Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Scores and scores of cars drive past Framingham’s Marian (Catholic) High School every day, and yet Marian High School has been called “the best kept secret in MetroWest”. Built in the late 1950s, the school’s building is admittedly “dated” and the parking lot and campus are small by 2008 standards. My understanding is that in the mid-1960s, the school’s student body numbered more than 400; today it’s well under 300. When I moved to Framingham over twenty years ago, I’d see the kids getting out of school wearing their plaid out-of-style uniforms, and I remember thinking, “Boy, THAT would be the day my kids ever went to THAT school!”
Ironically, some years later, we sent all three of our kids to Marian. The school HAS changed. Today’s uniforms are mostly blue (rather than green) and tend to be casual, contemporary, and “cool”. As of 2001, the school is completely independent of the Archdiocese of Boston. Technically, it’s now a “private school”. Probably around 20% of the student body is “non-Catholic” and the faculty and staff are a diverse group which includes Protestants and even Jews. The school still publicizes itself as a “Catholic” school, but it’s definitely not your “pre-Vatican 2” Catholic high school! Marian’s athletes excel on the playing field, and Marian’s music and drama programs are outstanding.
Yesterday morning, I was one of six clergy who took part in a special assembly (which in a very real sense was a “service”) as part of “Catholic Schools week”. Most of the clergy, including me, were from another one of Framingham’s best kept secrets, the “Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association”. The clergy included Pastor Dan Sierra of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Cantor Jodi Schectmann of Temple Beth Am, The Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd of Greater Framingham Community Church, Deacon Guy Spiri of St. Stephen’s Church, The Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell of First Baptist Church, and me. Each of the others shared something about their church and some interesting thoughts on spirituality. I was particularly blessed by Cantor Jodi’s prayer (in song) for healing in both Hebrew and English. My wife is Marian High’s administrative assistant (and she’s a very busy woman!). She was surprised that I DIDN’T speak about the church I pastor, but rather, about the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association. I explained that Mr. Colm McGarry who was coordinating the assembly specifically asked me to talk about F.I.C.A. as an introduction to the clergy who would follow. I said that some people are surprised by my involvement in F.I.C.A. (Many evangelicals shy away from interfaith groups.) I explained that while I have strong theological convictions, each faith group is endeavoring to promote goodness, righteousness, justice, and truth. There are times that we can all come together and work for the good of the community in ways that we can’t generally do on our own. We’re not just a “religious” or “do-gooder” organization. We’ve touched many lives by out annual Thanksgiving services, by a special 9/11 Memorial Service, by prayer vigils, and by tangible things we’ve done in the community.
So, two of Framingham’s best kept secrets found out about each other yesterday morning!
Monday, January 28, 2008
On Saturday morning, our small church had our monthly “Men’s Fellowship” meeting. Including me, there were seven guys present. For a tiny church in the middle of winter, that really wasn’t bad. We watched and discussed my favorite episode of “Northern Exposure” entitled “Birds of a Feather”.
“Birds of a Feather” originally aired on the CBS television network during the Fall of 1993. In this episode, 30-ish Dr. Joel Fleishmann’s parents (Herb and Nadine Fleishmann) come to visit him in rural Alaska. Joel clashes with his Dad throughout the visit. In the same visit, 60-something bar owner Holling Vancoeur admits that he doesn’t like sports and then (because of his dislike of sports) takes all kinds of verbal abuse from the townspeople and even from his much younger wife. The greatest focus of the episode is Nadine Fleishmann who talks incessantly. Native American “Marilyn Whirlwind” tells Nadine she’s an “Eagle spirit”. Marilyn then recites the Tlinket Indian legend of the eagle which says the eagle was originally “The Talker”. He talked so much that he couldn’t hear the wind or the river or even the wolf. When “The Talker” stopped talking and learned to be quiet and listen... he became the eagle, and he learned to fly. During the episode Nadine comes to grips with her blabbing problem, and (in a mystical sense) becomes “an eagle”.
It’s ironic that I watched that episode on Saturday morning (which incidentally was very well received and brought a lot of lively discussion and good Biblical sharing at Men’s Fellowship). On Saturday afternoon, I ran into “The Talker” of MetroWest. Her first name is “Jeannie” and her last name begins with a “G.”. If you’re an evangelical Christian from the MetroWest area, it’s likely you know who she is.
Jeannie has had run-ins with virtually every evangelical pastor in the Framingham area. She talks, shrieks, and yells incessantly. She believes herself to be a 2008 version of an Old Testament prophet. The bulk of her preaching is yelling about what phonies various MetroWest pastors are...usually naming them publicly. Jeannie has also been known to make constantly harassing phone calls to pastor’s offices and even to their homes. Around eight years ago it got so bad that my wife filed a formal complaint with the police department and the calls ceased. On Saturday afternoon, I was shopping at Market Basket in Ashland when who accosted me at the deli area but Jeannie?! She spoke, yelled and shrieked. She yelled the name of two area pastors, spiced with the “F” word. Jeannie had also taken a handful of those “number” slips that you take at a supermarket deli. “Her number” was called at least 5 times while I was there. When “her number” would be called, she would jump, wave, smile, and yell, :”That’s ME, PRAISE YOU JESUS!” It was obvious that nobody at the store knew what to do with her. After about ten minutes, she left. One woman came up to me and told me Jeannie is there every Saturday doing that.
“She uses constant ‘F Bombs’!” the woman said.
“Yes, that’s a great witness for Christ, isn’t it?” I sadly and sarcastically replied.
Sunday morning during church, Jeannie called our church office. Later, upon arriving home, we discovered she’d called our home answering machine and left a twenty minute message, ranting and raving like a lunatic.
Many years ago a mental health professional told me she’s “Certifiable”.
I wonder why she’s still walking around.
Incidentally, if you’ve ever heard a caller named “Jean from Framingham” on Boston’s 96.9 WTKK - that’s the same woman!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
To the best of my memory, I’ve only posted 5 or 6 overtly political pieces on this blog in the almost two years that it has existed. This one will be overtly political. If you’re not a political junkie and/or a talk radio junkie, this will probably bore you to tears. If you want to just stop reading now and “click” the blog site away, I won’t be offended!
I’ve been all over the political spectrum in my life. My parents were each registered Democrats. I voted for McGovern in 1972 (as an 18-year-old) and for Jimmy Carter in 1976. My politics sharply shifted between 1976 and 1978...from being a moderate Democrat to being a conservative Republican. I still consider myself a conservative, although I’m aware that many would label me a “moderate Republican” and, honestly, I suppose that would be a fair label for the Bob Baril of 2008. I’ve mentioned before that I’m so tired of Michael Graham and Jay Severin downing John McCain in WTKK 96.9 talk radio in Boston.
To sound very Nixonian, Let me just say THIS about THAT:
It’s not that I hate Michael Graham or Jay Severin. Michael Graham is easily the most entertaining host on WTKK and one of the most entertaining hosts in talk radio. I really enjoy him and I probably agree with about 85% of what he has to say, but when it comes to the other 15%, boy, we can be worlds apart! Jay is more intimidating and more cerebral than Michael is, and is an elitist. I like Michael better than Jay, but I also have to admit that Jay is a brilliant man. I fully agree with Jay only about 55% of the time, but I keep listening.
I know this will make Michael and Jay mad, but one would have to conclude they must want a Democrat to be elected in 2008. Well, it WOULD be very good for their business, there’s no doubt about that. In fact, should Hillary Clinton be elected, I suspect their already good ratings would increase. I must make that conclusion because both Jay and Michael are dead against the most electable Republican, John McCain.
Jay particularly hits HARD the notion that “no REAL Republican would vote for McCain”. Jay is in love with Mitt Romney. Several years ago, on Howie Carr’s show on WRKO, Chris Wallace said of Mitt Romney, “He is an ENORMOUSLY ATTRACTIVE GUY!” Howie ran that clip SO many times that I think it’s part of why Howie and Chris eventually had a falling out. (I don’t mean to sound like this is TMZ or something, but they did.) Well, even though Jay is a great womanizer, I won’t be surprised if I tune in some day at 3 to hear him crying out in ecstasy, just like Chris Wallace, “He is an ENORMOUSLY ATTRACTIVE GUY!”
If I ever got through to Jay or Michael here is what I would tell them:
McCain would beat Hillary Clinton in a landslide. That’s important. Republicans are in serious trouble this year. George W. Bush has some of the lowest approval ratings any President has EVER had. People are sick of him and sick of the Republicans.
Does anybody really think that the average middle-class independent voter is going to vote Republican this Fall. Listen, they’re NOT. There IS one guy they’ll vote for. Yes, Jay, it’s the one, “The Boston Globe, The N.Y. Times, CBS, NBC, and ABC loves”, John McCain.
Well, the alternative is, someone other than McCain runs, and Hillary or Obama wins.
You can “flag” this one and see how I do, because here is how many states each of the major Republican contenders would carry against Hillary Clinton:
Mike Huckabee would carry 5 states. He will never be the nominee.
Fred Thompson would carry 8 states.
Mitt Romney would carry 19 states, but he would not put together enough electoral votes to win.
Rudy Guliani would carry 24 states, but he would also not put together enough electoral votes to win.
John McCain would carry 41 states and win.
I know that sounds like a “pipe dream”.
Michael and Jay...think of “non-conservatives” you work with such as Hank Morse, Mike Barnicle, and Margery Egan. Each of them would vote for McCain against Clinton and they’re typical of many independent middle-class Massachusetts voters. Jim Braude would even “toy” with voting with McCain but he’d vote Democrat in the end. I’ve lived here almost all my life. McCain would carry Massachusetts. Former Governor Mitt Romney would not.
Think about it.........
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
A few days ago it hit me. The house I (mainly) grew up in...the house my sister now owns...the house I remember as a brand new house, and that in fact I can remember being built, is fifty years old this year! To distinctly remember the world of fifty years ago is a strange feeling. It does make you feel old.
This is also the anniversary of what came to be one of the most famous automobile models of all time- the Chevrolet Impala. For 1958, the Impala was only available as a 2-door coupe or as a convertible. The Impala, with its distinctive racing flag logo, was so “cool” and so popular, that beginning in ‘59 it became available additionally as a 4-door family sedan. I drove a ‘65 Chevy Impala many years later. For a few years in the 1990s, General Motors retired the model, but reintroduced it as a totally redesigned full-sized Chevrolet for 2000. Can the Impala really be fifty years old?
But back to the house in Canton. I remember when it was nothing more than a wooden frame. We’d drive out from the inner city of Boston to look at it on Sunday afternoons. I was only around 4 but I remember that distinctly. In fact, at that time, I remember Route 128 in the Canton/Milton area being under construction as a brand new highway. I THINK 128 opened up in that area in early 1959. There were glitches with the new home in Canton. Shortly after the walls of the garage were done in finish cement, some wise-guy kid ran his finger through the cement and spoiled the job. It dried that way and remains that way today as a permanent memory of a jerky kid who is probably around 60 today. Some of the workmen opened a bottle of beer in the new living room and stained the ceiling. It was that way until sometime in the 1970s when my mother painted it out. I remember that house being all new, smelling of new plaster and being all “echoey” the way new houses are. We moved into the house only about a week or two before Christmas in December of 1958. I can still see my father and his older brother Raymond carrying the Crosley refrigerator up the cellar stairs. Can that really have been fifty years ago?
In some ways, the world of 1958 was very different from today’s world, BUT in other ways, it wasn’t all that dissimilar. We DID have radios, television, and passenger jet planes in 1958. What’s really freaky to think about is that there were middle-aged people in 1958 who remembered 1908 as clearly as I now remember ‘58. Think of it, 1908 was the year Henry Ford introduced the very primitive Model T Ford. Chevrolets weren’t even being manufactured yet. Television had not been invented, nor had radio. Telephones were a luxury item and were quite primitive. Airplanes were very primitive biplanes.
Fifty years from now, I will be 103. If I’m still alive, I will be a decrepit old man in a nursing home, but in fact, I don’t even expect to live to see 90. I hope I have not depressed anybody, but the fact that the “new” house in Canton is now 50 years old; well it is mind-boggling to me!
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Yesterday, I drove Rachel back to Westfield State College for Spring Semester. (We're all kind of bummed out that the car Rachel drives is "dead" so I had to drive her.) After spending time at Westfield State, I stopped at McDonald's in Westfield. I really like the "413 Area Code". It's a "different" Massachusetts. Life moves slower. People watch Springfield and Hartford T.V. stations and listen to Springfield radio stations. They DON'T have Boston accents...that accents disappears around 10 miles west of Worcester. Yes, I really like the "413 Area Code" BUT communication can get interesting...
As I said, I went to McDonald's. The order I placed was one I've placed all over the Boston area a number of times with NO problems: "I'd like a medium DECAF ice coffee...about half ice....cream and two sugars". I order that around Framingham all the time. Well, first the woman who waited on me looked at me very confused and said, "We don't have decaf ice coffee, only HOT coffee". Above her was a big sign which was a photo of an ice coffee and a sign saying "Now available in decaf!". I chose to just let it go.
"O.K." I said, "I'll have regular ice coffee."
The woman still looked totally confused. She called her manager over and asked the manager, "How do I give him ice coffee with half the ice, half the cream, and half the sugar?"
I shook my head and explained what I wanted to the manager.
A guy behind me in line said, "I couldn't understand what you wanted, either!"...like I was a weirdo, or something.
Maybe I shouldn't have said this, but I said, "I'm from the Boston area and I place this order there all the time with no problems. I guess once you go west of the Connecticut river everything changes!"
They shook their heads and agreed that it DOES!
You probably thought I was going to write about people waiting on you in Portuguese or something. (THAT happens in Framingham!) And, in the midwest, people can't handle the Boston accent, but THIS WAS STILL MASSACHUSETTS....
man .... communication ..... culture .... cross-culture .... whatever .....
IT'S A PROBLEM!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Recently, I mentioned a fellow pastor (without naming him) who essentially told me he has no time to waste on reading blogs and/or mass e-mailings. Since I’m kind of famous on a small scale for writing a blog, for sending out mass e-mailings, for being somewhat sensational, and even for writing and mailing out (by U.S. mail) a personal newsletter to around 12 people every week, today I found myself thinking about WHY I do this stuff, and why I’m the way I am, and whether my style...the “way I operate” in life is savvy or stupid!
Well, here’s why I do it:
When you’re the little guy...when you’re pastoring a very small church which is (unfairly) thought of as insignificant...when you’re thought of (well if ANYBODY thinks of you AT ALL) as at best a hanger-on in life and at worst a total failure...well, if you’ve been marginalized or you’re “job” has been marginalized in the way I’ve experienced, you learn that you’ve gotta get creative. You’ve gotta raise your voice. You’ve gotta get “out there”. And, as hard as this may be for some of you to believe, IF you’re willing to be a little eccentric, a little over the top, a little “in your face” and a little bit “out there” the publicity can be very beneficial and can really pay off.
When I first came to First Assembly of God of Framingham in 1987 the church had been in existence at that time for over sixty years. As I moved about Framingham, I learned that virtually nobody had ever heard of the church. They did not know where it was located. They did not know anybody who attended the church. They did not know anything about it. And, in most cases, they didn’t WANT to know anything about it and whey wouldn’t have cared if it disappeared and ceased to exist at any time. Most of the people who attended the church at that time were very nice people who were content to go to their kids’ hockey and soccer games and content to (as a church) be a nice happy little family. Most of these people were not going to “go out there and make a big splash in the community”, so little by little I set out to do that. It STILL bothers me that people around Framingham ask me, “Now WHERE is your church?” or “That’s a BRAZILIAN church, isn’t it?” But as frustrating as it can be, I have gotten to know some “key players” in the Framingham community and our church (which still suffers from image problems) is perhaps better know than it has ever been.
A sort of a renaissance in my life and in the life of the church is when the Christian station “J-LIGHT RADIO” existed in Framingham from roughly 1997-2002. Some of you will remember that I became sort of a “personality” on that station...appearing every Friday morning running a Bible trivia contest, and featured on-air in various other capacities. My “radio star” status in the local Christian community ran from roughly 1998 to 2001. In those days, I suddenly had people almost tripping over themselves to shake my hand at Christian functions, and I even ran into people around the community who were NOT evangelical Christians who listened to the station. Most of you know, the station ultimately failed and disappeared, and now it’s just a faint memory, but those were exciting days for me.
A few years ago, I put together a sort of a one man dramatic presentation and made the rounds in this part of New England as a guest speaker. I had a LOT of fun doing that and I was thrilled to make some extra money. I must admit that I stopped doing that because I got tired of making phone calls and being told “no” but when I was persistent, I did get bookings. Sometimes I wonder if I should get back to that again, and maybe I will.
My weekly newsletter goes to twelve or so people who are either personal friends of mine, friends of First Assembly of God of Framingham, or both. That newsletter may seem like a lot of work and energy, and it is, but at times the recipients have unexpectedly visited a church service, sometimes dropping a large check to the church into the plate. Once in awhile, one of them has even sent ME a donation. Every week I manage to get those people’s attention and have them for a short time thinking (praying?) about Bob Baril and about First Assembly of God of Framingham. I think that’s been worthwhile.
The blog also “puts me out in front of people”. I’ve met people through this blog. One person I met is Michelle Swartz McElroy who has a fantastic blog about Framingham called www.thisisframingham.com I’ve also developed a strong clergy relationship with The Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell, pastor of First Baptist Church of Framingham who hasa blog entitled Rev-o-lution. I think the fact that she’s a writer and that she’s willing to kind of “put herself out there” and be vulnerable is why I’ve had a strong connection to her.
Sadly, small churches close up EVERY DAY. Sadly, pastors of small churches resign and leave the ministry EVERY DAY. Sadly, most people don’t know or care about any of this stuff. Once in awhile, there’s a guy who’s going to be crazy enough to get out there and get in your face and say, “I’m me, I matter, I’m important, and even more the church I pastor matters and is important. Here I am, crazy ideas, sensational personality and all, and I’m not goin’ anywhere!”
Is this schtick of mine doing any good? Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you?!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Sometimes I joke with people and tell them that I have O.C.D. : “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”. Well, no, I don’t LITERALLY have it. I have to make that clarification because sometimes when I’ve joked about “having it” people have thought that I literally DO have it!
I will say I’m one of those people who REALLY likes things to be orderly. If you’ve ever seen “The Odd Couple” I’m kind of a “Felix Unger” and my wife is kind of an “Oscar Madison” so things can get “interesting” at home!
I’ve been called a “control freak”. As much as I bristle at that designation, I have to admit, it’s at least somewhat true!. Order; stability; “closure”; “things making sense”; checklists with all the “to do” stuff checked off... well to rewrite the old Julie Andrews song “My Favorite Things”, these are a few of MY favorite things.
This week, ...well actually it’s this month. ...well ACTUALLY it’s this YEAR...so far has been NOTHING like I’d prefer it to be! Predictable? Nope! Easy? Nope! “Sensible?” Nope! Orderly? Nope! For a compulsive planner, it’s been kind of challenging so far! Due to certain technical difficulties with my iMac computer, I won’t be posting this for awhile after I’m actually writing it, but I’m ACTUALLY writing this at 1:30 p.m. on Monday. My kids and I have shoveled out, but so far I’ve been home all day. My daughter took a drive by the church and informed me the lot is not yet plowed, so there’s no point in going over there, and I know the library is closed. I’ve got a million things to do and I’m home just about climbing the walls! On Tuesday morning, my ‘89 (low mileage) Volkswagen goes into the shop for several days of major work. It will be hard to give the car up for several days. Our ‘93 Olds now also has major problems and my wife and I have just decided to NOT fix it but to look for another vehicle. This Olds is the car our 21-year-old mainly drives and today she’s “not a happy camper”. (Thank God we DO still have our 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan, which so far is doing O.K.)
I know I need to remember I’m reasonably healthy, I’m not doing without food and I’ve got a roof over my head. But when you have this “gotta have everything in order” thing going on inside of you which,can’t be satisfied, well, since I don’t swear, I’ll say it “STINKS”....
Yup, there’s a whole “to do” list that’s just laying inside my briefcase and not getting done! There’s other stuff also that’s not getting done, but writing about it would bore most of you to tears. Do you supposed God is just forcing me into a mandatory “time out” or something? Maybe.
Now if I were Hillary Clinton, I’d walk over to Dunkin Donuts and sit in there drinking a coffee and crying that I’ve just got so much to do and I just can’t seem to get it done. Well, with her that sort of behavior managed to defeat Barak Obama! What would it accomplish for me? Well, (and I’ve got to admit, this really brought a playful smile to my face) - it would accomplish ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Our problem with the new Verizon FiOS setup is that when we go to www.aol.com and try to check mail (which I can do at the library all the time) it will not allow us to do that and says we need a more up to date browser. We have tried to download one, but nothing is up to date enough. Initially, this was very frustrating and disappointing.
What Jon did instead is to go into our computer's AOL software and change all the settings to adjust for the Verizon high speed rather than dialup. NOTE: The Verizon tech. today tried to do that and COULD NOT. The Verizon tech. just couldn't understand or figure out how to do it! I NEVER would have been able to , but Jon did, so I'm back in business!
One thing Jon is not sure of is, when Mary Ann cancels her paid AOL acct (I have a sep one at the church) will this affect the AOL software and make our signing on from home no longer possible?? We don't know, but at least for now, this works!
I'm feeling a lot better about this because it IS great to have high speed internet and to no longer have the phone line tied up when you're on-line, but I had been very disappointed that I could not just go to the AOL site and check my mail as I can do at the library.
I also SHOULD be able to start a Verizon e-mail acct, BUT it also requires a better browser than we have.
Sorry to bore you with all the details, but I'm so happy to have e-mail back!
Saturday, January 12, 2008
At this moment it has it's good points and bad. The actual hookup time for
television, computer, and telephone took under 4 hours. WIth an old house it
involved some drilling through the floor, drilling through walls, running wire
along wall area, etc. I'm not always crazy about that kind of stuff, but
realizing it's an old house and that's about all they can do, it wasn't a huge
The television is fine, and I think ultimately I will like it better than the
cable company I had before. And of course, our home telephone is now
transmiting over the very latest in fiber optic technology.
My disappointment has been with the internet.
Our old MAC computer did meet the minimal requirements for FiOS and
TECHNICALLY it does connect to the internet. HOWEVER, we although we were able to go to
we were not able to open and read e-mail due to needing software updates. We were also not able to set up Verizon e-mail accounts due to needing software updates. It remains to be seen if this is just stuff we will have to
download, if we will need to go to the Apple store and buy and updated operating system, and even in a worse case scenario, if we're going to need a new comptuer. Mary Ann IS able to use her Dell laptop at home, and Rachel will be able to use her MAC laptop at home, so we CAN check our e-mail on those comptuers but the computer end is still very disappointing to me.
The Verizon technician said he "does not know much about MAC computers or AOL" so he left and was unable to help us. He was a nice guy, but THAT was disappointing. We do have a Verizon number we can call for technical support. It will remain to be seen how this stuff will work out; but honestly, at this juncture I'm kind of frustrated and disappointed.
Incidentally, I'm writing this on the ancient computer at the church office
and putting it out on very old fashioned AOL dialup!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Today is the New Hampshire Primary. Frankly, it’s much too early this year, and the Iowa Caucases were too early, as well. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the New Hampshire primary took place around the first week of February. In 2004, it happened in late January. It used to be that the Primary process was not over until June. Do you remember, for instance, that Robert F. Kennedy was shot at the time of the 1968 California Presidential Primary in early June? Today it’s said that the whole process will probably be over before the end of February!
I was delighted that Barak Obama won the Iowa Democrat caucases. Well, to be specific, I was REALLY delighted that Hillary Clinton did NOT win! I do believe there are scores and scores of reasons why it would be a very bad thing to get the Clintons back into the White House. Both Obama and Edwards on the Democrat side are far too liberal for my tastes, BUT I think either of those guys would make a far better president than would Hilliary Clinton. All that said, Barak Obama is going to win the New Hampshire Primary. Good for him!
On the Republican side, John McCain is going to win, and I say, “Good for him!” I’m tired of Michael Graham and Jay Severin saying John McCain is not a real Republican. I know Republicans are constantly quoting Ronald Reagan and constantly trying to say they are the “Ronald Reagan of 2008”. WHO would Ronald Reagan be voting for if he were alive and healthy this year? I’m not sure, but I’ll tell you this: Ronald Reagan would NEVER have tolerated John McCain being insulted and disparaged by Michael Graham or Jay Severin or anybody else. I can see Reagan with that “I’m paying for this microphone!” attitude of his saying somehing like, “THIS man is a hero, now SHOW HIM THE RESPECT HE DESERVES!!”
Severin and Graham are very upset that McCain attracts many independents and Democrats. Let me get this straight? That’s a BAD thing? The fact is, if John McCain is the Republican nominee, he will win in November and probably carry at least 41 states. McCain even has the potential to carry Massachusetts, as Ronald Reagan did in 1980 and 1984. In fact, at least HALF of Reagan’s polularity and support was from independents and from conservative and moderate Democrats (such as my late parents). In 1980, Reagan was probably more popular with Democrats and independents than he was with Republicans. For most of 1980, the guy the Republican party establishment desperately wanted for President was George Herbert Walker Bush. I think they’d have settled for Senator Howard Baker who was also running that year. In the end, Reagan drew big support from independents and Democrats and you all know what happened, although the miffed Republican establishment made sure Bush was on the ticket as V.P.
You can’t tell I’m a political junkie, can ‘ya? Naw.....
Monday, January 7, 2008
I enjoyed Jeff Adair’s column in yesterday’s (Sunday, Jan. 6, ‘08) MetroWest Daily News. It’s on page H3 and is entitled, “It pays to keep cool”. The column was all about a big guy who was essentially a bully and a jerk to Jeff as he was just trying to remove snow from his property.
That column blessed me for a number of reasons.
Probably the biggest is I can just hear all the people out there who would say, “What kind of a column is that?! Who cares if some guy was a jerk to him as he was removing snow?! Who cares how he felt?! Who cares how he chose to deal with it and what a lesson that was for him and for readers?!”
I can relate, because I’ve been on the receiving end of those kind of comments by superficial, self-confident, conceited individuals more times than I can remember. It’s happened a lot recently. Over the past month, I put out a few of what I call “mass e-mailings” asking people to read pieces on my blog and to give me some feedback. Virtually none of those who were “solicited” were strangers. All were people who at one time or another I’ve had SOME contact with. I’m of the belief that one of the greatest tools of the internet is the ability to relate and communicate with people, in a sense of community, where we all respect one another and help one another to grow.
Boy have I been naive!
I got one reply from a female attorney who wrote that she receives over 300 e-mails at a whack. About my writings, she said, “You’re always complaining about the same things”.
In the (almost) two years I’ve had the blog I don’t think I’ve ever twice complained about the same things. And, if she meant the same kind of things, I’m not even sure THAT’S true.
I wrote her back a sort of polite but terse e-mail saying that since she has so many more important things to deal with, I won’t send her any more e-mailings. She responded with sort of a “well, don’t get upset” reply. Well, I wasn’t furious or in a rage or anything like that, but as I wrote back in my final e-mail to her, if there’s an issue which I feel directly or indirectly should concern community leaders in Framingham, then I’m going to raise my voice (use my blog, whatever) to make an issue about it, and I don’t think Ineed to feel guilty about that.
More disappointing was the comment of a fellow minister when I asked him to read my blog. He replied that he never reads blogs or mass e-mailings and has no desire to waste his time with such matters. Yet, this man sends ME a regular e-mail newsletter and expects me to be vitally interested in his ministry, even to the point of financial support. Do you think I had a good reason to feel hurt about his comments? Well, whether it was a valid reason or not, I did feel kind of hurt and bewildered.
I listen to a lot of talk radio and I’ve listened to a lot of talk radio for a long time.
This will absolutely shock many of my friends and readers but if I ever had a talk radio show, it would most resemble that of radio talk show host Tom Leykis. I can just hear those who know who that is incredulously yelling, “TOM LEYKIS??!! TOM LEYKIS??!! YOU would be like Tom Leykis?! How can that be?!”
Well, granted, Tom Leykis is an atheist, and I’m a committed born-again Christian. Tom Leykis has a pretty foul mouth at times, and I don’t. Tom Leykis is a political liberal and I’m a political conservative. Tom Leykis was arrested for domestic violence when he was doing his show in Boston back in the early 1990s, and NO I’m not guilty of domestic violence! What I always DID like about Tom Leykis is how REAL he is. His show (on WRKO in the early 1990s. later nationally syndicated in the mid and late 1990s from the west coast) discussed “things YOU really care about”. One show was about how he feels like a jerk when he goes to Home Depot. One was about a huge water leak on his property that the city of Los Angeles refused to do anything about. One was about the bad treatment he got from a pizza shop. One was about funny experiences people have had at funerals. (I was an on-air caller for that particular show, and he loved my stories.) Tom talked at times about his father who couldn’t handle credit cards and who was never treated right by his boss. Tom even talked about a big emotional break he had with his dad at age 18 and the effects of that. He also talked about his desire to never have children and how it caused him to be alienated from some friends who have a disabled child. At times, Tom did programs entitled, “Ask the atheist” in which he defended atheism. As you can guess, I didn’t care for those, but what I loved was his vulnerability, his openness, and his frankness. He just talked about LIFE, and if you listened and thought about it, he usually had something to teach you in his own peculiar way. So, if I was ever a radio talk show host, I’d be a kinder gentler Tom Leykis.
This posting may explain why I write some of the pieces that I do on this blog. It may also explain why I SO appreciated Jeff Adair’s very “Tom Leykis-like” column.
Yes, some of us like to spend hours debating the war in Iraq or global warming. Others like to talk about what we learned from a confrontation with a bully in a snow-shoveling situation!
I care, Jeff Adair!
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
When it comes to most “stuff”, Boston media personality Jim Braude and I have nothing in common. Jim is what commentator Bill O’Reilley calls a “secular progressive”. Jim Braude is liberal, pro choice, pro gay marriage, is not comfortable with the religious right, etc. etc. etc. When it comes to most political and social issues, Jim Braude and I are on opposite sides. But there’s an area where Jim Braude and I are very much alike. Neither of us fits the bill of being cool, mechanically inclined, strong and silent blue-collar types. I find that cool, mechanically inclined, strong and silent blue-collar types often rub me the wrong way. (Not always, but OFTEN.) In the story I’m about to tell, I believe Jim Braude (another white-collar, college-educated, idealistic guy) would have reacted very much as I did.
Ironically this incident occurred on Monday, December 31 (New Year’s Eve)...I say ironically, because a previous emotional disaster in my life occurred exactly one week beforehand on Christmas Eve (please see the “A VERY ‘FOOT IN THE DOOR’ CHRISTMAS” posting). It was New Year’s Eve DAY...around 10 a.m. I had shoveled snow at home, and my wife and I were taking her 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan over to the church so both of us could get some things done. Mary Ann had not had breakfast, so we went to McDonald’s on Route 30, and she got a take-out breakfast. As we drove along Concord Street southbound heading toward downtown Framingham (I was driving) suddenly there was a loud sound that sounded like wind...almost like a jet plane engine or something. I was startled and I could not understand WHAT that sound could be.
“What IS that SOUND?!” I asked my wife. She lowered her window, looked out, and informed me that the right rear tire was COMPLETELY flat. The sound we heard was the sound of me essentially driving on the rim! I was only a quarter mile away from the mechanic we use. I wanted to try to get there, but Mary Ann (probably wisely) was dead against that, telling me I’d ruin the rim if I tried to go that far. We both decided the best thing to do was to pull into Dunkin Donuts at Concord and Lincoln Streets. I backed into a space and got out. The tire was totally flat and I could see that part of the rim WAS bent slightly.
It’s ALWAYS bothered me that I’m terribly unhandy. My father was quite a handyman, and my brother was a handyman’s handyman. Both have passed on. I inherited my mother’s mechanical ability which is ABSOLUTELY NONE. For some reason, women can get away with being terribly unhandy, but men who are terribly unhandy are often made to feel like they’re stupid or effeminate or both. Now, I actually HAVE changed a few tires in my life, but changing a tire on a Dodge Grand Caravan would have been a bit of a challenge even for my father. I called AAA and I was told they’d have someone out within an hour. Interestingly enough, two AAA tow trucks came to the Dunkin Donuts lot during the next hour that were NOT for me! They were just guys getting coffee!
I was really feeling guilty that I might have ruined the rim. I had also not had the best final week of 2007. In fact, for me, the last week of 2007 was easily the saddest and most stressful week of the year. So, this was just “par for the course”. But that’s not the end of the story.
After being at the Dunkin Donuts lot for around 30 minutes, 3 men in blue-collar uniforms (I did not recognize their company name) came to me and told me to move my Dodge Caravan.
“I can’t,” I told them. “I’ve got a tire that’s completely flat...right down to the rim...I’ve called AAA Emergency services, and I’m waiting for them.”
They looked at the tire and looked at me as though I were the stupidest and most unmanly man they’d ever seen. With ear to ear grins, they again demanded I move my vehicle. It turned out they were arriving in a Dunkin Donuts eighteen-wheeler to deliver supplies to that Dunkin Donuts store. I’ve seen this truck there before. When it arrives, it renders the bulk of the parking lot for the Dunkin Donuts and the neighboring bank USELESS.
Well, what was I going to do?
Drive on the rim?
Forget the service call?
Get into a much wore predicament?
These guys were not going to take no for an answer. My wife did not think their request was unreasonable at all. She could not understand that I was shaken, distraught, and furious. I could imagine my late very macho father saying to me in an authoritative tone, “Don’t ever move a vehicle when you’ve done damage to a rim. I don’t give a hoot WHO is telling you to move it!!” On the other hand were the grinning, sarcastic blue-collar Dunkin Donuts eighteen-wheeler guys who were not going to take no for an answer.
I ended up moving the vehicle across the lot to a bank parking space. I felt as VIOLATED as I did one week earlier by the Verizon salesman. My wife means well but she proceeded to sweetly speak spiritual platitudes to me. She really does mean well. But here I think Jim Braude would be in agreement with me. That moment was not the time for spiritual platitudes, however well meaning.
Well, I am happy to say that several positive things DID happen. The AAA man named “Joshua” finally did arrive. I think he was a Brazilian. He was VERY nice and did a super job changing the tire. Mary Ann took the Dodge Caravan to Ron’s Tire and was able to buy a new tire. Although the rim did have minor damage, it was only minor and was still usable.
I have a ravenous appetite. I’m ALWAYS hungry and I typically eat too much. I was so upset I could not eat any lunch, and when it comes to me, THAT’S saying something!
I can tend to get very strict with what I call “illegal parkers” at our church parking lot. But if I encountered a guy who had a flat tire and possibly damaged rim at our church lot even on a Sunday morning, I’d just stay out of the guy’s way!. I would figure he had enough problems and I did not need to make things worse for him. I know, I know, those 3 guys had to make a delivery. Maybe they shouldn’t be making deliveries at 10 a.m., tying up the bank and Dunkin Donuts parking lots and causing all sorts of problems.
So that’s my latest brush with human nature.