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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Bandit

Bandit: (n) a robber or outlaw belonging to a gangDictionary B

“Bandit” is normally a word that would appear in the narrative of a novelist who has already used the terms “crook, hoodlum, robber and renegade” and finally resorts to “bandit.”

But “bandit” is an important word, even if I didn’t have to write about it.

Very simply, a bandit is someone who steals from you.

I can honestly apply the term to many Hollywood producers who have certainly been bandits by robbing me of precious hours of time with their inane offerings.

I have also run across bandits in the clergy–who have sucked my life out with some sort of sermon or homily, going down a gospel trail to end up at the cave of misunderstanding.

Let us not forget the politicians, who are bandits not only in their misuse of money, but also by crapping on the honor of representing “we, the people.”

But what really struck me as I looked at this word is how often I might be a bandit.

  • How many times have I quietly taken something that was not mine because no one was looking?
  • How many times have I robbed the needful respect and dignity of other human beings so as to make myself look superior?
  • Can I count the occasions when I have purposefully dominated the conversation for fear that someone else might actually gain a breath of appreciation?

Bandits steal.

Perhaps one of the worst attributes of terrorism is the fact that they disengage us from our sense of well-being and turn us into defensive weaklings, hiding behind our fear.

Bandits are robbers–and as robbers, they are crooked.

And from their crookedness they try to scare us away … from straightening the paths.

 

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Answerable

dictionary with letter A

Answerable: (adj) required to justify or responsible to or for.

I find fads to be comical–mainly because they’re a backlash to some previous popular notion that has now fallen out of favor and is being replaced by what is usually an extreme contradiction.

Many years ago, when ministers were falling from grace or into the arms of women named Grace, a nervous twitch went through the religious community as it tried to make sure such indiscretions didn’t happen again.

It was decided that the fallen preachers had fallen prey to too much freedom–that they were not answerable to anyone else. So for a season an attempt was made to confirm that everyone who was part of the clergy had someone else they had to answer to concerning their actions.

You see, here’s the problem: just because you have an overseer does not mean you’re going to listen to him.

Submission is not placing people under subjugation, but rather, a selection we all make when we realize we need each other and that we are not comfortable with self-sufficiency.

I find myself to be a leader but also a debtor to all sorts of individuals who come my way, who in some way, shape or form, have an excellence that I have not achieved.

I take it very seriously, but not because I’m trying to be answerable. I do so because I become happier when I don’t lean to my own understanding, but instead, absorb all available wisdom.

Just the other day I was driving down the road at about 65 miles an hour, when suddenly a large blackbird flew into my windshield, bounced off and fell onto the road. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw it lying very still and dead.

It bothered me.

I wasn’t concerned that my windshield almost got broken or wondered why the stupid bird decided to kill itself on my watch.

For a few seconds I allowed myself to be the bird–to imagine my own demise as the result of such a tragic flight.

It ached. It hurt.

I didn’t think about it a whole lot more.

But I realized that when something crosses my path, I need to be answerable for how I treat it.

 

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Abstain

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abstain: (v.) to restrain oneself from doing or enjoying something 2. to formally decline to vote either for or against a proposal or motion

l have discovered the quickest way to make sure that I eat a chocolate candy bar in the next twenty-four hours. All I have to do is promise to abstain from them.

This works with almost anything else, too. It’s like the decision to abstain is really similar to purchasing a billboard in your brain to advertise the product. Once I’m convinced that I’m deprived, it’s is an easy journey to convince myself that the deprivation is … terminal.

This is why I have to giggle when people talk to me about encouraging teenagers to take the “vow of abstinence.”

When I was sixteen years old, I only thought about two things: food and sex. And most of the time, in some bizarre way, I mingled them.

So to turn to an adolescent and suggest that he or she should make a vow of celibacy when they are sitting on a raging reservoir of tempestuous hormones is to create the tiny cracks in the dam of their resistance, which will certainly lead to a flood of error.

I raised a whole bunch of boys. Here’s what I found out about their appetites: unless they were totally exhausted, ready to fall into bed, to enter a coma of sleep, they were constantly pursuing, through their curiosity, the entire panorama of feminine mystique. To eliminate the power of exhaustion from a teenager is to grant them license to explore their lusts to an inevitable result. (After all, the Catholic church has learned that asking its clergy to abstain from the “pleasures of the flesh” does NOT mean that they will not find divergent methods.)

Abstain is a funny word–and by funny, I mean strange, unusual and not particularly helpful.

I taught my sons to be busy, active and to burn off a lot of their physical energy instead of sitting around studying all the time, having temptation lure them into porn sites on the Internet. I also instructed them in the intelligence of masturbation as an alternative to becoming a daddy with pimples. It was quite successful.

And when I sensed that they were still bursting and bubbling with sexuality, I sat down with them to talk and giggle about it until they were saturated and once again ready for a good night’s sleep.

Abstain. It’s a word old people impose on the younger of our flock–once the elder rams have lost interest in what now preoccupies the young bucks.

Like I said … it’s a funny word.