One of the best things about the Christmas season is receiving Christmas cards. The cards which are "personally imprinted" from the Whatever Family, always seem as personal as the mimeographed letters you receive from distant relatives, but I guess that shows your good taste. The imprinting, not the mimeographing. I have a card for you, the same one I'm sending -- personally -- to tens of thousands of other people, but it is just for you.
(December 21, 1996)
Three times in the last 20 years, and for three different publications, I have written an article entitled, "If I Had Only One Book." I imagine myself stranded in some isolated place, knowing before hand that I would be so banished, and allowed to choose only one book. Then I add other titles, if my banishers permit it. Some titles are on all three lists. Some only made one edition. But if I could have only one book... Well, read the whole list.
(December 14, 1996)
Your sixteenth birthday is usually a time for celebration -- a milestone reached, the long-hoped-for driver's license is now within reach. Your twenty-first birthday, too -- you're legal! There are other special days in birthday parlance, but today, I am thinking of a twenty-sixth birthday.
(November 9, 1996)
The desire to acquire is as fundamental as eating. Only in today's society, when we charge food, it is no longer "once over the lips, forever on the hips." It is forever on the balance sheet. Debt. How do you get out of it?
(October 26, 1996)
In one of my all-time favorite movies, haunting lyrics proclaim, "Please remember this, a kiss is just a kiss." Unless, of course, you are a North Carolina first-grader who has been branded a sexual harasser. Here's looking at feminist ideology and politically correctness run amok, sweetheart. I think we have played this song enough.
(October 19, 1996)
American society is increasingly threatened by revolving justice, plea-bargaining and arbitrary sentence reductions, but there is one court where all of the defendants are guilty and plea-bargaining is never allowed.
(October 5, 1996)
I will do almost anything to avoid most popular music. Oh, give me a Sinatra ballad, to be sure, even a Beatles' classic, and the soundtrack from Cats is always in order, but most of the rest is a criminal waste of good plastic. There is good music on the radio, however. It is brought to you by the same folks who bring the Good News on the radio -- Christian format stations, Gospel music radio. But is it Christian, this loud jumping and thumping?
(September 21, 1996)
If you were a politician, and maybe you are, and seventy percent of the people you represent favored an issue, do you think you might be inclined to listen to the voice of those who put you into office?
(September 7, 1996)
To see just what Americans would chose to do, if they knew that the activity would not be harmful, The Wall Street Journal recently took a survey. Suppose, they wondered, that many of the habits which we now believe are unhealthy were found to be completely safe. How many people would choose to live differently?
(August 31, 1996)
One of the themes which has been repeated in this space over the last seven years is marriage (definition: the union of one woman and one man as husband and wife). Permit me a few backward glimpses.
(August 24, 1996)
The Wall Street Journal said, "This suit is an especially pernicious attack on First Amendment liberties. The Christian Coalition has been singled out and publically savaged for distributing guides that were clearly legal." What's it all about?
(August 17, 1996)
"Thank you for what you said today," the woman commented most kindly. "It has been a long time since Jesus was in our Sunday school class." What happens in our gatherings that may make Jesus absent himself? And what is this fairy tale that he is concerned about broken fellowship anyway?
(August 3, 1996)
Murphy's Law was supposed to be a call for alertness and adaptation in a world which is increasingly unpredictable. Mr. Murphy never intended for it to become a synonym for defeat. Maybe so, but the best laid plans of mice and men frequently mess up. Somethings never turn out the way they were planned.
(July 27, 1996)
Centuries ago Christians debated such worthy topics as, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or did Adam have a belly button. Sometimes wrong answers were fatal. We would never do such things today. Would we?
(July 13, 1996)
"Star Trek: Deep Space 9" recently presented a fictional story about physician assisted suicide. The 9th and 2nd Federal Courts of Appeal have written their own, more frightening versions.
(June 15, 1996)
Who suspected that traditional attitudes would ever be disparaged as bigotry? Who suspected that extraordinary rights would ever be granted to individuals whose behavior has been ruled as criminals? The implications of Romer Vs. Evans.
(June 1, 1996)
The driver waved at me with the universal gesture of friendship, drove out of the parking lot, circled onto the street and waved at me again. Friendly cuss. Incivility needs a cure -- the Golden Rule.
(May 25, 1996)
Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes' resident curmudgeon, says he has never said, "Didja ever wonder..." Well, he may not have, but I have ... about grocery store "express" lines, the necessity of four-letter words, and other things.
(May 11, 1996)
Most men, most women and most young people reject the claims of Jesus Christ. Is that because of Jesus, or because of those of us who call ourselves Christians? Could one reason be, the way we behave when we "change churches?"
(May 4, 1996)
Christine slipped out of her house before the sun came up. She took less than $150, two cans of soda, six cans of tuna ... and a knapsack full of despair. Runaways just want to come home.
(April 27, 1996)
Twenty years ago, when theater owners were lining up movies, they used a process called "blind bidding." One of the biggest risks was "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." Does life imitate art? Is it possible to know the risks?
(April 20, 1996)
Barry Stopfel is a non-celibate homosexual. Bishop Walter C. Righter, who conferred ordinationi on Mr. Stopfel, has been charged with violating the Canons of the Episcopal Church. Disagreement over "doctrine" may lead to a heresy trial.
(April 13, 1996)
It was one of those memories that spring to mind for no apparent reason. Hearing that Hootie and the Blowfish had won the 1996 Grammy reminded me of a college professor from years gone by -- Miss Irene L. Kirkeby. And that memory reminded me of a funeral, and more.
(April 6, 1996)
It was only yesterday, but it seems like forever. For actor Charlie Sheen, a six week courtship, led to a divorce six months later. "I couldn't breathe," he said, "I had to come up for air". Thoughts on marriage and selfishness.
(March 30, 1996)
On February 23, William George Bonin, the infamous "Freeway Killer," was put to death in California's first execution by lethal injection. Tried by a jury of his peers, he was found guilty of brutally murdering 14 boys and young men. He was justly executed according to the laws of California. And the laws of God.
(March 23, 1996)
Every one who writes with a word processor knows, the bloomin' things can't spell! At least they don't recognize some perfectly good words which you know to be correct. So you must teach the program to do it your way. From A to Z (with no "X" to mark anything), here selections from my personal "abridged dictionary."
(March 16, 1996)
Three weeks after Earvin "Magic" Johnson rejoined the Los Angeles Lakers, boxer tommy Morrison confirmed that he has contracted the virus which causes AIDS. Celebrating Magic's return, the media is filled with cavalier, careless, and deadly AIDS rhetoric.
(March 9, 1996)
Gary Dockery joined the police force in Walden, Tennessee in June, 1988. Three months later he was shot in the head. Without warning, seven years later, he regained consciousness. Think of all he missed during those seven years: "Forrest Gump" and the O.J. Simpson trial, to mention only two "notable" events.
(March 2, 1996)
Two local middle school students ignored the centuries-old advice to "look before you leap" and now face the consequences. Like a pebble thrown into a calm lake, the ripples of our actions spread outward, affecting the water far beyond the point where the projectile entered.
(February 24, 1996)
If you reject the claims of Jesus Christ for today and for eternity, what are your choices? Maybe reincarnation? Maybe not. The Apostle Paul said, "If we have hope of Christ in this life only, we are of all men, most miserable."
(February 10, 1996)
If the standard is perfection, you can break someone's spirit. If the standard is perfection, none of us will ever measure up. What did Jesus mean when he demanded, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect?
(February 3, 1996)
Last May, while I was planning a summer trip to Samara, Russia, I jotted down some notes under an ambitious title: "If I Started A Church." In business, the three key elements are location, location, location. In church, to paraphrase our President, "It's the people, stupid."
(January 27, 1996)
Many scholars say much of what is recorded in the Bible is at best distorted, and some characters and events are probably totally fictional. A Time magazine cover story asked, "Are the Bible's Stories True?" Skeptics demand proof, but what is the evidence of faith?
(January 13, 1996)
I do not know if the $3 billion-a-year pornography industry has a motto or not. In case it has no pithy catch-phrase, I suggest the following apocalyptic quote from the late rock star, Jim Morrison: "I'm gonna get my kicks before the whole world goes up in flames." What about porn and the Internet?
(January 6, 1996)