Darrow, Clarence

Darrow, Clarence: (N) a lawyer and author of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, he was known as the defense attorney in the Scopes trial.

There are two ways to err:  (1) making a mistake because you’re being too cautious, and (2) the predicament in which your forward thinking causes you to be too radical.

Let us take a historical journey to consider both.

How often have people from our past been wrong because they followed the party line or continued to promote old ideas that were desperately in need of revision?

And how often were some found guilty of being too progressive or too open-minded?

Seriously—think about it.

The man most religious people follow as being the Savior of the world was declared guilty and crucified for sedition.

What is the definition of sedition? It is conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against authority.

So who, really, was Jesus? Was he a religious icon, martyred for the sins of the world? Or did he come to rebel against the religious tyranny which left people ignorant and was brutally judgmental?

In Tennessee there was a court case which has become known as “the Scopes trial.” A science teacher in a high school was arrested and charged with teaching evolution in his classroom. This was forbidden.

Two attorneys showed up for the confrontation:

  • William Jennings Bryan, who was a Biblical scholar and aspiring politician.
  • And Clarence Darrow, an East Coast attorney who was always looking for a case to challenge the hypocrisies he felt existed in the law.

If you lived in Dayton, Tennessee, at the time of the trial, you would have been convinced that Attorney Bryan was representing the will of God, making a stand against a satanic effort to steal Creation from our Maker, placing it with the evolving monkeys. But if you live today, you are fully aware that William Jennings Bryan was misled and ended up ignorant—on the wrong side of history.

Clarence Darrow, ridiculed by the hometown folks, is now deemed, in our times, to be a hero.

Nothing good happens when people are aware of injustice and remain silent.

But we always must remember:

To be a saint in the future, you must be prepared to be considered a sinner in the present.

 

Damage

Damage: (n) injury or harm that reduces value or usefulness

Hello, stranger.

Pardon me, I don’t know your name.

I’m not really trying to introduce myself. More or less, I just want you to understand my position.

I’m not sure if I would be gregarious even if the option were available to me. Since you are unfamiliar to my world, I feel compelled to go slowly—perhaps stop.

It’s nothing personal.

I see you’re a little put off and perhaps don’t understand my misgivings, but that’s because you haven’t lived in my world or my time, surrounded by a topsy-turvy environment, nurturing terror.

There are blessings.

But as people, both religious and secular, will concur, the trials and difficulties greatly outweigh the payoffs.

It may seem like a negative way of looking at one’s lifespan, but still, all in all, it is safer to embrace caution and to ignore any temptation to take a risk by pursuing new relationships, new friends, ethnicities or environments.

Understand?

Haven’t you been hurt?

Healed of the wound, the scar and internal blistering is still sensitive.

Is it not nature’s way—to give us a constant reminder of our foolishness, our sins and our naivete by leaving behind bruises and discoloration?

Perhaps you’re a fine person.

Let me rephrase that. I don’t know you’re a fine person. That’s why I must treat you as if you’re not. I simply can’t afford to take on any new conflicts.

I have damage.

It has been addressed, discussed and I suppose might seem covered by the grace of the Divine. But still, it quietly lies within me, warning me of the many troubles of those who wander too far from reclusion.

Perhaps there will be a day when you will be better known to me or my damage will once and for all be contained.

Perhaps not.

Here is what I see:

After meeting thousands of people, we eliminate all the comers to two or three we claim to hold dear, but still maintain our intimacy at arm’s length.

Da Nang

Da Nang (Prop N): a seaport in central Vietnam.

In my mind’s eye, it is the responsibility of a writer to share what he or she feels, not just what is known to be true.

I don’t personally know anything about Da Nang.

Although the Vietnam War was ending as my viability for soldiering was nearing, I followed it like every other American—quietly and reverently watching the body bags of our young men return from a conflict we were realizing more and more had been birthed in lunacy.

Actually, there’s only one specific memory I have of Da Nang.

Da Nang was and ever will be associated with a fellow named Bobby.

Bobby was a nineteen-year-old Gospel-quartet-singing acquaintance who, because he was nineteen, had great fervor for the music and not so much reverence for the rules and regulations of the religious kingdom of the day.

He drank a little bit, he cussed a lot, he laughed more than he cried, and he chased girls until he finally caught a few.

He was delightful to be around and might have been considered a hypocrite had it not been for the fact that when he sang the tunes of the cross and the anthems of the resurrection of Jesus, he expressed the sincerity of an angel.

He was a believer.

He not only believed in God and shaped notes from a Gospel song, but he also believed in America.

It would never have crossed his mind to duck his responsibility to his country, even when that burden landed in his mailbox as a draft notice, to serve the nation in a bloody police action worlds away.

Bobby received his notice in March.

He was off to basic training in late April.

He was home for a short leave in early June.

He was shipped to Da Nang in Vietnam by July 4th.

And he came home in a box by Halloween.

That’s how I remember Da Nang—Bobby, with his chubby, silly grin, wearing a cheap, bright-colored polyester suit, singing Wouldn’t Take Nothin’ for my Journey, Now with a tear running down his cheek.

The history books cite the progress of nations by wars and innovation.

But as human beings, we reminisce the passing of time by those who have warmed our hearts.

 

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

Crescent

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crescent: (adj) a shape resembling a segment of a ring tapering to points at the ends.

We may have just discovered one of the great ways to distinguish how people think.

Take a moment.

Relax.

Free your mind of all unnecessary information, including trying to recall the passwords to your Internet programs.

Now listen to this word and tell me what you think of immediately:

Crescent

If you are an extremely intellectual, political, religious or topical person, you thought of the crescent moon, in reference to the Muslim faith and problems in the Middle East.

If you’re like me, you probably thought of crescent rolls with lots of butter at Thanksgiving.

 


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Cosby, Bill

Cosby, Bill: A twentieth-century comedian

“He used to be funny.”

I overheard someone make that comment. They were talking about Bill Cosby. They had decided he was no longer funny because he was convicted of sexual harassment and assault on women.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I thought to myself, did that rob him of his humor? Are we the sub-total of everything we create and do? Or is our creative life separate from our personal life, which we live out based upon the dictates of our own conscience?

Would Abraham Lincoln be as well-liked for freeing the slaves if we knew he was assaulting women who worked at the White House?

What if we discovered that Mother Teresa was abusing little girls while simultaneously and almost single-handedly touching the lives of the lost souls of India?

Religious people certainly seemed pretty upset when they heard rumors that Jesus might have kissed Mary Magdalene on the mouth.

Although we know better, we think that people who do good deeds should also be morally impeccable. How does one achieve that?

And for that matter, how is it possible to look objectively at Bill Cosby without coming across as if you’re trying to defend his iniquity?

Should we burn all the Michael Jackson records because it appears, from the testimony of several sources, that he molested children?

Should Catholic priests be forbidden to be alone with altar boys and girls because the history of such encounters is filled with sexual perversion?

Am I prepared to have the deeds I do and the person I truly am merged into one being, which is evaluated in totality instead of broken into two categories—the me I wanted to be and the me I was?

I honestly would have no problem listening to a comedy routine from Bill Cosby. But I don’t think I could tolerate hearing him postulate on fatherhood and how to get kids to behave better. And I do believe many of the accolades he received for citizenship and the leadership awards should be retracted.

He was still funny.

It may be the only thing he’ll have left when he dies in a cage.


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