Sunday, December 27, 2009

Forgot To Mention

No Sunday post today. Just too lazy and worthless.

What can I say? It's been busy.

Hang in there.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not Like I'm Nostradamus Or Anything

But Bobby Petrino will be the next head coach at Florida. Don't say I didn't warn ya.

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Christmas Feeling

It always looked like great fun. On Christmas Day I would always see guys-mostly black guys-walking the course at War Memorial down the street. I took up the damn game about the time Mother went to assisted living in Conway. At least that is my recollection. Time doesn't exist in quite the same way anymore. So I may be off a by a few years.

In any event, I would always see guys out playing golf on Christmas Day while I was en route to spend time with Mom and I would think, "Boy, that looks like fun." Well, now I got the chance, or I would if it were not so damn wet out there. That and it's freezing today.

A friend asked me if I felt like an orphan now. She said that's the way she feels about herself since her remaining parent passed away a year or so ago. To me the question is a little fatuous. To my way of thinking, orphans get created by traumatic events early on in life. Certainly there is nothing remotely tragic about the passing of an elderly person who was terribly ill. But out of respect for my well meaning friend, I will ponder how I do feel.

And the answer is that I don't really know. I feel a strange disconnect from everyday life and my current memory problems are probably a symptom of that sense of disconnectedness. I am told this is "perfectly normal." It may be. But it is also a pain in the ass.

I am also told by well meaning people that they are sorry that Mother passed away during the holiday season. I never tell these equally well meaning people that I have always found Christmas to be sufficiently odious under the best of circumstances and that my "enjoyment" of the holidays will not be particularly diminished by the recent sad turn of events. Like I said, they mean well. So I don't tell them that.

But back to the golfers. I have always wanted to play golf on Christmas. And I have often wondered what it would be like to spend Christmas somewhere else. I know people that go to New York for Christmas. They watch the ice skaters. They take in some shows. I have always wanted to go to New Orleans. To see Papa Noel, the Quarter lit up, the bonfires on the levees. That always sounded like great fun. I hear San Antonio is pretty cool this time of year.

I have never acted on these feelings because I always felt like I needed to see Mother on Christmas Day even though in her last years she did not know Christmas from Arbor Day. I am not a particularly sentimental man. Neither do I ordinarily give in to superstition. And God knows I have very little use for Christmas.

But something made me always spend time with my Mom every Christmas morning. And so that is what I did. I can't do that any more.

Some bright Christmas morning, when you can get out there without being ankle deep in mud, I will go join the brothers out at War Memorial for a round of golf. Or I may walk down the Riverwalk alongside the Mississippi.

The world has changed since December 4th.

And I can leave now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

The Itinerant Evangelist is an almost peculiarly American institution. At least the ones that made any money at it. St. John the Evangelist allegedly wrote the Book of Revelation while in stir. The apostles had no property and shared amongst themselves. John Wesley and Martin Luther didn't intend to be schismatics. But that's just the way it worked out.

No, the Oral Robertses of this world could only have sprung from the this side of the pond where not only your sins will find you out but they will find you out in Olathe, Kansas. And the God who made Heaven and Earth (and Olathe) will surely bend down and save you inside the tent if you will put let Him into your heart. You don't need no Pope. You don't need no fancy church. You don't need no preacher with a Ph.D wearing vestments. The words in red in the black book are all sufficient.

To what passes for his credit Roberts, unlike many of his ilk, never claimed to have healed anybody. Neither was he an out and out criminal. And although he enjoyed a lifestyle not exactly reminiscent of the early Disciples, neither was he the complete wastrel that his idiot son Richard turned out to be.

Oral Roberts is widely considered to have pretty much invented televangelism. Despite being what passes for the best of an exceedingly suspicious bunch that followed in his footsteps, Oral gave into his latent narcissism in his later life. He founded Oral Roberts University despite not being armed with an undergraduate degree. ORU bestowed unto him an honorary doctorate degree and he modestly allowed others to refer to him as "Dr. Roberts" from that day forward. Acting on the behest of a vision of a 900 foot vision of Jesus (which undoubtedly caused him to crane his head upward) he founded a medical school against the recommendation of the Oklahoma medical authorities.

To raise money for this dubious project, he holed himself up in the Prayer Tower on the campus of ORU and told the flock that God would "take him home" if 8 million bucks was not raised pronto. Amazingly enough, this worked. Alas, the medical school went bust. And this stunt pretty much precipitated the decline of Oral's earthly ministry. the keys for which he eventually turned over to the aforementioned wastrel and idiot Richard.

Back when Oral Roberts got his start, faith healing didn't seem to be so far fetched. Medical technology was fairly primitive then at least compared to what we have now. And if you think about it, when your state's economy depends on agriculture and whether Wildcat Willie can smell oil in that patch of land, well, Oral's audience in Oklahoma was well equipped to walk in faith in many different areas of endeavor.

Oral Roberts is hardly responsible for Fox News and Sarah Palin. But he ushered in this modern era in which palpable falsehoods are accepted on faith. Turn to cable TV or the Internet and you can find a world where evolution is not science, where global warming is a hoax and Barack Obama is not a citizen of this country.

Put your hand on the TV. Believe. And send us money.

Too bad Oral Roberts is not here treading the boards at the height of his powers in our present age. Too bad for him, that is.

My brother Bob and I were in Tulsa about 5 years ago to attend the funeral for my cousin Lesa. Lesa had finally lost her 9 year battle with Hodgkin's Disease.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vox Populi-A Debt to Society

A man was standing outside the Federal Building. He was smoking a cigarette and talking on a cellphone.

" Well, I'm through. It went OK I guess. What? Oh, not until 1. I don't have to see the other probation officer until 1. The one in North Little Rock."

You know it's a big day when you have appointments lined up with both the State and Federal Probation Officers.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vox Populi: Season's Greetings

NV was in need of tortilla soup for lunch yesterday so we went to a Mexican joint down the road. There was a group of 3 women at the table next to ours. After we placed our order I heard a cell phone ring at the ladies' table. One of the them picked it up.

"Hey!" she said. " Anthony's in jail up in Wisconsin. Anthony. Your son. Yeah he's in jail up in Wisconsin. Wisconsin. No I don't know what he was doin' up there."

She paused to munch on her chips while evidently listening to Anthony's mom. Eventually she spoke again.

" Well see the problem is they got him on a 10 day hold. Which means I don't see how he can make it to Texas in time for Christmas. Anyway, you need to call up there and talk to your son."

And with that she closed the phone and blithely returned to her chips and salsa.

My Sunday Feeling

I wasn't surprised at the news that Tiger Woods had strayed from the marital hearth. Just because he is quite possibly the greatest golfer who ever lived does not make him any more immune from temptation than I am. I guess what I don't understand is how he thought he could get away with carrying on with so many women-I believe that the body count now is up to 10-on a simultaneous basis and get away with it.

Think about it. Tiger is probably the most recognizable athlete on a worldwide basis since Ali. He has made over a billion dollars and is thought to be worth some 600 million. I guess he invested some of that money with Madoff. Maybe that would account for the shortfall. Handsome, non-threatening and seemingly wholesome he made most of that money by endorsing products such as Buick and Nike. In short, he had a scrupulous personal image to protect.

Which makes his downfall incomprehensible to the average person hanging around at War Memorial Golf Course. How can somebody seemingly on top of the known universe be so stupid?

Who knows? Just because you went to Stanford doesn't make you smart. Just because you are constantly in the presence of acolytes doesn't mean you are getting good advice. Somebody in his coterie of yes men had to know what was going on. Or at least suspected it. Did somebody suggest to Eldreck that maybe his catting around might be bad for business? If they did, did he ignore them? Who knows?

As for me, my position on such matters is pretty simple. All of us has done something stupid that we would just as soon nobody ever finds out about. Maybe not as stupid as this but you get my drift. Whatever consenting adults do behind closed doors is none of my business. Nor is it yours. If he and Mrs. Tiger can get past this good for them. After all, it's not like he's accused of committing a criminal act. Unlike a certain local pastor, "certified" life coach and financial planner who got popped for allegedly performing oral sex on a 15 year old boy he met on the Internet. The only people Tiger hurt are his family and friends-if he really has any-and the folks that stand to lose a lot of money because of his all of a sudden turning radioactive.

No, the lesson here is that athletes are only role models by accident. All we know about these people is what they do on the field of play. Virtually anything else is crafted for us by image makers.

Woods announced last night that he was taking an indefinite leave from competitive golf. This is probably a good idea. He needs time to salvage his marriage if it can indeed be salvaged. He needs to figure out where that itch comes from that can only be scratched by models and porn stars.

He needs to forget Tiger Woods the brand for awhile in order to try to get to know Tiger Woods the human being. Which is the hardest thing any of us have to do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

This is a fairly modern Episcopalian hymn that is also found in the United Methodist Hymnal. This was the last hymn sung at Mother's funeral earlier this week. Not only is it one of my favorites but I thought that it was particularly apt, for a woman whose battle with depression and Parkinson's Disease had finally ended.

"In Him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both alike."

This is the Mt. Pleasant Chorale and the Iowa Wesleyan College Choir leading the congregation of First United Methodist Church of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in the singing of this great hymn.

Thursday, December 03, 2009