Category: Humor (page 2 of 24)

Donkeys and Elephants

Donkeys and Elephants: An Allegory

I had a vision today—not a dream because it was broad daylight—and it was all about animals. Two animals stood out amongst the spectacle: a donkey, with a greyish type of hide that often looked almost blue in the twilight. The elephant, who had skin that shone like the mid-morning sun, but turned to an almost blueish tint toward evening. In fact, in the evening and despite their size, it was sometimes difficult to tell them apart—until they started talking. For you see, in my vision all animals talked, and there were many of them. There seemed to be an animal Kingdom and their language, I learned, was called “Gibberish.”

The donkey had an enormous set of teeth, a kind of perpetual smile, and was waving an American flag with its tail. The elephant had mammoth ears and it too was waving an American flag, but with its trunk. Both were clearly patriotic. They were part of a vast animal Kingdom that was divided into 50 animal zones. Some of the zones were heavily populated, with great clusters of nests and caves. I could see that sometimes within a particular zone fish could be found in schools, but  they take no notice of donkeys or elephants. I also saw other animals out “marking” their territories.

As I was taking in more of the vision, a monkey climbed on my back and began to tell me things about the Kingdom: “There are at least three parts to our animal Kingdom: The first consists of the animals who make the laws, for we are law-abiding animals; the second are the animals who decide what the laws mean, for most are not transparent; and the third are the ones—and they are all birds—who oversee and manage all of us. There may be a fourth part to the Kingdom, but no one is sure.”

“Who are the animals who make the laws?” I asked, rather timidly. “It is fairly complicated,” answered the monkey. There are actually two sheds for such animals: the first is called the Assembly of Animals and the second simply the Collection of Animals. There are 100 who Assemble and 435 who Collect and there is a great divide between them. But that is not all: those who assemble and those who collect have animals who speak for them.”

“Let me guess,” I replied. “That big donkey I saw speaks for the one group and the elephant for the other group.” “Not exactly,” said the monkey. “Sometimes lesser animals—deer, bear, woodchucks, dogs, cats, even weasels or skunks will try to speak—often at once. Because of the confusion there is a large water buffalo who stands at a table between the two groups and, by pointing its horn to the left or right, it determines who can speak.”

I then noticed something else: hundreds, perhaps thousands of cockroaches, were running around among all the animals in the sheds. “What are those cockroaches doing?” I mumbled. “They are giving counsel to the animals,” replied the monkey. “For example, some animals would like to preserve the passenger pigeon, the American bison and the eastern timber wolf. Others say, ‘no, get rid of them all so we can picnic in peace.’ The cockroaches tell them what is wise and what is not wise. For example, some rabbits wanted to outlaw slingshots because so many are killed each year. But the cockroaches assured the rabbits not to worry because they multiply rapidly.  In another famous case, some animals complained that turtle’s eggs were abandoned or eaten and wanted laws against it. However, the wiser animals pointed out that is was up to the turtle to protect or destroy its eggs—no one should instruct a turtle when or where to lay an egg.” The monkey continued: “Cockroaches are necessary for the running of the animal Kingdom, and were it not for them there would be no laws passed.”

The later Kingdom branch, I found, was ruled by a giant Golden Eagle, one that had an enormous flock of feathers at the crown of its head, protruding slightly to the right, then continued to its tail. It was obviously in charge and surrounded by a number of vultures, as well as a harpy eagle and common buzzards.

I could see that there were 9 Supreme judges, full of wisdom. One of them could hardly hold its head up and was kept awake by side owls. The Supreme owls had their own perches and over the years decided issues for the Kingdom, primarily because of their binocular vision, binaural hearing and sharp talons.

The monkey then asked me if I had noticed the donkey and the elephant. I had, of course, but now I listened to them more closely. The donkey was explaining why additional animals should be let into the Kingdom, including additional spiders, scorpions, poisonous snakes and rabbits. The elephant was arguing that such vermin were the scourge of the Kingdom and should be killed. The Golden Eagle wanted a large rabbit fence built—from sea to shining sea—and intruders killed, either by execution in a large frying pan or by the sterile injection of battery acid.

As I listened, the elephant seemed more interested in health and the economy: “These days it is hard for the average weasel or rat to find a job or to pay for having a loose tooth repaired. Nevertheless, we must find ways to make them happy, perhaps by leaving scraps of food around the Kingdom sheds will help keep them at bay and quiet.”

The monkey admitted that there were problems in the Kingdom: It said that the deer and antelope were always at play and never working. They were becoming a nuisance and the animal Kingdom, but they needed help. The cockroaches suggested that the Kingdom needed laws to allow all beasts to sniff clover and munch on wild mushrooms. But in the end, the animal disease specialists thought it would be more “humane” to set up shelters so they could discuss their problems with the canary consultants.

My vision was beginning to fade—it was close to 8 in the evening and many of the animals were looking for holes in the ground, nests in the trees, or caves in the hills. Even the monkey had gotten off my back and was chomping on some peanuts a squirrel had given him.

“How thoughtful and considerate,” I thought. Although the monkey was an outsider to the animal Kingdom, an insider was helping it. However, the donkey and elephant were eyeing the monkey suspiciously.

“I know that all animals are smart,” said the donkey. “Yes,” said the elephant. “But some of us are smarter than others.” Both agreed that intelligence was not a measure of monkeys.

Post Election Day
November 7, 2018

My Blurred Dream

When I sometimes close my eyes (which one must) and dream (in June 2019), I see linguists at work in heaven [think Hebrews 12:1,2]:

  • Ken Pike is writing and reciting poetry
  • Darlene Bee is interpreting his poetry
  • Sarah Gudshinsky is teaching little angels to read
  • Bill Merrifield is charting the genealogy of a group of angels
  • Dick Pittman is acting out Bible stories
  • Velma Pickett and Ben Elson are sending grammatical insights to SIL earthlings
  • John Bendor-Samuel is finishing up his history of African linguistics
  • Des Derbyshire is lecturing fallen angels on ergativity
  • Frank Robbins is demonstrating Chinantec nasals to an angel that frequents Mexico
  • John Beekman and Millie Larson are on volume 10 of “Meaning Based Angeliconism”
  • Dave Thomas is singing loudly and without hesitation
  • Phil Staalsen is explaining to Gabriel the difference between pidgin and creole languages
  • Bob Longacre is lecturing in Hebrew to a group of seraphim
  • Clyde Whitby is making footstools for some elders; smaller ones for minor prophets
  • Howard McKaughan is playing volleyball with some tall angels
  • Vida Chenoweth is transcribing the music of fallen angels
  • Eunice Pike is checking the tone patterns on a couple of cherubim’s harps
  • Uncle Cam is ticking off translated languages in a gold plated Ethnologue
  • Jim Parlier is helping an angel repair its wing

And watching from the wings is Jesus, who is laughing and sighs, “Didn’t I tell them that heaven would take them to unexplored depths of love and creativity? They are really enjoying what they are doing. And even the residue will be fun to explore.”

Off in the distance on an immense meadow of cushioned grass 237 Jaars pilots are playing with their toy airplanes.

Nearby 453 IT specialists are busy trying to hack the devil’s main airway.

Waiting in line are Karl Franklin, Ken Gregerson, Brian Schrag, Tom Headland, Elinor Abbot, Katy Barnwell, Joe Grimes, Bernie May and a host of others. Jesus has some very enjoyable language related tasks for them as well.

Oh yes, far off in the distance and beyond a barely recognizable chasm are Dan Everitt, Ger Reesink and some of their friends. They can’t believe what they are seeing.

Relics and Things Like That


Come along with me to Heaven for an imaginary visit: it is now the “year” 2050 and I have been here quite a while and, although we don’t count “years” in the heavens, I use them as reference point for mere “earthlings.”

I have been watching—whenever I am off-duty from polishing harps and clanging cymbals—some of the churches down there in Waco. One, in particular, is of interest: The DaySpring Church, near Lake Waco. Yes, the lake is still there, although difficult to make out clearly from Heaven because of all the discarded HEB plastic bags, dead fish and rotting boats.

About the “year” 2035, an unusual phenomenon occurred at DaySpring: a small cigar-shaped box was place in the narthex, just underneath a large painting of an oak tree. Inside the box was the right and left big toe knuckles of two former pastors, with their names engraved on the box and part of Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the feet of those….” The names of the pastors were Saint Erickson and Saint Burlikson, although it is not our heavenly intention to draw attention or lend homage to any relics down there.

However, we must be truthful: upon entering the sanctuary, parishioners were allowed (some would say encouraged) to touch the box or bow slightly before it. It was not done by everyone—indeed, some people were inwardly exasperated that the box was in the narthex and not in the chapel, where other relics and trinkets were kept.

For in the chapel was one of St. Sid’s shoes, the right one, which he always used to tap out his offertory pieces on the piano. Also, hanging on the wall was the wand that one of the music directors had used to direct the choir. It was made of ivory and had been carved with great precision by the former owners of the “Silos.” I should also mention the cane and walker that had been used by an ancient and well-respected member of the congregation. These hung on the wall of the chapel, where once a cross had been. Just why this was done is not clear, even to us in Heaven, but it seems that the cane represented Leviticus 27:32, where every tenth animal passed under the shepherd’s rod and the walker symbolized the chariots that were submerged in the Red Sea.

To the right was a large glass enclosed diorama of various ancient, but sacred items: the ukulele once played by St Dale of Baroon, a hymn book opened to page 368 (or 563, the pages were faded and there were arguments about it every Sunday), a microphone, once spoken into by the head of the Baptist Convention, a King James Bible (autographed by President George Bush of Crawford, Texas), a pressed bluebonnet (planted by Lady Bird), a piece of sod from the original parking lot.

The people still drank coffee, especially on Sunday mornings, and a large wooden carved coffee mug, gifted originally by a St. Harvison, who once held the record for the most cups (mugs) of coffee consumed during a Sunday sermon.

Near the children’s Sunday school rooms—and there seemed to be dozens of them—was a collection of pencils that St. Joel had used in his sketches. Children were encouraged to draw with them and at least one such child had become a famous artist. The pencils were not magical, simply inspirational.

The pieces in the chapel were well-preserved and taken to the baptismal pool once a year for a ceremonial cleansing—a simple yet sacred act.

Within the sanctuary the “Seven Stations of the Cross” had been replaced by “The Seven Seasons of Texas,” with pictures of bluebonnets, football teams and pizza parlors.

I also noticed the “Bell Tower,” a modest edifice that of course had a bell in it, but also had inscribed the names of all the parishioners who had died. There were so many names that it was impossible to hear the bell ring, some names larger than others, but I was assured that it had nothing to do with the amount of their regular tithes or offerings.

Near the entrance to the Church on Renewal Road was a flashing neon sign that said, “No parking near the oak trees” and “Please give way to the handicapped.”

I was quite amazed at what I had seen and decided to question some of the former church members. I quickly found a wise person, a former Church Council member it turned out, and asked: Is DaySpring still a Baptist church? Why do they have relics and assorted religious stuff? Don’t they know what the Bible says about idols?

The wise person—a venerated Texan—spoke slowly and with a decided drawl. “We-all,” he said, “We Babdists had some larnin’ to do, so we invited some of those Katlicks for a meetin or two. They showed us that it ain’t rong to look at those things and remember other things.”

We don’t argue in Heaven and we certainly don’t discuss relics and things, (or one’s logic) so I let it go at that. But I will be keeping my eye on that part of Waco in the future. Lots of things start out like simple stories and become part of the local religious lore.

Even Baptists can leave the narrow Renewal Way.

Karl Franklin
April, 2019
Upon hearing a Bible study discussion

Genesis 201


It is getting near the end of the semester and, as “The Substitute,” I need to grade each of the members of our Men’s Bible Study. Normally Eric our teacher (and pastor of the church that most of us attend) would do it, but he is busy training for a marathon, running here and there, and doesn’t have the time for such a menial task. He hasn’t asked me for my assessment, but it doesn’t really matter because “someone has to do it.”

There are from 12 to 17 of us (the “mean” average is about 14), all getting on in years, except for Eric and Bill, who keeps fit playing golf as often as he can afford it.

Last fall I did a short study called “Genesis 101” in which I described where we meet (Ken and Eve Ann’s house). However only men are allowed to attend the study—according to certain Old Testament laws, women have to look after domesticated animals. Hopefully, Ken will remember what we talked about and tell his wife (and the dog).

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Love at First Sight?

Love at First Sight?

I haven’t written this story before, although I have told it many times. It happened at Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea, and although difficult to clearly imagine, it is a true and worthy tale to record.

I know it happened because I was director of our Branch at the time and responsible for the welfare of our members, employees and friends. The participants in this story came under my care, unfortunately.

It was early on a Sunday morning when AT (abbreviated, of course) called me. “Kalo,” he said, “ni ona menda meawa. Saa rumaalipa kone salo,” which translated from his vernacular language (which I knew and spoke) means something like “I have found a woman. We are going to be married, I think.” AT had spoken to me in his native language and I heard and understood what he said, but I wanted to be sure. “Tell me what you said again in Tok Pisin” (the main trade language of Papua New Guine).

“Mi bin painim wanpela meri, na mitupela laik marit. Em tingting bilong mi.” The meaning was becoming very clear: “I have found a woman and the two of us want to get married. That is what I am thinking.”

I was still a bit sleepy so I said, “AT, tell me what you just said in English,” and, sure enough, the content was the same. “Who is this woman?” I asked. “It is KO (also abbreviated) and we want to marry.” KO was a woman who had recently arrived from Australia and was what we called a “short term worker,” assigned to be a secretary in some department of the Branch.

“Bring KO and meet me at my office and be in a hurry.”

They were waiting when I arrived. “Let’s go into the office where I can hear your story,” I told them. We went in, AT and KO leaning heavily on each other, with delightful smiles on their faces. The end of the story would erase their smiles.

When new workers arrive for their assignments, we insist that, first of all, they gain some familiarity with the country and with the trade language. AT had been assigned as one of the “teachers” of Tok Pisin and he had been helping KO to learn some of the language.

AT’s story of what happened followed, which I now translate freely: “KO and I were in the basement of the guest house playing ping-pong. At one stage I hit the ball wildly and it struck KO in the eye. I went over to console her, and we began eating each other’s faces.”

In Kewa, “to eat one’s face” is a literal translation of how the Kewa describe the “white man’s kiss.” There is a word for “kiss” in Kewa, but it is generally how people talk about caressing their babies and rubbing their lips over them. That is not what AT and KO did—no rubbing, just eating one another’s faces.

“We kept on eating one another’s faces all that day, hiding in the bushes and, even at one time, hiding under the guest house (it was raised on stumps and had plenty of room for storing things—or hiding). Now we want to get married.”

I decided to talk rather bluntly to KO: “Has AT told you what is required of a Kewa wife? Has he told you that you will work long hours in the garden, look after the pigs and sleep with them if necessary? Has he told you that you will carry firewood and have many babies?” I kept up a steady barrage of what was required of a Kewa woman.

KO began to weep, rather softly at first, then more loudly. AT looked at her happily and did not seem bothered at the problems I proposed.

“Go home and think about it,” I said, “then we will talk more about it.”

We did not need to talk about it. I contacted the aviation department and made a booking for KO to leave the next day for Australia. I heard that she was married about 6 weeks later, but of course not to AT.

But what about AT? Was he left heartbroken? No, he seemed to think, “You win some, you lose some.” The Tok Pisin expression is “mi traim tasol” (I just took a chance). He was teased and ridiculed by some of his national friends, but that didn’t bother him either. It wasn’t long before he left his job, moved to another town and married a local woman. He became a successful evangelist and started his own small church.

I don’t know what KO is doing, but I believe she has remained in Australia.

It probably was not love at first sight.

From a true event in about 1982
Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea



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