Monday, May 31, 2010

One Company – Four Men: Part I

In my next few Profile posts I’m going to reflect on four men I worked with in my early career, all with the same company. Due to the nature of some of my comments I’m not going to use actual names, not of the men and not of the company. I’m not going to disclose the industry we were in. One of these men I count as a dear friend some 30 years later, another of these men I think I could pick up the phone and call and have a pleasant time with catching up. The third man may or may not remember me, I’d like to think he would but you never know. The fourth man – well either he wasn’t who I thought he was, and if so I was naive; or he was who I thought he was and he was naive. In any case I can’t telephone him.

The First Man – Mike
I met Mike shortly after I’d received a promotion from labor to management within the national company I worked for. My promotion entailed a transfer to another division and Mike was soon my new boss. He was in his mid-20’s, a college graduate, and from a well-to-do family. His father was a key player in a national firm that was a competitor and he had learned our business with that firm. However, at some point Mike decided that he wanted to make his own way and prove himself outside of an environment where he was known as the “son of so and so”.

While this was not my first foray into management, it was my first in this industry. Much of what I needed to know I picked up intuitively, the rest Mike introduced me to. As I think back to Mike I can’t recall him ever being cross with me, and even when he called others to account, whether employees or contractors and vendors, I don’t recall him ever displaying anger – at least not in the normal way anger is expressed. He didn’t raise his voice and he seldom used coarse language – but he could get a look about him that let the offending party know that it had better get the job done the right way and in the right timeframe.

In some ways Mike was out of place in our business, at least at our level of the business. He retained the ease and assurance that can come from being raised in financial security (I say “can” because I’ve probably seen more insecure folks from financially secure environments than I’ve seen secure folks). He treated everyone with courtesy, from the lowest-paid worker on up.

He was about 5’10”, broad shouldered, square chinned, and because he worked out I don’t think there was an once of fat on him. He had sandy colored hair that he allowed to grow probably a bit too long for his management position. He also often wore his shirts unbuttoned at the top with…yes…a gold chain or two showing. This particular habit did not sit well with some of his peers who had come up through the ranks of the industry.

His fiancée was a pretty airline flight attendant, though I think in those days they were still called stewardesses. I guess that Mike may have been kind of an upscale preppy in an industry in which field personnel were decidedly not cut from that cloth.

I eventually left the company and tried a couple of different things employment wise that weren’t too promising. Mike also left the firm and went to a competitor. A year or so after I left I was in a quandary about employment and called Mike – it turns out that he needed someone with my skill set and attitude in his new environment and so we were reunited. To be continued….

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Talking About A Perfect Game in Baseball

With apologies to football, basketball and hockey fans – baseball has the rare perfect game, you all have the clock.

Yesterday, for only the 20th time in Major League history, Roy Halladay threw a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Florida Marlines. Since 1880, that’s 130 years, there have been just 20 perfect games out of thousands of total games.

While Roy Halladay will get credit for the perfect game, he was quick to give credit to his teammates, for he knew, as all baseball fans know, that without the other eight men on the field that there couldn’t be a perfect game – someone’s got to call the pitches (the catcher) and someone’s got to catch the balls that are put into play (the catcher and the fielders).

I once got within one out of seeing a no-hitter at RFK stadium (before it was named after Robert Kennedy). The Washington Senators were losing to the Chicago White Sox, 1 – 0, it was the bottom of the 9th with two outs and Washington didn’t have a hit. For the only time in my life I wanted my home team to lose so I could say I saw a no-hitter. I thought it was the least the Senators could do for me, seeing as how they ended up in last place every year. But nah – they couldn’t even do that; one Senator got on base and the next guy homered and they won the game 2 –1.

Anyway, back to the perfect game – on our best days, whether it’s pitching a perfect game, or a no-hitter, or going 5 for 5, whatever the case may be, on our best days our accomplishments are never solely our own – others have contributed to them. The thing is, not only do we need to be aware and thankful for those who have built into our lives, but we ought to be intentional about building into the lives of others. I hear so many people talk about what they’re going to do for others some day – and I see that it seldom happens – we are not suddenly going to change our lives when we retire, we are not going to miraculously reverse decades of self-centered living. And then there are those funerals I’ve conducted that happened long before the deceased had planned for it…strange how that can happen.

Who am I helping throw a perfect game today? What about you, who are you helping?

Friday, May 28, 2010

How Do You Get Ready For Church?

We are kind of an eclectic set here at the Zuck Homestead and we practice respect for one another's traditions. Some folks just get up on Sunday morning and head off to church…and others have to do a little preparation. Here’s Patrick (Dr. Pepper) Revere preparing to head off to gather with the brothers and sisters.

As you can see from his smile, Patrick is looking forward to the church meeting.

Here are photos of Patrick disentangling the snake from deer netting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chicken Update

I received an email from Roscoe Rooster:

Dear Uncle Bob,
I was snatched from Professor Hill’s Think Method Boot Camp a few nights ago and am being held in a safe house. I’m not sure where it is, I was asleep, exhausted from a day enduring the “think method” when, as I dreamed of the normal life of a rooster, I had a burlap sack placed over me and before I knew it I was hauled off the premises.
What’s amazing is that the deprogrammers also snatched a zebra whose owners were trying to convince was a horse escaped from prison and a penguin whose owners were trying to turn into a butler. Oh yes, and there’s a poor pig here who was at the Think Method Boot Camp for over two years – the Professor kept insisting that if the pig really believed it that he would be able to fly.
Anyway, since I was snatched early I don’t think the damage to me is all that great – especially now that I’m allowed to be up early and crowing – ah…how great that feels.
Say “hi” to all – will be back in touch!
Roscoe the Rooster


Monday, May 24, 2010

Tetherball and Momma’s Frying Pan

This is a tetherball.
This is a boy and girl appearing to the untrained eye to be playing tetherball – they are not intense enough to actually be playing tetherball.
This is a cast iron skillet, or frying pan, or instrument for use in defending yourself against burglars. It has also been used as a threatening device by my very own Momma against a backyard intruder – though not an unknown intruder.

I do not recommend playing tetherball with a cast iron skillet – use your hand to hit the ball, not a skillet –just thought I’d mention that for liability purposes…never knowing what some folks might try.

Do people play tetherball anymore? It’s probably deemed too dangerous for use at public school – though we used to have them at school. We also had a tetherball in our back yard – ah the beauty of getting a run on your opponent in tetherball, smashing that ball – whipping it around the pole, backing your opponent out of the line of fire. I guess if you did play tetherball today they’d make you wear helmets. Mercy!

In Rockville, MD we lived in a post-WWII subdivision with fenced back yards – chain link, some of which had those protruding barbs at the top, the kind where you had to ensure that your britches cleared the top or unpleasant things might occur. I always appreciated the user-friendly chain-link fence, the one without the barbs on the top, you could jump over those with peace of mind. But I digress…somewhat.

Katty corner to the left of our backyard was the backyard of one Bobby Ralph. Directly behind our backyard was the backyard of Wayne Able. I do not recall who was katty corner to the right of our backyard, but I can say with some certainty that they didn’t have kids, or leastways boys, or I would recollect.

Our next door neighbors, to the right facing the house, were the Bards. No, not that Bard, not the one who wrote all those plays and sonnets, but Mr. and Mrs. Bard and their daughters Charlene and Elizabeth. Charlene was a few years older than me, about the same age as Bobby Ralph, and from time-to-time Bobby Ralph would decide to visit Charlene and he’d do so by jumping the chain-link fence into our back yard and traveling across our territory.

One day my middle brother Bill and I were out back playing tetherball when Bobby Ralph decided to use our backyard as an interstate highway to visit Charlene. I don’t really know what got into us, but we took offence at his unwarranted and continual use of our property – maybe we’d been playing war games and were just in the mood to be territorial. Come to think of it, tetherball can kind of get you in one of those warrior moods.

So we informed him that he was to cease and desist in the use of our backyard. Now if you knew Bobby Ralph the way we knew Bobby Ralph you’d know that he would ignore us – after all, we were younger than he was – he was in high school – I mean that’s a BIG DEAL, or at least in was in those days. He could likely take the two of us with little problem.

But the warrior mood is the warrior mood, and once an ultimatum is given you can’t be like Neville Chamberlain and back down, you’ve got to be like Churchill and suck it up – you’ve got to have a plan and at the very least fight them on the beaches.  

The first thing we did was go into the house and retrieve three swords – not playthings, real swords. One was a ceremonial sword which had belonged to Mom’s stepfather who was with the Knights of Columbus. The other two were circa Civil War era swords that I had purchased. Not to worry – we didn’t intend to use the swords. We stuck them in the ground, off on the side of the backyard, away from the contemplated engagement – they wee symbolic of our determination to defend our sacred soil.

Then brother Bill got a cowboy bull-whip that he’d sent away for in response to an ad in a comic book. Then we dismantled the tetherball pole, and I kept a section of the pole for use as a trusty lance. After that we waited and scanned the horizon as the White Cliffs of Dover must have been scanned in WWII – waiting for the invading horde in the person of Bobby Ralph.

Unlike Napoleon and unlike Hitler, Bobby Ralph came – so you’ve got to give him credit. As he confidently moved across our backyard we gave notice that he had violated our admonition, that he had received fair warning - and with a shout I charged him with the tetherball pole. Poor old Bobby – the two crazed Withers brothers were on him.

Bobby grabbed the pole and the two of us were on the ground wrestling. Brother Bill came alongside us with the bull whip, though I don’t think he used it – heck, if he had he may have put his own eye out. Anyway, there we were, Bobby and I rolling on the ground, neither one hurting the other, and brother Bill standing by with his trusty Western real-cowboy bull whip – when out comes Momma from the backdoor.

She had looked out the kitchen door and seen the ruckus and out she came…with a cast-iron skillet…and as she approached she upbraided Bobby Ralph with the words, “What are you doing picking on my boys?!”

Old Bobby was off and running, jumping over the chain-link fence for the safety of his own dear backyard. From that day forward the poor old boy walked around the block to see Charlene.

You gotta love a Momma who defends her innocent boys. “What are you doing picking on my boys?!” Ah yes.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Dr Pepper

I feel that a word about Dr. Pepper is in order.

The world may be said to consist of three types of people; those who like Dr. Pepper, those who hate Dr. Pepper, and those who have yet to encounter this great Rubicon of life.

If the movie The Matrix were produced by a Dr. Pepper fan the protagonist, instead of being presented with different color pills would be presented with Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb – choosing Dr. Pepper would be choosing reality, choosing Mr. Pibb would be choosing to remain in sub-virtual reality.

As the above advertisement illustrates, Dr. Pepper was once marketed as a hot drink as well as a cold drink. I once actually tried it hot – it was okay, perhaps I should give it another go now that I think about it.


It was also marketed with the numbers 10 – 2 – 4, representing 10:00 AM, 2:000 PM, and 4:00 PM; times of the day when the body could use a pick-me-up to avoid its letdowns at 10:30, 2:30, and 4:30. I’m sure I’ve pretty much covered all the hours of the day with Dr. Pepper.

My first experience with Dr. Pepper was undoubtedly visiting my cousins in Virginia and walking down to the country store with pop bottles to trade-in for penny candy (yes, I’m getting old) and soda pop (also called a soft drink in those days). Nehi was another big favorite but this post isn’t about Nehi. Another thing we did in those days was to buy a bottle of Coca Cola and a nickel pack of Planter’s Peanuts and pour the peanuts in the Coke – but this post isn’t about that either – it’s about the Dr.

Dr. Pepper wasn’t a big thing in the Maryland suburbs of D.C. when I was growing up but it was a known commodity in Virginia.

Vickie doesn’t like Dr. Pepper – this is good and bad. It’s good in that she won’t dip into my supply. It’s bad in that when we’re traveling and stop for gasoline, if I say I’m going to get a soda and she says she doesn’t want one it means that I’ve got to get a 7-Up or Sprite or some such thing – that’s because I know if I get one of those that she’ll want a sip and that if I get a Dr. Pepper she won’t touch it. I know, I know. I know I should get over it and just get Dr. Pepper and let her do without – but I suppose it’s that “better or worse” line I said way back when.

Our friend and neighbor Patrick, Alice’s husband, is a Dr. Pepper fan. The thing is, poor old boy, that Alice watches his Dr. Pepper intake the way one of my aunts used to watch her husband’s whiskey intake – she’s like the bureau of weights and measures. So when Patrick comes down for Bible study and prayer I make sure I’ve got a nice refreshing can of the Dr. ready and available for him.

I try to help Patrick out by telling Alice I’ve read articles from the Mayo Clinic about the medicinal benefits of a moderate relationship with the Dr. but I don’t think she buys it, though Patrick does appreciate the effort.

Years ago I was filling out an employment application that seemed to require that I write an autobiography. The questions began to get pretty personnel and I got tired and a bit resentful at the nature of some of the questions. When I got to a question about who my physician was I’d had enough and wrote down, Dr. Pepper. While I didn’t get the job I did create a memory.

Yes, I am drinking Dr. Pepper as I write this. I’d prefer the old Dr. Pepper bottle but those days are gone – and as with other sodas it does taste different in a bottle versus a can, but if a can is all you can get then a can it is. I sure hope they never package the Dr. in one of those sippy bags.

I guess that’s about it. Now if you’ve read this far you’re probably wondering why you’ve done so, I’ll give you a good reason – isn’t reading about Dr. Pepper a whole lot better than reading about Congressmen resigning due to infidelity, or the Gulf oil spill, or the economy, or just about anything you’re going to find on the front page? I’ve got a suspicion it just might be.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

May Apples

We didn’t know what these plants are so we asked our neighbor and good friend Sally. She told us that they are “May Apples”. Note the blossoms beneath the top leaves. These plants will bear fruit – fruit that Vickie plans to use to make jelly or jam. The thing is that you’ve got to wait until the fruit is ripe to use it – because prior to ripening it is toxic – toxic as in it will give you more than a tummy ache.

As I pondered the May Apple I thought of one of my “flat spots” – the tendency to speak before fully developing a thought or idea – especially if it is an idea new to me and others. Proverbs 15:23 talks about the blessing of a “word spoken in due season”. The opposite of that is a word that is out of season, a word that is either not appropriate for the occasion or which has not ripened so as to be eatable.

It’s hard when receiving new insight or illumination not to share it right away in the midst of excitement, but I know that often what I’m seeing and thinking about needs time to ferment and mature; and I know that if I’ll ruminate on things awhile that it will usually be sweeter when I do share it. I also know that some of my first impressions may be corrected if I take things slower before making a meal of my thoughts to share with others.

Seeing a blossom is not seeing the fruit, and there can be a world of difference between eating unripe and ripe fruit.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Update on Chickens and George Will

I still haven’t been able to track down the chickens, but the word is that they are laying three eggs a day, that would be one egg per hen and no egg for the rooster. I haven’t heard from Roscoe Rooster since the email I shared with you. I have, however, heard from George Will.

George was back in the States in late April and called me before flying back to Italy. All is well with George. I don’t think he’d mind me including his update along with the chicken update, if you see him you don’t need to mention it.

No chickens here Bob.

No chickens here, you’re barking up the wrong tree Bob.

Chickens? Come closer and tell me what you mean by “chickens”.

Do I look like a chicken?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring Color

The azaleas are fading, but I managed to get some photos while I was searching for the chickens.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Phil – Part III

I mentioned that Phil was an exquisite underachiever, that’s not quite true. A graduate of Brandeis, an accomplished pianist, a possessor of no mean intellect, and yet working the night shift in a grocery store while giving piano lessons in the daytime. However, Phil did have a gift, a gift that I needed – he was an encourager – and in that department he was a success.

He wasn’t one of those “rah-rah everything’s going to be all right” encouragers. He wasn’t like the Brit on the BBC who says, “Have a cup of dear old chap and everything will be right as rain.” No, Phil was a thoughtful encourager, he’d size a person up, listen to the person, ask questions, and then he’d prod with a question like, “Have you ever thought about doing _________?”

When I arrived at Red’s Market I was in survival mode – I was just trying to make it week to week financially and emotionally. Finding a job had been a trial – I had worked construction before but there was no construction in Orlando, I tried sales and that was ugly, just plain ugly. Since I had a grocery background I tried Red’s Market – and God had Phil waiting there for me.

I was 27 years old at the time and (partly) as a result of my expulsion from seminary as a teenager (I wrote about that back in February or March) I never graduated from high school or got my GED. I guess I had written academics off, I hadn’t written learning off for I was always learning, but formal education wasn’t something I thought about – I didn’t have time, I was too busy messing my life up. Plus what folks call “self-image” was about as deep in the septic tank as you can get – though I don’t really think much of self-image but I do think of who we are in Christ, that’s really the only image that matters.

Phil and I would spend many nights talking about history and philosophy, religion and politics, and the more questions he asked and the more answers I gave the more he started talking to me about getting my GED. He told me that I should be teaching in a university – I don’t share this to pat myself on the back, I share it to demonstrate what a blessing Phil was to me. Phil also encouraged me in terms of “self-image”, he got me to thinking that maybe there was hope and that maybe I wasn’t destined to tread water in a cesspool.

I took him seriously and got my GED while I was at Red’s Market – I wouldn’t have done it were it not for Phil. So you can see now why Phil played such a significant role in my life. We worked together for less than a year – but Phil’s friendship and encouragement are still bearing fruit in my life.

I still pray for Phil and his son Jake. I hope Phil has found family and friends and peace – and most of all Jesus. I still love that guy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Phil – Part II

Since Phil gave piano lessons during the day he liked to take naps during our shift. This wasn’t a big deal with me. Our job was to stock the shelves and serve as cashiers. We were generally busy up until 2:00 AM, that was the cutoff for wine and beer sales. At that time we’d pull a curtain down over the wine and beer cooler letting people know that the products were unavailable.

Phil used to take some of his naps in the restroom, which was located right off one of the aisles in the rear of the store. I usually left him alone unless we got busy, then I’d need to wake him up. The store sold boxes of caps for toy pistols – red rolls of caps, a few rolls in each box. The restroom was small, accommodating one person at a time. One night, as Phil was sleeping, I took a box of caps and a hammer, put the box of caps on the floor right outside the restroom and hit the box with the hammer – BANG!!!!! – old Phil came out of his sleep and the restroom with eyes as big as saucers – it was a sight to behold. I won’t repeat what he said – but I have to say that the prank was a thing of beauty and evoked everything I could have hoped for. As my Daddy used to say, “It’s all in fun.”

Red’s Market was famous for it citrus fruit and its peanuts. The sidewalk was lined with citrus – varieties of oranges and grapefruit. We also had an old peanut roaster on the sidewalk and during our shift we’d roast and bag peanuts – and how those peanuts would sell – people loved them. The peanut roaster was kind of like a concrete mixer, you’d put raw peanuts in a horizontal cylinder and it would rotate over a gas-fed fire. As the cylinder turned it squeaked, not a high-pitched squeaked, kind of a lazy squeak once every rotation. It was the perfect squeak for a hot Florida night, and when the traffic settled down on South Orange Blossom Trail the squeak remained to provide cadence for the night. The smell of roasting peanuts and the dependable squeak of that roaster remain with me today.

One night a red-haired gal shopped in the store and Phil struck up a conversation with her that led to some type of relationship. She’d stop in a few times a week to chat with Phil. The reason I remember this is that the woman had an infant and she’d leave the infant in the car while she was inside the store. From time-to-time I’d walk out in the parking lot and look in the car at the baby; I’d wonder if she’d leave a million dollars in her car – and I’d think, “No, she probably wouldn’t leave a million dollars in her car.” Then I’d think, “Then why would she leave her baby by itself?” Kind of funny…the things you remember…isn’t it?

Working the graveyard shift can be pretty interesting in terms of the people you meet – and we had times when folks didn’t want to take “no” for an answer after 2:00 AM – they wanted alcohol whether it was legal or not. We had to call the sheriff more than once.

Phil left town and headed north in early 1978. A year or two after that I visited him in Portland, Maine. He was back with his off-again and on-again girlfriend whom he had known for years – I’ll just leave her name out of this to be safe. That was the last time I saw Phil. We did exchange letters now and again in the early 80’s, and in the late 80’s I managed to find a phone number for his off-again and on-again girlfriend who at the time was in New Jersey. I think I got the number from Phil’s mother in Portland, Maine. I called the girlfriend and she told me that Phil had left her again, but that she’d probably see him and would give him my phone number – I never heard back.

I have prayed for Phil all these years, and Jake his son – my how he missed his son. Well, I’ve still got to share with you why Phil is such a significant person in my life…I guess we’ll pick that up in the next post.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I thought it was just a job. To be sure it was an important job in that jobs were hard to find, unemployment was up, the economy was in the tank, Florida had been hard it. You could drive through Orlando and see buildings abandoned in the midst of construction.

Those were the days when Altamonte Springs, Winter Park, and Orlando were identifiable towns driving on Interstate 4. Today, without highway signs indicating these places you wouldn’t know one from the other – everything runs together – of course things change over 35 years.

The grocery store was Red’s Market, located on South Orange Blossom Trail. It was a family-owned business in the days when families could still make a go of it in a grocery store. It was also open 24 hours a day and they needed someone for the 11 – 7 graveyard shift, a shift staffed with two people. My first day on the job I met Phil, my shift partner.

Phil is one of those people I wish I could catch-up with, and you’ll see why as this unfolds. I’ve tried to track him down from time-to-time, but trying to track Phil down is like trying to actually find Kilroy back in WWII days.

Phil was about 5’9”, black hair, black eyes, angular face, lean and muscular – he lifted weights and ran, keeping himself in shape. He remains to this day the most exquisite underachiever I’ve ever known – though of course I’ve no idea what he has done these past decades. 

He was from a well-to-do, if not wealthy, Jewish family in Portland, Maine. He was a pianist, a graduate of Brandeis (major was music) and divorced with a son who lived with his mother and step-father in Chicago. At night Phil worked at Red’s Market, in the day he gave piano lessons. My guess is that he was around 30 years old when I met him, but he seemed much older; I think it was because of sorrow, sorrow at the loss of Jake, his son; sorrow at the loss of his marriage; and perhaps sorrow at being the odd son out in a family of aggressive achievers.

Phil observed people with amusement and without judgment. If Phil did pass judgment it was reserved for his own “class” and not for the common person, not for the redneck, not for the uneducated. He did miss the high culture of classical music, which at the time was scarce in Orlando. I recall him telling me after he moved back North how great it was to find classical music stations on the radio. He pretty much took life as it came, but he took it with a filter of sadness and resignation – though at times he could be sardonic. Phil wasn’t a drinker, I don’t recall him touching alcohol, if he had his life would have likely been a tragedy with his disposition.

He used to call me “Bobby”. I think he was surprised that he had a work partner that he could talk to about politics and history and philosophy and religion and life in general. My time at Red’s Market turned out to be a significant experience for me because of Phil.  To be continued…..

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Chickens Update

I received an email  from Roscoe the Rooster, one of the two roosters who were returned to Hertzlers because they couldn’t lay eggs.

Dear Uncle Bob,
I have been sent to a special camp run by a Professor Harold Hill to learn how to lay eggs. He is utilizing something called, “The Think Method.” The method is that you “think about something and then it happens.” The gossip around the hen house is that he used to be a musical instrument salesman and that he snookered folks into purchasing instruments for boys’ bands – which he promised to teach and lead. Apparently when the market for boys’ bands dried up he tried his hand at other things.

It is said that he worked on Wall Street for quite a while and instituted something called credit default swaps. He also served as a consultant for some big companies, people like Enron, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and I think most recently Goldman Sachs. I don’t know if these folks are in agriculture or raising cows or what, I did hear something about him working in a bear market.

Anyway, seems like he had to leave the big city for a while so he’s opened up an education center out in Powhatan County for local farmers who have livestock and chickens and whatnot. When you first get here you’ve got to watch a movie called Doctor Doolittle five straight times and then you’re supposed to be able to talk to Professor Hill and other animals. Oh yes, he’s also been talking to our owners about them putting together an animal band – he says he can get a good deal on musical instruments.
Professor Hill says a band of animals will be a first – but I think he’s mistaken. I got on the internet last night and I see that someone named Eric Burton had an animal band. I have an idea that his group may have been in the same kind of mess I’m in because one of their big hits was, We’ve Got To Get Out Of This Place.
Uncle Bob, I sit here hours everyday trying Harold Hill’s Think Method and I haven’t laid one lousy egg – not one.
Oh yeah, Uncle Bob, seeing you are a preacher and all, this may interest you, Professor Hill started some big movement with church folks, I think it’s called Name It and Claim It. They say that was one of his best ideas – it’s just really the Think Method.
Well, I gotta go and get back to thinking about laying an egg. Say “Hi” to the folks on the homestead – and tell ‘em all that Roscoe says, “No hard feel’ns ‘bout send’n me back – it actually took a lot of pressure off me – now if I could just figure out a way to get outta this place.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Big John Holland and the Chickens

No, this isn’t about the missing chickens from a couple of days ago – hopefully we’ll track them down, but there does seems to be something about chickens going on right now.

Big John and his wife went on a trip to Israel with a bunch of folks from a certain ministry. The ministry was pretty much a family affair, a closed circle and all that. Up on Mount Tabor John prophesied over the patriarch of the family that he was to get his house in order because the Lord was taking him home within six months. Of course since Big John wasn’t part of the inner circle he was dismissed as being out-of-touch with God – I guess you had to be in the inner circle for God to speak to you. If you’ve lived long enough you’ve probably seen that mentality in more than one place.

You know the rest of the story – sure enough, the patriarch went home to be with Jesus within the appointed time. Big John didn’t tell me about this, I don’t think he was into talking too much about himself – those are usually the folks who get the real words from God, the ones that don’t pay attention to themselves.

I went with John to a Navajo church meeting under a big tent on the reservation – and my how those folks could dance to Jesus. Now I’ve seen my share of dancing in church, some of it was sweet, and some of it…well, it’s not for me to say is it? I can say that most of it has been sweet indeed. I don’t mind a little dance now and then myself.

The thing that matters to me is context. If people are expressing themselves within their natural cultural context then I say, “Go for it.” If, however, various expressions are used as a measure of spirituality or to try to manipulate God, then I say go on over to McDonald’s and order a Number Two with a Dr. Pepper, you’ll be better off – even with the carbs and fat and all that – and there ain’t nothing wrong with a Dr. Pepper.  

I was once in a United Pentecostal church where the dancing and running got to be so much that a sister suggested we call in a traffic cop.

Anyway, like I said, those Navajo brothers and sisters sure could dance – it was just beautiful.

One day out at John’s mission to the Navajo in the Four Corners area – that’s where those southwestern states come together – all touching each other at one particular spot where the US Geological Survey has a special marker – I went with John to pick up some chickens to take back to the mission. John didn’t have a truck, didn’t have a trailer, but he did have a car with a trunk. The feet of the chickens were tied together so they wouldn’t go nuts in the trunk and we drove back to the mission.

When we got to the mission we unloaded the chickens, putting them on the ground and cutting the twine from their feet. Do you know what those chickens did? Nothing. They just laid there. We told the chickens that they could get up and move, though admittedly we used English and not Navajo, but the chickens still didn’t move. Finally we gave the chickens some contact with our feet and they started to move, but not much. When we gave them a little more foot contact they finally got off the ground and checked out their new home.

Those chickens remind me of a lot of Christians. Christ has set us free to live in Him and for Him and for others, greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world – but we just lay on the ground, in the earth-realm, and act like we’re still bound up in sin and death and all that mess. The difference between the chickens and many Christians is that the chickens finally got the message.