Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Citation from Publishers Weekly

I just got an email from my publisher:  "It’s nice to see that they’re anticipating your new book." Here's the citation:

Extraordinary Women of Christian History: What We Can Learn from Their Struggles and Triumphs by Ruth A. Tucker (Baker, $16.99; 978-0-8010-1672-1) offers profiles on female Christian figures, making a case that Christianity is not a patriarchal religion, but one that is strongly influenced by women.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

A Proud Grandmother!


Nineteen-year-old Kayla Tucker is top dog at The Collegiate, an award-winning college newspaper---has held that position since the beginning of the fall term. She's a first-rate journalist with big dreams. Some day she'll be a household name. You heard it here first.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sporting a Brand New Ear Horn

We've come a long way, baby, when it comes to hearing devices. John balked at my getting a hearing aid, insisting that he could fashion me an ear horn for an awful lot cheaper. But I won the battle and last week we went to Sam's Club together and shelled out a small fortune for the ability to hear. The lady on the left has a lot more style than I do, but I'd have to buy a tool belt to carry that horn around when I'm biking or shoveling snow or checking out customers at the business.
Image result for old fashioned ear horns

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wheaton College Firing Fiasco

A Washington Post article in early January reported that Wheaton "had placed associate professor of political scence Larycia Hawkins on administrative leave after she [said] Muslims and Christians worship the same God. The school has now begun the process to fire her due to an 'impass'." The original story was carried on hundreds of media outlets.

Now it's being reported that Wheaton College faculty council has unanimously voted that the recommendation to have her "tenure and employment terminated" be withdrawn. It seems that the biggest issue at the moment is process---an unfair, inept and biased process.

From the beginning I was surprised by Wheaton's action against this professor, and I had the same concern about process that the council had. In another article I read on this topic, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (where I taught as a visiting professor for 17 years) wrote that he was very concerned that the Wheaton administration had not consulted experts in the field of missiology---individuals who had actually studied Islam and worked cross-culturally with Muslims.

I can't help read stories like this and think back to the Calvin Seminary fiasco a dozen years ago. My situation was very different from hers, and I was taken off tenure track and given a terminal appointment secretively.  I was told that the matter was CONFIDENTIAL and warned not to consult with my colleagues. I was accused of unspecified "ungodly conduct." When I finally had the forum two years later to demand a definition of the accusation, it turned out to be a total crock. But it was too late to benefit me. I wish there had been a "faculty council" at the seminary that could have reviewed my situation right at the beginning. There was no process at all by which I might have appealed to a council of my colleagues.

FREE craigslist

Whenever we need sand or gravel or weathered boards, rather than buying them, I check craigslist (in the free category for Grand Rapids area). So every 6 months or year, we are hauling sand or topsoil and not buying it in bags at the local box-store garden center. One day I clicked on and right at the top was free carpet. I was the first to call, and we got 2 very nice area rugs. The owner even helped load them from his garage into our van. Today I clicked on and the top item is irresistible. Too bad, we're at the business and won't be back to Comstock Park until late today. Actually, some poor dog will be the beneficiary, and the owner has no doubt already snatched it up. Here's the exact listing (minus any specific note that the dating might be July 7, 2003):

Meat (Comstock park)
Cleaning out the freezer out dated, freezer burn meat and other things free if interested otherwise it in the trash

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Old Time Religion

In the old days we had to respond to an altar call and walk down the aisle to get religion. Today it comes with a click, as I discovered while browsing this morning:

Do you want to encounter the Holy Spirit and hear God speak to you? Increase your faith, discover freedom, and draw near to God! Click Here

Saturday, January 16, 2016

More Big Bend Pics

We love this national park not only for the incredible rock formations but also for the long desert hikes that lead to hidden springs where bright green ferns abound.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Conservative Columnist, David Brooks

I've generally thought of myself as a political independent---was several years back a big supporter of John McCain, back when he was riding the "straight talk" express. But then he abandoned straight talk and I abandoned him. Our Michigan governor is a Republican and he does a lot of good things, though recently he's been in the news for his delay in getting uncontaminated drinking water to Flint. It would be easy to blame the regular folks of Flint, but the problem was created by know-it-all politicians (who knows what party they belonged to) and now Governor Snyder is trying to fix it.

This morning I read a piece, "The Brutalism of Ted Cruz," by conservative columnist David Brooks---very thought-provoking. Here are a few sentences that frame the piece, though the most shocking section is the opening which features a very specific example of brutalism:

Ted Cruz is now running strongly among evangelical voters, especially in Iowa. But in his career and public presentation Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues. . . . Traditionally, candidates who have attracted strong evangelical support have in part emphasized the need to lend a helping hand to the economically stressed and the least fortunate among us. Such candidates include George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. . . . 

In doing a little research on David Brooks I came across this column on the marriage crisis in America. Here is an interesting perspective coming from a conservative Republican:

Today marriage is in crisis. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Worse, in some circles, marriage is not even expected. Men and women shack up for a while, produce children and then float off to shack up with someone else.
Marriage is in crisis because marriage, which relies on a culture of fidelity, is now asked to survive in a culture of contingency. . . . You would think that faced with this marriage crisis, we conservatives would do everything in our power to move as many people as possible from the path of contingency to the path of fidelity. But instead, many argue that gays must be banished from matrimony because gay marriage would weaken all marriage. . . . The conservative course is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. It is to expect that they make such commitments. We shouldn't just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity. When liberals argue for gay marriage, they make it sound like a really good employee benefits plan. Or they frame it as a civil rights issue, like extending the right to vote.
Marriage is not voting. It's going to be up to conservatives to make the important, moral case for marriage, including gay marriage. Not making it means drifting further into the culture of contingency, which, when it comes to intimate and sacred relations, is an abomination.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Farwell Big Bend

Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande is one of the most popular spots at Big Bend National Park, but this year the water was high, so there was no way to take the wonderful walk along the canyon except for climbing up the high bank. Usually there are a lot of people up on the canyon walkway, but the old folks stayed away in droves this year. Neither John nor I know how to use the video feature of our camera, so this is the next best thing---capturing my graceful descent in 5 snaps!

Friday, January 01, 2016

Onward CHRISTMAS Soldiers

I've paraphrased my paraphrase of a familiar old hymn that I posted just recently:

Onward Christmas soldiers, marching as to war, 
     with the crèche and Santa bought at Walmart store. 
Trump the richest mogul leads against the foe, 
     forward into Starbucks see his bombast blow. Drum roll. . . . Chorus. TM

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Photos

Here are Kayla, Carlton and Ariel, and also Laura and Bob. We were with Sarah, John and the kids over Christmas, but no pictures.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Can we Declare 10 months of Peace?

Here's a great theme song I've paraphrased for all the Christians who are in the battle against the War on Christmas: "Onward Christmas Soldiers, Marching as to War, with the Cross and Santa going on before."

But let's just put a clamp on it for the next 10 months.
Below is a quote from Ed Simon, "When Christians Led the 'War on Christmas'"
It’s this perennially aggrieved attitude that allows a writer at to claim that the decision of a massive privately-held corporation (normally the heroes in conservative morality-plays) indicates that “Starbucks Red Cups Are Emblematic Of The Christian Culture Cleansing Of The West.”
That at this very moment ISIS is trying to actually ethnically cleanse entire regions of Christians makes the faux-outrage over a cup that happens to not have Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on it all the more obscene. That Mr. Feurstein and his supporters didn’t go a step further and claim that the Starbucks mermaid logo is actually the ancient Philistine deity Dagon is presumably a failure of creativity on their part.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

Every year we have our extended families over for a nice Christmas Eve open-house dinner. Some leave early to go to other family festivities and most everyone is gone before 10 pm---some to get early seating for the midnight service at our big church downtown, a very elegant service to be sure. This evening while everyone is still around, John plans to take the floor for a not-so-typical advent reading that I posted on my blog River-Rat Recycling. Hope they all enjoy it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

First Day of Snow

We take pride in Michigan in knowing how to drive in snow----not like those folks down south. But here was the situation today about 10 miles north of our house in Comstock Park, a fifty car pile-up. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt. Just glad we were not involved. Apparently a big semi-truck started it all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Concealed Guns at Liberty University

Why, I ask, isn't the Evangelical world (and everyone else) screaming about what Jerry Falwell, Jr. has done at Liberty University---announcing to the student body that the school will help students acquire concealed gun permits---guns to be concealed not only in classroom and administrative buildings but also in the dorms. If I were a parent, I'd get my kid out of there before the fall term ends. So, let's say the terrorist (with concealed gun) comes into a classroom shooting as he runs toward the front. Students on both sides of the aisle pull out their guns and start shooting. They get him. He's dead. But how many additional students are dead and wounded in the crossfire. Do the math. Let's say a terrorist doesn't come. Rather the guy has bought a diamond for his girl. He hears rumors. He catches them in a dark hallway. He's enraged. His hormones are off the radar. He doesn't have to wait until morning to get a permit. He doesn't have to purchase a gun. He shoots. Does he kill one or two, maybe himself as well?  Or, let's say a teacher who has failed a student is in her office. (Actually, that's not a good example.) What teacher would be dumb enough to fail a student when the the campus is loaded with concealed guns?

Friday, December 04, 2015

San Bernardino Massacre and Submission

Yes I know the title of this post sounds crazy, but it's now been two days since the terrible mass murder in San Bernardino and I've heard no one raise the issue of wifely submission in Islam (and among certain fundamentalist Christians as well, though, obviously, affirming male headship in itself has no correlation with mass murder). Maybe I'm missing something, but almost all of the talking heads that I've heard discuss the horror story have been male and no one has raised the issue of male headship in Islam. Instead they talk about a "Bonnie and Clyde" team killing more than a dozen people. Perhaps these questions have all been raised by the media and I've just missed them. But if I were an investigative reporter I would be asking: Was she conversant  in English? Was she up on the news? Watching TV or online? Might her husband have filled her with fears, convincing her the government was out to kill them? Was she part of the planning? Did she know about all the weapons that had been amassed? Had she learned how to use firearms only for self protection? Did she know where they were going on the morning of the killings? These questions and dozens more should be asked by law enforcement and those in the media. One of the reasons I raise such issues is because I'm a mother. I've nursed and cuddled an infant. I know the power of maternal love. And even a gift registry? I can comprehend a Muslim man---even a father---who specifies he wants a mail-order submissive wife (who wears a hijab) being radicalized and killing people at his (not his wife's) workplace. I cannot comprehend a Muslim stay-at-home mother of a new-born baby planning and carrying out such an act of terror and carnage with full knowledge of what she is doing. Did she fully know what was going on? Did her husband beat her or threaten her into submission? It's been done before.

Now an hour after posting the above, I've read this online (though her husband could have made a Facebook page and identity for her).

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — The woman who helped her husband kill 14 people at a holiday banquet for his county co-workers pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and its leader on Facebook using an alias, then deleted the messages before the attack, a U.S. law enforcement official said Friday, providing the strongest evidence to date that the rampage may have been a terrorist attack.
The remarkable disclosure about the online activities of Tashfeen Malik provided the first significant details suggesting a motive for her participation with her husband, Syed Farook, in the shooting. . . . 
At the same time, law enforcement officials from local police to Attorney General Loretta Lynch cautioned it could have been work-related rage. Or a twisted hybrid of religion and personal vendetta.

Granddaughter Kayla Responds

Right. But, as I've heard on NPR, these two expressed radical beliefs (in Jihad, etc.) long before they even started dating. So it sounds like they came together with the same ideas. But I see where you're coming from based on the culture.
I Respond to her:  
You're right; that news came out a day or 2 ago. Still, questions on gender are critical in any husband/ wife crime, especially if the wife is supposed to submit to her domineering husband.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Gatlinburg, Great Smokies, Greensboro, G.R.

We had a wonderful little get-away earlier this month for our annual trip south to the Great Smokies Gift Show, though we were disappointed with the offerings this year and made only one order for the Gardens. Actually we didn't spend as much time at the 2 locations for the show because we had car trouble; the starter on our Element went out. It might have been a huge ordeal if it had gone bad on our previous stop at a waterfall on a 2-track road 8 miles out of Gatlinburg. But fortunately it stopped dead in front of our motel on the main street. We learned that for us there was no better place to break down---a very prompt and reasonably priced tow-truck driver and ditto on the mechanic. That combined with the kindness of a local police captain, the next day we were on our way to Greensboro to see Laura and Bob only 3 hours late. Before the breakdown we enjoyed some wonderful weather for hiking. It was rainy in Greensboro, but that didn't dampen our time with the kids. Now back in Grand Rapids, we're enjoying our first snow at the Gardens. I couldn't resist snapping the palm tree.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sunny Sunday

Old factory in Belding
On Sunday we headed out for a fall color tour mixing work and pleasure, snapping pics after we got home from church and along the way. On our way up north to pick up metal art for the Gardens, we stopped to hike and revisit some of our favorite spots.
Ruth Tucker

Decorated for Halloween, Belding

19th cent silk workers' residence

Metal art purchased for Gardens

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Our Kids in Greensboro

Bob and Laura, here on a weekend trip celebrating Laura's birthday. They have hectic schedules but appear to be chilling out in this snap. We're looking forward to our annual autumn trip to spend a couple of days with them, and then it will be their turn to come this way for Christmas.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

All the Women at Calvin Seminary

Here's an interesting article that was featured tonight on NBC Nightly News:

Elle's #MoreWomen Video Shows Just How Few Women Are At The Top

It pictures people in high political office, corporate industry and the media, and then in another identical picture photoshops the men out, leaving only a very few women remaining. A provocative piece. I'm reminded of Calvin Theological Seminary on the day before I arrived. If a picture had been taken and all the men had been photo shopped out, it would have looked like this:

Two years after this picture of the faculty and administration was taken I was, without warning, given a terminal appointment. The rest is history.

Friday, October 09, 2015

From the UP and N. Wisconsin to Starved Rock S.P.

We left Alex to man the Gardens on Saturday and drove north through the Upper Peninsula to Iron Mountain where we stayed the night, then on to the farm in the morning, checking our all our old haunts and spending the night at the Best Western on the Yellow River in Spooner. On Monday we headed south through Wisconsin, snapping pictures along the way and spending the night with Kathy on her little farm near Evansville. Then on to Starved Rock where we hiked and spent our last night at the wonderful lodge there. After more hiking we arrived back home late Wednesday afternoon.
Black River Falls, WI

Route 33, south of Black River Falls

Amish farmer, Route 33

Nun in full habit riding lawn mower

Posing for camera, Starved Rock
John at Starved Rock

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Kim Davis, Self-promotion, Religious Freedom and the Pope

I’m sick of this story---bored to tears. So I’ll stick my two cents worth in the mix and offer my own assessment.

That Kim Davis does not personally endorse the marriage of certain individuals who come to the County Clerk’s office for marriage licenses has nothing to do with her signature on that license. The issuing of a license relates solely to legality. Allowing her to deny a license on the basis of her personal religion brings a religious test into the legal system. Davis is promoting herself as though she is a religious officiant. She is not.

I know of preachers who will not officiate the marriage of two people who do not profess to be Christians or two people, one professing the other not. These preachers enjoy religious freedom and the perfect right to deny their services. Catholic priests will not marry a couple if one has been divorced and there has been no annulment. Indeed, no devout Catholic county clerk could have issued Kim’s marriage license (on the basis of her religious freedom claim) since she was married and divorced three times with no annulments prior to her current marriage. She claims Pope Francis endorsed her, but did he know who she was and that (according to Catholic doctrine) she is still married to her first husband, thus a serial adulterer?

While claiming she is being denied religious freedom, Kim Davis is actually demanding special religious privilege. Imagine living in a country—or county in Kentucky—where people would have to check out the religious beliefs of a clerk before applying for a marriage license. What’s next, a sportsman seeking a hunting license—denied because the clerk is a Hindu whose religion does not allow the killing of animals? Or a restaurateur applying for a liquor license or zoning for a coffee shop and the clerk’s Mormon religion does not permit alcohol or coffee consumption? 

My advice to Kim: Get over yourself.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Was She Fired or Did She Quit?

There have been a number of news stories this past year about people being fired from their employment positions. In several instances, these individuals insisted that they were not fired, that they resigned. There is shame in being fired, and in most cases the individual is allowed to resign, as though it is a final act of kindness. My situation at Calvin Seminary was the opposite. When I went public with My Calvin Seminary Story nine years ago about my being fired, the Seminary might have responded that I deserved what I got (as they had been saying privately all along in regard to the first terminal appointment I had been given and the second as well). Instead, they stated publicly that I'd quit. True I did not apply for the position from which I had been terminated. Anyone could apply for it. I could apply for it today if I wanted to; no one could stop me. The fact is I was terminated from my teaching position at Calvin Seminary, though fired is the term I prefer. It expresses the force and meanness that I felt then and feel now. The massive cover-up of this ordeal went under the claim of confidentiality.

The other night I dreamed that I had encountered the VP of Academic Affairs and I challenged him about why he fired me. The day before I had quoted to John some of Edgar Allen Poe's poetry. With the alignment of those two phenomena I decided to write a poem. So here's a nod to Poe and to the Seminary:

Once upon a midnight tired
as I pondered being fired
after six years lately hired
as a seminary prof.

Nodding napping in my prison
suddenly there came a vision
quoth the raven with decision
to go public with a blog.

“Calvin Seminary Story”
named by raven black and hoary
said I surely wouldn’t be sorry
for exposure of this sin.

So I set about to tell all
what they charged was confidential
proved with documents official
claims deceitful and unjust.

Now immune from seminary
no more hounded weak and weary
no more midnights dark and dreary
thanks to raven evermore.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Quick Trip to the Island

This is our second year to catch 2 perfect days on Mackinac Island, Sunday/Monday after Labor Day when lodging rates are down as are the crowds. Again, we took only backpacks and bikes and got our same second-floor hotel room with a window facing the street where the horse-wagons clomp by--motorized vehicles not allowed on the Island during tourist season. We drove to Mackinaw City after we closed the Gardens on Saturday and stayed the night there before taking the earliest ferry in the morning. Here is a back-drop pic of the river the evening before we left. Also a pic of John looking out at the Mackinac Bridge on our way to the Island. We enjoy looking at the wonderful Victorian homes, and I managed to snap just as the horses and carriage were driving by.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Eleventh Anniversary and More

In some ways we mark our lives by a series of picnics. Here, John in his best pink work shirt, is dining alone to celebrate our August 28th eleventh anniversary, though I was quick to join him. We go to the best deli in town to purchase our favorite delicacies and have enough leftovers for the next day. Last weekend we made a summer pilgrimage to the Petoskey area and stayed at our favorite spot in Bayview, the Terrace Inn, est. 1911. While there we went along the bay up to Harbor Springs and enjoyed another picnic. Below is a house I spotted while biking north to Alanson--a beautiful little stone structure that has seen better days. Yesterday, fearing the heat of today, we took our Labor Day bike trip to Johnson Park, a 35-mile round-trip ride going through several large parks along the way--left the camera home.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Memorable Sunday without a Camera

Yesterday we biked some 30 miles, from 8 am to 11:15 on the Musketawa Trail from the Fruit Ridge parking lot through the little town of Conklin and on to Ravenna and back. What a beautiful trail that curved up and down hill through cornfields and tunnels of trees, an altogether lovely morning, and we got back before the rain. I commented to John at one point about how incredibly fortunate we are to be in such good health and enjoying exercise so much. That led to a biking discussion of the word fortune and fortunate and John's discourse on Carl Orff's musical composition Carmina Burana, the opening and closing movement of which is "O Fortuna." So when we returned home, I looked up the goddess Fortuna and learned among other things that she was seriously dissed by both St. Augustine and John Calvin. Sunday evening we drove out to Roselle Park in Ada and biked for most of an hour, stopping only to observe a bald eagle and a brilliant sunset against waves of goldenrod and a dark eastern sky. How I wished I had brought the camera along for both excursions. During the rainy afternoon, I made the final corrections on my next book, due to come out in February (Baker Book House).

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Typical Summer Day

We usually arrive at the business before 9 am, and Carlton often stops by with Tank, his newly acquired dog who loves to race around on our pathways. John's been doing a lot of painting this summer, as is evident in Kayla's playhouse and  Breton Cottage, now my art studio, where I encourage parents and grandparents to do simple folk art with their kids. When we leave in the afternoon at 4:30 we often drive to a county park with a picnic supper and hike or stop at our favorite pocket park on the way home, John at the table with the waterfall in view.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lazy Blogger

It's been a busy summer here at the Gardens and working with two publishers, though it's not an excuse for being a delinquent blogger. John writes in his journal every day, but this is the only picture journal we keep. Three weeks ago we were away for a Sunday/Monday trip, staying in Rodgers City, Michigan. The trip was somewhat spoiled by a bad fall I took while checking out upstairs lodging for the night. It was an old lodge and the hall was narrow and dark, with no marking for a sudden step up. I took a few layers of skin off my arm, and it's now mostly healed. Needless to say, we didn't stay the night, though the manager patched me up and gave us free dinners in the dining hall.  Not a good trade-off, but I suppose better than nothing. Here is John at Ocqueoc Falls, a much more pleasant aspect of that mini vacation.
Not much in the news these days about Confederate flags, and we assumed the issue related mainly to the SC state capitol. Here is what we saw ahead of us a few weeks ago driving through Muskegon. Below is John doing some coat-hanger repair on our Element with 270K miles, also snaps of both of us last Sunday at Ludington State Park where we hiked and biked on an absolutely perfect summer day.