The God of Our Creation

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As a believer I’ve become alarmed by what seems to be a widening gulf between the Church corporately and the Word as expressed in her political preferences. What could possibly entice the Bride of Christ to walk so far from His heart? How is it possible that we, the Church, have more in common with the goats of Mathew 25 than with the sheep?

To be fair there are still congregations that seek to attend to the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned but these are rare gems and not the way of most churches. Attempts to have efforts of the government to help with the caring are met with loud, righteous, indignant claims that this is the role of the church and not government.

Fine. We have no argument except when you then tell me that this is a Christian nation. If the US is indeed a Christian nation then we should compel her to fulfill the desires of the heart of Christ. Instead we cling to social and political arguments while ignoring the words of Jesus.

And if we have a government of the people for the people, what’s wrong with it caring for the people? Sorry, I digress.

I began to wonder how the Church could walk so far from the shadow of the cross.  Where did this disconnect originate? Have we replaced God with another? Or maybe rather than replacing Him, have we given Him an equal?

Are we worshiping more than Him alone?

I suspected the answer would be found in the likelihood that we had created at least one more god. My suspicions landed quickly on money. I believe it true that many have traded manna for mammon but this seemed too easy a target. Besides, many, indeed most folks, will never experience the elaborate lives our televangelists do. Many of us struggle daily with making basic ends meet.

Maybe the trade of manna for mammon was symptomatic of another god’s prevalence. A god freely accessible to all of us. One few would suspect of supplanting Christ our Lord.

With all of the frenzied and impassioned arguments over a right behavior when the US flag was marched onto a playing field and the National Anthem played, I began to suspect that the United States, her symbol (image) and song, had become our new triune god.

Is there a difference between Nebuchadnezzar’s demand that everyone fall down and worship his god when they hear music any different from the expectation that all must rise, take off their hats, and place their hands over their heart during the playing of the National anthem?

Is there an equivalency to be found in the experience of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and football players refusing to stand?

Daniel 3:4

Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” [1]

In the passage from Daniel the word “worship” concerned me. Did this mean that while in a fallen down state the people were required to do something else? Did they have to utter certain words or phrases? Nothing in the Hebrew definition or common use of the word translated worship indicates this.

The paying of homage seems to be key. So what does that mean? Dictionary.com defines homage as respect or reverence paid or rendered. Here it seems that no other action seems required. The “falling down” is the act of worship, the paying of homage.

It is easy to argue that football players kneeling during the National anthem are being thrown into a metaphorical furnace. Even the President of the United States has suggested that their livelihood should be stripped from them for refusing to pay the homage prescribed when the music being played.

Daniel’s encounter with King Darius is a bit of a flipped coin. In this case we see Daniel instructed not to pray to anyone or anything except the King for the next 30 days. Daniel went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.[2]

Daniel, I assume, did not pray to Darius but continues his relationship with God, the true God[3]. He remains committed to God thanking Him only and making petitions of Him only.

Using the NFL as a possible theater where one god is traded for another let’s look at the reality of the schedule. No person attending a noon or 1 P.M. game is going to church. There simply isn’t time. If your drive to the parking area is over an hour the opportunity for attending both Church and a game fades with every mile you have to drive. Watching it on TV is doable to be sure but for those going to the game there is only time for homage to be paid to that other god, our King Darius, the United States as represented by her song and symbol.

A shift in allegiance from one god to another is best measured in whose decrees you find have the most merit. In the Christian community within the US we seem to have elevated our laws above God’s laws. Nowhere is this clearer than with our treatment of the foreigner or the elevation of the US flag to a place of honor greater than that of God’s.

God’s heart for all of mankind is revealed in his instructions to us on how we should behave toward the foreigner

Leviticus 19:33-34

“ ‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. [4]

In Malachi 3 God provides a clear warning about those he will testify against. “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. [5]

In Exodus 23 we read “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. [6]

And just in case you’re inclined to say that laws applying to citizens don’t apply to foreigners let’s see what God had to say about that in Deuteronomy “And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. 17 Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike.[7]

Arguing “they broke the law”, we ignore God’s clear instructions walking away from His heart with economic arguments, social arguments, political arguments and legal arguments. Anything to justify our individual and national sin.

We ignore our own place alongside Abel, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah and all of the other ancients in the faith by forgetting or ignoring the fact that we too are strangers, foreigners. The writer of Hebrews said :  All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. [8]

Our spiritual heritage is that of a stranger. One of my favorite ole time hymns, I’ll Fly Away, contains the lyric “this world is not my home I’m just a passing through”.

The treatment of foreigners is but one more example of why I believe we have traded YHWY for USA. Another is our vilification of those seeking justice by not standing for our god when her music is played. David wrote in Psalms For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice;

Finally let me point you to the flag. Our flag is as representative of the United States as the cross is to our sacrificed Lord.

In the US our flag is supposed to be flown to the right of the speaker. Why?

Because this is the place of honor.

When you’ve been to a Church that displays the US flag on the platform how many times have you seen the US flag placed in the place of honor while the Christian flag was relegated to the place of lesser import, the speakers left.

Every time. Every single time.

Worse yet is this nauseating reality. A popular motif in Christianity is that of three crosses. Typically the center one, the place where our Lord yielded His life for us, is taller than the other two.

Similarly, when a church displays three flag poles one is typically the state flag, another the US flag and finally the Christian flag. The order of honor is center, right and then left. In the center, higher than the others, flies the US flag. Then to the right of that comes the state flag and finally, last in order of honor comes the Christian flag bearing the cross.

Elevated to a position of honor above that afforded the Kingdom of Heaven is the flag of the United States and one of her member states.

Lastly, in case you still doubt the merits of my concern, consider the ichthys.  In early Christian churches the Greek word for fish (ichthus) came to be interpreted as a cipher for Jesus. Translated to English, IXOYE, the first letter of each of the Greek words for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior” spell ichthus. We do not know when this cipher was first used; but once the identification was made, the fish became a standard Christian symbol.[9]

We know that during times of persecution Christians could identify themselves to others as believers by drawing the ichthus in the dirt, sand or mud.
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The ichthus has been joined recently with the US flag in a repulsive display that seems to indicate the Lord Jesus’ approval of our nation’s behavior.

We, Christians, have allowed a kingdom of earth to be elevated above the Kingdom of Heaven and we call it patriotism. It seems that we, the corporate representation of the people of the United States, have become our own god, walking after our own interests, and leaning on our own understanding.

It is easy to forsake the heart of Christ when you worship another.

In his book Six Months in the White House with Abraham Lincoln, Francis B. Carpenter wrote that when questioned about whether God was on our side (the North’s) President Lincoln replied “I am not at all concerned about that for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.”

Given the distance between our national policy regarding foreigners and the heart of Christ coupled with the elevation of our national symbol above that of God’s, it is clear to me that today we do not share Lincoln’s concern. We are convinced of our own rightness and are certain that God approves.

My shame is so great it sickens me.

[1] The New International Version. (2011). (Da 3:4–6). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] The New International Version. (2011). (Da 6:10). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Aramaic (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] The New International Version. (2011). (Le 19:33–34). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] The New International Version. (2011). (Mal 3:5). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[6] The New International Version. (2011). (Ex 23:9). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[7] The New International Version. (2011). (Dt 1:16–17). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[8] The New International Version. (2011). (Heb 11:13). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[9] Hardin, G. (2003). Fish, Fishing. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 578–579). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

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What About Bob?

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What about Bob?

Many years ago I was sitting on the stoop of a small neighborhood pub called Gene’s Beer Garden. One of the local yokels was pontificating on the evils of labor unions and after I’d heard enough of the unchallenged diatribe I jumped into the conversation with both feet. We argued, he bought us a beer (a full on pint!). We argued some more, I bought us a beer. We kept up this routine for far too long and both of us ended up the clear winner of the dispute.

This is how I met my dear and trusted friend Robert C Anderson Junior. We had no idea then the roads we would travel together. Together we would venture from Morgantown to have some of the most trying and memorable times two folks can share.

Here is your only warning. This story is told in the style of Bob. Therefore brevity is an impossibility. Get a fresh beverage or two, take out the dog, take off your shoes and settle in. Oh, and this story isn’t about two missionaries either. By that I mean our time together included a lot of beverages of the hops and barley variety.

Sometime after we met at Genes, Bob came to work with the same firm I did. I’m not sure how either of us managed that but we were/are both vets and it was a jobs for vets company.  The job required quite a bit of travel so we were off to see the wizard.

On one trip together we were doing a whirlwind European flyby. Kaiserslauthen, Pirmasens, and Monchengladbach, Germany, then  Zutendaal Belgium and finally Burtonwood.

You may have guessed from the way we met that Bob and I were largely opposites.  He was big and tall, I was short and skinny. He was neat, me, not so much. He was organized and all planned out, I was and still am more of a fly by the seat of the pants sort of guy. A genuine Odd Couple.

Bob was so organized I’m sure his picture is right there with the definition of obsessive-compulsive. Folks in the office used to rearrange the things on his desk just to watch him mumble profanities as he carefully placed every object back in its rightful place. The grumbling mumbles were even more entertaining after Bob had all of his teeth pulled.

When Bob and I shared a hotel room it was obvious who was bunking on what side of the room. My room, depending on how many days we’d been there, looked like a stiff breeze had been blowing or a full forced hurricane had just gone through. Bob’s socks were folded.

Bob taught me how to snore. Seriously. Dude could rattle the windows. As long as I got to sleep first or had consumed a fair amount of the amber beverage it didn’t bother me. Otherwise I simply didn’t sleep. One night in Monchengladbach we paid for my fly by the seat of the pants traveling style by finding a hotel room at the very top of four flights of stairs. There was no air-conditioning  and we shared a common bathroom with the other two rooms on this level.  The heat was terrible. No breeze dared to enter the solitary window in our room. Out the doorway, across the hall was another window. We discovered that if we left our door open and opened the window in the hallway that we could coax a small breeze into our sauna.

That night as Bob slept, he had beaten me to sleep, neighbors came to the door to complain about his snoring. Yea. I wasn’t sure what they wanted since my German language skills only included words like beer, good morning, two beers please and thank you. You know, words you need to know to get by. Once they pointed at Bob who continued to saw away blissfully unaware that the villagers were out with their pitchforks, and then to the door, I knew what they wanted.  They actually wanted me to close the door. This of course would have stifled the tiny breeze and amplified the noise even more. I declined the neighbor’s repeated requests as humbly and apologetically as I could given the language barrier.

On to Zutendaal, Belgium. Our mission here covered several days and nearing the end of the trip we were nearing the end of our funds too.  We were staying in a nice hotel near town that had a restaurant, pool, beautiful 18 hole golf course and most importantly a guest bar. As the cash ran out the beer nuts and other condiments offered at the bar became the main stay of our diet.  When the hotel hosted weddings or private parties they usually made us leave the area while the guests were arriving. We were welcome to mosey down later and join the party. Food, glorious 5 star restaurant food, champagne and of course, beer. Did you know that Belgium has more beers than Germany?

After a while Bob had established quite a rapport with the kitchen staff. They had never heard of a cheese platter so Bob quickly educated them on the finer points of preparing one. The finest point being that the more cheeses there were the better the plate. After a while heaping plates of various cheeses were frequently deposited in front of us without even asking.

One night while sitting at the bar I mentioned that I was looking forward to the next leg of the trip to Burtonwood Army Depot. I talked about how I was looking forward to going to England, a country I had never visited before and where at least I could understand the language. Bob, having been there several times before, just laughed. Finally he said “Good luck with that language thing”.

Within 5 minutes of him saying that two huge tour buses pulled up and unloaded a battalion of Brits. All of them eager for the loo and of course the pub which is where they found us. Upon discovering Yanks in the ranks they were eager to converse. So much for the same language thing.  Were I to fill my mouth full of marbles and attempt to talk while being poked in the ribs at odd or infrequent times I would still speak more clearly than these blokes. Bob was in heaven. He had so much fun watching me ask folks to repeat themselves over and over and over again. He never tired in the re-telling of this story.

Burtonwood Army Depot came to be a favorite destination . Situated 2 miles northwest of Warrington, Lancashire, England, Burtonwood had been the largest airfield in Europe during the war (WW2) with the most USAAF personnel and aircraft maintenance facilities.

There was a small family owned hotel we always tried to stay at because the price was right, the food was terrific, they loved Yanks and yes, they had two bars. One for the general public and one for quests of the hotel. The guest bar was open until the guests got weary of the good company or too intoxicated to make out what their brilliant English hosts were trying to say.

Our room was on the second floor in the back of the building. It was a huge room with high ceilings but without air conditioning. It overlooked a grass and dirt courtyard complete with a goat for weed control.  One night I was lying in bed reading while Bob took a shower. The tall doorway into the bathroom had a magnificent wooden header. When Bob came out of the shower room he stopped just inside the room to ask when I wanted to go to dinner. As we were discussing it that huge door header came loose and fell to the floor with a loud and solid crash. Had it hit him it would certainly have killed him. Not to be outdone by the near miss’s failure to undo him he jumped so quickly that his wet feet nearly sent his head to the floor at the same speed the door header had just encountered it. I had no idea he could move so fast.

This being my first time in England I initially refused to drive. At some point on the way to our hotel from the airport I opened my window and presently something paper like flew out. We had no idea what it was or that it might prove very important. It didn’t, but it could have.

One Saturday while driving around looking at the sights I became concerned that Bob was drifting too far to the left as he drove. You might think you’d be prone to drift to the right but that wasn’t the case with Bob, or me as it turned out.

I mentioned that he was getting pretty close to the parked cars but this did nothing to influence Bob’s operation of the vehicle. Wham! We hit a parked car.

Bob stopped the car and got out to have a look. I opened the glove box and started looking for the rental agreement. Remember that piece of paper like litter that went out the window?  This is when we figured out what it was.

As I got out of the car a troupe of huge guys were filing out of a pub on the way to where we were. Meanwhile we were looking at the bumper of the car we’d hit. It was lying on the ground. I, we, thought we were in for it. These dudes were huge. All as big as Bob and some larger. Bob started explaining what had happened when the guy leading the pack said “Yanks? Owh, don’t wurry bout it matey. Appens all da time.”

He and another guy grabbed the bumper, snapped it back on the car and invited us in for a pint. I love that country!

A last cheese story. We had been at the hotel’s guest pub for too long and I had excused myself to go to bed. Sometime later I was awoke by dogs barking in the courtyard and banging against the wall. Then squeak, squeak, thump, squeak, bump and finally “Hey Brother watcha doin?”

Bob was climbing in the window trying desperately not to spill a tall pile of cheese chunks and other cheese plate stuff.  When he left the bar area with the cheese plate he realized too late that he didn’t have a key to get upstairs.  So he went around the building and found a ladder that he had to fight the goat for to use to climb in the window. If you know Bob’s grin, that’s what he was wearing. The Cheshire cat had nothing on Bob. I wish I’d seen him battle that goat.

There are so many many stories I could tell but you have to know this one. During the first Gulf war Bob and I deployed to Saudi Arabia working on separate missions. He went first. Vesta, Bob’s dear mother gave be a box of homemade peanut brittle to take to Bob. It was so long before we managed to be in the same place at the same time the only thing left of the peanut brittle was the box and some crumbs when we finally met up. I don’t think there was even half a peanut left. He laughed and hugged me anyway.

When the war started Bob’s work ground to a halt and he and the team he was with came to the Sheraton hotel in Riyadh where I was already well established. They sat in the hotel drinking coffee all day.  I was a one man team working every day unloading hospitals from the trains, staging them and coordinating their movement forward.

From our rooms high above the city we noticed fairly quickly that the Saudis always seemed to know missiles were incoming long before the alarms went off.  We’d see them running for their cars and scurrying out into the desert. They became our early warning system.

Bob was frustrated. Sitting in the hotel every day watching me go to work for 12, 14 or more hours a day and not allowed to help was getting to him. So Bob gave himself a job. Every night while I slept he would keep watch on the activities below. When they ran for the desert, he would wake me up and we would seek shelter until an all clear was sounded or we just didn’t care anymore.

Several times I would wake and look toward the windows. There he was, sitting in the dark, silhouetted against the lights of the city with the red ember of his dangling cigarette flaring up when he’d take a drag.

I will never lose this image.

If Bob had your back, sleep was easy.

Bob died on September 23rd, 2013. I found out just a few hours ago. Sleep will be elusive and troubled tonight.  Bob’s watch is over.

Runaway Bride

Typically I oppose religious litmus tests for political candidates. The words that follow make no argument for such a test.

I have long feared that the Church, voting in US elections with a single minded focus on abortion, had aligned herself with forces contrary to God’s will for the people. That the pro-business right was dropping pro-life breadcrumbs designed to lead patriots, with religious passions enraged, on a pathway laid out to have them willingly, if not joyfully, commit themselves and the nation to a life of servitude to corporate interests whose sole goal is the pursuit of wealth.

Many Christian’s of that Party reject any governmental role in feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, inviting the stranger in, healing the sick, clothing the naked or visiting the prisoner. This despite the fact that the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States indicates that one of the goals for the document is to provide for the general Welfare of the citizens of this country. Ignoring the Constitutional arguments Christians often argue other points that have no basis in the scripture but are typically rooted in their own personal beliefs concerning the role of government. Inevitably the arguments point to the absolute surety that any social programs helping the needy are taking away from the treasures they themselves are working so hard to store up on earth.  Jesus told us that the location of our treasure is also the location of our heart (Mat 2:21).

With Christian voters by and large solidly supporting Mitt Romney, a proud member of the world’s biggest, most influential cult, the adulterous affair between church and Satan has become undeniable. The marriage is scheduled for consummation this November.

Friends I have known for years who freely acknowledge that the Church of Latter Day Saints is a cult impersonating Christianity are poised to endorse a member of that organization for President of the US. Ironically these same people typically and proudly proclaim that the US is a Christian nation. If that were so, a man who wholeheartedly believes that Christ Jesus is the brother of Satan and who has invested a large portion of his own personal wealth to advance that heresy would not enjoy the support of the Bride of Christ. Support which leaves me with a shamed head bowed low.

I’m ashamed because of the double speak coming from my Christian brothers and sisters. It is speech that says from the heart that we, the US, should be a Christian nation when abortion is the topic but not so much when healthcare or the poor is the topic. The Bride has left her first love and now serves mammon or worse.

Grocery Shopping

(2007)

Like countless other folks I went to the grocery store after work today. It was a viciously hot and humid day and the cool air inside the store felt nice. The produce section with its earthy smells was particularly cool. I lingered here.

Ah, there’s the Bar-B-Q sauce I like. I snatched up a bottle and promptly deposited into the cart. The produce section and the cooking sauces are at the entrance to this store so the BBQ sauce was the first item into the basket.

Yep, I had passed by all the fresh veggies and fruits to get to the bar-b-q sauce.  Thing is, I had done this very purposely. It was as if the sauce were in danger of rapidly disappearing. Once my visual cortex had locked onto the sauce every tracking/targeting system in my body had been engaged and mission failure was not an option.  Am I alone in thinking this odd?

As I wondered through the store placing items into the cart two things occurred to me. The first is that I am very good at picking out things like sauces. Like the BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, potato chip dip, spaghetti sauce and stuff like that. I am terrible at picking up real food though. I am truly awful at it.

I am so bad at it that it borders on a finely honed skill but really I just kind of fell naturally into it.

The second was this. I was going to prepare and consume all of this food alone. The joy of shopping vanished, the cool air was now hot on my face and I just wanted to crawl into bed and hide beneath the blankets.

I was embarrassed. Could they tell I was alone? Was my emptiness obvious or was I hiding it well?

Eighteen days ago I said goodbye to my family in the parking lot of the BFS gas station/convenience store at the Bruceton Mills exit of interstate 68. It was 5:30 in the morning and I was heading off to Korea.

Eight days ago I moved into a nice house. I went grocery shopping that day too but there were many distractions. I had to meet delivery people, the land lord, the real estate agent and the security service. Did I mention that it was also a work day? It was.

Today was quiet. No people to meet. No rush. I’m in the middle of a grocery store, realizing the barrenness of my life in the absence of my family. If I still smoked I’d leave all these groceries and just buy coffee. I’d survive on coffee and smokes. Smoking alone doesn’t remind you that you’re lonely. No. Instead it releases wonderful little chemicals that make the pain more bearable. I loved smoking. If it weren’t so hard to quit I’d start again.

Did you know that eating does not fill up the lonely? Nope. The lonely can go right on eating until theoretically they just pop.

I’m wondering why I am buying all this stuff. The idea of another meal alone is just plain depressing. Do single people think about this when they go grocery shopping?

I doubt it. Most people have not realized the strong bonds forged when sharing a meal. It’s as intimate a time as you can share with folks and still keep your clothes on.

O, good. The checkout counter. $87!!! You’ve got to be kidding me!!!! I’m only eating for one person here!!!!! Kick me while I’m down!!!

Something less painful

Dec 4, 2007

On most days I pick up my son at his bus stop on the way home from work. Today was just such a day. On the way home Craig and I were talking about a visit to Morgantown during the summer of 2009.

We joked about who we wanted to see and who we didn’t particularly want to see. About places we’d like to visit and how we wouldn’t be sleeping in or just “wasting away” the day. This trip would be a mission. The objective would be to cram as much of home into a short visit as we could.

We were just chatting when he said “That’s when I’ll be starting college.”

I thought for a few seconds and replied “You could choose to go to school here.”

The silence screamed his intention to remain in West Virginia. It was deafening. I thought that my ears would surely begin to bleed.

As I thought about what this meant, about his not being with us, my eyes began to flood and I could no longer speak. I blinked rapidly while turning my eyes away from his and tried desperately to think of something else. Something less painful.

Like cancer,

or castration,

or death.

I cannot bear the thought of being so far away from him. My son, my little buddy is going to leave soon and the notion of it chokes me. I type because I cannot speak of it. It’s not that I refuse, it’s that I am incapable.

He came into our lives in the quiet of the early morning in our home on Arlington street in Morgantown. He was the greatest joy I had ever known. Will he now be the greatest pain I will ever suffer?

Time. Maybe time will help.

It must work quickly though.

There is little of it left.

Immigration Law

We’ve lived in Korea now for just over three years and I’ve become convinced that package inserts may provide a clue to a nation’s immigration policies.

The air in the house is very dry in the winter so I purchased a humidifier. You know how when you buy something in the US that comes with an instruction booklet or pamphlet there are at a minimum two languages written there and frequently up to five languages?

Not so here on the peninsula. It’s read Korean or stumble through on your own.

So now I wonder if package inserts are a commentary on a nation’s regard for those who do not speak or read their language? I’m just guessing here but I suspect that in a country with single language package inserts the immigration laws are tough.

Conversely, immigration laws are probably more lax in countries with multilingual package inserts.

Anyone looking for a doctoral thesis should feel free to use my hypothesis.

Calvin Cotten Brister

Jan 9, 2009.

I wrote this one week ago. Kelly and I were in separate rooms of the house weeping quietly while grieving privately. It was a quiet Saturday morning and the only sounds in the house were our sniffles and my keyboard. It is pretty much my custom to write when deeply troubled. You’ve probably seen better eulogies but you will not find one more sincerely meant. For that reason and in order that you too may know our friend Calvin I invite you to read on.

David

Three days ago, nearly 7,000 miles away a spirit escaped the vessel of flesh it dwelt in and departed earth for the heavenly realm.

Calvin Cotten Brister was my friend. I have known few friends like Calvin. Calvin was plain spoken yet elegant, direct without injury and love in action. To Calvin love meant action. Those he loved, he interacted with and we are all the better for it.

Calvin was very educated and yet as plain as a clear stream flowing gently by. You didn’t have to wonder how he felt on a matter as he was sure to share his thoughts with you. Not in an angry way, or an in your face, how dare you way but in a way that even if you disagreed, well, that was just it. You disagreed. He never made you feel unworthy, unappreciated, uneducated, un-anything except un-alone.

When I was out of town on business there were two people my wife Kelly knew she could call for help and depend on it being there. One was Dan Waitz, the other Calvin. When asked, Calvin would drive the 25-30 miles to our house and provide whatever aid Kelly and Craig needed. Occasionally he’d just show up to make sure we were doing OK.

After long periods of silence he would call out of the blue to let you know that he was thinking about you. When I went to visit him in the hospital for a time of fellowship and prayer he acted as if I had just awarded him the publishers clearing house prize. He wasn’t just a good friend, he valued friendship.

Before my family moved to Korea some 18 months ago he made sure that we shared a time of fellowship together. Our families shared a great meal, lively conversation, quiet reflections and laughed together at memories and hopes.

I pray his family will see in death what they frequently failed to see in life. Calvin Brister was a great man. He was a man of faith, a man of humility and a man of honor. I am grateful to have known him in this world and look forward to seeing him again in the next.

We miss you Calvin.