Coulter

Coulter: (n) a surname

I have made it a practice to never insert someone’s real name into one of my essays or articles. Whatever that person and I chose to do in our adult moments of living shouldn’t be regaled for all the world to read. At least I owe them that.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

But I could not help myself when I rolled across the name Coulter, and realized that a very dear friend by that name once strolled into my life and took me from a status of nearly homeless to a position in which my music and art was given the chance to be considered as viable.

Coulter was my friend. He was part of a music group I joined, and in no time at all they had me singing his vocal parts. Rather than being angry or jealous, Coulter was appreciative and supportive.

He tried many things. Coulter’s problem was that he was good at everything he attempted.

For instance, he started working at a doughnut shop and within two months, they made him manager. (I benefited from that experience, because my wife and I were without an actual place to sleep at night, nor regular food.) Coulter always provided a big box of day-old doughnuts, which he set outside the back door of the establishment with his blessing)

He always believed that underneath my neediness—and sometimes grubbiness—there was someone worthy to be heard. Eventually, because of his love of the entertainment business, he started his own agency to book acts. Completely in line with his employment history, in no time at all he had a stable of artists and was scheduling them into everything from conventions to churches to county fairs.

He helped our fledgling group along, throwing us work every now and then, and when I wrote my first musical theater piece, he became so excited that he found ten investors, who gave a thousand dollars each to fund the effort.

He not only helped me put together the cast for the production, but also got on the phone and scheduled dates in twenty-five cities around the country, so we could go and perform it.

He was so enthralled with the music from the play that he wanted to promote to large publishing concerns. All he needed from me were lead sheets and chord charts. Unfortunately, my technical knowledge of music was limited, and I ended up handing him materials which were pitiful and comical at the same time.

But he never held it against me. He never became enraged or upset about anything.

Even when we were in the midst of promoting our musical play, and a minister who believed he possessed both the knowledge of God’s will and the right to judge others who didn’t understand, attacked Coulter because he heard rumors that my friend was a homosexual (that’s back when they were homosexuals instead of gay) Coulter refused to retaliate.

Even though I was a stupid kid with a gnat’s worth of sense, I defended him and stood up against the Pharisee. It’s one of the better things I ever did in my life.

I don’t know where Coulter is today—or even if he is today.

But wherever he may be, I want him to know that his good buddy turned out okay—due in large part to a friend who arrived in the early days with a box of doughnut—just at the right time.


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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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Colleague

Colleague: (n) a person with whom one works

A colleague is what we call a friend we go into business with…and it’s the first day.

Day 4 we’re calling the same person a “partner.”

Day 10, the word “adversary” slips in.

And by Day 30, “son of a bitch” seems appropriate.

Thus is the evolution of human involvement.

We always start off with our ideals and goals way too high. Putting ourselves on such a pinnacle makes the fall from such heights nearly lethal.  I, on the other
hand, like to perch my dreams on mushroom caps–awfully close to the ground, with just a little rise and a nice wide seat for my big butt.

I realize that the chance of two people remaining colleagues while still abiding on Planet Earth is similar to finding a movie you really enjoy at the Cannes Film Festival. (I mean, you think you should enjoy the flicks. It’s pointed out to you why you should appreciate them, but there still seems to be something missing.)

And what’s missing with the concept of “colleague” is that we’re very human, and tend to be human with each other at the same time. For instance, if one person was human and the other a bit divine, it would be great. The idea of both parties being divine at the same time is, of course, ludicrous.

What normally happens is that two human beings arrive at the same situation, with raw human emotion–and act like monkeys. Perhaps I insult the little apes.

We revert. We begin to feel that if we don’t have top billing, we don’t have any billing.

Finding a colleague is similar to establishing a relationship with God.

You have to understand that He (or She) has a will.

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Atonal

Atonal: (adj) music not written in any key or mode.dictionary with letter A

His name was Jim.

He was a huge lug of a man–more or less a teddy bear stuffed in a human skeleton, sporting incomplete sideburns.

He wanted to sing. Jim had never sung before.

There were two reasons for that. Growing up as a rough and tumble boy, he felt it was “sissy” to sing, but secondly, he could not carry a tune.

I was young, optimistic and also thought it would be great to make a few dollars giving singing lessons to Jim, with the aspiration that by his sister’s wedding, he would be able to share a song at the reception.

I thought it would be no big deal. I believed that anybody could eventually follow a melody if they just concentrated hard enough on the structure.

Jim was atonal.

Jim understood that there were tones, but his voice was either in rebellion to them or had prematurely gone deaf.

So I worked with him for at least two months, and even though I greatly enjoyed the influx of cash to soothe my weary budget, I eventually had to sit down with him and explain that even though God gives gifts sometimes, that we must be the ones to mature these offerings, to make them acceptable.

When I shared this he looked at me blankly. So realizing that I was not making my point very well, I bluntly spurted out, “Jim, you just can’t sing.”

He was curious if I meant that this was a temporary problem which could be alleviated through further practice. It was time to use even more candor.

“Jim, you will never sing. As a matter of fact, it’s God’s will that you stop trying.”

For a moment his feelings were bruised, but then he started to giggle.

After the giggling subsided, he looked at me with his eyebrows furrowed, and challenged, “Does this mean I get my money back?”

 

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Antinomy

dictionary with letter A

Antinomy: (a) a contradiction between two beliefs or conclusions; an oxymoron.

It really doesn’t matter whether someone is intellectual, spiritual or hedonistic.

There is one antinomy that plagues our race with such ambiguity that it causes us to become overly zealous in our certainty or nearly suicidal in our despair.

We just can’t make up our minds whether life is based on freewill or providence.

By “providence” I am speaking of destiny, or a pre-determined course for our life.

Even though we exert great independence about our choices, we also, at the same time, continue to insist that our lives are guided by forces beyond our control.

It’s what causes an atheist to ask, after viewing a horrible disaster, “Why didn’t God do something?”

And at the same time, it motivates a person of faith to proclaim that some irrelevant and maybe even preventable piece of anarchy “must have been God’s will.”

So as different as we may consider ourselves to be, we are trapped in the same flypaper as hapless insects, at the mercy of universal stickiness.

It’s utterly ridiculous.

Yet it is difficult to find anyone who will take a stand and admit they are solely “freewill” in their belief, or that they contend that everything for our lives.has been pre-destined.

When you persist in promoting this oxymoron of “freewill/destiny,” you always end up with a conclusion that nothing could have been done and that the purposes–divine or secular–were just enacted.

So let me be bold:

I am a freewill creature.

99% of my problems are caused by my poor choices, ignorance or stubbornness.

Even those things I deem to be accidents, when later reflected upon, were quite avoidable. For I would much rather take responsibility for the sum total of the additions of my life than superstitiously gaze into a crystal ball, wondering what the gods have devised for me.

Life clears up really quickly when you understand the concept of freewill. You don’t fear devils, you don’t summon angels, and you can alleviate most of your finger-pointing.

For after all, the only way to empower human beings is to let them know that their destiny is forged … one decision at a time.

 

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al Qaeda

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

al Qaeda: (n.) a militant Islamic fundamentalist group, founded in the late 1980’s to combat the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Certain words, when spoken aloud, evoke a nasty trail of thoughts in the brain and a bad taste in the mouth.

Such is al Qaeda.

We certainly don’t like them. Matter of fact, it would be downright un-American to concede a single point of value to such a militant, religiously intolerant group of fanatics.

Yet I have to ask myself, what causes them to go from being a conglomeration of human beings who claim a belief in God, to becoming an angry mob, organizing themselves to wreak havoc on the infidel?

I’m not suggesting that we have mercy for al Qaeda, but rather, proposing that if we truly want to be against such judmentalism, that the best way we can purge the earth of their sort is to cleanse our own souls of the stupidities that lie within us which have any resemblance to their destructive system.

What do I know about al Qaeda?

1. They’re sure they’re right.

Can I get rid of that in me? Can I maintain enough uncertainty that I am still a vessel of learning instead of a creature intent on burning?

2. They believe they know God’s will.

I would like to escape that. Honestly, I’m more interested in God’s heart than in His will. I want to know why He created people and sitll loves them, so that I can be creative and loving myself.

3. They believe the end justifies the means.

“If the world is eventually Islamic, what’s the harm in killing off a bunch of people in order to achieve that goal?”

Dear God, take that kind of foolishness away from my thinking. Let me realize that everything in life is about the means, and the ends will probably not be known until long after I’m gone.

4. They think some people are better than others.

The only worthwhile quest left in my life? To spiritually dismantle any notion of my own superiority. No one is better than anyone else.

It is not sufficient to be angry at al Qaeda. We must remove all the seeds from our own soul … those seeds that grow the weeds of such perversion in our own lives.