Sunday, December 31, 2006

Back in Home in Manitoba

Well, I'm back home. I paid more attention to what I tuned in while driving -- more news than I said I do, in time to hear responses to the fact of Saddam Hussein's execution; football stories; scanning the dial (except that radios no longer have a dial) for weather forecasts as the snow turned to freezing rain around me.

Saddam. Iraq. I ended my teen years towards the end of our war in Vietnam. I thought at least we would never do that again. I was drafted in 1968, deferred for four years for college, and then my number (113) came up again for 1972. There was a break in the draft, when congress failed to re-enact the necessary legislation for a few weeks, and somehow the draft skipped over me. I had already made plans to go to Zimbabwe, working with my church as a CO in place of a stint in Vietnam. I remember my mother wondered if I couldn't stay in Pennsylvania instead of going to Africa; but I went anyway.

Those years seem so distant, and we haven't re-instituted the draft. But in Vietnam at least the domino theory made some sense (even if it was wrong). And at least there was a faction in Vietnam whom we went to help. In Iraq all that I can see is that we have invaded another country. Certainly Saddam Hussein should have been arraigned before the International Court: he was a genuine criminal, given his actions against the people of Iraq and of Kuwait. But we cannot be the world's judge and jury and executioner; still less should we want to be.

All of this runs in my mind over the surface of my deeper convictions that Christians pursue peace rather than war, that Jesus brings reconciliation rather than a mandate to judge the earth. Certainly there is real conflict and judgment and hard edges in God's dealing with a fallen world; but we are not God. With the Iraqis and the Israelis and the Palestinians and the Russians and every other people of the earth we stand under God and receive from God's hand what we bring upon ourselves.

Moralizing. I'll stop. But such thoughts ran along the road beside me as I listened to football and Car Talk and news reports in the freezing rain and snow. It's good to be home.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Driving to Minnesota

Today I drive south to northern Minnesota: Thief River Falls, near the headwaters of the Mississippi. Outside we have some snow cover, not enough but it's better than none. Once a month or so I drive down route 59 to TRF and preach for the Evangelical Free Church in town, while they search for a senior pastor.

I enjoy the drive: straight, partly wooded, on the edge of the prairie (as Garrison Keillor reminds us), and once in Minnesota lightly populated. Lancaster: 350 or so; Lake Bronson: 250 or so; Halma: 72; so that Karlstad at 800 seems quite big. there's even a traffic light, even if it's flashing red both ways. Finally Thief River, 70 miles from the border and 9,000 people, a northern metropolis some two hours south of me.

Lots of time to think and listen to the radio. CBC has Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap -- memories of a rocker with lots of music that I enjoy. NPR has Garrison Keillor, Car Talk, and Wait, Wait. Sometimes I may find football or basketball; less often I'll listen to news. But not so often for the news: a long drive doesn't need to be made longer thinking about Robert Mugabe, or the war in Iraq, or climate change (so that we have messy roads where we once had clear cold sky and clear dry roads).

Lots of time to think, so I can't help thinking about such things, wondering if Zimbabwe will ever see better times than now, or if we (Americans) will learn that there is no alternative to cooperation in today's world. All this thinking provides the context for running through the next day's sermon. So in a couple of hours I'll drive down 59 to the border post, hand them my (expired) passport (which I must renew), open the trunk for the routine check, and drive on down to TRF. I expect to enjoy the open silence (almost silence, except for the noise my car makes), and to seek God's hope in our humanness.

Friday, December 29, 2006


I resolve to blog! Nine months since the last post, and finally I'm adding to it. My New Year's Resolutions, like many others', normally last about a day: we'll see. I have added enough to other people's blogs and to email conversations in general that thinking through the medium of a blog makes sense.

We'll see what happens. For now: I resolve to blog!