Conspiracy theories

March 23, 2019

Okay, so I’m not really one of those “conspiracy theorist” people.  You know who I mean, of course.  I’m talking about those folks who see bizarre plots around every corner rather than accepting official and or reasonable explanations for things.  No doubt I have been fooled on occasion but for the most part I think conspiracy people are kooks.  “Kookie, Kookie lend me your comb.”  Remember that?  Uh…anyway…

I actually think we landed on the moon in 1969.  I mean I was in front of my television on that historic day and I heard the muffled, breaking voice of Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the lunar surface for the first time in human history.  “The first time in human history…” we don’t hear that very often.  Speaking of conspiracies… do you know how many people would have had to be in on this one?  And not a soul in 50 years has cashed in by writing a “tell-all book” entitled “We didn’t land on the moon and I know because I worked for NASA.”  Or something like that.

I think Lee Harvey Oswald was solely responsible for assassinating John F. Kennedy.

And I really believe that the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids by themselves without the help of aliens.

Now, all of that being said… I have experienced a number of events in the past couple of years that could change my mind about the whole conspiracy thing.  First of all…  I used to be able to twist lids from jars without any effort.  Now it requires running the jar under hot water, hitting the lid with a knife or wooden spoon and afterward thoroughly drying my hands and grabbing a thin piece of rubber made for this occasion.  I then expend all the strength that I can muster,  and slowly, slowly, slowly as the veins in my neck begin to bulge and the muscles in my arms expand to their herculean best… the lid comes off.  Clearly, someone has decided to screw these lids on MUCH tighter than they used to.  WHO MADE THAT DECISION!?  Probably aliens wanting to starve us to death.  I honestly cannot imagine how 80-year-old women who live alone can conjure up the strength to access their food!

And what’s up with road signs?  The lettering gets smaller and smaller each year.  How do they expect us to follow the laws of the road if we can’t read what the laws say?!  Here again, I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy.  Small towns in need of generating income shrink the signs so they can pull over more and more speeders.  There ought to be an investigation!  Aren’t there enough people in Washington for another investigation?  I mean there never seems to be a shortage of them. (Investigations, that is.)  Come to think of it there ought to be a major in colleges called “Government Investigations.”  Rich people could show their kids how to bribe people not only to get them into the program, but to get them ready for working for the government.

I have been at Mt Vernon church for over 22 years.  Sometime in the past 2 years someone or someones (I WILL FIND OUT!) have added additional steps to the main staircase leading from the parking lot to the sanctuary level.  I used to run up those steps.  Now I drag myself up by the railing and still need oxygen on the landing and paramedics when I get to the top.  There are more steps than there used to be.  I can’t come up with any other explanation than this: it’s a conspiracy to bring about my demise.

And then, maybe THE most serious issue is the gravity thing.  Someone is messing with gravity.  I work on my cars on occasion or my kids’ cars in our driveway or garage.  I used to have no trouble laying under a car repairing all sorts of things and then jumping to my feet to complete the task.  Now, it’s all I can do to roll over, drag myself to my knees before a superhuman effort to stand.  It also affects rising from bed in the morning.  WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT?!  It can only be that gravity is much stronger than it used to be.  Right?  It’s clearly a conspiracy.  There ought to be an investigation into that as well.

Maybe, just maybe, I can be convinced about this conspiracy thing.  Tell you what I’m gonna do… I’m going to buy myself a big old tube of Brylcreem and a comb.  And maybe I can get Ellen to do her best Connie Stevens and call me Kookie as I run my comb through what is left of my hair.  And maybe even have her sing, “Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb.”  If you have no idea what that’s all about… haven’t you heard of Google?

You know, I just started writing these ruminations again.  I have been out of commission… creatively that is.  So, if you were looking for something religious, well… it might take me a while to get back into the swing of things.  Maybe you can try to figure out the answers to some of the issues mentioned above.  I’m perplexed.

Blessings.

Advertisements

Grief

March 11, 2019

When you hear the word “grief” what comes to mind? Also, what comes to heart?  Not just what do you think about grief, but how does the word or concept make you feel?  I ask this question because of funerals that I have done over the past 34 years.  I’m going to guess that most of us don’t want to think about or feel grief.  As a matter of fact, we run from it! There is a growing trend that I suspect is very unhealthy.  Allow me to comment on “grief” first and then I’ll note the trend.

No doubt we all know that Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her 1969 land mark book entitled “On Death and Dying” outlined what she observed to be the 5 stages of grief. The stages were initially observed in terminally ill patients after diagnosis.  These same stages apply to those experiencing grief over the death of a loved one, the loss of something important etc.  The stages are:  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  I’m guessing that most of us have some idea what each of these mean but with the help of Wikipedia I have copied a brief description at the end of this post.

What many of us may not know about grief is this: For the most part it cannot be avoided, abbreviated, skipped, shortened, redefined etc. It can however be extended.

Back to the disturbing trend. Most of these comments are related to funerals.  I have run across many, many families over the years who want to make funerals “as short as possible.”  The thinking goes something like this: “We have decided that there will be no viewing.  We are going to have (the deceased) cremated and then have a VERY short (emphasis on short) service at the funeral home.  We are not going to the cemetery and there will be no luncheon or gathering afterward.”  Other than in some unique circumstances, many make these decisions because grieving is hard and they think that this makes everything easier.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!  Did I mention that NOTHING could be farther from the truth?!  Ignoring the need for a time to recognize the life and death of a loved one and a time for family members to take part in that recognition (and that can be done many ways) causes families to get stuck in “Denial.”  Since grief WILL run its course whether you like it or not, then getting stuck in any of the 5 steps makes the process take much longer.  Also, refusing to “view” the body of the deceased because, as some naively say, “it’s morbid”, adds to the “denial.”  There must be “visual finality,” i.e., “seeing” that your loved one is gone.  If not, our minds play tricks on us.  Ask a mother or wife whose son or husband went MIA.  Or a family who’s loved one was terribly disfigured and there was no opportunity to see them.  They grieve for years because in the back of their minds they are not totally sure that their loved one is really gone.

Another principle of dealing with grief goes something like this: The more intensely the grief is experienced, the shorter and more complete is the process.  Trying to make a funeral “easier” does exactly the opposite of what is intended.  Not long ago I was sitting with a family and one of the members said this: “Grief is hard enough as it is, so please keep this short.”  It wasn’t the occasion to give him a lecture on enduring grief.  But he was WRONG!  The more tears and sadness that flow from our bodies and our minds initially as mentioned above, the more “efficient and effective” the grief process.  (Someday I will write about my experience when I did not shed a tear at my own mother’s death when I was 14.)  I, of all people, know the embarrassment, lack of control and humiliation of crying in front of others.  Those who think they are “strong” by holding back their tears are fooling themselves.  They are only prolonging grief.

One last thought not directly related to grief. On occasion I will be asked: “Grandma wanted us to do _____________ at the funeral.  Or grandma didn’t want us to do _____________.  We don’t really feel comfortable with those things.  What should we do?”  You may not like what I say, but I tell them that funerals are for the living not the dead.  I then ask them if grandma would have wanted what was best for her family or if she just wanted what she wanted.  If you think that she would have been more concerned with her family than herself, then do what is best for your family.  That being said, if you cannot deal with the guilt produced by that then you probably should do what grandma wanted.  I also don’t think funerals are a time to insist on getting our way, so if some family members want what grandma wanted and other don’t… do what grandma requested.

Few of us deal with these things on a regular basis so we are likely just doing what makes sense to us. I understand that.  With grief… what makes sense is not always the healthiest thing for us or for those we love.  The words “Just keep this simple and short” likely do a total disservice to you and those you care about.

Blessings.

Remember these stages are focused on those who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses. But the same principles apply to grief over the death of a loved one.

  1. Denial – The first reaction is denial. In this stage, individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.
  2. Anger – When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, they become frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”; “Why would this happen?”.
  3. Bargaining – The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise. Examples include the terminally ill person who “negotiates with God” to attend a daughter’s wedding or an attempt to bargain for more time to live in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.
  4. Depression – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon, so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one; why go on?”
    During the fourth stage, the individual despairs at the recognition of their mortality. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
  5. Acceptance – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it; I may as well prepare for it.”
    In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. People dying may precede the survivors in this state, which typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.

In a book co-authored with David Kessler and published posthumously, Kübler-Ross expanded her model to include any form of personal loss, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or income, major rejection, the end of a relationship or divorce, drug addiction, incarceration, the onset of a disease or an infertility diagnosis, and even minor losses, such as a loss of insurance coverage.[4]

Unsayings

 

February 25, 2019

Yes, I am still alive! Whoo, whoo.  I took a hiatus for a while but I’m back.  I thought I would just write some fun (?) things to begin with… I hope that’s okay.

Things I have never said and likely never will

Never say never.

Wow, my first brand new car!

Whoa, that’s WAY too much bacon.

The institutional church is perfect in every way.

The institutional church is sort of perfect.

The institutional church is adequate. (you get the idea)

Diabetes isn’t really that big of a deal.

Being a Christian is fun AND easy.

Professional athletes are woefully underpaid.

Seminary teaches pastors everything they need to know.

My wife made a great choice for a husband.

I am overflowing with confidence.

Stop! Stop! No more ice cream.  (No sugar added, of course)

I sort of like the Cleveland Browns.

Marriage is overrated.

I really like cats, rats, spiders, stink bugs, snakes…

Grandchildren… whatever

The Word of God is boring.

I wish I had been raised in another country.

God has blessed me in ways that I totally deserve.

I once owned a Corvair… best car ever!

Almost 65 years old… I feel like a kid again.

I understand God fully… just ask me.

Can I have another piece of liver, please?

Cell phones are the best things ever.

I love social media… particularly how it teaches young people relational skills.

Our culture is getting kinder and kinder.

I love politicians.

There are thousands of protestant denominations in the world… we need more.

Cartoons are so much better than they used to be.

Rude, ignorant people inspire me.

Bullying is an essential part of life… get over it.

My wife is amazing… oh wait… I have said that many times.

Being an “island” is a good idea.

Contemporary music is my favorite.

Losing friends isn’t that bad. And they are easily replaced.

I like driving in traffic… it stimulates my senses.

Of course God died for me… why wouldn’t He?!

 

I’m sure there are thousands more.

Blessings!

Trouble with the IRS

August 22, 2018

I got one of those phone calls today from the IRS saying that I needed to do something (I didn’t listen long enough to find out) lest I find myself in serious trouble. How did I know this might be bogus?  Let me count the ways!  The first sign was the bad grammar used by the recorded voice.  Seriously?!  If you’re going to scam someone at least speak their language properly!  And of course, there is the whole issue of getting a “critical” recorded message from the scary IRS.  I always have one question related to these things: “WHO FALLS FOR THEM?!?!” I realize it must be lucrative lest the scammers would move on to more profitable endeavors.  But, again, who sends their money to an anonymous voice claiming to be the IRS, or the Treasury Department, or any other government agency?

I’m tempted to send a letter out to the members of Mt Vernon Church that looks something like this (because obviously these things work):

Dear Member,

I have recently been contacted by the IRS regarding your giving to the church. They have notified me that you are seriously behind in your tithe and there will be life altering financial repercussions (not to mention spiritual ones) for you if you do not remit a check for a minimum of $1000.00 to the church by this Sunday.  I will do all I can to hold off the financial penalties that will be assessed by the government, not to mention possible arrest and imprisonment of you and/or your first-born child or grandchild, but I can only do so much. I cannot emphasize enough the need for you to make this issue a priority in your life.  If you have any questions you need not call me. JUST SEND YOUR CHECK! Next month I will write directions for you on how you can obtain money from a frozen account located in Burundi, Africa.  It will only require a check for $1000.00 made out to Ellen Little. The money will then be freed up to an off-shore account that will open to the correct password.  Guess who will get the correct code?  That’s right, you!  Soon you will be rolling in cash.  Well enough of that… I’ll get back to you in 30 days.

Protect your family today. SEND THAT CHECK!

Clearly “in Jesus Name”,

Rev. Doctor William K. Little

I won’t turn any $1000.00 checks away, but I suspect the good folks of Mt. Vernon have a little more sense than those who fall for these lies. That being said, “If we think we can’t be deceived then we already are.”

The Bible has a phrase for these swindlers. They are called “wolves in sheep’s clothing” or “false teachers.”  They manifest themselves in a variety of ways but in the New Testament, they are mostly religious sorts who deceive the People of God.  Neither Jesus nor Paul had any patience with them… none at all!

In Matthew 7 we are warned by Jesus:

Matthew 7: 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them.”

Jesus speaking of the end times said:

Matthew 24:Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many…

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Paul speaking to Timothy said

2 Timothy 4:For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

How do we prevent being deceived then?

First, I would say that we need to fully accept the possibility that we CAN BE DECIEVED! Remember “the road to destruction is paved with good intentions!”  I was talking recently with someone who had gotten themselves and a loved one into an impossible situation.  It was easy to trace the roots of their predicament back to years of enabling, i.e., covering and making excuses for the guilty party.  The problem with enablement is that it seems so right in the beginning.  Then patterns emerge that are difficult to see and almost impossible to overcome.  Wolves in sheep’s clothing look so… appealing.

Second, speak the truth and look for the truth. Not what you want to hear… but TRUTH.  Look at Titus:

Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.

Know the truth of scripture so that you can recognize the “truth that leads to godliness.” Unfortunately, too many of us have a cursory understanding of the Word of God which just makes us dangerous.

Third, rebuke those in the church who teach or even influence in an ungodly way.

Titus 1:10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach…  In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Last, surround yourselves with Christian people who are sincere about seeking after Gods agenda and not their own.

I have to run, but before I go… I have some property in the Everglades if you are interested…

Blessings.

Vacation

July 16, 2018

I was watching my 15 month old granddaughter a couple of days ago. She was contentedly sitting on the floor making baby noises and going from one toy or object in the room to another exploring and playing.  Do you have any memory of a time in your life when you had virtually no responsibilities other than to play all day?  Seriously, think about it.  How far back do you remember?  I can recall events from the age of 5 and even 4 to some extent. My family didn’t send me to preschool or kindergarten, so I had no school obligations. 5 years old… all I had to do was entertain myself all day.   Maybe the only thing as adults we have in our lives that resembles that is when we go away on vacation.  And I emphasize the words “go away” because a vacation at home is no vacation at all.  When we leave on vacation our only obligation is to do whatever we want/can; sleep in, stay up, eat whatever we want whenever we want, swim, read… Those occasions are glorious!  (By the way, if you are interested, the English word “vacation” comes from the Latin “vacatio” which means “freedom from something.” In our use of the word it generally means “freedom from work.”)

Ellen and I have tried to “do” vacations by staying home and going on fun day trips. It never works.  Somewhere in the back of our minds is the notion that there are things that need to be done around the house and we are being irresponsible by not doing them.  Do you know what I mean?  When you go away however, those things are “out of sight and out of mind.”

Until we find ourselves in a situation where we have NO RESPONSIBILITIES for a period of time, we can’t really identify the subtle (or not so subtle) pressures under which we live our lives daily. When we wake up each morning with a list of things that need to be addressed, that takes a toll.  Not always a large toll, but a toll none the less. Or maybe we chronically wake at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning with nagging thoughts about things that need to be accomplished.  Ellen and I used to have an above ground pool.  The instructions, when I installed it, were very clear that the top of the pool had to be level!  If not you ran the risk of the lower side giving way to the pressure of the water.  When I finally got the pool finished, added all the water and everything settled… one side was an inch lower than the other side.  I laid awake at night for months expecting to hear a giant gush coming from our back yard.  It’s hard to see or feel the effect these nagging thoughts have on our lives until we rise in the morning with NOTHING to do or think about.

Let me be clear… having “nothing” to do for long stretches of time is not good. It robs us of our dignity and confuses our sense of purpose.  But periodic breaks from the demands of this world are needed.  So, what does the Bible say about “vacation?”  Well, nothing that I am aware of.  But it has much to say about “rest.”  Need I remind you that the story of creation essentially ends with God resting?  Genesis 2:  By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. There are volumes written on what this means and I do not claim to understand it all. Things like “did God get tired?”  I just know that somehow rest is associated with the conclusion of work.  There are many other passages that imply the desire/need for rest:

Matthew 11:28-30  

eCome to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Exodus 33:14 

And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Mark 6:31 

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

Exodus 34:21  

“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest.

Isaiah 14:7

All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing.

We are ½ way through July. Some of you may have already taken vacation but many of you are still looking forward to your summer get away.  It is my hope and prayer that you experience rest and relaxation.

Go with the Lord.

Blessings.

FYI… too much rest isn’t good either:  😉

Proverbs 6:9-11

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.

Whipper Snappers

May 8, 2018

Spoiler alert! There is no distracting religious content in this essay.

I’m a whistler and a “hummer.” Like most whistlers and hummers I don’t even know when I’m doing it.  Ellen tells me that she locates me in public by following the whistling.  It’s rare that I’m by myself and a tune isn’t on my lips.  It may not be recognizable to anyone but… well, you get the picture.

I was in a nursing home recently that had piped in music. The halls (not the individual rooms) and the lobby had songs playing that were broadcast from speakers installed in the ceiling.  It wasn’t long before I was humming and singing along under my breath as I went from one place to another looking for the person I was there to visit.  At one point I stopped and realized I was humming along with the music… not a big deal except for this little fact… It was “Hey Jude” by the Beatles!  Then a Van Morrison song, followed by the Rolling Stones!  What?!  Where was the “easy listening music” that I have heard for years in those places?  Apparently, it’s been replaced by Rock and Roll just like the patients have been replaced by consumers of Rock and Roll.  Somehow Grandma and Grandpa listening to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd messes with my understanding of the cosmos!  Or at least it seems like it should.

Like many of you, I remember February 9th 1964.  I was in 4th grade.  Along with 73 million Americans my sisters and I were anxiously gathered around our “giant” 20 inch black and white television as we awaited the much anticipated weekly broadcast of Ed Sullivan.  No doubt the “rabbit ears” were covered with copious amounts of aluminum foil!  Of course you know what I’m referring to.  It was our first time, and the first time for much of the country to see The Beatles.  But sitting on the crowded couch in the middle of my siblings and I was my dad.  I can’t really write here the things he said while the “Fab 4” were performing, but they were less than complimentary.  Shall I say he was not a fan of “our” music!  It was not the last time I would hear him criticize the tunes to which my generation listened.  His words got more and more disparaging as the years went by.

  • Music history trivia… what 5 songs did the Beatles play that day? Answer at the end.

Jump ahead now to 1972. I’m a senior in High School.  My father and step mother kept a radio playing in the kitchen most of the day.  For reasons unknown to me they always had it tuned in to “elevator music.”  You know what I mean right?  Well known songs that were dumbed down and played gently.  Occasionally I would hear a song and ask my dad what he thought of it.  He would listen for a moment and say something like, “It’s okay.”  I took great delight in saying, “It’s the Beatles.”  He never responded.  Nor did he ever allow me to think that he caught on because each time I asked about a song he would say, “It’s okay.”

20 years ago I read an article in one of the Pittsburgh papers about the music played in nursing homes. The author discussed the fact that a time would come when Rock and Roll would be playing for senior citizens.  Well… that time is here!  Those in their 70’s were in High School and College when John, Paul, George and Ringo performed on Ed Sullivan for the first time.  The Beatles and other English bands would permeate the music industry for the next 10 years.  Now those same people are entering senior citizen facilities.  And here comes the Rock and Roll.

I don’t really have much to say about all of this other than the fact that it’s very strange entering the final third to quarter of my life. It’s particularly odd since the first ¾ of my life seems very… um…close.  I recently had a 45th High School reunion… Holy Cow!  My graduation doesn’t seem like it was that long ago!  And yet, the Pearly Gates are more imminent each day.  I can feel the years in my knees as I climb the steps to the church.  By the way… did you know that there are more steps here than there used to be?  There have to be because I used to run up these stairs.  Now I make it to the top by dragging myself up by the handrail while sucking in generous amounts of oxygen.  Well okay, maybe not the oxygen so much… yet.

My earliest memories of my grandparents are of them at the age I am now and they were OLD! Or so I thought back then.

Obviously this rumination is about… “maturing”. Some of you reading this are of the age to be my parents.  You may be thinking something like… “Just wait you haven’t seen anything yet.”  Or, “63!  Why you’re still a whipper snapper!”  Whatever a “whipper snapper is?!”**  No doubt, if the Lord is willing I will learn much more about this process called “life” in the years to come.  I will say there is something I am not looking forward to as the years fly by… I am not enthralled with the fact that young people in our culture disrespect “seniors” more and more as each year passes.  The growing irrelevancy of the elderly is tragic.  I have little to say to our culture as it continues to spin out of control.  But for Christian people here are some scriptures to ponder.  (I know I said there would be no religious stuff… so sue me!)

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

Leviticus 19:32   “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Exodus 20:12   “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Proverbs 23:22   Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Blessings,

Answer to Trivia above:

“All My Loving”, “Till There Was You” (From “The Music Man”), “She Loves You”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

**  In case you’re interested: ‘Whipper snapper’ is now a rather archaic term and, although you might hear it in black and white British films, those who are young and streetwise enough to actually be whipper snappers aren’t likely to use it. ‘Whipper snappers’ were known by various names, all of them derived from the habit of young layabouts of hanging around snapping whips to pass the time. Originally these ne’er-do-wells were known simply, and without any great linguistic imagination, as ‘whip snappers’. This term merged with an existing 17th century term for street rogues – ‘snipper snappers’, to become ‘whipper snapper’. The meaning of ‘whipper snapper’ has altered over the years, originally referring to a young man with no apparent get up and go, to be applied to a youngster with an excess of both ambition and impudence.

https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/whipper-snapper.html

A New Word

April 25, 2018

I like words. I have mentioned this in previous Ruminations.  I like to find out where they come from and what they mean.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t remember them but I like them.  Ellen is the “rememberer.”  When we lay in bed at night and I’m reading one book and she another I am constantly interrupting her by saying: “what does _______ mean.”  She remembers other things too… like EVERYTHING I have ever done wrong.  Or EVERYTIME I have ever criticized her for something… but I digress.  She has an amazing (c.f., phenomenal, extraordinary, exceptional, unique, rare, astonishing, remarkable, marvelous, mind-boggling… aren’t thesauruses great!) vocabulary.  I think I might have digressed again.

This morning I came across a new word… well “new” to me anyway; one that describes all of us at various times in our lives. Are you ready?  The word is “ultracrepidarian.”  Yep, that’s you and me… at times.  If you want to find true ultracrepidarians go to any bar in the evening and you’ll find loads of them.  But again, we are all guilty.

Did you run for your dictionary yet? Or bring up “dictionary.com”?  If you did you discovered that ultracrepidarians are people who share opinions about things that they know little about or discuss topics in which they have no expertise.  Interestingly enough, the word comes from Latin (not surprising) meaning “the sole of a shoe, sandal.”  What?  “I don’t get it,” you say.  Hang in there for a moment.  It derives its meaning from a phrase by Pliny the Elder (remember him?).  The phrase?  “ne supra crepidam sutor judicare.”  I hope you are impressed with my ability to copy and paste. It means “Let the cobbler not judge above the sandal.”  In other words stick with your area of expertise in making judgments or conversing about things.

Why is it that there are some topics that we all think we are experts on and others not so much? For some reason, we all think we know a great deal about politics, religion, foreign relations, parenting… We have little trouble participating in conversations and expressing opinions about those things.  But rocket science on the other hand; or quantum physics…  Few of us would say, “Well, let me tell you what I think about the current design of interplanetary transportation.”  Yeah right!

All of that to say this… I grow weary of folks telling me their opinions about God and Christianity. Particularly when they have done no more research on these things than they have done on… well… rocket science.  I am too polite to say, “Shut up!”  And given my position I guess I can’t very well say, “I don’t really care what you think.”  When in fact… um… I don’t really care… most of the time.  Don’t get me wrong.  If it’s a productive conversation I am more than willing to discuss these things.  But when it’s “drunk talk” (back to the bar again), I’m not interested.

Look at what Peter says: 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… Notice Peter does not say “always be ready to give your opinion on everything.”  Nor does he say “always, ‘i.e., in every circumstance,’ give an opinion regarding your faith.”  I think what he is saying is this:  “Be prepared in any circumstance (assuming it’s appropriate) to explain why your faith is important and what Jesus means to you.” Of course Jesus would have to mean something to you in order for you to give an opinion.  If not then you are acting like a… yep you got it… an ultracrepidarian; giving opinions on something/someone you know little about. That would be like me telling you about my “good friend” Pliny the Elder.

Do you get it? The Bible does not say that we have to give an opinion on every faith issue in every circumstance.  We are even encouraged to walk away at times.  Mark 6:11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” That’s another way of saying, “There are occasions where we should not waste our time with certain people.” Leave them to their own devises.”

Because of the above issues I think it is best for us as Believers to talk about our faith in the realm of “knowing Jesus and what that means to us.” If/when we get diverted into conversations about “where did God come from” and “how could the story of Noah really be true” and “where did Adam and Eve’s daughters-in-law come from” then we get hopelessly sidetracked.  Don’t get me wrong.  Those are important issues to deal with, but I suggest you study them before giving opinions about them… lest we be… yep one more time… ultracrepidarians.

From one ultracrepidarian (at times) to another,

Blessings.