Category Archives: Religion

Issue 364 – Fleeing Hurricane Irma, Part 3

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The Paregien Journal    —    Issue 364    —    September 21, 2017

Fleeing Hurricane Irma, Part 3 of 3

[See Parts 1 and 2 for earlier portions of the story of our evacuation from Bradenton, Florida due to the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irma.]

On Thursday, Sept. 14th, we made a mad dash from our motel in Lexington, Kentucky about 20 miles west to visit Frankfort, Kentucky. That is where the state’s capital is, plus that is where the grave of he one-of-a-kind American hero Daniel Boone is buried. The first place we went was to the final resting place of Daniel Boone and his beloved wife Rebecca. A tall, impressively carved marker stands in the beautiful and historic cemetery across the Kentucky River on a bluff which looks out upon the State Capital.

2017--09--14 06--D Frankfort, KY - Stan Paregien at grave of Daniel Boone - by Peggy Paregien

2017--09--14 06--A Frankfort, KY - grave stone of Daniel Boone -2017--09--14 06--B Frankfort, KY - Stan Paregien at grave of Daniel Boone - by Peggy Paregien2017--09--14 06--C Frankfort, KY - Stan Paregien at grave of Daniel Boone - by Peggy Paregien2017--09--14 06--F Frankfort, KY - Stan Paregien at grave of Daniel Boone - by Peggy Paregien2017--09--14 06--G Frankfort, KY - grave of Daniel Boone - by Stan Paregien2017--09--14 06--H Frankfort, KY - grave of Daniel Boone - by Stan Paregien2017--09--14 06--J Frankfort, KY - grave of Daniel Boone - by Stan Paregien2017--09--14 07--A Frankfort, KY - State Capital Building - by Sttan Paregien2017--09--14 07--B Frankfort, KY - State Capital Building - by Sttan Paregien2017--09--14 07--C Frankfort, KY - Ky Historical Society Bldg Quote from Happy Chandler - by Sttan Paregien2017--09--14 07--D Frankfort, KY - First Baptist Church building - by Sttan Paregien

Then we drove up to Williamstown, Kentucky. Never got to see the town itself. But we saw what draws many hundreds of people every day to the edge of town. Just off I-75 is an attraction named “Ark Encounter.” A bunch of some bodies invested a ton of money in this project. Taking the actual dimensions given in the Old Testament of Noah’s Ark, they built a 510 foot arch, with a ground floor devoted to a huge gift shop, some meeting room, etc. Then the ark itself — with all the birds and beasts and such all arranged two by two — takes up three full floors. We walked ourselves silly and were amazed by all of the displays and exhibits. We probably spent three hours or so there.

However, if you’re a serious student of the Bible and/or archeology and such, you really ought to buy a two-day pass. Then pace yourself by maybe spending two hours there on the first morning and after lunch another two hours. Same thing for the second day. My bet is you won’t even be able to see it all even then. It is H-U-G-E, as a car dealer in the Tampa area likes to shout in his commercials.

2017--09--14 11 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 12 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 13 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 14 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 15 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 16--A Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - by Peg Paregien2017--09--14 16--B Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Stan and Peg Paregien2017--09--14 16--C Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien2017--09--14 17 Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien2017--09--14 18--A Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien2017--09--14 18--B Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien2017--09--14 18--C Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien

After seeing the Ark Encounter, we had planned on driving on up to Indianapolis to visit Peggy’s eldest sister, Mrs. Charlotte Allen Richardson and her husband Bill. We thought we might spent a couple of nights there, then wander west to our son’s house near St. Louis for the duration of our evacuation from Florida. That is, we did not want to start back until we were sure we had our electricity back on and that food and gas supplies were adequate.

However, about then we got a call from a neighbor back home in Bradenton. She gave us the exciting news that our electricity had been restored (it had been off since last Sunday night). And she said it looked like our house had only very minor damages.

Hallelujah! Those were the words we were waiting to hear. We did a quick u-turn and headed back to Florida. However, I did not want to drive down I-75 again. So we went slightly west toward Nashville and I-65. We spent Thursday night in a very busy, small town named Franklin, Kentucky, right on I-65. We had perhaps the best night of sleep since we had been forced out of our home by Hurricane Irma.

On Friday, Sept. 15th, we left Franklin, Kentucky about 8:30 pm and drove through some patches of fog on the way down to Nashville. Getting through congested “Music City” was no easy task, but I guess it did prepare us for what was coming next.

After actually looking at a map and seeing that the lower part of I-65 took us way west toward Mississippi, we decided to boogie back over to Chattanooga and join back up with . . . yep, . . . I-75. There is some major road construction going on in Chattanooga, so it was stop and go all the way.

When we got to I-75. the pace of the hordes of southbound traffic moved along pretty well for the most part. That is, until we got to Hell. Yeah, you know — Hell, Georgia. Oh, okay, you may know it better as Atlanta. But I’m here to tell you that driving through Atlanta from 2:15 pm to 5:30 pm is as close as I want to get to hell.

2017--09--15 10 Atlanta, GA -- hell on wheels - by Peg Paregien

2017--09--15 11 Atlanta, GA -- hell on wheels - by Peg Paregien

There were six lanes of traffic going each direction, but it all was going at the speed of a senior citizen snail. It was bad. No it was downright awful. I have driven in a lot of big cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Montgomery, Indianapolis, Columbus, and more. But I ain’t never in all my born days driven in anything that could compare to the helter-skelter of Atlanta. I came away from that white-knuckle experience crying, “No mas! No more! Never again!” Or to paraphrase the great Chief Joseph of Idaho’s Nez Pierce tribe who finally admitted defeat at the hands of the U.S. Army. He said, “As long as the grass grows and the water flows, I will fight no more forever.” And I said as I exited Atlanta, “As long as I am half-way sane, I will drive no more forever in Atlanta.” Amen and Amen!

We were physically and emotionally exhausted when we finally got to our . . . eh, well . . . 3rd rate motel in Macon, Georgia. After a few $160 per night hotels we just had to take something cheaper. It turned out to be okay. Certainly nothing fancy about the room, and the continental breakfast the next morning left much to be desired. But it was a bed and the room was air-conditioned . . . and they allowed pets. 

We set our alarm for 5:30 am on Saturday, Sept. 16th. And we hit the blacktop on I-75 at 6:40 am. We were going home. Nothing quite like that feeling after so many one-or-two night stands. There were pockets of very heavy traffic, especially about 11 am at all six exits or so to Gainesville. We wondered why the heck the traffic was backed up so far. And, bingo, we remember that the University of Florida “Gators” had a home football game that afternoon.

Amazingly, we managed to average about 66 mph on Saturday’s travel. We drove into our driveway about 2:00 pm.

2017--07--17 03 Cartoon - even anti-government folks ask for help after a disaster

2017--09--17 01 Bradenton, FL - Cartoon - linemen were heroes

2017--09--17 02 Bradenton, FL - home damaged - by Peggy Paregien

2017--09--19 01 Bradenton, FL - tree damage - by Stan Paregien

2017--09--19 02 Bradenton, FL - tree damage - by Stan Paregien

Yes, we did see a lot of trees down along the roads, all the way from central Georgia to Bradenton. And some of the residents in our 55+ community had some significant damage, with maybe 25 families still without electricity. Florida’s sauna-like summer heat and humidity are terrible for anyone without air conditioning, but it is especially hard on young children and on seniors. But, all in all, we were thankful the hurricane had not made a direct landing here.

Be it ever so humble, it is always a good feeling to get back home. And it is especially wonderful when the house that you half-way expected to lose in a massive storm surge of water is still in tact. Thank you, Lord.

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Issue 356 – Joy of Aging & Other Lies

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The Paregien Journal  –  www.paregien.com  –  Issue 356  –  July 6, 2017

The Joy of Aging & Other Lies

Okay, buckeroos and buckerettes, make sure your butt is firmly planted on your saddle and your boots are in your stirrups, and your age-spotted hands and arthritic fingers have a firm grip on your horse’s reins. We are about to take a ride down memory lane.

Only this won’t be your Grandma’s memory lane about all the veggies she and Grandpa used to gather from their big garden out back and how she “canned ’em” (i.e., pressure cooked them and put  them in quart jars) and stacked in the basement to be enjoyed some cold day in January. It is not about Grandpa’s musings about how unusually large the fish were that he used to catch in just a few hours at the lake. Nope, none of that stuff.

This little essay is about the here and now, about what a short time it took we old geezers to get from wherever we neaked through high school to the place far away where we live and how things have changed 360 degrees from then to right now. 

So I’ll say like they do on cable TV just before reporting on some awful story, “A fair warning. The content of this next report might be upsetting to some.” Yeah, right. Like to 99.9 percent of people with at least half-way functioning brain matter.

Let’s start with this little book:

1,003 Great Things About Getting Older

Birnbach, Lisa et al - 1,003 Great Things About Getting Older -- 1997 by MJF Books -- front cover

My wife Peggy, otherwise known as the World’s Greatest Optimist (aka “sweet thing”) gave me this little book a while back. I thought it was a joke book. You know, it says “1,003 Great Things About Getting Older” but you open it up and the pages are blank. Sorta like that one “Everything Your Daddy Told You About Women But You Forgot.” But, no, this one actually has pages filled with stuff.

Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Mars and David Owen had their fingers in the pie when it came to compiling these gems of politically correct wisdom. So here are a few sayings to help you get through your first cup of coffee. My comments are in the brackets.

**** It doesn’t take so long for summer to come again. [Not a good thing here in Florida — SP]

****  You’ve paid off your student loans [unless you’re a doctor or a lawyer — SP]

****  You receive mail every day, even if it’s only catalogs and bills. [Yeah, and most of the catalogs are from nursing homes and hearing aide companies. — SP]

****  Your arthritis makes you less likely to lose your wedding ring. [Wrong. I lost mine while frolicking at the beach. “Flrolicking” at my age means wading knee-deep in the water when it is still cool (70’s) to avoid shock to the part of my anatomy which actually probably needss shock treatment — SP]

****  All moral issues are conveniently black and white. [Right. Except those which are not — SP]

****  Weekends suddenly have meaning. [Hey, weekends slip in and out like a thief in the night. I stopped wearing a wristwatch when I retired. Now that we’ve been retired in Florida for four years, I’m also gonna give up my calendar — SP]

****  Dental implants let you eat corn on the cob, again. [Thanks, but I was robbed by my last two dentists. So I’ll just sip soup through a straw. — SP]

****  By age 74, refilling the bird feeder is a good morning’s work. [That or changing a flat bicycle tire. — SP]

****  By age 88 you can still identify half the people in your photo albums. [Ah, ha. Got you there. I have converted most all of our photos to digital images, complete with the names and locations of the subjects. That is what has kept me out of the pool halls most of my life. And most of ’em — well over 13,000 — are stored not only on my computer but also online on my FLICKR account which has 1 Terrabyte of storage — SP]

****  By age 100, all your enemies are dead.

****  A  little sex goes a long way. [Darn it, speak up. Your little grandson Rex does what? — SP]

****  People get out of your way when you drive down the street. [Only the smart ones. — SP]

Men Will Understand This One

All Too Well

 

Medical - prostate_exam_ 04sign_100dpi

My cousin Jerry R. Paregien is my favorite patriot-in-exile from California. He and his wife have lived about 20 years now on a mountain outside of Kingsport, Tennessee. From their back balcony, they can look across a wide valley and see the beautiful Clinch Mountains of Virginia on the horizon to the north.

Like Steve Martin, Jerry is a wild and crazy guy. Though he is showing early signs of  . . .  eh, . . . dement- . . . eh, . . .  Alzhei . . . something or other, Why, that Prune Picker still remembers every joke he ever heard and delivers each punch like with vim and vigor. Actually, I don’t know whether he remembers any of those “farmer’s daughter and the salesman” jokes from our teenage years, but if he does he ain’t admitting to it.

Boys, now what I’m about to tell you is the gospel truth. ‘Cause I heard it directly from my ‘Cuz. And pert near everything he tells me is resonably precise. 

Medical - prostate exam -- 03 - doctor smiling

Jerry told me that a couple of years or so ago, his appointment with his doctor for his annual physical rolled around. When they called his name from the cattle corral (waiting room), one of their nurses took him aside and took his weight and vital signs (yes, he still has some). And she escorted him to the Great Waiting Room down the hall where he twittled his thumbs for 15 or 20 minutes.

Finally, the doctor came in and they exchanged pleasantries. The doc checked his chart and his medications and declared him not-exactly-brain-dead. Said he seemed to be in mite near perfect condition for an old man with not long to live on Mother Earth. 

Then the doc began to stammer and stutter and finally got out these dreaded few words that send a chill up the spine of any red-blooded American male. He said, “Well, Jerry, stand up, turn around  and drop your pants and BVD’s to your knees. Time for me to check where the sun don’t shine.”

Medical -- prostate exam -- DR - 'I don't enjoy them either'

Jerry turned his head around, as much as his arthritis would allow, and looked his doc in the face and said in his professional, deadpan comedian way: “Well, Dr. Jones, I should darn well hope you’re going to check my prostate. I didn’t wash my butt today, like this, for just anybody.”

When the doctor finally quit laughing, and after visiting that Dark Domain, he said to my ‘Cus: “Jerry, for years now I have kept a log of funny things that my clients say to me. You will be pleased to know that your comments will go down in history.”

Medical - prostate exam -- 02 - using a baseball glove

NOTE: The above cartoon is especially for my two old friends, Bob L’Huillier (Bradenton, FL) and Victor Knowles (Joplin, MO), who are devoted baseball fans. 

Carter, Jimmy -- The Virtues of Aging -- 1998 - NY Ballentine Publishing - page 01 - front coverCarter, Jimmy -- The Virtues of Aging -- 1998 - NY Ballentine Publishing - page 02 - back cover

Now surely all of you, well maybe not you young ‘un’s under 50 or so, remember ol’ Jimmy Carter, long-time peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia. He was born there on Oct. 1, 1924.

Now my Grandpa Paregien was a “yellow-dog” Democrat until his dying breath. Somehow I went down the Republican path. But I came through the wringer of the Hippie Years and the Anti-Vietnam War Years. So I did my own thing and I castigated my first vote for a Democrat when I voted for Jimmy Carter. I mean, gee whiz, after all the duds we’d had before, I felt we just couldn’t go wrong voting for a certified man of the soil, a tried and true peanut farmer. After all, a distant relative of mine — Johnny Walters of Wapanucka, Oklahoma–was “Peanut Farmer of the Year” one time in Johnston County.

Well, I’d admit I was wrong about that premise and have made two or maybe three fair-to-middlin’ mistakes since then. But how the heck was I to know that he was also an expert on atomic submarines and other useless stuff like that. Ignorance is often bliss, and I was in la-la-land that day I voted for Mr. Carter.

Shootfire, ol’ Jimmy was a sure ’nuff nice guy. He even taught a Sunday morning Bible class almost everywhere in the world he happened to be, and still teaches his “Adults 101” Bible Class today in Plains (they call it 101 because that’s about the average age of the class members). But even nice guys don’t necessarily make good presidents. Of course, comparing him to Donald J. Trump today I have to say that ol’ peanut farmer looks better and better.

Do you remember Jimmy Carter’s dear, free-spirited momma? Lillian Gordy Carter often shot from her lip, saying just whatever she wanted to say whether it was approved by the Southern Baptist Convention or by the Geneva Convention either one. She was a corker to be sure. And then there was Jimmy’s junior brother, good ol’ Bubba — no, wait a minute, it was Billy. Billy Carter, whose only claim to fame was getting his name on some beer cans — “Billy Beer.” They didn’t serve it in finer restaurants back then, but you might have been able to get one out in Luckenbach, Texas.

But I digress, as I’m prone to do.

Here are some of President Carter’s words of wisdom about the virtues of growing old. He is still a Card-Carrying Baptist so I hope the Lord will excuse him for stretching-the-blanket a bit” (as the old-time cowboys used to refer to any cowpoke who stretched the truth). Keep in mind this remarks are from his 1998 book, noted above.

“Even before leaving the White House, Rosalynn and I received a notice from the American Association of Retired Persons that we were qualified for membership, but we considered ourselves too young to face the stigma of senior citizenship. However, once back in Plains [Georgia, population 700 — SP] the point was to be driven home most firmly and clearly.

“We live 120 miles south of Atlanta and habitually drive back and forth toThe Carter Center and to Emory University, where I am a professor. One morning we left our house quite early and stopped to eat breakfast in Thomaston, Georgia, about halfway to Atlanta. There were four of us in the car, and we all ordered about the same thing. But when the waitress brought my bill, I noticed that it was less than the others. Perhaps seeking credit for being an honest customer, I called her back and began to tell her that she had made a mistake. An older farmer, dressed in overalls, was sitting at a nearby table and apparently overheard my conversation. He looked over at us and called out in a loud voice, ‘Your bill ain’t no mistake, Mr. President. Before eight o’clock they give free coffee to senior citizens.’

“A wave of laught began at our table, and it still resonated through the restaurant as I paid my bill and hurried back to the car. For several weeks afterward, every time we approached Thomaston I knew that someone would say, ‘Why don’t we stop here for breakfast? There’s free coffee for some of us!'” (pp. ix-x).

When Jimmy Carter was voted out of the Presidency, he and his wife found that their “Blind Trust Fund” had been badly managed and their home and farm in Plains were deeply in debt, too.  And then they faced another issue, as he tells it:

“There were other reasons as well why moving from Washington back to our home in Plains was not a pleasant experience. It was not easy to forget about the past, overcome our fear of the future, and concentrate on the present. In this small and tranquil place, it was naturual for us to assume–kike other retirees–that our productive lives were about over. Like many other involuntary retirees, we had to overcome our distress and make the best of the situation.

“When one of our friends pointed out that more than a third of American men in my age troup were retired, and that we could expect to live until we were eighty years old, I had one disturbing reaction: What was I going to do with the next twenty-five yeears?” ( pp. 2-3)

“. . . as we entered our seventies there was another potential threat to our happiness: the forced realization that both of us fit almost any definition of ‘old age.’ I guess it is unpleasant for any of us to face our inevitale gray or thinning hair and the tendency for our waistline to spread, especially when advancing years correspond to a reduced income. This brings a challenging but inevitable transition in our lives — from what we have been to a new type of existence as ‘senior citizens.'” (p. 8)

“So then, when are we old? The corrrect answer is that each of us is old when we think we are — when we accept an attitude of dormancy, dependence on others, a substantial limitation on our physical and mental activity, and restrictions on the number of other people with whom we interact. As I know from experience, this is not tied very closely to how many years we’ve lived.” ( p. 11)

“Driving on the interstate highway in Atlanta to go to The Carter Center, for several months we regularly passed a large billboard advertising country music. The sign said, ‘My wife ran off with my best friend, and I miss him.’ This doesn’t apply to us [i.e., he and Rosalynn]. We seem to be bound together with ever-increasing bonds as we’ve grown older and need each other more. When we are apart for just a day or so, I have the same hollow feeling of loneliness and unassuaged desire as when I was away at sea for a week or more during the first years of our marriage.” ( p. 39)

We’ll share more from this book in a future issue of THE PAREGIEN JOURNAL.

****

Well, here it is — another 4th of July. 

I’m sitting here looking at the “celebrity” birthdays for July 4th and, shazam, I do know more than a couple. Those include . . .  Eva Marie Saint (actress, 93), . . .  Gina Lollobrigida, atress, 90; as an early teen . . . or maybe a pre-teen, I fell in love with that beautiful lady on the flying trapeze in the movie starring she and Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, a for-real former circus trapeze star) . . . Neil Simon (90, playwright) . . . and that’s as “young” as I can recognize on the list. Of course, that doggone lists includes somebody named Malia Obama, age 19. Oh, wait a minute, I remember. Nah, never mind.

Then there was this historical oddity under “Today In History,” where on July 4, 1826 — exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted — two of our nation’s former presidents died, that being John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Finally, on July 4, Charles Kuralt died in New York at the age of 62. You remember Charles Kuralt, don’t you? He was the CBS reporter who, with only his TV camerman/soundman as a companion, traveled the backroads of the United States. He was born Sept. 10, 1934 and died on July 4, 1997.

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“On the Road” was one of the most popular TV programs–actually, filler spots in the CBS news–that CBS had at the time. He always seemed so doggoned friendly, with a lot of homegrown wisdom, and he could sniff out a seemingly insignificant story and make it a masterpiece. Here are a few of his quotes:

The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.

 Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.
The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.

 

I recall, in particular, one time he and his cameraman were rolling down a back road in Tennessee or Kentucky . . . and Charles notes a bunch of clothes hanging out back of an old farm house (very few of those new-fangled “clothes dryers” out in the country). So he stopped and visited with the lady and her family and wound up with a very informative and enjoyable six minutes of film. He never won a Pulitzer Prize, but he was one heck of a fine reporter. We still miss you, Mr. Kuralt.

*****

Wise Words for the Young and the Old

From a Member of the Royal Family

 

Be generous: Invest in acts of charity.

Charity yields high returns.

 Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.

Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.

 

When the clouds are full of water, it rains.

When the wind blows down a tree, it lies where it falls.

Don’t sit there watching the wind. Do your own work.

Don’t stare at the clouds. Get on with your life.

 

Just as you’ll never understand  the mystery of life

forming in pregnant woman,

So you’ll never understand the mystery at work

in all that God does.

 

Go to work in the morning

and stick to it until evening without watching the clock.

You never know from moment to moment

how your work will turn out in the end.

Beauty in a sunny day - Ecclesiastes 11  

 Oh, how sweet the light of day,

And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!

Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted.

Take delight in each light-filled hour,

Remembering that there will also be many dark days

And that most of what comes your way is smoke.

 

 

You who are young, make the most of your youth..

Relish your youthful vigor.

Follow the impulses of your heart.

If something looks good to you, pursue it.

But know also that not just anything goes;

You have to answer to God for every last bit of it.

 

Live footloose and fancy-free  —

You won’t be young forever.

Youth lasts about as long as smoke.

 

Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young,

Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,

Before your vision dims and the world blurs

And the winter years keep you close to the fire.

 

In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.

Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.

The shades are pulled down on the world.

You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt.

The hum of the household fades away.

You are wakened now by bird-song.

 

 Aging -- Man - very old with white hair and beard -- 05-A copyrighted by Antonio Silvas

 

Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.

Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.

Your hair turns apple-blossom white,

Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.

Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest,

While your friends make plans for your funeral.

 

Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.

Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.

The body is put back in the same ground it came from.

The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.

 

It’s all smoke, nothing but smoke.

The Quester says that everything’s smoke.

 

Besides being wise himself, the Quester also taught others

knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many

proverbs. The Quester did his best to find the right words

and write the plain truth.

 

The words of the wise prod us to live well.

They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.

They are given by God, the one Shepherd.

 

But regarding anything behind this, dear friend, go easy.

There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant

study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else.

The last and final word is this:

 Fear God.

Do what he tells you.

 

And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything

that we do out into the open and judge it according

to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil.

 Solomon -- a painting from the internet

                         Painting of Solomon

 

Ecclesiastes 11:1 to 12:14 ( The Message) by King

Solomon (aka “The Quester”).  He was a son of King David

of Israel and was appointed King himself at the age of 12.

He only lived 52 years, from 848 B.C. to 796 B.C.). His

major accomplishment was in completing the Jewish

Temple in Jerusalem. Well, that and finding out how to

keep his 300 wives and 700 concubines happy.

 

— See ya the next time. I’m trying to get back into the groove of posting every Thursday. Well, that’s my goal, anyway. — Stan

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Issue 355 – What Does July 4th Mean?

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paregienjournal.com     –     Issue 355     –     June 29, 2017

Well, home owners in Manatee County are doing quite well, thank you. In May of 2017, the median sales price for an existing single-family home stood at $299,000. Folks, that was a 53 percent increase from the end of 2012. Of course, don’t forget there was a big-time real estate “bust” here from 2008 until early 2012. 

****

There was a fine little story in our local paper this morning. Reporter James A. Jones, Jr., did a little feature on a former Manatee County school educator named Bill O’Brien. Bill spends a lot of his time bowling these days, just as he has for the last 76 years. Hey, if I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. Okay, technically like everyone else, I’m dying bit by bit. But I’m not lyin’. 

You see, Bill O’Brien is now 93 years old. He was first the principal of Prine Elementary, then of Pine View Elementary and then of Parrish Elementary School. A pretty darned good athlete himself in college, after World War II (he was wounded), 31 years ago he started presenting to Manatee County’s top cross country runners each year the “Bill O’Brien Trophy” and he is still doing it. Plus, he set up three endowed scholarship funds to help a few students each year. Bill is a pretty solid citizen, and I’d like to meet him one of these days.

****

Across the Manatee River in Palmetto, several remaining members of the Lincoln Memorial High School – Class of 1967 – met for their 50th reunion. What is really unusual about these people is they were about the last class to graduate from LMHS — an all-black school. There were 131 seniors in their class, but 42 have died. 

****

It has been quite a spell, but at 9:30 a.m. on  Thursday, June 22nd, I met friends Romolo (aka “Rom,” “Ron,” and “Youse guy”) Colella and Don (“The Poetry Machine”) Betts for a late breakfast at Leon’s House of Omelets in the shopping center just west of I-75 and on the south side of Highway 70 (53rd Avenue). We had some coffee and came up with solutions for most of the problems in the United States. Then after breakfast, we developed plans for solving Europe’s difficulties. Next time we’ll work on the energy crisis, I guess. Just routine stuff for old geezers. So if any of you want to join us, give me a call to make sure we’ll be there next time and not at our respective doctor appointments. Ah, yes, the “Golden Years of Life.” Between the three of us, we might have an ounce of gold and everybody is after it. Even if they have to pull it from our teeth.

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Many may not be aware of the fact that the home headquarters and training center for Goodwill Industries is only a mile or so east of our hacienda. Those folks certainly do a lot of good for many disabled people, with training and jobs and such. Still, because the CEO at Goodwill makes a lot more money than the CEOs of any other similar charities, we prefer to make donations to the Salvation Army. And there are a couple of other Goodwill policies which bug me. They are skilled marketers, of course, taking donated items and marking them up as far as the market will allow. And around here they have donation centers about as common as McDonald’s.

In Manatee County and next-door Sarasota County they have established four stand-alone stores specializing in music and books, and these are very well-organized. But, simultaneously, they have junked the book departments in their regular stores. Once they, too, had books well-organized by topics. No more. In our regular stores, they are heaped together and making it a headache to wade through the mess. Oh, and one other thing I’ve noticed (which other thrift stores have started doing) is that on men’s shirts, for example, they still place price tags and sizes on the individual shirts . . . but then they throw them on the shirt racks with no size organization at all. I don’t get it, don’t like it and won’t shop at the regular stores for clothes or books. Very poor customer service, but easier for them, I guess. 

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Our daughter, Mrs. John (Stacy) Magness, flew in from Houston on June 13th and left on June 20th. So we got to spend a lot of quality time with her. Of course, we had to work around those pesky afternoon thunderstorms and downpours virtually every day she was here. Still got to take her to both Manatee Beach (our preferred swimmin’ hole, with life guards and a cafe with mmmm, mmmm good pancakes each morning) and to Siesta Beach. Oh, and on her first afternoon, we took her to Clearwater Beach up in nearby Clearwater, Florida. So she got to see Florida’s most award-winning beaches. 

2017--06--13 03 - Clearwater, FL - Peggy and Stacy at CLEARWATER BEACH - by Stan Paregien2017--06--14 03 - Bradenton, FL - MANATEE BEACH -Stacy P Magness by Stan Paregien2017--06--14 08B - Bradenton, FL - MANATEE BEACH - by Stan Paregien2017--06--14 10A - Bradenton, FL - Peggy Paregien - by Stan Paregien

2017--06--14 10B - Bradenton, FL - Stan Paregien - by Stacy Magness

2017--06--14 11 - Bradenton, FL - Stacy P Magness - by Stan Paregien

2017--06--15 12 - Sarasota, FL - luncheon cruises - by Stan Paregien

We took a very nice luncheon cruise around Sarasota Bay one day. We got to see a couple of dolphin, plus many of the multi-million dollar mansions fronting the bay. 

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2017--06--17 04 - Sarasota, FL - - Ringling - panorama by S Magness

2017--06--17 07 - Sarasota, FL - - Ringling - Stacy Magness - by Peg Paregien

Peggy took Stacy down to the fabulous Ringling Mansion, Circus Museum and Art Museum in nearby Sarasota on June 17th. They spent the entire day there and had a great time. 

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Surely this is not a sign of my memory failing or my advancing years, but . . . in the “Birthdays On This Date” section of our local rag for June 23rd I saw where Clarence Thomas– you know — a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Yep, I recognized him . . . but the long list of “younger” musicians, writers, singers, and actors meant nothing to me. Hmmm.

Rogers, Will and Wiley Post -- one of last photos before deaths on Aug 15, 1935

Will Rogers (top, left) & pilot Wiley Post

And in the longer “Today in History” column I only paid much attention to this note: “In 1931, aviators Wiley Post and Harold Gatty took off from New York on a round-the-world flight that lasted eight days and 15 hours.” Now Wiley Post, who had a wild hair or two as a teenager in Oklahoma, lost an eye when injured on an oil drilling rig in Oklahoma. So he used the insurance settlement to pay for flying lessons and with the rest he bought his very first airplane.

I read a fine biography of Post a few years back,and the author pointed out all of his successes in flying and in inventing high-altitude equipment for pilots. Because of his many ’round-the-world flights and publicity, it is true that when he and his close friend–movie and stage star Will Rogers–died in Alaska in a plane crash (flown by Post) on August 15, 1935, it was Wiley Post who was far better known outside of the United States. I have been to Rogers’ beautiful grave site and museum in Claremore, Oklahoma as well as to Post’s well-marked burial place in far north central Oklahoma City. Each man was exceptional in his own field of expertise.

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“Paregien’s Bed & Breakfast & More” will be back in operation soon. We are expecting two of our Rwandan friends to visit us in early to mid-August. Then our son and his wife (Stan Jr. & Becky) and their son and his wife (Daniel and Leah) will be with us, from the St. Louis area, from about August 24th to Sept. 4th. We’re polishing up the horseshoe equipment and the shuffleboard stuff to keep them from getting bored here in Paradise.

****

Peggy and I watched another old movie the other night (the only kind our grandkids swear we watch, but there are a few things they don’t know). Anyway this U.S. Cavalry vs. Indians movie was titled “The Oregon Passage.” It was actually filmed in a forest over not far from Bend, Oregon. It was in color and starred a good-lookin’ dude named John Erickson, whom I had never seen before so I guess he went back to being a lifeguard or selling used cars. I noticed as they rolled the credits that the film script was actually based on a Western novel by someone we knew: Gordon D. Shirreffs.

I first met Gordon D. Shirreffs in about 1984, as I recall, at the annual convention of the members of the Western Writers of America. It was held that summer in Branson, Missouri and hosted by Jory Sherman and his wife, Charlotte. The first person I met as I entered the hotel lobby was one of my writing heroes, from the really old crowd, Thomas (“Tommy”) Thompson. He and I really hit it off, especially after we found out we had each known Harry Leichler (?), the grocer and honorary mayor of the little town of Piru, Calif., where I lived with my family my last three years of high school.

Anyway, over the next few years, we would get to visit with Gordon Shirreffs and his wife Alice, who were residents of Granada Hills, Calif. at the time. At least one day of each convention was taken up with a bus trip excursion somewhere not far away. Those were always great times to visit with big-league writing pros Like Tommy, Gordon and Jory, as well as other would-be-Louis-L’Amour like myself.  

Well, the host of Turner Classic Movies that night wrapped up the showing of the rather forgettable film with a funny story about Gordon Shirreffs. In 1957 he had written a Western novel titled “Rio Bravo.” John Wayne didn’t care much for the actual book, but he loved the title and wanted it for his next movie. So he and/or his Batjack production company paid Gordon some darned good money for the book, with the agreement that Gordon could sell the actual story to anybody else but not the title. So John Wayne got the title he wanted and Gordon got the money he wanted, . . . not once but twice, as the second buyer turned it into “The Oregon Passage.” And he would laugh as he told that true story and add, “That was by far the most money I ever earned for just selling two words (“Rio Bravo”). 

Gordon Shirreffs had been born in Chicago, Ill., on Jan. 15, 1914. His mother was a recent immigrant from Scotland, and he himself sometimes played in bagpipe bands in southern California. During his lifetime he wrote some 79 novels, much in the solid historical style of Louis L’Amour, and hundreds of short stores and a bunch of stories for comic book companies. He was still living in Granada Hills when he died on Feb. 9, 1996 at the age of 82.

2016--03--17 Food -- Florida -- The Recipe Box Eatery

Above is the business card for a really nice, fairly small “mom and pop” restaurant just north of the McDonald’s near 53rd Avenue East (Highway 70) and 33rd St. East. Give ’em a try.

We ran out of TV trays for everyone at our house the other night, but luckily we had a spare out in the shed. I think this guy is saying, “Very nice!” or something like that.

Senior Citizen TV Tray

 

A Crumbled Dream

by Gene Shelburne

Amarillo, Texas

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Does the name Alexander Campbell mean anything to you? If you grew up in any kind of Church of Christ or Christian Church, you need to know about him. He was the founder of our American denomination.

Let me confess that, although I did grow up in such a church, I knew little about the man until I was invited to join a host of church leaders at his home in Bethany, West Virginia—way back in 1966— to mark the one hundredth anniversary of Mr. Campbell’s death.

 During that memorable week I learned that Alexander Campbell did more than found churches. In the college he built, he educated the sons of U.S. presidents. Few people noticed when Campbell boosted American wool trade by importing new breeds of sheep. Nor were many folks impressed when he was elected to West Virginia’s legislature. But his star was slowly rising.

Even founding hundreds of congregations across our young, growing country didn’t catapult Campbell to fame. He became a household name after debating—while befriending—the famous atheist Robert Owen. At his prime, this school-founding, sheep-raising, church-planting country parson was invited to address the combined houses of the U.S. Congress. In many ways he had become the Billy Graham of his day.

During that 1966 gathering in Bethany, however, we also focused on the Civil War years right before Campbell’s death. The halls of Bethany College were quiet—almost deserted—while that brutal war was raging not far away. Most of the students were on the battle lines. Campbell’s heart was broken. His own family was split, with favorite nephews wearing uniforms both blue and gray. Still worse, from his view, Christian brothers from churches he had planted and nurtured now were slaughtering each other.

Civil War -- up-close fighting between Union and Rebel troops -- 02

The young nation that Campbell had mistaken for the eve of Christ’s thousand-year reign had morphed into a hell on earth. Campbell’s dream had become a nightmare.

As Will Durant would later write: “From barbarism to civilization requires a century; from civilization to barbarism needs but a day.” Campbell saw barbarism in his final days, and it made him mourn.

With July 4th just ahead, I rehearse this sad but true story to remind us that the peace and freedom and prosperity we cherish can dissolve over night into blood and hate and tears. It did once. It can again.

Logo for Gene Shelburne - 2017

July4th--05 Flag with 4th of July

Do your children and/or grandchildren understand this day?

Best wishes until next time,

Stan

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Issue 349 – Don Betts, A Good Man

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Issue 349  –  February 21, 2017

Don Betts: A Good Man

We were fortunate in meeting Don and Judy Betts the first couple of weeks after we moved to Florida in June of 2013. At the recommendation of Mrs. Richard (Rita) Edwards, whom we met a couple of years before that in our home church in Edmond, Okla., we visited the Central Church of Christ on the east side of Sarasota. And we were met and cheerfully, warmly welcomed by Don and Judy. And they weren’t the only ones. Soon we decided that would be our church home.

Since that time, Don and Judy Betts have been helpful any time we needed information or encouragement. The four of us have been with each other through a variety of health problems and personal ups and downs. We have studied the Bible together, prayed together, worshiped together, eaten many a meal together, gone on day trips together and shared in several music and poetry jams. In addition, at their kind invitation we spent a whole week with them in a condo on a golf course in stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona. You get to know people pretty doggoned well when you spend that much time with them. So now we can share the not-so-secret news: Don and Judy Betts are solid citizens, first-class people and dedicated Christians.

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Last Saturday night, Feb. 18, 2017, we went to a birthday part in Bradenton to help Don celebrate his 85th year on mother earth. Judy worked herself to a nub organizing and executing this wonderful event. I’m guessing that some 50 invited guests showed up for a meal, a piece of his birthday cake, and a program where each person had a chance to say something personal to Don. It was a night of gracious words of encouragement and remembrance. Don read a poem, as did his son Tom Betts, and so did I. Here is mine:

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Dr. Pat Hardeman, Ph.D., is a long-time friend of Don and Judy. He earned a doctorate in philosophy and religion from the University of Illinois. In the 1950s he was much in demand as an evangelist and a debater. He then became a professor of religion and philosophy at Florida Christian College (now Florida College) in the Temple Terrace area of Tampa. At the same time, he was a part-time professor at the University of Tampa. He was also a noted and outspoken leader in the Civil Rights movement throughout the state of Florida. He also preached for a time at what today is the Central Church of Christ in Sarasota. Later, he had a highly successful career as a realtor. He was even selected as the President of the Florida Realtor’s Association.

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And now . . . the “Good Ol’ Days of Yore” . . . 

 

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Before there was a bridge across Sarasota Bay to Longboat Key (island), George Betts would row his small boat across the bay to the John Ringling Estate in Sarasota to work as their chief horticulturist. He became familiar with not only all of the Ringling Brothers and their families but with the workers and performers who were employed by the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus.

It was there on the far south side of Longboat Key that George and Mary Betts lived as their family grew. Don Betts came along on Feb. 9, 1932. Most of his childhood was spent roaming through the woods and jungles and swamps on Longboat Key. He still enjoys telling about swimming on the Gulf side and seeing a myriad variety of fish in every wave. What kid would not have liked playing “Tarzan” on his own virtual paradise. He and his sibling could play in the dirt road which ran the length of the island without a car passing through for hours at a time. NOTE: Don’t try that today, especially “during the season.” 

During the course of his life, Don worked for several years as a lineman for Florida Light & Power after he came back from his tour of duty with the U.S. Navy. Then he worked as a Game Ranger out at Myakka State Park. He transitioned from that to serving as a policeman way out in Tucson, Arizona. Later, he worked in a bank in Sarasota and then became an independent insurance agent.

Don and Judy have lived in a lovely home on the golf course at Tara Preserve, in Bradenton, Florida for several years now. 

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Well, that’s just a tiny bit of the story of our friend Don Betts.

The late Louis L’Amour, the best-selling Western novelist of his day, often had a character in his book say about another cowboy: “He would do to ride the river with.” In other words, that man could be trusted to ride for the brand and to do what was right. In this case I’ll just say: You are an awful good man, Don Betts. And we are proud to share part of your life.

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Issue 348 – This Land Is Your Land

 

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Issue 348     –    February 6, 2017

This Land Is Your Land

I did not watch the Super Bowl football game on Feb. 5, 2017. Half-time entertainer Lady Gaga seems to have gotten favorable reviews from lots of folks. I did catch a news clip of her singing a portion of Woody Guthrie’s popular song, “This Land Is Your Land.” It is a populist, kind of get-together-and-sing-Kumbaya song. 

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However, as the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, . . . here is the rest of the story.

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I made the following statements about the history of the song, “This Land Is Your Land.” in my 2012 eBook, WOODY GUTHRIE: HIS LIFE, MUSIC AND MYTH (Chapter 5):  

“On Feb. 23, 1940, Woody wrote ‘This Land Is Your Land’ while living with friend and fellow folksinger Burl Ives at the Hanover House in New York City. He wrote it to counteract what he considered the mindless sentimentality of ‘God Bless America,’ penned by the great Irving Berlin. That song just really irritated him something awful.

“Slowly but surely he worked out the words of his own song and, as usual, simply matched the lyrics up with an existing song. In this case it was the melody of a gospel song, ‘Oh, My Loving Brother,’ a melody that was also borrowed by the Carter Family for their song, ‘Little Darling, Pal of Mine’. Woody titled his song, ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and pretty much forgot about it until April of 1944.

“When the song finally surfaced and was recorded, it only included the first four verses (see below). And it quickly gained traction. Today the first few verses are sung by people all over the world, sometimes with a few adaptations to fit the Canadian or Japanese or Irish or whatever culture. It has been recorded by virtually everyone under the sun, from Bing Crosby to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In the 1960s President Lyndon Baines Johnson was one of the first to wonder if maybe it should replace our national anthem. And various big-name corporations, including United Airlines and the Ford Motor Company, have used bits of it for their sales pitches on TV and radio.

“Here is how those first four verses read:

1   This land is your land, This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

 2  As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

 3  I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

 4  When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

“The problem with most of the admiration for this song is that the four-verses-only version hides or at least ignores the whole point of the complete song. With all of its verses intact, ‘This Land is Your Land’ stands as a Marxist chant for communal property. Here is how those last three verses read:

5   As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

6   In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

7  Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

“Now, go back and read the first line of the first verse. Doesn’t it take on a much darker meaning? It should because this song is, in fact, radical leftist Guthrie’s most clear challenge to life as most American’s know it.

“He understood that private property rights were, more often than not in the United States, used by land-owning corporations to put down the workers. They and their henchmen, the courts and law enforcement, constantly trampled on workers’ constitutional-granted rights of freedom of speech and freedom to assemble.

“So he was calling on people to join the fight against the concept of private ownership of property which, historically, has been the lynchpin of American politics and economics. Woody reasoned that he was taking the high moral ground in advocating that all Americans should share equally in America’s wealth and property.

“Keep in mind, too, that one of the reasons Guthrie wrote this song was to protest the idealism of the big hit song of 1939-1940, ‘God Bless America.’ And it is in verse 6 that he makes the point that the America he saw, from sea to shining sea, was filled with poor and unemployed people standing in welfare lines. And he felt that capitalism and its innate greed were responsible for the awful situation in which there was a great gulf between the bankers and the guys digging ditches or even those who just wish they had a job of any kind. So nothing would change—the poor will continue to be with us en mass—until we change capitalism to communism. And, though not stated in the song, it was his belief that the labor movement—and unions, in particular—could accomplish that goal.

 “Was Woody a Communist Party Member?

 “Was Woody Guthrie a member of the official Communist Party or was he just a sympathizer on the outside looking in or was he just a guy who sympathized and identified with poor, hard-hit people and sought help from any source?

“Guy Logsdon expressed his point of view when I interviewed him in 2006: ‘Woody loved the United States of America. He loved Oklahoma. And he loved Okemah. He never wrote anything bad against them. He wrote against greed and anything having to do with the suppression of innocent people. If that makes him a Communist, then Jesus was a Communist. Woody was the poet philosopher of the people, the voice of the ordinary person.

“’However, Woody was not radical enough to be a communist. The Almanac Singers, some of whom later became stars as a group called The Weavers, wrote and performed pro-labor and anti-war songs. You know Franklin Roosevelt had a program to rebuild the economy and get production and prices stabilized. It involved killing every fourth cow and plowing under every fourth acre. So the Almanac Singers recorded a song called, ‘Plow Under Every Fourth Soldier’ in protest to the war. That offended a lot of people.

“’And the public sentiment changed radically when Germany waged war against Russia. So the Almanac Singers dropped that song from their programs very quickly. And they started writing and performing anti-Hitler songs.

“’When Woody went to New York City, he was in awe of what they were doing. And he sometimes attended meetings of the Communist Party but, as Pete Seeger has often said, ‘Woody was not a Communist. The Communist Party was a tightly structured organization. And Woody Guthrie wouldn’t join anything like that, because his nature was too independent and unstructured.’”

“Perhaps so. But as we have quoted previously, Woody made that admission or assertion of membership himself. And he did it in what my dear ol’ English teacher at Fillmore (California) High School—Mrs. Percy—would call a simple declarative sentence: “The best thing I did in 1936 [he got the actual date wrong; it was 1939] was to sign up with the Communist Party . . . ” (see Chapter 4.)

“When all views are heard, it seems clear that Woody Guthrie was at the least a solid sympathizer and supporter of the Communist Party. He was a man of his times, and those times were very hard for the working class. So whether he was a card-carrying member of the Party seems immaterial today. And it seems to me that, in the final analysis, Guthrie really had more faith in the unions than he did in Communism. In 1944 he said, ‘I live union. I eat union. I think union. I see union. I walk it and I talk it. I sing it and I preach it’ (Quoted by Ed Cray, Ramblin’ Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie [2011], page 283).

 “Well, as I said, he filed the song away and pretty much forgot about it for several years. But it would finally end up as his signature song and in its four-verse form one of the most sung songs in the world.”

One more thing. The big news right now is about our immigration and deportation policies (or lack thereof). It is old news, really.

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Woody Guthrie had a big place in his heart for the frequently abused immigrant workers and their families. He spent a great deal of time traveling around to make-shift worker’s camps to listen to their problems and to encourage them with his songs. 

In 1948, an event happened that triggered a great deal of anger in Woody.  The U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Department had chartered a DC-3 airplane to deport back to Mexico both illegal immigrants and those Mexicans whose work permits had expired. They left Oakland, Calif., on Jan. 28th with 28 such deportees on board, plus the pilot, a co-pilot, a guard and a stewardess. The plane crashed in a ball of fire near Los Gatos, California.The news reports mentioned the staff members by name and said 28 deportees were also killed. No mention of their names, leaving the impression they were of no importance.

Guthrie took that as a personal insult and an outrage. He went into a writing frenzy, pouring his heart and soul in a song he titled, “Deportees” (also known as “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos”):

Plane Wreck at Los Gatos

(also known as “Deportees”)
by Woody Guthrie

The crops are all in and the peaches are rott’ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They’re flying ’em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be “deportees”

My father’s own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract’s out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died ‘neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, “They are just deportees”

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except “deportees”?

Sad to say that the practice of devaluing other people is still alive and well. We often find fault with those who are different from ourselves — morally, culturally, racially, religiously and politically. The list goes on.

Now, friends, if you look at this thing strictly logically and scientifically (not morally or religiously) the woes and injustices to the poor, the weak and sickly and the disenfranchised should be of no concern to those of us who are winners in the lottery of life. After all, scientist Charles Darwin preached the survival of the fittest as being in the best interest of the world. So why should one glob of atoms (a human) give a flip about another glob (another human)? You know the routine: (1) Look out for Number 1; (2) What’s mine is mine and I’m after yours; (3) The real “Golden Rule” is that whoever has the gold rules; (4) Greed is good; and (5) Don’t get involved.

Well, . . . if you buy that premise, then it is kinda irrational to do otherwise, don’t you think? Maybe that’s why you’re never seen anywhere a hospital founded and funded by the American Association of Atheists. That’s why there are no major philanthropic foundations operated by the American Humanist Association. That’s what the Society for Humanistic Judaism sits around gazing at their navels. 

Thankfully, however, there are people of goodwill and generous acts of kindness in every group and country. Concern for others, whether a friend or a neighbor or an enemy, is still alive and well.

For example, loving concern is a fundamental theme in the sacred Jewish texts. Here is a sampling from Exodus 23:1-9: “(1) Don’t spread rumors. Don’t plot with evil people to act as a lying witness. (2) Don’t take sides with important people to do wrong. When you act as a witness, don’t stretch the truth to favor important people. (3) But don’t privilege unimportant people in their lawsuits either. (4) When you happen to come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has wandered off, you should bring it back to them. (5) When you see a donkey that belongs to someone who hates you and it’s lying down under its load and you are included not to help set it free, you must help set it free. (6) Don’t undermine the justice that your poor deserve in their lawsuits. (7) Stay away from making a false charge. Don’t put an innocent person who is in the right to death, because I will not consider innocent those who do such evil. (8) Don’t take a bribe, because a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. (9) Don’t oppress an immigrant. You know what it’s like to be an immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.” — from the COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE (used with permission)

Christians, too, recognize their duty and honor to serve others who have hit hard times. John the Baptist, who was in prison at the time, sent word to this new teacher named Jesus and asked him for some proof that the was the longed-for Messiah. Jesus did not cite as evidence that he had formed a large anti-Roman army, nor that he had a large political campaign war chest, nor that the Who’s Who of Israel were his backers. Amazingly, Jesus told the messengers, “Go, report to John what you hear and see. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who are crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5, CEB)

A lawyer with the Pharisee sect of Judaism tried to trap Jesus one time by asking him what the greatest commandment was in the Law of Moses. Jesus said, ” (37) You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37-39, CEB)

It is clear in both Judaism and in Christianity that love for others–not just a good feeling but positive, practical help–is fundamental to religious faith.

The apostle James chided his peers by saying, “(2) Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. (3) Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, ‘Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.’ But to the poor person you say, ‘Stand over there’; or, ‘Here, sit at my feet.’ (4) Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?

“(5) My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? (6) But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? (7) Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism?

“(8) You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2:2-8, CEB)

That, my friends, is why you see hundreds of hospitals and universities and homes for the needy founded by and funded by the faith community. Highly respected Jewish hospitals and Christian hospitals are found across America, as are homes for the homeless and abused. Back in my old stomping ground, Oklahoma City, we had the Baptist Hospital, Deaconess Hospital (Methodist), and Mercy Hospital (Catholic), each of them a fine facility caring for anyone who walked through the door. Other religious organizations work every day to help migrants with legal work or with learning English, or helping pregnant women save their babies from abortions, or rescuing young men and women from sex traffickers and drug dealers. And the list of good works goes on and on.

“This Land is Your Land” is a nice song title and sorta give us a warm, fuzzy feeling. In fact, I have personally adapted it to create songs for the people of Rwanda (“Rwandans, This Land Is Our Land”), for the people of Honduras (“Hondurans, This Land Is Your Land”), and for the people of Ireland (“Ireland Is Your Land).  View videos of those songs and 50 others on my “Stan Paregien’s Studio” on YouTube at:https://www.youtube.com/user/CowboyStan/videos

My point is this: it takes that “good feeling” and $5.00 to get you a cup of java at Starbucks. Fact is, it is up to you and to me to look for opportunities to honor God by doing good wherever we go and by teaching others to do the same.  

So if you are looking for hope and purpose in your life, please take a serious look around you. Observe how your neighbors are living. Is it the Believers who are more happy and fulfilled . . . and busy helping others . . . or is it the Non-Believers? There are exceptions, of course, for no one is perfect in practicing their philosophy of life. But my 75+ years of experience has shown me that people of faith actually believe that history is headed somewhere and they are not just sitting hopelessly on a spinning earth.

Just sayin’.

[NOTE: My eBook, WOODY GUTHRIE: HIS LIFE, MUSIC AND MYTH, is available in seven popular formats at:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StanParegien . You’ll find over a dozen more of my eBooks there as well. And before long there will be another one on the list, right now tentatively titled MANATEE COUNTY, FLORIDA: FACTS, FOLKS AND PHOTOS. Stay tuned.]

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Some Punny Poems & More

The Paregien Journal  –  Issue 339  –  July 25, 2016  –  Stan Paregien, Editor

2015--10--13   2167--N   Sedona, AZ  -   Stan Paregien and Don Betts -  copyrighted by Peg Paregien

Don Betts and I and our much better halves– Judy and Peggy — spent a delightful week together in Sedona, Arizona last year. But the point of this current issue of THE PAREGIEN JOURNAL is to put down persistent rumors and to established beyond a reasonable doubt . . . that Don and I can do something other than sit around and look pretty.

Or not.

Well, we’re going to try, anyway.

Secondarily, we have had thousands of people begging on bended knees for poetry based on puns. 

Or not.

Mostly not. However, I kinda like ’em. Most of my are short and on the funny side. Anyway, kind of like indigestion, I sure feel better getting them out of my system. So I am including several here.

However, we begin with a poem by my dear friend Don Betts. The man is a remarkable writer and poet, especially considering the fact he never tried his hand at it until he was 82. So we lead off with his extremely appropriate poem titled “Conventional Confusion.” It is just in time for the beginning of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and that is what it is all about. And, as with many of Don’s poems, the last few lines jump up and bite you on the butt. You’ll enjoy it.

Or not.

But mostly you’ll enjoy it, I think.

Friends, the pilot has turned the warning light signifying that we are about to take off. It may be a bumpy ride, so please buckle up.

Betts, Don  -  Conventional Confusion  -- July 19, 2016

And then things kinda go down hill from there.

Poem 447   About Those Old Accountants  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  June 14, 2016

Poem 448   Old Anesthesiologists  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  June 14, 2016

Poem 449   Procrastinators and Death  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  June 14, 2016

Betts, Don   --   Home, Sweet Home  -- April 29, 2015

Poem 450   Old Quilters Never Die  --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016

Poem 451   Aging Football Quarterbacks  --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016

Poem 452   Four Sets of Twins  --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016

Poem 460  The Warning Sign -- A Punny Poem - by Stan Paregien 2016--06--28  - pun

Poem 461  Canned at the Cannery  --  A Punny Poem - by Stan Paregien - 2016-06-28  - pun

Betts, Don - Unproblematic Solution - July 16, 2016 - Matt 1 v1-17

Poem 462  Excuse My Confusionality --  by Stan Paregien - 2016-07-2016

Poem 463  The Deer Slayer - A Punny Poem  --  by Stan Paregien - 2016-07-24 - pun

Poem 464  Sausage Links - A Punny Poem - by Stan Paregien - 2016-07-24 - pun

Poem 465  How to Attract Women  - A Punny Poem - by Stan Paregien - 2016-07-24 - pun

Poem 453    A Cure for Chili's Main Problem   --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016Poem 456   What Happened to Customer Service  -   by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted 2016-06-16Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 1 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 2 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 3 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 4 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 5 of  6

Poem 457   The Legend of Mystery  Mountain -- by Stan Paregien Sr - 2016-06-16  -  Page 6 of  6

Some of you know that Peggy and I recently spent ten delightful days in bonnie ol’ Scotland. The photo below shows us standing in front of our hotel in Ayr, Scotland.

Or not.

2016--07--07   03G  Calzean Castle -  S and P Paregien -  by E Sklair

Right, it ain’t our hotel. But we did visit there. And in the near future I hope to have many of our Scotland photos posted online. More about that another time.

Thanks for stopping by the ol’ bunkhouse to visit a spell. Y’all come back soon, ya hear?

— Stan Paregien Sr. (aka, “Cowboy Stan”)

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The Spiritual Life, Part 2

The Paregien Journal  –  Issue 338  –  June 21, 2016  –  Stan Paregien, Editor

The Spiritual Life, Part 2

Our dear friends Clay and Pat Landes came into our lives when we moved from Edmond, Oklahoma to Bradenton, Florida in 2013. We were immediately attracted to them by their openness and hospitality, each with a smile displaying they were in a close walk with God. He has been serving Christ in many ways, and for several years has been one of the elders leading the diverse body of believers we call Central Church of Christ in Sarasota. 

1994  --  2015--09--05  Sarasota, FL - Clay and Pat Landes' 50th Anniversary --  by Stan Paregien

Clay & Pat on their 50th wedding anniversary

renewing their vows. Sept., 2015

 

Though he grew up in a Christian home and once professed his love for the Lord, in his early adult years he had strayed far away. When Clay finally saw the light and returned, he had a burning desire to reach out and help others who had never accepted Christ or who had let their love grow cold. And he is still at it.

That is so despite the fact that about eight months ago he was diagnosed with cancer. In early June, his regular physician said his condition had worsened significantly. So he is now in a hospice program with an array of medical and social and psychological professionals to assist them as needed. Little did that group know that they were dealing with an upbeat, optimistic man . . . who was still on a mission. He told us on Sunday, June 19, 2016, that he had just arranged to have Bible studies with two of those folks “because they need the Lord.”

That same Sunday, Clay found the strength to teach a fine Bible class on 2 Timothy 4:6-18. There was a large audience of adults, many of whom were visitors — friends of his from years back. He began by singing a song that he wrote about a year ago: “Jesus, May Your Will Be Done.” There was hardly a dry eye in the audience.

Then he went on to read the first section of Paul’s letter which begins with, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

It was a powerful lesson from a man who, indeed, has fought a great fight for the Lord he loves and who trusts deeply in God’s grace. He knows he is going to heaven, fairly soon, and doesn’t want anyone else to miss out on going there, too. 

So here is his song, both as a poem and then as a song with the chords.

 

2016--06--19   03-A    Sarasota,  FL  -- Clay Landes -  by Stan Paregien

Jesus, May Your Will Be Done -- 2, a poem -  by Clay Landes - Copyrighted 2015

Jesus, May Your Will Be Done --  by Clay Landes - Copyrighted 2015

For those who may need a little guidance in how to share their faith more easily with others, I recommend the following book. The author was a student at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee during part of the time that I was also there. He has had a wonderfully productive Christian life. But he, also, had a diagnosis of cancer and went through many treatments before it went into remission. So he knows what it means to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of death . . . and had been able to help others who needed to walk more closely with the Lord.

1997 book by Randy Becton, EVERYDAY EVANGELISM, page 1

1997 book by Randy Becton, EVERYDAY EVANGELISM, page 2

 

Poem 454   The Purpose of the Lord's Supper - by Stan Paregien Sr  1 Cor 11 v17-34 -- Page 1 of  2

Poem 454   The Purpose of the Lord's Supper - by Stan Paregien Sr  1 Cor 11 v17-34 -- Page 2 of  2

Keep on the Sunny Side   --  Ada Benkhorn in 1928  -- gospel, bluegrassLife's Railroad to Heaven  --  Gospel, bluegrass

2015--02   The Christian Appeal -- Page 1

The above little magazine is one I’ve read and enjoyed for many years. The editors are two “Texified” brothers, Gene Shelburne of Amarillo and Curtis Shelburne of beautiful downtown Muleshoe. They are gifted writers, teachers, authors, and preachers. They are simply solid-citizens and dedicated Christian men. 

Their magazine is not jammed with the latest hot topic or with shrill voices. It is a relaxed and thoughtful, Christ-centered journal with real-life applications. So I hope you will consider becoming a subscriber. The additional good news is that it is free. Yes, Virginia, there really is such a thing as a free magazine. It is free as in no cost to you. Hundreds of folks who appreciate the journal do send money to help out. But, again, there is no subscription fee and you won’t be barraged for a donation. So give it a try. And tell them good ol’ boys that Stan sent ya. The address is below.

2015--02   The Christian Appeal -- Page 2

One of my current challenges is reducing my number of file cabinets from three to no more than two. Sounds easy enough. But my collection of articles, songs, photos, genealogical material, and etc. and etc. is a bit overwhelming. Fifty years of collecting will do that to you. But once or twice a month the notion of junking some of it strikes and I dutifully start through the files.

Well, it was while I was doing that a week or so ago that I came across the following message by a former Bible professor of mine. Dr. Batsell Barrett Baxter was a congenial, soft-spoken man with the heart of a servant and the mind of Christ. While I was at Lipscomb University, he was head of the Bible Department. And he was the beloved preacher for the Hillsboro Church. And . . . he was the featured speaker for many years on the radio and TV broadcasts called “The Herald of Truth” originating from a congregation in Abilene, Texas. So he was a busy, busy man.

On the last page of this four-page message, I have added a few photos of this wonderful Christian gentleman who died of cancer several years ago.

Baxter, Batsell Barrett  -  'The Days of Our Lives'  -  Page 1 of  4

Baxter, Batsell Barrett  -  'The Days of Our Lives'  -  Page 2 of  4

Baxter, Batsell Barrett  -  'The Days of Our Lives'  -  Page 3 of  4

Baxter, Batsell Barrett  -  'The Days of Our Lives'  -  Page 4 of  4Bible  -- not a bag of trail mix to pick and chose only what you like

 

Land of a Thousand Hills Cafe - Bradenton, FL 06-02-2016  - Benefits farmers in Rwanda - Part 1 of  2

Land of a Thousand Hills Cafe - Bradenton, FL 06-02-2016  - Benefits farmers in Rwanda - Part 2 of  2

 

Family -- Grandma - church - always welcome at church and Grandma's house --FAMILY CIRCUS

 

 

John 03 v16 --  02

Guess I’d better close for now. I do thank you for stopping by on a regular basis to see what is new. The easy way to do that, of course, is just to sign up to receive a simple email notification that I have posted more material. Please consider doing that.

For several years, Peggy and I had a little sign on our dining room wall that said, “Life is short. Eat desert first.” I saw a lot of wisdom in that and sometimes followed it.

The fact is, though, that none of us has a guarantee of even one more hour of life. Folks die all around us on a regular basis. And in that sense we are all “terminally ill.” So, my friend, let’s you and I do what we can with what we have where we are . . . to help others and to make this a better world, condemned though it is. And that also means periodically conducting a self-examination to make sure we have done all we can to have our lives and our house in order when we die. Just sayin’. 

 

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Life in Florida, Part 5

The Paregien Journal  –  Issue 337  –  June 21, 2016  –  Stan Paregien, Editor

Life in Florida, Part 5

2016--05--08   A--1C    Bradenton, FL -- Peggy Paregien on Mothers Day -- by Stan Paregien

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Hillbillies and Flatlanders

My cousin Jerry Paregien and his wife Muriel live in the nose-bleed heights of the far northeast mountains of Tennessee. I am told that he generates his house electricity from the same system that operates his still a hundred yards down in the woods from his house. But that is another story.

Since we have lived here in the Flatlands of Florida, they have been to see us about three times. And we have a boat-load of fun doing whatever we want. I had a sister and no brother, but ol’ “Jay-ree” is about as close as I’ve come. He is a scholar (written a couple of eBooks about particular firearms), a Southern gentleman (he is actually an immigrant, from that other country, . . . California) and our Christian brother and friend. 

Part of the fun we have and the bond we share is that Peggy and Muriel get along so doggoned well. Of course, each of them was a “P.K.”  For the uninitiated, that is a code for “Preacher’s Kid.” And they were. Muriel’s father was a well-known preacher in the mid-West and central California. He had qualms about tying the marriage knot for her, considering her mate selection; but it appears to have worked out. Her brother, Victor Knowles, is a long-time preacher who has lived in the Joplin, Missouri area for decades. He is the editor of ONE BODY, a magazine advocating Christian unity. And . . . Peggy’s father was a preacher in Nebraska (Kearney and Albion) and mostly in Ventura, California. Plus, Peggy was married to a guy who preached full time for about ten years ( I know him well). So Peggy and Muriel have fun discussing the pluses and minuses of living in the glass house of a parsonage.

Anyway, these photos show a little of what we did here this time.

2016--05--14   A1  Bradenton, FL -- Peggy Paregien and Muriel Paregien.jpg

2016--05--14   A2  Sarasota, FL -- Cousins - Stan and Jerry Paregien - by Peggy Paregien

2016--05--14   A3  Sarasota, FL -- Jerry and Muriel Paregien - by Peggy Paregien

2016--05--14   A4  Sarasota, FL -- Stan and Peggy Paregien - by Jerry Paregien

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Note the electric scoot-mobile Jerry has been using for about six months for longer walks. It is an amazing little thing that folds up compactly and only weights about 35 pounds, as I recall. So it gets an amazing number of miles per gallon of gas.

2016--05--17  B01   Bradenton, FL  --  nearly 30 million tourists visited Florida in the first quarter of 2016

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2016--05--15  A8B  Sarasota, FL - Old Guys Napping

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2016--05--20   A01   Bradenton, FL  is 6th fastest growing town in Florida, 46th in the nation

2016--06--15  05A   Venice, FL  -  Dr Brian Smith on his tricycle - by Peggy Paregien

2016--06--15  05B   Venice, FL  -  Dr Brian Smith on his tricycle - by Peggy Paregien

2016--06--15  05C   Venice, FL  -  Hand-made quilt given to Dr Brian and Ruth Smith - by Peggy Paregien

This beautiful quilt, above, was given to the Smiths recently by a friend — Jean Pendergrass. And . . . that reminds me of a poem about quilters . . . 

Poem 450   Old Quilters Never Die  --  Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted June 14, 2016

2016--06--15  05D   Venice, FL  -  View from condo of  Dr Brian and Ruth Smith - by Peggy Paregien

2016--06--15  05E   Venice, FL  -  Stan and Peg Paregien with Ruth and Brian Smith  - by Bonnie Hamill

2016--06--19   01--A  Bradenton, FL  -- 8 dogs in the back of a convertible car - by Peggy Paregien

2016--06--19   02--A  Sarasota, FL  -- Don Betts and Judy - by Peggy Paregien

These are two of our favorite people in Florida. No, make that the United States. Naw, make that the continent of North America. Aw, shucks, you catch my drift. 

2016--06--19   03-A    Sarasota,  FL  -- Clay Landes -  by Stan Paregien

Be sure to check back for the next posting on THE PAREGIEN JOURNAL, as it will tell more about Clay’s story of faith. And it will have a copy of that great song he wrote.

Now, a very important personal note . . . 

Mr. and Mrs. Stan Paregien, Jr.

2016--05--10   Anniversary of Becky and Stan Paregien Jr - May 10, 1986 in Stroud, OK

2016--05--29--B   30th Anniversary renewal of wedding vows of Becky and Stan Paregien Jr -  married May 10, 1986

2016--05--29--C   Waterloo, IL - 30th Anniversary renewal of wedding vows of Becky and Stan Paregien Jr -  married May 10, 1986

Major Stan Paregien Jr., U.S.A.F., and wife Becky renewing their vows  on their 30th wedding anniversary. Columbia, Illinois. May 29, 2016

2016--05--29--C2   Waterloo, IL - 30th Anniversary renewal of wedding vows of Becky and Stan Paregien Jr -  married May 10, 1986

2016--05--29--C7   Waterloo, IL - Stan Paregien Jr, and Becky with kids - Daniel and Jodi - 30th anniversary

Becky & Stan Paregien Jr. with their children: Daniel (also in the U.S.A.F.) of St. Louis, Mo., and Jodi P. Barrow of Arkansas

2016--05--29--D   Waterloo, IL - Brandon Barrow, Jodi P Barrow and Bailee

Jodi Paregien Barrow with her husband Brandon (U.S. Coast Guard) and daughter Bailee (not shown, son Dominic)

Our 54th Wedding Anniversary

Peggy and I celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary on May 31, 2016. This year it was just a little different. Okay, a whole lot different.

Previously, we celebrated it together by eating at a nice restaurant or going some place special. On our 25th anniversary we made our first trip to lovely Hawaii. On our 50th we flew to London and took a bus tour of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and one day in France. 

This time we also celebrated it with a trip to a special place. Only she went alone. And all day and night on May 31st she was enjoying being at sea on a 12-day cruise aboard the Holland American Oosterdam, as the guest of our friend and neighbor Evelyn Skliar. Meanwhile, I was home walking the dog and watering the flowers, neither of which I bargained for when we moved to Florida [upon her return I turned in my license to do such].

Oh, well. One of the little zigs and zags in life. 

Poem 445   Another Anniversary, My Love  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  May 31, 2016 -- Page 1 of  2

Poem 445   Another Anniversary, My Love  --  by Stan Paregien Sr - copyrighted  May 31, 2016 -- Page 2 of  2

 

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Issue 335 – Life in Florida, Part 4

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Issue 335  –  Life in Florida, Part 4  –  May 13, 2016

Time for another slice of life here on the central Gulf coast of Florida. Next month Peggy and I will mark the 3rd anniversary of our move to Bradenton, Florida from Edmond, Oklahoma. 

And now a brief word about Oklahoma. Our friends back up on the Great Plains are in a position perhaps best described by the title of one of my favorite old-time rock ‘n roll songs: they have “A Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On.” True. As in earthquakes.

Peggy and I spent a total of about 25 years of our married lives in the general Oklahoma City area. We seldom ever even had a “shimmy” of a shake until the last 18 months we were there. All of a sudden, though, we had a solid earthquake startle us with a “bang” sound much like a sonic boom and then the shaking of our house. Oh, yes, there have always been small tremors in Oklahoma and most everywhere else. Peggy and I each spent our high school years in southern California (her’s on the Pacific coast city of Ventura; and mine at the farming community 30 miles inland named Fillmore). So we have experienced real shakers at 5.0 or worse. But all those years in Oklahoma it never crossed our minds to take out earthquake insurance on our house. But we got it, after having to wait a week after that noisy one.

Oklahoma earthquakes -- cartoons  -- 01

Some Oklahoma towns, in a corridor from Prague to Shawnee, experienced some significant damages to houses and larger structures before we moved. But as late as 2009, there were only two earthquakes of a 3.00 magnitude. But in 2015, there were over 900 of the 3.0 magnitude or higher quakes in Oklahoma–and over a much wider area. Move over California, because Oklahoma is now the undisputed “Earthquake Capital of the United States.” 

Yikes.

The culprit, scientists now tell us, is not the highly-suspected and maligned fracking done by oil companies. No, those human-caused earthquakes are caused when the oil companies dispose of their waste water by pumping it under tremendous pressure back down deep in the earth. Oil wells actually bring up more brimy salt water than they do oil, so they build high-pressure disposal pump stations to return the hundreds of thousands of barrels back down in the innards of Mother Nature. And good ol’ Mother Nature didn’t like it, so she is hiccuping more and more destructively. So our concern is very real for our friends back there.

‘Nuff said about that.

Here are some photos taken so far in the month of May, right here in our general area of Florida. I hope you enjoy them.

 

Cortez, FL   - LOGO - by Stan Paregien

2016--05--05 -- A   Cortez, FL  -  The Seafood Shack

2016--05--05 -- B   Cortez, FL  -  Pelican

2016--05--05 -- C   Cortez, FL  - Looking across Anna Maria Sound to the west  --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- D   Cortez, FL  - drawbridge over  Anna Maria Sound to the west  --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- E   Cortez, FL  - Evelyn Sklair and Peggy Paregien  --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- F   Cortez, FL  - The Seafood Shack  --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- G   Cortez, FL  - Evelyn Sklair at The Seafood Shack  --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- H   Cortez, FL  - sea shells in the sidewalk  at The Seafood Shack  --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- J   Cortez, FL  - large homes along the east side of Anna Maria Island Sound   --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- L   Cortez, FL  -yacht in Anna Maria Island Sound   --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- M1   Cortez, FL  - Evelyn Sklair on her 65th birthday    --  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2016--05--05 -- N   Cortez, FL  - Evelyn Sklair and Peggy Paregien    --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- O   Cortez, FL  - Bird on a rope    --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- P   Cortez, FL  - Bird on a rope    --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- Q   Cortez, FL  - Bird on a rope    --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- R   Cortez, FL  - house    --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- S   Longboat Key, FL  -  beach on the Gulf of Mexico   --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--05 -- T   Longboat Key, FL  -  beach on the Gulf of Mexico   --  copyrighted by Stan Paregien Sr

2016--05--07   A    Nokomis, Florida    -- LOGO - by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   B    Nokomis, Florida    --  Russian Christians hosted a worship, baptismal service and meal  - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   B    Nokomis, Florida    --  Shirley Cook on the beach  - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   B3    Nokomis, Florida    --  Pat Landes and Peggy Paregien

2016--05--07   C    Nokomis, Florida    --  the North Jetty area   - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   D    Nokomis, Florida    --  a flower near the beach    - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   E    Nokomis, Florida    --  pelicans    - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   F    Nokomis, Florida    --  big white bird     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   F    Nokomis, Florida    -- group     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   F2    Nokomis, Florida    -- group     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   G    Nokomis, Florida    -- group     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   G2    Nokomis, Florida    -- group     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   H    Nokomis, Florida    -- group     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   K    Nokomis, Florida    -- Russian group     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   K1    Nokomis, Florida    -- Russian group     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   L1    Nokomis, Florida    -- Christians -- Russian and American     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   L2    Nokomis, Florida    -- Christians -- Russian and American     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

Baptism  --  believer's baptismBaptism  --  chart of what baptism is all about -- by Scott Chafee

Baptism  --  go and make disciples - baptize them

baptism  --  repent and be baptized

baptism  -- chart of baptism as a death, burial and resurrection in Christ

2016--05--07   N1   Baptisms in the Gulf of Mexico --    Nokomis, Florida    -- Russians     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

2016--05--07   N3     Baptisms in the Gulf of Mexico --    Nokomis, Florida     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

baptism  --  buried with him in baptism and resurrected with him

Baptism  --  here the shovel of a front-end loader serves as a baptistry - Irack, April of 2004

baptism  -- soldier being baptized in a make-shift baptistry of a hole in the ground, a tarp, sandbags and water

Baptism -- in an icy river - date and place unknown

Though cold and uncomfortable, it was quite common for folks in the winter to break the ice on a pond, lake or river so that a Believer could confess Christ and be baptized. My own maternal grandmother, Mrs. John (Vada Walters) Cauthen, was baptized in a farm pond in Oklahoma — and, yes, it was winter time and the ice had to broken. Then the happy group wrapped blankets around her and she rode back home in the back of a horse-drawn wagon. I guess maybe those pioneers were a very hardy stock. However, I do remember baptizing at least a couple of people at various times in a baptistry in a church building where, because someone forgot to turn the water heater on, the water was so cold it took our breathes away. No one backed out, though.

Baptism -- take the next step in following Jesus

NOTE: To those who believe that Jesus is the Christ the son of God and love Him with all your heart, we urge you to repent (turn away from) your sins and make a public commitment to God and his people by being baptized (immersed). We do not view this as a “church requirement” or as just a quaint tradition. Jesus set the example by allowing John the Baptist to immerse him. Jesus also stated that his people should go about preaching the Gospel and baptizing those who respond to him. And that is exactly what the early Christians did, as talked about in the book of The Acts of the Apostles and the Book of Romans. Read about it yourself.

If you are ready to be baptized, let us know and we will help you or put you into contact with a person near where you live (even if that is on another continent). Write to me: Stan Paregien Sr. at  paregien@gmail.com  . 

I have added this article from the Sarasota, Florida newspaper (in early 2015, as I recall) just to show that many other Christians besides ourselves also place a great importance on baptism of the penitent Believer. 

Baptism at a beach in Sarasota, FL - 2013-10-13  Page 1 of 2

Baptism at a beach in Sarasota, FL - 2013-10-13  Page 2 of 2

2016--05--07   O--1     Rod Myers speaking to the newly baptized Russians  --    Nokomis, Florida     - Copyrighted by Stan Paregien

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Thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes here at my internet home. Always good to have you.

My plans are to take a breather for a few weeks. So stay tuned.

— Stan

Logo---Zia--THE END--613w x 300dpi----pubDomain

Issue 332 – Stan Paregien’s 15 eBooks Online

The Paregien Journal  –  Issue 332  –  May 4, 2016  –  Stan Paregien Sr., Editor

Periodically I need to stop and introduce my newer internet friends to some of the other things I have written over the years. So what follows here are thumbnail descriptions of the fifteen (15) eBooks of mine which are currently for sale online in a variety of popular formats.

I hope to have another eBook finished by the end of the summer, this one a non-fiction book with loads of photos and information about places and people in our recently adopted state, Florida. When that one is complete, I plan to start the most challenging non-fiction book of my entire career. Can’t tell you much about it, except that it will probably take a year or two for me to complete it. And I hope it will be my best and most-widely received.

After those two very serious projects end, I’ll ease off the keyboard and chip away at my “bucket list” of over 15 more writing projects. Do you know the story of Mrs. Winchester of the famed, odd-ball “Winchester House” in San Jose, California? Well, her hubby invented the Winchester brand rifle. He made a king-sized fortune on the manufacture of his guns and ammunition. After his death, Mrs. Winchester began listening way too much to a gypsy fortuneteller who convinced her that she would not die as long as there were carpenters at work on her house. So this dear lady with deep pockets kept crews of carpenters busy 24-hours of every day for years. So her house had doors and stairways that led nowhere and rooms that had been remodeled dozens of times. But, bless this mislead lady, her heart stopped way before the hammers and saws would have.

Unlike Mrs. Winchester, I really am not working away at my eBooks under some similar delusion that as long as I’m working on a manuscript I will not die. I’m a realist in the awareness that I may not even finish this page, let alone another manuscript, before the Good Lord calls me  to that Writers Retirement Home in the Sky. God knows I’m ready when He is, but I just don’t want to get on the Gospel Train today if it can be helped. So I keep writing.

In the meantime, please read through this information about what I have already done.

 

2016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 01 of 13

2016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 02 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 03 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 04 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 05 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 06 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 07 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 08 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 09 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 10 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 11 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 12 of 132016--05--03   Stan Paregien's Online eBooks  --- list of 15 -- page 13 of 13

There you have it, friends. My blog for today. I really do appreciate you stopping by once in a while to catch up on what is going on in my corner of the world. I am absolutely amazed at the fact we get visits from people in so many countries around the world. Even a few that I’m gonna have to look on a map and find out where they’re located.

From January 1 to May4, 2016, we had visitors from an amazing 64 countries in the world. Here is the list in order of frequency, with the visitors from the United States being 20 times as many as the next country:

(1) United States, (2) France, (3) German, (4) United Kingdom, (5) Columbia, (6) Brazil, (7) Spain, (8) Netherlands, (9) India, (10) South Africa, (11) Hungary, (12) (13) Australia, (14) Jamaica, (15) Norway, (16) Italy, (17) Ghana, (18) Switzerland, (19) Finland, and (20) Sweden.

Also:  Ireland, Poland, European Union, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Chech Republic, Venezuala, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, Trinidad & Tobago, Belgium, Israel, Chile, Mexico, Twaiwon, Serbia, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Slovenia, Jordan, Ukraine, Russia, Costa Rica, United Arab Emirates, Iceland, Lebanon, Peru, Mayotte, Turkey, Kuwait, Greece, Sri Lanka, Georgia (Russia), Morocco, British Virgin Islands, Ecuador, Romania, and Vatican City.

What? Vatican City. Yep, Vatican City. Hmmm. Wonder if one of them was the Pope?

That wide and semi-permanent exposure of my thoughts to others in other cultures is another reason I keep on writing. 

See ya next time.  

 — Stan                Stan Paregien, Storyteller -- 01--D   300 dpi

P.S. The above logo was designed for me by my late sister, Roberta Paregien Fournier, who died in 2015. I miss my littl’ sister a whole bunch almost every day.

Bar  -- 03   Blue with tan and maroon border - created by Stan Paregien - 2015-11-10

 

 

 

Issue 321, The Spiritual Life

The Paregien Journal   –  Issue 321  –  February 2, 2016

Stan Paregien, Editor

 

The Spiritual Life

Welcome, friends, to another issue of The Paregien Journal. This blog falls into the “eclectic” category I suppose, reflecting my personal interest in a whole range of topics. And on this occasion I have gathered a collection of diverse essays under the heading of “The Spiritual Life.”

Spiritual life

These materials are worthy of your consideration no matter what the status of your personal spiritual life. You may be an agnostic, an atheist, a Buddist, a Muslem, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian or a Hindu. The thoughtful person is always aware of his intellectual short-comings and holds firmly onto what he knows now, pending further information or investigation. That is an honest and commendable way to live.

I would simply ask you to take off your critic’s hat as you read these materials. Read as a open-minded searcher for the kind of truths which can make each of us a wiser, happier and better person. Afterward, you may want to meditate for a while on what applications this material has to your own life. And then decide what ethical, moral and theological concepts go beyond probable and good to that which is clearly best for your spiritual life. 

 

No One-Dimensional People

by Edward Fudge

When I was a child, there was a man at the other end of the block whom we kids named “Grouchy Grubbs.” Whether he disliked boys and girls in general or only those who were his neighbors we did not know, but he certainly did not like little Fudges, Dunnavants, Chandlers, Kuykendalls, Chumleys, Rollingses, Curtises or Williamses–the families with children growing up on Chandler Drive. He was a one-dimensional man with a single attribute. He was grouchy. His grouchiness contrasted sharply with the sparkling wit of a young widower named Clinton, to whom we bestowed the nickname “Mr. Candy-man.”

Most of our families attended the same church, where for many years Clinton was the primary song leader and also served as church treasurer. He loved children, whom he also loved to tease. Every Sunday when the final “Amen” had been said, Clinton distributed hard candies to all the little tykes found assembled in our midst. This would certainly be a better world, we concluded, if there were no Grouchy Grubbses and if there were many more Clintons.

I do not know what became of Grouchy Grubbs, except in general — as we children grew up, he grew old. One day he retired. Eventually he died, as did his wife. Turns out he had a normal family with normal blessings and normal problems. In fact, he probably was no more grouchy than normal. Mr Candy-man continued passing out the sweets and teasing the children, leading the singing, and counting the offering–a one-man job since our church was so small.

Then one day he was gone, leaving to his motherless only child the pretty new house he had been building for several years, as he got the money. There was only one problem with this picture: the more money Clinton got, the less money the church seemed to have. The elders discovered this problem and confronted Clinton. He agreed to meet with them after the weekend and explain everything. But before the day arrived for that meeting, he used his gun to end it all.

There are no one-dimensional people, just one-dimensional thinking. I am neither all good or all bad, and neither are you, nor is anyone either of us will ever meet. We all have specks of gold mixed with our earthly clay, and problems and weaknesses and sins. We all struggle with burdens, carry loads that weigh us down, cherish aspirations and ambitions and goals.

As we enter the new year 2016, let us resolve to be merciful, to show compassion, to think the best of others, and to be quick to share a word of encouragement or a helping hand. Life is too short to do otherwise. We have God’s forgiveness, his Spirit, his promises, and his Presence. Let us remember who we are and whose we are — and live accordingly. Be blessed–and be a blessing!

[Found in Edward Fudge’s GracEmail newsletter dated Dec. 27, 2015.]

____________________

Two Essays on Mormonism

by Dr. Leroy Garrett

Written in his Soldier On! newsletter in 2006.

 Essay 1: “A Mormon Funeral”

When it comes to Mormons it seems that “I’ve been there and done that.” I have attended the services of all four wards (congregations) that meet in the two chapels in my home town, as they call their churches. I even went through the Mormon temple in Dallas when it first opened, which a “Gentile” could do before it was dedicated. I have studied their history and doctrine, talked to their missionaries, and enjoyed their friendship, including the only two doctors, beloved physicians indeed, that I have had during my 44 years in Denton. Both Mormons!

But I had never been to a Mormon funeral. When the son/grandson of a prominent Denton business family drowned in a river accident in Idaho, I decided to attend his funeral, not only out of respect for the family, but for a new Mormon experience.You might call it an ecumenical urge.

The deceased, a handsome chap who died a few days short of turning 21, was in his second year at Brigham Young University. Already an elder in the church, he was scheduled to begin his two-year mission-ary assignment in December.

There was the usual viewing at the chapel the evening before the funeral, which I did not attend. I was one of the first to arrive for the service, but the chapel, now with extra chairs, was soon filled, upwards of 600. A ward usually has around 300 members. For this funeral there must have been many non-Mormons present. Organ music began some 20 minutes before the service.

Since it was a funeral and not a memorial service, I supposed there would be the casket at front center. There was no casket, and but a select number of standing floral pieces. The casket was still in a side room with the family gathered around it. As in other churches, we stood as the large family filed in to the central area reserved for them. It was then that the casket was rolled in, but it was placed not at front center, but to the right side, rather unobtrusive and of course unopened. The deceased, if he has advanced to priesthood, will usually be buried in white, with a priestly sash around a shoulder.

The president of the stake (a group of wards) presided, while the bishop of the ward (equal to the pastor in a Protestant church) was the conductor. The prayers were led by family members, the eulogy was given by a family friend, a woman; and the message was given by an uncle of the deceased. Another woman, also a family member, sang “O That I Were An Angel,” with piano accompaniment.

The Order of Service had a picture of Jesus on the first page, along with a quotation from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon – a scripture that is also in the Bible. A substantial part of the Book of Mormon is taken from the Bible. The oddity is that while the Book of Mormon was supposedly written hundreds of years before Christ, there are quotations from the King James Version, which was not produced until 1611!

Book of Morman -- Another Testament of Jesus

On the inside cover were two of the deceased’s favorite scriptures, one from the Book of Mormon and one from Doctrine and Covenants. But the Bible was used in other parts of the service. On the back side was a colorful picture of the deceased – a smiling, charming young man.

 Even though both hymns that were sung were uniquely Mormon, the church’s hymnal, published in Salt Lake City, does have many of the great hymns of the church universal, sung by all Christians.

The first hymn could have been sung only by Mormons, and I noticed that those seated near me seemed to know it by heart. The first line reads We have been born, as Nephi of old/ To godly parents who love the Lord. A line from the chorus has We are the army of Helaman/ We have been taught in our youth. Nephi and Helaman are heroes in the Book of Mormon.

The bishop’s presentation was consistent with my understanding of Mormonism with its emphasis on good works. He quoted with emphasis from James – “Show me your faith without your works, and I will by my works show you my faith.” He emphasized obeying the commandments, and the Mormons have thousands. No reference to Paul in Romans, and no reference to grace.

Some Mormon-watchers refer to this as “the Mormon dilemma” – prodded to keep commandments they cannot keep, to be “worthy” when by nature, like all of us, they are unworthy. As Jesus himself tells us: “When you have done all things commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants’” (Lk. 17:10). Our Lord never promised that our good works would sustain us, but he did say “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9).

The Mormons pay a high price for their works-oriented religion. Some insist – with statistics in hand — that this explains why Utah, predominately Mormon, has far more than its share of mental illness, depression, child (sexual) abuse, teenage pregnancy, divorces, suicide (especially teen suicide).

The “Mormon woman” is named as particularly oppressed, with ongoing depression common. She is to be subservient to her husband, both for time and eternity. She is destined to be “eternally pregnant,” bearing children – along with other of his wives – for her god-husband, who will have his own planet to populate. She must also depend on him for her resurrection from the dead. He is to call her from the grave – using the secret name known only to them, given to them when they married for eternity in the temple. If he doesn’t call, she is without hope. Mormon women might find John 5:25 liberating: “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.”

But the message given by the deceased’s uncle was as Christian as one would hear in any evangelical church. He lifted up Christ as the only Savior and our only hope, and as sufficient for all our needs. No reference to The Prophet, to the Book of Mormon, or to “the restored gospel.” Jesus is the only gospel we need!

I found myself wanting to ask him how he could believe what he said and yet believe that one has to be a Mormon to be a true Christian and belong to the true church. How can one believe in the sufficiency of Christ and yet believe in the essentiality of the unique claims of Mormonism? The Mormons do not believe that The Prophet is Savior, but they do believe that he has to deem them worthy before they can go to heaven. Is that faith in Christ as the only Savior?

Christ-centeredness! It was a good way to end the funeral. But I was left with a question that evangelical Christians are asking, Are Mormons Christians?

In response to a cover story about Mormons in Newsweek, a Protestant minister wrote: “The Mormons are not Christians, they are Mormons.” And a Newsweek editor raised the problem faced by Mit Romney, governor of Massachusetts, who might be a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 2008. But Romney is a Mormon.

The editor reminded his readers that it was evangelical Christians who put the last three Republican Presidents in the White House, and that no Republican can be elected without the evangelical vote. He ventured that the evangelicals would vote for Hillary Clinton before they would vote for a Mormon.

What is the basis of the evangelical complaint against Mormons? It must be serious if they would vote for Hillary, whom they can’t abide, before they would vote for a Mormon, any Mormon, however attractive he might be otherwise. While in this essay I may have already hinted as some of those reasons, in my next I will spell out some of those reasons in detail. And I will let you decide for yourself. I do not propose to be a judge on this issue,  Are Mormons Christians?  but that is the subject of the next essay.

[Published in Dr. Leroy Garrett’s emailed newsletter, Soldier On!, Essay 133 dated July 27, 2006 ]

 

 Essay 2:  “Are Mormons Christians?”

by Dr. Leroy Garrett

I have an uneasiness about this subject. Who am I to say who is or who is not a Christian? The Lord knows those who are his, as Scripture says, not I. But in my last essay I referred to a Newsweek article in which evangelical Christians were described as not believing that Mormons are Christians – a view that may well be held by Christians generally. I promised that in this essay I would explain why they feel this way.

The Mormons certainly see themselves as Christians, and they are understandably offended when accused of not being. But it is such a commonly held view that on Larry King Live,  Larry — who is married to a Mormon — asked the current president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whom he was interviewing, if Mormons were Christians. The authoritative voice of the Mormon church replied – a bit impatiently I detected – “Certainly we are Christians!”

This suspicion of Mormons takes different forms. Years ago when I was back at Princeton Seminary (Presbyterian) I happened to sit at the alumni banquet with a renowned professor, with whom I had studied decades earlier. He told me he had recently been to Brigham Young University to lecture for the Mormons, and he expressed surprise that they invited him. Thinking it appropriate to say something positive, I mentioned that the Mormons make good neighbors and upstanding citizens. To which he replied, “Yes, if they didn’t have to believe so many crazy things.”

That is the way many Christians see them – they believe and practice a lot of crazy things. But some translate that into They are not Christians, insisting that what is wrong is not just “crazy” but grossly anti-biblical and anti-Christian.

Most Mormons – perhaps the president and prophet himself – might be surprised to learn that no less an authority than Brigham Young insisted that Mormons were not Christians, for they were more than Christians. “We are a special people of God,” he said. That appears to be how they see themselves – their prophet Joseph Smith is the greatest of all prophets; their Scriptures are superior and more reliable than the Bible; and while all other churches are apostate, their church is the only true church.

When critics – some of them ex-elite “Temple Mormons” — accuse Mormons of not being Christians what charges do they make? After considerable reading on this subject, I list here the most significant accusations – which are always documented from Mormon sources.

  1. The Mormon God is not the Christian God.

 This is the severest test for any religion. If it is wrong about God, little else matters. C. S. Lewis observed that there are only two kinds of religions – those which believe in the one, eternal God of the universe, such as the Judeo-Christian faith, and those that believe in many gods, such as Hinduism and paganism.

Mormonism is in the second category in that it teaches that every male Mormon can become a god. Women may become goddesses, but not gods. The essence of Mormonism is to make an infinite number of gods for an infinite universe. Their critics have thus called them “the God Makers.” Already they have made millions of gods, as they see it.

God himself was once a man like the rest of us who proved himself so “worthy” – a key word in Mormonism – that over aeons of self-exaltation he at last became Yahweh God. When the Bible describes God as infinite, eternal, immortal, and immutable it is not describing the Mormon God.

  1. The Mormon Jesus is not the Jesus of Christians.

The Mormon Jesus is not “the Word became flesh.” – or God who became man — but, like God, a man who by being “worthy” became Christ. God, who is polygamous with his many wives, had intercourse with Mary, one of his wives, and Jesus was born. God had other children, one being Lucifer – so Lucifer, who became the prince of devils, and Jesus were brothers. This was in their pre-mortal state.

Moreover, the Mormon Jesus was polygamous while on earth, and he lived to see several of his children. They have Jesus getting married one more time at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.

One will notice that manhood is the doorway to godhood – first a man, then perhaps a god. So with God, so with Jesus. So with all who become gods. This is the rationale for polygamy – all the yet unborn spirits must become human, so they in turn can through good works become gods. And god-making goes on eternally, with the goddesses eternally pregnant. Mormonism potentially has more gods even than Hinduism, whose gods are innumerable.

This is why Mormonism rejects “the fall of man” or original sin. Brigham Young said man fell upwards. The so-called “fall” was a blessing in disguise, Young said, for in it man began to learn how to become a god. Man is basically good, an “embryonic god” in fact.

This is also why Mormonism has little or no doctrine of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit has apparently never become a man – and so is not God. You can now understand the Mormon adage “As man now is God once was, as God is man may become.” But is it Christian?

 3.  Mormonism is a cult, and so cannot be truly Christian.

If this charge is true and comes to be generally understood, it could have a devastating effect on Mormonism. For the general public – not just the religious — abhors cults. It even fears them.

A cult may be defined as:

(1)  Formed around a charismatic leader who is esteemed as a spokesman for God, who has unquestioned authority over them, demands absolute obedience, and has a hyper ego;

(2)  Having its own ongoing revelations from God, which may take the form of extra-biblical scriptures;

(3)  Having weird and bizarre doctrines and practices, often expressed in secret rituals,

(4)  Seeing itself as a special, superior people of God, it judges others as inferior, apostate, abominable.

 

Mormonism appears to qualify as a cult

 on every point listed above, such as

(numbers below correspond to numbers above):

(1)  Joseph Smith is the unique, charismatic figure of Mormonism, who was no ordinary prophet. He restored the true church of Jesus Christ, apart from which there is no salvation. Even the most devout Christian, biblically baptized, must accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and be baptized into the Mormon church to be saved. The Prophet and The Brethren who are his successors have absolute authority and are not to be questioned. As they themselves put it, “When The Brethren speak, the thinking has already been done.”

(2) The Mormons have at least three “Bibles” of their own — the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. Since they see the Bible as corrupted through the centuries, the Mormon scriptures are superior. Besides, they have twelve apostles, one of whom is president and prophet – successor to Joseph Smith – who receives revelations and speaks for God.

In 1870 – after the Supreme Court ruled against polygamy – the sitting prophet received a revelation that was to end polygamy, though it did not actually condemn the practice, for that would have contradicted their scriptures, which make polygamy “a divine law.” And in 1978 – after 150 years of being racist – the church through its prophet received a revelation that gave equal rights to blacks, even though the Book of Mormon still makes dark skin a curse of God.

(3)  What is more weird and bizarre than what goes on in the scores of Mormon temples around the world? There are secret rituals and oaths (revealed only at pain of death), a secret handshake, and secret under garments with markings like those of the Masons (the Prophet was a Mason).

Couples are “sealed” in marriage to each other for eternity; each receives a secret name, which the man uses to call his wife from the grave. When a wife dies a veil is placed over her face in the coffin, where it is to stay until her husband calls. But he is to have other wives in heaven, all of whom will be eternally bearing children so as to populate their god-husband’s own universe.

But the temples are more for the dead than for the living. They are awesome to the average Mormon. Yet 70% never enter one due to being unworthy, which makes “Temple Mormons” the elite. The dead of all human history may still be saved – multiplied billions of them. Their spirits gather in the temples, begging to be saved. They can still believe “the restored gospel” of Joseph Smith and be baptized, except a living Mormon is actually baptized for each of them.

 But the dead must first be identified and authenticated as having lived, with appropriate data recorded. And so the Mormons are also genealogists with a depository of millions, if not billions, of names in a mountain vault near Salt Lake City. The point is to be baptized for them. Some Mormons have been baptized for hundreds, even  thousands, who may have lived centuries in the past. “A church for the dead,” they are called. They see themselves as the saviors of all humankind, the dead of ages past as well as the living.

 (4)  Salvation is only in the Mormon church, which has all the truth of God, a claim common to all cults.

 While Christians in general base their salvation not on their own worthiness or good works but upon the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Mormon church offers salvation only in “the one true church” and by being “worthy” through good works.

That contradicts the great truth of the Christian faith. If one can be saved by his own worthiness, then the sacrifice of Christ was unnecessary. As the Bible puts it –- “Not by any works of righteousness which we have done ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). Man is a sinner before God, not an embryonic god. We were not created to be gods, but to be human beings conformed to the image of Christ, both in this world and in the world to come (Philippians 3:20-21).

In the light of all this it is understandable that many Mormon watchers do not see them as Christians. The fact remains, however, that they often act like Christians, and impressively so.They will point out to you that theirs is virtually the only church with “Jesus Christ” in its name. If you attend their services you will never hear them pray except in the name of Christ. They glorify Christ in praise and song. They acknowledge him as the risen Lord, and do good works in his name.

The issue before us raises a question that I don’t know the answer to – How wrong might one be and still be a Christian?

The church in Corinth had many things amiss, but Paul still saw them as the body of Christ. Admittedly, the line has to be drawn somewhere. We can probably agree that to be a Christian one’s heart has to be right – a heart for Christ. And only God knows the heart.

The answer we seek might be different if we asked about Mormonism itself rather than the individual Mormon – Is Mormonism Christian?

It would be like asking if Calvinism is Christian (Thomas Jefferson said Calvin’s God is a demon) rather than asking if Presbyterians are Christians.

Many Mormons – perhaps most – do not know about the “crazy,” cultish things revealed above. The missionaries do not reveal them in conversion, and The Brethren reveal them to the initiated only gradually. Mormon history is one of lying and deceit. Even Joseph Smith with his plurality of wives (27 according to a Mormon historian’s count; 46 by ex-Mormon Faun Brody’s listing, with some as young as 13) denied he was a polygamist up to his dying day!

You have to give him credit – it is not every man who can keep 46 wives under cover. No pun intended! But it was generally known, and it was one more reason why a mob stormed the jail in Carthage, Mo. in 1844 – where he was held for treason – and murdered him. He was earlier jailed for fraud in reference to deals related to digging for money. And yet he placed himself a close second to Christ himself!

But typical Mormons do not know these stories. The Mormon church is a good family church with high moral values, as they see it. They go to church – well, half do, half don’t (“Jack Mormons” are what they call their folks who don’t go to church). They work hard to be good Christians. Some of them know what Mormonism teaches, and do not believe it. But where do they go since all other churches are also false? They accept the good and try to ignore the bad.

Sound familiar?

When we ask whether others are Christians, it is just as well to turn the question on ourselves, Are we Christians?

Some of us are probably more Christian than some of our dogmas. That may be where at least some Mormons are.

[Published in Dr. Leroy Garrett’s emailed newsletter, Soldier On!, Essay 134 dated August 4, 2006 ]

Dr. Garrett died in 2015. He was a prolific writer up until a few weeks before his death. You will find many, if not most, of his writings posted at:

http://www.leroygarrett.org/

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Psalm 23 For the Work Place

Author Unknown

Workers

The Lord is my real boss, and I shall not want.
He gives me peace, when chaos is all around me.
He gently reminds me to pray and do all things
without murmuring and complaining.

He reminds me that he is my source and not my job.
He restores my sanity everyday and guides my decisions
that I might honor him in all that I do.

Even though I face absurd amounts of e-mails, system
crashes, unrealistic deadlines, budget cutbacks, gossiping
co-workers, discriminating supervisors and an aging
body that doesn’t cooperate every morning, I still will not
stop—for He is with me! His presence, His peace,
and His power will see me through.

He raises me up, even when they fail to promote me.
He claims me as His own, even when the company
threatens to let me go.
His Faithfulness and love is better than any
bonus check.

His retirement plan beats every 401k there is.
When it’s all said and done, I’ll be working for Him
a whole lot longer and for that, I bless his name.

Spiritual life  --  02

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The Paradox of Dying to Live:

Considering the Intent of Romans 6:7

by Al Maxey*

In his epistle to the Roman brethren, Paul makes a statement that has caused some degree of speculation, the understanding (or misunderstanding) of which has also led to doctrines and dogmas boldly proclaimed and perpetuated by a number of disciples of Christ. That statement is found in Romans 6:7, which reads, “For he that is dead is freed from sin” (KJV).

The question that has arisen in the minds of many is: What is meant by the term “dead” in this passage? We will come back to that, but first we discover from the text that the result of this death is the blessing of being “freed from sin.” The Greek word here translated as “freed” is “dikaioo,” which means “to be acquitted, cleared, freed, vindicated; to be declared just and righteous; to stand approved and accepted.”

The point Paul makes to his brothers and sisters in Christ is that they have been cleared of sin and freed from its power over them. They are now regarded by the Father as just and righteous, and thereby accepted by Him into an intimate relationship with Him. This Greek word in Romans 6:7 is a perfect passive indicative, which means the person stands having been set free, based on a past act, from the power, guilt and consequence of sin.

Dr. A.T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, makes note of this Greek construction and says this term means “to stand justified; set free from.” That past act, that secures our freedom, is stated in the text to be DEATH. Because one has died, that one is now free. This, in fact, is one of the primary teachings of Paul in this chapter (as well as throughout this epistle).

Notice the following two paragraphs from Reflections #617 (“Reenacting Our Redemptive Reality”):

Look at the context of Romans 6. Read it carefully. What is Paul talking about in this passage? Is he building a theology around baptism in water? Is he declaring this rite to be THE precise point of contact with the blood of Jesus Christ? Is this passage from the pen of Paul, as some claim, about baptism?! Far from it.

Baptism  --  07  baptism by immersion -  beliver's baptism

Indeed, the rite of baptism in water is entirely incidental to his primary message; it is only mentioned in passing. Paul’s point is: “you have been set free from sin” (vs. 18, 22); “we died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (vs. 2). “Our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (vs. 6-7). “Count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin…” (vs. 11-13). “Sin shall not be your master” (vs. 14).

As those who have been set free in Christ Jesus; as those who are washed in His blood; as those who are cleansed — we are now called to reflect that reality in our daily lives. As recipients of His grace we are to be reflectors of His holiness. Returning to a life of sin should be unthinkable to those who are now set free from it. Thus, in this chapter, Paul twice asks: “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (vs. 1-2). “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (vs. 15).

By virtue of His grace and through our faith, we have received the blessing of being united with Him in the likeness of His death and resurrection (vs. 5). “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (vs. 3). What is the significance of this death? Paul gives us the answer: “The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God” (vs. 10). In our spiritual union with our Savior, we also have died to sin that we might live “in newness of life” — i.e., lives of purity and holiness, reflecting His nature rather than our own.

Paul is reminding the disciples in Rome that their baptism symbolizes this great reality, and they need to be conducting themselves according to the Great Reality they reflected in that rite. In their immersion they validated their faith in our Lord’s death, burial (entombment) and resurrection, and all that His act signifies; now, in their daily lives, they need to continually reflect this reality in a visible manner to the world about them. They are ambassadors of grace, children of God, and they need to behave as such. “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (vs. 4).

Paul is nowhere in this chapter saying that baptism in water SAVES us; nor does he even suggest that we “contact the blood” of the Savior in the baptistery. In our baptism we have publicly committed ourselves, in a visible profession of faith, to living lives “dead to sin” and devoted to righteousness and holiness. Baptism is an act of faith, but it is also, in some ways, a vow. In this act of faith in what He has done for us, we vow, in a very public, visible manner, to die to self and live for Him.

Baptism  --  a covenant -- 01

Don’t we also do the same in the wedding ceremony? A man and woman, in a very public manner, vow to die to self and live for the other! Is that ceremony (or some precise point within it) what unites this man and women in a covenant with one another before their God? Covenant takes place IN THE HEART, and that covenant was entered into before they “walked down the aisle.” Yes, this public profession is important and has a place as a “point of public remembrance,” but it reflects and represents a reality already present within the hearts of this man and woman prior to this ceremony. It is the same with baptism (although this statement will not sit well with the sacramentalists).

Romans 6:7 teaches us that if we are to experience the blessing of being freed from sin and regarded by the Lord as justified, if we are to be accepted by Him into a life affirming relationship, a death must occur. This is not a reference to the death of Jesus (at least not directly, although His death is certainly in the mind of the one dying), nor is it a reference to our physical death. Rather, it is a spiritual death of the old nature so that we might live in newness of life (a life in which we are Spirit filled and led). But, again, we come to the question: What is this death we are to experience, and when does it take place?

Many within my own faith-heritage believe this “death” that frees us from sin occurs at the point of baptism in water. They teach that baptism itself is the precise point of our cleansing and freeing from sin, thus investing it with a sacramental power.

Notice the comments of Dr. Paul E. Kretzmann on this passage from the pen of Paul: “We Christians, by virtue of our Baptism, are dead unto sin and live unto God, because the new life of God is planted into our hearts in Baptism” [Popular Commentary of the Bible: The NT, vol. 2, p. 32]. He goes on: “In Baptism the believer dies with Christ. . . . The new spiritual life which he has received in Baptism. . . . Crucified with Christ in Baptism. . .. By virtue of our Baptism, sin is removed. … Salvation: this our Baptism has worked, effected, in us. Because the old Adam, in Baptism, has been killed. … That is the wonderful blessing and benefit of Baptism” [ibid, p. 31]. The author always uses the upper case “B” in writing this word, for he regards this act as a holy sacrament: i.e., by this act itself one receives salvation, justification, and release from sin. Baptism itself, therefore, according to Dr. Kretzmann’s view, is HOLY, for IT is what effects our union with the Lord.

The apostle Paul, however, is not elevating baptism in water, or any other human act, to the status of a salvific sacrament. Baptism is not the “death” of which Paul speaks, but merely a visible and symbolic representation of that death. If we are to benefit from the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, then we too must die. Although baptism in water is a reenactment of HIS death, burial and resurrection, it is not the death of which Paul speaks in Romans 6:7. Thus, the question remains: What is that death, and when does it take place?

Ephesians 2 v8  --  Salvation by faith  --  01

The teaching of Paul, and of all Scripture, is that we embrace grace by faith! When I finally come to perceive the spiritual significance of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and when I put my complete trust in HIS act on my behalf, by that faith I die to self and lift Him up as Lord and Savior. I do indeed reflect that faith by repentance and confession, and even by a reenactment of HIS act (by being immersed in water), but it was BY FAITH that I died to self so as to live in/for Him. All else merely reflects that inner reality.

Thus, by faith I die with Him, and by faith I receive the benefit of HIS death, burial and resurrection, which is a freeing from the effects of sin. I am free; I am liberated; I am accepted, I am justified. And yes, I will SHOW this reality of salvation by grace through faith every day in countless ways, one of which is the visible reenactment in baptism of HIS redeeming act.

Adam Clarke rightly observed, “Does not this simply mean: the man who has received Christ Jesus by faith, and has been, through believing, made a partaker of the Holy Spirit, has had his old man, all his evil propensities, destroyed; so that he is not only justified freely from all sin, but wholly sanctified unto God? The context shows that this is the meaning” [Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 77].

The Greek scholar Dr. Kenneth Wuest concurs, pointing out that the word “dead” in our text “is aorist tense in the Greek text, namely, ‘he who died,’ referring to the historical fact of a believing sinner being identified with Christ in His death on the cross” [Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek NT, Vol. 1, p. 102].

David Lipscomb wrote, “The old man that followed sin was crucified through faith in Jesus” [A Commentary on the NT Epistles, Vol. 1, p. 117]. He then quotes the apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). Earlier in that same chapter, Paul wrote, “We have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ” (Galatians 2:16). In our text (Romans 6:7), Paul indicated that we are freed/justified as a result of a “death.” We died to the old man BY FAITH, and we received His declaration of freedom from sin by our faith in His redemptive act. We evidence that faith in a number of ways, one of which is baptism.

“This annulling of the power of sin is based on a recognized principle: death settles all claims. Our union with Christ in His death, which was designed to deal with sin once for all, means that we are free from the hold of sin. Its mastery is broken” [The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 10, p. 70].

“Death annuls all obligations, breaks all ties, cancels all old scores” [Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. 2, p. 633].

The ancient Jewish rabbis stated in their writings, “When one is dead he is free from commands.”

We are dead to law; we are dead to legislation; we are dead to command-keeping; we are dead to sin. We are liberated; we are free. By faith we have cast off the old man of our sinful nature, and we are made alive with Christ Jesus. Paul, following his statement in Romans 6:7, spends much of the remainder of the chapter discussing the practical aspects (as seen in daily living) of this death to our old nature resulting in freedom from sin. “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

Does this mean we are now perfect, and that we never sin? Of course not. In the latter part of the very next chapter (Romans 7:14f), Paul details his continuing struggle with sin. We daily stumble in our walk, but we are no longer slaves to sin, but merely victims of sin, with the good news being that we are sinners saved by grace, and in our inner man we have died to sin, even though in our flesh there is still weakness which far too often evidences itself in sinful ways. Yet, thanks be to God, for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:1-2). By faith we die; by faith we live! Thank God for His grace!

**********

 Maxey, Al -- Church of Christ -- date unknown 2

 Al Maxey is the author of several books on religious topics and he has defended his theological views in a number of debates. His “Reflections” newsletter, widely read  . . . and often criticized, is free for the asking. This essay was posted in Issue 676, for Sept. 25, 2015. Al preaches for the Cuba Avenue Church of Christ in Alamogordo, New Mexico and is one of the congregation’s shepherds as well. See his web site for back issues of his writings and for listings of his books and CDs and/or to sign up to receive his free newsletter:    http://www.zianet.com/maxey/

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Bible -- CS Lewis on not using Scriptures as weapons

Knowing So Much
But So Little

by Edward Fudge
Copyrighted Jan. 3, 2016

The second year of high school found me enrolled in a vocational class in commercial printing. A loud, smelly machine called a Linotype made a “line o’ type” from melted lead. The printing “press” inked the type with hard rubber rollers and “pressed” paper sheets against the type like a giant rubber stamp. My first assignment was to clean the rollers with gasoline and a large cloth. I saw what looked like six or eight large ink rollers, scrubbed them with a vengeance, then asked the boss to check my work. A quick look later he turned the big flywheel that moved the rollers, bringing up from somewhere in the depths a second set of rollers badly in need of a good cleaning. I thought I knew what to do and how to do it. Instead, to my embarrassment, I discovered how very, very little I knew.

That is much the way I feel these days, as I seek to retain and regain control over a damaged body and mind that play havoc with moods and emotions, randomly ignore or distort operating orders from the brain, create a variety of pains in both legs and feet, and make up new rules as we go along. Two culprits have joined forces to cause this mischief. First is Parkinson’s Disease (PD), with whom many of you are all too familiar as either caregiver or patient. My diagnosis was 13 years ago but the disease remained largely invisible for another decade until repeated back surgeries stirred it into action. The second culprit is a disease process known as “severe sensory-motor polyneuropathy,” recognizable by physical weakness and disability and by chronic pain.

As stated above, I am rapidly learning how little I know about things I thought I knew. After all, I have been a preacher/teacher for 50+ years and a lawyer for nearly 30. In both professions others looked to me as an “answer-man” concerning things in heaven and on earth respectively. But regardless of the number or the nature of the questions we have answered, I suspect that none of us, when assaulted by misfortune and called to suffer, will ever fully understand the answers to the big questions we all find ourselves asking–questions such as “Why?” and “Why me?”

Yet in this frustrated world groaning for redemption we can improve our perspective and learn to ask instead, “Why not me?” And we can always work on learning how better to wait (Romans 8:18-22). Meanwhile, the best knowledge we can gain is not “book-knowledge” as such, but relational knowledge born of experience in applying biblical principles to life as we encounter it together day by day (Colossians 1:9- 11).

On this subject, the simplest truths are often the most profound, and we can sum them up as faith, hope and love. The most important truth is that God loves us in spite of ourselves, which means we can trust him whatever the present appearances. The final chapter to our story is not yet written, making hope possible, necessary, and very relevant. And when all is said and done, and there is nothing more we can say or do to help, we again confess to God that he is all we have and that we are in his hands to stay. It just might be that the little we do know turns out to be very much indeed.

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* Edward Fudge is a lawyer, a preacher, and an author of several popular religious books. This copyrighted essay was published online on Jan. 3, 2016. You may contact him at his web site and sign up to receive his free GracEmail newsletter: http://edwardfudge.com/

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AA  Fair Use Disclaimer - 01 -- designed on by Stan Paregien Sr on 2016-02-01

End of This Issue

Issue 298 – The Resurrection of Jesus

Issue 298    —    The Paregien Journal    —    January March 31, 2015

The Resurrection of Jesus

by Stan Paregien Sr.

You may be among the large number of busy folks who have never really made a serious study regarding the evidences (or lack thereof) for the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. You may be from a passively religious family or even from an anti-religious family. Or maybe you just never thought too much about it. You’re certainly not alone.

However, I sincerely invite you to read the following article for William Lane Craig, a university professor and scholar who does a pretty darned good job of explaining why most Christians really do believe in the resurrection of Jesus and that it has made a wonderful difference in their lives.

The Resurrection of Jesus

by William Lane Craig

I spoke recently at a major Canadian university on the existence of God. After my talk, one slightly irate co-ed wrote on her comment card, “I was with you until you got to the stuff about Jesus. God is not the Christian God!”

This attitude is all too typical today. Most people are happy to agree that God exists; but in our pluralistic society it has become politically incorrect to claim that God has revealed Himself decisively in Jesus. What justification can Christians offer, in contrast to Hindus, Jews, and Muslims, for thinking that the Christian God is real?

The answer of the New Testament is: the resurrection of Jesus. “God will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17.31). The resurrection is God’s vindication of Jesus’ radical personal claims to divine authority.

Resurrection of Jesus -- 16 - Luke 24 v02-03

So how do we know that Jesus is risen from the dead? The Easter hymnwriter says, “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!” This answer is perfectly appropriate on an individual level. But when Christians engage unbelievers in the public square—such as in “Letters to the Editor” of a local newspaper, on call-in programs on talk-radio, at PTA meetings, or even just in conversation with co-workers—, then it’s crucial that we be able to present objective evidence in support of our beliefs. Otherwise our claims hold no more water than the assertions of anyone else claiming to have a private experience of God.

Fortunately, Christianity, as a religion rooted in history, makes claims that can in important measure be investigated historically. Suppose, then, that we approach the New Testament writings, not as inspired Scripture, but merely as a collection of Greek documents coming down to us out of the first century, without any assumption as to their reliability other than the way we normally regard other sources of ancient history. We may be surprised to learn that the majority of New Testament critics investigating the gospels in this way accept the central facts undergirding the resurrection of Jesus. I want to emphasize that I am not talking about evangelical or conservative scholars only, but about the broad spectrum of New Testament critics who teach at secular universities and non-evangelical seminaries. Amazing as it may seem, most of them have come to regard as historical the basic facts which support the resurrection of Jesus. These facts are as follows:

FACT #1: After his crucifixion, Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. 

This fact is highly significant because it means, contrary to radical critics like John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar, that the location of Jesus’ burial site was known to Jew and Christian alike. In that case, the disciples could never have proclaimed his resurrection in Jerusalem if the tomb had not been empty. New Testament researchers have established this first fact on the basis of evidence such as the following:

1.  Jesus’ burial is attested in the very old tradition quoted by Paul in I Cor. 15.3-5:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: . . . that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.”

Paul not only uses the typical rabbinical terms “received” and “delivered” with regard to the information he is passing on to the Corinthians, but vv. 3-5 are a highly stylized four-line formula filled with non-Pauline characteristics. This has convinced all scholars that Paul is, as he says, quoting from an old tradition which he himself received after becoming a Christian. This tradition probably goes back at least to Paul’s fact-finding visit to Jerusalem around AD 36, when he spent two weeks with Cephas and James (Gal. 1.18). It thus dates to within five years after Jesus’ death. So short a time span and such personal contact make it idle to talk of legend in this case.

Placement of Jesus in the tomb -- 07

  1. The burial story is part of very old source material used by Mark in writing his gospel. The gospels tend to consist of brief snapshots of Jesus’ life which are loosely connected and not always chronologically arranged. But when we come to the passion story we do have one, smooth, continuously-running narrative. This suggests that the passion story was one of Mark’s sources of information in writing his gospel. Now most scholars think Mark is already the earliest gospel, and Mark’s source for Jesus’ passion is, of course, even older. Comparison of the narratives of the four gospels shows that their accounts do not diverge from one another until after the burial. This implies that the burial account was part of the passion story. Again, its great age militates against its being legendary.
  1. As a member of the Jewish court that condemned Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea is unlikely to be a Christian invention. There was strong resentment against the Jewish leadership for their role in the condemnation of Jesus (I Thess. 2.15). It is therefore highly improbable that Christians would invent a member of the court that condemned Jesus who honors Jesus by giving him a proper burial instead of allowing him to be dispatched as a common criminal.
  2. No other competing burial story exists. If the burial by Joseph were fictitious, then we would expect to find either some historical trace of what actually happened to Jesus’ corpse or at least some competing legends. But all our sources are unanimous on Jesus’ honorable interment by Joseph.

For these and other reasons, the majority of New Testament critics concur that Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. According to the late John A. T. Robinson of Cambridge University, the burial of Jesus in the tomb is “one of the earliest and best-attested facts about Jesus.”1

FACT #2: On the Sunday following the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.

Resurrection of Jesus -- 12

Among the reasons which have led most scholars to this conclusion are the following:

  1. The empty tomb story is also part of the old passion source used by Mark. The passion source used by Mark did not end in death and defeat, but with the empty tomb story, which is grammatically of one piece with the burial story.
  2. The old tradition cited by Paul in I Cor. 15.3-5implies the fact of the empty tomb. For any first century Jew, to say that of a dead man “that he was buried and that he was raised” is to imply that a vacant grave was left behind. Moreover, the expression “on the third day” probably derives from the women’s visit to the tomb on the third day, in Jewish reckoning, after the crucifixion. The four-line tradition cited by Paul summarizes both the gospel accounts and the early apostolic preaching (Acts 13. 28-31); significantly, the third line of the tradition corresponds to the empty tomb story.
  3. The story is simple and lacks signs of legendary embellishment. All one has to do to appreciate this point is to compare Mark’s account with the wild legendary stories found in the second-century apocryphal gospels, in which Jesus is seen coming out of the tomb with his head reaching up above the clouds and followed by a talking cross!
  4. The fact that women’s testimony was discounted in first century Palestine stands in favor of the women’s role in discovering the empty tomb. According to Josephus, the testimony of women was regarded as so worthless that it could not even be admitted into a Jewish court of law. Any later legendary story would certainly have made male disciples discover the empty tomb.
  5. The earliest Jewish allegation that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body (Matt. 28.15) shows that the body was in fact missing from the tomb. The earliest Jewish response to the disciples’ proclamation, “He is risen from the dead!” was not to point to his occupied tomb and to laugh them off as fanatics, but to claim that they had taken away Jesus’ body. Thus, we have evidence of the empty tomb from the very opponents of the early Christians.

One could go on, but I think that enough has been said to indicate why, in the words of Jacob Kremer, an Austrian specialist in the resurrection, “By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb.”2

FACT #3: On multiple occasions and under various circumstances, different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.

This is a fact which is almost universally acknowledged among New Testament scholars, for the following reasons:

  1. The list of eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection appearances which is quoted by Paul in I Cor. 15. 5-7guarantees that such appearances occurred. These included appearances to Peter (Cephas), the Twelve, the 500 brethren, and James.
  2. The appearance traditions in the gospels provide multiple, independent attestation of these appearances. This is one of the most important marks of historicity. The appearance to Peter is independently attested by Luke, and the appearance to the Twelve by Luke and John. We also have independent witness to Galilean appearances in Mark, Matthew, and John, as well as to the women in Matthew and John.
  3. Certain appearances have earmarks of historicity. For example, we have good evidence from the gospels that neither James nor any of Jesus’ younger brothers believed in him during his lifetime. There is no reason to think that the early church would generate fictitious stories concerning the unbelief of Jesus’ family had they been faithful followers all along. But it is indisputable that James and his brothers did become active Christian believers following Jesus’ death. James was considered an apostle and eventually rose to the position of leadership of the Jerusalem church. According to the first century Jewish historian Josephus, James was martyred for his faith in Christ in the late AD 60s. Now most of us have brothers. What would it take to convince you that your brother is the Lord, such that you would be ready to die for that belief? Can there be any doubt that this remarkable transformation in Jesus’ younger brother took place because, in Paul’s words, “then he appeared to James”?

Even Gert L¸demann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, himself admits, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”3

FACT #4: The original disciples believed that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.

Think of the situation the disciples faced after Jesus’ crucifixion:

  1. Their leader was dead. And Jews had no belief in a dying, much less rising, Messiah. The Messiah was supposed to throw off Israel’s enemies (= Rome) and re-establish a Davidic reign—not suffer the ignominious death of criminal.
  2. According to Jewish law, Jesus’ execution as a criminal showed him out to be a heretic, a man literally under the curse of God (Deut. 21.23). The catastrophe of the crucifixion for the disciples was not simply that their Master was gone, but that the crucifixion showed, in effect, that the Pharisees had been right all along, that for three years they had been following a heretic, a man accursed by God!
  3. Jewish beliefs about the afterlife precluded anyone’s rising from the dead to glory and immortality before the general resurrection at the end of the world. All the disciples could do was to preserve their Master’s tomb as a shrine where his bones could reside until that day when all of Israel’s righteous dead would be raised by God to glory.

Despite all this, the original disciples believed in and were willing to go to their deaths for the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. Luke Johnson, a New Testament scholar from Emory University, muses, “some sort of powerful, transformative experience is required to generate the sort of movement earliest Christianity was . . . .”4 N. T. Wright, an eminent British scholar, concludes, “that is why, as a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.”5

Summary

In summary, there are four facts agreed upon by the majority of scholars who have written on these subjects which any adequate historical hypothesis must account for: Jesus’ entombment by Joseph of Arimathea, the discovery of his empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection.

Now the question is: what is the best explanation of these four facts? Most sholars probably remain agnostic about this question. But the Christian can maintain that the hypothesis that best explains these facts is “God raised Jesus from the dead.”

In his book Justifying Historical Descriptions, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts.6 The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:

  1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.
  1. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.
  1. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.
  1. It is not ad hocorcontrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.
  1. It isin accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts thatbelief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.
  1. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5).Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as the resurrection hypothesis.

Now this puts the sceptical critic in a rather desperate situation. A few years ago I participated in a debate on the resurrection of Jesus with a professor at the University of California, Irvine. He had written his doctoral dissertation on the resurrection, and he was thoroughly familiar with the evidence. He could not deny the facts of Jesus’ honorable burial, empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in the resurrection. So his only recourse was to come up with some alternate explanation of those facts. And so he argued that Jesus of Nazareth had an unknown, identical twin brother, who was separated from him as an infant and grew up independently, but who came back to Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion, stole Jesus’ body out of the tomb, and presented himself to the disciples, who mistakenly inferred that Jesus was risen from the dead! Now I won’t bother to go into how I went about refuting this theory. But I think the example is illustrative of the desperate lengths to which scepticism must go in order to refute the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, the evidence is so powerful that one of the world’s leading Jewish theologians, the late Pinchas Lapide, who taught at Hebrew University in Israel, declared himself convinced on the basis of the evidence that the God of Israel raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead!7

The significance of the resurrection of Jesus lies in the fact that it is not just any old Joe Blow who has been raised from the dead, but Jesus of Nazareth, whose crucifixion was instigated by the Jewish leadership because of his blasphemous claims to divine authority. If this man has been raised from the dead, then the God whom he allegedly blasphemed has clearly vindicated his claims. Thus, in an age of religious relativism and pluralism, the resurrection of Jesus constitutes a solid rock on which Christians can take their stand for God’s decisive self-revelation in Jesus.

 Notes

1 John A. T. Robinson, The Human Face of God (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1973), p. 131.

2 Jacob Kremer, Die Osterevangelien—Geschichten um Geschichte (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977), pp. 49-50.

3 Gerd L¸demann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 80.

4 Luke Timothy Johnson, The Real Jesus (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996), p. 136.

5 N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today (September 13, 1993), p. 26.

6 C. Behan McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), p. 19.

7 Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus, trans. Wilhelm C. Linss (London: SPCK, 1983).

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-resurrection-of-jesus#ixzz3Vv63kuXw  [as of March 30, 2015]

 ***********************************************

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University. His web site is titled, “Reasonable Faith,” and the address is at the end of the above article.

At the age of sixteen as a junior in high school, he first heard the message of the Christian gospel and yielded his life to Christ. Dr. Craig pursued his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (B.A. 1971) and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A. 1974; M.A. 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984). From 1980-86 he taught Philosophy of Religion at Trinity, during which time he and Jan started their family. In 1987 they moved to Brussels, Belgium, where Dr. Craig pursued research at the University of Louvain until assuming his position at Talbot in 1994.

He has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological ArgumentAssessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of JesusDivine Foreknowledge and Human FreedomTheism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of PhilosophyNew Testament StudiesJournal for the Study of the New TestamentAmerican Philosophical QuarterlyPhilosophical StudiesPhilosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.
END.

Issue 297 – The Day Jesus Died

Issue 297    —    The Paregien Journal    —    March 25, 2015

The Day Jesus Died

by Stan Paregien Sr.

1968-001 Cover of The Day Jesus Died

Franklin D. Roosevelt denounced the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, calling that moment in his­tory “a day of infamy.” I was much too young to recall the wave of terror and outrage which swept our nation when the news of the attack shattered an otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon, but the films and historical accounts of the slaughter have sent chills down my spine.

However, as tragic as was December 7, 1941, it cannot begin to compare with the day that my Savior died.

 That Awful Day

 The day began calmly and quietly; there was no indica­tion that this day would be much different from any other. Jesus and his disciples were gathered in a small second- story room where they had gone to observe the Passover Feast. The observance of this Jewish holy day was nearly finished. The disciples were somewhat perplexed over the manner in which Jesus presided at the memorial, for he indicated to them that certain portions of the Passover Feast would take on greater meaning in the near future. But their theorizing was temporarily discontinued as they joined together in the singing of a hymn or psalm, a custom which marked the end of the Paschal Supper.

One by one they made their way downstairs to the nar­row street. The fine meal and the lateness of the hour had combined to make them drowsy, but the chill of the Pales­tinian night air quickly revived them. The streets were streaked with rays of light which es­caped from the doorways, but few people stirred. Only an occasional bark of a dog some distance away challenged the stillness. Slowly the dedicated group made its way along the winding streets, through the great Wall, and down the sharp slope of the hill.

At the bottom of the hill the group paused and then walked across the tiny brook named Kedron. “There a symbolic thing must have happened. All the Passover lambs were killed in the Temple, and the blood of the lambs was poured on the altar as an offer­ing to God. The number of lambs which were slain for the Passover was immense. . . . We may imagine what the Temple courts were like when the blood of all these lambs was dashed down on to the altar. From the altar there was a channel down to the brook Kedron, and through that channel the blood of the Passover lambs drained away. When Jesus crossed the brook Kedron it would still be red with the blood of the lambs which had been sacrificed. And surely as he did so, the thought of Jesus’ own sacrifice would be vivid in his mind (William Barclay, The Gospel of John, II, 259).

In a few moments the party reached its destination: the Garden of Gethsemane, a peaceful spot where Jesus had often come before.

Sensing that their journey had ended, the disciples be­gan seating themselves, some even reclining. But the Mas­ter had other plans for his closest disciples, Peter, James and John. It was this trio which had stood by Jesus when he preached in Capernaum (Mark 1:21-29), when he raised the ruler’s daughter (Mark 5), and when he was transfig­ured (Gospel of Mark 9:2-8). He needed them again, perhaps as he never had before.

Calling them aside, Jesus said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” One account continues the story this way: “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again for the second time, he went away and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy” (Gospel of Matthew 26:39-43).

Not even the chill of the morning breeze could ward off the drowsiness which now overwhelmed the men. But no matter, the Master’s duty was clear; his mind was made up. Resolutely, he awaited the inevitable intrusion of the tranquil scene before him.

He didn’t have long to wait. Earlier in the evening Judas left the upper room to solidify his compact with the authorities, and to personally lead them to their prey. For “Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, procuring a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to befall him, came forward and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When he said to them, I am he, they drew back and fell on the ground. Again he asked them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he; so, if you seek me, let these men go.’ This was to fulfill the word which he had spoken, ‘Of those whom You gave me I lost not one.’ Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?’ So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and bound him” (John 18: 2-12).

“The final absurdity in the arrest of Jesus was the binding of our Lord with ropes they had brought along. A monument to the stupidity of mob action is this ridiculous act. Nothing could have been more obvious than that Jesus had no intention of attempt­ing escape. He did not walk to the cross because ropes bound his hands and feet. He went there be­cause “God so loved the world.” He went because the work of the devil had to be undone. He went because he wept for the sins which separated man from God. The ropes could not have held him any more than a stone at the mouth of a tomb, or grave clothes … or death itself” (Roy F. Osborne, Great Preachers of To­day: Sermons of Roy F. Osborne. J. D. Thomas, ed., p. 79).

The tempo increases now, like a wide and quiet river which downstream becomes a cascading, rushing torrent as it enters a narrow canyon.

The Trial before Annas,

The Jewish Leader

The scenes flash across the screen with breathtaking speed.

There is the inquisition at the hands of Annas. From a legal standpoint, there was no reason for the soldiers to bring Jesus before this man. But the niceties of judicial procedure were to be of only minor interest in this diaboli­cal plot. Annas was almost ecstatic over the capture of this young rebel who had made such a nuisance of himself. Having been the chief beneficiary from the sale of animals in the temple, Annas had wanted to get his hands on Jesus ever since he had driven the animal sellers and money changers from the temple. Even though Annas had not held the official office of high priest since A.D. 15, he was nevertheless the real power behind his puppet-high priest (and son-in-law), Caiaphas.

The interrogation was brief and to the point. Jesus was questioned “about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together; I have said nothing secretly. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me, what I said to them; they know what I said.’ When he had said this, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?’ Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest” (Gospel of John 18:19-24).

At this juncture, we must retrace our steps and bring the lives of two other men into focus: Judas and Peter.

Judas

The name Judas is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Judah, a name which obviously was associated with great persons, events and places in the history of the Jews. But a scant few years after Judas Iscariot’s actions in the Gar­den of Gethsemane, parents no longer named their sons “Judas.” The name became a synonym for a person with no ethics; it still brings to mind the idea of dishonesty and treachery.

Exactly what his reason was for betraying Christ is not clear. Perhaps he was sulking under the stinging rebuke which Jesus administered at the supper in the house of Simon the leper (Gospel of Matthew 26:6-16). Perhaps he simply in­tended to force Jesus into a position of militancy toward the Romans and the Jewish establishment, a desire shared by the rest of the disciples. Perhaps he had simply fallen victim to the love of money, for John reveals many years later that Judas had decided quite early that his job as treasurer of the disciples entitled him to a few extra fringe benefits (John 12:6). Whatever the reason or rea­sons, Judas deliberately and methodically carried out his plan.

The irony of his sordid act was that instead of bringing any degree of satisfaction, it brought shame, guilt and bitterness. “When Judas . . . saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. They said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself. And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself” (Gospel of Matthew 27:3-5).

Peter

 Then there was Peter. If ever a man lived who had to be where the action was, it was this fisherman from Galilee. Other than his persistent and peculiar knack of placing his feet squarely in his mouth, there was nothing about him to suggest that he would ever get far away from being an average disciple. But he was destined to soar to great spiritual heights, as well as to plummet to the bottom of the barrel.

Peter’s problems were many, but one of his greatest was his unwarranted confidence in himself. Fishermen, like farmers, are hardy, tough-minded, independent individuals. Therefore, one of the difficult adjustments which Peter faced was in learning that there is a spot in the continuum of life where enlightened self-confidence becomes arrogant self-assertiveness.

There in the upper room Jesus warned the eleven that they would all fall away from him that very night. In his characteristically impulsive manner, “Peter declared to him, ‘Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you'” (Gospel of Matthew 26:33-35). Peter’s affirmation reflects not a spirit of bravado, but a kind of leap-before-you-look impetuousness.

Two trials took place when Jesus was brought to the high priest, Caiaphas. One involved Jesus, the other Peter. Per­plexed by his Master’s refusal to be defended by the sword, Peter found himself following the crowd of soldiers from a safe distance. Periodically he caught a glimpse of Jesus in the sea of unfamiliar and unfriendly faces. He watched from the shadows as the guards led Jesus into the house of Caiaphas.

Not knowing what to do or where to go, and perhaps hoping against hope that Jesus would be released, Peter de­cided to wait below in the courtyard. Some of the guards had built a coal fire, so Peter sat down beside them. He stared motionlessly into the dancing flames.

And then it happened. His face, illumined by the light from the fire, drew the attention of one of the high priest’s maids. “She looked at him, and said, ‘You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I neither know nor under­stand what you mean.’ And he went out into the gateway. And the maid saw him, and began again to say to the by­standers, ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. And after a little while again the bystanders said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Gali­lean.’ But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak.’ And immediately the cock crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept” (Gospel of Mark 14:67-72).

Inside the house the Jewish leaders were carrying out their plot with meticulous precision. “The chief priests and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, and their witness did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, ‘We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.”‘ Yet not even so did their testimony agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, ‘Have you no answer to make? What is it that these “men testify against you?’ But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ And the high priest tore his mantle, and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?’ And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards received him with blows” (Gospel of Mark 14:55-65).

The Trial before Pilate,

The Roman Governor

“And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held at con­sultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate” (Gospel of Mark 15:1).

Interestingly, John tells us that these men who conspired to destroy a good man were still so “pious” that they would not enter Pilate’s palace for fear that they would be cere­monially defiled (Gospel of John 18:28). They avoided “incurring a defilement which, lasting till the evening, would not only have involved them in the inconvenience of Levitical defile­ment on the first festive day, but have actually prevented their offering on that day the Passover, festive sacrifice, or Chagigah” (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, II, 568).

Pilate understood their cus­tom, so he stepped outside to find out what all the shouting was about. Pilate’s patience with the Jews was understandable. He had been sent to Judea just a few years earlier to bring peace to this troublesome Roman territory, but he had failed miserably. The arrogant policies which he first adopted had in fact caused several riots. The emperor ex­pected his orders to be obeyed. So Pilate recently had be­gun shifting his tactics with the Jews from a show-of-power to a policy of appeasement, hoping they would co­operate with him.

He listened to their charges and said, “Take him your­selves and judge him by your own law.” But he knew, and they quickly reminded him, that under Roman law they were unable to carry out capital punishment. The death decree had to come from the Roman governor.

The Trial before Herod,

Governor of Galilee

Pilate tried to get off the hook again. Upon hearing that Jesus was from Galilee he decided to send the fellow over to Herod. “Let him handle this hot potato,” Pilate reasoned. “When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length; but he made no an­swer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehe­mently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then, arraying him in glorious apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other” (Gospel of Luke 23:8-12).

Back to Pilate

Then Pilate had a brainstorm. “Why I almost forgot what day this is—I’ve got a way out of this mess after all,” he thought with a sigh of relief. He began to implement his plan: “He went out to the Jews again, and told them, ‘I find no crime in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?’ They cried out again, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber” (Gospel of John 18:38-40).

Pilate’s bag of tricks was almost empty but he didn’t give up easily. He thought awhile and decided that the fickle Jewish leaders would probably be satisfied with see­ing the man from Nazareth beaten within an inch of his life. After all, everyone knew how vicious Roman punishment was. No man was ever the same after a Roman soldier had cut his back to pieces with a whip which had sharpened bits of metal and bone embedded in the leather strands. “No reason to kill him if we can help it,” he mur­mured to himself.

“Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again, and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime in him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and by the law he ought to die, because he has made him­self the Son of God.’ When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid; he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin’ ” (Gospel of John 19:1-11).

The hardened Roman governor was visibly shaken by his conversation with Jesus. “What kind of a nightmare is this? Can this be for real? Why won’t he defend him­self? Is he … is he just a man?” Pilate wondered and worried. Once again “Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend; everyone who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar.’ When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar” (Gospel of John 19:12-15).

Pilate could hardly believe his ears. Ever since the Ro­man occupation of Judea, they had demanded—to no avail —that the Jews acknowledge Caesar as their king. But since the Romans considered their emperor to be a god, the Jews refused to acknowledge him as their king on the grounds that they would be committing idolatry. “How strong their burning hatred of Jesus must be to drive them to such inconsistency,” the governor reasoned.

Still seeking an escape from any blame for this act, and realizing that the Jews were adamant in their unholy desire, Pilate “took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it your­selves’ ” (Matt. 27:24). And he sent Jesus to be executed. But the guilt for this crime could not be dismissed so light­ly. It may have been a guilt-ridden conscience which many years later caused Pilate to commit suicide.

The Place Called Golgotha

 Jesus was silent as the death march began. His bleeding back was so painful that every step brought a groan to his throat. And it was on this crimson-stained back that a rough, heavy cross was placed. The pathetic procession made its way through the narrow, winding streets. The multitudes filled the side streets and the doorways. Some of the bystanders jeered and laughed at this young rebel. Others, both men and women, wept freely. Most of the crowd watched quietly and curiously.

Time and time again Jesus stumbled and fell. It became evident to the soldiers that they would never make it to the place of execution at this rate. A Roman soldier turned toward the crowd and surveyed it. “You! Come here!” he bellowed. And a large, dark man named Simon, from the city of Cyrene in northern Africa, stepped forward. This religious pilgrim was forced to carry the cross to its desti­nation, a small hill outside Jerusalem named Golgotha.

“Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him and the criminals, one of the right and one of the left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed ‘at him saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and say­ing, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise'” (Gospel of Luke 23:32-43).

As the spikes were driven through Christ’s hands and his feet, Mary felt them pierce her heart. She watched the proceedings from the foot of the cross and through the eyes of a mother. Her son, whom she knew to be right­eous, was falsely accused and convicted. Now this man, her own flesh and blood, was was dying in muted agony.

“When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved stand­ing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Gospel of John 19:26, 27).

The end was near.

Mark tells us that when noontime came, there was darkness over the entire land until 3:00 p.m. And then “Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ And some of the bystanders hear­ing it said, ‘Behold, he is calling Elijah.’ And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and. gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly, this man was the Son of God!'” (Gospel of Mark 15: 34-39).

If this had been the death of a simple Galilean crackpot, a rebel against the religious establishment or a would-be politician on the make, his death would hold little meaning to us today. If his suffering had been inflicted because he rightfully deserved punishment, we would feel no pangs of sympathy. But that’s just the point. His death was dif­ferent. He gave his life—willingly and freely—for others. His crucifixion was an expression of God’s love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Gospel of John 3:16).

The body of a certain Civil War soldier lies in a cemetery in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The soldier’s tombstone tells the date of his birth and death, plus these three words: “Abraham Lincoln’s substitute.” During the darkest days of the war, when thousands were dying on the battlefield, President Lincoln decided to honor one particular soldier as his substitute, thereby making him a symbol of the fact that those who died in battle were dying that others might live.

In a similar way, when I think of the suffering Savior dying, I realize that I could write across the beam of that old, rugged cross these words: “My substitute.”

And so could you.

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NOTE:  This post, “The Day Jesus Died,” is Chapter 6 in my e-Book by the same name. You may purchase the entire e-Book in one of seven formats (including PDF, Kindle and Apple) at: 

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StanParegien .

Also, I invite you to visit my other blog sites:

STAN’S PARADISE REPORT

http:www.stansparadisereport.wordpress.com

THE COWBOY WAY:  THEN AND NOW

http:www.cowboystan.wordpress.com

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