Saturday, December 15, 2007

My How Times Have not Changed

News Item
The Fresno Bee

Delegates at the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin voted Saturday in Fresno to withdraw from the U.S. Episcopal Church. Delegates said they voted to break away from the church because it allows the blessing of same-sex unions, the ordination of gay bishops and the ordination of women.

Another news item in The Cauthen Herald attracted less attention but is equally noteworthy:

Last Saturday the Neanderthal Province of the National Progressive Church of America voted to separate itself from the larger body because it has departed from the historic faith and has taken positions in violation of biblical teachings.

They listed three specific complaints: 1, The National Progressive Church has stated that we are not obligated to obey Deuteronomy 21:18-21, which requires that persistently disobedient sons be stoned to death.

2. The NPC has taken an abolitionist position, saying that although numerous passages in the Bible support slavery, we believe that slavery is contrary to standards of Christian ethics.

3. The NPC has taken action to support the right of women to vote.

The Neanderthal Province, located in California, indicated that it intends to join the Paleolithic Church of Nomadia and attach itself to Bishop Anakro Nism of the Paleolithic Church. The letter of separation said that while it highly valued the unity of the church, it can no longer be a part of a group, claiming to be Christian, that is in such deep violation of biblically rooted traditions that have prevailed for centuries. Loyalty to historic beliefs dictates this serious action, they maintained. The modernism now so prevalent in the Progressive Church cannot be tolerated, they concluded.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Always Be Thankful

This morning I was barely on time for my doctor's appointment. I dashed in the building and scurried effortless up the stairs. As I hurried to the top, I passed a man walking with a cane as if every step were a painful struggle. As I drew near, he said to me about my speedy ascent, "God, I wish I could do that!" As I walked on, I said, "I wish you could too."

This simple little event reminded me that no matter how bad things are with us, there is somebody who is even worse off.

I was reminded of Brother George Russell when he was called on to pray at Friendship Baptist Church in rural Georgia when I was a child during the 1930's. Brother George would get down on his knees and address the Creator in the formal language of the King James Bible as follows: "Almighty God, we thank Thee that things are as well with us as they are."

Brilliant! This statement of gratitude fits all contingencies no matter how good or how bad. To wit, "O Lord, you know that the boll weevils destroyed the cotton, the drought ruined the corn, and Aunt Susie is real bad off sick, but we thank Thee that things are as well with us as they are."
O Lord, you know that the cotton crop is bountiful this year and prices are up, the corn crop will overflow the barn, and Aunt Susie got well and is fit as a fiddle, so we thank Thee that things are as well with us as they are."

As we get older and more frail, we will all see somebody who will prompt us to say, "God, I wish I could do that." But still we can thank God that "things are as well with us as they are."

The Really Deep Questions

I spent my career dealing with fundamental questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? Why are things the way they are and not some other way? What is the meaning of life? Do we really have free will? Is there a God? Etc.

But in my old age I have come to see that there are questions even more ultimate than these? Some examples of the superultimate:

1. Why do people of all ages throw snowballs at each other?

2. Will anybody in the package industry involving plastic ever get into heaven?

3. Not that I would ever notice such a thing, but Fox News and MSNBC News seem to be in a contest to see which can expose within legal limits more of the female leg on their shows, leaving CNN far behind? But why?

4. Why when I am late for church do I get nearly all red lights and when I leave early, I get mostly green lights?

5. What is it that we don't drive on the driveway or park on the parkway but drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?

6.Why do antidepressants that make you feel good reduce your sexual ability, which makes you feel bad?

7. Reliable reports indicate that three Republicans have been admitted to heaven since the McKinley era. How can this be if God is infinitely wise?

8. Why is there an inverse relationship between what we like to eat and what we ought to eat?

9. Why is that many scientists (and TV journalists) feel they can speak authoritatively about religion, faith, and theology (and routinely confuse the three) in total ignorance of their ignorance about the topics?

10. Why is it that conductors of symphony orchestras always look like they are in a state of perpetual orgasm?

11. How can someone or something show up missing?

12. If you want to make it cooler, do you turn the air conditioning up or down?

13. What is the difference between an enhanced sponsor acknowledgement on PBS and a commerical on for-profit tevevision?

14. Is it possible that anyone claiming to like -- I mean really like -- the taste of a martini can be telling the truth?

15. Will people who leave their grocery carts in the parking lot instead of the designated places have any chance at all of getting into heaven?

16. Will anybody who has more than 15 of these questions have any readers or friends left?

16. Are people who say per se necessarily weird per se?