Sunday, September 25, 2011

EDITH, ETHEL, AND THEIR CHOICES

by Ken Brown
Springfield, MO

Choice...
...what a critical and difficult mental exercise.  Interestingly, CHOICE is something for which adult chooser holds responsibility, she/he/it needs to be the judge of the selections.   Unless directly affected, one should be careful in judgments of other people's choices.  For example, presently too many within our American society cry out from one side of their mouths for unfettered "freedom to choose" while demanding legislation to end some choices of those not like-minded on certain issues.  The target group are the "haves" judging the "have-nots."

From the Ozark Uncle's perspective, quite a few judgments of others are clouded because the judge simply has too much food in her, his, it's gut.  Explain that, Unc!  Well, very hungry people just view things differently than the well-fed among us.  If you're in the latter group, then try it some time and notice the difference--your perspective could very well turn upside down after prolonged hunger.  This oddity is best explained by Maslow's Needs Hierarchy.


Maslow's Needs Hierarchy suggests that we start at the bottom tier (Physiological Needs) where our only concerns are food, shelter and the bare essentials.  Then as our condition improves we advance up to the loftier tiers.  In a nutshell, some people are stuck in the bottom tier just trying to obtain basic food, clothing and shelter.  Choice is irrelevant for those at the bottom; when rummaging through garbage for food, these poor souls don't bypass a morsel of discarded filet mignon simply because it is well done instead of medium rare.

Many of us, the Ozark Uncle included, started at or near the bottom of Maslow's chart and advanced up the tiers to where physiological needs are not so pressing.  Unfortunately, once a few rungs higher, we often forget what it was like when on the bottom.  Again, the disconnect is simply the result of having too much food in one's stomach.  Food for thought?

THE UNCLE'S RELISHED AND REGRETTED CHOICES
  • Relished (No Organized Religion) - Those who chose to read an earlier Ozark Uncle's blog posting, BAPTIST TURN GREEN, learned of the Ozark Uncle's choice of secular education over a narrowly scripted one based on the Protestant Bible.  That choice (which was a couple of decades in the making), plus a later decision to turn away from any formal religious institution, would set him on a path of spiritual loneliness but not hopelessness.  In the process, however, the message of Jesus somehow got hard-wired within the Ozark Uncle by no conscious choice of his own.  Perhaps, that's why the Uncle truly enjoys church services when he attends and observes the uplifted and ignores the indifferent ones.
  • Regretted (No Military Service) - While the Ozark Uncle is comfortable with his position (albeit ever changing) on religion, he probably only rues one of his most critical choices--to opt for college over military service.  It was the 1960s part of the Vietnam War era, and he wishes he would have chosen to join with those who served in the U.S. Air Force or the U.S. Navy.  [Readers, correct the Ozark Uncle if he's wrong on the following statement]   In general, those who either couldn't choose or simply neglected to do so were drafted by the U.S. Army and were closest to the action.  It was a war among men and a war within men where their morals and ethics were challenged.
         In the Ozark Uncle's opinion, those like himself who haven't served are not complete, and a little hollow inside.  (The Ozark Uncle's Vietnam-era vet friends know that he has the utmost respect for those who did that job for all of us).
OTHER CHOICES
Like all Americans, the Ozark Uncle has made thousands of choices during his 66 years of existence--choices about schools, jobs, relationships, money, religion, and even movies.  While he has few regrets regarding his choices, he does rue his choice to watch the 1982 film, Sophie's Choice, with Meryl Streep.  Her choice remains lodged in his brain like a festering splinter that can't be removed no matter how much he digs with the longest and sharpest needle.

Related to ABORTION, the Ozark Uncle has had three occasions in his life to encourage a women not to abort a child; once, his advice was taken, on another instance the child was aborted for perhaps the wrong reasons, and the third was aborted for perhaps a rational reason; but again, who is the Ozark Uncle to judge.  Being the last born to a mother of five whose health should have stopped her childbearing at one, the Ozark Uncle recognizes that life is a very random event; if it had turned out that his mother died because of his birth, the Ozark Uncle would wish she had aborted him.  She was a wonderful person, and her husband would die only four years later than the Ozark Uncle's birth.  Four orphans would have been created.  Make any sense?

Regarding GAY LIFESTYLES, the Ozark Uncle staked out his position in the posting MOST EVIL--MUSLIMS, GAYS, OR SERPENTS?  Credible individuals (e.g., Jerry Falwell's ghost writer, Mel White) have come out of the closet in recent years to report childhood and teenage same-sex attractions that they could neither explain nor control.  Who is the Ozark Uncle (or anyone) to not accept these testimonies such as that of  Mel White's.  A response from a conservative Christian friend to the aforementioned blog posting was "I don't care what he said, it's a choice he made, [damn it]!"  The Ozark Uncle pondered this response and now posts this rebuttal--really, only gays CAN possibly know whether it is a choice or not--just think about it.  At age five, the Ozark Uncle knew he had no choice in his attraction to the female gender.

But gay bashers need to call it "CHOICE."   To demonize a group of people, just say that the "sinner" can help it by simply making a different choice; then compassion is taken off the table helping to ensure that the group is expelled with no hope of re-inclusion.  In recent decades the same tactic has also been used to declare that all poor people choose to shun work and live the way they do.  Within that group are millions who deserve some compassion.  Read on.

UNCLE! SEGUE NOW--Readers Don't Leave Yet, Please....
Is choice good or bad?  Look at the definition of choice, and one will find that too much choice might be debilitating.  Still, the old "Professor Uncle" used to always counsel his students--"...try to control your lives to where your options (i.e., choices) remain open."

Professor Uncle encouraged open-mindedness always regardless of the perils that accompany it.  That segues to the stories of (1) Edith, Lot's wife, and (2) Ethel.  Both made dramatic choices that deserve some discussion.  Read on.
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EDITH'S CHOICE
Magdalene Collums
The Ozark Uncle's wife (Aunt Joy) has a wonderful cousin, Magdalene Collums, who is one of Arkansas's best and most prolific poets.  She is in her 80s, has always had an inquiring mind, and her poetry reflects the world she sees--both good and bad.  Over the past year, the Ozark Uncle has been helping pull together a book of her poetry.  The draft is flirting with 200 pages at the present.

Magdalene's poetry is so wonderful that even the unpoetic Ozark Uncle has come to love all of it.  Magdalene's works are far ranging--flowers, birds, people, family and school memories, places and events, social issues, and religious dogma.  Also included are poems in which she defends Arkansas against outside critics' condescending remarks.  

When the Ozark Uncle was working on Magdalene's manuscript, several different poems caught his eye including a couple in which she provided a defense of Lot's wife as she looked back at Sodom and turned to a pillar of salt (Genesis 19 of the Protestant Old Testament).  Here's one of the two poems:

Sundown at Sodom
by Magdalene Collums, Hope AR
copyright 2011

They say she looked back out of curiosity, 
But she did have other reasons. 
She looked back mourning her silver bowl, 
Carelessly while tying her sandal strap, 
So she wouldn't have to stare at the righteous nape 
Of her husband Lot's neck. 
From the sudden conviction that if she dropped dead, 
He wouldn't so much as hesitate, 
Struck by the silence, hoping God had changed his mind. 
Their two daughters were already vanishing over the hilltop. 
The wife felt age within her, 
The futility of wandering. 
She looked back not knowing where to set her foot.
Serpents appeared on the path, 
Spiders, field mice, baby vultures. 
They were neither good nor evil now; 
Every living thing was simply creeping 
Or hopping along in the mass panic. 
She looked back in desolation, 
In shame because they had stolen away, 
Wanting to cry out, wanting to go home; 
A sudden gust of wind unbound her hair. 
It seemed to her that eyes were watching from the walls of Sodom 
And bursting into thunderous laughter again and again. 
She looked back in anger to savor their terrible fate. 
She ran on; she crept; she flew upward 
Until darkness fell and with it scorching gravel. 
She couldn't breathe and spun around and around. 
She looked back involuntarily 
Until a sudden crack froze her solid in her tracks. 

In both the above poem and in a second one entitled "Lot's Wife", Magdalene suggests that Lot's wife did not feel loved by her husband.  Even the Ozark Uncle has thought what kind of husband would be out front of his wife in that traumatic situation and not behind her in a protective manner.  He knows the story...the scribe wanted to illustrate what happens when God's Will is not followed.   Yet, was not God's Will communicated to her via a husband who did not love her--she was at a spiritual disadvantage, for Christ's sake?!  Wow, I'm good--maybe I'm ready to write for one of those big news channels where the censor of illogical news items usually has a hangover and fails to show up most days.)

For Lot's wife, Edith, her choice caused the end of her earthly existence but not the memory of her.  As luck would have it, Lot apparently went on over the hill, told his story to the elders and then relayed to the purported Genesis author.  Mention of her name was omitted from the Protestant Bible but Jewish lore identified her as "Ildeth" or "Edith"  (it was the answer to a 2004 Jeopardy question)."
________________________________
ETHEL'S CHOICE
In the early 1970s, the Ozark Uncle was climbing up his career ladder as a bean-counting bureaucrat at a state-funded college.  On a warm spring day, he'd just finished his lunch of hamburger and fries at the campus grill, and as he stepped out into the busy quadrangle, he noticed all heads were turned to the southeast where a clamor was developing.  In a split second, they appeared from that direction--running at a leisurely gait--two young men wearing nothing but head gear.  They were engaging in a new campus craze--streaking.

The second streaker lagging behind wore only a ski mask and was otherwise unworthy of mention.  His chosen head gear's statement was "I'm frightened--why am I here, and please, Lord, let this be over without my being identified.  What would Mom say?"

The laggard's companion in front, however, was most impressive--his only apparel were an vintage leather aviator cap, over-sized goggles, and a colorful scarf that draped around his face and neck before flowing freely behind him in the breeze--not unlike Snoopy as he chased after the Red Baron.

I focused on the leader, quite impressed, until he disappeared in the direction of the dormitories to the northwest.  His head gear suggested a daring and adventuresome fellow who no doubt went on to lead an interesting life.

The Ozark Uncle secretlhy wanted to join the students who applauded the escapade but withdrew into his conservative and prudish 1970s self .  Several seconds after the streakers had departed, a couple of overweight campus security guards came shuffling along the same path asking what direction the miscreants had gone.  They got little assistance, and they probably didn't really want to catch them anyway.

The Mooning of Ethel
Streaking eventually faded away but stayed long enough for comedy musician, Ray Stevens, to get a hit from his 1974 song, the Streak.  A link to his delightful music video is provided at the bottom of this post.  Here is a portion of the lyrics: 
Ray Stevens


Once again, your action news reporter in the booth at the gym covering the disturbance at the basketball playoff.  Pardon me, sir, did you see what happened? 
     Yeah, I did.  Halftime, I's just going down there to get Ethel a snow cone.  Here he come, right outta the cheap seats, dribbling.  Right down the middle of the floor.  Didn't have on nothing but his Keds!  Made a hook shot and got out through the concession stand. 
     I hollered up at Ethel, I said "don't look, Ethel!"...too late.  She'd already gotten a free shot.  Grandstand.  Right there in front of the home team.

The song finishes with the following:
      "Ethel! Is that you Ethel?  What do you think you're doing?  You get your clothes on!" "Ethel, where you going?  Ethel, you shameless hussy!!" Ethel!!

Bantering around about the relationship between Ethel and her husband would be fun.  Was he trying to protect her from an act of indecency or was he controlling her?  Deep down, did he sense that Ethel was impressionable and secretly had a desire for independence--for the freedom to choose?  Taking Stevens' song further, the Ozark Uncle wonders how Ethel's marital relationship changed after her wild moment of self-expression.  But he had better get on to the point of this post lest his few loyal readers rebel themselves.

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TODAY'S THOUGHTS FOR TOMORROW'S GENERATION
Both Edith and Ethel made critical choices in their lives.  For Ethel--did her choice lead (1) to a free and enlightened existence, or (2) to a shameful and depraved phase in her life?  The Ozark Uncle doesn't want to judge her act but only hope she experienced the former and not the latter.  Edith--of course, bless her heart, she didn't live to tell her side of the story--if you must judge choices, has your scorn for her abated any?  Moses left little information for those of us who cannot read Sumerian clay tablets--that's a whole other posting.  Please don't miss the video by clicking below.













Friday, April 22, 2011

J.B.'s Deer Camp


by Kenneth Brown, Springfield, MO
The Ozark Uncle's 
Facebook friends have read his occasional postings about the project he calls "Deer Camp."  The project is little more than a small house on a vacant lot at the edge of the Wilson Creek flood plain barely one-hundred yards outside of the Springfield city limits.  But the Ozark Uncle and several of his family members see it as a chance for a temporary existence without TV, phones, or air conditioning, and a pot-bellied wood stove for heat in the winter.
J.B. & Magdalene (Neal) Collums
Hope, AR
The "Deer Camp" designation is in honor of the late J.B. Collums of Hope AR who passed away in April 2010 at the age of 81.  J.B. had a real deer camp in southwest Arkansas, although he befriended every buck and doe that wandered into his kingdom.  While the Ozark Uncle's skill set is so limited that he must hire everything done at his "Deer Camp", J.B. had been a welder and mechanic--he had his own tools and even his own bull dozer.  He did all the work himself at Deer Camp including putting a dam across the creek to create a lake.  He even engineered an efficient spillway and flood control valve for his dam.  J.B. Collums was married for 63 of his 81 years to Joy's cousin, Magdalene Neal Collums.  In the past decade, the Ozark Uncle and Joy got to know them and see that they were an almost perfect couple--supporting each other through thick and thin--always sensitive to the needs of the other.
Magdalene's skill set is unique too -- she got her college education in English at nearby Henderson (AR) State University, and has been a prolific writer and award-winning poet for the past almost forty years.  
A couple of weeks ago, the Ozark Uncle told Magdalene about his "Deer Camp" and he asked her if she could be moved to write a poem about J.B.'s "Deer Camp."  Her first response was one of hesitance but within 48 hours, she had produced this wonderful piece of verse.
J. B.'S DEER CAMP
Should you have asked him what it meant to him-
He would have answered, he would have told you
That it was piece of  him and peace in him,
A wonderful place
Where shadows were still
And oak trees hung low,
An 80-acre tract
On the banks of a lake,
His hands had made,
Where songs could be heard
From flocks of birds,
A magical place,
A sanctuary  that restored his equilibrium,
Soothed his soul and calmed his racing mind.
With J. B. gone almost a year -
Not just in November but all of the year,
We cherish the time we had with him
And wish we could do it all over again.

by Magdalene Collums, Hope AR
March 2011



Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stricken with Terminal Disease, Presidency Nears Death

by Ken Brown
Springfield, MO
The Ozark Uncle started writing this post on Wednesday, September 8, 2010--he never expected that it would be 9/11 before it was completed and published.

We are at a pivotal moment in U.S. History.  The Ozark Uncle perceives that hardships are ahead for those generations following what the 65-year old is calling his Pampered Generation--those of us born between 1935 through 1945.  We didn't have to serve in WWII, and we were later blessed with good paying union jobs and now many of us are living on funded pensions.  But our country has major internal structure problems--political, financial and even militarily.  Money to fund the Baby Boomer Generation (e.g., born in 1946 or later) retirements just isn't there.  There probably isn't a politician alive with any kind of a magic bullet to fix our fiscal problems--we need to look to self-reliance and each be willing to make some kind of sacrifice.

A dear friend in my Over 70 Club forwarded me an email that listed many suggestions for changes in our country--of course it's one of those with bold type, different colored fonts and, you guessed it, an anonymous author.  But the Ozark Uncle saw possibilities in the list and he may dissect the ideas when he has a chance.  Perhaps considered extreme now, in a couple of decades many of these suggestions will occur by default, not by any political decision.

[Insert silence: the Ozark Uncle is taking a moment to remember the victims of the 9/11 tragedy which changed our world forever.  But he's also remembering those who died at Pearl Harbor, the millions of Holocaust, Armenian and Rwandan genocide victims, plus the millions of soldiers whatever their uniform, and all the innocent civilians killed in wars].

Well, that moment of silence didn't go too well; just as I went into silence, 19-month old Skye baby asked the Ozark Uncle to put on his "Papa" hat and get her more "Wice Kispies."  That highest-priority task completed, let's get on with the heart of the matter at hand.

Honored Member of the Ozark Uncle's Over 80 Club: Code Name Miss Lillian
The Ozark Uncle has a relative who he is calling Lillian--that's not her real name.  She's in her 80s now, and she lives in the same rural southern community in which she was born.  Best I can tell, Miss Lillian raised her children as a single parent.  For many of those years, she supported her children as a medical nurse working at the side of the same doctor in a small town clinic.  She knew all the patients' personal and medical history but will take that knowledge to the grave with her.  Morals and ethics are hardwired into Miss Lillian.  And she's perhaps one of the wisest people I know.

Miss Lillian is a very private individual, and few photos exist of her.  The facsimile of an unidentified older woman to the left is not her.  Miss Lillian has no use for computers and little use for television.  If told about the Ozark Uncle's openness on Facebook and his two blogs, she'd just fold her arms, look up into his eyes and with her soft but stern rural accent, say, "Kee-un, Kee-un".  Then she'd just bow her head and shake it in disbelief.

You see, to Miss Lillian, something like Facebook should be renamed Fools Book, and to her a blog is something that happens between the house and the septic tank.  And you know, with regard to the Ozark Uncle's writings, she'd probably be right on each count!

To my knowledge, Miss Lillian doesn't watch too much television.  FOX is something to be kept out of the hen house, and for all she knows, CNN, HLN and MSNBC are random letters on an eyesight chart.  Yet, she seems to gather sufficient information that makes her quite knowledgable on what she considers is relevant to her and her rural world.  You see, the Ozark Uncle perceives that Miss Lillian does better than most at setting priorities as to what is really important in her life and that of her family.  Not every national battle is hers to fight.

Miss Lillian's front door is like a lot of other people.  It's open wide for her close friends and relatives; she can be a wonderful hostess and will serve a healthy southern meal and fresh brewed iced tea.  However, business with all others can be conducted just fine through the screen door.  Miss Lillian and the Ozark Uncle haven't discussed it--no reason to--but she probably would not be comfortable at all with Muslims, foreign speakers, or gays in her home even if they were my friends.  But, be assured if any one of them had a car wreck out in front of her house and was bleeding profusely, the nurse in Lillian would be out there doing her best to help out another human being, and she wouldn't worry about whether she had a pair of latex gloves or not.  There are no pretenses with Miss Lillian--without ever using a cuss word, she can make it real clear what should transpire around her.

Uncle Ozark, What's Your Point?
The Ozark Uncle could write for pages about his perceptions of Miss Lillian, but she's introduced here for a specific reason.  Have I already said Miss Lillian is one of the wisest people I know?  Well, the subject of respect for a sitting U.S. President came up between me and one of Miss Lillian's daughters recently.  Reportedly, Miss Lillian always quoted her own mother to her children and it's as follows: "My Mama always said you may not have voted for a President and may not even like the man, but he always deserves your respect as the President of the United States."  That piece of wisdom is today's thought for tomorrow's generation.  Unfortunately, with the death of the U.S. Presidency at hand, this point of view may only fade into the annals of history as how things used to be.  Here's an example of the Presidency's disease.

Branson Financial Center
A couple of times a month, the Ozark Uncle takes a family member to a medical appointment in Branson, 45 miles south of Springfield. (Interestingly, he'll be making that trip again later today--September 11).    The doctor's office is in the Branson Financial Center, and an immigration attorney with a Hispanic name has the adjacent suite.  Frequently, one will share the elevator with Spanish-speaking immigrants from Mexico.

Also in the BFC building are the real estate offices of Commercial One Brokers.  This summer, the partners of this firm purchased a full-sized billboard near the town of Ozark between Springfield and Branson which says: Vote for Obama?  Embarrassed Yet?  In an interview with Springfield TV station, KY3, partner Steve Critchfield acknowledged that he'd received death threats because of it, but he rather glibly moralized that "...if every one is happy with Obama, they could go out and buy billboards saying so."  The Ozark Uncle will let that statement just land on the floor and stay there.
Billboard Similar to Critchfield sign
on U.S. 65 near Ozark MO
The Ozark Uncle really doesn't have any perceptions about how Critchfield et al should use their advertising dollars--though, the real estate business must be good in Taney County, Missouri.  No doubt the partners felt that their clients and their target market (white retirees with 401k funds from my Pampered Generation) would be happy with this sign--might even help business.  If I were Critchfield, though, I'd probably avoid local restaurants for awhile after considering who might be making my omelet and exactly what could be used for seasoning.

But, hey, the Ozark Uncle is cool.  He's all for the First Amendment.  Yet Gainesville, Florida's Pastor Terry Jones and his 50 followers who intended to burn Muslim holy books today (9/11) are really testing the amendment's limits relative to the public's common good.  (Since this posting was started on Wednesday, Pastor Terry Jones has been granted prime time coverage of his every move.  What a country--another religious figure with the surname Jones [like Jim and Bob] will become a household name.

Now back to Critchfield's billboard question.  [Note: the Ozark Uncle's little postings are intended for today's adults but, over time, will also serve as an archive for his grandchildren and their children as to how their Grandpa Brown perceived issues during this historically troublesome time].

Disappointment?  Sometimes.  Embarrassment? Never.
The Ozark Uncle struggles with the concept that anyone in America should be embarrassed about a vote--it doesn't make sense to him.  Oh, perhaps failing to vote at all might be a cause for some guilt.  While his ancestors had to cast their ballots with the little information printed in their weekly newspapers and talk around the wood stove at the General Store, the Ozark Uncle's era isn't too much better off.  Technology, mass media and advertising make it almost impossible to make an informed decision before voting.  Lies, falsehoods and misstatements litter the political landscape.  Candidates can't really come out and express their true thoughts--they are chained to specific positions and code words like "Pro-Choice" or "Pro-Life" lest they be deserted by some political base critical to their election.

Some voters don't look at the candidates' names but only for the (R) or (D) behind them and vote accordingly.  Others of us form some impression and cast a vote.  What follows is the Ozark Uncle's recollection of his Presidential votes over the past 20 years of voting.  It may not be totally accurate because many a time he went into the voting booth terribly undecided.  For today's readers, it illustrates a typical American's attempt to vote responsibly.  For his descendants, it leaves a little trail to show that he just didn't vote for all the (R)s or all the (D)s.

1992 -- Bush 1 versus CLINTON (D) versus Perot (I).  The Ozark Uncle distinctly remembers voting for Ross Perot.  He didn't know enough about Clinton, and he still felt that Bush 1 had not been forthcoming on the Iran-Contra scandal hung over from his Reagan era Vice-Presidency.

1996 -- Dole (R) versus CLINTON (D).  A real fan of Sen. Bob Dole (R), the Ozark Uncle considered voting for him.  Still he wasn't packaged right by his campaign staff.  Also the Ozark Uncle, while disturbed by Clinton's sexual scandals, sensed that powerful people were in the background waking up every morning determined to that particular President's day was a living Hell.  From the Ozark Uncle's perspective, the U.S. Presidency contracted its fatal disease under Clinton.  A lively debate can be had as to whether the disease was from internal (Clinton's own fault) or external sources.

2000 -- BUSH 2 (R) versus Gore (D).  The Ozark Uncle was a reluctant voter this year.  Right along here, he saw futility in being tied to either party and he became an independent and sees no reason to change the rest of his life.  In 2000, at 55 years of aged and about to take early retirement on a public education pension, the Ozark Uncle had become a real fan of a Vietnam hero by the name of John McCain.  Then the Bush campaign people played the "race card" on my hero, John, and his dark-skinned adopted daughter during the South Carolina primary, and the rest is history.  (By the way, in recent years, the Ozark Uncle has expressed a point of view that America missed a great opportunity when John McCain was not made President in 2000 instead of George Bush.  Hindsight is 20-20 they say but the Ozark Uncle perceives that President McCain might have had the magic bullet needed to eradicate the Presidency's fatal disease).

2004 -- BUSH 2 (R) versus Kerry (D).  Although forever thoughtful, Ozark Uncle can be more naive than many people, and he bought then Secretary of State Colin Powell's WMD speech to the United Nations, and he supported the Iraq war during Bush's first term.  By 2004, however, both the Ozark Uncle and Powell realized they had been duped.  Still the Ozark Uncle voted for Bush because he really felt that the Bush-Cheney alliance got us into the mess, and they should be given a chance to get us out.

2008 -- McCain (R) versus OBAMA (D).   The 2008 campaign was very hard on the Ozark Uncle.  His close relatives were quite divided, and lots of discussions led to family disunity.  Eventually everyone figured out that it was best not to talk about it.  The Ozark Uncle went ahead and voted for Barack Hussein Obama after his hero,  John McCain, selected the unknown "Mama Grizzly", Sarah Palin, as his running mate.  Some of my intelligent Christian friends applied incredible contortions to common sense attempting to convince me she was ready for the co-pilot's seat of a great nation.  I found my own intellect being insulted on every corner, and I abandoned my buddy, John McCain, once I got into the voting booth. [Note: since that time, the Ozark Uncle has become much more impressed with Ms. Palin and would give her due consideration in 2012.  It would be nice, however, if her so-called "grizzly" skin could toughen a little bit--she seems to fight every unfavorable mention of her].

Ozark Uncle Has had Many Embarrassing Moments But Not from a Vote
There you have it, Grandchildren, and any other interested parties--my voting record for what it is over the past 20 years.  Am I embarrassed by any of those votes?  No, and it's really a silly question.  Were some of the votes misguided or dumb votes?  Probably some and maybe all but who's to say--voters are accountable only to themselves, no one else.

As for the present, the Ozark Uncle perceives that with all the power that voters gave to the political left in 2008, President Obama and his Democratic party have turned on the political oven for the Republicans when they get the kitchen back in its control in 2010.  In the oven, the Democrats have been able to place half-baked casseroles of health care, energy, immigration, financial reform and entitlements (including tax breaks).

Now, after the 2010 elections, the Republicans will get another chance to (1) take the casseroles out of the oven and discard them or (2) somehow change the ingredients in the casseroles--a feat requiring culinary magic.  It won't be easy for them -- you see each casserole is implanted with a few tablespoons of an unknown substance that can lead one to political suicide.  To my grandchildren, when you read this, national politics is not an easy career in Papa Brown waning years.

Impending Death of the U.S. Presidency
The Ozark Uncle's July 28, 2010, post entitled War Heroes and Victims.  Near the end of the post, the Ozark Uncle cites retired Lt. Col. Andrew Bacevich and his book Limits of Power.  He argues that the system in Washington is so broken that the holder of the U.S. Presidency is really irrelevant.  This systemic virus has helped lead to its impending death foreseen by the Ozark Uncle.

Symptoms of the Presidency's fatal disease called D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T surfaced early in the first term of William Jefferson Clinton.  The position of First Lady was temporarily affected by the disease too but seems to have at least partially recovered.  The Presidency's disease was in almost total remission during the first term of George Walker Bush, but only for a short time.  Now, under Barack Hussein Obama, the Presidency's affliction appears to be worse than ever (as evidenced by the Critchfield billboard).

Note: some experts (no substantiations available at the moment) suggest that the country would be better off after the death of the U.S. Presidency followed by a re-incarnation as a Prime Minister, perhaps.  With this lower profile position would come lowered expectations--something that people should want if they want to reduce the effect of government.  Thus, with the death of the U.S. Presidency, this Prime Minister-type person would still have considerable governing power but little to govern--just a country of "I"s and "Me"s with little unity, insight, or compassion among us.  Also, an empty Treasury will cause Americans to ween themselves from entitlements, tax breaks and wasteful spending.  Thus, we are the problem, not our elected politicians.

Today's Thoughts for Tomorrow's Generation
Piper Palin with her brother at the 2008
Republican Convention
To the left is a photo of Todd and Sarah Palin's two youngest children, Piper and Trig.  Note that the photo appeared on CNN and hopefully Ms. Palin won't mind my using it.  Piper is my favorite, and part of me wishes she were at the Brown house playing with the Ozark Uncle's two Grand-Girls, Ora and Skye Brown, instead of being dragged around the country as part of the Palin Family Tour.

Watching the 2008 Republican Convention, the Ozark Uncle immediately wondered how the limelight would affect each member of the Palin family.  Certainly life hasn't been the same for little Piper since that night.  Her family is now wealthy but family time has to be totally different and is difficult to manage.  Such is life for children of high-profile parents.

Skye and Ora Brown - 2010
Today's thoughts for tomorrow's generation are really guided to the parents and grandparents (Papa and Grandma Brown included) of today's young children.  Recognize that 2010 is a really troubling time in America that could just as easily worsen as improve.  The Ozark Uncle's perception is that we should prepare our little ones for a time when they shouldn't count on state and national government to be of major significance in their lives.

A few suggestions to the parents and grandparents come to mind such as to help the little ones: (1) learn to be self-reliant; (2) learn to take care of their bodies and their minds, (3) learn to garden, cook and clean (Ora, remember, like the Box Car Children--Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny?)

James "the Genius" Brown
self-portrait -- 2008

Louie "the Athlete" Brown - 2010
Learn survival skills and ways to be at peace with less material things.  Seek out as much practical education and training as they can.  Don't forget the liberal arts but basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter are always the first order of the day.

Show them ways they can find peace for themselves in a wonderful yet ever changing less materialistic world.

Thanks for reading to the end.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

BECK, the OLD LADY, and the "JESUS" WORD

Greetings from the Ozarks Plateau here in Springfield MO where the weather on this Sunday morning is gorgeous.  The Ozark Uncle is compelled to write about his Saturday and all two of his encounters with the "Jesus" word that occurred that day.  Needless to say this posting won't take long.

Beck-Palin Rally
Joy and I didn't have the grand-girls this weekend so we started a rather lonely Saturday morning with coffee in the living room.  We turned on C-Span and encountered the start of Glenn Beck's Restore Our Honor rally (click on the link to view the entire event) at the D.C. Lincoln Memorial.  For the time we had before leaving the house, I listened carefully not only for content but for word usage.

Glenn Beck speaking on the steps
 of the Lincoln Memorial.
Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
Although the Ozark Uncle's hearing is worsening, he senses that his listening skills are improving.  He has now listened to Glenn Beck videos for two or three times in the last month, and he's still mulling on the content.  Listening to the rally on Saturday, he understood Mr. Beck to say in a round-about way that a divine vision had came to him last year after a Florida rally revealing what God wanted him to do.

Otherwise the Ozark Uncle listened for the "Jesus" word somewhere in Beck's comments about his being anointed but never heard the word used.   During the 45-minutes or so that he was able to watch, the Ozark Uncle only heard the "Jesus" word once.  Sarah Palin didn't use it either but a Christian minister's prayer, the content of which didn't include the word, ended with "In Jesus's name we pray."

Thrift Store Volunteering
Joy and I then left home to spend our Saturday volunteering at the Thrift Haven (TH) thrift store.  We try to get there not long after it opens as 10 a.m. and stay until 6 p.m. when it closes.  The store benefits the Fair Haven Children's Home in nearby Strafford, and the Home is operated by Springfield's Water Mill Church of Christ.  So, the store has a very happy and peaceful environment, and the Ozark Uncle enjoys being down there except the piped in A Capella church music is not one his listening favorites.  He grew up with old time gospel music accompanied by an acoustic guitar.

My wife, Joy, has been the TH volunteer "toy lady" for almost three years.  When she broke her wrist this past spring, the Ozark Uncle went down to help her and he's been going ever since.  Well, back in the hot warehouse off the side of the store, Joy and I sort through all the donations of toys and games, select the best for sale and then pack the rest for shipment to other countries (there's an irony there that the Ozark Uncle has to gloss over for time's sake at this moment).

The Lady
The Ozark Uncle's "station" at TH is close to the door between the warehouse and the store, and early in the afternoon, an elderly lady popped her head in this "employees only" door and asked for help.  The lady was definitely in her 70s and maybe a little older.  Her layered clothing was of the type that disguised any perception of her economic status--she could have been poor and she could have been rich.  Her grey hair was slightly unkempt but neat enough--beauty salons were definitely not a line item in her monthly budget.  Eccentric, that's what the Ozark Uncle perceived.  Please read on.

The lady was looking for a special kind of lamp base and wanted to know what we had in the warehouse.  Well, it wasn't the Ozark Uncle's department, but he proceeded to help her look around the warehouse.  The manager of the day (a former house parent at the Children's Home), strolled through and joined our search.  The lady had a very specific idea of what she wanted, and after turning down several that we found, she selected one lamp base resting in the $1.50 box still unpriced.

Her Visions
As I proceeded to place a price tag on the lamp, the lady started to testify to me.  In a nutshell, she told me of visions she had received from God.  In her visions, God had told her that the people who ran "the government" were going to be replaced soon, and God was going to make a series of changes because of what we've become.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the store manager quietly creep away leaving the two of us alone.  The lady went on to tell about her visions for at least another minute, and then there was a slight pause as she looked at me for feedback.

"Have you written this down?" I said.
"No, it's all here in my heart." as you placed a hand on her chest.  "And I'll tell you God says Jesus is coming soon."

I don't know what came over me but I threw both my arms up in the air like an Assemblies of God worshiper.  Excitedly I said, "You said the Jesus word!!" and I spun in a circle.

The Point of All This
The lady accepted my emotional outburst with a seeming mixture of pleasure, shock, and bewilderment.  While she no doubt had told other people of her visions, probably no one had reacted quite like the Ozark Uncle.  We had a few more words of encouragement to each other, she thanked me for my help, and she exited the warehouse back into the store.

Those readers who've read some of the Ozark Uncle's early postings to his other blog, The Brown Perspective, know he can take an encounter like this with the elderly lady and cogitate on it for quite a while.   Well, working in the warehouse at TH is not terribly taxing on one's brain, so he mulled over both the Beck rally and the Elderly lady off and on the rest of the day.


A fundamental question lodged in the Ozark Uncle's brain--Whose vision is more credible, that of Glenn Beck or that of The Lady.  Should one even try to judge whether these visions occurred or not? The Ozark Uncle is certainly not going to try to judge.   The Ozark Uncle is better off having seen some of Glenn Beck's rally and hearing this elderly lady testimony.

Closing Thoughts
Once at home last night, I noted on Facebook that inspirational blogger, Terry Hampton, had sent a link to a CNN interview with a long-time religion journalist, Cathleen Falsani, about whether Obama is a Christian.  Another link that has the interview transcribed is one Obama's Fascinating Interview with Cathleen Falsani.   To all my friends, I try to watch the links you suggest regardless of their political slant.  Please do yourself a favor and watch this seven minute video.  This journalist is framing the debate on the "Christian" question.  My perspective is that if this question is going to be a litmus test, start lining up all those you trust, watch their eyes, and then start asking them how then feel about the "Jesus" word.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

MOST EVIL--MUSLIMS, GAYS OR SERPENTS?

One of today's news headlines compelled the Ozark Uncle to write a quick and half-baked post this evening. He really wasn't ready to write an in-depth Brown Perspective on either the Muslim or the Gay issues although his cerebral oven has been baking a Perspective "pie" all summer about the latter.

Snakes Alive!
The Ozark Uncle never planned an extensive Perspective post on serpents nor a shorter Today's Thoughts post but let's start right here and now and get it over with.  As a child and all the way into his thirties, the Ozark Uncle had an abnormal fear of snakes--not spiders, nor bugs, nor lizards, just snakes.  They appeared in his dreams as nightmares, and he found himself avoiding the possibility of a snake sighting or encounter if at all possible.  He even avoided the Biology class in high school for fear he'd have to dissect a snake.

Ozark Uncle and
Grandchildren with
a Friendly Python-2007
As he got older, the Ozark Uncle questioned himself about his fear of snakes and decided he'd never really gotten to know any snakes personally and was totally unfamiliar with their actions, dispositions, and capabilities. One day, a greenhouse friend, Dianna, gave him a tour; as they went down the first aisle of plants she said, "Now, Oscar, don't you go scaring me."  She explained that Oscar was a garter snake that lived in the greenhouse and helped control the insects.  Then she went about working among the plants with no fear of the little creature.

Not long after, I had to work on my mother's landscaping, and she had quite a nest of garter snakes that resided along the back side of her house.  Their presence bothered me considerably but remembering Dianna's technique, I began to call them "friends" and talk to them as I worked.  Now we got along fairly well but the Ozark Uncle was still far from cured.  The next module of sensitivity training for the Ozark Uncle was to watch documentaries on reptiles to get a sense of their movements, their speed and even their striking distance if they struck at all.  This part was probably the hardest because it took a long while before I became comfortable with the closeup views of their heads and bodies.

Ozark Uncle with 4-year old
Ora and a Friendly King Snake
Still a work-in-progress, the Ozark Uncle attended a seminar at the Springfield Nature Center which featured a snake expert.  This gentleman brought several live non-poisonous snakes including a large snake that he let the children come up and touch.  Well, there was the adult Ozark Uncle in line with these seven and eight year olds, waiting for his turn to touch the snake which he did!  Self-worth shot up like a rocket!  Someone in the audience asked the expert about handling poisonous snakes and his reply was, "I don't know, I've NEVER handled a poisonous snake."

In the Ozarks, if any snake should be called evil, it would be a poisonous snake.  The expert's advice is simply to try to stay away from "evil" serpents.   Some of my readers know that the Ozark Uncle has been Mr. Field Trip for his six-year old granddaughter, Ora, since she was about three.  The Nature Center was a major part of my effort to help allay her fears of reptiles and insects caused simply because she hadn't gotten acquainted with them.

Mayhem Over Muslim Cordoba Center 
The Ozark Uncle's regular readers know he displays an extremely open mind on a wide range of issues.  He feels the need to lift up the covers, read between the lines, and listen to what isn't said as much as what is said.  And he wants to make up his mind, not have it made up for him, and he follows his gut as to whether an information source is credible.  He is always on the guard for hidden agendas which in the media are more numerous than snakes in the Ozarks.

The Ozark Uncle has an elderly friend who, at the moment, is frightened for her children and grandchildren because of the impending Muslim menace.  I tried to call her this morning to console her and intend to try again tomorrow.  Although we email regularly, I want to hear her voice and her hear mine.  There will be comfort come out of our visit.

Rick Mathes & Wife, Mission Gate
Prison Ministry, St. Louis, MO
A couple of days ago, this friend forwarded me a "new" email that recounted questions and answers between Rick Mathes, a Christian prison minister, and a Muslim Imam during a prison ministry seminar.  My friend felt this was a recent event, and she's very disturbed about the Muslim faith taking over our society.

In this supposed discussion during the seminar, the Iman confirmed that Muslims are commanded to kill one infidel (i.e., an un-believer).  Well, if one does a search of the internet for the name "Rick Mathes," several sites pop up that identify this forwarded email as being at least five years old, and the underlying encounter has some question marks as to Mathes' version of it.  For example, Snopes.com research indicated that the encounter occurred at the Fulton Penitentiary here in Missouri in 2003.  The prison staff indicated that no Muslim Imam or cleric could be found for the seminar that Mathes attended so a Muslim inmate used what knowledge he had to answer questions.  No one remembers anything resembling Mathes' claims, and when asked by a reporter back in 2005, Mathes didn't really want to discuss it.

This is not the first time one of my older conservative Christian friends have received recycled missives intending to instill fear and encourage older voter turnout.  The Ozark Uncle is really unprepared to address the Muslim issue or agenda, today, but he senses political agendas all over the matter.  The news magazines that come to the Brown house (Time and Newsweek) both identify the issue as being right-wing fear mongering.  If one were to enter the words "Ground Zero Mosque" into a search engine, one can see immediately that the focus of the headline is in direct correlation with the news outlet.  Right-wing outlets are ratcheting up the rhetoric while all other outlets (presumably labeled left-wing) bring out the inconsistencies of the argument and express concern that some Muslims will be pushed to the extreme side of their religion by the issue.

For the moment, the Ozark Uncle's perception is this--Muslims are like serpents; most are nonpoisonous and they would just like to be left alone to lead a peaceful life.  Some of the peaceful Muslims' cousins are poisonous (i.e., they are terrorists), and they WILL strike again within our borders--the Ozark Uncle perceives it will be sooner rather than later.  They are more evil and more dangerous than a poisonous snake because the terrorists are proactive whereas the snakes are reactive.  Generally, if one doesn't invade a snake's den, she won't come into yours.

To my knowledge there are very few Muslims in Springfield.  The only Muslim friends I had moved to Los Angeles not long after 9/11.  They wanted to be in a safer environment, I perceived.  Here in Springfield, small Islamic Center is off of Division Street and it's on my "to visit" list.  It's like going to the Nature Center to get used to an harmless reptile.  The Ozark Uncle wants to know more about this issue.

For God's Sake Help Gays Get Out of the Closet
Today, the Ozark Uncle had lunch with his granddaughter at Pershing Elementary and then headed to Panera Bread for a large glass of unsweetened ice tea and free WI-FI.  In his Gmail Inbox, the Ozark Uncle had a message from the e-magazine, The Atlantic, with the following headline: Bush Campaign Chief and Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman: I'm Gay.  Mehlman was quoted as saying

Ken Mehlman
"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," said Mehlman, now an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm, KKR. "Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."

The Ozark Uncle read the above quotation at 2 p.m. this afternoon on his wife's Toshiba Laptop using Panera Bread's WiFi.  Immediately, he felt compelled to write this post, and it had to be this evening.  He picked up his granddaughter from school a 3 p.m., delivered her to her destination and immediately told  his wife, Joy, "I have to write tonight--everything else off the schedule--I have to write."

Please Read Carefully
During the summer, the Ozark Uncle came to know a Christian who went all the way through a Protestant seminary to learn that the related church would not let him pastor because of his life style.   He is the partner to a close relative of mine; since we met this summer, he has opened up to me.  The Ozark Uncle's long unasked questions about homosexuality simply had to do with the following: when and how do adolescents get involved with the gay life style?  That's all he wanted and still wants to know.

The new Christian gay friend recommended that I read Mel White's Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America.  Well, the Springfield-Greene County Library doesn't have a copy.  So a copy was purchased from Amazon.com, and of course came in a brown paper wrapper.  It took the Ozark Uncle a few weeks to finish the book which he did last week.

Rev. Mel White
I had not read too far into Mel White's book, maybe 30 pages or less, and I realized he was writing my own story as a teenage Christian except from the opposite sexual orientation.  Just as I felt guilt for my lust and desires for females, he felt an even worse guilt for his desire for males which surfaced when he was 12 years old.  Raised in a very religious home where his grandmother was a Pentecostal minister, Mel White hid his desires for years, and married a wonderful and beautiful Christian woman who he loved and she loved him.  He went on to become a national Fundamental Christian leader and pastor, and also a Christian movie producer.  Eventually he was hired to "ghost write" books for Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Jim and Tammy Bakker.

After all kinds of Christian counseling and therapy treatments while in the closet, Mel was a nervous wreck and finally after many years of marriage, he cheated on his wife for the first time.  His guilt was unbearable and a more sympathetic Christian therapist said "Mel, you have to tell her, today!"  Well, he did tell Lyla White that day--what a fantastic woman!  The couple prayed and tried to work through it for several more years but they finally let each other go after 25 years of marriage.  Still he remained in the closet until 1993 when he was 53 years old!  His lovely wife, Lyla, wrote the foreword to Mel's book and it was heartwarming--I still can't get over her love for Mel and her spiritual strength.

My regular readers know I seldom if ever use the use the word believe and prefer the term perception.  The latter allows more information to come in that might alter a perception but beliefs are much more concrete and immovable.  

Well, here's a rare moment--I believe the Whites' story, and I perceive that there are no telling how many other Ken Mehlmans and Mel Whites still in the closet across this nation.  America, we have to let these fellow Americans out of the closet--men and women.   They are in your churches, your military, your work place, and they are not causing you any harm but they are living a miserable life in the closet.  That's now my perception, and I'm stickin' to it.

My discussion on gays doesn't have anything to do with gay marriage--it has to do with kindness for our fellow human beings.  And the Ozark Uncle wants to learn more about my gay brothers and sisters--Mel White contends you can't be led to the lifestyle, your natural sexual orientation does it for you.  A conservative friend told me there are no scientific studies of this--Mel White says there are.  The Ozark Uncle wants to know more.

(There is an irony to gay marriage -- it's an institution that gays want but a lot of heterosexuals are giving up on--isn't that ironic?)  I saw somewhere the other day, "Fix Marriage, Not Gays."

Are there evil gays like there are evil Muslims (terrorists) or evil snakes (poisonous)?  Yes, but even before his enlightenment this summer, the Ozark Uncle has always perceived that there are several times more sex crimes against women by men than there are against men by men.  And pedophilia, child porn, and sex abuse are evil regardless of the parties involved--that's a major issue and breaks my heart but is not relevant to this discussion.

The Ozark Uncle will no doubt write more on the topic of sexual orientation, and he may lose some friends because of it--he certainly hopes not.  Mel White lost friends and even though Mehlman says he's being supported, one has to know there will be lots of acquaintances who won't be accepting his phone calls tomorrow.

Message to the GOP
Republicans, the Ozark Uncle is a gosh darn independent who is also a fiscal hawk.  He's an old Governmental Accounting professor and knows his stuff regarding budgets.  America needs real Republican fiscal conservatism but would you stop pissing me off?! Stop putting fear into everyone to get votes.  (Note to self: yeah, like they're going to listen to you?)

And here is Today's Thought for Tomorrow's Generation.  Young people, it may take thirty years or more but the Ozark Uncle perceives that you will bring a stop to this political madness.  Watch, listen, and feel for all that is going on around you, and a true path will appear on which you will travel forward as Americans.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The "N" Word and the "J" Word

by Ken Brown
Springfield, MO


Foreword:  The Ozark Uncle is paradoxical in many ways but particularly regarding religion -- he is a non-Christian who loves Jesus, (h)is teachings and (h)is principles.  The Ozark Uncle tries not to be judgmental but doesn't always succeed.    If readers find places in this post where I seem to judge or not be Christ-like, please call me out on them.  The biggest concern is that the Ozark Uncle, as a non-Christian, is passing judgment on people who call themselves Christians.  I'll accept all criticisms as graciously as possible.

Rights, Rights, Rights--Rights to Say the "N" Word and Rights to Build a Muslim YMCA.
(Saturday night--Aug. 19) Well, on this blog, the Ozark Uncle posted some thoughts about Dr. Laura and her use of the "N" word on air during her Aug. 10 show.  The posting received responses of both agreement and disagreement with her actions.

(Sunday morning--Aug. 20), the Ozark Uncle used Facebook to shared NPR's report on religious freedom versus freedom of speech.   The religious freedom issue relates to the so-called Ground-Zero Mosque and whether American Muslim rights are being imperiled.  Again voices appeared on my Facebook account on both sides of this dilemma.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) Ky.
Sunday mornings at the Brown house generally involve drinking coffee while watching Meet the Press as the host, David Gregory, wrestles with politicians trying to get them to "out" themselves as to their true agendas.   He most always fails in his effort.

On this particular Sunday morning, the Ozark Uncle was actually dreading it because he knew the headliner guest, Mitch McConnell, would say absolutely nothing about Republican ideas for when they regain power.  [Note on photo at left: Ok, you caught me being biased.  The internet provided over 100 images of the Senator, and I chose the one that seemed the least flattering.  Also it was the only one with his mouth closed].

P.S. Joy ended up watching the show, and she confirmed that he again said nothing worthwhile.  But she failed to mention one thing--when he was asked about whether Obama was a Christian and not a Muslim, Sen. McConnell said he had to take the President at his word that he's a Christian.  Some media outlets took that to mean McConnell wanted to keep the question in play.  What do you think would happen if Gregory's question was "Senator, do you love Jesus and do you think the President loves Jesus?"  Besides Gregory being fired for using the "J" word, what would the Senator say?

At the end of this blog posting, the Ozark Uncle will talk about Jesus being the important focus for everyone, and the term "Christian" is a rather hollow sounding word.  People sling around the words "I'm a Christian" when many of them don't have the foggiest idea of what Jesus should be in their everyday lives [oops, judgment--my bad].  The Ozark Uncle does try to focus on Jesus even though he's a non-Christian.  Regular readers already know this but one can get a glimpse of the Ozark Uncle's past religious experiences on his other blog site "The Brown Perspective" particularly in his "Baptists Turns Green" posting).


Today's Thoughts for the Ozark Uncle
The Ozark Uncle has only a few Facebook friends who are not Caucasian.  But he wants more diversity in his pool of Facebook friends and his personal friends here in Springfield.  If they wish, black friends can tell me what the "N" word means within their community.  The Ozark Uncle perceives that the use of the word is controversial within the black community and it's their issue to address.

At the moment, the Ozark Uncle's perception on disparaging word usage is like this--he has some close friends who play golf together.  Listen to the group on the golf course and you might hear something like this:
    "Dumb Ass, shut up and hit the damn golf ball."
    "Listen Turd Bird, go over behind that tree and play with yourself--I'll hit the ball when I'm good and ready."

Now, let someone from the trailing group of golfers call one of us "Dumb Ass", and we've got ourselves a situation.  The same is for the "N" Word.

And that's where I'm leaving this "N" word business.  In summary, it's more that the word, it's (a) the context, (b) who is saying it and (c) how it is being said.  In America, everyone has the right to say any word or groups of words they wish, but they don't necessarily have an automatic safe harbor after they've said those words.  We are all responsibility for our actions (including our words).

The "J" Word--Today's Thoughts for Tomorrow's Generation
Finally something good out of Sunday, August 21 (besides a first grader's birthday party that the Ozark Uncle attended).

"Sister" Terry Hampton's regular posting on her More To Live For blog outlined her perception of a disconnect between American Christianity and the ways of Jesus.  My interpretation of her main point is that American Christianity focuses on words in the Bible, not on Jesus and his Way.
Rev. Oswald Chambers
(1874-1917)
She cites the Rev. Oswald Chambers and his book of daily devotions called My Utmost For His Highest.  [Note: Chambers' wife pulled together the book of his writings after his death].  The 19th Century Scottish minister taught that a complete knowledge of the words in the Bible was useless if one did not have a personal relationship with Jesus.

My good friend, Fern, keeps sending me quotes from Thomas Jefferson.  That reminded me of the Jefferson Bible in which Jefferson extracted all the teachings of Jesus and placed them in a single volume.  In essence, he created the first "red-letter edition."  Those are the passages that get the Ozark Uncle's attention more than any.

A few years ago, the WWJD bracelets seemed to be everywhere.  The Ozark Uncle even adopted the personal motto, "What Would Jesus Do?"  Today's thought for tomorrow's generation is to consider Jesus as a pattern for your life and address daily problems with "WWJD."  Once you're comfortable with and accept his principles and his ethics, start using the "J" Word.   It's not a word you hear every day.

 News channel (Fox, CNN, MSNBC) watchers, listen and count the number of times the "J" word is used.  An interviewee might use it in an occasional personal testimony but it probably won't hear a moderator us it.  You'll hear words like God, Christian, Evil, Devil, and Divine but not Jesus.  Is it a politically incorrect word? 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

ADVICE FOR DR. LAURA, BE NICE!

Hot in Springfield -- will mow half the lawn that's still unmowed about 7:45 this evening.  Joy said that Russia is having an incredibly hot summer.

Thrift Haven second-hand store -- Joy (the Ozark Aunt) should be home from TH sometime after 6 p.m.  I was up there from about 10:30 a.m. until around 1:30 p.m.  I had to come home and take a nap.  The Ozark Uncle is going to have to get his diet and exercise right if he expects to keep up his quality of life.

Dr. Laura, the "N" Word has a Horrible History with Blacks 

Dr. Laura -- 63-year old Laura Catherine Schlessinger announced this past week that she is ending her national radio show, Dr. Laura, at the end of this year.  This was after she got into an exchange with an African American woman on her live show.  Before the dialogue was over, Schlessinger had used the "N" word eleven times on the air.  I'm still trying to hear a full audio of it, but I perceive that her "advice" to this woman was really more off-color than even the use of the word.   It's now eleven days later and all the evidence is that Schlessinger could rise as a conservative heroine, and her fame and fortune will grow.  Sarah Palin of Alaska has jumped to her defense and through a "Twitter" claimed Dr. Laura is not a racist.  I had to smile at this and wondered if Dr. Laura appreciated Sarah stealing some of the limelight.  


My Thoughts on Dr. Laura
I listened to Dr. Laura on radio back in her early days--it was a time when I needed all the advice I could get.  Since then, I've learned that the best advice is to ignore advice who haven't been in my shoes.  Her advice wasn't all that bad on her show, but her callers were often unbelievably pathetic, and Dr. Laura seemed to chew them up into little pieces before going to a station break.  I imagined these troubled souls becoming even more distraught and helpless after Laura's staff cut them off.  So, if there was one reason I turned her off is that her program format turned me off.  But, if you love Dr. Laura, don't fret -- she'll come out of this with more influence than ever.

The Ozark Uncle perceives there are a growing number of Americans who want to call other Americans whatever they wish--even if it's offensive (First Amendment and all that).  The Ozark Uncle needs to learn how to "Twitter."  He's considering twittering to both Sarah and Laura this question: Is there a name I could call each of you that would immediately insult you?  Here in the Ozarks, most of us don't like to be called "hillbillys"; native Floridians don't like to be called "Crackers." Back in the 1960s, my old college buddy, Ralph Johnson, didn't like being introduced as "my colored friend."  Can you believe I didn't really understand that at first?  Ralph did a lot to help this white boy see through the eyes of someone of another race.

Back to Sarah and Laura, if I were to know what words might push their buttons, the Ozark Uncle wouldn't use them.  There is enough hateful and hurtful things being said among us Americans, and I for one won't be a part of it.  Sometimes it's hard to keep from it, but it's a game I really don't want to play.

To the future generation, the Ozark Uncle says, be considerate of other people's feelings.  I perceive a future when America will again be a caring nation.  But it will be a time when Americans have much less (food and housing, for example).  And it's much easier to care for each other when we're all in the same lifeboat.