The Jackson Herald
October 29, 2003
What is our motive?
Contrary to what you may think, I am not against posting The Ten Commandments on the walls of government buildings. Its all right with me if every private commercial establishment displays them. Why not nail them to the telephone and light poles? Paint them on the walls above urinals in mens restrooms? They are considerably better than some of the graffiti you see there.
In a little while Im going to tell you what else we ought to put up on our walls.
But first, I want to tell you that I was not trying to be nasty, hypocritical or sacrilegious two weeks ago when I suggested we pass a test before getting involved in the argument over The Ten Commandments. Im not trying to be that way now. Believe me.
Regardless of how you feel about this issue, the debate is responsible for some positive results. A lot of people are thinking about The Ten Commandments for the first time in their lives. Reminds me of the Emory University professor who announced years ago ( I think it was in the 1950s) that God is dead. People who didnt know there was a God, who had never prayed to Him and had never heard from Him, got caught up in the argument. Miraculously and suddenly, they discovered that God was (and is) alive and well.
Now people are aware that there really are Ten Commandments, and every time they enter a public building they start looking for them. That is good.
May I suggest that there may be a better place to look. You wont even have to leave home. Im betting that 90-95 percent of you own or have access to a book that features these rules to live by. It is called the Bible. It is around there somewhere. Go find it, dust it off, and turn to Exodus, Chapter 20. There you will find Gods Ten Commandments, plus several others that He told his spokesman, Moses, to pass on to the people of Israel.
But dont stop reading at the end of Chapter 20. Check out 21, 22 and 23. There are umpteen laws in those three chapters. There are laws concerning people, laws about property, general laws, and instructions regarding enemies. Here are a few samples from The Life Application Bible (Living Bible Version).
I apologize to those of you who think I would be quoting from The Real Bible (King James Version), but some of us have trouble understanding even simple declarative sentences.
21:15 - Anyone who strikes his father or mother shall surely be put death. (Watch it, kids!)
22:5 - If someone deliberately lets his animal loose and it gets into another mans vineyard; or if he turns it into another mans field to graze, he must pay for all damages by giving the owner of the field or vineyard an equal amount of the best of his own crop. (Substitute garden for field or vineyard, and the folks who used to let their dogs run loose on Westmoreland Drive owe me a fortune. Hey commissioners, lets get on with animal control!)
22:16 - If a man seduces a girl who is not engage to anyone, and sleeps with her, he must pay the usual dowry and accept her as his wife. (This sure would cut down on the number of out-of-marriage (illegitimate) births, wouldnt it?)
22:21 - You must not oppress a stranger in any way..... (Maybe we should rethink how we treat immigrants, be they legal or illegal.)
23:1 - Do not pass along untrue reports. (Oh, oh, there goes gossiping.)
23:7 - Keep far away from falsely charging anyone with evil; never let an innocent person be put to death. (Maybe we should rethink capital punishment, too.)
Something used to brother me about all of these laws. If we are supposed to obey The Ten Commandments in Chapter 20, why arent we supposed to obey all of the ones that follow in Chapters 21, 22 and 23?
A trusted friend (my spiritual mentor) informed me that The Ten Commandments are from God, and that man came up with all that other stuff. (Perhaps I should ask forgiveness for calling it stuff, but if it came from man, why bother?)
I wanted to argue with my mentor that the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God. If that is true, I guess God inspired men - in Biblical times and in the present time - to enact some weird laws. I my not be real smart, but I am smart enough not to argue with the man who knows a lot more about this subject than I do.
I should also be smart enough not to write about things religious, but frustrated preachers do stupid things sometimes.
Now, back to The Ten Commandments on walls of public buildings, on walls in private commercial establishments, one telephone and light poles, and above urinals in mens restrooms. May I suggest we enlarge the display?
Lets add the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3 - 12) and the Lords Prayer (Matthew 6:9 - 14).
Finally, at the very top of the display - even above The Ten Commandments - lets place THE GREAT COMMANDMENT (Matthew 22:34 - 40; also found in Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:25-28).
The Great Commandment will not be posted in any government building, nor should it be. I would not put it there, because my motive would be suspect. And I confess: I may be writing this column for all the wrong reasons.
Im afraid our motive in displaying The Ten Commandments may be suspect, too. Are we doing it out of love and grace, or are we doing it to get back to ACLU and others who do not believe as we do?
Until love and grave take precedence over law, our trials and tribulations will continue. If the Word is not in our hearts, it is in the wrong place.
The frustrated preacher has spoken. Now he awaits your response.
Virgil Adams is a former editor-owner of The Jackson Herald.
Comments From The O-Zone
By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Jackson Herald
October 29, 2003
Dreading Halloween For Years
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, mainly because I like coming up with costumes. One year in Knoxville, I was the Sunsphere. Another year, I borrowed inspiration from Mel Brooks and was Hitler on Ice, with skates and a scarf. To say the least, that particular costume wasnt universally liked.
I remind myself of my love for Halloween, because I am fearful in a creepy, dreading, suspense-ridden sort of way, that for about the next 15 years, I will learn to despise Halloween as the holiday that lives up to its billing as the time when evil spirits swirl among us, spreading mayhem and discord, specifically between parents and their children who cant decide whether they want to be cowboys or football players or astronauts!
Let me explain. This past weekend, my terrible 2-year old had been invited to his cousin Nathans Halloween/birthday party. For approximately one month, Jack insisted that he wanted to be a cowboy for the occasion. Approximately one week and three days before the aforementioned party, an anonymous party we shall refer to as my life-way brought home a book about a Frog and his Halloween Costume Dilemma. Should he be a vampire named Count Frogula? Should he be a zombie? A football player? A cowboy?
Suddenly, Jack decided he wanted to be a football player, which with a week before the party was no big thing, except that he already had a cowboy hat and a horse, and we were at a loss to find anyone in Commerce with a spare football helmet.
Two days before the event, with nominal parental encouragement, he 180d, and reverted to cowboy. Ommy-may and I were relieved, especially since wed made no headway (read: put forth no effort) in procuring any components of a toddler-sized football uniform. Since this party was in Athens, our plan, brilliantly conceived by my etter-bay alf-hay, was to leave a little early and use the leftover balances on three ToysRUs gift cards to procure various cowboy accoutrements, which would theoretically complement Cowboy Jacks hat.
Saturday, the big day, seemed like a normal, cloudless October day as we pulled into the parking lot at ToysRUs. Little did we know that we were about to enter CowboysRntUs. Thats right, not a single cowboy related item in the whole store: no guns, no holsters, no pointy badges or fake-leather vests with tassels, not even a faux football helmet. We had less than half an hour to pick out a cheap new costume and convince the short and shorter-tempered blonde-haired outlaw that this cheap new costume was better than the cowboy costume wed lobbied for as the best there could possibly be.
Fireman? Jack loves firefighters. Nope. Policeman? Nope. Superman? Batman? Spiderman? Nope. And then, there it was, shining on the rack like something out of a dream. Jacks a nut for spaceships, and there was a NASA uniform hanging right there for a mere $20.
Jack, I said, Do you want to pretend that you fly a spaceship?
OK! he said, very excited and happy.
All relevant parties converged at the checkout lane, where Jack, referring to his freshly chosen costume, promptly declared, I dont want it! I dont want that!
We bought it anyway, and I spent the next 20 minutes helping him put the costume on in the lot at Not Enough ToysRUs. In front of all sorts of general public, he bawled as though I were removing an eye. He bawled tremendously in the car all the way to Nathans house, where he bounded out of the car and proceeded to have a great time. When we got home in time for a nap, he bawled when we took the costume off.
15 more years...
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.