What Sunday reading has brought forth

Published 8:29 am Friday, May 24, 2019

Please play with this sentence from the poet Robert Browning:  “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.”

Our home on Sundays has especially become a day of reading.  For many hours, until our eyes blur over, or we finally stop to catch up on more news or sports on the computer or TV, we devour the newspapers.  Why the emphasis on reading on this particular Sunday?  It, no doubt, was prompted since for many months, Sunday was the day that Bud Higgins so often came by for coffee as our guest.  Before he opened his book store for the day, he would often stop in for some friendly chit-chat and was always welcomed — sometimes with his kind wife Carolyne, who even brought delicious home-baked cookies.  Now Bud is gone.  Gone where?  Not for us to know, but on Tuesday, May 14, Bud Higgins passed over to the other side.  We keep poring over Bud in our minds and hearts; Becky wondering what will happen to those probably thousands of books that line the small store on Austin’s south Main Street.  In that crowded space are treasures, rare books, the best of every age.  You missed it if you didn’t spend some time with Bud.

The papers keep coming

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Being the recipients of the Sunday “New York Times,” the Minneapolis “Star&Tribune,” and catching up with the weekend edition of the “Austin Daily Herald,” provide our soul food for both energizing and creating headaches.  The Book Review section of the New York Times has a line in one review about a book that gives a conviction about the presence in most societies about what is viewed as a negative or damaging trait.  It is an overwhelming force, an attitude, a need to be or become messianic or missional.  That could be giving people what they don’t need or wish for!

When you want to change others

Examples of helping you to “convert.”  To re-route your life can be seen at many levels.  The polite, well-dressed couple who rang our doorbell recently — a greeting and then a leaflet was handed to me.  It was an invitation to services at a meeting with the Jehovah Witnesses.  Words were exchanged as I said, “I am a Christian.”  They responded, “So are we!”  End of visit.  I assume the couple went on to other residences — maybe yours….  This visit, of kind, sets the state for a few observations.

What pushes people and groups to want to recruit us?

The drama of getting others to join, whether in nations:  the Middle East, Great Britain, North Korea, Venezuela, the political campaign in our United States, the seemingly secret programs of the Soviet Union, and the recruitment of a mass of organizations is a task to contemplate.

Note:  All of these efforts are not of the same level of discourse; of ego extension, or possibly damage to civility, respect of human dignity, or a bid to trespass on your personal territory.  The messianic impulse, the missionary zeal, the desire of persons or institutions to get other human beings to take sides, is resident to all human history.

Achievement of what is good, respectful and honorable

The topic I have chosen is immense!  I note the Friday edition of our Austin newspaper.  Did you notice a nearly full page of what we may term religious options?  In Mower County there must be 50 choices of varied religious groups.  Most say:  “We have what you need.”  Maybe.

A group of persons, in a state of laughter at a restaurant table, can be kind of a blueprint of our times.  As I recall, their conversation went something like this.  “Let’s not talk about Trump today.”  No … how about the Timberwolves basketball team.”  A choir of No’s……  and then one man with a Twins hat shouted, “Let’s wait for next season.”  “But about my mother,” said one fellow.  “She stacks me with guilt.  It’s about church, although I did go this past Easter —- and I sat with the grandchildren, which pleased Mom.”  “So are you a believer?”  “Not quite, I’m not sure.”  And there was a laughter of recognition.  Then the lady who just spilled her coffee made her contribution.  “I avoid pledge week at my church, but like the idea of a Mission Sunday. We should care for the immigrants.”  The rejoinder was, “My memory is of salad luncheons, pot lucks, and keeping the lawn mowed.”  That seems to be quite common; there should be more. 

If you are grasping what it is that you desire

The thought of this essay is that the world, and maybe you, are being trampled, served a cup of porridge, being abused by all those voices telling you what you need.  You are being coaxed with promises and told that you are incomplete unless you have this or that.  The poet Browning was very delightfully encouraging for individuals — that they may become more, improved, better, or invested in what lasts:  to have a reach.  To reach!

This writing is incomplete.  It needs a second installment.  I’m now making some notes.  I plan to write about the gentle art of persuasion — some guidelines to prospecting for that kind of satisfying value.  My thinking is to offer the flip-side of the contrary; somber thoughts that limit a large picture.

The author F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote:  “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”  Let us say, NO!  The possibility is there to cultivate the hero in the soul; the person-hood that says, “I’ll listen to other voices, but in the end I will listen to my own voice.”