New Blog Series: An Introduction

In late 2012, I created a character called Arthur Lough and introduced him to readers in my final blog post for that year. At the time, I never dreamed Arthur would become the instrument through which I would tell my story to all who were interested in knowing more about my pilgrimage, but here we are, more than three years later, and Arthur is more important than ever to that enterprise.

In the fall of 2014, I published my first book, an autobiographical novel in which Arthur Lough becomes my alter ego and the subject of the narrative. I created a back story for Arthur so that I could think about him as a person distinct from myself throughout the process of writing the book, but that would be, as the philosophers say, a distinction without a difference. Arthur is mainly me, and his story is mainly my story. Continue reading

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Letting Off Some Steam: An Unexpected and Very Personal Post

Well, it didn’t take long for me to break my self-imposed fast from Facebook and this blog, but I need to say something in response to some personal messages I have received lately (based on the assumption that if some people are voicing thoughts like this, at least a few more are probably thinking them without saying anything).

My daughter is a single mother with an active, healthy eight-year-old son who is in the third grade and doing very well in a challenging academic and social environment. She is employed full-time in a helping profession that requires her to travel extensively in the local area and to be on-call and available for emergencies even when she is off-duty. Continue reading

Could It Happen Again?

I had never heard of the term “epic fail” when I went through one in 1986.

At age 36, I was in my second year as pastor of a large Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, VA. I had joined the church’s staff as an associate pastor in 1982 and was 2called, by unanimous vote of the congregation, to succeed my popular predecessor, who had served in that role for nearly twenty years, when he moved on to a church in Pennsylvania in 1984. Two years into my term, things were not going well. I was exhausted—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—and discouraged. In early January, I resigned, fairly sure that I lacked the gifts necessary for effective pastoral ministry and maybe for vocational ministry of any sort. Continue reading

Me? A Leader?

Four times over the past couple of weeks, someone responding to something I posted on Facebook referred to me as a leader. Each time the term was preceded by an adjective. Twice I was called a Christian leader, once a church leader, and once a spiritual leader. Three out of the four references commended me for my role and service as a leader. The fourth was more along the lines of “You call yourself a leader and still write the stuff you do?”. Continue reading

The Importance Of Perspective

I bumped into Arthur at Whole Foods yesterday. I was studying the label on a loaf of flax-meal bread when I heard his familiar voice. “It sure costs a lot to eat healthy, doesn’t breadit?” he asked, smiling.

“Yes,” I replied. “I have a buddy who refers to this place as ‘Whole Paycheck.'”

We both laughed, then Arthur said, still smiling, “That line would be a lot funnier if I actually had a paycheck.”

“I hear you,” I said. “Still, you look like you’re in a good mood.”

“I am,” he said. “I got a couple of emails yesterday that positively made my day.”

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Arthur: If I Had It To Do Over

Arthur called last week to ask if I would like to accompany him to a baseball game. Columbus is home to a pretty good minor league team, the Triple-A affiliate of the American League’s Cleveland franchise. A friend of his with season tickets was out of Baseball (1)town on business, so he had given Arthur his tickets for the game he would miss while he was traveling.

Arthur’s wife, Ellie, is an enthusiastic baseball fan, and ordinarily she would have used the second ticket. On this occasion, however, she was involved in some sort of work-related activity which she could not circumvent, and so Arthur offered her ticket to me. I was happy to accept.

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Some Questions And Answers

My recent blog post titled “It Still Makes Me Wince,” in which I reflected on circumstances related to and arising from my five years (and counting) of unemployment, prompted some specific questions by a few of my readers. I felt they were important enough to warrant a public response.Q & A

Question: How many résumés have you sent out; how many online job vacancies have you responded to? How broadly have you “cast your net” in an attempt to find a job?

Answer: In the first year or so after I lost my job, I sent out numerous résumés, filled out a lot of online applications, and responded to job opening ads wherever I found them. It was a new experience for me. Most of those contacts and inquiries did not even result in an acknowledgement of receipt. When I began preparing for Anglican Holy Orders, I essentially stopped looking elsewhere. I have sent out no résumés recently.

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