Little Life, Go Quickly

angus calf

And here is the hour when all my strength fails, and the dread and distaste for tomorrow, when I return to slavery, finally overtakes me.


I did not leave my house all weekend, and I feel all the better for it. From the time when I turned off the key on Friday evening until this very moment, I have not walked nor driven beyond the boundary lines of my property.


A wolf lifted its eerie voice in the woods Thursday night. Saturday morning, walking among the trees and vines in the mist, looking at how all living things are budding out and making themselves vulnerable to the killing frost that will surely come in a week or two, I found the ravaged body of a little calf. He had either slipped through the barbed wire fence into my woods, or else the wolf had dragged him there. I looked at his little hooves, so perfect and dainty, and at his little tail with its black tuft on the end, a tail that will never swat the flies of summertime. It’s a difficult thing to look upon the brutal but correct out-working of nature’s ways. The calf had been alive– he wandered away from his mama, who likely bawls for him even now under the slice of moon –, and in an unguarded instant, he looked up and saw the merciless eyes, eyes like lamps in the dark wood, and then the lean gray shape leaped at him, and he was no longer alive. The wolf needed to eat– who can say when he had his last meal? — and what he did was not done, unlike the acts of those whom I know and deal with daily, from evil or malice or cruelty. He needed to eat, and he took his food, just as I do when I open the refrigerator or unscrew the lid of a jar or hand green paper slips to a woman leaning out of a little window as she hands me a sack and a cup.


And now he was gone except for his fragments. I stood under the mellow tapping of the rain on my hat and the shoulders of my old jacket, and looked at what remained. I knelt and took up his jawbones, picked clean, and held them in my hand, and I marveled at the teeth, firm in the white sickle, teeth that will never chew the emerald stalks that push up even now through the cold mud of the pasture in which he was born. I held and rubbed the bones, and then I took them to the base of the dogwood tree a few yards away, and placed them on the ground beneath the tree that will soon bloom its symbolic Easter flowers, and I left the woods, walking down the hill, through the pasture where life is trying to come forth before its time, and went into my house. Except to fill the bird feeders and feed the battered old cat who strolls in and out of my life, I did not leave these walls again, and will not until tomorrow morning forces me to.

~ Kirk


Just As He Was


When I received the news today of Billy Graham’s death, my mind returned to my childhood, as it does more and more frequently these days

It seemed that every summer when I was visiting my grandmother, there just happened to be a Billy Graham Crusade on television during that visit. Those are happy memories…my grandmother, whose prohibition against ANY eating in the living room was enforced with a fearsome consistency, would cook supper on nights when the crusade would be broadcast and serve it on aluminum tv trays in front of the massive console tv.  We would watch and eat and let the supper dishes sit while we enjoyed the entire broadcast from opening prayer to closing hymn.

It’s difficult to be objective about one’s self, but I don’t remember being anywhere near as cynical and jaded as today’s children, and I don’t remember ever rolling my eyes or feeling tortured during the hour-long broadcast. I actually enjoyed the sermon, and George Beverly Shea’s rich singing voice made the preparatory minutes quite lively. During those years I was just coming into my interest in the American War Between the States, and I was mesmerized by Reverend Graham’s riveting blue eyes and shock of thick, undulating hair, set off by his distinctive rebel accent. I imagined him with those long fingers wrapped around a musket, his cheeks hidden by an unkempt beard as he trudged along in a column behind the Stonewall Brigade.

I remember talking to a good friend of mine at a funeral some time ago, and he told me that he had “accepted Christ” and “gotten saved” numerous times over the years during these summertime televised crusades. I would wager that there are legions of baby boomers who could make similar confessions.

I also remember being at a social gathering a couple of decades ago and being introduced to a young economics professor, a man to whom I took an intense and immediate dislike. For one thing, he had one of those slack, insipid Lindsay Graham faces that just begs to be shoved into a toilet. And held there for, oh, a half-hour or so, until the bubbles and the struggles stop. Anyway, this pallid young professor and his singularly unpleasant young wife (whose sour and pinched face, I must say, looked like a rectum with eyeglasses) latched onto me and bored me for several minutes with their clinch-jawed, high-toned way of speaking.

At some point in the chat, a mutual friend joined our group and mentioned that the young economics professor was soon to become a presbyterian elder. I smelled blood and decided to jab the professor a bit. I said, “It’s my understanding that your denomination considers Arminianism [the standard Baptist soteriology] to be a ‘serious heresy.’ Would you say that you distance yourself from people like Billy Graham, who is of course the most famous Arminian alive?”

Erudite fellow that he was, the young professor saw the trap into which I was trying to lead him, and he gave me one of the most serpentine responses I had heard up to that point in my life. He talked for a good ten minutes, and to this day, I still have no blasted idea what he actually ended up saying.

Anyway, all that to say that I learned early on that certain sects of Protestantism loooooooove to argue theology. Not discuss. Argue. And these sects loved to hate on Reverend Graham, because he was never ____________enough for them. Fill in your own mental blank.

In the vast scheme of this whirling life, I imagine that all of the argumentative nancyboys in churchianity’s greasy halls put together wouldn’t equal one-millionth of the good deeds done by Graham or the good will he inspired in people with his gentle, folksy manner.

Plus, he apparently agreed with President Nixon that the Jews were less than stellar creatures, so there’s that.

So when I heard of Reverend Graham’s death, not too shy of 100 years old, I honestly felt a lump in my throat. A sizable tree in the forest of my life had fallen, and I felt diminished.

I guess Vox Day summed it up best. He noted, “Now, I can’t prove that is what happened with science, but all I can say with absolute certainty is that whatever it is that made Billy Graham such an astonishingly powerful preacher of the Gospel, it wasn’t his eloquence, his rhetoric, or his logic. But he was a true servant of God and follower of Jesus Christ. May his reward be great indeed. “

Agreed, Vox. May Reverend Graham’s reward be great indeed. My intuition tells me that he’s already begun his celebration.

~ Kirk

So Sure Unsure

Question Mark

Something I’ve noticed about churchyxtians, especially the pastors. If you ask them, “Are you at least willing to concede that you might possibly be wrong about some of your beliefs or doctrines?” they will usually — and grudgingly — say “Yes.”

But then if you say, “Okay, name one or two doctrines that you might possibly hold in error,” you will receive a blank look and either a stammering nowheresville response, or simply a termination of the conversation.

Like so many other areas of churchianity, this is one in which one must pay attention to what a person does, not what he says. Because the good pew-parker will almost always claim certain respectable and safe positions while demonstrating that he doesn’t really believe them. “Yes, I could possibly be wrong about some things (but I know I’m not). Yes, I do believe all the races are exactly equal except for skin coloring (but I live in a white neighborhood and would have a nervous breakdown if forced to live among the vibrant peoples I’m always droning about when other churchians are present).

So if you still attend church, why not this Sunday approach the pastor or one of the officers and ask him, “Are you at least willing to concede that you might possibly be wrong about some of your beliefs or doctrines?” And be sure to follow up with, “Okay, name one or two doctrines that you might possibly hold in error,” I’d love to hear a description of his response.

~ Kirk