Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday Blog (26fe06)

My non-Calvinist friends occasionally challenge my Presbyterianism with a question like: "Don't you believe God gives us choices?" The issue they're getting at, of course, is election—the fact that God calls to Himself those He has chosen to accept Christ as their attoning Saviour. In other words, they're asking, when Jesus "stands at the door and knocks," as He put it, does not everyone get to "choose" whether to open the door of their hearts and let Jesus enter their lives?

My response long has been: "Insofar as human understanding can reach, we certainly make choices. But God knew what our choices ultimately would be, long before He created us. He created us all anyway—those of us who would choose to accept Christ and those who wouldn't."

One small bit of scripture perhaps clarifies my statement. Proverbs 16:9 declares: "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps." The New Century Version states it this way: "People may make plans in their minds, but the Lord decides what they will do."

By all means, make your plans. Make your "choices." The Lord says He works everything to good for those who love Him and are called to His purpose. At the very least, then, you must allow that God has the power to override our plans and choices if and as He chooses.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Weekly Folk Music Quiz (25feb06)

Who was The Journeymen’s banjo player during the early1960s Folk Revival? a) Bud Dashiell, b) Dave Guard, c) Dick Weissman, d) Mike Kirkland.

Weekly History Quiz (25feb06)

What author immortalized "the Scottish Robin Hood," Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734), with a novel published in 1818? a) James Fennimore Cooper, b) Robert Louis Stevenson, c) Emily Bronte, d) Sir Walter Scott.

Weekly Amusement (25feb06)

A burglar told a judge he intended to represent himself in court. "Don't you want a lawyer?" the judge said. "One will be appointed for you at no cost, if you can't afford it."

"Nah," replied the miscreant. "I've decided to tell the truth this time."

The Estill Book Club

There are clubs of all kinds—some focused, some aimless, some benevolent, some socially elite and “clubby.” In Estill, SC, is a club after my own heart. The Estill Book Club, meeting twice a month from September to April, is finishing its 93rd year. It isn’t just a worthy organization; it’s priceless, in my estimation. Here are people who avidly read books—a dying breed—and gather to discuss their selections. Moreover, they share a close common friendship that makes the Book Club one of the most important activities in each member’s life. Besides the books and current events they discuss, they look forward to a lunch-time feast at each meeting. When they return thanks to the Lord before indulging at table, they understand they have a lot more to be thankful for than a fine southern meal.

A dozen women in 1913 started the club because, although they lived in a remote small town near the Savannah River, they were interested in worldwide literature. Why 12 members? Because the typical southern dining table seated exactly that number. As the original members passed on, each was succeeded in turn, typically by a relative. Thus, the Estill Book Club possesses an unique genealogical as well as literary tradition.

In an era when more and more people are taking most—in many situations all—of their education and entertainment from broadcast and online media, the Estill Book Club is carrying on the vital promotion of the printed word.

The club has made for front-page feature material in several daily newspapers. Sandlapper, The Magazine of South Carolina, is featuring the group in its Spring 2006 issue. You can read the article online in April after the issue goes public at the SC-ETV Web site,

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Weekly Folk Music Quiz (18fe06)

Which Bill Monroe bluegrass standard was recorded by Elvis Pressley? a) “Uncle Penn,” b) “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” c) “Footprints in the Snow,” d) “Mule Skinner Blues.”

Weekly History Quiz (18fe06)

Who founded the Pacific Fur Company in the early 1800s? a) William Lewis, b) Meriwether Clark, c) Jeremiah Johnson, d) John Jacob Astor.

Weekly Amusement (18fe06)

Diner to waiter: “There’s a fly in my soup.”
Waiter to diner: “Don’t worry. Nothing survives long in our soup.”

Friday, February 17, 2006

More Abuse of the English Language

The Weather Channel, to me, is probably the most useful operation TV has going for it. But although I love and respect the meteorological team, I’m eventually going to throw up on the screen if they keep mangling the language. My pet peeve: “These conditions are expected to continue through the overnight.”

Hey, gang, “through the night” says it exactly.

And I might throw up on my wife if she tosses out the nonword “majorly” one more time. (“I’m majorly bent outa shape over that.”) Yeah, and I’m majorly bent outa shape over the fabrication of “majorly.”

Weekly Folk Music Quiz (17fe06)

In what year did John Denver succeed Chad Mitchell as a member of the Chad Mitchell Trio? a) 1960, b) 1965, c) 1970, d) 1975.

Weekly History Quiz (17fe06)

The Stono Rebellion, a major slave uprising near Charleston, South Carolina, occurred in: 1) 1680, b) 1739, c) 1800, d) 1857.

Weekly Amusement (17fe06)

Mo: Is “Ballpoint” your real name?
Ballpoint: Nah, that’s my pen name.

Wolves in Sheeps' Clothing

“Where’d We Get That Phrase” Department:
The term “wolf in sheep’s clothing” comes to us—surprise, surprise—from scripture, as do so many common sayings. When Jesus spoke the metaphor in Matthew 7:15, He was warning His followers not to be led astray. The exact quote (KJV): “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Weekly Folk Music Quiz (4fe06)

The Virginia Minstrels, cofounded by Dan Emmett, debuted in 1843 in what city? a) Charleston, SC, b) New York, c) St. Louis, d) Paris.

Weekly History Quiz (4fe06)

In what century did the Aztecs in Mexico establish their capital, Tenochtitlán? a) 9th Century B.C., b) 2nd Century B.C., c) 4th Century A.D., d) 14th Century A.D.

Weekly Amusement (4fe06)

What did one skunk say to the other as they crouched in hiding beneath the crowded church pew?

"Let us spray. . . ."

Dickens Data

A fine Web resource for readers interested in Charles Dickens is Gad's Hill Place. You'll find rich details concerning Dickens life and works, as well as what reputedly is the largest collection of his quotations (more than 500) available on the Internet.

Of particular interest to me is the account of the Staplehurst railway accident of 1865. Dickens narrowly escaped a horrible death; 10 were killed, 50 injured.