Chapter

Chapter: (n) a division of a book

There are two reasons for being different–and there’s a symmetry to this.

Reason one is to make sure that you’re not the same.

Reason two is noticing that something is not as effective as it once was and deciding to evolve.

When I started writing books years ago, most of them were no more than pamphlets. They were desperately in need of editing because, like most ‘scribers,’ I overwrite. But I often did not edit them, being young, immature and contending that each word had a divine right for existence.

You see, that piece of difference was nothing but different. It wasn’t helpful, and sometimes my readers got caught up in the confusion of one of my sentences, and found themselves begging for a clause to rescue them.

But one thing I did accomplish was renaming the chapter. It had a long and storied history in literature, but it was ready for retirement. So I asked myself, what are people doing when they read a book? The answer came quickly. Normally, they’re sitting.

So I changed “Chapters” to “Sittings.”

It was a small thing, but I think folks found it endearing, and some other writers have since taken up the banner.

You see, it’s not that my new name is better than the old name.

Sometimes all that matters is that it’s new–instead of being so damn old.

 

 

 

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Chapped

Chapped: (adj) when lips become cracked, rough, or sore

There was a seventeen-day period back when I was a sophomore in high school, totally possessed by the demon of obsession, when I was
completely insane about my lips.

I don’t know what caused it.

Early in the year, I had nearly driven myself crazy, fearing that while I was sleeping I would swallow my tongue because I overheard a conversation on the subject. But I was finally convinced that my tongue was attached, and would be unwilling to slither down my throat.

During this seventeen day period, I caught a glimpse of my lips in the mirror–and they seemed huge. They weren’t. But my perception had temporarily taken a vacation and left behind a neurosis to care for my brain.

I was convinced that my lips were too large–and since I was raised in a prejudiced Midwest community, I asked my mother if we “had any Negro in our family.” (That’s what we called people of color at the time–Negroes.)

My mother was not only shocked at the question, but sent me to my room until I could come out and “be a decent fellow.”

While I was in my room, I decided to stare at my lips some more. This second viewing caused me to realize that they were not only huge, but they were chapped. I was positive I saw little white flakes trying to surface and take over my mouth.

What was I going to do?

Now please understand–it’s not like I was in some relationship with a girl and my lips were in constant demand. But optimist that I was, I thought it could happen soon, or that some young lady might just take a dare and kiss me. In doing so, would she comment on the acreage of my pucker–how dry and cracked it was?

It was the only thing I thought about. I flunked a pop quiz in chemistry class because I sat there the whole time looking at the beakers of fluid displayed against the wall, wondering if there was something in there that would shrink and smooth out my smooch.

As I don’t know how it began, I also do not know what ceased this madness.

But after seventeen days, I transferred my strange pursuit of lip shrinkage and mouth softening over to a stretch mark. You see, I found one right underneath my left armpit, barely able to be covered by me squeezing my shoulder tightly against my body.

 

 

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Chaplain

Chaplain: (n) a member of the clergy attached to a private chapel, institution, ship, branch of the armed forces, etc.

One of the major dangers in life is to be overwrought, which means that for some unknown reason we place greater intensity, importance
and value on some matters than others.

We certainly do this with people’s occupations.

If someone says they work at a grocery store, we probably will not launch into a statement of gratitude for providing food for the masses.

But if someone says they’re a chaplain in a prison or the military, we raise our eyebrows, impressed, thinking we’re dealing with a sacrificial individual who is doing really, really valuable work.

The distinctions we make in life cause our prejudice–because there is such a thing as a good chaplain and also a bad chaplain, just like there’s a good grocer and a bad grocer. There are people who do their job well and people who do their job poorly.

So to judge a person who is a doctor as noble and kind is absolutely foolish. Many Dr. Jekylls are actually Mr. Hyde.

I think it would be very difficult to be a chaplain in the military, for the Gospel he or she would preach would not necessarily be in line with either the stars and stripes or the red, white and blue. Jesus had his differences with capitalism, and certainly was not a great advocate of violence.

Yet I respect the chaplain who brings the hope of the Gospel to people who find themselves in the position of making decisions that have far-reaching effects.

So if we can stop our silly bigotry about occupations and start asking ourselves what makes a good person in any situation, then we will be on our way to truly grasping equality and the wisdom of understanding.

 

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Chaperone

Chaperone: (n) a person who accompanies and looks after another person

Back in the day before phones told us where the hell to go, there was a yearly event called the hayride.

It was a rather simple principle–young people who were somewhat infatuated with one another, with raging hormones, were placed at
dusk–nearly dark–onto the back of a wagon covered with hay and driven around for a while to supposedly conjure the memory of former days.

Matter of fact, even now I can remember the odor of the mingling of hay, sweat, apple cider and teenage urges filling my nostrils.

Here was the goal: it would be a fun time for the kids–and a chaperone, or maybe two, would ride on the hay to make sure things didn’t get out of hand.

The one time I went on such an excursion, I had no young lady with me (similar to going to a chili cook-off without your jalapeno).

Also, the minister who planed this particular hayride selected chaperones who happened to be recently married. So rather than watching to see what the kids did, they started making out in the front of the wagon, hiding themselves by covering up with hay.

This opened the door to a Biblical orgy. People were kissing and touching as I was…

Well, I was watching.

Little did I know that I would become the chaperone by default. Except, of course, I had no authority to stop anything, but instead, sat there and lusted in silence.

After the hayride, we arrived back–all the boys, girls and chaperones–with flushed faces and watery eyes.

When the minister asked if everybody enjoyed the hayride he received the enthusiastic “amen” that he rarely heard on a Sunday morning.

Later on, when it was revealed that our hayride was just a makeout buggy, the minister was reproved by the congregation, and as far as I know, no hayrides were ever held again.

The moral of my story is, chaperones should not be horny.

 

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Chapel

Chapel: (n) a small building for Christian worship

It was only five miles from my home town.

It was a small, clapboard building, which held no more than ninety people. But when my place of birth found out that my girlfriend and I were pregnant, and they began expressing their disapproval over our immoral carnality, I escaped to that little refuge, starting my music career.

It was pastored by a fellow who was no more than eight years my senior, and he was either oblivious to the gossip about me or had enough rebellion left over from his teen years that he didn’t care. The people of the church took a liking to me, even though some of them disapproved of my long hair and my decision not to join the American work force.

I wrote my first song for that church.

I had my first public performance with my group in that church.

I stored my equipment in a downstairs closet.

I rehearsed there two or three times a week.

They even gave me a key so I could come and go at my own pace.

I held my first revival in that chapel.

And when I got signed by a Nashville recording company and made my album, I came back and debuted my success in front of the congregated in the chapel. That morning the house was packed–about a hundred folks–and everybody was just as overwhelmed with joy as I was.

Although later on the pastor became more religious and therefore a bit more judgmental and we parted ways, I will never forget that little building and how much it meant to me as a haven of escape from the demands of becoming a budding man, and the criticism of the locals.

 

 

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Chap

Chap: (n) A true gentleman

Writers are insane from spending too much time in their own brain–drunk on the intoxicant of finding new words to make great phrases.

Often in writing a story line, when you’ve used “he, man, guy and fellow” so many times that you know the reader must be gagging, you go to the Thesaurus and look for other terms for the same idea.

You often land on a word like “chap.”

No one actually refers to another person as “a chap.” Even in England, you probably would not find many people pointing at others and saying, “Now, there’s a fine chap.”

But in a pinch, a writer who wants to extend his story by one more paragraph and needs a variable to describe a male figure will insert the word “chap,” hoping that the person reading his or her novel will overlook it and move along to the next verb.

It is in that moment when you know the writer has run out of words before running out of ideas.

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Chaos

Chaos: (n) complete disorder and confusion.

I am sorry, Mr. Webster. Complete disorder does not create confusion, unless, for some reason, we are rebellious to the power of disorder.

In an attempt to put human beings in charge of everything, we have created a climate which promotes, preaches and honors destiny.

But anyone who has lived through a storm or a cataclysmic earth event can tell you that Mother Nature is in charge. She has been appointed the arbiter of human affairs by offering forewarning her natural ways for those who do not stubbornly insist on only promoting their own agenda.

Religious people place God in the role of protecting us from Mother Nature, so that grace can keep us from needing to live a normal human life and provide free passes to the front of the blessing line.

Secular folks love pre-destination because they are heartened by the notion that somewhere there is a lottery ticket waiting–held by their soul-mates.

  • Chaos is a way of keeping an even field, and using Mother Nature to enforce the playground.
  • Chaos is not devoid of rules, just constantly changing them
  • Chaos can be navigated if you don’t try to make your ship too big and unable to turn in the waters of difficulty.
  • Chaos is what gives everyone a chance.
  • Chaos has no favorites, no chosen people and no enemies.

Chaos is what breathes life into us and keeps us grateful, so that we don’t lose interest somewhere between the cradle and the grave.

 

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