You know me ... sometimes I can’t resist my inner imp. He just jumps up and takes over for a little mischievousness. Recently, for example, my computer did something that it does regularly. It disagreed with something I was saying and changed it. I typed in the phrase “wonderful sign,” and it changed the words to “wonderful sin.” I tried again and it repeated its effort to put words in my mouth. So, the imp in me swung into action and I wrote that usually I am against sin. I could hardly wait to hear from readers wanting to know exactly what sins I am not against.

It didn’t take long! It brought back to mind an old, old joke about the fellow who was hired by a church to repaint its exterior walls. While doing the job, he began to realize he was not going have enough paint to finish the job, so he added enough water to the can to get it done. Next day came a thunderstorm and washed off the weak paint. The moral of the story was an allusion to a comment in the Bible, Numbers 23:32. The punch line to the joke is: “Be sure, your thins will find you out.”

You know me ... sometimes I can’t resist my inner imp. He just jumps up and takes over for a little mischievousness. Recently, for example, my computer did something that it does regularly. It disagreed with something I was saying and changed it. I typed in the phrase “wonderful sign,” and it changed the words to “wonderful sin.” I tried again and it repeated its effort to put words in my mouth. So, the imp in me swung into action and I wrote that usually I am against sin. I could hardly wait to hear from readers wanting to know exactly what sins I am not against.

It didn’t take long! It brought back to mind an old, old joke about the fellow who was hired by a church to repaint its exterior walls. While doing the job, he began to realize he was not going have enough paint to finish the job, so he added enough water to the can to get it done. Next day came a thunderstorm and washed off the weak paint. The moral of the story was an allusion to a comment in the Bible, Numbers 23:32. The punch line to the joke is: “Be sure, your thins will find you out.”

Ah, these lazy days of summer. The perfect time to think about what we would like to accomplish whenever we can get around to it. Have you ever thought about how much of life is spent thinking about this? I have been planning to write a country ballad for a long time but I always end my thinking by dropping the idea into my “when I can get around to it” file.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016 21:19

God knows, but tell Him anyway

Have you ever noticed that people of faith seem to have a need to remind God of what God already knows? We do this especially when we pray. What causes us to do this? Maybe we don’t trust God’s memory and we feel the need to remind God what the all-knowing One may have forgotten. Makes you chuckle, doesn’t it? Do you suppose we distrust God’s memory?

Preachers often tell God what God knows in prayers. That’s because we parsons seize upon almost every moment as an opportunity to preach. So, under the pretense of praying, we exhort the congregation rather than God. It gets slightly annoying, doesn’t it? On the other hand, what if instead of praying, we simply shrugged and said, “God knows,” when confronting a challenge? Would that be better? At the very least, when we tell the Divine what we believe God already knows, it demonstrates that we are aware of what is in our hearts and on our minds.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 16:59

Learn today as if there’s no tomorrow

Now and then I get to thinking about things I want to tell you that you may not know. I’m talking about things essential for a long and happy, well-informed life. We are born with the capacity to learn, but somebody needs to teach us. Here I am! I’m not that smart but I am probably older than you and I have seen a bunch of stuff. So this week I am opening my encyclopedic mind to see what spills out.

This fact from the world of biology I will pose as a question: What does a female aardvark do that no other living creature can do? Answer: It can give birth to a baby aardvark.

The subject today, class, is “watching.” When you think of it, there’s a whole lot of watching going on. Do you ever have the feeling that someone is watching you? It can feel creepy sometimes, can’t it?

I know I have freaked out lots of the people whom I love most because I get so much pleasure from just looking at them. I look at my wife and sometimes she will catch me in the act. She will say, “Whaaaat?” I have no defense for myself. After more than half a century, I never tire of just watching her. The same is true for my children and grandchildren. Do you know what I mean?

There are many variations on the “watching” theme. For example, we all do some “watching out” in anticipation of something or someone. Sometimes we are doing this out of eagerness. Often it is out of fear. Conspiracy theorists can be compulsive about this. Lots of religious folks through the ages have been preoccupied by watching out for the fulfillment of prophecies found in the Bible. Jesus cautioned his followers to avoid speculating on times and dates regarding the end of time as we have known it.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016 16:57

A question for the gates’ guardian

Every day I write a little sprig of this divine drivel that my publisher sends out by e-mail to anyone who wishes to receive it. It’s called The Daily Nugget and it’s free if you are interested. You can sign up for it at thesouthernfriedpreacher.com. Sometimes I like to pose a question to readers and I give the answer on the following day.

Well, cousin Les Shular who lives in Knoxville wrote to tell me he doesn’t like the delay between the question and answer: “I hate to wait. I may not live ’til tomorrow and then I would never know the answer and that just might be the question St. Peter would ask to get me into Heaven.”

Les makes a good point. I never thought about that but it got me to thinking.

The birds are chirping and the bees are buzzing and love is in the air. Once again, we are in the season of romance and weddings. As in all of the truly important things of life, marriage is something everyone enters into as a total amateur. Becoming an adolescent, driving a car the first time, going on your first date, becoming a parent; the list goes on and on. A wedding is an especially high stakes endeavor. The reason is obvious. It is all about commitment. This is even true in cultures where arranged marriages are the custom. It certainly is true in most of Western culture.

In our culture, marriage is a delicate dance in which we idealize true love as an expression of unconditional commitment to another. You know you love someone when that person’s well-being is more important to you than your own self. We often use the phrase, “with no strings attached.” We mean that we are offering something to someone with no expectation of anything in return. This is a very romantic notion and one that in real life is beautiful and relatively rare.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016 07:20

Southern Gentility can save a culture

“A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than a riot.” So wrote author, Robert Heinlein. Called the “dean of science fiction writers,” he was often wrong about his ideas. I think he is correct about this. A rip-roaring riot usually results in lots of noise, flying debris, property damage, personal injury and even death. But the death of a shared culture can wreck an entire nation.

Bad manners are a plague on us these days. E. M. Forster wrote in A Room With A View, “A thousand little civilities create tenderness in time.” It is surprising what a smile, a handshake, an opened door, a “Thank you,” an “I’m sorry,” can do to reduce distance and make a place for affection between two people. Good manners can make wondrous happen. A scowl, an obscene gesture, a condescending sneer can win an argument but damage a relationship forever.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 05:53

The choice is simple: God 2016

Up in Indiana, candidates for the presidency recently had a contest about who has the best endorsements. Senator Cruz criticized Mr. Trump for taking pride in receiving the endorsement of former boxer Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist. I get Mr. Cruz’s point but he needs to remember that Tyson once bit his opponent’s ear off in a fight. Or maybe he doesn’t know much about boxing. He didn’t know what to call the hoop that a basketball goes through. Another of Mr. Trump’s endorsees, Coach Bobby Knight, could have helped him out on that.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to endorse God. I got this idea while watching the TV news during this election season. I like God better than most of those who have been candidates. This is because most of what I know about God, I learned in Sunday school. When you are a child, Sunday school teachers can tell you a lot about God by the way they love you. Political spin masters can tell you lots by the way they disrespect you.

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 17:13

‘Anonymous’ may not be so unknown

The author named “Anonymous” is a person I admire immensely. The sheer, literary output of her or him is amazing. Usually the things signed by Anonymous are clever, wise, provocative, funny, or inspirational. This is why they are quoted so often. “Never argue with a fool. Someone watching may not be able to tell the difference.” Anonymous said that, and who am I to argue with it?

Here’s another thought by Anonymous: “If you love someone, let him or her go. If that person returns to you, he or she was always yours. If not, that person was never really yours.” Now I don’t know if that is actually true. I have observed that clutching too tightly can ruin relationships, but so can indifference. I have this in mind at the moment because this is the season when romance is in the air. The birds, they are a-singin’ and the bees they are a-buzzin.’ (Anonymous also said that.) Weddings are being planned in abundance. Some marriages will fail because of controlling behaviors by one of the mates. My advice to couples about to be married is for them to touch each other lightly.