Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

Pastor Mike married us. And he baptized both kids.

A few years after that he moved back out to the West coast; a place where his soul really belonged.

We’d message on FB occasionally. He was learning to play guitar and I’d ask what he was listening too or what he was learning to play.

Johnny Cash was a common subject for both of us. Johnny’s ‘American’ series of recordings were some of our favorites. Mike would give me a verse from Tennessee Stud or Delia’s Gone and I’d give him the next. It was a neat way to connect with one of my favorite people.

Mike died of a brain tumor this winter.

I’m lighting a production of ‘Ring of Fire’ at the Rochester Civic Theater. It’s a Johnny Cash retrospective. Not much story, just a lot of his music played by 5 different singer/musicians. The other night at rehearsal they practiced Delia’s Gone.

I thought of Mike and how, maybe to no-one but myself, this show was for him.

I left rehearsal and headed for home. Checked some fields along the way. Stopped to check on our neighbor’s house since they are gone on vacation, stopped to close the gates at the end of our driveway and saw a motorcycle coming down the road. And I sort of groan inwardly… dang bikers. Thought I better get the gate shut quick.

As the bike gets closer I see it’s more of a scooter and a couple about my age on it. I say Hello and pull one gate shut. They pull up a little closer and call my name. And when they take the helmets off, it’s John and Mary.

Pastor John who was associate pastor with Pastor Mike.

I’m pretty sure Mike sent them out to see us tonight.

And I thought of this group of Baboons and Serendipity again.

Got a favorite religious person?



32 thoughts on “Johnny”

  1. I met Robert Schuller many years ago at a book signing at B. Dalton. I was in charge of author signings so I spent the evening hovering close by as hundreds of people filed in to get a book signed and to say hello, shake his hand, even get an occasional hug. It was pretty overwhelming. But in in the midst of all that, Mr. Schuller had the ability to make each and every person he met feel as if they were the only person in his world at that moment – with complete focus and attention. And it sound schmaltzy to say but with love. It was amazing. While I didn’t agree with his religious views, I was really impressed with this ability of his. The only other person I’ve met that has this talent was Leo Buscaglia.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Robert Schuller’s Aunt Mabel lived in my home town and was our study hall monitor. Nobody messed with Mabel, which is what you want in Jr. High Studay Hall.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. OT. Blevins page is updated:

    Sunday, August 12
    2 p.m.
    Minnehaha Falls (our usual park location)
    Sourdough by Robin Sloan
    Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller
    (Back-up location is Jacque’s in case of inclement weather)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a great story, Ben. Thanks so much for it.

    My wife, before we got married, was a nominal Catholic. The church in those days could be a bit of a bully. One of its rules was that a non-Catholic could not marry a Catholic in a Catholic church until I accepted the primacy of the church . . . until I converted. Practically speaking, that meant my fiancee and I had to attend meetings to instruct me in the ways of the Catholic church.

    That would have been offensive were it not for the sweet soul who taught those lessons at the University of Minnesota, a man named Father Harry Bury. In preliminary discussions I was frank with Father Bury, telling him I could never become a Catholic. He smiled and said, “The word ‘Catholic’ means many things, including the idea of a universal religious spirit. In that spirit we all embrace the core idea of religion, especially the sense that we are all put on earth to be kind to each other. You could be comfortable with that, right?” I said I could. Father Bury said, “So we will talk about how you can be a good catholic with a small ‘C’.” And we did.

    Father Bury went on to become famous for his ardent opposition to the war in Vietnam. He once chained himself to the gates of the US Embassy in Saigon to publicize his contempt for the war. The government of Vietnam has given him an award for this and other acts.

    I just learned that Father Bury is still alive. Now 95, he has recently written a book about how we can think and feel differently in the new millenium.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I like your catholic story with Father Bury. One of my sisters married a Catholic Man. She took he classes and converted. I was too young to know what all was going on but back in the mid ’70’s it was almost scandalous. Sounds like it was a pretty big deal that my Mom and Dad let her do that. Course the first baby was born not quite far enough into wedlock. So I guess there were extenuating circumstances… Not sure how much the Catholic Church knew about that at the time…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I would have to say Ram Dass, AKA Richard Alpert, who (unfortunately) may be best known for his research with Timothy Leary “in the religious use of psychedelic drugs”. After traveling to India and finding a spiritual teacher, he went on to become a spiritual leader himself, wrote many insightful books, and founded/co-founded several foundations focused on “the spiritual well-being of society through education, media and community service programs”, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. He has also helped launch the “conscious dying” movement. (This from Wiki and his own site, ) I got to see him speak in the 80s and was very moved by his thoughts and his presence.

    In 2000 he’d written a book on aging called “Still Here”. He commented more recently, however, that “his earlier reflections about facing old age and death now seem naive to him.” I’ll second that.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve mentioned Sr. Beth on here before. She’s a dear friend, and probably the most loving and consistently cheerful person I know. At the age of 94, and in very poor health, she now lives in Mankato at the SSND convent. She has difficulty hearing, can hardly see, and is too weak to walk, yet you never hear a peep of a complaint from her. She has the most wonderful sense of humor, and writes great handwritten letters with some regularity.

    Sr. Beth has been a nun since she was 18 years old, and has taught in any number of mostly Catholic schools in St. Paul. I met her when she was teaching English to a small group of Mexican ESL students at the Guadalupe Alternative Programs. I can only imagine the number of students she has touched over a very long career.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Tech rehearsal for Ring of Fire today. Doing a “10 of 12” meaning 10AM – 10 PM with 2 hour for lunch 3-5.
      Unless you’re the lighting guy or Tech crew and you have too much today. I was here early, worked through most of lunch. (I had time to find the Colonus video didn’t I?) and will be here late. Almost the same tomorrow.
      Good thing I like Johnny Cash music.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m pretty much a life-long atheist, but have envied the community spirit of people in religious organizations. Just one friend sticks out who is exceedingly religious: Debbie. After her first marriage ended with her husband having an affair, she later married a church associate pastor, Greg. They walk the talk and, in my mind are the finest example of Christianity I’ve ever known.

    They decided to visit Africa in search of some limited mission. 25 years later, they’re still there. The service and work they’ve done with poor Kenyans has been phenomenal and ever-expanding. They built a school from scratch – all Kenyan labor with no power tools – and have graduated hundreds. They’ve taught them trades, but mostly aimed these youths toward college. One just became an airline pilot.

    Through the years, Deb’s posted countless pictures and heart-rending stories of these kids, the tragedy of white land owners being shot to death, attending births and weddings, videos of dancing. I visited them a year ago in Kenya. I was overwhelmed by their spirit of service to others.

    For her this has been a calling and a lifelong mission. I know it’s all about serving God, but she rarely speaks of this to me. I guess out of respect for my absence of believing. Over all of these years, I’ve seen her life and what she’s done with it and felt, beyond a doubt, that she’s the most fulfilled person I’ve ever met.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I think people who get it do their work without making it a god thing. It’s simply the right thing. My friend ken was one who responded to my thanking him for giving me the better piece of pie with the revelation that that’s what you do when you get it truely
      when you grab two pieces of pie and choose which is the best one give that one to the other person. That’s true easy to understand model that expands as far as you want to take it. It’s been life changing for me. I saw him a couple of months ago and he now opens and closes meetings and meals with a group prayer saying something like thank the lord whatever that means to you.. he is a religious guy who wears it proudly on his own level and understands that many people do it many ways. I like that.

      My favorite religious guy these days is the pope
      I would have bet big time against this being a statement I would utter. I am elated to be the loser of this bet. What a great model for all. The movie on francs I saw a couple months ago was very good. I would recommend it.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I read something about the coming of age religious book sidheartha by Hesse I read in high school
    It was what I needed at the time. It’s nice others question the same fundamentals I did all those years ago
    Evidentially stuff holds up over time

    Liked by 2 people

        1. responded yesterday that i got it
          renee wants to know how i like it
          the plum and the strawberry are very nice
          not overpowering but very flavorful
          the orange marmalade is like nectar
          little angels dancing on my tongue

          Liked by 3 people

  8. OT – I just placed my order for two tickets to the Peter Ostroushko fundraising pot-luck and concert at St. Joan of Arc’s church on July 22nd.
    There are only 66 tickets left. If you intend to go, I recommend reserving your tickets soon. You can get a refund if you cancel up to one day before the event. This should be fun.


  9. OT – I learned a new word today and it turned into a full-fledged Baader-Meinhof experience. After watching the 1990-something movie of “A Little Princess” with my granddaughter this weekend, it seemed different than the book I remembered reading as a kid. I decided to look up the book to read a synopsis. It was described as being in the genre “bildungroman”; I have no memory of ever hearing the term. Later that day, I was looking at the list of new shows and movies available on Netflix in July. One of the movies is “An Education” (2009) –
    Carey Mulligan stars in this bildungsroman about an English girl about to graduate from school.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I just want to thank all of you for keeping a conversation going with such wise, intelligent and articulate people. And to Steve for taking the risk of inviting me in (and it was a risk!). I’m very grateful to all of you.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I suppose my favorite religious writer would be Anne Lamott. I think her interpretation of Christianity is probably pretty close to what Christ actually had in mind.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi kids! Home relaxing after a long weekend in the theater. Wasn’t “hard” work, just long. Most of it sitting in a dark booth hunched over the light board. We’d get breaks and I’d go outside for a few minutes. And on longer breaks could refocus lights or do something.
    I have some really nice looks if I do say so myself. I’ll get pictures later this week.

    Religious persons; growing up there was Pastor Quello; his sermons were always funny so I liked him.
    Pastor Baker was the youth minister. He led confirmation classes. Nice guy and once during a lesson he got his foot hooked under the bar on the front of a folding chair and I had a fit of giggles over him trying to get his foot out of there.

    And then Pastor Mike. We had our wedding classes with him and I think I’ve told the story of him coming to my bachelor party.
    Pastor John (the guy on the scooter) is also just a lot of fun. He’s started his own church here in Rochester. I always enjoy my talks with John. And you won’t find many people with such a positive outlook on life as him.

    Thanks for sharing this weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

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