Tag Archives: Faith

“I Guess the Turtle Was Right”

Well, I guess the turtle was right, and rain was on the way. If you can’t trust a turtle, the epitome of slow, faithful plodding, who can you trust? Not flighty or flitting, manic or depressive, just one step at a time dependability—that’s the ticket, turtle!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A couple of days ago, I looked through a window at the back of our house and spied, trudging across the property in a generally southerly direction, a fine example of Terrapene ornata, otherwise known as an “ornate box turtle.” Better yet known in “these here parts” simply as a turtle because, “ornate” or not, this species of turtle is the only kind I’ve ever seen here. Confirmation came when iNaturalist, a great “app” you can get for your phone to help easily identify all sorts of flora and fauna, nailed this guy as a “North American box turtle sometimes referred to as the western box turtle or ornate box turtle.” Yep. Terrapene ornata.

A little more reading and I’m kinda thinking “this guy” may be a gal and, very likely, no spring chicken. These creatures can easily live for decades. Who knows? This may be the same individual my grandkids saw lumbering across the same terrain almost a year ago. Turtles “all look alike to me,” says me, betraying shocking species-specific prejudice and appalling insensitivity.

Ah, but you can’t expect too much from me. I’m no genealogist, but what I’ve read strongly hints that my Shelburne ancestors were fiercely true to the British crown, and maybe even that some of the bunch who’d made their way to this side of the Pond chose to be “Loyalists” who went to Canada rather than lift a sword or musket against King George III a couple of years after all that fine tea was dumped into Boston Harbor. So I’m tainted. If I could find a statue of me, I’d pull it down in shame.

But the sackcloth and ashes, statuary graffiti and soul-grinding guilt will have to wait for another day. (Maybe Thursday, 2:00 p.m.?) The topic now is turtular weather prognosticating. And, honestly, I’m not sure if the turtle deserves bragging rights or not. From what I’ve read, this kind of turtle is quite fond of rain and tends to be more active after a good reptile-washing downpour (which may wash amphibians, too, but a turtle is not one, I may confidently proclaim as I feel all “woke” now regarding turtles).

Obviously, the turtle knows he’s wet after a rain, but what I’m investigating now is whether or not turtles are among the creatures who know instinctively that a frog-washer is coming. I’ve been told by at least one farmer that when he sees turtles out turtling about, he figures rain is likely on the way.

Thus, I say, I guess the turtle was right. If my farmer friend is right. We’ve had, for two sweet days in a row now, at least a little bit of rain each day. Turtles are not the only folks who feel better after rain, and I thank the Lord for it.

Back to our ancestors. Maybe some of them should have thought more about it before they chose to build in what is basically a desert. Still, it’s mostly been a good life here, even if the water’s always been short above ground and is getting a lot sparser below ground. And these days, goodness knows, our ancestors could use a little slack and some appreciation. The kind we’re all, whoever we are, if our “species” is “human,” sure to need ourselves down the line.

 

 

      Hey, folks! My new “Focus on Faith with Curtis Shelburne” podcast is now available! I’d love for you to check it out and, if you’d be so kind, subscribe! Episodes are available for the “clicking” over to the right, right here on my WordPress site, also at CurtisShelburne.com, and on most podcast players!

 

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


“To See Real Strength, Look Into the Face of a Farmer”

A glance through the window on the other side of the room tells me that we’re “in for it” again.

It’s mid-morning and the trees are already waving their branches maniacally, flailing arms raised in surrender, as the wind lashes them unmercifully. They seem to know that they are facing another withering day of wind-scourging, aided and abetted by blistering, unrelenting, sap-boiling, life-sapping heat.

The calendar says that it’s not officially summer yet. But the window and the trees are issuing a bleak and soon-to-be scorching sort of warning. Like the trees, I feel ready to surrender.

I’m weak. If you want to see strength in the face of a drought’s merciless onslaught, look into the face of a farmer.

If you’re not a farmer and you glanced into his barn at a pallet loaded with bags of seed, and if your life depended on correctly guessing the cost of the seed in those bags, I’m guessing you’d miss it by a factor of three zeros. Rich life is in that seed, dormant but real. The life is the miracle and our Creator freely gives the life. He also has given us men and women who have gained the knowledge and ability to be able to enhance that seed and multiply its blessing for a world much in need of it. That part does not come cheap, but when that seed grows, it’s green and rich and beautiful, full of potential and blessing.

But I look through the window again. I’m not standing out in the midst of the wind’s assault, waiting for the blast furnace to fire up again, knowing that we’re heading into another day, another week, with no rain. I’m not loading heavy bags—they might as well be filled with silver dollars—into planters, knowing that, barring some meteorological miracle, each seed is being plunged toward death by asphyxiation in dry dust.

No, I’m not a farmer, and though I respect and appreciate and love a bunch of farmers and farm families, just looking through the window today reminds me of how little I really understand about the way of life that makes it possible for me to live. Even to me, planting in a drought seems pointless. But that’s what the insurance rules require, and to have any chance at all to live long as a farmer, you must not only know how to grow things, you must understand, though it breaks your heart and goes against every fiber of your being, why for far too many years, seed has to be planted just to die.

Jesus once told a parable about seed; it was really a parable about souls (Matthew 13). But telling it showed that our Lord completely understands both. He understands seed. He understands souls. And he understands a farmer’s soul. He keeps planting seed, and he keeps planting in hope. He knows that at the end of the day he’s one day closer to the time when he’ll tuck that seed into the ground, the rain will fall, life will conquer death, and what grows will be beautiful.

Yes, in farming and in all of life, in times of difficulty and drought, we’re still one day closer . . .

 

 

     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.


“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.

 


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.

 

 

 


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.


How Much in Your Life Seems Normal Right Now?

 

I’ve long thought that, in so many ways, the biggest blessings of life are the small ones. The weeks we’re living through right now underline that, don’t they?

If, just a few weeks ago, you were a little bored and tired of the “normal” routine of your life, I’ll wager that is not the case now.

I admit that I can hardly understand ever being bored. I’ve always got more to do than I know how to get done, and, if I’m ever caught up with work and duties and that sort of challenge, I’ve always got waiting for me far more interests and projects than I can possibly get around. Bored I am not. Ever.

As much as I have to do and want to do, I try to find at least a little time, regularly, to be still and quiet. That’s not boring, either. Reading. Rocking. Napping. (Well, reading is an essential part of my work, but a whole lot of reading is also simply refreshing.) Some such is essential. Even if the rocking and napping and quietly musing is just for a few minutes, it’s needed. Anyone who doesn’t rest some can’t be worth what they should when they’re working.

Even God rested. And that we rest regularly is still His wise injunction, one which we ignore at our peril.

I hope you get some extra rest during this coronavirus mess. Okay, I know, some of it is externally imposed. Our kids expected to be back at school this week. School sports and league sports just aren’t happening right now. Restaurant dining rooms are closed. Take-out is a lifeline and a blessing to all concerned, and we pray for restaurant owners and staff even as we find a blessing also in remembering what it’s like to eat together at home some.

And churches? We surely didn’t expect to be doing variations on “remote” or recorded or live-streamed worship. For lots of church leaders, our “normal” routine of getting ready for Sunday worship, leading Bible studies, being together, eating together, and so many of our activities, are not “normal.”

Not much is normal. Everything we do seems to take more time, more thought. Even something as small as rolling off a little toilet paper! Very little.

Not much is happening on “auto-pilot.” “Normal” means, in so many ways, that we go through our usual paces without a lot of extra thought. Right now, we start to do something and . . . then . . . realize . . . that . . . we . . . can’t do . . . this . . . like . . . normal. What it certainly is, though, is . . . slow . . . and . . . kinda . . . hard.

Whether going to work, running a business, heading to the bank, taking a trip, getting ready for a meal, planning worship or even writing a church bulletin, and so much more, everything seems to require intentional, and different, thought.

Normal it ain’t.

It’s as if you were typing along on your keyboard and suddenly QWERTY is YTREWQ. The letters and characters are all there, but not one is in its usual position.

Life can surely be frustrating right now. And it’s hard to do anything fast. But it’s also not bad to slow down, even if we don’t have much choice. We’ve been moving way too fast for way too long. It’s good to tune more into each other. It certainly can be fine to attend activities and watch with a lot of other folks, but we’ve had plenty of that kind of time; we’ve long needed more time at home talking and getting reacquainted with our families. It’s good to think about how precious our relationships with family and friends really are.

And it’s good to think about what really is most important in our lives that hasn’t changed at all. On top of that list, I believe, is the love of our Father for His children. It hasn’t changed a bit. It never will.

And He’ll get us through this and teach us some things that will bless us along the way.

 

 

      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.


The Muleona Virus and the Ravages of Time

I must begin this column with an apology and a plea for your patience. This is third column, in as many weeks, in which I mention the coronavirus. Witless, I know. But terror drives people to extremes. (Well, yes, but terror is not my problem; a lack of imagination is, and when a column idea flies overhead, I’ve gotta snatch it, pluck it, and cook it even if it comes in a familiar flock, flight, or gaggle.)

The fact is, I’ve already had a deadly virus in that category and been categorically cured by the finest medical minds. We were keeping three grandkids for the weekend, two of which are ages four and five, at our home in the Greater Muleplex, Muleshoe, Texas.

So when I swooned back-first onto the bed (I always try to swoon in the direction of soft places) and stammered, “I feel really bad! I think it’s the Muleona virus!” and I began to cough and hack in a braying, hee-hawing fashion, I knew help would come.

A city doctor might well miss this, and the patient might quickly expire from lack of critical and specific Muleona care, but I feel sure a country doctor would recognize not just the difference between a mule and a donkey but also between a mule’s bray and a donkey’s bray, and thus nail the differential diagnosis.

I knew my pint-sized medical team would drop everything, grab their toy medical bag, and rush in my direction.

All sorts of tests were run. Pulse. Temperature. Blood pressure. Though the dread diagnosis of Muleona was confirmed—and I’m not sure about a bedside manner with that many giggles involved—I was quickly cured with a shot. Doctor Garrett couldn’t find the “shot thing,” so Doctor Kendall just fired a shot at me using a plastic pistol, and I was quickly released, no worse for the wear and presumably chocked full of valuable Muleona antibodies. I only rarely revert to semi-mulish behavior.

As when . . . my wife and I were sitting in the living room last evening, and I said, “You know, they’re saying that if you’re over 60, you should try to avoid going out a lot. That seems to argue for brewing more coffee or steeping some tea and launching into a good book. In fact, I’m 61! Maintaining good health at my age in this coronavirus crisis must certainly mean barricading myself behind a bookmark!”

The dear lady rolled her eyes sardonically: “You are not 61; you are 63. And you are insane.”

Quick figures. Our oldest granddaughter just turned 13 a week after my own birthday, and I was a very young fifty when she was born, so . . .

“Good heavens! I’d not realized the virus was so diabolically strong! It’s just robbed me of three years of life in less than five minutes, and I’m not even infected! Get me a book and a blanket before it’s too late!”

Even with poor math skills and without a virus, life breezes by. The psalmist prudently asks the Lord to “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:14).

Hmm. So far we’ve had in Texas no coronovirus case within 300 miles of me, but New Mexico has had none at all. That seems to argue for skiing this thing out in the New Mexico mountains, just to be safe. I’ll read at night.

Note: Oops! As of a day or two after this column was written, my Texas data is still true, but New Mexico has four cases and counting. By the time this hits print, well, you better check more recent statistics. And I may need to consult my pint-sized medical staff for more advice. Maybe a shot.

 

     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.


Tweet Quote: “The Coronavirus Panic Is Dumb”

Oops! I doubt he cares, but it looks like a billionaire toy maker for cool kids just got himself into a bit of a bind. (He makes high-priced and over-hyped electric cars—he can keep those, as far as I’m concerned—and some seriously cool rocket ships.)

All Tesla CEO Elon Musk did to generate knee-jerk howls was to tweet elegantly and articulately, “The coronavirus panic is dumb.”

Not everybody disagreed. I’m told that he got a million “likes” almost immediately. Make that a million and one because, for what it’s worth, I agree with him. I won’t be “tweeting” any responses, though, because, whatever the evidence that the sky is falling because of the coronavirus, a boatload of evidence points to the fact that Twitter is for twits.

Oh, my good friend Elon (just kidding) and I would, I’m sure, agree that health authorities, and the rest of us, certainly need to exercise some wisdom and take precautions. It might not usher in world peace, but it would certainly be a better world if more of us would wash our hands a good deal more often, try not to sneeze on other people, stay home when we’re sniffing and snorting, and just generally try to keep our mucus to ourselves.

All of that would help some, surely, with the coronavirus. It might slow down cold viruses a bit, too. And getting a flu shot won’t help with the coronavirus, but if the present media hyperventilation reminds and motivates folks to get the shot, well, I suppose that flu numbers might go down even as big-bad-bugaboo numbers go up. If Elon and I are wrong and panic is indeed called for, I’m sure I’d rather have only one virus at a time.

But there’s that operative word: panic. It’s not “reasonable measures” or “wise precautions” or “good public health responses” that are dumb; it’s panic. And that’s why I find it hard to disagree with my bosom buddy’s five-word tweet. (Coronavirus is one word. No hyphen. Panic is no good excuse for improper spelling and punctuation.)

Ah, but here’s the problem, and this is why the tweet prompted some howling. When Joe Blow goes on un-sneezingly to work, listens to reasonable advice, but changes channels and watches re-runs while talking heads are unable to talk about anything but Covid-19, well, no one gets too upset with him if he shrugs his shoulders a little and just soldiers on.

But when a billionaire with easy access to the best doctors and healthcare and, should the need arise for such, the poshest quarantine quarters, seems to lecture commoners on “coronavirus panic,” it doesn’t come off very well—even if he’s correct.

Time will tell who’s right, I suppose. I figure vindication will come for those of us who just choose to wash our hands more and hyperventilate less.

I do know this: When the King of the universe wanted to take miraculous measures against the “virus” of sin, he didn’t tweet from on high, he sent his Son right down amongst us, completely able to “empathize with our weaknesses” and “tempted in every way, just as we are,” yet “without sin.” Why? “So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4).

 

 

      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.

 


Coveys of Quail, Columnists, Politicians, and Covid-19

Quail. I have nothing at all against those birds. I enjoy looking at them. I’ve fed a few. Raised a few. Shot a few. Eaten a few. I enjoy them on every level, from my eyeballs to my taste buds. So I don’t mean to slander these fine birds when I say that their images should be woven into the logos of the world’s leading stock exchanges.

Or maybe instead the exchanges could use in their logos images of a bunch of frightened old women leaning on walkers. But that would be grossly unfair to elderly females, most of whom I’ve found to be savvy, courageous, and wise. Come to think of it, most of that breed cower and whine less than any other group you’d care to mention.

Anyway, if you’re looking for courage and fortitude, don’t look to find it in any of the world’s stock exchanges during, say, your average epidemic. If you haven’t looked at your retirement account lately, I’d suggest you wait a few months, or a year or two, to let the quail get over their cowering and covey up again. Even if the sky really has fallen by then, you’ll have time to make peace with it. (My deep apologies for herein mixing metaphors of quail and Chicken Littles, but I’m scared out of my mind. Can’t you tell?)

Of course, what at present has the national news media ecstatic and the stock market falling to its knees in terror is a virus, a “coronavirus,” namely, Covid-19. The Wall Street Journal’s headline today: “Disease Takes Toll on Companies.” But it’s not yet the disease taking a toll; it’s fear of the disease.

In that publication’s weekend edition, one columnist (who I like) conjectured that, while this thing is nothing to sneeze at, irrational fear of it will do a lot more damage than the disease itself. I understood his point to be: wash your hands, get out from under the coffee table, don’t stand in lines with hordes of other quail buying face masks, have the good sense and decency to stay home when you’re sick, and get on with life.

Another columnist (one of my favorite), writing a few pages away, while basically agreeing with the first, expressed a gut feeling that this thing and its impact is “going to be bad.”

Take your pick.

The most informative article I’ve read yet is by Matthew R. Francis (Popular Science, “Just How Contagious Is COVID-19?” 2/28/20). He looks to well-established epidemiology. An R0 (“R naught” or “basic reproduction number”) enumerates how many people will be infected by one infected person. Flu is usually 1.2; this virus seems to be “above 1.4 but below 4.” Measles is 12-18, which is why it’s crazy, if not criminal, not to vaccinate!

He also mentions the CFR, “case fatality rate,” and says that, though the “seasonal flu” has a low CFR, so far in this flu season almost 30,000 Americans have died from flu. He writes that estimates now are that the CFR of this new disease is 1.4 per cent (14 per 1000). And he cites serious research that shows that “city-wide quarantines” and “travel bans” don’t help much. They may slow down the spread, but it’ll spread anyway, do what it will do, and be done. I read that to mean that, if you’re a Christian and, on a particular Sunday morning, you find that the barometric pressure in Bolivia is right, your dog seems healthy, and it’s completely convenient, it probably won’t hurt you to go ahead and go to church.

I guess we’ll see how this all goes.

Forgive me while I make everyone mad, but I’m not presently ready (it’s the Monday before “Super Tuesday,” as I write) to place too much trust in the two guys presently “leading” in our two Keystone Cop political parties. “Controlling” a pandemic? One can’t control his own cell phone and the other recently felt compelled to give a nice “shout out” to a totalitarian murderer for “literacy” efforts. Our political prospects are enough to make you want to take a good sniff of Covid-19 or a large dose of Corona (not the virus).

I admit that, as I watched a news program yesterday, I found the words of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to be sensible. (I hope he has time to do some good things before he is inevitably thrown under the bus.)

But I find these words more reassuring: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

 

 

     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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