We rolled back into town earlier this evening, so it’s back to the daily grind. A lot can happen in ten days away from everything. I managed to check in on the blog here and there while I was away, but for the most part made an effort to avoid responding to comments and discussion in posts and emails. I was taking a break, after all.

While visiting Minneapolis, we managed to take in Camp Snoopy and Underwater Adventures in “The Mall” where my four-year-old was very excited because she got to touch a shark (way too fearless, that one!). Minneapolis is also the place where an unexpected matter of protocol suddenly came into question for me…. what do you do when you’re in an elevator and the emergency phone rings? Other important observations from our visit include the fact that anyone wanting to spend two days walking from one store to the next in the Twin Cities area should skip the outlet malls and The Mall of America and do something worthwhile instead… spend the time in Stillwater where Loome Books isn’t the only attraction. Loome’s has changed since my last visit — they outgrew the converted church they were in about four years ago and now have a store on the main drag as well as the original site. I was frustrated to realize I’d forgotten my perpetual list of commentaries and other books I mean to acquire… I’ve got enough volumes in my library now that I’ve inadvertently purchased duplicates, so to avoid that and to enable me to check which volumes I’ve “pre-screened”, I usually carry a short list of target acquisitions if I expect to be in a used bookstore… quite helpful when you draw a blank on the name of the commentator you really wanted on Genesis and only remember two days later that it was “Nahum M. Sarna.” I did manage to pick up William McKane’s Proverbs, a new approach (OTL) and Walter Brueggemann’s The Prophetic Imagination from the used stacks, and found myself a copy of Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith at B&N.

Didn’t read as much as I hoped (almost none at the lake!) but I polished off The Da Vinci Code, Special Illustrated Edition. Analysis: I saw National Treasure and I still don’t think the Knights Templar inscribed a map to the treasure of the ages on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Dan Brown seems to have researched his material very well, but he completely misses the point of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library discoveries, and fails to understand the meaning of pseudepigrapha or the date and nature of those writings. Of course, these points are significant if you fail to appreciate that the book is a real page-turner among fictional novels, and on that basis I quite enjoyed it. While not unique, Brown has found a good niche in the whole history, art, & archaeological mystery genre.

While in Minneapolis, I managed to take in a service at Solomon’s Porch (Doug, I don’t think you read here regularly but on the off-chance you’re reading now, sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet). I have other observations to make, but here’s one that I was impressed with: he didn’t plug his new book from the pulpit (of course, that’s a figurative term at Solomon’s Porch).

The Sunday evening event was followed by a couple of pints of Guinness at Keegan’s Pub with Arlen, who I’m glad to note just this evening has broken his blogging silence. He mentioned our visit on his blog, and yes, we covered many topics… which also provided insight into the nature of online relationships through the way in which we were able to connect and “click” so well right away despite having never met in person before. Also of some note, Arlen introduced me to Dunn Bros Coffee, and gave me a bit of education before presenting me the following day with a gift of coffee beens that he had personally roasted that very day. This takes “freshly roasted” to a whole new level… remember that “vacuum-packed” TV commercial? Bah. If Jesus had turned water into coffee instead of wine, the master of the banquet would not have been tasting Starbucks.

A couple of days in Duluth went very well, as did our time with friends at the lake. Duluth has one of the exceedingly few places where I can go and shell out $4.95 for a malt and not feel ripped off. Down at the lake, we spent last evening talking on the porch with a couple who have become two of our best friends and journeymates… until nearly 1:00AM. Just after that I bumped into their teenage daughter elsewhere on the property and when I mentioned that her folks had just turned in, she said “One o’clock! I’m impressed!” Hmmm…. that wasn’t even our latest-night discussion, even this weekend. Last night, our conversation largely turned to the richest of matters, the subject of community, and of sharing life together.

When I say a lot can happen in ten days, I’m not so much referring to Hurricane Katrina, though of course that’s in there…. it was all over CNN while we were travelling and all over the radio and newspapers at the lake; there was a whole group at the lake and somebody always seemed to be bringing in a current paper. On this matter I haven’t even processed enough to opine and I’m not certain I will; my wife’s brother has been involved in flying in supplies and flying out people. I also got news yesterday about a friend who died Saturday morning, cancer. This was a fellow who was a friend of my parents but whom I would consider a friend as well, a Korean War veteran who was quite a number of years my senior but when I was in my mid-teens he would still be happy to have coffee with me or to do early-morning Bible study or prayer meetings together — followed by breakfast at a local restaurant, of course. George, you’ll be missed.

I hope to pick up some of the many threads of this post in the coming days and to blog further on some of them… we’ll see how the following week or so unfolds; looks like there’s another “Theology Pub Night” brewing in Winnipeg, and I’ve got a bunch of catching up to do on several fronts. Right now, my oldest daughter is having trouble getting to sleep with all the excitement and nervousness of going back to school tomorrow, and I’m trying to get ahold of what new “loose ends” I’ve got piled up in the office for me. Just from my email, I already see I’ve got to think about a new company vehicle and some expansion plans, seems another company wants us to think about acquiring/assuming their operations…. but I’m leaving the email for tomorrow, along with the vmail. As well of course, I’ve got some blog-reading to catch up on as well…. so by Thursday or Friday, I might possibly answer the question, “Besides a hurricane and outrageous gas prices, did I miss anything?”

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