Sunday, January 28, 2018

Notes From My Knapsack 2-1-18

Notes From My Knapsack 2-1-18

Jeff Gill


Statues on a bridge, concluded



In my previous column in these pages, I had a daydream about the new bridge in downtown Newark. It was more of an evening-dream, with fog, and the then not-completed span had ten pillars, which now have lightposts on it.


But I wondered when I stopped there briefly at the light, and as I drove down Route 16 back to Granville, what would it look like if those pillars each had a statue on it. There's a very famous example in Prague, the Czech Republic, called the Charles Bridge – lined with great figures from that nation's past.


What ten historical personages might we put on such a landmark? Last time I explained in brief why I'd put Mary "Wakatomica" Harris, Christopher Gist, Rev. David Jones, Jonathan Chapman, Fr. Jean-Baptiste Lamy, and Edward Roye in bronze on those pillars. But that only makes six!


My friends will not be surprised to know that I'd pick for number 7. Israel Dille. He served as mayor of Newark in the 1830s, but his role in so many civic improvement projects, like the original Courthouse Square landscaping, the creation of Cedar Hill Cemetery, plus many more projects through his long and eventful life: and so much more.


8. Johnny Clem, a choice that in this case already has a statue, on the grounds of Sixth Street Park in front of the Buckingham House. The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga has earned all the honors we can give him, though.


9. Victoria C. Woodhull is better known now than she was a few decades ago, but she is still under-recognized in many ways. There's a state historic marker in her birthplace of Homer, Ohio due north of the village, but she only has two memorials in her honor – one near her final residence, placed in England's Tewkesbury Abbey (long story), and the other right here in Granville, a part of the Robbins Hunter Museum. A statue for her is long overdue.


For 10. Mary Hartwell Catherwood would be my pick. And in some ways, maybe the least well known of the bunch, which is too bad. Back around the turn of the century that was 1900, she was one of the best selling authors in the United States. Many of her early novels included settings that were Granville, sometimes under a pseudonym, but the outlines of our village are clear. Her romances of the Old Northwest, and of the French trapper and trader days of the upper Great Lakes, were immensely popular.


She was born due south of us in Luray, attended the Granville Female College on the site of today's Granville Inn (the coach-house section includes a bit of the old building), and taught in Jersey Township before ending up in Indianapolis, Chicago, and Mackinac Island, before dying at the relatively young age of 55.


Many of her short stories hold up rather well, and are easy to find online; an early success, "Rocky Fork" of 1883, is clearly set first in the northeast corner of Licking County along Rocky Fork, and the second half in a village called Sharon which is easily seen to be Granville in the days after the Civil War. If only to encourage a bit more reading of her works, I'd love to see a statue of her somewhere, but she would make good company for the other nine honorees I've proposed.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's probably on a list of about three living people who have read the majority of Catherwood's books! Feel free to join him, and then tell him your thoughts about those stories at, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.


Faith Works 2-3-18

Faith Works 2-3-18

Jeff Gill


Stuff from the dunno-maybe file


Every so often, as life and work get busy, a hard working columnist goes to his idea file and looks at the bits and scraps he hasn't used yet to create a entire piece out of.


And reads through the recent string of notes and asks: is there a full idea here worth developing?


Idea: Carey Nieuwhof talks about how there are pop-up restaurants and pop-up theatre performances going on in many corners of our culture – what about a pop-up church service?


Thought: while I get the general issue at hand with holding a "celebration of life" when someone has passed on, there still needs to be acknowledgement that the person has died. And it's hard. And some folks need to know it's okay to grieve. The happiness-industrial complex is hard at work telling everyone we need to be positive and upbeat and chipper, but sometimes you just need to be able to cry. Maybe a funeral isn't such a bad idea.


Quibble: when the music samples a piece that contains a riff from a theme with an echo from classical roots, isn't there something to be said about having a common base of knowledge about those older genres and forms?


Double quibble: are we really well served by having so darn many translations out on the market of the Holy Bible? I'm not arguing for going back to King James Version 1611 and nothing else, but 47 seems a bit much. I just don't know.


Inspiration: we talk so much about sunrise or sunset spiritual experiences, but have you ever watched the moon rise? It can be a stirring experience even in the middle of an afternoon.


Theological reflection: the whole gluten-free question when it comes to communion is both tough, and easy. I'm a Protestant, so the issues at hand aren't the same for me, but I understand the affirmation in liturgical churches for elements that are closer to what Jesus was talking about, with wheat ground and baked, grapes picked and crushed, ending up with the loaf and the cup. At the same time, why not a rice wafer or non-alcoholic juice? The discussion and understanding of the symbols can still be the same…


Idea: why not learn and grow from each other as churches, not by doing a pulpit exchange where the preacher alone goes from one place to visit the other, but a congregational exchange? The preacher and music team stay put, but the worshipers en masse rotate between two facilities. I think there's a great many things that might be learned that way, starting with everyone not having "their" seat in the worship center!


Thought: as someone who is deeply versed in the language and culture of events thousands of years ago, I am so over "Breaking News." I mean, seriously.


Meditation: listening to sports stars or recording artists thanking God or Jesus or however they choose to acknowledge their higher power when they've won, some of which sound more sincere than others, but how would I really know? The fact is they could just thanks agents and managers and family, but they chose to add or even lead with that word of thanks. I should just appreciate it more than I do, but I can't help hearing some special pleading there.


Further meditation, same theme: it would be very instructive to ask the losers, the second place finishers, the other nominees, to give speeches. How many of them would have something to say about the Lord then, and what would it sound like?


Inspiration: people who email me just to say something in a column spoke to them. Letting readers know how much I do appreciate it, even if my answers to emails tend to be very short. (Note: you can't do this as a column, it will sound like you're fishing for compliments.)


Column idea: extended essay on how and why and when we fish for compliments in everyday conversation, in life in general, at work, even with those we love.


Ongoing note: how are the social transformations of a cashless society, autonomous cars, delivery at home, and "streaming everything" going to impact corporate worship and congregational life?



Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he has a large backlog of half-baked ideas which he tries to not inflict on you until they're mostly-baked. Tell him your column ideas at or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.