It’s been one of the great privileges of my life to have relationships with people that often cause me to ask, “Who let me in the door?” Denis and Margie Haack are two such people. Dear souls who have so very well loved this world in which we all find ourselves.
Over their lifetimes, they have refused to escape from the sometimes ugliness of our world by becoming reactionary and condemning. Instead, they have taken the path of Christ – they have lived in this world, really lived in it, while also offering themselves to it with humility and grace. To be loved by them, as I have, has been one of the richest gifts I have ever received.
Here is a quote from Denis that reflects well their lives:
“At a time when an entire generation is asking whether there is, in the end, anyone truly there for them, the most radical expression of Christian faith is best demonstrated in 4 simple but profoundly revolutionary things: by listening, by being authentic, by offering hospitality, and by giving the gift of unhurried time.” – Denis Haack
Denis also has a blog, http://blog4critique.blogspot.com. Below is his invitation to read his posts:
“Good conversation and a leisurely meal, shared over fine dark ale, is a precious gift. We can’t sit and talk in our living room at Toad Hall, so this will have to do. I am a generalist, interested in almost everything, and my posts reflect that. I cherish your comments, for or against.”
You see what I’m talking about? Isn’t your soul refreshed just by reading these few words? For the ultimate endorsement, my children love the Haacks. Be impressed. Very impressed.
Denis and Margie have run a faith-based ministry for over 30 years called “Ransom Fellowship.” Their website can be found here: http://www.ransomfellowship.org. From their home (christened “Toad Hall”) in Rochester, MN they teach, write, review music, art, movies and books, and generally offer life and love to people who are ambivalent about the church, aren’t sure if there is even a God, and if there is, are pretty certain they don’t want anything to do with His followers.
Think of it this way: many Christians condemn the world with an ugly self-righteous. Bleh. My deepest apologies. The Haacks, in stark contrast, have given their lives to finding the glory of God in our world and in each of us and, with delight, sharing what they have discovered. They see beauty everywhere and invite us to have the eyes to see it as well.
Margie writes a journal called “Notes from Toad Hall” where she explores “what’s funny, what’s holy, what’s suffering in ordinary everyday life.” Whenever I receive it, it’s a cover to cover read for me. Think of it as a reminder that more is happening in God’s world than we can possibly imagine. There is always a bigger story being told.
Kurt Vonnegut said, “The purpose of literature is to make the reader feel less alone.” When I read Margie’s writing, I also feel doused in hope. “There,” it’s as if she’s saying to me, “that should hold you for a little while, Ed.” It does, but I still eagerly wait for the next issue to arrive.
Most recently, Margie has published a memoir of her childhood days growing up on the Canadian border.
From the Amazon.com description:
A three-room house in northern Minnesota with no running water can seem crowded with a mother, stepfather, five siblings, and a dog. It was swampland barely claimed from wilderness, where temperatures of 40 below could freeze a chicken house full of hens. It was the place Margie accidentally killed her favorite dog, was chased by a timber wolf, learned to love work and humor and hate sheep. Her roots were tangled with the death of a father who was killed before her birth, leaving her mother a widow at seventeen.
This was also where her spiritual awakening began. She yearned for home, for a father who loved her. Margie determined to win her step-father’s love and approval, but failed. Her stories of her childhood show how suffering ripened the landscape of her life. From her earliest memories at the age of four through dark nightmares, she became aware that God received her as a beloved daughter. She had been, all along, in The Exact Place she needed to be.
It’s an often painful, but beautifully written book that will make you smile, laugh and cry. I promise. You can purchase it from Ransom’s website, from Amazon.com, Hearts and Minds Books or from Kalos Press. Oh, and don’t miss the chapter about the horse in the house!
So why I am telling you all this about the Haacks and Ransom Fellowship? Here’s the deal:
When I die (or if at the rate I am going!), in lieu of flowers, I would like you to make a generous tax-deductible memorial donation to Ransom Fellowship.
Seriously. No flowers at my funeral. Instead, it would bring me great pleasure to know these dear people have all the money they need to continuing doing the good work they do. So be incredibly generous. Mortgage your house. Sell your car. Leave them something in your will. Do it for me. I promise to mention to Jesus how kind you were.
Heck, do it for the world. Every day the Haacks are helping to push back a corner of the darkness that so often envelopes us. I’m pretty cynical and jaded, so it’s no little thing that I vouch for them and give them my highest endorsement. They are the real deal.
So none of this craziness. Promise? And don’t rent the limos, either.
If you want to avoid the rush, you can give a gift in my name now by clicking here (with assurances that the date of my death will not be affected!). With your donation you will be automatically added to their mailing list for Notes from Toad Hall and CRITIQUE. These publications are also available at no cost to you by dropping them an email at:
Okay. Glad to have that settled and said. It has been on my heart. These people really matter to me.
P.S. Some health news – I still have cancer all over me, but I am holding my own! Apparently, we have it under fire and pinned down. All the tests and scans were unchanged (except for a slightly rising PSA). Just amazed and so glad to be here – still!