Gaga Gags Me

It was about a month after the start of the New Year in 1964 that the Beatles made their first live TV performance on the Ed Sullivan Show (See the video here). I was 1 of the 73 million people who sat in front of the TV to see what would become a watershed moment within the music industry.  In stark contrast to Gaga, who seems to be a Lady only in name, there was nothing vulgar about the Beatles performance on the night of February 9, 1964. There is no way I could have sung the lyrics to a Gaga song when I was a kid. I mean, the Christmas release of one of her songs was filled with the F bomb, and language like that got me sent to the bathroom so often, I could tell you what brand of soap was in my mouth just by the taste of it.

Eight years before the Beatles made their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, 60 million people gathered in the comfort of their living rooms to watch Elvis Presley (See the video here). There was a whole lot of shaking going on that evening, but it was nothing compared to what gags me about Gaga.

In the 55 or so years from the Ed Sullivan to now, what has happened to our sense of decency? I’m not suggesting that Elvis or the Beatles were ever a beacon of morality, but we have digressed since their first performances. What’s the diference?  Some would say it is the laws of our nation.

I don’t believe the answer can be found in the formation of new laws, but in the forgotten customs and traditions that need to be remembered. It was President John Adams who said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Adams, Franklin and others seemed to believe there is a connection to the principles of the Ten Commandments and the path a nation follows. It is a path that our rights without responsibilities culture wants to avoid. Because today’s society is deaf to the constraints of Thou shalt not, behavior is unrestrained.

When Solomon encouraged his people to keep the “ancient landmarks” intact, I believe he was speaking about their customs and traditions as well physical structures. Customs and traditions are landmarks that help to regulate an individual and a nation much like a computer chip regulates the speed of a car–no chip means no limits.
A society that is void of customs and traditions is a society that lacks civility. You may call me an old fuddy duddy, but Lady Gaga gags me.

Don King and the Church of the Nativity

What do Don King and the Church of the Nativity have in common? King has promoted some of the biggest fights in the history of professional boxing, and the Church of the Nativity has become the site of some recent sparring.

The Church of the Nativity is built over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth in the city of Bethlehem. Because of its location, three Christian denominations consider it to be holy ground. Long simmering tensions between the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian clergy led to unholy war on Wednesday of this week.

Each group is responsible for cleaning a specific area of the church, and two of the three groups were cleaning in preparation for January 6 celebrations—the day they believe Jesus was born. To clean a part of the church is to lay claim to that part of the structure.

Well, a border war broke out when the Armenians and theGreeks focused on dirt that was beyond their boundaries. Disputes such as this have left the roof in disrepair and the leaky roof has led to the ruin of valuable pieces of art.

Relationships are strained and border wars erupt when a person violates the rights of another. Why is it that we want to focus on the dirt in the life of another and not address the scum within our own? Do we think that shining the light on the misdeeds of others is the best was to keep ours hidden in the shadows?

Perhaps the caretakers of the manger’s scene should give some thought to the manger’s Savior. Jesus said: Instead of focusing on the toothpick in your brother’s eye, you should take a look at the 2X4 in your own eye.

Aesop’s Fables

Many of my Summer days were spent at El Dorado Lake fishing or at Bluestem Lake water skiing.  There were those days, however, when Mother Nature did not cooperate, and I was forced to spend the day inside.

On those long dreary days, card games were played, and even Rock, Paper, Scissors was used to occupy my time.  On one particularly boring day, my creative geniuse gave birth to a new game: Pants, Fist, Cement.  Even though it was a game of my making,  I only played it once.

To play Pants, Fist, Cement, the participant needs just a few things:

  • Big feet
  • A less than slim body
  • A pair of super slim jeans
  • A cement wall

The game starts when a less-than-slim-bodied kid with bigger-than-average-feet endeavors to stick his feet through the small leg hole of the super slim jeans.  When the big feet will not go through the small hole, the brilliant teenager hops madly to a basement wall.  When the frustrated and now deranged kid arrives at the wall, he slams his fist against the cement. 

There you have it:  Pants, Fist, Cement.  The lesson learned was as good as any that you can find in the pages of Aesop’s Fables:  Hardened cement wall trumps fist and super slim jeans put the squeeze on big feet.  In retrospect, it would have been better to break a fashion trend instead of my hand.

Solomon was right:  A quick tempered man acts foolishly.

Marino Was–Brees Is

Dan Marino has been a household name to sports fans for many years.  His accomplishments on the field as the quarterback for the Miami Dolphins were legendary.  He has had the distinction for the past 27 years of holding the NFL record for passing yardage—5,084 yards in a single season.

On Monday Night Football this week, Marino’s historic record was surpassed.   By the end of the game, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had reserved his spot in the Hall of Fame with his 307 yard performance which brought his season high total to 5,087 yards.

When Brees threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to former Kansas State standout Darren Sproles, it helped to underscore another record:  Brees is the first NFL quarterback to have two 5,000 plus yard seasons.

In thinking about the record that was Marino’s and the one that is now in the possession of  Brees, I realized how often was-words are appearingin my vocabulary.

In a coffee-shop-discussion earlier in the week, I had recollected about something I had done when a teenager and made a remark about a friend who was a good athlete in high school.  If a person is not careful, his life can morph into a series of has-been-moments robbing him of a productive life of vital “is” endeavors.

If a person’s main focus is on the has-been-segments of his life, he is bound to stumble through the present and trip into the future.  This was the case with Moses and his often unhappy tribe.

After Moses had led them out of slave-like labor to the Egyptians and took them to the threshold of the Promised Land, they rebelled and turned back.  Only two people wanted to move forward—Joshua and Caleb.

The faith of Caleb never wavered, and he remained steadfast for another 40 years of wandering through the desert.  When he returned to the edge of the Promised Land with a new and younger generation following him, he made one request:  Give me this mountain.

Instead of wasting his life complaining about what had happened 40 years earlier and focusing on his many trials,Caleb was always looking forward to the next goal in life.  His dedication to the present and his preparation for the future had him ready to conquer giants.

People like Drew Brees and Caleb, are people of faith and dedication, and they provide us a worthy example to follow.

A Birthday Tribute

Dateline  21 August 1944:  Second Lieutenant Robert L.Saferite….  shot down over France….captured by enemy forces…. 

After completing 38 missions and 100 combat hours flying a P 47, Pop was shot down, captured, and force-marched to Germany.  On the way to the German POW camp known as Stalag Luft #1, his feet froze.  He spoke very little of the hardships he endured as a POW.  On May 1, 1945, he and fellow POWs were liberated by the Russians.

Although he died on December 13, 2009, today is Pop’s birthday.  Had he lived, he would be 90 today.  The picture at the bottom of the page was taken on Pop’s 80th birthday. The members of S Troop (the blended Saferite and Seymour clan) pooled their money and bought Pop some flight time in a T-6 Texan.  Pop never lost his touch as a pilot.  He took the controls of this plane and did a few loops and rolls. 

After the death of my dad (Eddie Seymour) in 1965, Mom married Bob Saferite (Pop).  He was my father figure for over 40 years—I could not have asked for a better step-dad.

From my dad, I learned: Any job worth doing is worth doing right.  From Pop, I learned:    A man is only as good as his word. 

As I think about Pop today, I do so with a great deal of love and gratitude, and I say: I can still feel the touch of the pilot who has guided me for the larger portion of my life.  I give honor to his memory today.

Happy Birthday, Pop!

Odds Are

Chances are there will be an increase in traffic due to the casino opening near Mulvane.  To handle this problem, Troop G will hire four more troopers to work the turnpike in this area.

I think it is a sure bet that there will be more real losers than jackpot winners at the new casino.  Truth is, the odds are not stacked in favor of those who choose to roll the dice.  Let me share the odds of a few other things with you.

The odds of:
1.  Actually dying from a natural disaster are 1 in 3,357
2.  Being killed by lightning: 2,320,000 to 1
3.  Bowling a perfect 300 game: 11,500 to 1
4.  A fan catching a ball at a major league ballgame: 563 to 1
5.  Hitting it big on a slot machine 1 in262,144.
6.  Being dealt a Royal Flush in 5 cards is 1 in49,739
7.  Picking thefive correct white balls in Powerball out of 55 as well as the correct red ball out of 42 towin the grand prize are 1 in 146,107,962

Scripture gives us a sobering statistic with staggering odds: People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Odds are, these are chances we might want to consider.


Towards the end of each year, a list is published that announces new words that have been added to our vocabulary. According to the Global Language Monitor, Tebowing is now an officially recognized word.

Tebowing is defined as the act of taking a knee in prayer during an athletic contest.   Whenever Tebow experiences success on the football field, this quarterback drops to a knee and gives thanks to God.
As the Denver Broncos field general, Tim Tebow has gained much notoriety. What our history starved citizens may not know is that he is not the first general to bend a knee to acknowledge God.
In the dead of night on December 25, 1776, George Washington led his rag tag army across the treacherous waters of the Delaware River. This surprise attack against the British allied forces at Trenton turned the tide of the Revolutionary War.  Washington’s prayer life is depicted in several historical paintings, and it is recorded in history.
On this Christmas Day, I encourage you to learn a lesson from a couple of well known generals:  Bend your knee and give thanks for the birth of Jesus  Christ.

Fill It Up

As I wrote the title for this post, it occurred to me that the phrase, fill it up, might be a bit archaic.  Due to the fact that the once prominent full service gas station has dwindled to a few in number, not many people pull up to a gas pump and say:  Fill it up.

Getting filled-up was the daily goal of my family as we gathered around the dinner table each evening.  This was also a time of conversation between family members that would, at times, end with a curious conclusion.

One evening, word had reached Mom and Pop about an incident at school.  I was identified as the perpetrator and the crime was hurting the feelings of some (probably dumb) girl.  So the conversation developed around how you can hurt the feelings of another person and what should be done when you do.

My youngest brother, Jeff, was about seven at the time, and he proudly joined the discussion by saying, I have feelings too, see!  He opened his mouth to display his dental work and pointed to the fillings in his teeth.

Over the years, I’ve come to believe that a person’s feelings about self in particular and the world in general are closely connected to what fills that person’s life.  Issues such as this deal with the concept of reciprocity, and it can be understood in terms of guilt and entitlement.

Guilty people feel they have given too little or received too much.  On the other end of the spectrum, entitled people feel they have given too much or received too little.  The thinking of these people is skewed when it comes to their obligations to others and the obligations of others to them. 

Because the life of the guilty and the entitled are filled with misconceptions, their feelings are little more than deceptions.  With this in mind, let me share an old adage of mine:  You may not be what you think you are, but what you think, you are.

So, when it comes to life, we need to fill it up with the right things.    To accomplish this, a person can take a mental step in the right direction by thinking on the right things.

Feeling A Little Scroogie?

How have the holidays been going for you this year?  Have you been the dispenser of gratitude orgriping?  Truth is, some people would rather choke to-death than sing Joy To The World.  And, by golly, there is no way in the world they will allow themselves to have a Holly Jolly Christmas.

Think I’m mistaken? Think again.  According to arecent Consumer Reports telephone survey of 1,013 people:
·        68 % of people hate the crowds and long lines during the holidays
·        37% could do without the weight gain and getting into debt
·        28% said gift shopping made them feel likeScrooge
·        25% of people said traveling, seeing certain relatives and seasonal music were all things they dreaded
·        15 % of people told Consumer Reports that being nice was a holiday downer
If you identify with all the findings of this survey, I have a New Year’s resolution for you.  Repeat after me:  I will not be a Scrooge in 2012.
As we get closer to the new year, we can benefit from the words of the apostle Paul—forget the past and move forward.

The Words We Use

When Jennifer was about to graduate from high school, I took her to Pittsburg, Kansas to check out the college.  As the graduate assistant took us on a tour of the campus, she pointed to a building and said:  This is the building that houses our astrology department.  I suggested that she ask her supervisor about her choice of words and said it was most likely the astronomy department.  She remarked:  Oh, is there a difference?

Words that sound the same and look a bit similar, often have totally different meanings.  Think about cosemtologist and cosmology.  It can be said that both words deal with some aspect of beauty.  Both words have cosmos (an orderly or harmonious system) as a prefix.  Cosmetologist comes from a Greek word that means skilled in adornment.  Cosmology is a discipline of philosophy that focuses on the origin and general structure of the universe.

People use different words to express truth as they understand it.  When it comes to cosmology, the aborgine in the picture below will express his view of the world system in a different manner than would a scientist or a theologian.

Matt Slick explains the cosmological argument:

  1. Things exist.
  2. It is possible for those things to not exist.
  3. Whatever has the possibility of non existence, yet exists, has been caused to exist.
    1. Something cannot bring itself into existence, since it must exist to bring itself into existence, which is illogical.
  4. There cannot be an infinite number of causes to bring something into existence.
    1. An infinite regression of causes ultimately has no initial cause, which means there is no cause of existence.
    2. Since the universe exists, it must have a cause.
  5. Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause of all things.
  6. The uncaused cause must be God.

Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) had a version of the Cosmological Argument called the Argument from Motion. He stated that things in motion could not have brought themselves into motion but must be caused to move. There cannot be an infinite regression of movers. Therefore, there must be an Unmoved Mover. This Unmoved Mover is God.

By the way, alot of time has passed since Jennifer was a high school senior.