The title is a warning that this post contains lots of bits and pieces. So far they've just overflowed the brain a bit, and the pile is beginning to look untidy and in need of corralling in a dust bin.
I'm not sure what's with the word "authenticity" when used to describe the ideal church. Whatever is present is real, it seems to me--thus authentic. Perhaps "authentic" is shorthand for "a church after the pattern found in Scripture." I approve that definition of a true church. I suspect, however, that what one person thinks that looks like might be very different from another's viewpoint, even if both are sincerely seeking to live out in church life what they find in Scripture. As such, authenticity seems more "buzz-wordy" than precise.
I was riveted by David Beachy's description of Allegheny Boys Camp's approach to education. He stated it yesterday afternoon as part of a presentation on the wilderness camp where he works. The approach is one that I believe would be effective for many students who are not successful in typical classrooms. The staff schedules experiences that require advance planning and preparation. Every part of the planning and preparation turns into an educational experience as the boys help accomplish what is needed. A week-long canoe trip is one example.
Besides the planned events, interacting with nature constantly as these boys do provides abundant opportunity for direct observation, identification, research, and reporting and responding. Finding a caterpillar and eventually writing a report on what they observed and learned from research on the caterpillar is an example of this.
Math is the one school subject that is most difficult to cover in the course of wilderness living. For this, workbooks are utilized. The less mathematically inclined among us might point out that this says something about the practicality of this study for everyday life. (Don't quote me. It's probably heretical, coming from a teacher.)
Last week I compulsively read right through Kingbird Highway
by Kenn Kaufman (someone needed advice with appropriate doubling of letters in names). Yes, that
Kenn Kaufman, the one who has written a field guide to birds. He was once a nine-year-old birder who moved with his family from Illinois to Wichita, Kansas. His first sighting of a Western Kingbird was memorable, and he adopted the bird as his favorite. Hence the title of the book.
Kaufman dropped out of high school in the 1970s to pursue birdwatching. His parents were cautiously supportive of this, but they warned him against hitchhiking as a means of transportation for getting to birding hotspots. That prohibition didn't last long, or at least avoiding the practice didn't, and Kaufman eventually hitchhiked all over the US and into Canada in pursuit of a "big year" of birdwatching. His home base was Wichita, but he didn't spend a lot of time there.
The book is an account of these birding adventures. I could hardly lay it down. At the end of the big year, he had seen 670 birds, and had spent less than $1,000 in the process. About half of that went for two plane tickets.
For all kinds of reasons, I would never agree to such a pursuit for anyone I had responsibility for, Besides the danger involved, I think it might qualify as a misspent life. Much as I value being alert to what is present in nature, and appreciating it, I'm less convinced that seeing something new is worthwhile as the focus of one's life. Nevertheless, Kaufman's tale is an engaging one.
The other book I've read recently is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
by Marie Kondo. I read it because when I first heard about it, I recognized that one of her strategies holds a good deal of appeal for me. She does not recommend going from room to room, cleaning as you go, initially, at least, when decluttering is needed. She recommends getting all of one kind of thing together, from wherever it's been kept, and then doing a massive purge of that kind of thing. Clothes is one example. She thinks this is the best way to avoid keeping more than is necessary. I think I agree.
Other parts of the book left me sputtering disagreeable words. She assigns feelings to things that have no feelings (socks hate to be kept in drawers in any way except neatly folded in pairs--not with the top of one turned back over itself and its mate, and certainly not rolled into a ball). She is also hideously wasteful, seeming not to know anything to do with unneeded or unwanted items except to trash them. She does a spirit/meditative thing before every decluttering undertaking in a client's home, and it's not directed to any spirit I would seek to contact. One other horror she engages in is ripping relevant pages out of any book that has an excerpt she wants to hang on to. The rest is of the book is trashed.
My recommendation of this book comes with some serious caveats.
Over lunch at yesterday's church carry-in, my brother Marcus told me about a meeting he had the week before with his parole officer. Hearing what happened stirred up more indignation in me than it did in him. In a visit with the officer the week before, she set up an appointment for last week. When Marcus saw what she was proposing, he asked if it could possibly happen a day later, since he was coming to town the next day for another appointment. She said no. It needed to happen on the day she suggested. When Marcus showed up at the agreed time, she told him, sorry, but it didn't work for her after all. He should come in the next day. The whole matter was a scenario that makes success very difficult for people recently released from incarceration.
Marcus is working hard on getting his driver's license restored, and is getting fairly close to getting it back (an unpaid fine he didn't know about resulted in a suspended license). In the meantime, someone else has to drive him to work and to every appointment required by the legal system. Right now the appointments occur at least three times a week. Marcus is also working hard to earn money to pay back fines and debts he accumulated when his addictions spiraled out of control. Appointments in the middle of the day don't mesh with just any kind of job. It's only a slight exaggeration to say he has to get to every appointment on time, and he can't get to every appointment on time. He has to keep a job so he can earn the money he needs, and he can't keep a job. At least his vehicle can be usable soon, now that he has four flat tires aired up.
Obviously, it was Marcus' bad choices that set him on a course that resulted in incarceration, and he's reaping the penalties for those bad choices. None of us feel that paying a penalty is unfair. What is frustrating though is that the legal system seems largely unresponsive to factors that would facilitate rehabilitation and restoration. Marcus has a good family and community support system to aid him, and people who offer him a job. I can't imagine how people can possibly succeed who don't have any of that.
A simple phone call would have saved Marcus having to take off from work when he did so at the officer's insistence, and it would have saved my dad having to provide transportation for him. That would seem to have been common courtesy.
I've had my own unpleasant encounters with the legal system, because of a traffic citation. The third time I showed up on time, I was informed that the case had been dismissed. Each time the trip to town caused a lot of inconvenience (borrowing a vehicle, etc.) and involved a long wait. Once I had to interrupt a farmer's market workshop to go to the law enforcement center. Again, communication about the dismissal of the case would have been very welcome. Poor organization in scheduling is another complaint. A whole raft of people are instructed to arrive at the same early hour. Then people are called up one by one, while everyone else waits--sometimes for hours. This shouldn't be impossible to remedy.
Years earlier, Hiromi had an experience similar to mine, after he had taken a precious vacation day to appear in court at the appointed time. He was informed when we arrived that the case had been dismissed. The officer said he didn't know how to contact us. I think that means he didn't want to be bothered with trying to do so. Our name is in the phone book, and he certainly had access to our address.
There's also the matter of the exorbitant storage fees for the place our wrecked car was towed to, with no one informing us about where it was taken.
Did I say I was more indignant on Sunday than Marcus was? I guess it's probably because I wasn't seeing only the small matter that involved him, but was seeing it as part of a pattern I've seen too many times before. True, these aren't really big things, but when I hear of "big grievances" with law enforcement, it would be harder to believe them if I didn't know about as many "little things" as I do now.
Marcus is cooking up delectable food for himself and Dad--something Dad doesn't bother with--and Dad has gained some weight. He thinks his doctor will be pleased. I've noticed that Dad can easily skip lunch, expecting to get a good meal in the evening when one of the ladies in the family cooks for him.
Various family members have had good conversations with Marcus about coming to terms with his experience with addictions and his early life on the streets of El Salvador, and in facilities where he was not protected from molestation by older boys at the same place. He is friendly, capable, and helpful, and a pleasure to be around. Our prayers follow him in these good times, just as they have in bad times. Reconciliation with God is our desire for him.
David and Susanna left yesterday to visit their daughter who is married to our son. My heart is traveling with them. Next April, almost three years since I last saw our son's family, they hope to return for a three-month visit. The baby will turn two while they're here--and will be a year and a half older than Arwen was when we saw her last.
Gary and Rosanna left today to be with their daughter's family in Kenya to help out when their twin grandbabies arrive.
Lowell and Judy are headed to India tomorrow. David and Susanna will meet them there later, and they will be involved in an effort similar to what has taken place in past years.
Wendell Nisly comes back next week to speak on Music and Worship (not the exact title). I'm pleased that this is happening. I think he moved away about ten years ago. Our time as teachers at Pilgrim overlapped by three years.
I think it's time to empty the dustpan and put away the broom. Good night.