Ethel Merman as Peninnah

I have Red Wings fans sleeping in my house.

The Rochester College A Cappella Chorus, from just outside Detroit, is performing here at Legacy this evening as part of their spring tour through the south and southwest. And we’re housing a couple of these students for two nights at Stanglin Manor. Jessica and Dawn. Two sweet, talented, ambitious young ladies who display good manners and make great grades. Their parents, I’m sure are very proud of them. But it occured to me as we pulled out of the church parking lot at just after 9:00 last night that they may be Red Wings fans. So I casually asked them if they, indeed, were.

They hesitated. They looked at each other. It was like they were waiting for the other to speak.

And that was enough.

I came to a screeching halt right there in the center lane of Mid-Cities Boulevard. Carrie-Anne was embarrassed. Our three girls were delighted. I needed to know. We weren’t going to drive another inch until we had resolved this most important of matters.

Yes, they are Red Wings fans. But they are gracious and, almost, apologetic. They’re both from right there in that greater Detroit / Indiana region. (Is Indiana in the Detroit region?) And they don’t put on their shoes until after they put on their “sacks.” So I figure they can’t help it. I don’t fault Steelers fans who grew up in Pennsylvania or hold grudges against Redskins fans from Virginia. They can’t help it.

But it was good to get it out in the open. We’ve acknowledged our differences. And we’re all OK with it. The Stars and Wings drop the puck in tonight’s critical Game Three at 7:00. The Rochester concert won’t be over until about 9:00. Thanks to DVR—next to air-conditioning, the second greatest invention in the history of the world—the puck drops at our place at around 9:30.

Go Stars.


Yes, if they made a movie about the first chapter of 1 Samuel, Ethel Merman would play Peninnah.


As I prepared last week for yesterday’s sermon on the story of Hannah, I couldn’t help but think about Ethel Merman’s character in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. She was incessant in her derision of her son-in-law, played by Milton Berle. Always screaming at him. Always complaining. Always telling him how lousy he was.


Peninnah treated Hannah the same way. Year after year, the Scriptures say. On and on it went. She provoked Hannah, the Bible says, until Hannah wept and even stopped eating.

Ethel Merman would make a great Peninnah. I’d cast Donna Reed as Hannah. And probably Jimmy Stewart as Elkanah. His heart was in the right place. But I see him as a bumbling kind of clumsy husband. In response to Hannah’s depression over being barren, Elkanah basically says, “Cheer up, babe! You’ve got ME! What else could you possibly want?”

Have you ever said something like that to your wife?



It’sAMadMadMadMadWorldAlmost a dozen of you have emailed me today regarding my references in yesterday’s sermon to Ethel Merman and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Thank you for your genuine, yet obviously twisted, appreciation.

A couple of you have also asked about the Mother’s Day article on the front of yesterday’s bulletin. You can get a copy of it by clicking here.



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