Crouch

Crouch: (v) to stoop or bend low.

I’m going to do what I don’t normally do—but when I do it, I feel free to do it at will.

I’m going to abandon this definition and tell you a story about a man named Andre Crouch.

It’s spelled the same.

Many, many years ago, when the United States was recovering from a war and an egotistical President who was a tyrant, and crooked (pause)…

Hmm.

Anyway, it was a while back.

There was a young, black soul and Gospel singer named Andre Crouch who came on the scene for a season and did his part to open up the United States to racial harmony and integration—taking the land of Dixie and the world of Southern music, and twirling it on its head.

For these old church singers did not want to accept a black man into the inner circle (which could not be broken) but also could not deny that this gentleman was one helluva songwriter, and an even greater performer.

Arguably, it could be stated that he was the father, or at least uncle, of contemporary Christian music.

He was my friend.

I had a puny little group from Central Ohio. We were desperately seeking some attention from the marketplace when I met Andre Crouch. He did something he should never have done. He took us in—pale though we were—and allowed us to be the warmup group for his large concerts.

Even though he was gradually integrating, most of his audience was of a darker skin color. Why he thought he could get away with having a white warmup group when there were probably hundreds of black brothers and sisters in the audience who sang a “choir’s-full” better than us, is a mystery.

But it’s what Andre wanted to do—his way of integrating his race—by using us.

He was an unpredictable, never-on-time, kind, flakey and humorously fussy individual.

He helped me.

I got to see firsthand how an audience is to be gently handled—loved to life.

I got to climb onto his tour bus and drive around with him, seeking good barbecue in Toledo, Ohio. (We failed).

And I was shocked one Saturday morning when he arrived at a tiny gig I had—a breakfast for about forty people. Andre decided to drive up some 150 miles from Detroit, where he’d been in concert the night before, and surprise us.

Needless to say, that itsy-bitsy audience came alive once Mr. Crouch entered the room, and soon forgot I was even there once he walked over to my Wurlitzer electric piano and banged out some tunes.

Andre died several years ago.

But as is the case with all of us, he lives on because one of the people he loved and helped is here to tell a good story.

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Croatia

Croatia: (Prop. Noun): a country in South East Asia, formerly a part of Yugoslavia.

I’m nearly positive.

There must be a lovely little restaurant in Hiroshima that serves a tasty bird’s nest soup.

Likewise, Nagasaki probably has gorgeous parks for walking and sitting and talking.

I once saw a brochure about the beaches of Vietnam, advertising how spacious and clean they are.

I have no trouble thinking about Hawaii as a utopian climate of perfection.

And Pearl Harbor must surely be a fine location. Still, it is difficult for me to imagine it without seeing attacking airplanes and burning boats.

I am also incapable of thinking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki without envisioning flaming ruins from atomic explosions.

And if I do actually consider the beaches of Vietnam, it would be with the arrival of American Marines, under fire.

Likewise, when I hear the word Croatia, what comes to my mind is war.

I am inundated with visions of tragedy, genocide and crimes.

For you see, sometimes I get very tired of my American brain.

I love my country. I’m patriotic, but the limited scope my mind possesses when I hear certain words rings a false note and is definitely tiresome.

Can I see an American Indian—a Native—without thinking about Custer’s Last Stand?

And have I gotten past all my imagery from the movies, about black men and women huddled together as slaves?

I will agree it is sometimes good to be reminded of past sins, frailties, atrocities and horrible deeds.

Yet it is equally as good to be refreshed with visions of hope, possibility and brotherly love.

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Crimea

Crimea: (n) a peninsula in SE Ukraine

War.

Old men hear speeches and wave flags.

Young men grab guns and prepare to kill.

Old women have pictures of their sons in dress uniforms.

Young women attend funerals.

There’s nothing noble about war.

Perhaps merely removing the nobility of war—the romantic notion of heroism and bravery—might cause us to settle down and reconsider conflict.

I remember the first time I read Tennyson’s poem, “Charge of the Light Brigade.” It was a brilliant artistic expression of the courage of young soldiers on horseback during the Crimean War, who were asked to attack a battery of cannon with just their swords.

Tennyson meant well.

But he ended up glamorizing what was neither brave nor essential.

It was a foolish decision by a commander who was tired of nothing happening and decided to use human lives to experiment. Because of that it’s very difficult to hear the word “Crimea” without thinking of the Crimean War—which certainly brings to mind the unnecessary sacrifice of soldiers who were bound by duty.

I wonder what would happen if we forced people to commit to love, kindness and tenderness the way we drill murder, mayhem and anger into our infantry. Is it possible that we would no longer need teenage boys charging hills and dying so that old men can prove that they’re powerful?

I don’t know.

Crimea makes me think of war.

And the Crimean War makes me think of the “Charge of the Light Brigade.”

And that ridiculous decision makes me sad over unnecessary loss.

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Council of War

Council of war: (n) any conference for discussing or deciding upon a course of action.

I don’t think we’ve ever come up with an adequate term to identify the tribes that inhabited the North American continent before the arrival of the European immigrants (of whom many were rapists, and I’m sure some of them were good…)funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Because of this, we have a huge chunk of history which is really nothing more than mystery. I hope you will agree with me that when history remains mystery, we are destined to fall under the spell of its mastery.

Why?

Because we don’t know any more than when we started, even though we have lots of information that’s available, our interest level is stunted.

So we call these tribes “Native Americans,” “Indians,” and of course, in the early days, just savages. It was easier to kill them off in large numbers when you considered them to be rogue beasts.

But from my limited well of understanding, I will tell you that these human beings who were here long before us, would hold their council of war while smoking a peace pipe. Yes—they would pass around some sort of early bong filled with God-knows-what, puff on it and chat before they decided to grab their clubs, tomahawks, or even guns, and traipse off, murdering.

I don’t know how many wars they may have avoided by becoming a bit more rosy in their thinking during one of these interludes of puffing.

But I wonder whether their white—and even tan, yellow and black—brothers and sisters might be better off holding their councils of war in a haze of cigar smoke, or even the whiff of magical plants, before making such a drastic decision—to throw down in conflict with other people, and purposely deplete the population in order to prove that your domain of the Earth is mightier?


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Converge

Converge: (v) to meet in a point or line

Let us take this morning and see if we can get some of our ideas to converge. Don’t feel pressure, but I will offer some possibilities which will allow for convergence in our thinking, and therefore unity in our purposes.

  1. Talking a lot about God does not make you godly.
  2. Arguing about politics doesn’t seem to solve problems.
  3. Pointing out the differences between men and women is not helpful for acquiring the harmony necessary for human life.
  4. Judging people by the color of their skin is just as ridiculous as having favorite colors in fruit.
  5. Faith without works is dead.
  6. Having a conversation via text will never be as intimate as sharing a cup of coffee.
  7. The end of the world cannot be stopped by any one person, so we should singularly enjoy the Earth until it is no longer available.
  8. Complaining stops learning, which stops understanding, which promotes war.
  9. The world is filled with tribulation, so our best bet is to be of good cheer.
  10. Agreeing with someone else doesn’t make you stupid or absent ideas—just agreeable.

There are a few beginners—where we might converge our energies and work together instead of standing afar, peering at each other like cave people who are afraid that “those strangers over there” are going to steal our mastodon.

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Contentious

Contentious: (adj) containing argument or strife

There is no human being who is mature enough to recognize differences with another human being without setting up the arena for disagreement and fighting.

We think we are so damn open-minded, when what we really are is insecure enough that if we don’t surround ourselves with those who uplift our flag of opinion, we will soon, in a warlike fashion, start looking for enemies to emotionally punch.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

The only way to avoid contention is to seek all things in common, so that when variations of thought rise to the surface, it is unusual rather than expected.

Otherwise, a Baptist having lunch with a Catholic is prepared to play Bible superiority. A Republican going to a movie with a Democrat is already determining that his or her opinion must differ—otherwise, what’s the sense of being Republican? And men and women, who certainly find joy and pleasure in one another, are prodded by the entertainment industry and countless books, to find occasions to be at odds.

It is very difficult to be contentious with someone who agrees with you.

So, if you set out to find points of commonality and humanity, then, whether you think there should be a pipeline running through the middle of the country or not, it has much less possibility of turning into a bloody war of mayhem.

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Combative

Combative: (adj) ready or eager to fight; pugnacious.

No one who has been to war is anxious to get back.

No soldier who’s seen his buddy explode next to him is convinced that the flag is worth such a horrible sacrifice.

No general yearns to put his plans to the test in the field of blood and gore unless he is completely out of his mind.

But in the same theme, none of us should ever walk into a room knowing we haven’t had enough sleep, haven’t worked out a conflict in our lives or are reluctantly participating in an event–and subject those around us to our combative nature.

In a gathering of a hundred people who are circling around and fellowshipping, it only takes three individuals slipped into the mix, who have shown up in bad moods and ready to argue, to turn the remaining ninety-seven into either frightened victims or triggered their angry monsters.

The human race is combative.

Somehow or another we have convinced ourselves that war changes boundaries or establishes authority.

All war does is steal away a generation of fertile, creative and productive minds.

 

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