Prairie View

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sundry Sunday Tidbits 8/30/2015

First, for the benefit of those who don't do Facebook or who aren't my friends there, I'll post here what I posted there yesterday:

In an AP article in our local newspaper on how annoyed young people are by spelling and grammar errors, I found this gem: "The survey of 2,052 people showed 71 percent responded that they often find spelling mistakes in correspondents from others."

It was good for a chuckle here.


Our newest grandson was in church for the first time today.  His parents and two older brothers all trooped to the front for the dedication for Cedric.  Gary was in charge of the dedication.  It was a lovely ceremony.

I got to hold the baby during church, if only briefly, before he began to stir and wake and make some unhappy noises, all the while busily stuffing his fist in his mouth.  By then his mother had finished doing the "housekeeping chores" at the back that she could not do with the baby in hand earlier--quietly putting out all the dishes to be returned to the folks who had brought them meals.  So she carried him off to feed him for the third time since church started.

The baby looks really sturdy and healthy (and did I mention cute/handsome?), but keeping his appetite appeased and his crying quieted is calling for some pretty intense parenting right now.   It's a good thing Shane and Dorcas are young and healthy.


The accident involving my cousin Wilbur and his wife Shirley and their adult son Blake is never far from our minds and prayers these days.  They had been in Kansas to stand in for Gary and Rosanna, who are heavily involved in seeing to the needs of Gary and Wilbur's parents (Perry and Judy)--while Gary and Rosanna attended an FB board meeting in PA.

On their way back to their home in Columbus, OH, they were involved in a one-car multiple roll-over accident about an hour east of St. Louis when the driver fell asleep.  The driver had only minor injuries, and Shirley suffered multiple broken bones (especially in her face).  Wilbur's injuries are of the most concern.  He has diffuse axonal brain injuries, and has been comatose since the accident--both because of trauma and because of medical sedation.  In recent days, doctors performed a tracheostomy and inserted a stomach feeding tube.  No direct treatment of the brain injuries is possible, but all of us hope that rest and time will bring about recovery.  In an obviously carefully-worded assessment of Wilbur's prognosis, a doctor told members of the family that Wilbur's injuries are correlative to but not indicative of a good recovery.  I think that means that good recovery sometimes occurs, but cannot be assured.  Diffuse axonal brain injury can range from mild to severe.  We're trusting that the Great Healer hears and answers our petitions on behalf of all in the extended family.

Wilbur and Shirley have been involved in Christian service domestically and overseas for many years.


In a side note to the above, my brother Caleb, who is an age-mate of Wilbur's, had made plans to stay overnight in Wilbur's home over the time of our niece Karen's wedding in Columbus.  Caleb's wife and other family members attended also.  Wilbur's accident happened perhaps only one day before Caleb and his family were to arrive in Columbus.

Karen Schrock is now Mrs. Nigel Ewan.  Nigel had asked Matthew for his daughter's hand in marriage before Matthew died in March.  I don't know Nigel very well, but he seems like a fun and trustworthy young man.  That was especially a good thing when, at Matthew's grave site, in the clayish slick mud of a thawing Ohio day, Nigel and Karen both fell into the mud while he was attempting to help her across a particularly bad spot.  Anyone who can maintain a sense of decorum in the mud at the burial of the future father-in-law has my respect.

Over the time of Matthew's funeral, an Amish man told Nigel that he looks like he stepped right out of a movie.  Nigel had the good sense to respond with a simple "thank you."


Last week, during the week when school started on Wednesday, I was at school three different times.  Each time, I was there in the interest of facilitating the nature-study portion of the new science curriculum that is being used for grade school students this year.  On Friday, my two nephews, Joseph and Andrew, with a little help from me, presented a slide-show-centered talk on butterflies--repeated once in each of four classrooms, using photos that Joseph had taken, mostly in Reno County.  Andrew introduced the characteristics of various groups of butterflies, using Joseph's pictures of members of that group as departure points for his descriptions.  Joseph is 16 and Andrew is 14 (I think!).

The original plan was to use some of Andrew's photos too, but disaster interfered.  The disc on which all the pictures were stored "disintipated" about three days before the presentation, and the pictures were not backed up elsewhere yet.  Andrew had just resolved to transfer them, and had made a few moves to do so before the opportunity passed.

It was a fun but time-consuming project.  Their blog is a good place to see some of the pictures they showed at school.  Even some of Andrew's pictures are there.  The third person who writes on the blog is Andrew's brother Bryant--Joseph's age-mate.


I'm seeing a plethora of  "classic" mushrooms erupting in our yard and in the adjacent hay field.    Despite my best efforts (and probably due to my having inferior references), I have not been able to identify them.

This is the TMI version as I wrote about the mushrooms in my nature journal:

"I brought in a mushroom from the buffalo [grass] patch to try to figure out what kind it is.  The stalk [stipe] is 6 inches tall and the cap is 6 ½ inches across.  The general color is creamy white, with all parts the same color, except for slightly darker scales.  The cap is somewhat scaly, as is the stem.  On the cap, the scales are more widely-spaced near the peak than near the margins.  The cap has closely-spaced gills, not attached to the stem.  The upper side of the cap has some “merengue” droplets on it.  They are not sticky.  The cap feels moist to the touch.  The stem is slightly flared at the bottom.  Some wispy tissue hangs from the stem, but there is no ring on the stem.  The edge of the cap is not completely smooth, but shows some small fissures and v-shaped notches.  The center of the cap is rounded.  The stem separates cleanly from the cap, leaving behind a round hole about 1 ¼ inch in diameter and nearly an inch deep.  The cross section of the mushroom shows the solid part of the cap being about ½ inch deep and the gills being about ¾ inch high.  I started making a spore print (one on white paper and one on red), and will wait for several hours to check the spore color.  The immature mushrooms look like beefed-up drumsticks—a ball on the end of a stubby stick.  The mushrooms have no discernible odor.

Hiromi is giving many dire warnings about poisonous mushrooms.  I told him I don’t think anyone ever dies from touching them—only from eating them.  I hope I’m right because I have certainly touched these liberally while posing them for pictures, etc.  Hiromi even held it up for me AFTER he had finished his breakfast and pill-taking (so as not to ingest any poison).  I don’t plan to eat these unless I’m sure it’s OK.  Until I figure out what kind it is, I won’t know.

I’ve got to get a better mushroom guide.  The only ones I have are not much good—because they are too non-specific to this region.  One is a Peterson’s for North America and the other is a Simon and Schuster one printed in Italy and then translated.  Way too overwhelming—both of them.  I do like the system of identification by elimination that appears in the front of the S&S book—like a flowchart. 

I really like what I see here and might have to spring for it:

The spore color is pale yellow."

I love seeing these mushrooms and can't imagine why a well-manicured monoculture would be preferable to having these beautiful forms spread across it.


On this very foggy morning, just in time, before church, I remembered to check the one remaining yew at the NE corner of the house--to see if orb-weaving spiders had left any bejeweled creations for me to photograph.  YES!   I did it hurriedly.  I still haven't figured out how to transfer images to the computer, so you'll just have to take my word for it that they were beautiful.


I'm keeping a sharp eye out for when to pick the biggest watermelon in the garden.  Today I saw that the nearest tendrils had begun to turn from fresh green to yellowish green, and I think the time is getting close.  I lack confidence in my ability to pick them "just right." The cantaloupe have helpfully been detaching themselves from the vine when they're ready, but I don't expect the watermelons to make things so easy.


I'm having devotions at the sewing on Tuesday.  Today at church Irene asked me if I remember what I talked about the last time I had devotions.  I hadn't a clue.  She remembered, and proceeded to fill me in.   I can't remember the exact title, as she could, but it was something like "Don't Waste Your Cancer." I had borrowed the title from an article in one of the Mennonite periodicals, and expanded it to speak of what to do in hard times.

I wish I'd remember what I said.  If it was good advice I might have benefited from it in recent months and years.  I still have no memory of any of it.


The honeymoon is underway at the new Pilgrim Christian School facility (formerly Elreka and then Pleasantview Academy).  Everything inside looks bright and new, and the space feels extravagant in every room, except perhaps the cafeteria and the restrooms.

I've heard a count of 94 enrolled students in grades 1 through 12.  This does not include any homeschooled students that come in for individual classes.  Perhaps 10 families are sending children who have not had students in school there before.


Lois Yoder plans to have hip replacement surgery this week.


Lillian Nisly (Mrs. Arthur) had surgery in Ohio this past week to remove a tumor near her ear.  Because it was wrapped around a facial nerve,  the surgery required great care.  She is not yet feeling that recovery has begun, but prayers to that end are being offered, and her condition is probably typical for this stage of treatment.


Yesterday I emailed this link to our DLM family email group.  Myron added this link on a related topic.  The first is written by a conservative Mennonite man named David Martin, and the second is from the New York Times.

The first article talks about how the Industrial Revolution changed things, and how conservative Anabaptists have not yet recovered from its deleterious effects, especially on family and community life.  I don't know if we've been reading the same authors (I for sure couldn't say who they are), or if Martin and I have reached similar conclusions from our own perspective.  I don't know anything about the author except what I can see on his Facebook page.  I hardly know where to start in recapping the article.  I especially think he is "spot on" in what he says about how our lifestyle has been affected by men with families usually having to earn their living away from home, without being able to involve their children, or work alongside their wife in child rearing.  Neither he nor I know for sure what to do about this problem, except to pray.  I began to pray about this several decades ago.  I have yet to see anyone of my acquaintance take this problem as seriously as I believe it deserves to be taken.  

The second article is about the effect of applying Adam Smith's economic theories.  The author especially  laments how separated work has become from meaning and purpose.  This is yet another effect of the Industrial Revolution (specifically the assembly line model of specialization), in which many duties are mind-numbingly repetitive, and personal initiative and a sense of ownership of the process is nearly impossible, or unhelpful if one is earning money by putting in time and robotic effort.

Reading both articles takes a bit of time, but is worthwhile if you want something significant and interesting to think and pray about.


This was the last Sunday before my new Sunday School class teaching assignment begins.


 Yesterday in my Nature Journal, I recorded a list of 16 things under the heading:  "Things That Made Me Happy Today."  I won't afflict you with the list.  Just know that I don't spend an inordinate amount of time in fearful worrying.

Good Words From a Brother

From time to time, I post here things I especially wish to process intentionally.  Doing so in this place insures that I can find the processed information again when I need it (I love the search feature of this blog).  Such is the case in this post.

In our Wednesday evening service a week and a half ago, my brother Myron spoke on "The Anabaptist View of Scripture." Throughout the presentation, I was so busy with uttering satisfied, silent ahhhhhs that I didn't get very much written down.  I hope to listen to the presentation again as soon as it's posted on  (Later:  It's there now.)  I'll attempt to reiterate here some of what I heard and remember.

My brother-in-law, Marvin M., give a thorough introduction to the speaker of the evening, which reminded me of some of the things I had forgotten about Myron's preparation for speaking on such a topic.  I knew, of course, that he had graduated from Westmont College in California and acquired a master's degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).  I knew that he had taught at both Rosedale (now Rosedale Bible College) and Sharon (SMBI) in his single days (he got married at 40), but I had forgotten that he taught for eight years at Rosedale, and either forgot or never knew that he was asked to be their academic dean after he had acquired a wife and three children.  He declined.  I had also forgotten exactly what he majored in in college.  History and English literature as an undergraduate, and Medieval (and something else?) history in graduate school, with an emphasis on Christian History.

As I recall, a Mennonite man occupied a position as professor in the graduate program Myron completed at UCSB.  That was surprising and probably encouraging.  Before that, he studied at Westmont , which was known informally among evangelicals as the Wheaton of the West (with its attendant highly respected academic program coupled with robust Christian loyalties). Marvin did not mention it, but Myron also spent a semester studying in Jerusalem.

At Westmont, Myron had some rude awakenings about the nature of evangelicalism.  These insights highlighted a basic tenet of Anabaptism:  how one lives matters, and, by contrast, the popular evangelical mindset didn't look good in the way that it allowed for putting aside plain Bible truth when honoring it became too inconvenient or unpleasant.  He mentioned several instances of flagrant dishonesty among students, with no apparent remorse or sense of guilt.  These people were Christian evangelicals.  A minister who prayed during the Gulf War under Bush the elder implored the Lord to bless Americans in the war and thanked God that the kingdom of light (America) would prevail over the  kingdom of darkness (the enemy).

For a long time I've been troubled by what seems to me to be a decided shift among people in churches similar to mine that lets people who take up political positions feel that they are being righteous in doing so.  I believe this would have shocked and horrified our ancestors in the faith.  I'm not talking about taking up a specific political persuasion, but the fact that political "force" is engaged in at all.  By contrast, the early Anabaptists believed that the Rule of Christ as outlined in Matthew 18 is the proper alternative to wielding political power.  This wasn't a major point in Myron's presentation, but it was alluded to.

Myron listed five main features of the Anabaptist View of Scripture:

They believed--
1.  That the New Testament transcends the Old Testament, and informs the understanding of it.
2.  That the plain meaning of Scripture is the best meaning.
3.  That the key to understanding Scripture is to be obedient to that which is already understood.
4.  That truth is discovered when Spirit-guided communities come together to discuss and discern.
5.  That the Bible is the template through which all is viewed.

In a bit of elaboration on the above points, Myron expressed some wistfulness about the present practice of discovering truth as a community effort, believing that too often the "truth" that is discovered coincides remarkably closely with what "powerful" people wanted to discover before meeting with others.

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

Sue was right.  Ben Schlappig is the professional flier featured in The Week--not my nephew, Hans Mast.  I posted it because so much of what described Ben could have applied to Hans as well, and I thought it would have been fun if The Week really had written about Hans.  Too bad The Week hadn't heard about him.  The people who guessed Hans as the person being described confirmed for me that others saw it as I did.

If I had quoted the little article completely, the fact that it was NOT Hans would have become apparent.  Here is an example:  "Schlappig first got involved at 15, when his parents would drop him off at the airport on Saturday morning and return to collect him on Sunday night.  Now he earns hundreds of thousands of dollars blogging about what he calls the Hobby, and averages six hours a day in the air."


Hiromi sometimes warbles this line from a song:  "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." I don't think he knows any of the other words, or at least he doesn't sing them often enough for me to have learned them.  He might feel compelled to sing it again if I ever start pining for a rose garden of my own like the one I was in last night.

LaVerne and Rebecca invited us over last evening, and we spent our time in the "Anja Miller Memorial Rose Garden" in their backyard.  It was a lovely evening in a lovely place.

The garden was Kathy T.'s brainchild, I believe, and Judy M. and Jo Y. helped mobilize the effort to create it.  Interested people donated money to buy the roses, structures, furniture, supplies, and utilities.  Others donated ideas and labor.  People in their small group from church and students in the Home Environment class at Pilgrim helped.

Laverne and Rebecca, of course, worked the hardest of all (and probably paid the most) to create the garden.  It's been almost two years since their 18-year-old daughter Anja died instantly in a car accident.  For people who were close to the family, 9/10 is the new 9/11--a day of disbelief, horror, and grief.  This year, however, for the first time, people who wish to remember Anja can go somewhere besides the accident site or the cemetery--at least if LaVerne and Rebecca are up to having guests.  They can go to a rose garden.

The garden is located in the spot that used to be the vegetable garden--southeast of the house.  It has a wide-open view to the sunrise all year round, and, for most of the year, a view of the sunset as well.  LaVerne and Rebecca usually spend early mornings in the rose garden.

The transformation from bare ground to rose garden has taken place entirely since last winter.  To the Home Environment class, LaVerne supplied a drawing of the dimensions of the area to be developed, and located within it the site for the gazebo that someone had offered to donate.  He and Rebecca also informed us of several other features that people had offered to contribute--a garden bench, and a fountain.  The class then began experimenting with designs for locating plants, paths, and various other features within the garden.  LaVerne and Rebecca decided on one of the student-submitted designs that I had modified only slightly.  It was a four-sectioned "wheel" with a path around the perimeter, a fountain at the hub, and four paths dividing the wheel into quadrants.  The main path through the garden led directly from a spot on the perimeter of the rectangular garden area, through a path circling the fountain, and straight ahead to the entrance of the gazebo.  The other paths in the wheel created right angles to the main path.

Since Rebecca is partial especially to pink and red roses, we designated pink as the main rose color in two opposite sections of the wheel, and red for the other two.  A few white roses are interspersed with the other colors, and a few pinks appear with the reds, and vice versa.  Outside the wheel are sections for other colors--purples in one, yellow with the mums in the corner facing the road, and peach, orange and coral behind and around the gazebo.  Climbing roses are planted at the base of trellises on opposite sides of the octagonal gazebo.  The back "wall" of the garden is formed of redwood lattice--fairly tall--and fronted with pampas grass.  Other grasses and perennials and a few small shrubs are mixed in with the plantings outside the circle.  The beds are mulched with attractive organic material--shredded bark, maybe.  The paths are surfaced with pea-sized rounded-off rocks in the lovely mixture of colors they come in straight out of the gravel pits along rivers in the area.

One fairly sizeable gravel-covered area contains a fire ring.  Thick marble slabs collected a long time ago by LaVerne's father are to form benches around the fire ring.  A lattice-covered entry structure has been added since I last saw the garden.  The gazebo has low-voltage lights hidden at the top of the walls, creating a soft light inside the structure after dark.  The fountain spills water over huge limestone rocks, and it disappears into river stones--larger than the stones in the path.  The rocks are contained within a border of limestone.   The fountain bubbles only when a switch turns it on.  The whole garden is watered by drip lines.

Creating this garden was a very good idea, and I'm especially pleased that high school students can claim a part in having helped to create it.  A real, hands-on project such as this makes every landscaping lesson we covered far more memorable than it would have been otherwise.  Maybe someday these students will be the ones to initiate the blessing of another grieving family with a place of beauty to retreat to--having acquired skills and experience in this project.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Today was the funeral of Faith Bontrager, who was born here over 53 years ago.  During her entire lifetime she functioned much like an infant, and was totally dependent on others for care.  Nevertheless a great deal of drama centered on her life, and her story sounds stranger than fiction.  Ultimately, her story is a powerful tale of redemption, and for whatever encouragement that can be, I'll sketch it out here.  I hope I can do so while conveying the care and respect I feel for all who were impacted by the events of Faith's life.

Faith was the middle child of three severely handicapped children born to her parents.  Five bright and healthy children also were interspersed with the handicapped children.  During the years of grueling and unrelenting child care, when things could no longer be managed at home,  Faith and her handicapped older sister were placed in a state institution in Winfield, about two hours distant.  This was a heart-wrenching decision, but in most ways things seemed to be working out well whenever her parents visited.

Until one day. . . A small group of officials from the institution showed up at the Bontrager home to deliver devastating news.  Faith was pregnant by an institution employee.  What an unthinkable horror for Faith and for her family, to say nothing of representatives of the institution.  Never was a rape victim more innocent than Faith.  The crime was reported in our local newspaper, without names, except for the perpetrator, and many of us read the news account initially without realizing that the victim was one of our own.

The employee was reported to law enforcement and was subsequently prosecuted and sentenced to a prison term.

Terminating the pregnancy was recommended.  Instead of allowing that to happen, members of Faith's family immediately made known their desire to care for and claim the expected child as their own.  In due time, the baby arrived, perfectly normal, and became part of the family of Faith's brother.  Today that baby is almost 24, a man of God with a powerful testimony to the goodness of God in his life.  He tells his story readily when invited to do so.

Within the last year or two, birth father and son have met.  I don't know many details of their meeting except that I know the son felt that God blessed, in answer to many prayers.

Faith lived and died, apparently with no cognition of how her life fit in with God's purposes.  We don't claim to know all those purposes either. but in a tall handsome Christian young man who's making good choices, redemption has begun.  For Faith, ultimate redemption came this week, when she passed from this life to the next.    


Faith lived long enough to transition to a much-improved setting for care.  At the state's direction, large institutions such as Winfield were dismantled, and smaller community-based facilities were promoted.  Unfortunately, no such facility was ready in this area, so Faith's parents teamed up with parents of other residents at Winfield  and arranged something satisfactory in El Dorado, a town between here and Winfield.  A group of female residents were cared for there by a female staff.  A number of staff members attended Faith's funeral today.  I don't know all the details about who funded the care-giving, but private pay and state aid were both involved, as I recall.  Faith lived there for about 20 years.


Sorting out who is responsible for caring for people like Faith isn't easy.  In her case, it was the family and the state who did so, with the church relatively uninvolved.  I think the church should probably have been involved, but I don't have a clear sense for how it should or could have happened.  In any case, the state's role looks both noble (for helping lift the family caregiving burden) and reprehensible (for the abuse that occurred on their watch).  Gratitude and diligent watchfulness both seem like part of a sensible stance where the state is involved in the care of the innocent.

Guessing Game

Here is a quote lifted from The Week, August 14, 2015, page 10:

" . . . is obsessed with getting free trips out of airlines, said Ben Wofford in Rolling Stone.  A 'travel hacker,' . . . is the star of a small community of people devoted to taking advantage of airlines' frequent-flier schemes, and spends his life flitting between first-class cabins, luxury airport lounges, and five-star hotels. . . . He finds ways to rack up air miles in every way imaginable, including using dozens of airline-affiliated credit cards and flying incessantly on sharply discounted flights."


I wish I could offer a prize for anyone who can insert the correct name above without looking up the article, but as it is, we'll all have to settle for having a fun guessing game--and glory and honor for anyone who guesses correctly (such as is available from this humble blog's audience).  After what I deem an appropriate number of guesses, I'll reveal the correct answer.  

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The Newest Family Member

Cedric Blake Iwashige made his first appearance yesterday between 5:00 and 6:00 PM.  He is Shane and Dorcas' third son, our 4th grandson and 6th grandchild.  Cedric and his mother are both doing fine--a great blessing considering Cedric's 8 lb. 12 oz. birth weight and his mother's petite frame.  Cedric's two older brothers were both at least a pound lighter than he, at birth.

As is often the case with baby number three in terms of personality, this baby has some characteristics in common with each of his older brothers.  He has features like Tristan and coloring like Carson.  That is to say that he inherited very dark hair like Carson (unlike blonde Tristan), so maybe he'll end up looking more like Shane than either of his two brothers.

So far I've observed him as being alert, calm, and hungry, with fairly undemanding vocalizations.

Today is Shane's 29th birthday and Shane and Dorcas' wedding anniversary.  They were married seven years ago, in 2008.  The celebration in the Iwashige household that began 29 years ago at this time of year is set to continue for a long time to come.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sunday Wrapup--August 2, 2015

Since Cecil the lion is on the mind of everyone in the media world the past week, let's talk about him and get that out of the way.  As many of you know, Cecil was shot (first being wounded with an arrow 40 hours earlier) in Zimbabwe by a Minnesota dentist after ranging slightly outside the boundary of the national park where he lived.  The dentist paid at least $35,000 for the privilege of making the kill.  Cecil turns out to have been quite famous and well-loved, and a host of people are vilifying the dentist for having committed such a dastardly act.  Many Christians are rightly noting the moral inconsistency of finding this lion killing so deeply disturbing while the same people often morally justify the killing of unborn babies.  No argument here against that logic.  

As do some who are raising an outcry, I find fault, however, with the idea that killing lions for sport is a "nothing."  It's a $35,000.00+ expenditure, in this case.  That's not nothing.  It's an inexcusable waste of money, in my opinion, an outrageously expensive "cheap thrill."  Arriving at the kill site no doubt took a lot of travel time and money.  That's not nothing either.  

Hunting, per se, is not the biggest problem with the Cecil incident.  If Cecil had been threatening the livelihood of native herdsmen, or if people's safety around their own homes was at risk, the king of the beasts would have needed to be dethroned.  Killing Cecil for money in a guide's pocket, and for one individual's adrenaline rush and subsequent bragging rights is quite another  matter. 

As I see it, all hunters who do so purely for sport are guilty of the same vices that drove the Minnesota dentist.  I don't know anyone who has enough money to indulge the vice to the same extent as Cecil's killer, but when hunters take the life of an animal just because it's there and because the hunter has a weapon in hand, it's safe to say that worship of the Creator is not uppermost in the mind of the hunter.  Something far more selfish than that is operative.  

I can identify with the restorative power of spending time outdoors while hunting is happening.  I can identify also with the need to protect one's domesticated animals, and to put food on the table.  I can even identify with the desire to preserve the memory of a good experience (as trophy hunters may wish to do). What I feel revulsion for is the hedonism that sometimes finds expression in trophy hunting. 

The dentist would have done better to preserve his memories by shooting with a camera, given the fact that Cecil posed no threat to his family and pets in Minnesota and he certainly wasn't planning on serving him for dinner.  If he had stuck with using a camera, his money might still have been wasted, but Zimbabwe would not be seeking his extradition, and his dental practice would still be open.  

Killing is always a messy business. Only those who have been hardened almost beyond hope will deny this.  If we're meat eaters (as people in Bible times were), or if our gardens are being wasted we usually grit our teeth when killing is necessary and do what we have to do.  Neither trophy hunting or killing unborn babies is a necessary bit of messy business, gritted teeth or no.  It's an outrage.  


In our local newspaper, I read an excellent piece by Michael Gerson about the prospect of Donald Trump leading the GOP.  In the title, he predicted that if this happened, the party would fail and deserve to do so.  The entire column can be read here.  

One Trump supporter is quoted as saying "I don't care what his actual positions are.  I don't care if he says the wrong thing.  He says what's on his mind.  He gives honest answers rather than prepared answers."  

Gerson wisely comments on such a viewpoint by saying "This is the cult of spontaneity taken to its logical conclusion."   He counters Trump's communication style by asserting that ". . . incivility is immoral and dangerous to democracy.  People of faith in particular are called to speak and act on the assumption of shared human dignity.  This does not rule out vigorous disagreement, but it forbids the cultivation of contempt and the issuing of threats."

The "cult of spontaneity" is a phenomenon not limited to Trump and his followers.  It's an affliction  that can be disproportionately visited on (or joined by) far less bombastic individuals than Trump, who nevertheless seem quite in love with themselves.   To such people, utterances and actions need not be logical or defensible or right--just present in a flit across the mind, paired with an open mouth or a handy keyboard and an audience.  Well-developed sentences and coherent communication are optional, and disconnected thoughts are expected and even celebrated.

Spontaneity isn't all bad, of course.  When paired with truth, genuineness, maturity, humility, and concern for others, spontaneity is delightful.  Giving the idea cult-like adulation and affecting it in one's manner, however, are not pretty or worthy of cultivation or admiration. 


In the natural world, I'm seeing evidences of abundance of many kinds, and I'm faithfully noting each occurrence in my nature journal.

The other evening after we had a 1.5 inch rain, the air overhead in the evening was full of dozens of dragonflies.  Above them several Common Nighthawks circled and wheeled and glided and vocalized in pursuit of insects.  I heard them again the next morning, and the next evening counted four doing a repeat act.  

Cucumbers and tomatoes are coming on strong in the garden.  

Row crops look good in the fields, and the nearby alfalfa field that really struggled after one abundant cutting of hay has recovered within a few days from its paltry cutting a week or so ago.  It's green all over.  

 Today's news reported that the highest yielding wheat field entered in a statewide contest produced 108.5 bushels per acre.  It was a very small 8-acre plot of no-till dry land wheat (non-inrrigated).  I thought the 90-bushel/acre wheat I heard about locally was phenomenal, and it was, but this farmer averaged 60- 90 bushels per acre overall this year.  

The prize-winning field was located in McPherson County, but the farmer who entered the contest lives in Hutchinson.  He farms with his father in the next county.  The farmer had sprayed twice for fungus, but had fertilized conservatively, based on the advice of a crop consultant who had tested the soil.  This year everything was right for that farmer and that field.  The same field had produced only 16-18 bushels per acre in 2014 when it was affected by drought.


Someone who attends church in Pennsylvania with my brother Caleb told me today that I talk "so much" like him.  I don't think I've ever heard that before.  

Another guest in church was Susie, whose first husband was Mahlon N. from here.  She is unfailingly sweet and capable of making everyone she meets feel special.  

The Ed Nisly family is having a reunion here this weekend.  


Grandbaby number 6 is scheduled to make an appearance within the next few weeks.  When the baby arrives, their (Shane's) family "shape" will look like ours did when our boys were young.  


I'm doing a flurry of fall planting and am thoroughly enjoying it.  The spring planting was largely derailed by school and surgery, and I'm loving this second chance.  


Arlyn N. preached a wonderful sermon today on the "loser" at the pool of Siloam, and made appropriate but sometimes unsettling applications.  It will be available at some point at, although I haven't checked to see if it's there yet.