Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gettin Ready to start Fall semester (Sept 1)

I'm all ready for this semester… syllabi all done and prep for the first week of classes… but classes don’t start until Tuesday. I’m rarin’ to go already. Excited as always about LCE/Spiritual Formation and I have a renewed excitement about church leadership since I’m redesigning the entire course to a “Problem Based Learning” approach.

I’m still doing a bunch of interviews on the new book “There is no I in church” with Christian radio stations across the USA. I’ve probably done about 25 interviews in the last month so thousands and thousands of folk have heard me talk about the church in all kinds of “markets” but there is something really strange… with all that exposure not a single person I know had heard me and sent an email saying so. It’s curious. I think I know why. Neither Wesleyans nor IWU graduates are listeners to Christian radio. So I’m in a new “market” on these call-in shows—with a constituency I’m not usually with. Thus my past readers and students are unlikely to even hear me. They are ships passing in the night.

Actually I don’t give a hoot how many strangers read my books. I’ve never written for strangers. I know many writers who do that. They write to reach a new audience, to get known where they have not been known. Not me. I started out early getting known—mostly by traveling and speaking. By the time I had been in the ministry a decade I already had spoken to more people than I ever imagined I would in a lifetime. I was compelled to write because I couldn’t get back around to see these people I already loved… “my people.” So I wrote. Thus the only thing I rally “count” in book circulation is how many Wesleyans and former students are readers. The rest are strangers. So the same goes for radio interviews. If one of “my people” hears me the time is meaningful to me. But if a million strangers hear me—and even buy my book—it will mean little to me. I must be funny that way.

For what its worth I picked ten pounds of tomatoes out of my garden tonight—a few almost as big as cantaloupes. And I only harvest from three of my eight plants! Raising tomatoes is my spiritual gift I think. If you’re reading this and near Marion—stop by and pick some for yourself—no need to check first, just take some!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Great Colorodo Trail Hike!

Just returned from a hike with Phil Woodbury (retired Surgeon from Indy). We did 100 miles of the Colorado Trail at the end of the summer and I'm going to schedule an annual trip out the end of August every year We left August 15 and drove Phil's Honda van to Leadville, Colorado with a six hour sleepover at a rest stop in Kansas, arriving at the Trailhead by noon the next day (I forgot how close Colorado is-it was an easier trip than last year to the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire actually).

We started south at the same trailhead where Burt Webb & Jeanie Argot and I headed North two years ago. On our second day I had finished up my remaining un-hiked 20 miles of the Colorado Trail-so now I've finished it, though, lagging behind Burt by a month (who finished it earlier this summer).

We had rain almost every day and most of the nights, but Colorado rain isn't a big deal-the sun also shined every day but one so we dried out our damp bags most every day in the sun. We slept in a Go-lite tarp and only met nine mosquitoes the entire trip. This was Phil's first western trip and (compared to the horrendous trailway crossing New Hampshire last summer) he considered it a sidewalk and even his almost-blindness enabled him to walk ahead of me on his own up the climbs. Yes, I still languished slowly up the grades-many of them more then a 1000' and 3a few of them over 3000' in 3 miles (the Collegiate Peaks section of the CT has a few of the hardest-longest climbs on the CT). He waited at the top for me. (of course, as some of you know going downhill is another story).

The views were amazing, especially from our breakfast on the shoulder of Mt. Yale. We saw some great deer and heard elk stomping through our camp one night. We met Scooter & Pika-two through hikers (Scooter is a PCT alum from 2003) but only other day hikers-the CT is still one of the most under hiked great trails in the USA. We both went no-cook. Phil carried self-dehydrated food for the whole week, I re-supplied in Twin Lakes and at that little store in Mt. Princeton Hot Springs (remember that one Burt & co. from the 2000 hike with studnets???)

We averaged a leisurely 15 miles a day or so and covered about 100 miles from Leadville to Salida (US #50). Well, that's 15 miles until the final full day when we "pushed" a bit and landed Phil his first backpacking marathon-26.2 miles to a campsite just a few miles from US #50. We had an hour to spare actually averaging 3mph that day while walking. That left just a few hours of walking the final morning so we started hitching back to Leadville by 9 AM and three quick rides got to the Columbine Café for one of those great "potato skillets" breakfasts. There we met a kid who had thru-hiked the AT who with his girlfriend took us out to the end of Turquoise lake and our car before noon-as always, hitching is easier than most people imagine (and far more interesting than a drop-car: ask me sometime about the couple from Wyoming who picked us up!)

We (of course) stopped at the Denver REI on the way home and after grabbing a few hours sleep at a rest stop near Kansas City we got home yesterday a day earlier due to the Marathon day.

Our unsorted random pictures from the week can be seen at <ANY" target=_blank>>ANY

Now I'm headed off to "faculty retreat" the official beginning of Fall semester (see below on the courses I'm teaching htis fall)