September 1, 2017 by Dr. R. Scott
The world has been watching you – watching over you – for several days now and the heartbreak we are feeling is enormous. Floods happen. They happen in Houston. They happen in New Orleans. And they happen in India and Asia and in so many places around the world. Floods devastate the smallest of towns and villages, changing lives forever, and every now and then they bring entire cities to their knees. Floods happen because weather is wild and unpredictable. But some of us are wondering . . . is more and more flooding happening (and other intense weather swings around the world) because of climate change?
Floods don’t happen because God is angry with Muslims or Christians or Planned Parenthood or AIDS victims or Republicans or Democrats or any other group we might be inclined to marginalize and blame. God doesn’t use floods to make points and teach lessons to an already fragile and broken world. God wants to put people back together; not shatter them even more. When will we ever learn that God is in the construction business; not the destruction business?
When floods happen God is present. God is present with first responders trying to help. And God is present with people opening up their homes to strangers or volunteers working in shelters. And God is present with doctors and nurses evacuating patients. And God is present with people delivering groceries or medications or bottles of water. And God is present when a neighbor rescues a frightened, shivering dog. And God is present when people like you or me give to Church World Services or the American Red Cross or some other relief agency.
When floods happen God is present with people as they rebuild their lives, saying to them in one way or another, ‘This is so hard and so unfair, but I will help you rebuild and you can start your life again and together we can find a way forward.” And God says things like, “It’s okay to be discouraged and overcome with anger. It’s okay to be broken and sad and paralyzed with chaos. I’m here. I love you. We can do this together.” God says things like, “I know you’re afraid. But it’s okay, because I will be with you – NO. MATTER. WHAT.”
These are the things that God says to the people of Houston . . . our fellow citizens . . . our sisters and brothers of the one human family.
Oh Texas . . . O Texas . . . O God . . . the world is Taking a Breath today and tomorrow and for as long as you need us to breathe with you.
In one of the congregations I served as an Interim Pastor, my service at the church overlapped unexpectedly with service to the community and region. The setting was Grays Harbor County on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. The occasion, and actually two occasions, were federally declared disasters following significant storms and flooding.
The ‘beauty’ and attraction in many ways of this area of the Olympic Peninsula is its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, and its many pine forests as well as sections that were accurately identified as rain forests. The access in and out of areas such as the one in the town of Aberdeen, where I was serving First Presbyterian Church, was along relatively narrow highways flanked on one side by inland waterways, and on the other by heavily forested mountains.
There is the expression ‘perfect storm,’ which doesn’t mean an ‘ideal storm,’ but a storm where the environment, though beautiful, becomes instead a blockade preventing access in and out. Torrential rain (though no where near that which pounded Texas), coupled with winds sufficiently high to topple a high voltage power pole. This meant, in turn, that no one including police stations and the local hospital had power.
Backup generators were useful until the gasoline fueling them ran out and because all of the local gas stations were immobilized by the power outage, there was little hope for access to further fuel.
While phones were still active, I received words of hope from the outside, including a call from a pastor on the other side of the coastal range who asked how we were doing. As soon as they were able to reach our area, I was also visited by two representatives of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance organization. Unexpectedly, I also received a call from the national president of an organization I’d not heard from previously whose sole purpose was to voluntarily assist regions in the midst of disaster recovery.
I knew by observation and personal circumstance that our area was hard hit, but it took a while for the reality to sink in that we would soon be receiving volunteers who had been active in recovery efforts associated with Katrina to assist in our recovery activity. This gentleman with a pronounced Southern accent asked me if I would be willing to gather a small group of pastors, community leaders, et al, so that he and a few others could help brief them/us on what to expect in the coming weeks and months. I knew I was ‘in for a roller coaster ride’ from an organizational standpoint when the gentleman showed up for the meeting he had asked me to arrange along with representatives of both FEMA and the State of Washington Disaster Response leadership.
This led to my being asked to chair weekly meetings, held in our church’s fellowship hall, where in addition to local and area-wide leaders of the recovery efforts, I saw firsthand that a blessing I’d not anticipated was that when disaster strikes and there is an appropriate level of cooperation among various sectors of this society of ours, Federal and State officials are more than willing to cooperate with not only disaster groups such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, et al, but with pastors, priests, and other faith leaders and community leaders.
I also soon learned, however, that the longer the disaster recovery extends (by necessity, not by inadequate planning), the more likely one sees the barriers go up between existing organizations, newly formed disaster response groups, and even between city leaders, versus county leaders, and so forth.
Given my experiences in this context, my prayers are for all who have survived the storm but now have to rebuild their lives from the ground up, and for those who are and will be seeking to assist them even when some may pretend they don’t need such assistance.
Finally, a word about my connection to R. Scott Colglazier. Although we have never met. I feel a ‘spiritual’ connection to him that extends beyond our respective roles as ministers.
The connection is the small Washington County Seat Community of Salem in Southern Indiana. Scott grew up in Salem. By contrast Kathy and I arrived there in midlife. His career has primarily been in ministry, while I was in higher education and private practice counseling prior to entering seminary.
First Presbyterian Church of Salem remains dear to our hearts as the setting in which I was ordained to ministry, and concurrently installed as the congregation’s pastor. We resided in, and were active in the community from 1994 – 2000, and Salem Presbyterian Church was the setting for our daughter’s wedding.
We returned to Salem several weeks back to celebrate with the First Presbyterian Congregation on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. It still worships in the sanctuary that was completed in 1843.
I didn’t expect to be back in the community and at the church just two weeks later, but there was no way I was going to miss the memorial service for a mentor who meant so much to me. Mentors mean a lot in most all settings, but they especially seem to stand out in my mind in small communities. They have an impact on the children and young people who grow up there. They have an impact on ministers, educators, professionals and business owners who move there at some point in life.
The community ‘patriarch’ whose memory we were honoring must also have meant a lot to Scott, as the words I shared in my Still Faith-FULL blog entry about Edgar K. DeJean, led to an e-mail of thanks from him.
May we each and all be reminded that we all truly are connected by visible and invisible threads, and that whether we have high esteem or wonder how ‘little old me’ could matter, we have something to contribute to the world at large as well as to where our feet are planted for a life time, or for a brief time.
Click below to read this article:
Spirituality & Practice opens registration for
a NEW e-course with Joan Chittister
Joan Chittister will provide tools to help you analyze your own stories of struggle. She will suggest the gifts that each struggle can give as you move toward hope and transformation. “Most of us live everyday between struggle and hope,” she writes, “and the way we deal with struggle has something to do with the very measure of the self, with the whole issue of what it is to be a spiritual person.”
For this one-month online e-course, you will receive an e-mail on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week. Sister Joan will share personal struggles that she has experienced, how she dealt with them, and the gifts that resulted from these experiences. You will be asked to respond to the aspects and gifts of struggle that she articulates by reflecting on your own life’s struggles with the aid of a writing prompt.
Also included will be four 15-minute videos by Sister Joan
that will explore the following questions:
In our online Practice Circle, a forum open 24/7, you will be invited to share your questions and insights as well as short reflections from your own work.
This e-course begins Monday, July 3 and concludes Friday, July 28.
Cost is $59.95
REGISTER BY CLICKING BELOW:
I consider Joan Chittister to be a spiritual mentor who, through her quotes and books, has nurtured my soul. I also continue to be astounded by her seemingly boundless energy and ability to write, speak, travel, and nurture others. Joan has a special heart for and dedication to female prisoners and other ‘scarred souls’.
Thank you, Joan, for lighting the path for others.
Dr. Alex Pantelyat, founder and co-director of the Center for Music and Medicine,
talks about his mission with the project. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)
For his fourth-grade science project, Alex Pantelyat compared the effects of classical and rock music on plants.
Mozart, he recalled, helped the leaves flourish. Led Zeppelin caused wilting.
He never figured out why, but 25 years later, Pantelyat, remains fascinated by the relationship between music and health, and the worlds of music and medicine stand to benefit.
Click below to view a brief video of Dr. Pantelyat playing the violin, and to hear his statement about the integration of music and medicine:
Attribution: Rep. Roger Marshall, Facebook
Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall took to American Family Radio on May 12, 2017, to explain that most of the problems in his town halls were caused by people who were “paid protestors” and were UnAmerican.
Marhall’s assessment boiled down to this quote: “We still salute the flag. We still pray when we get the chance. We pray before ball games. And Wamego was the exception.”
The implication that Wamego residents are in some ways bad people didn’t sit well with attendees.
To read more of an article that contains the response of one of those attendees, click below:
Unless you’ve shared your political and/or religious convictions with me, I of course, have no way of knowing how you feel about what it means to be a “True American.” Further, given that there are Still Faith-FULL subscribers whose e-addresses indicate they do not reside in the U.S. of A., entries such as that above may hold little interest for you, and that is fine.
Of far greater interest to me is the question of how it feels to be told – whether directly or by other means – that you are welcomed or not in most any place on this earth. In my case, I am deeply saddened to state that I have felt welcomed, accepted, at times even treated as an honored guest, in the Middle East, throughout Europe from its southernmost parts to the Scandinavian Islands, as well as in neighboring Canada, than I have in this nation. By ‘this’ I mean the country of my birth and the only country of my citizenship for almost 75 years of living on this planet.
I’ve heard the words, “You aren’t from around here, are you?’ many times in my life and can say for certain that such words can mean everything from a being a warm welcome and an invitation for conversation and mutual learning, to meaning ‘and the fact that you aren’t from around here means you aren’t welcome and if you are smart you’ll leave as soon as possible.’
I’ve learned that having a number of degrees and life experiences can lead to being a respected and trusted resource for those without such backgrounds, or be viewed as being irrelevant or even threatening to those whose life experiences and/or choices have led to expressions of hostility to those unlike them.
I appreciate the expression “It’s a small world after all,” and my sincere conviction is that we lose out on so much opportunity for growth and development across many spectra including faith, and I sincerely thank the many who receive this blog who let me know they are open to learning from others, while not being so open as to be ungrounded.
The late James Fowler wrote an opinion about faith which continues to serve as a guide for my approach to it. He wrote that faith is meant to be like a window that has to be opened periodically to let fresh ideas in, while not being open all the time so that anything and everything can blow in. He continued by stating that faith is not meant to be like a window that is sealed tightly so that no outside air or influence can penetrate it.
Dr. Fowler added that too many people treat their faith like they do an outer garment that hangs on a clothes rack until the outside weather circumstances require its use (or not).
Photos Above by Kathleen Parrish Peterson
Photo Below from the Internet
I am thankful that Kathy found the following information on the history of this charming little stone church. I will share that info below, but first a ‘personal historical note.’ Cross Village is just a few miles from Good Hart, MI. Kathy’s parents rented a cottage in that Lake Michigan shoreline area for a week or more at the end of summer and just prior to their returning to their public school teaching roles in Wayland, MI, located about twenty miles south of Grand Rapids.
At the end of the summer of 1965, which is the summer when Kathy and I met at Michigan State University, she and I headed up north to join her family for a few days at “Little Turtle” the name of the log cabin they rented.
Would you believe? that we felt our late summer visits to ‘Little Turtle’ to be with her family were so significant to our relationship, that it is also where we spent our honeymoon in July of 1967 .
One summer either before or after our marriage, Kathy’s mother and the woman who owned the cottages surrounding her summer place conspired (my assessment of what transpired) to have me serve as the pulpit supply pastor for one of the Sundays at Redpath Memorial Presbyterian Church. I’d had lots of religion courses prior to that time, but I certainly had no idea that some twenty-plus years later I’d go to seminary and become ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the PC(USA).
The History of Redpath Memorial Presbyterian Church
The Cross Village Presbyterian Church was first organized on February 19, 1888, and dedicated in October of 1890. In 1918, a fire that destroyed much of the town also consumed the church. The church was rebuilt in 1921 as the results of the untiring efforts of a pioneer missionary, Reverend John Redpath. While the church was under construction, Rev. Redpath, who was eighty years old at the time, worked at any task, however menial, that was within his strength. He also canvassed all the resort areas in the county to raise funds. The summer people, who were impressed by his sincerity and zeal, responded generously. Through his persistent faith and constant endeavor, this beautiful house of worship was made possible. During his lifetime, no thought had been given to naming the church for its pastor. No doubt the idea would have been embarrassing to the unassuming man that he was. Following his death in 1926, the congregation felt that it must be so named.
During the next few years, the lumbering people moved away and the population in Cross Village dwindled. This small picturesque stone church stood empty. At one point, it was about to be purchased for a retail store. Several attempts to reopen it failed, and it became a community eyesore from neglect and vandalism.
Two young couples who summered with their families in Cross Village felt that this beautiful church should again become a living house of worship. Jerry and Ellen Archer and David and Anne Munger asked the Presbytery for permission to reopen the church for the regular Protestant worship services during the summer, since the only other church in the vicinity was Roman Catholic. The presbytery granted permission to reopen the church, and Jerry Archer and David Munger each conducted five services in the summer of 1965. By 1967, the church had many that attended regularly and helped with the worship services when they were in the area. The season that year was lengthened to twelve Sunday services beginning with a Memorial Day service and ending Labor Day Sunday.
This small congregation has continued to grow in attendance, income and dedication. Members of the church meet on Memorial Day weekend to elect officers, divide responsibilities and complete plans for the following summer. After necessary building maintenance is done and special requests and emergency needs are cared for, a portion of the offerings are returned to the community. A number of Cross Village college students are awarded scholarships each year to further their education. We have no formal pledges and a very informal organizational structure.
The congregation is comprised of many summer residents who are active in their home churches during the winter, but take part in the life of this church when they are vacationing in the area. Current residents of Cross Village, retired and young couples who have recently moved into the area and visitors of members also attend services. Those who pass by and are intrigued with the uniqueness of this church are welcome to worship at Redpath.
Lay people as well as occasional guest speakers conduct worship services. Following the service on Sunday, there is a coffee hour at the church or in a home or nearby cottage of one of the members. The term “church family” describes this small group of dedicated people who are endeavoring to do God’s will by providing a place of worship, a source of spiritual strength, fellowship and friendship.
We ask God’s continued blessing on this little church and all that worship here.
Received as part of an online chat
among friends regarding the
times in which we live.
I have to admit that I was initially attracted to this painting for the historical style of the furnishings. For years, I taught the History of Interior Design at the college and university level. I have a very fond connection to traditional furnishings which goes back years to when I was a child. The ladder back arm chair and the gallery desk and cabinet above it are the “stuff” of relaxed traditional interiors. The red oriental rug on the floor is appropriate to this type of setting, as it can be in most settings. The red and white striped pillow pulls the eye down to a corner of the rug for further sketchy color duplication and strengthening of the painting as well as the room.
I must admit to not being very fond of the yellow/green wall color (a personal choice), but the artist renders it very well, leaving colors and shadows unblended, almost sketchy, which is appropriate for the impressionist style of painting.
The Impressionist style is not a style of art which appears laboriously overworked or definitive. It is a style which does, however, tell the story sufficiently well that finite detail does not need to be included because it is “hinted at” or, “recognizable” enough to tell the story, as seen in this painting of an interior. Note the undefinable white accessories on the desk top. We can see them there, but we can’t tell exactly what they are, and that is the point.
Interestingly, the impressionist style of painting is very difficult to master. I have never been able to master it because all my eye sees is detail, and all my hand tells me is that it wants to show detail ! Artists practice for long periods of time before they feel as though they have mastered the Impressionist style.
Since Interior Designers, by definition, are detail oriented given that we must be, to be successful in the practice of Interior Design, they likely struggle perhaps more so with the style than their fine artist colleagues.
For comparison’s sake, I have also included an example of the kinds of paintings interior design students and practitioners use to show their clients what their design intentions are for a particular space. There are miles of differences between the Impressionist style, and the watercolor definition of this highly detailed painting of a floor plan. I am hoping that this helps readers see the vast differences between the two artistic styles of showing interior design ideas, either in a perspective view of a room, and a floor plan view, to adequately communicate a designer’s intentions for a particular room.
Floor Plan: One King’s Lane
It is a complex world in each style, but not one I feel is better or worse than the other, just very different, for vastly different reasons.
It would be accurate to state that the second level of our home has been a mess for several weeks now, and to use that as an ‘excuse’ for having to ask for your patience related when delivery is not timely for releases you’ve come to expect at a certain time, on a certain day, related to Still Faith-FULL. I state this because with our home in Mansfield Kathy has had yet one more opportunity to remodel the interior of ‘the perfect home she wanted to change.’ <vbg>
In this change has meant – and continues to mean – that on a daily basis Monday through Friday one or more workmen are banging, sawing, removing, and then moving from demolition to new construction in our kitchen on the main level and both the master and hall bathrooms upstairs. As with all of Kathy’s design projects, the results will be stunning, but in the interim, well let’s just say it is important to turn on a light before going to the bathroom, and remembering which bathroom has a working toilet, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.
Not directly related to the remodeling project, but it might as well be, we have also just changed providers for the internet services we rely on to correspond with you and to create Still Faith-FULL for release. That has so far not created the noise or the mess associated with what else is going on, but it has meant that yesterday I was using the Wi-Fi at Panera and this morning the Wi-Fi at a local area Hampton Inn (in their business center with not just the receptionist’s pemisson but with a key card to let me in the center as well. Woo Hoo!!!
However, in this venturing here and there to do what up until yesterday I could do without leaving home, I’ve learned that a) my laptop is now a relic that may or may not be redeemable, and b) even with access to a desktop computer at the Hampton I keep getting bumped off the site I’m working with, or other variations which combined have led me to compose this e-message requesting your patience should the Associate Editor’s Choice entry not appear tonight (though it will be released as soon as some normalcy returns to the Peterson internet world), and correspondence may not be replied to in a timely manner.
A theological insight in all this chaos, is the following:
If lack of access to the internet in one’s home can lead to this much disruption and search for alternative ways to cope, imagine what it must mean to be homeless and/or even a refugee from one’s own country without as yet a clear picture of when or if life will resume some sense of normalcy.
GOD’S GLORY IS THE
“God’s glory is the human being fully alive,” said
Iranaeusin the second century. In the photo above
of Christ ascending, imagine the Christ in you as
fully alive – reaching outward into the infinity of
space and time – reaching downward into the earthy
dust of this finite life.
To live fully alive involves tension linking heaven and
earth in us as Christ’s body. In parenting or mentoring
we become the Paradox: present though absent.
In John 14:27, Jesus is quoted as saying “It is to your
advantage that I go away.”
Ponder some times when leaving another you may
have paradoxically become more present in their life.
Upon initially receiving and viewing this entry from Kent Ira
Groff, I found that I was more turned off than I was inspired
by his photo of the sculpture. However, upon continued
viewing, while concurrently seeking to ‘turn off’ my critical
mind and ‘turn on’ my open and non-judgmental mind, I
began to experience the power of the piece.I was, in turn, reminded that when, as a 19 year-old, I was
both ecstatic to have the privilege of being physically
present in the multiple and radically diverse cultures of
27 different countries, and was being exposed to a wide
range of ethnicities and religious convictions, I had to
sometimes literally force myself to stay present and to
be open to learning ways of living and thinking and
believing that were so different from what I’d up-to-
that-time considered to be ‘my-kinds of people,’ and
As someone previously immersed in a literalist (.i.e,
Thus, after traveling a long and winding road,
The design for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s
Jackson Park was unveiled May 3, 2017.
Source: Chicago Tribune
Barack and Michelle Obama on Wednesday offered the first look at the design of the planned Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park -a campus of three buildings highlighted by an eye-catching museum, whose height and splaying walls would make a bold architectural statement.
Calling it a “transformational project for this community,” the former president said he and Michelle Obama envisioned a vibrant setting that would be akin to Millennium Park – a destination for those drawn to the presidential center and the park itself. But to achieve this, the plans call for closing Cornell Drive, a major access route used by thousands of commuters a day.
“It’s not just a building. It’s not just a park. Hopefully it’s a hub where all of us can see a brighter future for the South Side,” he told an audience of about 300 political and community leaders at the South Shore Cultural Center. It will also become, the Obama Foundation said, the first completely digital presidential library, with no paper records stored on site.
The museum, housing exhibition space as well as education and meeting rooms, will be the tallest of the three structures, reaching as high as 180 feet. It will be clad in a light-colored stone and will serve as a “lantern” for the complex.The library, though, will not contain Obama’s paper records. Instead, it will be the first presidential library to fully digitize a president’s unclassified records.
Click below to continue reading this article:
On a recent warm spring day, I just couldn’t help myself. I
had been looking out my study window at our neighbor’s tree
in full bloom, and I just had to wander outside with my camera
to take this shot of their glorious blooms, draping over the
I hate to admit I don’t know what these blooms are because that
is not an area of my expertise. What I do know is that I loved the
juxtaposition of the Maple tree in the background leafing out, the
directions the close-up branches were pointing, and the very blue
sky with thin white clouds. A perfect Spring day, in my estimation.
Because I am not a lover of winter, Spring takes on new meaning
for me each year. This is the time of remembrances of my Grand-
mother who taught me my love of spring flowers, painting them,
cutting them for bouquets, and enjoying her screened in porch
for wonderful conversation. And now I am blessed with similar
scenes so, of course, I think of her and my Grandfather.
Spring is also a time of renewal, of coming back to life, of anticipation
of lazy summer days on my screened-in porch. It is amazing to me
how our brains retain those vivid memories and how we seek out
places to repeat them as closely as we can, just because we
cherish those memories.
My grandmother died on the first day of Spring in 1975, on the same
day as a dear friend’s birthday. My grandfather died the same year,
on the birthday of our grandsons who are now ten. All seems to go
around and come around again, to celebrate life, its having been
lived well because of my connection to my grandparents and, now,
to our grandsons.