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Monthly Archives: May 2008

Generic Apology

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Some people have misconstrued statements I made in past blogs as denigrating hillbillies. It was never my intention to offend hillbillies or imply that they are less educated, less diligent, or less intelligent than other people. I sincerely apologize for offending hillbillies, some of whom I count as dear friends and close relatives. I also apologize in advance to my children, neighbors, fellow church members, Sunday school students, distant relatives, and anyone else whom I may have influenced, however slightly. Should they seek elected office, I hereby absolve them of any complicity in offending hillbillies through having known me or having known of me yet having neglected to denounce or renounce me for my alleged anti-hillbilly sentiments. I look forward to continuing effectiveness with my hillbilly friends and partners.
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Father of Waters

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As I was driving Belinda and Nelly to church this Mother’s Day, we crossed the Mississippi River, and Belinda remarked that the water was high. Nelly wanted to know how the river could flood when there was nothing to keep the water from flowing downriver.

“Where does the water come from?” I asked.

“God?” she ventured.

“Yes,” I said, “but I was asking a scientific question, not a religious one.”

“From snow?” she said with a little more assurance.

“Yes,” I said, “and rain. This time of year there’s a lot of rain and not much snow melt.”

“Is the Mississippi the longest river in the United States?”

“I think so.” I turned to Belinda. “Isn’t it the longest?” I asked. Then I thought of the Missouri meandering over the plains states into Montana. “Unless the Missouri…,”

“No,” said Belinda. “I’m sure the Mississippi is the longest. It’s a very important river.”

“Why isn’t it called the Minnesota?” Nelly asked. “It starts in Minnesota.”

“Do you know what ‘Mississippi’ means in the Indian language it comes from?”

“No.”

“It means ‘Father of Waters.’

“Oh,” said Belinda playfully. “Then it should be Misterssippi.”

By the way, the Missouri really is the longest river at 2341 mi, 21 miles longer than the Mississippi. See here for more.

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Walking Backwards

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A Parable

I saw the devil in a desolate land walking backwards as fast as he could. He was making good time looking intently behind.

“Why do you walk like that?” I asked.

“So I can see the mistakes I’ve made and the pitfalls I’ve avoided,” he said. “I am what all my past choices have made me.”

Falling in beside him, I was soon insensibly matching his pace, and I could see what he meant. The landscape stretched away from me bathed in a crimson glare. I could see quite near where I had lied, and further off where I had betrayed a friend. In the distance were monuments of my childhood: the time I was falsely accused, the time when I cheated on my homework. All my past lay before me, and I felt the terrible weight of its certainty.

Suddenly, I heard a loud voice saying, “Turn toward the light.” I realized with a start that I was walking backwards like the devil, and I remembered that “to repent” means “to turn.”

I stopped and turned around. The land before me was very dark, but in the distance a great light was shining. The devil was nowhere to be seen. I looked down and saw that I could make out my way for only a few steps. As I crept forward, I found that my way was always lit but only for a step or two. I began to walk with greater confidence and soon broke into a run. The light was before me, and I felt like I could fly. I could see indistinctly the figure of a man up ahead, and I knew that it was me.

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