Ponderings with Doug

May 8, 2015

When I do watch television, my selections are the fix up the house station or the old television shows station. The fix up the house station has cost me money. They will show an improvement made in a home in thirty minutes and I think, “I can do that.” What they didn’t show were all the mistakes that had to be fixed by real contractors and edited out of the show. The show’s hosts can remodel a bathroom in the length of the show. Projects involving plumbing are much more time consuming.

The old television show channel is appealing because I have seen all of the shows before. If the clock reads 11:20 p.m., Perry Mason is about to solve the murder mystery. Perry always drives the guilty party to confess at 11:23 p.m. I watch the episodes long enough to remember “who did this crime.” I also drive my bride crazy because there was one set used in multiple episodes for “rich people.” I’m always pointing out the “rich person’s” house set. There are characters that appear in every episode as spectators in the courtroom. They also appear in crowd scenes. I have not started pointing them out to her. I’m going to aggravate her by continuing to note the “rich person’s house” set.

Enough nostalgia, most of the commercials on the oldies stations have to do with drugs. Drug companies have rightly assumed that only the more mature folks watch these nostalgic television stations. We more mature people will grow even more mature because of the miracles of pharmaceuticals. The drug companies advertise heavily especially at night. I’m not sure what these new drugs do, but I do know about their side-effects. In truth, the articulation of side effects takes longer than the part of the ad touting the efficacy of the drug.

Ironically, the next most frequent kind of commercial at night is aimed at people who have taken certain drugs. These are ads by law firms informing folks that if they have been hurt or have experienced ill side effects there might be a legal remedy. The hilarious part of these ads is the copy was written by an ad agency that was not paying attention. I have actually heard the line, “if you have taken this medicine and suffered ill side effect a, b, and c or if you have died call us today.” Obviously they meant if your loved one died, but they don’t say it. “If you have died call us.” I have written down that number. I want to call and ask how many dead people have called.

This vehicle called language can amuse us, embarrass us or get us out of and into trouble. I had a preacher friend who would admonish his congregation to pray for all those “sick in the bulletin.” Now if you have ever had a case of “in the bulletin” you know that the only hope is prayer. There was a music director who would instruct us to “turnover in your hymnal.” Turnover, I can’t even get into a hymnal. Ok, I will confess two things I should not. I can tell when someone is about to pray that they will likely use the name of God several times in their prayer. If they start and end their first sentence by invoking the name of God, I start counting. I count the number of “God, Lord, Lord God, Lord Jesus, Father, Father God, Savior, Jesus, Merciful God,” used in their prayer. I think you only have to address God once, He knows who He is. These folks also tend to use the word “just” many times in the same prayer. I listened to a guy who insisted on praying in public. In one prayer he said the name for God twenty one times and “just” thirty three in the same short prayer! (I was counting the names of God, I had a buddy counting the “justs.”) Jesus said something about “heaping up empty phrases” in prayer, over using the name of God and saying “just” before every request qualify as empty phrases. Those of you praying in public need to watch it.

I have verbal ticks too. I am in a program in which my sermons are evaluated by a speech therapist at Duke Divinity School and by a group of my peers. I am very aware of my verbal stalls, ticks and other bad habits. Mine are on the Internet for the entire world to see and hear.

Words have the power to heal or hurt. If we are not careful, words can cause all manner of trouble.

Jesus is the Word made flesh. God’s love was clearly spoken in and through Jesus.

That is a Word we all need to experience.