There isn’t any internal textual basis to believe that Paul is the next great prophet after Jesus who came to fix and extend what was missing in the Gospel message. The idea that Paul’s writings are the prophetic “Word of God” is a sham that only congeals around the council of Nicea choosing his writings as canon in order to establish the official state religion under Constantine. Paul’s failures as a recovering moralist were the doorway to provide the authoritarian structure that became the Christian religion in spite of Jesus’ warnings against it. The letter to the Romans is interesting only as a historical reference–it indicates what Paul as a learned man, interested in how to apply Jesus’ teachings to a broader community,. understood about the Gospel through the stories he heard from others. It is a commentary subject to his biases and cultural context. Jesus himself did not add any new rules and regulations but rather pointed to the relational intent of the Law–to love one another. So looking to Paul to add more rules only shows ignorance of the Gospel and promotes the idea that Paul’s teachings supplant Jesus’ in creating a new rule book for living.
I had a neighbor back in the 70’s in Athens, Georgia. He was a Marine sniper. He had photos taken of him with almost every kill he made (which were mostly non combat situations) while he was in Viet Nam. He also had photos of him posing with a white tiger he had killed, and several regular Bengal tigers. Also, several Elephants. He ranged from Vietnam into Thailand. He had no remorse about killing anyone, man, woman or child. Later on, in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I had a man working for me at the mattress factory in Rome who served as an officer in the Army in Vietnam. His photo album was even more horrific. It showed him and his company with huge piles of bodies of Vietcong (supposedly) men, women, children….they were all posing with the bodies and smiling. They were shown sitting on mounds of bodies eating their meals. He had photos of his men desecrating several bodies. These photos were souvenirs of his service. I know that every soldier who serves in war, who served in war was not like these two men, but in my experience many were. When I hear some veterans from that war speak of how they were treated when they returned to American…spit on? Cursed? I would like to defend them and tell them I appreciate their service. Then, I think back to the real photos that these two men showed me. If I came in contact with two men who did these types of things in my everyday life, how many more were out there who did these types of things…..or worse. It makes it hard for me to defend war of any kind when I consider the things these men did.
I have done so many things wrong in my life. I have made so many mistakes. I’ve had my share of luck though, and I’ve made some good choices.
Fifty years ago, I had the best luck of my life when as an 18 year old boy I got married to a young girl named Paula Kay Neurauter. We were kids. Two naive people who had met scarcely six months earlier in college and fell in love. Two people who needed each other…much more than we ever knew at the time. Two people who didn’t know what marriage really meant but who went boldly into it full speed ahead.
Two people who didn’t know that we’d be parents who knew very little about parenting, with kids who practically grew up with us.
Two people who didn’t know we’d be grandparents very early in life, that we’d be fellow employees at the same company for a decade.
Two people who are friends.
Two people who didn’t know fifty years would pass by like a blur That time would relentlessly carry us past the wonderful, happy times, and the sad mournful times at the same speed. Time which makes long days, and short years From 18 to 68 in a hurry!
I want my wife to know there’s never been anyone for me but her. Through all she’s had to put up with, through everything we’ve shared both good and bad, she’s always stood by me.
I was thinking back just the other day about 1969….
A lot of things happened that year. The country was still in turmoil from what was probably one of the most historic years in its History in 1968. MLK and Robert Kennedy had died from assassins bullets that year. The war in Vietnam continued to escalate….1969 was much the same.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married on May 31, and then a few weeks later recorded “Give Peace a Chance” Teddy Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island…and his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne died.
Charles Manson and his gang went on their “Helter-Skelter” killing spree. Manson’s followers thought him to be Jesus Christ.
Nixon was sworn in as President of the Unites States back in January…and continued to carpet bomb the Vietnamese. The Berkely riots took place in California….and in November a quarter of a million people staged a peaceful protest of the war in Washington D.C.
There was that little concert in New York that grew and grew, and became an iconic symbol of a generation. I think they called it Woodstock.
Mankind landed on the moon, and Neal Armstrong became the first human to set foot there…quite an accomplishment.
It was quite a year for me personally too. I continued to attend West Georgia College and just before the holiday break for Christmas I met a girl.
We dated the rest of the year. Went to the student center and played a lot cards together. Went to see some movies. We rode around with our friends Don Hunter and Karen Seay in Don’s old Dodge. We walked, we talked…and we fell in love.
When Paula told me sometime that spring that her parents were going to move to California, we decided that Paula would stay here in Georgia with me….permanently.
My little Yankee girl became my wife on June 14 of that year and 50 years later…she’s still here, putting up with me! (which takes an enormous amount of patience) She’s become a Southerner now after all those years. We’ve had four children and a passle of grandchildren. We’ve lived through a lot of things. Good things and some bad things. Ups and downs. We were kid’s back then in 1969. We really probably had no business getting married. We sure didn’t know anything! We’ve learned a lot in the last 50 years. I hope we have many more in which to learn.
I love you Sweetie! Happy Anniversary tomorrow!
A friend posted wondering how we had gone from a society where you could go from being so trusting as to leave home without locking your doors, to having bars on your doors and windows. I commented that I thought it was partially due to the huge change in our technology -vs- our cultural inability to deal with these changes.
We have gone from simplicity to complexity so quickly, from the need for fewer possessions, to the want for many possessions so rapidly, that our society isn’t able to deal with it. And if you can’t earn it, or don’t have the money, then just steal what you need.
Our grandparents used to work in the fields from dawn til dusk, then eat supper, read the bible and go to bed at dark. They had just a few pieces of furniture, a few garments, and grew or raised their own food. They didn’t know they needed much else. Grandpa loved his radio…that is until he got a television.
We are now convinced that unless we have the latest and greatest gadgets, we are not being served. We are falling behind everyone else. Oh….the pressure to keep up. The money it takes to keep up. The anxiety which is felt trying to keep up. The need to fill every waking second with some type of action or activity. Just..as..I..am..now…doing.
As I said, I remember when a laptop was the place where your baby laid their head. Where do we go from here??
Fall is coming.
The days of Summer are numbered. The only thing left in the garden is Okra and a few scraggly tomatoes growing up too high for the bugs to get. The mosquitoes are so bad that they looked like a veritable cloud around my poor little dog when she went outside this evening. You can’t walk around town without slathering yourself in a ton of “off” So…I’ll trade the last of the fresh Okra to get rid of the mosquitoes.
Perhaps an early frost this year? An early end to the “dog days” of the Summer of 2014. Usually the first frost is very close to my birthday…which is October 21, but I definitely would not mind a good hard, white hoar frost much sooner. I love them. I love the crisp, snapping, hot Apple cider, make a pot of chili days, which start out in the mornings with a white icy ground and ease up into the mid 60’s by afternoon, with a bright warming Autumn sun in the sky.
I love those days. The ones where you wear a sweatshirt but not a coat, and you see the kids out tossing around a football. The ones where the wind kicks up little whirlwinds of red, orange, brown and yellow leaves. The smell of somebody off somewhere in the distance burning a pile of those same dry leaves. The sunsets which are bright and clear with a few streaks of purple… oh how sweet and precious are those days. More valuable to me than piles of gold or diamonds.
I want to be even more aware of the wonderful days of Fall this year. I want to notice how blazing Orange the pumpkins are at Halloween, and how wonderful my wife’s Thanksgiving dressing smells and tastes. And then I want to see the little one’s eyes light up at Christmas when they tear into their gifts. I want to hold my new granddaughter, and smell the fresh newness of her life.
I never took the days of Autumn for granted. Even as a child I knew they were something special. The first poem I ever wrote was about the beauty of a special Fall day. The first song I played on my guitar and sang to was “Autumn Leaves” ” ….the falling leaves, drift by my window, the autumn leaves of red and gold…”
And so I hope for an early fall, an idyllic fall, a peaceful fall, a loving fall, a prosperous fall and a memorable fall. Not just for myself, but for all of us who need one right now so very badly. For those of us who have already seen more of them than we will ever see in the years ahead.
A taste of simplicity, a smell of memory, a sight of loveliness, a sound of familiarity and the feel of hope…for the future of all mankind. An Autumn of change..and not just in the weather.