It is hard to get good advice these days. If you don’t believe me, just ask President Donald Trump about several of his attorneys. I won’t mention any names and this is not a political statement, but he has got some doozies as personal attorneys representing him.

At least, judging from their records and from their behavior. They are skilled at making obscene threats, employing profanity, losing big cases and generally displaying boorish behavior. Now, I know lots of lawyers and I have never met lawyers like this. The lawyers I have known are men and women of high character and firm morals. If you need someone to give good advice and especially to represent you, the choice of that person is seriously important.

Three pastors, each from a different Christian tradition, were having a conversation about prayer. They eventually came to the question of whether there is a specific posture one should assume when praying to God. One said, “I find that I like to sit quietly, close my eyes and fold my hands when I pray.”

The second minister said, “I prefer to lie down on the floor, face down and arms spread when I pray.”

“I prefer to kneel, bow my head and read from my prayerbook,” said the third.

In an adjoining room an electrician was working. He was also overhearing the clergy conversation. The pastors overheard him say, “The best posture for praying I ever had was when I was 50 feet in the air, hanging upside-down on a wire from an electric power pole.”

The patriotic season is a weird time. On the one hand there are the Memorial Day and Fourth of July festivities. Sports and recreational activities abound. Baseball, NASCAR, beaches, mountains and lakes beckon. Airplane flyovers, fireworks and road rage! 

Yep, you read that correctly — road rage. CNN recently reported that we need to be careful on the highways during July and August because this is the time when road rage is at its highest pitch each year. Let’s think about this.

“I see trees of green, red roses too

I see them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself what a wonderful world ...”

I can hear in my imagination the raspy, melodic voice of “Satchmo” Louis Armstrong singing that song and stirring my heart and soul. But from another room in our house I overhear the cable news network broadcasting the news of the day and I say to myself, “What a discouraging world!” Then I get hold of myself, give myself a swift kick in the seat of my emotional pants, and remind my brain that we can do something about this funk we are in.

Sometimes little facts make me laugh. Former Vice President Richard Cheney flunked out of Yale University. George W. Bush reportedly said, “So now we know — if you graduate from Yale, you get to president. If you drop out, you get to be vice president.” President Bush laughed. I did, too. I don’t know about Mr. Cheney.

Charles Darwin was an average student. He gave up on studying medicine in order to study for the ministry. Then his interest in nature led him to discover his calling. I don’t know why, but that strikes me as funny.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 13:19

Politicians can be hard to digest

Well folks, it is hot as blazes around here these days. I’m wilting faster than the kudzu. You can’t believe everything you hear but I heard a rumor that the devil is planning to cancel his North Carolina summer vacation this year and stay in hell in order to beat the heat.

One reason the climate is so hot is the superheated partisan politics that refuses to cool down. This is historically true, of course. I’ve been thinking about the origins of modern political partisanship and about how little politics has changed through the years. Consider this:

Tuesday, 06 June 2017 17:22

Got backbone? Grow a funny bone

“The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it.”

That comment about leadership was made by one who should know about leadership. He was the great American Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He became the 34th President of the United States. His theory about leadership being instinctive — something a person possesses from birth — seems obvious in some people. How often have we heard, “He or she is a natural-born leader.” Or, “He is not cut out to be a leader.”

I am a very fortunate fellow. I have grown to a ripe age living among people who are good thinkers. They are wise people, too. When I was a beginning pastor in a small parish in eastern Tennessee, one of my parishioners asked me a question meant to test me on my Bible knowledge. I had been warned about him. My predecessor as the church’s pastor was so intimidated by this church elder that he kept a Bible dictionary in the pulpit in case he was ever challenged on a fine point of theology.

Eventually I, the new, young pastor was interrupted one morning early in my sermon with the following query: “Preacher, where does it say in the Bible that every tub must rest on its own bottom?”

A few days ago a dear aunt of mine died in Corryton, Tenn. Her name was Mary Lou Harless. She died where she lived for 87 years. It is the place where she was born. It is the farm her ancestor bought when he came to settle down at the end of the War of 1812. She loved this place and we who loved her loved it, too.

I knew my aunt had a real name but I always knew her as “Pug.” She was the high school sweetheart who married my uncle, R.C. Harless. He became a Baptist minister and she became, in her era, the quintessential Baptist minister’s wife. She was a total partner in ministry with him. Visiting the sick, taking flowers to cheer the lonely, cooking to strengthen the spirits. Pug and R.C. were rescuers. I can only imagine how often they would have sung through their years of ministry, an old song: “Rescue the Perishing, Care for the Dying.”

The recent occasion of Mother’s Day has stirred my mind, and I’m guessing yours, too. The commandment that we honor our fathers and mothers has a strong pull on our hearts.

Even though we know that our parents are sometimes flawed in their ability to be perfect parents, this is because they, like we children, are perfectly human. God knows this and loves us anyway. We know it, too, and therefore we celebrate Mother’s and Father’s days.

Well, we had a mild winter down in these parts. Now it’s May and temperatures are in the 80s. The warming trend is a reminder that this is a good time to warm up some old jokes.

I love old jokes. This is partly because I can remember them. My beloved Judy gets annoyed at stale old stories and leaves the room when my ministerial pals and I start telling old tales. I think I’m approaching the time when the only thing I’ll be able to remember are old jokes.

Here’s one: A high school English teacher was teaching the class about palindromes, which are words or phrases that are the same when read forward or backward. The teacher asked for an example and expected to hear “Madam I’m Adam.” However, the sharpest student quipped, “Wow.”