The Dark Side

 

The new school year is just around the corner and I find myself feeling as if I should be somewhere other than sitting in my recliner typing this.  I expect the feeling will pass but my thoughts are on the teachers who will soon be welcoming students into their classrooms and those students themselves.

With all the political debate over private and public education, South Carolina’s dismal ranking, teacher pay, House Bill 610, vouchers and the like, I wondered if I was just lucky and somehow caught lightning in a bottle late in my career as I ventured over to the “dark side.”… to a charter school.

A traditional public-school teacher my entire career, I had not been a supporter of the charter school programs, considering them to be havens for the elitist and entitled offsprings of parents who “Didn’t want THEIR kids going to school with those other kids.”

I was confusing charter schools with elitist and entitled private schools like…I’ll let you fill in that blank.  I also believed charter schools were just the educational program “de jure” and, like dozens of other “innovations” I had taught through, would eventually run their course and disappear from the landscape of education.  I was wrong…and rightly so.

One might ask if I was so against the charter school programs, why was I teaching in one?  I wanted a job.  I had retired six years previous and had enrolled myself into the Teacher and Employee Retention Program, TERI for short, which allowed me to teach after retirement while building a “nest egg” for later down my life’s pathway.  NO, IT IS NOT DOUBLE DIPPING!  My TERI had run out and I had become an “at-will” employee and could be terminated without cause which is exactly what happened.

My timing was not the best…it never has been.  With a declining economy, my district did not want to pay a thirty-nine-year veteran with multiple advanced degrees when they could pay a first-year teacher less than half of what I was making.  A sound fiscal policy?  My argument was of course, “I was worth every penny damn of my salary!”

In 2009 I found myself, along with six other teachers, a secretary, and an administrator, opening a new charter school, Greer Middle College Charter High School.  A mouth full.  I was teaching geography to 90 or so fresh-faced freshmen who might have been the most diverse, curious and interesting group I had ever taught.

Many of my students were refugees from “normal” public schools (If there is such a thing).  Some had attended Christian private schools their entire lives; others had been homeschooled and only a few had made it through the public-school system…unscathed and without some type of baggage.  We had a few who were combinations of all three and carrying steamer trunks loaded with baggage.

This was not what made them curious…and delightful.  They were all over the political and religious spectrum.  Third generation “flower power” hippies interacting with the religiously fundamental and politically way right.  I consider myself to be a political and religious moderate which put me far to their political left and religiously…a heathen despite my Methodist up bring and my public dunking into the Baptist Church.  Somehow, we all got along and there is a lesson there somewhere.

During a mandatory student-parental conference, one parent offered to pray for me because of my “liberal” belief that the earth was a bit older than her belief of six thousand years.  I thanked her and considering my many indiscretions decided to allow her to intercede on my behalf.

Due to a glitch, we opened our first year in a church far from what would eventually be our campus and in very tight quarters.  Sausage casing tight.  Everyone knew exactly what every other teacher was teaching, and which student was in trouble.

During my last five years of teaching, I would find I missed the comradery developed with those students and teachers in those close quarters.  It turned out not to be the dark side at all.

Don Miller’s author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Don Miller writing as Lena Christenson can found at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD19

Image from https://steemit.com/funny/@lordvader/one-of-your-teachers-needs-to-learn-a-lesson

 

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Liberal Christian is not an Oxymoron

 

I used to believe I was a moderate, a centrist (?)…hmmmm, maybe not…but a moderate independent none-the-less.  I knew I leaned left on certain issues, leaned left not the whole hog left.  I refuse to say social liberal, fiscal conservative because I can’t seem to keep my bank account balanced.  I am a social liberal.

I am being pushed farther and farther left though my beliefs haven’t changed much over the years.  As I have aged, if anything at all, I have found my way back to a path I had fallen off earlier.  The political spectrum has moved and taken religious beliefs with it…or is it the other way around?

Normally, a person’s religious beliefs are fine with me…provided no one loses a body part, gets disparaged or called an abomination while being publicly stoned…with a rock stoned.

I look at different “Christian” religions as “different flavors” of the same dessert.  Cherry cheesecake or strawberry cheesecake kinds of differences, both are tasty but different flavors of tasty.  Different religions?  Desserts from different ovens?  Yes, there are certain desserts I’m not going to eat and certain denominations I will not follow.

Two days ago, instead of cheesecake, I received a shaving cream pie to the face for expressing my belief that I am a left-leaning Christian.  The shaving cream is burning more than my eyes…a location considerably south of my eyes.

My anger has bothered me greatly, biblically (?), and for two days I have prayed for enlightenment and some anodyne to soothe the burning.  I’ve seen no light and my metaphorical Preparation H seems to be acting like Atomic Bomb.  Therefore, I will burden you, both of my faithful readers.

The comment I made was in regard to what I felt was spreading hatred and division, what I deemed to be hatred and division.  I typed, ”I am a left-leaning Christian, this (the meme) is simply not true about liberals.”  I thought but didn’t type, “Shouldn’t religion be about love and inclusion?”  I should have known better.  The responses immediately went sideways and took on a political slant…no a political jump off a cliff.

Had I left off the words “left-leaning” I would have gone unscathed, but that was my point.  I chose not to engage and barely survived being pummeled by “true believers’” welding social media generated “family Bibles.”  I turned off the notifications and whimpered off into the night.

Not what I was expecting but maybe I should have.  I shared a post about a fence post that started an argument over cement.  Maybe they were funnin’ me…maybe.

Is it just about abortion?  I was told in a different post, reasonably civil, that I was copping out for not basing my entire belief structure and political affiliation on one issue.  Maybe I am skirting the issue…but it is my belief structure and not my issue.  A belief structure involving not only black and white but subtle shades of grays.

I believe I can hate abortion and still believe it is not my right to dictate what a woman or a couple decide for themselves.  If that is copping out I’m not the least bit sorry.  I must answer to my God.  For me, it goes deeper than one issue…albeit,  a big issue.

A really, big issue…but so is war and supporting the death merchants who benefit from it.  So is the gun lobby and our highest percentage rating of gun deaths in the first world.  So is ignoring science for corporate greed while fouling the air and water my grandchildren will have to breath.  Allowing children to go hungry and without medical care while pharmaceutical corporations continue to stuff their offshore bank accounts.

What about an equal education for all?  One that not only teaches people to think but prepares all to compete in a MODERN world.  How do we treat our LGBT friends and their rights?  What are their civil rights?  Why has there been a rise in open hostility some have toward people of color and other religions?

Just some of the issues I discussed with myself as I walked Saturday morning.  There are others, but I only walked for ninety minutes.  I also discussed the question, “Is the other political side any better?”  For now, I say yes but will continue to ask for guidance…and a prescription to calm my anger.

I do not believe Liberal Christian is an oxymoron.  I believe people who say so are using religion to further divide a divided humanity.  Why would we want to do that…or who would want US to do that?  Do not all our Christian religions follow a Middle Eastern man who was, by every modern definition of liberal, a liberal Jew.  I just started to feel better.

For lighter fare try Don Miller at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

For romantic adventure try Don Miller writing as Lena Christenson at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD19

Image from TheChristianLeft.Org and http://whatwouldjackdo.net/blog.html

Southern Ju-Ju

“What sorcery is this?!”  William Shakespeare

“Juju or ju-ju (French: joujou) is a spiritual belief system incorporating objects, such as amulets, (or in this case a butter bean) and spells used in religious practice, as part of witchcraft in West Africa. The term has been applied to traditional African religions.”1

On my morning walk, I looked down at my hand.  My arthritis was (is) bothering me and to add insult to injury, I have poison ivy breaking out on the same hand.  My attention was drawn to the star-shaped scar glowing palely on my ring finger…it dawned on me it had been fifty years since I received it.  Memories flooded back about the witchcraft that created it.

I was preparing to head to football practice, the second of the two-a-days we suffered through back then.  In between, I spent my downtime loading hay in the August heat and humidity and had just finished my second shower of three for the day.  My mother’s friend Gracie Deason had dropped by to visit.  Oddly she didn’t look like a witch doctor.

I found them sitting in the den, newspapers spread across their laps filled with unshelled butter beans.  They were shelling them out while laughing at Gracie’s antics and jokes.  Seemed there were more jokes and laughter than shellin’.  Her voice was as Southern as sausage gravy spread on a buttermilk biscuit.  Gracie was larger than life.  She was loud, funny, boisterous and unconventional for the time, the late Sixties.

I don’t remember ever seeing her in a skirt or dress, although that may be the product of faulty memory.  She was much more prone to wearing blue jeans and oversized men’s work shirts.  She was ahead of her time I guess.  She was also very kind to my ailing mother who suffered from ALS and would submit to it a year and a half later.  Gracie suffered too, from Lupus, but it never seemed to slow her down or dampen her sense of humor.

When she clasped my hand, much to my embarrassment, her hand fell upon the wart located on the top of my ring finger.  I had used topical wart removers but this one just wouldn’t go away.

Loud enough to be heard down the road at Pettus’s store, she exclaimed, “Whatcha’ got there Donnie?  A wart?”

In a much quieter voice, I replied, “Yes ma’am.  I guess I’m going to have to have the doctor remove it.”

“You know I can talk it off.”

“Ma’am?”

“Yep, kneel down here and give me your hand.”

I admit to being just a bit unsettled over the prospect.  I also admit to thinking, “Ain’t no way in hell” but because of my respect for my elders, I did what she asked.

Taking my hand in hers she picked up a freshly shelled butter bean and began rubbing it over my wart.  She also began to speak in a tongue I could not understand or translate.  Maybe a combination of an even more slurred “In a godda la vida”, “Wrapped up like a douche, another rubber in the night,” with a bit of “Good Golly Miss Molly” thrown in for good measure.

When she finished she said in a voice oozing with confidence, “It will be gone before the sun rises tomorrow.”  With a flourish, she threw the butter bean back into the pot to be cooked later.  It has been fifty years for the ramifications of her flourish to dawn upon me.  Yuk.

I did my best to sound grateful but somewhere in the back of my head I thought, with a head shake and mental eye-roll, “Sure it will.”

I didn’t have to wait until sunrise.  The wart was gone just about the time the sun disappeared below the horizon that evening.  It left me just after I had thrown a body block as a running back made his cut…right…on…top…of…my…outstretched…hand.  Specifically, one of his cleats landed on top of my ring finger and the wart sitting on top of it.

It really didn’t hurt, just a sting…until I saw the blood pouring down my hand.  Then it smarted quite intensely.  My coach “with the heart of gold” slapped athletic tape around my ring finger to stanch the bleeding saying, “You’ll be fine.  Get back in there and hit somebody.”  A Mount Everest of compassion.

No Band-Aid, no gauze, just sticky athletic tape.  No hydrogen peroxide or disinfectant…just sticky athletic tape.  Could have been worse, he could have spit chewing tobacco on it or slathered it with Atomic Bomb or poured Tincture of Iodine over it.

Later, after practice I cut the tape and had Al Stevenson yank it off, causing me to use words I had not learned at home.  Displaying itself in the middle of the bloody tape was my wart in all its glory.  I did not float it in alcohol for prosperity’s sake…I couldn’t get it loose from the tape.

Gracie didn’t seem to be very excited when I called to thank her and tell her the great news.  It was more of a “What did I tell you” kind of reaction.  Still, I had a new respect for Southern ju-ju with a butter bean.  Wonder if someone can “talk” away my arthritis and poison ivy?  I’ll supply the butter bean.

1 Mockler-Ferryman, Augustus (1898). Imperial Africa: The Rise, Progress and Future of the British Possessions in Africa. Imperial Press, limited. p. 392.

Image attributed to Lindsay Turner in an article from Sputniknews.com

For more Southern JuJu go to Don Miller’s author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B018IT38GM?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

For hot, romantic adventure go to Don Miller writing as Lena Christenson at https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B07B6BDD19?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

Thought Provoking Piece from Ryan McMaken

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, Patrick Buchanan is an informative and interesting writer. On foreign policy, especially, he’s long been one of the most reasonable voices among high-level American pundits. When it comes to cultural matters, however, Buchanan has long held to a peculiar and empirically questionable version of American history in […]

via The US Is Not “One Nation” – And It Never Was — peoples trust toronto

THE MAGICAL, MORONIC, MANUFACTURED CELEBRATION OF LOVE

I despise Valentine’s Day. How did we get from the celebration of a Roman festival to the madness of today? A manufactured, merchandize driven celebration of love…or the realization of being quite alone. At least if you are depressed there is plenty of chocolate to raise your spirits and increase your waistline. The Valentine’s candy and cards at Wally World has been displayed since the day after Christmas.

A bit of history. One historical version suggests THE FESTIVAL began as the honoring of the Goddess Juno during the Roman Feast of Lupercalia. Young men and women drew names from a jar, pairing themselves for the duration of the feast and sometimes for the year. This was before the use of car or room keys in a fishbowl I guess. Yes, some would fall in love and sometimes even marry. Ain’t that romantic…or moronic?

Farther down the road known as history, the festival was discontinued because it was deemed un-Christian but as we all know you can’t keep a good celebration down. It was just refigured and given another name. According to one popular legend, a Roman priest would give the celebration its name. Valentine, the priest, defied the emperor, Claudius II, when said emperor decided allowing people to marry or become engaged impeded his ability to raise an army to fight the many unpopular military campaigns of the time. He banned marriage and engagements. Valentine, along with another priest, Marius, secretly married couples in Rome until their treachery was discovered resulting in the brutal beating death of Valentine. I think Marius got the better end of the deal even if a celebration is named after Valentine. Both were elevated to sainthood but Marius escaped execution.

Not romantic enough? Try this version. Valentine was helping Christians escape from prison until he himself was ratted out and jailed. While awaiting execution, as the romantic story goes, Valentine and the jailer’s daughter fell in love. On the night before his execution, Valentine penned a letter to his beloved and signed it “From Your Valentine.” Now why does “from your valentine” sound vaguely familiar?

If those unsubstantiated legends aren’t enough, early Roman-Christians believed birds mated in mid-February. It doesn’t matter. I HATE VALENTINE’S DAY! I have hated Valentine’s Day for thirty years or more. I’d rather be beaten ala Valentine or machine gunned ala Al Capone’s The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Flowers wilt and chocolate is fattening, plus the object of my romantic inclinations shouldn’t eat chocolate for health reasons. FOR THIRTY YEARS, I HAVE TRIED TO DO SOMETHING UNIQUE FOR THE UNIQUE PERSON WHO IS LINDA GAIL! Moreover, for thirty years I have failed. Even the rose bushes I bought with so much care, planted and fertilized so carefully, watered and talked to…died. Can you really kill something with love? YES! … YOU! … CAN!

One year, the worst, I reserved a romantic meal at a nearby inn on a mountain above us. IT SNOWED! Determined to be romantic or machine gunned, we went anyway. A phone call told us they were open but with no electricity. “Come on, the meal will be served by candlelight.” How much more romantic could it get? Just shoot me. JUST FREAKING SHOOT ME! A twenty-minute trip turned into an hour as we dodged downed powerlines and fallen limbs but we made it. It was romantic. Candles and little mini-lanterns. The meal served in courses by waitresses in the cutest little uniforms. A three-digit meal before we got to the tip…but it was going to be worth it! A good meal, romantic small talk, footsy under the table, a short drive home and if I played my cards right…acte d’amour. Not on your life. On the side of the road she upchucked A FREAKING THREE-DIGIT MEAL. l’acte de vomir was all I got.

Am I trying too hard. Is it too much to want to do something special and unique for a special and unique person for goodness sakes? I have been dreading St. Valentine’s Day since the last one and have been trying to come up with something special…maybe I’ll just prepare the meal. A quiet dinner with a French motif. A small table with a checked tablecloth featuring one of those candles in a wine glass with melted wax dripping down the side. I’ve got a bottle of wine somewhere…it’s full. I guess I should start drinking it if I’m going to get a candle holder ready by this evening…and if I’m going to survive it.

Uniquely Southern, uniquely insightful, books by Don Miller can be bought or downloaded at http://goo.gl/lomuQf

I CHOOSE CIVILITY

“formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech:
synonyms: courtesy · courteousness · politeness · good manners ·
graciousness · consideration · respect · comity”

I defined civility simply because I am unsure how many of my “social media” friends actually know what it means or if they do, they have decided that using it is just too “PC”. Two threads I started, (with what I thought was a simple comment about violent crime rates and another about the protests taking place during the National Anthem), crumbled into something else entirely. We raged far afield from the original posts and disintegrated into a playground melee stopping just short of someone yelling “yo’ momma!” Another former teaching friend lamented being verbally attacked over a position he took on one of his own treads. That would be former teacher not former friend. The word of the day, week or year seems to be ‘ATTACK’ which is why I am trying to choose civility instead of trying to shout someone down. Yes, kill them with kindness…ha…ha…ha.

I continue to hear people state “We are too PC” so I have also looked up a definition and provided it: “to criticize language, actions, or policies seen as being excessively calculated to not offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society.” There was a time when I was taught that “NOT OFFENDING” was a good thing and why would you want to disadvantage anyone…ohhhhhh, you mean a perceived enemy, I get it now. ITS OKAY TO OFFEND OUR ENEMIES! The people we or you are fighting with. People we are at war with. You know, people that are trying to shoot us, blow us up, are of a different religion than us, people with a different sexual preference who might want to get married, people with different ideas about race, people who decide to protest against things we hold near and dear, or people who think that beer “TASTES GREAT!” rather than is “LESS FILLING!” FUCK…THEM…ALL! JUST LEAVE IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT I AM SPOUTING! WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE! YOU ARE NOT OUR KIND…Oh I forgot to include the guy down the road that has decorated his road front with Trump-Pence campaign signs! JUST LEAVE THE COUNTRY WE DON’T WANT YOU! Actually I just said the last one because my wall is so conservative, I mean I live in South Carolina. What do you expect, I just wanted to put a burr under my conservative friends’ BVDs and all. You know all in good fun, don’t want to offend you…come on smile a little.

You see, I believe “not being too PC” is simply an invitation to cross the line and be a bully. It’s an easy thing to be a bully hiding behind the keys of a computer after all. The keys are not likely to rise up and punch you in the eye. When a friend or my brother takes me to task on my liberal social leanings I try to pay attention because they normally provide insight and logical reasons…or at the least reasons. When an asshole provides, “I wish all liberals would die!” well, I GET PISSED and that is almost where my tread went. Also I realize somewhere there is a liberal asshole writing “I wish all conservatives would die!” I just don’t see a lot of those because my wall is so…right…I mean so conservative.

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a damn lie invented by a gray-haired grandmother to take the pain away caused by the sting of the spoken or printed word. “But I was just speaking my mind” in many cases crosses the line between speaking your mind and verbally slapping someone across the chops. That is why I am choosing civility…that and my normal peace keeping tendencies. I will weigh my words carefully. Why use a nuclear bomb when a ruler across the palm of the hand is enough? Oh wait, you don’t believe in corporal punishment…Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.

For more of Don Miller’s unique views of life and humor try http://goo.gl/lomuQf

THE END IS NEAR

“We are in the end of times!” “We are in the days of Revelations!” So much doom and gloom. I am reminded of the street preachers on Bourbon Street when Linda Gail and I visited New Orleans, the “Sin City with Southern Charm.” We were on our honeymoon and later on our anniversary. Those preachers were shouting the same thing from every corner. “Your time is near! Repent your sins.” Irreverently, I am also reminded of the children’s story about a chicken running around yelling, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!”

I don’t deny that MY time is near and the sands are running out of MY hourglass. I don’t know of anyone who is going to get out of this life alive anyway, but as a person who believes…hopes he is a Christian, I really don’t know what we are to do if it truly is… (gothic organ music) … “The End of Times.” Are we to sit patiently in prayer waiting? Should we put on our “sackcloth and ashes?” “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” Are we to do nothing? I cannot NOT be proactive even if proactive is just going on with life “for its own sake.” I am a retired coach and I cannot NOT compete even if it is for my last breath.

My problem or one of my problems is, if this is the “end of times” it’s because we as humans have fallen down on the job. We have failed ourselves and God. Whether it is global climate change or loving thy neighbor, I am seeing fewer and fewer people attempting to make this world better and are opting to say “Prepare…we are nearing the days of Judgement.” That may be true but should we not be attempting to correct issues and make our world a better place. Throwing up our hands is throwing in the towel. Have we forgotten “God helps those who help themselves?” I know that is really not in the Bible but it probably should be. Had I written the Bible I would have put it in there.

My second problem is “What if it is not the end of times?” According to Matthew in the King James Bible, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Do we not owe it to ourselves as good humans to act a little more “Christ like?” even if you are not a Christian. Jesus exemplified characteristics such as faith, hope, charity, patience, humility, purity, diligence, and obedience, characteristics seemingly to be in short supply recently on our little blue ball and characteristics that should be shared by all religions.

Do what you want. I am going to choose to be proactive. I am going to choose to fight and I don’t mean go out and dig a bunker to survive Armageddon in. I am not only going to try to be good, I’m going to TRY AND DO good. You know the “Love thy Neighbor”, be good to the poor, try to be uplifting kind of good that was taught by Jesus of Nazareth and modelled by Jimmy Carter. I want to be THAT role model for my daughter and grandchildren. If it is truly “The End of Days,” I would just a soon be surprised anyway.

For more of Don Miller’s unique views of life and humor try http://goo.gl/lomuQf

EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON?

WITH CREDIT TO BLAIR (THE SHAMEFUL SHEEP)

Blair’s blog post struck a nerve. No, not really a nerve, it was just worrisome…and I agreed with her blog post. If you like blogs, you should look her up. I don’t think it was her intention but her post made me think about God as I walked and ran early this Sunday morning. I talk to God a lot when I run but usually it is to request something like, “Please God help me get up this hill” or “Oh God, ANOTHER HUNDRED YARDS?” The conversation this morning was not “that kind” of conversation and I continued to carry the heavy, mental conversation I was having with myself and God into church and I don’t really remember what my preacher talked about. Sorry but a least I didn’t fall asleep and it was “sorta” a spiritual conversation.

It was Blair’s opening remarks that got me to thinking, and I quote her, “You know when you’re down on your luck, going through a terrible time, and all you want to do is drown yourself in a vat of melted chocolate? Then, you lean on your loved one for support and they say, ‘don’t worry, everything happens for a reason.’ Really? Am I the only one who gets stabby over this saying? My dog got run over for a reason? How comforting.” Exactly what does “stabby” mean? Oh, slang for angry.

I don’t think I’ve ever used the word stabby or used “Everything happens for a reason,” but it got me to thinking anyway. First I thought about Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 or if you are not familiar with the scripture, the old Byrd’s song “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Not familiar with either? You have enough information to Google it. “Seek and ye shall find” and I would probably YouTube the song. For the Cliff Note people, the verse explains there is a time for everything and by my own logic, a reason for everything that happens. It was after my “logic” that things went a bit contrary.

During my short run and walk my thinking went “right” off the tracks. I should have been happy just to be running again but you see, twenty-five years ago I lost my college ring. I’ll let that sink in. Twenty-five years ago I lost my college ring. “Everything happens for a reason?” What possible plan could God have for my college ring? Why did losing my ring happen for a reason? To teach me a lesson about taking better care of my possessions? I WAS being careful. I was on my way out to do yard work and did not want to ding the ring on something and damage it or worse, hang the ring, still on my finger, ala Cecil Upshaw.

Gee whiz I really feel old explaining who Cecil Upshaw was. Cecil was a major league pitcher who, on a bet, jumped up to touch an awning, hung his ring and tore the ligaments in his finger. He was never an effective pitcher again. So I WAS being careful. I might still have a major league career. I reached to put the ring on a shelf and “clumsily” dropped it causing the ring to bounce and disappear down a hole on our old back porch. I looked, and I looked and I looked. Even when we tore down the kitchen and back porch to renovate the old farm house I looked in every nook and cranny and in every brick or cement block that was carried out. No ring. Every time I am under the house I pause and ask God where the ring might be hiding. Silence. I am sure a long dead pack rat took it to her nest to help keep the kiddies captivated.

A lesson on clumsiness? And God said, “YOU MUST BE LESS CLUMSY, I AM GOING TO TEACH YOU A LESSON!” I can hear the thunder rumbling behind his comment now. God, you made me in YOUR image. How many times have you knocked over a glass or tripped over your own shadow? I know, NEVER, but IT IS a valid question. If everything happens for a reason, what was the reason? Other than pissing me off it doesn’t seem to have accomplished anything but EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON!

I know many of you wonder if I am flirting with a lightning strike. I don’t think so because my God is the loving God of the New Testament and knows my heart. He knows I AM NOT committing blasphemy. He is also a humorous God. God made me which is really a knee slapper if you think about it. I have conversations like this with God all of the time. On a bad allergy day not long ago, I asked him why he decided to put my nose, upside down over my mouth allowing it to drain into my mustache. Then it started to rain and I knew. Evolution? I think not AND THERE ARE MUCH WORSE PLACES MY NOSE COULD BE!

It’s now late in the evening and I have had this conversation going on all day. God has provided no divine clarification but it could be my liquid libation. WAIT! Maybe he has. 1st. Corinthians 4:5 says, “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” Well, I don’t know about the motives in men’s hearts or the praise, but I can tell you the first question I’m going to ask him. Finis.

Blair The Shameful Sheep can be read at https://bhharned.wordpress.com/

Don’t forget to visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

DEJA VU….

Am I the only person who sees similarities between the political division and social protest we are experiencing today and the protest and division related to the Sixties? There was unrest as African-Americans oh so slowly gained SOME Civil Rights and social justice. Protests became violent as civil rights marchers were opposed by fire hoses, police dogs and batons. Inflammatory rhetoric was spoken on all sides – the far reactionary right and radical left…AND BY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. Both the KKK or Black Panthers resorted to bombs, bank robberies, riots and assassinations in an attempt to slow down or speed up the process depending upon their particular world view. Riots in major cities were sparked by MLK’s assassination. I am sure no one of my age can forget the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Young people violently protested the Vietnam War along with other social issues. They burned draft cards or American Flags while facing down policemen in riot gear and Mayor Daily’s political machine. The drug culture of the Sixties with the “Make love not war” Hippy movement gave our parents pause to shake their heads in dismay. Appalled conservatives believed we had a real problem of lacking respect for authority and law and order.

The names of the wars have changed as have the names of the politicians who wage them and the names of the young people who are dying in their stead. Today we are not fighting over political dogmas but rather over religious beliefs…supposedly. The only people winning are those who are paid off to promote war and those who actually sell the weapons of death. It was the same in the Sixties as it is today- war mongers and arms dealers rake in the cash. Even though the weapons have become more efficiently destructive, death certainly has not changed nor has the sorrow or cost in life and devastation caused by those weapons.

We still do not have a religious, political or economic system inclusive to all. The extremists are either still battling to move things along more quickly or to insure that they move back to the way they were. Even the motion picture industry is under fire with protests and a call to boycott the Oscars over the issue of diversity. I hear the same arguments that highlighted the Civil Rights movement in the Sixties reverberating from both sides. These arguments now include lesbians and gays or Christians and Muslims or gun control. Instead of being about societal concerns, student protests seem to be more “me” oriented. I both hope and fear that my perception is one that has been packaged and perpetuated by the media “trolls” on both sides for a deeper, more ominous reason, perhaps for increasing ratings or possibly to create more unrest. With recent police-involved shootings and the “Black Lives Matter” reactions to them, I can hear the distant cries about “police brutality” and to “barbeque a pig” echoing through the fog of time. Our own population seems to be hell-bent on self-destruction …just as it seemed to be in the Sixties and for many of the same reasons.

The ’68 Presidential election experienced some of the same disunity we see in debates for the upcoming 2016 election. The leading Democratic candidate Bobby Kennedy was assassinated by a Jordanian Arab, Sirhan Sirhan, over Kennedy’s pro-Israel position. The left anti-communist, pro-civil rights liberal Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey attempted to unify a party divided over a “civil rights plank” in the party’s platform and failed to do so. Pro-segregationist and state’s rights candidate George Wallace took five Southern states in the election and many other votes away from Humphrey and helped hand “Tricky Dick” Nixon the presidency. Nixon even had his own “Southern Strategy” to pull Southern Democrats into the Republican fold, expediting the Democratic Party’s “liberalization” that began with Truman’s desegregation of the Army in the early Fifties and which gained momentum after Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Earlier there was a “liberal” court ruling overthrowing Plessy v Ferguson for Brown v Board in 1954 that wasn’t fully implemented until the late Sixties and early Seventies. It is both interesting and disconcerting that during the past fifty years, we still haven’t moved past division caused by sectionalism, race, executive orders, liberal courts and the Middle East.

I once stood in front of a US History class and remarked that it was my belief that 1968 was the most polarizing and divisive year since the Civil War. Assassinations, Tet, riots over Civil Rights and the war all boiled over and did not conclude during the Democratic Convention. Later the massacre at Mai Lai would come to light and create more discord over the war…justified I would guess. I also remarked that, as I look back in retrospect, I am surprised we were able to survive it as a country. I don’t know if I could make the same statement today about 1968. With things as turbulent as they are right now, I can only hope that we survive until 2018 to celebrate the fifty years since 1968. The scary thought is that conditions may get worse before they get better.

As the Watergate scandal was still a few years down the road after 1968, what do we have looming in our present day world? Will we be faced with a confrontation with Iran or with Russia or with more race riots? Let us learn from history that names may change but the same thing will continue to happen again unless we have a spiritual revolution… Maybe what we really we need is another Woodstock, world-wide, to finally get people to whole-heartedly desire love and peace and harmony!

DECISIONS, DECISIONS…ALREADY?

It’s the third day of the new year, 2016, and I am already facing a decision. Not an earth shattering one…unless it is. Just a slight adjustment but one I hate to make…despite my New Year’s Resolution #1 that included the admonishment to “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!” It is a concession to age and oh how I despise making a concession to MY AGE! For over a year now I have battled my arthritic and injured knee and my running. Over the same year I have mulled over my orthopedic surgeon’s prognosis, “There is a knee replacement sometime in your future.” He said other things but for some reason I didn’t hear much after the “knee replacement” part. I probably ought to get some clarification. I did make the decision to put it off as long as possible…which brings me to the decision to discontinue—GASP—running.

Running has been a constant companion since April 9, 2006. I had been a “hit or miss” kind of runner the decade previous…make it more miss than hit, but in 2006 I made the decision that I needed to make a lifestyle change. A heart attack will cause you to contemplate such modifications and, when it occurs on your birthday, remembering the anniversary of your heart attack is that much easier. I really don’t have a problem recalling the feeling of an elephant sitting on my chest and the fear that went with it. Because of that fear I made major alterations that included exercise and a new diet that allowed me to drop sixty-plus pounds. One of those alterations was twice a day bouts of walking and running. Mostly walking but some forty or fifty mile weeks of running thrown in for good measure. Since my injury my bouts are once a day and focus much more on walking than running.

My problem is not with the exercise. I can replace my running with more cycling and fitness walking. I really need to be more consistent with strength training. Maybe a rowing machine or a membership to the Y. Yeah I can do that…but what about my head? I should mention I once suffered from clinical depression…but not since I began running consistently. That’s the small stuff I am sweating. I’m not sure I can out walk my ghosts or the grim reaper. I just know if I don’t stop running I may not be able to out walk anything.

So the decision is made…right? As I walked into church this morning I picked up a bulletin and immediately noticed a runner on the front in starting blocks along with a Bible verse from Hebrews, “Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus.” Okay…looks like their maybe a bit of prayer before my decision is fully made.

Don Miller is a retired teacher and coach who, in addition to his Blog, has written three books that have drawn heavily from his childhood and years in teaching. They may be downloaded or purchased in paperback at the following links:
“WINNING WAS NEVER THE ONLY THING…” goo.gl/dO1hcX
“FLOPPY PARTS” http://goo.gl/Ot0KIu
“PATHWAYS” http://goo.gl/v7SdkH