Linda Van Horn, RIP
The Beamers have lost one of our own, Rev. Linda Jane Van Horn, 53, this past week, due to a long-term autoimmune disease (lupus, for want of a better name) and its complications. I knew Linda for 35 years, ever since we met as math majors in college.
Her lifepath took her to Duke divinity school and then to the ministry as a member of the Indiana conference of the United Methodist church. She was the 4th woman ordained in the conference and served as a pastor for several parishes until her illness became disabling and shifted her to administrative duties while stationed in South Bend. She was involved in AIDS ministry long before it was fashionable (as I liked to tell her).
Linda joined the Beamers “under duress”, as a penance for having dropped out of contact with me and then surreptitiously moving back home to Lyndhurst, NJ. (Her Indiana friends laughed at the thought of Linda being “punished” by being made to read science fiction and talk about it.) She started attending meetings in 2009 and continued with regular attendance (aside from her annual Florida trip in February/March) until her illness forced her into a 3-month hospitalization that ended with her death. She also was kind enough to take the meeting notes during my occasional absences and was published twice on our blog, once covering Galileo’s Dream and once for Clark Ashton Smith.
Linda was most fond of Kage Baker, another sf/f person who left us too soon. Getting her an Advanced Readers Copy of The Best of Kage Baker won me serious points with Linda. She also liked Philip Jose Farmer, a writer who united a strong “pulp” sensibility with contemporary literary skills and attitudes (e.g., a bit more mature and “adult” than the old euphemized stories of the original pulps). She had a keen interest in matters of religion and spirituality, too, in her reading, and often examined worldbuilding in novels through the lens of beliefs and ecclesiastical matters. Which is probably not a surprise for a person whose Master’s thesis was an examination of the latter chapters of the Book of Daniel that include the “Bel and the Dragon” episode.
Linda enjoyed visual works like comics, TV, and film genre offerings, too, being a devoted fan of Star Trek (her Indiana friends marvel still about her Xmas tree decorated entirely in Trek-abilia) and Doctor Who. One of her last regrets was entering the hospital the day before the Doctor Who season-final episodes started to air in March.
Older movies of any genre (though perhaps musicals most of all) were also her passion, and nothing beat seeing Singing in the Rain on the “big screen” during its theatrical re-release last year (newly digitized and with commentary and interview of Debbie Reynolds), especially when she noticed that a key plot point in the movie happens on March 24 (her birthday).
And now, of course, with her passing, I am hoist by my own petard, as I must read everything twice, once for myself and once for Linda, to get her perspective on things since I cannot get her opinions directly. Be careful for what you pray, she would probably tell me. I will miss her very, very much.