Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 





By Oliver Wendell Holmes  (1809-1894)

Illustrations by Howard Pyle  (1853-1911)


Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay?

That was built in such a logical way,

It ran a hundred years to a day,

And then, of a sudden, it – ah, but stay,

I'll tell you what happened without delay,

Scaring the parson into fits,

Frightening people out of their wits –

Have you ever heard of that, I say?


Seventeen hundred and fifty-five,

George the Second was then alive –

Snuffy old drone from the German hive.

That was the year when Lisbon-town

Saw the earth open and gulp her down,

And Braddock's army was done so brown,

Left without a scalp to its crown.

It was on the terrible Earthquake-day

That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.

Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,

There is always somewhere a weakest spot –

In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,

In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,

In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace – lurking still,

Find it somewhere you must and will –

Above or below, or within or without –

And that's the reason, beyond a doubt,

A chaise breaks down, but doesn't wear out.

But the deacon swore (as deacons do)

With an "I dew vum" or an "I tell yeou"

He would build one shay to beat the taown

'N' the keounty 'n' all the kentry raoun'.

It should be so built that it couldn' break down.

"Fur," said the Deacon, "tis mighty plain

That the weakes' place mus' stan; the strain.

'N' the way t' fix it, uz I maintain,

Is only jest t' make that place

Uz strong uz the rest."


So the Deacon inquired of the village folk

Where he could find the strongest oak,

That couldn't be split nor bent nor broke –

That was for spokes and floor and sills.

He sent for lancewood to make the thills.

The crossbars were ash, from the straightest trees,

The panels of white-wood, that cuts like cheese,

But lasts like iron for things like these.

The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum" –

Last of its timber – they couldn't sell 'em.

Never an axe had seen their chips,

And the wedges flew from between their lips,

Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips.

Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,

Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too --

Steel of the finest, bright and blue –

Thoroughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide.

Boot, top, dasher – from tough old hide –

Found in the pit when the tanner died.

That was the way he "put her through."

"There!" said the Deacon, "naow she'll dew!"


Do!  I tell you, I rather guess.

She was a wonder, and nothing less!

Colts grew to horses; beards turned gray.

Deacon and deaconess dropped away.

Children and grandchildren – where were they?

But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay,

As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED – it came and found

The Deacon's masterpiece strong and sound.

Eighteen hundred increased by ten –

"Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.

Eighteen hundred and twenty came –

Running as usual, much the same.

Thirty and forty at last arrive,

And then come fifty, and FIFTY-FIVE.

Little of all we value here

Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year

Without both feeling and looking queer.

In fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth

So far as I know, but a tree and truth.

(This is a moral that runs at large;

Take it. You 're welcome. No extra charge.)

"A general flavor of mild decay"

FIRST OF NOVEMBER,--the Earthquake-day.

There are traces of age in the one-hoss-shay

A general flavor of mild decay,

But nothing local, as one may say.

There couldn't be -- for the Deacon's art

Had made it so like in every part

That there wasn't a chance for one to start.

For the wheels were just as strong as the thills,

And the floor was just as strong as the sills,

And the panels just as strong as the floor,

And the whippletree neither less nor more,

And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,

And spring and axle and hub encore,

And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt

In another hour it will be worn out!


First of November, 'Fifty-five!

This morning the parson takes a drive.

Now, small boys, get out of the way!

Here comes the wonderful one-hoss-shay,

Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.

"Huddup!" said the parson. - Off went they.


The parson was working his Sunday's text,

Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed

At what the--Moses--was coming next.

All at once the horse stood still,

Close by the meet'n'-house on the hill

- First a shiver, and then a thrill,

Then something decidedly like a spill,

And the parson was sitting upon a rock,

At half-past nine by the meet'n'-house clock,

Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!

-- What do you think the parson found,

When he got up and stared around?

The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,

As if it had been to the mill and ground!

You see, of course, if you 're not a dunce,

How it went to pieces all at once,

All at once, and nothing first,

Just as bubbles do when they burst.

End of the wonderful one-hoss-shay.

Logic is logic. That's all I say. 



Reading light verse aloud is a great way to entertain (and slyly educate) children.  As a boy, my favorite was "The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay".  And my Dad used to recite "The Road-Song of the Bander-Log" as he carried me upstairs to bed.  At the age of seven, I found "The Mountain Whippoorwill" deliciously wicked with its refrain of "Hell's broke loose.  Hell's broke loose.  Hell's broke loose in Georgia."  And one rainy afternoon I entertained two ten-year-old boys in Harlem's General Grant Housing Project by reading them T. S. Eliot's "McCavity -- The Mystery Cat."

Here's the first verse of "The Road-Song of the Bander-Log" by Rudyard Kipling.  In The Jungle Book, it's the song the monkeys sing to themselves, and the verse that my Dad chanted to his monkey (me) as we went upstairs together:

Here we go in a flung festoon,

Half-way up to the jealous moon!

Don't you envy our pranceful bands?

Don't you wish you had extra hands?

Wouldn't you like if your tails were--so--

Curved in the shape of a Cupid's bow?

      Now you're angry, but--never mind,

      Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!


What was the educational impact of such verse?  Well, when it came to music my Dad and I both had imperfect pitch, but my hearing of this glorious light verse gave me perfect pitch in the rhythm and rhyme of the English language. And that's afflicted me for the rest of my life – inept writing in commercial jingles and church hymns has grated my ears for sixty-five years.

And I plan to pass along the same wonderful affliction to my grandchildren by reading them the same verses.


Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years -- except the light verse. They get to hear the verses while they're growing up.


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