Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: pandemic. Pandemic! PANDEMIC! How much longer, we all wonder? When will we as a planet — or at least as a country, or really just statewide would be nice — reach that quixotic goal of “herd immunity”? When can we go back to wandering within 2-3 feet of each other and resume absentmindedly taking everyday life for granted again? For us, Easter weekend represented another stepping stone toward that goal.
One of our biggest regrets about our annual road trips is we always fail to make time for church services on Sunday. Occasionally we’ll happen near a church that’s built up enough exterior decor that it counts as a tourist attraction, but we’re never in a position to attend services. We’ve visited such houses of worships in New Orleans, Colorado Springs, and New York City, among others.
So it went in Vincennes as our walk took us slightly adjacent to George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, where we found holy grounds whose history predates Clark’s arrival in the area, not to mention the American Revolution itself. It was a Tuesday and we aren’t Catholic, but we appreciated a chance to spend a few minutes with our minds pointed more toward God.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I keep rolling with the punches as the Coronavirus saga continues and we’re forced to adjusting our boundaries and personal thresholds in the face of what I call “the interim normal“. Among several changes I neglected to mention in Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 was that our church moved to online services effective March 15th. Once boasting a membership over 2000 at its peak, and located squarely within the very first Indiana town to confirm a positive COVID-19 diagnosis once those started happening here, our church knew they couldn’t procrastinate taking action. Thankfully the IT infrastructure needed for such an undertaking was already in place. They’ve been recording and sharing sermons online for years — an audio-only stream back in primitive times, now with value-added video today.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.
By the time we finished our meager lunch at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, the storm had abated for a spell. Not far down the road is Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, whose features include a Visitors Center and free parking a block away. It was a nice start to the experience.
Our view of church this morning at 8 a.m., remembering and worshiping before the crowds who’ll be flocking in for the 9:15 and 11 a.m. services. We sat in the back with Anne’s grandmother and enjoyed the message, in which our lead pastor skillfully worked in a brief but topical detour to refute Lex Luthor’s flawed theology in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Apt timing.
Happy Easter to you ‘n’ yours from Midlife Crisis Crossover, and may you have a truly blessed day.
Pictured above: the main auditorium stage at our church home throughout the month of March.
It hasn’t been an easy, gracious month ’round these parts. Everywhere we turned, believers and non-believers alike were up in arms. Christians of all denominations, at all levels of faith, at various save points of their walkthroughs with Christ, have had plenty of questions, countless disagreements with others, even debates with each other. Anyone among us who never felt challenged or moved to sincere contemplation all month long wasn’t paying attention.
Easter Sunday is one of those too-rare moments when we collectively set aside our divisions, recognize why we do what we do, remember what our successes mean, realize what our failures don’t mean, and reaffirm why we ought to keep trying to do better.
We’re looking forward to service tomorrow morning. We welcome it. Right now, we need it.
* * * * *
“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” — 2 Thessalonians 2: 15-17 (NIV).
The “faith” aspect of the Midlife Crisis Crossover tagline may seem downplayed here more often than not, especially while diving into the deeper ends of geekery and pop culture, but rest assured it’s never far from my mind. What matters most, what keeps us going, what makes everything possible, what sees us through all that we do together — the hints appear around us everywhere we go.
Even on our 2013 road trip, examples weren’t hard to find. Whether it was a giant cross that would be the last thing we photographed in Ohio on our way home at the end of Day 9…
See this? Do you SEE THIS?
Few things strike dismay and disgust more viciously in the heart of a bibliophile than the sight of a water-damaged book. The original paper texture is lost. Your book will never close satisfyingly again. The pages make that unnerving tissue-paper sound when you turn them. In extreme cases the ink will run and turn sentences illegible and information irretrievable. If it’s a “classic” book in any sense, any hope you might’ve had of reselling it at collectors’ prices in the future are dashed.
The worst part of this incident is, this wasn’t even my coffee. In an auditorium with stadium seating and no carpeting under the seats, someone else’s morning java escaped them, flowed down to our row, and soaked the back of the laminated folder I’d left on the floor. The folder itself was fine but secretly had coffee adhering to it when I picked it up and set it on my open Bible so I could remove something from it. When I tried to move the folder, then I spotted the coffee, the runoff on the floor, and the damage done.
If you’re like me, and I know I am, this sort of accident spurs a vindictive little voice in the back of your head that wants everyone to know something inconvenient has happened and someone better do some mollifying or else it won’t shut up. But who was I supposed to complain to?
The Academy Awards aren’t complete without at least one token high-caliber British nominee on the Best Picture shortlist. Leave it to director Stephen Frears (whose past nominees include The Queen and Dangerous Liaisons) to fit the bill this year with a transatlantic odd-couple quest for reconnection or closure, for truth or justice, and for fury or forgiveness.
As much as I post about the entertainment options around me, I can’t immerse myself in them 24/7. Sometimes they disappoint or frustrate me. Sometimes they demand more of my time and attention than I care to give. Sometimes the idols among them remind me how their previous versions guided me through childhood. While I grew up and improved in a way or two, too many of those idols lost their luster, descended into mediocrity, or had their Reset buttons punched to turn them into different creatures with the same names. Ultimately they’re undependable as worldview building materials.
Hence my weekly one-man retreat. Every Sunday morning after church I isolate myself from my loved ones and collections, hole up in a local chain eatery that has plenty of loitering space (it’s not too hard to identify if you know the place), clear my mind, and spend an hour-plus with caffeine, snack, Bible, spiral-bound notebook, and a copy of the late Oswald Chambers’ devotional collection My Utmost for His Highest.
For those newer readers who’ve been wondering to themselves for months: I assure you the “faith” mentioned in the site subtitle isn’t a typo.