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Issue 19


A Mighty Fortress

On the liturgy wars.


My dad built a house among the pines and birch of the Minnesota Northwoods. He planted white pine, balsam fir, white spruce, red pine, and eastern white cedar around the yard, trees that would grow with my brother and me, and overtake us. We were still small in those years, not big enough to traipse across the wide lawn by ourselves into the woods to the pond, where the beavers had built their own home. I would walk down the hill with my mother to my grandpa’s farm, and I played near the corn crib while my mom sold strawberries from the packing barn to folks who had come out to pick berries in the fields. Ayrshire cattle, mottled red and white, wandered the pastures on the perimeter of the crop fields. Each morning and evening my grandpa was still going out to the dairy barn to milk Bonnie, the last dairy cow.

A fifteen-minute drive on dusty roads past the industrial farm fields—sunflowers for oil, potatoes for factory fries, corn and soybeans for everything else—was our Baptist church. Every Sunday we’d sit on orange-carpeted pews and sing from our brown hymn books: “There Is Power in the Blood,” “A Mighty Fortress,” “Immortal, Invisible,” “Be Thou My Vision.” Sometimes the choir, robed in dark blue, would sing during the offertory. I remember the voices of the congregation rising up in one powerful voice, often in harmony. My grandmother often accompanied at the organ or piano.

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About the author

Tessa Carman

Tessa Carman is a contributor to Fare Foreward, Mere Orthodoxy, and Ekstasis. 

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