Old Farmer’s Advice I

Credit: Robert S. Donovan / photo on flickr

Thanks to the many of you who responded to last week’s “I’m Ticked!” article. While I’d love to reply to each of you who went to the trouble to write, other responsibilities simply won’t allow that. Nevertheless, if you replied to last week’s article, thank you for doing so!

The one thing that was crystal clear in your responses is that, indeed, a bunch of folks have felt my pain when trying to conduct business over the phone by communicating with an automated response system. Some told me just to throw the useless statements in the trash. Others told me to cool it. One said I was overreacting. A few said cold beer would help!

This week and next week I plan to share some stuff I first saw several years ago. It’s not particularly theologically profound. Yet often practical theology is manifested in the common sense way of how and why we do some things and how and why we don’t do other things. So here we go, with the first installment of an old farmer’s advice:

A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Don’t corner something that you know is meaner than you.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
Meanness don’t just happen overnight.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.

More advice from an old farmer will be added next time. God bless your week!

I’m Ticked!

Credit: FreeImages.com/Magnus K

Credit: FreeImages.com/Magnus K

That’s a polite way to put it. Actually I thought of using a different six letter word that’s not nearly as polite as “ticked.” But I’m a Lutheran clergyman, so I told the devil to leave me alone!

Why am I ticked? I’ll tell you why. This morning I spent way too much time on my mobile phone trying simply to explain to our old land line phone company that it’s ridiculous for them to continue sending billing statements to our old address when the balance due is $.00.

That company’s land line service is not available in the area to which we moved two months ago. So I cancelled our service and paid the final balance due. Yet we are still receiving a statement, mailed to our former address, with a balance due of $.00.

My first call to the company in question was answered, as I’ve come to expect, by an automated voice asking the reason for my call. The automaton offered several options, including new service, technical difficulties, billing questions, accounting, etc., providing instructions to press whatever key matched the reason for my call. Easier said than done! No option really matched the reason I was calling. But I chose one, with high hopes for success. Alas, it was not to be!

After finally getting to a real live person, I explained the twofold reason for my call:

  1. It’s not necessary to continue to send a statement for a service that was properly terminated more than two months ago, with a balance due of $.00.
  2. If the company insists on sending such statements, at least send them to our new address, which was not possible to amend on the company’s Web site.

The first person asked for my zillion digit account number and the reason for my call. She decided she couldn’t help me and transferred me to accounting. Guess what? Accounting also asked for the same account number and reason for my call, which I fairly politely provided.

After spending a bunch of time on hold, I was told by accounting that he couldn’t figure out how to stop the statements. He transferred me to billing, who also asked for you know what – my account number and the reason for my call!

After providing both, now for the third time, along with more time on hold, I was told by the billing guy that he couldn’t do anything but that he thought accounting could help me. By that time my patience, which is pretty skimpy in the first place, had been totally consumed!

When the accounting guy came back on, it wasn’t the same guy I had already talked to in accounting. No, it was a new guy. And guess what he wanted to know – my account number and the reason for my call! When I told him I had already provided that information three times and saw no reason to do so for a fourth time, his brilliant suggestion to my dilemma was simply to ignore the statements and throw them away if they keep coming.

Well now, why didn’t I think of that? Actually, I had thought of that. As a matter of fact, that’s what I’ve been doing with those statements since we moved. So now this company goes to the expense of producing and mailing unnecessary statements. The Post Office goes to the trouble of discovering the statements were addressed to the wrong address and going to the further trouble of forwarding them to our new address, so I can throw them away. Anybody out there feel my pain?

I’m sure there must be a spiritual or theological lesson to be learned by this experience. But I’m too ticked right now to think of one! I’m open to your suggestions. Have a blessed week!

Brit Hume on Abortion

BabyAs a follow up to last week’s Perspectives, I feel moved to share the text of a commentary presented late last month by national television journalist Brit Hume. To view the video, click here.

Fox News commentator Bret Baier’s introduction: “Amid the calls for investigations and defunding of Planned Parenthood over the alleged selling of body parts from aborted fetuses, there is a larger point being made about the industry. Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume is here with that side. Brit …”

Brit Hume: “Whatever comes from the revelations about Planned Parenthood and its participation in the trafficking of fetal body parts, those revelations will have achieved one thing. They have parted the veil of antiseptic tidiness behind which the abortion industry has for so long operated. The sight of a senior Planned Parenthood official – and a doctor to boot – discussing the market for fetal body parts in between bites of salad and sips of wine was stomach turning. That’s because it laid bare the essentially brutal nature of abortion.

“Let’s be blunt. Abortion involves the extraction and killing of a human life, which within a couple weeks of pregnancy has a beating heart. Five weeks in, its hands and legs begin to grow. It is these tiny creatures, and too often ones that are far more developed, that are pulled from a mother’s womb and crushed with forceps. Oh, but oh so carefully so those body parts can later be sold or preserved.

“This gruesome procedure shows the extent to which we as a people have been anesthetized by the estimated 55 million – 55 million – abortions performed since the Supreme Court discovered a constitutional right to that procedure 42 years ago.

“Will we as a nation not someday come to look upon that decision and what it has done to us, not to mention the 55 million, with horror and regret? One can only hope we will.”

I thank God for the courage of this public journalist to speak the truth about what has often been portrayed as merely a matter of a woman’s choice, made for the sake of personal convenience or of her financial inability (real or perceived) to provide for the child developing in her womb. In fact, those who have observed an actual abortion testify to its gruesome and violent nature.

It’s encouraging that after 42+ years of legalized abortion, the attitude of the American people is seemingly moderating, although slightly. CBS News national polls showed that in 2007, 18% of those polled said abortion should never be permitted. Today those polls show that 25% said abortion should never be permitted. That’s a start, but we have a long way to go.

Recently I heard this simple but profound observation: “As a former fetus, I oppose abortion!” Can I get an “Amen!” to that?

The Value of Life – Animal and Human

An ABC News report last week was titled: Global Outrage and Worldwide Outpouring over Death of Cecil the Lion. It said, in part: “Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who acknowledged hunting and killing Cecil, a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, is now the one being hounded on the Internet by protesters flooding his social media, creating online petitions …” Expletives and death threats are included.

Palmer issued a statement that despite having proper permits obtained by professional guides, he deeply regretted the early July hunt that “resulted in the taking of this lion.” He stated that he had no awareness that Cecil was part of a wildlife study and was widely known in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, on a separate topic, CNN News reported: “An anti-abortion group has released an online video that it says documents how Planned Parenthood is selling fetal organs for a profit, a felony, while violating medical ethics by altering normal abortion procedures so as to preserve the organs.”

“Planned Parenthood has countered that it donates the tissue for scientific research and receives only reimbursement for its expenses, which is legal. The group also says it helps people donate tissue “with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.”

These two reports starkly portray an intriguing imbalance of deeply felt respect for life. On the one hand, people cry out passionately and even violently against a man who took the life of an animal in Africa. Cecil was revered as a special animal from a species of animals generally referred to as “king of the beasts.” His death obviously struck a chord among many. Terry and I have seen “Lion King” on the stage two times. We think lions are awesome animals! So do many of you!

On the other hand, Planned Parenthood, a national organization that performed 327,653 abortions in 2014 alone, is not only doing those abortions but also seems to be selling fetal body parts after the abortion is completed. While protests against abortion have been held since 1973, are they as passionate as that in Cecil the lion’s case? I’m not encouraging expletives or death threats, but peaceful persistence. How does one compare the life of an animal – as awesome as lions are – with the lives of millions of unborn children? Which life is more important – animal or human?

Since the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States, 55 million innocent embryonic human babies have been aborted. It’s estimated that 44 million abortions occur each year throughout the world. Without seeing visual depictions of an abortion, its violent and gruesome nature simply cannot be comprehended. Check the Internet for yourself.

According to the National Pro-Life Alliance, abortion is the leading cause of death in the United States. Annually in America, 121,000 people die from accidents; 580,000 people die from cancer; 600,000 people die from heart disease; 1.6 million unborn babies die from abortion.

People valued the life of a lion with a name – Cecil. How much more should be valued the life, embryonic and fetal though it may be, of every child in the womb of his or her mother – a living being already with an audible heartbeat only 12 weeks after conception! Lord, have mercy!