Archive for October, 2017

A Baker’s Dozen Examples of The Wit and Wisdom of Friends and Others

Monday, October 16th, 2017

1) On food: A chef I knew in Maryland who said of reading nutrition labels: “If it shows more than 10 grams of sugar, it’s not healthy.”

2) On God: My first philosophy professor in a lecture on Christian apologetics: “God has no need of any defense from us.”

3) On war: A young enlisted airman assigned as an editor at Pacific Stars & Stripes in Tokyo when I asked him why he chose to join the Air Force: “Because we’re the only ones who get it right; we send the officers out to do the fighting.”

4) On poetry: A Massachusetts community college colleague who taught philosophy and assigned his students readings from a poetry anthology: “I want my students to learn how to think, and I believe poetry is the best teacher for that.”

5) On surgery: Another colleague at that Massachusetts school who had experienced several surgeries on his back and said when he heard me describe my scheduled operation as routine: “When surgery is performed on your body, it’s never routine.”

6) On theology: A youth leader in Pittsburgh who taught the teenagers to whom he ministered that the incarnation of Jesus could be thought of as “God in the meat” and expressed the sovereignty of God in all experiences of life with the phrase, “No matter what, God is always in charge.”

7) On words: Another friend in Pittsburgh who later became an Episcopal priest shared that he had determined after much reflection that the most critical word in the English language is grace.

8) On poverty: A wise Presbyterian minister and missionary who said: “If you want to know the heart of a politician, pay attention to what he (or she) says and does about the poor.”

9) On play and character: A basketball coach in Massachusetts who told his players: “If you have to foul deliberately or seek to hurt another player, you are admitting your opponent is a better player and a better person than you.”

10) On life: The opening line of The Purpose-Driven Life by the Rev. Rick Warren: “It’s not about you!”

11) On money: My mother (despite her wrongly suggesting the maxim came from the Bible rather than from Shakespeare), who urged her children: “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

12) On Jesus: The 30th verse in chapter three of the gospel attributed to St. John (NRSV) concerning John the Baptist’s  joy at recognizing Jesus as the Messiah: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

13) On Music: Country music legend Hank Williams said it in one of his gospel songs: “When I get to glory, I’m gonna’ sing, sing, sing.”

(And, yes, despite tales of his legendary degradations, I expect to sing with Hank in heaven because God is merciful and forgiving, and I think The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and author of Songs My Grandma Sang, will heartily join us; as will the World War II German pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who loved above all else during his brief sojourn in New York City the singing at a church he visited in Harlem; and so, too, will my mother, who enthusiastically welcomed monthly “Singspiration” services at our Baptist church in Brooklyn.)

Random Acts of Poetry Day–October 2017

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

On October 4, we celebrate Random Acts of Poetry Day.

Poets everywhere will write poems on sidewalks, blackboards, and whiteboards. They will pin poems on bulletin boards wherever they are found; and perhaps will distribute copies of poems in parks and on streets, buses, trains, and subways; and in restaurants, libraries, airports, shops, hotel lobbies, or any place encouraging public advertisements.

I offer four poems to random electronic readers to celebrate the day. Only one of the four I’ve selected is mine. The others are favorites, some of which I’ve mentioned in this blog earlier.

  • Simple Simon by Eve Merriam a

Simple Simon

Met a high man

In the government.


Said Simple Simon

To the high man,

“How are the taxes spent?”


“Billions,” said the high man

“For an antimissile system

That’s bound

To be obsolete

Before it ever

Gets off the ground.”


“But that’s ridiculous!”

Said Simple Simon

“If people knew

They’d make a fuss.”


“True,” said the high man.

“And when you take into account

That for just about half that amount

Everybody could have a decent job

And a house in a decent neighborhood.”


“Fantastic,” said Simple Simon.

“I don’t believe it.”


Said the high man,


                  a) from The Inner City Mother Goose. 3rd Edition. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996, p. 15.


  • My Brother’s Shirt, by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.b

It is mine now,

one stiff Army shirt,

THOMPSON printed

on the pocket.

United States Army

sends something home;

gives part of you back.

The part that cannot

breathe, or speak

or tease me


                    b) From America at War. Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Children’s Books, 2008, p.67.


  • “Racer” by Allan Roy Andrews c

Slender, thinner than one ought,

Her thighs taut, her back sloped

To drive body-force into revolutions,

She conquers nature, a captain

At the helm, married to the wind

And snarling at her upstream cruise.

A jogger on jagged steel;

A devotee to the derailleur; a lover

Lashed to drooping handlebars,

She gloats in unstopped speed,

And the sprocketed ticking

Of her spoked feet rises and fades,

A hissing siren kissing asphalt,

Luring my legs to her ways.

                    c) Originally published in Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature Vol. X, No. 2, Spring, 1993, page 60. Accessed at


  • i thank You God for most this amazing by e. e. cummings d

i thank You God for most this amazing

day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything

which is natural which is infinite which is yes


(i who have died am alive again today,

and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth

day of life and of love and wings and of the gay

great happening illimitably earth)


how should tasting touching hearing seeing

breathing any—lifted from the no

of all nothing—human merely being

doubt unimaginable You?


(now the ears of my ears awake and

now the eyes of my eyes are opened.)

                    d) From 100 Selected Poems by e. e. cummings. New York: Grove Press First Evergreen Edition, 1959, Poem 95, page 114.