McGlynn Reunion

Building Community: iPhone and Church

Got back from the McGlynn family reunion two weeks ago. A few things stand out from those five days.

Video for Jim McGlynn

Jim is my wife’s cousin who is struggling with cancer. My daughter, Katy, suggested we make a video for Jim and his family. I set up a makeshift studio on the sofa next to a window. One at a time, fourteen people came to say a few words to Jim on video.

Lots of childhood memories. Appreciation of Jim’s storytelling and humor. Carol said, “You made us laugh, and you made us happy.” Colleen said what many were feeling, “It is going to be hard for everybody to lose you.” Luke was succinct, “I love you, man.”

I made a short video from these interviews and sent a link to Jim’s family. Jim’s wife, Lisa, said that after returning from a doctor’s appointment, the family looked at the video, “We laughed, shed a few tears, and most of all, felt loved.”


In rural Wisconsin there are lots of photo ops:

Lonely Tree

Abandoned Barn

Three Generations

Church – an atheist goes to church.

Shar McGlynn invited me to go to church with her. I responded, “I’d love to but Satan won’t let me.” She said, “Well you come to church and we’ll beat Satan out of you.” Lots of laughter.

Turns out I did go to church with Shar. A very nice experience. Shar introduced me all around as a “friend from California,” leaving out the atheist part. People couldn’t have been nicer. Good music and lots of conversation.

Shar lost her husband a few years ago. The church community is a huge support for her. I was impressed with the warmth everyone expressed for Shar. A strong sense of community.

America’s Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, has declared loneliness a public health catastrophe. The Atlantic just ran articles by Hilary Clinton and David Brooks citing loneliness as a condition that can lead to political violence. Building community is one way to reverse this damage to our country.

There are lots of ways to build community…bowling clubs, book clubs, birdwatching, political action groups…whatever. But on this trip, I saw a great community in Shar’s church, and how the McGlynn family took time to make a video for their ailing cousin.

6 thoughts on “McGlynn Reunion

  1. Susan Page says:

    Indeed, mainstream Protestant churches ARE one of the remaining institutions that create community. And for most of the generally liberal congregations, no one really cares what you believe or don’t believe. People join these churches to engage in social justice activities, to support each other, especially in times of personal crisis, and to be part of a caring community that comes together on a regular basis. I agree it is too bad that they are based on archaic, counterproductive ideas and that they have an appalling history. I live in Mexico where the Catholic theology is horrid, all based on identifying with the suffering of Christ. But families and communities come together in heartwarming unity and in a spirit of celebration. They value family and fiestas above all else. It gives them a sense of identity, a purpose and direction, community, and belonging. I can’t support the theology, but one can’t see them throwing themselves into festivals with so much passion and enthusiasm and not marvel at their rootedness in their family and community.

  2. Lil Schaller says:

    You’re so lucky to be part of Mary’s large family unit. Yes, births, illness, deaths, and everything in between, but must be heartwarming to have so many wonderful family members! Love to you guys!

  3. Patricia Green says:

    How nice that a large family can be so open about the terminal illness of one of its members and celebrate his presence while he is still alive and able to enjoy it. Great gift for them all.

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