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

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.) http://wp.me/p86oI1-3K

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