Pastor Henry's Memo

October 2018

Pericles and our November Election

Pericles (495-429BCE) was a Greek statesman, orator, and general.  Today he is mostly remembered for his orations and quotability.  Among those quotes: "Time is the wisest counselor of all."  "Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you."  "The secret of democracy is courage."  There are scores of other memorable bits of wisdom attributed to Pericles.  These three will do for this memo.  As it comes just a week before our 2018 elections, I find them instructive.  Our decisions in the voting booth will impact everyone.  Those who vote will make a difference for themselves and for all those who don't vote, also.  Note the second quote above.  The taxes we pay, where we shop, the speed we drive, the air we breathe, the food we eat...Everything we do will be impacted by political decisions authorized by the persons we elect to office.  Town councils, school boards, state legislators, United States senators, et. al.  These representatives will do their jobs whether we take notice or not.  And we will celebrate or rue the day.  Maybe we'll do both.  Our democracy is not without its deficits.  But it is ours.  And we make it what it is by voting and by not voting.  To vote is our right and to do it with thought and purpose and conviction requires the courage about which Pericles wrote 24 centuries ago.  And time, "the wisest counselor of all" will tell whether our votes were reactive and small minded or wise and courageous.

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Books will Change your Life

Used book stores are places where treasures abound.  So too those book racks outside hospital gift shops.  And those sale books just inside the doors at Barnes and Noble.  You never know what treasure will be marked down to a dollar or even 50 cents.  Cheap books are for sale all over the place.  If I walk out of such a place with two or three or a bundle of books I count myself fortunate, indeed.  Imagine spending less than $5 on reading that will take you to exotic places or fill your memory with interesting facts about the world.  My library is littered with such cheap books; ones that changed my life and/or caused me to dig deeper into a topic or introduced me to an author I have later admired.  Elie Wiesel, Brennan Manning, Robert Farrar Capon, Barbara Brown Taylor, Rumi, Lauren Winner, Peter Bernstein, Frederick Beuchner, Richard Selzer, Henri Nouwen, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Thomas Lynch, Dwight Judy...I own at least two books by each of these authors and eight or nine and more by most of them.  The first book I bought by all of them were "cheap books" found for sale somewhere.  All of them have made a difference to me.  I have purchased multiple copies of some of the titles by most of these authors and have given them away as gifts.  I haven't listed titles in this memo, but I am prepared to share those titles with anyone who is of a mind to give them a read.  Who knows, you too might be hooked and your life might be changed and wouldn't that be worth it for a couple of bucks or less?

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Biography of Herod, the Great

Reading biographies at lunch is not my usual practice.  I alternate between something religious/serious and modern mystery.  My current book is a biography of Herod, the Great.  He was born in 73BC and died in 4BC.  His reign was from 37BC until his death.  He had several wives; not all of them surviving his displeasure.  He had many sons and only one daughter, Salome.  Caesar Augustus found reason to prefer him as king to several others, but it was for convenience.  Herod was Caesar's agent in Palestine.  He made sure taxes were collected and the peace was maintained at the eastern reaches of the Roman Empire.  Herod grew rich in this relationship but not popular.  Caesar is quoted as saying "I would rather be Herod's dog than his son."  After all, Herod executed a couple of his sons, one just four days before he died.  This book had been on my reading shelf for a dozen years.  It never really reached out to grab my attention.  That is, until I read the quote by Augustus about his sons and his dog.  I'm only a hundred or so pages into the book and I'm hooked.  Herod lived in the days of Cicero, Horace, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra.  He built the temple Jesus visited in Jerusalem.  I can't wait for what more I will learn about this man who set the stage in Palestine for the life of Jesus.

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Don't Hold your Breath!

This past October 3rd more than a couple hundred million cell phones were sent a test message from the National Emergency Broadcast System.  Cell phones, televisions, and radios were sent the "Presidential Emergency Alert Test" at 2:20pm that day.  I was in the car on my way to Fort Wayne and I eagerly awaited my phone to "alert' me.  The appointed time came and there was no alert.  I waited. And waited.  And waited.  Two minutes.  Three.  Five.  Good thing I wasn't holding my breath, because by minute five I would have been more than blue in the face.  I would have been in the ditch along the side of the road.  With my luck, no CPR volunteer would be at hand to revive me.  Later that evening, as I watched the news, I finally heard the "alert" as the voice-over commentator told listeners the "alert test" was a success.  Oh, yea!  I will not be a happy camper if a real "alert test" doesn't reach me until some four hours later.  By that time I might be in the ditch along the side of the road needing CPR with no volunteer in sight.  What's a guy to do?  Well, I'm not going to practice holding my breath, that's for sure.  

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Harvest Time

This time of year with increasing frequency, I find myself driving behind huge grain trucks, tractors, and other farm implements.  Often times the roads are too narrow to pass safely so I lumber along behind at 10 or 12 miles an hour.  I wish I had more patience, but that's an altogether different pastor's memo.  The road will widen or the tractor/grain wagon will turn off and the road is clear.  Today I was stuck behind just such a grain wagon and I began to think.  That corn was being harvested and was the income for a family.  It represents the faithful labor of someone who has trusted the earth and the rain and the sun and God to bring forth plenty.  And not just for themselves.  If we are what we eat, we are corn,  Corn is so vital for our lives we take it for granted.  The by-products of corn are astounding.  Lets begin with Sugar Frosted Flakes and cornstarch and cornmeal.  How about corn syrup and dextrose and corn oil.  Also, fructose, ethanol, and corn-on-the-cob.  Let's not forget whiskey, salad dressings, and popcorn.  In our local grocery store about the only things that do not have a corn component in them are ocean fresh seafood and items made entirely of metal.  Human beings have become very resourceful in using corn across the centuries.  Without corn you can just about kiss prime rib goodbye because grass fed cattle simply will not produce that succulent cut of meat.  And now I know what it was that overwhelmed me as I was tagging along behind that corn wagon this morning.  It was the smell of bacon.  Indiana corn-fed hogs.  I think a BLT for dinner sounds like a plan.

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