Coven

Coven: (n) an assembly of witches

In the tapestry of experiences I have quilted together to call my life, I spent some time in Shreveport, Louisiana, starting a work that was kind of a combination of an artist’s guild, a church and a food bank.

Now, any one of those three things could stand on its own as a formidable effort, but in my youthful arrogance, I felt it was necessary for me to tackle all three to adequately represent the entire girth of the message that was sitting on top of my heart.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

We were not large, but the people we drew were very artistic, spiritually seeking, and often in need of some help with groceries. So as you see, we were right on point.

This Southern community I lived in thought that artists should stay downtown with the theater, churches should piously place themselves on Church Street, and food banks were better situated across town, where people’s skin had a deeper hue.

So when white, young me—with long hair—started to march about the community, putting on plays, performing music, teaching a little Gospel here and there, and passing out food in grocery carts near the projects, our city did not deem this to be a positive, but rather, decided it must be born of some sort of “dark spirit.”

They were especially concerned because we named this little gathering “The Haven.” Feeling no need to question their own assumptions, or even pick up a dictionary for definition, several of them insisted that the word “haven” was the term used for the Church of Satan. They were convinced we were a cult of witches with accompanying warlocks, who were doing good deeds to mask our real adventure, which was to pervert and smear true Christianity.

Several times I pointed out to them that the word “haven” actually came from an old hymn entitled “Haven of Rest,” and that the word they were seeking, which described a witch’s congregation, was “coven.” However, they refused to change their minds and accepted the rumor they had so carefully and perniciously put together.

Fortunately for us, those involved in the arts, the souls that were seeking answers, and people who were hungry didn’t give a shit whether the aid came from the Prince of Peace or the Prince of Darkness.

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Court of Public Opinion

Court of public opinion: (n) the beliefs and judgment of most people

I have never met “most people.”

They normally come as individuals who begin to cling together over some belief or even prejudice, simply because they have been taught since their youth that there is strength in numbers. (Once again, I don’t know if even that is true.)funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

After all, there have been some awfully “populated” ideas over the centuries of mankind which dissipated when exposed for their greed or stupidity.

So when it comes to the court of public opinion, there is actually a wide range of assertions within that single courtroom.

What I have learned is that there are three things that will never be illegal, can’t imagine them being improper, and generally speaking, gain favor when the public opinion decides to hold court.

1. “I’m sorry.”

Even though we tout the power of arrogance, we simultaneously despise it.

Even though we want people to espouse their confidence, our skin crawls a bit if humility doesn’t show up immediately.

You will certainly be convicted in the court of public opinion if you are unable to say, “I’m sorry.”

2. “I have faults.”

There is only one entity we believe to be sinless, and quite honestly, He, being God, gets an awful lot of questioning of His comings and goings.

I don’t think any of us are looking for our leaders, friends, spouses or children to be without mistakes or error-free. We just appreciate it when folks know they are capable of a stumble before we come along, have to pick them up and listen to all their excuses.

3. “It’s none of my goddamn business.”

You certainly have a better chance of being acquitted in the court of public opinion if you aren’t prosecuting too many cases against other folk.

If it’s not involving your money, your time, your soul or your body, stay the hell out of it. Then you won’t have to face the revenge of disgruntled people who were accused by your court and ended up walking out the doors smelling like a rose.

Yes, if you want to get a good verdict in the court of public opinion, you might want to remember these three things.

Or be prepared to spend some time imprisoned by your own ignorance.

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Contrarian

Contrarian: (n) a person who takes an opposing view

The contrarians of one generation are the high school teachers of the next.

It was a contrarian who stood up in 1847 and said slavery was wrong. Move ahead forty or fifty years and the whole country has fought a great war (if such a thing as a “great” war is possible) to confirm the point of the contrarian.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Contrarians are people like you and me who affix themselves to a notion they believe is universal or perhaps even divinely inspired, and rather than giving into the pressure to be average or common, they persist in pursuing their train of thought.

I have spent most of my life being a contrarian and have dwelt on this planet long enough to see many of the things that troubled me get worked out, discussed and now everyone assumes they were never issues.

I lived through the civil rights movement, and though I grew up in a white-bread-mayonnaise community, I decided to support equality.

While people were screaming about patriotism and Viet Nam, I listened carefully and gradually decided I agreed with the contrarian position—that the skirmish in Indochina was ill-conceived.

I was there to remind those from the Moral Majority that they were neither moral nor really a majority.

I have been a blessed man.

There’s nothing special about me except for the fact that I am not afraid to be a contrarian.

I am not terrified when the plurality of my society frowns at my outlandish contentions.

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Contraption

Contraption: (n) a mechanical contrivance; gadget; device.

Getting older changes my opinion on many things.

When I was much younger, I viewed myself as a discovery—a unique human being placed on Earth for some divine cause or mission. Such an idea was immature, short-sighted and arrogant simultaneously.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Getting a little more experience under my belt, I thought I might be an invention. In other words, the creative forces in the universe stumbled upon my attributes and decided to use me to make something else.

Yet as time marched on, I realized that although I was happy and did possess some ability, the combination was not unique to my person.

Pressing on, I now realize I’m a contraption, and like any such device, I’m about as usable as I am willing to be flexible.

For instance, a tire iron is a contraption. It can function to work on tires. You can use it to get something from underneath a couch. Or if an attacker decided to bother you, you might be able to scare him or her away with by brandishing it.

Yes—I am a contraption. I’m just about as functional as I’m willing to evolve myself to be.

I used to be prideful and say I would never do certain things. Once I abandoned the pride, I suddenly discovered there were many more inventive things I could do.

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Colonist

Colonist: (n) a settler in or inhabitant of a colony

I like to believe I’m tough. In other words, able to handle challenges.

Recently, when I found myself stowed away during a hurricane, I was surprised at what a dependent, selfish and fussy child I could become just through inconvenience.

It was hot, confined and the food was a post-Apocalyptic menu. I nearly cried.

So when I think about the colonists who settled the United States, I am baffled. The ignorance, self-righteousness, arrogance and short-sightedness they brought with them in settling the New World is mind-boggling.

Didn’t they realize they were starting all over again and there would be huge changes? That big black-rimmed hats and dark, heavy woolen clothes might not be
ideal for the climate.

They also brought over a religion suited for parlor talk, now being tested in the dungeons of challenge.

And then I think to myself, they were really pretty brave.

How would I have been any different?

Would I have landed on the shore, walked around for a couple of weeks and concluded that I was going to have to pursue a completely different lifestyle, or else I would die from exposure–or even a common cold. Yes, the colonists had few remedies for sickness, and the ones they had were notorious for making you sicker.

Actually, it is quite remarkable and magnificent that they were able to muster enough flexibility and common sense to push on through.

It’s not easy being a colonist.

I occasionally discover that I am marooned in a new situation, very grateful that I’m not alone–that I at least have one or two buddies with me to help me survive all the frightening surprises.

Yes, all of us are really colonists–pitching our tents here on Earth for less than a century. We will be replaced quite soon–and truthfully, it won’t be that hard.

 

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Collateral

Collateral: (n) something pledged as security for repayment of a loan

No one is ever interested in hearing about my successes.

Perhaps it’s the flash of arrogance that enters the human voice whenever we talk about ourselves in a positive way.

I gain empathy, friendship and humor with my fellow-travelers by “pranking” myself in a snarky way–especially when remembering a time when it appears that I was infested with the demon of stupidity.

To protect myself I always begin these stories with: “It happened many years ago.”

That way you know that I would not pursue this particular adventure today–and if I did, since I am older, I would have more money to address it.

I wanted to borrow two hundred dollars. This was back in a time when two hundred dollars was my “guesstimation” of the value of Aladdin’s castle.

The person from the bank told me that if I had some collateral he would be “willing to consider” such a loan.

I didn’t question any further–I asked myself, What do I possess that’s worth two hundred dollars?

Ruling out my kidney, liver and lungs, I came up blank.

Yet all at once, I remembered that in the basement of my parents’ loan company, there were some huge slabs of marble left over from when they had decorated the office. It seemed to me–since they were marble–that they were certainly expensive.

I wasn’t a rube, so I called a local lumberyard person and asked him what he thought such a slab would be worth.

After he understood the dimensions, he said that if I bought them at the store each one would cost me a hundred dollars.

I was thrilled.

All I had to do was carry three (playing it safe) marble slabs up a flight of stairs, around a corner and out the door, and I would have my collateral.

The problem was, the only person available to help me was my wife. Though sturdy, she was not at a strength level to lift her share of what probably was two hundred pounds each. This did not deter me. I decided the best thing was to put her at the bottom and me at the top.

It took two days. (Not full days. Twenty-minutes-at-a-time days.)

We took a lot of breaks.

Finally we actually unearthed from the basement tomb three two-hundred-pound slabs of marble, got them into the back of our van and drove them to the bank.

I was so damn proud.

I coaxed the banker to come out and see what I had to offer for collateral. Opening the back door of the van, he stared at the dusty pile of stone.

He laughed.

And not just a little. It may be the first time in my life that I was laughed to scorn.

He patted me on the shoulder, shook his head and said, “That’s a good one, man. I can’t wait to tell everybody about this one.”

I assumed the loan was a no-go.

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Coaster

Coaster: (n) a small mat placed under a glass to protect the table underneath.

It’s one of those factors that determines whether you are a bungler or a baron.

There are many.

But when you find yourself with a glass of drink and there is a table in front of you, do you procure a coaster so your condensation does not leave a ring on the table, or do you just put your glass down and later act completely bewildered because your hostess or host was offended by your choice?

It’s where we teeter–all human beings teeter between understanding and arrogance.

Often we understand the purpose for matters, yet in our arrogance, we resist performing the courteous function simply because it seems tedious and makes us appear too subservient.

A long time ago I had to decide whether to be a bungler or become a baron. Would I be willing to learn the things that are important to my brothers and sisters, and simply avoid conflict with their tender conscience by doing them? Or would I stubbornly going to insist that it’s a “goddamn free country,” and proceed to take my pet bull off the leash for the latest visit to the china shop?

Coasters are not effeminate.

Coasters are not irrational.

Coasters may not be necessary–but you won’t know until you don’t use one. So why take the risk, especially on the chance that you might unnecessarily offend a friend?

But stubborn we are–all children of Adam and Eve.

Yet, if you want to get back into the Garden, you need to swallow your pride and discover the location of the forbidden apples.

 

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