Turing Tested, NOT Approved

Dearest Rachel – The weird thing about this morning’s letter, was that I barely covered the topic I’d originally set out to discuss with you. I kind of got sidetracked by the fact that up until now I hadn’t talked much about certain things you enjoyed, simply because I didn’t really share your enthusiasm forContinue reading “Turing Tested, NOT Approved”

Dealing With It All

Dearest Rachel – I apologize for giving short shrift to a number of the things that you loved so much; the things that very much defined you, but I wasn’t nearly as into myself, and so I’ve paid little attention to since. I’m sure I’ll go on quite a bit in the next two orContinue reading “Dealing With It All”

Yes, It Is; No, I’m Not

Dearest Rachel – I’ve known about this for the past two weeks, although I haven’t really bothered to actually watch it. But there it is; or more to the point, there I am. When Dinu saw me after the service Saturday evening, he had to ask whether that was really me or not, and IContinue reading “Yes, It Is; No, I’m Not”

from Rachel: Made for a Mission

Question to consider: What fears have kept me from fulfilling the mission God made me to accomplish? What keeps me from telling others the Good News? “5/25 “My fears when I consider discussing my faith start with a panicky nervousness that makes my throat feel tight like I may not be able to speak atContinue reading “from Rachel: Made for a Mission”

And So It Continues…

Dearest Rachel – It’s tricky writing to you from the A/V booth, especially during rehearsal. Never mind the fact that dictating to Siri is basically impossible (and even if I tried to do it, it would still be kind of rude); I basically need to be reacting to the band’s needs at any given momentContinue reading “And So It Continues…”

Peering Through the Fog

Dearest Rachel – I promise to keep comments on current events to a relative minimum going forward, but right now, that’s most of what’s going on. This is bigger than much of what we’ve dealt with personally throughout our lives: to not address what’s happening, even though it’s on the other side of the world,Continue reading “Peering Through the Fog”

Brilliant Unconcern

Dearest Rachel – Well, it’s on. I feel like I was keeping you out of the loop, dwelling on my own problems yesterday, rather than focusing on the big picture as tanks roll into Ukraine and explosions rock the country from Kharkov to Kiev, and so many unpronounceable places in between. Of course, in termsContinue reading “Brilliant Unconcern”

Painful Repairs

Dearest Rachel – For what it’s worth, I didn’t spend a lot of time at the ‘office’ today. After talking about it for some weeks, the day is finally here, and Dad is going to have his cataract surgery. Surprisingly, he’s not all that nervous about it; personally, I’d be an absolute wreck. The mereContinue reading “Painful Repairs”

One Last Laundry

Dearest Rachel – They’ve been sitting around in the folks’ basement, and I’ve been meaning to do something about it them for some time. But every time I think about it, I’m away from my computer, and by the time I come back to the computer, it’s completely slipped my mind all over again. ButContinue reading “One Last Laundry”

The Unboxing… and Reboxing

Dearest Rachel – Admittedly, it sounds like one of those things from ‘Scenes From A Hat’ on Whose Line Is It, Anyway? But hey, here goes… “Hi, and welcome to my unboxing video!” Yeah, it sounds wrong in that context, doesn’t it? But here we are. I’ve gotten, supposedly, a kit for me to collectContinue reading “The Unboxing… and Reboxing”

The Volatile Speed of Thought

Dearest Rachel – I fell asleep in the rocking chair while watching YouTube videos with Daniel last night. That hardly counts as news, of course, but it leads to certain… issues… that affect the rest of the night. Because eventually, I find myself waking up only a little later than I would otherwise be goingContinue reading “The Volatile Speed of Thought”

The Bitter Taste of Flavor-Aid

Dearest Rachel – I mentioned that the story of my conversion is ridiculously unremarkable; in comparison, it seems like almost everyone I know at church has a turnaround moment in their life that is leagues more dramatic than mine. Even you, while brought up in the church so as to have a faith-based anchor inContinue reading “The Bitter Taste of Flavor-Aid”

Aniki no Yuutsu

Dearest Rachel – So, yesterday morning, as part of the Sunday service, our worship pastor, Jansen, was ordained. It’s something of a requirement for pastoral staff and elders (as you well know, since I went through the same theological training in those last few years before your accident, although I wasn’t required to write aContinue reading “Aniki no Yuutsu”

Distance and Silence

Dearest Rachel – Sunday mornings are a challenge for me these days. Well, every morning is a bit of a challenge, but the weekend is particularly difficult. While I think I’m starting to get accustomed to the fact that the bed – and the room – are empty apart from myself, and you’re not goingContinue reading “Distance and Silence”

from Rachel: How Real Servants Act

Question to consider: Real servants make themselves available to serve; pay attention to needs; do their best with what they have; do every task with equal dedication; and are faithful to the tax they have been given. Which of the five characteristics of real servants is the most challenging for me? “(six – maintain aContinue reading “from Rachel: How Real Servants Act”

Date, Marry or Dump?

Dearest Rachel – Sometimes, it’s not so much the dream that’s memorable, as the idea behind it that I need to write down and tell you about. I’ve already pretty much lost the specific images that I saw, but the concept, well, that’s worth talking about. For all that we enjoyed watching various YouTubers playingContinue reading “Date, Marry or Dump?”

Floods, Droughts and Equity

Dearest Rachel – There are things you don’t notice when they don’t apply to you. For instance, whenever I go shopping at Meijer, I pretty much ignore everything except for the grocery section; that’s basically dismissing out of hand nearly three-quarters of the store. As far as I’m concerned, the clothing, the housewares, the gardening,Continue reading “Floods, Droughts and Equity”

Fearing the Echo

Dearest Rachel – I never met the dogs you grew up with: Crispin, who was your mother’s when she met your dad while teaching at university (Their story was an interesting ‘meet-cute,’ and one rife with all manner of battles for employment rights within the academic field and what not, but they’re not particularly relevantContinue reading “Fearing the Echo”

Before Going South

Dearest Rachel – I’ve already recently bemoaned the fact that, despite every intention to avoid discussing it, politics informs more of my life – and everybody’s, for that matter – than I’d like it to. We are shaped by the circumstances around us, regardless of how much we might insist otherwise. Our impression of GodContinue reading “Before Going South”

Forecasting Follies

Dearest Rachel – Aside from the fact that I don’t want the responsibility – and cannot fathom why anybody else would – I have certain… ideas… that probably would suggest that I shouldn’t be trusted with the reins of any sort of power. I’m not a big fan of the psychic community, for instance. Personally,Continue reading “Forecasting Follies”

Little Dollops of Catch-Up

Dearest Rachel – I’ve been amazed some days about how often I’m able to come up with a topic – or two, or three! – to talk to you about. It’s gotten to the point where, if I can’t come up with anything to relate, I get a little concerned. This is one of thoseContinue reading “Little Dollops of Catch-Up”

You’re Going With That?

Dearest Rachel – You know that I try to avoid politics in these letters if I can; we always understood each other and our political positions (although I couldn’t help but be amused as you and Daniel changed position around me during that last year and a half, taking me from being the most conservativeContinue reading “You’re Going With That?”

Replacing Chocolate

Dearest Rachel – You might remember, the last time we were on the island, we used up the last of one of the few remaining jars of Hershey’s spread on some marshmallows we placed in the toaster oven. Well, to be perfectly accurate, we put it on the graham crackers that we set atop thoseContinue reading “Replacing Chocolate”

The Mockery of Billboards

Dearest Rachel – I forget if I read much of his stuff before you were a part of my life – I don’t think you introduced me to his work – but you seemed to have an affinity toward the poetry of Ogden Nash. His series on ‘Animals’ was one you favored, but the mostContinue reading “The Mockery of Billboards”

A Question of Timing

Dearest Rachel – So often in life, things turn on a matter of timing. We are in the middle of the Olympics at the moment – not that anyone’s watching, as it seems to have been determined that neither China nor those that kowtow to it are worthy of support – where the difference betweenContinue reading “A Question of Timing”

Ask You No Questions

Dearest Rachel – I guess I should thank you for showing up last night (this morning?), despite the fact that I can’t seem to stop myself from asking you questions and breaking the spell. So if the dreams you appear in are all too short, I guess that’s on me. Anyway, I should get toContinue reading “Ask You No Questions”

from Rachel: Using What God Gave You

Question to consider: How can I make the best use of what God has given me? “5/21 “What am I good at? (I see arguments and weaknesses in every area I think of – am I truly good, or even fair, at anything?). Shortfalls aside, here goes: Organization (when boundaries are clear – e.g., ABCs)Continue reading “from Rachel: Using What God Gave You”

Here We Go Again

Dearest Rachel – This will probably not come as a great shock to you; it didn’t to me, although I was nevertheless disappointed to see it happen. After all, Ruby had gone so long without being too clingy (I tended to chalk up her contacting me on a daily basis as being a case ofContinue reading “Here We Go Again”

Goodie!

Dearest Rachel – It’s the sort of thing that gamblers at the craps tables always talk about needing, and it’s the last of my Christmas presents – at least, until such time as some girl comes into my life to take your place in our home and family (although I suspect that will be anContinue reading “Goodie!”

The Deadpan Voice of Reason

Dearest Rachel – Another early morning, another weird dream. And, as a consequence, another hour or so of dictating to Siri before it fades out completely. This one didn’t involve anyone I know except me, but it did literally involve a complete cast of characters. I couldn’t tell you, now that I’ve woken up, whetherContinue reading “The Deadpan Voice of Reason”

Shades of Morning

Dearest Rachel – I’ve begun to acclimatize myself to the fact that Daniel is awake and in his rocking chair by the time I’ve showered and gotten dressed in the morning (especially since, these days, I’ve taken to writing to you as I dry off from said shower). I’ve convinced myself that it’s partly dueContinue reading “Shades of Morning”

Not Just ‘Someone Else’s Car’

Dearest Rachel – I want to start this letter off by saying there’s nothing more uncomfortable than driving someone else’s car, but that’s not exactly true. I suspect that, given enough time, and pointed where all of the necessary (and some of the extraneous ones, like the sound system) controls are, I can get usedContinue reading “Not Just ‘Someone Else’s Car’”

Haywire

Dearest Rachel – I hear that in certain circles, there has been talk of reducing the work week from five to four days. While I don’t know how that would work for retail in particular, I have to admit that the idea of an extra day off is an attractive one. Of course, I wouldContinue reading “Haywire”

Steering Me Wrong

Dearest Rachel – I’ve been driving for almost forty years – I probably should pull over and get a cup of coffee now again. But what’s been happening to my car is something I’ve never experienced before, and it’s getting me a little bit worried. I’ve been able to manage for a couple of days,Continue reading “Steering Me Wrong”

Kidding Aside

Dearest Rachel – Well, that was an odd end to the day. The Sparks club activities, from my limited perspective, went fairly smoothly. We were doing the usual wrap-up; putting away chairs and tables and the like. You remember the drill. Once we would finish, we’d head over to the Cubbies room, where Ms. CContinue reading “Kidding Aside”

Twice the Loss

Dearest Rachel – I’d already started a letter to you last night, based on the events of last night – or rather, an event from last night – but upon waking up from this, I had to tell you about it. Another dream, of course, so dream logic – or rather, the lack thereof –Continue reading “Twice the Loss”

Followers, Fans and Flings

Dearest Rachel – The message at church this weekend centered around the sixth chapter of John. The basic gist of it was about how Jesus was showing the crowds just how narrow the path toward salvation could be, and questioning whether they were willing to take it. Most weren’t. In fact, the mass departure gotContinue reading “Followers, Fans and Flings”

The Visitation

Dearest Rachel – I’m told there was a French king who had been raised Protestant – a dangerous thing to be, when the deeply Catholic country was persecuting Huguenots, and your faith was pretty much inextricably linked to your patriotism (one more reason America deliberately decoupled church and state). Upon the death of his predecessor,Continue reading “The Visitation”

from Rachel: Understanding Your Shape

Question to consider: What God given ability or personal experience could I offer to my church? “5/20 “I don’t know. I’m good at correcting grammar, but I don’t think the church needs a proofreader. I love math, but I’m not an accountant or anything. I suppose I could tutor kids but I’m not sure IContinue reading “from Rachel: Understanding Your Shape”

Why So Serious?

Dearest Rachel – These words, spoken (and written) by pop culture’s favorite nihilist, the Joker, seem so innocuous in print. Indeed, I’ve long known a more homespun, friendly-sounding take on this perspective, thanks to being a fan of Walt Kelly’s Pogo: “Don’t take life so seriously, son. It ain’t nohow permanent.” But hey, everything soundsContinue reading “Why So Serious?”

A Path Worth Following

Dearest Rachel – Consider this something of a post script to my last letter, because it had a number of questions that were left unanswered. Unfortunately, I don’t really think I last night’s event did much to address what ‘respect’ truly is, and why I would want it. Still, the pastoral team did mention thingsContinue reading “A Path Worth Following”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Dearest Rachel – I suppose this evening, I’m going to ‘find out what it means to me.’ Which I could really stand to do, as I do not understand the concept. I should be giving you a little context, here. Tonight is the annual men’s night at church, when they bring in a speaker toContinue reading “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

Getting A Jump On Notes

Dearest Rachel – There are times when I think I may have been part of a rollout test… but only in retrospect, of course. When I was in second grade (and an almost obnoxiously precocious kid), I would see my Dad heading off to serve as a leader in the church’s Awana club, and insistContinue reading “Getting A Jump On Notes”

Digging Out From the Accumulation

Dearest Rachel – So last night, they were predicting that we would get a serious case of precipitation throughout today. It was to start with rain around midnight (because at that point it was around 40°F or so), and turn to snow overnight. The good thing was that we up in the northwest side wereContinue reading “Digging Out From the Accumulation”

Laying Out a Fleece

Dearest Rachel – Considering all the concerns I’ve voiced about Ruby, you’ll probably find it weird but we still haven’t made arrangements to at least meet face-to-face and determine once and for all whether we’re right for each other. That’s the trouble with that kind of distance; even though we’re still in the same county,Continue reading “Laying Out a Fleece”