Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Fools! ...

Most folks know what great fun it is to pull harmless pranks on friend and foe alike on the first day of April each year which is commonly known as "April Fools' Day" ... Lamar Beefeater and Luther DooLittle were no different, as a matter of fact April Fools' Day was one of the boys' favorite "holidays" second only to Halloween ... yes, they considered April Fools' Day as a holiday ... and they had conceived a grand plan for observance of the next one.

Now some of you probably remember the big possum that was accidentally spifflicated in the unfortunate scooter crash involving Lamar and Luther as recounted in my previous post entitled "Cardio Possum Resuscitation" ... in spite of Lamar's infamous, albeit heroic attempt at bringing the slain marsupial back to the land of the living by means of his flawless performance of the "kiss of life"--the possum stayed dead ... and upon his timely arrival at the scene of the wreck, Sheriff Clarence A. VanMeter ordered the boys to forthwith remove all debris from the roadway, including the possum carcass, in lieu of their receiving a hefty citation for littering and reckless driving ... so the boys placed the mangled critter inside of a cardboard box, duct taped it shut and tossed it in the bushes ... left with no scooter to entertain the hapless lads, their thoughts immediately turned to making plans for April Fools' Day.

Lamar and Luther knew that one of the few highlights of the day for centenarian Virgil Hunnicutt was to stroll out to his mailbox each day and check for any letters which may have been sent to him from the Widow VanMeter, Sheriff Clarence A. VanMeter's dear mother, of whom Uncle Virgil had been "pen pals" with since the widow's husband was killed by a stray bolt of lightning many years prior ... so the mischievous pair decided it would make for a harmless, yet dandy April Fools' prank to retrieve that box containing the extremely odoriferous and rapidly decomposing remains of the deceased possum and mail it to Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt under the pretense that it was a gift sent him from the Widow VanMeter ... the boys would then ride their bicycles back and forth in front of Uncle Virgil's house until the mailman delivered the offensive package, then watch the fun ... there was only one problem, the postmaster was more than a bit suspicious of the boys' actions, and had promptly alerted Virgil Hunnicut to the fact that something just didn't smell quite right about the whole situation, and that maybe Virgil should come down to the post office so he could open the package in his presence, just to be on the safe side ... and that he did.

The next day Lamar and Luther excitedly mounted their trusty two-wheeled steads and sped over to Uncle Virgil's place to ride around out front while awaiting the impending arrival of the April Fools' delivery ... upon their arrival, there sat Uncle Virgil on the front porch in his rocking chair, also apparently watching for the mailman ... a few tense minutes passed and here came the mailman ... and there went the mailman ... didn't even stop, didn't even slow down as he went by, just an odd smile and a wave as he passed ... the boys were at a loss, what had happened to their parcel, had the mailman delivered it earlier prior to their arrival? ... had it been lost? ... they looked over at Uncle Virgil just as he flagged them down and asked if the mailman had been by yet ... "why yes" Lamar replied, "but he didn't stop, just waved and smiled, and drove on by" ... Virgil said, "well fellers, if you don't mind, since you're already right there next to my mailbox, open 'er up and see if there's anything inside, just to be sure, it'll save an old man a long walk out there and back" ... with seemingly nothing peculiar about the request Lamar graciously complied, figuring that if the dead opossum had been delivered earlier, unbeknownst to them all, he would simply carry it to Uncle Virgil as if none the wiser, then hastily retreat back to the road to observe the happenings with his cohort Luther DooLittle.

Well, as soon as Lamar opened the door on Uncle Virgil's old mailbox, both he and Luther were simultaneously struck in their faces with something akin to boiling acid or liquid fire ... then the malodorous aroma caught up with the searing pain as both victims fell to the ground barely able to breathe and rendered nearly totally blind ... Skunk!! ... they'd been sprayed by a skunk ... a big, mean skunk too! ... Uncle Virgil was laughing so hard he nearly flipped backwards out of his rocking chair as the young pranksters wallowed around on the ground in obvious misery ... the angry Mephitis mephitis dropped down onto the ground and gave the squirming boys a few more scalding squirts just for good measure, then leisurely ambled off into some tall grass beside of the road ... Virgil Hunnicutt continued to guffaw like a crazed hyena nearly sending himself into convulsions in the process ... you see, Virgil had been having trouble with skunks nesting under his corn crib, so he had been trapping and relocating the pesky creatures for quite some time ... he had nabbed this overtly-aggressive beast three days before, and it had been getting angrier by the minute awaiting relocation and release while incarcerated in Uncle Virgil's cage trap ... when he was alerted by the postmaster as to the boys' puerile prank, Virgil simply reversed it on them, for you see, it had been a longstanding rumor that Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt was a near genius with an astronomically Brobdingnagian IQ ... there must have been some basis to that longstanding rumor, for his demonstrable brilliance had once again struck a fatal blow against profound stupidity ... Lamar and Luther finally regained a small measure of composure and were able to draw in a few deep breaths, eventually enough partial eyesight returned to where they could get to their feet and head toward home in search of some tomato juice ... as they stumbled away like a pair of boozy roosters, Virgil Hunnicutt recovered sufficient aplomb to convey the following ... "Happy April Fools' Day ... fools!!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cardio Possum Resuscitation ...

Police recently charged a Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania man with public drunkenness after he was seen trying to resuscitate a dead opossum along a highway ... the flattened possum had been lying there dead in the road for at least three days ... unfortunately, in spite of his best efforts, the drunk was unsuccessful in his attempt to revive the noble critter ... however, this is not the first time that something similar to this incident has occurred.

Several years ago, Lamar Beefeater, Henry Beefeater's boy, and Lamar's best friend Luther DooLittle swapped a Wilson basketball and a Murray riding mower for a well-used motor scooter ... the boys tinkered with that piece of junk until they got it to run, and run it did ... they would both climb on the two-wheeled rattletrap and ride it up and down DooLittle Hollar until way after dark alternating between driver and passenger ... Henry Beefeater would eventually have to threaten bodily harm to get them to park it and go to bed each night ... this great fun went on for days without incident, until one pitch-black night as the boys were making one of their countless passes down the slippery, gravel byway ... Lamar happened to be driving while Luther was hanging on behind as passenger when all of a sudden there was a hard thump, several airborne cartwheels, some sparks and that motor scooter along with both riders went tumbling end over end right down the center of that rough, jagged lane ... when everything and everybody stopped rolling, ol' Lamar found himself sitting there in the silent darkness in the middle of the road unable to see anything because the lone headlight on the scooter had also been smashed in the crash.

Well Lamar started frantically screaming and calling out for his pal Luther DooLittle, but to no avail, Luther was nowhere to be found and not answering ... Lamar figured Luther was likely seriously injured or maybe rendered unconscious, or that he had possibly perished in the wreck ... but even though Lamar was nearly torn to shreds and bleeding from head to toe, he had to help his friend, so he started crawling on all fours in the darkness groping around in all directions in hopes of locating poor Luther, all the while sharp rocks and gravels adding insult to his already stinging injuries with each movement ... after a couple minutes of this seemingly fruitless endeavor, Lamar found the broken, motionless body ... he checked for breathing and a heartbeat but found neither ... fortunately Lamar's Boy Scout training kicked in as he cleared the airway, cupped his mouth over the victim's mouth and gave a few puffs, then shifted his position so as to begin chest compressions ... it was certainly a critical situation ... Lamar was extremely proficient in his technique, but it didn't seem to be doing much good ... after several minutes of performing flawless CPR the lad was nearing a state of futility and complete exhaustion ... to make matters worse, ol' Luther sure had some bad breath, along with a severe case of gingivitis!

About that time Lamar heard a familiar voice calling his name, it sounded somewhat like Luther's scratchy voice, he thought he must be going into shock or maybe losing his mind, then he heard it again, louder this time ... he looked up and saw flashlights rapidly approaching ... "Lamar, are you alright Lamar?" ... "where are you Lamar?" ... just then there stood Luther and Lamar's daddy Henry shining their lights on him lying there in the road ... "you alright Lamar, I was afraid you might be dead?" ... Lamar looked up at Luther and his daddy standing there over him and said "no Luther, when I finally found you, you didn't have no pulse and you wasn't breathing, I thought you was a goner for sure, so I've been givin' you CPR for a long time now, but it didn't seem to be doin' any good!" ... "but it did, you've revived, you're alive!!!" ... Luther was more than a bit puzzled to say the least, so he began to explain to Lamar how he had been thrown clear from the wreck when they struck that enormous possum, and how he had luckily landed on a big, soft clump of grass ... he reckoned Lamar was probably hurt real bad, so he had ran to Henry Beefeater's place to call 911 and summon help thinking that was the best thing to do under these trying circumstances ... by this time the fire department, an ambulance, Sheriff Clarence A.VanMeter, Deputy Sheriff Cletus A. VanMeter, a local news reporter and most of the town's folks had converged on and surrounded the tragic scene, just as Lamar Beefeater asked the question -- "what possum?" ... with a chuckle Luther DooLittle answered ... "that big, ol' dead marsupial lying right there beside of you!"


Friday, March 19, 2010

A Magic Memory ...

As an impressionable young boy growing up in the hills of West Virginia, I remember many life altering events which took place around the globe ... many in the form of blurry images beamed into the living room by way of an old, black and white RCA TV ... we were able to receive a breathtaking total of eight stations from an antenna positioned at the crest of a briery knoll ... in those days that TV was my primary window to the world ... I listened and watched in disbelief as CBS's Walter Cronkite brought news of the tragic and untimely death of our promising, young President John F. Kennedy, and the seemingly endless days which followed as he was finally put to rest in Arlington National Cemetery ... nearly as shocking was the fatal shooting on live TV of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby as Oswald was being led from a Texas jail ... later on the airwaves were filled with news of the assassination of the great Martin Luther King, Jr., then a couple of months later JFK's brother Bobby Kennedy would meet with the same fate ... I saw the arrival of The Beatles to America, and their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show ... I watched in confusion as dying and dead Americans were carried away on stretchers and in body bags from the dense jungles and rice paddies of Viet Nam, while long-haired protesters marched and masked rioters burned our cities to the ground ... and I believe I saw a man walk on the moon.

The following is one of the more memorable and cherished images ... among those eight TV stations that we were able to receive was WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh PA ... that meant the Pittsburgh Pirates were aired each evening on nearly a daily basis ... I hardly missed a game, and would listen intently to every word as Pirate's announcer Bob Prince called the games ... the Pirates had very good teams during a span of several years back then, good players too, such as Bob Robertson, Manny Sanguillen, Mudcat Grant, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski and a young fellow by the name of Roberto Clemente ... Roberto Clemente was something else ... born in the small barrio of San Anton in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Roberto was the youngest of seven children ... I would watch with amazement at how gracefully and effortlessly Clemente played the game, his movements were deceptive, his natural talent and abilities made it look easy, but Clemente always gave his all, and at full speed ... he played right field, could catch a fly ball at the wall, then in one smooth motion fire it all the way to the catcher behind home plate ...yes, he was something else ... I'll never forget game six of the 1971 World Series between the Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles when slugger Frank Robinson came to the plate and launched a 300-foot fly toward Clemente that would have surely scored Merv Rettenmund who was standing on third base ... as soon as Clemente pinched the ball in his glove, in a flash he ripped it out and rifled a strike straight to the catcher ...  Rettenmund was forced to scurry back to third base unable to score, and the Orioles were held at bay ... the Pirates went on the win the '71 World Series in seven games ... Roberto Clemente was named the 1971 World Series MVP ... yes, he was something else.

Roberto Clemente was not only a great player on the baseball diamond, he was an even greater person off the field ... Clemente was a hero, especially to the Latinos ... tragically, on December 31, 1972, while endeavoring to personally direct a relief mission to earthquake torn Nicaragua, but unknowingly bound for destruction, Clemente and four others loaded a small DC-7 plane with much needed food and supplies ... the group never made it beyond the San Juan border as the over-crowded aircraft immediately crashed into thirty feet of water in the Caribbean Sea ... speculation that cargo shifting during flight had caused the plane to go down ... rescue efforts began immediately, but there were five fatalities including Clemente ... his body was never found ... the entire world was in shock, especially an impressionable young boy growing up in the hills of West Virginia ... those days are long behind me now, but the magic memory of Roberto Clemente, and game six of the '71 World Series are forever etched in my mind.  

"He played the game of childhood dreams, with humble grace of mountain streams. He learned so early through his time, the selfless purpose of his life, His human pride, his elegance, not in a hundred years surpassed. From far away gave us a gift, too valuable to leave adrift, Some saw the game as being the end, he knew the end and played, he played! When in the face of human pain, some wasted time, he ran and helped, For all who knew and didn't know, they were in front of royal grace, a modest place where rivers wed, saved us a wall of right field fence, On holidays of cheer and joy, when smiles abound for girl and boy, there is a town down by the sea, where grown men cry on New Year's eve, Remind me game of boyhood dreams, that men of grace knew how to play. The game's true leaders learn early in time, the selfless purpose of their lives." ... Juan A. Perez


Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Poppy" Can Fly! ...

I just heard an incredible story, whether true or not depends upon ones' level of gullibility ... it concerns the perils of a beloved family pet ... a three-pound Chihuahua appropriately named "Poppy" to be exact ... now Poppy isn't your ordinary, every day, three-pound Chihuahua, oh no ... seems Poppy can fly! ... or so it seemed ... reports have it that Poppy was out in this family's backyard doing what any red-blooded, Mexican, three-pound Chihuahua normally does ... all of a sudden, Poppy's master, a nine-year-old boy, heard what he described as "something awful" ... "it was a terrible yelp" ... "real loud, and we heard wings flapping, and we looked back, and Poppy was flying right up there in the sky above our house" ... seems some type of large bird had picked up Poppy and whisked him away ... "it kind of looked like he was in both of it's talons, and the bird was flying up as Poppy was looking down, terrified and whining piteously" the tearful boy said.

The distraught family spent hours searching the nearby streets and neighborhoods for poor Poppy, but couldn't find him anywhere, thus making for a long and tumultuous night for all concerned ... "it was a very sleepless night because of everything that kept going through my mind, was my little dog being torn apart?" ... "it was hard to imagine that he was going through something like that!" said the boy's mother ... "when I went to sleep, I'd lost a little hope" replied the nine-year-old ... but joy cometh in the morning! ... after a night of tossing and turning, relief showed up right at the front door as the boy's dad was leaving for work ... it was Poppy, still in one piece, despite being somewhat dirty, disheveled and scratched up ... "I just broke down in tears because my little Poppy was back!" exclaimed the overjoyed and surprised lad ... wildlife experts say some large birds can lift animals twice their own body weight ... pet owners should stay close by their pets when outdoors, or use a leash ... indeed, this moving account brought to mind another similar experience which occurred years ago involving our mutual friend and acquaintance Grandpa DooLittle ... my memory is as follows:

A while back, Grandpa and Grandma DooLittle came under relentless attack from a thieving and pretentious, overgrown raven wearing a ragged suit of course feathers as black as a shiny lump of coal ... the airborne larcenist would sit around all day at various vantage points of sufficient height watching for anything worthy of blatant pilferage, it would then swoop down and swipe whatever happened to tickle it's fancy at the time ... although, the bird's poor lack of judgment and untoward behavior appeared to be compulsive in nature, for each of the many items "swooped and swiped" would always reappear undamaged and in their original locations within two or three days ... none of the items were of any real benefit or use to the big fowl ... among the list of objects taken at one time or another were numerous pieces of silverware, sets of keys, reading glasses, writing instruments, watches and last but not least -- Grandma DooLittle's false teeth which had been left soaking in a bowlful of baking soda and warm water on the kitchen window sill ... Grandpa had often pondered bringing about immediate cessation of this inglorious menace to society's existence with a well-placed load of birdshot from his trusty Long Tom shotgun, but reckoned the miserable wretch to be more of an entertaining nuisance than genuine threat ... besides, the mangy reprobate seemed to be a bit of an independent and artful thinker ... such as himself!

However, most notable of all thefts had to be Grandpa DooLittle's prized, antique, hand carved Meerschaum pipe ... each evening after supper, Grandpa would go out on the porch to sit in his rocking chair and smoke that grand pipe ... this particular evening, after settling into his chair and loading that pipe with his favorite tobacco, Grandpa noticed a loose shoelace on one of his old brogans, so he gently placed his now lit Meerschaum on the porch rail and bent down to retie his shoe ... when he raised himself back up and reached for his pipe, his pipe was gone ... in the distance could be heard the sound of wings flapping as Grandpa looked up just in time to see that pesky raven lifting up, up and away with his beloved Meerschaum pipe clenched tightly within it's crusty beak ... Grandpa DooLittle was beside himself as a lone tear crept down his wrinkled face ... not so much because of the untimely theft of his Meerschaum, he knew from previous dealings with the unscrupulous critter that his pipe would most likely reappear unharmed on the porch railing within a day or so ... no, Grandpa DooLittle was more perturbed with the realization that he wouldn't be able to enjoy that fresh tin of tobacco until that bird decided to return the Meerschaum, his only pipe!

A few minutes later, in front of the general store, Grandpa Poteet and Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt had settled in for their usual evening game of checkers ... now Uncle Virgil was resident scholar, philosopher and near genius, rumoured to be well over one hundred years-of-age, and thought to possess an IQ of galactic dimensions, consequently, due to his tediously protracted longevity, this dignified centenarian was hard of hearing and nearly blind to boot ... sometimes after supper, Grandpa DooLittle would go down to the store to watch his fellow curmudgeons play checkers, so when Virgil Hunnicutt saw this frowzled creature all of a sudden drop down out of the sky and come to rest perched on a nearby wooden crate, intently staring down at the checkerboard, a smoking Meerschaum pipe sitting proudly in it's mouth, he couldn't help but proclaim ... "DooLittle, it probably ain't none of my business at all, but you'd better cut back just a tad on your intake of do-it-yourself liquid intoxicants ... you're beginnin' to look as haggard as a tired, ol' crow!"


Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Jefferson Bible -- A Founding Father's View On God ...

Questions were asked in comments to my previous post entitled "General Beliefs Of Our Founding Fathers" as to "what about The Jefferson Bible?" ... the following is an article written by Louis Sahagun of the LA Times ... it is strictly his personal opinion used here for informational purposes only ... you must decide whether or not you agree with that opinion, or with The Jefferson Bible, for that is the right of every individual ...

[Making good on a promise to a friend to summarize his views on Christianity, Thomas Jefferson set to work with scissors, snipping out every miracle and inconsistency he could find in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then, relying on a cut-and-paste technique, he reassembled the excerpts into what he believed was a more coherent narrative and pasted them onto blank paper -- alongside translations in French, Greek and Latin. In a letter sent from Monticello to John Adams in 1813, Jefferson said his "wee little book" of 46 pages was based on a lifetime of inquiry and reflection and contained "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man." He called the book "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth." Friends dubbed it the Jefferson Bible. It remains perhaps the most comprehensive expression of what the nation's third president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence found ethically interesting about the Gospels and their depiction of Jesus. "I have performed the operation for my own use," he continued, "by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter, which is evidently his and which is as easily distinguished as diamonds in a dunghill."

The little leather-bound tome, several facsimiles of which are kept at the Huntington Library in San Marino, continues to fascinate scholars exploring the powerful and varied relationships between the Founding Fathers and the most sacred book of the Western World. The big question now, said Lori Anne Ferrell, a professor of early modern history and literature at Claremont Graduate University, is this: "Can you imagine the reaction if word got out that a president of the United States cut out Bible passages with scissors, glued them onto paper and said, 'I only believe these parts?' " ... "He was a product of his age," said Ferrell, whose upcoming book, "The Bible and the People," includes a chapter on the Jefferson Bible. "Yet, he is the least likely person I'd want to pray with. He was more skeptical about religion than the other Founding Fathers."

In Jefferson's version of the Gospels, for example, Jesus is still wrapped in swaddling clothes after his birth in Bethlehem. But there's no angel telling shepherds watching their flocks by night that a savior has been born. Jefferson retains Jesus' crucifixion but ends the text with his burial, not with the resurrection. Stripping miracles from the story of Jesus was among the ambitious projects of a man with a famously restless mind. At 71, he read Plato's "Republic" in the original Greek and found it lackluster.

Ever the scientist, he inoculated his wife, children and many of his slaves against smallpox with fresh pus drawn from infected domestic farm animals, according to Robert C. Ritchie, W.M. Keck Foundation director of research at the Huntington Library. "For a lot of people, taking scissors to the Bible would be such an act of desecration they wouldn't do it," Ritchie said. "Yet, it gives a reading into Jefferson's take on the Bible, which was not as divine word put into print, but as a book that can be cut up."

Jefferson, a tall vigorous man who preferred Thucydides and Cicero to the newspapers of his day, was not the only 18th century leader who questioned traditional Christian teachings. Like many other upper-class, educated citizens of the new republic, including George Washington, Jefferson was a deist. Deists differed from traditional Christians by rejecting miraculous occurrences and prophecies and embracing the notion of a well-ordered universe created by a God who withdrew into detached transcendence. Critics of the time regarded deism as an ill-conceived attempt to reconcile religion with scientific discoveries. For rationalists in the Age of Enlightenment, deism was one of many efforts to liberate humankind from what the deists viewed as superstitious beliefs. Jefferson was a particular fan of Joseph Priestley, a scientist, ordained minister and one of Jefferson's friends. Priestley -- who discovered oxygen and invented carbonated water and the rubber eraser -- published books that infamously cast a critical eye upon biblical miracles. Jefferson was particularly fond of Priestley's comparison of the lives and teachings of Socrates and Jesus.

Discussions and letters between Jefferson and another friend, Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush, led Jefferson to compile his "wee little book." In a letter to Rush on April 21, 1803, Jefferson said his editing experiment aimed to see whether the ethical teachings of Jesus could be separated from elements he believed were attached to Christianity over the centuries. "To the corruption of Christianity I am indeed opposed," he wrote to Rush, "but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself." Therefore, Ritchie said, "for Jefferson, the Bible was a book that could be made and unmade."

The Jefferson Bible remained largely unknown beyond a close circle of relatives and friends until 1904, when its publication was ordered by Congress. About 9,000 copies were issued and distributed in the Senate and the House. Today several editions of the Jefferson Bible are available through booksellers ... "Say nothing of my religion," Jefferson once said. "It is known to myself and my God alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life; if that has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.] 

"Jefferson compiled a Bible without miracles that ended with Jesus' burial instead of resurrection." -- Louis Sahagun, LA Times Staff Writer

Friday, March 5, 2010

General Beliefs Of Our Founding Fathers ...

It has been recently stated that our Founding Fathers were not religious, and that their principles and beliefs are neither appropriate nor relevant in contemporary America, you be the judge ...

George Washington, June 8, 1783 in a letter to the governors of the states on disbanding the army: "I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in His holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field; and, finally, that he would be most graciously pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation."

Thomas Jefferson, April 21, 1803 in a letter to Dr. Benjamin: "My views...are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others..."

1781, Query XVIII of his Notes on the State of Virginia: "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."

James Madison, 1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia: "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We've staked the future of all our political institutions upon our sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

John Adams, "The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion..."

I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol.
You shall not take in vain the name of the Lord your God.
Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.
Honor your father and mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Taken from a letter to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813: "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were....the general principles of Christianity....I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature."

Benjamin Franklin, March 9, 1790 in a letter to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University: "Here is my creed. I believe in/on God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshiped.
That the most acceptable service we render to Him is in doing good to His other Children. That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever Sect I meet with them.
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, is the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see."

Constitutional Convention of 1787, taken from original manuscript of the speech: "God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel!"


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Voters To The Left Of Me, Voters To The Right! ...

An earlier post entitled "One And Done" - along with talk of deceit and corruption in politics and government brought to mind the following story of how incumbent Sheriff Clarence A. VanMeter won re-election to a second term as County Sheriff ... Clarence was being challenged by a well-known and worthy opponent in one Howard P. Slaughter, "Howie P." as he was affectionately known had just retired after 30+ years as a highly decorated and respected state policeman, having risen through the ranks to the attainment of captain, and was proud of the fact that he had never arrested a crook that he didn't like ... consequently, things weren't  looking good for Clarence, as Howie P. appeared to be the more popular and qualified man for the job ... Clarence figured he needed to somehow gain an advantage over Howie P. ... so that night, a couple days prior to the election, Clarence recruited the aid of his head Deputy Sheriff Cletus A. VanMeter, who was also his first cousin, and the pair proceeded to the local cemetery with flashlight, pencil and writing tablet in tow ... Clarence ground the big V-8 to a halt in the middle of the gravel lane that divided the graveyard equally into two sections ... curious Cletus then enquired as to the purpose of this eerie, late-night visit ... had there been some type of theft or vandalism that necessitated their immediate investigation? ... to the contrary, Clarence explained that he was running way behind in the polls, and word on the street was that if something drastic didn't soon happen in his favor, there was no way he could beat Howie P. Slaughter in his bid for re-election as County Sheriff ... so Clarence was about to do a little last-minute, good ol' boy campaigning!

Sheriff Clarence A. VanMeter ordered Deputy Sheriff Cletus A. VanMeter to take flashlight, pencil and writing tablet in hand and go write down all the names he could find of eligible, registered voters from all headstones located to the left of the road while he remained behind in the patrol car to monitor the police radio and keep an eye peeled so they wouldn't get caught, besides, Clarence's eyesight was so bad he couldn't read the markings on the stones, especially in the pitch-black darkness - but more importantly, Clarence was deathly afraid of ghosts ... Cletus collected all the names he could find and returned to the car to show Clarence the results, he had done quite well and Clarence was pleased with the numbers thinking they would be sufficient to put him over the top ... Clarence then abruptly ordered Cletus back into the patrol car so they could scram before attracting unwanted attention ... Cletus, his countenance turning a bit ashen, his conscience eating away at him, hesitated for a moment before getting back inside the car, then he blurted out the following ... "Sheriff I just don't think what we're doin' here is right!" ... Clarence quickly admonished his cousin, advising him that without availing himself of the unscrupulous advantages of electoral fraud he would assuredly lose the election, possibly by a landslide, and they would both soon be out of a job ... to which Cletus nobly replied ... "oh that's not what concerns me Clarence, I just think that folks on the right side of this road have just as much right to cast a vote as those on the left!"

Clarence A. VanMeter went on to spend most of his entire adult life holding some form or another of public office, but one thing could be said of ol' Clarence ... he never forgot those folks that put and kept him there ... every Decoration Day, faithfully and without fail, he would place flags or flowers on the graves of his loyal constituents.