Gents: Feliz Navidad
I was thinking of what I might give each of our Bible Study “gents” for Christmas but realized that I was probably too late. Besides, I don’t like to shop, even on-line, Black Friday is now Old Friday, and none of the men, like me, “need anything.”
Nevertheless, the thought plagued me: What would I give these gentlemen, if I could?
I was reminded that when we lived in a remote village in Papua New Guinea many years ago, Joice would play a game with our daughter Karol, whom she home-schooled. We had an old Montgomery Ward catalogue that all of us liked to look through. Sometimes Joice would give it to Karol, saying “Imagine that I gave you $50 to spend and you can buy whatever you like from the catalogue.” Karol would spend hours, looking at toys, games, clothes and record the prices of those she liked until she came up with her $50 quota. It was fun to see what she wanted—but, of course, didn’t get it. Years later, upon reflection, and in tune with current thinking, we realized that we must have damaged her psychologically in some way. However, she doesn’t think so and has vowed not to report us to Homeland Security, the FBI, or the DaySpring church council. This is somewhat comforting because I am currently on the church council.
I decided to play the catalogue game for some of our gents, or Bible Study men. I wanted to be somewhat spiritual, so I opened my Christian Book catalogue, where its banner claims “Everything Christian for less!” Being a retired missionary, I am always looking for a bargain.
The first thing that caught my eye was the “ESV Illuminated Scripture Journals, 19 Volumes, New Testament” marked down from $99.99 to $54.99, a savings of $45. This seemed the ideal gift for Don (I won’t say which Don) because each page of text had a corresponding blank page opposite so that Don could “engage with and reflect on God’s Word.” Some careful examination, however, told me that this would not do: the type point was 11.75, much too small for the aging eyes of either Don. It did have hand-lettered (rather than by foot or elbow) illustrations and a slip-cased softcover but I would have to find something a little easier on the eyes (and mind).
I wondered who of the men might like “Jesus Calling for Christmas,” which includes (hallelujah!) a “joy filled pack” that is overflowing with gifts for the merry and Christ-centered holiday. There is even “12 festive cards with Scripture from 2 Corinthians 4:6 (I didn’t have time to look it up), a CD with selections from Handel’s Messiah,” as well as a cherry red tote with words engraved on it from John 3.16. A long-term Babptis would like that, I thought, so I put Bill’s name beside the catalogue picture. Bill (and Joe) might also appreciate the NKJV American Patriot’s Bible, but it might be more appropriate to imagine giving it to them on Veteran’s day.
This was fun: imaginary buying. I usually sit next to Bob and we share information on books and Bibles. I had introduced him to the One Hour Bible and he had told me about the One Minute Bible. When I get a minute, I am going to have a look at it. Bob, I thought, would like a study Bible. That choice slowed me down considerably: there were so many versions. Would he like The ESV Reformation Study Bible, 2017, Condensed edition or The NKJV Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, Second Edition? The Reformation Bible was in a “more concise form,” portable and “a perfect solution for the on-the-go believer.” Not many of our Bible Study men can be classified as “on-the-go,” so maybe the Stanley Bible was a better idea. It has 30 life principles, 2,500 life lessons, 43,000 cross references, and an unspecified number of “What the Bible Says” articles and “Answers to Life’s Questions.” I’m going to have to think about his imaginary gift Bible more.
The process has taken more time than I imagined and it wouldn’t be prudent to mention all the men’s names and the choices I came up with. There are so many study Bibles: The KJV Ryrie, The NASB Ryrie, the NKJF Full-Color, the NKJV Jeremiah (not the original prophet, but a later TV one), The NIV Jeremiah, the ESV Jeremiah, the ESV MacArthur, the NASB MacArthur, the NLT Swindoll, the NKJV Wiersbe, and so on (and on).
Well, as someone said, “You can’t have everything—where would you put it?” There was one last person that I had to find a Bible for: our teacher Eric, and fortunately I found just the page of selections for him. There it was, or rather there they were: the NASB Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, The ESV Hebrew-Greek Stud Bible, The KJV Hebrew-Greek Word Study Bible, Sixth Edition and the “new” New English Translation Bible, Full-Notes edition. I dreamed that I would buy all of them for our teacher.
I can’t go on, but I will mention The ESV Large Print Bible for Jim when he can no longer read the screen on his i-phone. (There is also a “super giant print” edition available.)
I couldn’t quit without doing some imaginary shopping for myself. However, I don’t need a Bible, whether for the study of Greek, Hebrew, or Spanish. Also, I don’t need (yet) the super giant-print, wide-margin, or the NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. I need something more practical, like The Art of Neighboring or The Search for Significance. Then I found what I thought would be just right: Putting an X Through Anxiety and it was only $1.49. My time had not been wasted. It was a good Christmas day of shopping after all.
A Football Innerview
The football season has happened upon us and in my views I chanced upon an interview between the well-known sports commentator Sippy Boltcutter, who once played for the Kentucky Frymakers, and Spud (Big Hoss) Spinebreaker, newly recruited left tackle for the Baylor Bears.
Sippy caught up with Spud outside the Big Bottle Brewery in Waco, Texas where this interview took place for WXAKY, Friday the 13th of December, prior to Spud’s leaving to play in the Substitute Splenda bowl game in Dallas the very next day. Some of the commentary has been edited to make sense.
Sippy: Spud, if I may call you that, can you tell us when you first began to play football?
Spud: Mama tells me it was in 2nd grade at the Pushback Primary school near Dallas, but I don’ think so. Daddy gave me a football when I was three years old and said he made my first tackle.
Sippy: I understand that you went to Dunkerville H.S. and played. Was that hard?
Spud: No man, I mean, we were like brothers there and loved each other. We had each other’s backs all the time. I mean we were like right there when we needed.
Sippy: According to my records you graduated from Dunkerville in 2015 after being selected to the All State Head Targeting Team, a recent innovative squad, supported by Jerry Jones.
Spud: Yeah, I mean we the ones, man. Everybody got out of our way. We be big and mean.
Sippy: I understand you got a lot of offers for college scholarships.
Spud: Yea, M&A wanted me bad and UCAL, UTB, ATM and TCY sent their big boys to find me.
Sippy: What made you decide on ATM? What did they offer you that the other schools didn’t?
Spud: Mama told me not to go to any school that offered me a car, house or refrigerator. Baylor didn’t have a car at the time and said that there were rules or something that they had to follow. My daddy was strong on rules, so I took ATM.
Sippy: You mean Baylor didn’t offer you anything?
Spud: Well, they said I didn’t need to take any hard classes—like English or History—and that I could stay in a place off the college campus. They said they’d give me teachers to help me write papers. That sounded good to me, but daddy liked ATM better.
Sippy: So you went to ATM for a while but then what happened?
Spud: One year there and I blew out my knee at a weekend party. The doc needed to cut me and then a lot of rehab.
Sippy: And after that why did you transfer to Baylor?
Spud: I had two buddies—Hubcap Jones and Facemask Wilsox there and they told me to come.
Sippy: what has been the hardest part for you at Baylor?
Spud: I’ve had a lot of trouble learnin’ the bear claw—my fingers and hands are big and just don’t let me do it good. Some of the cheerleaders laughed at me and I may file a complaint.
Sippy: What are you intending to major in?
Spud: Some of my buddies recommend psychology, but I ain’t taking nothin.
Sippy: No cars, houses, refrigerators?
Spud: Nothin—I mean to gradjeate and I ain’t going to jail.
Sippy: Didn’t one of your buddies get arrested for DIU and an accident?
Spud: That was Fenderbender Jones II, but he’s kinda dumb.
Sippy: And what would you like to do once you leave Baylor?
Spud: I wanna sell cars and motorcycles. I got a buddy, Slamdunk Pearson, who does that. He says he makes a lot of money and meets really nice people.
Sippy: Well Spud, we need to wrap it up—our audience can be grateful for the fine athletes that Baylor has been recruiting. The President is planning a party for them.
Spud: I hear she is a real cool Pres.
Sippy: Thanks Spud, and hats off to Baylor and you as a fine scholar athlete.
The end of
football season in Baylor
Sick em’ Bears
The Baylor Homecoming Parade was last Saturday, and it reminded me of some parades I have seen. One vivid one was when we were living in Canberra, Australia and watched the ANZAC parade, in which Australian and New Zealand military veterans marched, as best they could, in groups representing various wars and conflicts. The Aussies didn’t care if the occasionally tipsy soldier got out of line.
Of course, it was nothing like Chairman Kim and his mighty men and missiles on parade, but it was impressive. The North Koreans march in what seems to be almost goose-stepping monotony—thousands upon thousands of them—past their beloved leader and dictator, who salutes them smartly. It was Hitler all over again.
In Texas, generally, the parades are small and patriotic—lots of American flags, the Shriner’s racing about on their scooters, fire trucks, local High School bands tooting and drumming, convertibles carrying notable and not so notable politicians, jeeps, a few floats and of course Texans riding their horses. The horses are always last in the parade and you can imagine why—who would want to march after the horses deposit their food remains down the street?
But I have a gripe about parades, and it came to light at the Baylor Parade. There were scores of people on floats and on the street as well, who were throwing candy to the children (and some big adults). The children were expecting candy—lots of it—they were holding sacks like it was Halloween only it was not “trick or treat.” It was “fill er up—throw some here.”
The problem I see is that lawsuits and parade candy may become mixed. Some of those kids are going to get awfully fat from eating so much candy and they will decide, as a result, that the Parade is responsible for their being a fat boy or a fat girl. They will blame Baylor for their obesity, and it will go to court and cost the college millions of dollars. They will be fat-shamed, and it will be Baylor’s fault.
There is no good reason to throw candy. Instead, why not have Kentucky Fried throw out wings and Chic-fil-a can toss the kids chicken nuggets; The Chinese restaurants can chuck rice balls and I Hop can spin their pancakes to help the kids have fun with frisbee-cakes, whirling them up and down the street and over and in the floats. Parade helpers, dressed like bears—the Baylor mascot—could give cups of Dr Pepper to the very young, preparing them in life for the Baylor beverage of choice.
Of course, I know that won’t happen. There are too many sororities and fraternities represented in the Parade, all performing deeds of kindness around the campus and city. I tried to keep track of each Greek alphabet letter signified in the Parade and found that Chi, Pi, and Psi were underreported and Zeta, Xsi and Omicron barely got a mention. This is surely something that the Baylor president and the Greek department should be made aware of. There was also an over-abundance of Parade queens, but no Parade kings. I have referred this discrepancy to the Future Baylor Nurses Association, The Baylor Dive Club and the Noble Nose Brotherhood.
Where they will take it remains a secret, but rumors are that the Virtual Reality Club and the Ronald McDonald House have also shown an interest.
I was somewhat shocked—as any good Baptist should be—by how many dance groups were in the Parade: the Golden Wave Band, with 300 members (or was it 3000?), the Baylor Dance Company, swing dancers, country dancers, and even the Phi Gama’s Honky Tonky Boot Stomping group.
I have mentioned the matter to the Dean of Social Services, the Baylor Pre-Vet Medical Association, The Salvation Army and Truett Seminary. In the future expect more waltzes, calypso and flamenco, perhaps even a fire dance, where the performer spins poi, consisting of wire wool in chicken wire cages first dipped in paraffin.
However, I must not close in a negative mode. The enthusiasm of the kids getting candy, the beauty of the convertibles with their shivering queens, the 300 sorority queens (or was it 3000?), and the cowboys and cowgirls with their horses—it made my eyes water and my heart pump wildly.
I awoke suddenly in this condition and realized I was now watching the Baylor football game—it had been a long sleep, dream and parade. I was bleeding green and gold.
In case I may have made up some of this, I’ll check with the Baylor Adult Day Care Center for help and see if they will loan me a service dog.
You have undoubtedly heard of “moon-lighting,” but have you heard of “moon watching”? I just received the “Astronomy and Astrology Almanac” (The Old Farmer’s Almanac) and there is information that help you if you want to moon watch
Every month of the year has a moon name associated with it—for example, August is the “Full Sturgeon Moon” and November is the “Full Beaver Moon.” However, I’ll write about the “Full Harvest Moon,” which takes place in September, the very month our Bible study begins.
This is technical, but should be known: the Harvest Moon “floats to the right of Jupiter on the 5th, left of Jupiter on the 6th, right of Saturn on the 7th and left of Saturn on the 8th.” However, the really “challenging” part of moon watching occurs on the 28th when you can see (if you are looking) a very thin crescent Moon low in the west after sunset. It forms a triangle with Mercury and Venus and helps Autumn to begin with an astronomical event on the 23rd.
I grew up on a farm and heard about the Harvest Moon because it reportedly provided the best light to complete the harvest. Some of the farmers called it the Full Corn Moon or the Barley Moon, but not where I lived because we never harvested barley and the corn was all shucked (only a farmer will know that word) by August.
Here are some trivial points about the September moon: the 17th and the 22nd are the best days to quit smoking; the 16th and 17th are favored for canning, pickling or making sauerkraut; the best days to color your hair or cut it to discourage growth are the 21st and 22nd—after you quit smoking. If you want to start a project, do it on the 2nd and try to finish it by the 29th. However, if things go poorly, the 6th through the 8th are the best dates for demolishing it.
If you want to purchase an animal in September—which includes dogs, but not cats—any day between the 26th and 30th will line you up correctly with the moon. There is no good day to purchase a cat. (As my neighbor’s bumper sticker said: “So many cats, so few recipes.”)
There are many more important September days listed in the Almanac: the best days to get married, travel for pleasure, ask for a loan, buy a home, move, destroy pests and weed, pick fruit, begin logging, and so on. It seems like there is a time for everything under the sun in September.
There is more—of course—in the Almanac. One that interested me was to examine the animal signs of the Chinese zodiac. These follow a 12-year cycle and are always used in the same sequence—something like the church calendar. Here I examine only those animals that concern us for September and the results were surprising (to me)—the animal that can help us most in September is the pig or boar. They are “gallant and noble” and will remain at our side as friends. They are compatible with the rabbit and sheep, but their opposite is the snake. In case you wondered, next year is the year of the rat and 2021 is the year of the ox or buffalo (last year was the year of the dog).
There is much more to learn about moons: for example, the idea of a “blue moon” originated in Native American folklore and only got into the media because of a mistake in an astronomy magazine. The wonderful thing about the blue moon is that it provides a second full moon as well. Each year has a season and typically there are three full moons in each, but if a season has four full moons the third one can be called a “blue Moon,” so it may also be a reasonable time to “feel blue.”
There is also a “Black Moon” and, as you may have guessed, it refers to a month when there is no full moon. Fortunately, for us, that is not in September.
What about the “Supermoon”? It is a moon that “is at the point in its orbit closest to the Earth.” A full-fledged astronomer will use the terms (I am not making this up) “perigee syzygy” or “perigee full Moon.” Supermoms may perform their work best on Supermoons.
One of the televangelists, best left unnamed, referred to a “Blood Moon” and wrote a book about the phenomenon, later made into a movie called “Four Blood Moons.” The Blood Moon is supposed to be a warning from God and occurs as a lunar eclipse in sync with Jewish Holidays that were significant warnings to the Jewish people. His book “will take you on a simple historical and prophetic journey that will enlighten you as to why we may be living in one of the most important years in history, 2014-2015.” There is now a second, updated, edition.
Moon events may comprise “lunar events,” the time when lunatics most characteristically make their appearance. The word lunatic is derived from the Latin word for moon, so it “makes sense” that the two should be related. However, it turns out that there is no correlation between strange behavior and full moons, although people in emergency rooms and maternity wards see it differently and characterize the full moon as “a harbinger of chaos.”
Remember the wild things that happened in your lives under a full moon, such as getting engaged? The moon is indeed an inspiration to lovers and poets. But, in closing, remember the quotation of Emmanuel G. Mesthene, who wrote “Technological change: its impact on man and society”:
“Ten years ago the Moon was an inspiration to poets and an opportunity for lovers. Ten years from now it will be just another airport.”