Shared Views #3

Post 3/2021 Saturday 16 January . . . To think that one has Luddite-like tendencies gives me pause. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, a Luddite was a “member of the organized bands of 19th-century English handicraftsmen who rioted for the destruction of the textile machinery that was displacing them.” Further, the term “is now used broadly to signify individuals or groups opposed to technological change.”

The Luddites spent their machine-breaking fury in England’s manufacturing districts of Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire in the years 1811-1816. Their leader might have been a real person, but most likely was an imaginary figure known as King Ludd.

The cycles of progress are as certain as freezing and melting, as acceptance and applying the brakes, as fragile as joining with others to find the best applications. There’s beauty to behold as we move forward together.

Technology is a fact of life, an essential part of so-called progress. Thank God. I recall how one of our nephews was an early adopter of computers. We were with him and his parents when he bought his first Apple Macintosh personal computer to use as a student. He’s a completely competent computer savvy artiste today. Way to go, Steve!

Still, the past is prologue. I sometimes feel a bit of neo-luddism creeping into my mind when it comes to robocalls, to phishing calls, to technology that I should be able to master at a whim but still have to check the handbook, to other personal defaults. Just call me a slow adopter; yet one who positively does not entertain the faintest idea, thought or impulse to rail and act against technology as the Luddite bands did. Ha ha ha, I’ve absolved myself, right?

Thanks to people like Steve, John Yoder and other friends, I’m encouraged to take take further steps in using technology less reluctantly.

A few weeks ago John Yoder did a presentation for the Sojourners class of College Mennonite Church. He titled it, Being Sojourners in a Zoom Room: Connecting in ways that matter. The class has used a Zoom interface for the past nine months. John likened the remove from in-person meeting to an exile. He said, “Our ‘exile’ has presented us with an opportunity to be classroom-creative by bringing in resources from around the world . . . It has also revealed differences in comfort with technology that we should address so that everyone can participate.”

John’s prod for us to embrace “digital literacy as a shared purpose” stirs hopefulness and resolve in me. I’ve no need to hang my head or grouse about my technological limitations. Embrace the now! Below is John’s summary of his call to action.

John Yoder’s summary of a Zoom class on coming to terms with technology as a good and proper force in our lives.

More on adopting technology

I think fondly of my uncle Orie, who for a few years ran machines at the Tavistock Woolen Mill, Tavistock, Ontario, even as my great-grandmother Annie spun yarn from wool. As a youngster, I probably got socks from the woolen mill’s shop. (I wish I knew what great-grandmother knitted from the wool she spun.}

Uncle Orie moved on to a successful self-employment career in sales–and in other creative endeavors. He and two of his siblings, and another relative, in the mid-1940s formed the Bender Quartet, that sang in churches and as part of the Nightingale Chorus heard on radio Sunday evenings.

In the late 1940s, uncle Orie bought a wire tape recorder in Middlebury, Indiana, while the Bender Quartet was on tour in various churches in Elkhart and LaGrange counties. Later that year at the Christmas gathering at my grandparents home, uncle Orie interviewed all those who would speak into the microphone. I’m recorded as saying I got a firetruck with a ladder for Christmas. My grandparents had more to say, their recorded voices evoking deep memories today. Marvelous! My media savvy cousin Bob has that tape recorder today.

Middlebury, Indiana

The photos reflect the look of Middlebury on Friday, January 15, 2021. It’s a busy town, a pretty town, a too-busy-main-road-runs-through-it town. A town with remembered historic roots and signs of progress all around.

On the street out of Middlebury east to Shipshewana, Indiana.

Around Greencroft Goshen

Thankfully, Greencroft is Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to clearing and gritting sidewalks after a snowfall.
Snow covers one of the annual flower gardens edging the partially mowed Greencroft Prairie wildflower area. Permanent grasses include Prairie Dropseed, Little Blue Stem, Big Bluestem, Side Oats Grama, Indian Grass, Switchgrass, and many other non-grasses in the butterfly garden.
View across an open field to continuing construction of houses in Whispering Pines Court and, to the right, a partial view of one of the congregate independent-living buildings on campus, Juniper Place.

Along the Winona Interurban Trail

From our front door we can take a connecting trail to the Interurban Trail at Goshen College. The trail currently ends at Waterford Elementary and Bethany High School. We did a loop walk returning home on Kercher Road and through part of Goshen Industrial Park.

Eating out in an Igloo

Goshen Brewing offers a Pad Thai meal on Tuesdays. One can reserve an Igloo that includes a heater and just enough lighting for an enjoyable, very enjoyable, meal out in winter.

Pad Thai is the only food option on Tuesdays. Spicy and nice.

Native landscaping closeup, Goshen College

Abshire Park, Goshen

Abshire Park includes 75.5 acres, mostly dedicated to passive use as a prairie wetland and also organized activities, including a sledding hill. A crushed gravel trail runs along Rock Run Creek connecting to the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. It is one of two parks in Goshen that maintain restrooms open year-round. Woo hoo!

If I squint a bit I’d say this snow effigy got tired and just laid down for a nap.

Friday focus

An Amish farmer in LaGrange County uses a four-hitch team of horses to pull a motorized picker to harvest the corn crop, Friday, January 15, 2021.
Ah, the sweet smell of a hyacinth, a birthday gift for Marty’s sister, Doris.
There’ll be snow and/or rain by and by, in the meantime, we marvel at the changing sky.

A tip

My comments on the turmoil of the week past are on mute. I am happy with the good coverage available in the extensive and incisive media reporting. A change for the better is surely in the wings.

Now, if you can, tune in on Sunday to All Creatures Great and Small, a new mini-series adaptation of the James Herriot book set in the remote Yorkshire Dales in 1937. It’s a fitting tonic relief to pandemic blues. The second part airs Sunday night (January 17) on Masterpiece on PBS.


8 thoughts on “Shared Views #3

  1. ❤️ Uncle Orie’s tape recorder!

    I think I’m on a tape recorded sometime in the mid-60s saying “Yikes, the birdie!” as their budgie flew by me.



  2. Thanks, John. Wish we could have heard the Bender Quartet! How creative of Goshen Brewing to offer outdoor Igloo Dining, and Pad Thai no less!

    We do plan to watch the new mini series of All Creatures Great and Small. We get a new President next Wednesday!


    May the God of Wonder be with you, delighting you with the beauty of sunrise and the majesty of sunset, with the song of the bird and the fragrance of the flower.



    1. The Herriot series has me now reading some of his stories. Down to earth, the stuff of life in an era of the past that’s worth remembering.


  3. What an interesting collection of remembrances from your week, John! I began watching the James Herriot series last Sunday night just for the reason you mentioned. I remember that our dear, departed friend,, Kass Seitz, told me that she found the James Herriot books to be calming and a good escape for her when she and Ken heard heavy fighting in Beirut in the streets and beyond as they were in their apartment.


    1. Sure thing, Marcia. Memory serves us well. I’m now reading some of Herriot’s stories. Calm, engaging, surfacing a smile.


  4. Hi John, I, too am thankful for new technology these days.  I am glad to watch  the videos that Cassel church produces weekly, the Sunday morning services from Steinmann Mennonite church I can watch and other local services I watch.  I bought a new tablet that I can visit my family with on zoom.  Sandy Kuepfer is my computer friend.  I do not know what I would without her to show me how to operate it. Did you know Irene Bender (Mrs. Ervin Bender) is my next door neighbour?  She mentions Ervin and the Bender Quartette a lot.  She is 96, doing very well. Love, Laurene


  5. Way to go, Laurene! Now if only we had somebody close to help us restore the audio on our computer. I’ll keep working on it. What a small world it is. Good to know that Irene is your neighbour. Hope to see you later this year. Best! Our love, John


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