Sunday, May 21, 2017

Young Turks

Professor Emeritus of Systematic
Theology Theodore H. Runyon
Young Turks - Young persons eager for radical change in established organizations. 

People still, after all these decades, ask me, "How did you and your husband get involved in Civil Rights?  Of course, there's no one simple answer.  We were "called" for sure but it was definitely a journey.

Around 1965 Ken and I, along with our two toddlers, left our home and our suburban lifestyle in Plantation, Florida in exchange for three years at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  We knew we were called to inner city work.  If we'd gone to another seminary and Ken studied under different professors, I know things would have been different.

But at Emory, we both came under the influence of four young professors who were eventually called the "Young Turks."  Two of them, Bill Mallard and Ted Runyon, were especially impactful.

Ted Runyon died on May 11th at the age of 87.  Here is a small portion of a remembrance by Kendall Soulen:

...He was a member of the storied faculty cohort...known as "the young Turks" by their older colleagues.  Ted and his academic peers were instrumental in Candler's early involvement in the Civil Right movement, as well as other hot-button issues of a turbulent era, including liberation theology, the global struggle for human rights, and the "death of God" controversy.  Still without tenure in the early 1960s, and so not privy to the meetings of full professors, the young Turks met together informally to read each other's work and for mutual support and encouragement.

Ted Runyon was a Fulbright scholar who received his doctorate on the theology of Paul Tillich at the University of Gottingen.  That tells us a lot.

I understand that he was loved and respected all over the world but we in Florida claimed him as our own.  I hate to think how our lives and careers would have been different if it had not been for visionaries like Ted Runyon and others on the Emory campus in the 1960s and beyond.

P.S.  When my husband, David Runyan, first came to Florida and he started meeting tons of United Methodists, many times the first question he would be asked was "Are you related to Ted?'  The first few times he said "Yes" because his father was named Ted - and was a Methodist minister and educator.  But, eventually he leaned to say "No, but I hear he's a great guy."


Thursday, May 18, 2017

More of Why I Love Florida

Florida's Next Governor?
Here are some more "Why I Love Florida" stories - all straight from the pages of this morning's Orlando Sentinel.

Thank Goodness It Wasn't a Snake
A Miami woman called 911 to report finding an iguana in her toilet.  The cops asked if it was really an iguana and not a snake.  Even though snakes are pretty common in South Florida toilets,  I don't really understand how you could mistake an iguana for a snake or why it would make a difference.  They removed the iguana.

Naked Squatter
Squatters are common in some parts of Florida.  Cops were called about a naked woman squatting (by that I mean living illegally) in a Big Pine Key home.  An officer knocked on the door.  The naked woman answered.  She refused to get dressed and this resulted in, first a tussle, and then the officer having to call for backup.

Never French Kiss a Poisonous Snake
Not a Snake
A man in Bostwick is in critical condition after he tried to kiss his eastern diamondback rattlesnake on the lips.  The snake bit him on the tongue.

And finally:

Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell tells us that some Democrats are hoping that South Florida resident Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson will run for governor for Florida.  Scott points out a couple of problems: Dwayne has no experience, is not a Democrat, and he hasn't voted in an election in ten years.

However he's a very rich celebrity and has expressed interest in running for the presidency.  I agree with Scott when he says about Dwayne "In other words, he's White House material."


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day - Again

Hope this has been a good day for you.  As my minister, David Miller, said this morning, "Celebrate if you had a mother!"  That pretty much covers all of us.  He went on to tell us the difference between honoring and loving.  They are not the same thing.

Since my older kids are in their 50s, I've had my share of Mother's Days.  It's never been my favorite holiday, especially, when my kids were little and I was married to a minister.  For instance, back in the day we used to celebrate the oldest mom (sometimes two old ladies would have an argument across the sanctuary,) the youngest mom (what's to celebrate about a 15 year old giving birth,) and (my personal favorite) the mom with the most kids.  I won this last one a couple of times, and since I was the minister's spouse, some other moms thought it was unfair.

I actually thought that myself.

Also some of the Mother's Day sermons were (not by Ken but other ministers, of course) terrible.  My favorite terrible ones had to do with getting us moms to shape up and do a better job.  My particular favorite was a story this minister told about a terrible mom who didn't get up and make her son's lunch so he got into trouble in school for having a baloney sandwich and a can of beer in his lunch box.

This impressed me since I did not pack my older kids' lunches at that time.  We all got up early but they were on their own with the lunch packing.

So my response to the sermon was this:  When we got in the car on that Mother's Day in the 70's I asked them to please not ever put a can of beer in their lunch boxes because it would make me look bad.

I was fine with the baloney sandwich.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Get Out of Dodge

Summer and winter and spring time and harvest,
Sun moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. - Great is Thy Faithfulness

I'm reading a book called Saturn Run, supposedly written by one of my very favorite writers, John Sanford, but he's obviously had help from, not only his co-author, Ctein, but other space geeks because it's very sciencey.  It's about us earthlings having to get ourselves to Saturn on the double.

And now this week we've got Dr. Stephen Hawking telling us (for real) that we need to be ready to find another planet to live on within the next one hundred years because we are rapidly screwing this one up.  His top five reasons are:
  • Climate change
  • Threat of nuclear war
  • Genetically engineered viruses
  • Population growth
So while Dave and I are thinking through ways of staying in our condo for the long term (aging in place) Dr. Hawking is telling us we might need to leave the planet unless we change our ways. 

This morning during communion I was reading through my favorite verse of one of my favorite hymns (quoted above.)  By the way, the music to this great hymn was written by Dave's grandfather, William Runyan.  

I just hope that God really does have faith in us to work together with all other living things to save this planet.  I'm not up for a trip to Saturn.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

100 Most Influential People in the World

I finally finished reading all of the bios in Time magazine's 100 most influential people.  The bios are written by other famous people.  This is always a tremendous learning process for me. They're in five categories:

  • Pioneers
  • Artists
  • Leaders
  • Titans
  • Icons
Some I didn't know (so I learned something,)  some I didn't like (Putin, for example,) some I could not figure out why they're on the list (Rupaul, for example.)

I understand why Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are on the list even though Henry Kissinger's bio of Jared is extremely non committal.  Also in the Pioneers category, along with Zika virus expert, Celina Turchi and Chobani CEO, and big time refugee hiring boss, Hamdi Ulukaya, we have Chance the Rapper.  I didn't understand that choice until I read his bio (by Common.)

So happy to see in the Leaders category Melinda Gates and Pope Francis, two of my favorite people.  (They could have been in all five categories.)

I learned a lot about what it means to be a Titan.  Happy to see George Church on the list, with bio by Stephen Colbert.  And I'm even OK with Tom Brady being on this Titan list. 

As for the last category, Icons, I wish there had been a definition of the word.  Viola Davis is an excellent actor whose fame is long overdue, but Icon?  I agree with having John Lewis on the list, for a variety of reasons.  But Rupaul?



Friday, April 28, 2017

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

With these books I shall transform the Little Chinese Seamstress.  She'll never be a simple mountain girl again. - Luo

Finding good books is tough.  Yes, I belong to a book club and that helps but the best way, for me, is when someone who knows me well says, "Here, read this book.  You'll like it."

A while back my friend, Charlotte handed me the book "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" and said, "Here, read this book.   You'll like it."

It takes place during the Chinese re-education program that started in 1966 and lasted for ten years.  The revolution was intended to stamp out educated people, and go back to old ideas.

More specifically, the idea was to wipe out books.

Two teen aged boys are sent into the mountains to be re-educated through hard labor.  But they are smart and mischievous and along the way they manage to steal some great books, including books by Balzac and "The Count of Monte Cristo."  The boys are great at story-telling so, for the most part, the people in the villages love them.  Especially the Little Chinese Seamstress.  And both of them fell in love with her.

Each chapter in this little book is a sweet, funny, sometimes terrifying story about their adventures.  To me, it's almost totally a story about the power of books to change our lives.

And, as for the boys, they were right about the Little Chinese Seamstress never being the same again. In the end she is empowered by the stories and leaves everything behind, including the boys, to find a better life for herself.

And I can personally relate to the Little Chinese Seamstress.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Patriot's Day

What I saw today, good versus evil, love versus hate.  There's only one weapon you have to fight back with, it's love.  We wrap our arms around each other, I don't think that there's any way that they could ever win. - Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Saunders in Patriot's Day.

When we left Boston a few days ago they were gearing up for the Boston Marathon.  It was held last Monday, April 17th.  So, while we were kind of drenched in Boston history and heroism, we were also made very aware of the most recent acts of extreme bravery and heroism.

Dave and I watched the film last night.  As everybody in the planet knows, at the 2013 Boston Marathon two Russian born, half-Chechan brothers detonated two pressure cooker bombs at the finish line.  Most of us saw it on television and will never get it out of our minds.

The movie was a little frantic for us but in presented like a documentary and showed us both the good and evil of that experience.  It was basically about love - although without the "F" world the dialogue would have been almost non-existent.

Boston is an astoundingly beautiful historic American city and the pride and love was shared with us over and over when we were there.  And the bombing is still very much with them, just as the Pulse nightclub shooting will forever be a part of my community.  However, as this film reminds me once again, tragedy brings out the best in most folks.

I thought it was funny when we were there that the tour guides rattled off the top celebrities from Boston like Ben Afleck, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg.  But they never mentioned Casey Afleck (who just won an Academy Award) or Donnie Wahlberg (who we love in Blue Bloods.)