Friday, January 30, 2009


It makes me angry and yet I recognize that it is my fault. Sarah and I often stick the trash bag outside the back door in the evening with the idea that the next person to head down to the trash trailer will haul it down there, but out of sight is sometimes out of mind. Sarah and I have been thus victimized dozens of times. Will this be the last? YES!!! My back porch is not some sort of wildlife feeding station.

Crash-boom! Raccoon!
Digging through the trash-
When the dogs are out
It's not so brash.
"There is more to be known than God has revealed. There is more revealed than we will ever understand. What is revealed is not always grasped correctly and what is grasped correctly is not always fully understood."

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Kick rarely saw the Widjiwat men that had been sent to live in his house. They had taken up residence in the kitchen wall behind a crack that had formed to the left of the toaster where two drywall panels met. They had widened the crack a little to allow them easier access to the space behind the wall, and that is where they made their quarters. Kick was very curious to know what their living space looked like, but there was no way for him to investigate without destroying their home. He imagined hammocks hung between the studs and matchboxes for furniture.

He primarily communicated with Rolfish who Kick surmised was their captain. In all his dealings with Kick, Rolfish was always sober and severe and he made it plain at every opportunity that he didn’t like Kick at all. Foxen and Foxen were as unalike in personality as their names were similar. One was as quiet as the moon and did as he was directed promptly and without question. To Kick, it seemed that if Rolfish had asked him to cut off his own foot he would have set to work immediately, done a quick and thorough job of it, and then cleaned up the mess- all without complaint. The other Foxen talked incessantly and seemed to argue quite a bit with Rolfish. Kick hadn’t seen the other two, Kodd and Beanid, since the night when he was first introduced to them by Ilvie. Rolfish and the Foxens always spoke their own language when talking to each other, and Rolfish was the only one of them who could speak English well enough to make himself understood on the first attempt. Thus Kick hadn’t been able to patch together much information about them personally or about the Widjiwats in general.

One day, as Kick was walking past the kitchen towards the shop, Rolfish got his attention by whacking a spoon against an empty beer bottle. This was how he had taken to summoning Kick. At first Kick found it annoying, but when he considered that a Widjiwat's voice is as small as his stature he understood why it was necessary and he stopped letting it bother him. As Kick made his way over to see what Rolfish wanted he saw that the Foxens were making their way across the kitchen counter- navigating their way through the various dirty dishes and food packaging that littered the counter top. Between them they carried a legal sized envelope.

“What ya got there?” Kick asked the Foxens.

“It’s a letter to you from Burden Jarudet,” answered Rolfish.

"Burden?" questioned Kick.

"That's our word for King or Queen. It doesn't translate perfectly, but that's roughly what it means," explained Rolfish curtly.

Then, leaving the envelope with Kick, they turned and made their way back across the counter and through the crack in the wall.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I remember where I was when I first understood that Ronald Reagan wasn't going to be the president anymore. I was downstairs in the fellowship hall at the A.C. church in Hyattsville, MD. It was 1988, and I was swilling down some punch with a big glob of vanilla ice cream in it. Sitting on the edge of the stage I listened to my Mom and some other women talking in the nearby kitchen. There was a little window in the wall between the fellowship hall and the kitchen through which I listened to their talk with half an ear. Over the clatter of dishes I heard one of the women say, "It will be strange not having Reagan as President anymore." That statement arrested me.

I was born during the the Carter administration, but as far back as I could remember Ronaldus Magnus had been at the helm. It was the height of the cold war and my view towards the Soviets was not a nuanced one. To me, they were evil and dangerous. They were the reason why we held drills at Ridgecrest Elementary School, right outside of Washington D.C., in preparation for a nuclear attack. I have in my mind's eye a memory of me and all my classmates under our desks in first grade. At that time I couldn't comprehend the complexities of the cold war, but I could vaguely apprehend the horrors of nuclear war. The cold war and all of its attendant fears were woven into the fabric of our culture in those days. It was present in the TV I watched and in the adult conversations I overheard. Little pitchers have big ears, and despite my parent's efforts to shield us from such unpleasant concepts as our imminent destruction I had managed to soak up enough to make me deathly afraid of those dreaded initials- U.S.S.R.

My view towards Reagan was also not a nuanced one. In my mind he was akin to a shining knight. He was all that stood between my family and the ever menacing Soviets- a wall that held back the hordes of godless Soviet Bogey men from all that I held dear.

"It will be strange not having Reagan as President anymore."

Strange? ...more like terrifying, I thought.

I finished off my punch, letting the aforementioned glob of ice cream slide down the waxed cardboard interior of the cup, then I made my way over to my Dad who was sitting talking with another man from the church.

"Dad, is Ronald Reagan not going to be the president anymore?" I interrupted.

My Dad looked at me half-distractedly (maybe annoyed), and said with a nonchalant air, "Right...yep...that's right." Then he resumed his conversation with the man.

I walked away and got another cup of punch (the ice cream was all melted or skimmed off the top by then). The inner turmoil I had experienced moments before had been resolved. Dad didn't seem concerned, and so I decided I didn't need to be either.

Sometimes I wish I was still ten, but doesn't God want me to be like a ten year old in my posture towards Him? Is it possible for me to resolve the turmoil I feel when looking at world events by simply meditating on the fact that God, my Abba Father, does not share that turmoil?

Isaiah 40:22-25

22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 "To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I thought all of my readers from the Rutland area might appreciate this youtube video I stumbled upon while looking for something else. The video is kind of funny but the comments below it are hilarious.

Friday, January 23, 2009

We flirted like skirmishers meeting in the woods ahead of our respective armies. The unspoken message in the engagement was that the full weight and passion of our hearts was on the march, and would soon be there- both of us stood determined to conquer the other, yet also content at the prospect of being conquered.

"I've never been on a date," I said.

"Maybe I should help you practice," came her reply.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
Hebrews 4:13

I’m one of those guys who has gone through life studiously avoiding any scenario that might turn into a skins vs. shirts game. I am not eager to have my physical blemishes as well as my pasty and flabby appearance exposed to the critical eyes of others. It is my preference to remain fully clothed when in public, and I am convinced that the public feels the same way. I hated the communal “prison” showers at the Police Academy! Ugh! Sculpted Adonis I am not. Spiritually speaking none of us have bodies that we can be proud of. The history of all that we've done and what has been done to us has left us all scarred and misshapen.

About a year ago I struck up a relationship with an accountability partner, and that got me thinking more deeply about the idea of being spiritually naked. Being spiritually naked in front of another person elicits the same sort of panic in me as being physically naked. If anything I am more ashamed by the true condition of my heart than I am of my body.

First, there is little profit in being honest with another man about your failings and struggles if your heart isn’t soft towards God. If sinning before God is similar to getting undressed in front of a doctor in that it evokes no shame, then your conscience is seared and your heart towards God and your sin needs to change before you can be helped or be a help through an accountability relationship. The Holy eyes of God cannot look on sin- He abhors it! Loving God means loving the things he loves and hating the things He hates. As followers of Christ, we should be concerned if we find ourselves harboring a secret love for sin. For such a person whose heart is not soft towards God’s correction, the opinion of a man holds more weight than the approval of the Lord, and they are trying through the accountability relationship to build an artificial apparatus, a fence of man’s approval, to contain their sinful cravings. That is a flimsy fence that will prove too feeble to enclose the robust appetites of our sinful nature. Also if there is no genuine brokenness before God there will be no shame attached to withholding information from, or lying to, an accountability partner. The inward conviction of the Spirit should be sufficient motivation to repent from sin and strive toward Godliness.

I have found it helpful to meet regularly with my accountability partner though. I think that most people, live a double life to some extent. The public image we all foster and promote is like a suit of clothes that covers our blemishes and hides the true appearance of our hearts from men. When coupled with a soft heart towards God and His correction, having an accountability partner has served in my life to be a great encouragement. It is critical to give Godly people access to the reality of our hearts so we can correct and encourage each other, as well as be spurred on through the testimonies of God’s goodness, love, mercy, patience and provision. We were designed by a God of relationships to live in community with fellow believers. These ought not be superficial relationships- a mile wide and an inch deep- but rather intimate and honest ones.

Just as with physical nakedness I find there are two stripes of people- the first and most common group are those who are reluctant to bare all (spiritually speaking) in front of others. Most of us understand and share this reluctance. I think this stems from a preponderance of pride as well as a lack of trust. The divide between their hearts and the person they advertise to be can be so wide that is difficult and humiliating to confess, and the truth of their current struggles and failings is too ugly and potentially damaging to entrust to someone else. It is safest locked up and hidden away in the dark shameful recesses of our hearts.

I call the second group of people, “spiritual exhibitionists.” They seem to enjoy airing their dirty laundry in public. I don’t have as much insight into the motives of spiritual exhibitionists, but I have seen a fair amount of them here at camp. Usually towards the end of a retreat you will find them up front spilling their guts in front of a crowd. I think in some settings this is appropriate and helpful, but usually it just strikes me as a little narcissistic. I think it is more natural and certainly healthier to share such things with a small group of people (or an individual) that you have a relationship with- people who have demonstrated that they love you and love the Lord- people whom you can trust and who are equally serious about the pursuit of Godliness- not a crowd of strangers. Don't get naked in front of strangers. This is generally a good rule when contemplating any sort of nakedness.

Monday, January 19, 2009


1 free donut and 1 free fountain drink per shift covered a multitude of shabby treatment and unpaid overtime.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


What target market does this guy appeal to? Am I the only one who finds him off-putting? I think he's condescending, and he kind of puts off the vibe of a professor who all the kids think is cool. You know, one of those who has makes a career of thumbing his nose at orthodoxy and swearing in class. Very Dead Poets Society! Turns out he's actually kind of a creep because he's cheating on his wife with one of his students. I'm boycotting UPS until they retire this add campaign.




I intend to mail these back to you in the spring when you're back out at the lake, unless you would rather I mail them to you now for the purposes of your project. Let me know. I think it would be pretty easy to crop Brad out of some of the pictures if you needed to. I could do that on my computer. Let me know if it would be easier to get these in an e-mail.

This has got to be one of my favorite pictures of all time.

June 1948

June 1949

May 1948

May 1948

That's all I got. (P.S. Here's a link to the picture of you shooting the gun.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009



Ever since I read "Two Little Savages" as a little boy I have been a big fan of Ernest Seton-Thompson. Thanks to our friend, Abigail, I have now, in my possession, "The Trail of the Sandhill Stag." We are slightly unworthy of such a gift, and entirely unworthy of friends like the Owens. Right now I am reading the kids the Little House series, but as soon as we are done with that we will dive into this choice slice of Americana. The kids love his books- especially Bowden- and they were very excited to get it in the mail. Thanks Abigail for thinking of us!
His books evoke in me a desire to tramp the woods back home in Vermont.
"O' I long to walk through a soggy place
A shady place where water flows
Where mist in the air dampens my face
And dew on the grass my clothes."
I like too that he uses words like "creation," and that his writings, which celebrate his lifelong love for the outdoors, are not infused with the earth-worship of many of today's writers. I don't know where he stood with the almighty, but at least he rightly views the creation that he loves as just that- a created thing and a reflection of the creator. That makes the context of his stories more thoroughly enjoyable for me.

So cool!


There are scant few remaining domestic items from the pre-Sarah era, but every once in a while I will bump into some old friends that have survived the years and Sarah's merciless axe. These two items were thought by pre-Sarah Josh to be critically important in the manufacture of Maccaroni and Cheese- a staple in his diet. Like a kitten who was taken away from its mother too early I actually believed you needed to measure out the amount of milk exactly as directed on the back of the box. Their sturdy plastic construction and continued usefulness have earned them a lasting place in our cupboards. My old can opener, which was once described by my brother Joel as "the cadillac of can openers," was finally discarded last month. I insisted on doing it myself. I carried the old girl to the trash can with those same hands that had plucked it so eagerly from the display at the end of the aisle at price Chopper. It fell with a dull thunk against a can that she had failed to open. Its successor had been called upon to finish the job. I'm sorry old girl! It was hard for me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009




Like most young parents I find myself sizing up our culture with an increasingly critical eye, and like most, I find that the TV is a constant focus of concern. Violence, foul language, sexual imagery and more are indiscriminately fired buckshot into crowds of millions; crowds of wide-eyed kids seated Indian style before the barrel’s opening and soaking up every word, image and idea. Perhaps “indiscriminate” is a poor choice of words. Really the marketing behind most television programming and advertising allows producers to tailor content and packaging to a specific target audience for maximum effect. Whether the hearts and minds of my kids are specifically targeted or simply hit by stray bullets is not a moot point. It is significant and concerning, but these are tired talking points that others have articulated better before me.

There is something else, however, which worries me. The sheer volume of stories my kids consume has aroused a concern in me which I call the “main character” problem. With a few notable exceptions, the stories that are packaged for my kids tend to center around a main character. This is true regardless of whatever media is used to tell the story- TV, movies, books- they all do it. Even paintings and photographs tend to focus on a central figure or object. If the story is well crafted we feel and experience what happens to the main character as though it were happening to us. We are intended to identify throughout the story with the main character. Increasingly, Americans view life and the world through this foggy egocentric lens- we are all Truman. I shouldn’t wonder than that my kids tend to view themselves as the main characters, and this life as an unfolding drama centered on them. Mom, Dad, siblings and others all fall into the role of supporting cast or antagonist. I know that they are very young and that being egocentric is a natural stage of development, but what concerns me is the number of adults who retain these childlike traits well into adulthood. We have become a nation of main characters and I think this may be directly linked to the amount of media we consume. We are all chiefs and no Indians and the result is that no one seems willing to play the role of supporting cast in their marriages, communities, friendships or even their churches unless they stand to be noticed or appreciated for it.

Of course, to be prideful and self centered is a part of every person’s make up, but I think that this has never been so unashamedly indulged and unchecked in our culture prior to these days.

...sounds a little preachy. How do you know that, Josh?

I don’t, but I suspect it is true. I don’t want to be guilty of idealizing the past or reviling the present, but the contact I have had with the World War II generation has left me with the conviction that they, as a generation, possessed humility in greater measure than this current generation.

Ecclesiastes 7:10 says “Do not say, "Why were the former days better than these?" For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.” True, and if I may paraphrase and modify a line from President Nixon, “If I could choose any place and any time to live in I would choose the United States of America, 2009.” Sorry President Nixon, I know I butchered that. I think the current I-LOVE-ME-SOME-ME-culture allows for the message of the gospel to stand out in greater relief, and this represents tremendous possibilities. True ambassadors of Christ will not be able to hide, and will not be lost in, the crowd of a cultural Christianity that belonged to bygone days, and I think that some sincere naked contact between cultures is going to take place. Christ is equal parts attractant and repellant, and so are His people, but count it all joy! Stand tall!

I am not a main character.

I am not even supporting cast. Who can claim to be a support to the almighty? Who can add to His glory? Who does he need?

He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t need you, but we are all God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared in advance for us to do, and I delight in that fact.

In truth, we are all supported cast.

Friday, January 09, 2009


It turns out that Trinity Theological Seminary doesn't have any frats for distance learners, or, apparently, for those students actually attending classes at the Newburgh, IN campus. Bummer, right? Maybe I should start one. Yeah! A virtual online frat! That would be cool, huh? What should we call it? Hmmm....lets see...maybe Alpha Omega. That seems fitting.

AO for life, Baby!

Now what should I do to myself for Hell Week. Oh man, I'm gonna make my life miserable! I can't wait until I'm not a pledge anymore.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Did you see the men with bloody boots?
Did you see them on the trail?
Did you see their fever eyes?
Their wild beards, and ragged clothes?

Our own have gone into the woods,
With boots dull and dry,
No food,
No sleep-
A righteous anger their only fuel.


I was listening to a radio personality today as he talked about his new year's resolution to lose 50 pounds by January 1st, 2010. He was asked if he had made similar resolutions in years past, and he confessed that this had been the case every year for the past ten years or so. It got me thinking, do you think the percentage of people who fail to maintain diet and excercise regimens is similar to the percentage of Christians who fail to maintain spiritual disciplines such as spending regular time in God's word, prayer, and fellowship with other believers?

...or is the very question off base?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Lewis, Gordon R., and Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology. 3 vols in one. Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan, 1994. ISBN: 0310209153.

Vyhmeister, Nancy Jean. Quality Research Papers. 2d ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan,
2008. ISBN: 0310274400.
This book is an excellent resource and should be read in preparation for the writing assignment.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


To my knowledge she hasn't set foot out of our bedroom all day. I have made a few hushed trips up there with gatorade and expressions of sympathy, but this current malady has caused her to abandon English for a language of moans and groans. It is the language of a poet attempting to articulate misery most succinctly. Jack is also sick, and as I type he is crashed out on the couch for his second nap of the day with lips stained purple from the sippy cup of gatorade he has been nursing. Poor little guy. I am feeling as strong as a horse though, and Lucy, who is at my elbow, describes her condition as "fantastic." I am confident that tomorrow will dawn on a Tate house free of this pestilence.

At least I got a lot of posting done today, and I also completed the Trinity Theological Seminary Tutorial course, which tells me how to access the library and work within their system. I'm feeling pretty jazzed about that. Lets get this party started.


Trooper Irwack’s cruiser nosed up the long gravel driveway to Mrs. Lassiter’s house. The house was a handsome two story, white with green trim, and built in the federal style. Broad fields stretched away behind the house till they met the distant wood line. To the right of the house a small hill dropped away to a swamp. The stone foundation of an old outbuilding, overgrown with burdock and mullein, sat about halfway down the hill. The faint remnants of a road arched from the driveway to what would have been the front of the defunct outbuilding. To the left of the house was a small orchard, neatly enclosed within a stone wall, and beyond that were more woods that stretched uninterrupted all the way to the Springs Road. As the cruiser came to a stop in front of the house a cat jumped down out of sight into the old foundation.

Mrs. Lassiter, who was an ornithologist and a former professor at the University of Vermont, stood in the open doorway with a severe look on her face. A baseball cap was pushed down over her graying shoulder-length hair, and she was dressed in a brown sweatshirt, blue jeans and a pair of black rubber boots that came up nearly to her knees. The outfit struck Trooper Irwack as being kind of mannish, and he was reminded of a rumor he had heard that she was a lesbian.

“Hi, Mrs. Lassiter,” said the trooper as he exited his cruiser. He had learned not to say “good morning.” He had also learned never to start a conversation at a hospital, prison or court house with “How ya doin?” With a practiced air of concern and the appropriate amount of gravity he said, “I understand you had some trouble last night.”

She nodded her head gravely.

“What happened?”

Jill Lassiter was visibly shaken. She spoke in a voice that was choked and affected and had to stop often to wipe away tears with the back of her hand. Trooper Irwack scribbled a few notes into a pad of paper he had produced from a breast pocket as she recounted the night’s events.

“Well, I was asleep in my bedroom upstairs. It was at 12:37. I know that because I have an alarm clock right next to my bed. It was 12:37 when I heard a loud crash. That must have been when he kicked in the door."

"Who?" Trooper Irwack interrupted.

"Oh, I don't know."

"Sorry to interrupt, go on."

"Then I heard heavy footfalls at the bottom of the stairs. My bedroom is right at the top of the stairs and the door was open so my cats could come in and out if they wanted to. I was just paralyzed looking at the open door. At any moment I expected to see the frame of a man fill the doorway, and I didn’t know what I would do. I thought I was gonna get raped or killed or something. I was paralyzed. Truth is…I pissed my sheets. I haven’t done that since I was a little girl. Then I heard whoever it was run out of the house and across the porch…couldn’t have been in the house for more than minute, but it felt like an eternity. I could hear him moving around down there, and all I could do was lay there all wide-eyed and pissing my sheets.”

“I’m so sorry Mrs. Lassiter. We’ll do everything we can. Why did you wait to call us until 5:30?” asked the trooper.

“The only phone in the house was downstairs. I was too scared to go down there. So I locked myself in my bedroom until it was daylight. Then I got up enough nerve to venture down.”

“I see. Was anything taken?” asked Trooper Irwack.

“Yes, as best I can tell the only things missing are a box I had left on the kitchen counter and my rifle, which I kept in a closet just inside there.” With a finger she pointed inside the house in the direction of the closet.

“What was inside the box?”

“Some unusual bones I had collected from owl stool samples.”


“I hadn’t identified them yet, but they were highly irregular. I was going to take them to the University today.”

“Huh. Why would somebody want the box?”

Mrs. Lassiter shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know.”

“Did you talk to anyone about the box?"

“No. Well…just my colleague, Jerry Lebrun, up at the University, but he was looking forward to examining them with me today.”

“Do you suspect anyone, Mrs. Lassiter?”


Trooper Irwack stepped inside the house and took a few pictures of the smashed door with a digital camera. He tried to lift a finger print off the closet’s door knob, but was unsuccessful. He also recorded detailed descriptions of the box and rifle in his pad, and then asked, “Is there anything else that you can recall? Anything might be helpful, you never know.”

“The only thing I can think of was that I heard a gunshot from behind the house at 1:50. I know it was 1:50 because I have an alarm clock right next to my bed.”

“Behind the house?”

“Well…not close by…It sounded like it was way back there, but who would be shooting back in the woods at that hour?”

“How many shots?”

“Just one. Believe me, I was listening with both ears. It was just one.”

Trooper Irwack scribbled “one shot- 1:50-behind house,” into his pad, and then suggested that he might poke around the property a bit.

He didn’t think he would find anything. He just felt bad that he couldn’t do more for Mrs. Lassiter who was obviously upset, and it was mostly for her benefit that he wanted to make a show of doing all he could. He skirted the orchard and set out along the edges of the fields behind the house. As he walked the dew left sparkling droplets on the tops of his shiny boots and darkened his pant legs halfway up his shins. After ten minutes he came to a spot where a small brook trickled out of the woods and cut the fields in two. Across the brook a large pine loomed over the field, and at its base Trooper Irwack observed a small gray bundle. He jumped the ditch that contained the brook, and walked over to the bundle. Crouching down, he observed that it was an owl, shot cleanly through its middle. He used a nearby stick to roll it over and noted that its talons had been cut off.


He gripped the bird by its feet like an oversized chicken with its wings splayed out, and holding it awkwardly away from his body he cut through the fields to the house.

To be continued…


I don't understand the international uproar over Israel's recent invasion of Gaza. Where were the protesters when Israel was on the receiving end of rocket attacks for months on end? It's a sad commentary when the voice of Europe, Hamas and America's left are indistinguishable from each other.


Tom Ping is also concerned.