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Caesar of the American Jungle

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Rise of Resentniks David Brooks


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The Sexual Recession


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Eulogy for My Sister Lori VanderKlay Johnson

lori at school


The Bible is the original divine comedy composed of a thousand tragic stories.

There are almost no happy families in the Bible. The first son kills his brother. Judah, son of Israel decides the only thing wrong with murder is that there’s no money in it.

Mary, Martha and Lazarus seem to be the exception to the rule. We know nothing of their parents. What we do know is that all three of them loved each other deeply and Jesus loved them.

Jesus may be God’s own Son but even he got to pick his friends, and he picked them.

Mary, Martha and Lazarus were full of love for each other and others. When Jesus was in the neighborhood he stayed with them. Martha was the perfect hostess who always had room for Jesus and his dozen or so guests. Mary listened to his every word.

I’m avoiding now. I’m supposed to talk about Lori. It’s easier for me to talk about Martha, Mary and Lazarus than it is for me to talk about Ruth, Paul and Lori because my heart is broken and I am angry.

Ruth, Paul and Lori are not Martha, Mary and Lazarus. You know Lori’s hospitality, her generosity, her passionate nature, her with R. Paul’s immense ability to practice the Biblical virtue of hospitality.

Lori was part Martha and Mary both.

As her older brother by only 16 months I’ve known Lori all her life. She was exactly then who you knew her to be now, just less-so. As we age we become ourselves only more-so which means that young Lori was Lori, only less-so.

Lori was an interesting combination of goodness, stability and passion, but again in her childhood “only less so”. Mom noted she was the perfect child, unlike her two older siblings. I was more mischievous, and Ruth was more expressive and defiant, but Lori was good and dutiful.

She’s always been competitive so as the youngest sibling she was a cheat because, in the words of Annika, it helped her win.

She talked in her sleep tempting us to prompt her to create silly dream-filled conversations.

She was both bold and frank, by declining the invitation of one young suitor by saying she needed to go home and eat grapefruit. Food was a real love for her.

I imagine that almost everyone who knew her loved her. There was little to not love about her, even in her less-so years.

I’m still avoiding though, because I’m still heartbroken and angry.

As some of you already know this exceptionally happy family in the Bible had their happiness pierced by death. Lazarus took ill and the sisters sent word to Jesus to hurry back to heal his friend. The Gospel of John is quite clear that Jesus intentionally tarried so that he would NOT get there to heal to prevent the death and grief of his friend. He said this was for the sake of all his friends.

Just like Lori spurned the desires of that young suitor, Jesus keeps his own counsel and to be his friend is to live with that reality and trust him anyway.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, he was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

“deeply moved in spirit and troubled” in English is a too tame translation of the Greek. “deeply moved” is almost a euphemism for the severe anger of someone ready rebuke another. “troubled” covers the word meaning thrashing back and forth. Since Lori has died I too have been deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

Jesus was angry. He wasn’t angry at his Father. The Father didn’t give us death. We were offered the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the only one we were told NOT to eat from and you know which one we choose.

The Son of God who made the world then asked, “Where have you laid him?” just like earlier his father asked the first man and woman “where are you hiding?”

“Come and see, Lord,” his friends and mourners replied.

Then Jesus wept.

Again, I take issue with too timid translators. This is the angry grief-filled bawling used to describe his emotional response in the gospel of Luke Jerusalem’s recapitulation of that first tree-born rebellion and the death and destruction it will bring. This isn’t “could you please pass the tissues” weeping. This is sorrowful and angry, whole-body mourning.

Then the mourners said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” I know this question lingers for some of you.

Jesus of course commands Lazarus from the tomb, and Lazarus obediently arises. This miracle will ironically bring on Jesus’ own murder.

I am not anticipating a re-occurrence of this miracle today although I desperate want it.

As I said I am filled with anger and a broken heart. Lori should not be dead, and I am angry. I am angry that her husband, children, family and friends are robbed of her by death. I am angry that her students and colleagues are robbed of her by death. This is not the way it is supposed to be. There is nothing in this passage or in the Bible that says that anger isn’t what we should be feeling. Death is a thief that robs this world of even the precious happy exceptions to our tragic lives that we may briefly enjoy. It is well within our rights as image bearers of God to rebuke and denounce death as the thief that it is.

I did begin by saying, however, that the Bible is comedy full of tragedy. It is the original comedy in that it does have a happy ending. Even though I cannot see it now, I am promised that my dear sister who does not belong in the grave did not labor in vain. If I didn’t know that before I sure learned that at the visitation last night. She created community and touched so many lives.

She didn’t labor in vain as the Auntie who brought the candy box camping, or the friend who hosted the meal, or the teacher who passionately inspired her students to excellence, or the wife and mother who fervently loved her family. She labored all too briefly NOT in vain.

Today is her birthday and so we will have a strange birthday celebration. We can be angry that this thief death robbed us of something so happy, so precious, so beautiful. Something that brought so much joy. We can also be hopeful though, because Jesus is strong, and won’t leave his friends in the grave.

To the best of my knowledge she will not be called forth from her grave TODAY, but that day is coming! I believe in the resurrection her happinesses will follow her. I believe in the resurrection I will see her again, and that that day is coming soon.


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Genetic Heart Disease Northern Netherlands  Family lost multiple individuals



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Obituary Lori Beth Vander Klay Johnson


Lori Beth Johnson, a teacher at Lexington Christian Academy, passed away suddenly on Wednesday night, November 7, 2018.  She was 53 years old. Lori was born in Paterson, New Jersey. She was one of 3 children born to Barbara and Reverend Stanley VanderKlay.  At a very early age, Lori and her family’s life revolved around their faith. Her father was the pastor of Northside Community Chapel, and her mother working side by side him.  After graduating from Eastern Christian High School, Lori went off to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she earned a Degree in Education. She was the third generation of VanderKlays to attend the small Christian College.  And much later, her 3 children would make the fourth generation of Calvin attendees. Calvin’s motto is “My heart I offer to you Lord, promptly and sincerely” and something Lori believed and acted upon throughout her life. She earned her Master’s Degree in Technology in Education at Lesley University.  Lori found a home at Park Street Church in Boston to deepen and express her faith. She would meet her future husband, Paul, at a Wednesday night young adults ministry in 1990. They were married in 1992 at the Park Street Church and have remained faithful members ever since. Lori’s fingerprints have been all over the church and its ministries.  She sang in the choir, was a member of the Women’s Book Club, and along with her husband taught a class called “Honeymooners” for newly married couples. She had a large circle of church friends whom she loved to spend time with and vacation together. She believed in Christ’s teachings especially the most important commandments of “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind and “to love your neighbor as yourself”.  She lived her life by living out those teachings, treating others with love, and giving thanks to the Lord for the gifts He has given to her and her family.


Lori was a longtime teacher at the Lexington Christian Academy.  She first joined the English Department in 1986 and was a full-time teacher until 1995.  She started H.O.W. (Helping our World). After staying home for 12 years to raise her 3 children, she rejoined Lexington Christian Academy as a fulltime middle school language arts teacher.  She was currently the Department Head of the Middle School English and Language Arts Department. She was a spiritual and passionate teacher, who worked to open the minds to her students to not only English, literature, creative writing, but social justice within society.  She considered herself a lifelong learner. She regularly attended the bi-yearly “Festival of Faith and Writing” at Calvin College She was the recent recipient of the LCA’s Koop’s Chair Award.


Lori was a woman who was devoted to her family.  She was devoted daughter to her parents. She truly appreciated the strong foundation of faith and family they instilled in her.  She was a loving wife to her husband, Paul, for 26 years. Their marriage was one of love and devotion to each other. She was a proud, caring, and supportive mother to her 3 children.  She shared with her children the same values, beliefs, and faith that her parents had imparted in her. She was so proud to see them become young adults with strong principles and faith.  Her family will hold the memories of the family summer vacations spent camping at Pawtuckaway State Park in New Hampshire. They will remember her delicious culinary creations, her incredible homemade hot fudge, warmth and hospitality to family and friends, and her unselfish and unconditional love she showered upon them during their entire lives.  Her sudden passing is difficult to accept, but they are comforted to know her faith is complete as she meets her Savior, Christ Jesus.


Lori was the beloved wife of R. Paul Johnson. She was the loving mother of Lars, Alexandra & Annika Johnson all of Burlington.  She was the devoted daughter of Barbara A. (Osterman) VanderKlay of Whitinsville and the late Rev. Stanley J. VanderKlay.  She was the sister of Ruth Huizenga & her husband Tom of Thompson, CT and Rev. Paul VanderKlay & his wife Chandra of Sacramento, CA.  She was the daughter-in-law of Ruth Johnson of Hanson and the late P. Roger Johnson and sister-in-law of Charlotte Johnson of Plymouth.

Visiting hours will be held at the Edward V Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., BURLINGTON (Exit 34 off Rt. 128/95 Woburn side) on Sunday Nov. 11 from 2-6 p.m. Funeral Services will be held at Grace Chapel, 59 Worthen Rd, Lexington on Monday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m.  Relatives & friends respectfully invited to attend. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers memorials in Lori’s name may be made to Lexington Christian Academy, 48 Bartlett Ave., Lexington, MA 02420 For directions


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