November 26, 2020

The IM Weekend File: 09:12:09

belushi19411Went to the post office this morning (I love Saturday mail. Please don’t cancel it) and there was an old friend sitting in his car. His wife was in the PO. Big, strong strapping man. Incredible physical shape for a man in his late 70’s. Two years ago he was sharp as a tack. Used to be the main guy in our Friday night high school football trips. Now he doesn’t know me. My name is gone. Recognizes my face. Stutters. Can hardly talk. Asks if I want to go to a football game. I tell him I’m too busy. I ask how he’s doing. He says the state police pulled him over. Probably happened months ago. Alzheimers has ravaged him. He’s a different man. Just a few drops of rationality and memory in a desert of the mind. His wife comes out and looks at me. Her pained face says it all. Taking care of man like this may be one of the most difficult things in marriage, but she’s apparently going to do it as long as she can. I never knew a sweeter, more generous man. Really was enjoying his retirement. That sweetness seems to be left, but for how long? Alzheimer’s is death by torture for everyone involved.

We’re all dying and we’re all going to care for the dying. Do you notice? Some people are going through a world of death, one day at a time, and all alone.
Richard Dawkins vs Karen Armstrong. Anyone want to tell Dawkins that God doesn’t exist in the universe? This is why CS Lewis said Pantheism is so attractive. See Michael Dowd, Thank God For Evolution, for that option.
Almost done with revisions of the book. One more go through and a bit more writing, but I’m seeing the finish line. It’s possible I’ll be done before I go to South Carolina the end of the month. If you don’t listen to the podcast, I will be at DaySpring Community Mennonite Church in Sally, South Carolina Sept 26-27, teaching the Gospel of Mark. Then vacation in Charleston for a few days.
I’m on a mad crusade to eat tuna salad. I can’t get enough. Good recipes, sources, seasoning etc are welcome. Current version: Mayo, shot of Dijon mustard, bit of onion, sweet pickle. Black olives if I have them.
Met a fellow who reads the web site. First question was did I know Tim Challies. I wonder if Challies gets the reverse question? I guess it’s logical that bloggers know each other, which many of us do, but not in a normal way. Hard to explain.
My book has lost its title. Yes, “Jesus shaped spirituality” will be all over the book, but it won’t be the title. The people who know more about this than I do want a title that’s more representative of what I’m all about as a writer. I have to agree that JSS sounded like something from parts of the bookstore I wouldn’t visit. So we’re going to get more “bite;” more edge. I have submitted a new one. We’ll see how it goes. “Southern Cooking” will be fine with me. I just want it to do well. Maybe so well that I can think about being able to do more writing, along with part time ministry, as a career. But that’s a ways off, at least for now.
Thanks to an IM friend who sent me almost every book written by C.J. Sansom. Very gracious of you.
It is frightening to realize to what an extent twitter and facebook change your concept of reality. Suddenly, HERE is what other people are thinking and doing. I’m considering dropping a number of twitter feeds that are making me feel my life is a worthless failure. I’m not joking. It’s not bragging, exactly, but the selected aspects of life that are featured- all the good stuff, none of the struggles, doubts- is messing with me.
losing_mum_and_pupJust finished reading Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley. One of the best reading experiences this year. Couldn’t put it down. You can find reviews everywhere. (This one at the NYT has many nice features, like an audio slideshow.) If you are a person who has lost both parents- as Buckley did in one year- then you’ll find this book a true friend. And that’s what it is: true. True to the human journey. True to the comi-tragic difficulties. True to our feelings. And truly humane. It’s funny, sad, wise, sweet, rich, thoughtful and spiritual. Buckley is an atheist, but his father was a devout Catholic. I wish I could point to Christian writers who can write this sort of thing with the light, poignant touch of Buckley, but I can’t. And that is part of why we don’t seem to be really human. When we talk about human experience, we have all the required Christian rhetoric that must be used. We sound artificial. Many of us probably are. We don’t want to entertain much reality because we’d wind up entertaining our doubts. Our faith is propped up and we don’t want too strong a wind to blow. So we excuse ourselves from the human conversation and keep to ourselves.

And then we say people don’t want to know Jesus because they love their sin and hate God. Maybe we should consider what we have done to show what it means to love God and live with Jesus. If we could stand the honesty.

Get the book. It’s a wonder and a quick read.


  1. I wish I could supply a good substitute title, but I’m coming up empty.

    Few people are very honest on twitter, at least representationally.

  2. My twitter feed would probably just bore you to death.


  3. I would talk more about struggles and such on Twitter but I’d end up having to mention situations related to people who read my Twitter. 🙂

    I’ve had more grief over Twitter and my blog since my new gig started than I expected. But I’m not going to stop.

    • I could use names here, but there’s a part of my brain that has problems processing that these twitter feeds that amount to: “My life is awesome all the time” aren’t true. I KNOW they aren’t true, but it’s like a war in my head. I mean, seriously, the devil couldn’t do a better job than some folks in making others feel like bugs.

  4. My mom is suffering from Alzheimer’s and while not as bad off as your friend, there is an element of torture (your very appropriate illustrative word) to the slow, painful deterioration for everyone involved. My father often has just the look you describe. Two things get most of us through it: our faith in a future restoration for all involved (through Jesus C.) and a sense of humor (“let’s just re-gift last year’s Christmas gifts.”) And for those who think the humor thing may be a bit cruel, if it weren’t for the humor, we’d be crying ALL the time. Really. The pain/torture is that bad.

  5. Andree Marie Orsina – January 10, 1927 – September 11, 2009. A wonderful mother in law – she feared nothing other than the end of life dragged on and on. She was a blessing to my family and I can not even describe the loss other people (and their children) have by not living with their parents live with them.

    Anyway – that is my new hobby horse – don’t put your parents aside as they age. Embrace them into your family

    • Sorry–we had my parents living with us for four years, and they nearly tore our marriage and our family apart. It was beyond painful.

  6. Alzheimer’s is a thief that steals the treasure of personality just a nickel or a dime at a time, but in the end, it leaves its victim poverty-stricken. My mother is just a shell of what she once was.
    This is not the road I want to walk.

  7. One large package chunk light, equal parts mayo and yellow mustard (about 2T each?), a healthy dash of dried ground mustard, half a can of water chestnuts, chopped (beats celery hands down), and *dill* relish. Spread on Triscuits (low salt is best, the tuna is salty enough with the relish and cheese), top with shredded cheddar jack and a sliced olive each. Broil til cheese melts. Thoroughly worth the prep time.

  8. I used to hate tuna because they served Tuna Noodle Casserole in my elementary school cafeteria, and it was scary stuff. I associated all Tuna with the school’s version.

    But I have learned to love Tuna. My wife made me a tuna sandwich for lunch today. Had dill pickle juice, Miracle Whip and Old Bay. Splendid.

    Good words about Alzheimer’s . My grandfather owned a nursing home for many years before he died, and my dad was the administrator, my mom was also a nurse there. There were many patients there with Alzheimer’s.

    As a little kid who ran around and played on the Home’s large campus I thought that many of those patients were rather funny, because they said the strangest things. I didn’t understand the larger context. I also didn’t understand why some patients had regular visitors and some never had any visitors.

    Everyone always had at least two visitors, Grandpa and my Dad. Every day they would come in and make their rounds, visiting every patient, greeting each one, making conversation, asking how they were doing, even though many did not understand what was happening, and would confuse my dad with an uncle who had died many years ago.

    Those who did know what was going on loved my Dad and my Grandpa. My Dad maintained this habit of early morning visitation rounds when he took over at a much larger nursing home where he had an office on the upper floor.

    People are special, no matter what age, or race they are. They deserve to be treated with dignity because God created them and loves them.

    Those who take care of Alzheimer’s victims are a special breed.

    Thanks imonk

    • “Those who take care of Alzheimer’s victims are a special breed. ”
      So true. My mom is now a resident at Golden Living Center, and the staff there is wonderful…not only to her, but to our whole family.

  9. best tuna fish – cut a 1/4 cup of cottage cheese into it.

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed Losing Mum and Pup and Christopher Buckley is a wonderful writer, but what stuck me was what an unpleasant person Wlliam F Buckley was. While Buckley was never a hero to me, he is clearly not a man to emulate.

  11. I have to second the recommendation for tuna with cottage cheese, although I use less. I also add a bit of mayo, some Italian dressing, green olives and grape tomatoes. Yum! I also highly recommend tuna packed in olive oil (my preferred brand is Genova – can I say that?). It’s much tastier than the stuff packed in water.

    I’ve watched several grandparents suffer from Alzheimer’s. It’s a horrible way to go. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  12. “at DaySpring Community Mennonite Church in Sally, South Carolina”

    Google Maps has no idea of where Sally, SC is. Got a “better’ address?

  13. Alzhiemer’s. Heartbreaking.

    Dawkins & Armstrong. I’ve just been wondering why YEC has to be such a big deal to OEC/TE proponents. It seems to me that both sides have made this an issue of division (YECs making it a litmus test, OEC/TEs belittling YECs, etc) where it doesn’t have to be. Why do we have to agree? I think pre-millenialism is a bigger issue, but nobody cares the a whole aisle in the Christian bookstore is devoted to that, but I would never think to be so sarcastic (“…If you want a good take (and a good laugh) on “sophisticated” modern theology …”) about the PM position because I disagree w/ them. Am I way off base here? Missing something truly important?

    Twitter. I was told being so “real” made people uncomfortable. I stopped tweeting.

    Enjoy your vaca. Charleston is a beautiful old city.

    Tuna Salad. Chop up a hard boiled egg into your favorite TS recipe. Yum!

    • “I’ve just been wondering why YEC has to be such a big deal to OEC/TE proponents. It seems to me that both sides have made this an issue of division (YECs making it a litmus test, OEC/TEs belittling YECs, etc) where it doesn’t have to be. Why do we have to agree?”

      My small group/class (about 15 to 20 families) in our last church decided to have this topic as a multi-week lesson/discussion. We had 4 to 6 visitors from the YEC side every week. And things grew tense. To be blunt the YEC said basically you can’t trust science and science is just wrong on everything about OE. And things totally broke down when most of the OE side basically said you likely aren’t save if you don’t agree with YEC.

      “pre-millenialism is a bigger issue”

      On another occasion we did an overview of this. And much of the material started relating millennial positions to the OE/YE debates!

      To sum it up. Many of our seminary teachers and teachers at places like Liberty tie all of this together. And if you don’t agree with the entire package you’re likely not a “real” Christian.

      Makes it hard to find common ground. Or even a civil discussion at times.

      • “On another occasion we did an overview of this. And much of the material started relating millennial positions to the OE/YE debates!”


        This is a big struggle for me personally. I struggle when pharisaical Christians judge others so harshly and spend all this time infighting when, if the energy were funnelled into meeting the needs of those around us, the Ark might actually begin to fill up! As it is, churches are floundering, dying, due to everyone putting “me” first.

        I’m just sick.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The guy that wrote Scandal of the Evangelical Mind commented somewhere in the book that YEC and Pre-Trib Rapture (Bishop Usher & Hal Lindsay trumping the other 66 books) are usually found together. If you’re YEC Uber Alles, you’ll probably also be Rapture Readier-than-thou. “Ees Party Line, Comrade,” except Christian (TM).

        “Idi Amin and the Shah
        And al-Fatah are quite bizarre;
        I never could get the hang
        Of I-de-o-lo-gy
        I do the Rock…”
        — Tim Curry

  14. My dad will have been dead for 12 years in October. He had Alzheimer’s the last several years of his life. I had the opportunity to take a job in Washington state, but chose to move back to my home town to help out with Daddy, as my Mamma was suicidal. He eventually went into a nursing home, had both legs amputated, lost the ability to speak and couldn’t recognize himself in a mirror. To many hard and sad things to relate here, but anyone who has a loved one with Alzheimer’s has my sympathy and prayers.

  15. Salade Nicoise – I love it on a hot day. Takes some time to put together but well worth it. You can leave out the garlic. I use green onions instead of red. I don’t like mustard (sorry). But it’s still terrific.


  16. “Southern Cooking” — that;s funny. Include a recipe in every chapter.

    And while your at it add some chopped almonds to that tuna salad.

  17. Rich Gabrielson says

    I surprised myself once by adding a couple tablespoons of sun dried tomato pesto (Wegman’s store brand) to a can of tuna with a reasonable amount of mayo. On crackers etc. Wegman’s is second rate but it’s awesome with tuna.

  18. My FIL had Alzheimer’s. Probably one of the sharper minds of his generation that I knew. He and my MIL would have been married 50 years this year. He passed away last summer. Several strokes about a year before that (mini strokes), and one decent-sized one that took his life just 8 days after my MIL had to put him in a 24/7 care facility.

    My wife would talk to him on the phone and say, “Sure he doesn’t know me, but I no longer know my Daddy either.” He was a good man and father to his 4 kids and grandfather to 6, great grandfather to 2.

    Yeah, one nickel or dime at a time. All the way to poverty of the mind and identity. That sums it up well.

  19. The best tuna salad is:
    1 can drained tuna
    heaping tablespoon of miracle whip
    tablespoon of sweet relish
    heaping tablespoon of chunky salsa
    plenty of pepper

    all on toasted bread with tomato slice, lettuce, and white cheese