Prairie View

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's Out

Today's Hutchinson News carries a 2-page spread by Pilgrim Christian High School students where I teach. Find a paper and see it at its best there. If that isn't possible, see it here.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Getting the Drift

Over the past few years, I have heard from others and have experienced myself the sad results of having changing agricultural practices exert a serious negative effect on home gardens.  I speak, of course, of spray drift from chemicals which are applied on fields.  The two most commonly sprayed chemicals are glyphoste (e. g. Roundup) and 2,4-D.  Roundup kills all foliage it comes in sufficient contact with (except some genetically modified field crops), and 2,4-D kills broadleaf plants.  Herbicide damage to garden crops has been identified repeatedly by local professionals trained in horticulture.

Two sites that give a good bit of information on the problem are these.  One records the court proceedings in a case where a commercial fruit and vegetable farmer had crop damage which a professional identified as having been caused by herbicide spray.  The other is a document about how to avoid causing such damage.

One of the "wild cards" in the process of using herbicides in fields is the fact that 2, 4-D, when the temperature is high enough, can re-volatilize if it has not been completely absorbed, or, in other words, can re-form into vapor or droplets.  Once having re-entered the air above a field, it can be carried elsewhere by winds, and can damage susceptible vegetation in other places.

Here is information about drift from one expert named Foster, who weighed in on the court case:   "He estimated that the temperature had to be 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. He also estimated that vapor drift would occur within two-to-three days of application. Based on his past observations, Foster opined that vapor drift could go at least one mile, and particle drift could go further."

In the other document, three factors (out of 16) were found to be the most significant in determining the level of damage due to wind drift.  

1.  Wind speed.  Never spray when the wind speed exceeds 10 MPH.

2.  Boom height.  Keep the spray emergence low to the ground.

3.  Distance downwind.  I'm sure this is obvious.  Don't apply spray close to plants you don't want to damage or kill.

The above parameters stack up like this, as I see it, if avoiding unintended damage is the goal:

1.  Don't ever spray if the wind speed exceeds 10 MPH.

2.  If there is any vegetation within a mile (or more) that shouldn't die, don't spray if the temperature will exceed 80-85 degrees any time within the next three days, especially if the wind in the same time period will exceed 10 MPH.

Any Kansas farmer will know that meeting the above conditions within the narrow window of time in which spraying is timed properly for the field crop is a tall order.  For a farmer who has hundreds of acres to spray,  getting over all of them in that time window is even less doable.  Which all comes back to the question of ethical conduct in relation to farm size and farming practices.  Farming "big" and adopting chemical-dependent farming methods is not an automatic gain for everyone, in my opinion.  At some point, for me, it would become a red-line moral issue.

Farmers  may argue that earning a decent living demands such methods, and producing cheap food is a benefit to many people.  We'll put aside any arguments for the time being on whether food that is genetically modified or laced with chemicals is a great benefit to many people.  Of this I am certain:  home gardeners who are working hard to grow safe and sufficient food to feed their own families or to share with their neighbors deserve great respect, and will appreciate all the consideration their farming neighbors can muster.  

Last week in my food production class I suggested that students form a habit of praying about their gardening practices, and allowed that what God makes possible for an individual gardener at any particular time may look different at another time or for another person.  I acknowledged that my own ideals have not always been matched in my practice.  I would be greatly reassured if I knew that all our farming neighbors formed a praying habit regarding their practices.  A humble learner's stance goes a long way in this matter.  


Comment on "A Different Breed"

I attempted to post a comment on the original post, after someone else commented.  Possibly due to a power blink, the comment failed to post and was lost.  This time I'm putting it here.

The most thought-provoking aspects of the discussion for me were these:

1.  Loss of the two-kingdom concept.  I believe the two-kingdom concept to be foundational in Christianity and in Mennonite Anabaptism.  Hanging on to this understanding is critical, I believe, and I’m not sure that this is still universally understood among Beachys.

2. Lack of intellectual discipline.  As a teacher, I expend a great deal of effort trying to counter this tendency, and I would really hate to see intellectually undisciplined activity become a trend.  I’d really like to know that other Beachys share this vision and exert effort in this direction.

3. Having fun.   Staging the music event took a lot of time and effort.  For what?  I can’t come up with a satisfying answer.  In general, Beachys have more leisure time and more money than was the case earlier.  I’m not convinced that ever-more-novel ways of having fun are good uses of time and money.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Their Own Breed

Have you ever read a description of your own church as perceived by people from similar groups in  different locations?  One person on MennoDiscuss (MD) described Kansas Beachys as "their own breed."  That's not all.  The same person said that when he grows up, he wants to be just like David L. Miller.  He insisted that he was serious.  I'm sure my 86-year-old dad would be surprised by this adulation.

The trigger for all the comments in the "Beachy Music" thread (under the more general "Music" topic) was a locally-produced youtube music video with a "Small-Town Beachy Man" title.  It was an attempt to parodize an Alan Jackson song.

People who saw the video assumed they were seeing local Beachys in the performance--which wasn't actually the case.  No one I saw in the video is a member of a local Beachy church.  Most of them attend a BMA church, and are from one family, and a few of the non-musicians in the video were young men from other states who were Choice Books volunteers here for a period of time.  Most of the comments on the thread were made in 2012.  The fact that I didn't see them till now tells you that I'm not an overly faithful MD follower, and perhaps that I wasn't overly smitten with the original video, or that I felt compelled to hear people's reaction to it.

The randomness of the selected comments below will reveal that I didn't take the time to organize them very well.  I did lift them in the order in which they appeared, but great swaths of text were omitted.  The original document went on for eight MennoDiscuss pages.  I picked out what spoke directly about Beachys or Kansas Beachys or other bits that interested me.  People can choose their MD identities, and I know the actual identities of only a few of the people who posted.  Please excuse the variation in the fonts--a hazard of cutting and pasting text.

Here are some of the comments:

Peregrino:  I had no idea Beachys anywhere used instruments.

ernie:  . . . more and more Beachys are allowing instruments.

Valerie:  I have a good friend who's Beachy (formerly, Old Order Amish) and he told me some months ago, that there was music the youth were getting into that was causing quite a stir and possibly leading to a split. . . .  I sent it to my eastern orthdox friend who used to be an Amish school teacher (sent to a few friends, actually) and he was kind of upset about it feeling like Beachy's were going the way of the world if this is the example of their direction-guess there will be lots of viewpoints on it.

Hillperson:  Beachy's are more varied than most denominations. 

While most keep a very conservative front they really are quite opened minded.

anabaptistenigma:  Ernie, I really don't know what you are referring to or how you are comparing this, but I have found this community an interesting study of an Amish micro-cosym that is relatively new, maybe 120 years old, deal with the challenges of modernity. Some of what makes it unique is it's relative isolation from other large Amish Mennonite communities. I have spoken of some of my observations on other threads. I would find your thoughts on it interesting if not on this thread, but maybe another, or better yet, in person sometime. :) 

justme:    . . . not to mention, i need to go back to kansas. i watched the car on the flat sand/gravel road, and it's official. i need to make a trip to kansas. :(

ernie:  We choose our diversions and our recreation. Our choices are not neutral. They say something about our values and our affections. Go ask Donald Kraybill. :wink:

PeterG:  Not at all surprising. Those Kansas Beachys are their own breed, in a generally good way. I mean, when I get old I want to be just like David L. Miller, if ya know what I mean. (Sorry about the inside joke. Read any issue of the Calvary Messenger if you want to get it. And I honestly do want to be like DLM when I grow up.)

ernie:  (This comment followed a request for ernie to explain an earlier comment.)  OK. I will try to summarize the conservative Anabaptist viewpoint. (In many ways this viewpoint expresses my own but in some ways it does not.)
Until recently, traditional Anabaptists have not viewed the words/phrases "band", "drum set", "plain coat", "head covering", "country music", "public performances", "luck", "staged drama", "conversations that gravitate toward pretty girls", "long hair on men", "comedy", "public amusement/entertainment", "printed shirts", and "pride" as neutral topics. They would have thought of these words/phrases as having religious/spiritual connotations. In their minds, some of these words/phrases are expressions of the religions of this world. The others are terms reserved for the people of God. The majority of traditional Anabaptists (including a large portion of Beachy ministers) still view these words/phrases as 'non-neutral'. 
So when someone who is familiar with this religious culture, mixes the two together for fun/humor/sport, the majority of conservative Anabaptist view such demonstrations as stabbing the heart of the two-kingdom concept that Anabaptists have lived and died for through the centuries. 

I found it amusing because of the creativity and the insight into both cultures. I found it disgusting and saddening because I believe God created these young folks with talent and resources that he intended for them to use for purposes other than this. I'm also sad because I know that if they don't see the discrepancies in what they are doing, they will raise a generation that will see the discrepancies... and I think most of us know what such generations do whenever they are handed a convoluted package of values pulled from various religions.

anabaptistenigma:  I came across this parody by some "real" Beachy people. Of course it it is also from those "out there" Kansas Beachys too. :wink: 
It's as funny as the first one. :D ... re=related

(The one introducing the above video is our son Shane.  I thought one of the youtube comments was pretty funny.  Someone was sure these people weren't "real" Amish because one of the guys was obviously Asian.)

ofLI:  While I get Ernie's point, and he made it well, of all the things to be concerned about regarding the state of nonconformity in the Beachy and Moderate churches, I would rank this one rather low. 

I would think a better place to start to address the inconsistency in nonconformity, would be among the culture of fine houses and furniture, second houses, wintering in Florida, and immaculate lawns, a culture of secrecy around moral failure, and a rather strong dedication to the notion of private property, and a lot of political maneuvering, in church leadership and power.

Hopenafuture: . . . I think the sentences I quoted above are EXACTLY the source of the issue you are seeing. OfLI pointed out some places where two kingdom theology has NOT been carried out well. . . . 

PaulJD:   . . . .recognized those KS dirt roads, realized they were Reno county . . . from that co-existing Kansas environment(I really appreciate that coexisting environment, and the friendliness of those folks)

Ragpicker:  First time I saw Beachy youth break out the guitars was in the same area these youth came from.  (He says later that this occurred 15 years ago.  Just for the record, either his memory or his math skills fail him, or he was seeing things that were not allowed in the Beachy churches at that time.)

ernie:  I hear you CB, but the Apostle Paul seems to think that those who take pleasure in a thing are no different from those who are actually doing the thing.
Not all Beachy's are OK with this way of having fun. This means that there is a fundamental gulf forming between those who see this as innocent fun with no further implications, and those who see this as having significant implications.

PaulJD:  Seems to me the Center people are fairly friendly towards computers and musical instruments. And I actually agree with that. As long as they are used responsibly. :) That really goes for just about anything. Where the problem is is my view of responsible is different than the next persons. I don't like the modern singers, and I see hollywood and nashville in a very negative light, so it seems very "worldly" to me when people copy their style(or even listen to their music, or watch their movies). :) As far as musical instruments in and of itself, I think it is extrabiblical to make rules A) against using them or B) against listening to them being used, say, in this way :) 

ernie:  This is interesting because 35 years ago, Kansas Beachy's would have been considered on the conservative end of the spectrum from what I understand. (I use the word conservative here in a good sense in that overall they would have had good teaching, good morals, etc besides having conservative practices.) 
Today (except for one congregation) Beachy's in Reno County are allowed to be on the progressive edge of things if they want.

anabaptistenigma:  Yes, well, here is the irony of Reno County 35 years ago. Not one of the children of either bishop in the Beachy churches at that time are still in the Beachy church. The retention rate of children of any of the other ministers isn't terribly good either. 

But, what is interesting, is that the entire generation who left the Amish church at around roughly the same time, the Beachys and conservatives (our church) have, for the most part, not retained their children in the churches they chose. I think it's probably pretty significant why Kansas Beachy churches might be considered progressive. 

My question is, what causes this? I don't know the answer, except I'm pretty sure it is not simply a wholesale apostasy as some people want to make it out to be.

PaulJD:  Very interesting. Where are all these people going? Away from church all together? To a Baptist church?, or?

Have any of them ever went back Amish or New order(more conservative)?

Hillperson:  If it's a reflection of anything [speaking here of the recording] it's a reflection of the type of music they listen to. Now before you think Beachy's are slipping with the type of music they listen to let me tell you that when I was in the youth group, twenty years ago, lots of kids were into CCM (contemporary Chrisian music) and some of it was quite heavy music. These kids parent's probably were some of those youth. I wouldn't say it's gotten worse in the last twenty years.

Knight-light:  . . . I don't think young people merely reflect what they listen to. They chose what to listen to, and they chose so for some reason, and they don't just blindly follow the non-menno example. . . . I think, from what I have read recently on MD, that some NMBs are attracted to conservative mennoism because they think it's stable, it's separate from american culture, it's biblical, and it's Christian. The reality is the culture is in flux, there is a lot of mix (no matter HOW separate some folks think they are), and parts of it are not biblical or Christian. for NMBs, it's jumping from the frying pan into the fire. (NMB=non-Mennonite background)

(Knight-light also gave quite a thorough critique of the video content by comparing it to the song they were attempting to parodize.  In one comment, he said that he felt the attempt lacked intellectual discipline.)

reflectthelight:  This thread just really hit on some key points for me. I think a large part of my growing up (in my early adult life) came from understanding a little more how much of our denomination is cultural and how much is spiritual. I'm still working on growing up. :wink: Personally, I'm still working on the comment about the beachys being good at being conservative AND open-minded. Sounds great, but can end up being painful rather than the blessing intended imho.


If you're still reading, I applaud your persistence.  


The music Beachys listen to/enjoy/create does not go unnoticed by others.  Here, it's largely inside the Mennonite community, but some who commented on MD are not now members of Mennonite churches, and others did not grow up Mennonite.  To some of them, the official position and the reality look discordant.  I sometimes think so myself.

In general, I like the idea of being both conservative in practice and open-minded in my stance toward new ideas and toward others.  I do identify, however, with the fact that this can sometimes be a painful stance.

We'll never be able to "parse" perfectly what our practice is made up of, because faith and culture both reside in us so deeply that it's not always easy to claw them into separate piles for close inspection.  I do believe we must continue to make the effort.  Being disdainful of culture, however, can be very unwise, since we're not usually as smart as we think we are in evaluating the true worth of a "thing." 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Beggarly Elements--for the Locals

I am in need of more empty frozen whipped topping containers with lids (approximately 8 oz. containers), as soon as possible.  I use them for seed starting, and, right now, everything I have is full, and I'm not done planting.

Since I buy very few containers of whipped topping, I use up my supply in short order.  Thanks to a number of people who have given me theirs in the past, I have been able to use them in teaching my food production class this year, and have used many of them here at home too.

Obviously, I'm not asking for anyone to give me any that they have a use for themselves.  What might be recycled or landfilled elsewhere can see many more uses for starting plants.  Some of mine are already on their third or fourth use as planters.

I think I did an earlier post on how to convert these containers into mini-greenhouses, but I'd be glad to explain it again to anyone who is interested.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Most Embarrassing Moments

No.  Did you really think I would afflict you and torture myself with personal revelations that fit this description?

I'm all for swiftly and permanently eliminating the requirement for sharing such information upon demand, as is sometimes requested during a party--for entertainment.  When done voluntarily, telling about an embarrassing experience can be cathartic for the teller and amusing for the listener.  But upon demand?  Not much chance, in my estimation, unless others' brains and psyche bear no resemblance to mine.

My first problem at such times in the past has been that I couldn't think of a thing to say.  Even if I could, here's why I wouldn't want to:

1.  The most deeply embarrassing will often not be the slightest bit funny to others.

2.  The most deeply embarrassing will usually be painful to recall.

3.  The demand feels disrespectful of my personal space.

4.  Those who hear the story will gain little from it.

5.  I hate being the center of attention in a party crowd.

I'm glad I found a time to say this when it's unlikely than anyone will feel like I have a bone to pick with them personally.  I've not encountered the problem of being asked to tell a "Most Embarrassing Moment" story for a long time.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Nearly Perfect

"I could have listened to him all day," Nathan said, of Dr. Watney, who introduced us to C. S. Lewis in a lecture at Sterling College as the C. S. Lewis Day activities began.

Eleven Pilgrim students and I attended.  Homeschooled students associated with Pilgrim attended also, in family-sized groups.  Everyone came from Central Christian High, and schools came from as far away as Wichita.  I'm sure there were several hundred people present, in spite of the original plan having been to invite 50-100 people.

Being the theater illiterate that I am, I was unfamiliar with the term "black box" as a setting for a play.  As I understand it, essentially it refers to a performers/audience arrangement that is very different from the traditional stage-at-the-front one.  So at Culbertson Hall this morning, for the performance of The Great Divorce, the audience sat on the bleachers at the front of the stage, and in the "amen" corners.  The lack of cushioned seating was a little hard on skinny backsides--lasting, as it did, for about 90 minutes, with no intermission or change of position. In the comfort department, those who had to go to the balcony for lack of space had at least the advantage of cushioned seating.

The performers were literally only a yard away from the front row of the audience, at times, and never more  than 10 feet? away.  Every motion and expression was visible.  The performance format was apparently the choice of the college student who directed the play.

I'm embarrassed to say that I've never actually read The Great Divorce (TGD).  Now I really want to read it.

Dr. Watney's introduction to Lewis' view of purgatory was a great help in understanding the play.  Lewis' view on this was news to me.  Although Lewis said TGD was a fantasy--not intended as a theological expression, his personal belief and the story he wrote seem to coincide closely on the matter of purgatory.  Whatever the case, having a place between heaven and hell on which to focus the action of the play was a very convenient tool for illuminating a host of spiritual truths.

The story line begins with a group of people from hell paying a visit to a place (purgatory?) where they can see heaven.  One by one, they are invited to go to there.  When it becomes clear that doing so would necessitate departure from old habits and ways of thinking, all but one of them choose to continue with what is familiar, even though they know that hell awaits them.  It is during the conversation and interaction between heavenly messenger and sinner that many penetrating truths become clear.

Making the effort to go to this event was soooooo worth it.  Everything was nearly perfect-- nice weather, cooperative  and comfortable vehicle, people who welcomed us (Dennis Dutton and Dr. Watney both greeted me upon our arrival), good actors, schedule that worked out well, good student conduct, enthusiastic reviews in the van on the way home,  and good things to think about.  Thank you, God.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Contents of a "Happy Tank"

Several things that are helping fill up my "happy tank" this evening:

1.  Someone moved cattle into the field east of our house.  I love watching them from my kitchen and dining room windows.  

2.  We had a little shower this evening just as I was coming home from school.  Afterward the wind went down and the sun came out, and the world is smiling with green.

3.  The Nanking Cherry bushes are in bloom.

4.  More of the seeds in the seedhouse have sprouted, including some things I've never grown before--like purselane and claytonia.  

5.  My Jiffy-7s were delivered today, and I got home in time to rescue them from the front porch before the rain soaked them.  If you've ever worked with Jiffy 7s, you know what a disaster soaking would have precipitated.  Oh joy--a pun! (These are cookie-shaped compressed peat pellets that expand exponentially when hydrated.)

6.   I had a lovely email note from a dear sister-in-law.

7.  A half-grown bunny hopped along near where I was standing.  (His days are surely numbered.  Hiromi has been on the rabbit warpath for a full week now, and we have six fewer than we had eight days ago.)

8.  The asparagus spears are visible in the garden.

9.  I heard a bird singing that I didn't recognize.  Maybe it's a new one, and maybe it means I'm just as ignorant as I'm afraid I am about bird calls.  

10.  Our small group wants to come here for a work night the week after next.  

11.  I reread Kathy Hanks' column about Pilgrim again, and am very grateful that our school is a blessing to the Hutchinson News staffers who are working with us.

12.  Our ad sales crew has lined up some sales for the newspaper pages we're preparing.  We still need more.  

13.  I made a pan of strawberry yum yum for the minister's meetings with no major disaster.  I had never made it before.  Now for the three pies . . . 

14.  I found a use for one of those three cream of celery soup cans Hiromi bought last week by mistake.

15.  Kristi gave an effective speech this morning on choosing well now.  It was her turn to present the senior challenge.  

16.  I had somehow failed to clip the Pilgrim article by Kathy Hanks, and I found it in the pile of old newspapers.  I also found the Pretty Prairie High School pages, which are the last ones to be printed ahead of ours.

17.  Some of the tulips Crystal gave me last fall are showing color.

18.  The dainty vinca patch is showing some green, now that the load of Sweet Autumn Clematis debris was cleared off the top of it.  It has leaves about a third of the size of vinca minor.  I planted it when we lived here more than 15 years ago.  Also, Hiromi mowed over and bagged the winter-killed leaves from the two big patches of vinca major, and the green sprouts are visible and perky.

19.  My sister Linda called to make sure I saw the golden-edged clouds in the west.

20.  Dad gave me some stuff he wants me to try on the garden.  It's a foliar spray that facilitates growth.

21.  The seedhouse Hiromi made is always comfortable and full of promise.  Being there reaches deep into the recesses of my psyche and drains away tension. 

22.  Lois and Natasha are doing a really nice job on the "Anja book" display that is being set up for the minister's meetings.

23.  The "Messiah" presentation in Hutchinson yesterday by the Reno Choral Society included a tribute to Anja, who used to sing in the annual "Messiah."

24.  Dan Yoder from Ireland preached a good sermon yesterday.  How could "The Slippery Slope of Sin" be a good sermon?  Just take my word for it.  His daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter live here.  Little Olivia would be worth the trip all by herself.  

25.  Carson is happy again after having pushed up three teeth in two weeks, and after having gained mobility by learning to crawl.  

26. Clarissa is better after having suffered from bursitis (or something similar) in both shoulder joints.  No fun when you've got a chubby baby to care for.

Sunday, April 06, 2014


A month or two ago I was given an evaluation form to fill out about the principal under whom I work.  I put off filling it out as long as possible, and finally gritted my teeth and did it.  I hated it.  He was doing fine, and why did I have to make a decision about whether he was stellar or just above average or average, or (gasp) slightly below average, or (groan) needs improvement?  I usually want to add caveats and qualifications to whatever I say, and those numbers from one to five don't allow for that.

Recently someone suggested, probably only half seriously, that maybe starting at the age of 70, every aging person should agree to have his or her family evaluate him or her on a yearly basis--on matters like driving and spending money and undertaking new ventures or continuing in old roles.  When I told Hiromi what I had heard, his prompt response was this:  "That would mean I'd have only one year and one month to do anything I wanted to do.  I'd better get busy doing what I want to do."

In the context of some of the recent revelations about Bill Gothard, Dwight Gingerich had made some comments on Facebook about the benefit of leaders being subject to periodic evaluations.  I quoted part of what he said in an earlier post.  At that time Dwight also sent me a copy of the evaluation form below and gave me permission to quote from it.  It was in use in the church he was part of at one time.  

From the church Constitution:

"A review of his [the lead pastor's] ministry shall be made each year by the elders and deacons, and every five years by the entire congregation."

"The pastor may be removed from office at a special business meeting of the congregation called by the elders and deacons in consultation with the overseer where reasons for his removal would be presented, The pastor should be notified of the charges to be brought against him before notice of the meeting is given to the congregation. At the meeting he shall be allowed to answer the accusations. A vote shall be taken, with a two-thirds majority required for removal. In case of embezzlement, immorality, teaching of false doctrine, termination shall be immediate."

A regional overseer (whose role is not alluded to here) has a 5-year term.  I assume that perhaps this is the person who would see the completed evaluation forms.

In the form copied below, I have removed the pastor's name and replaced it with a blank line.

Evaluation of Lead Pastor

You may indicate your answer to sections I to IV by circling a number from 1 to 5 (1--definitely needs improvement; 5--excellent):


A. Communicates the Bible clearly 1 2 3 4 5

B. Faithfully interprets the Scripture 1 2 3 4 5

C. Avoids petty subjects but endeavors to preach the full Gospel 1 2 3 4 5

D. Addresses pertinent issues 1 2 3 4 5


A. Sensitive to individual spiritual needs 1 2 3 4 5

B. Faithful in visitation 1 2 3 4 5

C. Available and helpful in crisis 1 2 3 4 5

D. Promotes spiritual growth; challenges individuals 1 2 3 4 5

E. Involves lay people in church activities 1 2 3 4 5


A. Attends well to business matters of the church 1 2 3 4 5

B. Keeps congregation informed of events, meetings, special events 1 2 3 4 5

C. Open to complaints; approachable 1 2 3 4 5

D. Participates in and encourages projects of compassion 1 2 3 4 5

E. Stimulates growth through vision and motivating others 1 2 3 4 5

F. Includes fellow ministers in decision making and public ministry 1 2 3 4 5


A. Handles conflicts and tensions well 1 2 3 4 5

B. Is flexible 1 2 3 4 5

C. Is approachable and friendly 1 2 3 4 5

D. Listens and is caring 1 2 3 4 5

E. Relates appropriately with the opposite sex 1 2 3 4 5

F. Manages his family well 1 2 3 4 5

A.    His travels take too much time away from his church ministry  ( YES;  NO )
B.    I feel like I (choose one:  KNOW;  DO NOT KNOW ) which other ministries _______ is involved in outside the church.
C. I would like to leave a short comment related to _____'s work outside the church:

A. What one thing do you wish _____ would do that he is not doing now?

B. What one thing do you wish _____ would stop doing that he does now?

C. What one thing does ______ do or not do that you feel he could improve?

VII.   How do you rate ________ as a pastor?

VII.  Are you a regular attendee and supporter of this church?  Yes_____;  No_____.

How long have you been attending this church? _____________

May we have your name (optional)?_______________________________________

Are you a member of the church?  Yes_____;  No_____.

In which age category are you?  (under 20)    (20-40)     (40 on up)

Additional Comments:


I remember my dad saying, decades ago, that he likes our system of church leadership for the most part, but he regrets that we don't have a very good way of dealing with situations where an ordained person's ministry is problematic for one reason or another.  I see regular evaluations as one possible method of filling the need when problems are present.  Also, I believe evaluations could serve as affirmations.

Despite my personal distaste for them, I believe evaluations are generally a good thing, and maybe more of us should be open to adopting them in our church organizations, or in our journey toward old age.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

In Other Words

An earlier post has generated quite a lot of discussion, and I'm wading into the choppy waters again, this time in plain English.  I don't know everything there is to know about these matters, but those who know me best know that "headcoverings" is not an issue I typically deal with lightheartedly.  On the other hand, I do try hard not to take myself too seriously.  I laugh at myself quite a bit, and even poke fun at myself at times in the hearing of others.  Also, those who know me best know that I am famously clueless about most details of appearance.  I just don't notice them much, on myself or on others.  Perhaps those two facts will be disappointing to some and reassuring to others.  I hope they provide context that was missing from the original post.

Also, I made a conscious choice several weeks ago, to make more direct responses to comments on blog posts.  I saw this response format used effectively elsewhere and liked it.  Earlier, I usually published what came in and let the comments stand without any additions from me.  My new style was not contrived because of this post.

I'm plucking randomly from the amalgam of thoughts that have coursed through my brain in recent days:

1.  Modesty and ostentation can both be conveyed in hair and headcoverings.  I like modesty better.

2.  Between modesty and ostentation lies a continuum.  Everyone's practice falls somewhere on the continuum.  Movement on the continuum is possible.  I believe changes here should happen mindfully, not haphazardly.

3.  What is visible outwardly is related to invisible heart matters.  We're always guessing when we assign inner motives for outward behaviors.  God doesn't have to guess.  He knows.  I don't presume to know exactly what all is behind every behavior I see.  I can't imagine, however, what would be gained by refusing to consider what might be behind behaviors I see.  I have no trouble believing, for example, that the same outward expression could indicate pain, rebellion, vanity, or immaturity.  Even a proud modesty that one commenter referred to could be present.  I mentioned vanity early in the original post mainly because it was easy to incorporate a play on words with "variety."  At the end, I incorporated the image of the Pharisee, and tried to choose Pharisaical language in the prayer words. In reality, I think what I have seen most often would likely come under the "immaturity" category.  Please understand that "irony" is a writing genre with inherent limitations, especially for someone who uses it as rarely as I do--and perhaps for people who read it as rarely as my readers do.

4.  It's OK to say how things look to us.  That's one of the privileges of being human.  One of the obligations of being part of a spiritual family is to speak truthfully, with love, about what God lays on our hearts.

5.  Any new information we take in is filtered through our previous experience.  If we have felt misunderstood in other areas, we have radar for those whose outward behaviors are misunderstood.  If we have felt pain about excessive reference to outward behaviors, we may feel pain at all such references.  If we can remember our own immaturity, we're likely to recognize it in others.  Previous experience is a good teacher, but it provides only a limited perspective.  Belaboring our own interpretation of outward behaviors runs the risk of seeking solutions where no problems exist.  On the other hand, excessive caution in thinking about underlying "causes" risks paralysis.  Sometimes a good dose of common sense really is sufficient for proceeding with confidence.

6.  The filter that matters most, either in expression or response, is the filter of the mind of Christ, as revealed in Scripture and by the direction of the Holy Spirit.

7.  I believe beauty and meaning is present in the teaching in 1 Corinthians 11, no matter what applications are derived from it.  Group agreement on an application does not automatically negate this beauty and meaning.  Certainly the application can be preserved after the connection to beauty and meaning has been lost, and it's always better when the application occurs in connection with a strong sense of its meaning and beauty.

8.  Finally, another mantra I've often repeated to my composition students:  When you write anything at all, in a sense, you lose control over those words as soon as they reach an audience.   The varied responses to the original post substantiate the mantra.  I can explain what I meant, but I can never be sure what it will actually mean to readers.  If anything here sounded like the mind of Christ then you ought to listen.  If it didn't, you still ought to care about learning the mind of Christ.  I hope nothing here steers you away from that pursuit.