Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Planting and Planning

The Colonel plans on living until he is at least 120.  He has to. 

It's gonna take at least another half century for all the trees he's been planting to reach maturity.  

Look, the Colonel has never been accused of harboring measurable amounts of altruistic motives -- he wants to see the fruits of his efforts.  He doesn't really care about any legacy.  There ain't really gonna be anyone spending all that much time after he's gone talking about all the great things the Colonel accomplished.

Primarily, because there ain't a whole lot of great accomplishments to the Colonel's credit.  At least not measurable by historically great standards.

The Colonel has built a couple of bridges -- but, he's the only one that uses 'em.

The Colonel has a couple of buildings to his credit, designed in his head and built with his hands -- the chickens appreciated them.

The Colonel even has a road on his vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere to his credit -- he had to cut it in order to get his tractor unstuck. 

The Colonel can't really even claim any credit for the fact that his three children have grown into amazing people accomplishing amazing things -- that credit belongs to the Colonel's Lady, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda.

With chainsaw, sawmill, and powered hand tools, he's turned a lot of trees into prodigious heaps of sawdust over the last decade, but the Colonel has planted far more than he has cut down.  

In fact, the Colonel's bent toward arboreal replacement is not a recent retirement reality -- he's been planting trees for as long as he can remember, and while his short-term memory has begun to atrophy alarmingly he can remember trees he planted many decades ago.

He just never got to stick around to see them grow.  Thanks, Uncle Sam.

But, the Colonel is, himself, finally planted and rooted deeply in the soil of his ancestors.  It took him fifty years of wandering the world to get to where he is now, and as soon as his feet stopped shuffling the roots drove down quickly, tapping into a stability and sustenance that only this particular place on this big blue marble ever provided him.

Yep, the Colonel needs to live a long life just so he can point to a large shady oak and proclaim, "the Colonel planted that!"

But, then again, with carbon dioxide levels skyrocketing, trees are growing a lot faster -- maybe the Colonel will only have to live to be 100.

The Colonel loves him some Global Warming.         



Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ferocious Erudition

The Colonel has been called a lot of things over the years, and "angel" ain't one of 'em.  But, he hopes to be remembered as one.

Something in a scripture passage during his Sunday morning Bible study struck the Colonel differently than in numerous previous readings.

The passage in question is Luke's account of Stephen in the sixth chapter of the book of Acts. 

Stephen, as you will remember from your own countless perusing of the passage, was one of the seven men of good reputation, wisdom, and spiritual maturity chosen to administer to the equitable distribution of church resources among the widows of differing nationalities.  Because the Greek word, diakonos, was used to describe their duties, these seven men chosen to assist the apostles (allowing the apostles to devote their efforts to preaching and teaching) are considered to be the Christian Church's first deacons; although Luke does not indicate that they were so named.

Interesting word, diakonos.  As it passed from Greek to Latin to Old English to modern English, (with other linguistic detours the Colonel ain't schooled in) the word was long thought to be a conjunction of two Greek root words meaning "to hurry" and to "kick up dust."  

The Colonel likes that translation -- connotes a servant so devoted to his duties that his alacrity is physically manifest in the exhaust of his passage.

Alas, as much as the Colonel likes it, that translation of diakonos has fallen into disfavor amongst erudite folks whose grasp of Greek far outstrips his.  Modern Biblical scholars hold to a different set of root words whose conjunction connotes a servant trusted with protection and allocation of resources.  Given the responsibilities charged to Stephen, and the other six chosen with him; namely, the aforementioned "equitable distribution of church resources among the widows of differing nationalities;" it seems most probable, even to this knuckle-dragger, that this latter definition is more accurate.

But, despite the Colonel's verbose attempt to make it so, this post isn't about the origin of the word, and duties of one assigned as a, deacon.

No, weary reader, this post is about Stephen's ferocious erudition in the defense of his faith.  

As you will remember, from your numerous reading of the passage in question, Luke tells us that Stephen was ministering to a group of Christians who belonged to a synagogue composed primarily of freed slaves from regions outside of Israel.  As Stephen ministered to physical needs, he also ministered to spiritual needs -- preaching the Gospel of Jesus as the Messiah.  Said preaching rankled the synagogue leadership.

What rankled them most was the fact that, as Luke points out in verse 10 of Acts 6, they couldn't match the wisdom and erudition with which Stephen made his case for the messiahship of Jesus.  

Mind you, there is no indication that Stephen was a particularly well-educated man.  In fact, Luke indicates that the source of Stephen's wisdom and erudition was the Holy Spirit.  

Well, them high muckity-mucks in the Freedmen Synagogue couldn't best Stephen in the contest of ideas, so they dredged up some blasphemous mud and threw it at him.  Hauled before the Sanhedrin (Jerusalem's version of the county board of supervisors) and charged with blasphemy, Stephen sat facing the same sort of crowd that Jesus had just prior to His crucifixion.

Luke tells us that as the Sanhedrin was giving ole Stephen the stink eye, them sanctimonious Sadducees and Pharisees noticed something unusual about the look on Stephen's face.

Here's how Luke describes the scene in Acts 6:15:  "All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel."

Now, if y'all are anything like the Colonel -- and he is seriously sorry if you are -- you have probably read that verse before and thought that Stephen was sitting there with this placid, sweet smile on his face.  

That's how the Colonel has always read the verse.

Until this morning.

This morning when he read the verse the Colonel was suddenly reminded of the times in Scripture when men and women were face to face with angels.  He was also reminded of descriptions of angels in Scripture and those descriptions explain why men and women face to face with angels were, at least, deeply impressed, and at most, scared plumb to death.

Angels -- real angels -- aren't cloud-sittin' cuddly chubby-cheeked cherubs.

Angels -- real angels -- are impressive beings capable of a ferocity unmatched by mere mortal men.

The Colonel is thinking that when the Sanhedrin looked at Stephen what they saw was ferocious faith.    

Look, just as there is no scriptural indication that Stephen was particularly well-educated, there is no indication that Stephen was a battle-tested warrior either.  Stephen's erudition and ferocious defense of his faith -- see the remainder of the chapter -- was not, in the Colonel's not-so humble opinion, a result of his experience.  Stephen's ferocious faith was God's Holy Spirit working through him.

Today, men and women of faith face Sanhedrins of sanctimonious legalists who have twisted the concepts of love and acceptance into hideous forms unrecognizable by the God who created those concepts.  

Stephen defended his faith with the wisdom of spiritual maturity available only through the power of God's Holy Spirit.  And, he faced death with the ferocity of an angel.  

The Colonel prays for angelic ferocity.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Responsibility of the Republic

The Colonel knows full well that he views the world, and our great Republic's place in it, through a much different lens than the vast majority of his fellow citizens.

He has regularly, throughout his lengthening life, found himself marching at the head of a one-man parade, serene in his rhythm and yet alone with the beat in his head.

It was so even during his years as a centurion in the Republic's expeditionary legions.  Oh, there were some like-minded fellow freedom fighters, but all too often their cerebral drum-beat carried them tangentially away from the Colonel's route of march.

Mind you, the Colonel claims no particular brilliance to his beat.  As any of you who follow his posts hereon will testify, the Colonel's personal motto -- "ain't smart and you can't make me" -- applies in spades.

No, the drum beat echoing throughout his cavernous, and relatively empty, brain cavity isn't an original creation.  

Remember, the Colonel ain't educated -- he didn't go to college, he went to Ole Miss.  And, his two masters degrees -- Human Resource Management, and National Security and Strategic Studies -- weren't exactly the product of strenuous mental calisthenics.  They were more like participation trophies and nearly perfectly suited for the Colonel's current career -- raising trees and turning them into sawdust.  

The Colonel once held the mistaken belief that the beat that animated his march was "love of country."  

He now sees, through eyes dimmed by decades searching the sun for the approach of the barbarians, that love of country is as vacuous and worthless a concept as love of lawn.   

The Colonel has been to many, many countries on the globe, thanks to Uncle Sam as his financier and travel agent.  

The geography in those far-flung places was no less affection-inspiring than that of his native land.

The people themselves were no less appropriate for the Colonel's comradeship than his fellow citizens. 

It slowly dawned on the Colonel -- remember, he ain't particularly bright -- that there had to be something more to his devotion to the Republic than it's dirt and denizens.

The Colonel recognizes that most of you -- much smarter than this perpetual fifth-grader -- came to the correct conclusion of this search for understanding long ago.  

You realized that it wasn't the people and places that made America great.  It was their animating spirit.

The spirit of America is FREEDOM.  

Not freedom from responsibility, but freedom to act on personal responsibility.  Our Republic's spirit -- enshrined in our Constitution -- is freedom to pursue individual greatness.  Our Republic's spirit is equality of opportunity, NOT equality of outcome.  

Here's where the Colonel's drummer breaks into a beat that marches him off the reservation.  

Our Republic -- The United States of America -- has the same responsibility as it's citizens.  Just as each citizen has the responsibility to ensure that his or her fellow citizens' equality of opportunity is unhindered, our Republic has a moral responsibility to ensure that ALL men -- whose natural rights of freedom are "endowed by their Creator," not by a government -- are free to pursue the fruits of that freedom.

What does that mean?

It means that our Republic must continue to expand in order that increasing numbers of the world's men and women are included under a particular system of self-governance that has proven to be the greatest guarantor of the blessings of free-market capitalism this world has ever known.

It also means that we whose eyes are wide open must keep our sights set on the target of limited government.  Not no government.  But a government limited solely to the ensurance of the survival of the free exercise of man's natural rights.

Pick your leaders accordingly.

The Republic's future greatness depends on a Constitutionally-constrained chief executive who will lead the nation to share the fruits of freedom with the world, not on the whims of an authoritarian chief executive who will build walls of exclusion and wield the apparatus of government as a cudgel.