Past writings bring back memories


Several years ago, I wrote a number of small essays on a variety of topics. I do not remember having any particular purpose, perhaps to practice writing skills, or simply to search out and articulate whatever thoughts I might have about whatever was on my mind at the time. Nobody ever read them, and I am not sure I want them read, even now.

The other day I was looking through some papers and found some of them. Reading through, it seemed that they could serve as a record of what was going on then (roughly about 20 years ago), and what I was thinking.

There was one about Albert Pujols and steroids, whether he was using them. Back then, anyone who hit a lot of home runs was a suspect, fair or not. I should say that I am from St. Louis, and some of what I wrote is directed at things that happened there.

There was an essay comparing and contrasting nonviolent resistance and terrorism which, though it seems unlikely, do have some things in common. Another was about the economy in St. Louis. The largest employer there makes fighter jets. I wrote about how when the Cold War ended in the nineties, defense budgets were cut as the world decided it didn’t need as many warplanes. For a time, peace broke out and it hurt the local economy.

There was a six-part dialogue with Bill Maher about some of his religious satire, which I thought was sometimes funny but not true, other times true but not funny, and sometimes neither.

Some of the essays were more directly about religious topics, like prayer and the development of character, the Bible as truth, or the ancient message about the supremacy of love, and how sometimes pop stars are treated as if they invented the topic because they sang a song about it, like when the Beatles played, “All You Need Is Love.”

I wrote about an experience substitute teaching in a ninth grade math class. Near the end of the hour, the room had a hum about it as the students enjoyed a time of conversation while they waited for the bell to ring. In a surreal way, a girl stood up and said, “I don’t think my father even loves me,” and then sat down again as her words were covered back over by the hum of the other conversations. Nobody seemed to pay any attention. I have never forgotten it. I prayed for all the dads and daughters.

Another was inspired by junior football practice. It was late summer and every night there was a collection of parents with lawn chairs watching their 11- to 14-year-old boys (and a girl or two) learn how to play football and also some life lessons (TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More). All this happened night after night while the war in Iraq, where some of the town’s 19- to 22-year-olds were, was in one of its hotter stages. Nobody talked about the war.

The last in the stack of papers was about the Golden Rule. As I read through it, I decided I must not have been finished with it, I wasn’t pleased with the essay. I still agree, however, with one of its conclusions, that when it rolls off the tongue it sounds right, but it is really hard to practice.

There were others, but I have run out of space so will leave off here. This list of topics may seem unrelated. But maybe not, they are all about real life lived, and may serve as reminders to be gracious, and to remember forgiveness, and that the highest rule is the rule of love, and by letting it have the last word, to keep the rule that is golden fresh in our minds, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Dr. Mark Allison is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Delaware.

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