Saturday, June 25, 2016

Submarines and Sailboats

The not-so-little country church to which the Colonel belongs, here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, held its annual Vacation Bible School (VBS) this week.

The Colonel spent the week following a group of fifth and sixth grade boys around.

One does not "lead" a group of fifth and sixth grade boys.  Herding cats is a breeze by comparison.  

And, fifth and sixth grade boys aren't going to sit still for flannel graph Bible stories nor willingly participate in dancing and singing.  They would rather be fishing or wrestling or swimming or wrestling or playing sports.

Or wrestling.

So, that's what the Colonel's kids do.  One evening we take 'em fishing and then we tell 'em the story of the Greatest Fisherman (Luke 5, 1 - 8).

Another evening we run 'em through an obstacle course and then we tell 'em the story of the Greatest Warrior (Joshua 5, 13 - 15).

We take 'em swimming and tell 'em about the depths of God's love for them. 

This year, on the first evening we brought 'em out to the Colonel's Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility and let them put the finishing touches on a submarine silhouette.  They wrote "Submerged in Christ" on the sub, slapped on a couple of coats of polyurethane, and glued a cross on the conning tower.

"Submerged in Christ" became the overarching theme for the week.

You might not think so, but there's a spiritual lesson in comparing submarines to sailboats.

You see, a sailboat rides on top of the water.  The water influences it some, but the wind is the far greater influence.   

A submarine, submerged completely, is influenced only by the water that surrounds all of it.

So, the question becomes: are you a sailboat Christian or a submarine Christian?   

A sailboat Christian floats on a foundation of faith, but is blown hither and yon by the winds of popular opinion, cultural dogma, or political correctness.

A submarine Christian is completely submerged in the will of God as expressed through the teachings of His Son, Jesus.  Submerging in Christ insulates one from the whims of the world.

The Colonel knows it's not a perfect analogy -- nor even a very good one, for that matter.  

But, it worked for fifth and sixth grade boys.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Playground Politics

The Colonel is absolutely disgusted by the ever-sinking level of political discourse across the Republic.

He has always been uncomfortable with the sophomoric name-calling.  He is dismayed to see normally mature, intelligent fellow citizens become nothing more than nattering nine-year old playground denizens when referring to the political opposition. 

Can we just stop using the following (and their ilk), please?






Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. 

It is beneath us.  Far, far, far beneath us.

Come on, people!  We aren't Venezuela, for crying out loud. 

Can we just stop gleefully cheering on the gutter-crawling, mud-slinging from those who purport to be our leaders?  This ain't a mud-wrestling match, fellow citizens! We are debating the future of our Republic!

The Republic that we are going to leave to our grandchildren.

Speaking of our grandchildren -- if we caught them using the kind of foul, disreputable language that passes for our political discourse today, we would refer them to their parents for appropriate punishment and correction. 

Disagree -- of course.  Just keep out the coarseness.

Forceful defense of your political philosophy -- absolutely.  Just dispense with the ad hominem attacks.

Anyone who disagrees with the Colonel on this is a thumbsuckin', booger-eatin', pants-wetter!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Quiet Man

In June of 1966, the Colonel's dad, then a tech sergeant in the United States Air Force, went to Vietnam for a year.  The Colonel was ten; his brother seven.  

Dad was 34.

Tech Sergeant Gregory and his wife were natives of Columbus, Mississippi, so he moved the family back to Columbus for the year.  Or, forever...  They didn't know.

That was fifty years ago.  You would think that experience would have faded into an inconsequential blip on the memory radar by now.

You would be wrong.

Watching your mother deal with sending her soul mate off to war; watching your hero leave for a year, even at the self-absorbed age of ten...;  well, that's just not something that gets relegated to irrelevancy and suborned to the subconscious all that easily. 

Turns out that year was one of the most momentous years in the Colonel's life (to be eclipsed only by the summer a scant five years later when he fell in love with the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda).

It was during that year in Columbus, Mississippi that the Colonel got his first true exposure to the idiocy of racial segregation.

It was during that year, while his hero was off to war, that a surrogate stepped in as the Colonel's Scoutmaster and kindled a fire for camping and hiking.

It was during that year, while Dad was fighting in Vietnam, that the Colonel first stood toe-to-toe with another boy, landing and absorbing punches until the two of them were pulled apart by screeching teachers and sent to sit shoulder-to-shoulder outside the Principal's office.

It was during that year that the Colonel's mother entrusted him to walk little brother to school and back; and it was that year that Mom let them go to a Saturday matinee on their own.  Barrow Elementary and the Princess Theater were an equidistant three whole blocks from home, but it felt to the two boys as if they had been commissioned to explore the Louisiana Territory.

One Saturday the matinee was a Western.  "Lewis and Clark" sat front and center as a tall man, larger than life, filled the screen.  His posture and countenance did most of the talking for him, but when he did speak it was direct and to the point.  He called a man -- who wasn't even wearing a black hat with a big buckle -- "Pilgrim." 

The Colonel turned to his little brother and whispered, "Bruce!  Who does that big man remind you of?"

"Daddy!," they both exclaimed.

It was the first John Wayne movie the Colonel ever saw.  For years afterward, the Colonel had a suspicion that his dad had a side job as an acting coach.  

The Duke had Vernon Gregory down to a T. 

You might be nostalgic for John Wayne.  The Colonel ain't.

Senior Master Sergeant A. V. Gregory, Jr., USAF (Retired) turns 84 today.  Still a quiet man to match The Quiet Man.  

Still as big as Big Jake.

Still as principled as McLintock.

Still as strict as Sergeant Stryker.

Still as gritty as Rooster Cogburn.

Still the Colonel's hero.

Happy Birthday, Dad!