Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The 40th

We went to Anchorage to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Some couples go somewhere exotic for a big anniversary like one's 40th. We flew from our Kodiak Island home to Anchorage which for many people would be exotic enough. It is at least a long way off from the Lower 48. It was not warm, however, with snow on the ground and threats of freezing rain. The foul winter weather was hinted at by the rental car clerk who talked me into doubling my rate and moving up to a 4 wheel drive. You'll be glad you did, she said. I'm not so sure I thought about it much until it came time to pay the bill. While Anchorage may be exotic to some, to us it is familiar. We have been there dozens of times. We have our favorite spots to stay: The Captain Cook Hotel and to eat: Snow City Cafe for breakfast and Glacier Brewhouse for dinner (even though they destroyed the salmon with a way too generous coating of barbecue sauce). We always hit the bookstores and Fred Meyer. We watch a movie at one of those theaters that show more than one at a time like we have in Kodiak. This time we saw Denzel Washington in Flight which was probably not a good choice for someone who lives on an island and depends on air travel. I will try to smell my pilots breath on every flight I take from now on. So, we didn't go to Hawaii or the Caribbean or even Mexico for our  Big 4-0. There was no big party to attend to mark that date. We didn't even dress up to go out to dinner. This is Alaska, after all, and when you are walking in 20 degree temps through ice and snow jeans, fleece and hiking boots are more practical. The important thing is I went with the same woman with whom I have gone 39 other times so I didn't really care if I was in Anchorage or someplace more exotic. Anywhere with her was just fine with me. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Through the Fog

Ed Dobson has done a lot in his life. He was Jerry Falwell's right hand man during the building of the Lynchburg University empire and the Moral Majority days. Later he renounced his political activity and called Evangelicals back to their main ministry - evangelism and missions - in a book written with columnist Cal Thomas. Then, he became pastor of a large church in Grand Rapids. After 18 years there he got ALS. He found out in 2000, stayed on at the church for a few years and then resigned. The doctors gave him 2 to 5 years. He has lived almost 12 but most of his muscle functions have now succombed to the crippling disease. This book, Through the Fog, was written on a voice activated computer. Over the past ten years he has been able to be pretty active. He wrote a book a few years back called The Year of Living Like Jesus which I read and blogged about. In 2008 he endorsed Obama for president because of his study of the gospels. He stated simply that Obama was the most like Jesus of the candidates. It cost him many Evangelical supporters. In this new book which he says will be his last he talks about dying honestly and practically. He talks about what he has discovered about prayer, healing (or not), worry, forgiveness, and gratitude. He talks about what Christians have done and said that have been helpful and other things that have not been helpful. Like I said it is a very honest book. It is clear from the book that Dobson's faith and family are very important to him. He loves life and is not ready to die. He is not afraid to die but he has been afraid of the process of dying. And he grieves what he will be leaving behind. He wants to stick around as long as he can. There have been several bestselling Christian books in recent years about someone dying and going to heaven and then returning to tell us what it was like. It was great, of course. There was even one by a child that became a bestseller. His father wrote down what his son told him heaven was like. But there are no Christian bestsellers that talk about the suffering that comes while we wait to die. And how God is part of that process. It is not hard to see what God has been up to in Ed Dobson's life during the past decade in which he has been dying of ALS. Ed has graciously shared his struggles with us and we are able to see God's strength in Ed's weakness.