“If You Build It They Will Come” And Watch

th4WFX8RGGCan’t Watch This

When was the last time you watched something so scary, cringe-worthy, or unbelievably tacky — in a movie, on TV, or in real life — you had to cover your eyes?

I pretty much do all of the above when just passing by the TV or channel  surfing.  TV is bloated with the most unbelievable lack of talent, artistry, and creativity.

Somebody, no a bunch of somebodies thinks the public wants to see at every turn skin shows with sexual tension and innuendo, homosexuality, gutter language, and graphic violence. I really don’t think people with breeding. common sense, and taste like it.

When a program is said to have adult situations and humor, it does not mean that. What it means is dirty, base, and perverted bilge.

Nearly everything on TV is entertainment based.  Talk shows are inundated with entertainers. They are boring, flip, and empty. A Kardashian has and ingrown hair and it’s news. George Cloney makes a political or environmental statement and it’s news. Honey Boo Boo passes gas and that’s news, that’s funny, that’s entertainment.

For certain, there is good programing, but few want to devote the time to write it, produce it, and direct it.  There is in the background, though, a Field of Dreams scenario; “if you build it they will come.” It takes courage, vision, creativity, and talent.”

It’s embarrassing to watch a kid on stage with no talent. We know he’s bad, but he thinks he’s good and so does his mother who believes in him, but the kid is so pathetic we applaud anyway. Later everyone thinks, “Everybody clapped, he must be good.”

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Dad and The Pastor; Bowden’s Will – Part 14

(Continued from yesterday.)

I recall the events that day as plain as it happened yesterday. Dad held on to Bowden until he calmed.

Two months later Bowden was in and out of the hospital. Dad visited each time and when he came home would sit and think for a while. I asked Dad each time how

Bowden was doing and he’d tell me whether it was a good day or bad day.

It was a warm fall Saturday. Dad was in the field combining soybeans. The phone rang and I answered it. It was the church secretary. She told me that Bowden died just within the hour and he wanted Dad notified immediately.

I climbed on a small tractor and raced out to where Dad was harvesting. I wasn’t sure how Dad would take the bad news. I wasn’t even sure the men liked each other.

Nevertheless, it seemed strange to me that one of Bowden’s wishes would be that Dad be contacted so immediately.

I waited till Dad came to the end of the field. He shut down the combine and waited for me to climb up into the cab.

“What’s up, son,” Dad said.

“I just took a call from the secretary at Bowden’s church,” I said and paused. “Bowden died about an hour ago.”

Dad tightened his lips and though for a moment and nodded slowly. “They say anything else?”

“No, that’s it,” I said.

Dad thought some more.

“You want me to take over for a while?” I said.

“No,” Dad said. “When I’m working these fields I get a lot of thinking done. Go tell your mom and ask her to take my best suit to the drycleaners.”

Dad completed the field three hours later. By the time he arrived at the house three men in suits were waiting for him. Their names were Blevins, Herrnstein, and Lukmam, members of the church board.

Dad washed up and invited the men to sit at the dinning room table.

“We won’t be long,” Blevins said.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like coffee are some refreshment,” Dad said gesturing toward the table. Dad pulled a chair from the table.

Lukman looked at Blevins waiting for approval.

“Please sit,” Dad said. “I imagine this must be a difficult time for the church.”

“We really don’t have the time,” Blevins said.

Dad returned the chair. His eyes darted across the men’s faces. Dad’s friendly and sympathetic face turned firm.

“What brings you men here?” Dad said.

“A situation has arisen,” Herrnstein said. “One which you can easily alleviate.”

“I’ll do what I can,” Dad said, “but I’m in no position to help, I’m not a member of the church.”

“That’s the problem,” Blevins said. “It seems Bowden had a will made out. In that will he said you were the only one to speak at his funeral.”

Dad was stunned. He pulled out a chair and sat.

“You see,” Blevins said. “You are not permitted to take the pulpit at the church. You are not a member. An exception could be made if you were even clergy, but even then that would be restrictive. It requires seminary approved by the church.”

“So if you would merely decline that would be the end of the matter,” Lukman said.

“But what about the wishes of Bowden?” Dad said.

“He’s dead,” Blevins said.

“Not according to church doctrine,” Dad said.

Blevins, Herrnstein, and Lukman all looked as if they wanted to leave. The kept eyeing each other and the door.

“Bowden taught that doctrine,” Dad said. “He knew it when he wrote his will. He knew the position he was putting us all in. It seems we are at an impasse.”

“Blevins pulled a folded piece of paper from the inside lapel pocket of his jacket. He unfolded it and pressed it out in front of Dad. Herrnstein pulled a pen from his pocket and laid it next to the paper.

“What’s this?” Dad said.

 

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Dad and The Pastor; Find Your Ease – Part 13

(Continued from yesterday.)

“In love,” Bowden said.

“How so?” Dad said.

“He was cantankerous, moody, jealous, vengeful, angry, and murderous in the Old Testament and a revealed himself by means of the love of Christ in the New Testament.”

“Oh, Bowden,” Dad said. “That is a worn out argument easily parried.”

“Then do so,” Bowden said.

“It’s really coming down to this isn’t it,” Dad said. “It is your faith that is week.”

“You are the arrogant one,” Bowden said. “But since you brought it up, I have no need to counsel with a farmer.”

“Nor a Jewish carpenter,” Dad said.

“But God has changed,” Bowden said.

“What is to happen to all the wicked?” Dad said, “according to the New Testament. And mind you, there is as much said in the New Testament about the destruction of life.”

“Than God is not love?” Bowden said.

“There!” Dad said. “That is your question.”

“You think you have one up on me don’t you, farmer,” Bowden said.

“Ah, farmer is it.” Dad said. “There is another rub. Your words betray an envious heart.”

“I don’t know why I come out here?” Bowden said.

“Stimulation,” Dad said. “You are lonely. You’ve always been lonely. You have no one to stimulate your apathetic faith or the lukewarm doubt that grows in you. This is a feast for you.”

“More like a snack,” Bowden said.

“It eats at you, Bowden,” Dad said. “People come into you and ask questions. You speak to them in intellectual terms. They are terms vague at best. You tell them to have faith and not to question, but as you sit there on the ground and cannot tell me that God is love.”

“Of course I can’t!” Bowden screamed. “I’m dying!” Bowden began to sob.

Dad slowly eased from the tractor and sat beside Bowden. Dad pulled him into his chest as Bowden wept.

“Please say a prayer,” Bowden said.

“You pray,” Dad said. “I think God wants to hear you and I think for the first time in a long time it will be a good prayer.”

“Dear God,” Bowden said. “Why me, why me? I have…” Bowden stopped.

“God knows what is in your thoughts,” Dad said. “There is no shame in telling him.”

“I was going to tell him I have served him,” Bowden said. “But I haven’t. My life has been serving myself. I think you are the only one who knows that. I can tell by the contempt you have for me.”

“I apologize, Bowden,” Dad said. “I hide my feelings with contemptuous words. I deeply care for you. If I didn’t I’d have thrown you off this farm long ago.”

“My life has been full of hypocrisy,” Bowden said. “I have walked people up to and through death with words I did not believe or trust. I have fooled everyone except you. I can only trust you.”

“You look healthy, Bowden,” Dad said.

“Yeah,” Bowden said. “Like this black suit makes me look holy.”

“If you are to die, ole friend,” Dad said calmly and compassionately. “You will not die alone. I’ll be with you. It is a sleep, a gentle sleep it will be only a moment. When you waken I’ll still be with you. We’ll talk about God, nature, and good things, things that trouble and things that make us happy. Bowden I believe that with all my heart.”

Dad and Bowden wept together.

(Continued tomorrow.)

 

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Dad and The Pastor; It’s Not Hemorrhoids – Part 12

(Continued from yesterday.)

Bowden crossed his arms and leaned forward on the tires of the tractor. He looked into the wind blowing waves of wheat. “I don’t know. I simply don’t know. I ask questions I can’t possible answer. And I come here and we talk and I get answers.”

“No,“ Dad said, “you’re a pompous, aristocratic, intellectual snob, don’t pull humility on me. You’re not getting sympathy here.”

“Damn, you,” Bowden said.

“Well I’m glad to see others give form to primal grunts of frustration other than myself,” Dad said.

Bowden walked toward is car, but there was a slight hesitation in one of his steps.

“You want me to beg you to stay, don’t’ you?” Dad said.

Bowden stopped and turned to Dad. “I don’t need you or you sarcasm. Your hatred for the church is known and blasphemous.”

“Why do you come!” Dad said.

“To save your soul!” Bowden said.

“Than tell me what you think!” Dad said.

“I told you, I don’t know!” Bowden yelled.

“Okay,” Dad said “Here it is.”

Bowden walked back to Dad. Dad pulled two rags from his pocket. He laid the clean one on the ground. “Sit down so you don’t get grass stains on your behind.”

“Why don’t I sit on the tractor and you sit on the rag?” Bowden said.

“There’s two reasons” Dad said. “It’s all about positioning. In case you never noticed you always try to take the higher posture. You imagine it gives you some sort of psychological edge.”

“I’m older Bowden said.

“And it’s harder for you to climb up on things,” Dad said.

“You said you had two reasons,” Bowden said.

“Probably most important,” Dad said. “When I sit on the ground I have hemorrhoids the next day or so.”

So they assumed there positions; Bowden sitting on the ground and Dad on the seat of the tractor.

Dad stroked his chin. “Of all the qualities God possesses which is most outstanding?”

“Love,” Bowden said. “The scriptures says ’God is love.’

“That is the one I shall work on,” Dad said.

“But has God always been love?” Bowden said.

“Has there ever been a time when you were not an is?” Dad said.

“Well sure,” Bowden said. “Before I was born and after I die.”

“But for the sake of what you have propounded we can eliminate one,” Dad said. “Because immortality has been granted.”

“Wait, now,” Bowden said. “We’re talking about you not me.”

“No,” Dad said. “This conversation and question has been about you from your days in seminary, it has been with you all through your teaching career, and sucks on you like a parasite until this very minute.”

“Preposterous!” Bowden said. “I’m a man of the cloth.”

“The absence of a flat-out ‘no’ leaves me with ‘yes,’” Dad said. “I notice you shifting your weight. Pray it’s just being uncomfortable and not hemorrhoids. The devil in me says I should pray for both.”

“That begs the question was there something before God?” Bowden said.

“That’s you begging,” Dad said. “Not me. It is resolved in my mind. The 90th Psalm ‘He is from everlasting to everlasting.’”

“But God has improved,” Bowden said. “That would indicate some sort of a beginning.”

“How has God improved?” Dad said incredulously.

(Continued tomorrow.)

 

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Dad and The Pastor; A Bitter Exchange – Part 11

(Continued from yesterday.)

Dad had his head stuck in the engine of a Minneapolis Moline calling it everything except a tractor.

“Good afternoon,” Bowden said. “Looks like you got a problem.”

“You’re so used to being in the problem business that you see every endeavor beyond breathing as a problem,” Dad said.

“You’re the one doing all the cursing,” Bowden said.

“You call it cursing,” Dad said. “I call it vocalizing and giving form to my primal grunts.” Dad smiled, wiped his hands, and shook Bowden’s hand. “What brings you out this way?”

“I was coming back from Ft. Wayne,” Bowden said. “And thought I might drop by and see ya.”

“Well,” Dad said. “Could you hop up on the tractor and make yourself useful and turn the key until it starts.”

Bowden dressed in his black suit climbed up on the tractor and turned the key. The tractor started immediately.

“Now don’t go telling folks this was a faith healing,” Dad said.

“It had to have been the Lord,” Bowden smiled.

“The Lord works no better for you than he does for me,” Dad said. “Quit trying to bait me into an argument, because we’ve already did that dance.”

“And that was a dance we were both in step with each other,” Bowden said.

“What have you got for me today?” Dad said.

“Here’s something I propounded to my theology students when I taught,” Bowden said. “Suppose you were immortal.” Bowden paused. “No sarcasm?”

“Not yet,” Dad said. “But hold on to your collar. Okay I’ll play along; I’m immortal.”

“What changes in your personality would you work on? Will you live differently knowing that you have immortality?”

“Once again, Bowden,” Dad said. “Your are trying to steer the answer. You want me to pick something. Perhaps I choose nothing. When you try to put me in a corner or elicit a response that you can exploit it makes me very suspicious of your aims. Are you trying to convert me?”

Bowden hopped down from the seat of the tractor.

“If you ain’t here to convert me than get the hell out of here, because you’d be laying,” Dad said. “It would be a huge feather in your cap if I’d come to church and drop money in the plate. You’d probably retire after that because there would be no more mountains to climb, rivers to span, or wayward to convert.”

“So how would you answer the question?” Bowden said.

“Have you thought long and hard on this?” Dad said.

“Yes,” Bowden said. “I have. It was quite an exercise for my class.”

“With all that background on the subject,” Dad said. “I feel like this is some sort of an ambush. You came in here with your guns a blazing.”

“Well I wouldn’t go that far…” Bowden hesitated.

“Well I would,” Dad said. “You practically got out of your car before it rolled to a stop. I heard the door shut, open, you turned off the car, and you shut the door again.”

“I’m forgetful,” Bowden said.

“You got the mind of steel trap and the focus of a hawk, Bowden.” Dad said. “You already have arguments in mind. You taught for twenty years and used that question all twenty years. You’ve looked it from every possible angle, so, Bowden, you answer first.”

“I’m the teacher here,” Bowden said.

“No you ain’t,” Dad said. “You’re the guy I told to get up on the tractor and turn the key. Your knowledge of what happened to start the engine is scarcely better than an Amazon tribesman‘s. For all you know magic spirits made tractor go putt, putt.”

“It really didn’t take long for the sarcasm to surface,” Bowden said.

“Please,” Dad said. “Put me out of my misery and reveal what you would under the circumstances you described.”

(Continued tomorrow.)

 

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Dad and The Pastor; Honesty – Part 10

(Continued from yesterday.)

It was winter, perhaps late January. It snowed all night and drifts were as high as six feet. Dad and I spent the morning plowing, shoveling, and tending to livestock.

Mom fixed Dad and I a hearty meal at noon and she went to her sewing room. We finished eating and sipped coffee and slowing ate apple pie.

“Dad,” I said. “It seems like you and Bowden known each other from long ago.”

“Yeah,” Dad said. “It’s a long story.”

I smiled. “Planting is a good two and half or three months away.”

“You’re starting to sound like me,” Dad said.

“I was 21 years old,” Dad said. “Bowden was thirty when he started to pastor my church. He was smart and handsome. He had a career, came to town with a doctorate.

I dropped out of school. I always wanted to be a pastor. I suppose Bowden was what I wanted to be. Are you sure you want to hear this?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“My study of the Bible was serious even though college was beyond me,” Dad said. “I found so many inconsistencies in what the church taught, what they practiced, what they really believed, and what I really knew to be true and false.”

Dad looked into his cup and sipped.

“Mom and Dad died. The farm was so heavily mortgaged it went back to the bank. The only job I found was working for Clyde Harper,” Dad said. “$100 a week and a cabin. Here’s me with a 20 year old suit and shoes with holes in ’em and there’s Bowden looking like he just got done with a photo shoot for GQ.”

“But it’s what’s in the suit, right Dad?” I said.

“Well,” Dad smiled. “That’s the way your Mom thought too. Bowden and I had our eyes set on the same girl, your mom. Our battle was not only for her heart, but it was over theology. It was about that time I stopped attending the church. Your mom and I got married by a justice of the peace and Bowden went on to be a professor at Princeton’s school of divinity. He became widely read.”

“Is that why there seems to be so much bitterness?” I said.

“I suppose,” Dad said. “Backin up a little, shortly after your mother accepted my proposal for marriage I went to Bowden’s office at the church. I told him to stop trying to date your mom. We argued. He told me I’d be nothing more than an impoverished itinerate farmer and never be able to provide for your mother.”

“You’ve done pretty good, Dad,” I said.

“Yeah,” Dad said. “That was a real kick in the butt for me. I stormed from his office and went out to Clyde Harper’s and we drew up an agreement to buy his farm. Your mom and I lived in that cabin for five years. She worked at the post office, I worked at the factory, and we both worked the farm.”

“Do you think he envies you?” I said.

“How could he?” Dad said. “He’s got everything he wants, himself.”

“What keeps him coming back?” I said.

“I don’t know,” Dad said, “but someday he’ll tell why.”

“Do you think it’s mom,” I said.

“Well, I couldn’t blame him if it was,” Dad said. “Every time you think you have the other person figured out or know them they surprise you. Never overestimate or underestimate a man. A man is what he says he is.”

“What if he says he’s honest,” I said.

“Honest men never say they’re honest,” Dad said. “Only liars and thieves say they’re honest.”

“Let your yes be yes and your no be no,” I said.

“That’s right, son,” Dad said. “That’s how I bought this land from Harper. We wrote down the agreement and shook hands and when I gave him his final payment we shook hands and thanked each other. Clyde told everybody about how we did things. I’ve always had more land to farm than time.”

“Is Bowden an honest man?” I said.

“No,” Dad said, “his greatest dishonesty is to himself.”

(Continued tomorrow.)

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Dad and The Pastor; Soul Man – Part 9

(Continued from yesterday.)

Bowden had an uncanny ability for showing up at the right time. I theorized he might even be sitting at a hidden location spying on us and as soon as Dad was without work to do on the farm, here came Bowden.

It was fall, crisp, colorful and the fields bare.

Dad had just turned a bushel of apples into cider in the press on the back porch. Dad was explaining to me the virtues and health benefits of apple cider and apple cider vinegar. There was a knock at the back porch door. It was Bowden and Dad waved him inside.

“Have a seat on the bench, Dad said to Bowden. “Get a couple of glasses, will ya son?” Dad told me.

“Ya like cider? Dad said to Bowden. “Makes no difference you’re going to drink some anyway.”

Dad strained the cider through cheesecloth and handed a glass to Bowden.

Bowden looked down his nose at it.

“It ain’t hard, preacher,” Dad said. “Ya drink this all day long and the best it will get you is a bad case of the runs.”

“What’s been on you mind lately?” Bowden asked.

“Dad nodded for me to clear out. “Apple cider,” Dad replied to Bowden.

I eased out the front door and stooped low walking around to the back door where I could hear Dad and Bowden wrangle theology.

“I’m concerned,” Bowden said. “Where will your soul spend eternity?”

“I have to say, Bowen,” Dad said. “Your concern for me, though misplaced, is admirable. But my soul will cease to exist when I die.”

“Oh dear God,” Bowden said. I heard him gulp a swig of cider. “We’re speaking of your soul, dear man.”

“Words, Bowden,” Dad said. “You above most know words. You regal in words. You know the power and persuasion of words. Words are as important to a theologian as they are a lawyer. A misplaced word or added word means everything.”

“I agree,” Bowden said.

“The Bible is the ‘word’ of God, right?” Dad said.

“That’s an amen from the bench,” Bowden said.

Dad chuckled. “You got a Baptist background?”

“My grandmother on my mother’s side was Pentecostal,” Bowden said.

“Words,” Dad said. “Was Adam a soul or did he become a soul upon given the breath of life at Genesis 2:7?”

Bowden mumbled to himself reciting a scripture. “The later is true.”

“So for a lack of a better term,” Dad said. “Adam attained soulhood upon given the breath of live. Breath produced a soul. Soul is a result of breath. Before that he was…”

“A dead soul,” Bowden said. “No that’s not right. You got to live before you can die.”

“So one becomes a soul upon given life, right” Dad said.

“It’s another concept the church has struggled with,” Bowden said.

“The church seems to struggle often with the things it is most dogmatic about,” Dad said. “Don’t you find that strange as well as disturbing.”

“The struggle is to…”

Dad interrupted. “The struggle is to find evidence to something that never has existed; to pull terms from the Greeks and mystics and try to find evidence of them.

The Greeks were so good at that.”

“Well,” Bowden acquiesced, “in my studies I found great parallels between Greek mythology and philosophy and that of Christianity.”

“Bowden,” Dad said speaking just above whisper and with all seriousness, “the Greeks hijacked Judaism and then their thought became pleasing and eventually absorbed by Christian theologians and philosophers.”

Bowden breathed deep through is nostrils.

“’The soul that sineth will die,’” Dad said. “Ezekiel 18:4; that predated Socrates and Plato by hundreds of years. When the church teaches a soul that exists beyond death it teaches Socrates and Plato not Moses, Ezekiel, or Jesus.”

(Continued tomorrow.)

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