Genre of the Week: Summer 1995 by Evelyn Dykhouse Halverson

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Summer: The best time of the year.
It’s a time to travel to meet family and friends living far away. It’s a time for bike tours and fishing, while amusing ourselves with entertainment from the county fair and amusement park. It’s a time for baseball and golf, but also the best place for grill fests where we feast on steak, fries, corn and a good beer.

Having grown up in southern Minnesota and being not far from the Iowa Lakes Region, where Okoboji was the main tourist trap for four months in the year, the best thing about the summer months is being next to the water, where a tour along West Lake Okoboji on the cruise ship Queen II was as obligatory as going to church- but with a lot of entertainment and facts about the lake. It also meant an annual visit from my two cousins in California, where we clowned around on Big Spirit Lake in inner tubes, while playing card games and making my great aunt laugh- she was a great host as she had a cottage on the north end for over 50 years. 🙂 It also meant golf and jetskiing with friends from high school, while keeping the neighborhood in Loon Lake awake with parties until 2am in the morning! 😉

But there is more to summer than just water and wheels. To this author, summer means listening to nature and watching the trees change colors as it provides fresh air and shade. Even if we switch off the air conditioning for a night, we can listening to the sounds of crickets chirping, secadas sawing in the trees and a herd of deer galloping about. And this with the hum of other air conditioners and cars passing by.

This poem was one of many that local historian Evelyn Halverson wrote for the newsletters of the Lyon County Historical Society in Rock Rapids, Iowa. Halverson always opened the newsletter with a poem about one of the four seasons- after all, the newsletter was published four times a year at each season. From 1985 until 2007 she was the writer that inspired others to read up on history and become writers as well, as the newsletter was laden with facts that tied local, national and international history together, be it locals having fought in World War II and sharing stories about their experiences in Germany or Japan, or about the Bonnie Doon Railroad, which cut Lyon County into two (a bridge along the route was profiled recently, click here). In either case, the newsletters were fun to read and the lady was a great poet. A collection of poems were put together in a book, published in 2008, two years before her death.

One of these poems I wish to share with you in this genre of the week, which fits the summer mood for the reader and the author. Enjoy!

Pause to catch the wonders of summer

See the cornstalks stretching toward the sky

As a symphony of bird songs greet each dawn

And gentle breezes stir the tree leaves with a sigh.

 

The roadsides are colorful with wildflowers.

The apple trees flaunt red apples, crisp and sweet.

Thunder and lightning announce a sudden shower,

All a pettern of summer’s annual treat.

 

Listen to the crickets serenade at night time

As the locust chorus buzzes through the day.

The monarch butterflies glisten in the sunshine,

Catch the wonders of summer before it passes away!

 

 

Have a great summer everyone! 😀

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Shadow of the Day: A Tribute to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

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Where have all the rockers gone? Our idols whom we’ve followed faithfully and shown our support for them and their songs sincer our days in high school are no longer with us. Those who had plenty of years of life left in them decided to cut it short. Drug abuse, family problems, taxes and the law, the paparrazi and the media chased them from the mike (microphone), erased their abilities to create and export their songs, causing them to disappear without a trace.

But with one question: why?

After losing Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), and Chris Cornell (Soundgarten) among many gift musicians, we’ve lost another singer in Chester Bennington from Linkin Park.

And he was only 41 when he hung himself.

A father of six children, Chester and other members founded Linkin Park in 1996 and gave alternative rock a new face with a mixture of rap, electronic rock, metal and lyrics that looked at the domestic issues that he and others faced in life. Being a member of Generation X, this generation served as the bridge between the Baby-boomer generation- which grew up on platinum records, Vietnam, sex-drugs-and rock and roll, as well as Billy Joel- and the younger generations of today, who are self-absorbed but self conscience, want to experience everything but are “Holly-go-lightlies” eating breakfast at Tiffany’s, and are well-informed but digital natives spending time buried in their Smartphones. It was also the same generation that has suffered from tumultuous times, having survived two major financial crises, 9/11/2001, and rapid changes to our own environment, while being sandwiched between the two generations, not having a chance to live the dreams we wanted to, working to make ends meet and not even thinking about retirement.  All of these aspects, which resulted in the fight to find one’s identity and deal with all the personal issues in life were the themes of the songs he and Linkin Park produced in the almost 20 years the band has been together.

One More Night was the last album released by the band before Bennington’s death, having been in stores since May of this year. However, if there is one song that best describes his legacy, it is this one, Shadow of the Day, which was released in 2007 from the album Minutes to Midnight.  Produced with keyboards and guitars, the song reflects on a person’s life and the need to move on. It’s walking into the sunset honoring a person and his work. Yet at the same time, it also means the rise of the next sun and the start of a new day with a new sheet of paper to draw or write about.  This song definitely reflects on Chester’s life, leaving us with questions of why it had to end the way it did, when he left a legacy as one of the best singers in his time. It does leave a question of what happens next, and who will be able to fill in his shoes, just like we have to with our other heroes who had followed before that.

Especially when the sun rises again…….

 

 

Our condolences to members of Linkin Park and the family of Chester Bennington on this unexpected loss of a great singer, who left us with songs we will listen to for years to come, and a legacy that will be difficult to outdo. God bless you……

 

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5 Myths About Germany

George Schorschi

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Ah, Germany! The economic powerhouse of the EU! A shining beacon of hope in a world that’s gone mad! More and more, the world turns to Berlin (and Munich and Hamburg and even Düsseldorf) as a sign of stability in uncertain times. Quality of life is high, employment is steadily rising, and the lessons of history have been well learned. However, as one starts to examine what exactly makes the German system work, they come face to face with some rather inaccurate stereotypes. So in order for you, dear reader, to truly understand what it’s like here, I offer the truth I have personally uncovered regarding 5 Myths About Germany.

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Can Learning a Second Language Destroy Your Native Tongue?

For those who have been living in a country outside your home, and have had problems forgetting some words in your own language, you’re not alone. I’ve had this experience, especially since I’ve been living in Germany for almost 20 years. But so has this guest columnist, and here’s a short explanation for this. You don’t necessarily lose your language, but you integrate it into the one of your current country of residency. Enjoy! 🙂

Source: Can Learning a Second Language Destroy Your Native Tongue?

Why Are Germans So Depressing? Because You’re Hanging Out with the Wrong Ones. — Oh God, My Wife Is German.

Germans have a reputation for being depressing. For being downers, complainers, bitchers and moaners. “Worst-case-scenario” thinkers and “the-sky-is-always-falling” killjoys. And this overall “depressing” stereotype is often further described using adjectives like pessimistic, negative, sad, gloomy, cold, unfriendly and even downright rude. Now, I’m an American expat from Portland, Oregon, and I’ve been living in Germany […]

via Why Are Germans So Depressing? Because You’re Hanging Out with the Wrong Ones. — Oh God, My Wife Is German.

Genre of the Week: Jesus Freak by DC Talk

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This special genre of the week is in connection with the Files’ series on Martin Luther and the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses. The Jesus Freak series belongs to this series because of its aspects. This is part 1.

 

A while back, while looking for some information about Martin Luther for one of the articles, I happened to run across this phrase that was a complete eye-opener- Jesus Freak.

Before we look at the theme much further, let’s have a look at the theme for a minute:

 

What is a Jesus Freak? 

 

If a person is considered a Jesus Freak, what are his/her characteristics in terms of the following:

His/her behavior

His/her apparel

His/her use of the Lord Jesus Christ (especially in the context)?

When looking at this Wile E. Coyote parody produced by Family Guy, the first question that comes to mind is what makes a person a Jesus Freak?

 

But can a 45-minute lecture on the Lord make him a Jesus Freak?

Can we make a distinction between a Jesus Freak and a avid church-goer?  The answer to that question is definitely yes, regardless of what faith you are in. The question is how can a person go from being either an atheist or an indifferent Christian to a Jesus Freak?  Speaking from experience, especially from my days in college in the US, many people, who are just common people at first, experience an epiphany one night and then become true Christians, reading the Bible and teaching others about Christ. Journalist Lee Stroebel in the 1970s did an investigative report on the existence of Jesus, found his epiphany, and has since then been a pastor. The book “The Case for Christ” talks about his experience of becoming a Christian.  Others are either raised in a Christian household or were born Christian but found their love for Jesus Christ and his teachings that they embrace Him unconditionally.

 

The Jesus Freak movement started in the 1960s in Germany, and one of the catalysts behind the movement is Martin Dreyer, who has written several books about the movement, one of which is in connected with Martin Luther and his Treatises. Yet other authors have claimed that the movement started way back in the 16th and 17th centuries, respectively- namely during the time of Martin Luther; one claimed that even one of the disciples of Christ (John) was considered the first Jesus freak. If that argument was the case, then the question is did the Jesus freak movement occur before or after Martin Luther’s 95 Theses?  If it occurred at or after the time of Martin Luther, then how?

 

To start this off, I would like to introduce you to this Genre special, whose title bears the topic we are going to talk about. Produced by DC Talk, an American rap/rock group in 1995, the videos and lyrics behind the song depicts the typical characteristics of a Jesus Freak from their perspective. The song was part of the album bearing the same name, which won the 1997 Grammys for Best Gospel Album. Watch the video, then take a look at the aforementioned questions at the beginning, and decide for yourself the following:

 

  1. What really constitutes a Jesus Freak and can it be differentiated from terms, such as Bible Thumper, Church-goer, etc.?

 

  1. How can a person really become a Jesus Freak and why?

 

Good luck and looking forward to your thoughts on that. Feel free to comment here or via e-mail. We will touch up on this subject again very soon.

 

Jesus Freak by DC Talk.

 

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500 Years of the 95 Theses Celebrated in Germany

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Magdeburg Cathedral, one of the places where Martin Luther spread his influence. Photo taken in 2011

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BERLIN/ERFURT/ LUTHERSTADT-WITTENBERG- You see me, and we see you. The slogan for the 36th annual Day of Christianity (Kirchentag), which ended yesterday with an open-air church service on the field along the Elbe River in Lutherstadt-Wittenberg.  Located between Leipzig and Berlin, Wittenberg was the central stage for Martin Luther, who was a professor of theology 500 years ago- a revolutionary who posted the 95 Theses on the doors of the church in the city with its present-day population of over 30,000 inhabitants. It is this city, where the two-day event commemorated the historic event, which reshaped Christianity and created the church that still bears its name.  Over 400,000 visitors participated in the four-day event, which started in Berlin, but also featured regional events in cities where Luther had its strongest influence: Leipzig, Erfurt, Weimar, Jena, Eisleben, Halle and even Magdeburg had festivities from Thursday to Saturday for Christians, tourists, families and people wanting to know more about Luther and his interpretation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Wittenberg alone, roughly 120,000 visitors converged onto the field along the Elbe River and at the city center, to take part in the evening light show and open air reflections on Saturday, followed by an open-air church service on Sunday. Despite the sweltering heat, people had an opportunity to listen to the sermons as well as the discussion forum, one of which involved newly-elected German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who took over for Joachim Gauck in February this year.

In Berlin, where over 245,000 visitors took part in the festivities, especially at Brandenburg Gate, the events marked the welcoming back of former US President Barack Obama, who, together with Chancellor Angela Merkel, criticized Donald Trump’s policy of isolation with his plan for building the Wall to Mexico and isolating the country from its international obligations.

And as for the regional places, according to reports by MDR, the numbers were much lower than expected. In Erfurt, Jena and Weimar alone, only 42,000 visitors attended the events from Thursday to Saturday. However, the events were overshadowed by warm, summer weather, the Handel festival that began in Halle, the relegation soccer game between Jena and Cologne, where the former won the first of two games, and lastly, the Luther events at the aforementioned places in Berlin and Wittenberg.

This was noticeable during my visit in Erfurt on Friday with my wife and daughter. There, despite having over a dozen booths, podium discussions in several churches, tours of the churchs’ chapels and steeples as well as several plays and concerts and a pilgrimage from Stotternheim to the city center, the majority of the visitors took advantage of the beautiful weather for other activities.  It had nothing to do with attempts to recruit and convert people to become Lutheran on the spot. One should not interpret Luther and his teachings like this. In fact at a few sites that feature plays and musicals for children, such as Luther and Katharina as well as the Luther Express where children learned about Jesus during each of the four seasons, the layout and preparations were simple but well thought out with no glorifying features and some informative facts presented, which attracted a sizable number of people in the audience (between 50 and 60).

The lack of numbers might have to do with the fact that despite Christianity dominating Germany at 59%, only 28% consists of Lutherans in general. In the US, over 46% consists of Protestants, of which 26% are Evangelicals. 71% of the population are Christians. Given the low number of people belonging to the church, the United Lutheran Church Association of Germany (EKD) and other organizations worked together to make the Luther festival informative, attracting people from different denominations so that they know about Luther’s legacy both in Germany as well as above. It doesn’t necessarily mean that membership is obligatory. Much of the population are sceptical about the beliefs in Jesus, which is one of the reasons of why a quarter of the 41% are aethesists or agnostics. This leads to the question of why Christ is not important to them while at the same time why people in Germany elect to join the church. This question I had touched on in a conversation with one of the pastors of a local church, which will be brought up in a later article.

Nevertheless, when summarizing the events of this weekend, it was deemed a success in many ways. It provided visitors with a glimpse of Luther’s legacy, especially in Wittenberg, where his 95 Thesis was the spark that started the fire and spread to many cities in the region. It also brought together friends and strangers alike, Christian and non-Christian to remember the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Lutheran Church we know today, branches included. Exhibits on Luther can be found in Wittenberg but also at the places where Luther played a key role. For more, please click here to see where you can visit the sites.

You can also read up on the pilgrimage of six people, who marched on Lutherstadt-Wittenberg for the events by foot, bike or even boat, camping along the way. Each pair started their tour from Erfurt, Eisleben and Dessau-Rosslau, respectively. Here you can find their stories.

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