An interview with me

OK, I’m kind of embarrassed to be posting this, but the Washington Examiner did an interview with me.  It mentions you all at this “lively blog” twice, so I guess I should show it to you.  You can even see what I look like:

Credo: Gene Veith | Washington Examiner.

St. John the Hensley

My newest grandson, John Peter Hensley, was baptized yesterday.  It happened to be on the commemoration of the martyrdom of John the Baptist.  Pastor Douthwaite preached a remarkably good sermon, tying both of those events together, linking John the Baptizer with John the Baptized.  Finally, he announced that just as we have St. John the Baptist, we now have, by virtue of his baptism, St. John the Hensley.

And as if that were not enough, throughout the sermon, he also tied everything into vocation.  A sampling (Adam and Joanna being his parents; Johnno being the Australian nickname for John):

Not all heard John’s preaching as good news. And Adam and Joanna, I can fairly surely say that you will not hear all of little Johnno’s preaching to you as good news – especially when he calls out to you at 3 am, calling you to your vocation as father or mother to come and feed him, or to change his diaper. But he will call out, whether you like it or not, because that’s his vocation right now, calling you to your vocation, and so being God’s gift to you. That you may serve as you have been served. That you may love as you have been loved.

You won’t believe how good this sermon is.  You have got to read the whole thing, which has more insights than I can summarize.  The sermon is posted here:  St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist Sermon.

St. John the Hensley


Well, I just got back from the ordination of my son-in-law, Ned Moerbe, and his installation as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Blackwell, Oklahoma (just a few miles from our ancestral farm outside of Tonkawa). It was a great occasion. I counted 15 pastors taking part. The circuit is far flung, including Stillwater (where Oklahoma State University is), Guthrie (where my wife grew up), and Alva (where I was born). It was very moving when Ned was ordained and then started leading the service himself, including his first celebration of Holy Communion.

And then the pot-luck dinner afterwards that the church put on was one of the biggest and best I’ve experienced, with at least half a dozen different varieties of BBQ!

Now Ned’s a pastor. I am so happy for him, the rest of his family, and his congregation.

The Moerbes on ordination day

French food

I have more to tell you about my trip to France and Germany this summer. (I lectured at John Warwick Montgomery’s International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism, and Human Rights, then stayed over to visit friends in Germany.) Today I will report on French food.

I have been to some French restaurants in the USA and, frankly, was not all that impressed. They were fine, but too fancy and expensive for my taste and my social condition. But over there the food was amazing. Every little sidewalk cafe in Strasbourg, no matter how humble, at least that I encountered, turned out food that was made from scratch with fresh ingredients, that was prepared with care, and that tasted spectacular. The French take food very seriously, with TWO HOUR lunchbreaks, and dinners that last all evening. (Restaurants don’t even open for dinner until 7:00 p.m.) Every meal has at least three courses: a first course (the “entree,” meaning the introductory course, not the main course as in our usage), the main course, and dessert. Even the student restaurants followed this structure. (Students have not cafeterias but actual restaurants scattered throughout the university area of the city, with payment via a meal card.)

I ate at a little creperie (you know, crepes, like pancakes) in the shadow of the cathedral. These were not little doughy white pasty confections such as I have had here. These were made out of buckwheat and fried crisp and dark, with a kind of charred taste that combined perfectly with the filling of melted Gruyere cheese, ham, and onions. So savory. Talk about (as we have) umami tsunami. Washed down with a carafe of local cider, which the waitress replenished for free, thinking that the kitchen was taking too long. (The service was nearly always friendly, hospitable, efficient, and joyful.) For dessert she brought me another kind of crispy crepe filled with pears and chocolate topped with ice cream. It was one of the best lunches I’ve ever had.

This was in the Alsace region. Each region of France has its own cuisine. Food in the Alsace, but also I believe the rest of France, does lots with sauces and features an abundance of butter, cream, and cheese. We Americans are encouraged to fear such food. Clogged arteries! Heart attack! Obesity! And yet, in one of the greatest medical mysteries, the French people who eat this stuff all the time are some of the slimmest, healthiest, and heart-disease free people in the world. (Some think that is due to the wine, which flows freely at meals.)

Other highlights: pate de frois gras. I hate liver and I sympathize with the poor ducks and geese getting force fed so their livers will grow. I am not condoning that practice. But the resulting product offers what has to be one of the great taste sensations ever. It doesn’t even taste like liver. It is like the essence of meat conveyed in a medium with the texture and the mouth feel of butter.

And there are all of these little touches in the way the French serve food and orchestrate flavors. For example, lemon sorbet (desserts are usually quite light) served with a splash of brandy.

I forgive France for not wanting to take part in American wars. (They have fought enough wars in all of their history. As for jokes about them losing, I remind you that Napoleon came close to conquering the world. We don’t want a militarily powerful France.) I forgive them for the sake of their food.

UPDATE: After my visit, back in this country, I was taken to a French restaurant in Moscow, Idaho, which measured up to the continental standards. So such good food can be found here, as well. Watch for an actual French chef.

OK, now you can tell about great meals YOU have had. (It’s a challenge to describe tastes. But try it.)

Route 66

Last weekend, I finally saw Cars (2006).  What a good movie!  I didn’t expect from the big-eyed automobiles that I saw in the toystores that this computer animated flick from Pixar/Disney would have such lively characters, such a witty script, and such an evocative story.  One of its themes is the difference between the Interstate sensibility and the Route 66 sensibility.  (“Well, the road didn’t cut through the land like that interstate. It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved. Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.”)

I grew up in a little Oklahoma town right on Route 66.  And our relatives lived way down that same road, so we did a lot of driving on that mother road.  In fact, the town where I lived looked a lot like Radiator Springs in the movie.  The “EAT” cafes, the motels shaped like teepees, the tourist traps, all of those glamorous neon signs, and other imagery from the movie gave me a nostalgia rush.  (Also the “Ghost Light” referenced in the movie would have been the mysterious apparition that occasionally appeared to freaked out motorists known as the “Spook Light,” just 20 miles or so from where we lived.  (No, I never saw it.  But we tried, venturing out on some scary drives.)  Then there was the teenager car culture that went with all of that, trying to turn our junkers into hot rods and dragging main.  And the road food. (We would never stop at a drive-in on Route 66, though such things had been invented.  We always stopped at a local restaurant for hour-long-lunches, finishing off with amazing pies.) In the words of the song, I got my kicks at Route Six Six.

It’s a good movie that can bring all of that back.

Luke 1:63

Our daughter Joanna had her baby! He is our fifth grandy in three years.