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I had a little talk with Jesus

I invited Jesus into my heart and He stopped by for a visit.

I heard a knock at the front door (I rarely have visitors) and expected to find a Jehovah’s Witness.

To my surprise, it was Jehovah Himself!JesusKnocking

“Come on in, I’m surprised to see you,” I said.

“Why,” He answered, “I’ve been here all along. Let’s have a little talk.”

We sat in my living room and had a great conversation.

“Can I offer you something to drink?”

“Communion wine would be nice,” He said with a smile.

“I’d offer you supper, but all I have is some Pepperidge Farm whole wheat bread and two pieces of leftover fried flounder from a Father’s Day dinner at the country club.”

He laughed out loud, “You KNOW what I could do with that!”

Then He added, “A glass of room temperature chianti would be nice, you do have some red wine glasses don’t you?”

“I’m charmed with your sense of humor. I knew for sure you had a good one when you matched me up with my last wife.”

He smiled again, an engaging “You’ve been forgiven and I love you smile.”

He nodded at her photograph and said, “No doubt you feel her love every day.”

“Yes, every day. Thanks for the assurance, what a blessing.”

“You know I inspired Ms. Crosby to write the hymn, “Blessed Assurance.”

“You’ve been busy inspiring us for a long time. I just finished reading a book about the Bible and I’m confident you surely inspired the authors of the original manuscripts. I’ve had my doubts about all the translations and transcriptions.”

I got the wine, poured us each a glass, and He asked with a conspiratorial wink, “Did you get it from the spigot?”

“When we moved into this house, the neighbors told us it had a good well and the water was delicious. This came from a bottle of Bell’Agio, you know the kind with the basket around the bottom?”

“One of my colleagues was hidden in a basket.”

“We have no bullrushes here in the mountains–maybe in the swamps of South Louisiana.”

“There’s a question I’ve always wanted to ask you, if you don’t mind.”

“Shoot.”

“Are you very religious?”

“Hmmm….well, I was raised Catholic. John Paul II visited New Orleans didn’t he.”

“Yes,” I answered, “back in 1987.”
“Thirty-two years ago, not even a drop in the ocean the way I keep time.”

He glanced around my living room, which is really a library. Three walls are lined with books. Over the mantle is a shelf on which are some of the books that have had significant influence on my life including the Holy Bible.

There are several copies, in different versions, including one of those with what Jesus said in RED.

As His gaze lowered from the books, He turned towards me and our eyes met. We were thinking the same thing.

I said, “You can tell me how many hairs on my head, but have you read one of those red letter editions lately?”

“Not in a long while.”

“Do you have a preferred version?”

His eyes lit up and he flashed a wicked smile (Is that possible?) and said with a chuckle, “To quote some of my followers from Kentucky, ‘If the King James version was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”

We shared another laugh and each had a sip of chianti.

I refilled our glasses.

He walked over to the shelf and picked up my large print edition, “Don’t worry, I don’t need glasses, this is the one with red print.”

“Have you ever considered doing stand up?” I couldn’t resist asking.

“You should have heard me as a teen in the synagogue! Remember, I’m Jewish. I wrote some of Dangerfield’s best material. You think that guy got no respect? Heaven, I gave him that whole schtick about no respect.”

I love this guy!

He found the New Testament and started turning pages faster than I could imagine–He reads fast!

Every now and then, He would stop, point to a passage and exclaim, “I never said that!”

“Or that.”

“Or this one. Unbelievable!”

“I’ve been misquoted.”

I was stunned. “Your saying something got lost in translation?”

“I bet you didn’t know I wrote most of the script for that movie. Bill Murray is one of my favorite actors, well, and of course, Charlton Heston.”

Then He continued, “Are you familiar with the word, ‘gnostic?”

“Yes,” I said. “It comes from the Greek word, ‘gnostos’ when meant, ‘known.’ Today we use ‘gnostic’ to refer to knowledge.”

“Very good, Chip. Now, on a related topic, I’m sure you’re familiar with a collection of items being symmetrical, such as both sides of a building. What happens if you add the prefix, ‘A?’”

“It becomes asymmetrical, without symmetry.”

“Put that same letter in from of gnostic and you’ve got a category of folks who don’t know what to believe.”

“Agnostic.”

“Looking through this revised new English jive version of what’s happening now, it’s no wonder there are so many agnostics in the world–they don’t know what to believe!”

I was speechless.

He could tell by the expression on my face.

We stood, He placed His hand on my shoulder, and said, “Just remember what John and Paul said because they got it right.”

I asked, “The Apostles?”

“No, the Beatles. All you need is love. I am love. Peace be with you Chip.”

He turned and although He left the room physically, I know He’ll always be close.

On What Day Did Jesus Die?

(Bible quotations for this article are all from the King James Version distributed by the Gideons.)Gideon Bible

John 19:14, “And it (the day of crucifixion) was the preparation of the passover…”

    Jesus appeared before Pilate, is ordered to be executed, and is taken off and crucified.

But wait,

the author of the Gospel known as, “Mark,” writes in Chapter 14:12, “And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover (lambs), his disciples said unto him, ‘Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?’”

And then in verse 18, “And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, ‘Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.”

 

Hmm…According to this writing, Jesus clearly survived the day of the preparation because he ate the Passover meal with his disciples (the Last Supper) in the “Upper Room.”

DaVinci Last Supper

Image credit: wikicommons

One possible reason for this obvious discrepancy,

according to Bart D. Ehrman,Ph.D., Professor of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, “Is it possible that John has changed historical data to make a theological point, that he’s changed the day and hour of Jesus’ death precisely to show that Jesus really was the Lamb, who was slain on the same day and at the same hour (and at the hands of the same people–the chief priests!) as the Passover lamb?”  This explanation would confirm the identification of Jesus as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” John 1:29, 36.

Should discrapancies between Gospel accounts be considered “errors?”

Does it matter to you if the accounts of the New Testament are historically accurate?

It does to me, for reasons of my own, which are satisfactory to me.

Santa Claus — Today’s Guest Blogger

I DON’T KNOW IF THERE IS A GOD, BUT IF THERE IS, LOOK FOR FOUR PAWS AND A WET NOSE

We pet lovers all have our own ways in which we grieve over that inevitable time when we have to say good bye.

In my case, knowing that our dog for the past ten years would die of terminal cancer near his brain, I had plenty of time to plan. Plenty of time because instead of needing to be euthanized quickly given the outlook, with great hospice and vet care he would ultimately live 5 months post diagnosis.

That was fortunate for me. I am Santa Claus and upon learning the news in early December last year, I dreaded the Christmas season for obvious reasons. Hard to be jolly, knowing he was home waiting for me after an assignment. That progressively wasting muscle loss near his beautiful eyes…heart wrenching. And don’t even ask how I handled the kid who wanted a puppy. Santa n Chenji

But he made it through December and all the way till early May when the vet, my wife and I all knew it was time. The ashes were given to me shortly after Chenji’s passing. (We actually had chosen to have his euthanasia at home. Some readers may be unaware of that personal and comforting option. Worth discussing with your vet). My plan afterward was pretty simple. Scattering those ashes according to a memorable timetable.

At the one month mark it was to be in our backyard near the azalea bush he posed in front of just before his death. My wife and I both scattered a small handful there. 

Chenji n AzaleaAt the two month mark I arranged to meet the friend who gave Chenji to us. She had found him, abandoned, under a tree in a local park in September 2008. That seemed like a perfect location to leave some more of his ashes. At the very spot where he came into our lives.

The three month milestone was this past week. It would be at another park where we took him just a few weeks after adding him to our home. Though always good about coming back to us when off leash – that day – Christmas morning – he did not return. My theory is that he took off after some deer. His predator instinct was too overpowering for him to think about returning. Luckily and astonishingly, by the time we got back home, a man was waiting for us with Chenji in his car. He found him on a street heading for our house three miles – and several busy streets – away. So that was Christmas miracle #1 and added to #2 (surviving for all of last December) he and Santa had clearly forged a special bond. 

First CMas

First Christmas together.

So there I was last week. I am only yards away from where Chenji was likely found ten years ago. I am gently holding that Santa tin which contains his ashes. I deposit some of them there and near a dog park across the street where he was “banished” for being too aggressive playing with other dogs the first few weeks we had him. (A problem which occasionally did surface with our otherwise perfect pooch). So, all the while I am promising him that he is now in a “dog park” where he cannot be banished, and offering up some Rainbow Bridge stuff, I start walking back to my truck. Talking to him some more through my tears. It’s then that I spot the three deer. Two smaller ones and a large one. I am nowhere near enough to be a threat and they saunter off.

Suddenly, the large one freezes and stares directly at us. Our eyes lock. And the communing with nature begins. A remote possibility this is the deer Chenji was chasing 10 years earlier? Perhaps its offspring? No way to tell. But in that moment, I felt some real spiritual force at work. After almost a full poignant minute, the deer goes to join the others but not before one last gaze at Chenji and me.

As if to say “here’s looking at you kid”.

A sentiment that all three of us could have said of the other two.

What is true?

I never said he stole money.

Well, the truth of the matter is, “I NEVER said he stole money.”

No, wait, I meant, “I never SAID he stole money.”

But really, I said, “I never said HE stole money.”

And so on.

Changing the word that gets the emphasis, the meaning of the sentence changes. It can change six times.

What did the person hearing it perceive? Perception is reality.

Suppose the hearer was a reporter with a bias against whomever said it. How would it be reported?Fake News

Before publishing their story, would the reporter have taken the time to investigate what happened to cause the subject to use the above six words?

If you’re old enough to remember Watergate, you remember Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post would not publish anything Woodward and Bernstein wrote without two corroborating sources.

Now, suppose you heard someone of importance use the above six words with NO emphasis on any particular one.

And suppose you had a personal bias against the “he” who may have stolen. We all hear what we want or expect to hear. Those six words would delight our senses and confirm our suspicions.

What is the truth?Truth

Can reality be relative to the perceptions of the hearer?

What about the speaker?

Whom do you trust to tell you the truth?

Recently I shared an item on Facebook from a friend. It was a link to a website and featured a headline expressing surprise that in light of what appears to be a popular tax cut, the opposing party announced plans to tout a tax increase in their efforts to gain influence in  congress in the 2018 midterms. It quickly provoked a comment from a real life friend of mine questioning the source. I asked why that would be important if the information turned out to be true?

To be fair, it has been my contention for over sixty years that all news outlets and media are biased. As polarized as the country is now, it’s hard to find a middle of the road source of information (notice I avoided the word, “news?”)

If you listen to or read readily available (notice I didn’t say “main stream?) information, you can rely on two things:

  1. It will be biased.
  2. Regardless of the bias, it will conform to the age old motto of news media, “Never let the truth interfere with a good story.”

Good stories sell.

Choose your poison.

Are we any closer to the truth?

In court, it’s long been commonly accepted that eyewitness accounts are unreliable.  When there are more than two, they seldom agree. Now, with the advances in video technology, is video tape trustworthy? I recently heard even the Zapruder film had been altered.

Can we trust online fact checkers?

My friends on the left like Snopes while my friends on the right prefer FactCheck. They both cite major funding sources as their reason not to trust.

What about a situation in which someone you trust throws you a curve? An old friend sent out and email to his list of friends.  I quickly identified it as a joke. It was masquerading as a newspaper article. Some recipients thought it was factual and replied with concerns for a professional who had supposedly been caught in a dalliance with a patient. He reports to his own amazement about half of the recipients thought it factual–despite the inherent absurdity.

Is the truth relative?

I’ve always appreciated the axiom that “perception is reality.” If how we perceive information is in fact what we interpret as truth, then whether or not something is in fact true, is like beauty.

It’s in the eye of the beholder–no matter the source.

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[NOTE: Special thanks to my good friend Art Hoffman for suggesting this topic.]

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Book Review: Gentlemen of the Golden Age By Sven Raphael Schneider

How do you feel when you’re wearing your favorite clothes?

How does it make you feel when you attend an event and receive compliments on your attire?

Now put the two together.Cover

Isn’t it great when you receive compliments and you’re dressed in your favorite outfit?

For some of us, that outfit consists of jeans, an oxford button down boasting your favorite college football team, and dark brown penny loafers.

For others, it’s a custom made,double breasted blue suit, French cuffs, subtle cufflinks, and black Allen Edmonds toe cap lace ups. Don’t forget the tie and pocket square.

Clothes make the man?

How about accessories? A nice assortment of pocket squares, neck, and bowties, increases the number of outfits exponentially.

Carly Simon said, “These are the good old days.”

With an awareness of historical fashion and the genealogy of today’s trends in menswear, you can make the present your own “golden age” of gentlemanly attire.

In his book, Gentlemen of the Golden Age, Sven Raphael Schneider offers readers valuable insight and interesting historical facts to enlighten, entertain, and inspire.

What was the “golden age” for men’s fashion? (It wasn’t the roaring twenties.)

Did you know that today’s business suit wasn’t always the preferred attire for executives? (There was no such thing as casual Fridays.)

What’s the difference in a “lounge suit,” a “leisure suit,” and a “travel suit?”Travel Suit

Which is more formal, a single or double breasted jacket?

Who were the pace setters in the States whose influence earned a moniker of its own?

Can you wear white in the winter?

Which men’s magazine started in 1933 and soon became the most influential publication in the menswear industry?

The author provides the answers to these and many more questions in an easy to read conversational style.

While some historical trends are outdated (think corduroy tennis attire!) Schneider says, “…knowing what is historically correct will often make you look more refined.”

Cruise AttireGentlemen of the Golden Age is divided into four sections, each illustrated with classic images from the era by Laurence Fellows. After the introduction, readers are treated to details on suits, combinations, overcoats, and sports/leisure. In the chapter on combinations, we learn how to break the rules and still look smart. Learn which overcoat to buy if you plan to own only one. (It’s important for those who want to look dapper.) In the chapter on sports and leisure I asked myself, “What do you wear when you’re watching L.S.U. football games?” (Seersucker and white bucks of course!)

Do you own a “TV jacket?”

In the end, Mr. Schneider encourages those concerned about “over dressing,” with this reminder, “The point of dressing well is to enjoy it while expressing yourself and your personality.”

Gentlemen of the Golden Age is currently available only as an e-book and is available online, in some cases at no charge.
Interested in learning more of the rules, so you’ll know which ones you want to break, and when it’s alright to do so? Check out Schneider’s site, Gentleman’s Gazette for hundreds of videos and articles. If you’re ready to beef up your wardrobe with attention-getting accessories, check out the offerings of Fort Belvedere HERE.  Posters of Fellows art can be purchased HERE.

If you have more than one necktie in your closet, this book should be on your Kindle, I recommend it enthusiastically.

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(Images used with the written permission of Sven Raphael Schneider.)

All I Want for Christmas is….JAZZ!

Have you heard it yet?David Ian

I haven’t.

But then, I have been neither to the mall nor any big box retail stores.

It won’t be long.

 

When you do, it probably won’t sound like David Ian’s new CD, “Vintage Christmas Trio.”

Ian fans will recognize this as the long-awaited follow up to his debut, “Vintage Christmas,” and appreciate his minimalist approach.

We long for the opportunity to take a seat in a small village restaurant/speakeasy and find the entertainment is a jazz trio: piano, drums, and bass.

Slip this CD into your player and be transported to just such a location.

Ian’s performance and arrangements take the listener to another era, the same one from which our favorite Christmas songs were born.

Ian selects a group of familiar tunes–you’ve heard them all.

The ten track instrumental-only collection opens with a swinging version of “Deck the Halls,” and ends with “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

In the middle, he covers the Kings (We Three and Wenceslas) and the bells (on Christmas Day and Silver) along with a nice blend of religious and secular pieces.

The trio is completed by bass man, Jon Estes and drummer Josh Hunt.

Jazz aficionados will delight in Ian’s arrangements (with a bit of Bach and blues) while the casual listener will appreciate the ease with which they discern the melodies.

Don’t wait to hear it in the mall.

Treat yourself to some happy sounds today, HERE.

Two Short Reviews of Two Long Books

In the age of instant gratification and e-books, it seems as though today’s readers feel the two most important words in any book are, “The End.”  

Long books never bothered me.

I’ve been a fan of James Michener since the mid-seventies, and books with 500 plus pages don’t scare me off, although I’ve read neither War and Peace nor Gone With the Wind.

Some readers like excruciating detail.

Many readers require facts ad nauseam to be convinced.

And some of us, who may already be leaning in the direction of the author, need bare bones evidence to resolve the doubt.

Here then is my take on two best sellers.

Borders

¡Adios, America! by Ann Coulter

51b5v2tjzyl-_ac_us218_This book reputedly helped shape President Trump’s policies on immigration. Readers whose views are contrary to Coulter’s right-wing conservative point of view will discount the source and mostly choir members will hear her sermon. [My thoughts on consideration of sources will be the topic of a future blog.]

Hers is a simple message:

  1. Secure the border
  2. Decide what to do with illegals already here.

She advocates logical, clear cut solutions to these issues (including why she opposes amnesty.) Her fellow travelers will need little convincing. For everyone else, there’s almost four hundred thoroughly documented pages.

Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster

51sri6l5rrl-_ac_us218_The current United States National Security Advisor wrote this scathing indictment of a previous president in 1997. He presents undisputed evidence (much of which only became available in the mid-nineties) to show how President Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff got us into the Southeast Asian quagmire commonly referred to as, “Viet Nam.”lbj-jfk-death-stare

McMaster’s opus (hailed with numerous accolades from his peers and historians) reiterates two points clearly:

  1. A sitting president will do anything, ANYTHING, to get re-elected.
  2. The first casualty of any war: the truth.

If you’re in the aforementioned category who likes details, you’ll be delighted to find McMaster gives lengthy examinations of the personal relationships and interactions of the characters involved.

I recommend both books.

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