Sjouke Voolstra, professor of Mennonite history and theology well-known to many in the Netherlands and world-wide, died last week in a boating accident. He was 62 years old. The last line of the tribute appearing in the Dutch Mennonite weekly newspaper is as follows (in translation): "We pray that his spouse, daughters, and all who were close to him may receive the strength that they so need in these difficult days." Amen.
Soon I am hoping to enrich my online photo album with snapshots from my recent trip to U.S. Until then, feel free to check out some of my older photos here. I'll let you know when the updates begin. Today I'm having a few problems with the scanner, so it could be a while...
For more than 2 years now, some of us here in Almere have been working at putting together a neighborhood cookbook, De Smaak van Stedenwijk (The Taste of Stedenwijk). About 2 weeks ago, we threw a party to celebrate its release. Want to hear more about the festivities? Check it out here.
That's right, folks. I heard from those-in-the-know that, according to the expert piano tuner who visited a while back, the Green Piano which graces my parents' living room was born in 1914. Which makes her 90 this year.
Happy 90th, Green Piano! May your music last 90 more.
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday dear ... clarinet!
Happy Birthday to you.
That's right, folks. This year my clarinet celebrates a signficant birthday ... her 50th! I had no idea how old my clarinet was until today, when I went to this site. Amazingly enough, all I had to do was select "Buffet Crampon" and "clarinet" and type in the serial number ... and voilá! The computer informed me that my clarinet was born in 1954.
Which makes my clarinet half a century old. 21 years older than I am.
In honor of her 50th birthday, my clarinet is retiring. Last time we visited her doctor (an expert in clarinet care and repair), he informed us that she was in desperate need of an overhaul ... however, he also recommended against such an overhaul, because it would be an expensive "band-aid" which would not lead to long-term improvement in her condition. The best solution for her health concerns? Early retirement. My clarinet has lived a long and happy life and has made much music with a wide variety of friends and acquaintances. Together we have decided that it is time for her to enjoy some well-earned time off. I am therefore looking into purchasing her successor. My clarinet assures me that she is completely OK with this.
In her retirement, my clarinet plans to stick around home and take it easy. She is especially interested in spending more time with her housemates the guitar and the recorder. Someday, she hopes to vacation in Ohio, where she will enjoy a reunion with her dear friend the Green Piano.
Today I got up, took a shower, dressed, ate breakfast, and took the bus to the train station. Then I took a train to Utrecht, and another train to Vleuten. In Vleuten I participated in a planning meeting for a young adult retreat called Op Naar 3000 which will take place in March 2005 in Giethoorn. (I'll say more about this retreat as plans develop.) Members of the planning committee include Tammo, Michel, Jan Fokke, and I. After our meeting, I hung out with fellow committee members a while and played with Ester, 7-month-old daughter of our hosts Jan Fokke and Inge. Then we all took the train back into Utrecht, and walked from the central station to a lovely restaurant down by the canals in Utrecht, where we met our friend Renze. The meal was actually a "thank you" to Renze for his 5 years of past work on this very committee. After enjoying excellent Dutch cuisine, I took the train & bus home. Before calling it a night, I hopped on my bike and zipped over to the Romeijn house to show them some photos of my trip to the US and to (attempt to) watch a DVD together. The DVD, however, refused to work and so we ended up watching some British comedy sketches instead. Then I biked home and wrote this blog entry.
It was a satisfying Saturday. Good friends, good food, good weather, and a good combination of public transportation, biking, and walking. (And as an added bonus: I got to hold Ester for the better part of an hour.) Now I'm going to put the icing on my Saturday cake by going upstairs and getting some good sleep.
Well, I gotta new template. But I am learning that with change comes loss. The comments which so enhanced my old template are gone. However, they are not gone forever, for two reasons. First, I cut-and-pasted them all into a word document, just in case. And second, I saved my old template, and I have discovered that if I cut-and-paste my old template into Blogger, my old comments pop right back up with it. However, unless the fine folks at Blogger can help me, I have no idea how to enable those old comments in this new template.
All that to say, just b/c you can't see the comments doesn't mean they don't exist.
Not only did I find the note that James A. Schoch (otherwise known as Shok the German) so skillfully hid in my suitcase, I also affixed said note to my refrigerator with a sparkly flower-shaped magnet.
The note reads:
Jackie Wackie Me My Mo Yackie You are fine So do not wine (too much) 'Cause we do miss you Way over in the yonder blue. Love Jimmy Poo :)
Is my brother-in-law a poet, or what?
Thank you for the surprise send-off, Jimmy Poo!
My October Resultion is to update this blog. And to post here regularly. I know, I know. Those of you who know me well will doubt that I possess the tenacity to fulfill this resolution. But I am determined to prove you wrong!
So ... here goes. The contest between Jackie and All Those Who Doubt Her Ability To Write Here Regularly. Who's side ya on, anyway?
Tonight I'm finishing a sermon concerning the following two passages of scripture:
Deut. 6:1-9 (NRSV)
Now this is the commandment--the statutes and the ordinances--that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children's children, may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
John 13:31-35 (NRSV)
When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Your commentary, ideas, & reactions are very welcome!
I had a great time celebrating Queen Beatrix's birthday yesterday. It's amazing what happens in this country every April 30: The main streets of every village, town, and city are transformed into rows upon rows of endless flea markets! Days ahead of time, folks reserve their plot of sidewalk with chalk or tape, and on the morning of the 30th (or, in some cases, on the evening of the 29th), people begin peddling their wares. Bargaining is encouraged. Everyone is off work, with the rare exception of those working in restaurants or with public transportation. Almost everyone wears orange (the royal color), and almost everyone is outside.
The hottest spot to celebrate Koninginnedag is Amsterdam. They say that 3 million people converged on the city last year. (Less than a million live in Amsterdam, and only 16 million live in the whole of Holland!) Last year I went to Amsterdam, but this year I (mostly) stayed put in Almere. I biked with my friends Marjan and Maaike to Almere Haven, the oldest part of our city, and we very much enjoyed ourselves there. My most prized purchases include: a copy of the video Abba: The Movie and a brightly colored shoulder bag from Greece.
Last night I traveled to Utrecht and had dinner with my friends Heidi and Michel. The main course: asparagus. It was incredibly delicious.
Fact of trivia: April 30 is actually the birthday of Beatrix's mother, not that of Beatrix herself. Because Beatrix was born in January, the royal house decided to maintain the celebration in April, when the weather would be more conducive to outdoor celebrating!
It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work. Smiting on an anvil, sawing a beam, painting a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God some glory if being in his grace you do it as your duty. To go to communion worthily gives God great glory, but a man with a dungfork in his hand, a woman with a slop-pail, give him glory too. He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they should. So then, my brethren, live.
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins
Let us forgive Hopkins his non-inclusive language, if for no other reason, then because of his tremendous way with words.
Today is Holy Saturday -- in Dutch, Stille Zaterdag. That means Still Saturday.
Today I have posted many words. But the most important element of today is the expectant quiet, in which we are invited to come and join the disciples of Jesus as they grieve the death of their friend and teacher.
For much of my life, I have heard people argue that if we could only "get back to" the theology of the early church (or, in some cases, the theology of the 16th-century Reformers), then present-day Christians could discover how to live as faithfully as God intended. But why does earlier necessarily mean more faithful? I have had many a conversation with my Roman Catholic friends about the role of tradition in our respective churches, and I have come to better understand a Catholic point of view -- namely, that tradition is authoritative because the Holy Spirit guides the church through the centuries and the millenia, helping the church grow into all God wants it to be. This optimistic view of history is much different from the negative view of history that has been imparted to me by some of my Protestant and/or Mennonite influences and aquaintances.
What is this very Protestant, very negative view of history? An oversimplified version follows: the NT church was faithful, after which the church was corrupted and co-opted by culture (for example, by Constantine); more than a thousand years later, the Reformers returned to the pure faith of the first Christians once more. In order to remain faithful to God and to God's plan for the church, we must try to emulate the NT church and the first-generation Reformers in the way that we do church today.
You know, I've gotta say that I don't agree with this negative view of history/culture. (I particularly cringe at the way it can nurture anti-Catholic feelings/theology in those who believe it.) A few years ago I attended a lecture in which the speaker, a regarded Bible/religion professor, referred in passing to the faithfulness of both the early church and the first Anabaptists. In the Q & A period, I remember another equally-regarded professor asking him: "Do you really believe that the Holy Spirit went into hiding between the legalization of Christianity under Constantine and the onzet of the Protestant Reformation?!" (Or something to that effect.) I must say, that question is one that rings true in my own heart.
Granted, there are also dangers in adopting a strictly positive view of history/culture. If we believe that where-ever the church goes is where the Spirit is leading it, then we open ourselves up to the danger of complicity with principalities & powers that be, powers that would co-opt even our churches to serve their goals instead of the goals of the Reign of God. There's got to be a way to believe that God is leading us forward into the 21st century, while still retaining a critical stance toward the cultural shiftings of our own age. Maybe intentionally living into this tension is what it is all about.
IMHO: One way of living into this tension is by trying to balance radicial ecumenicity (recognizing the work of the Spirit in all the churches, and praying for unity among us) with faithfulness to our own faith traditions (trying to understand how the churches are called to prophetically witness to one another).
Just to clarify: I am not arguing in the above post that the first Christians/the first Reformers/the first Anabaptists are not worthy of emulation. Indeed, they are -- their faithfulness is a profound model for us all. And I am also not arguing that Constantine was a model Christian who worked wonders for the church -- as a pacifist, I decry his glorification of violence in the name of Christ. However, I am suggesting that there are models of faithfulness which are worthy of emulation other than those of the New Testament Church and the Reformers -- many of which are to be found in the Catholic tradition, in the centuries between Constantine and the Protestant Reformation.
"The absolute desire of 'having more' encourages the selfishness that destroys communal bonds among the children of God. It does so because the idolatry of riches prevents the majority from sharing the goods that the Creator has made for all, and in the all-possessing minority it produces an exaggerated pleasure in these goods."
- Archbishop Oscar Romero, "The Church's Mission Amid the National Crisis," August 6, 1979. Twenty-four years ago today, Monsenor Romero was assassinated as he celebrated Mass in San Salvador.
Tear doubt from your heart, and do not allow it to hinder you from praying. You ask, "How can I beg anything from God, I who have sinned so much?" Never think like this. Instead, turn to God with your whole heart. Pray without wavering, and you will come to know his great mercy. He will never desert you, but will fulfill your heart's request, for he is not like men, who harbor grudges. No, he does not remember evil. He has compassion on all whom he has made.
To the left you'll find a new link for the Almere Mennonite Church. If you click on the "interviews met leden" (interviews with members) link at the top of the page, you should be able to find my photo/interview -- plus the photos/interviews of lots of other folks at the church.
I also encourage you to check out the link for Shok's Photos -- he's got a new and improved site going for 2004, with some really great stuff, including his own artwork! Very impressive!
There's also something new in Jackie's Photos, FYI.
Sound the Trumpets!
This is a call for reader participation!!
I recently had a conversation with some of my Dutch friends about conflict, differences of opinion, and the like. The question on the table was: How do Americans respond to conflict and express differences of opinion? And how is this different from the way Dutch folks respond to conflict and express differences of opinion?
Please, comment on how YOU think Americans respond to conflict.
Later in the weekend, I'll post on the Dutch side of things.
(I really need your help here. I've been living in the Netherlands so long, I don't really remember how Americans 'do' conflict! Please, re-educate me!)
One more week until Ash Wednesday. One more week until Lent begins.
I have decided to do something brash this year. I am going to really, actually, whole-heartedly give something up for Lent. In years past, I have half-heartedly given something up for Lent, in full awareness that I probably wouldn't make it for the entire 40 days. And when I gave in, I didn't feel in the least guilty. (I have not yet decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing.) But this time, I am so excited about what I am giving up for Lent that I am starting today -- a week early.
I am giving up television.
Not films, mind you -- a good film during the weekend is one of my favorite unwinding activities. But I'm giving up TV. No more eating dinner while watching Dharma and Greg, no more late-night TV after one of my evening meetings comes to a close. I'm simply not going to turn that machine on. (This morning I unplugged it, removed it from its shelf, shoved it in a corner, and covered it with a pretty piece of fabric. Maybe I'll buy it a plant so it won't get lonely.)
I am doing this not because I believe that television is evil. My intention is not to cause the rest of you TV-watchers to feel guilty about your practice of TV-watching; nor is my intention to give my TV away for good. Rather, I am doing this for a limited time in order to consciously change my life rhythms. Television is a diversion, a form of entertainment, a way to relax. Watching television is fun, but I do not believe that it improves my quality of life. Whether or not watching television detracts from my quality of life is a question to which I do not yet have an answer ... but maybe I will by Easter.
P.S. Oh yeah -- I'm back! It's been a while! Sorry for the six weeks of silence.
I said to the [woman] who stood at the gate of the year:
"Give me a light that I might go safely out into the darkness."
And [she] replied:
"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be more to you than a light,
and safer than a known way."