Monthly Archives: September 2016

“May I Introduce You to Lancelot Andrewes?”

 

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Lancelot Andrewes. Recognize the name? Probably not. But Lancelot Andrews (1555-1626) was Bishop of Winchester (Church of England), a member of the committee of scholars whose task it was to produce the King James Version of the Bible, and “probably contributed more to that work than any other single person.”

For the information above, and almost everything else in this column, I’m indebted to the very capable James Kiefer for his biographical sketch of Andrewes’ life.

Kiefer’s work shows up regularly in “The Daily Office from the Mission of St. Clare,” an online devotional site and mobile “app” based on the venerable Book of Common Prayer, the incredible centuries-old work whose words still find their way, whether we know it or not, into Shakespeare, into pretty much all traditional marriage ceremonies, into many, many of our church services, into many funerals, etc.

But that’s another story. Suffice it to say here that the BCP is a devotional, liturgical, historical, and English treasure, originally published in 1549, sixty-two years before the King James Version was finished in 1611! I tend to gravitate toward the 1979 BCP revision, and I enjoy most the morning “Daily Office” which includes Scripture readings and prayers. I like the continuity, the discipline, and the knowledge that these are prayers Christians have prayed in worship and individually for, literally, centuries, along with, of course, reading the Scriptures given for each day. To the prayers, I add my own on the days I use this resource (and I don’t every day; the flesh is weak, and I’m a lousy example for daily devotional-keeping).

All of the above to explain where I found the information on Lancelot Andrewes, who, Kiefer writes, was “a master of English prose, and learned in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and eighteen other languages.” But particularly fascinating to me are some excerpts from Andrewes’ personal notebook of “Private Prayers,” published after his death.

The words and “order” of his devotions are beautiful and, no surprise, seem “formal” to us, words affirming faith, confessing sin, rendering praise. But I especially like his many and varied simple words of “thanksgiving” for life, rationality, citizenship, education, gifts of grace, “calling, recalling, and further recalling,” “longsuffering towards me,” for hope, for the “fruition of good things to come,” “for parents honest and good,” for “teachers gentle,” and “colleagues likeminded,” “hearers attentive,” “friends sincere,”  “for all who have stood me in good stead by their writings, their sermons, conversations, prayers, examples, rebukes,” and even “wrongs.”

As he closes, he wonders how he can adequately give thanks to God for all His benefits. And he ends with, “Holy, holy, holy,” praising the eternal God who “hast created all things” and for whose “pleasure they are and were created.”

I love this glimpse into the private devotions of a “long-ago-gone-on” father of our faith who blessed and still blesses God’s people in ways he might never have dreamed. May God continue to multiply the blessings, large and small, of lives lived for Him.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Mouse Traps and Human Traps Are an Age-old Problem

 

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“Warning! Some mice were harmed in the research for this column. Some of the images contained herein may not be appropriate for small children or squeamish adults.”

I mean to say a few words regarding varmints (a good word that comes from “vermin”) of the rodent variety.

Humans share the world with an incredible variety of creatures. Many are beautiful, even inspiring. Some are also amazingly useful. (I’m thinking filet mignon and boots.) But some are pests. Let pests multiply, even if you have kind motives and an empty head, and you get pestilence. (I’m thinking plague, “Black Death.”)

I like where I live, and I like most of the neighbors, two-footed and four-footed, who live around me. A friend saw three deer in our front yard one recent morning. Too many can be a problem and eat the wrong things, but I don’t mind some help keeping a 10,000 square-foot yard mowed.

But the nearby field also brings in much smaller four-footed mammals. If they were stealthier, hid better from my wife, and didn’t have such appalling hygiene, we might not have a problem. But they are not, and we sometimes do.

This world really could use a better mousetrap. I’m afraid the old standard wood and wire model is still the best. Just add cheese (or peanut butter), and bang! He’s dispatched, bloodied and bug-eyed. Then, frugality versus squeamishness, you can either dispose of the body and re-bait, or toss the whole thing—hide, hair, and all. I just don’t enjoy baiting the things in the first place. I don’t enjoy misfires during baiting. Slaaaaapppp!

I once fired a BB gun at a garage mouse but missed. The ricochet caught me in the forehead, providing my sons with years of hilarity.

So I went to glue traps. Bait ’em with bird seed or peanut butter. The critter climbs on and finds himself “steadfast, immovable.” You might even catch a couple at once. But then you’re caught in a dilemma with a live rodent staring at you pitifully.

Somewhere on the way to the dumpster with my first wiggling catch, I (stupidly) opted for “release.” I’d pull him off with forceps and let him go. A very bad idea for both man and mouse.  Better just dispatch him quickly. Other alternatives (none good) involve turning the card over and a quick stomp, or heavy object to the head, or drowning in a bucket of water. (But the little bubbles . . .)

If your heart really gets the better of your head (don’t tell my wife), you can take the stuck up mouse to the field, and hose him down with WD40. If he doesn’t drown, he’ll scamper off smelling like fish oil and you can catch him again.

Tired of disposal dilemmas, I have now acquired a 15-inch-long plastic tube with a flat metal floor. Add peanut butter. Plug the contraption in. And before he can eat PB&J, the mouse gets hit with 8000 volts. He won’t care how you dispose of him. It seems to work and is pretty safe unless you’re a varmint or a tea-cup chihuahua with a taste for peanut butter.

We might do well to ponder the types of traps that we humans flirt with. Mess with them much, and we’ll find the only real question is how long the death will take and how many folks we’ll take down with us. Our Creator has warned us about those traps, and he’s paid an enormous price to clean us up and release us, free and empowered to live new lives.

 

           You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

 


In the Face of Real Love, “Tolerance” Is a Weakling

 

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Shhh! If in our society you are about to walk out your front door, it’s important to remember these days that you’re about to step into the temple of secularism. You must be very careful to be quiet and reverent lest you cause any stir in the temple and upset the worshipers in the midst of their devotions.

It is rather striking how religious modern secularists are about their irreligion, how very “tolerant” they are of anything except “intolerance.” No big surprise. It’s never easier to be religiously (or irreligiously) arrogant than when you’re being self-righteous about not being self-righteous.

By the same token, “tolerance” is always easiest when one of your deepest convictions is that no one’s deepest convictions or beliefs can be objectively right or wrong. Tolerance is only difficult when you find you have something to tolerate. If everyone’s belief is equally correct just because it’s earnestly held, tolerance is incredibly easy because at heart it just means not caring very much.

Once you actually start caring about something enough to believe that what folks believe about it genuinely matters, then you soon find yourself swimming in waters far too deep for tolerance; you will, in fact, sink unless you latch onto a four-letter word called love.

Love is always better than, stronger than, far more noble than, mere tolerance. “What’s right? What’s wrong? Is there any such thing as right or wrong?” Tolerance doesn’t much care.

But love cares deeply. It faces the bedrock truth, as real as the law of gravity— truly “inconvenient” though it may be, if, say, you’d prefer a universe where two plus two could just as easily equal five on days when the wind has changed and you’re feeling a little down on “four”—that in this universe some things really are right, true, and beautiful, and others are wrong, false, and ugly. Real truths, you see, have real consequences. It’s rather important that engineers who design bridges believe the old-fashioned, and true, multiplication tables, as inconveniently unbending as the stone cold truth behind those tables may be.

What if this really is a universe woven with genuine laws of right and wrong? Believe that truth, and in these days colored by the religion of “tolerant” secularism, it’s as if you passed gas loudly in the secularists’ church service, spat upon their holy altar, offended their non-god gods in some unforgiveable way. You seem incredibly intolerant and out of date. If we’re tired of those old multiplication tables, or any other truths that might bind or chafe us, let’s just take an opinion poll and change them, right?

But that’s where love comes in and mere tolerance is shown to be a tottering weakling. Love may be completely unable to “tolerantly” accept a person’s actions or beliefs as being anything but mistaken and harmful, but love is beautifully able to accept even the person with whom it most strongly disagrees as a person deeply loved by the God who is love. It cares deeply. And chooses to love anyway.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“I Can’t Help It! I’m the Victim of My Genes!”

 

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Aha! It’s genetic! I’ve been reading about the several-years-old discovery of a “fidgeting” gene.

When I’m talking on the phone and my wife, rather discourteously, hollers at me, “Put that pen down! You’re driving me crazy!” she’s referring to my unconscious click-click-click-click-clicking of the writing instrument in my hand. And she’s betraying intolerance toward a man who is simply the hapless victim of his genes.

I’m wondering if pack-ratting is genetic, too. In any case, it’s another trait my mother passed on to each of her offspring.

My garage, I admit, is dangerously overloaded, but my sister, who lived in Houston, could have survived ten years of hurricanes with just “supplies on hand.”

I once suggested to one of my brothers that he’d need to deck himself out in high priestly garments if he wanted to safely enter his garage. When, once a year, Israel’s high priest entered the Most Holy Place to offer sacrifice, he was to go in with bells sewn onto the bottom of his robe and a rope tied to his leg. If he touched the Ark of the Covenant and was fritzed, or was somehow otherwise dispatched while officiating near the holiest core of that holiest place, the bells would quit tinkling and they’d drag his carcass out by the rope. (Turns out, the rope part of this is probably fictional, and the bell part likely for the Holy Place and not the Most Holy Place. But you get my point.)

Truth be told, the garages of the other siblings, including me, for sure, are not much better. My poor heirs.

But it was not in the garage, it was actually in a box of stuff up in our closet, never opened, inherited from my sister’s stash, who got it from my mother’s hoard, that my wife recently found a pile of congratulatory notes from age-old family friends (mostly long-since passed on) and the hospital instructions regarding the care and feeding of “Boy Shelburne.” That would be me.

The booklet was professionally printed, used by Northwest Texas Hospital (the original one) in Amarillo, and filled in, the specifics handwritten, by a conscientious nurse.

I’m not sure if Mom & Dad followed all the instructions properly or not, which may explain some things. I do know that it included a formula for my formula, consisting of condensed milk, Karo syrup, etc. What’s not to like? And it specified feeding me every three hours, a health practice, on the advice of that nursing staff, I’ve tried to continue all of my life. (Oh, and Mom was instructed to wear an apron when feeding me. If that’s required, lots of babies are in serious danger. And good luck trying to buy an apron. Out of style in every sense, and I’m weeping at the political incorrectness of the very thought! Trust me.)

By the way, people with the fidgeting gene are supposed to be naturally thinner than those without it. With my strict diet (I never eat anything that doesn’t taste good) and my feeding schedule, I’m thankful for that gene. Still, I evidently don’t fidget nearly enough.

Oh, this is funny. I just stopped to stare into space and figure out how to land this column—and caught myself jockeying my knee up and down like a sewing machine needle. Left seems to be this fidgeter’s knee of choice.

Genes. They are for most of us a mixed bag, both blessing and curse. But the worst curse we inherited from Father Adam. And the most amazing blessing, incredibly costly, is made available, free upon request, by the Second Adam who bore our curse, God’s own Son.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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