Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Outgoing Introvert

Laughter fills the air, as a group of people young and old gleefully gathers around a tall figure expressively singing about such things as how one hippopotami can’t get on a bus (because, of course, one hippopotami is two hippopotamus), and laughing all the more as he then demonstrates the correct method to remove peanut butter from the roof of one’s mouth.
That figure is my father. Tall, with what hair he has left graying at the temples, and with keen green eyes, my father is the picture of reserve and respectability; until, of course, you see his long frame stoop to form a snowball from behind a snow fort as those eyes twinkle with an almost adolescent glee. But which comes more naturally? Is he engaging and outgoing? Or is he reserved and reflective? Though many see only the former, as his son I see more than first meets the eye. Born just outside St. Louis, Missouri on September the 16th, 1950, my father was the youngest out of four children. Properly named Richard, he was quickly dubbed “Little Richie”, and was referred to as such in all but the most formal occasions.

Small for his age, “Little Richie” was also extremely shy, so much so that, as my Dad would later recall, he would “blush at the slightest glance” in his direction. Though he had a sharp sense of humor, his bashfulness would often interfere and the thoughts he would otherwise share he kept to himself. Still, young Richard lived a care free, happy life, unaware of any financial struggle. His father worked at the local cement plant to support his family, and brought just enough to make ends meet. “We were poor, but we didn’t know it at the time”, he told me with a chuckle. He, with the rest of his family, was raised in a small country house on the outskirts of town. Not exactly living in the country, they nonetheless raised a few chickens for eggs, and an old Guernsey cow for milk, as a way of supplementing their income. Upon graduating from high school, my father attended college at Southern Illinois University with a major in Geography and a minor in Art. Why Geography? “I don’t enjoy getting lost.” he deadpanned. “Plus, it was a lot easier than Physical Science.” While there, my father also got involved athletically by running track. Having long since out grown his size disadvantage, his six-foot two-inch frame easily loped around the track, as well as running cross country over the open field.

One thing he still had not outgrown, however, was his shyness. This shyness, and a fear of public speaking was severely put to the test one day, during a “Peace Rally” that was being held by the student body at the school. This was during the early 70’s, when the “peace movement” and war protestors were sweeping across college campuses all across America. My father, being curious, had stepped inside the auditorium where this rally was taking place. There he stood and listened as various students got up and spoke on how they should go about bringing peace in their time. As my Dad related to me later, “As I stood there, I felt an urging from the Holy Spirit to go there in front of all those people and witness to them about Jesus, the true bringer of peace. This was completely against my nature at the time…”
Nervously, he made his way across the long auditorium to where the microphone was, and haltingly gave his testimony about the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. A far cry from the life of the party at this point, he was booed and heckled off the stage and out of the assembly room. However, as he dejectedly made his way out to his car, a man who had heard him speak and had followed him out of the building stopped him. “I appreciate what you had to say.” The man said. “I wish I possessed the nerve to do what you did.” My father tells of how he continued on his way, only now with a much lighter step and rejoicing and praise in his heart. His strength was not in the sway of his own natural dynamism, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. It was through this authority he had overcome his natural bashfulness. That, to me, is who my father is.

Looking back, my father told me that “There were two things I vowed I would never do: I would never be a teacher, and I would certainly never be a preacher. So, I ended up doing both.”
Sure enough, after much thought and serious prayer, upon graduating from college my father became the science instructor for the high school at the Kansas City College & Bible School, and accepted the position of music minister and associate pastor at a local church. He often would relate about how on Saturday nights he would pace up and down in his backyard, wondering how he could get up in front of everyone the next day.

One thing that my father was always very serious about was his relationship to God. This, above all else, has led him to become what he is not naturally, extroverted and outgoing, as God has guided him towards a life of ministry and public speaking. Today, as the senior pastor in our zone of churches, he is well known for his way of putting people at their ease, socially. In the local grocery store, he cracks jokes and chats with the all of the employees from the manager down to the bag boy. As I look on, I smile to myself, thinking of the man that God’s grace has made. To me, my father serves as a model upon which to base my own life. Not because I too, am a closet introvert, but rather, my father serves as an example because of his commitment to following God’s call, no matter how far out of his comfort zone it may lead him.

That being said, of course I understand that everyone’s story is not the same, and that we are all created with a different set of strengths. However, based on my Dad I’d have to say that whether you are short or tall, outspoken or reserved, it really doesn’t matter. Ultimately, it’s what or who you have on the inside that is going to define who you are as a person.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hymnic Emoticons

People typically react against new ideas or concepts for one of two reasons:

A. Their level of abstract reasoning is insufficient to grasp the intent and thus think it stupid,
B. They mistakenly identify with the concept through over-generalization of the underlying premise and thus think the originator vain for assuming he or she was unique in that regard.

Of course, this is just my opinion.
Next thought, in my non sequitorial fashion...

I think that hymnals should be printed with emoticons to help illustrate what kind of mood the composer and author were trying to convey.
For example,

"All people that on earth do dwell,

Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice. =)

Him serve with mirth, =D his praise forth tell;

Come ye before him and rejoice. =D"

Or something along those lines...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Prudently Intelligent Post

"...intelligence and its opposite, in virtue of which we speak of people as intelligent or unintelligent, are not in general the same as scientific knowledge or as opinion. For if they were, everybody would be intelligent. Nor is intelligence one of the particular sciences, like medicine, that deals with matters of health, or geometry with magnitudes; for it is not concerned with things eternal and immutable, nor with everything and anything that occurs, but only with the natural subjects of human inquiry and deliberation. Hence intelligence has the same sphere as prudence, although intelligence and prudence are not identical. Prudence is imperative and issues commands; for its end or object is what ought or ought not to be done. Intelligence, on the other hand, merely forms judgments. There is no difference between intelligence and good intelligence, or between people of intelligence and people of good intelligence.

Intelligence is neither the possession nor the acquisition of prudence; but a scholar is said to be intelligent when he turns his scientific knowledge to some use, so a prudent man may show intelligence in making use of his opinions to form a judgment and a sound judgment on what he hears from someone else about matters requiring prudence..."
Aristotle, from his Nicomachean Ethics, on intelligence and prudence.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cheese and Whine

I noticed that it's been a while since I complained about anything on my blog, so here we go.

When I'm at a church dinner, or some sort of christian gathering where food is involved, and invariably someone walks up to the dessert table, declares conspiratorially "I really shouldn't have this..." and then goes ahead and eats it anyway.
If you REALLY shouldn't have it, DON'T!
Isn't that a form of gluttony? At the least it's showing a lack of discipline...
Restrain thyself.
Or at least, don't tell me about it...

(Excuse my loud typing.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Of Goats and Fedoras

"Are you guys in the play?"
Hm? What?
We (My sister and I) were standing in the corner gas station/Subway shop in downtown Middleburgh, waiting on our sandwich order, when one of the guys in the store approaches me.
"The play, are you guys in it?" he persists. My initial confusion wearing off, I chuckle to myself as I realize why he asked. See, the local-yokel playhouse was putting on a production of Chicago this week, which is a big deal in our little village. So, when you see someone in the street wearing a black and gray striped shirt and a black corduroy fedora, they must be in the play.
"No," I told him, laughingly, "This is just me."

Our town is not exactly urbanized, but that's one reason I like it. You can walk down Mainstreet under the shade of the sycamore trees...ask how so-and-so's Grandma is fairing...enjoy the smell of petunias in over flowing baskets hanging from all the telephone poles...stop in at the old hardware store and buy just one screw if you want, and some mighty fine coffee, too...
Oh, and get serenaded by a goat in a pickup truck, too.
We were leaving the Subway, subs in hand and getting ready to cross the street, when we heard a short bleat.
Looking up, we espied a pickup truck with a bale of hay and two goats on the back.
For those of you who don't know, goats are hilarious both to watch and to listen to. Their cry sounds something in my mind like an young adolescent boy riding a roller-coaster for the first time.
"MAAOUGH!" he voiced, startling the lady jogging on the sidewalk out of her iTunes induced apathy. She continues on, a bemused smile on her face and as she draws abreast of us remarks:
"That's a goat in a pickup truck!"

Yes ma'am, yes it was.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Farewell to Beard

Well, my friend...

We had a good run...
You weren't that big, but you were mine. My chin looks empty without you there...

It isn't you, it's me. Actually, it isn't even me, really. It's the institution, man...the school institution, that is.

Who will serve as referee between my top lip and nose, now that you're not there to separate them?

Who will protect me from someone scribbling a Hitler mustache and soul-patch on pictures of me?

I'm sorry it had to come to this, but you always knew this day would come.

Maybe I'll see you next

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Trip of Many Epic Proportions

Well, I was bored. That's what I'll say when they ask what started it all.
Just plain bored.
(Which, if you know anything about boredom, is the most bored anyone could possibly be, as "plain bored" means there wasn't anything even remotely interesting about ones boredom.)
So, to recap; Me, bored, with the time machine.
What? You mean I forgot to mention the time machine? Why, how could I have forgotten that? This whole story hinges on nothing less BUT the time machine!
Sorry. Actually, it was because I was bored that I built the time machine in the first place, come to think of it...I'd post the plans but apparently that violates the space/time clause in my blogspot contract. However, I can give you a rough idea of what it looks like, I suppose. It's metallic, sits about 4 ft. high, is vaguely armchair shaped, and smells faintly of turkey when it heats up. By the way, remind me to pick up some oven mitts from the store, as it can get quite hot and I'll need something to protect my hands...
To be continued...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Creatures Awake!

We emerge from under our wintered rocks to blink at the unaccustomed light, feeling it's partner, warmth, break on our waxen skin and dulled hair. The temperature is high with a chance of possibility:
The long pause is over...

Three cheers for Spring!
My, it feels good to go outside without a coat...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Uno Momento

Before you criticize someone you should first walk a mile in their shoes. That way, you'll be a mile away, and plus, you'll have their shoes...


Good night.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

They're all clones!

This is in honor of doppelganger week. (or as I sometimes say, 'Doppler'ganger. Which sounds like something you'd call a meteorological gang member.)

In 1996, scientists first successfully cloned a sheep, and playfully named her Dolly. (Yes, after Dolly Parton. Ask me why sometime, or better yet look it up for yourself.)
So they say. Of course, it's not like you can tell the average sheep apart from each other anyway, so how could you know? "Oh, look, they're identical! We did it!"
My neighbor has a flock that he lets out occasionally, and believe me they're
hard to tell apart.
"Ah-ha! Look, that one's got a spot on his leg right there, see? Right ther- oh, nevermind, he just stepped in some mud and it splashed a bit, sorry..."
My opinion? Scientists should have picked a species a bit more distinguishable if they really wanted to impress people.
Interesting fact; All navel oranges are actually clones, with the exact genetic makeup of the original tree planted in a monastery in Brazil in 1820. Because they are seedless, and therefore sterile, the only way to produce more is by cutting and grafting.
I worry that if I ever cloned myself, my clone would scheme to usurp me and force me to perform menial labor for the rest of my sorry existence. And of course we would debate over who was the evil one-
"I was the evil one last week, it's your turn now!"
"No it isn't. And besides, you've already got the beard."
No arguing with that. Everyone knows the evil twin's the one with the beard.
Just once I'd like a character to be introduced WITH a beard, so that later when we meet his doppleganger he's clean shaven.

Once again, this post brought to you with the advantage of not having a clue what I'm talking about, which I've found greatly improves the readability of my posts.
So long! And don't clone around.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pets...sort of.

If I had a pet, I would name him/her/it "Peeves".

I'm not really a lovey-dovey person when it comes to pets, I can take them or leave them...

But I do have some pet-peeves. For example, I've noticed that people don't bow down to me every time we meet (And by "meet" I mean them following at a respectful 10 feet behind). This annoys me...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

And many more!

Hello, everybody!

Today (Mon, Jan 4) was Sir Isaac Newton's 367 birthday. He didn't do much to celebrate however, and I'm pretty sure he's dead. My condolences to his family.
Anyway, once upon a time, Sir Isaac Newton was sitting in the shade of a fig tree eating a sandwich. All of a sudden he was hit on the head from a fig that had flown off of its branch, because Jesus had cursed the tree. Because it was a hot day, the fig had gotten very mushy and when it hit Newton on his head it splatted and slid off, and some of it got into his sandwich that he was eating. Then Newton shouted "Eureka!" and came up with the Fig Newton.
Oh, yeah, and he also invented gravity, I'm pretty sure.

So you see, great things can happen when figs have wings.