Category Archives: web design

Want books showing wise love and wonder?!

Ever since our honeymoon, spent surrounded by forested hills in northern Pennsylvania, back a two-mile lane, Karen and I have continually had a book we’re reading aloud to each other. At first we took turns reading, but soon settled into a pattern of me reading while Karen cross-stitched or quilted or, for a period in our life, nursed a baby or two. The first books that we read were by George MacDonald, a Scottish author writing in the last half of the 1800’s with an uncommonly robust imagination and singular commitment to live out the vision he saw in the Gospels. In fact, the first two dozen books that we read were all by MacDonald.

How could we not tire of a continual diet of only one author?!

One reason is that MacDonald wrote in diverse genres. So sometimes we were reading the beloved fantasies and fairy tales which he created for children and for which he received much critical acclaim—few writers can evoke wonder as vividly as MacDonald. And sometimes we were reading realistic novels or mysteries written for adults, giving rich glimpses into life in the rugged Scottish highlands or the cities of Victorian England.

The main reason we didn’t tire (don’t tire!) of MacDonald is that few writers can make goodness so lively or create characters of such wisdom and spiritual insight. Many authors find it easy to make evil full-bodied and highly textured. But for MacDonald, the goodness in his characters is what is multi-dimensional and compelling! Out of MacDonald’s own personal life and faith come characters who again and again draw readers like Karen and I by their calm, wise presence and great-hearted vision of God.

Electronic forms of MacDonald’s works (which are public domain) have recently become freely available on the internet. That gives opportunity to read the original unabridged versions of the books! These books often have numerous scanning errors and clumsy formatting. So one of my hobbies during the last couple years has been to give our favorites additional proof-reading and make their formatting more aesthetic and friendly.

I also find joy in sharing them with others! I have a webpage with seven of them available as ebooks in two common formats. Come visit interactingwithjesus.org/macdonald!

My web design hobby

For 16 years I’ve had fun building my own website on the internet. Initially it was on AOL with the awkward handle of HKARDDM (Harold-Karen-April-Rachel-Daniel-Darrel-Miller). Then I started the site InteractingwithJesus.org.

Maintaining my site quickly became a favorite hobby: not only did it involve the challenge of mastering HTML code to (try to!) create something aesthetically-pleasing and user-friendly, but also it gave the pleasure of sharing with others some of the profound (!) pieces I had collected or written over the years.

One of those collections I named TrueHumor with sections like “Humor from real life” (truth is stranger than fiction sometimes) and “Profound poems” (wise rhymes / for these times).

Another collection I named GayMatter. In 1996 I was asked by NY Mennonite Conference to lead a workshop on homosexuality and the church. And from 1997 through 2005 I was on the denominational boards and had a front-row seat on how the “h‑issue” was rocking the church, and had many email conversations (eg. MennoLink) trying to do my small part in keeping the church from being ripped apart over the issue or abandoning its biblical moorings. I polished some of the material and put it on the web in hopes of continuing the conversation, knowing that unless the church talks together we will grow apart.

Last weekend I redesigned how the site looks and updated that collection for the first time in several years. I had extra time since Karen was away and I didn’t have to preach!

But the main reason I worked on it is that the June 24 issue of Mennonite World Review will include an article by me that tries to go to the heart of the same-sex matter in a simple, irenic way and show that the traditional approach to homosexuality flows from values that are essential for our church to guard. My first draft had 6200 words–and each word was weighty and succinct! Then I reduced it to 1850 words, and then to 1000 words.

I worked on the GayMatter site not only to make space for that article after it is published but also to tidy up the house in case there are any guests!