Depending on what you do on the morning of the first day or seventh day of the week, you might consider this a crisis. According to census figures, approximately 40 percent of Americans consider themselves church members. In Canada, the figure is 20 percent and in Europe, it's 8 percent or less.
I had a choice and I didn't choose the easy way out. And, as we all know, there are consequences for the choices we make. When our old gas grill burned out and went to the heap where all burnt-out grills go, we went in search of a new cooking appliance. Ultimately, the choice narrowed down to two. Both required some assembly. My search took me to a store where the guy who assembles grills was right there assembling furniture. His name was Randy. But he had assembled the dozen or so grills available and he answered all my questions.
There is an expression that originated in Italy several centuries ago that goes "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Having been fooled a time or two, or three, I couldn't pass up the little book I saw in a bookstore lately with the catchy title, You Can Read Anyone and promised, "Never be fooled, lied to or taken advantage of again." I couldn't resist at the bargain price of $7.98. I wasn't preparing for any upcoming dramatic event, but I thought I'd learn some clever trick I could report in an article to you. Here is my report.
When President Abraham Lincoln was choosing his cabinet in 1860, he was advised to appoint a certain man. "No I won't," said Lincoln, "I don't like his face." The advisors couldn't believe their ears. "The poor man isn't responsible for his face" they argued. Lincoln had an answer: "Any man over 40 is responsible for his face." The fact of the matter was that the man in question was not physically ugly, but he had, in Lincoln's opinion, an overly pinched expression that created a bitter, disdainful look about him.
We've all had the same experience — a lawn mower engine that won't start. You pull the cord 50 times and sometimes it fires, but it never starts. But before you get the 50 pulls, the starter cord breaks and then you have two problems. There are physical and emotional effects that could lead to a heart attack, a temper tantrum or worse. I remember reading about a guy who lost it and put about eight bullets into his stubborn mower. I understood completely.
(Note: This article was first published for the graduating class of 2004. One mother wrote and told me she had it blown up to poster size and put it on the wall where her graduate and his friends couldn't miss it. Others have suggested I repeat the article. Here it is.)
My mother told me many times that I wasn't as smart as I thought I was ("the smartest people do the dumbest things") but I never paid attention. As the years passed, her message has often proved to be true — including last week. Last Friday, I was on my computer digging out some information about Johnny Appleseed or something else and suddenly a message started flashing on the screen and a voice started speaking warning me that I had a virus and to immediately call a phone number for help. I was warned to not turn off the computer or all programs would be shut down.
As the spring sun warms our bones and our spirits, the Earth turns green once again, nature wakens from winter's nap and all of God's creatures feel the urge to rejoin the eternal circle of life, the spirit of Johnny Appleseed tugs at our sleeves.
FedEx has just delivered a 60 pound box to your step and your job is to pick up the box and move it to a three foot shelf. You won't tell yourself you're going to grunt when you pick up the box, but you will — even if you're not aware of it. That grunt is an indication of effort and it helps to get the job done. In my opinion, we don't know enough about the effects and potential of grunting.
The United Nations has just issued a report naming Norway the happiest country in the world — for now. A year ago, Denmark was in first place. The United States dropped from 13th place to 14th. First, we'll review the facts, then a bit of analysis is in order. The top 10 happiest countries are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.