Real Life is full of Verbs, Said the Professor

Bob Stern, retired minister with lapiary as hobby

Roy Stern, retired minister who collects and polishes precious stones as a hobby

The guest speaker for the New Perspectives on Faith last Sunday was Brianne Donaldson, Ph.D., whose topic was “New Narratives for Animal Rights and Planetary Preservation: Jainism and Process Theology.” Brianne received a B.A. in Bible, religion, and philosophy from Goshen College in 2005 and an M.A. in theology and ethics from AMBS in 2007. She values her exposure to Anabaptist theology, but her pursuit of truth has taken her far afield in religion and philosophy. To learn more about her click here .

I am offering what seems to me to be no more than a child’s understanding of Brianne’s lecture. Real life, she explained, is not like a noun nor any object that exists with no regard for the well being of the living things that inhabit the earth. Rather, real life is more like a verb with an active flow of events and lives as harmlessly as possible.

petrified dinesaur poop from Bob Stern collection

petrified dinosaur “poop” from Roy Stern collection in the hands of our Activities Director who invited Stern to bring his collection to Evergreen Estates

I will try to illustrate:  This past Sunday was a big event in which small events flowed from one to another.  The first small event was the morning church service and Phil Waite’s sermon on the desire of King David to build a house for God.  God said, no, you will not build a house for me, but I will build a house (give linage) for you.

The first event flowed to the second event: meeting with the Borderlands group. Pastor Phil shared with us the report of CMC’s Growth Task Force. He said among other things that many church members of all denominations wish for a church they remember from their childhood and asked, How should church leaders help CMCers grieve what is not now and can never be again, and allow them to embrace the new thing that God is doing?

After the second event My Joy and I went to our respective apartments for nourishment and rest.  Then we plunged into the flow of the third dramatic event for the day. Gifted, trained and energetic Goshen College students performed Godspell under the tutelage of their professors. Their performance highlighted the teaching and life of Jesus in a compelling drama. It was impressive and amazing.

fossils from Bob Stern Collection

fossils from Roy Stern Collection

Exhausted as we were by the display of the tireless energy of the performers, My Joy and I went to her apartment for our Sunday evening repast of popcorn, raisens and peanuts.  After that pleasant pause in the flow we went to the fourth event of our day, the New Perspective on Faith lecture which I am reporting.

I recited to Brianne the four events that flowed through the day to our speaking to each other.  She smiled and asked “what next?”  “Yes, what next?” I echoed.  She said, “do your best to live harmlessly.”

That was not a new concept to me.  My father had explained that he gardened organically because he was a Christian and did not want to harm God’s good earth.

Unreal is noun-like
exists with no care for life
Real life flows verb-like

 As an afterthought my mind turned to the phrase “My life flows on in endless song”.  I googled it and came on numerous renderings of the classic titled:  “How can I keep but singing.” I give you a link to the first one I came on.  Click here to hear.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
This entry was posted in Biblical Interpretation, Church, Faith, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Real Life is full of Verbs, Said the Professor

  1. Carl Metzler says:

    Martin, thanks again for your blog. I always appreciate your perception of what happened at College Mennonite Church. I found it interesting that the link you gave to “My life flows on” was to a performance by a Unitarian choir, using the Pete Seeger version which is deChristianized (references to Christ and Lord are removed). Were you aware of this?
    Carl Metzler

    • No, I was not aware that the link I gave was to a dechristianized form of the song. I was attracted to it because the picture illustrations dealt with up-to-date issues. It was the first form that I saw when I went to you tube. I decided to look at the works of other artists, and then searched for a long time to find the first one again. I could have used a version by the Mormon Temple Choir.

  2. Jep Hostetler says:

    What next, indeed? We all need to ask that question every day. You are such an encouragement to me, you and your Joy doing all those things in one day, when folks half your age would not be so inclined. And your reporting is encouraging, enlightening, and fun to read. Keep up the good work.

  3. Sara Alice Zimmerly says:

    Thank you, Carl Metzler. I thought I noticed that too. It is Christ who gives me a new song, and in whatever is happening, a happy heart

    In a Bible study group we are studying the book of Revelation and I noticed the stones referred to again. I wonder if John knew these stones or if that was part of the revelation. Not that it matters because it’s not the point of the picture. It’d be interesting to make a list/comparison of Biblical stones, where they show up and for what purpose. And since stones can be very colorful, what might they look like, especially if they were polished or lighted.

    • Roy Stern had some stones that I recalled as names of gates to the holy city that descended from heaven. They were beautiful but small. If I have the opportunity to see them again I will take more careful notice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.