Monday, May 16, 2016

Wine That Makes Us Stagger

In Psalm 60, the writer has a complaint to make to God.  Trouble has been piled upon trouble.  You have made your people see hard things, says verse 3; you have given us wine to drink that makes us stagger.  We're reeling!

In a recent post I tried to sum up some of the themes of Points of Inflection; the faith-based concern for the earth; the math and the climbing; the sound of lamentation, most recently and personally in the loss of our dear child; cancer as a metaphor, and my own cancer struggles in 2014.  When I wrote that post, our cup of trouble was full.  Since then it has been overflowed by further news, the wine that makes us stagger; my cancer has returned in a different part of the body, and we are facing an uncertain future.

I wanted to mention this on Points of Inflection once, but I am not this time going to be blogging regularly about my personal health news here.  Instead, I have established a private web site at Caring Bridge which you're welcome to visit for updates. The address is

and you need to establish an account at Caring Bridge to log in and view news updates.   Meanwhile, I will continue posting here on the regular subjects of this blog.  I think it will be helpful to keep health news separated.

Right now Liane and I are on vacation and enjoying time together in California.  If you're the praying kind (actually, even if you're not) we value your prayers for us.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Seek the Welfare of the City

Where do I belong?

One of the great, haunting images of the book of Hebrews - stretched out over three chapters, from 11 to 13 - is an extended portrayal of believers as strangers and exiles upon the earth.   Let us go to Jesus, says the writer, outside the camp, and bear the reproach that he endured.  For, here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.   Let us not become too comfortable here, settling down, rounding out, accumulating privilege.  Our job is to run a race, to go through a great shaking-up - in order that things that cannot be shaken shall remain.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Christians! Stand Up For Our Trans* Siblings!

Okay, I shouldn't be writing this. I am not transgender (that is to say, I do not experience a mismatch between my gender identity and my birth-assigned sex). I'm a privileged, heterosexual, white guy. Stop listening to me.  Go listen to some actual transgender Christian people like the ones listed in this post instead.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

For readers new and old...

So what is Points of Inflection about, anyhow?

It started out with my involvement in the GreenFaith program.  I wanted to think in a numerate and faith-based way about the way the world changes when we human beings are no longer a (physically) small "disturbance" on the surface of nature, but have become the "main event".  This change is the "point of inflection".  If you can spend ten minutes with me on video, this TEDx talk gives an introduction to some of these ideas.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Memories VIII: Twentyfirst Birthday

For his twenty-first birthday, in 2015, we took Eli out for dessert at the Nittany Lion Inn.  Of course, he wanted to order a glass of wine along with his dessert; and, of course, the server wanted to see his ID. No surprise there.

The surprise came later.  The alert server had spotted that the day was his actual birthday and (without saying anything to us) had upgraded the presentation of the chocolate-raspberry torte (already rich and delicious) to something a little more... elaborate

 Eli's expression was a delight to behold

It was a beautiful moment.  Yes, in one way, it is probably good business to act like this (I made sure to write the hotel manager a nice letter).  But I remember it more as aa matter of someone paying attention, looking out for an opportunity to bring a blessing, when they could just have got on with their job.  I believe - and I think Eli believed this too - that opportunities to bring blessing in this way are all around us, if only we will make ourselves open to them.  I truly want to do that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Memories VII: Emily's Adventures

Miriam wrote a book of three short stories when she was in second grade. (The book won a competition and you can find it in Schlow Memorial Library in State College). The stories are about Emily, "a wacky third grader who lives with her mother and father and her baby brother George.  Her cat Kelly is mostly bad-tempered and scratches a lot."    Here's the first one: Emily Goes to the Moon.  I think it shows her love of wordplay and self-deprecating humor from an early age...

One day, Emily’s mother was baking chocolate chip cookies.  Emily was reading a book about outer space.  “Mom, do you think I can go to outer space some day soon?” asked Emily.  “No, I don’t” said her mother.  “Do you think I could build a rocket ship then?” asked Emily.  Mother said “You could build one out of cardboard that wouldn’t . . .”, but she didn’t get to finish.

Emily was already upstairs gluing cardboard together. When her rocket ship was built, Emily cut a hole for a window right about where her eyes would be. She put clear red plastic over the window. Emily brought the finished rocket ship outside. She loaded it with pillows, a blanket, five filled water pistols and her toy rabbit, Lucy. “Get ready for take off!” yelled Emily. 

Just then a red cat appeared in the window.  “Martians!” cried Emily, grabbing her water pistol.  She rushed outside the rocket ship.  Splash!  The water hit Kelly the cat.  Kelly jumped up and scratched Emily, then ran away.  “I’m never going to the moon again!” said Emily as she got out the first aid kit.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Memories VI: Sit Up So I Can Slap You

The Prow
Back in 2010, I set off with Aaron McMillan to climb The Prow, a classic 12-pitch aid climb, "spectacularly steep and exposed", on the Washington Column on the north side of Yosemite Valley.  I was leading a bit less than half way up when the piece of gear I was moving up onto pulled out, sending me on a thrilling midair ride that ended with an awkward impact with the wall and a broken ankle. After an operation, a few days in hospital, a few more days with Aaron's wonderfully welcoming family, and a red-eye flight back from the Bay Area, I arrived home on crutches in the mid-morning.  It was a weekday, so Miriam was away at school.

Liane brought me home, helped me get something to eat, and settled me on the couch - my instructions were to keep the leg elevated as much as possible.   I read a book, drank some tea no doubt, and then the expected thing happened after a red-eye; I dozed off.