too, could barely walk.  As one accustomed to death, who has lost many family members, and even more church members and friends over the decades, I found it almost strange that the last feline death put me in a state of grief I had not known for a long time.  Romeo, like her mother Jody, who had passed away at a similar age only months prior, had grown extremely close to me, probably, in part, because I had such an active role in their healthcare.  Our lives became intertwined in ways, I guess, I never anticipated. 

As for the unfortunately called "new normal," I share your sentiments.  I yearn for the life left behind in March, but struggle to carve out a different life out of necessity, one I can still find useful challenges and worthy goals, even if they are different than the ones in the 'old life'.  Yet try as I might, there never seems to be any relief these days from work.  I gave up on having a day off.  Vacation? Not sure how to do that. The problem of being a sole pastor in a rural area is that back-up is hard to find. My retired back-up are either too elderly, or too concerned about coming back to church (although one has since returned). We were scheduled to take a few days off out of town at a lovely Airbnb, but lo and behold, another 90-something passed away, and the funeral took one whole day away.  I keep pushing ahead, but I'll admit that I have never thought so much about just how far my magic Medicare age is away (5.5. years and counting).
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on July 29, 2020, 10:27:15 AM
Pastor Austin,

My sympathies.

I can still remember your beautiful phrase posted here years ago at the death of another feline companion:

"Now in a place where the water bowl is always full,
the litter box is always clean,
and the mice run very slowly"

Peace!

Tom
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on July 29, 2020, 11:40:24 AM
We have always had cats, of both the indoor and outdoor variety.  And they have always lived well, partly because I am totally allergic to cats.  So they have their own section of the house if they're indoor, their own apartment, so to speak.  I bonded with a couple of them, but often no bond has been the best bond for my sinuses.  But the do bond with Judy, so all is well on the home front. 

Kidney stones, on the other hand, need to be evicted from the body.  I've evicted fifteen of them and the one(s) currently residing in the lower left lobe have been put on notice by being blasted into many teeny-tiny stones.  I like the methodology you speak of, Charles - the laser and urethra modification.  On the other hand, it is a Luther-an malady, viz:  In 1537 Luther’s health tanked even further from a large kidney stone and its attendant bleeding. When he couldn’t urinate, the court’s physician prescribed massive amounts of water. And when this obviously only made matters worse, the doctor tried a mixture of garlic and raw manure. "In excruciating pain, Luther expected—and hoped for—death. Finally relief struck . . . [when] the sharp jostling of his carriage broke the [kidney] stone loose. Over a gallon of urine poured forth uncontrolled. Shocked by his survival, he exclaimed that night, 'Luther lives!’"

To show you how far we've come, at the hospital I frequent, the doctors use garlic and refined manure, which is really composting, internal organic gardening.  At least that's what they told me.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Randy Bosch on July 29, 2020, 12:53:03 PM
We have always had cats, of both the indoor and outdoor variety.  And they have always lived well, partly because I am totally allergic to cats.  So they have their own section of the house if they're indoor, their own apartment, so to speak.  I bonded with a couple of them, but often no bond has been the best bond for my sinuses.  But the do bond with Judy, so all is well on the home front. 

Kidney stones, on the other hand, need to be evicted from the body.  I've evicted fifteen of them and the one(s) currently residing in the lower left lobe have been put on notice by being blasted into many teeny-tiny stones.  I like the methodology you speak of, Charles - the laser and urethra modification.  On the other hand, it is a Luther-an malady, viz:  In 1537 Luther’s health tanked even further from a large kidney stone and its attendant bleeding. When he couldn’t urinate, the court’s physician prescribed massive amounts of water. And when this obviously only made matters worse, the doctor tried a mixture of garlic and raw manure. "In excruciating pain, Luther expected—and hoped for—death. Finally relief struck . . . [when] the sharp jostling of his carriage broke the [kidney] stone loose. Over a gallon of urine poured forth uncontrolled. Shocked by his survival, he exclaimed that night, 'Luther lives!’"

To show you how far we've come, at the hospital I frequent, the doctors use garlic and refined manure, which is really composting, internal organic gardening.  At least that's what they told me.

Dave Benke

And, to think that you could resolve the horrible problem in a patricarchal Lutheran way by a simple but painful ride in a carriage on a rough road! 8)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on July 29, 2020, 01:03:16 PM
We have always had cats, of both the indoor and outdoor variety.  And they have always lived well, partly because I am totally allergic to cats.  So they have their own section of the house if they're indoor, their own apartment, so to speak.  I bonded with a couple of them, but often no bond has been the best bond for my sinuses.  But the do bond with Judy, so all is well on the home front. 

Kidney stones, on the other hand, need to be evicted from the body.  I've evicted fifteen of them and the one(s) currently residing in the lower left lobe have been put on notice by being blasted into many teeny-tiny stones.  I like the methodology you speak of, Charles - the laser and urethra modification.  On the other hand, it is a Luther-an malady, viz:  In 1537 Luther’s health tanked even further from a large kidney stone and its attendant bleeding. When he couldn’t urinate, the court’s physician prescribed massive amounts of water. And when this obviously only made matters worse, the doctor tried a mixture of garlic and raw manure. "In excruciating pain, Luther expected—and hoped for—death. Finally relief struck . . . [when] the sharp jostling of his carriage broke the [kidney] stone loose. Over a gallon of urine poured forth uncontrolled. Shocked by his survival, he exclaimed that night, 'Luther lives!’"

To show you how far we've come, at the hospital I frequent, the doctors use garlic and refined manure, which is really composting, internal organic gardening.  At least that's what they told me.

Dave Benke

And, to think that you could resolve the horrible problem in a patricarchal Lutheran way by a simple but painful ride in a carriage on a rough road! 8)

True enough.  I've tried a golf cart, with some success.  Have passed stones in an airplane, above the Arctic Circle with reindeer, in a bathroom in Germany, and several times as mentioned on golf courses.  In terms of liquids, what works for me better than water is beer.  I've been told that in heaven there is no beer/that's why we're drinking it here.  But the line of reasoning gives pause.  If there is no beer in heaven, is it actually heaven?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James S. Rustad on July 29, 2020, 01:56:13 PM
Pastor Austin,

My sympathies on both the loss of your cat and the kidney stone.

I've lost more than one pet and it is always sad.

I've also had kidney stones so I sympathize with you on that as well.  I now drink at least a gallon a day to keep my system flushed out.  I hope your stones are gone for good.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on July 29, 2020, 03:23:19 PM
They sent the stones for analysis to determine what they were made of. . Probably that will give us some clue about what I shouldn’t eat or do to avoid getting stoned again. But in the end, it’s still just a crapshoot. Sometimes you make eight the hard way, sometimes you crap out.

With regards to crapping out, have them examine as to whether it's raw or refined.  I have this wild thought that Luther's doctor had him ingesting the garlic and raw manure.  Please pass the salt.  And maybe 6 or 7 gallons of beer.

That kind of advice, thankfully, could never be given today.  https://twitter.com/sarahcpr/status/1253474772702429189?lang=en.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: GalRevRedux on July 29, 2020, 06:16:40 PM
Charles, I am so sorry for your loss. My feline companions make isolation bearable. I thank you for loving your kitty so long and well.

Donna
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Richard Johnson on July 29, 2020, 10:24:11 PM
Thomas Shelley, .you have a long memory, that phrase must’ve been posted 14 years ago.

The Orthodox generally have a long memory  . . .  ;)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James_Gale on July 29, 2020, 10:34:23 PM
Thomas Shelley, .you have a long memory, that phrase must’ve been posted 14 years ago.

The Orthodox generally have a long memory  . . .  ;)


The one thing does seem to proceed from the other. And ONLY the other.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on July 29, 2020, 11:26:29 PM
Thomas Shelley, .you have a long memory, that phrase must’ve been posted 14 years ago.

The Orthodox generally have a long memory  . . .  ;)

The one thing does seem to proceed from the other. And ONLY the other.

It was--and remains--a beautiful phrase.

And during those 14 year I have lost two felines and remembered those words each time.

And yes, being Orthodox does enter into the picture because in our Memorial Service (which is served almost half of the Sundays) we use a beautiful prayer which includes the phrases:

Quote
ἀνάπαυσον τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ κεκοιμημένου δούλου (τῆς κεκοιμημένης δούλης) σου (τας ψυχάς των κεκοιμημένων δούλων σου),
ἐν τόπῳ φωτεινῷ,
ἐν τόπῳ χλοερῷ,
ἐν τόπῳ ἀναψύξεως

Give rest to the soul(s) of Your departed servant(s) (Name)
in a place of light,
in a place of green pasture,
in a place of refreshment...


Our venerable wordsmith has created an equivalent for remembering our feline friends.

Cheers!


Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on August 22, 2020, 07:47:00 PM
I've always thought this thread was the best of us on this board in these past months, initiated by our friend Charles Austin.

So in the last 24 hours, I (and Judy) finally left the Island.  Long Island, particularly the inner half from Brooklyn through Nassau County.  Yesterday we paid a bridge toll (!) and headed all the way to Yonkers, which is for non-locals located on continental America and not an island.  We saw people!  Family first, including a new grand-nephew whose dad went through a serious bout of COVID-19 in March, and is now back to work as a physician in Yonkers.  Baby born (Scott Geminn) at Lawrence Hospital, so a native New Yorker and Westchesterian (Westchesterite?).  Anyway we went to this beautiful park on the Hudson, the Untermyer Park, on the estate of a really cool rich dude from back in the day.  Then we went to the other water, in Pelham Bay, to the Club I belong to, which is the top Athletic Club probably in the US, sponsoring normally 50-60 medal-winning athletes at the Olympics.  This location, actually is on a little island called Travers Island and is our club's Yacht Club and sailing/ water sports training center.  Snazzy.  For first night off the other Island, we were kind of overwhelmed by being in an exclusively Anglo setting - 100%.  Except for some non-white waitstaff. 

So today, traffic being down, I took a shot at another trip to the far-off island of Manhattan (7 miles), paying this time the tunnel tolls (we have no more toll booths in NY - all digital reads of your license plate).  And there - hey, hello!  Welcome back to New York City!   People -  people of all possible kinds, mostly NOT tourists (this is a major change in midtown), and just us being us, wandering and kvetching and taking it in.  I walked through Macy's, full of stuff, not many people buying.  I see a guy looking lost, who asks a guy outside a hotel a question and gets no answer.  I ask him what's up.  He says "where do I get Amtrak?  That man didn't know."  We're standing maybe 100 feet from MSG (Madison Square Garden) and therefore Penn Station, ie Amtrak.  I say, "See that big building next to us?  Go in there.  You'll be fine."  The other guy didn't know?  Welcome back to New York City!

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on August 23, 2020, 06:53:03 AM
I've always thought this thread was the best of us on this board in these past months, initiated by our friend Charles Austin.

So in the last 24 hours, I (and Judy) finally left the Island.  Long Island, particularly the inner half from Brooklyn through Nassau County.  Yesterday we paid a bridge toll (!) and headed all the way to Yonkers, which is for non-locals located on continental America and not an island.  We saw people!  Family first, including a new grand-nephew whose dad went through a serious bout of COVID-19 in March, and is now back to work as a physician in Yonkers.  Baby born (Scott Geminn) at Lawrence Hospital, so a native New Yorker and Westchesterian (Westchesterite?).  Anyway we went to this beautiful park on the Hudson, the Untermyer Park, on the estate of a really cool rich dude from back in the day.  Then we went to the other water, in Pelham Bay, to the Club I belong to, which is the top Athletic Club probably in the US, sponsoring normally 50-60 medal-winning athletes at the Olympics.  This location, actually is on a little island called Travers Island and is our club's Yacht Club and sailing/ water sports training center.  Snazzy.  For first night off the other Island, we were kind of overwhelmed by being in an exclusively Anglo setting - 100%.  Except for some non-white waitstaff. 

So today, traffic being down, I took a shot at another trip to the far-off island of Manhattan (7 miles), paying this time the tunnel tolls (we have no more toll booths in NY - all digital reads of your license plate).  And there - hey, hello!  Welcome back to New York City!   People -  people of all possible kinds, mostly NOT tourists (this is a major change in midtown), and just us being us, wandering and kvetching and taking it in.  I walked through Macy's, full of stuff, not many people buying.  I see a guy looking lost, who asks a guy outside a hotel a question and gets no answer.  I ask him what's up.  He says "where do I get Amtrak?  That man didn't know."  We're standing maybe 100 feet from MSG (Madison Square Garden) and therefore Penn Station, ie Amtrak.  I say, "See that big building next to us?  Go in there.  You'll be fine."  The other guy didn't know?  Welcome back to New York City!

Dave Benke

 ;D
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Jeremy_Loesch on August 23, 2020, 10:39:30 AM
Glad you got out and about! And good to hear about the people you met.

It's been close to 13 years since we were last in Manhattan, but we didn't find it too hard to find our way around on the train. It also helped that my wife's cousin lived in NJ and worked for the transit authority and wrote down the stops/trains for us. Hardest part was wrestling an umbrella stroller through the stations.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Likeness on August 23, 2020, 11:32:22 AM
What a thrill to know the 5 boroughs of New York City:
Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Of course the Bronx is home to the New York Yankees.  This
is the most successful sports franchise in American history.
Yankee Stadium is the beautiful cathedral which hosts the
Bronx Bombers and their 27 World Series Championships.

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi
Berra, Whitey Ford, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter are just a
few of the MLB Hall of Famers who have worn the Yankee
pinstripes.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on August 23, 2020, 12:10:56 PM
What a thrill to know the 5 boroughs of New York City:
Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Of course the Bronx is home to the New York Yankees.  This
is the most successful sports franchise in American history.
Yankee Stadium is the beautiful cathedral which hosts the
Bronx Bombers and their 27 World Series Championships.

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi
Berra, Whitey Ford, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter are just a
few of the MLB Hall of Famers who have worn the Yankee
pinstripes.

Once upon a time - John will remember this - someone in the marketing division at our Concordia came up with this slogan as a way to recruit:  Bronxville - It's Not the Bronx. 
Seriously.   So the pastoral and lay denizens of The Bronx crafted letters indicating that the comparison was not apt, to put the best construction on it. 
"How," they would ask rhetorically, "is your world class zoo.  It must be better than the Bronx Zoo, known worldwide."  "How," they would continue, "is your best in the US Botanical Garden.  It must be far better than the Bronx Botanical Garden which houses the only original growth forest in this region, and is frequented by botanists from all over the world."  "How," they would conclude, "is your Major League Baseball Team doing up there in Bronxville.  Our squad has won 27 World Series; what's the Bronxville team's record?"

The slogan, which was somehow designed to attract students from upstate, was mysteriously dropped soon thereafter. 

Jonas Bronck could well have been Lutheran - that's one of the major descriptions.  He was most likely a Dane.  Later on in New Amsterdam, the Dutch Reformed were running the place, so that's how he may have ended his days on the 680 acre farm he called Emmaus but later folks called Broncksland that is now the Mott Haven section.  Check this out:  a really great read - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/arts/design/bronx-virtual-tour.html.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on August 23, 2020, 12:26:12 PM
Yeah, but you could do that with all kinds of slogans. I remember shirts in Hungary (very pro-U.S. in ‘91) that said “Budapest is not Bucharest.” Or “Not your grandfather’s church.” Hmmm. My grandfather’s church was growing rapidly, how’s yours doing? My grandfather’s church had hundreds of parochial schools flourishing in urban centers. How’s yours? Etc. Students from upstate who might not have been willing to go to school in a big city but who would consider Bronxville could probably have benefited from the slogan. The issue then, of course, is the insult to the Bronx. But the objections to the insult can easily turn into a counter-insult/accusation that there must be something suspect or problematic about anyone who doesn’t want to go to school in the Bronx. So, best to avoid the slogan and avoid any public response.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Julio on August 23, 2020, 12:34:37 PM
Intrigued by Rev Benke’s following post ....
I've always thought this thread was the best of us on this board in these past months, initiated by our friend Charles Austin.
Dave Benke
I went to review this thread’s contents. Apparently... and most likely without the knowledge of Rev Benke, the initial post to this thread now appears as follows ....
Content deleted   
« Last Edit: August 19, 2020, 06:40:40 PM by Charles Austin »
Much of the content Rev Benke referenced as “ the best of us on this board in these past months” is no longer available to forum members and guests.

Perhaps someone archived this thread and could share the archive link with the forum members and guests.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on August 23, 2020, 01:23:43 PM
Check this out:  a really great read - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/arts/design/bronx-virtual-tour.html (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/arts/design/bronx-virtual-tour.html).

Dave Benke
Thank you for the link.   It is tragic that even in The Bronx the selfish self centered graffiti vandal thugs live such a depraved life that the have to vandalize area businesses as depicted in the linked article.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James_Gale on August 23, 2020, 03:25:59 PM
What a thrill to know the 5 boroughs of New York City:
Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Of course the Bronx is home to the New York Yankees.  This
is the most successful sports franchise in American history.
Yankee Stadium is the beautiful cathedral which hosts the
Bronx Bombers and their 27 World Series Championships.

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi
Berra, Whitey Ford, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter are just a
few of the MLB Hall of Famers who have worn the Yankee
pinstripes.

Once upon a time - John will remember this - someone in the marketing division at our Concordia came up with this slogan as a way to recruit:  Bronxville - It's Not the Bronx. 
Seriously.   So the pastoral and lay denizens of The Bronx crafted letters indicating that the comparison was not apt, to put the best construction on it. 
"How," they would ask rhetorically, "is your world class zoo.  It must be better than the Bronx Zoo, known worldwide."  "How," they would continue, "is your best in the US Botanical Garden.  It must be far better than the Bronx Botanical Garden which houses the only original growth forest in this region, and is frequented by botanists from all over the world."  "How," they would conclude, "is your Major League Baseball Team doing up there in Bronxville.  Our squad has won 27 World Series; what's the Bronxville team's record?"

The slogan, which was somehow designed to attract students from upstate, was mysteriously dropped soon thereafter. 

Jonas Bronck could well have been Lutheran - that's one of the major descriptions.  He was most likely a Dane.  Later on in New Amsterdam, the Dutch Reformed were running the place, so that's how he may have ended his days on the 680 acre farm he called Emmaus but later folks called Broncksland that is now the Mott Haven section.  Check this out:  a really great read - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/arts/design/bronx-virtual-tour.html (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/arts/design/bronx-virtual-tour.html).

Dave Benke


Bronxville is a lovely spot. Few parts of the Bronx look much like it, although the Bronx does harbor abiding beauty as well (along with just a few urban struggles).


For the record, Yankee Stadium today lacks the gritty grandeur and the history of the old place, particularly in its pre-1974 form.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on August 23, 2020, 03:42:16 PM
What a thrill to know the 5 boroughs of New York City:
Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Of course the Bronx is home to the New York Yankees.  This
is the most successful sports franchise in American history.
Yankee Stadium is the beautiful cathedral which hosts the
Bronx Bombers and their 27 World Series Championships.

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi
Berra, Whitey Ford, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter are just a
few of the MLB Hall of Famers who have worn the Yankee
pinstripes.

Once upon a time - John will remember this - someone in the marketing division at our Concordia came up with this slogan as a way to recruit:  Bronxville - It's Not the Bronx. 
Seriously.   So the pastoral and lay denizens of The Bronx crafted letters indicating that the comparison was not apt, to put the best construction on it. 
"How," they would ask rhetorically, "is your world class zoo.  It must be better than the Bronx Zoo, known worldwide."  "How," they would continue, "is your best in the US Botanical Garden.  It must be far better than the Bronx Botanical Garden which houses the only original growth forest in this region, and is frequented by botanists from all over the world."  "How," they would conclude, "is your Major League Baseball Team doing up there in Bronxville.  Our squad has won 27 World Series; what's the Bronxville team's record?"

The slogan, which was somehow designed to attract students from upstate, was mysteriously dropped soon thereafter. 

Jonas Bronck could well have been Lutheran - that's one of the major descriptions.  He was most likely a Dane.  Later on in New Amsterdam, the Dutch Reformed were running the place, so that's how he may have ended his days on the 680 acre farm he called Emmaus but later folks called Broncksland that is now the Mott Haven section.  Check this out:  a really great read - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/arts/design/bronx-virtual-tour.html (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/arts/design/bronx-virtual-tour.html).

Dave Benke


Bronxville is a lovely spot. Few parts of the Bronx look much like it, although the Bronx does harbor abiding beauty as well (along with just a few urban struggles).


For the record, Yankee Stadium today lacks the gritty grandeur and the history of the old place, particularly in its pre-1974 form.

Yeah, the Bronx would be "lovely" all over if we had half as much wealth as Bronxville. Jonas Bronck was Lutheran. We don't know if he went to church much; he had no family.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on August 23, 2020, 10:00:46 PM
What a thrill to know the 5 boroughs of New York City:
Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Of course the Bronx is home to the New York Yankees.  This
is the most successful sports franchise in American history.
Yankee Stadium is the beautiful cathedral which hosts the
Bronx Bombers and their 27 World Series Championships.

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi
Berra, Whitey Ford, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter are just a
few of the MLB Hall of Famers who have worn the Yankee
pinstripes.

Once upon a time - John will remember this - someone in the marketing division at our Concordia came up with this slogan as a way to recruit:  Bronxville - It's Not the Bronx. 
Seriously.   So the pastoral and lay denizens of The Bronx crafted letters indicating that the comparison was not apt, to put the best construction on it. 
"How," they would ask rhetorically, "is your world class zoo.  It must be better than the Bronx Zoo, known worldwide."  "How," they would continue, "is your best in the US Botanical Garden.  It must be far better than the Bronx Botanical Garden which houses the only original growth forest in this region, and is frequented by botanists from all over the world."  "How," they would conclude, "is your Major League Baseball Team doing up there in Bronxville.  Our squad has won 27 World Series; what's the Bronxville team's record?"

The slogan, which was somehow designed to attract students from upstate, was mysteriously dropped soon thereafter. 

Jonas Bronck could well have been Lutheran - that's one of the major descriptions.  He was most likely a Dane.  Later on in New Amsterdam, the Dutch Reformed were running the place, so that's how he may have ended his days on the 680 acre farm he called Emmaus but later folks called Broncksland that is now the Mott Haven section.  Check this out:  a really great read - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/arts/design/bronx-virtual-tour.html (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/arts/design/bronx-virtual-tour.html).

Dave Benke


Bronxville is a lovely spot. Few parts of the Bronx look much like it, although the Bronx does harbor abiding beauty as well (along with just a few urban struggles).


For the record, Yankee Stadium today lacks the gritty grandeur and the history of the old place, particularly in its pre-1974 form.

"Gritty grandeur."  That's good. 
Gritty memories - We're taken there in 1971 while on vicarage by a Connecticut Yankee fan.  The real house that Ruth built.  Get out of the car, and a kid runs by us with a purse as a woman shouts - "He stole my purse!"  The Connecticut Yankee fan says "Welcome to Yankee Stadium!"
We're there in the late 70s because midwestern relatives want to see Yankee Stadium.  Evening game in August against the Sox, and Spaceman Lee is pitching for the Sox.  Wild game - big fight on the field, these midwesterners are hearing the actual crowd sounds - whoa! - and over the whole stadium is the incredibly strong smell of weed.  Then the fights break out in the stands and somebody is tossed from the upper deck into the middle deck.  I remember saying "Seen enough?"  and we exited with all due haste.
I'm going with some kids in the mid-80s and I say, "I refuse to pay for parking up here.  We're from East New York, for crying out loud, how bad could it be to just park on the street a few blocks away."  So we drive on and around some old apartment buildings; there's a spot.  A guy on the street looks at me as I get out of the car, and then looks up to the sixth floor and gives another guy the high sign and a third guy comes from around the corner.  I look at the kids I've taken up there, say "You know, I've changed my mind.  What harm would it be to pay a few bucks for parking?"  And rush them back into the car and off to the parking lot.
Gritty grandeur indeed. 

I did see Donny Ballgame hit a homer during the stretch where he homered in 8 straight games. 

I was also there for an afternoon in late September, 2001.  In the infield, around second base. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on August 30, 2020, 12:36:22 PM
Today was one of those small, but significant moments of congregational and family joy in the midst of the pandemic.

Earlier this month, on Aug. 10, I buried a 50 year old woman.  The next day her 59 year old brother died, and we buried him on Aug. 15. It was hard on the family, especially the 80-something mother who lost two adult children within days.  Thankfully we were able to hold the funerals, albeit with reduced numbers and pandemic protocols.   

This morning we confirmed the son of the woman buried on Aug. 10. He was a 'class of one', but we did it with all the ceremony and celebration we would do with a regular class in normal times.  Just before this difficult month of death and mourning closed, we were able to bring a moment of joy and celebration to our congregation. I have learned during these times to treasure moments of celebration, no matter how small they are.  And it was a record attendance for Sunday - 49! There with our little band of faithful we heard the public confession of one of our own, prayed again for a member and her family who lost her mother and buried her this past week, and then celebrated the Sacrament.  Life is difficult and unpredictable and challenging, but the risen Lord is still among us! Life reigns!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on August 30, 2020, 01:49:33 PM
Today was one of those small, but significant moments of congregational and family joy in the midst of the pandemic.

Earlier this month, on Aug. 10, I buried a 50 year old woman.  The next day her 59 year old brother died, and we buried him on Aug. 15. It was hard on the family, especially the 80-something mother who lost two adult children within days.  Thankfully we were able to hold the funerals, albeit with reduced numbers and pandemic protocols.   

This morning we confirmed the son of the woman buried on Aug. 10. He was a 'class of one', but we did it with all the ceremony and celebration we would do with a regular class in normal times.  Just before this difficult month of death and mourning closed, we were able to bring a moment of joy and celebration to our congregation. I have learned during these times to treasure moments of celebration, no matter how small they are.  And it was a record attendance for Sunday - 49! There with our little band of faithful we heard the public confession of one of our own, prayed again for a member and her family who lost her mother and buried her this past week, and then celebrated the Sacrament.  Life is difficult and unpredictable and challenging, but the risen Lord is still among us! Life reigns!

Great event. Powerful!

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on October 08, 2020, 11:45:02 AM
Chapter 11:
Our granddaughter’s Confirmation was scheduled for May, but obviously….
   The congregation landed on the idea of “individual” confirmation rites, which would be videoed and then assembled into a “church service” to be broadcast Nov. 1. I had asked if I could be a part of the Confirmation, as I was when our grandson was confirmed four years ago. (Different set of pastors this time.)
   So we did “Confirmation” yesterday. We met at the church, ten of us in the “family pod.” As we “signed in,” one person from each segment of the family pod had to fill out a form saying we had no symptoms, had not been tested positive and had not been in contact with anyone who tested positive. Then we proceeded to the chancel.
   Inside the chancel, the pastor was videotaped with Isabelle who answered the questions. Then the video was halted while I came to the altar rail in front of Isabelle and the family gathered behind her. I placed my hands on her head and pronounced the Confirmation blessing; and I believe this was captured on video from a camera at the altar.
   Then we departed, taking our pictures outside, because inside the church we were all required to be masked.
   Satisfying? Not very, but it was, apparently, all we could do. The preps for the video made it seem more like a filmed “scene” than a liturgical rite. The absence of other family and friends, not to mention the 20+ other confirmands in her class, seemed strange.
   But that is the nature of things today. Strange.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on October 08, 2020, 12:43:15 PM
My daughter is graduating from Valpo next month. She already had her semester in Paris cut short and her overseas internship ruined, but was looking forward to graduating in the chapel, and my wife and I wanted to be there. Not to be. Absurdly, VU has declared the Covid capacity of the massive chapel to be 100 people. That means they're going to do something like six separate graduations. And they're going to stagger them back and forth between the chapel and the gymnasium so that cleaning can take place between them. So she will be graduating in the gym. But the kicker to me is that her ceremony will be taking place at 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I won't be there, obviously.

We delayed out Confirmation service but ended up doing with some modifications. Each confirmand could only bring four people and they had assigned places with family groups socially distanced. But it happened with everyone there, and it was a glorious day.

Panic and craven safety-obsession can do as much damage to the fabric of human life as disease.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James J Eivan on October 08, 2020, 12:59:35 PM
My daughter is graduating from Valpo next month. She already had her semester in Paris cut short and her overseas internship ruined, but was looking forward to graduating in the chapel, and my wife and I wanted to be there. Not to be. Absurdly, VU has declared the Covid capacity of the massive chapel to be 100 people. That means they're going to do something like six separate graduations. And they're going to stagger them back and forth between the chapel and the gymnasium so that cleaning can take place between them. So she will be graduating in the gym. But the kicker to me is that her ceremony will be taking place at 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I won't be there, obviously.

We delayed out Confirmation service but ended up doing with some modifications. Each confirmand could only bring four people and they had assigned places with family groups socially distanced. But it happened with everyone there, and it was a glorious day.

Panic and craven safety-obsession can do as much damage to the fabric of human life as disease.
Sounds like the mentality of a secular organization ... a failure to respect Sunday morning as a time of worship.  Why not Saturday .. unless they are catering Jews and Seventh Day Adventist among the student body.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on November 09, 2020, 12:02:54 PM
I was slow to realize it, but a truly great loss to my life under the pandemic was music. I can still surround myself with music and often do that; but I have lost participation in making music.
   I sing with two groups, The 80-member Edina Chorale, a mixed chorus, and the Apollo Club, 50 guys who sing male chorus music. When they need a tenor and when the rehearsals do not conflict with other stuff, I sing in the church choir, about 35 members.
   These things were lost to me in March. We do “rehearse” in online zoom meetings, and we are learning some new music, but we are not together singing and we are certainly not making music for others. And it hurts. At an online zoom session when we sang – together but not hearing the others – some old hymns (the harmony coming from my memory), it was hard to keep from weeping.
   For the past 35 years, I’ve been involved in choral music.
   I sang with a fine male chorus, The Orpheus Club of Ridgewood (NJ), and a church choir. For some years I sang in a barbershop chorus and did a little quartet singing.
   Music took hold, inspired and changed me. It had power, something almost organic and as influential as anything physical or emotional. Singing, I remembered the hymns of childhood and what those songs do to me today when we sing “For All The Saints” or “Children of the Heavenly Father” (which Swedes sing at funerals) or when a cantor sings Kaddish. I am not conventionally “patriotic.” But I am moved by “God Bless America” and the national anthem. The songs of Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs are more my kind of “patriotism” and they, too, take hold of me.
   As a boy, I took piano lessons, played clarinet in high school bands, orchestras and a dance band combo, sang in church and school choirs, but I did not understand how music was shaping me. A teen in the 50s and a young adult in the 60s, I know now what Rock and Roll and the protest songs did for my life; and I know what music meant to my parents, not musicians, but great fans of the Big Band music and singers of the 1930s and 1940s.
   I learned the classics and no matter how many times I sing a Beethoven hallelujah or a Bach cantata, or listen to a Mahler symphony or Tchaikovsky piano concerto, those pieces reach deeply into whatever it is that I am.
   My music is infinitely varied; singing to myself at the keyboard or in the car, a few guys around a piano, German drinking songs at the Hofbrau House in Munich, a chamber ensemble, a symphony, a protest rally, a theater, a church. How is it that music of other times and places can transport me from the 21st century to the same places – artistically and emotionally – inhabited by the composers, performers and audiences of centuries past? Why is it that I can take part in a Greek Orthodox Christian liturgy, with roots in the 4th Century, or sing an African-American spiritual from the 19th Century and touch those times and those people? When “Silhouette” plays on an oldies station, why am I suddenly 16 years old again?
   Broadway musicals sweep over me, even when the music is “commercial” or corny. I am culturally distant from rap, so I was surprised at my thrilling response to “Hamilton.” How did that happen?
   We sing to celebrate, to inspire, for “art” and the genius and creativity of composers and performers. Music is foundational to love, to war, to the desire for peace, the creation of human community, the search for God, the praise of God, lamenting the absence of God or the desire to express some awe at the majesty of the universe.
   We want audiences to feel what music is for the composers, the times and for us.
I now realize that music is more than “fun.” It is fun but music is such a great force in the universe and in the arena of human art that I may not trivialize it into a simple pastime or “performance.” A fine director, John Palatucci, taught me that music also builds community, both for singers and audiences.
   Today, in our church choir, some of us are singing our “parts” into videos, which are then spliced together to make a chorus video. Nice, but it’s not what music should be.
   In the Edina Chorale, we are learning music online so that we will be ready when we can get together. The leadership is planning – though most tentatively – concerts for 2021. Maybe it will work, maybe not.
   There is real pain in having lost most of my music for the past six months. I can only approach the future with hope.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Rob Morris on November 09, 2020, 12:23:48 PM
From the moment lockdowns were first contemplated, let alone instituted, I have worried about this exact thing: healthy, community-based activities that bring together people from different ideologies have been shut down.

In their place: unhealthy, solo activities that create a human silo ([cough, cough] like the incessant fighting about politics on this very board). The brain's dopamine hit of a wonderful choir rehearsal has been replaced by the epinephrine hit of an internet flameout.

I have a score of folks who became shut-ins overnight, with nothing but the TV or Facebook posts to take the place of the robust senior activities they formerly participated in. Das ist nicht sehr gut.

There are activities that naturally help to bridge the divides in our culture... but Facebook, Twitter, Fox News, and CNN are not on that list. (And sadly, increasingly, neither is this very board.)

Being healthy and being virus-free are related. But they aren't the same thing. I hope with the election increasingly in the rearview, maybe a mature conversation can be had as a nation about the cost/benefit of virus prevention and the cost/benefit of the precautions necessary to that end. Especially as the severity/fatality rates become increasingly predictive.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Weedon on November 09, 2020, 01:30:48 PM
Ivor’s work here will one day be acknowledged: https://youtu.be/E0Z2rfsUbBs
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on November 19, 2020, 01:07:54 PM
Our facility is shut down again; as three workers here were infected; those of us who had contact with them were tested. Beloved Spouse and I tested negative. But our dining room and activities are on hold again; and the state just issued additional orders for the month ahead. So I wrote...
Dear family and friends,
   I have wept real tears and shaken my supposedly tough-guy body with sobs, realizing that we will not be together this Thanksgiving. I even try to suppress memory, for it does not bring smiling nostalgia, but increased pain. Our separation these days is for “good reason,” probably even life-saving reasons. This, however, does not take away the hurt.
   We are, I believe, in a war. It is as if bombs were falling around us and we must take shelter.
   The disruption in our lives, while not as vicious as that faced by the British in 1940, is nonetheless real and wide-ranging. Virtually everything that enriched my life – movies, theater, social events, singing groups, dinner out with friends, church, travel, freedom to roam wherever I wanted – was taken from me last March. Even activities in our retirement facility and meals in our fine dining room are suspended. The food we order is delivered in sacks of green boxes.
   This is our life now, in the war against the virus. We are not combatants on the front lines; we are civilians trying to survive. Now we see, with the development of vaccines, new and powerful weapons in this war. We hang on every hopeful sign.
   Meanwhile, it is hard to control my anger. The top leadership of our country failed us dozens of times since the virus became known last January. What might we have saved, how many lives might have been saved if, instead of idiotic denial and bumbling, we pulled together in the war for the last nine months?
   I am also angry at many fellow citizens, who to this very day, downplay the seriousness of the war and mock efforts to improve public health as assaults on our “freedom.”
   Furthermore, I am angry at those who – despite no evidence – continue to claim some massive fraud infested this year’s election. They are fools; their actions border on criminality or treason. And they have grievously hurt our war against the virus.
   But it will be Thanksgiving and I am to give thanks. I will, I guess, do so. Beloved Spouse and I are alive, relatively healthy for our advanced ages. We live in a retirement facility and restrictions here minimize our chances of being exposed to infection. We don’t socialize, We wear masks when grocery shopping, and avoid crowds. 
   So I guess I’m thankful for life, for the hope that vaccines will come in the months ahead, for the hope that family and friends will be spared additional pain. I’m thankful for all the holidays I have had with family and friends though it hurts to get too close to those memories today.
   I believe we will come through today’s war, and am thankful that – when the tears are not flowing – I can believe that.
   I hope you can, too.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on November 19, 2020, 01:42:33 PM
Our facility is shut down again; as three workers here were infected; those of us who had contact with them were tested. Beloved Spouse and I tested negative. But our dining room and activities are on hold again; and the state just issued additional orders for the month ahead. So I wrote...
Dear family and friends,
   I have wept real tears and shaken my supposedly tough-guy body with sobs, realizing that we will not be together this Thanksgiving. I even try to suppress memory, for it does not bring smiling nostalgia, but increased pain. Our separation these days is for “good reason,” probably even life-saving reasons. This, however, does not take away the hurt.
   We are, I believe, in a war. It is as if bombs were falling around us and we must take shelter.
   The disruption in our lives, while not as vicious as that faced by the British in 1940, is nonetheless real and wide-ranging. Virtually everything that enriched my life – movies, theater, social events, singing groups, dinner out with friends, church, travel, freedom to roam wherever I wanted – was taken from me last March. Even activities in our retirement facility and meals in our fine dining room are suspended. The food we order is delivered in sacks of green boxes.
   This is our life now, in the war against the virus. We are not combatants on the front lines; we are civilians trying to survive. Now we see, with the development of vaccines, new and powerful weapons in this war. We hang on every hopeful sign.
   Meanwhile, it is hard to control my anger. The top leadership of our country failed us dozens of times since the virus became known last January. What might we have saved, how many lives might have been saved if, instead of idiotic denial and bumbling, we pulled together in the war for the last nine months?
   I am also angry at many fellow citizens, who to this very day, downplay the seriousness of the war and mock efforts to improve public health as assaults on our “freedom.”
   Furthermore, I am angry at those who – despite no evidence – continue to claim some massive fraud infested this year’s election. They are fools; their actions border on criminality or treason. And they have grievously hurt our war against the virus.

   But it will be Thanksgiving and I am to give thanks. I will, I guess, do so. Beloved Spouse and I are alive, relatively healthy for our advanced ages. We live in a retirement facility and restrictions here minimize our chances of being exposed to infection. We don’t socialize, We wear masks when grocery shopping, and avoid crowds. 
   So I guess I’m thankful for life, for the hope that vaccines will come in the months ahead, for the hope that family and friends will be spared additional pain. I’m thankful for all the holidays I have had with family and friends though it hurts to get too close to those memories today.
   I believe we will come through today’s war, and am thankful that – when the tears are not flowing – I can believe that.
   I hope you can, too.
Why are things so bad in Europe if the situation here was caused but our bumbling leadership? Not not all those countries have idiotic, bumbling heads of state. But the bolded parts above have become par for the course for you. Maybe you should take a break from this forum.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on November 19, 2020, 01:56:25 PM
As I work through John Barry's book The Great Influenza, I am thankful that we are not facing what they faced just a little over a century ago in that last great pandemic to hit our shores. They faced a government far less sensitive to the horror overtaking the country, and far less supportive.  They faced a population so overtaken by fear they neglected their families and neighbors. Healthcare providers and other organizations begged for workers.  Some came, many did not, more came and then disappeared after facing the stench of decay. The need to fight the war of massive sickness competed with the Great War being slogged out in the trenches of Europe.  Although I will this coming week bury my second pandemic victim, I am thankful that my ministry is not completely overwhelmed by death.  I cannot imagine what they saw and smelled and heard so long ago in cities like Philadelphia where bodies were stacked up in homes and morgues and hospitals and carried away in carts reminiscent of a Medieval plague.

"In virtually every home, someone was ill. People were already avoiding each other, turning their heads away if they had to talk, isolating themselves.  The telephone company increased the isolation: with eighteen hundred telephone company employees out, the phone company allowed only emergency calls; operators listened to calls randomly and cut off phone service of those who made routine calls.  And the isolation increased the fear.  Clifford Adam recalled, 'They stopped people from communicating, from going to churches, closed the schools,...closed all the saloons....Everything was quiet."

I am thankful that although I hear echoes of our experience in those words, I know we haven't descended that far.  Hopefully never will....

I live with some fear, but not an incapacitating one. I can still minister even with increased risk. I live with some loneliness, missing the time I once enjoyed with my children, but not one of despair.  I resonated with the sentence in Barry's book: "It now seemed as if there had never been life before the epidemic. The disease informed every action of every person in the city."  It's not that bad here.  Not even close.  But it does seem at times that "there had never been life before" our pandemic came.

We could always have done more.  As a pastor I know I could have.  Still could.  Guilt shadows me, but I keep moving ahead.  But God will see us through.  He has not abandoned us.   
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Voelker on November 19, 2020, 02:18:51 PM
Definitely worth a read: https://concordiatheology.org/2018/11/jeff-gibbs-the-myth-of-righteous-anger/ (https://concordiatheology.org/2018/11/jeff-gibbs-the-myth-of-righteous-anger/)

Jeff Gibbs, "The Myth of Righteous Anger: What the Bible Says About Human Anger".
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on November 19, 2020, 05:38:24 PM
Peter writes:
Maybe you should take a break from this forum.
I muse:
Sure. Great idea. Kind of you to suggest it.
Cut myself off from what small amount of  human contact (sort of) this very modest forum provides.
Walk away from an organization that has (mostly) informed and inspired me for 50 years.
The fact that ALPB forum is at present dominated by aggressive forces from a very narrow slice of Lutheranism and thrown into disarray by troublesome folks from who hide their identity does make things uncomfortable here. But ALPB is part of my life. Has been for longer than you’ve been around.
This thread is sort of an occasional diary entry on my pilgrimage through the pandemic. If parts of it bother you, don’t read it.
I might muse on what I think par for the course for you is. But not here.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on November 19, 2020, 06:14:06 PM
BTW, when posted in another place, my “letter” received some kind, “me too,” complimentary responses.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Julio on November 19, 2020, 08:11:17 PM
Definitely worth a read: https://concordiatheology.org/2018/11/jeff-gibbs-the-myth-of-righteous-anger/ (https://concordiatheology.org/2018/11/jeff-gibbs-the-myth-of-righteous-anger/)

Jeff Gibbs, "The Myth of Righteous Anger: What the Bible Says About Human Anger".
Anger ... especially unrighteous anger can be worse than cancer .. eating away at one’s heart ... damaging the heart and soul far more disastrously than cancer eats away at the body.

Anger often results from focusing on one’s self and problems rather than focusing on our Loving God and the salvation won for us through the birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Richard Johnson on November 20, 2020, 12:21:30 AM

   I hope you can, too.

Me, too.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on November 26, 2020, 05:00:22 AM
Thanksgiving alone: Breaking the myths. The Year of the Pandemic

In this pandemic year, Beloved Spouse and I will eat Thanksgiving dinner alone, the meal brought to our door in three courses. Over on another thread, Peter says Thanksgiving is “aspirational.” I would say the favored “pictures” of the holiday are mythological.
   Childhood Thanksgiving was filled with mythology. The Puritans’ “noble” quest for religious freedom. The cozy Pilgrim-Indian friendship. Norman Rockwell paintings, which we had in abundance. The family of several generations happily gathered. Even the wonderful deliciousness of the food. All myths. But we inserted our families into the myths and acted them out.
   Post-war years in Iowa, the Thanksgiving family was my parents, me, my maternal grandmother and a divorced aunt with three children. Sometimes that meant a “children’s table”. That grandmother died when I was 9; the aunt remarried and moved far away. In another part of Sioux City, a different covey of Austins gathered with paternal grandparents. Since we had moved across town, my parents and I were not really part of that sometimes tumultuous “family,” except on Christmas Eve when we made the 40-minute streetcar ride to the grandmother’s house. I don’t think I ever heard Grandpa Austin speak a word. He sat in his chair, smoking a pipe, generally ignoring everyone. He died when I was about 13.
   That year, I gained a “brother,” as we took in a 7-year old cousin, whose mother had died and whose father was unable to care for him.
   Most houses in my neighborhood had only one child. A few went “over the river and through the woods” to be with older relatives, but most stayed home. We kids would sometimes get together after Thanksgiving dinner, taking our sleds to a nearby hill if there was snow.
   Television arrived, with Thanksgiving specials, if we could get a picture that did not look like ghosts dancing in a snowstorm. When reception improved, it was the Macy’s Parade and – for some – football. We were adding to the myths of thanksgiving.
   I remember one, maybe two, larger Thanksgivings at our house with distant relatives visiting Sioux City. One of my mother’s sisters, a heavy drinker on her second marriage (there would be three). Two families from my father’s side who lived in Mason City (considered far away in pre-Interstate days). My piano teacher next-door neighbor, living alone in the house where her parents had died that year.
   In college years I had to connect with the family of the woman who would become Beloved Spouse. Not easy. No realized Norman Rockwell paintings there. And I was the interloper plotting to steal away the treasured First Grandchild.
   Thanksgivings the first 10 married years were “just us,” maybe another couple (we couldn’t afford to feed a crowd.) No continuity, no stability. Seminary. Internship in Kingston, NY. Back to Chicago. First parish. Big move from Iowa to New York.
   In New York, we assimilated the myths of longer-term friends, including a married couple, both Methodist clergy, the husband a journalist like me. Those Thanksgivings meant outstanding southern cooking (they were from Georgia and Tennessee), guests who were journalists, authors, and Methodist church executives. We were the only family with children. These were great times. But the husband finally came to terms with being gay; after an amicable divorce, the wife became a bishop’s assistant in Tennessee.
   The myths were set aside in Europe. It wasn’t a holiday. Americans would get together on the fourth Saturday in November for the Turkey fest, arranging for the consulate in Geneva to supply us with cranberry sauce.
   In the 1980s in New Jersey, Beloved Spouse and I became the host family. The number of chairs around the table varied, usually including the lesbian couple next door, our children (until Glenda went to Minneapolis for college), sometimes a girlfriend attached to our son, the divorced Methodist journalist, a older married couple with grown children, and one or two single schoolteachers. These, too, were very good years, and I truly miss the heavy work required to put it all together. (I know at least four ways to peel chestnuts; and all are difficult.)
   One of these years, I had to be in the newsroom by 1 pm and work until 11, so the dinner went on without me (as did the dinner in the homes of the 100 or so other people putting out the newspaper.) I spent a good part of that day cold and wet at the scene of a fire, and the rest of it calling cops to see if any of the domestic disputes had resulted in an arrest or fatality.
   Most of our friends “celebrated” similar Thanksgivings as changing, varied-myth festivals. Generally, the food remained, but little else. Furthermore, things in “the world,” civil unrest, political turmoil, church controversies, job insecurity, potentially fatal sicknesses and children of friends going through tough times were almost always present and intrusive to what was supposed to be a warm, cozy holiday.
    Then came Minneapolis two years ago. 
    Daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren always spent Thanksgiving three hours from Minneapolis with his family, so – reducing and changing the myths – we joined the table of a brother-in-law who had remarried some years after the sister of Beloved Spouse died. 
   And now The Year of the Pandemic. We will watch what's left of the Macy's Parade on television. The kids are nearby, as the family-gathering myth of our son-in-law has collapsed. But we can’t be with them. We will do a late-afternoon drive-by to pick up some of their leftovers.
    The myths of Thanksgiving. What a set of memories, experiences, changing locations, different faces around the table!
   And each year, we find things for which to be thankful. I suppose we’ll do that this Year of the Pandemic.
   -0-
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on November 26, 2020, 09:20:40 AM
Driving to town I noticed I have not one, but two stations now on my car radio that are devoted exclusively to Christmas songs. One started the holiday singing right after Halloween, not unlike the quick shelf change at Walmart, shifting the orange and black for the red and green in an amazing blurry exchange. Holidays are, well, a bit weird in my older years.  Much, much more commercialized for sure. And, as Pr. Austin's reference to "myths," perhaps more than a bit artificial.

I am more and more grateful for the church and its enduring seasons in the liturgical year.  The gulf widens by the year.  We used to complain only about the disparity between Advent and the secular dragged out Christmas, but now the differences are more distinct than ever. But maybe that's good, in a reversal sort of way. I was surprised last night at our church last night.  It was our annual Thanksgiving Eve service (sorry, Richard, I know it's an anomaly).  This service essentially replaced our midweek service we extended well beyond the summer months due to the pandemic to allow for continued social distancing.  The altar guild lady prepared for a small group.  I expected no more myself.  Now the group was by now means a swelling mob, but it was easily double what we planned for. I'm not entirely sure what it means, but I suspect that in these difficult times people need that connection with the only thing that remains certain.  I preached on the OT reading from Deut. 8 under the theme of "Remembering is the Beginning of Thanksgiving."  I talked about how the pandemic has impacted Thanksgiving this year, but in a positive way I noted that it has taught some of us the real essence of the words Jesus also quoted: "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out the mouth of God." I recalled how God warned the Israelites, now on the verge of entering this prosperous and bountiful new land, that they not "forget"; especially forget how they got there, who got them there, upon who they were dependent. And, yes, I reached back to the iconic "first thanksgiving" of the English colonists in 1621 as recorded by Edward Winslow.  Contrary to the "myth" where we have happy pilgrims gathered around a feast indicating that the new colony was celebrating all their successes in this new world, the remaining 53 were deeply aware that they were the only survivors of the original 102.  Many would not be at the table that year.  They had tragically died from starvation and disease.  But Winslow noted: "And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” I'd like to believe that these religious separtists, who like many such before them sacrificed much to make a new start for the sake of the liberty of faith, realized more than most that they were there that day purely by the grace of God. 

This day our family 'crowd' around the Thanksgiving table will be three: me, my wife and my youngest daughter taking university courses from home this semester.  I cannot be with my two eldest children on the other side of the state.  We will connect, as we do often, by Zoom, but I know it's a poor substitute for real in-person fellowship.  Yet it's all we've got this year.  I'm thankful for a technology that did not exist when I and my wife were married 33+ years ago.  Right now I'm finishing up my breakfast and second cup of coffee, and in my own tradition will soon head out to the woods to find that illusive buck.  Hunting turns out to be the best pandemic activity.  All alone in God's creation.  Perfect social distancing.  And I don't even have to wear a mask!

This year we also discovered something positive about how the pandemic has changed our holiday. In many ways for us it was a 'reset.'  Over the years the holidays involved more travel, more activities, more obligations, more inane busyness.  Instead of a holiday of rest, it was a time of rush, get ready, prepare, work, etc. With so many activities removed from the calendar we are freed to go back to a simpler time. Little activities put on the shelf years ago, things as simple as baking Christmas cookies, can be rediscovered again.  I never had a large family.  Years ago we had maybe a dozen or so at my mother's house and then later at my aunts house.  But as relatives passed away and others moved away, the crowd diminished in size, and finally just vanished.  I 'restarted' with my own growing family, but this year that, too, has been suspended.  But I have my wife and one child, no more than I did 30 years ago when my family was just starting.  Because my in-laws and my family were often so far away and I always had church commitments, we never really traveled during those times, at least not the first 13 years.  My first thanksgiving in the ministry, as I recall, was in a 12 x 50 single-wide mobile home in the poorest county in Michigan.  My new wife prepared, I think, a couple of Cornish hens.  Just the two of us. Simple. But we were together. 

This year I am seeing this challenging year as not so much a destroying of myths as a reset to simpler times.  By God's grace my church's doors are still open, I am still healthy and able to lead worship, and modern technology keeps me connected with those who cannot be with us.  That's the heart of it.  I still listen to those Christmas songs on the car radio, a bit of guilty pleasure in escaping to the emotional myth of times that perhaps never really existed.  But escapism isn't all bad.  As long as you don't completely disassociate in the recesses of your inner mind.  So, far, I'm not there yet. ;)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on November 26, 2020, 11:12:00 AM
Q. What does I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer with anything?

A. Memories. Real life. Nostalgia. Humor. Holiday traditions (not yours, but ours). And the curative, truly healing powers of “feel good foolishness,” sometimes better than piety and prayer.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Pastor Ken Kimball on November 26, 2020, 11:51:34 AM
Thank you Pr. Austin and Pr. Engebretson for your reminiscences and reflections on Thanksgivings past and present.  Despite the Covid-wrought changes and challenges this year, I wish you both and all of the ALPB online community a blessed Thanksgiving.
Ken
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Richard Johnson on November 26, 2020, 12:00:57 PM
One positive thing about Pandemic Thanksgiving. Since we'll be alone, we mutually agreed last night that there was really no good reason not to break into the pumpkin pie a day early.   ;D
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2020, 12:07:58 PM
One positive thing about Pandemic Thanksgiving. Since we'll be alone, we mutually agreed last night that there was really no good reason not to break into the pumpkin pie a day early.   ;D


So, make up a bad reason. A pie, still a bit warm from the oven, is better than a day-old pie from the refrigerator.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Randy Bosch on November 26, 2020, 03:02:38 PM
Many "myths" have been duct-taped into Thanksgiving over the centuries.
Some of today's myths-busters are not merely trying to correct mutation in the historical events, but to turn it into an insidious white colonization scheme designed to bring disease to the inhabitants and steal their country (NYT article).
Others try to debunk the self-styled myth busters: https://nypost.com/2020/11/25/thanksgiving-is-a-myth-is-fat-lefty-lie/  /

Ironic that the folks founding the settlement in/near/at Plymouth were, centuries ago, boat people leaving their homeland to escape religious persecution, cultural isolation, and economic hardship.

Perhaps the best reaction to either would be to thank God for the gifts he has given even in the midst of trials, hardships, pandemics, and social discord, and enjoy the fruits of the Fall harvest whether meager or abundant (and shared either way with our families and neighbors) in peace and .... Thanksgiving.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Julio on November 26, 2020, 03:15:10 PM
One positive thing about Pandemic Thanksgiving. Since we'll be alone, we mutually agreed last night that there was really no good reason not to break into the pumpkin pie a day early.   ;D
So, make up a bad reason. A pie, still a bit warm from the oven, is better than a day-old pie from the refrigerator.
Like everything else opinions differ .. I’ve always enjoyed refrigerated cakes, pies, and other pastries .. last checked .. neither commanded or forbidden by God.

As far as waiting until the appropriate day/time to dig in to the desserts, common courtesy would be to respect the desires of the host/hostess .. or spouse responsible for preparing the meal.👀
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on November 26, 2020, 03:18:32 PM
I simply want us to remember that those Puritans came here to find religious freedom for themselves, not necessarily to grant it to anyone else. That’s how we got Rhode Island, when Roger Williams Got thrown out of the Massachusetts Bay colony because he sought religious freedom, to dissent from the beliefs of the established church.
I do not believe that our expansion in this land was “an insidious white colonization scheme designed to bring disease to the inhabitants and steal their country.” But that’s sort of what happened. And later, under President Andrew Jackson, it was intended.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on November 26, 2020, 03:23:39 PM
I simply want us to remember that those Puritans came here to find religious freedom for themselves, not necessarily to grant it to anyone else. That’s how we got Rhode Island, when Roger Williams Got thrown out of the Massachusetts Bay colony because he sought religious freedom, to dissent from the beliefs of the established church.
Indeed.

Which made William Penn's "holy experiment" in the middle colonies so unique, the keystone between Puritan/Congregationalist establishmentarianism in New England and Anglican establishmentarianism in Virginia and points south.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Randy Bosch on November 26, 2020, 05:14:44 PM
I simply want us to remember that those Puritans came here to find religious freedom for themselves, not necessarily to grant it to anyone else. That’s how we got Rhode Island, when Roger Williams Got thrown out of the Massachusetts Bay colony because he sought religious freedom, to dissent from the beliefs of the established church.
I do not believe that our expansion in this land was “an insidious white colonization scheme designed to bring disease to the inhabitants and steal their country.” But that’s sort of what happened. And later, under President Andrew Jackson, it was intended.

Thank you for the clarification.  Hope you are having a Blessed Thanksgiving.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Richard Johnson on November 26, 2020, 07:23:21 PM
I've always thought it terribly ironic that the descendants of those Pilgrims morphed into some of the groups that strayed farthest from orthodox Christianity--the Unitarians, of course, and what is today the UCC (which, we used to joke, means "Unitarians Considering Christ").
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on November 26, 2020, 07:36:06 PM
I've always thought it terribly ironic that the descendants of those Pilgrims morphed into some of the groups that strayed farthest from orthodox Christianity--the Unitarians, of course, and what is today the UCC (which, we used to joke, means "Unitarians Considering Christ").

And so tragic that the Germanic Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with them.  The voices of Nevin and Schaff have all but been silenced.   Thankfully Schaff's translation of the Ante and Post Nicean Fathers remain the gold standard for English Patristic study.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on November 26, 2020, 10:31:22 PM
More reflections on Thanksgiving in Quarantine:
The fine food service in our facility delivered the meal in three segments: appetizer (salad, cheese, cold cuts, shrimp cocktail), then main course (turkey, et al.) and finally desserts (several kinds of pies, ice cream, a chocolate torte.
The kids delivering were professional and polite and masked. The meals were on "real" plates, which they brought in and set on our table.
Not quite the colorful spread of earlier Thanksgivings and, of course, we were alone. But there it was.
Late in the afternoon we drove by the home of our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. Parked outside, they came out in yard for a picture and with packages of leftovers from their table. We kept apart, of course, no hugs, no close conversations. At the time it was fine; in retrospect it was a little sad.
We look ahead now, to see how to make Christmas a Christmas, that is, an observance that is true to all aspects of the festival. Isolation restrictions may ease by then.
But all is uncertain.
And so to bed.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James S. Rustad on November 27, 2020, 11:51:47 AM
Yesterday my beautiful wife, handsome son, and I celebrated Thanksgiving by spending most of the day preparing Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.  I was awake first but waited quietly for my wife to arise.  She began by baking a few batches of cookies.  I started by stuffing celery.  When our son was up, he helped his mother with the cookies.  After that first batch of work we all took a break.

Later on our son and I went outside to prepare the turkey as it's easier to hose off the patio than it is to clean the kitchen.  Why is it that turkeys today come with at least a quart of water in the package?  I don't remember that from helping my mother.  Anyway, after getting rid of the extra water we spatchcocked the turkey, removing it's backbone and flattening it for grilling (we saved all the loose parts to use for gravy later).  We started up the grill, seasoned the bird, and flew it onto the grill.  While I tended to the bird our son returned inside to help his mom.  He made the dressing and helped with a few other things that needed doing.

When the turkey was ready, I carved it with our son's help (I don't walk much these days).  It had nice brown skin and juicy meat.  I've spatchcocked a turkey and grilled it twice now and it is now my standard turkey recipe.  The turkey cooks much more evenly and is done in less than three hours for a twenty-pound bird.

Our son said grace and we dug in.  All-in-all, a pretty normal Thanksgiving given that we did not want to travel.  We've celebrated Thanksgiving this way other years when not wanting to travel for various reasons.  Other years we have driven north to meet my family for dinner at the bar run by my godmother (it's a gathering place near where my family hunts).  A few times we have travelled to be with my wife's family in Minnesota.  Corona may be keeping us isolated, but we're dealing with it OK so far.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on November 27, 2020, 12:04:00 PM
It was different, of course, not being with most of my children this Thanksgiving. I spent much of the day hunting (no luck; saw only three does all day).  The upside was that my wife and youngest daughter spent much of the day working together on the evening meal.  It's been some years since we did that at our house, and although much more food was produced that we could hope to consume, the time my wife and daughter spent in the kitchen together was a priceless gift of the holiday.  We watched a newer Christmas classic on TV, and enjoyed our time simply.  That may be the upshot of this 'new normal' this year.  Simpler.  That's not all bad.  In fact, it's good. We complicate our lives with too much this time of year.  Maybe the pandemic has given us a chance to reset our lives and go back to basics and enjoy time together as we once did. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James S. Rustad on November 27, 2020, 12:32:26 PM
I agree.  Simple is good.

I spent much of the day hunting (no luck; saw only three does all day).

Where my family hunts that would have been considered a successful hunt, with up to three deer harvested.  My family hunts in an area that is nearly always considered to be overpopulated with each hunter issued a doe tag and encouraged to purchase additional doe tags.  We are blessed indeed with meat for the freezer.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Julio on November 27, 2020, 12:32:47 PM
This year we remembered the Thanksgiving, thirty something years ago, months after our fifty something year old sainted mother was received to glory.

We attended a Thanksgiving Eve service the evening before, Thanksgiving Day service (yes, in the day when they were indeed two separate and distinct services), followed by a family Thanksgiving meal, and a 400 mile round trip to friends for yet another Thanksgiving meal and we were gifted a small black and white fur ball puppy 🐶
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Julio on November 27, 2020, 07:47:33 PM

We started up the grill, seasoned the bird, and flew it onto the grill.
<snip>
 The turkey cooks much more evenly and is done in less than three hours for a twenty-pound bird.
Interested ... our 22 lb turkey roasted 6 hrs @ 325 in the oven ... curious what type of grill you used that roasted 20 lb bird in 3 hrs.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 27, 2020, 07:53:17 PM
In years past I'd do our turkey for about 18 hours in the smoker. I'd do it a couple of weeks ahead of time (need half way good weather for smoking on the back deck) completely debone it and into the freezer. At the proper time we'd then take it to church for our Thanksgiving pot luck. Not this year though. We haven't eaten together as a congregation since March.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James S. Rustad on November 27, 2020, 08:34:48 PM

We started up the grill, seasoned the bird, and flew it onto the grill.
<snip>
 The turkey cooks much more evenly and is done in less than three hours for a twenty-pound bird.
Interested ... our 22 lb turkey roasted 6 hrs @ 325 in the oven ... curious what type of grill you used that roasted 20 lb bird in 3 hrs.

The grill is nothing special, just a standard propane grill.  The key is that by spatchcocking the turkey you are converting the turkey from a large lump of meat to a thinner, more even layer with roughly twice the surface area exposed to the heat.  This allows it to cook more quickly and evenly.

One recipe for spatchcocked turkey says:
Quote from: https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/spatchcock-turkey/
Spatchcock turkey cooks quickly. An 11 pound bird takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes to cook through. Larger birds may take a little longer and smaller birds may take less time. Remove the turkey from the oven when the meat from the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees F.

That recipe includes some pictures of how to do it.  It shows using a shears to remove the backbone, but I've found that doesn't work on larger turkeys.  I needed to use a stout knife and a rubber mallet (yeah, it's abusing the knife, but I don't have a cleaver - go slow and use just enough force to cut one bone at a time and it should be fine).

Once the turkey is done, the leg quarters are easily removed and can then be carved further.  The breasts come off pretty easily as well by just following the bones with a knife.  You can then slice each breast crosswise to finish the job.

Because this cooks so much more quickly I expect we will have turkey more often.  It's not much more work than any other meal.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peterm on November 30, 2020, 10:52:53 AM
Thanksgiving alone: Breaking the myths. The Year of the Pandemic

In this pandemic year, Beloved Spouse and I will eat Thanksgiving dinner alone, the meal brought to our door in three courses. Over on another thread, Peter says Thanksgiving is “aspirational.” I would say the favored “pictures” of the holiday are mythological.
   Childhood Thanksgiving was filled with mythology. The Puritans’ “noble” quest for religious freedom. The cozy Pilgrim-Indian friendship. Norman Rockwell paintings, which we had in abundance. The family of several generations happily gathered. Even the wonderful deliciousness of the food. All myths. But we inserted our families into the myths and acted them out.
   Post-war years in Iowa, the Thanksgiving family was my parents, me, my maternal grandmother and a divorced aunt with three children. Sometimes that meant a “children’s table”. That grandmother died when I was 9; the aunt remarried and moved far away. In another part of Sioux City, a different covey of Austins gathered with paternal grandparents. Since we had moved across town, my parents and I were not really part of that sometimes tumultuous “family,” except on Christmas Eve when we made the 40-minute streetcar ride to the grandmother’s house. I don’t think I ever heard Grandpa Austin speak a word. He sat in his chair, smoking a pipe, generally ignoring everyone. He died when I was about 13.
   That year, I gained a “brother,” as we took in a 7-year old cousin, whose mother had died and whose father was unable to care for him.
   Most houses in my neighborhood had only one child. A few went “over the river and through the woods” to be with older relatives, but most stayed home. We kids would sometimes get together after Thanksgiving dinner, taking our sleds to a nearby hill if there was snow.
   Television arrived, with Thanksgiving specials, if we could get a picture that did not look like ghosts dancing in a snowstorm. When reception improved, it was the Macy’s Parade and – for some – football. We were adding to the myths of thanksgiving.
   I remember one, maybe two, larger Thanksgivings at our house with distant relatives visiting Sioux City. One of my mother’s sisters, a heavy drinker on her second marriage (there would be three). Two families from my father’s side who lived in Mason City (considered far away in pre-Interstate days). My piano teacher next-door neighbor, living alone in the house where her parents had died that year.
   In college years I had to connect with the family of the woman who would become Beloved Spouse. Not easy. No realized Norman Rockwell paintings there. And I was the interloper plotting to steal away the treasured First Grandchild.
   Thanksgivings the first 10 married years were “just us,” maybe another couple (we couldn’t afford to feed a crowd.) No continuity, no stability. Seminary. Internship in Kingston, NY. Back to Chicago. First parish. Big move from Iowa to New York.
   In New York, we assimilated the myths of longer-term friends, including a married couple, both Methodist clergy, the husband a journalist like me. Those Thanksgivings meant outstanding southern cooking (they were from Georgia and Tennessee), guests who were journalists, authors, and Methodist church executives. We were the only family with children. These were great times. But the husband finally came to terms with being gay; after an amicable divorce, the wife became a bishop’s assistant in Tennessee.
   The myths were set aside in Europe. It wasn’t a holiday. Americans would get together on the fourth Saturday in November for the Turkey fest, arranging for the consulate in Geneva to supply us with cranberry sauce.
   In the 1980s in New Jersey, Beloved Spouse and I became the host family. The number of chairs around the table varied, usually including the lesbian couple next door, our children (until Glenda went to Minneapolis for college), sometimes a girlfriend attached to our son, the divorced Methodist journalist, a older married couple with grown children, and one or two single schoolteachers. These, too, were very good years, and I truly miss the heavy work required to put it all together. (I know at least four ways to peel chestnuts; and all are difficult.)
   One of these years, I had to be in the newsroom by 1 pm and work until 11, so the dinner went on without me (as did the dinner in the homes of the 100 or so other people putting out the newspaper.) I spent a good part of that day cold and wet at the scene of a fire, and the rest of it calling cops to see if any of the domestic disputes had resulted in an arrest or fatality.
   Most of our friends “celebrated” similar Thanksgivings as changing, varied-myth festivals. Generally, the food remained, but little else. Furthermore, things in “the world,” civil unrest, political turmoil, church controversies, job insecurity, potentially fatal sicknesses and children of friends going through tough times were almost always present and intrusive to what was supposed to be a warm, cozy holiday.
    Then came Minneapolis two years ago. 
    Daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren always spent Thanksgiving three hours from Minneapolis with his family, so – reducing and changing the myths – we joined the table of a brother-in-law who had remarried some years after the sister of Beloved Spouse died. 
   And now The Year of the Pandemic. We will watch what's left of the Macy's Parade on television. The kids are nearby, as the family-gathering myth of our son-in-law has collapsed. But we can’t be with them. We will do a late-afternoon drive-by to pick up some of their leftovers.
    The myths of Thanksgiving. What a set of memories, experiences, changing locations, different faces around the table!
   And each year, we find things for which to be thankful. I suppose we’ll do that this Year of the Pandemic.
   -0-

I began my first Call in October of 1994, in Upstate NY (Elmira)  That first Thanksgiving was interesting for me because I was by myself with no family close by.  In my growing up years everyone used to gather at our farm for Thanksgiving where we were a riotous bunch and we would spend the weekend with cousins playing games, cutting and stacking wood and singing songs.  The older couple that were my neighbors in Elmira hosted what they called a "Strays" thanksgiving.  They collected all of us that they knew were alone, gave us each an assigned dish to bring, and we had a great time.  As a new pastor in a new community far from home I appreciated that gathering and those folks.  We continued that tradition for many years.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on December 10, 2020, 05:52:29 AM
A comment on the holiday in a pandemic year:
https://www.startribune.com/in-winter-2020-we-need-a-little-christmas/573296621/

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on December 10, 2020, 08:20:11 AM
Well done!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on December 10, 2020, 08:43:21 AM
This is great, Charles - thanks for your continued vocation as writer/author, especially this Christmas!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on December 10, 2020, 08:56:43 AM
A comment on the holiday in a pandemic year:
https://www.startribune.com/in-winter-2020-we-need-a-little-christmas/573296621/

Great writing!   ;D
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 10, 2020, 09:19:08 AM
Have yourself a merry little Christmas! We don't plan to do things very much differently at our house. I have four Christmas Eve services and a houseful waiting to unwrap gifts. But there will be some inevitable differences from other years. The services won't be the same--masks, no passing candles, etc. and we aren't sure yet about grandparents being there. But whatever size it is, there is no getting around the need for it.

 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 10, 2020, 09:19:23 AM
Very well written, thank you.  Star-Tribune audience bullseye. Nice that you were able to sneak in a "little Christmas" paragraph that alludes to the actual meaning of Christmas.  The Editors didn't catch it -- unless they're the ones who took Christ out of Christmas...
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on December 10, 2020, 10:46:42 AM
Randy Bosch writes:
Nice that you were able to sneak in a "little Christmas" paragraph that alludes to the actual meaning of Christmas.  The Editors didn't catch it -- unless they're the ones who took Christ out of Christmas...

I comment:
I suspect you speak in hyperbole, Randy Bosch, so I am not miffed by the comment. However, in discourse such as this I am pleased to note the following:
Since 1963 (my first job in secular journalism), I have dealt with dozens and dozens, probably hundreds of editors. I've known editors for: Suburban weeklies, the Associated Press, United Press International, The Record (Hackensack, NJ), The New York Times, Hearst News Service, BBC, Deutsche Presse Agentur, Agence France Presse, and - occasionally - editors in maybe 25 or more daily newspapers around the country. Also a few magazines like the old Time and Newsweek and the late New York Magazine.
It has been my experience that editors are - for the most part - personally as "religious" as people in the states, countries, regions, territories, etc., they serve. In the U.S., this means that most are Christian, the majority of them more or less "active" Christians, some quite active, some less so, some among the "nones" concerning religious preference.
But smart, successful editors know the religious aspects of their readers' lives. Newspapers have little to gain by jabbing away at religion (which still means they must be diligent in reporting on such things as financial shenanigans or sexual abuse in churches.)
I have seen no editor attempting to "take Christ out of Christmas." In the several "Christmas" or "Easter" Op-Ed columns I have written over the years, there has been no need to "sneak in" what we think is important about the festival.
Now a word (my, this is going on too long, isn't it?) about writing "religion" for secular publications. Editors and readers generally respond badly to things that sound like a sermon, have an "evangelistic" tone or appear to be "doctrinally" driven. Sometimes even Christmas columns in New York city papers by the Cardinal Archbishop of New York are more "generic" than homiletical about the holiday.
I do not write Op-Ed articles that are "sermons," although some have said where I stand personally on religious matters. Depending on the audience, I consider what will be appropriate if I want to reach readers with some good ideas.
In some parts of our land, it may be possible to write "sermonic" Op-Ed pieces. But I would rather try to "touch" the partly-religious or non-religious reader with a little "real" Christmas than write a semi-sermon that would turn them off even if they chose to read it.
Editors have no "campaign" to "take Christ out of Christmas." That is a base canard foisted upon the public by ideologues like Pat Buchanan (promoting "culture wars") and the far-right side of the evangelical spectrum.
(Whew! Is he done yet?)
Yes, I am.
 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Norman Teigen on December 10, 2020, 10:57:37 AM
Nicely done, Pastor Austin.  We missed it but got it on the rebound.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on December 10, 2020, 11:30:08 AM
I do not write Op-Ed articles that are "sermons," although some have said where I stand personally on religious matters. Depending on the audience, I consider what will be appropriate if I want to reach readers with some good ideas.
In some parts of our land, it may be possible to write "sermonic" Op-Ed pieces. But I would rather try to "touch" the partly-religious or non-religious reader with a little "real" Christmas than write a semi-sermon that would turn them off even if they chose to read it.

I have lived in my current community now for 20 years.  During that time the editor of our small daily would include a 'religious' article, but usually one picked from the AP, one that wasn't always geared for the local audience, and had a sense of randomness to it.  After his death about a year ago and the sale of the paper (just prior to his death), the new editor began to invite local clergy to write a weekly article for the Friday edition.  I was surprised, considering that the new owners were from outside the community.  Some of these article take on a more "sermonic" style, as you call it, and I'm inclined as you are to avoid that approach.  I try to remember that my 'audience' may include parishoners, but also potentially includes many others who are not part of my little circle.  As a chaplain whose outreach ministry extends well beyond my church I know that some of these first responders who know me a bit more may also be reading.  Writing for a secular paper is different than writing for a religious periodical.  You don't have to avoid mention of Jesus, but you also don't have to come off with a full blown sermonic treatise either.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on December 10, 2020, 12:22:02 PM
I do not write Op-Ed articles that are "sermons," although some have said where I stand personally on religious matters. Depending on the audience, I consider what will be appropriate if I want to reach readers with some good ideas.
In some parts of our land, it may be possible to write "sermonic" Op-Ed pieces. But I would rather try to "touch" the partly-religious or non-religious reader with a little "real" Christmas than write a semi-sermon that would turn them off even if they chose to read it.

I have lived in my current community now for 20 years.  During that time the editor of our small daily would include a 'religious' article, but usually one picked from the AP, one that wasn't always geared for the local audience, and had a sense of randomness to it.  After his death about a year ago and the sale of the paper (just prior to his death), the new editor began to invite local clergy to write a weekly article for the Friday edition.  I was surprised, considering that the new owners were from outside the community.  Some of these article take on a more "sermonic" style, as you call it, and I'm inclined as you are to avoid that approach.  I try to remember that my 'audience' may include parishoners, but also potentially includes many others who are not part of my little circle.  As a chaplain whose outreach ministry extends well beyond my church I know that some of these first responders who know me a bit more may also be reading.  Writing for a secular paper is different than writing for a religious periodical.  You don't have to avoid mention of Jesus, but you also don't have to come off with a full blown sermonic treatise either.

Here in a very diversely populated borough on the basis of religion, I tuned into the Brooklyn Borough President's virtual holiday gathering for religious leaders last week.  The opening hour was filled with prayers/greetings by the various faith communities, with the exception of the opening, which was brought by the event sponsor.  Incredibly enough, the event sponsor was Thrivent (!).  So there may have been ten different greetings/prayers. Most of the participants prayed to God in the way of their faith - the Imam brought a chanted reading from the Koran followed by a prayer, another Muslim woman brought greetings with prayer, different Jewish rabbis from different Jewish traditions brought prayers and readings from Hebrew Scripture, and on through the list.  Only a few - on the mainstream Protestant edge - gave a sort of vague deity prayer - Universalist/Unitarians.

Anyway, I don't think in very multi-religious intersections there's much or any of a prohibition to specific and exclusively parsed prayers or messages.  The opposition to vagueness in those cases is not as much from the Protestants or fundamentalist Christians as it is from people of other faiths who indicate their religious right to express themselves in their language of faith. 

The question in a smaller setting is whether the imam or pandit or even rabbi would be given her or his shot at participating.  Or first, I guess, whether there is one of those religious figures or faith communities in that setting.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 10, 2020, 12:24:11 PM
Randy Bosch writes:
Nice that you were able to sneak in a "little Christmas" paragraph that alludes to the actual meaning of Christmas.  The Editors didn't catch it -- unless they're the ones who took Christ out of Christmas...

I comment:
I suspect you speak in hyperbole, Randy Bosch, so I am not miffed by the comment. However, in discourse such as this I am pleased to note the following:
Since 1963 (my first job in secular journalism), I have dealt with dozens and dozens, probably hundreds of editors. I've known editors for: Suburban weeklies, the Associated Press, United Press International, The Record (Hackensack, NJ), The New York Times, Hearst News Service, BBC, Deutsche Presse Agentur, Agence France Presse, and - occasionally - editors in maybe 25 or more daily newspapers around the country. Also a few magazines like the old Time and Newsweek and the late New York Magazine.
It has been my experience that editors are - for the most part - personally as "religious" as people in the states, countries, regions, territories, etc., they serve. In the U.S., this means that most are Christian, the majority of them more or less "active" Christians, some quite active, some less so, some among the "nones" concerning religious preference.
But smart, successful editors know the religious aspects of their readers' lives. Newspapers have little to gain by jabbing away at religion (which still means they must be diligent in reporting on such things as financial shenanigans or sexual abuse in churches.)
I have seen no editor attempting to "take Christ out of Christmas." In the several "Christmas" or "Easter" Op-Ed columns I have written over the years, there has been no need to "sneak in" what we think is important about the festival.
Now a word (my, this is going on too long, isn't it?) about writing "religion" for secular publications. Editors and readers generally respond badly to things that sound like a sermon, have an "evangelistic" tone or appear to be "doctrinally" driven. Sometimes even Christmas columns in New York city papers by the Cardinal Archbishop of New York are more "generic" than homiletical about the holiday.
I do not write Op-Ed articles that are "sermons," although some have said where I stand personally on religious matters. Depending on the audience, I consider what will be appropriate if I want to reach readers with some good ideas.
In some parts of our land, it may be possible to write "sermonic" Op-Ed pieces. But I would rather try to "touch" the partly-religious or non-religious reader with a little "real" Christmas than write a semi-sermon that would turn them off even if they chose to read it.
Editors have no "campaign" to "take Christ out of Christmas." That is a base canard foisted upon the public by ideologues like Pat Buchanan (promoting "culture wars") and the far-right side of the evangelical spectrum.
(Whew! Is he done yet?)
Yes, I am.

Thanks for your gracious response.  I was the editor (and legally also the publisher) of a professional society newsletter for a few years in the last millenium, and understand the dillema.

I was asked to contribute to an anthology several years ago.  The editor/publisher (small press) took exception to one word in my contribution, but asked permission to delete it, a "the" that made auditable the total number of artifacts  that were salient to the storyline.  I agreed, it was a good call. Brutal!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 10, 2020, 12:42:45 PM
Nicely done, Pastor Austin.  We missed it but got it on the rebound.

Thank you for your care and concern, Norman Teigen. Personally, I’m perfectly happy noting out loud (or in writing) that I could use a little rescuing now and then.
Cheers.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Weedon on December 10, 2020, 06:01:11 PM
Indeed, Pr. A., well done! Thank you!!!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 10, 2020, 06:14:58 PM
From Pentatonix: a five member a cappella group.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE_e7_Wb17U
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Pastor Ken Kimball on December 10, 2020, 07:55:30 PM
Thank you Pastor Austin for the piece.  I appreciated the sentiments and substance and added to my meager knowledge of musicals as well.  A Merry Christmas to you and your beloved spouse and family. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on December 16, 2020, 09:15:49 AM
THE COVID FALL, INTO WINTER; GOOD NEWS, SAD NEWS, TOO MUCH NEWS?
HOLIDAY PARTIES (!)? DOES CHRISTMAS COME?
(Warning to readers. I am not always perky and happy in what follows.)
   Our shutdown continues; no activities, no in-person dining. But residents of our community have remained free of the virus. Workers here are tested often and only a few have tested positive.
They are removed from contact with others.
   The “world” outside our residence provides its own troubles. Beloved Spouse and I rejoiced in the election of a new president, giving the incumbent only one term, a term packed with criminal and incompetent associates, lies, an impeachment trial, bungling the Covid pandemic and squandering our leadership role in the world.
   But sad news followed the good. Driven by an ego and fueled by lies, crazy-wild “conspiracy theories,” and lawsuits known to be idiotic even by the lawyers who filed them, the country was subjected to a drawn-out, wrenching round of false claims about the election. Even the final vote of the Electoral College and the failure of nearly 40 lawsuits did not end what became a direct assault (some say an attempted coup) on our Constitution and our democratic processes. Our chief executive urged hard-core followers to disregard law, morality, and common sense in a furious (and some say seditious) attempt to nullify the November vote.
   Meanwhile the administration politicized public health, encouraging millions to resist measure that could have prevented some spread of the virus and save lives.
   Trapped inside, except for some grocery and pharmacy shopping, we watch television and were assaulted with proof of how dangerous the threats to our nation, our health and our lives had become. Sadly, more cynical posturing by the vote-deniers is still to come as increasingly crazed partisans stay on the march.
   Those managing the place we live work hard to provide us with comfort and relief. Exercise classes are on our new in-house television channel, along with some movies and lectures by experts in art, history, travel and literature.
   Our holiday party, last year a fine meal in our dining room and auditorium, at tables of six or eight people, with strolling musicians and other fun was a highlight of the season. That’s not happening this year. But the culinary team did a fine job with a “progressive dinner,” each course brought to our apartments. First, wine and cheese. An hour later, a fruity salad with yogurt/maple dressing; later a surf/turf with beef tenderloin and sea bass, Dutchess potatoes and asparagus. The finish was crème brûlée, torch-scorched right at our door.
   A fine meal, holiday music in the background, but we could not escape the fact that we were eating alone.
   Comes now the march of days until Christmas. Will it be Christmas? No in-person church, and even if we found one, we would worry about exposure. Churches meet without singing, without choirs, without Holy Communion. No Christmas caroling with either of my choral groups (and of course our holiday shows were cancelled months ago).
   We hope for an hour or so with grandchildren on Christmas Eve.
   Will it be Christmas? I honestly do not know. Do not “comfort” me with spiritual and theological bromides. I know that Jesus is born, that Christ comes, that the Lord is with us daily, that nothing separates us from God’s love.
   But will what lies ahead through Dec. 25 and Jan. 6 be “Christmas”? I wonder, and I fear not.
   In this mad jumble of news, craziness, sickness, loneliness and turmoil, we find a few spirit-lifting escapes. Some theaters stream new productions. A friend sang at a concert in New York and we were able to see her perform. Netflix has movies old and new. We read and listen to books with a new Kindle, the Audible program and help from the Minnesota State Council for the Blind.
   Of course, there is Good News. The vaccine is here. It works, at least well enough to be approved and win the support of people who know the science of such things. Beloved Spouse and I are among those probably eligible to receive the shots rather soon.  The company running our retirement facility (and about 180 others around the country) is, we believe, working on ways to get the vaccine to us and our fellow residents without the need to stand in line in a Minnesota winter.
   It goes, as do so many things these days, one day at a time.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on December 16, 2020, 10:12:07 AM
The pandemic has been a struggle, to say the least.  I miss travel and time off, but necessity and the reality of our times keeps me grounded in one place for now. I miss seeing my two eldest children, but know one day we will be able to visit 'normally' once again.  It won't last forever.

But one thing the pandemic is giving to many of us is a 'reset.'  Before the pandemic our lives were filled with meetings and so much 'busyness.'  We ran around barely keeping up with obligations.  And to what end?  We didn't often know, but we kept our heads down and pushed on hoping it all amounted to something important. The holidays were especially stressful for me and my wife.  Children's program and its practices, concerts, parties, etc.  I always wondered why we crammed so much into such a small period of time. Why we worked so hard at a time when we were supposed to slow down and reflect and meditate. To be honest Christmas was often a chore, not a joy.  By the time we relaxed on Christmas afternoon I was exhausted and spent. 

This year it is only me, my wife and my youngest who is studying from home.  We are discovering time together we would never have known had the pandemic never come.  Now that my wife's business is slowing down for the year we can give attention to things we might never have thought of in the 'old days.'  Things as simple as baking Christmas cookies.  So many things like that never found time in our crammed schedules before.  And why?  What was all that work before for?  And will we go back to the old ways when it is all over?  Part of me hopes not.

As to church it is in some ways much less than it was.  Yet the essentials are there.  In my state we are allowed in-person worship and following CDC guidelines we have offered a socially-distanced time in God's house that, to the best of my knowledge, has been safe for those who have attended. The Sacrament is offered as regularly as before.  It is a lifeline for them.  And for me.  Is there risk?  There's always risk.  Life is all about mitigated risk.  In my world, where people keep dying at a higher-than-usual-rate, partly from COVID, partly from everything else, I find myself with the same risk as my local funeral directors.  We are in and out of homes all the time.  Masked, yes, but not so with many inside those homes. As far as I know none of the funeral directors or local clergy have become infected.  It's a balancing act.  I must risk at these times; at other times I pull back and avoid contact as much as possible. So far, almost 10 months in, God has allowed me to proceed without infection. 

So besides the obvious religious benefits of the holiday (which we are all very familiar with), I am celebrating simplicity this year.  I am learning, in small ways, to be grateful for one day's gifts at a time.  Can't borrow much of the future in a pandemic.  But again that is not all bad. We all lived too far into the future before.  Living one day at a time is healthier and more balanced.

This year like many we are rediscovering simple. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on December 16, 2020, 12:24:30 PM
Wonderful post, Don!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peterm on December 16, 2020, 02:25:43 PM
Yes thank you Pastor Engebretson
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 16, 2020, 02:41:28 PM
For those missing out on Christmas programs, here is this morning's "production" at St. Paul's. The first five minutes or so are just the Title page, so it is a little over twenty minutes. Nice pre-holiday cheer for those stuck at home.

https://youtu.be/IpoEV4ltLWg
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on December 16, 2020, 02:46:20 PM
And for a charming, varied, and extremely well produced video of a congregation’s Christmas, go to this website of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, Teaneck New Jersey, a few blocks from where are used to live. The opening is a video of the Rockettes at radio city music hall because the man who has played the organ at radio city music hall for several decades is the organism in the congregation. The program runs about an hour, but it is very good, some interesting comments, good music, and a nice homily from the Rector near the end, along with an animated nativity scene. Unlike anything you’ve usually seen.
Here is the link.
http://www.stmarksteaneck.org/
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 16, 2020, 02:54:14 PM
And for a charming, varied, and extremely well produced video of a congregation’s Christmas, go to this website of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, Teaneck New Jersey, if you blocks from where are used to live. The opening is a video of the Rockettes at radio city music hall because the man who has played the organ at radio city music hall for several decades is the organism in the congregation. The program runs about an hour, but it is very good, some interesting comments, good music, and a nice homily from the Rector near the end, along with an animated nativity scene. Unlike anything you’ve usually seen.
Here is the link.
http://www.stmarksteaneck.org/
Might want to check that voice activation feature.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on December 16, 2020, 04:24:02 PM
Works for me. Maybe your terminal doesn’t speak Episcopalian.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 16, 2020, 04:34:38 PM
Works for me. Maybe your terminal doesn’t speak Episcopalian.
Hhmmm. Episcopalian congregations have designated organisms? I’ll admit to not having known that.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on December 16, 2020, 09:19:35 PM
Watching now on public television las year’s Christmas concert from Luther College, Deborah, Iowa. A terrific show. This week-end: the shows from St. Olaf and Gustavus Adolphus. Also last year’s but....
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Richard Johnson on December 16, 2020, 09:49:08 PM
I think the voice dictation problem was this:  "if you blocks from where are used to live"
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on December 16, 2020, 09:55:58 PM
Right. “a few” became “if you”
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on December 30, 2020, 08:04:42 PM
Jan. 30 of the Plague Year
   And so it ends. Hope is on the horizon.
   The residents of the nursing home attached to our retirement facility have all been vaccinated, as have the “associates” who work on our ranch, doing housekeeping, food prep and serving (but we’re still not eating in the dining room) and in maintenance.
   Exercises classes start “in person” in our auditorium next week, limited to ten people per session. You can book time in the pool or in the fitness center.
   But alas for Christmas! No church services, except online; no family dinners or gatherings, save for a 90-minute exchange of gifts Christmas Day. No choral singing or concerts.
   We have much hope for the vaccines now in the pipeline, though there is always the chance that the pipeline will be screwed up by, well, almost anybody.
   And the nation wheezes, still in the dangerous grip of believers in myths, those captive to conspiracy theories, fanatic loyalists and a leader who plays golf while thousands die, ignores truth and law and the Constitution.
   But this too, will pass, except that we will have to endure more cynical political posturing, all based on those myths and conspiracy theories and enacted to boost the egos (and vote-getting power) of those cynically posturing under false flags.
   Working hard on a pleasant New Year’s eve for tomorrow. We will “eat out” for lunch, which means take-out consumed in the car by a scenic lake. Then in the evening we have ordered appetizers and organized nibble snacks, and appropriate beverages for the two of us.
   We have paid for a streaming evening show from the St. Croix Valley opera, presented by local musicians in Stillwater, Minnesota. We support local artists, and I’m fairly sure I will enjoy the music more than that done by glitzy “stars” on the television networks.
   It will be odd, but necessary to watch ball fall on what we assume will be a mostly empty Times Square.
   And it will be good to hope that next year – Memorial Day? July 4? – we will celebrate with family and friends.
   Happy New Year to all. And to throw a line from Captain Picard towards God: "Make it so."

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 30, 2020, 08:33:29 PM
Jan. 30 of the Plague Year
   And so it ends. Hope is on the horizon.
   The residents of the nursing home attached to our retirement facility have all been vaccinated, as have the “associates” who work on our ranch, doing housekeeping, food prep and serving (but we’re still not eating in the dining room) and in maintenance.
   Exercises classes start “in person” in our auditorium next week, limited to ten people per session. You can book time in the pool or in the fitness center.
   But alas for Christmas! No church services, except online; no family dinners or gatherings, save for a 90-minute exchange of gifts Christmas Day. No choral singing or concerts.
   We have much hope for the vaccines now in the pipeline, though there is always the chance that the pipeline will be screwed up by, well, almost anybody.
   And the nation wheezes, still in the dangerous grip of believers in myths, those captive to conspiracy theories, fanatic loyalists and a leader who plays golf while thousands die, ignores truth and law and the Constitution.
   But this too, will pass, except that we will have to endure more cynical political posturing, all based on those myths and conspiracy theories and enacted to boost the egos (and vote-getting power) of those cynically posturing under false flags.
   Working hard on a pleasant New Year’s eve for tomorrow. We will “eat out” for lunch, which means take-out consumed in the car by a scenic lake. Then in the evening we have ordered appetizers and organized nibble snacks, and appropriate beverages for the two of us.
   We have paid for a streaming evening show from the St. Croix Valley opera, presented by local musicians in Stillwater, Minnesota. We support local artists, and I’m fairly sure I will enjoy the music more than that done by glitzy “stars” on the television networks.
   It will be odd, but necessary to watch ball fall on what we assume will be a mostly empty Times Square.
   And it will be good to hope that next year – Memorial Day? July 4? – we will celebrate with family and friends.
   Happy New Year to all. And to throw a line from Captain Picard towards God: "Make it so."

A New Year's Day suggestion:  Check out your PBS affiliate for the time of the Annual New Years Concert from Vienna.
Always great Viennese Baroque music in a great setting - likely a bit tinged by masks, plexiglas and very few in-person patrons, but always great!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on December 30, 2020, 11:20:46 PM
Thanks, Randy Bosch, that performance is always on our schedule, and we have marveled at the choreography as well as the music, right up to the Radetzsky March finale.
I once heard the orchestra play in that hall, but they didn't play the Radetzsky March at the end. It was during a meeting of Roman Catholic communications and press people. We were properly tuxedo-ed for the concert and afterparty, but the priests had only their black suits and collars. A few "modern nuns," however, came in evening dress. 'Twas an interesting event.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 31, 2020, 09:14:15 AM
Thanks, Randy Bosch, that performance is always on our schedule, and we have marveled at the choreography as well as the music, right up to the Radetzsky March finale.
I once heard the orchestra play in that hall, but they didn't play the Radetzsky March at the end. It was during a meeting of Roman Catholic communications and press people. We were properly tuxedo-ed for the concert and afterparty, but the priests had only their black suits and collars. A few "modern nuns," however, came in evening dress. 'Twas an interesting event.

The Golden Hall of the Musikverein was empty when we visited it, once, on a Whit Monday weekend and couldn't afford a concert even if there was one (formal attire not in our travel gear either).  Fortunately, there were a few other things to do in Vienna...
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on January 01, 2021, 01:13:19 PM
Jan. 30 of the Plague Year
   And so it ends. Hope is on the horizon.
   The residents of the nursing home attached to our retirement facility have all been vaccinated, as have the “associates” who work on our ranch, doing housekeeping, food prep and serving (but we’re still not eating in the dining room) and in maintenance.
   Exercises classes start “in person” in our auditorium next week, limited to ten people per session. You can book time in the pool or in the fitness center.
   But alas for Christmas! No church services, except online; no family dinners or gatherings, save for a 90-minute exchange of gifts Christmas Day. No choral singing or concerts.
   We have much hope for the vaccines now in the pipeline, though there is always the chance that the pipeline will be screwed up by, well, almost anybody.
   And the nation wheezes, still in the dangerous grip of believers in myths, those captive to conspiracy theories, fanatic loyalists and a leader who plays golf while thousands die, ignores truth and law and the Constitution.
   But this too, will pass, except that we will have to endure more cynical political posturing, all based on those myths and conspiracy theories and enacted to boost the egos (and vote-getting power) of those cynically posturing under false flags.
   Working hard on a pleasant New Year’s eve for tomorrow. We will “eat out” for lunch, which means take-out consumed in the car by a scenic lake. Then in the evening we have ordered appetizers and organized nibble snacks, and appropriate beverages for the two of us.
   We have paid for a streaming evening show from the St. Croix Valley opera, presented by local musicians in Stillwater, Minnesota. We support local artists, and I’m fairly sure I will enjoy the music more than that done by glitzy “stars” on the television networks.
   It will be odd, but necessary to watch ball fall on what we assume will be a mostly empty Times Square.
   And it will be good to hope that next year – Memorial Day? July 4? – we will celebrate with family and friends.
   Happy New Year to all. And to throw a line from Captain Picard towards God: "Make it so."

A New Year's Day suggestion:  Check out your PBS affiliate for the time of the Annual New Years Concert from Vienna.
Always great Viennese Baroque music in a great setting - likely a bit tinged by masks, plexiglas and very few in-person patrons, but always great!

I picked up the ending of this on the radio today, including the Blue Danube and the Radetsky - super, and the statement of the mission and purpose of music and the fine arts at the end by (I think) Ricardo Mutti was directly on point for a world in turmoil.

Dave Benke

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on January 01, 2021, 01:52:30 PM
I go back to my night in that wonderful city and ponder the incongruity of a kid from a very anti-Catholic part of Iowa, and an ordained Lutheran, now in a tuxedo, dancing with a woman in a ball gown who was a nun from New York City, one of the very few Americans present. (I don't think I can dance and speak German at the same time.)
"Where did you learn to waltz?" I asked.
"In the convent," she answered, and explained the initial pause as we took the floor. "I usually dance as the man," she smiled. "Wasn't sure which hand to raise."
Priests were on the dance floor, too, moving rather adeptly and chatting with the women. Those Europeans! 
Beloved Spouse and I have a friend who still lives in Vienna, and we were planning a trip there, but... well, you know. Maybe next year.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on January 13, 2021, 06:36:32 PM
There was a feeling of relief, apprehension, satisfaction and some fear as my Trillium Woods neighbors and I gathered (sort of) to receive our Corona vaccines.
   We were glad to receive the vaccine, sorry that we needed to receive it. We were eager to get what it offers and a bit apprehensive about unknown offerings. We knew that we needed to receive it; but wondered if a quicker, more expansive, more cooperative response to the virus might have lessened the need – and the number of deaths – that brought us to our facility’s dining room and auditorium for the shot.
   Each of us had been given a time to appear and paperwork to complete. We had been carefully spaced so we would not be clumping together and we had been ordered to wear our masks. The Health Care Navigator from our facility checked us in, then Hennepin county staff took over. They gave us a card with the date of our second vaccination and information about the first shot.
   In our dining room restaurant, they checked the paper work – questions about allergies, other diseases, reactions to other vaccines, etc., along with insurance information – then we took the signed papers down the hall to our auditorium, the location of three nurse stations.
   The Executive Director of our facility was the “usher” at the door, letting us in when a station became available.
   The shot was quick, easy, painless, after another question about being allergic to anything. (We had been told that Epi-pens and other relief measures would be on hand if needed.) Then the poke. The nurse urged us to “use” the vaccination arm all day, to keep it moving to deter possible pain. An aide directed us to chairs, properly distanced, where we were to sit for 15 minutes. We were given papers explaining the V-Safe App, which we could get on our phones to have our progress traced and possible side effects recorded.
   The movie “Julia and Julia” was showing on the big screen on the stage. As the Amy Adams “Julia” finished her birthday party, we were told we could go. We each got a little sack with a cookie from the Trillium Woods kitchen (which produces excellent cookies).
   It’s about seven hours since the poke in the arm. Neither Beloved Spouse nor this humble correspondent have felt any discomfort. On this day next month, we get the second shot. Our niece who is a nurse says that's the one that might give some discomfort.
    And so it goes.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on January 13, 2021, 06:44:09 PM
The nurse urged us to “use” the vaccination arm all day, to keep it moving to deter possible pain. ..
   It’s about seven hours since the poke in the arm. Neither Beloved Spouse nor this humble correspondent have felt any discomfort.

Whenever I receive the seasonal flu vaccination I make sure that I engage in my weight training routine or some intense physical work later that same day.   Always has good results.

I intend to do the same on Friday when I receive my first dose...
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on January 22, 2021, 08:18:35 PM
Loss is an overarching theme.  Loss of time, of freedom to move, of worship in person, of lives. 

I will be conducting five funerals in the next week, of parishioners, friends, colleagues.  And due to a positive COVID-19 case in our school, our church and school have been closed for over two weeks, so we're using every other medium we can to keep folks informed and prayed for.  My overall feeling is that I've seen a lot of people get older quicker in the last year, isolated and numb, even while we reach one another with love in Christ in these less comfortable new ways.

So last week I called out to Milwaukee, my birthplace and spiritual home, and discovered what I had heard was true - our family, and extended family's, congregation is going to close.  What about my confirmation record?  My report cards?  Our wedding record?  My ordination?  If that's how your name is written in the book of life, where are they taking the book?

In thinking about my childhood days, today then brought another blow.  Of all the Milwaukee Braves fans in the 50s and early 60s, I was near the top of the heap.  And of all the Braves fans who knew in their heart that the best baseball player who ever played was Hank Aaron, I am in the inner sanctum of that club.  I can list four or five key ingredients in my vocational desire to serve in multi-cultural and inner urban ministry.  One of them is Hank Aaron, who could just stone play.  Who carried himself with quiet dignity.  Who let his bat do the talking.  The first time I heard a Black person speak was at age 7 at a father-son sports banquet at Christ Memorial in the fall of 1953.  Billy Bruton gave the keynote, a speech about faith and life to an all-white audience in which he put Jesus right up there with him at the podium.  It was amazing to me as a little guy - Billy Bruton was a Christian.  (You may know that Lutheran Day at County Stadium was sold out then, and it was called "Andy Pafko" day because Andy was a Slovak Lutheran) The next spring Hank Aaron arrived on the scene, and lived no more than a couple of blocks from our north side home.  All the other kids I hung out with were crazy for Eddie Mathews.  So when the little gangs of us - remember we were 8-10 years old - took the bus and train and got in for 35 cent bleacher tix for a Sunday double-header without parental accompaniment - they would head off to right field and I would spend the afternoon in left waiting for Aaron to hit one out.  All of his early homers were about ten feet off the ground max - bullet line drives.  I tried to model my game that way - let the bat do the talking, line drives to all fields, all of it, not as a slugger, but as an all-around player. 

Behind me in my home office is my best autographed ball -
Best wishes
To Pastor David
Hank Aaron

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 22, 2021, 08:43:22 PM
Loss is an overarching theme.  Loss of time, of freedom to move, of worship in person, of lives. 

I will be conducting five funerals in the next week, of parishioners, friends, colleagues.  And due to a positive COVID-19 case in our school, our church and school have been closed for over two weeks, so we're using every other medium we can to keep folks informed and prayed for.  My overall feeling is that I've seen a lot of people get older quicker in the last year, isolated and numb, even while we reach one another with love in Christ in these less comfortable new ways.

So last week I called out to Milwaukee, my birthplace and spiritual home, and discovered what I had heard was true - our family, and extended family's, congregation is going to close.  What about my confirmation record?  My report cards?  Our wedding record?  My ordination?  If that's how your name is written in the book of life, where are they taking the book?

In thinking about my childhood days, today then brought another blow.  Of all the Milwaukee Braves fans in the 50s and early 60s, I was near the top of the heap.  And of all the Braves fans who knew in their heart that the best baseball player who ever played was Hank Aaron, I am in the inner sanctum of that club.  I can list four or five key ingredients in my vocational desire to serve in multi-cultural and inner urban ministry.  One of them is Hank Aaron, who could just stone play.  Who carried himself with quiet dignity.  Who let his bat do the talking.  The first time I heard a Black person speak was at age 7 at a father-son sports banquet at Christ Memorial in the fall of 1953.  Billy Bruton gave the keynote, a speech about faith and life to an all-white audience in which he put Jesus right up there with him at the podium.  It was amazing to me as a little guy - Billy Bruton was a Christian.  (You may know that Lutheran Day at County Stadium was sold out then, and it was called "Andy Pafko" day because Andy was a Slovak Lutheran) The next spring Hank Aaron arrived on the scene, and lived no more than a couple of blocks from our north side home.  All the other kids I hung out with were crazy for Eddie Mathews.  So when the little gangs of us - remember we were 8-10 years old - took the bus and train and got in for 35 cent bleacher tix for a Sunday double-header without parental accompaniment - they would head off to right field and I would spend the afternoon in left waiting for Aaron to hit one out.  All of his early homers were about ten feet off the ground max - bullet line drives.  I tried to model my game that way - let the bat do the talking, line drives to all fields, all of it, not as a slugger, but as an all-around player. 

Behind me in my home office is my best autographed ball -
Best wishes
To Pastor David
Hank Aaron

Dave Benke
Poignant. You can't go home again. You can only look forward to arriving there for the first time.

We just started a four week zoom study of John Nunes's new book Meant for More. He graciously volunteered to lead the study from New York. His is a very upbeat view of the future, with a focus away from loss and toward pursuit of "more" not in a crass sense but in an Augustinian directing of the soul toward its proper ends. It is refreshing but challenging. The genuine emotion, passion, and energy of sensing loss can be a positive, but it does not go there by itself.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on January 22, 2021, 09:00:30 PM
Loss is an overarching theme.  Loss of time, of freedom to move, of worship in person, of lives. 

I will be conducting five funerals in the next week, of parishioners, friends, colleagues.  And due to a positive COVID-19 case in our school, our church and school have been closed for over two weeks, so we're using every other medium we can to keep folks informed and prayed for.  My overall feeling is that I've seen a lot of people get older quicker in the last year, isolated and numb, even while we reach one another with love in Christ in these less comfortable new ways.

So last week I called out to Milwaukee, my birthplace and spiritual home, and discovered what I had heard was true - our family, and extended family's, congregation is going to close.  What about my confirmation record?  My report cards?  Our wedding record?  My ordination?  If that's how your name is written in the book of life, where are they taking the book?

In thinking about my childhood days, today then brought another blow.  Of all the Milwaukee Braves fans in the 50s and early 60s, I was near the top of the heap.  And of all the Braves fans who knew in their heart that the best baseball player who ever played was Hank Aaron, I am in the inner sanctum of that club.  I can list four or five key ingredients in my vocational desire to serve in multi-cultural and inner urban ministry.  One of them is Hank Aaron, who could just stone play.  Who carried himself with quiet dignity.  Who let his bat do the talking.  The first time I heard a Black person speak was at age 7 at a father-son sports banquet at Christ Memorial in the fall of 1953.  Billy Bruton gave the keynote, a speech about faith and life to an all-white audience in which he put Jesus right up there with him at the podium.  It was amazing to me as a little guy - Billy Bruton was a Christian.  (You may know that Lutheran Day at County Stadium was sold out then, and it was called "Andy Pafko" day because Andy was a Slovak Lutheran) The next spring Hank Aaron arrived on the scene, and lived no more than a couple of blocks from our north side home.  All the other kids I hung out with were crazy for Eddie Mathews.  So when the little gangs of us - remember we were 8-10 years old - took the bus and train and got in for 35 cent bleacher tix for a Sunday double-header without parental accompaniment - they would head off to right field and I would spend the afternoon in left waiting for Aaron to hit one out.  All of his early homers were about ten feet off the ground max - bullet line drives.  I tried to model my game that way - let the bat do the talking, line drives to all fields, all of it, not as a slugger, but as an all-around player. 

Behind me in my home office is my best autographed ball -
Best wishes
To Pastor David
Hank Aaron

Dave Benke
Poignant. You can't go home again. You can only look forward to arriving there for the first time.

We just started a four week zoom study of John Nunes's new book Meant for More. He graciously volunteered to lead the study from New York. His is a very upbeat view of the future, with a focus away from loss and toward pursuit of "more" not in a crass sense but in an Augustinian directing of the soul toward its proper ends. It is refreshing but challenging. The genuine emotion, passion, and energy of sensing loss can be a positive, but it does not go there by itself.

Agreed.  In all these decades of dealing with folks going through the grief process, the one learning is that you can't wedge it in a box and tell it to go away.  After September 11 a couple of our pastors said they were done with any grief and remembrance around Thanksgiving, 2001.  Moving on.  I wondered aloud whether they had asked their congregants about that timeline.  Of course, the answer was no. 

My message last Wednesday evening after the inauguration was on the power of the cross, God's wisdom and actual, real, permanent power.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on January 22, 2021, 09:12:52 PM
Agreed.  In all these decades of dealing with folks going through the grief process, the one learning is that you can't wedge it in a box and tell it to go away.  After September 11 a couple of our pastors said they were done with any grief and remembrance around Thanksgiving, 2001.  Moving on.  I wondered aloud whether they had asked their congregants about that timeline.  Of course, the answer was no. 

Dave Benke

Our departed sister in Christ Eileen Smith did wonderful service to us all in keeping the 9-11-01 stories before us and drawing us into those weeks of pain and loss.

I miss her very much.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 22, 2021, 09:27:34 PM
Loss is an overarching theme.  Loss of time, of freedom to move, of worship in person, of lives. 

I will be conducting five funerals in the next week, of parishioners, friends, colleagues.  And due to a positive COVID-19 case in our school, our church and school have been closed for over two weeks, so we're using every other medium we can to keep folks informed and prayed for.  My overall feeling is that I've seen a lot of people get older quicker in the last year, isolated and numb, even while we reach one another with love in Christ in these less comfortable new ways.

So last week I called out to Milwaukee, my birthplace and spiritual home, and discovered what I had heard was true - our family, and extended family's, congregation is going to close.  What about my confirmation record?  My report cards?  Our wedding record?  My ordination?  If that's how your name is written in the book of life, where are they taking the book?

In thinking about my childhood days, today then brought another blow.  Of all the Milwaukee Braves fans in the 50s and early 60s, I was near the top of the heap.  And of all the Braves fans who knew in their heart that the best baseball player who ever played was Hank Aaron, I am in the inner sanctum of that club.  I can list four or five key ingredients in my vocational desire to serve in multi-cultural and inner urban ministry.  One of them is Hank Aaron, who could just stone play.  Who carried himself with quiet dignity.  Who let his bat do the talking.  The first time I heard a Black person speak was at age 7 at a father-son sports banquet at Christ Memorial in the fall of 1953.  Billy Bruton gave the keynote, a speech about faith and life to an all-white audience in which he put Jesus right up there with him at the podium.  It was amazing to me as a little guy - Billy Bruton was a Christian.  (You may know that Lutheran Day at County Stadium was sold out then, and it was called "Andy Pafko" day because Andy was a Slovak Lutheran) The next spring Hank Aaron arrived on the scene, and lived no more than a couple of blocks from our north side home.  All the other kids I hung out with were crazy for Eddie Mathews.  So when the little gangs of us - remember we were 8-10 years old - took the bus and train and got in for 35 cent bleacher tix for a Sunday double-header without parental accompaniment - they would head off to right field and I would spend the afternoon in left waiting for Aaron to hit one out.  All of his early homers were about ten feet off the ground max - bullet line drives.  I tried to model my game that way - let the bat do the talking, line drives to all fields, all of it, not as a slugger, but as an all-around player. 

Behind me in my home office is my best autographed ball -
Best wishes
To Pastor David
Hank Aaron

Dave Benke
Poignant. You can't go home again. You can only look forward to arriving there for the first time.

We just started a four week zoom study of John Nunes's new book Meant for More. He graciously volunteered to lead the study from New York. His is a very upbeat view of the future, with a focus away from loss and toward pursuit of "more" not in a crass sense but in an Augustinian directing of the soul toward its proper ends. It is refreshing but challenging. The genuine emotion, passion, and energy of sensing loss can be a positive, but it does not go there by itself.

Agreed.  In all these decades of dealing with folks going through the grief process, the one learning is that you can't wedge it in a box and tell it to go away.  After September 11 a couple of our pastors said they were done with any grief and remembrance around Thanksgiving, 2001.  Moving on.  I wondered aloud whether they had asked their congregants about that timeline.  Of course, the answer was no. 

My message last Wednesday evening after the inauguration was on the power of the cross, God's wisdom and actual, real, permanent power.

Dave Benke
When I was a teenager I was amazed at how many of the rock and roll greats were putting out nostalgia-themed records. They were, of course, a lot older than I was. But Springsteen's The River as well as many songs on Born in the USA, Bob Seeger sang Like a Rock, Mellencamp had Jack and Diane, Tom Petty, et al. Plus nostalgia movies like Stand By Me, Hoosiers, and A Christmas Story became all the craze. It can be good to indulge nostalgia a bit with music and movies. Give it its due. But don't get stranded there.

What I like about Nunes is that when massive changes like the collapse of church participation or the social media revolution occur, anyone can say, "It's the end of the world as we know it," but not everyone can naturally add, "And I feel fine." Nunes does in an infectious way.

What I like about
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Jeremy_Loesch on January 23, 2021, 12:14:33 PM
Loss is an overarching theme.  Loss of time, of freedom to move, of worship in person, of lives. 

I will be conducting five funerals in the next week, of parishioners, friends, colleagues.  And due to a positive COVID-19 case in our school, our church and school have been closed for over two weeks, so we're using every other medium we can to keep folks informed and prayed for.  My overall feeling is that I've seen a lot of people get older quicker in the last year, isolated and numb, even while we reach one another with love in Christ in these less comfortable new ways.

So last week I called out to Milwaukee, my birthplace and spiritual home, and discovered what I had heard was true - our family, and extended family's, congregation is going to close.  What about my confirmation record?  My report cards?  Our wedding record?  My ordination?  If that's how your name is written in the book of life, where are they taking the book?

In thinking about my childhood days, today then brought another blow.  Of all the Milwaukee Braves fans in the 50s and early 60s, I was near the top of the heap.  And of all the Braves fans who knew in their heart that the best baseball player who ever played was Hank Aaron, I am in the inner sanctum of that club.  I can list four or five key ingredients in my vocational desire to serve in multi-cultural and inner urban ministry.  One of them is Hank Aaron, who could just stone play.  Who carried himself with quiet dignity.  Who let his bat do the talking.  The first time I heard a Black person speak was at age 7 at a father-son sports banquet at Christ Memorial in the fall of 1953.  Billy Bruton gave the keynote, a speech about faith and life to an all-white audience in which he put Jesus right up there with him at the podium.  It was amazing to me as a little guy - Billy Bruton was a Christian.  (You may know that Lutheran Day at County Stadium was sold out then, and it was called "Andy Pafko" day because Andy was a Slovak Lutheran) The next spring Hank Aaron arrived on the scene, and lived no more than a couple of blocks from our north side home.  All the other kids I hung out with were crazy for Eddie Mathews.  So when the little gangs of us - remember we were 8-10 years old - took the bus and train and got in for 35 cent bleacher tix for a Sunday double-header without parental accompaniment - they would head off to right field and I would spend the afternoon in left waiting for Aaron to hit one out.  All of his early homers were about ten feet off the ground max - bullet line drives.  I tried to model my game that way - let the bat do the talking, line drives to all fields, all of it, not as a slugger, but as an all-around player. 

Behind me in my home office is my best autographed ball -
Best wishes
To Pastor David
Hank Aaron

Dave Benke

I'm sorry for your loss. I appreciate what you shared very much. Peace to you in these days.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on February 07, 2021, 11:19:26 PM
While I have been blessed with general “protection” during the pandemic and thus far – another negative test this week – escaped the virus; I do realize that the pandemic has taken something precious from me. I am no longer together with others making music.
The 80-voice chorale I’ve sung with the past two years has us in online rehearsals. Then we create videos which are stitched together into a “virtual choir.” I did one and it was much hard work that was not fun hard work. I sit in front of a screen and at my keyboard. Learn my part. Run through it in an online rehearsal with other tenors. Then I make a video of myself singing my part with a sound track in my ear. That video goes to the sound engineer, along with all the others, he unites them and we can put the piece online. There is no fellowship, no sharing of difficulties, no “music” on the way to the final performance, and probably no “final performance” before an audience. That’s just not the way I want to make music. I shall probably attend the online rehearsals, but not make my own video. My church choir is doing the same thing.
To make choral music, one should go to rehearsals, sing with others, hear the various parts blend and then make music shoulder to shoulder. Then you take it to the stage where in live performance you create something beautiful and exciting for yourself and your audience. Or you go to church and help people praise God. This is not happening.
There is considerable pain in the loss of music-making with others, presenting music to an audience or a congregation. As there is loss of in-person worship and receiving the Sacrament. But there it is.
I know there are church choirs “out there” that are rehearsing and congregations with in-person worship and singing. Frankly, I think those places are taking great risks with the health and lives of all participants.
Maybe I’ll feel differently after the second shot (this week) and when the rate of everything drops considerable. But right now the feeling is – loss.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 08, 2021, 08:41:23 AM
No particular extra risk. Our choir director attended a worship on Covid (I believe two such things, actually, one for the public schools and one by church choirs) and the conclusion was that as long as you space yourselves apart in a large room, face the same way with the director a good distance away, and wear masks, there is no real added risk. Our daughters in the local public high school have been having choir in school, for example, and our church choir has been up and running, though getting everyone to actually keep the mask on while singing has been something of a chore for the director. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on February 08, 2021, 09:27:13 AM
There are masks specifically designed for singers. And your people must be getting different information than my people.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 08, 2021, 10:32:06 AM
There are masks specifically designed for singers. And your people must be getting different information than my people.
Probably. Our public schools in Indiana have taken a different approach than neighboring Cook County, Illinois. They've opted to err on the side of shutting everything down, we've opted for the opposite default, to do what we can to mitigate while not shutting down unless necessary. Though now I believe even Chicago teachers are going back to the classroom contrary to their union's wishes. Not sure what they'll do about choirs.

In Indiana they went by the science, which demonstrated conclusively that schools did not present a particular problem in terms of spreading Covid but that not having school presented a lot of other problems. So they took the approach that gave people the option for remote learning or in-person, and they did all the distancing, masks, plastic shields, etc. and changed the schedule, designated one-way hallways, etc. Still have had sports, though the girls' basketball team had to forfeit a chance at the sectional championship due to a positive test result. St. Paul's has been in session all year (with one week of remote learning) and just today we learned that we had our first student positive result that might have affected others, so the second grade class is staying home this week.

People have different comfort levels, to be sure. I appreciate the approach the errs on the side of living life while accounting as best we can for safety concerns rather than erring on the side of safety and only doing what is "essential."

 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on February 22, 2021, 03:59:11 AM
In a few days it will be two weeks since our second shots of the vaccine. This means that Beloved Spouse and I have the most immunity known to science today; that we are unlikely to contract the virus and that if we do, it is unlikely that we will be hospitalized or die. We must still wear masks in public and maintain distance from people outside our pod/bubble but we and the people around us are safer than we have been in the past year.
   Nearly 100 percent of the people living independently in our facility have had the shots (a small number have medical reasons not to take them), so we are something of a “herd” with its attendant immunity. Our dining room is open, our activities are expanding (with some restrictions) and we get a boost from being able to dine with other people.
   Beloved Spouse and I go out to eat about once a week to places where the tables are properly distanced and servers are masked. We will soon dine with relatives, the elder ones also vaccinated.
   Our church will hold in-person worship in two weeks, with a limit of 50 at each service. There will probably be restrictions on singing, and part of me wonders if that will be a deal-breaker as far as attending is concerned. But there will be “real” communion, and that is a deal-maker.
   These things are an immense boost to morale, that boost only held back by pondering the suffering and death experienced during the past year. Our pastor’s sermon yesterday – at a “parking lot” service we attended with the sound coming through our radios - spoke of God’s promise of blessings and God being faithful to the promise.  And surely God knows, he said, how much we long for the blessings of life that have been diminished in the past year. He also reminded us that we are not to lay on God blame for things of our own making – our lack of preparation for a pandemic, our mishandling of the outbreak, our communal failures in efforts to mitigate the effects and distribute the vaccine. Those things are on us, not on God.
   I think I believe we are on the way to something new, something quite different from the past 11 months. Don’t know what that might be like yet, but for the time being church with 50 people and no singing and going out for pizza is a blessed start.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Jim Butler on February 22, 2021, 01:43:49 PM
Today I received my first vaccine shot via the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office. Hopefully I'll be back ministering to inmates at the jail right after Easter.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on February 22, 2021, 02:09:00 PM
Today I received my first vaccine shot via the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office. Hopefully I'll be back ministering to inmates at the jail right after Easter.

Pfizer or Moderna?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Jim Butler on February 22, 2021, 02:17:45 PM
Today I received my first vaccine shot via the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office. Hopefully I'll be back ministering to inmates at the jail right after Easter.

Pfizer or Moderna?

Dave Benke

Moderna
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on March 27, 2021, 04:22:58 AM
Spring: Opening after one year
There were hugs. Our daughter gave a birthday party for Beloved Spouse and there were hugs. It was smaller than usual, just eight female relatives and friends, but it was close, around a dinner table and generally unbound. The seniors were all vaccinated. And there were hugs and flowers. It seemed like Spring.
    We are now able to have visitors - two at a time - in our apartments and we have hosted two dinners for family members, the food sent up by our chef.
    Beloved Spouse and I have been to restaurants, generally lunch at small places, although our nearest Applebee’s keeps two out of every three tables closed off for distance and is strict about cleaning protocols. We like it. We are now dining with others at the fine dining room in our residence, since everyone here has had the shots. However, a number of our neighbors still prefer the room service. They might come out more as Minnesota’s vaccination rate continues to rise and restrictions on restaurants and gatherings have been eased. This week's report showed no infections, exposures or contact with Covid in our community. It seems like Spring.
   And we have gone to the big-screen movies. Both times - afternoons - we were "among" four or six persons attending the screening in auditorium #6 (out of 15) at the multi-plex.
   My choral group does zoom rehearsals and, when prepared, we individually sing to our computers, our work then stitched together by sound engineers into a “virtual choir”. Three songs come out in April, perhaps three more in May or June. It is a strange way to make music. My men’s chorus has gone dark since last March and not opened. I don’t think there is a Spring there.
   The 25-member chorus at our residence begins in-person rehearsals with distance and other protocols in place the Monday after Easter. An outdoor concert may take place in June. It seems like Spring.
   Our church now has in-person services with attendance limited and no singing. I explored the home pages of about a dozen congregations and most remain very limited with in-person worship or have gone so far from the best of classic liturgy that I am not attracted. I dislike those tacky “communion kits” where one peels the top off a diner-creamer doodad to get at the elements. That does not feel like Eucharist, or Spring.
   But a video service from one church displayed fine liturgy, good music, excellent preaching, and a reverent approach to the sacrament. You had to reserve a place, so I called the pastor to discuss visiting, complimenting him on what I had seen in the videos. He was generally gracious and said we would be welcome but explained why our ELCA membership and Missouri Synod policies meant that we would not be able to commune. I said I understood the policies but knew that at times there were exceptions. There are no exceptions in this parish, so we will not be visiting. It did not feel like Spring.
   Holy Week and Easter will probably be spent with the Episcopalians. We expect to find a local parish to attend. Several have in-person services with dignified liturgies, sometimes outdoors. Should those visits not be possible, we will “go” to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the best presentation of online worship that I have found. I hope that what we find, either in person or online, will feel like Holy Week and Easter, and Spring.
   May we all find the desired and necessary blessings of Spring.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on April 04, 2021, 04:14:05 AM
Yes. This writer and these studies are on to how many of us feel. Burned out, even as we “improve.” More later.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/03/business/pandemic-burnout-productivity.html

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on April 04, 2021, 07:27:16 AM
The Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian may be the proper prescription for such malaise, particularly the first section.

Quote

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter.

(Prostration)

Instead, grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love.

(Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen.

(Prostration)


Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on April 05, 2021, 06:41:55 PM
First the Good News: Christ is Risen.
   Like so many people this year, we celebrated the resurrection modestly. “Better” than last year, but still modestly. The “big” Lutheran parishes around us had very limited in-person worship and had decimated the liturgy in their televised efforts. We located a nearby Episcopal church with in-person worship, sometimes outdoors and streamed to members at home. It is a small parish and the priest explained that many parishioners were not yet vaccinated and were wary of large groups, even when attempts were made for the now-dread “social distance.”
   We joined nine others present at the church for Holy Thursday. It was a full, reverent liturgy from the Book of Common prayer, a cantor to assist with the chants, and the altar stripped at the close of the worship.
   We returned on the bright, warm Easter Sunday for the outdoor celebration from a flower-bedecked altar, a newly-lit Paschal Candle and about 40 people present (and two dogs). It was again a formal, Book of Common Prayer rite reverently celebrated. We received the Sacrament in one kind, the hosts brought from the altar to us in small plastic cups to minimize physical contact. Two singers and a keyboard set on “organ” tone provided the music. Officially, the congregants did not sing, but I did, somewhat quietly, behind my mask. The homily focused on the “what’s next,” with an emphasis on God fulfilling the promises and the resurrected Jesus going “out there” telling us – and Mary Magdalene – that it is “out there” we will find him. 
    From time to time I would feel the “loss” of a full church, well-rehearsed choir and all the attendant ceremonies of a “big” Easter eucharist. But then I thought, not this year; people are still suffering; the pains of the world – violence, discrimination, death, uncertainty – remain with us. It was announced that a parishioner died Holy Saturday. I had read two newspapers in the morning, and almost none of the news was comforting. Christ is risen, indeed; our salvation is secured; but unless I remember the suffering and the sufferers in the world, I am selfishly joyful and in danger of letting the "pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by" theme take me spiritually out of the world. Would a big, “traditional” Easter worship with all the usual hymns and glory be appropriate this year? Yes, but would it also be a temporary distraction, a bit of soothing ointment, or some kind of happy Jesus dust sprinkled on serious troubles? Maybe.
    There was a fine family dinner, nine of us from three generations around a table. Ham. Smoked turkey. Chocolate bunnies. Cheerful talk about the planned family fete in June – a week with 20 of us in a house on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
   In today’s pandemic world, where even the hopes for the vaccines draw attention to inequality and where virtually an entire "brand" of Christians is refusing the vaccines, there is no escaping dark truth.
    As at Christmas, the light of the incarnate and now resurrected Lord shines in darkness; and the darkness cannot overcome it. But neither has the light of the Lord totally overcome the darkness of our troubles.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on April 07, 2021, 11:45:57 AM
Even as Easter is upon us, I received this video from my brother yesterday:  https://www.tmj4.com/news/coronavirus/declining-membership-decrease-in-funds-leads-to-closure-of-milwaukee-church-after-nearly-77-years?fbclid=IwAR11UZzuFzY7hvwLNmnGypzyOei5-vvgJm-lA1sf8SeLQi8Yedy6pGbpLGA.

This is the church of our family's baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and some funerals.  Easter was its last worship service.  Looking at the attendance, it seemed to me to be above the margin, but apparently not.  There are two buildings there, the "old" church which is now a gymnasium, and the one in the video.  I gave the address on the meaning of all the crosses in the sanctuary as an eighth grader at the dedication service and later that year confirmed/made first communion at the altar. I was married to a daughter of the church eight years later and ordained into the Holy Ministry at that altar 12 years later - 1960, 1968 and 1972.

The report on WTMJ was careful to give the statistics as to the general decline and the specific closing of congregations.  I guess the small to tiny country churches with less facility overhead can combine resources in terms of personnel easier than the urban counterparts, but the "general decline" is getting steeper and steeper, and now it has taken the church of my childhood.  Our home was a half block from the church, and we were all little church mice, hanging around the facility all the time, playing "Red Rover" in the schoolyard and "Red Light, Green Light" around the church grounds in the summer evenings.

Anyway, we keep plugging away "while it is day," children of the Resurrection.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 07, 2021, 12:04:00 PM
Even as Easter is upon us, I received this video from my brother yesterday:  https://www.tmj4.com/news/coronavirus/declining-membership-decrease-in-funds-leads-to-closure-of-milwaukee-church-after-nearly-77-years?fbclid=IwAR11UZzuFzY7hvwLNmnGypzyOei5-vvgJm-lA1sf8SeLQi8Yedy6pGbpLGA.

This is the church of our family's baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and some funerals.  Easter was its last worship service.  Looking at the attendance, it seemed to me to be above the margin, but apparently not.  There are two buildings there, the "old" church which is now a gymnasium, and the one in the video.  I gave the address on the meaning of all the crosses in the sanctuary as an eighth grader at the dedication service and later that year confirmed/made first communion at the altar. I was married to a daughter of the church eight years later and ordained into the Holy Ministry at that altar 12 years later - 1960, 1968 and 1972.

The report on WTMJ was careful to give the statistics as to the general decline and the specific closing of congregations.  I guess the small to tiny country churches with less facility overhead can combine resources in terms of personnel easier than the urban counterparts, but the "general decline" is getting steeper and steeper, and now it has taken the church of my childhood.  Our home was a half block from the church, and we were all little church mice, hanging around the facility all the time, playing "Red Rover" in the schoolyard and "Red Light, Green Light" around the church grounds in the summer evenings.

Anyway, we keep plugging away "while it is day," children of the Resurrection.

Dave Benke
Such a melancholy trend. Yet Easter is the ultimate eucatastrophe that teaches us, again and again, that we never prevail the way we were hoping to prevail and dedicating ourselves to prevailing. We do our utmost against insurmountable odds, fail, and then God turns it to victory in ways we do not see but can only trust are there.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on April 07, 2021, 12:13:28 PM
Even as Easter is upon us, I received this video from my brother yesterday:  https://www.tmj4.com/news/coronavirus/declining-membership-decrease-in-funds-leads-to-closure-of-milwaukee-church-after-nearly-77-years?fbclid=IwAR11UZzuFzY7hvwLNmnGypzyOei5-vvgJm-lA1sf8SeLQi8Yedy6pGbpLGA.

This is the church of our family's baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and some funerals.  Easter was its last worship service.  Looking at the attendance, it seemed to me to be above the margin, but apparently not.  There are two buildings there, the "old" church which is now a gymnasium, and the one in the video.  I gave the address on the meaning of all the crosses in the sanctuary as an eighth grader at the dedication service and later that year confirmed/made first communion at the altar. I was married to a daughter of the church eight years later and ordained into the Holy Ministry at that altar 12 years later - 1960, 1968 and 1972.

The report on WTMJ was careful to give the statistics as to the general decline and the specific closing of congregations.  I guess the small to tiny country churches with less facility overhead can combine resources in terms of personnel easier than the urban counterparts, but the "general decline" is getting steeper and steeper, and now it has taken the church of my childhood.  Our home was a half block from the church, and we were all little church mice, hanging around the facility all the time, playing "Red Rover" in the schoolyard and "Red Light, Green Light" around the church grounds in the summer evenings.

Anyway, we keep plugging away "while it is day," children of the Resurrection.

Dave Benke
Such a melancholy trend. Yet Easter is the ultimate eucatastrophe that teaches us, again and again, that we never prevail the way we were hoping to prevail and dedicating ourselves to prevailing. We do our utmost against insurmountable odds, fail, and then God turns it to victory in ways we do not see but can only trust are there.

Discernable trends in this little corner of the world include
a tremendous upswing in ministries of prayer and connection/networking through prayer
great pent-up demand for baptisms - we're booked through spring on Sundays
exploration of the "Hybrid Church" - this is a thing, we're in it, and need to be the best we can be at it.  So we've signed up for training - online/in-person and how to be effective at it. 
For example, I begin each day by turning on my phone.  I can turn it on and off without assistance already, after only eight years.  I'm tech savvy!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Likeness on April 07, 2021, 12:58:16 PM
While attending Concordia Luth H.S. Milwaukee on the campus of Concordia Jr College,
in the late 1950's.......I walked to various nearby churches for Sunday Worship. They were   
Hope Lutheran, Bethany Lutheran and Mount Olive Lutheran.  Perhaps Bishop Benke
could update us on the status of these three as far as survival goes.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on April 28, 2021, 11:07:40 AM
And now, friends, we see where the “fake news“ really is. The New York post and Fox news ran a manufactured story about Biden that was wrong and they knew it was wrong when they ran it. The reporter resigned. The reporter said she was forced to write that story. Something to ponder.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 28, 2021, 11:26:04 AM
And now, friends, we see where the “fake news“ really is. The New York post and Fox news ran a manufactured story about Biden that was wrong and they knew it was wrong when they ran it. The reporter resigned. The reporter said she was forced to write that story. Something to ponder.
Agreed. The difference is that on the right the perpetrators resign. On the left they get promoted.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on April 28, 2021, 02:22:36 PM
Agreed. The difference is that on the right the perpetrators resign. On the left they get promoted.


Can you back up your statement, or are you spreading more "fake news" - hoping to get promoted?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 28, 2021, 02:30:24 PM
Agreed. The difference is that on the right the perpetrators resign. On the left they get promoted.


Can you back up your statement, or are you spreading more "fake news" - hoping to get promoted?
I can back up the statement, but will do so only on your assurance that if I do, you'll acknowledge the validity of my original statement and future discussion will build on the truth of it. Otherwise I'd just be playing fetch while you throw sticks, i.e. an exhausting and purposeless game which I choose not to play. I stand by my statement. You can take it leave it. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on April 28, 2021, 03:48:56 PM
I ask again, Peter, if you can tell me an example of where a reporter was ordered to write a story known to be incorrect, and act so egregious, that the reporter later had to resign.“Fake news“ is a phrase that was invented by the former occupant of the White House. And 99% of the time it had to do with how people understood the story not with the content of the story itself, or how they believe the story was presented. We have been around this barn before.
But I’ll ask the question I asked all the time. What do you think reporters or newspapers have to gain by lying or presenting things that they know not to be true?
Your comments about journalists are the exact parallels of those things we all hate hearing from people outside the churches about how corrupt clergy are or about how hypocritical churches are. You don’t know what you’re talking about.
And, yes, again I’m a little defensive about my previous vocation, because I have known some exceedingly good people hard at work to tell people the truth about what’s going on in the life of the world. Furthermore, a significant number of those people are members of our churches.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 28, 2021, 03:57:19 PM
They have much to gain. They care about politics. They want to “make a difference.” They can influence things in what they think are positive directions. What was the motive for CNN to completely fabricate a story about the previous president’s health and to deliberately skew all presentation of the challenger’s health. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt they did that. And we know they plan to play up Covid as long as they can before moving on to global warming. Why would they do that?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on April 28, 2021, 04:04:04 PM
I guess a lot of us see a lot more doubt shadows than you do, Peter. You still Harbor your mythology about the past four years and the past six months, a mythology as mythical as the creatures of the Tolkien worlds that some of you like to visit.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 28, 2021, 04:08:28 PM
I guess a lot of us see a lot more doubt shadows than you do, Peter. You still Harbor your mythology about the past four years and the past six months, a mythology as mythical as the creatures of the Tolkien worlds that some of you like to visit.
Why is it that you can see the motives of FOX doing whatever story it is you’re talking about but can’t believe people with differing political views would have the same motives?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on April 28, 2021, 04:17:24 PM
While attending Concordia Luth H.S. Milwaukee on the campus of Concordia Jr College,
in the late 1950's.......I walked to various nearby churches for Sunday Worship. They were   
Hope Lutheran, Bethany Lutheran and Mount Olive Lutheran.  Perhaps Bishop Benke
could update us on the status of these three as far as survival goes.

Thinking about those halcyon days, with 32 teams in the Walther League Boys Softball division inside the Milwaukee city limits.  Lots of Lutherans of the Missouri stripe, plus a ton of WELS congregations in their homeland and a lot of ALC/Augustana churches for those of the more Scandinavian bent.  All three of those congregations are still on the books as open.  Mt. Olive is undoubtedly the most vibrant of the three.  The reporting on the final day of my home parish, Christ Memorial, was tough to watch.

I'm not sure what the plan is any more in the urban context, or if there is one big city by big city.  Keep Hope alive!  One Hope's former pastors, Dave Koch, who followed WAM Jr., preached at my ordination at Christ Memorial back in 1972. 

Dave Benke

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on May 15, 2021, 04:19:52 AM
It feels like the biggest “step forward” since the shut-down more than a year ago. After the announcement by the CDC and rulings by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, our management tells us that we no longer need to wear masks in the common areas of our retirement community.
   All independent living residents here have been vaccinated and there have been no positive tests or cases of the virus for months. This means that we need not be masked during exercise classes, events in our auditorium, games in the card room or while taking part in other group activities on campus. We will wear masks on the busses to outside events and when visiting in the attached nursing home. And some may choose to wear masks, even if they are not required.
   It is a relatively small thing for me, as I have never found masking more than a tiny bit uncomfortable and “one more thing” to think about when moving around. (Mask. Spare mask. Double or single? Disposable or washable?) Masking has been a bearable annoyance and worth the slight discomfort if it kept me from getting or spreading the virus.
   I’ve read several articles – in major media, minor media, and journals – and am convinced that the researchers have found that people fully vaccinated pose little risk to ourselves or others. The doctor that Beloved Spouse and I had dinner with last night added his support, with a couple of minor caveats, to the new protocols.
   For several weeks now, we have been allowed to have outside visitors in our apartments. They cannot eat in the our dining room, but we can order room service meals so they can eat with us. That was a most welcome step towards more personal and human-contact lives with friends and family.
   The words “road to normalcy” have appeared in many stories. I believe “normal” has changed. We will not go back to 2019 “normal.” And it is possible that in the future we may again need the masks.
   Many trumpet the fact that the recent learnings make it possible for “the economy” (that sacred economy!) to expand. Others take it as a triumph for the get-out-the-shots efforts of President Biden. Some claim we didn’t need so much masking anyway. Some only reluctantly acknowledged the masking protocols, masks drooping below noses or being installed just before going through the doors at Walmart.
   During the past year, however, I think the masks have also been community-building devices. We may have fought over the need, but we wore them. We were “in it together,” our common effort visible on our masked faces. The “observant” ones frowned at or sometimes admonished the slackers. We discussed our “favorite” mask sources or wore the one that matched or complemented the color of our shirt.
   Spiritually, I take the positive steps towards a more relaxed society as blessings, the “gifts” of God, gifts of science, benefits of research and the work of those who study such things. Few in the “public square” seem to see anything philosophical or theological about the new situation. This is too bad. We should always be conscious of what makes life “better” or easier or healthier as blessings. We should see whatever we do to protect our neighbors as help in following the commandments of God.
   In the retirement community I inhabit, we will be seeing each other’s smiles again as community life expands and brings us closer together. This, I hope, will strengthen the view that – wherever we go or however life unfolds in the years ahead – we are “in it together.” We remember that we do what we must do to make that "together" healthy and happy.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on June 18, 2021, 04:01:53 AM
Is it over?
   We sat last night on the Trillium Woods patio, probably 350 of us, eating fried fish, barbecue chicken skewers, watermelon, salads and other buffet line foods. The servers, who quickly refilled drinks, were masked, but we were not. We sat close together, some hugged. Each night for the past few weeks, we have eaten in our dining room. Activities and excursions are expanding. Our choral group is rehearsing for a show.
   We can dine out, go to movies, shop for groceries un-masked. Crowds are at sporting events.
   Is it over? No, it is not.
   Doctor appointments, frequent for people our age, are conducted under strict protocols of masking, hand-washing, social distancing, and other precautions. Our flights to North Carolina last week required masks at the terminal and on the plane. Newspapers carry disturbing stories of large numbers refusing vaccinations. We fret now about what should have been done and what must be done to prepare for the next time. Some who snarled about and avoided the mediation protocols – if they survived – say “See! Did we really have to do all that?” The way thousands work and do business has changed, probably forever. 
   And of course, in many parts of the world, the sickness and deaths continue.
   We are changed, or if we are not, we ought to be changed from the time when the words “COVID-19” and “pandemic” were not in our daily vocabulary. The pandemic was not the only assault on our lives for the past year or more. Serious developments in our political and civic lives rattled the foundations of our democracy and we are trying – politically and in our civic lives – to get a grip on what our nation should be. In some of those developments, it is clear that in fighting the pandemic we were not “in it together” waging war against a common enemy.
   Did the pandemic add new fuel to the fires of racism, classism, mistrust in our institutions, and the fragmentation of social life? Bizarre theories, galloping paranoia, and just plain craziness drive some who are or would be our leaders, pulling us apart.
   It was a joyful fish-fry buffet, one we sorely missed last year, almost a celebration of “we’re back!” But it is not over and there is much to be learned from the recent past. I wonder if we are capable of learning; I wonder how much we realize that we are in a complex struggle to live, organize society, work with others around the world, protect our resources, and care for our neighbors.
   Do we know that we are indeed “in it together” and that if any single faction, any single movement, any single ideology or theology “wins” most of the time, we all lose?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on June 18, 2021, 08:54:16 AM
"'Ghastly' things... have always been among us. And yet, here we are - the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - winning some, taking our hits at times, celebrating and mourning, and living in the joy of our faith and confidence in God's love.
My criticism of some of my 'liberal' buddies is that they focus too much on how awful things are (even when they are not), rather than find in joy where we are even as we try to improve and move to an even better place."
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: D. Engebretson on June 18, 2021, 09:36:08 AM
This week has demonstrated to me that we now live in a kind of two world reality.  Almost all of the people in church attend without masks.  Many, of course, are of the older crowd, so they have all been vaccinated, and I suspect many others have as well. I think the un-vaccinated are in a small minority.  The tape separating every other pew  for the sake of 'social distancing' has just been removed.  I still mask for consecration and distribution of the Sacrament, but that is one of the few obvious remaining reminders of how COVID-19 impacted our church on Sunday morning.  A few other things remain changed, probably permanently, like the familiar 'passing the plate' (changed, in part, already before the pandemic when we introduced online giving) and the so-called 'sharing of the peace' or greeting at the beginning (hand shaking remains somewhat rare).  As I am out in the community I also see normalcy. All the major retailers have dropped mask requirements. People mill around and shop much like they did pre-pandemic.  I met with my adult children on Memorial Day indoors without masks, and we finally braved going to restaurants in the last few weeks, again without masks.  There is a relief in coming back to a reality I so missed and took for granted.

On the other hand, as Pr. Austin observed, that reality does not exist within our hospitals.  I visited two parishoners on Monday in two different cities.  I had to mask, was temperature checked, and was quizzed about possible symptoms.  What struck me, especially on the second visit at my local hospital, was the feeling of 'emptiness' in the halls.  Patients are limited to one family member during the week.  No more. No exceptions, even for spouses.  The only 'exception' is clergy. After I came home I then realized the 'two world reality' we now live in, which also includes, to some degree, the assisted living centers.  And it may explain, in some part, the partial reluctance of those working in the medical world to fully engage the outside world.  I wondered what it must be like working inside a virtually isolated world that still lives with strict pandemic protocols for 8 hours or more, where all you see are your fellow masked workers and sick people, with a few healthy ones here and there.  What a contrast. And, I might add, my area, as well as that of my state, has a very low rate of COVID-19 infections. 

I don't know how long this dichotomy will last, but I suspect it will be until they are no longer talking about the pandemic every day on the news, with commentary on 'variants' currently working their way through the population.  My guess, is it could be as long as another year. 

I also realize that this event has forever changed our world and the way we live.  I am pleased that many 'normal' activities are returning.  But just under the surface for some seems to be a permanent sense of fear and foreboding.  Of course, the crisis filled the news every day for over a year.  Not a morning goes by that it is still not a part of the regular reporting.  Even when the danger is not acute in our local areas we are reminded that places far away like Japan and India are in crisis.  It feels like what it must have been like in the 60s and 70s when reporting on the Vietnam War brought warfare into our living rooms as never before.  No longer did you go to the local theater to see the 'news reels.' If you watched the daily news you had regular, ongoing exposure to war. 

As to the politics and civil unrest mentioned, that, too, has been colored by regular media reporting.  Yes, there are problem areas, but most of our communities are relatively safe and free of violent, angry protests.  I look around my own area and I do not see what I see every day on the news.  I suspect it is that way for others as well.  Now I am not arguing that we should be uninformed.  But a steady diet of an assault of such news instills within the heart a restless sense of fear and foreboding that is not healthy.  I cannot live with such fear all the time.  It eventually impacts faith and hope.  As a first responder I know the necessity of facing crises and tragedies.  I have been part of many debriefings that involved injury, death and destruction.  But to remain mentally healthy I cannot live in that world 24/7.  I must walk away and return back to the world that is not severely broken.  Otherwise I lose balance and I cannot respond with needed perspective in times of high stress.

I hope that we find a way to deal with this lingering fear that cripples some lives unnecessarily.  It is not healthy for our society as a whole.

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on June 18, 2021, 10:23:11 AM
Lingering fear is definitely a theme not just dictating institutional practices but very central in human hearts and minds. 

The root word for "terror" has to do with shaking, trembling, the exterior manifestations of pervasive fear.  At some place in time, the word "terrific" moved from the fearful to the fearless side of the aisle.  So I spoke on that the other night during a series on Mental/Emotional/Spiritual health as we move from the Pandemic - from Terrified to Terrific.  And there's this great Bible passage (so odd!) from Matthew 28:

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

"Afraid yet filled with joy."  That's right there in the middle after the terrified shaking of the guards (as dead men), and the repeated "do not be afraid."  Along with - by the way - the repeat instructions to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. 

Anyway, that text will preach in these times - from terrified to terrific and all the steps in between.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on June 18, 2021, 12:45:25 PM
The Resurrectional Evlogetaria, sung nearly every Sunday in the Orthodox Church:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HflNMqQsFo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HflNMqQsFo)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on June 18, 2021, 08:25:10 PM
The Resurrectional Evlogetaria, sung nearly every Sunday in the Orthodox Church:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HflNMqQsFo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HflNMqQsFo)

Beautiful and powerful - the time for lamentation is at an end!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on July 08, 2021, 01:19:32 PM
“Back to Normal”? Do we want that? Can we go there? A reflection on Romans 6.
Adapted from a sermon. Copyright 2021 by Charles Austin

Are we “back to normal”? Has the pandemic passed? Maybe, but we have a problem “adjusting.” The problem is that everything passes, even the things we do not want to pass, even what is “normal.” Good things, once “normal” things pass. 
   We want “back to normal,” but can we go back?
   Most Augusts, I want to go back home to Iowa in the 1950s, to a Lutheran church, and to a neighborhood full of friends.
   They say, “you can't go home again.” I hope they are wrong about that. They say, “you can't go back, you have to go forward.” I guess they are right about that.
   So every August, I get a little homesick for the Iowa of my childhood.
   I didn’t live on a farm, but it was farm country; we knew the growing seasons. This, I believe, leads to trust in God. A sense that God is in control.
   Farmers think of the words of the Psalm, “The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.” People who trust God for the seasons understand planting, growth and harvest.
   In Sicily some years ago, I learned that Mediterranean climate makes lemon trees produce four harvests each year. Well, that’s not true in Iowa. You get most of the crops in the summer, especially the vegetables. Sow seeds in spring; harvest in summer. One crop.
   Iowa summers were free from care, all those years ago. We stayed out late at night, we could roller skate (not roller–blade but roller skate, with metal skates that you clamped onto your shoes, the skate key hanging from a string around your neck.)
   Evenings we sat in our yards and watched the lightning bugs, caught them and put them in jars. We lay on our backs in the grass and looked at stars.
   It got hot in July and August, but we didn't know it because we didn’t know about air conditioning. It wasn't hot, it was just summer; and there were shady places where you could go for relief. Or the swimming pool.
   Nobody told us sugar was bad for you, so we drank gallons of grape Kool Aid. We froze it in ice cube trays with toothpicks and made little square popsicles.
   There was the sweet smell of lilacs and peonies and cut grass. Sprinklers whirled in the yards, sending spirals of water over the lawns. We ran through them; getting just wet enough to cool off; but not so wet your mom would yell at you.
   No cellphones. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Zoom. Only three channels of television.
   But there were friends and we played Monopoly games lasting for weeks and rode our Schwinn bikes. I don't know where any of those friends are today; but those many summers ago, they were – outside of my parents – the most important people in the world.
   The library summer reading program gave you an award or put your name on the bulletin board if you read a certain number of books. I don’t remember specific books; but I remember the joy of reading them. Adventures. Biographies. Travel. History. Whole new worlds; flowing off the printed page right there under a tree in my backyard.
   That was my “normal.” Iowa. Summertime. Childhood. I remember it as paradise.
   Every August, I think I'd go back to that “normal” in an instant.
   But they say you can't go home again. They say you have to go forward, to progress.
   That is our destiny. We cannot be 11 years old forever. If time for us stops, we die.
   In the Bible, St. Paul says we cannot go back to what we were. But Paul refers to our old sinful selves, before we knew the gospel. He says “Once you were slaves to sin; and you died from it. Now you are free in Christ Jesus and have life eternal.” He asks the Romans Christians, “do you want to go back there?  Back to sin? Back to that death? Why would you want to do that?”
   A very sound theological point indeed. Why go back to your old sinful self? But I don't think my Iowa childhood was so “sinful.” I know a lot more about sin now than I did then. I guess I haven't improved very much. I'm a bigger risk, in need of more grace now than when I was 13.
   Paul says to remember that we have “died” to sin; that once we were doomed and now we are saved.
   Those Roman Christians could remember a time when they weren't Christians, when they weren't redeemed. I can't. Sometimes I feel less redeemed now than I did back in Iowa.
   We had Vacation Bible School those Iowa summers. That was like daily Sunday school; except that we played games outside and you didn't have to get dressed up or go to church afterwards. And they'd give us more of that wonderful, sugary Grape Kool Aid. Sometimes cherry.
   The grace of God is more evident in summer; especially in Iowa. Winters in Iowa don't bring out many thoughts about God's wonderful grace.
   But summer! It showers us with so many blessings. So many blessings that we took them for granted. Blessed. Happy. That was “normal.”
   Food was a special summer blessing. Neighbors who fished gave you walleye. Vegetable gardens produced sweet peas and beans. Rhubarb grew like weeds in our back yard. And some foods – like the fried chicken and potato salad brought to church picnics and family reunions – tasted better because you ate them outdoors.
Simple food, prepared in simple ways. Fry the chicken in Crisco. Boil the potatoes and mash them. Nothing fancy. Nothing unusual.
   My mother once caught me slipping potato chips into my peanut butter sandwich. “We don't do things like that, no sir! You do things like that, young man, and who knows what will come of it! You start doing things like that and … you could end up in New Jersey!”
   And the greatest blessing of all – sweet corn. Mothers turned some of it into relish; but I'm not sure God approves of that. I'm fairly certain God intends sweet corn to be eaten on the cob, with butter, with salt.
   Childhood summers. Who wouldn't go back to that “normal”? But who can? If we survived the pandemic as adults, we are still adults, not children.
   I don't believe God gives us wonderful graces and then snatches them from us. Why would such blessings flow if God did not intend for us to enjoy them always, and praise God for them?
   Aging cynics will say that childhood and summer dies; and will dismiss my longings as looney escapism. St. Paul must have had a bad day when he wrote to the Romans saying that the past has to die. “All those things you were before! They lead to death, destruction. You died to those things when you came into Christ. Come on! Give it up!”
   If I were a newly–converted ex–pagan; I would say “Yes, brother Paul; I died to those old things; and thank you for reminding me what a pagan I was.”
   But St. Paul didn't know the innocence of my youth, Iowa, and summer with the smell of lilacs and the taste of fresh sweet corn. Poor Paul never knew those graces and blessings.
   I think he knows now – because I think the whole, completed Kingdom of God preserves all those blessings; and even perfects them. There is sweet corn on God's banquet table in heaven and there's never a dark spon on the ear or a little clump of deformed kernels that throws you off your pace as you gnaw from one side to the other.
   Perfect rows of sweet corn kernels to delight the teeth of the angels.
   The Kingdom of God restores all the blessings God ever gave, all the blessings our mortal lives tend to lose. We do go forward in time, day after day in our lives. And it is not always “progress.” We let ourselves be led and become the slaves of the wrong things. Paul is very right about that. Paul called on the Romans to remember their baptism, give up the things that wrongly enslave us and put all that old, pre–baptism stuff out of their lives.
   Maybe the Holy Spirit now calls us to our old “normal” lives; not our old pre–baptism, sinful, unredeemed lives, but to those moments, those times when we are so filled with the blessings and graces of God that it is nearly heaven on earth.
   Once, after I had been in New York a few years; I flew to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Landed about 9:30 on a summer night. This was in the days when you actually got out of the plane into the night air.
   There were crickets chirping; and nearby an alfalfa dryer was at work, sending out waves of the musky very–Iowa smell of dried alfalfa. I cannot begin to describe what those sounds and smells evoked.
   Summer graces. I think that's what the Kingdom of God is like. A most blessed “normal.”
   I don't know how God will handle our different experiences of “normal”. I know there are those for whom “normal” summer meant playing three–sewer stickball, sleeping on the fire escape and a ride on the Cyclone coaster at Coney Island.
But I'll bet God can handle that. Maybe in the eternal kingdom a kid from Brooklyn will learn how to eat fresh sweet corn, and I'll get a ride on the Cyclone.
   “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” Jesus said in Luke 12. And God does indeed.
   There were limits to “normal” Iowa summer evenings. Usually about 9:30, a mother on our block would stand in her front door and call: “T–o–m–m–y! T–o–m–m–y!” And Tommy would reply “c–o–m–i–n–g.” Another mother would pick up the call. The rest of the mothers didn't have to call; for we would all drift home, just a little afraid of the dark without our friends nearby.
   And we'd go to bed. We could just look forward to another glorious day; the smells of summer, riding bikes, and blessings from God – taken, alas! – for granted, but granted nonetheless to small children.
   “It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Glimpses of it at least; and a promise that if we stray, we can always come home, come back to “normal”. If our friends have left, if we're a little too far from home, maybe over in the next block, and if the darkness gets sort of scary, or now, when we know that there are no more childhood summers in Iowa (or Brooklyn or New Jersey) – a heavenly voice calls in the night and says: you have a home.
   It’s all in this hymn. “Normal.” Normal is that Jesus calls us, that we have a home, that we have mercy, forgiveness, blessings, a home.
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkRTfrLBii0 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkRTfrLBii0)
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me.
See on the portals he's waiting and watching, watching for you and for me.
Refrain: Come home, come home. You who are weary come home.
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling 'O sinner, come home!'

Oh, for the wonderful love he has promised, promised for you and for me.
Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon, pardon for you and for me.
Come home, come home. You who are weary come home.
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling 'O sinner, come home!'

-0-

Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on July 08, 2021, 03:03:02 PM
“Back to Normal”? Do we want that? Can we go there? A reflection on Romans 6.
Adapted from a sermon. Copyright 2021 by Charles Austin

Are we “back to normal”? Has the pandemic passed? Maybe, but we have a problem “adjusting.” The problem is that everything passes, even the things we do not want to pass, even what is “normal.” Good things, once “normal” things pass. 
   We want “back to normal,” but can we go back?
   Most Augusts, I want to go back home to Iowa in the 1950s, to a Lutheran church, and to a neighborhood full of friends.
   They say, “you can't go home again.” I hope they are wrong about that. They say, “you can't go back, you have to go forward.” I guess they are right about that.
   So every August, I get a little homesick for the Iowa of my childhood.
   I didn’t live on a farm, but it was farm country; we knew the growing seasons. This, I believe, leads to trust in God. A sense that God is in control.
   Farmers think of the words of the Psalm, “The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.” People who trust God for the seasons understand planting, growth and harvest.
   In Sicily some years ago, I learned that Mediterranean climate makes lemon trees produce four harvests each year. Well, that’s not true in Iowa. You get most of the crops in the summer, especially the vegetables. Sow seeds in spring; harvest in summer. One crop.
   Iowa summers were free from care, all those years ago. We stayed out late at night, we could roller skate (not roller–blade but roller skate, with metal skates that you clamped onto your shoes, the skate key hanging from a string around your neck.)
   Evenings we sat in our yards and watched the lightning bugs, caught them and put them in jars. We lay on our backs in the grass and looked at stars.
   It got hot in July and August, but we didn't know it because we didn’t know about air conditioning. It wasn't hot, it was just summer; and there were shady places where you could go for relief. Or the swimming pool.
   Nobody told us sugar was bad for you, so we drank gallons of grape Kool Aid. We froze it in ice cube trays with toothpicks and made little square popsicles.
   There was the sweet smell of lilacs and peonies and cut grass. Sprinklers whirled in the yards, sending spirals of water over the lawns. We ran through them; getting just wet enough to cool off; but not so wet your mom would yell at you.
   No cellphones. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Zoom. Only three channels of television.
   But there were friends and we played Monopoly games lasting for weeks and rode our Schwinn bikes. I don't know where any of those friends are today; but those many summers ago, they were – outside of my parents – the most important people in the world.
   The library summer reading program gave you an award or put your name on the bulletin board if you read a certain number of books. I don’t remember specific books; but I remember the joy of reading them. Adventures. Biographies. Travel. History. Whole new worlds; flowing off the printed page right there under a tree in my backyard.
   That was my “normal.” Iowa. Summertime. Childhood. I remember it as paradise.
   Every August, I think I'd go back to that “normal” in an instant.
   But they say you can't go home again. They say you have to go forward, to progress.
   That is our destiny. We cannot be 11 years old forever. If time for us stops, we die.
   In the Bible, St. Paul says we cannot go back to what we were. But Paul refers to our old sinful selves, before we knew the gospel. He says “Once you were slaves to sin; and you died from it. Now you are free in Christ Jesus and have life eternal.” He asks the Romans Christians, “do you want to go back there?  Back to sin? Back to that death? Why would you want to do that?”
   A very sound theological point indeed. Why go back to your old sinful self? But I don't think my Iowa childhood was so “sinful.” I know a lot more about sin now than I did then. I guess I haven't improved very much. I'm a bigger risk, in need of more grace now than when I was 13.
   Paul says to remember that we have “died” to sin; that once we were doomed and now we are saved.
   Those Roman Christians could remember a time when they weren't Christians, when they weren't redeemed. I can't. Sometimes I feel less redeemed now than I did back in Iowa.
   We had Vacation Bible School those Iowa summers. That was like daily Sunday school; except that we played games outside and you didn't have to get dressed up or go to church afterwards. And they'd give us more of that wonderful, sugary Grape Kool Aid. Sometimes cherry.
   The grace of God is more evident in summer; especially in Iowa. Winters in Iowa don't bring out many thoughts about God's wonderful grace.
   But summer! It showers us with so many blessings. So many blessings that we took them for granted. Blessed. Happy. That was “normal.”
   Food was a special summer blessing. Neighbors who fished gave you walleye. Vegetable gardens produced sweet peas and beans. Rhubarb grew like weeds in our back yard. And some foods – like the fried chicken and potato salad brought to church picnics and family reunions – tasted better because you ate them outdoors.
Simple food, prepared in simple ways. Fry the chicken in Crisco. Boil the potatoes and mash them. Nothing fancy. Nothing unusual.
   My mother once caught me slipping potato chips into my peanut butter sandwich. “We don't do things like that, no sir! You do things like that, young man, and who knows what will come of it! You start doing things like that and … you could end up in New Jersey!”
   And the greatest blessing of all – sweet corn. Mothers turned some of it into relish; but I'm not sure God approves of that. I'm fairly certain God intends sweet corn to be eaten on the cob, with butter, with salt.
   Childhood summers. Who wouldn't go back to that “normal”? But who can? If we survived the pandemic as adults, we are still adults, not children.
   I don't believe God gives us wonderful graces and then snatches them from us. Why would such blessings flow if God did not intend for us to enjoy them always, and praise God for them?
   Aging cynics will say that childhood and summer dies; and will dismiss my longings as looney escapism. St. Paul must have had a bad day when he wrote to the Romans saying that the past has to die. “All those things you were before! They lead to death, destruction. You died to those things when you came into Christ. Come on! Give it up!”
   If I were a newly–converted ex–pagan; I would say “Yes, brother Paul; I died to those old things; and thank you for reminding me what a pagan I was.”
   But St. Paul didn't know the innocence of my youth, Iowa, and summer with the smell of lilacs and the taste of fresh sweet corn. Poor Paul never knew those graces and blessings.
   I think he knows now – because I think the whole, completed Kingdom of God preserves all those blessings; and even perfects them. There is sweet corn on God's banquet table in heaven and there's never a dark spon on the ear or a little clump of deformed kernels that throws you off your pace as you gnaw from one side to the other.
   Perfect rows of sweet corn kernels to delight the teeth of the angels.
   The Kingdom of God restores all the blessings God ever gave, all the blessings our mortal lives tend to lose. We do go forward in time, day after day in our lives. And it is not always “progress.” We let ourselves be led and become the slaves of the wrong things. Paul is very right about that. Paul called on the Romans to remember their baptism, give up the things that wrongly enslave us and put all that old, pre–baptism stuff out of their lives.
   Maybe the Holy Spirit now calls us to our old “normal” lives; not our old pre–baptism, sinful, unredeemed lives, but to those moments, those times when we are so filled with the blessings and graces of God that it is nearly heaven on earth.
   Once, after I had been in New York a few years; I flew to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Landed about 9:30 on a summer night. This was in the days when you actually got out of the plane into the night air.
   There were crickets chirping; and nearby an alfalfa dryer was at work, sending out waves of the musky very–Iowa smell of dried alfalfa. I cannot begin to describe what those sounds and smells evoked.
   Summer graces. I think that's what the Kingdom of God is like. A most blessed “normal.”
   I don't know how God will handle our different experiences of “normal”. I know there are those for whom “normal” summer meant playing three–sewer stickball, sleeping on the fire escape and a ride on the Cyclone coaster at Coney Island.
But I'll bet God can handle that. Maybe in the eternal kingdom a kid from Brooklyn will learn how to eat fresh sweet corn, and I'll get a ride on the Cyclone.
   “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” Jesus said in Luke 12. And God does indeed.
   There were limits to “normal” Iowa summer evenings. Usually about 9:30, a mother on our block would stand in her front door and call: “T–o–m–m–y! T–o–m–m–y!” And Tommy would reply “c–o–m–i–n–g.” Another mother would pick up the call. The rest of the mothers didn't have to call; for we would all drift home, just a little afraid of the dark without our friends nearby.
   And we'd go to bed. We could just look forward to another glorious day; the smells of summer, riding bikes, and blessings from God – taken, alas! – for granted, but granted nonetheless to small children.
   “It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Glimpses of it at least; and a promise that if we stray, we can always come home, come back to “normal”. If our friends have left, if we're a little too far from home, maybe over in the next block, and if the darkness gets sort of scary, or now, when we know that there are no more childhood summers in Iowa (or Brooklyn or New Jersey) – a heavenly voice calls in the night and says: you have a home.
   It’s all in this hymn. “Normal.” Normal is that Jesus calls us, that we have a home, that we have mercy, forgiveness, blessings, a home.
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkRTfrLBii0 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkRTfrLBii0)
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me.
See on the portals he's waiting and watching, watching for you and for me.
Refrain: Come home, come home. You who are weary come home.
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling 'O sinner, come home!'

Oh, for the wonderful love he has promised, promised for you and for me.
Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon, pardon for you and for me.
Come home, come home. You who are weary come home.
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling 'O sinner, come home!'

-0-

Wonderful, Charles! I have the same memories of growing up in Iowa.


Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on July 08, 2021, 08:18:25 PM
I got on the old synthesizer some years back and prepared a version of "Softly and Tenderly" in the Country/Western style in which the intro and outro are "I Remember the Red River Valley," which is the ancestral area from which one side of my family came after their trip across the Atlantic and across the country when they migrated to the Great Midwest.  "Come home, come home..."

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on July 08, 2021, 09:47:44 PM
I got on the old synthesizer some years back and prepared a version of "Softly and Tenderly" in the Country/Western style in which the intro and outro are "I Remember the Red River Valley," which is the ancestral area from which one side of my family came after their trip across the Atlantic and across the country when they migrated to the Great Midwest.  "Come home, come home..."

Dave Benke

Twenty five years ago, at the occasion of my long-deceased parents' Golden Annivesary (which coincided with Western Pentecost) I composed a hymn celebrating both.

The refrain began by borrowing the opening measures of the chorus of "Softly and Tenderly"  (including the echos) before moving into my original melody.

For you (for you), for you (for you)
Given and poured out for you
O trust in His promise, believe it is true:
'Tis broken and poured out for you.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on January 06, 2022, 05:54:14 AM
We went through 2021. And?
Some comments are coming concerning 2022.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 06, 2022, 10:50:47 AM
We went through 2021. And?
Some comments are coming concerning 2022.
Shouldn't we be thankful that for 2021 we had a knowledgeable and competent president and administration managing the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic rather than the incompetent, crackpot administration we had in 2020? In 2020 we had a president who imposed ineffective and xenophobic travel restrictions, that could not gear up to provide needed medical equipment and PPE and forced through a crackpot initiative to produce effective vaccines in months when everybody with a modicum of understanding and common sense knew that vaccines take years not months to develop and the plan was just a desperate attempt to distract from his failings. No reasonable person would ever take a vaccine rushed through by his administration.


Now as 2022 begins we've had entirely reasonable travel restrictions that somehow still failed to halt the spread of the Omicron variant in the US. In shutting down Covid as he campaigned to do, we now have the highest infection rates that we have had since the pandemic began. Vaccines are plentiful, but necessary testing is in painfully short supply. We are so much better off now than when the bungling buffoonish Trump was in charge.


Do you suppose that the real lesson to be learned is that this Covid epidemic has proven to be an intractable problem that no one has yet to be able to solve or make go away? Rather than viewing it as an opportunity to score points off opponents, advance one's own political or scientific agenda, or defend and advance one's own political or scientific turf, we need to work together, be open to listening to each other and take into account each other's ideas and concerns. The epidemic caught even the medical experts by surprise and many mistakes and missteps have been made along the way. Neither Trump nor Biden have been successful in shutting down the epidemic and both have made mistakes as well as scored victories.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on January 06, 2022, 12:35:48 PM
Some personal reflections, the reason I started this thread some time ago:
Last year was an up, down, in, out, and around kind of year. The virus predominated, but was at times overshadowed by the attack on our Capitol building and on our democracy by the crazed mob who drank Big Lie Kool-aid fed to them by the man who – on that Jan. 6 – would soon be The Ex. It has been good to see the attackers arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced and it is good to know that further investigations are reaching for the non-combatants who planned, inspired and directed the insurrection.
    BTW, mentioning this is not to "score points," but to remind us that the basics of our democracy were and are under assault, not only by that mob that defaced our Capitol building and sought to harm our legislators, but by efforts to restrict voting rights, gerrymander voting districts, and perpetuate the insane lies and seditious schemes hatched by The Ex and his minions.
   But the virus, O, the virus! How it gripped our lives! We masked, unmasked; opened up, shut down; felt good, worried; all through the year. We had a fine week on North Carolina’s Outer Banks with 19 family and friends, sharing a house with 10 bedrooms, eight of them with attached bathrooms. The house also had a swimming pool, a marvelous kitchen, plenty of separate areas for games or reading or television and the beach right outside the door. A good week it was, and all but one of the 19 were vaccinated.
    Summer – before Omicron – meant a trip to Sioux City for a high school reunion, an 80th birthday party for Beloved Spouse, myself and most of our classmates.
    Then virus things got dicey again; and it was weeks until our regular dining room could be fully open three nights a week for sit-down service. The other days it was a buffet or meals delivered to our apartments. We were able to enjoy most of the activities in our community. We went to movies in “regular” theaters – week-day afternoons where most of the time it was Beloved Spouse, myself and maybe four other people in the theater.
     It was possible to have a “normal” Thanksgiving with the rest of our family, another highlight of the year. But the December holidays were somewhat muted, even though our son came out from New Jersey and we had good times. As usual, I missed a “regular” Christmas worship, where I could assist and be with people I knew well in a parish where we can bask in shared traditions. But the Lord is born in many ways.
     Now we are in another slight pull back because testing – provided by our residence – shows some infections among those in independent living. We have curtailed some socializing activities, and the whole community was tested again this week.
    It is a great sadness that we had to cancel plans to celebrate the birthdays of our daughter and granddaughter - both born on Jan. 6 - because our granddaughter was exposed while babysitting and tested positive two days ago. So it's 10 days of isolation her and no party for any of us.
     I contend the prospects for 2022 are promising, and omicron is apparently not as deadly as previous variants. If the strain brought to hospitals by the unvaccinated people who get seriously ill – imagine that! – eases, I may yet be able to get my knee replaced. Meanwhile we seek other ways to ease or relieve the pain and discomfort. I'm leaning on a stylish walking stick as needed. (It's not a "cane," that's for wheezy, crabby old guys.)
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 06, 2022, 01:02:24 PM
Big lies about the winner of the presidential election having in some way stolen the election did not begin at the end of 2020. Nor did attempts to overthrow the election results. In 2016, the big lie was that Trump and his campaign had colluded with the Russians to steal the election and that Trump was not the legitimate president. A couple of years of extensive investigation by the special counsel later and while Russia apparently did try to interfere, it was not successful, and Russia did so without the collusion of Trump or his allies. Meanwhile we were treated to weekly or daily updates on the investigation with constant assurances that we were only days away from the revelation of the smoking gun that would prove Trump's guilt and get him removed from office.


As attempts to reverse the election go, the Democrats' efforts were better organized and had a better chance at succeeding if only their allegations, derived in part from a dossier of fiction commissioned by the Clinton campaign, had a modicum of truth to it. The Trump followers on Jan. 6, 2021, caused damage and could have done more and their actions were criminal and deplorable, but they had no realistic hope of overthrowing the government.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on January 06, 2022, 01:55:09 PM

(It's not a "cane," that's for wheezy, crabby old guys.)


Really? I used a cane for two weeks after knee replacement surgery during the recovery phase. That's after I gave up the walker after a few days.

I hope you will be able to get yours soon and that you recover as smoothly as I have twice.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on January 06, 2022, 03:26:22 PM
I have recovered--twice-from knee dislocation and have needed--twice--to walk with a cane, albeit only for a few weeks each time.

First time I was 20 going on 21.  Second time (same knee) I was 39. 

I vowed there would not be a third time so I have maintained the VMO exercise regimen these past 22+ years.


(It's not a "cane," that's for wheezy, crabby old guys.)


Really? I used a cane for two weeks after knee replacement surgery during the recovery phase. That's after I gave up the walker after a few days.

I hope you will be able to get yours soon and that you recover as smoothly as I have twice.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Pastor Ken Kimball on January 06, 2022, 04:34:27 PM
I have recovered--twice-from knee dislocation and have needed--twice--to walk with a cane, albeit only for a few weeks each time.

First time I was 20 going on 21.  Second time (same knee) I was 39. 

I vowed there would not be a third time so I have maintained the VMO exercise regimen these past 22+ years.


(It's not a "cane," that's for wheezy, crabby old guys.)


Really? I used a cane for two weeks after knee replacement surgery during the recovery phase. That's after I gave up the walker after a few days.

I hope you will be able to get yours soon and that you recover as smoothly as I have twice.

Peace, JOHN
I had surgery to reconnect a torn patellar tendon my left knee Dec 21 2016.  Meant I missed leading Christmas services for first time since I was ordained.  I was able to start leading services again on Jan 8 2017, but had to use a walker in doing so for a month.  Learned I needed to pick longer hymns for opening and closing to give me time to hobble in and hobble out.  I also had to use the walker for two funerals--with snow and ice outside at gravesides.  The one at my Old East cemetery was particularly challenging due to the sloping terrain.  The funeral director was more nervous than I was--he was sure I was going to slip and slide into the open grave.  Then Feb-Mar (including Lent) it was crutches and thereafter, on uneven ground, I had to use a cane for another five months.  The experience gave me greater sympathy and appreciation for the folks having to use walkers and canes more regularly.  Hope you're able to have that knee surgery soon Pastor Austin. 
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on January 06, 2022, 05:33:25 PM
Went through the replacement of the other knee 13 years ago, so I know what lies ahead. The additional problem this time is that my wife’s sight impairment and perishable neuropathy means she needs a walker and additional guidance.
Virus-wise, however, we are so far ok.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on January 06, 2022, 05:34:02 PM
I have recovered--twice-from knee dislocation and have needed--twice--to walk with a cane, albeit only for a few weeks each time.

First time I was 20 going on 21.  Second time (same knee) I was 39. 

I vowed there would not be a third time so I have maintained the VMO exercise regimen these past 22+ years.


(It's not a "cane," that's for wheezy, crabby old guys.)


Really? I used a cane for two weeks after knee replacement surgery during the recovery phase. That's after I gave up the walker after a few days.

I hope you will be able to get yours soon and that you recover as smoothly as I have twice.

Peace, JOHN
I had surgery to reconnect a torn patellar tendon my left knee Dec 21 2016.  Meant I missed leading Christmas services for first time since I was ordained.  I was able to start leading services again on Jan 8 2017, but had to use a walker in doing so for a month.  Learned I needed to pick longer hymns for opening and closing to give me time to hobble in and hobble out.  I also had to use the walker for two funerals--with snow and ice outside at gravesides.  The one at my Old East cemetery was particularly challenging due to the sloping terrain.  The funeral director was more nervous than I was--he was sure I was going to slip and slide into the open grave.  Then Feb-Mar (including Lent) it was crutches and thereafter, on uneven ground, I had to use a cane for another five months.  The experience gave me greater sympathy and appreciation for the folks having to use walkers and canes more regularly.  Hope you're able to have that knee surgery soon Pastor Austin.

Those, Ken, are some outstanding tips! 

Related to the cemetery experience, I once had a full body audit by the IRS.  Long story, but my salary was less than $10000 and yet they determined to come after me.  The auditor was a kind soul and began to ask questions designed to assist me.  So he said, "I see you've declared your golf shoes as clergy attire.  How does that work in your denomination?"  My response was that I wore them (which was true) to certain funerals where there were steep hills on uneven terrain, wearing them especially on rainy days.   Otherwise, I said, I might slip into the open grave.  The auditor responded, "That's an explanation I have never heard before.  I'm going to accept it.  Golf shoes CAN BE clergy apparel."

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on January 06, 2022, 05:38:39 PM
I have recovered--twice-from knee dislocation and have needed--twice--to walk with a cane, albeit only for a few weeks each time.

First time I was 20 going on 21.  Second time (same knee) I was 39. 

I vowed there would not be a third time so I have maintained the VMO exercise regimen these past 22+ years.


(It's not a "cane," that's for wheezy, crabby old guys.)


Really? I used a cane for two weeks after knee replacement surgery during the recovery phase. That's after I gave up the walker after a few days.

I hope you will be able to get yours soon and that you recover as smoothly as I have twice.

Peace, JOHN
I had surgery to reconnect a torn patellar tendon my left knee Dec 21 2016.  Meant I missed leading Christmas services for first time since I was ordained.  I was able to start leading services again on Jan 8 2017, but had to use a walker in doing so for a month.  Learned I needed to pick longer hymns for opening and closing to give me time to hobble in and hobble out.  I also had to use the walker for two funerals--with snow and ice outside at gravesides.  The one at my Old East cemetery was particularly challenging due to the sloping terrain.  The funeral director was more nervous than I was--he was sure I was going to slip and slide into the open grave.  Then Feb-Mar (including Lent) it was crutches and thereafter, on uneven ground, I had to use a cane for another five months.  The experience gave me greater sympathy and appreciation for the folks having to use walkers and canes more regularly.  Hope you're able to have that knee surgery soon Pastor Austin.

Those, Ken, are some outstanding tips! 

Related to the cemetery experience, I once had a full body audit by the IRS.  Long story, but my salary was less than $10000 and yet they determined to come after me.  The auditor was a kind soul and began to ask questions designed to assist me.  So he said, "I see you've declared your golf shoes as clergy attire.  How does that work in your denomination?"  My response was that I wore them (which was true) to certain funerals where there were steep hills on uneven terrain, wearing them especially on rainy days.   Otherwise, I said, I might slip into the open grave.  The auditor responded, "That's an explanation I have never heard before.  I'm going to accept it.  Golf shoes CAN BE clergy apparel."

Dave Benke

 ;D
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Dave Benke on January 19, 2022, 06:23:03 PM
This is about a pectoral cross.  For a long time, one of the features of the inauguration of a District President into national church work was a service in St. Louis in connection with the first Council of Presidents meeting after the district elections, in September of that year.  At the service, each District President received a pectoral cross which was placed around his neck.  For several decades the sterling silver cross contained the name of the individual, title and district.  It was modeled after the LCMS Logo Cross (link here:  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=LCMS%20Logo%20Cross&FORM=IQFRBA&id=AF5900043B0B7348E85F7A3240889088642FF4C2), which I believe is still the official logo.  Ralph Bohlmann (+) placed the cross around my neck.

Some of you with more liturgical and church-historical acumen will know the full story on pectoral crosses, but through the course of the centuries the understanding became that the wearing of the pectoral cross came to be reserved for bishops of the Church.  As that term was applied to me, a coterie of pastors would when I was present refrain from wearing the pectoral cross, and there I was with my Synod Logo cross.  So it's been a faithful accessory for a long time at all kinds of events and ceremonies.

One day I arrived for an installation service in one of our boroughs early.  I was the first one in the church parking lot, which was kind of isolated in a sketchier zone.  Out of nowhere hree young men strolled toward me.  One went "I like your bling."  To accommodate, I lifted the pectoral cross up for them to see.  "It is nice, isn't it," I responded.  The young man said, "No, I really like it.  Really, Papi.  I want it.  Give it to me."  Oh.  Three guys, kind of trinitarian in that sense, which is the imbedded meaning of the Synod logo cross.  You don't get "Your pectoral cross or your life" that often. 

But I had a second to look these guys over, to guesstimate their street knowledge.  So I said, "You know, I'm not from here."  "Where you from then, Papi," came the response.  "Maybe you've heard of it," I said.  "I'm from East New York.  That's where my parish is."  All three went, "East New York!!" together, and literally jumped backwards.  That was, and still is, the notoriety of East New York.  And that was the opening for why I think they were actually brought there.  "Yeah," I said. "East New York.  So how many of you have a felony on you?"  All three.  "But you're not doing anything now, right?"  No.  All three.  "Then you should get that felony taken off your record.  It can be done.  Any of you working?"  No.  All three. 

So we spoke about how to get the felony off and to get them on a path to a decent job.  And I prayed with them out there in the parking lot.  The pectoral cross did all the heavy lifting - meaning the One Who hung on it.

Last night, for the first time in over thirty years, I wore a different pectoral cross to a funeral service for the son of one of our Atlantic District deacons. I was thinking about the history in my pectoral cross when I put on the other silver cross, one that went back to my ordination.  The change felt good, and it seemed right.  Something about going out the way you came in.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on January 19, 2022, 07:17:12 PM
WTG bishop!
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on January 19, 2022, 07:21:03 PM
Sounds like something from "The Cross and the Switchblade"
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on January 28, 2022, 04:58:18 AM
Because of the rate of infections in our county, my community experienced another pull-back in activities this past month, keeping groups to fewer than 20 people, cancelling some excursions, stepping up contact tracing. I was surprised at the effect this had on the "mood" in our community, bringing a strong aroma of gloom to the post-holiday cheeriness.
   The difficulty of finding employees still leaves its mark. Our in-person dining with full table service is still just three days a week; the other days are a buffet with fewer choices and the difficulties connected with traveling a buffet line. The servers we have on staff do what they can to help people with physical difficulties or less mobility navigate the buffet.
   Had dinner this week with a resident who was long-time director of athletics at Luther College (has a fitness center there with his name on it.) In his 80s and with some physical limitations, he remains incredibly upbeat and grateful for what he can do and how we are surviving. Good to have people like that around.
   Some of our residents remain wary of "being out" too much, despite the fact that we are all fully vaccinated and have had very little disease or infection among those of us in independent living.
   Church attendance is still way down. I wonder if simply stopping the televised or zoomed services might be necessary to get people back to "regular" worship. The Edina Chorale rehearses with some present, some on zoom. Not the best way to do things, but it is determined to be the safest way. (I'm taking a recess for a while, due to my knee.)
   And about that, my niece, the nurse, says the hospital where I am to have it replaced is beginning to do surgeries postponed from December, so I have hopes that my Feb 24 date will hold.
   I think we are on the horns of a dilemma, because too much "opening" would be risky because of the unvaccinated people and more shut-downs and restrictions induces gloom and depression in the general population. Usually, the reports point out that the hospitalizations and deaths are 95+ percent people who have not been vaccinated. I don't understand why this does not cause a great surge in the number seeking vaccinations, especially since people who are gravely ill or dying are saying "I wish I had not refused vaccination."
   A long way to go, I think, before we conquer the psychological and social effects of the pandemic. For the hopeful signs, we are grateful.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James S. Rustad on January 28, 2022, 10:16:55 AM
   I think we are on the horns of a dilemma, because too much "opening" would be risky because of the unvaccinated people and more shut-downs and restrictions induces gloom and depression in the general population.

That seems more reasonable than your previous do everything possible to keep us safe position.  What happened to cause this change?
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on January 28, 2022, 11:19:07 AM
Actually, I think I still personally favor the “do anything to keep us safe“ plan. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand the problems associated with that and the problems associated with the other horn on the dilemma. Perhaps, sometimes and in some places, the “do anything“ plan is best. And perhaps, in other places, the “whatever happens happens“ plan might be appropriate.
Struggling today with the difficulties and the pain of having my knee surgery postponed for what will be probably more than three months, it is hard for me to drum up sympathy for the ones who are hospitalized because they are unvaccinated. And I feel nothing but loathing for Tucker Carlson, his friends on Fox News, and anyone else who has minimized the need to be vaccinated or otherwise spread crazy ideas about the vaccines. In my not so humble opinion, they clearly bear some responsibility for some of the deaths that are now happening among us.
My retirement community will most likely survive and thrive. Other places, I’m not so sure.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: John_Hannah on January 28, 2022, 11:29:52 AM
Actually, I think I still personally favor the “do anything to keep us safe“ plan. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand the problems associated with that and the problems associated with the other horn on the dilemma. Perhaps, sometimes and in some places, the “do anything“ plan is best. And perhaps, in other places, the “whatever happens happens“ plan might be appropriate.
Struggling today with the difficulties and the pain of having my knee surgery postponed for what will be probably more than three months, it is hard for me to drum up sympathy for the ones who are hospitalized because they are unvaccinated. And I feel nothing but loathing for Tucker Carlson, his friends on Fox News, and anyone else who has minimized the need to be vaccinated or otherwise spread crazy ideas about the vaccines. In my not so humble opinion, they clearly bear some responsibility for some of the deaths that are now happening among us.
My retirement community will most likely survive and thrive. Other places, I’m not so sure.

Fox and their many comrades with influence are contemptible. They discourage people from anti-COVID vaccinations while they themselves are fully vaccinated. That is totally contrary to "pro-life" as non-vaccinated people die by the hundreds and thousands.    :)

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on April 20, 2022, 05:48:14 PM
Was it the Easter Sunday service? Or the family gathering the day before?
Probably the latter because I and six others who were there have felt unwell and at least three of us - including this humble correspondent - have tested positive.
I am now confined to the apartment for the next five days. Feeling some chills and tiredness, some coughs, but no fever.
Rats.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: James S. Rustad on April 20, 2022, 06:59:20 PM
Was it the Easter Sunday service? Or the family gathering the day before?
Probably the latter because I and six others who were there have felt unwell and at least three of us - including this humble correspondent - have tested positive.
I am now confined to the apartment for the next five days. Feeling some chills and tiredness, some coughs, but no fever.
Rats.

My hopes and prayers for a speedy recovery are with you.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: pastorg1@aol.com on April 20, 2022, 09:23:05 PM
Prayers ascending, Pastor.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: Charles Austin on April 20, 2022, 10:05:14 PM
Thank you.
The weird thing is that I don’t feel very sick. But of course the quarantine is not for me, it is to make sure that others - some of whom might be more vulnerable - are not put in danger.
So we wait to see if the virus gets a grip on me or if - after five days - I am not a threat to anyone.
Life with the pandemic. Flying? (I wish I were) wear a mask.
Title: Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
Post by: David Garner on April 21, 2022, 08:52:16 AM
Prayers ascend for a speedy recovery Pastor Austin.  I had it in early February and it was a very mild case all things considered.  I hope yours is as well.