Category: Humor (page 2 of 24)

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

 

 

Head Colds

 

We have probably all had “head colds,” but I want to supply some additional information on them. You will not find this on WebMD or anywhere else on the Internet. It is something that only the laypeople (read *laymen) know about.

There are several varieties of head colds and none of them are nice; in fact, most of them are gross and quite uncultured. I apologize in advance, but the truth must be told.

I’ll start with the “stopped up head” because I have just gotten over it. My head was stopped up (sometimes euphemistically called “congested”), much like the toilet sometimes in our house, and I needed to be unstopped. For the toilet, we would try a “plunger,” those large rubber suction cups with a handle. By plunging (notice the name) the instrument up and down while flushing the toilet, usually debris can be exhumed and destroyed. Not always of course, in which case the plumber (notice the name) is called. For about $90 he (plumbers are generic biased) can tell you that for another $250 the remains can be blown into the nearest river (via city approved pipes, of course). From there it will go to a cleansing factory before we have it back as potable water. However, it might be wise to filter it.

Back to my stopped-up head: there are several maneuvers that can help. The drainage is from the brain downward, so I begin by massaging the temple area with my thumb and index finger and pushing the substance down my lymph drainage tubes toward my shoulder blades, where I thump my fingers three times against the protruding collar bone. This is much like flushing the toilet, although I have no idea where the head stoppage stuff goes. I also massage above by eyebrows, down the ridge of the nose, under the eyes and along the cheek bone. That collected substance is also pushed down and thumped against the collar bone. I am now going to show you how and why this works but to do so I need you to look at this picture of a brain, because that is where, to begin with, all the debris is located.

We are looking down on the brain, much like looking down at a series of mountain ridges from an airplane. The valleys within the mountain ridges are the black lines and, for our purposes represent the gunk that we have in a stopped-up head. We can think of what has happened as a jungle forest (the top of the brain) that has been rained upon and the valleys as areas where the excess runoff has collected. That is exactly what happens in a stopped-up head: rivers of gunk (sometimes called snot by the uncultured) begin to pool and overflow into the cavities of our skull. A lake of muck soon permeates every available area and must be dispensed with. The colors in the diagram are significant: the light, pinkish area on the top of the picture represents the decongested area; the green in the middle, the jungle area where the matter grows; and the blueish area near the bottom signifies the part of the brain neutralized by drugs and nasal spray.

All matter in the valleys must drain into the various cavities of the face: the sinus cavities, the nasal and oral cavities and any tooth cavities not filled in with silver amalgam or gold.

Some of the stuff in the cavities can be disentombed by blowing the nose, but this is a time-consuming and sometimes futile effort. It is also a nasty business: globs of greenish mucous fill up the tissue (don’t use a handkerchief unless you want to clog your washing machine) and run over your lip and into your mouth. Instead use the massage and thump method.

When our son was a baby and often had a head cold in the high-altitude village where we lived, we used to use a bulb syringe to suction out the nostrils. If you try this method, be careful if you see bits of tissue—it may come from the brain.

A second kind of head cold, but not nearly as bad as the stopped-up head is the sniffle-head, in which case the stuff in your head has been diluted by brain waves, much like a microwave with food, and is making its own passage toward the sea, so to speak. Sniffing holds it at bay but often causes coughing and watery eyes. Think of a serving of weak oatmeal or porridge and you will have the picture of the substance you must disperse—not hard and clumpy, but water-logged and moving slowly, like the lava from a volcano.

People who have the “sniffles,” and we have all had them, should be kept in cold rooms so that the mucus will harden and can be unearthed by hard nose blowing. It is not a pleasant sound when the mucus suddenly tears loose and thuds into the tissue, which may break. It is better to not go further in my description because no amount of massage and thumping will now help.

A third and closely related kind of head cold is the “watery-head,” so called because the eyes and nose begin to drip and drain simultaneously. The dam has burst, so to speak, and there will be gallons of drainage—usually about a tissue box an hour, according to the experts.

Sometimes, the flow will last so long that light traces of blood will be found in the current as well. This should not alarm you. Tiny capillaries in the nasal passage are bursting with excitement as the rivulet streams by and the blood wants to join in the escape. Trust your body and especially your nose and try not to wipe hard or the blood may become thicker and you will need some special drug to help you.

This brings me to my last comments about head colds—the drugs that are “available” to help you. Most are “over the counter” but a few require prescriptions and are “under the counter.” Be aware, however, that there is no treatment for the “common cold.” Nevertheless, drug companies have a variety of costly cures.

First off, are the “pain relievers,” which you should use even if there is no pain, but you think there might be sometime in the future. You should always use them for the “shortest time possible,” which is five days and you should follow “label directions” to avoid side effects. The side effects are numerous, the descriptions generally filling four pages of very fine print, and the notice can be found somewhere inside the box of pills.

There are also “decongestant nasal sprays” that loosen up the clogged-up rivers in the brain. The spray must traverse hundreds of little brain waterways, so should be applied vigorously, meaning until you feel faint. The contents of the spray are secret, much like the formula for Coca Cola, locked in a vault at Pharma Inc.

We have all tried cough syrups, but now the FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends against using over the counter cough and cold medicines. They claim there is no evidence that the syrups help, although those with a high alcohol content do tend to help the patient forget about the cough.

The best cure for any cold is chicken soup and often chicken farms have their birds depleted in the winter. Also, drink “plenty” of water and put some lemons in it. Don’t drink or eat anything with caffeine in it and avoid alcohol, which can dehydrate you. Be sure to sooth your throat with a good saltwater gargle and use some saline nasal drops. Vitamin C, zinc and echinacea are also recommended by some, but not the FDA.

The best news I can give is that you will need lots of rest, so staying home from work or school is mandatory at the first symptom of a head cold. That should be a no-brainer.

Winter 2019
Waco, Texas

 

 

Boy Have I Got a Bible For You

 

Christian Book Distributors frequently send out a catalogue to advertise the Bibles they sell. The one I recently received (January 2019) has 68 pages of  Bible “bargains.” The two pictures on the front cover are the Baker Illustrated Study Bible and the New Living Translation Holy Bible, both said to be “new.” Of course they are not new in any sense except the packaging (especially the covers) and names.

At a recent Bible study, comprising about 14 of us older men and the teacher (the pastor of the church most of us attended), I asked what versions of the Bible the men were using. There were a variety: New King James, New American Standard, New Revised Standard, English Revised Standard, Good News (my version), Ryrie Study Bible (probably NASB), and the couple of nerdish men using their i-phones.

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