Solving the World’s Problems before 7 A.M.

My father would often say that he solved the world’s problems before 7 a.m. each weekday.  However, he didn’t do it alone.  An early riser, he would get up at 5 a.m., go exercise, and then afterward, meet a group of local men for breakfast at Brown’s Snappy Service in my hometown.  It was there that he solved the world’s problems.  They probably solved all the local problems as well.










Soon after moving to Massachusetts I found the equivalent to Brown’s Snappy Service in my neighborhood.  It is the Depot Diner.  If you want to see the world’s problems being solved, just show up any weekday morning.  On Thursdays my neighbor is there with retired teacher-friends working through the issues.  On Wednesdays a group of faculty men from my college are mediating the world’s conflicts (and probably institutional ones as well).  I now have a regularly scheduled session every other Friday.

Depot Diner







When I lived in Grand Rapids, my young daughters kept me from solving the world’s problems before 7 a.m.  I did get in the pattern of doing it after church with my mother, my younger daughter, and older members of my congregation at the equivalent location–New Beginnings.  As was typical of Dutch Calvinists, many theological problems and doctrines were solved at the same time.  A friend told me that this is the place that she practiced spelling with her daughter every week–I would guess it was Friday, very early, because Friday seems to be the day for spelling tests across the world.

New Beginnings






My daughter and I were trying to think about whether there was a cafe in Pella, Iowa where we lived.  We struggled to think of one.  She cynically said that no one went out because it was so family oriented that everyone had breakfast at home together.  After much thought I recalled that there was the Central Park Cafe.  I can’t remember going there.

Central Park CafeThe world is better off for having this on-going problem-solving process.  Solving the world’s problems is like the movie Ground Hog Day. It has to be done over and over again, in the many small cafe’s around the world.  However, I do believe that the world would be better off if we did not have spelling tests each Friday morning.

Forgotten Addresses and Phone Numbers

I am bothered by the fact that I cannot remember all my addresses and phone numbers.  Is this a case of losing my memory, of being too mobile, or of simply living too long?

I once lived with some friends in an apartment for a year.  While we lived there, we would get phone calls for “Fred Johnson” who we did not know–this became something of a joke amongst us, especially because we would get repeat and insistent callers.  We had to explain that in fact this was Fred’s published phone number but he was not there.  (We had looked in the printed phone book and saw that our number was under his name.)  At the end of the year, I left for Louisiana, only to return after 15 months.  By the time I returned, these friends had moved into a house in another part of St. Paul where I joined them.  The first phone call I got at that house was for “Fred Johnson.”  I was totally confused.  Where was I?  How had “Fred Johnson’s” number now become our new number at a new location, after my being gone for 15 months?  I was in time warp.

Once in awhile I try to recall all the places I have lived in order.  I don’t remember phone numbers or exact addresses at all.  But just being able to visualize and list the places in order makes me feel more secure.  I think it has to do with the fear that I might return from a trip abroad and the immigration officer at the airport may ask me for this list, and I won’t be able to recite it. So here it is:

#1 Iowa parsonage; a second Iowa parsonage; a North Carolina apartment ; house in MN; house in town in llinois; another house in another town in Illinois; college dormitory in Missouri (2 different dorms); manor house in England; dormitory in MN; house in MN;  apartment in MN; apartment in LA; house in MN; apartment in MN;  another apartment in MN;  apartment on Seminary campus; house in IA–what street?; duplex in same town in IA near West Market Park; house in IA; house in MI (with 3 times abroad); apartment in MA; house in MA.

I have not had callers looking for “Fred Johnson” since moving out of that house in St. Paul.  And I am forever thankful that you can keep your cell phone numbers forever.