Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Thank You, Dr. Reinhard

One of my favorite college professors has passed away, Dr. Jim Reinhard. 

There is a saying attributed to Mark Twain, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." Dr. Reinhard's "Christianity and Culture" class at Greenville College (now University) in the fall of 1975 was certainly one of the most influential events in my life! The class set me on a dual quest to deepen my faith and to seek a career with a significant religious component. 

I always told Jim this. I liked to send him the Bible study books that I wrote over the years, telling him that they really did result from his class. I also thanked him in my (religion) doctoral dissertation. My enjoyment of teaching undergrads began with him, too, as I saw in him such a great example of positive influence for students. ALSO, my initial lessons in world religions, interfaith, and social justice came from his class. 

When I last saw him and his wife in November 2019, I had an intuition that we might not meet again in person, so I sent them flowers on holidays. Please pray for his wife and their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and the many former GC/GU students and staff that they both touched over the years. 

"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant... enter into the joy of your master'" (Matt. 25:23).

(Photo from the Greenville University
Alumni Association Facebook page)

Happy 150th, "Descent of Man"

Charles Darwin’s book “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex,” was published on this day 150 years ago, by his British publisher John Murray. This was the first time Darwin used the word “evolution" in print. Darwin discusses natural selection in conjunction with his theory of how birds and animals choose mates. He applies principles of natural selection to humans, demonstrating our descent from earlier species. Our physical similarities with apes are attributed to common antecedent creatures, something that has been confirmed through DNA analysis. He also discusses topics like psychology, ethics, the races, and society. (He does not embrace what became known as Social Darwinism, nor racial polygeny.) The book was not as controversial as “Origin of Species,” published 12 years earlier, because people had already been debating Darwin’s ideas for a while, but it did elicit considerable discussion. Darwin soon followed up on ideas in “Descent” with his next book, “The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals” (1872)--which, in turn, was one of the first books to be illustrated with photographs.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ash Wednesday

Here is my wife Beth's devotion for our church today. 

Rest for Our Souls

Devotion February 17

There are verses of scripture that, in their reading and speaking, almost instantly create a sense of calm and courage. I think of the words of the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want” or the 27th Psalm, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

Romans 5 opens with this comforting passage: “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Truly, the scripture for this Ash Wednesday may be the most memorable of these passages of healing and comfort for me. I type Jesus’ words, and relief pours over me:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

My soul needs rest. I am weary, and I often feel the weight of a heavy burden. These past months have been difficult for each of us and those for whom we are responsible. Hurts, seemingly without healing, have been endured. Harm has come to health, to livelihoods, to the fundamental fabric of community and society. So much is broken and feels far from repair.

Our well of optimism runs dry. Our bones are weary. The vessel with which we carry our hope and care for one another is cracked, if not shattered. We know that we need to be healed and to recover our capacity to bring healing and recovery to the world. “I lift my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121: 1-2).

It is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent. This year I feel keenly the need for Lent, for the time of contemplation, prayer, devotion, and reflection, for recognizing and calling out my need for healing and restoration and for naming its source. It is the time to take up Jesus’ yoke in order to learn from him, joining my life more fully to his, to find rest for my soul.

Let us not rush through this season, but linger in the time to refresh our spirit, commune with one another, and regain the fullness of spirit that is drawn “from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.”



Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Artist Birthdays

Feeling nostalgic for the days (early 1980s) when I was first discovering classical music and collecting LPs. Two great violinists, Jascha Heifetz and Fritz Kreisler, were born on this day in 1901 and 1875, respectively. 

and famed soprano Renata Tebaldi was born February 1, 1922! 

Sunday, January 31, 2021


Our basement had a major plumbing issue this past week. Getting things out of the way of the workers, I felt nostalgic for a couple of things on the laundry room wall: 

A little metal tag that I found in a Golconda, IL antique store in about 1983. I just thought it was cool, and I've kept it all these years. 

A Coke sign that I found on eBay several years ago. The seller said that it came from Vanderburgh County, Indiana, which I always associate with trips across Indiana to visit my parents. The US 41 exit from I-64, which was the northern part of that county, had a good group of restaurants at which to stop for a road trip break. 


And this was once a calendar for a store from my mom's hometown. She remembered Sam Wead (which she pronounced Wade). 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Sunday, January 24, 2021