First of all, I walked last week. Not every day, but a couple of days, and I went contra dancing another day. For me, that’s exceptional. By the way, for those of you looking for mates, within 48 hours of the dance, I was told about four women that I know personally who met their husbands at a contra dance! In three different states! So there must be something to it. If you know someone who’s looking, tell her to put on her dancing shoes!
I’ve been slowly working my way through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, now subtitled The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community. I know this is nitpicky and has nothing to do with the book, but I have the Harper One edition, and it is tough to get past the typeface. It looks as if it were typed on an old typewriter with a very wet ribbon. Furthermore, the 1954 translator decided to use the King James Version of the Bible for scripture quotes, rather than translating from the German. It’s very jarring for a twenty-first century American to be reading a 1930s German via 1611 England. What would Luther say?
All that aside, Bonhoeffer has some very uncomfortable things to say about Christian fellowship, which means that it’s excellent, of course. If you’re not challenged by a book, there’s no point in reading it. For example, he says at the outset that if you’re surrounding yourself with other Christians so that your life is easy and sweet, you’ve already failed. He states it more elegantly, of course. Later, he says that listening is an important ministry, and if you’re just listening to someone so that you can pour all your wisdom back to them— you guessed it—you fail.
He did say positive things, of course. He lays out a complete schedule of Bible reading, prayer, praise, singing, and work for each day. He wrote this book when he was leading a secret seminary that was trying to fly under the Nazi’s radar, so I admit that I sometimes thought, “Well, yeah, you can do that because you are a bunch of men living in the woods!” However, that does not negate the fact that he expected every group of Christians, including families, to devote an hour to prayer and Bible reading in the morning before work. Not private devotions, group devotions. Challenging, eh? It’s all I can do to pack a lunch and get my makeup on. There are evening devotions, as well.
Late in the book, he talks about loving your brother or sister (OK, I put in the sister part) for who he or she is: a free person in Christ. You can be in fellowship with them, and you can pray for them, but you may not try to remake them in your own image. He warns the reader often to allow other people to stand before Christ on their own, and to allow yourself to be interruptible and approachable. I found this passage very heartening, and even surprising, because I thought that only women’s groups turned people into projects. I remember one woman years ago addressing a women’s meeting about how she makes good use of her time by talking on the phone to someone she was discipling for the exact amount of time that she had set aside for a household project that she could do at the same time. She told the room full of women that when the time for the project was done, she would get off the phone, because that was responsible and disciplined behavior. In other words, she did not consider the woman on the other end of the phone to be an actual human being, but just one more item on her to-do list. Bonhoeffer has all kinds of interesting things to say about that sort of mindset.
So, in other words, it’s a very instructive little book (120 pages), but I think I’d have to read it again to profit from it fully. It took me a couple of weeks to finish, not because it wasn’t good, but because there was so much to think about on each page.
On a much lighter note, I have become addicted to the song “Too Close,” by Alex Clare. Not the words, of course, since it’s a break-up song, but to Clare’s voice and to the compelling bass synthesizer line. We first heard it on a car commercial and looked it up, then played it on YouTube thirty or so times. When I told Michael about it, he played about half of it on YouTube, stopped it, went to Amazon, and bought it. He says that YouTube “compresses the files too much,” which means that you don’t get all the sound. He started playing it through his speakers with these ridiculous sub-woofers, and the whole house was vibrating. I went to his office door and said, “Michael! The windows are open, and we have neighbors with little kids!” So he turned it up.
Since then, I’ve listened to other Alex Clare stuff, and so far I haven’t found one tune with a decent message. Odd, since he converted to Orthodox Judaism as an adult, so you’d expect some moral compass, but no. Some really good music, though.
I made the Lemon-Poppy Seed Scones from The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar Free Baking, and they are zippy! Here they are, packed up to go to work with me Monday. Let’s hope everyone likes them! So far, the two scone recipes and the Pecan Sandies have been my favorites.