May 20, 2009

The phrase that kept coming to mind was “showin’ tail,” which can be defined as either the southern pronunciation of that age old and established grammar school activity where every student brings a frog or a doll or a younger sibling to talk about; or the presumably accidental revelation of the anterior part of the anatomy.

This one’s liable to get Poor Richard into big trouble. It’s not just that I’m making fun of a customer (again), but this time it’s a church. Worse, it’s my church.  I’ve resisted writing this short entry for a couple of weeks now and I guess I could resist some more. Or, I could use Flip Wilson’s excuse, “The devil made me do it!”

The church that beautiful wife and I attend is a small town congregation. It is a friendly, loving group of folks for the most part, with the occasional unpresentable member Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 12. Like many small congregations, there are many folks there who “do church” on Sunday, a few who are really into church work, and some who really want to find out where God is working and join in.  It’s the last group that I’m probably going to be in the biggest trouble with, because what I’m writing about is their undertaking.

The undertaking is undeniably good.  It is Celebrate Recovery, which started as a ministry for those suffering with addictions at Saddleback Church. There has been a Celebrate Recovery program in Warner Robins, a larger city to the north of Perry where I live, but nothing in south Houston County, despite the fact that Perry is indeed the center of both the known and unknown universe.

Problem PostcardEnough rambling . . . after all, it should have been a simple enough task.  Poor Richard was asked to print and mail a postcard advertising the new ministry.  All well and good . . . at least until the art came in.  The photo of an obviously distressed woman weeping in front of a closed door was effective. It conveyed a message of desperation and would perhaps lead someone in that state to search for an answer beyond themselves.

But one aspect of the photo was just a bit distracting. The woman pictured is wearing a nightshirt and is sitting with her legs propped at an angle.  Technically speaking, she isn’t actually “showin’ tail,” but to continue in Southern vernacular, “she purty near is.”

I actually don’t know where the photo and concept came from. It’s possible that it could have been supplied by Saddleback Church as part of the promotional package for Celebrate Recovery.  If so, maybe the definition of “nearly nekkid” is different in Rancho Chimichanga, California or wherever it is that the megachurch is located. It is also possible that one of the ladies at our church found the photo and thought it appropriate.  Not having a depraved male mind, I suppose they could have missed the distracting part.

It really doesn’t matter much . . . Poor Richard’s never been much on printing photos of scantily clad women.  Not that we haven’t been asked. I’ve turned down a calendar job or two over the years and an exotic dancer once threatened to sue me for not printing postcards featuring her topless image.  (She really got angry when I told her that she looked better with her clothes on).  But I digress . . . this one just didn’t pass the propriety test, especially coming from my church.

I emailed the lady who had sent the art. “Approved by the pastor,” came the response.  Unfortunately, the pastor was out of town for a week and the postcard needed to hit the USPS before his return. I emailed a couple of respected leaders in the church. They agreed with me, but didn’t offer much in the way of suggestions.

Many of Poor Richard’s readers will understand that the way decisions are made in churches is unpredictable and occasionally unfathomable. Frequently, the cardinal rule of ecclesiastical decision-making is not to decide at all. So, after much prayer, some good advice and with godly wisdom and great courage; Poor Richard decided to sit on the project until the pastor returned.

What Poor Richard lacked  was only a bit of common sense. Fortuitously, the pastor brought some of that back with him from vacation.

“Put the church logo over her bottom,” was the essence of his short email response.

“Duh . . .” thought Poor Richard.

We did and the postcard was in the mail and not “showin’ tail.”



April 20, 2009

The masthead says Georgia Student Finance Commission, but the cheap copied letterhead bears the seal of the guvnah, Sonny Perdue.  I’ll cite the first two paragraphs verbatim:

The Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) is the agency responsible for administering the Governor’s Scholarship Program. We are writing to inform you that the State Budget Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010, recently passed by the General Assembly, does not include funds for the Governor’s Scholarship Program.

The lack of funding for the program means there will be no Governor’s Scholarship Program awards made for the 2009-2010 academic year.

If you’re curious, the Governor’s Scholarship awards are given to Star Students and Valedictorians in each public high school in the stage of Georgia. Second daughter, who was a Star Student at Perry High School a couple of years ago, has received around $900/year from this scholarship for the last two years.  Admittedly, losing this money will not put an end to her college career, but it is money that must now come from elsewhere.  These days, elsewhere can be a little hard to find.

Our federal government, operating in hopeful desparation, has saddled my daughter’s generation with a mountain of debt (see Poor Richard’s post A Modest Proposal ). It would seem that the least we could do is attempt to provide them with the wherewithal to pay their way out of it.  This, it seems, runs directly counter to the priorities of Guvnah Sonny and the dimwits in the Georgia Legislature, who are more concerned with getting Georgians to go fishing or arguing over a resolution in support of President Obama than they are with education of the generations to come.

It is tempting to go off on a tangent about public education’s lack of concern for the best and brightest students, those with the most observable potential to get our nation out of the mess that my generation of politicians has gotten us into.  The prima facie evidence indicates that dabbling into education by mediocre politicians and their mediocre bureaucratic appointees within the educational system has resulted in the dumbing down of a couple of generations of students.

Poor Richard submits that it’s one thing to do this accidentally (i.e. from stupidity, not malice), but quite another to do it intentionally. I would remind my Georgia readers that the same state officials  who unaward scholarships have mandated significant budget cuts to education ($1.5 billion from the K-12 system and more from the universities, according to Bill Shipp and the Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia), eliminated summer school for this year,  and even suggested that it might be a good idea to furlough teachers for a few days during the next school year to save money.

It’s a matter of priorities.  In the eyes of Georgia’s governor and legislature, stealth taxes on automobiles, indecision and endless argument about transportation, and questionable restructuring of the corporate tax code certainly trump education. Oh, and fishing . . . let’s not forget fishing (See the guvnah’s Press Release).



Daughter #1 will be graduating from Mercer in two short weeks.  Today we learned who the commencement speaker will be.  You guessed it . . . Guv’nah Sonny hisself.  Ironic, huh?  Isn’t life grand?

Who put out the Eternal Light of Knowledge?

March 12, 2007

This will be a short entry. Beautiful wife and I just returned from the National Honor Society Induction Ceremony at Perry High School (PHS). It was a suitably solemn ceremony. Honor cords and certificates were awarded to Seniors for their superb academic performance and nearly 50 students were indicted into the Society (not that I question their convictions).

The highlight was the lighting of the Eternal Light of Knowledge, a large candle that was fired up with Eternal matches or an infernal propane lighter or something similar. Three other candles representing Service, Leadership, and Character were then ignited from the Eternal Light of Knowledge.

The ceremony ended with a suitably decorous Pledge to the high minded ideals of the Society. Beautiful wife and I slipped outside to unload some boxes for the theatre department. When we returned, the three candles and the Eternal Light of Knowledge were gone, snuffed out and put away in a box.

Who put out the Eternal Light of Knowledge? Did they have permission?

Two Cops and a Ladder

December 30, 2006

The Blue and Red Lights were flashing in the neighbor’s driveway . . .

Police Lights

They were thinking that this was a real waste of time, and they were probably right. It was just an open door, after all. But why would the upstairs balcony door be open with the neighbors out of town?

One of the kids noticed the open door as we were coming back from dinner in Wonderful Robins. We parked the car, walked next door and checked out the situation. Downstairs doors were locked. Everything looked good through the windows.

The balcony is easily 10 feet off the ground. It wasn’t likely that even the most enterprising burglar could climb up there, ransack the house, and leave with all of the neighbor’s valuables. Still, I didn’t want to be the one to find out. And I wasn’t really very thrilled with the idea of climbing up a ladder to check the situation out in someone else’s house. Not my job. I called the cops.

We live in the small town of Perry, a few miles south of Macon, GA. Everybody knows everybody here (and their business) and the attitude of Perry’s finest usually reflects the friendliness of the community. That was only partially true this evening.

I was only a little surprised when the cruiser doors opened. All I could see as I approached the car were two heads in the front seat. The driver’s door opened and an attractive, smiling policewoman emerged. We walked toward the front of the house and I explained why I had called and pointed at the open door ten feet above. She nodded and we discussed the options. I offered to get a ladder and she nodded again.

I hadn’t heard a thing from the partner and I didn’t see her at all until I turned to head back to my house. At first I thought she was a bear, but then remembered that bears don’t live in Perry, GA. She was four feet away from me and I couldn’t tell you how she got there. I said something cordial, acknowledging her presence, and she responded with a noncommital grunt.

The ladder was propped up on the balcony with the help of the friendly police lady. We tested the stability and she climbed carefully up to the balcony. There was a rumbling sound behind me and I was barely able to step aside as the partner vaulted up the ladder, over the railing and into the open doorway. It was a thing to witness. The image evoked was definitely bearlike: muscular, strong, fast and a little menacing. She slammed the door after going inside.

Flashlight beams flashed through the curtains and venetian blinds as the partners explored the house. I waited for them outside, naturally curious about what they were seeing. When they emerged, I asked the communicative policewoman if everything was OK.

“Have you been in the house?” she responded. “Would you know if anything was out of place?”

I know the neighbors, but not well. My father-in-law visits with them regularly, but I’ve never been inside. “No.” I responded, as it occurred to me that something could be very wrong inside. I could sense the bear’s presence nearby.

She asked the question again. I repeated my answer. I told her that I had looked through the windows downstairs and checked the doors, but couldn’t see anything that looked amiss. I asked again if everything was alright. She loosened up a bit, stating that nothing appeared to be disturbed, then asked for my identification and how to get in touch. I was beginning to feel like I was part of a scene from Law and Order, and wondering if the partners thought that I was a bad guy.

The friendly police lady left me with a case number and her name. I didn’t get the partner’s name. Perhaps it was Ursula. The bear had vanished as silently as she had appeared. I saw her seated in the police cruiser as I carried the ladder back toward our house.

It was an odd encounter, a little disconcerting. There was certainly nothing unprofessional about the behavior of the two policewomen. Even the bear, as bizarre as her actions and demeanor seemed to me, did nothing that could be interpreted as out of bounds. Somehow, though, in an almost undefineable way, my worldview had been changed.