Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Christianity is based on historical facts Part III Comparisons


Why it matters whether Jesus actually lived and died.
I spent some time discussing with another person whether it was necessary to believe in Jesus in order to be saved, to gain eternal life.  In the New Testament this is clear.  In a previous blog we mentioned the Apostle Peter who on the day of Pentecost declared, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” Acts 2:38. On another occasion Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
These statements and others in the New Testament show that unless a person receives Christ as savior, calls on Jesus to be his or her savior, there is no salvation, no payment for sin and no new birth.  This sounds extremely harsh to people today.  We are “tolerant.”  We don’t like religious bigots or exclusivists, those who believe that their religion alone offers salvation.
The problem with our view is that we use our own reason or emotion to decide what is true.  We don’t like the truth and so we argue against it.  These days a person who says that their savior is the only savior is not viewed as misguided or mistaken, but rather as morally evil.  “How dare you say you alone have salvation!”
However, what we feel is not necessarily a criterion of what is true.  In court it is not enough to say, “I feel strongly that Jerod is innocent.”  The court needs proof to decide whether Jerod is guilty or innocent.
The Gospels are meant to give us historical records of what Jesus did and said.  We are meant to believe because belief is reasonable.  Belief is not “believing what you know ain’t so,” but putting your trust in the one true Savior, Jesus.
There are a lot of attempts to soften this teaching.  Some have looked for “redemptive analogies,” for instance, Don Richardson’s books, Peace Child and Eternity in their hearts.  While there are some things in other religions which may help us to explain the Gospel to others in other cultures, those stories or analogies do not save us.  Only Jesus’ death saves us.
One example of a “redemptive analogy” is the story of Princess Kaguya.  This is a story from Japanese folklore.  In the story a poor woodcutter finds a beautiful baby inside a lotus flower.  The woodcutter and his wife have been childless. So, this child is a gift from heaven.  The little girl grows incredibly fast, faster than a normal child, and her intelligence keeps pace with her unbelievable physical growth.  She becomes a beauty.  The emperor hears of her beauty and wishes to marry her.  The girl’s father, the woodcutter, is tempted by the riches the emperor offers and the position of importance he would have as the emperor’s father-in-law.
However, the girl, Kaguya, has already fallen in love with a boy from the village.  Her father, though, will hear none of this and sends Kaguya to the emperor.  In her despair Kaguya calls out to Lord Amida, a Buddha. Amida (the Japanese name for Amitabha, a Mahayana Buddha or boddhisatva) comes for her with his heavenly orchestra, choir and attendants, and takes her away to the Land of Forgetfulness.  Kaguya’s father calls out as she is leaving and begs her to return. He is sorry and he will not force her to marry the emperor, but it is too late.  She has called out to Lord Amida and he has come for her.
Some have seen a redemptive analogy for the Gospel in this story.  If one calls out to Lord Amida, he will come and take you to “heaven.” One should call out ten times or more (thousands of times a day) to be saved, not once, but Kaguya was a supernatural being and pious and in great need.  So, some say, “See! Calling out to Amida saves, just as calling on Jesus saves.”
There is a similarity: you must call out to the Savior to be saved.  There is no need to do anything: penance, good works whatever.
However, there is one really stark incongruity: there is no evidence that Lord Amida ever existed.  Pure Land Buddhism is the result of the teaching of two Buddhist monks: Honen and Shinran. There is no historical evidence for their beliefs or teachings.  Win Corduan in his book, Neighboring Faiths, says,

The Christian gospel addresses different issues than the Buddhist dharma does. Instead of karma and reincarnation, it speaks of sin and redemption; instead of various Buddhist deities, it focuses on a personal God who has revealed himself in history. This difference is not easy to communicate. However, the Christian message also provides a level of assurance for both this life and eternity, and Buddhism cannot provide such confidence. The focus shifts from denying the meaning of life to finding meaning in a life with Jesus Christ.

Let me mention a few examples of this contrast. Jodo Shinshu, the Japanese school of Pure Land, seems to have a doctrine of grace. Amida Buddha grants entry into the western paradise to anyone seeking refuge in him. But note how this differs from the Christian understanding of God's grace. First of all, although legends have accrued in regard to Amitabha’s previous incarnations, the fact remains that he is not a historical person in any meaningful sense of the term. Thus this promise of salvation is based on nothing more than empty speculation. Monks such as Honen and Shinran believe this teaching, but it has no basis in any data that can be investigated. In contrast, the Christian gospel is based on the historical person of Christ. His death on the cross assured our eternal life because he provided proof of it with his physical resurrection from the dead.

Win Corduan, Neighboring Faith 2nd ed, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013, 413 [PAG highlights]
 Corduan is clear, “[Amida] is not a historical person in any meaningful sense of the term.”  The Apostles, the Gospel writers, on the other hand, made very clear that Jesus was a historical person.  It matters that he lived, died and rose again.  His physical presence on the earth at a certain point in space and time matter eternally.
We might wish that other beliefs were true.  We might like others to be saved apart from Christ.  However, the Apostles and their Gospels teach that it is only through Jesus and his sacrificial death for our sins are we saved.  Accepting Christ, “calling on the name of the Lord,” of itself is not saving.  It is Jesus’ death which saves and our trust in his sacrifice for us that saves us.  We can affirm these things because they are event which have been testified to by eyewitnesses.  This is not “believin’ what you know ain’t so.” This is faith invested in a person who lived and died for us.  Not only lived and died, but rose again.

Christianity is based on historical facts Part II John's testimony


Luke was not alone in his goals in writing his Gospels and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles to give a factual and eyewitness account of Jesus’ life.  John the Apostle wrote his own Gospel which in effect fills in many of the gaps of the other three Gospels and adds theological depth to the story of Jesus.
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John at the conclusion of his Gospel adds these words: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of the disciples.”  “Signs” are not merely miracles, like raising Lazarus from the dead, but miracles which attested to who Jesus was.  In fact, the raising of Lazarus from the dead followed Jesus’ statement to Mary, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me shall never die.”  (John 11:25)  Jesus’ miracles weren’t “throw-aways,” or parlor tricks meant to impress.  They were historical events with a teaching purpose.
Indeed, John tells us further: “these [things] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.” John’s first goal is that we understand that Jesus is the Anointed one, the one God sent into the world to die for our sins

John 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
 
Also, John clarifies his goal when he adds: “that by believing you may have life in his name.”

In the Book of the Acts Peter the Apostle says:  

Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the one who dies on behalf of his people. He is the sacrifice for sin.  By believing that he is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed one, people can find salvation.
At the very end of his Gospel John adds another statement of purpose:
John 21:21 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

John tells us that he was an eyewitness.  He “testifies.” He uses very legal language. Aside from declaring that his testimony is true, he also repeats that if everything Jesus did, all of his teachings and all of his miracles, were written down it would fill many more books that the four Gospels.
John also wrote a letter to Christians in Asia Minor.  In that letter he gives a sort of introduction which reiterates his points:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,

John makes clear that he was with Jesus at the beginning of his ministry.  He also tells us in no uncertain terms that they had heard Jesus teach, they had seen him with their own eyes, they had not just seen him, but also looked at him, watched him over time, and they had also touched him.
Some at the time John wrote this letter were denying that Jesus as God’s Son could have taken on a body. These false teachers are generally known as proto-Gnostics.  The Gnostics were a later group of neo-Platonic teachers who argued that flesh or a material body was evil and that the spirit or nonmaterial part of a person was pure and heavenly.  John is taking this teaching head on.  He gives details which show that Jesus was in fact a real man
Besides stating this truth John gives again language of the court: eyewitnesses.  They had heard him teach, they had seen him physically with their own eyes (first-hand, not second-hand information), they had known him for some time seeing him live, walk, teach, eat, sleep, etc. and they had even touched him.  Jesus was a real human, a man whom they knew as one knows another human being. 
This was very important because according to the argument of the Bible Jesus was the sacrifice Lamb. He was the atoning sacrifice for sin.  He died in our place.  By believing in him we gain eternal life.
John uses a sort of rhetorical device here which is called an inclusio.  He begins with hearing and seeing and he ends the section with hearing and seeing.  Hebrew thought uses repetition to drive a point.  As a Jew John’s thought patterns are shown here.  He wants this point to be clear: Jesus was a real man and he died for our sins to save us.  He and the Apostles were eyewitnesses.
I have spent a lot of time writing about Luke and John’s prologues, introductions and conclusions to show that at least for the Apostles there was no faith in Jesus without belief in these written accounts of his actions, without these events having happened.  There can be no “Christian” faith without a historical Jesus who was both the Christ and a real man.
In my next blog I will apply these ideas about the eyewitness nature of the Apostles’ testimony.  Christianity is not a myth.  It is based on hard cold fact.

Christianity is based on historical facts Part I Luke's testimony


     I have started with a bold statement.  Many people in fact try to maintain their Christian faith while denying that the New Testament is composed of true and trustworthy facts.  This may seem to you either quite reasonable or quite foolish.
            Let me say that many more so-called Liberal Christians wish to maintain “Christian” moral values (at least some of them) while rejecting the idea that the New Testament and/ or the Gospels are true.  Of course, to many the New Testament or the Gospels are irrelevant documents that are from hoary ages past.  They were written by pious, but perhaps misguided men who were misogynist or sexist, patriarchal.  They were men who lived before the “Scientific” age or the “Rational” age.  They believed in things like angels, demons, miracles, gods...  Now we know better. 
            Often our Christianity is composed of historical practices, for example celebrating the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper.  We have also inherited the Liturgy or words of that service.  Though we may reject the Gospels as historically accurate and truth-telling, we trust these “symbols” or creeds or tradition.  They comfort us.  They might not be provable according to science, but our spirits need encouragement and our traditions give us comfort.
            Christians who do not rely on the historical Gospels for their doctrine or teachings often hold onto Church Tradition (what has been believed by those Christians in the past, like the Apostle’s Creed, or practices like the Eucharist).  In effect we have then two bases for our faith: Church Tradition and our own religious experience.
            While Tradition can be helpful, it is at times self-contradictory.  Most people do not accept all of Church Tradition, but only those things they like.  There is also a Western (Roman Catholic) Church Tradition and an Eastern (Orthodox) Church Tradition.  We must choose which we trust.
            Our religious experience may indeed be self-authenticating.  However, it cannot be measured or tested objectively.  Our religious experience, for example feeling God’s touch, feeling near to God or hearing his voice is not testable.  There is no way for us to show that it is true or veridical.  Religious experience is subjective.
            Religious experience is also quite difficult to judge in any sense.  Many religious mystics from many religious traditions have similar experiences, for example feeling near to God, hearing his voice, feeling his touch.  We cannot judge between mystical experiences to judge which are true or veridical.  They may be true, but they cannot be checked.

            It is for this reason that Christianity is first and foremost a religion of the Book, the Gospels, the New Testament or the whole Bible.  Early Christian apologists, those who defend the truth of Christianity, made this clear.  The Gospel writer, Luke, wrote

1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Luke was a medical doctor.  He was a man of science in so far as anyone would have been in his day.  He had an eye for details and noted many things other Gospel writers did not, for instance details about illnesses and healings. Luke wrote his Gospel, his life of Christ, for a person named Theophilus.  We are not sure whether Theophilus was an actual person or a sort of pseudonym for some convert to Christianity.  It could be either.  The main point, though, of Luke’s introduction to his life of Christ is that he has been painstaking to hand on information from eyewitnesses.
We know from his Gospel that he drew, for instance, on Mary’s testimony, the comments of Jesus’ mother.  Luke also drew on the eyewitness accounts of other of the “apostles,” the disciples or followers of Jesus.
Secondly Luke tells us that he “carefully investigated everything from the beginning” [of Jesus’ life and ministry].  Luke is painstaking in his account of Jesus.  He is known for his detailed account of illnesses and cures, as we would expect from a doctor.
Thirdly Luke gives an “orderly account.”  He is “covering the bases.”  He lays it all out in order and tries to include everything which is necessary for us to understand.
Luke is letting us know at the beginning of his Gospel that this is a factual account. It is based on eyewitness accounts.  It is not made up.  It is not just what he wants to say.  He is telling us what happened as carefully and completely as he can.
In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles Luke again gives a preface to his book, he says:
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
 
This book, the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, is again addressed to Theophilus, who seems to have been an upper class convert, as far as we know.  Luke notes the purpose for his first book: “I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven.”  Luke’s goal in the Gospel was to set out all that Jesus did and taught.  Luke gives us further information from the period beyond the Gospels: “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.”  Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t wishful thinking or a group hallucination.  He gave “many convincing proofs,” for instance, he ate bread and fish with them, and allowed Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands and sides. (John 20:24-29)
             In my next blog I will turn from Luke’s assertions that his Gospel is composed of eyewitness
testimony and so historical facts to John the Apostle’s similar claims.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Quarantine

When we lived in Novi Sad, Serbia during the Bosnian War (academic years 1992-94) we weren’t technically under quarantine.  On the other hand I often felt very awkward, if not unsafe, due to being an American in a country whose nation was about to bomb Serbs in Bosnia.

There were frequent military police sweeps picking up men who had not fulfilled their military duties.  There was conscription to the army for all able bodied men.  At the same time all over the country people were wearing “Ja sam snaga haosa” (“I am a force of chaos”) button. They were protesting a government propaganda campaign, which was looking for scapegoats to blame for the problems caused by the war.  Of course, all foreigners were “forces of chaos” or in ordinary language “spies.”

By Serbian standards, I am “blond” and I am blue eyed.  I don’t look like a Serb: black hair, black eyes... I stand out immediately as a non-Serb.  Wherever I went paranoid people would see me as a threat and a possible spy.  Linda, however, looked “Hungarian:” darker skin, blond hair, but brown eyed...  She seemed to have no problems...

While I wasn’t quarantined I spent a lot of time indoors.  I did go out to church or Bible studies or at times the stores, etc., but it wasn’t at all pleasant to go out.  Perhaps it was a sort of “self-quarantine.”  We did teach classes in our second floor apartment, go back and forth to Budapest to pick up guest teachers and were involved in our local church.

There were shortages, though, for everyone.  Slobodan Milosevic had lost the election in Vojvodina, the farming area in the north of Serbia. Novi Sad is the capital of Vojvodina.  As a result all food and products were taken from Vojvodina and sent south.

The open air market continued with people bringing produce from their gardens and plots directly to customers. Eventually there was nothing to buy, at least food stuffs, in the stores.  Everyone depended on the open air market or went across the border into Hungary to shop.

We learned to live with the constant low grade irritants of life in a country under sanctions.  I had to buy gasoline either in Hungary or from an ingenious lad who “trafficked” in gasoline. 

Water mains broke regularly.  Often we had to go to the corner to get water in canisters.  Electrical transformers on utility poles constantly blew up throwing sparks and plunging us into darkness.  Natural gas for furnaces was available only four hours per day: two in the morning and two in the evening.

Perhaps the most familiar feeling for me being under the current quarantine in the Netherlands is one of unease.  We weren’t under any immediate threat in Novi Sad.  In general all went pretty well, but we were watched by police and we never knew exactly where we stood with neighbors or other people in the town.

Some people had even been killed nearby.  Some black marketeers brought ordinary prescription medications from abroad and sold them to the pharmacy near the hospital.  Some were shot down after receiving their hard currency payments.  The killers took the money and left the black marketeers dead... It was not two block from our house.

Armed police and soldiers in abundance are not something to inspire confidence, at least not when you are not “one of us.”  This living with a possible interview with police or being arrested and questioned was nerve wracking.

Quarantine is irksome and at the same time something a bit fearful.  I don’t expect to be infected.  Even if I were, I would not expect more than a bad cold.  At the same time I could die.

I could always die... I could die in a car accident.  It’s quite common.  I could have a heart attack...

We are mortal and our life is only a temporary affair, at least our life on this planet.  No one escapes death.  It comes sooner or later.

Fear of death is a low grade infection of sorts.  It is something any thoughtful person wrestles with.  We might block it out with things and activities, but it is always there even if just in our subconscious mind.

Both while in Novi Sad and now, I think of Paul’s words, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”  Christians have a hope that is “other worldly.”  We should not be afraid of death since Jesus defeated death. 

I was going to quote a familiar statement about John Wesley and his traveling by horseback alone.  However, I found one source which refutes that statement.  In fact the biographer said that Wesley was very “methodical” and always had people with him because of highwaymen.

Supposedly when asked why he risked traveling by horse to preach tempting bandits to rob and kill him, John Wesley said, “I am in God’s hand until he calls me home.” Whether the story is true or not the point is still the same: whatever it will be COVID19 or cancer or heart attack or plane crash, my times are in his hands.

In my searching for this quote of Wesley’s I came upon a story of George Whitfield and William Tennent.  Whitfield was in New Jersey. So, Tennent went to visit him.  Tennent was a much older man.  He had started the “Log College” which was a school to train pastors.  Many who had been trained in Europe, as he had, jeered the Log College.  In fact it was called the “Log College” as an insult. The Log College eventually joined with the College of New Jersey, which later became Princeton University.

When Whitfield pressed Tennent to say whether he was looking to going to heaven soon, as Tennent was the oldest person present, Tennent said that he had no opinion.  When pressed further Tennent said more or less that he would work until the Lord called him home.  There was still much to do.

I will end my thoughts here and put below the discussion between Whitfield and Tennent which is recorded in the Cyclopedia Cyclopedia of Moral and Religious Anecdotes by Kazlitt Arvine, 1849

(2) WAITING THE LORD'S TlME.--When the Rev. George Whitfield was last in America, the Rev. W. Tennent paid him a visit, as he was passing through New Jersey; and one day dined with him, and other ministers, at a gentlemen’s house. After dinner, Mr. W. adverted to the difficulties at tending the gospel ministry; lamented that all their zeal availed but little; said, that he was weary with the burden of the day; and declared the great consolation, that in a short time his work would be done, when he should depart and be with Christ. He then appealed to the ministers if it was not their great comfort that they should soon go to rest. They generally assented, except Mr. T. who sat next to Mr. W. in silence, and by his countenance discovered but little pleasure in the conversation. On which Mr. W. tapping him on the knee said, “Well, brother Tennent, you are the oldest man among us; do you not rejoice to think that your time is so near at hand, when you will be called homeI” Mr. T. bluntly answered, “I have no wish about it.” Mr. W. pressed him again. Mr. T. again again answered, “No, sir, it is no pleasure to me at all; and if you knew your duty, it would be none to you. l have nothing to do with death my business is to live as long as I can, as well as I can, and to serve my Master as faithfully as l can, until he shall think proper to call me home.” Mr. W. still urged for an explicit answer to his question, in case the time of death were left to his own choice. Mr. T. replied, “I have no choice about it; I am God's servant, and have engaged to do his business as long as he pleases to continue me there- in. But now, brother, let me ask you a question. What do you think l should say, if l were to send my man into the 􏰀field to plough; and if at noon l should go to the field, and find him lounging under a tree, and complaining, ‘Master, the sun is very hot, and the ploughing hard; l am weary of the work you have appointed me, and am overcome with the heat und burden of the day. Do, master , let me return home, and be discharged from this hard service?’ What should l say‘? Why, that he was a lazy fellow, and that it his business to do the work that I had appointed him, until l should think 􏰀fit to call him home.”
Kazlitt Arvine. Cyclopedia of Moral and Religious Anecdotes: A Collection of Nearly 3000 Facts ... with Copious Topical and Scriptural Indexes. Leavitt, 1849, 471, 472

https://books.google.nl/books?redir_esc=y&hl=nl&id=JzVAAAAAYAAJ&q=Tennet#v=onepage&q&f=true

Accessed 17 March 2020


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

"A rolling stone gathers no moss."

I love moss.  I guess it’s that I’m from western Pennsylvania and there was a lot of moss in the woods near my home and at campgrounds and state parks.

I learned to identify all the forms of moss we had in western PA when I was a kid.  I was a Boy Scout and I earned the Botany merit badge by learning to identify various types of plants and trees and moss.  As a Boy Scout, for instance, we were taught that sphagnum moss would make a nice mattress if pushed into a sack.  Sphagnum moss is unique in that it has a more elongated structure.


Sphagnum moss

But I like all forms of moss.  The air here in the Netherlands is very humid and it rains very, very frequently.  We aren’t having real winter these days: no snow, no real low temperatures, only frost on the car window and the rooves once and a while.

Moss is growing in our backyard.  Our backyard is paved in big concrete stones.  I’m sure the stones were laid when the house was built about 35 - 40 years ago. Our backyard is covered with decaying leaves (black to my eyes) and bright green moss (when it has rained recently).  I love the bright green moss.  I am not excited about flag stone backyards. 

Nothing else will really grow in our backyard.  The bicycle shed shelters it and that means there is little sunlight.  There is also a tall tree which we like for shade and beauty, but it does shade the yard and grass won’t grow.

We had a beautiful boxwood bush which nothing except a blight could kill, which it did two years ago.  We have a laurel bush now and a couple bridal wreath bushes.  There’s a lot of ivy and an overgrown pine.  There are also some rose bushes which Linda planted and one left from previous tenants.

But the part of our backyard I like the best is the moss and the dead leaves.  Our yard in the Netherlands is starting to look like the woods I love. 

Linda knew that I loved the woods, even if I never want to camp in a tent sleeping on the ground again.  She found me a lovely little campground with self-catering apartments beside the Ambleve river in southern Belgium in the Ardennes mountains near where the Battle of the Bulge took place.

I love the area around Domaine Long Pre where we go for vacation.  I love the little river and the pine covered hillsides.  I love the deciduous forest in the lower area and the pine stands further up. 

The view from the top of the hill above the camp is beautiful with other hill tops in the distance and farm houses and barns, cows and a ski slope.  I always enjoy seeing the same statues and monuments, the one of Jesus with outstretched hands receiving WWI fallen soldiers and the WWII monument from the 82nd US Airborne in Wannee.

I like being able to walk along the path which has recently been renewed along the Ambleve river from Domaine Long Pre to Stavelot, the larger town in that area. There was once a thriving monastery there which housed hundreds of monks. Now it is a war museum and government offices.  The quaint houses and shops of Stavelot are endearing. 


We almost always go to the same restaurants. I almost always order the same things, especially Ardennes trout with creme sauce, mushroom and bacon, Flemish beef stew cooked in beer sauce and rabbit butt cooked in plum sauce.  French fries are not French.  They were invented by the Belgians and no meal in Belgium is possible without “friets.”


I haven’t had it with potatoes, but the fish and sauce look right!

But I think I especially like seeing all the moss as I walk up the hill under the pine stand.  The plain, old moss and the sphagnum moss.

Now we have even had moss growing in front of our house on the pavement.  I like the moss and the wild violets which grow there. 

In the early part of our missionary career we moved constantly.  We never stayed even two calendar years in one place, until we moved to Leuven, to Belgium.  We were five school years there.


Now we have been in the Netherlands almost twenty years, twenty this August.  There is a lot of lovely moss.