Penrod says that, in thinking about him, one should think first of Booth Tarkington's Penrod, the boy writer, and then of the mighty pen of Martin Luther with its power like unto the rod of Aaron.

A Reporter's Day Off (Fall 1987)

What's it like trying to get a new angle on an old report? What's it like trying to find any news in an over-familiar event? What's it like if you're a reporter and you've got that beat? Maybe you take the day off. Let others do what they want or can.

Eight Days (Fall 1988)

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house and Thomas was with them. John 20:26

Eight Days (Winter 1988)

This is the story of what Thomas did during the eight days, from what came to be Easter Sunday to the day when Thomas joined the disciples and Jesus made the famous appearance that satisfied Thomas' insistence upon empirical verification.

I Met a Chief on the 21A (Spring 1989)

As I boarded the bus at 40th and Lake, I noticed a short, dark, unsteady man standing near the driver. He asked the driver about the Capitol.

A Death (Fall 1989)

Slippery Sam died on John's 45th birthday when Erik was 13 years old. Sam was a gentle, elusive rogue. His haunt was a pool just west of the Atlantic Ocean in the state of Massachusetts.

Joseph's Considerations (Winter 1989)

Joseph did not know Mary very well yet but he knew he loved her. He was deeply attracted by her youth and beauty and he was happy that the betrothal had been arranged. She was from a good family and her parents were satisfied that Joseph would be the proper husband for their daughter. The bride price was fair and that pleased them.

Roman Luck (Spring 1990)

An Easter Story — Matthew 28:1-15

The Lone Ranger Rides Again (Summer 1990)

“I wonder who’s in church this morning?” he thought as he paid his fare. He looked around. There were only a few souls on board. He found a seat, pulled out The Moviegoer, and began reading.

The Pop Stand (Summer 1991)

Everything at Koochiching Covenant Bible Camp near Big Falls, Minnesota revolved around its main event—the evening service. At least that was the way it was supposed to be.

Therapeutic Theological Thought (Spring 1992)

I have been reading Henri Nouwen’s book Clowning in Rome: Reflections on Solitude, Celibacy, Prayer and Contemplation, and it is helping me clear up my thinking and, maybe, by Grace of God, my life.

Therapeutic Theological Thought (Fall 1992)

I hate it when numbers are substituted for words in the months of the year. I hate abbreviations for states. I do not want to think of Oklahoma as OK, California as CA, or Minnesota as MN.

Practical, Therapeutic, Theological Thought (Summer 1997)

Responsibility, Commitment, and Authority are three of the stones that David took when he went to face Goliath. With these three stones, pilgrims slay giants daily. Strength to your slingshot arm!

Acting too quickly (Fall 1998)

Text: “Bodily Exercise profiteth little.” – Paul of Tarsus
Motto: “The real game is the game you are in.”

Practical, Therapeutic, Theological Thought (Summer 1999)

Unsung Heroes. The greatest heroes of our time are people who are not consuming and despoiling the earth. These people are seldom described as heroes in the news. My heroes are folks who do not ride on noisy, polluting airplanes and people who walk or ride bicycles instead of driving around in cars. These persons are often labeled non-productive and I am grateful for the contribution each of them makes to the commonwealth.

Locks, Technology, and Freedom (Fall 1999)

It is good to be sitting here in the Music Cove using pen and ink rather that typing standard characters on a keyboard. I can make the letters as I like, and I enjoy the flexibility.

Practical, Therapeutic, Theological Thought (Spring 2000)

Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom; And it will be a hundred times better for everyone

How Can We Stop Shrinking? (Summer 2000)

In the August, 2000 issue of Harper’s I read: "Average number of words in the written vocabulary of a 6 to 14-year-old American child in 1945: 25,000. Average number today: 10,000."

Practical, Therapeutic, Theological Thought (Winter 2000)

I miss the 1900s. I wish I were writing the date 1973 for example rather than 2000. Does that mean that I want to be back in 1973? Not really, I just pulled that year out of the hat. It’s the 19 that I miss and with it the idea of my life in that century.

Practical, Therapeutic, Theological Thought (Spring 2001)

Perhaps you have noticed a pianist sit for a few moments collecting herself or himself before going into action—before hitting the notes. Once started, there is no turning back. I wonder whether those are moments of letting go or times of high concentration during which the pianist mentally reviews the music. I think it is the former because there is not enough time for a complete mental review. The performer must proceed trusting memory and practice.

Leisure under Attack (Summer 2001)

I spoke with a person the other day who said that psychologists are lazy. "How about philosophy and philosophers?" I asked. "Oh Ish! Another lazy bunch." She was adamant that the state's contribution to education should not be used to subsidize "soft" things such as music, art classes, literature, etc., except perhaps as minors. The money should be spent on useful things—science, business, technological development, medicine, and the like.

Practical, Therapeutic, Theological Thought (Winter 2001-2002)

Those who "measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves, are not wise" (II Corinthians 10:12).

The End of the World (Summer 2002)

“No one can predict the date of the Second Coming or the end of the world but I cannot see anything beyond 1953.”

A Happy Coincidence (Winter 2002-2003)

Few things are better than a happy coincidence. A happy coincidence can be just about anything. It can be big; it can be small. It can be a chance meeting of a friend; it can be a surprise inheritance or relief from a burden or a reprieve of an illness. We usually think of a happy coincidence as a surprise, but it can also be planned.

Disturbed (Summer 2003)

I am disturbed because most of the momentum in public life is headed in the wrong direction. Things are headed the wrong way because the dominant political and economic power values private wealth over public wealth.

When does God smile? (Winter 2003-2004)

Was God smiling when he blessed Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18)? How could God not have been? He knew it would make Abraham happy.

Reaching out--Drawing in (Fall 2004)

Never has it seemed more important to me to reach out, to cross barriers, to break down dividing walls as Christians are called to do. Perhaps one might say that it is a time to set one's eyes and one's purpose on a different front.

A word about abbreviations (Winter 2004-2005)

I’m against them. I do not live in PA or MN or IL. I live in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, or Illinois. Isn’t that a lot better?

Providence and the Blessings of Limits (Winter 2005)

The linguistic root of provide and thus of providence is the Latin pro videre—to see ahead. Whatever the divine part of providence may be, basic human pro videre is part of its fabric. We humans know, experience, and contribute this part of providence.

The Holy Christian Church (Summer 2006)

What do I think when I say: “I believe in the Holy Christian Church?” What do others think? What do you think? I expect there would be a variety of responses ranging from blank minds to particular churches. Some people say they believe in the Holy Christian Church and are unsure what they mean, some say it and are unsure whether they believe in it, others may know exactly what they mean, and others may despise people who make this affirmation.

Question of the deeper soul (Spring 2007)

Some people seek God intensely like Thomas a Kempis, Thomas Merton, Ghandi—millions of people. I’m not one of them, at least not now.

Thinking about two phrases (Christmas 2007)

I recently encountered this term in a review by John Gray of Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong by Marc D. Hauser. Gray told about a bonobo who displayed an “aversion to inequity” in trying to assist a bird. I knew right away what the term means. I recognize an aversion to inequity in myself and I think most humans have it more or less.

Young Turks (Spring 2008)

I don’t know how the metaphor “young Turks” got started, I’ve not checked out its meaning with anybody until now. It refers, does it not, to younger people who act with boldness and energy, and who challenge authority though they need not reject authority if it passes their test? Usually the word has a positive, respectful, even admiring connotation.

The Kingdom of God (Christmas 2008)

“The Kingdom of God is within you,” announced Jesus (Luke 17:21). In certain circles, especially people who call themselves Christian, this statement is said to have absolute authority due to the speaker. Folks who assert acceptance of this authority accept this statement as most certainly true. The question of authority, though, is less important than the truth of the matter. Is it true? Do I have experience of or have in me the Kingdom of which Jesus speaks? Do you? Can you recognize it? What might it be?

Varieties of Grace (Summer 2009)

Most theology students and many others know that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship (1937—1948 in English) in which he described what he called ‘cheap grace’ and contrasted it with ‘costly grace’. He was for the latter. I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s intent and I was gripped when I read his book about 40 years ago. However, I have long disliked the idea of costly grace and I have consistently touted cheap grace because how can anything be as common or inexpensive as grace? I was taught that grace is unmerited favor which is “most certainly true.”

I don’t want to trade (Epiphany 2010)

I remember sitting in the living room at our beautiful little piano picking out the melody line of carols from a little booklet of Christmas songs. On top of the piano to the left on cotton snow sat a little Lincoln log cabin with a small light inside. I put this together every Christmas.

Free Lunch (Spring/Summer 2010)

Why do people say there is no free lunch with such conviction? Perhaps you say it from time-to-time yourself. Of this moral and intellectual failing, I have been free as long as I can remember.

Power Plays (Fall/Winter 2010)

Let’s say you have been influenced by Jesus and by the Dalai Lama and by others of similar spirit, have discovered for yourself how satisfying it is to seek the happiness of your neighbor and you run into challenges in trying to be of help to someone. What you need is a power play. Not everything that is called a power play is one.

Power Plays, Part II (Spring/Summer 2011)

It’s difficult to play most positions. To play well takes practice.

Power Plays, Part III (Fall/Winter 2011)

Have you done your assignment? I asked you to ask yourself “How did I manage to make it this far?” and “What’s working?” Did you note what is working in your life as you function interpersonally? Did you spend some time reflecting on how it is that you have managed to make it this far?

A Favorite Story (Spring/Summer 2013)

Practical, therapeutic, theological thought (Fall/Winter 2015)

Someone recently said: “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Not bad. I’ve heard that said before. Easy to see the truth in it. I can hold out for something “perfect” and end up getting nothing.

Descartes error? (Fall/Winter 2016)

The admirable Rene Descartes realized that the human mind, his and ours, everybody included, is filled with misinformation, false claims, errors, and a lot of BS.

Life, prosperity, health (Spring/Summer 2018)

The mystery of life and personality remains and always will. It is life. Life is always on the move and cannot be captured. Our bodies of needs and urges and ultimately death that make our existence possible, quite graciously make themselves subject to our minds; we are conscious, and we live in the independence of personal life and freedom. Amazing. Astonishing. Improbable! And, yet, there it is. Here it is.

Fearlights (Fall/Winter 2018)

Is there anyone who would debate the assertion that much human activity is guided by fear? I’m not saying that is bad. After all, it has been proclaimed that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Practical, Therapeutic, Theological Talk (Fall/Winter 2019)

Guys don’t always appreciate their wives as they ought. Your wife might not be Eve but you’re not Adam either. None of us are of the stature of Adam when God presented Eve to him. I speak no ill of us fellows today; still it’s important for perspective.

God’s Parenting Experience (Spring/Summer 2020)

Let’s ponder “how come?” Let the stories roll. (Spring/Summer 2022)

“Why?” “How come?” These questions arise in us at an early age. Many people, parents in particular, have experienced a persistent child’s endless “why?” My friend, Tom Condon, can probably tell us a lot more as to when and how children begin to ask these questions. You and I have our own experiences as data. Remembering and reflecting on how we came into the light of consciousness is revealing and rewarding and interesting. If we are fortunate, we can gather additional data by observing and by being with children.

Gratitude (Fall/Winter 2022)

Most everybody knows that gratitude gives a person a lift. There are good formulas for creating the feeling of gratitude in which one can bask. For example, you smile, you give thanks for three good things in your life and the day goes better. Juices flow. People through the ages have understood how that orientation works and felt grateful long before the juices fueling gratitude—the neurotransmitters got names like dopamine and also before people saw diagrams of firing neurons. I laugh—another good thing—laughter. Fire away baby! Let those synapses chime. I laugh again. Let the gratitude flow for their good work.