The Devil Made Me Do It!

Black History Month for 2021 ends today. I had been thinking about a comedian, Flip Wilson, who was the first African-American to host a successful ’70s-era variety show on television. Though he died in 1998, one of Wilson’s standard routines was built around the statement:  the devil made me do it! The 5-minute 1970 video (below) from the Ed Sullivan Show provides a taste of Wilson’s humor.

Since I am ignorant of most pop culture, I was unaware there’s also a rapper album titled The Devil Made Me Do It, plus other references (none I’m familiar with). My only point of reference is Flip Wilson’s skit from the 70s. But a recent Facebook post reminded me of Wilson’s skit. (If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the same post.)

Conversation between 2 devils

To the left is a screen capture (not the full FB post) but enough for it to be recognizable. The post emphasizes the similarities between our current age of fear (centered around Covid etc.) and the author’s suggestions on how to foment fear from “nearly 79 years ago.”

The original post credits C. S. Lewis (from his book The Screwtape Letters) as author. While this conversation between two devils does reflect a similar theme, there’s one problem. The words aren’t from The Screwtape Letters. Continue reading “The Devil Made Me Do It!”

Cruel Orthodoxy

Amid the clamor that followed the President’s Supreme Court nominee announcement, several individuals close to Judge Amy Coney Barrett provided a reasoned assessment of her character and temperament. She received high praise. Her acceptance speech reflected humility and respect for the seat she hopes to fill.

Photo by form PxHere

When I first heard her speak, I was impressed by her sincerity, especially as she talked about her beautiful family of nine (she and her husband and their 7 children). Her most heartwarming statement (in my humble opinion) was:  Our children are my greatest joy. Barrett likened her family to the nine justices who make up the Supreme Court.

Continue reading “Cruel Orthodoxy”

Locking Down Hope

“Every day has been as dark or darker than the previous one.” So says the opening paragraph of Jeffrey A. Tucker’s recent post on lockdowns. Tucker notes a host of concerns (some economic and others emotional) causing stress levels to rise beyond the breaking point. The oft-used catch-phrase “we’re all in this together” (an absurd bromide, if you ask me) seems woefully inadequate for individuals crushed by loneliness or economic disaster (or both). Aloneness tends to produce dark days with the potential to become darker.

Image by Queven from Pixabay

Search the internet and observe the number of pandemic-related stories highlighting dramatic increases of both drug overdose and suicide rates. The dismal details are distressing enough to turn one’s perfectly sunny day into clouds and rain! Continue reading “Locking Down Hope”

A Peculiar Crossroads

Almost a decade ago, I launched this blog. The nameplate has changed slightly but my general high regard for Flannery O’Connor (from whom the blog name was admittedly plucked) hasn’t diminished. I don’t recall our first meeting (in the pages of a book), but my philosophy as a young writer was partly formed thanks to her insights.

Her book Mystery and Manners set in motion my lifelong interest. I borrowed the book from the library. We were casual acquaintances then. By the due-date, I realized I couldn’t relinquish the book! In those pre-Amazon days, I scrambled to find a hard copy to purchase but found none.

As a last resort, I located a photocopier and proceeded to copy over 200 pages, dime by dime. (The above photo shows that well-worn copy.) I omitted the first chapter (21 pages) which relates O’Connor’s tale “The King of the Birds.” It was an amusing story but not worth the extra buck. Continue reading “A Peculiar Crossroads”

One to Tell the Tale

Beginning in the Fall of 2014, I commenced a serious personal study of The Book of Job. This ancient biblical account relates the gripping story of Job. Today, we’d say he was highly-privileged and experienced the perks of life few of his contemporaries may have enjoyed.

The book begins with an unremarkable statement: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job.” The next sentence tells us Job was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” But within just a couple paragraphs, the situation turns bad — really bad — for Job.

Thus begins an ages-old dialogue probing the goodness (or monstrous cruelty) of Almighty God. The question begs to be answered: why must a righteous man endure suffering? If a man is indeed “blameless, upright and God-fearing” (as the narrative proclaims Job was), then doesn’t he have every right to be exempt from humanity’s pain and affliction?

Continue reading “One to Tell the Tale”

The Road to Ruthe’s

My ninety-one year old mother lives about six hours away. Given her disabilities (she’s nearly blind and doesn’t hear well), she no longer drives – which means in order to spend time with her, I must first travel to her home. On those occasions when my Beloved makes the journey with me, the distance is the same but traveling together makes the trip both sweeter and (seemingly) shorter. Time alone on the road is generally more tedious.

During my last couple trips though, I’ve been accompanied by three young fellows (unbeknownst to my Beloved). These guys couldn’t be more chatty and when we travel together, I’m certain to be entertained as well as challenged to consider the world from a different point of view.

Continue reading “The Road to Ruthe’s”

Random Vicissitudes

Most people understand – at least in a theoretical sense – how quickly life can change. In the two months since I last posted, the silence hasn’t come about due to a lack of blogging material. No, no, no. Furthermore, every single day without a post brought a deeper sense of unease … the pattern of my life seeming slightly upended! Red-Pencil

But the respite from my daily pattern was necessary and welcome … necessary because life demanded I attend other matters and welcome because it freed me (somewhat) from my irrational obsession to slavishly maintain daily posts – no matter what! With each day that passed, my figurative pencil grew more insistent and red-faced. Much to my surprise, people continued to drop by and read previous posts. (I am gratefully humbled by your interest.) Continue reading “Random Vicissitudes”

The Man From Uz

We’ve reached the last verses of the final chapter of The Book of Job. Through poetry and prose, readers have witnessed Job’s catastrophic losses and torments. We’ve also heard from Job’s comforters, offering their point of view on why Job deserved to suffer.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

The book is divided into 42 chapters. In October 2014, I first posted about my plan to compose (and post) a sonnet for each chapter. In early posts, I pared my compositions in order to condense each chapter’s narrative into the sonnet format of fourteen lines. Continue reading “The Man From Uz”

Forgiving The Comforters

As The Book of Job opens, the reader occupies a ring-side seat within earshot of a heavenly discussion between the Creator and one of His created beings, the deceiver Satan. This introductory conversation centers on a man whom God describes as “my servant Job.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

As the conversation between God and Satan progresses (through the first two chapters of Job), the account is told via prose. Starting in chapter three, however, the events of Job’s life (and suffering) are related through poetry. This epic poem carries us all the way through chapter forty-two, verse six … after which the narrative reverts once again to prose. Continue reading “Forgiving The Comforters”

Job’s Confession

Job’s days eventually came to an end. Chapter 42 in The Book of Job presents Job’s confession and a concluding narrative of Job’s latter days in seventeen compact verses.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

Seventeen verses … hardly enough to offer the level of detail one might appreciate. We want to believe life is consequential, and I think there’s no argument Job’s life was consequential but seventeen verses seem an inadequate summary.  Continue reading “Job’s Confession”