Tag Archives: God

The Stars Speak Loudy, Wisely, in Silvery Silence

The yard mowing was finished. One more time. A personal best, by the way. Two hours. Mowing our 10,000 square foot yard usually requires almost three hours.

The last part of the job had pretty much been accomplished in Braille. It was a Wednesday evening. We’d gathered, as usual, with our church folks for a meal, etc., 6:00-7:00. (I am so very glad we meet that early.)

But Daylight Saving Time, a very mixed blessing, meant that I faced a decision at about 7:30. To mow or not to mow. That was the question. I did not want to. That was not in question. But this was the window I had for mowing for the next several days. If I waited, the yard would be, even this early in the season for us, a jungle.

So I mowed, figuring I’d get at least part of it done. I was amazed to finish the whole thing. (Only because I had trimmed pretty seriously on the previous mowing and got away with very little of that on Wednesday.) As I mentioned, darkness was coming on as I throttled down my mowing machine.

It really was a beautiful evening. So, once the rumble of the engine was silenced, I decided to sit out on the patio for a few minutes, partly to nurse my aching feet, and mostly to enjoy the quiet and the stillness.

The slivered moon was headed down behind my friend and neighbor’s workshop. Optical illusion, I know, but it surely seemed to head down faster the closer it got to the horizon. A lunar voyeur, I spied on it, lest it sneakily rebel and head back upward with no one watching. In the space of ten long breaths (I was counting), it slipped away, down for the count.

And, of course, as the moon went under, the stars, always there but needing the darkness to make their shimmering silvery presence known, began their sparkling dance.

The canopy of two huge trees in the backyard obscures part of the sky (blessed shade in the heat of the day), but the Big Dipper was shining through brightly. A very elementary knowledge of astronomy will reveal that drawing a line from the “pointer stars” (Merak and Dubhe), five times the distance between them (about twenty degrees), will land your eye on Polaris, the North Star, the anchor of the northern sky and friend of long generations of sailors.

The second star from the Dipper’s bowl is Mizar, and right beside it, if your eyes are good (this was an ancient eye test) you can make out Alcor.

The Big Dipper hasn’t changed recently. In about 50,000 years, I’m told, a bit of a shape change may be apparent. But on Wednesday night, I noticed what looked like another bright star in the pattern. What?!

And then the “star” moved. Jet airplanes do that. And that’s what it was. I had momentarily confused a few-years-old man-made object flying six miles high with God-made stars billions of years old, 51-123 light years away.

We should spend more time sitting in the darkness looking up at the stars. That night their silvery silence spoke loudly. My “airplane” difficulties may masquerade as stars, but they flit away, and God’s love-lit starlight remains.

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2018 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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Knowledge and Wisdom Are Not the Same Things

Knowledge and wisdom are not the same things. As has been wisely observed, knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad. On a deeper level . . .

Knowledge has to do with knowing about created things; wisdom means knowing the Creator.

Knowledge means knowing facts about the past in order to make a good grade on your history exam; wisdom means learning the lessons of the past to plot a course for the future.

Knowledge knows how to make stuff, lots of it really cool; wisdom means knowing how to use what is made for the best purposes.

Knowledge may think that simply knowing facts equals wisdom; wisdom knows that only the incredibly foolish ever think of themselves as being wise.

Knowledge is tempted to be arrogant, puffed up because of what it knows; wisdom lives in humility knowing that everything it knows is evidence of how very little it knows, even as it is always seeking to learn more.

Knowledge points to glitz and technology and cool engineering tricks to amaze and thumb its nose at the past; wisdom knows that the glut and the glitz of its age (industrial or technological or informational) makes it not one bit truly wiser than ages past.

Knowledge knows stuff—and lots of it; wisdom knows that what is true and real and lasting is rooted forever in the One whose existence holds this world together, the only One who is constant, unchanging, forever true.

C. S. Lewis is the one, I think, who coined the term “chronological snobbery.” We are so easily—at all times and never more than now—tempted to think that increasing knowledge and information and, especially in our time, amazing technological advances, mean that we are wiser than those in all preceding ages. Really?

Oh, I love technology (and cool gadgets). I love being able to access incredible information at the click of a few keys. But wisdom is not dependent in the least upon technology, and burgeoning levels of information are no evidence at all of any increase in wisdom.

I may be afflicted with chronological snobbery in reverse. I can’t imagine how we can be such fools. Even ancient pagans, foolishly worshiping rocks and carved pieces of wood, were “wise” enough to worship something outside of themselves. How many of us today breathe God’s air, live on his spinning world, “thank” him by doubting, denying, or laughing at his existence, and crown our idiocy by worshiping ourselves? In our arrogance, we seem to think that everything from our gender, to the multiplication tables, to whether up is up or down is down depend our mood or the latest opinion poll. After all, it’s 2018, and technology and information abound. Are we not wiser than all who’ve come before us?

No, we’re not. I wonder if any society has ever been more foolish. The Apostle Paul pointed to the cross and told the truth that “even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Wednesday’s Meeting Has Been Moved Forward”

Good morning.

Forgive me for even considering such, but I almost planted an exclamation point at the end of “morning.” It is indeed morning as I write. I’ve eased into light, speech, and a little thought, but that I would even consider assailing your mental ears this early in the day with the kind of volume implied by that loudest of punctuation marks, well, I apologize for almost falling into such brutish behavior. Those two words followed by an exclamation point become a contradiction in terms.

So, settling for the more civil ante meridiem (as in a.m. for morning) greeting, we move on into the day, fire up, log in, open up the computer, delete a few dozen ads and several phishing attempts masquerading as legitimate emails, and peruse this real one: “Note to Committee on Committees Members: Wednesday’s meeting regarding the creation of another committee to further complicate the lives and work of the many too many committees already created to complicate our lives has been moved forward by two days.”

Here’s the question: Is that Wednesday meeting, “moved forward by two days,” now set for Monday or Friday?

Okay. Pause. Take your time. Don’t lock in your vote and alter your calendar too quickly, but do take notice of your first reaction.

It’s clear to me that the meeting is now set for Monday. But I also know, and so do you, that a significant number of other folks will be quite sure that the meeting is now set for Friday. If we’re the ones wording the message, we know very well that we’d better spell out the day or confusion will reign. Two groups half the size of the whole will find themselves meeting on two different days four whole days apart. The confusion hinges on that simple word “forward.”

According to author, psychology lecturer, and BBC broadcaster Cynthia Hammond in her book Time Warped, the little vignette above illustrates how very practically in our daily world the way we associate time and space and the way we feel about time “moving” separates us into two groups.  Hammond says that those, like me, who now plan to head to the meeting on Monday, see time itself as moving “like a conveyor belt,” the future coming towards us. Those who plan to meet now on Friday see themselves as moving in time towards the future.

As Hammond writes, “either you stay still while the future comes toward you or you move along towards the future. It’s the difference between thinking that we’re fast approaching Christmas or that Christmas is coming up fast.” Either point of view is defensible; the point is that each of us defaults into one or the other.

I find this sort of thing fascinating. But far more important than whether the future is heading toward me or I’m heading toward the future is the fact that my Father holds all of time and all of the times of my life in his warm hand.

See ya Monday. But my vote is that we cancel and spare the world one more meeting and one more committee.

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Third Birds, Trampoline Mats, and Early Mornings

Third bird. That’s the term author Daniel Pink uses, in his book When, for folks who aren’t by nature larks (morning people) or owls (night people).

Having taken the analysis he recommends for determining where one nests on that feathery continuum, I was a little surprised to find myself perched in the third bird category. I’ve always thought I followed in my mother’s footsteps as the very definition of a night owl. (Henceforth I will simply say “owl”; “night owl” is as redundant as “hot water heater.”) I like the quiet and warm enfolding that night affords and, with it, opportunities for reading, writing, musing, perusing, working, breathing during sweet moments when one’s cell phone is under control (as in, OFF), and a large percentage of the population is comfortably tucked in and unconscious.

On the fairly rare occasions I’ve tested early mornings—I’m doing that right now, but they don’t come as naturally to me—I’ve found that they provide some of the same benefits as late evenings and have their own good flavor. Just let me ease into light and volume. I can make coffee just fine in the dark, and my mouth is where it’s always been. The computer screen’s brightness needs to be throttled down. I wish its key-clicking could be muted. And, please, let’s put off speech until coffee does its work and the sun follows suit.

Mom was not a morning person; I wonder now who it was who used to wake us up singing the old and always obnoxious “Good Morning to You” song with its line about “all in our places with sunshiny faces.” Ouch.

Third birds like me evidently can go a bit either way, though I’ll definitely morph more toward midnight than morning. Just mind the light, please.

But I’m writing early this morning. I blame the trampoline. My back, which was awake before the rest of me, thinks I spent too much time testing a new mat yesterday afternoon.

The old mat served long and well. Four sons did their best to work it out. One Great Dane spent a little time on it but found it hard on his hip. That mat was shaving cream-stained from grandkid fun days complete with water, sprinklers, “silly string,” water balloons, etc. And it had lots of mileage on it as a launching pad for jumping and giggling grandkids on the back of a winged unicorn or about to be eaten by a hungry orc. The aforementioned unicorn/orc recently put his foot (rapidly) through what was a small tear in the mat. Hence, new mat. Hence, time testing new mat. Hence, up early this morning.

The lawyer litter tag on the new mat says it needs to be used with mature supervision. My wife read that and said I don’t count.

Scripture says that God’s mercies are “new every morning.” My back will be fine. The coffee is on board, and I don’t at all mind admitting that on this early morning, the Creator of each new day has blessed me with some sweet memories. I’m ready to make some more! I just need a nap first.

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice


“The Word ‘Good’ Has Many Meanings”

“The word ‘good’ has many meanings,” writes G. K. Chesterton. “For example,” he continues, “if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.”

Certainly a true observation, as far as it goes. I, for one, would like to know more about the character of the fellow’s grandmother before rushing to judgment.

Nobody before or after Chesterton has done a better job of lining up words delightfully. Of course, were he to fire a good shot with the words above in today’s politically correct society, he’d bump into all sorts of problems, and not just with The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Grandmothers.

He transgresses immediately by using the term “man.” Though one would think that anyone passing third grade successfully would know that “man” in such a construction is more generic suffix than sexist offense, an “enlightened” editor today would undoubtedly want Chesterton to change “man” to “human” or “person,” lest the quote offend delicate ears. Never mind that such surgery would immediately render a pithy quote punch-less.

But let’s play with this. Please work with me a bit on putting away just for the moment any very appropriate concerns against grandmother abuse.

“Human” as a choice in this sentence is so atrocious as to be no choice at all. “If a human were to shoot his grandmother” not only, of necessity, brings in the always ungainly “his or her,” it brings up unhelpful questions about whether or not most Martians treat their grandmothers better than most humans do.

“Person” is better than “human” but still brings up the “his or her” thing along with difficulties related to the subjunctive mood and choices regarding “was” or “were.” Pretty soon, “their” will try to barge in, as it always does in today’s attempts at neutered writing, even as it wantonly wreaks subject-verb agreement havoc by pretending to be what it will never be: singular.

Sorry, but I’m thinking that if you surgically change “man” in this great quote to anything else, the patient (meaning the quotation) will not survive the operation. And, the grandmother’s character aside, we’ve not yet dealt at all with the modern debate over whether or not the guy is really nasty and messed up and mostly to be blamed or if the real culprit is his wicked gun.

It’s a tough situation. Reflecting on this great quotation moves me to sympathy not just for grandmothers but for all writers who increasingly face the choice between political correctness and writing that hasn’t had the life and even the grandma—I mean, the grammar—throttled out of it.

The crux of the quote, though, ain’t grammar; it’s goodness. And it’s not good at all that political correctness can so obfuscate a good point. For a good springboard to some very good discussion about what it means to be truly good, I refer you to Christ’s words (Luke 18:19): “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

A good shot with good words.

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Wisdom and the Times of Our Lives

According to the wise man writing in Ecclesiastes 3, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

I like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases this in The Message: “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth.”

Yes, and the sage continues in those famous words, “There is a time to be born and a time to die, . . . a time to kill and a time to heal, . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance . . .”

It rings true, doesn’t it? Our souls and our experience hear these words and respond, yes.

Life is a patchwork quilt sewn together with swatches of immensely varied “times and seasons.” In our lives we experience incredibly sweet moments, sometimes followed in an eye-blink or two by tastes terribly bitter. Even on the same day, how unusual is it to both shed a tear and liberate a laugh?

Pain and pleasure, darkness and light, tears and laughter. However long the cycles—moments or days or weeks or months or seasons—the human experience is that night-times of weeping and joy-splashed mornings, and everything in between, are the mosaic pieces that make up our lives.

The “wise man” had lived long enough to be wise. Some things just take time. You’ll never get a 100-year-old oak tree by wishing really hard for it for ten incredibly strenuous minutes. Even a for-their-age-mature pre-teen or teen will likely find it challenging to believe even a well-loved and trusted adult sharing the truth that dark times of sorrow and pain and frustration and fear really do not last forever. It is nonetheless true and wise counsel that we owe them and that one day they’ll also try to share with the next generation even as they face the same challenges when sharing it. The times and seasons and cycles continue, you see.

Wisdom says that it’s good to know that the times and seasons really do change.

Wisdom says that it’s good to take what’s immensely good about the good and incredibly difficult about the bad and learn from both.

Wisdom says that though experience is the best teacher for us all, we needlessly impoverish ourselves if we fail to listen to the experience of those who go before us and have much priceless to teach.

Wisdom says that genuine truth is truth for all seasons, and it does not change.

Wisdom says that the best way to live wisely into the future is to learn the lessons of the past.

Wisdom says that only the incredibly foolish ever think of themselves as being wise.

Wisdom refuses to be a slave bowing before the supposed wisdom of its own time.

Wisdom knows that the glitz of its age (industrial or technological or informational or . . .) makes it not one bit wiser than ages past.

Wisdom knows that genuine wisdom is rooted forever in the truth of the One whose existence holds this world and universe together, the only One who is constant, unchanging, and true in all times, all seasons.

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


The Good News Is That “Jesus Paid It All”

Here’s a tale of two sweet songs and, with them, a life-crucial lesson.

The first song is a heartwarming ballad performed by Phillips, Craig and Dean, one of my favorite singing groups.

“A scene so familiar at the old five and dime / A little boy waited his turn in line . . .”

With excited eyes twinkling, he’s holding in his hand the candy he’d been saving his money to buy. The girl at the register smiles at him as he forks over the handful of coins but then winces; it’s not enough. Kind-hearted, she’s not sure what to do. But that’s when a stranger standing behind the boy in line speaks up and saves the day: “Whatever he’s short, just take it and add it to mine.”

“I’ve got you covered / I’ll pay the difference / You don’t have to worry at all / Whatever the cost is, I’ll go the distance / If you fall I will catch you / You know I won’t let you feel like you’re there all alone / I’ve got you covered.”

It really is a sweet song. A few measures in, and we become that little boy. We’re really him already. We’ve been there. We know how he feels. And soon we’re thanking the Lord for that kind “stranger.” An eye-blink later, we realize that the merciful stranger is our Lord, and we’re beautifully reminded of what he’s done for us.

I love the song. In fact, I added it to my own repertoire years ago and perform it whenever I can. I like it so very much that I can get so caught up singing the sweet story that I dream past a mildly tricky entrance or two and miss the train! It’s one of my favorites for sure, and I don’t mean to be picky.

But here’s a point we’d better not miss. If we do, it’s no exaggeration to say that we’ve missed the truth of the good news, the gospel, of Christ, and we’re well on our way to being sad Pharisees.

In walking with us through our lives, Jesus does indeed lift us up whenever we fall. When our strength is not enough, his is very much there for us. That’s the truth of this song and why I love to sing it.

But let’s not push the song too far. When on the cross Christ takes on himself all of our sin and guilt, he doesn’t just “pay the difference.” The wonderful truth is in the title of another sweet song: “Jesus Paid It All.” All! He really did!

If we catch ourselves thinking that salvation itself is a matter of me doing my part and Christ “paying the difference,” we’re denying the cross, the depth of our need, and the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice. And we very much need to spend some serious time grappling with the Apostle Paul’s amazing words in Romans and Galatians.

We also need to read Ephesians 2 and believe the apostle when he says that salvation is not at all a matter of works we do. If it was—oh, he knows humanity—we’d be “boasting,” figuring that we’d put at least part of the money on the counter. We’d never know the real price, and we’d live in constant anxiety and fear—no real joy, peace, or confidence—never knowing if even the small price we’d paid was enough (and always tempted to compare the price we think we’ve paid to the price we judge that others around us are paying). That way of life is self-centered, not Christ-centered. It is a way of condemnation, not a way of salvation. It is exhausting and futile, terrifying and gospel-denying.

Thank God indeed, Jesus paid it all. Christ’s people live their lives to honor him. They live into the good works Scripture says he has created for them to do (Eph. 2:8-10). Not to pay the price. Because the price has already been fully paid. The difference is just, well, all the difference in the world.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


The Shortest Distance in the World

The shortest distance in the world is the space between hero and heel.

On that first Palm Sunday the cheering crowd lay palm branches in Christ’s path as he entered Jerusalem. By that Friday we call “Good,” how many of those same voices were crying, “Crucify him!”?

Jesus was not surprised. The prophet had said long ago that God’s servant would be “despised and rejected” (Isaiah 53:3). And we’re told that Jesus “knew what was in man” (John 2:24), that he knew humans “inside out” and “didn’t need any help seeing right through them” (The Message).

But it had to hurt. On Sunday, a crowd is praising; on Friday, a crowd is cursing.

On Sunday, they’re praising the one they hope will inaugurate an earthly kingdom and shed the blood of the hated Roman conquerors. On Friday, they’re screaming for the blood of the one whose spiritual kingdom seemed short of swords and firepower.

But Jesus was not surprised. Soon he will look out over the city (foreseeing her doom) and weep, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who bring you God’s news . . .” (Matthew 23:37).

Now Entering Jerusalem: Hometown of [Supply Prophet’s Name] read the signs put up by the Chamber of Commerce. No fine print mentions the names of the upstanding citizens who’d years ago put the prophets to death. “The shortest distance . . .” Short and selective memories, too.

But what if Jesus had just agreed to be the kind of king they wanted? Judas probably could have saved his blood money. James and John could have taken seats as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, though the Romans might not have let that “kingdom” last long.

Yes, but if Jesus had simply listened to Satan, agreeing to bow before the Prince of Darkness in exchange for worldly power, Rome would’ve gone down! I wonder how many despots today, not to mention their predecessors already moldering in history’s dust bin, would grab just such a deal? (Or name any size tyrant, any size venue.) What if Christ had chosen to call legions of angels to take him off the cross and destroy the world (he knew that he could), well, talk about power!

What if, like the crowd in Jerusalem, we prefer Jesus to be the kind of king who’ll give us everything we want—easy lives, health, wealth, success, political clout, etc.? And what if he doesn’t?

The crowd wants a revolution. Judas wants one, too. Right now! Peter pulls out a sword to fight. And Jesus, with power completely beyond the understanding of power players and blowhards, shakers and movers, fighters and king-makers, is so strong that he lays down his rights even as he lays down his life, and he dies to do the will of his Father and save weak and selfish rights-mongerers like . . . us.

We’re curse-hoarse from yelling “Crucify him!” as he quietly refuses to be the kind of king we want. Nailed to the cross, held not by spikes but by quiet love-filled might that puts the world’s “mighty” utterly to shame, he shows himself to be exactly the kind of King we need.

“Therefore, God has exalted him to the highest place . . . that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . .” (Philippians 2:9-10).

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“We’ve Made It Through One More Time Change”

Well, we’ve just made it through one more time change.

I’ll check in a minute (note the subtle time reference), but I always have to think about whether we’re going ON to Daylight Saving Time or going OFF of it. ON is the spring thing, right? We seem to be doing one or the other pretty much all of the time, or at least every ten minutes or so. About the time my internal clock makes peace with the most recent chrono-lux-economy change, it’s time for the next one.

The handy little mnemonic device . . .

By the way, mnemonic devices are handy by default (and what a cool word); I don’t recall ever meeting an unhandy mnemonic device. If I don’t recall it (that ill-fated meeting of a device designed to help one recall stuff), it’s probably because I failed to grab one of the assuredly handy little mnemono-thingies as it scurried by). I digress.

The best mnemonic device for DST’s advance or retreat is “spring forward, fall back.” So last night before heading to bed, having conjugated “spring” just for good measure (I spring, I sprang, I have sprung), I sprang up off the couch in search of clocks from which to steal an hour.

Ah, but before any of us waste time in this supposedly light-saving mandated clicking, turning, tapping, or dialing forward of more clocks than any home, vehicle, or office can possibly need, we face a precision decision.

Adrian Monk (I loved that TV series) supposedly had two carpentry levels. One he occasionally used; the other was his level-checking level which, twice a year, he took to a hardware store to be calibrated. A man after my own heart.

My clock-checking clock is the U. S. Naval Observatory’s master clock. The Department of Defense (and most of the world) trusts it. Since it is supposed to “neither gain nor lose one second in about 300 million years,” I accept it as a pretty decent standard for me, too, as I’m standing in the kitchen amidst three digital clocks—two on ovens and one on a microwave—and trying to get them to agree and move on to the next displayed minute within a window of discrepancy I can tolerate. My rule is that they need to be displaying exactly the same time three-quarters of the time. (I can live with that; Mr. Monk could not.) Anyway, once I’ve determined that my computer and my cell phone are both in agreement with the USNO master clock, the time-setting commences.

They (the experts) say that this twice a year time-tinkering (look up biannual, biennial, and semiannual to view an all-out brawl between word-parsers) has some advantages, but it can mess a bit with our Circadian rhythms and thus our sleep. And that, I postulate, tends to make some of us a little loopier and a tad more eccentric than usual. I offer this column as support for that belief.

I love the Apostle Paul’s meaning-packed phrase in Galatians 4, “When the time had fully come . . .” That’s when God sent his Son to save us and, the apostle writes, to free us from the futile slavery of trying to save ourselves. Nothing in the universe has been the same since that Son-light-giving saving time.

 

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

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“No Statute or Regulation Shall Be Enacted Into Law Unless…”

As I write this week’s weak column, Texans are one day away from the 2018 state primary election. I’m too late to add one more ill-fated proposition to the list of mostly D.O.A. propositions already on the ballot.

But I’d like to submit this one: “No statute or regulation shall be enacted into law unless two existing laws or regulations are rescinded, removed, deleted, trashed, shredded, deep-sixed, done away with, gone.”

I should’ve floated that idea to some political candidates while they were still in moon-promising mode. They’ve been pretty busy sending out mailings, littering the landscape with signs, and making television ads. Most of the latter require a big cowboy hat (cattle are optional), a pickup, a shotgun or three, a promise to out-conservative fake conservatives, and a pic of the family praying before a meal or heading to church—all sandwiched between vicious attack ads that should make a pagan blush. Most of these folks seem to think voters are idiots, and we voters have done precious little to disabuse them of the notion.

We may all lose, but some candidates will eventually win, and I wish the winners would consider the proposition I’ve mentioned. Why? Because having too many laws is the surest way to erode respect for the law. We do a lousy job even of trying to keep God’s Ten, but we’ve got so many laws now that even normal people (Donald and Hillary and special prosecutors by the boatload are not normal people) can’t get out of bed without breaking a law before breakfast. If your faith is in government, you may find this state of affairs reassuring; I do not.

I loved a recent Wall Street Journal commentary by attorney Mike Chase who has so far posted a thousand laws, one a day, on Twitter at @CrimeA-Day. He’ll never finish (he says that in 1982, the Department of Justice tried to count the total number of federal crimes and gave up), but reading these is a hoot, and here are a few.

It’s a federal crime to transport a toy torpedo bigger than 23mm in diameter.

It’s a federal crime (hereinafter IAFC) to sell “egg noodles” that aren’t ribbon-shaped.

IAFC for a hamster dealer to put a hamster on an airplane without enough for the afore-mentioned rodent to eat and drink during the flight.

IAFC to market as “wing drumettes” any bird part that is not the humerus of a poultry wing.

IAFC to sell antiperspirant that “lasts all day” unless it reduces armpit sweat by 20% over 24 hours.

IAFC to import honeybee semen if it’s not Australian, Bermudan, Canadian, French, British, New Zealand, or Swedish bee semen.

IAFC to engage in Canada goose population control by shooting geese from a parked car, but not if you’re missing one or both legs.

And so on, ad infinitum ad nauseam ad heehawingum.

I admit that human kingdoms need some laws, but the Lord Jesus has told us that in his kingdom, two are enough: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. I’m thankful that Christ’s sacrifice means that, while his people are confessed law-breakers without a single self-justifiable leg to stand on, we’re forgiven sinners with two good legs to dance on as we praise God forever for his mercy and grace.

 

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

 

Copyright 2018 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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