An O. Henry…Fan

The sun is shinning brightly and the temperature is a pleasant 63 degrees. Two, happy, fishermen are on the pond with a little oar. They are laughing uproariously and I think that is because of the little oar. I have not seen a boat on our pond since my neighbors, Larry and Vickie, got in their paddle boat and paddled around the body of water over ten years ago. We had a lovely church service this morning and many of my fellow congregants reflected on what Earth Day meant to them. One of the members had a great slide show of some beautiful places on our third rock from the sun.

Often may readers response to my scribbles reminds me of the Literature Analysis class that I was enrolled in during the 1980’s. Of course the class involves the students reading a piece of writing and then breaking it down to explain what the author meant. I found that it was not an exact science. My first paper was applauded by the professor and read to the class, anonymously, to illustrate good analysis. I received an A grade and felt pretty good about my analytical abilities… That was the first and last A grade that I received in the class…and instead I progressively declined in grades on my papers. What I had seen so clearly on the first analysis…evaded me on all of the rest of the course study. At the conclusion of the semester the professor told me that he had never experienced a student who demonstrated in the first paper of the class that he understood all that the class was designed to teach…but that I had. He went on to say that although it seemed somewhat unorthodox to give me an A for the semester, it was the right grade due to my first attempt…and that he was perplexed as to my slow decline for the rest of the study.

O. Henry was known for his surprise endings. His works include the Gift of the Magi and Ransom for Red Chief. Many of my writings are patterned after Mr. Henry in that I strive for the surprise ending. Also, the theme of many of my blogs may not be evident until the latter portion of the document. I enjoy writing from personal experience but endeavor to correlate the experience with larger global themes.

I often speak of nature, which is a subject that I could write all day regarding, and yet my critical point is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A person can live in the most lovely natural surroundings and yet be bitter and afraid and depressed. Happiness comes from within. I am amazed at how much beauty that I see…when I am in the mood to receive it. I am equally amazed at how much awe inspiring Earth events that I miss when my heart is not right… I was watching a Danish film last night that is in contention for an Academy Award, entitled, Another Round, where a group of teachers decide that they are going to follow the advise of a study that illustrates that 0.5 alcohol blood alcohol content is the natural state of humans that should be striven to achieve for maximum career and social success. The insidious results seem, at first to be working, until the group ups their drinking…with comical results. I reflected that our society teaches us that perhaps we need that extra supplement of drug or drink to excel in our profession or social interactions.

Good writing makes the reader think. It should not be easily decipherable. It should not be in the network television shows practice of scene changes every minute or less. It should not be in the mindless approach of reality TV. Not so long ago the purpose of education and higher education was to make a better member of the human family. The goal was not to tell the student what to think but to teach them how to think. Einstein did not come from the conventional classroom. Dr. Martin Luther King showed us the way of nonviolent protest…he demonstrated to us a new and better way. Good writing enriches the mind with questions that do not have easy answers. Good writing brings peace to the troubled…and trouble to the complacent.

The Bible is an outstanding piece of literature. It speaks to us in allegory and inference and parable and the most heightened form of writing…story. Story has caused us to go to war…and story had brought us peace. President John F. Kennedy told us a story of going to the moon…and we did. Martin Luther nailed 95 thesis to the door of the church and thus began the Protestant reformation. We read the story of the baby Jesus…wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger…because there was no room for him in the Inn…and millions and billions of people have followed him until this day…

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