Saturday, September 22, 2018

Chatter #203


 

   Social injustice is a bottomless well of inspiration for writers. It has always been around and a wellspring of empathy and emotion for readers of all ages. Social injustice, well told, makes for timeless literature. So, it’s not surprising to find parallels in our own time. It’s deja vu all over again.

     Last night I was searching Netflix and stumbled upon one of my favorite movies of all time. It also happens to be the film adaptation of one of my favorite books of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird. Read the book, but if you just can’t bring yourself to read, see the movie.

     There’s a trail in the story. It’s the 1930's and a young white woman has accused a black man of rape. The defense attorney destroys her on the stand; showing clearly the man was physically incapable of the crime as it was described. Frustrated and angry at being exposed as a liar, the woman resorts to the social buzz of the day.

     “I don’t know how. He just done it. I’ve got something to say. And then, I ain’t gonna say no more. He took advantage of me. And if you fine, fancy gentlemen ain’t going to do nothing about it, then you’re just a bunch of lousy, yellow, stinking cowards, the whole bunch of you. And your fine fancy airs don’t come to nothing.”

     I can imagine the same words shouted in the same impotent anger in a Senate hearing room on Monday. That is if the accuser dares to even grace the hearings with her presence. The terrible part is that I can also see U.S. Senators making the same blind-to-the truth, politically correct, knee-jerk, decision as the jury in the movie. I also see America letting the Senate get away with their cowardly choice to ruin an innocent man.

     I pray that I am wrong; that I have it all wrong. I doubt it, but only time will tell.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Chatter #202 J’accuse!



   “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”


     The Reign of Terror is an everlasting stain on the French Revolution. The high ideals of "Libert√©, Egalit√©, Fraternit√©" were hijacked by a fanatical agenda more interested in the destruction of perceived opponents than the freedom of the citizenry. The voices of opposition to Jacobin rule were sent to the guillotine; condemned solely by accusation and association. That those same voices shared the goal of an end to tyranny mattered not at all.

     It took longer, but the American Revolution is started down the path of guilt by accusation and bitter denunciation. The Democratic Party has demonstrated a willingness to abandon the Constitution in favor of destroying the opposition. It has granted its members exemption from equal treatment under the law; elevated accusation above the legal process; and given lie to the requirement of evidence.

The current Supreme Court nomination hearings are a shameful display of the worst human qualities. Leftist liberals have given themselves over to that sadistic part of man that enjoys the tearing down those whom a person sees as too good, too powerful, too successful, or too unlike them. This has been going on since Cain killed Abel, but Cain had the good taste to kill his brother outside the spotlight. Americas, lacking a sense of propriety, have a growing love of the spotlight and have always loved a good scandal. Now we have those with the power the government joined at the hip with the holders of worldwide distribution fabricating scandal and promoting accusation as fact to slay their political foes.

     The role of the Senate in confirmation is to “advise and consent.” It is not theirs to deny appointment to a qualified selection of the President. That this power grab has gone on in the Senate for years is the fault of the American people. In the final analysis, voters are the true final arbitrators of the Constitution. When we see Senators, Congressmen, and Presidents overreach the authority granted by the Constitution, it is our sacred duty to remove them from office with our vote.

      Call on the Senate to vote on confirmation now. They aren’t required to hear our voice; neither are they required to be returned to their position. Hold the guilty responsible.   

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Chatter #201 Sitting



     Sitting here in the recliner where I’ve spent the last five days; staring at the walker positioned at the end of the footrest and wondering how the hell this happened to me. I can’t be old, not yet. A few days ago I worked twelve hours in the ER, chuckled at the twenty-somethings with their boo-boos, drank beer with my co-workers at end of the shift, and spent the rest of the morning doing chores around the house. Today, I’m dragging around this aluminum contraption to keep me from falling on my ass---again.

     When I didn’t die young, thin and handsome, I conceded that someday I might get old. In the eighties, they started calling my music oldies and my suspicions that the day was approaching grew more concrete. When the leftist, liberals at AARP began pushing membership on me, I pledged to resist. I thought I was doing a good job. Sure, there were parts that didn’t work like they used to, but I looked a damn sight better than customers ten years younger than me.

     All of a sudden, I get up one morning with an aching back. No big deal. My back and I were longtime adversaries. Like my hero General Lee, I whipped the contentious invader at every turn. Last Thursday night, my resources collapsed and so did I. My left leg could no longer be trusted and I was forced to concede, I was old. It happened so quickly. The mind and spirit are still willing, but the flesh is weak.

     The doctor says she can fix it. Maybe she can, but the damage is done. The old man is down and can’t pick himself up from this one. Whether or not I ever work again, walk unassisted, or take a shower without someone standing by lies in the hands of an unreliable insurance company and a strange doctor. That’s the precipice of old age; the long drop into dependence where decisions are taken out of your hands.

     Nothing to do for the next two weeks except sit here and think.       

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Chatter #200 Seeing the Invisible




 

     I watched documentary on the paranormal a couple years back. Various viewpoints were represented, but the one I remember was a “scientist” who stated that investigations by believers into the paranormal were flawed because paranormal investigators “saw ghosts everywhere.” His point being that if you believe, you will see evidence to support your belief in every circumstance.

     I agree with his premise. People tend to see what they believe and discount those things they don’t believe. However, the man proved himself a hypocrite. His investigations were in exactly the same fashion as those he criticized. Any difficult to explain phenomenon he observed was dismissed out of hand. Such things did not exist and therefore, he could not “see” them and the evidence could not possibly show them. If paranormal investigators saw ghosts everywhere; he saw them nowhere. Seeing is believing, but believing plays a role in seeing.

      Science, you see, is as dependent on faith as religion or paranormal investigation and largely for the same reason. There are things in the universe that defy the bounds of “natural” logic and “scientific” investigation.

     Science is essentially this: I put this amount of x in this amount of Y under these conditions and I observed Z, or I pointed my telescope to these coordinates and I saw Z and based on my observations/experiment, I conclude XYZ.

      Science can no more take us from unobserved nothingness to the expanding universe with any more certainty that the Genesis account. Both rely one’s ability to reconcile the validity of the experimenter’s/observer’s conclusions with one’s own experiences and interpretation of the available evidence.

     According to the writer of the biblical Book of Hebrews, “By faith he (Moses) forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Moses career as a prince of Egypt took a steep nose dive when he took an interest in his fellow Hebrews. He fled to the back side of the desert and took up tending sheep. The bible says he worked through his experience as a shepherd and subsequently put up with his contentious people by seeing an invisible God.

     God’s invisibility is not to be confused with a lack of evidence of His presence. Jesus used the wind as an example of how the unseen makes itself known and as an insight into how belief in the workings of God is evidenced. As a writer I “show” my character’s invisible emotions by describing body language or facial expression in order that the reader may “see” what is transpiring. And, what about those ah-ha moments; those epiphanies we all experience when the light above our head comes on and we “see” the answer?

     Human beings are capable of seeing more than the objects we look upon. Call it vision, insight, or inspiration, but don’t deny it happens and we see the invisible. What we do with this ability is up to us. However, I find removing traditional disbelief can open up a wide vista on the invisible world that surrounds us.

     Yes, I see God in everything.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Chatter #199


   The self-righteous of the world and the man wise in the world’s conceits call Christianity a crutch. They are more correct than they know. Christianity is a crutch. Their error is in believing that a crutch a bad thing. They obviously, do not understand the purpose of a crutch or the needs of a crippled man. A crutch is essential for a cripple.

     A crutch is an instrument of healing every bit as much as the surgeon’s scalpel or the physician’s medicine. Years ago I worked on a Native American reservation. Diabetic foot problems, if not greater in number, were much more severe. One reason for this was the refusal of the afflicted to use a crutch to keep the weight off their wound and let it heal. At least one young man sold his crutches to buy alcohol. A crutch was a sign of weakness and infirmity and there was a willingness to sell healing for a false show of strength.

     I did not see one foot saved by strength. I did see many slowly and methodically whittled away until the crutch gave way to the wheelchair and the illusion of strength was gone.

     For wounds to heal they need care. They need to be protected from further injury. Crutches bear a man up until he can walk on his own again and be whole. Spiritual crutches work the same way. They protect the hurt until the wounded can bear his own weight again. Only the physician can say how long that will take. So when you see a soul on crutches think, “There’s a man who is trying to be whole again.”


     Woe to the man who walks alone; who denies crutch and friend to lift him up when he falls. A Christian knows that afflictions are many, but the Lord delivers him out of everyone. 

    As a postscript, our hospital unit faced a critical shortage of crutches last night and it was not fun. Nobody wanted to hop home.

Chatter #198 Remembering




     As I opened Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening today to begin my morning devotion, I read the scripture and immediately my heart and eye jumped to the date. I had been anticipating the day, but life distracts us now and again and even those days we plan to remember slip from the front of our mind. Today is September 6th, my father’s birthday. He has been gone from this world for eleven years now. He has never been absent from my thoughts. On my busiest days, in my joy and in my sorrow, he is with me. The best parts of me are a tribute to his craftsmanship for his words and deeds have shaped the man I am.
   
     The scripture read: “...that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world...”

     “Dad,” the thought sprang to mind unbidden as I read the words.

    I wish for everyone such a light in the midst of this crooked, perverse world. My dad didn’t lecture, seldom rebuked, and I cannot now call to mind an instance when he physically punished. A look of disapproval and the knowledge that I disappointed him was enough to alter my life. It still is.

     It’s strange because the particulars of our views are so different. Dad was a Kennedy Democrat who never, in his entire life, voted for a Republican. He was a staunch union man, a bit of a tree hugger, and refused to darken the door of a church. Yet, never for a moment, did I believe I was adopted.

     That was Dad’s doing. He not only believed in allowing others to think differently, he practiced it with quiet tolerance. He was his own man, rooted steadfast in his values and opposing opinion was no threat to his self-image. His trust was betrayed more than once. He forgave. “Nobody’s perfect,” was more than a trite saying with him. He once told me he resisted Christianity because he feared to commit to God and subsequently failing to live godly.

     No reasoning by me could move him from that stance. He refused the prayers of hospital chaplains, not surrendering to being polite, and then asked me to stand by him. We came to an understanding about faith. He agreed to listen to a recorded sermon of mine. In exchange, we would let the matter of faith rest there. I agreed knowing it was the best deal I was going to get.

     The deal held for many years. When he called me, to tell me that his doctor sent him home to die, that was a difficult promise to keep. He just wanted me there. One afternoon, we were alone. He didn’t exactly break the deal, but fighting back tears, he said to me “I had no idea what a good preacher you are.” We were both at peace from that moment on without another word.

     He died shortly thereafter. I was in the next room when he left. I think he wanted to make a quiet exit when nobody was looking. That’s just the way he was. His death is a vivid memory. His life is a more enduring one. Tears are unavoidable, but I’m celebrating his life today. To me, Elmer LaFountain is forever a blameless, harmless son of God, a light in the midst of a crooked, perverse world.

 
   We were both young once upon a time.                       

Monday, September 3, 2018

Chatter #197




 

 
    The self-righteous of the world and the man wise in the world’s conceits call Christianity a crutch. They are more correct than they know. Christianity is a crutch. Their error is in believing that a crutch a bad thing. They obviously, do not understand the purpose of a crutch or the needs of a crippled man. A crutch is essential for a cripple.

     A crutch is an instrument of healing every bit as much as the surgeon’s scalpel or the physician’s medicine. Years ago I worked on a Native American reservation. Diabetic foot problems, if not greater in number, were much more severe. One reason for this was the refusal of the afflicted to use a crutch to keep the weight off their wound and let it heal. At least one young man sold his crutches to buy alcohol. A crutch was a sign of weakness and infirmity and there was a willingness to sell healing for a false show of strength.

     I did not see one foot saved by strength. I did see many slowly and methodically whittled away until the crutch gave way to the wheelchair and the illusion of strength was gone.

    For wounds to heal they need care. They need to be protected from further injury. Crutches bear a man up until he can walk one his own again and be whole. Spiritual crutches work the same way. They protect the hurt until the wounded can bear his own weight again. Only the physician can say how long that will take. So when you see a soul on crutches think, “There’s a man who is trying to be whole again.”

    Woe to the man who walks alone; who denies crutch and friend to lift him up when he falls. A Christian knows that afflictions are many, but the Lord delivers him out of every one.