Inspired By Friendship: The “Basketball” Commercial

I must admit I do spend more time thinking about family and friends during this time of year.
Of all the blessings on earth which God bestows upon us, these two must be at the top of the list.

Recently, we shared the commercial which honored Veterans, entitled “The Empty Chair.”
While I was researching that video/commercial, I discovered this one:
From the same company, yes, Guinness. I explained my feelings about sharing that video when I posted it, but I was not prepared to find another commercial with such a huge impact and message … from the same company. Yes, maybe I wish that Pepsi and Coke (or Cream Soda or Birch Beer) would make commercials like this, but, the fact that it was a beer commercial never really sank in, just as in the other “Veterans Salute” commercial. It reminds of a time when I was watching a movie with a Pastor, and, when the movie was over, I commented how I did not like the bad language in the movie. The Pastor told me that he had not even noticed the language. It wasn’t that he was exposed to so much bad language that he didn’t notice … it was that he was so wrapped up in the message and story in the movie … So, I guess that’s the same way about this commercial.

I discovered that the commercial first aired well over a year ago, but I never saw it.
I’ve always been a fan of wheelchair basketball, though I’ve never seen it in person.
This commercial hit me immediately, but I was unprepared for the way it ended. Totally. It was like one of those twist endings at the end of a movie that you never saw coming. This was exactly the same way. I was stunned.

It really made me think of the value of friendship. And, I mean true friendship. Those very few, trusted people who know everything about you … and, still like you.
The definition of “friendship” is this: “”The relationship between friends; kindness or help given to someone.” Sorry … I just can’t think of a better visual display I’ve seen, which personifies the meaning of true friendship, than what I saw at the end of this commercial.

I think of how important friends are. I have used the example often, and will use it again here:
Remember how the book of Job ends:
“And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). That tells me pretty much enough how important friends are to us … and, how important we are to them.

Many times we have heard preachers mention the verse which begins, “Iron sharpeneth iron,” which is from Proverbs 27:17. But, how often do we hear the way that verse ends?
“… so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

So, to honor true friends, everywhere, here is the commercial:

 

 

Thoughts on Snow: Part 2

Recently, we offered some thoughts about snow … in particular, we tried to answer the question of why snow is so white. As a final “thought” on that, we learned that how a snowflake “appears” depends upon light. And, except for rare occasions, “no two snowflakes are alike.” I did think that, in God’s creation, no two people are alike … we are all different. We are all “people,” with the same basic make-up, but no two are exactly alike. Just like with snowflakes, each one is different. That is amazing, and proves, yet again, just how amazing God really is. And, intelligent. It did not escape me, that, even in a snowflake, how it “appears” depends upon light. Just like us! How we “appear” to others depends-totally and absolutely-upon how we reflect His light. We have written much about how just a little light makes so large of a difference to surroundings … Just like snow … to appear white … we must expose ourselves to the Light …

I must admit that I have spent much time recently thinking about snow. After a great, long Autumn, well, Winter finally arrived. And, everywhere I’ve ever lived, it’s always the same. No matter when it comes … no matter how many Winters we’ve been through … we are always “surprised” when it arrives. We never seem to be ready for it … even when God gives us many, many extra days of nice weather to prepare. Again, we always capitalize “Winter,” out of respect. So, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about snow. Maybe it’s been because of all these hours I’ve spent dealing with it. One day this week (I don’t really remember which day, as they all seem to look alike, with snow every day …), I was up at 5:30, and when I was out on the front porch at 5:45, I could hear snow-blowers going in the neighborhood. I joined them at 6:05 … this is AM, by the way … I was up and ready to go … after all, I hadn’t snowblown the driveway since … since … well, 9:00PM the night before …

Last night (Thursday), I got home from school, and immediately changed into the “snow plow” outfit, which means “layers,” and pulled on my new -40 boots … and, promptly went up on the roof to shovel snow and ice … then, I shoveled the snow from “my side” of the driveway (the spruce trees which had been holding the wet snow for the past couple of days released their bounty sometime that day), as there were 3 or 4 new inches of snow … even though we hadn’t really gotten any new snow to speak of, that day … then, I shoveled the end of the driveway, where it piles up (like a huge speed bump), from when the city snow plow goes by … If you don’t remove this long row of snow, after it freezes it really does become like a concrete speed bump …

Good thing we don’t have snow predicted for today, except for the “less than one inch” we’ll have in the forecast for the next 3 or 4 months … seemingly, every day. By the way, just so you’ll know that our weather forecasters are just like yours … when I got home from school today, I finished shoveling the rest of the snow from the front porch … no problem … I just went back out, and had to shovel again, what has fallen in the last hour or so … it’s coming down pretty good now, and we have already gotten much more than the “less than one inch” …

So, yes, I guess I have thought about “snow” a lot
the last few days …

Hey! Look! The calendar! Winter “officially” arrives a week from Sunday. I was working in a classroom today, and one of the ladies was putting on her snow boots, getting ready for recess duty. It was a fine pair of boots, rubber soles, insulated … I gave her this encouragement:
“Hey! Just think! Another 5 months and you won’t even need those!!!”

The hardest part is still the Spring … yes, the Spring. And, that’s because we have access to the national weather forecast … and, are able to see what the weather is like in the rest of the country …

As a motivational writer, I thought it was time to consider “the benefits of snow.” I really did a Google Search on subjects like “what are the benefits of snow,” and things like “is snow really a good fertilizer?” There really are benefits to snow. Plus, let’s never forget that God is fully capable to bless you … in any kind of weather … And, like a lot of things … to receive the benefits of anything, to realize the blessings included, it sometimes just depends upon our attitude …

Man!!! It is STILL coming down out there!!!!
Whoops! Sorry!

How glad I am to have heat (it was -15 just last Sunday night and our pipes froze), shelter, running water (and hot water) … I am surrounded by blessing … And-really-to have windows to look out of, and to be able to see, period …
To have warm clothing, to have so much … Sorry … had to look back outside again … I just went back out to the front deck, and there is twice as much snow as there was when I shoveled just under an hour ago … I check the weather forecast, and, while there is the standard “20% chance of precipitation,” there is no accumulation mentioned … however, I do see that we have a 60% chance of “snow showers” tomorrow, Saturday. While I am on the front deck, shoveling, I hear the neighbors come out from across the street … from their language … they seem just as surprised as I am that their truck is covered in snow … I won’t repeat what they said, but, I could tell they were surprised …

Did I mention that there really are “benefits” to snow? Well, apparently, there are:
One major benefit of a good snow cover is that snow functions as an excellent insulator of the soil. Without snow, very cold temperatures can freeze the soil deeper and deeper. This could lead to damage of root systems of trees and shrubs. The insulation effect of snow also helps protect perennials, bulbs, ground covers, and strawberry plantings from alternating freezing and thawing cycles. Without snow, milder temperatures mixed with the sun, could warm the soil surface, leading to damage from soil heaving, which can break roots and dry out plant parts. Snow also helps conserve soil moisture over the winter.

On days when the snow melts, it provides needed water. Lakes, rivers, streams and ponds benefit from snow by having their water supplies increased. When drought plagues an area, snowy winters can change the course of dry seasons. The entire ecosystem is maintained when water supplies are sufficient.

Snow is such a good insulator that some animals dig snow caves in which to hibernate. New snow is composed of a high percentage of air trapped among the accumulated snow crystals. Since the air can barely move, heat transfer is greatly reduced. Fresh, uncompacted snow typically is 90 to 95 percent trapped air. Many animals take advantage of snow’s insulating qualities, and burrow into the snow to hibernate through the winter.

Guess what? Snow reduces the insect pest population. Many damaging insects are unable to survive snow and cold.

I’ve always heard that it was good when it snowed because snow is called a “poor man’s fertilizer.” Is this true?
Aside from water, nitrogen is the only element that snow puts back into the Earth. However, lightning and rain actually emit a greater proportion of nitrogen than snow. What makes snow good for the soil is that it feeds nitrogen into the soil at a slower and more even rate (through melting) than a thunderstorm, which delivers precipitation at a more rapid rate.

So, what do you say now? Gotta love that snow!
But, I think, most importantly, we must learn to “be content in whatever state we are in.”
And, in whatever weather we are in.

To close (as I probably need to go back out and shovel), every area of the United States has its own particular weather issues … and, I know, many of those weather issues are much, much worse than snow … Period. More dangerous, and more costly. I will be completely honest: If I had to choose between some of the weather I’ve experienced, and what I see going on now throughout parts of the country … I think I’d pick the snow. We know when it’s coming (within reason), and we know when it is leaving (within reason). Regardless of where you are, and that includes here and there … God has placed you there … for a particular reason … Be grateful for where He has placed you, and go about “doing the business for which you were placed.”

And, that means, you must be ready, yes, in any season, and “in any kind of weather.”
God won’t place you where He can’t protect you.
God won’t place you where He won’t protect you.
God won’t place you where He can’t bless you.
God won’t place you where he won’t bless you.
And …
God won’t place you where you can’t bless others…
Regardless of … and, let’s face it …sometimes, because of … the weather.

Blessings to you, and your family,

Richard. Vincent. Rose.
Modern-Day Psalms

Email Classics: “I Said A Prayer For You Today”

I Said A Prayer For You Today

I said a prayer for you today
And I know God must have heard
I felt the answer in my heart
Although He spoke no word.

I didn’t ask for wealth or fame
(I knew you wouldn’t mind)
I asked him to send treasures
Of a far more lasting kind!

I asked that He’d be near you
At the start of each new day
To grant you health and blessings
And friends to share your way.

I asked for happiness for you
In all things great and small,
But it was for His loving care
I prayed the most of all.

From Thanksgiving 1861-Today: “The Vacant Chair”

Recently, to honor our Veterans, we shared the commercial entitled “The Empty Chair.”
I mentioned that there was a famous song from the Civil War which had the same name, and I would try to find the words for you. The classic Civil War poem and song was actually called “The Vacant Chair.” Here’s some information about the poem, and the song, which would eventually follow.

“The Vacant Chair” is a sentimental favorite from the Civil War, and it became not just popular, but immensely popular in both the North and the South, although there were different lyrics used by Union and Confederate troops. The message continues to be universal, focusing on the terrible losses of war at the most private and intimate level-the family gathered around the dinner table. In this particular case, the family was gathered around the Thanksgiving table, in November, 1861 … included at the table was a “vacant chair.”

“The Vacant Chair” was written to commemorate the death of John William Grout (1843–1861), a Union soldier from Worcester, Massachusetts, and an 1859 graduate of Phillips Academy in Andover. Mr. Grout, known as “Willie,” was a very popular local son, who served with the Union’s 15th Massachusetts as a Second Lieutenant, and was killed at age eighteen at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, in October, 1861. Lt. Grout’s body was recovered from the Potomac River on November 5, 1861, after being washed 35 miles back to Washington, D.C. His remains were identified by the name written on his clothing. “The Battle of Ball’s Bluff” was a devastating battle for the families of the Worcester area. There were almost 500 killed, wounded or captured from the 15th Massachusetts regiment.

“The Vacant Chair” was written by Henry S. Washburn. Mr. Washburn was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on June 10, 1813, He spent his boyhood at Kingston, Massachusetts, and was educated at Worcester and Brown University. Later, he was a manufacturer at Worcester and Boston. Beginning in 1875, he was the President of the Union Mutual Life Insurance Co.,
and was very active in public affairs, where he held many prominent posts. He also wrote many hymns and songs, perhaps the most known hymn being “Let Every Heart Rejoice and Sing,” which was considered a “National Hymn.”

The melody for the poem “The Vacant Chair” was written in 1862 by George F. Root (1820-1895), who was a famous composer, and also known for other Civil War songs such as “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” “Just Before the Battle Mother,” and Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!”

Here now are the words to “The Vacant Chair.” Please keep in mind that many of the words were changed over the years, but this is as close to the original as I could find. The poem first appeared in the Worcester Spy around Thanksgiving 1861:

The Vacant Chair
We shall meet but we shall miss him.
There will be one vacant chair.
We shall linger to caress him,
While we breathe our ev’ning prayer.
When a year ago we gathered,
Joy was in his mild blue eye.
But a golden cord is severed.
And our hopes in ruin lie.

We shall meet, but we shall miss him.
There will be one vacant chair.
We shall linger to caress him,
While we breathe our ev’ning prayer.

At our fireside, sad and lonely,
Often will the bosom swell,
At remembrance of the story,
How our noble Willie fell.
How he strove to bear our banner,
Thro’ the thickest of the fight,
And uphold our country’s honor
In the strength of manhood’s might.

True they tell us wreaths of glory,
Evermore will deck his brow,
But this soothes the anguish only,
Sweeping o’er our heartstrings now.
Sleep today o’ early fallen,
In thy green and narrow bed.
Dirges from the pine and cypress
Mingle with the tears we shed.
Henry S. Washburn

I found this from the Massachusetts Historical Society:
Mass Historical Society-Words to The Vacant ChairI wanted to include a video of the song being performed, as well.
There were many I found, some dating back to the early 1900’s.
However, I’ve shared this one, from more recent time, featuring Kathy Mattea.
Please enjoy … and think about … “The Vacant Chair”

Thoughts on Snow

Well, we just got our first major snowfall of the season here, and, as we only got just under a foot of snow, how can we complain, after what our friends over in upstate New York have been going through.

Yet again, I am reminded of how important it is to thank God-every day-for our everyday “conveniences” … how I pray not to ever take for granted, and to thank God, personally, every day for electricity, running water (and hot water!), for heat, for shelter from the weather, for our vehicles (including my bicycle), for having a stove and refrigerator … etc. etc. …

 God has a way of reminding us just how blessed we are … and, if I may use the term “unfortunately,” it is usually when we realize or see, someone who has it “worse off” than us. That’s why I make a point every day to thank him for what we so often take for granted … I already know how blessed I am, and most importantly, Who those blessings come from. I want Him to know I am grateful … not just for what He has already done … but, for what I know He is going to do.

 We have been blessed up here in the North Country, having enjoyed a really nice, and extended, Fall season. I have had friends from upstate New York, and I remember them explaining to me, back when I was in Georgia, and had no clue what real Winter was, how they only had a certain number of weekends in the year when they could enjoy being outdoors, when they had “good” weather. I remember that it wasn’t too many weekends. They would tell me how they would have to cram every outdoor activity they wanted to do, into these weekends. That’s why they would “go nuts” for a few weekends every year, swimming, hiking, boating, just being outside in “shirt sleeves” for these very few, numbered days. God bless them! I have a small idea of what it’s like to be stuck in “Winter-mode” while I know most of the country is enjoying nice weather … but, that’s just part of it. Our Winters up here are long, and hard, and long, and hard, and long, and … well, you get the idea …

Robert Frost used to say that when the snow covers the ground, for the first time in New Hampshire, you don’t see the ground again until May. He’s right. By the way … what a great name for a writer living in New Hampshire! Just thought about that. I remember one of my favorite quotes from Helen Keller, how she has met some people who were colder than any Nor’easter she had ever experienced. That doesn’t really fit into this subject, but it did allow me to mention Helen Keller and a Nor’easter …

So, anyway, at school on Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, as we were at the door awaiting the arrival of Kindergarteners, we were discussing snow. One of the things I was the most surprised about, after moving to northern New Hampshire, was how so many people who live up here hate the cold … and, hate the snow. I’m sure that’s the same way everywhere. We never seem to be happy, so matter where we are. I guess that’s another subject for another time, too …

Anyway, there are also many folks up here who love the Winter, and love the snow that comes with it. In fact, they are thrilled when the forecast calls for that first major storm. Thrilled! I guess it does take all kinds … anyway … we were talking about snow, and how “white” it is. I mean, there is just nothing that is whiter than snow. It is so pure … so white … so beautiful (the first time it falls … then, “ok that’s enough … you can leave now” …). We were comparing our clothing to the color of snow. We had white shirts, but not as white as snow. We would point things out, around us, which were white, but, no, they weren’t “whiter than snow.” Or as white as snow.

So, later, as I plowed the snow for the first time this year, and, just today, as I raked the roof … yes, up here we have to rake the roof … What do you mean, “How do we do that?” With a roof rake, of course! Hey-I just got a new pair of Winter boots … good to -40 Celsius! I’m not sure how cold that is, but I’m sure I’ll need them. The old snow boots just won’t take duct tape anymore … So, as I was “enjoying” all this Winter activity, I really started to wonder, “Just why is the snow so white?”

So, I did research: I found out a lot of scientific information to explain why snow is so white. It seems the real fact is that snow “appears” to be white. The explanation was pretty elaborate … I didn’t want a Degree … I just wanted to know why snow is so white …

The bottom-line reason that snow appears to be white is because, when you combine all of the colors in the spectrum together … you get “white.” Really? Yes. Here’s the scientific explanation (highly edited):
Snow is a whole bunch of individual ice crystals arranged together. Basically, all the crystals bounce the light all around, so all colors of light are bounced back out. The “color” of all the frequencies in the visible spectrum combined in equal measure is white. So this is the color we see in snow. So even though individual ice crystals are clear, their combined form – which is snow – bounces off light frequency in such a way that the final result, as we see it, is “white snow.” By the way, individual snowflakes actually do appear clear when viewed up close (under a microscope).
Snowflakes are not frozen raindrops. They’re an aggregation, or cluster, of thousands of ice crystals that fall from a cloud.

I did get the opportunity to brag on God, about He is so brilliant, He is able to make every snowflake different … just as He has made all of us different. God uses what we would call “scientific methods” to do His work. I call this “scientific processes.” In teaching about healing, I use the fact that, since God invented the process, He can step in for a moment, stop or change the process (since He invented it), and put the normal process back to working again. Again, that explains why God can heal. He is the Creator of the process, so He can control it.

Now … back to snow … Why is it that “no two snowflakes are alike?” Is this true? I figure that God can make them anyway He chooses … and, if He chooses, He could make them all alike. Individual snowflakes all follow slightly different paths from the sky to the ground, and therefore encounter slightly different atmospheric conditions along the way. This, in turn, means that each snowflake will have a slightly different growth rate and shape. Because of this, it is very unlikely that any two snowflakes will appear to be identical. But while it’s unlikely, it isn’t impossible. There have been a few occasions when twin snowflakes were found. Since so many factors affect the structure of a snowflake, and since a snowflake’s structure is constantly changing in response to environmental conditions, it is improbable that anyone would see two identical snowflakes.

One more fact about snowflakes: An average snowflake measures 1/2 inch in diameter, but can grow as large as 3 to 4 inches across. The largest snowflake on record occurred in Fort Keogh, Montana in January of 1887: It was 15 inches in diameter! Can you imagine looking outside your window … and, see snow falling … with snowflakes 15 inches wide …

Well, that’s about it for the scientific part of our program …
In closing, there is one thing I have learned, which goes against what I had heard, before moving up here:
I have learned to never say, or believe, that “it’s too cold to snow.”
I also always capitalize the word “Winter.” I do this out of respect. It reminds me of times I have traveled along the Mississippi River. The people always speak of “the River” with awe and respect. You can just hear it in their voices. So, I have learned to speak of “Winter” with respect. And, to learn to respect it, as I have lived with it.

I guess I’ve getting really adapted to the weather up here. I mentioned that we just had our first “major” snow. This is true, but we’ve had snow on the ground for a while, just not a foot. So, this past week, I dragged the grill over to the center of our front deck/porch …. And, I cooked hamburgers, on the grill … on top of the snow …
Then, just yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, I was out on the porch … the sun was trying to shine brightly … there was no wind … and it was 30 degrees …. I felt like wearing a T-Shirt …

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
Modern-Day Psalms

Commercial Salute: Our Freedom and “The Empty Chair”

A friend, who is also Retired Military, sent me this video of a commercial presented by the Guinness Brewing Company. 

So many things to be thankful for … not just this week, not just for one day … but, for every day. To be thankful for our freedom, is to be thankful for, and to, our veterans. And, to those on active duty across the globe today. They don’t choose where or why they are sent … they just choose … beforehand … to go …

It seems so appropriate that the nationally recognized day of Thanksgiving comes during the same month of the nationally recognized day to honor and salute our Veterans. Thanks to our men and women who have served, and serve today, think of the freedoms we enjoy, and, please, never stop thinking about it, and the ones who make it possible to continue.

“God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.”
Daniel Webster
“No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.”
General Douglas MacArthur

I checked on the background of this commercial, and discovered it first aired for the July 4th holiday … However, I had never seen it, so it was brand new to me … and, perhaps, for some of you. Even so, I’ve watched it many times, and I still “feel” it. One of our principles is that, if something touches and moves me, it would touch and move someone else. This commercial is a great example.
Don’t worry … I really did have to think about sharing this one, based upon the source. But, I considered who and why it was sent to me … and most importantly … I considered what was being advertised here: Patriotism.
I don’t think we can thank our military, both active and retired, enough.

Perhaps the music used is familiar to you. In checking the story of the commercial, there were certain people who were angry with the choice.

As I stood in class this morning, at attention, listening (and following along) as a Second-Grader recited the Pledge of Allegiance, I admit I was thinking about this commercial and what it represented … and, as I always do … at the “under God” part, I added, “Thank you, Jesus.” So, I’m not offended by the choice of music in the commercial … I must say, in an add way, to be honest, I’m glad I recognized it. That was something else I am grateful for.

The title, “The Empty Chair,” is also the title of one of the most touching, and haunting, and heart-wrenching songs to come out of the Civil War.
I’ll try to find a performance, and the words, for you.

Please enjoy this salute to those we honor, this week, and every week:

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
Founder, President, and CEO
Freedom Unlimited Resources


An Evening in Mayberry (RFD)

It was a rare evening when I finished up business, and had a little time before I could sneak in and watch the “This Week in the NFL” show, which didn’t start until 9:00, so I turned the TV on to the channel which carries the old television shows. Since I don’t watch network television, except for sports, I am thankful we get a channel which features the old family shows.

I don’t watch network television, for the simple reason, “Have you seen network television?”
I know that sounds like an “all-inclusive” statement, which we’re not supposed to make. Pretty much the only exposure I get to network television is on the promos during commercial breaks during football games, and that’s enough to turn me away. I’m sure there may be some “good” shows out there, being made today, but they must not advertise them.

Anyway, the show that was on this particular evening was “Mayberry RFD.” They play two episodes, back-to-back, and I joined the first show half-way in. The story was centered on the town raising money to replace the church bell. So, scenes inside the church were part of the show. One of the final scenes showed the congregation (with all the cast in attendance) singing a hymn … a song which included the name “Jesus” … on television, a network show featuring the entire cast singing a song in praise of Jesus … A popular show at the time, I might add … and, still popular today … Did I mention the plot was centered on the importance of a church to our community … and the entire cast was seen, in church, singing a song in praise of Jesus? This show, “The Church Bell,” first aired 3-24-69.

It was like I was transported back in time, to a place and time far, far away … and, long, long ago …
I thought about how things have changed, and, perhaps, just maybe, how the shows of that time reflected our society … Does this mean that the shows on TV today reflect our society?

Anyway … back to Mayberry RFD … I thought, “That’s nice,” but, maybe this was just a rare show in the series … I sat in my chair and watched the second episode begin …
This show was about a city in Mexico, Porto Bello, which was to be a “sister-city” to Mayberry. So, the town of Mayberry had to come up with a special welcome gift to give the visiting delegation from Porto Bello. Aunt Bee (Yes!!! Aunt Bee!!!) had crafted a hand-stitched, framed gift which said, “God Bless Porto Bello.” The show, “Sister Cities,” first aired 5-12-69.

I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed just watching a television program. Watching Ken Berry, Goober, Aunt Bee, Howard Sprague, and Emmett. We love Ken Berry … he just seems like such a nice guy … have admired his work for years, including shows like “F-Troop” and “Mama’s Family” … He was also a cast member of the “Dr. Kildare” show … Mr. Barry is now 81 years old …

All of us remember certain television shows from when we were growing up. For instance, I never forgot an episode of “The Waltons” which featured Ron Howard as a family friend who was diagnosed with leukemia … a show called “The Gift,” which I was able to purchase at Wal-Mart, and have seen many times … I also never forgot an episode of “Mayberry RFD” in which Goober was lost in a cave … what I remember most from that episode, which I hadn’t seen since it first aired on March 15, 1971, was Goober, alone and lost in the cave, and his lamp going out … In total darkness, here’s what we heard: “Now I lay me down to sleep …” It was the sound of Goober praying. Well, I got to watch that episode last week …

It suddenly strikes me now that, in Mayberry RFD, as far as I can remember, “Opie” did not make an appearance, but Andy did (more on this later) … yet, Ron Howard will be forever etched in my memory as another character other than “Opie,” and then … well, there was “Richie Cunningham” … (OK, so we love “Happy Days”, too!) …

All this has really gotten me thinking about the past, and as usual … how things have changed … Is it just me, or does it seem like every time we think about how things have changed … how things aren’t the way they used to be … how things are “different now” … Why is it that we are usually referring to the fact that things aren’t “as good” as they used to be … that things have changed-for the worse? Aren’t things “supposed to improve with time …?” Or, maybe that is just wine … which should give another, clear understanding of how we look at the past, and how, over time, things seem to work in reverse … not “move forward,” as we are led to believe.

Anyway, I got the chance to watch another episode of “Mayberry RFD” a couple of weeks later (remember that “This Week in the NFL” is a weekly show), and, guess what?
The episode featured the return of Andy Taylor to Mayberry … with his wife, Helen … and their new baby!!! You remember the show about the “Four Godfathers?” The plot was that Andy and Helen came back to Mayberry … in order to go to church … in order to christen their new baby …

I am not making this up: Each time I was exposed to this classic television program, it seemed that the plot, the theme of the episode, revolved around church, and the importance of “church” to the community. Just so you’ll know, I haven’t watched it since, but, just from the few episodes, at random, I watched, it made me think about many things:

First, allow me to offer this: I get tired of people who will speak of those old family shows, and say things like, “That’s just fake,” or “That’s just made up,” or, “That’s not the way it really was.”
As I ponder these opinions, I think that it may have more to do with “That’s not the way it is now,” or, sadly, “That’s not the way it was at my house. That’s not the way it was for me.”

Yes, I realize that it was not “that way” for many families back then … and, now. However, the reason I was called to write this was because that was “the way it was” in my family, for families I knew when I was growing up … we were raised with morals, and family values, and the shows we watched echoed, or, more importantly, cemented that. When we watched these “family shows,” … ready for this … we watched them as a family … We didn’t think these families were strange or made up, because the values the shows sought to teach us were already a part of our upbringing … the fact that “church” was a large part of our lives did not seem strange to us … because “church” was a large part of our lives. The morals and family values which those shows represented were already a part of our lives, so, seeing this “played out” on the television screen was not something we thought of as “different” or “fake” or “made up.” Church and morals and values were part of our very existence, our everyday life. Period. We loved the shows because it mirrored what we lived … what we believed … and … ready for this … what we were taught at home …

When “Olivia Walton” (Mama) ran off to be alone, in a room by herself, and opened the Bible, read a passage, and, in agony, cried out … it wasn’t “fake” or “strange” to us … because it was real to us … it was what happened in our home … in our lives … the portrayal on screen may have been from a time which was years and years ago, but, what she did … what she believed … what she acted out on screen … was “natural” to us … because, that’s what my Mama did … and, what a lot of other “Mamas” did … in real life. It wasn’t fiction to us: We loved these shows because it portrayed, in a theatrical sense, our home life. It really did. We “bought in” to these shows because, to us, they were real.
Do I really need to follow up that “real” sentence with a reference to “real” shows, or, I think they call them “reality shows” today?

Back when the show “Dallas” was popular (remember “Southfork?”), the show was number one in the world. This was at the beginning of when U.S. television, because of satellites, etc., became viewed world-wide. I remember reading that “Dallas” was the Number 1 television program in the entire world. And, that, people in these foreign countries, who had never been to the United States, based their opinion of the United States, and Americans in general, on what they saw on this particular television program.
Has this changed?
Do our “present” television programs reflect our present society?
Do our “present” television programs reflect our present society do the world?
How could they not?

Here goes: When I watched those, what are now, “old shows,” they were like watching family. Because, that’s what my family, and the values and morals they portrayed, lived and taught. That’s the way it was, in my family, and my community.
What about now? Do the television shows reflect the values, morals, and community in which I live?
Do people, around the world, “find out about” how we are, as a society, by our television shows?
If television reflects us, how does that reflection appear around the world?
If TV reflections our society …
Look at TV from years ago …
Look at TV now …
Look at how the United States was viewed (and revered) long ago …
Look at how the United States is viewed, around the world, now …

Shall we hope that the world doesn’t watch TV …?
Except for METV … ?

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
Modern-Day Psalms