Monday, November 27, 2017

Provisions and Prosperity

     A few years ago an acquaintance and I had an exchange discussing the sixth chapter of Matthew's Gospel.  One of the comments was
I think the treasures we have as Christians are laid up in heaven, as Jesus said. From a scriptural standpoint, "the rain shall fall on the just and on the unjust." This says to me that God's riches are not apportioned to the righteous only, but mankind shares in them. As for the portion we are to receive, Jesus said God knows our needs even before we ask. Our needs will be supplied. As for our "wants," perhaps we need to get a rein on that horse. Tough to do though; my spouse tells me "If I want it, then I need it." Well, that may work on me, but I don't believe we deal with our Heavenly Father in that way.

     This Sunday last the pastor's message was based on the same scripture.  Link to sermon notes:

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Oink, Splat, Glug

All three of the synoptic gospels relate the encounter of Jesus with the demon-possessed man of Gadara.

Two thousand piggies
ran headlong into the sea.
A fitting bit of justice for the profiteers, purveyors of forbidden flesh.
While it likely Jewish swineherds would not consume the meat
They were willing to profit on its sale to the Romans who thought it good to eat.
There are many little puzzles in this account of the demons and the Master
But they are all solved if one takes the time to think through it carefully for
Haste often leads to disaster.

We will deal with only one facet of the story this morning, the question of who is on the right course and who on the wrong.  There exists a fallacy  in logic named for this situation: the Gadarene swine fallacy.

One must not fallaciously conclude that because a group is in formation it is necessarily on course.  Neither may we assume that because one is out of formation he is also off course.  Though we may not assume he is on course, either.

To the instance at hand.  The man possessed, living alone in the tombs, seeing Jesus step ashore, ran to worship him.  He was alone, not in formation, but on course.  The swine, all 2000 of them, into which the dispossessed demons took up residence, in formation ran over a steep declivity, plunged into the sea, and expired.  They may have been on course, but if so, they were on course to destruction.

The rest of the explication is complicated,

Friday, November 24, 2017


May 1, 1926 - November 24, 1998

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Blessing of Enough

It is time once again to prep the turkey and dressing. I have been advised that this bird is much too scrawny to feed the gang, so I kept him on the premises in an attempt to fatten him up for the next Thanksgiving. Clearly, my efforts have failed.  Again.  (He shows up here on an annual basis, just to tease me, I guess.)

This is one smart old bird. He has figured out that by eating just enough for sustenance and the daily chore of obtaining enough provender against the next day, he has a much better chance of survival.  As, I might add, would we all.

He has so frustrated me that I am tempted to wring his scrawny neck purely as the vengeful treatment he so richly deserves. But I won't; he's become sort of a pet around here.  May I have another slice of that "tofurkey" please?

I wish you enough. Be ye thankful.

Word of the day:  tofurkey, which should never have been coined and for which there never should have been a reason for the coinage.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lifted Paragraph Project-- Five

While entertaining myself by reading some of my old posts, a few paragraphs here and there jumped out and spoke to me.  Bragging.  I like some of these and thought to mention the ones I particularly enjoy.

"Well, Will, I always called him Will, was good to us, handed me his paycheck every week, and never missed a day’s work.  But Will had a wild hair.  I knew this, but he remained steady, always headed to work in the morning, came home at night, turned over the paycheck.  The first two girls graduated high school, got married.  The third girl and Will, Jr graduated together since they were Irish twins less than a year apart and in the same class.  Commencement ceremony over, party at our house to celebrate.  Their Daddy came in, hugged each one of them, told them he loves them dearly.  Turned to me and said, 'Thank you, Ma’am.  You did good, gave me four wonderful children.'  And he walked out the door, took nothing but the clothes he wore, and I’ve not seen him nor heard from him to this day."

Lifted from this story.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Backyard Mechanic #T

I saw the motto and knew instantly what was being advertised-- brand name and all. long has it been since you saw an ad for piston rings?  Everyone, well, nearly everyone, owns some but no on gives them a second thought.  That is unless he is a combustion engine mechanic by profession.
Back in the. . .  Well, you know, when I was a lad it was not uncommon for the family vehicle to develop a bad habit of belching smoke due to worn piston rings, among possibly other causes.  It was also not uncommon for Pops, or Daddy by whatever moniker he was known in the household to purchase a set of piston rings and a few other things, pull the car under the shade of the elm, and proceed to correct the problem.

This just isn't done anymore.  Isn't necessary, and scarce is the man who has the know-how to accomplish the task.  We resolve our automotive issues in different ways these days.  But here is a brief story, true story, a memory from my kidhood, circa 1945.  Faithful reader Vee will verify or correct the date.

Little sister having been stricken ill was hospitalized and the appendix was removed.  Daddy had a real concern regarding payment of the accompanying medical bills.  I think I remember numbers, but in the interest of correctness in reporting I shall tell the story without naming dollar amounts.

Dad had access to a small amount of cash but not enough to meet the obligation.  A new neighbor recently moved into town had a 1934 Ford sedan he wished to sell.  But the little V-8 engine was afflicted with the problem cited above, along with other foibles.  Father bought the car, pulled it into a garage on the back alley, and disassembled the engine, laying the parts carefully on the workbench.  We were cautioned, nay warned, that to touch, move, knock over, or in any other manner disturb this arrangement was to put our very lives in peril.  Kidding.  Dad did not threaten our lives, but he made it clear that we might wish we were dead if we messed up his work.

He bought piston rings, some bearings, and whatever else he found he needed, cleaned the old engine, rebuilt it and reassembled it.  He sold the car for enough money to recover his investment and pay off the medical bills.

Hastings had nothing on my father who was also "tough but gentle."

Monday, November 13, 2017

Culture in Perfect

Saturday for the second night in a row BBBH and vanilla were out and about.  Started the evening
with an AYCE catfish dinner followed by the theatah.

Our local players, Tipton Community Theater, presented "It's a Wonderful Life."  Who among us did not think "Jimmy Stewart" when we read that title?  Having seen the movie (who hasn't?) I was curious as to just how this tale would be presented on stage.  Not to worry.

The actors and prop managers transported us smoothly and quickly from a humdrum mid-America auditorium to Bedford Falls and we found ourselves absorbed in the affairs and travails of George Bailey and a small New England town.

To add to the pleasure of revisiting the story was the fact that the players on stage were our friends and neighbors some of whom surprised us with their thespian abilities and all of whom acquitted themselves with aplomb, panache, even.

Topped off the evening in the rotunda visiting, congratulating, and high-fiving the actors.

Anticlimax:  Into the FORD and home to FALL into BED.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Leadership Seminar

“If you think you’re leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.” ~ Afghan proverb

Au contraire.  A true leader must have courage-- and be willing to walk alone.
Leadership is a risky business.

"Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

This was not written by a leader, either.  Leaders don't push.  There are plenty of people in positions of power who are not leaders; they are bulldozers.

Bulldozers are pretty good at tearing things down and leveling stuff out, but they aren't much at constructing.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 11

Armistice declared on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the Year of Our Lord, 1918 to effect the cessation of hostilities in the "war to end all wars". (How has that worked out?)

Anyway, the war, now known as WWI, officially ended the following June upon the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

In 1919, November 11 was declared by President Wilson to be "Armistice Day". It was made a legal holiday by an Act of Congress in 1938. In 1954, the day was declared by an Act of Congress and a Proclamation by President Eisenhower to be "Veterans Day" in honor of all who served in the Armed Forces, since the 'war to end all wars' had failed miserably to accomplish the goal of ending all wars.

The Uniform Holiday Act of 1968 attempted to dump Veterans Day into the "Monday" federal holiday program, and Veterans Day was celebrated on October 25, 1971. It quickly became apparent that the American people would not stand still for this confusing slight to a much respected and honored holiday. Thus, in 1975, President Ford signed an Act of Congress into law which returned the celebration of our Service People to November 11, and since 1978 it has been so observed.

To all who served our country in the Armed Forces, thank you, thank you. Were it not for your sacrifices, we would be enslaved and impoverished. You stood up for us when we needed you.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Hopping to the Hoppers

Yesterday afternoon as I was computering I had a music channel on in the background.  The Hoppers came on, singing "Shoutin' Time in Heaven."  I enjoy Southern Gospel and had heard recordings of the Hoppers but had never seen them in concert.  "I wonder," thought I, "if they are going to be anywhere in our bailiwick anytime soon?"  So I googled them, found their website and checked their tour schedule.

What?  They will be in Tippecanoe, Indiana at 7:00 p.m. November 9, 2017.  Wait!  This is November 9, it is already 3:30 and BBBH is "out and about" which is to say I'd no idea when she would be home.  She came in about 4:15 with a carload of groceries.  As I was transferring the sacks from the car to the kitchen I casually asked, "Would you like to go hear the Hoppers tonight?"  Her response was "Who are the Hoppers and where are they playing?"

"The Hoppers are a Southern Gospel group that I enjoy a lot.  I know that is not your favorite genre, but I like it.  They are singing in Tippecanoe tonight."

"How far away is this Tippecanoe?"

I told her about seventy-five miles straight up 31, take about an hour and a half.

She glanced at the clock, then she said, "You'd have to drive home 75 miles after."  She handed me a can of beans.  "Here, add these to the chili left over from yesterday and heat it."

I did as I was bid still not having a "yes" or a "no."

As we were eating the chili I told her we would have to leave by 5:20.

"Okay.  Anytime you get out of your chair and want to do something. . . "

Thus we pulled the car out of the garage at 5:15 and by 6:50 we had found seats in a very crowded auditorium.  The drive was smooth notwithstanding that 31 is an extremely busy corridor and this at rush hour to boot.

The group started in the mid-fifties as "The Hopper Brothers and Connie."  Today the group is composed of Claude and Connie Hopper, two of their sons, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter.  Connie and Claude have some mileage on them, take that however you like.  They put on a wonderful two-hour show!  If you check their schedule on their website you will see that the lifestyle is beyond crazy.  For example, this week Tippecanoe, Indiana November 9, Grove City, Ohio November 10, Houston, Texas November 12, Georgia on the 16th, back to Ohio on the 17th, West Virginia on the 19th.  And they do this by bus. [Gasp]

We were safely home by 10:25 and I was ensconced in my chair with cuppa coffee by 10:30.  Life's good.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Collector or Hoarder?

I have a friend who is a collector of certain artsy items.  These are neither cheap nor tacky, yet he has hundreds of them and will buy more as he finds them.  They have not driven him from his home, for while he has many dozens of them tastefully displayed throughout the house, the vast majority of them are neatly stored in boxes in the garage and attic.  He is a collector, a consumer of fine art.  

I have known a number of people, both men and women, who are hoarders.  These people amass stuff.  Once they acquire an item they cannot rid themselves of it.  These things may have value, they may be useless, but the clutter they create builds to the point that the occupant of the house has mere aisles eighteen inches wide between piles of junk, a path from a kitchen, a bathroom, one to a bedroom.  Papers, books, magazines stacked four feet high, unimaginable and unusable trash everywhere.  If there were a treasure in the lot, the heirs will never find it, for they will simply have the stuff shoveled into dumpsters when the owner dies.  Hoarder.

Oh, by the way.  Neither the stuff of the hoarder nor the collector has any eternal value.  Jesus said, 

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.  --Matthew 6:19,20

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I Might Have Said

Setting:  A decent restaurant, surrounded by 30 friends, eating good food and engaging in scintillating conversation.

Climax:  BBBH is placing a few morsels in the styrofoam take-home box.

Listen in.

BBBH:  Have to take a goodie home to my doggie.

J (across the table):  People food is not good for dogs.

vanilla (either because he knows everything, or because he rushes to his wife's defense): Dogs are omnivores.  Their digestive systems will handle just about anything ours will handle.  Cats, on the other hand (now he is in the TMI mode) are carnivores and their systems are designed to handle only meats.

J:  I have a friend in Florida who has a beautiful retriever that was not well.  She took the dog to the vet who told her that she should never under any circumstances allow the dog to have people food because it is not good for them.

vanilla:  (Oh, really?  Most people eat people-food that is not good for them, either.  Consider that chocolate cake there on your plate, for instance.)

 [The above is in parentheses because I did not say that, because, in fact, I only thought of it twelve hours later when I should have been sound asleep.  Dang, why does that happen to me?]

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Laborer is Worthy of His Hire

But He Doesn't Have to Have a Plaque.

A few months ago I related a dream I had regarding my "recognition" party at the time of my retirement.  In tiny print I left a footnote indicating that I might someday relate the true story of my recognition by my employer.  Here goes.

I retired in the summer of 1990 following 31 years in public education, 21 of them for the school system from which I retired.  To say the parting was sweet sorrow would miss the mark.  It was sweet to the extent that both the superintendent for whom I worked and I were tickled that our relationship was over, so neither of us was sorrowful.

One year later the superintendent's tenure was ended.  He moved on and I've heard nothing of him since. Our corporation installed a new superintendent.  A couple of months into her tenure she called me on the phone and asked me if I could attend an upcoming school board meeting.


She explained that when she moved into the office she found in her bottom desk drawer a plaque recognizing my years of service, awarded to me by the Board of Education.  The board members, she said, were abashed when they learned of the fate of the token they had ordered for me.

So they presented the thing to me some fifteen months after my service was concluded.

And this story is at once funny, pathetic, laughable, and tear-worthy.  But if you choose tears, don't shed them for me, for in no way am I to be pitied.  And I would never have missed the thing had I never seen it.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;.  Weep, and you weep alone.  --Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Watchman, what of the night?

The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: (from Isaiah 21:11,12 KJV) 
We make no attempt in this little essay to interpret Isaiah's prophecy.  Rather we use this intro to evoke the image of the watchman set upon the watchtower.  His observations will alert the city to any impending danger.  Be alerted.

The Parable

The great city is under siege.  The enemy has surrounded it and encamped beneath its walls, In the darkest hour before the dawn, the cry, "Watchman what of the night?"

"The fires of the enemy before his tents are many, yea, as the stars of the sky.  He is working frantically even in the night hours to assemble his siege engines, to amass stones.  Ladders are being brought before the walls.  Verily, he goes without rest."

The sky lightens ever so little, yet the watchman can now see into the distance, a league beyond the fires of the enemy.  "Watchman what of the night?"

"The morning is coming!  There is,  yes!  There is approaching in the distance a mighty host!  The light breaks!  It is clear.  The King is coming!  The King is coming!  We have nothing now to fear for our redemption is near!"

Keep the Faith

Be of good courage, for the King is coming.  The morning comes, and also the night, for the enemy shall be plunged into everlasting darkness. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Please Fix This Mess

Tomorrow night you need to "fall back."  Yes, that nonsense arrives again.  This is my twice-annually friendly reminder that you need to mess with all the clocks.  Since we suffer from double daylight time (being geographically in the wrong sun-time zone) I wrote this little piece several years ago.  I would not mind the DST nonsense nearly so much if we were properly situated in the scheme of temporal things.

Again, my suggestion.  Perhaps someone will move it forward.  But I doubt it.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November 1

60 Days Until 2018.