Ash Wednesday: A Reflection Wednesday, Feb 10 2016 

This is another creation that comes from writing along with students.  Cool!

Forty Days of Lent:
A Prayerful Meditation for Ash Wednesda
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From the ashes of our failure and fall,
O Father, we thank you for Your
Righteous and redeeming
Truth, as we run to cleanse our sinful wounds in the healing fount of
Your precious blood: blood that flowedash wednesday

Down a sacred brow on a cross of shame to
Atone
Your wand’ring children’s
Soul-damning sin.

O, Father of compassion, whose mercy
Finds us in the recesses of our souls’ darkest night,

Let grace abound, while
E’er we repent with contrite hearts. Let us praise your
Name and worship Your
Truth in these forty days of Lent. . .

 And forevermore!

 

 

Trivial Rewards of the Profession: Mardi Gras Monday! Monday, Feb 8 2016 

Nineteen long years have passed since I had a paid day off for Lundi Gras (Fat Monday, the eve of Fat Tuesday).   We  celebrated the upcoming holiday on our last day of school  Friday with some good humor and Cajun music.

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The Friday before the long Mardi Gras weekend called for a Cajun-musical change-of-pace as we contemplated four “daze” off.

So far this Lundi Gras, I’ve drunk coffee with an unrushed, weekend-ish leisure; run an errand into town; and alternated watching CNN and ESPN (May the chronicle reflect that today is also the day-after the Broncos smothered Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50).  I’ve got some chores and piddling scheduled for the rest of the morning, and we’ll run off on a shopping jaunt this afternoon when Sarah’s home.   The varied and stress-free pace of life is sweet.

As a retiree-become-rehiree, this pace pleases me immensely and affirms the decision I made last July to keep the career-engine running, but at a more moderate pace.

And to think that one more blissful day of Mardi Gras holiday has yet come come, that day followed by a shortened three-day work week to fast-forward to the next weekend, blessed already by the weatherman’s prognostication of mild temps and fair skies: forebodings of spring.

 

What manner of dog art thou? Tuesday, Feb 2 2016 

I’ll tell you what manner of dog thou art, Marley: a spoiled dog, one rotten to the marrow and blessed beyond measure.

See how ye the worthless one shreddeth a stick of rotten wood, making crumbled mess on the patio for Papa to clean up?

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Mess not, fret not: Marley’s cooler than his Papa.

Yet thou hast no care.  Life is rich for puppy dogs!  Yay, better than  masters, who in the view of puppy dogs truly art not masters.  More like servants.

Mess up?

Fret not!  Papa hath means whereby to clean up.

Bark up?

Papa better wake up to let Marley out!

Beg up?

Papa better give Marley what Marley wants, lest Marley pees on Papa’s Basil plant!

Yay, o dog, thou art blessed among creatures, and rottenest of all.

 

 

 

The St. Edmund Tent Revival Wednesday, Jan 27 2016 

IMG_0323I got a kick out of a Catholic youth evangelist/missionary who came to school today to raise Christ’s appeal to our student body.  He preached in a robust style, much like I’ve known from Baptist preachers.  At one point in his discourse, he asked if any one in the audience had been to a tent revival, for he had preached in such.

I raised and waived my hand, the only hand elevated in all the mainly Catholic assembly.

The preacher remarked how rare in a Catholic audience that anyone had been in a tent revival!  He never assumed that I wasn’t Catholic!

No matter, though.  The young man’s pathos and sincerity raised the rafters of the school gym as young people responded to truth.  Not Catholic truth or Baptist truth or any other claim to truth: Just the simple truth of the Cross.

There was no tent over the gym.  But revival fell!

For the Sake of the Kingdom? Wednesday, Jan 20 2016 

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Any school whose logo displays the cross is held to a higher standard of sportsmanship!

For the Kingdom’s Sake: Calling for Christ-likeness from the Bleachers

In my daughter’s senior year of high school softball, Eunice High hosted _____ Christian Academy in a non-district game.   I don’t remember who won the game, because the score and the events that took place on the field were not that memorable.  What was memorable, and sickeningly so, were the cheesy cat-calls, the degrading names, and the rude insults the _____ players’ parents in the bleachers hurled at the Eunice softball players on the field.  Grown-up parents!  And worse, grown-ups representing a school that proclaims the title “Christian” in its school name.  That show was one of the most shameful displays of sportsmanship—or the lack of sportsmanship—I witnessed in over 20 years of regular attendance at high school and junior college athletic events.

I don’t mean to condemn that school particularly, and for all I know, the climate at _____ may have improved—I don’t mean to drag the school’s name in the dirt over something that happened so many years ago.  Regardless, though, the issue the episode illustrates remains as crucial as ever for any school that wears the label of “Christian” or “Catholic” in its school name.   Christ’s Kingdom and its followers’ witness is ever on trial before a worldly public that loves nothing more than to criticize and demean the schools’ Christian nature.  For that purpose, church leaders and school administrators at Christian schools should consistently endeavor to orient and indoctrinate students and parents to standards of sportsmanship that are consistent with Christian values.

A few simple, practical measures can be implemented to ensure that Christian school supporters don’t embarrass the Kingdom.

  1. Clergy and athletic directors could speak at Booster and spirit club meetings regularly about the importance of sportsmanship. The role of clergy is critical, because they speak with God-given authority. Coaches are influential, too, because fans respect their leadership.
  2. Coaches should have parent sportsmanship orientation meetings at the beginning of every season for every sport. The coaches and their staff can stress the importance of Christ-like conduct at athletic events, at home or on the road, reminding parents and players’ family members who attend games that critical eyes are watching and critical ears are listening!
  3. Home games of the Christian school should always begin with prayer given over the stadium or gym public address system. For road games at public schools that don’t have opening prayers, Christian school coaches, players, and parent followers should meet on the parking lot or outside the game venue when they first arrive to have prayer and to remind parents and players that the school’s standards for sportsmanship are Christ-given, not man-given.

If such simple measures were enacted, Christ’s Kingdom on earth would be advanced.  No, it won’t solve the problems of the world or convert the pagan world to Christianity, but the parents, boosters, and players of the Christian schools’ teams will glorify God’s name.  That’s what we’re called to do!

Amen?

Yes, amen.

My Favorite Show: The 10:00 News Friday, Jan 15 2016 

IMG_0303As we grow older, so do our tastes.

For example, many years ago (more than I care to recall), the 10:00 news was boring.  I would rather watch grass grow.

Now, the late news is my favorite show.  The weather at 10:07 is the climax.

What happened since oh, so many years ago, to alter those tastes?

I think I’ll plead “momentary inconvenience” to avoid contemplating an answer to that question!

Meanwhile, “Shush!  The weather’s on!”

Chivarly is not dead! Sunday, Jan 10 2016 

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No damsels in distress at this party: Quite the opposite.

This weekend, I was pleased to take my mom, my aunt, and my wife all out together for lunch at my favorite oyster joint in Covington.  The holidays are over, but the trip yesterday was a holiday make-up since we didn’t make the Covington run between Christmas and New Year’s.  The ladies took a pretty picture, so I decided the occasion was worth commemorating in a post.  And, of course, the oysters at the New Orleans Food and Spirits restaurant were tops, as usual.  A good (and tasty) time was had by all.

Three “Daze” of Mardi Gras Wednesday, Jan 6 2016 

I wrote this piece with English IV as an effort to acquaint them with the dreary five-paragraph college theme essay.  I’m not a fan of the genre, but since the form is still current among many who teach freshman comp, I want them to thknow and master it.

Growing up in Louisiana has afforded me a rich variety of memories from Mardi Gras “daze.”  Over the years, from Canal Street to the Cajun prairie, I have alternately run and run from the celebration.  If I had to choose three of the most memorable highlights of Mardi Gras past that contribute to my current disregard for observing the holiday in any traditional sense, I would name these: (1) as a child, going to Canal Street with my family for the Rex Parade; (2) as a high school senior, an incident where one of my buddies spent the morning in the ER at Charity Hospital; and (3) a masked rider in Patassas scaring the daylights out of my five-year old daughter.

My earliest memories of Mardi Gras are from the early 1960’s when Daddy would load up the family in the Ford station wagon and take us to Canal Street.  In those days, the parades were more family-oriented (except for the ones on Bourbon Street—Daddy never took us to those venues!).  We had family fun, yelling “Throw me something, Mister!” to the float riders who threw beads and trinkets to the parade-goers along the route.  I wish my Mardi Gras memories would have ended there, because those were the last days of innocence.   My next two memories are not nearly so pleasant.

The second memorable Mardi Gras experience came from my senior year of high school.  I went to hang out on Canal Street for the parades with a gang of work buddies.  Everything was going well until one guy from our group got into a scuffle with another parade-goer over a string of beads they went to pick up off the street at the same moment.  My buddy gave the beads over right away, not wanting to fight, but as he turned his back, the other fellow knocked him in the back of the head hard enough that my friend fell face-down on the street.  He ended up spending Mardi Gras in the emergency room, which dampened the experience for all.

My third most memorable Mardi Gras experience came many years later along the Cajun prairie parade route in Patassas.  I was guiding a newspaper reporter friend from Mobile, Alabama, so he could take pictures and get interviews for a feature article on Cajun Mardi Gras for his newspaper.  My little daughter was a long, too.  As we stood alongside the route, one of the masked Mardi Gras riders, meaning to be funny, hopped in front of my daughter and exclaimed “Boo!” as he snatched the Raggedy Ann doll she clutched.  The rider meant no harm, but in his drunken foolishness, he didn’t realize how much he terrorized that poor little girl.

So there: three memorable Mardi Gras experiences.  One pleasant, the other two not so much.  What’s the end result, then?  I don’t run Mardi Gras!  I appreciate the two-day school/work holiday as a couple of days to chill, to sleep late and sip coffee for as long as I want, and then to run to Laffy to goof off and shop.  In a manner, I love Mardi Gras, but probably for non-traditional reasons. ☺

Clearance really? How crass the post-holiday marketplace! Wednesday, Dec 30 2015 

Utterly and shamelessly crass, yes: Every consumer knows it.

But who can resist its allure?  Especially in the post-holiday season of clearance and close-out sales?

Few can resist, of course.  Even a calloused un-shopper like me occasionally succumbs to the excitement struck by endless rows of racks, counters, and shelves plastered with signs exclaiming  “CLEARANCE!”

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Hark! The herald clearance signs proclaim “Spend!”

So how smart was my clearance shopping venture yesterday?  I brought home four pieces of snazzy athletic wear, for which I paid an average of $9.99 each.

(Time out: Whatever is the psycho-magic of $9.99 as a sale price?  An entire penny less than $10—-What savings!)

All four pieces showed their original retail value, ranging from 32.50 to 49.95.   The full retail value of the purchase in an earlier pre-discount season, in other words, was about $150.  I paid less than a third of that amount!

So who’s the smarter at the end of the day?  The retailer captured pennies on the retail dollar by persuading me to hand over forty-something dollars for four pieces of clothing that I don’t need. On the surface, I saved about $90!  But truthfully, neither my happiness nor my want, much less my need, depends on my having those goods.

I am sure the retailer is pleased to have my forty-something dollars in exchange for my taking those items off of the store’s cumbersome, post-season inventory.  But if I “saved” $90, does the retailer feel like he “lost” $90?

I doubt it.  If I saved $90, my bank account balance shows $45 less.  And if the retailer lost $90, his ledger is also $45 better off as he profits from the $45 cash flow garnered by my visit to his clearance sale.

Yep, the year-end clearance sale is free enterprise at its zaniest perfection.  Whether it’s win-win or lose-lose for consumers or retailers hardly matters.  I kind of think its both.

 

Brown Christmas Friday, Dec 25 2015 

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Daze and daze of mud unending?

I grew up  on the Gulf Coast.  All my life, I have seen mildew-dripping fog and humidity thick enough to drink.  But this season’s muggy spell is off the chart for both degree and duration.  As we sit weather-logged inside, beset by thundery showers and misty fog  for the fifth consecutive day, noting that each day progressively  waxed more miserable than the day before, we sarcastically consider Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” as a cruel cliche.  So how about a parody appropriate for the day?

With the tree tops dripping
and rain squalls whipping
We have to wade out through the mud.

We’re dreaming of a brown Christmas
Worse than the ones we always knew.
As the day feels dreary and down
So will all this Christmas day be brown.

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