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.”

I am in love again. Her hair is long and jet black. She is cuddly and warm. She is approachable. She is quiet and a wonderful listener. She is friendly to strangers. She is even-tempered. She is tidy, a neat freak if I ever saw one. I haven’t known her very long but everyone who knows her sings her praises.

She is much younger than I but age is no barrier to us. Whoa! Don’t jump to any quick conclusions. She is my new cat!

Well friends, I’m ready to turn the page. As most of you know, I have spent the past four months in the hospital and in rehab centers after the removal of my left leg below the knee. It shouldn’t have taken so long to get back, but I had some complications. But now I am happily home with a brand new leg. I am so glad.

It is hard to think when you are going through something like this. I also suffered a stroke, which made it hard to communicate for awhile. I couldn’t put words together to make sentences. I soon recovered from that and can now talk the paint off the wall. I chase people around in my wheelchair until they stop and listen.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017 16:36

Spring is time to love one another

“Behold the winter is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” The Song of Solomon, 2:11-12.

“If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.” Victor Hugo, Les Miserables.

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” Shakespeare, Sonnet XCVII.

Easter is a good time for reality checks. As usual, most of us look at and listen to the racket around us and conclude that we live in critical times. This is what Adam must have said to Eve as they walked away from the gates of Eden: “We are living in critical times, Eve.”

This is what Caesar was telling the Roman Senate when he reported that the Gothic hordes had crossed the Danube.

George Washington surely said to his quartermaster as they trudged through the snow at Valley Forge: “These are critical times.”