Tuesday, 02 August 2016 14:25

This week’s offering is just pure poetry

I have decided to lift the literary quality of these divine dawdlings and I have unleashed a fountain of poetic production that has surprised even me! This week, I want to share with you some of the poems that have been arriving daily from my high-class friends. First is this from my favorite Pentecostal preacher, John Abbey, out in Killeen, Texas:

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 21:36

Pondering ABCs of nothing in particular

We sometimes refer to the fundamentals of something. The ABCs of religion, for example. Or the ABCs of parenting. Or physics. Or whatever. Well, today I’m idling away a summer afternoon thinking of the ABCs of nothing in particular.

Take the letter A, now. What idea begins with an A? Atomic begins with an A, but a mini-essay on that would probably bomb. I certainly don’t want to think about bombing. Alaska starts with an A. That might be refreshing on a hot day down here in the lower 48. An Alaskan glacier would be a cool thing to contemplate. But my mind is already drifting to global warming and glaciers are melting. The melting ice of Alaska is drifting down the West Coast. Nope, I’ll scratch that. Alaska may all be gone by the time I get there.

It’s cobbler time in Dixie! The fruits are ripening and dragonflies are whizzing. Ovens across the Southland are heating and cobblers are on the way. Now, it hardly seems possible that there is some innocent child out there who is not sure what a cobbler is. But on the outside chance that one exists, here’s the dictionary definition of a cobbler: a pie filled with fruit baked with a thick crust on top.

I do believe that the very best cobbler is to pie what virgin is to olive oil — to speak theologically. What is your favorite cobbler? My vote is for peach. Especially if is made with peaches grown in South Carolina or Georgia. My runner-up favorite is blackberry. It is best when the berries are picked by the whole family from the briars along a rural, Southern road. Adding to the richness of such a pie is the knowledge that the berry pickers risked poison ivy, snake bite, bee stings, thorns, sunburn and heat stroke to gather the fruit. This is to say nothing about the wild yahoos speeding by in a cloud of dust in souped-up pickup trucks.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016 05:50

Brides in June make wives in July

I’m looking at the month of June in my rearview mirror today. Lots of folk get married during June each year. It’s a pleasant tradition. There’s something special about being a June bride. Now those happy couples, wedded in June, are learning how to be married couples in July. It’s a wonderful thing, a wedding. But wonderful things are not without stress sometimes.

The marriage ceremony contains some features that have been included a very long time. They were included for very specific reasons. For example, the traditional wedding includes an announcement by the clergy: “If anyone can show just cause why this couple should not be joined in holy wedlock, speak now or forever hold your peace.” That was an important moment, especially in a time when many persons had common-law marriages. They never participated in a ceremony performed by a pastor and did not have a marriage recognized by the state. But they loved each other, had children together, and led long lives. But sometimes things did not go well. A common-law wife might show up with a bunch of children to protest their father’s official marriage to another woman. That could be a stressful moment.

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.