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“It’s Almost Never Wise to Trust a Mob”

Mobs. I never have cared much for them.

Personality—mine, that is—explains part of this. I’m not particularly freaked out by large crowds, I just don’t enjoy them and am happy to avoid them. It’s not a phobia. (“Enochlophobia” is “fear of crowds,” I’m told.) It’s a dislike.

I don’t enjoy what often seems mindless and is most certainly loud, and those two features tend to cluster around big crowds like flies around a dung heap. Peace is good. Quiet is precious. And the sounds we choose to fill our lives with (when we have a choice; we often don’t) should be an improvement over silence. (I wonder about a society that is afraid of silence, but that’s another subject.)

We’re told repeatedly in Scripture that Jesus often went out by himself to pray. Even God’s Son needed some time away from the ever-present and always needy crowds, which leads me to think that we might need some, too.

I like the music metaphor. Notes only have meaning and beauty because of the space between them.

To have something to say when we speak, we need some quiet time when we don’t have to speak. To be able to nurture others, we need souls able to go deep and fill up in the quiet. To pray. To read. To think. To breathe.

The time will come soon enough when we’re back in the crowd. Maybe if beforehand we’re still and quiet enough, we’ll have something worth sharing and a soul God-built strong enough in the silence to handle the soul-stifling noise that so often assails us.

All to say, crowds can be loud. Ah, but here’s a question for you: what’s the difference between a crowd and a mob? Let’s think quietly for a moment.

Well, not every crowd is a mob. Crowds may be loud; mobs are louder. But mobs are not just particularly loud crowds; they’re not even just mindless, frenzied crowds. (Those are called “fans.” Sorry.)

Mobs are crowds on steroids, including all the side effects. Mobs are loud, fickle, and downright dangerous. You see, even if their “cause” is not an inherently bad one, a mob is much more quickly described as “angry” than a simple crowd might be. “Deep anger” multiplied by “many folks” is gasoline just waiting for a spark.

Granted, it’s not impossible for a mob to begin with some “righteous” indignation. But it easily becomes just indignation and soon slides right on down into anger.

Some mob members are professional complainers and like nothing better than a good riot; they are misbehaving malcontents of the sort our national media loves to spotlight. People with sense who are not spoiled brats or professional victims, folks whose parents raised them to value civility, are in greater supply but are usually a lot quieter and, being generally occupied with worthwhile duties and pursuits, are less likely to be photographed shouting and with fists in the air.

I know. Some protests are worthy. I’m thankful and humbled when people who love freedom raise their voices together courageously to speak truth to Communist thugs or other dictators for whom truth is deadlier than bullets.

But I’m thinking here of mobs of a different sort.

Personally, I’d be slow at present to trust internet mobs, for example, who are careful about social distancing and quarantine but ranting that only fools would open up their states right now. We don’t all live in New York City.

But neither do I trust mobs who are carefully not social distancing, standing side by side, and screaming in front of state capitol buildings, “Open Up Now!” Shouting throws the human brain into neutral.

Of course, mobs are nothing new. Surely, anyone who has read the Gospels has wondered how many of the folks in that famous crowd shouting “Hosannas” on Palm Sunday were the same ones in the mob crying, “Crucify him!” on Friday.

It’s rarely wise to trust a mob. And it’s almost always unwise to join one.

 

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

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Judge Not, O Ye Masked or Mask-less Ones!”

“Sheltering in place.”

Just for the record, it might be worth mentioning that “sheltering in place” is what we’re not doing.

Forgive me, please. I am far too much in love with freedom to turn anyone over to the Covid-19 police. I won’t be scowling at you if I meet you pushing your basket the wrong way down the jelly aisle at the supermarket. Besides that, it’ll probably be me swimming upstream; I seem to be clueless when it comes to noticing arrows on floors.

Nor will I cast a masked smirk at you if I see you mask-less behind your cart, becalmed in the aisle, not moving in any direction as you “ponder in place,” wondering whether store brand green beans are as good as Libby’s (pretty much, yes) or generic peanut butter is as tasty as Peter Pan’s (not even close.) In the state where I live, you can still make your own decision about that. Not peanut butter. Masks.

So far, I’ve consistently chosen to take a mask with me every time I’ve gone to the grocery store. And I’ve consistently chosen to keep it in my pocket. Mostly because we’ve had just handful of Covid-19 cases in our county and half a handful have already recovered. I know this could change quickly, and that’s probably a good reason to wear a mask at the store. Would I wear a mask in a store in New York City? Yes, indeed. Would I wear a mask at a store in a much smaller less virus-besieged city if everybody else in the store wore a mask? Probably so. We may not have achieved “herd immunity,” but I’m still part of a herd.

In this strange time, what is a customer saying if he or she walks into a store or church or “essential business” liquor store masked or mask-less (and is not robbing the latter)? I mean, what’s he saying in a city where no laws are in place about masks or, for that matter, whether you can buy a 32-ounce soda?

I don’t know. And neither do you. I think we’d be wise to “judge not, lest ye be judged.” We don’t know if the masked person is sick, medically compromised, careful, neurotic, wise, scared, smart, smug, self-righteous, considerate, “virtue-signaling,” a wonderful and thoughtful human being, a jerk, or a lot older than the unmasked potion of their face looks. And we all know wise medical folks who tell us, “Here’s the evidence thus far, and here’s what I’d recommend.” Resounding Yes? Resounding No? No, not terribly resounding. So mask-wearers and non-mask wearers are usually best advised, I think, to wear some humility. It looks good on us and protects us from an affliction worse than Covid-19 anytime, even as we’re not sheltering in place.

I’m not the English usage police, either. I think I can live with occasionally turning “shelter” into a verb. But “sheltering in place,” as I understand it, actually means to stay in the closet until the bullets quit flying, or not sticking your nose out of the storm shelter until the tornado has flown away and the “all clear” is given. It must be terribly difficult, but you’re not  technically “sheltering in place” even if you’re going stir-crazy staring at your over-priced and claustrophobia-inducing apartment walls in New York City, but still putting on a mask and emerging occasionally for some useful purpose like buying food or just to take a walk to avoid full-blown psychosis.

To borrow a musical metaphor, “sheltering in place” is fortissimo and only a few measures long. “Stay at home” is forte and can seem like forever. And “safer at home,” a nuisance and not a storm shelter, is semi-forte and certainly not normalissimo (don’t look either of those up).

Misuse the term if you want to, but if you start out at -issimo don’t blame me if you want to get a lot louder and have already limited your linguistic options. I promise not to call storm troopers from the EUP (English Usage Police).

I’m about to mask up. Always do when I mow the yard. But, as I write, our county’s Covid-19 cases are passing two handfuls. A mask at the store, even if you don’t intend to rob the place, is making more sense.

But “judge not” makes the best sense of all.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! No mask required or even suggested.

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Our Church Went Back to Church on Sunday”

Our church went back to church on Sunday. Our governor had said that we could, within some Covid-19 guidelines. Our little bunch chose to wait a week longer than required, and, just speaking for me, myself, and I, I’m glad we waited.

One size does not fit all, though we’re all trying to plot a way through this mess. Backseat drivers are already plentiful, and, though toilet paper was hard to come by a few weeks ago, I suspect, once we get a bit past this present pandemic crisis, we will be buried by a surplus of hindsight for years to come.

It seems to me that the top national medical folks we’ve heard from have done very well. I think my state’s governor and the mayors in my area have handled a tough situation admirably.

And so, when we got to the point here that churches were given, not the “all clear,” but the opportunity to meet together again, with precautions in place, we did. We just waited an extra week. I have friends at area churches who met the first Sunday they could. I have friends and colleagues at churches who have needed to wait two weeks. And I have friends and colleagues at other churches in other towns who either can’t resume meetings yet because their churches are too large to effectively follow the guidelines, or they are located in areas where the virus is presently spiking.

What this all means is that, though we’re all dealing with this mess and share plenty of experiences in common, we may be at slightly different points in the journey.

Not second-guessing anybody else at all, I’m glad we waited a week. It took that long to try to figure out how to do, in the midst of a pandemic, this thing that we’ve done every Sunday for decades. And I might as well admit it, spiritual giant that I am, though I’ve really missed worshiping together, I knew we’d be “back” eventually, and I didn’t mind recording one more Sunday service on a Thursday night and having one more sort of two-Saturday weekend. (Am I really just a barely housebroken pagan at heart? Probably so. If you’re surprised, you obviously don’t know me.) I know God wants his people to meet for worship. I know we need it. And I love it. But if my Father minds me filing as “a little bit of a blessing in the mess” a few Sunday mornings of genuinely quiet rest, well, I’d be very surprised. (In fact, I now think I’d lobby for a once ever seven-year Jubilee year, an Old Testament allusion, where we had seven Sundays of total Sabbath rest.)

Being “back” would be good, I knew, but I also knew it would be a bit weird. Enough masks for a bank robber/burglars’ convention. An odd inclination to want to remove somebody’s appendix. And, if we took any liberties, expecting the Covid-19 police to show up with tape measures and super glue or staple guns to permanently mask us up, even in a county with, so far, less than a handful of confirmed cases. And, yes, I know we need to be wise, even if being wise may feel a bit silly. We don’t want more cases, and we’ll probably have more, like it or not, so, yes, we need to be careful.

I’ll be interested in comparing notes with others who have or soon will go back to church. Not everything felt silly.

Some of the changes made us think more about what a blessing it was simply to be together. We thought more than usual about each member’s special place at the Table and in the Body—both those who were there and those who weren’t yet. We lingered on the front lawn visiting and laughing (and desperately wanting to hug).

What was the same as it had always been seemed somehow more precious. What was altered seemed more deeply filled with meaning.

We’re enjoined by the Apostle Paul to “discern the body.” Maybe we did. Maybe more than ever on Sunday. His Body.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! No mask required!

 

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


One Size Never Fits All

One Size Never Fits All

By Curtis K. Shelburne

One size never fits all. If you’ve lived for ten minutes or so, I probably don’t need to tell you that.

But one of my brothers just sent in a text to the rest of his brothers a photo of a government form designed by some nameless bureaucrat or committee of bureaucrats or building burgeoning with bureaucrats (of the sort some folks would like to place in charge of the part of our nation’s healthcare the government doesn’t already control). Form 1040-V (“V” for “voucher”) includes the payment voucher taxpayers are supposed to use if they mail in a check or money order to pay any additional dollars they owe at the end of the tax year.

In some ways, the form, really short by governmental standards, is helpful. Since it’s not long, I assume they put in only information they think is particularly useful and important for the wide variety of folks who mail in payments.

For example, the amount on the right side of your check should be in this format: $XXX.XX. Taxpayers are asked not to use dashes or underlines or slashes. None of this, please: “49/100.”

But the paragraph that my brother circled in the pic he sent to the other three of us gives some information he found especially helpful: “No checks of $100 million or more accepted. The IRS can’t accept a single check (including a cashier’s check) for amounts of $100,000,000 or more. If you are sending $100 million or more by check, you will need to spread the payments over two or more checks, with each made out for an amount less than $100 million.”

I’m glad Gene read that in time, lest he write one single check, fire it in, and inadvertently break a valuable IRS rule. He may need to send two checks. I just hope he gets the number format right and doesn’t use a dash.

This, by the way, proves what a wise accountant once told me. He certainly believed that taxpayers should pay what they owed, but he gave this valuable advice: “Curtis, remember these are bureaucrats [meaning that they barely still have a pulse]. Don’t think that any of this is personal with them. They don’t care if you owe ten dollars or ten million dollars, they just want the right blank filled in on the right form.” ’Tis true. (Yes, let’s hurry to give them the healthcare. That’ll be great.)

It surely is easy to inadvertently break rules. In the midst of this Covid-19 mess, I’ve found myself walking the wrong way down the jelly aisle at the grocery store (against the arrow) on several occasions. Then the only choice for a person of high character (not me, I’m afraid), is to turn around or walk backwards.

Businesses, and churches, in my state are starting to open again. But I’ve been surprised to be surprised that “one size” can’t work for them all. With masks and weird, but mostly sensible, accommodations, it’s going to be a bit strange and less comforting than we’d like for all of us, I suspect. But “all” of us are different.

Our small church “opens” next week. I’m glad, but figuring out how to do this is necessarily, may I say, a serious pain in the tail section. But it’s harder for a mid-sized church a few blocks away; it will take more planning and more time to pull off. And for the large church 100 miles away that another of my brothers serves, well, they’re not even close to being back. Too many folks for one building even if they have a bunch of services. And their area’s virus numbers are presently going crazy. They don’t know when they’ll be able to meet even in masks and each congregant doused in disinfectant. (Just kidding about the last part.) If this mess gets any more complicated, please just mercifully drown me in Lysol.

One size never fits all. That knowledge makes me especially thankful that our Creator knows each of us completely and individually. He knows exactly what we need and how we feel every moment. He even knows the number of the hairs on our heads.

And he never asks us to fill out a form. The love we need to go on in this life and beyond, far beyond $100 million in value, all comes from our Father to us.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne! No mask required.

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Genuine Truth Is as Real and Unchangeable as Gravity

I was scrolling through some news this morning and ran across a completely nonsensical “headline” in the midst of much “non-news.” Some popular actress or other generic celebrity (I don’t remember her name), the headline promised, would tell us all about “her truth.”

Great. I suppose that if we’re interested enough to read that article, we can logically look forward to some companion articles, some sequels. Maybe she can later tell us about “her gravity” or “her multiplication tables.” If truth itself is up for grabs—and why wouldn’t it be in a society where your very gender is dependent upon the day or your mood and not easily determined by your chromosomes and plumbing—are any of the “laws” of physics or mathematics really much more than suggestions?

If anybody wants to come talk about his or her gravity, I suppose we could climb up on my roof, have a nice visit, and discuss our deep and very individually unique feelings about gravity and how we’re feeling on that particular day about “up-ness” and “down-ness.” Or, forgive me if this is harsh, we could save a lot of time by holding hands, taking a deep breath, and leaping together off the roof. However we feel about the experience, I’m willing to go on record as believing in the absolute law of gravity which dictates this harsh but real truth: we will not fall up. And “open-minded” is not the first word that comes to mind when I think about someone who feels a need to try such to find out if gravity is a law still in effect on this particular morning.

It is not simply my opinion that gravity is still a law today. It is. This is a truth I can know without any need at all to resort to difficult or dangerous or painful testing. And, I suppose, if I wake up one morning with doubts about the truth and reality of gravity or the multiplication tables, professional help is available to help me come to terms both with reality and with whatever malady or foolishness is causing me to doubt it. In the long run—and even the short run, if I’m contemplating jumping off a roof to test gravity—coming to terms with what is inalterably true and real is much wiser, more helpful, and less painful than the alternative.

Of course, the point I’m trying to make here is true regarding genuine truth and laws that are real and incontrovertible laws. Physics. Mathematics. And I’d say, the Ten Commandments. No one can break those without consequence. I don’t remember if my brother had a clothes-pinned super hero towel-cape around his neck or not when he fell or jumped out of a redbud tree in our back yard when we were kids; I do remember that he broke his arm.

The problem comes when I get my opinions confused with incontrovertible laws, my opinions confused with immutable truth. I am not a super hero, and I am wrong and mistaken about many things, and this fact calls for some serious humility.

But I’m not so confused that you will ever hear me talking about “my truth.”

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

 

 


What We Have Is a “Failure to Communicate”

A language problem.

We have a language problem, writes geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Marc Agronin in the Wall Street Journal, which is “Why It’s So Hard to Talk to Your Parents About the Coronavirus.”

We don’t want hard times, struggles, and suffering. But one thing they do for us is bring to the surface truths that we already deeply or instinctively knew were lurking just barely underwater. Then we wonder why we didn’t see that hidden, but real, fact all along. This generational “linguistic” truth is real.

Plenty of other reasons make knowing how to feel about this mess difficult already. Even “keep your tail section at home” terms in the same language are confusing. “Stay at home,” “safer at home,” and “shelter in place” are not the same. (Google it.) The first two are close. The second is what we’re doing where I live. Almost nobody is truly doing the third in its strict “don’t budge at all until the bullets quit flying” sense, though New York is close.

New York is close for good reason. The situation there is different than in my town. (For that matter, the situation 70 miles to the east in Lubbock is also different.) The Dallas mayor was frustrated that the Texas governor hasn’t completely shut down the whole state, but the governor is wise enough to know that Dallas County with several thousand confirmed cases is not the same as Bailey County with zero. We need to do some of the same things, but we’d be fools to do all of the same things.

Ah, but then we discover that, even living in the same area, folks of different ages are, as Dr. Agronin says, speaking different languages. They’re speaking “forty-ish” (if they’re 30-50), “sixty-ish” (40-60), and “eighty-ish” (70-90).

Forty-ish speakers figure they’re mostly safe, unless they have “underlying issues,” even if they catch Covid-19. But then they figure out that their parents, speakers of sixty-ish, aren’t scared enough and need their wings clipped and their keys hidden. “You went where!?” Forty-ish speakers have shifted roles from “occasional drop-by driver, porter, or tech support” to “protectors.”

But their protectees are unruly and not accustomed to feeling the need to be protected or managed. Sixty-ish speakers are most recently accustomed to taking care of both the generations ahead of them and behind them. They’re not totally cut up that the younger generation might get a chance to worry a little (about time, donchathink!), but they think of themselves as being still in their prime. Caregivers not care-receivers. Vulnerable?! Since when? It feels like an insult or a demotion and a lie all at the same time. And, worse, what if . . . it’s . . . true? When did that happen!?

And the eighty-ish speakers? Most are far sharper, Dr. Agronin writes, than we realize. Their “healthy aging minds are neither depressed nor disabled.” They are less impulsive than younger folks, less “reactive.” They know that time and relationships are precious and that routines are comforting. “Social distancing” negatively impacts all of those things. Eighty-ish speakers are tough and “surprisingly resilient.” They’ve met “crises” before and don’t plan to panic. (No accident that “key leaders” like Dr. Fauci are from this bunch.) Most are much more worried about “loss of connection” than getting sick.

So how do we talk to each other? Dr. Agronin says that we listen, and then try to hear what’s really being said. A forty-ish speaker saying, “You went where?!” means, “I love you, and I’m worried about you” even if a sixty-ish speaker hears, “You’re older and more vulnerable than you think.”

I’m thankful we all have a Father who is, in all respects, the King of all ages. He understands and loves us all. Completely.

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

 


“Christ’s Disciples Were Sheltering in Place When Suddenly . . .”

A normal Easter Sunday.

That’s pretty much exactly what this Covid-19 Easter Sunday 2020 wasn’t.

For my family, it was already a “particularly special” holy day. It was the fifth anniversary of my granddaughter Brenley’s baptism. And it was the thirty-fifth anniversary of our move to the 16th & D Church in Muleshoe. Especially special, for sure.

Just not normal.

Like churches all over the country, and a lot of the world, we were “social distancing,” not meeting together in large groups, even on Easter Sunday.

Pope Francis did not celebrate the traditional open-air mass in St. Peter’s Square; instead, the mass was “live-streamed” from inside an almost-deserted St. Peter’s Basilica. He acknowledged the terrible hardship and suffering the pandemic has thrust upon the world, but he talked about “the contagion of hope” and spoke of God’s reassurance: “Do not be afraid, I have risen and I am with you still.”

I enjoyed an interview Savannah Guthrie did with New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan. (That man is always worth a listen!) He made the excellent point that though this Easter is certainly a difficult one, it may also be a particularly meaningful one. In the midst of real darkness, maybe we are especially open to the reality of Easter hope. Yes, I thought, we so need that same power that met and dispelled the darkness of evil so long ago even as Christ’s disciples were cowering, sheltering in place, in desperate need of a mighty strength from outside of themselves, completely beyond themselves, to bring new life.

Oh, yes, we need that Resurrection power now! We always do, of course, but maybe this Easter we recognize our need more than usual. And that realization can bring very special blessing.

Yes, indeed, what a strange Easter! St. Peter’s Square in Rome was almost empty. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, basically deserted. 16th & D Church of Christ in Muleshoe, Texas. Ditto. And no news media there filming the lack of a crowd. Just one pastor and his wife. And an iPad.

A different sort of Easter Sunday, for sure. But since when can any Easter be called normal? Offhand, can you think of anything “normal” about God loving the world enough to come into it as a human being, give his life as the ultimate sacrifice to suffer and die and literally take away all of our sin and guilt, and then be raised to new life by the Spirit’s unimaginable power?

No Easter is “business as usual” in this universe. But Easter hope is the same precious gift every Easter Sunday, every Easter season, and every new day since that first Easter morning. Perhaps in the darkness surrounding our lives in the midst of this one, Easter glory just shines more brightly, its power more focused.

Let’s keep joyful and carry on—in hope!

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


Resurrection Hope Shines Brightly in Dark Times

As most of our friends and parishioners know, my brothers and I, all four of us preachers, head to Robert Lee, Texas, a couple of times a year to spend some time together at the old home place of our maternal grandparents. We were supposed to be there last week, but the Covid-19 virus, national and state authorities, and our wives clipped our wings.

The Coke County Ministerial Conference. That is what I call our usual biannual get-togethers. I’ve derived far more ministerial benefit from those gatherings than any more formal pastors’ conference I’ve ever attended. We always have a great time, and I hope a few months from now we get to make up this missed one.

Summer? Yes, but that reminds me of one of our gatherings a few years ago. We probably should have taken turns preaching sermons to each other warning of hell. We were there a bit later in the spring than usual; afternoon temperatures were already hovering obscenely around 100, and we were roasting. Add a little—actually, a lot—of wind to that, and it was seriously hot.

It was also dangerously dry. I didn’t see any brimstone, but the fire danger was extreme. Not many days before we got into town, a chance of fire had become the certainty of fire as a major wildfire threatened the towns of Robert Lee and Bronte. Some of our family there had to evacuate their homes, and our cousins were among a big bunch of folks who had joined in to help get the blaze under control.

One report mentioned that the residents of the nursing home (I’ve sung there many times) just across the creek from my grandparents’ old place was also evacuated during that crisis. Part of the area threatened was out near Paint Creek (around eight miles out of Robert Lee) and the little cemetery where my parents and grandparents and many other family members and dear friends and others are buried. The fire ended up sparing the cemetery and the two aforementioned towns, but it burned a huge amount of land. Scary, to say the least.

That fire was contained, put out, and became a memory a long time ago. But fires belong on a list of the kinds of crises common to the human race. Along with earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts. Guys with questionable theology and a flare for writing can always stand to make a lot of money lining up those sorts of things in books and making questionable claims about Bible verses. People have been doing that, in one form or another, for centuries. Oh, and right now a writer with a flare for such can add in a very scary virus pandemic.

The Covid-19 mess is on all of our minds. It is a dark and difficult time, for sure. But in Easter’s brilliant light shines the hope of God’s resurrected Son. When the virus recedes and fades, Easter hope will remain.

Sunday is Easter! Even in the midst of the present distress. In Pope John Paul II’s words is still deep wisdom: “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” That’s true even if the ground shakes, or smoke is in the air, or a virus is assaulting the world. Prayer is called for, along with Resurrection hope.

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


A Shortage Can Make a Bad Situation Worse

Did you see the Covid-19 news conference the other day featuring a particularly noted, well-published, and often-quoted professor of epidemiology?

Dr. Angus Jones-Brown has been studying virus transmission for many decades, and the data accumulated over those many years seems to rather clearly indicate, against all previous thought, that most of these viruses proliferate not by passing into our airways via our noses or by traveling through other mucous membranes. In fact, the professor says that, as odd as this may sound, many viruses, actually much weaker than you might think, seem to be inhibited by the blue to blue-violet wavelength range (492-425 nanometers) of the spectrum.

Dr. Jones-Brown’s further research indicates that a porous and soft cloth of a blue color, supplemented by common copper (Element Cu, Group 11, Atomic Number 29) and passed over a person’s feet when those feet are higher than that individual’s head (a position known as hyperpedisquelaltudia), provides almost complete immunity to most viruses, including all coronaviruses and Covid-19 in particular.

I won’t bore you with all of the scientific details, chemical equations, and medical jargon that the erudite professor shared in the article; it gets pretty deep. And I hope you’ll note that the reason his research caught my eye specifically was because his test subjects were taken from the exact demographic group into which I fit. Thus I hope you will please understand that his research and conclusion may not be applicable to individuals in other cohorts at all.

But I quote here from what I consider to be the most important note in the “Conclusions” section of his article “abstract.” It reads: “Based upon the absence of other comorbidities and aberrant prognosticological criteria, gray-haired males in late middle age, with myopia corrected by contacts, healthy blood pressure, marriages of over forty years, and who drink prodigious amounts of coffee are well-advised to put on blue suede shoes, stand on their heads, and stack copper BBs up their noses as a probable, though not absolutely conclusive, antiviral barrier against Covid-19.”

And there you have it!

I’m not sure what. But you have it.

I admit that no one who is not a doctor or a hypochondriac should read as many PubMed articles as I do. (My doctor will agree.) What I’m quoting above is completely out of my head.

I really don’t mean to poke fun at a terribly serious situation, but I do indeed mean to poke fun at the way some of us—me included, I promise—react during said situation. Some of those gullible reactions have made a bad situation worse in ways that we could easily have avoided with just a little common sense. Two words, and I rest my case: toilet paper.

Who was the second idiot who heard the first idiot say, “I dunno, Harv, we might run outta toilet paper during this virus mess. I think . . .” Better that he’d have said, “I dunno, Harv, let’s just jump off a cliff and do it before anybody else can.” I wonder if really determined folks with a TP-hoarder mindset would’ve just lined up for the flight? Maybe we’d have been spared the non-shortage shortage.

Or maybe he should have just told his buddy, “Well, I read somewhere that ya won’t catch this if you put on blue suede shoes, stand on your head, and stack copper BBs up your nose.” It’d have made as much sense as stashing toilet paper.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that it’s always best not to make a bad situation worse by making bad and unnecessary choices that end up truly making it worse. For. No. Reason.

In any case, a word of heartfelt thanks to all of the many, many folks, working in so many ways, obvious or not, but brave and steadfast nonetheless, who keep working at real risk. And my prayers also with all who are hurting in any way, and the many who very much wish they were still working.

And one more word for us all: faith. Just ask your Father for it. His strength is available when ours isn’t. No shortage. Real or imagined. No shortage at all.

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


“What Can We Learn in the Midst of This Mess?”

Like most humans with a few years on them, I’ve had an occasion or a few (not too terribly many) to mention to the Lord that, in this distress or that difficulty, I have at least two requests. Jesus did, after all, teach us to ask, so I do.

First, I’d much prefer to avoid the mess altogether. What I have in mind is not “strength to get through” this or that tough thing. I’d prefer a nice pass to get around it; I really don’t want “through” it.

Second, if I must go through the distress (did I say that, with all respect, I’d very much rather not?), I desperately need my Father’s help to trust his love and providence. And, if this blasted thing must be lived through, I need divine help to learn something worthwhile from it. As hard as it is to live through pain, it would be even worse to waste the opportunity to get something of value from it.

I’m not tempted to call my attitude one of great faith or exemplary courage. I’m a pretty run of the mill human, and I can live with that.

So I wasn’t too surprised to hear myself praying, in the midst of the present pestilence, for the Lord to please get us out of this wretched mess but, if it can’t be over, say, yesterday, to please teach us some valuable lessons in the midst of it. I think he has. And, though it’s still a wretched mess, I think most of us have already been surprised at some of the blessings that have come in the midst of the difficulty. It might do us a good bit of good to write a few of them down and thank God for them, even as we beseech (that’s a word pastors use for “ask”) him to pull us through that which is truly painful and difficult and frightening.

I’ll pause this for a moment so you can start your list. You can add to it later. [Please pause here.]

Among the items on my own list is one word: humility. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use a good dose of it.

We’re hearing a lot these days from experts. Pretty much every day. I’ve never been wise enough to need a lot of knowledge to adopt an opinion, but these folks have done the work and the study and had the experience to have opinions that actually are worth something.

That fact makes me particularly appreciative of a few of this slew of experts who have candidly said that, though they have done their best to make educated estimates regarding many aspects of this pandemic, what they know and are learning each day is, well, new, and much must be re-evaluated.

I appreciate that, and I bet you do, too. Just give us your best shot, Dr. Expert. Give us your educated opinion based on the knowledge and experience you’ve amassed in the past and the facts you have today. If that needs to change tomorrow, just tell us. That kind of honest humility we very much appreciate. It makes listening to you and trying to follow your best advice in a difficult situation a lot easier.

Right now, yea, verily, at this very moment as I write (and I’d be surprised if this doesn’t change by the time you read this; I’m sure it soon will), in my county we have not a single confirmed case of Covid-19. At this moment, were I unwise enough to actually want to contract the virus here, I’m not at all sure that I could. That’s now. That’s here. This moment. But this is far from true in so many places in our land and our world where the virus is now raging. I pray for all who are already dealing with serious pain.

So when the experts and those who govern us tell us that, even at present in a county like mine, social distancing, etc., is important, I believe them, and I appreciate their efforts to try to slow down the spread of this thing and help us get through this. I’ll try to show some humility and some appreciation and do what I can do to help. I hope we all will as we navigate through this serious threat to our health and our economy.

I don’t know what the exact situation is where each of my readers live, but we’re all dealing with a lot of uncertainty. I am certain, though, that my Father has plenty to teach me in the midst of it.

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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