Friday, December 30, 2011

Some Thoughts About the Church in 2012

“Church of God Ministries” resides in Anderson, Indiana--a focal point that supplements the combined Church of God preaching-publishing ministries of J.C. Fisher and D. S. Warner. Both were ordained by the General Eldership of the Church of God of North America (John Winebrenner followers), now known simply as the Church of God. However, “The Church of God Movement” occupies a multitude of places and people along a global partyline that brings health and healing to a hurting global community.

Daniel S. Warner launched in Ohio, linked with Fisher in Indiana, and relocated to Williamston, Michigan via Cardington-Bucyrus, Ohio. The Williamston Gospel Trumpet produced a “Trumpet Family“ of volunteer workers. When Fisher forsook his wife, Warner disassociated with him, and the magazine moved on with its message of unity and holiness--Grand Junction--Moundsville--Anderson.

The Church Advocate of January 10, 1877, a Winebrenner publication, noted early, that “Elder D. S. Warner is a model young man, of deep piety and superior courage and means business in the work of the ministry, and if he continues humble will make his mark in the church.” He became a successful pastor, evangelist, and missionary, but it seems safe to say that had he not joined forces with Joseph Fisher, (and Byrum), there would be no Church of God Reformation Movement as we know it.

In his centennial history of the Gospel Trumpet Company--Miracle of Survival/44, Editor Harold Phillips pointed to Warner’s role of pen-preaching, concluding that Warner “wed them into powerful instruments for the spread of the truth to which he was committed.“ That marriage of the printed word with the spoken word produced a people driven by a “flying ministry” of volunteer preachers and workers and the “Trumpet Family”--volunteers.

Working hand-in-glove with the “flying ministers” the publishing ministry created a people out of no people. They created a visible re-formation that became a publishing ministry--Gospel Trumpet Company--and an evolving church body thought of as a “last reformation.”

The Publishing House, as the driving force, created a variety of in-house curriculum materials for feeding the infant church. By extending the company outside the church, a large retail business evolved, including educational materials, greeting cards, worship folders, and a full line of books.

Enoch Byrum, successor to the Fisher-Warner ministry, soon put Amos Radabaugh on the road selling the books they published. They understood--very early--that their church ministry lacked the ability to support their publishing ministry. They resolved this by developing and selling products to the General Public - to subsidize publishing needs.

God blessed! The Company thrived, and that marriage offers the best reason I know for forging a new and contemporary publishing ministry for the 21st century. The church grew early on, but its institutional needs created changes of attitude and practice across the decades, with unfortunate results. After 116 years of movemental institutionalizing, “Vital Christianity”--former Gospel Trumpet--died, amid a restructuring church, forcing a downsized publishing ministry.

A 1971 audience at the Anderson School of Theology Lectures failed to grasp the significance of the question Franklin Miller raised: “In this closing decade of our first century as a movement, [h] ow do we see the future of the use of literature? In the last three or four years, Miller added, several large Religious bodies have found it necessary to discontinue publication of their official journals and magazines (emphasis added), some of which were in Publication for many, many decades “Projections” 11/1971).

Miller pressed his point to no avail: “What do we see in the future of the publication of VITAL CHRISTIANITY And the Church of God? How do we see the future of book publications? Are the destinies of our church’s publishing house to be determined by whatever attitude we take toward freedom of independent action and loyalty to the movement?”

Editor Phillips, added additional warnings. Editor Newell reprinted an editorial from Editor Smith from 1928, with this provocative title: “Voluntary Cooperation or Disintegration.” “Reformation Review” later reprinted that “Smith editorial” in their prototype issue--peeking into our past--without comment. That experimental issue did not make it beyond the prototype issue.

I became a pastor in 1951 and began attending our National Assemblies. There, I frequently heard criticism among my peers--even offered a few. Complaints varied, but they generally concluded that “they sell Holy Trinkets!” Many Warner Press Retail as growing rapidly, making “gobs of money,” and taking commercial advantage of the church .

Meanwhile, in the church body, Agency in-fighting existed. Salary rivalries arose. Turf wars created problems Pastors complained that the “GA” was a “waste of time!“ Some declared business meetings useless. Some business meetings were lack luster, but I never envisioned God’s business as a waste of time--yet, what did this young preacher know?

Eventually, intentional “Bible-based cooperation” replaced the practiced voluntary “disintegration.” Free-wheeling independence ruled the day. Freedom of choice--in! Passion for Publishing [the message]--out!

The Church Body lost sight of the role the Publishing House played as primary “nursemaid” for the Movement during its first 75 years. The Church of God, Anderson no longer appreciated the sacrifices of its elders, choosing to ignore the benefits for its children, youth, families, congregations, and missional outreach.

Yes, we reorganized national structures to function more efficiently, and I voted for it. That well-intentioned effort bore minimal fruit; we were already bare-bones, denominationally speaking. Hindsight says we exchanged bare-bones for an even leaner-meaner structure.

We have now lived more than 130 years, mostly because of dedicated individuals that to some degree follow the spirit of the commission D. S. Warner believed God gave him--wed the spoken-and-written word in proclaiming unity and holiness. Following Warner’s example, they wrapped themselves around that cause--volunteering --sacrificing--and giving until it hurt.

Our 20-20 rear view vision has improved significantly, but, our foresight remains overly self-centered, non-visionary, and too self-seeking.
1) We cannot fill our niche in God’s world without correcting past failures.
2) We cannot adequately fulfill our mission without wedding the passionate publishing and personal proclaiming that birthed us and created a Witnessing Body of Gospel Witnesses.
3) By itself, “Pen preaching” is not a panacea--cure-all; we need to renew Warner’s contract with God and supplement it with the proclamation and witness of individual ministers, congregations, and members.

An excerpt from Warner’s signed document, that December 13th day of 1877, says simply:
In signing my name to this solemn covenant I am aware that I bind myself to live, act, speak, think, move, sit, stand up, lie down, eat (underlined twice), drink, hear, see, feel and whatsoever I do all the days and nights of my life to do all continually and exclusively to the Glory of God.

Warner wanted nothing but what honored God; he wanted nothing in his possession or under his control but such as he could “consistently write upon ‘Holiness unto the Lord.’”

Warner’s devotion--to God--to Scripture, is what we need. We have capable congregations, more than ever. We have “Chog Ministries.” We have on-demand publishing--Reformation Publishers. We have more communication than anytime in history. Our wired online global neighborhood gives us a neighborhood network for talking to one another--sharing with each other--and a means of dialoguing with the world.

Twenty-Twelve demands better of us--our utmost best. Twenty-first century “pen preaching” supplemented by our “practice” of what we “preach” will result in renewed vision of prophetic leaders and passionate people. Joining hands and uniting in plugging into God’s promised mission of John 3:16 will produce “active First Responders” empowered by the Living Christ, authorized by God Almighty, and not somebody’s interpretation of End Times.

From Warner's World,
it is true that “a great tribulation” is taking the lives of many in these days, but it is also true that we face THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITY IN HUMAN HISTORY. What a great time this is to be alive ...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pastor's Christmas Eve Gift

Compass Direct News
reported Islamic extremists threw acid on this church leader in Kampala, Uganda on Christmas Eve. This was the Christmas present given a Christian pastor shortly after a seven-day revival at his church. This hostile act of violence left him with severe burns that blinded one eye and threaten his sight in the other eye. It reads like Judas betrayal of Jesus.

Mulinde was attacked on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) outside his Gospel Life Church International building in Namasuba, about 10 kilometers (six miles) outside of Kampala. From his hospital bed in Kampala, he told Compass that he was on his way back to the site for a party with the entire congregation and hundreds of new converts to Christianity when a man who claimed to be a Christian approached him.

“I heard him say in a loud voice, ‘Pastor, pastor,’ and as I made a turn and looked at him, he poured the liquid onto my face as others poured more liquid on my back and then fled away shouting, ‘Allahu akbar [God is greater],’” Mulinde said, still visibly traumatized two days after the assault.

A doctor told Compass that acid burns cover about 30 percent of his face and has cost him sight in one eye. “We are doing all we can to save his other remaining eye and to contain the acid from spreading to other parts of the body,” the doctor said. His face, neck and arms bore deep black scars from the acid, and his lips were swollen. His face, neck and arms bear deep black scars from the acid, and his lips are still swollen.

Mulinde said Muslim extremists opposed to his conversion from Islam and his outspoken opposition of sharia (Islamic law) courts in Uganda attacked him. On Oct. 15, area Muslim leaders declared a fatwa against him demanding his death. Mulinde is known for debates locally and internationally in which he often challenges Muslims regarding their religion.

Bishop Umar Mulinde, 37, was a sheikh (Islamic teacher) before his conversion to Christianity. Violence in the name of religion seems to me the most hypocritical of all religious heresies. Thus, the words of Jesus were never more true than here: “If you abide in My word … you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

If you pursue Allah (God) far enough, you will find peace, but not violence. Then, you can say of a certainty, Allahu Akbar (God is greater). From Warner’s World ...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day Worship

Christmas Day service was abbreviated--35-40 minutes--warm,receptive,and pungent with Christmas Spirit. Tonya, a local music teacher, led worship. She proved to be a breath of fresh air as a full congregation sang vigorously and joyfully before Tonya introduced Pastor Sparks sermon with her solo.

Without repeating the lyrics of her song, I was moved with Tonya's level of engagement in her song. It was apparent to us in the pew that she was standing alone with God, carrying on a conversation with Him through the lyrics of her song. We were blessed as she simply overflowed--choking back her tears, even ‘tho I had difficulty putting all of her broken lyrics together (being without my hearing aids).

It was a tender and touching moment as Jim stepped forward to deliver his Christmas Message on “Jesus the Immanuel”. Without repeating Jim, he reminded us that had God thought we needed a king, an educator, or whatever, God could have sent that person. What he did, in fact, was to send us a Savior--we needed forgiveness.

A quick glance at Christmas 2011 could reveal the greatest need within humanity is forgiveness. Picking up on Tonya’s tears and brokenness in worship, Jim recognized tears have always been part of the life drama of failure, renewed efforts, transformation, and new opportunity. I have to confess he jerked me up short--thinking perhaps of the whiteness of the fresh snow, the cleansing of a new and fresh start, concluded with the double entendre (with which he sat down): “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”

We stood to our feet, singing ” with renewed understanding, “Joy to the World.”
…the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King…
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
…No more let sin and sorrow grow / Nor thorns infest the ground / He comes to make his blessings flow…
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness,
And wonders of his love…

George grew up going to camp meeting in South Dakota, the son of a Wesleyan Methodist pastor. That was what they did. George was also a WWII Bomber Pilot, a churchman, a history professor, a politician. At the core of George is a man acquainted with suffering. He invested his life trying to lift others, and suffered depression from his inability to help his alcoholic daughter, who died in a parking lot falling-down-drunk--the result of a colt-45 at 13 (drink, not gun).

George is a man who has learned to rise above personal depression, as well as the destructive elements that ruin so many lives today. His words reaffirm the spirit of this day--Christmas 2011:

“This is not the time to hide in the shadows or to surrender. This is the time to step out and to step up. This is the time for us to heal our nation’s rifts and to deliver on her promise as we see it: a republic that is good to all. It is not for nothing that I will go to my grave believing that ours is the greatest country on earth.”

Merry Christmas from Warner’s World … for his name shall be called Emmanuel, meaning God with us (cf. Matthew 1:18-25) …

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Celebrating the Prince of Peace

Lawrence Korb is a senior fellow for a Washington Think Tank and former assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan. Korb, and his associate Laura Conley, identified ’unproven, over-budget, or strategically unnecessary’ weapons and weapons programs that could be cut or canceled and not missed.

Among those identified was the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. According to the study, this program has been plagued by so many technical problems since its inception in 1991 that Dick Cheney, then Secretary of defense, called it a ‘turkey.’

Rejecting the Navy’s request for twenty-four new Ospreys would save Taxpayers $9.1 billion--pretty good chunk of change. Cutting the procurement of the Navy and Marine F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants would save Americans another BIG BUNDLE.

Since 2002, estimates of the lifetime operational costs of the F-35 have more than doubled to $1 trillion. Alternate fighter jets such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet continues to be effective in the Navy and marines, so cutting their variants while allowing the Air Force to keep its entire buy would control spiraling costs without compromising American air superiority and the savings would be $16.43 billion by 2015.

That raises a question for me on this Christmas Eve - the day celebrated as the birthday of The One announced as the coming “Prince of Peace.” Remember that Bible passage that asks the question, what is it all worth if I gain the WHOLE WORLD and lose my own soul?

I would like to rephrase that question and ask what does it mean (how much is it worth) to be the strongest country on earth … if … our citizens cannot find worthwhile jobs, affordable housing, quality schools, good health care, and a clean environment?

There are those who make a mighty good living spending as much for military related programs as the rest of the entire world. We send our military from one place to another being the neighborhood Cop. Yet, we live in such fear that we strip-search 85-year-old ladies for fear they might have a terrorist explosive hidden in their private places, in their toothpaste, or...

Homeland Security is a $42 million boondoggle for the 200,000 employees. Meanwhile, it costs us an arm and a leg, and leaves us wobbling about like a wounded veteran on a new prosthesis. Our national debt is out of sight. We are at each other’s political throats. Our Congress is engaged in a civil war of deadlock.

To you on my right, the military has no way of resolving the issues--without diplomatic help. To my left, revolution of whatever kind is no solution to the moral re-formation needed by our nation.

Peace, said Dorothy Thompson, has to be created, in order to be maintained. It is the product of Faith, Strength, Energy, Will, Sympathy, Justice, Imagination, and the triumph of principle. It will never be achieved by passivity and quietism (or by military might; I add).

Christmas Eve is the time to celebrate the music of the stars …
a heavenly host praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men
with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:14 RSV).; this is Warner’s World

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Sacredness of the Ordinary

Elton Trueblood described the birth of Jesus bringing the sacred and the secular into a powerful human experience, through what he called “the common ventures of life”--birth, marriage, work, death. Richard Foster insists we can overcome what he terms the “heresy of 5 percent spirituality.” We can turn “ordinary experiences of life into prayer, seeing God in our ordinary life experiences, and praying throughout those ordinary experiences (Prayer, Finding the Heart's True Home/169).

He describes his ordinary, uneventful mother. She lived with neither drama, nor newspaper headline, nor high adventure, but she did live with Multiple Sclerosis. She died an “ordinary death,” he says, after living her “ordinary life,” but he concludes, she “did both well.”

Ordinary living can be so common, so uneventful, so tedious, and so repetitive. Young people today find ordinary life so “boring.” I heard George pray probably hundreds of times in church. If I heard him ask once for power, I heard him ask for power a hundred times; he wanted the extraordinary and asked for it often.

The Jews rejected the authority of Jesus because he was too ordinary. He was only a hometown kid, from small-town Nazareth, where everybody knew him as the son of the local carpenter. Born in a Bethlehem manger--an animal compound. Jesus didn‘t even have enough good social graces to even know how to pick his friends.

Jesus chose to run with a bunch of nobodies--fishermen, tax collectors, unsophisticated men. He ate with sinners. He kept mixed company of the questionable kind. He ignored tradition and social custom, even eating his meals with unwashed hands and neglecting all-important Sabbath-keeping laws. Whatever his moral character, he obviously was not of the kingly stature to lead the Hebrews in overthrowing their Roman conquerors or to make them the United States of the Middle East, while ruling from Jerusalem during an imagined Millennium. He just didn’t qualify as somebody significant.

A while back, a young pastor’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. He sent encouraging "half-time" notes when he could, but now he reports a changed outlook following a full course of chemo treatment. Their outlook has changed. In spite of the best Medical Science can offer, this may be their final earthly Christmas together.

A recent CT scan reveals her cancer has grown. In spite of the chemo--in spite of humanity’s best, the cancer has increased in size where it is. Although not spreading elsewhere, it “now appears more resistant“ - and - “there is nothing further than can be done.”

Further options offer “low success rates” and she finds herself “entirely weakened by the normal chemotherapy, so more and harsher therapy is not an option.” Hospice has come in for as long as needed … the present objective being simply to avert pain.

This family lives in what I call the “tediousness of everyday living. “ Nonetheless, their testimony says “Nobody knows how long she will be with me [us] … This is very difficult news to bear. Our hope has certainly been disappointed but our faith in a Heavenly Father, who can still restore her health or who may call her home, is not shaken. He is loving and good, but situation is hard right now for us. Continue to pray for us”, and that is Christmas at their house.

I remember a day not unlike theirs--3-6 months to complete a terminal illness. Somehow, by the Grace of God, my spouse survived and we anticipate our 65th anniversary within the next few weeks--nobodies in the Kingdom of God.

I think of the words of Richard Foster and the birth of a Christmas baby, to an engaged but unmarried girl, betrothed to a carpenter of unknown stature, born in an animal compound. That baby’s birth in Bethlehem was as insignificant as insignificant can get, but it was the beginning of a journey from Bethlehem to Calvary.

At Calvary, that innocent baby found himself a victim of crucifixion. The road from Bethlehem to Calvary is a transforming journey, and somewhere en route that baby became the embodiment of “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but should have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The transformation was such that in the most agonizing and terrible moments of his coming death--nailed to a cross he did not deserve--he held on long enough to extend a word of loving hope, and eternal transformation to a criminal he had never met but who deserved his punishment.

Christmas reminds us that everybody is somebody. There is no such thing as an insignificant being--a nobody. Not in God’s sight! As Ethel Waters used to say, "God don't make no junk!" Meaningless moments do not exist. As we travel from Bethlehem (Christmas) to Calvary (Easter), we find the storyline is not about the church discovering God’s gifts and selfishly enjoying them (or Israel living as King of the Mountain in their political community).

Rather, we find the storyline is about the people of God living as a new community, an outpost where now God dwells and rules, giving allegiance to Him as Lord [rather than to kings and political leaders]. It is about living within that realm wherein “we must obey God rather than human beings (Acts 5:29), and living in-and-under the authority of God--a present authority in this besieged world.

Earth, as we know it, and heaven may be we know not quite where, but they are not that far apart. God’s powerful presence abides and rules in both rooms. Teilhard de Chardin reminds us that the value and interest of life is in the ordinary things rather than the more conspicuous. God is most readily found in the ordinary tediousness of everyday living, including the terminal attacks upon the body by disease and malignancy.

From Warner’s World, Christmas reinforces the reality we experience when we pray “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” God love you and so do I ...

Friday, December 16, 2011

God's Will ... on Earth as...Heaven

The current new reports that Chief executive pay has roared back after two years of stagnation and decline: “America's top bosses enjoyed pay hikes of between 27 and 40%last year, according to the largest survey of US CEO pay.” This dramatic turnaround comes as the latest government figures show wages “for the majority of Americans are failing to keep up with inflation.”

Giving me a face for this story is the veteran nurse I know--hard-working and highly-qualified; she is someone I know has overcome against great odds--severe health issues--to work in a field she loved and respected. Then, the axe fell. She lost her job--unwilling to put her nursing license on the line to support fraudulent claims of an “unqualified” military supervisor who did not accept female equals in his “good ole boy“ system.

Overnight, this highly-skilled industrial nurse that won awards for the lives she saved, went from her very taxing job--well-paying--and good retirement, to no job and no future. This skilled employee was expendable because a government contractor could "bend the rules" and avoid facing legal scrutiny of sometimes operating outside the law.

Not realizing the cards were stacked so high against her, she lived on her retirement fund --until it was gone. Today, she exists from day to day--no income--no future. Unable to find a legitimate job, dependent upon emergency social agencies, she occupies her house, not knowing when the Bank will enforce her unpaid mortgage, which was sold-and-resold leaving a paper trail of legal proportions--of illegal operations.

She lives with circumstances she has not known in her lifetime. She wonders how she got to where she is: she worked long and hard, played by the rules but stayed honest, cared for people, and did everything the right way. I look at her and see a victim of America’s "Corporate Feudalism," in which Corporate CEOs are the 21st century version of Royalty and rule by Divine Right. Peasants (employees) are not of major concern, mere obstructions to those pleasured by divine rule, as it was in the feudalism of the Middle Ages.

After his conversion, William Wilberforce sought out the man he had idolized as a boy, John Newton,former slaver--October 1787. Wilberforce sought Newton’s counsel about how to invest his life as a Christian, thinking probbly he should leave Politics and enter ministry. Newton counseled, “You are the Lord’s servant, and you are in the post He has assigned you.”

Now satisfied that perhaps he could serve God faithfully and remain in parliament, Wilberforce wrote, “God Almighty has sent before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners … Let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its (slavery) Abolition.”

The world honors William Wilberforce as a key component in bringing down the Goliath of human slavery, in spite of impossible odds. Today I pray God’s will be done “on earth” as it is in heaven. This Christmas season is God's reminder that God wants to bless men, women, boys and girls to serve Him in those tedious details of ordinary everyday living.

From Warner’s World,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Such is the Spirit of Christmas

Sunday was our second Sunday of Advent and a pastoral reminder of the coming Christ’s Birthday Offering (CBO), which many churches take at this time every year. With that reminder came the biblical story of Christmas (not the typical marketers version).

Even the President tried to make this point, if you watched the official lighting of the White House Christmas tree. Recognition was given all around, the tree lost in the storm, even Santa Claus. However, when the President spoke, he referenced the Biblical Story and the faith expressed in this Christian Holiday. The reason for the season is the birth of Jesus, called the Christ--Emanuel: God With Us.

“Tis the season of Christmas, that time of the year following Thanksgiving, when business celebrates “Black Friday”, the day the business community recognizes as the success of American marketers in hijacking Christmas as a secular holiday for receiving gifts and doing 40% or so of their annual business.

I have no problem with gift-giving. I love the spirit of the holiday season. Yesterday, when I came through the Wal-mart line, I handed the clerk several twenty-dollar bills and reached for the change in my pocket. As luck would have it, I came up 2 pennies short, which meant breaking my last $20 bill. Immediately, the lady behind me handed a coin to the clerk and said “Merry Christmas” to me.

Thanking her, I spoke directly to her and her elderly mother sitting in her wheeklchair: “I’m glad you said “Merry Christmas rather than happy holidays.” Without batting an eyelash, she replied, “Without Christ, there is no Christmas!” I left the store with my cart of groceries, but not before leaving with her my blessing of peace: “And may His Peace be yours… “
Such is the Spirit of Christmas.

When I opened my most recent gas bill for the month, it had a seasonal flyer from Semco Energy reminding me of the Spirit of the Season. This special assistance edition informed me how I could apply for Home Heating Credit, if I needed it, or how I could make it easier for someone else that needed it.
Such is the Spirit of Christmas.

Another piece of mail offered me “The Most Important Gift Catalogue in the World” … for people still looking for the perfect gift. Inside, I learned about Since 1944, Heifer International has brought hope and healing to impoverished families (13.6 million) in more than 125 countries.

One example is Citu Liviu, whose family in Plostina, Romania improved their nutrition through sheep received from Heifer supporters. Nsangou Rachidatou, from Cameroon, has a heifer that provides her family with milk to drink while profiting from the yogurt she makes and sells to enhance their limited income.
Such is the Spirit of Christmas.

From my Clay City, KY friend, Don Curtis, came this flyer from “Children’s Lifeline,” founded by Arnold Lemke of Buchanan, MI. Don is president/CEO and spends much of his time in Haiti. By utilizing I could buy a laying hen for $15 and improve the poverty of a Haitian family; they already feed 8,300 children a day. My support would help provide medical care for Haitian children who would otherwise be without such care, or a gift of $4,500 would provide a block home for a homeless family.Such is the Spirit of Christmas.

I don’t recall the goal of our church's Christ’s Birthday Offering (CBO) --I think a few thousand dollars. I know it will help support Christian missionaries abroad. It will enable our church agencies to further perform functions that have become vital to our institutional church life. Most of all, it will enable our congregations to continue cooperatively sharing God’s love story, and I consider that of vital importance to our networking, as well as to our relating as a global community. I believe, of such is the true Spirit of Christmas.

Now, I know that business must make money to stay in business, but I would feel better about it if business did not hijack a religious holiday for the purpose of private profit. I have no objection to giving gifts, but how much better that we teach the true spirit of Christmas--more about giving and less about receiving.

From Warner’s World,
I believe that bible verse that says it is better to give than to receive, and I am concerned that we be more about giving than about receiving, for of such is the true Spirit of Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Absurd Turkey Terrorist

En route home from the Post Office moments ago, I heard the most absurd turkey story on Michigan Public Radio. It prompted me to look for it online. I found numerous stories of turkey encounters from Louisiana to New Jersey, but not the one I just heard. So, I'll just recount what of it I can.

It seems an animal-loving couple lived either on Long Island, or a nearby coastal island where residents enjoyed semi-rural living, accompanied by a herd of 30-40 wild turkeys. One day this couple rescued a young turkey from the clutches of a predatory hawk. They patched the wounded bird and raised it as a pet, where it eventually became a large and somewhat ferocious Tom.

Whether this big bird was attached and protective of his owners property or was just territorial with the flock he controlled, this big bird became the nemesis of this neighborhood. He kept neighbors and everybody at a safe distance from that property, which I understood was a place that frequently hosted children.

One day, as luck would have it, two delivery people came, only to be attacked by this terrorist, supported by his 30-40 followers. Thinking of children and a fearful encounter, the delivery people called 911 for the local police. Two officers soon arrived and immediately encountered the terrorizing tom. He put one officer to flight, and prompted firepower response from the second officer. This stalwart six-footer, finally shot the bird in self-defense.

A couple shots brought the homeowner flying out into the yard. He arose in defense of his pet turkey and attacked the offending officer shooting his pet. This brought the mistress of the house into the fracas. She called the State Police, because the local officers had her husband handcuffed and were shooting their pet turkey.

Four-or five shots were finally fired, the turkey was killed and bagged for evidence. The police collectively arrested the homeowner for assaulting an officer et al, and jailed him. The case dragged on for 2½ years and $30,000 before being settled, the neighbors being well-pleased that their terrorist had been eliminated.

I listened to this story spin for several minutes--the absurd turkey terrorist, as the reporter narrated a lengthy history. It captivated me, taking me back half a century, to when my 10-year-old son was a fifth grader in Yazoo City, MS.

We were part of a large contingent of rural families, one of whom lived 20 miles over in the Delta, near Sartartia, MS. One Sunday, Rex and Marguerite invited us home for dinner--all-afternoon event,and we had evening church in those days. Our hosts owned numerous farm animals and our children were free to roam, explore, play and and be children.

The one deterrent to safety was their overly aggressive turkey tom that they laughingly cautioned us against. Big Rex was perhaps 230 pounds, and able to protect himself, admitted to sometimes being hassled by this obnoxious bird.

Everyone laughed except my son’s mother! She had already warned her son to do whatever he needed, to protect himself from this bird. Midafternoon, the kids were being kids, and that turkey decided to do what he did best; he attacked our undersized son. After the fact, we learned that this preacher’s kid had his baseball bat and when the affronting terrorist made an offensive pass at him, he took careful aim, and with a Babe Ruth swing, laid "Big Tom" stretched flat on the ground - out colder than a mackerel.

This good little "PK", was afraid of offending our hosts, but as I recall, they took it in good stride. They were not at all offended, but our kids had a few terrorizing moments--before and after--wondering what it was all about.

Privately at home, we had a good family laugh, figuring the terrorizing-tom got exactly what he deserved. Moreover, we were the proud parents of an undersized-kid who, inspiteof his small-stature, did not lack in fortitude and bravery.

We raised our two to be children; we expected them to enjoy their childhood. They have long since become adults, but they have faced life with the bravery that goes with knowing who you are as human beings, and they have faced life with integrity, and I could not ask more than that.

Oh yes, that big tom finally revived after a spell. He staggered to his feet, shook his head, and stumbled off to the barnyard. From Warner's World, I can tell you he didn’t chase people any more after that -