Real dangers vs. imaginary ones

Hospitals across the country are retheming after a recent study unearthed a startling fact.  Of 250 children surveyed, exactly 250 of them expressed an aversion or out-and-out fear of clowns.  I suppose a generation of administrators raised on Bozo and Ronald McDonald were slow to realize that garishly painted faces were just about the last thing children wanted to see when they were already scared out of their minds.

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Popcorn

I was recently injured while making popcorn.  True story.  A stray kernel decided to pop within the fluffy confines of the bowl instead of in the popper — hardly unusual.  But this one sent a piece of hot bran straight into my right eyelid.  If I had that eye wide open at the time, it could have done serious damage.  As it was, I only had nagging pain for a couple of days — a small price to pay for a good story, I say.

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A few examples of "The Small Things"

Last week in this space I encouraged the “one-talent” Christians out there to not lose heart, but rather to rejoice in the “small things” they may be able to do in service to God and to the church.  I thought I would follow up today with some specifics.

Again, these are things that virtually any Christian can do. 

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The Small Things

Some people have five talents.  They have all the skill, all the charisma, all the opportunities.  It seems as though service in Jesus’ kingdom comes naturally to them.  We are not surprised to hear when they have done great things in His name.  We expect it out of five-talent people

Some people have two talents.  They are not as privileged as the five-talent people, obviously.  But we still admire them.  They get the most out of what they have.  They do not envy the five-talent people for their success and the glory that comes with success.  They just do their job and do it well.  Sometimes they even wake up to find they have become five-talent people themselves.  And good for them.  Good for us. And then there are those with only one talent. 

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Scores

You may have seen the reports about actresses Lori Laughlin (“Full House”) and Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) being caught up in a standardized test scandal.  At the time of this writing, Huffman had actually been arrested.  It seems (and as much as I criticize those who leap to conclusions in this space, I hasten to add — innocent until proven guilty) some people were paying for special consideration so their children could get good grades on their ACT or SAT.

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Appropriating Jesus

It seems to me that “cultural appropriation” only becomes problematical if the “culture” being appropriated is associated generally with people of color.  (White, by the way, is a color.  The Crayola people say so, anyway.  And the pale orange-peach tone that accurately defines the skin of this “white person” is a color, too.  But I digress.)

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Llamas

If you happen to find yourself in Sun City, Arizona, watch out for llamas.  At last report two of them were running wild, creating a great deal of havoc with local traffic and amusing any number of YouTube viewers.

Presumably, the llamas have a home somewhere, and they left it.  In retrospect, they probably regret that decision.  But in any event, we have to deal with reality, not the world of our own imagination. 

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The Gospel of Beer

Thank you for being here today.  You had options.  There are churches all over, offering all sorts of incentives and enticements.  For instance, the Castle Church Brewing Community in Orlando bills itself as “Orlando’s newest destination brewery.”  If you are asking yourself, “Is that what it sounds like?”, the answer is yes.  They actually brew, sell and drink beer.  Not in the actual assembly, mind you — at least, not as far as I can tell.  But immediately afterward, and pretty much any other opportunity that affords itself.

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Nerf

A 9-year-old boy in Wales has lost an eye to a Nerf gun.  This is not the beginning of a joke.  This is the conclusion to a two-act tragedy.  It seems he lost sight in the eye because of an incident with a toy arrow when he was only 3; the second incident caused irreversible damage to the eye, forcing him to have it removed entirely or else risk losing sight in the second eye as well.

The mother, who is raising money through crowdfunding to get her son a more realistic prosthetic eye, says she doesn’t want people to think she is a bad mother.  I wonder why she would feel compelled to say that?

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Keys to great leadership -- in the home, in the church, and in life

I have a new favorite eatery in my lunchtime perimeter.  I have been three times now, and every time the same manager was on duty.  And she is amazing.  Let’s be honest, I’m there for the food.  If the food were terrible, I wouldn’t care if Bruce Springsteen, LeBron James and Scarlett Johansson were dishing it up.  As it happens, the food is great.  And I’m prepared to believe this woman gets a lot of the credit.

I figured out why she impresses me so much. 

She is always there. 

She is always knowledgeable. 

She is always busy. 

And she is always smiling.

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Apology

I have been cranky lately.  The circumstances of my life, although delightful in most ways, are not ideal.  And I have let that affect my attitude — precisely what I criticize others for doing.  I am not sure exactly how bad it has been, but I have enough humility, introspectiveness, and respect for others’ judgment to believe it has been considerably less than what it should be.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, obviously I would encourage you to ignore this paragraph.  If you do know, please accept my apology.

 

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Equal

Eugene V. Debs, the legendary Socialist leader, once mocked in an editorial the notion that a common railroad worker such as Debs once was could be “equal” to the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who got his start with $2 million in the bank. “If a locomotive fireman could work 4,444 years, 300 days each year, at $1.50 per day, he would be in position to bet Mr. Vanderbilt $2.50 that all men are born equal.”

Firstly, it’s no wonder Debs was so effective in his day with wordplay such as that.  Secondly, it’s “created equal,” not “born equal.” 

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In his own eyes

The time of the judges is neatly summarized in Judges 17:6 — “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”  Similar thoughts are repeated several times in the last few chapters of the book.  But just in the first part of the first story we see several issues that a godly king such as David, Jehoshaphat or Josiah might have been able and willing to stave off.

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Blood

My father is losing blood at the time of this writing.  No one knows why.  No one seems terribly worked up about it, though; doctors are on the case, he is well supervised, the issue (accidental pun alert) is being addressed and will soon be resolved.

I’m not worried.  Really.  Not worried.  The face I am wearing now is the face of me not being worried.

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Brisket

My beloved Texas A&M University puts on an annual two-day barbecue seminar.  “Camp Brisket” shows a fortunate few dozen participants the finer points of trimming, preparing and serving the best barbecue in the world.  And here I am in Pensacola, Florida, drooling, surrounded by well-intentioned but sadly ignorant folks who think “good barbecue” used to oink.

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Why we left Egypt

Throughout the Old Testament, “Egypt” is used as a metaphor for slavery.  The Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt, much or most of which was spent under the Egyptians’ thumb.  The kind behavior shown to Joseph and his family was not continued by the Pharaoh “who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8).  Life soon became intolerable for the nation, even to the point of being forced to kill their own male children.  But God was watching over His people the entire time, even and especially during the worst days.  And when the time was right, God intervened.  Pharaoh was humiliated, Egypt was crushed and looted, and Israel emerged on the other side of the Red Sea as a nation to be seriously regarded and respected.

But the story was not yet over. 

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Gymnastics

If you want to see the glorious difference between men and women (and have everyone keep their clothes on, mostly), you need look no further than a gymnastics competition.  Myself, I am not particularly a fan; I haven’t even watched Olympic competition for almost a decade.  But I know, for instance, that women do not perform on the pommel horse, parallel bars or rings.  And after watching Olympian Shawn Johnson attempt it, I know why.  The same reason I don’t.  It’s impossible.  The upper body strength is just not there.

The men don’t perform on the uneven bars or balance beam.  And I know why.  The same reason I can’t watch them try.  Physiology.  Let’s just call it physiology.

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Reasons to Complain

Having lived in the middle of SEC country for nearly seven years now, I thought I had seen the worst examples of “Can’t take L for an answer.”  But two New Orleans fans have taken it to a whole other level.  They are actually suing the NFL over the result of the NFC championship game, in which their beloved Saints lost to the Rams — in no small part because of an admittedly horrible non-call near the end of the game.

They want the commissioner of the NFL to do something about it.  Ideally, replay the entire game (or at least the last few minutes of regulation), or just flat-out reverse the game results.  Nothing unreasonable.

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Lobsters

Lobsters are not immortal.  You may have heard otherwise, but it isn’t true.  They do have a remarkable way of reproducing cells that retards cell death indefinitely.  But turns out, getting old brings on a host of health difficulties, each of which may eventually become fatal.  They ward off the natural processes better than most species, granted, but death will inevitably get them in the end, as it will all of us.

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