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Archive for April, 2018

 

We laid Dad to rest between these mountains two days ago.

Never have the words ‘laid to rest’ seemed so appropriate, so purposed, so fine. These last years of Dad’s life were restless. Now there is rest. Here. In this fine valley, between these mountains.

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I took Dad’s dented car—one of the used ‘Gray Goose’ erstwhile-flower-carrying Ford station wagons from the funeral home that made for great value—down to Nelson’s Express where he was working nights. I feared he’d murder me for backing it into a telephone pole down on Union Street so soon after getting my driver’s license. (more…)

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To download in PowerPoint the photographic montage from Dad’s viewing, click here:

Raymond Daniel Baer 1927-2018

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Raymond Daniel ‘Mim’ Baer passed away at the Stonebridge Health and Rehabilitation Center on April 17, 2018. He was 90 years old.

2018-04-18-0003Born October 29, 1927 to James Alvin Baer and Sallie Naomi Hoy Baer, Mim was a lifetime resident of Millersburg except for the six years he spent playing minor league baseball in Wisconsin, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, and other midwestern states for the Chicago White Sox organization.

From evening and weekend games played on sandlot fields in Dauphin and Northumberland counties for Millersburg ‘town teams’ to the innings he spent threading curve balls past up-and-coming big leaguers like Hank Aaron in Wisconsin and North Dakota, baseball was a lifelong passion that Mim successfully passed along to his children and grandchildren.

Mim served his community for many years as a member of the Millersburg Borough Council and for several years served as that body’s president. He was a member and lay leader of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and, later, of David’s Community Bible Church. His resolute but soft-spoken faith extended as well into the solid integrity that characterized his life at work, in the home, and among his fellow Christians in these two Millersburg churches, which were the spiritual home that Mim shared with his wife Dorothy and the family they raised.

After bringing his baseball bride back to Millersburg from northern Wisconsin, Mim drove truck for nearly forty years as an employee of Millersburg’s Nelson’s Express.

Raymond was preceded in death by his sister Catherine Potter and his brother Allen Baer. He is survived by his wife Dorothy, daughters Aimee McKone and Karen Baer, sons David and Jonathan Baer, seven grand-children, and six great-grandchildren. They join his friends in remembering him for reliability, a superb work ethic, frugality, respect, and the usually unspoken conviction that to let people down or otherwise fail to run out a ground ball was ‘bush league’ and simply unacceptable.

After years of suffering in the wake of a debilitating stroke, Mim now has his ‘stuff’ back and rejoices safely in the arms of Jesus.

Mim’s viewing and funeral will be held at David’s Community Bible Church on Saturday, April 21 at 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., respectively.

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The alt-right seeks an account of what we are meant to be and serve as a people, invoking race as an emergency replacement for our fraying civic bonds. It is not alone; identity politics on the left is a response to the same erosion of belonging. But race is a modern category, and lacks theological roots. Nation, however, is biblical. In the Book of Acts, St. Paul tells his Gentile listeners, ‘God has made all the nations [ethnos].’ The Bible speaks often of God’s creation, judgment, and redemption of the nations. In Christ there is no Gentile or Jew, yet God calls us into his life not only as individuals but as members of communities for which we are responsible.

Today there are bespoke theologies for most every identity in American life. Meanwhile, we lack a compelling civic theology for the twenty-first century—a theology of the nation, not for the nation. In its absence the alt-right will continue to grow. Young men like Dan need the gospel. But they also need an account of nationhood that teaches them about their past, without making them fear the future; an account of civic life that opens them to transcendence, rather than closing them to their neighbors. In his last book, Memory and Identity, John Paul II reflected movingly on the Christian meaning of our earthly homelands. He denied that Christians have no ‘native land’ in this life and defended the nation as a natural community. Against those seeking a post-national world, he urged Western nations to preserve their languages, histories, and religious traditions. The ‘spiritual  self-defense’ of our homelands, he wrote, is part of our moral obligation, commanded by God, to honor our fathers and mothers.

A nation will become an idol, however, if its cultural inheritance is not oriented toward, and inwardly transformed by, a divine inheritance. ‘The inheritance we received from Christ,’ the late pope argued, ‘orients the patrimony of human native lands and cultures towards an eternal home land.’ The church midwifed many nations into existence, and it can renew their cultures still. For now it must suffice to say the alt-right cannot. It speaks of tradition, while transmitting no traditions. It guards a false patrimony, while destroying real ones. Its mistake is fundamental and tragic. Race offers no inheritance, and its mere preservation reflects no human achievement. Our stories, art, music, institutions, and religious traditions—unlike race—are transmitted only through special efforts of human intelligence and love. They are a bequest of the spirit, not blood.

The alt-right speaks a seductive language. Where liberalism offers security and comfort, the alt-right promises sacrifice and conflict. Although the struggle its intellectuals and activists envision is imaginary, it does not matter: Theirs is a sounder view of human needs. Human beings desire more than small pleasures in the routines of life. We also seek great challenges in the face of d death. And here Christianity speaks another, more necessary, and no less demanding language. ‘When Christ calls a man,’ wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘he bids him come and die,’ and in dying, to receive true life. For Christians, the problem with Faustian man is not the vaunting heroism of his aims. It is the pitiable smallness of his goals. We are not meant to merely aspire to the infinite. We are called to participate in it—to be, in a word, deified. Faust could not overcome death. Through Christ, Christians already have.

— Matthew Rose, ‘The Anti-Christian Alt-Right’ in First Things (March 2018)

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Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, narrated sparely in this Audible Books version by Jill Masters, is nearly too sad for the bearing.

Hardy sees into the human heart with an eye for our folly that is Dickensian in its penetration. He turns that gaze on his invented rural ‘Wessex’, picking up the peregrinations of a pure young woman whose every turn is stalked by shadow.

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In the end, sixteen hours into drive time peppered with this listener’s audible gasps at each stunning turn, Tess becomes the victim of all that is artifice, class, and convention. In Jill Masters’ narration there is not a note of melodrama. She tells her tale with the same unflinching resignation that is Tess Durbeyfield, then Tess D’Urberville, then Tess a martyr to layers of unkindness that become in the aggregate a murderous and murdering weight.

An absolute heart-ache of a listen, impossible to forget, incapable of abbreviation. There is no shortcut to the conclusion of Hardy’s most signature work. It takes sixteen hours to get there. Listen.

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There is more than one way to tell the story of the battle for Hue, an awful battle in an awful year of an awful war.

51jmtuMP+eL._SL175_Mark Bowden’s Hue, narrated huskily by Joe Barrett with a voice that was created for this story, tells of Hue with the unrelenting insistence of tragedy. The author has distinguished himself as the author of military histories that bulge with empathy for all players. Hue is no exception, in fact this work may fairly be considered Bowden’s calling card.

Though there are villains aplenty in Bowden’s tale, General William Westmoreland stands head and shoulders above them all for sheer self-delusion and defiance of evidence from the field. As a result of Westie’s pig-headed refusal to accept that Hue was a real battle waged by a determined enemy with truly threatening capabilities, Hue took the lives of more American Marines, more ARVN troops, more Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars, and more civilians who had called the graceful provincial capital their home than any reasonable calculus demanded. This at least is Bowden’s story, told unforgivably and with due note of the pathos that clings to almost every anecdote of this three-and-a-half week conflagration. (more…)

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