Author Topic: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections  (Read 23737 times)

Charles Austin

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #225 on: November 19, 2020, 06:14:06 PM »
BTW, when posted in another place, my “letter” received some kind, “me too,” complimentary responses.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Interesting things on the new administration and religion in the 1/24 newspapers. Douthat column, e.g. Posted link here, but it was deleted.

Julio

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #226 on: November 19, 2020, 08:11:17 PM »
Definitely worth a read: 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.

Richard Johnson

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #227 on: November 20, 2020, 12:21:30 AM »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Charles Austin

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #228 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-
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 05:13:04 AM by Charles Austin »
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Interesting things on the new administration and religion in the 1/24 newspapers. Douthat column, e.g. Posted link here, but it was deleted.

D. Engebretson

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #229 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. ;)
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Charles Austin

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #230 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.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 12:09:13 PM by peter_speckhard »
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Interesting things on the new administration and religion in the 1/24 newspapers. Douthat column, e.g. Posted link here, but it was deleted.

Pastor Ken Kimball

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #231 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

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #232 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
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #233 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.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Randy Bosch

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #234 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.

Julio

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #235 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.👀

Charles Austin

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #236 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.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2020, 03:23:21 PM by Charles Austin »
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Interesting things on the new administration and religion in the 1/24 newspapers. Douthat column, e.g. Posted link here, but it was deleted.

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #237 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.
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Randy Bosch

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #238 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.

Richard Johnson

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #239 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").
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS