Remembering Granddaddy

This is a few months late, but after Thanksgiving and heading into the Holidays, it is as good a time as any. Coincidentally, he died on the previous Friday the 13th. My Granddaddy, James George Turner, died three months ago today, and it is hard to express the impact he had on my life. As I mentioned when writing about my Grandmother, I lived next to my grandparents from about eight years old until I left for college, and when school was out of the summer, my brother and I spent our days with them. They lived on a little more than 30 acres and Mrs. MMT actually lived with them for a few months before we was married (she has a unique name and with his accent, he never quite pronounced her name correctly). He had a huge vegetable garden in which he grew corn, butter beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, peppers, okra, etc. Actually, the last day I saw him, on Labor Day, he was telling me about the first time he grew watermelons. He didn’t expect them to grow so easily and he had a truck full, so many he couldn’t even give them away.

He was born on land that would become the airport (there is actually a grave site surrounded by the runways, where his [maybe great] granddad is buried). He served in the Navy during WW2 in the South Pacific. When he returned, he married my Grandmother, to whom he was married almost 73 years before she died. He got a job as a firefighter and eventually worked his way up to Deputy Chief, before retiring in the early 70’s. He also helped build and then manage an apartment building, and in his other spare time worked as a contractor and painted grocery stores; going as far away as ‘May-retta’ (this is only a 30 minute drive now, with interstates). With the sale of the apartments and his pension, he was able to retire around the age of 50. He was actually the oldest living pensioner at the time he died (he drew his pension for 45 years).

When he moved ‘out’ to their house, it was on a dirt road with a little Baptist church down the street that had just hired a new young pastor. They became friends and my granddad devoted most of the rest of his life to this church (then one in which I would eventually be baptized). The pastor is still alive and was able to do the funeral, which was the best one I’ve ever attended. Not only he spoke, but so did the pastor who replaced him. They could not say enough. He had chaired four building committees (to the older pastor, this was the biggest accomplishment), he taught Sunday School for 40 something years, and served one and off as a deacon. Apparently, people used to drive out to Granddaddy’s house just to talk with him and gain insight and wisdom. I was surprised as the pastor spoke, saying that my granddad had impacted 10’s of thousands and 100’s of thousands. My first thought was, well, that is probably a bit exaggerated, but he continued and said it could have even been millions. It was wild to find out that he was an even greater man than I already thought.

He either had a 9th or 10th grade education, I don’t remember which, but that was all there was then, and he self described as a ‘C’ student who bared finished. Despite that, he loved to read, and bought multiple commentaries on various books of the Bible (some of which were the same that I would buy 40-50 years later, we also had some of the same devotionals) and many well worn study Bibles. He took studying the Word seriously, and in one of the commentaries, I found a correspondence course he was taking on the Old Testament.

He loved to read, and along with his study, he read all the John Grisham books he could. I also remember staying with them over the summers and watching Matlock together. He wold often encourage me to go to school to be a lawyer (which was my plan, until it wasn’t). He also loved to fish, something else he and I had in common and a few years ago, when he realized he wouldn’t fish again, he game me some of his on stuff, including an original (1947) Mitchell 300 (the first ever open face spin-reel).

This is a story I only heard about recently, but he was so intent on leading his family and my Grandmother as a man of God, that back in the 70’s, I guess when they used to take more family vacations with my dad and sister, he bought a percolator that could be plugged into a cigarette lighter. In the mornings, he and my Grandmother would go out to the car, have some coffee and he would lead her in a devotional. I own this percolator now and was showing my men’s group this Sunday, as a challenge to them (and me) on how we should be leading out families/wives.

The stories I could write are innumerable, but I suppose I’ll wrap up here. Almost everything I learned about being a man (especially a Christian man), I learned form him. I was also named after him (though I go by another name), which seems to have given me at least some other level of connect (I also named one of my sons after him, with whom he is playing in the last photo we have of Granddaddy alive).

There is something so comforting having no doubt where he is, and knowing that he is with my Grandmother again. It is also challenging, as his example is something I aspire to (I have one building under my belt). Both he and her’s impact on their church is something we hope we will be known/remembered for many years down the road. As I wrote above, he impact on my life can’t be measured, not the impact on my kids, as I will always remember him as an example of how to act in life, as a man, as a father and husband, and as follower of Christ. I think he was aware of his role as the patriarch of the family and wanted to instill that sense of hard work and devotion on us. It is hard to be too sad when someone leads as long (he was 94) and active and fulfilling life as he did, but he will be missed.

James Turner
May 11, 1925 – September 13, 2019

Remembering Papaw

This is a few months late, but after Thanksgiving and heading into the Holidays, it is as good a time as any. For those outside the South (or Appalachian Mid-West apparently), Papaw (or some variant) is a name for a granddad. My Papaw was Jeffie Cleveland (J.C.) Hunt, Jr. He died back in July, a few months after turning 94.

My last memory of him comes from the Saturday before he died. I loaded up my month old twin boys, one of which has the initials J.C., after him, and Sprout to head down to my parents for everyone to meet them (and give Mrs. MMT some rest). Papaw was mostly in a wheelchair at this point, and with them being so small and he being old, he was scared to hold them. He had thick white hair (my mom tells me it all turned white in his 40’s, a trait I fear I may have inherited) and these intensely bright blue eyes; it sets up quite a contrast. I bring the boys over so he can seem them closely, he reaches up and grabs their feet with a smile and a little bit of a tear in those bright eyes. He died less than a week later.

Born in rural south Alabama, he was number seven of 13 children. His dad, J.C., Sr., was a Church of Christ pastor and a farmer. I inherited dozens of his books, some more than 100 years old, including a Bible he bought in 1920 for $20, which according to the US Inflation Calculator is $257.35 in 2019 dollars. Papaw joined the Navy when he was 17 and left of the Pacific Theater of WW2, where he learned to be a machinist. When he cam back, a family friend and lawyer thought that he’d be a good lawyer and was able to get him into Auburn, but formal school was not for him and shortly after someone offered him a job at a machine shop and he took it so that he could get married.

He was a quite man with a uniquely bright mind, he liked working with his hands. He completely built an entire house, the one in which my mom grew up, in the 50’s, and then built the cabin to which they retired in the 80’s. He turn an old VW into a dunbuggy when my mom was in high school. When the moved from the rural cabin to be closer to my mom in the 90’s, he turned the garage of that house in to a beauty shop (my memaw cut hair) then built a new garage (with a ramp to help the cats get over the fence), then built a workshop/barn out back where he experimented with different varietals of peas and beans (a decent one I remember was a black-eyed pea crossed with a lima bean). He had an interest in learning/keeping his mind going and taught himself guitar/dulcimer, attempted to teach himself Spanish (despite never having Mexican food until he was in his 80’s a referring to tortilla chips as Mexican Crackers), and he was my only grandparent who learned how to use a computer, internet, and even Facebook.

Another thing I’ll also remember about him was how much he liked ice cream. I can easily picture him younger, from the days we’d spend over there, wearing coveralls with no shoes hold that big tub of Neapolitan ice cream. I don’t think he ever had any until joining the Navy, and he told me while others spent their money on booze and women, he spent what he had on ice cream. When he was 85 he had a heart attach and had to be lifeflighted (the first/last time he ever flew) to a hospital in Atlanta. When I went to visit him he was eating ice cream. He told me it took him 85 years to go through the first heart, so he didn’t have to worry about wearing this one out (he didn’t have a transplant, just a quadruple bye-pass, but he liked to say he had a new heart, eyes (cataract surgery), and knees (reconstruction).

There are other stories, and we shared those with each other at the funeral, especially the wild stories about growing up in the South in the 20′ and 30’s, but this is already longer than he’d ever want written about him. He loved his ever-growing family (my boys make 18-20 great grandchildren, depending on how you count some) and especially liked Sprout (whom he said was a spitfire and a pistol) and some of the toddlers because they were so loud. He was near deaf for probably the last five years, but he could hear those screaming/giggling little girls. At holidays and lunches, he’d just sit and watch them run around, with a little tear in those bright blue eyes.

Edit: One more story, when he knew I was bringing the boys down, he had my mom get two 50 dollar bills, couldn’t be a single $100 to split, one for each of them for their college fund.

J.C. Hunt, Jr.
May 18, 1925 – July 12, 2019

It is Well – Follow-up

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post (It is Well) about our recent miscarriage. I have a quick note at the top about how I didn’t like any of the songs I found on YouTube.  This lead to a discussion with Mrs. MMT about lack of song option. As some of you may know, Mrs. MMT writes songs (she has released two albums, and won a few awards), and she decided to record her own version of the song, with an additional, original verse.

You can go on over to her site if you want to listen to the song. The post also has a great write-up about where we’ve been and what has been happening since my original post. I’d really encourage everyone to go read it. I had plans to write a much longer version, but have only started a few different parts and could never fully bring myself to finish it. Hopefully, I’ll have some for y’all in the new year.

Coincidentally, today is the 146 anniversary of the Vill du Havre sinking, causing the loss of Spafford’s daughters, which lead him to write the song. This was not intentionally and we actually just noticed the date right now as I was finalizing this post.

Hope you enjoy.

I’m still here

The last time I posed on this site was back on Good Friday, which was actually a pre-made post, so not sure that even counts. I’ve taken an official hiatus for quite some time, for a number of reasons. One has to do with the pointlessness of this blog, and my struggles as to whether I want to keep trying to have content. It cost money to run this site, not much, but I often wonder if it is worth it. In pure numbers, it probably has been, as the number of free books I’ve received, taken at full price, is more than the costs of hosting. However, either the novelty has worn off or the quality of what is offered has declined/I’ve become more discerning.

That said, my book reviews are by far and away my most popular posts (with the exception of the times I’ve hosted the Biblical Studies Carnival). I would like to posts more original content. I’ve dabbled in politics (my least popular), some counseling thoughts (as I enrolled and subsequently dropped out of a master’s program through Westminster), and some Bible Study/Theological writings.

It is the later category that I would like to have more of, but is also the most time intensive. My life has become a little busier recently, with my new(ish) job and  a greater involvement with my church. This summer has been pretty booked, I witnessed the birth of my two sons, and recently have gone through the loss of both my granddads.

Anyway, all that to say, I should have a book review post up next Monday, with two others in the hopper. I’ll also have a few more thoughts on commentaries and Study Bibles, as well as some notes on Mark. Finally, I will likely, though it has been difficult, have some thoughts/stories regarding my sons and granddads.

I was unexpectedly encouraged the other day as I hit and then went over the 100 follower mark, though how few I actually have that still actively follow is unknown. So, I will attempt to keep going for at least another year. Thanks for playing along.

2019 Reading Challenge

As I recently posted, I beat my goal for 2018 in terms of number, but didn’t really read all the books I wanted to read. So much so, that I am going to straight up cute and past a good bit from last year’s goal. Once again this year, I plan to lower the number of books I plan to read, this is partly so I can make sure I get to the books I really want, and because some are fairly long, but also, and I may post about this a bit later, but I plan to interact more with each book. With that taken into account, my goal this year is 20 books this year.

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I currently have 14 of them on the mantel in my living room to remind me to focus on actually getting these books done. You can check out my Goodreads 2019 Challenge page if you like list form, it actually shows 16, because I added three commentaries, but I may not read word for word, two of them, and am only counting one towards the challenge. After these 14, I have three other books (stretch goals I guess) that I’d like to get to, time permitting and somewhat depending on what review books seem incredibly interesting and what the library has available that I have requested, more on those below. The books are as follows:

Non-fictionGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, at 822 pages, this is the second biggest book on my list for this year and one of my top five life goal, big book, non-fiction books to pick up. As Sprout just turned four, I’ve added Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less

Biography/autobiographyA Full Life: Reflections at Ninety was on my list the last two years, but I didn’t make it to it, so I’ll stick it back on this list.

Fiction – After reading The Fall of Hyperion and Endymion (Hyperion), the sequels to one of my favorite books from 2017, Hyperion, I plan to end the series this year with the final book in the Cantos, The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion) At 864 pages, Anna Karenina, will be my biggest book this year and the third longest single volume fiction book I’ve ever read. Rounding out the fiction section will be a collection of stories from one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, Just After Sunset: Stories.

Christian-y type books – Only four books are planned in this category this year, though this categories tends to be the largest due to ARC books and loans from friends. Knowing God is a classic at this point, but I haven’t yet read it.

Commentaries, Theology, and Language – Because two 800 page books won’t take me long enough, I’m also picking up two more 600+ page books. First, I want to get back into finishing Bavnick so I have Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, on the list with the ridiculous hope that I will actually make it to the even longer (912 pages) Volume Four. Second, my church is a doing a 40+ week study on Mark, so I’ve picked up The Gospel of Mark (The New International Greek Testament Commentary, and will likely skim the Tyndale and Bible Speaks today commentaries as well, but I don’t think I will count them towards the challenge.

Finally, for something different in this new category I just made up, I’m attempting to gain an understanding of Biblical Greek. For that I’ve chosen Greek for the Rest of Us: Using Greek Tools Without Mastering Biblical Languages.

None of the books in this category will be read all at once, but studied or read-through, throughout the year. I’ll use the commentary as we move through the sermons and go in and out of Reformed Dogmatics, probably after each major subject. I’m not entirely sure yet how to study the Greek, but likely either a few days a week for the year, or every day for a few weeks/months. Maybe there will be some guidance in the book itself.

Devotional – I’ve typically read a whole year devotional, such as My Utmost for His Highest (my review), but this year I’m going back to the whole Bible with the M’Cheyne reading plan, which I’ve written about before. The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It  looks like another great and challenging book from Peter Enns. Both Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Resources for Changing Lives and Speaking Truth In Love are pretty well known in Christian Counseling circles, so I’d like to check them off the list.

Stretch Goals – So, I have 14 books on the list, which leaves six others unplanned. These will most likely come from review request, a book someone lends me, or if one of the books on my long library list becomes available. However, if that doesn’t come through, and I finish the previous 13, I have a few other plans. One is to read another book on church history. I’m torn on what I’ve heard is the best in Christian history – Church History in Plain Language or I may start another 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power Vol. 1: The Age of the Early Church Fathers (Grace Publications), which is the first in a four volume series (I’d love to hear from anyone who has read either or has a suggestion as to which would be better).

I’ve also had Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy on my list from 2017 and 2018, but also didn’t get to it. This book and the history one are obviously somewhat long, and can be dense, so another book I think I want to get to is The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, which is a book I bought for Mrs. MMT a few years ago on the advice of MxPx front man Mike Herrera. Finally, as a pair, I was given a book that reviews a Christmas Carol from a Christian perspective, and as that is one of my favorite all time stories, I’ll read the story then the review together and then respond to both.

That’s it. Hopefully I’ll tighten down and actually get to the ones I wanted this year. Feel free to share goals or insights on any of the books in the comments.

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2018 Reading Challenge Review

I met my goal of 30 books this year. Actually, I surpassed it with 37 (that is 11,167 pages according to Goodreads, if you like that kind of thing). That being said, reading over what I wrote I wanted to read, I feel like I’ve failed. I had 13 book specifically listed, but only read six of them. I guess I’ll try to carry on those attempts next year. You can see my Goodreads 2018 Challenge page here, if you want them in list form.

I said I was going to do less review books in 2018, but instead ended up doing 16, 13 of which were Baker, one was Crossway, and there were two new publishers I that had never sent me books before. That is probably the main reason I didn’t get to the actual books I wanted. It is interesting to ‘challenge’ yourself, when really it was supposed to be a list of books I wanted to read. Instead, it turned into a goal of reading X number of books. Also, I enjoy getting free books, but the more I requested, the less I enjoyed. I’ll have my 2019 Challenge up in a bit, but this year I want to focus on specific books, and will likely due far fewer review books, especially from Baker.

My longest book, and an unexpected addition was The Stand. I added it because of the PBS Great American Novel contest. I also started taking Sprout the library every other Saturday, so I grabbed a few random books that I didn’t have on my shelf, all of which were non-fiction. I only read a few other novels and was short on fiction this year. I read three devotionals, where were all decent, but I really didn’t read any theologically intense books, something I plan to change in 2019. I also had a few commentaries on the list, which is something I’m unsure should count towards the challenge.

Overall, the 2018 Challenge was a mixed-bag, I met my goal as far as numbers go, but didn’t really hit all the books I wanted. Oh well, as always, I’ll try to do better next time.

Top Posts of 2018

The end of the year is always a good time to look back over the past 365 calendar days of your life in general, but is even better for a lowly blogger, because it gives you fairly quick and easy post. So, with that, my top most read posts in 2018:

  1. Book Review: Sapiens
  2. Biblical Studies Carnival 150
  3. Book Review: The Imperfect Disciple
  4. Book Review: Disciplines of a Godly Man
  5. Book Review: We’re Pregnant
  6. Book Review: Believe Me
  7. Book Review: Practicing the King’s Economy
  8. Book Review: Darkness is My Only Companion
  9. Book Review: Spiritual Disciplines for a Godly Life
  10. Book Review: Four Views on Hell

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see Sapiens once again leading the pack (despite being published over two years ago), as it is led last year and is my all time viewed post since I discovered that WordPress gives me stats. As I’ve said since then, I’ll write a follow up soon.

My second and final Biblical Studies Carnival was the only non book review post in the top 10 (one of only three in my top 25, my post on Trump and the Supreme Court was 17th this year, and the picture from my 10th Anniversary was 21st).

Only four of the book review posts were actually written this year – We’re Pregnant, Believe Me, Practicing the King’s Economy, and Darkness is my Only Companion – inexplicably all coming in a row. So, that’s half of my top read being actually written in the year, I have no idea if that is common or not, but it sounds about right.

The next five most popular actually written this year included the above two non book review posts and three book reviews – Fall of Hyperion, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, and On Pills and Needles.

By all reasonable logic, if I want this blog to grow (which I do), I should do more book reviews, however, as I’ll discuss in a few weeks with my reading goals, I will have less book review coming this year and plan to write on a few more random topics. One of my writings on Thessalonians came in at 34, while my Money in Marriage ranked 37. I’ll have more on this in a later post, but I plan to do more writing and less reading in 2019.

So, that is it for 2018. I appreciate everyone who has read or commented on my posts. Thanks for playing along, I’ll try to do better next year.

 

Excruses 9/21/2018

A few thoughts from this article about the Pledge of Allegiance:
Manual of Patriotism sounds like something from the propaganda arm of the bad guys in a dystopian novel.
The guy who pushed for the pledge, Francis Bellamy, was a socialist and Baptist minister; something you probably wouldn’t hear of much today. Also, with the NFL starting we are back to talk about kneeling during the Anthem and disrespecting the flag, it’s good to remember that if you weren’t doing the Bellamy Salute, you were also disrespecting the flag. In case you are curious, here is that salute:

Also your reminder that ‘under God’ was not added until 1954.
Of course the Pledge was challenged at some point –

In 1926 the American Civil Liberties Union aided a case in Denver of a Jehovite child who was suspended from school for refusing to salute the flag on the grounds that doing so would be “idol worship.”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor reiterated that “under God” was not a religious claim, just ceremonial deism.

Just ceremonial, we even acknowledge that it is pointless (that quote broke a little funny and I can’t fix it, obviously O’Connor was speaking much later about the 1926 case). I do find it an interesting question, should we as Christians pledge our allegiance to an inanimate object, and one that is entirely unrelated to Christ?  I’ve written about flags before, will probably have to again, but you can check it out if you want to know more.

It is always interesting to see articles like these. I read a good bit about personal finance and even subscribe to a few Financial Independence podcast, but I don’t really see it catching on or becoming mainstream.

But then there are articles like this. Sure, debt for a phone, everyone will be retire soon.

Why not go into debt for a phone, especially when half the calls will be spam by next year anyway?

Back to money, before I wrap up, why are people like this even married? The Biblical concept of marriage is that you become one flesh, things are now ours, not mine. If I didn’t have this view, I just don’t think I’d get married. How do you justify keeping property and retirement in separate accounts but say you want to live your life together?

I think I’m going to do a whole post about this next week, but a survey recently showed that religious Trump voters tend to be moderate compared to the hard rightness of non-religious Trump voters. Among the findings, religious tend to be more accepting of all religious and racial minorities, support more immigration and trade, and see ‘whiteness’ as less important. At least for the first and last ones, I hope that is because we see each other and ourselves as made in God’s image and belonging to Christ. More on that later.

As a city planner, this is something I’ve been aware of for some time – the problem with roundabouts is you. There is some interesting history there as to why some people might be scared, but I think it has more to do with fear of change. I remember when the first one was built in the city in which I work, about 10 years ago, we were told people would die and their blood was on our hands. Of course, accidents went down and average traffic speeds increased.

 

 

Excurses

Articles
Koinonia was the winning word in the spelling bee.

Trump as George Costanza.

Trevin Wax on Fahrenheit 451’s recent screen adaptation. I think the book is one of the more frightening and accurate of the mid century dystopian future novels, check out my review for more.

Speaking of dystopian. Here’s another another article about the misuse of additional verses. Also, if you are just interested in hearing more of the depressing, shameful, and embarrassing situation, check out this short article from the AP. These actions are far worse, but previously in the week, Sessions used Romans 13 to tell people to submit to the authorities. This is fine, he is correct, this is the meaning of this verse, but where was this verse under the last President?

Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

Books
Relatedly, I finally received a review copy of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, which you can pre-order now and will be available next Thursday. I hope to have my review up the day before.

I’m about 600 pages into The Stand, and the first 250ish are all about the disease spreading, all during June. Well, it is June right now, and the past week or so, almost everyone in my office has been sick, all with similar symptoms and honestly it started to freak me out a little.

Podcast
Whitehorse Inn discusses Christianity in North and South Korea.

It may sound strange to recommend listening to a podcast where someone is being given a tour, but I enjoyed it. If you like bourbon/whiskey or visiting distilleries/breweries, you will too. Also, if anyone from Wild Turkey happens to be reading, I am open to sponsorship’s (I know how much brands like to be involved with religion and politics, especially with from a site with seven readers).