Deacon

Deacon: (n) an appointed or elected officer of a church

I can’t remember who told me this, so I apologize for not being able to attribute it to someone directly.

But in describing the chain of command, this individual told me that it is divided into three sections:

At the bottom is de-shit-cleaner.

Next up, de-shit-kicker.

And at the top is de-shit.

Perhaps a little over-simplistic, but in every organization, there seems to be someone who believes themselves to be in charge, another individual who determines themselves to be the enforcer of the rules, and then, a person or people who spend all their time cleaning up the messes and making the daily bread bake well.

This latter would be the deacon of a church.

A church is like any other corporation—in the sense that it has a mission which is often sullied by repetitive duties.

It may be fine to be the priest, delivering the sermons or the elder, telling everybody where to stand and where to go.

But someone has to unclog the women’s toilet at least twice a month.

Someone has to gather up all the bulletins left behind by parishioners, who swore they wanted to “take it with them.”

Someone has to check the hymn books for crayon marks from bored children.

Someone has to break up the rift between two sisters in Christ who have, for some reason or another, just discovered they can’t stand one another.

There is a deacon in every situation.

It is the person who knows that worshipping God does not make people godly.

They are still full of themselves, mistakes, carelessness and apathy—as they head out the door and wiggle and wobble back to their private retreats.

Day of Judgment

Day of Judgment: (n) Judgment Day.

I was recently accosted by a religious fanatic.

He explained to me the error of my thinking.

For I personally favor believing in God without needing a devil, enjoying Earth, not worried about heaven, and dying without expecting too much.

This particular advocate for the Good Book was completely frustrated by my ignorance and heresy.

Here’s what he told me:

“You can’t have God without the devil. You can’t have heaven without hell. And you certainly don’t have redemption without sin.”

He was pretty sure he was right. He was more than willing to offer me many examples to prove his point.

He reminded me of a man I once met at a shopping mall, who wanted to sell me a magical pan. He knew everything that pan did and was even willing to demonstrate its uniqueness.

But at the end of the whole experience, since I really didn’t need a pan and wasn’t planning on using it, I walked away as he spoke to my retreating form. “You just don’t know what you’re losing!”

When I think of the possibility of a Judgment Day, I consider that judging, which I have been taught to avoid, will apparently, in that last hour, be levied against me.

And what will God judge?

My motivations?

My energy?

My persistence?

My intentions?

My results?

My Biblical prowess?

Or my church attendance?

Then I asked myself, what kind of individual would be interested in that kind of stuff?

Also, what kind of heaven would that individual really have to offer?

So I set it to the side.

If there is going to be a Day of Judgment, when I arrive, there won’t be any time to cram for the test or make up credits.

I will be who I will be.

I will know what I know.

And I will be evaluated on what I held dear.

 

Daughter

Daughter: (n) a female child or person in relation to her parents.

 I think I spent more time studying daughters, even though I only had sons, than I might have if my children had been girls.

There is a tremendous responsibility for a man to understand a woman.

That’s why it is so sinister for the sarcastic theater and the socially stunted church to make relationships between men and women seem so unlikely and unfulfilling.

Six sons came through my house.

Three of them were my natural children and three were my godsons.

I immediately realized they were not getting adequate training on their relationships with the female gender by hanging out with friends, watching television or attending school.

For some reason, we are completely satisfied to make male and female conflict a part of our culture, holding gender equality at bay.

I don’t know what I would tell my daughters about boys. But I do know what I told my young gentlemen about women.

I explained that it’s set up perfectly.

I mean, the way a woman is constructed is ideal for interaction.

It is polite to start at the head and go to the toe.

In her head is a brain.

Get to know it. Study it. Have sympathy for the struggles. Help her ease out of her culture, where her upbringing was short-sighted, and allow her to do the same for you.

Next are the eyes.

How do they see? Is it a small world? A big world? Or a dangerous world?

The lips.

What does she speak? Do you easily discern her messages? Or are they too garbled and unclear due to her training? Help her find her voice.

How about those ears?

Women, like men, have not been instructed to listen. They envision a verbal conflict with the opposite sex, so they are prone to close off their hearing. Learn to hear each other.

A chin.

It’s easy nowadays to see that chin sink over the simplest of offenses. For some reason, depression has become synonymous with “deep thinking.” Foolishness. If a man loves a woman and a woman loves a man, they help each other keep that chin up, and eyes on the goals.

The heart.

Fortunately, it’s near the breast. I always told my boys to consider that the appreciation they have for the female breast is also expressed through a respect for her heart—her feelings.

As you can see, as you ease down from the top, love has a chance to grow. So by the time you get to the flesh and the sexuality, there’s a purpose for it.

On the other hand, if you start there, you will wade into emotions you don’t understand.

As for the legs and feet, they take her where she decides to go. She should have her own determination, based upon the joys of sex, which were enhanced by having an understanding of emotions in learning how to “face” one another.

I never had a daughter, but I probably would tell her much the same.

We are not as different from each other as advertised.

What keeps men and women apart is a calloused indifference—because we think we know everything.

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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Counterculture

Counterculture: (n) the culture and lifestyle of those people who reject or oppose the dominant values and behavior of society.

Take any thirty years.

Yes—look back in your history book and isolate off a thirty year period and you will realize that every group of people who was deemed to be “counterculture” was ignored for ten years, rejected for the next ten, but by the third decade had gained position, if not predominance.

It also holds true for our common values. Case in point:

Divorce used to be never spoken of—ignored, if you will. Then for a while it was rejected as unacceptable. And now, it’s not only a part of our society, but it is generally assumed that any human being over the age of thirty-five has divorced at least once.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

An obvious example is the gay community, which was at first ignored, then heavily rejected, and now appears deeply rooted in the fabric of our culture.

Yet there are two outstanding exceptions to this theory—black people and women.

Our American citizens who happen to have black skin seem to have stalled somewhere between rejection and inclusion.

And women continue to be bandied about as sexual objects instead of living, breathing sisters in our fight for sanity.

’Tis perplexing. It certainly gives some food for thought.

For when I was a young man, the war in Vietnam was a symbol of courage and American will to fight communism. Enter the counterculture of anti-war. Now, the Indochina conflict is basically a very dark joke.

I, for one, am going to be very careful to reject to anything as counterculture—because even the faith I hold dear, which proudly meets in churches every Sunday, was once condemned to be a counterculture, secretly fellowshipping in the tombs.


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Correspond

Correspond: (v) to communicate by exchange of letters

Dear You:

This is me.

I am writing you for many reasons.

Well, that’s not true.

The main reason I’m writing you is that I don’t want you to ignore me.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Each one of us is so busy that we soon will forget people we know unless we purposely correspond with them. We may protest and say that’s impossible, but certainly, “out of sight, out of mind.”

Pretty soon, who knows? In a moment of feeble-mindedness, you might actually fail to recall my name.

I don’t want you to do that.

I’m too important to me for you to forget me. Do you follow that?

And I hope you are too important to you to have me forget you.

This is why we contact one another. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s done through a letter, an email or a text—just as long as I know that you know that I am here and you are aware.

Yes, all forms of communication, at their root, are insecurity speaking out.

After all, how much time would we spend thinking about God if there were no Bible? And how much Bible would we read if there were no church? And how many churches would have people in attendance if they weren’t going there to meet up with people they hope wouldn’t forget them?

We can either deny selfishness, or we can use it to help us understand the selfishness that exists in others. Once we forgive ourselves for selfishness, we might have a bit of leniency left over to forgive one another.

I correspond because I do not want to be forgotten. In the process I am able to communicate to you that you are well-thought-of and treasured.

How can this system be wrong?

How can this be anything other than the definition of the selfishness of humanity put into good practice?

Dear You,

This is me.

May we never forget us.


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Concession

Concession: (n) something that is granted

A few obvious but still needfully shared concessions:

  1. I am not nearly as smart as I think, nor even as you project.
  2. I am not a stud. I don’t know a stud. What is a stud?
  3. Diets don’t work, but when I eat less I weigh less.
  4. Talent is overrated, leaving creativity orphaned.
  5. I am not the best at anything but in a pinch can pass.
  6. There is no difference between a Republican and a Democrat when they are both blind to real human need.
  7. Church does not make people better. Just pious.
  8. As long as men are trying to be superior, women will never be able to pull themselves up to equality.
  9. Even though I like to watch it, football is a dangerous sport.
  10. I can’t taste the beer in my bratwurst.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

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Mr. Kringle's Tales...26 Stories 'Til Christmas

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Communion

Communion: (n) the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.

I get the same sensation when I go to Red Lobster with a friend and he or she insists, with a giggle, as the cheddar bay biscuits arrive, and they gleefully take one from the basket, that, “This is what Red Lobster is all about!”

I nod (knowing that soon I will probably nod off.)

Red Lobster is not about the cheddar bay biscuits. It’s about the seafood.

Just like baseball games are not about the peanuts and the Cracker Jacks. There’s a ball, a bat and a game.

And marriage is not about starting a family. It’s really about how much you enjoy having sex with this one person and hope you can keep it up for the rest of your life while you have a family.

I find myself going to church from time to time–reluctantly.

I don’t like that about me. It seems jaded. In this season of agnosticism it smacks of the predictable.

But you see, in church there’s just too much emphasis on the cheddar bay biscuits, the Cracker Jacks and the family.

Many of them center their whole agenda around communion–a symbolistic representation of the blood and body of Jesus Christ, which he gave for the sins of mankind.

It’s disconcerting to me.

First there’s the thought that I am such a piece of shit that God had to kill His own kid to try to make up for my buffoonery.

Then there’s the notion that a dynamic spirit which walked in the flesh among us for thirty-three years only gained significance in the last few hours that he hung, as an alleged criminal, on a cross.

What an insult to all things loving and eternal.

Yet if you lodge an objection, somehow or another you become apostate–which, if you don’t know what that means, is the religious system’s way of telling you that you don’t belong.

The truth of the matter is, I admire the hell out of Jesus.

Long before he bled, he led me into an understanding of how we might begin to see God’s will done on Earth as it is in heaven.

 

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Clientele

Clientele: (n) the customers

Long ago in a universe that was far-out, but not far away, there existed a gathering of human souls called “church.”

Like every idea which is acted out by human beings, it was flawed from inception.

But at the root was a watering hole, where people could get together, rub up against each other, feel uncomfortable and blessed at the same
time, and walk out at the end of an hour inspired and also entertained because the children’s choir broke rank and failed to deliver the perfect performance that the young director from college had envisioned.

It was elegantly imperfect–which made it adorable.

The laughing was equal to the crying.

The “amens” were matched by groans of conviction.

It might have continued in that format as a great, uplifting experience had the accountants and the fanatics stayed away.

The church treasurers became very concerned that all bills be paid and money set aside for the carpet that would need to be purchased three years from now.

And then there were the fanatics–those who discovered that if they could get people to be afraid or nervous, they could stimulate attendance and keep people “fired up.”

Somewhere along the line, this organism called “the church” welcomed in nasty clientele.

These individuals were pious, knowing more about Bible verses than life, caring more about the vestibule than the hungry and homeless in the community, and were determined to maintain purity instead of welcoming the stained.

The innocent were targeted.

Races were rejected.

Preferences were labeled “abominable.”

The church became a repellent to anyone who wanted to find a location for a soul-stirring, emotional rejuvenation–a penitentiary full of guards with nobody willing to be prisoners.

Procedure became more important than salvation.

So the more humble folk, who knew they were sinners but prayed for God’s grace, gradually slipped out the front door, to never return again, leaving behind a quorum of quasi-religious critics.

Is it possible that the clientele could be changed and we could return to an assembly that was meant for humans instead of one that tries to gear its programming only to an Almighty God?

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Clap

Clap: (v) to applaud

I have spent much of my human journey with two little toes in heaven and the rest of my footage on Earth.

Those two little toes did not go to market. They went to church.

It’s where I sang my first song.

It’s where I met my first girlfriend.

And it’s still one of my favorite spots for spontaneous dozing.

One of the things I discovered about the experience of “church attendance ” is that there is a wide range of opinions on many subjects.

Clapping would be one.

Some churches believe it’s sacrilegious to express appreciation, worship or excitement by striking palms. They find it Biblically and spiritually unsound.

Other churches clap so much that you can’t hear anything else going on. They clap for everything. It’s kind of a “clapping without ceasing.”

As a person who shares his talent in a church, I have to admit to myself that I am also a performer and an artist. (Although I think the word “artist” is overused–even by me.)

As a performer, I do have an ego. Ego is not a bad thing–it’s that little “Nancy-cheerleader” who keeps us from jumping off a cliff just because we had a bad day. (“It might get better tomorrow. Yea, team!”)

When you perform a song, come to the end, and receive silence, it is not golden.

It’s rather moldy.

Ashen.

Empty.

I’m told I’m supposed to sing to the glory of God. But it was God who said, “Clap your hands, all ye people.”

If you’re afraid I’ll get the big-head if you applaud my efforts, then you should pray for me. Don’t snub me.

Until we understand that the Universe pushes energy one direction and there is supposed to be a push coming back from the other way, or else something is afoul, we may just continue to believe that God is so insecure that He is frustrated with anyone else receiving adequate appreciation for his efforts.

Since I wouldn’t even have lunch with someone who’s cantankerous, I choose to believe that when I perform, God applauds, the angels screech…and the congregation should follow suit.

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