Davis, Jefferson

Davis, Jefferson: (n) man who served as president of the Confederacy throughout its existence.

I’m not brave.

I am not a warrior for the truth.

I am not the kind to run up, state my opinion and stand my ground.

I prefer to appear from behind with a squirt gun, spray everyone and scamper away.

But there are certain things that elevate my consciousness, stimulate my “god-image” and demand that I build a fortress.

I spent most of my adult life living in the American South.

On one occasion, I overheard a gentleman talking about hosting a “minstrel show” in the community. I immediately assumed I misunderstood what he said, but when he sounded it out for me slowly, I realized that he intended on producing a program that was begun in the Confederacy after the Civil War, which allowed white people to dress up in blackface and make fun of the Negroes.

I was confused.

I thought minstrel shows had been outlawed years ago.

Now, here was the word, flying through the air as if it had wings.

For a moment I was emblazoned with a ready hostility—but still, tepidly opined, “Aren’t those illegal?”

The man became indignant and explained that minstrel shows were part of the heritage of the South and gave the people in that region a sense of pride over what had been pursued attempted by President Jefferson Davis and all the Rebels.

“What was that?” I asked.

“Freedom,” he replied.

Even if I were to buy in to the idea that Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis were just trying to “protect their way of life,” I would still be left with a stark anomaly.

If the Civil War was all about “state’s rights,” standing up to Washington, D. C., and not being pushed around anymore, why not just free the slaves and change the dynamic?

If it really wasn’t a malicious adventure to keep four million kidnapped human beings in chains and forced labor, why not just take the higher ground and convince the entire world that you were merely out to sanctify your choices instead of imprison human flesh?

Jefferson Davis was not a nice man.

I suppose if you sat down and had a drink with him and shared some boiled crawdads, you might find him amiable.

But on the inside was a greedy, corrupt man who insisted that black humans were mongrels and needed white people to help them reason.

And he did all of this standing in front of a church, holding a Bible in his hand.

David

David: (n) a king of Israel.

Faith might occasionally be interesting if it weren’t so damn religious.

Rather than being a state of spirit, where we seek to know ourselves better and understand God by loving other people, it is turned into a mortuary, where we sit and perform all sorts of religious exercises that make yoga appear to be not such a stretch.

One of the more interesting characters in the Bible is David.

He’s not interesting because he prays, and he’s not fascinating because he wanted to build God’s temple.

He’s intriguing because any time, day or night, when he removes his human will from religious pursuit, he goes to town—just a’sinnin’ away.

David knew how to repent. That’s how he pleased God.

I understand David. When he saw a naked woman bathing, he immediately conjured a plan to get inside her.

You see—that’s human.

I am not impressed with people who only sin and am completely terrified of those who claim to refrain from it.

David has a good story even without the Bible.

Why? Because David was human and didn’t try to pretend he wasn’t.

He was a rotten father yet never touted his children as being anything but the renegades they were.

He had a huge ego, which created problems with the King of Israel before him.

Early on, he had a really good day when he accurately tossed a stone and killed a really bad giant.

It doesn’t happen again.

But I guess if you do it once, it can last for a lifetime.

He is called “the apple of God’s eye.”

It isn’t because he was very religious.

It isn’t because he never sinned.

It isn’t because he went throughout Israel, trying to get everybody to be judgmental and mean.

David found a gear.

He knew exactly how far to go before he drove himself off the cliff.

Short of that disaster, he stopped and got himself right.

It’s a great talent.

Because he understood sin, he didn’t judge the sinner.

And because he understood grace, he did not advertise the sin.

Darker

Darker: (adj) having less light

Let us take a moment to consider, or even analyze, the law of attraction. It works on a simple premise: whatever attracts is pursued to gain the interest which brings, through the majority, that which rules.

For instance, I realize that the writers of the Declaration of Independence, the framers of the Constitution, the authors of the Bible, and those who penned music or dreamed about the ideals of a novel…

Well, you know who I’m talking about. People who were trying to be entertaining and inspiring, while lacing it with a bit of the eternal.

These pioneers are often shocked that their message is trimmed down to the darker portions.

I would assume if you went through the Constitution, that most of the precepts were meant to be positive, granting justice and opportunity for all.

But what fun is that?

Likewise, how enduring would the Bible be if it only talked about “loving your neighbor as yourself” instead of isolating off the reasons for damnation?

One year I bought a plastic bowling set for my son on his eighth birthday. I envisioned the children at his party setting up the pins and rolling the plastic ball, keeping score and competing with one another.

Yet when I walked in a half hour later, I found them all, each one with pin in hand, hitting one another. Occasionally, one of them would toss the black ball at a friend, just to vary the pain.

It isn’t that they didn’t understand.

All of them had seen people bowl.

It’s just that the pins made excellent weapons—and since they were plastic, the children could pull up short of lethal without being severely punished by their parents.

It takes a lot of initiative and determination to bring out the better parts of any idea. For it seems the inclination of the human race is to take something that was meant for good and find the darker twist.

I’ll tell you of a certainty—if we had used the deep fryer for French fries, fish, chicken and onion rings, the delicious coating would have been permissible and probably wouldn’t kill us.

But we found the darker side and decided that if fish was good fried, why not chocolate cake?

 

Dark Ages

Dark Ages: (n) the whole of the Middle Ages, from about a.d. 476 to the Renaissance.

The difference between religion and the secular world is that the secular world scares the shit out of you.

Religion chooses to scare the shit into you.

Recently at a convention, a woman spoke aloud in front of one and all, and proclaimed, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world where our faith, church and worship of God was in control?”

I held my tongue.

I did real well until I saw her out in the lobby, surrounded by gullible young kids, and repeated her statement.

I quietly stepped in, but resolutely pointed out, “My dear, we already had that opportunity to see what life would be like when God was worshipped and the church was honored.”

“It was called the Dark Ages.”

Much to my surprise, some of the older students started laughing.

She was upset—though I don’t know whether she caught my meaning.

“The Dark Ages” describes a time when the human race selected everything off the menu of possibility that was unnatural or unhealthy.

  • Blind devotion to God.
  • Kings and Queens in charge of lands and castles.
  • The rest of the citizens living as serfs to bless the church and the ruling class.
  • Ignorance promoted as unfaltering faith.
  • And a Bible blindly revered—even though nobody was allowed to read it.

It is easy to imagine a Dark Ages arriving upon us again.

It commences whenever we believe that one human being is better than other human beings and should be followed without question, because the church tells us that he or she is supreme.

And they know this to be true—because “God has ruled it to be so.”

Damn

Damn: (v) to declare something to be bad, unfit, invalid

 “…and he that believeth not shall be damned.”

I think I was eight years old when I read that for the first time.

I wondered why.

Why does God need to damn anyone?

I wasn’t sure what I believed about God. It is an evolution. Matter of fact, to this day our love affair is a private matter.

But I was pretty sure, from my understanding, that He was “man enough” to survive an unbeliever.

After all, I do. There are many people who don’t believe in me. Some of them have gone so far as to declare their unbelief and pronounce damnation on my soul. But I never had the inclination to toss my own rendition of ultimate rejection back their way.

It’s not because I’m noble. It just seems very childish to be really mad at someone because they don’t believe in you.

The instinct may be there.

Perhaps hurt feelings.

A bit of confusion.

But fury? Rage? I don’t think so.

And why would God, who has so many devotees, focus in on the few who decide to be reluctant, or even rebellious?

Why would God damn anyone?

Hell, if He started damning people, I don’t know where He would stop.

So yes—I’m pretty sure if damnation is part of the nature of God, we all are lost and abandoned.

No, I just have to believe that somebody wrote that. Maybe they were trying to scare their congregation into being faithful. Maybe they wanted their race to seem better than others who did not believe.

I don’t know.

I just don’t reckon God is so insecure that He has to retaliate apathy with judgment.

Wouldn’t it be funny if each one of us received an eternity that matched our own choices? Those who believe heaven is “streets of gold and mansions” would discover that they are surrounded with great wealth—but nothing really to do.

And those who believe we come back again through reincarnation to be other creatures would find themselves on that merry-go-round.

And of course, those who believe there is no God, and the grave is the end of the journey, would be allowed to decay in peace.

Daddy

Daddy: (n) diminutive of Dad

Approaching my produce man at the grocery store, I asked:

“When is watermelon season?”

Without thinking, he replied, “When the watermelon show up.”

I suppose when you practically live in a grocery store, you judge the seasons by what comes off the back of the truck.

In the midst of being a parent, there is a brief vapor of time when your child recognizes you, proclaims you and refers to you as “Daddy.”

It is such a safe, sweet location that you’re tempted to encourage it to expand its borders to broader vistas.

But you can’t mess with it.

It happens during a child’s perfect age–when “Dada” has been abandoned and right before you become the generic “Dad.”

Just hearing the word lets you know how valuable you are to the child.

It gives you a reassuring hug in your soul that he is not plotting, smoking, drinking and thinking of new ways to download pornography.

For after all, you are “Daddy”—”Dada” who has become so familiar that you have gained shape and presence.

Sometimes the word “Daddy” is followed by the young child climbing up on your lap, and without being prompted, giving you a hug around the neck, which lasts a little bit longer than you thought possible.

The little one calling you Daddy believes you to be a god (or at least, Santa Claus’s right-hand man).

He is astounded at how you leave the house and come back with treasures—toys, pizza rolls and little tiny things you promised you’d get if you had time.

Daddy—a word that brings tears to the eyes of any father who knows that soon his power and authority will be challenged by the revolt of adolescence.

But for now, it’s Daddy.

For now, there’s a desire to be close.

For now, the child believes he has come from you and never wants to leave.

Maybe that’s why the Bible tells us that we should approach God by saying, “Abba, Abba.”

Which, by the way, translated from the Greek, means “Daddy, Daddy.”

 

Cynosure

Cynosure: (n) something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance, interest, etc.:

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had a meeting with a fellow who dubbed himself “Bundy Boy.”

I don’t know why he selected this handle since it was nowhere near his name. But he was young, energetic, and full of what the old folks used to call “piss and vinegar.”

He agreed to have a meeting with me because he was thinking about promoting our little music group and taking over management of us—thereby assisting us in getting national attention, a recording contract and, well, just something far away from our poverty.

I remember it so well because he had a spiel. He called it “The Five Thingalings.”

I wanted to laugh, but after all, I was in a subordinate position, sitting in the office of a guy who might be able to throw some light in the direction of my shade.

It was the first time I ever heard this word: cynosure.

He asked me if I knew what it meant. I didn’t. So he explained, “It’s about what’s bright and shiny. Humans are human, but they’re also beings—and as beings, they’re attracted to… are you ready?” he asked me.

I was. He continued, “They’re attracted to sex, silliness, a sad story, beauty and money.”

I thought about it, had no reason to disagree, and so I nodded my head.

Confident that I was on his wavelength, he proceeded. “Cynosure is when you turn the lights up so people can see more clearly what you have to offer. That’s why you’ve got to be sexy. Everybody likes sexy. Even religious people like sexy. They don’t talk about it—but they think about it. And everybody likes to be silly. They pretend to be serious, but after a short time, they’re ready for a good giggle.”

“But,” he went on, “we do like a sad story. It cleans us out—makes us feel we’re really sensitive because we care about what happened to somebody on the rocky road of life. And that story—that story I’m telling you about—it’s much more powerful if it’s being shared from a beautiful package. Just as people like sexy, they like pretty. In their minds, sexy and pretty go together. Nobody feels sexy if they don’t feel pretty, or handsome. And of course, money. Even the Bible says that money answers everything. If you think about it, any problem that comes up in your mind—well, a nice stack of cash will go a long way to solving it.”

After Bundy Boy finished his speech, he sat and looked at me.

It was time for him to offer his evaluation of my “package.”

He was kind, merciful, but truthful.

“My friend,” he said, “you aren’t sexy. Now you might be silly, but if you’re silly and not sexy, it comes off goofy. I suppose you do have a sad story, but when you’re not sexy and not silly, and you have a sad story, people think to themselves, ‘well, of course. He’s a loser.’ And if you’re not sexy, the chance that you’re beautiful is small. And even though we pretend we like beauty on the inside, it’s only something your mother actually feels. And,” he concluded, “by looking at your clothes—especially your shoes—I can tell. You’ve got no money.”

He concluded, “So even though I like your music and I do like you, I can’t work with you. I can’t bring the magic. I can’t cynosure you.”

He stood to his feet and walked toward the door, which I assumed meant that I was also to stand and depart. He patted me on the back and offered a lame, “If there’s anything I can ever do, let me know.”

So I have gone through the majority of my life with no cynosure.

It’s been painful—but I have managed to eke out an existence.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cultivate

Cultivate: (v) to promote or improve growth by labor and attention.

It is unfortunate that most religious individuals are so busy toeing the line—seeking God, criticizing sin and thinking of heaven—that they miss out on much of the beautiful poetry and insight contained in the Bible.

The Bible is like every other book I’ve read: there are parts I like, characters I enjoy, story lines I follow and truths I garner.

Within the Good Book, there is the parable of the farmer who plants seed in the ground. Then he sleeps—but he rises night and day to discover that the seeds have grown, but he does not really know how.

In the midst of that parable, this line appears:

“The Earth produces by itself.”

It’s so true.

We, as humans, actually rebel against the obvious, which steers us toward being kind and generous.

We have to be bratty to not see that the Earth itself teaches us to recognize one another in fairness and justice.

And we have to be total ignoramuses to resist the inclination to love rather than kill and destroy.

Our job is to plant seed.

After this, the Earth itself will show us how these efforts need to be cultivated:

  • What needs to be done to become an entrepreneur
  • What is required to be an excellent parent.
  • And the next steps needed to cultivate any venture and take it to a new level of growth.

Sometimes in America we forget to cultivate the way the Earth tells us. Then the weeds start showing up, and we begin believing that the weeds are in control.

Too bad. It’s a simple little system.

Plant your seeds.

Rise up and be astounded over the growth.

Then let the Earth itself tell you what to do next.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crew

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crew: (n) a group of persons involved in a particular kind of work together:

It is very difficult to imagine or even conjecture on what a gentleman living in the late eighteenth century might have envisioned or believed since people from that era were partakers of nearly everything—from opium to residual witch burning.

So when our modern politicians and scholars sit down and discuss the Constitution, this disadvantage immediately comes to the forefront.

Here is the document they left us…

… And what in the hell does it mean in relationship to our country and our lives going forward?

I certainly think we suffer the same entanglement and mystery when it comes to the Bible. I can’t possibly ascertain what a Moses or Paul might consider appropriate if he found himself viewing our present society.

But one thing that is true in both the U. S. Constitution and the Bible, which we can pretty well hang our three-corner hat or our nomadic robe on, is that these predecessors thought we were to be a crew.

The way they set up the government and the way the scriptures lay out commonality among the masses certainly beckons us to find the crew, join the crew, contribute to the crew and don’t try so hard to escape the crew.

The problem with politics is that it has become an island to itself.

There is no crew, just chiefs seeking titles and position.

And the problem with religion is that the adherents and faithful jockey for position for God’s favor instead of being happy to be part of a crew as His children.

I do not trust anyone who feels he or she is too good, too enlightened, too experienced, too educated, too racially superior or too manly to be part of a general crew, equals working in a common direction.

I seek such a crew.

I desire to get behind those who can do what I do as well or better.

In the pursuit of freedom, we have promoted individuality to an extreme.

Because of this, we have no crew to get the work done.


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Coshocton

Coshocton: (n) a city in E central Ohio.

My body was twenty years old, my heart, fifteen, my soul, sixty-five, and my mind, ten.

Yeah. That’s about right.

I had started a music group and was convinced it was just a matter of time until we would have a record contract, dazzling the airwaves, and in the process also impress my family members who thought I should get a job at a local department store called Buckeye Mart.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Gigs were hard to come by. We were performing contemporary music with a rock edge, but it had a Christian message. In that season, those elements were not allowed to combine.

So I was absolutely thrilled when there was a Bible college in Coshocton, Ohio, which contacted us and said they wanted us to come and play for their morning chapel.

I had long hair, and our group dressed like hippies who had put together their wardrobe with an Ohio mindset. We headed off to the college—which was rather conservative, and upon arriving, immediately ran into trouble.

The dean of students did not think it was appropriate to place us on a “platform of importance” when they had a dress code at the school which included that all men must wear their hair off their ears.

I kept my cool. This was the “old soul” part of me. I explained to them, in a comical way, that I was going to use part of the twenty-five-dollar honorarium check to get a haircut, because up to this point, I had not been able to afford one.

They looked at me with sympathetic eyes and actually bought the story—so much so that I was embarrassed that I lied to them.

Nevertheless, the Dean of Students included that part of our interchange in the introduction before we came up to sing our two songs.

I should say “prepared to sing our two songs,” because when we began, the bass guitar and drums were so foreign that the teaching staff came forward, objected and stopped the program.

The students were alarmed and perhaps offended that we were not able to continue but had drunk enough of the Kool-Aid to remain silent.

The ten-year-old mind and the fifteen-year-old emotions got together—and I threw a shit fit right there in front of everyone. I quoted Bible, Bill of Rights, Constitution and even something I had read in their school charter about “allowing the Spirit to move.”

It didn’t make any difference.

But apparently, I was eloquent enough that they decided to give us the twenty-five dollar check anyway, so it wouldn’t look like they were welchers and had cheated us.

So having only sung a half of a chorus on one song, we packed up our equipment and headed down the road.

By the way—I never got the haircut.


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