Saturday, July 23, 2011

When I Grow Up

I want to be a Bank.

Banks get money loaned at 0% interest, and can then loan it out at any interest rate they choose (right now 3.5% at minimum).

That's as close as I've ever seen to free money.

I want to be a Bank.

~ emrys

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Review: The Philippian Fragment

What do you get when you set the problems of twentieth-century ministry in the context of the first-century Church?

You get Calvin Miller's genius little read, The Philippian Fragment. With an insightful mix of contemporary congregational foibles, Latin and Greek erudition, and people getting thrown to the lions, Miller lifts up the heart of parish ministry. This series of letters recounts the trials and tribulations of Eusebius of Philippi as he writes of them to his confessor Clement. His (mis)adventures catalog some of the timeless conundrums of being a pastor: prerogatives of rich parishioners, competition with charismatic traveling evangelists, and whether Mother's Day has scriptural warrant.

I resonated with Miller's character Eusebius, laughed at the perfect Latin names, and found myself pricked by the implications for life in the Church from any age. What a fun read! Thanks to my friend Wes for passing it along to me.

~ emrys

Thursday, July 14, 2011


(A meditation on the mystery of Genesis 32: 24-32.)

(emrys tyler 2011)

Out of the darkness and sliver of moon
Drifted a stranger, a wraith-man of doom;
He came without greeting

Night-wrestling strangler, he grabbed at my limbs
Muscles contorting, teeth gritted and grim
My strongest grip meeting

Till in the deadlock with twist and a bend
Out of the hip-joint my thigh did he rend
A strike for defeating

Whose hospitality shows up at night,
Welcomes a stranger by starting a fight?
Who leaves his name never spoken?

Clutching in spite of the star-spinning ache
I dreaded, terror-struck, that he would take
My breath in his pressing

Then his first words, “Let me go,” did he say
“Dawn-light comes quickly,” the warning he gave
My weakness addressing

Trick-fearing, wary I'd never survive,
Needing a sign that he'd leave me alive,
I asked him a blessing

Who offers mercy right after the fist,
Back-handed love, or a grace with a twist,
Good words in agony soaken?

“Jacob,” he told me, “your shadows grow long
With your close blood-kin a record of wrongs
Has made you notorious

“Israel is your new name for all time
Nations will tell of you in song and rhyme:
In struggle victorious!”

Dawning then came to my soul what I'd done:
Gone nose-to-nose with a heavenly one
An enemy glorious

Who was this messenger, able to bless
Me with a name to be wrung from duress?
Surely an angelic token?

Sunrise revealed him gone without a trace,
Save for the cripple that's twisted my face
And soured my song

Curious grandchildren point out my limp;
“God,” I then tell them, “has made me a gimp;
The story is long.”

After they’ve heard it, I make sure they know
Hobbling pride is the way our God shows
To whom we belong

What kind of visitor comes in the night?
What kind of angel hides from the light?
What kind of God leaves me broken?

~ emrys

Monday, July 04, 2011

In Touch

A few weeks ago I took Gwendolyn out to cut back some of our overgrown bushes. After only a short time of watching me work, she wanted to try the hedge clippers. So I helped her put her small hands on the handles in the right direction and led the blades toward some snapdragons. (Snapdragons don't require much force to cut.) The clippers were too heavy for Gwendolyn to hold up, but if I bore the weight then she could manage to pull hard enough to cut the weeds. She remained quite focused and patient with the task, more so than I would have expected from a young lady who throws a fast tantrum when she can't get her arm in a shirt sleeve right away.

When I go out to check the garden in the morning I take Gwendolyn along. She helps to weed the squash beds, getting very dirty in the process. The carries the bucket behind me to pick strawberries and, today, early green beans. She knows which asparagus spears to grasp and how to break them off. (She also knows that they can be eaten right there in the lawn.) Soon she will know where tomatoes come from and how to pull up carrots from the soil.

I have some agendas for my daughter's education. One of them is for her to learn that food--ultimately all food--comes from the soil. I want her to understand that dirt--the stuff we wash off before meals and bedtime, the stuff we pave over with concrete, the stuff that looks lifeless and bland--is the substrate of life. I want her to know that no matter how advanced we humans become in areas of technology and medicine we still have a symbiosis with soil. I want her never to think that food "comes from" the supermarket in any broad sense. Behind every bunch of grapes in the produce aisle I want her to see a hillside in Chile or a vineyard in Ithaca. I want her to have a keen awareness that humanity cannot, strictly speaking, produce food for itself; God must grow food from the earth.

We are blessed to live in a rural community where the green of life grows up all around us: where weeds take over, alfalfa thickens on the curves of the land, and cows are milked for the cheese we eat. Wherever we live in the future, I want Gwendolyn to know about earth, and what it means to have one's hands in it.

~ emrys