Easter, and our first gathered service of outdoor worship, was a sign of hope for our congregation. Easter hymns, sung by worshipers in a large circle, united again in spite of social separation, opened conversations with neighbors who wished for more. Weeks later we are still talking about the gathering. And there is more.
1. Spring is the fresh fragrance and flavor of strawberries, intensified by fresh ground black pepper and red wine vinegar.
Spring is driving an extra three miles to patronize the local grower with a couple acres of berries ripening in our own neighborhood. Spring is the scent of shortcake and the sliced beauty of fruit enhanced by the secrets of French cooks. “Pepper and vinegar on my berries? No way!” our brother, the late Dr Milton Good exclaimed on a visit to California 25 years ago. No amount of explanation that it was a trusted French recipe could convince him so we set two bowls of berries, plain sugar for him. He eyed us suspiciously, reached to compare, stood immediately and headed for the kitchen. “Show me how to do that,” he said. (1 qt sliced berries, 2t vinegar whisked in 2T sugar, a generous fine grind of pepper, toss.)
2. America, or Derek Chauvin, on trial?
Minneapolis has become our second home city this week. Does the virus of white supremacy, silent but ever in the air, infect how we see, hear, think, and ultimately acquit or hold accountable the one who “took a knee” with what appeared to be nonchalance? How will our fellow citizens of Los Angeles respond if the choice is to grant impunity not culpability? How can justice be both done and seen to be done to a nation on the stand before the world? This week it is Floyd redux with the shooting of Daunte Wright a few miles away. (“Have mercy,” we mumble, “Hear our prayer.”)
3. Hans Kueng, Swiss priest, author, theologian, prophet, died last week.
We posted his obituary, and selected his essay “On a World Ethic” for discussion in our Sunday service. Some shared memories of his monumental On Being Christian, others reflected on his courage to bridge the chasm created by the Reformation, all of us marveled at his honesty and courage. And we were touched once more by the hand of God grasping this thoughtful and faithful thinker. We compared his courage with that of Bible teacher Beth Moore confronting the Evangelical stone wall with clear eyed Jimmy-Carter-like withdrawal.
4. Ernest Hemingway was the painful subject of a marvelous Lynn Novick and Ken Burns special on PBS.
(Burns seems incapable of producing anything short of astoundingly truthful and human). It was epic, tragic, ego-centric, alcoholic, a wasted life that made an epochal impact on the art of putting words together. Hilton Als in a searching review (April 12, New Yorker) writes, “The core of the film ‘Hemingway’ is how much life we see happening to the writer that he doesn’t seem to feel, protecting a self he didn’t know, or could not face.”
5. Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and tis urgent lessons for our own, by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (Crown, 2020).
This title was the chosen book for Leann’s reading club. Alongside they read some of Baldwin’s works. Glaude is simply brilliant. The high praise on the dust jacket is all well deserved, and the dialogue that it stimulates is soul searching. “This is a must read, now. Here, take and read,” Leann says in a rare command. In fact she is a making a promise. Reviewers use words like searing, powerful, elegant, passionate, loving, angry, lyric, pained and ultimately strangely hopeful. They had me from the word “searing.”