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Monthly Archives: October 2006

I have a passion that the races will be reconciled.  Unfortunately, we still judge a person by their skin hue than their character (sorry Doctor King).   The first step in race relations or one of the first steps is this: grasp the truth that all African Americans don’t think alike.  This is a gross generalization to think that people of the same race all think alike.  I might add that another African American does not speak for me; I am capable thank you very much of speaking for myself.

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swiss-ladies-01.jpgI like people who live in rural areas (people are often down to earth, not pretentious, and the pace of life is a bit slower).  One such place is Pawnee, OK.  My wife’s great aunt stays there.  In Pawnee, I sit on the porch (in my pajamas) and everyone waves as they go by.  The creator of the comic strip, Dick Tracy was born and raised in Pawnee.  Pawnee is one of those towns you can literally drive through in a few minutes.

Another such place is Swiss, MO.  Where the heck is Swiss, MO you ask.  Well, it is next to Hermann, MO.  and near Washington, MO.  That probably doesn’t help.  Perhaps, Swiss’ claim to fame is the award winning Swiss Meat and Sausage Company (click on ‘Swiss Meats’ under Blogroll).  Cool place; I took a tour of the company several years ago.  I go to Swiss, MO to preach at the Swiss Reformed Evangelical Church from time to time.  I integrate the place (I am the only black person in the place).  But is such a cool experience.  I love the people! Pictured with me in front of the church is left to right, Ann (?) and Lucy (the organist).

color-of-water-cover.jpgI just finished the hilariously funny and moving story of Ruth McBride-Jordan (or Rachel Shilsky – her maiden name) written by her son, James McBride.  The title of the book is, ‘The Color of Water.’  When a little boy, James (who is black) asked his mother, Ruth McBride (a white Jewish woman and daughter of an Orthodox Rabbi), what color God was, Mrs. McBride responds, “God is the color of water.” 

James McBride writes in such a way that you feel like you know Mrs. McBride personally; as though she was your next door neighbor.  Mrs. McBride raises 12 kids; all of which go to college and finish college (Ruth earned a college degree when she was 65).  She was married twice; both to black men.  Rev. McBride, one of the husbands, named James when he was on his death bed (Ruth McBride was pregnant with James when Rev. McBride died of lung cancer.)  This fitting and wonderful tribute to Ruth McBride made me laugh out loud and it also made me cry (the subtitle to the book is ‘A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother’).  All in all, Ruth McBride gives credit to God for helping her when funds, resources, and living arrangements were less than idea or optimal.  She said this about God, “I want you to know you are looking at a witness of God’s word.  It’s real.  It’s real.”  This book is a must read!

toilet-paper.jpgSomething happened at work today that prompted this post.  My office is in a-house-converted-to-an-office building.  So, my building is a public place.  There are two public bathrooms in our building.  One on the first floor; the other one in the basement.  I went to the bathroom on the first floor only to find that an extra roll of toilet paper had not made its way onto the spindle.  It (the spare roll) sat there on top of the tank lid. This happens at home too.  An empty spindle too often when my wife and I go to the restroom.  I think my kids are the culprits.  Living in community means all the occupants are considerate of each other.  Or let’s say it this way: all occupants of a living space ought to be making strides or attempts to be considerate.   One small way to be considerate is to kindly replace the toilet paper. 

Every human person is arrogant about something.  It could be a special skill (operating on the delicate brain) or talent (singing or writing or leading) or one’s health or family name.  However, life has a way of dealing us our own tailor-made ‘breaking point.’  In other words, every human person has something that conquers him or her; something that forces a person to raise his or her hands and say, “I surrender, help me.”  One such ‘breaking point’ for me was taking a Beginning Greek course in seminary.  This beginning Greek course taught the basics of the Greek language, vocabulary, sentence structure, etc.  This beginning Greek course broke my arrogance as “all-knowing math whiz.”  Breaking our arrogant streaks is a healthy thing as this often painful process helps us to realize that we are still fragile and finite and that whether we want to confess it or not, we are still very dependent on someone much bigger than ourselves.  And as I have been trying to subtly communicate with the bold-italic form of beginning, sometimes the most basic things in this world are used to humble us or to put it in my late grandmother Mama Jane’s words, “sometimes the most simple things in life are used to knock us off our high horses.”  All this humbling business is not an easy pill to swallow for those who have been immersed in a ‘can-do-it-pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps’ American culture.

On my way home one day, I stopped at the local post office to do what one does at a local post office – purchase stamps and mail some packages and letters.  Like most of the customers I pulled a number and waited patiently for my number to be called.  An elderly lady’s number was called.  The lady, who was slightly bent over as she walked,  moved slowly to the counter where a clerk was waiting to serve her.  And something all too common happened next, the clerk raised the volume of her voice.  From where I was standing I did not see any visible hearing aids or devices.  She showed no indication of being hard of hearing.   I could understand the clerk raising her voice if the lady was several feet or meters away but their beautiful faces were a few inches apart.  Isn’t this odd?  Why do we raise our voices at the elderly?  Do we equate difficulty hearing with old age?  If so, why?

doylec82.gifI am a cynic.  In my view, cynicism has positive and negative consequences.  Negatively, being a cynic can rob you of intimacy/closeness with those who truly care about you.  In other words, cynicism is an enemy of intimacy.  And being cynical can rob you of receiving and appropriating genuine/authentic feedback or encouragement. 

Positively, I think being a cynic is helpful at times because it keeps our feet firmly planted in reality.  Everything is not wonderful.  And we shouldn’t look through ‘rose tinted’ glasses; because we are severely flawed, this world is severely flawed, and human relationships are severely flawed. 

Friend and colleague Dick Keyes has written a good book on the topic.  The book is entitled, “Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion.”  I have heard the material for this book in his lectures! Dick and wife, Mardi, head the L’Abri in Southborough, Mass.

  • It is such a delight to see evidence that the seasons are changing.  The vivid fall colors of the leaves in St. Louis are beautiful.
  • Sometimes, I carry a lime green-bright orange-sky blue Pokemon lunch box (my son’s hand-me-down).  The older I get, the less concerned I am about what people say about how I dress, what I carry my lunch in, etc. 10-5-2006-7.jpg
  • Another good read is “Amusing Ourselves To Death” by Neil Postman.
  • Go Jayhawks!  (as in University of Kansas Jayhawks of course)