Saturday, December 12, 2009

House Mountain & Devil's Nose

Hiking is the Appalachian Irishman’s escape from the trappings of work and modern society. Living a harder but simpler life in the wilderness of Appalachia 150 to 200 years ago appeals to the imagination.

The following are photos from recent hikes on House Mountain in Knox County, where the Appalachian Irishman is forced, be economic necessity, to live at the moment, and Devil’s Nose, in the Appalachian Irishman’s native and beloved Hawkins County. Enjoy the views.

These are from House Mountain, looking southeast then northwest, from two bluffs. For other entries on House Mountain, read My Mountain, House Mountain Winterland, and Best-Dressed Hiker.




These are of Devil’s Nose. First, see the mountain, from the south. Next, see the views, looking south, from the eastern bluff. For another entry on Devil’s Nose, read Devil's Nose Mountain, Hawkins County.




How to Pronounce "Appalachian" - Revisited

Well, Yuletide, holiday, and, dare I say, Christmas greetings, dear readers. My inaugural article How to Pronounce "Appalachian" continues to generate controversy. The following is my reply to the latest two posts. Follow the link to read their comments. Enjoy!

SarahJane, thank you for dropping by! I visited your blog. Keep up the good work!

With due courtesy, ask those socialist-minded, Big Brother-oriented, guvermit edukaters up there to check any good dictionary, with phonetic pronunciation. They will find that “Appalachian” may be pronounced two ways. Keep pronouncing it as you were raised! Don’t let them fit you into their mold! Stand you ground, sister! Individualism trumps socialist conformity! Oh, I forgot. The Department of Edukashun stopped teaching phonics years ago. Maybe that’s the problem!

Additionally, to Ryan McGarvey, how did I miss posting a reply to your foul ball back in January? I did enjoy the baseball pun.

First, allow me to educate you. Appalachians (not your improperly used possessive “Appalachian’s”) are not sheltered. We are aware of the rest of the world. We just know that our lifestyle is better. Also, check your phonetic dictionary, as stated above, to learn that “Appalachian” may be pronounced two ways. Y’all up north pronounce it your way. We ‘uns down here will pronounce it our way. Further, since when are English words spelled like they are pronounced? How do you say, for instance, “through,” “knife,” or “pneumonia?”

As I continue my effort to educate, I didn’t know that Maryland was neutral during World War II, and I didn’t know that the Confederacy fought during World War II. Amazing! What type of history were you taught by those guvermint edukaters up there?

Finally, you do have two redeeming qualities. You call yourself a Fells Point Irishman. Good job! Second, you state that you are not a liberal. If so, I wish you well, as you fight the masses of liberal lemmings in your area.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

You would have been seventy-seven years old today, but you were taken from us, so unexpectedly, just two days after Christmas of 2000. You were the hub that turned the family wheel. How would our lives have been different, better, if you had not been taken?

You were the most genuine Christian that I have known. Thank you for your influence for the years that you were with us. You raised four boys, sacrificing yourself in so many ways. You cared for your mother, after Papaw passed, for so many years. You took care of your granddaughters, when they were in need. You helped anyone in any way that you could. You taught Sunday School for thirty-one years. The years that you co-taught the youth division were so influential on me.

You endured so much without complaining, without bitterness. You always drew such strength and support from Jesus, your Savior. Thank you for all your prayers over the years. I wish I had them now.

You did not have much in material wealth, but you laid up countless treasures in heaven. Seeing you there, with Granny, Papaw, Dad, and so many others, especially as you see Jesus himself, comforts me a little. Selfishly, though, I still wish you were here, but healthy.

The year that you endured patiently the terrible suffering before you went to see Jesus was a great example to us. You did not deserve what you endured, but you accepted it graciously. I hope that our care for you during that year was a way of showing our everlasting and profound gratitude for all that you did for us.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are not the same anymore, because you suffered so much around those times. Also, Papaw got sick on Christmas Day, so many years ago. After you passed, Dad had health problems around Christmas, and we lost him after Christmas in early 2008. I still remember, though, the loving care that you put into all the festive tasks. I wish we could have that again.

I will never be the person that you were. Life has made me hard, angry, and bitter at times. The kernel of who you are, and of what you showed me by your life, is still there. I hope, someday, that it will bud and grow again.

Mom, I will never forget how you made homemade biscuits from scratch early every morning for years and years. You also made a rice crispy Christmas wreath for me every year. Those biscuits, and the wreaths, sum up in symbol who you were – always caring, always doing for us, no matter how much time or difficulty required.

Mom, I miss your biscuits. Will you have some ready for me when I join you someday? I love you, and I miss you.

Your devoted son.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tribute to Dad

Born in 1927, the youngest of eight children, five brothers and two sisters, Dad grew up in the Cave Springs community in rural Hawkins County—a county in which he lived all his life. His father was born in 1880, and his mother in 1892.

Subsistence farming, especially during the Depression, was rough. The Depression had little affect on their lives, since life was difficult in that area anyway. Dad said that it was hard to find a nickel to rub between your fingers. Still, with strong extended family togetherness, with neighbors helping each other, the people survived. Life made them tough, independent, and stubborn, but also quietly concerned and caring for each other--not in words, for a man didn’t express his feelings, but in deeds.

In 1953, Dad took over the water well business--which his father started in 1901, with a mule-powered drilling machine. In 1959, Dad and Mom were married. I came along one year later, followed by three other brothers.

Dad passed away on January 25, 2008, after bravely enduring heart trouble for several years. This is our second Father’s Day without him. Dad never told me that he loved me; he wasn’t raised that way, but he was proud of me, and he loved me. He always wanted to feed me, have Sunday dinner ready when I arrived, send me home with my favorite Winesap apples, etc. That’s how he was raised to show his feelings. Dad and I butted heads at times, for we shared that stubborn Irish core, but we had a unique relationship.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you. Tell Mom, Granny and Papaw Wood, Granny and Papaw Ferrell, and everyone else there that I said, “Hello.” A few more years, and we’ll all be together again. Until then, I’ll keep wearing the watch that I gave you one Christmas, to remember you.

Cross Species Fatherhood?

I have a pet peeve – pun intended!

Do you cringe when people talk about their pets as if they are children, members of the family? For example, “I have four granddaughters. Three of them have four legs!” Now, I can tolerate giving a pet a Christmas present, especially if the present is scraps from the dinner table, but I must draw the line at calling some four-legged varmint, no matter how much you might love it, a son or a daughter! Come on!

We have a cat. I don’t like to admit it, but we do. Somehow, a few years ago, telling my youngest brother that I might get a dog in the spring translated into “get them a cat for Christmas.” Well, I tolerate the cat, and I even like her sometimes. She’s not much on a hike in the woods, though. That’s why I wanted a dog!

Well, kind reader, I must confess that I received a “Father’s Day” card from this four-legged, clump of fur, rug rat today. I suppose that, over the years, my constant grimacing, and down right protests, about referring to pets as children have gone unheeded.

I suppose that I have to put up with it, if I don’t want to sleep in the doghouse! Does anyone else have similar thoughts, or do you want to send me to the pound?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tennessee Motor Oil Survey

My, this lady at a particular state university is persistent! The Appalachian Irishman finally responded to her Tennessee Motor Oil Survey, after receiving the second letter. Might as well have some fun filling out the thing.

I’ll share some of her questions and my answers, along with my other comments. Yes, she made the mistake of allowing freelancing from my glib tongue!

To begin, the eight-page survey asks mundane questions about the number of oil burning, gas guzzling, smoke belching, evil combustible engine vehicles and equipment one uses. It asks if you change your own oil, and if so, what you do with it. Then, several questions address oil collection centers. Other questions regard the use of recycled oil, which the survey wants to call re-refined. Finally, the survey snuggles up personally, asking about leisure activities, education, employment, dwelling location, gender, age, ethnicity, and income range. The survey, of course, promises complete confidentiality, despite pegging you with a unique number.

One question asks what I do with the old oil after changing it in my mowers. Of the ten options, I chose “other,” stating that I pour the oil on a big rock in the yard for the sun to evaporate. I bet that’s a unique answer! Although a collection center is less than five miles from the house, the big rock does just fine. (I wonder when the Big Brother sky-spy cam will catch me and send an eco-enforcement officer to demand that I take the oil to the center, blowing up my rock in the process!)

Another question asked if I would use their so-called refined oil for an oil change. No thanks, I replied. Can’t trust the quality. When will we be forced to reuse “refined” household waste?

The most entertaining question concerned what my neighbors do with their used oil. Of the 12 options, I again selected “other,” stating slyly, “Big Brother should not spy on his neighbor’s preference on disposal of used motor oil.”

I could not resist the opportunity, on the race or ethnicity question, to write in, beside White, “Irish American.” Why not? African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian were other options.

And now, dear reader, let’s move on to my other comments. I wrote:

I have responded to your survey finally, after receiving your second letter. I just don’t want you to show up at my doorstep next, with clipboard in hand.

Why did you send the survey in English and Spanish? We are not yet at least a bilingual country officially. I went to Russia and learned Russian. Those who come here by legal or illegal means should learn English. Eta pravilna?

I replied to the survey, despite my misgivings regarding its hidden agenda. I suspect that your survey will be used to promote legislation requiring used oil to be recycled, disallowing the option to use fresh oil, and to create intrusive regulations on personal disposal of used oil – all for ecological purposes.

I am a conservationist, not an environmentalist. We should care for the environment, but we must not worship the creation over the Creator.

Just don’t track me down and take away my big rock!

Are my comments on oil slick, or what? What say you?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Best-Dressed Hiker

The Appalachian Irishman hiked his beloved House Mountain, for the 55th time, on Easter Sunday. (The last hike was almost five months ago, so the trek was long overdue!)

The Appalachian Irishman has met a few interesting people on the trail. Often, he meets folks who “aren’t from around here,” either by geography or by mindset, who bring all the professional hiking gear. You know – the fold up metal hiking sticks, the high dollar packs, the costly hiking attire. The Appalachian Irishman usually snickers, after a brief conversation, as he continues on the trail, in his beat up blue jeans, old shirt and cap, carrying his “old school” quart canteen and Army surplus gas mask container, which contains his few essentials (e.g., beef jerky, toilet paper, lighter, first aid kit, snake bite kit, etc.). The brief conversations with these folks are entertaining. The vehicles they drive are easily identified in the parking lot. They usually drive a Subaru, fully equipped with the mandatory liberal, politically correct, tree lover bumper stickers.

Well, on Easter Sunday, I saw the best-dressed hiker ever – in my entire life of hiking! A young man with an older lady, perhaps his mother, came across the ridge from the west to the eastern bluff, just after I arrived, having come up the east trail. I was shocked, shocked, to see the young man dressed in black dress shoes (of course, quite dusty from the hike), gray-stripped dress pants and matching vest, white dress shirt, and light blue necktie, still neatly tied! For once, I was – almost – speechless. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, I allowed them to enjoy the view from the rock ledge.

Not being able to subjugate my mischievous side, and before continuing across the ridge westward, I had to, just had to, remark, “Young man, I must say in my 55 hikes on this mountain, you are the best dressed hiker that I have ever seen.” The young man wasn’t sure how to take my remark at first. I paused, awaiting his reply and giving him a little smile. He retorted sincerely, “Thank you.”

As I turned to continue across the ridge westward, I could hear the older lady, who had walked a few feet around the ledge toward the east trail below, laugh aloud delightfully. My smile broadened. It was another proud moment in the hiking history of the Appalachian Irishman. Enjoy the photo of the young man, which was taken by stealth.

Lesson to all Easter Sunday hikers: Change your Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes before the hike! Otherwise, folks will laugh at you, as they laughed at Mr. Douglas, riding his tractor in suit and tie. (Please don’t tell me that you don’t remember the 1960s TV show
Green Acres!)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Wal-Mart Experience

I appreciate the opportunity to address my “store experience” of today, Saturday, March 7, 2009. I shopped at Store #1319. I regret that your online survey disallowed comments, but, after searching through your website maze, I found this means to express myself.

I am skeptical that change will arise from these remarks. At least, I may vent by this means. I am a lowly customer, who, by sheer practicality, may continue to shop, less often, at Wal-Mart, since few similar options are available conveniently. (Oh, a Target is nearby. Perhaps, I will shop there more often.) I am one of many, who shop at Wal-Mart, but who desire other options. (The Lowes employee, who assured me by phone earlier that Lowes stocks my bulbs, shared a similar view.) Unfortunately, you have eliminated much of the competition. My skepticism arises from my opinion that your concern, as a "retail giant," for one customer is lost in the larger world of number-crunching profitability.

The crux of my “experience” is that I am extremely frustrated by key items being unavailable, while being surrounded by a million products. It is not ironic? Interestingly, I interacted with two other shoppers, who also sought products that were not available.

Now, to the specifics of my “experience,” despite buying other items, the primary intent of my shopping was to purchase (1) four 21-inch florescent bulbs (better stock up, since they are rarely available!), (2) black, blue, red, and yellow ink cartridges for my Brother MFC-420CN, and (3) Pantene Curls mousse (for my wife). Of course, these items were not available. I would have spent almost $100.00 more. That is $100.00 in your debt column and one frustrated shopper in your credit column—hardly a winning balance sheet for Wal-Mart.

I am not one who gives up, walks out, and returns another day, in hope of finding these items. Instead, I extracted my pound of flesh from your polite and understanding management. Gregg was very helpful, as he inquired from others, regarding the availability of the bulbs and cartridges. By his assistance, I learned that Wal-Mart darn well has no intent to ever stock the 21-inch florescent bulbs. Why? I don’t know, nor does he. The fixture is only five years old. 21-inch bulbs should have their rightful place, between the 18-inch and 24-inch selections. (Is Wal-Mart prejudiced against 21-inch bulbs? Alas, I jest!)

Again, from Gregg’s inquiries, I learned that Wal-Mart no longer sells Brother printers; hence, I understand why the store will not continue to carry the cartridges. (Sorry, Brother. You must not have jumped through all the hoops to have your products placed on the coveted Wal-Mart shelves.) The lingering question, however, is: Why can I find black, red, and yellow cartridges at Store #2310 and find only red cartridges at Store #1319, but I can’t find the necessary blue cartridge at either store? (Is Wal-Mart prejudiced against blue? Is that not one of your store colors? But, again, I jest!)

What is my solution? Well, I found the mousse at CVS, buying two bottles at $4.49 each. Lowes has my 21-inch bulbs at $5.98 each. (I plan to buy four.) Office Max has all four of my cartridges, at a total cost of $63.98. I will shop more at Target, Dollar General, CVS, Office Max, and Lowes.

What is your loss? $96.88 in sales. What is your “gain?” One disgruntled customer, who will share his experience with others. Yes, this little article is posted on my blog! It is in expanded form, without your restriction on the number of characters.

What is your solution? Let’s see if you respond. I will not hold my breath.

Why I Left


Today, while exploring the Internet, being too lazy to explore a mountain, I discovered an article at The Christian Chronicle, regarding why members leave the Church of Christ. The article points to a survey being conducted by Flavil Yeakley, the director of the Harding Center for Church Growth, in Searcy, Arkansas. The following are my responses to the survey questions.

1. Why did you leave the Churches of Christ?
I served in fulltime ministry for 14 years, including five years as a missionary. I was a member of the Church of Christ for 26.5 years, including four years before my fulltime ministry and 8.5 years after. I am still a member of Christ’s church.

First, I left the Church of Christ, finally, because I could not continue to associate with a group that--by a doctrinal implication that does not understand grace fully--concludes that the soul of my godly mother, who passed in 2000, is destined for hell, since she was a member of the Baptist Church. Silently, I disagreed with the implication for 7.5 years, uncomfortably taking my place on the pew, as I moved from lifeless congregation to lifeless congregation in the area.

My mother was saved by God’s grace, and she lived her life as a humble and shining example of God’s loving grace in her life. She may have had sincere misunderstanding on certain points of doctrine, which the Church of Christ stresses, but she was saved by God’s grace. Her salvation was not determined by her perfect doctrinal understanding but by her sincere, if imperfect, faith response to God’s free gift.

Second, I left the Church of Christ, because I could no longer tolerate the arrogant hypocrisy of that body, which, by implication, denies the fullness of grace, by asserting that its doctrinal understanding is correct and that all who disagree are in need of salvation. The body of Christ is exclusive, in that it is composed of all who are saved by grace through faith, yes. The Church of Christ, however, in its legalistic and elementary understanding of grace, cannot, with straight face, lay claim as the exclusive body of Christ. My God and my God’s grace are bigger than that.

Third, I left the Church of Christ, because I realized that the standard hermeneutical approach of its members is a foreign imposition on scripture. The model views scripture as legal code and interprets scripture by legal method. Scripture, in particular the New Testament, is composed primarily of inspired and authoritative but occasional letters. Interpreting occasional letters as legal code represents the imposition of foreign scaffolding on the text. This scaffolding skews the focus from grace to legalistic accuracy in obedience. Certainly, grace inspires our attempt to follow Christ’s will as accurately as humanly possible. Our salvation, however, is not merited by how perfectly we follow an understanding of Christ’s law that is skewed in its understanding by a legalistic approach to hermeneutics.

Fourth, I left the Church of Christ, because its local congregations, at least in this area, are lifeless. The candlestick has been removed. The Spirit of Christ is not present. In His place, is a spirit of legalism, which expects unquestioned conformity to the legal code. There is no freedom, without consequence, to question, to explore, to discuss openly. I was shackled in my silence, feeling unable to openly engage in dialogue on the points in this commentary. I felt as if I would be ostracized, shunned, labeled as a “change agent.” I am thankful that this forum allows me to express myself anonymously.

Finally, I left the Church of Christ, because my brothers and sisters of so many years were not concerned enough to offer supportive inquiry as to why I had left fulltime ministry, after returning from my mission work. To this day, no one, not a one, has asked, “Why are you not preaching anymore?” Instead, their silence has greeted me.

In sum, I left the Church of Christ, for the reasons mentioned, because I have matured in my theological understanding, unfortunately, as brought about by my mother’s passing. If the Church of Christ can move beyond its elementary understanding of grace, I can re-embrace it. Otherwise, I am now free to find and identify with a true non-denominational body of Christ.

2. Do you have any advice or suggestions regarding things Churches of Christ could do to improve and do a better job of meeting the spiritual needs of those who are still members?

First, and foremost, church leaders should create a spirit of open, non-judgmental dialogue in the congregations. Allow members to feel free to question, to discuss, and to study, without fear of labeling. Through this renewal effort, churches could be revived, members could be retained, and Christ could be honored.

Second, local congregations should seek comment from those who have left. Of course, if relationship ties and brotherly connection were strained, this attempt will be difficult. Still, with open and honest hearts, leaders should attempt unbiased, non-judgmental communication with those who have left.

Third, leadership in these congregations, after receiving feedback from ex-members, should implement plans to address the legitimate reasons why their former members left.

Finally, the Church of Christ should rethink its hermeneutical approach, with a primary focus of exploring the amazing depth of God’s grace.

3. If, when you left the Churches of Christ, you joined another religious group, what church did you join? Also, please comment on what you have found in that other church that meets your spiritual needs better than what Churches of Christ were doing.

Currently, I am attending a non-denominational, community church that has ties to the Restoration Movement. In this body, I have found a rich understanding of grace, a natural, exegetical approach to scripture, and an authentic sense of community. This church is not without its problems. (Name one that is.) It is, however, more truly in line with the purpose that Christ intended for his body.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Keyes on Obama


He’s my candidate - an independent, conservative voice for the future! (I, too, voted for him in the 2000 Republican primary.) Sadly, Alan Keyes’ articulation is too direct and bold for the liver lilied, touchy feely, mainstream.

Of course, if the mainstream is heading toward the sewer, we must keep paddling toward fresh water!

(Please hit the title link. It will take you to my friend’s website (Stock Market and Political Commentary), where the youtube.com link is found.)

Fuzzy Math


Math wasn’t my best subject in school; I’ll admit. Of course, I made decent grades, but math didn’t excite me. Still yet, I know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide – without a calculator.

(Don’t get me sidetracked! These guvmint edukatd kids know all about self esteem, but they get that deer in the headlights look, when, at the drive thru, they ask for $3.56 for the biscuit meal, and you give them $4.06. You see, the cash register, which won’t work during a power outage, had already told them how much change to return, if I provided $4.00. Do it for fun sometime! Usually, you have to tell them how much change to give you.)

Well, back to the point, let’s see, our new savior (oops! President) indicates that government must live within its means. Yes, that’s right folks. We’re going to cut government spending, waste, and fraud! Great! Good ol’ W should have done that, instead of going on his drunken spending spree. Well, good for the Obamanator. (Yes, W turned me from a Reagan Republican to a disillusioned Independent.)

But, wait, there’s one little additional point. Let’s spend about a gazillion dollars to stimulate the economy. Let’s get over 8,000 earmarks in there. The fate of the country hangs in the balance, depending on research into the mating habits of the earthworm, ad nauseam.

So, all the punditry aside, we will spend a Pacific Ocean of money while, at the same time, try to cut back on spending a Pacific Ocean of money. That’s the bottom line. Logical? Not at all.

What’s the problem? Well, too many guvmint edukatd lemmings are drinking Kool-Aid from the poisoned trough of socialism. Tax and spending our way out of a recession is not the answer. Growing government is not the answer. In fact, one can argue that government policy got us into this mess. Instead, look at the 1980s for the answer. But, alas, the democrats are galloping toward socialism. Many republicans are speed walking toward it. I am just sitting back, awaiting the inevitable. Perhaps, a new conservative spirit will rise eventually from the ashes.

Unless, of course, the new math that the kids are learning is correct: A gazillion spent + a gazillion saved = a gazillion!

What say you?

Big Brother Got Me!

Well, it had to happen! Big Brother got the Appalachian Irishman -- caught on candid-not-a-real-cop-but-we're-goin'-to-make-a-buck camera!

Yeah, yeah, so I did run the red light! As I recall, the yellow light was on when I started under. It must have lasted 0.025 seconds. Of course, as most vile criminals of my ilk state, the guy behind me would have eaten bumper, if I had come screeching to a halt at the light!

Worse, yet, when I paid cash for my little truck eight years ago, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and her sister had to pick it up, after I had left the need-to-make-a-sale salesman weeping at his desk. (I had to get to work.) For some reason, the ditsy get-the-tag-info person placed Mrs. Appalachian Irishman’s name above mine on the title. I suppose since she picked up the truck. So, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, who arrived home before I did, was quite perturbed when the ticket came in her name! Yeah, okay, I’ll pay the stinking $50.00 fine and ask Big Brother to put it in my name. I have to live with the little lady, you know.

Entrepreneurial idea: Could someone out there create some type of product that would not allow these socialist cameras to read your license plate? Of course, the plate must still be legible to the naked eye. Any ideas?

By the way, let’s brag on the truck. Paid cash for it eight years ago, when it was six years old. Had about 84,000 miles on it. Has over 222,000 miles now. Doesn’t use oil. Starts right up. It’s a Nissan, built in Tennessee.

Anyone still want to bail out the American motor companies? Another idea: Since we, the lowly taxpayer, must bail out these companies, why don’t we demand a new vehicle, after they straighten out their mess and become profitable again? Don’t hold your breath.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Helpful Link

For those interested in the inspiration for the Appalachian Irishman's article below, please click the "Helpful Link" title above.

This brother in Christ provides useful resources on several points of religious discussion, especially as related to the Church of Christ tradition.

Cursing & Praying on a Ridge


Okay, dear reader, this one will be more personal. Get ready!

Imagine the Appalachian Irishman standing on a bluff on
My Mountain. The day is clear and crisp. The photo above depicts the scene below. Hawks fly about.

Can the Appalachian Irishman, in this setting, both curse freely and then pray calmly, in a span of minutes? Yes, of course, he can. As Mark Twain said, “Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer” (A Biography). A good cussin’ purges the soul and lowers the blood pressure, at times, better than the most eloquently worded prayer.

Does God understand? Yes, of course. He is a God of grace.

Three months after returning from mission work in Russia, my mother, at the relatively young age of 67, was stricken by a yearlong suffering that involved two illnesses. As she recovered from the first, the other took her—suddenly, unexpectedly, unfairly.

Since then, I have not served in fulltime ministry. My zeal was poured out of me, by the hole cut into my bowels, the seat of emotion. Over eight years have passed, and I still struggle.

Do not bother with the religious platitudes. I have studied, written, and spoken on the problem of evil. Remember, I dealt with atheists in Russia! Deep inside, I am still angry with God, despite my theological understanding; although, the anger has cooled over the years. Why must she die at that time, in that terrible way, when we needed her so badly?

Complicating the issue is the haughty stance of the Church of Christ, of which I was a part for so many years. You see, the arrogant Church of Christ member would consign my mother to hell, because her views, as a Baptist, on such doctrinal points as baptism, worship, church organization, ad nauseam, conflict with his interpretation of scripture.

For over seven years after Mom’s passing, I continued to attend local Churches of Christ, but I was uncomfortable. Their beliefs, by implication, sent my mother to hell. I also struggled through the faith challenge that followed her passing. I was the outsider, as I sat within their walls each Sunday. Not wishing to “rock the boat,” I kept quiet. To attend is better than not, I reasoned.

Well, last year, I finally left the Church of Christ, while remaining a part of Christ’s church. My mother, whose sincere faith inspired me, was a faithful Christian, under the Baptist tradition. She did not die and go to hell, for any doctrinal misunderstanding. She, in her genuine faith, was saved by God’s grace. Perhaps her doctrinal understanding was not perfect, but whose is? Her faith, her love for our Father, her lifelong example of Christ living in her, as a reflection of his grace, was undeniable. As such, she was a Christian, saved by God’s grace through her genuine, if imperfect, faith. No superficial Church of Christ interpretation of grace will deny that reality.

I still believe, because my mother believed, and because I know Him. As the father of the stricken child, in Mark 9:24, cried, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

The Appalachian Irishman hasn’t had time, with a burdensome schedule, to climb House Mountain, to curse and pray. Perhaps, this is his way of doing so, off the mountain.

Thanks for listening.

Mr. Chan Or Mr. Garuba?


Has Patrick Chan, the figure skater, fallen on hard times? Is he in cahoots with Mr. Garuba? You be the judge! Suggestion: Don't send this "Mr. Chan" your contact information!

Here is the e-mail that the Appalachian Irishman received today. You know? It's just funny!

FROM:MR PATRICK CHAN.


Dear Friend,

Let me start by introducing myself.I am Mr.Patrick Chan Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the operations of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd.I have a secured business suggestion for you.

Before the U.S and Iraqi war our client Col.Hosam Hassan who was with the Iraqi forces and also business man made a numbered fixed deposit for 18 calendar months, with a value of Thirty Million United State Dollars($30,000,000.00)only in my branch. Upon maturity several notice was sent to him,even during the war early this year. Again after the war another notification was sent and still no response came from him. We later found out that Col.Hosam Hassan and his family had been killed during the war in bomb blast that hit their home.

After further investigation it was also discovered that Col.Hosam Hassan did not declare any next of kin in his official papers including the paper work of his bank deposit.And he also confided in me the last time he was at my office that no one except me knew of his deposit in my bank.So,Thirty million United State Dollars($30,000,000.00)is still lying in my bank and no one will ever come forward to claim it.What bothers me most is that according to the laws of my country at the expiration 7 years the funds will revert to the ownership of the Hong Kong Government if nobody applies to claim the funds.

Against this backdrop,my suggestion to you is that i will like you as a foreigner to stand as the next of kin to Col.Hosam Hassan so that you will be able to receive his funds.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE:

I want you to know that i have had everything planned out so that we shall come out successful.I have contacted an attorney that will prepare the necessary document that will back you up as the next of kin to Col.Hosam Hassan,all that is required from you at this stage is for you to provide me with your Full Names and Address so that the attorney can commence his job. After you have been made the next of kin, the attorney will also file in for claims on your behalf and secure the necessary approval and letter of probate in your favor for the move of the funds to an account that will be provided by you.

There is no risk involved at all in the matter as we are going to adopt a legalized method and the attorney will prepare all the necessarydocuments.

Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this issue.

Once the funds have been transferred to your nominated bank account we shall share in the ratio of 60% for me, 40% for you Should you be interested please send me the following informations below,

1. Full names
2. Private phone number
3. Current residential address.

I will prefer you reach me on my private email address below And finally after that i shall provide you with more details of this transaction.Your earliest response to this letter will be highly appreciated.


Kind Regards,
Mr.Patrick Chan.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fencing

A fencing team in school? Wow! What progress! I wasn't offered a class in fencing in high school. A good friend and former coworker informs me that his daughter is on a school fencing team. They are going out of town to pick up supplies.

Ah, the Appalachian Irishman remembers running a fence line back in high school, without any school training. The cows had knocked down a large section of fence, and the rest of the line needed to be restrung anyway. So, my buddy, Bill, and I helped Randy and his Dad run a new row of barbed wire.

Mind you, this was not in a flat pasture. It was on a steep hill in the woods. (Yes, cattle can get into the woods.) As we ran the wire, Bill had the spool above me on the hill, and he was running it down to me, where I was setting postholes. Well, sir, that spool got away from Bill. I looked up and saw barbed wire spinning off the spool, as it headed straight for me! Having a bit of mountain goat in me, I jumped out of the way, before the wire could shred me. What fun!

I'm glad that my friend's daughter is learning how to fence in school. But, why can't they go to the local Coop, to buy the supplies? You know, wire, nails, hammer, posthole digger, etc.

Oh, it's another type of fencing? Never mind. What is this country coming to? Remember, don't bring a knife, or sword, to a gunfight!What say you?

Monday, February 02, 2009

All Redefined

Well, the neglected old friend, whom you don't see as often as you should, but who will be there for you any time, needs some attention. The Appalachian Irishman, as a good friend, just sits out there on the Internet, awaiting my notice. Well, here is a short entry.

For the thousands out there who await longingly my every post, check out the link above. She is a friend and former coworker, who, with two others and I, braved the treacherous climb up House Mountain, just over a year ago.
Check it out! She's a good one!